Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778)

“What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness?”

“Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains.”

“I may not be better than other people, but at least I’m different.”

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

“To live is not merely to breathe; it is to act; it is to make use of our organs, senses, faculties – of all those parts of ourselves which give us the feeling of existence.”

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

“Conscience is the voice of the soul; the passions are the voice of the body.”

“He who is most slow in making a promise is the most faithful in performance of it.”

“Our greatest evil flows from ourselves.”

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

“I prefer liberty with danger than peace with slavery.”

“Watch a cat when it enters a room for the first time. It searches and smells about, it is not quiet for a moment, it trusts nothing until it has examined and made acquaintance with everything.”

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

“Do not judge, and you will never be mistaken.”

“True Christians are made to be slaves, and they know it and do not mind; this short life counts for too little in their eyes.”

“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.”

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

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

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

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

“The person who has lived the most is not the one who has lived the longest, but the one with the richest experiences.”

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

“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.”

“God made me and broke the mold.”

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

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

“The training of children is a profession, where we must know how to waste time in order to save it.”

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

“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?”

“When something an affliction happens to you, you either let it defeat you, or you defeat it.”

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

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

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

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

“Force does not constitute right… obedience is due only to legitimate powers.”

“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.”

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

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

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

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

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

“The first man who, having fenced in a piece of land, said “This is mine,” and found people naive enough to believe him, that man was the true founder of civil society.”

“As long as there are rich people in the world, they will be desirous of distinguishing themselves from the poor.”

“How many famous and high-spirited heroes have lived a day too long?”

“To live is not breathing it is action.”

“At sixteen, the adolescent knows about suffering because he himself has suffered, but he barely knows that other beings also suffer.”

“Whoever blushes confesses guilt, true innocence never feels shame.”

“The person who is slowest in making a promise is most faithful in its performance.”

“Childhood is the sleep of reason.”

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

“Cities are the abyss of the human species.”

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

“I have always said and felt that true enjoyment can not be described.”

“A country cannot subsist well without liberty, nor liberty without virtue.”

“The English people believes itself to be free; it is gravely mistaken; it is free only during election of members of parliament; as soon as the members are elected, the people is enslaved; it is nothing. In the brief moment of its freedom, the English people makes such a use of that freedom that it deserves to lose it.”

“War then, is a relation – not between man and man: but between state and state; and individuals are enemies only accidentally: not as men, nor even as citizens: but as soldiers; not as members of their country, but as its defenders.”

“Nature never deceives us; it is always we who deceive ourselves”

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

“We pity in others only those evils which we have ourselves experienced.”

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

“Although modesty is natural to man, it is not natural to children. Modesty only begins with the knowledge of evil.”

“Money is the seed of money.”

“Our will is always for our own good, but we do not always see what that is.”

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

“Our affections as well as our bodies are in perpetual flux.”

“However great a man’s natural talent may be, the art of writing cannot be learned all at once.”

“Little privations are easily endured when the heart is better treated than the body.”

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

“I have always believed that good is only beauty put into practice.”

“Provided a man is not mad, he can be cured of every folly but vanity.”

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

“The strongest is never strong enough always to be master, unless he transforms strength into right, and obedience into duty.”

“An honest man nearly always thinks justly.”

“We should not teach children the sciences; but give them a taste for them.”

“One is only happy before he is happy.”

“We are born, so to speak, twice over; born into existence, and born into life; born a human being, and born a man.”

“Remorse goes to sleep during a prosperous period and wakes up in adversity.”

“As soon as public service ceases to be the chief business of the citizens, and they would rather serve with their money than with their persons, the State is not far from its fall.”

“God makes all things good; man meddles with them and they become evil.”

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

“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.”

“The greatest braggarts are usually the biggest cowards.”

“Good laws lead to the making of better ones; bad ones bring about worse.”

“Reading, solitude, idleness, a soft and sedentary life, intercourse with women and young people, these are perilous paths for a young man, and these lead him constantly into danger.”

“Heroes are not known by the loftiness of their carriage; the greatest braggarts are generally the merest cowards.”

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

“The happiest is the person who suffers the least pain; the most miserable who enjoys the least pleasure.”

“Leave those vain moralists, my friend, and return to the depth of your soul: that is where you will always rediscover the source of the sacred fire which so often inflamed us with love of the sublime virtues; that is where you will see the eternal image of true beauty, the contemplation of which inspires us with a holy enthusiasm.”

“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.”

“There are two things to be considered with regard to any scheme. In the first place, ”Is it good in itself?” In the second, ”Can it be easily put into practice?””

“Everything is good when it leaves the hands of the Creator; everything degenerates in the hands of man.”

“It is not the criminal things which are hardest to confess, but the ridiculous and shameful.”

“We do not know what is really good or bad fortune.”

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

“With children use force with men reason; such is the natural order of things. The wise man requires no law.”

“Base souls have no faith in great individuals.”

“Most nations, as well as people are impossible only in their youth; they become incorrigible as they grow older.”

“Take from the philosopher the pleasure of being heard and his desire for knowledge ceases.”

“The English think they are free. They are free only during the election of members of parliament.”

“We pity in others only the those evils which we ourselves have experienced.”

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

“Temperance and labor are the two real physicians of man.”

“Man was born free, but is everywhere in bondage.”

“General and abstract ideas are the source of the greatest errors of mankind.”

“A feeble body weakens the mind.”

“Man is born free, yet he is everywhere in chains.”

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

“Our greatest evils flow from ourselves.”

“Fame is but the breath of people, and that often unwholesome.”

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

“Endurance and to be able to endure is the first lesson a child should learn because it’s the one they will most need to know.”

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

“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.”

“Let the trumpet of the day of judgment sound when it will, I shall appear with this book in my hand before the Sovereign Judge, and cry with a loud voice, This is my work, there were my thoughts, and thus was I. I have freely told both the good and the bad, have hid nothing wicked, added nothing good.”

“Remorse sleeps during prosperity but awakes bitter consciousness during adversity.”

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

“Truth is no road to fortune.”

“Every state funeral that shines is on its decline.”

“The man who has lived the longest is not he who has spent the greatest number of years, but he who has had the greatest sensibility of life.”

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

“All that time is lost which might be better employed.”


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