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Word Count: 547
Social Contract agreement by which human beings are said to have abandoned the state of nature in order to form the society in which they now live HOBBES LOCKE and JJ ROUSSEAU each developed differing versions of the social contract but all agreed that certain freedoms had been surrendered for societys protection and that the government has definite responsibilities to its citizens Similar ideas were used in the 18th cent as justification for both the American and the French revolutions The concept has generally been discarded as a theoretical basis of political life but was revived in the 20th cent by US philosopher John Rawls Hobbes Thomas 1588-1679 English philosopher Hobbes developed a materialist and highly pessimistic philosophy that was denounced in his own day and later but has had a continuing influence on Western political thought His Leviathan 1651 presents a bleak picture of human beings in the state of nature where life is nasty brutish and short Fear of violent death is the principal motive that causes people to create a state contracting to surrender their natural rights and to submit to the absolute authority of a sovereign Although the power of the sovereign derived originally from the people Hobbes said-challenging the doctrine of the divine right of kings-the sovereigns power is absolute and not subject to review by either subjects or ecclesiastical powers Hobbess concept of the SOCIAL CONTRACT led to investigations by other political theorists notably LOCKE SPINOZA and JJ ROUSSEAU who formulated their own radically different theories of the social contract Rousseau Jean Jacques 1712-78 Swiss-French philosopher and political theorist b Geneva A member of DIDEROTs circle he was one of the great figures of the French ENLIGHTENMENT and probably the most significant of those who shaped 19th-cent ROMANTICISM influencing such figures as KANT GOETHE ROBESPIERRE TOLSTOY and the French revolutionists Rousseaus most celebrated theory was that of the natural man In his Discourse on the Inequalities of Men 1754
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