Compare/Contrast: John Locke vs. Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Essay by andyqutamiHigh School, 11th gradeA-, December 2009

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Throughout history there have been many people who possessed great influence over a nation or a time period. Once described as "a man of versatile mind, fitted for whatever you shall undertake" (Woolhouse 1), John Locke became one of the most well-known representatives in accordance to the Enlightenment Era. Equally as important and well-known in his region, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, described as "an impossible man whose books helped to make modern life possible" (Damrosch), lived quite a similar life to Locke, with the exception of education and contributions to society as a whole. In my opinion, John Locke possessed a greater influence over our lives as a result of his life long studies, never ending search for knowledge, and great persuasion skills.

Growing up, John Locke faced life without a motherly-figure. At birth, his mother was overwhelmed by the birth which resulted in her death. As a result of "his [John Locke] delicate health and the outbreak of civil war in 1642," ("John Locke Biography") Locke had to be educated at home until the age of fourteen, when he enrolled in Westminster School where he stayed for six years.

"[Rather than continuing his studies at Christ Church, Oxford - the college he attended] he changed to another study, medicine, and eventually received a license to practice" ("John Locke Biography"). Around the same time period, Locke had become acquainted with Robert Boyle - the distinguished scientist and one of the founders of the Royal Society - which led to his apprenticeship under Boyle's direction in order to study natural science.

Subsequently, Locke had written many greatly influencing pieces of literature such as Two Treatises of Government (1689) and An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690) which, along with all his other works, were never published until he was nearly sixty years old. These...