Natural Law - Natural law theory is a complex tradition to which Rousseau reacts in the Discourse.
Its chief modern figures were theorists such as Hobbes, Grotius and Pufendorf.
Whilst the savage person cares only for his survival, civilized man also cares deeply about what others think about him.
This is a deeply harmful psychological deformation, linked to the development of human reason and political societies.
Nature in its various forms is a central theme in Rousseau's philosophy. The State of Nature - An imaginary condition before human societies developed, in which man's true nature is apparent.
The state of nature is a traditional starting point for thinkers attempting to derive a theory of society and politics from the nature of man.The problem with such a definition, Rousseau argues, is that it emphasizes the role of reason, which may be a recent development.Instead, Rousseau founds his idea of natural right on the principles of pity and self-preservation, which, he claims, existed before reason.Natural law sets out a framework within which people act for their own utility, and which, for Hobbes and Grotius, is intended to provide a solid basis for ending religious and political disagreements.The question that the Discourse sets out to answer is whether inequality is authorized by natural law: that is, whether differences between men are "natural" and useful things. He asks how we can have a law of nature if we do not understand the real nature of man.In some respects Nature is like the Christian concept of Providence, or God's involvement in the world.Perfectibility and the natural catastrophes that shape human development are part of the divine being's plan for man, expressed through nature.It creates enlightenment and man's virtues, but also all of his vices.Physical Inequality - Also called Natural inequality, physical inequality results from natural differences in physical and mental abilities and is established by Nature.Differences in wealth, power, status or class are moral inequalities; they involve one person benefiting at the expense of another.Whilst many authors have confused it with the natural state of affairs, Rousseau insists that this type of inequality is a recent creation.