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Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Overview
Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Geneva
Geneva
Geneva In the national languages of Switzerland the city is known as Genf , Ginevra and Genevra is the second-most-populous city in Switzerland and is the most populous city of Romandie, the French-speaking part of Switzerland...

n philosopher, writer, and composer of 18th-century Romanticism
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

. His political philosophy
Political philosophy
Political philosophy is the study of such topics as liberty, justice, property, rights, law, and the enforcement of a legal code by authority: what they are, why they are needed, what, if anything, makes a government legitimate, what rights and freedoms it should protect and why, what form it...

 influenced the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

 as well as the overall development of modern political, sociological and educational thought.

His novel Émile: or, On Education
Emile: Or, On Education
Émile, or On Education is a treatise on the nature of education and on the nature of man written by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who considered it to be the “best and most important of all my writings”. Due to a section of the book entitled “Profession of Faith of the Savoyard Vicar,” Émile was be...

 is a treatise on the education of the whole person for citizenship. His sentimental novel
Sentimental novel
The sentimental novel or the novel of sensibility is an 18th century literary genre which celebrates the emotional and intellectual concepts of sentiment, sentimentalism, and sensibility...

 Julie, ou la nouvelle Héloïse
Julie, ou la nouvelle Héloïse
Julie, or the New Héloïse is an epistolary novel by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, published in 1761 by Marc-Michel Rey in . The original edition was entitled Lettres de deux amans habitans d'une petite ville au pied des Alpes .The novel’s subtitle points to the history of Héloïse d’Argenteuil and Pierre...

 was of importance to the development of pre-romanticism and romanticism
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

 in fiction. Rousseau's autobiographical writings — his Confessions
Confessions (Jean-Jacques Rousseau)
Confessions is an autobiographical book by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. In modern times, it is often published with the title The Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau in order to distinguish it from St. Augustine of Hippo's Confessions...

, which initiated the modern autobiography, and his Reveries of a Solitary Walker
Reveries of a Solitary Walker
Reveries of a Solitary Walker is an unfinished book by Genevan philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, written between 1776 and 1778. It was the last of a number of works composed toward the end of his life which were deeply autobiographical in nature...

 — exemplified the late 18th-century movement known as the Age of Sensibility, featuring an increasing focus on subjectivity and introspection that has characterized the modern age.
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Quotations

All that time is lost which might be better employed.

As quoted in A Dictionary of Quotations in Most Frequent Use: Taken Chiefly from the Latin and French, but comprising many from the Greek, Spanish, and Italian Languages, translated into English (1809) by David Evans Macdonnel

L'accent est l'âme du discours.

Accent is the soul of language; it gives to it both feeling and truth.

An honest man nearly always thinks justly.

As quoted in A Dictionary of Thoughts: Being a Cyclopedia of Laconic Quotations from the Best Authors of the World, Both Ancient and Modern (1908) by Tryon Edwards, p. 277

A country cannot subsist well without liberty, nor liberty without virtue.

As quoted in A Dictionary of Thoughts: Being a Cyclopedia of Laconic Quotations from the Best Authors of the World, Both Ancient and Modern (1908) by Tryon Edwards, p. 301

Never exceed your rights, and they will soon become unlimited.

Money is the seed of money, and the first guinea is sometimes more difficult to acquire than the second million.

Encyclopedia
Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Geneva
Geneva
Geneva In the national languages of Switzerland the city is known as Genf , Ginevra and Genevra is the second-most-populous city in Switzerland and is the most populous city of Romandie, the French-speaking part of Switzerland...

n philosopher, writer, and composer of 18th-century Romanticism
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

. His political philosophy
Political philosophy
Political philosophy is the study of such topics as liberty, justice, property, rights, law, and the enforcement of a legal code by authority: what they are, why they are needed, what, if anything, makes a government legitimate, what rights and freedoms it should protect and why, what form it...

 influenced the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

 as well as the overall development of modern political, sociological and educational thought.

His novel Émile: or, On Education
Emile: Or, On Education
Émile, or On Education is a treatise on the nature of education and on the nature of man written by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who considered it to be the “best and most important of all my writings”. Due to a section of the book entitled “Profession of Faith of the Savoyard Vicar,” Émile was be...

 is a treatise on the education of the whole person for citizenship. His sentimental novel
Sentimental novel
The sentimental novel or the novel of sensibility is an 18th century literary genre which celebrates the emotional and intellectual concepts of sentiment, sentimentalism, and sensibility...

 Julie, ou la nouvelle Héloïse
Julie, ou la nouvelle Héloïse
Julie, or the New Héloïse is an epistolary novel by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, published in 1761 by Marc-Michel Rey in . The original edition was entitled Lettres de deux amans habitans d'une petite ville au pied des Alpes .The novel’s subtitle points to the history of Héloïse d’Argenteuil and Pierre...

 was of importance to the development of pre-romanticism and romanticism
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

 in fiction. Rousseau's autobiographical writings — his Confessions
Confessions (Jean-Jacques Rousseau)
Confessions is an autobiographical book by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. In modern times, it is often published with the title The Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau in order to distinguish it from St. Augustine of Hippo's Confessions...

, which initiated the modern autobiography, and his Reveries of a Solitary Walker
Reveries of a Solitary Walker
Reveries of a Solitary Walker is an unfinished book by Genevan philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, written between 1776 and 1778. It was the last of a number of works composed toward the end of his life which were deeply autobiographical in nature...

 — exemplified the late 18th-century movement known as the Age of Sensibility, featuring an increasing focus on subjectivity and introspection that has characterized the modern age. His Discourse on the Origin of Inequality and his On the Social Contract are cornerstones in modern political and social thought and make a strong case for democratic government and social empowerment.

Rousseau was a successful composer of music, besides. He wrote seven operas as well as music in other forms, and he made contributions to music as a theorist.

During the period of the French Revolution, Rousseau was the most popular of the philosophes among members of the Jacobin Club
Jacobin Club
The Jacobin Club was the most famous and influential political club in the development of the French Revolution, so-named because of the Dominican convent where they met, located in the Rue St. Jacques , Paris. The club originated as the Club Benthorn, formed at Versailles from a group of Breton...

. He was interred as a national hero in the Panthéon in Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

, in 1794, 16 years after his death.

Youth


Rousseau was born in Geneva
Geneva
Geneva In the national languages of Switzerland the city is known as Genf , Ginevra and Genevra is the second-most-populous city in Switzerland and is the most populous city of Romandie, the French-speaking part of Switzerland...

, which was at the time a city-state and a Protestant associate of the Swiss Confederacy
Old Swiss Confederacy
The Old Swiss Confederacy was the precursor of modern-day Switzerland....

. Since 1536, Geneva had been a Huguenot
Huguenot
The Huguenots were members of the Protestant Reformed Church of France during the 16th and 17th centuries. Since the 17th century, people who formerly would have been called Huguenots have instead simply been called French Protestants, a title suggested by their German co-religionists, the...

 republic and the seat of Calvinism
Calvinism
Calvinism is a Protestant theological system and an approach to the Christian life...

. Rousseau was proud that his family, of the moyen order (or middle-class), had voting rights in the city. Throughout his life, he described himself as a citizen of Geneva.

In theory, Geneva was governed democratically by its male voting citizens, a minority of the population. In fact, the city was ruled by a secretive executive committee, called the "Little Council", which was made up of 25 members of its wealthiest families. In 1707, a patriot called Pierre Fatio
Pierre Fatio
Pierre Fatio was a Swiss politician.- Biography :Registered at the University of Basel in 1679 and then in 1685 where he earned a doctorate in law in 1686 , Fatio also studied in Valence, Montpellier and Leiden...

 protested at this situation, and the Little Council had him shot. Jean-Jacques Rousseau's father Isaac was not in the city at this time, but Jean-Jacques's grandfather supported Fatio and was penalized for it.
Rousseau's father, Isaac Rousseau, was a watchmaker who, notwithstanding his artisan status, was well educated and a lover of music. "A Genevan watchmaker," Rousseau wrote, "is a man who can be introduced anywhere; a Parisian watchmaker is only fit to talk about watches."

Rousseau's mother, Suzanne Bernard Rousseau, the daughter of a Calvinist preacher, died of puerperal fever
Puerperal fever
Puerperal fever or childbed fever, is a bacterial infection contracted by women during childbirth or miscarriage. It can develop into puerperal sepsis, which is a serious form of septicaemia. If untreated, it is often fatal....

 nine days after his birth. He and his older brother François were brought up by their father and a paternal aunt, also named Suzanne.

Rousseau had no recollection of learning to read, but he remembered how when he was 5 or 6 his father encouraged his love of reading: Not long afterward, Rousseau abandoned his taste for escapist stories in favor of the antiquity of Plutarch
Plutarch
Plutarch then named, on his becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus , c. 46 – 120 AD, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia...

's Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans
Parallel Lives
Plutarch's Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans, commonly called Parallel Lives or Plutarch's Lives, is a series of biographies of famous men, arranged in tandem to illuminate their common moral virtues or failings, written in the late 1st century...

, which he would read to his father while he made watches.

When Rousseau was 10, his father, an avid hunter, got into a legal quarrel with a wealthy landowner on whose lands he had been caught trespassing. To avoid certain defeat in the courts, he moved away to Nyon in the territory of Bern, taking Rousseau's aunt Suzanne with him. He remarried, and from that point Jean-Jacques saw little of him. Jean-Jacques was left with his maternal uncle, who packed him, along with his own son, Abraham Bernard, away to board for two years with a Calvinist minister in a hamlet outside Geneva. Here the boys picked up the elements of mathematics and drawing. Rousseau, who was always deeply moved by religious services, for a time even dreamed of becoming a Protestant minister.

Virtually, all our information about Rousseau's youth has come from his posthumously published Confessions, in which the chronology is somewhat confused, though recent scholars have combed the archives for confirming evidence to fill in the blanks. At age 13, Rousseau was apprenticed first to a notary
Civil law notary
Civil-law notaries, or Latin notaries, are lawyers of noncontentious private civil law who draft, take, and record legal instruments for private parties, provide legal advice and give attendance in person, and are vested as public officers with the authentication power of the State...

 and then to an engraver who beat him. At 15, he ran away from Geneva (on 14 March 1728) after returning to the city and finding the city gates locked due to the curfew. In adjoining Savoy
Savoy
Savoy is a region of France. It comprises roughly the territory of the Western Alps situated between Lake Geneva in the north and Monaco and the Mediterranean coast in the south....

 he took shelter with a Roman Catholic priest, who introduced him to Françoise-Louise de Warens
Françoise-Louise de Warens
Françoise-Louise de Warens, born Louise Éléonore de la Tour du Pil, also called Madame de Warens , was the benefactress and mistress of Jean-Jacques Rousseau....

, age 29. She was a noblewoman of Protestant background who was separated from her husband. As professional lay proselytizer, she was paid by the King of Piedmont
Piedmont
Piedmont is one of the 20 regions of Italy. It has an area of 25,402 square kilometres and a population of about 4.4 million. The capital of Piedmont is Turin. The main local language is Piedmontese. Occitan is also spoken by a minority in the Occitan Valleys situated in the Provinces of...

 to help bring Protestants to Catholicism. They sent the boy to Turin
Turin
Turin is a city and major business and cultural centre in northern Italy, capital of the Piedmont region, located mainly on the left bank of the Po River and surrounded by the Alpine arch. The population of the city proper is 909,193 while the population of the urban area is estimated by Eurostat...

, the capital of Savoy (which included Piedmont, in what is now Italy), to complete his conversion. This resulted in his having to give up his Genevan citizenship, although he would later revert to Calvinism in order to regain it.

In converting to Catholicism, both De Warens and Rousseau were likely reacting to the severity of Calvinism's insistence on the total depravity
Total depravity
Total depravity is a theological doctrine that derives from the Augustinian concept of original sin...

 of man. Leo Damrosch writes, "an eighteenth-century Genevan liturgy still required believers to declare ‘that we are miserable sinners, born in corruption, inclined to evil, incapable by ourselves of doing good'." De Warens, a deist by inclination, was attracted to Catholicism's doctrine of forgiveness of sins.

Independence


Finding himself on his own, since his father and uncle had more or less disowned him, the teenage Rousseau supported himself for a time as a servant, secretary, and tutor, wandering in Italy (Piedmont and Savoy) and France. During this time, he lived on and off with De Warens, whom he idolized and called his "maman". Flattered by his devotion, De Warens tried to get him started in a profession, and arranged formal music lessons for him. At one point, he briefly attended a seminary with the idea of becoming a priest. When Rousseau reached 20, De Warens took him as her lover, while intimate also with the steward of her house. The sexual aspect of their relationship (in fact a ménage à trois
Ménage à trois
Ménage à trois is a French term which originally described a domestic arrangement in which three people having sexual relations occupy the same household – the phrase literally translates as "household of three"...

) confused Rousseau and made him uncomfortable, but he always considered De Warens the greatest love of his life. A rather profligate spender, she had a large library and loved to entertain and listen to music. She and her circle, comprising educated members of the Catholic clergy, introduced Rousseau to the world of letters and ideas. Rousseau had been an indifferent student, but during his 20s, which were marked by long bouts of hypochondria
Hypochondria
Hypochondriasis or hypochondria refers to excessive preoccupation or worry about having a serious illness. This debilitating condition is the result of an inaccurate perception of the body’s condition despite the absence of an actual medication condition...

, he applied himself in earnest to the study of philosophy, mathematics, and music. At 25, he came into a small inheritance from his mother and used a portion of it to repay De Warens for her financial support of him. At 27, he took a job as a tutor in Lyon
Lyon
Lyon , is a city in east-central France in the Rhône-Alpes region, situated between Paris and Marseille. Lyon is located at from Paris, from Marseille, from Geneva, from Turin, and from Barcelona. The residents of the city are called Lyonnais....

.

In 1742, Rousseau moved to Paris in order to present the Académie des Sciences with a new system of numbered musical notation
Numbered musical notation
The numbered musical notation, better known as in Chinese, is a musical notation system widely used among the Chinese people. Some people call it the numeric notation or numerical notation, but it is not to be confused with the integer notation...

 he believed would make his fortune. His system, intended to be compatible with typography
Typography
Typography is the art and technique of arranging type in order to make language visible. The arrangement of type involves the selection of typefaces, point size, line length, leading , adjusting the spaces between groups of letters and adjusting the space between pairs of letters...

, is based on a single line, displaying numbers representing intervals
Interval (music)
In music theory, an interval is a combination of two notes, or the ratio between their frequencies. Two-note combinations are also called dyads...

 between notes and dots and commas indicating rhythmic values. Believing the system was impractical, the Academy rejected it, though they praised his mastery of the subject, and urged him to try again.


From 1743 to 1744, Rousseau had an honorable but ill-paying post as a secretary to the Comte de Montaigue, the French ambassador to Venice
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

. This awoke in him a lifelong love for Italian music, particularly opera:
I had brought with me from Paris the prejudice of that city against Italian music; but I had also received from nature a sensibility and niceness of distinction which prejudice cannot withstand. I soon contracted that passion for Italian music with which it inspires all those who are capable of feeling its excellence. In listening to barcaroles, I found I had not yet known what singing was... —Confessions
Rousseau's employer routinely received his stipend as much as a year late and paid his staff irregularly. After 11 months, Rousseau quit, taking from the experience a profound distrust of government bureaucracy.

Returning to Paris, the penniless Rousseau befriended and became the lover of Thérèse Levasseur
Thérèse Levasseur
Thérèse Levasseur, also known as Thérèse Le Vasseur and Thérèse Lavasseur, was the domestic partner of French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau....

, a seamstress who was the sole support of her termagant mother and numerous ne'er-do-well siblings. At first, they did not live together, though later Rousseau took Thérèse and her mother in to live with him as his servants, and himself assumed the burden of supporting her large family. According to his Confessions, before she moved in with him, Thérèse bore him a son and as many as four other children (there is no independent verification for this number). Rousseau wrote that he persuaded Thérèse to give each of the newborns up to a foundling hospital, for the sake of her "honor". "Her mother, who feared the inconvenience of a brat, came to my aid, and she [Thérèse] allowed herself to be overcome" (Confessions). In his letter to Madame de Francueil in 1751, he first pretended that he wasn't rich enough to raise his children but in book IX of the confessions, he gave the true reasons of his choice : " I trembled at the thought of intrusting them to a family ill brought up, to be still worse educated. The risk of the education of the foundling hospital
Foundling hospital
A foundling hospital was originally an institution for the reception of foundlings, i.e., children who had been abandoned or exposed, and left for the public to find and save...

 was much less."

Ten years later, Rousseau made inquiries about the fate of his son, but no record could be found. When Rousseau subsequently became celebrated as a theorist of education and child-rearing, his abandonment of his children was used by his critics, including Voltaire
Voltaire
François-Marie Arouet , better known by the pen name Voltaire , was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, free trade and separation of church and state...

 and Edmund Burke
Edmund Burke
Edmund Burke PC was an Irish statesman, author, orator, political theorist and philosopher who, after moving to England, served for many years in the House of Commons of Great Britain as a member of the Whig party....

, as the basis for ad hominem
Ad hominem
An ad hominem , short for argumentum ad hominem, is an attempt to negate the truth of a claim by pointing out a negative characteristic or belief of the person supporting it...

 attacks. In an irony of fate, Rousseau's later injunction to women to breastfeed their own babies (as had previously been recommended by the French natural scientist Buffon
Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon
Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon was a French naturalist, mathematician, cosmologist, and encyclopedic author.His works influenced the next two generations of naturalists, including Jean-Baptiste Lamarck and Georges Cuvier...

), probably saved the lives of thousands of infants.

While in Paris, Rousseau became a close friend of French philosopher Diderot
Denis Diderot
Denis Diderot was a French philosopher, art critic, and writer. He was a prominent person during the Enlightenment and is best known for serving as co-founder and chief editor of and contributor to the Encyclopédie....

 and, beginning with some articles on music in 1749, contributed numerous articles to Diderot and D'Alembert's great Encyclopédie
Encyclopédie
Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers was a general encyclopedia published in France between 1751 and 1772, with later supplements, revised editions, and translations. It was edited by Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d'Alembert...

, the most famous of which was an article on political economy written in 1755.

Rousseau's ideas were the result of an almost obsessive dialogue with writers of the past, filtered in many cases through conversations with Diderot. His genius lay in his strikingly original way of putting things rather than in the originality, per se, of his thinking. In 1749, Rousseau was paying daily visits to Diderot, who had been thrown into the fortress of Vincennes
Vincennes
Vincennes is a commune in the Val-de-Marne department in the eastern suburbs of Paris, France. It is located from the centre of Paris. It is one of the most densely populated municipalities in Europe.-History:...

 under a lettre de cachet
Lettre de cachet
Lettres de cachet were letters signed by the king of France, countersigned by one of his ministers, and closed with the royal seal, or cachet...

 for opinions in his "Lettre sur les aveugles
Lettre sur les aveugles à l'usage de ceux qui voient
In Letter on the Blind , Denis Diderot takes on the question of visual perception, a subject that, at the time, experienced a resurgence of interest due to the success of medical procedures that allowed surgeons to operate on certain cases of blindness from birth...

," that hinted at materialism
Materialism
In philosophy, the theory of materialism holds that the only thing that exists is matter; that all things are composed of material and all phenomena are the result of material interactions. In other words, matter is the only substance...

, a belief in atoms, and natural selection. Rousseau had read about an essay competition sponsored by the Académie de Dijon to be published in the Mercure de France on the theme of whether the development of the arts and sciences had been morally beneficial. He wrote that while walking to Vincennes (about three miles from Paris), he had a revelation that the arts and sciences were responsible for the moral degeneration of mankind, who were basically good by nature. According to Diderot, writing much later, Rousseau had originally intended to answer this in the conventional way, but his discussions with Diderot convinced him to propose the paradoxical negative answer that catapulted him into the public eye. Rousseau's 1750 "Discourse on the Arts and Sciences
Discourse on the Arts and Sciences
A Discourse on the Moral Effects of the Arts and Sciences , more commonly known as Discourse on the Sciences and Arts , is an essay by Genevan philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau which argued that the arts and sciences corrupt human morality...

" was awarded the first prize and gained him significant fame.

Rousseau continued his interest in music. He wrote both the words and music of his opera Le Devin du Village
Le Devin du Village
Le devin du village is an interméde, a one-act opera by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who also wrote the libretto.It was first performed before the court at Fontainebleau on 18 October 1752 and at the Paris Opéra on 1 March 1753. King Louis XV loved the work so much that he offered Rousseau the great...

 (The Village Soothsayer), which was performed for King Louis XV
Louis XV of France
Louis XV was a Bourbon monarch who ruled as King of France and of Navarre from 1 September 1715 until his death. He succeeded his great-grandfather at the age of five, his first cousin Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, served as Regent of the kingdom until Louis's majority in 1723...

 in 1752. The king was so pleased by the work that he offered Rousseau a lifelong pension. To the exasperation of his friends, Rousseau turned down the great honor, bringing him notoriety as "the man who had refused a king's pension." He also turned down several other advantageous offers, sometimes with a brusqueness bordering on truculence that gave offense and caused him problems. The same year, the visit of a troupe of Italian musicians to Paris, and their performance of Giovanni Battista Pergolesi
Giovanni Battista Pergolesi
Giovanni Battista Pergolesi was an Italian composer, violinist and organist.-Biography:Born at Iesi, Pergolesi studied music there under a local musician, Francesco Santini, before going to Naples in 1725, where he studied under Gaetano Greco and Francesco Feo among others...

's La Serva Padrona
La serva padrona
La serva padrona is an opera buffa by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi to a libretto by Gennaro Antonio Federico, after the play by Jacopo Angello Nelli. The opera is only 45 minutes long and was originally performed as an intermezzo between the acts of a larger serious opera...

, prompted the Querelle des Bouffons, which pitted protagonists of French music against supporters of the Italian style. Rousseau as noted above, was an enthusiastic supporter of the Italians against Jean-Philippe Rameau
Jean-Philippe Rameau
Jean-Philippe Rameau was one of the most important French composers and music theorists of the Baroque era. He replaced Jean-Baptiste Lully as the dominant composer of French opera and is also considered the leading French composer for the harpsichord of his time, alongside François...

 and others, making an important contribution with his Letter on French Music.

On returning to Geneva in 1754, Rousseau reconverted to Calvinism
Calvinism
Calvinism is a Protestant theological system and an approach to the Christian life...

 and regained his official Genevan citizenship. In 1755, Rousseau completed his second major work, the Discourse on the Origin and Basis of Inequality Among Men (the Discourse on Inequality
Discourse on Inequality
Discourse on the Origin and Basis of Inequality Among Men , also commonly known as the "Second Discourse", is a work by philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau...

), which elaborated on the arguments of the Discourse on the Arts and Sciences.

He also pursued an unconsummated romantic attachment with the 25-year-old Sophie d'Houdetot, which partly inspired his epistolary novel
Epistolary novel
An epistolary novel is a novel written as a series of documents. The usual form is letters, although diary entries, newspaper clippings and other documents are sometimes used. Recently, electronic "documents" such as recordings and radio, blogs, and e-mails have also come into use...

, Julie, ou la nouvelle Héloïse
Julie, ou la nouvelle Héloïse
Julie, or the New Héloïse is an epistolary novel by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, published in 1761 by Marc-Michel Rey in . The original edition was entitled Lettres de deux amans habitans d'une petite ville au pied des Alpes .The novel’s subtitle points to the history of Héloïse d’Argenteuil and Pierre...

 (also based on memories of his idyllic youthful relationship with Mme de Warens). Sophie was the cousin and houseguest of Rousseau's patroness and landlady Madame d'Epinay, whom he treated rather highhandedly. He resented being at Mme d'Epinay's beck and call and detested the insincere conversation and shallow atheism of the Encyclopedistes whom he met at her table. Wounded feelings gave rise to a bitter three-way quarrel between Rousseau and Madame d'Epinay; her lover, the philologist Grimm
Friedrich Melchior, baron von Grimm
Friedrich Melchior, Baron von Grimm was a German-born French author.-Early years:Grimm was born at Regensburg, the son of a pastor...

; and their mutual friend, Diderot, who took their side against Rousseau. Diderot later described Rousseau as being, "false, vain as Satan, ungrateful, cruel, hypocritical, and wicked ... He sucked ideas from me, used them himself, and then affected to despise me".
Rousseau's break with the Encyclopedistes coincided with the composition of his three major works, in all of which he emphasized his fervent belief in a spiritual origin of man's soul and the universe, in contradistinction to the materialism
Materialism
In philosophy, the theory of materialism holds that the only thing that exists is matter; that all things are composed of material and all phenomena are the result of material interactions. In other words, matter is the only substance...

 of Diderot, La Mettrie, and d'Holbach. During this period Rousseau enjoyed the support and patronage of the Duc de Luxembourg, and the Prince de Conti
Louis François I de Bourbon, prince de Conti
Louis François de Bourbon, Prince of Conti was a French nobleman, who was the Prince of Conti from 1727 to his death, following his father Louis Armand II. His mother was Louise Élisabeth de Bourbon, a natural granddaughter of Louis XIV...

, two of the richest and most powerful nobles in France. These men truly liked Rousseau and enjoyed his ability to converse on any subject, but they also used him as a way of getting back at Louis XV and the political faction surrounding his mistress, Mme de Pompadour. Even with them, however, Rousseau went too far, courting rejection when he criticized the practice of tax farming
Tax farming
Farming is a technique of financial management, namely the process of commuting , by its assignment by legal contract to a third party, a future uncertain revenue stream into fixed and certain periodic rents, in consideration for which commutation a discount in value received is suffered...

, in which some of them engaged.

Rousseau's 800-page novel of sentiment
Sentimentality
Sentimentality originally indicated the reliance on feelings as a guide to truth, but current usage defines it as an appeal to shallow, uncomplicated emotions at the expense of reason....

, Julie, ou la nouvelle Héloïse
Julie, ou la nouvelle Héloïse
Julie, or the New Héloïse is an epistolary novel by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, published in 1761 by Marc-Michel Rey in . The original edition was entitled Lettres de deux amans habitans d'une petite ville au pied des Alpes .The novel’s subtitle points to the history of Héloïse d’Argenteuil and Pierre...

, was published in 1761 to immense success. The book's rhapsodic descriptions of the natural beauty of the Swiss countryside struck a chord in the public and may have helped spark the subsequent nineteenth century craze for Alpine scenery. In 1762, Rousseau published Du Contrat Social, Principes du droit politique (in English, literally Of the Social Contract, Principles of Political Right
Social Contract (Rousseau)
Of The Social Contract, Or Principles of Political Right by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, is the book in which Rousseau theorized about the best way in which to set up a political community in the face of the problems of commercial society which he had already identified in his Discourse on Inequality...

) in April.
Even his friend Antoine-Jacques Roustan
Antoine-Jacques Roustan
Antoine-Jacques Roustan was a Swiss pastor and theologian, who engaged in an extensive correspondence with Jean-Jacques Rousseau....

 felt impelled to write a polite rebuttal of the chapter on Civil Religion in the Social Contract, which implied that the concept of a Christian Republic
Christian republic
A Christian republic is a governmental system that comprises both Christianity and republicanism. Jean-Jacques Rousseau and John Locke considered the idea to be an impossibility, a self-contradiction, but for different reasons....

 was paradoxical since Christianity taught submission rather than participation in public affairs. Rousseau even helped Roustan find a publisher for the rebuttal.

Rousseau published Emile: or, On Education
Emile: Or, On Education
Émile, or On Education is a treatise on the nature of education and on the nature of man written by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who considered it to be the “best and most important of all my writings”. Due to a section of the book entitled “Profession of Faith of the Savoyard Vicar,” Émile was be...

 in May. The final section of Émile, "The Profession of Faith of a Savoyard Vicar," was intended to be a defense of religious belief. Rousseau's choice of a Catholic vicar of humble peasant background (plausibly based on a kindly prelate he had met as a teenager) as a spokesman for the defense of religion was in itself a daring innovation for the time. The vicar's creed was that of Socinianism
Socinianism
Socinianism is a system of Christian doctrine named for Fausto Sozzini , which was developed among the Polish Brethren in the Minor Reformed Church of Poland during the 15th and 16th centuries and embraced also by the Unitarian Church of Transylvania during the same period...

 (or Unitarianism
Unitarianism
Unitarianism is a Christian theological movement, named for its understanding of God as one person, in direct contrast to Trinitarianism which defines God as three persons coexisting consubstantially as one in being....

 as it is called today). Because it rejected original sin and divine Revelation
Revelation
In religion and theology, revelation is the revealing or disclosing, through active or passive communication with a supernatural or a divine entity...

, both Protestant and Catholic authorities took offense. Moreover, Rousseau advocated the opinion that, insofar as they lead people to virtue, all religions are equally worthy, and that people should therefore conform to the religion in which they have been brought up. This religious indifferentism
Indifferentism
Indifferentism, in Roman Catholic theology, describes the belief that there is no evidence that one religion or philosophy is superior to another. The Catholic Church ascribes indifferentism to all atheistic, materialistic, pantheistic, and agnostic philosophies...

 caused Rousseau and his books to be banned from France and Geneva. He was condemned from the pulpit by the Archbishop of Paris, his books were burned, and warrants were issued for his arrest.
Former friends such as Jacob Vernes
Jacob Vernes
Jacob VernesNot to be confused with Jacob Vernet, a prominent theologian in Geneva around the same time. was a Swiss theologian and Protestant pastor in Geneva, famous for his correspondence with Voltaire and Rousseau.-Life:...

 of Geneva could not accept his views, and wrote violent rebuttals.

A sympathetic observer, British philosopher David Hume
David Hume
David Hume was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, known especially for his philosophical empiricism and skepticism. He was one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy and the Scottish Enlightenment...

, "professed no surprise when he learned that Rousseau's books were banned in Geneva and elsewhere." Rousseau, he wrote, "has not had the precaution to throw any veil over his sentiments; and, as he scorns to dissemble his contempt for established opinions, he could not wonder that all the zealots were in arms against him. The liberty of the press is not so secured in any country ... as not to render such an open attack on popular prejudice somewhat dangerous.'" Rousseau, who thought he had been defending religion, was crushed. Forced to flee arrest he made his way, with the help of the Duc of Luxembourg and Prince de Conti, to Neuchâtel
Canton of Neuchâtel
Neuchâtel is a canton of French speaking western Switzerland. In 2007, its population was 169,782 of which 39,654 were foreigners. The capital is Neuchâtel.-History:...

, a Canton
Cantons of Switzerland
The 26 cantons of Switzerland are the member states of the federal state of Switzerland. Each canton was a fully sovereign state with its own borders, army and currency from the Treaty of Westphalia until the establishment of the Swiss federal state in 1848...

 of the Swiss Confederation that was a protectorate of the Prussian crown. His powerful protectors discreetly assisted him in his flight and they helped to get his banned books (published in Holland by Marc-Michel Rey
Marc-Michel Rey
Marc-Michel Rey was an influential publisher in the United Provinces, who published many of the works of the French Philosophes, including Jean-Jacques Rousseau....

) distributed in France disguised as other works using false covers and title pages. In the town of Môtiers
Môtiers
Môtiers was a municipality in the district of Val-de-Travers in the canton of Neuchâtel in Switzerland. On 1 January 2009, the former municipalities of Boveresse, Buttes, Couvet, Fleurier, Les Bayards, Môtiers, Noiraigue, Saint-Sulpice and Travers merged to form Val-de-Travers.The old castle,...

, he sought and found protection under Lord Keith, who was the local representative of the free-thinking Frederick the Great of Prussia. While in Môtiers, Rousseau wrote the Constitutional Project for Corsica (Projet de Constitution pour la Corse
Corsican Constitution
The first Corsican Constitution was drawn up in 1755 for the short-lived Corsican Republic and remained in force until the annexation of Corsica by France in 1769...

, 1765).

After his house in Môtiers was stoned on the night of 6 September 1765, Rousseau took refuge in Great Britain with Hume, who found lodgings for him at a friend's country estate in Wootton
Weaver Hills
The Weaver Hills are a small range of hills in north Staffordshire, England.The Weaver Hills are about east of Stoke on Trent and about west of Ashbourne, Derbyshire, just south of the A52 road and north of the Churnet Valley...

 in Staffordshire. Neither Thérèse nor Rousseau was able to learn English or make friends. Isolated, Rousseau, never emotionally very stable, suffered a serious decline in his mental health and began to experience paranoid fantasies about plots against him involving Hume and others. “He is plainly mad, after having long been maddish”, Hume wrote to a friend. Rousseau's letter to Hume, in which he articulates the perceived misconduct, sparked an exchange which was published in Paris and received with great interest at the time.


Although officially barred from entering France before 1770, Rousseau returned in 1767 under a false name. In 1768 he went through a marriage of sorts to Thérèse (marriages between Catholics and Protestants were illegal), whom he had always hitherto referred to as his "housekeeper". Though she was illiterate, she had become a remarkably good cook, a hobby her husband shared. In 1770 they were allowed to return to Paris. As a condition of his return he was not allowed to publish any books, but after completing his Confessions, Rousseau began private readings in 1771. At the request of Madame d'Epinay, who was anxious to protect her privacy, however, the police ordered him to stop, and the Confessions was only partially published in 1782, four years after his death. All his subsequent works were to appear posthumously.
In 1772, Rousseau was invited to present recommendations for a new constitution for the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was a dualistic state of Poland and Lithuania ruled by a common monarch. It was the largest and one of the most populous countries of 16th- and 17th‑century Europe with some and a multi-ethnic population of 11 million at its peak in the early 17th century...

, resulting in the Considerations on the Government of Poland
Considerations on the Government of Poland
Considerations on the Government of Poland — also simply The Government of Poland or, in the original French, Considérations sur le gouvernement de Pologne — is an essay by Swiss philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau concerning the design of a new constitution for the people of Poland...

, which was to be his last major political work. In 1776, he completed Dialogues: Rousseau Judge of Jean-Jacques and began work on the Reveries of the Solitary Walker
Reveries of a Solitary Walker
Reveries of a Solitary Walker is an unfinished book by Genevan philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, written between 1776 and 1778. It was the last of a number of works composed toward the end of his life which were deeply autobiographical in nature...

. In order to support himself, he returned to copying music, spending his leisure time in the study of botany.

Although a celebrity, Rousseau's mental health did not permit him to enjoy his fame. His final years were largely spent in deliberate withdrawal. However, he did respond favorably to an approach from the composer Gluck, whom he met in 1774. Gluck admired Rousseau as "a pioneer of the expressive natural style" in music. By One of Rousseau's last pieces of writing was a critical yet enthusiastic analysis of Gluck's opera Alceste
Alceste (Gluck)
Alceste is an opera by Christoph Willibald Gluck from 1767. The libretto was written by Ranieri de' Calzabigi and based on the play Alcestis by Euripides. The premiere took place in Vienna.-Preface and reforms:...

. While taking a morning walk on the estate of the marquis René Louis de Girardin
René Louis de Girardin
René Louis de Girardin , Marquis of Vauvray, was Jean-Jacques Rousseau's last pupil. He created the first French landscape garden at Ermenonville. It was inspired by Rousseau's ideas...

 at Ermenonville
Ermenonville
Ermenonville is a small village in northern France. It is designated municipally as a commune within the département of Oise.Ermenonville is notable for its park named for Jean-Jacques Rousseau by René Louis de Girardin...

 (28 miles northeast of Paris), Rousseau suffered a hemorrhage and died, aged 66.
Rousseau was initially buried at Ermenonville on the Ile des Peupliers, which became a place of pilgrimage for his many admirers. Sixteen years after his death, his remains were moved to the Panthéon in Paris in 1794, where they are located directly across from those of his contemporary, Voltaire
Voltaire
François-Marie Arouet , better known by the pen name Voltaire , was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, free trade and separation of church and state...

. His tomb, in the shape of a rustic temple, on which, in bas relief an arm reaches out, bearing the torch of liberty, evokes Rousseau's deep love of nature and of classical antiquity. In 1834, the Genevan government somewhat reluctantly erected a statue in his honor on the tiny Île Rousseau in Lake Geneva
Lake Geneva
Lake Geneva or Lake Léman is a lake in Switzerland and France. It is one of the largest lakes in Western Europe. 59.53 % of it comes under the jurisdiction of Switzerland , and 40.47 % under France...

. Today he is proudly claimed as their most celebrated native son. In 2002, the Espace Rousseau was established at 40 Grand-Rue, Geneva, Rousseau's birthplace.

Theory of Natural Human



In common with other philosophers of the day, Rousseau looked to a hypothetical State of Nature
State of nature
State of nature is a term in political philosophy used in social contract theories to describe the hypothetical condition that preceded governments...

 as a normative guide.

Rousseau criticized Hobbes for asserting that since man in the "state of nature . . . has no idea of goodness he must be naturally wicked; that he is vicious because he does not know virtue". On the contrary, Rousseau holds that "uncorrupted morals" prevail in the "state of nature" and he especially praised the admirable moderation of the Caribbeans in expressing the sexual urge despite the fact that they live in a hot climate, which "always seems to inflame the passions". This has led Anglophone critics to erroneously attribute to Rousseau the invention of the idea of the noble savage
Noble savage
The term noble savage , expresses the concept an idealized indigene, outsider , and refers to the literary stock character of the same...

, an oxymoronic expression that was never used in France and which grossly misrepresents Rousseau's thought. The expression, "the noble savage" was first used in 1672 by British poet John Dryden
John Dryden
John Dryden was an influential English poet, literary critic, translator, and playwright who dominated the literary life of Restoration England to such a point that the period came to be known in literary circles as the Age of Dryden.Walter Scott called him "Glorious John." He was made Poet...

 in his play The Conquest of Granada
The Conquest of Granada
The Conquest of Granada is a Restoration era stage play, a two-part tragedy written by John Dryden that was first acted in 1670 and 1671 and published in 1672...

.

Rousseau wrote that morality was not a societal construct, but rather "natural" in the sense of "innate," an outgrowth from man's instinctive disinclination to witness suffering, from which arise the emotions of compassion or empathy. These were sentiments shared with animals, and whose existence even Hobbes acknowledged.


Contrary to what his many detractors have claimed, Rousseau never suggests that humans in the state of nature
State of nature
State of nature is a term in political philosophy used in social contract theories to describe the hypothetical condition that preceded governments...

 act morally; in fact, terms such as "justice" or "wickedness" are inapplicable to prepolitical society as Rousseau understands it. Morality proper, i.e., self restraint, can only develop through careful education in a civil state. Humans "in a state of Nature" may act with all of the ferocity of an animal. They are good only in a negative sense, insofar as they are self-sufficient and thus not subject to the vices of political society. In fact, Rousseau's natural man is virtually identical to a solitary chimpanzee
Chimpanzee
Chimpanzee, sometimes colloquially chimp, is the common name for the two extant species of ape in the genus Pan. The Congo River forms the boundary between the native habitat of the two species:...

 or other ape
Ape
Apes are Old World anthropoid mammals, more specifically a clade of tailless catarrhine primates, belonging to the biological superfamily Hominoidea. The apes are native to Africa and South-east Asia, although in relatively recent times humans have spread all over the world...

, such as the orangutan
Orangutan
Orangutans are the only exclusively Asian genus of extant great ape. The largest living arboreal animals, they have proportionally longer arms than the other, more terrestrial, great apes. They are among the most intelligent primates and use a variety of sophisticated tools, also making sleeping...

 as described by Buffon
Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon
Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon was a French naturalist, mathematician, cosmologist, and encyclopedic author.His works influenced the next two generations of naturalists, including Jean-Baptiste Lamarck and Georges Cuvier...

; and the "natural" goodness of humanity is thus the goodness of an animal, which is neither good nor bad. Rousseau, a deteriorationist, proposed that, except perhaps for brief moments of balance, at or near its inception, when a relative equality among men prevailed, human civilization has always been artificial, creating inequality, envy, and unnatural desires.

In Rousseau's philosophy, society's negative influence on men centers on its transformation of amour de soi
Amour de soi
Amour de soi is a concept in the philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau that refers to the kind of self-love that humans share with brute animals and predates the appearance of society...

, a positive self-love, into amour-propre
Amour-propre
Amour-propre is a concept in the philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau that denotes a self-love that depends upon the opinion of others. Rousseau contrasts it with amour de soi, which also means self love, but which does not involve seeing oneself as others see one...

, or pride
Pride
Pride is an inwardly directed emotion that carries two common meanings. With a negative connotation, pride refers to an inflated sense of one's personal status or accomplishments, often used synonymously with hubris...

. Amour de soi represents the instinctive human desire for self-preservation, combined with the human power of reason
Reason
Reason is a term that refers to the capacity human beings have to make sense of things, to establish and verify facts, and to change or justify practices, institutions, and beliefs. It is closely associated with such characteristically human activities as philosophy, science, language, ...

. In contrast, amour-propre is artificial and encourages man to compare himself to others, thus creating unwarranted fear
Fear
Fear is a distressing negative sensation induced by a perceived threat. It is a basic survival mechanism occurring in response to a specific stimulus, such as pain or the threat of danger...

 and allowing men to take pleasure in the pain or weakness of others. Rousseau was not the first to make this distinction. It had been invoked by Vauvenargues
Luc de Clapiers, marquis de Vauvenargues
Luc de Clapiers, marquis de Vauvenargues was a minor French writer, a moralist. He died at age 31, in broken health, having published the year prior—anonymously—a collection of essays and aphorisms with the encouragement of Voltaire, his friend. He first received public notice under his own name...

, among others.

In Discourse on the Arts and Sciences
Discourse on the Arts and Sciences
A Discourse on the Moral Effects of the Arts and Sciences , more commonly known as Discourse on the Sciences and Arts , is an essay by Genevan philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau which argued that the arts and sciences corrupt human morality...

 Rousseau argues that the arts and sciences have not been beneficial to humankind, because they arose not from authentic human needs but rather as a result of pride and vanity
Vanity
In conventional parlance, vanity is the excessive belief in one's own abilities or attractiveness to others. Prior to the 14th century it did not have such narcissistic undertones, and merely meant futility. The related term vainglory is now often seen as an archaic synonym for vanity, but...

. Moreover, the opportunities they create for idleness and luxury have contributed to the corruption of man. He proposed that the progress of knowledge
Knowledge
Knowledge is a familiarity with someone or something unknown, which can include information, facts, descriptions, or skills acquired through experience or education. It can refer to the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject...

 had made governments more power
Power (sociology)
Power is a measurement of an entity's ability to control its environment, including the behavior of other entities. The term authority is often used for power perceived as legitimate by the social structure. Power can be seen as evil or unjust, but the exercise of power is accepted as endemic to...

ful and had crushed individual liberty
Liberty
Liberty is a moral and political principle, or Right, that identifies the condition in which human beings are able to govern themselves, to behave according to their own free will, and take responsibility for their actions...

; and he concluded that material progress had actually undermined the possibility of true friendship
Friendship
Friendship is a form of interpersonal relationship generally considered to be closer than association, although there is a range of degrees of intimacy in both friendships and associations. Friendship and association are often thought of as spanning across the same continuum...

 by replacing it with jealousy
Jealousy
Jealousy is a second emotion and typically refers to the negative thoughts and feelings of insecurity, fear, and anxiety over an anticipated loss of something that the person values, particularly in reference to a human connection. Jealousy often consists of a combination of presenting emotions...

, fear
Fear
Fear is a distressing negative sensation induced by a perceived threat. It is a basic survival mechanism occurring in response to a specific stimulus, such as pain or the threat of danger...

, and suspicion.

In contrast to the optimistic view of other Enlightenment figures, for Rousseau, progress
Social progress
Social progress is the idea that societies can or do improve in terms of their social, political, and economic structures. This may happen as a result of direct human action, as in social enterprise or through social activism, or as a natural part of sociocultural evolution...

 has been inimical to the well-being of humanity, that is, unless it can be counteracted by the cultivation of civic morality and duty.

Only in civil society
Civil society
Civil society is composed of the totality of many voluntary social relationships, civic and social organizations, and institutions that form the basis of a functioning society, as distinct from the force-backed structures of a state , the commercial institutions of the market, and private criminal...

, can man be ennobled—through the use of reason:
The passage from the state of nature to the civil state produces a very remarkable change in man, by substituting justice for instinct in his conduct, and giving his actions the morality they had formerly lacked. Then only, when the voice of duty takes the place of physical impulses and right of appetite, does man, who so far had considered only himself, find that he is forced to act on different principles, and to consult his reason before listening to his inclinations. Although, in this state, he deprives himself of some advantages which he got from nature, he gains in return others so great, his faculties are so stimulated and developed, his ideas so extended, his feelings so ennobled, and his whole soul so uplifted, that, did not the abuses of this new condition often degrade him below that which he left, he would be bound to bless continually the happy moment which took him from it for ever, and, instead of a stupid and unimaginative animal, made him an intelligent being and a man.
Society corrupts men only insofar as the Social Contract has not de facto succeeded, as we see in contemporary society as described in the Discourse on Inequality
Discourse on Inequality
Discourse on the Origin and Basis of Inequality Among Men , also commonly known as the "Second Discourse", is a work by philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau...

 (1754).

In this essay, which elaborates on the ideas introduced in the Discourse on the Arts and Sciences
Discourse on the Arts and Sciences
A Discourse on the Moral Effects of the Arts and Sciences , more commonly known as Discourse on the Sciences and Arts , is an essay by Genevan philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau which argued that the arts and sciences corrupt human morality...

, Rousseau traces man's social evolution from a primitive state of nature
State of nature
State of nature is a term in political philosophy used in social contract theories to describe the hypothetical condition that preceded governments...

 to modern society. The earliest solitary humans possessed a basic drive for self preservation and a natural disposition to compassion
Compassion
Compassion is a virtue — one in which the emotional capacities of empathy and sympathy are regarded as a part of love itself, and a cornerstone of greater social interconnection and humanism — foundational to the highest principles in philosophy, society, and personhood.There is an aspect of...

 or pity. They differed from animals, however, in their capacity for free will and their potential perfectibility. As they began to live in groups and form clans they also began to experience family love, which Rousseau saw as the source of the greatest happiness known to humanity. As long as differences in wealth and status among families were minimal, the first coming together in groups was accompanied by a fleeting golden age of human flourishing. The development of agriculture, metallurgy, private property, and the division of labour
Division of labour
Division of labour is the specialisation of cooperative labour in specific, circumscribed tasks and likeroles. Historically an increasingly complex division of labour is closely associated with the growth of total output and trade, the rise of capitalism, and of the complexity of industrialisation...

 and resulting dependency on one another, however, led to economic inequality
Economic inequality
Economic inequality comprises all disparities in the distribution of economic assets and income. The term typically refers to inequality among individuals and groups within a society, but can also refer to inequality among countries. The issue of economic inequality is related to the ideas of...

 and conflict. As population pressures forced them to associate more and more closely, they underwent a psychological transformation: They began to see themselves through the eyes of others and came to value the good opinion of others as essential to their self esteem. Rousseau posits that the original, deeply flawed Social Contract
Social contract
The social contract is an intellectual device intended to explain the appropriate relationship between individuals and their governments. Social contract arguments assert that individuals unite into political societies by a process of mutual consent, agreeing to abide by common rules and accept...

 (i.e., that of Hobbes), which led to the modern state, was made at the suggestion of the rich and powerful, who tricked the general population into surrendering their liberties to them and instituted inequality as a fundamental feature of human society. Rousseau's own conception of the Social Contract can be understood as an alternative to this fraudulent form of association. At the end of the Discourse on Inequality
Discourse on Inequality
Discourse on the Origin and Basis of Inequality Among Men , also commonly known as the "Second Discourse", is a work by philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau...

, Rousseau explains how the desire to have value in the eyes of others comes to undermine personal integrity and authenticity in a society marked by interdependence, and hierarchy
Hierarchy
A hierarchy is an arrangement of items in which the items are represented as being "above," "below," or "at the same level as" one another...

. In the last chapter of the Social Contract, Rousseau would ask "What is to be done?" He answers that now all men can do is to cultivate virtue in themselves and submit to their lawful rulers. To his readers, however, the inescapable conclusion was that a new and more equitable Social Contract was needed.

Political theory


Perhaps Rousseau's most important work is The Social Contract, which outlines the basis for a legitimate political order within a framework of classical republicanism
Classical republicanism
Classical republicanism is a form of republicanism developed in the Renaissance inspired by the governmental forms and writings of classical antiquity. The earliest examples of the school were classical writers such as Aristotle, Polybius, and Cicero...

. Published in 1762, it became one of the most influential works of political philosophy in the Western tradition. It developed some of the ideas mentioned in an earlier work, the article Economie Politique (Discourse on Political Economy), featured in Diderot's Encyclopédie
Encyclopédie
Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers was a general encyclopedia published in France between 1751 and 1772, with later supplements, revised editions, and translations. It was edited by Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d'Alembert...

. The treatise begins with the dramatic opening lines, "Man was born free, and he is everywhere in chains.
Those who think themselves the masters of others are indeed greater slaves than they."

Rousseau claimed that the state of nature was a primitive condition without law or morality, which human beings left for the benefits and necessity of cooperation. As society developed, division of labor and private property required the human race to adopt institutions of law. In the degenerate phase of society, man is prone to be in frequent competition with his fellow men while also becoming increasingly dependent on them. This double pressure threatens both his survival and his freedom. According to Rousseau, by joining together into civil society through the social contract and abandoning their claims of natural right, individuals can both preserve themselves and remain free. This is because submission to the authority of the general will
General will
The general will , made famous by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, is a concept in political philosophy referring to the desire or interest of a people as a whole. As used by Rousseau, the "general will" is identical to the rule of law, and to Spinoza's mens una.The notion of the general will is wholly...

 of the people as a whole guarantees individuals against being subordinated to the wills of others and also ensures that they obey themselves because they are, collectively, the authors of the law.

Although Rousseau argues that sovereignty
Sovereignty
Sovereignty is the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory. It can be found in a power to rule and make law that rests on a political fact for which no purely legal explanation can be provided...

 (or the power to make the laws) should be in the hands of the people, he also makes a sharp distinction between the sovereign and the government. The government is composed of magistrates, charged with implementing and enforcing the general will. The "sovereign" is the rule of law, ideally decided on by direct democracy in an assembly. Under a monarchy, however, the real sovereign is still the law. Rousseau was opposed to the idea that the people should exercise sovereignty via a representative assembly (Book III, Chapter XV). The kind of republican government of which Rousseau approved was that of the city state, of which Geneva was a model, or would have been, if renewed on Rousseau's principles. France could not meet Rousseau's criterion of an ideal state because it was too big. Much subsequent controversy about Rousseau's work has hinged on disagreements concerning his claims that citizens constrained to obey the general will are thereby rendered free:
The notion of the general will is wholly central to Rousseau's theory of political legitimacy. ... It is, however, an unfortunately obscure and controversial notion. Some commentators see it as no more than the dictatorship of the proletariat or the tyranny of the urban poor (such as may perhaps be seen in the French Revolution). Such was not Rousseau's meaning. This is clear from the Discourse on Political Economy, where Rousseau emphasizes that the general will exists to protect individuals against the mass, not to require them to be sacrificed to it. He is, of course, sharply aware that men have selfish and sectional interests which will lead them to try to oppress others. It is for this reason that loyalty to the good of all alike must be a supreme (although not exclusive) commitment by everyone, not only if a truly general will is to be heeded but also if it is to be formulated successfully in the first place".

Education and child rearing


Rousseau’s philosophy of education is not concerned with particular techniques of imparting information and concepts, but rather with developing the pupil’s character and moral sense, so that he may learn to practice self-mastery and remain virtuous even in the unnatural and imperfect society in which he will have to live. The hypothetical boy, Émile, is to be raised in the countryside, which, Rousseau believes, is a more natural and healthy environment than the city, under the guardianship of a tutor who will guide him through various learning experiences arranged by the tutor. Today we would call this the disciplinary method of "natural consequences" since, like modern psychologists, Rousseau felt that children learn right and wrong through experiencing the consequences of their acts rather than through physical punishment. The tutor will make sure that no harm results to Émile through his learning experiences.

Rousseau was one of the first to advocate developmentally appropriate education; and his description of the stages of child development
Child development
Child development stages describe theoretical milestones of child development. Many stage models of development have been proposed, used as working concepts and in some cases asserted as nativist theories....

 mirrors his conception of the evolution of culture. He divides childhood into stages: the first is to the age of about 12, when children are guided by their emotions and impulses. During the second stage, from 12 to about 16, reason starts to develop; and finally the third stage, from the age of 16 onwards, when the child develops into an adult. Rousseau recommends that the young adult learn a manual skill such as carpentry, which requires creativity and thought, will keep him out of trouble, and will supply a fallback means of making a living in the event of a change of fortune. (The most illustrious aristocratic youth to have been educated this way may have been Louis XVI, whose parents had him learn the skill of locksmithing.) The sixteen-year-old is also ready to have a companion of the opposite sex.

Although his ideas foreshadowed modern ones in many ways, in one way they do not: Rousseau was a believer in the moral superiority of the patriarchal family on the antique Roman model. Sophie, the young woman Émile is destined to marry, as a representative of ideal womanhood, is educated to be governed by her husband while Émile, as representative of the ideal man, is educated to be self-governing. This is not an accidental feature of Rousseau's educational and political philosophy; it is essential to his account of the distinction between private, personal relations and the public world of political relations. The private sphere
Private sphere
The private sphere is the complement or opposite to the public sphere. The private sphere is a certain sector of societal life in which an individual enjoys a degree of authority, unhampered by interventions from governmental or other institutions. Examples of the private sphere are family and home...

 as Rousseau imagines it depends on the subordination of women, in order for both it and the public political sphere (upon which it depends) to function as Rousseau imagines it could and should. Rousseau anticipated the modern idea of the bourgeois nuclear family
Nuclear family
Nuclear family is a term used to define a family group consisting of a father and mother and their children. This is in contrast to the smaller single-parent family, and to the larger extended family. Nuclear families typically center on a married couple, but not always; the nuclear family may have...

, with the mother at home taking responsibility for the household and for childcare and early education.

Feminists, beginning in the late 18th century with Mary Wollstonecraft
Mary Wollstonecraft
Mary Wollstonecraft was an eighteenth-century British writer, philosopher, and advocate of women's rights. During her brief career, she wrote novels, treatises, a travel narrative, a history of the French Revolution, a conduct book, and a children's book...

 in 1792 have criticized Rousseau for his confinement of women to the domestic sphere—unless women were domesticated
Domestication
Domestication or taming is the process whereby a population of animals or plants, through a process of selection, becomes accustomed to human provision and control. In the Convention on Biological Diversity a domesticated species is defined as a 'species in which the evolutionary process has been...

 and constrained by modesty and shame, he feared "men would be tyrannized by women... For, given the ease with which women arouse men's senses... men would finally be their victims...." His contemporaries saw it differently because Rousseau thought that mothers should breastfeed their children. Marmontel
Jean-François Marmontel
Jean-François Marmontel was a French historian and writer, a member of the Encyclopediste movement.-Biography:He was born of poor parents at Bort, Limousin...

 wrote that his wife thought, "One must forgive something," she said, "in one who has taught us to be mothers."

Rousseau's detractors have blamed him for everything they do not like in what they call modern "child-centered" education. John Darling's 1994 book Child-Centered Education and its Critics argues that the history of modern educational theory
Pedagogy
Pedagogy is the study of being a teacher or the process of teaching. The term generally refers to strategies of instruction, or a style of instruction....

 is a series of footnotes to Rousseau, a development he regards as bad. Good or bad, the theories of educators such as Rousseau's near contemporaries Pestalozzi
Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi
Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi was a Swiss pedagogue and educational reformer who exemplified Romanticism in his approach....

, Mme de Genlis
Stéphanie Félicité Ducrest de St-Albin, comtesse de Genlis
Madame de Genlis, full name Stéphanie Félicité Ducrest de St-Aubin, comtesse de Genlis, or Madame Brûlart, was a French writer, harpist and educator.-Biography:...

, and later, Maria Montessori
Maria Montessori
Maria Montessori was an Italian physician and educator, a noted humanitarian and devout Catholic best known for the philosophy of education which bears her name...

, and John Dewey
John Dewey
John Dewey was an American philosopher, psychologist and educational reformer whose ideas have been influential in education and social reform. Dewey was an important early developer of the philosophy of pragmatism and one of the founders of functional psychology...

, which have directly influenced modern educational practices do have significant points in common with those of Rousseau.

Religion


Having converted to Roman Catholicism early in life and returned to the austere Calvinism
Calvinism
Calvinism is a Protestant theological system and an approach to the Christian life...

 of his native Geneva as part of his period of moral reform, Rousseau maintained a profession of that religious philosophy and of John Calvin
John Calvin
John Calvin was an influential French theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation. He was a principal figure in the development of the system of Christian theology later called Calvinism. Originally trained as a humanist lawyer, he broke from the Roman Catholic Church around 1530...

 as a modern lawgiver throughout the remainder of his life. His views on religion presented in his works of philosophy, however, may strike some as discordant with the doctrines of both Catholicism and Calvinism.

At the time, however, Rousseau's strong endorsement of religious toleration, as expounded by the Savoyard vicar in Émile
Emile: Or, On Education
Émile, or On Education is a treatise on the nature of education and on the nature of man written by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who considered it to be the “best and most important of all my writings”. Due to a section of the book entitled “Profession of Faith of the Savoyard Vicar,” Émile was be...

, was interpreted as advocating indifferentism
Indifferentism
Indifferentism, in Roman Catholic theology, describes the belief that there is no evidence that one religion or philosophy is superior to another. The Catholic Church ascribes indifferentism to all atheistic, materialistic, pantheistic, and agnostic philosophies...

, a heresy, and led to the condemnation of the book in both Calvinist Geneva
Geneva
Geneva In the national languages of Switzerland the city is known as Genf , Ginevra and Genevra is the second-most-populous city in Switzerland and is the most populous city of Romandie, the French-speaking part of Switzerland...

 and Catholic Paris. His assertion in the Social Contract
Social Contract (Rousseau)
Of The Social Contract, Or Principles of Political Right by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, is the book in which Rousseau theorized about the best way in which to set up a political community in the face of the problems of commercial society which he had already identified in his Discourse on Inequality...

 that true followers of Jesus would not make good citizens may have been another reason for Rousseau's condemnation in Geneva.

Unlike many of the more radical Enlightenment philosophers, Rousseau affirmed the necessity of religion. But he repudiated the doctrine of original sin
Original sin
Original sin is, according to a Christian theological doctrine, humanity's state of sin resulting from the Fall of Man. This condition has been characterized in many ways, ranging from something as insignificant as a slight deficiency, or a tendency toward sin yet without collective guilt, referred...

, which plays so large a part in Calvinism (in Émile, Rousseau writes "there is no original perversity in the human heart").

In the 18th century, many deists viewed God merely as an abstract and impersonal creator of the universe, which they likened to a giant machine. Rousseau's deism differed from the usual kind in its intense emotionality. He saw the presence of God in his creation, including mankind, which, apart from the harmful influence of society, is good, because God is good. Rousseau's attribution of a spiritual value to the beauty of nature anticipates the attitudes of 19th-century Romanticism
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

 towards nature and religion.

Rousseau was upset that his deistic views were so forcefully condemned, while those of the more atheistic philosophes were ignored. He defended himself against critics of his religious views in his "Letter to Christophe de Beaumont
Christophe de Beaumont
Christophe de Beaumont , French ecclesiastic and archbishop of Paris, was a cadet of the Les Adrets and Saint-Quentin branch of the illustrious Dauphin family of Beaumont....

, the Archbishop of Paris in which he insists that freedom of discussion in religious matters is essentially more religious than the attempt to impose belief by force."

Legacy



Rousseau's idea of the volonté générale ("general will
General will
The general will , made famous by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, is a concept in political philosophy referring to the desire or interest of a people as a whole. As used by Rousseau, the "general will" is identical to the rule of law, and to Spinoza's mens una.The notion of the general will is wholly...

") was not original with him but rather belonged to a well-established technical vocabulary of juridical and theological writings in use at the time. The phrase was used by Diderot and also by Montesquieu (and by his teacher, the Oratorian friar Nicolas Malebranche
Nicolas Malebranche
Nicolas Malebranche ; was a French Oratorian and rationalist philosopher. In his works, he sought to synthesize the thought of St. Augustine and Descartes, in order to demonstrate the active role of God in every aspect of the world...

). It served to designate the common interest embodied in legal tradition, as distinct from and transcending people's private and particular interests at any particular time. The concept was also an important aspect of the more radical 17th-century republican tradition of Spinoza, from whom Rousseau differed in important respects, but not in his insistence on the importance of equality. This emphasis on equality is Rousseau's most important and consequential legacy, causing him to be both reviled and applauded:

While Rousseau's notion of the progressive moral degeneration of mankind from the moment civil society established itself diverges markedly from Spinoza's claim that human nature is always and everywhere the same ... for both philosophers the pristine equality of the state of nature is our ultimate goal and criterion ... in shaping the "common good", volonté générale, or Spinoza's mens una, which alone can ensure stability and political salvation. Without the supreme criterion of equality, the general will would indeed be meaningless. ... When in the depths of the French Revolution the Jacobin clubs all over France regularly deployed Rousseau when demanding radical reforms. and especially anything – such as land redistribution – designed to enhance equality, they were at the same time, albeit unconsciously, invoking a radical tradition which reached back to the late seventeenth century.


The cult that grew up around Rousseau after his death, and particularly the radicalized versions of Rousseau's ideas that were adopted by Robespierre and Saint-Just during the Reign of Terror
Reign of Terror
The Reign of Terror , also known simply as The Terror , was a period of violence that occurred after the onset of the French Revolution, incited by conflict between rival political factions, the Girondins and the Jacobins, and marked by mass executions of "enemies of...

, caused him to become identified with the most extreme aspects of the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

. Among other things, the 1795 launched ship of the line Jean-Jacques Rousseau
French ship Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1795)
The Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Téméraire class 74-gun ship of the line of the French Navy.In October 1796, under captain Racord, she was part of the Villeneuve's squadron that sailed from Toulon to Brest...

 was named after the philosopher. The revolutionaries were also inspired by Rousseau to introduce Deism as the new official civil religion
Civil religion
The intended meaning of the term civil religion often varies according to whether one is a sociologist of religion or a professional political commentator...

 of France, scandalizing traditionalists:
Ceremonial and symbolic occurrences of the more radical phases of the Revolution invoked Rousseau and his core ideas.

Thus the ceremony held at the site of the demolished Bastille, organized by the foremost artistic director of the Revolution, Jacques-Louis David
Jacques-Louis David
Jacques-Louis David was an influential French painter in the Neoclassical style, considered to be the preeminent painter of the era...

, in August 1793 to mark the inauguration of the new republican constitution, an event coming shortly after the final abolition of all forms of feudal privilege, featured a cantata based on Rousseau's democratic pantheistic deism as expounded in the celebrated "Profession de foi d'un vicaire savoyard" in Book Four of Émile.


Opponents of the Revolution and defenders of religion, most influentially the Irish essayist Edmund Burke
Edmund Burke
Edmund Burke PC was an Irish statesman, author, orator, political theorist and philosopher who, after moving to England, served for many years in the House of Commons of Great Britain as a member of the Whig party....

, therefore placed the blame for the excesses of the French Revolution directly on the revolutionaries' misplaced (as he considered it) adulation of Rousseau. Burke's "Letter to a Member of the National Assembly", published in February 1791, was a diatribe against Rousseau, whom he considered the paramount influence on the French Revolution (his ad hominem attack did not really engage with Rousseau's political writings). Burke maintained that the excesses of the Revolution were not accidents but were designed from the beginning and were rooted in Rousseau's personal vanity, arrogance, and other moral failings. He recalled Rousseau's visit to Britain in 1766, saying: "I had good opportunities of knowing his proceedings almost from day to day and he left no doubt in my mind that he entertained no principle either to influence his heart or to guide his understanding, but vanity". Conceding his gift of eloquence, Burke deplored Rousseau's lack of the good taste and finer feelings that would have been imparted by the education of a gentleman:
Taste and elegance ... are of no mean importance in the regulation of life. A moral taste ... infinitely abates the evils of vice. Rousseau, a writer of great force and vivacity, is totally destitute of taste in any sense of the word. Your masters [i.e., the leaders of the Revolution], who are his scholars, conceive that all refinement has an aristocratic character. The last age had exhausted all its powers in giving a grace and nobleness to our mutual appetites, and in raising them into a higher class and order than seemed justly to belong to them. Through Rousseau, your masters are resolved to destroy these aristocratic prejudices.


In America, where there was no such cult, the direct influence of Rousseau was arguably less. The American founders rarely cited Rousseau, but came independently to their Republicanism
Republicanism in the United States
Republicanism is the political value system that has been a major part of American civic thought since the American Revolution. It stresses liberty and inalienable rights as central values, makes the people as a whole sovereign, supports activist government to promote the common good, rejects...

 and enthusiastic admiration for the austere virtues described by Livy
Livy
Titus Livius — known as Livy in English — was a Roman historian who wrote a monumental history of Rome and the Roman people. Ab Urbe Condita Libri, "Chapters from the Foundation of the City," covering the period from the earliest legends of Rome well before the traditional foundation in 753 BC...

 and in Plutarch
Plutarch
Plutarch then named, on his becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus , c. 46 – 120 AD, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia...

's portrayals of the great men of ancient Sparta
Sparta
Sparta or Lacedaemon, was a prominent city-state in ancient Greece, situated on the banks of the River Eurotas in Laconia, in south-eastern Peloponnese. It emerged as a political entity around the 10th century BC, when the invading Dorians subjugated the local, non-Dorian population. From c...

 and the classical republicanism
Classical republicanism
Classical republicanism is a form of republicanism developed in the Renaissance inspired by the governmental forms and writings of classical antiquity. The earliest examples of the school were classical writers such as Aristotle, Polybius, and Cicero...

 of early Rome, as did most other enlightenment figures. Rousseau’s praise of Switzerland and Corsica’s economies of isolated and self-sufficient independent homesteads, and his endorsement of a well-regulated citizen militia, such as Switzerland’s, recall the ideals of Jeffersonian democracy
Jeffersonian democracy
Jeffersonian Democracy, so named after its leading advocate Thomas Jefferson, is a term used to describe one of two dominant political outlooks and movements in the United States from the 1790s to the 1820s. The term was commonly used to refer to the Democratic-Republican Party which Jefferson...

. To Rousseau we owe the invention of the concept of a "civil religion
Civil religion
The intended meaning of the term civil religion often varies according to whether one is a sociologist of religion or a professional political commentator...

", one of whose key tenets is religious toleration. Yet despite their mutual insistence on the self evidence that "all men are created equal", their insistence that the citizens of a republic be educated at public expense, and the evident parallel between the concepts of the "general welfare" and Rousseau's "general will
General will
The general will , made famous by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, is a concept in political philosophy referring to the desire or interest of a people as a whole. As used by Rousseau, the "general will" is identical to the rule of law, and to Spinoza's mens una.The notion of the general will is wholly...

", some scholars maintain there is little to suggest that Rousseau had that much effect on Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

 and other founding fathers. They argue that the American constitution owes as much or more to the English Liberal
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 philosopher John Locke
John Locke
John Locke FRS , widely known as the Father of Liberalism, was an English philosopher and physician regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers. Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tradition of Francis Bacon, he is equally important to social...

's emphasis on the rights of property and to Montesquieu's theories of the separation of powers
Separation of powers
The separation of powers, often imprecisely used interchangeably with the trias politica principle, is a model for the governance of a state. The model was first developed in ancient Greece and came into widespread use by the Roman Republic as part of the unmodified Constitution of the Roman Republic...

. Rousseau's writings had an indirect influence on American literature through the writings of Wordsworth and Kant
KANT
KANT is a computer algebra system for mathematicians interested in algebraic number theory, performing sophisticated computations in algebraic number fields, in global function fields, and in local fields. KASH is the associated command line interface...

, whose works were important to the New England Transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American essayist, lecturer, and poet, who led the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century...

, as well as on such Unitarians as theologian William Ellery Channing
William Ellery Channing
Dr. William Ellery Channing was the foremost Unitarian preacher in the United States in the early nineteenth century and, along with Andrews Norton, one of Unitarianism's leading theologians. He was known for his articulate and impassioned sermons and public speeches, and as a prominent thinker...

. American novelist James Fennimore Cooper's Last of the Mohicans and other novels reflect republican and egalitarian ideals present alike in Rousseau, Thomas Paine
Thomas Paine
Thomas "Tom" Paine was an English author, pamphleteer, radical, inventor, intellectual, revolutionary, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States...

, and also in English Romantic primitivism
Primitivism
Primitivism is a Western art movement that borrows visual forms from non-Western or prehistoric peoples, such as Paul Gauguin's inclusion of Tahitian motifs in paintings and ceramics...

. Another American admirer was lexicographer Noah Webster
Noah Webster
Noah Webster was an American educator, lexicographer, textbook pioneer, English spelling reformer, political writer, editor, and prolific author...

. The Paraguayan dictator José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia
José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia
200px|right|thumb|José Gaspar Rodríguez de FranciaDr. José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia y Velasco was the first leader of Paraguay following its independence from Spain...

 sought to found a society based on the principles set forth in Rousseau's Social Contract.

The Australian biologist Jeremy Griffith
Jeremy Griffith
Jeremy Griffith is an Australian biologist and author on the subject of the human condition. He first gained notoriety for his comprehensive search for the Tasmanian Tiger or Thylacine conducted from 1967 to 1973...

 in his 'Beyond the Human Condition' has formulated a thesis that seeks to ground Rousseau's concept of the noble savage and the artificiality of modern urabn living in evolutionary psychology.

Criticisms of Rousseau



The first to criticize Rousseau were his fellow Philosophe
Philosophe
The philosophes were the intellectuals of the 18th century Enlightenment. Few were primarily philosophers; rather they were public intellectuals who applied reason to the study of many areas of learning, including philosophy, history, science, politics, economics and social issues...

s, above all, Voltaire. According to Jacques Barzun:
Voltaire, who had felt annoyed by the first essay [On the Arts and Sciences], was outraged by the second, [Discourse on the Origin of Inequality Among Men], declaring that Rousseau wanted us to “walk on all fours” like animals and behave like savages, believing them creatures of perfection. From these interpretations, plausible but inexact, spring the clichés Noble Savage and Back to Nature.


Barzun states that, contrary to myth, Rousseau was no primitivist; for him:
The model man is the independent farmer, free of superiors and self-governing. This was cause enough for the philosophes hatred of their former friend. Rousseau’s unforgivable crime was his rejection of the graces and luxuries of civilized existence. Voltaire had sung “The superfluous, that most necessary thing." For the high bourgeois standard of living Rousseau would substitute the middling peasant’s. It was the country versus the city – an exasperating idea for them, as was the amazing fact that every new work of Rousseau’s was a huge success, whether the subject was politics, theater, education, religion, or a novel about love.”


Following the French Revolution, other commentators fingered a potential danger of Rousseau’s project of realizing an “antique” conception of virtue amongst the citizenry in a modern world (e.g. through education, physical exercise, a citizen militia, public holidays, and the like). Taken too far, as under the Jacobin
Jacobin (politics)
A Jacobin , in the context of the French Revolution, was a member of the Jacobin Club, a revolutionary far-left political movement. The Jacobin Club was the most famous political club of the French Revolution. So called from the Dominican convent where they originally met, in the Rue St. Jacques ,...

s, such social engineering could result in tyranny.
As early as 1819, in his famous speech “On Ancient and Modern Liberty,” the political philosopher Benjamin Constant
Benjamin Constant
Henri-Benjamin Constant de Rebecque was a Swiss-born French nobleman, thinker, writer and politician.-Biography:...

, a proponent of constitutional monarchy and representative democracy, criticized Rousseau, or rather his more radical followers (specifically the Abbé de Mably
Gabriel Bonnot de Mably
Gabriel Bonnot de Mably , sometimes known as Abbé de Mably, was a French philosopher and politician. He was born in Grenoble of a legal family, and, like his younger brother, the well-known philosopher, Étienne Bonnot de Condillac , took holy orders...

), for allegedly believing that "everything should give way to collective will, and that all restrictions on individual rights would be amply compensated by participation in social power.”

Common also were attacks by defenders of social hierarchy on Rousseau's "romantic" belief in equality. In 1860, shortly after the Sepoy Rebellion in India, two British white supremacists, John Crawfurd and James Hunt, mounted a defense of British imperialism
Imperialism
Imperialism, as defined by Dictionary of Human Geography, is "the creation and/or maintenance of an unequal economic, cultural, and territorial relationships, usually between states and often in the form of an empire, based on domination and subordination." The imperialism of the last 500 years,...

 based on “scientific racism
Scientific racism
Scientific racism is the use of scientific techniques and hypotheses to sanction the belief in racial superiority or racism.This is not the same as using scientific findings and the scientific method to investigate differences among the humans and argue that there are races...

". Crawfurd, in alliance with Hunt, took over the presidency of the British Anthropological Society, which had been founded with the mission to defend indigenous peoples against slavery and colonial exploitation. Invoking "science" and "realism", the two men derided their "philanthropic" predecessors for believing in human equality and for not recognizing that mankind was divided into superior and inferior races. Crawfurd, who opposed Darwinian evolution, "denied any unity to mankind, insisting on immutable, hereditary, and timeless differences in racial character, principal amongst which was the 'very great' difference in 'intellectual capacity.'" For Crawfurd, the races had been created separately and were different species. Since Crawfurd was Scottish, he thought the Scottish "race" superior and all others inferior; whilst Hunt, on the other hand, believed in the supremacy of the Anglo-Saxon "race". Crawfurd and Hunt routinely accused those who disagreed with them of believing in "Rousseau’s Noble Savage". (The pair ultimately quarreled because Hunt believed in slavery and Crawfurd did not). "As Ter Ellinson demonstrates, Crawfurd was responsible for re-introducing the Pre-Rousseauian concept of 'the Noble Savage' to modern anthropology, attributing it wrongly and quite deliberately to Rousseau.”

In 1919 Irving Babbitt
Irving Babbitt
Irving Babbitt was an American academic and literary critic, noted for his founding role in a movement that became known as the New Humanism, a significant influence on literary discussion and conservative thought in the period between 1910 to 1930...

, founder of a movement called the "New Humanism
New Humanism
New Humanism or neohumanism were terms applied to a theory of literary criticism, together with its consequences for culture and political thought, developed around 1900 by the American scholar Irving Babbitt, and the scholar and journalist Paul Elmer More...

", wrote a critique of what he called "sentimental humanitarianism", for which he blamed Rousseau. Babbitt's depiction of Rousseau was countered in a celebrated and much reprinted essay by A. O. Lovejoy in 1923. In France, fascist theorist and anti-Semite Charles Maurras
Charles Maurras
Charles-Marie-Photius Maurras was a French author, poet, and critic. He was a leader and principal thinker of Action Française, a political movement that was monarchist, anti-parliamentarist, and counter-revolutionary. Maurras' ideas greatly influenced National Catholicism and "nationalisme...

, founder of Action Française
Action Française
The Action Française , founded in 1898, is a French Monarchist counter-revolutionary movement and periodical founded by Maurice Pujo and Henri Vaugeois and whose principal ideologist was Charles Maurras...

, “had no compunctions in laying the blame for both Romantisme et Révolution firmly on Rousseau in 1922."

During the Cold War, Karl Popper
Karl Popper
Sir Karl Raimund Popper, CH FRS FBA was an Austro-British philosopher and a professor at the London School of Economics...

 criticized Rousseau for his association with nationalism and its attendant abuses. This came to be known among scholars as the "totalitarian thesis". An example is J. L. Talmon's, The Origins of Totalitarian Democracy (1952). Political scientist J. S. Maloy states that “the twentieth century added Nazism and Stalinism to Jacobinism on the list of horrors for which Rousseau could be blamed. ... Rousseau was considered to have advocated just the sort of invasive tampering with human nature which the totalitarian regimes of mid-century had tried to instantiate." But Maloy adds that "The totalitarian thesis in Rousseau studies has, by now, been discredited as an attribution of real historical influence.” Arthur Melzer, however, while conceding that Rousseau would not have approved of modern nationalism, observes that his theories do contain the "seeds of nationalism", insofar as they set forth the "politics of identification", which are rooted in sympathetic emotion. Melzer also believes that in admitting that people's talents are unequal, Rousseau therefore tacitly condones the tyranny of the few over the many. For Stephen T. Engel, on the other hand, Rousseau's nationalism anticipated modern theories of "imagined communities" that transcend social and religious divisions within states.

On similar grounds, one of Rousseau's strongest critics during the second half of the 20th century was political philosopher Hannah Arendt
Hannah Arendt
Hannah Arendt was a German American political theorist. She has often been described as a philosopher, although she refused that label on the grounds that philosophy is concerned with "man in the singular." She described herself instead as a political theorist because her work centers on the fact...

. Using Rousseau's thought as an example, Arendt identified the notion of sovereignty
Sovereignty
Sovereignty is the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory. It can be found in a power to rule and make law that rests on a political fact for which no purely legal explanation can be provided...

 with that of the general will. According to her, it was this desire to establish a single, unified will based on the stifling of opinion in favor of public passion that contributed to the excesses of the French Revolution.

Major works

  • Dissertation sur la musique moderne, 1736
  • Discourse on the Arts and Sciences
    Discourse on the Arts and Sciences
    A Discourse on the Moral Effects of the Arts and Sciences , more commonly known as Discourse on the Sciences and Arts , is an essay by Genevan philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau which argued that the arts and sciences corrupt human morality...

     (Discours sur les sciences et les arts), 1750
  • Narcissus, or The Self-Admirer: A Comedy, 1752
  • Le Devin du Village
    Le Devin du Village
    Le devin du village is an interméde, a one-act opera by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who also wrote the libretto.It was first performed before the court at Fontainebleau on 18 October 1752 and at the Paris Opéra on 1 March 1753. King Louis XV loved the work so much that he offered Rousseau the great...

    : an opera, 1752,
  • Discourse on the Origin and Basis of Inequality Among Men (Discours sur l'origine et les fondements de l'inégalité parmi les hommes), 1754
  • Discourse on Political Economy, 1755
  • Letter to M. D'Alembert on Spectacles
    Letter to M. D'Alembert on Spectacles
    Letter to D’Alembert on the Theatre is an essay written by Jean-Jacques Rousseau in opposition to an article published in the Encyclopédie by Jean d’Alembert, that proposed the establishment of a theatre in Geneva...

    , 1758 (Lettre à d'Alembert sur les spectacles)
  • Julie, or the New Heloise
    Julie, ou la nouvelle Héloïse
    Julie, or the New Héloïse is an epistolary novel by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, published in 1761 by Marc-Michel Rey in . The original edition was entitled Lettres de deux amans habitans d'une petite ville au pied des Alpes .The novel’s subtitle points to the history of Héloïse d’Argenteuil and Pierre...

     (Julie, ou la nouvelle Héloïse), 1761
  • Émile: or, on Education
    Emile: Or, On Education
    Émile, or On Education is a treatise on the nature of education and on the nature of man written by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who considered it to be the “best and most important of all my writings”. Due to a section of the book entitled “Profession of Faith of the Savoyard Vicar,” Émile was be...

     (Émile ou de l'éducation), 1762
  • The Creed of a Savoyard Priest, 1762 (in Émile)
  • The Social Contract, or Principles of Political Right
    Social Contract (Rousseau)
    Of The Social Contract, Or Principles of Political Right by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, is the book in which Rousseau theorized about the best way in which to set up a political community in the face of the problems of commercial society which he had already identified in his Discourse on Inequality...

     (Du contrat social), 1762
  • Four Letters to M. de Malesherbes, 1762
  • Pygmalion: a Lyric Scene
    Pygmalion (1762 play)
    Pygmalion is the most influential dramatic work by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, other than his opera Le devin du village. Though now rarely performed, it was one of the first ever melodramas...

    , 1762
  • Letters Written from the Mountain, 1764 (Lettres de la montagne)
  • Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (Les Confessions), 1770, published 1782
  • Constitutional Project for Corsica, 1772
  • Considerations on the Government of Poland
    Considerations on the Government of Poland
    Considerations on the Government of Poland — also simply The Government of Poland or, in the original French, Considérations sur le gouvernement de Pologne — is an essay by Swiss philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau concerning the design of a new constitution for the people of Poland...

    , 1772
  • Essay on the Origin of Languages
    Essay on the Origin of Languages
    "Essay on the Origin of Languages" is an essay by Jean-Jacques Rousseau published posthumously in 1781. Rousseau had meant to publish the essay in a short volume which was also to include essays On Theatrical Imitation and The Levite of Ephraim. In the preface to this would-be volume Rousseau...

    , published 1781 (Essai sur l'origine des langues)
  • Reveries of a Solitary Walker
    Reveries of a Solitary Walker
    Reveries of a Solitary Walker is an unfinished book by Genevan philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, written between 1776 and 1778. It was the last of a number of works composed toward the end of his life which were deeply autobiographical in nature...

    , incomplete, published 1782 (Rêveries du promeneur solitaire)
  • Dialogues: Rousseau Judge of Jean-Jacques, published 1782

Editions in English

  • Basic Political Writings, trans. Donald A. Cress. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 1987.
  • Collected Writings, ed. Roger Masters
    Roger Masters
    Roger Davis Masters, born June 8, 1933, studied at Harvard , served in the U.S. Army and completed his M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Chicago. After teaching at Yale , he has been on the faculty at Dartmouth College as well as Cultural Attaché at the American Embassy in Paris...

     and Christopher Kelly, Dartmouth: University Press of New England, 1990–2010, 13 vols.
  • The Confessions, trans. Angela Scholar. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.
  • Emile, or On Education, trans. with an introd. by Allan Bloom
    Allan Bloom
    Allan David Bloom was an American philosopher, classicist, and academic. He studied under David Grene, Leo Strauss, Richard McKeon and Alexandre Kojève. He subsequently taught at Cornell University, the University of Toronto, Yale University, École Normale Supérieure of Paris, and the University...

    , New York: Basic Books, 1979.
  • "On the Origin of Language," trans. John H. Moran. In On the Origin of Language: Two Essays. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986.
  • Reveries of a Solitary Walker, trans. Peter France. London: Penguin Books, 1980.
  • 'The Discourses' and Other Early Political Writings, trans. Victor Gourevitch. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.
  • 'The Social Contract' and Other Later Political Writings, trans. Victor Gourevitch. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.
  • 'The Social Contract, trans. Maurice Cranston. Penguin: Penguin Classics Various Editions, 1968–2007.
  • The Political writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, edited from the original MCS and authentic editions with introduction and notes by C.E.Vaughan, Blackwell, Oxford, 1962. (In French but the introduction and notes are in English).

Online texts


See also

  • Age of Enlightenment
    Age of Enlightenment
    The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

  • Civil militia
  • Classical republicanism
    Classical republicanism
    Classical republicanism is a form of republicanism developed in the Renaissance inspired by the governmental forms and writings of classical antiquity. The earliest examples of the school were classical writers such as Aristotle, Polybius, and Cicero...

  • Deism
    Deism
    Deism in religious philosophy is the belief that reason and observation of the natural world, without the need for organized religion, can determine that the universe is the product of an all-powerful creator. According to deists, the creator does not intervene in human affairs or suspend the...

  • Georges Hébert, a physical culturist influenced by Rousseau's teachings
  • Let them eat cake
    Let Them Eat Cake
    "Let them eat cake" is the traditional translation to English of the French phrase "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche", supposedly spoken by "a great princess" upon learning that the peasants had no bread...

    , a saying of Rousseau's
  • Natural rights
    Natural rights
    Natural and legal rights are two types of rights theoretically distinct according to philosophers and political scientists. Natural rights are rights not contingent upon the laws, customs, or beliefs of any particular culture or government, and therefore universal and inalienable...

  • Rousseau Institute
    Rousseau Institute
    Rousseau Institute is a private school in Geneva, Switzerland. In 1912, Édouard Claparède created an institute to turn educational theory into a science...

  • Rousseau's educational philosophy
  • Social Contract
    Social contract
    The social contract is an intellectual device intended to explain the appropriate relationship between individuals and their governments. Social contract arguments assert that individuals unite into political societies by a process of mutual consent, agreeing to abide by common rules and accept...

  • State of Nature
    State of nature
    State of nature is a term in political philosophy used in social contract theories to describe the hypothetical condition that preceded governments...


External links