Denis Diderot

French philosopher who was a leading figure of the Enlightenment in France; principal editor of an encyclopedia that disseminated the scientific and philosophical knowledge of the time (1713-1784)

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A thing is not proved just because no one has ever questioned it. What has never been gone into impartially has never been properly gone into. Hence scepticism is the first step toward truth. It must be applied generally, because it is the touchstone.
All children are essentially criminal.
Fanaticism is just one step away from barbarism.
Gaiety --a quality of ordinary men. Genius always presupposes some disorder in the machine.
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.
I can be expected to look for truth but not to find it.
It is not human nature we should accuse but the despicable conventions that pervert it.
Only passions, great passions, can elevate the soul to great things.
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.
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.
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.
Pithy sentences are like sharp nails which force truth upon our memory.
Poetry must have something in it that is barbaric, vast and wild.
The arbitrary rule of a just and enlightened prince is always bad. His virtues are the most dangerous and the surest form of seduction: they lull a people imperceptibly into the habit of loving, respecting, and serving his successor, whoever that successor may be, no matter how wicked or stupid.
The decisions of law courts should never be printed: in the long run, they form a counter authority to the law.
The following general definition of an animal: a system of different organic molecules that have combined with one another, under the impulsion of a sensation similar to an obtuse and muffled sense of touch given to them by the creator of matter as a whole, until each one of them has found the most suitable position for its shape and comfort.
The general interest of the masses might take the place of the insight of genius if it were allowed freedom of action.
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.
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.
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.
There is no moral precept that does not have something inconvenient about it.
Virtue is praised but hated. People run away from it, for it is ice-cold and in this world you must keep your feet warm.
We swallow greedily any lie that flatters us, but we sip little by little at a truth we find bitter.
What has not been examined impartially has not been well examined. Skepticism is therefore the first step toward truth.

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