Skip to main content

Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Adam Smith

BRLSI 8th July 2015
Dr Chris Brooke, Historian, Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS), University of Cambridge
Notes by William Gaskell

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Rousseau was born in Geneva in 1712 and moved soon to Paris after his mother died when he was very young and was then educated with books. Eventually he was a secretary to the Ambassador of France in Venice in 1743-1744.
He was famously friends with the French philosopher Diderot. He then wrote and published a famous essay that became popular and started many further conversations by correspondence with people writing to him to respond to his essay and him then spending much of his time responding to those letters.
His idea stated in The Social Contract that values were the causes of people becoming very bad deriving from the Biblical theology of the Original Sin. After publishing this essay he was then forced in to exile in 1762 in England.

Adam Smith

Adam Smith was born in 1723 in Kircaldy, Scotland. He died in 1790 in Edinburgh, Scotland.
He wrote the seminal piece The Wealth of Nations in 1776 after a European tour as a tutor of an aristocrat.
Whilst in Paris he spoke to some “physiocrats”, philosophers who were the leading economic thinkers of the day.

Bernard Mandeville (1670-1733)

He came to England with William of Orange when William took the English throne as husband of Queen Mary.
Argued if people became too honest economy and society will collapse.
·         Economic theory: We Need Vice!

“The Selfish Hypothesis”

Smith and Rousseau argued that humans are more complicated than pure selfishness. Being human involves keeping up appearances so appearances are important in gaining benefits from economic endeavours.

Baron de Montesquieu (1689-1755)

Thought that monarchy and aristocracy are reliant on each other – I think perhaps because of the Palace of Versailles culture in the Kingdom of France at the time.
He wrote the subtitle of the Social Contract in Emile where he neglects to talk about principles of political right which is what Rousseau talks about in that essay.

Smith and Rousseau never actually met but we think that there works are both still relevant today because of the stereotypes outlined in their theories.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

LETTERS TO BEN: National Careers Service

Dear Ben,

Please find forwarded below the helpful advice I received from the National Careers Service RE compensation, which mirrored the advice Sue and Shirley offered after our meeting today. I hope I am communicating with you clearly enough that I want more money and more satisfaction from life, I want jobs to be easier and the girls to be easier as I currently feel frustrated. I don't feel I should have to do any more work to get it other than to raise this complaint at this point.
The thing I am most looking forward to is the rugby world cup in 2019 in Japan which I plan to go to with friends.
Regards,
William
Thanks. In reply to your email, the following information might be helpful to you.  
Your CV and cover letter look fine and you have some good work experience. Have you been keeping an eye on Hinkley point (near Bridgewater)? Here in the South West that is probably the biggest ongoing potential nuclear project at the moment and you could send a speculative CV to EDF energ…

Camden Crescent and Hedgemead Park

Here are my thoughts: Did you know that Camden Crescent, originally Camden Place and Upper Camden Place (which is now round the corner) was named after the Earl of Camden, Charles Pratt, who was Chancellor of the Exchequer so sponsored the scheme with his symbol on every door and crest of the exchequer on the decoration at the centre of the crescent? Charles Pratt was actually lord of Camden Place in Chislehurst in Kent. He was mates with William Pitt the Elder from Eton and Cambridge days. It was built 1788-1792 by John Eveleigh the architect.  One third of the 22 house crescent collapsed during a landslip which claimed 136 houses on the slopes of Lansdown Hill leading to the creation of Hedgemead Park below Camden Crescent. John Eveleigh was notoriously bankrupted in Bath, being called to the coffee shop in the Bath Chronicle by his creditors. Earl Camden was famous for supporting Fox’s Libel Act of 1792 which said that libel should be tried as murder with a jury regarding the poin…

Notes from Energy & Utility Forum 2017

1.Robert Symons, CEO of Western Power Distribution said: “Energy demand could rise by 100% by 2030. Smart grids will be needed to manage electric vehicle charging so that the usage does not exceed the supply capacity at any time during the day.”
2.Spoke to Harry Vickers, Business Development Manager of Camborne Energy Storage, Camborne Capital at the Energy and Utility Forum in London on October 23rd 2017. He told me his company is working with Elon Musk to bring Tesla battery grid storage solutions to the UK.
3.Spoke to Sally Barrett-Williams, Chairman of Energy and Utility Forum on October 23rd, who said subsidies for solar projects had ended and her company’s focus has shifted to energy storage schemes.
4.Spoke to Simon Dowland, PhD, at 13:00 on Sunday 29th October, Simon is now working up in Cambridge at the Cavendish Physics Laboratory at the University of Cambridge, he is working in industry for the company Eight19 Ltd a spin off from a research project to bring new technology …