Semester Long Review Sheet
Discourse on Inequality:
-Rousseau changes the question to : how can one know inequality without knowing man?
-we must not consider man as he is now, deformed by society, but as he was in nature.
-Progress drives man as a species further from its original condition in the state of
nature. As knowledge increases, so our ignorance of the true nature of man
increases -Rousseau next claims that he perceives two basic principles that exist "prior to reason"—that is, before man is deformed by society and rationality.
-From these principles, which do not require sociability, natural right flows.
Man's duties are not dictated to him by reason alone, but by self-preservation and pity.
-Therefore a man will not harm another sentient (pain-feeling) being unless his own self-
preservation is at stake.
-The duty not to harm others is based not on rationality but on sentience,
the state of being able to feel.
- According to Rousseau, this solves the age-old question of whether
animals participate in natural law.
-As they are not rational, he says, animals cannot have any part in
a natural law, but as sentient beings they take part in natural right,
that is, they feel and are the subjects of pity. This gives animals at
least the right not to be mistreated by man.
-Rousseau argues not that animals have all the rights that humans do,
but only that to harm another sentient creature is universally wrong. -Main Point: natural rights and laws mean nothing if we do not understand the nature of man.
-There must be a correlation between the two for natural laws to mean anything.
-Therefore, to understand what this nature is, we have to take reason out of the equation
entirely, as man in his original condition may not have been a rational creature. There are two types of inequality: natural (or physical) and moral.
-Natural inequality stems from differences in age, health or other physical
-Note that "physical" inequality also includes intelligence and presumably
the capacity for reason.
-Moral inequality is established by convention or the consent of men.
-By defining moral inequality as the elevation of some men over others by
consent and convention, and hence as a form of political rule, Rousseau
twists the terms of the question again. He begins to ask how inequality in
society: that is, how power and hierarchy began to operate amongst men What is at issue is an attempt to decide when rights replaced violence in human relationships and when nature was subjected to law.
- others have tried but All of them took ideas from society and transplanted them
state of nature. They spoke of savage man, but really depicted civil man.
writer doubts the existence of the state of nature, despite the fact that it does not really
appear in Scripture.
-Religion compels us to believe that men are unequal because God wanted
them to be like this, that God drew men out of their original state
of nature immediately after the Creation.
-religion does not forbid conjectures, such as Rousseau's, which try
to hypothetically analyze the nature of man and find out what man
might have been if he had remained "abandoned" in the state of
nature. Rousseau aims to speak in a language suited to all times and places, and to show man's real nature His final line about finding a place where one might wish the species to have stopped introduces the idea of a critique of modernity
-This is the first and clearest statement of an important theme: that modern society
and inequality are a bad thing We must beware of confusing savage man with civil man, as in mistaking domestic animals for wild ones.
-Being naked and without shelter is not a disadvantage to savage man, although it
would be to us.
-Savage man sleeps much and thinks...
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