Jean-Jacques Rousseau, A Discourse Upon the Origin and the Foundation of the Inequality Among Mankind
According to Rousseau 's “Discourse on Inequality”, there are four stages to the social evolution in humans; it 's natural state, family, nation, and civil society. There are two types of inequalities, natural (or physical) and moral. Natural inequality stems from differences in age, health, or other physical characteristics. Moral inequality is established by convention or consent of men. One of the first and most important questions Rousseau asks is "For how is it possible to know the source of the inequality among men, without knowing men themselves?” (Rousseau, Preface) To answer this question, man cannot be considered as he is now, deformed by society, but as he was in nature. The problem is that as knowledge increases man’s ignorance. This essay, using Rousseau’s “Discourse on Inequality” as a backbone will try and identify the origins of inequality within race, class, gender and sexuality, and establish how these inequalities were brought out and maintained.
Throughout the course of human history, a hot topic of discussion has always been the the role of government in our daily lives. We ask ourselves questions like “who should rule?”, “how much power should they have?”, “do we even need a government?”, etc. The point is, different people would approach these questions with different ideologies and come up with different answers with no singular answer being necessarily right or wrong. A perfect government does not exist and what we have today is still far from perfect, but philosophers like Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Henry David Thoreau’s ideas played a role in shaping the government we have today.
Locke and Rousseau present themselves as two very distinct thinkers. They both use similar terms, but conceptualize them differently to fulfill very different purposes. As such, one ought not be surprised that the two theorists do not understand liberty in the same way. Locke discusses liberty on an individual scale, with personal freedom being guaranteed by laws and institutions created in civil society. By comparison, Rousseau’s conception portrays liberty as an affair of the entire political community, and is best captured by the notion of self-rule. The distinctions, but also the similarities between Locke and Rousseau’s conceptions can be clarified by examining the role of liberty in each theorist’s proposed state of nature and
Rousseau starts his discourse with the quote, “What is natural has to be investigated not in beings that are depraved, but in those that are good according to nature” (Aristotle. Politics. II). It is this idea that Rousseau uses to define his second discourse. Rousseau begins his story of human nature by “setting aside all the facts” (132). Rousseau believes the facts of the natural state of humanity are not necessary to determine the natural essence of human nature, and adding facts based on man’s condition in society does not show man’s natural condition. The facts don’t matter for Rousseau because to understand the essence of human nature requires looking to how man is in a completely natural state. Since man is no longer in this state,
The last paragraph of the prelude to the Second Discourse is an impassioned appeal whose scope transcends the boundaries of time and space alike, calling for readers to pay attention to the history of man and society that Rousseau is on the verge of putting forth. Beginning with this authorial intrusion—a form of literary apostrophe—the essay adopts historical writing as its primary narrative mode. This method stands in direct contrast with the approach Thomas Hobbes takes in his Leviathan, in which the Englishman sets out to prove propositions as one might do geometrically, by preceding from valid arguments and sound premises. Rousseau’s rejection of philosophy, at least as he understands it in the Second Discourse, embodies the emphasis
In the book The Basic Political Writings written by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Rousseau in the beginning of the book states a very important question that he hopes to answer in parts throughout the book, the question being: What is the origin of inequality among men, and is it authorized by the natural law? Rousseau takes a different approach than all the other philosophers on trying to figure out the origin of man and their so-called inequality. Rousseau’s point of view on the state of nature differs from other philosophers such as Locke and Hobbes. How do you find the origin of man? Where can the origin of civil society be traced back too? How are men perceived in the state of nature? Does inequality exist in the state of nature? In what
Rousseau’s assumptions and beliefs of his era are society and the growth of social interdependence. He was from 1700, (1712-78) it was very different compared to our beliefs.
2.) Rousseau saw human nature and society as unnatural and often compared what we are in the present to what we, as a species, used to be beore groups were developed. Rousseau explores the nature of a man and expanded on ideas by other early philosphers, such as John Locke and Thomas Hobbes.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau was an Enlightenment thinker during the eighteenth century and is most noted for his work The Social Contract. The Social Contract published in 1762 and is a philosophical document that expresses the ideas of popular sovereignty. Popular Sovereignty is a form of government in which “the doctrine that sovereign power is vested in the people and that those chosen to govern, as trustees of such power, must exercise it in conformity with the general will.” This is basically a fancy way of saying that the people have the power of authority of their government and the people should decide how they are governed. Like The Social Contract, the Declaration of Independence is a document that sets out to explain the relationship between a government and its people based on an an understanding of that relationship. The Declaration of Independence was composed by Thomas Jefferson in 1766, and shares many of the same ideals as The Social Contract. The Social Contract and the Declaration of Independence are more similar than different because Jean-Jacques Rousseau influenced John Locke, whose Social Contract Theories directly influenced Thomas Jefferson during the writing of the Declaration of Independence.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Swiss-born French Enlightenment thinker most famous for the 1762, “The Social Contract.” “The Social Contract” is Rousseau’s most valued work due to its ties within the French Revolution.
When Jean Jacques Rousseau wrote his Social Contract, the idea of liberty and freedom were not new theories. Many political thinkers such as John Locke and Thomas Hobbes had already evolved with their own clarification of liberty and freedom of mankind, and in fact John Locke had already publicized his views and ideas on the social contract as well. In Rousseau’s case, what he did was to transform the ideas incorporated by such substantial words, and present us to another method to the social contract dilemma. What would bring man to leave the state of nature, and enter into a structured civil society? Liberals believes that this was the assurance of protection - liberty to them implied being free from destruction and harm towards one’s property. Rousseau’s concept of freedom was entirely different from that of traditional liberals. According to Rousseau, liberty is meant to voice out your opinion, and participation as human being. “To renounce liberty is to renounce being a man” (Wootton, 454).
Rousseau believes that even when one votes in the minority they can obey the law and still be free. But, “how can the opposing minority be both free and subject to laws to which they have not consented?” (Rousseau, pg. 153) Rousseau’s response is that citizens must consent to all the laws because “ to inhabit the territory is to submit to the sovereign.”(Rousseau, p.153) In accordance with the social contract, when a citizen votes they should completely surrender their personal interest and vote for what they believe to be the general will. The general will of each individual is considered to be their real will when it comes to social policy. The majority vote will depict the general will, and the
Jean Jacques Rousseau in On Education writes about how to properly raise and educate a child. Rousseau's opinion is based on his own upbringing and lack of formal education at a young age. Rousseau depicts humanity as naturally good and becomes evil because humans tamper with nature, their greatest deficiency, but also possess the ability to transform into self-reliant individuals. Because of the context of the time, it can be seen that Rousseau was influenced by the idea of self-preservation, individual freedom, and the Enlightenment, which concerned the operation of reason, and the idea of human progress. Rousseau was unaware of psychology and the study of human development. This paper will argue that Rousseau theorizes that humanity is
99). Rousseau viewed property as a right “which is different from the right deducible from the law of nature” (Rousseau, p. 94). Consequently, “the establishment of one community made that of all the rest necessary…societies soon multiplied and spread over the face of the earth” (Rousseau, p. 99). Many political societies were developed in order for the rich to preserve their property and resources. Rousseau argues that these societies “owe their origin to the differing degrees of inequality which existed between individuals at the time of their institution,” (Rousseau, p. 108). Overall, the progress of inequality could be constructed into three phases. First, “the establishment of laws and of the right of property” (Rousseau, p. 109) developed stratification between the rich and poor. Then, “the institution of magistracy” and subsequently “the conversion of legitimate into arbitrary power” (Rousseau, p. 109) created a dichotomy between the week and powerful, which ultimately begot the power struggle between slave and master. According to Rousseau, “there are two kinds of inequality among the human species…natural or physical, because it is established by nature…and another, which may be called moral or political inequality, because it… is established…by the consent of men,” (Rousseau, p. 49).