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"Rousseau on Human Nature" Topic


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Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP21 Jan 2023 4:46 p.m. PST

'Rousseau did not think we could return to the state of nature, as he pictured it. Instead, the path forward was to reform how our society works in light of the dangers posed by amour propre. This is a two-step process.'

'First, the healthy love of self should be extended toward those around us, and eventually to the state that maintains our society, strengthening the bonds between citizens.'

'Second, the relationship between the citizen and the state must be reformed. Rousseau thought the key purpose of the government was to manage the conflict between the freedom of the individual and the authority of the state. He thought this tension could be mediated by a "general will": a representation of the collective interest of the members of the society.'

'The concept of the general will requires that the people as a whole be represented in the ruler they live under. If they are not, then citizens are not bound by "any obligation of obedience" to the sovereign's rulings. On Rousseau's view, political rulings are illegitimate if they do not consider the perspectives of all community members.'

'With the general will in place, individuals will then see their own desires represented as part of the community: in a society ordered by the general will, individuals flourish when the rest of society flourishes. When this is the case, amour propre is no longer destructive; one need not subjugate others for the sake of one's own well-being.'

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doc mcb22 Jan 2023 8:31 a.m. PST

There's quite a lot more to Rousseau, some of it contradictory. "Men must be forced to be free."

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP23 Jan 2023 10:04 a.m. PST

Yes, there is.

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