I know this is a long shot, but I am looking for a quote from Rousseau. I heard it a long time ago and have looked for it many times, but I have not been able to find it.

In the quote (only about 1-to-3 sentences long, going by memory), Rousseau mentions that although it may seem people are very divided politically, it's only because our attention is directed towards areas where we disagree. He mentions that humans are in agreement in the vast majority of political issues, but because we agree on these issues, there is not much to discuss, and what remains to discuss are things we disagree on. So it always appears like we are divided.

Does anyone know what quote from Rousseau discusses this?

  • This is difficult without more detail. I’m not even convinced it’s Rousseau; it ‘feels’ more like Voltaire. Are you sure you’re looking in the right direction? Oct 28, 2021 at 4:42
  • 1
    To me it sounds a bit like an aspect of defending volonté générale as core of political action but I'm far from being an expert on Rousseau.
    – Philip Klöcking
    Oct 28, 2021 at 4:54
  • @PhilipKlöcking I agree, I sense it would be in his writings on volonte generale. Oct 28, 2021 at 15:04

1 Answer 1


This quote of Rousseau from "On Education", strikes me as similar:

The knowledge of the most ignorant man would surprise us if we had followed his course from birth to the present time. If all human knowledge were divided into two parts, one common to all, the other peculiar to the learned, the latter would seem very small compared with the former. But we scarcely heed this general experience, because it is acquired before the age of reason. Moreover, knowledge only attracts attention by its rarity, as in algebraic equations common factors count for nothing.

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