Concept

Discourse on Inequality

Summary
Discourse on the Origin and Basis of Inequality Among Men (Discours sur l'origine et les fondements de l'inégalité parmi les hommes), also commonly known as the "Second Discourse", is a 1755 work by philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Rousseau first exposes in this work his conception of a human state of nature, broadly believed to be a hypothetical thought exercise and of human perfectibility, an early idea of progress. He then explains the way in which, in his view, people may have established civil society, and this leads him to conclude that private property is the original source and basis of all inequality. Context The text was written in 1754 in response to a prize competition of the Academy of Dijon answering the prompt: "What is the origin of inequality among people, and is it authorized by natural law?" Rousseau did not win with his treatise (as he had for the Discourse on the Arts and Sciences); a canon of Besançon by the name of François Xavier Talbert (l'abbé Ta
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