Eric Hoffer Quotes (210 Quotes)


    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.

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

    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.

    We lie loudest when we lie to ourselves.

    A grievance is most poignant when almost redressed.


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

    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.

    We can never really be prepared for that which is wholly new. We have to adjust ourselves, and every radical adjustment is a crisis in self-esteem we undergo a test, we have to prove ourselves. It needs inordinate self-confidence to face drastic change without inner trembling.

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

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

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

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

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

    The compulsion to take ourselves seriously is in inverse proportion to our creative capacity. When the creative flow dries up, all we have left is our importance.

    In human affairs, the best stimulus for running ahead is to have something we must run from.

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

    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.

    It is part of the formidableness of a genuine mass movement that the self-sacrifice it promotes includes also a sacrifice of some of the moral sense which cramps and restrains our nature.

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

    Animals often strike us as passionate machines.

    More significant than the fact that poets write abstrusely, painters paint abstractly, and composers compose unintelligible music is that people should admire what they cannot understand indeed, admire that which has no meaning or principle.

    Rudeness is a weak imitation of strength.

    The chemistry of dissatisfaction is as the chemistry of some marvelously potent tar. In it are the building stones of explosives, stimulants, poisons, opiates, perfumes and stenches.

    The capacity for getting along with our neighbor depends to a large extent on the capacity for getting along with ourselves. The self-respecting individual will try to be as tolerant of his neighbor's shortcomings as he is of his own.

    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.

    The self-styled intellectual who is impotent with pen and ink hungers to write history with sword and blood.


    It is loneliness that makes the loudest noise. This is true of men as of dogs.

    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.

    There is a grandeur in the uniformity of the mass. When a fashion, a dance, a song, a slogan or a joke sweeps like wildfire from one end of the continent to the other, and a hundred million people roar with laughter, sway their bodies in unison, hum one song or break forth in anger and denunciation, there is the overpowering feeling that in this country we have come nearer the brotherhood of man than ever before.

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

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

    How much easier is self-sacrifice than self-realization.

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

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

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

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

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

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


    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.

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

    The nature of a society is largely determined by the direction in which talent and ambition flow - by the tilt of the social landscapes.

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

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

    We usually see only the things we are looking for so much so that we sometimes see them where they are not.

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

    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.

    That which corrodes the souls of the persecuted is the monstrous inner agreement with the prevailing prejudice against them.

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


    More Eric Hoffer Quotations (Based on Topics)


    Man - People - Life - World - Power - Mind - Society & Civilization - Soul - Contemplation - Actions - Mastery & Expertise - Youth - Time - Compassion - Death & Dying - Facts - Sense & Perception - Abilities - Change - View All Eric Hoffer Quotations

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