By comparing and contrasting the role of property, the state of nature, and technology within the philosophies of John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, this essay will argue the opinions of these two theorists. Each theorist has a different foundation of the conception of private properties. The state of nature is looked at deeply within how society perceives mankind and what is right and wrong. As technology changes, both philosophers speak about the developments of these great powerful sources. There are several advantages and disadvantages that both Locke and Rousseau discuss. Regarding property both Locke and Rousseau have different approaches on this issue of matter. Locke speaks greatly on how property is natural and gives natural benefits to mankind. Locke responds with: “Though the earth and all inferior creatures be common to all men, yet every man has a property in his own person; this no body has any right to but himself,” (Locke, 12).
Locke takes an idealist approach on the matter. He argues that human rights are reinforced by private property, and he even goes into saying how property is a human right in itself. Locke believes in private property and Rousseau does not. In Locke’s theories on private property, he firmly says that one could use nothing that is common to all men if he cannot make it his own. This being said, even in today’s society we still think of the big picture of this so-called “American Dream”, and that consists of ownership of property. Society still thinks back to Locke’s theories on private property by wanting it to be within our natural state. The idealistic vision of ownership includes private property being ours. Locke goes into more greater details on how we were born free, which means we have natural freedom. Rousseau believes that private property could only be established, as the law was established to protect this idea. Rousseau does not perceive the same idea has Locke on private property, by saying that property is really only acknowledged once there is a state with laws. Rousseau goes on to say that property is owned by the state and that from over periods of time mankind just acquired their property. Property is said by Rousseau to be conventional, and he goes into detail on tracing back in time to prove in his idea that the Earth furnished mankind to having any particular property. He reveals:
“.. for this idea of property depends so much on prior ideas, which could only be successively acquired, that it could not be suggested all at once to the human mind…Let us recur
therefore still farther back, and endeavor to trace under
one point of view that slow succession of events and
discoveries, as they proceeded in natural order.”(Blaisdell,7)
Rousseau undermines private property as being a human right. He sees property as eliminating the equality among people while being held in the state of nature.
Locke argues that humans seek more by the state of nature, while Rousseau believes that humans seek more from social influences. The state of nature for Locke is a state of freedom and equality. The state of nature coincides with natural law, which is known to be a result of moral odds applying to all people. Equality is looked at widely from Locke when he speaks upon the state of nature. Not one man can attain more power than another. Locke says:
“A state also of equality, wherein all the power and
jurisdiction is reciprocal, no one having more than another;
there being nothing more evident than that creatures of
the same species and rank, promiscuously born to all the
same advantages of nature..”(Locke,2).
Locke even wishes to say those who have supreme power of making laws do not even hold more power than any other man. Only criminals who become degenerate are the only ones to be of lesser power than others.
Rousseau does not believe in the state of nature but more by how society influences humans. He says that people are not free as long...
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