An Enlightenment Thinker


Jean-Jacques Rousseau was born June 28, 1712 in Geneva, Switzerland. He was a very important philosopher of the French and European enlightenment.

His parents died shortly after his birth, and he grew up to eventually move to France. There, he became a music composer and theorist.

Growing up, he had received hospitality for Mme de Warens, or "the good woman" until he went out to seek his own fortune. While many famous philosophers such as Montesquieu were formally educated, Rousseau taught himself.

What did he do? Who did he influence and how?

Rousseau is mainly known for his philosophical work "A Discourse on the Arts and Sciences", which discussed the concern of how science and arts had caused the corruption of virtue and mortality.

Many of his words he has written were considered by the founding fathers and helped inspire them in writing the U.S. constitution.

Some Fun Facts

  • Around the time Rousseau moved to France, he had become very interested in Italian operas, and even wrote his own; It was called Les Muses galantes (1742); He was also a music composer.

  • Rousseau is know as "one of the most influential thinkers during the 18th-century European Enlightenment period."

Some Quotes From Rousseau

"Gratitude is a duty which ought to be paid, but which none have a right to expect."

"We are born weak, we need strength; helpless, we need aid; foolish, we need reason. All that we lack at birth, all that we need when we come to man's estate, is the gift of education."

This is very similar to John Locke's ideas of natural laws, as everyone is born a blank slate and becomes what they are based on experiences. Rousseau believes that everyone should be educated well.

"It is unnatural for a majority to rule, for a majority can seldom be organized and united for specific action, and a majority can."

This quote supports his ideas of not having one person or group of people rule; but to have equal branches of government.

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By Angel B.