Discourse On the Origin of Inequality

The Possibility of Perpetual Discontent: Rousseau's "Inequality" 10th Grade

Can a man living in society be content? In the essay, Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, author Jean-Jacques Rousseau addresses this very question. Man first originated in the state of nature, where he was alone and only dependent on himself. Over time, natural man started to deviate from the system and evolve into a social man where he lives in a community surrounded by other men. Through exposure to others, natural man grew envious of others mans abilities and possessions. These qualities which seemed better than their own sent man on the pursuit of them, ultimately creating the desire for perfection. Man is also taught what it means to be moral and is then in turn obligated to be virtuous. Reason is introduced to men in societies and they are then required to obtain as much of it as possible. Rousseau states that, “… nothing would have been so miserable as savage man, dazzled by enlightenment tormented by passions, and reasoning about a state different from his own.”(Rousseau 34). Although the transition of man from his natural state into society is savage man in a state much different from the state of nature. The disconnect between desire and ability prevents man from being content. The social man’s yearning for...

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