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9. Three aphorisms from Diderot, The Philosopher and Marshal ***s Wife Have a Deep Chat, 1774; Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), Émile, or On Education, 1762; and Frederick the Great of Prussia (1712-1786)15

I allow everyone to think as they please, so long as I am left to think as I please; and in any case, those who are capable of freeing themselves from prejudice hardly need to be preached at.


In Constantinople, the Turks explain their beliefs, but we don’t dare explain ours; when we’re over there, it’s our turn to grovel. If the Turks require us to pay the same respect to Mohammed, in whom we do not believe, that we ourselves require Jews to pay to Jesus Christ, in whom they don’t believe either, are the Turks in the wrong? Are we right? What principle of fairness can we call on to decide the question? Two thirds of the human race are neither Jewish, Muslim, nor Christian, and there are countless millions who’ve never even heard of Moses, Jesus Christ, or Mohammed!


There must be tolerance for all religions, and the State must ensure that they do each other no harm, since everyone must be allowed to go to Heaven however they like.

Frederick the Great

Painting of Friedrich II by Wilhelm Camphausen (1882):

Read the free original text online (facsimile, with transcription) of Diderot’s Œuvres complètes, 1875 edition:Œuvres_complètes,_éd._Assézat,_II.djvu/529

Read the free original text online (facsimile, with transcription) of Rousseau’s Œuvres complètes, 1852 edition:Œuvres_complètes_de_Jean-Jacques_Rousseau_-_II.djvu/594

15 Denis Diderot, Entretien d’un philosophe avec la maréchale de ***, in his Œuvres complètes, 1875; Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Émile, ou de l’éducation, in his Œuvres complètes, 1852; Frederick the Great of Prussia, in Thomas Carlyle, History of Friedrich II of Prussia, Called Frederick the Great, III, London: Chapman & Hall, 1862, p. 16.