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The Making of Modern Liberalism$
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Alan Ryan

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691148403

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691148403.001.0001

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The Nature of Human Nature in Hobbes and Rousseau

The Nature of Human Nature in Hobbes and Rousseau

(p.220) 11 The Nature of Human Nature in Hobbes and Rousseau
The Making of Modern Liberalism

Alan Ryan

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines the similarities and divergences between Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau with regard to their account of human nature. It begins with a discussion of Hobbes's science of human nature, which is part of his science of nature in general. Hobbes's psychology is in principle reducible to physiology, and ultimately to physics. Self-maintenance is the major imperative facing the Hobbesian man. The chapter then considers Rousseau's claims, which he articulated in the Discourse on the Origins of Inequality, that men without society must be mere isolated animals. For Rousseau, natural man is not the noble savage, nor is he Hobbes's rational egoist. Both these conditions are social conditions and, in an important sense, nonnatural. There is a good deal of straightforward Hobbes-like utilitarianism in the Social Contract.

Keywords:   human nature, Thomas Hobbes, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, psychology, physiology, physics, self-maintenance, utilitarianism

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