The Social Contract summary

In the field of the most important political works of the Western world, it is known as The Social Contract: or the Principles of Political Law (Principes du droit politique, in its original title in French) to a work written by Jean-Jacques Rousseu, the which was first published in 1762, thanks to the work of the House Marc-Michael Rey.

Importance of the work

In general, the social contract – short form of the title for which he is known – is a work of political philosophy, which is based on the need to establish a social contract between men and the State, in order to achieve a life of Freedom and Equality for all  those who remain in it, while ensuring harmonious coexistence between them.

However, this work by Rousseau encompasses great importance, for according to what historians and researchers point out, it can be considered the theoretical and philosophical basis from which the French Revolution was generated, and even other liberating movements such as the Independence of the United States, as well as the independence causes that led Latin American and Caribbean countries to liberate themselves from the Spanish empire, during the 19th century.

Summary of The Social Contract

As for its content, it will first be worth noting that despite the great relevance of this political work, which is even attributed to being the philosophical seed based on which the concept of Socialism will develop in part, centuries later, the concept of Socialism , it is actually an unfinished work, since its author was experiencing major health problems, which prevented him from extending his approach much further.

However, as for the content of each of the four books that make up this work, you will find the following:

Book first

In this first part of The Social Contract, Rousseau is given the task of exposing his theory of the libertarian origin of man. In this way, for this French philosopher, human beings are born free in nature, having the same rights as their fellowmen. However, he is paradoxically oppressed by multiple chains. Consequently, Rousseau raises the need for man to live in freedom, and in peaceful coexistence, since instead of the Law of the strongest, human beings should be governed by laws, institutions aimed at establishing an environment of equality and Justice.

Book two

During the second part of this work, its author enters a stage in which the task of analyzing and establishing demographic, geographical and economic calculations is given, to calculate through mathematics, applied to politics, which is the country with the best conditions to offer society the chance to be happy. His analyses lead him to conclude that this territory is the island of Corsica. So too, Rousseau raises how Freedom is vital for man to be happy, while in turn it reveals how that freedom comes directly from social equality.Third book

Posed with the need to achieve a state where man can develop in Freedom and Equality, Rousseau gives himself to the task, in the third book to describe then what and what should be the best form of government for a state. It is in this book that he launches some of his political maxims, on how a large state refers to a less free people, or to the slow solution of situations.

He also points out that the size of the state will be directly proportional to the system of government that it must have, since for this French philosopher the great states must be governed by monarchies, the medium-sized by aristocrats, and finally the most small by democracies, this system that is considered by Rousseau – from his Aristotelian perspective – as the most perfect system, even typical of the gods, so his practice will never become perfect.

Book fourth

Finally, Rousseau dedicates the last book of his work to point out that just as small states are those that can count on the most perfect system of government, it is the simplest men who harbor in them the kindness and the ability to drive from righteousness, so it sets this kind of simple life as the example to follow.

Similarly, it points to how the will becomes vital so that members of a state can function with freedom and equality. Likewise, it is given to the task of criticizing Christianity, for it considers it a dogma contrary to freedom, and therefore an impediment to achieving happiness, and even coexistence, so Rousseau prefers to put his faith in the social capacity of the human than in the exis dogmas that deprive man of freedom.

It is very important to know the structure of this document. If you liked this article, share it on your social networks and tell us your opinion about the subject, in the comments box.

Picture: portrait of Juan Jacobo Rousseau, author of The Social Contract / Source:

The Social Contract summary
Source: Education  
September 21, 2019

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