The Social Contract
Rousseau idealizes pre-societal human life, while ##Thomas Hobbes## suggests that it was harsh and unpleasant. Why do these two thinkers have such contrasting views? Who do you agree with, and why?
What does Rousseau mean when he says people should be "forced to be free"?
What is the difference between the general will and the will of all? In practice, how can the two be distinguished?
What role do laws play in determining the character of the people in a given state?
What is the relationship between liberty and equality? What does Rousseau mean when he talks about equality?
Trace the themes of force and right throughout the book. What is the relationship between the two? Is Rousseau consistent in his use of them? Does he ever contradict himself?
Rousseau suggests that climate, soil, and the type of population determine the kind of government a state will have. Based on what you know of governments in the modern world, how accurate do you think Rousseau's theory is? What factors might you list?
What is the problem with "finance" and "representation," according to Rousseau?
Rousseau frequently discusses the tension that exists between government and sovereign and between government and people. Why does this tension exist? Why is it necessary?
In what significant ways do Rousseau's ideas differ from those at work in modern democracies? What could we gain from following his precepts? What is dangerous about them?
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