Rousseau

Let me begin with saying Rousseau could probably persuade me to believe just about anything. His style of writing is musical, and almost casts a spell on one’s own thoughts and ideas, somehow they become one.

I really really really preferred this to Hobbes’ Leviathan. As was mentioned in class, it helped that I felt like his sentences were clear enough for me to understand, and instead of meekly stepping through the linguistic hoops that Hobbes creates for the reader, I found myself swiftly running with Rousseau’s arguments, able to keep up with his line of thought, and way my thoughts alongside his.

It isĀ an interesting argument that Rousseau makes, especially when comparing it to last week’s text. Being in an intro to Sociology class this year, I found it quite unique that Rousseau finds purity in people’s original state (although that state cannot particularly be proven). What we do know is that at one point we were not ruled by a government, nor were we as driven by the need for more. This ties into some of what I have learned in my other class. Land ownership is a key breaking point to peace and simplicity that we once had as a primal species, because all of the sudden we had something desired by others, and hoarded by ourselves. I tend to agree with Rousseau in that much of our current problems with power corruption have to do with land ownership and uneven distribution of wealth. It will be interesting to talk in seminar about whether other people see his views as profound or nonsense.

Megan

1 thought on “Rousseau

  1. Yep, you’ve got correct one of the main drivers of inequality for Rousseau–he says it directly at the beginning of Part Two. But there are also other things that drive inequality that kind of get buried in the text sometimes. One is “pride,” a sense of living mostly in the esteem of others–spending a good deal of our time caring about what others think of us. He says on the last two pages of the text that while natural humans live in themselves, so to speak, civilized humans live outside of themselves, in the eyes of others. How does this contribute to inequality? We get into a sense of competition, always comparing ourselves to others, wanting to be better, superior, to win. It also makes us dependent on others because much of our energy is directed towards getting them to think well of us, which is important because much of our lives depend on this (e.g., getting and keeping jobs, for example). And becoming dependent gives others control over our lives. So that’s another big driver of inequality!

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