Talk:Eric Hoffer

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Aphorism 215 from the Passionate State of Mind is: "To know a person's religion we need not listen to his profession of faith but must find his brand of intolerance." Anybody know what section that's in? SyntaxPC 08:53, 20 January 2006 (UTC) Nevermind: I think 215 is the section! I'm putting it in the article... SyntaxPC 08:54, 20 January 2006 (UTC)

I have a comment on the "unsourced" quote "The fanatic is not really a stickler to principle. He embraces a cause not primarily because of its justness or holiness but because of his desperate need for something to hold onto." This quote appears to be from Eric Hoffer's first book, The True Believer, in Section 61, "Factors Promoting Self-Sacrifice." The quote and the surrounding text is noted on this website: http://www.dailyrevolution.net/2006/06/friday-reflection-hoffer-on-fanaticism.html. - Steve

Unsourced[edit]

Wikiquote no longer allows unsourced quotations, and they are in process of being removed from our pages (see Wikiquote:Limits on quotations); but if you can provide a reliable and precise source for any quote from this list please move it to Eric Hoffer. -- Antiquary 20:48, 19 January 2009 (UTC)

  • A man by himself is in bad company.
  • All mass movements avail themselves of action as a means of unification. The conflicts a mass movement seeks and incites serve not only to down its enemies but also to strip its followers of their distinct individuality and render them more soluble in the collective medium.
  • Animals can learn, but it is not by learning that they become dogs, cats, or horses. Only man has to learn to become what he is supposed to be.
  • Every era has a currency that buys souls. In some the currency is pride, in others it is hope, in still others it is a holy cause. There are of course times when hard cash will buy souls, and the remarkable thing is that such times are marked by civility, tolerance, and the smooth working of everyday life.
  • Every intense desire is perhaps basically a desire to be different from what we are. Hence probably the imperiousness of the desire for fame, which is a desire for a self utterly unlike the real self.
  • Freedom means freedom from forces and circumstances which would turn man into a thing, which would impose on man the passivity and predictability of matter. By this test, absolute power is the manifestation most inimical to human uniqueness. Absolute power wants to turn people into malleable clay.
  • How much easier is self-sacrifice than self-realization.
  • I can never forget that one of the most gifted, best educated nations in the world, of its own free will, surrendered its fate into the hands of a maniac.
    • On German acceptance of Hitler in the 1930's
  • In every passionate pursuit, the pursuit counts more than the object pursued.
  • It is a perplexing and unpleasant truth that when men already have "something worth fighting for," they do not feel like fighting.
  • It is loneliness that makes the loudest noise. This is true of men as of dogs.
  • It is not actual suffering but a taste of better things which excites people to revolt.
  • It is not at all simple to understand the simple.
  • 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.
  • It is the individual alone who is timeless. The individual's hungers, anxieties, dreams, and preoccupations have remained unchanged throughout the millennia.
  • Lack of sensitivity is perhaps basically an unawareness of ourselves.
  • Language was invented to ask questions. Answers may be given by grunts and gestures, but questions must be spoken. Humanness came of age when man asked the first question. Social stagnation results not from a lack of answers but from the absence of the impulse to ask questions.
  • Man is a luxury loving animal. Take away play, fancies, and luxuries, and you will turn man into a dull, sluggish creature, barely energetic enough to obtain a bare subsistence. A society becomes stagnant when its people are too rational or too serious to be tempted by baubles.
  • 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.
  • Only the individual who has come to terms with his self can have a dispassionate attitude toward the world.
  • 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 result of a clean forward thrust, and our present difficulties as signs of decline and decay.
  • 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.
  • Our quarrel with the world is an echo of the endless quarrel proceeding within us.
  • Our sense of power is more vivid when we break a man's spirit than when we win his heart.
  • 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.
  • Religion is not a matter of God, church, holy cause, etc. These are but accessories. The source of religious preoccupation is in the self, or rather the rejection of the self. Dedication is the obverse side of self-rejection. Man alone is a religious animal because, as Montaigne points out, "it is a malady confined to man, and not seen in any other creature, to hate and despise ourselves."
  • Self-righteousness is a loud din raised to drown the voice of guilt within us.
  • Spiritual stagnation ensues when man's environment becomes unpredictable or when his inner life is made wholly predictable.
  • Take man's most fantastic invention — God. Man invents God in the image of his longings, in the image of what he wants to be, then proceeds to imitate that image, vie with it, and strive to overcome it.
  • The ability to get along without an exceptional leader is the mark of social vigor.
  • The aspiration toward freedom is the most essentially human of all human manifestations.
  • The aspiration toward freedom is the most essentially human of all human manifestations.
  • The awareness of their individual blemishes and shortcomings inclines the frustrated to detect ill will and meanness in their fellow men. Self-contempt, however vague, sharpens our eyes for the imperfections of others. We usually strive to reveal in others the blemishes we hide in ourselves.
  • The best stimulus for running ahead is to have something we must run from.
  • 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.
  • The central task of education is to implant a will and facility for learning; it should produce not learned but learning people. The truly human society is a learning society, where grandparents, parents, and children are students together.
  • 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.
  • The desire to belong is partly a desire to lose oneself.
  • The devil personifies not the nature that is around us but the nature that is within us — the infinitely ferocious and cunning prehuman creature that is still within us, sealed in the subconscious cellars of the psyche.
  • 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 remarkable thing is that the cessation of the inner dialogue marks also the end of our concern with the world around us. It is as if we noted the world and think about it only when we have to report it to ourselves.
  • The fanatic is not really a stickler to principle. He embraces a cause not primarily because of its justness or holiness but because of his desperate need for something to hold onto.
  • The individual's most vital need is to prove his worth, and this usually means an insatiable hunger for action. For it is only the few who can acquire a sense of worth by developing and employing their capacities and talents. The majority prove their worth by keeping busy.
  • The less satisfaction we derive from being ourselves, the greater is our desire to be like others.
  • 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 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 role the unfit play in human affairs should make us pause whenever we are prompted to see man as a mere animal and not a being of an order apart.
  • The technique of a mass movement aims to infect people with a malady and then offer the movement as a cure.
  • There is always a chance that he who sets himself up as his brother's keeper will end up by being his jail-keeper.
  • There is no reason why humanity cannot be served equally by weighty and trivial motives.
  • 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.
  • To be fully alive is to feel that everything is possible.
  • To some, freedom means the opportunity to do what they want to do; to most it means not to do what they do not want to do. It is perhaps true that those who can grow will feel free under any condition.
  • 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 all have private ails. The troublemakers are they who need public cures for their private ails.
  • We almost always have something to prove when we act heroically. We prove to ourselves and others that we are not what we and others thought we were. Our real self is petty, greedy, cowardly, dishonest and stewing in malice. And now in defying death and spitting in its eye we grasp at the chance of a grand refutation.
  • We clamor for equality chiefly in matters in which we ourselves cannot hope to attain excellence. To discover what a man truly craves but knows he cannot have we must find the field in which he advocates absolute equality. By this test Communists are frustrated Capitalists.
  • 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 run fastest and farthest when we run from ourselves.
  • What are we when we are alone? Some, when they are alone, cease to exist.
  • When grubbing for necessities man is still an animal. He becomes uniquely human when he reaches out for the superfluous and extravagant.
  • When we leave people on their own, we are delivering them into the hands of a ruthless taskmaster from whose bondage there is no escape. The individual who has to justify his existence by his own efforts is in eternal bondage to himself.
  • Whoever originated the cliché that money is the root of all evil knew hardly anything about the nature of evil and very little about human beings.