170 Voltaire Quotes on Humanity and the Power of the Mind

We’ve put together 170 Voltaire quotes that we’re sure you’ll love!

This collection boasts a complete list of quotes that will give you a deeper understanding of your day-to-day life.

From famous lines from Candide to Lettres Philosophiques, his works propagate an enlightened concept of progress and knowledge which people strived to achieve for decades.

Let’s get started.

And make sure to read these George Orwell quotes and Frederick Douglass quotes.

Best Voltaire Quotes

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

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

2. “Common sense is not so common.”

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

4. “Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.”

Voltaire Quote - It is dangerous to be right in matters

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

6. “Dare to think for yourself.”

7. “God is a circle whose center is everywhere and circumference nowhere.”

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

9. “Love truth, but pardon error.”

Voltaire Quote - The more I read, the more I acquire

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

11. “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.”

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

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

14. “I have wanted to kill myself a hundred times, but somehow I am still in love with life.”

Voltaire Quote - God is a comedian

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

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

17. “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.”

18. “The secret of being a bore is to tell everything.”

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

Voltaire Quote - Doubt is an uncomfortable condition

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

Voltaire Quotes on Reason and the Power of the Mind

21. “Cherish those who seek the truth, but beware of those who find it.”

22. “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.”

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

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

Voltaire Quote - Appreciation is a wonderful thing

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

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

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

28. “The more a man knows, the less he talks.”

29. “What is history? The lie that everyone agrees on.”

Voltaire Quote - The human brain is a complex organ

30. “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.”

31. “Let us cultivate our garden.”

32. “No opinion is worth burning your neighbor for.”

33. “The only way to comprehend what mathematicians mean by infinity is to contemplate the extent of human stupidity.”

34. “Liberty of thought is the life of the soul.”

Voltaire Quote - I read only to please myself.

35. “I read only to please myself, and enjoy only what suits my taste.”

36. “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.”

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

38. “It is with books as with men: a very small number plays a great part.”

39. “One great use of words is to hide our thoughts.”

Voltaire Quote - Meditation is the dissolution of thoughts

40. “Meditation is the dissolution of thoughts in eternal awareness or pure consciousness without objectification—knowing without thinking, merging finitude in infinity.”

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

42. “To hold a pen is to be at war.”

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

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

Voltaire Quote - Madness is to think of too many things in succession too fast

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

46. “History is the study of the world’s crime.”

47. “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.”

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

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

50. “Minds differ still more than faces.”

Voltaire Quote - Minds differ still more than faces.

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

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

53. “A witty saying proves nothing.”

54. “Uncertainty is an uncomfortable position. But certainty is an absurd one.”

Voltaire Quote - To succeed in the world, it is not enough to be stupid

55. “To succeed in the world, it is not enough to be stupid—one must also be polite.”

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

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

58. “Originality is nothing by judicious imitation. The most original writers borrowed one from another.”

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

Voltaire Quote - Men use thought only as authority for their injustice

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

61. “I hold firmly to my original views. After all, I am a philosopher.”

62. “No problem can stand the assault of sustained thinking.”

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

64. “Only your friends steal your books.”

Voltaire Quote - Verses which do not teach men new

65. “Verses which do not teach men new and moving truths do not deserve to be read.”

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

67. “It is as impossible to translate poetry as it is to translate music.”

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

69. “To achieve a goal, a dream, a wish, you must plan it out for success!”

Voltaire Quote - One should always cite what one does not understand

70. “One should always cite what one does not understand at all in the language one understands the least.”

71. “If you wish to converse with me, define your terms.”

72. “Writing is the painting of the voice.”

73. “The interest I have in believing a thing is no proof that such a thing exists.”

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

Voltaire Quotes on Morals and the Human Condition

Voltaire Quote - Faith consists in believing what reason cannot.

75. “Faith consists in believing what reason cannot.”

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

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

78. “Prejudices are what fools use for reason.”

79. “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 Quote - Man is free at the instant he wants to be.

80. “Man is free at the instant he wants to be.”

81. “If this is the best of possible worlds, what then are the others?”

82. “Perfect is the enemy of good.”

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

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

Voltaire Quote - May God defend me from my friends. I can defend myself from my enemies.

85. “May God defend me from my friends. I can defend myself from my enemies.”

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

87. “I loved him as we always love for the first time—with idolatry and wild passion.”

88. “The happiest of all lives is a busy solitude.”

89. “History never repeats itself. Man always does.”

Voltaire Quote - Men are equal; it is not birth, but virtue that makes the difference.

90. “Men are equal; it is not birth, but virtue that makes the difference.”

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

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

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

94. “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 Quote - When a man is in love, jealous, and just whipped by the inquisition, he is no longer himself.

95. “When a man is in love, jealous, and just whipped by the inquisition, he is no longer himself.”

96. “We are rarely proud when we are alone.”

97. “Men argue. Nature acts.”

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

99. “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 Quote - I have chosen to be happy because it is good for my health

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

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

102. “But there must be some pleasure in condemning everything—in perceiving faults where others think they see beauties.”

103. “There is pleasure in having no pleasure.”

104. “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 Quote - My friend, you see how perishable are the riches of this world

105. “My friend, you see how perishable are the riches of this world; there is nothing solid but virtue.”

106. “Love is a canvas furnished by nature and embroidered by imagination.”

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

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

109. “Religion began when the first scoundrel met the first fool.”

Voltaire Quote - We all look for happiness, but without knowing where to find it

110. “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.”

111. “Sometimes we are less unhappy in being deceived by those we love, than in being undeceived by them.”

112. “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.”

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

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

Voltaire Quote - Whatever you do, crush the infamous thing

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

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

117. “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.”

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

119. “Alas, I too have known love—that ruler of hearts, that soul of our soul. It’s never brought me anything except one kiss and twenty kicks in the rump. How could such a beautiful cause produce such an abominable effect on you?”

Voltaire Quote - Secret griefs are more cruel than public calamities.

120. “Secret griefs are more cruel than public calamities.”

121. “The safest course is to do nothing against one’s conscience. With this secret, we can enjoy life and have no fear from death.”

122. “So it is the human condition that to wish for the greatness of one’s fatherland is to wish evil to one’s neighbors. The citizen of the universe would be the man who wishes his country never to be either greater or smaller, richer or poorer.”

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

124. “I have no morals, yet I am a very moral person.”

Voltaire Quote - He was my equal in beauty

125. “He was my equal in beauty, a paragon of grace and charm, sparkling with wit, and burning with love. I adored him to distraction, to the point of idolatry; I loved him as one can never love twice.”

126. “It is the triumph of superior reason to live with folks who don’t have any.”

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

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

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

Voltaire Quote - Perfection is attained by slow degrees

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

131. “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.”

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

133. “Marriage is the only adventure open to the cowardly.”

134. “I have seen so many extraordinary things that nothing seems extraordinary to me.”

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

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

136. “To pray to God is to flatter oneself that with words one can alter nature.”

137. “To believe in God is impossible. Not to believe in Him is absurd.”

Voltaire Quotes on Politics and Righteousness

138. “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.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

144. “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 Quote - It is hard to free fools from the chains they revere

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

146. “Injustice, in the end, produces independence.”

147. “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.”

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

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

Voltaire Quote - Your presence will either give me life or kill me with pleasure

150. “Come! Your presence will either give me life or kill me with pleasure.”

151. “Is politics nothing other than the art of deliberately lying?”

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

153. “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.”

154. “If there’s life on other planets, then the earth is the universe’s insane asylum.”

Voltaire Quote - Fools admire everything in an author of reputation

155. “Fools admire everything in an author of reputation.”

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

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

158. “This agglomeration which was called and which still calls itself the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire.”

159. “Even in those cities which seem to enjoy the blessings of peace, and where the arts flourish, the inhabitants are devoured by envy, cares and anxieties, which are greater plagues than any experienced in a town when it is under siege.”

Voltaire Quote - The mouth obeys poorly when the heart murmurs.

160. “The mouth obeys poorly when the heart murmurs.”

161. “Tears are the silent language of grief.”

162. “Being a bird ain’t all about flying and shitting from high places.”

163. “To caress the serpent that devours us, until it has eaten away our heart.”

164. “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 Quote - If you want good laws, burn those you have and make new ones

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

166. “Use, do not abuse; neither abstinence nor excess ever renders man happy.”

167. “The infinitely small have a pride infinitely great.”

168. “The man who leaves money to charity in his will is only giving away what no longer belongs to him.”

169. “Where some states have an army, the Prussian Army has a state.”

Voltaire Quote - Isn't there a pleasure in criticising everything

170. “Isn’t there a pleasure in criticising everything and discovering faults where other men detect beauties?”

Which of These Quotes by Voltaire Make You Second Guess the Truths You’ve Known All Your Life?

Voltaire was known to be one of the primary figures in the Age of Enlightenment. During this time, new ideas and new perspectives were taking the world by storm.

Scientists and philosophers were teaching the world that established truths aren’t necessarily absolute truths—that one should think for himself and should challenge every idea and theory to find his own reality.

What do you think of Voltaire’s radical thoughts? Are there any more quotes that make you think twice about your established truths? Let us know in the comments below.

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