Hume and Marx Critiques of Equality Essay

Hume and Marx Critiques of Equality EssayThe Second Discourse: Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality Among Mankind Non in depravatis, sed in his quae bene secundum naturam se habent, considerandum est quid sit naturale.* aristotle, Politics, 1, 2. * ‘‘We should consider what is natural not in things which are depraved, but in those which are rightly ordered according to nature.’’ Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. Notice Regarding the Notes I have appended a few notes to this work, following my indolent custom of working by fits and starts. These notes sometimes digress too far from the subject to be read with the text. Therefore I have placed them at the end of the Discourse, in which I have tried my best to follow a straight path. Those who have the courage to continue may enjoy beating the bushes a second time and try to go through the notes. As to the others, it is no great matter if they do not read them at all. J.-J. Rousseau Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. Dedication to the Republic of Geneva most honorable, magnificent, and sovereign lords, Convinced that it belongs only to a virtuous citizen to present his country those acknowledgments it may become her to receive, I have been for thirty years past, endeavoring to render myself worthy to offer you some public homage. In the meantime, this fortunate occasion replacing in some degree the insufficiency of my efforts, I have presumed rather to follow the dictates of zeal, than to wait till I should be authorized by merit. Having had the good fortune to be born a subject of Geneva, how could I reflect on the natural equality of mankind, and that inequality which they have introduced, without admiring the profound wisdom by which both the one and the other are happily combined in this State, and contribute, in a manner the most conformable to the law of nature, and the most favorable to community, to the security of public order and the happiness of individuals? In my researches after the best and most sensible maxims, which might be laid down for the constitution of government, I was surprised to find them all united in yours; so that had I not been a fellow-citizen, I should have thought it indispensable in me to present such a picture of human society to that people, who of all others, seem to be possessed of its greatest advantages, and to have best guarded against its abuses. If I had had to choose the place of my birth, I should have preferred a community proportioned in its extent to the limits of the human faculties; that is to the possibility of being well governed: in which every person being capable of his employment, no one should be obliged to commit to others the trust he ought to discharge himself: a State in which its individuals might be so well known to each other, that neither the secret machinations of vice, nor the modesty of virtue should be able to escape the notice and judgment of the public; and in which the agreeable custom of seeing and knowing each other, should occasion the love of their country to be rather an affection for its inhabitants than for its soil. I should have chosen for my birthplace a country in which the interest of the sovereign could not be separated from that of the subject; to the end that all the motions of the machine of government might ever tend to the general happiness. And as this could not be the case, unless where the sovereignty is lodged in the people, it follows that I should have preferred a prudently tempered democracy. Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. Dedication 73 I should have been desirous to live and die free: that is, so far subject to the laws that neither I, nor any other body else, should have it in our power to cast off their honorable yoke: that agreeable and salutary yoke to which the haughtiest necks bend with the greater docility, as they are formed to bear no other. I should have desired, therefore, that no person within the State should be able to say he was above the laws; nor that any person without, should be able to dictate such as the State should be obliged to obey. For, whatever the constitution of a government, if there be a single member of it who is not subject to the laws, all the rest are necessarily at his discretion. And if there be a national chief within, and a foreign chief without, however they may divide their authority, it is impossible that both should be duly obeyed and the State well governed. I should not have chosen to live in a republic of recent institution, however excellent its laws, for fear the government being otherwise framed than circumstances might require, it might either disagree with the new subjects, or the subjects disagree with the new government; in which case the State might be shaken to pieces and destroyed almost as soon as founded. For it is with liberty as it is with solid and succulent foods, or with rich wines, proper to nourish and fortify robust constitutions accustomed to them, but pernicious, destructive and intoxicating to weak and delicate temperaments, to which they are not adapted. A people once accustomed to masters are not able to live without them. If they attempt at any time to shake off their yoke, they lose still more freedom; for, by mistaking licentiousness for liberty, to which it is diametrically opposed, they generally become greater slaves to some impostor, who loads them with fresh chains. The Romans themselves, an example for every succeeding free people, were incapable of governing themselves on their expulsion of the Tarquins. Debased by slavery, and the ignominious tasks imposed on them, they were at first no better than a stupid mob, which it was requisite to manage and govern with the greatest wisdom; so that, being accustomed by degrees to breathe the salutary air of liberty, their minds which had been enervated or rather brutalized under the burden of slavery, might gradually acquire that severity of manners and spirit of fortitude which rendered them at length the most respectable nation upon earth. I should have searched out for my country, therefore, some peaceful and happy republic, whose antiquity lost itself, as it were, in the obscurity of time: one that had experienced only such salutary shocks as served to display and confirm the courage and patriotism of its subjects; and whose Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. 74 The Second Discourse citizens, long accustomed to a prudent independence, were not only free, but worthy of their freedom. I should have made choice of a country, diverted, by a fortunate impotence, from the brutal love of conquest; and secured, by a still more fortunate situation, from becoming itself the conquest of other states: a free city situated between several nations, none of which should find it their interest to attack it, yet all think themselves interested in preventing its being attacked by others: a republic, in short, which should present nothing to tempt the ambition of its neighbors; but might reasonably depend on their assitance in case of need. It would follow that a republican State so happily situated as I have supposed, could have nothing to fear but from itself; and that, if its members accustomed themselves to the exercise of arms, it must be to keep alive that military ardor and courage, which is so suitable to free men, and tends to keep up their taste for liberty, rather than through the necessity of providing for their own defense. I should have sought a country, in which the legislative power should be vested in all its citizens: for who can better judge than themselves of the propriety of the terms, on which they mutually agree to live together in the same community? Not that I should have approved of plebiscites, like those among the Romans, in which the leaders of the State, and those most interested in its preservation, were excluded from those deliberations on which its security frequently depended; and in which, by the most absurd inconsistency, the magistrates were deprived of privileges enjoyed by the lowest citizens. On the contrary, I should have desired that, in order to prevent selfinterested and ill-designed projects, with any of those dangerous innovations which at length ruined the Athenians, no person should be at liberty to propose new laws at pleasure: but that this should be the exclusive privilege of the magistrates; and that even these should use it with so much caution, that the people on their part should be so reserved in giving their consent to such laws; and that the promulgation of theirs should be attended with so much solemnity, that before the constitution could be affected by them, there might be time enough given for all to be convinced, that it is the great antiquity of the laws which principally contributes to render them sacred and venerable, that the people soon learn to despise those which they see daily altered, and that States, by accustoming themselves to neglect their ancient customs under pretense of improvement, frequently introduce greater evils than those they endeavor to remove. I should have particularly avoided a republic, as one that must of course be ill-governed, in which the people, imagining themselves capable of Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. Dedication 75 subsisting without magistrates, or at least without investing them with anything more than a precarious authority, should imprudently reserve to themselves the administration of civil affairs and the execution of their own laws. Such must have been the rude constitution of the primitive governments, directly emerging from the state of nature; and this was another of the vices that contributed to the dissolution of the republic of Athens. But I should have chosen a republic, the individuals of which, contented with the privileges of giving sanction to their laws, and of deciding in a body, according to the recommendations of the leaders, the most important public affairs, should have established respectable tribunals; carefully distinguished their several departments; and electing annually some of their fellow-citizens, of the greatest capacity and integrity, to administer justice and govern the State; a community, in short, in which the virtue of the magistrates thus bearing testimony to the wisdom of the people, they would mutually honor each other. So that if ever any fatal misunderstandings should arise to disturb the public peace, even these intervals of confusion and error should bear the marks of moderation, reciprocal esteem, and of a mutual respect for the laws; certain signs and pledges of a reconciliation as lasting as sincere. Such are the advantages, most honorable, magnificent and sovereign Lords, which I should have sought in the country I had chosen. And if providence had added to all these, a delightful situation, a temperate clime, a fertile soil, and the most charming views that present themselves under heaven, I should desire only, to complete my felicity, the peaceful enjoyment of all these blessings, in the bosom of this happy country; living in agreeable society with my fellow-citizens, and exercising towards them from their own example, the duties of friendship, humanity, and every other virtue, that I might leave behind me the honorable memory of a worthy man, and an incorruptible and virtuous patriot. But, if less fortunate or too late grown wise, I saw myself reduced to end an infirm and languishing life in other climates, vainly regretting that peaceful repose which I forfeited in the imprudence of my youth, I would at least have entertained the same sentiments within myself, though denied the opportunity of avowing and indulging them in my native country. Affected with a tender and disinterested love for my distant fellow-citizens, I should have addressed them from my heart, in about the following terms. ‘‘My dear countrymen, or rather my brethren, since the ties of blood unite most of us, as well as the laws, it gives me pleasure that I cannot think of you, without thinking, at the same time, of all the blessings you enjoy, the value of which none of you, perhaps, are so aware as I to whom they are Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. 76 The Second Discourse lost. The more I reflect on your situation, both civil and political, the less can I conceive that the present state of human nature will admit of a better. In all other governments, even when it is a question of securing the greatest welfare of the State, they are always confined to ideal projects, or at least to bare possibilities. But as for you, your happiness is complete. You have nothing to do but enjoy it; you require nothing more to be made perfectly happy, than to know how to be satisfied with being so. Your sovereignty, acquired or recovered by the sword, and maintained for two centuries past by your valor and wisdom, is at length fully and universally acknowledged. Your boundaries are fixed, your rights confirmed and your repose secured by honorable treaties. Your constitution is excellent, dictated by the profoundest wisdom, and guaranteed by friendly and respectable powers. Your State enjoys perfect tranquillity; you have nothing to fear either from wars or conquerors: you have no other master than the wise laws you have yourselves made; and which are administered by upright magistrates of your own choosing. You are neither so wealthy as to be enervated by softness, and so to lose, in the pursuit of frivolous pleasures, a taste for real happiness and solid virtue; nor yet are you so poor as to require more assistance from strangers than your own industry is sufficient to procure you. In the meantime that precious liberty, which is maintained in great States only by exorbitant taxation, costs you hardly anything for its preservation. ‘‘May a republic, so wisely and happily constituted, last forever, as well for an example to other nations, as for the felicity of its own subjects! This is the only wish you have left to make; the only subject of your solicitude. It depends, for the future, on yourselves alone, not to make you happy, your ancestors have saved you that trouble, but to render that happiness lasting, by your prudence in its enjoyment. It is on your constant unanimity, your obedience to the laws, and your respect for the magistrates, that your preservation depends. If there remain among you the smallest seeds of enmity or distrust, hasten to root them up, as an accursed leaven from which sooner or later will result your misfortunes and the destruction of the State. I conjure you all to examine the bottom of your hearts, and to hearken to the secret voice of your own consciences. Is there any among you who can find, throughout the universe, a more upright, more enlightened and more respectable body than that of your own magistracy? Do not all its members set you an example of moderation, of simplicity of manners, of respect for the laws, and of the most sincere reconciliation? Place, therefore, without reservations that salutary confidence in such wise leaders, which reason ever owes to virtue. Consider they are the objects of your own choice; that Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. Dedication 77 they justify that choice; and that the honors, due to those whom you have exalted to dignity, are necessarily reflected back on yourselves. Is there any among you so ignorant, as not to know that, when the laws lose their force, and the magistrates their authority, neither the persons nor properties of individuals are any longer secure? Why, therefore, should you hesitate to do that cheerfully and confidently, which your true interest, your duty and even common prudence will ever require? ‘‘Let not a culpable and fatal indifference to the support of the constitution, ever induce you to neglect, in case of need, the prudent advice of the most enlightened and zealous of your fellow-citizens: but let equity, moderation and firmness of resolution continue to regulate all your proceedings; exhibiting you to the whole universe as an example of a valiant and modest people, equally jealous of their honor and their liberty. Beware particularly, this is the last advice I shall give you, of sinister interpretations and calumniating reports, the secret motives of which are often more dangerous than the actions at which they are leveled. The whole house will be awake and take the first alarm, given by a trusty and watchful mastiff, who barks only at the approach of thieves; but we ever abominate the impertinent yelping of those noisy curs, who are perpetually disturbing the public repose, and whose continual and ill-timed warnings prevent our attending to them when they may be needed.’’ And you, most honorable and magnificent Lords, you, the worthy and respectable magistrates of a free people, permit me to offer you in particular my duty and homage. If there be in the world a station capable of conferring honor on the persons who fill it, it is undoubtedly that which virtue and talents combine to bestow; that of which you have rendered yourselves worthy, and to which you have been promoted by your fellow-citizens. Their worth adds a new luster to yours; since men who are capable of governing others have chosen you to govern them, I cannot help esteeming you as superior to all other magistrates, as a free people, and particularly that over which you have the honor to preside, is by its wisdom and knowledge superior to the populace of other States. May I be permitted to cite an example of which ought to have survived a better remnant; an example which will be ever near and dear to my heart. I cannot recall to mind, without the most agreeable emotions, the person and manners of that virtuous citizen, to whom I owe my being, and by whom I was instructed, in my infancy, in the respect which is due to you. I see him still, subsisting on his manual labor, and improving his mind by the study of the sublimest truths. I see, lying before him, the works of Tacitus, Plutarch, and Grotius, intermixed with the tools of his trade. At his Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. 78 The Second Discourse side stands his darling son, receiving, alas with too little profit, the tender instructions of the best of fathers. But, though the follies of a wild youth caused me a while to forget his prudent lessons, I have at length the happiness to experience that, whatever propensity one may have to vice, it is not easy for an education, thus affectionately bestowed, to be ever entirely thrown away. Such, my most honorable and magnificent lords, are the citizens, and even the common inhabitants of the country under your government; such are those intelligent and sensible men, of which, under the name of mechanics and tradespeople, it is usual, in other nations to entertain a false and contemptible idea. My father, I own it with pleasure, was not a distinguished man among his fellow citizens. He was only such as they are all: and yet, such as he was, there is no country in which his acquaintance would not have been coveted, and cultivated even with advantage by men of the first distinction. It would not become me, nor is it, thank heaven, at all necessary for me to remind you of the regard which such men have a right to expect of their magistrates, to whom they are equal both by birth and education, and inferior only by that preference which they voluntarily pay to your merit, and in so doing lay claim on their part to some sort of gratitude. It is with a lively satisfaction I learn with how much gentleness and condescendence you temper that gravity which becomes the ministers of the law; and that you so well repay them, by your esteem and attentions, that respect and obedience which they justly pay to you. This conduct is not only just but prudent, as it wisely tends to obliterate many unhappy events, which ought to be buried in eternal oblivion;* it is also by so much the more prudential, as this generous and equitable people find a pleasure in their duty; as they are naturally inclined to doing you honor, as those who are the most zealous to maintain their own rights and privileges are at the same time the best disposed to respect yours. It ought not to be thought surprising that the leaders of a civil society should have its welfare and glory at heart: but it is uncommonly fortunate for them, when those persons who look upon themselves as the magistrates, or rather the masters of a more holy and sublime country, demonstrate their affection for the earthly spot which maintains them. I am happy in having it * Rousseau is referring to uprisings by a large part of the population which was oppressed by the ruling oligarchy. The description of the government of Geneva is largely false, and an example of Rousseau’s frequent tactics of duplicity. He is trying to win the favor of the Genevan authorities.—translator Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. Dedication 79 in my power to make so singular an exception in favor of my own country; and to rank, in the number of its best citizens, those zealous depositaries of the sacred articles of our established faith; those venerable pastors whose powerful and captivating eloquence is so much the better calculated to enforce the maxims of the gospel, as they are themselves the first to put them in practice. The whole world is informed of the great success with which the oratory of the pulpit is cultivated at Geneva; but, being too much used to hear divines preach one thing, and see them practice another, few people have an opportunity to know how far the true spirit of Christianity, holiness of manners, severity with regard to themselves and indulgence to their neighbors, prevail throughout the whole body of our ministers. It is, perhaps, in the power of the city of Geneva alone to produce an edifying example of so perfect a union subsisting between its clergy and men of letters. And it is in great degree, on their wisdom, their known moderation, and on their zeal for the prosperity of the State that I build my hopes of its constant and perpetual tranquillity. At the same time, I remark, with a pleasure mixed with surprise and veneration, how much they detest the horrid maxims of those holy and barbarous men, of whom history furnishes us with more than one example; who, in order to support the pretended prerogative of the deity, that is to say their own interest, have been so much the less sparing of human blood, as they were more assured that their own should be always respected. I must not here forget that precious half of the republic, which makes the happiness of the other; and whose tenderness and prudence preserve its tranquillity and virtue. Amiable and virtuous daughters of Geneva, it will be always the lot of your sex to govern ours. Happy, so long as your chaste influence, solely exercised within the limits of conjugal union, is exerted only for the glory of the State and the happiness of the public. It is thus the female sex commanded at Sparta; and thus that you deserve to command at Geneva. What man can be such a barbarian as to resist the voice of honor and reason, breathing from the lips of an affectionate wife? Who would not despise the tawdry charms of luxury, on beholding the simplicity and modesty of an attire, which, from the luster it derives from you, seems to be the most favorable to beauty? It is your task to perpetuate, by the insinuating spirit of your manners, by your innocent and amiable influence, a respect for the laws of the State, and harmony among individuals. It is yours to reunite divided families by happy marriages; and, above all things, to correct, by the persuasive mildness of your lessons and the modest graces of Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. 80 The Second Discourse your discourse, those extravagances which our young people pick up in other countries; from whence, instead of many useful things that come within the reach of their observation and practice, they bring home hardly anything but a puerile air and ridiculous manner, acquired among loose women, and the admiration of I know not what pretended grandeur, a paltry indemnification for slavery and unworthy of the real greatness of true liberty. Continue, therefore, always to be what you are, the chaste guardians of our manners, and the gentle links of our peace; exerting on every occasion the privileges of the heart and of nature to the advantage of moral obligation and the interests of virtue. I flatter myself no sinister event will ever prove me to have been mistaken, in building on such a foundation my hopes of the felicity of my fellow-citizens and the glory of the republic. It must be confessed, however, that with all these advantages, it will not shine with that exterior luster, by which the eyes of the generality of mankind are affected, a puerile and fatal taste for which is the most mortal enemy to the happiness and liberty of a State. Let dissolute youth seek elsewhere those transient pleasures which are followed by long repentance. Let pretenders to taste elsewhere admire the grandeur of palaces, the beauty of equipages, the sumptuousness of furniture, the pomp of public entertainments, with all the refinements of luxury and effeminacy. Geneva boasts nothing but men; such a sight has nevertheless its value, and those who have a taste for it are at least as good as the admirers of the other things. Deign, most honorable, magnificent and sovereign lords, all and each, to receive, and with equal goodness, this respectful testimony of the interest I take in your common prosperity. And, if I have been so unhappy as to be guilty of any indiscreet transport, in this glowing effusion of my heart, I beseech you to pardon, and impute it to the tender affection of a real patriot, and to the ardent and lawful zeal of a man, who places his own greatest felicity in the prospect of seeing you happy. I am, with the most profound respect, most honorable, magnificent and sovereign lords, Your most humble, Chambéry, and most obedient servant June 12, 1754 and fellow-citizen. Jean-Jacques Rousseau Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. Preface The most useful and least perfected of all human studies is, in my opinion, that of man, and I dare say that the inscription on the Temple of Delphi did alone contain a more important and difficult precept than all the huge volumes of the moralists.* I therefore consider the subject of this discourse as one of the most interesting questions philosophy can propose, and, unhappily for us, one of the most knotty philosophers can labor to solve: For how is it possible to know the source of the inequality among men, without knowing men themselves? And how shall man be able to see himself, such as nature formed him, in spite of all the alterations which a long succession of years and events must have produced in his original constitution, and how shall he be able to distinguish what is of his own essence, from what the circumstances he has been in and the progress he has made have added to, or changed in, his primitive condition? The human soul, like the statue of Glaucus which time, the sea and storms had so much disfigured that it resembled a wild beast more than a god, the human soul, I say, altered in society by the perpetual succession of a thousand causes, by the acquisition of numberless discoveries and errors, by the changes that have happened in the constitution of the body, by the perpetual jarring of the passions, has in a manner so changed in appearance as to be scarcely distinguishable; and by now we perceive in it, instead of a being always acting from certain and invariable principles, instead of that heavenly and majestic simplicity which its author had impressed upon it, nothing but the shocking contrast of passion that thinks it reasons, and an understanding grown delirious. But what is still more cruel, as every advance made by the human species serves only to remove it still further from its primitive condition, the more we accumulate new knowledge, the more we deprive ourselves of the means of acquiring the most important of all; and it is, in a manner, by the mere dint of studying man that we have lost the power of knowing him. It is easy to perceive that it is in these successive alterations of the * The inscription read, ‘‘Know thyself,’’ and ‘‘Nothing in excess.’’ Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. 82 The Second Discourse human constitution that we must look for the first origin of those differences that distinguish men, who, it is universally allowed, are naturally as equal among themselves as were the animals of every species before various physical causes had introduced those varieties we now observe among some of them. In fact, it is not possible to conceive how these first changes, whatever causes may have produced them, could have altered, all at once and in the same manner, all the individuals of the species. It seems obvious that while some improved or impaired their condition, or acquired divers good or bad qualities not inherent in their nature, the rest continued a longer time in their primitive state; and such was among men the first source of inequality, which it is much easier thus to point out in general, than to trace back with precision to its true causes. Let not then my readers imagine that I dare flatter myself with having seen what I think is so difficult to discover. I have opened some arguments; I have risked some conjectures; but not so much from any hopes of being able to solve the question, as with a view of throwing upon it some light, and giving a true statement of it. Others may with great facility penetrate further on the same road, but none will find it an easy matter to get to the end of it. For it is no such easy task to distinguish between what is natural and what is artificial in the present constitution of man, and to make oneself well acquainted with a state which, if ever it did, does not now, and in all probability never will exist, and of which, notwithstanding, it is absolutely necessary to have just notions to judge properly of our present state. A man must be even more a philosopher than most people think, to take upon himself to determine exactly what precautions are requisite to make solid observations upon this subject; and, in my opinion, a good solution of the following problem would not be unworthy of the Aristotles and Plinys of our age: What experiments are requisite to know man as constituted by nature, and which are the best methods of making these experiments in the midst of society? For my own part, I am so far from pretending to solve this problem, that I think I have sufficiently reflected on the subject of it to dare answer beforehand, that the wisest philosophers would not be too wise to direct such experiments, nor the most powerful sovereigns too powerful to make them; a concurrence of circumstances which there is hardly any reason to expect, and especially with that perseverance, or rather that succession of knowledge, penetration, and good will requisite on both sides to insure success. These investigations, so difficult to make and which hitherto have been so little thought of, are however the only means left us to remove a thousand difficulties which prevent our seeing the true foundations of human society. Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. Preface 83 It is this ignorance of the nature of man that casts so much uncertainty and obscurity on the genuine definition of natural right: for the idea of right, as Monsieur Burlamaqui* says, and still more that of natural right, are ideas evidently relative to the nature of man. It is therefore from this very nature of man, he continues, from his constitution and his state, that we are to deduce the principles of this science. It is impossible to observe, without both surprise and scandal, the little agreement there is to be found on this important subject between the different authors that have treated it. Among the gravest writers, you will scarce find two of the same opinion. Not to speak of the ancient philosophers, who, one would imagine, had set out to contradict each other in regard to the most fundamental principles, the Roman jurisconsults make man and all other animals, without distinction, subject to the same natural law, because they consider under this name, rather that law which nature imposes upon herself than that which she prescribes; or, more probably, on account of the particular acceptation of the word, law, among these jurisconsults, who, on this occasion, seem to have understood nothing more by it than the general relations established by nature between all animated beings for the sake of their common preservation. The moderns, by not admitting anything under the word law but a rule prescribed to a moral being, that is to say, a being intelligent, free, and considered with a view to his relations to other beings, must of course confine to the only animal endowed with reason, that is, to man, the competency of the natural law; but then, by defining this law, every one of them his own way, they establish it on such metaphysical principles, that so far from being able to find out these principles by themselves, there are very few persons among us capable of so much as understanding them. Thus, therefore, all the definitions of these learned men, definitions in everything else so constantly at variance, agree only in this, that it is impossible to understand the law of nature, and consequently to obey it, without being a very subtle reasoner and a very profound metaphysician. This is no more nor less than saying that men must have employed for the establishment of society a fund of knowledge, which it is a very difficult matter, nay absolutely impossible, for most persons to develop, even in a state of society. As men, therefore, are so little acquainted with nature, and agree so ill about the meaning of the word law, it would be very difficult for them to agree on a good definition of natural law. Accordingly, all those we meet with in books, besides lacking uniformity, err by being derived from several * Author of Principes du droit naturel (Geneva, 1747). Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. 84 The Second Discourse kinds of knowledge which men do not naturally enjoy, and from advantages they can have no notion of, as long as they remain in a state of nature. The writers of these books set out by examining what rules it would be proper for men to agree to among themselves for their common interest; and then they proceed to give the name of natural law to a collection of these rules, without any other proof than the advantage they find would result from a universal compliance with it. This is, no doubt, a very easy method of striking out definitions, and of explaining the nature of things by an almost arbitrary fitness. But as long as we remain unacquainted with the constitution of natural man, it will be in vain for us to attempt to determine what law he received, or what law suits him best. All we can plainly distinguish in regard to that law is that for it to be law, not only the will of him whom it obliges must be able to submit to it knowingly, but also that, for it to be natural, it must speak immediately by the voice of nature. Laying aside therefore all the scientific treatises, which teach us merely to consider men such as they have made themselves, and confining myself to the first and most simple operations of the human soul, I think I can distinguish in it two principles prior to reason; one of them interests us deeply in our own preservation and welfare, the other inspires us with a natural aversion to seeing any other being, but especially any being like ourselves, suffer or perish. It is from the concurrence and the combination our mind is capable of forming between these two principles, without there being the least necessity for adding to them that of sociability, that, in my opinion, flow all the rules of natural right; rules, which reason is afterwards obliged to reestablish upon other foundations, when by its successive developments, it has at last stifled nature itself. By proceeding in this manner, we shall not be obliged to make man a philosopher before he is a man. His obligations are not dictated to him merely by the slow voice of wisdom; and as long as he does not resist the internal impulses of compassion, he never will do any harm to another man, nor even to any sentient being, except in those lawful cases where his own preservation happens to come in question, and it is of course his duty to give himself the preference. By this means too we may put an end to the ancient disputes concerning the participation of other animals in the law of nature; for it is plain that, as they want both reason and free will, they cannot be acquainted with that law; however, as they partake in some measure of our nature in virtue of that sensibility with which they are endowed, we may well imagine they ought likewise to partake of the benefit of the natural law, and that man owes them a certain kind of Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. Preface 85 duty.* In fact, it seems that, if I am obliged not to injure any being like myself, it is not so much because he is a reasonable being, as because he is a sensible being; and this quality, by being common to men and beasts, ought to exempt the latter from any unnecessary injuries the former might be able to do them. This same study of original man, of his real needs, and of the fundamental principles of his duties, is likewise the only good method we can take, to surmount an infinite number of difficulties concerning the origin of moral inequality, the true foundations of political bodies, the reciprocal rights of their members, and a thousand other similar questions that are as important as they are ill-understood. If we consider human society with a calm and disinterested eye, it seems at first sight to show us nothing but the violence of the powerful and the oppression of the weak; the mind is shocked at the cruelty of the one, and equally grieved at the blindness of the other; and as nothing is less stable in human life than those exterior relations, which chance produces oftener than wisdom, and which are called weakness or power, poverty or riches, human establishments appear at the first glance like so many castles built upon quicksand; it is only by taking a nearer survey of them, and by removing the dust and the sand which surround and disguise the edifice, that we can perceive the unshakable basis upon which it stands, and learn to respect its foundations. Now, without a serious study of man, his natural faculties and their successive developments, we shall never succeed in making these distinctions, and in separating, in the present constitution of things, what comes from the divine will from what human contrivance has aspired to do. The political and moral reflections, to which the important question I examine gives rise, are therefore useful in many ways; and the hypothetical history of governments is, in regard to man, an instructive lesson in every respect. By considering what we should have become, had we been left to ourselves, we ought to learn to bless him, whose gracious hand, correcting our institutions, and giving them an unshakable foundation, has thereby prevented the disorders which they otherwise must have produced, and made our happiness flow from means, which seemed bound to complete our misery. Quem te Deus esse Jussit, et humana qua parte locatus es in re, Disce.† * Descartes had maintained that animals are merely machines, without conscious feeling. † ‘‘Learn whom God has ordered you to be and in what part in human affairs you have been placed.’’ (Persius, Satires, III, 71). Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. QUESTION Posed by the Academy of Dijon What is the origin of inequality among mankind and does natural law decree inequality? Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. Discourse on the Origin and the Foundations of Inequality Among Mankind It is of man I am to speak; and the question into which I am inquiring informs me that it is to men that I am going to speak; for to those alone, who are not afraid of honoring truth, it belongs to propose discussions of this kind. I shall therefore defend with confidence the cause of mankind before the sages, who invite me to stand up in its defense; and I shall think myself happy, if I can but behave in a manner not unworthy of my subject and of my judges. I conceive two species of inequality among men; one which I call natural, or physical inequality, because it is established by nature, and consists in the difference of age, health, bodily strength, and the qualities of the mind, or of the soul; the other which may be termed moral, or political inequality, because it depends on a kind of convention, and is established, or at least authorized by the common consent of mankind. This species of inequality consists in the different privileges, which some men enjoy, to the prejudice of others, such as that of being richer, more honored, more powerful, and even that of exacting obedience from them. It were absurd to ask, what is the cause of natural inequality, seeing the bare definition of natural inequality answers the question: it would be more absurd still to inquire, if there might not be some essential connection between the two species of inequality, as it would be asking, in other words, if those who command are necessarily better men than those who obey; and if strength of body or of mind, wisdom or virtue are always to be found in individuals, in the same proportion with power, or riches: a question, fit perhaps to be discussed by slaves in the hearing of their masters, but unbecoming free and reasonable beings in quest of truth. What therefore is precisely the subject of this discourse? It is to point out, in the progress of things, that moment, when, Right taking place of violence, nature became subject to law; to unfold that chain of amazing events, in consequence of which the strong submitted to serve the weak, and the people to purchase imaginary ease, at the expense of real happiness. The philosophers, who have examined the foundations of society, have Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. 88 The Second Discourse all perceived the necessity of tracing it back to a state of nature, but not one of them has ever got there. Some of them have not scrupled to attribute to men in that state the ideas of justice and injustice, without troubling themselves to prove that he really must have had such ideas, or even that such ideas were useful to him: others have spoken of the natural right of every man to keep what belongs to him, without letting us know what they meant by the word belong; others, without further ceremony ascribing to the strongest an authority over the weakest, have immediately brought government into being, without thinking of the time requisite for men to form any notion of the things signified by the words authority and government. All of them, in fine, constantly harping on wants, avidity, oppression, desires, and pride, have transferred to the state of nature ideas picked up in the bosom of society. In speaking of savages they described citizens. Nay, few of our own writers seem to have so much as doubted, that a state of nature did once actually exist; though it plainly appears by sacred history, that even the first man, immediately furnished as he was by God himself with both instructions and precepts, never lived in that state, and that, if we give to the Books of Moses that credit which every Christian philosopher ought to give to them, we must deny that, even before the Deluge, such a state ever existed among men, unless they fell into it by some extraordinary event: a paradox very difficult to maintain, and altogether impossible to prove. Let us begin, therefore, by laying aside facts, for they do not affect the question. The researches, in which we may engage on this occasion, are not to be taken for historical truths, but merely as hypothetical and conditional reasonings, fitter to illustrate the nature of things, than to show their true origin, like those systems, which our naturalists daily make of the formation of the world. Religion commands us to believe that men, having been drawn by God himself out of a state of nature, are unequal, because it is His pleasure they should be so; but religion does not forbid us to draw conjectures solely from the nature of man, considered in itself, and from that of the beings which surround him, concerning the fate of mankind, had they been left to themselves. This is then the question I am to answer, the question I propose to examine in the present discourse. As mankind in general has an interest in my subject, I shall endeavor to use a language suitable to all nations; or rather, forgetting the circumstances of time and place in order to think of nothing but the men I speak to, I shall suppose myself in the Lyceum of Athens, repeating the lessons of my masters before the Platos and the Xenocrates of that famous seat of philosophy as my judges, and in presence of the whole human species as my audience. O man, of whatever country you are, whatever your opinions may be, Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. First Part 89 attend to my words; here is your history such as I think I have read it, not in books composed by your fellowmen, for they are liars, but in the book of nature which never lies. All that comes from her will be true, nor will there be anything false, but where I may happen, without intending it, to introduce something of my own. The times I am going to speak of are very remote. How much are you changed from what you once were! It is in a manner the life of your species that I am going to write, from the qualities which you have received, and which your education and your habits have succeeded in depraving, but could not destroy. There is, I feel, an age at which every individual would choose to stop; and you will look for the age at which, had you your wish, your species had stopped. Discontented with your present condition for reasons which threaten your unhappy posterity with still greater vexations, you will perhaps wish it were in your power to go back; and this sentiment ought to be considered a panegyric of your first ancestors, a criticism of your contemporaries, and a source of terror to those who may have the misfortune of coming after you. First Part However important it may be, in order to form a proper judgment of the natural state of man, to consider him from his origin, and to examine him, as it were, in the first embryo of the species, I shall not attempt to trace his organization through its successive developments: I shall not stop to examine in the animal system what he may have been in the beginning, in order to have become at last what he actually is. I shall not inquire, whether, as Aristotle thinks, his extended nails were no better at first than crooked talons; whether his whole body was not, bear-like, thickly covered with hair; and whether, walking upon all fours, his looks directed to the earth, and confined to a horizon of a few paces extent, did not at once point out the nature and limits of his ideas. I could only form vague, and almost imaginary, conjectures on this subject. Comparative anatomy has not as yet made sufficient progress; and the observations of natural philosophy are too uncertain, to establish upon such foundations the basis of any solid reasoning. For this reason, without having recourse to the supernatural information with which we have been favored on this head, or paying any attention to the changes, that must have happened in the internal, as well as external conformation of man, in proportion as he applied his limbs to new purposes, and took to new foods, I shall suppose his conformation to have always been, what we now behold it; that he always walked on two feet, made the Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. 90 The Second Discourse same use of his hands that we do of ours, extended his looks over the whole face of nature, and measured with his eyes the vast extent of the heavens.* If I strip this being, thus constituted, of all the supernatural gifts which he may have received, and of all the artificial faculties, which he could not have acquired but by slow degrees; if I consider him, in a word, such as he must have issued from the hands of nature; I see an animal less strong than some, and less agile than others, but, upon the whole, the most advantageously organized of any: I see him satisfying his hunger under an oak, and his thirst at the first brook; I see him laying himself down to sleep at the foot of the same tree that afforded him his meal; and there are all his wants completely supplied. The earth, left to its own natural fertility, and covered with immense woods that no hatchet ever disfigured, offers at every step food and shelter to every species of animals. Men, dispersed among them, observe and imitate their industry, and thus rise as high as the instinct of beasts; with this advantage, that, whereas every species of beasts is confined to one peculiar instinct, man, who perhaps has not any that particularly belongs to him, appropriates to himself those of all other animals, and lives equally upon most of the different foods, which they only divide among themselves; a circumstance which qualifies him to find his subsistence more easily than any of them. Accustomed from their infancy to the inclemency of the weather, and to the rigor of the different seasons; inured to fatigue, and obliged to defend, naked and without arms, their life and their prey against the other wild inhabitants of the forest, or at least to avoid their fury by flight, men acquire a robust and almost unalterable constitution. The children, bringing with them into the world the excellent constitution of their parents, and strengthening it by the same exercises that first produced it, attain by this means all the vigor that the human frame is capable of. Nature treats them exactly in the same manner that Sparta treated the children of her citizens; those who come well formed into the world she renders strong and robust, and destroys all the rest; differing in this respect from our societies, in which the State, by permitting children to become burdensome to their parents, murders them without distinction in the wombs of their mothers. The body being the only instrument that savage man is acquainted with, he employs it to different uses, of which ours, for want of practice, are incapable; and we may thank our industry for the loss of that strength and * Rousseau was well acquainted with the theory of evolution that had been sketched by his friend, Diderot, in his Pensées sur l’interprétation de la nature (1753). Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. First Part 91 agility, which necessity obliges him to acquire. Had he a hatchet, would his hand so easily snap off from an oak so stout a branch? Had he a sling, would it hurl a stone to so great a distance? Had he a ladder, would he climb so nimbly up a tree? Had he a horse, would he run with such swiftness? Give civilized man but time to gather about him all his machines, and no doubt he will outmatch the savage: but if you have a mind to see a contest still more unequal, place them naked and unarmed one opposite to the other; and you will soon discover the advantage there is in perpetually having all our forces constantly at our disposal, in being constantly prepared against all events, and in always carrying ourselves, as it were, whole and entire about us. Hobbes would have it that man is naturally void of fear, and intent only upon attacking and fighting. An illustrious philosopher* thinks on the contrary, and Cumberland and Pufendorf likewise affirm it, that nothing is more timid than man in a state of nature, that he is always in a tremble, and ready to fly at the first motion he perceives, at the first noise that strikes his ears. This, indeed, may be very true in regard to objects with which he is not acquainted; and I make no doubt of his being terrified at every new sight that presents itself, whenever he cannot distinguish the physical good and evil which he may expect from it, nor compare his strength with the dangers he has to encounter; circumstances that seldom occur in a state of nature, where all things proceed in so uniform a manner, and the face of the earth is not liable to those sudden and continual changes occasioned in it by the passions and inconstancies of men living in bodies. But savage man living dispersed among other animals and finding himself early under a necessity of measuring his strength with theirs, soon makes a comparison between both, and finding that he surpasses them more in address, than they surpass him in strength, he learns not to be any longer in dread of them. Turn out a bear or a wolf against a sturdy, active, resolute savage (and this they all are), provided with stones and a good stick, and you will soon find that the danger is at least equal on both sides, and that after several trials of this kind, wild beasts, who are not fond of attacking each other, will not be very disposed to attack man, whom they have found every whit as wild as themselves. As to animals who have really more strength than man has address, he is, in regard to them, what other weaker species are, who find means to subsist notwithstanding; he has even this great advantage over such weaker species, that being equally fleet with them, and finding on every tree an almost inviolable asylum, he is always at liberty to accept or to * Montesquieu, in the Esprit des lois, I, ii. Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. 92 The Second Discourse refuse the encounter, to fight or to fly. Let us add that it appears that no animal naturally makes war on man, except in the case of self-defense or extreme hunger; nor ever expresses against him any of these violent antipathies, which seem to indicate that one species is intended by nature for the food of another. But there are other more formidable enemies, and against which man is not provided with the same means of defense; I mean natural infirmities, infancy, old age, and sickness of every kind; melancholy proofs of our weakness, whereof the two first are common to all animals, and the last chiefly attends man living in a state of society. It is even observable in regard to infancy, that the mother being able to carry her child about with her, wherever she goes, can perform the duty of a nurse with a great deal less trouble than the females of many other animals, who are obliged to be constantly going and coming with no small labor and fatigue, one way to look out for their own subsistence, and another to suckle and feed their young ones. True it is that, if the woman happens to perish, her child is exposed to the greatest danger of perishing with her; but this danger is common to a hundred other species, whose young ones require a great deal of time to be able to provide for themselves; and if our infancy is longer than theirs, our life is longer likewise; so that, in this respect too, all things are in a manner equal; not but that there are other rules concerning the duration of the first age of life, and the number of the young of man and other animals, but they do not belong to my subject. With old men, who stir and perspire but little, the demand for food diminishes with their abilities to provide it; and as a savage life would exempt them from the gout and the rheumatism, and old age is of all ills that which human assistance is least capable of alleviating, they would at last go off, without its being perceived by others that they ceased to exist, and almost without perceiving it themselves. In regard to sickness, I shall not repeat the vain and false declamations made use of to discredit medicine by most men, while they enjoy their health; I shall only ask if there are any solid observations from which we may conclude that in those countries, where the healing art is most neglected, the mean duration of man’s life is shorter than in those where it is most cultivated. And how is it possible this should be the case, if we inflict more diseases upon ourselves than medicine can supply us with remedies? The extreme inequalities in the manner of living of the several classes of mankind, the excess of idleness in some, and of labor in others, the facility of irritating and satisfying our sensuality and our appetites, the too exquisite and out of the way foods of the rich, which fill them with fiery juices, and Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. First Part 93 bring on indigestions, the unwholesome food of the poor, of which even, bad as it is, they very often fall short, and the want of which tempts them, every opportunity that offers, to eat greedily and overload their stomachs; late nights, excesses of every kind, immoderate transports of all the passions, fatigues, mental exhaustion, in a word, the numberless pains and anxieties annexed to every condition, and which the mind of man is constantly a prey to; these are the fatal proofs that most of our ills are of our own making, and that we might have avoided them all by adhering to the simple, uniform and solitary way of life prescribed to us by nature. Allowing that nature intended we should always enjoy good health, I dare almost affirm that a state of reflection is a state against nature, and that the man who meditates is a degenerate animal. We need only call to mind the good constitution of savages, of those at least whom we have not destroyed by our strong liquors; we need only reflect, that they are strangers to almost every disease, except those occasioned by wounds and old age, to be in a manner convinced that the history of human diseases might be easily written by pursuing that of civil societies. Such at least was the opinion of Plato, who concluded from certain remedies made use of or approved by Podalirius and Machaon at the Siege of Troy, that several disorders, which these remedies were found to bring on in his days, were not known among men at that remote period; and Celsus relates that dieting, so necessary nowadays, was first invented by Hippocrates. Man therefore, in a state of nature where there are so few sources of sickness, can have no great occasion for physic, and still less for physicians; neither is the human species more to be pitied in this respect, than any other species of animals. Ask those who make hunting their recreation or business, if in their excursions they meet with many sick or feeble animals. They meet with many carrying the marks of considerable wounds, that have been perfectly well healed and closed up; with many, whose bones formerly broken, and whose limbs almost torn off, have completely knit and united, without any other surgeon but time, any other regimen but their usual way of living, and whose cures were not the less perfect for their not having been tortured with incisions, poisoned with drugs, or worn out by fasting. In a word, however useful medicine well administered may be to us who live in a state of society, it is still past doubt, that if, on the one hand, the sick savage, destitute of help, has nothing to hope for except from nature, on the other, he has nothing to fear but from its ills; a circumstance which often renders his situation preferable to ours. Let us therefore beware of confusing savage man with the men with whom we associate. Nature behaves towards all animals left to her care Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. 94 The Second Discourse with a predilection that seems to prove how jealous she is of that prerogative. The horse, the cat, the bull, nay the ass itself, have generally a higher stature, and always a more robust constitution, more vigor, more strength and courage in their forests than in our houses; they lose half these advantages by becoming domestic animals; it looks as if all our attention to treat them kindly, and to feed them well, served only to bastardize them. It is thus with man himself. In proportion as he becomes sociable and a slave to others, he becomes weak, fearful, mean-spirited, and his soft and effeminate way of living at once completes the enervation of his strength and of his courage. We may add, that there must be still a wider difference between man and man in a savage and domestic condition, than between beast and beast; for as men and beasts have been treated alike by nature, all the comforts with which men indulge themselves, still more than they do the beasts tamed by them, are so many particular causes which make them degenerate more markedly. Nakedness, therefore, the want of houses, and of all these superfluities, which we consider as so very necessary, are not such mighty evils in respect to these primitive men, and much less still any obstacle to their preservation. Their skin, it is true, is destitute of hair; but then they have no occasion for any such covering in warm climates; and in cold climates they soon learn to apply to that use those of the animals they have conquered; they have only two feet to run with, but they have two hands to defend themselves with, and provide for all their wants; their children, perhaps, learn to walk later and with difficulty, but their mothers carry them with ease; an advantage not granted to other species of animals, with whom the mother, when pursued, is obliged to abandon her young ones, or regulate her step by theirs. In short, unless we admit those singular and fortuitous concurrences of circumstances, which I shall speak of hereafter, and which, it is very possible, may never have existed, it is evident, in any case, that the man who first made himself clothes and built himself a cabin supplied himself with things which he did not much need, since he had lived without them till then; and why should he not have been able to support, in his riper years, the same kind of life, which he had supported from his infancy? Alone, idle, and always surrounded with danger, savage man must be fond of sleep, and sleep lightly like other animals, who think but little, and may, in a manner, be said to sleep all the time they do not think: selfpreservation being almost his only concern, he must exercise those faculties most which are most serviceable in attacking and in defending, whether to subdue his prey, or to prevent his becoming that of other animals: those organs, on the contrary, which softness and sensuality can alone improve, Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. First Part 95 must remain in a state of rudeness, utterly incompatible with all manner of delicacy; and as his senses are divided on this point, his touch and his taste must be extremely coarse and blunt; his sight, his hearing, and his smelling equally subtle: such is the animal state in general, and accordingly, if we may believe travelers, it is that of most savage nations. We must not therefore be surprised, that the Hottentots of the Cape of Good Hope distinguish with their naked eyes ships on the ocean, at as great a distance as the Dutch can discern them with their glasses; nor that the savages of America should have tracked the Spaniards with their smell, to as great a degree of exactness, as the best dogs could have done; nor that all these barbarous nations support nakedness without pain, use such large quantities of pimento to give their food a relish, and drink like water the strongest liquors of Europe. As yet I have considered man merely in his physical capacity; let us now endeavor to examine him in a metaphysical and moral light. I can discover nothing in any animal but an ingenious machine, to which nature has given senses to wind itself up, and guard, to a certain degree, against everything that might destroy or disorder it. I perceive the very same things in the human machine, with this difference, that nature alone operates in all the operations of the beast, whereas man, as a free agent, has a share in his. One chooses by instinct; the other by an act of liberty; for which reason the beast cannot deviate from the rules that have been prescribed to it, even in cases where such deviation might be useful, and man often deviates from the rules laid down for him to his prejudice. Thus a pigeon would starve near a dish of the best meat, and a cat on a heap of fruit or corn, though both might very well support life with the food which they thus disdain, did they but bethink themselves to make a trial of it. It is in this manner that dissolute men run into excesses, which bring on fevers and death itself; because the mind depraves the senses, and when nature ceases to speak, the will still continues to dictate. All animals have ideas, since all animals have senses; they even combine their ideas to a certain degree, and, in this respect, it is only the difference of such degree that constitutes the difference between man and beast: some philosophers have even advanced, that there is a greater difference between some men and some others, than between some men and some beasts; it is not therefore so much the understanding that constitutes, among animals, the specific distinction of man, as his quality of a free agent. Nature speaks to all animals, and beasts obey her voice. Man feels the same impulse, but he at the same time perceives that he is free to resist or to acquiesce; and it is in the consciousness of this liberty, that the spirituality of his soul chiefly appears: for natural philosophy explains, in some Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. 96 The Second Discourse measure, the mechanism of the senses and the formation of ideas; but in the power of willing, or rather of choosing, and in the consciousness of this power, nothing can be discovered but acts, that are purely spiritual, and cannot be accounted for by the laws of mechanics. But even if the difficulties, in which all these questions are involved, should leave some room to dispute on this difference between man and beast, there is another very specific quality that distinguishes them, and a quality which will admit of no dispute; this is the faculty of improvement;* a faculty which, as circumstances offer, successively unfolds all the other faculties, and resides among us not only in the species, but in the individuals that compose it; whereas a beast is, at the end of some months, all he ever will be during the rest of his life; and his species, at the end of a thousand years, precisely what it was the first year of that thousand. Why is man alone subject to dotage? Is it not, because he thus returns to his primitive condition? And because, while the beast, which has acquired nothing and has likewise nothing to lose, continues always in possession of his instinct, man, losing by old age, or by accidents, all the acquisitions he had made in consequence of his perfectibility, thus falls back even lower than beasts themselves? It would be a melancholy necessity for us to be obliged to allow that this distinctive and almost unlimited faculty is the source of all man’s misfortunes; that it is this faculty, which, though by slow degrees, draws him out of his original condition, in which his days would slide away insensibly in peace and innocence; that it is this faculty, which, in a succession of ages, produces his discoveries and mistakes, his virtues and his vices, and, in the long run, renders him both his own and nature’s tyrant. (i) It would be shocking to be obliged to commend, as a beneficent being, whoever he was that first suggested to the Orinoco Indians the use of those boards which they bind on the temples of their children, and which secure to them the enjoyment of some part at least of their natural imbecility and happiness. Savage man, abandoned by nature to pure instinct, or rather indemnified for the instinct which has perhaps been denied to him by faculties capable of immediately supplying its place, and of raising him afterwards a great deal higher, would therefore begin with purely animal functions: to see and to feel would be his first condition, which he would enjoy in common with other animals. To will and not to will, to wish and to fear, would be the first, and in a manner, the only operations of his soul, until new circumstances occasioned new developments. * Rousseau uses the word perfectibilité, which means the capacity to make progress. Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. First Part 97 Let moralists say what they will, the human understanding is greatly indebted to the passions, which, on their side, are likewise universally allowed to be greatly indebted to the human understanding. It is by the activity of our passions, that our reason improves; we covet knowledge merely because we covet enjoyment, and it is impossible to conceive, why a man exempt from fears and desires should take the trouble to reason. The passions, in their turn, owe their origin to our needs, and their increase to our progress in science; for we cannot desire or fear anything, but in consequence of the ideas we have of it, or of the simple impulses of nature; and savage man, destitute of every species of knowledge, experiences no passions but those of this last kind; his desires never extend beyond his physical wants; (k) He knows no goods but food, a female, and rest; he fears no evils but pain, and hunger; I say pain, and not death; for no animal, merely as such, will ever know what it is to die, and the knowledge of death, and of its terrors, is one of the first acquisitions made by man, in consequence of his deviating from the animal state. I could easily, were it necessary, cite facts in support of this opinion, and show that the progress of the mind has everywhere kept pace exactly with the wants to which nature had left the inhabitants exposed, or to which circumstances had subjected them, and consequently to the passions, which inclined them to provide for these wants. I could exhibit in Egypt the arts starting up, and extending themselves with the inundations of the Nile; I could pursue them in their progress among the Greeks, where they were seen to bud, grow, and rise to the heavens, in the midst of the sands and rocks of Attica, without being able to take root on the fertile banks of the Europus; I would observe, that, in general, the inhabitants of the north are more industrious than those of the south, because they can less do without industry; as if nature thus meant to make all things equal, by giving to the mind that fertility she has denied to the soil. But leaving aside the uncertain testimony of history, who does not perceive that everything seems to remove from savage man the temptation and the means of altering his condition? His imagination paints nothing to him; his heart asks nothing from him. His moderate wants are so easily supplied with what he everywhere finds ready to his hand, and he stands at such a distance from the degree of knowledge requisite to covet more, that he can neither have foresight nor curiosity. The spectacle of nature, by growing quite familiar to him, becomes at last equally indifferent. It is constantly the same order, constantly the same revolutions; he has not sense enough to feel surprise at the sight of the greatest wonders; and it is not in his mind we must look for that philosophy, which man must have to know how to Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. 98 The Second Discourse observe once, what he has every day seen. His soul, which nothing disturbs, gives itself up entirely to the consciousness of its present existence, without any thought of even the nearest futurity; and his projects, equally confined with his views, scarce extend to the end of the day. Such is, even at present, the degree of foresight in the Caribbean: he sells his cotton bed in the morning, and comes in the evening, with tears in his eyes, to buy it back, not having foreseen that he should want it again the next night. The more we meditate on this subject, the wider does the distance between mere sensation and the most simple knowledge become in our eyes; and it is impossible to conceive how man, by his own powers alone, without the assistance of communication, and the spur of necessity, could have got over so great an interval. How many ages perhaps revolved, before man beheld any other fire but that of the heavens? How many different accidents must have concurred to make them acquainted with the most common uses of this element? How often have they let it go out, before they knew the art of reproducing it? And how often perhaps has not every one of these secrets perished with the discoverer? What shall we say of agriculture, an art which requires so much labor and foresight; which depends upon other arts; which, it is very evident, can be practiced only in a society which had at least begun, and which does not so much serve to draw from the earth food which it would yield them without all that trouble, as to oblige her to produce those things which are preferable to our taste? But let us suppose that men had multiplied to such a degree, that the natural products of the earth no longer sufficed for their support; a supposition which, by the way, would prove that this kind of life would be very advantageous to the human species; let us suppose that, without forge or workshops, the instruments of husbandry had dropped from the heavens into the hands of savages, that these men had overcome that mortal aversion they all have for constant labor; that they had learned to foretell their wants at so great a distance of time; that they had guessed exactly how they were to break the earth, sow the grain and plant trees; that they had found out the art of grinding their corn, and improving by fermentation the juice of their grapes; all operations which must have been taught them by the gods, since we cannot conceive how they should make such discoveries of themselves; after all these fine presents, what man would be mad enough to cultivate a field, that may be robbed by the first comer, man or beast, who takes a fancy to the produce of it. And would any man consent to spend his days in labor and fatigue, when the rewards of his labor and fatigue became more and more precarious in proportion of his want of them? In a word, how could this situation engage Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. First Part 99 men to cultivate the earth, as long as it was not parceled out among them, that is, as long as a state of nature subsisted. Though we should suppose savage man as well-versed in the art of thinking, as philosophers make him; though we were, following them, to make him a philosopher himself, discovering by himself the sublimest truths, forming to himself, by the most abstract arguments, maxims of justice and reason drawn from the love of order in general, or from the known will of his Creator: in a word, though we were to suppose his mind as intelligent and enlightened as it would have had to be, and is in fact found to have been dull and stupid; what benefit would the species receive from all these metaphysical discoveries, which could not be communicated, but must perish with the individual who had made them? What progress could mankind make in the forests, scattered up and down among the other animals? And to what degree could men mutually improve and enlighten each other, when they had no fixed habitation, nor any need of each other’s assistance; when the same persons scarcely met twice in their whole lives, and on meeting neither spoke to, or so much as knew each other. Let us consider how many ideas we owe to the use of speech; how much grammar exercises and facilitates the operations of the mind; let us, besides, reflect on the immense pains and time that the first invention of languages must have required: let us add these reflections to the preceding; and then we may judge how many thousand ages must have been requisite to develop successively the operations, which the human mind is capable of producing. I must now beg leave to stop one moment to consider the perplexities attending the origin of languages. I might here barely cite or repeat the researches made, in relation to this question, by the Abbé de Condillac,* which all fully confirm my system, and perhaps even suggested to me the first idea of it. But, as the matter in which this philosopher resolves the difficulties he himself raises concerning the origin of arbitrary signs shows that he supposes, what I doubt, namely a kind of society already established among the inventors of languages; I think it my duty, at the same time that I refer to his reflections, to give my own, in order to expose the same difficulties in a light suitable to my subject. The first that offers itself is how languages could become necessary; for as there was no correspondence between men, nor the least necessity for any, there is no conceiving the necessity of this invention, nor the possibility of it, if it was not * In the Essai sur l’origine des connaissances humaines (1746). Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. 100 The Second Discourse indispensable. I might say, with many others, that languages are the fruit of the domestic intercourse between fathers, mothers, and children: but this, besides its not answering the difficulties, would be committing the same error as those, who reasoning on the state of nature, transfer to it ideas gathered in society, always consider families as living together under one roof, and their members as observing among themselves a union, equally intimate and permanent as that which exists among us, where so many common interests unite them; whereas in this primitive state, as there were neither houses nor cabins, nor any kind of property, everyone took up his lodging at random, and seldom continued above one night in the same place; males and females united without any premeditated design, as chance, occasion, or desire brought them together, nor had they any great occasion for language to make known what they had to say to each other. They parted with the same ease. (l) The mother suckled her children, when just born, for her own sake; but afterwards when habit had made them dear to her, for theirs; but they no sooner gained strength enough to run about in quest of food than they separated even from her, and as they scarcely had any other method of not losing each other, than that of remaining constantly in each other’s sight, they soon came to a point of not even recognizing each other when they happened to meet again. I must further observe, that the child having all his wants to explain, and consequently more things to say to his mother, than the mother can have to say to him, it is he that must be at the chief expense of invention, and the language he makes use of must be in a great measure his own work; this makes the number of languages equal to that of the individuals who are to speak them; and this multiplicity of languages is further increased by their roving and vagabond kind of life, which allows no idiom time enough to acquire any consistency; for to say that the mother would have dictated to the child the words he must employ to ask her this thing and that, may well enough explain in what manner languages, already formed, are taught, but it does not show us in what manner they are first formed. Let us suppose this first difficulty conquered: Let us for a moment consider ourselves on this side of the immense space, which must have separated the pure state of nature from that in which languages became necessary, and let us, after allowing their necessity, examine how languages could begin to be established: a new difficulty this, still more stubborn than the preceding; for if men stood in need of speech to learn to think, they must have stood in still greater need of the art of thinking to invent that of speaking; and though we could conceive how the sounds of the voice came to be taken for the conventional interpreters of our ideas we should not be Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. First Part 101 the nearer knowing who could have been the interpreters of this convention for such ideas, which, in consequence of their not corresponding to any sensible objects, could not be indicated by gesture or voice; so that we can scarcely form any tolerable conjectures concerning the birth of this art of communicating our thoughts, and establishing a correspondence between minds: a sublime art which, though so remote from its origin, philosophers still behold at such a prodigious distance from its perfection, that I never met with one of them bold enough to affirm it would ever arrive there, even though the revolutions necessarily produced by time were suspended in its favor; though prejudice could be banished from, or would at least consent to sit silent in the presence of our academies; and though these societies should consecrate themselves, entirely and during whole ages, to the study of this thorny matter. The first language of man, the most universal and most energetic of all languages, in short, the only language he needed, before there was a necessity of persuading assembled multitudes, was the cry of nature. As this cry was never extorted but by a kind of instinct in the most urgent cases, to implore assistance in great danger, or relief in great sufferings, it was of little use in the common occurrences of life, where more moderate sentiments generally prevail. When the ideas of men began to extend and multiply, and a closer communication began to take place among them, they labored to devise more numerous signs, and a more extensive language: they multiplied the inflections of the voice, and added to them gestures, which are, in their own nature, more expressive, and whose meaning depends less on any prior determination. They therefore expressed visible and movable objects by gestures, and those which strike the ear by imitative sounds: but as gestures scarcely indicate anything except objects that are actually present or can be easily described, and visible actions; as they are not of general use, since darkness or the interposition of a material object renders them useless; and as besides they require attention rather than excite it; men at length bethought themselves of substituting for them the articulations of voice, which, without having the same relation to any determinate object, are, in quality of conventional signs, fitter to represent all our ideas; a substitution, which could only have been made by common consent, and in a manner pretty difficult to practice by men, whose rude organs were unimproved by exercise; a substitution, which is in itself still more difficult to be conceived, since such a common agreement would have required a motive, and speech therefore appears to have been exceedingly requisite to establish the use of speech. We must suppose, that the words, first made use of by men, had in their Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. 102 The Second Discourse minds a much more extensive signification, than those employed in languages of some standing, and that, considering how ignorant they were of the division of speech into its constituent parts, they at first gave every word the meaning of an entire proposition. When afterwards they began to perceive the difference between the subject and attribute, and between verb and noun, a distinction which required no mean effort of genius, the substantives for a time were only so many proper names, the infinitive was the only tense, and as to adjectives, great difficulties must have attended the development of the idea that represents them, since every adjective is an abstract word, and abstraction is an unnatural and very painful operation. At first they gave every object a peculiar name, without any regard to its genus or species, things which these first originators of language were in no condition to distinguish; and every individual presented itself in isolation of their minds, as they are in the picture of nature. If they called one oak A, they called another oak B: so that their dictionary must have been more extensive in proposition as their knowledge of things was more confined. It could not but be a very difficult task to get rid of so diffuse and embarrassing a nomenclature; as in order to marshal the several beings under common and generic denominations, it was necessary to be first acquainted with their properties, and their differences; to be stocked with observations and definitions, that is to say, to understand natural history and metaphysics, advantages which the men of these times could not have enjoyed. Besides, general ideas cannot be conveyed to the mind without the assistance of words, nor can the understanding seize them except by means of propositions. This is one of the reasons why mere animals cannot form such ideas, nor ever acquire the perfectibility, which depends on such an operation. When a monkey leaves without the least hesitation one nut for another, are we to think he has any general idea of that kind of fruit, and that he compares its archetype with these two individual bodies? No certainly; but the sight of one of these nuts calls back to his memory the sensations which he has received from the other; and his eyes, modified after some certain manner, give notice to his palate of the modification it is in its turn going to receive. Every general idea is purely intellectual; let the imagination tamper ever so little with it, it immediately becomes a particular idea. Endeavor to represent to yourself the image of a tree in general, you never will be able to do it; in spite of all your efforts it will appear big or little, with thin or thick foliage, light or dark; and were you able to see nothing in it, but what can be seen in every tree, such a picture would no longer resemble any tree. Beings perfectly abstract are perceivable in the same manner, or are only conceivable by the assistance of speech. The definition of a triangle Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. First Part 103 can alone give you a just idea of that figure: the moment you form a triangle in your mind, it is this or that particular triangle and no other, and you cannot avoid giving breadth to its lines and color to its area. We must therefore make use of propositions; we must therefore speak to have general ideas; for the moment the imagination stops, the mind can continue to function only with the aid of discourse. If therefore the first inventors could give no names to any ideas but those they had already, it follows that the first substantives could never have been anything more than proper names. But when by means, which I cannot conceive, our new grammarians began to extend their ideas, and generalize their words, the ignorance of the inventors must have confined this method to very narrow bounds; and as they had at first too much multiplied the names of individuals for want of being acquainted with the distinctions called genus and species, they afterwards made too few genera and species for want of having considered beings in all their differences: to push the divisions far enough, they must have had more knowledge and experience than we can allow them, and have made more researches and taken more pains, than we can suppose them willing to submit to. Now if, even at this present time, we every day discover new species, which had before escaped all our observations, how many species must have escaped the notice of men, who judged of things merely from their first appearances! As to the primitive classes and the most general notions, it were superfluous to add that these they must have likewise overlooked: how, for example, could they have thought of or understood the words, matter, spirit, substance, mode, figure, motion, since even our philosophers, who for so long a time have been constantly employing these terms, can themselves scarcely understand them, and since the ideas annexed to these words being purely metaphysical, they could find no models of them in nature? I stop at these first advances, and beseech my judges to suspend their reading a little, in order to consider, what a great way language has still to go, in regard to the invention of physical substantives alone (though the easiest part of language to invent), to be able to express all the sentiments of man, to assume an invariable form, to bear being spoken in public, and to influence society. I earnestly entreat them to consider how much time and knowledge must have been requisite to find out numbers, abstract words, the aorists, and all the other tenses of verbs, the particles, and syntax, the method of connecting propositions and arguments, of forming all the logic of discourse. For my own part, I am so frightened by the difficulties that multiply at every step, and so convinced of the almost demonstrated impossibility of languages owing their birth and establishment to means that were Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. 104 The Second Discourse merely human, that I must leave to whoever may please to take it up, the task of discussing this difficult problem, ‘‘Which was the more necessary, society already formed to invent languages, or languages already invented to form society?’’ Whatever these origins may have been, we may at least infer from the little care which nature has taken to bring men together by mutual wants, and make the use of speech easy to them, how little she has done towards making them sociable, and how little she has contributed to anything which they themselves have done to become so. In fact, it is impossible to conceive, why, in this primitive state, one man should have more occasion for the assistance of another, than one monkey, or one wolf for that of another animal of the same species; or supposing that he had, what motive could induce another to assist him; or even, if he did so, how he, who wanted assistance, and he from whom it was wanted, could agree upon the conditions. I know we are continually told that in this state man would have been the most wretched of all creatures; and if it is true, as I fancy I have proved it, that he must have continued many ages without either the desire or the opportunity of emerging from such a state, their assertion could only serve to justify a charge against nature, and not any against the being which nature had thus constituted. But, if I thoroughly understand this term wretched, it is a word that either has no meaning, or signifies nothing but a privation attended with pain, and a suffering state of body or soul: now I would fain know what kind of misery can be that of a free being, whose heart enjoys perfect peace, and body perfect health? and which is most likely to become insupportable to those who enjoy it, a civil or a natural life? In civil life we can scarcely meet a single person who does not complain of his existence; many even throw away as much of it as they can, and the united force of divine and human laws can hardly put a stop to this disorder. Was ever any free savage known to have been so much tempted to complain of life, and do away with himself? Let us therefore judge with less pride on which side real misery is to be placed. Nothing, on the contrary, would have been so unhappy as savage man, dazzled by flashes of knowledge, racked by passions, and reasoning about a state different from that in which he saw himself placed. It was in consequence of a very wise providence, that the faculties, which he potentially enjoyed, were not to develop themselves, except in proportion as there offered occasions to exercise them, lest they should be superfluous or troublesome to him when he did not yet want them, or tardy and useless when he did. He had in his instinct alone everything requisite to live in a state of nature; in his cultivated reason he has barely what is necessary to live in a state of society. Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. First Part 105 It appears at first sight that, as there was no kind of moral relations between men in this state, nor any known duties, they could not be either good or bad, and had neither vices nor virtues, unless we take these words in a physical sense, and call vices, in the individual, the qualities which may prove detrimental to his own preservation, and virtues those which may contribute to it; in which case we should be obliged to consider him as most virtuous, who made least resistance against the simple impulses of nature. But without deviating from the usual meaning of these terms, it is proper to suspend the judgment we might form of such a situation, and be on our guard against prejudice, until, balance in hand, we have examined whether there are more virtues or vices among civilized men; or whether their virtues do them more good than their vices do them harm; or whether the improvement of their understanding is sufficient compensation for the mischief they do to each other, in proportion as they become better informed of the good they ought to do; or whether, on the whole, they would not be much happier in a condition, where they had nothing to fear or to hope from each other, than to have submitted to universal dependence, and to have obliged themselves to depend for everything upon those, who do not think themselves obliged to give them anything. But above all things let us beware of concluding with Hobbes, that man, as having no idea of goodness, must be naturally bad; that he is vicious because he does not know what virtue is; that he always refuses to do any service to those of his own species, because he believes that none is due to them; that, in virtue of that right which he justly claims to everything he wants, he foolishly looks upon himself as proprietor of the whole universe. Hobbes very plainly saw the flaws in all the modern definitions of natural right: but the consequences, which he draws from his own definition, show that the sense in which he understands it is equally false. This author, to argue from his own principles, should say that the state of nature, being that in which the care of our own preservation interferes least with the preservation of others, was consequently the most favorable to peace, and the most suitable to mankind; whereas he advances the very reverse in consequence of his having injudiciously included in that care which savage man takes of his preservation, the satisfaction of numberless passions which are the work of society, and have made laws necessary. A bad man, says he, is a robust child. But this is not proving that savage man is a robust child; and though we were to grant that he was, what could this philosopher infer from such a concession? That if this man, when robust, depended on others as much as when feeble, there is no excess that he would not be guilty of. He would make nothing of striking his mother when she delayed ever so little to give Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. 106 The Second Discourse him the breast; he would claw, and bite, and strangle without remorse the first of his younger brothers, that ever so accidentally jostled or otherwise disturbed him. But these are two contradictory suppositions in the state of nature, to be robust and dependent. Man is weak when dependent, and his own master before he grows robust. Hobbes did not consider that the same cause, which hinders savages from making use of their reason, as our jurisconsults pretend, hinders them at the same time from making an ill use of their faculties, as he himself pretends; so that we may say that savages are not bad, precisely because they don’t know what it is to be good; for it is neither the development of the understanding, nor the curb of the law, but the calmness of their passions and their ignorance of vice that hinder them from doing ill: tanto plus in illis proficit vitiorum ignoratio, quam in his cognitio virtutis.* There is besides another principle that has escaped Hobbes, and which, having been given to man to moderate, on certain occasions, the ferocity of self-love, or the desire of self-preservation previous to the appearance of that love (o) tempers the ardor, with which he naturally pursues his private welfare, by an innate abhorrence to see beings suffer that resemble him. I shall not surely be contradicted, in granting to man the only natural virtue, which the most passionate detractor of human virtues could not deny him, I mean that of pity, a disposition suitable to creatures weak as we are, and liable to so many evils; a virtue so much the more universal, and withal useful to man, as it takes place in him before all manner of reflection; and so natural, that the beasts themselves sometimes give evident signs of it. Not to speak of the tenderness of mothers for their young; and of the dangers they face to screen them from danger; with what reluctance are horses known to trample upon living bodies; one animal never passes unmoved by the dead carcass of another animal of the same species: there are even some who bestow a kind of sepulture upon their dead fellows; and the mournful lowings of cattle, on their entering the slaughterhouse, publish the impression made upon them by the horrible spectacle they are there struck with. It is with pleasure we see the author of the Fable of the Bees,† forced to acknowledge man a compassionate and sensitive being; and lay aside, in the example he offers to confirm it, his cold and subtle style, to place before us the pathetic picture of a man, who, with his hands tied up, is obliged to behold a beast of prey tear a child from the arms of his mother, and then with his teeth grind the tender limbs, and with * ‘‘So much more does ignorance of vice profit these than knowledge of virtue the others.’’ (Justin, Histories, II, 2.) † Mandeville. Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. First Part 107 his claws rend the throbbing entrails of the innocent victim. What horrible emotions must not such a spectator experience at the sight of an event which does not personally concern him? What anguish must he not suffer at his not being able to assist the fainting mother or the expiring infant? Such is the pure impulse of nature, anterior to all manner of reflection; such is the force of natural pity, which the most dissolute manners have as yet found it so difficult to extinguish, since we every day see, in our theatrical representations, those men sympathize with the unfortunate and weep at their sufferings, who, if in the tyrant’s place, would aggravate the torments of their enemies. Mandeville was aware that men, in spite of all their morality, would never have been better than monsters, if nature had not given them pity to assist reason: but he did not perceive that from this quality alone flow all the social virtues which he would dispute mankind the possession of. In fact, what is generosity, what clemency, what humanity, but pity applied to the weak, to the guilty, or to the human species in general? Even benevolence and friendship, if we judge right, will appear the effects of a constant pity, fixed upon a particular object: for to wish that a person may not suffer, what is it but to wish that he may be happy? Though it were true that commiseration is no more than a sentiment, which puts us in the place of him who suffers, a sentiment obscure but active in the savage, developed but dormant in civilized man, how could this notion affect the truth of what I advance, but to make it more evident? In fact, commiseration must be so much the more energetic, the more intimately the animal, that beholds any kind of distress, identifies himself with the animal that labors under it. Now it is evident that this identification must have been infinitely more perfect in the state of nature, than in the state of reason. It is reason that engenders self-love, and reflection that strengthens it; it is reason that makes man shrink into himself; it is reason that makes him keep aloof from everything that can trouble or afflict him; it is philosophy that destroys his connections with other men; it is in consequence of her dictates that he mutters to himself at the sight of another in distress, You may perish for aught I care, I am safe. Nothing less than those evils, which threaten the whole community, can disturb the calm sleep of the philosopher, and force him from his bed. One man may with impunity murder another under his windows; he has nothing to do but clap his hands to his ears, argue a little with himself to hinder nature, that startles within him, from identifying him with the unhappy sufferer. Savage man lacks this admirable talent; and for want of wisdom and reason, is always ready foolishly to obey the first whispers of humanity. In riots and street brawls the populace flock together, the prudent man sneaks off. It is the dregs of the people, the Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. 108 The Second Discourse market women, that part the combatants, and hinder gentlefolks from cutting one another’s throats. It is therefore certain that pity is a natural sentiment, which, by moderating in every individual the activity of self-love, contributes to the mutual preservation of the whole species. It is this pity which hurries us without reflection to the assistance of those we see in distress; it is this pity which, in a state of nature, takes the place of laws, manners, virtue, with this advantage, that no one is tempted to disobey her gentle voice: it is this pity which will always hinder a robust savage from plundering a feeble child, or infirm old man, of the subsistence they have acquired with pain and difficulty, if he has but the least prospect of providing for himself by any other means: it is this pity which, instead of that sublime maxim of rational justice, Do to others as you would have others do to you, inspires all men with that other maxim of natural goodness a great deal less perfect, but perhaps more useful, Do good to yourself with as little prejudice as you can to others. It is in a word, in this natural sentiment, rather than in finespun arguments, that we must look for the cause of that reluctance which every man would experience to do evil, even independently of the maxims of education. Though it may be the peculiar happiness of Socrates and other geniuses of his stamp to reason themselves into virtue, the human species would long ago have ceased to exist, had it depended entirely for its preservation on the reasonings of the individuals that compose it. With passions so tame, and so salutary a curb, men, rather wild than wicked, and more attentive to guard against harm than to do any to other animals, were not exposed to any dangerous dissensions: as they kept up no manner of intercourse with each other, and were of course strangers to vanity, to respect, to esteem, to contempt; as they had no notion of what we call thine and mine, nor any true idea of justice; as they considered any violence they were liable to as an evil that could be easily repaired, and not as an injury that deserved punishment; and as they never so much as dreamed of revenge, unless perhaps mechanically and unpremeditatedly, as a dog who bites the stone that has been thrown at him; their disputes could seldom be attended with bloodshed, were they never occasioned by a more considerable stake than that of subsistence: but there is a more dangerous subject of contention, which I must not leave unnoticed. Among the passions which ruffle the heart of man, there is one of a hot and impetuous nature, which renders the sexes necessary to each other; a terrible passion which despises all dangers, bears down all obstacles, and which in its transports seems proper to destroy the human species which it is destined to preserve. What must become of men abandoned to this lawRousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. First Part 109 less and brutal rage, without modesty, without shame, and every day disputing the objects of their passion at the expense of their blood? We must in the first place allow that the more violent the passions, the more necessary are laws to restrain them: but besides that the disorders and the crimes, to which these passions daily give rise among us, sufficiently prove the insufficiency of laws for that purpose, we would do well to look back a little further and examine, if these evils did not spring up with the laws themselves; for at this rate, even if the laws were capable of repressing these evils, it is the least that might be expected from them, that they should check a mischief which would not exist without them. Let us begin by distinguishing between what is moral and what is physical in the passion called love. The physical part of it is that general desire which prompts the sexes to unite with each other; the moral part is that which determines this desire, and fixes it upon a particular object to the exclusion of all others, or at least gives it a greater degree of energy for this preferred object. Now it is easy to perceive that the moral part of love is a factitious sentiment, engendered by society, and cried up by the women with great care and address in order to establish their empire, and secure command to that sex which ought to obey. This sentiment, being founded on certain notions of beauty and merit which a savage is not capable of having, and upon comparisons which he is not capable of making, can scarcely exist in him: for as his mind was never in a condition to form abstract ideas of regularity and proportion, neither is his heart susceptible of sentiments of admiration and love, which, even without our perceiving it, are produced by our application of these ideas; he listens solely to the dispositions implanted in him by nature, and not the taste which he never could have acquired; and any woman answers his purpose. Confined entirely to what is physical in love, and happy enough not to know these preferences which sharpen the appetite for it, at the same time that they increase the difficulty of satisfying such appetite, men, in a state of nature, must be subject to fewer and less violent fits of that passion, and of course there must be fewer and less violent disputes among them in consequence of it. The imagination, which causes so many ravages among us, never speaks to the heart of savages, who peaceably wait for the impulses of nature, yield to these impulses without choice and with more pleasure than fury; and the need once satisfied, all desire is lost. Nothing therefore can be more evident, than that it is society alone, which has added even to love itself as well as to all the other passions, that impetuous ardor, which so often renders it fatal to mankind; and it is so much the more ridiculous to represent savages constantly murdering each Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. 110 The Second Discourse other to glut their brutality, as this opinion is diametrically opposite to experience, and the Caribbeans, the people in the world who have as yet deviated least from the state of nature, are to all intents and purposes the most peaceable in their amours, and the least subject to jealousy, though they live in a burning climate which seems always to add considerably to the activity of these passions. As to the inductions which may be drawn, in respect to several species of animals, from the battles of the males, who in all seasons cover our poultry yards with blood, and in spring particularly cause our forests to ring again with the noise they make in disputing their females, we must begin by excluding all those species where nature has evidently established, in the relative power of the sexes, relations different from those which exist among us: thus from the battles of cocks we can form no induction that will affect the human species. In the species, where the proportion is better observed, these battles must be owing entirely to the fewness of the females compared with the males, or what amounts to the same, to the intervals of refusal, during which the female constantly refuses the advances of the males; for if the female admits the male but two months in the year, it is all the same as if the number of females were five-sixths less: now neither of these cases is applicable to the human species, where the number of females generally surpasses that of males, and where it has never been observed that, even among savages, the females had, like those of other animals, their stated times of heat and indifference. Besides, among several of these animals the whole species takes fire all at once, and for some days nothing is to be seen among them but confusion, tumult, disorder and bloodshed; a state unknown to the human species, where love is never periodical. We cannot therefore conclude from the battles of certain animals for the possession of their females, that the same would be the case of man in a state of nature; and even if we did, since these contests do not destroy the other species, there is at least equal room to think they would not be fatal to ours; and it is very probable that they would cause fewer ravages than they do in society, especially in those countries where, morality being as yet held in some esteem, the jealousy of lovers and the vengeance of husbands every day produce duels, murders, and even worse crimes; where the duty of an eternal fidelity serves only to propagate adultery; and the very laws of continence and honor necessarily increase dissoluteness, and multiply abortions. Let us conclude that savage man, wandering about in the forests, without industry, without speech, without any fixed residence, an equal stranger to war and every social tie, without any need of his fellows, as well as without Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. First Part 111 any desire of hurting them, and perhaps even without ever distinguishing them individually one from the other, subject to few passions, and finding in himself all he wants, let us, I say, conclude that savage man had no knowledge or feelings but such as were proper to that situation; that he felt only his real necessities, took notice of nothing but what it was his interest to see, and that his understanding made as little progress as his vanity. If he happened to make any discovery, he could the less communicate it as he did not even know his children. The art perished with the inventor; there was neither education nor improvement; generations succeeded generations to no benefit; and as all constantly set out from the same point, whole centuries rolled on in the rudeness and barbarity of the first age; the race was grown old, and man still remained a child. If I have enlarged so much upon the supposition of this primitive condition, it is because I thought it my duty, considering what ancient errors and inveterate prejudices I have to extirpate, to dig to the very roots, and show in a true picture of the state of nature, how much even natural inequality falls short in this state of that reality and influence which our writers ascribe to it. In fact, we may easily perceive that among the differences, which distinguish men, several pass for natural, which are merely the work of habit and the different kinds of life adopted by men living in a social way. Thus a robust or delicate constitution, and the strength and weakness which depend on it, are oftener produced by the hardy or effeminate manner in which a man has been brought up, than by the primitive constitution of his body. It is the same thus in regard to the forces of the mind; and education not only produces a difference between those minds which are cultivated and those which are not, but even increases the difference which is found among the former in proportion to their culture; for let a giant and a dwarf set out in the same road, the giant at every step will acquire a new advantage over the dwarf. Now, if we compare the prodigious variety in the education and way of living of the various orders of men in a civil state, with the simplicity and uniformity that prevail in the animal and savage life, where all the individuals feed on the same food, live in the same manner, and do exactly the same things, we shall easily conceive how much the difference between man and man in the state of nature must be less than in the state of society, and how greatly every social inequality must increase the natural inequalities of mankind. But even if nature in the distribution of her gifts should really affect all the preferences that are imputed to her, what advantage could the most favored derive from her partiality, to the prejudice of others in a state of Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. 112 The Second Discourse things which admits hardly any kind of relation between them? Of what service can beauty be, where there is no love? What will wit avail people who don’t speak, or cunning those who have no business? Authors are constantly crying out, that the strongest would oppress the weakest; but let them explain what they mean by the word oppression. One man will rule with violence, another will groan under a constant subjection to all his caprices: this is indeed precisely what I observe among us, but I don’t see how it can be said of savage men, into whose heads it would be a hard matter to drive even the meaning of the words domination and servitude. One man might indeed seize the fruits which another had gathered, the game which another had killed, the cavern which another had occupied for shelter; but how is it possible he should ever exact obedience from him, and what chains of dependence can there be among men who possess nothing? If I am driven from one tree, I have nothing to do but look out for another; if one place is made uneasy to me, what can hinder me from taking up my quarters elsewhere? But suppose I should meet a man so much superior to me in strength, and withal so depraved, so lazy and so barbarous as to oblige me to provide for his subsistence while he remains idle; he must resolve not to take his eyes from me a single moment, to bind me fast before he can take the least nap, lest I should kill him or give him the slip during his sleep: that is to say, he must expose himself voluntarily to much greater troubles than what he seeks to avoid, than any he gives me. And after all this, let him abate ever so little of his vigilance; let him at some sudden noise but turn his head another way; I am already buried in the forest, my fetters are broken, and he never sees me again. But without insisting any longer upon these details, everyone must see that, as the bonds of servitude are formed merely by the mutual dependence of men one upon another and the reciprocal necessities which unite them, it is impossible for one man to enslave another, without having first reduced him to a condition which, as it does not exist in a state of nature, must leave every man his own master, and render the law of the strongest altogether vain and useless. Having proved that inequality in the state of nature is scarcely felt, and that it has very little influence, I must now proceed to show its origin and trace its progress, in the successive developments of the human mind. After having showed that perfectibility, the social virtues, and the other faculties, which natural man had received as potentialities, could never be developed of themselves, that they needed the fortuitous concurrence of several foreign causes, which might never arise, and without which he must have eternally remained in his primitive condition, I must proceed to consider Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. Second Part 113 and bring together the different accidents which may have perfected the human understanding while debasing the species, and made man wicked by making him sociable, and from so remote a time bring man at last and the world to the point at which we now see them. I must own that, as the events I am about to describe might have happened many different ways, I can determine my choice only by mere conjecture; but aside from the fact that these conjectures become reasons, when they are the most probable that can be drawn from the nature of things and the only means we can have of discovering truth, the consequences I mean to deduce from mine will not be merely conjectural, since, on the principles I have just established, it is impossible to form any other system, that would not supply me with the same results, and from which I might not draw the same conclusions. This will make it unnecessary for me to dwell on the manner in which the lapse of time compensates for the slight probability of events; on the surpising power of very trivial causes, when their action is constant; on the impossibility, on the one hand, of destroying certain hypotheses, while on the other we cannot give them the degrees of certainty of facts; on its being the business of history, when two facts are proposed, as real, and connected by a chain of intermediate facts which are either unknown or considered as such, to furnish such facts as may actually connect them; and the business of philosophy, when history is silent, to point out similar facts which may answer the same purpose; finally, on the power of similarity, in regard to events, to reduce facts to a much smaller number of different classes than is generally imagined. It suffices me to offer these matters to the consideration of my judges; it suffices me to have conducted my inquiry in such a manner as to save the general reader the trouble of considering them at all. Second Part The first man, who after enclosing a piece of ground, took it into his head to say, this is mine, and found people simple enough to believe him, was the real founder of civil society. How many crimes, how many wars, how many murders, how many misfortunes and horrors, would that man have saved the human species, who pulling up the stakes or filling up the ditches should have cried to his fellows: Beware of listening to this impostor; you are lost, if you forget that the fruits of the earth belong equally to us all, and the earth itself to nobody! But it is highly probable that things had by then already come to such a pass, that they could not continue much longer as they were; Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. 114 The Second Discourse for as this idea of property depends on several prior ideas which could only spring up gradually one after another, it was not formed all at once in the human mind: men must have made considerable progress; they must have acquired a great stock of industry and knowledge, and transmitted and increased it from age to age before they could arrive at this last point of the state of nature. Let us therefore take up things at an earlier stage, and collect into one point of view, and in their most natural order, the slow succession of events and discoveries. Man’s first feeling was that of his existence, his first care that of preserving it. The productions of the earth yielded him all the assistance he required, instinct prompted him to make use of them. Hunger and other appetites made him at different times experience different modes of existence; one of these excited him to perpetuate his species; and this blind propensity, quite void of anything like pure love or affection, produced nothing but an act that was merely animal. Their need once gratified, the sexes took no further notice of each other, and even the child was nothing to his mother, the moment he could do without her. Such was the condition of infant man; such was the life of an animal confined at first to pure sensations, and so far from harboring any thought of forcing her gifts from nature, that he scarcely availed himself of those which she offered to him of her own accord. But difficulties soon arose, and there was a necessity for learning how to surmount them: the height of some trees, which prevented his reaching their fruits; the competition of other animals equally fond of the same fruits; the fierceness of many that even aimed at his life; these were so many circumstances, which obliged him to apply to bodily exercise. There was a necessity for becoming active, swiftfooted, and sturdy in battle. The natural arms, which are stones and the branches of trees, soon offered themselves to his reach. He learned to surmount the obstacles of nature, to fight when necessary with other animals, to fight for his subsistence even with other men, or indemnify himself for the loss of whatever he found himself obliged to yield to a stronger. In proportion as the human species grew more numerous, and extended itself, its difficulties likewise multiplied and increased. The difference of soils, climates and seasons succeeded in forcing them to introduce some difference in their way of living. Bad harvests, long and severe winters, and scorching summers which parched up all the fruits of the earth, required a new resourcefulness and activity.* On the seashore, and the banks of rivers, they invented the line and the hook, and became fishermen and fish-eaters. * The French word industrie combines both meanings. Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. Second Part 115 In the forests they made themselves bows and arrows, and became huntsmen and warriors. In the cold countries they covered themselves with the skins of the beasts they had killed; thunder, a volcano, or some happy accident made them acquainted with fire, a new resource against the rigors of winter: they discovered the method of preserving this element, then that of reproducing it, and lastly the way of preparing with it the flesh of animals, which heretofore they had devoured raw. This reiterated applying of various things to himself, and to one another, must have naturally engendered in the mind of man the idea of certain relations. These relations, which we express by the words, great, little, strong, weak, swift, slow, fearful, bold, and the like, compared occasionally, and almost without thinking of it, produced in him some kind of reflection, or rather a mechanical prudence, which pointed out to him the precautions most essential to his safety. The new knowledge resulting from this development increased his superiority over other animals, by making him aware of it. He applied himself to learning how to ensnare them; he played them a thousand tricks; and though several surpassed him in strength or in swiftness, he in time became the master of those that could serve him, and a sore enemy to those that could do him mischief. Thus it was that the first look he gave into himself produced the first emotion of pride in him; thus it was that at a time he scarcely knew how to distinguish between the different orders of beings, in considering himself the highest by virtue of his species he prepared the way for his much later claim to preeminence as an individual. Though other men were not to him what they are to us, and he had scarcely more intercourse with them than with other animals, they were not overlooked in his observations. The conformities, which in time he was able to perceive between them, and between himself and his female, made him presume of those he did not perceive; and seeing that they all behaved as he himself would have done in similar circumstances, he concluded that their manner of thinking and feeling was quite conformable to his own; and this important truth, when once engraved deeply on his mind, made him follow, by an intuition as sure and swift as any reasoning, the best rules of conduct, which for the sake of his own safety and advantage it was proper he should observe toward them. Instructed by experience that the love of well-being is the sole spring of all human actions, he found himself in a condition to distinguish the few cases, in which common interest might authorize him to count on the assistance of his fellows, and those still fewer, in which a competition of interests should make him distrust them. In the first case he united with them in Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. 116 The Second Discourse the same herd, or at most by some kind of free association which obliged none of its members, and lasted no longer than the transitory necessity that had given birth to it. In the second case every one aimed at his own private advantage, either by open force if he found himself strong enough, or by ruse and cunning if he felt himself the weaker. Such was the manner in which men were gradually able to acquire some gross idea of mutual engagements and the advantage of fulfilling them, but this only as far as their present and obvious interest required; for they were strangers to foresight, and far from troubling their heads about a distant futurity, they gave no thought even to the morrow. Was a deer to be taken? Every one saw that to succeed he must faithfully stand to his post; but suppose a hare to have slipped by within reach of any one of them, it is not to be doubted that he pursued it without scruple, and when he had seized his prey never reproached himself with having made his companions miss theirs. We may easily conceive that such an intercourse scarcely required a more refined language than that of crows and monkeys, which flock together almost in the same manner. Inarticulate exclamations, a great many gestures, and some imitative sounds, must have been for a long time the universal language of mankind, and by joining to these in every country some articulate and conventional sounds, of which, as I have already said, it is not very easy to explain the first institution, there arose particular languages, but rude, imperfect, and such nearly as are to be found at this day among several savage nations. Hurried on by the rapidity of time, the abundance of things I have to say, and the almost imperceptible progress of the first improvements, my pen flies like an arrow over numberless ages; for the slower the succession of events, the more quickly are they told. At length, these first advances enabled man to make others at a greater rate. He became more industrious in proportion as his mind became more enlightened. Men, soon ceasing to fall asleep under the first tree, or take shelter in the first cave, hit upon several kinds of hatchets of hard and sharp stones, and employed them to dig the ground, cut down trees, and with the branches build huts, which they afterwards bethought themselves of plastering over with clay or mud. This was the epoch of a first revolution, which produced the establishment and distinction of families, and which introduced a species of property, and already along with it perhaps a thousand quarrels and battles. As the strongest however were probably the first to make themselves cabins, which they knew they were able to defend, we may conclude that the weak found it much shorter and safer to imitate, than to attempt to dislodge them: and as to those, who were already provided Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. Second Part 117 with cabins, no one could have any great temptation to seize upon that of his neighbor, not so much because it did not belong to him, as because he did not need it; and as he could not make himself master of it without exposing himself to a very sharp fight with the family that was occupying it. The first developments of the heart were the effects of a new situation, which united husbands and wives, parents and children, under one roof; the habit of living together gave birth to the sweetest sentiments the human species is acquainted with, conjugal and paternal love. Every family became a little society, so much the more firmly united, as mutual attachment and liberty were its only bonds; and it was now that the sexes, whose way of life had been hitherto the same, began to adopt different ways. The women became more sedentary, and accustomed themselves to stay at home and look after the children, while the men rambled abroad in quest of subsistence for the whole family. The two sexes likewise by living a little more at their ease began to lose somewhat of their usual ferocity and sturdiness: but if on the one hand individuals became less able to engage separately with wild beasts, they on the other were more easily got together to make a common resistance against them. In this new state of things, the simplicity and solitariness of man’s life, the paucity of his wants, and the instruments which he had invented to satisfy them leaving him a great deal of leisure, he employed it to supply himself with several conveniences unknown to his ancestors; and this was the first yoke he inadvertently imposed upon himself, and the first source of evils which he prepared for his descendants; for besides continuing in this manner to soften both body and mind, these conveniences having through use lost almost all their ability to please, and having at the same time degenerated into real needs, the privation of them became far more intolerable than the possession of them had been agreeable; to lose them was a misfortune, to possess them no happiness. Here we may a little better discover how the use of speech was gradually established or improved in the bosom of every family, and we may likewise form conjectures concerning the manner in which divers particular causes may have propagated language, and accelerated its progress by rendering it every day more and more necessary. Great inundations or earthquakes surrounded inhabited districts with water or precipices. Portions of the continent were by revolutions of the globe torn off and split into islands. It is obvious that among men thus collected, and forced to live together, a common idiom must have started up much sooner, than among those who freely wandered through the forests of the mainland. Thus it is very possible that the inhabitants of the islands, after their first essays in navigation, brought Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. 118 The Second Discourse among us the use of speech; and it is very probable at least that society and languages commenced in islands, and even were highly developed there, before the inhabitants of the continent knew anything of either. Everything now begins to wear a new aspect. Those who heretofore wandered through the woods, by taking to a more settled way of life, gradually flock together, coalesce into several separate bodies, and at length form in every country a distinct nation, united in character and manners, not by any laws or regulations, but by the same way of life, and alimentation, and the common influence of the climate. Living permanently near each other could not fail eventually to create some connection between different families. The transient commerce required by nature soon produced, among the youth of both sexes living in neighboring huts, another kind of commerce, which besides being not less agreeable is rendered more durable by mutual association. Men begin to consider different objects, and to make comparisons; they imperceptibly acquire ideas of merit and beauty, and these soon give rise to feelings of preference. By seeing each other often they contract a habit, which makes it painful not to see each other always. Tender and agreeable sentiments steal into the soul, and are by the smallest opposition wound up into the most impetuous fury: jealousy kindles with love; discord triumphs; and the gentlest of passions requires sacrifices of human blood to appease it. In proportion as ideas and feelings succeed each other, and the head and the heart become active, men continue to shake off their original wildness, and their connections become more intimate and extensive. They now began to assemble round a great tree: singing and dancing, the genuine offspring of love and leisure, became the amusement or rather the occupation of the men and women, free from care, thus gathered together. Everyone began to notice the rest, and wished to be noticed himself; and public esteem acquired a value. He who sang or danced best; the handsomest, the strongest, the most dexterous, or the most eloquent, came to be the most respected: this was the first step towards inequality, and at the same time towards vice. From these first distinctions there arose on one side vanity and contempt, on the other envy and shame; and the fermentation raised by these new leavens at length produced combinations fatal to happiness and innocence. Men no sooner began to set a value upon each other, and know what esteem was, than each laid claim to it, and it was no longer safe for any man to refuse it to another. Hence the first duties of politeness, even among savages; and hence every voluntary injury became an affront, as besides the hurt which resulted from it as an injury, the offended party was sure to find Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. Second Part 119 in it a contempt for his person often more intolerable than the hurt itself. It is thus that every man, punishing the contempt expressed for him by others in proportion to the value he set upon himself, the effects of revenge became terrible, and men learned to be sanguinary and cruel. Such precisely was the degree attained by most of the savage nations with whom we are acquainted. And it is for want of sufficiently distinguishing ideas, and observing at how great a distance these people were from the first state of nature, that so many authors have hastily concluded that man is naturally cruel, and requires a civil government to make him more gentle; whereas nothing is more gentle than he in his primitive state, when placed by nature at an equal distance from the stupidity of brutes, and the pernicious enlightenment of civilized man; and confined equally by instinct and reason to providing against the harm which threatens him, he is withheld by natural compassion from doing any injury to others, so far from being led even to return that which he has received. For according to the axiom of the wise Locke, Where there is no property, there can be no injury. But we must take notice, that the society now formed and the relations now established among men required in them qualities different from those which they derived from their primitive constitution; that as a sense of morality began to insinuate itself into human actions, and every man, before the enacting of laws, was the only judge and avenger of the injuries he had received, that goodness of heart suitable to the pure state of nature by no means was suitable for the new society; that it was necessary punishments should become severer in the same proportion that the opportunities of offending became more frequent, and the dread of vengeance add strength to the too weak curb of the law. Thus, though men had become less patient, and natural compassion had already suffered some alteration, this period of the development of the human faculties, holding a just mean between the indolence of the primitive state and the petulant activity of egoism, must have been the happiest and most durable epoch. The more we reflect on this state, the more convinced we shall be, that it was the least subject of any to revolutions, the best for man, (p) and that nothing could have drawn him out of it but some fatal accident, which, for the common good, should never have happened. The example of savages, most of whom have been found in this condition, seems to confirm that mankind was formed ever to remain in it, that this condition is the real youth of the world, and that all ulterior improvements have been so many steps, in appearance towards the perfection of individuals, but in fact towards the decrepitude of the species. As long as men remained satisfied with their rustic huts; as long as they were content with clothes made of the skins of animals, sewn with thorns Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. 120 The Second Discourse and fish bones; as long as they continued to consider feathers and shells as sufficient ornaments, and to paint their bodies different colors, to improve or ornament their bows and arrows, to fashion with sharp-edged stones some little fishing boats, or clumsy instruments of music; in a word, as long as they undertook such works only as a single person could finish, and stuck to such arts as did not require the joint endeavors of several hands, they lived free, healthy, honest and happy, as much as their nature would admit, and continued to enjoy with each other all the pleasures of an independent intercourse; but from the moment one man began to stand in need of another’s assistance; from the moment it appeared an advantage for one man to possess enough provisions for two, equality vanished; property was introduced; labor became necessary; and boundless forests became smiling fields, which had to be watered with human sweat, and in which slavery and misery were soon seen to sprout out and grow with the harvests. Metallurgy and agriculture were the two arts whose invention produced this great revolution. With the poet, it is gold and silver, but with the philosopher, it is iron and corn, which have civilized men, and ruined mankind. Accordingly both one and the other were unknown to the savages of America, who for that very reason have still remained savages; nay other nations seem to have continued in a state of barbarism, as long as they continued to exercise one only of these arts without the other; and perhaps one of the best reasons that can be assigned, why Europe has been, if not earlier, at least more constantly and highly civilized than the other quarters of the world, is that it both abounds most in iron and is most fertile in corn. It is very difficult to conjecture how men came to know anything of iron, and the art of employing it: for we are not to suppose that they should of themselves think of digging the ore out of the mine, and preparing it for smelting, before they knew what could be the result of such a process. On the other hand, there is the less reason to attribute this discovery to any accidental fire, as mines are formed nowhere but in barren places, bare of trees and plants, so that it looks as if nature had taken pains to keep from us so mischievous a secret. Nothing therefore remains but the extraordinary chance of some volcano, which belching forth metallic substances already fused might have given the spectators the idea of imitating that operation of nature. And we must further suppose in them great courage and foresight to undertake so laborious a work, and have, at so great a distance, an eye to the advantages they might derive from it; qualities scarcely suitable but to minds more advanced than those can be supposed to have been. As to agriculture, the principles of it were known a long time before the practice of it took place, and it is hardly possible that men, constantly Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. Second Part 121 employed in drawing their subsistence from trees and plants, should not have early hit on the means employed by nature for the generation of vegetables; but in all probability it was very late before their industry took a turn that way, either because trees which with hunting and fishing supplied them with food, did not require their attention; or because they did not know the use of grain; or because they had no instruments to cultivate it; or because they were destitute of foresight in regard to future necessities; or lastly, because they lacked means to hinder others from running away with the fruit of their labors. We may believe that on their becoming more industrious they began their agriculture by cultivating with sharp stones and pointed sticks a few vegetables or roots about their cabins; and that it was a long time before they knew the method of preparing wheat, and were provided with instruments necessary to raise it in large quantities; not to mention the necessity there is, in order to follow this occupation and sow lands, to consent to lose something now to gain a great deal later on; a precaution very foreign to the turn of man’s mind in a savage state, in which, as I have already remarked, he can hardly foresee in the morning what he will need at night. For this reason the invention of other arts must have been necessary to oblige mankind to apply themselves to that of agriculture. As soon as some men were needed to smelt and forge iron, others were wanted to maintain them. The more hands were employed in manufactures, the fewer hands were left to provide subsistence for all, though the number of mouths to be supplied with food continued the same; and as some required commodities in exchange for their iron, the rest at last found out the method of making iron serve for the multiplication of commodities. Thus were established on the one hand husbandry and agriculture, and on the other the art of working metals and of multiplying the uses of them. The tilling of the land was necessarily followed by its distribution; and property once acknowledged, the first rules of justice ensued: for to secure every man his own, every man had to be able to own something. Moreover, as men began to extend their views toward the future, and all found themselves in possession of goods capable of being lost, there was none without fear of reprisals for any injury he might do to others. This origin is so much the more natural, as it is impossible to conceive how property can flow from any other source but work; for what can a man add but his labor to things which he has not made, in order to acquire a property in them? It is the labor of the hands alone, which giving the husbandman a title to the produce of the land he has tilled gives him a title to the land itself, at least until he has gathered in the fruits of it, and so on from year to year; and this enjoyment Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. 122 The Second Discourse forming a continued possession is easily transformed into property. The ancients, says Grotius, by giving to Ceres the epithet of legislatrix, and to a festival celebrated in her honor the name of Thesmophoria, insinuated that the distribution of lands produced a new kind of right; that is the right of property different from that which results from the law of nature. Things thus circumstanced might have remained equal, if men’s talents had been equal, and if, for instance, the use of iron and the consumption of commodities had always held an exact proportion to each other; but as nothing preserved this balance, it was soon broken. The man that had most strength performed most labor; the most dexterous turned his labor to best account; the most ingenious found out methods of lessening his labor; the husbandman required more iron, or the smith more grain, and while both worked equally, one earned a great deal by his labor, while the other could scarcely live by his. Thus natural inequality insensibly unfolds itself with that arising from men’s combining, and the differences among men, developed by the differences of their circumstances, become more noticeable, more permanent in their effects, and begin to influence in the same proportion the condition of individuals. Matters once having reached this point, it is easy to imagine the rest. I shall not stop to describe the successive inventions of other arts, the progress of language, the trial and employment of talents, the inequality of fortunes, the use or abuse of riches, nor all the details which follow these, and which every one may easily supply. I shall just give a glance at mankind placed in this new order of things. Behold then all our faculties developed; our memory and imagination at work; egoism involved; reason rendered active; and the mind almost arrived at the utmost bounds of that perfection it is capable of. Behold all our natural qualities put in motion; the rank and lot of every man established, not only as to the amount of property and the power of serving or hurting others, but likewise as to genius, beauty, strength or skill, merits or talents; and as these were the only qualities which could command respect, it was found necessary to have or at least to affect them. It became to the interest of men to appear what they really were not. To be and to seem became two very different things, and from this distinction sprang haughty pomp and deceitful knavery, and all the vices which form their train. On the other hand, man, heretofore free and independent, was now, in consequence of a multitude of new needs, brought into subjection, as it were, to all nature, and especially to his fellows, whose slave in some sense he became, even by becoming their master; if rich, he stood in need of their services, if poor, of their assistance; even mediocrity itself could not enable him to do withRousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. Second Part 123 out them. He must therefore have been continually at work to interest them in his happiness, and make them, if not really, at least apparently find their advantage in laboring for his: this rendered him sly and artful in his dealings with some, imperious and cruel in his dealings with others, and laid him under the necessity of using ill all those whom he stood in need of, as often as he could not awe them into compliance and did not find it his interest to be useful to them. In fine, an insatiable ambition, the rage of raising their relative fortunes, not so much through real necessity as to overtop others, inspires all men with a wicked inclination to injure each other, and with a secret jealousy so much the more dangerous, as to carry its point with the greater security it often puts on the mask of benevolence. In a word, competition and rivalry on the one hand, and an opposition of interests on the other, and always a secret desire of profiting at the expense of others. Such were the first effects of property, and the inseparable attendants of nascent inequality. Riches, before the invention of signs to represent them, could scarcely consist in anything but lands and cattle, the only real goods which men can possess. So, when estates increased so much in number and in extent as to take in whole countries and touch each other, it became impossible for one man to aggrandize himself but at the expense of some other; at the same time, the supernumerary inhabitants, who were too weak or too indolent to make such acquisitions in their turn, impoverished without having lost anything, because while everything about them changed they alone remained the same, were obliged to receive or force their subsistence from the hands of the rich. And from that began to arise, according to their different characters, domination and slavery, or violence and rapine. The rich on their side scarcely began to taste the pleasure of commanding, when they preferred it to every other; and making use of their old slaves to acquire new ones, they no longer thought of anything but subduing and enslaving their neighbors; like those ravenous wolves, who having once tasted human flesh, despise every other food, and thereafter want only men to devour. It is thus that the most powerful or the most wretched, respectively considering their power and wretchedness as a kind of right to the possessions of others, equivalent in their minds to that of property, the equality once broken was followed by the most terrible disorders. It is thus that the usurpations of the rich, the pillagings of the poor, and the unbridled passions of all, by stifling the cries of natural compassion, and the still feeble voice of justice, rendered men avaricious, wicked, and ambitious. There arose between the title of the strongest and that of the first occupier a perpetual conflict, which always ended in battle and bloodshed. The new Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. 124 The Second Discourse state of society became the most horrible state of war: Mankind thus debased and harassed, and no longer able to retrace its steps, or renounce the fatal acquisitions it had made; laboring, in short, merely to its confusion by the abuse of those faculties, which in themselves do it so much honor, brought itself to the very brink of ruin. Attonitus novitate mali, divesque miserque, Effugere optat opes; et quae modo voverat, odit.* But it is impossible that men should not sooner or later have made reflections on so wretched a situation, and upon the calamities with which they were overwhelmed. The rich in particular must have soon perceived how much they suffered by a perpetual war, of which they alone supported all the expense, and in which, though all risked life, they alone risked any property. Besides, whatever color they might pretend to give their usurpations, they sufficiently saw that these usurpations were in the main founded upon false and precarious titles, and that what they had acquired by mere force, others could again by mere force wrest out of their hands, without leaving them the least room to complain of such a proceeding. Even those, who owed all their riches to their own industry, could scarce ground their acquisitions upon a better title. It availed them nothing to say, It was I built this wall; I acquired this spot by my labor. Who traced it out for you, another might object, and what right have you to expect payment at our expense for doing that we did not oblige you to do? Don’t you know that numbers of your brethren perish, or suffer grievously for want of what you have too much of, and that you should have had the express and unanimous consent of mankind to appropriate to yourself more of the common subsistence, more than you needed for yours? Destitute of valid reasons to justify, and sufficient forces to defend himself; crushing individuals with ease, but with equal ease crushed by banditti; one against all, and unable, on account of mutual jealousies, to unite with his equals against enemies united by the common hopes of pillage; the rich man, thus pressed by necessity, at last conceived the deepest project that ever entered the human mind: this was to employ in his favor the very forces that attacked him, to make allies of his enemies, to inspire them with other maxims, and make them adopt other institutions as favorable to his pretensions, as the law of nature was unfavorable to them. With this view, after laying before his neighbors all the horrors of a * Both rich and poor, shocked at their newfound ills, would fly from wealth, and hate what they had sought. (Ovid, Metamorphoses, XI, 127.) Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. Second Part 125 situation, which armed them all one against another, which rendered their possessions as burdensome as their wants, and in which no one could expect any safety either in poverty or riches, he easily invented specious arguments to bring them over to his purpose. ‘‘Let us unite,’’ said he, ‘‘to secure the weak from oppression, restrain the ambitious, and secure to every man the possession of what belongs to him: Let us form rules of justice and of peace, to which all may be obliged to conform, which shall give no preference to anyone, but may in some sort make amends for the caprice of fortune, by submitting alike the powerful and the weak to the observance of mutual duties. In a word, instead of turning our forces against ourselves, let us collect them into a sovereign power, which may govern us by wise laws, may protect and defend all the members of the association, repel common enemies, and maintain a perpetual concord and harmony among us.’’ Many fewer words of this kind would have sufficed to persuade men so uncultured and easily seduced, who had besides too many quarrels among themselves to live without arbiters, and too much avarice and ambition to live long without masters. All gladly offered their necks to the yoke, thinking they were securing their liberty; for though they had sense enough to perceive the advantages of a political constitution, they had not experience enough to see beforehand the dangers of it. Those among them who were best qualified to foresee abuses were precisely those who expected to benefit by them; even the soberest judged it requisite to sacrifice one part of their liberty to insure the rest, as a wounded man has his arm cut off to save the rest of his body. Such was, or must have been the origin of society and of law, which gave new fetters to the weak and new power to the rich; irretrievably destroyed natural liberty, fixed forever the laws of property and inequality; changed an artful usurpation into an irrevocable right; and for the benefit of a few ambitious individuals subjected the rest of mankind to perpetual labor, servitude, and misery. We may easily conceive how the establishment of a single society rendered that of all the rest absolutely necessary, and how, to withstand united forces, it became necessary for the rest of mankind to unite in their turn. Societies once formed in this manner, soon multiplied or spread to such a degree, as to cover the face of the earth; and not to leave a corner in the whole universe, where a man could throw off the yoke, and withdraw his head from under the often ill-conducted sword which he saw perpetually hanging over it. The civil law being thus become the common rule of citizens, the law of nature no longer obtained except between the different societies, where under the name of the law of nations, it was Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. 126 The Second Discourse modified by some tacit conventions to render commerce possible, and supply the place of natural compassion, which, losing by degrees all that influence over societies which it originally had over individuals, no longer exists but in some great souls, who consider themselves as citizens of the world, force the imaginary barriers that separate people from people, after the example of the sovereign being from whom we all derive our existence, and include the whole human race in their benevolence. Political bodies, thus remaining in a state of nature among themselves, soon experienced the inconveniencies that had obliged individuals to quit it; and this state became much more fatal to these great bodies, than it had been before to the individuals who now composed them. Hence those national wars, those battles, those murders, those reprisals, which make nature shudder and shock reason; hence all those horrible prejudices, which make it a virtue and an honor to shed human blood. The worthiest men learned to consider cutting the throats of their fellows as a duty; at length men began to butcher each other by thousands without knowing for what; and more murders were committed in a single action, and more horrible disorders at the taking of a single town, than had been committed in the state of nature during ages together upon the whole face of the earth. Such are the first effects we may conceive to have arisen from the division of mankind into different societies. Let us return to their institution. I know that several writers have assigned other origins to political society; as for instance, the conquests of the powerful, or the union of the weak; and it is no matter which of these causes we adopt in regard to what I am going to establish. That which I have just laid down, however, seems to me the most natural, for the following reasons. First, because, in the first case, the right of conquest being in fact no right at all, it could not serve as a foundation for any other right, the conqueror and the conquered ever remaining with respect to each other in a state of war, unless the conquered, restored to the full possession of their liberty, should freely choose their conqueror for their chief. Until then, whatever capitulations might have been made between them being founded upon violence, and thus ipso facto null and void, there could not have existed in this hypothesis either a true society, or a political body, or any other law but that of the strongest. Secondly, because these words strong and weak, are, in the second case, ambiguous; for during the interval between the establishment of the right of property or prior occupancy, and that of political government, the meaning of these terms is better expressed by the words poor and rich, as before the establishment of laws men in reality had no other means of subjecting their equals, but by invading their property, or by parting with some of their own Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. Second Part 127 property to them. Thirdly, because the poor having nothing but their liberty to lose, it would have been the height of madness in them to give up willingly the only blessing they had left without obtaining some consideration for it; whereas the rich being sensitive if I may say so, in every part of their possessions, it was much easier to do them mischief, and therefore more incumbent upon them to guard against it; and because, in fine, it is but reasonable to suppose that a thing has been invented by him to whom it could be of service, rather than by him to whom it must prove detrimental. Government in its infancy had no regular and permanent form. For want of a sufficient fund of philosophy and experience, men could see no further than the present inconveniencies, and never thought of providing for future ones except as they arose. In spite of all the labors of the wisest legislators, the political state still continued imperfect, because it was in a manner the work of chance; and, as the foundations of it were ill laid, time, though sufficient to reveal its defects and suggest the remedies for them, could never mend its original faults. It was always being mended; whereas they should have begun as Lycurgus did at Sparta, by clearing the ground and removing all the old materials, so that they could then put up a good edifice. Society at first consisted merely of some general conventions which all the members bound themselves to observe, and the performance of which the whole body guaranteed to every individual. Experience was necessary to show the great weakness of such a constitution, and how easy it was for those who infringed it to escape the conviction or chastisement of faults, of which the public alone was to be both the witness and the judge; the laws could not fail of being eluded a thousand ways; inconveniencies and disorders could not but multiply continually, until it was at last found necessary to think of committing to private persons the dangerous trust of public authority, and to magistrates the care of enforcing obedience to the decisions of the people. For to say that chiefs were elected before the confederacy was formed, and that the ministers of the laws existed before the laws themselves, is a supposition too ridiculous to deserve serious refutation. It would be equally unreasonable to imagine that men at first threw themselves into the arms of an absolute master, without any conditions or consideration on his side; and that the first means contrived by jealous and unconquered men for their common safety was to run headlong into slavery. In fact, why did they give themselves superiors, if it was not to be defended by them against oppression, and protected in their lives, liberties, and properties, which are in a manner the elements of their being? Now in the relations between man and man, the worst that can happen to one man being to see himself at the mercy of another, would it not have been contrary to Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. 128 The Second Discourse the dictates of good sense to begin by making over to a chief the only things they needed his assistance to preserve? What equivalent could he have offered them for so great a right? And had he presumed to exact it on pretense of defending them, would he not have immediately received the answer in the fable: What worse will an enemy do to us? It is therefore past dispute, and indeed a fundamental maxim of all political law, that people gave themselves chiefs to defend their liberty and not to be enslaved by them. If we have a Prince, said Pliny to Trajan, it is in order that he may keep us from having a master. Politicians argue in regard to the love of liberty with the same sophistry that philosophers do in regard to the state of nature; by the things they see they judge of things very different which they have never seen, and they attribute to men a natural inclination to slavery, on account of the patience with which the slaves within their notice bear the yoke; not reflecting that it is with liberty as with innocence and virtue, the value of which is not known but by those who possess them, and the taste for which is lost when they are lost. I know the charms of your country, said Brasidas to a satrap who was comparing the life of the Spartans with that of the Persepolites; but you cannot know the pleasures of mine. As an unbroken courser erects his mane, paws the ground, and rages at the bare sight of the bit, while a trained horse patiently suffers both whip and spur, just so the barbarian will never reach his neck to the yoke that civilized man carries without murmuring, but prefers the most stormy liberty to a peaceful slavery. It is not therefore by the servile disposition of enslaved nations that we might judge of the natural dispositions of man for or against slavery, but by the prodigies done by every free people to secure themselves from oppression. I know that the former are constantly crying up that peace and tranquillity they enjoy in their irons, and that miserrimam servitutem pacem appellant:* But when I see the latter sacrifice pleasures, peace, riches, power, and even life itself to the preservation of that one treasure so disdained by those who have lost it; when I see freeborn animals through a natural abhorrence of captivity dash their brains out against the bars of their prison; when I see multitudes of naked savages despise European pleasures, and brave hunger, fire and sword, and death itself to preserve their independence, I feel that it is not for slaves to argue about liberty. As to paternal authority, from which several have derived absolute government and every other mode of society, it is sufficient, without having recourse to Locke and Sidney, to observe that nothing in the world differs * ‘‘They call the most wretched slavery peace.’’ (Tacitus, Histories, IV, 17.) Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. Second Part 129 more from the cruel spirit of despotism than the gentleness of that authority, which looks more to the advantage of him who obeys than to the utility of him who commands; that by the law of nature the father continues master of his child no longer than the child stands in need of his assistance; that after that term they become equal, and that then the son, entirely independent of the father, owes him no obedience, but only respect. Gratitude is indeed a duty which we are bound to pay, but which benefactors cannot exact. Instead of saying that civil society is derived from paternal authority, we should rather say that it is to the former that the latter owes its principal force. No one individual was acknowledged as the father of several other individuals, until they settled about him. The father’s goods, which he can indeed dispose of as he pleases, are the ties which hold his children to their dependence upon him, and he may divide his substance among them in proportion as they shall have deserved by a continual deference to his commands. Now the subjects of a despotic chief, far from having any such favor to expect from him, as both themselves and all they have are his property, or at least are considered by him as such, are obliged to receive as a favor what he relinquishes to them of their own property. He does them justice when he strips them; he treats them with mercy when he suffers them to live. By continuing in this manner to test facts by right, we should discover as little solidity as truth in the voluntary establishment of tyranny; and it would be a hard matter to prove the validity of a contract which was binding only on one side, in which one of the parties should stake everything and the other nothing, and which could only turn out to the prejudice of him who had bound himself. This odious system is even today far from being that of wise and good monarchs, and especially of the kings of France, as may be seen by divers passages in their edicts, and particularly by that of a celebrated piece published in 1667 in the name and by the orders of Louis XIV. ‘‘Let it therefore not be said that the Sovereign is not subject to the laws of his Realm, since the contrary is a maxim of the law of nations which flattery has sometimes attacked, but which good princes have always defended as the tutelary divinity of their Realms. How much more reasonable is it to say with the sage Plato, that the perfect happiness of a State consists in the subjects obeying their prince, the prince obeying the laws, and the laws being equitable and always directed to the good of the public?’’ I shall not stop to consider whether, liberty being the noblest faculty of man, it is not degrading our nature, lowering ourselves to the level of brutes, who are the slaves of instinct, and even offending the author of our being, to renounce without reserve the most precious of his gifts, and to submit to committing all the crimes he has forbidden us, merely to gratify a mad or a cruel master; Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. 130 The Second Discourse and whether that sublime craftsman must be more irritated at seeing his work dishonored than at seeing it destroyed. I shall only ask what right those, who were not afraid thus to degrade themselves, could have to subject their posterity to the same ignominy, and renounce for them, blessings which come not from their liberality, and without which life itself must appear a burden to all those who are worthy to live. Pufendorf says that, as we can transfer our property from one to another by contracts and conventions, we may likewise divest ourselves of our liberty in favor of other men. This, in my opinion, is a very poor way of arguing; for, in the first place, the property I cede to another becomes a thing quite foreign to me, and the abuse of which can no way affect me; but it concerns me greatly that my liberty is not abused, and I cannot, without incurring the guilt of the crimes I may be forced to commit, expose myself to become the instrument of any. Besides, the right of property being of mere human convention and institution, every man may dispose as he pleases of what he possesses: but the case is otherwise with regard to the essential gifts of nature, such as life and liberty, which every man is permitted to enjoy, and of which it is doubtful at least whether any man has a right to divest himself: by giving up the one, we degrade our being; by giving up the other we annihilate it as much as it is our power to do so; and as no temporal enjoyments can indemnify us for the loss of either, it would be an offense against both nature and reason to renounce them for any consideration. But though we could transfer our liberty as we do our property, it would be quite different with regard to our children, who enjoy the father’s property only by the transmission of his right; whereas liberty being a blessing, which as men they hold from nature, their parents have no right to strip them of it; so that, just as to establish slavery it was necessary to do violence to nature, so it was necessary to alter nature to perpetuate such a right; and the jurisconsults, who have gravely pronounced that the child of a slave is born a slave, have in other words decided that a man will not be born a man. It therefore appears to me incontestibly true, that not only governments did not begin by arbitrary power, which is but the corruption and extreme term of government, and at length brings it back to the law of the strongest against which governments were at first the remedy; but even that, supposing they had begun in this manner, such power being illegal in itself could never have served as a foundation for social law, nor of course for the inequality it instituted. Without embarking now upon the inquiries which still remain to be made into the nature of the fundamental pact underlying every kind of Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. Second Part 131 government, I shall accept the common opinion, and confine myself here to holding the establishment of the political body to be a real contract between the multitude and the chiefs elected by it. A contract by which both parties oblige themselves to the observance of the laws that are therein stipulated, and form the ties of their union. The multitude having, in regard to their social relations, concentrated all their wills in one, all the articles, in regard to which this will expresses itself, become so many fundamental laws, which oblige without exception all the members of the State, and one of which regulates the choice and power of the magistrates appointed to look to the execution of the rest. This power extends to everything that can maintain the constitution, but extends to nothing that can alter it. To this power are added honors, that may render the laws and their ministers respectable; and the ministers are distinguished by certain prerogatives, which may recompense them for the heavy burdens inseparable from a good administration. The magistrate, on his side, obliges himself not to use the power with which he is entrusted except in conformity to the intention of his constituents, to maintain every one of them in a peaceable possession of his property, and upon all occasions prefer the public good to his own private interest. Before experience had shown, or knowledge of the human heart had made the abuses inseparable from such a constitution foreseeable, it must have appeared so much the more perfect, as those appointed to look to its preservation had themselves had most interest in it; for magistracy and its rights being built solely on the fundamental laws, as soon as these ceased to exist, the magistrates would cease to be legitimate, the people would no longer be bound to obey them, and, as the essence of the State did not consist in the magistrates but in the laws, each one would rightfully regain his natural liberty. A little reflection would afford us new arguments in confirmation of this truth, and the nature of the contract might alone convince us that it cannot be irrevocable: for if there were no superior power capable of guaranteeing the fidelity of the contracting parties and of obliging them to fulfill their mutual engagements, they would remain sole judges in their own cause, and each of them would always have a right to renounce the contract, as soon as he discovered that the other had broke the conditions of it, or that these conditions ceased to suit his private convenience. Upon this principle, the right of abdication may probably be founded. Now, to consider, as we do, only what is human in this institution, if the magistrate, who has all the power in his own hands, and who appropriates to himself all the advantages of the contract, has nonetheless a right to renounce his authority; how much Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. 132 The Second Discourse better a right should the people, who pay for all the faults of its chief, have to renounce their dependence upon him. But the shocking dissensions and disorders without number, which would be the necessary consequence of so dangerous a privilege, show more than anything else how much human governments stood in need of a more solid basis than that of mere reason, and how necessary it was for the public tranquillity, that the will of the Almighty should interpose to give to sovereign authority a sacred and inviolable character, which should deprive subjects of the fatal right to dispose of it. If mankind had received no other advantages from religion, this alone would be sufficient to make them adopt and cherish it, since it is the means of saving more blood than fanaticism has been the cause of spilling. But let us resume the thread of our hypothesis. The various forms of government owe their origin to the various degrees of inequality that existed between individuals at the time of their institution. Where a man happened to be preeminent in power, virtue, riches, or credit, he became sole magistrate, and the State assumed a monarchical form. If several of pretty equal eminence stood out over all the rest, they were jointly elected, and this election produced an aristocracy. Those whose fortune or talents were less unequal, and who had deviated less from the state of nature, retained in common the supreme administration, and formed a democracy. Time demonstrated which of these forms suited mankind best. Some remained altogether subject to the laws; others soon bowed their necks to masters. The former labored to preserve their liberty; the latter thought of nothing but invading that of their neighbors, jealous at seeing others enjoy a blessing that they themselves had lost. In a word, riches and conquest fell to the share of the one, and virtue and happiness to that of the other. In these various modes of government the offices at first were all elective; and when riches did not decide, the preference was given to merit, which gives a natural ascendancy, and to age, which is the parent of deliberateness in council, and experience in execution. The ancients among the Hebrews, and Gerontes of Sparta, the Senate of Rome, nay, the very etymology of our word Seigneur, show how much gray hairs were formerly respected. The oftener the choice fell upon old men, the oftener it became necessary to repeat it, and the more the trouble of such repetitions became sensible; intrigues took place; factions arose, the parties grew bitter; civil wars blazed forth; the lives of the citizens were sacrificed to the pretended happiness of the State; and things at last came to such a pass, as to be ready to relapse into their primitive confusion. The ambition of the principal men induced them to take advantage of these circumstances to perpetuate the Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. Second Part 133 hitherto temporary offices in their families; the people already inured to dependence, accustomed to ease and the conveniences of life, and too much enervated to break their fetters, consented to the increase of their slavery for the sake of securing their tranquillity; and it is thus that chiefs, become hereditary, contracted the habit of considering their offices as a family estate, and themselves as proprietors of those communities, of which at first they were but mere officers; of calling their fellow-citizens their slaves; of numbering them, like cattle, among their belongings; and of calling themselves the peers of gods, and kings of kings. By pursuing the progress of inequality in these different revolutions, we shall discover that the establishment of laws and of the right of property was the first term of it; the institution of magistrates the second; and the third and last the changing of legal into arbitrary power; so that the different states of the rich and poor were authorized by the first epoch; those of the powerful and weak by the second; and by the third those of master and slave, which formed the last degree of inequality, and the term in which all the rest at last end, until new revolutions entirely dissolve the government, or bring it back nearer to its legal constitution. To conceive the necessity of this progress, we are not so much to consider the motives for the establishment of the body politic, as the forms it assumes in its realization; and the faults with which it is necessarily attended: for those vices, which render social institutions necessary, are the same which render the abuse of such institutions unavoidable. And as laws (Sparta alone excepted, whose laws chiefly regarded the education of children, and where Lycurgus established such manners and customs, as made laws almost needless) are in general less strong than the passions, and restrain men without changing them, it would be no hard matter to prove that every government, which carefully guarding against all alteration and corruption should scrupulously comply with the purpose of its establishment, was set up unnecessarily; and that a country, where no one either eluded the laws, or made an ill use of magistracy, required neither laws nor magistrates. Political distinctions necessarily lead to civil distinctions. The inequality between the people and the chiefs increases so fast as to be soon felt by individuals, and appears among them in a thousand shapes according to their passions, their talents, and circumstances. The magistrate cannot usurp any illegal power without making for himself creatures with whom he must share it. Besides, citizens only allow themselves to be oppressed in proportion as hurried on by a blind ambition, and looking rather below than above them, they come to love authority more than independence. When Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. 134 The Second Discourse they submit to fetters, it is only to be the better able to fetter others in their turn. It is no easy matter to reduce to obedience a man who does not wish to command; and the most astute politician would find it impossible to subdue those men who only desire to be independent. But inequality easily gains ground among base and ambitious souls, ever ready to run the risks of fortune, and almost indifferent whether they command or obey, as she proves either favorable or adverse to them. Thus then there must have been a time, when the eyes of the people were bewitched to such a degree, that their rulers needed only to have said to the lowest of men, ‘‘Be great you and all your posterity,’’ to make him immediately appear great in the eyes of everyone as well as in his own; and his descendants took still more upon them, in proportion to their distance from him: the more distant and uncertain the cause, the greater the effect; the longer line of drones a family produced, the more illustrious it was reckoned. Were this a proper place to enter into details, I could easily explain in what manner inequalities of credit and authority become unavoidable among private persons (s) the moment that, united into one body, they are obliged to compare themselves one with another, and to note the differences which they find in the continual intercourse every man must have with his neighbor. These differences are of several kinds; but riches, nobility or rank, power, and personal merit, being in general the principal distinctions, by which men in society measure each other, I could prove that the harmony or conflict between these different forces is the surest indication of the good or bad original constitution of any State: I could show that among these four kinds of inequality, personal qualities being the source of all the rest, riches is that in which they ultimately terminate, because, being the most immediately useful to the prosperity of individuals, and the most easy to communicate, they are made use of to purchase every other distinction. By this observation we are enabled to judge with tolerable exactness, how much any people has deviated from its primitive institution, and what steps it has still to make to the extreme term of corruption. I could show how much this universal desire of reputation, of honors, of preference, with which we are all devoured, exercises, and compares our talents and our forces; how much it excites and multiplies our passions; and, by creating a universal competition, rivalry, or rather enmity among men, how many disappointments, successes, and catastrophes of every kind it daily causes among the innumerable aspirants whom it engages in the same competition. I could show that it is to this itch of being spoken of, to this fury of distinguishing ourselves which seldom or never gives us a moment’s respite, that we owe both the best and the worst things among us, our virtues Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. Second Part 135 and our vices, our sciences and our errors, our conquerors and our philosophers; that is to say, a great many bad things and a very few good ones. I could prove, in short, that if we behold a handful of rich and powerful men seated on the pinnacle of fortune and greatness, while the crowd grovel in darkness and misery, it is merely because the former value what they enjoy only because others are deprived of it; and that, without changing their condition, they would cease to be happy the minute the people ceased to be miserable. But these details would alone furnish sufficient matter for a more considerable work, in which we might weigh the advantages and disadvantages of every species of government, relatively to the rights of man in a state of nature, and might likewise unveil all the different faces under which inequality has appeared to this day, and may hereafter appear to the end of time, according to the nature of these several governments, and the revolutions which time must unavoidably occasion in them. We should then see the multitude oppressed by domestic tyrants in consequence of those very precautions taken by them to guard against foreign masters. We should see oppression increase continually without its being ever possible for the oppressed to know where it would stop, nor what lawful means they had left to check its progress. We should see the rights of citizens, and the liberties of nations extinguished by slow degrees, and the groans and protestations and appeals of the weak treated as seditious murmurings. We should see policy confine to a mercenary portion of the people the honor of defending the common cause. We should see taxes made necessary, the disheartened husbandman desert his field even in time of peace, and quit the plough to gird on the sword. We should see fatal and whimsical rules laid down for the code of honor. We should see the champions of their country sooner or later become her enemies, and perpetually holding their daggers to the breasts of their fellow-citizens. Nay the time would come when they might be heard to say to the oppressor of their country: Pectore si fratris gladium juguloque parentis Condere me jubeas, gravidaeque in viscera partu Conjugis, invita peragam tamen omnia dextra.* From the vast inequality of conditions and fortunes, from the great variety of passions and of talents, of useless arts, of pernicious arts, of * ‘‘If you order me to plunge my sword into my brother’s breast and into my father’s throat and into the vitals of my wife heavy with child, I shall do, nevertheless, all these things even though my hand is unwilling.’’ (Lucan, Pharsalia, I, 376–8.) Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. 136 The Second Discourse frivolous sciences, would issue clouds of prejudices equally contrary to reason, to happiness, to virtue. We should see the chiefs foment everything that tends to weaken men united in societies by dividing them; everything that, while it gives society an air of apparent harmony, sows in it the seeds of real dissension; everything that can inspire the different classes with mutual distrust and hatred by an opposition of their rights and interests, and so strengthen that power which controls them all. It is from the midst of this disorder and these revolutions, that despotism, gradually rearing up her hideous head, and devouring in every part of the State all that still remained sound and untainted, would at last succeed in trampling upon the laws and the people, and establish itself upon the ruins of the republic. The times immediately preceding this last alteration would be times of calamity and trouble; but at last everything would be swallowed up by the monster; and the people would no longer have chiefs or laws, but only tyrants. From this fatal moment all regard to virtue and manners would likewise disppear; for despotism, cui ex honesto nulla est spes,* tolerates no other master, wherever it reigns; the moment it speaks, probity and duty lose all their influence, and the blindest obedience is the only virtue to slaves. This is the last term of inequality, the extreme point which closes the circle and meets that from which we set out. It is here that all private men return to their primitive equality, because they are nothing; and that, subjects having no longer any law but the will of their master, nor the master any other law but his passions, all notions of good and principles of justice again disappear. This is when everything returns to the sole law of the strongest, and of course to a new state of nature different from that with which we began, inasmuch as the first was the state of nature in its purity, and this one the consequence of excessive corruption. There is, in other respects, so little difference between these two states, and the contract of government is so much dissolved by despotism, that the despot is master only so long as he continues the strongest, and that, as soon as they can expel him, they may do it without his having the least right to complain of their violence. The insurrection, which ends in the death or deposition of a sultan, is as juridical an act as any by which the day before he disposed of the lives and fortunes of his subjects. Force alone upheld him, force alone overturns him. Thus all things take place and succeed in their natural order; and whatever may be the upshot of these hasty and frequent revolutions, no one man has reason to complain of another’s injustice, but only of his own indiscretion or bad fortune. * ‘‘in which there is no hope afforded by honesty.’’ Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. Second Part 137 By thus discovering and following the lost and forgotten road, which man must have followed in going from the state of nature to the social state, by restoring, together with the intermediate positions which I have been just indicating, those which want of time obliges me to omit, or which my imagination has failed to suggest, every attentive reader must unavoidably be struck at the immense space which separates these two states. In this slow succession of things he may meet with the solution of an infinite number of problems in morality and politics, which philosophers are puzzled to solve. He will perceive that, the mankind of one age not being the mankind of another, the reason why Diogenes could not find a man was, that he sought among his contemporaries the man of a bygone period: Cato, he will then see, fell with Rome and with liberty, because he did not suit the age in which he lived; and the greatest of men served only to astonish that world, which would have cheerfully obeyed him, had he come into it five hundred years earlier. In a word, he will find himself in a condition to understand how the soul and the passions of men by insensible alterations change as it were their very nature; how it comes to pass, that in the long run our wants and our pleasures seek new objects; that, original man vanishing by degrees, society no longer offers to the eyes of the sage anything but an assemblage of artificial men and factitious passions, which are the work of all these new relations, and have no foundation in nature. What reflection teaches us on that score, observation entirely confirms. Savage man and civilized man differ so much at the bottom of their hearts and in their inclinations, that what constitutes the supreme happiness of the one would reduce the other to despair. The first sighs for nothing but repose and liberty; he desires only to live, and to be exempt from labor; nay, the ataraxy of the most confirmed Stoic falls short of his profound indifference to every other object. Civilized man, on the other hand, is always in motion, perpetually sweating and toiling, and racking his brains to find out occupations still more laborious: he continues a drudge to his last minute; nay, he courts death to be able to live, or renounces life to acquire immortality. He pays court to men in power whom he hates, and to rich men whom he despises; he sticks at nothing to have the honor of serving them; he boasts proudly of his baseness and their protection; and proud of his slavery, he speaks with disdain of those who have not the honor of sharing it. What a spectacle must the painful and envied labors of a European minister of state form in the eyes of a Caribbean! How many cruel deaths would not this indolent savage prefer to such a horrid life, which very often is not even sweetened by the pleasure of doing good? But to see the purpose of so many cares, his mind would first have to affix some meaning to these words power and reputation; he should Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. 138 The Second Discourse be apprized that there are men who set value on the way they are looked on by the rest of mankind, who know how to be happy and satisfied with themselves on the testimony of others rather than upon their own. In fact, the real source of all those differences is that the savage lives within himself, whereas social man, constantly outside himself, knows only how to live in the opinion of others; and it is, if I may say so, merely from their judgment of him that he derives the consciousness of his own existence. It is foreign to my subject to show how this disposition engenders so much indifference toward good and evil, notwithstanding such fine discourses on morality; how everything, being reduced to appearances, becomes mere art and mummery; honor, friendship, virtue, and often vice itself, of which we at last learn the secret of boasting; how, in short, ever asking others what we are, and never daring to ask ourselves, in the midst of so much philosophy, humanity and politeness, and such sublime moral codes, we have nothing but a deceitful and frivolous exterior, honor without virtue, reason without wisdom, and pleasure without happiness. It is sufficient that I have proved that this is certainly not the original state of man, and that it is merely the spirit of society, and the inequality which society engenders, that thus change and transform all our natural inclinations. I have endeavored to reveal the origin and progress of inequality, the institution and abuse of political societies, as far as these things are capable of being deduced from the nature of man by the mere light of reason, and independently of those sacred maxims which give the sanction of divine right to sovereign authority. It follows from this survey that inequality, almost non-existent among men in the state of nature, derives its force and its growth from the development of our faculties and the progress of the human mind, and at last becomes permanent and lawful by the establishment of property and of laws. It likewise follows that moral* inequality, authorized, solely by positive right,† clashes with natural right, whenever it is not in proportion to physical‡ inequality; a distinction which sufficiently determines what we are to think of that kind of inequality which obtains in all civilized nations, since it is evidently against the law of nature that children should command old men, and fools lead the wise, and that a handful should gorge themselves with superfluities, while the starving masses lack the barest necessities of life. * ‘‘Moral’’ should here be interpreted as meaning ‘‘social,’’ or ‘‘artificial.’’ † i.e., established laws. ‡ i.e., ‘‘natural.’’ Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. Notes 139 notes (i) A celebrated author,* by calculating the goods and the evils of human life and comparing the two sums, found that the last greatly exceeded the first, and that everything considered life to man was no such valuable present. I am not surprised at his conclusions; he drew all his arguments from the constitution of man in a civilized state. Had he looked back to man in a state of nature, it is obvious that the result of his inquiries would have been very different; that man would have appeared to him subject to very few evils but those of his own making, and that he would have acquitted nature. It has cost us much trouble to make ourselves so miserable. When on the one hand we consider the immense labors of mankind, so many sciences brought to perfection, so many arts invented, so many powers employed, so many abysses filled up, so many mountains leveled, so many rocks rent to pieces, so many rivers made navigable, so many tracts of land cleared, lakes emptied, marshes drained, enormous buildings raised upon the earth, and the sea covered with ships and sailors; and on the other weigh with ever so little attention the real advantages that have resulted from all these works to mankind; we cannot help being amazed at the vast disproportion observable between these things, and deplore the blindness of man, which, to feed his foolish pride and I don’t know what vain selfadmiration, makes him eagerly court and pursue all the miseries he is capable of feeling, and which beneficent nature had taken care to keep at a distance from him. That men are wicked, a sad and constant experience renders the proof of it unnecessary; man, however, is naturally good; I think I have demonstrated it; what then could have depraved him to such a degree, unless the changes that have happened in his constitution, the advantages he has made, and the knowledge he has acquired. Let us admire human society as much as we please, it will not be the less true that it necessarily leads men to hate each in proportion as their interests clash; to do each other apparent services, and in fact heap upon each other every imaginable mischief. What are we to think of a commerce, in which the interest of every individual dictates to him maxims diametrically opposite to those which the interest of the community recommends to the body of society; a commerce, in which every man finds his profit in the misfortunes of his neighbor? There is not, * This author was Maupertuis, whose theory appeared in the Essai de philosophie morale (1749). Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. 140 The Second Discourse perhaps, a single man in easy circumstances, whose death his greedy heirs, nay and too often his own children, do not secretly wish for; not a ship at sea, the loss of which would not be an agreeable piece of news for some merchant or another; not a house which a debtor would not be glad to see reduced to ashes with all the papers in it; not a nation, which does not rejoice at the misfortunes of its neighbors. It is thus we find our advantages in the ill fortune of our fellows, and that the loss of one man almost always constitutes the prosperity of another. But, what is still more dangerous, public calamities are ever the objects of the hopes and expectations of innumerable individuals. Some desire sickness, others mortality; some war, some famine. I have seen monsters of men weep for grief at the appearance of a plentiful season; and the great and fatal conflagration of London, which cost so many wretches their lives or their fortunes, may have made the fortune of more than ten thousand persons. I know that Montaigne finds fault with Demades the Athenian for having caused to be punished a workman who, selling his coffins very dear, was a great gainer by the deaths of his fellow-citizens. But Montaigne’s reason being, that by the same rule every man should be punished, it is plain that it confirms my argument. Let us therefore look through our frivolous displays of benevolence at what passes in the inmost recesses of the heart, and reflect on what must be that state of things, in which men are forced with the same breath to caress and to destroy each other, and in which they are born enemies by duty, and knaves by interest. Perhaps somebody will object that society is so formed that every man gains by serving the rest. That would be fine, if he did not gain still more by injuring them. There is no legitimate profit that is not exceeded by what may be made illegitimately, and we always gain more by hurting our neighbors than by doing them good. It is only a matter of finding a way to do it with impunity; and this is the end to which the powerful employ all their strength, and the weak all their cunning. Savage man, when he has dined, is at peace with all nature, and the friend of all his fellows. Does a dispute sometimes happen about a meal? He seldom comes to blows without having first compared the difficulty of conquering with that of finding his subsistence elsewhere; and, as pride has no share in the squabble, it ends in a few cuffs; the victor eats, the vanquished retires to seek his fortune, and all is quiet again. But with man in society it’s quite another story; in the first place, necessaries are to be provided, and then superfluities; delicacies follow, and then immense riches, and then subjects, and then slaves. He does not enjoy a moment’s relaxation; what is most extraordinary, the less natural and pressing are his wants, the more headstrong his passions become, and what is still worse, the greater is his power Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. Notes 141 of satisfying them; so that after a long run of prosperity, after having swallowed up many treasures and ruined many men, our hero will end up by cutting every throat, until he at last finds himself the sole master of the universe. Such is in miniature the moral picture, if not of human life, at least of the secret ambitions in the heart of every civilized man. Compare without prejudice the state of social man with that of the savage, and find out, if you can, how many inlets, besides his wickedness, his wants, his miseries, the former has opened to pain and death. If you consider the afflictions of the mind which prey upon us, the violent passions which waste and exhaust us, the excessive labors with which the poor are overburdened, the still more dangerous indolence, to which the rich give themselves up and which kill the one through want, and the other through excess. If you reflect a moment on the monstrous mixture, and pernicious manner of seasoning so many dishes; on the putrefied food; on the adulterated medicines, the tricks of those who sell them, the mistakes of those who administer them, the poisonous qualities of the vessels in which they are prepared; if you but think of epidemics bred by bad air among great numbers of men crowded together, or those occasioned by our delicate way of living, by our passing back and forth from the inside of our houses into the open air, the putting on and taking off our clothes with too little precaution, and by all those conveniences which our boundless sensuality has changed into necessary habits, and the neglect or loss of which afterwards costs us our life or our health; if you set down the conflagrations and earthquakes, which devouring or overturning whole cities destroy the miserable inhabitants by thousands; in a word, if you sum up the dangers with which all these causes are constantly menacing us, you will see how dearly nature makes us pay for the contempt we have showed for her lessons. I shall not here repeat what I have elsewhere said of the calamities of war; I only wish that sufficiently informed persons are willing or bold enough to make public the detail of the villainies committed in armies by the contractors for food and for hospitals; we should then plainly discover that their monstrous frauds, scarcely concealed, destroy more soldiers than actually fall by the sword of the enemy, so as to make the most gallant armies melt away. The number of those who every year perish at sea, by famine, by the scurvy, by pirates, by shipwrecks, would furnish matter for another very shocking calculation. Besides it is plain, that we are to place to the account of the establishment of property and therefore to that of society, the assassinations, poisonings, highway robberies, and even the punishments for these crimes; punishments, it is true, requisite to prevent greater evils, but which, by making the murder of one man prove the death of two, Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. 142 The Second Discourse double in fact the loss to the human species. How many are the shameful methods to prevent the birth of men, and cheat nature? Either by those brutal and depraved appetites which insult her most charming work, appetites which neither savages nor mere animals ever knew, and which could only spring in civilized countries from a corrupt imagination; or by those secret abortions, the worthy fruits of debauch and vicious notions of honor; or by the exposure or murder of multitudes of infants, victims of the poverty of their parents, or the barbarous shame of their mothers; or finally by the mutilation of those wretches, part of whose existence, with that of their whole posterity, is sacrificed to vain singsong, or, which is still worse, the brutal jealousy of some other men: a mutilation, which, in the last case, is doubly outrageous to nature, both by the treatment of those who suffer it, and by the service to which they are condemned.* But what if I undertook to show the human species attacked in its very source, and even in the holiest of all ties, in forming which nature is never listened to until fortune has been consulted, and social disorder confusing all virtue and vice, continence becomes a criminal precaution, and a refusal to give life to beings like oneself, an act of humanity? But without tearing open the veil that hides so many horrors, it is enough to point out the disease for which others will have to find a remedy. Let us add to this the great number of unwholesome trades which shorten life, or destroy health; such as the digging and preparing of metals and minerals, especially lead, copper, mercury, cobalt, arsenic, realgar;† those other dangerous trades, which every day kill so many men, for example, tilers, carpenters, masons, and quarrymen; let us, I say, unite all these things, and then we shall discover in the establishment and perfecting of societies the reasons for that diminution of the species, which so many philosophers have taken notice of. Luxury, which nothing can prevent among men who are avid for their own comforts and the deference of others, soon puts the finishing hand to the evils which society had begun; and on pretense of giving bread to the poor, whom it should never have made such, impoverishes all the rest, and sooner or later depopulates the State. Luxury is a remedy much worse than the disease which it pretends to cure; or rather is in itself the worst of all diseases; both in great and small States. To maintain those crowds of servants and wretches which it creates, * A passage on arranged marriages, which first appeared in the posthumous edition of 1782, is here omitted. † Arsenic monosulphide; found in the dust of certain caves. Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. Notes 143 it crushes and ruins the farmer and the townsman; not unlike those scorching south winds, which covering both plants and foliage with devouring insects rob the useful animals of subsistence, and carry famine and death with them wherever they blow. From society and the luxury engendered by it, spring the liberal and mechanical arts, commerce, letters, and all those superfluities which make industry flourish, and enrich and ruin nations. The reason for such ruin is very simple. It is plain that agriculture, by its very nature, must be the least lucrative of all arts, because its products being of the most indispensable necessity for all men, their price must be proportionate to the abilities of the poorest. From the same principle it may be gathered, that in general arts are lucrative in the inverse ratio of their usefulness, and that in the end of the most necessary must come to be the most neglected. From this we may form a judgment of the true advantages of industry, and of the real effects of its progress. Such are the evident causes of all the miseries into which opulence at length precipitates the most celebrated nations. In proportion as industry and arts spread and flourish, the despised husbandman, loaded with taxes necessary for the support of luxury, and condemned to spend his life between labor and hunger, leaves his fields to seek in town the bread he should take to it. The more our capital cities strike with wonder the stupid eye of the common people, the greater reason is there to weep, the countryside abandoned, fields lie uncultivated, and the high roads crowded with unfortunate citizens turned beggars or robbers, and doomed, sooner or later to lay down their wretched lives on the wheel or the dunghill. It is thus, that while States grow rich on one hand, they grow weak, and are depopulated on the other; and the most powerful monarchies, after innumerable labors to enrich and depopulate themselves, fall at last a prey to some poor nation, which has yielded to the fatal temptation of invading them, and then grows opulent and weak in its turn, until it is itself invaded and destroyed by some other. I wish somebody would condescend to inform us what could have produced those swarms of barbarians, which during so many ages overran Europe, Asia, and Africa? Was it to the activity of their arts, the wisdom of their laws, the excellence of their State they owed so prodigious an increase? I wish our learned men would be so kind as to tell us, why instead of multiplying to such a degree, these fierce and brutal men, without sense or science, without restraint, without education, did not murder each other every minute in quarreling for the spontaneous productions of their fields and woods? Let them tell us how these wretches could have the assurance to Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. 144 The Second Discourse look in the face such skillful men as we were, with so fine a military discipline, such excellent codes, and such wise laws. Why, in short, since society has been perfected in the northern climates, and so much pains have been taken to instruct the inhabitants in their duties to one another, and the art of living happily and peaceably together, do we no longer see them produce anything like those numberless hosts, which they formerly used to send forth? I am afraid that somebody may at last take it into his head to answer me by saying, that truly all these great things, namely arts, sciences, and laws, were very wisely invented by men, as a salutary plague, to prevent the too great multiplication of mankind, lest this world, which was given us should at length become too small for its inhabitants. What then? Must societies be abolished? Must meum and tuum be annihilated, and must man go back to living in forests with the bears? This would be a deduction in the manner of my adversaries, which I choose to anticipate rather than permit them the shame of drawing it. O you, by whom the voice of heaven has not been heard, and who think your species destined only to finishing in peace this short life; you, who can lay down in the midst of cities your fatal acquisitions, your restless spirits, your corrupted hearts and unbridled desires, take up again, since it is in your power, your ancient and primitive innocence; retire to the woods, there to lose the sight and remembrance of the crimes committed by your contemporaries; nor be afraid of debasing your species, by renouncing its enlightenment in order to renounce its vices. As for men like me, whose passions have irretrievably destroyed their original simplicity, who can no longer live upon grass and acorns, or without laws and magistrates; all those who were honored in the person of their first parent with supernatural lessons; those, who discover, in the intention to give immediately to human actions a morality which otherwise they must have been so long in acquiring, the reason of a precept indifferent in itself, and utterly inexplicable in every other system; those, in a word, who are convinced that the divine voice has called all men to the enlightenment and happiness of the celestial intelligences; all such will endeavor to deserve the eternal reward promised their obedience, by practicing those virtues to the practice of which they oblige themselves in learning to know them. They will respect the sacred bonds of those societies to which they belong; they will love their fellows, and will serve them to the utmost of their power; they will religiously obey the laws, and all those who make or administer them; they will above all things honor those good and wise princes who find means to prevent, cure, or palliate the crowd of evils and abuses always ready to overwhelm us; they will animate the zeal of those worthy chiefs, by showing them without fear of flattery the imporRousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. Notes 145 tance of their talk, and the rigor of their duties. But they will not for that reason have any less contempt for a social organization which cannot subsist without the assistance of so many men of worth, who are oftener wanted than found; and from which, in spite of all their cares, there always spring more real calamities than even apparent advantages. (k) This appears to me as clear as daylight, and I cannot conceive whence our philosophers can derive all the passions they attribute to natural man. Except the bare physical necessities, which nature herself requires, all our other needs are merely the effects of habit, before which they were not needs, or of our cravings; and we don’t crave that which we are not in a condition to know. Hence it follows that as savage man longs for nothing but what he knows, and knows nothing but what he actually possesses or can easily acquire, nothing can be so calm as his soul, or so confined as his understanding. (l)* Mr. Locke, in fine, proves at most that there may be in man a motive to live with the woman when she has a child; but he by no means proves that there was any necessity for his living with her before her delivery and during the nine months of her pregnancy; if a pregnant woman comes to be indifferent to the man by whom she is pregnant during these nine months, if she even comes to be entirely forgotten by him, why should he assist her after her delivery? Why should he help her to rear a child, which he does not know to be his, and whose birth he neither foresaw nor planned? It is evident that Mr. Locke supposes the very thing in question: for we are not inquiring why man should continue to live with the woman after her delivery, but why he should continue to attach himself to her after conception. The appetite satisfied, man no longer stands in need of any particular woman, nor the woman of any particular man. The man does not have the slightest concern, nor perhaps the slightest notion of what must follow his act. One goes this way, the other that, and there is little reason to think that at the end of nine months they should remember ever to have known each other: for this kind of remembrance, by which one individual gives the preference to another for the act of generation, requires, as I have proved in the text, a greater degree of progress or corruption in the human understanding, than man can be supposed to have attained in the state of animality we * Only the last part of this note is given here. Rousseau is replying to Locke’s contention that men and women naturally stayed together in families because of the dependency of their young. Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. 146 The Second Discourse here speak of. Another woman therefore may serve to satisfy the new desires of the man fully as conveniently as the one he has already known; and another man in like manner satisfy the woman’s, supposing her subject to the same appetite during her pregnancy, a thing which may be reasonably doubted. But if in the state of nature, the woman, when she has conceived, no longer feels the passion of love, the obstacle to her associating with men becomes still greater, since she no longer has any occasion for the man by whom she is pregnant, or for any other. There is therefore no reason on the man’s side for his coveting the same woman, nor on the woman’s for her coveting the same man. Locke’s argument therefore falls to the ground, and all the logic of this philosopher has not secured him from the mistake committed by Hobbes and others. They had to explain a fact in the state of nature; that is, in a state in which every man lived by himself without any connection with other men, and no one man had any motives to associate with any other, nor perhaps, which is still more serious, men in general to herd together; and it never came into their heads to look back beyond the times of society, that is to say, those times in which men have always had motives for herding together, and in which one man has often motives for associating with a particular man, or a particular woman. (o) We must not confuse selfishness with self-love; they are two very distinct passions both in their nature and in their effects. Self-love is a natural sentiment, which inclines every animal to look to his own preservation, and which, guided in man by reason and qualified by pity, is productive of humanity and virtue. Selfishness is but a relative and factitious sentiment, engendered in society, which inclines every individual to set a greater value upon himself than upon any other man, which inspires men with all the mischief they do to each other, and is the true source of what we call honor. This position well understood, I say that selfishness does not exist in our primitive state, in the true state of nature; for every man in particular considering himself as the only spectator who observes him, as the only being in the universe which takes any interest in him, as the only judge of his own merit, it is impossible that a sentiment arising from comparisons, which he is not in a condition to make, should spring up in his mind. For the same reason, such a man must be a stranger to hatred and spite, passions which only the opinion of our having received some affront can excite; and as it is contempt or an intention to injure, and not the injury itself that constitutes an affront, men who don’t know how to set a value upon themselves, or compare themselves one with another, may do each other a great deal of mischief, as often as they can expect any advantage by doing it, Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. Notes 147 without ever offending each other. In a word, man seldom considering his fellows in any other light than he would animals of another species, may plunder another man weaker than himself, or be plundered by another that is stronger, without considering these acts of violence otherwise than as natural events, without the least emotion of insolence or spite, and without any other passion than grief at his failure, or joy at his good success. (p) It is very remarkable, that for so many years past that the Europeans have been toiling to make the savages of different parts of the world conform to their manner of living, they have not as yet been able to win over one of them, not even with the assistance of the Christian religion; for though our missionaries sometimes make Christians, they never make civilized men of them. There is no getting the better of their invincible reluctance to adopt our manners and customs. If these poor savages are as unhappy as some people would have them, by what inconceivable depravity of judgment is it that they so constantly refuse to be governed as we are, or to live happy among us; whereas we read in a thousand places that Frenchmen and other Europeans have voluntarily taken refuge, nay, spent their whole lives among them, without ever being able to quit so strange a kind of life; and that even very sensible missionaries have been known to regret with tears the calm and innocent days they had spent among those men we so much despise. Should it be observed that they are not enlightened enough to judge soundly of their condition and ours, I must answer, that the valuation of happiness is not so much the business of the understanding as of feeling. Besides, this objection may still more forcibly be turned against ourselves; for our ideas are more remote from that disposition of mind requisite for us to conceive the relish, which the savages find in their way of living, than the ideas of the savages are from those by which they may conceive the relish we find in ours. In fact, very few observations are enough to show them that all our labors are confined to two objects, namely the conveniences of life and the esteem of others. But how shall we be able to imagine that kind of pleasure, which a savage takes in spending his days alone in the heart of a forest, or in fishing, or in blowing into a wretched flute without ever being able to fetch a single note from it, or ever giving himself any trouble to learn how to make a better use of it?* (s) Nay, this rigorous equality of the state of nature, even if it were practicable in civil society, would clash with distributive justice; and as all the * The remainder of this note is not given here. Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved. 148 The Second Discourse members of the State owe it services in proportion to their talents and abilities, they should be distinguished in proportion to their services. It is in this sense we must understand a passage of Isocrates, in which he extols the primitive Athenians for having distinguished which of the two following kinds of equality was the more useful, that which consists in sharing the same advantages indifferently among all the citizens, or that which consists in distributing them to each according to his merit. These able politicians, adds the orator, banishing that unjust inequality which makes no difference between the good and the bad, inviolably adhered to that which rewards and punishes every man according to his merit. But in the first place there never existed a society so corrupt as to make no difference between the good and the bad; and in those points concerning morals, where the law can prescribe no measure exact enough to serve as a rule to magistrates, it is with the greatest wisdom that in order not to leave the fate or the rank of citizens at their discretion, it forbids them to judge of persons, and leaves actions alone to their discretion. There are no mores, except those as pure as those of the old Romans, that can bear censors, and such a tribunal among us would soon throw everything into confusion. It belongs to public esteem to mark a difference between good and bad men; the magistrate is judge only as to strict law; whereas the multitude is the true judge of manners; an upright and even an intelligent judge in that respect; a judge which may indeed sometimes be imposed upon, but can never be corrupted. The rank therefore of citizens ought to be regulated, not according to their personal merit, for this would be putting it in the power of magistrates to make almost an arbitrary application of the law, but according to the real services they render to the State, since these will admit of a more exact estimation. Rousseau, J. (2002). The social contract and the first and second discourses. ProQuest Ebook Central Created from unimelb on 2020-09-23 20:00:22. Copyright © 2002. Yale University Press. All rights reserved.