A very famous philosopher. He was born in Geneva on June 28, 1712. His mother died in childbirth, and his father ran off and left him with 'relations'. He was home-schooled, mostly by his own efforts. He was employed by a notary, who fired him, and then by a coppersmith who treated him so badly that he ran away.
A few days later he met up with Roman Catholic priests, who turned him over to Madame de Warens at Annecy, who made a living helping converts to Catholicism. She sent him off to Turin to be baptized and to attend school. He there found a job working for a shopkeeper's wife, who took him as her lover while her husband was away. After the husband got back he took various odd jobs, before going back to Madame de Warens to become her lover. He spent eight years living with her, reading, studying and generally having a
Eventually Madame de Warens took up with a wigmaker, and Rousseau left. He made use of his musical training (those eight years--they were busy. Music was the tip of the iceburg) to invent a new form of musical notation, which was declared "neither useful nor original" by the academy of sciences.
He started copying music for a living, and also started up an affair with Therese Le Vasseur, an illiterate maid who bore him five children, all of whom Rousseau sent off to a foundling hospital. He had an opera (Les Muses galantes) which failed, and an operetta (Devin du village) which was a success.
So, now he starts with the philosophy (he's a philosopher, remember? He's also about 40 by now) and he wows the French with his views on social injustice, and where it came from.
In a State of Nature, there is no moral law, and an abundance of Stuff (sez Rousseau). And, he sez, we (humans) are compassionate, and will try to keep
others from suffering (remember where his kids are.) But at the same time, he thought humans were solitary creatures (He's living in the middle of Paris). So, humans are
happy in a state of nature... except that when there is a shortage of something (food) humans are smart enough to find innovative ways of getting more (where other animals would just fight for it). And once a human discovers a new way of preparing or raising food, they don't want to give it up. Soon humans are demanding luxuries, and eventually end up gathering in towns and then cities so that they can manage to live in the best of all possible circumstances. And when you have all this, you need private property, and this in turn leads to unequal amounts of property, and thus
social inequality. And for the rich to protect their private property, they form the Government. The government, he sez, is working against the poor, and thus it is immoral. He would rather have anarchy.
That's just one of his many interesting ideas. This stuff made him famous, being quite advanced for his time. But he didn't stop there. He wrote a book (Emile ou de l'education--It was about raising a child in accordance with a state of nature) that the French parliament deemed worth burning. They tried to arrest him for it, but he ran off to Neuchatel. He was then chased out of Neuchatel, and went to Berne. Which he was ordered to leave. So, next was England, where his friend David Hume offered him refuge. He accused Hume of conspiring to ruin his character (he was pretty much paranoid at this point). So he ran back to France, and eventually was even allowed back into Paris. All this took about eight years.
In Paris he worked on philosophy, botany and music. In 1778 he finally moved to Ermenonville, and quickly died of thrombosis on July 2.
He managed to back all this adventure and drama into just 66 years of life on earth.