1. As you recall, Hobbes characterized the state of nature with violence and insecurity, stemming from man’s innate aggressiveness. Locke, on the other hand, envisions the state of nature as a condition that exists when all property exists in common. Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778), the Swiss philosopher, had a different conceptualized of the state of nature.
As you review how Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau’s described the state of nature, consider their commonalities, including the themes of equality and freedom.
Review the state of nature according to Hobbes and Locke in Learning Outcome 2c in Unit 2 of this Study Guide.
Review Rousseau’s notion of the state of nature in The Social Contract & Discourses, by Jean-Jacques Rousseau (especially Chapters IV-VI), and Steven Smith’s lecture Democracy and Participation: Rousseau's Discourse, Part I (time stamp 18:00).
1. Rousseau’s famous quote on freedom, "All men are born free, and everywhere he is in chains," appears in Book I, Chapter I of The Social Contract & Discourses. For Rousseau, man is free when he is able to obey the laws he gives himself.
Review Rousseau’s ideas about freedom and equality in Steven Smith’s lecture, Democracy and Participation: Rousseau's Discourse, Part I.
2. Next, consider why Rousseau believes equality is an important part of man’s freedom. To Rousseau, inequality breeds dependence, and a man who is dependent is not totally free. Thus, the goal of a political community should be to seek moral equality by following the general will.
Review this material in Rousseau’s The Social Contract & Discourses.
3. Explain why Rousseau believes inequality breeds dependence.
Review this material in Rousseau’s The Social Contract & Discourses, and in Steven Smith’s lecture, Democracy and Participation: Rousseau's Discourse, Part I.
1. Locke explored his ideas of a social contract extensively in his Second Treatise of Government.
Review Learning Outcome 2d in Unit 2 of this Study Guide for more information about the doctrine of consent.
2. How is private property a significant part of Locke’s views of a social contract?
Review this material in Locke’s Second Treatise of Government, paying close attention to Chapter III and Chapter V.
3. Now that you have reviewed Locke’s view of the social contract, contrast it with Rousseau’s view.
Review Rousseau’s ideas about the social contract in detail in Steven Smith’s lecture, Democracy and Participation: Rousseau's Discourse, Part I.
4. Why do Locke and Rousseau believe men are willing to give up some of their freedoms to enter into a social contract?
1. In his work Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville (1805–1859), a French diplomat, discusses the role of religion in American society: he believes religion plays a stronger role in the United States than it does in Europe due to the separation of church and state.
Review this material in Book II, Chapter 9 of Democracy in America.
2. How does religion provide Americans with a purpose? Why does Tocqueville think religion is a necessary component for human action?
3. Consider the role of religion in American government and the separation of church and state. Why does Tocqueville consider religion to be another check on the tyranny of the majority in the United States? Why does he think religion is critical for freedom and democracy?
Review the role of religion in America in Steven Smith’s lecture, Democratic Statecraft: Tocqueville's Democracy in America, Part II (time stamp 11:00 to 25:00), and in Book I, Chapter XVII of Democracy in America.
1. In Democracy in America, Tocqueville is interested in the question of how a system of inequality (a monarchy) is replaced by a system in which men are considered equal (a democracy). He spends a great deal of time comparing the form democracy took in the United States with the form democracy took in France.
Review this material in Steven Smith’s lecture, Democratic Statecraft: Tocqueville's Democracy in America, Part I (time stamp 19:00).
2. According to Tocqueville, the United States offered the best example of equality achieved through democracy.
Review the future of equality in France (time stamp 35:00) and Tocqueville’s “equality of social conditions” (time stamp 20:00) in Steven Smith’s lecture, Democratic Statecraft: Tocqueville's Democracy in America, Part I.
1. According to Karl Marx (1818–1883), the German philosopher and economist, capitalist society is characterized by a conflict between the bourgeoisie (owners of the means of production) and the proletariat (the working class). The bourgeoisie exploit the proletariat for their own gains.
1. Marx divides history into five basic stages: primitive communism, slave society, feudalism, capitalism and socialism.
Alan MacFarlane’s discusses Marx’s foundation in evolution, technology and social change in his lecture, Karl Marx (1818-1883) (time stamp 8:40 to 14:00, and 16:45 to 18:00). MacFarlane also discusses Marx’s thoughts on the transition from capitalism to socialism in Karl Marx (1818-1883) (time stamp 38:17), which Marx discusses in his Critique of the Gotha Program.
2. Describe why Marx believed the primary driver of history is class struggle, and why the exploitation of the proletariat is important to Marx’s worldview.
Review exploitation according to Marx in Ian Shapiro's lecture, Marxian Exploitation and Distributive Justice.
3. Why can we characterize Marx’s view of history as a materialist view of history?
4. According to Marx, society’s superstructure (or relations of production) is explained by economic structures. Consider the following questions as you review Marx’s economic worldview.
Review this material in Ian Shapiro's lecture, Marxian Exploitation and Distributive Justice (from the beginning).
Review Part I: The Commodity from Marx’s, Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy.
5. For a general overview of Marx’s theory of history and his beliefs about the relationship between politics and economics, review the article, Analytical Marxism: Self-Ownership and Distributive Justice.