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.
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It is believed that physiognomy is only a simple development of the features already marked out by nature. It is my opinion, however, that in addition to this development, the features come insensibly to be formed and assume their shape from the frequent and habitual expression of certain affections of the soul. These affections are marked on the countenance; nothing is more certain than this; and when they turn into habits, they must leave on it durable impressions.
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Our passions are the chief means of self-preservation; to try to destroy them is therefore as absurd as it is useless; this would be to overcome nature, to reshape God's handiwork. If God bade man annihilate the passions he has given him, God would bid him be and not be; He would contradict himself. He has never given such a foolish commandment, there is nothing like it written on the heart of man, and what God will have a man do, He does not leave to the words of another man. He speaks Himself; His words are written in the secret heart.
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Ought to have a universal compulsory force to move and arrange each part in the manner best suited to the whole. Just as nature gives each man an absolute power over all his members, the social compact gives the body politic an absolute power over all its members." "We grant that each person alienates, by the social compact, only that portion of his power, his goods, and liberty whose use is of consequence to the community; but we must also grant that only the sovereign is the judge of what is of consequence.
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And when the relics of humanity left among the Spaniards induced them to forbid their lawyers to set foot in America, what must they have thought of jurisprudence? May it not be said that they thought, by this single expedient, to make reparation for all the outrages they had committed against the unhappy Indians?
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.
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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.
Everything is in constant flux on this earth. Nothing keeps the same unchanging shape, and our affections, being attached to things outside us, necessarily change and pass away as they do. Always out ahead of us or lagging behind, they recall a past which is gone or anticipate a future which may never come into being; there is nothing solid there for the heart to attach itself to. Thus our earthly joys are almost without exception the creatures of a moment...
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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.
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People who know little are usually great talkers, while men who know much say little. It is plain that an ignorant person thinks everything he does know important, and he tells it to everybody. But a well-educated man is not so ready to display his learning; he would have too much to say, and he sees that there is much more to be said, so he holds his peace.
Gardez-vous, surtout et ce sera mon dernier conseil, d'ecouter jamais des interpretations sinistres et des discours envenimes dont les motifs secrets sont souvent plus dangereux que les actions qui en sont l'objet. Toute une maison s'eveille et se tient en alarmes aux premiers cris d'un bon et fide¨le gardien qui n'aboie jamais qu'e l'approche des voleurs; mais on hait l'importunite de ces animaux bruyants qui troublent sans cesse le repos public, et dont les avertissements continuels et deplaces ne se font pas meªme ecouter au moment qu'ils sont necessaires.
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The first man who, having fenced in a piece of land, said "This is mine, " and found people naive enough to believe him, that man was the true founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars, and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, 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.
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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.
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The sword wears out its sheath, as it is sometimes said. That is my story. My passions have made me live, and my passions have killed me. What passions, it may be asked. Trifles, the most childish things in the world. Yet they affected me as much as if the possessions of Helen, or the throne of the Universe, had been at stake.
I ask: which of the two, civil or natural life, is more likely to become insufferable to those who live it? We see about us practically no people who do not complain about their existence; many even deprive themselves of it to the extent they are able, and the combination of divine and human laws is hardly enough to stop this disorder.
They say that Caliph Omar, when consulted about what had to be done with the library of Alexandria, answered as follows: 'If the books of this library contain matters opposed to the Koran, they are bad and must be burned. If they contain only the doctrine of the Koran, burn them anyway, for they are superfluous.' Our learned men have cited this reasoning as the height of absurdity. However, suppose Gregory the Great was there instead of Omar and the Gospel instead of the Koran. The library would still have been burned, and that might well have been the finest moment in the life of this illustrious pontiff.
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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.
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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.
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If there is in this world a well-attested account, it is that of vampires. Nothing is lacking: official reports, affidavits of well-known people, of surgeons, of priests, of magistrates; the judicial proof is most complete. And with all that, who is there who believes in vampires?
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.
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Resumons en quatre mots le pacte social des deux etats. Vous avez besoin de moi, car je suis riche et vous eªtes pauvre ; faisons donc un accord entre nous : je permettrai que vous ayez l'honneur de me servir, e condition que vous me donnerez le peu qui vous reste pour la peine que je prendrai de vous commander.
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Princes always are always happy to see developing among their subjects the taste for agreeable arts and for superfluities which do not result in the export of money. For quite apart from the fact that with these they nourish that spiritual pettiness so appropriate for servitude, they know very well that all the needs which people give themselves are so many chains binding them. When Alexander wished to keep the Ichthyophagi dependent on him, he forced them to abandon fishing and to nourish themselves on foods common to other people. And no one has been able to subjugate the savages in America, who go around quite naked and live only from what their hunting provides. In fact, what yoke could be imposed on men who have no need of anything?
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Children are taught to look down on their nurses (nannies), to treat them as mere servants. When their task is completed the child is withdrawn or the nurse is dismissed. Her visits to her foster-child are discouraged by a cold reception. After a few years the child never sees her again. The mother expects to take her place, and to repair by her cruelty the results of her own neglect. But she is greatly mistaken; she is making an ungrateful foster-child, not an affectionate son; she is teaching him ingratitude, and she is preparing him to despise at a later day the mother who bore him, as he now despises his nurse.
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The extreme inequality of our ways of life, the excess of idleness among some and the excess of toil among others, the ease of stimulating and gratifying our appetites and our senses, the over-elaborate foods of the rich, which inflame and overwhelm them with indigestion, the bad food of the poor, which they often go withotu altogether, so hat they over-eat greedily when they have the opportunity; those late nights, excesses of all kinds, immoderate transports of every passion, fatigue, exhaustion of mind, the innumerable sorrows and anxieties that people in all classes suffer, and by which the human soul is constantly tormented: these are the fatal proofs that most of our ills are of our own making, and that we might have avoided nearly all of them if only we had adhered to the simple, unchanging and solitary way of life that nature ordained for us.
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