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The Philosophes: ROUSSEAU, 1712-78

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Kenneth Bartlett

HIS109 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 text 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 Rousseau 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 society 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) Was invited to numerous soirees, meeting numerous important people; however he always felt like an outsider Emile, 1762 Helps explain Rousseau and his mind Idea of Romanticism: of the natural person, self, man (was a reaction to rationalism) Suggests that there is a huge problem with education because it doesn’t allow children to learn naturally, have to behave in a certain way according to social standards that destroy the expressive ability of the child’s soul Proposes a new education which promotes the natural self Makes critical points: Formal learning (education through books, recitation, knowledge of the past) destroys natural the creativity of children Why do people take away the pleasure of children in which most will die before the age of 5 (promotes the development of the natural self) Stresses the education of experience Religion of any kind if it’s stru
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