Jean-Jacques Rousseau

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Jean-Jacques Rousseau (June 28, 1712 - July 2, 1778) was a Franco-Swiss philosopher, writer, political theorist, and self-taught composer of The Age of Enlightenment. Rousseau's political ideas influenced the French Revolution, the development of socialist theory, and the growth of nationalism.


Natural inequality involves differences between one man's strength or intelligence and that of another - it is a product of nature. Rousseau is not concerned with this type of inequality and wishes to investigate moral inequality. He argues this inequality is endemic to a civil society and relates and causes differences in power and wealth. This type of inequality is established by convention. Rousseau appears to take a cynical view of civil society, and refers to times before the current state of civil society, when man was closer to his natural state, as happier times for man. To Rousseau, civil society is a trick perpetrated by the powerful on the weak in order to maintain their power or wealth. But this is Rousseau's end product. He begins his discussion with an analysis of a natural man who has not yet acquired language or abstract thought.
Rousseau's natural man possesses a few qualities that allow him to distinguish himself from the animals over a long period of time. Of extreme importance is man's ability to choose, what Rousseau refers to as the "free-agency" that differentiates him from other animals. ...
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