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
o Page 25: it is not the understanding or reason that creates the largest difference
between the modern a