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Political Paradigms

This study will discuss and analyze the ideas of Aristotle, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau with respect to the political paradigms their philosophies represent, and the ultimate result---authoritarianism or totalitarianism---of those philosophies. The study will essentially argue that Locke's notion of the social contract, the great power of the government based on that contract, and his inclusion of the people's right to change the government (or at least a part of it) results in an authoritarian society; that Rousseau's utter disregard for the individual's rights in the face of the common good leads inevitably to totalitarianism; and that Aristotle's philosophy stands somewhere in between the two metaphors (Locke's communitarian vs. Rousseau's mechanical). Aristotle clearly believes in the common good, but his society is far from totalitarian, thus defying the typical result of the communitarian model. Instead, the result is an authoritarian leader, with Aristotle spelling out the difference between the good and bad leader.

The three political philosophers, of course, do not commence from a point of advocacy for either authoritarianism or totalitarianism. Each of them, to the contrary begin from a place of idealism, aiming at what they believe to be best for both the individual and the society as a whole. Rousseau, for example, fashioning a concept of the social contract which fit the needs of the French Revolution, sought not authoritarianism but a government which functioned with as little sovereignty as possible. Rousseau wanted to respect the will of the people as the previous leaders had not, but like many other political philosophers, he did not honor the will of the people as much as he professed. He writes that "Of itself, the people always wishes [wills] the good; of itself, it does not always see it" (Barker xxxviii). Rousseau then goes on to introduce the concept and role of the powerful leader who must help th...

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Political Paradigms. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 15:12, April 21, 2019, from