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Samuel Hardeman
Moreno Rocchi
Philosophy in Persons
26 April 2018

Observation of the Purpose of Man after Man’s Dissent from the State of Nature

Despite the connotation of human perfection expressed by commercialism and celebrity

expression, the current human state or condition is a product of several thousands of years of

decisions, accidents, and coincidences. Moreover, according to many renaissance and

contemporary philosophers, the current state of humanity is rather imperfect, because it is a

result of a perverted course of nature stemming from the first dissents away from our initial

happiness and bliss. All of the changes to the original trajectory have arose as a result of those

accidents previously alluded to, as well as, artificial adaptations to satiate growing desires and

private acquisitions. However, this view of human diversion from contentment in ignorance,

proposed by philosophers such as Rosseau, is opposed by the interpretation that humanity is

simply enfolding into the direction of brilliance from the original inciting diversion from its

primitive nature. To begin comparing interpretations of the human disposition, a comparative

evaluation of the primordial incitements that caused the differentiation from initial to final state,

primitive man to the present, must be observed and analyzed in order to delegate relevance and

value to each interpretation, provided by Rousseau and Kant, and ultimately decide the purpose

of human nature.

As Rousseau proposes in his argument on the state of nature in Rousseau’s Second

Discourse, first in an attempt to not project unto, “the state of nature ideas which were acquired

by society”; criteria must be established that has no scent of present prejudice (Rousseau, 5). In

this way an idea of the original man can be unbiasedly construed in an effort to decipher from
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where his path was led astray. Rousseau would consider the primordial man as brutish and

unintelligible, “the only instrument he understands” is the body (Rousseau, 7). Also, he was void

of artificial needs with solitary desires of food, sex, sleep, and exercising his principal faculties.

The primitive man had few developed faculties, most simply, the faculty of free will as well as

the faculty of self improvement. As well as the initial faculties of man two principles of value in

the state of nature were self respect and objective compassion. Nevertheless, even with the

combination of these faculties and principles that would assume to derive some type of social

faculty, the primitive man was neither social nor lingual besides impulsive vocal behavior

characterized by grunts and incoherent murmurs, according to Rousseau.

Now that the image and characteristics of the original man have been revealed according

to Rousseau, the counter interpretation created by Kant can be evaluated as a response. In

accordance to Kant in his work What is Enlightenment?, “Enlightenment is man’s emergence

from his self-imposed immaturity” which can be related to the description of the primitive

human by means of assessing when the primitive beings emerged from their state of self-

imposed ignorance (Kant, 1). To analyze how the previous statement explicates the identity of

the primitive man Kant’s delineation of the three human dispositions will be examined and

concerned to the primordial human. The three dispositions or natural faculties are listed as so:

animality, humanity, and morality. Man’s animality is tethered to animalistic needs and instincts,

such as the well know impulse of flight or fight. Although, the previous statements of the

primitive man coincide with Rousseau, Kant’s further expressions of human natural faculties

divert from Rousseau. Humanity is both technical and pragmatic. The technical principle of

humanity refers to our ability to elaborate on found materials in order to build, destroy, and set

goals beyond the present, “not just to enjoy the present moment of life but also to visualize what
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is yet to come” (Kant - Conjectures on the Beginning of Human History, 225) Pragmatism deals

with the idea of human social behavior, especially the ability to lie and misconceive or conceal

true intentions in order to propel a false image. Rousseau would disagree with these faculties and

discern them as being contemporary societal prejudices assigned to agents of little to no

intelligent means. However, Kant’s description of natural faculties in his Conjectures on the

Beginning of Human History, delegate another ability to man outside of the temporal realm and

that relates to morality, which he sees as, “ from a moral point of view… the individual has cause

to blame himself for all the ills which he endures and for all the evil which he perpetrates; but at

the same time, he has cause to admire and praise the wisdom and purposiveness of” humanity as

a whole (Kant, 227). In this way Kant attempts to explain why humans are able to use reason to

detach themselves from the individual in observation of and service for good for the sake of the

species. These senses or natural faculties led by reason gives rise to the final conclusion Kant

divulges as the purpose of man.

Rousseau would conject that humanity as a whole has become lost far from the original

of the perfect state of contentedness, the state of nature; on the other hand, Kant would discourse

that humanity’s purpose lies in the reason that we left the forest. Although, with the passing of

time and countless amounts of deaths at the hands of men that decide their own moral codes,

Kant continues to have faith in human reason, in that, reason in and of itself is the course that

mankind should continue following in order to arise at some subsequent truth of purpose. Upon

achieving some perfect civic constitution and equality of means socially, humankind may still

have many imperfections to overcome, but when mankind has fully developed its capacities,

natural faculties, then it could be said that they have arrived at their ends. I believe, that

according to Rousseau and Kant, the true purpose is for a realization, whether it be through
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ignorance or reason, of eternal contentedness with oneself, unchanging with time, and with

society as a whole. At this point, ignorance and reason reach a point of coincidence that parallels

to both philosophers beliefs as well as desires for the pacific quiescent state of man.