Over 165 Voltaire Quotes To Help Enlighten Rational Thinking

As a key figure in the Enlightenment intellectual movement, Voltaire is one of the world’s most quoted writers. Here are some of his most famous quotes:

Voltaire – Author / Philosopher

François-Marie Arouet, better known by the pen name Voltaire, was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties. He wrote some of the most influential books in the history of Western literature, including Candide, The Philosophical Dictionary and The Age of Louis XIV.

In his lifetime, he was one of the most popular writers in Europe. His works were banned by the Catholic Church and several monarchies, but they continued to be widely read and discussed. Voltaire was a leading critic of the Ancien Régime. He advocated for religious tolerance and separation of church and state, freedom of speech and Press, and separation of powers.

He was an outspoken critic of slavery and colonialism. Voltaire supported the American Revolution and wrote in favor of toleration for different religions, races and cultures.

Best Voltaire Quotes

Prejudices are what fools use for reason.

– Voltaire


Men use thought only as authority for their injustice, and employ speech only to conceal their thoughts.

– Voltaire


Man is free at the instant he wants to be.

– Voltaire

Man is free at the instant he wants to be. - Voltaire


Such then is the human condition, that to wish greatness for one’s country is to wish harm to one’s neighbors.

– Voltaire


Whatever you do, crush the infamous thing, and love those who love you.

– Voltaire


Perfect is the enemy of good.

– Voltaire

Perfect is the enemy of good. - Voltaire


No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.

– Voltaire


A man loved by a beautiful woman will always get out of trouble.

– Voltaire


The instruction we find in books is like fire. We fetch it from our neighbors, kindle it at home, communicate it to others, and it becomes the property of all.

– Voltaire


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

– Voltaire


Our labour preserves us from three great evils — weariness, vice, and want.

– Voltaire


I have wanted to kill myself a hundred times, but somehow I am still in love with life. This ridiculous weakness is perhaps one of our more stupid melancholy propensities, for is there anything more stupid than to be eager to go on carrying a burden which one would gladly throw away, to loathe one’s very being and yet to hold it fast, to fondle the snake that devours us until it has eaten our hearts away?

– Voltaire


Originality is nothing but judicious imitation. The most original writers borrowed one from another.

– Voltaire


If there’s life on other planets, then the earth is the Universe’s insane asylum.

– Voltaire


Faith consists in believing what reason cannot.

– Voltaire

Faith consists in believing what reason cannot. - Voltaire


Uncertainty is an uncomfortable position. But certainty is an absurd one.

– Voltaire


Quotes by Voltaire

I would rather obey a fine lion, much stronger than myself, than two hundred rats of my own species.

– Voltaire


It is far better to be silent than merely to increase the quantity of bad books.

– Voltaire


He must be very ignorant for he answers every question he is asked.

– Voltaire


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

– Voltaire

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


Only your friends steal your books.

– Voltaire


Love truth, but pardon error.

– Voltaire


One always begins with the simple, then comes the complex, and by superior enlightenment one often reverts in the end to the simple. Such is the course of human intelligence.

– Voltaire


It is not inequality which is the real misfortune, it is dependence.

– Voltaire


Cherish those who seek the truth but beware of those who find it.

– Voltaire


It is not sufficient to see and to know the beauty of a work. We must feel and be affected by it.

– Voltaire


Sensual pleasure passes and vanishes, but the friendship between us, the mutual confidence, the delight of the heart, the enchantment of the soul, these things do not perish and can never be destroyed.

– Voltaire


The heart has its own reasons that reason can’t understand.

– Voltaire


It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.

– Voltaire


No opinion is worth burning your neighbor for.

– Voltaire


Marriage is the only adventure open to the cowardly.

– Voltaire


If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.

– Voltaire


Famous Voltaire Quotes

Perfection is attained by slow degrees; it requires the hand of time.

– Voltaire


The more a man knows, the less he talks.

– Voltaire

The more a man knows, the less he talks. - Voltaire


It is love; love, the comfort of the human species, the preserver of the universe, the soul of all sentient beings, love, tender love.

– Voltaire


Secret griefs are more cruel than public calamities.

– Voltaire


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

– 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


I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: Oh Lord, make my enemies ridiculous. And God granted it.

– Voltaire


History is the study of the world’s crime.

– Voltaire

History is the study of the world’s crime. - Voltaire


In general, the art of government consists in taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other.

– Voltaire


The happiest of all lives is a busy solitude.

– Voltaire

The happiest of all lives is a busy solitude. - Voltaire


Opinions have caused more ills than the plague or earthquakes on this little globe of ours.

– Voltaire


If you have two religions in your land, the two will cut each other’s throats; but if you have thirty religions, they will dwell in peace.

– Voltaire


What is history? The lie that everyone agrees on.

– Voltaire


Of all religions, the Christian should of course inspire the most tolerance, but until now Christians have been the most intolerant of all men.

– Voltaire


It is clear that the individual who persecutes a man, his brother, because he is not of the same opinion, is a monster.

– Voltaire


I cannot imagine how the clockwork of the universe can exist without a clockmaker.

– Voltaire


Philosopher Voltaire Quotes

We are rarely proud when we are alone.

– Voltaire

We are rarely proud when we are alone. - Voltaire


The more I read, the more I acquire, the more certain I am that I know nothing.

– Voltaire


Wherever my travels may lead, paradise is where I am.

– Voltaire


Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.

– Voltaire


It is with books as with men: a very small number play a great part.

– Voltaire


Despite the enormous quantity of books, how few people read! And if one reads profitably, one would realize how much stupid stuff the vulgar herd is content to swallow every day.

– Voltaire


In every province, the chief occupations, in order of importance, are lovemaking, malicious gossip, and talking nonsense.

– Voltaire


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.

– Voltaire


Being unable to make people more reasonable, I preferred to be happy away from them.

– Voltaire


The longer we dwell on our misfortunes, the greater is their power to harm us.

– Voltaire


God is a circle whose center is everywhere and circumference nowhere.

– Voltaire


Meditation is the dissolution of thoughts in Eternal awareness or Pure consciousness without objectification, knowing without thinking, merging finitude in infinity.

– Voltaire

Related: Meditation Quotes


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

– Voltaire


I don’t know where I am going, but I am on my way.

– Voltaire

I don’t know where I am going, but I am on my way. - Voltaire


Think for yourself and let others enjoy the privilege of doing so too.

– Voltaire

Think for yourself and let others enjoy the privilege of doing so too. - Voltaire


Fools admire everything in an author of reputation.

– Voltaire


Quotations by Voltaire

What can you say to a man who tells you he prefers obeying God rather than men, and that as a result he’s certain he’ll go to heaven if he cuts your throat?

– Voltaire


Men are equal; it is not birth but virtue that makes the difference.

– Voltaire


My soul is the mirror of the universe, and my body is its frame.

– Voltaire


The interest I have to believe a thing is no proof that such a thing exists.

– Voltaire


We all look for happiness, but without knowing where to find it: like drunkards who look for their house, knowing dimly that they have one.

– Voltaire


I hate women because they always know where things are.

– Voltaire


All the reasonings of men are not worth one sentiment of women.

– Voltaire

Related: 150 + Quotes About and By Strong Women


It is as impossible to translate poetry as it is to translate music.

– Voltaire


Fools have a habit of believing that everything written by a famous author is admirable. For my part I read only to please myself and like only what suits my taste.

– Voltaire


The mirror is a worthless invention. The only way to truly see yourself is in the reflection of someone else’s eyes.

– Voltaire


Reading nurtures the soul, and an enlightened friend brings it solace.

– Voltaire

Reading nurtures the soul, and an enlightened friend brings it solace. - Voltaire


I hold firmly to my original views. After all I am a philosopher.

– Voltaire


I know many books which have bored their readers, but I know of none which has done real evil.

– Voltaire


The more often a stupidity is repeated, the more it gets the appearance of wisdom.

– Voltaire


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

– Voltaire


All men are born with a nose and ten fingers, but no one was born with a knowledge of God.

– Voltaire


Quotes from Voltaire

Now, now my good man, this is no time to be making enemies.

– Voltaire


All men are by nature free; you have therefore an undoubted liberty to depart whenever you please, but will have many and great difficulties to encounter in passing the frontiers.

– Voltaire


I have chosen to be happy because it is good for my health.

– Voltaire


Doctors put drugs of which they know little into bodies of which they know less for diseases of which they know nothing at all.

– Voltaire


If God created us in his own image, we have more than reciprocated.

– Voltaire


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

– Voltaire


The human brain is a complex organ with the wonderful power of enabling man to find reasons for continuing to believe whatever it is that he wants to believe.

– Voltaire


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

– Voltaire


It is better to risk saving a guilty person than to condemn an innocent one.

– Voltaire


When it is a question of money, everybody is of the same religion.

– Voltaire


Dare to think for yourself.

– Voltaire

Dare to think for yourself. - Voltaire


Every man is a creature of the age in which he lives and few are able to raise themselves above the ideas of the time.

– Voltaire


Liberty of thought is the life of the soul.

– Voltaire


It requires twenty years for a man to rise from the vegetable state in which he is within his mother’s womb, and from the pure animal state which is the lot of his early childhood, to the state when the maturity of reason begins to appear. It has required thirty centuries to learn a little about his structure. It would need eternity to learn something about his soul. It takes an instant to kill him.

– Voltaire


It is an infantile superstition of the human spirit that virginity would be thought a virtue and not the barrier that separates ignorance from knowledge.

– Voltaire


A witty saying proves nothing.

– Voltaire


Voltaire Famous Quotes

One great use of words is to hide our thoughts.

– Voltaire

One great use of words is to hide our thoughts. - Voltaire


The most important decision you make is to be in a good mood.

– Voltaire


Tears are the silent language of grief.

– Voltaire

Tears are the silent language of grief. - Voltaire


If we do not find anything very pleasant, at least we shall find something new.

– Voltaire


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

– Voltaire


One day everything will be well, that is our hope. Everything’s fine today, that is our illusion.

– Voltaire


Injustice in the end produces independence.

– Voltaire

Injustice in the end produces independence. - Voltaire


Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.

– Voltaire


May God defend me from my friends: I can defend myself from my enemies.

– Voltaire


Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do.

– Voltaire

Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do. - Voltaire


To succeed in the world it is not enough to be stupid – one must also be polite.

– Voltaire


Love is a canvas furnished by nature and embroidered by imagination.

– Voltaire


No problem can stand the assault of sustained thinking.

– Voltaire


All is for the best in the best of possible worlds.

– Voltaire


Animals have these advantages over man: they never hear the clock strike, they die without any idea of death, they have no theologians to instruct them, their last moments are not disturbed by unwelcome and unpleasant ceremonies, their funerals cost them nothing, and no one starts lawsuits over their wills.

– Voltaire


Theology is to religion what poisons are to food.

– Voltaire


Voltaire Philosophy Quotes

The pursuit of pleasure must be the goal of every rational person.

– Voltaire


A State can be no better than the citizens of which it is composed. Our labour now is not to mould States but make citizens.

– Voltaire


The infinitely small have a pride infinitely great.

– Voltaire


To the living we owe respect, but to the dead we owe only the truth.

– Voltaire


The only way to comprehend what mathematicians mean by Infinity is to contemplate the extent of human stupidity.

– Voltaire


It is not enough to conquer; one must learn to seduce.

– Voltaire


History never repeats itself. Man always does.

– Voltaire


Four thousand volumes of metaphysics will not teach us what the soul is.

– Voltaire


There are truths which are not for all men, nor for all times.

– 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


The mouth obeys poorly when the heart murmurs.

– Voltaire


Men will always be mad, and those who think they can cure them are the maddest of all.

– Voltaire


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

– Voltaire


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

– Voltaire


We look to Scotland for all our ideas of civilization.

– Voltaire


Let us cultivate our garden.

– Voltaire


Voltaire’s Important Quotes

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

– Voltaire


It is not more surprising to be born twice than once; everything in nature is resurrection.

– Voltaire


Our character is composed of our ideas and our feelings: and, since it has been proved that we give ourselves neither feelings nor ideas, our character does not depend on us. If it did depend on us, there is nobody who would not be perfect. If one does not reflect, one thinks oneself master of everything; but when one does reflect, one realizes that one is master of nothing.

– Voltaire


Common sense is not so common.

– Voltaire


Doubt is an uncomfortable condition, but certainty is a ridiculous one.

– Voltaire


Men argue. Nature acts.

– Voltaire


Beware of the words ‘internal security,’ for they are the eternal cry of the oppressor.

– Voltaire


The comfort of the rich depends upon an abundant supply of the poor.

– Voltaire

The comfort of the rich depends upon an abundant supply of the poor. - Voltaire


To hold a pen is to be at war.

– Voltaire

To hold a pen is to be at war. - Voltaire


One merit of poetry few persons will deny: it says more and in fewer words than prose.

– Voltaire


Don’t think money does everything or you are going to end up doing everything for money.

– Voltaire


Behind every successful man stands a surprised mother-in-law.

– Voltaire


If this is the best of possible worlds, what then are the others?

– Voltaire


I have lived eighty years of life and know nothing for it, but to be resigned and tell myself that flies are born to be eaten by spiders and man to be devoured by sorrow.

– Voltaire


Is politics nothing other than the art of deliberately lying?

– Voltaire


Religion began when the first scoundrel met the first fool.

– Voltaire


Insightful Quotes by Voltaire

Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.

– Voltaire


What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other’s folly – that is the first law of nature.

– Voltaire


God is a comedian playing to an audience that is too afraid to laugh.

– Voltaire


The secret of being a bore is to tell everything.

– Voltaire

The secret of being a bore is to tell everything. - Voltaire


If you want good laws, burn those you have and make new ones.

– Voltaire


Discord is the great ill of mankind; and tolerance is the only remedy for it.

– Voltaire


I am the best-natured creature in the world, and yet I have already killed three, and of these three two were priests.

– Voltaire


It is said that God is always on the side of the big battalions.

– Voltaire


Minds differ still more than faces.

– Voltaire

Minds differ still more than faces. - Voltaire


I should like to lie at your feet and die in your arms.

– Voltaire


The greatest consolation in life is to say what one thinks.

– Voltaire


We’re neither pure, nor wise, nor good; we do the best we know.

– Voltaire

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