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Jean-Jacques Rousseau 1753, painted by Maurice Quentin de La Tour


Rousseau was a major philosopher, writer and composer of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, whose political philosophy influenced the development of modern political and educational thought.

His publication, Emile: or, Education, he believed was "the best and most important of all his writings"(1). This writing is a treatise on the nature of education but as well on the nature of man. Rousseau's purpose in writing this was to analyze fundamental political and philosophical questions about the relationship between the individual and society, specifically, his theory of Innate Human Goodness. In which he believed that every man was born good or rather, with the potential for goodness, and he argued that civilization, with its envy and self-consciousness has made men bad.

Rousseau sought to describe a system of education that would enable the natural man he identifies in The Social Contract to survive corrupt society (2). Particularly, in the The Social Contract Rousseau suggests that a government can only be legitimate if it has been sanctioned by the people in the role of the sovereign and without imput from the people, there can be no legitimate government.
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Les Charmettes: the house where Jean-Jacques Rousseau lived with Mme de Waren in 1735-6. It is now a museum dedicated to Rousseau.

Biography
Jean-Jacques Rousseau was born on 28 June 1712 in Geneva, Switzerland and died on 2 July 1778 in Ermenonville, Frace at age. Rousseau is described as growing up in a middle-class family in Geneva. Rousseau's father, Isaac Rousseau, was a watchmaker who was well educated and a lover of music. Rousseau's mother, Suzanne Bernard Rousseau, the daughter of a Calvinist preacher, died of birth co
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Franciose-Louise de Warens
mplications nine days after his birth. He and his older brother Jean-Francois Rousseauwere brought up by their father and a paternal aunt, also named Suzanne.

When Rousseau was 10 his father remaired and became very distant in Rousseau's life (3). In fact, from this point forward in Rousseau's life he was raised by his maternal uncle, who sent him away to board with a Calvinist minister in a hamlet outside of Geneva. This is when Rosseau began to study mathematics and drawing. At this point in his life his goal was to be a Protestant minister.

At 13 Rousseau was mentored by a civil law notary and then to an engraver who beat him and as a result at 15 he ran away from Geneva. He ended up in Savoy, Eroupe where he was introduced to Francoise-Louise de Warens who he would later become romantically involved with. Both he and Warens underwent conversion to Catholicism. Warens was said to have been attracted to the Catholicism's doctrine of forgiveness of sins.

In 1735 Rousseau moved into Les Charmettes with his mistress Francoise-Louise de Warens, also know as Mme de Warens. He and Mme de Warens stayed at this residence for two years.

Rosseau's later years and complete life story can be found in his autobiographical book The Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

Philosophy
Theory of Natural Man


"The first man who, having fenced in a piece of land, said "This is mine," and found people naive enough to believe him, that man was the true founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars, and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows: Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody".


— Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on Inequality, 1754
Rousseau claimes that "uncorrupted morals" tripmuh in the "State of Nature" and especially praised the admirable moderation of the Caribbeans in expressing the sexual urge (4) despite the fact that they live in a hot climate, which "always seems to inflame the passions" (5).

Political theory
Perhaps Jean Jacques Rousseau's most important work, by his own words, is The Social Contract, published in 1762, which outlines the basis for a legitimate political order . This book became one of the most influential works of political philosophy in the Western tradition. In this publication Rousseau argued 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 at the same time 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. 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.

See Also
Innate Human Goodness
The Social Contract
Geneva
Ermenonville
Francoise-Louise de Warens
The Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Discourse on Inequality
State of Nature

Notes
1.
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. The Confessions. Trans. J.M. Cohen. New York: Penguin (1953), 529-30.
2. Boyd, William. The Educational Theory of Jean Jacques Rousseau. London: Longmans, Green and Co. (1911), 127.
3. Leo Damrosch, Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Restless Genius (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2005) p. 24.
4. Rousseau, J. (1754), Discourse on Inequality, 72-73
5. Rousseau, J. (1754), DIscourse on Inequality, 78