Although I found Rousseau to be a bit confusing and not entirely a clear read (since I did have to re-read some lines more than once), it was a good read. However, I’m not going to say that I fully agreed of even understood all the points that he raised. To be quite honest here, Rousseau’s views somewhat mind boggled me from time to time. I found that upon reading certain parts of his argument, it was hard for me to fully and entirely comprehend what he was trying to convey/ persuade us to believe. Though with that being said, I do still think he raised some very valid and thought provoking points and questions.
As I previously stated above, Rousseau’s argument did indeed confuse me here and there, but in the very beginning, he proposes the question: “How can we know the source of inequality among men if we do not first have knowledge of men themselves?” By clearly outlining the question that he is trying to answer, I think that Rousseau’s thoughts were better laid out for me to understand. This simple question was particularly thought provoking for me and intrigued me greatly.
A Discourse on Inequality clearly demonstrates Rousseau’s belief that the growth of a society corrupts man entirely. He believes that as society continues to further develop and evolve, us as human beings only suffer from this change. That man’s natural happiness and freedom are severed by artificial inequality. Rousseau essentially conveys throughout his claim, that the introduction of private property, is what catalyzed the decline in society as a whole. Rousseau brings up quite a valid point in my opinion, when he asks, “How many crimes, wars, murders; how much misery horror the human race would have been spared if someone had pulled up the stakes and filled in the ditch and cried out to his fellow men: ‘Beware of listening to this imposter. You are lost if you forget that the fruits of the earth belong to everyone and that the earth itself belongs to no one!”
Imagine a place where everything was shared and selfishness, or amour propre did not exist. A place without pride, or immense self-indulgence. Rousseau clearly comprehends throughout a Discourse on Inequality, his belief that society has taken a turn for the worse. That nascent society was the peak of civilization before modernity and artificial matters took over the simplicity and innocence of the state of nature.
Thus, with that being said, I think that Rousseau raised some great questions. Do I think that they are entirely true? To a certain extent, yes. But in spite of my opinion regarding the way he views civilization and society, Rousseau’s persuasive way of conveying his thoughts made this read quite enjoyable; more enjoyable than I expected really.