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3. Three aphorisms from Denis Diderot (1713-1784), Philosophical Thoughts, 1746; Montesquieu (1689-1755), The Spirit of the Laws, 1748; and Voltaire, Portable Philosophical Dictionary, 17645

‘Lecture de la tragédie de l’orphelin de la Chine de Voltaire dans le salon de madame Geoffrin’ by Anicet Charles Gabriel Lemonnier (1812). The group includes the three authors:

Precedent and imitation, miracles and power can all create dupes or hypocrites. Only reason can create believers.


The problem stems from this notion that one must avenge the Divine Being. But one must honour Divinity and never avenge it. Indeed, if we allowed ourselves to follow this notion of vengeance, where would our torments ever end? If the laws of man are to avenge an infinite being, they will have to model themselves on its infinity and not on the failings, the ignorance and the caprices of human nature.


What do you say to a man who tells you that he prefers to obey God not men, and who is convinced he will earn his place in heaven by slitting your throat?


Read the free original text online (facsimile, with transcription) of Diderot’s Pensées philosophiques, 1875 edition:Œuvres_complètes,_éd._Assézat,_I.djvu/222

Read the free original text (facsimile) of Montesquieu’s De l’esprit des lois, 1838 edition:

Read online the free original text online (facsimile) of Voltaire’s Dictionnaire philosophique portatif, 1765 edition:

5 Denis Diderot, Pensées philosophiques, La Haye: Laurent Durand, 1746; Montesquieu (Charles Louis de Secondat), De l’esprit des lois, Geneva: 1748; Voltaire, Dictionnaire philosophique portatif, London: 1764, p. 192.