Eric Hoffer


American Longshoreman, Social Writer and Philosopher awarded Presidential Medal of Freeedom

Author Quotes

Children are the keys of paradise.

An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head.

A heresy can spring only from a system that is in full vigor.

A grievance is most poignant when almost redressed.

A dissenting minority feels free only when it can impose its will on the majority: what it abominates most is the dissent of the majority.

We can be absolutely certain only about things we do not understand.

We are what other people say we are. We know ourselves through hearsay.

The remarkable thing is that we really love our neighbor as ourselves: we do unto others as we do unto ourselves. We hate others when we hate ourselves. We are tolerant toward others when we tolerate ourselves. We forgive others when we forgive ourselves. We are prone to sacrifice others when we are ready to sacrifice ourselves.

The short-lived self, teetering on the edge of extinction, is the only thing that can ever really matters.

The capacity for getting along with our neighbor depends to a large extent on the capacity for getting along with ourselves. The self-respecting individual will try to be as tolerant of his neighbor's shortcomings as he is of his own.

Our greatest weariness comes from work not done.

Many of the insights of the saint stem from his experience as a sinner.

No matter what our achievements might be, we think well of ourselves only in rare moments. We need people to bear witness against our inner judge, who keeps book on our shortcomings and transgressions. We need people to convince us that we are not as bad as we think we are.

Man is eminently a storyteller. His search for a purpose, a cause, an ideal, a mission and the like is largely a search for a plot and a pattern in the development of his life story — a story that is basically without meaning or pattern.

Man's only legitimate end in life is to finish God's work - to bring to full growth the capacities and talents implanted in us.

It is the malady of our age that the young are so busy teaching us that they have no time left to learn.

In times of change, learners inherit the Earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.

It is the around-the-corner brand of hope that prompts people to action, while the distant hope acts as an opiate.

Faith in a holy cause is to a considerable extent a substitute for the lost faith in ourselves

Compassion is the antitoxin of the soul: where there is compassion even the most poisonous impulses remain relatively harmless.

Every new adjustment is a crisis in self-esteem.

You can never get enough of what you don’t need to make you happy.

What affects us most is the gain and loss not in substance but in self-esteem.

There is probably nothing more sublime than discontent transmuted into a work of art, a scientific discovery, and so on.

There is apparently no surer way of turning a thing into its opposite than by exaggerating it.

Author Picture
First Name
Last Name
Birth Date
Death Date

American Longshoreman, Social Writer and Philosopher awarded Presidential Medal of Freeedom