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Today were going to, lets talk about The Enlightenment.

Im going to do so by looking at a German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, writing in the second half of the 1700s really when there was no Germany yet. I think thats important for everybody to remember. That German speaking Europe is a whole bunch of principalities with some strong big states like Prussia, Austria, Bavaria. But theres no unified Germany yet. And Kant is writing this text, which weve assigned for the course, What is Enlightenment?, as his attempt to articulate why the progress, in education progress, in knowledge progress, in thinking is not only good for individuals, but will it have a salutary effect on society. Lots of the leaders of these societies were very worried about enlightenment because they thought as people became more educated, as people became more independent, they might actually not want to be subjects to kings anymore, or subjects to aristocrats. And so, Kant on the one hand is saying, enlightenment is really important. Its something we need to extenuate, emphasize to, to energize. On the other hand he wants to say, dont worry about it. [LAUGH] If youre, if youre member of the elite, you have nothing to fear from enlightenment because enlightenment in the end can be a powerful ingredient in the increase of power for the whole state, for the whole society. These two magically, powerful thinkers in the middle of the 1700s, late 1700s Rousseau and Kant. so, 17, 1784 is when Kant writes, writes the, What is Enlightenment? What happens, whats the big event in the 1780s? Alright. French, French Revolution. When is the French Revolution? 1789. 1789. Okay, there we go. Thats a date that we all should know. Think, think, think. Thats going to be very helpful to us, alright? This is a Euro, were very kind of, Euro snobs in this class. so 1776, okay. 1789, thats really an important date for us. So, what were doing is reading two texts here or three really, prior to the French Revolution, which changes the world of culture, dramatically, and politics, and economics. As does 1776, but thats a different course. So What is Enlightenment? is, as I said, a small text of Kants. Its even a work of journalism. Today, we, we need to understand a little bit about the philosophical context that Kant operated in. In some ways, the intellectual context of the 18th century, to which he is responding. May be I should say a word about enlightenment from our

perspective at least from, I should say, my perspective as your professor. There are lots of definitions of enlightenment. Here is one I think that you can find useful for the, for the duration of this course, and perhaps even beyond. And that is enlightenment is the project to make the world more of a home for human beings. Enlightenment is a project to make the world more of a home for human beings through the use of reason. Through the use of reason. Thats really important because making the world more of a home for us, that is reducing its dangers, bringing out its potential through the use of reason, is going to demand science, is going to demand education, and is going to demand certain call for freedom that will allow people to transform the world to make it more hospitable for human beings. The enlightenment also though is a social movement. It is not just a bunch of big shot philosophers talking about big ideas, its a whole range of writers who take Voltaires injunction to ecrasez linfame which really means, well it means, squash out infamy. But it, it, it means, get rid of all the nonsense. Get rid of all the bologna getting in the way of progress. And for many journalists, for many small time intellectuals, we could call them, this just means that showing that people who are already full of themselves, people who have power and prestige, and a certain kind of snob appeal, [LAUGH] that those people are just nonsense and we have to get rid of them. We have to show that we can do better than that. So, the enlightenment is a philosophical side, and then theres this kind of journalistic, social movement side. Kant is responding to both of those things in this essay. What is enlightenment? Before we dig into the essay a little bit, I just want to say a little bit more about Kants philosophical concerns and, and what drove those concerns. Kant describes himself, and youll see this on, one of the, the slides well show you during the course of this video, as steering a middle course for philosophy. Steering a middle course for philosophy. What did that mean? It meant for Kant that he would defend reason, defend science, defend this new form of enlightenment. But also he said, he would make room for faith, make room for belief. He wanted to have his cake and eat it too, if we can use that expression. History of philosophy from

Plato to Kant is consumed with the problem of how do you, how do you connect the ideal and the real? For Plato it was the ideal forms, the ideas, sometimes you call them, how are they related to the real. In Kants time, that question took the form of a battle about skepticism. And I want to give you a little bit of background about that before we go into more into Kant proper. The mona pre, the battle skepticism can be framed beginning with Descartes. Rene Descartes, who wrote famously on the discourse on the method a sentence that everybody who study a little philosophy should remember. And that is, I think, therefore I am, this is Descartes. I think, therefore I am. What did her mean by that? He meant that, he could doubt everything around him. He could doubt that this was really a book case, he could doubt that he was really in the room now that I am talking to you. These are could doubt because maybe I am dreaming. But one thing I cannot doubt, Descartes said, is that I am doubting. And doubting, for Descartes, is a form of thinking. So, this becomes the bedrock for Descartes. I think, therefore I am. So for Descartes, you can keep skepticism at bay. Keep skepticism at bay by the certainty of your own subjective thinking existence, doubting existence. And on the basis of that clear certainty of my, of ones own existence, you build up other clear and distinct ideas. This is what he called the kind of bedrock of thinking on which you can then build secure notions of science, of calculation. Especially of mathematics, of optics. And you can keep skepticism at bay because you are building on something secure. Clear and distinct rational ideas that must be true because they are part of the apparatus of our thinking, the logic of, of our minds. So, thats Descartes on one side. On the other side, you have Locke in the English Enlightenment, if I can use this shorthand. He didnt say I feel, therefore I am, but he should have said that I guess. In other words, Locke thought what we get knowledge not by closing our eyes and thinking really hard about what must be true. For Locke, we get our knowledge by, through experience. We want to know if this is real, we tap on it enough, we tap on it enough our hand starts hurting, gosh thats real. We want, we, we, we get our knowledge by more and more sensation, by more and more experience, by more and more experiments. And so for Locke, the way you keep skepticism at bay is by piling up experience. Experience leading to knowledge.

Now David Hume came along and close to Kants time. And argued that, well, experience didnt really give you knowledge. It really just gave you habit. It just gave you customs that you got used to. So, I get used to this being hard. And thats all it is. Its just a custom. Its just a habit. Its not something with a foundation. And thats a new kind of almost we can call imperasist skepticism that really worried Kant. So when Kant was writing his major philosophical works, he was trying, he said, to steer a course between the rationalism of Descartes and the empiricism of Locke and Hume to, to actually make a place for clear and distinct ideas that you understand by really thinking hard, and also experience that you get from being out in the world and registering yours, these sensations. Kant said, I need to def, create boundaries around reason, to make room for faith. I need to steer a middle course. And Kant is an awfully complex thinker who write, who wrote Mammoth Works, the critique of pure reason, the critique of practical reason, the critique of judgment. These are his great major works, as well as a slew of other important essays, and so we cant go through them all here. And by any means, all I want to give you is one vehicle through which Kant steered this middle course. And thats what was his, really his two world theory. That is, for, for Kant, in order to have your cake and eat it, too, in order to have a belief in ideas as well as in experience, all you had to do was to understand that we have knowledge of one side of the world. He called it the phenomenal side. And we have belief in things in themselves, things that not just as they appear to us but things in themselves, that he called the Noumenon Side. So, the knowledge piece, the phenomenal piece for Kant was we, through, how we see the world, through what he called our categories of perception. I put my glasses on because for Kant, the world makes sense for us. We have knowledge of the world because our minds are, if you will, our glasses organize the world for us, in space-time categories, in other kinds of co, categories because the world makes sense to us because our minds construct the world as a sensible place. And then, we could actually understand the world and have rules about it because its all organized for us, by our space-time glasses if you will. By our minds. Knowledge for Kant comes from our construction of the world as a sensible place. And that means we can make predictions, we can

build bridges that dont fall down. We can make clocks that keep the right time. All of this is about the phenomenal world. And then, some people come along and say, but is that the real world? Is that the deepest world? And Kant says, well, I cant actually get my glasses off. I cant get, I cant see the world without my mind. But, I know there must be something there when my mind isnt seeing the world. This is the noumenal world. The noumenal world. For Kant, that was the world of faith. The world where you believe in the immortality of the soul, your salvation, the love of God, the simple truth at peasants nose, Kant sometimes said. Thats the noumenal world, the world of things in themselves. You cant disprove that with science. You cant prove it with science either. It is the world of faith. The noumenal world is the world of faith, and the phenomenal world is the world of science. They can coexist, Kant said. I, Kant, have steered a middle course between them. They both are valid. The enlightenment doesnt threaten faith because faith is about things in themselves. And nobody knows that for sure, but you can feel it as deeply as possible in your heart. And the phenomenal world is about things that we can test, things that we can calculate, things that we have organized through our minds, through our, if you will, space-time glasses. So in What is Enlightenment, Kant is writing having already done this philosophical groundwork, if you will. And having done that philosophical groundwork in the enlightenment kind of saying, we must liberate ourselves from immaturity. If you remember in the very beginning of what is enlightenment, Kant says, enlightenment is mans release from his self incurred tutelage. And he says, dare to know, dare to know. Have the courage to use your own reason. That Kant says is the model of the enlightenment. And for Kant, that means the enlightenment provides you with maturity, autonomy, the ability simply to think for yourself. And that for Kant is a precious intellectual and moral ability, moral capacity. Kant says in, in paragraph nine of What is Enlightenment?, the touchstone of everything that can be concluded as a law for a people lies in the question of whether the people could have enclosed such a law on itself. Well talk about that next time, and I look forward to it.

So today, we're going to go onto Rousseau's second discourse, the Discourse on the Origins of Inequality. you'll see that this is a, a more political work. a work in which Rousseau sketches out the origins of political society. And, the origins of the state. I want now to give you a quotation from Rousseau a-, as he describes how he Began his work on the second discourse remember we did something similar about his reactions to beginning the discourse on the arts and sciences. He says, "For all the rest of the day, wandering deep into the forest, I sought and I found the vision of those primitive times, the history of which I proudly traced." I, Rousseau, I demolish the petty lies of mankind. I dare to strip man's nature naked to follow the progress of time and trace the things which have distorted it. And by comparing man as he had made himself with man as he is by nature I showed him in his pretended perfection, to the true source of his misery. That's the key. I showed him in his pretended perfection, progress the true source of his misery Exalted by these sublime meditations my soul soared toward Divinity. And from whose height I looked down on my fellow men, pursuing their blind path of their prejudice, as there are errors in there, misfortunes, and there are crimes. I cried to them, he says, in a voice they could not hear. Madmen who ceaselessly complain of nature. learn that all your misfortunes, all your misfortunes arise from yourselves. Madmen, don't blame nature,. It is your cells, your distance from nature, your corruption of nature, which is your problem. This is the beginning of the second discour. That was just how Rousseau described. Writing a second discourse in his confessions. You can't have coherent thinking without an idea of nature cuz you need nature to do something. You need, the idea of nature does work. And everyone who says, Rousseau, the Rousseauians claim everyone who says they no longer have a concept of nature, they're beyond that, they've troubled it, they've critiqued it, they've dialectically negated it. All of them are hypocritical or just not very smart from the Rousseau perspective. They have an idea of nature, they just don't want to show what it is. Because without an idea of nature, you can't have a place from which to critique the things that are your enemies. Tour, the things you don't like This is the Rousseauian view. Without some, place from which you criticize You have no, leverage for critique. So, you can for example, and this is very much in Rousseau's mind, you can't have an idea of

corruption. Unless you have an idea of nature. So if you say this politician in Chicago is corrupt, and someone says to you oh, my God you have never been to Chicago. That's like saying the sun is hot. What you're saying is that it is natural in Chicago for politicians to be corrupt, right? That it's just what people do in Chicago. That's the nature of the Chicago politics. In Rosseau's preface to his Second Discourse, the On the Origins of Inequality, he says there is, I sense, an age at which the individual human being Would want to stop. You will seek the age at which you wish your species had stopped. And what he means by that is the good parts of our nature have begun to flower but the evils parts have not yet found development or the corruption has not yet set in. And he says when we look at that period. When we are on the cusp of corruption but not yet there, in other words we have begun to show our potential for good but not for evil, he says "This sentiment that arises must serve as praise of your first ancestors." The criticism of your contemporaries, and the dread of those who will have the misfortune to come after you. I'm paraphrasing, I think, at the end there. so, it, it is meant, Russo's picture of the natural, of this point in our history and when there was a balance in our lives, that is meant as a criticism of the present and a warning about the future. Rousseau says early on in the second discourse that there are two principles prior to reason. One is interest in self-preservation And the second is the natural repugnance at seeing another sentient being suffer. And now the interest in self preservation's pretty clear. When in danger, we wanna, we wanna take care of ourselves. You know, so if we see a scary thing we flee. or if we have to, we fight. But Rousseau thinks most of the time we can escape. we can hide, w can get away. We try to take care of ourselves, we try, to keep ourselves alive. The second one, the most interesting perhaps is because the natural repugnance at seeing ascension being suffer. He talks about how an animal, if it passes another animal who is dying on the road or in the woods. we'll kind of shy away, right, we'll move away cuz it, it's, it's natural a version to see any other creature with feelings, suffer. And that second piece is going to be very important for Rousseau. it's really the, at the core of where morality comes from !not wanting to see another hu-, another sentient being, not a human being necessarily but any, Any creature with feelings to see that creature suffer

Rousseau gets off some barbs against his fellow intellectuals early on in the second discourse. He writes, most of our ills are of our own making. We would get rid of most of all of them if we would retain the simple, uniform and solitary way of life described to us by nature. If it is de, destined for us to be healthy Then, I almost dare assert, here is the barb, the state of reflection is a state against nature. The state of reflection is a state of, against nature. And the man who meditates, Rousseau writes, the man who meditates is a depraved animal Animal, and some of his friendly actually thought that he was thinking about them when he wrote that, and of course readers for the last couple hundred years or so said, well Rosseau himself then would fall into that category. And the answer is, of course, he knows he's a person who meditates. He doesn't think he's pure. He doesn't think he's living the natural life. He is a person of reflection, but his re flection is meant to move him away From this pursuit of progress which is in fact resultant pursuit of perversion or corruption. Resource picture of early human beings is one where human beings are much closer to other animals then they are when we get civilized. Here is a picture of, of sexual moray. This, is one where promiscuity arranged because there is no sense of ongoing connection, no sense of monogamy or anything of that kind. He says in the primitive state Everyone bedded down at random and often for only a single night. When I'm teaching this class, at a university, a residential university this always gets a lot of giggles, as it seems to describe college life. Everyone bedded down at random, and often for only a single night. Males and females united fortuitously, Rousseau writes, according to chance encounters, opportunity and desire, without speech being an especially necessary interpreter of what they had to tell one other. Isn't that nicely put? Without speech being an especially necessary interpreter of what they had to tell one other; they parted just as readily. They parted just as readily. I'm reading, I should remind you, from the. A translation by Victor Gourevitch which is probably, may be different from the one you find online. so in those early days, we're pre-family, we're pre-romantic attachments and You, we're really pre-social attached, where people encounter fortuitously and then they go on their way, they go on their way. but there is in even in these early days that notion of the aversion of seeing another. a creature suffer, that leads to what we so called compassion sometimes he calls it pity he says pity a disposition suited to being as weak and subject to as so many ills as we are. A virtue all the more

universal and useful as is precedes of all reflection in him. In him. So the natural beast themselves sometimes show evident signs of it, of pity that is. This is very important because for Rousseau, pity precedes reflection. We don't care about somebody else's suffering because we think about it. We care about it because of an intinctual, an instinctive. Natural reaction and pity compassion or, or, or is not dependent on, on our appreciation of the status of the other who's, who's suffering. We feel just naturally that fact that they suffer is all we need to know. The fact that they are in pain is all we need to care about in order for that instinct, that natural feeling of pity to kick in. Why is this so important? Why is he talking about this in an essay on the origins of inequality? Because it's inequality that makes us more and more strangers to one another. It's inequality that creates a dynamic That's not based in self preservation and compassion. it's inequality that actually creates a dynamic of further and further separation of human beings from one to the other and also, increases our, satisfaction at seeing other people suffer. That's the great perversion that goes along with inequality and we'll get to that in a few minutes. That is, that with, inequality, we feel if we have more stuff, we feel superior because we see other people who suffer Are own pleasure is augmented by the difference we have from those who are poorer than we are. We'll get to that in a minute, but that's why Rousseau is linking pity, this natural instinct, to inequality because inequality reduces the opportunities for compassion and increases the opportunities for the infliction of pain. Inequality, Rousseau underscores. is depe, increased by society. In the woods, in the forests, in the nuh, state of nature when we, we're, we're are all not the same, but we don't compare ourselves one to the other. That's so important for Rousseau. When you just run away from people. You climb a tree and hide. Or you do something so you're not constantly in comparison. You are not measuring yourself against another, you are off to the next encounter. Only when you are in society when people start looking at each other trying to be someone else for another, act for another, only in such a situation will inequality r eally begin to increase in dynamic fashion. He says that it will be evident how much smaller the difference between man and man must be in the state of nature than in the state of society. And how much natural inequality in the human species must increase as a result of instituted inequality. Notice that. Na, natural inequality

in the human species Must increase as a result of instituted inequality. That's really important for me. So, we'd layer on inequalities in, in society. And so, we're Rousseau in, having set off some of these or set out some of these Marker is about, what is a natural human being. What are some of the instinctive components of human beings This is in Part one In Part two, he really turns to the origins of society. There is, of course, inequality in the preist society stage That is, some people are faster than others, some people are taller than others, some people are stronger. But it doesn't matter so much, cuz we don't compare ourselves to one to the other, cuz we're not living in proximity, we don't have relationships. Only in society. Do we create a dynamic of inequality? And so, the first sentence of part two of the discourse is, the first man ha- who, having enclosed a piece of ground, to whon it occurred to say, this is mine, and found people sufficiently simple to believe him, was the true founder of civil society. So the true founder of civil society is the person who creates property. See that? He puts a, a stick in the ground and says, this is mine, and then got other people to recognize that, stupid enough, simple enough to believe him. That is the founder of civil society Hardly heroic, it's, someone who pulls the wool over others, the eyes of For other people. That's all we have time for today we'll, we'll pick things up next time when we move on, along the syllabus to the next set of readings. See you then !


So Rousseau is, is tracing this origin of society and he begins to sketch out in the second part what it was like when, when we, people first began living together and he says the following. Everything begins to change in appearance. The more they see each other, we see each other really, human beings. The more they see each other, the less they can do without seeing one another still more. And for Rousseau, that's both a sweet thing, and of course a very dangerous thing. The more they see one another, the less they can do without seeing one another still more. A tender and sweet sentiment steals into the soul, and at the least obstacle becomes an impetuous frenzy. Jealousy awakens together with love. In other words, we want to see one another, and then, what if the other person is wanting to see us, etc. Discord triumphs, and the greatest of all passion receives sacrifices of human blood. So, you know, for Rousseau, it's, we start to live together and then, we start to want each other, and when we want each other, that's sweet and lovely but it also breeds conflict. It also breeds conflict. and then the Rousseauian theme of, of, of how we we speak and to look at each other. And as we look at each other, we begin to act for the other, so that we appear the way we think, we want to appear the way we, want to be seen, which is a departure from how we just act naturally. Let me give you Rousseau's sentence. Everyone began to look at everyone else, and this is really, really bad. Everyone began to look at everyone else and to wish to be looked at himself, and public esteem acquired a value. And for Rousseau, this is very dangerous. The fermentation caused by these new leavens eventually produce compounds fatal to happiness and innocence. Because when we begin to want to appear in a certain way for the other, we begin to be fakers, we begin to be hypocrites. We begin to, to leave who we really were and begin to try to be something for somebody else. And as inequality goes along its route, goes along its dynamic, we begin to imitate people who we think of as our betters, thereby becoming less and less like our true selves. And so for Rousseau, it's fine to have a self-love in the sense of wanting to preserve yourself, in the sense of wanting to protect your life and to, and have the sense of self-preservation, but what is born here is vanity, because we begin again to want to be someone who we are not just so we can please another. and what happens, as this goes on, as we begin to act for someone else, that's another way to think of it, think, we become comedic, we become actors, we try to

act for someone else. we, we think we need things. We think we need certain goods, we think we need certain, accoutrements, a certain, luxuries, if you will. We, we think we need them, and that, they don't seem like luxuries anymore. We need those things to be who we think we are, and for Rousseau, this means that conveniences become needs. That is, the things we, that we just acquired, because they were fun to have, or we liked having them, those things now become necessities. We begin, oh, I can't live without that. You know, I can't live without my fancy white shirt, I can't live without my fancy boots, etc., etc. The things that were at one point luxuries or conveniences now become needs. Rousseau puts it this way. Since these conveniences, by becoming habitual had almost entirely ceased to be enjoyeable, and at the same time degenerated into true needs, it became much more cruel to be deprived of them than to possess them was sweet, and men were unhappy to lose them without being happy to possess them. This is key for Rousseau. So in this society where you begin to act for another person, you say, well, I need new cufflinks, or I need a new tie, or I need, and then you say, but once you have it, you think, well, you know, I used to have this tie, it doesn't really give me any pleasure to have the tie anymore. But when I lost the tie, I couldn't find the tie,that really hurts. That really, I really hate that. so when you, the, the, the dynamic here is that you desire something, and when you get it doesn't, after a while you don't get any pleasure from it, but if you lose it, if you lose it, it causes you pain. And what happens here then is you become more vulnerable to pain. As you acquire luxuries, you become more vulnerable to pain, because the luxuries you acquire, after a while you get, just get habituated to them. They become just part of your life, and you don't get pleasure from them. But if somebody takes it, or, or somebody scratches it, or somebody damages it, that hurts. And that, for Rousseau, that increased vulnerability goes along with this increased hypocrisy and all of it is stimulated by this dynamic of inequality. Rousseau talks though, before he, shows how the slippery slope of inequality accelerates. he does pause to say, there is a moment before, vanity gets too bad, before luxuries kick in too much, although men now had less endurance, and natural pity had already undergone some modification, this period in the development of the human faculties occupying a just mean between indolence and the primitive state and the petulant activity of our vanity, must have

been the happiness, happiest and the longest lasting epoch. Rousseau calls this the youth of the world. When our human faculties had, had already been modified some, but there is, he says, a just mean between indolence of the primitive state, and the petulant activity of our vanity. In other words, vanity isn't too bad, luxury isn't too bad, and there's a sweetness of social relations. That, for him, is, kind of, our adolescence when the things really were in sync before we began to slide down the slippery slope of inequality, vanity and hypocrisy. what really pushes us down that slope is the state, is the origin of the state. and you see this in the last sections or the second half of the, of, of, of part 2. the state becomes the guarantor of the process of inequality. I'm reading now from page 183, sometimes it's not some editions is 172, some of the Gray Ridge translations. Lacking valid reasons to justify and sufficient strength to defend himself, the rich, under the pressure of necessity at last conceived the most well-considered project ever to enter man's mind. The rich conceive of this project, that's important. So, the state is a product of the wealthy man's mind, to use even his attackers' forces in his favor, to make his adversaries his defenders, to instill in them other maxims, and to give them different institutions is favorable to himself, as natural right was contrary to him. In other words, the rich create a scheme to get the poor to defend property. If you can get the poor to defend property via the state. It's police forces, it's armies, then the rich benefit from the political arrangement that guarantees their own superiority in in conditions of inequality. The state therefore, according to Rousseau, is created to keep the wealthy, wealthy, and to keep the poor, poor. Now this is a radical thing to say anytime, really, but especially in the eighteenth century when the society is built on inequality. Remember that, we have the three estates, right? The clergy, the nobility and the peasants, who were middle classes, and so inequality is built into the state. and Rousseau says the state is there, not to protect the peasants and the middle class people, the state is there to guarantee that the wealthy can still lord over the rest of us. So he writes on page 183 or sometimes in some of the editions it's page 173. All ran head long into their chains, in the belief that they were securing their freedom. They ran, we ran headlong into our chains in the belief that we were securing our freedom. For while they had enough reason to sense the advantages, of political establishment, they had not enough experience to foresee its dangers.

Now Rousseau here is arguing against, the social contract theorists who say, well, the state was created because people exchange a portion of their freedom for security. Rousseau says, no we don't need security, we without property. The people who need security are the rich people. They duped the rest of us into supporting a state that protects inequality. And inequality means for Rousseau, the wealthy protect their property via political arrangements. And this allows not only for the perpetuation of their superior social and economic status, but it creates a situation where the rest of society em, wants to emulate the rich, tries to become rich, corrupting themselves even further. So on the one hand, they suffer because they're poor, and then they suffer in the soul because they, they, they think that the, the key to salvation is the acquisition of wealth, that is, becoming superior to other people. Rousseau has very many pointed things to say about the wealthy classes of his time, like this on page 185. The rich being so speak, so to speak, sensitive in every part of their goods. It was much easier to hurt them, and that they consequently had to take more precautions to protect themselves. What he's saying here is rich people are sensitive, are so sensitive, because you can hurt, they, they protect their fancy cars, in our time, they protect their fancy castles, they protect their fancy clothes. They, anything you, they have so many ways in which they, they, they have, have invested in luxuries that they are sensitive in all, every part of their goods. My favorite sentence, I was going to wait til next time, my favorite sentence in the reading for this week is from the second discourse, he says, rich people are so sensitive. They had feelings in all of their possessions. [LAUGH] Now, it's a great insight, is that what had been kind of a, a cool thing then becomes a necessity. You know, I, I had a, a, my first car was a Chevy Nova, which my father got from a guy who owed him a favor. I never really understood, if I was, like, stopped by a cop, if I'd, you know, go to jail. Anyway, it was an old car when I got it. And it had lots of nicks in it, right, you know? And so I would drive around, I was a maniac, because I didn't care if I hit anything. Because, the car was that kind of car, that you liked another dent, cool, [LAUGH] you know. So, you know, and so I was driving around, and, and then I, and, and I, and so I would come out in the morning and, somebody might say, oh man there's a new scratch on your car. Yeah, okay.


That was my Nova. Then, when I came to Wesleyan, I got myself a green Camaro. It was, neat car, used auto, it was pretty old also, but it was pretty cool. And I would park it over there by Alpha Del. And in those days what is now the Social Justice House, was the, the most, how should I put this? it was a fraternity for people who were on the fifth string of the football team. lets say, Chi Psi, they were called. They used to beat us up all the time, which we thought was a sign of our moral, moral purity. but I would park my green Camaro in the parking lot, I'd come out in the morning and then, is it okay? Is there a scratch in it? I had feelings in my possession. Right? The Nova had those windows with the crank. You know? [LAUGH] [INAUDIBLE] And then my Camaro had a push button window thing that never worked. But I had feelings in my push button window. They had feelings on all our possessions. And so what's, what, what happens with luxuries is they quickly becoming something that you need. Arts and sciences for Rousseau are divorced from our needs because they become ornamental. And so for Rousseau I become more vulnerable. With every luxury that I acquire and that I let become a necessity I become more sensitive, that is, more vulnerable, and I need more cops, I need more armies, officers, I need more, informants to watch my stuff, because I don't want anything to happen to my stuff. And so the rich create an apparatus of control of police, of government, to protect their stuff. And the rest of us buy into it because we want to have stuff too. We want to have stuff, and that corrupts us, because it's not a natural desire, it is a desire from our vanity. That we want to lord it over someone else, just like those, rich guys lord it over us. I think that's, that's all we have time for today. We'll, we'll, pick things up next time, when we move the, the longer syllabus to the next set of readings. See you then.


As Rousseau winds this argument to its conclusion, he talks about our natural love of freedom, which really rebels against the situation of inequality. Man's natural dispositions for or against servitude must therefore not be judged by the degradation of enslaved peoples but by the prodigious feats of all free peoples to protect themselves against oppression. This is on page 187, and he's responding to the folks who say, oh, Rousseau, but everybody lives in this society. Everybody lives in this, under a government, and they're not fighting against the government. They're not fighting against the situation. Why not? And he says, don't judge people by the corrupt, perverted populous, that is docile about inequality and desires wealth. find, show the, the examples of people who risk their lives to protect their freedom, who risk their lives to protect their, equality, or he says, even, go to the zoo, and see how animals just, I hate captivity, and he uses the example of of an animal that smashes its head against the bars of the cage, because it can't stand not being free. Now we have gotten used to our unfreedom and that is not a sign that unfreedom is natural or that our situation is natural. It's a sign rhat we have become perverted, and our natural love of freedom is disappearing. A sign of this perversion is so is that rich people, he says, are happy because of the existence of the poor. That the wealth itself doesn't mean that much to them, but what means something to them is that they could look at other people and feel superior to them. So this is towards the end, page 195. If one sees a handful of powerful and rich men at the pinnacle of greatness and fortune while the masses crawl in obscurity and misery. It is because the former value the things they enjoy only to the extent that the others, the poor, are deprived of them. And they would cease to be happy if, without any change in their own state, the people cease to be miserable. That is, it's seeing the misery of other people, which gives the wealthy people a sense of satisfaction. So he, he was invited to a, a party, and the, the entertainment at the end of the party was that the huge banquet. It would have these tables laden with food to big for their eyes, too large for their appetites. So afterwards all the, the aristos, the aristocrats go outside, and they see the peasants who are living at the edge of starvation and they take bread and they just throw, throw the bread at the peasants and just watch them scramble and try to grab them. That was amusing, and Rousseau's, you know he says, then he writes to us, I can't believe I was there. I am such a hypocrite, I am such an awful person. Let me tell you about it,

reader. Yet, then he says, why do this people behave this way? They, the richer people after all. Why do they behave this way? Because they only like having that much food because the other people are starving. Nobody really like this stuff there. You, they don't like it that much. They learned to like it because, they say, oh I can eat this and those people can't. And for Rousseau, this is a great sign, awful signt of our corruption. And that leads to, what for him, is this existential situation, where we live outside of ourselves. The genuine cuase of all these differences, is that the savage man lives in himself. Sociable man, Rousseau writes, always outside himself. The sociable man is capable of living only in the opinion of others, and so to speak, derives the sentiment of his own existence solely from their judgement. He's critiquing the rich, for their, sadism, really, and, and getting satisfaction from, from the existence of poverty, but he's critiquing the whole society. For creating the conditions for vanity and hypocrisy so that we live outside ourselves. We want to be seen in a certain way by other people. It is manifestly against the Law of Nature, however defined, that a child command an old man, an imbecile lead a wise man, and a handful of people abound in superfluities, while the starving multitude lacks the necessities. This is for him, against the law of nature. the society that he lives in. Remember, society is still built on divine right of kings, a society built on this kind of baked in, natural, they called natural inequality. Rousseau says, this whole society is illegitimate, because it's a violation of who we are as human beings, that the imbecile leads the rest. [LAUGH] That's that's pretty damning, and you can see why Rousseau was was a shocking writer, to the, society around him. I want to pull, this to a close by just, giving you some reactions to Rousseau. just starting off with Voltaire, who, who read Rousseau, and sent him a letter, after reading his Second Discourse, which enraged Rousseau. You'll see why. Voltaire writes, I have received, sir, your new book against the human species. Okay, just saying alright. Your new book against the human species, and I thank you for it. No one has ever been so witty as you are in trying to turn us into brutes. To read your book makes one long to go on all fours. Since, however, it is now some 60 years since I gave up that practice, I feel it is unfortunately impossible for me to resume it. I leave this natural habit to those more fit for than you or I. In other words, Voltaire is saying, come on, Rousseau. We don't go back to being children, or the youth of the

world. You don't go back to crawling around on all fours. Don't show us to the brutes. Voltaire is thinking, Rousseau, who calls us hypocrites, as himself being hypocritical. And Rousseau was outraged, and you can read his reactions to Voltaire who he hated deeply after this encounter. Others later after Rousseau's death, will take Rousseau as having shown them the true way for true freedom. And the scariest of this, perhaps one of the most important, happens in the French Revolution, during the Reign of Terror, when Robespierre, who was, was called the incorruptible, Incorruptible. Robespierre led the committee of public safety and said we have to stamp out inequality. We have to create virtue through equality, and that meant, virtue through equality meant, you kill the people who are standing out. You execute the people who are different, to create homogeneity, to create equality, which meant for Robespierre, to create virtue. Now Rousseau didn't say to do this, but Robespierre thought this was the lesson from Rousseau. A kind of what would later be called totalitarianism, what Hegel called the pursuit of absolute freedom through violence. Robespierre wrote, what is the end of our revolution? The tranquil enjoyment of freedom and equality, the reign of that eternal justice, the laws of which are graven not on marble or stone, but in the hearts of men, even in the heart of the slave who has forgotten them, and in that of the tyrant who disowns them. We wish in a word, to fulfill the intentions of nature. There's the Rousseauian language, and the destiny of man. We wish to realize the promises of philosophy, and acquit providence of a long reign of crime and tyranny. That France, once illustrious among enslaved nations, may, by eclipsing the glory of all free countries that have ever existed, become a model to the nations. That's what they want, that's what Robespierre wants, a terror to oppressors, and a consolation to the oppressed. That is our ambition. We'll seal the work with out blood, Robespierre says. So, he is inspired by Rousseau to, institute, through the Committee on Public Safety what becomes known, of course, as the Reign of Terror. Now, I'm not saying of, I want it to be clear that this is, you know, Rosseau's responsibility, or that Rousseau, this is a correct reading of Rousseau. But Rousseau did inspire strong reactions, and continues to do so. So I'll give you another reaction to Rousseau, this one by Edmund Burke, whose reflections on the revolutions in France is a hallmark of conservative thinking. For Burke, Rousseau was evil because he offered a theoretical notion of freedom. That is, a freedom that was

conceptually pure, and therefore would be imposed on a people by intellectuals or by rulers who thought they were following a recipe or theory. For Burke, this was the great error of the French Revolution, that they were inspire, that the revolutionaries thought they could change the world through ideas, that they put into practice, or rather than seeing how politics should emerge organically through the lives of a society, through the developments of a culture. For Burke, politics could not be theoretical without becoming violent and cruel, and Rousseau, Burke thought, offered a theory of politics when what you really wanted to have Was an organic development of the political that was in sync with religion, with habit, with custom and with aspirations for change. Later in the 19th century Tocqueville, another thinker often used by, in conservative circles Tocqueville wrote in the Old Regime, and the Revolution, that the French people were guided by two major principles. That is the, the desire for equality, and the desire for freedom. And for Tocqueville, the history of France, was the history of trying to reconcile these two desires, one for equality, and one for freedom. And so, for Tocqueville, the urge for equality led to tyranny. So he thought, that against Rousseau, that when you try to institute equality, you, what you realize is you need a stronger and stronger government to institute the equality. Now Rousseau thought the government was there to promote inequality. And Tocqueville reverses this and says, well actually what we need now if we're going to have more equality, which the French people sometimes seem to want in the 19th century with this obstinate zeal, he says, that you would need a strong government to redistribute wealth, and you need despotism to institute equality. This is against the legacy of Rousseau that Tocqueville was writing. and finally, I thought I'd end again with another conservative thinker. We don't, we don't read too many conservative thinkers, or I should say, these are thinkers that are used by conservatives. they, they actually not, maybe not themselves conservatives thinkers, but Leo Strauss who was German and American political theorist writes in Natural Right and History, that Rousseau's thesis that man is by nature good, must be understood in the light of his contention that man is by nature, sub-human. Man is by nature good because he is by nature that sub-human being, which is capable of becoming either good or bad. There is no natural constitution of man to speak of, in Rousseau. Man is by nature almost infinitely perfectible. So what Strauss sees in Rousseau is that the concept of nature in Rousseau is

one that already has, kind of, historical prejudices built into it, so that for Rousseau, we are perfectible creatures, and corruptible ones, and that is not the same as, figuring on a stable concept The nature because Rousseau's natural human, as Strauss says is sub, is, is sub human or proto human and as he's, he's going to change.He is capable of, of perfectibility or of corruption.Um, and that the error of what Strauss sees in Rousseau, is that, thinking you have a national standard, when what you really have is a framework, for thinking about how human beings will change, rather than a standard that allows you to judge human actions. So Rousseau's legacy is long and it's deep. He institutes a mode of thinking, that challenges his contemprorary society, by saying that, the, dynamics that we see, in, what looks like progress, are really corruption. That what the, that we see greater inequality protected by the state, that vanity and hypocrisy keep us from knowing what human beings are really like. That and, and that is key for for us as we, as we move through the course. For Rousseau, the really real is this notion of human beings as having these two principles prior to reason. the principle of self-preservation, the principle of pity. and that is the core of his thinking. and when he looks around him in the 18th century, he says I don't see these principles at work. They're hidden beneath layers of hypocrisy, layers of con, of, of, of, of vanity. And Rousseau, as a modern thinker, says, where is the real human beings in modernity? I'm looking around here and I see you know, somebody who thinks he's a baker, I see someone who thinks he's a, aristocrat, I see someone who thinks he's a politician. I see, another person who thinks, he's smarter than everybody else. But, where are they, where are the real human beings in there? What I see are layers and layers of, of, of corruption. That is, layers of acting for other people. I, Rousseau, want to strip away, those things, to see what people really are. And he, he looks around and sees that, and then he also sees that everything that people are celebrating is modern and progressive in his culture. Those are the things that are leading to more and more vanity and hypocrisy. So, Rousseau's uses the modern tool, see through this hypocrisy, but he also Enlightenment in calling for an end to modernity's pursuit of vanity. and, and inequality. We'll see, next time, in,

tools of the Enlightenment to turns against modernity in the this, what he thinks of as, as its pursuit, of luxury and, and, in Marx, that to critique of

inequality, in the nineteenth century, accelerates, as, thinkers begin to try and understand, not just how we pretend to be for others, how we act for others, but they try to understand the new conditions of labor, the new conditions of work that come along with the Industrial Revolution. Rousseau is there at the cusp, just before the Industrial Revolution kicks in, but at a point when modernity is getting to define itself. we'll see, as we move through the course. that taking into account, industrialization, and the, and the development of the modern city, will be the task that our subsequent thinkers take on. We'll see you then.