Voltaire Quotes

80+ Voltaire Quotes on Life and Religion

François-Marie Arouet–most commonly referred to by his pseudonym Voltaire–was a French philosopher, Enlightenment writer, and historian. He is most famous for his criticism of Christianity and his wisdom on freedom of speech and the toleration and reason of religion. Here are the best Voltaire quotes to get an insight into his beliefs and ideas:

Voltaire Biography

Voltaire was born into a wealthy family in Paris, France. It was there that he went to a prestigious secondary school and showed promise as a writer at a young age. He grew up to write some legendary works, including the satirical novella Candide, a 1759 book of philosophical and religious parody, depicting the concepts of optimism and religion. He also wrote The Henriade, Oedipus, Dictionnaire philosophique, a philosophical dictionary on Enlightenment and the Catholic Church.

Voltaire was arrested and exiled to Bastille multiple times, for arguing with the Chevalier de Rohan and for writing defamatory poetry. Shortly before he died in Paris in 1778, he was recognized as an icon of the Enlightenment period’s philosophy and ideas. A museum in Geneva was established and devoted to this famed French Enlightenment Writer. The Voltaire Foundation was vested at the University of Oxford. They published The Oxford Complete Works of Voltairea 220-volume collection of his plays, novels, and poems. 

To this day, he is criticized for his beliefs and how he grasped at fame as a writer. He often used inaccuracies and lied about everything about his life to get attention. Nonetheless, Voltaire is still praised as a writer and philosophical thinker for his theology intolerance and words of wisdom and philosophical ideas on religion.

Voltaire Quotes
Public Domain – Wikipedia

Voltaire Quotes from Candide 

“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

“Our labor preserves us from three great evils — weariness, vice, and want.”-Voltaire

“Do you believe,’ said Candide, ‘that men have always massacred each other as they do today, that they have always been liars, cheats, traitors, ingrates, brigands, idiots, thieves, scoundrels, gluttons, drunkards, misers, envious, ambitious, bloody-minded, calumniators, debauchees, fanatics, hypocrites, and fools?’ / Do you believe,’ said Martin, ‘that hawks have always eaten pigeons when they have found them?”-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

“Optimism…the obstinacy of maintaining that everything is best when it is worst.”-Voltaire

“Let us cultivate our garden.”-Voltaire

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

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

“Let us work without reasoning,’ said Martin; ‘it is the only way to make life endurable.”-Voltaire

“But there must be some pleasure in condemning everything–in perceiving faults where others think they see beauties.’ / ‘You mean there is pleasure in having no pleasure.”-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

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

“…man was born to live either in the convulsions of misery or in the lethargy of boredom.”-Voltaire

“But for what purpose was the earth formed?” asked Candide. “To drive us mad,” replied Martin.”-Voltaire

“Fools admire everything in an author of reputation.”-Voltaire

“What a pessimist you are!” exclaimed Candide. /” That is because I know what life is,” said Martin.”-Voltaire

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

“Men must have somewhat altered the course of nature, for they were not born wolves, yet they have become wolves. God did not give them twenty-four-pounders or bayonets, yet they have made themselves bayonets and guns to destroy each other. In the same category, I place not only bankruptcies but the law which carries off the bankrupts’ effects, to defraud their creditors.”-Voltaire

“Just for the sake of amusement, ask each passenger to tell you his story, and if you find a single one who hasn’t often cursed his life, who hasn’t told himself he’s the most miserable man in the world, you can throw me overboard head first.”-Voltaire

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

brass quilt pen

Voltaire Quotes on Life

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

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

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

“Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.”-Voltaire

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

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

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

gray praying hand statue

Voltaire Quotes on God and Religion

“God has punished the knave, and the devil has drowned the rest.”-Voltaire

“When man was put into the Garden of Eden, he was put there with the idea that he should work the land; and this proves that man was not born to be idle.”-Voltaire

“It is not known precisely where angels dwell whether in the air, the void, or the planets. It has not been God’s pleasure that we should be informed of their abode.”-Voltaire

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

“Faith consists in believing what reason cannot.”-Voltaire

“Theology is to religion what poisons are to food.”-Voltaire

“Religion began when the first scoundrel met the first fool.” – Voltaire

“Superstition is to religion what astrology is to astronomy the mad daughter of a wise mother. These daughters have too long dominated the earth.”-Voltaire

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

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

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

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

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

Voltaire Quotes on Government, Power, and Truth

“Love truth, but pardon error.”-Voltaire

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

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

“Cherish those who seek the truth but beware of those who find it.”-Voltaire

“The art of government consists in taking as much money as possible to a class of citizens to give to another.”-Voltaire

“Politics has its source in evil than in the greatness of the human spirit.” -Voltaire

“Let the laws be clear, uniform and precise for interpreting laws is always to corrupt them. -Voltaire

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

“All men have equal rights to liberty, to their property, and to the protection of the laws.”-Voltaire

Voltaire Quotes on Knowledge, Learning, and Common Sense

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”-Voltaire

“Common sense is not so common.”-Voltaire

“Dare to think for yourself.”-Voltaire

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

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

“All the known world, excepting only savage nations, is governed by books.”-Voltaire

“No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.”-Voltaire

“The most original writers borrowed one from another. The instruction we find in books is like fire. We fetch it from our neighbor’s, kindle it at home, communicate it to others, and it becomes the property of all.”-Voltaire

Voltaire Quotes on Grief, Death, and Suffering

“Tears are the silent language of grief.”-Voltaire

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

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

“Secret griefs are crueler than public calamities.”-Voltaire

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

woman wearing blue top while standing on plain field

Voltaire Quotes on Joy, Love, and Friendship

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

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

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

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

“This self-love is the instrument of our preservation; it resembles the provision for the perpetuity of mankind: it is necessary, it is dear to us, it gives us pleasure, and we must conceal it.”-Voltaire

“The ear is the avenue to the heart.”-Voltaire

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

“Friendship is the marriage of the soul, and this marriage is liable to divorce.”-Voltaire

Voltaire Quotes on Humanity

“All mortals are equal; it is not their birth, But virtue itself that makes the difference.”-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

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

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

“It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere.”-Voltaire

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

“Man is free at the moment he wishes to be.” -Voltaire

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

“History never repeats itself. Man always does.”-Voltaire

Other Famous Voltaire Quotes

“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

“Perfect is the enemy of good.”-Voltaire

“Originality is nothing but judicious imitation.”-Voltaire

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

“Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too.”-Voltaire

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

For Further Reading 

More Quotes:

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January Nelson is a writer, editor, and dreamer. She writes about astrology, games, love, relationships, and entertainment. January graduated with an English and Literature degree from Columbia University. Read more articles from January on Thought Catalog.

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