Context[ edit ] The text was written in in response to a prize competition of the Academy of Dijon answering the prompt: What is the origin of inequality among people, and is it authorized by natural law? Rousseau published the text in Also, there is an appendix that elaborates primarily on eighteenth century anthropological research throughout the text.
Themes, Arguments, and Ideas The Necessity of Freedom In his work, Rousseau addresses freedom more than any other problem of political philosophy and aims to explain how man in the state of nature is blessed with an enviable total freedom.
This freedom is total for two reasons. First, natural man is physically free because he is not constrained by a repressive state apparatus or dominated by his fellow men. Second, he is psychologically and spiritually free because he is not enslaved to any of the artificial needs that characterize modern society.
Rousseau believed that good government must have the freedom of all its citizens as its most fundamental objective.
Rousseau acknowledged that as long as property and laws exist, people can never be as entirely free in modern society as they are in the state of nature, a point later echoed by Marx and many other Communist and anarchist social philosophers.
Nonetheless, Rousseau strongly believed in the existence of certain principles of government that, if enacted, can afford the members of society a level of freedom that at least approximates the freedom enjoyed in the state of nature.
In TheSocial Contract and his other works of political philosophy, Rousseau is devoted to outlining these principles and how they may be given expression in a functional modern state. Rousseau strips away all the ideas that centuries of development have imposed on the true nature of man and concludes that many of the ideas we take for granted, such as property, law, and moral inequality, actually have no basis in nature.
The most important characteristic of the state of nature is that people have complete physical freedom and are at liberty to do essentially as they wish.
That said, the state of nature also carries the drawback that human beings have not yet discovered rationality or morality. In different works, Rousseau alternately emphasizes the benefits and shortfalls of the state of nature, but by and large he reveres it for the physical freedom it grants people, allowing them to be unencumbered by the coercive influence of the state and society.
The Danger of Need Rousseau includes an analysis of human need as one element in his comparison of modern society and the state of nature.
In the state of nature, human needs are strictly limited to those things that ensure survival and reproduction, including food, sleep, and sex.
By contrast, as cooperation and division of labor develop in modern society, the needs of men multiply to include many nonessential things, such as friends, entertainment, and luxury goods.
As time goes by and these sorts of needs increasingly become a part of everyday life, they become necessities. Although many of these needs are initially pleasurable and even good for human beings, men in modern society eventually become slaves to these superfluous needs, and the whole of society is bound together and shaped by their pursuit.
By authentic, Rousseau essentially means how closely the life of modern man reflects the positive attributes of his natural self.
Not surprisingly, Rousseau feels that people in modern society generally live quite inauthentic lives. In the state of nature, man is free to simply attend to his own natural needs and has few occasions to interact with other people.
The entire system of artificial needs that governs the life of civil society makes authenticity or truth in the dealings of people with one another almost impossible.
Even more damningly, the fact that modern people organize their lives around artificial needs means that they are inauthentic and untrue to themselves as well. Given this fact, the modern society that has sprung forth from this act can be nothing but inauthentic to the core.
The Unnaturalness of Inequality For Rousseau, the questions of why and how human beings are naturally equal and unequal, if they are unequal at all, are fundamental to his larger philosophical enquiry. His conclusions and larger line of reasoning in this argument are laid out in the Discourse on Inequality, but the basic thrust of his argument is that human inequality as we know it does not exist in the state of nature.
In fact, the only kind of natural inequality, according to Rousseau, is the physical inequality that exists among men in the state of nature who may be more or less able to provide for themselves according to their physical attributes. Accordingly, all the inequalities we recognize in modern society are characterized by the existence of different classes or the domination and exploitation of some people by others.
Rousseau terms these kinds of inequalities moral inequalities, and he devotes much of his political philosophy to identifying the ways in which a just government can seek to overturn them. As Rousseau explains, the general will is the will of the sovereign, or all the people together, that aims at the common good—what is best for the state as a whole.The belief that man, by nature, is good was espoused by the French philosopher, Jean Jacques Rousseau ().
He believed that people in the state of nature were innocent and at their best and that they were corrupted by the unnaturalness of civilization.
In his Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, Jean- Jacques Rousseau discusses the origin of social inequality in humans. Rousseau uses his own theories on the natural and social state of man to express the reason for inequality in mankind.
RTI empowers the civil society with the Right to . Society In his essay "The Origin of Civil Society," Jean Rousseau makes numerous points regarding the benefits of a civil state rather than a state of nature. Rousseau states that humans living in a state of nature are only a short term solution for society.
The work of Jean-Jacques Rousseau is presented in two volumes, which together form the most comprehensive anthology of Rousseau's political writings in English. The Major Political Writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau: The Two Discourses and the Social Contract [Jean-Jacques Rousseau, John T.
Scott] on leslutinsduphoenix.com *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Individualist and communitarian. Anarchist and totalitarian. Classicist and romanticist. Progressive and reactionary.
Since the eighteenth century. To Rousseau’s mind, the origin of civil society itself can be traced to an act of deception, when one man invented the notion of private property by enclosing a piece of land and convincing his simple neighbors “this is mine,” while having no truthful basis whatsoever to do so.