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By Leibniz Gottfried Wilhelm

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I knew’, wrote Rousseau, ‘that this man would cause a revolution that I should find again in my own country the tore, the airs, and the manners which drove me from Paris’ (I: 396). This, at any rate, is what he wrote in the Confessions. The view was different at the time, or so it seems. His hostility towards Voltaire was less pronounced, non-existent even, in the mid-1750s. ) remark about the Discourse on Inequality: 10 The political philosophy of Rousseau Never has so much intelligence been deployed in an effort to make us beasts.

On 2 June 1778, Rousseau died in Ermenonville. He was laid to rest on the Isle de Peupliers. Rousseau lived and died, but death did not end it. It was Rousseau’s fate in life as well as in death to be an instrument of political expediency. In the early 1770s, the French government sought to utilise Rousseau to kill two diplomatic birds with one philosopher’s stone. Anxious to maintain the balance of power in Europe, the French government was alarmed by Russia’s and Prussia’s influence over Poland.

In the letter Rousseau went on to say that progress had increased man’s corruption (319), yet he remained cordial and respectful. The contemptuous feud between the two great men was of a later date. So why did Rousseau go back to France? We might get part of the answer in a letter he wrote to Jean Jallabert – a noted scholar, physician and supporter of Rousseau against his (many) critics in Geneva. The reason is simple; Rousseau could not get a job in Geneva. The rustic paradise did not provide job opportunities for a note-copier; ‘I have absolutely not a Sou to live on’ (Correspondance Complète III: 336).

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Reflections on the Souls of Beasts by Leibniz Gottfried Wilhelm


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