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Analysis of Jean Jacques Rousseau’s Theory of The Social Contract

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How can man surrender his natural liberties to the body politic (or community) and yet still have a level of primitive or natural right where he may preserve himself? Rousseau attempts to answer this question in his essay. An assault on one is viewed as an assault on all. The role as individual and member of the community differs. When the individual will and individual interest takes precedence and no contribution is made to community proves ruinous to the State or the body politic. Violators of the general will, will be compelled to do so for the general good of the community. In religion Reason is distinguished from faith therefore the birth of the Separation of Church and State comes about as this separation of this ideal. Separation of Church and State secures liberty where believers and non-believers of religion may yet retain the legitimacy of their freedoms and rights. The interests of a heterogeneous society must be represented. Civil Religion is a reasonable solution put forward by Jean Jacques Rousseau in Social Contract which constitutes a range of values which express a few key principles and virtues in being a good citizen. Civil Religion ensured religious liberty to practice one’s own religion while protecting others from unnecessary imposition of religious values.

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Man actually gains more in the Civil State than in the Natural State of his person. He is ennobled, civilized and uplifted. Surrendering the Natural rights of property to the community redounds to the benefit of the individual. The community protects and legitimizes property ownership and bestows rights to proprietors. The goal of the State is the common good of all. Sovereignty cannot be segmented although there are different components such as the executive, legislative, judicial, and military powers; internal and foreign administration. The common good is found in the will of the majority. Where there are factions in the community, the problem of consensual agreement and representation arises. It is necessary a clear differentiation between the individual rights and the general rights of citizens. The yielding of the individual right only is justified where its ultimate end is for communal use and the common benefit of the community.

Government has power invested in it only because of the surrendered wills of individuals; the government contains no power independent of the people. The integral duties of the government are to execute laws and maintain civil and political liberty. The State falls into a state of decadence where citizens forsake to render service of their persons to the community and rather, substitutes this service with money, financial gifts. Active citizen participation in the affairs of state and concern after its welfare are indispensable to the survival of the body politic. Government cannot represent the people because it does not stand for the general will of the populace/ citizenry.

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Sovereignty is the exclusive right to exercise supreme political (legislative, judicial and/or executive) authority over a geographic region, group of people or oneself. The Social Contract. The religion of citizens should accord with the general good of the community never tampering with the social commitments and necessary service of citizens to the body politic. The doctrines of a citizen’s religion should never run counter to the law and justice of the State. One characteristic which any religion of a citizen must never hold is that of intolerance of others.

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Analysis of Jean Jacques Rousseau’s Theory of the Social Contract. (2018, December 11). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 28, 2023, from
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