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Denis Diderot quotes (59)

All abstract sciences are nothing but the study of relations between signs.
Denis Diderot   Category:

Although a man may wear fine clothing, if he lives peacefully; and is good, self-possessed, has faith and is pure; and if he does not hurt any living being, he is a holy man.
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Bad company is as instructive as licentiousness. One makes up for the loss of one's innocence with the loss of one's prejudices.
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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.
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Every man has his dignity. I'm willing to forget mine, but at my own discretion and not when someone else tells me to.
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Evil always turns up in this world through some genius or other.
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From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step.
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Gaiety is a quality of ordinary men. Genius always presupposes some disorder in the machine.
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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.
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Good music is very close to primitive language.
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Gratitude is a burden, and every burden is made to be shaken off.
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His hands would plait the priest's guts, if he had no rope, to strangle kings.
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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.
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If you want me to believe in God, you must make me touch him.
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In order to shake a hypothesis, it is sometimes not necessary to do anything more than push it as far as it will go.
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It is not human nature we should accuse but the despicable conventions that pervert it.
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It is said that desire is a product of the will, but the converse is in fact true: will is a product of desire.
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It is very important not to mistake hemlock for parsley, but to believe or not believe in God is not important at all.
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Justice is the first virtue of those who command, and stops the complaints of those who obey.
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Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.
Denis Diderot   Category: Government

Morals are in all countries the result of legislation and government; they are not African or Asian or European: they are good or bad.
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My ideas are my whores.
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No man has received from nature the right to command his fellow human beings.
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One declaims endlessly against the passions; one imputes all of man's suffering to them. One forgets that they are also the source of all his pleasures.
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Only a very bad theologian would confuse the certainty that follows revelation with the truths that are revealed. They are entirely different things.
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Only passions, great passions can elevate the soul to great things.
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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.
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Patriotism is an ephemeral motive that scarcely ever outlasts the particular threat to society that aroused it.
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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.
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Pithy sentences are like sharp nails which force truth upon our memory.
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Poetry must have something in it that is barbaric, vast and wild.
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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   Category: Power

Sentences are like sharp nails, which force truth upon our memories.
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Skepticism is the first step on the road to philosophy.
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The best doctor is the one you run to and can't find.
Denis Diderot   Category: Medical

The best mannered people make the most absurd lovers.
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The blood of Jesus Christ can cover a multitude of sins, it seems to me.
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The decisions of law courts should never be printed: in the long run, they form a counter authority to the law.
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The first step towards philosophy is incredulity.
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The general interest of the masses might take the place of the insight of genius if it were allowed freedom of action.
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The God of the Christians is a father who makes much of his apples, and very little of his children.
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The infant runs toward it with its eyes closed, the adult is stationary, the old man approaches it with his back turned.
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The philosopher has never killed any priests, whereas the priest has killed a great many philosophers.
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The pit of a theatre is the one place where the tears of virtuous and wicked men alike are mingled.
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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.
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There are things I can't force. I must adjust. There are times when the greatest change needed is a change of my viewpoint.
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There are three principal means of acquiring knowledge... observation of nature, reflection, and experimentation. Observation collects facts; reflection combines them; experimentation verifies the result of that combination.
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There is no good father who would want to resemble our Heavenly Father.
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There is no kind of harassment that a man may not inflict on a woman with impunity in civilized societies.
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There is no moral precept that does not have something inconvenient about it.
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There is only one passion, the passion for happiness.
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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!
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Watch out for the fellow who talks about putting things in order! Putting things in order always means getting other people under your control.
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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.
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We are far more liable to catch the vices than the virtues of our associates.
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We swallow greedily any lie that flatters us, but we sip only little by little at a truth we find bitter.
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When science, art, literature, and philosophy are simply the manifestation of personality they are on a level where glorious and dazzling achievements are possible, which can make a man's name live for thousands of years.
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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.
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You have to make it happen.
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