Western Political Thought Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712 − 1778) -Social Contract Philosopher for Arunachal Pradesh PSC (2020)

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Jean Jacques Rousseau - Western Political Thought: Social Contract Philosopher (Political Science)


  • Well known social contract philosopher.

  • Given historic theory of General Will.

  • Was product of his times and was influenced by his circumstances.

  • Does not agree that each man is devil by birth.

  • Also refuses to accept that religion is opposed to state.

  • His most influential writing- ‘The Social Contract’ brought him widespread reputation.

Major Concepts

Image Major Concepts:

Image Major Concepts

Human Nature

  • Man had no evil tendencies by birth.

  • Wrong social actions made him evil and quarrelsome.

  • Man, by nature has two instincts-

    • self-love

    • sympathy or instinct of mutual aid

  • These instinct makes struggle for existence easier.

  • Also, does more good than harm.

  • Emergence of another instinct called ‘conscience’.

  • This emerges out of clash between the other two.

  • Pride was the root cause of many evils.

  • Instinct by nature-man’s freedom to choose his own path.

  • This freedom is essential for the perfection of mankind.

State of Nature

Image State of Nature

Image State of Nature

Social Contract

Image Social Contract

Image Social Contract

  • By way of contract man surrender everything to society.

  • Being member of society retained everything.

  • Rights surrendered to body not individual

  • Contact had organic character.

  • It was moral, collective and had a public person.

  • *Rousseau’s contract was a continuous process.

Theory of General Will

  • People surrendered all rights to a collective sovereign.

  • And bowed before the General Will, which is ultimate analysis of sovereign.

  • Two terms to be understood for understanding General Will.

  • Actual Will and Real Will.

Image Theory of General Will

Image Theory of General Will

  • According to Rousseau General Will is the sum total of Real Will.

  • Based on reason, will of all individual for community welfare.

  • Rousseau’s sovereign is General will which is permanent and inalienable.

  • It is absolute and possess complete control over state.


  • Vested in people.

  • Community as a whole is sovereign.

  • It has unity, indivisibility, permanency.

  • A right will, inalienable and inseparable

  • His government was under this sovereign.

Natural Rights

  • He believed man was born free.

  • Enjoyed every right which was necessary for his existence.

‘Man is born free but everywhere he is in chains’

Image Natural Rights

Image Natural Rights

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