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In What Way, According to Rousseau, is Humanity Perverse - Essay Example

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In What Way, According to Rousseau, is Humanity Perverse

In these regards, Rousseau points to a number of pre-Enlightenment collectives, such as the Germanic tribes, that, he believes, were able to function in a more harmonious state as a result of their proximity to natural human instincts. German philosopher Immanuel Kant considered many of the same aspects of human nature and Enlightenment similar to Rousseau. There are varying degrees to which Kant’s celebration of the Enlightenment is inconsistent with Rousseau’s view of the perversity of humanity. Kant’s celebration of the Enlightenment is, perhaps, most inconsistent with Rousseau’s views on the perversity of humanity in terms of the beneficial social gain achieved in the move from the Medieval Ages to the Renaissance. It has been demonstrated that Rousseau rejects blanket assertions of this move as being an indictor or social progress as to an extent he believes that it perverts the natural state of humanity. This is contrasted with Kant’s perspective on Enlightenment as a clear and direct means of humanity absolving itself from its immaturity. Consider Kant’s writing, “Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self-imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one's understanding without guidance from another” (Kant, p. 45). To a large extent, the inconsistency between Kant and Rousseau’s perspective here can be linked to notions of intellectual modernism. While Kant has embraced the idea that intellectual and social progress operate on a linear path of enlightenment, Rousseau has resisted this concept, contending instead that it is oftentimes possible for ostensible social progress to be a perversion of humanity’s natural...
This essay has examined Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s conception of human perversity. It has further considered the extent that Rousseau’s perspective on human perversity is inconsistent with Kant’s celebration of the Enlightenment. In these contexts of understanding, it’s argued that the main inconsistency between the perspectives is in terms of micro and macro-scales of thought. On an individual scale, Rousseau rejects the Enlightenment as pure progress, while Kant embraces it as an escape for immaturity. Conversely, on a large-scale, both theorists recognize that in rejecting divine sovereignty, society can be entrusted with achieving self-governance through the social contract and categorical imperative. While Rousseau and Kant disagree on the blanket nature of social progress as achieved through the Enlightenment, to a degree it’s clear that Rousseau’s perspective on the social contract and Kant’s perspective on social mores are consistent. The divergence in understanding between Kant and Rousseau’s perspectives on human perversion and social progress are evident when considered from a larger scale. ...Show more


This essay considers Rousseau’s perspective on humanity and evaluates the extent that it is inconsistent with Kant’s celebration of the Enlightenment. For philosophers and historians, the most pronounced shift in these areas occurred in the transition between Medieval Age modes of understanding to Renaissance and Enlightenment thought…
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In What Way, According to Rousseau, is Humanity Perverse
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