Quotations From DENIS DIDEROT


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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!
    Denis Diderot (1713-1784), French philosopher. repr. In Selected Writings, ed. Lester G. Crocker (1966). Philosophic Thoughts, ch. 5 (1746).

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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 (1713-1784), French philosopher, encyclopedist, dramatist, novelist, art critic. "Political Authority," Encyclopedia, second paragraph (1751).

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  • 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).

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  • It is not human nature we should accuse but the despicable conventions that pervert it.
    Denis Diderot (1713-1784), French philosopher. On Dramatic Poetry (1758). repr. In Selected Writings, ed. Lester G. Crocker (1966).

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  • Poetry must have something in it that is barbaric, vast and wild.
    Denis Diderot (1713-1784), French philosopher. repr. In Selected Writings, ed. Lester G. Crocker (1966). On Dramatic Poetry (1758).

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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.
    Denis Diderot (1713-1784), French philosopher. repr. In Selected Writings, ed. Lester G. Crocker (1966). Philosophic Thoughts, ch. 3 (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).
  • I have often seen an actor laugh off the stage, but I don't remember ever having seen one weep.
    Denis Diderot (1713-1784), French philosopher. repr. In Selected Writings, ed. Lester G. Crocker (1966). Paradox on Acting (first published 1830).

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  • There is no kind of harassment that a man may not inflict on a woman with impunity in civilized societies.
    Denis Diderot (1713-1784), French philosopher. repr. In Selected Writings, ed. Lester G. Crocker (1966). On Women (1772).

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  • Are we not madder than those first inhabitants of the plain of Sennar? We know that the distance separating the earth from the sky is infinite, and yet we do not stop building our tower.
    Denis Diderot (1713-1784), French philosopher. repr. In Selected Writings, ed. Lester G. Crocker (1966). On the Interpretation of Nature, ch. 4 (1753).

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