Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Philosopher

Born: 28 June 1712
Died: 2 July 1778
Birthplace: Geneva, Switzerland
Best known as: Author of The Social Contract
Mostly self-educated in Switzerland, Jean-Jacques Rousseau ended up in Paris, France in the 1740s and became acquainted with Voltaire and Denis Diderot. Rousseau published Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality in 1754, arguing that the natural, moral state of man had been corrupted by society. In 1762 he published The Social Contract (with it's famous opening line, "Man is born free; and everywhere he is in chains."), and Emile, a novel that illustrated his ideas in education. After settling in England in 1766, Rousseau wrote his Confessions, now considered to be a forerunner of the modern autobiography. He returned to France in 1770 and eventually died in Ermenonville, plagued by fears of persecution. Rousseau's political philosophy had a profound influence on the evolution of the liberal democratic state in Europe and America during the 18th century.

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