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Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 1712-1778 Born in Geneva, mother dies while he is infant Father is tyrannical; sends JJ to be an apprentice;

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Presentation on theme: "Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, 1712-1778 Born in Geneva, mother dies while he is infant Father is tyrannical; sends JJ to be an apprentice;"— Presentation transcript:

1 Jean-Jacques Rousseau

2 Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Born in Geneva, mother dies while he is infant Father is tyrannical; sends JJ to be an apprentice; JJ hates it and runs away

3 Priests help him and send him to home of Mme. De Warens, who supports him, sends him to school. Later becomes his mistress. After moving on and becoming famous, JJ selects a poor, illiterate serving girl, Therese Levasseur, as his mate. Together they have 5 children, each one of whom JJ immediately places in an orphanage

4 Discourse on the Sciences and the Arts, 1750 Discourse on the Origin and Foundation of Inequality Among Men, 1773 Emile, or On Education, 1762 On the Social Contract, 1762 MAJOR PUBLICATIONS

5 MAJOR AREAS OF CONCERN HOW BEST TO MAKE IDEALS OF FREEDOM AND EQUALITY A REAL PRESENCE IN PUBLIC LIFE WHAT IS THE OPTIMAL WAY OF ORGANIZING OURSELVES IN SOCIETIES (monarchy, laissez faire, majority rule, communes, aristocratic rule?) WHAT ARE THE FACTORS WHICH EXPLAIN WHY WE FALL SHORT OF OUR IDEALS?

6 BACKGROUND FOR UNDERSTANDING ROUSSEAU MAKES SHARP DISTINCTION BETWEEN “NATURAL” AND “ARTIFICIAL” STATE OF NATURE = NATURAL CONDITION OF HUMANS PRIOR TO ORGANIZED SOCIETIES “GOLDEN AGE VIEW” OF THINGS (NO PROGRESS) HUMANS MOTIVATED BY NATURAL COMPASSION AND SELF-PRESERVATION EVOLUTIONARY ANALYSIS OF SOCIAL DISTINCTIONS

7 In Part One: Rousseau speaks of two kinds of inequality among human beings: §Natural inequality l established by nature: e.g., differences in age, health, bodily strength, qualities of mind §Moral or political inequality l depends on convention; established or authorized by human consent: e.g., some are richer, more honored, more powerful §Rousseau wants to consider humans in their “natural state,” before moral/political inequality

8 Rousseau considers “natural man” from two perspectives: §Physical l humans have “robust” constitutions l they do not “need” homes, clothing, etc. l their main concern is self-preservation §Metaphysical (moral) l humans distinguished from animals by freedom self-perfection l autonomous (loners) l innate sense of pity l little conflict l love as physical

9 What are Rousseau’s assumptions? §Any significant inequalities among human beings are the result of “civilization” l In our “natural” state there was no inequality to speak of §Thus, for Rousseau, civilization implies degeneration l “The man who meditates is a depraved animal.”

10 What are Rousseau’s assumptions? §Also: in their natural state, humans did not “need” one another l Sexual relations were not based on a “moral” notion of love l Mothers and children only stayed together for as long as utility demanded

11 Why are these assumptions? §Because Rousseau does not and cannot have access to this “original,” “natural” experience. §There is much conjecture in his arguments. §Yet he thinks his conclusions are inescapable. §How would you critique his argument?


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