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Single Idea 19808

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

Full Idea

Just as a private will cannot represent the general will, the general will, for its part, alters its nature when it has a particular object.

Gist of Idea

The general will changes its nature when it focuses on particulars


Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Social Contract (tr Cress) [1762], II.04)

A Reaction

Is the general will, then, in danger of being much too general, because as soon as it gets close to anything practical it becomes distorted. It can design the constitution, but can it give a view on capital punishment, or is that too personal?

Book Reference

Rousseau,Jean-Jacques: 'The Basic Political Writings', ed/tr. Cress,Donald A. [Hackett 1987], p.157