Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Masonic Biographies

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Born: Tuesday, 28 June 1712
Died: Thursday, 02 July 1778


Jean Jacques Rousseau was a philosopher, political scientist, and masonic idealist whose work inspired the French Revolution.


Jean Jacques Rousseau is known today as one of the most influential philosophers of the enlightenment. His famous work, The Social Contract, dramatically influenced political science, perhaps more so than any other work of political philosophy. In this work, he laid out the theory of the social contract: a government should be formed and exist at the consent of the governed, for the benefit of all.

Born in 1712 in Geneva, Rousseau initially apprenticed to be a notary, before abandoning his life in Geneva. From there, he wandered from place to place, eventually settling down to work as a tutor and writer. It is uncertain when exactly Rousseau encountered Freemasonry; however, two points - the Masonic influence evident in his work and his philosophical impact on the Craft - remain undeniable. His belief in individual free will, within a unified group will, reflect the character of Masonry.

His ideas, the social contract and the collective will imposed for the benefit of all, would inspire the French Revolution. Moreover, several lodges were named in honor of Rousseau and his ideals. He was a famous and renowned philosopher throughout Europe; at one point Frederick the Great and Voltaire offered and gave him support to continue writing. Though he did not live to see the French Revolution which he helped inspire, upon his death in 1778 he had already radically changed the course of European political thoughts.

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