25 Enlightened Wisdom of Cesare Beccaria Quote

Raise your empathy levels with our Cesare Beccaria quotes. 

Cesare Beccaria devoted his life to raising the collective consciousness of humanity. 

His efforts to question crime and punishment led to reform and transformed our judicial systems. 

Check out our Cesare Beccaria quotes below to learn more!

Who was Cesare Beccaria?

Cesare Beccaria was born in 1738 in Milan, Italy. 

He is one of the greatest European minds of the eighteenth century. 

His writings on criminology and economics were ahead of their time and significantly impacted how many Western countries built their judicial systems. 

Check out some of these fascinating facts about Cesare Beccaria below: 

  • Beccaria’s treatise was well-received worldwide. 
  • At age twenty-two, Beccaria married sixteen-year-old Teresa Blasco.
  • Catherine the Great, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson quoted his work. 

In the early 1760s, Beccaria helped to form The Academy of Fists. 

The mission of The Academy of Fists was dedicated to economic, administrative, and political reform. 

In addition, On Crimes and Punishments was his most well-known book.

It was published in 1764 and considerably impacted European and American culture. 

What Cesare Beccaria is known for

Beccaria is known for many things, particularly regarding humanity and justice. 

He was an abolitionist whose work inspired many others to push to end enslavement and create just policing and prison systems. 

Even though the word genius gets thrown around a little too quickly sometimes, Beccaris was legitimately a genius. 

He received his primary education from the Jesuits and later excelled at the University of Pavia, where he earned his Law degree. 

Beccaria was a man who felt the pressures of the world. 

Therefore, he was prone to mood swings, vacillating between anger, enthusiasm, depression, and lethargy.

It is understandable why he would feel this way, given his profession. 

Beccaria made it his mission to uplift the minds of the world by encouraging people to let go of barbaric criminal systems that relied on torture and imprisonment. 

As a result, Beccaria became one of the godfathers of millions of people worldwide working towards prison reform. 

He was appealing for more humane systems over three hundred years ago! 

Short Cesare Beccaria quotes about torture and guilt

Beccaria staunchly supported ending torture as a means of deterring crime

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1. “Either he is guilty, or not guilty.” — Cesare Beccaria, Of Crime and Punishments

2. “What is the political intention of punishments?” — Cesare Beccaria, Of Crime and Punishments

3. “Ought such an abuse to be tolerated in the eighteenth century?” — Cesare Beccaria, Of Crime and Punishments

4. “By this method, the robust will escape, and the feeble be condemned.” — Cesare Beccaria, Of Crime and Punishments

5. “There is another ridiculous motive for torture, namely, to purge a man from infamy.” — Cesare Beccaria, Of Crime and Punishments

The top Cesare Beccaria quotes about pain and confessions

Beccaria understood that torturing people was ineffective in collecting information or confessions. 

6. “Perhaps the rack may be considered as the refiner’s furnace.” — Cesare Beccaria, Of Crime and Punishments

7. “Can pain, which is a sensation, have any connection with a moral sentiment, a matter of opinion?” — Cesare Beccaria, Of Crime and Punishments

8. “The torture of a criminal during the course of his trial is a cruelty consecrated by custom in most nations.” — Cesare Beccaria, Of Crime and Punishments

9. “Another intention of torture is to oblige the supposed criminal to reconcile the contradictions into which he may have fallen during his examination.” — Cesare Beccaria, Of Crime and Punishments

10. “Moreover, infamy is a sentiment regulated neither by the laws nor by reason, but entirely by opinion; but torture renders the victim infamous, and therefore cannot take infamy away.” — Cesare Beccaria, Of Crime and Punishment

Famous Cesare Beccaria quotes about judgment and guilt

Beccaria shares his thoughts and opinions on guilt and innocence in the following quotes. 

11. “To terrify and be an example to others. Is this intention answered by thus privately torturing the guilty and the innocent?” — Cesare Beccaria, Of Crime and 

12. “What right, then, but that of power, can authorize the punishment of a citizen so long as there remains any doubt of his guilt? This dilemma is frequent.” — Cesare Beccaria, Of Crime and Punishments

13. “No man can be judged a criminal until he be found guilty; nor can society take from him the public protection until it have been proved that he has violated the conditions on which it was granted.” — Cesare Beccaria, Of Crime and Punishments

14. “Besides, it is confounding all relations to expect that a man should be both the accuser and accused and that pain should be the test of truth as if truth resided in the muscles and fibers of a wretch in torture.” — Cesare Beccaria, Of Crime and Punishments

15. “If guilty, he should only suffer the punishment ordained by the laws, and torture becomes useless, as his confession is unnecessary if he be not guilty, you torture the innocent; for, in the eye of the law, every man is innocent whose crime has not been proved.” — Cesare Beccaria, Of Crime and Punishments

The best Cesare Beccaria quotes about fear and punishment 

Beccaria fought to end the logical fallacy that a tortured person’s admission of guilt is authentic. 

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16. “If it be true, that the number of those who from fear or virtue respect the laws is greater than of those by whom they are violated.” — Cesare Beccaria, Of Crime and Punishments

17. “It is doubtless of importance that no crime should remain unpunished, but it is useless to make a public example of the author of a crime hid in darkness.” — Cesare Beccaria, Of Crime and Punishments

18. “The risk of torturing an innocent person is greater, as there is a greater probability that, cæteris paribus, an individual hath observed, than that he hath infringed the laws.” — Cesare Beccaria, Of Crime and Punishments

19. “A crime already committed, and for which there can be no remedy, can only be punished by a political society with an intention that no hopes of impunity should induce others to commit the same.” — Cesare Beccaria, Of Crime and Punishments

20. “It is not difficult to trace this senseless law to its origin; for an absurdity, adopted by a whole nation, must have some affinity with other ideas established and respected by the same nation.” — Cesare Beccaria, Of Crime and Punishments

Cesare Beccaria quotes and sayings about religion, faith, and torture

Beccaria encouraged the people of his era to question how their faith could allow the brutal treatment of other human beings. 

21. “This custom seems to be the offspring of religion, by which mankind, in all nations and in all ages, are so generally influenced.” — Cesare Beccaria, Of Crime and Punishments

22. “Now infamy is a stain, and if the punishments and fire of purgatory can take away all spiritual stains, why should not the pain of torture take away those of a civil nature?” — Cesare Beccaria, Of Crime and Punishments

23. “We are taught by our infallible church, that those stains of sin contracted through human frailty, and which have not deserved the eternal anger of the Almighty, are to be purged away in another life by an incomprehensible fire.” — Cesare Beccaria, Of Crime and Punishments

24. “These are the inconveniences of this pretended test of truth, worthy only of a cannibal, and which the Romans, in many respects barbarous, and whose savage virtue has been too much admired, reserved for the slaves alone.” — Cesare Beccaria, Of Crime and Punishments

25. “I imagine, that the confession of a criminal, which in some tribunals is required as being essential to his condemnation, has a similar origin, and has been taken from the mysterious tribunal of penitence, were the confession of sins is a necessary part of the sacrament.” — Cesare Beccaria, Of Crime and Punishments

What were some of Cesare Beccaria’s philosophies?

Three tenets served as the basis for Beccaria’s theories regarding criminal justice. 

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He believed the three essential aspects supporting our opinions on criminal justice were free will, rational manner, and manipulability. 

He figured that free will allowed us to make choices. 

In addition, Beccaria also believed that most people should apply their rational manner to decision-making. 

The idea of manipulability refers to the predictable ways people act out of self-interest. 

In other words, people could be dissuaded from committing crimes if the punishment outweighs the benefits of the crime. 

This idea, he believed, would render crime an illogical choice if presented to a rational person. 

However, critics of Beccaria felt some of his logic was flawed as it left out the behavior of nonrational people. 

What is your opinion about Cesare Beccaria’s philosophy?

Do you agree with his position?

Please, let us know in the comment section below. 

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