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POLC71H3 (52)
Lecture

Lecture 09 - Rousseau's Discourse on the Origin of Inequality

6 Pages
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Department
Political Science
Course Code
POLC71H3
Professor
Stefan Dolgert

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Lecture 09
Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality)
1) Nature vs. Artifice
2) Self-Presentation & Pity
3) Natural Man
4) The Change
5) Origins
6) Distinction
~~~~~~~~The Middle
7) Property
8) The Trick
9) Amour-Propre vs. Amour de Soi
Rousseau comes along and asks what are you paying for?”
Facts:
oTop 400 wealthiest people (0.00035%) in the United States are worth about $1.37 trillion
(more than Canadas GDP)
oThe bottom 50% (about 165 million people) are worth about $1.2 trillion (with a growing
gap)
oThe wealth of the group of this 400 is more than all about 12 countries of the world
oAdding the GDP of the bottom 150 countries in the world is still less than top 400
Americans
oWhat are we getting? What system would we expect if you get what you pay for? When
wealth is so concentrated, what are we getting?
oLocke mentions that such inequalities are just and fine in the system whereas Rousseau
says that is not the case
1) Nature vs. Artifice
Rousseau entered an essay into a French competition (Discourse of Origins won a prize, whereas
his second essay, Discourse of Inequality, did not win a prize)
Our focus is on the second essay
oHe sets up the question as to why we have inequality
oAlso, he lists what is wrong with society
oHe does NOT provide answers on how to fix society (that is in his Social Contract essay)
Rousseau is not French; he is Genevan'
First question is “What is Man [human being]?”
What humans are in the natural world is different from how we behave in the artifice (a made,
unnatural created entity)
This is one of the crucial places that early political philosophers have gone wrong
oLocke & Hobbes both focus on the State of Nature
oThey have not done what they said they were going to do (explain how humans are in
nature) instead what they did was take civilized humans and stick them in a forest and
see how they would behave
www.notesolution.com
oHobbes state of nature (state of war); Rousseau disagrees, says that Hobbes simply took
the brutish people in civilization and assumed that is how they are in State of Nature
oHe says that you cannot simply equate these people with how humans are in the State of
Nature
oThese traits are something we developed in the artifice something we have developed
over thousands of years
oWhereas in the state of nature we are very different
2) Self-preservation & Pity
In the state of nature there are two drivers
oDriver for self-preservation
We want to preserve ourselves and survive
They lookout for themselves but also, like other animals, naturally feel pity and
sympathy
oDriver for sympathy or pity
The tears we shed when we hear someone cry in agony, the pity you feel, is part
of human nature
It is not a trick or artifice
We know this because when we look at other animals we see the same kind of
thing
Other animals do not like to see suffering in others (lions may hunt gazelles, but
they are not killing them for the suffering; instead its for food)
Lions also feel sympathy when they see other lions in pain
Animals are instinctive in avoiding causing pain to others
Rousseau states that this is the basis of his argument
It is actually pity and sympathy that holds humans together in nature
3) The Natural Man
The natural man according to Rousseau is a savage
This is not a negative thing, he claims these men are noble savages which he holds in high regards
He claims that there are still some people (during his time) who are noble savages (the Arawak
people in the Caribbeans and Venezuela)
Rousseau is still in the mindset of a colonist (living in colonial France)
The Natural Man is a person who is on their own
oSomeone out in the woods who is alone, not socializing with people
oThey are naked, at least for a while
oThey dont have language, do not speak a lot; perhaps grunt but language is not part of the
original state of humans
oHow does language occur? You need people who are already speaking a language but to
speak a language you must already have learned it (chicken & egg problem) major
debate during the 18th century
oThe Natural Man is also strong because He has to do everything for himself; they are self-
reliant
oThey are also hardy; used to putting up with starvation and harsh weather
oThey do not complain and simply become used to their condition
oNatural Man are also healthy, because if they werent, they would die
oThe weak die young, the older ones are quite robust
www.notesolution.com

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Description
Lecture 09 Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality) 1) Nature vs. Artifice 2) Self-Presentation & Pity 3) Natural Man 4) The Change 5) Origins 6) Distinction ~~~~~~~~The Middle 7) Property 8) The Trick 9) Amour-Propre vs. Amour de Soi Rousseau comes along and asks what are you paying for? Facts: o Top 400 wealthiest people (0.00035%) in the United States are worth about $1.37 trillion (more than Canadas GDP) o The bottom 50% (about 165 million people) are worth about $1.2 trillion (with a growing gap) o The wealth of the group of this 400 is more than all about 12 countries of the world o Adding the GDP of the bottom 150 countries in the world is still less than top 400 Americans o What are we getting? What system would we expect if you get what you pay for? When wealth is so concentrated, what are we getting? o Locke mentions that such inequalities are just and fine in the system whereas Rousseau says that is not the case 1) Nature vs. Artifice Rousseau entered an essay into a French competition (Discourse of Origins won a prize, whereas his second essay, Discourse of Inequality, did not win a prize) Our focus is on the second essay o He sets up the question as to why we have inequality o Also, he lists what is wrong with society o He does NOT provide answers on how to fix society (that is in his Social Contract essay) Rousseau is not French; he is Genevan First question is What is Man [human being]? What humans are in the natural world is different from how we behave in the artifice (a made, unnatural created entity) This is one of the crucial places that early political philosophers have gone wrong o Locke & Hobbes both focus on the State of Nature o They have not done what they said they were going to do (explain how humans are in nature) instead what they did was take civilized humans and stick them in a forest and see how they would behave www.notesolution.com
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