A Study In What Shaped The Political

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A Study In What Shaped The Political Philosophy Of Essay, Research Paper A Study in what shaped the Political Philosophy of:Jean-Jacques Rousseau Jean-Jacques Rousseau is truly a challenging figure. From whatever point of view he is considered within, he must be accounted as one of the most outstanding personages of the eighteenth century. His influence, for good or ill, is visible in today’s literature, politics, education, and philosophy. In today’s society Rousseau is rapidly being seen as the most influential thinker of the eighteenth century (Einaudi,1967). Rousseau’s writings are the key to understanding the man and the philosopher, and in order to understand his writings you must first understand what influenced these writings. This is one of the greatest

challenges to reading and understanding Rousseau. This brilliant man’s writings published both before and after his death are more read now and considered more influential on today’s society than any other eighteenth century writer. These are the very things that mark him as brilliant and secures him a place in history. His writings and his life have also marked him as controversial. This fact did nothing to hurt his securing a future audience for his work. According to Broome (1963), Rousseau himself is responsible for much of the controversy, “because of the frequent ambiguity of his expressions, and also because of his deliberate cultivation of paradox.” Much of this cultivating was done early on in Rousseau’s literary career. His early career is also where Rousseau

laid the ground work for all of his philosophies and later works.There are those who believe that we are just now learning how to read Rousseau and his writings (Crocker,1968). This theory is not without merit, Rousseau himself stated twice that he could not be understood by his own time. The relevance of Rousseau’s writings to today’s society shows the depth of his thinking and understanding of society and government on the whole. Rousseau wrote philosophy and action plans and this contributes to some of the confusion surrounding his work. Some of his work was to be take as a way to reform the government that he lived under. For reasons that anyone (even a blind man) could see, these works must have been put forth as ideas concerning only those on a intellectual level and

not as what they where treasonist writings stating how he thought the current government could be reformed. Others of his work are purely philosophical in nature or are an attempts to expand on his early writings. It is clear from reading much of his earlier work that when Rousseau started out on his philosophical career he may not have known what he was doing, and certainly had no idea of all the complications and consequences that his work would cause. In order to understand Rousseau’s political philosophy and why he held to them I believe that we must look at his life and the events surrounding it. These hold, in my opinion, the key to his works. It was the life he lead and the progression of the events within it that will clarify his works. The events of his later life

brought back the events of his early life and forced him to deal with them. Rousseau had to do this from within the confines that he could understand and had fixed for himself. This is the reasoning for the changing that occurred in his later writings. According to M. Cranston (1991) Rousseau’s early literary life was normal and only later did Rousseau grow increasingly fretful, anxious and suspicious. All of this leading to Rousseau’s slow decent into what became full blown paranoia.I hold that it was Rousseau’s early life that shaped him from the start and never left him. In order to show this we will have to take a look at his early life and examine it for experiences that would shape a young mind into what Rousseau’s would and did become. Rousseau in his early