Such is the weakness, such the perversity, of the human race that it is better, no doubt, for it to be subject to all conceivable superstitions, provided they be not murderous, than to live without religion.
Let the punishments of criminals be useful. A hanged man is good for nothing, and a man condemned to public works still serves the country, and is a living lesson.
Wherever there is a settled society, religion is necessary; the laws cover manifest crimes, and religion covers secret crimes.
When men do not have healthy notions of the Divinity, false ideas supplant them, just as in bad times one uses counterfeit money when there is no good money.
What, then, do you call your soul? What idea have you of it? You cannot of yourselves, without revelation, admit the existence within you of anything but a power unknown to you of feeling and thinking.
What is toleration? It is the appurtenance of humanity. We are all full of weakness and errors; let us mutually pardon each other our follies—it is the first law of nature.
What is called happiness is an abstract idea, composed of various ideas of pleasure; for he who has but a moment of pleasure is not a happy man, in like manner that a moment of grief constitutes not a miserable one.
Very learned women are to be found in the same manner as female warriors, but they are seldom or ever inventors.
To constitute taste, it is not sufficient to see and to know the beauty of a work. We must feel and be affected by it.
This self-love is the instrument of our preservation; it resembles the provision for the perpetuity of mankind; it is necessary, it is dear to us, it gives us pleasure, and we must conceal it.