Well, to start off, I think that A Discourse on Inequality has been one of my favourite reads for ArtsOne so far. I found that many of my personal opinions regarding humanity and society rather closely matched the opinions of Rousseau, and in general, I found the work to be one whose theories closely match the actuality of society.
In comparison to pessimistic Hobbes, Rousseau had a far more positive view on human nature. I completely agree with his opinions regarding the nature of the first man. I personally think that the first man was no different from the animals that surrounded him, except in the fact of his higher levels of thinking. I doubt that the first man was all too concerned with greed and power, due to the burning necessity of survival. Whereas Hobbes would state that this desire to live sparked savage nature, I rather agree with Rousseau that the fear of pain ignited compassion within humans, not beastliness. Maybe I’m a bit of an idealist, but it pains me not to agree with Rousseau’s theory of compassion.
What I found most interesting about the work was the section on language. Language has always been one of those aspects of human society that I can never wrap my tiny brain around. How did we go from an entirely speechless language to one filled with so many complex methods for expressing thoughts? I found that Rousseau’s theory concurs with the majority of theories out there, that we started simply and worked our way up, but this is something that still baffles me. The entire prospect of the origin of language is something I find so fascinating, and so intriguing that I can barely comprehend it. Although Rousseau’s theories aided slightly, I still am amazed at the origins of speech.
I do agree mostly with Rousseau’s theory of society corrupting the individual, but I still find it slightly hard to swallow. This is because where did these feelings of greed, pride, and everything negative that Rousseau states is an outcome of society stem from? There must be a portion of the human being that is naturally predisposed to these feelings. Society is merely a concept, it could not have implemented ideas in our heads from the very beginning, and thus there must be some aspect of humans that possesses these negative attributes. The way society is structured simply draws them out.