Compares and contrasts the writings of John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Compares and contrasts the writings of John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau

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Ben Krejci Essay 3 5/9/08 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 essay’s 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 humankind’s 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 Locke’s Second Treatise of Government . In the end, there exists a single logic, the application of which successfully explains
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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 reality—as 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
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This note was uploaded on 10/15/2008 for the course HSS 2 taught by Professor Hannahwells during the Spring '07 term at Cooper Union.

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Compares and contrasts the writings of John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau

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