Rousseau - Essay Example

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Rousseau was among those social philosophers who explored the paradox that radical political theorists, remain unable to raise to democratic politics, a duality of social interests and diverse conceptions for a modern man in the form of 'democracy' and 'totalitarian' context…
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Download file to see previous pages Rousseau was among those social philosophers who explored the paradox that radical political theorists, remain unable to raise to democratic politics, a duality of social interests and diverse conceptions for a modern man in the form of ‘democracy’ and ‘totalitarian’ context. He was such a versatile in his opinion that on one hand he held the opinion to experience democracy, while on the other he felt the urge to be totalitarian. No doubt Rousseau’s ideal of a self-sovereign people along with the conception of democratic control over social life, informed the moral and political vision of nineteenth and twentieth century democratic mass movements, as well as non-democratic variants thereof.Although Rousseau have been the first political theorist to outline the form of a democratic social contract, his obsession with social solidarity precluded his conceptualizing the content of modern democratic political life . What he believed was a modern democratic policy within which general will involved the establishment of a democratic consensus, among divergent social interests and distinct moral conceptions of the good, on those shared constitutional practices and public goods that reach beyond one’s identity with a particular sub community.Rousseau was among the very few political philosophers and theorists who gave a touch of taste of totalitarian to a full democratic region.
He comprehend that if democracy were to be a stable and viable order, a commitment to its political practices and public goods would have to be an integral part of the will of each of its citizens, regardless of their propertied status. Although Rousseau acknowledged that in a free society the existence of such a shared "general will" should not obliterate individual wills, his attitude toward the role of associational life in a democratic order was profoundly ambivalent. Perhaps because he never witnessed a functioning pluralist democracy and vigorously opposed the status and economic inequalities of a commercial, monarchical society, Rousseau could not envision a democracy in which the political interactions of divergent interests forged a commitment to a common political life 3. In his day, status-based interests were a profound barrier to the creation of an egalitarian, democratic order; thus Rousseau never witnessed free associations playing a central role in the life of a democratic polity.

Although Rousseau is theoretically committed to the sovereign authority of the people, he could be thought of as such a political symbol that severely curtailed the arena for democratic politics by denying any role for particular interests groups or sub communities in political deliberation. He believed a democratic society to be partly constituted through popular participation in the election of government and in popular deliberation about the constitutional structure of society, the nature of the basic laws. But it is also shaped by particular interests defending their concerns in both civil society and the political arena. In a vigorous and egalitarian democratic order, a complex dialectic would persist between the activities of secondary associations and their regulation by broader democratic cultural norms and legislative practices. Although the citizens of a democracy must at times achieve a measure of reflective distance from their particular attachments in order to reason about shared institutions and practices, a complete distancing from particular identities will never be fully achieved 4. This mediation between particular and collective identities, and between partial interests and the common good, can only occur politically. There is no Archimedean resolution to this inherent democratic dilemma.

For Rousseau the essence of both "natural freedom" and "civil freedom" was the absence of personal dependence on others. In a society characterized by a healthy civic culture, all ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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