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Eric Hoffer

Geburtstag: 25. Juli 1898
Todesdatum: 21. Mai 1983

Eric Hoffer war ein sozialkritischer US-amerikanischer Philosoph und Autor. Seine Ideen hat er in zehn Büchern dargestellt, deren erstes, The True Believer, sowohl von ihm selbst als auch von der Kritik als sein bestes und wichtigstes angesehen wird. Im Februar 1983 wurde er von Ronald Reagan mit der Presidential Medal of Freedom ausgezeichnet.

Zitate Eric Hoffer

„The best education will not immunize a person against corruption by power.“

—  Eric Hoffer

Quelle: Before the Sabbath (1979), p. 40-41
Kontext: The best education will not immunize a person against corruption by power. The best education does not automatically make people compassionate. We know this more clearly than any preceding generation. Our time has seen the best-educated society, situated in the heart of the most civilized part of the world, give birth to the most murderously vengeful government in history.
Forty years ago the philosopher Alfred North Whitehead thought it self-evident that you would get a good government if you took power out of the hands of the acquisitive and gave it to the learned and the cultivated. At present, a child in kindergarten knows better than that.

„To think out a problem is not unlike drawing a caricature. You have to exaggerate the salient point and leave out that which is not typical.“

—  Eric Hoffer

Entry (1950)
Kontext: To think out a problem is not unlike drawing a caricature. You have to exaggerate the salient point and leave out that which is not typical. "To illustrate a principle," says Bagehot, "you must exaggerate much and you must omit much." As to the quantity of absolute truth in a thought: it seems to me the more comprehensive and unobjectionable a thought becomes, the more clumsy and unexciting it gets. I like half-truths of a certain kind — they are interesting and they stimulate.

„What starts out here as a mass movement ends up as a racket, a cult, or a corporation.“

—  Eric Hoffer

Frequently misquoted as "Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket."
The Temper of Our Time (1967)
Kontext: Up to now, America has not been a good milieu for the rise of a mass movement. What starts out here as a mass movement ends up as a racket, a cult, or a corporation.

„This food-and-shelter theory concerning man's efforts is without insight.“

—  Eric Hoffer

Entry (1952)
Kontext: This food-and-shelter theory concerning man's efforts is without insight. Our most persistent and spectacular efforts are concerned not with the preservation of what we are but with the building up of an imaginary conception of ourselves in the opinion of others. The desire for praise is more imperative than the desire for food and shelter.

„The ignorant are a reservoir of daring.“

—  Eric Hoffer

Section 124
Reflections on the Human Condition (1973)
Kontext: The ignorant are a reservoir of daring. It almost seems that those who have yet to discover the known are particularly equipped for dealing with the unknown. The unlearned have often rushed in where the learned feared to tread, and it is the credulous who are tempted to attempt the impossible. They know not whither they are going, and give chance a chance.

„But in the case of Israel the displaced Arabs have become eternal refugees. Everyone insists that Israel must take back every single Arab.“

—  Eric Hoffer

Israel's Peculiar Position (1968)
Kontext: The Jews are a peculiar people: things permitted to other nations are forbidden to the Jews. Other nations drive out thousands, even millions of people and there is no refugee problem. Russia did it, Poland and Czechoslovakia did it, Turkey threw out a million Greeks, and Algeria a million Frenchman. Indonesia threw out heaven knows how many Chinese — and no one says a word about refugees.
But in the case of Israel the displaced Arabs have become eternal refugees. Everyone insists that Israel must take back every single Arab.
Arnold J. Toynbee calls the displacement of the Arabs an atrocity greater than any committed by the Nazis. Other nations when victorious on the battlefield dictate peace terms. But when Israel is victorious it must sue for peace.

„It is doubtful if the oppressed ever fight for freedom. They fight for pride and power — power to oppress others.“

—  Eric Hoffer

Quoted in War and Conflict Quotations: A Worldwide Dictionary of Pronouncements from Military Leaders, Politicians, Philosophers, Writers and Others (1997) by Michael C. Thomsett and Jean F. Thomsett
Paraphrased variant: "I doubt if the oppressed ever fight for freedom..."
Kontext: It is doubtful if the oppressed ever fight for freedom. They fight for pride and power — power to oppress others. The oppressed want above all to imitate their oppressors; they want to retaliate.

„They hate not wickedness but weakness. When it is their power to do so, the weak destroy weakness wherever they see it.“

—  Eric Hoffer

Section 42
The Passionate State Of Mind, and Other Aphorisms (1955)
Kontext: It has often been said that power corrupts. But it is perhaps equally important to realize that weakness, too, corrupts. Power corrupts the few, while weakness corrupts the many. Hatred, malice, rudeness, intolerance, and suspicion are the faults of weakness. The resentment of the weak does not spring from any injustice done to them but from the sense of inadequacy and impotence. They hate not wickedness but weakness. When it is their power to do so, the weak destroy weakness wherever they see it.

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„Actual creativeness is a matter of moments.“

—  Eric Hoffer

Entry (1956)
Kontext: Actual creativeness is a matter of moments. One has to piece together the minute grains to make a lump. And it is so easy to miss the momentary flashes, it is like sluicing in placer mining. He who lets the flakes float by has nothing to show for his trouble.

„The ratio between supervisory and producing personnel is always highest where the intellectuals are in power.“

—  Eric Hoffer

The Temper of Our Time (1967)
Kontext: The ratio between supervisory and producing personnel is always highest where the intellectuals are in power. In a Communist country it takes half the population to supervise the other half.

„This last faculty is one of the most essential and elusive“

—  Eric Hoffer, buch The True Believer

Section 90
The True Believer (1951), Part Three: United Action and Self-Sacrifice
Kontext: Exceptional intelligence, noble character and originality seem neither indispensable nor perhaps desirable. The main requirements seem to be: audacity and a joy in defiance; an iron will; a fanatical conviction that he is in possession of the one and only truth; faith in his destiny and luck; a capacity for passionate hatred; contempt for the present; a cunning estimate of human nature; a delight in symbols (spectacles and ceremonials); unbounded brazenness which finds expression in a disregard of consistency and fairness; a recognition that the innermost craving of a following is for communion and that there can never be too much of it; a capacity for winning and holding the utmost loyalty of a group of able lieutenants. This last faculty is one of the most essential and elusive.

„In all my life I never competed for fortune, for a woman, or for fame. I learned to write in total isolation.“

—  Eric Hoffer

Entry (1981)
Kontext: In all my life I never competed for fortune, for a woman, or for fame. I learned to write in total isolation. My first work was also my best, and the first thing published. I never belonged to a circle or clique. I did not know I was writing a book until it was written. When my first book was published there was no one near me, an acquaintance let alone a friend, to congratulate me. I have never savored triumph, never won a race.

„We know ourselves chiefly by hearsay.“

—  Eric Hoffer

Sections 128 - 129
The Passionate State Of Mind, and Other Aphorisms (1955)
Kontext: 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.... It is thus with most of us: we are what other people say we are. We know ourselves chiefly by hearsay.

„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

Section 165
Reflections on the Human Condition (1973)
Kontext: 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.

„It has been often stated that a social order is likely to be stable so long as it gives scope to talent. Actually, it is the ability to give scope to the untalented that is most vital in maintaining social stability.“

—  Eric Hoffer

Quelle: The Ordeal of Change (1963), Ch. 13: "Scribe, Writer, and Rebel"
Kontext: It has been often stated that a social order is likely to be stable so long as it gives scope to talent. Actually, it is the ability to give scope to the untalented that is most vital in maintaining social stability. For not only are the untalented more numerous but, since they cannot transmute their grievances into a creative effort, their disaffection will be more pronounced and explosive. Thus the most troublesome problem which confronts social engineering is how to provide for the untalented and, what is equally important, how to provide against them. For there is a tendency in the untalented to divert their energies from their own development into the management, manipulation, and probably frustration of others. They want to police, instruct, guide, and meddle. In an adequate social order, the untalented should be able to acquire a sense of usefulness and of growth without interfering with the development of talent around them. This requires, first, an abundance of opportunities for purposeful action and self advancement. Secondly, a wide diffusion of technical and social skills so that people will be able to work and manage their affairs with a minimum of tutelage. The scribe mentality is best neutralized by canalizing energies into purposeful and useful pursuits, and by raising the cultural level of the whole population so as to blur the dividing line between the educated and the uneducated. If such an arrangement lacks provisions for the encouragement of the talented it yet has the merit of not interfering with them.

„It is the individual only who is timeless.“

—  Eric Hoffer

Section 183
Reflections on the Human Condition (1973)
Kontext: It is the individual only who is timeless. Societies, cultures, and civilizations — past and present — are often incomprehensible to outsiders, but the individual's hunger, anxieties, dreams, and preoccupations have remained unchanged through the millennia. Thus, we are up against the paradox that the individual who is more complex, unpredictable, and mysterious than any communal entity is the one nearest to our understanding; so near that even the interval of millennia cannot weaken our feeling of kinship. If in some manner the voice of an individual reaches us from the remotest distance of time, it is a timeless voice speaking about ourselves.

„A society becomes stagnant when its people are too rational or too serious to be tempted by baubles.“

—  Eric Hoffer

Section 28
Reflections on the Human Condition (1973)
Kontext: 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.

„I like half-truths of a certain kind — they are interesting and they stimulate.“

—  Eric Hoffer

Entry (1950)
Kontext: To think out a problem is not unlike drawing a caricature. You have to exaggerate the salient point and leave out that which is not typical. "To illustrate a principle," says Bagehot, "you must exaggerate much and you must omit much." As to the quantity of absolute truth in a thought: it seems to me the more comprehensive and unobjectionable a thought becomes, the more clumsy and unexciting it gets. I like half-truths of a certain kind — they are interesting and they stimulate.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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