What was the Rousseau’s Views on “Nature of States”?

Jean Jacques Rousseau is uncomfortable with the idea that sovereignty can be transferred either by consent or through the ballot; actually he did not think it possible even.

Rousseau justifies the need for the State by beginning his arguments in the ‘Social Contract’ with the description of the state of nature in which human beings were rather happy but were ultimately driven out of it because of various obstacles to their preservation (some of these obstacles that he identifies are natural disasters, individual weakness and common miseries).

Thus human beings come to realize that for the fullest realisation of their potential and for greatest liberty it is essential for them to come together and co-operate through a law making and enforcing body.

This State would be thus a result of a contract that human beings create to establish possibilities of self-regulation and self-government. In his scheme of affairs individuals were to be directly involved in law making and obeying these laws would not be akin to obeying a sovereign authority outside on oneself but it would amount to obeying oneself and this to Rousseau constitutes freedom.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was born in Geneva June 28, 1712. H ...

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Individuals are thus to vote in disregard of their private interest, to each individual who is an indivisible part of the sovereign what matters is only the interest of the body politic itself.

Rousseau calls this general will. For Rousseau the sovereign is the people themselves in new form of association and the sovereign’s will is the will of each person.

The government is thus the result of an agreement among the citizens and is legitimate only to the extent to which it fulfills the instructions of the general will and obviously should it fail to do so it can be revoked or changed.


Hobbes’s view was challenged in the eighteenth century by Jean- Jacques Rousseau, who claimed that Hobbes was taking socialized persons and simply imagining them living outside of the society in which they were raised.

He affirmed instead that people were neither good nor bad. Men knew neither vice nor virtue since they had almost no dealings with each other. Their bad habits are the products of civilization. Nevertheless the conditions of nature forced people to enter a state of society by establishing a civil society.

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