- General will
The general will ("volonté générale"), first enunciated by
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, is a concept in political philosophyreferring to the desire or interest of a people as a whole. It is most often associated with socialisttraditions in politics.
Rousseau characterized the general will with four characteristics - it is inalienable, infallible, indivisible and absolute. Rousseau's doctrine of the general will was criticized by Israeli historian
Jacob Talmonas a Totalitarian Democracybecause the state subjected its citizens to the supposedly infallible will of the tyranny of the majority.
"AS long as several men in assembly regard themselves as a single body, they have only a single will which is concerned with their common preservation and general well-being. In this case, all the springs of the State are vigorous and simple and its rules clear and luminous; there are no embroilments or conflicts of interests; the common good is everywhere clearly apparent, and only good sense is needed to perceive it. Peace, unity and equality are the enemies of political subtleties. Men who are upright and simple are difficult to deceive because of their simplicity; lures and ingenious pretexts fail to impose upon them, and they are not even subtle enough to be dupes. When, among the happiest people in the world, bands of peasants are seen regulating affairs of State under an oak, and always acting wisely, can we help scorning the ingenious methods of other nations, which make themselves illustrious and wretched with so much art and mystery?" [On the Social Contract, Book IV, Chapter 1, Paragraph 1]
When minorities begin to exercise an influence over the majority, the General Will ceases to be the will of all. The General Will then becomes subordinated to other wills. Contradictory views and debates arise and the best advice is not taken without question. (The Social Contract; Jean-Jacques Rousseau Translated by G.D.H Cole/ Publisher: Barnes & Noble Books New York 2005 pg. 114-115)
Liberal thinkers, for example
Isaiah Berlin, have criticized the concept of General Will from a variety of angles:
* The idea that there is one path which benefits everyone is itself contested. Under the pluralist tradition, the common good is considered to be an aggregate of private interests, which needs balancing, rather than one over-arching, quasi-metaphysical concept.
* Even if there was one path which benefited everyone, it is a mistake to say that it is then their will. There is a difference between interest and desire. Thus the imposition of the General Will is not consistent with autonomy or freedom.
* The concept depends on a distinction between a person's "empirical" (i.e. conscious) self and his "true" self, of which he is unaware. This idea is essentially dogmatic and mystical, and is incapable of logical or empirical verification or even discussion.
Absolute monarchy, a monarchy where the ruler has the power to rule his or her country and citizens freely with no laws or legally-organized direct opposition.
Political absolutism, one person (generally, a monarch) should hold all power.
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
general will — ▪ philosophy of Rousseau theory of Jean Jacques Rousseau (Rousseau, Jean Jacques), 18th century French political philosopher, that in a democratic society the state represents the general will of the citizens, and that in obeying its laws… … Universalium
general will — (Fr., volonté générale ) Term used by Rousseau to denote the will of society as manifested through its political institutions, as opposed to the ‘will of all’, which is the preference of members on this or that occasion. The distinction applies… … Philosophy dictionary
general will — noun : the will of a community which is the embodiment or expression of its common interest; specifically : the social or collective will of a community resulting from the interrelations (as the exchange of opinion) between its members … Useful english dictionary
general will — noun Date: 1792 the collective will of a community that is the embodiment or expression of its common interest … New Collegiate Dictionary
God, general will of — Бога всеобщая воля … Вестминстерский словарь теологических терминов
will — noun 1 power to choose; desire ADJECTIVE ▪ great, indomitable, iron, strong ▪ her indomitable will to win ▪ His unassuming manner concealed an iron will. ▪ … Collocations dictionary
general — [[t]ʤe̱nrəl[/t]] ♦ generals 1) N COUNT; N TITLE; N VOC A general is a high ranking officer in the armed forces, usually in the army. The General s visit to Sarajevo is part of preparations for the deployment of extra troops. 2) ADJ GRADED: ADJ n… … English dictionary
General equilibrium — theory is a branch of theoretical microeconomics. It seeks to explain the behavior of supply, demand and prices in a whole economy with several or many markets. It is often assumed that agents are price takers and in that setting two common… … Wikipedia
General Motors — Company Type Public Traded as NYSE: GM TSX: … Wikipedia
General Judgment (Last Judgment) — General Judgment † Catholic Encyclopedia ► General Judgment (Judicium Universale, Last Judgment). I. EXISTENCE OF THE GENERAL JUDGMENT 1. Few truths are more often or more clearly proclaimed in Scripture than that of the… … Catholic encyclopedia