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The Philosopher: Rousseau

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Kenneth Bartlett

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The Philosopher: Rousseau
J.J. Rousseau (1712 – 78)
Emile (1762)
The Social Contract (1762)
-Books are important, the Social Contract as a response to Locke
-Rousseau was influential in the contraction of the new western society
-Different from Voltaire, he did not offer and solutions to problems
-Montesquieu – one of the more influential writers of the Enlightenment, highly elitist, rational world,
member of the elite where their rights and privileges would be sustained, in order to build a new
society in which old elites could still function
oModerate writers, going back to a more organic order, moderation does not equal revolution
-Build upon the ideas of others, but he reached conclusions which others could not imagine
-The social contract inspired the Revolution, was it the founding document of the totalitarianism or
-Rousseau: revolutionary nature was a journalism
-Man in born free, but everywhere he is in chains started a conversation which lasted and progressed
even after Marx
-Rousseau – you are what you write, in order to understand the social contract we need to understand
Rousseau, he was very unhappy, attributed his unhappiness to the corrupt society which assigned him
to world which he did not like, had psychological problems
oReceived good education, his father read him classical works
oGeneva – last encountered with John Calvin, Calvin was the ultimate law maker, part of the
lurking memory which Rousseau wrote with
oMother died when he was born, he had a bizarre personal life, had rich, older mistresses and
was married to an old washed women who borne him 5 children, which were all given way
oHe was paranoid and eventually alienated all of this friends and supporters
oHis father was exiled and he was left as an apprentice to an engraver
oHis esthetic sense was very important and came as a consequence of the being an apprentice
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