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Top quotes By Jean-Jacques Rousseau on man, human nature, inequality, direct democracy and other things.

98 Top Quotes By Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Author Of The Social Contract

Quick Facts

Famous As: Philosopher, Writer, & Composer

Born On: June 28, 1712

Died On: July 2, 1778

Born In: Geneva

Died At Age: 66

Jean Jacques Rousseau was a philosopher, author, political theorist and music composer from the then Republic of Geneva, who lived in the 18th century and is credited for inspiring some of the most significant events of the time. He wrote in the French language and his works on political philosophy were one of the biggest influences on the ‘Enlightenment’ that ushered in a cultural revolution in the mainland Europe. One of his most celebrated works is ‘Emile, or On Education’ which dealt with the subject of education as the name suggests. However, it is in the areas of sociology and politics that he made his most remarkable contributions. He laid down his thoughts on those subjects in the books ‘The Social Contract’ and ‘Discourse on Inequality’. Rousseau was also a forceful orator, who could articulate his thoughts clearly and logically and emerged as one of the most influential voices during the period of the French Revolution. It is in fact a well-known fact that his thoughts had a profound effect on the rebellion that took place in 1789. Needless to say, Rousseau’s work, thoughts, theories and speeches left behind a veritable treat as far as quotes are concerned and here are the most profound ones. 

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

Jean Jacques Rousseau

I prefer liberty with danger than peace with slavery.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

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

Jean Jacques Rousseau

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.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

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

Jean Jacques Rousseau

What wisdom can you find greater than kindness.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

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

Jean Jacques Rousseau

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

Jean Jacques Rousseau

Every person has a right to risk their own life for the preservation of it.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

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.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

Or, rather, let us be more simple and less vain.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

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

Jean Jacques Rousseau

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

Jean Jacques Rousseau

Man was born free, and he is everywhere in chains. Those who think themselves the masters of others are indeed greater slaves than they.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

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

Jean Jacques Rousseau

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

Jean Jacques Rousseau

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

Jean Jacques Rousseau

I perceive God everywhere in His works. I sense Him in me; I see Him all around me.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

...in respect of riches, no citizen shall ever be wealthy enough to buy another, and none poor enough to be forced to sell himself.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

Trust your heart rather than your head.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

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

Jean Jacques Rousseau

I have never thought, for my part, that man's freedom consists in his being able to do whatever he wills, but that he should not, by any human power, be forced to do what is against his will.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

The truth brings no man a fortune.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

There is nothing better than the encouragement of a good friend.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

Love, known to the person by whom it is inspired, becomes more bearable.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

There are times when I am so unlike myself that I might be taken for someone else of an entirely opposite character.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

As 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.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

We must powder our wigs; that is why so many poor people have no bread.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

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

Jean Jacques Rousseau

A born king is a very rare being.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

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.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

She was dull, unattractive, couldn't tell the time, count money or tie her own shoe laces... But I loved her

Jean Jacques Rousseau

To renounce freedom is to renounce one's humanity, one's rights as a man and equally one's duties.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

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

Jean Jacques Rousseau

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.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

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

Jean Jacques Rousseau

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

Jean Jacques Rousseau

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 guarantee of impunity.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

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

Jean Jacques Rousseau

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

Jean Jacques Rousseau

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

Jean Jacques Rousseau

If there were a nation of Gods, it would govern itself democratically. A government so perfect is not suited to men.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

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

Jean Jacques Rousseau

All wickedness comes from weakness. The child is wicked only because he is weak. Make him strong; he will be good. He who could do everything would never do harm.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

The "sociable" man, always outside himself, is capable of living only in the opinions of others and, so to speak, derives the sentiment of his own existence solely from their judgment.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

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

Jean Jacques Rousseau

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

Jean Jacques Rousseau

I say to myself: "Who are you to measure infinite power?

Jean Jacques Rousseau

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

Jean Jacques Rousseau

Every artists wants to be applauded

Jean Jacques Rousseau

Liberty may be gained, but can never be recovered." (Bk2:8)

Jean Jacques Rousseau

The people of England regards itself as free; but it is grossly mistaken; it is free only during the election of members of parliament. As soon as they are elected, slavery overtakes it, and it is nothing.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

MAN is born free; and everywhere he is in chains. One thinks himself the master of others, and still remains a greater slave than they.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

Our will is always for our own good, but we do not always see what that is; the people is never corrupted, but it is often deceived..." (Bk2:3)

Jean Jacques Rousseau

What good would it be to possess the whole universe if one were its only survivor?

Jean Jacques Rousseau

Nature made me happy and good, and if I am otherwise, it is society's fault.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

Finance is a slave's word.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

If force compels obedience, there is no need to invoke a duty to obey, and if force ceases to compel obedience, there is no longer any obligation.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

Man is born free but today everywhere he is in chains.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

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.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

He who blushes is already guilty.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

The more ingenious our apparatus, the coarser and more unskillful are our senses.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

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

Jean Jacques Rousseau

However great a man's natural talent may be, the act of writing cannot be learned all at once.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

[T]he man who meditates is a depraved animal.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

To write a love letter, you have to start, without knowing, what you want to say, and end, without knowing what you have said.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

My love for imaginary objects and my facility in lending myself to them ended by disillusioning me with everything around me, and determined that love of solitude which I have retained ever since that time.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

Among the many short cuts to science, we badly need someone to teach us the art of learning with difficulty.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

I can discover nothing in any mere animal but an ingenious machine, to which nature has given senses to wind itself up, and guard, to a certain degree, against everything that might destroy or disorder it.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

I don't know how this lively and dumb scene would have ended , or how long I might have remained immoveable in this ridiculous and delightful situation , had we not been interrupted.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

Happiness requires three things, a good bank account, a good cook, and good digestion.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

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.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

Nothing on this earth is worth buying at the price of human blood.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

For if men needed speech in order to learn to think, they had a still greater need for knowing how to think in order to discover the art of speaking" - Rousseau

Jean Jacques Rousseau

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

Jean Jacques Rousseau

More than half of my life is past; I have left only the time I need for turning the rest of it to account and for effacing my errors by my virtues.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

It is difficult for an education in which the heart is involved to remain forever lost.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

If he who has control of men ought not to control the laws, then he who controls the laws ought not control men: otherwise his laws would minister to his passions..

Jean Jacques Rousseau

The first sentiment of man was that of his existence, his first care that of preserving it.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

When one has suffered or fears suffering, one pities those who suffer; but when one is suffering, one pities only oneself.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

It is pity in which the state of nature takes the place of laws, morals and virtues, with the added advantage that no one there is tempted to disobey its gentle voice.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

But in some great souls, who consider themselves as citizens of the world, and forcing the imaginary barriers that separate people from people...

Jean Jacques Rousseau

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

Jean Jacques Rousseau

To live is not to breathe but to act.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

Liberty is like rich food and strong wine: the strong natures accustomed to them thrive and grow even stronger on them; but they deplete, inebriate and destroy the weak.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

The former breathes only peace and liberty; he desires only to live and be free from labor; even the ataraxia of the Stoic falls far short of his profound indifference to every other object.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

How could I become wicked, when I had nothing but examples of gentleness before my eyes, and none around me but the best people in the world?

Jean Jacques Rousseau

Hatred, as well as love, renders its votaries credulous.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

Het is heel moeilijk iemand tot gehoorzaamheid te brengen die niet zlf zoekt te bevelen. Ook met het handigste beleid slaagt men er niet in mensen te onderwerpen die slechts vrij willen zijn.

Jean Jacques Rousseau

Gambling is only the resource of those who do not know what to do with themselves

Jean Jacques Rousseau

Oh, man! Live your own life and no longer be wretched!

Jean Jacques Rousseau