Literary Birthday – 28 June – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was born 28 June 1712, and died 2 July 1778.


  1. To live is not to breathe but to act.
  2. Man was born free, and he is everywhere in chains. Those who think themselves the masters of others are indeed greater slaves than they.
  3. People who know little are usually great talkers, while men who know much say little.
  4. I prefer being a man with paradoxes than a man with prejudices.
  5. The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.
  6. What wisdom can you find greater than kindness.
  7. The person who has lived the most is not the one with the most years but the one with the richest experiences.
  8. 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.
  9. The only moral lesson which is suited for a child—the most important lesson for every time of life—is this: ‘Never hurt anybody’.
  10. 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.
  11. The English are predisposed to pride, the French to vanity.
  12. To be sane in a world of madmen is in itself madness.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer. He is one of the most important philosophers of the French enlightenment and his political philosophy influenced the French Revolution as well as modern political, sociological, and educational thought. His most famous novels are Émile and The New Eloise. His autobiographical writings exemplified the Age of Sensibility whose sentiments characterise modern writing. His Discourse on the Origin of Inequality and The Social Contract are cornerstones in modern political and social thought. Rousseau was also a successful composer of music. He was interred as a national hero in the Panthéon in Paris, in 1794.

Source for image: Maurice Quentin de La Tour, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons,

by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 28th June 2013