65 Short Philosophical Quotes and Sayings In A Modern World

We’ve compiled together the very best short philosophical quotes to inspire deep and open thinking in an often challenging world.

What is a philosophical quote?

Philosophy is the ‘love of wisdom‘.

It is more than a subject taught in universities or what one reads about in scholarly books. Philosophy is thinking deeply and critically about issues that affect our lives.

Famous philosophers such as Confucius, Socrates, Aristotle, Jung, Plato, Aurelius for example, played an enormous role in philosophy, as do some of the more modern philosophers. They offer insight into the universal challenges people face, and at their most eloquent touch on hope, success, love, struggle, courage and character.

All of which still holds true in our modern lives.

These short, meaningful quotes from ancient philosophers are still widely quoted today as they continue to provide great insight and inspire deep reflection. So read them, ponder them and contemplate what this means for you. Enjoy.

Short Philosophical Quotes

Short Philosophical Quotes About Life


“The unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates


“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” Carl Jung


“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” Aristotle


“Don’t explain your philosophy. Embody it.” Epictetus


“What did you do as a child that made the hours pass like minutes? Herein lies the key to your earthly pursuits.” Carl Jung


“Thinking. The talking of the soul with itself.” Plato


“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.” Marcus Aurelius


“If you hate a person, then you’re defeated by them.” Confucius


“Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know.” Lao Tzu


“Every man is a creature of the age in which he lives, and few are able to raise themselves above the ideas of the time.” Voltaire


“If they spit at you behind your back it means you’re ahead of them.” Confucius


“To know what people really think, pay regard to what they do rather than what they say.” René Descartes


“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” Mahatma Gandhi


“Happiness is the highest good.” Aristotle


“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” Confucius


“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Albert Einstein


“You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” Marcus Aurelius


“The more sand had escaped from the hourglass of our life, the clearer we should see through it.” Niccolo Machiavelli


“People only see what they are prepared to see.” Ralph Waldo Emerson


“When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everyone will respect you.” Lao Tzu


“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Confucius


“It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect its successful outcome.” William James


“The brave man is he who overcomes not only his enemies but his pleasures.” Democritus


“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” Mahatma Gandhi

Philosophy Quotes


“Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.” Victor Frankl


“Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.” Søren Kierkegaard


“The more man mediates upon good thoughts, the better will be his world and the world at large.” Confucius


“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”

Marcus Aurelius


“A good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” Lao Tzu


“I think therefore I am.” René Descartes


“Prejudices are what fools use for reason.” Voltaire


“I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think.” Socrates


“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” Confucius


“When you love someone, you love the person as they are, and not as you’d like them to be.” Leo Tolstoy


“We do not describe the world we see. We see the world we can describe.” René Descartes


“Only the dead have seen the end of the war.” Plato


“Freedom is secured not by the fulfilling of one’s desires, but by the removal of desire” Epictetus


“Life must be understood backward. But it must be lived forward.” Søren Kierkegaard


“The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.” Plato


“When anger arises, think of the consequences.” Confucius


“Man only likes to count his troubles; he doesn’t calculate his happiness.” Fyodor Dostoyevsky


“The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.” Socrates


“Man is born free, but is everywhere in chains.” Jean-Jacques Rousseau


“The greater the difficulty, the more glory in surmounting it.” Epicurus


“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle


“There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance.” Socrates


“If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to.” Lao Tzu


“Whatever is reasonable is true, and whatever is true is reasonable.”  G. W. F. Hegel


“Religion is the sign of the oppressed …. it is the opium of the people.”  Karl Marx


“You talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts.” Kahlil Gibran


“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” Socrates


“Even while they teach, men learn” Seneca


“Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.” Henry David Thoreau


“Happiness is not an ideal of reason but of imagination” Immanuel Kant


“Is man merely a mistake of God’s? Or God merely a mistake of man’s?” Friedrich Nietzsche


“One cannot step twice in the same river” Heraclitus


“If you are depressed you are living in the past, if you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” Lao Tzu


“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi


“If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.” Leo Tolstoy


“When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago.” Friedrich Nietzsche


“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation” Plato


If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent Him.” Voltaire


“Give instructions only to those people who seek knowledge after they have discovered their ignorance.” Confucius


What is your favorite philosophical life quote?

Feel free to share your favorite philosophical life quote in the comments below as it’s always great to hear which quotes and why inspire others. If you’re interested in similar inspirational words and short quotes, be sure to check out:

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