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Jean-Jacques Rousseau: The Origins and Effects of Inequality - Article Example

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"Jean-Jacques Rousseau: The Origins and Effects of Inequality" paper argues thta despite being praised for adoption of an evolutionary approach, Rousseau turned the evolution backward. Humans were in their natural state when they behaved like animals with self-love being essential characteristic…
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Jean-Jacques Rousseau: The Origins and Effects of Inequality
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Download file to see previous pages The founding principles of Rousseau’s sociological ideas and political philosophy are clearly identified in the introductory paragraphs of his famous Discourses. The Dedication to the Republic of Geneva summarized the essence of Rousseau’s views in the following statement: “If I had had to make choice of the place of my birth, I should have preferred a society which had an extent proportionate to the limits of the human faculties; … in which every person being equal to his occupations, no one should be obliged to commit to others the functions with which he was entrusted; a State, in which all the individuals being well known to one another, … and in which the pleasant custom of seeing and knowing one another should make the love of country rather a love of the citizens than of its soil”(Rousseau, 1993, pp.32-33). The Republic of Geneva was perfectly line with Rousseau’s understanding of an ideal state: a moderate democracy occupying an adequate territory, governed mostly by the laws based on traditions with citizens living relatively plain and calm life.

The main paradox emphasized by Rousseau is the following: people prescribe laws to other people without proper knowledge the natural state of human being. However, this natural law did not exist in contemporary European society that “offered a corrupt form of the species and the inequality inherent in its societies should not be taken as a standard for assessing either other cultures or other species” (Moran, 1993, p.140). For Rousseau who believed that human character was “…deeply shaped by society” (Divine, 2000, p.291) it seemed impossible to unveil the true nature of humans in the European context where people had been squeezed by unfair laws and customs for centuries. The philosopher argued that the true measure of man that would not depend upon contemporary laws and customs could be found only in ‘natural’ places such as African jungles.

Rousseau drew strong parallels between the natural state of human beings and the state of animals. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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