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

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Political Science
Stefan Dolgert

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
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