The Nature of Man

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peter frampton
Western Civ 14th – 18th
2/26/12
The Nature of Man
What is the strongest motivation for humans? Is it man’s greedy sense of self-preservation and survival that motivates him? Hobbes would think so. Is it the idea that man is more important than other living creatures on this earth? Is it the acquisition of supreme power that proves his ideas to be right? Does might make right? I think the real question here is what the true nature of man is, what is man’s strongest motivation? Is man naturally motivated by evil or good? Whether or not one can actually answer these questions is debatable, but one thing is for certain, there is an original state of nature that man can be summed up by. What people think this is can be determined as subjective truth unless the answer is self-evident in which case the answer is unquestionable. Rousseau believed that man’s strongest motivation is compassion. Compassion is what makes humans continue to exist because compassion allows us to see the damage we as people can cause and understand the motives of others. Rousseau also believed that man, in his first state of nature, is neither good nor evil, he is neutral. At this state, man’s main concern is survival, but this is not an evil thing. The term that developed out of this notion was “noble savage”. Rousseau also believed that in this state of nature man is most truly free. As soon as man enters the institution of society or even a family, he is now subjected to the ideas of authority and submission. Man at this point battles constantly with the concerns of slave and master relationships. Rousseau believed that compassion was man’s strongest motivation because all humans come to understand how terrible pain and suffering is and generally sympathize for others when they undergo them.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a French philosopher in the age of enlightenment. Rousseau was a philosopher that inquired the truth as to the true state of nature of...
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