Rousseau, Jean-Jacques

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques
Name: Rousseau, Jean-Jacques
Born: 1712
Died: 1778

Jean-Jacques Rousseau Biography

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a French philosopher, writer, thinker of the Enlightenment. He was also a musicologist, composer, botanist, and the most prominent representative of sentimentalism. He is sometimes regarded the forerunner of the Great French Revolution.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was born in 1712 in Geneva. The mother of Jean-Jacques passed away after giving birth. Due to an armed attack on a fellow citizen, his father, Isaac, was forced to flee to the neighboring canton and there he married again. Jean-Jacques was left in Geneva under the care of his uncle on the mother's side. In the years 1723-24, the boy was a pupil of the Protestant boarding house near the French border, then was apprenticed first to a notary and then to an engraver. At this time, he read a lot, even at work; for this he was subjected to harsh treatment. As he writes in his book Confessions, because of this he was accustomed to lie, pretend, steal. Leaving on Sundays outside the city, he repeatedly returned when the gate was already locked, and he had to spend the night under the open sky.

Not accepting the way he was treated, in March 1728, being a 16-year-old teenager, he left his native city. During this period, Madame de Warens appeared in his life, a young secured aristocratic widow, by whose efforts Rousseau was sent to Turin Monastery, where he became a Catholic and therefore lost his Geneva citizenship. In 1730, Rousseau continued his journey through the country, but in 1732 returned to the patroness, this time as a lover. Their relationship, which lasted until 1739, became for him a pass to another world, which was previously not accessible to him.

In 1740, he became the tutor of a well-known judge from Lyon. In 1743-44, Rousseau worked as a secretary at the French Embassy in Venice but returned to Paris, where in 1745 he met Thérèse Levasseur, who became his life partner, and the mother of their five children. All of them grew up in an orphanage since Rousseau believed that he could not bring them up himself. At that period of his biography, he got acquainted with Denis Diderot. In 1749, J.-J. Rousseau 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. It was Rousseau who won the prize, and this event marked the beginning of the most fruitful decade in his work. In the same year, Rousseau was invited to work together on to Diderot and D'Alembert's great Encyclopédie. In total, he wrote 390 articles, mostly on musicology.

In 1750, a treatise titled Discourse on the Sciences and the Arts was published. The ideas of opposing a civilized society to a natural state, voiced in it, were developed in the treatise the Discourse on the Origin and Basis of Inequality Among Men (the Discourse on Inequality) (1755). In the 1750's, Rousseau more and more moved away from the metropolitan literary salons that received him kindly. In 1754, having gone to Geneva, he reverted to Calvinism and restored his citizenship.

After returning to France in 1756, Rousseau led a solitary lifestyle, settling in a suburb of Paris. The treatise Emile, or On Education written in 1762 and the political treatise On the Social Contract forced their author to leave France in order to avoid arrest. His works were burned not only in Paris but also in Geneva. He found a refuge in the Principality of Neuchâtel, which belonged to the Prussian king. In 1770, he returned to France, settled in the capital and was engaged in rewriting notes. No one pursued him, however, the writer experienced constant anxiety connected with the conspiracies that were regarding him. In the summer of 1777, Rousseau's friends were seriously worried about his health. In the spring of the following year, the writer went in the estate of Marquis Girardin in Ermenonville, where on July 2 Jean-Jacques Rousseau suddenly died. In 1794, his remains were transferred to the Pantheon.

Rousseau's system of views, his critical attitude toward civilization, urban culture, the exaltation of naturalness and nature, the priority of the heart over reason in many ways influenced the literature and philosophical thought of different countries. He was one of the first who pointed to the reverse side of civilization. His radical views on social development became the breeding ground for the Great French Revolution and served as its ideological basis. The creative legacy of Rousseau is represented by a large number of prose works, poems, comedies, poems. He also owns the authorship of the first national comic opera, The Village Soothsayer.