Ideas from 'Discourse on the Origin of Inequality' by Jean-Jacques Rousseau [1754], by Theme Structure

[found in 'The Basic Political Writings' by Rousseau,Jean-Jacques (ed/tr Cress,Donald A.) [Hackett 1987,0-87220-047-7]].

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2. Reason / A. Nature of Reason / 1. On Reason
Reason leads to prudent selfishness, but overruling natural compassion
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 1. Knowledge
No one would bother to reason, and try to know things, without a desire for enjoyment
15. Nature of Minds / C. Capacities of Minds / 5. Generalisation by mind
General ideas are purely intellectual; imagining them is immediately particular
Only words can introduce general ideas into the mind
18. Thought / D. Concepts / 5. Concepts and Language / a. Concepts and language
Language may aid thinking, but powerful thought was needed to produce language
21. Aesthetics / A. Aesthetic Experience / 4. Beauty
Without love, what use is beauty?
22. Metaethics / B. The Good / 1. Goodness / h. Good as benefit
If we should not mistreat humans, it is mainly because of sentience, not rationality
22. Metaethics / C. Ethics Foundations / 2. Source of Ethics / b. Rational ethics
Rational morality is OK for brainy people, but ordinary life can't rely on that
23. Ethics / B. Contract Ethics / 2. Golden Rule
The better Golden Rule is 'do good for yourself without harming others'
23. Ethics / C. Virtue Theory / 3. Virtues / f. Compassion
The fact that we weep (e.g. in theatres) shows that we are naturally compassionate
24. Applied Ethics / B. Moral Rights / 3. Animal Rights
Both men and animals are sentient, which should give the latter the right not to be mistreated
25. Society / A. State of Nature / 1. A People / a. Human distinctiveness
Humans are less distinguished from other animals by understanding, than by being free agents
25. Society / A. State of Nature / 1. A People / b. The natural life
Most human ills are self-inflicted; the simple, solitary, regular natural life is good
Is language a pre-requisite for society, or might it emerge afterwards?
I doubt whether a savage person ever complains of life, or considers suicide
Savages avoid evil because they are calm, and never think of it (not because they know goodness)
Primitive man was very gentle
Savage men quietly pursue desires, without the havoc of modern frenzied imagination
Leisure led to envy, inequality, vice and revenge, which we now see in savages
Our two starting principles are concern for self-interest, and compassion for others
25. Society / A. State of Nature / 2. Natural Values / a. Natural freedom
A savage can steal fruit or a home, but there is no means of achieving obedience
25. Society / A. State of Nature / 2. Natural Values / b. Natural equality
In a state of nature people are much more equal; it is society which increases inequalities
It is against nature for children to rule old men, fools to rule the wise, and the rich to hog resources
25. Society / B. The State / 2. State Legitimacy / a. Sovereignty
People accept the right to be commanded, because they themselves wish to command
25. Society / B. The State / 7. Changing the State / c. Revolution
Revolutionaries usually confuse liberty with total freedom, and end up with heavier chains
25. Society / B. The State / 8. Culture
We seem to have made individual progress since savagery, but actually the species has decayed
25. Society / C. Social Justice / 3. Social Freedom / a. Slavery
People must be made dependent before they can be enslaved
Enslaved peoples often boast of their condition, calling it a state of 'peace'
If the child of a slave woman is born a slave, then a man is not born a man
25. Society / C. Social Justice / 3. Social Freedom / e. Freedom of lifestyle
Like rich food, liberty can ruin people who are too weak to cope with it
25. Society / C. Social Justice / 4. Social Equality / a. Grounds of equality
Three stages of the state produce inequalities of wealth, power, and enslavement
25. Society / C. Social Justice / 4. Social Equality / d. Economic equality
The pleasure of wealth and power is largely seeing others deprived of them
25. Society / C. Social Justice / 5. Legal Rights / c. Property rights
Persuading other people that some land was 'owned' was the beginning of society
Land cultivation led to a general right of ownership, administered justly
What else could property arise from, but the labour people add to it?
If we have a natural right to property, what exactly does 'belonging to' mean?
25. Society / C. Social Justice / 6. Right to Punish / b. Retribution for crime
Primitive people simply redressed the evil caused by violence, without thought of punishing
25. Society / D. Political Doctrines / 5. Democracy / b. Consultation
Plebiscites are bad, because they exclude the leaders from crucial decisions
25. Society / D. Political Doctrines / 5. Democracy / c. Direct democracy
In a direct democracy, only the leaders should be able to propose new laws
25. Society / E. State Functions / 1. The Law / c. Natural law
Writers just propose natural law as the likely useful agreements among people
25. Society / E. State Functions / 5. War
A state of war remains after a conquest, if the losers don't accept the winners
26. Natural Theory / B. Natural Kinds / 2. Defining Kinds
Men started with too few particular names, but later had too few natural kind names
27. Natural Reality / F. Biology / 3. Evolution
Small uninterrupted causes can have big effects