Jean-Jacques Rousseau
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"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...might not anyone have saved mankind by pulling up the stakes...and crying to his fellows, 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". -Rousseau

I think Rousseau was 250 years ahead of his time. He was the first voice I came across that developed the thesis that human nature was not fallen but that our institutions failed the development of a natural goodness in man.

"Has the advancement of civilization tended to corrupt or improve morals?" ( 1749 the Academy of Dijon). He (Rousseau) would argue for (what became) his charistic thesis- that a mounting corruption went hand in hand with the progress of the arts and sciences in a society wanting in justice and liberty. He went on to affirm that while primitive man (Rousseau's noble savage) in the distant past had been "naturally good" and free, and the present order of society made men increasing vile and unhappy. Man must somehow strive to win back the rights of nature and the primordial equality he once enjoyed."-Mathew Josephson, THE ESSENTIAL ROUSSEAU, Introduction p.xiv Mentor 1974


QUOTATIONS BY JEAN-JACQUES ROUSSEAU

"Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains."-Rousseau

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. -Rousseau

Get rid of the miracles and the whole world will fall at the feet of Christ-Rousseau

"Every useless amusement is an evil for a being whose life is so short and whose time is so pressing." -Rousseau

The letter kills the spirit makes alive.- Rousseau

There is hardly any inequality among men in the state of nature.-Rousseau

Civilized man is born, lives and dies in slavery; at birth he is confined in swaddling clothes; at death is nailed to a coffin: [in between]...fettered by institutions.-Rousseau

Laws are always useful to those who own, and injurious to those who do not. Laws give the week new burdens, and the strong new powers; they irretrievably destroy natural freedom, establish in perpetuity the law of property and inequality, turn a clever usurpation into a irrevocable right, bring the whole future race under the yoke of labor, slavery and money. -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...might not anyone have saved mankind by pulling up the stakes...and crying to his fellows, 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. -Rousseau

The poet tells us it was gold and silver, but for the philosopher it was iron and corn which first civilized, and ruined humanity.-Rousseau

I am commencing an undertaking, hitherto without precedent... myself. -Rousseau

In the strict sense of the term, a true democracy has never existed, and will never exist. It is against natural order that the great number should govern and that the few should be governed.- Rousseau

 

 

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