Schweitzer Quotes in Brief

See Philosophy for longer citations from Dr. Schweitzer’s writings, and for sources of the following quotes.

The fundamental principle of morality is that good consists in maintaining, promoting, and enhancing life, and that destroying, injuring, and limiting life are evil.

The fundamental fact of human awareness is this: “I am life that wills to live in the midst of life that wills to live.” A thinking man feels compelled to approach all life with the same reverence he has for his own.

What we call love is in its essence reverence for life.

The deepest thinking is humble. It is only concerned that the flame of truth which it keeps alive should burn with the strongest and purest heat.

It is the fate of every truth to be an object of ridicule when it is first acclaimed.

The beginning of all spiritual life of any real value is courageous faith in truth.

The result of the voyage does not depend on the speed of the ship, but on whether or not it keeps a true course.

Joy, sorrow, tears, lamentation, laughter – to all these music gives voice, but in such a way that we are transported from the world of unrest to a world of peace, and see reality in a new way.

When I hear a baby’s cry of pain change into a normal cry of hunger, to my ears that is the most beautiful music – and there are those who say I have good ears for music.

The morality we have lived by was fragmentary only. We must abandon it in favor of the complete, all-embracing love expressed in “reverence for all life.”

By practicing reverence for life we are in a spiritual relationship with the universe; we are in harmony with it.

All that happens in world history rests on something spiritual. If the spiritual is strong, it creates world history. If it is weak, it suffers world history.

The stronger the reverence for natural life, the stronger grows also that for spiritual life.

Ethics alone consists in this, that I experience the necessity of practicing the same reverence for life toward all will-to-live, as toward my own.

Search and see if there is not some place where you may invest your humanity.

Everyone has his Lambaréné.

Start early to instill in your students awareness that they are on this earth to help and serve others; that is as important to pass on to them as knowledge.

The most important thing in education is to make young people think for themselves.

It is through the idealism of youth that man catches sight of truth, and in that idealism he possesses a wealth which he must never exchange for anything else.

Grow into your ideals, so that life can never rob you of them.

Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.

I decided that I would make my life my argument.

Service: Never have this word on your lips, but keep it in your hearts.

The interior joy we feel when we have done a good deed, when we feel we have been needed somewhere and have lent a helping hand, is the nourishment the soul requires.

Anyone who proposes to do good must not expect people to roll stones out of his way, but must accept his lot calmly if they even roll a few more upon it. A strength which becomes clearer and stronger through its experience of such obstacles is the only strength that can conquer them.

To the man who is truly ethical all life is sacred, including that which from the human point of view seems lower on the scale.

The one essential thing is that we strive to have light in ourselves. When people have light in themselves, it will shine out from them.

The highest proof of the Spirit is love. Love is the eternal thing which men can already on earth possess as it really is.

To the question whether I am a pessimist or an optimist, I answer that my knowledge is pessimistic, but my willing and hoping are optimistic.

With a little reason and much heart, one can change many things, or move mountains.

The greatest thing is to give thanks for everything. He who has learned this knows what it means to live.

Judging by what I have learned about men and women, I am convinced that there is far more in them of idealist will power than ever comes to the surface of the world.


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