The State Of Nature

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The State Of Nature – Jean-Jacques Rousseau Vs. John Locke Essay, Research Paper In this essay, I will attempt to show how Jean-Jacques Rousseau s view of the state of nature differs from that of his predecessor John Locke. I will then compare certain aspects and themes central to each thinker s views and interpretations of the state of nature. Using the concept of the state of nature , Rousseau illustrates that people are essentially good and the negative aspects of society (i.e. injustice, inequality, deception) are due to external corruption of human nature and are not intrinsically part of human nature. I intend to show how Rousseau s theory of the state of nature differs from that of Locke and how Rousseau s views on the denaturing of human beings explain political and

social concepts such as the right to own property and the general will of society . According to Rousseau, there are two kinds of inequalities among men, natural inequality and political inequality. Natural inequality simply means that there are biological differences in people such as age, strength and health. Political inequality means that there are different rights and privileges given to some people over others. This type of inequality can be seen in terms of power, prestige and wealth. While due to natural inequality some people would have more skill, talent or wisdom than others, the lack of private property and possessions ensures that people are equal. Rousseau has said that in the state of nature man is truly free and autonomous. The state of nature is the perfect state

for man. To understand this, we must first look at what Rousseau truly means by state of nature . In Rousseau s state of nature there is no notion of private property. All people have natural resources available to them for their own sustenance whenever they need it. Natural resources are not depleted due to the fact that people use only the resources that they immediately need and cannot own anything beyond what they immediately need to survive. Beyond that, people don t have a claim to any form of private property in the state of nature. In the state of nature, individuals have symbolic value. People rely on their own power and ability whereas in civilized society, people rely on external resources such as tools and machines. In the state of nature a person is more complete,

having his/her entire self at his/her disposal when needed (page 41). In the state of nature a person is solitary, relying only on him/herself. A person doesn t really have connections to other human beings such as family or close friends. In addition, natural man has sentiments such as self-love and pity. Natural man is different from other animals because he/she has a natural capacity to be free-willed and the will to perfect him/herself. Rousseau explains that because man is naturally solitary then in the state of nature there is no need to form a society . Rousseau does not believe that man has a natural capacity to be ruled by another. In the state of nature, people are truly free and equal. The state of nature is simplistic in many ways, but Rousseau believes that in it man

is truly free and truly happy. Rousseau believes that man is naturally good . He believes that being good is the norm for man. If some people behave badly or improperly, they re acting in a way that deviates from the norm. People are essentially good but can be corrupted by external factors such as financial inequality and scientific innovation. Rousseau s meaning of the state of nature is basically how people would behave without the intervention of political authority and other external factors. However while people are essentially good in the state of nature, they can not necessarily be considered virtuous. Rousseau basically means are that people are good by being innocent. In Rousseau s state of nature people do not have the capacity for language, therefore they cannot adopt