“Distrust those cosmopolitans who search out remote duties in their books and neglect those that lie nearest. Such philosophers will love the Tartars to avoid loving their neighbor.”

~ Rousseau, Emile


2 thoughts on “103

  1. “[Rousseau] melts with tenderness for those who only touch him by the remotest relation, and then, without one natural pang, casts away, as a sort of offal and excrement, the spawn of his disgustful amours, and sends his children to the hospital of foundlings. The bear, loves, licks, and forms his young: but bears are not philosophers. Vanity, however, finds its account in reversing the train of our natural feelings. Thousands admire the sentimental writer; the affectionate father is hardly known in his parish.”

    Burke, “Letter to a Member of the National Assembly.

    1. Indeed. As a warning against the sort of habits engaged in by, say, Mrs Jellyby (the “telescopic philanthropist” of Dickens’ Bleak House), it’s not a bad passage. But to hear Rousseau utter it, knowing anything about the quality of his fatherly instincts, is stomach-turning.

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