Define and compare Aristotle's two versions of self-love and Rousseau's "amour de soi-meme" and "amour propre."

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In Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle describes two types of self-love. The first is basically the desire for physical pleasure, wealth, and power. This form of self-love is not virtuous, because it can tend to be harmful to other people in society. If someone always acts out of this form of self-love, they will take things from other people and place themselves above all others. True self-love, according to Aristotle, consists of doing what is virtuous and right and acting out of what is best for everyone. The irony is that this person will probably actually wind up receiving the fame and accolades pursued by people who act out of the other form of self-love.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau also understood self-love in two different ways. The major difference is that he saw authentic and natural self-love as essentially trying to satisfy one's own needs. This kind of self-love, which he called amour de soi, was what he imagined motivated people in the state of nature before people entered into society. The other form of self-love, which Rousseau called amour-propre, was outward-looking, judging oneself by the way they were seen by others. This led people to compare their own possessions, appearance, sexual desirability, and other characteristics to that of others, which led, according to Rousseau, to jealousy and greed—the hallmarks of modern society. Much of what Aristotle described as virtue, Rousseau saw as the corrupt trappings of human society and a departure from the state of nature.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on January 7, 2020
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