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 things I can’t force. I must adjust. There are times when the greatest change needed is a change of my viewpoint.
The best doctor is the one you run to and can’t find.
Skepticism is the first step on the road to philosophy.
We swallow greedily any lie that flatters us, but we sip only little by little at a truth we find bitter.
From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step.
It is not human nature we should accuse but the despicable conventions that pervert it.
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.
Good music is very close to primitive language.
Poetry must have something in it that is barbaric, vast and wild.
No man has received from nature the right to command his fellow human beings.
The philosopher has never killed any priests, whereas the priest has killed a great many philosophers.
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.
There is no good father who would want to le our Heavenly Father.
Bad company is as instructive as licentiousness. One makes up for the loss of one’s innocence with the loss of one’s prejudices.
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.
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.
The infant runs toward it with its eyes closed, the adult is stationary, the old man approaches it with his back turned.
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.
It is said that desire is a product of the will, but the converse is in fact true: will is a product of desire.
The general interest of the masses might take the place of the insight of genius if it were allowed freedom of action.
The God of the Christians is a father who makes much of his apples, and very little of his children.
Watch out for the fellow who talks about putting things in order! Putting things in order always means getting other people under your control.
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!
His hands would plait the priest’s guts, if he had no rope, to strangle kings.
Patriotism is an ephemeral motive that scarcely ever outlasts the particular threat to society that aroused it.
The decisions of law courts should never be printed: in the long run, they form a counter authority to the law.
Evil always turns up in this world through some genius or other.
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.
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.
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.