Jean-Jacques Rousseau


The Swiss philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712- 1778) believed that man is essentially good, when in “state of nature”. By that he meant that it is the creation of the type of societies and civilizations that we have today has turned the good people bad. He thought that our experiences in the society have made us corrupt, and we will continue to be unhappy if we continue to live like we do.

Instead he wanted small self –contained societies. He believed that in a smaller group you are more likely to help each other than if you live in a bigger society. By learning your children that they should help others before they help themselves the whole society will be better.  He also thought that no man alone should rule, you should take turn ruling. No man should be superior to another.


I think Jean Jacques is right when he says that it is easier to help someone we know then someone that we don’t know. You feel more compassion and empathy for someone when you know their story and background. To teach your children that they should help others before they help themselves is a nice thought, but not much likely to work in today’s society. We are selfish, and even though we often help others we don not wan to sacrifice our own happiness or wellbeing.


In a group I think you need a strong leader and somebody to look up to, and that no man should be superior then becomes a problem. In a crisis situation we need someone to take fast decisions, but we also need the mass to have a saying as well.


Self-contained societies are almost impossible today. We can not produce everything we eat on our own, we can not have a doctor or other specialist in every small society as Rousseau wanted. Our world today is too globalized and we are too dependent on others outside our community. For example Skara would not manage to “survive” on its own today without help and gods from the rest of the world. We could survive, but we would have to change our standard of living because we wouldn’t have all the products we have today.


What do you think about self-contained societies, would it be a good idea today?



If you want to read more about Jean- Jacques Rousseau click this link:



/ Kajsa

Postat av: Olof

A very interesting entry Kajsa!

As you say, it might be easier to help each other and to remain friends in self-contained societies, but I see one major problem with this: I today’s world, we have problems with pollution, exploitation of our resources etc. Do you think that it is possible to solve major problems like these in self-contained societies? I do not think that it is possible, since these problems affect us all, and I think that the key to survival is to remain united against these dilemmas. What do you think? Correct me if I am wrong!

Once again, well written!

2011-04-10 @ 19:48:12

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