Jean-Jaques Rousseau remains an influential figure not only for his writing, but as an interesting individual.
Interestingly, Rousseau seems to be just as interested in himself as anyone else. This seemingly contradicts with his idea of “amour propre”, or self love. Some may ask why Rousseau believes that he can spout ideas freely why contradicting himself, as he does it quite often. Rousseau had five children put in an orphanage, then later wrote a book on how to take care of and educate children. However, I believe that Rousseau is not a hypocrite; he views himself as a reflection of the human species and diagnoses it’s ills based on his own problems.
As the dubbed “Father of Romanticism”, much of his inspiration relies on innate emotional reasoning. Part of the strength in Discourse on Inequality is the feeling of nostalgia he is able to create for the past despite using little evidence to prove how good or bad it was. Rousseau’s knowledge relies not on facts and data, but on a sense of “knowing” that isn’t the least bit quantifiable. Rousseau sees with his heart, favoring what is moral over what is “progress” to the aristocracy of his time. He forms his opinions on his state because people seem to lack this sense of reasoning, favoring solid facts over what we should know is right. He looks inward to address society, and if he finds problems within himself, chances are that other people face similar ones.
Rousseau may seem self indulgent at times, writing autobiographies and such, but this doesn’t disprove his ideas– in a way, it gives them credibility. Rousseau doesn’t stand from afar telling the world that they have problems to fix. He recognizes that he himself is a part of society; a reflection of it’s ills, and a unique voice to help fix them.