Who said: "No matter what our achievements might be, we think well of ourselves only in rare moments..."

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"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

Eric Hoffer was born in New York City in 1902 to German immigrants. By the age of five he could read in both German and English, but when he was seven he suffered an accident that left him mysteriously blinded. When he was fifteen he regained his sight for reasons as inexplicable as why he lost it in the first place. From that time on he read voraciously, initially because he feared his recovery would be temporary. Following the death of his parents, he traveled to California in 1920 where he was employed as a migratory worker until the outbreak of World War II; he later recorded these experiences in his autobiography Truth Imagined.

Some sources say that he enlisted in the US Armed forces but was rejected on medical grounds, whether this is the case or not, he spent the war years at a naval shipyard in San Francisco, where he settled, educating himself in his own time and working odd jobs. He started work as a longshoreman (a dock worker who loads and unloads ships) in 1943 and remained so employed until he retired in 1967.

He wrote eleven books including The True Believer (1951), a study of fanaticism and mass movements.

Hoffer, affectionately known as the "longshoreman philosopher", died in 1983 but his name lives on through his books and also in the Eric Hoffer Award which highlights important voices that might otherwise not be heard through traditional publication avenues.

More quotes from 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."
  • "For though ours is a godless age, it is the very opposite of irreligious."
  • "In times of change learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists."
  • "People who bite the hand that feeds them usually lick the boot that kicks them."
  • "Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength."
  • "The best stimulus for running ahead is to have something we must run from."

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