Jean Jacques Rousseau was a very famous french philosopher. He wrote manypopular stories and operas during his life. He was a very smart man who was borninto 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 avery violent tempered man and he paid little attention to Jean’s training. Hisfather would eventually desert him. The fact that his father deserted him gaveJean a passion for reading. Rousseau developed a special fondness forPlutarch’s Lives. In 1728, when he was 16, Jean was first apprenticed to anotary and then to a coppersmith.
Rousseau couldn’t stand the rigid disciplineso he ran away. After a few days of wandering, he fell in with Roman Catholicpriests 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 withtheft and began to wander again.
In 1730, he was at Chambery, he lived withMadame de Warens again. In her household he spent eight years diverting himselfin the enjoyment of nature, the study of music, the reading of the English,German, and French philosophers and chemistry, pursuing the study of mathematicsand Latin, and enjoying the playhouse and opera. Over the next few months, Jeanspent his time at Venice as secretary of the French ambassador, Comte deMontaignu. Up to this time, when he was thirty-nine, his life could be describedas subterranean. He then returned to Paris, where his opera Les Muses Galantesfailed, copied music, and was secretary of Madame Dupin. It was here that hebecame a contributor to the Encyclopedie.
His gifts of entertainment, recklessmanner, and boundless vanity attracted attention. In 1752, his operetta Devin duvillage was met with great success. His second sensational writing assured himof fame. It was called Discours sur l’origine et les fondements del’inegalite parmi les hommes. In 1754, he revisited Geneva where he receivedgreat 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 inthe quiet of nature he expected to spend his life. Unfortunately, domestictroubles, his violent passion for Countess d’Houdetot, and Ms morbid mistrustand nervous excitability, which lost him his friends, induced him to change hisresidence to a chateau in the park of the duke of Luxembourg, Montmorency. From1758-1762 is when is famous works appeared. These works included Lettre ad’Alembert, Julie ou la nouvelle Heloise, Du Contrat social, and Emile ou del’education.
The last-named work was ordered to be burned by the Frenchparliament and his arrest was ordered, but he fled to Neuchatel, then within thejurisdiction of Prussia. Here he wrote his Lettres ecrites de la Montagne, inwhich, with reference to the Geneva constitution, he advocated the freedom ofreligion against the Church and police. In September of 1765, he returned to theIsle St. Pierre in the Lake of Bienne. The government of Berne ordered him outof its territory, and he accepted the asylum offered to him by David Hume inEngland. In 1767, Rousseau fled to France because he was afraid of beingprosecuted.
In France he wandered about and depended on his friends until he waspermitted to return to Paris in 1770. Here he finished the Confessions which hehad begun in England, and produced many of his best stories. He also copiednotes, and studied music and botany in Paris. His dread of secret enemies grewupon his imagination, until he was glad to accept an invitation to retire toErmenonville in 1778. It was here in Ermenonville where Jean Jacques Rousseau atage 66, died.
Rousseau reacted against the artificiality and corruption of thesocial customs and institutions of the time. He was a keen thinker, and wasequipped with the weapons of the philosophical century and with an inspiringeloquence. To these qualities were added a pronounced egotism, self-seeking, andan arrogance that led to bitter antagonism against his revolutionary views andsensitive personality, the reaction against which resulted in a growingmisanthropy. Error and prejudice in the name of philosophy, according to him,had stifled reason and nature, and culture, as he found it, had corruptedmorals. In Emile, he presents the ideal citizen and the means of training thechild 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 admirablepart 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, whoseomnipotence and greatness are, published a new every day. Most remarkable inthis projected republic was the provision to banish aliens to the state religionand to punish dissenters with death. The Social Contract became the textbook ofthe French Revolution, and Rousseau’s theories as protests bore fruit in thefrenzied bloody orgies of the Commune as well as in the rejuvenation of Franceand the history of the entire Western world. Jean Jacques Rousseau was a verybig influence on the Western world during the years that he lived.
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