Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
Search Quotes Search Sages Search Chapters

Voltaire, François-Marie Arouet

1694 – 1778 CE

Nemesis to tyrants and fanatics of all styles, powerful fighter for civil rights, separation of church and state, freedom of speech and religion; Voltaire drank up to 72 cups of coffee a day and wrote more than 2,000 books and pamphlets. Admiring Confucian ethics and political theory, his writings inspired the founders of America, the best thinkers of his time, numerous kings, queens and world leaders, millions of people in every generation since. To a large extent we owe to his influence much of the freedoms in the world today; the humane treatment of the insane, sick, and criminal; the number of libraries, schools, and universities for common people. Historian Will Durant wrote, “When we cease to honor Voltaire, we shall be unworthy of freedom.”

Eras

Sources

Philosophical Dictionary

Unlisted Sources

Notebooks

Poéme sur le désastre de Lisbonne, 1756

Quotes by Voltaire, François-Marie Arouet (58 quotes)

“If religion no longer gives birth to civil wars, it is to philosophy alone that we are indebted.”

Chapters: 31. Victory Funeral

Themes: War Philosophy

Comments: Click to comment

“Cherish those who seek the truth but beware of those who find it.”

Chapters: 38. Fruit Over Flowers

Themes: Education

Comments: Click to comment

“Common sense is not so common.”

Chapters: 21. Following Empty Heart

Themes: Reason

Comments: Click to comment

“Dare to think for yourself.”

Chapters: 38. Fruit Over Flowers

Comments: Click to comment

“Don't think money does everything or you are going to end up doing everything for money.”

Chapters: 44. Fame and Fortune

Themes: Money Economics

Comments: Click to comment

“Doubt is an uncomfortable condition, but certainty is a ridiculous one.”

Chapters: 65. Simplicity: the Hidden Power of Goodness

Themes: Doubt

Comments: Click to comment

“He must be very ignorant for he answers every question he is asked.”

Chapters: 15. Inscrutability

Comments: Click to comment

“I don’t know where I am going, but I am on my way.”

Chapters: 81. Journey Without Goal

Comments: Click to comment

“It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.”

Chapters: 31. Victory Funeral

Comments: Click to comment

“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.”

Chapters: 48. Unlearning

Comments: Click to comment

“Love truth, but pardon error.”

Chapters: 63. Easy as Hard

Themes: Compassion

Comments: Click to comment

“Meditation is the dissolution of thoughts in Eternal awareness or Pure consciousness without objectification, knowing without thinking, merging finitude in infinity.”

Chapters: 16. Returning to the Root, Meditation

Comments: Click to comment

“Now, now my good man, this is no time to be making enemies.”

Chapters: 24. Unnecessary Baggage

Themes: Death and Dying

Comments: Click to comment

“The art of medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.”

Chapters: 57. Wu Wei

Themes: Health Medicine

Comments: Click to comment

“The comfort of the rich depends upon an abundant supply of the poor.”

Chapters: 46. Enough

Themes: Wealth

Comments: Click to comment

“The longer we dwell on our misfortunes, the greater is their power to harm us.”

Chapters: 79. No Demands

Themes: Complaint

Comments: Click to comment

“The more a man knows, the less he talks.”

Chapters: 56. One with the Dust

Themes: Less is More

Comments: Click to comment

“The more I read, the more I acquire, the more certain I am that I know nothing.”

Chapters: 67. Three Treasures

Themes: Know Yourself

Comments: Click to comment

“The most important decision you make is to be in a good mood.”

Chapters: 50. Claws and Swords

Comments: Click to comment

“The secret of being a bore is to tell everything.”

Chapters: 70. Inscrutable

Themes: Inscrutable

Comments: Click to comment

“What is history? The lie that everyone agrees on…”

Chapters: 65. Simplicity: the Hidden Power of Goodness

Comments: Click to comment

“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.

Chapters: 18. The Sick Society

Themes: Doubt

Comments: Click to comment

“Illusion is the first of all pleasures.”

Themes: Pleasure Illusion

Comments: Click to comment

“There are no real pleasures without real needs.”

Comments: Click to comment

“Sexual love is the material of nature embroidered by the imagination.”

from Philosophical Dictionary

Themes: Sex

Comments: Click to comment

“When one has destroyed an error, there is always someone who resuscitates it. One must combat ceaselessly.”

from Philosophical Dictionary

Themes: Lies

Comments: Click to comment

“Clerics and vicars, ignorant imbeciles, whom other ignoramuses who libel and slander the Mohammedan religion saying it is voluptuos and sensual; there is not a word of truth in it, you have been deceived on this point as on so many others.”

from Philosophical Dictionary

Comments: Click to comment

“Christians tricked, hated, excommunicated, condemned, and denounced each other because of unintelligible, minute differences in dogma that no one could understand. And that’s why they slaughtered each other over and over again.”

from Philosophical Dictionary

Themes: Christianity

Comments: Click to comment

“The best form of government? The rich will tell you an aristocracy, the people will reply a democracy; kings along prefer royalty. Why then is almost all the world governed by monarchs? Men are rarely worthy of governing themselves.”

from Philosophical Dictionary

Comments: Click to comment

“To wish for the greatness of our own country is often to wish evil to neighboring countries. Those who wish their own country to be neither greater or smaller, richer or poorer are true citizens of the universe.”

from Philosophical Dictionary

Comments: Click to comment

“All men would be equal had they been without wants; it is the misery attached to our species which subordinates one man to another; inequality is not the real misfortune, it's dependence... why should servants be sought for when no service is required.”

from Philosophical Dictionary

Themes: Equality

Comments: Click to comment

“After building a shed at the end of my garden, I heard an ant and a mole arguing. The mole said, 'What a fine structure, it must have been a very powerful mole who built this.' The ant replied, 'You must be joking. This builder is obviously an an ant of mighty genius.'”

from Philosophical Dictionary

Comments: Click to comment

“From all those ideas which have crowded into my brain in conflict with each other, I have obtained nothing but uncertainty. However, it is much more sad and foolish for a man to believe he knows what in fact he does not.”

from Philosophical Dictionary

Comments: Click to comment

“I want my lawyer, my tailor, my servants, even my wife to believe in God, because it means that I shall be cheated and robbed and cuckolded less often. ... If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.”

Themes: Belief God

Comments: Click to comment

“Doctors put drugs of which they know little into bodies of which they know less for diseases of which they know nothing at all.”

Themes: Health

Comments: Click to comment

“In general, the art of government consists in taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other.”

Themes: Government

Comments: Click to comment

“Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.”

Themes: Music

Comments: Click to comment

“Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.”

Themes: Books Pleasure

Comments: Click to comment

“God is a comedian playing to an audience that is too afraid to laugh, a circle whose center is everywhere and circumference nowhere.”

Themes: God

Comments: Click to comment

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”

Themes: Appreciation

Comments: Click to comment

“The Inquisition is well known to be an admirable and truly Christian invention for increasing the power of the popes and monks, and rendering the population of a whole kingdom hypocrites.”

from Philosophical Dictionary

Themes: Evil Power

Comments: Click to comment

“Books rule the world... [and] it is with books as with men: a very small number play a great part.”

Themes: Books

Comments: Click to comment

“If Xenophon had no other merit than that of being the friend of the martyr Socrates, he would be interesting; but he was also a warrior, philosopher, poet, historian, agriculturist, and charming in society.”

from Philosophical Dictionary

Comments: Click to comment

“One day everything will be well—that is our hope.
Everything's fine today—that is our delusion.”

from Poéme sur le désastre de Lisbonne, 1756

Themes: Delusion Hope

Comments: Click to comment

“Your religion, although it has some good points, such as worship of the great Being, and the necessity of being just and charitable, is otherwise nothing but a rehash of Judaism and a tedious collection of fairy tales. If the archangel Gabriel had brought the leaves of the Koran to Mahomet from some planet, all Arabia would have seen Gabriel come down : nobody saw him; therefore Mahomet was a brazen impostor who deceived imbeciles.”

Comments: Click to comment

“Tell me if there have been peoples other than the Christians and the Jews in whom zeal and religion wretchedly transformed into fanaticism, have inspired so many horrible cruelties…. Yes, the Mohammedans… As for the other nations there has not been one right from the existence of the world which has ever made a purely religious war.”

from Philosophical Dictionary

Comments: Click to comment

“What has the vain science of words to do with the morality which should guide your actions?”

from Philosophical Dictionary

Comments: Click to comment

“If you could ask a toad, 'What is beauty?', he would reply that it is a female with two big round eyes coming out of her little head”

from Philosophical Dictionary

Themes: Beauty

Comments: Click to comment

“Dante was a madman, and his work is a monstrosity. He has many commentators, and therefore cannot be understood. His reputation will go on increasing, for no one ever reads him.”

Comments: Click to comment

“Shakespeare is a barbarian who wrote monstrous farces called tragedies.”

Comments: Click to comment

“Who was the greatest man? Without doubt it was Isaac Newton for it was him who mastered our minds by the force of truth and deserves our reverence, not the Caesars, Alexanders, and Cromwells who enslave our minds with violence and war.”

Comments: Click to comment

“To wish the greatness of our own country is often to wish evil to our neighbors. He who could bring himself to wish that his country should always remain as it is, would be a citizen of the universe.”

from Philosophical Dictionary

Comments: Click to comment

“As long as people believe in absurdities, they will continue to commit atrocities.”

from Philosophical Dictionary

Comments: Click to comment

“He does not join any of the sects which all contradict one another. His religion is most ancient and the most widespread... to do good is his worship... he succors the indigent and defends the oppressed.”

from Philosophical Dictionary

Comments: Click to comment

“It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere.”

Themes: Golden Chains

Comments: Click to comment

“Atheism and fanaticism are two monsters which may tear society to pieces; but the atheist preserves his reason which checks his propensity to mischief while the fanatic is under the influence of a madness which is constantly urging him on”

Comments: Click to comment

“no one has ever employed so much intellect to persuade men to be beasts. In reading your work one is seized with a desire to walk on 4 paws. However, as it is more than 60 years since I lost that habit, I feel, unfortunately, that it is impossible for me to resume it...”

Comments: Click to comment

“When I see Christians cursing Jews, methinks I see children beating their fathers.”

from Notebooks

Comments: Click to comment

Quotes about Voltaire, François-Marie Arouet (5 quotes)

“Jesus wept; Voltaire smiled. Of that divine tear and that human smile is composed the sweetness of the present civilization.”

Victor Hugo 1802 – 1885 CE
Literary pioneer, poet, and social justice provocateur
from Le centenaire de Voltaire, 1878​

Themes: Civilization

Comments: Click to comment

“Venerable patriarch of French letters, the glory of France, defender of a hundred victims of intolerant creeds and unjust laws; Voltaire's crowning and redeeming virtue was his humanity. He stirred the conscience of Europe, he denounced war as 'the great illusion.' He could be irascible and break out in a temper; but, did his virtues outweigh his vices? Yes, and even if we do not place in the scale his intellectual with his moral qualities. Against his parsimony we must place his generosity, against his love of money his cheerful acceptance of losses and his readiness to share his gains.”

Will (and Ariel) Durant 1885 – 1981 CE
from Rousseau and Revolution

Comments: Click to comment

“Italy had a Renaissance, and Germany had a Reformation, but France had Voltaire; he was for his country both Renaissance and Reformation, and half the Revolution. He was first and best in his time in his conception and writing of history, in the grace of his poetry, in the charm and wit of his prose, in the range of his thought and his influence. His spirit moved like a flame over the continent and the century, and stirs a million souls in every generation.”

Will (and Ariel) Durant 1885 – 1981 CE

Comments: Click to comment

“Voltaire said about God that ‘there is no God, but don’t tell that to my servant, lest he murder me at night’. Hammurabi would have said the same about his principle of hierarchy, and Thomas Jefferson about human rights. Homo sapiens has no natural rights, just as spiders, hyenas and chimpanzees have no natural rights. But don’t tell that to our servants, lest they murder us at night.”

Yuval Harari יובל נח הררי‎ 1976 CE –
Israeli historian, professor, and philosopher

from Sapiens

Themes: Deception

Comments: Click to comment

“Voltaire began the great age of the Enlightenment. Things came to him dull and he made them radiant. Never did one man teach so many, or with such irresistible artistry. As all Europe bowed to the scepter of his pen, so the great leaders of the mind in later centuries honored him as the fountainhead of the intellectual enlightenment. If we forget to honor Voltaire, we become unworthy of freedom.”

Will Durant 1885 – 1981 CE via Shan Dao
Philosophy apostle and popularizer of history's lessons
from Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time, 1968

Comments: Click to comment

Comments (0)

Please log in or create an account to comment.