Rousseau a lawgiver?
Rousseau in his piece “On The Social Contract” discusses the idea of how the people should successfully move out of the state of nature. Contrary to Locke and Hobbes’ theories, Rousseau asserts that in the state of nature people have a natural liberty and it is a state of serenity. He later progresses and says that ownership and property is a major reason why there is a shift from the state of nature to civil society. Rousseau then discusses his sense of sovereignty, which includes that the power is in the people, and laws are made through the general will of the people. The next big thing that Rousseau mentions is the process of making laws for society. Rousseau’s major point about law making is that it is done by the people and set for everyone as a whole. In Book II, Chapter VI, Rousseau writes, “When I say that the object of the laws is always general, I have in mind that the law considers subjects as a body and actions in the abstract, never a man as an individual or a particular action.” Therefore, the law never deals with individuals, and the people need to collectively agree for a law to be enacted.
However, how easy can it be for everyone as a whole to agree and create laws? Not that easy.. That is why Rousseau proposed the idea of the legislator or lawgiver. Rousseau describes this “legislator” in such high admiration as he describes “the legislator is in every respect an extraordinary man in the state. If he ought to be so by his genius, he is no less so by his office, which is neither magistracy nor sovereignty” (Book II, Chapter VII). The lawgiver is an unbiased man from a different society who is a man of great ingenuity that selflessly writes the laws for the civil society.
Is it possible that Rousseau was writing this with his intention to be the lawgiver for a society? In Book II, Chapter X, Rousseau mentions a “country capable of receiving legislation”, the island of Corsica, and “that one day that little island will astonish Europe”. Was he writing this because he wanted to be this unbiased legislator for the island of Corsica. I believe that he wanted to implement his theory, and write a set of laws for Corsica and test his theory on society. Does anyone else believe that Rousseau had an intention to be a lawgiver the entire time when he was writing his social contract?