"Man was born free, and everywhere he is in chains."
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
(1712-1778) Political philosopher, educationist and essayist
'Of The Social Contract' and Other Political Writings, Book 1, Chapter 1, (1762)
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Reader comments about this quote:
Well,of course.Man was Born Free because the Spirit is a Free Entity.The chains that we grow to rattle over the years in our lives are the chains of Materialism.The more one is closer to the Spirit,the fewer the chains that bind.Good morning.
 -- Me Again     
     -- Joe, Rochester, MI      
     -- Mike, Norwalk      
     -- Anonymous, Reston, VA US      
    Reston: What's up? You deny the reality of totalitarianism? Or that slavery is practiced in several countries? Or do you simply disagree that man was born free?
     -- David L. Rosenthal     
    I would say man is born helpless and dependent -- the chains from which he must break free -- in other words, to grow up and take responsibility for himself. It seems few ever accomplish that today.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
    Rousseau believed in the "noble savage." That is that human beings are naturally good and moral beings, in other words "born free." This is prima facie incorrect. Human beings will naturally take advantage of one another by lying, cheating, stealing, or what have you. It is only by applying moral reason to ones own life that one can free himself. One must reason that moral behavior is more beneficial to himself than the natural instinct of immediate self gratification.
     -- Ken, Allyn, WA     
    Man is born into chains.Whether he was free to start with is a matter of psychological masterbations and really doesn't change the fact, only "he" can free himself.
     -- Don, Canada     
    Man is born into the world at that time and that time depends on the small village where he hopes to scrape a living - the rest is immaterial. Man is born into a world full of anger and shame and to rise above this he must have the help of others. Man is born neither free or in chains he is just born.
     -- Robert, Sarasota     
    Born Free is a concept that derives from the individual's definition of free, inalienable rights, law, justice, mercy and liberty. I absolutely agree with Me Again above. Ken makes the point very well that being born free means different things to different people. When materialism (or any part there of ) is used to define free - law, justice and mercy, by definition, are reduced to the man/god's legal positivism. At such reduced level of existence, there are no inalienable rights. Though the manifestations of "freedom" may be restricted (for example by carnal man's tyranny), as a faculty of birth, the noble being man is free, complete with inalienable rights.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    Jean, the man of platitudes.
     -- anonymous     
  • 1
    Like we are all born equal, but we certainly don't remain equal.
     -- cal, lewisville, tx     
    Cal, some folk are just more equal than others.
     -- jim k, austin tx     
    Remove man from his natural habitat, as a bird, they become slaves of dependency. Like beast of the field. It is always the husbandry and stewardship over said flock which brings harmony or discord. As resources become unpredictable so to instability. Set not you affections on sudden riches, power belongs to God. We find in Christ freedom of spirit and mind by the Spirit of Truth, geographically we walk about in a carnal body, bound under laws of moral conduct, the carnal mind not subject to law. This being done within a free nation or a slave state. One seeks as much freedom as ones wants. Financial liberty on the other hand, determines slavery or not under any form of governing.
     -- Ron w13, Or     
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