What is the difference in views of owning property between Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Thomas Hobbes?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that the primary difference between both philosophers is that Rousseau holds out a bit more of hope and redemption in his view of human beings.  This is something that Hobbes lacks in his thinking.  Rousseau believes that if individuals can rid themselves of their amour de soi, love of self as generated by others' perceptions, they can adopt a mentality of wealth and property that is geared towards a more communitarian actualization, a reflection of amour propre.  For Rousseau, property ownership can be more of a public issue.  He does hold some level of possible redemption in terms of his assertion that society is what ends up corrupting the basic tenet of how human beings view themselves and how property is a part of this.  Hobbes is much more direct about his ideas that a larger and more oppressive force is needed to keep the baser and more disgusting aspects of human self- interest in check.  Hobbes is open about the fact that human beings' sense of ego is uncontrollable, unless there is a larger force to repress all of these elements.  For Hobbes, property ownership is no different, as it will be used as a ploy to create inequality between individuals and as a tool of control.  In this, Hobbes' view of property has to be something that individuals interact with on the level of appetite satisfaction.  It is here where I think that the fundamental difference between Hobbes and Rousseau is evident.

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