Biography of Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778)

Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

Philosopher and writer Swiss, French, born in Geneva in 1712, and died July 2, 1778 in Ermenonville (Oise-France). By its adherence to the feeling and nature, it is considered one of the precursors of the romantic period. His thought exerted strong influence on the ideals of the French Revolution and in favour of the expansion of democratic ideas.

Life and works.

After a childhood in circumstances little suitable for emotional balance, he/she had a life rich in events and restless. Orphaned of mother from the moment of his birth, his father, wandering life, entrusted to the custody of his uncle Bernard. At age 18 he/she left Geneva and found the protection of Madame Warens, young widow, who gave the first maternal affection, but that it would "treating him as a man". After some sporadic trips to various cities in Europe, he/she finally arrived in Paris in 1741. There you meet several characters of the intelligentsia, including Diderot, which commissioned the encyclopedia articles devoted to the music. He/She married a seamstress of limited scope, with whom he/she had five children. Over the years, persecution by reason of his works made him wander through several European countries, including England, where he/she frequented the friendship with Hume, with whom he/she would however break violently. Back to France and prisoner of persecution mania, he/she died in Ermenoville.

His writer's temperament was revealed when he/she won the open competition by the Academy of Dijon with the slogan the progress of Sciences and letters, has contributed to the corruption or the improvement of customs? Other works that stand out in their wide production are: Discours sur les sciences et les arts (1750), Du contrat social ou principes du droit politique (1762), Emile ou De l' Éducation (novel, 1762), Les confessions (1765), Les rêveries du promeneur solitaire (posthumous, (1789), Discours sur l 'origine de l' inégalité parmi les hommes (1755), and Julie ou La nouvelle Héloïse (1761).)

Philosophical thought.

Civilization and inequality. The social pact.

In the social contract (which although it appeared after the discourse on the origin of inequality was written before), Rousseau exhibited the notion of agreement or agreement concluded between the members of the community, whose purpose is to bring together wills for the greater good of man and its conservation. What man lost the agreement in terms of their freedom, offset it by the protection that it receives from the establishment of protective laws ("marital status"). Sovereignty is based, according to him, in the concurrence of wills of individuals ("general will"). As custody of this sovereignty set in laws arises the Government, which aims to ensure the enforcement of laws for the benefit of all.

The formation of the man and the ideal community.

In the discourse on the origin of inequality, Rousseau thought changes completely. The society and its framework legislative, far from assuming a protection for the individual, become germ inequalities and deprivation. As leading cause of such degradation designates private property. To defend their property, the mighty joined with other powerful, establishing laws that defend their rights and oppressing the poor and vulnerable. The man is good by nature, says Rousseau; society is that, to denature it, malea you and makes you unhappy. The solution will be in the return to its original state (to the spontaneity of "the noble savage"), where everything is good and uncontaminated, because the precise dictates of the instinct will naturally follow. In his novel Emilio Rousseau imagines its protagonist educated in the field, away from the human community, being the ideal educational principles. Here are some of the main: precise is that the child not tripped over useless prohibitions or obstacles to their freedom; before the unmotivated child fantasies, it should oppose a firm and resolute refusal without punishment or blame; We must educate through action, not through the word, which has no efficacy in the mind of the child; in general, in the educational process nothing is teachable, they all must be "discovered" by the learner. Another very important principle is the "losing time". Rousseau underscores the truth - which will later be obvious - that the child is not a still immature man, but an individual with their own characteristics and whose educational process acquires all its strength in the extreme slowness of learning.


It presents his ideas about religion in the profession of faith of the Savoyard Vicar (insert in Emilio). Rousseau confesses believer in God, who is romantically attached. But his "faith" does not pass of deism, reluctant to all ecclesiastical authority and all that "faith" institutionalization. In the contract, however, suggests the desirability that the State establish a "civil religion", of true moral code.

Rousseau received the most harsh criticism from defenders of the enlightenment to wishful thinking for their ideas in favor of the feeling. These, indeed, crash against the alleged Empire of reason and "culturalization" of mankind.