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.
Only passions, great passions can elevate the soul to great things.
Only a very bad theologian would confuse the certainty that follows revelation with the truths that are revealed. They are entirely different things.
One declaims endlessly against the passions; one imputes all of man's suffering to them. One forgets that they are also the source of all his pleasures.
No man has received from nature the right to command his fellow human beings.
Morals are in all countries the result of legislation and government; they are not African or Asian or European: they are good or bad.
Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.
Justice is the first virtue of those who command, and stops the complaints of those who obey.
It is very important not to mistake hemlock for parsley, but to believe or not believe in God is not important at all.
It is said that desire is a product of the will, but the converse is in fact true: will is a product of desire.
It is not human nature we should accuse but the despicable conventions that pervert it.
In order to shake a hypothesis, it is sometimes not necessary to do anything more than push it as far as it will go.
If you want me to believe in God, you must make me touch him.
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.
His hands would plait the priest's guts, if he had no rope, to strangle kings.
Gratitude is a burden, and every burden is made to be shaken off.
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.
Gaiety is a quality of ordinary men. Genius always presupposes some disorder in the machine.
Evil always turns up in this world through some genius or other.
Every man has his dignity. I'm willing to forget mine, but at my own discretion and not when someone else tells me to.
Doctors are always working to preserve our health and cooks to destroy it, but the latter are the more often successful.
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.
Bad company is as instructive as licentiousness. One makes up for the loss of one's innocence with the loss of one's prejudices.
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.
All abstract sciences are nothing but the study of relations between signs.
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.
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.
What has not been examined impartially has not been well examined. Skepticism is therefore the first step toward truth.
We swallow greedily any lie that flatters us, but we sip only little by little at a truth we find bitter.
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.
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.
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!
There is no moral precept that does not have something inconvenient about it.
There is no good father who would want to resemble our Heavenly Father.
There are things I can't force. I must adjust. There are times when the greatest change needed is a change of my viewpoint.
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.
The pit of a theatre is the one place where the tears of virtuous and wicked men alike are mingled.
The philosopher has never killed any priests, whereas the priest has killed a great many philosophers.
The infant runs toward it with its eyes closed, the adult is stationary, the old man approaches it with his back turned.