Rousseau And The Enlightenment

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Why Rousseau’s idea of a democratic community ruled by the general will of its citizens was attractive for two of the most oppressive and brutal regime ever existed in human history: communism and fascism? Please evaluate Rousseau’s responsibility. The Enlightenment was a period of intellectual, social and political growth. End of late Middle Ages encompasses a sort of paradigm shift, focusing on bringing materialism on the limelight, by opposing the conventional ideas of supernatural being, the sole provider of the ultimate truth for many dilemmas and questions about existence, life and other social affairs. Furthermore, the Enlightenment was a period of hostility toward these paradigms, such as religion, but also to search for progress, freedom…show more content…
In this book, Rousseau provided a different approach on reasoning the political axioms of the time, reflecting the idea that power in politics, insecurity and immorality are not inherited features. Men he said, were free, equal and happy in the state of nature. Rousseau explains how humans went from the state of nature to the social conditions, which are predominated, by inequality, violence, dependency and unhappiness. He claims that this process is regrettable, but unavoidable. However, Rousseau maintains an optimistic position that humans are able and have the capacity for self-redemption. Nonetheless, going back to the state of nature was not a possible option for him, as he saw the stages of human development as irreversible. Instead, he proposed to build a state which is based on ethical principles and where every single individual is required and responsible to contribute to its development. The idea seems very logical, but it is particulars of his argumentation where the discrepancies and misinterpretations…show more content…
Therefore, achieving such a full accord with the entire community is hardly possible even in small communities. Rousseau’s solution to this concern is the paradoxical and quasi-divine figure of “the Lawgiver” which appears in his book “The social contract”, as a man having abilities to construct, seduce but not convince the people about the general will. The Lawgiver’s function is to inspire a sense of collective identity in the citizens who eventually will transform them and later on their children into a good citizen. There are many questions and interpretations arising from the idea of such a mystical figure such as: Where does he come from? If the legislator comes from a just society, then who performed the legislator on that society? Can someone within society become a Lawgiver? What are the limitations of his power? Rousseau offers no answer to these and many other questions, leaving a dangerous room for interpretation of his role in the society. The principle of the Lawgiver, in my view, contradicts the idea of democratic society ruled by their general will of its citizens. The limitation of the Lawgiver’s power is very vaguely presented by Rousseau. Hence, it was seen as a very powerful tool to build an ideology which would allow concentration of legislative power into one or few

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