123+ Best Jean Jacques Rousseau Quotes: Exclusive Selection

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Genevan philosopher, writer and composer. His political philosophy influenced the progress of the Enlightenment throughout Europe, as well as aspects of the French Revolution and the development of modern political, economic and educational thought. Profoundly inspirational Jean Jacques Rousseau quotes will challenge the way you think and help you live a meaningful life.

Famous Jean Jacques Rousseau Quotes

A child who passes through many hands in turn, can never be well brought up. At every change he makes a secret comparison, which continually tends to lessen his respect for those who control him, and with it their authority over him. If once he thinks there are grown-up people with no more sense than children the authority of age is destroyed and his education is ruined. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

When anything happens, we interpret it as good or bad, but. We do not know what is really good or bad fortune. Only the future can decide. For example, what appears to be bad today may in fact lead us to a greater good tomorrow and by the very act of thinking and planning in that positive way, we can help make that good future come true. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

He who pretends to look on death without fear lies. All men are afraid of dying, this is the great law of sentient beings, without which the entire human species would soon be destroyed. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Teach him to live rather than to avoid death: life is not breath, but action, the use of our senses, our mind, our faculties, every part of ourselves which makes us conscious of our being. Life consists less in length of days than in the keen sense of living. A man maybe buried at a hundred and may never have lived at all. He would have fared better had he died young. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

It is manifestly contrary to the law of nature, however defined, that a handful of people should gorge themselves with superfluities while the hungry majority goes in need of necessities. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Heroes are not known by the loftiness of their carriage; the greatest braggarts are generally the merest cowards. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

No man has any natural authority over his fellow men. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

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. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

If, by chance, someone among those men of extraordinary talent is found who has firmness of soul and who refuses to yield to the genius of his age and to debase himself with childish works, woe unto him! He will die in poverty and oblivion. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

The French, for example, are a contemptible nation. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Every man having been born free and master of himself, no one else may under any pretext whatever subject him without his consent. To assert that the son of a slave is born a slave is to assert that he is not born a man. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

One may live tranquilly in a dungeon; but does life consist in living quietly? – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

There are always four sides to a story: your side, their side, the truth and what really happened. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Ah, that is a perfume in which I delight; when they roast coffee near my house, I hasten to open the door to take in all the aroma. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

The freedom of Mankind does not lie in the fact that can do what we want, but that we do not have to do that which we do not want. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Do not base your life on the judgments of others; first, because they are as likely to be mistaken as you are, and further, because you cannot know that they are telling you their true thoughts. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Peter had a genius for imitation; but he lacked true genius, which is creative and makes all from nothing. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

We have to have powder for our wigs; that is why so many poor people have no bread. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

An intelligent being, is the active principle of all things. One must have renounced all common sense to doubt it, and it is a waste of time to try to prove such self evident truth. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

The man who gets the most out of life is not the one who has lived it longest, but the one who has felt life most deeply. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

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

The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Teach your scholar to observe the phenomena of nature; you will soon rouse his curiosity, but if you would have it grow, do not be in too great a hurry to satisfy this curiosity. Put the problems before him and let him solve them himself. Let him know nothing because you have told him, but because he has learnt it for himself. Let him not be taught science, let him discover it. If ever you substitute authority for reason he will cease to reason; he will be a mere plaything of other people’s thoughts. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

This dog, which, although no beauty, was of an uncommon breed, I had made my friend and companion; and it certainly deserved the name better than the majority of those who had assumed it. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

I hate books; they only teach us to talk about things we know nothing about. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

I perceive God everywhere in His works. I sense Him in me; I see Him all around me. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Take the course opposite to custom and you will almost always do well. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Conscience is the voice of the soul, the passions are the voice of the body. Is it astonishing that often these two languages contradict each other, and then to which must we listen? Too often reason deceives us; we have only too much acquired the right of refusing to listen to it; but conscience never deceives us; it is the true guide of man; it is to man what instinct is to the body; which follows it, obeys nature, and never is afraid of going astray. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

All through life a man has need of a counsellor and guide. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Interest is the spur of the people, but glory that of great souls. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Remorse sleeps during prosperity but awakes bitter consciousness during adversity. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

General abstract truth is the most precious of all blessings; without it, man is blind; it is the eye of reason. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

It is well known that a loose and easy dress contributes much to give to both sexes those fine proportions of body that are observable in the Grecian statues, and which serve as models to our present artists. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

When a man dies he clutches in his hands only that which he has given away during his lifetime. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

You forget that the fruits belong to all and that the land belongs to no one. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

The money that we possess is the instrument of liberty, that which we lack and strive to obtain is the instrument of slavery. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

I prefer liberty with danger than peace with slavery. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

There is no evildoer who could not be made good for something. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Those people who treat politics and morality separately will never understand either of them. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Provided a man is not mad, he can be cured of every folly but vanity; there is no cure for this but experience, if indeed there is any cure for it at all. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

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. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Men will argue more philosophically about the human heart; but women will read the heart of man better than they. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Laws are always useful to those who possess and vexatious to those who have nothing. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Gratitude is a duty which ought to be paid, but which none have a right to expect. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

If there wasn’t a God, we would have to invent one to keep people sane. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

It is unnatural for a majority to rule, for a majority can seldom be organized and united for specific action, and a minority can. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

People in their natural state are basically good. But this natural innocence, however, is corrupted by the evils of society. – 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

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

The tone of good conversation is brilliant and natural; it is neither tedious nor frivolous; it is instructive without pedantry, gay without tumultuousness, polished without affectation, gallant without insipidity, waggish without equivocation. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Free people, remember this maxim: we may acquire liberty, but it is never recovered if it is once lost. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

I have suffered too much in this world not to hope for another. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

The bigger a state becomes the more liberty diminishes. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Quit thy childhood, my friend, and wake up! – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Nature wants children to be children before men… Childhood has its own seeing, thinking and feeling. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Plants are shaped by cultivation and men by education. .. We are born weak, we need strength; we are born totally unprovided, we need aid; we are born stupid, we need judgment. Everything we do not have at our birth and which we need when we are grown is given us by education. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

We cannot teach children the danger of telling lies to men without realising, on the man’s part, the danger of telling lies to children. A single untruth on the part of the master will destroy the results of his education. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

But I am mistaken in speaking of a Christian republic; the terms are mutually exclusive. Christianity preaches only servitude and dependence. Its spirit is so favorable to tyranny that it always profits by such a regime. True Christians are made to be slaves, and they know it and do not much mind; this short life counts for too little in their eyes. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

I had been brought up in a church which decides everything and permits no doubts, so that having rejected one article of faith I was forced to reject the rest. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Virtue is a state of war, and to live in it we have always to combat with ourselves. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Socrates dies with honor, surrounded by his disciples listening to the most tender words -the easiest death that one could wish to die. Jesus dies in pain, dishonor, mockery, the object of universal cursing – the most horrible death that one could fear. At the receipt of the cup of poison, Socrates blesses him who could not give it to him without tears; Jesus, while suffering the sharpest pains, prays for His most bitter enemies. If Socrates lived and died like a philosopher, Jesus lived and died like a god. – 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

By doing good we become good. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

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 death. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

He thinks like a philosopher but governs like a king. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

To be sane in a world of madman is in itself madness. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

The social pact, far from destroying natural equality, substitutes, on the contrary, a moral and lawful equality for whatever physical inequality that nature may have imposed on mankind; so that however unequal in strength and intelligence, men become equal by covenant and by right. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

To endure is the first thing that a child ought to learn, and that which he will have the most need to know. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

The first person who, having enclosed a plot of land, took it into his head to say this is mine and found people simple enough to believe him was the true founder of civil society. What crimes, wars, murders, what miseries and horrors would the human race have been spared, had some one pulled up the stakes or filled in the ditch and cried out to his fellow men: Do not listen to this imposter. You are lost if you forget that the fruits of the earth belong to all and the earth to no one! – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Christ preaches only servitude and dependence… True Christians are made to be slaves. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

In the North the first words are, help me; in the South, Love me. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

People who know little are usually great talkers, while men who know much say little. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness? – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Love childhood, indulge its sports, its pleasures, its delightful instincts. Who has not sometimes regretted that age when laughter was ever on the lips, and when the heart was ever at peace? – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Let it not, therefore, be said that the Sovereign is not subject to the laws of his State; since the contrary is a true proposition of the right of nations, which flattery has sometimes attacked but good princes have always defended as the tutelary divinity of their dominions. How much more legitimate is it to say with the wise Plato, that the perfect felicity of a kingdom consists in the obedience of subjects to their prince, and of the prince to the laws, and in the laws being just and constantly directed to the public good! – 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

I may be no better, but at least I am different. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Civilization is a hopeless race to discover remedies for the evils it produces. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Do you not know that a child badly taught is farther from being wise than one not taught at all? – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Every free action has two causes that come together to produce it. One is moral, the will that determines the act; the other is physical, the power that executes the will to act. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

For, as I think I have said, I can only meditate when I am walking. When I stop, I cease to think; my mind only works with my legs. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

It is a mania shared by philosophers of all ages to deny what exists and to explain what does not exist. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

That man is truly free who desires what he is able to perform and does what he desires. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

God made me and broke the mold. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

In all the ills that befall us, we are more concerned by the intention than the result. A tile that falls off a roof may injure us more seriously, but it will not wound us so deeply as a stone thrown deliberately by a malevolent hand. The blow may miss, but the intention always strikes home. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

The more humanity owes him, the more society denies him. Every door is shut against him, even when he has a right to its being opened: and if he ever obtains justice, it is with much greater difficulty than others obtain favors. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Happiness: a good bank account, a good cook, and a good digestion. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Jewish authors would never have invented either that style nor that morality; and the Gospel has marks of truth so great, so striking, so utterly inimitable, that the invention of it would be more astonishing than the hero. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Do to others as you would have others do to you, inspires all men with that other maxim of natural goodness a great deal less perfect, but perhaps more useful: Do good to yourself with as little prejudice as you can to others. – 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

From the first moment of life, men ought to begin learning to deserve to live; and, as at the instant of birth we partake of the rights of citizenship, that instant ought to be the beginning of the exercise of our duty. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Finance is a slave’s word. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Consolation indiscreetly pressed upon us, when we are suffering undue affliction, only serves to increase our pain, and to render our grief more poignant. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Temperance and labor are the two best physicians of man; labor sharpens the appetite, and temperance prevents from indulging to excess – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

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? – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Truth is an homage that the good man pays to his own dignity. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Abstaining so as really to enjoy, is the epicurism, the very perfection, of reason. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

I love idleness. I love to busy myself about trifles, to begin a hundred things and not finish one of them, to come and go as my fancy bids me, to change my plan every moment, to follow a fly in all its circlings, to try and uproot a rock to see what is underneath, eagerly to begin a ten-years’ task to give it up after ten minutes: in short, to fritter away the whole day inconsequentially and incoherently, and to follow nothing but the whim of the moment. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

You 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. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Definitions would be good things if we did not use words to make them. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

The animals you eat are not those who devour others; you do not eat the carnivorous beasts, you take them as your pattern. You only hunger for the sweet and gentle creatures which harm no one, which follow you, serve you, and are devoured by you as the reward of their service. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Reason deceives us; conscience, never. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Money is the seed of money, and the first guinea is sometimes more difficult to acquire than the second million. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Never did I think so much, exist so much, be myself so much as in the journeys I have made alone and on foot. Walking has something about it which animates and enlivens my ideas. I can hardly think while I am still; my body must be in motion to move my mind. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Insults are the arguments employed by those who are in the wrong. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Do not judge, and you will never be mistaken. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

We are reduced to asking others what we are. We never dare to ask ourselves. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

The strength of the people is effective only if it is concentrated; it evaporates and is lost when it is dispersed, just as gunpowder scattered on the ground ignites only grain by grain. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Equality, because without it there can be no liberty. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Being wealthy isn’t just a question of having lots of money. It’s a question of what we want. Wealth isn’t an absolute, it’s relative to desire. Every time we seek something that we can’t afford, we can be counted as poor, how much money we may actually have. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Every man has a right to risk his own life for the preservation of it. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

The training of children is a profession, where we must know how to waste time in order to save it. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Freedom is the power to choose our own chains – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

I was not much afraid of punishment, I was only afraid of disgrace. But that I feared more than death, more than crime, more than anything in the world. I should have rejoiced if the earth had swallowed me up and stifled me in the abyss. But my invincible sense of shame prevailed over everything. It was my shame that made me impudent, and the more wickedly I behaved the bolder my fear of confession made me. I saw nothing but the horror of being found out, of being publicly proclaimed, to my face, as a thief, as a liar, and slanderer. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

It is in man’s heart that the life of nature’s spectacle exists; to see it, one must feel it. – 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

Teach by doing whenever you can, and only fall back upon words when doing it is out of the question. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Supreme happiness consists in self-content. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

One thinks himself the master of others, and still remains a greater slave than they. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

The world is the book of women. Whatever knowledge they may possess is more commonly acquired by observation than by reading. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

All kinds of frankness and honesty are terrible crimes in the eyes of society. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

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