FunJean Jacques Rousseau: biography and his best phrases

Jean Jacques Rousseau: biography and his best phrases

Jean-Jacques Rousseau , a Geneva- born French-speaking writer and philosopher , is particularly known for his book The Social Contract , but also for the Confessions, the first autobiography of French literature. Let’s know his biography and his best phrases.

Jean Jacques Rousseau: biography and his best phrases

Rousseau was born in Geneva in 1712 to a Protestant family that fled France due to religious persecution. His mother died giving birth to him ; his father, a watchmaker, to escape justice because of a fight, has to take refuge abroad. Jean-Jacques was twelve years old, had a rather vague education, and was assigned to an engraver to learn the trade. At the age of sixteen he fled to Savoy where he was received by a Catholic priest who, to satisfy his desire for conversion to Catholicism, sent him to study at the Turin seminary, and then recommended him to the young Madame Warens with whom, on a farm in the In the countryside near Chambery, Rosseau spent the happiest period of his life.

In 1742, however, he settled permanently in Paris , where he was forced to exercise various professions to make ends meet (tutor, music transcriptionist, embassy secretary …) and meanwhile he was able to get to know the new philosophical ideas, the characters more alive of the culture with whom he befriended (Diderot, Condillac, Voltaire), the hectic life of a great city: from all these elements he extracted material for his convictions and therefore for the subject of his works. In 1750 with the Discourse on the sciences and the arts he won the prize of the contest of the Academy of Dijon and became famous; he won the same award in 1755 with his Discourse on the Origin of Inequality.

In 1754, on a short trip to Geneva, he again converted to Protestantism. Unfortunately his ideas, very personal and so rich in suggestions that they lend themselves to conflicting interpretations, were considered contrary to current rationalism and too revolutionary a political flavor; his encyclopedic friends turned their backs on him, Voltaire became his enemy . Thus Rousseau, increasingly suspicious and unstable in character, feeling persecuted, rightly or wrongly, spent a good part of his life from 1760 onwards fleeing to Europe and making a living copying music, while his literary business grew more and more feverish. . He died suddenly in 1778 in Ermenonville and his remains were transferred to the Pantheon in Paris in 1794.

Ideas and themes

Rousseau wants to reform society (Social Contract), morality (The new Eloisa), the individual (Emilio or De la Educación). It starts from the assumption that man is good by nature and has been corrupted by society; That is why it is necessary to rebuild in man his natural virtues , such as goodness, modesty, moderation, common sense.

Also in politics, Rousseau has more revolutionary ideas than those of other philosophers: he speaks of political and economic equality , he wants a limitation of luxury and wealth, he demands individual freedom. His theories will influence the Jacobins of the French Revolution, the Marxist socialists, all who will promote the Declaration of Human Rights. Therefore, Rousseau, undoubtedly a son of the Enlightenment, is also a forerunner of the modern age (as far as political ideas are concerned) and a forerunner of romanticism (for his lyrical and personal literature, and for the strong feeling of nature).

Most important works of Rosseau

  • Discourse on the Sciences and the Arts (1750)
  • Discourse on the origin of inequality (1755)
  • Discourse on Political Economy (1755)
  • Julie or the New Heloise (novel, 1761)
  • Of the social contract (1762)
  • Emilio or Of education (1762)
  • Letters written from the mountains (1764)
  • The Confessions (1665-1770, published 1782)
  • Pygmalion (1770)
  • Rousseau, Judge of Jean-Jacques or Dialogues (1772-1776 published in 1780)

The most outstanding phrases of Rosseau

  • “You forget that the fruits belong to everyone and that the land belongs to no one.”
  • «I conceive of two types of inequalities in the human species. One that I call natural or physical… The other, which can be called moral or political inequality ».
  • “The first one who, having fenced off a piece of land, came up with saying: this is mine, and found people simple enough to believe it, was the true founder of civil life.”
  • “By the nature of the property right, it does not extend beyond the life of the owner, and the moment a man dies, his property no longer belongs to him.”
  • “Real needs are never excessive.”
  • “Nobody wants the public good unless it is in harmony with theirs.”
  • “The spectacle of injustice and evil still makes my blood boil with anger; acts of virtue where I see neither boasting nor ostentation always make me tremble with joy and even tear me with sweet tears «.
  • «When I pay a debt it is a duty that I fulfill; when I make a donation it is a pleasure that I give myself ».
  • “Anyone who wants to be free is.”
  • “Forming your own opinion is no longer the behavior of a slave.”
  • “Man derives the good he does from his heart, not from his purse.”

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