Rousseau’s notion of “Sovereign” in the Social Contract

English: Book "The Social Contract" ...

English: Book “The Social Contract” by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, translation into Spanish by Mariano Moreno (1810). Printed at the “Real Imprenta de niños expósitos” Español: Libro “El Contrato social” de Jean-Jacques Rousseau, traducido al castellano por Mariano Moreno (1810). Impreso en la “Real Imprenta de niños expósitos”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How does Rousseau explain the creation of a Sovereign” (or king) in the Social Contract?

Rousseau argues that with the development of society, man started to acquire property and interests that led to numerous social tensions. “A perpetual conflict arose between the right of stronger and the right of the first occupant, which only led to fights and murderers” (Williams 116). As a result of these barbaric acts both by the rich and the poor, men became “greedy, ambitious and wicked” (Williams, 116). In order to curb this chaos, the stronger members with the society argued for the formation of “a supreme power” that would govern the society “according to wise laws,” which would protect private property (Williams, 117). Thus, the “Sovereign” (or king) in the Social Contract was created. According to the social contract, the powers invested into the sovereign were shared, meaning thatthere is no associate over whom one does not acquire the same right as one grants him over oneself,” and, as a result, “one gains the equivalent of all one loses” (Williams, 121).

Williams, David. The Enlightenment. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge UP, 1999. Print.

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