Role of Reason in Society

The state of nature and the emergence of the human capacity to reason has been a common interest for writers throughout history. John Stuart Mill, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and John Locke, all address these issues in their works, “On Liberty” , “Discourse On The Origins of Inequality” and the “Second Treatise of Government”, respectively. While all … Read moreRole of Reason in Society

The Possibility of Perpetual Discontent: Rousseau’s “Inequality”

Can a man living in society be content? In the essay, Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, author Jean-Jacques Rousseau addresses this very question. Man first originated in the state of nature, where he was alone and only dependent on himself. Over time, natural man started to deviate from the system and evolve into a … Read moreThe Possibility of Perpetual Discontent: Rousseau’s “Inequality”

Classical Views of Liberalism

Classical liberalism, as expressed by Locke, contains the notions of both intellectual or physical liberty (i.e., the natural rights and freedoms of man with respect to society) and economic liberty (i.e., the right to own and transmit property). With respect to the development of property rights, Locke argued from the standpoint of both Christian theology … Read moreClassical Views of Liberalism

The Divergent Opinions of Smith and Rousseau: Natural Sociability and Criticisms of the Division of Labor

Although Adam Smith is considered a great defender of commercial society and Jean-Jacques Rousseau one of its prominent critics, both thinkers share certain criticisms of the division of labor. The two acknowledge that splitting tasks among people leads to the creation of social distinction and to the futile pursuit of happiness in luxury. For Rousseau, … Read moreThe Divergent Opinions of Smith and Rousseau: Natural Sociability and Criticisms of the Division of Labor

Love in the Passions

There exists a debate between Rousseau, Plato and the philosophers of the Encyclopedia over the experience of the passions. While Plato and the philosophers choose to philosophically debate over the reasons behind love and sexuality, Rousseau, who insists that “imagination wreaks so much havoc,” unfastens philosophy from the passions and argues that they are independent … Read moreLove in the Passions

The Purpose of Language

Jean-Jacques Rousseau and his predecessor, Thomas Hobbes, both encounter the issue of language while constructing a concept of the state of nature and the origin of human society, a favorite mental exercise of seventeenth and eighteenth century philosophers such as themselves. The two agree that language elevates – or, perhaps more appropriately in regards to … Read moreThe Purpose of Language

Self-Interest and Social Stratification: A Modern Reading of Rousseau on Labor

Philosopher John Locke claims that all of mankind has a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of property, and while many accept this claim as fact and truth, there are those who contest whether this idea is right and proper in regards to the laws of nature. In A Discourse on the Origin of … Read moreSelf-Interest and Social Stratification: A Modern Reading of Rousseau on Labor