Human Nature-Rousseau

Human Nature from Rousseau's point of view

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  • Created by: Holliee
  • Created on: 10-04-12 10:38

Rousseau's State of Nature & Characterisation of M

State of Nature

  • Describes the state of nature as a state of paradise 
  • People are isolated from one another
  • There is no property, ‘noble savage’ takes only what he needs 
  • It is peaceful-there is no greed and no competition 
  • No-one is equal-there is nothing to fight over and no fighting 
  • No fear of others-no reason to attack anyone else

Characterisation of Man

Humans have:

  • Self-love and compassion-in common with animals
  • Free will and perfectibility- can imagine differences and improve on them
  • There is no such thing as a fixed human nature-it is malleable, can be corrupted or modified
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Foundation of Society

  • Early settlements arose as a result of natural disasters
  • Once in groups, people being to value the good opinion of others, crave popularity and reputation-> hierarchies begin to emerge
  • People start to claim land as their own -> concept of property emerges -> creates jealousy, greed and competition

“Sociable man, always outside himself, can only live in the opinion of others” the social contract

  • People lose their compassion for others in their increasingly selfish drive to be richest and most powerful
  • Property has caused the evils of the world
  • -“the first man who having enclosed a piece of ground and thought up the statement ‘this is mine’ and found people simple enough to believe him…was the real founder of civil society”
  • Taking property was the beginning of society-> brings need for laws
    • causes jealousy, unfairness and war
    • land ownership -> now a reason to harm others
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Responses to Rousseau

He generalises everyone

It's naive to think that everyone would be content with the conditions in a state of paradise. Like in society where we have laws, there are still people that go against them; so to think that there would be a peaceful co-existence is impossible.

Concepts of Property

Possibly, it is part of human nature to have ownership of land and possessions and a society would naturally evolve. Property is also am accepted concept in the animal kingdom, in terms of territory. 

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