Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Voltaire, pen name of François-Marie Arouet NULL

French Satirist, Essayist, Dramatist, Philosopher and Historian

"Heaven made virtue; man, the appearance."

"He who seeks the truth should be of no country."

"If there were no God, it would be necessary to invent him."

"Illusion is the first of all pleasures."

"History is fables agreed upon."

"It is no more surprising to be born twice than it is to be born once."

"It is the triumph of reason to get on well with those who possess none."

"In laughter there is always a kind of joyousness that is incompatible with contempt or indignation."

"It is with books as with men: a very small number play a great part; the rest are confounded with the multitude."

"Let the punishments of criminals be useful. A hanged man is good for nothing, and a man condemned to public works still serves the country, and is a living person."

"Mortals are equal; their mask differs."

"Men argue, nature acts."

"Paradise is wherever I am."

"Madness is to think of too many things in succession too fast, or of one thing too exclusively."

"Men, generally going with the stream, seldom judge for themselves, and purity of taste is almost as rare as talent."

"Tears are the silent language of grief."

"The discovery of what is true and the practice of that which is good, are the two most important aims of philosophy."

"The happiest of all lives is a busy solitude."

"The history of human opinion is scarcely anything more than the history of human errors[crimes]."

"The more I read, the more I meditate; and the more I acquire, the more certain I am that I know nothing."

"Regimen is better than physic. Every one should be his own physician. We ought to assist, and not to force nature. Eat with moderation what agrees with your constitution. Nothing is good for the body but what we can digest. With medicine can procure digestion? Exercise. What will recruit strength? Sleep. What will alleviate incurable evils? Patience."

"Philosopher, lover of wisdom, that is to say, of truth. All philosophers have had this dual character; there is not one in antiquity who has not given mankind examples of virtue and lessons in moral truths. They have all contrived to be deceived about natural philosophy; but natural philosophy is so little necessary for the conduct of life, that the philosophers had no need of it. It has taken centuries to learn a part of nature’s laws. One day was sufficient for a wise man to learn the duties of man."

"Systems exercise the mind; but faith enlightens and guides it."

"Regimen is superior to medicine, especially as, from time immemorial, out of every hundred physicians, ninety-eight are charlatans."

"Pleasure is the object, the duty, and the goal of all rational creatures."

"The necessity of saying something, the embarrassment produced by the consciousness of having nothing to say, and the desire to exhibit ability, are three things sufficient to render even a great man ridiculous."

"The only way to compel men to speak good of us is to do it."

"The truths of religion are never so well understood as by those who have lost the power of reasoning."

"The superfluous, a very necessary thing."

"There is a wide difference between speaking to deceive, and being silent to be impenetrable."

"This is faith: it is nothing more than obedience."

"The punishment of criminals should be of use; when a man is hanged he is good for nothing."

"The real vice of a civilized republic is in the Turkish fable of the dragon with man heads and the dragon with many tails. The many heads hurt each other, and the many tails obey a single head which wants to devour everything."

"The sentiment of justice is so natural, and so universally acquired by all mankind, that is seems to be independent of all law, all party, all religion."

"They only employ words to disguise their thoughts."

"To hold a pen is to be at war."

"Titles are of no value to posterity; the name of a man who has achieved great deeds imposes more respect than any or all epithets."

"To believe in God is impossible - not to believe in Him is absurd."

"Use, do not abuse; neither abstinence nor excess ever renders a man happy."

"Virtue is everywhere the same, because it comes from God, while everything else is of men."

"We cannot wish for that we know not."

"To wish the greatness of our own country is often to wish evil to our neighbors. He who could bring himself to wish that his country should always remain as it is, would be a citizen of the universe."

"We never live, but we are always in the expectation of living."

"Weakness on both sides is, as we know, the motto of all quarrels."

"What then you do 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."

"When he to whom one speaks does not understand, and he who speaks himself does not understand, this is metaphysics."

"Work spares us from [keeps at bay, or banishes] three great evils: boredom, vice, and need."

"When man was placed in the garden of Eden, he was placed there... to cultivate it; which proves that mankind are not created to be idle."

"A company of solemn tyrants is impervious to all seductions."

"A clergyman is one who feels himself called upon to live without working at the expense of the rascals who work to live."