Rousseau The Origin Of Inequality Analysis

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The farther back in time social historical thought goes, the further from our concept of humanity our ancestors get. Established as the State of Nature, Rousseau claims that man or “noble savages” once lived in a Golden Age where natural society was described with “independence”, “amour de soimême” or self-love, and pity. Rousseau elevates noble savages to a humanity far above any modern man of his time. He does this because to him the State and its constructs has distance us from our pure forms, a theme consistent in his literature. In fact, to Rousseau, “[m]an is made weak by human society by the way that society is developed”. Humanity from tis onset is pure only to be corrupted by self-interest. When applying this to the State he lives…show more content…
A notion that society was linked, not physically but via cultural institutions, to a lesser primitive and “the other” is a significant paradigm shift that is revealed in Edward Gibbon’s reliance of Tacitus in the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776). Similarly, to Rousseau’s critique of the State, Gibbons finds fault an intuition herald by the people in which he critiques. Gibbons asserts that the “simple and obvious” cause of the moral decay of the Roman State rests on the shoulders of religion, specifically Christianity. Like Rousseau attributes to the State in The Origin of Inequality, Gibbons sees “the object of religion” as the degrader of civic purity. Upon asserting that the Roman Empire is not what true humanity is descended from, Gibbons turns to “the other” of the period he discusses for his ancestral link, the Germanic “barbarians”; “[t]he most civilized nations of modem Europe issued from the woods of Germany”. Gibbons writes that even “in the[ir] rude institutions…[the modern man] may still distinguish the original principles of our [current] present laws and manners”. These “others” were far lesser “without either cities, letters, arts, or money”, yet similarly as Rousseau asserts their poverty and their lack of property “secured their freedom”. In this secured…show more content…
Before Darwin, historians saw man’s ancestors as completely foreign to the modern man; Rousseau thought noble savages were god-like beings that the modern man could never become and even Gibbons only did so much to connect the institutions his German barbarians had with those of the present day. Contrary to the common dualist paradigm, Darwin directly relates the modern man to not only our ancestors but to “the other”. He establishes that man is a “refined ape” and uniquely tiered within its own right. He further makes this distinctive hierarchy within the species of man by “differ[ing] in degree, not in kind”; this degree, ultimately is the difference between the modern man and the primitive “lowest savage” and is determined by Natural Selection and Sexual Selection. Because of these mechanisms of progress, the primitive “lowest savage” while in the same “kind” as the modern man, differs in “moral disposition…and in intellect” that civilization has afforded the modern man through a type of domestication. Natural and Sexual Selection, to Darwin, has advanced all capacities of the modern man, while the lowest savage is trapped in the past destined to be integrated or die off from natural progress within the species of humankind. That being said, it is important to note that even before these

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