17th-century Philosopher Quotes
Brutes are deprived of the high advantages which we have; but they have some which we have not. They have not our hopes, but theyare without our fears; they are subject like us to death, but without knowing it; even most of them are more attentive than we to self-preservation, and do not make so bad a use of their passions.
Philosophy can be compared to some powders that are so corrosive that, after they have eaten away the infected flesh of a wound, they then devour the living flesh, rot the bones, and penetrate to the very marrow. Philosophy at first refutes errors. But if it is not stopped at this point, it goes on to attack truths. And when it is left on its own, it goes so far that it no longer knows where it is and can find no stopping place.
For truly in nature there are many operations that are far more than mechanical. Nature is not simply an organic body like a clock, which has no vital principle of motion in it; but it is a living body which has life and perception, which are much more exalted than a mere mechanism or a mechanical motion.
The art of being agreeable frequently miscarries through the ambition which accompanies it. Wit, learning, wisdom,--what can more effectually conduce to the profit and delight of society? Yet I am sensible that a man may be too invariably wise, learned, or witty to be agreeable; and I take the reason of this to be, that pleasure cannot be bestowed by the simple and unmixed exertion of any one faculty or accomplishment.
To discover the true principles of morality, men have no need of theology, of revelation, or of gods. They need but common sense. They have only to look within themselves, to reflect upon their own nature, to consult their obvious interests, to consider the object of society and of each of the members who compose it, and they will easily understand that virtue is an advantage, and that vice is an injury to beings of the species.