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In some respects Nature is like the Christian concept of Providence, or God's involvement in the world.
Differences in wealth, power, status or class are moral inequalities; they involve one person benefiting at the expense of another.
Whilst many authors have confused it with the natural state of affairs, Rousseau insists that this type of inequality is a recent creation.
One of the aims of the reconstruction of human nature that Rousseau offers is to show that an idea of natural right was possible before man became social and created political institutions, and thus he claims that the state of nature was not the terrible place that some suggest. Nature - Nature does a great deal of work in the Discourse.
Several meanings of the term are evident: first, human nature is a description of a being's behavior and capabilities; second, Nature is a collection of living organisms, and the environment in which man exists; third, and most important, Nature is also a divine force or power, that directs and shapes human development.
Whilst the savage person cares only for his survival, civilized man also cares deeply about what others think about him.
This is a deeply harmful psychological deformation, linked to the development of human reason and political societies.Much of the Discourse is an attempt to imagine what such a state would be like, and a critique of similar attempts by other thinkers.Rousseau is particularly critical of Thomas Hobbes, who presented the state of nature in Leviathan as a "war of all against all." Hobbes also said that man's natural condition (his life) is "solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short." Rousseau insists that this model confuses the man who is deformed by the evolution of society with the natural man; it also confuses the state of nature with the civil state. Perfectibility - Man's inexhaustible ability to improve himself, to shape and to be shaped by his environment.In doing this, he questions the common idea that only rational beings (i.e.humans) can take part in natural law or have natural rights. Natural Right - Natural right is very often linked to natural law.The problem with such a definition, Rousseau argues, is that it emphasizes the role of reason, which may be a recent development.Instead, Rousseau founds his idea of natural right on the principles of pity and self-preservation, which, he claims, existed before reason.For man to "perfect himself" is not necessarily for him to become perfect, but rather for his physical and mental capacities to be remolded, time and time again.Perfectibility draws man out of his original condition, and is responsible for his extraordinary adaptability, but it is also the source of all his miseries.Natural law sets out a framework within which people act for their own utility, and which, for Hobbes and Grotius, is intended to provide a solid basis for ending religious and political disagreements.The question that the Discourse sets out to answer is whether inequality is authorized by natural law: that is, whether differences between men are "natural" and useful things. He asks how we can have a law of nature if we do not understand the real nature of man.