Personally, I am interested in the balance between individual freedoms and societal needs. I think there are valid social concerns on both sides of this issue and I haven't yet reached a conclusion as to where the line between social safety and individual freedom should be drawn. I am looking forward to this class to inform my opinion and provide insight to the issues.
First reaction to Rousseau's statement: At first blush, Rousseau's statement is interesting and provokes consideration of three things; man's freedom, man's bondage, and the co-existence of the two. In terms of being "born free," I am not sure Rousseau means freedom in the same sense that an American in the 21st Century perceives it. For us, being born free is the notion that any individual enters society with full rights and privileges. Yet, Rousseau readily accepted the social strata of his day, which included disenfranchised individuals and the denial of their access to full citizenship. Citizenship and individuality are a set of competing loyalties; will I do what is in my best interest and not consider the social impact, or will I consider societal needs and constrain my behavior. If the former, I am born free.
There is also a social contract between the individuals of a particular society and the communal structure they have adopted.