Jean-Jacques Rousseau believed and insisted that human nature is intrinsically good if left alone and that education and society undoubtedly alter our morality. Born on 28th June 1752 in Geneva, Switzerland, he was a prominent Genevan philosopher, writer, educator, and composer. He largely influenced the world of economics and politics during the age of civilization in Europe.
Rousseau had a profound impact on ways of life and taught parents and guardians how to identify a new interest in their children and even, how to educate them differently. Jean opened people’s eyes to the amazing beauties of nature and made liberty something of universal aspiration.
Rousseau reminded people that they are good by nature but they have been corrupted by civilization and society as well. He did not mean that civilization was not to be appreciated but rather it had taken a wrong turn and became more harmful as it became more sophisticated. Have you ever read any of Rousseau’s philosophy or books? Here is the best guide if you want to buy a copy.
Jean Jacques Rousseau Quotes
1. “People who know little are usually great talkers, while men who know much say little”–Jean Jacques Rousseau
2. “The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless”–Jean Jacques Rousseau
3. “I prefer liberty with danger than peace with slavery.”–Jean Jacques Rousseau
4. “Those people who treat politics and morality separately will never understand either of them.”– Jean Jacques Rousseau
5. “People in their natural state are basically good. But this natural innocence, however, is corrupted by the evils of society.”–Jean Jacques Rousseau
6. “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.” –Jean Jacques Rousseau
7. “I am not made like any of those I have seen. I venture to believe That I am not made like any of those who are in existence. If I am not better, at least I am different.”– Jean Jacques Rousseau
8. “The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.” Jean Jacques Rousseau
9. “I would rather be a man of paradoxes than a man of prejudices.”– Jean Jacques Rousseau
10. “To be sane in a world of madman is in itself madness.”– Jean Jacques 11“Whoever blushes is already guilty; true innocence is ashamed of nothing.” –Jean Jacques Rousseau
11. “ Once you choose simplicity, life changes.”–Jean Jacques Rousseau
12. “I am not made like any of those I have seen. I venture to believe That I am not made like any of those who are in existence. If I am not better, at least I am different.”–Jean Jacques Rousseau
13. “The first person who, having 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 of civil society. What crimes, wars, murders, what miseries and horrors would the human race have been spared, had some one pulled up the 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 all and the earth to no one.” — Jean Jacques Rousseau
14. “There are times when I am so unlike myself That I might be taken for someone else of an entirely opposite character.”—Jean Jacques Rousseau
15. “Refiners had every incentive to get back up because there was a lot of money to be made.” Jean Jacques Rousseau
16. “We are born, so to speak, twice over; born into existence, and born into life; born a human being, and born a man.”– Jean Jacques Rousseau
17. “There are always four sides to a story: your side, their side, the truth and what really happened.”– Jean Jacques Rousseau
18. “What wisdom can you find That is greater than kindness.”– Jean Jacques Rousseau
19. “It is a mania shared by philosophers of all ages to deny what exists and to explain what does not exist.”—Jean Jacques Rousseau
20. “Do I dare set forth here the most important, the most useful rule of all education? It is not to save time, but to squander it.”– Jean Jacques Rousseau
21. “I undertake the same project as Montaigne, but with an aim contrary to his own: for he wrote his Essays only for others, and I write my reveries only for myself.” –Jean Jacques Rousseau
22. “To write a good love letter, you ought to begin without knowing what you mean to say, and to finish without knowing what you have written.” Jean Jacques Rousseau
23. “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 matters opposed to the Koran, they are bad and must be burned. If they contain only the doctrine of the Koran, burn them anyway, for they are superfluous.’ Our learned men have 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 pontiff.” –Jean Jacques Rousseau
24. “Everything is good as it comes from the hands of the Maker of the world, but degenerates once it gets into the hands of man.”– Jean Jacques Rousseau
25. “To renounce liberty is to renounce being a man, to surrender the rights of humanity and even its duties.” — Jean Jacques Rousseau
26. “…in respect of riches, no citizen shall ever be wealthy enough to buy another, and none poor enough to be forced to sell himself.” — Jean Jacques Rousseau
27. “I have never thought, for my part, That man’s freedom consists in his being able to do whatever he wills, but That he should not, by any human power, be forced to do what is against his will.” — Jean Jacques Rousseau
28. “Plants are shaped by cultivation and men by education. .. We are born weak, we need strength; we are born totally unprovided, we need aid; we are born stupid, we need judgment. Everything we do not have at our birth and which we need when we are grown is given us by education.”– Jean Jacques Rousseau
29. “The falsification of history has done more to impede human development than any one thing known to mankind.”– Jean Jacques Rousseau
30. “The first step towards vice is to shroud innocent actions in mystery, and whoever likes to conceal something sooner or later has reason to conceal it.” – Jean Jacques Rousseau
31. “No true believer could be intolerant or a persecutor. If I were a magistrate and the law carried the death penalty against atheists, I would begin by sending to the stake whoever denounced another.”– Jean Jacques Rousseau
32. “It is unnatural for a majority to rule, for a majority can seldom be organized and united for specific action, and a minority can.” — Jean Jacques Rousseau.
33. “To live is not to breathe but to act. It is to make use of our organs, our senses, our faculties, of all the parts of ourselves which give us the sentiment of our existence. The man who has lived the most is not he who has counted the most years but he who has most felt life.” — Jean Jacques Rousseau
34. “As soon as any man says of the affairs of the state “What does it matter to me?” the state may be given up for lost.”– Jean Jacques Rousseau
35. “It is as if my heart and my brain did not belong to the same person. Feelings come quicker than lightning and fill my soul, but they bring me no illumination; they burn me and dazzle me.” – Jean Jacques Rousseau
36. “When a man dies he clutches in his hands only That which he has given away during his lifetime.” — Jean Jacques Rousseau
37. “The first step towards vice is to shroud innocent actions in mystery, and whoever likes to conceal something sooner or later has reason to conceal it.” — Jean Jacques Rousseau
38. “We pity in others only those evils which we ourselves have experienced.” –Jean Jacques Rousseau
39. “Every man has the right to risk his own life in order to preserve it. Has it ever been said that a man who throws himself out the window to escape from a fire is guilty of suicide?”–Jean Jacques Rousseau
40. “Once you teach people to say what they do not understand, it is easy enough to get them to say anything you like.”– Jean Jacques Rousseau
41. “In the strict sense of the term, a true democracy has never existed, and never will exist.”– Jean Jacques Rousseau.
42. “Absolute silence leads to sadness. It is the image of death.”–Jean Jacques Rousseau
43. “There is, I feel, an age at which the individual man would wish to stop: you are about to inquire about the age at which you would have liked your whole species to stand still. Discontented with your present state, for reasons which threaten your unfortunate descendants with still greater discontent, you will perhaps wish it were in your power to go back; and this feeling should be a panegyric on your first ancestors, a criticism of your contemporaries, and a terror to the unfortunates who will come after you.” — Jean Jacques Rousseau.
44. “That man in the state of nature is both strong and dependent involves two contrary suppositions. man is weak when he is dependent, and is his own master before he comes to be strong. Hobbes did not reflect that the same cause, which prevents a savage from making use of his reason, as our jurists hold, prevents him also from abusing his faculties, as Hobbes himself allows: so that it may be justly said That savages are not bad merely because they do not know what it is to be good: for it is neither the development of the understanding nor the restraint of law That hinders them from doing ill; but the peacefulness of their passions, and their ignorance of vice: tanto plus in illis proficit vitiorum ignoratio, quam in his cognitio virtutis.”– Jean Jacques Rousseau
45. “As soon as any man says of the affairs of the state “What does it matter to me?” the state may be given up for lost.”–Jean Jacques Rousseau
46. “Great men never make bad use of their superiority. They see it and feel it and are not less modest. The more they have, the more they know their own deficiencies.”– Jean Jacques Rousseau
47. “Falsehood has an infinity of combinations, but truth has only one mode of being.”– Jean Jacques Rousseau
48. “It is believed that physiognomy is only a simple development of the features already marked out by nature.”– Jean Jacques Rousseau
49. “The freedom of Mankind does not lie in the fact that can do what we want, but that we do not have to do that which we do not want.”– Jean Jacques Rousseau
50. “We are reduced to asking others what we are. We never dare to ask ourselves.”– Jean Jacques Rosseau
51. “I have never believed that man’s freedom consisted in doing what he wants, but rather in never doing what he does not want to do.”– Jean Jacques Rousseau
52. “The majority of nations, as well as of men, are tractable only in their youth; they become incorrigible as they grow old.”– Jean Jacques Rousseau
53. “The only moral lesson which is suited for a child–the most important lesson for every time of life–is this: ‘Never hurt anybody.”– Jean Jacques Rousseau
54. “Habit accustoms us to everything. What we see too much, we no longer imagine; and it is only imagination which makes us feel the ills of others.”– Jean Jacques Rosseau
55. “Ordinary readers, forgive my paradoxes: one must make them when one reflects; and whatever you may say, I prefer being a man with paradoxes than a man with prejudices.”– Jean Jacques Rousseau
56. “Luxury is either the result of wealth or makes it necessary; luxury corrupts simultaneously the rich and the poor, the former by ownership, the latter by coveting.”– Jean Jacques Rousseau
57. “I have resolved on an enterprise that has no precedent and will have no imitator. I want to set before my fellow human beings a man in every way true to nature, and that man will be myself.”– Jean Jacques Rousseau
58. “To endure is the first thing that a child ought to learn, and that which he will have the most need to know.”– Jean Jacques Rousseau
59. “Government is an intermediate body set up between the subjects and the Sovereign, to secure their mutual correspondence.”– Jean Jacques Rousseau
60. “The sovereign power represents the head; the laws and customs are the brain, the source of the nerves and seat of the understanding, will and senses, of which the Judges and Magistrates are the organs.”– Jean Jacques Rousseau
61. “The power of the laws depends still more on their own wisdom than on the severity of their administrators, and the public will derive its greatest weight from the reason which has dictated it.”– Jean Jacques Rousseau
62. “The science of government is only a science of combinations, of applications, and of exceptions, according to times, places and circumstances.”– Jean Jacques Rousseau
63. “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 that the multitude of crimes is a guarantee of impunity.”– Jean Jacques Rousseau
64. “There is no subjection so perfect as that which keeps the appearance of freedom.”– Jean Jacques Rousseau
65. “If force compels obedience, there is no need to invoke a duty to obey, and if force ceases to compel obedience, there is no longer any obligation.”– Jean Jacques Rousseau
66. “The people of England 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 overtakes it, and it is nothing.”– Jean Jacques Rousseau
67. “Once you teach people to say what they do not understand, it is easy enough to get them to say anything you like.”– Jean Jacques Rousseau
68. “If there were a nation of Gods, it would govern itself democratically. A government so perfect is not suited to men.”– Jean-Jacques Rousseau
69. “The body politic, as well as the human body, begins to die as soon as it is born, and carries itself the causes of its destruction.”– Jean Jacques Rousseau
70.”One cannot teach children the danger of lying to men without being aware of the greater danger, on the part of men, of lying to children. A single proved lie told by the master to the child would ruin forever the whole fruit of the education.”– Jean Jacques Rousseau
71. “The strongest man is never strong enough to be always master, unless he transforms his power into right, and obedience into duty.”– Jean Jacques Rousseau
72. “I feel an indescribable ecstasy and delirium in melting, as it were, into the system of being, in identifying myself with the whole of nature.”– Jean Jacques Rousseau
73. “It is manifestly contrary to the law of nature, however defined, that a handful of people should gorge themselves with superfluities while the hungry majority goes in need of necessities.”– Jean Jacques Rousseau
74. “It is well known that a loose and easy dress contributes much to give to both sexes those fine proportions of body that are observable in the Grecian statues, and which serve as models to our present artists.”– Jean Jacques Rousseau
75. “Why should we build our happiness on the opinons of others, when we can find it in our own hearts?”– Jean Jacques Rousseau
76. “In truth, laws are always useful to those with possessions and harmful to those who have nothing; from which it follows that the social state is advantageous to men only when all possess something and none has too much.”– Jan Jacques Rousseau
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Rousseau Video – Political Theory
The 18th century Jean-Jacques Rousseau made the bold claim that modernity and civilisation are not improvements; they’ve dragged us from a primitive state of innocence and happiness.
If you want to truly understand the incredible legacy that Rousseau left for political philosophy, this video is a must watch!
Summary – Jean Jacques Rousseau
French Revolution philosophers including Jean Jacques Rousseau have a special perspective on the world. He wrote one of his most important works entitled: A Discourse on the Sciences and the Arts, where he argues that the history of human life on this planet has been a history of decay.
Although many did not buy his idea that people are naturally good, this was always the backbone of his argument. We agree that Rousseau left an impressive legacy behind with a profound effect on the way people think about many subjects. Any time you want to improve your critical thinking, this collection of Rousseau’s quotes on beliefs and philosophies will be very helpful.
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