Jean-Jacques Rousseau

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About the book

A political philosopher hailing from Geneva, Rousseau was hugely influential in both the progress of the Enlightenment and also the French Revolution. His works are considered to be cornerstones in modern political, economic and educational thought. Who the Hell is Jean-Jacques Rousseau? looks at who Rousseau was as a person and how his life events and those he came into contact with influenced his ideas, before delving into his three key ideas.

Chapter 1: Rousseau's Life Story

Chapter 2: Influences on Rousseau's Thinking

Chapter 3: Man in the State of Nature: on Inequality
This chapter looks at Rousseau's Second Discourse, getting to grips with what he meant when he said that nature makes humans equal, but society makes them unequal. 

Chapter 4: The Social Contract and the General Will
Following on from his Second Discourse, Rousseau went on to offer a solution in the form of The Social Contact. This chapter explores the Contract and includes a discussion of his ideas on Power and Authority, a Just State, Positive and Negative Freedom and the Role of the Lawgiver.

Chapter 5: On Education
This chapter looks at Rousseau's treatise on education, Émile, written at the same time as The Social Contract. Here Rousseau suggests an education of the senses – letting your heart guide your faith, not your head.

About the author

Originally from France, Cressida gained her degree in French literature from the Université de Bretagne Occidentale in 2000 before completing a Masters degree in French literature and culture at King's College London in 2002. She has been a teacher of philosophy at a leading sixth form college in North London for 16 years, and has written college material and student guides for Philosophy and Religious Studies A level for Hodder Education. Cressida lives in Middlesex, England.