Self Reliance

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. Rousseaus mother died while giving birth to him. His father was a very violent tempered man and he paid little attention to Jeans 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 Plutarchs Lives. In 1728, when he was 16, Jean was first apprenticed to a otary and then to a coppersmith. Rousseau couldnt 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 nd 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 lorigine et les fondements de linegalite parmi les hommes. In 1754, he revisited Geneva where he received great acclamation, and called himself from then on a citizen of Geneva.

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 dHoudetot, and Ms morbid mistrust and nervous excitability, which lost him his friends, induced him to change his esidence 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 dAlembert, Julie ou la nouvelle Heloise, Du Contrat social, and Emile ou de leducation.

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 pon 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 isanthropy. 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 mnipotence 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 Rousseaus 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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