Man’s Natural Goodness and his Corruption by Society

Mark Philp and Z. A. Pelczynski

in Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Rousseau

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780199645060
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741616 | DOI:
Man’s Natural Goodness and his Corruption by Society

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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

Chapter.  8337 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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