Rousseau mentions that a state’s purpose to ensure the people’s freedom, yet this freedom seems to be in a way constrained by the presence of a government or the society itself. He also mentions how the freedom can be corrupted as the society develops into a place possible for a person’s dominance over others. I find his insight very enlightening, that society itself, and the laws and others that come with it, reduces one’s freedom, though these societal constraints are viewed as reasonable for those who made the laws.
The existence of society creates a division between people, and as people continue to evolve away from “savage men”, inequality arises and becomes a problematic phenomenon that continues to deteriorate. A modern man’s freedom is compromised, because not only is he enslaved by his own needs and passions, but also by others who dominate and exploit.
It is interesting that Rousseau shows how, compared to a primitive man, a modern man has less freedom. When a person relies on others, his or her freedom is imprisoned by such reliance. Perhaps the fact that modern society highlights achievements and recognition makes a modern man less free that his primitive counterpart. In a state of nature, one does not have to consider the opinion of others, but in a modern environment, a sense of belonging is important, for humans, as a species living in communities, solitude is unbearable. In this situation, the paradox that Rousseau describes comes to light. While one seeks freedom, his or her freedom is restrained by the dependence on others.