Voltaire

(François-Marie Arouet)

Quotes
Quote Topics Cited
... common sense is very rare. Human Nature
... the art of government consists in taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
A minister of state is excusable for the harm he does when the helm of government has forced his hand in a storm; but in the calm he is guilty of all the good he does not do. Leaders & Leadership
A witty saying proves nothing. Oratory, Discussion & Debate
All men are equal; it is not their birth, but virtue itself that makes the difference Equality & Equal Opportunity
Animals have these advantages over man: they never hear the clock strike, they die without any idea of death, they have no theologians to instruct them, their last moments are not disturbed by unwelcome and unpleasant ceremonies, their funerals cost them nothing, and no one starts lawsuits over their wills. Humor ;Human Nature ;Animals
But that a camel-merchant should stir up insurrection in his village; that in league with some miserable followers he persuades them that he talks with the angel Gabriel; that he boasts of having been carried to heaven, where he received in part this unintelligible book, each page of which makes common sense shudder; that, to pay homage to this book, he delivers his country to iron and flame; that he cuts the throats of fathers and kidnaps daughters; that he gives to the defeated the choice of his religion or death: this is assuredly nothing any man can excuse, at least if he was not born a Turk, or if superstition has not extinguished all natural light in him. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
Clever tyrants are never punished. Justice & Injustice ;Dictators, Despots, Autocrats, Autocracies & Dictatorships
Doubt is not an agreeable condition, but certainty is an absurd one. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
Each day reason penetrates further into France, into the shops of merchants as well as the mansions of lords. We must cultivate the fruits of this reason, especially since it is impossible to check its advance. One cannot govern France, after it has been enlightened by Pascal, Nicole, Arnauld, Bossuiet, Descartes, Gassendi, Bayle, Fontenelle, and the others, as it as been governed in the times of Garasse and Menot. Equality & Equal Opportunity
Every sensible man, every honorable man, must hold the Christian sect in horror. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
God is always on the side of the big battalions Defense & National Security
Governments need to have both shepherds and butchers. Management & Managing Government
History is nothing more than a tableau of crimes and misfortunes History
I cannot imagine how the clockwork of the universe can exist without a clockmaker. Religion & God
I know I am among civilized men because they are fighting so savagely. War & Peace
If God has made us in his image, we have returned him the favor. Religion & God
If you desire to prevent the overrunning of the state by any sect, show it toleration. Minorities & Women
If you want good laws, burn those you have and make new ones. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement ;Reform, Change, Transformation & Reformers
It is an insult to reason and the laws to pronounce the words, 'Civil and Ecclesiastical Government.' … no regulation should be made save by the civil power. Religion & God
It is dangerous to be right in matters where established men are wrong. Freedom & Liberty
It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere. Freedom & Liberty ;Reform, Change, Transformation & Reformers
It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets. War & Peace
It would be easier to subjugate the entire universe through force of arms than to subjugate the minds of a single village. . . . Power
Let the punishments of criminals be useful. A hanged man is good for nothing; a man condemned to public works still serves the country, and is a living lesson. Capital Punishment, Dealth Penalty & State Execution
Man always needs a rein, and even if it might be ridiculous to sacrifice to fauns, or sylvans, or naiads, it is much more reasonable and more useful to venerate these fantastic images of the Divine than to sink into atheism. An atheist who is rational, violent, and powerful, would be as great a pestilence as a blood-mad, superstitious man Human Nature
Man is free at the instant he wants to be. Freedom & Liberty ;Human Nature
May we not return to those scoundrels of old, the illustrious founders of superstition and fanaticism, who first took the knife from the altar to make victims of those who refused to be their disciples? Religion & God
Men use thought only as authority for their injustice, and employ speech only to conceal their thoughts. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
Money is always to be found when men are to be sent to the frontiers to be destroyed: when the object is to preserve them, it is no longer so War & Peace
No freedom to the enemies of freedom Freedom & Liberty
No operas, plays, or concerts are allowed in London on Sundays, and even cards are so expressly forbidden that none but persons of quality, and those we call the genteel, play on that day; the rest of the nation go either to church, to the tavern, or to see their mistresses. Religion & God
Nothing is so common as to imitate one's enemies, and to use their weapons. Human Nature ;Military & Veterans
One always speaks badly when one has nothing to say. Oratory, Discussion & Debate
Peace is the fruit of toleration. War & Peace
Prejudice is an opinion without judgement. Human Nature
She is a great man whose only flaw is that she is a woman. Discrimination & Prejudice
The antiquity of an abuse is no justification for its continuance. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
The art of government consists in taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other. Taxes
The best is the enemy of the good. Management & Managing Government
The English have doubtless purchased their liberties at a very high price, and waded through seas of blood to drown the idol of arbitrary power. Other nations have been involved in as great calamities, and have shed as much blood; but then the blood they split in defense of their liberties only enslaved them the more Freedom & Liberty
The fewer dogmas, the fewer disputes; the fewer disputes, the fewer miseries War & Peace
The Holy Roman Empire is neither Holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire. Miscellaneous
The institution of religion exists only to keep mankind in order ... Religion & God
The man, who in a fit of melancholy, kills himself today, would have wished to live had he waited a week. Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest
The members of the English Parliament are fond of comparing themselves to the old Romans...(but) here follows a more essential difference between Rome and England, which gives the advantage entirely to the later-viz., that the civil wars of Rome ended in slavery, and those of the English in liberty. Freedom & Liberty
The most original minds borrowed from one another. Human Nature
The optimist says, ‘this is the best of all possible worlds.’ The pessimist considers that statement for a while and then says, ‘Yes, you are right.’ Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
The public is a ferocious beast: one must chain it up or flee from it. Public Opinion & Polling
There are truths which are not for all men, nor for all times. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
To hold a pen is to be at war. Communication & Communications ;War & Peace ;Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle ;Media, Journalism & The Press
Tolerance is as necessary in politics as it is in religion. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
We only half live when we only half think Human Nature
What we find in books is like the fire in our hearths. We fetch it from our neighbors, we kindle it at home, we communicate it to others, and it becomes the property of all. Copyrights, Patents & Intellectual Property
When it is a question of money, everybody is of the same religion. Religion & God ;Business, Commerce & Finance ;Money, Coins & Minting
When we hear news, we should always wait for the sacrament of confirmation. Media, Journalism & The Press
All men are born with a nose and five fingers, but no one is born with a knowledge of God. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training ;Religion & God
All styles are good except the tiresome kind.
All the reasonings of men are not worth one sentiment of women. Women
Anyone who seeks to destroy the passions instead of controlling them is trying to play the angel.
Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.
Better is the enemy of good.
By appreciation, we make excellence in others our own property.
Chance is a word void of sense; nothing can exist without a cause.
Common sense is not so common. Intelligence, Spying, Espionage & Covert Operations
Divorce is probably of nearly the same date as marriage. I believe, however, that marriage is some weeks the more ancient. Families, Children & Parenting
Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.
Each player must accept the cards life deals him or her: but once they are in hand, he or she alone must decide how to play the cards in order to win the game. Life
Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do.
Every one goes astray, but the least imprudent are they who repent the soonest.
Everything's fine today, that is our illusion.
Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe. Power ;Religion & God
Fear follows crime and is its punishment.
Friendship is the marriage of the soul, and this marriage is liable to divorce. Friendship ;Families, Children & Parenting
Froth at the top, dregs at bottom, but the middle excellent.
God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well. Life ;Religion & God
God is not on the side of the big battalions, but on the side of those who shoot best. Religion & God
He is a hard man who is only just, and a sad one who is only wise.
He must be very ignorant for he answers every question he is asked.
He shines in the second rank, who is eclipsed in the first.
He was a great patriot, a humanitarian, a loyal friend; provided, of course, he really is dead.
He who has not the spirit of this age, has all the misery of it.
He who is not just is severe, he who is not wise is sad.
History is only the register of crimes and misfortunes. History
History should be written as philosophy. History
I am very fond of truth, but not at all of martyrdom. Truth
I die adoring God, loving my friends, not hating my enemies, and detesting superstition. Religion & God
I have lived eighty years of life and know nothing for it, but to be resigned and tell myself that flies are born to be eaten by spiders and man to be devoured by sorrow. Life
I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: 'O Lord make my enemies ridiculous.' And God granted it. Religion & God
I know many books which have bored their readers, but I know of none which has done real evil.
I should like to lie at your feet and die in your arms.
Ice-cream is exquisite - what a pity it isn't illegal.
If God created us in his own image, we have more than reciprocated. Religion & God
If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent Him. Religion & God
Illusion is the first of all pleasures.
In every author let us distinguish the man from his works.
In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one class of citizens to give to another. Government ;Money, Coins & Minting ;Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
In the case of news, we should always wait for the sacrament of confirmation.
Indeed, history is nothing more than a tableau of crimes and misfortunes. History
Injustice in the end produces independence. Independence
Is there anyone so wise as to learn by the experience of others?
It is better to risk saving a guilty man than to condemn an innocent one. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.
It is lamentable, that to be a good patriot one must become the enemy of the rest of mankind. Citizenship & Patriotism
It is not enough to conquer; one must learn to seduce.
It is not known precisely where angels dwell whether in the air, the void, or the planets. It has not been God's pleasure that we should be informed of their abode. Religion & God
It is not love that should be depicted as blind, but self-love. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
It is not sufficient to see and to know the beauty of a work. We must feel and be affected by it. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
It is one of the superstitions of the human mind to have imagined that virginity could be a virtue.
It is said that the present is pregnant with the future. Future
It is the flash which appears, the thunderbolt will follow.
It is vain for the coward to flee; death follows close behind; it is only by defying it that the brave escape. Death
Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.
Let us read and let us dance - two amusements that will never do any harm to the world.
Let us work without theorizing, tis the only way to make life endurable. Life ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
Life is thickly sown with thorns, and I know no other remedy than to pass quickly through them. The longer we dwell on our misfortunes, the greater is their power to harm us. Life ;Power
Love has features which pierce all hearts, he wears a bandage which conceals the faults of those beloved. He has wings, he comes quickly and flies away the same. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
Man is free at the moment he wishes to be. Freedom & Liberty
Meditation is the dissolution of thoughts in Eternal awareness or Pure consciousness without objectification, knowing without thinking, merging finitude in infinity.
Men hate the individual whom they call avaricious only because nothing can be gained from him.
My life is a struggle. Life
Nature has always had more force than education. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training ;Nature
No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.
Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity. Religion & God
Of all religions, the Christian should of course inspire the most tolerance, but until now Christians have been the most intolerant of all men.
One great use of words is to hide our thoughts.
One merit of poetry few persons will deny: it says more and in fewer words than prose. Literature, Writers & Writing
Opinion has caused more trouble on this little earth than plagues or earthquakes.
Optimism is the madness of insisting that all is well when we are miserable.
Originality is nothing but judicious imitation. The most original writers borrowed one from another.
Our country is that spot to which our heart is bound.
Perfection is attained by slow degrees; it requires the hand of time. Time
Prejudices are what fools use for reason.
Religion was instituted to make us happy in this life and in the other. What must we do to be happy in the life to come? Be just. Life ;Religion & God
Satire lies about literary men while they live and eulogy lies about them when they die.
Society therefore is an ancient as the world. Society
Such is the feebleness of humanity, such is its perversity, that doubtless it is better for it to be subject to all possible superstitions, as long as they are not murderous, than to live without religion. Religion & God
Superstition is to religion what astrology is to astronomy the mad daughter of a wise mother. These daughters have too long dominated the earth. Religion & God
Tears are the silent language of grief. Sympathy
The ancient Romans built their greatest masterpieces of architecture, their amphitheaters, for wild beasts to fight in. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
The ancients recommended us to sacrifice to the Graces, but Milton sacrificed to the Devil.
The best government is a benevolent tyranny tempered by an occasional assassination. Government
The ear is the avenue to the heart. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
The first step, my son, which one makes in the world, is the one on which depends the rest of our days.
The flowery style is not unsuitable to public speeches or addresses, which amount only to compliment. The lighter beauties are in their place when there is nothing more solid to say; but the flowery style ought to be banished from a pleading, a sermon, or a didactic work. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
The husband who decides to surprise his wife is often very much surprised himself.
The infinitely little have a pride infinitely great.
The instruction we find in books is like fire. We fetch it from our neighbours, kindle it at home, communicate it to others, and it becomes the property of all.
The little may contrast with the great, in painting, but cannot be said to be contrary to it. Oppositions of colors contrast; but there are also colors contrary to each other, that is, which produce an ill effect because they shock the eye when brought very near it.
The mouth obeys poorly when the heart murmurs.
The multitude of books is making us ignorant.
The opportunity for doing mischief is found a hundred times a day, and of doing good once in a year.
The progress of rivers to the ocean is not so rapid as that of man to error.
The public is a ferocious beast; one must either chain it or flee from it.
The safest course is to do nothing against one's conscience. With this secret, we can enjoy life and have no fear from death. Life ;Death
The secret of being a bore... is to tell everything.
The sovereign is called a tyrant who knows no laws but his caprice.
The superfluous, a very necessary thing. Humor
The true triumph of reason is that it enables us to get along with those who do not possess it.
The truths of religion are never so well understood as by those who have lost the power of reason. Power ;Religion & God
The world embarrasses me, and I cannot dream that this watch exists and has no watchmaker.
Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too.
This self-love is the instrument of our preservation; it resembles the provision for the perpetuity of mankind: it is necessary, it is dear to us, it gives us pleasure, and we must conceal it.
Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.
Time, which alone makes the reputation of men, ends by making their defects respectable. Time
To believe in God is impossible not to believe in Him is absurd. Religion & God
To succeed in the world it is not enough to be stupid, you must also be well-mannered.
To the living we owe respect, but to the dead we owe only the truth. Truth ;Respect
To the wicked, everything serves as pretext.
Tyrants have always some slight shade of virtue; they support the laws before destroying them.
Use, do not abuse... neither abstinence nor excess ever renders man happy.
Very learned women are to be found, in the same manner as female warriors; but they are seldom or ever inventors. Women
Very often, say what you will, a knave is only a fool.
We are all full of weakness and errors; let us mutually pardon each other our follies - it is the first law of nature. Nature
We are rarely proud when we are alone.
We cannot always oblige; but we can always speak obligingly.
We cannot wish for that we know not.
We have a natural right to make use of our pens as of our tongue, at our peril, risk and hazard.
We must distinguish between speaking to deceive and being silent to be reserved.
We never live; we are always in the expectation of living.
Weakness on both sides is, as we know, the motto of all quarrels.
What a heavy burden is a name that has become too famous. Fame
What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly - that is the first law of nature. Nature
What most persons consider as virtue, after the age of 40 is simply a loss of energy.
What then do you call your soul? What idea have you of it? You cannot of yourselves, without revelation, admit the existence within you of anything but a power unknown to you of feeling and thinking. Power
When he to whom one speaks does not understand, and he who speaks himself does not understand, that is metaphysics.
When men do not have healthy notions of the Divinity, false ideas supplant them, just as in bad times one uses counterfeit money when there is no good money. Money, Coins & Minting
Wherever there is a settled society, religion is necessary; the laws cover manifest crimes, and religion covers secret crimes. Society ;Religion & God
Who serves his country well has no need of ancestors.
Woe to the makers of literal translations, who by rendering every word weaken the meaning! It is indeed by so doing that we can say the letter kills and the spirit gives life. Life