Rousseau on Inequality
JeanJacques Rousseau (17121778)
Born in Geneva (Protestant Republic)
Converted to Catholicism in Sardinia
Lost citizenship in Geneva
Eventually moved to France
After writing tDiscourse on Inequality , moved back to Geneva
Converted to Protestantism, regained citizenship
After publishing tSocial Contract , fled both Geneva and France
Like Hobbes and Locke, Rousseau is a Social Contract Theorist
But, he objects to Hobbes/Locke as being Anachronistic
Hobbes’ and Locke’s strategy:
What are people like in the state of nature?
Observe the traits people display in political society
Speculate about how these traits would manifest themselves in the absence of political society
Many of the traits people display in society may be the result of living together with others
These would not show up in a presocial existence Rousseau’s State of Nature
Life prior to the existence of any human society
What is human like in a presocial form of existence?
What sort of lives did human beings have before they lived and interacted with one another?
There was a time when humans did not live in groups
1. What were humans like when we live as solitary animals?
2. What explains our developments from solitary to social beings?
3. What does this explanation tell us about social inequality?
Determine which traits arise from living/interacting with others
Subtract those traits
Imagine what human life would have been like without them
PreSocial Human – The NOBLE Savage
Solitary individual, independent, selfsufficient
No language Capable of very little forethought
Conscious, but not selfconscious
Move to action by simple desires associated with basic needs
Food, shelter, warmth, sleep, sexual gratification, safety
Motives and Desires of the Noble Savage
Simple, generic desires dictated by two passions
Not reflective; consists in simple desires for wellbeing
Sense of identification with others per