Reading these two cornerstones of political thought side-by-side is a must for anyone wishing to understand the different ways classical political theory depicts human nature and society (yet again, another on-point book selection by the Arts One team). Rousseau, in his work, is skeptical of Hobbes’s proposals on the obscure nature of humans. On the other hand, somewhat similarly to what Jared Diamond does in Guns, Germs, and Steel, he argues that the inception of society itself is what brought inequality and ultimately Rousseau goes to the extent of describing the state as a form hegemony that the ruling class uses to dominate the poor and further inequality.
It was heartwarming to read that Rousseau’s vision of humanity isn’t driven by the impending fear of death, but instead by love–of the self and of others through compassion. In addition, while similarly animalistic, Rousseau’s man isn’t haunted by anxiety.
Yes, he is still a savage man, but yet still he is still capable of perfectibility; his compassion will lead him to bond with others, and not his thirst for power. Here we aren’t dealing with a machine void of empathy.
Finally, although reading this text doesn’t incite a desire for anarchy, it outlines everything that Rousseau thinks has been the cause of society’s unfair division and through best understanding these factors, engineering a better and more equitable society will be a more achievable task.