Jean-Jacque Rousseau (1712-1778

Anthony Liberto

“Man is born free, and everywhere he is in shackles.”- The Social Contract

Early Life
• Born in Geneva, Switzerland on June 28,1712 • Devout Catholic • Raised by his aunt and uncle when his father fleas Geneva after committing a minor offense • Age 16 he wanders and does a variety of jobs such as an assistant, footman, and an ambassador

Early Life Cont’d
• • • • • Settles in Paris in 1742 Becomes a musician copyist for a living Marries Therese Le Vasseur Places 5 kids in foundling hospital Died July 2, 1778

Rousseau’s Philosophy
• Freedom=obedience to the law • A Radical Democratic government • There is no individual, man belongs to a larger whole which is society • Deism was Rousseau’s answer to religion and to uniting the people • Thought that people should be good, even if that means you have to be poor

Philosophy Cont’d
• Society is evil and ruins a man’s freedom • Primitive approach believing that civilization, science, and learning are the reasons for man’s corruption • Emotional influence

• 1750- Discourse on the Moral Effects of the Arts and Sciences • 1755- Discourse on the Origin of Inequality • 1762- The Social Contract

• Thought to be the creator of modern day socialism • Shows us the importance of questioning the foundations of social thought and action • Influenced nineteenth and twentieth century writers, who were critical of Western culture

Legacy Cont’d
• Also influences the leaders of the French Revolution, and the Reign of Terror during the revolution can be blamed on him • Although his influence was very limited during his time, due to the fact that people cared more about making money than his criticism, he is rated today as one of the world’s 100 most influential people

• • • Kagan, Donald. The Western Heritage. 9. Combined Volume. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education Inc, 2007. 568-69. Print. C.D., Merriman. "Jean-Jacques Rousseau." The Literature Network. 2005. Jalic Inc, Web. 15 Nov 2009. <>. Kreis, Steven. "Jean-Jacques Rousseau." The History Guide. 4/8/09. The History Guide, Web. 15 Nov 2009. <>.