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Single Idea 19751

[catalogued under 25. Society / A. State of Nature / 1. A People / b. The natural life]

Full Idea

One principle prior to reason makes us ardently interested in our well-being and self-preservation; the other inspires a natural repugnance to seeing any sentient being, especially our fellow man, perish or suffer.

Gist of Idea

Our two starting principles are concern for self-interest, and compassion for others


Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1754], Pref)

A Reaction

This is strikingly like Hume's nascent utilitarianism. These two principles are the key to Rousseau's vision of the state of nature, from which the union around a general will leads to the formation of a state. Note that animals get included here.

Book Reference

Rousseau,Jean-Jacques: 'The Basic Political Writings', ed/tr. Cress,Donald A. [Hackett 1987], p.35

Related Idea

Idea 3926 The human heart has a natural concern for public good [Hume]