CCR199 On the Origin of Inequality Reading.docx

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First Year Seminars
John Noyes

On the Origin of Inequality 4/9/2013 1:23:00 PM Preface - QUESTIONS: What is the nature of inequality among men, and whether it is authorized by natural law? How can one know inequality without knowing man?  To answer this, you have to look not at man as he is now, deformed by society, but as he was in nature o Progress drives man as a species further from its original condition in the state of nature. As knowledge increases  our ignorance of the true nature of man increases.  Ignorance of the nature of man casts uncertainty over the nature of natural right. - If we don’t what the terms nature and law mean, how can we define the natural law that is supposed to authorize inequality?  For this Q, we look at real nature of man  To be a law, it has to be agreed to "knowingly" (rationally), and to be natural it must "speak with the voice of nature."  2 ways out of this though: 2 principles that exist prior to reason: Self-preservation and pity o Therefore a man will not harm another sentient (pain-feeling) being unless his own self-preservation is at stake o The duty not to harm others is based not on rationality but on sentience, the state of being able to feel  This solves Q of whether animals participate in natural law: since they aren’t rational, no. But they take part in natural right which means they are given right not to be mistreated by men Exordium - 2 types on inequality: natural (or physical) and moral  Natural: differences in age, health or other physical characteristics  Moral: established by convention or the consent of men - Issue: To decide when rights replaced violence in human relationships and when nature was subjected to law - Other philosophers tried to reach state of nature but failed b/c they took ideas from society and transplanted them into the state of nature  Spoke of savage man but depicted civil man - Rousseau’s writing will not deal w/historical truths, but rather hypothetical and conditional reasoning - Religion argues that men are unequal b/c God wanted them to be like that (God drew men out of their original state of nature after Creation)  But religion doesn’t forbid conjectures (info based on incomplete info) which hypothetically analyze nature of man and find out what man might have been like had he remained “abandoned” in the state of nature Part One - If you strip man of artificial faculties, you see an animal that’s less strong and agile able to move quick and easily) than other wild animals - Savage men  Live w/beasts and raise themselves to level of animal instinct  Their only tool = their body, which is stronger than civil man’s  Not scared of anything b/c he learns to recognize who he can defeat  Serious enemies = natural infirmities (physical & natural weakness) such as old age, childhood, illness - Other philosophers: Hobbes argues that savage man is naturally intrepid (fearless/adventurous) while others believe he’s naturally timid - Role of Medicine  Our illness are due to excesses and passions of modern society  State of nature has few sources of illness  less need for doc - Savage man  Being naked or w/o shelter is not disadv. to them  They seep much and think little (self-preservation through attack or defense is major care, which he needs strong senses for) - Metaphysical and moral side of man  Ingenious machine, to which nature gave sense to operate/protect  Man is free agent so he contributes to his own operation but otherwise is similar to animals o Animals chose by instinct, man choses by freedom so man is more adaptable than an animal  Key distinction b/w man and beast = faculty of perfectibility o Distinct and unlimited faculty = source of all man’s miseries o Draws him out of his original condition and causes enlightenment, his vices and virtues to develop - Savage man begins with simple mental operations:
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