Denis Diderot

(1713-1784 / Langres)

Denis Diderot Quotes

  • ''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 (1713-1784), French philosopher, encyclopedist, dramatist, novelist, art critic. Philosophical Thoughts (Pensées philosophiques), first Pensées (1746).
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  • ''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.''
    Denis Diderot (1713-1784), French philosopher, encyclopedist, dramatist, novelist, art critic. Philosophical Thoughts (Pensées philosophiques), first Pensées (1746).
  • ''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 (1713-1784), French philosopher. repr. In Selected Writings, ed. Lester G. Crocker (1966). Philosophic Thoughts, ch. 3 (1746).
  • ''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 (1713-1784), French philosopher. repr. In Selected Writings, ed. Lester G. Crocker (1966). Philosophic Thoughts, ch. 5 (1746).
  • ''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 (1713-1784), French philosopher, encyclopedist, dramatist, novelist, art critic. "Political Authority," Encyclopedia, second paragraph (1751).
  • ''No man has received from nature the right to command his fellow human beings.''
    Denis Diderot (1713-1784), French philosopher, encyclopedist, dramatist, novelist, art critic. "Political Authority," Encyclopedia, first sentence (1751).
  • ''My ideas are my whores.''
    Denis Diderot (1713-1784), French philosopher. repr. In Selected Writings, ed. Lester G. Crocker (1966). Rameau's Nephew (written 1762, published 1821). Admission by the interlocutor (Moi), to the amoral figure of Rameau's nephew (Lui).
  • ''If your little savage were left to himself and be allowed to retain all his ignorance, he would in time join the infant's reasoning to the grown man's passion, he would strangle his father and sleep with his mother.''
    Denis Diderot (1713-1784), French philosopher, encyclopedist, dramatist, novelist, art critic. First published in French retranslation from Goethe's German translation (1821). Rameau's Nephew (Le Neveu de Rameau), p. 119, Paris, Garnier Flammarion (1983). Dialogue between Me (alias Diderot) and Him (nephew of composer). Me is making this statement.
  • ''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 (1713-1784), French philosopher, encyclopedist, dramatist, novelist, art critic. First published in French retranslation from Goethe's German translation (1821). Rameau's Nephew (Le Neveu de Rameau), p. 100, Paris, Garnier Flammarion (1983). Dialogue between Me (alias Diderot) and Him (nephew of composer). Him is making this statement.
  • ''I discuss with myself questions of politics, love, taste, or philosophy. I let my mind rove wantonly, give it free rein to follow any idea, wise or mad that may present itself.... My ideas are my harlots.''
    Denis Diderot (1713-1784), French philosopher, encyclopedist, dramatist, novelist, art critic. First published in French retranslation from Goethe's German translation (1821). Rameau's Nephew (Le Neveu de Rameau), preamble. Dialogue between Me (alias Diderot) and Him (nephew of composer). Me is making this statement.

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