Unraveling the Wit and Wisdom of Voltaire

A collection of interesting quotes and sayings from Fran├žois-Marie Arouet aka Voltaire. Enjoy!

Common sense is not so common. ~Voltaire

A witty saying proves nothing. ~Voltaire

Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well. ~Voltaire

Love truth, and pardon error. ~Voltaire

Prejudice is opinion without judgement. ~Voltaire

God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well. ~Voltaire

It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong. ~Voltaire

I keep to old books, for they teach me something; from the new I learn very little. ~Voltaire

I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: “O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.” And God granted it. ~Voltaire

Every man is guilty of all the good he didn’t do. ~Voltaire

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. ~Voltaire

Everything’s fine today, that is our illusion. ~Voltaire

It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong. ~Voltaire

He was a great patriot, a humanitarian, a loyal friend – provided, of course, that he really is dead. ~Voltaire

To enjoy life, we must touch much of it lightly. ~Voltaire

The art of medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature cures the disease. ~Voltaire

Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers. ~Voltaire

The true triumph of reason is that it enables us to get along with those who do not possess it. ~Voltaire

Life is thickly sown with thorns, and I know no other remedy than to pass quickly through them. The longer we dwell on our misfortunes, the greater is their power to harm us. ~Voltaire

We never live; we are always in the expectation of living. ~Voltaire

Prejudices are what fools use for reason. ~Voltaire

Each player must accept the cards life deals him or her: but once they are in hand, he or she alone must decide how to play the cards in order to win the game. ~Voltaire

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

The pursuit of what is true and the practice of what is good are the two most important objects of philosophy. ~Voltaire

As long as people believe in absurdities they will continue to commit atrocities. ~Voltaire

It is hard to free fools from the chains they revere. ~Voltaire

The more I read, the more I meditate; and the more I acquire, the more I am enabled to affirm that I know nothing. ~Voltaire

One always speaks badly when one has nothing to say. ~Voltaire

It is better to risk saving a guilty man than to condemn an innocent one. ~Voltaire

There are men who can think no deeper than a fact. ~Voltaire

Truth is a fruit which should not be plucked until it is ripe. ~Voltaire

Men argue, nature acts. ~Voltaire

Ice-cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal. ~Voltaire

One of the chief misfortunes of honest people is that they are cowardly. ~Voltaire

The art of government is to make two-thirds of a nation pay all it possibly can pay for the benefit of the other third. ~Voltaire

The multitude of books is making us ignorant. ~Voltaire

The secret of being boring is to say everything. ~Voltaire

Voltaire, the brilliant French philosopher, writer, and historian, is known for his sharp wit and profound insights into human nature and society. His quotes, filled with humor and wisdom, continue to resonate with us today. In this article, we’ll explore some of his most famous quotes and delve into the timeless lessons they offer.

Common Sense: Not So Common After All

“Common sense is not so common.” This Voltaire quote serves as a humorous reminder that what we consider common sense isn’t always as widespread as we might hope. In a world where we often assume everyone thinks the same way we do, Voltaire’s words caution us against taking common sense for granted. It’s a reminder to approach life with a sense of understanding and empathy for those who may not share our perspective.

Witty Sayings and the Art of Persuasion

“A witty saying proves nothing.” Voltaire’s assertion here challenges us to recognize that clever words alone do not constitute a valid argument or proof. In an era dominated by snappy soundbites and clever quips, Voltaire’s words encourage us to look beyond the surface and seek substantive evidence and reasoning in our discussions and debates.

Appreciation: The Key to Building Connections

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” Voltaire reminds us of the power of appreciation. By recognizing and celebrating the excellence in others, we not only build stronger connections but also elevate ourselves in the process. This quote encourages us to be generous with our praise and recognition.

Love Truth, Pardon Error

“Love truth, and pardon error.” In this succinct statement, Voltaire highlights the importance of seeking the truth while recognizing that errors and mistakes are part of the human experience. It encourages us to approach life with a balanced perspective, valuing honesty and forgiveness.

The Pitfalls of Prejudice

“Prejudice is opinion without judgment.” Voltaire’s definition of prejudice as uninformed opinion challenges us to critically examine our beliefs and judgments. It serves as a reminder to avoid making snap judgments based on preconceived notions and to instead cultivate open-mindedness and understanding.

Embracing the Gift of Life

“God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.” Voltaire’s quote is a call to action, reminding us that life is a precious gift that we must make the most of. It urges us to embrace opportunities, pursue our passions, and live with purpose and gratitude.

Challenging the Status Quo

“It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.” Voltaire’s words emphasize the courage it takes to challenge established authorities and prevailing norms when they veer off course. This quote serves as a rallying cry for those who believe in the importance of speaking truth to power, even in the face of danger.

Learning from the Past

“I keep to old books, for they teach me something; from the new I learn very little.” Voltaire’s preference for older books speaks to the timeless wisdom and knowledge contained within classic literature. It encourages us to explore the wisdom of the past and recognize the value of learning from history.

The Power of Ridicule

“I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: ‘O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.’ And God granted it.” Voltaire’s humor shines through in this quote, illustrating the power of humor and satire to disarm and undermine one’s adversaries. It reminds us that sometimes, laughter can be a potent weapon in the face of opposition.

The Weight of Missed Opportunities

“Every man is guilty of all the good he didn’t do.” Voltaire’s quote serves as a poignant reminder of the opportunities we miss when we fail to act or make a positive difference in the world. It encourages us to seize the moment and make a meaningful impact whenever we can.

Defending Freedom of Expression

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Voltaire’s commitment to free speech and the exchange of ideas is encapsulated in this powerful statement. It underscores the importance of upholding the principles of freedom of expression, even when we disagree with the content of the speech.

Illusion vs. Reality

“Everything’s fine today, that is our illusion.” Voltaire’s quote highlights our tendency to view the present through rose-colored glasses. It reminds us that our perception of reality may be skewed by our desires and expectations, urging us to seek a clearer understanding of the world around us.

Courage in the Face of Injustice

“It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.” Voltaire’s words resonate with those who have faced the daunting challenge of confronting injustice and oppression. It underscores the courage required to stand up for what is right, even when the prevailing powers are in the wrong.

A Humorous Take on Death

“He was a great patriot, a humanitarian, a loyal friend – provided, of course, that he really is dead.” Voltaire’s wit shines in this quote, reminding us not to take ourselves too seriously and to maintain a sense of humor even in the face of somber subjects like death.

Embracing Life Lightly

“To enjoy life, we must touch much of it lightly.” Voltaire encourages us to approach life with a sense of lightness and adaptability. It reminds us not to become bogged down by the challenges and difficulties we encounter but to navigate them with grace and humor.

The Art of Medicine and Nature’s Role

“The art of medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.” Voltaire’s perspective on medicine highlights the complementary roles of medical intervention and the body’s natural healing processes. It encourages us to recognize the importance of maintaining a positive outlook and humor in the face of illness.

Judging by Questions, Not Answers

“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.” Voltaire’s quote encourages us to assess individuals based on their curiosity, open-mindedness, and willingness to seek knowledge. It underscores the importance of asking meaningful questions as a path to understanding.

The Triumph of Reason

“The true triumph of reason is that it enables us to get along with those who do not possess it.” Voltaire’s statement highlights reason as a unifying force that allows us to coexist peacefully with others, even when our beliefs and perspectives differ.

Resilience in the Face of Adversity

“Life is thickly sown with thorns, and I know no other remedy than to pass quickly through them. The longer we dwell on our misfortunes, the greater is their power to harm us.” Voltaire’s quote encourages us to face adversity with resilience and a forward-looking attitude. It reminds us not to dwell on difficulties but to navigate them swiftly and gracefully.

The Elusive Nature of True Living

“We never live; we are always in the expectation of living.” Voltaire’s words serve as a reflection on the human tendency to constantly seek more and postpone the enjoyment of the present moment. It encourages us to embrace the present and fully engage with the life we have.

Folly and Reason

“Prejudices are what fools use for reason.” Voltaire’s quote is a sharp critique of those who rely on unfounded biases and prejudices as a substitute for rational thinking. It encourages us to approach life with a commitment to reason and critical thinking.

Playing the Hand You’re Dealt

“Each player must accept the cards life deals him or her: but once they are in hand, he or she alone must decide how to play the cards in order to win the game.” Voltaire’s metaphorical wisdom reminds us that we all face challenges and circumstances beyond our control. However, our response and how we navigate these challenges ultimately determine our success.

The Perils of Overthinking

“Madness is to think of too many things in succession too fast, or of one thing too exclusively.” Voltaire’s humorous take on overthinking serves as a cautionary reminder not to get lost in the labyrinth of our thoughts. It encourages us to maintain a balanced and rational perspective.

The Essence of Philosophy

“The pursuit of what is true and the practice of what is good are the two most important objects of philosophy.” Voltaire’s quote underscores the fundamental goals of philosophy: the search for truth and the pursuit of moral and ethical principles. It encourages us to engage in philosophical inquiry with a focus on these essential objectives.

Absurdity and Atrocity

“As long as people believe in absurdities they will continue to commit atrocities.” Voltaire’s quote serves as a stark warning about the dangerous consequences of blind belief in irrational ideas. It highlights the link between absurdity and acts of cruelty and calls for critical thinking and skepticism.

Breaking the Chains of Ignorance

“It is hard to free fools from the chains they revere.” Voltaire’s words acknowledge the difficulty of convincing individuals deeply entrenched in their misguided beliefs. It underscores the importance of patience, education, and empathy when challenging ignorance.

The Humility of Knowledge

“The more I read, the more I meditate; and the more I acquire, the more I am enabled to affirm that I know nothing.” Voltaire’s humility in the face of knowledge encourages us to recognize that the pursuit of wisdom is a lifelong journey. It reminds us that true wisdom comes with an awareness of our limitations and the vastness of what we do not yet know.

Silence as a Virtue

“One always speaks badly when one has nothing to say.” Voltaire’s quote is a reminder of the value of silence and the importance of thoughtful and meaningful communication. It encourages us to speak purposefully and avoid empty words.

The Imperative of Justice

“It is better to risk saving a guilty man than to condemn an innocent one.” Voltaire’s quote underscores the moral imperative of ensuring justice, even if it means taking risks. It reminds us of the importance of protecting the innocent and upholding the principles of fairness and equity.

Superficial Thinking

“There are men who can think no deeper than a fact.” Voltaire’s quote serves as a critique of shallow thinking and encourages us to go beyond the surface and seek a deeper understanding of the world and its complexities.

Timing the Pursuit of Truth

“Truth is a fruit which should not be plucked until it is ripe.” Voltaire’s metaphorical wisdom reminds us that the search for truth requires patience and timing. It encourages us to approach the quest for knowledge with discernment and restraint.

Action vs. Debate

“Men argue, nature acts.” Voltaire’s quote underscores the contrast between endless debates and the decisive actions of the natural world. It reminds us of the importance of taking action and making tangible contributions to the world around us.

Temptation and Indulgence

“Ice-cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal.” Voltaire’s humor shines through in this quote, playfully suggesting that the most delightful things in life are often seen as indulgences or temptations. It encourages us to savor life’s pleasures in moderation.

The Challenge of Honesty

“One of the chief misfortunes of honest people is that they are cowardly.” Voltaire’s observation highlights the challenges faced by those who choose to live with honesty and integrity. It encourages us to recognize the courage required to maintain our principles, even when it is difficult.

The Art of Government

“The art of government is to make two-thirds of a nation pay all it possibly can pay for the benefit of the other third.” Voltaire’s quote is a wry commentary on the dynamics of government and taxation. It serves as a reminder to scrutinize the fairness and efficiency of government policies and practices.

The Paradox of Information

“The multitude of books is making us ignorant.” Voltaire’s observation, despite its irony, speaks to the overwhelming nature of information overload. It encourages us to select our sources of knowledge carefully and avoid becoming overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information available.

Avoiding Boredom

“The secret of being boring is to say everything.” Voltaire’s quote is a humorous take on the art of conversation. It encourages us to be selective in our words and avoid overwhelming others with unnecessary details and information.

Voltaire’s quotes, filled with wit and wisdom, continue to inspire and provoke thought centuries after they were first uttered. They serve as timeless reminders of the importance of critical thinking, open-mindedness, humor, and empathy in navigating the complexities of life. As we reflect on these quotes, we can find valuable guidance on how to live a more fulfilling and meaningful life, all while savoring the delightful flavor of ice-cream, of course.

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