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Jean-Jacques Rousseau | Biographie, Philosophie, Bücher & Fakten

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (* 28. Juni 1712 in Genf, Schweiz; * 2. Juli 1778 in Ermenonville, Frankreich), in der Schweiz geborener Philosoph, Schriftsteller und politischer Theoretiker, dessen Abhandlungen und Romane die Führer der Französischen Revolution und der Französischen Revolution inspirierten Romantische Generation.

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Rousseau war der am wenigsten akademische der modernen Philosophen und in vielerlei Hinsicht der einflussreichste. Sein Gedanke markierte das Ende des Zeitalters der Vernunft . Er trieb politisches und ethisches Denken in neue Kanäle. Seine Reformen revolutionierten den Geschmack, zuerst in der Musik, dann in den anderen Künsten. Er hatte einen tiefgreifenden Einfluss auf die Lebensweise der Menschen; er lehrte die Eltern, sich neu für ihre Kinder zu interessieren und sie anders zu erziehen; Er förderte eher den Ausdruck von Emotionen als höfliche Zurückhaltung in Freundschaft und Liebe. Er führte den Kult religiöser Gefühle unter Menschen ein, die religiöse Dogmen verworfen hatten . Er öffnete den Menschen die Augen für die Schönheiten der Natur und machte die Freiheit zu einem fast universellen Objekt Aspiration .

Ausbildungsjahre

Rousseaus Mutter starb bei der Geburt und er wurde von seinem Vater erzogen, der ihn lehrte zu glauben, dass die Stadt seiner Geburt eine Republik war, die so großartig war wie Sparta oder das alte Rom . Rousseau senior hatte ein ebenso ruhmreiches Bild von seiner eigenen Bedeutung; Nachdem er über seiner bescheidenen Station als Uhrmacher geheiratet hatte, geriet er in Schwierigkeiten mit den Zivilbehörden, indem er das Schwert schwang, das ihn seine Vorwürfe der Oberschicht zum Tragen veranlassten, und er musste gehenGenf , um eine Inhaftierung zu vermeiden. Rousseau, der Sohn, lebte dann sechs Jahre lang als arme Verwandte in der Familie seiner Mutter, bevormundet und gedemütigt, bis auch er im Alter von 16 Jahren aus Genf floh, um das Leben eines Abenteurers und eines römisch-katholischen Konvertiten zu führen die Königreiche Sardinien und Frankreich .

Rousseau hatte das Glück, in der Provinz Savoyen einen Wohltäter zu finden , denBaronin de Warens , die ihm Zuflucht in ihrem Haus gewährte und ihn als ihren Verwalter anstellte . Sie förderte seine Ausbildung auch so weit, dass der Junge, der als stammelnder Lehrling, der noch nie zur Schule gegangen war, vor ihrer Haustür angekommen war, sich zu einem Philosophen, einem Mann der Briefe und einem Musiker entwickelte.

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Frau de Warens, die den Abenteurer auf diese Weise in einen Philosophen verwandelte, war selbst eine Abenteurerin - eine zum Katholizismus konvertierte Schweizerin, die ihrem Ehemann sein Geld genommen hatte, bevor sie mit dem Sohn des Gärtners nach Savoyen floh, um sich als katholische Missionarin zu spezialisieren Bekehrung junger männlicher Protestanten . Ihre Moral beunruhigte Rousseau, selbst als er ihr Liebhaber wurde. Aber sie war eine Frau mit Geschmack, Intelligenz und Energie, die in Rousseau genau die Talente hervorbrachte, die nötig waren, um Paris zu erobern, als Voltaire radikale Ideen in Mode gebracht hatte.

Rousseau erreichte Paris mit 30 Jahren und hatte das Glück, einen anderen jungen Mann aus den Provinzen zu treffen, der in der Hauptstadt literarischen Ruhm suchte. Denis Diderot. The two soon became immensely successful as the centre of a group of intellectuals—or philosophes—who gathered round the great French Encyclopédie, of which Diderot was appointed editor. The Encyclopédie was an important organ of radical and anticlerical opinion, and its contributors were as much reforming and even iconoclastic pamphleteers as they were philosophers. Rousseau, the most original of them all in his thinking and the most forceful and eloquent in his style of writing, was soon also the most conspicuous. He wrote music as well as prose, and one of his operas, Le Devin du village (1752; “The Village Soothsayer”), attracted so much admiration from the king (Louis XV) and the court that he might have enjoyed an easy life as a fashionable composer, but something in his Calvinist blood rejected that type of worldly glory. Indeed, at the age of 37 Rousseau had what he called an “illumination” while walking to Vincennes to visit Diderot, who had been imprisoned there because of his irreligious writings. In the Confessions (1782–89), which he wrote late in life, Rousseau says that it came to him then in a “terrible flash” that modern progress had corrupted people instead of improving them. He went on to write his first important work, a prize essay for the Academy of Dijon entitled Discours sur les sciences et les arts (1750; A Discourse on the Sciences and the Arts), in which he argues that the history of human life on earth has been a history of decay.

That work is by no means Rousseau’s best piece of writing, but its central theme was to inform almost everything else he wrote. Throughout his life he kept returning to the thought that people are good by nature but have been corrupted by society and civilization. He did not mean to suggest that society and civilization are inherently bad but rather that both had taken a wrong direction and become more harmful as they became more sophisticated. That idea in itself was not unfamiliar in Rousseau’s time. Many Roman Catholic writers, for example, deplored the direction that European culture had taken since the Middle Ages. They shared the hostility toward progress that Rousseau had expressed. What they did not share was his belief that people are naturally good. It was, however, just that belief that Rousseau made the cornerstone of his argument.

Rousseau may well have received the inspiration for that belief from Mme de Warens; for although she had become a communicant of the Roman Catholic Church, she retained—and transmitted to Rousseau—much of the sentimental optimism about human purity that she had herself absorbed as a child from the mystical Protestant Pietists who were her teachers in the canton of Bern. At all events, the idea of human goodness, as Rousseau developed it, set him apart from both conservatives and radicals. Even so, for several years after the publication of his first Discourse, he remained a close collaborator in Diderot’s essentially progressive enterprise, the Encyclopédie, and an active contributor to its pages. His speciality there was music, and it was in this sphere that he first established his influence as a reformer.

Controversy with Rameau

The arrival of an Italian opera company in Paris in 1752 to perform works of opera buffa (comic opera) by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, Alessandro Scarlatti, Leonardo Vinci, and other such composers suddenly divided the French music-loving public into two excited camps, supporters of the new Italian opera and supporters of the traditional French opera. The philosophes of the EncyclopédieJean Le Rond d’Alembert, Diderot, and Paul-Henri Dietrich, baron d’Holbach among them—entered the fray as champions of Italian music, but Rousseau, who had arranged for the publication of Pergolesi’s music in Paris and who knew more about the subject than most Frenchmen after the months he had spent visiting the opera houses of Venice during his time as secretary to the French ambassador to the doge in 1743–44, emerged as the most-forceful and effective combatant. He was the only one to direct his fire squarely at the leading living exponent of French operatic music, Jean-Philippe Rameau.

Rousseau and Rameau must at that time have seemed unevenly matched in a controversy about music. Rameau, already in his 70th year, was not only a prolific and successful composer but was also, as the author of the celebrated Traité de l’harmonie (1722; Treatise on Harmony) and other technical works, Europe’s leading musicologist. Rousseau, by contrast, was 30 years younger, a newcomer to music, with no professional training and only one successful opera to his credit. His scheme for a new notation for music had been rejected by the Academy of Sciences, and most of his musical entries for Diderot’s Encyclopédie were as yet unpublished. Yet the dispute was not only musical but also philosophical, and Rameau was confronted with a more-formidable adversary than he had realized. Rousseau built his case for the superiority of Italian music over French on the principle that melody must have priority over harmony, whereas Rameau based his on the assertion that harmony must have priority over melody. By pleading for melody, Rousseau introduced what later came to be recognized as a characteristic idea of Romanticism, namely, that in art the free expression of the creative spirit is more important than strict adherence to formal rules and traditional procedures. By pleading for harmony, Rameau reaffirmed the first principle of French Classicism, namely, that conformity to rationally intelligible rules is a necessary condition of art, the aim of which is to impose order on the chaos of human experience.

In music, Rousseau was a liberator. He argued for freedom in music, and he pointed to the Italian composers as models to be followed. In doing so he had more success than Rameau; he changed people’s attitudes. Christoph Willibald Gluck, who succeeded Rameau as the most-important operatic composer in France, acknowledged his debt to Rousseau’s teaching, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart based the text for his one-act operetta Bastien und Bastienne (Bastien and Bastienne) on Rousseau’s Le Devin du village. European music had taken a new direction. But Rousseau himself composed no more operas. Despite the success of Le Devin du villageoder vielmehr wegen seines Erfolgs hatte Rousseau das Gefühl, dass er sich als Moralist, der beschlossen hatte, mit weltlichen Werten zu brechen, nicht erlauben konnte, weiter für das Theater zu arbeiten . Er beschloss, seine Energie fortan der Literatur und Philosophie zu widmen .