Civilization's Degrading Effect On Man Analysis

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Civilization’s Degrading Effect on Man
In The First and Second Discourses, Jean-Jacques Rousseau presents his argument that man’s progress has removed him from his natural state, and that this removal has been to his detriment. He asserts that vanity, avarice, and other sins are not part of this natural state, but rather products of the progression of the arts and sciences. Rousseau describes natural man as better than civilized man because, “His desires do not exceed his physical needs, the only goods he knows in the universe are nourishment, a female, and repose; the only evils he fears are pain and hunger” (Rousseau 116). His choice of this frontispiece, then, is of a Hottentot rejecting European luxuries to live a simple life with his tribal
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An uncivilized man requires fewer tools and they accomplished more without the luxuries of societal life. An uncivilized man has no useless worries and his only concerns are of his physical needs. A simpler life is far better, as Rousseau believes, because of the elimination of any extra desires or worries. Thus, anything beyond the natural state degrades the wellbeing of a man and inequality is introduced. This is why he looks upon the tribal period with more approval than modern civilization – it remains closer to the natural …show more content…
This is why in the frontispiece the Hottentot returns nearly all the gifts he was given by the missionaries. Although the Hottentot is not in the natural state, he is eliminating the luxuries that were binding him to modern civilization. Even when he was raised from infancy, he was still too “wild” to be dependent on luxuries and distractions of civilized life.
Through his discourses, Rousseau has touched on our true nature and how it has been corrupted by advancement of civilization through the ages. Even if its impossible for man to return to the natural state, there are still many useless luxuries he can live without. Rousseau’s points still stand true to this day, societal life is filled with clutter that often distracts us from the natural world and what truly matters. In much the same way, people in Rousseau’s time became distracted with things the Hottentot realized he didn’t

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