A Collection of Wisdom

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe (1749-1832) was a German poet, novelist, playwright, scientist, royal advisor, musician, and philosopher. He is considered one of the top masters of Western writing, and one of the world’s greatest geniuses.

Johann’s vast number of novels, poems, and plays had an immense impact on German literature, and made him an important influence on German and European culture.


Johann’s most notable literary work is a dramatic and philosophical poem Faust. He is also well known for his Wilhelm Meister series of novels, and for other novels such as Sorrows of Young Werther and Elective Affinities.


As a scientist, Johann made important discoveries in the fields of plant and animal life, and is well noted for his book Metamorphosis of Plants. Another scientific work of his called Theory of Colors is still being studied by modern physicists for the valuable observations it describes. Additionally, Johann’s work in discovering human premaxilla jawbones was important in inspiring later studies by Charles Darwin.


The well-rounded Johann knew French, English, Italian, Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. He translated many writings by foreign authors. He also served as chief minister of state at Weimar for ten years, and directed the state theater and the scientific institutions for several decades. And if that weren't enough, he was even an accomplished amateur musician who conducted ensembles and directed operas.

German Proverbs

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Quotes

If you want to get pleasure out of life, you must attach value to the world.

If we had to depend for our life upon the favor of others, we should never have lived at all; from their desire to appear important themselves, people gladly ignore our very existence. (Schopenhauer paraphrase)

The wisest word it is mocked, if the listener is an inclined/dull ear.

The right man is the one that seizes the moment.

Be he a king or a peasant, he is happiest who finds peace at home.

As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.

The things that matter the most must never be at the mercy of things that matter the least.

Only learn to seize good fortune, for good fortune is always here.

Great abilities often announce themselves in youth in the form of awkwardness and peculiarity.

I respect the man who knows distinctly what he wants.

Common sense is the genius of humanity.

Against criticism a man can neither protest nor defend himself; he must act in spite of it, and then it will gradually yield to him.

One can be instructed in society; one is inspired only in solitude.

Nothing shows a man’s character more than what he laughs at.

Progress has not followed a straight ascending line, but a spiral with rhythms of progression and declining, of evolution and dissolution.

Beware of wasting your powers; constantly strive to concentrate them.

Out of moderation, a pure happiness springs.

Every situation—nay, every moment—is of infinite worth, for it is the representative of a whole eternity.

The human mind will not be restricted to any limits.

The unnatural, that too is natural.

The most original of authors are not so because they advance what is new, but more because they know how to say something in a way it has never been said before.

All truly wise thoughts have already been thought thousands of times; but to make them truly ours, we must think them over again honestly, until they take root in our personal experience.

We usually lose today because there has been a yesterday and tomorrow is coming.

Nothing is worth more than this day.

There is nothing in the world more shameful than establishing one’s self on lies and fables.

We are never deceived; we deceive ourselves.

Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward. They may be defeated, but they may start a winning game.

Secrecy has many advantages. When you tell someone the purpose of any object right away, they often think there is nothing to it.

What you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.

Everything in the world may be endured, except for a succession of prosperous days.

Knowing is not enough; we must apply!

One can be very happy without demanding that others agree with him.

Know yourself? If I knew myself, I would run away.