The text was written in 1754 in response to a prize competition of the Academy of Dijon answering the prompt: What is the origin of inequality among people, and is it authorized by natural law? Though he was not recognized by the prize committee for this piece (as he had been for the Discourse on the Arts and Sciences) he nevertheless published the text in 1755.
Discourse on the Origin and Basis of Inequality Among Men (French: Discours sur l'origine et les fondements de l'inégalité parmi les hommes), also commonly known as the "Second Discourse", is a work by philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau.
Rousseau first exposes in this work his conception of a human state of nature, presented as a philosophical fiction (like by Thomas Hobbes, unlike by John Locke), and of human perfectibility, an early idea of progress. He then explains the way, according to him, people may have established civil society, which leads him to present private property as the original source and basis of all inequality.
- INTRODUCTORY NOTE
- FIRST PART
- SECOND PART