Rousseau Theory

Nov 4, 2021 | 0 comments

Nov 4, 2021 | Writing Guide | 0 comments

A few years ago there was an exhibition at the Museum of the city of New York Jackie Robinson. The exhibition chronicled exemplary achievements of Robinson against all odds that existed during that time. At the museum, Robinson’s legacy is explored through narrative, interactive, artifacts, media and baseball uniforms he used to wear, his 1949 baseball MVP award and his military service records (“JACKIE ROBINSON MUSEUM”, 2019). Robinson’s legacy depicted oppression and discrimination that African-Americans underwent during the 20th century.
Robinson’s fight for African-American freedom can be related to Rousseau’s theory which claims that “a man in the state of nature is blessed with an enviable total freedom”. He further alludes that, a man’s freedom can be categorized into two forms. First, a man is physically free given that he is not dominated by his fellow men or rather constrained by repressive government apparatus. Secondly, a man is both spiritually and psychological free since he is not a slave to the modern’s society artificial needs. Rousseau have a strong believe that modern day man is a slave to his own needs which has contributed to various social vices such as exploitation, domination by others, depression and poor self-esteem.
According to Rousseau, a good government has an objective of giving each and every citizen equal freedom. However Rousseau claims that this is practically impossible provided property and laws are in existence. He further states that people can never be entirely free like they would have been in state of nature. Nevertheless, Rousseau believes that there are certain principles that when enacted can accord each and every citizen a sense of equal freedom that can be equated to freedom that one can enjoy in state of nature.
In a bid to uncover various societal institutions and structures that are responsible for depriving a man of his natural freedom, Rousseau begins by defining natural freedom as a prehistoric place and time when a man used to live in uncorrupted society. He states that the most fundamental characteristic of a state of nature is that people have physical freedom and are in a position to do whatever they wish. He further asserts that the ideas that people take for granted like, property, law and moral inequality actually have no basis in nature and are among the factors that makes modern society to compare unfavorably to the state of nature. Unlike some philosophers like Hobbes who seem to ridicule the state of nature, Rousseau on the other hand seem to exalt state of nature which he says relieves man from threats from the state and society at large. Rousseau finally agrees that although a man cannot return to the state of nature but still getting to know about it is vital to the members of the society as it enables them to fully realize their natural goodness.
Rousseau believes that all inequalities that exist in modern day society are characterized by exploitation of some people by others and existence of different classes or rather domination. He refers to them as moral inequalities and devoted much of his political philosophy trying to identify principles which the government needs to adopt in order to overturn such inequalities. Rousseau’s strong stand against inequality and his radical assertions that all men are equal in their natural state inspired the revolutions in France and America.
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