POL320 oct 2nd.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Political Science
Simone Chambers

Tutorial- October 2, 2013 Kant said that we live in an age of enlightenment, when people begin to think for themselves. He looks forward to a time when human beings can think for themselves, instead of relying on religious and political leaders. Now we look at Rousseau. Kant was very influenced by Rousseau. Rousseau is looking backwards…Kant is looking forwards. Rousseau is stuck between prior to the enlightenment and the enlightenment. He is concerned with how we got here, to the point that we have others thinking for us? In order to do this he proposes a different account of human nature (state of nature) than Hobbes. He says that humans weren’t always social, and would not be in constant conflict with one another. He says that we have to go back in time, and look at human history. He says that there is something that pre-dates the Hobbesian way of thinking. He is pursuing “conjectural history”, which uses a less literal account of human history. He is trying to shed light on what human beings were before, and how we became what we are. He is imagining society as a theoretical past history. He says we shouldn’t look at our society and look back from there, but that we should look back further and use our imaginations. How do humans act in the state of nature? The 2 impulses that humans are interested in are: 1. Self-preservation (longing to live, not suffering, not dying) 2. Pity (a gut feeling towards our fellow human beings). He refers to this as the cry of nature. When we define these two impulses, how do individuals interact? They only interact in order to procreate. It rests on momentary transactions, with no sustainable relationships. In this state humans are more closer to animals than modern humans. He thinks that neither gods nor beasts are dependent, so he says that humans as self-sufficient on their own, they do not depend on other people for their survival. So why is there no war in this state of nature? There is the key impulse of pity, as well as the fact that people don’t know one another enough (they don’t compete or compare themselves to others), they hardly interact with one another. He talks about the fact that inequality cannot exist in a state of nature, they do not measure themselves with one another in the state of nature. Then there aren’t concepts such as justice or contracts. There are two forms of inequality that he outlines: Physical inequality (weight, size, strength, biology) Political inequality (social, power, consent) Human beings have free will, so they tend to adapt to their surrounding environment. Rousseau is concerned mainly with the political inequality. He believes political inequality is an artificial construction and therefore is somewhat unnatural. He wants to discover how we arrived at this type of inequality. Is private property natural? No. Not for Rousseau. IT is not natural because it is an artificial construct. He believes that god gave
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