Monday, August 5, 2013

Note on 'the stag hunt'

Continuing my plod through Rousseau's Second Discourse (see earlier post), I'm slightly surprised to discover that 'the stag hunt' (or the deer hunt), made quite a bit of by Waltz in Man, the State and War (and probably by some other authors who are not instantly coming to mind), seems to occupy no more than one short paragraph: were able imperceptibly to acquire some crude idea of mutual commitments and of the advantage of fulfilling them, but only as far as present and palpable interest could demand, for foresight meant nothing to them, and far from being interested in a distant future, they hardly thought of the next day. If it was a matter of catching a deer, each certainly felt strongly that for this purpose he ought to remain faithfully at his post, but if a hare happened to pass within reach of one of them, it must not be doubted that he pursued it without scruple, and that, having caught his prey, he troubled himself very little about having caused his companions to miss theirs.
(Rousseau's Political Writings, Norton Critical Ed., p.36)      

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