Albert Schweitzer quotes

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Albert Schweitzer

Birthdate: 14. January 1875
Date of death: 4. September 1965
Other names: Albert Schweizer

Albert Schweitzer, OM was a French-German theologian, organist, writer, humanitarian, philosopher, and physician. A Lutheran, Schweitzer challenged both the secular view of Jesus as depicted by historical-critical methodology current at this time, as well as the traditional Christian view. His contributions to the interpretation of Pauline Christianity concern the role of Paul's mysticism of “being in Christ” as primary and the doctrine of Justification by Faith as secondary.

He received the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize for his philosophy of “Reverence for Life”, expressed in many ways, but most famously in founding and sustaining the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Lambaréné, now in Gabon, west central Africa . As a music scholar and organist, he studied the music of German composer Johann Sebastian Bach and influenced the Organ Reform Movement .

Works

„Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.“

—  Albert Schweitzer

Variant: Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.

Citát „The tragedy of life is what dies inside a man while he lives.“

„The tragedy of life is what dies inside a man while he lives.“

—  Albert Schweitzer

Variant: The tragedy in a man’s life is what dies inside of him while he lives.

„There are two means of refuge from the misery of life — music and cats.“

—  Albert Schweitzer

Variant: There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.

„Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace.“

—  Albert Schweitzer

Variant translation: Until he extends his circle of compassion to include all living things, man will not himself find peace.
Variant translation: Until we extend the circle of compassion to all living things, we will not ourselves find peace.
Kulturphilosophie (1923)

„Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.“

—  Albert Schweitzer

Variant: Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.

„For in world- and life-affirmation and in ethics I carry out the will of the universal will-to-live which reveals itself in me. I live my life in God, in the mysterious divine personality which I do not know as such in the world, but only experience as mysterious Will within myself.
Rational thinking which is free from assumptions ends therefore in mysticism.“

—  Albert Schweitzer

Kulturphilosophie (1923), Vol. 2 : Civilization and Ethics
Context: Affirmation of the world, which means affirmation of the will-to-live that manifests itself around me, is only possible if I devote myself to other life. From an inner necessity, I exert myself in producing values and practising ethics in the world and on the world even though I do not understand the meaning of the world. For in world- and life-affirmation and in ethics I carry out the will of the universal will-to-live which reveals itself in me. I live my life in God, in the mysterious divine personality which I do not know as such in the world, but only experience as mysterious Will within myself.
Rational thinking which is free from assumptions ends therefore in mysticism. To relate oneself in the spirit of reverence for life to the multiform manifestations of the will-to-live which together constitute the world is ethical mysticism. All profound world-view is mysticism, the essence of which is just this: that out of my unsophisticated and naïve existence in the world there comes, as a result of thought about self and the world, spiritual self-devotion to the mysterious infinite Will which is continuously manifested in the universe.

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„My life carries its own meaning in itself. This meaning lies in my living out the highest idea which shows itself in my will-to-live, the idea of reverence for life. With that for a starting-point I give value to my own life and to all the will-to-live which surrounds me, I persevere in activity, and I produce values.“

—  Albert Schweitzer

Kulturphilosophie (1923), Vol. 2 : Civilization and Ethics
Context: Reverence for life, veneratio vitæ, is the most direct and at the same time the profoundest achievement of my will-to-live.
In reverence for life my knowledge passes into experience. The simple world- and life-affirmation which is within me just because I am will-to-live has, therefore, no need to enter into controversy with itself, if my will-to-live learns to think and yet does not understand the meaning of the world. In spite of the negative results of knowledge, I have to hold fast to world- and life-affirmation and deepen it. My life carries its own meaning in itself. This meaning lies in my living out the highest idea which shows itself in my will-to-live, the idea of reverence for life. With that for a starting-point I give value to my own life and to all the will-to-live which surrounds me, I persevere in activity, and I produce values.

„It belongs to the nature of mysticism that it is timeless and appeals to no other authority than that of the truth which it carries within it.“

—  Albert Schweitzer

Source: Indian Thought And Its Development (1936), Ch. XVI : Looking Backward and Forward, p. 256
Context: We await the Indian thinker who will expound to us the mysticism of spiritual union with infinite Being as it is in itself, not as it is set down in the ancient texts or according to the meaning read into them by their interpreters.
It belongs to the nature of mysticism that it is timeless and appeals to no other authority than that of the truth which it carries within it.
The pathway from imperfect to perfect recognised truth leads through the valley of reality.

„It does not matter so much what you do. What matters is whether your soul is harmed by what you do.“

—  Albert Schweitzer

Reverence for Life (1969)
Context: I do not want to frighten you by telling you about the temptations life will bring. Anyone who is healthy in spirit will overcome them. But there is something I want you to realize. It does not matter so much what you do. What matters is whether your soul is harmed by what you do. If your soul is harmed, something irreparable happens, the extent of which you won't realize until it will be too late.

„Affirmation of the world, which means affirmation of the will-to-live that manifests itself around me, is only possible if I devote myself to other life.“

—  Albert Schweitzer

Kulturphilosophie (1923), Vol. 2 : Civilization and Ethics
Context: Affirmation of the world, which means affirmation of the will-to-live that manifests itself around me, is only possible if I devote myself to other life. From an inner necessity, I exert myself in producing values and practising ethics in the world and on the world even though I do not understand the meaning of the world. For in world- and life-affirmation and in ethics I carry out the will of the universal will-to-live which reveals itself in me. I live my life in God, in the mysterious divine personality which I do not know as such in the world, but only experience as mysterious Will within myself.
Rational thinking which is free from assumptions ends therefore in mysticism. To relate oneself in the spirit of reverence for life to the multiform manifestations of the will-to-live which together constitute the world is ethical mysticism. All profound world-view is mysticism, the essence of which is just this: that out of my unsophisticated and naïve existence in the world there comes, as a result of thought about self and the world, spiritual self-devotion to the mysterious infinite Will which is continuously manifested in the universe.

„Every world-view which fails to start from resignation in regard to knowledge is artificial and a mere fabrication, for it rests upon an inadmissible interpretation of the universe.“

—  Albert Schweitzer

Kulturphilosophie (1923), Vol. 2 : Civilization and Ethics
Context: Resignation as to knowledge of the world is for me not an irretrievable plunge into a scepticism which leaves us to drift about in life like a derelict vessel. I see in it that effort of honesty which we must venture to make in order to arrive at the serviceable world-view which hovers within sight. Every world-view which fails to start from resignation in regard to knowledge is artificial and a mere fabrication, for it rests upon an inadmissible interpretation of the universe.

„Many a truth has lain unnoticed for a long time, ignored simply because no one perceived its potential for becoming reality.“

—  Albert Schweitzer

The Problem of Peace (1954)
Context: The only originality I claim is that for me this truth goes hand in hand with the intellectual certainty that the human spirit is capable of creating in our time a new mentality, an ethical mentality. Inspired by this certainty, I too proclaim this truth in the hope that my testimony may help to prevent its rejection as an admirable sentiment but a practical impossibility. Many a truth has lain unnoticed for a long time, ignored simply because no one perceived its potential for becoming reality.

„Ethics is in its unqualified form extended responsibility to everything that has life.“

—  Albert Schweitzer

Kulturphilosophie (1923), Vol. 2 : Civilization and Ethics
Context: It is the fate of every truth to be an object of ridicule when it is first acclaimed. It was once considered foolish to suppose that black men were really human beings and ought to be treated as such. What was once foolish has now become a recognized truth. Today it is considered as exaggeration to proclaim constant respect for every form of life as being the serious demand of a rational ethic. But the time is coming when people will be amazed that the human race existed so long before it recognized that thoughtless injury to life is incompatible with real ethics. Ethics is in its unqualified form extended responsibility to everything that has life.

„A man is really ethical only when he obeys the constraint laid on him to help all life which he is able to succor, and when he goes out of his way to avoid injuring anything living. He does not ask how far this or that life deserves sympathy as valuable in itself, nor how far it is capable of feeling. To him life as such is sacred. He shatters no ice crystal that sparkles in the sun, tears no leaf from its tree, breaks off no flower, and is careful not to crush any insect as he walks.“

—  Albert Schweitzer

Kulturphilosophie (1923), Vol. 2 : Civilization and Ethics
Context: A man is really ethical only when he obeys the constraint laid on him to help all life which he is able to succor, and when he goes out of his way to avoid injuring anything living. He does not ask how far this or that life deserves sympathy as valuable in itself, nor how far it is capable of feeling. To him life as such is sacred. He shatters no ice crystal that sparkles in the sun, tears no leaf from its tree, breaks off no flower, and is careful not to crush any insect as he walks. If he works by lamplight on a summer evening, he prefers to keep the window shut and to breathe stifling air, rather than to see insect after insect fall on his table with singed and sinking wings.
If he goes out in to the street after a rainstorm and sees a worm which has strayed there, he reflects that it will certainly dry up in the sunshine, if it does not quickly regain the damp soil into which it can creep, and so he helps it back from the deadly paving stones into the lush grass. Should he pass by an insect which has fallen into a pool, he spares the time to reach it a leaf or stalk on which it may clamber and save itself.

„Not less strong than the will to truth must be the will to sincerity.“

—  Albert Schweitzer

Reverence for Life (1969)
Context: Not less strong than the will to truth must be the will to sincerity. Only an age, which can show the courage of sincerity, can possess truth, which works as a spiritual force within it.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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