The social pact comes down to this; “Each one of us puts into the community his person and all his powers under the supreme direction of the general will; and as a body, we incorporate every member as an indivisible part of the whole (Rousseau: 61)”. The general will can itself direct the forces of the state with the intention of the whole’s primary goal – which is the common good. The general will does not allow private opinions to prevail. The union of the people, in its passive role is known as the State and is referred to as the Sovereign in its active state.
Associates of the body politic are communally known as the people, and individually referred to as citizens or subjects. The primary problem to which the social contract holds the solution is based on the total alienation of each associate to the entire community. Rousseau proposes that every individual give himself absolutely and apply the same conditions for each and every one to result in an agreement where it is in no ones interest to make the conditions burdensome for others.
The critiques of this contract are so specifically determined by ones actions, that the slightest amendment must make the agreement invalid; it is crucial to obtain a unanimous recognition and admittance by the whole. If the social pact is desecrated, every man regains his inborn rights to recover his natural freedom, and loses the civil freedom in which he bargained for. Stop. The existence of natural freedom is the argument in which I intend to pursue against Rousseau. This thought shall be revisited in a short while.
Rousseau implies upon freedom the definition of the sovereign; it is a reason; a collaboration with others; a civil expression of the general will. Rousseau’s conclusion stipulates the absolute surrender of ones rights into a union; also referred to as the republic, the body politic, the state, the sovereign and as the power when compared to others of its own kind. His conclusion is however split into three subsets. Rousseau first states that since everyone in the social pact is summoned to the same conditions, it will be of no ones interest to inconvenience others.
Secondly, he states that since the alienation is unconditional, no individual citizen has any rights to claim of their own. If these rights were left to the individuals, they would revert to their natural state of own judgements in the absence of authority. And finally, Rousseau adds to his conclusion by affirming that “since each man gives himself to all, he gives himself to no one”(Rousseau:61); meaning that since there is no associate that he doesn’t gain the same rights as others gain over him, each man regains the equivalent of everything he loses; gaining more than what he initially had.
The first premise that Rousseau puts forward is that during a lifetime, each man will come to an obstacle that will endanger his safety and that he will not be able to conquer within his state of nature because it will have a power greater than his strength. What he implies with this premise is that if solitary men were continually facing the obstacles alone, the human race would eventually perish. Rousseau presents this premise as an assumption. It can be safely assumed that most people come across obstacles during their lifetime.
These obstacles are hidden within births, deaths, illnesses, monetary based issues, education, relationships, weather, governments, war, etc. The meaning of an obstacle is anything that will hinder ones performance; an impediment that has the power to abolish the human race. The second premise provides that since men cannot create new forces to overcome these obstacles, they can combine and organize their existing forces to protect themselves. Meaning that by uniting their separate powers, they can achieve a congruent force strong enough to prevail over any form of obstruction. This second premise follows Rousseau’s first premise adequately.
First, he presents the inevitable obstacle and then he follows to state that a sum of forces is required to overcome barriers that are too strong. Succeeding the premises, he poses the following question, “How to find a form of association which will defend the persons and goods of each member with the collective force of all, and under which each individual, while uniting himself with the others, obeys no one but himself and remains as free as before (Rousseau:60). ” How can these men be expected to neglect their own security and merge with others? This is the elementary predicament to which Rousseau’s social contract holds the solution to.
Rousseau’s premises are plausible. They successfully lead to and support the conclusion; which is that individuals should alienate themselves totally into the community to establish a supreme power directed by the desire of the general will; a common ego. There is good reason to believe that Rousseau’s conclusion is true because he has convinced the reader of the need for a social contract with his premises. His argument is valid because it is impossible for his conclusion to be false while his premises remain true. Substantial obstacles need association to be beat. Given his form, a social contract seems to be the key to man’s problems.
In reality, the social contract is needed for the survival of the human race. Humans need two basic elements to survive: nutrition (as in food and water), and shelter. These two elements are acquired by man only through the alliance of others. A house is needed for shelter. A house requires teamwork to be constructed. Today, food and water are seldom available from nature; they must be processed by others and then purchased with money that was gained as income through commerce. Rousseau views the social contact as the perfect solution to man’s security and common goodness.
By uniting with others, he gains a civil goodness geared towards his public interests and has the collective power to confront any obstacle. If a subject of the social contract wishes to have a conversation, he cannot use his linguistic powers without the facilitation of others. He “cannot do anything except through the cooperation of others (Rousseau: 85)”; however with this cooperation, he can do whatever he aspires. The social contract theory is a proposal that appears to work well within a given society. Rousseau’s argument flows well and is pleasingly convincing.
My argument against his theory is the mere existence of natural rights. In this writer’s opinion, they do not even exist to begin with. So, if these inborn rights do not exist, they cannot be surrendered in exchange for an association with the social contract. Rousseau has constructed his social pact with the assumption that natural rights are real. To prove this false assumption will contradict the elements of the social contract’s theory. Rousseau assumes that natural freedom is the expression of ones desires without the cooperation of others; it is the unrestricted performance of ones distinct actions.
What he has failed to realize, is that we are born with civil freedoms, already within the form of a social contract. We naturally cannot do anything without the assistance of another. The sheer occurrence of birth is not possible without the uniting of a sperm and an egg, from within the action of intercourse between two persons. These two persons needed another four persons to provide their existence. The earliest human did not appear on his own; it was through the aid of an almighty power that man was created. Upon birth, the newborn is instantaneously in need of care from that of an already developed human.
The baby cannot survive without the help of others. It cannot grow to fulfill its purpose as a genetic perpetuate without the initial aid to be nurtured. This infant is immediately emerged into a family with traditions and religion. We naturally obey laws and allow others to determine our actions and desires. Anything that we do as individuals is in relevance to someone else’s prior work: To eat, one must consume what is prepared by others. To take a walk, one must progress along the streets constructed by others, or along the earth that exists due to a supreme power.
To have a conversation, one requires another to communicate with. To comprise a single thought, reverts back to the need to even exist as a human. The examples are endless while the fact is simple: to do anything of an individual desire requires the direct or indirect partnership of another. This sole principle ruins the basis of the social contract. If people are aware of their existing group efforts, they may be reluctant to give up natural rights that they do not have, for a society in which they’ve already established.
In reality, Rousseau’s theory is that of natural existence; he just made it sound appealing by adding a few accents. In response to this reality, Rousseau may propose that a social contract must be enforced upon a society to encourage security, general will and proper law regulations. This response may be sufficient enough to blind a society into conformity, but it does not change the natural fact that as a single being, we can do nothing alone. Bib: The Social Contract by J. J. Rousseau.