Honors: Political Assumptions: Week 5 Questions: Rousseau

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Honors: Political Assumptions: Week 5 Questions: Rousseau (Monique) & Smith (Heather)

1. Now, what does Rousseau think of Hobbes? What would our country be like today if we followed Hobbes more than Locke and Rousseau? (Remember, if it weren’t for Jefferson’s love for Rousseau and Locke, we would have started as a Hobbesian nation.)
2. What are the causes of inequality in modern society? (Rousseau writes as if there is one cause, but he actually gives a few overlapping causes.) What does inequality mean to you? How does it affect your life? Do you fall into the errors of property that Rousseau is railing against?
3. What do you think Rousseau means by this statement? “if you forget the fruits of the earth belong equally to all, and the earth itself to nobody.” Do you live your life in line with this statement? Give examples. Write down your reasons why you most often do not live this way. Now look back at those reasons, and give Rousseau’s response to them.
4. Explain Smith’s conception of sympathy. Explain the ways it is similar and dissimilar to the compassion of Rousseau’s savage. What effect does distance play in sympathy? What is the final message of the China earthquake story? (hint: it’s subtle)
5. Why do so many of us seek after luxury, and what does this have to do with sympathy? How does Providence (god) use this delusional desire to feed everyone? Do you think the “invisible hand” really ends up working out like this for the workers and poor? Why not?

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