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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index H > Paul Henri Thiry, Baron d’ Holbach Quotes

Thumbnail of Paul Henri Thiry, Baron d’ Holbach (source)
Paul Henri Thiry, Baron d’ Holbach
(baptised 8 Dec 1723 - 21 Jan 1789)

German-French philosopher of science who was also one of the first European self-declared atheists. His most famous book, Le Système de la Nature (The System of Nature), was published in 1770, under the pen name of Jean-Baptiste de Mirabaud.


Science Quotes by Paul Henri Thiry, Baron d’ Holbach (4 quotes)

Portrait of Paul Heinrich Dietrich Baron d’Holbach, upper body, facing forward.
Paul Heinrich Dietrich Baron d’Holbach
by artist Alexander Roslin (1718–1793) (source)
If ignorance of nature gave birth to the Gods, knowledge of nature is destined to destroy them.
— Paul Henri Thiry, Baron d’ Holbach
Systéme de la Nature (1770), Part 2, Chapter 1.
Science quotes on:  |  Birth (147)  |  Destined (42)  |  Destroy (180)  |  God (758)  |  Ignorance (240)  |  Knowledge (1536)  |  Nature (1928)

Men always fool themselves when they give up experience for systems born of the imagination. Man is the work of nature, he exists in nature, he is subject to its laws, he can not break free, he can not leave even in thought; it is in vain that his spirit wants to soar beyond the bounds of the visible world, he is always forced to return.
— Paul Henri Thiry, Baron d’ Holbach
Opening statement of first chapter of Système de la Nature (1770), Vol. 1, 1. Translation by Webmaster using Google Translate. From the original French, “Les hommes se tromperont toujours, quand ils abandonneront l'expérience pour des systèmes enfantés par l’imagination. L’homme est l’ouvrage de la nature, il existe dans la nature, il est soumis à ses lois, il ne peut s’en affranchir, il ne peut même par la pensée en sortir; c’est en vain que son esprit veut s’élancer au delà des bornes du monde visible, il est toujours forcé d’y rentrer.” In the English edition (1820-21), Samuel Wilkinson gives this as “Man has always deceived himself when he abandoned experience to follow imaginary systems.—He is the work of nature.—He exists in Nature.—He is submitted to the laws of Nature.—He cannot deliver himself from them:—cannot step beyond them even in thought. It is in vain his mind would spring forward beyond the visible world: direful and imperious necessity ever compels his return.”
Science quotes on:  |  Beyond (308)  |  Bound (119)  |  Break (99)  |  Escape (80)  |  Exist (444)  |  Existence (460)  |  Experience (470)  |  Fool (116)  |  Free (233)  |  Imagination (328)  |  Law (895)  |  Law Of Nature (73)  |  Limit (281)  |  Man (2249)  |  Nature (1928)  |  Return (125)  |  Soar (23)  |  Spirit (265)  |  Subject (522)  |  Submit (18)  |  System (537)  |  Themselves (433)  |  Thought (954)  |  Vain (83)  |  Visible (84)  |  Want (497)  |  Work (1351)  |  World (1778)

The universe, that vast assemblage of every thing that exists, presents only matter and motion: the whole offers to our contemplation, nothing but an immense, an uninterrupted succession of causes and effects.
— Paul Henri Thiry, Baron d’ Holbach
The System of Nature (1770), trans. Samuel Wilkinson (1820), Vol. 1, 12-13.
Science quotes on:  |  Assemblage (17)  |  Cause (542)  |  Contemplation (73)  |  Effect (394)  |  Exist (444)  |  Immense (86)  |  Matter (801)  |  Motion (312)  |  Nothing (969)  |  Offer (141)  |  Present (620)  |  Succession (77)  |  Thing (1915)  |  Uninterrupted (7)  |  Universe (861)  |  Vast (178)  |  Whole (738)

With respect to those who may ask why Nature does not produce new beings? We may enquire of them in turn, upon what foundation they suppose this fact? What it is that authorizes them to believe this sterility in Nature? Know they if, in the various combinations which she is every instant forming, Nature be not occupied in producing new beings, without the cognizance of these observers? Who has informed them that this Nature is not actually assembling, in her immense elaboratory, the elements suitable to bring to light, generations entirely new, that will have nothing in common with those of the species at present existing? What absurdity then, or what want of just inference would there be, to imagine that the man, the horse, the fish, the bird will be no more? Are these animals so indispensably requisite to Nature, that without them she cannot continue her eternal course? Does not all change around us? Do we not ourselves change? ... Nature contains no one constant form.
— Paul Henri Thiry, Baron d’ Holbach
The System of Nature (1770), trans. Samuel Wilkinson (1820), Vol. 1, 94-95.
Science quotes on:  |  Absurdity (32)  |  All (4107)  |  Animal (617)  |  Ask (411)  |  Authorize (5)  |  Being (1278)  |  Bird (150)  |  Change (595)  |  Combination (144)  |  Common (436)  |  Constant (144)  |  Continue (165)  |  Course (408)  |  Do (1908)  |  Element (310)  |  Eternal (111)  |  Evolution (593)  |  Fact (1212)  |  Fish (121)  |  Form (960)  |  Forming (42)  |  Foundation (173)  |  Generation (242)  |  Horse (75)  |  Imagine (165)  |  Immense (86)  |  Inference (45)  |  Inform (47)  |  Instant (45)  |  Know (1519)  |  Light (609)  |  Man (2249)  |  More (2559)  |  Nature (1928)  |  New (1217)  |  Nothing (969)  |  Occupied (45)  |  Ourselves (245)  |  Present (620)  |  Respect (207)  |  Species (402)  |  Sterility (10)  |  Suppose (156)  |  Turn (447)  |  Various (200)  |  Want (497)  |  Why (491)  |  Will (2354)


See also:
  • 8 Dec - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Holbach's baptism.

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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