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Famous quotes from Discourse on the Origin and Basis of Inequality
Among Men (1754)
Also known as A Dissertation On the Origin and
Foundation of the Inequality of Mankind.
- Le premier qui, ayant
enclos un terrain, s'avisa de dire: Ceci est à moi, et trouva des gens
assez simples pour le croire, fut le vrai fondateur de la société civile. Que
de crimes, de guerres, de meurtres, que de misères et d'horreurs n'eût point épargnés
au genre humain celui qui, arrachant les pieux ou comblant le fossé, eût crié
à ses semblables: Gardez-vous d'écouter cet imposteur; vous êtes perdus, si vous
oubliez que les fruits sont à tous, et que la terre n'est à personne.
- Translation: The first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground, bethought
himself of saying This is mine, and found people simple enough to believe
him, was the real founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars, and murders,
from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by
pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows: Beware
of listening to this imposter; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits
of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.
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
- Never exceed your rights, and they will
soon become unlimited.
- Money is the seed of money, and the
first guinea is sometimes more difficult to acquire than the second million.
- I know that [civilized men] do nothing but boast incessantly
of the peace and repose they enjoy in their chains.... But when I see [barbarous
man] sacrifice pleasures, repose, wealth, power, and life itself for the preservation
of this sole good which is so disdained by those who have lost it; when I see
animals born free and despising captivity break their heads against the bars of
their prison; when I see multitudes of entirely naked savages scorn European voluptuousness
and endure hunger, fire, the sword, and death to preserve only their independence,
I feel it does not behoove slaves to reason about freedom.
reality, the difference is, that the savage lives within himself while social
man lives outside himself and can only live in the opinion of others, so that
he seems to receive the feeling of his own existence only from the judgement of
others concerning him. It is not to my present purpose to insist on the indifference
to good and evil which arises from this disposition, in spite of our many fine
works on morality, or to show how, everything being reduced to appearances, there
is but art and mummery in even honour, friendship, virtue, and often vice itself,
of which we at length learn the secret of boasting; to show, in short, how abject
we are, and never daring to ask ourselves in the midst of so much philosophy,
benevolence, politeness, and of such sublime codes of morality, we have nothing
to show for ourselves but a frivolous and deceitful appearance, honour without
virtue, reason without wisdom, and pleasure without happiness.
Treatise on Inequality, translated by Roger D. and Judith R. Masters
quotes from The Social Contract, Or Principles of Political Right (1762)
- L'homme est né libre, et partout il est dans
- Translation: Man is born free; and
everywhere he is in chains.
- Variants: Man is born free, and everywhere
he is in shackles.
Man was born free, but is everywhere in bondage.
- The strongest is never strong enough always
to be master, unless he transforms strength into right, and obedience into duty.
- Variants: The strongest is never strong enough
to be always the master, unless he transforms strength into right, and obedience
The strongest is never strong enough to be always the master, unless
he transforms his strength into right, and obedience into duty.
- I, Ch.
- The right of conquest has no foundation other than
the right of the strongest.
mere impulse of appetite is slavery, while obedience to the law we prescribe to
ourselves is liberty.
- In the
strict sense of the term, a true democracy has never existed, and never will exist.
It is against natural order that the great number should govern and that the few
should be governed.
very right to vote imposes on me the duty to instruct myself in public affair,
however little influence my voice may have in them.
body politic, like the human body, begins to die from its birth, and bears in
itself the causes of its destruction.
- Variant: 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.
- III, Ch. 11
- Good laws lead to the making of better ones; bad ones bring about worse.
- At Genoa, the word Liberty
may be read over the front of the prisons and on the chains of the galley-slaves.
This application of the device is good and just.
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.
quotes from Emile: Or, On Education (1762)
Émile ou De l'éducation
- Tout est bien sortant des mains de l'Auteur des choses, tout dégénère entre
les mains de l'homme.
- Translation: Everything
is good as it leaves the hands of the author of things, everything degenerates
in the hands of man.
- Variants: Everything is good when it leaves the hands
of the Creator; everything degenerates in the hands of man.
God makes all things
good; man meddles with them and they become evil.
- Ch. I
- I shall always maintain that whoso says in his heart, "There is no God," while
takes the name of God upon his lips, is either a liar or a madman.
- L'accent est l'âme du discours.
Accent is the soul of language.
- People who know
little are usually great talkers, while men who know much say little.
- The indifference of children towards meat
is one proof that the taste for meat is unnatural; their preference is for vegetable
foods, such as milk, pastry, fruit, etc. Beware of changing this natural taste
and making children flesh-eaters, if not for their health's sake, for the sake
of their character; for how can one explain away the fact that great meat-eaters
are usually fiercer and more cruel than other men; this has been recognised at
all times and in all places.
wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness?
- Gluttony is the vice of feeble minds. The gourmand has his brains in his palate,
he can do nothing but eat; he is so stupid and incapable that the table is the
only place for him, and dishes are the only things he knows anything about. Let
us leave him to this business without regret; it is better for him and for us.
- The happiest is he who suffers least;
the most miserable is he who enjoys least.
- Nature never deceives us; it is we who deceive ourselves.
- Variant: Nature never deceives us; it is always we who deceive ourselves.
- Ch. III
- There is one book which, to my thinking,
supplies the best treatise on an education according to nature. This is the first
book Emile will read; for a long time it will form his whole library, and it will
always retain an honoured place. It will be the text to which all our talks about
natural science are but the commentary. It will serve to test our progress towards
a right judgment, and it will always be read with delight, so long as our taste
is unspoilt. What is this wonderful book? Is it Aristotle? Pliny? Buffon? No—
it is Robinson Crusoe.
makes more libertines than love.
man who is not a fool can rid himself of every folly except vanity.
- Variant: Provided a man is not mad, he can be cured of every folly but
- Ch. IV
- A man speaks of what he knows,
a woman of what pleases her: the one requires knowledge, the other taste.
- Variant: A man says what he knows, a woman says what will please.
- One could wish no easier death than that of Socrates,
calmly discussing philosophy with his friends; one could fear nothing worse than
that of Jesus, dying in torment, among the insults, the mockery, the curses of
the whole nation. In the midst of these terrible sufferings, Jesus prays for his
cruel murderers. Yes, if the life and death of Socrates are those of a philosopher,
the life and death of Christ are those of a God.
- Variants: If Socrates
lived and died like a philosopher, Jesus lived and died like a God.
died like a philosopher, but Jesus Christ as a God.
Socrates died like a philosopher;
Jesus Christ died like a God.
- Shall we say that
the gospel story is the work of the imagination? My friend, such things are not
imagined; and the doings of Socrates, which no one doubts, are less well attested
than those of Jesus Christ. At best, you only put the difficulty from you; it
would be still more incredible that several persons should have agreed together
to invent such a book, than that there was one man who supplied its subject matter.
The tone and morality of this story are not those of any Jewish authors, and the
gospel indeed contains characters so great, so striking, so entirely inimitable,
that their invention would be more astonishing than their hero. With all this
the same gospel is full of incredible things, things repugnant to reason, things
which no natural man can understand or accept. What can you do among so many contradictions?
You can be modest and wary, my child; respect in silence what you can neither
reject nor understand, and humble yourself in the sight of the Divine Being who
alone knows the truth.
- Where is the man who owes nothing to
the land in which he lives? Whatever that land may be, he owes to it the most
precious thing possessed by man, the morality of his actions and the love of virtue.
Famous quotes from Confessions
of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1770, published 1782)
- I have entered on an enterprise which is without precedent, and will have
no imitator. I propose to show my fellows a man as nature made him, and this man
shall be myself.
- I know my heart, and
have studied mankind; I am not made like any one I have been acquainted with,
perhaps like no one in existence; if not better, I at least claim originality,
and whether Nature did wisely in breaking the mould with which she formed me,
can only be determined after having read this work.
- Variants: I may
not be better than other people, but at least I am different.
If I am not better,
at least I am different.
- Whenever the last trumpet
shall sound, I will present myself before the sovereign judge with this book in
my hand, and loudly proclaim, thus have I acted; these were my thoughts; such
was I. With equal freedom and veracity have I related what was laudable or wicked,
I have concealed no crimes, added no virtues; and if I have sometimes introduced
superfluous ornament, it was merely to occupy a void occasioned by defect of memory:
I may have supposed that certain, which I only knew to be probable, but have never
asserted as truth, a conscious falsehood. Such as I was, I have declared myself;
sometimes vile and despicable, at others, virtuous, generous and sublime; even
as thou hast read my inmost soul: Power eternal! assemble round thy throne an
innumerable throng of my fellow-mortals, let them listen to my confessions, let
them blush at my depravity, let them tremble at my sufferings; let each in his
turn expose with equal sincerity the failings, the wanderings of his heart, and,
if he dare, aver, I was better than that man.
- Variant: 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.
sleeps during a prosperous period but wakes up in adversity.
- Variants: Remorse sleeps during prosperity but awakes bitter consciousness
Remorse goes to sleep during a prosperous period and wakes
up in adversity.
- It is too difficult
to think nobly when one thinks only of earning a living.
- Variant: It is too difficult to think nobly when one only thinks to get
- Hatred, as well as love,
renders its votaries credulous.
remembered the way out suggested by a great princess when told that the peasants
had no bread: "Well, let them eat cake".
At length I recollected the thoughtless saying of a great princess, who, on
being informed that the country people had no bread, replied, "Then let them eat
- This passage contains a statement Qu'ils mangent de la brioche
that has usually come to be attributed to Marie Antoinette; this was written in
1766, when Marie Antoinette was 10 and still 4 years away from her marriage to
Louis XVI of France, and is an account of events of 1740, before she was born.
It also implies the phrase had been long known before that time.
- The thirst after happiness is never extinguished in the heart of man.
- He thinks like a philosopher, but governs
like a king.
- Of Frederick the Great
the musicians of the Ospedale della Pieta (book VII)
includes an account of a visit to the Ospedale della Pietà in Venice.
- A kind of music far superior, in my opinion, to that of operas, and which
in all Italy has not its equal, nor perhaps in the whole world, is that of the
'scuole'. The 'scuole' are houses of charity, established for the education of
young girls without fortune, to whom the republic afterwards gives a portion either
in marriage or for the cloister. Amongst talents cultivated in these young girls,
music is in the first rank. Every Sunday at the church of each of the four 'scuole',
during vespers, motettos or anthems with full choruses, accompanied by a great
orchestra, and composed and directed by the best masters in Italy, are sung in
the galleries by girls only; not one of whom is more than twenty years of age.
I have not an idea of anything so voluptuous and affecting as this music; the
richness of the art, the exquisite taste of the vocal part, the excellence of
the voices, the justness of the execution, everything in these delightful concerts
concurs to produce an impression which certainly is not the mode, but from which
I am of opinion no heart is secure. Carrio and I never failed being present at
these vespers of the 'Mendicanti', and we were not alone. The church was always
full of the lovers of the art, and even the actors of the opera came there to
form their tastes after these excellent models. What vexed me was the iron grate,
which suffered nothing to escape but sounds, and concealed from me the angels
of which they were worthy. I talked of nothing else. One day I spoke of it at
Le Blond's; "If you are so desirous," said he, "to see those little girls, it
will be an easy matter to satisfy your wishes. I am one of the administrators
of the house, I will give you a collation [light meal] with them." I did not let
him rest until he had fulfilled his promise. In entering the saloon, which contained
these beauties I so much sighed to see, I felt a trembling of love which I had
never before experienced. M. le Blond presented to me one after the other, these
celebrated female singers, of whom the names and voices were all with which I
was acquainted. Come, Sophia, —she was horrid. Come, Cattina, —she had but one
eye. Come, Bettina, —the small-pox had entirely disfigured her. Scarcely one of
them was without some striking defect.
Le Blond laughed at my surprise;
however, two or three of them appeared tolerable; these never sung but in the
choruses; I was almost in despair. During the collation we endeavored to excite
them, and they soon became enlivened; ugliness does not exclude the graces, and
I found they possessed them. I said to myself, they cannot sing in this manner
without intelligence and sensibility, they must have both; in fine, my manner
of seeing them changed to such a degree that I left the house almost in love with
each of these ugly faces. I had scarcely courage enough to return to vespers.
But after having seen the girls, the danger was lessened. I still found their
singing delightful; and their voices so much embellished their persons that, in
spite of my eyes, I obstinately continued to think them beautiful.
- A country cannot subsist well without liberty,
nor liberty without virtue.
- A feeble body weakens the mind.
- Absolute silence leads to sadness. It is the image of death.
- Accent is the soul of language; it gives to it both feeling
- All of my misfortunes come from having thought too
well of my fellows.
- All that time is lost which might be better
- Although modesty is natural to man, it is not natural
to children. Modesty only begins with the knowledge of evil.
honest man nearly always thinks justly.
- As long as there
are rich people in the world, they will be desirous of distinguishing themselves
from the poor.
- 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.
- At sixteen, the adolescent knows about suffering because he himself has suffered,
but he barely know that other being also suffer; seeing without feeling is not
- Base souls have no faith in great individuals.
- Childhood is the sleep of reason.
are the abyss of the human species.
- Conscience is the voice
of the soul; the passions of the body.
- Variant: Conscience is the
voice of the soul; the passions are the voice of the body.
- Do not judge, and you will never be mistaken.
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
- Variant: Every man has a right to risk his own life for
the preservation of it.
- Every state funeral that
shines is on its decline.
- Falsehood has an infinity of combinations,
but truth has only one mode of being.
- Fame is but the breath
of people, and that often unwholesome.
- Finance is a slave's
- Force does not constitute right... obedience is due
only to legitimate powers.
- Free people, remember this maxim:
We may acquire liberty, but it is never recovered if it is once lost.
- General and abstract ideas are the source of the greatest errors of mankind.
- Government originated in the attempt to find a form of association
that defends and protects the person and property of each with the common force
- Gratitude is a duty which ought to be paid, but
which none have a right to expect.
- 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.
- Happiness: a good bank account, a good cook and a good digestion.
- He who is most slow in making a promise is the most faithful in performance
of it. ** Variants: He who is slowest in making a promise is most faithful
in its performance.
He who is the most slow in making a promise is the most
faithful in the performance of it.
- He who pretends to look
upon death without fear, lies.
- Heroes are not known by the
loftiness of their carriage; the greatest braggarts are generally the merest cowards.
- Variant: The greatest braggarts are usually the biggest cowards.
- How many famous and high-spirited heroes have lived
a day too long?
- However great a man's natural talent may be,
the act of writing cannot be learned all at once.
- 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.
- I hate
books; they only teach us to talk about things we know nothing about.
- I have always believed that good is only beauty put into practice.
- I have always said and felt that true enjoyment can not be described.
- I have suffered too much in this world not to hope for another.
- I prefer liberty with danger than peace with slavery.
are the arguments employed by those who are in the wrong.
is not the criminal things which are hardest to confess, but the ridiculous and
- It is to law alone that men owe justice and liberty.
It is this salutary organ, of the will of all which establishes in civil rights
the natural equality between men. It is this celestial voice which dictates to
each citizen the precepts of public reason, and teaches him to act according to
the rules of his own judgment and not to behave inconsistently with himself. It
is with this voice alone that political leaders should speak when they command.
- It is unnatural for a majority to rule, for a majority can
seldom be organized and united for specific action, and a minority can.
- Liberty is obedience to the law which one has laid down for oneself.
- Little privations are easily endured when the heart is better treated than
- Living is not breathing but doing.
- Men and nations can only be reformed in their youth; they become incorrigible
as they grow old.
- Men will argue more philosophically about
the human heart; but women will read the heart of man better than they.
- Most nations, as well as people are impossible only in their youth; they become
incorrigible as they grow older.
- My liveliest delight is in
having conquered myself.
- Nothing is less in our power than
the heart, and far from commanding we are forced to obey it.
is only happy before he is happy.
- One loses all the time which
he might employ to better purpose.
- Our affections as well as
our bodies are in perpetual flux.
- Our greatest evils flow from
- Our will is always for our own good, but we do not
always see what that is.
- Patience is bitter, but its fruit
- 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.
lose everything in their chains, even the desire of escaping from them.
- Supreme happiness consists in self-content.
- Take from the
philosopher the pleasure of being heard and his desire for knowledge ceases.
- Take the course opposite to custom and you will almost always do well.
- Taste is, so to speak, the microscope of the judgment.
are more injurious to liberty than manual labor.
and labor are the two best physicians of man; labor sharpens the appetite and
temperance prevents from indulging to excess.
- The English are
predisposed to pride, the French to vanity.
- 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.
- Variant: The English
think they are free. They are free only during the election of members of parliament.
- 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.
- The less reasonable a cult is, the more
men seek to establish it by force.
- 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.
- The mechanism she employs
is much more powerful than ours, for all her levers move the human heart.
- The person who has lived the most is not the one who has lived the longest,
but the one with the richest experiences.
- The person who has lived the
most is not the one with the most years but the one with the richest experiences.
- The person who is slowest in
making a promise is most faithful in its performance.
- Those that are most
slow in making a promise are the most faithful in the performance of it.
- The right of conquest has no foundation other than the right of the strongest.
- The training of children is a profession, where we must know
how to waste time in order to save it.
- The world of reality
has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.
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?.
- 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.
- This novel is not to be tossed lightly aside, but hurled with great force.
- To endure is the first thing that a child ought to learn, and
that which he will have the most need to know.
- 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.
- * To live is not breathing; it is action.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Truth is no road to fortune.
- Universal silence must be taken to imply the consent of the
- Virtue is a state of war, and to live in it we have
always to combat with ourselves.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
are born, so to speak, twice over; born into existence, and born into life; born
a human being, and born a man.
- We do not know what is really
good or bad fortune.
- We pity in others only the those evils
which we ourselves have experienced.
- We pity in others only those evils
which we have ourselves experienced.
- We should
not teach children the sciences; but give them a taste for them.
- When a man dies he clutches in his hands only that which he has given away
during his lifetime.
- When something an affliction happens to
you, you either let it defeat you, or you defeat it.
- When the
people shall have nothing more to eat, they will eat the rich.
to Rousseau as being from a "Speech at the commune on the 14th of October" in
The history of the French revolution. By M. A. Thiers. Translated, with notes
and illustrations from the most authentic sources, by Frederick Shoberl., Thiers,
Adolphe, 1797-1877., page 359
- Whoever blushes is already
guilty; true innocence is ashamed of nothing.
- Variant: Whoever blushes
confesses guilt, true innocence never feels shame.
- With children use force with men reason; such is the natural order of things.
The wise man requires no law.
- Women, in general, are not attracted
to art at all, nor knowledge, and not at all to genius.
are worried about seeing him spend his early years in doing nothing. What! Is
it nothing to be happy? Nothing to skip, play, and run around all day long? Never
in his life will he be so busy again.
- You forget that the fruits
belong to all and that the land belongs to no one.
- Your first
appearance, he said to me, is the gauge by which you will be measured; try to
manage that you may go beyond yourself in after times, but beware of ever doing
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