Joseph Joubert

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Joseph Joubert

Joseph Joubert (French: [ʒɔzɛf ʒubɛʁ]; 7 May 1754 in Montignac, Périgord – 4 May 1824 in Paris) was a French moralist and essayist, remembered today largely for his Pensées (Thoughts), which was published posthumously.

From the age of fourteen Joubert attended a religious college in Toulouse, where he later taught until 1776. In 1778 he went to Paris where he met D'Alembert and Diderot, amongst others, and later became a friend of a young writer and diplomat, Chateaubriand.

He alternated between living in Paris with his friends and life in the privacy of the countryside in Villeneuve-sur-Yonne. He was appointed inspector-general of universities under Napoleon.

Joubert published nothing during his lifetime, but he wrote a copious amount of letters and filled sheets of paper and small notebooks with thoughts about the nature of human existence, literature, and other topics, in a poignant, often aphoristic style. After his death his widow entrusted Chateaubriand with these notes, and in 1838, he published a selection titled, Recueil des pensées de M. Joubert (Collected Thoughts of Mr. Joubert). More complete editions were to follow, as were collections of Joubert's correspondence.

Somewhat of the Epicurean school of philosophy, Joubert even valued his own frequent suffering of ill health, as he believed sickness gave subtlety to the soul.

Joubert's works have been translated into numerous languages. An English translation version was made by Paul Auster. Matthew Arnold in his Critical Essays devotes a section to Joubert.


  • Misery is almost always the result of thinking.
  • To teach is to learn twice.
  • When my friends are one-eyed, I look at them in profile.
  • There are some acts of justice which corrupt those who perform them.[1]
  • Today there are no more irreconcilable enmities, because there are no more disinterested emotions: that's a good thing born from a bad thing.
  • All gardeners live in beautiful places because they make them so.
  • Justice is the truth in action.
  • Ask the young. They know everything.
  • The mind's direction is more important than its progress.
  • A part of kindness consists in loving people more than they deserve.
  • Imagination is the eye of the soul.
  • Never cut what you can untie.[2]
  • The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress.


  1. ^ Joubert, Joseph (1896) [1842]. Pensées of Joubert, Translated by Henry Attwell. London: George Allen. p. 57. Retrieved November 5, 2014. 
  2. ^ Garg, Anu, A Thought for the Day, A.Word.A.Day, February 10, 2012.

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