Rousseau’s Version of Happiness

So Rousseau says that the savage man is happier than the civilized man… Therefore, is it wrong for man to rely on tools and still retain the ability to carry out normal activities? (Activities include running long distances or using bare hands to break things apart).

Many would argue that the savage man has only the simplest of needs which are pretty easily met. Others would say that the civilized man is better off since he/she could improve their human potential and would have access to medicine which they can use to better themselves.

To properly analyze this, I believe there needs to be a clear definition of what happiness is. Happiness is an abstract concept that is subjective to each individual. Although Rousseau does not state his specific definition of happiness, it can be interpreted that he is in favor of facing the natural conditions as is, without any extra support or tools, and having the base needs covered.

Based on this fact, it can be said that Rousseau is very much¬†against the idea of the civilized man. The civilized man has become too complicated and creates more problems than solutions. In civilizations, individuals are trying to compete and be better than others, this creates competition, which would not be needed for the savage man since there is no need to compare oneself with others. I believe there is nothing wrong with being able to use tools and the civilized man and the savage man are both entitled to be happy, the only difference is what they consider happiness in each of their perspectives based on the time period and environment. Though, in Rousseau’s perspective, the savage man is the happiest one.

1 Thought.

  1. Sorry for the late reply! I like how you’ve put the problem with civilized society, according to Rousseau: we have created more problems than solutions. Yes, we have solved numerous problems with knowledge, advancements in technology, etc., but at the same time we are creating problems; and the solutions are not keeping up with the problems. I imagine he would say that we are creating more problems than solutions, so we are more unhappy. With our focus on competition and comparison, we now have to worry about how we are in comparison to others; with our new desires for new types of objects we have to worry about getting them or losing them; with our increased stress from both of these, and with the overwork many experience, we are making ourselves sicker than our medicine can keep up with. Would you say Rousseau is wrong about the imbalance of problems and solutions?

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