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Jean Jacques Rousseau - Philosopher and Social Critic


June 28, 1712, Geneva, Switzerland


July 2, 1778, Paris, France

Early Influences:
  • Mother died at birth
  • Deserted by his father at a young age
  • Ran away from rigid life as an apprentice to a coppersmith in 1728
  • Travelled to Paris in 1742 and was asked by Denis Diderot to contribute articles on music to the Encyclopedie
  • Met a servant in 1745 with whom he had numerous illegitimate children


  • Educated in Turin
  • Spent many later years receiving private education in the home of his guardian

Major Accomplishments:
  • Published Emile (1762), a treatise on education where he said that humans are basically good
  • Published The Social Contract (1762)

  • Had a great influence on the romantic movement
  • Had a major influence on Immanuel Kant, a late-18th century philosopher
  • Believed that the will of the majority is not always correct.
  • Instead, the state must act in a moral manner preserving freedom, equality and justice. Otherwise, the people can rebel.
  • Was one of the first to attack the institute of private property


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