Eric Hoffer Quotes

Who the Hell is Eric Hoffer?

Eric Hoffer was an American moral and social philosopher. Hoffer is known for his classic books 'The True Believer' and 'The Ordeal of Change'.

Born July 25, 1902
Died May 21, 1983

Books by Eric Hoffer


Best 148 Quotes by Eric Hoffer

“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.”

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

“A grievance is most poignant when almost redressed.”

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

“A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding. When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people's business.”

Eric Hoffer

“A soul that is reluctant to share does not as a rule have much of its own. Miserliness is here a symptom of meagerness.”

Eric Hoffer

“A successful social technique consists perhaps in finding unobjectionable means for individual self-assertion.”

Eric Hoffer

“Absolute faith corrupts as absolutely as absolute power.”

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

“Anger is the prelude to courage.”

Eric Hoffer

“Animals often strike us as passionate machines.”

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

“Death has but one terror, that it has no tomorrow.”

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

“Dissipation is a form of self-sacrifice.”

Eric Hoffer

“Every new adjustment is a crisis in self-esteem.”

Eric Hoffer

“Facts are counter revolutionary.”

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

“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.”

Eric Hoffer

“Fear of becoming a has been keeps some people from becoming anything.”

Eric Hoffer

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“Glory is largely a theatrical concept. There is no striving for glory without a vivid awareness of an audience.”

Eric Hoffer

“How frighteningly few are the persons whose death would spoil our appetite and make the world seem empty.”

Eric Hoffer

“How much easier is self-sacrifice than self-realization!”

Eric Hoffer

“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.”

Eric Hoffer

“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.”

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

“Intolerance is the 'Do Not Touch' sign on something that cannot bear touching. We do not mind having our hair ruffled, but we will not tolerate any familiarity with the toupee which covers our baldness.”

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

“It is a talent of the weak to persuade themselves that they suffer for something when they suffer from something; that they are showing the way when they are running away; that they see the light when they feel the heat; that they are chosen when they are shunned.”

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

“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.”

Eric Hoffer

“It is probably true that business corrupts everything it touches. It corrupts politics, sports, literature, art, labor unions and so on. But business also corrupts and undermines monolithic totalitarianism. Capitalism is at its liberating best in a noncapitalist environment.”

Eric Hoffer

“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.”

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

“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.”

Eric Hoffer

“It is the individual only who is timeless. Societies, cultures, and civilizations -- past and present -- are often incomprehensible to outsiders, but the individual's hungers, anxieties, dreams, and preoccupations have remained unchanged through the millennia.”

Eric Hoffer

“It is the pull of opposite poles that stretches souls. And only stretched souls make music.”

Eric Hoffer

“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.”

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

“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.”

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

“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.”

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

“Many of the insights of the saint stem from his experience as a sinner.”

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

“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.”

Eric Hoffer

“Naïveté in grownups is often charming; but when coupled with vanity it is indistinguishable from stupidity.”

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

“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.”

Eric Hoffer

“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.”

Eric Hoffer

“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.”

Eric Hoffer

“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.”

Eric Hoffer

“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.”

Eric Hoffer

“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.”

Eric Hoffer

“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.”

Eric Hoffer

“Our greatest weariness comes from work not done.”

Eric Hoffer

“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.”

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

“Perhaps our originality manifests itself most strikingly in what we do with that which we did not originate. To discover something wholly new can be a matter of chance, of idle tinkering, or even of the chronic dissatisfaction of the untalented.”

Eric Hoffer

“Propaganda does not deceive people; it merely helps them to deceive themselves.”

Eric Hoffer

“Retribution often means that we eventually do to ourselves what we have done unto others.”

Eric Hoffer

“Self-esteem and self-contempt have specific odors; they can be smelled.”

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

“The basic test of freedom is perhaps less in what we are free to do than in what we are free not to do.”

Eric Hoffer

“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.”

Eric Hoffer

“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.”

Eric Hoffer

“The end comes when we no longer talk with ourselves. It is the end of genuine thinking and the beginning of the final loneliness.”

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

“The greatest weariness comes from work not done.”

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

“The main effect of a real revolution is perhaps that it sweeps away those who do not know how to wish, and brings to the front men with insatiable appetites for action, power and all that the world has to offer.”

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

“The necessary has never been man's top priority. The passionate pursuit of the nonessential and the extravagant is one of the chief traits of human uniqueness. Unlike other forms of life, man's greatest exertions are made in the pursuit not of necessities but of superfluities.”

Eric Hoffer

“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.”

Eric Hoffer

“The pre-human creature from which man evolved was unlike any other living thing in its malicious viciousness toward its own kind. Humanization was not a leap forward but a groping toward survival.”

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

“The real persuaders are our appetites, our fears and above all our vanity. The skillful propagandist stirs and coaches these internal persuaders.”

Eric Hoffer

“The remarkable thing is that we really love our neighbor as ourselves: we do unto others as we do unto ourselves. We hate others when we hate ourselves. We are tolerant toward 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.”

Eric Hoffer

“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.”

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

“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.”

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

“The unpredictability inherent in human affairs is due largely to the fact that the by-products of a human process are more fateful than the product.”

Eric Hoffer

“The wisdom of others remains dull till it is writ over with our own blood. We are essentially apart from the world; it bursts into our consciousness only when it sinks its teeth and nails into us.”

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

“There are similarities between absolute power and absolute faith: a demand for absolute obedience, a readiness to attempt the impossible, a bias for simple solutionsto cut the knot rather than unravel it, the viewing of compromise as surrender. Both absolute power and absolute faith are instruments of dehumanization. Hence, absolute faith corrupts as absolutely as absolute power.”

Eric Hoffer

“There can be no real freedom without the freedom to fail.”

Eric Hoffer

“There is a totalitarian regime inside every one of us. We are ruled by a ruthless politburo which sets our norms and drives us from one five-year plan to another. The autonomous individual who has to justify his existence by his own efforts is in eternal bondage to himself.”

Eric Hoffer

“There is always a chance that he who sets himself up as his brother's keeper will end up by being his jail-keeper.”

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

“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.”

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

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“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.”

Eric Hoffer

“Though dissenters seem to question everything in sight, they are actually bundles of dusty answers and never conceived a new question. What offends us most in the literature of dissent is the lack of hesitation and wonder.”

Eric Hoffer

“Thought is a process of exaggeration. The refusal to exaggerate is not infrequently an alibi for the disinclination to think or praise.”

Eric Hoffer

“To be fully alive is to feel that everything is possible.”

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

“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.”

Eric Hoffer

“To have a grievance is to have a purpose in life.”

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

“To the excessively fearful the chief characteristic of power is its arbitrariness. Man had to gain enormously in confidence before he could conceive an all-powerful God who obeys his own laws.”

Eric Hoffer

“To the old, the new is usually bad news.”

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

“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.”

Eric Hoffer

“We can remember minutely and precisely only the things which never really happened to us.”

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

“We feel free when we escape, even if it be from the frying pan into the fire.”

Eric Hoffer

“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.”

Eric Hoffer

“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.”

Eric Hoffer

“We lie the loudest when we lie to ourselves.”

Eric Hoffer

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“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.”

Eric Hoffer

“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.”

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

“What monstrosities would walk the streets were some people's faces as unfinished as their minds.”

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

“When people are bored, it is primarily with their own selves that they are bored.”

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

“When you automate an industry you modernize it; when you automate a life you primitivize it.”

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

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

Eric Hoffer

“Youth itself is a talent - a perishable talent.”

Eric Hoffer

“Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength.”

Eric Hoffer

"The Passionate State of Mind" Quotes

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

Eric Hoffer
The Passionate State of Mind

“There are many who find a good alibi far more attractive than an achievement. For an achievement does not settle anything permanently. We still have to prove our worth anew each day; we have to prove that we are as good today as we were yesterday. But when we have a valid alibi for not achieving anything we are fixed, so to speak, for life.”

Eric Hoffer
The Passionate State of Mind

"The True Believer" Quotes

“Propaganda serves more to justify ourselves than to convince others; and the more reason we have to feel guilty, the more fervent our propaganda.”

Eric Hoffer
The True Believer

“Scratch an intellectual, and you find a would-be aristocrat who loathes the sight, the sound and the smell of common folk.”

Eric Hoffer
The True Believer

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“The quality of ideas seems to play a minor role in mass movement leadership. What counts is the arrogant gesture, the complete disregard of the opinion of others, the singlehanded defiance of the world.”

Eric Hoffer
The True Believer