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Week 7

Hobbes and Rousseau: inevitable comparison

Rousseau admits two principles in human nature: natural compassion and self-preservation
From the former passion derives commerce
From the latter, derives society
Rousseau criticizes both Hobbes and Aristotle

Discourse on inequality 1755

Self-preservation and empathy

o Throwing aside all those scientific books, which teach us only to see men such as they
have made themselves, two principles prior to reason
Responding to Hobbes, saying that he only sees human beings as they are now,
not how they are naturally
Have to go to the opposite of what is now to get to state of nature
One of them deeply interesting us in our own welfare and preservation
The other exciting a natural repugnance at seeing any other sensible being,
and particularly any of our own species, suffer pain or death
very attentive to how human beings position themselves with respect to
other animals
without being necessary to introduce that of sociability
Humans are not necessary social animals (direct attack at Aristotle)
o Foundation for rousseau is passions also
Compare to fear in hobbes, uses compassion instead
Sentient beings
o we should not make a man a philosopher before he is a man
so long as he does not resist the internal impulse of compassion, he will
never hurt any othter man, nor even any sentient being,
unless his own self preservation is concerned then he will give himself
The origin of inequality
o Steps in evolving of man
o Long periods where human beings do the same thing
o the first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground, bethought himself of saying this
is mine, and found people simple enough to believe him, was the real founder of civil
History is irreversible for Rousseau, development of private property, G.G.
This process is a decline and there is no going back
Not actual history, but a though experiment, a speculation

humanity would have been spared infinite crimes, wars, homicides, murders you
are eternally lost if you do not remember that the fruits of the earth are everyones
property and that the land is no-ones property!
Private property was the last step towards injustice and inequality, relates back
to Plato and More
o How did humanity change?
Different moments and different forms of transition, different factors that come
into play
Creates a deviation, an innovation, the discovery of pride
Hobbes thinks that pride is natural, Rousseau says it is developed
the first time he looked into himself, he felt the first emotion of
Social interactions
o Pride is developed when people start living together
o Must have been natural events that pushed people that were scattered towards each
other, an accident
then they form groups
*not started by compassion, self preservation that drives the formation of
Very counter-intuitive
Society is triggered not by sympathy, but because of the negative
emotion, the antisocial emotion, the original vice, mutual interests
We get together out of selfishness
Out of compassion comes commerce
Not just trade, but circulation of people
Property and family
o There was a time when family, love, care for own children is discovered, would have
been happy if they stayed at this state
Property destroys this
Development of moral qualities
Love comes into existence with the development of jealousy
o Leisure
and this was the first yoke he inadvertently imposed on himself, and the first
source of the evils he prepared for his descendants
When humans are relaxing, plays a crucial role in transition
When they experience leisure and they enjoy themselves, recreation, things
change, begin to compare themselves with others
Develop wants in leisure, pleasure is addictive, the more you enjoy different
things, the more you desire them
From leisure to inequality


They accustomed themselves to assemblesinging and dancing.

Value came to be attached to public esteem
This was the first step towards inequality, and at the same time towards
Beautiful situation, but dark undertones, negativity of process of civilization
Catastrophic state; inequality arises
o from these first distinctions arose on the one side vanity and contempt and on the
other shame and envy: and the fermentation caused by these new leavens ended by
producing combinations fatal to innocence and happiness
from forests to fields
o from the moment one man began to stand in need of the help of another; from the
moment it appeared advantageous to any one man to have enough provisions for two,
equality disappeared, property was introduced work became indispensable, and vast
forests became smiling fields
not good
Iron and wheat
o Metallurgy and agriculture were the two arts which produced this great revolution
It was Iron and wheat, which first civilized men, and ruined humanity
Civilization is the destruction of humanity
From natural law to civil rights
o Society and law destroyed natural liberty, eternally fixed the law of property and
inequality, converted clever usurpation into unalterable right, and, for the advantage
of a few ambitious individuals, subjected all mankind to perpetual labor, slavery and
People are ambitious and miserable, unleashed all of these emotions, that are
the underpinning of the market, of capitalism, to subject other people to their
own ambitions
civil right having thus become the common rule among the members of each
community, he law of nature maintained its place only between different
communities, where, under the mane of the right of nations, it was qualified
by certain tacit conventions, in order to make commerce practicable, and
serve as a substitute for natural compassion
war has not disappeared, inside a city we have a state of war, of
on the outside we have commerce, of sympathy, not war
o peace outside, a substitute of natural compassion
***flips Hobbes ideology upside down, Hobbes thought that there was
peace on inside and war on the outside
Natural compassion and cosmopolitanism
o Natural compassion is lost in societies, survives only in some cosmopolitian spirits, of
philosophers and other thinkers

Compare and contrast:

o Hobbes and rousseau, see phone
Rousseau inverts Hobbes ideas, systematically

Todays lecture:

Happiness: a political goal

o Happiness as a political idea, value
Pleasure and pain in political thought
Epicurus: hedonic calculus, friendship and justice
o Pleasure is a value people are attracted to
Bentham: morals, justice, government
Utilitarianism: what it is and what it is not

Declaration of Independence

Happiness is a cornerstone of government, a speech that makes something happen

Self-evident = exists in every person, dont need an authority to tell you
Is happiness another word for pleasure, or is it a state of mind, a lifestyle, more complex

Politics of Happiness

Plato: the perfect city, Kallipolis is just, thus happy, nut as a whole
o Not a sum total of the happiness of the individuals
o Individual pleasure does not matter
o Pleasure is a threat (think democracy, individual experience of happiness not good)
o Ascetiscism (renouncement of private property, no individual pleasure)
Aristotle: Happiness, the good life, is a natural accomplishment for political animals
o Life in a polis makes you happy, as an individual
o Happiness is the end, supreme good, excellence
o Happiness = feeling good because you are good (virtues)
o Pleasure is a component of happiness
o Eudamonism

Epicurus hedonism

Pleasure is the absence of pain, physical and emotion (negative definition)

o Minimization and prevention of pain
It is the replenishment of a lack
It is natural and naturally limited
Only imaginary desires are insatiable. Fill up a glass of water
o Plato says there are holes in the glass, glass can never be filled up completely

Drink when you are thirsty, for plato desperate attempt to get rid of pain, can never get
o Epicurus rejects this: you stop being thirsty if you drink enough water, you can fill up
and be happy, pleasure is still the fulfillment and end of pain
Listen to the voice of your body! Pleasure is self-evident: says what to do and how to live
o Does not dominate you, can chose your pleasures
o *Pleasures are not absolute v
Immediate pleasure that causes future pain can be discarded
Temporary pain that causes future pleasure, can bear it
o no sympathy for pain, have to cope with it if pleasure is better
Continuous hedonistic calculus is Reason
o Infinite sums of calculating pleasure
Morality is based upon this reasoning
o If an activity is pleasurable, it is also good
o In order to be pleasurable, its pleasure must not cause pain
Laws, education should maximize pleasure and minimize pain


Avoidance of physical pain and emotional disturbance

o Epicurean society


Security and well being of society is most important


What matters in foundation of republics is to come to the point where people are happy


Human beings are pleasure seeking


Speaks about happiness in state of nature, is lost in the civil society

o Formation of groups is out of self-preservation


nature has placed mankind under the governance of two soverign masters: pleasure and pain
o What we out to do, as well as to determine what we shall do
Self-evidence, what ought to be there

On the one had is standard of right and wrong, on the other the chain of causes and
All other justifications of right and wrong are based on pain and pleasure, its
how we are built
They govern us in all we do, in all we say, in all we think: every effort we can make to
throw off our subjection, will serve but to demonstrate and confirm it
May reject it in words, but are always subject to it

o By utility is meant that property in any object, whereby it tends to produce benefit,
advantage, pleasure, good, or happiness (all this in the present case comes to the same
What is good for society, useful for a society
Enemies think this is self-indulgent, selfish
o Or to prevent the happening of mischief, pain, evil, or unhappiness to the party whose
interest is considered
o Very important for bentham to keep together all of the different aspects of happiness
Dont want to reduce happiness just to moral good, dont want to exclude plea