Discourse On the Origin of Inequality

Self-Interest and Social Stratification: A Modern Reading of Rousseau on Labor College

Philosopher John Locke claims that all of mankind has a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of property, and while many accept this claim as fact and truth, there are those who contest whether this idea is right and proper in regards to the laws of nature. In A Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, Jean-Jacques Rousseau finds that property is the root of all imbalances amongst men. He also declares that, while labor for self preservation is just, when labor is divided among individuals, deemed either lesser or dominant, to provide for a whole community, man is taken advantage of, his endeavors become exploitative, and an imbalance of power becomes evident. In looking at this progression that Rousseau presents, it becomes clear that, according to these philosophies, all political systems stand against the laws of nature and promote the systems of inequality that the poor have so long been fighting against. Rousseau’s theories regarding the devolution from the state of nature, the rise of amour propre, and the creation of figures of authority, lay claim to the fact that the system of politics and labour present in today’s societies keep the rich in a dominant position over those less wealthy, and the unnatural system of...

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