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Discourse on Inequality

As they are not rational he says animals cannot have

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natural law. As they are not rational, he says, animals cannot have any part in a natural law, but as sentient beings they take part in natural right, that is, they feel and are the subjects of pity. This gives animals at least the right not to be mistreated by man. The study of natural man, of his "true needs" and "fundamental principles of his duty," is the only way to clear up important issues such as the origin of moral inequality and the foundations of the "body politic" (the state). Without such a study, the foundations of modern society seem shaky and insecure, and it is hard to separate what "divine will" intended from what man himself created. By realizing what we would have been if left to ourselves, Rousseau argues that we can better appreciate "him whose beneficient hand" steered us away from the worst disorders. Exordium Summary There are two types of inequality: natural (or physical) and moral. Natural inequality stems from differences in age, health or other physical characteristics. Moral inequality is established by convention or the consent of men. There is no point, Rousseau argues, in asking what the source of natural inequality is. Nor is it worth asking whether there is an essential connection between moral and natural inequality. Rousseau says that this is a question for slaves to ask in earshot of their master, but not for free men. What is at issue is an attempt to decide when rights replaced violence in human relationships and when nature was subjected to law. Philosophers examining the foundations of society have tried but failed to reach the state of nature. Rousseau offers an account of the various mistakes in their writings. All of them took ideas from society and transplanted them into the state of nature. They spoke of savage man, but really depicted civil man. However, no writer doubts the existence of the state of nature, despite the fact that it does not really appear in Scripture. Therefore, Rousseau argues, we need to set aside the facts. Rousseau's enquiry will not deal with historical truths, but with hypothetical and conditional reasoning, like the reasoning that physicists make about the beginning of
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the world. Religion compels us to believe that men are unequal because God wanted them to be like this, that God drew men out of their original state of nature immediately after the Creation. However, religion does not forbid conjectures, such as Rousseau's, which try to hypothetically analyze the nature of man and find out what man might have been if he had remained "abandoned" in the state of nature. Rousseau aims to speak in a language suited to all times and places, and to show man's real nature. There is an age at which the individual human being would wish to stop. Moreover, people will also look for an age in the past at which they wish the species had stopped. Part One Summary
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As they are not rational he says animals cannot have any...

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