Jean-Jacques Rousseau (28 June 1712- 2 July 1778) is considered to be one of the most prominent Genevan philosophers, writers and composers of the eighteenth century. He is well known for his political ideology that had a huge impact on the French Revolution. Moreover, he had active life position and his own scientific point of view on the sociological, educational and political issues (Farrell).
It is important to note that Rousseau was a successful composer of music. He wrote seven operas and a huge amount of music in different forms. Moreover, he had made a significant contribution to the development of music as a theorist. Rousseau was one of the most prominent philosophers during the time of the French Revolution. However, he was the member of the Jacobin Club. It is important to underline that Rousseau was interred as a national hero sixteen years after his death. This event took place in the Pantheon in Paris in 1794.
The views of the prominent philosopher sometimes differ from the common ideas of the time. For Rousseau the hypothetical State of Nature was not a good idea to present at that time. Moreover, he criticized Hobbs conception of the governmental mechanism and natural rights of people in it (Zagorin).
There is a huge amount of work that Rousseau left for our generations to study and use in practice. The Social Contract is considered to be one of his best works pointing out the basic grounds for legitimate political activity in the boarders of the classical republicanism. This work was published in 1762 and became one of the most popular political works in the Western tradition. The work also pays attention to a number of ideas that were already mentioned in one of his previous political works Economie Politique (Discourse on Political Economy). This work begins with the lines concerning the freedom of man that is given from his birth. It is said that everything that surrounds us, limits our abilities (Marks).
The main idea of Rousseau concerning the state of nature is concentrated on the issue of the existence of the government that is ruled by primitive law with evident absence of morality. Moreover, people continue to develop from prehistoric times till present times. When the division of labor and property becomes a reality, the need for the control appears. Law is created and developed for these purposes of the new community.
Peoples rights become the priority for the government, and new institutions must be adopted in order to develop the idea of the legitimate interference and control over the civil rights and natural freedoms of all the members of the society. The idea of the social contract and cooperation of people in active civil society gives a number of essential benefits to all the members of society. Actually, they become able to protect their natural rights and develop the nature of the civil rights protected by governmental mechanism. People become collective authors of law. This is a direct way of the expression of individual and collective will and formation of the common rules that will be applicable to the entire society.
Rousseau presented the idea concerning the sovereignty or the power to make laws and the structures that could have this power and use it in a proper way. Thus, he insisted on the concentration of the legislative power in hands of ordinary people. The government in this model is consisted of the magistrates. Their main aim lies in the proclamation of the general will. However, the sovereign is considered to be the guarantee of the rule of law and is usually decided by the direct democracy (Simpson, 45).
Rousseau noticed the role of the creation of the republican governments could be represented by the city-state. According to this criterion, France could not be considered as the model of the city-state because of its big territory.
The sphere of the knowledge of Rousseau was spread even to the education and its basic principles and directions of development. His philosophy of education is connected with more than just the specific technique of presenting and studying information. He paid special attention to the character of pupils and their morality. The understanding of the main purposes and basis of the educational process gives better results. However, such kind of attention to personal skills, feelings, features of character highlights more individual way of studying implemented to every pupil. The main task of a tutor is to share all the information and skills that he got in his discipline. However, there is much more difficult task that is connected with the direct and long lasting support and assistance to a pupil in the conditions of real life. Here one might notice the role of the personal relationships between tutor and pupil. That kind of support makes pupils feel safe and secure. Moreover, when they trust their tutors and adults, they are more likely to share their views and ideas with them.
Rousseau was one of the first psychologists who noticed that children learn good and bad things better when experiencing the consequences of their acts. That is more effective way than physical punishment. This option gives children the opportunity to understand their actions and behavior better and to make their own conclusions about proper way of behavior. Physical punishment makes children resort to aggression and express their emotions through the negative action in future. Moreover, Rousseau was one of the first to present a new concept of the development of children that is based on the main stages of child development. This concept is actually based on the conception of the evolution of culture.
The first stage of child development continues till twelve years. In this period children are ruled by emotions and feelings. That is how they understand the environment. The second stage lasts from 12 to 16 years. Here one may speak about logical thinking and usage of experience of adults (relatives, parents, neighbors). The third stage is from 16 till the adulthood. This stage can be presented by the individual thinking and experiencing the environment (Damrosch, 31).
Moreover, Rousseau insisted on the fact that child of a third stage of development needs to have the companion of the opposite sex. The relationships with the opposite sex representatives give broader understanding of the human nature. Most of his psychological ideas are rather popular and widely used by modern psychologist. However, some of his ideas are quite different if to compare them with present understanding of these issues. Rousseau believed in the ideas of the moral priority of the patriarchal family that is based on the Roman model.
He used to separate private relationships with the political relations. However, the matter of concern in this question lies in the subject of relations. The relations that appear in private sphere should be based on the subordination of woman. Thus, he considered this is a model of healthy relations, where the main role is played by a man. Rousseau did not appreciate the concepts of bourgeois nuclear family (Tuck).
This concept appreciates the relations in family, where mother is responsible for bringing up children and keeping house in the right order. However, Rousseau was afraid of men tyranny in case of such family relations.
His views were often criticized. However, his ideas are similar to the ones we use now in the relationships with each other. Moreover, after the French Revolution the wave of criticism became even stronger. This happened because of his modern views on the issues mentioned above. Main representatives of the governmental structures were afraid of his liberal ideas and saw potential danger of his project concerning the antique model of the relationships in a modern world. There was a threat of the tyranny in the conditions caused by the Revolution.
The majority of the government representatives and scientific society criticized his ideas of the collective will and his idea that all the individual rights could become the part of the social power. That is the way in which every individual could gain the opportunity to operate power and realize his rights and freedoms through different governmental and non-governmental structures. There is a need to underline that he had also a lot of opponents of his idea of the equality of people. His idea was breaking the usual understanding of life in the subordination and social hierarchy.
In 1919, Irving Babbitt who was the founder of the specific movement called New Humanism expressed his critique view on the sentimental humanitarianism of the philosopher. Rousseau was not considered a leading politician. He was not supporting statements that were declared by government and served to its favor. In his views there was a huge amount of radically new ideas that were probably not matching the reality of the post revolution period (Garrard).
The long lasting criticism got rather similar grounds. One of the most severe critics of the Rousseaus views and ideas Hanna Arendt was using him as an example of the philosophers who presented the notion of the sovereignty through the general will. She was sure that there was a strong desire of creation of the single will that is based on the positive attitude of society. However, she underlined that activity that would lead to this will should bring benefits to the society. There was a strong difference in the opinions presented after the French Revolution.
To sum up, Jean-Jacques Rousseau is well known for his political ideology that had a huge impact on the French Revolution. Moreover, he had an active life position and scientific point of view on the sociological, educational and political issues.
The views of the prominent philosopher sometimes differ from the common ideas of the time. Rousseau believed that the hypothetical state of nature was not a good idea to present at that time. His work The Social Contract describes the basic grounds for legitimate political activity in the classical republicanism. The idea of the social cooperation of people in active civil society gives essential benefits to all the members of society. Rousseau presented the idea of sovereignty or the power to make laws and the structures that could have used this power in a proper way. The sovereign guarantees the rule of law and is usually decided by the direct democracy.
His philosophy of education was based on more than just the specific technique of presenting and studying information. He paid much attention to the character of pupils and their morality. The understanding of the main purposes and basis of the educational process gives better results. Even though his views were often criticized, his ideas are similar to these concepts we use now in the relationships with each other.