Frases de Denis Diderot página 2

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Denis Diderot

Fecha de nacimiento: 5. Octubre 1713
Fecha de muerte: 31. Julio 1784

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Denis Diderot fue una figura decisiva de la Ilustración como escritor, filósofo y enciclopedista francés.

Reconocido por su empuje intelectual y su erudición, por su espíritu crítico así como su excepcional genio, marcó hitos en la historia de cada uno de los campos en los que participó: sentó las bases del drama burgués en teatro, revolucionó la novela con Jacques le fataliste o La religiosa y el diálogo con La paradoja del comediante, y, por otra parte, creó la crítica a través de sus salones. En conjunto con Jean-Baptiste le Rond d’Alembert alentó, supervisó la redacción, editó y compiló una de las obras culturales más importantes de la centuria: L'Encyclopédie, obra magna compuesta por 72 000 artículos, de los cuales unos 6.000 fueron aportados por el propio Diderot.

En filosofía, su obra sólo en apariencia sería lateral, pues fue citado muy a menudo por Ernst Cassirer en un texto clave, La filosofía de la Ilustración, por su innovación en muchos campos; así sucede en la nueva ciencia de la vida que él presagia desde la mitad de su vida. De hecho anuncia en su Pensées sur l'interprétation de la nature , libro que se abre con esta ironía:

Joven toma y lee. Si puedes llegar hasta el final de esta obra, no te costará comprender otra mejor. Como me he propuesto no tanto instruirte como ejercitarte, poco me importa que admitas mis ideas o que las rechaces, con tal de que ocupen toda tu atención. Alguien más capacitado te enseñará a conocer las fuerzas de la naturaleza; me bastará con haber puesto las tuyas a prueba. Adiós.

En el centro del pensamiento de Diderot estaba el conflicto –y esto puede ser válido también para otros pensadores del siglo XVIII– entre la razón y la sensibilidad: sens et sensibilité. Para Diderot, la razón se caracterizaba por la búsqueda de conocimientos con fundamento científico y por la verificabilidad de los hechos observados empíricamente, pero sin quedarse estancados en la evaluación meramente cuantitativa de la realidad a través de enunciados matemáticos. Entre los años 1754 y 1765 desarrolló su «teoría de la sensibilidad universal» .

Para Denis Diderot, las ciencias naturales no se distinguirían por buscar un porqué, sino por encontrar soluciones a través de responder al cómo.

En el transcurso de su vida como intelectual, Diderot se dedicó a los más distintos ámbitos de la ciencia; sus intereses abarcaron áreas de la química, de la física, de las matemáticas, así como también, y sobre todo, de la historia natural, la anatomía y la medicina. Por todo ello, Diderot formó parte del espíritu intelectual del siglo XVIII, manteniéndose al tanto y participando activamente de las principales discusiones y formación de teorías en su época.

En cuanto a su posición filosófica, mantuvo una postura materialista no dogmática, actitud especialmente evidente en sus obras posteriores. Aunque Denis Diderot no era un filósofo dedicado a los problemas teóricos fundamentales ni a las reflexiones analíticas sistematizadoras, se le cuenta, sin embargo, entre los autores filosóficos más polifacéticos e innovadores del siglo XVIII.

Debido a sus ideas y publicaciones ilustradas frente al ideario colectivo del Antiguo Régimen, Denis Diderot y sus compañeros de ruta se vieron con frecuencia expuestos a una actitud represiva de parte del poder público. Su experiencia a raíz de su detención en 1749 le llevó a estar vigilante frente a nuevas represiones por parte de las diversas agencias de la censura, aunque algunas personas pertenecientes a los círculos influyentes y dominantes, como p. ej. Mme de Pompadour, la querida de Luis XV, así como también algunos ministros, pero ante todo el jefe de la censura, Censure royale Guillaume-Chrétien de Lamoignon de Malesherbes, clandestinamente le apoyaban a él y a los enciclopedistas.

Por lo anterior, los círculos interesados de su época, que le conocieron exclusivamente por sus publicaciones, solo tuvieron acceso a una reducida selección de sus ensayos, novelas, obras de teatro y principalmente artículos escritos para L'Encyclopédie.

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Frases Denis Diderot

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„He does not confound it with probability; he takes for true what is true, for false what is false, for doubtful what is doubtful, and probable what is only probable. He does more, and here you have a great perfection of the philosopher: when he has no reason by which to judge, he knows how to live in suspension of judgment...
The philosophical spirit is, then, a spirit of observation and exactness, which relates everything to true principles...“

—  Denis Diderot
Context: Reason is to the philosopher what grace is to the Christian. Grace causes the Christian to act, reason the philosopher. Other men are carried away by their passions, their actions not being preceded by reflection: these are the men who walk in darkness. On the other hand, the philosopher, even in his passions, acts only after reflection; he walks in the dark, but by a torch. The philosopher forms his principles from an infinity of particular observations. Most people adopt principles without thinking of the observations that have produced them, they believe the maxims exist, so to speak, by themselves. But the philosopher takes maxims from their source; he examines their origin; he knows their proper value, and he makes use of them only in so far as they suit him. Truth is not for the philosopher a mistress who corrupts his imagination and whom he believes to be found everywhere; he contents himself with being able to unravel it where he can perceive it. He does not confound it with probability; he takes for true what is true, for false what is false, for doubtful what is doubtful, and probable what is only probable. He does more, and here you have a great perfection of the philosopher: when he has no reason by which to judge, he knows how to live in suspension of judgment... The philosophical spirit is, then, a spirit of observation and exactness, which relates everything to true principles... Article on Philosophy, Vol. 25, p. 667, as quoted in Main Currents of Western Thought : Readings in Western European Intellectual History from the Middle Ages to the Present (1978) by Franklin Le Van Baumer Variant translation: Reason is to the philosopher what grace is to the Christian. Grace moves the Christian to act, reason moves the philosopher. Other men walk in darkness; the philosopher, who has the same passions, acts only after reflection; he walks through the night, but it is preceded by a torch. The philosopher forms his principles on an infinity of particular observations. … He does not confuse truth with plausibility; he takes for truth what is true, for forgery what is false, for doubtful what is doubtful, and probable what is probable. … The philosophical spirit is thus a spirit of observation and accuracy.

„There are three principal means of acquiring knowledge available to us: observation of nature, reflection, and experimentation.“

—  Denis Diderot
Context: There are three principal means of acquiring knowledge available to us: observation of nature, reflection, and experimentation. Observation collects facts; reflection combines them; experimentation verifies the result of that combination. Our observation of nature must be diligent, our reflection profound, and our experiments exact. We rarely see these three means combined; and for this reason, creative geniuses are not common. No. 15

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„Man was born to live with his fellow human beings.“

—  Denis Diderot
Context: Man was born to live with his fellow human beings. Separate him, isolate him, his character will go bad, a thousand ridiculous affects will invade his heart, extravagant thoughts will germinate in his brain, like thorns in an uncultivated land. The character Suzanne Simon, in La Religieuse [The Nun] (1796)

„The philosopher forms his principles from an infinity of particular observations.“

—  Denis Diderot
Context: Reason is to the philosopher what grace is to the Christian. Grace causes the Christian to act, reason the philosopher. Other men are carried away by their passions, their actions not being preceded by reflection: these are the men who walk in darkness. On the other hand, the philosopher, even in his passions, acts only after reflection; he walks in the dark, but by a torch. The philosopher forms his principles from an infinity of particular observations. Most people adopt principles without thinking of the observations that have produced them, they believe the maxims exist, so to speak, by themselves. But the philosopher takes maxims from their source; he examines their origin; he knows their proper value, and he makes use of them only in so far as they suit him. Truth is not for the philosopher a mistress who corrupts his imagination and whom he believes to be found everywhere; he contents himself with being able to unravel it where he can perceive it. He does not confound it with probability; he takes for true what is true, for false what is false, for doubtful what is doubtful, and probable what is only probable. He does more, and here you have a great perfection of the philosopher: when he has no reason by which to judge, he knows how to live in suspension of judgment... The philosophical spirit is, then, a spirit of observation and exactness, which relates everything to true principles... Article on Philosophy, Vol. 25, p. 667, as quoted in Main Currents of Western Thought : Readings in Western European Intellectual History from the Middle Ages to the Present (1978) by Franklin Le Van Baumer Variant translation: Reason is to the philosopher what grace is to the Christian. Grace moves the Christian to act, reason moves the philosopher. Other men walk in darkness; the philosopher, who has the same passions, acts only after reflection; he walks through the night, but it is preceded by a torch. The philosopher forms his principles on an infinity of particular observations. … He does not confuse truth with plausibility; he takes for truth what is true, for forgery what is false, for doubtful what is doubtful, and probable what is probable. … The philosophical spirit is thus a spirit of observation and accuracy.

„What is this world? A complex whole, subject to endless revolutions.“

—  Denis Diderot
Context: What is this world? A complex whole, subject to endless revolutions. All these revolutions show a continual tendency to destruction; a swift succession of beings who follow one another, press forward, and vanish; a fleeting symmetry; the order of a moment. I reproached you just now with estimating the perfection of things by your own capacity; and I might accuse you here of measuring its duration by the length of your own days. You judge of the continuous existence of the world, as an ephemeral insect might judge of yours. The world is eternal for you, as you are eternal to the being that lives but for one instant. Yet the insect is the more reasonable of the two. For what a prodigious succession of ephemeral generations attests your eternity! What an immeasurable tradition! Yet shall we all pass away, without the possibility of assigning either the real extension that we filled in space, or the precise time that we shall have endured. Time, matter, space — all, it may be, are no more than a point. Dying words of Nicholas Saunderson as portrayed in Lettre sur les aveugles [Letter on the Blind] (1749) Variant translation: What is this world of ours? A complex entity subject to sudden changes which all indicate a tendency to destruction; a swift succession of beings which follow one another, assert themselves and disappear; a fleeting symmetry; a momentary order.

„The arbitrary rule of a just and enlightened prince is always bad.“

—  Denis Diderot
Context: The arbitrary rule of a just and enlightened prince is always bad. His virtues are the most dangerous and the surest form of seduction: they lull a people imperceptibly into the habit of loving, respecting, and serving his successor, whoever that successor may be, no matter how wicked or stupid. "Refutation of Helvétius" (written 1773-76, published 1875)

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