A Discourse on Inequality was difficult to grasp given the longwinded and slightly confusing writing style of Rousseau. However, the book itself raises thought provoking questions and really makes the reader think about society in its present state and the various processes that must have occurred to achieve society as we see it now. Rousseau is constantly looking to the past to ask and answer and questions, and, in doing so, he reveals the complexity of human existence. along side his complex analysis of the past he also highlights the excesses of complexity within society at present. The juxtaposition of these ideas is interesting , but it does make it slightly difficult to understand what exactly Rousseau is looking for. his ideal state is somewhere in between the two extremes that he highlights, but it is not completely clear how this reality is achievable.
I also found Rousseau’s analysis of present society interesting because of what he thought were the dangerous and undesirable qualities. It seems Rousseau is really concerned with the issue of pride and vanity, and the possession of private property. Rousseau sees these things as having a corruptive quality in that they divide the human race and cause us to want to cause harm to one another. In a past time, Rousseau believes we would have no reason to do these things to each other. The issue of pride in particular is interesting to me because it’s been a big issue in a few of the books we’ve read. In Rousseau’s opinion many of the characters lives in the books we’ve read could have been spared or made better by the elimination of their pride and all its negative implications. Overall I think Rousseau is telling a story of balance. He’s saying that humans can’t live with all the primitive instincts of early humans, but they also should not exist within the corruption and excess of present society. A society bound within these two extremes is ideal because they will experience true freedom.