Top Quotes by Denis Diderot

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.

Denis Diderot

Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.

Denis Diderot

You have to make it happen.

Denis Diderot

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

Denis Diderot

No man has received from nature the right to command his fellow human beings.

Denis Diderot

We swallow greedily any lie that flatters us, but we sip only little by little at a truth we find bitter.

Denis Diderot

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

If you want me to believe in God, you must make me touch him.

Denis Diderot

There is only one passion, the passion for happiness.

Denis Diderot

Patriotism is an ephemeral motive that scarcely ever outlasts the particular threat to society that aroused it.

Denis Diderot

Patriotism is an ephemeral motive that scarcely ever outlasts the particular threat to society that aroused it.

Denis Diderot

Skepticism is the first step on the road to philosophy.

Denis Diderot

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.

Denis Diderot

The philosopher has never killed any priests, whereas the priest has killed a great many philosophers.

Denis Diderot

There is no kind of harassment that a man may not inflict on a woman with impunity in civilized societies.

Denis Diderot

There is no moral precept that does not have something inconvenient about it.

Denis Diderot

Morals are in all countries the result of legislation and government; they are not African or Asian or European: they are good or bad.

Denis Diderot

Evil always turns up in this world through some genius or other.

Denis Diderot

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.

Denis Diderot

Pithy sentences are like sharp nails which force truth upon our memory.

Denis Diderot

Justice is the first virtue of those who command, and stops the complaints of those who obey.

Denis Diderot

The best doctor is the one you run to and can’t find.

Denis Diderot

From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step.

Denis Diderot

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

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

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

Poetry must have something in it that is barbaric, vast and wild.

Denis Diderot

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.

Denis Diderot

The pit of a theatre is the one place where the tears of virtuous and wicked men alike are mingled.

Denis Diderot

The infant runs toward it with its eyes closed, the adult is stationary, the old man approaches it with his back turned.

Denis Diderot

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

Bad company is as instructive as licentiousness. One makes up for the loss of one’s innocence with the loss of one’s prejudices.

Denis Diderot

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.

Denis Diderot

The first step towards philosophy is incredulity.

Denis Diderot

There is no good father who would want to resemble our Heavenly Father.

Denis Diderot

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.

Denis Diderot

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.

Denis Diderot

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

The general interest of the masses might take the place of the insight of genius if it were allowed freedom of action.

Denis Diderot

Gaiety is a quality of ordinary men. Genius always presupposes some disorder in the machine.

Denis Diderot

In order to shake a hypothesis, it is sometimes not necessary to do anything more than push it as far as it will go.

Denis Diderot

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

The blood of Jesus Christ can cover a multitude of sins, it seems to me.

Denis Diderot

All abstract sciences are nothing but the study of relations between signs.

Denis Diderot

Gratitude is a burden, and every burden is made to be shaken off.

Denis Diderot

It is very important not to mistake hemlock for parsley, but to believe or not believe in God is not important at all.

Denis Diderot

It is not human nature we should accuse but the despicable conventions that pervert it.

Denis Diderot

It is said that desire is a product of the will, but the converse is in fact true: will is a product of desire.

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

The decisions of law courts should never be printed: in the long run, they form a counter authority to the law.

Denis Diderot

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.

Denis Diderot

Good music is very close to primitive language.

Denis Diderot

The best mannered people make the most absurd lovers.

Denis Diderot