What were Rousseau's talents?

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larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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It would be difficult to designate any particular "talents" which Rousseau possessed, other than those of a great thinker and philosopher. He was by nature very suspicious to the point of being paranoid; and believed his friends were plotting against him. He abandoned his family to live with a common law wife.

As a thinker, he was without equal. It was Rousseau who stated that reason and civilization were destructive forces, not advances. He believed that human beings were fundamentally good; but all this was lost with the advent of civilization. It was he who developed the concept of the "noble savage."

He also advocated something he called the "general will," a concept that he did not clearly define.

Two famous statements by Rousseau define his philosophy: (1

Everything is good as it comes from the hands of the Author of virtue; but everything degenerates in the hands of man.

Also: "men are born free; yet everywhere they are in chains."

Rousseau's writings were influential in the French Revolution. Sadly, many dictators used his arguments about the "general will" to justify their rule, claiming that they ruled by the general will.



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