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16 Feb 2011
School
Department
Course
November 15, 2010
Lecture: Rousseau and the Federalists
-social contract theorist
-believes you need to use the hypothetical construct of the state of nature to suggest that we have
the right to criticize certain kinds of societies
-advocated democracy
-first test was to address the nature of human nature
-have to clarify the nature of human nature
-his conception is different from his predecessors
-agrees with Montesquieu
-as a result of ignorance of error, we misinterpret laws
-when it comes to human beings, people make decisions as part of a long chain of means and
ends
-behaviour is caused by telos
-not all human behaviour is neutral, have moral significance and consequences
-At his time, France was in royal absolutism
-Accuses Hobbes of having left in tact certain social and cultural attributes, i.e. we become
warriors by socialization
-If we were killers by nature, wouldn’t draft soldiers
-Rousseau wants to strip humans down to their original nature, pre-religion,-culture,-society etc
-Wants to understand as they were before society, however this is difficult since ‘when were
humans ever without society?
-There are two principles: -preservation and well-being, the other is an aversion to witnessing the
destruction of any other sentient creature
-A third principle is not necessary: socioability
-Since we feel this sentience with animals, we should not harm them
-The only difference between animals and humans is that humans have the ability for self-
improvement
-This capacity for self-improvement—how it emerges is felt as a necessity
-In the state of nature, this capacity is still dormant, because humans beings in this benign state
of nature have no need for it—survival does not need these other capacities
-What he’s asserting is that humans have no social qualities in that condition—no sociability, no
language, culture etc
-Males and females unite only in brief encounters for desire and opportunity and then each goes
their own way
-As soon as the child can survive without the mother, leaves, and during youth, does not even
recognize mother
-Have just enough sociability to prompt us to come to the aid of others
-Denies sociability because they have no real needs for other humans
-contradicts himself
-in this view, every human being is an island unto himself
-however monkeys, wolves etc have real mutual needs that are created through
cooperaton etc
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Document Summary

Believes you need to use the hypothetical construct of the state of nature to suggest that we have the right to criticize certain kinds of societies. First test was to address the nature of human nature. Have to clarify the nature of human nature. As a result of ignorance of error, we misinterpret laws. When it comes to human beings, people make decisions as part of a long chain of means and ends. Not all human behaviour is neutral, have moral significance and consequences. At his time, france was in royal absolutism. Accuses hobbes of having left in tact certain social and cultural attributes, i. e. we become warriors by socialization. If we were killers by nature, wouldn"t draft soldiers. Rousseau wants to strip humans down to their original nature, pre-religion,-culture,-society etc. Wants to understand as they were before society, however this is difficult since when were humans ever without society?".

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