Notion of Representation

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 17 November 2016

Notion of Representation

Most of the modern society nowadays functions due to members of diverse philosophical backgrounds reaching a consensus on the various issues facing them. The functioning of these societies is based on such principles as social justice for all and equality. The social contract theory was largely supported by both Locke and Rousseau; the theory is of the view that people’s political and moral obligations depends on an agreement which exists between them to form the community. The social theory can be ranked as one of the most dominant theory in the political and moral arena (Harris, 1993).

The social contract Despite its dominance, some philosophers are of the view that the social contract theory is a partial picture of people’s political and moral lives, in fact it camouflages various ways in which the social contract is ineffective upon some classes of people in the society. Locke and Rousseau came up with theories of how men and women should govern themselves. Due to their work and as time passed, political views and especially on the government philosophy slowly changed.

Even though they both had their differences the two of them became very great theorists. Their concepts and philosophies spread world wide and largely influenced the establishment of very many governments allover the world for example, America and France (Morris, 1999). They both recognized that there is always the development of a social contract by the people within the societies that they live in, but in most cases they have different views on the exactness of the contract, they also differ on how the social contract should be established.

The differing views on the social contract make these two philosophers to agreement that there are certain freedoms which have been given up for the protection of the society and puts much emphasis on the definite responsibilities for its people (Kelly, 1995). The social contract theory gives a broad description of theories attempting to explain the ways in which social order is maintained by states and people. Its notion is that the members of the society surrender part of their rights to the government or some other authority so as to maintain the social order which is of much essence.

The social order is based on the significant notion that for state authority to be legitimate it must be obtained from those being governed. Thus the social contract theory explains why it is a citizen’s coherent interest for him or her to surrender their freedom to the state, for them to be in a position of obtaining the merits arising from political orderliness (Morris, 1999). Similarities between the ideas of Locke and Rousseau on social contract Rousseau just like Locke failed to argue that women should have equal rights as men.

They in fact, ignored the plight and the role of the women who were landless. The revolution in France initially did away with most inequalities which had been in existence since the periods of ancient regime. The leaders of the regime were swallowed by the social theories of the social contract. The monarchy and aristocracy in France were abolished after the revolution which had the effect of making all men and women in France to be equal legally, which was not the case prior to the revolution (Kelly, 1995). Both Locke and Rousseau were great supporters of new mode of governance.

Although both Rousseau and Locke did not seek to bring to an end the vice of slavery, in their arguments that put to an end aristocracy and monarchy it was clear that they were not of the support of slavery and thus such arguments could be used in the abolishment of slavery. The social contract concepts greatly influenced revolution in France, especially those that were talking about general will and equality. They were both tied up in a struggle which was largely virtual war between evil and good which really dominated their lives and made them both to be great philosophers as they tried to swim through this virtual struggle.

Even though at their time constitutional liberty was a rare phenomenon, both Rousseau and Locke were able to determine the shortcoming and fight for what they believed in. Rousseau and Locke brought about a state of nature before the establishment of the government. Both Rousseau and Locke together with other philosophers of their time, believed in a mythological nature before governments were established allover the world (Morris, 1999). They were both capable of conducting their affairs without any external control and influence.

They were both in agreement that any man taking away from the ability of other people to himself perseveres and definitely the society will be taken back to the state of war. The treatise of maintaining wealth, greed and power should be called the second government’s treatise, since that is its basic role. Differences between the ideas of Locke and Rousseau on social contract Unlike the political concepts of Locke, which influenced to a great extent the American independence war the political concepts of Jean had a limited influence on the war also known as the American Revolution.

The war was fought mainly to bring an end to the British control and influence, but was not aimed at introducing revolutionary or radical political and social changes, this was considered to be change of power in a conservative manner which was mainly brought about taxation disputes, but all in all Locke’s political ideas influenced the war quite a lot. The main political, social and philosophical objectives of Jeans were the liberalism promotion coupled with arguing in support of the replacement of the France ancient regime.

Locke can be considered to be a protagonist, philosophical, reasonable and liked to use common sense while Rousseau was the pioneer of the Romantic Movement, who really stressed the human makeup feeling portion. Rousseau emblazoned the irrational side of humanity. According to Rousseau the state of nature that existed prior to the establishment of governments lacked even the slightest trace of civilization. People wandered without any possessions, foresight and morality apart from the quality of compassion.

They only owned a few tools or none at all and their ownership was greatly influenced by their bodily strength and ability to survive. People only lived by instinct in a situation of impartiality. Rousseau referred to this state of nature as idyllic. His dignified savages were overloaded by the conveniences and necessities of each day. His thinking and reasoning was focused towards asceticism. On the other hand according to Locke who was a supporter of material wealth and prosperity Rousseau’s opinion and concerns were far away cry.

According to Locke, one’s property goes beyond assets such as land and movables and includes even life and liberty. This contradicts Rousseau’s definition of property as he has a more spiritual aspect to the issue (Harris, 1993). Locke’s definition of property has been embraced by the modern leftist and liberal commentators. They have assumed that he was exclusive and noncom passionate with the real estate preservation as he actually considered someone’s body to be his or her possession which clearly contradicted the view held by Rousseau who was of the opinion that the body and soul to be God given.

Rousseau believes in a society that is utopian which is designed in such a way that it gives all men and women equal representation, he claims that people will gain significantly from civil liberty. Civil liberty alone makes man to be a master of his own destiny. He argues that there are natural inequalities in nature such as strength, sex and age that make some individuals to possess more liberty than others (Kelly, 1995). The social contract is therefore eliminates all the inequalities and since all the inequalities are done away with when coming up with a Commonwealth, all men are therefore equal as far as the law is concerned.

But according to Locke the society naturally creates capitalism, which is a system that is full of greed and inequality, which are not possible to justify by any means. There is no man who should have the right of appropriating more than what his share is. The arguments of Locke are inclined towards favoring those who are wealthy, with those who do not have to look for it in a society that is well designed in maintaining the wealthy and property of the rich with those who do not have being locked outside the wealthy bracket.

Conclusion Despite having some differences in their approach to the social contract these two philosophers remain great to date. They are responsible for the creation of governments through some revolutions in the past. They initiated the concept of legitimate power by the states, which they explained that the states only holds such power on behalf of those people it governs. Their achievements greatly exceed what an average man would ordinarily do to support the state.

The social contract brought about political order in the world. Reference: Harris, J. F. (1993): Philosophy at 33 1/3 rpm: themes of classic rock music; ISBN 0812692411, Open Court Publishing. Kelly, A. V. (1995): Education and democracy: principles and practices; ISBN 1853962058, SAGE. Morris, C. W. (1999): The social contract theorists: critical essays on Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau; ISBN 0847689077, Rowman & Littlefield .


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  • University/College: University of Chicago

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 17 November 2016

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