Rousseau 's Depiction Of The State Of Nature Essay

Rousseau 's Depiction Of The State Of Nature Essay

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Rousseau’s depiction of the “state of nature” begins with the idea that nature hasn’t done anything to make men sociable and that in the state of nature, there is no reason for men to need each other. Rousseau uses an example that the savage man would never consider suicide, therefore the savage man is much more content with his life than we are with ours. He uses his instincts, and his instincts only, to survive. The savage man knows nothing of being vicious, because he doesn’t know what it means to be good, so their ignorance is what keeps them from doing any harm. Rousseau states that the biggest of passions is sexual lust and that violent passions need laws to confine them. But, without laws, would these passions exist?
Pity is a natural sentiment that contributes to mutual self-preservation. In the state of nature, it takes place of laws, morals, and virtues and mankind would never have evolved if it depended on reasoning alone. Rousseau says that he has focused on man’s beginnings in order to show that in the genuine state of nature, inequality has less influence than we believe. He explains that it is easy for people to refer to inequality as natural, even though these differences actually result from habits and lifestyles that men adopt in society. Natural inequality increases as a result of instituted inequality. Rousseau states that there must first be agreement that the more violent the passions are, the more necessary laws are to contain them.
The true founder of civil society was the first man who claimed land as his own, and found enough gullible people to believe him, thus beginning the last stage of nature. Had someone stood up against this, crimes, horrors, and misery could have been avoided. With such progress, m...


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...cracy was formed; the states that stayed close to the state of nature formed democracies. Time concluded which was the best form, and all magistracies were at first elective. Then, the selection process led to strife and civil war, so hereditary government was instituted. This is how leaders came to see the people as their property. If you follow the progress of inequality, you find that the establishment of law and property was the first stage, the institution of monarchy the second, and the conversion of legitimate to arbitrary power the last. The first stage authorizes the state of rich and poor; the second, the state of powerful and weak; and the last, the relationship of master and slave. The same vices that make institutions necessary make their abuse inevitable. Laws contain men without changing them; a country where no men broke the law would not need laws.


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