the Baron de Montesquieu, Charles-Louis de Secondat (1689 – 1755), is probably one of the most important thinkers of the 18th century in Western Europe. Faithful to the family tradition, he graduated in law and then held the post of adviser to the Parliament of Bordeaux for more than a decade.
His ideological thinking and his current were somewhat controversial. Defender of civil and political rights, he also received standing ovations for the despotic system of the Ancien Régime, as well as for defending the monarchical (liberal) system as the most balanced model for ensuring progress and stability in a society. .
The most striking phrases of Montesquieu
In this section, we review the 54 most memorable famous quotes from thinker Frank. Here are Montesquieu’s best quotes.
1. So that power is not abused, power must stop power
Montesquieu defended control mechanisms to prevent this phenomenon.
2. Countries are not cultivated because of their fertility, but because of their freedom
Freedom is what shapes civilizations.
3. Most men are capable of great deeds rather than good deeds
Throughout history, man has shown his eagerness to overcome.
4. Divorce is essential in modern civilizations
With this sentence so modern for the time, the author raised suspicions.
5. When men promise a woman to love her, they in turn always assume that they promise to always be nice.
Baron de Montesquieu thus understood love as something reciprocal.
6. When a government lasts a long time, it decomposes slowly and unnoticed
Too much time in power wears out its legitimacy.
7. If the triangles made a God, they would design him with three sides
With this sentence, the author intends to make a description of the divine being.
8. Adversity is our mother; prosperity is just our mother-in-law
Great way to think about what life means.
9. The law must be like death, which excludes no one
Justice was a fundamental pillar for the author.
10. An injustice done to the individual is a threat to the whole of society
With this sentence he explains how important it is to avoid injustice in a government.
11. He loves sport because it flatters greed, that is to say the hope of having more.
A harsh and eloquent criticism of what sport represented at that time, as it does today.
12. To be truly awesome, you need to be with people, not above them.
This sentence sums up perfectly what the qualities of greatness should be.
13. There is no worse tyranny than that which is exercised in the shadow of the laws and under the fire of justice.
Sometimes politics is not exercised with laws, as the laws can be unfair.
14. When we seek so much for the path to fear, we always first find the path to be hated.
Power is often associated with fear, a bad combination to legitimize their actions.
15. People who have little to do are usually very talkative: the more you think and work, the less you talk.
It is a good definition to describe the attitude of certain groups.
16. In public law, the most serious act of justice is war, because it can have the effect of destroying society.
With this sentence, some defense to warlike action can be deduced.
17. Bad examples are more harmful than crimes
You always have to know how to make analogies to give good explanations.
18. Customs make laws, women make customs; women, then, make the laws
For his time, the French thinker had very advanced ideas.
19. Unnecessary laws weaken necessary ones
It is an evil which does not seem to have been elucidated.
20. Wonderful maxim: don’t talk about things until they are finished
This is generally a common mistake among the ignorant.
21. Friendship is a contract by which we are obliged to do little favors.
Curious sentence from Montesquieu which describes in a reductionist way the concept of friendship.
22. When death has equaled fortunes, funerals should not differentiate them
Excellent contribution to explain the conscience of the class.
23. Something is not right because it is the law. It’s got to be the law cause it’s fair
The laws emanate from the popular will.
24. A man is not miserable because of ambition, but because it devours him.
Measured ambition can become a virtue.
25. It seems that our life increases when we can put it in the memory of others.
This phrase describes the post mortem phenomenon, when a famous person becomes a social deity.
26. The truth at one point is a mistake at another
Contextualization is relevant in determining right and wrong over time.
27. You have to study hard to know little
Sometimes it’s best to specialize in a know-it-all area.
28. Happy are the people whose history reads with boredom
Is boredom an essential variable to achieve happiness?
29. Give man the opportunity to be unjust, and he will not waste it
In some cases, Montesquieu was skeptical of human nature.
30. Clergy and nobility are a good method of control for the monarch
Even in a despotic system, there should be justice.
31. Nothing can and should not be above the laws that govern a society
As a good man of law, the author has thus defended his highest premise.
32. Most people prefer to be right quickly rather than listen to them
With this sentence, the author described the majority of society as ignorant.
33. Freedom is being able to do what needs to be done
Obligations are also part of the rights in a just society.
34. Here, a husband who loves his wife is a man who does not have enough merit to be loved by another.
Curious way to describe how a man should love a woman.
35. To be successful in the world, you have to look crazy and be wise
Most of the geniuses of mankind were original characters.
36. Usually those with great talent are naive
A good speaker is not always a great thinker.
37. We always want to be happier than others, and that’s wrong
Human beings live for and for eternal comparison with others.
38. Democracy must beware of two excesses: the spirit of inequality and the spirit of extreme equality
Excellent sentence to contrast two concepts essential in a society.
39. Freedom is the right to do what the laws allow
For Montesquieu, only despotism is outside the law.
40. The decomposition of any government begins with the decomposition of the principles on which it was founded.
It is only when principles are betrayed that it is doomed to failure.
41. When companies are born, heads of state are those who give it its special character
The figure of the highest authority in a country has enormous responsibilities.
42. If a citizen had the right to do what he forbids, he would no longer be free, because everyone else would have the same right.
An extreme defense of the laws is again made with this sentence.
43. Then, this special character is what forms the heads of state
The figure of president, head of state or king is also often a reflection of the city he represents.
44. We always imagine others to be much happier than they actually are
Human beings constantly fall into this error of comparing themselves to others.
45. If it was enough for us to be happy, the would be very easy; but we want to be happier than the others
With this sentence, once again, the emphasis is on the bad habit of comparison.
46. Most of the time, success depends on the time it takes to achieve it
Success lies in the timeline many times.
47. Luxury is always proportional to the inequality of fortunes
This sentence perfectly describes the inequality between the courses.
48. More states have died from depravity of customs than from violation of laws
A state is due to its customs and its people.
49. A talented man is naturally inclined to criticism, because he sees more things than other men and sees them better.
With this sentence, the thinker intends to describe how intelligence can manifest itself.
50. I would like to abolish funerals. Men need to cry when they are born, not when they die
Particular way of criticizing the funeral ritual.
51. The leaders of older men are afraid when they meet
It’s not always a good combination when brilliant minds meet. It is part of the homogenization of discourse.
52. The Christian religion, which seems to have for object only the happiness of the other life, also makes us happy in this
This sentence gives a good description of what religion can mean.
53. Study has been for me the main remedy against the worries of life.
Reading, studying and checking is the best remedy for ignorance.
54. Talent is a gift that God gives us in secret and that we reveal without knowing it
This is why it is called doing, because we practice it without consciousness.