I only study the things I like; I apply my mind only to matters that interest me. They'll be useful-or useless-to me or to others in due course, I'll be given-or not given-the opportunity of benefiting from what I've learned. In any case, I'll have enjoyed the inestimable advantage of doing things I like doing and following my own inclinations.
Education must have two foundations --morality as a support for virtue, prudence as a defense for self against the vices of others. By letting the balance incline to the side of morality, you only make dupes or martyrs; by letting it incline to the other, you make calculating egoists.
Men whose only concern is other people's opinion of them are like actors who put on a poor performance to win the applause of people of poor taste; some of them would be capable of good acting in front of a good audience. A decent man plays his part to the best of his ability, regardless of the taste of the gallery.
Society ... is nothing more than the war of a thousand petty opposed interests, an eternal strife of all the vanities, which, turn in turn wounded and humiliated one by the other, intercross, come into collision, and on the morrow expiate the triumph of the eve in the bitterness of defeat. To live alone, to remain unjostled in this miserable struggle, where for a moment one draws the eyes of the spectators, to be crushed a moment later -- this is what is called being a nonentity, having no existence. Poor humanity!