12 scientific revolution and enlightenment quotations
QUOTATIONS FROM THE SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION AND THE
* Mathematics is the language in which God has written the universe.
* You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him find it within himself.
* Doubt is the father of invention.
* Facts which at first seem improbable will, even on scant explanation, drop the cloak
which has hidden them and stand forth in naked and simple beauty.
* The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven a hell, a hell a heaven.
* I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in
now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great
ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.
* If I have ever made any valuable discoveries, it has been owing more to patient
attention, than any other talent.
* Plato is my friend, Aristotle is my friend, but my best friend is Truth.
* If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.
* The candle (of Reason) that is set up in us shines bright enough for all our purposes.
* The actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts.
* New opinions are always suspected, and usually opposed, without any reason but
because they are not already common.
* Good and evil, reward and punishment, are the only motives to a rational creature:
these are the spur and reins whereby all mankind are set on work, and guided.
* Every man has a property in his own person. This nobody has a right to, but himself.
* The improvement of understanding is for two ends: first, our own increase of
knowledge; secondly, to enable us to deliver that knowledge to others.
* Know then thyself, presume not to God to scan;
The proper study of Mankind is Man.
* Reason’s whole pleasure, all the joys of sense, lie in three words: health, peace, and
* Nature, and Nature's Law lay hid in night.
God said, "Let Newton be," and all was light.
* A man cannot govern a nation if he cannot govern a city; he cannot govern a city if
he cannot govern a family; he cannot govern a family unless he can govern himself; and
he cannot govern himself unless his passions are subject to reason.
* There is no perfect knowledge which can be entitled ours, that is innate; none but
what has been obtained from experience, or derived in some way from our senses.
* I do not agree with a word you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
* In politics as in religion, toleration is necessary.
* Love truth, but pardon error.
* Men use thought only as authority for their injustice, and employ speech only to
conceal their thoughts.
* The sentiment of justice is so natural, and so universally acquired by all mankind,
that it seems to be independent of all law, all party, all religion.
* The mere impulse of appetite is slavery, while obedience to a law which we prescribe
to ourselves is liberty.
* Prejudices are what fools use for reason.
* He who answers every question he is asked must be very ignorant.
* Every abuse ought to be reformed, unless the reform is more dangerous than the
* Fanaticism is to superstition what delirium is to fever and rage to anger.
* In my life, I have prayed but one prayer: oh Lord, make my enemies ridiculous. And
God granted it.
* History is little else than a picture of human crimes and misfortunes.
* If there were no God, it would be necessary to invent him.
* Justice is the first virtue of those who command and stops the complaints of those
* 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.
* 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.
* Man is born free, and is everywhere in chains.
* A country cannot subsist well without liberty, nor liberty without virtue.
* All the inequality which now prevails owes its strength and growth to the
development of our faculties and the advance of the human mind, and becomes at last
permanent and legitimate by the establishment f property and laws.
* An honest man always thinks justly.
* Were there a people of gods, their government would be democratic. So perfect a
government is not for men.
* Life is the trade I would teach him. When he leaves me, he will be neither a
magistrate, a soldier, nor a priest; he will be a man.
* To live is not merely to breathe, it is to act.
* The sweetest and most inoffensive path of life leads through the avenues of science
* Beauty in things exists in the mind which contemplates them.
* There is no question of importance whose decision is not comprised in the science of
man; and there is none, which can be decided with certainty, before we become
acquainted with that science.
* It is better to prevent crimes than to punish them.
* The certainty of a small punishment will make a stronger impression than the fear of
one more severe.
* The coin of honor is always inexhaustible and fruitful in the hands of the wise
* The surest but most difficult way to prevent crimes is by perfecting education.
Marquis de Condorcet:
* Nature has placed no bounds on the perfecting of the human faculties and the
progress of this perfectibility is limited only by the duration of the globe on which Nature
has placed us.
* All errors in government and in society are based on philosophic errors, which in
turn are derived from errors in natural science.
* The source of man’s unhappiness is his ignorance of Nature.
* The remedies for these (society’s) evils must be sought for in Nature herself.
* The civilized man is he whose experience and social life have enabled to draw from
nature the means of this own happiness.
Baron de Montesquieu:
* Liberty is the right to do what the law allows; and if a citizen could do what they
forbid, it would be no longer liberty, because others would have the same powers.
* Law should be like death, which spares no one.
* We should never create by law what can be accomplished by morality.
* True happiness renders men kind and sensible; and that happiness is always shared
* To be perfectly just is an attribute of the Divine Nature; to be so to the utmost of our
abilities, is the glory of man.
* A day, an hour of virtuous liberty is worth a whole eternity of bondage.
* An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.
* Genius without education is like silver in the mine.
* There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one's self.
* God helps those who help themselves.
* Contending for the rights of woman, my main argument is built on this simple
principle, that if she be not prepared by education to become the companion of man, she
will stop the progress of knowledge and virtue, for truth must be common to all.
* If the abstract rights of man will bear discussion and explanation, those of woman,
by a parity of reasoning, will not shrink from the same test.
* It is justice, not charity, that is wanting in the world.
* We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are
endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; and that among these are life,
liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
* I was bold in the pursuit of knowledge, never fearing to follow truth and reason to
whatever results they led, and bearding every authority which stood in their way.
* What is liberty without wisdom and without virtue? It is the greatest of all possible
evils, for it is folly, vice, and madness, without tuition or restraint.
* The true danger is when liberty is nibbled away, for expedients, and by parts.
* The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion.
Abbé de Siéyès:
* How can a people be free that has not learned to be just?
William Pitt, the Younger:
* Where law ends, tyranny begins.
* The enlightened man is man in his maturity in his perfection, who is capable of
pursuing his own happiness because he has learned to examine, to think for himself and
not to take that for truth upon the authority of others which experience has taught him
examination will frequently prove erroneous.
* If one only wished to be happy, this could be accomplished; but we wish to be
happier than other people, and this is always difficult, for we believe others to be happier
than they are.