explain Rousseau’s diagnosis, including both how our relations towards others and our relation to our self have been corrupted

Rousseau essay prompt


Write a 1,200-1,500 word (4-5 page) essay, word processed and double spaced, Times New Roman, 12 point font, addressing the following topic:


In his Discourse on the Arts and Sciences, Rousseau describes the corruption of human beings, and surprisingly, he even blames, in part, the arts and sciences. Though the Discourse on Inequality ends rather pessimistically, Rousseau does hint at some ideas that might help us overcome the various problems he diagnoses. Your essay will examine Rousseau’s diagnosis as well as present and critique ideas about possible ways to treat the problems he diagnoses.

To begin, (1) explain Rousseau’s diagnosis, including both how our relations towards others and our relation to our self have been corrupted. [Here you might consider contemporary examples to help support Rousseau’s case] (2) Now, give an argument about how some of Rousseau’s ideas, e.g., the example of “natural man,” the natural sentiment of pity [compassion], or ideas that you have come up with, might help put us on the path to overcoming the problems he diagnoses. (3) What reasons do you have for thinking these ideas could be genuinely helpful for modern human beings? And what reasons do you have for thinking these ideas might not be helpful for treating the problems Rousseau diagnoses? (4) Finally, given your analysis of the problems Rousseau diagnoses, your suggestions on how to treat these problems, and your critical evaluation of the treatment, do you think it is possible the problems Rousseau diagnoses can be overcome in the short term, long term, or not at all? Explain and support your reasoning.

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