Quotations From KARL WILHELM VON HUMBOLDT


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  • Possession, it is true, crowns exertion with rest; but it is only in the illusions of fancy that it has power to charm us.
    Karl Wilhelm Von Humboldt (1767-1835), German statesman, philologist. The Limits of State Action, ch. 1 (1792, repr. 1854), trans. and ed. by J.W. Burrow (1969).

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  • If we glance at the most important revolutions in history, we see at once that the greatest number of these originated in the periodical revolutions of the human mind.
    Karl Wilhelm Von Humboldt (1767-1835), German statesman and philologist. The Limits of State Action, ch. 16 (written 1792, first publ. 1854), trans. and ed. J.W. Burrow (1969).

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  • Coercion may prevent many transgressions; but it robs even actions which are legal of a part of their beauty. Freedom may lead to many transgressions, but it lends even to vices a less ignoble form.
    Karl Wilhelm Von Humboldt (1767-1835), German statesman, philologist. (repr. 1854), ed. and trans. by J.W. Burrow (1969). The Limits of State Action, ch. 8 (1792).

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  • However great an evil immorality may be, we must not forget that it is not without its beneficial consequences. It is only through extremes that men can arrive at the middle path of wisdom and virtue.
    Karl Wilhelm Von Humboldt (1767-1835), German statesman, philologist. The Limits of State Action, ch. 8 (1792, repr. 1854), Trans and ed. J.W. Burrow (1969).

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  • Freedom is but the possibility of a various and indefinite activity; while government, or the exercise of dominion, is a single, yet real activity. The longing for freedom, therefore, is at first only too frequently suggested by the deep-felt consciousness of its absence.
    Karl Wilhelm Von Humboldt (1767-1835), German statesman, philologist. repr. 1854, ed. and trans. by J.W. Burrow (1969). "Introduction," Limits of State Action (1792).

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  • If it were not somewhat fanciful to suppose that every human excellence is presented, as it were, in one kind of being, we might believe that the whole treasure of morality and order is enshrined in the female character.
    Karl Wilhelm Von Humboldt (1767-1835), German statesman, philologist. repr. (1854), trans. and ed. J.W. Burrow (1969). Limits of State Action, ch. 3 (1792).

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  • War seems to be one of the most salutary phenomena for the culture of human nature; and it is not without regret that I see it disappearing more and more from the scene.
    Karl Wilhelm Von Humboldt (1767-1835), German statesman, philologist. repr. (1854), trans. and ed. J.W. Burrow (1969). Limits of State Action, ch. 5 (1792).

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  • If it were possible to make an accurate calculation of the evils which police regulations occasion, and of those which they prevent, the number of the former would, in all cases, exceed that of the latter.
    Karl Wilhelm Von Humboldt (1767-1835), German statesman, philologist. The Limits of State Action, ch. 8 (1792, repr. 1854), trans. and ed. by J.W. Burrow (1969).
  • Whatever does not spring from a man's free choice, or is only the result of instruction and guidance, does not enter into his very being, but still remains alien to his true nature; he does not perform it with truly human energies, but merely with mechanical exactness.
    Karl Wilhelm Von Humboldt (1767-1835), German statesman, philologist. Limits of State Action, ch. 3 (1792, repr. 1854), trans. and ed. by J.W. Burrow (1969).

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  • Wherever the citizen becomes indifferent to his fellows, so will the husband be to his wife, and the father of a family toward the members of his household.
    Karl Wilhelm Von Humboldt (1767-1835), German statesman, philologist. Trans. and ed. by J.W. Burrow (1969). Limits of State Action, ch. 3 (1792, repr. 1854).

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