Eric Hoffer

Eric Hoffer (July 25, 1902 (or 1898) - May 21, 1983) was an American social writer and philosopher. He produced ten books and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in February 1983 by President of the United States Ronald Reagan. His first book, The True Believer, published in 1951, was widely recognized as a classic, receiving critical acclaim from both scholars and laymen

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In a time of drastic change, it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned find themselves equipped to live in a world which no longer exists.
The leader has to be practical and a realist, yet must talk the language of the visionary and the idealist.
You can never get enough of what you don't need to make you happy.
Disappointment is a sort of bankruptcy -- the bankruptcy of a soul that expends too much in hope and expectation.
It is easier to love humanity as a whole than to love one's neighbor.
The basic test of freedom is perhaps less in what we are free to do than in what we are free not to do.
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 opportunites 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 heresy can spring only from a system that is in full vigor.
A preoccupation with the future not only prevents us from seeing the present as it is but often prompts us to rearrange the past.
Absolute faith corrupts as absolutely as absolute power.
Action is at bottom a swinging and flailing of the arms to regain one's balance and keep afloat.
All leaders strive to turn their followers into children.
America is still the best country for the common man -- white or black ... if he can't make it here he won't make it anywhere else.
Faith in a holy cause is to a considerable extent a substitute for the lost faith in ourselves.
However much we talk of the inexorable laws governing the life of individuals and of societies, we remain at the bottom convinced that in human affairs everything in more or less fortuitous. We do not even believe in the inevitability of our own death. Hence the difficulty of deciphering the present, of detecting the seeds of things to come as they germinate before our eyes. We are not attuned to seeing the inevitable.
If a society is to preserve stability and a degree of continuity, it must learn how to keep its adolescents from imposing their tastes, values, and fantasies on everyday life.
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 a sign of a creeping inner death when we no longer can praise the living.
It is by its promise of a sense of power that evil often attracts the weak.
It is when power is wedded to chronic fear that it becomes formidable.
Man is the only creature that strives to surpass himself, and yearns for the impossible.
No one is truly literate who cannot read his own heart.
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
One might equate growing up with a mistrust of words. A mature person trusts his eyes more than his ears. Irrationality often manifests itself in upholding the word against the evidence of the eyes. Children, savages and true believers remember far less what they have seen than what they have heard.
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 a clean forward thrust, and our present difficulties as signs of decline and decay.
Our credulity is greatest concerning the things we know least about. And since we know least about ourselves, we are ready to believe all that is said about us. Hence the mysterious power of both flattery and calumny.
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.
Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life.
Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life. Thus people haunted by the purposelessness of their lives try to find a new content not only by dedicating themselves to a holy cause but also by nursing a fanatical grievance. A mass movement offers them unlimited opportunities for both.
People unfit for freedom - who cannot do much with it - are hungry for power. The desire for freedom is an attribute of a "have" type of self. It says: leave me alone and I shall grow, learn, and realize my capacities. The desire for power is basically an attribute of a "have not" type of self.
People who bite the hand that feeds them usually lick the boot that kicks them.
Propaganda does not deceive people; it merely helps them to deceive themselves.
Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.
Social improvement is attained more readily by a concern with the quality of results than with the purity of motives.
The beginning of thought is in disagreement -- not only with others but also with ourselves.
The end comes when we no longer talk with ourselves. It is the end of genuine thinking and the beginning of the final loneliness.
The fear of becoming a 'has-been' keeps some people from becoming anything.
The Greeks invented logic but were not fooled by it.
The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.
The link between ideas and action is rarely direct. There is almost always an intermediate step in which the idea is overcome. De Tocqueville points out that it is at times when passions start to govern human affairs that ideas are most obviously translated into political action. The translation of ideas into action is usually in the hands of people least likely to follow rational motives. Hence, it is that action is often the nemesis of ideas, and sometimes of the men who formulate them. One of the marks of the truly vigorous society is the ability to dispense with passion as a midwife of action - the ability to pass directly from thought to action.
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.
The most gifted members of the human species are at their creative best when they cannot have their way, and must compensate for what they miss by realizing and cultivating their capacities and talents.
The opposite of the religious fanatic is not the fanatical atheist but the gentle cynic who cares not whether there is a god or not.
The Paleolithic hunters who painted the unsurpassed animal murals on the ceiling of the cave at Altamira had only rudimentary tools. Art is older than production for use, and play older than work. Man was shaped less by what he had to do than by what he did in playful moments. 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.
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.
The poor on the borderline of starvation live purposeful lives. To be engaged in a desperate struggle for food and shelter is to be wholly free from a sense of futility.
The real persuaders are our appetites, our fears and above all our vanity. The skillful propagandist stirs and coaches these internal persuaders.
The remarkable thing is that we really love our neighbors as ourselves: we do unto others as we do unto ourselves. We hate others when we hate ourselves. We are tolerant of others when we tolerate ourselves. We forgive others when we forgive ourselves. We are prone to sacrifice others when we are ready to sacrifice ourselves.
The uncompromising attitude is more indicative of an inner uncertainty than a deep conviction. The implacable stand is directed more against the doubt within than the assailant without.
The wise learn from the experience of others, and the creative know how to make a crumb of experience go a long way.
There are no chaste minds. Minds copulate wherever they meet.
There is probably an element of malice in the readiness to overestimate people; we are laying up for ourselves the pleasure of later cutting them down to size.
There would be no society if living together depended upon understanding each other.
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.
To grow old is to grow common. Old age equalizes - we are aware that what is happening to us has happened to untold numbers from the beginning of time. When we are young we act as if we were the first young people in the world.
To most of us nothing is so invisible as an unpleasant truth. Though it is held before our eyes, pushed under our noses, rammed down our throats- we know it not.
To spell out the obvious is often to call it in question.
We are more ready to try the untried when what we do is inconsequential. Hence the fact that many inventions had their birth as toys.
We are more ready to try the untried when what we do is inconsequential. Hence the fact that many inventions had their birth as toys.
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 can remember minutely and precisely only the things which never really happened to us.
We cannot be sure that we have something to live for unless we are ready to die for it.
We feel free when we escape -- even if it be but from the frying pan to the fire.
We find it hard to apply the knowledge of ourselves to our judgment of others. The fact that we are never of one kind, that we never love without reservations and never hate with all our being cannot prevent us from seeing others as wholly black or white.
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.
We have rudiments of reverence for the human body, but we consider as nothing the rape of the human mind.
We often use strong language not to express a powerful emotion but to evoke it in us.
When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other.
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.
Wise living consists perhaps less in acquiring good habits than in acquiring as few habits as possible.
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.
Woe to him inside a nonconformist clique who does not conform with nonconformity.
You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you.
You dehumanize a man as much by returning him to nature - by making him one with rocks, vegetation, and animals - as by turning him into a machine. Both the natural and the mechanical are the opposite of that which is uniquely human. Nature is a self-made machine, more perfectly automated than any automated machine. To create something in the image of nature is to create a machine, and it was by learning the inner working of nature that man became a builder of machines. It is also obvious that when man domesticated animals and plants he acquired self-made machines for the production of food, power, and beauty.

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