The world of reason is to be regarded as a great and immortal being, who ceaselessly works out what is necessary, and so makes himself lord also over what is accidental.

In the works of mankind, as in those of nature, it is really the motive which is chiefly worth attention.

Our plans and designs should be so perfect in truth and beauty, that in touching them the world could only mar.

We should thus have the advantage of setting right what is wrong, and restoring what is destroyed.

Love of truth shows itself in this, that a man knows how to find and value the good in everything.

Theory is in itself of no use, except in so far as it makes us believe in the connection of phenomena.

Thinking by means of analogies is not to be condemned. Analogy has this advantage, that it comes to no conclusion, and does not, in truth, aim at finality at all.

Induction, on the contrary, is fatal, for it sets up an object and keeps it in view, and, working on towards it, drags false and true with it in its train.

Every great idea is a tyrant when it first appears; hence the advantages which it produces change all too quickly into disadvantages.

It is possible, then, to defend and praise any institution that exists, if its beginnings are brought to remembrance, and it is shown that everything which was true of it at the beginning is true of it still.

Forethought is simple, afterthought manifold.

It is as certain as it is strange that truth and error come from one and the same source. Thus it is that we are often not at liberty to do violence to error, because at the same time we do violence to truth.

It used to happen, and still happens, to me to take no pleasure in a work of art at the first sight of it, because it is too much for me; but if I suspect any merit in it, I try to get at it; and then I never fail to make the most gratifying discoveries, to find new qualities in the work itself and new faculties in myself.

Real obscurantism is not to hinder the spread of what is true, clear, and useful, but to bring into vogue what is false.

One need only grow old to become gentler in one’s judgments. I see no fault committed which I could not have committed myself.

It is much easier to recognize error than to find truth; for error lies on the surface and may be overcome; but truth lies in the depths, and to search for it is not given to everyone.

Word and picture are correlatives which are continually in quest of each other, as is sufficiently evident in the case of metaphors and similes.

So from all time what was said or sung inwardly to the ear had to be presented equally to the eye. And so in childish days we see word and picture in continual balance; in the book of the law and in the way of salvation, in the Bible and in the spelling-book.

When something was spoken which could not be pictured, and something pictured which could not be spoken, all went well; but mistakes were often made, and a word was used instead of a picture; and thence arose those monsters of symbolical mysticism, which are doubly an evil.

Things that are mysterious are not yet miracles.

When I hear people speak of liberal ideas, it is always a wonder to me that men are so readily put off with empty verbiage.

An idea cannot be liberal; but it may be potent, vigorous, exclusive, in order to fulfil its mission of being productive.

Still less can a concept be liberal; for a concept has quite another mission.

Where, however, we must look for liberality, is in the sentiments; and the sentiments are the inner man as he lives and moves.

A man’s sentiments, however, are rarely liberal, because they proceed directly from him personally, and from his immediate relations and requirements.

Further we will not write, and let us apply this test to what we hear every day.

I went on troubling myself about general ideas until I learnt to understand the particular achievements of the best men.

Thoughts come back; beliefs persist; facts pass by never to return.

Of all peoples, the Greeks have dreamt the dream of life the best.

There is no limit to the increase of experience, but theories cannot become clearer and more complete in just the same sense.

The field of experience is the whole universe in all directions. Theory remains shut up within the limits of the human faculties.

Hence there is no way of looking at the world, but it recurs, and the curious thing happens, that with increased experience a limited theory may again come into favour.

It is always the same world which stands open to observation, which is continually being contemplated or guessed at; and it is always the same men who live in the true or in the false; more at their ease in the latter than in the former.

Truth is at variance with our natures, but not so error; and for a very simple reason.

Truth requires us to recognize ourselves as limited, but error flatters us with the belief that in one way or another we are subject to no bounds at all.

At all times it has not been the age, but individuals alone, who have worked for knowledge.

It was the age which put Socrates to death by poison, the age which burnt Huss. The ages have always remained alike.

That is true Symbolism, where the more particular represents the more general, not as a dream or shade, but as a vivid, instantaneous revelation of the Inscrutable.

The conflict of the old, the existing, the continuing, with development, improvement, and reform, is always the same.

Order of every kind turns at last to pedantry, and to get rid of the one, people destroy the other; and so it goes on for a while, until people perceive that order must be established anew.

Classicism and Romanticism; close corporations and freedom of trade; the maintenance of large estates and the division of the land, it is always the same conflict which ends by producing a new one.

The best policy of those in power would be so to moderate this conflict as to let it right itself without the destruction of either element.

But this has not been granted to men, and it seems not to be the will of God.

A great work limits us for the moment, because we feel it above our powers; and only in so far as we afterwards incorporate it with our culture, and make it part of our mind and heart, does it become a dear and worthy object.

To live in a great idea means to treat the impossible as though it were possible.

It is just the same with a strong character; and when an idea and a character meet, things arise which fill the world with wonder for thousands of years.

Friendship can only be bred in practice and be maintained by practice. Affection, nay, love itself, is no help at all to friendship.

True, active, productive friendship consists in keeping equal pace in life: in my friend approving my aims, while I approve his, and in thus moving forwards together steadfastly, however much our way of thought and life may vary.

If anyone meets us who owes us a debt of gratitude, it immediately crosses our mind.

How often can we meet some one to whom we owe gratitude, without thinking of it!

Of true religions there are only two: one of them recognizes and worships the Holy that without form or shape dwells in and around us; and the other recognizes and worships it in its fairest form. Everything that lies between these two is idolatry.

It should be our earnest endeavour to use words coinciding as closely as possible with what we feel, see, think, experience, imagine, and reason.

It is an endeavour which we cannot evade, and which is daily to be renewed.

Let every man examine himself, and he will find this a much harder task than he might suppose; for, unhappily, a man usually takes words as mere make-shifts; his knowledge and his thought are in most cases better than his method of expression.

False, irrelevant, and futile ideas may arise in ourselves and others, or find their way into us from without. Let us persist in the effort to remove them as far as we can, by plain and honest purpose.

The action of genius is in a way ubiquitous: towards general truths before experience, and towards particular truths after it.

Perfection is the measure of heaven, and the wish to be perfect the measure of man.

The senses do not deceive; it is the judgment that deceives.

The most important matters of feeling as of reason, of experience as of reflection, should be treated of only by word of mouth.

The spoken word at once dies if it is not kept alive by some other word following on it and suited to the hearer. Observe what happens in social converse.

If the word is not dead when it reaches the hearer, he murders it at once by a contradiction, a stipulation, a condition, a digression, an interruption, and all the thousand tricks of conversation.

With the written word the case is still worse. No one cares to read anything to which he is not already to some extent accustomed: he demands the known and the familiar under an altered form.

Still the written word has this advantage, that it lasts and can await the time when it is allowed to take effect.

The thinker makes a great mistake when he asks after cause and effect: they both together make up the indivisible phenomenon.

If a man would enter upon some course of knowledge, he must either be deceived or deceive himself, unless external necessity irresistibly determines him. Who would become a physician if, at one and the same time, he saw before him all the horrible sights that await him?

Literature is a fragment of fragments: the least of what happened and was spoken, has been written; and of the things that have been written, very few have been preserved.

And yet, with all the fragmentary nature of literature, we find thousand fold repetition; which shows how limited is man’s mind and destiny.

It is not language in itself which is correct or forcible or elegant, but the mind that is embodied in it; and so it is not for a man to determine whether he will give his calculations or speeches or poems the desired qualities: the question is whether Nature has given him the intellectual and moral qualities which fit him for the work, the intellectual power of observation and insight, the moral power of repelling the evil spirits that might hinder him from paying respect to truth.

An author can show no greater respect for his public than by never bringing it what it expects, but what he himself thinks right and proper in that stage of his own and others’ culture in which for the time he finds himself.

Subjective or so-called sentimental poetry has now been admitted to an equality with objective and descriptive. This was inevitable; because otherwise the whole of modern poetry would have to be discarded.

It is now obvious that when men of truly poetical genius appear, they will describe more of the particular feelings of the inner life than of the general facts of the great life of the world.

This has already taken place to such a degree that we have a poetry without figures of speech, which can by no means be refused all praise.

The sentimentality of the English is humorous and tender; of the French, popular and pathetic; of the Germans, naïve and realistic.

Mysticism is the scholastic of the heart, the dialectic of the feelings.

It is with books as with new acquaintances. At first we are highly delighted, if we find a general agreement, if we are pleasantly moved on any of the chief sides of our existence.

With a closer acquaintance differences come to light; and then reasonable conduct mainly consists in not shrinking back at once, as may happen in youth, but in keeping firm hold of the things in which we agree, and being quite clear about the things in which we differ, without on that account desiring any union.

In psychological reflection the greatest difficulty is this: that inner and outer must always be viewed in parallel lines, or, rather, interwoven. It is a continual systole and diastole, an inspiration and an expiration of the living soul. If this cannot be put into words, it should be carefully marked and noted.

My relations with Schiller rested on the decided tendency of both of us towards a single aim, and our common activity rested on the diversity of the means by which we endeavored to attain that aim.

Once when a slight difference was mentioned between us, of which I was reminded by a passage in a letter of his, I made the following reflections:

There is a great difference between a poet seeking the particular for the universal, and seeing the universal in the particular.

The one gives rise to Allegory, where the particular serves only as instance or example of the general; but the other is the true nature of Poetry, namely, the expression of the particular without any thought of, or reference to, the general.

If a man grasps the particular vividly, he also grasps the general, without being aware of it at the time; or he may make the discovery long afterwards.

Let us remember how great the ancients were; and especially how the Socratic school holds up to us the source and standard of all life and action, and bids us not indulge in empty speculation, but live and do.

That is the reason why the Bible will never lose its power; because, as long as the world lasts, no one can stand up and say: I grasp it as a whole and understand all the parts of it. But we say humbly: as a whole it is worthy of respect, and in all its parts it is applicable.

There is and will be much discussion as to the use and harm of circulating the Bible.

One thing is clear to me: mischief will result, as heretofore, by using it phantastically as a system of dogma; benefit, as heretofore, by a loving acceptance of its teachings.

I am convinced that the Bible will always be more beautiful the more it is understood; the more, that is, we see and observe that every word which we take in a general sense and apply specially to ourselves, had, under certain circumstances of time and place, a peculiar, special, and directly individual reference.

The incurable evil of religious controversy is that while one party wants to connect the highest interest of humanity with fables and phrases, the other tries to rest it on things that satisfy no one.

The classical is health; and the romantic, disease.

The Greeks, whose poetry and rhetoric was of a simple and positive character, express approval more often than disapproval.

With the Latin writers it is the contrary; and the more poetry and the arts of speech decay, the more will blame swell and praise shrink.

Shakespeare’s Henry IV.

If everything were lost that has ever been preserved to us of this kind of writing, the arts of poetry and rhetoric could be completely restored out of this one play.

Shakespeare’s finest dramas are wanting here and there in facility: they are something more than they should be, and for that very reason indicate the great poet.

Shakespeare is dangerous reading for budding talents: he compels them to reproduce him, and they fancy they are producing themselves.

Gemüth = Heart.

The translator must proceed until he reaches the untranslatable; and then only will he have an idea of the foreign nation and the foreign tongue.

There is no surer way of evading the world than by Art; and no surer way of uniting with it than by Art.

A noble philosopher spoke of architecture as frozen music; and it was inevitable that many people should shake their heads over his remark. We believe that no better repetition of this fine thought can be given than by calling architecture a speechless music.

Theories are usually the over-hasty efforts of an impatient understanding that would gladly be rid of phenomena, and so puts in their place pictures, notions, nay, often mere words.

We may surmise, or even see quite well, that such theories are make-shifts; but do not passion and party-spirit love a make-shift at all times? And rightly, too, because they stand in so much need of it.

The history of philosophy, of science, of religion, all shows that opinions spread in masses, but that that always comes to the front which is more easily grasped, that is to say, is most suited and agreeable to the human mind in its ordinary condition.

Nay, he who has practiced self-culture in the higher sense may always reckon upon meeting an adverse majority.

It is just for this that man stands so high, that what could not otherwise be brought to light should be brought to light in him. What is a musical string, and all its mechanical division, in comparison with the musician’s ear?

May we not also say, what are the elementary phenomena of nature itself compared with man, who must control and modify them all before he can in any way assimilate them to himself?

Everything that we call Invention or Discovery in the higher sense of the word is the serious exercise and activity of an original feeling for truth, which, after a long course of silent cultivation, suddenly flashes out into fruitful knowledge.

It is a revelation working from within on the outer world, and lets a man feel that he is made in the image of God. It is a synthesis of World and Mind, giving the most blessed assurance of the eternal harmony of things.

A man does not need to have seen or experienced everything himself. But if he is to commit himself to another’s experiences and his way of putting them, let him consider that he has to do with three things – the object in question and two subjects.

The supreme achievement would be to see that stating a fact is starting a theory.

If we look at the problems raised by Aristotle, we are astonished at his gift of observation. What wonderful eyes the Greeks had for many things!

Only they committed the mistake of being over-hasty, of passing straightway from the phenomenon to the explanation of it, and thereby produced certain theories that are quite inadequate. But this is the mistake of all times, and still made in our own day.

Hypotheses are cradle-songs by which the teacher lulls his scholars to sleep. The thoughtful and honest observer is always learning more and more of his limitations; he sees that the further knowledge spreads, the more numerous are the problems that make their appearance.

Our mistake is that we doubt what is certain and want to establish what is uncertain. My maxim in the study of Nature is this:hold fast what is certain and keep a watch on what is uncertain.

The further knowledge advances, the nearer we come to the unfathomable: the more we know how to use our knowledge, the better we see that the unfathomable is of no practical use.

The finest achievement for a man of thought is to have fathomed what may be fathomed, and quietly to revere the unfathomable.

The best metempsychosis is for us to appear again in others.

It is always our eyes alone, our way of looking at things. Nature alone knows what she means now, and what she had meant in the past.