“No Gods or Kings, only Man”
Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s work, “Emile, or On Education”, is a piece regarding his opinion on social institutions and how they affect the education of a person. Within the first sentences, he gives his two cents on the role of humans: “…everything degenerates in the hands of Man…” (37). He feels that there is a disparity between those who live in “…the abyss of the human species” (59), or, cities, are placed with a huge disadvantage to education when compared to those who live in the country. “Men are made not to be crowded into anthills but to be dispersed over the earth which they should cultivate. The more they come together, the more they are corrupted”(59).
Upon reading this, I felt a connection to a videogame that I had played a short time before known as, Bioshock. It is located in a subterranean world, under the Atlantic Ocean in which a community of the richest most cultured, and intelligent people of the human-race live away from the overbearing rules and constraints that society has contracted them into. Walking into the city, known as Rapture, a red curtain is draped from the corners of the roof with gold letters that read “No Gods or Kings, only Man”.
As stated in Book I of Rousseau, “…one must choose between making a man or a citizen, for one cannot make both at the same time” (39). Rousseau believes that a man is stronger than a citizen, for man is a product of nature, while a citizen is a product of the human-race. Ultimately, however, the human-race is subject to the rules of nature. Much in the same way, the founder of Rapture, a Man by the name of, Andrew Ryan feels that the rules of society are arbitrary, that while most would gladly live in a community of citizens, he would like to have a community of men, free from the restrains of human history. The irony is obvious however, that while trying to make a community of men, he is forcing men to be “crammed like sheep” (59), wherein he creates the corruption that he tried so hard to escape.