Swiss-born French Philosopher, Novelist, Political Theorist

Author Quotes

Since everything that comes into the human minds enters through the gates of sense, man’s first reason is a reason of sense-experience. It is this that serves as a foundation for the reason of the intelligence; our first teachers in natural philosophy are our feet, hands, and eyes. To substitute books for them does not teach us to reason, it teaches us to use the reason of others rather than our own; it teaches us to believe much and know little.

The decrees of conscience are not judgments but feelings.

The fundamental principle of all morality is that man is a being naturally good, loving justice and order; that there is not any original perversity in the human heart, and that the first movements of nature are always right.

The only moral lesson which is suited for a child – the most important lesson for every time of life – is this, “Never hurt anybody.”

The religion of man… has neither temples, nor altars, nor rites, and is confined to the purely internal cult of the supreme God and the eternal obligations of morality.

The risk is not in what he does not know, but in what he thinks he knows.

The visible order of the universe proclaims a supreme intelligence.

The world of reality has its bounds. The world of imagination is boundless.

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

I know of nothing so potent in its effect on my feelings as an act of courage performed at the right moment on behalf of the weak, unjustly oppressed.

It is not [a child’s] hearing of the word, but its accompanying intonation that is understood.

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; it sells the country to softness and vanity, and takes away from the state all its citizens, to make them slaves one to another, and one and all to public opinion.

Man is by nature good… Men are depraved and perverted by society.

Man is strong when he contents himself with being what he is: he is weak when he desires to raise himself above humanity.

By doing good we become good.

Everything is good when it leaves the Creator's hands; everything degenerates in the hands of people.

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

Sacrifice life to truth.

The want of occupation is no less the plague of society than of solitude.

Self-love is an instrument useful but dangerous; it often wounds the hand which makes use of it, and seldom does good without doing harm.

The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless. Not being able to enlarge the one, let us contract the other; for it is from their difference that all evils arise which render us unhappy.

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

There can be no patriotism without liberty, no liberty without virtue, no virtue without citizens; create citizens, and you have everything you need; without them, you will have nothing but debased slaves, from the rulers of the State downwards. To form citizens is not the work of a day; and in order to have men it is necessary to educate them when they are children.

Taste is, so to speak, the microscope of the judgment.

There is a deportment which suits the figure and talents of each person; it is always lost when we quit it to assume that of another.

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Swiss-born French Philosopher, Novelist, Political Theorist