Eric Hoffer

Eric Hoffer

Eric Hoffer (July 25, 1898 – May 21, 1983) was an American moral and social philosopher. He was the author of ten books and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in February 1983. His first book, The True Believer (1951), was widely recognized as a classic, receiving critical acclaim from both scholars and laymen, although Hoffer believed that The Ordeal of Change was his finest work.

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It is easier to love humanity as a whole than to love one's neighbor.

We do not really feel grateful toward those who make our dreams come true, they ruin our dreams.

Compassion is the antitoxin of the soul: where there is compassion, even the most poisonous impulses remain relatively harmless.

Sometimes we feel the loss of a prejudice as a loss of vigor.

Nationalist pride, like other variants of pride, can be a substitute for self-respect.

Charlatanism of some degree is indispensable to effective leadership.

We are told that talent creates its own opportunities. But it sometimes seems that intense desire creates not only its own opportunities, but its own talents.

In times of change learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.

Self-esteem and self-contempt have specific odors, they can be smelled.

Disappointment is a sort of bankruptcy - the bankruptcy of a soul that expends too much in hope and expectation.

The savior who wants to turn men into angels is as much a hater of human nature as the totalitarian despot who wants to turn them into puppets.

It is the child in man that is the source of his uniqueness and creativeness, and the playground is the optimal milieu for the unfolding of his capacities and talents.

Every new adjustment is a crisis in self-esteem.

Call not that man wretched who, whatever ills he suffers, has a child to love.

It almost seems that nobody can hate America as much as native Americans. America needs new immigrants to love and cherish it.

It sometimes seems that intense desire creates not only its own opportunities, but its own talents.

Compassion alone stands apart from the continuous traffic between good and evil proceeding within us.

Every intense desire is perhaps a desire to be different from what we are.

There is no loneliness greater than the loneliness of a failure. The failure is a stranger in his own house.

Craving, not having, is the mother of a reckless giving of oneself.

The best part of the art of living is to know how to grow old gracefully.

Wise living consists perhaps less in acquiring good habits than in acquiring as few habits as possible.

Where everything is possible miracles become commonplaces, but the familiar ceases to be self-evident.

When people are bored it is primarily with themselves.

It is the awareness of unfulfilled desires which gives a nation the feeling that it has a mission and a destiny.

It is not so much the example of others we imitate as the reflection of ourselves in their eyes and the echo of ourselves in their words.

It is a sign of creeping inner death when we can no longer praise the living.

We all have private ails. The troublemakers are they who need public cures for their private ails.

To spell out the obvious is often to call it in question.

One of the marks of a truly vigorous society is the ability to dispense with passion as a midwife of action - the ability to pass directly from thought to action.

We are more prone to generalize the bad than the good. We assume that the bad is more potent and contagious.

Propaganda does not deceive people, it merely helps them to deceive themselves.

We feel free when we escape - even if it be but from the frying pan to the fire.

Faith in a holy cause is to a considerable extent a substitute for lost faith in ourselves.

There is sublime thieving in all giving. Someone gives us all he has and we are his.

The suspicious mind believes more than it doubts. It believes in a formidable and ineradicable evil lurking in every person.

There is probably an element of malice in our readiness to overestimate people - we are as it were laying up for ourselves the pleasure of later cutting them down to size.

Take away hatred from some people and you have men without faith.

Children are the keys of paradise.

Someone who thinks the world is always cheating him is right. He is missing that wonderful feeling of trust in someone or something.

Facts are counterrevolutionary.

It is by its promise of a sense of power that evil often attracts the weak.

It would be difficult to exaggerate the degree to which we are influenced by those we influence.

Men weary as much of not doing the things they want to do as of doing the things they do not want to do.

Our passionate preoccupation with the sky, the stars and a God somewhere in outer space, is a homing impulse. We are drawn back to where we came from.

It is not actual suffering but the taste of better things which excites people to revolt.

To know a person's religion we need not listen to his profession of faith but must find his brand of intolerance.

With some people solitariness is an escape not from others but from themselves. For they see in the eyes of others only a reflection of themselves.

To become different from what we are we must have some awareness of what we are.

The individual who has to justify his existence by his own efforts is in eternal bondage to himself.

There are no chaste minds. Minds copulate wherever they meet.

Kindness can become its own motive. We are made kind by being kind.

Our greatest pretenses are built up not to hide the evil and the ugly in us but our emptiness. The hardest thing to hide is something that is not there.

A dissenting minority feels free only when it can impose its will on the majority: what it abominates most is the dissent of the majority.

To the old the new is usually bad news.

A man by himself is in bad company.

We have rudiments of reverence for the human body but we consider as nothing the rape of the human mind.

Our frustration is greater when we have much and want more than when we have nothing and want some. We are less dissatisfied when we lack many things than when we seem to lack but one thing.

You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you.

I hang onto my prejudices they are the testicles of my mind.

A heresy can spring only from a system that is in full vigor.

When we believe ourselves in possession of the only truth we are likely to be indifferent to common everyday truths.

We used to think that revolutions are the cause of change. Actually it is the other way around: change prepares the ground for revolution.

A grievance is most poignant when almost redressed.

The fear of becoming a 'has-been' keeps some people from becoming anything.

In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.

It is remarkable by how much a pinch of malice enhances the penetrating power of an idea or an opinion. Our ears it seems are wonderfully attuned to sneers and evil reports about our fellow men.

Youth itself is a talent a perishable talent.

Animals often strike us as passionate machines.

The leader has to be practical and a realist yet must talk the language of the visionary and the idealist.

The world leans on us. When we sag the whole world seems to droop.

Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life.

Dissipation is a form of self-sacrifice.

Unpredictability too can become monotonous.

When people are free to do as they please they usually imitate each other.

The misery of a child is interesting to a mother the misery of a young man is interesting to a young woman the misery of an old man is interesting to nobody.

There would be no society if living together depended upon understanding each other.

It still holds true that man is most uniquely human when he turns obstacles into opportunities.

Whenever you trace the origin of a skill or practices which played a crucial role in the ascent of man we usually reach the realm of play.

It is often the failure who is the pioneer in new lands new undertakings and new forms of expression.

The beginning of thought is in disagreement - not only with others but also with ourselves.

The weakness of a soul is proportionate to the number of truths that must be kept from it.

Those in possession of absolute power can not only prophesy and make their prophecies come true but they can also lie and make their lies come true.

The greatest weariness comes from work not done.

We lie loudest when we lie to ourselves.

Action is at bottom a swinging and flailing of the arms to regain one's balance and keep afloat.

The game of history is usually played by the best and the worst over the heads of the majority in the middle.

Our sense of power is more vivid when we break a man's spirit than when we win his heart.

Rudeness is a weak imitation of strength.

A great man's greatest good luck is to die at the right time.

Man was nature's mistake she neglected to finish him and she has never ceased paying for her mistake.

It is the malady of our age that the young are so busy teaching us that they have no time left to learn.

The search for happiness is one of the chief sources of unhappiness.

We have perhaps a natural fear of ends. We would rather be always on the way than arrive. Given the means we hang on to them and often forget the ends.

Many of the insights of the saint stem from their experience as sinners.

When cowardice is made respectable its followers are without number, both from among the weak and the strong, it easily becomes a fashion.

The pleasure we derive from doing favors is partly in the feeling it gives us that we are not altogether worthless. It is a pleasant surprise to ourselves.

Man is the only creature that strives to surpass himself and yearns for the impossible.

An empty head is not really empty, it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head.

Social improvement is attained more readily by a concern with the quality of results than with the purity of motives.

People who bite the hand that feeds them usually lick the boot that kicks them.

The only way to predict the future is to have power to shape the future.

It is the around-the-corner brand of hope that prompts people to action while the distant hope acts as an opiate.

Where there is the necessary technical skill to move mountains there is no need for the faith that moves mountains.

We can be absolutely certain only about things we do not understand.

You can never get enough of what you don't need to make you happy.

Creativity is the ability to introduce order into the randomness of nature.

The real Antichrist is he who turns the wine of an original idea into the water of mediocrity.

A nation without dregs and malcontents is orderly peaceful and pleasant but perhaps without the seed of things to come.

The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.

Far more crucial than what we know or do not know is what we do not want to know.

We are least open to precise knowledge concerning the things we are most vehement about.

What greater reassurance can the weak have than that they are like anyone else?

There is in most passions a shrinking away from ourselves. The passionate pursuer has all the earmarks of a fugitive.

It is futile to judge a kind deed by its motives. Kindness can become its own motive. We are made kind by being kind.