Rousseau’s original belief was a view of a division between society and human nature, and how man was good and incorrupt before the creation of a society. He argued that the society influenced and ruined the good essence every man is born with. He is attributed with the term “noble savage”, which is used as an example to show a man sheltered from the influence of the society is uncorrupt and therefore “noble”. He also expanded on the idea of “amour-propre”. It was, he believed, a sort of artificial pride induced by property and desire for wealth which forces man to compare himself to other. This resulted, he argued, in fear of being inferior thus an eagerness to see other men be tortured/pained. This was what Rousseau believed corrupted the society.
Rousseau’s most obvious contributions were political which he argued in his most notable work, The Social Contract. In it, Rousseau explained that the first ever state was made as a social contract between the rich and powerful to trick the remaining population into an unequal agreement, so the rich would be able to rule freely. Rousseau’s work in The Social Contract however contradicted some of his earlier opinions, as he amended some of his beliefs about nature. He stated that nature was primitive and brutish, and so man without law or morality has to turn to the “benefits and necessity of [social] cooperation.”
He argued that the only just way to rule was to form a different type of social contract between the governed and the authorities. The governed should only agree to the contract when their personal rights, freedom, happiness and property are protected. Rousseau explained that this way the government can avoid uprisings, and the citizens are much more likely to follow legislature as it is self-made.