Test Your Knowledge on Jean-Jacques Rousseau



9 Questions

What was the name of Rousseau's autobiographical work?

What was the subject of Rousseau's 1750 Discourse on the Arts and Sciences?

What was the name of Rousseau's novel that was important to the development of preromanticism and romanticism in fiction?

What was Rousseau's belief about the state of nature?

What was the name of Rousseau's last major political work, completed in 1772?

What was the name of Rousseau's lover, who was a seamstress and the sole support of her family?

What was the name of Rousseau's father, who was a watchmaker and a lover of music?

What was the reason for Rousseau's books being banned from France and Geneva?

What was Rousseau's belief about the best stage of human development?


Jean-Jacques Rousseau: Genevan Philosopher, Writer, and Composer

  • Rousseau was a philosopher, writer, and composer born in Geneva in 1712.

  • His political philosophy influenced the Age of Enlightenment and the French Revolution.

  • His books, including Discourse on Inequality and The Social Contract, are cornerstones of modern political and social thought.

  • His novel Julie, or the New Heloise was important to the development of preromanticism and romanticism in fiction.

  • His autobiographical works, Confessions and Reveries of the Solitary Walker, exemplified the "Age of Sensibility" and featured an increased focus on subjectivity and introspection.

  • Rousseau's family had voting rights in Geneva, a city-state governed "democratically" by its male voting "citizens".

  • However, the city was ruled by a small number of wealthy families that made up the "Council of Two Hundred".

  • Rousseau's father, Isaac, was a watchmaker and a lover of music who taught dance for a period.

  • Rousseau's mother, Suzanne, was from an upper-class family and was raised by her uncle, a Calvinist preacher.

  • Rousseau was apprenticed to a notary and then to an engraver at the age of 13.

  • He moved to Paris in 1742 to present a new system of musical notation to the Académie des Sciences, but it was rejected.

  • Rousseau became the lover of Thérèse Levasseur, a seamstress who was the sole support of her family, and they had children together.Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Life and Works

  • Rousseau's ideas were influenced by his conversations with Diderot, and he saw natural selection as an agent for improving the human species.

  • His 1750 Discourse on the Arts and Sciences won him fame, arguing that the arts and sciences were responsible for the moral degeneration of mankind.

  • Rousseau turned down a lifelong pension offered by King Louis XV for his opera Le devin du village, causing notoriety.

  • In 1754, Rousseau returned to Geneva, reconverted to Calvinism, and regained his official Genevan citizenship.

  • He completed his second major work, Discourse on the Origin and Basis of Inequality Among Men, in 1755.

  • He pursued an unconsummated romantic attachment with Sophie d'Houdetot, inspiring his epistolary novel, Julie, ou la nouvelle Héloïse.

  • Rousseau's break with the Encyclopédistes coincided with the composition of his three major works, in all of which he emphasized his fervent belief in a spiritual origin of man's soul and the universe.

  • Rousseau's 800-page novel of sentiment, Julie, ou la nouvelle Héloïse, was published in 1761 to immense success.

  • He published Du Contrat Social, Principes du droit politique in April 1762 and Emile, or On Education in May 1762.

  • Rousseau's choice of a Catholic vicar of humble peasant background as a spokesman for the defense of religion was a daring innovation for the time.

  • His books were banned from France and Geneva due to his religious indifferentism.

  • Rousseau lived in various places, including the Île de St.-Pierre, where he was informally assured he could move into this island house without fear of arrest, before accepting Hume's invitation to go to England.The Life and Philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau

  • Rousseau was a philosopher and writer born in Geneva in 1712.

  • He believed that social and cultural progress had led to the moral degradation of humanity.

  • Rousseau based his political philosophy on contract theory and his reading of Thomas Hobbes.

  • He believed that in the "state of nature," humans would have had "no moral relations with or determinate obligations to one another."

  • Rousseau believed that uncorrupted morals prevail in the "state of nature."

  • He had a falling out with fellow philosopher David Hume, who he believed was involved in a conspiracy against him.

  • Rousseau wrote the Confessions, a book he had written to defend his reputation against hostile gossip.

  • He completed his last major political work in 1772 with Considerations on the Government of Poland.

  • Rousseau died in 1778 after suffering a concussion and neurological damage from being knocked down by a Great Dane.

  • His remains were moved to the Panthéon in Paris in 1794.

  • Rousseau's influences included Montesquieu, François Fénelon, Michel de Montaigne, Seneca the Younger, Plato, and Plutarch.

  • He believed that humans living without central authority were not facing uncertain conditions in a state of mutual competition.

  • Rousseau believed that differences between individuals would have been of little significance in the original condition.Summary of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Philosophy

  • Rousseau believed that humans have two traits in common with other animals: amour de soi (self-preservation) and pitié (empathy for others).

  • He believed that humans have the unique ability to change their nature through free choice, instead of being confined to natural instincts.

  • According to Rousseau, the best stage of human development is the one associated with "savages," which is between the less-than-optimal extreme of brute animals and the extreme of decadent civilization.

  • Rousseau believed that the loss of freedom through the misapplication of perfectability led to society's dependence on each other and the invention of private property.

  • He believed that the resulting inequality was not a natural outcome but rather the product of human choice.

  • Rousseau's ideas of human development were highly interconnected with forms of mediation, or the processes that individual humans use to interact with themselves and others while using an alternate perspective or thought process.

  • Rousseau believed that political systems were products of the differing levels of inequality in their societies, and they would always end up with ever worse levels of inequality.

  • Rousseau believed that submission to the authority of the general will of the people as a whole guarantees individuals against being subordinated to the wills of others and also ensures that they obey themselves because they are, collectively, the authors of the law.

  • Rousseau's philosophy of education concerns itself with developing the pupil's character and moral sense.

  • He believed in the moral superiority of the patriarchal family on the antique Roman model.

  • Rousseau affirmed the necessity of religion and saw the presence of God in the creation as good, and separate from the harmful influence of society.

  • Rousseau was a moderately successful composer of music, who wrote seven operas as well as music in other forms, and contributed to music theory.


How much do you know about the life and philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau? Test your knowledge with this quiz! Explore the life of the Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer who influenced the Age of Enlightenment and the French Revolution. Learn about his political philosophy, his major works, and his views on human nature, education, and religion. This quiz will challenge your understanding of one of the most important thinkers in modern political and social thought.

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