100 Quotes by Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, an influential Enlightenment philosopher, left an enduring legacy by challenging conventional notions of society and human nature. His ideas laid the groundwork for modern political and educational thought. Rousseau believed that humans were inherently good but corrupted by societal structures. His seminal work, "The Social Contract," advocated for a government formed by the people, where individual liberty is preserved while collective interests are served. This concept became a cornerstone of democratic theory. Additionally, his treatise "Emile" revolutionized education by emphasizing the importance of nurturing a child's natural instincts and talents. Rousseau's exploration of the tension between individual freedom and the demands of a just society remains relevant as societies navigate the complexities of governance, personal autonomy, and community well-being.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau Quotes

People in their natural state are basically good. But this natural innocence,however, is corrupted by the evils of society.

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There are always four sides to a story: your side, their side, the truth and what really happened.

I prefer liberty with danger than peace with slavery.

Freedom is the power to choose our own chains

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.

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.

People who know little are usually great talkers, while men who know much say little.

Why should we build our happiness on the opinions of others, when we can find it in our own hearts?

Those people who treat politics and morality separately will never understand either of them.

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.

Socrates dies with honor, surrounded by his disciples listening to the most tender words -the easiest death that one could wish to die. Jesus dies in pain, dishonor, mockery, the object of universal cursing - the most horrible death that one could fear. At the receipt of the cup of poison, Socrates blesses him who could not give it to him without tears; Jesus, while suffering the sharpest pains, prays for His most bitter enemies. If Socrates lived and died like a philosopher, Jesus lived and died like a god.

No one is happy unless he respects himself.

The person who has lived the most is not the one with the most years but the one with the richest experiences.

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I may be no better, but at least I am different.

Once you teach people to say what they do not understand, it is easy enough to get them to say anything you like.

Free people, remember this maxim: we may acquire liberty, but it is never recovered if it is once lost.

Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains.

What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness?

Civilization is a hopeless race to discover remedies for the evils it produces.

Conscience is the voice of the soul, the passions are the voice of the body. Is it astonishing that often these two languages contradict each other, and then to which must we listen? Too often reason deceives us; we have only too much acquired the right of refusing to listen to it; but conscience never deceives us; it is the true guide of man; it is to man what instinct is to the body; which follows it, obeys nature, and never is afraid of going astray.

Our greatest misfortunes come to us from ourselves.

Insults are the arguments employed by those who are in the wrong.

Education is either from nature, from man or from things. The developing of our faculties and organs is the education of nature; that of man is the application we learn to make of this very developing; and that of things is the experience we acquire in regard to the different objects by which we are affected. All that we have not at our birth, and that we stand in need of at the years of maturity, is the gift of education.

No man has any natural authority over his fellow men.

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

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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.

Those that are most slow in making a promise are the most faithful in the performance of it.

Every man has a right to risk his own life for the preservation of it.

It is unnatural for a majority to rule, for a majority can seldom be organized and united for specific action, and a minority can.

Do not base your life on the judgments of others; first, because they are as likely to be mistaken as you are, and further, because you cannot know that they are telling you their true thoughts.

Social man lives constantly outside himself.

The world is the book of women. Whatever knowledge they may possess is more commonly acquired by observation than by reading.

To renounce liberty is to renounce being a man, to surrender the rights of humanity and even its duties. For he who renounces everything no indemnity is possible. Such a renunciation is incompatible with man's nature; to remove all liberty from his will is to remove all morality from his acts.

Ruthless man: you begin by slaying the animal and then you devour it, as if to slay it twice. It is not enough. You turn against the dead flesh, it revolts you, it must be transformed by fire, boiled and roasted, seasoned and disguised with drugs; you must have butchers, cooks, turnspits, men who will rid the murder of its horrors, who will dress the dead bodies so that the taste decieved by these disguises will not reject what is strange to it, and will feast on corpses, the very sight of which would sicken you.

The falsification of history has done more to impede human development than any one thing known to mankind.

The animals you eat are not those who devour others; you do not eat the carnivorous beasts, you take them as your pattern. You only hunger for the sweet and gentle creatures which harm no one, which follow you, serve you, and are devoured by you as the reward of their service.

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

The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.

The greatest braggarts are usually the biggest cowards.

Nature wants children to be children before men... Childhood has its own seeing, thinking and feeling.

Happiness: a good bank account, a good cook, and a good digestion.

Do not judge, and you will never be mistaken.

Religious persecutors are not believers, they are rascals.

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

My liveliest delight was in having conquered myself.

Trust your heart rather than your head.

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

Absolute silence leads to sadness. It is the image of death.

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.

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 gaurantee of impunity.

Love childhood, indulge its sports, its pleasures, its delightful instincts. Who has not sometimes regretted that age when laughter was ever on the lips, and when the heart was ever at peace?

There is no subjection so perfect as that which keeps the appearance of freedom.

One can buy anything with money except morality.

Slaves lose everything in their chains, even the desire of escaping from them.

Provided a man is not mad, he can be cured of every folly but vanity; there is no cure for this but experience, if indeed there is any cure for it at all.

The only moral lesson which is suited for a child--the most important lesson for every time of life--is this: 'Never hurt anybody.

In the strict sense of the term, a true democracy has never existed, and never will exist.

The one thing we do not know is the limit of the knowable.

All kinds of frankness and honesty are terrible crimes in the eyes of society.

All of my misfortunes come from having thought too well of my fellows.

Rather suffer an injustice than commit one.

You forget that the fruits belong to all and that the land belongs to no one.

The money you have gives you freedom; the money you pursue enslaves you.

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

A feeble body weakens the mind.

Do you not know that a child badly taught is farther from being wise than one not taught at all?

It is a mania shared by philosophers of all ages to deny what exists and to explain what does not exist.

Falsehood has an infinity of combinations, but truth has only one mode of being.

Temperance and labor are the two best physicians of man; labor sharpens the appetite, and temperance prevents from indulging to excess

Patience patience quotes is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.

Liberty may be gained, but can never be recovered.

Whoever blushes is already guilty; true innocence is ashamed of nothing.

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.

Luxury either comes of riches or makes them necessary; it corrupts at once rich and poor, the rich by possession and the poor by covetousness.

People who know little are usually great talkers, while men who know much say little. It is plain that an ignorant person thinks everything he does know important, and he tells it to everybody. But a well-educated man is not so ready to display his learning; he would have too much to say, and he sees that there is much more to be said, so he holds his peace.

We are born weak, we need strength; helpless, we need aid; foolish, we need reason. All that we lack at birth, all that we need when we come to man's estate, is the gift of education.

Money is the seed of money, and the first guinea is sometimes more difficult to acquire than the second million.

By doing good we become good.

Reason deceives us; conscience, never.

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

If I am part of a group of 100 people, do 99 people have the right to sentence me to death, just because they are majority?

Being wealthy isn't just a question of having lots of money. It's a question of what we want. Wealth isn't an absolute, it's relative to desire. Every time we seek something that we can't afford, we can be counted as poor, how much money we may actually have.

When a man dies he clutches in his hands only that which he has given away during his lifetime.

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

Remorse sleeps during prosperity but awakes bitter consciousness during adversity.

Gratitude is a duty which ought to be paid, but which none have a right to expect.

I have suffered too much in this world not to hope for another.

God made me and broke the mold.

Nature never deceives us; it is we who deceive ourselves.

Girls must be thwarted early in life.

Teach by doing whenever you can, and only fall back upon words when doing it is out of the question.

The happiest is he who suffers least; the most miserable is he who enjoys least.

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

Take the course opposite to custom and you will almost always do well.

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

Supreme happiness consists in self-content.

If there wasn't a God we would have to invent one to keep people sane.

Anticipation and Hope are born twins.

A paralyzed man who wants to walk OR an agile man who does not want to walk will both remain neutral in nature.

Living is not breathing but doing.

Plant and your spouse plants with you; weed and you weed alone.

All through life a man has need of a counsellor and guide.

The man who gets the most out of life is not the one who has lived it longest, but the one who has felt life most deeply.

To endure is the first thing that a child ought to learn, and that which he will have the most need to know.

It is easier to conquer than to administer. With enough leverage, a finger could overturn the world; but to support the world, one must have the shoulders of Hercules.

Finance is a slave's word.

The money that we possess is the instrument of liberty, that which we lack and strive to obtain is the instrument of slavery.

Liberty is obedience to the law which one has laid down for oneself

There is no evildoer who could not be made good for something.

We are reduced to asking others what we are. We never dare to ask ourselves.

Innocence is ashamed of nothing.

The bigger a state becomes the more liberty diminishes.

Women speak at an earlier age, more easily, and more agreeably than men; they are accused also of speaking more; this is as it should be, and I willingly change the reproach into a eulogy.

Quit thy childhood, my friend, and wake up!

Smell is the sense of memory and desire.

The man who meditates is a depraved animal.

The mind grows narrow in proportion as the soul grows corrupt.

We can never put ourselves in the shoes of children; we cannot fathom their thoughts, we lend them ours; and always following ourown reasoning, we stuff their heads with extravagance and error.

I hate books; they only teach us to talk about things we know nothing about.

Cities are the abyss of the human species.

There is a period in life when we go backwards as we advance.

The English are predisposed to pride, the French to vanity.

Posterity is always just.

Temperance and labor are the two real physicians of man.

It is hard to prevent oneself from believing what one so keenly desires.

The people is never corrupted, but it is often deceived.

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.

Behold the works of our philosophers; with all their pompous diction, how mean and contemptible they are by comparison with the Scriptures! Is it possible that a book at once so simple and sublime should be merely the work of man?

A person who can break wind is not dead.

I long remained a child, and I am still one in many respects.

The strength of the people is effective only if it is concentrated; it evaporates and is lost when it is dispersed, just as gunpowder scattered on the ground ignites only grain by grain.

The thirst after happiness is never extinguished in the heart of man.

Men will argue more philosophically about the human heart; but women will read the heart of man better than they.

Money is the seed of money.

A man says what he knows, a woman says what will please.

There is peace in dungeons, but is that enough to make dungeons desirable?

He who pretends to look upon death without fear, lies

A man who is not a fool can rid himself of every folly except vanity.

Truth is an homage that the good man pays to his own dignity.

The visible order of the universe proclaims a supreme intelligence.

Christ preaches only servitude and dependence. True Christians are made to be slaves.

― Jean-Jacques Rousseau Quotes

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Chief Editor

Tal Gur is an author, founder, and impact-driven entrepreneur at heart. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His journey and most recent book, The Art of Fully Living, has led him to found Elevate Society.

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