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Étienne Bonnot de Condillac

French academic
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The art of reasoning is nothing more than a language well arranged.

Étienne Bonnot de Condillac (30 September 17143 August 1780) was a French philosopher.


  • It is not true that on an exchange of commodities we give value for value. On the contrary, each of the two contracting parties in every case, gives a less for a greater value. … If we really exchanged equal values, neither party could make a profit. And yet, they both gain, or ought to gain. Why? The value of a thing consists solely in its relation to our wants. What is more to the one is less to the other, and vice versa. … It is not to be assumed that we offer for sale articles required for our own consumption. … We wish to part with a useless thing, in order to get one that we need; we want to give less for more. … It was natural to think that, in an exchange, value was given for value, whenever each of the articles exchanged was of equal value with the same quantity of gold. … But there is another point to be considered in our calculation. The question is, whether we both exchange something superfluous for something necessary.
    • Le Commerce et le Gouvernement (1776), as quoted in Marx's Capital, Vol. I, Ch. 5.
  • The art of reasoning is nothing more than a language well arranged.
    • As quoted in Antoine Lavoisier, Elements of Chemistry (trans. Robert Kerr, 1790), Preface, p. xiv.
  • We shall not … begin this logic by definitions, axioms, or principles; we shall begin by observing the lessons which nature gives us.
    • The Logic of Condillac (trans. Joseph Neef, 1809), "Of the Method of Thinking", p. 3.
  • The tone in which an Englishman expresses anger would, in Italy, be only a mark of surprise.
    • As quoted in David Booth, The principles of English composition (1831), p. 8.
  • Our ideas are transformed sensations.
    • As quoted in Treasury of Wisdom, Wit and Humor, Odd Comparisons and Proverbs (1878), p. 204.
  • To the eye of God there are no numbers: seeing all things at one time, he counts nothing.
    • As quoted in Physically Speaking: A Dictionary of Quotations on Physics and Astronomy (1997), p. 101.

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