Voltaire Quotes

Most popular Voltaire Quotes

It is not enough to conquer; one must know how to seduce.
— Voltaire

persuasion

Paradise is where I am.
— Voltaire
Love those who love you.
— Voltaire
Love truth but pardon error.
— Voltaire
The embarrassment of riches.
— Voltaire
Love truth, but pardon error.

error mistakes truth

A witty saying proves nothing.
— Voltaire

quotations

Common sense is not so common.
— Voltaire

common sense

Paradise on earth is where I am.
— Voltaire
The best is the enemy of the good.
— Voltaire
Prejudice is opinion without judgement.
— Voltaire

opinions

Tears are the silent language of grief.

tears

A Man is free the moment he wishes to be.
— Voltaire
Prejudices are the reasoning of the stupid.
— Voltaire

prejudice

Liberty of thought is the life of the soul.
— Voltaire
Virtue debases itself in justifying itself.
— Voltaire
A long dispute means both parties are wrong.
— Voltaire

conflict

One who seeks truth should be of no country.
— Voltaire
Governments need both shepherds and butchers.

government

The multitude of books is making us ignorant.
— Voltaire

books

All styles are good except the tiresome kind.

style

Judge a man by his questions, not his answers.
— Voltaire

asking questions

Almost all human life depends on probabilities.
— Voltaire
Nature has always had more power than education.
— Voltaire
Self-love is the instrument of our preservation.
— Voltaire
Every man is guilty of all the good he didn't do.

helping others

Anything that is too stupid to be spoken is sung.
— Voltaire

songs

Marriage is the only adventure open to the timid.
— Voltaire

marriage

We cannot always oblige, we can speak obligingly.
— Voltaire

kindness

The secret of being a bore is to tell everything.

boring people

The secret of being a bore... is to tell everything.
— Voltaire

boring people

God is always on the side of the heaviest battalions.
— Voltaire

war

Work keeps us from three evils: boredom, vice and need.
— Voltaire

work

There is only one moral, as there is only one geometry.
— Voltaire

morals

Whoever condemns the theatre is an enemy to his country.
— Voltaire

theater

Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.
— Voltaire
Now, now my good man, this is no time for making enemies.
— Voltaire

enemies

If there were no priests, people would be more religious.
— Voltaire

clergy

Whoever serves his country well has no need of ancestors.
— Voltaire

ancestors

It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.
— Voltaire
It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere.

Fools foolishness

Work keeps us from three great evils—boredom, vice and need.
— Voltaire

work

God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh.
— Voltaire

God

You must have the Devil in you to succeed in any of the arts.
— Voltaire

art

What a heavy burden is a name that has too soon become famous.
— Voltaire
When it is a matter of money, all men are of the same religion.
— Voltaire
There are truths which are not for all people, nor for all times.
— Voltaire
Weakness on both sides is, as we know, the motto of all quarrels.

quarrels

Chance is a word void of sense; nothing can exist without a cause.
— Voltaire
When it is a question of money, everybody is of the same religion.
— Voltaire

money

The true character of liberty is independence, maintained by force.
— Voltaire
Doubt is not a pleasant condition.  But certainty is an absurd one.
— Voltaire

certainty

Men are equal; it is not birth but virtue that makes the difference.
— Voltaire
He must be very ignorant, for he answers every question he is asked.
— Voltaire

asking questions

Work keeps away those three great evils: boredom, vice, and poverty.

work

Labor preserves us from three great evils — boredom, vice, and want.
— Voltaire
Love is a canvas furnished by Nature and embroidered by imagination.
— Voltaire

love

It is with books as with men: a very small number play a great part.
— Voltaire
Life is a shipwreck but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.
— Voltaire

positive life attitude

Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too.
— Voltaire
Perfection is attained by slow degrees; it requires the hand of time.
— Voltaire
Pleasure is the object, the duty, and the goal of all rational creatures.
— Voltaire
It is better to risk saving a guilty man than to condemn an innocent one.
— Voltaire

justice

Fanaticism is to superstition what delirium is to fever, and fury to anger.

fanaticism

Let us work without disputing; it is the only way to render life tolerable.
— Voltaire
The history of the world's great leaders is often the story of human folly.

folly leadership

They who have not the spirit of their age, of their age have all the misery.
— Voltaire
The progress of rivers to the ocean is not so rapid as that of man to error.

error

To succeed in chaining the multitude you must seem to wear the same fetters.
— Voltaire

the public

Optimism is the madness of insisting that all is well when we are miserable.

optimism

Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe.
— Voltaire

faith

In the case of news, we should always wait for the sacrament of confirmation.

news

If God has created us in His image, we have more than returned the compliment.
— Voltaire

God

Error flies from mouth to mouth, from pen to pen, and to destroy it takes ages.

error

There was far more imagination in the head of Archimedes than in that of Homer.
— Voltaire

poetry science

As long as people believe in absurdities they will continue to commit atrocities.
— Voltaire
What is madness? To have erroneous perceptions, and to reason correctly from them?
— Voltaire

insanity

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
— Voltaire
What is madness?  To have erroneous perceptions and to reason correctly from them.

insanity

The art of medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.
— Voltaire
The tolerance of all religions is a law of nature, stamped on the hearts of all men.
— Voltaire
All the citizens of a state cannot be equally powerful, but they may be equally free.
— Voltaire
What most persons consider as virtue, after the age of 40 is simply a loss of energy.
— Voltaire

age 40 age middle age

Let us read and let us dance—two amusements that will never do any harm to the world.
— Voltaire

reading dancing

One merit of poetry few people will deny; it says more, and in fewer words, than prose.
— Voltaire
Let us leave every man at liberty to seek into himself and to lose himself in his ideas.

seeking

The history of human opinion is scarcely anything more than the history of human errors.
— Voltaire
I know of no great souls except those who have rendered great services to the human race.
— Voltaire
Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.
— Voltaire
Those who think are excessively few; and those few do not set themselves to disturb the world.
— Voltaire
A prince who writes against flattery is as singular as a pope who writes against infallibility.

flattery

Adultery is an evil only inasmuch as it is a theft; but we do not steal that which is given to us.

infidelity

In laughter there is always a kind of joyousness that is incompatible with contempt or indignation.
— Voltaire
Work is often the father of pleasure; I pity the man overwhelmed with the weight of his own leisure.

work

The instinct of man is to pursue everything that flies from him, and to fly from all that pursue him.
— Voltaire
A multitude of laws in a country is like a great number of physicians, a sign of weakness and malady.
— Voltaire
It is with books as with men; a very small number play a great part; the rest are lost in the multitude.

books

The man who, in a fit of melancholy, kills himself today, would have wished to live had he waited a week.

suicide

Man is the only animal that laughs, drinks when he is not thirsty, and makes love at all seasons of the year.
— Voltaire

priorities mankind

People are in general so tricky, so envious, and cruel, that when we find one who is only weak, we are happy.
— Voltaire
Many historians take pleasure in putting into the mouths of kings what they have neither said nor ought to have said.
— Voltaire
Divorce is probably of nearly the same date as marriage.  I believe, however, that marriage is some weeks more ancient.

divorce

The discovery of what is true, and the practice of that which is good, are the two most important objects of philosophy.
— Voltaire
Every man is the creature of the age in which he lives; very few are able to raise themselves above the ideas of the times.
— Voltaire
There are two things for which animals are to be envied: they know nothing of future evils, or of what people say about them.
— Voltaire

animals

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

war

In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one class of citizens to give to another.
— Voltaire

government

What medicine can procure digestion? Exercise. What will recruit strength? Sleep. What will alleviate incurable evils? Patience.
— Voltaire
Inspiration: a peculiar effect of divine flatulence emitted by the Holy Spirit which hisses into the ears of a few chosen of God.
— Voltaire

religion

When he who hears does not know what he who speaks means, and when he who speaks does not know what he himself means, that is philosophy.
— Voltaire

communication philosophy

We all look for happiness, but without knowing where to find it: like drunkards who look for their house, knowing dimly that they have one.

happiness

All the persecutors declare against each other mortal war, while the philosopher, oppressed by them all, contents himself with pitying them.
— Voltaire
The post is the grand connecting link of all transactions.  Those who are absent, by its means become present; it is the consolation of life.

letters

How pleasant it is for a father to sit at his child's board. It is like an aged man reclining under the shadow of an oak which he has planted.
— Voltaire

parenting

I am a little deaf, a little blind, a little impotent, and on top of this are two or three abominable infirmities, but nothing destroys my hope.
— Voltaire

attitude

Animals have these advantages over man: they have no theologians to instruct them, their funerals cost them nothing, and no one starts lawsuits over their wills.
— Voltaire

civilization mankind

Ask a toad what is beauty ...; he will answer that it is a female with two great round eyes coming out of her little head, a large flat mouth, a yellow belly and a brown back.
— Voltaire

beauty

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.
— Voltaire
The passions are the winds that fill the sails of the vessel. They sink it at times; but without them it would be impossible to make way. Many things that are dangerous here below, are still necessary
— Voltaire
A flowery discourse is more replete with agreeable than with strong thoughts, with images more sparkling than sublime, and terms more curious than forcible.  This metaphor is correctly taken from flowers, which are showy without strength or stability.  This metaphor is correctly taken from flowers, which are showy without strength or stability.

oratory

Have I told you about the tension of opposites? he says. The tension of opposites? Life is a series of pulls back and forth. You want to do one thing, but you are bound to do something else. Something hurts you, yet you know it shouldn't. You take certain things for granted, even when you know you should never take anything for granted. A tension of opposites, like a pull on a rubber band. And most of us live somewhere in the middle.Sounds like a wrestling match, I say. A wrestling match. He laughs. Yes, you could describe life that way. So which side wins, I ask? Which side wins? He smiles at me, the crinkled eyes, the crooked teeth. Love wins. Love always wins.