Explain Rousseau's Claim That A Man Is Forced To Be Free

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Can you attach any (non-sinister) sense to Rousseau’s claim that a man who is forced to obey the law is forced to be free?” Non-sinister is the opposite to sinister, which means evil or threatening. This claim that Rousseau’s statement of ‘forcing’ one to be free is by no means evil or threatening. In fact, one could argue that his claim is actually beneficial to citizens. In this essay I will outline how Rousseau’s statement is one of a positive and valuable nature. The Sovereign Rousseau had the belief that it is the people who should rule the people. “The sovereign is thus formed when free and equal persons come together and agree to create themselves anew as a single body, directed to the good of all considered together” (www.iep.utm.edu,…show more content…
Then only, when the voice of duty takes the place of physical impulses and right of appetite, does man, who so far had considered only himself, find that he is forced to act on different principles, and to consult his reason before listening to his inclinations” (Rousseau, 1913). It may seem that one is losing their freedom by complying with this civil state, but in actual fact the gain is immense. “Although, in this state, he deprives himself of some advantages which he got from nature, he gains in return others so great, his faculties are so stimulated and developed, his ideas so extended, his feelings so ennobled, and his whole soul so uplifted, that, did not the abuses of this new condition often degrade him below that which he left, he would be bound to bless continually the happy moment which took him from it for ever, and, instead of a stupid and unimaginative animal, made him an intelligent being and a man” (Rousseau, 1913). Being part of Rousseau’s ideal society seems like the optimal society to live, not one that is oppressive. “What man loses by the social contract in his natural liberty and an unlimited right to everything he tries to get and succeeds in getting; what he gains is civil liberty and the proprietorship of all he possesses” (Rousseau,…show more content…
Is it evil or threatening? Could his theory lead to corruption, totalitarianism or failure? Rousseau had very distinct ideas about freedom and liberty, and what people needed to do in order to achieve the idyllic society he believed was possible. The sovereign is created when the people bind together to create it. Therefore Rousseau claimed we must give up this natural liberty and obey laws that the sovereign decides to bring in. “The issue of liberty is crucial: we exchange natural liberty for civil or moral right or liberty” (Hampsher-Monk, 1992). In the natural state, we are free. Every citizen is free to do as they please, there is no ruling body. “Natural man’s liberty is the freedom to follow physical impulse, whilst the civil individual’s freedom consists in acting in accord with the general will” (Hampsher-Monk, 1992). Natural man’s freedom according to Rousseau is in fact slavery, as man acts on natural motives. When man turns to civil liberty he is then actually free. In Rousseau’s sense of freedom, society is a better place to live. “In this sense, Rousseau insists, the move into society is more than a contract, it is a positive transcendence of our previous selves, which alone gains us self-mastery, for ‘the impulse of appetite, alone, is slavery, whilst obedience to the law prescribed to oneself is freedom’” (Hampsher-Monk, 1992). When a people come together to create a contract, they

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