SOC231H5 Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Mary Wollstonecraft, Virtual Reality, Sociality

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SOCIAL THEORY TEST REVIEW
Explain and evaluate Hobbes, Rousseau, and Wollenstonecraftt’s proposals for social arrangements that would
allow individuals in any society to lead flourishing, creative lives.
Rousseau believed that people connected to each other through relationships of unequal
consequences. He was against the idea of absolute authority, meaning he did not believe that society was
created accidentally. Due to a social contract, social conflict is the result of institutions and private property.
Hobbes wrote before the Enlightenment, so he strongly believed in the natural state.
Unlike Rousseau, who applied reason, Hobbes explains that politics implemented order. Before politics,
people are born into a brutish lifestyle. Hobbes explains that the transition to a civil society involves interplay
between society and the state. He believed that society was the collection of free humans drawing on senses of
reason, and that the state was organization of power drawing on senses of hierarchy and despotism. He explains
that the pre-social state of nature is characterized by peace, good will, reciprocal relationships, and that the state
of social conflict is associated with the growth of private property and social inequality (social conflict did not
exist until the association with the growth of private property and social inequality).
Hobbe’s state of nature declares that humans are isolated and indifferent to each other. Rousseau’s social
contract declares that there is a complex reciprocal arrangement where the rich are against the poor. Humans are
not interested in each other until a society comes to be (they need a social contract to become a society).
Rousseau believes that there is reason to criticize existing childrearing and educational practices. He
argues that women should be weak and passive; “the works of genius are beyond her reach, she has neither
the accuracy nor attention for success in the exact sciences”. He also declares that slavery was natural due to
scientific evidence.
Mary Wollstonecraft was an admirer and critic of Rousseau. She argued that gender roles were social,
not natural. Although she argues for women’s rights, she is subject to class and elitist biases. She says that it is
hypocritical to not compare the status of slaves an white middle class women. If rationality is human, it is
irrational to not allot that characteristic to women. Women are confined within the power of beauty and
sexual experience. Women ae separate from the male world of reason. Women’s subordination pushes them
into financial and emotional dependence on men.
Using relevant examples, explain Marx’s use of the “dialectical perspective” as well as the best elements of
“idealism” and “materialism” to critically understand society.
The dialectical perspective denies that everything is either negative or positive. There is a constant
state of becoming, constant process of inevitable change. A dialectical thinker is always comparing the
relationship of something to other entities (B is B because it is not A). With that in mind, humans are a product
of society, but we are also individuals who produce society. Things are not fixed forever because ideas are
continuously being materialized. This makes it hard to tell what is truly real (ex. Is a virtual reality virtual or a
reality?).
Idealism explains that ideas determine change (thesis  anti-thesis  synthesize  thesis…).
Hegel explains that the world cannot be perceived without preconditions. All human consciousness is
informed by innate principles/categories of thought that mediate everything we experience. Ideas are the
driving force of history.
Materialism explains that there needs to be a material context needs to change for ideas to resonate.
Humans are passive prisoners of their material context.
Marx’s dialectical method is a combination of idealism and materialism. An example would be a student
taking lecture notes. Those ideas are being materialized, and people use their agency to and act on what they’ve
learned. Another example would be people crying at the movies. The movie is just an idea, but it produces a
material emotion. There is constant social change through the resolution of contradictions.
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Document Summary

Explain and evaluate hobbes, rousseau, and wollenstonecraftt"s proposals for social arrangements that would allow individuals in any society to lead flourishing, creative lives. Rousseau believed that people connected to each other through relationships of unequal consequences. He was against the idea of absolute authority, meaning he did not believe that society was created accidentally. Due to a social contract, social conflict is the result of institutions and private property. Hobbes wrote before the enlightenment, so he strongly believed in the natural state. Unlike rousseau, who applied reason, hobbes explains that politics implemented order. Before politics, people are born into a brutish lifestyle. Hobbes explains that the transition to a civil society involves interplay between society and the state. He believed that society was the collection of free humans drawing on senses of reason, and that the state was organization of power drawing on senses of hierarchy and despotism.

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