Quotes by Denis Diderot

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Denis Diderot (October 5, 1713 July 31, 1784) was a French philosopher and writer. Born in Langres, Champagne, France in 1713, he was a prominent figure in what became known as the Enlightenment, and was the editor-in-chief of the famous Encyclopdie. more

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Only passions, great passions can elevate the soul to great things.

We swallow greedily any lie that flatters us, but we sip only little by little at a truth we find bitter.
It is said that desire is a product of the will, but the converse is in fact true: will is a product of desire.
Distance is a great promoter of admiration!
The philosopher has never killed any priests, whereas the priest has killed a great many philosophers.
We swallow with one gulp the lie that flatters us, and drink drop by drop the truth which is bitter to us.
To attempt the destruction of our passions is the height of folly. What a noble aim is that of the zealot who tortures himself like a madman in order to desire nothing, love nothing, feel nothing, and who, if he succeeded, would end up a complete monster!
There is only one passion, the passion for happiness.
Poetry must have something in it that is barbaric, vast and wild.
Genius is present in every age, but the men carrying it within them remain benumbed unless extraordinary events occur to heat up and melt the mass so that it flows forth.
The most dangerous madmen are those created by religion, and people whose aim is to disrupt society always know how to make good use of them on occasion.
Every man has his dignity. I'm willing to forget mine, but at my own discretion and not when someone else tells me to.
Disturbances in society are never more fearful than when those who are stirring up the trouble can use the pretext of religion to mask their true designs.
Justice is the first virtue of those who command, and stops the complaints of those who obey.
No man has received from nature the right to give orders to others. Freedom is a gift from heaven, and every individual of the same species has the right to enjoy it as soon as he is in enjoyment of his reason.
People praise virtue, but they hate it, they run away from it. It freezes you to death, and in this world you've got to keep your feet warm.
In order to shake a hypothesis, it is sometimes not necessary to do anything more than push it as far as it will go.
Only a very bad theologian would confuse the certainty that follows revelation with the truths that are revealed. They are entirely different things.
The pit of a theatre is the one place where the tears of virtuous and wicked men alike are mingled.
The general interest of the masses might take the place of the insight of genius if it were allowed freedom of action.
Pithy sentences are like sharp nails which force truth upon our memory.
There is no kind of harassment that a man may not inflict on a woman with impunity in civilized societies.
In any country where talent and virtue produce no advancement, money will be the national god. Its inhabitants will either have to possess money or make others believe that they do. Wealth will be the highest virtue, poverty the greatest vice. Those who have money will display it in every imaginable way. If their ostentation does not exceed their fortune, all will be well. But if their ostentation does exceed their fortune they will ruin themselves. In such a country, the greatest fortunes will vanish in the twinkling of an eye. Those who don't have money will ruin themselves with vain efforts to conceal their poverty. That is one kind of affluence: the outward sign of wealth for a small number, the mask of poverty for the majority, and a source of corruption for all.
Morals are in all countries the result of legislation and government; they are not African or Asian or European: they are good or bad.
Good music is very close to primitive language.
Patriotism is an ephemeral motive that scarcely ever outlasts the particular threat to society that aroused it.
Do you see this egg? With this you can topple every theological theory, every church or temple in the world.
We are all instruments endowed with feeling and memory. Our senses are so many strings that are struck by surrounding objects and that also frequently strike themselves.
When superstition is allowed to perform the task of old age in dulling the human temperament, we can say goodbye to all excellence in poetry, in painting, and in music.
All abstract sciences are nothing but the study of relations between signs.
The decisions of law courts should never be printed: in the long run, they form a counter authority to the law.
There are three principal means of acquiring knowledge available to us: observation of nature, reflection, and experimentation. Observation collects facts; reflection combines them; experimentation verifies the result of that combination. Our observation of nature must be diligent, our reflection profound, and our experiments exact. We rarely see these three means combined; and for this reason, creative geniuses are not common.
Sentences are like sharp nails, which force truth upon our memories.
The blood of Jesus Christ can cover a multitude of sins, it seems to me.
It is not human nature we should accuse but the despicable conventions that pervert it.
Gaiety --a quality of ordinary men. Genius always presupposes some disorder in the machine.
The world is the house of the strong. I shall not know until the end what I have lost or won in this place, in this vast gambling den where I have spent more than sixty years, dicebox in hand, shaking the dice.
The best doctor is the one you run to and can't find.
The possibility of divorce renders both marriage partners stricter in their observance of the duties they owe to each other. Divorces help to improve morals and to increase the population.
The arbitrary rule of a just and enlightened prince is always bad. His virtues are the most dangerous and the surest form of seduction: they lull a people imperceptibly into the habit of loving, respecting, and serving his successor, whoever that successor may be, no matter how wicked or stupid.
The infant runs toward it with its eyes closed, the adult is stationary, the old man approaches it with his back turned.
The following general definition of an animal: a system of different organic molecules that have combined with one another, under the impulsion of a sensation similar to an obtuse and muffled sense of touch given to them by the creator of matter as a whole, until each one of them has found the most suitable position for its shape and comfort.
I have often seen an actor laugh off the stage, but I don't remember ever having seen one weep.
Impenetrable in their dissimulation, cruel in their vengeance, tenacious in their purposes, unscrupulous as to their methods, animated by profound and hidden hatred for the tyranny of man -- it is as though there exists among them an ever-present conspiracy toward domination, a sort of alliance like that subsisting among the priests of every country.
His hands would plait the priests guts, if he had no rope, to strangle kings.