Baron de Montesquieu, fully Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu

Baron de
Montesquieu, fully Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu

French Philosopher, Political Thinker and Social Commentator

Author Quotes

The alms given to a naked man in the street do not fulfil the obligations of the state, which owes to every citizen a certain subsistence, a proper nourishment, convenient clothing, and a kind of life not incompatible with health.

The honor of the conquest is rated by the difficulty.

The Ottoman Empire whose sick body was not supported by a mild and regular diet, but by a powerful treatment, which continually exhausted it.

The tyranny of a prince in an oligarchy is not so dangerous to the public welfare as the apathy of a citizen in a democracy.

They who assert that a blind fatality produced the various effects we behold in this world talk very absurdly; for can anything be more unreasonable than to pretend that a blind fatality could be productive of intelligent beings?

We must live with men such that they are: people that are told to be such good company are often those whose vices are more refined, and perhaps it is as poisons, the most subtle are also the most dangerous.

The avarice of nations makes them quarrel for the movables of the whole universe.

The law of nations is naturally founded on this principle, that different nations ought in time of peace to do one another all the good they can, and in time of war as little injury as possible, without prejudicing their real interests.

The pagan religion, which prohibited only some of the grosser crimes, and which stopped the hand but meddled not with the heart, might have crimes that were inexplicable.

The wickedness of mankind makes it necessary for the law to suppose them better than they really are.

They who love to inform themselves, are never idle. Though I have no business of consequence to take care of, I am nevertheless continually employed. I spend my life in examining things: I write down in the evening whatever I have remarked, what I have seen, and what I have heard in the day: everything engages my attention, and everything excites my wonder: I am like an infant, whose organs, as yet tender, are strongly affected by the slightest objects.

We should weep for men at their birth, not at their death.

The color of the skin may be determined by that of the hair, which, among the Egyptians, the best philosophers in the world, was of such importance that they put to death all the red-haired men who fell into their hands.

The law on the whole is positive human what dominated the nations of the earth of them all, should not the laws of political and civil rights in every nation to be non-specific conditions that applied to him positive human ... must be of such laws, especially the nature of the country, especially the region cold or hot or mild, and the nature of the land and its location and breadth, and the sex life of nations or farmers or fishermen or shepherds, and should fit the degree of freedom that can be permitted by the system, and the religion of the parents and their emotions and their riches and their number and their trade and their natures and their curriculum... and this is what I'm trying to made ??in this book, look at all these links, which consists of a total of so-called spirit of the laws.

The people are extremely well qualified for choosing those whom they are to entrust with part of their authority. They have only to be determined by things to which they cannot be strangers, and by facts that are obvious to sense. They can tell when a person has fought many battles, and been crowned with success; they are, therefore, capable of electing a general. They can tell when a judge is assiduous in his office, gives general satisfaction, and has never been charged with bribery: this is sufficient for choosing a pr‘tor. They are struck with the magnificence or riches of a fellow-citizen; no more is requisite for electing an edile. These are facts of which they can have better information in a public forum than a monarch in his palace. But are they capable of conducting an intricate affair, of seizing and improving the opportunity and critical moment of action? No; this surpasses their abilities.

There are countries where a man is worth nothing; there are others where he is worth less than nothing.

This is how I define talent; it is a gift that God has given us in secret, which we reveal without knowing it.

Weak minds exaggerate too much the wrong done to the Africans. For were the case as they state it, would the European powers, who make so many needless conventions among themselves, have failed to enter into a general one, in behalf of humanity and compassion?

The compass opened, if I may so express myself, the universe.

The laws do not take upon them to punish any other than overt acts.

The people, in whom the supreme power resides, ought to have the management of everything within their reach: that which exceeds their abilities must be conducted by their ministers.

There are countries where the excess of heat enervates the body, and renders men so slothful and dispirited that nothing but the fear of chastisement can oblige them to perform any laborious duty: slavery is there more reconcilable to reason; and the master being as lazy with respect to his sovereign as his slave is with regard to him, this adds a political to a civil slavery. Aristotle endeavors to prove that there are natural slaves; but what he says is far from proving it. If there be any such, I believe they are those of whom I have been speaking. [Those who accept it as a contractual arrangement, in a general system of despotism.] But as all men are born equal, slavery must be accounted unnatural, though in some countries it be founded on natural reason; and a wide difference ought to be made between such countries, and those in which even natural reason rejects it, as in Europe, where it has been so happily abolished.

This punishment of death is the remedy, as it were, of a sick society.

What is not useful to the swarm is not useful to the bee.

The culminating point of administration is to know well how much power, great or small, we ought to use in all circumstances.

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First Name
Baron de
Last Name
Montesquieu, fully Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu
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French Philosopher, Political Thinker and Social Commentator