Author

Jean-Jacques
Rousseau
1712
1778

Swiss-born French Philosopher, Novelist, Political Theorist

Author Quotes

Liberty is not to be found in any form of government, she is in the heart of the free man, he bears her with him everywhere.

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

Luxury, which cannot be prevented among men who are tenacious of their own convenience and of the respect paid them by others, soon completes the evil society had begun, and, under the pretense of giving bread to the poor, whom it should never have made such, impoverishes all the rest, and sooner or later depopulates the State.

To serve God is not to pass our lives on our knees in prayer; it is to discharge on earth those obligations which our duty requires.

Luxury is a remedy much worse than the disease it sets up to cure; or rather it is in itself the greatness of all evils; for every State, great or small: for, in order to maintain all the servants and vagabonds it creates, it brings oppression and ruin on the citizen and the laborer; it is like those scorching winds, which, covering the trees and plants with their devouring insects, deprive useful animals of their subsistence and spread famine and death wherever they blow.

When fate is adverse, a wise man can always strive for happiness and sail against the wind to attain it.

Never exceed your rights, and they will soon become unlimited.

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

Nothing is less in our power than the heart, and far from commanding we are forced to obey it.

Whoever refuses to obey the general will [of the people] shall be constrained to do so by the whole society; this means nothing else than that he shall be forced to be free.

Old men grasp more at life than babies, and leave it with much worse grace than young people. It is because all their labours have been for this life, they perceive at last their trouble lost.

Yet it may be asked how a man can be at once free and forced to conform to wills which are not his own. How can the opposing minority be both free and subject to laws to which they have not consented? I answer that the question is badly formulated. The citizen consents to all the laws, even to those that are passed against his will, and even to those which punish him when he dares to break any one of them. The constant will of all the members of the state is the general will; it is through it that they are citizens and are free.

Conscience is the voice of the soul.

Our first duties are to ourselves; our first feelings are centered on self; all our instincts are at first directed to our own preservation and our own welfare. Thus the first notion of justice springs not from what we owe to others, but from what is due to us.

When a law is proposed in the people’s assembly, what is asked of them is not precisely whether they approve of the proposition or reject it, but whether it is in conforming with the general will which is theirs; each by giving his vote gives his opinion on this question, and the counting of votes yields a declaration of the general will. When, therefore, the opinion contrary to my own prevails, this proves only that I have made a mistake, and that what I believed to be the general will was not so. If my particular opinion had prevailed against the general will, I should have done something other than what I had willed, and then I should not have been free. This presupposes, it is true, that all characteristics of the general will are still to be found in the majority; when these cease to be there, no matter what position men adopt, there is no longer any freedom.

Do to others as you would have them do unto you, inspires all men with that other maxim of natural goodness, much less perfect indeed, but perhaps more useful: Do good to yourself with as little evil as possible to others.

Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.

Education comes to us from nature, from men, or from things. The inner growth of our organs and faculties is the education of nature, the use we learn to make of this growth is the education of men, what we gain by our experience of our surroundings is the education of things. Thus we are each taught by three masters. If their teaching conflicts, the scholar is ill-educated and will never be at peace with himself; if their teaching agrees, he goes straight to his goal, he lives at peace with himself, he is well-educated.

Temperance and labor are the two best physicians; the one sharpens the appetite - the other prevents indulgence to excess.

Every man has the right to risk his own life in order to save it.

The fundamental principle of all morals, on the basis of which I have reasoned in all my writings... is that man is naturally good, loving justice and order; that there is absolutely no original perversity in the human heart, and that the first movements of nature are always right.

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

The hatred of the wicked is only roused the more from the impossibility of finding any just grounds on which it rest; and the very consciousness of their own injustice is only a grievance the more against him who is the object of it.

Had I no other proof of the immortality of the soul than the oppression of the just and the triumph of the wicked in this world, this alone would prevent my having the least doubt of it. So shocking a discord amidst a general harmony of things would make me naturally look for a cause; I should say to myself we do not cease to exist with this life; everything reassumes its order after life.

The less reasonable a cult is, the more men seek to establish it by force.

First Name
Jean-Jacques
Last Name
Rousseau
Birth Date
1712
Death Date
1778
Bio

Swiss-born French Philosopher, Novelist, Political Theorist