Archive for category Philosophy

What’s the Deal with Rousseau?

I thought I’d explain why my profile picture is that of eighteenth century Swiss philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Well, it’s mainly because I love philosophy, but mostly because Rousseau inspires me. His social and political ideas are still, in this day and age, pretty profound. His essay on state of nature makes a brilliant case for human compassion and picks apart Thomas Hobbes’ and John Locke’s arguments on the foundation of society. I admire him for challenging the status quo at the time, which was basically that man needed a governing authority to keep from killing each other. Rousseau’s response to that was that it was actually human compassion that kept us from killing each other, not a governing authority. I’m all for human compassion. We need a lot more of it.

Rousseau also had this idea that I have to agree with, about property. He stated, “The first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground, bethought himself of saying, This is mine, and found people simple enough to believe him, was the real founder of civil society.” This, he goes on to elaborate, is the true source of all man’s misery. I cannot argue with that. Almost every war I can think of has been fought over some kind of property, in part or in whole.

His essay on man’s inequality was harshly criticized by Voltaire who wrote him a letter accusing him of going against the human race. “Never was such cleverness used in the design of making us all stupid,” he wrote. Rousseau’s response to that was, “Monsieur, I hate you.” Why waste time arguing with someone who clearly didn’t get it, right? Anyway, I love Rousseau. So much so that I applied his ideas to The Walking Dead, compared that to Hobbes’ view, and wrote a philosophy paper on it. It got an A and you can read it here. So, that’s why I chose him for my profile pic.


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