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  • Welcome to the Macat Multimedia Series. A Macat Analysis of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s

  • The Social Contract.

  • Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains.”

  • So said the Swiss philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau in his 1762 book, The Social Contract.

  • This work was concerned with political authority, and what is required for state coercion to

  • be legitimate.

  • Rousseau began with the premise that living in a society means sacrificing an enormous

  • amount of personal freedom. He compared it with living in a ‘state of nature’, in

  • which humans live independent and simple lives, choosing their actions for themselves. Moving

  • into a society means that people become bound by laws and regulations enforced by others.

  • Rousseau argued that people sacrifice their individual liberty to the state to obtain

  • civil liberty’, which is not available outside of society.

  • Rousseau defined civil liberty as behaving morally and rationally within the context

  • of mutually agreed upon rules. These rules find their ultimate form in what Rousseau

  • calls theGeneral Will’.

  • TheGeneral Willis the will of all a society’s citizens. It is not simply the

  • sum of their interests, but is instead the interests of society as a whole. At its most

  • abstract level, the general will is that all people live in harmony.

  • Freedom and authority are therefore reconciled, because authority ultimately exists to advance

  • the General Will, people live under laws which they would choose. All have civil and moral

  • freedom.

  • To explain civil liberty and its benefits further, let’s imagine a basketball court.

  • Five players are using the court, playing independently of one another. They are in

  • a state of naturefriendly, but solitary.

  • Theyre all capable players, showcasing impressive dribbling, shooting and dunking.

  • But each is mainly concerned with playing the way they feel like, concentrating on tricks

  • and skills.

  • So, what happens when a team is formed?

  • Each player gives up their freedom to do what they want, when they want.

  • However, together they open up a new range of possibilities. They can win games or competitions,

  • and become well-known for their talent.

  • The General Will here is more than just the desire of each individual player to win. It

  • is the will of the team itself to succeed.

  • Civil liberty in this example comes from organising practise sessions to improve and work together.

  • They set these meetings for themselves, in accordance to the General Will of wanting

  • to succeed as a team.

  • The Social Contractinspired political movements in Europe, and played an influential

  • role in the French Revolution. It remains highly significant today.

  • A more detailed examination of Rousseau’s ideas can be found in the Macat Analysis.

Welcome to the Macat Multimedia Series. A Macat Analysis of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s


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淺談讓-雅克-盧梭的《社會契約論》--馬卡特政治學分析 (An Introduction to Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s The Social Contract - A Macat Politics Analysis)

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