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Rousseau, Jean-Jacques (1712–1788)

PHILOSOPHER and writer Jean-Jacques Rousseau was born in Geneva, Switzerland. His mother died soon after he was born, and Rousseau's relationships with women were always somewhat unusual. For years, he was involved with Madame de Warens, who acted alternately as a mother figure and as a lover. In 1741, Rousseau moved to Paris, France, where he met and later married Thérèse Levasseau, a servant girl of questionable intelligence. He deposited all five of their offspring on the steps of foundling homes. Despite his eccentric personal life, Rousseau was a major figure in 18th-century political thought, and he has continued to influence political theory through his major works: The Social Contract, Discourse on the Origin and Basis of Inequality among Men, Confessions, and Emile.

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