So with society man cannot be justly happy? But I sit here now with a smile on my face; I go to the movies and hear people speak of bliss, I read the paper and understand certain article to be “good news,” so I must ask Rousseau how this is not happiness? The key here is to find a way to differentiate between the happiness Rousseau is talking about and the happiness we have come to accept today. Happiness, like so many things In the state of modern man, is born and created through subjectivity.
Just like Plat’s cave, whether we are those shackled or those that run free, we all see he rock.And maybe to some that rock Is projected, but why does that matter? The shackled ones see that projection and that Is their reality, Just as the philosophers see a rock In the shelling sun and that Is their reality. So who’s to say which reality Is better? In terms of Rousseau happiness we are content until we break from our savage man and began to search for something more. When we question our reality we break free of happiness, when we wonder what more there is to know we take ourselves from the simplistic contentment of savage and complicate our lives with useless cocktail knowledge.Since it is obvious that the Republic is a piece of literature that Rousseau often refers back to and appreciates; we find hypocrisy. That is to say that the Philosophers that come down and break the shackled ones from their state of content with the projection, that pull them from the cave and shows them the real rock, are only teaching them something new, something useless, and therefore something that Is counter-Intuitive to the type of happiness Rousseau defines. So here we find the first piece of evidence against Rousseau Idea of malcontent of the modern man.
Here we are at a crossroads: can we call ourselves happy if we break from our objectivity? Or does it matter? Ultimately, Rousseau is correct in the sense that if we take an objective look at society as a whole, it hasn’t really accomplished anything. Our definitions, our sciences, our religions have not made us happier; they have simply made things more complex for us. The thing is, though, that we do not have objective perspective. We see our lives only through our own eyes; we experience things only through our own minds and actions.We do not know what the person next to us Is thinking, how they might react to being hit, how they may interpret our language. We know only how we think. So we can only define happiness by our own means.
The tricky part here Is that there Is some hypocrisy In the statement Just made. Happiness is something of value. In meaning that man does not define happiness ourselves. We must see starving children in Africa, we must know someone homeless on the streets; we must feel sympathy. In the literal sense, not the Rousseau, we must feel pity.Only until we see this degradation, can we compare and tell ourselves that we are happy because we are not what they are. With this we must then say that for there to be happiness there must be value.
And for value to be real there must be society. Since when man is on his own he has no means to compare, so he has no means to value. And in the absence of value we cannot find happiness, we can only find bland contentment. Just as Rousseau states that in his state of nature there is no evil because man cannot know of any evil, he sees no purpose behind it.We can then also state that savage man can know no good, other than good for himself, because he sees no purpose behind it. And with that we can say that man knows no happiness, because happiness requires comparison, and man knows no comparison in the state of nature. To conclude we must take what has been said and make sense of.
The argument is tricky in the respect that it states the need for objectivity to define happiness, but that happiness is ultimately subjective.What is meant by this is that although we know no happiness without value through objectivity, we also vary in our personal definitions of happiness. One may be happy for killing their wife, while another may be riddled with despair over the mistake of pulling the trigger. Happiness is defined by the general value of mankind, but each individual makes it fit to their own means. With this we can say that savage man knew no happiness and only socialized man does.