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Le Contrat Social: ...Avec Les Notes de Tous Les Commentateurs...

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This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most important libraries around the world), and other notations in the work. This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work. As a reproduction of a historical artifact, this work may contain missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. Scholars believe, and we concur, that this work is important enough to be preserved, reproduced, and made generally available to the public. We appreciate your support of the preservation process, and thank you for being an important part of keeping this knowledge alive and relevant.


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This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most important libraries around the world), and other notations in the work. This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work. As a reproduction of a historical artifact, this work may contain missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. Scholars believe, and we concur, that this work is important enough to be preserved, reproduced, and made generally available to the public. We appreciate your support of the preservation process, and thank you for being an important part of keeping this knowledge alive and relevant.

30 review for Le Contrat Social: ...Avec Les Notes de Tous Les Commentateurs...

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    Du Contrat Social = Principes du droit Politique = The Social Contract = Principles of Political Rights, Jean-Jacques Rousseau The Social Contract, originally published as On the Social Contract; or, Principles of Political Rights by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, is a 1762 book in which Rousseau theorized about the best way to establish a political community in the face of the problems of commercial society, which he had already identified in his Discourse on Inequality (1754). The Social Contract Du Contrat Social = Principes du droit Politique = The Social Contract = Principles of Political Rights, Jean-Jacques Rousseau The Social Contract, originally published as On the Social Contract; or, Principles of Political Rights by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, is a 1762 book in which Rousseau theorized about the best way to establish a political community in the face of the problems of commercial society, which he had already identified in his Discourse on Inequality (1754). The Social Contract helped inspire political reforms or revolutions in Europe, especially in France. The Social Contract argued against the idea that monarchs were divinely empowered to legislate. Rousseau asserts that only the people, who are sovereign, have that all-powerful right. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز بیست و هشتم ماه فوریه سال 1974 میلادی ای‍ن‌ ک‍ت‍اب‌ در س‍ال‌ 1348 هجری خورشیدی، ب‍ا ت‍رج‍م‍ه‌: م‍ن‍وچ‍ه‍ر ک‍ی‍ا، ان‍ت‍ش‍ارات‌: دری‍ا و در س‍ال‌ 1345 هجری خورشیدی، ب‍ا ت‍رج‍م‍ه‌: ع‍ن‍ای‍ت‌ال‍ل‍ه‌ ش‍ک‍ی‍ب‍اپ‍ور، ان‍ت‍ش‍ارات‌: ف‍رخ‍ی‌؛ و در س‍ال‍ه‍ای‌ 1329 هجری خورشیدی تا سال 1347 هجری خورشیدی، با ترجمه: غلامحسین زیرک زاده، ت‍وس‍ط ان‍ت‍ش‍ارات‌ چ‍ه‍ر، م‍ن‍ت‍ش‍ر ش‍ده‌ اس‍ت‌ روسو در تدوین نظرات خود، علاوه بر پژوهشهای شخصی در عرصه‌ ی عمل و نظر، از دستاوردهای: «مونتنی»، «جان لاک»، و «هیوم» نیز بهره‌ برده است، تفکر سیاسی «روسو» بر دو پایه استوار است: نخست: «وضعیت طبیعی توسط جامعه مدنی تباه شده است.»؛ دوم: «جامعه‌ ی مدنی در صورتی قابل قبول و قابل دوام است، که براساس پیمان اجتماعی نهاده شده باشد.»؛ نقل از متن: «انسان آزاد آفریده شده است، اما همه‌ جا در بردگی به سر می‌برد. بعضی‌ها خود را صاحب اختیارِ دیگران می‌دانند، حال آن‌که خود از آن‌ها بد‌ترند. این تغییر چگونه صورت گرفته است؟ نمی‌دانم. چه چیزی می‌تواند این امر را مشروع جلوه دهد؟ تصور می‌کنم بتوانم به این پرسش پاسخ دهم». پایان نقل. ا. شربیانی

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lisa (Harmonybites)

    The one star rating does not mean I dont recommend reading The Social Contract. Everyone should. Its that important, that influential and reading this was certainly eye-opening. One star does not mean this was tedious, dry or difficult. In fact this treatise is not long, is easy to understand and can be read in a few hours. And Rousseau can certainly turn a phrase. Lots and lots thats quotable in this book. But I dont simply not like the book (which on Goodreads means one star) I absolutely The one star rating does not mean I don’t recommend reading The Social Contract. Everyone should. It’s that important, that influential and reading this was certainly eye-opening. One star does not mean this was tedious, dry or difficult. In fact this treatise is not long, is easy to understand and can be read in a few hours. And Rousseau can certainly turn a phrase. Lots and lots that’s quotable in this book. But I don’t simply not like the book (which on Goodreads means one star) I absolutely despise this book and everything it stands for. Leo Strauss called Machiavelli the “teacher of evil” and goodness knows I have nothing kind to say about Marx. But both feel clean and wholesome in comparison to Rousseau. Machiavelli at least is open about urging there is no place for morals in politics, but Rousseau is positively Orwellian. He begins the first chapter of Social Contract with the stirring worlds: Man is born free and everywhere is in chains. But though he speaks of liberty and democracy it’s clear that his ideal state as he defines it is totalitarian. Those who don’t want any part of his state, who won’t obey, should be “forced to be free.” Locke argued inalienable rights included life, liberty, and property; governments are instituted to secure those rights. For Rousseau, life, liberty and property are all things you give wholly to the state “retaining no individual rights.” Rousseau states: Whoever refuses to obey the general will shall be compelled to do so by the whole body... the social contract gives the body politic absolute power over all its members... when the prince says to him: “It is expedient for the State that you should die,” he ought to die. Even Rousseau thought his ideal system couldn’t work in large territories. He ideally wanted direct democracy, with all citizens meeting in assembly such as in the ancient city-state of Athens, not representative democracy, which he doesn’t see as true democracy. (And the larger the state, the more absolute in its powers and more autocratic the government should be lest it fall into selfish anarchy.) Alissa Ardito says in the Introduction to my edition that: “Politics... is also about language, talking, negotiating, arguing; and for that Rousseau had no need and little patience. The goal in The Social Contract is always about consensus, and in the end one suspects what Rousseau finally wanted was silence.” You cannot have liberty or democracy while shutting up and shutting down anyone who dissents from the “general will.” And then there’s Rousseau’s urging of a civil religion, where one literally worships the state. What you get then is the obscenity of a state as the “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” whose only nod to democracy is in the name, and where its leader takes on a quasi-religious status. Can I see any good in this treatise? I can see the form the United States took in the discussion of a mix between monarchy (President), aristocracy (Senate, Supreme Court) and democracy (Congress) and checks and balances between them. But such features are also discussed in Locke’s Second Treatise of Government and in Montesquieu’s The Spirit of the Laws, both of which predate The Social Contract. In fact, Rousseau's categories of government can even trace its roots to Aristotle. So, what good I can see in it is hardly original. Well, and The Social Contract did argue for sovereignty being lodged in the people rather than a Divine Right of Kings--it’s supposed to have inspired the French Revolution, and its cry of “liberty, equality, fraternity.” If so, it’s easier to understand why the French Revolution turned into the Reign of Terror. I do consider this a must-read, and I’m glad I read it. It’s enlightening, like turning over a rock to see all the nasty things that were hiding underneath.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Fergus

    My friend Ahmad is right - this is an important (and not dry!) book that we all Need to Revisit! Remember when Freedom was a glorious ideal - a fresh, untrammelled new territory to explore at will? Look back! Think of Thomas Paine in America, Edmund Burke in England, Rousseaus bright confrères among the philosophes - all of them trumpeted the Dawn of a Fresh New Day. Of course - all of our own early days were filled with its fresh air! And then, back then - the early days of the Enlightenment, My friend Ahmad is right - this is an important (and not dry!) book that we all Need to Revisit! Remember when Freedom was a glorious ideal - a fresh, untrammelled new territory to explore at will? Look back! Think of Thomas Paine in America, Edmund Burke in England, Rousseau’s bright confrères among the philosophes - all of them trumpeted the Dawn of a Fresh New Day. Of course - all of our own early days were filled with its fresh air! And then, back then - the early days of the Enlightenment, that powerhouse of political ideology that conceived the Golden Image of TRUE democracy. The world was coming of age! What happened to us all to spoil all that? Well, the world grew older and so did we! Jean-Jacques Rousseau, though, all appearances to the contrary, was at heart a Golden Ager. Whatever we may think, his philosophy was not Utopian. Rousseau just wanted to return to the Age of Innocence, like Auden - though perhaps a little bit more naïvely than Wystan, and to universal brotherhood. Which serves him well here. Oh, those lost ideals! Yes, he was every bit as naïve as we were in our early years.. and I was a lot - probably more so than a lot of you, too. Still, he never stopped HOPING, in spite of all the bullies and naysayers! But like Jean-Jacques, I know my teenaged springtime was anything but sound. The serpent had long since reached the centre of the apple. Rousseau - like me - attempted extensive damage control, and the galloping extrêmes of his writing belie that constantly thwarted rationalization. He was perhaps successful, at least outwardly, though inwardly most of his life was lived on tenterhooks. But now maybe you, like so many of US old Boomers, remain a partial stranger in this brave new world we see around us. And we can never go back to the Golden Age, it seems. Why? Because we all have seen the enemy and he is us. Because he is ALWAYS there with us, even - in disguise - in these faraway times. You know, we moderns grew up faster because we were in sync with Accelerated Modern Time, and because the serpent is in plain view these days. Caught in that music, all neglect Monuments of undying intellect. So, to so many of us, Jean-Jacques fades back into the chipped and forgotten statuary of the Enlightenment. But MAYBE HIS Hope is still a valid GROWNUP option. And as for the actual Rousseau: What he was, he was. What he is fated to become Depends on us. Don’t you see? Just because we’ve all been hurt and have fallen from grace is no excuse for our omnipresent modern cynicism. And as Auden’s poetic words can also apply to the way we see this tarnished 18th-century idol, perhaps Rousseau’s historical fate, along with Democracy’s and the World’s, also depends on US. Our attitudes. Our emotions. We’re sad sacks when we should be can-do-er’s. And if we’re as idealistic as he was, these things will depend on having a grown-up sense of HOPE! It’s time we revisited that Golden Ideal. There IS still room for goodness, decency and hope in this fallen world... if we keep one ear open to the postmodernist mindset. And The Social Contract has all of those virtues in Spades.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Warwick

    It is always an evil, opines Rousseau near the end of this treatise, to unite several towns in one nation, and you think hang on that's all nations, isn't it? Except, perhaps aha! for the Swiss republics like Rousseau's own native Geneva, where state and city were coterminous and political theories could be tested and discarded like strains of bacteria in a petri-dish. It must have been a blow when the Genevans turned against him and burnt his books en masse. And they were not his last ‘It is always an evil,’ opines Rousseau near the end of this treatise, ‘to unite several towns in one nation,’ and you think – hang on – that's all nations, isn't it? Except, perhaps – aha! – for the Swiss republics like Rousseau's own native Geneva, where state and city were coterminous and political theories could be tested and discarded like strains of bacteria in a petri-dish. It must have been a blow when the Genevans turned against him and burnt his books en masse. And they were not his last critics. For Bertrand Russell, ‘Hitler is an outcome of Rousseau,’ and the top review on Goodreads takes violent exception to him as well. These extreme reactions seem very surprising to me, perhaps because I am not well read in political theory. In his vision of citizens who willingly subsume themselves within a state, they see the seeds of totalitarianism; but Rousseau's point is rather to identify the qualities that would make such a state so appealing in the first place. Those qualities are, for the most part, fairly sensible and inspiring. He argues that sovereignty rests exclusively in the people; that slavery is invalid; that there can be no state religion, nor any religious intolerance; that inequality of wealth must be minimised; that private interest groups must be kept out of politics; and that there is no justification for any divinely-appointed monarch or king: ‘All legitimate government is “republican”.’ Rousseau's idea of democracy is a very strict one; for him, it's something that constrains all the people to come together to make decisions directly – occasions on which ‘the person of the humblest citizen is as sacred and inviolable as that of the highest magistrate, for in the presence of the represented there is no longer any representation’. Stirring, although perhaps impractical. But Rousseau is not impressed by systems under which citizens outsource their decision-making powers to elected representatives. The English people believes itself to be free; it is gravely mistaken; it is free only during the election of Members of Parliament; as soon as the Members are elected, the people is enslaved; it is nothing. Of course, as recent experience has shown, England does occasionally have popular referenda. And Rousseau goes on: In the brief moments of its freedom, the English people makes such a use of that freedom that it deserves to lose it. Well, yes. The tiny chapters, combined with Rousseau's light, often aphoristic style, make this a far easier and more enjoyable read than I had been expecting. And overall I was amazed (given his dubious ‘Swissness’) to see quite how much of Rousseau's politics has survived into modern-day Switzerland – the direct democracy, the powerful quasi-city-states, the military service, the low taxation. If I had read this book when I lived in England or France, I might have supposed a lot of it to be purely theoretical; here, where all my neighbours and colleagues are voting on laws every couple of weeks, it's visible all around you.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Luís C.

    Stylistically painful enough to read ... but undeniably indispensable to anyone seeking to understand the philosophical foundations of the republic, as it is thought in France. Liberty, Equality, Fraternity ... There is much talk in the first two terms of this The Social Contract. Everything is almost: the separation of powers, the importance of the legislative power, the secularism (rather punchy). Rousseau anticipates even very current evils such as "populism" (asserting that the people are Stylistically painful enough to read ... but undeniably indispensable to anyone seeking to understand the philosophical foundations of the republic, as it is thought in France. Liberty, Equality, Fraternity ... There is much talk in the first two terms of this The Social Contract. Everything is almost: the separation of powers, the importance of the legislative power, the secularism (rather punchy). Rousseau anticipates even very current evils such as "populism" (asserting that the people are always right BUT they may be led to vote bad laws if they are misinformed) or the possible negative influence of the lobbies. The basis of Rousseau's reflection is man in the state of nature, which should not be considered in historical terms, nor in the myth of the good savage ... It is above all a theoretical model: Is the man as he would be if he were not a social being. A being not yet distorted by society but also whose potential is not developed. Rousseau thus states his question: "To find a form of association by which each one unites to all obey only to himself and remains as free as before." He responds to this by the social contract which, in order to function, presupposes the alienation of the individual from the "natural rights" (the right to support oneself by his own means) in exchange for civil rights guaranteed by laws that promulgate the individual as a citizen. Thus, if man loses his natural freedom there, he gains social freedom and equality (since equality in law must make it possible to erase innate differences). A truly coherent text, always modern (except for a few passages such as the correlation between the type of territory and the type of government). Nevertheless, a text that evokes a model implicitly based on the active participation of the citizens (not yet citizens, must not mess) to the vote and the quality of political debates (ie political staff). Would Mr. Rousseau have left notes somewhere approaching what must be done when one has (less and less) one and the other, or will it be necessary to resolve to rely on our imagination?

  6. 5 out of 5

    Hussam Elkhatib

    Great Philosophies Philosophy implies thinking; and thus, indicates a certain type of thought. That is exactly what this book has accomplished combined three books that summarized a brief view of numerous philosophers ways of perceiving the world. Aside from all that, Social Contract theory was the heart and soul of this phenomenal manuscript. Should it be followed, its practices would eliminate quite a few of the useless egoism and its selfish consequential behaviors. If youd like a moment of Great Philosophies Philosophy implies thinking; and thus, indicates a certain type of thought. That is exactly what this book has accomplished — combined three books that summarized a brief view of numerous philosophers’ ways of perceiving the world. Aside from all that, Social Contract theory was the heart and soul of this phenomenal manuscript. Should it be followed, its practices would eliminate quite a few of the useless egoism and its selfish consequential behaviors. If you’d like a moment of constructive peaceful meditation into a realm of philosophical speculations, this book would definitely suffice the purpose. Highly recommended!

  7. 4 out of 5

    João Fernandes

    'Man was born free, and he is everywhere in chains' Rousseau does give great leaps in logic sometimes, but his ideals are solid and have refaced human society since the French Revolution. A must read for its historical importance and ideas on personal freedom versus societal duties.

  8. 5 out of 5

    David Sarkies

    Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains 20 September 2010 This is how Rousseau, an 18th Century philosopher, opens his treatise on good government. The writing is not so much about a good form of government, but rather how government should run to be the best for the people. Of some of the ideas he proposes is that the law giver and the sovereign are two different people. To have the ability to make and execute the laws in the same hands is repugnant to Rousseau. In fact, though he does Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains 20 September 2010 This is how Rousseau, an 18th Century philosopher, opens his treatise on good government. The writing is not so much about a good form of government, but rather how government should run to be the best for the people. Of some of the ideas he proposes is that the law giver and the sovereign are two different people. To have the ability to make and execute the laws in the same hands is repugnant to Rousseau. In fact, though he does support monarchies, he goes to pains to explain how the monarch should not have the power to make the laws, only to execute them. However, being a treatise on how to have good government alongside freedom, really comes down to the tenant at the beginning of chapter 15. The crux of this argument is that as soon as citizens cease to take on board their duty (which is to participate in government) and to pay somebody else to do it for them is the first step to slavery, and thus the sentence 'use money thus, and you will soon have chains' is what I believe to be the pivotal statement in this book. Obviously the title 'the social contract' is about the contract that exists between everybody in a society, and it is this contract that governs how we conduct ourselves, and being involved in the government beyond election day is an important aspect of our role as citizens. Unfortunately the way our system works, many of us prefer to turn off as soon as we walk out of the election booth, saying 'I've done my duty, now I can go and grab a sausage on the way out and go back to playing Fallout 4'. While there are avenues to influence government, many of us have little opportunity to actually do so beyond paying a visit to our local member of parliament (who pretty much spews out the typical party line anyway). Rousseau is quite idealistic, but his concept of property is worth mentioning: there is no concept of property. The only reason that property exists is because at some time in the past somebody put a fence up around their land and said 'this is mine'. Thus this person alienates everybody but themselves from this land, and it is through their strength that they maintain this alienation. It is interesting that there still are societies out there that do not have the same concept of property as us westerners do, and ironically governments don't like it. This is very much the case with the Aboriginals in Central Australia. They basically want to live the way they have lived for thousands of years, and the government doesn't want that to happen. They have no concept of ownership in the way that we have it. However there is one tactic that the west has used time and time again to undermine an alien culture – alcohol.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Zico Ziko

    Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    The Social Contract, along with Rousseau's Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, is one of the classics of political and social thought. I'm glad I have finally read it. Rousseau sets out to answer the question of whether there can be a legitimate government, and what conditions a legitimate government must meet. At the beginning of Book I, he writes: "I mean to inquire if, in the civil order, there can be any sure and legitimate rule of administration, men being taken as they are and laws as The Social Contract, along with Rousseau's Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, is one of the classics of political and social thought. I'm glad I have finally read it. Rousseau sets out to answer the question of whether there can be a legitimate government, and what conditions a legitimate government must meet. At the beginning of Book I, he writes: "I mean to inquire if, in the civil order, there can be any sure and legitimate rule of administration, men being taken as they are and laws as they might be. In this inquiry I shall endeavor always to unite what right sanctions with what is prescribed by interest, in order that justice and utility may in no case be divided." Rousseau rejects the Hobbesian view that political authority can be concentrated in a single individual, but he has a similar view to Hobbes about the nature of sovereign authority: "... the social order is a sacred right which is the basis of all other rights. Nevertheless, this right does not come from nature, and must therefore be founded on conventions." Rousseau asserts that under a legitimate government, people are as free as they would be in the state of nature. What individuals lose from the transition from the state of nature is "...natural liberty, which is bounded only by the strength of the individual. What they gain is civil liberty, which is limited by the general will." The general will is the collective will of the citizens. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Rousseau has a helpful summary of the concept of the general will: "Rousseau’s account of the general will is marked by unclarities and ambiguities that have attracted the interest of commentators since its first publication. The principal tension is between a democratic conception, where the general will is simply what the citizens of the state have decided together in their sovereign assembly, and an alternative interpretation where the general will is the transcendent incarnation of the citizens’ common interest that exists in abstraction from what any of them actually wants (Bertram 2012). Both views find some support in Rousseau’s texts, and both have been influential." Rousseau suggests that direct democracy (along the lines of ancient Athens) is better than representative democracy, though he also says that not all societies, maybe not even most, are capable of having a direct democracy. He writes in Book II, Chapter III ("Whether the General Will is Fallible") that it would be better if voters "had no communication with one another" when they voted, an early example of a proposal for the secret ballot. In the very next sentence, he says that the general will becomes compromised when "... factions arise, and partial associations are formed at the expense of great associations." Shades of Federalist #10 here (by James Madison), except that Madison is quick to point out that factions are inevitable, at least in a free society, something Rousseau seems to miss ("liberty is to faction as air is to fire" and all that). If you are reading this book, it is definitely worth reading Federalist #10 alongside Rousseau, especially since it is only five pages long. I have not read The Social Contract before (or rather, I tried to read it and didn't get very far). I have read the Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, years ago, so I remembered some of his ideas about moral psychology, which are not discussed as much in this book. The Social Contract can mostly stand on its own, but I recommend at least reading a quick overview of the earlier work before reading this book.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    My first contact with the Social Contract transpired back in those doldrums which is usually just dumped into a general catch-all called teenage. It was profound, it was moving and enlightening, so naturally I didnt know anyone else I could discuss this book with as nobody else seems to be pondering the bigger things in life; my classmates and peers were completely useless in my hopes to talk about this work, and the societal elders I was familiar with were equally ignorant of the importance of My first contact with the Social Contract transpired back in those doldrums which is usually just dumped into a general catch-all called teenage. It was profound, it was moving and enlightening, so naturally I didn’t know anyone else I could discuss this book with as nobody else seems to be pondering the bigger things in life; my classmates and peers were completely useless in my hopes to talk about this work, and the societal elders I was familiar with were equally ignorant of the importance of this timeless masterpiece (and the latter may be more disturbing as these people were generally given the title of teacher). On the few occasions where I’ve been afforded the opportunity to invoke the name of this classic, most people think I’m spouting gibberish and have lost my f@cking mind; of course these are usually very drunken instances, such as the time I went totally apeshit on a hotel pool deck. I usually keep discussion of this book to a minimum these days, only shrieking “This is a breach of Social Contract!” when being attacked or otherwise having my life or livelihood threatened; this fails to convey the importance of Rousseau’s legacy. This grand, conceptual book also happens to be one of the last things worth a wad of zebra jit to come out of France, and though most scholars will be quick to note that the thoughts contained within were instrumental to the advent of the French Revolution, nobody seems to give it mention for turning about a dozen kids into lifelong socialists every year; a truly remarkable feat in a diseased, gluttonous, avaricious, cesspool like 1990s America. All I can offer about the book is this: most people, the masses of simpletons clogging up the works and forward progress of the world at large, are simply not ready for this book. Luckily, Rousseau and his Social Contract don’t play that weak shit; this was written simply because Jean-Jacques had the foresight to recognize something is perverting the ties that bind men and something had better be done about it before everyone is swept into a cataclysmic societal vacuum which none dare wish for; civil unrest and entropy spiraling the better part of a billion people into an Armageddon-like madness. The days of Apocalypse. Ragnorak. But enough of that banter, this book succeeds because the debated subject is social structure and the proper rule of the people while still managing to keep some semblance of individual nature within it; the unthinkable task of creating an ideal government. The book isn’t perfect, and I do believe it actually strives to be, which can be a deterrent at points; nothing is worse than hearing an acolyte of some great truth expound upon something which just isn’t correct. We can leave that by the wayside, for the foundation for Rousseau’s bothersome suggestions is solid and worthy of respect. Fully deserving inclusion as one of Pengiun’s heralded ‘Great Ideas’ series, and as a sidenote, not only is this odd-sized paperback packaging the housing of such a phenomenal work, but the edition itself is f@cking gorgeous, contrasting in bold blue and white (while not even being boldly colored), and an incredible debossed styling.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    "The average man of each new generation has said to himself more clearly and consciously than his predecessor: 'My neighbor is not my enemy, but my friend, and I am his, if we would but mutually recognize the fact. We help each other to a better, fuller, happier living; and this service might be greatly increased if we would cease to restrict, hamper, and oppress each other. Why can we not agree to let each live his own life, neither of us transgressing the limit that separates our "The average man of each new generation has said to himself more clearly and consciously than his predecessor: 'My neighbor is not my enemy, but my friend, and I am his, if we would but mutually recognize the fact. We help each other to a better, fuller, happier living; and this service might be greatly increased if we would cease to restrict, hamper, and oppress each other. Why can we not agree to let each live his own life, neither of us transgressing the limit that separates our individualities?' It is by this reasoning that mankind is approaching the real social contract, which is not, as Rousseau thought, the origin of society, but rather the outcome of a long social experience, the fruit of its follies and disasters. It is obvious that this contract, this social law, developed to its perfection, excludes all aggression, all violation of equality and liberty, all invasion of every kind." -Benjamin Ricketson Tucker, 1890

  13. 5 out of 5

    Julie Rylie

    This amazingly inspiring book starts to the following sentence "Man was born free, and he is everywhere in chains. Those who think themselves the masters of others are indeed greater slaves than they" More insights: Man's first law is to watch over his own preservation; his first care he owes to himself; and as soon as he reaches the age of reason, he becomes the only judge of the best means to preserve himself; he becomes his own master. But if there are slaves by nature, it is only because there This amazingly inspiring book starts to the following sentence "Man was born free, and he is everywhere in chains. Those who think themselves the masters of others are indeed greater slaves than they" More insights: Man's first law is to watch over his own preservation; his first care he owes to himself; and as soon as he reaches the age of reason, he becomes the only judge of the best means to preserve himself; he becomes his own master. But if there are slaves by nature, it is only because there has been slavery against nature. Force made the first slaves; and their cowardice perpetuates their slavery. The strongest man is never strong enough to be master all the time, unless he transforms force into right and obedience into duty. Force is a physical power; I do not see how its effects could produce morality. To yield to force is an act of prudence. In what sense can it be a moral duty? If an individual can alienate his freedom and become the slave of a master, why may not a whole people alienate its freedom and become the subject of a king? To speak of a man giving himself in return for nothing is to speak of what is absurd, unthinkable; Even if each individual can alienate himself, he cannot alienate his children. To renounce to freedom is to renounce one's humanity, one's rights as a man and equally one's duties. There is no possible quid pro quo for one who renounces everything; indeed such renunciation is contrary to man's very nature; for if you take away all freedom of will, you strip a man's actions of all moral significance. Men are not naturally enemies. It is conflicts over things, not quarrels between men which constitute war, and the state of war cannot arise from mere personal relations, but only from property relations. War then, is not a relation between men, but between states. How to find a form of association which will defend the person and goods of each member with the collective force and all, and under which each individual, while uniting himself with the others, obeys no one but himself, and remains as free as before. The total alienation by each associate of himself and all his rights to the whole community. Thus, in the first place, as every individual gives himself absolutely, the conditions are the same for all, and precisely because they are the same for all, it is in no one's interest to make the conditions onerous for others. The "right of the first occupant", although more real than the "right of the strongest", does not become a true right until the institution of property (...) Thus we see how the "right of the first occupant", weak as it is in the state of nature, compels in political society the respect of all men. What this right makes one aware of is less what belongs to others than what does not belong to oneself. It may also happen that men begin to unite before they possess anything, and spreading over a territory large enough for them all. The general will alone can direct the forces of the state in accordance with that end which the state has been established to achieve - the common good. If a people promises simply and solely to obey, it dissolves itself by that very pledge; it ceases to be a people; for once there is a master, there is no longer a sovereign, and the body politic is therefore annihilated. The general will is always rightful and always tends to public good (...) The people is never corrupted, but it is often misled; and only then does it seem to will what is bad. (...) But if we take away from these same wills, the pluses and minuses which cancel each other out, the balance which remains is the general will. Laws are acts of the general will; no longer ask if the prince is above the law, because he is a part of the state; no longer ask if the law can be unjust, because no one is unjust to himself; and no longer ask how we can be both free and subject to laws, for the laws are but registers of what we ourselves desire. Even so, we must not conclude from this, with Warburton, that religion and politics have the same purpose among men; it is simply that at birth of nations, the one serves as the instrument of the other. Nations, like men, are teachable only in their youth; with age they become incorrigible. Since it is the power of the state alone which makes the freedom of its members, it is from this second relationship that Civil Laws are born. A people who never misused the powers of government would never misuse independence, and a people which always governed itself well would not need to be governed. Luxury deprives the state of all its citizens by making some the slaves of others and all the slaves of opinion. Better freedom with danger than peace with slavery. A little disturbance gives vigour to the soul, and what really makes the species prosper is not peace but freedom. I call the usurper of the sovereign power a "despot". The tyrant is one who intrudes, contrary to law, to govern according to the law; the despot is one who puts himself above the law. Thus the tyrant need to be a despot, but a despot is always a tyrant. The body politic, no less than the body of a man, begins to die as soon as it is born, and bears within itself the causes of its own destruction. Use money thus, and you will soon have chains. The word "finance" is the word of a slave. As soon as someone says of the business of the state - "What does it matter to me?" - then the state must be reckoned lost. Everyone is perfectly free to do what does not injure others. It is the sovereign's function to determine the articles, not strictly as religious dogmas, but as expressions of social conscience, without which it is impossible to be either a good citizen or a loyal subject.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Bruce

    I chose to read Rousseaus work at this time because Thomas Carlyle, in his monumental history The French Revolution, implied that Rousseaus thinking provided an important philosophical underpinning to the intellectual movement and the events that eventuated in France during the 1780s and 1790s. The Social Contract continues and develops Rousseaus thinking begun in his Second Discourse. Critical to Rousseaus ideas is his conviction that man in a state of nature is in an idyllic condition that is I chose to read Rousseau’s work at this time because Thomas Carlyle, in his monumental history The French Revolution, implied that Rousseau’s thinking provided an important philosophical underpinning to the intellectual movement and the events that eventuated in France during the 1780’s and 1790’s. The Social Contract continues and develops Rousseau’s thinking begun in his Second Discourse. Critical to Rousseau’s ideas is his conviction that man in a state of nature is in an idyllic condition that is lost in communal society, thus leading to the necessity of optimally crafting a social agreement that accomplishes the objectives for which man sacrifices his original liberty for other benefits. This view of natural man is clearly antithetical to the ideas of other thinkers of the time, eg Thomas Hobbes, but it appealed to important Enlightenment thinkers and political actors, although to transpose these theories directly to France’s situation requires some selectivity and strained interpretation of what Rousseau actually said. For example, Rousseau explicitly stated that for a large and diverse country, which France certainly was, monarchy is the only form of government that can successfully function. Perhaps what most appealed to French radicals was Rousseau’s emphasis on a fundamental equality of all citizens, the active voice and acquiescence of all citizens to the laws and policies of the State, and his assertion that the populace has the right and even obligation to change the government if it fails in its willingness or ability to govern as the citizens as a whole wish, ideas developed by such other thinkers as John Locke. This obviously vastly oversimplifies Rousseau’s thinking and the subtleties of his influence upon French revolutionaries, but perhaps it gives a flavor of some of the salient issues. A slow and careful reading of Rousseau’s work inevitably raises insights and questions going far beyond this particular unique historical situation, and the thoughtful reader will find himself pausing frequently to assimilate, question, argue and compare Rousseau’s ideas with his own understandings and with historical situations far afield and far different both temporally and geographically. This is a book, a short book, well worth reading.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jafar Isbarov

    "It would take gods to give men laws." The Social Contract is an attempt by Rousseau to compose his ideal of social compact. Its text is divided into four books. First book introduces the social contract within historical context, and advocates for it. Second book outlines the principles of the social contract without going into particulars of some government, while third book does its reverse: it explains the different forms government, their distinctions and common properties. Fourth book reads "It would take gods to give men laws." The Social Contract is an attempt by Rousseau to compose his ideal of social compact. Its text is divided into four books. First book introduces the social contract within historical context, and advocates for it. Second book outlines the principles of the social contract without going into particulars of some government, while third book does its reverse: it explains the different forms government, their distinctions and common properties. Fourth book reads more like a survey into political life of Roman Republic, although the main theme here is development of a proper government. Having just devoured a few of Platonic dialogues, I cannot help noticing the contrast between Rousseau's reckless polemic and Socrates', well, not-so-reckless debates. Not necessarily to my delight, The Social Contract strengthened a particular belief of mine: political essays, unlike scientific and rigorously philosophic works, do not initiate or halt a movement. They can shape it at best, or merely represent it. Rousseau was the first author I had expected to challenge this position, but he very easily fell into the latter category. I certainly lack some historical context here, but I still believe that little in this book is a revolution in human thought, or novelty to clamor of political theorists of eighteenth century. On the positive side, this book challenged my bias against political philosophy. I used to criticize ethical and political philosophy on similar grounds, but gradually taking off with both fields, I find myself under tighter influence of underappreciated thinkers. Underappreciated by me, that is. Apart from its historical significance, The Social Contract turned out to be useful in an unexpected way. It serves as an excellent expository work on political philosophy. It is more of an introduction, though, and I suspect reader might remain biased or even misinformed on the topic, unless (s)he reads more up-to-date works. And that is exactly what I am planning to do.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sotiris Makrygiannis

    Surely we need a new social contract, an update to the old one. The new one should go beyond the agricultural and industrial revolution and cover the 3rd and 4rd revolution (tech and genetics). Basically one should read first Plato Republic before reading this book plus Utopia ,then is easier to understand the context and from where he got inspiration

  17. 5 out of 5

    C

    I am a huge fan of Rousseaus Discourse on Inequality, and was hoping to appreciate this book just as much. There is a telling irony in that in the former text, Rousseau sees civilization as incapable of being repaired, and the source of most of the problems of inequality through wealth and politics. Private property is an overall pariah to him, which ought not to exist. As Rousseau got older he seems to have changed his mind a bit, and tempered that anarcho-primitvism. In the Social Contract we I am a huge fan of Rousseau’s Discourse on Inequality, and was hoping to appreciate this book just as much. There is a telling irony in that in the former text, Rousseau sees civilization as incapable of being repaired, and the source of most of the problems of inequality through wealth and politics. Private property is an overall pariah to him, which ought not to exist. As Rousseau got older he seems to have changed his mind a bit, and tempered that anarcho-primitvism. In the Social Contract we see Rousseau setting himself the task, he would have once found impossible: developing a legitimate state, in the interest of the sovereign, that constantly develops towards equality, and not away from it. Unfortunately we are given zero insight into how the old ideology of the corrupt states, and rotten civilization are to be overcome at the moment of developing this grandiose social contract; this is a serious problem of praxis, probably not fully taken up until Gramsci. Now it is worth pointing that Rousseau’s contract is significantly more radical, or left-wing, than anything Locke, Hegel, or Hobbes proposed. Rousseau does see excess property as a problem (unlike Hegel), and unlike Locke, Rousseau does see the origin of property as corrupting, and not beneficial. Moreover, Rousseau categorically rejects the idea of slavery, and a wage slave. Locke doesn’t touch upon the former, and in a single line in his entire Treatise, says a wage slave is A-OK. Given the overall momentum of the Treatise, it’s a perplexing passage. Rousseau asserts that labor ought to create products for itself and some excess for the community (so long as the community is doing the same), but not for private owners to capitalize on. Rousseau believes government ought to work for the general will of the sovereign, and the sovereign ought only to meet and conduct legislative that serves the interest of the general will. The general will is to be distinguished from the particular will, and an example of healthcare should suffice. It is the general will that each of us ought to have health coverage, i.e., because each of us desires particularly and also generally, and our desires ought to be towards equality. The particular will would desire health care, and if it comes at a cost to the general population, it ceases to be a product for and by the general will. I.e., I start a health care corporation so I get free benefits, and my family gets free benefits, but all my customers pay excess in premiums and co pays. This is the very the system that we have come to live in, where we are “free” to “purchase” in the “free market.” Rousseau would roll in his grave and point out the lunacy of atomizing society into particular wills in competition with one another, as a true travesty, acting against the general will. Although all these points are correct, or at least I appreciate most of them, the book still deserves 3 stars for a few reasons. There is certainly a tyrannical streak in Rousseau, of supporting the death penalty, and demanding people be “free” by “force” and “execution.” Moreover, Rousseau, like most social contract theorist, fails to consider the consequences of a minority who at first accepts the direction of the government, even if it votes against him constantly, to at a future date, resign his participation from a government he can no longer identify with; due to gradual change. Socrates made the same absurd point in I believe the Crito. Also Rousseau at times is extremely contradictory, on one page arguing against tyranny, on another vesting individuals with tyrannical amounts of power; or demanding we are all free on one page, and on another that we are enslaved (at the same time). His notions of democracy are not properly fleshed out, and he believes one single law giver ought to bestow the contract in the communities’ interest. While at the same time believing no human is capable of developing a lasting constitution. He implores us on one page to generate a government of everlasting and perennial general will; while on another saying no government whatsoever can avoid receding into tyranny and despotism. His logic is frequently atrocious, and entirely emotional. This isn’t inherently bad, emotion has its place in guiding reason, but do not present logical formulas as logical, when they are in fact entirely emotional. Be candid. Also, there’s a constant reliance on appealing to authority –Grotius- as whatever he says must be true, when Rousseau decides to appeal to him. Still, if one finds themselves reading Locke, Hegel, and Hobbes, or Rand and Hayak, maybe even Novack, they ought to temper themselves with a good dosage of Rousseau.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    'The word 'finance' is the word of a slave; it is unknown in the true republic.' I would've chosen this line as the quotable motto of The Social Contract instead of 'chains'.. Chapter 11 of Book III 'The Death of the Body Politic' stood out for me, and a surprise to realize, that 'If we wish, then, to set up a lasting constitution, let us not dream of making it eternal.' 'And although even the best constitution will come to an end, it will do so later than any other, unless some unforseen hazard 'The word 'finance' is the word of a slave; it is unknown in the true republic.' I would've chosen this line as the quotable motto of The Social Contract instead of 'chains'.. Chapter 11 of Book III 'The Death of the Body Politic' stood out for me, and a surprise to realize, that 'If we wish, then, to set up a lasting constitution, let us not dream of making it eternal.' 'And although even the best constitution will come to an end, it will do so later than any other, unless some unforseen hazard fells it before its time.' Why this was a shock to me is because I naturally thought of the American Constitution and when I stood in the Lincoln Memorial reading the inscription around the walls surrounding the Lincoln Statue. Book III Chapter 4. Democracy, 'Nothing is more dangerous in public affairs than the influence of private interests, and the abuse of the law by the government is a lesser evil than that corruption of the legislator which inevitably results from the pursuit of private interests.' Rousseau saved the best till last, Book IV Chapter 8 The Civil Religion. Stated so clearly and irrefutable.

  19. 5 out of 5

    SeRRo

    The idea of a social contract theory came into being before Jean Jacques Rousseau. Yet the Frenchman brought it to another level in his masterly book. Rousseau believed that people should be forced to be free. For instance people decide what is best for themselves only when they act collectively. As a society agrees on a specific general will this has to be obeyed by everybody else. Thus people disobeying the law, do wrong for themselves because law does not limit our freedoms but in fact The idea of a social contract theory came into being before Jean Jacques Rousseau. Yet the Frenchman brought it to another level in his masterly book. Rousseau believed that people should be forced to be free. For instance people decide what is best for themselves only when they act collectively. As a society agrees on a specific general will this has to be obeyed by everybody else. Thus people disobeying the law, do wrong for themselves because law does not limit our freedoms but in fact represent the expression of freedom itself. This classical republicanism is an interesting interpretation of social contract, but it doesn't mean necessarily that we have to agree with it.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Wayne

    PRE-READ: WAS ROUSSEAU EVER AWARE OF THIS???!!!??? "We, who are just as good as you, Swear to you who are no better than ourselves, To accept you as our king and sovereign lord Provided you observe all our liberties and laws But if not, NOT." The sheer audacity and self-confidence of this declaration never ceases to jump out and seize me by throat and heart.I first read it in 1970 in Stephen Clissold's book "Spain", page 57 and copied it into my book of quotes which presently rests in my lap. PRE-READ: WAS ROUSSEAU EVER AWARE OF THIS???!!!??? "We, who are just as good as you, Swear to you who are no better than ourselves, To accept you as our king and sovereign lord Provided you observe all our liberties and laws But if not, NOT." The sheer audacity and self-confidence of this declaration never ceases to jump out and seize me by throat and heart.I first read it in 1970 in Stephen Clissold's book "Spain", page 57 and copied it into my book of quotes which presently rests in my lap. Clissold aptly described it as a "grudging oath". I never forgot the rhythm and gist of it. But I did forget that I had copied it down. So a few years ago while reading Robert Hughes' "Barcelona", when I came across it again, I relived that original thrill.I'd bought the book for my nephew who was going to reside in that city on a 3 month's art residency and hoped he too would be seized by it. It is the Catalan-Aragonese Oath of Allegiance to the king, which predated the Magna Carta by 100 years. It was sworn to the king by the Justicia Mayor and surely the king must have quivered in his right royal shoes as it was growled at him. However there was still a need for Rousseau's Social Contract of 1762. And its opening words are just as memorable for their rhythm and message: "Man was born free, but everywhere he is in chains." The Bible, that blasted classic of antiquity, had been used to oppress the masses with its belief in the divine right of kings.It took bloody revolution in England, France and finally Russia before social contracts could be established. But almost immediately the old regime was reasserting itself. The new dominant ideology of Europe, the Nation State, was soon subsuming and repressing the cultural differences within it. But this development was summed up quite early by Samuel Johnson with his observation that patriotism was the last resort of the scoundrel. We walk a tightrope and to keep aright requires constant vigilance.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ensiform

    translated and with an intro by Lester Crocker I dont know what to make of this. Theres a lot in here thats factually wrong (such as Rousseaus view of the progression of governmental systems through history) or contrary to common sense. And there are views that did not foresee modern communication abilities (types of government are dictated by country size, so, he argues, democracy cannot work in a large state). But many of the ideas are intriguing: the General Will, which is always right and is translated and with an intro by Lester Crocker I don’t know what to make of this. There’s a lot in here that’s factually wrong (such as Rousseau’s view of the progression of governmental systems through history) or contrary to common sense. And there are views that did not foresee modern communication abilities (types of government are dictated by country size, so, he argues, democracy cannot work in a large state). But many of the ideas are intriguing: the General Will, which is always right and is different from the majority – if you voted against the General Will, you were “mistaken” in your view; the integration of religion into the state, but only as a call to virtue, and without say in the laws or a way to intolerance; the people should be sovereign, legislative and executive power should be separated, the gap between rich and poor should always be narrow; and so on. Despite these democratic ideas, there are streaks of totalitarianism here: censorship is necessary to guide popular opinion; particular will should be subdued; discussion is deemed destructive to the social order; unscheduled assemblies should be illegal; etc. There is an undercurrent of thought that the pure, simple, natural peasant-farmer is virtuous, and that “learned, polished” people are “effeminate” (a word he uses a lot) and immoral. Very interesting stuff.

  22. 4 out of 5

    GoldGato

    "Man was born free, and he is everywhere in chains." So begins Rousseau's treatise on his view that only the people have the right to legislate, as a time when Europe was overflowing with absolute monarchies. While we don't have the same situation in the 21st century, we still have the absolute rulers (a la Gaddafi) who will always claim some sort of special right, be it divine or lineage, to put their paw prints on the people's treasuries. Reading this always makes me think, just what is freedom? "Man was born free, and he is everywhere in chains." So begins Rousseau's treatise on his view that only the people have the right to legislate, as a time when Europe was overflowing with absolute monarchies. While we don't have the same situation in the 21st century, we still have the absolute rulers (a la Gaddafi) who will always claim some sort of special right, be it divine or lineage, to put their paw prints on the people's treasuries. Reading this always makes me think, just what is freedom? Is it freedom 'for'? Freedom 'from'? Freedom 'of'? Every one will have their own take. But one of my favorite lines from this masterpiece is: "Slaves, in their bondage, lose everything, even the desire to be free. They love their servitude even as the companions of Ulysses loved their life as brutes". How very true. Just look at the shopping malls. Book Season = Year Round

  23. 4 out of 5

    Diana

    Another book I had to read for my Western Civilization class. Rousseau was a very important part of the Enlightenment period in Europe. It is a very dry read, and not something I would have normally been interested in. I'm happy to have read it but will never do so again. He put across some interesting points about treating people equally, but it is definitely a product of its time and it comes across as dry and hard to read at least to me. If you want to know more about that part of history I Another book I had to read for my Western Civilization class. Rousseau was a very important part of the Enlightenment period in Europe. It is a very dry read, and not something I would have normally been interested in. I'm happy to have read it but will never do so again. He put across some interesting points about treating people equally, but it is definitely a product of its time and it comes across as dry and hard to read at least to me. If you want to know more about that part of history I recommend reading this, especially if you are interested in what led to the French Revolution.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Madeleine Tope

    Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains. Let me be clear, I do not agree with this book or this quote. I start out every review of mine with a quote, so this is no exception. Allow me to be clear, too, that I rate this two stars, not because it is poorly written - on the contrary - but that I dont agree, and that it is inconsistent. I will explain why. My first problem with it is Rousseaus beginning quote (the one that this review began with). The fact that he states that man is born free “Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains.” Let me be clear, I do not agree with this book or this quote. I start out every review of mine with a quote, so this is no exception. Allow me to be clear, too, that I rate this two stars, not because it is poorly written - on the contrary - but that I don’t agree, and that it is inconsistent. I will explain why. My first problem with it is Rousseau’s beginning quote (the one that this review began with). The fact that he states that man is born free is wholly untrue. "Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—" (Romans 5:12) Yet, he goes farther to say that man, though he is in chains inside society, becomes good when he enters into a social contract. This, too, is untrue. Men are not made good by society. For instance, mobs often arise when men get together, thinking that they are doing something good, and result to terrorizing other people. This is not an example of being made good in society. Yes, the second half of the quote is mostly true, but the statement of the former half reduces it to a lie. Men can become corrupt by society, but that is not where evil originates. Evil comes from within. If we become corrupt, it is not society’s fault, but our own. This is Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s main issue, because he begins the book with this premise, which means that it is untrue to begin with. The next problem is that of Rousseau’s inconsistencies. The idea of morality, according to him, was that it was a system that God established. I agree. But he later says in the book that morality is basically anything that the General Will decides is best for the society. This is contradictory. You cannot have morality set up by God and yet have the General Will decide what it is. This will not work. Another inconsistency is that relating to democracy and the General Will. Rousseau states in Book III chapter 4 that democracy is a government for the gods, that no group of men can achieve it, and that it would ultimately ruin the State. I agree with that. But earlier, in Book II, he says that the Sovereign - which is the General Will of the people enacted - is unable to be corrupted. I fail to understand how democracy, according to him and his stance on the General Will, would be corrupt. If the General Will of the people is good, if they become good when entering into society, how, then, could democracy be wrong? I will allow the reader to weigh this. The final inconsistency I will address is that of his problem with Christianity and his own proclaimed beliefs. Rousseau said that he was a Christian by practice, but that he never allowed it to enter into his statements about social contracts and how the government should be run. Is this really Christianity? Also, Rousseau says that your beliefs can’t affect your government job. This is flat-out false. What you believe of course can and will affect your job! He, too, said that Christianity ruins society as a whole because they won’t fight for their country, having heaven in sight, therefore death will have little significance. Now, some may think this is true, but I do not think it is. Christians are called to love God and others, and this is a people who will always be most willing to fight for the country they love. I believe that Rousseau had a great misunderstanding of what Christianity really is. I would recommend this book to others as an example of what not to achieve in a country. Even his beginning supposition is fallible. I have no trouble knowing that he influenced Karl Marx, and others of the like. I found this book very interesting, but I continue to disagree with a lot of what Rousseau says.

  25. 4 out of 5

    hami

    Rousseau's criticism of representational politics (or democracy in relation to political participation) is very straightforward and deep. I enjoyed reading his ideas of Body-politics which gave me a foundation to understand Foucault's biopolitics. Although, there is an obscurity toward this book in the way he uses the word "People", when he describes the politics (the notion that ideal government, would act according to the will of "people"), without spelling out the differences between peoples Rousseau's criticism of representational politics (or democracy in relation to political participation) is very straightforward and deep. I enjoyed reading his ideas of Body-politics which gave me a foundation to understand Foucault's biopolitics. Although, there is an obscurity toward this book in the way he uses the word "People", when he describes the politics (the notion that ideal government, would act according to the will of "people"), without spelling out the differences between peoples and cultures. The other problem is the lack of economic distinctions in his work, although few times he mentions the problem with politicians who are mostly from the wealthy class. Aside from that, it was a great read, just like Machiavelli. “the moment a people allows itself to be represented, it is no longer free: it no longer exists.” CHAPTER XV, DEPUTIES OR REPRESENTATIVES "AS soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the State is not far from its fall. When it is necessary to march out to war, they pay troops and stay at home: when it is necessary to meet in council, they name deputies and stay at home. By reason of idleness and money, they end by having soldiers to enslave their country and representatives to sell it.” CHAPTER XIV, THE SAME "The moment the people is legitimately assembled as a sovereign body, the jurisdiction of the government wholly lapses, the executive power is suspended, and the person of the meanest citizen is as sacred and inviolable as that of the first magistrate; for in the presence of the person represented, representatives no longer exist. Most of the tumults that arose in the comitia at Rome were due to ignorance or neglect of this rule. The consuls were in them merely the presidents of the people; the tribunes were mere speakers; the senate was nothing at all. These intervals of suspension, during which the prince recognises or ought to recognise an actual superior, have always been viewed by him with alarm; and these assemblies of the people, which are the aegis of the body politic and the curb on the government, have at all times been the horror of rulers: who therefore never spare pains, objections, difficulties, and promises, to stop the citizens from having them. When the citizens are greedy, cowardly, and pusillanimous, and love ease more than liberty, they do not long hold out against the redoubled efforts of the government; and thus, as the resisting force incessantly grows, the sovereign authority ends by disappearing, and most cities fall and perish before their time. But between the sovereign authority and arbitrary government there sometimes intervenes a mean power of which something must be said." CHAPTER IX, (Probably referring to today's ancient 2-party system of USA) “...the one [party] prefers security of possessions, the other that of person; the one regards as the best government that which is most severe, the other maintains that the mildest is the best; the one wants crimes punished, the other wants them prevented; the one wants the State to be feared by its neighbours, the other prefers that it should be ignored; the one is content if money circulates, the other demands that the people shall have bread. Even if an agreement were come to on these and similar points, should we have got any further? As moral qualities do not admit of exact measurement, agreement about the mark does not mean agreement about the valuation.”

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jesse

    Of the classic social contract theorists, the "If God doesn't exist, what the fuck is society?" theorists, Rousseau seems to be the most radical and, consequently, most truthful; in Freudian terms, if Hobbes is the id and Locke the ego, Rousseau is the superego. Rousseau wants to know how we can get rid of rulers, and how we can become truly free. Certainly Hobbes is no visionary of freedom - Rousseau equates his reasoning with that of Caligula. Again, Locke is suspect of desiring chains to Of the classic social contract theorists, the "If God doesn't exist, what the fuck is society?" theorists, Rousseau seems to be the most radical and, consequently, most truthful; in Freudian terms, if Hobbes is the id and Locke the ego, Rousseau is the superego. Rousseau wants to know how we can get rid of rulers, and how we can become truly free. Certainly Hobbes is no visionary of freedom - Rousseau equates his reasoning with that of Caligula. Again, Locke is suspect of desiring chains to preserve his property, as Rousseau says, "It is absurd and contradictory that the sovereign should give itself a superior," which is something one must necessarily do if "one fears slavery less than poverty." So Rousseau makes the monumental distinction between sovereignty and government. If one does not do this, one is sure to misunderstand how government, if it is united with sovereignty (the people's will and the general will), can become the path to freedom and the end of authority in society. Society, in the words of Rousseau, must be reconceived as a set of associations: when one does this, he says, arguments for force (the right-wing) cease to exist, as he brilliantly reasons how, if an argument is to be an actual argument, it must be speaking about freedom to free people. It follows that, if one is speaking about force to (wage-)slaves, it cannot be an argument, since there is no freedom, only necessity, in force, and therefore does not merit consideration, it being an evident contradiction. We are still waiting for the day when this shall be collectively realized, but until that day, if someone recommends that you be liberal and take in all sides and, say, read Ayn Rand, you may calmly point them to Rousseau and say, you do not know what freedom is, so how, citizen, can you recommend a course of action to me? In sum, Rousseau's "Social Contract" is an exhilarating and fully realistic look at what society is, and what it might be.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kyle van Oosterum

    "Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains." For some a devoted defense of democracy and for others the bible of totalitarianism, The Social Contract stands as one of the most eloquent treatises on liberty and the power of the people. Rousseau suggests a Social Contract which at the same time enslaves natural liberty and endorses civil liberty. The difference between these two is that natural liberty consists of irrational and unguided freedoms upon which man can selfishly indulge upon; "Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains." For some a devoted defense of democracy and for others the bible of totalitarianism, The Social Contract stands as one of the most eloquent treatises on liberty and the power of the people. Rousseau suggests a Social Contract which at the same time enslaves natural liberty and endorses civil liberty. The difference between these two is that natural liberty consists of irrational and unguided freedoms upon which man can selfishly indulge upon; civil liberty is therefore surrendering violent freedoms for non-excludable freedom. The general will acts as the register for law and Rousseau fervently believes the Latin adage: Consensus Facit Legem (consensus creates law). Let the people prescribe the laws which govern them, and their own slavery would be to not adhere to these and embrace natural liberty which is irrational and reckless. He believes the people must regularly congregate and expresses it through his assertion that "the moment a people allows itself to be represented, it is no longer free: it no longer exists." He justifies this by saying that laws are the register of the people's will, not one man. The Social Contract, written in the 1700's, served as the forerunner of the French Revolution and indeed much like Machiavelli, he recognizes that we live in a dangerous world but much unlike Machiavelli, his work contains idealism and the seed beds of liberalism.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Spyros Passas

    According to the author, "the problem is to find a form of association which will defend and protect with the whole common force the person and goods of each associate and in which each, while uniting himself with all, may still obey himself alone and remain as free as before. This is the fundamental problem of which the Social Contract provides the solution". Rousseau continues the work of Hobbes, Locke and Montesquieu, presenting a model of organization for civil societies. The book tries to According to the author, "the problem is to find a form of association which will defend and protect with the whole common force the person and goods of each associate and in which each, while uniting himself with all, may still obey himself alone and remain as free as before. This is the fundamental problem of which the Social Contract provides the solution". Rousseau continues the work of Hobbes, Locke and Montesquieu, presenting a model of organization for civil societies. The book tries to distinguish between the notions of natural liberty and civil freedom and delicately consolidate the Sovereign, the people and the magistrates to a single Body Politic. Equality, liberty, legislation, participation, power (and its abuse) as well as a critique of various types of governance are among the subjects treated in the work. It must be read taken into consideration that it was written in the 1760's and that the topic is so complex that certain "indiscrepencies" can be expected. In any case, its influence is profound and does worth a careful read and some (even more careful) reflection. Although not required, it would help if you have already read "Leviathan" and "De l'Esprit des Lois" since they are frequently referenced in the book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Hajir Almahdi

    Rousseau's the Social Contract is the outlines of his Utopia more or less. Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains. He argues that civilization as we know it (or as he knows it, take in notice when this was written) is the origin of inequality and only by retuning to human's nature can one be really free. What's up with this "social contract" you ask me? The purpose of the Social Contract is the establishment and maintenance of freedom, order and equality between the people in the Rousseau's the Social Contract is the outlines of his Utopia more or less. “Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains.” He argues that civilization as we know it (or as he knows it, take in notice when this was written) is the origin of inequality and only by retuning to human's nature can one be really free. What's up with this "social contract" you ask me? The purpose of the Social Contract is the establishment and maintenance of freedom, order and equality between the people in the sovereign. Where every individual gives up his natural liberty in exchange for the greater power of the entire community. where a body with its own life and will "general will" is created. That merely acts according to the community's best interest. Rousseau then explains his sovereign further by laying down the laws, governments, slavery issues, voting, rights and individual and state freedom. It's a rich insightful book that gets you to think and argue with Rousseau in your head and definitely requires another slow careful read for me to comprehend it completely.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tyler

    In this book, Rousseau takes on the profoundest problems of man's political structures. His ruminations over what makes for the best political system reminds me of Plato's Republic. I like his impatience for politics; in an ideal political arrangement, he would tolerate little of that nonsense. What I didn't care for is the short, aphoristic chapters whose ideas aren't fleshed out enough for my preference. I don't like this approach in general, which is why I've read so little Nietzsche. As to In this book, Rousseau takes on the profoundest problems of man's political structures. His ruminations over what makes for the best political system reminds me of Plato's Republic. I like his impatience for politics; in an ideal political arrangement, he would tolerate little of that nonsense. What I didn't care for is the short, aphoristic chapters whose ideas aren't fleshed out enough for my preference. I don't like this approach in general, which is why I've read so little Nietzsche. As to the ideas, my doubts about this social contract center on the pivot of his concept, the "Sovereign," or the will of the people. This term is vague for a political theory, and open to all kinds of abuse. Because of the vagueness, I didn't see what the author intended the Sovereign to represent in actual States. Still, this is an important political treatise that bears reading, even during modern times when some of his ideas seem antiquated. I recommend the book for anyone interested in politics and the big questions that determine human affairs.

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