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Rousseau Discourse on Inequality

In writing A Discourse on Inequality, Jean-Jacques Rousseau essentially analyzes the original emergence of inequality and whether it is authorized or encouraged by natural law. In doing so, he also utilizes various methods as a means of formulating a more viable, conveying argument that his audience can follow. As a result, his audience is thus able to know of the history and past in regards to the time period based upon this material while simultaneously being confident in what it says. This was initially written in attempts to win an essay contest–and although he did not win–this essay has been greatly analyzed and assessed throughout former years by many historians. This piece of literature gives us insight into the way inequality has been formed and whether or not it is a true innate nature within us to form structured, hierarchical societies. Although we may whimsically fantasize of a time in which government, organized status/class, and ladders didn’t exist and define us, the idea of such a chaotic reality is almost terrifying–or is it?

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What is most transparent in this essay from the very beginning is the purpose and motives of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. In order to truly comprehend his motives, we must first understand who Jean-Jacques Rousseau is. He, in fact, had a very significant role in society. Indeed, he was recognized during his time in the eighteenth century as a famous Genevan philosopher, writer and composer. His ideals impacted both the Enlightenment as well as the French Revolution, which directly implies that his beliefs and perception were those of insight and awareness far ahead of his time. In knowing this, it is fair to come to the conclusion that this man spoke of intellect and knowledge that was not recognizable to people at this time. They couldn’t fully appreciate this piece of literature along with the very important message that came along with it because they simply were not ready to embrace this mindset. In releasing this essay, Jean-Jacques Rousseau put his career and reputation at great risk. He essentially mocked humanity and the way they chose to handle issues and lead their lives dating as far back as the nomads–and many people would not like to sit there and listen to the irony of their lifestyles. In writing this, Rousseau primarily attempts to allow for individuals to see the fault in the history of humanity and understand the root of true inequality. In order to stop this inequality, mankind must first understand how it occurs and how they are contributing to it. In this way, Rousseau naturally nudges people in the right direction of ending this inequality.

Rousseau is fairly clear about his thesis, claiming “If nature destined man to be healthy, I venture to declare that a state of reflection is a state contrary to nature, and that a thinking man is a depraved animal” (Rousseau, 12.2). In saying this, he basically expresses that humans are born free and good, as desired by nature. However, the desire for selfish belongings and wealth deprived from the savage man lifestyle led us to develop a structured society–one in which inequality is inevitable. This reflection of developed society and reminiscence of savage times allows for the reader to reflect on the extent to which he or she relies on government and social status–the very things that may be robbing them of their equality. This is the only way we see society now and it is nearly impossible to revert this in order to achieve natural equality–the idea of this regression is nearly impossible. Rousseau capitalizes on this feeling of unaccomplishment to achieve two goals; not only does it create suspense that carries the reader through the story, it also blurs the line between savage man and structured man in a way that compels the reader to examine his or her own complex relationship with the hierarchy.

Rousseau utilizes very clever strategies in conveying his argument. He most obviously expresses the ubiquitous nature along with the recalcitrantes of social inequality which takes place in his response to the evident question accumulated by the idea that social inequality is artificial: since inequality is a so-called man-made creation, why do we have an almost alluring propensity to continue creating it? In a strategic manner, Rousseau ends this confusion by establishing an infatuation rudimentary to human psychology—amour propre. This infatuation is responsible for fulfilling individuals with a desire to pursue inequality for their own sake, as opposed to focusing on other things. Amour propre is essentially a concept that one’s own self-respect or even self-worth relies on what others think of them. It is the fanaticism that allows for social relations to be nearly imperative for human beings while simultaneously examining how humans are inspired to pursue inequality within these exact relations.

In this way, it is transparent that the intended audience of this text is focused upon all of mankind. Indeed, in the beginning of the essay, Rousseau claims, “As my subject interests mankind in general..” (Rousseau, 10.1). This is a wide range of audience for Rousseau to cover, which thus makes his overall argument fairly broad–he couldn’t focus on any specific gender or race because he had to allow for this essay to be relatable to all of mankind. It is thus conspicuous that another one of Rousseau’s strategies is to refer to “humankind,” “mankind,” etc. rather than to just man/woman or even a specific race. In this way, his argument is engaging and empathetic to everyone–ensuring a greater audience and yielding a higher support rate. This also builds his credibility because he is–for the most part–not biased in his essay. He has no reason to lie or create an argument based upon false pretences. In fact, he has an even bigger motive to not publish this essay as the criticism may end his career. As was claimed in the aforementioned statements, many people were not ready to face the reality of Rousseau’s argument which thus made his decision to publish this essay a very bold one for that matter.

Regardless of how greatly structured Rousseau’s argument may be, it will of course conflict with the ideals honored in today’s day and age. Although inequality may have been ineluctable in the 18th century, there have been many movements and progression away from this unfairness since then. We have come forth with various movements: BLM, the Feminist Pro-Choice Movement, the Anti-Islamophobia Movement, the LGBQT Movement, etc. Although we may still be a long way from full equality, we are definitely headed towards the right direction. In regards to Rousseau’s beliefs and approaches in his essay, the solution is worse than the problem. The idea of dropping our organized society and going back to olden times of savage man would inevitably hinder all of humankind’s progress thus far.

It is agreeable that societies, governments, and overall social stratification were originally created as a trick in order to allow the wealthy to exploit, subjugate and control the poor. The rich obviously have more influence since money essentially equated to power–government was merely a facade disguised in a peaceful dispute resolution that was realistically just a way for the rich to become the powerful and the poor to become the weak. However, the government has made a lot of progress since then. We are now a democracy in which people vote and get to have their voice heard–regardless of rich or poor. We even have government benefits favoring and helping the poor and those that are minorities in America–such as EBT, IEHP, college acceptances, etc.

Rousseau had a very large impact on history, directly capitalizing on his significant influence on other historians. One of the most prominent effects of this is Immanuel Kant. Although Rousseau and Kant had very opposing ideals—Rousseau adapted an ongoing theme of nature and innate characteristics while Kant based his writings on morality and rationality—their work sometimes coincided. The Profession of Faith of the Savoyard Vicar effectively elucidates this concept. Kant’s piece expresses that the most viable way to perceive the world is to imagine yourself at its circumference—one in which all individuals have a common center—as opposed to recognizing yourself at the center itself. This corresponding conviction is analyzed in Rousseau’s piece of work. Indeed, if we must consider the way society as a whole has changed due to every one of us—or rather, if we would like to make changes in order to improve it, we must all have common ground. They both express the idea that selfishness should not be a natural part of life, but rather that cooperation and stability should be. In this way, Rousseau’s work supports Kant’s just as Kant’s work may also support Rousseau’s.

Without directly saying this, Rousseau implies that selfishness and greed is the root of all evil. It is argued that if humans didn’t desire the need for their own possessions as opposed to sharing, there would be no need for the structure we have now–no government, no social class, no political parties, no hierarchy, no organized structure. However, humans are competitive–they desire wealth, materialistic things, and above all else, they crave the satisfaction of dominating more of the aforementioned commodities than those around them. This is the real reason why savage man had little to no chance of survival–because we are the real savages; we prey on the poor and consistently hunt money all while claiming that this is for the greater good: equality.

Another reading that may directly relate to Rousseau’s Discourse On Inequality is The Social Contract, also written by him. In The Social Contract, Rousseau elaborates on the conclusive narration of the state in which structures of equality that social/political philosophy perturb themselves with can be attained. Rousseau’s discourse offers a critique of inequality as well as societal norms, government institutions, and natural law. This permits the preamble for The Social Contract and allows for Rousseau to accurately depict the assumptions of which these aforementioned institutions must be directed if inequity is to remain within its formal boundaries—as in, if it is to steer clear of becoming a methodical source of oppression, tyranny, and subjugation. Thus, the motive of The Social Contract is merely that a significant fraction of the cynical fire in Rousseau’s a Discourse On Social Inequality originates from his perception that the aspiration for equality is possible for humans—which is expressed in his social contract through the use of communicating solutions to social inequality. However, he also argues that certain characteristics of both the social and psychological evolution common in human beings collaborate as a means of allowing for the inclination of a position of power as the highest probable conclusion of amour propres’ formation.

Although these two pieces by Rousseau may directly collide, they have one major difference. The Discourse On Inequality is often perceived as a mere essay written with the intention if winning a contest. The Social Contract, however, is taken much more seriously as a legitimate piece of literature as opposed to Rousseau’s discourse. Regardless of this apparent distinction, both pieces of writing have been analyzed and discussed by many historians through former years. The discourse essentially set the foundation for The Social Contract which thus makes both pieces viable, credible sources of evidence–though The Social Contract may be slightly more credible due to the fact of its origin. It was written with the intent of being an educational, argumentative piece–solely for the fact of educating others, rather than to just win a contest.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a very significant part of history. He has been credited with many amazing accomplishments–inspiring and contributing to The French Revolution, The Enlightenment, other historians, etc. His Discourse On Inequality greatly affected the way we may view humankind, nature, and the government today. Without the argument that humans were naturally born good and innocent but were soon corrupted by innate selfish desires of ownership and power, it would be very hard to understand the way society works and develops today. He very strategically formulates his argument based upon this premise and uses various methods in order to more effectively convey his point of view and gain a higher supporting from all who chose to listen/read his pieces.

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Rousseau Discourse on Inequality
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Artscolumbia
In writing A Discourse on Inequality, Jean-Jacques Rousseau essentially analyzes the original emergence of inequality and whether it is authorized or encouraged by natural law. In doing so, he also utilizes various methods as a means of formulating a more viable, conveying argument that his audience can follow. As a result, his audience is thus able to know of the history and past in regards to the time period based upon this material while simultaneously being confident in what it says. This wa
2021-12-21 08:13:24
Rousseau Discourse on Inequality
$ 13.900 2018-12-31
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