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What does the quote Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains mean?

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What Jean-Jacques Rousseau meant is that government, social class, wealth and poverty are man-made prisons in which people trap each other. In the "state of nature" to which we are all born, those things do not exist. Remember that in his day there were no democracies to speak of. People everywhere were ruled by absolute monarchs whose word was law. Rousseau does not go so far as to claim that simple good manners, altruism and general decent behavior are also prisons, although some libertarian philosophers certainly have gone that far.

Born free merely means not born into slavery, but it is arguable whether anyone is "born free." We are all enslaved by society to some degree.

As a child we are at the mercy of our parents and teachers. Our parents can screw us up so easily with wrong food, wrong support, wrong advice, etc. Our teachers can fill our minds with the wrong ideas and knowledge. But we have to do what they say. Later we may have to serve in the army, whether we want to or not. When they say jump you say "Yessir. How high, sir?" As adults we have to work 9 to 5 five days a week for a boss to earn money to live. This means doing what we're told by the boss. At all times we are expected to obey thousands of laws, most of which we don't even know exist. If we don't we can lose our liberty. To travel we are searched and have to carry a passport. So freedom is not as easily come by as all that. All of these things are "chains" of one sort or another. By saying that one is in chains one may think that even though we are free here in America, we still have to follow the laws of the country.

If you read Rousseau's 1st and 2nd Discourses and The Social Contract (and even add Emile in there) it becomes clear that while Rousseau is definitely talking about social and political institutions and laws, he is actually talking about something much more fundamental, and particularly in the context of his idea on the origin of human morality. The chains that Rousseau is talking about are Human Convention: all those social and political norms that man has created as a result of, and in order to live harmoniously in society with other men.
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Man is born free but is everywhere in chains?

Man is born free with absolute natural liberty but man is the weakest of animals and in order to survive lives in synergy with a social group for security and mutual benefit a
In Essays

What does the quote man is born free and everywhere he is in irons mean?

It means that everyone is born free and independent, with unlimited freedoms and also unlimited risks. Which is why from the moment we are born we are burdened by restrictions

Who wrote man is born free but is everywhere in chains?

Jean-Jacques Rousseau (French: 28 June 1712 - 2 July 1778) was a Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer of 18th-century Romanticism of French expression. His political phil