Prof. Edith Elwood
October 22, 2008
Explore Rousseau’s assumptions about human nature, freedom, and social inequality. How are these ideas connected? Do his ideas have relevance in today’s world? Why or why not?
How human beings connect themselves to society, and in which ways, a society’s structure (or backbone) works in order to meet these needs defines guides how a society will function and either prosper or vanish with time. Rousseau, through his discussion in “Discourse on the Origin of Inequality”, sought to define a functioning society for human beings, as well as give light to the errors of societies. Like Locke before him, he sought to find faults and offer a solution to them. However, they still differ in many ways and the issue of inequality is remains an important issue to both of them. Locke argues that inequality is a functional necessity for society, but Rousseau believes that it is the most evident fault in society. Nevertheless, the central issue with Rousseau is the nature of human beings, which presents some conflict to the reader. He argues for the innate goodness of humans and, thus the importance of the individual. However, his concept of general will seems to put the system above the individual and thus, his notion of the importance of the individual is contrasted. Despite his contradictions within his discourses, his assumptions about human nature, freedom, and social inequality remain as an important support system to a society that would further individual equality within society as a whole.
It has been a growing argument between the biologists and sociologists about the cause of human nature. Why do some people commit such heinous acts as murder or rape? Why is it that people deviate from social norms to a life on the streets? Biologists argue that it the cause is an increase in hormones or it is a recessive genetic trait. I believe that not to be the case, but when I consider the odious...