In Rousseau’s Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, Rousseau tells a story of savage man’s evolution into civil man. In doing so, he says a lot about both human nature and the role of government in society. In telling the story of man’s development, he aims to distinguish between what is “natural” and what is “artificial” in man’s nature, and says many meaningful things on this in Part One. In telling the story of the “three revolutions,” he says a lot about what interests government rises up to protect and serve, as well as the way that governmental (or “magisterial”) power can be corrupted.
We also looked at the U.S. Declaration of Independence (1776), and Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” (1863), both of which are foundational documents for the country where you live (or at least the country where you’re going to college).
In a short essay (minimum 2-3 full, double-spaced pages), please respond to the following prompt: How does the Discourse on the Origin of Inequality help us understand the roles of government, inequality, and/or human nature in present day American society?