I haven't read Rousseau and I don't know from what context the sentence is taken. But my first impression upon reading it is that I guess he has never had any chance to interact with differently-abled persons. Or, to give him the benefit of the doubt, the 'we' in his sentence ONLY refers to a group of people who is born with the capability of reading and understanding his sentence. The 'we' there certainly cannot include people who were born with severe brainEver since my visit to the Red Cross Home for the Disabled in 2007, I'm quite sensitive to sweeping statements like Rousseau's. Are WE really born capable of learning? If WE is meant to refer to human beings, is EVERY human being really born capable of learning? What about the man (let's call him "Bobby") whom I fed in the Home for the Disabled? Bobby couldn't move his body. He was only able to lay down there on the bed from the day he was born and perhaps as long as he may live. What he could do was just to move his head and all the organs located in his head. Perhaps we can never be certain if, being born in such condition, he is capable of learning. But, having interacted with him, I really really doubt that he is able to learn in any way. I may be wrong. I can't help but ask, "Is he able to know God? How is it possible for him to understand his existence if his brain is severely damaged?" So, I wonder if the understanding of the image of God as rationality (an understanding which says what differentiates human beings, being the image of God, from other creatures is their ability to think rationally) is still tenable. I guess there is no way to defend it unless we want to exclude Bobby from the human race.
My encounter with Bobby forces me to stop and ponder: "What does it mean to be human? What does our human-ness consist of?"