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06F GECLST21A FinalQ1

06F GECLST21A FinalQ1 - 06F GE CLST 21A Individual and...

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December 15, 2006 06F GE CLST 21A Individual and Society The very notion of freedom forms the philosophical base of both Rousseau’s work Discourse on the Origin of Inequality as well as Kant’s examination on what Enlightenment is. Their focus on freedom helps them to further extrapolate on two seemingly different topics: inequality of man and process of enlightenment, but one must realize that this difference stems from the contrasting views they take on freedom as an idea. Rousseau views freedom as man’s way of not only being able to resist instinct, but also what defines man as a whole – the idea that he is a free agent in the state of nature. Kant however defines explicitly freedom to be “freedom to make public use of one’s reason in all matters” (Kant, pg 2). He then differentiates between this idea of public and private freedom and extends his reasoning that public use of reason brings about enlightenment among humans. However, these divergent viewpoints originate directly from each philosopher’s focus on the distinction between the individual and society. This paper will then analyze these divergent viewpoints of freedom by Kant and Rousseau and also the reason as to why this dichotomy exists by examining this distinction of individual and society. Rousseau views freedom as the state of nature and that entering into society sacrifices this freedom in the context of the individual. Rousseau starts by defining man in the state of nature as a free agent and that man in the state of nature has no need for
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society and furthermore, that language doesn’t even exist let alone needed in this state. Rousseau then goes on to establish that two principles are prior to man’s reason and entrance into society: self-preservation and pity. These two principles allow individuals to not engage in a state of war as espoused by Hobbes, but a state that “was consequently
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06F GECLST21A FinalQ1 - 06F GE CLST 21A Individual and...

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