Wilhelm von Humboldt, fully Friedrich Wilhelm Christian Karl Ferdinand von Humboldt

Wilhelm von
Humboldt, fully Friedrich Wilhelm Christian Karl Ferdinand von Humboldt
1767
1835

Prussian Philosopher, Government Functionary, Diplomat and Founder of the University of Berlin

Author Quotes

Every man, however good he may be, has a yet better man dwelling in him, which is properly himself, but to whom nevertheless he is often unfaithful. It is to this interior and less mutable being that we should attach ourselves, not to be changeable, every-day man.

If the mind loves solitude, it has thereby acquired a loftier character, and it becomes still more noble when the taste is indulged in.

Only what we have wrought into our character during life can we take away with us.

The sorrow which calls for help and comfort is not the greatest, nor does it come from the depths of the heart.

Women are in this respect more fortunate than men, that most of their employments are of such a nature that they can at the same time be thinking of quite different things.

Faith can be interested in results only, for a truth once recognized as such puts an end to the believer's thinking.

If we glance at the most important revolutions in history, we are at no loss to perceive that the greatest number of these originated in the periodical revolutions of the human mind.

Possession, it is true, crowns exertion with rest; but it is only in the illusions of fancy that it has power to charm us.

The sum of the knowable, that soil which the human spirit must till, lies between all the languages and independent of them, at their center. But man cannot approach this purely objective realm other than through his own modes of cognition and feeling, in other words: subjectively. Just where study and research touch the highest and deepest point, just there does the mechanical, logical use of reason - whatever in us can most easily be separated from our uniqueness as individual human beings - find itself at the end of its rope. From here on we need a process of inner perception and creation. And all that we can plainly know about this is its result, namely, that objective truth always rises from the entire energy of subjective individuality.

Work, according to my feeling, is as much of a necessity to man as eating and sleeping. Even those who do nothing which to a sensible man can be called work, still imagine that they are doing something. The world possesses not a man who is an idler in his own eyes.

Fancy brings us as many vain hopes as idle fears.

If we reason that we want happiness for others, not for ourselves, then we ought justly to be suspected of failing to recognize human nature for what it is and of wishing to turn men into machines.

Prayer is intended to increase the devotion of the individual, but if the individual himself prays he requires no formula; he pours himself forth much more naturally in self-chosen and connected thoughts before God, and scarcely requires words at all. Real inward devotion knows no prayer but that arising from the depths of its own feelings.

The things of the world are ever rising and falling, and in perpetual change; and this change must be according to the will of God, as He has bestowed upon man neither the wisdom nor the power to enable him to check it. The great lesson in these things is, that man must strengthen himself doubly at such times to fulfill his duty and to do what is right, and must seek his happiness and inward peace from objects which cannot be taken away from him.

For even if we know very little that is certain about spirit or soul, the true nature of the body, of materiality, is totally unknown and incomprehensible to us.

If we would indicate an idea which, throughout the whole course of history, has ever more and more widely extended its empire, or which, more than any other, testifies to the much-contested and still more decidedly misunderstood perfectibility of the whole human race, it is that of establishing our common humanity — of striving to remove the barriers which prejudice and limited views of every kind have erected among men, and to treat all mankind, without reference to religion, nation, or color, as one fraternity, one great community, fitted for the attainment of one object, the unrestrained development of the physical powers. This is the ultimate and highest aim of society.

Providence certainly does not favor just certain individuals, but the deep wisdom of its counsel, instruction and ennoblement extends to all.

The true end of Man, or that which is prescribed by the eternal and immutable dictates of reason, and not suggested by vague and transient desires, is the highest and most harmonious development of his powers to a complete and consistent whole.

Freedom is but the possibility of a various and indefinite activity; while government, or the exercise of dominion, is a single, yet real activity. The longing for freedom, therefore, is at first only too frequently suggested by the deep-felt consciousness of its absence.

In order to bring about the transition from the condition of the present to another newly resolved on, every reform should be allowed to proceed as much as possible from men's minds and thoughts.

Real inward devotion knows no prayer but that arising from the depths of its own feelings.

To behold, is not necessary to observe, and the power of comparing and combining is only to be obtained by education. It is much to be regretted that habits of exact observation are not cultivated in our schools; to this deficiency may be traced much of the fallacious reasoning, the false philosophy which prevails.

Governmental regulations all carry coercion to some degree, and even where they don't, they habituate man to expect teaching, guidance and help outside himself, instead of formulating his own.

In the moral world there is nothing impossible if we can bring a thorough will to it. Man can do everything with himself, but he must not attempt to do too much with others.

Results are nothing; the energies which produce them and which again spring from them are everything.

Author Picture
First Name
Wilhelm von
Last Name
Humboldt, fully Friedrich Wilhelm Christian Karl Ferdinand von Humboldt
Birth Date
1767
Death Date
1835
Bio

Prussian Philosopher, Government Functionary, Diplomat and Founder of the University of Berlin