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Jean Jacques Rousseau

Themes, Arguments, and Ideas

❶Hobbes does say that while the state of nature may not have existed all over the world at one particular time, it is the condition in which humans would be if there were no sovereign. The earliest solitary humans possessed a basic drive for self-preservation and a natural disposition to compassion or pity.

Formative years

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This edition does that, but also so much more. An excellent edition for students and scholars. Anyone interested in inequality, politics, philosophy and the challenges of modernity will benefit from this elegant volume. It makes for essential reading for students and specialists in political science, philosophy and the humanities. Acknowledgements Introduction Jean-Jacques Rousseau: A Brief Chronology Notes on the Translations.

He is the author of The Conversion of the Imagination: At the end of The New Eloise , when Julie has made herself ill in an attempt to rescue one of her children from drowning, she comes face-to-face with a truth about herself: The members of the Wolmar household are depicted as finding happiness in living according to an aristocratic ideal.

They appreciate the routines of country life and enjoy the beauties of the Swiss and Savoyard Alps. But despite such an endorsement of the social order, the novel was revolutionary; its very free expression of emotions and its extreme sensibility deeply moved its large readership and profoundly influenced literary developments.

It is also halfway between a novel and a didactic essay. At the same time the book sets out to explore the possibilities of an education for republican citizenship. Rousseau devotes many pages to explaining the methods the tutor must use. Those methods involve a noticeable measure of deceit, and although corporal punishment is forbidden, mental cruelty is not. In this different context religion plays a different role. Instead of a civil religion, Rousseau here outlines a personal religion, which proves to be a kind of simplified Christianity , involving neither revelation nor the familiar dogmas of the church.

In the guise of La Profession de foi du vicaire savoyard ; The Profession of Faith of a Savoyard Vicar Rousseau sets out what may fairly be regarded as his own religious views, since that book confirms what he says on the subject in his private correspondence.

He felt, moreover, a strong emotional drive toward the worship of God, whose presence he felt most forcefully in nature, especially in mountains and forests untouched by the hand of man. That minimal creed put Rousseau at odds with the orthodox adherents of the churches and with the openly atheistic philosophes of Paris, so that despite the enthusiasm that some of his writings, and especially The New Eloise , excited in the reading public, he felt himself increasingly isolated, tormented, and pursued.

After he had been expelled from France, he was chased from canton to canton in Switzerland. It was in England that Rousseau found refuge after he had been banished from the canton of Bern. The Scottish philosopher David Hume took him there and secured the offer of a pension from King George III ; but once in England, Rousseau became aware that certain British intellectuals were making fun of him, and he suspected Hume of participating in the mockery.

Various symptoms of paranoia began to manifest themselves in Rousseau, and he returned to France incognito. In the remaining 10 years of his life Rousseau produced primarily autobiographical writings, mostly intended to justify himself against the accusations of his adversaries. The most important was his Confessions , modeled on the work of the same title by St.

Augustine and achieving something of the same classic status. And indeed, Rousseau does seem to have recovered his peace of mind in his last years, when he was once again afforded refuge on the estates of great French noblemen, first the Prince de Conti and then the Marquis de Girardin, in whose park at Ermenonville he died. We welcome suggested improvements to any of our articles. You can make it easier for us to review and, hopefully, publish your contribution by keeping a few points in mind.

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Brian Duignan Maurice Cranston. Learn More in these related Britannica articles: It was the French philosopher and writer Jean-Jacques Rousseau —78 who took the next step. His A Discourse on Inequality depicted a state of nature very different from that described by Hobbes as well as from Christian conceptions of original sin.

The preeminent name associated with the sensibility of the age is that of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. His work gave rise to the cult of nature, lakes, mountains, and gardens, in contrast to what he presented as the false glitter of society. He called for a…. The revolutionary romanticism of the Swiss French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau may be interpreted in part as a reaction to the analytic rationalism of the Enlightenment.

He was trying to escape the aridity of a purely empirical and utilitarian outlook and attempting to create a…. Indeed, in his most influential work of political philosophy, The Social Contract …. Domestic reforms influence of Linnaeus In Carolus Linnaeus: France, — View More. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. Help us improve this article! Contact our editors with your feedback. You may find it helpful to search within the site to see how similar or related subjects are covered.

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Please try again later. Keep Exploring Britannica Plato. Plato, ancient Greek philosopher, student of Socrates c. Rousseau is very clear that a return the state of nature once human beings have become civilized is not possible.

Therefore, we should not seek to be noble savages in the literal sense, with no language, no social ties, and an underdeveloped faculty of reason. Rather, Rousseau says, someone who has been properly educated will be engaged in society, but relate to his or her fellow citizens in a natural way. At first glance, this may seem paradoxical: If human beings are not social by nature, how can one properly speak of more or less natural ways of socializing with others?

The best answer to this question requires an explanation of what Rousseau calls the two forms of self-love: Amour de soi is a natural form of self-love in that it does not depend on others.

Rousseau claims that by our nature, each of us has this natural feeling of love toward ourselves. We naturally look after our own preservation and interests. By contrast, amour-propre is an unnatural self-love that is essentially relational. That is, it comes about in the ways in which human beings view themselves in comparison to other human beings. Without amour-propre , human beings would scarcely be able to move beyond the pure state of nature Rousseau describes in the Discourse on Inequality.

Thus, amour-propre can contribute positively to human freedom and even virtue. Nevertheless, amour-propre is also extremely dangerous because it is so easily corruptible. Rousseau often describes the dangers of what commentators sometimes refer to as 'inflamed' amour-propre. In its corrupted form, amour-propre is the source of vice and misery, and results in human beings basing their own self worth on their feeling of superiority over others.

While not developed in the pure state of nature, amour-propre is still a fundamental part of human nature. Therefore goal of Emile's natural education is in large part to keep him from falling into the corrupted form of this type of self-love. This will allow the pupil to be virtuous even in the unnatural and imperfect society in which he lives.

The character of Emile begins learning important moral lessons from his infancy, thorough childhood, and into early adulthood.

The tutor must even manipulate the environment in order to teach sometimes difficult moral lessons about humility, chastity, and honesty. They depend on women only because they desire them. By contrast, women both need and desire men. Sophie is educated in such a way that she will fill what Rousseau takes to be her natural role as a wife. She is to be submissive to Emile.

And although Rousseau advocates these very specific gender roles, it would be a mistake to take the view that Rousseau regards men as simply superior to women.

Women have particular talents that men do not; Rousseau says that women are cleverer than men, and that they excel more in matters of practical reason. These views are continually discussed among both feminist and Rousseau scholars. In his discussion of how to properly educate a pupil about religious matters, the tutor recounts a tale of an Italian who thirty years before was exiled from his town.

Disillusioned, the young man was aided by a priest who explained his own views of religion, nature, and science. The priest begins by explaining how, after a scandal in which he broke his vow of celibacy, he was arrested, suspended, and then dismissed. In his woeful state, the priest began to question all of his previously held ideas. Doubting everything, the priest attempts a Cartesian search for truth by doubting all things that he does not know with absolute certainty.

But unlike Descartes, the Vicar is unable to come to any kind of clear and distinct ideas that could not be doubted. Among these truths, the Vicar finds that he exists as a free being with a free will which is distinct from his body that is not subject to physical, mechanical laws of motion.

The will is known to me in its action, not in its nature. The Profession of Faith also includes the controversial discussion of natural religion, which was in large part the reason why Emile was banned. The controversy of this doctrine is the fact that it is categorically opposed to orthodox Christian views, specifically the claim that Christianity is the one true religion.

And so, any organized religion that correctly identifies God as the creator and preaches virtue and morality, is true in this sense. Therefore, the Vicar concludes, each citizen should dutifully practice the religion of his or her own country so long as it is in line with the religion, and thus morality, of nature.

The work tells the story of Julie d'Etange and St. Preux, who were one time lovers. Later, at the invitation of her husband, St. The major tenets of his thought are clearly evident; the struggle of the individual against societal norms, emotions versus reason, and the goodness of human nature are all prevalent themes.

Rousseau began writing the Reveries of the Solitary Walker in the fall of By this time, he had grown increasingly distressed over the condemnation of several of his works, most notably the Emile and the Social Contract.

This public rejection, combined with rifts in his personal relationships, left him feeling betrayed and even as though he was the victim of a great conspiracy. It is interesting that Rousseau returns to nature, which he had always praised throughout his career. One also recognizes in this praise the recognition of God as the just creator of nature, a theme so prevalent in the Profession of Faith of the Savoyard Vicar.

The reader sees in it, not only philosophy, but also the reflections of the philosopher himself. The most distinctive feature of this late work, often referred to simply as the Dialogues , is that it is written in the form of three dialogues.

This somewhat confusing arrangement serves the purpose of Rousseau judging his own career. And second, the Dialogues represent one of the few places that Rousseau claims his work is systematic. He claims that there is a philosophical consistency that runs throughout his works. Perhaps his greatest directly philosophical influence is on the ethical thought of Immanuel Kant. This may seem puzzling at first glance. For Kant, the moral law is based on rationality, whereas in Rousseau, there is a constant theme of nature and even the emotional faculty of pity described in the Second Discourse.

But despite these differences, the influence on Kant is undeniable. The Profession of Faith of the Savoyard Vicar is one text in particular that illustrates this influence. The Vicar claims that the correct view of the universe is to see oneself not at the center of things, but rather on the circumference, with all people realizing that we have a common center.

Morality is something separate from individual happiness: Not only is he one of the most important figures in the history of political philosophy, later influencing Karl Marx among others, but his works were also championed by the leaders of the French Revolution. And finally, his philosophy was largely instrumental in the late eighteenth century Romantic Naturalism movement in Europe thanks in large part to Julie or the New Heloise and the Reveries of the Solitary Walker.

Contemporary Rousseau scholarship continues to discuss many of the same issues that were debated in the eighteenth century. The tension in his political thought between individual liberty and totalitarianism continues to be an issue of controversy among scholars. The titles are given in the original French as well as the English translation.

The standard original language edition is Ouevres completes de Jean Jacques Rousseau , eds. Bernard Gagnebin and Marcel Raymond, Paris: Roger Masters and Christopher Kelly, Hanover: University Press of New England, References are given by the title of the work, the volume number in Roman Numerals , and the page number. The Collected Works do not include the Emile.

References to this work are from Emile , trans. The following is a brief list of widely available secondary texts. Rousseau's Theodicy of Self-Love: Evil, Rationality, and the Drive for Recognition.

Oxford University Press, Jean-Jacques Rousseau — Jean-Jacques Rousseau was one of the most influential thinkers during the Enlightenment in eighteenth century Europe.

The State of Nature as a Foundation for Ethics and Political Philosophy The scope of modern philosophy was not limited only to issues concerning science and metaphysics. Discourse on the Sciences and Arts This is the work that originally won Rousseau fame and recognition.

Discourse on the Origin of Inequality The Second Discourse , like the first, was a response to a question put forth by the academy of Dijon: The Social Contract a. Background The Social Contract is, like the Discourse on Political Economy , a work that is more philosophically constructive than either of the first two Discourses.

The General Will The concept of the general will, first introduced in the Discourse on Political Economy , is further developed in the Social Contract although it remains ambiguous and difficult to interpret. Education The basic philosophy of education that Rousseau advocates in the Emile , much like his thought in the first two Discourses , is rooted in the notion that human beings are good by nature.

Judge of Jean Jacques The most distinctive feature of this late work, often referred to simply as the Dialogues , is that it is written in the form of three dialogues. References and Further Reading a. A play written by Rousseau. Lettre sur la musique francaise Letter on French music , A novel that was widely read and successful immediately after its publication. Dictionnaire de Musique Dictionary of Music , The Problem of the Good Life. Penn State UP, University of Chicago Press, Jean-Jacques Rousseau in Exile and Adversity.

The Natural Goodness of Man: On the Systems of Rousseau's Thought. The Cambridge Companion to Rousseau.

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Jean Jacques Rousseau () "Citizen Rousseau of Geneva", writer, musician and political theorist, penned the well-known Social Contract in While his .

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Jean-Jacques Rousseau was one of the most influential thinkers during the Enlightenment in eighteenth century Europe. His first major philosophical work, A Discourse on the Sciences and Arts, was the winning response to an essay contest conducted by the Academy of Dijon in

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The three works collected in The Major Political Writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau represent an important contribution to eighteenth-century political theory that has exerted an extensive influence on generations of thinkers, beginning with the leaders of the French Revolution and continuing to the present day. The new translations on offer. Jean-Jacques Rousseau ( - ) was a French philosopher and writer of the Age of Enlightenment. His Political Philosophy, particularly his formulation of social contract theory (or Contractarianism), strongly influenced the French Revolution and the development of Liberal, Conservative and Socialist theory.

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Jean Jacques Rousseau was born on June 28, in Geneva, Switzerland. Nine days later, his mother, Suzanne Bernard Rousseau, died due to complications from childbirth. His father, Isaac Rousseau, was a watchmaker who often left for extended periods of time to pursue his trade. In , Rousseau's. Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Swiss-born philosopher, writer, and political theorist who inspired the leaders of the French Revolution and Romanticism.