DEISTIC PHILOSOPHY OF
JEAN ROUSSEAU (1712-1778)
The following is a quote from Jean Rousseau
(1712-1778) who was a French deistic philosopher and author of great
fame through his contribution to the social and religious thinking to be
practiced by humankind in Europe in his times.
"Luxury either comes of
makes them necessary.
Luxury corrupts at once rich and poor,
Luxury corrupts the rich by possession;
Luxury corrupts the poor by covetousness;
Luxury sells the country to softness and vanity.
Luxury takes away from the State all its citizens,
to make them slaves one to another, and
to make one and all slaves to public opinion."
Deistic means one who believes in deism.
Deism means: a rationalistic movement
of the 17th and 18th centuries whose adherents generally subscribed to a natural
religion based on human reason and morality, on the belief in one God who after
creating the world and the laws governing it refrained from interfering with the
operation of those laws, and on the rejection of every kind of supernatural
intervention in human affairs
Rousseau reacted against the artificiality and corruption of the social
customs and institutions of the time. He was a keen thinker, and was equipped
with the weapons of the philosophical century and with an inspiring eloquence.
To these qualities were added a pronounced egotism, self-seeking, and an
arrogance that led to bitter antagonism against his revolutionary views and
sensitive personality, the reaction against which resulted in a growing
Error and prejudice in the name of philosophy, according to him,
had stifled reason and nature, and culture, as he found it, had corrupted
In Emile he presents the ideal citizen and the means of training the
child for the State in accordance with nature, even to a sense of God. This
"nature gospel" of education, as Goethe called it, was the inspiration,
beginning with Pestalozzi, of world-wide pedagogical methods.
The most admirable
part in this is the creed of the vicar of Savoy, in which, in happy phrase,
Rousseau shows a true, natural susceptibility to religion and to God, whose
omnipotence and greatness are published anew every day.
The Social Contract, on
the text that all men are born free and equal, regards the State as a contract
in which individuals surrender none of their natural rights, but rather agree
for the protection of them.
Most remarkable in this projected republic was the
provision to banish aliens to the state religion and to punish dissenters with
The Social Contract became the text-book of the French Revolution, and
Rousseau's theories as protests bore fruit in the frenzied bloody orgies of the
Commune as well as in the rejuvenation of France and the history of the entire
(The above extracts on Jean Rousseau are from
Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Jean Rousseau)