What is the basic idea of authority in Jean Jacque Rousseau's social contract?
Rousseau believed that the only relationship in society that existed in a state of natural authority was the relationship of parent to child, this because the parent was responsible for the survival of the child. Legitimate polical authority, according to Rousseau, derives only from the social contract, which he believed to be more important than any individual that might agree to the contract. In what might be construed as a contradictory claim, he also believed that people needn't necessarily follow the authority of the social contract blindly; in other words, people were free to do whatever was in their power to overcome the authority if it was necessary to do so and they could manage to get it done. Rousseau is considered one of the great thinkers of the Enlightenment period of Europe, and had is also remembered as a great influence on many of the French during the time of the Revolution.