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Single Idea 19780

[catalogued under 25. Society / B. The State / 8. Culture]

Full Idea

Evidence confirms that the savage state is the youth of the world, and all subsequent progress has been in appearance so many steps toward the perfection of the individual, and in fact toward the decay of the species.

Gist of Idea

We seem to have made individual progress since savagery, but actually the species has decayed

Source

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Discourse on the Origin of Inequality [1755], Part II)

A Reaction

This strikes me as an attack on the new rising philosophy of liberalism, and a plea for communitarianism. We should judge humanity as a whole, and not just look at some individual lives which seem to be going well.

Book Reference

Rousseau,Jean-Jacques: 'The Basic Political Writings', ed/tr. Cress,Donald A. [Hackett 1987], p.65