French Moralist, Essayist, Writer of Aphorisms
"The greatest evil which fortune can inflict on men is to endow them with small talents and great ambition."
"People find happiness both in wisdom and folly, virtue and vice. Contentment is no index of true worth."
"A liar is a man who does now know how to deceive, a flatterer one who only deceives fools: he who knows how to make skillful use of the truth, and understands its eloquence, can alone pride himself in cleverness."
"As it is natural to believe many things without proof, so, despite all proof, is it natural to disbelieve others."
"Are we surprised if a sick man cannot walk, or keep awake, or stand upright? Would it not be more surprising if he was the same man as when he was well? If we have a headache, or have slept badly, we are excused for telling incapable of work, and yet no one suspects us of always being lazy. Shall we deny a dying man the privilege we grant a man with a headache? And dare we assert that the man who lacks courage in his last agony never possessed virtue when he was well."
"As soon as an opinion becomes common it is sufficient reason for men to abandon it and to uphold the opposite opinion until that in its turn grows old, and they require to distinguish themselves by other things. Thus if they attain their goal in some art or science, we must expect them soon to cast it aside to acquire some fresh fame, and this is partly the reason why the most splendid ages degenerate so quickly, and, scarcely emerged from barbarism, plunge into it again."
"Children are taught to fear and obey; the avarice, pride, or timidity of parents teaches children economy, arrogance, or submission. They are also encouraged to be imitators, a course to which they are already too much inclined. No one thinks of making them original, courageous, independent."
"Children are … encouraged to be imitators, a course to which they are already too much inclined. No one thinks of making them original, courageous, independent."
"Conscience, the organ of feeling which dominates us and of the opinions which rule us, is presumptuous in the strong, timid in the weak and unfortunate, uneasy in the undecided."