Man Is Born Free but Everywhere in Chains

Topics: Political philosophy, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Law Pages: 2 (569 words) Published: July 9, 2011
Born free merely means not born into slavery.
But it is arguable whether anyone is "born free". We are all enslaved by society to some degree. As a child we are at the mercy of our parents and teachers. Our parents can screw us up so easily with wrong food , wrong support, wrong advice, etc. Our teachers can fill our minds with the wrong ideas and knowledge. But we have to do what they say. Later we may have to serve in the army, whether we want to or not. When they say jump you say "Yessir. How high, sir?"

As an adult we have to work 9 to 5 five days a week for a boss to earn money to live. This means doing what we're told by the boss.
At all times we are expected to obey thousands of laws, most of which we don't even know exist. If we don't we can lose our liberty.
To travel we are searched and have to carry a passport.
At one time it was even compulsory to go to church.
So freedom is not as easily come by as all that. All the above are "chains" of one sort or another. Perhaps Rousseau's most important work is The Social Contract, which outlines the basis for a legitimate political order. Published in 1762, it became one of the most influential works of political philosophy in the Western tradition. It developed some of the ideas mentioned in an earlier work, the article Economie Politique, featured in Diderot's Encyclopédie. The treatise begins with the dramatic opening lines, "Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains. One man thinks himself the master of others, but remains more of a slave than they." Rousseau claimed that the state of nature was a primitive condition without law or morality, which human beings left for the benefits and necessity of cooperation. As society developed, division of labour and private property required the human race to adopt institutions of law. In the degenerate phase of society, man is prone to be in frequent competition with his fellow men while at the same time becoming increasingly...
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