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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Deeply earnest and thoughtful people stand on shaky footing with the public.

A purpose you impart is no longer your own.
Be above it! Make the world serve your purpose, but do not serve it.
Anecdotes and maxims are rich treasures to the man of the world, for he knows how to introduce the former at fit place in conversation.
Reason can never be popular. Passions and feelings may become popular, but reason will always remain the sole property of a few eminent individuals.
People do not mind their faults being spread out before them, but they become impatient if called on to give them up.
A person can stand almost anything except a succession of ordinary days.
A great revolution is never the fault of the people, but of the government.
Whether a person shows themselves to be a genius in science or in writing a song, the only point is, whether the thought, the discovery, or the deed, is living and can live on.
The credit of advancing science has always been due to individuals and never to the age.
Science has been seriously retarded by the study of what is not worth knowing and of what is not knowable.
A person places themselves on a level with the ones they praise.
Self-knowledge comes from knowing other men.
Taste is only to be educated by contemplation, not of the tolerably good but of the truly excellent. I therefore show you only the best works; and when you are grounded in these, you will have a standard for the rest, which you will know how to value, without overrating them.
There is repetition everywhere, and nothing is found only once in the world.
To understand one thing well is better than understanding many things by halves.
The people rate strength before everything.
On the pinnacle of success man does not stand firm long.
What chance gathers she easily scatters. A great person attracts great people and knows how to hold them together.
Letters are among the most significant memorial a person can leave behind them.
No one as ever completed their apprenticeship.
I've studied now Philosophy and Jurisprudence, Medicine -- and even, alas! Theology -- from end to end with labor keen; and here, poor fool with all my lore I stand, no wiser than before.
We eagerly get hold of a law that serves as a weapon to our passions.
A judge who cannot punish, in the end associates themselves with the criminal.
Be he a king or a peasant, he is happiest who finds peace at home.
It is said, that no one is a hero to their butler. The reason is, that it requires a hero to recognize a hero. The butler, however, will probably know well how to estimate his equals.
Hatred is active, and envy passive dislike; there is but one step from envy to hate.
A person is never happy till their vague strivings has itself marked out its proper limitations.
The most happy man is he who knows how to bring into relation the end and beginning of his life.
One never goes further than when they do not know where they are going.
What by a straight path cannot be reached by crooked ways is never won.
In comradeship is danger countered best.
Yes! To this thought I hold with firm persistence; The last result of wisdom stamps it true; He only earns his freedom and existence Who daily conquers them anew.
It seems to never occur to fools that merit and good fortune are closely united.
If you modestly enjoy your fame you are not unworthy to rank with the holy.
Wood burns because it has the proper stuff in it; and a man becomes famous because he has the proper stuff in him.
What life half gives a man, posterity gives entirely.
Enjoy what thou has inherited from thy sires if thou wouldn't really possess it. What we employ and use is never an oppressive burden; what the moment brings forth, that only can it profit by.
Deny yourself! You must deny yourself! That is the song that never ends.
There is a courtesy of the heart; it is allied to love. From its springs the purest courtesy in the outward behavior.
Courage and modesty are the most unequivocal of virtues, for they are of a kind that hypocrisy cannot imitate; they too have this quality in common, that they are expressed by the same color.
You accuse a woman of wavering affections, but don't blame her; she is just looking for a consistent man.
I will not be as those who spend the day in complaining of headache, and the night in drinking the wine that gives it.
Common sense is the genius of humanity.
Master and Doctor are my titles; for ten years now, without repose, I held my erudite recitals and led my pupils by the nose.
The Christian religion, though scattered and abroad will in the end gather itself together at the foot of the cross.
If children grew up according to early indications, we should have nothing but geniuses.
Character is formed in the stormy billows of the world.
Character, in great and little things, means carrying through what you feel able to do.
What I possess I would gladly retain. Change amuses the mind, yet scarcely profits.
We are so constituted that we believe the most incredible things; and, once they are engraved upon the memory, woe to him who would endeavor to erase them.
He is dead in this world who has no belief in another.
Beauty is a primeval phenomenon, which itself never makes its appearance, but the reflection of which is visible in a thousand different utterances of the creative mind, and is as various as nature herself.
One of the most striking signs of the decay of art is when we see its separate forms jumbled together.
The highest problem of any art is to cause by appearance the illusion of a higher reality.
The biggest problem with every art is by the use of appearance to create a loftier reality.

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