Quotes by Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (28 August 1749 - 22 March 1832), commonly known as "Goethe", was a German poet, novelist, philosopher, and scientist who is considered one of the giants of the literary world. In addition, aside from being lawyer and known also as a dramatist, humanist, theorist, and painter, he is also one of few individuals considered to have been a polymath. For ten years, he was chief minister of state for the duchy of Weimar. In 1782 he was ennobled as 'von Goethe'. In his 1809 masterpiece Elective Affinities, he became one of the first to speculate on the nature of interpersonal chemistry.

Goethe was one of the key figures of German literature and the movement of Weimar Classicism in the late 18th and early 19th centuries; this movement coincides with Enlightenment, Sentimentality ("Empfindsamkeit"), Sturm und Drang, and Romanticism. The author of Faust and Theory of Colours, he influenced Darwin with his focus on plant morphology. Goethe's influence spread across Europe, and for the next century his works were a primary source of inspiration in music, drama, poetry, and philosophy. He is widely considered to be one of the most important thinkers in Western culture.

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

Talent develops in quiet places, character in the full current of human life.
The hero draws inspiration from the virtue of his ancestors.
The greatest genius will never be worth much if he pretends to draw exclusively from his own resources.
It is the strange fate of man, that even in the greatest of evils the fear of the worst continues to haunt him.
No prudent antagonist thinks light of his adversaries.
They teach in academies far too many things, and far too much that is useless.
I will listen to anyone's convictions, but pray keep your doubts to yourself.
Ambition and love are the wings to great deeds.
Talents are best nurtured in solitude. Character is best formed in the stormy billows of the world.
The heights charm us, but the steps do not; with the mountain in our view we love to walk the plains.
The effects of good music are not just because it's new; on the contrary music strikes us more the more familiar we are with it.
Know thyself? If I knew myself I would run away.
In the end we retain from our studies only that which we practically apply.
Kindness is the golden chain by which society is bound together.
Where is the man who has the strength to be true, and to show himself as he is?
Hatred is something peculiar. You will always find it strongest and most violent where there is the lowest degree of culture.
What makes people happy is activity; changing evil itself into good by power, working in a God like manner.
A distracted existence leads us to no goal.
Don't dissipate your powers; strive to concentrate them. Genius thinks it can do whatever it sees others doing, but it will surely repent of every ill-judged outlay.
Look closely at those who patronize you. Half are unfeeling, half untaught.
He who enjoys doing and enjoys what he has done is happy.
He who does not think much of himself is much more esteemed than he imagines.
People of uncommon abilities generally fall into eccentricities when their sphere of life is not adequate to their abilities.
It is only in misery that we recognize the hand of God leading good men to good.
Let everyone sweep in front of his own door, and the whole world will be clean.
Where there is much light, the shadow is deep.
No one would talk much in society if they knew how often they misunderstood others.
Beauty is everywhere a welcome guest.
People are so constituted that everybody would rather undertake what they see others do, whether they have an aptitude for it or not.
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.
Every person above the ordinary has a certain mission that they are called to fulfill.
Self-love exaggerates our faults as well as our virtues.
There is nothing in the world more shameful than establishing one's self on lies and fables.
Whenever I hear people talking about liberal ideas, I am always astounded that men should love to fool themselves with empty sounds. An idea should never be liberal; it must be vigorous, positive, and without loose ends so that it may fulfill its divine mission and be productive. The proper place for liberality is in the realm of the emotions.
Take care of your body with steadfast fidelity. The soul must see through these eyes alone, and if they are dim, the whole world is clouded.
The highest happiness of man is to have probed what is knowable and quietly to revere what is unknowable.
Progress has not followed a straight ascending line, but a spiral with rhythms of progress and retrogression, of evolution and dissolution.
The best government is that which teaches us to govern ourselves.
Freedom consists not in refusing to recognize anything above us, but in respecting something which is above us; for by respecting it, we raise ourselves to it, and, by our very acknowledgment, prove that we bear within ourselves what is higher, and are worthy to be on a level with it
If a good person does you wrong, act as though you had not noticed it. They will make note of this and not remain in your debt long.
I know nothing more mocking than a devil that despairs.
The destiny of any nation at any given time depends on the opinion of its young people, those under twenty-five.
A creation of importance can only be produced when its author isolates himself, it is a child of solitude.
The coward threatens when he is safe.
Wealth lost is something lost, honor lost is something lost: Courage lost all is lost.
If you must tell me your opinions, tell me what you believe in. I have plenty of doubts of my own.
Before you can do something you must first be something.
Fresh activity is the only means of overcoming adversity.
Those that are firm in their will mold the world to themselves.
Be generous with kindly words, especially about those who are absent.
So long as you live and work, you will be misunderstood; to that you must resign yourself once and for all. Be silent!
The man of understanding finds everything laughable.
To know someone here or there with whom you can feel there is understanding in spite of distances or thoughts expressed -- That can make life a garden.
One always has time enough, if one will apply it well.

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