Rousseau Discourse On The Origin Of Inequality Analysis

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How does inequality form from a society created to treat men equally? In Rousseau’s Discourse on the Origin of Inequality Rousseau describes society as a gathering of people who leave the state of nature, to achieve their common goal through the rule of the higher power. The state of nature allows men to live equally with one another, where there is no authority leader. However, when men decided to form a society they gave up their rights of freedom and handed it over to a person of authority. With someone of higher authority, it means that there is a different level of power men have in a society. With the combination of people in a society, there is a mix of different types of people which can create inequality among the citizens. Inequality …show more content…
Because of how men present themselves and based on the quality of their work, “Each one began to look at the others and to want to be looked at himself, and public esteem had a value.” (49) The values society has been a result of how men look upon each other, and how they determine the value of each person. Moreover, the way men view each other, causes everyone within the society to have a certain value placed upon them. When men began to look upon others “these first preferences were born vanity and contempt on the one hand, and shame and envy on the other.” (49) Originally, men feel hatred because of how prosperous other men seem, but these feelings translate into feelings of jealousy and envy. The feeling of anger comes about as men perceive things they do not possess, which later results in feelings of envy because they want things for themselves. Selfishness is an aspect of envy, because envy is the desire for something a man does not obtain, which shows signs of desiring things for one-self rather than being content with what a man has. The desire for things for one’s self-benefit includes the overarching theme of …show more content…
Originally, “Man’s first sentiment was that of his own existence; his first concern was that of his preservation.” (44) Self-preservation includes aspects of selfishness, because men worry only about how prosperous they are instead of focusing on the fact that they live in a society where the chief concern is that of the society’s well-being. Unfortunately, by being selfish men cannot focus on the desires of the society, which creates inequality. Furthermore, inequality is a result of self-preservation because when men care only for their own well-being, they receive benefits for themselves rather than for the whole society. Furthermore, some men receive better benefits when they worry about themselves, which means that some men get a lesser supply of benefits. To explain other aspects of self-preservation, Rousseau says that “egocentrism looking out for its interests,” (53) means that men look out for themselves, because they are egotistical. Unfortunately, the meaning of egotistical includes aspects of selfishness and self-preservation, because when men worry about their ego, they deviate from the fact that they live in a society where there is a common goal for everyone. Furthermore, self-preservation still exists within a society, but ultimately the focus of a society is to accomplish what is best for the

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