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Single Idea 19772

[catalogued under 25. Society / A. State of Nature / 3. Natural Equality]

Full Idea

There must be much less difference between one man and another in the state of nature than in that of society, and natural inequality must increase in the human species through inequality occasioned by social institutions.

Gist of Idea

In a state of nature people are much more equal; it is society which increases inequalities


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

A Reaction

This is the main idea of his essay - the answer to the question set by the essay prize. Slavery is common in fairly basic societies, but that is at a much more advanced stage than Rousseau is thinking of. It's hard to disagree with him.

Book Reference

Rousseau,Jean-Jacques: 'The Basic Political Writings', ed/tr. Cress,Donald A. [Hackett 1987], p.58

Related Idea

Idea 19786 Three stages of the state produce inequalities of wealth, power, and enslavement [Rousseau]