Rousseau’s Well-Considered Project

Graeme Garrard traces the origin of the Counte...

Graeme Garrard traces the origin of the Counter-Enlightenment to Rousseau. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What, exactly, is the “most well-considered project ever to enter the human mind” (Williams, 117)?

In this part of the essay, Rousseau is arguing against the power that the most powerful men in society have. He accuses them of being “greedy, ambitious and wicked” (William 116) and asks them: “do you not know that a great many of your brothers perish or suffer from need of what you have in excess?” (William 117). Rousseau blames these rich powerful men for crushing the individual who is “alone against all” (Williams 117). However, he also points out, in a rather accusatory way, that an individual is also someone who is “alone against all, and unable because their mutual jealousies, to unite with his equals against enemies united by the common hope of plunder” (117). Though individuals were for many years unable to unite with his equals against their true enemies (the greedy rich), they did finally manage to conceive “the most well-considered project ever to enter the human mind” (Williams, 117). This well-considered project is the idea of using one’s attackers’ forces against him, to make one’s adversaries and enemies his defenders, and to give society other institutions that are in favor or the natural rights of man (Williams, 117). In other words, the most well-considered project ever to enter the human mind is the idea that a man unites with his adversaries who are their equals against their true enemies (those who are against the natural rights of man).

Williams, David. The Enlightenment. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge UP, 1999. Print.

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