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J.-J. Rousseau on Natural State - Dictionary of Arguments

Höffe I 271
Natural State/State of Nature/Rousseau/Höffe: For Hobbes, the founder, the state of nature is a thought experiment that sketches a coexistence of already reasonable people who, however, lack law and state.
RousseauVsHobbes: In Rousseau's view of the history of development(1) it becomes a primordial, "animal state".
Human/Speech/Rousseau: Humans who live in this state, the animal humans, have neither language nor reason or a consciousness of death. They know neither ambition nor contempt or a need for revenge; moreover, they live without any lasting relationship. In this "true state of nature", a primordial state which, historically, is even further back than Locke's state of nature, humans have two things in common with the other living beings.
Self-love: It is determined by a thoroughly positive self-love (amour de soi), which, in contrast to the antisocial self-love (amour-propre) of the civilized human being, amounts to an emotional self-sufficiency. Moreover, the human possesses a sense of existence
Höffe I 272
(sentiment de l'existence).
Freedom: Above all, the human is characterized by a natural freedom, an independence from his fellow men, which also includes an indifference towards them.
The natural state qua primordial state does not recognise privileges that some people enjoy to the detriment of others; there are neither privileges nor discrimination. The two basic evils that destroy this ideal state are private property and the state (which protects it), "civil society". In French it says "société civile", not "société bourgoise". Rousseau's bourgeois society here, as with other authors of modern times, is not an economic bourgeois society in contrast to a civic society, but the community with the power of coercion, the state, itself. >Social Contract/Rousseau.
Höffe I 274
RousseauVsHobbes/RousseauVsSpinoza: Unlike Hobbes and Spinoza, but in agreement with Locke, the natural state for Rousseau is not a state of war. The natural state loses its central meaning.


1. Rousseau, Discours sur l'inégalité parmi les hommes, 1755


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Rousseau I
J. J. Rousseau
Les Confessions, 1765-1770, publ. 1782-1789
German Edition:
The Confessions 1953

Höffe I
Otfried Höffe
Geschichte des politischen Denkens München 2016


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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2021-08-05
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