Rousseau was born in 1712 in Geneva. His father was a watchmaker and mother died while giving birth. At the age of 10, his father left Geneva leaving Rousseau in the case of a person.
For a long time he roamed as a vagabond and failed to make friends due to his egoism and bad manners. In the year 1749, he wrote thesis on contribution of Science and Arts.
In later years he went to England and came into contact of Burke and Hume. But, the friendships could not last long on account of his skeptical attitude.
2. Influences on Rousseau:
Firstly, Rousseau was greatly influenced by the Republican heritage of Geneva. As Watkin observes “As an obscure but enfranchised member of a sovereign community he had been brought up in the tradition of a society where active participation in politics was the right of all free men.
At a time when most intellectuals were willing to regard themselves as the loyal and obedient subjects of absolute monarchs, Rousseau was never able to accept the idea that men should be anything less than active and responsible members of a sovereign political community.”
Secondly, Rousseau’s family life convinced him of the bad social institutions. His experience at the hands of guardians convinced him of the evil in human nature. Much it, his thoughts were unnatural and human inventions.
3. Works of Rousseau:
1. Discourses on the Moral Effects of Arts and Sciences.
2. Discourses on the Origin of Inequality.
3. An Introduction to Political Economy.
4. The New Heloise
5. The Social Contract.
4. Methodology of Rousseau:
According to Maxey “Rousseau’s methodology is one of great thinking and he uses facts only to prove his philosophical assumptions”. Though Rousseau was greatly inspired by other thinkers but much of his thinking is original in content and spirit.
His ability to see contradictions of science and art in an age where these were hailed as the paramount virtue, eloquently testifies to it.
5. Different views on Rousseau:
1. According to C.L. Way per “Like Hobbes, Rousseau is an absolutist, but is more democratic than Locke”.
2. According to Jones “Rousseau’s concept of human nature is certainly similar to those of Plato and Aristotle”.
3. According to C.L. Way per “Rousseau has left moral influences on politics, education, religion and literature”.
4. According to Maxey “By combining the theory of social contract of Hobbes and Locke’s, Rousseau gives a theory that could be dubbed wrong on the basis of logic, but cannot be sidelined.”
5. According to M.J. Harmon “Rousseau’s contract is not a contract but a way to overcome contract. It is a gift of society to the individuals”.
6. According to McDonald “freedom was the main aim of Rousseau”.
7. According to Jones “Sovereignty of common will is a Utopia”.