The Social Contract & Discourses

- By Jean-Jacques Rousseau
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Jean-Jacques Rousseau (UK: /ˈruːsoʊ/, US: /ruːˈsoʊ/; French: [ʒɑ̃ ʒak ʁuso]; 28 June 1712 – 2 July 1778) was a Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer. His political philosophy influenced the progress of the Enlightenment throughout Europe, as well as aspects of the French Revolution and the development of modern political, economic, and educational thought.[1] His Discourse on Inequality and The Social Contract are cornerstones in modern political and social thought. Rousseau's sentimental novel Julie, or the New Heloise (1761) was important to the development of preromanticism and romanticism in fiction.[2][3] His Emile, or On Education (1762) is an educational treatise on the place of the individual in society. Rousseau's autobiographical writings—the posthumously published Confessions (composed in 1769), which initiated the modern autobiography, and the unfinished Reveries of the Solitary Walker (composed 1776–1778)—exemplified the late-18th-century "Age of Sensibility", and featured an increased focus on subjectivity and introspection that later characterized modern writing.
Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains. One thinks himself the master of others, and still remains a greater slave than they. How did this change come about? I do not know. What can make it legitimate? That question I think I can answer.
If I took into account only force, and the effects derived from it, I should say: "As long as a people is compelled to obey, and obeys, it does well; as soon as it can shake off the yoke, and shakes it off, it does still better; for, regaining its liberty by the same right as took it away, either it is justified in resuming it, or there was no justification for those who took it away." But the social order is a sacred right which is the basis of all other rights. Nevertheless, this right does not come from nature, and must therefore be founded on conventions. Before coming to that, I have to prove what I have just asserted.

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Word Lists:

Yoke : a wooden crosspiece that is fastened over the necks of two animals and attached to the plow or cart that they are to pull.

Regain : obtain possession or use of (something) again after losing it

Obey : comply with the command, direction, or request of (a person or a law); submit to the authority of

Legitimate : conforming to the law or to rules

Basis : the underlying support or foundation for an idea, argument, or process

Assert : state a fact or belief confidently and forcefully

Nevertheless : in spite of that; notwithstanding; all the same

Compel : force or oblige (someone) to do something

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