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RousseauÐ'Ò'S Savage

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A savage man as Rousseau describes himÐ'--an illusion or real history?

To convince us in the decline of morality connected with the introduction of civil society, Rousseau gives a colourful description of man as he was made by natureÐ'--a savage man. With his help Rousseau tries to show the weekness of modern man and bad sides of the modern society. But is this comparison

justified? Has there really ever been a happy time with independent and innocent men or is the famous philosopher just longing the illusion? I am sure that a lot of arguments can be presented here from different fields of science and knowledge, but I would like to concentrate on those based on biology.

First, it is important to notice that we are not talking about an ancestor of human as we know him today, not about an ape or a neanderthal man. As Rousseau puts it:"I shall soppose him to have been formed from all time as I see him today: walking on two feet, using his hands as we do ours, directing his gaze on all of nature, and measuring the vast expanse of heaven with his eyes".This should be remembered because in the light of this sentence, the following statements that Rousseau makes, gain a quite different meaning.

To start with ,one could ask if the lonely and totally independent existence of man is really possible. Rousseau describes the peaceful life of the savage man:"I see him satisfying his hunger under an ouk, quenching his thirst at the first stream, finding his bed at the foot of the same tree, that furnished his meal; and therewith his needs are satisfied." Seems too good to be true. But if there is not enough food and water? What if wild animals use his sleep to attack and kill him? To prevent such miserable prospects, savage man has to store food and built a shelter. But that would mean that he has some fosight and this is in contradiction withRousseau's views of savage man. Actually it should not, because from the quotation in the second paragraph one can assume that this ancient man has reached some level of intelligence and is at least capable of learning. He should therefor try to avoid the unpleasant experience in the past. One way to do this is to cooperate with others. To live completely on one's own is not difficult just from the physical aspect but also from that of psychology. Man is a social animal and needs communication with others for normal development and existence. It can be also seen on our closest relatives apes, that perish quietly , when they are on some reason separated from the others.

Rousseau admits that there were cases when men(in the meaning of men and women) did get together. It was to have intercouse with each other. But again a contradiction with nature can be found. Rousseau is on the opinion that fighting for a woman is a result of modern society and its moral laws and that in the ancient times every man just took the woman that crossed his way and no competition was known


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