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How does Rousseau seek to reconcile freedom and authority in the Social Contract? Is his attempt successful?

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  1. Introduction
  2. How does Rousseau seek to reconcile freedom and authority in the Social Contract?
  3. Is his attempt successful?
  4. Analysis
  5. Conclusion

Rousseau has been very influential for many contemporary political thinkers and his work is considered as core in the Enlightenment thinking; his famous work on the Social Contract is widely seen as one of the basis for the establishment of French state after the revolution of 1789. This work, published in 1762, questions the legitimacy of political authority in 18th C Europe by advocating direct or participatory democracy. However, the fundamental issue of the Social Contract refers to Rousseau's attempt to reconcile freedom with authority. Both concepts are central in the organization of Rousseau's political system and his viability depends in the achievement of this marriage.

Therefore, to get a good understanding of Rousseau's Social Contract principles it is essential to get an accurate definition of notions of freedom and authority; so as to explain thereafter how Rousseau seek to reconcile them, especially through ideas of the general will and sovereign. And ultimately assessing to what extent his attempt can be considered as successful according to Rousseau's critics and advocates arguments and to his own paradoxes in his philosophical thinking.

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