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 Jean-Jacques Rousseau Quotes 

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Total 426
Level0 280
Level1 109
Level2 35
Level3 2
Phrasal Verbs 44
Idioms 1

I would rather rather be a man of paradoxes paradoxes than a man of prejudices. prejudices.

The first person who, having enclosed enclosed a plot of land, took it into his head to say this is mine and found people simple enough to believe him was the true founder founder of civil civil society. What crimes, wars, murders, what miseries miseries and horrors horrors would the human race have been spared, spared, had some one pulled up the stakes stakes or filled in the ditch and cried out to his fellow men: "Do not listen to this imposter. You are lost if you forget that the fruits of the earth belong to belong to all and the earth to no one!

To be sane sane in a world of madman is in itself madness.

It is too difficult to think nobly when one thinks only of thinks only of earning earning a living.

They say that Caliph Omar, when consulted about what had to be done with the library of Alexandria, answered as follows: 'If the books of this library contain contain matters opposed to opposed to the Koran, they are bad and must be burned. If they contain contain only the doctrine doctrine of the Koran, burn them anyway, for they are superfluous.' Our learned learned men have cited cited this reasoning as the height of absurdity. However, suppose Gregory the Great was there instead of Omar and the Gospel instead of the Koran. The library would still have been burned, and that might well have been the finest moment in the life of this illustrious illustrious pontiff.

Every man having been born free and master of himself, no one else may under any pretext whatever subject subject him without his consent. consent. To assert assert that the son of a slave slave is born a slave slave is to assert assert that he is not born a man.

I have never thought, for my part, that man's freedom consists in his being able able to do whatever he wills, but that he should not, by any human power, be forced to do what is against his will.

If there is a state where the soul can find a resting place secure enough to establish establish itself and concentrate its entire entire being there, with no need to remember the past or reach into the future, where time is nothing to it, where the present runs on indefinitely but this duration goes unnoticed with goes unnoticed with no sign of the passing of time, and no other feeling of deprivation deprivation or enjoyment, pleasure pleasure or pain, desire or fear than the simple feeling of existence, existence, a feeling that fills our soul entirely, entirely, as long as this state lasts, we can call ourselves happy, not with a poor, incomplete and relative happiness such as we find in the pleasures pleasures of life, but with a sufficient, sufficient, complete and perfect happiness which leaves no emptiness to be filled in the soul.

Teach your scholar to observe the phenomena phenomena of nature; you will soon rouse his curiosity, but if you would have it grow, do not be in too great a hurry hurry to satisfy this curiosity. Put the problems before him and let let him solve them himself. Let Let him know nothing because you have told him, but because he has learnt it for himself. Let Let him not be taught science, let let him discover it. If ever you substitute authority for reason he will cease cease to reason; he will be a mere mere plaything of other people's thoughts.

The word 'slavery' and 'right' are contradictory, they cancel each other out. Whether as between one man and another, another, or between one man and a whole whole people, it would always be absurd absurd to say: "I hereby make a covenant covenant with you which is wholly at your expense and wholly to my advantage; I will respect it so long as I please please and you shall respect it as long as I wish.

The extreme extreme inequality of our ways of life, the excess of idleness among some and the excess of toil toil among others, the ease of stimulating stimulating and gratifying gratifying our appetites appetites and our senses, the over elaborate elaborate foods of the rich, which inflame and overwhelm overwhelm them with indigestion, the bad food of the poor, which they often often go without go without altogether, altogether, so that they over eat greedily when they have the opportunity; those late nights, excesses of all kinds, immoderate immoderate transports transports of every passion, fatigue, fatigue, exhaustion exhaustion of mind, the innumerable sorrows sorrows and anxieties that people in all classes suffer, and by which the human soul is constantly tormented: tormented: these are the fatal fatal proofs that most of our ills are of our own making, and that we might have avoided nearly all of them if only we had adhered to adhered to the simple, unchanging and solitary solitary way of life that nature ordained ordained for us.

It is as if my heart and my brain did not belong to belong to the same person. Feelings come quicker than lightning and fill my soul, but they bring me no illumination; illumination; they burn me and dazzle dazzle me.

My illusions illusions about the world caused me to think that in order to benefit by my reading I ought to possess possess all the knowledge the book presupposed. I was very far indeed indeed from imagining that often often the author did not possess possess it himself, but had extracted extracted it from other books, as and when he needed it. This foolish conviction conviction forced me to stop every moment, and to rush rush incessantly incessantly from one book to another; another; sometimes before coming to the tenth page of the one I was trying to read I should, by this extravagant extravagant method, have had to run through run through whole whole libraries. Nevertheless Nevertheless I stuck to stuck to it so persistently persistently that I wasted infinite time, and my head became so confused that I could hardly hardly see or take in take in anything.

In all the ills that befall us, we are more concerned concerned by the intention than the result. A tile that falls off falls off a roof may injure us more seriously, but it will not wound wound us so deeply as a stone thrown deliberately deliberately by a malevolent malevolent hand. The blow may miss, but the intention always strikes home.

In a well governed state, there are few punishments, not because there are many pardons, but because criminals are rare; it is when a state is in decay decay that the multitude multitude of crimes is a guarantee of impunity.

To renounce renounce liberty liberty is to renounce renounce being a man, to surrender the rights of humanity and even its duties.

An unbroken horse erects erects his mane, paws the ground and starts back impetuously impetuously at the sight of the bridle; bridle; while one which is properly trained suffers patiently even whip and spur: spur: so savage savage man will not bend his neck to the yoke to which civilised man submits without a murmur, murmur, but prefers the most turbulent turbulent state of liberty liberty to the most peaceful slavery. slavery. We cannot therefore, from the servility servility of nations already enslaved, judge of the natural disposition disposition of mankind for or against slavery; slavery; we should go by go by the prodigious prodigious efforts efforts of every free people to save itself from oppression. oppression. I know that the former former are for ever holding forth holding forth in praise of the tranquillity they enjoy in their chains, and that they call a state of wretched wretched servitude servitude a state of peace: miserrimam servitutem pacem appellant. But when I observe the latter latter sacrificing sacrificing pleasure, pleasure, peace, wealth, power and life itself to the preservation preservation of that one treasure, which is so disdained disdained by those who have lost it; when I see free born animals dash their brains out against the bars of their cage, from an innate innate impatience of captivity; when I behold behold numbers of naked naked savages, savages, that despise despise European pleasures, pleasures, braving hunger, fire, the sword and death, to preserve preserve nothing but their independence, I feel that it is not for slaves slaves to argue argue about liberty. liberty.

Hold childhood in reverence, reverence, and do not be in any hurry hurry to judge it for good or ill. Leave exceptional cases to show themselves, let let their qualities be tested and confirmed, confirmed, before special methods are adopted. adopted. Give nature time to work before you take over take over her business, lest you interfere with interfere with her dealings. You assert assert that you know the value of time and are afraid afraid to waste it. You fail to perceive perceive that it is a greater waste of time to use it ill than to do nothing, and that a child ill taught is further further from virtue virtue than a child who has learnt nothing at all. You are afraid afraid to see him spending his early years doing nothing. What! is it nothing to be happy, nothing to run and jump all day? He will never be so busy again all his life long. Plato, in his Republic, which is considered considered so stern, stern, teaches the children only through festivals, games, songs, and amusements. amusements. It seems seems as if he had accomplished accomplished his purpose when he had taught them to be happy; and Seneca, speaking of the Roman lads in olden days, says, "They were always on their feet, they were never taught anything which kept them sitting." Were they any the worse for it in manhood? Do not be afraid, afraid, therefore, of this so called idleness. What would you think of think of a man who refused refused to sleep lest he should waste part of his life? You would say, "He is mad; he is not enjoying his life, he is robbing himself of part of it; to avoid sleep he is hastening his death." Remember that these two cases are alike, and that childhood is the sleep of reason

I believed that I was approaching approaching the end of my days without having tasted to the full any of the pleasures pleasures for which my heart thirsted...without having ever tasted that passion which, through lack lack of an object, was always suppressed. suppressed. ...The impossibility of attaining the real persons precipitated precipitated me into the land of chimeras; chimeras; and seeing nothing that existed existed worthy of my exalted exalted feelings, I fostered fostered them in an ideal world which my creative imagination soon peopled with beings after my own heart.

The indolence indolence I love is not that of a lazy fellow who sits with his arms across in total inaction, and thinks no more than he acts, but that of a child which is incessantly incessantly in motion doing nothing, and that of a dotard who wanders wanders from his subject. subject. I love to amuse amuse myself with trifles, trifles, by beginning a hundred things and never finishing one of them, by going or coming as I take either into my head, by changing my project at every instant, by following a fly through all its windings, in wishing to overturn a rock to see what is under it, by undertaking undertaking with ardor ardor the work of ten years, and abandoning abandoning it without regret regret at the end of ten minutes; finally, in musing from morning until night without order or coherence, coherence, and in following in everything the caprice of a moment.

I feel an indescribable ecstasy ecstasy and delirium delirium in melting, as it were, into the system of being, in identifying myself with identifying myself with the whole whole of nature..

The social pact, pact, far from destroying natural equality, substitutes, on the contrary, contrary, a moral and lawful equality for whatever physical inequality that nature may have imposed on imposed on mankind; so that however unequal in strength and intelligence, men become equal by covenant covenant and by right.

Laws are always useful to those who possess possess and vexatious to those who have nothing.

Everything is in constant flux on this earth. Nothing keeps the same unchanging shape, and our affections, affections, being attached to attached to things outside us, necessarily change and pass away pass away as they do. Always out ahead ahead of us or lagging lagging behind, behind, they recall recall a past which is gone or anticipate anticipate a future which may never come into come into being; there is nothing solid there for the heart to attach itself to attach itself to Thus our earthly joys are almost without exception exception the creatures of a moment...

Virtue Virtue is a state of war, and to live in it we have always to combat combat with ourselves.

I was not much afraid afraid of punishment, I was only afraid afraid of disgrace. disgrace. But that I feared more than death, more than crime, more than anything in the world. I should have rejoiced rejoiced if the earth had swallowed me up and stifled stifled me in the abyss. abyss. But my invincible invincible sense of shame prevailed prevailed over everything . It was my shame that made me impudent, impudent, and the more wickedly wickedly I behaved the bolder my fear of confession confession made me. I saw nothing but the horror horror of being found out found out of being publicly proclaimed, proclaimed, to my face, as a thief, as a liar, and slanderer.

So finally we tumble into the abyss, abyss, we ask God why he has made us so feeble. feeble. But, in spite spite of ourselves, He replies through our consciences: 'I have made you too feeble feeble to climb out of the pit, because I made you strong enough not to fall in.

If force compels compels obedience, obedience, there is no need to invoke invoke a duty to obey, and if force ceases ceases to compel compel obedience, obedience, there is no longer any obligation. obligation.

To discover the rules of society that are best suited to nations, there would need to exist exist a superior intelligence, who could understand the passions of men without feeling any of them, who had no affinity affinity with our nature but knew it to the full, whose happiness was independent of ours, but who would nevertheless nevertheless make our happiness his concern, concern, who would be content to wait in the fullness of time for a distant distant glory, glory, and to labour in one age to enjoy the fruits in another. another. Gods would be needed to give men laws.

What good would it be to possess possess the whole whole universe if one were its only survivor? survivor?

The people of England regards regards itself as free; but it is grossly mistaken; it is free only during the election of members of parliament. As soon as they are elected, slavery slavery overtakes it, and it is nothing.

The real world has its limits; the imaginary world is infinite. Unable Unable to enlarge the one, let let us restrict the other, for it is from the difference between the two alone that are born all the pains which make us truly unhappy.

God (Nature, in my view) makes all things good; man meddles meddles with them and they become evil. evil. He fores one soil to yield the products of another, another, one tree to bear bear another's fruit. He confuses and confounds confounds time, place, and natural conditions. He mutilates his dog, his horse, and his slave. slave. He destroys and defaces all things; he loves all that is deformed and monstrous; monstrous; he will have nothing as nature made it, not even himself, who must learn his paces like a saddle horse, and be shaped to his master's taste like the trees in his garden.

With regard regard to equality, this word must not be understood to mean mean that degress of power and wealth should be exactly the same, but rather rather that with regard regard to power, it should be incapable incapable of all violence and never exerted exerted except except by virtue virtue of status and the laws; and with regard regard to wealth, no citizen should be so opulent opulent that he can buy another, another, and none so poor that he is constrained constrained to sell himself.

The ever recurring recurring law of necessity necessity soon teaches a man to do what he does not like, so as to avert avert evils which he would dislike still more... this foresight, well or ill used, is the source of all the wisdom or the wretchedness wretchedness of mankind.

He who blushes is already guilty. guilty.

More than half of my life is past; I have left only the time I need for turning the rest of it to account and for account and for effacing effacing my errors by my virtues. virtues.

Usurpers Usurpers always bring about bring about or select troublous times to get passed, under cover of the public terror, destructive laws, which the people would never adopt adopt in cold blood. The moment chosen is one of the surest means means of distinguishing distinguishing the work of the legislator from that of the tyrant.

I don't know how this lively lively and dumb scene would have ended , or how long I might have remained remained immoveable in this ridiculous ridiculous and delightful situation , had we not been interrupted. interrupted.

I can discover nothing in any mere mere animal but an ingenious ingenious machine, to which nature has given senses to wind itself up wind itself up and guard, to a certain certain degree, against everything that might destroy or disorder disorder it.

It is reason which breeds pride and reflection which fortifies it; reason which turns man inward into himself; reason which separates him from everything which troubles or affects affects him. It is philosophy which isolates isolates a man, and prompts prompts him to say in secret at the sight of another another suffering: 'Perish if you will; I am safe.' No longer can anything but dangers to society in general disturb the tranquil tranquil sleep of the philosopher or drag drag him from his bed. A fellow man may with impunity be murdered under his window, for the philosopher has only to put his hands over hands over his ears and argue argue a little with himself to prevent prevent nature, which rebels inside him, from making him identify himself with identify himself with the victim victim of the murder. The savage savage man entirely entirely lacks lacks this admirable admirable talent, and for want of wisdom and reason he always responds responds recklessly recklessly to the first promptings of human feeling.

Since men cannot create new forces, but merely merely combine and control those which already exist, exist, the only way in which they can preserve preserve themselves is by uniting uniting their separate powers in a combination strong enough to overcome overcome any resistance, uniting uniting them so that their powers are directed by a single motive and act in concert.

My love for imaginary objects and my facility in lending myself to them ended by disillusioning me with everything around me, and determined determined that love of solitude solitude which I have retained retained ever since that time.

I had brought from Paris the national prejudice prejudice against Italian music; but I had also received from nature that acute acute sensibility sensibility against which prejudices prejudices are powerless. I soon contracted the passion it inspires in all those born to understand it.

Man's first law is to watch over his own preservation; preservation; his first care he owes owes to himself; and as soon as he reaches the age of reason, he becomes the only judge of the best means means to preserve preserve himself; he becomes his own master.

The Abbe de Saint Saint Pierre suggested an association of all the states of Europe to maintain perpetual perpetual peace among themselves. Is this association practicable, and supposing that it were established, established, would it be likely to last?

Our wisdom is slavish prejudice, prejudice, our customs customs consist in control

Peoples once accustomed accustomed to masters are not in a condition to do without do without them. If they attempt to shake off shake off the yoke, they still more estrange estrange themselves from freedom, as, by mistaking for mistaking for it an unbridled license to which it is diametrically opposed, they nearly always manage, by their revolutions, revolutions, to hand themselves over hand themselves over to seducers, seducers, who only make their chains heavier than before.

Europe had fallen back into the barbarity of the first ages. People from this part of world, so enlightened enlightened today, lived a few centuries ago in a state worse than ignorance. Some sort sort of learned learned jargon jargon much more despicable despicable than ignorance had usurped usurped the name of knowledge and set up an almost invincible invincible obstacle obstacle in the way of its return. A revolution revolution was necessary necessary to bring men back to common sense, and it finally came from a quarter where one would least expect it. It was the stupid Muslim, the eternal eternal blight blight on learning, who brought about brought about its rebirth among us.

In fact, the real source of all those differences, is that the savage savage lives within himself, whereas the citizen, constantly beside himself, knows only how to live in the opinion opinion of others; inasmuch inasmuch that it is, if I may say so, merely merely from their judgment that he derives the consciousness of his own existence. existence.

It is a great and beautiful spectacle to see a man somehow emerging emerging from oblivion oblivion by his own efforts, efforts, dispelling dispelling with the light of his reason the shadows in which nature had enveloped him, rising above himself, soaring soaring in his mind right up to the celestial celestial regions, moving, like the sun, with giant strides strides through the vast vast extent extent of the universe, and, what is even greater and more difficult, returning to returning to himself in order to study man there and learn of his nature, his obligations, obligations, and his end.

A feeble feeble body makes a feeble feeble mind. I do not know what doctors cure us of, but I know this: they infect us with very deadly diseases, cowardice, timidity, timidity, credulity, the fear of death. What matter if they make the dead walk, we have no need of corpses; corpses; they fail to give us men, and it is men we need.

Children are taught to look down on look down on their nurses (nannies), to treat them as mere mere servants. When their task is completed the child is withdrawn or the nurse is dismissed. Her visits to her foster foster child are discouraged by a cold reception. After a few years the child never sees her again. The mother expects to take her place, and to repair by her cruelty the results of her own neglect. But she is greatly mistaken; she is making an ungrateful foster foster child, not an affectionate affectionate son; she is teaching him ingratitude, and she is preparing him to despise despise at a later later day the mother who bore bore him, as he now despises despises his nurse.

The more ingenious ingenious our apparatus, the coarser coarser and more unskillful are our senses.

The continual emotion that is felt in the theater excites excites us, enervates enervates us, enfeebles enfeebles us, and makes us less able able to resist our passions. And the sterile interest taken in interest taken in virtue virtue serves only to satisfy our vanity vanity without obliging obliging us to practice it.

It is true that the genius of assembled men or of peoples is quite quite different from a man's character in private, and that one would know the human heart very imperfectly if he did not examine it also in the multitude. multitude. But it is no less true that one must begin by studying man in order to judge men, and that he who knew each individual's inclinations inclinations perfectly could foresee all their effects effects when combined in the body of the people.

I ask: which of the two, civil civil or natural life, is more likely to become insufferable to those who live it? We see about see about us practically no people who do not complain about their existence; existence; many even deprive deprive themselves of it to the extent extent they are able, able, and the combination of divine divine and human laws is hardly hardly enough to stop this disorder. disorder.

Hatred, as well as love, renders renders its votaries credulous. credulous.

To this motive which encourages me is added another another which made up my mind made up my mind after I have upheld, upheld, according according to my natural intelligence, the side of truth, no matter what success I have, there is a prize which I cannot fail to win. I will find it in the depths of my heart.

If one divided all of human science into two parts the one common to all men, the other particular particular to the learned learned the latter latter would be quite quite small in comparison with the former. former. But we are hardly hardly aware aware of what is generally attained, because it is attained without thought and even before the age of reason; because, moreover, moreover, learning is noticed only by its differences, and as in algebraic equations, common quantities count for nothing.

Those who read this will not fail to laugh at my gallantries, gallantries, and remark, that after very promising preliminaries, my most forward adventures concluded by a kiss of the hand: yet be not mistaken, reader, in your estimate estimate of my enjoyments; I have, perhaps, perhaps, tasted more real pleasure pleasure in my amours, which concluded by a kiss of the hand, than you will ever have in yours, which, at least, begin there.

I open the books on Right and on ethics; I listen to the professors and jurists; and, my mind full of their seductive doctrines, doctrines, I admire admire the peace and justice established established by the civil civil order; I bless the wisdom of our political institutions and, knowing myself a citizen, cease cease to lament lament I am a man. Thoroughly Thoroughly instructed as to my duties and my happiness, I close the book, step out of the lecture room, and look around me. I see wretched wretched nations groaning groaning beneath beneath a yoke of iron. I see mankind ground down by a handful handful of oppressors, oppressors, I see a famished mob, worn down worn down by sufferings and famine, famine, while the rich drink the blood and tears of their victims victims at their ease. I see on every side the strong armed with the terrible terrible powers of the Law against the weak

A taste for ostentation ostentation is rarely rarely associated associated in the same souls with a taste for honesty. No, it is not possible that minds degraded degraded by a multitude multitude of futile futile concerns concerns would ever raise raise themselves to anything great. Even when they had the strength for that, the courage would be missing.

Those whom nature destined destined to make her disciples have no need of teachers.Bacon, Descartes, Newton these tutors of the human race had no need of tutors themselves, and what guides could have led them to led them to those places where their vast vast genius carried them? Ordinary teachers could only have limited their understanding by confining confining it to their own narrow capabilities. With the first obstacles, obstacles, they learned learned to exert exert themselves and made the effort effort to traverse traverse the immense immense space they moved through. If it is necessary necessary to permit some men to devote themselves to devote themselves to the study of the sciences and the arts, that should be only for those who feel in themselves the power to walk alone in those men's footsteps and to move beyond beyond them. It is the task of this small number of people to raise raise monuments to the glory glory of the human mind.

The spectacle of nature, by growing quite quite familiar to him, becomes at last equally indifferent. indifferent. It is constantly the same order, constantly the same revolutions; revolutions; he has not sense enough to feel surprise at the sight of the greatest wonders; and it is not in his mind we must look for look for that philosophy, which man must have to know how to observe once, what he has every day seen." Jean Jacques Rousseau, On the Inequality among Mankind, Ch. 1, 20.

There is, I am sensible, sensible, an age at which every individual of you would choose to stop; and you will look out look out for the age at which, had you your wish, your species had stopped. Uneasy at your present condition for reasons which threaten your unhappy posterity posterity with still greater uneasiness, you will perhaps perhaps wish it were in your power to go back go back and this sentiment ought to be considered, considered, as the panegyric panegyric of your first parents, the condemnation condemnation of you contemporaries, contemporaries, and a source of terror to all those who may have the misfortune misfortune of succeeding you.

I am beginning to feel the drunkenness that this agitated, agitated, tumultuous tumultuous life plunges plunges you into. With such a multitude multitude of objects passing before my eyes, I'm getting dizzy. Of all the things that strike me, there is none that holds my heart, yet all of them together disturb my feelings, so that I forget what I am and who I belong to belong to

Now it is easy to perceive perceive that the moral part of love is a factitious sentiment, engendered engendered by society, and cried up by the women with great care and address address in order to establish establish their empire, and secure command to that sex which ought to obey.

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