The Relationship between Rousseau and the State of Nature

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Question: Rousseau is at home in nature, since being at home is when we are surrounded with things that reinforce who we really are.


            The story begins by exploring Reveries of Solitary Walker to enhance the understanding of specific genre in nature writing. Rousseau had identified particular natural surroundings that were uniquely good for him. From Rousseau point of view, people’s social interactions are the cause of all wrong and corrupt nature of individuals. This is because when one is born he or she is free in the state of nature and they own sense of love that is purely a functional expression in the world. During his walks in all places he went, he remembered home as the best and comfortable place. This paper will argue points based on the fact that being at home in nature is good since we are surrounded by things that make us appear or behave differently.

            The article illustrates the relationship that exists between the human race and the environment. It is bringing the actual evidence the human the existence of a being is defined by the conditions that nature provides. In the article, the environmental problem is one of the significant points of concern for Rousseau since he terms this as a habitat that offers a comfortable living for an individual. In this context home in nature is the most important thing especially to Rousseau according to the following arguments.

            This is done because humanity is bound to make a severe transformation on the environment that is likely to threaten human nature. He further argues that “our environmental problems are intimately tied to our denaturalized human character. As long as human desires, inflamed by the restless passion that Rousseau characterizes as amour-propre remain both comparative and individualistic, they will be infinite.”

            Rousseau acknowledges his home in nature as exemplified in most of his statements as follows, “…of all the places where I have lived, and I have lived in some charming ones, none has made me so truly happy or left me such sweet regrets as St Pierre in the middle of Lac.” The above statement indicates how he treasured home more than anything else since he always emphasized that several times. It is a beautiful and pleasant place that is situated with happiness for any man who wishes to live his life to the fullest. He says he is the only person in the world whose destiny has decreed he must live that way.

            Throughout the article, Rousseau takes a quite cynical take on civil society and the events that led up to the formation of society as a whole. Rousseau continually criticizes human reason and rational thinking and explains how it has torn humans away from their original instead “State of Nature.” He holds a firm stance that, “excesses of all kinds, immoderate transports of every passion, fatigue, exhaustion of mind, the innumerable sorrows and anxieties that people in all classes suffer, and by which the human soul is constantly tormented: these are the fatal proofs that most of our ills are of our own making,” (Rousseau, 1992). Rousseau believed in the idea that natural inequality has always happened between men, but moral disparities will inevitably be the downfall of all human civilization if a return or attempt at returning to the original State of Nature does not happen. Instead, as distinctions between classes grew in Europe, particularly in France, Rousseau noted that the only way to return to the State of Nature would be to get rid of all distinctions between classes and let natural inequality once again determine the fate of all individuals.

            Rousseau explains, “The people, already accustomed to dependence, tranquility, and the conveniences of life, and already incapable of breaking their chains, consented to let their servitude increase to secure their tranquility,” (Rousseau, 1992). For that reason, Rousseau believes that when people leave the security and tranquility of opposition, they will finally be able to return to the original State of Nature. Although both men share stances regarding the same premise, and a reader can see how some of Rousseau’s ideas were formed from the         Enlightenment, these ideas still sit on different ends of the Enlightenment spectrum.

Instead of the enlightened age, where human reasoning was prominent, Rousseau wanted to return to the State of Nature where solitary, nomadic, and innocent human beings triumphed over human reason. During the Enlightenment, instead of worrying about “amour proper,” or self-love and self-preservation, men became accustomed to having amounts of leisure time to spend on various activities. Rousseau criticizes this saying, “men enjoyed a great deal of leisure time…and that was the first yoke they imposed on themselves without realizing it,” (Rousseau, 1992).

            Home is what defines a human being. Just like Rousseau argues, the society is only an invention. In his attempt to explain human beings’ nature through stripping them of all the qualities that come about through socialization, it is evident that the immediate environment for human beings which is at home with family is what determines an individual’s identity. Therefore, to understand the nature of human beings, all that is needed is to understand how they are in nature’s pure state. This can only happen by evaluating an individual when at the immediate home environment. While at home, one is not corrupted by civilization and process of socialization.

            The natural man is the one who is timid, isolated, mute, and peaceful and without any sort of foresight to worry about what the future brings. Only the home can provide such an environment. Even though the human being is good, the “noble savage” has freedom from all vices that affect human in the entire civil society. Rousseau identifies himself as an individual who is not much involved in the life of politics of human beings due to the reason that he was “exiled” from the human race by an accord that is “unanimous” of the entire humanity. In support of his argument and the statement mentioned above. Besides, he does not advocate for a return to the natural state; however, some critics and commentators, including his contemporaries, the likes of Voltaire, have such a view about Rousseau.

            While away from home, one is bound by laws which are according to the general will, however, good citizens will always love and respect their fellow citizens and state as well. Citizens will therefore only see the law’s value that is intrinsic, even in cases when it may have conflicts with their will or what they learned from their parents or immediate home environment while growing up.

            Further, it is at the home sphere where basic needs are well taken care of. Rousseau argues that all other requirements are as a result of passions, which cause people to have the desire of a given activity or object. In the natural state, the necessary human beings are restricted to only the things that ensure their reproduction and survival, up to and including food, sleep, and sex. Contrastingly, as division and cooperation of labor gets to develop in the modern society, men's needs get to multiply to entail various other things that are non-essential. This is to emphasize that man's basic wants and needs can readily be made available at the home sphere.

            From the above illustrations on the fact that when Rousseau is at home in nature is better due to the accompanying advantages, it is clear that all things that reinforce human beings' nature are found in the home sphere.  Rousseau backs this up with the argument that all the ideas that with time have affected the real life of human beings need to be done away with. It is therefore clear that law, property and other moral inequalities do not have the natural basis.  Just like some environmental thinkers who are radical, the idea that people can overcome their being estranged from nature by subliming their consciousness supports the main argument above. Being at home in nature is good since we are surrounded by things that make us appear or behave differently. It is at home where the sense of self and perception of the natural world is well embedded.



Lane, J. H. (2006). Reverie and the return to nature: Rousseau's experience of             convergence. The Review of politics, 68(3), 474-498.

Rousseau, J. J. (1992). The reveries of the solitary walker. Hackett Publishing.

August 14, 2023

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