Essay about A Discourse on Inequality

1432 Words 6 Pages
A Discourse on Inequality

In Rousseau’s book “A Discourse On Inequality”, he looks into the question of where the general inequality amongst men came from. Inequality exists economically, structurally, amongst different generations, genders, races, and in almost all other areas of society. However, Rousseau considers that there are really two categories of inequality. The first is called Natural/Physical, it occurs as an affect of nature. It includes inequalities of age,, health, bodily strength, and the qualities of the mind and soul. The second may be called Moral/Political inequality, this basically occurs through the consent of men. This consists of the privileges one group may have over another, such as the rich over the
…show more content…
So, where then, can a society come about in which there can be social minorities and majorities? Essentially, this is what Rousseau wanted to know. Man must have begun with only purely animal functions. His sight and his touch must have been his primary condition. This condition is common amongst animals. What then differentiated man from the animals was “to will, and not to will, to desire, and to fear.” Those would be the first, and likely the only operations of his soul. This would remain so until an occasion arrived where these ideas would need to be expanded, and new ideas created. Rousseau poses an interesting question when he asks: ”why a person who has neither fears nor desires should give

himself the trouble of reasoning.” He says it is by the activity of our passions that our reason is improved. We desire knowledge only because we wish to enjoy. We would conclude then that vanity is the source of our “evolution,” but it is not necessarily so according to Rousseau. Man still had nothing but basic desires, he did not know of the pleasure he might experience outside of the act of satisfying his primary needs: Food, Sleep, and Intercourse. Man learns only what nature shows it, and nature to him becomes more indifferent, he has no deep metaphysical type inquiries, no foresight or curiosity. Therefore, although in the future, the idea of vanity is likely to be an aid, which would cause an exponential increase in the reasoning, hence growth of the mind and
Open Document