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.
In order to shake a hypothesis, it is sometimes not necessary to do anything more than push it as far as it will go.
The general interest of the masses might take the place of the insight of genius if it were allowed freedom of action.
Distance is a great promoter of admiration!
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.
Only passions, great passions can elevate the soul to great things.
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.
The infant runs toward it with its eyes closed, the adult is stationary, the old man approaches it with his back turned.
Every man has his dignity. I'm willing to forget mine, but at my own discretion and not when someone else tells me to.
The first step towards philosophy is incredulity.
We swallow greedily any lie that flatters us, but we sip only little by little at a truth we find bitter.
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.
No man has received from nature the right to give orders to others. Freedom is a gift from heaven, and every individual of the same species has the right to enjoy it as soon as he is in enjoyment of his reason.
Pithy sentences are like sharp nails which force truth upon our memory.