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

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Zaheer Baber
Study Guide

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SOC231 Midterm Review
Q1) Explain and evaluate Hobbes, Rousseau, and Wollstonecraft’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).
Hobbes'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 critique 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 a 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 are separate from the male world of
reason. Women’s subordination pushes them into financial and emotional
dependence on men.
Q2) 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 and social change.
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
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