Rousseau the Origin of Civil Society Research Paper

Pages: 3 (971 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Black Studies - Philosophy


When Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote the Origin of Civil Society, Europe was becoming enmeshed with its colonial enterprises. Ironically, this was also the time when Enlightenment philosophy and theory spread throughout Europe. The Enlightenment helped to pave the way for the French and American Revolutions and spawned interest in freedom, liberty, and individuality. Slavery -- both real and symbolic -- became the topic of conversation in philosophical circles when the French Revolution and the American Revolution were already being underwritten. The idea that government serves the people and not the other way around, was just starting to take root. Rousseau, like many other Enlightenment thinkers, proposes a humanist vision in which inequality is abolished in favor of the true civil society. The civil society, according to Rousseau, "comes into being to serve two purposes: to provide peace for everyone and to ensure the right to property for anyone lucky enough to have possessions," ("ROUSSEAU, Jean-Jacques (1712-78)"). Paradoxically, Rousseau was persecuted for his stance related to government and forced to flee France for a short time. Rousseau's statement, "Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains" connotes a remarkable shift in human consciousness and political philosophy. The concept of personal and collective liberation remain as important in the 21st century as in the 18th.Get full Download Microsoft Word File access
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Research Paper on Rousseau the Origin of Civil Society Assignment

According to Rousseau, a society's laws are only valid insofar as they promote the common welfare and individual rights of all citizens. Both common welfare and individual rights are tantamount to the stability of the government, which at the time Rousseau wrote comprised of aristocracy and a political elite. Even today, when monarchy has been all but abolished in the West and where slavery has also been outlawed, the government remains a cadre of political elite. Wealth and power go hand-in-hand, and the majority of people are on some level slaves. After all, the working poor in America are enslaved to their jobs. The jobs that earn minimum wage or not much more than minimum wage are like conditions of servitude. Women often find themselves in domestic servitude. While the heads of corporations buy their second jets and their fourth homes, the workers who provide the labor for the organization are barely making ends meet.

Therefore, slavery still does exist on a financial level. On an intellectual level, slavery also exists as corporate-controlled media create a scenario that enables the general populace to be easily brainwashed. Thus, "man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains" refers as much to mental slavery as to physical or economic slavery. The slavery is perpetuated by the consumer society, in which individuals believe they have to work harder to afford the products peddled on television. In fact, individuals are simply chained to the concept of materialism.

During the Civil Rights movement in the United States, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. advocated for civil disobedience, based on the principles that Gandhi taught and… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Rousseau the Origin of Civil Society" Research Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Rousseau the Origin of Civil Society.  (2010, December 6).  Retrieved February 26, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Rousseau the Origin of Civil Society."  6 December 2010.  Web.  26 February 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Rousseau the Origin of Civil Society."  December 6, 2010.  Accessed February 26, 2021.