Rousseau Jean-Jacques – From the Social Contract


Rousseau Jean-Jacques – The Social Contract or Principles of Political Law: A bold and revolutionary work, the Contrat Social (1762) is an extension of the reflection inaugurated in the Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality (1755). Starting from the observation that “Man is born free and everywhere he is in the irons”, Rousseau develops the key concepts of his political philosophy, namely popular sovereignty, the general will, freedom and equality before the law, and demonstrates in a masterly manner that only a social pact freely agreed by all assures the State its legitimacy: “So that the social pact is not a vain form, it tacitly contains this commitment which alone can give the force to others, that whoever refuses to obey the general will be constrained by the whole body: that which signifies nothing else than that it will be forced to be free; for such is the condition which gives every citizen to his country the guarantee of all personal dependence; a condition which constitutes the artifice and play of the political machine, and which alone renders legitimate the civil engagements, which otherwise would be absurd, tyrannical, and subject to the most enormous abuses. ”

The wind of protest that blows in these pages has helped to make this short treatise one of the founding texts of political modernity. Rousseau crosses the iron with the philosophers of Antiquity and the Renaissance as with those of his time; he stops at great length on the history of Rome and Athens, cites the cases of Venice and of many other great powers; but in so doing, he also draws from his personal experience arguments which lend to his demonstration a great force of conviction. To read or re-read the Social Contract, it is indeed aware that the influence of this universal work is not foreign to a certain local character, and that this major work might not have been quite what it is as if his author had not considered himself, above all else, as a citizen of Geneva: “Born a citizen of a free State, and a member of the sovereign, whatever influence my voice in public affairs may have, the right to To vote there is enough to impose the right to instruct me. Happy, whenever I meditate on governments, always find in my research new reasons to love that of my country! “

Sold By: Steven Kendy PIERRE