Enlightenment Essay

Topics: Political philosophy, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, State of nature Pages: 10 (3086 words) Published: February 24, 2014

Enlightenment Essay

Imagine yourself living in world with no social expectations, no competitions and no submission to the social hierarchy. Imagine yourself being free, peaceful, strong and powerful. Jean-Jacques Rousseau calls this state the natural state of man, the state that everyone should aspire to live in and that brings power to an individual. By exploring the natural state of man we are able to see how Jean-Jacques Rousseau developed a new understanding of the individual. According to Rousseau man should want to live in the natural state. Nithin Coca is a journalist who writes from Colombia University discusses Rousseau’s ideas about the Natural State by saying, “Man in his natural state had more equality and freedom from other men than did man in civilized society. To him, power, slavery and inequalities are all aspects of civilized society”(Coca, par. 4). Man has much more freedom and equality when living in the natural state. When a man lives in the natural state, he is able to do anything without having to judge by society and their expectations. In a cultivated society people are brutalized when others do not accept their behavior and way of thinking. Man in the state of nature did not need a system of owning slaves. A man must be able to do things on his own without being dependent or controlled by. Slavery is the outcome of inequality in a civilized society. Living in a civilized world always results in competition and struggle for authority. John Gingell is a lecturer at the Nene College of Higher Education and the author of “Modern Political Thought: A Reader”; in this book he pulls out influential works of political thought and places them into historical context. He discusses the natural state and the civilized state of man by saying that “The former breathes only peace and liberty; he desires only to live and be free from labor. Civilized man, on the other hand, is always moving, sweating, toiling and racking his brains to find still more laborious occupations” (Gingell, 142). A man who lives in a cultivated world is always in motion with so many burdens, yet he still tries to find a more laborious job to keep him busier than he already is. However a natural man lives independently so that he is free from heavy labor. His only desires are to live a simple life and strive for happiness.

James Delaney, an author at the Niagara University wrote entry for the Encyclopedia of Philosophy that examines the origin of inequality in Rousseau’s perspective, he describes natural man is at peace without having to worry about what comes to him in the future (Delaney, par. 23). Man in his natural state does not care of what lies ahead of him. He has inner peace when he is not aware of his future. He is at peace because make no comparisons to others of how much more beautiful or intelligent he may be. The man at natural state will be at peace by just attempting to do whatever he does to satisfy himself. The “Discourse of Inequality” is book written by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. In this book Rousseau writes about the inequality of natural state he says “Man is weak when he is dependent, and is his own master before he comes to be strong” (Rousseau, 33). Rousseau explains that when man lives in a civilized society there is always someone smarter, stronger and more attractive than he is. However man is in his natural state, he becomes his own mentor and teaches himself that what doesn’t kill him makes him stronger. Rousseau has developed the new understanding of the individual by examining the natural state of man. The individual in the natural life has a much more simple life than one who lives in civilized society. The individual does not worry or struggle about competition and comparison so he’s mind is free and at peace. The individual in the natural state has independence and so he stands up for himself. When man is independent he has more confidence and with confidence he has more strength to overcome...

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