ABSTRACT

Rousseau’s theories of law and civil state are the result of his efforts to enhance government procedures in France during the enlightenment era of the 18th century. The situation in France at the time was unpalatable, since the state of nature on the ground was marked by societal injustices and inequalities. The third estate, which consisted of third-class individuals with less land, paid the highest taxes among the three social groups that existed in France at the time. It was exempted from the first and second estates, which were made up of first and second class citizens. This is based on the natural law of the strong becoming stronger and the weak becoming weaker. This gave rise to all of the evils that mankind committed against one another. Despite the fact that Rousseau developed his theory after reading and evaluating Hobbes’ and Locke’s, his project’s scope was not considerably different from theirs. He saw society as a creation, and he attempted to explain the essence of humans by removing all of the unintended characteristics that come with socialization. In contrast to Aristotle’s classical perspective, which stated that the condition of civil society constituted the natural human state, comprehending human nature entails understanding what humans are like in a pure state of nature. Moreover, unlike Hobbes, Rousseau recognized that self-preservation was one factor of motivation for human activities, but not the only one. He comes to the conclusion that self-preservation, or self-interest in general, is merely one of the two principles that govern the human spirit. The second principle is pity, which is a natural aversion to seeing one’s colleague suffer. Rousseau believes that humans, unlike other creatures, have reason, even if it is not fully formed in nature. This ability is what allows us to make the long journey from the state of nature to civic society. Similarly, a good application of Rousseau’s idea of law and civil state might be used as a conceptual tool to improve Nigerian democracy.

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

The choice of this issue was influenced by the manner the Nigerian government has operated since the country’s return to democracy in 1999. The Nigerian government currently lacks the true character that characterizes what democracy is all about. This of course is not different from the situation in pre-revolutionary France during the time of Rousseau that contributed to his idea of the state of nature. Suffice to note that during this time in France the state was bankrupted due to mismanagement of the economy. This economic crisis was as a result of the overwhelming costs incurred by fighting two major wars – the seven years’ war and the American Revolutionary war.

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