Gotthold Ephraim Lessing quotes

Gotthold Ephraim Lessing photo
18   1

Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

Birthdate: 22. January 1729
Date of death: 15. February 1781
Other names: Gotthold E. Lessing

Gotthold Ephraim Lessing was a German writer, philosopher, dramatist, publicist and art critic, and an outstanding representative of the Enlightenment era. His plays and theoretical writings substantially influenced the development of German literature. He is widely considered by theatre historians to be the first dramaturg in his role at Abel Seyler's Hamburg National Theatre. Wikipedia

Works

Emilia Galotti
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

„Possession makes one passive, indolent, and proud.“

—  Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

Anti-Goeze (1778), as quoted in God Is Not Great (2007), by Christopher Hitchens , Ch. 19
Context: The true value of a man is not determined by his possession, supposed or real, of Truth, but rather by his sincere exertion to get to the Truth. It is not possession of the Truth, but rather the pursuit of Truth by which he extends his powers and in which his ever-growing perfectibility is to be found. Possession makes one passive, indolent, and proud. If God were to hold all Truth concealed in his right hand, and in his left only the steady and diligent drive for Truth, albeit with the proviso that I would always and forever err in the process, and offer me the choice, I would with all humility take the left hand, and say: Father, I will take this one—the pure Truth is for You alone.

„The true value of a man is not determined by his possession, supposed or real, of Truth, but rather by his sincere exertion to get to the Truth.“

—  Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

Anti-Goeze (1778), as quoted in God Is Not Great (2007), by Christopher Hitchens , Ch. 19
Context: The true value of a man is not determined by his possession, supposed or real, of Truth, but rather by his sincere exertion to get to the Truth. It is not possession of the Truth, but rather the pursuit of Truth by which he extends his powers and in which his ever-growing perfectibility is to be found. Possession makes one passive, indolent, and proud. If God were to hold all Truth concealed in his right hand, and in his left only the steady and diligent drive for Truth, albeit with the proviso that I would always and forever err in the process, and offer me the choice, I would with all humility take the left hand, and say: Father, I will take this one—the pure Truth is for You alone.

„Trust no friend without faults, and love a maiden, but no angel.“

—  Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

As quoted in Dictionary of Quotations from Ancient and Modern English and Foreign Sources (1899) by James Wood, p. 499

„What is a hero without love for mankind?“

—  Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

Was ist ein Held ohne Menschenliebe?
Philotas http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext05/8phts10.txt (1759), Act 1, Scene 7

„To look forward to pleasure is also a pleasure.“

—  Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

Und ein Vergnügen erwarten, ist auch ein Vergnügen.
Minna von Barnhelm https://books.google.it/books?id=3XIHAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA84#v=onepage&q&f=false (1763), , Act IV, scene VI

„Man, whence is he?
Too bad to be the work of a god, too good for the work of chance.“

—  Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

Der Mensch, wo ist er her?
Zu schlecht für einen Gott, zu gut fürs Ungefähr.
As quoted in Dictionary of Quotations from Ancient and Modern English and Foreign Sources (1899) by James Wood, p. 61
Variant: Man — who is he? Too bad to be the work of God; Too good for the work of chance!

Help us translate English quotes

Discover interesting quotes and translate them.

Start translating

„The worst of superstitions is to think
One's own most bearable.“

—  Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

Nathan the Wise (1779), Act IV, scene II http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext03/natws10.txt
Variant translation: The worst superstition is to consider our own tolerable.

„It is infinitely difficult to know when and where one should stop, and for all but one in thousands the goal of their thinking is the point at which they have become tired of thinking.“

—  Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

Es ist unendlich schwer, zu wissen, wenn und wo man bleiben soll, und Tausenden für einen ist das Ziel ihres Nachdenkens die Stelle, wo sie des Nachdenkens müde geworden.
Letter to Moses Mendelssohn, January 9, 1771

„It is the mark of great people to treat trifles as trifles and important matters as important.“

—  Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

Denn zu einem großen Manne gehört beides: Kleinigkeiten als Kleinigkeiten, und wichtige Dinge als wichtige Dinge zu behandeln.
Hamburgische Dramaturgie http://www.gutenberg.org/files/10055/10055-8.txt (1767 - 1769), Vierunddreißigstes Stück Den 25. August 1767

„Better counsel comes overnight.“

—  Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Emilia Galotti

Besserer Rat kommt über Nacht.
Emilia Galotti (1772), Act IV, scene III

„Precisely the way on which the species reaches its perfection, every individual human being (one earlier, one later) must have traversed, too.“

—  Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

Eben die Bahn, aus welcher das Geschlecht zu seiner Vollkommenheit gelangt, muß jeder einzelne Mensch (der früher, der später) erst durchlaufen haben.
The Education of Mankind, § 93

„Pearls mean tears.“

—  Gotthold Ephraim Lessing

Perlen bedeuten Tränen.
Emilia Galotti http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext05/7mlgl10.txt (1772), Act II, scene VIII

Similar authors

Denis Diderot photo
Denis Diderot105
French Enlightenment philosopher and encyclopædist
Voltaire photo
Voltaire166
French writer, historian, and philosopher
Immanuel Kant photo
Immanuel Kant199
German philosopher
Baltasar Gracián photo
Baltasar Gracián30
Spanish Jesuit and baroque prose writer and philosopher
Friedrich Schiller photo
Friedrich Schiller109
German poet, philosopher, historian, and playwright
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe photo
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe181
German writer, artist, and politician
Claude Adrien Helvétius photo
Claude Adrien Helvétius8
French philosopher
Jean de La Bruyère photo
Jean de La Bruyère65
17th-century French writer and philosopher
Jean Jacques Rousseau photo
Jean Jacques Rousseau91
Genevan philosopher
Gottfried Leibniz photo
Gottfried Leibniz29
German mathematician and philosopher
Today anniversaries
George Raymond Richard Martin photo
George Raymond Richard Martin34
American writer, screenwriter and television producer 1948
Sophia Loren photo
Sophia Loren32
Italian actress 1934
Annie Besant photo
Annie Besant85
British socialist, theosophist, women's rights activist, wr… 1847 - 1933
Upton Sinclair photo
Upton Sinclair50
American novelist, writer, journalist, political activist 1878 - 1968
Another 57 today anniversaries
Similar authors
Denis Diderot photo
Denis Diderot105
French Enlightenment philosopher and encyclopædist
Voltaire photo
Voltaire166
French writer, historian, and philosopher
Immanuel Kant photo
Immanuel Kant199
German philosopher
Baltasar Gracián photo
Baltasar Gracián30
Spanish Jesuit and baroque prose writer and philosopher
Friedrich Schiller photo
Friedrich Schiller109
German poet, philosopher, historian, and playwright