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Social and Political Issues, Sept. 19

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Diane Enns

September 19 Enslavement: a sense of injustice, helplessness, “Man was born free and is everywhere in chains” – Rousseau Thoreau: a duty to disobey an unjust society/law/rule. Discourse on Inequality: response to an essay question for a contest, answering the posed question, “what are the origins of inequality?”. - He is criticizing the advancement of science. - Luxury as leading to vice – contradiction, was trying to live in voluntary poverty and was uncomfortable with the fame for his opera, becoming a philosopher. Image as a romantic rebel – Discourse on Inequality known as his best work. - Largely speculating on man in his natural state – society is an invention, trying to explain human nature by stripping away everything, civilization etc., that has made humanity what it has become. - By nature humans are essentially peaceful, timid and equal – it is socialization and civilization process which has produced competitive egoism. o Presents radically different view from Hobbesian view of humans in a state of nature – brutish, prone to violence, constantly warring in the absence of law. o Rousseau claims that undesirable features in humans were brought about by socialization and civilization. - Rousseau’s state of nature: o Humans are advantageously organized, able to provide for themselves; man in the state of nature is robust and strong, which juxtaposes the modern man, who relies on the tools of civilization and is degraded by this. o Humans are like animals, but more advanced, but not only for their ability to reason, but also because they are free agents – Rousseau has a highly romanticized view of nature...  He goes on to claim that even animals are ruined by domestication, creating a parallel between men and animals. o Self preservation: savages (the men of state of nature) or natural man, must have had a heightened use of his senses, and are tough in their lack of habituation to society, unlike the soft, effeminate modern man who are corrupted by the slavery to society and the comforts and luxuries of the civilized man. o Page 25: it is not the understanding or reason that creates the largest difference between the modern a
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