If there is anything that I have learned from reading philosophy, it’s that philosophers are never what you would expect. For example, I have always thought of Jean-Jacques Rousseau as a pretty unpleasant person, but after reading his Discourse on the Arts and Sciences, I am feeling much more friendly towards him. Of course, I wouldn’t name any son of mine Jean-Jacques (I’m not that far gone), but I was tempted to frame a quotation or two for my bathroom wall.
By considering what we might have become, if we were left to ourselves, we should learn to bless Him whose beneficent hand, correcting our institutions and giving them an immoveable basis, has prevented the disorder which they would have otherwise produced and made our happiness emerge from methods which seemed as if they should fill us with misery.
“Learn the person God has commanded you to be, and in which part of human affairs you have been placed.”
(end of preface to Second Discourse)