Alexander von Humboldt Quotes

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  • It is a proverbial expression that every man is the maker of his own fortune, and we usually regard it as implying that every man by his folly or wisdom prepares good or evil for himself. But we may view it in another light, namely, that we may so accommodate ourselves to the dispositions of Providence as to be happy in our lot, whatever may be its privations.

  • Cruelty to animals is one of the most significant vices of a low and ignoble people. Wherever one notices them, they constitute a sign of ignorance and brutality which cannot be painted over even by all the evidence of wealth and luxury.

  • Insight into universal nature provides an intellectual delight and sense of freedom that no blows of fate and no evil can destroy.

  • At no other time has Nature concentrated such a wealth of valuable nourishment into such a small space as in the cocoa bean.

  • Our imagination is struck only by what is great; but the lover of natural philosophy should reflect equally on little things.

    Alexander von HUMBOLDT (1869). “Personal narrative of travels to the equinoctial regions of America”, p.288
  • People often say that I'm curious about too many things at once... But can you really forbid a man from harbouring a desire to know and embrace everything that surrounds him?

  • The most powerful influence exercised by the Arabs on general natural physics was that directed to the advances of chemistry ; a science for which this race created a new era.(...) Besides making laudatory mention of that which we owe to the natural science of the Arabs in both the terrestrial and celestial spheres, we must likewise allude to their contributions in separate paths of intellectual development to the general mass of mathematical science.

    "Cosmos". Book by H.G. Bohn, v2, p. 589,595, 1860.
  • Time is the most important thing in human life, for what is pleasure after the departure of time? and the most consolatory, since pain, when pain has passed, is nothing. Time is the wheel-track in which we roll on towards eternity, conducting us to the Incomprehensible. In its progress there is a ripening power, and it ripens us the more, and the more powerfully, when we duly estimate it. Listen to its voice, do not waste it, but regard it as the highest finite good, in which all finite things are resolved.

    Life   Pain   Voice  
  • Collaboration operates through a process in which the successful intellectual achievements of one person arouse the intellectual passions and enthusiasms of others.

  • Mere communion with nature, mere contact with the free air, exercise a soothing yet comforting and strengthening influence on the wearied mind, calm the storm of passion, and soften the heart when shaken by sorrow to its inmost depths.

  • Die gefährlichste Weltanschauung ist die Weltanschauung derer, die die Welt nie angeschaut haben. (The most dangerous worldview is the worldview of those who have not viewed the world)

  • The expression of vanity and self-love becomes less offensive, when it retains something of simplicity and frankness.

    Alexander von Humboldt, Aimè Bonpland (1852). “Personal Narrative of Travels to the Equinoctial Regions of America, During the Years 1799-1804”, p.415
  • Before being free, it is necessary to be just

  • Cruelty to animals is one of the most significant vices of a low and ignoble people.

  • There are some races more cultured and advanced and ennobled by education than others; but there are no races nobler than others. All are equally destined for freedom.

  • Statistical projections which speak to the senses without fatiguing the mind, possess the advantage of fixing the attention on a great number of important facts.

    Alexander von Humboldt (1814). “Political Essay on the Kingdom of New Spain: Containing Researches Relative to the Geography of Mexico, the Extent of Its Surface, and Its Political Division Into Intendancies, the Physical Aspect of the Country, the Population, the State of Agriculture and Manufacturing and Commercial Industry, the Canals Projected Between the South Sea and Atlantic Ocean, the Crown Revenues, the Quantity of the Precious Metals which Have Flowed from Mexico Into Europe and Asia, Since the Discovery of the New Continent, and the Military Defence of New Spain”, p.133
  • Petroleum is the product of a distillation from great depth and issues from the primitive rocks beneath which the forces of all volcanic action lie.

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