Voltaire Quotes to Remember the French Enlightenment Writer

Voltaire was born François-Marie Arouet on November 21, 1694. He was a French Enlightenment writer, philosopher, and historian who raised social issues and advocated civil liberties through his work.

Voltaire has 20,000 letters, 2,000 books, and hundreds of poems, essays, pamphlets, and plays to his name. He wasn’t only famous in France—Voltaire was a commercial success internationally, mostly known for his versatile writing style.

Voltaire supported the separation of church from state and freedom of religion and speech, among other social issues. His work was against the censorship policies, yet he made sure people heard his opinions. Some of Voltaire quotes have created a legacy that speaks of his straightforward thinking and wit.

Thought-Provoking Voltaire Quotes

1. “Love truth, but pardon error.” – Voltaire

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

3. “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

4. “The comfort of the rich depends upon an abundant supply of the poor.” – Voltaire

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

6. “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

7. “Faith consists in believing what reason cannot.” – Voltaire

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

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

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

11. “The more often a stupidity is repeated, the more it gets the appearance of wisdom.” – Voltaire

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

13. “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

14. “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

15. “No opinion is worth burning your neighbor for.” – Voltaire

Voltaire quote about neighbors
16. “The art of medicine consists of amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.” – Voltaire

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

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

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

20. “The only way to comprehend what mathematicians mean by Infinity is to contemplate the extent of human stupidity.” – Voltaire

21. “Prejudices are what fools use for reason.” – Voltaire

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

23. “It is with books as with men: a very small number play a great part.” – Voltaire

24. “Man is free at the instant he wants to be.” – Voltaire

25. “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

26. “Liberty of thought is the life of the soul.” – Voltaire

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

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

29. “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

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

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

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

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

Voltaire’s opinion on God
34. “God is a circle whose center is everywhere and circumference nowhere.” – Voltaire

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

36. “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

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

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

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39. “History never repeats itself. Man always does.” – Voltaire

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

41. “Perfect is the enemy of good.” – Voltaire

42. “The infinitely small have a pride infinitely great.” – Voltaire

43. “The pursuit of pleasure must be the goal of every rational person.” – Voltaire

44. “Ice-cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal.” – Voltaire

45. “Marriage is the only adventure open to the cowardly.” – Voltaire

46. “A State can be no better than the citizens of which it is composed. Our labor now is not to mold States but make citizens.” – Voltaire

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

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

49. “May God defend me from my friends: I can defend myself from my enemies.” – Voltaire

50. “No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.” – Voltaire

51. “Men are equal; it is not birth but virtue that makes the difference.” – Voltaire

52. “Behind every successful man stands a surprised mother-in-law.” – Voltaire

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

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

Voltaire quote
55. “He must be very ignorant for he answers every question he is asked.” – Voltaire

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

57. “The happiest of all lives is a busy solitude.” – Voltaire

58. ‘Optimism,’ said Cacambo, ‘What is that?’ ‘Alas!’ replied Candide, ‘It is the obstinacy of maintaining that everything is best when it is worst.’ ~Candide – Voltaire

59. “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

60. “Common sense is not so common.” – Voltaire

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

62. “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

63. “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

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64. “When he to whom one speaks does not understand, and he who speaks himself does not understand, that is metaphysics.” – Voltaire

65. “To hold a pen is to be at war.” – Voltaire

66. “Injustice in the end produces independence.” – Voltaire

67. “The heart has its own reasons that reason can’t understand.” – Voltaire

68. “I should like to lie at your feet and die in your arms.” – Voltaire

69. “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

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

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

72. “I hate women because they always know where things are.” – Voltaire

73. “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


Voltaire was one of the wisest, funniest, and cleverest people of the 18th century. He continues to teach us about toleration, modesty, and kindness.


Voltaire was a French writer, historian, and writer. He had a versatile style of writing  loved by people across the world. Voltaire never let the strict rules of the state stop his opinions from reaching people who wanted to free themselves from confining policies. We hope these Voltaire quotes helped you learn that the French writer’s words are still relevant!

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After Nicolas de Largillière, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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