man born free but everywhere is in chains

Topics: Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Political philosophy, Voltaire Pages: 2 (614 words) Published: September 25, 2013

The phrase, 'Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains' was written by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Rousseau wrote the famed words in his most important published work, 'A Social Contract.' This work is one of the most important in Western political philosophy. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in his dramatic opening lines to his immensely powerful treatise "The Social Contract," wrote that man was naturally good but becomes corrupted by the pernicious influence of human society and institutions. He preached a mankind improved by returning to nature and living a natural life at peace with his neighbors and himself. He claims to be in favor of democracy, but what he really favors is egalitarianism. Rousseau's influence both in art and politics was huge in his own day and continues to be strong today. Although they are two of the most famous of the great French philosophes, Rousseau and Voltaire hated each other. In fact, it would be hard to ever envision the urbane and suave Voltaire and the radically democratic Rousseau ever seeing eye to eye on much: Voltaire believed that through education and reason man could separate himself from the beasts while Rousseau thought that it was precisely all this which made men "unnatural" and corrupted. As Betrand Russell put it so eloquently: "It is not surprising that Rousseau and Voltaire ultimately quarreled; the marvel is that they did not quarrel sooner." Like many intellectuals, Rousseau was a great lover of mankind as a collective but singularly unable to appreciate or get along with any individual persons who he encountered in his life. On the other hand, Voltaire was not a person you wanted to engage in a literary tête-a-tête as his scorn and ridicule were lethal.

Rousseau sent Voltaire a copy of his "The Social Contract" and Voltaire wrote him the following:

"I have received your new book against the human race, and thank you for it. Never was such a cleverness used in the design of making...
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