The Social Contract

The Social Contract - The Social Contract Jean-Jacques...

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The Social Contract Jean-Jacques Rousseau About the author: Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) was born in Geneva, but did much of his work out of France. He is one the most influential philosophers of the Enlightenment and 18 th century. He first gained acclaim in 1750 for his work, A Discourse on the Science and Arts, which won an essay contest held by the Academy of Dijon. Rousseau’s piece, The Discourse on the Origin of Inequality , is the work that solidified him as a respected philosopher. Rousseau also immensely influenced Immanuel Kant’s view on ethics. His novel Julie or the New Heloise influenced the eighteenth century’s Romantic Naturalism movement. His greatest work on political philosophy is The Social Contract, published in 1762. The theme that remains prominent throughout Rousseau's work is the pursuit of finding a way to preserve human freedom in a world where humans are more and more dependent on one another for the fulfillment of their needs. The ultimate goal of The Social Contract is to theorize on the current state of most governments and outline the parameters of a fair, smooth-functioning society. Rousseau’s philosophical ideas on politics greatly influenced both the French and American revolutions. In this work, Rousseau discusses the ideal form of structure in a political community. He discredits the idea of monarchism, or the rule of many by one, and asserts that only a large group of people with similar ideals are entitled to the power of legislature. “Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains. One thinks himself
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This document was uploaded on 10/25/2011 for the course LSP 112 at DePaul.

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The Social Contract - The Social Contract Jean-Jacques...

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