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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index M > Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu Quotes

Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu
(1689 - 1755)

French philosopher.

Science Quotes by Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu (9 quotes)

All scientific men were formerly accused of practicing magic. And no wonder, for each said to himself: “I have carried human intelligence as far as it will go, and yet So-and-so has gone further than I. Ergo, he has taken to sorcery.”
Tous les savants étoient autrefois accusés de magie. Je n’en suis point étonné. Chacun disoit en lui-même: J’ai porté les talents naturels aussi loin qu’ils peuvent aller; cependant un certain savant a des avantages sur moi: il faut bien qu’il y ait là quelque diablerie.
— Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu
English translation from Isaac Asimov's Book of Science and Nature Quotations (1988), 296. Original French from Lettres Persanes de Montesquieu (1721, 1831), 382. Webmaster has not identified the source of the above translation (can you help?), but it is more fluent than ones published earlier. For example, “All scientific men were formerly accused of magic. I am not surprised at it. Each one said to himself, ‘I have carried human capacity as far as it can go; and yet a certain savant has distanced me: beyond doubt he deals in sorcery.’” by John Davidson (trans.), in Persian and Chinese Letters: Being the Lettres Persanes (1892), 173. Compare with the very early: “Formerly the Virtuosi were all accused of Magic; nor do I wonder at it; every one said to himself: I have carried the Talents of Nature as far as they can go; and yet a certain Virtuoso has the advantage of me, he must certainly deal with the Devil,” by John Ozell (trans), in Persian Letters (1736), Vol. 1, 257-258.
Science quotes on:  |  Intelligence (168)  |  Magic (78)  |  Scientist (522)  |  Sorcery (3)

Beasts have not the high advantages which we possess; but they have some which we have not. They have not our hopes, but then they have not our fears; they are subject like us to death, but it is without being aware of it; most of them are better able to preserve themselves than we are, and make a less bad use of their passions.
— Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu
In Edwin Davies, Other Men's Minds, Or, Seven Thousand Choice Extracts (1800), 55.
Science quotes on:  |  Advantage (77)  |  Beast (38)  |  Death (302)  |  Fear (142)  |  Hope (174)  |  Man (373)  |  Passion (71)  |  Preserve (52)  |  Subject (240)

Great God, how can we possibly be always right and the others always wrong?
— Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu
As quoted in Norman Hampson, Will & Circumstance: Montesquieu, Rousseau, and the French Revolution (1983), 11.
Science quotes on:  |  Always (7)  |  Other (27)  |  Right (197)  |  Wrong (139)

In cold countries the aqueous particles of the blood is exhaled slightly by perspiration; it remains in great abundance. One can therefore make use of spirituous liquors without the blood coagulating. It is full of humours. Strong liquors, which give movement to the blood, may be suitable there.
— Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu
From De l’Esprit, xiv., Chap 10. In Craufurd Tait Ramage (ed.), Beautiful Thoughts from French and Italian Authors (1866), 210.
Science quotes on:  |  Abundance (21)  |  Blood (104)  |  Coagulate (2)  |  Exhale (2)  |  Liquor (6)  |  Movement (83)  |  Perspiration (3)  |  Spirit (154)

Laws, in their most general signification, are the necessary relations arising from the nature of things. In this sense all beings have their laws: the Deity His laws, the material world its laws, the intelligences superior to man their laws, the beasts their laws, man his laws.
— Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu
The Spirit of the Laws (1748), Vol. 1, book 1, 1.
Science quotes on:  |  Beast (38)  |  Deity (17)  |  God (535)  |  Intelligence (168)  |  Law (515)  |  Man (373)  |  Nature (1223)  |  Necessary (154)  |  Relation (154)  |  Significance (71)  |  Superior (41)  |  World (898)

Man is a social animal formed to please in society.
— Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu
In Day's Collacon: An Encyclopaedia of Prose Quotations (1884), 875.
Science quotes on:  |  Animal (359)  |  Form (314)  |  Man (373)  |  Please (24)  |  Social (108)  |  Society (228)  |  Sociology (43)

Marly 30 July 1705. From all I hear of Leibniz he must be very intelligent, and pleasant company in consequence. It is rare to find learned men who are clean, do not stink and have a sense of humour.
— Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu
From Letter (30 Jul 1705), to Sophie of Hanover, in Maria Kroll (trans.), Letters from Liselotte: Elisabeth-Charlotte, Princess Palatine and Duchess of Orléans, "Madame" 1652-1722 (1970), 131. Also seen in Alan L. MacKay, A Dictionary of Scientific Quotations (1991), 175. Also seen attributed to Charles-Louis de Secondat Montesquieu, in Alan L. MacKay, Dictionary of Scientific Quotations (1977), 175, citing Letter LXVI (30 Jul 1705) in Les Lettres Persanes. However, Webmaster does not find this quote when looking at Letter LXVI in Les Lettres Persanes (1721), text prepared by André Lefèvre (1873). (Can you help).
Science quotes on:  |  Clean (28)  |  Find (408)  |  Intelligent (47)  |  Learned (24)  |  Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (49)  |  Pleasant (20)  |  Rare (50)  |  Sense of Humour (2)  |  Stink (6)

Society is the union of men and not the men themselves.
— Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu
In The Spirit of Laws (1750), Vol. 1, 196.
Science quotes on:  |  Man (373)  |  Society (228)  |  Sociology (43)  |  Union (21)

Those who have few affairs to attend to are great speakers: the less men think, the more they talk.
— Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu
As quoted, without citation, in Day's Collacon: an Encyclopaedia of Prose Quotations (1884), 923.
Science quotes on:  |  Affair (29)  |  Attend (11)  |  Great (534)  |  Less (102)  |  Linguistics (28)  |  Speaker (6)  |  Talk (100)  |  Think (347)

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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- 90 -
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- 70 -
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- 50 -
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- 40 -
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- 30 -
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- 20 -
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- 10 -
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