Locke Vs Rousseau Analysis

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Students and scholars alike are often deceived by the association between Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau as founders of the social contract. Grouping these authors together often causes people to forget the essential variations presented by each man. The issue of liberty, for example, takes on an entirely different meaning when viewed from the eyes of either Locke or Rousseau. In understanding John Locke 's opinions on liberty in The Second Treatise of Government, it is important to begin with his definition of the idea. Fundamentally, Locke identifies liberty as the ability to do whatever one pleases without ever having to be dependent on another (Locke 2.4:116). However, Locke also recognizes that there are certain logical restrictions on this…show more content…
Under societal liberty, a new government, sovereign, and set of laws seem unnecessary. Locke explains, however, that over time a political society must be created in order for people to retain their freedom. Since men are naturally inclined to seize property (Locke 5.26:127), they eventually require preservation of their property because people "in this state [feel] very unsafe, very insecure" (Locke 9.123:178). Therefore, to reestablish liberty and preserve property, man, in common, agrees to be presided over by a unifying government (Locke 9.124:178). The true brilliance of Locke 's proposition comes in his defense of liberty under this established government. For man only relinquishes two powers - the ability to do whatever one wishes which is now regulated by a legislature (Locke 9.129:180), and the power of punishment which falls under executive authority (Locke 9.130:180). Despite these two forfeitures, each individual is guaranteed the opportunity to "preserve himself his liberty and property" (Locke 9.131:180). Likewise, individuals of the society are granted a consistent interpretation of the otherwise vague laws of nature (Locke 7.89:159). In this way, there is never a tradeoff of liberty for security, but an equal enhancement of…show more content…
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in The Social Contract, although discussing the same topic of liberty, approaches the argument from a different perspective. Freedom, in Rousseau 's mind, is the right to function completely independent of others (Rousseau 1.7:58), and to be the judge and master of his own decisions (Rousseau 1.1:46). Political government is eventually sought to protect liberty because, "there is a point in the development of mankind at which the obstacles to men 's self-preservation...are too great to be overcome by the strength of any one individual" (Rousseau 1.6:54). At this point, individuals come together to form a society in which these obstacles can be overcome (Rousseau 1.6:54). Rousseau argues that, despite the new society and government, liberty is protected in three aspects; the social contract is based on freedom and self-preservation and thus will never contradict itself (Rousseau 1.6:55); nothing is lost in the new establishment, "in giving himself to all...he gains the equivalent of all that he loses, and greater strength for the conservation of what he possesses" (Rousseau 1.6:55). The ultimate goal of government, society, and the individual is the greatest good which consists of "liberty and equality" (Rousseau
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