Date of Award


Document Type



College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Thesis Advisor

Dr. Dorothy M. Medlin

Committee Member

Dr. Joseph W. Zdenek


The purpose of this thesis is to show that Rousseau’s political theory is coherent as he claimed in his Social Contract, and not contradictory as some think. By making a distinction between a doctrinal or principle level and an empirical or practical level, we will try to demonstrate Rousseau’s consistency by analyzing his concepts of sovereignty, general will, representation and natural law in detail.

Rousseau was strongly democrat at principle level in the sense that sovereignty always belongs to people, and flexible, even liberal, at the system of realization or empirical level in which reality is rich in detail and complexity, so the political compromise becomes necessary at this level, even when it is difficult at times.

Political principles must be applied empirically into the concrete world in order to serve civil society, otherwise if they are zealously kept intact in their purity, they remain ideal and impractical, even obstacles instead of becoming beneficial to political and social organizations as Rousseau tried to do by maintaining a just balance between distinct, yet interconnected levels of analysis in his political thought.




line 23, of. Introduction.

p. 2, lines 6-7, to serve as an apprentice.

Chapter I.

p. 23, line 27, divided.

Chapter III.

p. 46, line 29, of considering.

p. 50, line 5, and polis.

p. 52, line 5, clearly explicit.

Chapter IV.

p. 68, line 19, foreseen.