Writer, musician, and philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, born June 28, 1712, is always associated with the French Enlightenment period, although he was born in Switzerland. His name is indivisible from the values of the French Revolution: liberty, equality, and fraternity. He advanced such radical ideas as rights for the disenfranchised, and the importance of a sound character as preeminent over a good education. Rousseau could be termed an early environmentalist in his respect for nature and his warnings about progress at any cost.
One of his famous works was Émile or On Education; in it he said “Pour connaître les hommes, il faut les voir agir” (poor kon-net-ruh lay zum eel foe lay vwar azjeer), which means “To know men, one must see them act.” He’s absolutely right, isn’t he? Talk is cheap, but what one does really does the talking. Rousseau never lived to see the Revolution for which he laid the foundation, dying on July 2, 1776.