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Single Idea 19796

[catalogued under 25. Society / B. The State / 2. State Legitimacy / e. General will]

Full Idea

Each individual can, as a man, have a private will contrary to or different from the general will that he has as a citizen. His private interest can speak to him in an entirely different manner than the common interest.

Gist of Idea

Individual citizens still retain a private will, which may be contrary to the general will


Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1762], I.7)

A Reaction

So why I accept the general will when these two clash (apart from threat of punishment - which may be capital if I am recalcitrant!)? Usually the general will is also for my good - but not always. Idealist love of the people?

Book Reference

Rousseau,Jean-Jacques: 'The Basic Political Writings', ed/tr. Cress,Donald A. [Hackett 1987], p.150