Jean-Jacques Rousseau (28 June 1712 – 2 July 1778) was a Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer of 18th-century Romanticism of French expression. His political philosophy influenced the French Revolution as well as the overall development of modern political, sociological and educational thought. Rousseau was a successful composer of music. He wrote seven operas as well as music in other forms, and he made contributions to music as a theorist. During the period of the French Revolution, Rousseau was the most popular of the philosophes among members of the Jacobin Club. Rousseau, a Freemason, was interred as a national hero in the Panthéon in Paris, in 1794, 16 years after his death. Upbringing
Rousseau was born in Geneva, which was at the time a city-state and a Protestant associate of the Swiss Confederacy. Since 1536, Geneva had been a Huguenot republic and the seat of Calvinism. Rousseau was proud that his family, of the moyen order (or middle-class), had voting rights in the city. Throughout his life, he described himself as a citizen of Geneva. In theory, Geneva was governed democratically by its male voting citizens, a minority of the population. In fact, the city was ruled by a secretive executive committee, called the "Little Council", which was made up of 25 members of its wealthiest families. In 1707, a patriot called Pierre Fatio protested at this situation, and the Little Council had him shot. Jean-Jacques Rousseau's father Isaac was not in the city at this time, but Jean-Jacques's grandfather supported Fatio and was penalized for it. Rousseau's father, Isaac Rousseau, was a watchmaker who, notwithstanding his artisan status, was well educated and a lover of music.
"A Genevan watchmaker," Rousseau wrote, "is a man who can be introduced anywhere; a Parisian watchmaker is only fit to talk about watches."Rousseau's mother, Suzanne Bernard Rousseau, the daughter of a Calvinist preacher, died of puerperal fever nine days after his birth. He and his older brother François were brought up by their father and a paternal aunt, also named Suzanne. When Rousseau was 10, his father, an avid hunter, got into a legal quarrel with a wealthy landowner on whose lands he had been caught trespassing. To avoid certain defeat in the courts, he moved away to Nyon in the territory of Bern, taking Rousseau's aunt Suzanne with him. He remarried, and from that point Jean-Jacques saw little of him. Virtually, all our information about Rousseau's youth has come from his posthumously published Confessions book. At age 13, Rousseau was apprenticed first to a notary and then to an engraver who beat him. At 15, he ran away from Geneva (on 14 March 1728) after returning to the city and finding the city gates locked due to the curfew. In adjoining Savoy he took shelter with a Roman Catholic priest, who introduced him to Françoise-Louise de Warens, age 29. She was a noblewoman of Protestant background who was separated from her husband. Independence
Finding himself on his own, since his father Italy and uncle had more or less disowned him; the teenage Rousseau supported himself for a time as a servant, secretary, and tutor, wandering in Italy. When Rousseau reached 20, De Warens took him as her lover, while intimate also with the steward of her house. The sexual aspect of their relationship (ménage à trois) confused Rousseau and made him uncomfortable, but he always considered De Warens the greatest love of his life. Rousseau had been an indifferent student, but during his 20s, which were marked by long bouts of hypochondria, he applied himself in earnest to the study of philosophy, mathematics, and music.
At 25, he came into a small inheritance from his mother and used a portion of it to repay De Warens for her financial support of him. At 27, he took a job as a tutor in Lyon. From 1743 to 1744, Rousseau had an honorable but ill-paying post as a secretary to the Comte de...