Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Discourse on Inequality

Read this text. Rousseau uses history and travel experience to show that humans have slowly evolved from brute animality to moderate sociability and eventually corruption and inequality as the rich have taken over government. Rousseau is famous for developing the idea that freedom exists in three forms: civil, natural, and moral.

Study Guide Questions:

  1. Does Rousseau advocate a return to the state of nature?
  2. What role does the notion of private property play in Rousseau's thought?
  3. Reading this selection, taking notes, and answering the study guide questions should take approximately 6 hours.