10 Major Accomplishments of Jean Jacques Rousseau

10 Major Accomplishments of Jean Jacques Rousseau


Jean Jacques Rousseau was one of the greatest philosophers, pedagogues, linguists and politicians in history. His contributions to politics, law, sociology and education in Europe during the XVIII century make him one of the most important figures of his time.

1. He Learned How To Read And Write By Himself.

Despite his difficult childhood and being an orphan child and having been abandoned by his father and left in his uncle’s care, Jean Jacques Rousseau learned to read by himself, although with certain difficulties, because he didn’t live in an encouraging environment. That didn’t stop him, though, and he also learned how to write, and once he had acquired those skills, he became an avid reader.

2. Rousseau Was An Autodidact.

If learning how to read and write on his own wasn’t proof enough, Jean Jacques taught himself through contemplation and love of nature, that were key points in his future works on education theory.

3. His Ideas Made Him Infamous In The Eyes Of The Catholic Church.

He was a Protestant, which was not all that rare at the time, but his open and eloquent judgment of what he perceived were the mistakes of society made him persona non grata.

4. His Ideas Made Him Infamous Among His Friends, As Well.

After publishing his books “Emile, or On Education” and “The Social Contract”, many of his friends rejected him for his radical ideas and his defiant attitude towards Society. Not only his friends shunned him, but he was exiled from France, as well.

5. He Had Five Children Who Ended Up In The Hospice.

Among his many lovers, he lived with a woman named Therese Levasseur, an illiterate dressmaker with whom he had five children. All of them ended up in the hospice, because he claimed that he didn’t have the means to raise a family, but in reality, he did it so the children didn’t have to grow in contact with Therese’s family, whom he despised for their lack of education.

6. “Emile, Or On Education” Was a Revolutionary Work.

This book is the first treatise on education philosophy in the Western world, and it is considered the predecessor of many modern teaching methods, from Montessori to the Constructivist theory.

7. “The Social Contract” Was a Heavy Influence On The French Revolution.

It is a work of political philosophy and is primarily about freedom and equality of men under a social contract instituted by the state. The ideas expressed by Jean Jacques Rousseau in this book were a pivotal point in the development of Republican ideas and the growth of nationalism in France.

8. He Was Friends With Many Of The Great Thinkers And Philosophers Of France.

Before being exiled from France, he befriended figures such as Voltaire, Diderot, Marivaux and Rameau, who were instrumental in his development of the ideas contained in “The Social Contract”.

9. He Lived With The Same Woman For More Than 20 Years Without Getting Married.

He met Therese Levasseur in 1745, but it wasn’t until 1768 that he married her. This caused problems not only for him, because he was seen as a libertine, but also for Therese, who saw a decrease in his work as a seamstress because she was “living in sin”. They finally married when he returned to France under a fake name.

10. He Refused a Pension Offered By King Louis XV.

During his teenage years, Jean Jacques came in contact with a woman named Françoise-Louise de Warens who became his benefactor. She was fond of music and helped with his education and musical formation. As a result, Rousseau was able to write an opera named “Le devin du village”, which pleased the King and he, in turn, offered Jean Jacques a pension. Rousseau refused this honor, and became famous for being “the man who refused the king”.