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Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Rousseau$
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John Plamenatz, Mark Philp, and Zbigniew Pelczynski

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199645060

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199645060.001.0001

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Man’s Natural Goodness and his Corruption by Society

Man’s Natural Goodness and his Corruption by Society

Chapter:
(p.208) 14 Man’s Natural Goodness and his Corruption by Society
Source:
Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Rousseau
Author(s):

Mark Philp

Z. A. Pelczynski

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199645060.003.0015

This chapter examines Rousseau’s idea of man’s natural goodness, rejecting the view that Rousseau advocated a return to the state of nature. The character of natural man-〈M〉man as he ought to be–〈M〉is explored, alongside social or ‘fallen’ man. A key distinction concerns the lack of comparative self-evaluation in the state of nature, which excites amour propre , dependence, and a need for order. Nonetheless, the distinction conceals the extent to which the natural remains a reference point for social man, when well ordered (through conscience), with both conditions achieving a balance between wants needs and satisfactions, with natural man doing so by uncorrupted taste and social man through self-mastery and self-direction.

Keywords:   natural man, natural goodness, nature, social man, society, dependence, corruption, order, amour propre, conscience, self-mastery, justice

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