Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate November 2001

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Jean-Jacques Rosseau's often criticized quote, "any individual who refuses to obey the general will may be forced by his fellows to do so.

This is a way of saying that it may be necessary to force a man to be free; freedom in this case being obedience to the will of all.", is interpreted in many different ways, in some cases good and others bad. It has been referred to as a defense of oppression. In some cases drastic meaures must be taken in order to secure the lives of a society's citizens. Although this idea may have worked a long time ago, it may not be a feasable method of action for today's society; considering the present day's political situation. Although, some of Rousseau's ideas may fit the present situation, not all of them are appropriate in today's world. Rousseau did have many good ideas of creatng lasting and stabilized power within a society, as stated in his writings of "The Social Contract", a society can never be run successful solely on the power of one individual, it takes a united force to withstand today's pressures.

Rousseau's quote can be appropraitely described as stating that in a society where the citizens follow a law of general will (rules or laws put forth by the citizens themselves, catering to the needs and wants of all people equally), should be able to condemn an individual who chooses not to follow these rules because they are upsetting the "will" of his fellow citizens, which is unfair. When he states, " it may be necessary to force a man to be free," he is referring to forcing the individual to obey the laws of society in which they have come up with, their rights to freedom. Any individual who is disobedient in...