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This act marked him deeply and he returns to it in his autobiographical works.
Mme de Warens arranged for Rousseau to travel to Turin, where he converted to Roman Catholicism in April 1728.
Rousseau spent some time working as a domestic servant in a noble household in Turin, and during this time a shameful episode occurred in which he falsely accused a fellow servant of the theft of a ribbon.
Isaac Rousseau was one of the small minority of Geneva’s residents who enjoyed the rank of citizen of Geneva, a status which Jean-Jacques was to inherit.
According to Rousseau’s own subsequent accounts, the haphazard education that he received from his father included both the inculcation of republican patriotism and the reading of classical authors such as Plutarch who dealt with the Roman republic.
In the modern world, human beings come to derive their very sense of self from the opinion of others, a fact which Rousseau sees as corrosive of freedom and destructive of individual authenticity.
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In his mature work, he principally explores two routes to achieving and protecting freedom: the first is a political one aimed at constructing political institutions that allow for the co-existence of free and equal citizens in a community where they themselves are sovereign; the second is a project for child development and education that fosters autonomy and avoids the development of the most destructive forms of self-interest.
On his father’s exile from the city to avoid arrest, Jean-Jacques was put in the care of a pastor at nearby Bossey and subsequently apprenticed to an engraver.
Rousseau left the city at the age of sixteen and came under the influence of a Roman Catholic convert noblewoman, Francoise-Louise de la Tour, Baronne de Warens.
The concern that dominates Rousseau’s work is to find a way of preserving human freedom in a world where human beings are increasingly dependent on one another for the satisfaction of their needs.
This concern has two dimensions: material and psychological, of which the latter has greater importance.