In the ancients every man has found what he needed or desired—especially himself.
The French Revolution, Fichte’s Wissenschaftslehre, and Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister are the three greatest tendencies of the age. Whoever is offended at this juxtaposition, and whoever can deem no revolution important which is not boisterous and material, has not yet risen to the broad and lofty viewpoint of the history of mankind. Even in our meagre histories of culture, which, for the most part, resemble a collection of variant readings accompanied by a running commentary the classical text of which has perished, many a little book of which the noisy rabble took scant notice in its day, plays a greater role than all that this rabble did.
It is very one-sided and presumptuous to assert that there is only one Mediator. To the ideal Christian—and in this respect the unique Spinoza comes nearest to being one—everything ought to be a Mediator.
He alone can be an artist who has a religion of his own, an original view of the infinite.
It is a peculiar trait of humanity that it must exalt itself above humanity.
Plato’s philosophy is a worthy preface to the religion of the future.
Man is free when he brings forth God or makes Him visible; and thereby he becomes immortal.
The morality of a book lies not in its theme or in the relation of the writer to his public, but in the spirit of the treatment. If this breathes the full abundance of humanity, it is moral. If it is merely the work of an isolated power and art, it is not moral.
He is an artist who has his centre within himself. He who lacks this must choose a definite leader and mediator outside himself—naturally, not forever, but only at the first. For without a living centre man cannot exist, and if he does not yet have it within himself he can seek it only in a human being, and only a human being and his centre can arouse and awaken the artist’s own.
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THE STORY OF HYACINTH AND ROSEBLOSSOM
From The Novices at Sais (1798)
Long ages ago there lived in the far west a guileless youth. He was very good, but at the same time peculiar beyond measure. He constantly grieved over nothing at all, always went about alone and silent, sat down by himself whenever the others played and were happy, and was always thinking about strange things. Woods and caves were his favorite haunts, and there he talked constantly with birds and animals, with rocks and trees—naturally not a word of sense, nothing but stuff silly enough to make one die a-laughing. Yet he continued to remain morose and grave in spite of the fact that the squirrel, the long-tailed monkey, the parrot, and the bullfinch took