Quotes by Georg C. Lichtenberg

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Georg Christoph Lichtenberg , 1742-99, German physicist and satirist. He taught at the Univ. of Göttingen, where his special field was electricity. Lichtenberg made several visits to England and was influenced by the satire of ...

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The worst thing you can possibly do is worrying and thinking about what you could have done.

In each of us there is a little of all of us.
Before we blame we should first see whether we cannot excuse.
Once we know our weaknesses they cease to do us any harm.
If moderation is a fault, then indifference is a crime.
The most dangerous untruths are truths slightly distorted.
Even truth needs to be clad in new garments if it is to appeal to a new age.
People who never have any time on their hands are those who do the least.
I am convinced we do not only love ourselves in others but hate ourselves in others too.
Affectation is a very good word when someone does not wish to confess to what he would none the less like to believe of himself.
We have no words for speaking of wisdom to the stupid. He who understands the wise is wise already.
We are obliged to regard many of our original minds as crazy at least until we have become as clever as they are.
Man is to be found in reason, God in the passions.
If this is philosophy it is at any rate a philosophy that is not in its right mind.
A schoolteacher or professor cannot educate individuals, he educates only species.
If we make a couple of discoveries here and there we need not believe things will go on like this for ever. Just as we hit water when we dig in the earth, so we discover the incomprehensible sooner or later.
A book is a mirror: If an ass peers into it, you can't expect an apostle to look out.
Astronomy is perhaps the science whose discoveries owe least to chance, in which human understanding appears in its whole magnitude, and through which man can best learn how small he is.
If an angel were ever to tell us anything of his philosophy I believe many propositions would sound like 2 times 2 equals 13.
Man can acquire accomplishments or he can become an animal, whichever he wants. God makes the animals, man makes himself.
So-called professional mathematicians have, in their reliance on the relative incapacity of the rest of mankind, acquired for themselves a reputation for profundity very similar to the reputation for sanctity possessed by theologians.
Much can be inferred about a man from his mistress: in her one beholds his weaknesses and his dreams.
Here take back the stuff that I am, nature, knead it back into the dough of being, make of me a bush, a cloud, whatever you will, even a man, only no longer make me.
Erudition can produce foliage without bearing fruit.
Nothing can contribute more to peace of soul than the lack of any opinion whatever.
There were honest people long before there were Christians and there are, God be praised, still honest people where there are no Christians. It could therefore easily be possible that people are Christians because true Christianity corresponds to what they would have been even if Christianity did not exist.
With most people disbelief in a thing is founded on a blind belief in some other thing.
First we have to believe, and then we believe.
It is in the gift for employing all the vicissitudes of life to one's own advantage and to that of one's craft that a large part of genius consists.
Rational free spirits are the light brigade who go on ahead and reconnoiter the ground which the heavy brigade of the orthodox will eventually occupy.
As the few adepts in such things well know, universal morality is to be found in little everyday penny-events just as much as in great ones. There is so much goodness and ingenuity in a raindrop that an apothecary wouldn't let it go for less than half-a-crown...
The human tendency to regard little things as important has produced very many great things.
Some theories are good for nothing except to be argued about.
Delight at having understood a very abstract and obscure system leads most people to believe in the truth of what it demonstrates.
Theologians always try to turn the Bible into a book without common sense.
The most successful tempters and thus the most dangerous are the deluded deluders.
A good metaphor is something even the police should keep an eye on.
With a pen in my hand I have successfully stormed bulwarks from which others armed with sword and excommunication have been repulsed.
To err is human also in so far as animals seldom or never err, or at least only the cleverest of them do so.
Every man has his moral backside which he refrains from showing unless he has to and keeps covered as long as possible with the trousers of decorum.
It is a question whether, when we break a murderer on the wheel, we do not fall into the error a child makes when it hits the chair it has bumped into.
We cannot remember too often that when we observe nature, and especially the ordering of nature, it is always ourselves alone we are observing.
If people should ever start to do only what is necessary millions would die of hunger.
The American who first discovered Columbus made a bad discovery.
Be wary of passing the judgment: obscure. To find something obscure poses no difficulty: elephants and poodles find many things obscure.
I have remarked very clearly that I am often of one opinion when I am lying down and of another when I am standing up...
Man is a gregarious animal and much more so in his mind than in his body. A golden rule; judge men not by their opinions but by what their opinions have made of them.
We accumulate our opinions at an age when our understanding is at its weakest.
A handful of soldiers is always better than a mouthful of arguments.
We often have need of a profound philosophy to restore to our feelings their original state of innocence, to find our way out of the rubble of things alien to us, to begin to feel for ourselves and to speak ourselves, and I might almost say to exist ourselves.
A man is never more serious than when he praise himself.
It is hardly to be believed how spiritual reflections when mixed with a little physics can hold people's attention and give them a livelier idea of God than do the often ill-applied examples of his wrath.
Prejudices are so to speak the mechanical instincts of men: through their prejudices they do without any effort many things they would find too difficult to think through to the point of resolving to do them.
There exists a species of transcendental ventriloquism by means of which men can be made to believe that something said on earth comes from Heaven.
With prophecies the commentator is often a more important man than the prophet.
We say that someone occupies an official position, whereas it is the official position that occupies him.
If another Messiah was born he could hardly do so much good as the printing-press.
Reason now gazes above the realm of the dark but warm feelings as the Alpine peaks do above the clouds. They behold the sun more clearly and distinctly, but they are cold and unfruitful.
There is no more important rule of conduct in the world than this: attach yourself as much as you can to people who are abler than you and yet not so very different that you cannot understand them.
It is said that truth comes from the mouths of fools and children: I wish every good mind which feels an inclination for satire would reflect that the finest satirist always has something of both in him.