Deconstructing Rousseau

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a renowned French philosopher, attained prominence as a theorist and political philosopher in eighteenth-century France. A talented botanist and musical composer, Rousseau's thoughts on the nature of humanity propelled him to become a significant figure in Western thinking. His conviction that civilization had degraded humanity was a fundamental component of his philosophy. Rousseau’s work stressed on the significance of the personal and individual autonomy. He wrote that morals were not a construct of society, but was, to a certain extent "natural” and, which only build up through careful learning in a civil state.  Rousseau believed in the premise that humankind in the beginning didn’t have to answer to anyone but himself. 

Rousseau's philosophical insight can be established in almost every trace of today’s modern philosophy. To some extent, intricate and indistinct, Rousseau's common philosophy tried to seize a passionate and emotional side of man whom he thought was left out of nearly all preceding philosophical thinking. During his early writing, Rousseau argues that man is fundamentally good while in the "state of nature" - the condition of other animals as well as the state man was in prior to the creation of society and civilization - and that people become corrupted and unhappy due to their unpleasant experiences in society. According to Rousseau, society is corrupt and artificial and that the promotion of society results in the enduring discontent of man.

Similar to other theorists of the day, Rousseau considered an imaginary state of nature as a normative lead. Rousseau censured Hobbes, another great philosopher, for declaring that given man in the "status of nature.  . . has no thought of decency he must be obviously immoral; That he is ferocious since he does not know virtue" (Cooper 45). In disparity, Rousseau believes that "virtuous morals" exist in the "state of nature" and he particularly admired the venerable restraint of the Caribbean’s in articulating the sexual urge. Rousseau noted that morality was not a communal creation, but somewhat "natural" in the intellect of inherent, an outcome from a man's inbred unwillingness to witness affliction, from which begin the emotions of empathy and compassion. These were responses common with animals, and whose existence has been acknowledged by Hobbes.

Different to what his various critics have alleged, Rousseau in no way did he suggests that humans in the state of the nature act with decency; indeed, expressions such as wickedness and justice are irrelevant to pre-political civilization as per Rousseau's understanding. Morality proper, such as a self-restraint, may only build up through vigilant learning in a civil state. Human beings "in a state of Nature" may perhaps act with all the viciousness of a monster. Humans are good only in a depressing sense, insofar as they are self-reliant and therefore, not subject to the vice of political civilization. Indeed, Rousseau's normal man is practically the same as a lonely chimpanzee; along with the "natural" kindness of civilization is thus the decency of a creature, which is neither bad nor good. Rousseau, projected that, apart from perhaps for epigrammatic moments of stability, at or close to its beginning, when a virtual equality between men reigned, human civilization has constantly been artificial, generating disparity, resentment, and aberrant desires.

According to Rousseau's philosophy, a society's unconstructive pressure on men hubs on its revolution of amour de soi, an affirmative self-love, into amour-propre, or delight. Amour de soi signifies the innate human need for self-protection, pooled with the human control over reason. Quite, the opposite, amour-propre is simulated and persuades man to evaluate himself to others, thus generating unjustifiable fear and permitting men to take delight in the weakness and pain of others. In comparison to the positive outlook of other enlightenment figures, for Rousseau, advancement has been unfavorable in the welfare of humanity. That is, if it can be neutralized by the promotion of civic duty and morality. Just like in common society, humans can be ennobled using reason:

The course from the status of nature into a civil state creates a very outstanding adjustment in man, by surrogating honesty for intuition in his behavior, and giving his actions the decency they had previously lacked. It is only then when the tone of duty takes the position of objective impulses and right of enthusiasm, does man, who had previously considered only himself, uncover that he is required to act on diverse values, and to confer with his reason prior to listening to his preferences. Even though, in this condition, he dispossesses himself of some rewards which he derived from nature, he in return gains others so immense, his abilities are so enthused and inspired, his feelings so extensive, his way of thinking so ennobled, and his entire soul so fortified, he would be hurdled to bless incessantly the happy moment which made him a gifted man and being.

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