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Denis Diderot Quotes

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Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.
Denis Diderot
Man is born to think for himself.
Denis Diderot
There is only one passion, the passion for happiness.
Denis Diderot (Elements of Physiology, 1774 - 1780)
One may demand of me that I should seek truth, but not that I should find it.
Denis Diderot (Pensées Philosophiques, 1746)
Only a very bad theologian would confuse the certainty that follows revelation with the truths that are revealed. They are entirely different things.
Denis Diderot (Apology for the Abbé de Prades, 1752)
Man was born to live with his fellow human beings.
Denis Diderot
Scepticism is the first step towards truth.
Denis Diderot (Pensées Philosophiques, 1746)
From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step.
Denis Diderot (Essai sur le Mérite de la Vertu, 1745)
It has been said that love robs those who have it of their wit, and gives it to those who have none.
Denis Diderot (Paradoxe sur le comédien, 1773 - 1777)
No man has received from nature the right to command his fellow human beings.
Denis Diderot (L'Encyclopédie, 1751 - 1766)
I picture the vast realm of the sciences as an immense landscape scattered with patches of dark and light. The goal towards which we must work is either to extend the boundaries of the patches of light, or to increase their number. One of these tasks falls to the creative genius; the other requires a sort of sagacity combined with perfectionism.
Denis Diderot (On the Interpretation of Nature, 1753)
We swallow greedily any lie that flatters us, but we sip only little by little at a truth we find bitter.
Denis Diderot (Rameau's Nephew, 1762)
Do you see this egg? With this you can topple every theological theory, every church or temple in the world.
Denis Diderot (D’Alembert’s Dream, 1769)
There are things I can't force. I must adjust. There are times when the greatest change needed is a change of my viewpoint.
Denis Diderot
The more man ascends through the past, and the more he launches into the future, the greater he will be.
Denis Diderot
Only passions, great passions, can elevate the soul to great things.
Denis Diderot (Pensées Philosophiques, 1746)
There is no good father who would want to resemble our Heavenly Father.
Denis Diderot (Pensées Philosophiques, 1746)
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.
Denis Diderot (Conversations with a Christian Lady, 1774)
As long as the centuries continue to unfold, the number of books will grow continually, and one can predict that a time will come when it will be almost as difficult to learn anything from books as from the direct study of the whole universe. It will be almost as convenient to search for some bit of truth concealed in nature as it will be to find it hidden away in an immense multitude of bound volumes.
Denis Diderot (L'Encyclopédie, 1751 - 1766)
If there is one realm in which it is essential to be sublime, it is in wickedness. You spit on a petty thief, but you can't deny a kind of respect for the great criminal.
Denis Diderot (Rameau's Nephew, 1762)
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!
Denis Diderot (Pensées Philosophiques, 1746)
My ideas are my whores.
Denis Diderot (Rameau's Nephew, 1762)
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.
Denis Diderot
Watch out for the fellow who talks about putting things in order! Putting things in order always means getting other people under your control.
Denis Diderot
How old the world is! I walk between two eternities... What is my fleeting existence in comparison with that decaying rock, that valley digging its channel ever deeper, that forest that is tottering and those great masses above my head about to fall? I see the marble of tombs crumbling into dust; and yet I don’t want to die!
Denis Diderot
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.
Denis Diderot (Observations on the Drawing Up of Laws, 1774)
We are constantly railing against the passions; we ascribe to them all of man’s afflictions, and we forget that they are also the source of all his pleasures... only passions, and great passions, can raise the soul to great things. Without them there is no sublimity, either in morals or in creativity. Art returns to infancy, and virtue becomes small-minded.
Denis Diderot(Pensées Philosophiques, 1746)
I am more affected by the attractions of virtue than by the deformities of vice; I turn gently away from the wicked and I fly to meet the good. If there is in a literary work, in a character, in a picture, in a statue, a beautiful spot, that is where my eyes rest; I see only that, I remember only that, all the rest is well-nigh forgotten. What becomes of me when the whole work is beautiful!
Denis Diderot
Wandering in a vast forest at night, I have only a faint light to guide me. A stranger appears and says to me: "My friend, you should blow out your candle in order to find your way more clearly." This stranger is a theologian.
Denis Diderot
Every man has his dignity. I'm willing to forget mine, but at my own discretion and not when someone else tells me to.
Denis Diderot (Rameau's Nephew, 1762)
Truth is not for the philosopher a mistress who corrupts his imagination and whom he believes to be found everywhere; he contents himself with being able to unravel it where he can perceive it. He does not confound it with probability; he takes for true what is true, for false what is false, for doubtful what is doubtful, and probable what is only probable. He does more, and here you have a great perfection of the philosopher: when he has no reason by which to judge, he knows how to live in suspension of judgment.
Denis Diderot (L'Encyclopédie, 1751 - 1766)
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.
Denis Diderot (Rameau's Nephew, 1762)
Power acquired by violence is only a usurpation, and lasts only as long as the force of him who commands prevails over that of those who obey.
Denis Diderot (L'Encyclopédie, 1751 - 1766)
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.
Denis Diderot (Elements of Physiology, 1774 - 1780)
At an early age I sucked up the milk of Homer, Virgil, Horace, Terence, Anacreon, Plato and Euripides, diluted with that of Moses and the prophets.
Denis Diderot (Describing the impact of the classical works on him)
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.
Denis Diderot (On the Interpretation of Nature, 1753)
All abstract sciences are nothing but the study of relations between signs.
Denis Diderot (D’Alembert’s Dream, 1769)
If there were a reason for preferring the Christian religion to natural religion, it would be because the former offers us, on the nature of God and man, enlightenment that the latter lacks. Now, this is not at all the case; for Christianity, instead of clarifying, gives rise to an infinite multitude of obscurities and difficulties.
Denis Diderot (Pensées Philosophiques, 1746)
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.
Denis Diderot (L'Encyclopédie, 1751 - 1766)
The philosopher forms his principles from an infinity of particular observations. Most people adopt principles without thinking of the observations that have produced them, they believe the maxims exist, so to speak, by themselves. But the philosopher takes maxims from their source; he examines their origin; he knows their proper value, and he makes use of them only in so far as they suit him.
Denis Diderot (L'Encyclopédie, 1751 - 1766)
The best order of things, as I see it, is the one that includes me; to hell with the most perfect of worlds, if I'm not part of it.
Denis Diderot (Rameau's Nephew, 1762)
Poetry must have something in it that is barbaric, vast and wild.
Denis Diderot (On Dramatic Poetry, 1758)
Pithy sentences are like sharp nails which force truth upon our memory.
Denis Diderot
Happiest are the people who give most happiness to others.
Denis Diderot
The philosopher has never killed any priests, whereas the priest has killed a great many philosophers.
Denis Diderot (Observations on the Drawing Up of Laws, 1774)
If you want me to believe in God, you must make me touch him.
Denis Diderot
The first step towards philosophy is incredulity.
Denis Diderot (Supposedly the last words to his daughter, shortly before his death)

Denis Diderot Biography

Born: October 5, 1713
Died: July 31, 1784

Denis Diderot was a French philosopher, art critic and writer. He was a notable and esteemed figure during the Enlightenment.

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Notable Works
Pensées Philosophiques or also known as Philosophical Thoughts (1746)
L'Encyclopédie (1751 - 1766)
Rameau's Nephew (1762)
D'Alembert's Dream (1769)
Selected Wisdom

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