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History's Impact on Today

Updated on August 15, 2012

The Impact History Has On Life Today

Imagine the life of a supposedly intelligent creature that has to fend for himself without physical defensive traits such as claws to scratch or teeth to bite. This intelligent creature has neither speed to evade danger, nor the skill to sense danger before it gets near. This creature has no technologies to make his life easier, nor the weapon to keep him completely safe from unwanted species in the wilderness. What this creature does have is his intelligence. This intelligence is what makes him human. With respect to the animals that are empowered with more strength than their ability to be shifty; men are weaker creatures that use the animal’s weakness as an advantage to survive by deciding whether or not he will fight back or avoid the confrontation (R 28). Although humans are generally weaker and slower than most animals on this vast planet, humans have something that many creatures lack. Humans have the ability to use the possessions in his surroundings as tools to do the things that he is incapable of doing with his bear hands. For example, the use of woods to sustain a fire, because of the lack of fur to keep him warm. This paper will discuss the evolution of inequality and the different ways it helped shape society.

Rousseau believes that it takes more than speech for a man to be able to think, because men had to think in order to invent speech (R 39). It makes complete sense that a man has to think before he can develop a language, because language takes a certain amount of intellectual and desire to develop into a universal tool to communicate to one another. According to Rousseau, a man is stunned by knowledge (R 43). The fact of the matter is that man is not distinct from animals by the fact that they can speak to each other. Men have a higher brain capacity and problem solving skills than other creatures do, and he is capable of learning from his predecessor’s mistakes. The man is usually taught, by his ancestors, the best way to grow and maintain a farm, and the best place to go hunting for food, and the technique that have worked for him. The man’s ancestors will also teach him the traditions and culture of his history, and give him a purpose in life to accomplish being the person his ancestors wants him to be.

In 1630, King Henry ceased all land of monasteries and told the monks to leave and get married (N). Rousseau’s idea is influenced by King Henry’s decision because he has to sacrifice religion in his country so that he can achieve having more buildings to handle tax matters. Rousseau’s said in his writing that wise men noticed that they have to give up parts of their freedom so that they can enjoy other things, just like a wounded man has to cut his arm off in order to prevent the rest of his body from being affected (R 69).

Europe’s social engagement with the world shaped Rousseau’s ideas significantly in many ways. For example, the Petition of Rights in 1628, which declared that unless Parliament votes on taxes, it will be illegal for the king to pass it; it also showed discontent with soldiers quartering in the private houses of the people, and banned the imprisonment of people for personal wants and from random imprisonment (CS 441). Basically stating that humans do not need to be governed by anyone to have a good life, Rousseau says that a free person that does not worry and has a healthy body does not have misery (R 43). One may believe that a man that is overwhelmed with too much freedom will abuse it for their own inconsiderate interest, thus one may think he needs rules and regulations to keep him in check. As for the first men who were naked, did not have a house, and lacked all the things modern people think they cannot do without is not an adversity and is definitely not a survival issue (R 31). This comes to show that valuable objects, such as silver and gold, are not necessary for survival and happiness, for a man is happiest when he is capable of feeding and providing shelter for his family. It is also coherent to say that man did not just simply choose to join each other so that they can call themselves a nation, instead for the things they have in common. As a result of men migrating across the world, they eventually began to settle; these men gradually joined each other and later formed a nation based on similar cultures, and common influence of their climates (R 60). Human have a natural attraction to people with similar traits and characteristics. If a variety of different people were to be put together in one big group, as time goes by, they will split into many groups based on appearance first, and then similar interest.

In the instance of a conquest it is not the right of a conqueror to conquer another’s land, therefore the people who are being conquered will remain in a state of war until the conquered people get their freedom and actually get to voluntarily participate in the voting of the ruler (R 70). When a group of people are forced to be led by someone they did not vote for, they tend to despise the person and will eventually lead into a violent revolt, if he continues to fail to cooperate with the people. It has happened many times in history and will continue to happen as more and more undesirable and dishonest leader takes office. In Vienna, a large number of students and artisans tried to demand political and social reforms by building barricades with furniture, and anything they can find from off the streets, and they also attacked the imperial palace (CS 649).

Not only does Rousseau’s ideas are influenced by European social society, but it was also influenced by European economy. The industrial revolution began in the Kingdom of England causing the country to be secured with a strong overseas power, filled with ample supplies of coal, and covered with a network of canals that gave easy access to water (N). They produced many coals as a result of the need for more industries away from water, and the canal network was to make transporting goods from different parts of the country more efficient. The three main things during the industrial revolution are the mechanized cotton production, coal, and railroads (N). Because of the use of mechanized cotton production, there needed to be a faster way to transport the cottons so that more money could be made more efficiently. Thus, the ideas from the machines used to make cotton production easier, was being used to make trains that can transport goods. As trains get more and more popular, the need for better more refined coal became eminent for the business men destined for more money. It is safe to say that the first step toward inequality began when people started to regard the person that looks the best, or outdo the majority of their surroundings in one form or another (R 60). For example, one would see that everyone pays more attention, and wants to be friends with the person with the most skill in whatever task or sport that person is involved in.

The scientific revolution is another way that the Rousseau’s ideas were shaped. The scientific revolution is the point in time when medieval artists as well as intellectuals had been experimenting and observing the natural world (CS 494). When men first began to study the natural world, it started off from venturing around the world in search of new resources. As men search for new resources, they began to settle in many different areas around the world. This evidently led to the construction of nations that unite men together. After men have figured out what they were destined to know about the world, they began to observe things in details. For example, the study of the universe had been and still is the main interest of men. It first started when men wanted to know whether the sun revolves around the earth or if the earth revolves around the sun, then scientists wanted to know the different planets that are closest to the earth. As time goes by and scientists gets started to invent better telescopes and technologies for the study of the universe, they began to try to broaden their horizon by trying to find out if there are other planets just like the earth in the universe. This brought about newly advanced technologies to make a lot of things more possible in the world. It also started to have a huge impact in the commercial industry and the uniting of the world. Technologies carried over from the space related observations to medical advancement, thus making it possible to cure and avoid deadly diseases.

Although the curiosity level of the human to discover and invent many things has been high, and a lot of technological advancements have been increased, there are plenty of things wrong with society because of it. If it was not for the inventions of such advanced technologies, men would not have such an urge to do whatever it takes to achieve getting them. Men now find it difficult to live without technologies, opposing to the ancient days when the only desire men had was food, security, and water. The crime rate, when men were free to do whatever they want was lower because of the absence of a strict society that prohibits many aspects of freedom of the people. People evidently looked towards violence in order to gain their freedoms back and sometimes tried to evade getting in trouble with the implementation of violence. Another thing that caused the downfall of a better life as a human is desire for a certain type of passion called ambition and success. When human has ambition, they tend to be depressed whenever they run into failure and doubts that they cannot achieve success. Men develop stress from trying to attain more knowledge than the man competing with him; men began to believe that just by being smart, they are automatically better than everyone else, but that is not true. It is a well-rounded man that knows how to set goals to make himself happy, and the people who he loves and cares about. A man who has a college degree automatically thinks that he is better and smarter than someone who does not have a college degree. It is the wrong mindset to have, because some men have their life goals planned out and have already started achieving their goals, knowing that college is not necessary for their success. Others may be so poor that they are not eligible for a loan, and is not able to afford to go to college. For when a man just do not have the talent or the skill to accomplish something out of their reach, he will live his life thinking that he is worthless and will never get to be a “real man”. As one may conceive, a real man is a man who is confident, strong, and talented in a so called “manly sport or job”. If the concept of being a real man means that one has to be strong, then the weak will live their lives thinking that they will be able to reach their society’s standards of success.

Some of the most unfair advantages some men have over others are the instances when they are born into a rich family. A rich man can be what they want to be and buy whatever they want to without the break of a sweat. It is unfair to the poor man, who has to start from scratch to achieve a substantial amount of success. He has to compete with all the other men in his occupational group for the top possessions. With the majority of the population being average, it is very difficult and stressing to be able to do the things in life that he has always dreamt about. The rich man, who was already born into a rich family usually look down on the man below him who is trying to work his heart out trying to achieve great success. Not having to know what it feels like to be hungry, nor the knowledge of what it is like to put your all into something only to have it being denied over and over again, the rich man thinks that it is easier to be a poor person.

As human has progressed from their prehistoric days when there were no such things such as a standard language, nor a society of people with similar cultures, they have always been learning every day the values of life and what it takes to survive in this world effectively. Older generations gave younger generations the knowledge they need to learn from, and add to it so that they can teach the next generations the combinations of the knowledge of all the generations compiled together. Europe have depicted the ideas of Rousseau in many ways in the seventeenth and eighteenth century. The way society used to be when there were no such thing as states, will be less likely to happen unless men completely forget their history and present knowledge, and all trace of civilization disappears.

Works Cited

Key: CS- Coffin and Stacey, Wester Civilizations (textbook)

R- Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on Inequality;

Z- Emile Zola, Germinal


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