Denis Diderot

(1713-1784 / Langres)

Denis Diderot Quotes

  • ''Jacques said that his master said that everything good or evil we encounter here below was written on high.''
    Denis Diderot (1713-1784), French philosopher, encyclopedist, dramatist, novelist, art critic. Jacques the Fatalist (Jacques le Fataliste) (1796), introductory paragraph, Paris, Garnier Flammarion (1970). Picaresque novel; Jacques is ironically quoting his master in the preamble to the novel.
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  • ''How did they meet? By chance, like everybody.... Where did they come from? From the nearest place. Where were they going? Do we know where we are going?''
    Denis Diderot (1713-1784), French philosopher, encyclopedist, dramatist, novelist, art critic. Jacques the Fatalist (Jacques le Fataliste) (1796), prologue, Paris, Garnier Flammarion (1970).
  • ''How easy it is to tell tales!''
    Denis Diderot (1713-1784), French philosopher, encyclopedist, dramatist, novelist, art critic. Narrator, in Jacques the Fatalist (Jacques le Fataliste) (1796), p. 27, Paris, Garnier Flammarion (1970). Picaresque novel.
  • ''The wisest among us is very lucky never to have met the woman, be she beautiful or ugly, intelligent or stupid, who could drive him crazy enough to be fit to be put into an asylum.''
    Denis Diderot (1713-1784), French philosopher, encyclopedist, dramatist, novelist, art critic. Narrator, in This Is No Tale (Ceci n'est pas un conte) (1796), p. 133, Paris, Garnier Flammarion (1977).
  • ''The philosopher has never killed any priests, whereas the priest has killed a great many philosophers.''
    Denis Diderot (1713-1784), French philosopher. repr. In Selected Writings, ed. Lester G. Crocker (1966). Observations on Drawing Up of Laws (1774).
  • ''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 (1713-1784), French philosopher. repr. In Selected Writings, ed. Lester G. Crocker (1966). Observations on the Drawing Up of Laws (1774, first publ. 1921). Written for Catherine the Great.
  • ''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 (1713-1784), French philosopher. (Written 1774, first published 1921). Observations on the Drawing Up of Laws, Selected Writings, ed. Lester G. Crocker (1966). Advice for Catherine the Great.
  • ''Patriotism is an ephemeral motive that scarcely ever outlasts the particular threat to society that aroused it.''
    Denis Diderot (1713-1784), French philosopher. repr. In Selected Writings, ed. Lester G. Crocker (1966). Observations on the Drawing Up of Laws (first published 1921). Written in 1774 for Catherine the Great.
  • ''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 (1713-1784), French philosopher. repr. In Selected Writings, ed. Lester G. Crocker (1966). Observations on the Drawing Up of Laws (1921). Written 1774 for Catherine the Great.
  • ''The decisions of law courts should never be printed: in the long run, they form a counterauthority to the law.''
    Denis Diderot (1713-1784), French philosopher. repr. In Selected Writings, ed. Lester G. Crocker (1966). Observations on the Drawing Up of Laws (first published 1921). Written in 1774 for Catherine the Great.

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