Biography of Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Biography of Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was one of the leading philosophers and writers from illustration. Although he had his pluses and minuses with other authors, such as Voltaire, the truth is that his theories would inspire the birth of a new artistic conception: the romanticism. His writings would be the basis of a new society that would remain until the 19th century.

Against the common belief of being French, was born in geneva (Switzerland) in 1712. Because his father was forced into exile, Rousseau he lived with his uncles. In 1725 he worked as a watchmaker's apprentice and, shortly after, began to learn the trade of an engraver. At 16 years of age he fled his hometown until he settled in Annecy. There it was mentored by Madame de Warens, an enlightened Swiss aristocrat who provided him with great knowledge and encouraged him in his musical learning.

In 1741 he went to Paris, where he frequented various noble salons and made friends with Condillac and Diderot, who commissioned music articles for the encyclopedia. Around that time, he also began his relationships with Thérèse Levasseur, a dressmaker with whom he would have five children but who would give in hospice. In addition, he expanded his circle of contacts and met prominent thinkers as Voltaire, D’Alembert and Rameau.

Thanks to your "Discourse on the Arts and Sciences”(1750) he won a contest at the French Academy of Dijon. In the letter, Rousseau answered the question of whether the reestablishment of the sciences and the arts had contributed to refining the customs. According to the Swiss intellectual, the sciences and the arts had not contributed to refining customs, since he considered them as a cultural decline.

This launched him to fame and marked the beginning of his literary career. Once a Swiss citizen, he devoted himself to his life as an author. He first wrote the “Speech on inequality between men"In 1755, where he formulated his famous thesis of"noble savage"While attacking the evil and corruption of civilized humanity.

His next work was the "Letter to D’Alembert about the shows"In 1758, in which he condemned the theater as a source of immorality. He also made several narrative writings, such as the novel “Julia, or the new Heloise”In 1761. This work introduced into French literature the evocative description of nature and the exaltation of simple feelings.

A year later, in 1762, he wrote “Emilio or of the education”, Where he raised the problem of education from new bases. From that same year also dates what can be considered the masterpiece of his political thought: “The social contract”, Which inspired the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.

Both titles caused a great stir in the society of the time and made him tremendously unpopular, to the point that he had to leave France. He briefly returned to Switzerland to end up moving to England with his friend Hume in 1765. There he remained until he was allowed to return to France.

In his later years, due to a prohibition to continue theorizingHe wrote especially works of a personal and intimate nature such as the "Confessions". These were a kind of fictionalized autobiography written between 1765 and 1770. He also made “Rousseau, judge of Jean-Jaques" and the "Meditations of a lonely walker”, A review in which he tried to defend himself against the growing hostility of the encyclopedists towards him.

But still with everything, the pressures and the attacks, especially those of Voltaire, they separated him from public life and he isolated himself from fame in Ermenonville (France). There he died of cardiac arrest on July 2, 1778.

Even though was questioned by his contemporaries, the Rousseau influence in later literature it was decisive. His affirmation of the self and the feelings in front of reason, laid the foundations of later romanticism. It also influenced the conception of religiosity, based on the direct relationship between the believer and the Supreme Being within the framework of nature.

its cult of sincerity as a literary theme, his evocative and lyric-infused style, and the markedly autobiographical character of a good part of his work, grant him the honor of being one of the most important writers of the 18th century, not only French, but from all over the world, and one of the personalities who made their influence felt throughout the 19th century.

Passionate about History, he has a degree in Journalism and Audiovisual Communication. Since he was little he loved history and ended up exploring the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries above all.

Video: Rousseau On Education. Whiteboard Animation