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What's wrong with Rosseau's The General Will - Essay Example

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What's wrong with Rosseau's The General Will

Rousseau spent most of his time observing the society and its organization. Through this, he realized how artificial and unfair aristocrats treated the common man. Years after intense thoughts and observation, he wrote a book, “The social Contract”. In his book, he stated the origins of governments and their laws, arguing that no law was binding unless the people agree to it (Wraight 2009, p. 34). This book stimulated French thinking and became a driving force for the French revolution thirty years after its release. The general will The will can only direct the State forces to maintain its obligations, “the common good”, because if the resistance of the private interest makes it possible for societies to be established, then the harmony of the same interests makes it possible. The common thing between these different interests creates the social bond; and if there was no similar interest, then society could not have been formed. Therefore, the state should govern the society only with this common interest. This quote comes from Rousseau’s book; the Social Contract....
Ideas on the general will There is always a common interest among conflicting parties Through voting, governments can generate the common interest that accommodates the needs of a majority of its citizens The majority may come up with a falsified general will Criticism of the general will Following these arguments of the general will, Rousseau contends that when rulers govern their societies according to the general will, the freedom of each individual is assured. This notion is untrue because the general will only takes the common good of a majority of citizens, which it assumes is the interest of each individual. Every individual in the society has unique interests that the general will cannot fulfill. Therefore, the general will offers a simple solution for governments to fulfill the major needs of the community where individual interests cannot be fulfilled. During voting, individuals consider their best interests before subordinating their personal wills to the general will. When they fail to win, then the general will fails to fulfill their individual will. Rousseau admits that votes contribute less into making the general will, and that the uniting interest is a major contributor. It is then clear that the common uniting interest may fail to be the interest of each individual, and that is what makes the general will. Rousseau admits that there is a difference between the “will of all” and the “general will” He says that people do not always vote in ways that agree with the common interest due to social inequalities and related factors. Because of this, the will of all may disagree with the general will. In such circumstances, a law-giver comes up with a solution. The law-giver designs favorable social institutions that instill virtues and a ...Show more


A controversial French philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau focused most of his writings on modern thoughts regarding politics, education and literature. Born in 1712, Rousseau spent most of his life in Italy, Switzerland and France where he worked as a secretary, later as a tutor and finally as a music teacher…
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Whats wrong with Rosseaus The General Will essay example
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