Wiker on Rousseau (in “10 Books that Screwed up the World”)

In another chapter of his book, Wiker examines Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality among Men, i.e. one of the ten books that have screwed up our world. Essentially, as I understand it, Rousseau is – among other things – the intellectual “father” of the egotistical view of ”freedom” so prevalent in our own day: “freedom” means that I have the right to do whatever I choose to do, with no restrictions based on some external moral authority. Of course, many try to temper this idea by arguing that this freedom is actually limited by restrictions on doing anything that would “harm” another. But, since there is no recognized ethical authority outside of one’s own desires, the individual decides whether or not their actions “harm” another, which means they can do whatever they they determine is just and fair. They are a law unto themselves. They decide what is good and evil.  For instance, now-a-days people promote their ”freedom”, their ”right” to choose, by simply denying the humanity of unborn human beings. Their freedom is based on the complete denial of another’s freedom, yet they scream about their “freedom”, their “choice” at the top of their lungs! Of course, how Rousseau got us here, at least in my reading of Wiker on Rousseau, will have to be dealt with in other posts!