Jean Jacques Rousseau

1712-1778

Who Was He

•Jean Jacques Rousseau was, perhaps, the single most influential philosopher of the Enlightenment era. His most important work was The Social Contract.

His Ideas

In essence, Rousseau’s view of man was similar to Locke’s, and the opposite of Hobbes’. He believed that man was born good and noble, if left untouched by society, Rousseau believed man would be a noble savage. He argued that society corrupted the spirit of man. In the case of government, Rousseau believed that the government that governed least was best. Less society, more people. Rousseau believed that government was a Social Contract between rulers and people. In his contract, the rulers were to follow the General Will of the people. He believed that power should be in the hands of the people. And any government that did not follow the General Will, should be overthrown.