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Pol320 Oct.3 Lecture Rousseau.docx

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Political Science
Simone Chambers

Rousseau POL320 Lecture  Society makes us bad, not in our natures  Rousseau denies original sin, and he tried to avoid censors o The individual lives in complete isolation, there is no family, it’s not just society that makes us bad  It is sociability it self, being social at all, will lead us to be competitive, to compare  Our self consciousness separates us from animals Central concepts  Equality/inequality His fundamental agreement is morality and how we look at each other P.88  We are always comparing ourselves, it’s not about money, but about if you have more money/a bigger house than someone else  Pity/self-preservation/egocentrisim o A natural compassion is distorted/squashed. Self-preservation does not lead to conflict but only due to the emergences of self-love, and it turns into egocentrisim. P.53 “there is another principle that Hobbes missed..”  footnote 15 (p117) we must not confuse egocentrism to love of one self (this is a natural sentiment and is driven by logic), egocentrism makes men to value oneself more than anything else  Reason/reflection o Reason is the bad guy, (p63-4), it engenders egocentrism and reflection strengthens it. For enlightenment, reason is like grace for Christians. If there was a riot “the prudent man withdraws”. Attributes it to our downfall  He associates reason with calculation and prudence, and self- interest, and philosophy  Philosophers live in an abstract state. Their higher contemplation of higher thinking underestimates real, current suffering. It suppresses compassion for human beings o Connects reflection and reason to a gut compassion  A savage in the state of nature cannot exercise generosity, so in some writings, he believes reason is good  Sentiment/passion o For Rousseau, sentiment is good, and passion is bad (p.65? and sex) 1  Getting together in a family, conjugal love is sentiment  Sex is a passion and is destructive (but it possible to channel it and be constructive, women’s job is to control men’s urges by giving and withholding sex by rewarding it for only proper behavior)  Rousseau himself had complicated relations with women.  Nature/convention/artifice o Nature is a biological life, and also means internal principles that exists independent of human conventions (our anima behavior), and is contrasted to convention (not necessarily bad)  But unlike artifice, artificial has a negative connotation. It implies fake, and leads to competition and inequality  Authenticity o Rousseau never uses this word, but to live authentically he meant that there is no going back, but it would help to realize our problems.  He embraces the idea that our natures are malleable, that it changes with society, so how can we find authenticity? The Two Rousseaus? (from book 4, read 8 and not 7) 1. Authenticity has been threatened, perhaps destroyed by progress. a. Romantic theme of the “discourse on Inequality” 2. Reason tells us that we are fundamentally free and that consent is the only basis of legitimate political rule.
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