16 Philosopher Quotes By Sun Tzu – The Art Of War

Inspirational Quotes By Sun Tzu

Photo By 663highland Under CC BY-SA 3.0

These quotes by Sun Tzu are some of the best philosopher quotes under the context of war and battle. He goes by the real name of Sun Wu but better known by others as Sun Tzu or Sunzi. Sun was an ancient Chinese military general, strategist, and philosopher that belonged to the Zhou Dynasty. Rumor has it that he was the author of The Art of War, an infamous book on military strategy.


16 Philosopher Quotes By Sun Tzu


1 – “Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can?”

  • You are greater than you can ever imagine. Whether you accept or deny this truth will still determine the roads you’ll end up in life.

2 – “If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.”

  • If you know all that needs to be known, there is no room for fear of nothingness.

- “Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness. Thereby you can be the director of the opponent’s fate.”

  • Sometimes it’s best to do nothing than to regret doing something. But if you’re going to do something, don’t do it while grabbing unnecessary attention.

4 – “He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot, will be victorious.”

  • The bigger man will always admit to himself when he can and cannot win a fight. Swallow your pride and live to fight another day.

5 – “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.”

  • If you are not ready, don’t rush it. Time is your friend and time will prepare you for anything in life.

6 – “The opportunity to secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.”

  • Be patient and wait for the opportunity to strike when the enemy shows a glimpse of weakness, for that is when the tide will turn and victory may be seized.

- “You have to believe in yourself.”

  • A leader is able to believe in his people because he learned how to believe in himself first.

- “Invincibility lies in the defence; the possibility of victory in the attack.”

  • Learn to be flexible and learn what to do when. There is a time and place for everything.

- “Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look on them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death.”

  • One word, karma. They may be your soldiers but they are still men. Empower them with your love, and in return they will treat you with an even greater love.

10 – “Confront them with annihilation, and they will then survive; plunge them into a deadly situation, and they will then live. When people fall into danger, they are then able to strive for victory.”

  • If you are in an environment where safety and comfort surrounds you, that may just be the thing holding you back from achieving your successes in life.

11 – “The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand.”

  • Study, study, and study some more! Always do your research and know thy enemy as much as you know yourself.

12 – “The good fighters of old first put themselves beyond the possibility of defeat, and then waited for an opportunity of defeating the enemy.”

  • Break their spirits of ever hoping to achieve victory then strike back when they are vulnerable.

13 – “It is essential to seek out enemy agents who have come to conduct espionage against you and to bribe them to serve you. Give them instructions and care for them. Thus doubled agents are recruited and used.”

  • Rather than eliminating your enemy, you can benefit even greater by befriending them and using them against your true enemies.

14 – “Hence that general is skilful in attack whose opponent does not know what to defend; and he is skilful in defense whose opponent does not know what to attack.”

  • Confuse your opponent and you will have won over his mind. A war is just as physical as it is mental.

15 - “If fighting is sure to result in victory, than you must fight, even though the ruler forbid it; if fighting will not result in victory, then you must not fight even at the ruler’s bidding.”

  • Sometimes you have to do what must be done, whether that means disobeying or not.

16 – “If we know that our own men are in a condition to attack, but are unaware that the enemy is not open to attack, we have gone only halfway towards victory.”

  • Know thy enemy because knowledge is power.


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