57 Notable Quotes By Georg Christoph Lichtenberg
Georg Christoph Lichtenberg was a celebrated German satirist, Anglophile and scientist. He is renowned for ‘Sudelbucher’, notebooks or Scrapbooks which were published posthumously. He became the first German scientist to hold a professorship specifically dedicated to experimental physics. He is also well-known for unearthing tree shaped electrical discharge patters which are now known as ‘Lichtenberg Figures’. Lichtenberg was one of the most sought-after and idolized man in contemporary European intellectual circles and also the first one who introduced apparatus for experiments in the lectures. He is also accredited for building a large electrophorus which used induction to generate electricity. Following is a compilation of thoughts and quotable quotes which have been excerpted from his work, experiments, scrapbooks, notebooks, writings, researches and life. Go through the quotations and sayings by Georg Christoph Lichtenberg.
Don't judge a man by his opinions, but what his opinions have made of him. The thoughts written on the walls of madhouses by their inmates might be worth publicizing. I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is that they must change if they are to get better. Nothing is more conductive to peace of mind than not having any opinions at all. A book is a mirror: if an ape looks into it an apostle is hardly likely to look out. The most dangerous of all falsehoods is a slightly distorted truth. A person reveals his character by nothing so clearly as the joke he resents. The highest level than can be reached by a mediocre but experienced mind is a talent for uncovering the weaknesses of those greater than itself. Man…who lives in three places – in the past, in the present, and in the future – can be unhappy if one of these three is worthless. Religion has even added a fourth – eternity. There are very many people who read simply to prevent themselves from thinking. To do just the opposite is also a form of imitation. When a book and a head collide and a hollow sound is heard, must it always have come from the book? Whenever he composes a critical review, I have been told, he gets an enormous erection. Everyone is a genius at least once a year. The real geniuses simply have their bright ideas closer together. Honest unaffected distrust of human abilities under all circumstances is the surest sign of strength of mind. There is no mistaking a good book when one meets it. It is like falling in love. It is almost impossible to carry the torch of truth through a crowd without singeing somebody's beard. I forget most of what I read, just as I do most of what I have eaten, but I know that both contribute no less to the conservation of my mind and my body on that account. One's first step in wisdom is to question everything - and one's last is to come to terms with everything. If countries were named after the words you first hear when you go there, England would have to be called "Damn It". Perhaps in time the so-called Dark Ages will be thought of as including our own. You believe I run after the strange because I do not know the beautiful; no, it is because you do not know the beautiful that I seek the strange. You can make a good living from soothsaying but not from truthsaying With most men, unbelief in one thing springs from blind belief in another. The man was such an intellectual he was of almost no use. I am confident of my ability to demonstrate that one can sometimes believe in something and yet not believe in it. Nothing is less fathomable than the systems that motivate our actions. Diogenes, filthily attired, paced across the splendid carpets in Plato's dwelling. Thus, said he, do I trample on the pride of Plato. Yes, Plato replied, but only with another kind of pride. A sure sign of a good book is that you like it more the older you get. Much reading has brought upon us a learned barbarism Some people come by the name of genius in the same way that certain insects come by the name of centipede -- not because they have a hundred feet, but because most people can't count above 14. To make clever people believe we are what we are not is in most instances harder than really to become what we want to seem to be. Just as there are polysyllabic words that say very little, so there are also monosyllabic words of infinite meaning. To make a vow is a greater sin than to break one. It is impossible to have bad taste, but many people have none at all. If we thought more for ourselves we would have very many more bad books and very many more good ones. The sure conviction that we could if we wanted to is the reason so many good minds are idle. There is something in our minds like sunshine and the weather, which is not under our control. When I write, the best things come to me from I know not where. Libraries can in general be too narrow or too wide for the soul. What I do not like about our definitions of genius is that there is in them nothing of the day of judgment, nothing of resounding through eternity and nothing of the footsteps of the Almighty. When they have discovered truth in nature they fling it into a book, where it is even worse hands. The excuses we make to ourselves when we want to do something are excellent material for soliloquies, for they are rarely made except when we are alone, and are very often made aloud. Prejudices are so to speak the mechanical instincts of men: through their prejudices they do without any effort many things they would find too difficult to think through to the point of resolving to do them. If you are going to build something in the air it is always better to build castles than houses of cards. I would give something to know for precisely whom the deeds were really done, of which it is publicly stated they were done 'for the Fatherland'. One might call habit a moral friction: something that prevents the mind from gliding over things but connects it with them and makes it hard for it to free itself from them. Every condition of the soul has its own sign and expression...So you will see how hard it is to seem original without being so. Is it not strange that men are so keen to fight for religion and so unkeen to live according to its precepts? Reading means borrowing. ~Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Aphorisms First we have to believe, and then we believe. Many are less fortunate than you’ may not be a roof to live under, but it will serve to retire beneath in the event of a shower. Everything that matters in life flows through tubes.
We accumulate our opinions at an age when our understanding is at its weakest.
The fly that does not want to be swatted is safest if it sits on the fly-swat.
I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is they must change if they are to get better.
Where the frontier of science once was is now the centre.
...if we gained only one incontestable truth every ten years from each of our philosophical writers the harvest we reaped would be sufficient. Kenntnis der Mittel ohne eine eigentliche Anwendung, ja ohne Gabe und Willen, sie anzuwenden, ist, was man jetzt gemeiniglich Gelehrsamkeit nennt.