François-Marie Arouet, known by his pen name Voltaire, is considered one of France’s greatest writers from the Age of Enlightenment period.
Voltaire was a man of reason, a deist who loathed fanaticism, superstition, idolatry and mostly the fact that men are capable of killing each other to defend a religious doctrine that they scarcely understand.
His attitude toward religion and authorities was not well received in France and as a result, he was twice sentenced to prison and once to temporary exile to England.
Voltaire’s best-known work is Candide. The satirical novella of the human condition published in 1759, was a best-seller from the moment it appeared and was translated into every possible language.
Voltaire said of himself that he “wrote to act” and his greatest desire as a philosopher was to change people’s way of thinking and behaving. He strongly believed in reason, tolerance, freedom of speech and a free and liberal society.
Here are 20 Voltaire quotes that create a lasting impression.
- It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.
- Think for yourself and let others enjoy the privilege of doing so too.
- Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.
- The mirror is a worthless invention. The only way to truly see yourself is in the reflection of someone else’s eyes.
- Cherish those who seek the truth but beware of those who find it.
- Common sense is not so common.
- It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.
- If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.
- Let us cultivate our garden.
- Our wretched species is so made that those who walk on the well-trodden path always throw stones at those who are showing a new road.
- The more often a stupidity is repeated, the more it gets the appearance of wisdom.
- Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.
- Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do.
- Doubt is an uncomfortable condition, but certainty is a ridiculous one.
- Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.
- Don’t think money does everything or you are going to end up doing everything for money.
- It is clear that the individual who persecutes a man, his brother, because he is not of the same opinion, is a monster.
- The longer we dwell on our misfortunes, the greater is their power to harm us.
- May God defend me from my friends: I can defend myself from my enemies.
- Men are equal; it is not birth but virtue that makes the difference.