We were born in a flourishing realm, but we did not believe that its boundaries were those of our knowledge.
Life was given to me as a favor, so I may abandon it when it is one no longer.
They who assert that a blind fatality produced the various effects we behold in this world talk very absurdly; for can anything be more unreasonable than to pretend that a blind fatality could be productive of intelligent beings?
But constant experience shows us that every man invested with power is apt to abuse it, and to carry his authority as far as it will go.
If I knew of something that could serve my nation but would ruin another, I would not propose it to my prince, for I am first a man and only then a Frenchman... because I am necessarily a man, and only accidentally am I French.
It is always the adventurers who do great things, not the sovereigns of great empires.
There are only two cases in which war is just: first, in order to resist the aggression of an enemy, and second, in order to help an ally who has been attacked.
The tyranny of a prince in an oligarchy is not so dangerous to the public welfare as the apathy of a citizen in a democracy.
People here argue about religion interminably, but it appears that they are competing at the same time to see who can be the least devout.
Law in general is human reason, inasmuch as it governs all the inhabitants of the earth: the political and civil laws of each nation ought to be only the particular cases in which human reason is applied.
When the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person, or in the same body of magistrates, there can be no liberty; because apprehensions may arise, lest the same monarch or senate should enact tyrannical laws, to execute them in a tyrannical manner.
Thus the creation, which seems an arbitrary act, supposes laws as invariable as those of the fatality of the Atheists. It would be absurd to say that the Creator might govern the world without those rules, since without them it could not subsist.
Friendship is an arrangement by which we undertake to exchange small favors for big ones.
There is only one thing that can form a bond between men, and that is gratitude... we cannot give someone else greater power over us than we have ourselves.
Although born in a prosperous realm, we did not believe that its boundaries should limit our knowledge, and that the lore of the East should alone enlighten us.
The reason the Romans built their great paved highways was because they had such inconvenient footwear.
Religious wars are not caused by the fact that there is more than one religion, but by the spirit of intolerance... the spread of which can only be regarded as the total eclipse of human reason.
As soon as man enters into a state of society he loses the sense of his weakness; equality ceases, and then commences the state of war.
Power ought to serve as a check to power.
In the infancy of societies, the chiefs of state shape its institutions; later the institutions shape the chiefs of state.