Monday, July 06, 2015

Summary: discourse on the origin of inequality among men of Jean-Jacques Rousseau.


This famous philosophical essay of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, whose full title is discourse on the origin and foundations of inequality among men (1755), is one of the masterpieces of the modern political literature. Rousseau established the basis of his political and social doctrine with the assertion that all evils and miseries and other aberrations that cause human inequalities have their unique cause in the State of sociability in this work.
The first and most elementary notion that must be clarified before attempting to explain the origin of inequality is the notion of man. But the same concept of man is difficult to fix, because modern man is like the statue of Glaucus, "that time, the sea and the hurricanes had defaced in such a way that they made it more like a fierce beast than a God". It is necessary therefore to looking back and from man in a State of nature, when his soul was corrupted by errors and passions of all kinds.

First edition of the discourse on the origin and foundations of inequality among men (1755)
From the budget that the structure and the figure of the man have always been the same, Rousseau looks primitive man as a being dedicated to life wandering and wild. Morally the wild man is distinguished of the animal by being free and perfectible, allowing you to not blindly follow their instinct, but determined in the sense that it wants to. In this state the man lives alone, outside the society; his passions are limited to the satisfaction of the natural desires, sentimental and imaginary superstructures clean.
Against the thesis sustained by the British philosopher Thomas Hobbes, Rousseau denies that a similar man is evil by nature; on the contrary, it is equipped with a natural feeling, piety, that inclines him to provide relief to those who suffer, without a shadow of reflection. Outside these few contacts, man in natural state not attends to his fellows and, under those conditions, the inequalities between men are invaluable and does not go beyond a few natural differences of strength, health, beauty, etc. Welfare and conservation, on the one hand, and on the other the natural repugnance to perish and suffer to his fellows, source of mercy, guided his conduct.
It was thus, according to Rousseau, until the appearance of the property. "The first having limited terrain said:"this is mine"and people found quite naive to believe it, that was the true founder of the civil society." A fact of such kind did not occur suddenly; It was prepared by a slow ripening. The man began to feel the need for stability; families and the cabins were formed and, above all, emerged industries and agriculture, the germ of the property resides precisely.
Property were born the demands, needs and luxuries; and then the men engaged in run rampant toward wealth, developing all its powers to benefit at the expense of others. Only that this trend was born also the imposing on others, dominate; the rich and the poor, the strongest and the first occupant of a land were thrown against each other like starving wolves. And behold, the rich, to save theirs, conceived the project employ in their favor forces that fought it; and little it cost him to convince the poor that was in the interest of them join all forces to joint guardianship.
Thus was created the civil society, laws were enacted and was definitely destroyed the natural liberty of man. As the right to freedom, come from nature itself, it may not be assigned, it follows that political powers founded upon such transfers are by definition arbitrary. Political inequality leads to inequality civil, to take a tragic cycle whose climactic phase establishes a common inequality, opposite the natural: despotism, in which all are equally slaves, "because they have no more law than the will of the Lord".
Rousseau's contemporaries saw in the discourse on the origin of inequality among men a merciless indictment against social and political institutions of his time and cheered on the author to the daring surgeon who dared to plunge the knife deep in the wound. Speech points out a fundamental moment in the history of political doctrines, as it contains the premises of the doctrine that Rousseau will develop in the social contract. According to Solari, the Covenant between weak and powerful that it hints the speech is the resulting empirical of a historical process which legally establishes an unjust State, while that of the social contract is the new Covenant that will replace the first: a compact work of reason and law, intended, according to Rousseau's idealism, to ensure the rule of Justice and happiness.
Extracted from the website: Biografías y Vidas
Biographies of historical figures and personalities

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