General Will in Rousseau essaysThe Social Contract Rousseau puts forth the structure of an ideal political society, the legislature and laws of which revolve around a notion he terms the 'general will'. In his view, the general will is the solution to the fundamental problem of politics.
Rousseau states that the general will is the will of all people, and it is the best choice for a state, only if, specific clauses are met (Rousseau 226). However, in another text, Rousseau claims that “the general will is always right and always tends toward the public utility” (Rousseau 172).
In this essay I will explore and explain his definition of the general will, how this will is determined and, in turn, I will argue why it does not amount to a form of tyranny of the majority. In order to understand Rousseau’s concept of the general will one has to first understand his views on human nature and the social contract in which the general will is developed.
Rousseau differentiates between the three types of rights: natural, civil and the sovereign rights of the general will. In addition to this, he observes the contradiction due to independence of the specific will towards its own interests and that of the general will.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s theories, the state of nature is pre-political. It aims to explain the origin of the political order and the legitimacy of human society. Men in Locke’s theory give up their perfect freedom in the state of nature to secure the advantages of civilized society (Locke 495).
Summary. The social contract gives life to the body politic, but the law carries out the general will. According to Rousseau, a law is a decision that considers the state as a whole, and cannot be made with particular individuals in mind.
This essay will discuss the author and the historical background behind the “social contract”. Next, the document will be analysed as to its purpose and central ideas. Rousseau was born in Geneva in 1712 but came to live most of his life in France where he became acquainted with other fellow intellectuals.
In Rousseau’s work he focuses on several key terms in order to define this transition clearly, they include: state of nature, social contract, civil society, general will, and the sovereign. It would be impossible to define the latter terms without first analyzing Rousseau’s definition of state of nature.