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SOC231H5 Lecture Notes - Social Inequality, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Leviathan

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Zaheer Baber

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Lecture 1
Mary Wollstonecraft
Was influenced by Rousseau’s writings, but criticized them for his attitude towards the education
of women.
In Rousseau’s Emile he purposes an educational system for women that Wollstonecraft finds
that it sticks to the old-age prejudices
In response to the views on women by many British writers that Wollstonecraft composes her
major work, Vindication of the Rights of Women
I. The Social and Intellectual Context
Sociology: “Intellectual response to a crisis”
17-18th century Europe and the world, a series of ongoing “crises”
“The world turned upside down”
The Scientific Revolution 1600s
Industrial Revolution/Capitalism: 1750s
1776: The American Revolution
1789: The French Revolution
Colonialism; the Anti-Slave Revolution in Haiti 1791-1804
(a) The discovery of “Society” distinct from “nature”
(b) The individual-society relationship
(c) The discovery or “social change” versus “natural” change- time lapse photography flowers
(d) Subjects >>> Citizens
Social institutions are neither “natural” nor divine, but humanly created entities; can be
transformed through social action
II. The Enlightenment
18th Century intellectual and social movement
To “shed light” of “Reason” on “Society”
Newtonian scientific method to understand society: application of reason
Every sphere of society, including religion was subjected to rational scientific scrutiny
Existing social conditions and institutions not unchangeable facts of nature
The “is” and the “ought” connection
III. Jean Jacques Rousseau
Coined the term “society”: How is society possible?
The concept of the “social contract”
Thomas Hobbes vs. Rousseau
Hobbes: The natural state, “war of each against all”
Society: possible due to a social contract for an absolutist authority, the leviathan, that prevents
all out conflict
Rousseau’s rebuttal
“State of nature”: humans are isolated, indifferent to each other
No “society”, “language” or “culture”
Population growth and division of labor etc: social inequality
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