The Origin of Civilization Essay

The Origin of Civilization Essay

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The idea of free expression of political thought really came into its own in 18th century
Europe. Writers and thinkers like Adam Smith, Rousseau, and Edmund Burke shared their ideas that still give reasons for consideration even today. Rousseau gave the underpinnings for the French Revolution. Smith gave us the foundations for modern economic theory. Burke gave us the idea of Conservatism, which fathered all other -ism's. While all three of these writers gave us so much, it is important to look back and and see not only where their ideas came from, but also how there were in some ways just different interpretations of the same thing, and where they were in stern disagreement. One of the most important arguments that these men debated is that of the origin of civilization. This argument is fundamental, because it gives a foundation of reasoning. Armed with reason, all these men needed were some unshakable foundations. Once they had this foundation, they used it to legitimize any argument they derived from it. This is the reason that the question of the origin of civilization is so key.

Adam Smith was a Scottish economist. Being an economist, he is all about the money.
All his thoughts and ideas have an economic outlook to them. When he looks at society or towns as he calls it, he is looking for what the economic benefit is. Smith spends a lot of time talking about the interdependence of towns and agriculture. He says that if people are to have access to the luxuries that they desire, they have to be willing to cooperate. This cooperation, born of selfishness, is Smith's view of the origin of civilization. For Smith, this idea of individual selfishness helping the common interest is crucial. If this is the true meaning of socie...

... middle of paper ...

...hey are.
It is not surprising to see such varying theories from these three men. They were so
different, not only in background and location, but also in time. If Rousseau had been alive
for the real meat of the French Revolution, would he have tempered some of his ideas? We
often take Smith's work as obvious, but at the time it was revolutionary. Without Smith, we
would be years behind in economic theory. It is almost certainly true that Burke would have
even stronger things to say if his letter had been written after the Revolution instead of
before. No matter how different their opinions, these three men have left an indelible mark
on the face of western political, social, and philosophical thought.
i “It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with
experiment, it's wrong.”
-Richard Feynman

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