Thursday, November 19, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Bruno Bauer introduces a commonly disputed topic in history – the Jewish Problem. The words “liberty, human rights, and emancipation” are often thrown around regarding the Jewish struggle(187). As I’m sure many of us have learned about numerous conflicts in history class pertaining to Jews these words were thrown around. In order to reach a completely unbiased conclusion on this matter I agree with Bauer in saying, we should refrain from using them in our research.
The problem greatly deals with the criticism of Jews. They are subject to a lot of criticism. Are they deserving of it? Many would say, as we learned in high school world history, that they deserved to follow their religion without persecution or ridicule. This problem has become such a sensitive subject that and minute criticism of the Jewish man results in an “outcry”(187). Are some of these criticisms not legitimate? It is absolutely true that some of these criticisms have been brought upon themselves. In some aspects they may have excluded themselves from society rather than society out casting them. “The will of history is evolution new forms and progress change.(190)” It is quite evident that the Jewish man is opposed to anything that brings him from what he is. We can give them honor for suffering oppression that they brought upon themselves. But this honor, and opposition against the system has excluded them. The problem Bruno provides for us is that thos who suffered from oppression did so because of their lack of ability to develop within history. Those who migrated to the Americas, or France did not keep their pure identity. Thus, they were successful in their flee from oppression.
I feel almost uncomfortable talking about this topic because we are all brought up based upon the US Constitution, which grants freedom of religion, voice, etc. Indirectly, most of us choose not to voice and small for of question or ridicule of other’s religion. But Bruno’s argument on his first page is absolutely true. It seems that Jews can target criticisms of Christians without a “human rights” issue being raised while if the opposite happens all hell breaks loose. Right now I want to comment saying that what I am saying is in no way shape or form anti-Semitic, but just rereading my text it is absolutely neutral. For the first time I can confront this subject with which I always feel I am walking on eggshells. The reality of the “Jewish Problem is that both religions have been affected by the other, yet neither could over come the other(197). Christianity was created as a trail of Judaism, while Jewish critiques of Christianity would not have been made possible had it not been for Christian Scholarship. Thus the only way to liberate Jews from oppression is for there to be a free world; one which there is no longer prejudice; that prejudice for which the Jews themselves are responsible.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
A major advancement in Rousseau’s Discourse on the origin of Inequality is the understanding of man in his natural state. Man was guided by one thing…impulses. He lived for, and just enough time (similar to animals) for self-preservation; specifically, food, sex, and rest. Because of these basic needs, man had one tool, his necessary robust senses. He had everything he needed to survive. Rousseau states, “In instinct alone, man had everything he needed in order to live in the state of nature; in a cultivated reason, he has only what he needs to live in society” (34). Without these, he would not be fit enough to advance in life and reproduce. According to Rousseau, natural man does not have reason (37). Reason is something we learned or acquired. Thus, the knowledge of man is through perception and experiences. Natural man was significantly stronger than modern man because of the sheer lack of reliance on technology associated with modern man. Original man was prepared for any task because all he needed were his own forces, not tools (20). Natural man according to Rousseau was harmless. He, unlike the competitive civil man, is “gentle.” Rousseau writes, “When placed by nature at an equal distance from the stupidity of brutes and the fatal enlightenment of civil man….he is restrained by natural pity from needlessly harming anyone himself, even if he has been harmed” (50).
In respect with the existence of inequality, it has not always existed. Descartes essentially blames inequality on the existence of society. Man in his natural state, was completely different from the modern man in many aspects. Modern man according to Descartes is flawed. We have gone through “revolutions” as became farther from natural freedoms of man. As men developed, and changed from natural original man, he began to depend on many more things; namely, other people. The change first started in mans acquisition of pride. When one man is stronger than another in any aspect, he develops pride. This is all a result of unequal association. Eventually mankind became settled. A direct result of this, are laws of justice. Without these laws, clearly man free from any higher power, and is the judge of himself. Thus, in this state man is more free. Eventually, the establishment of the artificial institution of family came (47). Family is like a small society. Unlike original man, modern man in this society is now dependent on other people, and tools and different technology. Thus, original man was more free in a sense that he did not rely on anything but the tools that he was born with. He did not concern himself with anything besides self preservation which he spent all of his time doing. The ultimate move toward perfection of an individual seems to be great. Although according to Rousseau, is it “the decay of the species” (50).
Man was clearly free in his natural state. On the contrary, modern man has far less freedoms, one constraint is law. According to Rousseau, with the rid of law and the state, man would return to a state of natural freedom. The ultimate and direct cause of inequality, which is the predominant problem with society, is society itself. Rousseau uses an example with a blacksmith and a farmer both, who do an equal amount of work, one rendered far better off than the other (53) Thus, Rousseau concludes that, “it is natural inequality imperceptibly manifests itself together with inequality occasioned by the socialization process” (53). Therefore all problems such as thefts, poverty, violence, is a result of socialization in the eyes of Rousseau. And the major flaw of modernity; inequality, is legitimized and secured, with the establishment of property and its laws associated as a direct result (71). The existence of inequality was nonexistent in original natural man.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
In order to learn of the "specifics" of a subject, one must first have a thorough understanding of the "subject" in its most basic concepts. Here, we can see that this "specific" is the question of inequality, as it relates to the subject of the human being. And thus, it is the human being that we must fully understand before delving into anything relating directly to mankind's inequalities.
Much like Rene Descartes had begun from the "ground" and worked his way up in order to make his points, Rousseau also philosophizes in a similar way, as be wants to start at the very beginning of mankind. He sought to understand man, not in his current state, but instead, in his most primitive state - before reason, knowledge, science, and civilization fueled man's decline, as he believed it to have done.
Rousseau believes that the most we apply our knowledge and reason to understand the primitive, natural man, the further we travel from the truths we are seeking to find. We cannot use the modern, civilized tools (reason) that has been instilled in us over the ages to explore primitive man; to try and use modern ways of thinking to understand concepts from man's natural, uncivilized days of existence would be like trying to fix a metal nail into a wall by using a hammer made of soft clay - utterly useless, and the mere notion of it concludes a great falsity.
At this point, Descartes had come to mind once more, as he distinguished between objects and perceptions, realizing that we cannot use one (perception), to understand the other (object) because of their complete lack of relativity. Similar to this, Rousseau claims that we cannot thoroughly examine and understand man in his natural state through the use of our modern reasoning and science. We must instead examine solely the natural laws; those laws that "speak directly by the voice of nature" (13). Abiding only to the natural laws by which primal man existed, Rousseau identified what we thought to be the two most simple operations of the human soul" (14): primarily, well-being and our self-preservation, and secondly, our natural repugnance toward seeing other being, especially humans, suffer. With only these two aspects of the natural, primal human soul, Rousseau believes we had little to no inner conflict. Reason was the element, that once introduced, smothered the true, harmonious, natural laws of man.
A great irony in regards to Rousseau's claim that the use of reason is that which hinders us from understanding mankind's natural state, is that he uses exactly this kind of modern and civilized reasoning throughout his entire essay. It makes me wonder if the use of reason was, indeed, a primal, natural aspect of the human being; if it was never learned, but ingrained in us from the very beginning. Maybe Rousseau is using his reasoning in such an overt way that he does not even realize the naturalness of himself using it, even when trying to focus on subjects he claims that reason can't understand. How can one philosophize about subjects that they claim cannot be understood by reason, when philosophizing is, in itself, using reason to make conclusions - it is a complete paradox.
Friday, November 6, 2009
He begins by defining natural inequality and moral inequality (16). Natural inequality is determined by nature and includes age, health, and the quality of mind. Moral inequality is determined by men; it includes wealth and power. A major difference between the two is that moral inequality is privileges enjoyed at the expense of others. Rousseau establishes the types of inequalities in order to distinguish between the two later as having different origins.
Next, Rousseau explains the main differences between men and animals. The first is the way they make decisions. Animals choose or reject by instinct; men decide by an act of freedom (25). The example he uses to illustrate this difference is that an animal will not go against its nature even if it could save its own life, while men live to excess and kill themselves in the process. Rousseau explains that for men, the freedom of choice can be more powerful than their instincts: “The will speaks when nature is silent” (25). The second difference is the idea of self-perfection. Animals do not change over time and do not acquire or lose any knowledge during their lives. Men, on the other hand, have to deal with growing old and losing the perfection that had been developed.
Finally, Rousseau attempts to disprove Hobbes’ theory that man is naturally evil because he does not know goodness. Rousseau does so by utilizing the principle of pity. Pity is the disposition given to man to curb his desires of selfishness. It is universal, useful, precedes reflection and is natural (36). Even animals show pity. Rousseau illustrates that pity is the reason for benevolence, friendship and commiseration (37). “Nature, in giving men tears, bears witness that she gave the human race the softest hearts” (37).
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
When man was first created, they were equal by nature as are any other animals in nature. Ever since that point; however man has undergone changes. These changes did not all come at once or “in the same manner to all individuals” (11.) These changes are what sparked the first inequalities in humans. Some experienced changes for the better and some for the worse, all at different paces and in different forms. Rousseau then goes on to modestly explain how he does not believe he deserves much credit for this discovery as he came upon it using simple reasoning and guesses. He also explains how these finding hardly answer the question he poses about inequality but rather are steps in the direction of truth.
Some rhetorical questions that Rousseau poses are “What would be necessary to achieve knowledge of natural man?” and “What are the means to carry out these experiments in the midst of society?”(12.) He admits that the task of answering these questions is not possible due to the ignorance of the nature of man and the countless contrasting views of writers and philosophers. One question that he does attempt to answer however concerns natural rights and laws. He goes on to dissect these two ideas and concludes that natural rights are an individualistic concept and vary depending on the person. Everyone has their own concept and definition of rights and their purpose and limitations. He also points out that natural law can only be considered law when it is obeyed by all and that man is both aware of it and submissive.
Rousseau concludes his preface by analyzing the nature of humans in general, disregarding inequalities and society. He concludes that all men are sentient beings, as are all animals of nature. This being true, we are obliged to show compassion for both animals and each other. Upon taking a close look at the nature of man, it is clear that human establishment is built upon a sturdy and lasting foundation of self-dependence and respect. Rousseau closes his final statement by insightfully pointing out that man should be thankful of “him”, presumably God, for their unshakable foundation and happiness.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Passions in the soul is a consequent of an action in the body. The reason we differentiate the body from the soul is so that we know what functions correspond to each one. Descartes believes that what one can perceive is attributed by the body while what one cannot perceive, reflects the soul. One cannot define the body without knowing what the soul is; like the idea of not being able to know what finite things are unless you know what infinite things are. A person thinks with the soul and its movement corresponds to the actions of the body. Therefore, a person cannot not move with the help of the soul or cannot think with the body; two oxymoron in Descartes point of view. Many people confuse this idea because they believe that the body no longer has motion due to its separation of the soul after death. The body no longer has motion because its organs, the cause of its movements, have decayed.
The organs cause the bodily motions while the soul functions are determined by our thoughts, thoughts that are defined as the wills and perceptions of the soul. Descartes defines the will as a desire of wanting something and making it possible, such as the will to walk which makes the actual walking possible. Perception just becomes ease for the will to become true. As learned in class, “will is more free, the more it is inclined to what is true” (Vaught).
Passion is the wanting something and going for it. Passions make the soul desire what it wants for its body. Therefore, one can decipher that an individual’s passion somehow foreshadows the person’s actions carried out through the body because both passion and action are in truth a reflection of the other. Descartes separates the body and the soul in order to define each one’s purpose and by separating the two, we understand that both the body and the soul go hand in hand to form the single individual that completes us all.
What is the primary function that one can say links the body and soul together as a whole?
Why does Descartes want to differentiate the soul from the body yet still continues to show how they both stand hand in hand in relationship to an individual?