Quotes from Emile or On Education

Jean-Jacques Rousseau ·  512 pages

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“I would rather be a man of paradoxes than a man of prejudices.”
― Jean-Jacques Rousseau, quote from Emile or On Education


“To live is not to breathe but to act. It is to make use of our organs, our senses, our faculties, of all the parts of ourselves which give us the sentiment of our existence. The man who has lived the most is not he who has counted the most years but he who has most felt life.”
― Jean-Jacques Rousseau, quote from Emile or On Education


“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, quote from Emile or On Education


“Hold childhood in reverence, and do not be in any hurry to judge it for good or ill. Leave exceptional cases to show themselves, let their qualities be tested and confirmed, before special methods are adopted. Give nature time to work before you take over her business, lest you interfere with her dealings. You assert that you know the value of time and are afraid to waste it. You fail to perceive that it is a greater waste of time to use it ill than to do nothing, and that a child ill taught is further from virtue than a child who has learnt nothing at all. You are afraid to see him spending his early years doing nothing. What! is it nothing to be happy, nothing to run and jump all day? He will never be so busy again all his life long. Plato, in his Republic, which is considered so stern, teaches the children only through festivals, games, songs, and amusements. It seems as if he had accomplished his purpose when he had taught them to be happy; and Seneca, speaking of the Roman lads in olden days, says, "They were always on their feet, they were never taught anything which kept them sitting." Were they any the worse for it in manhood? Do not be afraid, therefore, of this so-called idleness. What would you think of a man who refused to sleep lest he should waste part of his life? You would say, "He is mad; he is not enjoying his life, he is robbing himself of part of it; to avoid sleep he is hastening his death." Remember that these two cases are alike, and that childhood is the sleep of reason.

The apparent ease with which children learn is their ruin. You fail to see that this very facility proves that they are not learning. Their shining, polished brain reflects, as in a mirror, the things you show them, but nothing sinks in. The child remembers the words and the ideas are reflected back; his hearers understand them, but to him they are meaningless.

Although memory and reason are wholly different faculties, the one does not really develop apart from the other. Before the age of reason the child receives images, not ideas; and there is this difference between them: images are merely the pictures of external objects, while ideas are notions about those objects determined by their relations.”
― Jean-Jacques Rousseau, quote from Emile or On Education


“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, quote from Emile or On Education



“إن ضعف الإنسان هو الذي يجعله إجتماعياً.وعناصر الشقاء المشتركة بيننا هي التي تدفع قلوبنا الى الإنسانية. فما كنا لنحس أننا مدينون للإنسانية بشيء لو لم نكن بشراً”
― Jean-Jacques Rousseau, quote from Emile or On Education


“إن أولئك الذين يريدون تأمين الشباب ضد فخاخ الشهوات والحب يصورون الحب للشباب في صورة الجريمة كأنما خلق الحب للعجائز فحسب. إن هذه الدروس المضللة الخادعة لا تنطلي على قلب الشباب أو عقله بل ستلهمه فطرته أن يسخر من هذه المواعظ و إن تظاهر بالخضوع لها والعمل بها فكل ما يناهض الطبيعة باطل لا يرجى له الدوام”
― Jean-Jacques Rousseau, quote from Emile or On Education


“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, quote from Emile or On Education


“وفي العلاقات بين الجنسين يبدو الذوق في فساده أو صلاحه على أوضح صورة. فحينما تسود تلك الصلات المتعة المبتذلة, نجد الذوق منحلاً. فالإباحية والتبذل يقترنان بفساد الذوق-وحسن الذوق يقترن بحسن الأخلاق.”
― Jean-Jacques Rousseau, quote from Emile or On Education


“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, quote from Emile or On Education



“Nature made me happy and good, and if I am otherwise, it is society's fault.”
― Jean-Jacques Rousseau, quote from Emile or On Education


“The more ingenious our apparatus, the coarser and more unskillful are our senses.”
― Jean-Jacques Rousseau, quote from Emile or On Education


“...there is no real advance in human reason, for what we gain in one direction we lose in another; for all minds start from the same point, and as the time spent in learning what others have thought is so much time lost in learning to think for ourselves, we have more acquired knowledge and less vigor of mind. Our minds like our arms are accustomed to use tools for everything, and to do nothing for themselves.”
― Jean-Jacques Rousseau, quote from Emile or On Education


“The real world has its limits; the imaginary world is infinite. Unable to enlarge the one, let us restrict the other, for it is from the difference between the two alone that are born all the pains which make us truly unhappy.”
― Jean-Jacques Rousseau, quote from Emile or On Education


“The more I study the works of men in their institutions, the more clearly I see that, in their efforts after independence, they become slaves, and that their very freedom is wasted in vain attempts to assure its continuance. That they may not be carried away by the flood of things, they form all sorts of attachments; then as soon as they wish to move forward they are surprised to find that everything drags them back. It seems to me that to set oneself free we need do nothing, we need only continue to desire freedom.”
― Jean-Jacques Rousseau, quote from Emile or On Education



“He who blushes is already guilty.”
― Jean-Jacques Rousseau, quote from Emile or On Education


“Among the many short cuts to science, we badly need someone to teach us the art of learning with difficulty.”
― Jean-Jacques Rousseau, quote from Emile or On Education


“When one has suffered or fears suffering, one pities those who suffer; but when one is suffering, one pities only oneself.”
― Jean-Jacques Rousseau, quote from Emile or On Education


“The ever-recurring law of necessity soon teaches a man to do what he does not like, so as to avert evils which he would dislike still more... this foresight, well or ill used, is the source of all the wisdom or the wretchedness of mankind.”
― Jean-Jacques Rousseau, quote from Emile or On Education


“Women, for their part, are always complaining that we raise them only to be vain and coquettish, that we keep them amused with trifles so that we may more easily remain their masters; they blame us for the faults we attribute to them. What stupidity! And since when is it men who concern themselves with the education of girls? Who is preventing the mothers from raising them as they please? There are no schools for girls—what a tragedy! Would God, there were none for boys! They would be raised more sensibly and more straightforwardly. Is anyone forcing your daughters to waste their time on foolish trifles? Are they forced against their will to spend half their lives on their appearance, following your example? Are you prevented from instructing them, or having them instructed according to your wishes? Is it our fault if they please us when they are beautiful, if their airs and graces seduce us, if the art they learn from you attracts and flatters us, if we like to see them tastefully attired, if we let them display at leisure the weapons with which they subjugate us? Well then, decide to raise them like men; the men will gladly agree; the more women want to resemble them, the less women will govern them, and then men will truly be the masters.”
― Jean-Jacques Rousseau, quote from Emile or On Education



“So long as one remains in the same condition, the inclinations which result from habit and are the least natural to us can be kept; but as soon as the situation changes, habit ceases and the natural returns.
Education is certainly only habit. Now are there not people who forget and lose their education? Others who keep it? Where does this difference come from? If the name nature were limited to habits conformable to nature, we would spare ourselves this garble!”
― Jean-Jacques Rousseau, quote from Emile or On Education


“It is true that the genius of assembled men or of peoples is quite different from a man's character in private, and that one would know the human heart very imperfectly if he did not examine it also in the multitude. But it is no less true that one must begin by studying man in order to judge men, and that he who knew each individual's inclinations perfectly could foresee all their effects when combined in the body of the people.”
― Jean-Jacques Rousseau, quote from Emile or On Education


“God makes all things good; man meddles with them and they become evil.”
― Jean-Jacques Rousseau, quote from Emile or On Education


“If one divided all of human science into two parts - the one common to all men, the other particular to the learned - the latter would be quite small in comparison with the former. But we are hardly aware of what is generally attained, because it is attained without thought and even before the age of reason; because, moreover, learning is noticed only by its differences, and as in algebraic equations, common quantities count for nothing.”
― Jean-Jacques Rousseau, quote from Emile or On Education


“The wisest writers devote themselves to what a man ought to know, without asking what a child is capable of learning.”
― Jean-Jacques Rousseau, quote from Emile or On Education



“Childhood has its own way of seeing, thinking, and feeling, and nothing is more foolish than to try to substitute ours for theirs.”
― Jean-Jacques Rousseau, quote from Emile or On Education


“I hear from afar the shouts of that false wisdom which is ever dragging us onwards, counting the present as nothing, and pursuing without pause a future which flies as we pursue, that false wisdom which removes us from our place and never brings us to any other.”
― Jean-Jacques Rousseau, quote from Emile or On Education


“The Abbe de Saint-Pierre suggested an association of all the states of Europe to maintain perpetual peace among themselves. Is this association practicable, and supposing that it were established, would it be likely to last?”
― Jean-Jacques Rousseau, quote from Emile or On Education


“To live is not to breathe but to act.”
― Jean-Jacques Rousseau, quote from Emile or On Education


“The natural man lives for himself; he is the unit, the whole, dependent only on himself and on his like. The citizen is but the numerator of a fraction, whose value depends on its denominator; his value depends upon the whole, that is, on the community. Good social institutions are those best fitted to make a man unnatural, to exchange his independence for dependence, to merge the unit in the group, so that he no longer regards himself as one, but as a part of the whole, and is only conscious of the common life.”
― Jean-Jacques Rousseau, quote from Emile or On Education



About the author

Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Born place: in Geneva, Switzerland
Born date June 28, 1712
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