Age of Enlightenment Rousseau and Montesquieu

Essay by justingodUniversity, Bachelor'sA, February 2004

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Rousseau and Montesquieu

The 18th century, the Age of Enlightenment, most assuredly produced many revolutionary changes throughout Europe. This Age of Enlightenment intensely emphasized human intelligence and analytical reason. This brought forth an innate desire for the progression of man. The changes which were most abundant during this century can be seen predominantly in Europe's society, economy, as well as their political systems. Two theorists who were especially essential to the Age of Enlightenment were Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Montesquieu who was originally known as Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de la Brede et de. The more influential of these two, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, philosophized and wrote on nearly everything from the corruption of humanity to education to even music. Montesquieu philosophized and satirized and established a remarkable influence on politics, society, literature, and ecclesiastical matters. Both of these philosophes had a colossal effect on their society, economy, and political systems which can be seen even today.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was probably one of the most accomplished writers of the Age of Enlightenment, but his writing gives only a glimpse of his accomplishments. Botanist, lucrative musician, theorist of society and politics, and philosopher were just a few of the faces Jean-Jacques Rousseau wore throughout his life. Rousseau exploration of man's timeless corruption is best revealed in his Discourse on the Origin and Foundation of Inequality Among Mankind where Rousseau supported his view that social and scientific institutions corrupted humankind. Being years ahead of his time, Rousseau drew much opposition for his radical views that natural or primitive man was ethically superior to modern man.

In 1762, Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote The Social Contract, a political dissertation which argued for civil liberty on all levels, criticized divine right, and eventually asserted itself as the fundamental text for the French Revolution. It is clear that...