The First and Second Discourses: By Jean-Jacques Rousseau - Chapter 1, A Discourse on the Moral Effects of the Arts and Sciences, Part I Summary & Analysis

Roger Masters
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Chapter 1, A Discourse on the Moral Effects of the Arts and Sciences, Part I Summary and Analysis

The First Discourse begins by wondering whether morality is improved or undermined by restoring the arts and sciences. Rousseau is concerned that a fair treatment of the matter is difficult. He starts the Discourse remarking the men are coming to a new sort of reason following many centuries of European barbarism and the new kind of reason requires revolution. Science and art have fallen apart but in their resurrection, they can survive under law and government. Unfortunately, the sciences and arts have become dictatorial and restrict the original liberty of men; further, it causes men to love these restrictions. Yet, paradoxically, these restrictions make people civilized.

Before the advent of art, humanity possesses a natural...

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