It may seem strange to say it but I am actually enjoying learning about philosophy. I quite liked Rousseau's views and how he rejected empiricism. Anyway here are my notes from the lecture.
Rousseau dramatically challenged the enlightenment. The empiricist opinion was that we move on through experience. Rousseau represents a break and challenged this.
He was born in 1712, this was a period of transition. He died just before the french revolution to which he was highly influential.
He was part of French intellectuals who created an encyclopedia. Rousseau contributed towards it. An encyclopedia that would become a resource for the future. This was against what Francis Bacon had said, that we should challenge what we know and not to become certain of it.
In 1750 Rousseau was a minor character compared the Newton, Einstein and Bacon. There was a competition to write an essay with the title, 'Had the progress of the arts and sciences had a beneficial effect on morality?' Rousseau went against what other philosophers wrote and said no.
At the beginning of the romantic movement the view was that individuals can create their own destiny and creativity. The character Prometheus was creative and a rebellion.
Rousseau wrote the book 'Discourse on the origin of foundation of inequality among men.' He said that humans are naturally good but since the civilization our society has corrupted. He believed that society is eroding our morality and distorting it. He uses an idea of a statue to represent this. A statue over time gets worn down and unrecognizable this is a symbol of us as well become less civilized.
He looked at the 'nobel savage'. Somebody who lives outside of society and close to nature. He was interested by tribes, and that savages didn't need society.
Rousseau was against what we have previously learnt about the Clockwork Universe and the enlightenment. The more we progress in society the humanity we have. Voltaire, a french enlightenment writer called his book 'the book against human nature.'
The social contract. 'Man is born free, and is everywhere in chains'
Rouseau's main problem with inequality in society is property. Hobbes thought we needed the Leviathan to preserve society. Hobbes thought there was a perception problem and focused on the war and argued about self defense. Rousseau said we need to look further back than war.
Locke thought that inherently we are good but we need a government to protect our property. Rosseau said that the person who established property established civil society.
Rousseau disagreed with Hume and argued we must only pay attention to nature for answers.
Rousseau believed that we respond to things through desire, we are not rational. We are sensitive and are guided by our feelings - This was a key idea in the romanticism period. At the time people rejected this as it was going back on the enlightenment and not progressing forward.
The General Will.
Hobbes and Locke put a line between public and private. Rousseau wrote the General Will to change this.
It allows people to be more free than Locke had anticipated. The General Will focuses on the idea that what we all agree on and all of our opinions put together is the law. Therefore we wouldn't break the law because it is something we have all agreed on. We can't have mp's and student unions for example.
The problem with this is that the majority decide. If you do not agree then you can be forced to agree.
To sum Rousseau's view:
Civilization was corrupting
The way forward was the General Will.
The French Revolution
Rousseau influenced the french revolution. The 'New age' of ideas. The declaration of the rights of man, this was Rousseau's view. 'Men are born free and remain free in equal rights' This was just like Rousseau's quote.
People say that Rousseau created this terror and irrational violence that took place during the french movement.