“I am not made like any of those I have seen. I venture to believe that I am not made like any of those who are in existence. If I am not better, at least I am different.”
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (French: [ʒɑ̃ʒak ʁuso]; 28 June 1712 – 2 July 1778) was a Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer of the 18th century. His political philosophy influenced the French Revolution as well as the overall development of modern political, sociological, and educational thought.

Rousseau's novel Émile, or On Education is a treatise on the education of the whole person for citizenship. His sentimental novel Julie, or the New Heloise was of importance to the development of pre-romanticism and romanticism in fiction. Rousseau's autobiographical writings — his Confessions, which initiated the modern autobiography, and his Reveries of a Solitary Walker — exemplified the late 18th-century movement known as the Age of Sensibility, and featured an increased focus on subjectivity and introspection that later characterized modern writing. His Discourse on the Origin of Inequality and his On the Social Contract are cornerstones in modern political and social thought. He argued that private property was conventional and the beginning of true civil society.
ROUSSEAU’PHILOSOPHY ON THEORY OF NATURAL HUMAN: “The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.”
The first man who, having fenced in a piece of land, said "This is mine," and found people naïve enough to believe him, that man was the true founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars, and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows: Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.          
            — Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on Inequality, 1754
In common with other philosophers of the day, Rousseau looked to a hypothetical State of Nature as a normative guide.
Rousseau criticized Hobbes for asserting that since man in the "state of nature . . . has no idea of goodness he must be naturally wicked; that he is vicious because he does not know virtue". On the contrary, Rousseau holds that "uncorrupted morals" prevail in the "state of nature" and he especially praised the admirable moderation of the Caribbeans in expressing the sexual urge despite the fact that they live in a hot climate, which "always seems to inflame the passions".
Rousseau asserted that the stage of human development associated with what he called "savages" was the best or optimal in human development, between the less-than-optimal extreme of brute animals on the one hand and the extreme of decadent civilization on the other. "...Nothing is so gentle as man in his primitive state, when placed by nature at an equal distance from the stupidity of brutes and the fatal enlightenment of civil man." Referring to the stage of human development which Rousseau associates with savages, Rousseau writes:
"Hence although men had become less forebearing, and although natural pity had already undergone some alteration, this period of the development of human faculties, maintaining a middle position between the indolence of our primitive state and the petulant activity of our egocentrism, must have been the happiest and most durable epoch. The more one reflects on it, the more one finds that this state was the least subject to upheavals and the best for man, and that he must have left it only by virtue of some fatal chance happening that, for the common good, ought never to have happened. The example of savages, almost all of whom have been found in this state, seems to confirm that the human race had been made to remain in it always; that this state is the veritable youth of the world; and that all the subsequent progress has been in appearance so many steps toward the perfection of the individual, and in fact toward the decay of the species."
"Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains" - A Discussion about Rousseau's Concept of Liberty

‘Liberty’ only a simple word?

The whole world speaks about freedom. The call for freedom is as old as mankind itself. The first man, who was born into the world, already carried the ‘cry for freedom’ in his heart without realising that the demand for freedom was becoming the main idea in the era of Enlightenment and of the French Revolution. Once we had developed the intellect and the awareness to understand what it means – to be free – we immediately started to lose it again. These may have been the words of a great man (between genius and insanity). I’m talking about Jean – Jacques Rousseau – a ‘human soul’ full of colour and interesting faces, scarred for his whole life by the damning circumstances of today’s world, ostracised and pursued in most stages of his life, respected all over the world – only after his death.

„I know my heart, and have studied mankind; I am not made like any one I have been acquainted with, perhaps like no one in existence; if not better; I at least claim originality, and whether Nature did wisely in breaking the mould with which she formed me, can only be determined after having read this work..“ (Rousseau, 2006 : 12)

I think he was right: he is definitely not like anyone else. His thoughts – full of audacity an ingenuity. His heart – full of emotion and passion. His pessimism – a strong reminder to the people of his time. When we are reading Rousseau’s writings then we are not simply reading his writings – but rather the story of his life.

In this essay I want to convey an impression to the reader of Rousseau’s concept of liberty, but also with the consciousness that I cannot fulfil its complexity within a few pages. Rather I want to raise the reader’s awareness for the ‘Reveries of a Solitary Walker’ (philosopher, educator and political thinker). We are all writing a part about ourselves, when we are writing about Rousseau and in doing so we can learn a lot about our own personality. Liberty in Rousseau’s understanding is not only a simple word – it’s an all-encompassing attitude towards life.

‘The Savoyard Priest’

In the ‘Creed of a Savoyard Priest’ we gain an insight into the metaphysical portrayal of the fundamentals of humans liberty. Rousseau develops a radical contrary position towards the contemporary materialism in this part of the Emile.

Firstly, the priest describes, according to Descartes, his experience of uncertainty and the state of radically doubt, which is essential to the search for truth.

“I exist, and I have senses through which I receive impressions. This is the first truth that strikes me and I am forced to accept it.” (Rousseau, 2011: 286 )

While we grasp our own existence as such, we are also making a crucial step towards the widening of our conscious mind and also one step further on the way to the search for truth.

“My sensations take place in myself, for they make me aware of my own existence; but their cause is outside me, for they affect me whether I have any reason for them or not, and they are produced or destroyed independently of me. So I clearly perceive that my sensation, which is within me, and its cause or its object, which is outside me, are different things.“ (ibid.: 286)

He does not only acknowledge the existence of his own personality, but rather also of other entities, which he calls the ‘objects of his mind’. Everything that he feels outside of himself and which acts upon his senses, he calls matter (ibid.). Furthermore, he discovers the power of his sensation and finds his mental ability to compare them before he finally comes to the conclusion that “to perceive is to feel; to compare is to judge; to judge and to feel are not the same things“. (ibid.) The fact, that man is able to compare things shows awareness and therefore the activity of the process of thinking and for Rousseau that is sufficient proof of freedom. The process of thinking and its consequences must be the result of a special cause:

“(…) inanimate bodies have no action but motion, and there is no real action without will. This is my first principle. I believe, therefore, that there is a will which sets the universe in motion and gives life to nature.“ (ibid.: 290)

This is the prime dogma of the savoyard priest and the first article of his creed. He goes further:

“I will do something and I do it; I will to move my body and it moves, but if an inanimate body, when at rest, should begin to move itself, the thing is incomprehensible and without precedent. The will is known to me in its action, not in its nature. I know this will as a cause of motion, but to conceive of matter as producing motion is clearly to conceive of an effect without a cause, which is not to conceive at all.“ (ibid.: 291)

Finally his thoughts lead him to his second creed.

“If matter in motion points me to a will, matter in motion according to fixed laws points me to an intelligence; (…)“ (ibid.: 292)

Because of our human behaviour and our sophisticated manner of comparing things in the universe we are characterised as an active and intelligent thinking being – this is the proof of our existence. Consequently, in Rousseau’s opinion, men have a special position in the universe because of their unique will and their free actions which results from their selfawareness.

“It is true, therefore, that man is lord of the earth on which he dwells; for not only does he tame all the beasts, not only does he control its elements through his industry; but he alone knows how to control it; by contemplation he takes possession of the stars which he cannot approach. (…) Wretched soul, it is your gloomy philosophy which makes you like the beasts; or rather in vain do you seek to degrade yourself; your genius belies your principles, your kindly heart belies your doctrines, and even the abuse of your powers proves their excellence in your own despite” (ibid.: 296)

Men, as the most intelligent being on earth, should be anxious by nature to love and cherish that, which was given to them by God. After all the nature – thought in proportion, harmony and peace – goes to the other extreme: chaos – confusion – disorder. The power given by God became the ‘evil on earth’. Men’s passions and sensations flow into a nasty game – man is a ‘free’ slave of his senses.

“No; man is not one; I will and I will not; I feel myself at once a slave and a free ma; I perceive what is right, I love it, and I do what is wrong; I am active when I listen to the voice of reason; I am passive when I am carried away by my passions; and when I yield, my worst suffering is the knowledge that I might have resisted. (ibid.: 297)

Finally, the personal autonomy plays an important role. Because of the fact that the individual will is independent of humans’ senses, man has the free choice to decide if he will yield to his passions or if his pure reason will be the winner.

“When I blame myself for this weakness, I listen to my own will alone; I am a slave in my vices, a free man in my remorse; the feeling of freedom is never effaced in me but when I myself do wrong, and when I at length prevent the voice of the soul from protesting against the authority of the body.” (ibid.: 299p.)

The human reason enables man to make comparisons and to deduce his judgments from it – it is the same with the freedom of man. If we make the right judgment, we choose the royal road to all good things at the same time; but if we make the wrong judgment, all bad things reveal themselves to us. It is our cognitive capacity which lets us choose one way or another. Therefore, the cause is grounded in ourselves. It follows the third creed of the Savoyard Priest:

“Either there is no original impulse, or every original impulse has no antecedent cause, and there is no will properly so-called without freedom. Man is therefore free to act, and as such he is animated by an immaterial substance; that is the third article of my creed.” (ibid.: 300)

So it is also up to men to decide what is good and to oppose bad thoughts in his mind. Nature gave them the freedom and the natural talent to want the ‘good’ – but in the end it will never prevent men from making bad decisions.

In conclusion, Rousseau initiated a positive notion of freedom with the third creed of the Savoyard Priest, while humans have the capability to act out of themselves. Now we have to ask the questions: How have men actually lived in natural autonomy (as long as it has ever existed). And which stages of development did he experience before he divested himself of that natural good? How did the transition from the state of nature to the modern, civilised society take place – a state whose chains are ultimately put on by man himself?

‘The Roots of Liberty and the Loss of the Natural Autonomy‘

While Rousseau was writing the second Discourse, he had a France in his mind, in which the social downfall seemed to be unstoppable. As a ‘child of his time’ he digested all impressions of the society with a clearly culture pessimistic ‘handwriting’. At the heart of the second question, proposed by the ‘Academy of Dijon’ , is the analysis of human anthropology. In Rousseau’s opinion it is necessary to know humans nature itself before you can deal with the question of ‘the origin and the foundation of the inequality among mankind’.

He constructs a pre-social state, the ‘homme naturel’, and describes man’s development into a civilised being in the ‘homme civilisé’. The theory of the existence of a ‘state of nature’ should be seen as a comparison with the present society and not as a demand to go backwards to a natural fabric which has probably never existed (Gülbahar, 2000: 42pp.). It follows a reflection of pristine mankind, its real needs of beneficiaries to work out what the ‘divine will’ has created and what human hand pretends to have created. Rousseau makes a distinction between two species of inequality among men: firstly, the natural or physical inequality, which is established by nature and consists in the difference of age, health, bodily strength and the qualities of the mind or of the soul; and secondly, the moral or political inequality, which is the main reason for men’s misery, because it is anxious for the privileges of the riches, the scholars and powerful people – in the end a social malady of the poor and weak people. Rousseau characterised man in the state of nature as the following:

„[…]always walked on two feet, made the same use of his hands that we do of ours, extended his looks over the whole face of nature, and measured with his eyes the vast extend of the heavens “ (Rousseau, 2004: 5)

The natural selection decides, who will survive (he, who has a strong constitution) and who will be killed (he, who has a weak nature). The body of the ‘wild men’ is wild men’s only instrument – the instrument to survive. Unfortunately, the men of our days are in a delirious state of their own sensations and have forgotten to use their natural strength. Men in the state of nature wear a robust and almost unalterable amour, which protect them loyally and faithfully from all unnatural diseases. The only enemies are the natural infirmities – infancy, old age and sickness of every kind. In civilisation “we inflict more diseases upon ourselves than medicine can supply us with remedies“. (ibid.:8) Man is going to be weak, fearful and martial once he is looking for a life in society and becames the slave of the civilisation. While the animal always goes by its natural instinct and steer the course that have been prescribed to it, man on the other hand diverges from the rules laid down for him by his detriment. As already shown in the ‘Creed of the Savoyard Priest’, man is, because of his independent will, free in his actions, which also means that he consequently does not always decide on the best path with regards to his own life. Another difference between man and beast is the ‘faculty of improvement’ (perféctibilité). Whereas a beast is, after a few months, the master of its natural faculties, man always aspires to greater things during his whole life. Here you can find the ‘root of the evil’. Because of the perceived endlessness of human’s faculties, man progressively walks away from his original condition and “at long run, renders him both his own and nature’s tyrant.” ( ibid.: 12) At first, savage man is inferior to nature relying purely on instinct and lived with functions that are merely animalistic. His soul lives from plain sensation [“to will and not to will, to wish and to fear” (ibid.: 12)] until his wants to develop, kindle his passions and improve his reason – the desires of savage man never extend beyond his physical wants:

“(…) he knows no goods but food, a female, and rest; he fears no evil but pain, and hunger; I say pain, and not death; for no animal, merely as such, will ever know what it is to die, and the knowledge of death, and of its terrors, is one of the first acquisitions made by man, in consequence of his deviating from the animal state“ (ibid.: 12)

Savage man is not anxious to give up his wildness. His humility is the reason why it is easy to fulfil all necessary wants for his self-preservation. His heart asks nothing from him and his soul rests in its pure existence – he doesn’t know any sorrows or needs. That means that man in this condition is only able to feel rather to reflect these feelings. In the state of ‘pure feelings’, human’s inner life is still not made for profound emotional relations. They just contact other beings of his species for the reason of self-preservation. To sum up Rousseau’s main thoughts regarding to men’s life in the state of nature, it is an unworried and satisfied life in absolute autarky.

After all of this we come to the decisive turning point. For the reason that in humans nature the drive to perfectibility is inherent, he has to find a way to advance his faculties. Coincidently, he has to learn to communicate with others to express his interest towards them. Thinking implies the development of a common language – to master a language implies thinking.

“The first language of man, the most universal an most energetic of all languages, in short, the only language he had occasion for, before there was a necessity of persuading assembled mulitudes, was the cry of nature“ (ibid.: 17)

With the birth of speech moral relations also become closer. Now, man is reaching a crossroads between his natural behaviour and the step into the fatal floods of passion, which is an unavoidable result of human life as a community. The only virtue of humans given by nature is, as Rousseau believes, that of natural pity.

“In fact, what is generosity, what clemency, what humanity, but pity applied to the weak, to the guilty, or to the human species in general? Even benevolence and friendship, if we judge right, will appear the effects of a constant pity, fixed upon a particular object: for to wish that a person may not suffer, what is it but to wish that he may be happy“

All social virtues and moral relations emerge from the natural pity. With the increasing distance of the original condition of human beings the pity loses its expressive power at the same time when man makes use of his reason. It is reason that engenders self-love, the philosophy establishes loneliness – man becomes egoistic and thinks: “You may perish for aught I care, nothing can hurt me.” (ibid.: 24) Rousseau characterises the pity as a natural sentiment which moderates the activity of self-love in every individual and keeps the whole human species alive. It is like a natural law, which stands for manners and virtue in the state of nature. The individuals base their lives intuitively on the maxim of natural goodness: “Consult your own happiness with as little prejudice as you can to that of others” (ibid.). That is also the proof that Hobbes was wrong with his assumption that man is evil by nature, because he has no concept of goodness. Moreover, Rousseau assumes, that savage men had no notion of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ nor any idea of justice, because his reason is still not ready to teach them its meanings. Finally, all passions, which make humans forget their original nature arises from the pity. The strongest and most spiteful character of all passions has the feeling of love which seems capable of destroying the human species. Such moral ‘degenerate’ emotions we find only in an advanced society. Savage man by contrast is a being:

“wandering about in the forest, without industry, without speech, without any fixed residence, an equal stranger to war and every social connection, without standing in any shape in need of his fellows, as well as without any desire of hurting them, and perhaps without ever distinguishing them individually one from the other, subject to few passions, and finding in himself all he wants (…) savage man thus circumstanced had no knowledge or sentiment […]“ (ibid.: 27)

The origin of oppression and slavery can therefore not be rooted in the state of nature - Rousseau only sees this phenomenon in civilisation. Furthermore, savages cannot know the meaning of domination and servitude (this presupposes dependency) – he only enjoys his life in natural autonomy as his own master. Thus, the inequality between man and man in the state of nature is hardly perceivable; so the root of all evil rests at the ‘foot of civilisation’. Now that we know how savage man differs to the civilised being, we consider the heart of misery.
“The first man, who, after enclosing a piece of ground, took it into his head to say, „”his is mine“, and found people simple enough to believe him, was the true founder of civil society” (ibid.: 30)

To ‘own something’ establishes ‘property’; property establishes ‘richness’ and ‘poverty’; poverty and richness imply domination and power – the birth of inequality and slavery. When man was about to gain property he was still so far alienated from his original condition that nothing could stay as it was. In this stage of civilisation man is no longer only anxious about his sentiments; he is going to perfect his faculties. Now, the era of progress has started – the heart is going to be softened; families arise and exist as the first little societies and with them the typical roles of the sexes. Man in society is going to be lazy; he forges tools, to become more lazy – body and mind lose their assets. In addition to the families whole peoples emerge – unified through morals and culture – where in former times forest existed.

The savage, who was once so free, is going to be a part of a social fabric – far away from the unworried life in autarky. Humans no longer only want to eat, sleep and hunt, they want to possess – more than others; they want to be pretty – prettier than others; they want to be able – more able than others; they want to love and to be loved – in the end leading to their own misery driven by jealousy, envy, vanity and shame. Ferocity crosses the country; the natural pity seems to be no longer adequate to protect humans from themselves. The equality of men is history; they became interdependent when they decide to cooperate with others. They cultivate fields in the community and divide them among themselves. The first law, that arises from here, will be called the ‘right of property’, which could not have been wanted by nature. Because:

“The man that had most strength performed most labour; the most dexterous turned his labour to best account; the most ingenious found out methods of lessening his labour; the husbandman required more iron, or the smith more corn, and while both worked equally, one earned a great deal by his labour, while the other could scarce live by his.”(ibid.: 40)

Dependencies were formed; self-love became selfishness – closely followed by a martial condition and the destruction of humans. The highest level of inequality is reached when the most powerful man in the state becomes a despot and only the ‘right of conquest’, which in Rousseau’s opinion is no right at all, sets the rules of society’s life – this is state of nature, which Hobbes describes as “war of all against all”.

Rightly, you could ask yourself now if men were really born free, as Rousseau maintains. As we have seen in the Second Discourse, the desire to perfectibility was a natural desire, which ends in social dependence with the outburst of passions. Therefore men gave birth to the ‘chains of misery’. Finally, mankind is standing on the abyss of despair and so we have to ask the question: “How does man can save himself from his self-destruction?”

‘ Political Freedom - Civil Virtue through the Social Contract ‘

The result of the second discourse is very dark – the forthcoming task is even more difficult. How can the true social life of humans be arranged one, which is not based on a relation of ‘ruler’ and ‘ruled’ but rather which allows the sovereignty of the people to take its proper place? Moreover, an identity of the individual and the common will must be established to transform the state of war into a social environment ruled by morality and humanity. Slavery cannot have been wanted by nature, because strength and power do not produce a ‘right’ in its natural meaning – legitimate authority between people relies only on contracts. A free man could never ‘alienate’, ‘sell’ or throw his liberty away on somebody else because it belongs to them and no one has the right to dispose of it.

“To renounce liberty is to renounce being a man, to surrender the rights of humanity and even its duties. For him who renounces everything no indemnity is possible. Such a renunciation is incompatible with man’s nature; to remove all liberty from his will is to remove all morality from his act.” (Rousseau, 2010a:8)

The self-preservation of mankind requires, that all people unite and find a form of communal life, in which everyone only obeys himself. Everybody sings his individual rights over, his property and his strength to the community and therefore he accepts a role subordinate to that of the highest authority – the ‘volonté générale’ or ‘gerneral will‘. As a consequence, a synthesis of individual and common will results, so that therefore law and liberty can also be realised coincidently – a society, in which “right means power and power means right” (Neumann, 2000: 153); everybody is immediately going to be a part of a great racial corpus. In the end you will find a social structure, in which every individual is as free as before the social contract. Natural freedom of men will be substituted by civil freedom in his role as a ‘citoyen’ – “each man, in giving himself to all, gives himself to nobody” (Rousseau, 2010a:12). Furthermore, every citizen is bound in a double capacity: firstly, as a member of the sovereign he is bound to the individuals; and secondly, as a member of the state to the sovereign. Everyone’s individual security is protected by the collective so long as the body consists in its unity.

[i]“[...]whoever refuses to obey the general will shall be compelled to do so by the whole body. This means nothing less than that he will be forced to be free [...]”(ibid.: 14)

While man gains ‘civil liberty’ he also gains a ‘moral liberty’, that brings the true ‘master of himself’ to life. The obedience to a law, which we prescribe to ourselves is liberty – liberty with the meaning of a free agreement of free people. The civil liberty will be lifted in a transcendend sphere of higher human morality – the ‘general will’ (according to Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative); the law functions as a bridge to gain civil virtue. For this reason the inalienability of sovereignty is an essential point of Rousseau’s theory. You cannot devolve a political and, coincidently, morally justified will – it holds the social and collective bond together. The will of people (and therefore also the will of the sovereign), can only be practised by the will of people; this justifies the theory of absolute sovereignty of people. Consequently, the ‘general will’ is also inalienable:

“[...] for will either is, or is not, general; it is the will either of the body of the people or only of a part of it. In the first case, the will, when declared, is an act of Sovereignty and constitutes law; in the second, it is merely a particular will, or act of magistracy – at the most a decree.“(ibid.: 19)

Emile -The Circle of Liberty ‘

Just to remember: The transition of men’s natural liberty via the loss of that freedom through the ‘chains of our passions’ lead to “a form of association which will defend and protect with the whole common force the person and goods of each associate, and which each, while uniting himself with all, may still obey himself alone, and remain as free as before” (ibid.:11).

After we have understood, why ‘man is born free’, he is going to resign to the course of nature, become a slave of his passions and, driven by reason, he finally accepts that he will only reach his individual perfectibility if he would subordinate his personal interests to the volonté générale in favour of the common good, we should ask at this point how man obtains after all the faculty and knowledge to live up to expectations of a good and loyal citizen of peoples community. In a word: by education. Unfortunately, this question cannot be a part of this essay; a fact that I deeply regret!

When we write about the Social Contract, we also partially write about education; and when we talk about education we must also talk about the Social Contract. It is not a coincidence that both works were published in the same year. The process comes full circle with the education of a child so that he can become a free and virtuous citizen. Rousseau’s concept of liberty find its solution in the ‘Emile’.

You have to look at Rousseau’s complete works to appreciate his thoughts (of an impetuous freethinker), fears (especially of the cultural decay under the influence of the French absolutism) and dreams (life in a free society, which maybe just Geneva came close) and to understand this philosopher and his appeal to his friends and foes, the admirers and the envious, fellow-citizens and rulers and finally to all his readers. In the end there is a path which may lead you in many different directions and it is up to the reader, which one he chooses.

In the end I will tell him: “While you are reading Rousseau, you are reading in your heart. You will find in his works what your desire hopes to find.”
ROUSSEAU WAYS TO LIBERTY: “The first person who, having enclosed a plot of land, took it into his head to say this is mine and found people simple enough to believe him was the true founder of civil society. What crimes, wars, murders, what miseries and horrors would the human race have been spared, had some one pulled up the stakes or filled in the ditch and cried out to his fellow men: "Do not listen to this imposter. You are lost if you forget that the fruits of the earth belong to all and the earth to no one!”
“Every man having been born free and master of himself, no one else may under any pretext whatever subject him without his consent. To assert that the son of a slave is born a slave is to assert that he is not born a man.”


This essay replies the question, which looks at how Rousseau’s assertion “Man is born free, and is everywhere in chains” arose, and how it may be remedied. This situation which states that “Man is born free, and is everywhere in chains” is mentioned in the beginning of Rousseau’s book called Social Contract. However, it is understood that this situation originates from Rousseau’s book called the “Discourse on the Origin of Inequality”. This above assertion can be read either as a recipe for the abolition of human freedom and liberties and the absorption of the individual into a sovereign collective. Or, it can also be a celebration of freedom, liberty and the rights of man, which, in a way, condemns all forms of dictatorship, absolute or despotic and arbitrary government that coerces its citizens through the use of its power.
This situation arose because according to Rousseau, man is good by nature, just as he is free by nature but he is made bad, as he is made unfree by society’s institutions that negate his power. Rousseau says that man in Natural State does not require society in order to be truly free since naturally speaking man was born free. However, although the above situation  originates from his “Discourse on the Origin of Inequality”, it seems also right to argue from what Rousseau put in his Social Contract that he appears to ignore how this change of the situation in which a man who was born free and became everywhere in chains came about. One of the reason for this can be because Rousseau is not an historian since, as it is known, man changes through history. That is why Rousseau says that he does not know how the change come about but he thinks that he knows how to make this situation legitimate. This is simply when he argued in Chapter One of Book I of his “Social Contract” that:
“…How this change come about? I do not know. What can make it legitimate? That question I think I can answer…”
However despite all this, there still exist one primitive characteristic of human being, which is what is called the ‘natural man’ who, according to Rousseau, was born free.
Rousseau’s “Discourse on the Origin of Inequality” falls into two main parts apart from the dedication. In this book, Rousseau discusses the natural man in the preface and the first part; while in the second part, he states the course in which the latter primitive human nature, which is by itself good, has been corrupted and decayed. He argues that it is not the primitive nature of man that make him to be everywhere in chains but it is actually from the society’s corruption that man encounters in the society that he gets all the injustices and bad things of which he is the victim. This is because when Rousseau speaks of the natural man being good, he does not say that man has any positive virtue; rather, what he says is that man is without vices. His predecessors attributed human nature to reason, but Rousseau said that reason itself is not natural to human beings because humans are naturally born free. He argues that, naturally speaking, human being lacks virtue and he does not do wrong things and commit no harm at all. It is therefore arguable that all bad people have only physical existence and no moral existence at all. In Rousseau’s state of nature, the right of the stronger is no right at all and no family had ever existed. Unlike most writers, Rousseau highlights clearly in Emile the distinction that exists between goodness and virtue and between good and virtuous. Rousseau’s philosophy is that primitive men were incapable of virtue, as he asserts in the Discourse On the Origin of Inequality that men in the primitive state do neither have any kind of moral relationship nor know existing duties among themselves. Rousseau’s view of natural man remained unchanged since he kept on arguing that being solitary, the natural man was, on one hand, incapable of virtue since he was without language, i.e. unreflective, incapable of forming general ideas or of comparing himself to other humans. While one the other hand, he says that the natural man was innocent and incapable of cruelty, envy, or deceit, which are the three vices that Rousseau hated most. In the same line of argument, Rousseau attacks Grotius in Part I of the Discourse on the Origin of Inequality by denying that man is naturally sociable. This is because natural man had only two practicable principles, which are called in Rousseau’s words ‘operations of the human soul’ and ‘sentiments’, viz. self-love and pity. According to Rousseau, there was no law, state or inequalities during all this time.
Rousseau outlines the two main characteristics that differentiate human beings to other animals by saying, firstly, that human beings have the freedom of the will because they are not determined by instinct as it is the case with other animals. This is because human beings can oppose or deny nature, as for example they can choose or reject anything they do not want or anything that is different to their will. Lastly, Rousseau argues what can be called humans’ perfectivity, which means simply that man is the only creature amongst others who can improve things he found in the planet. There is no end to what a human being can do since everything he wants to do is achievable. Nevertheless, it is said that natural man was indulgent and lazy, but how did he become social and, as a result to be everywhere in chains? To this question, Rousseau answers that it is because of historical catastrophy and other problems that happened to nature. In order to fight this catastrophy, men got together and developed their own speeches and needs. In addition, man’s conscious brought some morality but he was still free since he could withdraw from anything, which he considers to be in his disadvantage. After that, human being came to start practising venture; and, from this, as it is know, in absence of the law everyone is a judge in his own court. This brought a lot of tension, which at the end resulted in the sacrifice of man’s pity and the birth of the notion of private property. As it is known, in this notion of private property there are statements such as “this is mine... or this, that...belongs to me” and this brought an increase of prudence amongst men who were not thinking as they used to think previously in the natural state. Rousseau argues that the foundation of the private property is really the source of all the injustices and quarrels that man is the victim of and, which makes him to be everywhere in chains. Rousseau argues that since there was no court, judge or institutions to arbiter when this kind of conflicts between men arose, human being became dependent on others; and, as a consequence, he became enslaved.
John C. Hall explains briefly and clearly the situation, which states how the natural man, who was innocent, became corrupted through the society’s use of private property and bad laws and institutions. This is confirmed when he states that:
“…It is this corruption, and not to the original nature of man, that we owe the injustices of society and wickedness of individual men…”
In other words, it can be said that Rousseau started his Social Contract by saying that “Man is born free, and he is everywhere in chains” because by nature man is good, just as he is free by nature. He says that by nature, man is solitary, governed, motivated by self-interests, and pitiful toward other humans who are suffering. The capacity of self-improvement and the free will make distinguish the man to other animals; and, all this infers man’s capacity to progress from the mere innocence to virtue. Rousseau views also that freedom is an essential part of man’s happiness and that it can never be in man’s interest to loose his freedom. It is also said that virtue is a necessary condition of happiness, while vice is a sufficient unhappiness. In Rousseau’s point of view, virtue arises from man’s exercise of his own capacity for self-improvement; and since a master cannot impose this, it appears right to presuppose freedom. As slavery depraves man, not merely inhibiting the acquisition of virtue but also by destroying man’s natural innocence, it is therefore right to assert that human happiness can only be achieved through man’s freedom.
In Book V of Emile, Rousseau asserts what is called the ‘moral freedom’ theory, which implies that a man is only free when he is the master of himself but not when he is the slave of his passions. This is when he states that:
“... man only is truly free who is master of himself and not the slave of his own passions. In this sense only the virtuous man is free; only he is free to achieve what his rational, as opposed to his impulsive, self wants”.
This situation is also explained when he adds in chapter one of Book I an argument stating that man:
“… Thinks himself to be the masters of others, and still remains a greater slave than they.”
Rousseau says in Social Contract that man is made bad, as he is coerced by institutions that negate his power; and because of this situation, he is made unfree since all regimes coerce humans. He justifies this by stating for example that slavery is the opposite of freedom since in it there is an obligation to do what someone else wants rather than what one wants to do for himself. Slavery is said to be wrong, bad and destructive of the happiness of those who are subject to it; and he explains that slavery simply means, not subject to your own passion but to another human being’s will. ‘Man is born free, and he is everywhere in chains’ constitutes the keynote in the Social Contract; and it seems that the chains referred to in this sentence are social.
While comparing the problem of the squaring circle with that of the rule of law, Rousseau said that the law has the role not only of providing freedom but also to curtail it. In this point, he held that for every freedom and liberty that the law has to provide, it has also a role to curtail them. John Locke’s views of social contract and the idea of a natural right were all rejected in Rousseau’s philosophical theories. It is said that the society’s condition is one in which all and every single right is alienated to the sovereign. For John Locke, a positive law system set up by a constitutional system can really enlarge men’s freedom; but he also thinks that many positive law systems do diminish men’s freedom. He agrees in this sense that there are some laws that are good, i.e. the laws that defend men’s natural rights, and some others that are very bad, i.e. the laws that abuse and neglect men’s natural rights. However, Rousseau rejects the idea that there are ‘natural rights’ and it is the responsibilities of rules to preserve. This is since Rousseau looks at the word law, as something just, but when he thinks about the sort of law he comes across in this world we are living in, he seems to see that all of the laws are unjust; and therefore it is these unjust laws that keep on making the man who was born free to be everywhere in chains. Rousseau rejects the idea that there are original ‘natural rights’ and that it is the responsibility of rulers to preserve. About these unjust laws in the world, Rousseau put, for example, in Book IV of Emile that:
“The universal spirit of laws in all countries is to favour the stronger against the weaker, and those who have against those who have nothing: this disadvantage is inevitable and without exception."      
As it is said above, Rousseau argues that modern states not only deny human beings the liberty and freedom that they used to have in their natural state but it is characterised as a commerce. He argues that this commerce is now transformed by commercial states where there is a difference between the rich, who are very few, and the poor, who are many, in the society; and, therefore, it brings Rousseau to realise that the rich are more protected while the poor are oppressed. He says also that all modern political systems are on the preservation of this situation.
Concerning the remedy to the situation, which states that “man is born free and he is everywhere in chains”, Rousseau thought that it might be redressed with the use of the General Will in the social contract. As it is known, Rousseau has solved this situation, which in other words is a problem between individual man and the state, in his book called the “Social Contract”. The Social contract in Rousseau’s thought has to be between each member of the society, or each individual, and the ‘whole’ for the sake of the common good of everyone in the society. It is suggested that peace maintained by mutual pact, or social contract, can be the remedy to this situation since man’s natural pity has already disappeared and that the natural state does not exist anymore. It is even argued that it is hard, or even impossible, for human beings who are living in the modern and contemporary time to return again to the previous existing state of nature. It is argued that since there is equality and, also, that no one deserves more rights than others in the social contract, the application of the social contract with its principle of the General Will is a good solution to man’s corruption and injustices that make him to be everywhere in chains. With this, it can be argued that there would be no source of conflict between the state and the individual. There would be a formation of an artificial personality between each person giving himself to society while, at the same time, retaining his freedom as before.
The General Will in the social contract is the solution to the above situation since it is sovereign and it is the foundation of any association, which has personality and a corporate identity; and this association is called ‘the state’, when it is in passive, and ‘the sovereign’ when it is in active. This association has a will like any other person; and Rousseau calls such a will the ‘General Will’, which is a will by the whole which is as well law. The General Will is the sole source of good law, which can justly govern everyone in the society. This is because Rousseau sees law, as an expression of the General Will, which has to be just since the General Will is something righteous. Rousseau argues that the General Will has to be general and it is totally different from the ‘will of all’ since, with the use of the General Will, each individual belonging to the society must participate in legislation because the law has to apply to all and every members of the society equally. Humans’ capacity to the General Will is what constitutes their freedom. Norman P. Barry explains that, according to Rousseau, the General Will is the true freedom since it is an obedience to the moral law that people impose upon themselves. This is because people are free when they promote the interests which they share together with others but this is not when they just try to maximise their own selfish interests. This argument does not depend upon naive altruism, but it is rather upon good institutions being so designed that people would have a way of imposing law on themselves in order to advance common interests. The General Will, which is from ‘all for the whole’ is said to determine the nature of the society; and, in formal limitation, it is itself said to be moral. Rousseau says that originally human beings were natural based but now they are moral based as they consider their actions according to moral principles. 
In other words, Rousseau proposed, as a solution to the above situation,  that society should be governed by the General Will since it legitimates the government and it is the most important thing for any government’s legitimacy at any time. This is for example when Rousseau argues that:
“The first and most important rule of legitimate or popular government... government whose object is the good of the to follow in everything the General Will...”  
With the use of the General Will, as it is mentioned above, Rousseau asserted that each individual citizen of the society needs to have sense within him; and, as a participant and a contributor to it, he prescribes rules, which in turn as a private individual himself, he has to obey.
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