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Quotes of the day: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Published Thursday, August 27, 2015 @ 5:02 PM EDT
Aug 27 2015

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (August 28, 1749 – March 22, 1832) was a German writer and statesman. His body of work includes epic and lyric poetry written in a variety of metres and styles; prose and verse dramas; memoirs; an autobiography; literary and aesthetic criticism; treatises on botany, anatomy, and colour; and four novels. In addition, numerous literary and scientific fragments, more than 10,000 letters, and nearly 3,000 drawings by him are extant. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


A clever man commits no minor blunders.

A distracted existence leads us to no goal.

All the knowledge I possess everyone else can acquire, but my heart is still my own.

Behavior is the mirror in which everyone shows their image.

Being brilliant is no great feat if you respect nothing.

Character develops itself in the stream of life.

Correction does much, but encouragement does more.

Error is on the surface; truth is hid in great depths.

Everything a human being wants can be divided into four components: love, adventure, power, and fame.

Everything in the world may be endured, except continual prosperity.

I hate all bungling as I do sin, but particularly bungling in politics, which leads to the misery and ruin of many thousands and millions of people.

If I love you, what business is it of yours?

If you must tell me your opinions, tell me what you believe in. I have plenty of doubts of my own.

If youth is a fault, it is one which is soon corrected.

It is easier to perceive error than to find truth, for the former lies on the surface and is easily seen, while the latter lies in the depth, where few are willing to search for it.

Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.

Legislators and revolutionaries who promise equality and liberty at the same time are either psychopaths or mountebanks.

Let everyone sweep in front of his own door and the whole world will be clean.

Mathematicians are like Frenchmen: whatever you say to them they translate into their own language and forthwith it is something entirely different.

Men show their character in nothing more clearly than by what they think laughable.

None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.

Of the whole rabble of thieves, the fools are the worst; they rob you of both time and peace of mind.

The coward only threatens when he is safe.

The day is committed to error and floundering; success and achievement are matters of long range.

The intelligent man finds almost everything ridiculous, the sensible man hardly anything.

The soul that sees beauty may sometimes walk alone.

The way you see people is the way you treat them, and the way you treat them is what they become.

Then indecision brings its own delays,
And days are lost lamenting o'er lost days.
Are you in earnest?
Seize this very minute;
What you can do, or dream you can, begin it;
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.

There is no use in reproving vulgarity, for it never changes.

There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.

Tolerance comes with age. I see no fault committed that I myself could not have committed at some time or other.

We are never deceived; we deceive ourselves.

We do not have to visit a madhouse to find distorted minds; our planet is the mental institution of the universe.

What is important in life is life, and not the result of life.

What is my life if I am no longer useful to others.

What we do not understand we do not possess.

Where there is much light, the shadow is deep.


(August 28 is also the birthday of Leo Tolstoy and Robertson Davies )

Categories: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Quotes of the day


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