Power to the people, right on

“The people is an animal which can see and hear, but never thinks.  It is in a state of surprising lethargy or of surprising fury and goes constantly backwards and forwards from one state to the other, never knowing where it came from.” –  Montesquieu, “Letter 111,” Persian Letters (trans. Betts)

Ground down and cast away

“Piety, a sign of strength in some characters, is in others a sign of weakness.  It is never without significance: for if on the one hand it is attractive in those who are virtuous, it completes the degradation of those who are not.” – Montesquieu, “Appendix 10,” Persian Letters (trans. Betts)

The Congress is in session

“Most legislators have been men of limited abilities who have become leaders by chance, and have taken scarcely anything into account except their own whims and prejudices.  They seem not even to have been aware of the grandeur and dignity of their task: they have passed the time making puerile regulations, which, it is true, have satisfied those without much intelligence, but have discredited them with men of sense.” —  Montesquieu, “Letter 125,” Persian Letters (trans. Betts)

You may rather be in Philadelphia

“I have read descriptions of Paradise which would make any sensible person stop wanting to go there: according to some, the spirits of the blessed spend all their time playing the flute; others sentence them to walk about for ever; others again claim that while up there they dream about their mistresses down here, considering that a hundred million years is not too long for them to lose their taste for being love-sick.” – Montesquieu, “Letter 125,” Persian Letters (trans. Betts)

No, he’s not talking about Facebook

“Everywhere I see people who talk continually about themselves.  Their conversation is a mirror which always shows their own conceited faces.  They will talk to you about the tiniest events in their lives, which they expect to be magnified in your eyes by the interest that they themselves take in them.” – Montesquieu, “Letter 50,” Persian Letters (trans. Betts)

Hindbrain to the forefront

“Nothing is more depressing than consolations based on the necessity of evil, the uselessness of remedies, the inevitability of fate, the order of Providence, or the misery of the human condition.  It is ridiculous to try to alleviate misfortune by observing that we are born to be miserable.  It is much better to prevent the mind from indulging in such reflections, and to treat men as emotional beings, instead of treating them as rational.” – Montesquieu, “Letter 33,” Persian Letters (trans. Betts)