Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778) is one of the most misunderstood and reviled philosophers of the 18th century. Rousseau was born in Geneva in 1712 to a family of middle-class connections, which was forced to flee Geneva when Rousseau was ten years old. After many years of an itinerant existence Rousseau fled to England to escape persecution. He was a hypochondriac and paranoiac, exacerbated by the fact that he was often ill and had many enemies. In 1762 with the publication of Émile and The Social Contract Rousseau was denounced both in France and Geneva for his unorthodox and heretical views on religion, despite describing himself as the only man in France who believed in God. From then on he lived a somewhat nomadic existence. In exile in England, accompanied by his beloved dog Sultan, Rousseau felt extremely vulnerable because of his dependency on David Hume. Rousseau’s views on a wide range of issues, including international relations, may be attributed to his morbid fear of dependency and his attachment to his dog Sultan astonished his acquaintances. David Hume commented that Rousseau’s affection for that creature is ‘above all expression and conception’.1After Rousseau publicly vilified Hume, Hume described him as a ‘pernicious and dangerous’ man who ‘lies like the devil’.2He died on 2 July 1778 at Ermenonville. During the French Revolution, hailed as a towering inspiration, his body was exhumed and transferred to the Panthéon.
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- The Dangers of Dependence: Sultan’s Conversation with His Master Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778)
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