Rousseau first exposes in this work his conception of a human state of nature, presented as a philosophical fiction, and of human perfectibility, an early idea of progress. He then explains the way, according to him, people may have established civil society, which leads him to present private property as the original source and basis of all inequality.
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? Though he was not recognized by the prize committee for this piece (as he had been for the Discourse on the Arts and Sciences) he nevertheless published the text in 1755.
Are there preferred translations into english for Rousseau's writings? In particular the social contract and the discourse on the origin of inequality?
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