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Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

1742-1799 ,  German author of maxims
Georg Christoph LichtenbergGerman scientist, satirist, and writer of aphorisms, best known for his ridicule of metaphysical and romantic excesses.
As a scientist, he was the first to hold a professorship explicitly dedicated to experimental physics in Germany.
Today, he is remembered for his posthumously published notebooks, which he himself called Sudelbücher, a description modeled on the English bookkeeping term "scrapbooks",and for his discovery of the strange tree-like electrical discharge patterns now called Lichtenberg figures.

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Virtue by premeditation isn't worth much.

If you are going to build something in the air it is always better to build castles than houses of cards.

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.

One has to do something new in order to see something new.

The inclination of people to consider small things as important has produced many great things.

The most dangerous of all falsehoods is a slightly distorted truth.

To err is human also in so far as animals seldom or never err, or at least only the cleverest of them do so.

The American who first discovered Columbus made a bad discovery.

What is called an acute knowledge of human nature is mostly nothing but the observer's own weaknesses reflected back from others.

There are very many people who read simply to prevent themselves from thinking.

Man is always partial and is quite right to be. Even impartiality is partial.

There is no more important rule of conduct in the world than this: attach yourself as much as you can to people who are abler than you and yet not so very different that you cannot understand them.

I have remarked very clearly that I am often of one opinion when I am lying down and of another when I am standing up.

I am convinced we do not only love ourselves in others but hate ourselves in others too.

Doubt must be no more than vigilance, otherwise it can become dangerous.

The Greeks possessed a knowledge of human nature we seem hardly able to attain to without passing through the strengthening hibernation of a new barbarism.

There are people who believe everything is sane and sensible that is done with a solemn face.

To do the opposite of something is also a form of imitation, namely an imitation of its opposite.

A book is a mirror: if an ape looks into it an apostle is hardly likely to look out.

Nothing contributes more to a person's peace of mind than having no opinions at all.

Even truth needs to be clad in new garments if it is to appeal to a new age.

That man is the noblest creature may also be inferred from the fact that no other creature has yet contested this claim.

A good means to discovery is to take away certain parts of a system to find out how the rest behaves.

Just as we outgrow a pair of trousers, we outgrow acquaintances, libraries, principles, etc., at times before they're worn out and at times—and this is the worst of all—before we have new ones.

A book which, above all others in the world, should be forbidden, is a catalogue of forbidden books.

Where the frontier of science once was is now the center.

The sure conviction that we could if we wanted to is the reason so many good minds are idle.

Nothing makes one old so quickly as the ever-present thought that one is growing older.

It is a question whether, when we break a murderer on the wheel, we do not fall into the error a child makes when it hits the chair it has bumped into.

We accumulate our opinions at an age when our understanding is at its weakest.

Love is blind, but marriage restores its sight.

After all, is our idea of God anything more than personified incomprehensibility?

It is impossible to have bad taste, but many people have none at all.

A sure sign of a good book is that you like it more the older you get.

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 a vow is a greater sin than to break one.

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.

With most men, unbelief in one thing springs from blind belief in another.

Perhaps in time the so-called Dark Ages will be thought of as including our own.

The man was such an intellectual he was of almost no use.

It is almost impossible to carry the torch of truth through a crowd without singeing somebody's beard.

The thoughts written on the walls of madhouses by their inmates might be worth publicizing.

Don't judge a man by his opinions, but what his opinions have made of him.

The construction of the universe is certainly very much easier to explain than is that of the plant.

God created man in his own image, says the Bible; the philosophers do the exact opposite, they create God in theirs.

Everyone is a genius at least once a year. The real geniuses simply have their bright ideas closer together.

There were honest people long before there were Christians and there are, God be praised, still honest people where there are no Christians.

First we have to believe, and then we believe.

A person reveals his character by nothing so clearly as the joke he resents.


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