Rousseau Ideas Essay

Jean Jacques Rousseau was a very famous french philosopher. He wrote many
popular stories and operas during his life. He was a very smart man who was born
into a disturbed family. Jean Jacques Rousseau was born in Geneva on June 28th,
in 1712. Rousseau’s mother died while giving birth to him. His father was a
very violent tempered man and he paid little attention to Jean’s training. His
father would eventually desert him. The fact that his father deserted him gave
Jean a passion for reading. Rousseau developed a special fondness for
Plutarch’s Lives. In 1728, when he was 16, Jean was first apprenticed to a
notary and then to a coppersmith. Rousseau couldn’t stand the rigid discipline
so he ran away. After a few days of wandering, he fell in with Roman Catholic
priests at Consignon in Savoy, who turned him over to Madame de Warens at Annecy.

She sent him to an educational institution at Turin. Rousseau was charged with
theft and began to wander again. In 1730, he was at Chambery, he lived with
Madame de Warens again. In her household he spent eight years diverting himself
in the enjoyment of nature, the study of music, the reading of the English,
German, and French philosophers and chemistry, pursuing the study of mathematics
and Latin, and enjoying the playhouse and opera. Over the next few months, Jean
spent his time at Venice as secretary of the French ambassador, Comte de
Montaignu. Up to this time, when he was thirty-nine, his life could be described
as subterranean. He then returned to Paris, where his opera Les Muses Galantes
failed, copied music, and was secretary of Madame Dupin. It was here that he
became a contributor to the Encyclopedie. His gifts of entertainment, reckless
manner, and boundless vanity attracted attention. In 1752, his operetta Devin du
village was met with great success. His second sensational writing assured him
of fame. It was called Discours sur l’origine et les fondements de
l’inegalite parmi les hommes. In 1754, he revisited Geneva where he received
great acclamation, and called himself from then on a “citizen of Geneva”.

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Two years later, he retired to a cottage in the woods of Montmorency, where in
the quiet of nature he expected to spend his life. Unfortunately, domestic
troubles, his violent passion for Countess d’Houdetot, and Ms morbid mistrust
and nervous excitability, which lost him his friends, induced him to change his
residence to a chateau in the park of the duke of Luxembourg, Montmorency. From
1758-1762 is when is famous works appeared. These works included Lettre a
d’Alembert, Julie ou la nouvelle Heloise, Du Contrat social, and Emile ou de
l’education. The last-named work was ordered to be burned by the French
parliament and his arrest was ordered, but he fled to Neuchatel, then within the
jurisdiction of Prussia. Here he wrote his Lettres ecrites de la Montagne, in
which, with reference to the Geneva constitution, he advocated the freedom of
religion against the Church and police. In September of 1765, he returned to the
Isle St. Pierre in the Lake of Bienne. The government of Berne ordered him out
of its territory, and he accepted the asylum offered to him by David Hume in
England. In 1767, Rousseau fled to France because he was afraid of being
prosecuted. In France he wandered about and depended on his friends until he was
permitted to return to Paris in 1770. Here he finished the Confessions which he
had begun in England, and produced many of his best stories. He also copied
notes, and studied music and botany in Paris. His dread of secret enemies grew
upon his imagination, until he was glad to accept an invitation to retire to
Ermenonville in 1778. It was here in Ermenonville where Jean Jacques Rousseau at
age 66, died. Rousseau reacted against the artificiality and corruption of the
social customs and institutions of the time. He was a keen thinker, and was
equipped with the weapons of the philosophical century and with an inspiring
eloquence. To these qualities were added a pronounced egotism, self-seeking, and
an arrogance that led to bitter antagonism against his revolutionary views and
sensitive personality, the reaction against which resulted in a growing
misanthropy. Error and prejudice in the name of philosophy, according to him,
had stifled reason and nature, and culture, as he found it, had corrupted
morals. In Emile, he presents the ideal citizen and the means of training the
child for the State in accordance with nature, even to a sense of God. This”nature gospel” of education, as Goethe called it, was the inspiration,
beginning with Pestalozzi, of worldwide pedagogical methods. The most admirable
part in this is the creed of the vicar of Savoy, in which, in happy phrase,
Rousseau shows a true, natural susceptibility to religion and to God, whose
omnipotence and greatness are, published a new every day. Most remarkable in
this projected republic was the provision to banish aliens to the state religion
and to punish dissenters with death. The Social Contract became the textbook of
the French Revolution, and Rousseau’s theories as protests bore fruit in the
frenzied bloody orgies of the Commune as well as in the rejuvenation of France
and the history of the entire Western world. Jean Jacques Rousseau was a very
big influence on the Western world during the years that he lived. I hope you
have enjoyed reading this biography.


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