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What is alike, and what is different in the way Rousseau and Buddha understand the human being?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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This is going to be a bit of a challenge because the Lord Buddha sought a spiritual way in which individuals can find salvation, while Rousseau sought a political expression of individual will.  There is a very strong element of an inability to find salvation within Rousseau, who is complex enough to be able to simply accept a potential political solution and rarely engage in the more nuanced notion of emotional and spiritual salvation.  One primary similarity in that both thinkers understand how there are limitations within mortality.  For Buddha, the individual feels pain and experiences difficulty when they are attached to want, attached to elements of consciousness that prevent the full understanding of who they are and in what they believe.  Rousseau agrees with this to a certain extent in that he believes that the destructive type of self love, amour de soi- a self love only seen through the eyes of others, helps to get in the way of individuals being able to understand their true essence and prevents any real and lasting connection to be formed to both one another and to self.

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