Quotes by Alexander Herzen

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Life has taught me to think, but thinking has not taught me to live.

You can no more bridle passions with logic than you can justify them in the law courts. Passions are facts and not dogmas.
No one is to blame. It is neither their fault nor ours. It is the misfortune of being born when a whole world is dying.
People who have realized that this is a dream imagine that it is easy to wake up, and are angry with those who continue sleeping, not considering that the whole world that environs them does not permit them to wake. Life proceeds as a series of optical illusions, artificial needs and imaginary sensations.
There is nothing in the world more stubborn than a corpse: you can hit it, you can knock it to pieces, but you cannot convince it.
Unaware of the absurdity of it, we introduce our own petty household rules into the economy of the universe for which the life of generations, peoples, of entire planets, has no importance in relation to the general development.
I am truly horrified by modern man. Such absence of feeling, such narrowness of outlook, such lack of passion and information, such feebleness of thought.
If nations always moved from one set of furnished rooms to another -- and always into a better set -- things might be easier, but the trouble is that there is no one to prepare the new rooms. The future is worse than the ocean -- there is nothing there. It will be what men and circumstances make it.
Would it be possible to stand still on one spot more majestically -- while simulating a triumphant march forward -- than it is done by the two English Houses of Parliament?
Human development is a form of chronological unfairness, since late-comers are able to profit by the labors of their predecessors without paying the same price.
All religions have based morality on obedience, that is to say, on voluntary slavery. That is why they have always been more pernicious than any political organization. For the latter makes use of violence, the former -- of the corruption of the will.
We have wasted our spirit in the regions of the abstract and general just as the monks let it wither in the world of prayer and contemplation.
Science, which cuts its way through the muddy pond of daily life without mingling with it, casts its wealth to right and left, but the puny boatmen do not know how to fish for it.
Slavery is the first step towards civilization. In order to develop it is necessary that things should be much better for some and much worse for others, then those who are better off can develop at the expense of others.
This socialism will develop in all its phases until it reaches its own extremes and absurdities. Then once again a cry of denial will break from the titanic chest of the revolutionary minority and again a mortal struggle will begin, in which socialism will play the role of contemporary conservatism and will be overwhelmed in the subsequent revolution, as yet unknown to us.
Liberalism, austere in political trifles, has learned ever more artfully to unite a constant protest against the government with a constant submission to it.
It is possible to lead astray an entire generation, to strike it blind, to drive it insane, to direct it towards a false goal. Napoleon proved this.
Education at school continues what has been done at home: it crystallizes the optical illusion, consolidates it with book learning, theoretically legitimizes the traditional trash and trains the children to know without understanding and to accept denominations for definitions. Astray in his conceptions, entangled in words, man loses the flair for truth, the taste for nature. What a powerful intellect must you possess, to be suspicious of this moral carbon dioxide and with your head swimming already, to hurl yourself out of it into the fresh air, with which, into the bargain, everyone round is trying to scare you!
We could hardly believe that after so many ordeals, after all the trials of modern skepticism, there was still so much left in our souls to destroy.
A generation which has passed through the shop has absorbed standards and ambitions which are not of those of spaciousness, and cannot get away from them. Everything with them is done as though for sale, and they naturally have in view the greatest possible benefit, profit and that end of the stuff that will make the best show.
Every man who has lived for fifty years has buried a whole world or even two; he has grown used to its disappearance and accustomed to the new scenery of another act: but suddenly the names and faces of a time long dead appear more and more often on his way, calling up series of shades and pictures kept somewhere, just in case, in the endless catacombs of the memory, making him smile or sigh, and sometimes almost weep.
What breadth, what beauty and power of human nature and development there must be in a woman to get over all the palisades, all the fences, within which she is held captive!

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