Jean-Jacques Rousseau stands in the middle of the eighteenth-century shift from the Enlightenment to Romanticism in the eighteenth century. His The Social Contract and A Discourse upon the Origin and Foundation of the Inequality among Mankind had a major influence on the leaders of the French Revolution. He was a friend of Enlightenment thinkers like Diderot, and a contributor to the great Enlightenment project, Encyclopedie. Yet Rousseau’s work is often at odds with the strict scientific rationalism of many Enlightenment thinkers. Rousseau encourages emotional expression and emphasizes the importance of freedom in educational development.
The Jean-Jacques Rousseau Collection brings together Rousseau’s most important works. This collection links to the other books in your digital library, allowing you to cross-reference with a click. Near-instant searches allow you to jump to important sections in Rousseau’s work.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778) was born in Geneva to a middle class Protestant family. In 1728, Rousseau moved to Annecy, in France. While there, Rousseau converted to Roman Catholicism at the encouragement of Louise de Warens. In recanting his Calvinism, Rousseau was also giving up his Genevan citizenship. Rousseau moved to Paris in 1742 and developed relationships with the Enlightenment philosophes Diderot and Condillac. Rousseau contributed an article on music to Diderot and d’Alembert’s Encyclopedie. He left Paris for three years to serve at the French Embassy in Venice. When he returned to Paris, he met his future wife, Therese Levasseur, with whom he had five children (all of whom were left at the orphanage). Rousseau eventually left Paris, lived for a time in the French countryside, moved in with the Duke of Luxemburg, and eventually returned to Switzerland. At the invitation of David Hume, Rousseau went to England. After a falling out with Hume, Rousseau returned to France, where he spent the rest of his life. In addition to his works of philosophy, Rousseau wrote seven operas, an autobiography, and a work of fiction. He is credited as one of the first thinkers of the Romantic movement.