Ernest Renan, aka Joseph Ernest Renan

Renan, aka Joseph Ernest Renan

French Philosopher and Writer, Expert of Middle East Ancient Languages and Civilizations

Author Quotes

The first founder of Christianity was Isaiah. By introducing into the Jewish world the concept of ethical religion, of justice, and of the relative importance of sacrifices, he antedated Jesus by more than seven centuries.

Let us remember that sorrow alone is the creator of great things.

Man makes holy what he believes.

Never has anyone been less a priest than Jesus, never a greater enemy of forms, which stifle religion under the pretext of protecting it. By this we are all his disciples and his successors; by this he has laid the eternal foundation-stone of true religion; and if religion is essential to humanity, he has by this deserved the Divine rank the world has accorded him.

O Lord, if there is a Lord, save my soul, if I have a soul.

The greatest men of a nation are those it puts to death.

The man who obeys is nearly always better than the man who commands.

To be free in an age like ours, one must be in a position of authority. That in itself would be enough to make me ambitious.

A nation is a body of people who have done great things together.

To have common glories in the past, a common will in the present; to have done great things together; to wish to do greater; these are the essential conditions which make up a people.

All the gospels, in my judgment, date back to the first century, and are substantially by the authors to whom they are attributed.

What is human life? Is it not a maimed happiness—care and weariness, weariness and care, with the baseless expectation...of a brighter tomorrow?

As soon as sacrifice becomes a duty and necessity to mankind. I see no limit to the horizon which opens before him.

When people complain of life, it is almost always because they have asked impossible things of it.

Blessed are the blind, for they know not enough to ask why.

You may take great comfort from the fact that suffering inwardly for the sake of truth proves abundantly that one loves it and marks one out as being of the elect.

Communism is in conflict with human nature.

He whom God has touched will always be a being apart: he is, whatever he may do, a stranger among men; he is marked by a sign.

I can die when I wish to: that is my elixir of life.

Jealousy is the foundation of equality, but not of liberty ; putting man constantly on his guard against the encroachments of his neighbors. It prevents affability between different classes. There is no society without affection, without tradition, without respect, without mutual amenity.

Let us pardon him his hope of a vain apocalypse, and of a second coming in great triumph upon the clouds of heaven. Perhaps these were the errors of others rather than his own; and if it be true that he himself shared the general illusion, what matters it, since his dream rendered him strong against death, and sustained him in a struggle to which he might otherwise have been unequal?

As a rule, all heroism is due to a lack of reflection, and thus it is necessary to maintain a mass of imbeciles. If they once understand themselves the ruling men will be lost.

To conceive the good, in fact, is not sufficient; it must be made to succeed among men. To accomplish this, less pure paths must be followed.

The liberty of the individual is a necessary postulate of human progress.

God, if there is a God, take my soul, if I have a soul.

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French Philosopher and Writer, Expert of Middle East Ancient Languages and Civilizations