Quotations by Lichtenberg, Georg C.

One’s first step in wisdom is to question everything — and one’s last is to come to terms with everything.

Georg C. Lichtenberg (1742-1799) German physicist, writer
(Attributed)
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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Never undertake anything for which you wouldn’t have the courage to ask the blessing of heaven.

Georg C. Lichtenberg (1742-1799) German physicist, writer
(Attributed)
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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Act as the wisest have acted before you, and do not commence your exercises in philosophy in those regions where an error can deliver you over to the executioner.

Georg C. Lichtenberg (1742-1799) German physicist, writer
Aphorisms, Notebook C, #16 [142] (1772-73) [tr. Hollingdale (1960)]
    (Source)


Alternate translation: "Act as the wisest before you have acted, and do not begin your philosophical exercises where an error can deliver you into the hands of the executioner." [tr. Tester (2012)]
 
Added on 6-Jul-21 | Last updated 6-Jul-21
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To do exactly the opposite of something is also a form of imitation, namely an imitation of its opposite.

Georg C. Lichtenberg (1742-1799) German physicist, writer
Aphorisms, Notebook D, #96 [p. 604] (1773-75) [tr. Tester (2012)]
    (Source)


Alternate translations:
  • "To do just the opposite is also a form of imitation." [tr. Mautner and Hatfield]
  • "To do the opposite of something is also a form of imitation, namely an imitation of its opposite." [tr. Hollingdale (1990)]
 
Added on 9-Feb-17 | Last updated 6-Jul-21
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A book is a mirror: if an ape looks into it, an apostle is unlikely to look out.

Georg C. Lichtenberg (1742-1799) German physicist, writer
Aphorisms, Notebook F, #17 (1776-79) [tr. Hollingdale (1990)]
    (Source)


This is nearly mirrored by Notebook E, # 49 (1775-76), "A book is a mirror: if an ape looks into it an apostle is hardly likely to look out." Alternate translations:
  • "A book is a mirror: when a monkey looks in, no apostle can look out." [tr. Mautner and Hatfield]
  • "A book is a mirror: if an ape looks into it, an apostle is unlikely to look out." [tr. Tester (2012)]
 
Added on 6-Jan-09 | Last updated 6-Jul-21
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I have always found that so-called bad people gain in one’s estimation when one gets to know them better, and good people decline.

Georg C. Lichtenberg (1742-1799) German physicist, writer
Aphorisms, Notebook G, #25 (1779-83) [tr. Hollingdale (1990)]
    (Source)
 
Added on 14-Jan-10 | Last updated 6-Jul-21
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A golden rule: We must judge men, not by their opinions, but by what those opinions make of them.

Georg C. Lichtenberg (1742-1799) German physicist, writer
Aphorisms, Notebook J, #201, p. 966 (1789-93) [tr. Hollingdale (1990)]
    (Source)


Alternate translations:
  • "A golden rule: we must judge people, not by their opinions, but by what these opinions make of them." [tr. Tester (2012)]
  • It is a golden rule that one should not judge people according to their opinions, but according to what these opinions make of them.
  • "It is a golden rule not to judge men by their opinions but rather by what their opinions make of them."
  • "One must judge men not by their opinions, but by what their opinions have made of them."
  • "Don't judge a man by his opinions, but what his opinions have made of him."
 
Added on 30-May-17 | Last updated 7-Jul-21
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I have found throughout my life that, if all else fails, the character of a man can be recognized by nothing so surely as by a jest which he takes badly.

Georg C. Lichtenberg (1742-1799) German physicist, writer
Aphorisms, Notebook K, #46 (1793-96) [tr. Hollingdale (1990)]
    (Source)


Alternate translation: "A person reveals his character by nothing so clearly as the joke he resents."
 
Added on 9-May-17 | Last updated 7-Jul-21
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With most people, disbelief in one thing is founded on blind belief in another.

Georg C. Lichtenberg (1742-1799) German physicist, writer
Aphorisms, Notebook L, #81 [p. 674] (1796-99) [tr. Tester (2012)]
    (Source)


Alternate translations:
  • "With most people, unbelief in one thing is founded upon blind belief in another."
  • "With most people disbelief in a thing is founded on a blind belief in some other thing." [tr. Hollingdale (1990)]
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 6-Jul-21
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Is it not strange that men are so keen to fight for a religion and so unkeen to live according to its precepts?

Georg C. Lichtenberg (1742-1799) German physicist, writer
Aphorisms, Notebook L, #85, p. 705 (1796-99) [tr. Hollingdale (1990)
    (Source)


Alternate translation: "Is it not peculiar that men are so glad to fight for religion and so reluctant to live according to its precepts?" [tr. Tester (2012)]
 
Added on 22-Nov-13 | Last updated 7-Jul-21
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Before we blame, we should first see if we can’t excuse.

Georg C. Lichtenberg (1742-1799) German physicist, writer
Nachtrag zu den moralischen Bemerkungen
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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