The Social Contract

Essay by pierce_d35University, Bachelor'sA, October 2008

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The Social ContractBook ReviewJean-Jacques Rousseau was born in Geneva, Switzerland in 1712. Rousseau's mother passed away a few days after his birth, and his father abandoned him at the age of ten. Prior to that, though his father taught him to read, and at the age of 13, he was an apprentice as an engraver. Finally at the age of 16, in 1728, he left Geneva. He took on numerous jobs such as tutoring and as a musician, before finally becoming a writer in his early forties. He produced five children with a servant girl name Therese Levasseur. However, he placed all of the children in an orphanage to be adopted. He contradicts himself when he writes his book "Emile", in which he discusses the ideal upbringing and education of children. How could he place his own children in an orphanage, yet write about the importance of children? Rousseau's greatest achievement was the writing of "The Social Contract" in 1762.

In 1770 he completed his "Confessions" and lived mostly in France until his death in 1778.

Rousseau's sole purpose or thought in writing "The Social Contract", was to consider if, in political society, there can be any legitimate and sure principal of government, taking men as they are and laws as they might be. (Rousseau) His argument is his belief that once men have entered into society; freedom comes to be inseparable form virtue. Rousseau explains that there are two types of freedoms; you have a personal freedom and you have social freedom. Personal freedom comes from man's basic instincts and selfishness, while social freedom is achieved when man obeys the desires of the "General Will." (Amezquite)Rousseau's main issue in writing "The Social Contract" is his theory of General Will. He begins...