Quotations by Author

Denis Diderot

Gentleness and peacefulness regulate our proceedings; theirs are dictated by fury. We employ reason, they accumulate faggots. They preach nothing but love, and breathe nothing but blood. Their words are humane, but their hearts are cruel.

There comes a moment during which almost every girl or boy falls into melancholy; they are tormented by a vague inquietude, which rests on everything and finds nothing to calm it. They seek solitude; they weep; the silence to be found in cloister attracts them: the image of peace that seems to reign in religious houses seduces them. They mistake the first manifestations of a developing sexual nature for the voice of God calling them to Himself; and it is precisely when nature is inciting them that they embrace a fashion of life contrary to nature's wish.

In any country where talent and virtue produce no advancement, money will be the national god. Its inhabitants will either have to possess money or make others believe that they do. Wealth will be the highest virtue, poverty the greatest vice. Those who have money will display it in every imaginable way. If their ostentation does not exceed their fortune, all will be well. But if their ostentation does exceed their fortune they will ruin themselves. In such a country, the greatest fortunes will vanish in the twinkling of an eye. Those who don't have money will ruin themselves with vain efforts to conceal their poverty. That is one kind of affluence: the outward sign of wealth for a small number, the mask of poverty for the majority, and a source of corruption for all.

Patriotism is an ephemeral motive that scarcely ever outlasts the particular threat to society that aroused it.

A man had been betrayed by his children, by his wife, and by his friends; some disloyal partners had ruined his fortune, and had plunged him into poverty. Pervaded with a profound hatred and contempt for the human race, he left society and took refuge alone in a cave. There, pressing his fists into his eyes, and contemplating a revenge proportional to his grievances, he said: "Evil people! What shall I do to punish them for their injustice and to make them all as unhappy as they deserve? Ah! if it were possible to imagine it -- to intoxicate them with a great fantasy to which they would attach more importance than to their lives, and about which they would never be able to agree!" Instantly he rushed out of the cave, shouting, "God! God!" Echoes without number repeated around him, "God! God!" This fearful name was carried from pole to pole, and heard everywhere with astonishment. At first men prostrated themselves, then they got up again, asked each other, argued with each other, became bitter, cursed each other, hated each other, cut each other's throats, and the fatal wish of the misanthropist was fulfilled. For such has been in the past, such will be in the future, the story of a being at all times equally important and incomprehensible.