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Single Idea 19755

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

Full Idea

Most of our ills are of our own making, and we could have avoided nearly all of them by preserving the simple, regular and solitary lifestyle prescribed to us by nature.

Gist of Idea

Most human ills are self-inflicted; the simple, solitary, regular natural life is good


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

A Reaction

It is important that he is not really disagreeing with Hobbes's pessimistic view of natural life as 'nasty'. Rousseau attributes that to a later stage, when people are ineptly beginning to emerge from the state of nature. I'm an optimist here.

Book Reference

Rousseau,Jean-Jacques: 'The Basic Political Writings', ed/tr. Cress,Donald A. [Hackett 1987], p.42