Madison And Rousseau's Analysis

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For many adherents, religion is holy and pure, rising above the concerns of everyday life, while politics is exactly the opposite, grubby in a way that displays the worst aspects of human nature. But although faith and government might not seem like a natural marriage, squaring this relationship is precisely what Jean-Jacques Rousseau and James Madison try to do in On the Social Contract and Memorial and Remonstrance, respectively. Madison and Rousseau wrote barely two decades apart, and they reviewed much of the same historical information in preparing their analyses. Therefore, one might think that their political philosophies, and thoughts on religion, would align closely. However, they actually have key points of disagreement; namely, Rousseau wants the state to play an active role in religion, whereas Madison does not. More broadly, they disagree about the optimal relationship between liberty and the state: Madison focuses on the liberty to act free from state intervention — what is often called “negative liberty” — while Rousseau prioritizes the liberty to act freely, enabled by state support, known as “positive liberty.” Madison and Rousseau’s disagreement about the nature of liberty in relation to the state gives rise to their…show more content…
While we can read about liberty and the state of nature in Rousseau and, at least implicitly, in Madison, we cannot necessarily determine where these views come from. Why does Rousseau view the state of nature as slavery to one’s instincts? Why does Madison think negative liberties are so important? While a possible explanation could refer to their views about human nature, this explanation is hard to support with Memorial and Remonstrance and On the Social Contract alone. More analysis of Rousseau and Madison’s other works could provide richer context for this particular disagreement, shedding light on the views of two tremendously influential thinkers about politics and
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