Quotes by Eric Hoffer

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Eric Hoffer (July 25, 1902 May 21, 1983) was an American social writer. He produced ten books and won the Presidential Medal of Freedom in February 1983 from Ronald Reagan. His first book, The True Believer, published in 1951, ... more

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Our achievements speak for themselves. What we have to keep track of are our failures, discouragements and doubts. We tend to forget the past difficulties, the many false starts, and the painful groping. We see our past achievements as the end results of

To become different from what we are, we must have some awareness of what we are.
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.
When people are bored it is primarily with themselves.
Propaganda does not deceive people; it merely helps them to deceive themselves.
Rudeness is a weak imitation of strength.
Every new adjustment is a crisis in self-esteem.
We lie loudest when we lie to ourselves.
Kindness can become its own motive. We are made kind by being kind.
Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life.
Friendship Never explain -- your friends do not need it, and your enemies will not believe it anyway. A real friend never gets in your way, unless you happen to be on the way down. A friend is someone you can do nothing with and enjoy it. However much we guard ourselves against it, we tend to shape ourselves in the image others have of us. 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.
There can be no real freedom without the freedom to fail.
To know a person's religion we need not listen to his profession of faith but must find his brand of intolerance.
People who bite the hand that feeds them usually lick the boot that kicks them.
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.
The greatest weariness comes from work not done.
The world leans on us. When we sag, the whole world seems to droop.
It is easier to love humanity as a whole than to love one's neighbor.
The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.
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.
We never say so much as when we do not quite know what we want to say. We need few words when we have something to say, but all the words in all the dictionaries will not suffice when we have nothing to say and want desperately to say it.
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.
Absolute faith corrupts as absolutely as absolute power.
Compassion is the antitoxin of the soul: where there is compassion even the most poisonous impulses remain relatively harmless.
Man is the only creature that strives to surpass himself, and yearns for the impossible.
The end comes when we no longer talk with ourselves. It is the end of genuine thinking and the beginning of the final loneliness.
Perhaps a modern society can remain stable only by eliminating adolescence, by giving its young, from the age of ten, the skills, responsibilities, and rewards of grownups, and opportunities for action in all spheres of life. Adolescence should be a time of useful action, while book learning and scholarship should be a preoccupation of adults.
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.
There is in most passions a shrinking away from ourselves. The passionate pursuer has all the earmarks of a fugitive.
We need not only a purpose in life to give meaning to our existence but also something to give meaning to our suffering. We need as much something to suffer for as something to live for.
We used to think that revolutions are the cause of change. Actually it is the other way around: change prepares the ground for revolution.
No matter what our achievements might be, we think well of ourselves only in rare moments. We need people to bear witness against our inner judge, who keeps book on our shortcomings and transgressions. We need people to convince us that we are not as bad as we think we are.
An empty head is not really empty; it is stuffed with rubbish. Hence the difficulty of forcing anything into an empty head.
It almost seems that nobody can hate America as much as native Americans. America needs new immigrants to love and cherish it.
The game of history is usually played by the best and the worst over the heads of the majority in the middle.
The search for happiness is one of the chief sources of unhappiness.
Glory is largely a theatrical concept. There is no striving for glory without a vivid awareness of an audience.
Fear comes from uncertainty. When we are absolutely certain, whether of our worth or worthlessness, we are almost impervious to fear. Thus a feeling of utter unworthiness can be a source of courage.
They who lack talent expect things to happen without effort. They ascribe failure to a lack of inspiration or ability, or to misfortune, rather than to insufficient application. At the core of every true talent there is an awareness of the difficulties inherent in any achievement, and the confidence that by persistence and patience something worthwhile will be realized. Thus talent is a species of vigor.
Man staggers through life yapped at by his reason, pulled and shoved by his appetites, whispered to by fears, beckoned by hopes. Small wonder that what he craves most is self-forgetting.
Nonconformists travel as a rule in bunches. You rarely find a nonconformist who goes it alone. And woe to him inside a nonconformist clique who does not conform with nonconformity.
The remarkable thing is that it is the crowded life that is most easily remembered. A life full of turns, achievements, disappointments, surprises, and crises is a life full of landmarks. The empty life has even its few details blurred, and cannot be remembered with certainty.
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.
The real antichrist is he who turns the wine of an original idea into the water of mediocrity.
It is the stretched soul that makes music, and souls are stretched by the pull of opposites --opposite bents, tastes, yearnings, loyalties. Where there is no polarity --where energies flow smoothly in one direction --there will be much doing but no music.
It still holds true that man is most uniquely human when he turns obstacles into opportunities.
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.
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.
Man is eminently a storyteller. His search for a purpose, a cause, an ideal, a mission and the like is largely a search for a plot and a pattern in the development of his life story -- a story that is basically without meaning or pattern.
The suspicious mind believes more than it doubts. It believes in a formidable and ineradicable evil lurking in every person.
It would be difficult to exaggerate the degree to which we are influenced by those we influence.
Naivete in grownups is often charming; but when coupled with vanity it is indistinguishable from stupidity.
Man was nature's mistake --she neglected to finish him -- and she has never ceased paying for her mistake.
However much we guard ourselves against it, we tend to shape ourselves in the image others have of us. 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.
We do not really feel grateful toward those who make our dreams come true; they ruin our dreams.
The beginning of thought is in disagreement -- not only with others but also with ourselves.
How frighteningly few are the persons whose death would spoil our appetite and make the world seem empty.
Death has but one terror, that it has no tomorrow.
The superficiality of the American is the result of his hustling. It needs leisure to think things out; it needs leisure to mature. People in a hurry cannot think, cannot grow, nor can they decay. They are preserved in a state of perpetual puerility.
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.