J ean-Jacques Rousseau is generally seen, especially in Britain, as the worst sort of intellectual: absurdly self-regarding, and dangerously naive, in his fond belief in the natural goodness of humanity, which fed the excesses of the French Revolution, and maybe sowed other totalitarian seeds. I have come to think he deserves more respect. While recently researching the roots of secular humanism, I found that he stood out from the list of dead white males I was considering. While other thinkers made important contributions to this or that movement, Rousseau made the weather. Also, he is psychologically fascinating — he makes other thinkers of the age seem wooden. His thought is as relevant as ever, for he confronted deep human needs, such as the need to reconcile personal integrity with social belonging, the need to reconnect with the natural world, the need to escape the hyped-up tinny crap that passes for culture and seek out some sort of authenticity, and above all perhaps, the glorious yet embarrassing need that drives us all, the need to be ourselves.
Leviathan And Jean-Jacques Rousseau's The Social Contract And The Discourses
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If we want to know Rousseau completely we must take into consideration the age in which he was born. We must have a clear idea of the then French society and life. Traditionalism was deeply rooted in the soil of France. Economically, France was at the point of bankruptcy. Absolutism was the key-note of the time.
Essays on Rousseau
His political philosophy influenced the progress of the Enlightenment throughout Europe, as well as aspects of the French Revolution and the development of modern political, economic and educational thought. His Discourse on Inequality and The Social Contract are cornerstones in modern political and social thought. Rousseau's sentimental novel Julie, or the New Heloise was important to the development of preromanticism and romanticism in fiction. Rousseau's autobiographical writings—the posthumously published Confessions composed in , which initiated the modern autobiography, and the unfinished Reveries of the Solitary Walker composed — —exemplified the lateth-century " Age of Sensibility ", and featured an increased focus on subjectivity and introspection that later characterized modern writing. Rousseau befriended fellow philosopher Denis Diderot in , and would later write about Diderot's romantic troubles in his Confessions.
The themes that ties the two to authors is education and poverty. As they point out, America is a country that is not so united when it comes to education. The differences between the affluent and the poor a significant, these differences are evident in the educational system that seems to provide much better resources for some than for others. It is a system that clearly promotes two levels of class, and this is clearly wrong.