Traditionally, there are two great debates at the core of political philosophy. The first is what justifies political authority, and the second is what should be the form of the institution that assumes that authority. The first debate includes questions of fundamental justice. Issues like what the state owes to its subjects, and what the subjects owe to each other, are central to the debate. The second debate depends somewhat on the answer to the first, in that it seeks to answer how the duties, obligations, rights, and responsibilities of the first debate are to be enacted and enforced.
The following is from Isaiah Berlin’s book, “Freedom and It’s Betrayal”, wherein he has some very mean things to say about Rousseau ;) In theory Rousseau speaks like any other eighteenth-century philosophe, and says: ‘We must employ our reason.’ He uses deductive reasoning, sometimes very cogent, very lucid and extremely well-expressed, for reaching his conclusions. But in reality what happens is that this deductive reasoning is like a strait-jacket of logic which he claps upon the inner, burning, almost lunatic vision within; it is this extraordinary combination of the insane inner vision with the cold rigorous strait-jacket of a kind of Calvinistic logic which really gives his prose its powerful enchantment and its hypnotic effect.
A core problem in political philosophy is the relation between the individual and the society in which he is a member. How does the political order, in the form of the state, legitimize itself and how are its impositions upon the individual, in apparent opposition to his freedom, justified? Jean-Jacques Rousseau attempted to solve this problem in his famous essay The Social Contract. To quote Rousseau from The Social Contract, his project is “…to find a form of association that will defend and protect the person and goods of each associate with the full and common force, and by means of which each uniting with all, nevertheless obeys only himself and remains as free as he was [in the state of nature]…”.
What’s the Goal? In the introduction to Enlightenment Philosophy In A Nutshell, Jane O’Grady makes her intentions for the book quite explicit: I hope to show how Descartes, Locke, Spinoza, Berkeley, Hume, Rousseau, and Kant respond to, develop, reform, and contradict the ideas of their predecessors and peers, such as Hobbes, Leibniz, Hutcheson, Voltaire, and Diderot, and in doing so, to convey the extraordinary courage and innovativeness of the Enlightenment as a whole… (Pg.
EDITORS NOTE: I wrote this at a time when I was not yet equipped to do such a thing as analyze Rousseau. This now reads more to me like a YouTube reaction video, than a proper analysis. A much improved analysis will be forthcoming in 2022. ~ Greg. 1 Dec. 2021 “Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains.” This famous opening line of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s equally famous essay, appears, to our modern minds, to point clearly toward an obvious question: ‘Why?