Discourse on Inequality

Quarrels and disorders come from romantic love which

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Quarrels and disorders come from romantic love, which becomes dangerous only in society. Savage peoples such as the Caribs are really the most peaceful in this respect. Rousseau says that he has dwelt on man's beginnings because he feels he needs to "dig at the root" and show that in the genuine state of nature inequality has less influence than writers claim. It is easy to see that many differences between people are taken to be natural although really they result only from habit and the different lifestyles men adopt in society. Natural inequality increases as a result of instituted inequality. It would be hard to make savage man understand what domination is, or to make him obey you. Ties and servitude are formed solely by men's mutual dependence and the reciprocal needs that unite them. It is impossible to subjugate a man without placing him in a position where he needs another. Inequality is scarcely perceptible in the state of nature. Rousseau now aims to show its development. Perfectibility and the social virtues could not develop by themselves; they needed fortuitous outside influences. These were contingencies that made man wicked whilst making him sociable. These are only conjectures, Rousseau insists, and what he describes could have happened in several ways. Part Two Summary The first man who enclosed a piece of ground, and then said, "this is mine," and then found enough gullible people to believe him, was the true founder of civil society. People would have stopped many crimes and miseries if they had prevented him from taking that land. But in all likelihood, things back then had reached the point of no return. Much progress had been made before this last stage of the state of nature. The condition of nascent man was simple: his first care was for self- preservation. He had few needs apart from food, rest and sex. Man scarcely dreamt of exploiting or profiting from Nature. However, difficulties soon arose. Man had to become agile, run, fight and overcome the obstacles of Nature. Difficulties multiplied as man spread. Different climates produced different lifestyles. As man learnt to hunt animals, he began to consider himself preeminent among species. This was the beginning of pride in himself as an individual. Savage man was solitary, but gradually began to see similarities between himself and others. Man was in a position to judge when he should cooperate with others. Such dealings did not require a refined language. Initial progress became more rapid. Men discovered tools, and how to build huts. This was the first "revolution," which led to the establishment of families and a sort of property. Conjugal love resulted from families living together. Each family was like a small society. Women became sedentary and stayed at home while men foraged.
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