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Lecture 3

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Sociology and Anthropology
SOAN 2111
Linda Hunter

Week 3: Zeitlin chapter 3: Rousseau (1712-1778) → Rousseau best known for his conception of the “State of Nature”, and for his social contract → The perfectibility of man, his freedom and his happiness, and the increasing mastery of his own fate all depend on a clear understanding of the laws of nature → believed that nature and society could depart from the requirements of its natural laws → Rousseau‟s main objective= to find a social order whose laws were in greatest harmony with the fundamental laws of nature The State of Nature → Natural Man- is simply man divested of what he has acquired in society → Rousseau argues, those who have imputed to natural man cruel and warlike tendencies are wrong; they have attributed to natural man characteristics acquired in society → believed we must arrive at “natural man” by putting aside all those elements that have implanted in man as a result of his social existence → his method required that one subtract all the qualities of socio cultural origin until only the “natural foundation” remained → proposed a methodological device by which one might lay bare the components of man‟s basic psychological makeup → Man‟s basic psychological nature -he desired and needs only what is to be found in the immediate physical environment - he has only sensations, but no knowledge and no language -needs= food, a mate, and rest (purely physical) → harmony is achieved between internal nature and external nature through satisfaction of all needs → Rousseau‟s state of nature contrasts with that of Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes → the state of nature is one in which force and fraud prevail → in this state there is no right or wrong, no just or unjust; as those are social, not natural, qualities that men acquire only in society → believes in a state of nature and war → sees men as warlike in nature; it is only in Society that their fighting and disposition to fight are restrained → war is natural and peace is social Rousseau‟s Opposition to Hobbes → disagrees with the state of war; if man has what he needs, why should man attack others? → men have no moral or sentimental bonds, no sense of duty or feeling of sympathy; each man lives for himself and strives for self preservation → Rousseau agrees that the natural man is egoistic, solitary and perhaps even brutish, but disagrees that this results in war → Rousseau argues that war is a social institution and men learn to make war only in society Rousseau believes man has the ability to pace himself in the position of another and to sense his feelings; he can empathize with others and to a certain degree feel their sorrow → he believes that in the state of nature, men are like other animals; they are neither good nor evil, neither quarrelsome nor domineering.... in that state, there is no education, no progress, and no speech; generations follow one another, but sons are no different from their fathers → men do not live in society and have no culture → it is in this state that perfect balance exists between man and his physical environment → but changes do occur and balance is upset; however that is not bad in Rousseaus view The Origin of Society → Rousseau states; most likely, two developments eventually forced men to come together in society: „ in proportion as the human race grew more numerous, men‟s cares increased..Barren years, long and sharp winters, scorching summers which parched the fruits of the earth, must have demanded a new industry” -depe
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