How Did Rousseau Theory Influence Equality And Democracy Today?

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Before start answering this question we need to know who was Jean Jacques Rousseau and the meaning of equality and democracy. Jean Jacques Rousseau was a Swiss philosopher known because of one of his works called general will, which is a theory collectively held will that aims at the common good or common interest, this theory supports Rousseau’s political thought that was a modern republican thought. Rousseau referred the general will as a way where everyone was going to have the same rights and what they deserve, without gender discrimination and as a democracy. That is the reason why I chose this question, because I like the connection those keywords that are equality and democracy have with Rousseau and some of his work.

To continue asking this question we need to know the meaning of those words; Equality is about ensuring that every individual has an equal opportunity to make the most of their lives and talents. It is also the belief that no one should have poorer life chances because of the way they were born, where they come from, what they believe, or whether they have a disability. Rousseau wanted a better society where everybody has the same rights and also the same opportunities, that is the reason why Rousseau is very connected with equality.

Democracy is also known as power of people, because is a way of governing which depends on the will of the people. Democracy, then, is not autocracy or dictatorship, where one person rules; and it is not oligarchy, where a small segment of society rules. Properly understood, democracy should not even be 'rule of the majority', if that means that minorities' interests are ignored completely. A democracy, at least in theory, is government on behalf of all the people, according to their 'will'.

Rousseau has the reputation of being a radical egalitarian. It means that he was always looking for equality in the society, so he was wanted the same for everyone, for example in his work about general will, he wanted the best for everyone, it means the same rights, without discrimination. He was undoubtedly disturbed by existing inequalities, especially as he observed them in France. He had an original and interesting theory about how inequality among men came into being; he also set out what he considered to be the connections between equality and freedom.

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“All men are born equal” this is one of the most famous phrases, as I said before he was always looking for equality that's why he said that phrase, it means that everybody is equal since they were born, so they have the same rights and the same benefits, it does not matter your gender, your age, preferences, because Rousseau´s point of view is that everybody is equal, no one is better than the other one, and that everyone is free to decide what to do and what they want, and there is the connection with democracy.

If you read some of his work you could think that Rousseau is the most radical democrat, because some of his work is very influenced politics, one example is the social contract, this contract was to suggest how they might recover their liberty in the future.

The Social Contract begins with the sensational opening sentence: “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains,” and proceeds to argue that men need not be in chains. If a civil society, or state, could be based on a genuine social contract, as opposed to the fraudulent social contract depicted in the Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, people would receive in exchange for their independence a better kind of freedom, namely true political, or Republican, liberty. Such liberty is to be found in obedience to a self-imposed law.

Rousseau affected how we see equality and democracy because you can say something about equality, you can say that there are differences between some people, but after reading Rousseau´s work you are going to think different, because his point of view is very clear, it shows what he wanted to say, also the phrases he wrote are very meaningful because you can say a lot about a phrase of three or four words, but that is because he expressed what he thought about democracy and equality very clear in those phrases.

There are a lot point of view about democracy and equality, but Rousseau´s point of view in my opinion is the best because he was always looking for the general will, he wanted the best for every person, and that is the reason he affects equality and democracy these days, he changed how we were supposed to see them.

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How Did Rousseau Theory Influence Equality And Democracy Today? (2021, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 20, 2024, from
“How Did Rousseau Theory Influence Equality And Democracy Today?” Edubirdie, 27 Sept. 2021,
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