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The Origin of Civil Society by Rousseau

            In "The Origin of Civil Society" (Rousseau 237), Jean-Jacques Rousseau makes a bold assertion that states, "Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains." He addresses freedom as the most important topic in his work and aims to explain how man in the state of nature has a choice in his total freedom. Rousseau helps us explore his idea of freedom while reading his work and reveals insight about what political conditions are needed for humans to realize what genuine freedom is. Rousseau identifies two types of freedom, natural liberty and civil liberty. According to Rousseau, natural liberty is primitive. It allows for man in the state in nature to be blessed with an enviable total freedom. One of his reasons for the freedom of natural man is that he is not constrained by a body politic or by a repressive government. He also believed in a freedom based off a man's obligations or needs. Rousseau thought the modern man was imprisoned by his own needs due to the current societies' morals and views. .
             According to Rousseau, civil liberty is attained by giving up our natural freedom. In civil liberty, our rights are no longer preserved by ourselves, but are now defended by the entire body politic/community. "Far earlier, Aristotle, too, had maintained that men are not by nature equal, but that some are born to be slave, others to be masters (Rousseau 242)." We all play a role in life, in society. Rousseau believed in a natural form of society which he states is the oldest form as well. "The oldest form of society-and the only natural one-is the family. Children remain bound to their father for only just so long as they feel the need of him for their self-preservation (Rousseau 241)." Self-preservation is evolutionary and is key to survival. According to Rousseau, he says family is the oldest and most natural form of society. He compares the father to his children and how they rely on the father until their time has come to live and fend for themselves.

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