Absolutely nothing is so important for a nation's culture as its language.— Wilhelm von Humboldt
The most attractive Wilhelm von Humboldt quotes that are easy to memorize and remember
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.
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.
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.
Whatever does not spring from a man's free choice, or is only the result of instruction and guidance, does not enter into his very being, but still remains alien to his true nature; he does not perform it with truly human energies, but merely with mechanical exactness.
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.
If the mind loves solitude, it has thereby acquired a loftier character, and it becomes still more noble when the taste is indulged in.
Language makes infinite use of finite media.
To judge a man means nothing more than to ask: What content does he give to the form of humanity? What concept should we have of humanity if he were its only representative?
Samskrit is the unsurpassed zenith in the whole development of languages yet known to us.
Natural objects themselves, even when they make no claim to beauty, excite the feelings, and occupy the imagination. Nature pleases, attracts, delights, merely because it is nature. We recognize in it an Infinite Power.
Life, in all ranks and situations, is an outward occupation, an actual and active work.
The sea has been called deceitful and treacherous, but there lies in this trait only the character of a great natural power, which, to speak according to our own feelings, renews its strength, and, without reference to joy or sorrow, follows eternal laws which are imposed by a higher Power.
Coercion may prevent many transgressions;
but it robs even actions which are legal of a part of their beauty. Freedom may lead to many transgressions, but it lends even to vices a less ignoble form.
It is a characteristic of old age to find the progress of time accelerated.
The less one accomplishes in a given time, the shorter does the retrospect appear.
The finest fruit earth holds up to its Maker is a finished man.
War seems to be one of the most salutary phenomena for the culture of human nature; and it is not without regret that I see it disappearing more and more from the scene.
The very variety arising from the union of numbers of individuals is the highest good which social life can confer, and this variety is undoubtedly lost in proportion to the degree of State interference.
The sorrow which calls for help and comfort is not the greatest, nor does it come from the depths of the heart.
Real inward devotion knows no prayer but that arising from the depths of its own feelings.
However benevolent may be the intentions of Providence, they do not always advance the happiness of the individual. Providence has always higher ends in view, and works in a pre-eminent degree on the inner feelings and disposition.
The State is not in itself an end, but is only a means towards human development.
Even by means of our sorrows we belong to the eternal plan.
I lay very little stress either upon asking or giving advice.
Generally speaking, they who ask advice know what they wish to do, and remain firm to their intentions. A man may allow himself to be enlightened on various points, even upon matters of expediency and duty; but, after all, he must determine his course of action, for himself.
True resignation, which always brings with it the confidence that unchangeable goodness will make even the disappointment of our hopes, and the contradictions of life, conducive to some benefit, casts a grave but tranquil light over the prospect of even a toilsome and troubled life.
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.
When we are not too anxious about happiness and unhappiness, but devote ourselves to the strict and unsparing performance of duty, then happiness comes of itself - nay, even springs from the midst of a life of troubles and anxieties and privations.
Possession, it is true, crowns exertion with rest;
but it is only in the illusions of fancy that it has power to charm us.
Faith can be interested in results only, for a truth once recognized as such puts an end to the believer's thinking.
Happiness is so nonsynonymous with joy or pleasure that it is not infrequently sought and felt in grief and deprivation.
How a person masters his or her fate is more important than what that fate is.
Man is more disposed to domination than freedom;
and a structure of dominion not only gladdens the eye of the master who rears and protects it, but even its servants are uplifted by the thought that they are members of a whole, which rises high above the life and strength of single generations.
Only what we have wrought into our character during life can we take with us.
If we glance at the most important revolutions in history, we see at once that the greatest number of these originated in the periodical revolutions on the human mind.
All political arrangements, in that they have to bring a variety of widely-discordant interests into unity and harmony, necessarily occasion manifold collisions. From these collisions spring misproportions between men's desires and their powers; and from these, transgressions. The more active the State is, the greater is the number of these.
One must not consider a language as a product dead, and formed but once;
it is an animate being, and ever creative. Human thought elaborates itself with the progress of intelligence; and of this thought language is a manifestation. An idiom cannot therefore remain stationary; it walks, it develops, it grows up, it fortifies itself, it becomes old, and it reaches decrepitude.
Fancy brings us as many vain hopes as idle fears.
No matter how good or great a man may be, there is yet a better and a greater man within him.
We cannot assume the injustice of any actions which only create offense, and especially as regards religion and morals. He who utters or does anything to wound the conscience and moral sense of others, may indeed act immorally; but, so long as he is not guilty of being importunate, he violates no right.
The more a man acts on his own, the more he develops himself.
In large associations he is too prone to become merely an instrument.
Even sleep is characteristic. How beautiful are children in their lovely innocence! how angel-like their blooming features! and how painful and anxious is the sleep of the guilty!
If it were possible to make an accurate calculation of the evils which police regulations occasion, and of those which they prevent, the number of the former would, in all cases, exceed that of the latter.
Wherever the citizen becomes indifferent to his fellows, so will the husband be to his wife, and the father of a family toward the members of his household.
The price of apparent happiness and enjoyment is the neglect of the spontaneous active energies of the acting members.
When we ... devote ourselves to the strict and unsparing performance of duty, ihen happiness comes of itself.
All situations in which the interrelationships between extremes are involved are the most interesting and instructive.
It is continued temperance which sustains the body for the longest period of time, and which most surely preserves it free from sickness.
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.
Joy mingled with sadness, even with grief, is the deepest human joy.
It winds itself about the soul with indescribable sweetness, with a dim but unerring sense for what will some day be born of it.
The state should avoid all solicitude for the positive welfare of its citizens, and not proceed a step further than is necessary for their mutual security and their protection against foreign enemies. It should impose restrictions on freedom for no other purpose.