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Auteurs & Autrices :
  • Lojkine Stéphane

Résumé :

What does the word nature exactly represent in such an expression as "state of nature", which is precisely what knits up the whole demonstration in the second discourse? Rousseau explicitly refers himself to a twofold tradition: the recent, but clearly delineated tradition represented by the jus-naturalists and law philosophers 1 ; but also the older and less conspicuous one held by the scholastics and theologians: "It did not even occur to most of ours-i.e. our French philosophers-to doubt the possibility for a state of nature to have existed, whereas it is obvious, when one reads the sacred books, that, having received immediate enlightenment and precepts from God, the first man was not himself in that state, and when one adds to Moses' writings the faith owed to them by all Christian philosophers, one must deny that, even before the Flood, men should ever have found themselves in the pure state of nature, unless they had fallen back into that state in consequence of some extraordinary event." 2 From the state of nature, understood as the state of man in nature, as opposed to the state of man in society, Rousseau has slipped to the state of pure nature, which refers to the status purae naturae that one comes across in the works of Thomas Aquinas' commentators, Cajetanus, Suares and mostly Jansen, who places that notion at the heart of his Augustinus.

Type de document : Book section