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post #116 of (permalink) Old 12-31-2012, 03:03 AM
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Age: 32
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Re: Favourtie Quotes

Glad to see a quote by the great Swiss/Genevian, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, here. He's THE great thinker of the 18th century. I already quoted him:here

“Rousseau is typically the man that we discuss without knowing.” Henri Bergson (Bergson himself quoted Henri Guillemin)

“Of all existing books, only one is necessary: the Gospel.” Jean-Jacques Rousseau

“If Socrates’ life and death were of a man, Christ’s life and death were of a God” Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in Emile or On Education (The Profession of Faith of the Savoyard Vicar)

And most of all the whole Chapter VIII of his Social Contract (The Civil State)

The passage from the state of nature to the civil state produces a very remarkable change in man, by substituting justice for instinct in his conduct, and giving his actions the morality they had formerly lacked. Then only, when the voice of duty takes the place of physical impulses and right of appetite, does man, who so far had considered only himself, find that he is forced to act on different principles, and to consult his reason before listening to his inclinations. Although, in this state, he deprives himself of some advantages which he got from nature, he gains in return others so great, his faculties are so stimulated and developed, his ideas so extended, his feelings so ennobled, and his whole soul so uplifted, that, did not the abuses of this new condition often degrade him below that which he left, he would be bound to bless continually the happy moment which took him from it for ever, and, instead of a stupid and unimaginative animal, made him an intelligent being and a man.
Let us reduce this whole balance to terms easy to compare. What man loses by the social contract is his natural liberty and an unlimited right to anything which tempts him and which he is able to attain; what he gains is civil liberty and property in all that he possesses. In order that we may not be mistaken about these compensations, we must clearly distinguish natural liberty, which is limited only by the powers of the individual, from civil liberty, which is limited by the general will; and possession, which is nothing but the result of force or the right of first occupancy, from property, which can be based only on a positive title.
Besides the preceding, we might add to the acquisitions of the civil state moral freedom, which alone renders man truly master of himself; for the impulse of mere appetite is slavery, while obedience to a self-prescribed law is liberty.

This is a text of incredible intellectual genius, which we should read two or three times to understand but as Alain Soral (also a Genevian noticed), this text shows that Rousseau was NOT the thinker of the "Noble Savage", and thereby NOT a thinker of the Enlightenment who hated him. Liberal left-wingers would claim to go back to the spirit of Rousseau because of the Noble Savage and Right-wing Conservative would mock him for that very reason but that's a whole myth. Rousseau was much more subtle than that. He introduced historicity into philosophy and was very influential on all the great thinkers who would come after him. Voltaire however was a pedantic liberal and a poor philosopher.
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