Jean-Jacques Rousseau (28th June 1712 to 2nd July 1778) was a philosopher, writer, and composer from Geneva. His political ideology affected the Enlightenment's spread throughout Europe, as well as components of the French Revolution and the creation of contemporary political, economic & educational thought. Rousseau Discourse on Inequality and The Social Contract are current political and social theory foundations. During the French Enlightenment, Jean Jacques Rousseau was one of the most prominent philosophers. He never had formal education but was educated informally by his father. This incident had an impact on his philosophy.
Rousseau's religious perspective
Rousseau's religious perspective is simply secularised Christianity. Religion, according to Rousseau, can be split into two categories:
Man's religion is informal and disorganized, centered on morals and God worship. Rousseau's example is the Christianity of the Gospels.
The religion of the citizen is referred to as "civil religion". It is referred to as a single country's religion. A religion of this type is structured and hierarchical, with codified dogmas. It instills patriotism, obedience to the state, and martial qualities. Religions of ancient peoples, such as the Romans, fit under this category.
Rousseau adds the third religion to this list. It is ordered and hierarchical, with precise dogmas, unlike man's religion. In contrast to civic religion, it is independent of the state in the sense that it is global and has its agenda. It may encourage patriotism, but only to a limited extent because it is the religion of many nations rather than just one. A religion of this type competes with the state for the allegiance of citizens, resulting in internal discord. Rousseau's favorite example of this type of religion is Catholicism.
Rousseau's Compromise and the General Will:
Tolerance should be provided to all religions that will do the same for others. Rousseau believed in religious tolerance to some level; at the very least, he feels that uniformity is no longer possible in the modern world. Religion, in this sense, becomes a matter of private conscience.
Rousseau's view on Morality
Morality becomes feasible after people develop consciousness of themselves as social creatures, and this is dependent on the additional faculty of conscience. Human sympathy is a moral attitude that can be found in the most primitive forms of human existence. Genuine morality, on the other hand, is the application of logic to human affairs and behavior. This necessitates the mental faculty, conscience, which is the source of real moral motivation. In a quasi-aesthetic way, conscience drives us to adore justice and morality. Humans are capable of deceiving themselves about their moral traits. For example, theatregoers appreciate the elicitation of their innate sympathy by a tragic scene on stage; then, assured of their inherent goodness, they go on to enjoy the rest of the show.
During the Reign of Terror, Robespierre and Saint-Just saw themselves as committed egalitarian republicans obligated to eliminate superfluities and corruption; in this, they were most notably inspired by Rousseau. Individual shortcomings, according to Robespierre, were remedied by maintaining the 'common good', which he saw as the collective will of the people; this conception was borrowed from Rousseau's General Will. Rousseau also led the revolutionaries to establish Deism as the new official civic religion of France: ceremonial and symbolic occurrences of the Revolution's more radical phases evoked Rousseau and his main beliefs. Thus, a cantata based on Rousseau's democratic pantheistic deism was performed at the site of the demolished Bastille in August 1793 to commemorate the inauguration of the new republican constitution, which occurred shortly after the complete elimination of all forms of feudal privilege.
This link between Rousseau and the French Revolution (particularly the Terror) lasted for a century. According to François Furet, "for the whole nineteenth century, Rousseau was at the core of the interpretation of the Revolution for both its lovers and its opponents".
Contributions of Rousseau:
Rousseau's intellectual theories served as a foundation stone for the French Enlightenment, which culminated in today's matured forms of democracy that envision liberty and equality.
Rousseau's social contract theory
Rousseau believed that in their natural form, humans were unwarlike and underdeveloped in terms of thinking abilities, morality, and responsibility. However, when individuals consented to mutual protection to give up individual freedom of action and form rules and government, they gained a feeling of moral and civic obligation. Government must consequently rely on the consent of the governed, the volonte generale ("general will"), to sustain its basic moral nature. The more astute social-contract thinkers, such as Hobbes, recognized that their ideas of the social contract & the state of nature were unhistorical and could only be justified as hypotheses beneficial for the clarification of timeless political problems.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau was one of the 1st modern writers to severely criticize the institution of private property and is thus regarded as a forerunner of modern Socialism, Marxism, and Anarchism. He also questioned the premise that the majority's will is always accurate, claiming that the goal of government should be to provide freedom, equality, and justice for all citizens within the state, regardless of majority desire.
A social contract denotes a people's agreement on the norms and regulations that govern them.
Most social contract theories begin with the state of nature. It is an abstract concept that considers what human life might be like without a government or some type of structured society. The purpose of studying the state of nature, according to Rousseau, is threefold:
first, it is supposed to deliver an account of mankind's original primitive condition,
second, it helps identify the main characteristics of human nature in man's original state, and
third, it helps describe and evaluate the 'new state of nature, which is present-day society. Rather than emphasizing the historical aspect of the state of nature, Rousseau employs this concept as a mental game in which he imagines an ideal.
According to Rousseau, "man is naturally quiet and timid; at the least threat, his initial instinct is to retreat; he only fights by the force of habit and experience".It appears that early men "could not be either good or bad, virtuous or vicious" since they "had no moral relations or definite obligations". Man is a "pre-moral" and "innocent" being. He is primarily preoccupied with his happiness and well-being, meeting his own needs and ignoring "everything he did not think himself worthy to notice"; he is alone and self-sufficient. This emotion of self-love, known in amour de soi, may only be good or harmful by accident. Man has yet to discover the reason, knowing no rights and acting solely on instinct. Because he has never experienced love, attractiveness, intelligence, or cleverness are unimportant to him. As a result, aside from physical inequality, he has no understanding of inequality. Although Locke agreed with Rousseau that man is "born equal and free", he believed that natural man already has some basic rights, such as freedom and some drive to make moral decisions. "... that, because we are all equal and independent, no one should hurt another in his life, health, liberty, or belongings". While Locke is more optimistic than Rousseau, Hobbes is more pessimistic, portraying life in nature as "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short" and a war of "every man against every man". Though Rousseau admits that man is illogical, he claims that he is unaware of his passions, "honor, interest, prejudices, and vengeance", rendering natural law useless.
Finally, Rousseau is both a critic and a champion of social contract theory. Throughout his work, he believes that society has perverted humans, and he, above all, rejects Hobbes' concept of an ultimate Leviathan. Simultaneously, to create his own somewhat different Social Contract, which he sees as the only way to avoid corruption, he employs ideas from the social contract tradition that the people should give up sovereignty to authority to preserve their freedom; sovereignty lies within the whole, in this case with the general will.
Rousseau implies that he wishes to be interpreted in the framework of contractarianism simply by tilting his work le Contrat social. With his view of society and politics, he, therefore, moves from 'old' to 'new'. The system Rousseau envisions as the way to overcome corrupt society is both ambiguous and unchangeable. This is problematic since Rousseau fails to provide us with practical examples of how to execute his Social Contract, making it unclear how it might function in practice. Furthermore, it appears strange that it cannot be modified, given that he appears to recognize that humanity may evolve. On the other hand, it is crucial not to take him too literally; after all, his strategy is to establish concrete and universal rules from generalizations of the human situation, based on political 'right' rather than facts.