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Chapter

PHIL 240 State of Nature - Rousseau & Anarchists

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Department
Philosophy
Course
PHIL 240
Professor
Adam Etinson
Semester
Fall

Description
Rousseau Believed also that self-preservation was the ultimate goal of mankind, but also believed that humans were capable of benevolence. Does not doubt that a modern citizen, corrupted by society, would behave as Hobbes depicted. However, objects to the State of Nature as described by Hobbes and Locke, who are accused of projecting the qualities of civilization onto the savage man. Believes man to be born capable of the State of Nature, but that he is corrupted by society. Does not advocate a return to a State of Nature, for that is impossible for man that is corrupted by society; nevertheless, he expresses regret at the present conditions. Argument that man in State of Nature will be compassionate is not based on the existence of a natural moral code, as in Locke, but his belief that man is naturally harm-averse, and will seek to minimize/avoid it in himself and in others. Therefore, Rousseau's view is emotional, and not necessarily logical. Admits that while a strong savage would avoid harming a weak if an alternative method of self-sustenance was available, this compassion would not be strong enough in the case of resource scarcity and competition.
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