Jean Jacques Rousseau by haley sweat and lena keyser


Jean Jacques Rousseau was born in Geneva, Switzerland on June 28, 1712. His family were pious Calvinist refugees from France. Shortly after he was born his mother passed away due to childbirth complications. His father on the other hand was a poor watch maker who also doubled as a master in the art of dance. When Rousseau was ten his father fled to an unknown location leaving his son to be raised by Jean's aunt. By the time he was twelve years old Rousseau decided to drop out of traditional schooling to pursue apprenticeship opportunities, unfortunately he had no success. In 1728 he ran away from Geneva and joined the Catholic Church. Overtime he became a footman for a noblewoman in Annecy and later was a lover to a wealthy widow who would be his financial supporter for his hobbies in the arts. Ten years later Rousseau journeyed to Montpellier to try and improve his health, and when he returned he discovered that his lover had found another man.

This is a picture of Jean Jacques Rousseau's childhood home. Where he would have spent most of his childhood before he moved to stay with his aunt.

Later on in his career he attempted to be a teacher but realized quickly he did not like the profession. He developed a new system of musical notation that was never recognized. Rousseau eventually became the secretary to a French Ambassador in Venice and was fired. Feeling defeated he moved back to Paris. Back in Paris he took a mistress named Therese le Vassuer who he eventually married, and would have five kids with. Despite how wonderful this large family life might sound, Rousseau actually took all five of them to the Foundling Hospital to be raised as orphans. His career would flourish in the 1750s which will be explained in the passages below, until finally in 1762 he was exiled. Due to the religious and governmental content in his works "The Social Contract" and "Emile" he was exiled by the government. Rousseau would return to Paris in 1770. In his later life he would publish many more less offensive works and even an opera. However as time progressed he began suffering from psychological illness especially when it came to feelings of persecution. Because of this he decided to live in a cottage at Ermenonville to escape from it all during the last few months of his life. Finally on July 2, 1778 Jean Jacques Rousseau succumbed to his mental and physical health problems and died of a stroke.

Rousseau's tomb is located in the Panthéon, Paris, France

Enlightenment Ideas

Jean Jacques Rousseau's works during the Enlightened made a mark on the people of that era. One of his most infamous collections of writing is titled "Emile". This novel was written by Rousseau to shine a light on his personal education beliefs. "Emile" consists of five books each representing the different stages of learning. For example in Book 1, the author discusses the goodness of men and how children should be kept away from bad habits while Rousseau discusses the importance and purpose of education, a good school environment, self motivating learning, discipline and physical education in Book 2. The other three books discuss preadolescence, puberty and adulthood.

Rousseau was also an extremely intelligent philosopher who believed in many new ideas in his time. One of his beliefs was that people are inherently good but they become corrupted over time by the evil of society. This was a major change in belief from the Catholic Church at the time who adamantly believed that all men are born with original sin. Rousseau also believed in equality, liberty and freedom during his time. His quotes are commonly recognized all around the world today as models of living and deep intellectual thought provokers. Such as the famous quotes, "No man has natural authority over his fellow man" and "Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains."

Modern Legacy

Over the years Rousseau's thinking was and continues to have a powerful influence on many philosophers and political theorists. His work can often be found in quite in a few liberal theories, communitarian ideas, civic republicanism and as well in theories of deliberative and participatory democracy. As time continues many writers have continued to use him as an inspiration for authoritarian aspects during the French Revolution.

However his most significant impact was on Immanuel Kant. Kant had a portrait of Rousseau in his home and according to legend the one and only time he ever forgot to go on his daily walk was one afternoon when he was reading "Emile". Some other examples of Rousseau's vast influence can be found in the "Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals" which alludes to his work entitled "The Social Contract". In current/contemporary political philosophy many philosophers believe that John Rawls shares the same view points that Rousseau had in his time. This is especially noticeable in the work "A Theory of Justice" which reflects on the influence of Rousseau.

"Emile" by Jean Jacques Rousseau


"Jean-Jacques Rousseau." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., n.d. Web. 02 Feb. 2017.

"Jean-Jacques Rousseau By Individual Philosopher Philosophy." Jean-Jacques Rousseau By Individual Philosopher Philosophy. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Feb. 2017. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Feb. 2017.

Bertram, Christopher. "Jean Jacques Rousseau." Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Stanford University, 27 Sept. 2010. Web. 02 Feb. 2017.

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