Denis Diderot

Philosopher, Author

1713 – 1784

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Who was Denis Diderot?

Denis Diderot was a French philosopher, art critic and writer. He was a prominent person during the Enlightenment, and is best known for serving as co-founder, chief editor and contributor to the Encyclopédie along with Jean le Rond d'Alembert.

Diderot also contributed to literature, notably with Jacques le fataliste et son maître, which emulated Laurence Sterne in challenging conventions regarding novels and their structure and content, while also examining philosophical ideas about free will. Diderot is also known as the author of the dialogue Le Neveu de Rameau, upon which many articles and sermons about consumer desire have been based.

Famous Quotes:

  • Poetry must have something in it that is barbaric, vast and wild.
  • 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.
  • Pithy sentences are like sharp nails which force truth upon our memory.
  • 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.
  • Gaiety --a quality of ordinary men. Genius always presupposes some disorder in the machine.
  • 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 general interest of the masses might take the place of the insight of genius if it were allowed freedom of action.
  • It is not human nature we should accuse but the despicable conventions that pervert it.
  • 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.

Citation

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Born
Oct 5, 1713
Langres
Also known as
  • Diderot
Parents
Siblings
Spouses
Children
Nationality
  • France
Profession
Education
  • Lycée Louis-le-Grand
  • Master of Arts, University of Paris
    ( - 1732)
Lived in
  • Champagne-Ardenne
Died
Jul 31, 1784
Paris
Resting place
Saint-Roch, Paris

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