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Krejci Ben 5/9/08 Essay 3 To preface the following collection of ideas regarding some works of Rousseau and Locke, I will make clear that while my argument draws from textual evidence, a significant portion of its substantiation originates in abstract philosophical observation alone. I have deemed the early mention of this fact imperative because it may be viewed initially to be a deficit in the strength of my case; but I disagree. My choice to structure this essays proof as such stems from a notion that Rousseau himself introduces in the preface of his Discourse on the Origin of Inequality. He contends essentially that any assertion pertaining to a fundamental law of nature (of physics, of the universe, etc.) is not immediately apparent within our current place in an advanced society because the advancement of humankinds abstraction itself complicates and distorts this original law, Thus, in a sense, it is by dint of studying man that we have rendered ourselves incapable of knowing him [Rousseau, 33]. Therefore, one must, as Rousseau so eloquently puts it, separate what is original from what is artificial in the present nature of man, and have a proper understanding of a state which no longer exists, which perhaps never existed, which probably never will exist, and yet about which it is necessary to have accurate notions in order to judge properly our own present state [Rousseau, 34]. Buddhism, Space-time, Classical Philosophy, etc. Rousseau composed his Discourse on the Origin of Inequality and that On the Social Contract such that the ideas within clash with those in John Lockes Second Treatise of Government. In the end, there exists a single logic, the application of which successfully explains both the core origin of their assertions, and the disparities between the two texts. This logic is implicit of general theory surrounding perception and the laws of physics, and is more fundamentally intrinsic of the logic that explains how it is possible for a given individual to have an opinion that is contrary to that of another individual. The notion of one simple concept that claims the ability to account for every difference between any two ideas seems at first to be a stretch. Yet when considering the complexity and extensiveness involved once each idea is defined by pages and pages of abstract thought, the possibility of such an overarching concept existing appears to be an impossible oversimplification. In most cases, even disregarding this implausibility leaves the assumption that such an all-encompassing theory would be too broad and arbitrary to be relevant. However, these skepticisms stem from a failure to realize that the two belief-sets only differ in context, and in fact not at all in truth within realityas defined as the metaphorical vessel for existence itself. This hereto dubbed mother logic is itself an elegant philosophical system that surfaces in countless facets of civilized human society, and even in the writings of both Locke and Rousseau. From this mother logic, I propose that the differences between the beliefs presented in the philosophical writing of each author can be ultimately explained by starkly apparent fundamental differences in the life experience of each author. To avoid further confusion, bear with me as I digress in order to define, as concisely as possible, the mother logic that has been so extensively referenced thus far. Buddhist philosophies suggest that any consciousness alone is inherently part of an absolute truth that exists throughout the universe, from which all other possible truth is derived. However, the brain is dominated by such things as greed, hatred, and delusion that distract and corrupt attention to this truth. A Buddhist will then observe various counsels, such as the four noble truths, and simple practices, such as distancing ones consciousness from these defilements through meditation. In this way, he or she gradually consolidates observational truths into fewer and fewer deeper truths until ultimately reaching the trunk of this tree, at which point awareness of the one absolute truth (and thus Bodhi, or enlightenment) is reached. Of the common mandates of Buddhism, the above concepts are paralleled in modern science. Over the last several centuries, advances in scientific understanding of the universe have been made that allow for a consolidation of the truths we determine through observation into fewer and fewer fundamental laws. Recently, these so called laws of physics were simplified to include the postulate that space and time are one; that light, electricity, and magnetism are one; and that matter and energy are one, along with several others. Even more recently, a theory was conceived that succeeds thus far in unifying all of these laws into a single fundamental truth, from which any other law previously perceived to be truth may be derived. It can be seen then that most Buddhist and technologic interpretations of the universe are fundamentally compliant, thus merging philosophy and science. Finally, for the purpose of concluding this digressive explanation and bringing focus back to Locke and Rousseau, this mother logic must be applied to social human interaction. To do so, one must recognize the fact that if logic itself is truly transcendent of all space and time, every consciousness uses this same logic when making any decision. Recall the notion of two individuals, each of whom believing his or her truth without a doubt. Mere worldly experience tells us that with relative frequency, the scenario occurs such that one truth blatantly contradicts the other; in fact, argument makes up a fairly large portion of all human interaction. A divergence in opinion then must originate from the evidence supplied to logic in order to make this decision, not the logic itself. The only evidence ever provided to a consciousness originates from either sensory input, or from associations harbored by said mind. These associations, both subconscious and not, are either instincts from DNA built up over time from the experience of ancestors, memories amassed since birth from personal experience, or previous associations (the formation of this kind of association is called abstraction). Two people are then extremely likely to be unique as each has a differing set of experiences since birth, and a differing set of DNA. Therefore, by virtue of differences in available evidence, two people may use the same logic to come to differing conclusions about one topic. In fact, each conclusion is in a sense an equally valid truth, regardless of its apparent misalignment with any collective perception, merely because it follows universal logic. For example, before Einsteins epiphany in 1915, humans viewed matter and energy to be separate because consistent with all experience had dictated, nowhere in their associations was the notion that matter and energy might not be separate. even Therefore, though universal logic gives rise to the fact that matter and energy are one, it also gave rise to the truth that they are separate when provided with deficient evidence. Because any one perception is certain to omit some facet of reality, no truth may be taken for granted. The effect also implies that while Rousseau and Locke may have fundamentally different beliefs; each is valid from its own perspective, both may be consolidated down to a mutual truth, and the perceived discrepancies between them can ultimately be explained by differences in their experiences. Rousseau and Locke actually use this mother logic to develop their arguments, though they do not explicitly state this. It is likely that neither is even aware of this fact, or of the specific existence of the logic at all, but merely exhibits the effects of the phenomenon by mere virtue of existing within its domain. An example of this usage can be found on page 41 of Rousseaus Basic Political Writings where he discusses whether man is naturally timid or daring. He begins by introducing Hobbes opinion that in a state of nature man is intrepid in contrast to Cumberland and Pufendorfs opinion that man is originally fearful and nervous. But instead of choosing one to be true, he steps back and chooses an alternative logic that allows both seemingly contradictory opinions to be equally valid in their own right. He first explains how man is naturally timid, he is frightened by all the new sights that present themselves to him every time he can neither discern the physical good and evil he may expect from them nor compare his forces with the dangers he must run [Rousseau, 41]. And subsequently explains how the converse may also be true, a savage man lives dispersed among the animals and, finding himself early on in a position to measure himself against them, he soon makes the comparison; and aware that he surpasses them in skillfulness more than they surpass him in strength, he learns not to fear them any more [Rousseau, 41]. Rousseau recognizes that neither assertion is completely false and that a simple abstraction unifies the two. Thus, through objective reasoning, Rousseau distances himself from his deceptive associations to reach a conclusion that satisfies both truths by existing closer to the trunk of the previously mentioned metaphorical tree of truths. To move away from example and definition of this mother logic, focus may be brought to its application in defining Locke and Rousseaus beliefs as they exist together. Lockes philosophy as defined in his Second Treatise of Government operates under the notion that nature provides an abundance of necessities such that if, divided correctly, even in the presence of a civil society, no being will ever be deprived of a basic need. This notion is outlined explicitly in the following excerpt: nature [has] furnishedpeople, with the materials of plenty, i. e. a fruitful soil, apt to produce in abundance, what might serve for food, raiment, and delight [Locke, 25]. He uses this assumption to support his belief that private property is justified as long as the proprietor takes only what he needs. The fact that nature does not necessarily provide enough for everyone means that his truth here only applies to certain situations, but not all. Using abstract reasoning, one concludes that his truth (that nature provides enough for all) combined with the alternative truth (that nature does not provide enough for all) both stem from the more fundamental truth that either is possible. Since all of Lockes arguments regarding mans right in civil society (the overwhelming majority of his treatise) depend on this truth, there is an entire branch of truths which he neglects to address. Rousseau, however, does address this truth. In fact, he focuses more on the section of truths regarding a general scarcity rather than the alternative. He believes that within a given community, the things one possesses, as distinct from and more broad than things that one owns, inherently gravitate towards public domain and away from the individual, of a private individual, public possession isstronger and more irrevocable, without being more legitimate [Rousseau, 151]. The fact that he states without being more legitimate implies specifically that on top of his belief in the existence of the phenomenon, he views it to be unfavorable. Rousseaus notion here that in any form of society, natural law leaves the individual with a general insufficiency seems to directly contradict Lockes notion that in any form of society, natural law provides the individual with a general sufficiency. In addition, these conflicting beliefs appear to be fully explanatory of the apparent differences between the two. Because mother logic dictates that the only reason for the blind spot present in each truth must lie in experience, it is reasonable to look to their respective childhoods for possible explanations. John Locke was born in a cottage by the village church. His father was a successful lawyer and former cavalry captain and his mother was a reportedly stunning tanners daughter. He was baptized the day of his birth and raised to be a good puritan. At the age of 15, Lockes parents sent him to London where he attended the esteemed Westminster School and subsequently Oxford University. In contrast, Jean-Jacques Rousseau was born in a busy city. His mother died 9 days later. Rousseaus father was financially unstable because his business as a watchmaker had failed. He abandoned his 10 year old son to avoid being arrested so Rousseau spent the rest of his childhood as an orphan. He was not formally educated in any way and speaks of being beaten routinely by a nun. It is quite evident when the two stories are contrasted that Lockes childhood lacks mostly the experience of insufficiency, while Rousseaus childhood lacks mostly the experience of sufficiency. The overwhelmingly stark correlation that can be found between the blind spots present in each authors conception of the universe and the holes within their life experiences confirms the predicted link between the ability to formulate an opinion and basic experiential association. While basic and abstract philosophical theory can be applied to any aspect of reality by mere virtue of definition, it proves especially useful and interesting in the formulation and development of an argument that seeks to compare texts which are themselves about philosophy. For the purpose of writing a persuasive essay, the language used implies that my assertion is proven, though I intend no such assumption. The nature of this all-encompassing philosophy/science, rather, is completely limited by the constraints of perception, of which we cannot be aware with 100% certainty. For this reason, only probabilities that represent the incidence of a single truth within reality may be calculated, and thus, nothing is certain. ... View Full Document

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