Critical Examination of Philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Compiled by Lewis LoflinTweet
The socialist mystic Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712 - 1778) along with the anti-Semitic Voltaire are often credited for the bloody French Revolution. This secular revolution would sanction open state-sanctioned murder of "enemies of the people."
These two pivotal figures of the Enlightenment stood at opposite extremes. Voltaire was the atypical secular Humanist types that saw reason free of any reference to past traditions or religion would produce a secular "salvation" here and not some mythical future life.
Rousseau on the other end rejected dry and unemotional reason instead for feelings. He took a "romantic" view of existence in harmony with nature combined with a mob democracy.
The modern Humanist movements in general are more a religion taking Voltaire's hostile atheism and elitism towards traditional values and Christianity, and combining this with Rousseau's "general will" and mystical socialist outlook of human nature. Here I'll concern myself with Rousseau. For Voltaire see The Religion of Voltaire.
According to www.infed.org on Rousseau,
His novel Emile was the most significant book on education after Plato's Republic, and his other work(s) had a profound impact on political theory and practice, romanticism...Why should those concerned with education study Rousseau? He had an unusual childhood with no formal education. He was a poor teacher. Apparently unable to bring up his own children, he committed them to orphanages soon after birth. At times he found living among people difficult, preferring the solitary life. What can such a man offer educators? ...his thinking has influenced subsequent generations of educational thinkers - and permeates the practice of informal educators. (Wokler 1995: 1).
Yes his "thinking" led to the French Revolution and secular mass murder, to Communism, to the modern educational failure based on his idea that knowledge is worthless and "feelings" are everything. In education he would influence socialist John Dewey. Just how did a man that knew nothing about education come to dominate it today? Because his mystical views are more emotionally satisfying than reason alone.
"Rousseau's ideas about education have profoundly influenced modern educational theory. He minimizes the importance of book learning, and recommends that a child's emotions should be educated before his reason. He placed a special emphasis on learning by experience."
Liberal racists believe minority children are incapable of learning book knowledge such as math, science, and English, so it's better to promote "self esteem" instead of allowing these children a real education.
Quoting the Epoch Times February 22, 2010 article The Environmental Attack on Market Liberalism
The argument that liberal civilization is fundamentally flawed and necessarily brings about multiple evils is almost as old as liberalism itself. The first prominent advocate of this position was 18th century philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, whose musings have recently been revived by some in the environmental movement who see an opportunity, during the current "climate change" panic, to overturn centuries of progress toward liberalism and markets...
Jean-Jacques Rousseau was born on June 28, 1712 in Geneva, Switzerland. His mother died shortly after his birth. When Rousseau was 10 his father fled from Geneva to avoid imprisonment for a minor offense, leaving young Jean-Jacques to be raised by an aunt and uncle. Rousseau left Geneva at 16, wandering from place to place, finally moving to Paris in 1742. He earned his living at an assortment of odd jobs.
Rousseau's distorted insight can be found in almost every facet of modern philosophy today. Called "complicated and ambiguous," Rousseau's general philosophy played on emotion, often at odds with the dry humanist reason of the rest of the French Enlightenment.
Rousseau contends that man is essentially good, modern civilization is evil, and primitivism (where man is a 'noble savage') is best for happiness. He believed "that good people are made unhappy and corrupted by their experiences in society. He viewed society as 'artificial' and 'corrupt' and that the furthering of society results in the continuing unhappiness of man." He was the forefather of the irrational New Age environmental movement today.
Rousseau's essay, "Discourse on the Arts and Sciences" (1750) made the irrational argument that the advancement science/art had a negative impact on mankind. That knowledge had made governments more powerful thus destroying individual liberty. (Be careful how he defines individual liberty.) He concluded "that material progress had actually undermined the possibility of sincere friendship, replacing it with jealousy, fear and suspicion." What this reflects was his own life in general.
Perhaps Rousseau's most important work is "The Social Contract" that describes the relationship of man with society. In the "state of nature, man is prone to be in frequent competition with his fellow men. Because he can be more successful facing threats by joining with other men, he has the impetus to do so. He joins together with his fellow men to form the collective human presence known as "society." "The Social Contract" is the 'compact' agreed to among men that sets the conditions for membership in society.
To quote, "One of the primary principles of Rousseau's political philosophy is that politics and morality should not be separated. When a state fails to act in a moral fashion, it ceases to function in the proper manner and ceases to exert genuine authority over the individual. The second important principle is freedom, which the state is created to preserve."
Other ref. Some extracts from Wikipedia, text books, etc.
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- The French Deists: J. J. Rousseau
- Romanticism, Rousseau, and Primitivism
- Rousseau: An Interesting Madman
- Rousseau and the Revolt Against Reason
- Information on John Locke (Unitarian)
- John Locke on reason and faith.