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Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Rousseau$
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John Plamenatz, Mark Philp, and Zbigniew Pelczynski

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199645060

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199645060.001.0001

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Man’s Natural Goodness and his Corruption by Society

Man’s Natural Goodness and his Corruption by Society

(p.208) 14 Man’s Natural Goodness and his Corruption by Society
Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Rousseau

Mark Philp

Z. A. Pelczynski

Oxford University Press

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

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