Rousseau was a philosopher who advanced the idea that the way humans are created they have a nature of being good. he believed it is the society which acts as the corrupting force and therefore transforms ‘natural man’ who is good and converts him into the a beast or a human who is no longer good. Rousseau had believed that the state of nature is a greater thing that not only involves the absence of the government, but also absence of culture and includes beliefs, self understanding and language. It is at this point that what remains to an individual is a state of pity and self-love will be the only sentiments remaining in the human nature. Therefore the individual is in a state of solitary and does not aspire for power as there is no one else to have power over.
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In one of his writings Discourse on Inequality, Rousseau borrowed from the concept of Hobbes on the nature of individuals but brought it up different than Hobbes did. Hobbes understood the state of nature to be a state where there is constant war and is populated by violence, the brutes have self-interested, while Rousseau believed that the state of nature should and has in general is peaceful, is a happy place that consists of free independent people. According to Rousseau, the war that is described by Hobbes is only achieved by individuals once they move from the nature state to the civil society stage. This is when issues to do with property and law will work in creating conflict between those who have and those who don’t or the rich and poor. Therefore the main principle that Rousseau believed in that man is good naturally and only corrupted by their own thinking of achieving perfectibility and also by his capacity of reasoning that might be harmful. This paper will focus on the means to which the human nature is corrupted and some of the circumstances that make an individual to forsake the state of nature and join the human civil society or humanity.
Men according to Rousseau while attempting to describe all the inequalities that exists within humanity and also attempting to classify inequality as either “natural” or “unnatural”. For Rousseau an individual in his true state of nature is basically just like an animal like any other, whose main motivation principles are pity and self-preservation. At this state man an individual will exist without any reason, will have no concept on what good or evil is, will have minimum needs and they will be very happy. The only difference between a man who is at the state of nature and an animal is that humans will have the sense that they have not yet realized perfectibility.
The idea of perfectibility is the main cause to the challenges and what will make an individual to change with time. According to Rousseau things will drastically change for an individual the moment he or she agrees to move from an isolated human being and forces him to adapt to what the environment offers and accepts to be shaped and changed by the environment. If a natural cause like a disaster compels or forces people to abandon their initial habitat and move to a new habitat, they are forced to come into contact with new people and participate in the formation of new groups which can be considered to be elementary societies. Also there is creation of new needs and people start to deviate from the state of nature towards a new lifestyle all together. Rousseau argued that when the individuals come into contact with each other and there is the formation of small groups, it is in the human nature that they will soon, the mind will begin to develop some language necessary for communication amongst them; this in turn will contribute to the growth and development of reasoning. Living life in the collective state or as groups will also propagate the growth of a new, motivational principle of the human actions that is negative. This negative human principle is referred to by Rousseau as amour propre, and it leads to individuals beginning to compare themselves with each other (Board, 29). The drive that has made individual to begin comparing each other is not based only on the need for self and pity preservation but also others. The individual comparison will lead men to attempt to domination their fellow man as a method of augmenting their own joy and happiness.
Rousseau also brought forward an argument that with after the development of amour propre and development of human societies that can be considered to be more complex, there is the invention of private property and there is the necessity of labor creation which is necessary for human survival. This labor is divided into the very different individuals who endeavor to provide for the whole community that has been formed. Through the division of labor and the introduction of private property will act as an enable for the property owners and for all those who are non laborers to commence on their domination and exploitation of the poor in the communities. Rousseau argued that with that state of affairs the poor will resent the treatment, and with the resentment they will seek war on the rich so as to bring to a halt to their unfair domination and exploitation. Therefore according to Rousseau, with the rich learning the fact that the poor are resenting, they plan on how to deceive the poor by requesting them to joining a political society which they purport will work in granting the poor the equality they are demanding. But rather than the political society granting the poor equality, it works to sanctify their oppression and works to make the unnatural moral inequality to be a permanent aspect of civil society.
Rousseau had argued that in the Discourse for him the only natural inequality that existed among individuals is the inequality which results from the physical strength difference each of us have. As this is the only difference that is in existence in the state of nature, according to Rousseau in today’s societies by individuals creating laws and private property ownership, it has worked to corrupt the natural man and worked in the creation of some new states of inequality which are not in line or conformity with natural law. He regards to this as unjustifiable and should at all times be unacceptable for this form of inequality which has led to moral inequality be allowed to thrive, and he concluded by asking individuals to make a point of contesting this evil inequality.
Through his thinking his work both appeals to the moral and the political realm with the main and fundamental aspect being moral inequality or the development of unnatural forms of inequality which are created by other human beings. Rousseau clearly taught that there should be no excuse for such forms of inequality which in all ways morally wrong and people must find way of eliminating these social evils. The elimination of social inequalities brought about by humanity was one of the topics of discussion during the French revolution.