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HIS109Y1 Lecture Notes - John Calvin, Philosophes, Formal Learning

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Kenneth Bartlett

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Nov. 29/2010
The Philosophes: ROUSSEAU, 1712-78)
In order to understand the revolution and its connection to the Enlightenment
one must understand the mind of Rousseau who created a revolutionary program with a
To understand Europe, you have to understand the effects that books had
Of all the thinkers we have been talking about; none have been as influential as
Voltaire was a genius at pointing out absurdities, but he offered no alternative in
its place
Montesquieu created a set of principles in which societies were built; however
they did apply to large numbers of people (was a modern, sought a solution that could
be sustained, an organic world in which powers operated separately)
Was not able to get large numbers of people to the street, however Rousseau was
completely different from Montesquieu and Voltaire
Was the most revolutionary thinker, built upon the ideas of those before him
Social contract became the bible of the French Revolution that would justify the
creation of a constitutional monarchy and the terror of Robespierre
Wrote like a journalist, which worked extraordinarily well
Continued a discussion
Idea of groups escaping their chains found its most effective statement in the
social contract
People are not separate from their writings; in order to understand the Social
Contract, one must understand Rousseau
Suffered from psychological problems, attributed his unhappiness to a corrupt
Origins in Geneva (where John Calvin was from) Calvin was the figure that
Rousseau would talk about in the Social Contract, to an extent he was part of a lurking
memory that Rousseau had when writing the Social contract
Was cut-off from his world, lived in a society in which he felt uncomfortable
Had an aesthetic sense (invented a new form of musical notation), being an
apprentice in an engraving shop he felt constrained
1749 the moment of conversion came: picked up a French journal and saw that
there was a competition in which one had to discuss in an essay whether or not the
changes in science, culture, knowledge, etc., had improved or corrupted society?
Argued that science, culture, & knowledge did corrupt society that moved
humankind further apart from their natural state becoming less virtuous (he became a
cult figure, and a hero to the Enlightenment)
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