Jean-Jacques Rousseau is the one of the most influential political Philosophers.He went on to became well known as a literary figure with perceptive ideas.He wrote several essays on the political economy,which formed the basis of the French Revolution later on.
He was born in 1712 in Geneva,Switzerland,Rousseau lost his mother soon after she gave birth to him.His father was not very attentive and never bothered about his education.When he was a mere 10 years old,his father deserted him and ran away to avoid imprisonment over a petty crime he had committed.Rousseau was left in the care of relatives.
At any early age,he developed a passion for reading.When he was 12,he was sent to work with a notary,but was soon fired,as he was found incapable.An apprenticeship with an engraver led to a similar fate,but with him running away this time.He didn't like the strict discipline expected of him in these jobs.After wandering around aimlessly,he took shelter with a Roman Catholic Priest at Consignon in Savoy.The priest in turn entrusted him to a lady named Baronne de Warens.She went him to study the Catholic religion at Turin.It took him just nine days to convert from being Protestant to Catholic.During this time,he worked as a shopkeeper's assistant,a footman and a secretary to support himself.
He soon left and went back tp live with Madame de Warens,where he spent the next 8 years.and he now tried to find a means of livelihood.After attempting to be a priest he gave up and learnt music for a while.But this too was not his force.He spent a lot of time studying the science and arts and learning about 17th century philosophers,the Latin Poets,History,Theology,Mathematics,Astronomy,Antamoy and Chemistry.he spent his spare time admiring nature and visiting the theatre.
Madame de Warens soon got tried of his wandering around aimlessly.He left her house and went to Paris,after a brief stint as a private tutor at Lyons.In Paris,he was unable to find unemployment and was soon in financial trouble.But soon,with the help of some upper class influence he got a job as secretary to the French ambassador in Venice.
In 1745,he was back in Paris,supporting himself by copying music.He soon wrote a piece on music that was published in the Encyclopedia.He also wrote an opera that was staged but failed.This was turning point in his life.as it was here that he met the famous philosophers Voltaire and Diderot.In 1749 he signed up for an essay competition conducted by the academy of Dijon.The subject was "Has the progress of the arts and sciences contributed more to the corruption or purification of morals?" His essay the Discourse on the Sciences and Arts,was published the next year and won the first prize.The esasay proclaimed that art and science did not really benefit mankind.As it was this kind of knowledge that made governements powerful enough to crush individual freedom.He wrote another opera "Devin du Village" or "The Village Sorcerer" and it was a great hit.
Diderot then requested him to write a political article for the Encyclopedia and Rousseau wrote the Discourse of Political Economy.Rousseau soon wrote another essay "Discourse on the Origin of Inequality" for the next Dijon contest and it was published in 1755.He decided to live the simple,rustic life that he himself preached about.In 1756,he moved to Hermitage,a retreat in the woods of Montmorency near Paris.An admirer had furnished it.Here he wrote "The New Heloise",but in less than two years he had a disagreement with thw admirer as well as with Diderot and went to Montlouis,where he wrote his masterpiece "Emile" and "The Social Contract".
In "The social contract",he advocated a system wherein;every man gives up his rights and possessions to the 'general will'.He coined the slogan Liberty,Equality,Fraternity and it became the mantra of the French Revolution.His other great work,"Emile" was about the Educational system.When it was published in 1762,there was a huge outcry over Rousseau's views on monarchy and government institutions.His ideas on natural religion scandalized both Protestants and Cathloics.Then,he settle in England,where he worked on his autobiography,Confessions.He made a few friends here and became popular.
But shortly thereafter,he had a falling out with his friends,thanks to a practical joke.Someone published a forged letter that made it seem like the British Government was out to kill Rousseau.He returned to Paris in 1770 and started working as a copyist again and continued writing.He came up with the Rousseau,"juge de jean jacques" and "Reveries" a continuation to the Confessions.He slowly started losing his mind and was admitted in a hospital.In 1778,he died from a sudden attack of thrombosis,which many believed to be a suicide.He buried in Ermenonville until 1794,after which his remains were placed with Voltaire's in the Pantheon in Paris.
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