Response Paper 6

Dylan Wadyka

Dr. Watts

FYS 100, section 50

30 October 2015

“If savage man only understands his instincts and no has concept of abstract thought, can it be said that he is truly happy if does not understand happiness?”

            In Rousseau’s A Discourse on Inequality, he states that natural man lives solely by his instincts and has no concept of reason or abstract thought. He writes that natural man’s only needs are “satisfying his hunger under an oak, quenching his thirst at the first stream, finding his bed under the same tree which provided his meal” (81). Since his needs are very basic, he does not live a miserable life that is consumed by the desire for property and wealth like civilized man does. Rousseau believes that this lack of thought causes natural man to live in a state of happiness where he is free to wonder through nature.

However, natural man’s lack of reason and abstract thought does not allow him to have an understanding of happiness. His instincts control his life, and he has no idea that there is something more than instinct (89). This lack of thought and reason causes one to wonder whether natural man can be happy if he does not understand happiness. Savage man lives in ignorance because his lack of reason. He can never truly be happy because he cannot comprehend happiness. Rousseau claims that natural man only experiences desire, fear, will, and rejection (89). He desires his basic needs and fears hunger and pain (89). Natural man’s needs can almost always be met since food, water, and a place to sleep are rather easy to find, especially when one’s entire existence is dedicated to finding them. Rousseau’s claim that natural man becomes indifferent to the natural world and to his daily routine serves as another reason why natural man can never be happy (. He follows the same pattern everyday; he does not question whether he enjoys his daily routine. His instincts cause him to complete his daily routine without questioning the level of enjoyment he receives from it. Natural man’s lack of abstract thought prevents from achieving happiness.

In order for natural man to become happy, he must develop reason and abstract thought; however, once he develops these faculties, he transitions into civilized man (88). Rousseau writes that the faculty of self-improvement, which causes man to develop his other faculties, is the cause of all of man’s misfortunes. He claims that the faculty of self-improvement leads to both virtue and vice, and it causes man to oppress his fellow man (88). The faculty of self-improvement allows man to develop reason and abstract thought. Man comprehends happiness because of this faculty. However, the faculty of self-improvement turns savage man into civilized man. Therefore, savage man can never experience happiness because he transitions into civilized man once he develops an understanding of it.

Natural man lives an instinct driven life where his only inclinations are to meet his basic needs. He is not consumed by desire or the miseries of civilized man’s life, but he is not happy because he does not have the faculties to comprehend happiness. Once he posses these faculties, he ceases to be natural man and is burdened by desire and all the miseries of the world.

I pledge that I have neither given nor received any unauthorized help during the completion of this work.

Dylan Wadyka

4/5 Very good response paper. The question reaches beyond the evidence and therefore has to assume a distinction that Rousseau doesn’t make clearly. Please be sure to include a FULL citation of your source.

Works Cited

Jean-Jacques Rousseau. A Discourse on Inequality. Translated by Maurice Cranston. Penguin Books. DATE?? PUBLISHER???