The romantic movement establishes the counter-position against both modern rationalism & empiricism in the philosophical spheres and political theories in the material sphere. At face value, romanticism is a rebellion against prudence, a rejection of the scientific rationalism that inscribed knowledge to what was measurable, the expression of passions, sensibilities, and the aesthetics, the openness towards mystery. Nature, to the romantics, is the most mysterious in the sense that it contains all that which hasn’t been symbolized, framed, and represented. Sensibility, or the sensitivity to one’s emotions and feeling-tones evoked by nature, is its epistemology. Thus, the Romantic reverses the difficulties of subjectivity in the empiricism of Locke, Berkeley and Hume by turning it into its central doctrine. Such is an sign of the growing individualism of man that underpins later traditions such as German idealism, existentialism, and post-modern thoughts.
Rousseau is most known for his works in moral philosophy regarding the natural goodness of man, noble savage, inequality, and the general will. Unlike Christianity’s original sin, Rousseau’s man is born good but is corrupted by the institutions of man. Arts and sciences fabricated passions in the psyche of man that erodes his morality and virtue. The savage or primitive, who lives a life closer to the self-contained/isolated/free state of nature, is less corrupted by the influences of socialization, of the social-contracts under a sovereignty. inequality arose out of man convincing each other of one another’s property; specialization in talents produces competition and alienated one person from another
Rousseau’s solution calls upon political changes to both education and governance. The goal of education is to cultivate the natural in-born talents of man that will engage him social life without relations of domination and subordination. His participation in governance will follow that of the “general will” (common good), which is a common denominator amongst all participating interests in the collective. Such a sovereignty will protect individuals from gross inequality.