Denis Diderot

Literary Birthday – 5 October – Denis Diderot

Denis Diderot was born 5 October 1713, and died 31 July 1784.


  1. To say that man is a compound of strength and weakness, light and darkness, smallness and greatness, is not to indict him, it is to define him.
  2. From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step.
  3. The philosopher has never killed any priests, whereas the priest has killed a great many philosophers.
  4. Pithy sentences are like sharp nails driving truth into our memory.
  5. A thing is not proved just because no one has ever questioned it. What has never been gone into impartially has never been properly gone into. Hence scepticism is the first step toward truth. It must be applied generally, because it is the touchstone.
  6. Shakespeare’s fault is not the greatest into which a poet may fall. It merely indicates a deficiency of taste.
  7. Poetry must have something in it that is barbaric, vast and wild.
  8. When science, art, literature, and philosophy are simply the manifestation of personality they are on a level where glorious and dazzling achievements are possible, which can make a man’s name live for thousands of years.
  9. Good music is very close to primitive language.
  10. The pit of a theatre is the one place where the tears of virtuous and wicked men alike are mingled.

Denis Diderot was a French philosopher and chief editor of the historic project to produce L’Encyclopedie. His other works include The Nun and Jacques the Fatalist.


Louis-Michel van Loo, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 5th October 2013