Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von

1749 – 1832 CE

Though a literary celebrity at 25 and most well known for his novels and poems, Goethe was also a natural philosopher, diplomat, civil servant, geologist, and scientist who developed a theory of color, inspired Tesla’s discovery of alternating current and whose early work on evolution influenced Charles Darwin. A freethinker who blended Christianity with pantheism, humanism, and other esoteric traditions, he became a major influence on Hegel, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Hesse and Jung. He authored some of the greatest novels ever written and his poems were set to music by Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Liszt and many others. Continuously creating for 82 years, his wisdom deepened and merged into a culture we take for granted today.

Eras

Sources

Faust, part I

Faust, part II

Theory of Colors

Unlisted Sources

Das Göttliche, 1783

Das Göttliche, 1783 (The Divine)

Elective Affinities (1809)

Herman and Dorothea

Herman and Dorothea (1797)

Letter to Knebel, 1812

Maxims

Westoóstlicher Divan

Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre (1796)

Quotes by Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von (76 quotes)

“The highest goal that man can achieve is amazement.”

from Theory of Colors

Chapters: 1. The Unnamed

Themes: Inspiration

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“A man sees in the world what he carries in his heart.”

from Faust, part II

Chapters: 1. The Unnamed

Themes: Projection

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“As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.”

Chapters: 38. Fruit Over Flowers

Themes: Basic Goodness

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“Every creature is only a tone, a modification in a mighty harmony.”

Chapters: 13. Honor and Disgrace

Themes: Music

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“Every second is of infinite value.”

Chapters: 35. The Power of Goodness

Themes: Meaningfulness

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“Every situation--nay, every moment--is of infinite worth; for it is the representative of a whole eternity.”

Chapters: 32. Uncontrived Awareness

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“Fortunate is he whose world lies in his home.”

from Faust, part II

Chapters: 47. Effortless Success

Themes: Travel

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“He who moves not forward, goes backward.”

Chapters: 24. Unnecessary Baggage

Themes: Creativity

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“If there is confusion in your head and in your heart, what more do you want! A man who no longer loves and no longer errs should have himself buried straight away.”

Chapters: 43. No Effort, No Trace

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“If you treat someone as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.”

Chapters: 17. True Leaders

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“It is ever true that he who does nothing for others, does nothing for himself.”

Chapters: 81. Journey Without Goal

Themes: Compassion

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“Kindness is the golden chain by which society is bound.”

Chapters: 63. Easy as Hard

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“Know thyself? If I knew myself, I'd run away.”

Chapters: 33. Know Yourself

Themes: Know Yourself

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“Most people spend the greatest part of their time working in order to live, and what little freedom remains so fills them with fear that they seek out any and every means to be rid of it.”

Chapters: 75. Greed

Themes: Livelihood

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“One never goes so far as when one doesn't know where one is going.”

Chapters: 57. Wu Wei

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“Rest not - life is sweeping by
Go and dare before you die.
Something mighty and sublime,
leave behind to conquer time.”

Chapters: 70. Inscrutable

Themes: Death and Dying

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“Tell a wise person, or else keep silent, because the mass man will mock it right away.”

Chapters: 41. Distilled Life

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“The deed is everything; the fame is nothing.”

Chapters: 44. Fame and Fortune

Themes: Fame

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

Chapters: 49. No Set Mind

Themes: Basic Goodness

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“There are two things children should get from their parents: roots and wings.”

Chapters: 20. Unconventional Mind

Themes: Education

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“There is no past we can bring back by longing for it. There is only an eternal now that builds and creates out of the past something new and better.”

Chapters: 40. Returning

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“They should be ashamed of themselves, all these sober people!”

Chapters: 22. Heaven's Door

Themes: Crazy Wisdom

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“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”

Chapters: 44. Fame and Fortune

Themes: Economics

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“Truth has to be repeated constantly, because Error also is being preached all the time, and not just by a few, but by the multitude… happy and comfortable in the knowledge of having Majority on its side.”

Chapters: 41. Distilled Life

Themes: Illusion

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“We know accurately only when we know little; doubt grows with knowledge... With wisdom grows doubt.”

Chapters: 67. Three Treasures

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“What we agree with leaves us inactive, but contradiction makes us productive.”

Chapters: 18. The Sick Society

Themes: Paradox

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“No revolution is the fault of the people but always the fault of the government.”

from Faust, part I

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“It is unthinkable that wisdom should ever be popular.”

from Faust, part I

Chapters: 41. Distilled Life

Themes: Wisdom

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“Timeless wisdom draws us on”

from Faust, part II

Chapters: 8. Like Water

Themes: Inspiration

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“All theory is gray, my friend. But forever green is the tree of life.”

from Faust, part I

Chapters: 12. This Over That

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“The world has always been the same — an endless farce, an antic game, a universal masquerade!”

from Faust, part II

Chapters: 5. Christmas Trees

Themes: Delusion

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“You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.”

Chapters: 27. No Trace

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

Chapters: 18. The Sick Society

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“Must it ever be thus-that the source of our happiness must also be the fountain of our misery?”

Chapters: 46. Enough

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“What you have inherited from your forefathers, you must first win for yourself if you are to possess it.”

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“So, lively brisk old fellow, don't let age get you down. White haris or not, you can still be a lover.”

Themes: Old Age Sex

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“Have all the nations of the world since his time produced one dramatist worthy to hand Euripides his slippers?”

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“Mystically pure, in his poetry Hafiz has inscribed undeniable truth indelibly… This is a madness I know—Hafiz has no peer.”

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“Science and art belong to the whole world and before them vanish the barriers of nationality.”

from Maxims

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“Progress has not followed a straight ascending line, but a spiral with rhythms of progress and retrogression, of evolution and dissolution.”

from Maxims

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“Everything in the world may be endured except continual prosperity”

from Maxims

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“The decline of literature indicates the decline of a nation.”

from Maxims

Themes: Books

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

Themes: Slavery Delusion

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“To a new truth, there is nothing more hurtful than an old error.”

Themes: Obstacles

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“It is much easier to recognize error than to find truth; error is superficial and may be corrected; truth lies hidden in the depths.”

Themes: Truth

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“There is nothing more odious than the majority. It consists of a few powerful men who lead the way; of accommodating rascals and submissive weaklings; and of a mass of men who trot after them without in the least knowing their own minds.”

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“Let us not dream that reason can ever be popular. Passions and emotions may be made popular, but reason remains ever the property of the few.”

Themes: Reason Dream

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“The Eternal Feminine ever draws us upward.”

from Faust, part II

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“National hatred is something peculiar. You will always find it strongest and most violent where there is the lowest degree of culture.”

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“If a man thinks about his physical or moral state, he usually discover that he is ill.”

Themes: Health Medicine

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“Try novelties for salesman's bait, novelty wins everyone.”

from Faust, part I

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“He who has Science and has Art, Religion too has he;
Who has not Science, has not Art, Let him religious be!”

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“May I not be like those who spend their days complaining about headaches and their nights drinking the wine which gives them their headaches!”

Themes: Complaint

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“Spirit and matter, soul and body, thought and extension are necessary twin ingredients of the universe, and will be forever with equal rights. Those who do not grasp this and rise to the vision might as well waste away their days with the world's idle gossip.”

from Letter to Knebel, 1812

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“Everything transient is but a symbol.”

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“By eternal, ironclad
Great laws,
Must we all,
Of our existence,
Fulfill the round.”

from Das Göttliche, 1783 (The Divine)

Themes: Karma

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“Contemplating a library, one feels as though in the presence of vast capital silently yielding incalculable interest.”

Themes: Books

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“But man alone can do the impossible;
He distinguishes, chooses, and judges;
He can to the fleeting moment
Give duration”

from Das Göttliche, 1783

Themes: Reason

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“It is our duty to tell others no more than they are able to receive. Man grasps only what is to his measure.”

Themes: Inscrutable

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“In politics, as on a sickbed, men toss from side to side in the hope of lying more comfortably.”

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“No blessing is equal to the blessings of work. To know and practice a craft lends greater culture than half-knowledge, a hundred times over.”

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“It still saddens me that Lord Byron, who showed such impatience with the fickle public, wasn't aware of how well the Germans can understand him and how highly they esteem him. With us the moral and political tittle-tattle of the day falls away, leaving the man and the talent standing alone in all their brilliance.

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“From desire I plunge to its fulfillment, where I long once more for desire.”

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“Now let me dare to open wide the gate/Past which men's steps have ever flinching trod.”

Themes: Openness Ambition

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“No wise combatant underestimates their antagonist.”

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“Everything which is properly business we must keep carefully separate from life. Business requires earnestness and method; life must have a freer handling.”

from Elective Affinities (1809)

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“As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.”

from Faust, part I

Themes: Confidence

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“It's useless to complain about your enemies; if your whole being is a standing reproach to them, they can never become your friends.”

from Westoóstlicher Divan

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“Energy is the basis of everything. Every Jew, no matter how insignificant, is engaged in some decisive and immediate pursuit of a goal… It is the most perpetual people of the earth…”

Themes: Judaism

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“The happy do not believe in miracles.”

from Herman and Dorothea

Themes: Magic

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“He only earns his freedom and existence who daily conquers them anew.”

from Faust, part II

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“He who is plenteously provided for from within, needs but little from without.”

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“Beauty is a primeval phenomenon, which 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.”

Themes: Beauty

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“One should—every day at least—hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if possible, speak a few reasonable words.”

from Wilhelm Meisters Lehrjahre (1796)

Themes: Appreciation

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“He who moves not forward, goes backward.”

from Herman and Dorothea (1797)

Themes: Carpe diem

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“One never realizes fully that a language is originally only symbolical, using only pictures, and that it never expresses the objects directly but only reflects.”

Themes: Moon

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Quotes about Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von (8 quotes)

“To Musset, it was only after Napoleon that Byron and Goethe were the greatest geniuses of the century... To Carlyle, Goethe and Byron were antitheses; to Alfred de Musset, they were accomplices in the wicked work of instilling the poisoning of melancholy into the cheerful Gallic soul.”

Bertrand Russell 1872 – 1970 CE
“20th century Voltaire”
from History of Western Philosophy

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“Especially in his twenties—before he was consumed by opium—Coleridge's greatest addiction was the natural world of mountains and valleys, woods and seas... Writer's such as Coleridge and Goethe not only created poetry our of the awe-inspiring sublime in nature; both of them also had a strong scientific bent.”

Roman Krznaric c. 1964
Practical, popular, modern philosopher

from Carpe Diem Regained (2017)

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“that lavishly generous confidence in the worthiness of average human nature to be told all truth, the lack of which in Goethe made him an inspiration to the few but a cold riddle to the many.”

William James 1842 – 1910 CE
"Father of American psychology”
from Collected Essays, 1920

Themes: Confidence

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“Old age did not put an end to Goethe’s career as a lover: in 1821, when he was seventy-two, the widowed Goethe fell in love with a seventeen-year-old girl he met at a spa resort, and even proposed marriage. (She sensibly declined.)... At the age of eighty-two, dying of a painful heart condition, Goethe’s last words were 'More light!'... it is Goethe’s last perfect metaphor: one final plea for illumination, from a writer who had spent all his life seeking it.”

Adam Kirsch 1976 CE –
from The New Yorker

Themes: Old Age

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“Every male copulating with a woman returns to his origins in the womb. Goethe postponed intercourse until he was forty. This must be related to his self-imposed distance from his forceful mother.”

Camille Paglia 1947 CE –
Fearless and insightful status quo critic
from Sexual Personae (1990)

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“the same Goethe who held that, in the end, personality is everything, warned us that limits are everywhere.”

Will Durant 1885 – 1981 CE
Philosophy apostle and popularizer of history's lessons
from Fallen Leaves

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“As in science, so in philosophy he was a lover, not a professor... he was endlessly concerned with the interpretation of nature and the meaning of life. As he became older, he grew through science and poetry into a sage. He found illumination about the whole from every object, moment, and part”

Will (and Ariel) Durant 1885 – 1981 CE
from Rousseau and Revolution

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“Goethe became, in my eyes, a prophet... At last I had found confirmation that there were or had been people who saw evil and its universal power and—more important—the role it played in delivering man from darkness and suffering... My godfather and authority was the great Goethe himself... But I could not forgive him... I was deeply sorry that Goethe too had fallen for those cunning devices by which evil is rendered innocuous.”

Carl Jung 1875 – 1961 CE
Insightful shamanistic scientist
from Memories, Dreams, Reflections

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