Throughout the centuries, the great philosophers like Aristotle or Socrates have left phrases for history . Phrases that, although they are from other times, still inspire us thanks to their great message.
Philosophical phrases are thoughts that make us reflect and allow us to go deeper into our being and our inner life. They make us question our values and beliefs and remind us of the path we must follow to be happy.
The best philosophical phrases
In today’s text we have compiled the best phrases of the most famous philosophers in history , so that they allow you to reflect on different themes: happiness, freedom, love, life,… So don’t miss them and apply them to your life!
1. The most difficult thing is to know ourselves; the easiest is to speak ill of others (Thales of Miletus)
It is complicated to reflect on ourselves and to know ourselves because it is always less difficult to look for the defects in others. To grow as a person and to be happy, it is necessary to know ourselves .
2. I can’t teach anyone anything. I can only make them think (Socrates)
Socrates was known for his Socratic method of teaching, which was characterized by making his disciples reflect . He only gave the tools so that they themselves would arrive at solutions. In fact, Socrates was the inspiration for coaching. Coaches are facilitators of personal development who make their clients develop their full potential and overcome their limiting beliefs.
3. We do not judge the people we love (Jean-Paul Sartre)
When we’re in love we don’t see the flaws of the person we love. Love blinds us and we become vulnerable and weak . Luckily, in time we can realize that this happens.
4. Knowledge is Power (Francis Bacon)
Learning new things allows us to grow as human beings and makes us more prepared to adapt to our environment. Knowledge makes us wise people .
5. Immature love says, “I love you because I need you. Mature love says, “I need you because I love you” (Erich Fromm)
With this sentence, Erich Fromm first talks about a toxic love , in which one of the actors is dependent on the other. In the second case, however, Fromm refers to the love of someone mature, who wants to be with a person because it is okay with him, not because he needs him.
6. The worst fight is the one that is not done (Karl Marx)
Karl Marx, a great German philosopher, sociologist and economist, means with this sentence that if we do not fight for something we want, it is impossible for us to achieve our purpose and objective . Marx, with this famous sentence, referred to the socio-economic context and the class struggle in which he has been a very influential thinker. Even so, this phrase can be used in people’s daily lives.
7. Poverty does not come from a decrease in wealth, but from a multiplication of desires (Plato)
This phrase is similar to another one that says: “it is not the one who has more that is richer, but the one who needs less”. A phrase that is absolutely true and which states that if we want too much, we will never be happy. Happiness is in small things and in acceptance .
8. Don’t hurt others by causing pain to yourself (Buddha)
One of the wisest things we can do in this life is not to do to others what we do not want them to do to us. You have to treat others with respect because you never know what the future might bring .
- You may be interested in: “Top 10 Buddhist Phrases for Finding Inner Peace”
9. Demand too much of yourself and expect too little of others. Thus you will save yourself trouble (Confucius)
It’s a big mistake to expect others to do things for us , because if they don’t we can get our hopes up. That is something that is not under our control. However, what is under control is the possibility of working on ourselves every day to improve.
10. Our deepest convictions, our most indubitable, are the most suspicious. They constitute our limit, our confines, our prison (José Ortega y Gasset)
When we have a too rigid mentality it can be detrimental to our wellbeing , because, on many occasions, we are incapable of being objective. In the end, these thoughts become limiting beliefs.
11. The heart has reasons that reason ignores (Blaise Pascal)
Sometimes we want to be so rational that we overlook the importance of emotions . Whether we like it or not, emotions move us. When we are in love we can lose our heads. There are things that reason will never understand.
12. Those who educate children well should be more honored than those who produce them; the former only give them life, the latter the art of living well (Aristotle)
The task of a parent is not only to give life to a child, but, for its development, it is necessary to educate it . Educating a child correctly will make him/her a healthy and happy adult. Therefore, people who do this well deserve a reward.
13. We seldom think about what we have; but always about what we lack (Schopenhauer)
We human beings have the bad habit of not valuing what we have and desiring what is not within our reach . To be happy, you need to value what you have and not give so much importance to what you don’t have.
14. I would never die for my beliefs because I could be wrong (Bertrand Russell)
We cannot say that what we think is always true . Sometimes our prejudices can dominate them or we can see reality from our point of view only. Maybe someone else doesn’t see it the same way.
15. Our life always expresses the result of our dominant thoughts (Søren Kierkegaard)
We can pretend to be something we’re not and pretend to be what others want us to be, but in the end we are what we think .
16. Everyone sees what you appear to be, few experience what you really are (Machiavelli)
People usually stay with the image you give, with the superficial aspects . Unfortunately, few people end up entering your heart or taking the trouble to get to know you thoroughly.
17. There is often more to learn from a child’s unexpected questions than from a man’s speeches (John Locke)
Children do not spend hours thinking about what they are going to say, they are spontaneous and curious explorers, and they always have witty questions on the tip of their tongue. Sometimes we should continue to have this perspective and see the world as if it were all new .
18. Desire is the true essence of man (Spinoza)
Luckily or unfortunately, people are always longing for something, wanting something . This is the pure essence of man and what makes us move forward. Sometimes, however, these desires can be irrational, and for our own good we must touch them with our feet on the ground.
19. It is not what happens to you, but how you react that matters (Epithet)
Life is complicated and sometimes unexpected situations arise that destabilize us . But when a period has passed in which we get used to the new situation, it is our perception of the facts that causes us suffering.
20. The secret of happiness is not always doing what you want, but always wanting what you do (Tolstoy)
This great phrase from Tolstoy says that it is not a question of doing whatever we want to do to be happy, but that what we really like and what motivates us, if we carry it out, allows us to be in a “state of flow” . This is key to our well-being and happiness.
- You want to know how to be in the flow state. Then visit our article: “Flow state: how to get your performance to the top”
21. Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet (Jean-Jacques Rousseau)
This phrase is similar to other phrases such as “Patience is the mother of science” or “Good things wait”. In other words, that being patient is a great virtue of the human being or and, generally, it has its positive consequences.
22. Our envy always lasts longer than the happiness of the one we envy (Heraclitus)
This sentence says that both envy and rancor are bad choices , because the one they hurt is ourselves.
- You want to know what spiteful people are like. Visit our article: “Spiteful people: 10 traits and attitudes that characterize them”
23. The measure of love is to love without measure (St. Augustine)
Love must be experienced and lived in all its intensity , because to deprive oneself of this great feeling can drive one crazy. Love is one of the great experiences of life.
24. It takes a lifetime to learn how to live (Seneca)
Life is a continuous learning process and you can never know enough . One of the great mistakes of human beings is to think that they already know everything, and this is not exactly an act of humility.
25. He who has a reason for living can face all the “hows” (Friedrich Nietzsche)
The one who has realistic goals in life and something to fight for, is so motivated that is able to overcome the great obstacles he may encounter throughout his life .
- Related article: “Friedrich Nietzsche’s 60 best sentences”
26. To live without philosophizing is, properly speaking, to have one’s eyes closed, without ever trying to open them (René Descartes)
It can be very comfortable to live life without stopping to think about what we are doing, simply living life to the minute, but this can become something that harms us if we do not reflect from time to time, especially when we come across problematic situations. Besides, not philosophizing and trying to find the answers about what happens around us, is like being blindfolded . It is like being alienated, living a lie.
27. I must find a truth that is true for me (Søren Kierkegaard)
Søren Kierkegaard, a Danish philosopher, is the most important antecedent of existentialism and, in fact, he invented the word “existentialist”. With this phrase he refers to the fact that one seeks his truth, that is, the idea for which he must fight and die .
28. If you approach every situation as a matter of life and death, you will die many times (Adam Smith)
Life-and-death situations generate stress and are exhausting . That is why if we take everything to heart and without taking the iron out of the matter when possible, we will end up emotionally bad.
29. In general, nine tenths of our happiness is based on health (Arthur Schopenhauer)
Physical and mental health determine our degree of happiness . Unfortunately, this does not always depend on us, because there are illnesses that affect us without being able to do much about them. Even so, we have to draw strength from it even in the worst situations.
30. The past has no power over the present moment (Eckhart Tolle)
It is common for many people to live anchored in the past and, in particular, in bad memories . There is good news, changing this is up to us, because it is not the past that has the power over the present moment, but us.
31. Believe that your life is worth living and that belief will help create the fact (William James)
This sentence refers to how our thoughts affect our behaviour . Thinking that you cannot achieve something will surely prevent you from achieving it, whereas thinking that you are capable of something and that you will achieve what you set out to do will be positive in your behaviour.
32. Great results require great ambitions (Heraclitus)
This sentence is ideal for any entrepreneur . It refers to the fact that if you want to achieve ambitious goals, you have to think big.
33. We see things, not as they are, but as we are (Kant)
We people interpret the world not as it is, but as we think it is . That is, we have previous experiences engraved in our minds and prejudices that determine how we will value the events that happen in our daily lives.
34.The select culture is the opium of the democratic people (Gustavo Bueno)
The Spanish thinker Gustavo Bueno was especially interested in knowing the cultural limitations of contemporary societies .
35.When we look for someone, we look around for something that is within everyone (Hermann Hesse)
A good reflection that alludes to the game of mirrors that is the search for external recognition , in this case through friendships.
36.The more I know people, the more I love my dog (Diogenes the Cynic)
Diogenes of Sinope , one of the most acclaimed Greek thinkers, leaves us this curious reflection.
37. Follow the least, and not the common (Petrarch)
In line with the previous famous quote, the Italian poet Petrarch stresses that virtue is found in only a few .
38.Who knows about pain, knows everything (Dante Alighieri)
The author of “The Divine Comedy” leaves us thinking with this phrase. Whoever has known pain up close, perhaps knows much better what it is to live .
39.Philosophy is a struggle against the bewitchment of our intelligence through the use of language (Ludwig Wittgenstein)
The Englishman Wittgenstein unravels one of the main tasks of philosophy: to impale all chaotic human thoughts .
40. Your natural forces, those within you, will be the ones to cure your diseases (Hippocrates)
The one considered as the father of medicine urges us to be aware that the attitude to life is key when it comes to avoiding getting sick .
41.Where stillness and meditation reign, there is no room for worry or dissipation (Francis of Assisi)
The Father of Franciscanism reveals to us the importance of meditation and peace .
42.Vanity pursues us even on our deathbeds. We bear it with integrity because we wish to overcome its terrible greatness and captivate the admiration of the spectators (Santiago Ramón y Cajal)
The Nobel Prize in Medicine reflects on vanity , one of the worst defects of human beings.
43. There is no revolutionary theory without revolutionary practice (Lenin)
The Soviet revolutionary alerts us to the importance of moving from paper to action .
44.Creativity, imagination and intuition rather than the basis of the medium are indispensable, as is a firm character; triumph comes only with struggle (Gari Kasparov)
Although Kasparov was referring to the game of chess, this sentence can be applied to any sphere of life .
45.Man is the measure of all things (Protagoras)
Protagoras left us this phrase that refers to the anthropocentrism with which we humans approach existence .
46. Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought (Henri-Louis Berson)
This is one of those philosophical phrases in which the dialectic between thought and practice is embodied. For Bergson, the best thing is to make each of these two aspects of our life have a little of each .
47. The roots of education are bitter, but its fruits are sweet (Aristotle)
The famous philosopher reminds us that education is not based on short-term pleasures and that its potential has to do with the future opportunities it provides.
48. The map is not the territory (Alfred Korzybski)
A reminder in the style of “ceci n’est pas une pipe” that our representations of something, however well worked out, are far from fitting 100% with reality and, the closer they are to reality, the less value they have as a representation .
49. Life is very simple, but we insist on making it complicated (Confucius)
Confucius related the value of the good with simplicity, transparency. Life was, for him, a reflection of this fact .
50. The obstacle is the path (Zen proverb)
A short philosophical sentence that expresses an idea that is also very simple: in the most important projects there are no shortcuts .
51.There are those who consider themselves perfect, but this is only because they demand less of themselves (Hermann Hesse)
The German philosopher leaves us with this valuable reflection on narcissism and self-demanding.
52.Those who drive and drag the world are not machines, but ideas (Victor Hugo)
Human imagination is the engine of history and of our search for a better future.
53.Religion is excellent at keeping ordinary people quiet (Frank Zappa)
The musician Frank Zappa reflects on the instrumentalization of certain religions as part of the cultural and ideological hegemony of power.
54.It is important to teach to study on your own, to search on your own, to be amazed (Mario Bunge)
About the importance of being proactive and curious.
55.Those who believe that money does everything end up doing everything for money (Voltaire)
The French philosopher surprises us with this paradox. Certainly, money can end up dominating us .
56.Happiness does not spring from reason but from imagination (Immanuel Kant)
A magnificent philosophical phrase that reveals the importance of letting your imagination run wild.
57.Only by education can man become a man. Man is only what education makes him (Immanuel Kant)
Another famous quote from the German philosopher, in which he underlines the importance of education .
58.Justice has been invented by man; but the just is born with man (Dario Lemos)
The Colombian poet expresses his particular vision of justice, in a paradox that can make you think.
59.We are more sincere when we are angry than when we are calm (Cicero)
Sincerity is not a widespread virtue in our time . Perhaps, as Cicero says, we are only completely sincere when our state of mind is altered.
60.True character always appears in great circumstances (Napoleon Bonaparte)
Do you have a resilient personality? According to the French military, it’s only in tough circumstances that great leaders appear.
61.Over there is a negative mirror. The traveler recognizes how little is his when he discovers how much he has not had and will not have (Italo Calvino)
The Cuban writer leaves us this reflection on life and expectations.
62.He who thinks big has to make a big mistake (Martin Heidegger)
Great works always have a point of madness . If they go well, everyone applauds, but if they go badly…
63.It takes a lot of intelligence to disguise one’s emotions as artifice (Arturo Pérez-Reverte)
A somewhat complex phrase that can be interpreted in different ways.
64.A thought that is not paradoxical is almost unbearable for me, a thought that is closed in on itself, coherent, that does not admit of paradox (Fernando Savater)
Logic, in the Spanish philosopher’s sights.
65.There are fathers, brothers, sons, who go out every day to fight and lose their lives in wars around the world. Modern politics tries to maintain this notion of “us” and “them” with a wall in between (Roger Waters)
The leader of the mythical band Pink Floyd , in a quote charged with pain for the cruelty with which wars and battles are fought around the world.
66.To accept and respect difference is one of those virtues without which listening cannot be given (Paulo Freire)
The Brazilian pedagogue leaves us this beautiful reflection on respect.
67.Every movement, whatever its cause, is creative (Edgar Allan Poe)
Any action, no matter how small, generates a series of repercussions.
68.I have realized that hope is almost never linked to reason; it is deprived of wisdom, I think it is born of instinct (Vasili Grossman)
The Russian journalist conceives hope as an act of faith , proper to our “wanting to be”.
69.Joy, emotion or satisfaction are more important in the West than in the East, where calm is more appreciated (Daniel Kahneman)
A cultural difference in the expression of emotions detected by the American cognitive psychologist.
70.If an individual is intellectually passive, he will not succeed in being morally free (Jean Piaget)
Morality is born from the curiosity to want to learn and to enrich ourselves culturally.
71.The greatest gift you can give to others is the example of your own life (Bertolt Brecht)
There is no point in talking too much if the actions do not correspond to what we are trying to communicate.
72.Time gives everything and takes everything away; everything changes but nothing dies (Giordano Bruno)
The Italian philosopher talks about the constant mutability of life , although with an important nuance: nothing dies, it only transforms.
73.One must have confidence in oneself and that confidence must be based on reality (Bobby Fischer)
The brilliant American chess player gives us his opinion on how to build up good self-confidence.
74.I do not believe in death because one is not present to know that it has indeed happened (Andy Warhol)
Death can be a pure artifice if we conceive it as Andy Warhol.
75.Religion is something a grown man should not have. It’s like the Three Kings: for children (Javier Krahe)
A stark and controversial view of the human need to believe in a supreme being.