Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Note On Rousseau's Idea Of The General Will

From commenter orray2:

David Bell narrows too much the nature of Rousseau's "General Will." This is more than certain broad constitutional principles undergirding a society to which all either formally or tacitly consent. The General Will refers to actual day-by-day direct democratically formulated (by the entire Community) policies, where all "will together."

No individual can assert any individual right or objection against the outcome of Community Will, which is "Sovereign." To do so would be do rebel against Freedom itself, since freedom is acting in accordance with what is best for one, and only the General Will can articulate what is best for the community, in which the individual is only a cell.

Hence, the concept of "being forced to be free" if one is in conflict with the General Will. Quite apart from a number of Rousseau's other contributions to social and political thought, both positive and negative--to child-rearing, education, naturalist romanticism, gender relations--this idea of the "Legislator," some super-human founds society and who "knows all the passions of men but feels none," and the Sovereign General Will, that Community legislative process and outcome, outside of and against which which individual freedom is nonsense, is what causes J. L. Talmon correctly to point to Rousseau?

In relation to this essay by Daniel Bell

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