Jean Jacques Rousseau was a French Philosopher and his ideas were as interesting as his life. His mother died during his birth. He was raised by his father who always neglected him. He was not educated or given any job. He was a wanderer who faced a lot of struggle between his imaginations and the real world.
Early Life of Rousseau
The mid of eighteenth century Europe is famously termed as Romantic Era. It was the time when the industrial revolution started throughout Europe. The rich were getting extremely rich. The labour class had to go through a lot of misery. They had to leave their countryside homes and reside in the cities. These cities were hardly having any sign of hygiene and life for poors was full of hardship.
Many sensitive philosophers including Rousseau could not face the reality. They suffer from illusion. They had escapist tendency so they started imagining a world which was having no misery or hardship and without any inequality. The word utopia was coined during this era. “A utopian world refers to an idealist world which can never exist.” Karl Marx also believed in such a world without inequality.
Rousseau left his home at the age of sixteen. He was not having any permanent job. He was simply wandering throughout Europe. He married a woman and had five children but he had no sense of responsibility so he left them. He cheated his friends and was involved in many immoral acts. All this led Rousseau to seek for redemption to find his lost innocence. His philosophical works are clear reflection of what he actually wanted.
Rousseau – Turning Point in his Life and Later Life and Philosophy
The turning point of Rousseau’s life comes when he went to academy of Dijon in France in 1749. He saw an essay writing competition. Its title was “If revival of Science and Arts helped to purify or corrupt morals?”. In his essay he wrote that development in so called science and arts have actually destroyed humanity.
According to Rousseau humans initially were “noble savage” who were living “Idyllic blissful” life with primitive simplicity. They were equal, happy and satisfied. But with the rise of civilization the rise of private property started and division of labor developed. Humanity became corrupt. In order to return to natural innocence humans must return to nature.
“The first man who after enclosing a piece of land said that this is mine and found people simple enough to believe him was the founder of civil society”
“It was iron and corn which first civilized man and ruined humanity”
-Discourse on origin of inequality (1754)
Rousseau’s idea was that primitive African and native American society were best for human. Modern civilization is not a boon but a curse for humans.
His ideas started French revolution which marked a new era in the history of world. It was the hope that the oppressed class can stand up and can fight against the oppressor. His ideas shaped Marxism which led to Russian revolution and Chinese revolution. Starting a beginning of change and era of revolution.
Right will prevail over wrong that’s the point Rousseau made.