Who is Jean Jacques Rousseau?

Who is Jean Jacques Rousseau?

June 25, 2021 Off By Felso

He is a Swiss-born French philosopher, essayist, musicologist and novelist, who is especially known for the ideas he developed in his writings on politics, social freedom, rights, education and religion.

Born in Geneva, Rousseau was largely self-educated, going to France at a young age and wandering between Paris and the provinces almost all his life.

Rousseau (1712-1778) was born in Genoa. His mother died a few days after his birth, his father was a watchmaker. He was taken care of by a woman close to his father. After finishing his formal education at the age of 12, he was apprenticed to a carver for a period of five years, but after a while he escaped and left Genoa. He wanders here and there, making a living with the help of benevolent people who realize the light in him; Meanwhile, he reads a lot of books and improves his musical talent. When he came to France in 1731, he entered the circle of Baroness Warens. In fact, he had lived in Chambery under his auspices at some point in his childhood and converted to Catholicism. Now, she has tried to fill the gaps in her education by staying in the Baroness’s residence in Charmettes. It can be said that his relations with Madam Warens are a source of positive influence on his development.

From 1738 to 1740, he taught the children of a man named M. De Mably, and during this job he met Condillac. In 1743 he went to Venice as secretary to the French ambassador, the Comte de Montaigu, but the following year Rousseau was fired for arrogance and returned to Paris. He met Voltaire for the first time in 1745, and in 1749 Diderot invited him to write articles on music for the Encyclopedia. He was also introduced to d’Holbach’s salon. That same year, Rousseau won the prize for his Discourse on the Arts and Sciences when the Dijon Academy called for an award for the best essay ever written on the question of whether the advancement of the arts and sciences would lead to the improvement or degradation of morality. The article was published in 1750; The author was already famous. But he faced strong opposition from the ‘le philosophes’ for advocating the corrupting and corrupting effects of progress in the sciences and arts on morality. d’ came to the breaking point from Holbach’s environment.

Undeterred by opposition, Rousseau once again asked the Dijon Academy, “What is the origin of inequality between people and can it be justified by natural law?” He participated in the competition he opened with the question: “The Discourse on the Origin and Basis of Inequality Among People” did not win a prize, but was published in 1758. In this article, a portrait of the human being living in an uncivilized state of nature is drawn; Man is naturally good, but civilization has brought with it inequality and, accordingly, a series of evils.

In the same year, 1755, Rousseau’s article on political economy was published in the Encyclopedia. In this article, which was published separately under the title of Discourse on Political Economy in 1758, he first expressed the idea of ​​”general will”. In 1761, Rousseau published a novel called The New Heloise. In 1762, his most famous work, The Social Contract, was published, and in the same year his book on education titled Emile was published. Upon the publication of these books, he had to take refuge in Switzerland. The reactions were the same in his homeland of Genoa. However, he had once come to Genoa and converted back to Protestantism because he wanted to regain his Genoa citizenship. Later (1763) he formally denied this citizenship.

He set out for Berlin in 1765, but on the way he decided to go to England. In January 1766, he crossed the English Channel with David Hume to stay with Hume. However, due to his incompatibility and his delusions about being watched, he could not hold on here either. Six months later, in May 1766, he returned to France. He stayed in France for ten years, lastly in 1778 as the guest of the Marquis de Girardin, he left for Erménonville and died there a month or two later. Confessions was published posthumously in 1782.

Subject Headings

Rousseau’s life and works
Rousseau’s philosophy
Rousseau’s critique of culture
The origin of inequality and the need for contract
general will thought
What is emotion education?
Concepts of general will, freedom and obedience
Rousseau and the social contract

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer Yıldırım
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook