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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index H > Claude Adrien Helvétius Quotes

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Claude Adrien Helvétius
(26 Jan 1715 - 26 Dec 1771)

French philosopher best known for his work, De l’Esprit (1758). Some of the ideas therein were too audacious for his time, and provoked persecution from the Catholic Church. Hence he arranged that his second book, De l’Homme was to be published after his death.

Science Quotes by Claude Adrien Helvétius (5 quotes)

Inventions and discoveries are of two kinds. The one which we owe to chance, such as those of the mariner’s compass, gunpowder, and in general almost all the discoveries we have made in the arts. The other which we owe to genius: and here we ought to understand by the word discovery, a new combination, or a new relation perceived between certain objects or ideas. A person obtains the title of a man of genius, if the ideas which result from this combination form one grand whole, are fruitful in truths, and are of importance with respect to mankind.
— Claude Adrien Helvétius
From the original French, “Les inventions ou les découvertes sont de deux espèces. Il en est que nous devons au hazard; telles sont la boussole, la poudre à canon, & généralement presque toutes les découvertes que nous avons faites dans les arts. Il en est d'autres que nous devons au génie: &, par ce mot de découverte, on doit alors entendre une nouvelle combinaison, un rapport nouveau aperçu entre certains objets ou certaines idées. On obtient le titre d'homme de génie, si les idées qui résultent de ce rapport forment un grand ensemble, sont fécondes en vérités & intéressantes pour l'humanité,” in 'Du Génie', L’Esprit (1758), Discourse 4, 476. English version from Claude Adrien Helvétius and William Mudford (trans.), 'Of Genius', De l’Esprit or, Essays on the Mind and its several Faculties (1759), Essay 4, Chap. 1, 241-242.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4107)  |  Art (657)  |  Certain (550)  |  Chance (239)  |  Combination (144)  |  Compass (34)  |  Discovery (785)  |  Form (960)  |  Fruitful (59)  |  General (511)  |  Genius (285)  |  Gunpowder (16)  |  Idea (845)  |  Importance (287)  |  Invention (377)  |  Kind (557)  |  Man (2249)  |  Mankind (340)  |  Mariner (11)  |  New (1217)  |  Object (422)  |  Obtain (163)  |  Other (2236)  |  Owe (71)  |  Perceive (40)  |  Person (363)  |  Relation (157)  |  Respect (207)  |  Result (678)  |  Title (19)  |  Truth (1062)  |  Two (937)  |  Understand (607)  |  Whole (738)  |  Word (622)

It is the anvil that makes the hammer fly back
— Claude Adrien Helvétius
From the original French, “C’est l’enclume qui repousse le marteau,” in 'Des Confeils', L’Esprit (1758), Discourse 4, Chap. 11, 576. English version from Claude Adrien Helvétius and William Mudford (trans.), 'Of Advice', De l’Esprit or, Essays on the Mind and its Several Faculties (1759), Essay 4, Chap. 11, 295.
Science quotes on:  |  Anvil (3)  |  Back (391)  |  Fly (146)  |  Hammer (25)  |  Repel (2)

The seeds of discoveries presented to us by chance will remain barren, if attention do not render them fruitful.
— Claude Adrien Helvétius
From the original French, “Les semences des découvertes présentées à tous par le hazard, sont stériles, si l’attention ne les séconde,” in De l'Homme, de ses Facultés Intellectuelles, et de son Éducation (1773), Tome 1, Discours 3, Chap. 3, 269. English version from Claude Adrien Helvétius and W. Hooper (trans.), 'On Man and his Education', A Treatise on Man, His Intellectual Faculties and His Education: A Posthumous Work of M. Helvetius (1777), Vol. 1, Essay 3, Chap. 3, 261.
Science quotes on:  |  Attention (191)  |  Barren (30)  |  Chance (239)  |  Discovery (785)  |  Do (1908)  |  Fruitful (59)  |  Present (620)  |  Remain (349)  |  Render (93)  |  Seed (93)  |  Will (2354)

To limit the press is to insult a nation; to prohibit reading of certain books is to declare the inhabitants to be either fools or slaves: such a prohibition ought to fill them with disdain.
— Claude Adrien Helvétius
From the original French, “Les semences des découvertes présentées à tous par le hazard, sont stériles, si l’attention ne les séconde,” in 'Notes', De l'Homme, de ses Facultés Intellectuelles, et de son Éducation (1773), Tome 1, 383. English version from Claude Adrien Helvétius and W. Hooper (trans.), 'Notes', A Treatise on Man, His Intellectual Faculties and His Education: A Posthumous Work of M. Helvetius (1777), Note 53, 375.
Science quotes on:  |  Book (394)  |  Censorship (3)  |  Certain (550)  |  Declare (45)  |  Disdain (10)  |  Fool (116)  |  Inhabitant (49)  |  Insult (14)  |  Limit (281)  |  Nation (194)  |  Press (21)  |  Prohibit (3)  |  Reading (133)  |  Slave (37)

[The word] genius is derived from gignere, gigno; I bring forth, I produce; it always supposes invention, and this quality, is the only one which belongs to all the different kinds of genius.
— Claude Adrien Helvétius
From the original French, “Celui de génie dérive de gignere, gigno; j’enfante, je produis; il suppose toujours invention: & cette qualité est la seule qui appartienne à tous les génies différents,” in 'Du Génie', L’Esprit (1758), Discourse 4, 476. English version from Claude Adrien Helvétius and William Mudford (trans.), 'Of Genius', De l’Esprit or, Essays on the Mind and its several Faculties (1759), Essay 4, Chap. 1, 241.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4107)  |  Belong (162)  |  Derive (65)  |  Different (577)  |  Genius (285)  |  Invention (377)  |  Kind (557)  |  Produce (104)  |  Quality (134)  |  Suppose (156)  |  Word (622)


Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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