Rousseau’s Notion of the Primacy of the Collective


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Essay #: 061424
Total text length is 12,296 characters (approximately 8.5 pages).

Excerpts from the Paper

The beginning:
You cannot force people to be free: Rousseau’s notion of the primacy of the collective tramples on the freedoms of the individual
One of the most infamous, and provocative, passages in the Social Contract involves Rousseau’s insistence that, in order to realize the social contract he privileges above all else, it may be necessary for those who disobey the general will to be forced to be free. As far as Rousseau is concerned, the social contract is a blessed covenant in which contractors place their persons and all their power in common under the supreme direction of the general will so that law and order can be provided for all and anarchy can be thwarted. Although a noble undertaking in many ways, Rousseau’s social contract is deeply...
The end:
..... views or who have insights at odds with the majority – that entering into a social contract is an absurd bit of business.
All in all, Rousseau is wrong to believe that we can force people to be free: the use of force is an imposition and, since it is being used on those who freely dissent, it is really entirely opposed to the entire notion of freedom. When individuals are entirely subordinated to the community, then the individual does not exist in a meaningful sense – and obviously does not have any rights in a meaningful sense; that is not a characteristic of a free society.
Works Cited
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Basic Political Writings. Transl. Donald A. Cress, Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company, 1987.