§ 94. But why should every individual not have been present more than once in this world?
§ 95. Is this hypothesis so ridiculous just because it is the oldest one? Because the human understanding hit up on it at once, before it was distracted and weakened by the sophistry of the schools?
§ 98. Why should I not come back as often as I am able to acquire new knowledge and new accomplishments? Do I take away so much on one occasion that it may not be worth the trouble coming back?
§ 100. Or am I not to return because too much time would be lost in so doing? — Lost? — And what exactly do I have to lose? Is not the whole of eternity mine?

[§ 94. Aber warum könnte jeder einzelne Mensch auch nicht mehr als einmal auf dieser Welt vorhanden gewesen seyn?
§ 95. Ist diese Hypothese darum so lächerlich, weil sie die älteste ist? weil der menschliche Verstand, ehe ihn die Sophisterey der Schule zerstreut und geschwächt hatte, sogleich darauf verfiel?
§ 98. Warum sollte ich nicht so oft wiederkommen, als ich neue Kenntnisse, neue Fertigkeiten zu erlangen geschickt bin? Bringe ich auf Einmal so viel weg, daß es der Mühe wieder zu kommen etwa nicht lohnet?
§ 100. Oder, weil so zu viel Zeit für mich verloren gehen würde?—Verloren? —Und was habe ich denn zu versäumen? Ist nicht die ganze Ewigkeit mein?]

Gotthold Lessing (1729-1781) German playwright, philosopher, dramaturg, writer
The Education of the Human Race [Die Erziehung des Menschengeschlechts] (1780)

(Source (German)). Alternate translations:

§ 94. But why should not every individual man have existed more than once upon this World?
§ 95. Is this hypothesis so laughable merely because it is the oldest? Because the human understanding, before the sophistries of the Schools had dissipated and debilitated it, lighted upon it at once?
§ 98. Why should I not come back as often as I am capable of acquiring fresh knowledge, fresh expertness? Do I bring away so much from once, that there is nothing to repay the trouble of coming back?
§ 100. Or is it a reason against the hypothesis that so much time would have been lost to me? Lost? -- And how much then should I miss? -- Is not a whole Eternity mine?
[tr. Robertson (1862)]

§ 94. But why could not each individual man Have been existent on this earth more than once?
§ 95. Is this hypothesis therefore so absurd because it is the oldest, because the human understanding, ere enfeebled and scattered by sophistry, immediately hit upon it?
§ 98. Why may I not return as often as I am fit to acquire new knowledge, new skill? Do I bring away so much at once that there is not wherewith to recompense the burden of return?
§ 100. Or is it because too much time would thus for me be lost? Lost? And what have I to lose? Is not mine a whole eternity?
[tr. Haney (1908)]

Added on 2-Jul-24 | Last updated 2-Jul-24
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