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SOC231H5 Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Mary Wollstonecraft, Complex Number, Labour Power


Department
Sociology
Course Code
SOC231H5
Professor
Zaheer Baber
Study Guide
Midterm

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SOC231 Test Review #1
Rousseau and Hobbes on the Origins of Society
Rousseau and Hobbes were both interested in determining the Origins of Society. Rousseau was born
in Paris and was a figurate for the enlightenment school. He was the first to coin the term “Society” and his
argument was premised on his concept of the “state of nature” and the “social contract”. Rousseau believed
there was two conditions the “natural” and the “social”, and in order to understand the origins of society, one
must understand how humans existed in the state of nature. He knew that today it was impossible to study
humans who live beyond the social, so instead looked at animals to understand the “natural”. For Rousseau,
man in nature has neither language nor-knowledge, and harmony is maintained through satisfying all of
one’s needs. He believed that only through society, could one depart from the requirements of natural laws.
War could only exist after society’s creation, because you need society for people to see hierarchy. Thus the
social contract is created in order to try and prevent eternal conflict. Hobbes viewed the state of nature as a
state of all out war. He argued that in all men lies a natural desire for power and if one person can only fulfill
that desire, than others become their enemies. The social contract for Hobbes, involves men agreeing to give
up their natural liberty and subordinate themselves to a sovereign authority who guarantees them security
and protection from force and fraud. This sovereign authority he often referred to as the “Leviathan”. Thus,
where Rousseau and Hobbes disagree is in their conceptions of the natural state. Hobbes sees the natural
state, as a “war of each against all” while Rousseau believes war is a by-product of the creation of society.
Mary Wollstonecraft on Rousseau and Gender
Rousseau wrote a book called Emile and Sophy, as a guide on how to raise children. It criticized
existing childrearing and educational practices. He argued that because of sex differences, women had to be
educated in a way, which corresponds to their nature. He believed that women’s bodies always remind
themselves about sex and because of this they had to be raised differently than men. He made claims that
little girls always dislike learning to read and write, but they are always ready to learn to sew. He argued that
males should be strong and active while women should be weak and passive. Mary Wollstonecraft was an
admirer and critic of Rousseau’s work. She admired much of his work but criticized it for his attitudes on the
education of women. She believed Rousseau was operation on age-old prejudice rather than reason. She
wrote her own book on how to raise females. Her main rebuttal to Rousseau was that women deserved social
equality with men and should be given the education necessary to achieve it. Her work was a fair rebuttal to
Rousseau’s although it too was not free of bias or based on reason alone. She was subject to her class bias
and argues higher-class women should go to the good schools while the lower class women should attend
trade schools.
Capitalism and its Origins
According to Marx, this is the time where products that had previously only had “use value” acquired
“exchange value.” But this was only the precursor to Capitalism. For Marx, Capitalism had to have an
important set of relations between the owners of the means of production buying the peoples labour power.
Thus, the origins of the capitalist mode of production require that the producer separate themselves from
their means of production and their means of subsistence and giving up those means to capitalists. By the
end of the 14th century the majority of peasants were now free and worked with their own instruments of
production. They also shared lands in what was called the commons, until about a century later when lords
began to rule and the peasants were driven off the commons. What was formerly the peasant’s means of
production became capital in the hands of lords. With this came the first phase of capitalism was called
“manufacture” which meant hand production. It is an increasingly complex division of labour, where each
worker is set to do a single task and as a result they become alienated from their work. The next stage came
to be known ad machine production. In this stage workers had to adapt to the skills of the machines. Many
commodities in this stage are created by machinery rather than handicraft. This greatly accelerated the
concentration of capital and led to the factory system.
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1) How did Rousseau and Hobbes address the issue of the origins and structure of society? What
was Mary Wollstonecraft’s position on Rousseau?
Rousseau
The state of ‘natural man’ is one living in harmony with nature and in a better situation than what he
was seeing
Criticized because of his naïve view of human nature
He thought human nature is largely good
Society is the corrupting force that transforms ‘natural man’ into the self-obsessed beast
Rousseau does not deny that Hobbes’ account of the ‘State of Nature’ is correct, just that Hobbes did
not define the ‘State of Nature’ correctly. For Rousseau, the ‘State of Nature’ is much more than just
a removal of government, it is the removal of all ‘cultural clothes’ including beliefs, language and
even an understanding of ourselves
Rousseau believed that self-love and pity are the only sentiments that remain in our nature; that we
are solitary, and have no desire for power because there would be nobody to have power over
Rousseau’s view of human nature is very positive compared to Hobbes’, and that any negative
aspects of human nature are the result of interaction with society
It can be argued, along the lines adopted by Sociologists, that without cultural clothes is there really a
human nature at all? Language has long been identified as a particular trait that has separated
humanity from other animals
If humans living in Rousseau’s ‘State of Nature’ have no language then can they really be called
humans at all? In Hobbes’ theory this problem is avoided as Hobbes strips society only of its
government and justice, (which are linked because justice is the fulfillment of the government’s will)
which is a very plausible situation and one which can be applied to international relations in today’s
world to some extent
Moreover, if humans are so naturally good then how could society be so corrupting and bad?
Rousseau’s assertion that throughout the course of human history, development has ‘improved
human understanding, while at the same time depraving the species, and making man wicked by
making him sociable’ is unfounded because it does not take into account the positive aspects of co-
operation within a society.
If Rousseau’s ‘natural man’ is compared to an animal, because ‘he’ exhibits no language,
understanding of ‘himself’ or beliefs, then it would be expected that animals would be living together
peacefully as they have not been subjected to the ‘corruption of society’. However evidence would
show that the opposite is true, and that in a ‘State of Nature’ animals are very territorial and very
aggressive towards each other a situation resembling Hobbes’ theory far more than that of
Rousseau. It is therefore incredibly naïve to expect that ‘natural men’ would live peacefully with
each other and far more likely that they would be concerned with self-preservation and taking
advantage of others to benefit themselves.
Men in a state of nature are free and equal. In a state of nature, men are “Noble Savages”.
Civilization is what corrupted him
The purpose of the government is to bring people into harmony.to unite them under the “General
Will”
Representation is not enough. Citizens cannot delegate their civic duties. They must be actively
involved. Rousseau favors a more direct democracy to enact the general will
Governments must be responsive and aligned with the general will, people make a nation, not
institutions and individual wills are subordinate to the general (collective) will
Hobbes
Assumption that human nature is naturally competitive and violent
Criticized because of his overly skeptical view of human nature
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