Voltaire Quotes

50+ Voltaire Quotes On Life and Religion That Will Make You Think

Francois-Marie Arouet–most commonly referred to by his pseudonym Voltaire–was a French philosopher, Enlightenment writer, and historian, famous for his criticism of Christianity and his wisdom on freedom of speech and on the toleration and reason of religion. As a philosophical thinker, Voltaire is was–and is–an inspiration

Born into a wealthy family in Paris, France, Voltaire went to a prestigious secondary school and showed promise as a writer at a young age. He grew up to write some legendary works: the satirical novella Candidea 1759 book of philosophical and religious parody, depicting the concepts of optimism and religion–, The Henriade, Oedipus, Dictionnaire philosophique–a philosophical dictionary on Enlightenment and the Catholic Church–and more.

Voltaire was arrested and exiled to Bastille multiple times, for arguing with the Chevalier de Rohan and for writing defamatory poetry. Shortly before his death 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 and the Voltaire Foundation was vested at the University of Oxford, publishing The Oxford Complete Works of Voltaire, a 220-volume collection of his plays, novels, and poems. 

To this day, Voltaire is criticized for his beliefs and the way in which he grasped at fame as a writer, using inaccuracies and lying about everything about his life in order to get attention. Nonetheless, Voltaire was–and is–still praised as a writer and philosophical thinker for his religious intolerance and words of wisdom and philosophical ideas on religion.

Voltaire Quotes

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?”

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

“Do you believe,’ said Candide, ‘that men have always massacred each other as they do to-day, 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?”

“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.”

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

“Let us cultivate our garden.”

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

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

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

“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.”

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

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

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

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

Fools admire everything in an author of reputation.”

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

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

“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.”

“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?”

“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, so as to defraud their creditors.”

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

“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.”

“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.”

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

Voltaire Quotes on Life, Religion, and Reason 

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.”

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

“Faith consists in believing what reason cannot.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Famous Voltaire Quotes To Make You Think

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

“Common sense is not so common.”

“Dare to think for yourself.”

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.”

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

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

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

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

No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.”

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.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Perfect is the enemy of good.”

“Tears are the silent language of grief.”

“Originality is nothing but judicious imitation.”

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.”

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

For Further Reading 

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January Nelson is a writer, editor, dreamer, and occasional exotic dancer and a collective pen name. Read more articles from January on Thought Catalog.

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