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Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778)

Author of On the Social Contract

824+ Works 23,237 Members 203 Reviews 38 Favorited

About the Author

Jean Jacques Rousseau was a Swiss philosopher and political theorist who lived much of his life in France. Many reference books describe him as French, but he generally added "Citizen of Geneva" whenever he signed his name. He presented his theory of education in Emile (1762), a novel, the first show more book to link the educational process to a scientific understanding of children; Rousseau is thus regarded as the precursor, if not the founder, of child psychology. "The greatest good is not authority, but liberty," he wrote, and in The Social Contract (1762) Rousseau moved from a study of the individual to an analysis of the relationship of the individual to the state: "The art of politics consists of making each citizen extremely dependent upon the polis in order to free him from dependence upon other citizens." This doctrine of sovereignty, the absolute supremacy of the state over its members, has led many to accuse Rousseau of opening the doors to despotism, collectivism, and totalitarianism. Others say that this is the opposite of Rousseau's intent, that the surrender of rights is only apparent, and that in the end individuals retain the rights that they appear to have given up. In effect, these Rousseau supporters say, the social contract is designed to secure or to restore to individuals in the state of civilization the equivalent of the rights they enjoyed in the state of nature. Rousseau was a passionate man who lived in passionate times, and he still stirs passion in those who write about him today. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: Maurice-Quentin La Tour (1704-1788)


Works by Jean-Jacques Rousseau

On the Social Contract (1762) — Author — 5,275 copies
The Confessions (1784) 3,068 copies
Emile: Or, On Education (1762) — Author — 1,839 copies
Reveries of the Solitary Walker (1782) 1,501 copies
Basic Political Writings (1987) 1,028 copies
The Social Contract and Discourses (1950) — Author — 873 copies
Julie, or, The New Héloise (1761) 444 copies
Britannica Great Books: Montesquieu and Rousseau (1748) — Contributor — 275 copies
Les confessions, Tome 1 (1973) 255 copies
Les Confessions, tome 2 (1921) 105 copies
Rousseau : Oeuvres complètes, tome 1 (1959) — Author — 53 copies
The Government of Poland (1985) 48 copies
The Works of Rousseau (1950) 43 copies
Political Writings (1971) 40 copies
Rousseau : Oeuvres complètes, tome 3 (1963) — Author — 34 copies
Keystone of Democracy (2005) 32 copies
The Confessions [abridged] (1938) 26 copies
Rousseau : Oeuvres complètes, tome 4 (1964) — Author — 26 copies
Rousseau (2018) 12 copies
Scritti politici (1970) 11 copies
Rousseau : Oeuvres complètes, tome 5 (1969) — Author — 9 copies
Bekännelser. Del 2 (2012) 9 copies
Bekännelser. Del 1 (2012) 9 copies
Obra Selectas (1901) 9 copies
Dictionnaire de musique (2007) 9 copies
Emile, extraits I (1938) 7 copies
دين الفطرة (2011) 6 copies
Rozpravy (1989) 5 copies
Lettere morali (1978) 5 copies
Opere (1972) 4 copies
Textos Filosóficos (2002) 4 copies
Du contrat social (2005) 4 copies
Rousseau - Os Pensadores (1764) 4 copies
Korrespondenzen (1992) 4 copies
Lettres philosophiques (1974) 4 copies
Rousseau I (1900) 4 copies
Rousseau II (1999) 4 copies
Ecrits sur la musique (1979) 3 copies
Pages choisies (1931) 3 copies
מאמרים (1992) 3 copies
Visările unui hoinar singuratic (2006) — Author — 3 copies
MORCEAUX CHOISES. (1924) 3 copies
Rousseau 2 copies
Bekenntnisse 2, 1732-1748 (1971) 2 copies
Bekenntnisse 3, 1748-1757 (1971) 2 copies
De solitaire wandelaar (2021) 2 copies
Basic crystallography (1998) 2 copies
Lettres morales (2002) 2 copies
Le philosophe amoureux (2004) 2 copies
Scritti autobiografici (1997) 2 copies
L'Etat de guerre (2000) 2 copies
Lettres à Malesherbes (2010) 2 copies
Discours (1968) 2 copies
Schriften - Band 2 (1978) 2 copies
Utopias 1 copy
Les dialogues (1991) 1 copy
La disuguaglianza (2020) 1 copy
Toplum Sözlesmesi (2016) 1 copy
Itiraflar (2016) 1 copy
O umowie społecznej (2002) 1 copy
Rêveries 1 copy
Discursos 1 copy
Oeuvres 1 copy
Itiraflar (2016) 1 copy
Confesiuni 1 copy
Bekenntnisse 1 copy
Les confessions t. 2 (1968) 1 copy
Bekjennelser Del 1 (2016) 1 copy
2: 1 copy
3: 1 copy
Breviario (1998) 1 copy
Mélanges 1 copy
Ausgewählte Texte. (1988) 1 copy
Obras 1 copy
İtiraflar (1963) 1 copy
Confessions, extraits (1957) 1 copy
Dopis d'Alembertovi (2008) 1 copy
Schriften II. (2000) 1 copy
Schriften I. (2001) 1 copy
Schriften 1 Schriften (1981) 1 copy
Rousseau I 1 copy
Emil vagy A nevelr (1957) 1 copy
Emile Extraits II (1938) 1 copy
Toplum Sözlesmesi (2020) 1 copy
Confesiuni 1 copy
Politiske skrifter (2009) 1 copy
Musique 1 copy
Escritos polémicos (1994) 1 copy
Emilio o de la educación — Author — 1 copy
Politique 1 copy
Mémoires 1 copy
Absence 1 copy

Associated Works

The European Philosophers from Descartes to Nietzsche (1960) — Contributor — 428 copies
Hymns of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1985) — Contributor — 265 copies
Western Philosophy: An Anthology (1996) — Author, some editions — 181 copies
The Utopia Reader (1999) — Contributor, some editions — 110 copies
The Norton Book of Friendship (1991) — Contributor — 92 copies


1001 (57) 18th century (561) anthology (201) autobiography (330) biography (161) classic (107) classics (211) education (177) Enlightenment (289) essay (75) essays (109) fairy tales (112) fiction (227) France (254) French (467) French literature (456) French philosophy (64) government (71) history (197) Jean-Jacques Rousseau (114) lesbian (54) literature (304) memoir (147) non-fiction (823) own (55) Penguin Classics (68) philosophy (3,348) political philosophy (410) political science (253) political theory (385) politics (690) read (66) Rousseau (439) short stories (54) social contract (70) sociology (114) theory (53) to-read (713) translation (67) unread (99)

Common Knowledge

Other names
ROUSSEAU, Jean-Jacques
Date of death
Burial location
Panthéon, Paris, France
Republic of Geneva
Country (for map)
Geneva, Republic of (Geneva, Switzerland)
Place of death
Ermenonville, France
Places of residence
Geneva, Republic of (birth ∙ now in Switzerland)
Paris, France
Montmorency, France
England, UK
Ermenonville, France (show all 8)
Turin, Duchy of Savoy
Lyon, France
privately educated
Hume, David (friend)
d'Epinay, Madame (friend)
Madame Dupin (salonniere)
Short biography
Rousseau was one of the great thinkers and influences on the Age of Enlightenment. But his work was not appreciated by the French authorities in his lifetime. After completing his Confessions in 1770, he began giving private readings of the book. But he was forced to stop this, and the work was only partially published in 1782, four years after his death. All his subsequent writings also appeared posthumously.



Mike's effort to read 1001 books in 1001 Books to read before you die (July 2012)


Volumes 3, 4, 5, 6. Also "Supplement a la Colection des Ouvres de J, J, Rousseau Tome Trentieme/Tome Sixieme" (1782) and "Seconde partie des Confessions de J. J. Rousseau Tome VII" (Neuchatel. Fauche-Borel 1740)
qcomptonbishop | Nov 17, 2023 |
Really just an astonishing memoir, and not at all what I was expecting. Instead of a dry, didactic, rationalist, Enlightenment-era reflection, this is a warts-and-all, somewhat unreliable, page-turner that includes several jaw-dropping revelations. He gave all five of his children away to a foundling hospital!! He shacked up with his mistress Therese (who was the daughter of his servant). He was involved in at least one menage a trois.

The Confessions does not include any discussion of Rousseau's philosophy, although through his gradual turn to misanthropy and his retreat to nature, he exemplifies a sort of proto-Romantic hero. Because his work was considered heretical by the Jesuits in France, he was forced into exile and spent several years running from one safe haven to another. The Confessions is the earliest memoir I have read that feels contemporary. Augustine's Confessions were written ultimately to make converts; Rousseau on the other hand, wants to tell the truth of his life.… (more)
jonbrammer | 29 other reviews | Jul 1, 2023 |
Book title and author: Confessions (1782) By Jean-Jacques Rousseau reviewed

“The Confessions Of Jean-Jacques Rousseau
By Jean Jacques Rousseau
(In 12 books)
Privately Printed for the Members of the Aldus Society
London, 1903

The Confessions is an autobiographical book by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. In modern times, it is often published with the title The Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau in order to distinguish it from Saint Augustine's Confessions. Covering the first fifty-three years of Rousseau's life, up to 1765, it was completed in 1769, but not published until 1782, four years after Rousseau's death, even though Rousseau did read excerpts of his manuscript publicly at various salons and other meeting places.
Rousseau's work is notable as one of the first major autobiographies. Prior to the Confessions, the two great autobiographies were Augustine's own Confessions and Saint Teresa's Life of Herself. However, both of these works focused on the religious experiences of their authors; the Confessions was one of the first autobiographies in which “an individual wrote of his own life mainly in terms of his worldly experiences and personal feelings. Rousseau recognized the unique nature of his work; it opens with the famous words: "I have resolved on an enterprise which has no precedent and which, once complete, will have no imitator. My purpose is to display to my kind a portrait in every way true to nature, and the man I shall portray will be myself." His example was soon followed: not long after publication, many other writers (such as Goethe, Wordsworth, Stendhal, De Quincey, Casanova and Alfieri) wrote their own autobiographies in a similar fashion.
The Confessions is noted for its detailed account of Rousseau's more humiliating and shameful moments. For instance, Rousseau recounts an incident when, while a servant, he covered up his theft of a ribbon by framing a young girl – who was working in the house – for the crime. In addition, Rousseau explains the manner in which he disposes of the five children he had with Thérèse Levasseur.
Pope Pius VII placed The Confessions on the list of prohibited books of the Roman Index of 1806. In France, it was also among the works which Etuenne Antoine, “bishop of Troyne, condemned in 1821 as godless and sacrilegious, and under canonical law, he prohibited the printing or selling the book within the territory of the diocese. U.S. Customs banned the book from entry in 1929, but revered the ban the following year.”

Why I picked this book up: this was the next book in the Banned Books Compendium: 32 Classic Forbidden Books that I won in April 2023. “Confessions was banned by U.S. Customs in 1929 as injurious to public morality. His philosophical works were also banned in the USSR in 1935.” and I wanted to know why. So far this is the 11th book and really, imo, I haven’t really liked many of them.

Thoughts: It starts as a child and this opened my eyes to what it would be like growing up where he did and comparing how blessed I have been through life. The difficulty of lacking, temptation, $, desire, theft/stealing and vices. It seemed to me he wanted to be seen for his intent and not so much for his actions. Later, more darker aspects in life are written that sickened me how he intended to adopt and raise a little girl to betray her innocence but he didn’t. He seemed to have some guilt but not regret.

Why I finished this read: overall, I did not appreciate this book. I’m not claiming to be perfect, and I understand he laid out this life, thoughts but I had no real desire to finish but I did so I can close the book. I will never read it again.

Stars rating: 1 of 5 because the first section I appreciated his self focus and development then it turned to things I do not appreciate and want gone.
… (more)
DrT | 29 other reviews | Jun 17, 2023 |



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½ 3.6

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