Rousseau the origin of civil society thesis

 "There are certain fundamental necessities which should go with every city playground. They are: First, fence; Second, shelter; Third, toilet; Fourth, water." Recreation Bureau of the City of New York (1910)

"Home is for many, a model of our own universe, where we act out all the dramas of life - and often, of death -and where our possessions, some utilitarian, some for decoration, are signs of the things that matter to us." Paul Olivier, Houses are For Living In (1990)

"Wherever a farm may be located, or whatever may be its production, fence, fence, fence, is the first, intermediate, and the last consideration in the whole routine of the operations of the farm." Edward Todd, Young Farmer's Manual (1860)

"Fences... constitute a stabilizing force upon the landscape." Eugete Cotton Mather & John Fraser Hart, Fences and Farms (1954)

"The first man who, having fenced in a piece of land, said, "This is mine," and found people naive enough to believe him. That man was the true founder of civil society." Jean Jacques Rousseau, A Discourse on the Origin of Inequality (1754)

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Perhaps Rousseau's most important work is The Social Contract, which outlines the basis for a legitimate political order. Published in 1762 it became one of the most influential works of political philosophy in the Western tradition. It developed some of the ideas mentioned in an earlier work, the article Economie Politique, featured in Diderot's Encyclopédie. Rousseau claimed that the state of nature eventually degenerates into a brutish condition without law or morality , at which point the human race must adopt institutions of law or perish. In the degenerate phase of the state of nature, man is prone to be in frequent competition with his fellow men while at the same time becoming increasingly dependent on them. This double pressure threatens both his survival and his freedom . According to Rousseau, by joining together through the social contract and abandoning their claims of natural right, individuals can both preserve themselves and remain free. This is because submission to the authority of the general will of the people as a whole guarantees individuals against being subordinated to the wills of others and also ensures that they obey themselves because they are, collectively, the authors of the law. While Rousseau argues that sovereignty should be in the hands of the people, he also makes a sharp distinction between sovereign and government. The government is charged with implementing and enforcing the general will and is composed of a smaller group of citizens, known as magistrates. Rousseau was bitterly opposed to the idea that the people should exercise sovereignty via a representative assembly. Rather, they should make the laws directly. It has been argued that this would prevent Rousseau's ideal state being realized in a large society, though in modern times, communication may have advanced to the point where this is no longer the case. Much of the subsequent controversy about Rousseau's work has hinged on disagreements concerning his claims that citizens constrained to obey the general will are thereby rendered free.

Rousseau the origin of civil society thesis

rousseau the origin of civil society thesis


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