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John Locke vs. Jean-Jacques Rousseau - Essay Example

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Name Class Professor Date Word count excluding title and reference: 845 John Locke versus Jean-Jacques Rousseau If John Locke (1632-1704) and Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778) will run for President in the 2012 Presidential election, people, most especially students like me will have a better understanding about the underlying principles why government are formed and appreciate governance better…
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John Locke vs. Jean-Jacques Rousseau
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John Locke vs. Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Download file to see previous pages... The differences of these two great political thinkers stems on how they assessed the evolution of society. Locke’s perspective begins with man’s natural state of being free but this freedom does not mean imposing itself over another (Chapter V). Eventually, people form society and to best protect them and their property, they have to submit to a government that will enforce a certain standard of behavior that will benefit everybody. For Locke government is good for everybody. Rousseau differed from Locke as he likened the natural state of man to that of a beast and differs only with his perfectibility or capacity to improve himself. Rousseau theory of man’s formation of society is unhealthy because it induces the people to have a new need that will make them compare to others eventually leading to a dominance of certain people over another. To avoid conflict, the prevailing class proposed to have some sort of body politic. Those who are powerless accept this believing that this will provide them freedom and safety when in fact will only make inequality more permanent by the establishment of laws. In a way, Rousseau can be said to be a precursor of Karl Marx’s socialist idea of class conflict that is precipitated by inequality in society. Locke on the other hand is the precursor of the modern idea of democracy because his theory of government in his Second Treatise of the Government  that puts forth the sovereignty of the people who chose to establish it to serve them is the same concept that we have now about democracy. His other ideas about government that it derives its sovereignty from the people that government by itself has no sovereignty and the people has the right to abolish it if it no longer serves its purpose and replace it with one that serves its purpose is the same idea that we have about democracy. Just like Rousseau, Locke also anticipated that the acquisition of property will lead into conflict. They only differ in perspective as Locke thought that the establishment of body politic would best protect them by enforcing laws for certain standard of behavior while Rousseau thought that it will make inequality more permanent. If their treatises will be translated into platform of government, Locke would likely be more appropriate to America’s neo-liberal political orientation that man is basically free and only agreed to establish a strong government for everybody’s good. This is consistent with American’s value system and being such, it is very likely that Locke will win if he will run against Rousseau in America. With regard to policy direction, Locke is likely to oppose Obama’s Health Care Program as it infringes on the property of other who have to subsidize those who cannot afford it. Locke’s puts a primacy on private property and the idea of subsidizing others might not sit well with him. Locke would also likely to strengthen business by introducing laws that would protect it and its property. Rousseau treatise on the other hand would be incompatible with America’s value system but he would make an interesting case. As he is oppose to inequality, Rousseau will likely introduce government programs that will bridge his perceive inequality in American ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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