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The 54 best quotes of Montesquieu

The 54 best quotes of Montesquieu

June 3, 2023

The Baron de Montesquieu , Charles-Louis de Secondat (1689 - 1755), is surely one of the most important thinkers of the eighteenth century of Western Europe. Following the family tradition, he graduated in law to subsequently hold the position of adviser in the parliament of Bordeaux for more than a decade.

His thought and ideological current was somewhat controversial. Defender of civil and political rights, he also had resounding ovations for the despotic system of the Old Regime, as well as defending the monarchical (liberal) system as the most balanced model to guarantee progress and stability in a society.

  • Related article: "75 philosophical phrases pronounced by great thinkers"

The most outstanding phrases of Montesquieu

In this section we review the 54 most famous quotes of the Frank thinker. The following are the best Montesquieu phrases .

1. In order that power can not be abused, power must stop the power

Montesquieu defended control mechanisms to avoid this phenomenon.

2. Countries are not cultivated because of their fertility, but because of their freedom

Freedom is what forms civilizations.

3. Most men are capable of great actions rather than good deeds

Throughout history man has shown his desire to excel.

4. Divorce is indispensable in modern civilizations

With this phrase so modern for the time, the author raised suspicions.

5. When men promise a woman that they will always love her, they in turn assume that they promise to be always kind.

The Baron de Montesquieu understood love in this way, as something reciprocal.

6. When a government lasts a long time it breaks down little by little and without noticing it

Too much time in power wears away its legitimacy.

7. If the triangles made a God, they would devise it with three sides

With this phrase the author intends to make a description of the divine being.

8. Adversity is our mother; Prosperity is only our stepmother

Excellent way to pose what life means.

9. The law should be like death, which does not exempt anyone

Justice was a fundamental pillar for the author.

10. An injustice done to the individual is a threat made to the whole society

With this phrase explains how important it is to avoid injustice in a government.

11. Sports like it because it flatters avarice, that is, the hope of having more

Hard and eloquent criticism towards what sport represented at that time, similar to the current one.

12. To be really great, you have to be with people, not above them

This phrase 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 heat of justice

Sometimes, politics is not exercised with laws, because they can be unfair.

14. When one seeks so much the way of making oneself afraid, one always finds oneself to be hated first

Power is often associated with fear, bad combination to legitimize their actions.

15. People who have little to do are usually very talkative: the more they think and act, the less they talk

It is a good definition to describe the attitude of certain groups.

16. In public law the most severe act of justice is war, because it can have the effect of destroying society

With this phrase you can deduce a certain defense to the war action.

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. Useless laws weaken the necessary

It is an evil that does not seem to have been elucidated.

20. Most admirable: not talking about things until after they're done

It is usually a common mistake in ignorant people.

21. Friendship is a contract by which we force ourselves to do small favors

Curious phrase of Montesquieu that describes in a reductionist way the concept of friendship.

22. When death has matched fortunes, funerals should not differentiate them

Excellent contribution to explain the consciousness of classes.

23. One thing is not just because it is law. It must be law because it's fair

The laws emanate from the popular will.

24. A man is not unhappy 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 someone famous becomes a social deity.

26. The truth in one time is error in another

Contextualization is relevant to determine the good and bad in time.

27. You have to study hard to know a little

Sometimes it is better to specialize in a field than to know everything and wrong.

28. Happy the people whose history is read with boredom

Is boredom an indispensable 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 the nature of the human being.

30. The clergy and the 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 lawman, the author defended his maximum premise in this way.

32. To most people I prefer to give them reason quickly rather than listen to them

With this phrase the author described the majority of society as ignorant.

33. Freedom consists of 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 the way in which men should love women.

35. To succeed in the world, you have to look crazy and be wise

Most of the geniuses of mankind were peculiar characters.

36. Normally, those who have great talent are naive

The good speaker is not always a great thinker.

37. We always want to be happier than others, and that's wrong

The human being lives by and for eternal comparison with others.

38. Democracy must guard against two excesses: the spirit of inequality and the spirit of extreme equality

Excellent phrase to oppose two essential concepts in a society.

39. Freedom is the right to do what the laws allow

For Montesquieu, outside the law there is only despotism.

40. The decomposition of all government begins with the decay of the principles on which it was founded

Only when the principles are betrayed does it lead to failure.

41. When societies are born, the heads of a State are those that 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 they forbid, it would no longer be freedom, since any other would have the same right

It becomes again a defense at all costs of the laws with this phrase.

43. Afterwards, this special character is that which forms the heads of State

The figure of the president, head of state or king, is also usually the reflection of the people he represents.

44. We always imagine others much happier than they really are

The human being falls constantly in this error, compared with others.

45. If it were enough for us to be happy, the thing would be very easy; but we want to be happier than others

With this phrase, once again, it is emphasized in the bad habit of comparison.

46. ​​Most times success depends on knowing how long it will take to achieve it

Success lies in the timeline on many occasions.

47. Luxury is always in proportion to the unevenness of fortunes

This phrase perfectly describes the inequality between classes.

48. More States have perished by the depravity of customs than by the violation of laws

A State is due to its customs and people.

49. The man of talent is naturally inclined to criticism, because he sees more things than other men and sees them better

With this phrase the thinker tries to describe how intelligence can manifest itself.

50. I would like to abolish the funeral parlor. You have to mourn men when they are born and not when they die

Quirky way of criticizing the funeral ritual.

51. The heads of the larger men shrink when they meet

It is not always a good combination when bright minds meet. It falls into the homogenization of discourse.

52. The Christian religion, which seems to have no other purpose than the happiness of the afterlife, makes us happy in this one too.

With this phrase a good description of what religion can suppose is made.

53. Study has been for me the main remedy against the concerns of life

Reading, studying and checking is the best remedy for ignorance.

54. Talent is a gift that God makes us in secret, and that we unknowingly reveal

That is why it is called a gift, because we practice it without conscience.

Exploring Federalist 51: Separation of Powers (June 2023).

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