Jean-Jacques Rousseau has remained to be one of the most significant people in history, as well as the present philosophy. He made many contributions to many areas, which include moral psychology and the area of political philosophy. Jean-Jacques Rousseau was the son one ordinary watchmaker Isaac Rousseau and Suzanne Bernard. He was born 1712, in the city state of Calvinist in Geneva; Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s father was one among the few minorities of the people from Geneva who were given the chance to enjoy the ranking of Geneva citizens. This was a vital status that was passed on from generation to generation, and in this case, Jean-Jacques Rousseau was to inherit it from his father (Leo 54).
Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s mother died a few days after his birth and his father abandoned him when he about the age ten year old. He had a haphazard bringing up in the hands of his relatives and an unusual education, which informal except for his own Plutarch's lives’ reading and the Calvinists sermons. He obtained his first employment from a notary later fired him because he was incompetent (Gabriel, 100). His second employment was from an engraver, where he worked for some time, but later in1728 ran away because of the poor treatment he got from the engraver. He then feigned his passion for Catholicism where he was sent to Turin by Madame de Warens who had devoted herself too helping converts. He was baptized, and he was employed as a footman and secretary. Jean-Jacques Rousseau joined a local school choir, where he complete his education and started getting light understanding of the Italian music.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s works started in 1748 when he arrived in Paris. He came well equipped with the few recommendation letters he had gotten from Geneva, as well as his Italian music notation. He was successful in amusing a number of ladies of Parisian in his fortune. Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s was assisted by one of the Parisian ladies to get employed as the French ambassador’s secretary in Venice (Leo, 39). He stay in Venice was a significant point in his life because it marked the beginning of his great works. It was during this time of his life that first visualized the thoughts, which became fully developed in his life. After he had worked for a while as the secretary of the French ambassador, he was dismissed from his job naively. He expected that action would be taken to ensure justice. However, he was disappointed because no justice was done. Jean-Jacques Rousseau learned from this experience that one should never look forward to getting any form of justice from a social order that has a foundation that is based on inequality.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau started seeing his success from the area of music and literary field. In 1949, he entered a writing contest that was organized by one of the most thriving academies in the region. The contest required the contestants to answer a science question “Has the progress of the sciences and arts contributed to the purification of morals?” (Gabriel, 70). Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s was able to win the contest by answering “no.” It is from this question that he came up the theme that he used to carry out his work later on. He wrote many essays, which in most cases provoked a number of polemics, and this undoubtedly gave Rousseau publicity that made him famous in a useful way. Rousseau’s work in music became successful in the same way his literacy work was. In the year 1752, Rousseau became very popular in Paris as a famous musician (Gabriel, 49-51). However, he decided to give up his music work and devoted his life to writing. His works mostly aimed at addressing the issue of freedom more than anything else in the field of political philosophy.
Jean Jacque Rousseau had a similar view on human nature as other philosophers. He believes that men are born free; however, they spend their whole life in chains. In fact, His famous saying says that "man is born free and everywhere he is in chains."By this Rousseau tries to imply that all people are born free of any fault (Maurizio, 50). He argues that people are in point of fact good in nature, only that as time goes by, and the experience the gat from the brutal life changes them. According to Rousseau, people get their brutality and selfishness from the society they live in. He believes that the society is full of brutality, which solely contributes to the bad nature of people. He continues and says that in the past people used to live in harmony with others and nature. However, this changed with the introduction of societies. The coming of people into societies was the begging of people’s problems and selfishness (Gabriel, 41).
Nevertheless, Rousseau differed with other philosophers, especially Hobbes, who argued that given that man in the “state of nature” is logically wicked since he is not aware of goodness, and that he is ferocious mainly because he lacks virtue. Rousseau criticized such argument by stating that in the “state of nature” “uncorrupted morals” triumph. He further commended the commendable self-control of the Caribbeans in articulating the sexual urge, considering that their habitat is well known for being a hot climate, which constantly appears to provoke the excitement (Gabriel, 39-41).
According to Rousseau, the “savage” stage in human development is the most appreciated and most favorable in development of human. Like most philosophers, Rousseau was of the opinion that the savage stage the third stage, rather than the first, in human development. He argued that this was the optimum stage of societal development. He further asserted that the savage stage is in between two crucial states; brute animals, and the farthest of dissolute civilized life (Maurizio, 55-56). To some extent, this argument has been a source of criticism of Rousseau’s point of view on human development, and this explains why various philosophers believe Rousseau was the inventor of the “noble savage” idea. However, other scholars, such as Lovejoy Arthur, have come to his defense by indicating that this is a misrepresentation of Rousseau’s thinking. The phrase “noble savage” was invented in 1670s, particularly in the works of John Dryden, a British poet. Rousseau was of the opinion that rather than being a social construct, morality was “natural” (Leo, 59).
It is imperative to note that Rousseau was not of the opinion that humans act morally in “the state of nature”, which is contrary to the claims of his critics (Maurizio, 65-66). Rousseau was of the idea it is only via cautious education in a social state that morality can develop. He based this argument on the assumption that humans are likely to operate with an animal’s viciousness in a state of nature. It is largely believed that according to Rousseau, a natural man practically resembles apes, especially the chimpanzee. Hence, he was of the opinion humanity’s “natural” goodness is similar to an animal’s goodness, which is difficult to be categorized as either good or bad (Leo, 55-56). Thus, Rousseau argued that civilization of humans has always been artificial, envy, creating inequality, as well as unnatural desires.
Relating to the Discourse on the Arts and Sciences, he was of the opinion that humankind has not benefited from the arts and sciences, mainly because they emerged as a result of vanity and pride, and not from bona fide needs of humans (Maurizio, 77-78). In addition, they have been the source of corruption, through creating opportunities for idleness and luxury. On the same note, Rousseau asserted that governments had become more powerful, as a result of the progress of knowledge. In addition, as a result of this knowledge progress, individual liberty had been crushed. He came to a conclusion that material progress weakened the likelihood of true friendship, through substituting it with the elements of suspicion, fear, and jealousy (Leo, 41).
In conclusion, it is clear that Jean-Jacques Rousseau is among the many successful political philosophers in the world history. His work, as a writer and musician, had a lot of influence in the political arena. He emerged to be a successful political philosopher not only in France, but also the entire world.
Maurizio, Viroli, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the 'Well-Ordered Society. New York:
Cambridge University Press, 2003
Gabriel, Compayre. Jean Jacques Rousseau and Education from Nature. California: T. Y.
Crowell & co., 2007
Leo, Damrosch. Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Restless Genius. New York: Houghton Mifflin