Jean- Jacques Rousseau was born on June 28, 1712, in Switzerland. The European philosopher wrote a book called A Discourse on the Arts and Sciences. His belief is that society is corrupted by evil and that man is good in his “state of nature” (Notes). He believed that man are naturally good and if we let them act on their own instinct, that they will act their true nature. He claims that politics are evil and corrupt the society with their systems.
Jean Jacques Rousseau was a French philosopher in 1712-1778. He believed that all humans are born innocent and what corrupt them and makes evil is society. He believes that if there was no society it would not make human beings feel so judged, shy or depended on others. Without society people would feel more equal they would not want to compare themselves Humans would feel freer. Rousseau thought that society weakens humans that if someone were to grow up in a natural place and place far from society they would be stronger. Compared o the people that grow up in a society they weaken.
Rousseau disagreed with the idea of natural rights being something you’re born with and believed that there are no rights by nature. In addition, he thought that the classical liberals were wrong to start from the individual because by nature humans are social creatures and there is nothing that is ours, and ours alone. Everything we are has been influenced by other human beings so there is literally nothing that we can call our own. Rousseau believed that human beings are dependant on one another for everything we have. Rousseau also believed that the right of war or conquest doesn’t exist because you can’t talk about rights when there is no choice. He also rejects Aristotle’s idea of slaves by nature. Aristotle believed people were unable to control or govern their passion with their reason which is why they needed to be ruled over. Aristotle said that, “Men are not naturally equal, but that some are born for slavery and others for dominion.” Rousseau countered with, “Aristotle was right; but he mistook the effect for the cause. Nothing is more certain than that all men who are born in slavery are born for slavery. Slaves become so debased by their chains as to lose even the
Rousseau thought that man was born weak and ignorant, but virtuous. It is only when man became sociable that they became wicked. (Cress, 80) Since civil society makes men corrupt, Rousseau advocated “general will”, more precisely the combined wills of each person, to decide public affairs. General will would become the sovereign and thus it would be impossible for its interests to conflict with the priorities of the citizens, since this would be doing harm to itself. Virtue came from the freedom of men to make decisions for the good of the
Jean Jacques Rousseau was a French philosopher who believed that man was born with a pure heart and good intentions; however, society inevitably corrupted man. He believed that any desire to be a good person must be internally initiated from the one seeking it. Once man has immersed himself into society, he allows himself to be persuaded that being good is not the only way of life.
The political philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Karl Marx examined the role that the state played and its relationship to its citizen’s participation and access to the political economy during different struggles and tumultuous times. Rousseau was a believer of the concept of social contract with limits established by the good will and community participation of citizens while government receives its powers given to it. Karl Marx believed that power was to be taken by the people through the elimination of the upper class bourgeois’ personal property and capital. While both philosophers created a different approach to establishing the governing principles of their beliefs they do share a similar concept of eliminating ownership of
Rousseau’s state of nature differs greatly from Locke’s. The human in Rousseau’s state of nature exists purely as an instinctual and solitary creature, not as a Lockean rational individual. Accordingly, Rousseau’s human has very few needs, and besides sex, is able to satisfy them all independently. This human does not contemplate appropriating property, and certainly does not deliberate rationally as to the best method for securing it. For Rousseau, this simplicity characterizes the human as perfectly free, and because it does not socialize with others, it does not have any notion of inequality; thus, all humans are perfectly equal in the state of nature. Nonetheless, Rousseau accounts for humanity’s contemporary condition in civil society speculating that a series of coincidences and discoveries, such as the development of the family and the advent of agriculture, gradually propelled the human away from a solitary, instinctual life towards a social and rationally contemplative
Rousseau too acknowledges that deviation from the laws of nature can be detrimental to man. He points out that though freewill places man at an advantage over other species, and perhaps even other men, but he does not necessarily see it as being all good:
With this, all peoples are equal and completely free or, to put it more eloquently, “in giving himself to all, each person gives himself to no one” (Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. Basic Political Writings. Hackett Pub. Co., 1987. p. 148). In this respect, Marx and Rousseau share common ground. They both believe that a community or state ruled by all needs to exist to ensure freedom for all. Marx and Rousseau agree that control that comes from above/without/utilizing force can never be rendered legitimate. Likewise to Rousseau, the core of Marx’s notion of freedom is epitomized in this phrase: “Liberty is, therefore, the right to do everything which does not harm others” (C., Tucker, Robert, and Engels, Friedrich. The Marx-Engels Reader, First Edition. New York: W. W. Norton, 1972. p. 40). The break between the two is most noticeable concerning Marx’s central idea that the procurement of the rights of production is the key to freedom. When human beings are estranged from their labor they are estranged from themselves, from each other, and, ultimately, made subjects because of it. Freedom necessarily means that human beings must have the right to produce freely as production is a natural extension of oneself. As we shall see, this problem is only exacerbated by civil society.
In contrast, Rousseau had a generally positive view on human nature though a rather negative view on modern society. He proposed that humans had once been solitary beings and had learned to be political. He believed that human nature was not fixed and was subject to changed. Likewise, he believed that man was good when in a state of nature, but was corrupted by society as shown in his quotation, "Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.” Also differentiating himself from other humanists, Rousseau taught that the sciences and the arts were not beneficial to man. Rousseau believed the general will must always be right and to obey the general will is to be free.
Due to state laws and policies, Marx and Rousseau both agree men are not living in a free society. In western democracies today, both philosophers’ ideas are clear and visible.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Friedrich Nietzsche are both prominent figures of Modern Political thought even though they lived more than a hundred years apart from each other. Rousseau and Nietzsche tend to differ from each other in terms of their views on what we now call “globalization”.
To better understand Rousseau’s thesis and social contract he proposed, we must first understand why Rousseau felt compelled to write and his main criticism of society during the 18th century. In sum, Rousseau argued that states (specifically France, though never explicitly stated) have not protected man’s right to freedom or equality. Rousseau began The Social Contract in dramatic fashion. He wrote, “man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains” (1). This quote is still used today, and is a powerful description of Rousseau’s central issue with society. He believed that every man is “born” naturally free—he has full autonomy and can do what he chooses. However, Rousseau argued that man is bound to the injustices of society.
Rousseau would not take these charges lying down, however. Looking at us in the new millennium, he might suggest that we are not free at all. On the whole, we may lack any kind of personal agency or initiative. We often have difficulty interacting with one another in any meaningful way, and it could be argued that our decisions and behavior are largely dictated to us by a consumer culture that discourages individual thought.
By setting aside all the facts, Rousseau creates a state of nature that proves man to be naturally free and good. Once Rousseau sets aside the facts he creates a story that shows man should be “discontented with your present state, for reasons that herald even greater discontent for your unhappy Posterity, you might perhaps wish to be able to go backwards” (133). This is true because man is free. Rousseau starts by “stripping this being, so constituted, of all the supernatural gifts he may have received, and of all the artificial faculties he could only have acquired by prolonged progress” (134). Man in his beginning is unsophisticated and irrational nothing more than “an animal “(134). But, in nature man has no authorities. In nature “men, dispersed among them [other animals], observe, imitate their industry, and so raise themselves to the level of the Beasts’ instinct, with this advantage that each species has but its own instinct, while man perhaps having none that belong to him, appropriates them all, feeds indifferently on most of the various foods” (134-135). Men learn from other animals and imitate their moves but are forced to