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Henri Fréderic Amiel

Geburtstag: 27. September 1821
Todesdatum: 11. Mai 1881
Andere Namen:Fréderik Henri Amiel

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Henri-Frédéric Amiel war ein französischsprachiger Schweizer Schriftsteller und Philosoph.

Amiel war der erste Sohn des Kaufmanns Henri Amiel und Caroline Brandts. Nach dem Tod seiner Eltern wurde er im Alter von 13 Jahren von seinem Onkel Frédéric Amiel aufgenommen. Nach dem Antritt seiner Studien in Genf bereiste er die Schweiz, Italien, Frankreich und Belgien. In Deutschland hielt er sich zunächst neun Monate in Heidelberg auf; von 1844 bis 1848 lebte er in Berlin, wo er Philosophie , Psychologie sowie Philologie und Theologie studierte.

1849 kehrte er nach Genf zurück und wurde Professor für Ästhetik und französische Literatur an der Universität Genf dank einer Abhandlung über Du Mouvement littéraire dans la Suisse romande et de son avenir . Von 1854 bis zu seinem Tod hielt er zudem den Lehrstuhl für Philosophie.

Amiel publizierte mehrere Gedichtbände, historische und philologische Studien und philosophische Essays, die von der idealistischen deutschen Philosophie beeinflusst sind. Das populärste Werk, das er zu Lebzeiten veröffentlichte, war das patriotisch-militaristische Lied Roulez, tambours! .

Berühmt wurde Amiel mit seinem monumentalen Tagebuch , das man nach seinem Tod entdeckte. Die kurz danach publizierten Auszüge in zwei Bänden erregten großes Aufsehen wegen der Klarheit der Gedanken, der Aufrichtigkeit der Introspektion, der Genauigkeit der Einzelheiten, der entmutigenden Vision von Existenz und der Neigung zur Selbstkritik. Ende des 19. und Anfang des 20. Jahrhunderts beeinflussten die Tagebücher Schriftsteller in der Schweiz, aber auch anderswo in Europa .

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Zitate Henri Fréderic Amiel

„Cleverness is serviceable for everything, sufficient for nothing.“

—  Henri-Frédéric Amiel
Context: Clever men will recognize and tolerate nothing but cleverness; every authority rouses their ridicule, every superstition amuses them, every convention moves them to contradiction. Only force finds favor in their eyes, and they have no toleration for anything that is not purely natural and spontaneous. And yet ten clever men are not worth one man of talent, nor ten men of talent worth one man of genius. And in the individual, feeling is more than cleverness, reason is worth as much as feeling, and conscience has it over reason. If, then, the clever man is not mockable, he may at least be neither loved, nor considered, nor esteemed. He may make himself feared, it is true, and force others to respect his independence; but this negative advantage, which is the result of a negative superiority, brings no happiness with it. Cleverness is serviceable for everything, sufficient for nothing. 16 February 1868

„There is no repose for the mind except in the absolute; for feeling except in the infinite; for the soul except in the divine.“

—  Henri-Frédéric Amiel
Context: There is no repose for the mind except in the absolute; for feeling except in the infinite; for the soul except in the divine. Nothing finite is true, is interesting, is worthy to fix my attention. All that is particular is exclusive, and all that is exclusive repels me. There is nothing non-exclusive but the All; my end is communion with Being through the whole of Being.

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„Whenever conscience speaks with a divided, uncertain, and disputed voice, it is not yet the voice of God.“

—  Henri-Frédéric Amiel
Context: Whenever conscience speaks with a divided, uncertain, and disputed voice, it is not yet the voice of God. Descend still deeper into yourself, until you hear nothing but a clear and undivided voice, a voice which does away with doubt and brings with it persuasion, light and serenity. 6 April 1851

„Whether we will or no, there is an esoteric doctrine, there is a relative revelation; each man enters into God so much as God enters into him, or as Angelus, I think, said, "the eye by which I see God is the same eye by which He sees me."“

—  Henri-Frédéric Amiel
Context: Redemption, eternal life, divinity, humanity, propitiation, incarnation, judgment, Satan, heaven and hell — all these beliefs have been so materialized and coarsened, that with a strange irony they present to us the spectacle of things having a profound meaning and yet carnally interpreted. Christian boldness and Christian liberty must be reconquered; it is the church which is heretical, the church whose sight is troubled and her heart timid. Whether we will or no, there is an esoteric doctrine, there is a relative revelation; each man enters into God so much as God enters into him, or as Angelus, I think, said, "the eye by which I see God is the same eye by which He sees me." 1 October 1849; Amiel is here actually quoting Meister Eckhart, not Angelus Silesius as he supposed.

„I love everything, and detest one thing only — the hopeless imprisonment of my being within a single arbitrary form, even were it chosen by myself. Liberty for the inner man is then the strongest of my passions — perhaps my only passion.“

—  Henri-Frédéric Amiel
Context: Action limits us; whereas in the state of contemplation we are endlessly expansive. Will localizes us; thought universalizes us. My soul wavers between half a dozen antagonistic general conceptions, because it is responsive to all the great instincts of human nature, and its aspiration is to the absolute, which is only to be reached through a succession of contraries. It has taken me a great deal of time to understand myself, and I frequently find myself beginning over again the study of the oft-solved problem, so difficult is it for us to maintain any fixed point within us. I love everything, and detest one thing only — the hopeless imprisonment of my being within a single arbitrary form, even were it chosen by myself. Liberty for the inner man is then the strongest of my passions — perhaps my only passion. Is such a passion lawful? It has been my habit to think so, but intermittently, by fits and starts. I am not perfectly sure of it. 8 March 1868 The will localizes us, thought universalizes us. My soul wavers between two, four, six general and contradictory conceptions, for it obeys all the great instincts of human nature, and aspires to the absolute, which can only be realized by a succession of contraries. As translated in The Private Journal of Henri Frédéric Amiel (1935), p. 238

„Action limits us; whereas in the state of contemplation we are endlessly expansive. Will localizes us; thought universalizes us.“

—  Henri-Frédéric Amiel
Context: Action limits us; whereas in the state of contemplation we are endlessly expansive. Will localizes us; thought universalizes us. My soul wavers between half a dozen antagonistic general conceptions, because it is responsive to all the great instincts of human nature, and its aspiration is to the absolute, which is only to be reached through a succession of contraries. It has taken me a great deal of time to understand myself, and I frequently find myself beginning over again the study of the oft-solved problem, so difficult is it for us to maintain any fixed point within us. I love everything, and detest one thing only — the hopeless imprisonment of my being within a single arbitrary form, even were it chosen by myself. Liberty for the inner man is then the strongest of my passions — perhaps my only passion. Is such a passion lawful? It has been my habit to think so, but intermittently, by fits and starts. I am not perfectly sure of it. 8 March 1868 The will localizes us, thought universalizes us. My soul wavers between two, four, six general and contradictory conceptions, for it obeys all the great instincts of human nature, and aspires to the absolute, which can only be realized by a succession of contraries. As translated in The Private Journal of Henri Frédéric Amiel (1935), p. 238

„Clever men will recognize and tolerate nothing but cleverness; every authority rouses their ridicule, every superstition amuses them, every convention moves them to contradiction. Only force finds favor in their eyes, and they have no toleration for anything that is not purely natural and spontaneous. And yet ten clever men are not worth one man of talent, nor ten men of talent worth one man of genius.“

—  Henri-Frédéric Amiel
Context: Clever men will recognize and tolerate nothing but cleverness; every authority rouses their ridicule, every superstition amuses them, every convention moves them to contradiction. Only force finds favor in their eyes, and they have no toleration for anything that is not purely natural and spontaneous. And yet ten clever men are not worth one man of talent, nor ten men of talent worth one man of genius. And in the individual, feeling is more than cleverness, reason is worth as much as feeling, and conscience has it over reason. If, then, the clever man is not mockable, he may at least be neither loved, nor considered, nor esteemed. He may make himself feared, it is true, and force others to respect his independence; but this negative advantage, which is the result of a negative superiority, brings no happiness with it. Cleverness is serviceable for everything, sufficient for nothing. 16 February 1868

„Redemption, eternal life, divinity, humanity, propitiation, incarnation, judgment, Satan, heaven and hell — all these beliefs have been so materialized and coarsened, that with a strange irony they present to us the spectacle of things having a profound meaning and yet carnally interpreted.“

—  Henri-Frédéric Amiel
Context: Redemption, eternal life, divinity, humanity, propitiation, incarnation, judgment, Satan, heaven and hell — all these beliefs have been so materialized and coarsened, that with a strange irony they present to us the spectacle of things having a profound meaning and yet carnally interpreted. Christian boldness and Christian liberty must be reconquered; it is the church which is heretical, the church whose sight is troubled and her heart timid. Whether we will or no, there is an esoteric doctrine, there is a relative revelation; each man enters into God so much as God enters into him, or as Angelus, I think, said, "the eye by which I see God is the same eye by which He sees me." 1 October 1849; Amiel is here actually quoting Meister Eckhart, not Angelus Silesius as he supposed.

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„My privilege is to be spectator of my life drama, to be fully conscious of the tragi-comedy of my own destiny, and, more than that, to be in the secret of the tragi-comic itself, that is to say, to be unable to take my illusions seriously, to see myself, so to speak, from the theater on the stage, or to be like a man looking from beyond the tomb into existence. I feel myself forced to feign a particular interest in my individual part, while all the time I am living in the confidence of the poet who is playing with all these agents which seem so important, and knows all that they are ignorant of.“

—  Henri-Frédéric Amiel
Context: My privilege is to be spectator of my life drama, to be fully conscious of the tragi-comedy of my own destiny, and, more than that, to be in the secret of the tragi-comic itself, that is to say, to be unable to take my illusions seriously, to see myself, so to speak, from the theater on the stage, or to be like a man looking from beyond the tomb into existence. I feel myself forced to feign a particular interest in my individual part, while all the time I am living in the confidence of the poet who is playing with all these agents which seem so important, and knows all that they are ignorant of. It is a strange position, and one which becomes painful as soon as grief obliges me to betake myself once more to my own little rôle, binding me closely to it, and warning me that I am going too far in imagining myself, because of my conversations with the poet, dispensed from taking up again my modest part of valet in the piece. Shakespeare must have experienced this feeling often, and Hamlet, I think, must express it somewhere. It is a Doppelgängerei, quite German in character, and which explains the disgust with reality and the repugnance to public life, so common among the thinkers of Germany. There is, as it were, a degradation a gnostic fall, in thus folding one's wings and going back again into the vulgar shell of one's own individuality. Without grief, which is the string of this venturesome kite, man would soar too quickly and too high, and the chosen souls would be lost for the race, like balloons which, save for gravitation, would never return from the empyrean. 8 November 1852

„To adore, to understand, to receive, to feel, to give, to act: there is my law my duty, my happiness, my heaven. Let come what come will — even death.“

—  Henri-Frédéric Amiel
Context: To adore, to understand, to receive, to feel, to give, to act: there is my law my duty, my happiness, my heaven. Let come what come will — even death. Only be at peace with self, live in the presence of God, in communion with Him, and leave the guidance of existence to those universal powers against whom thou canst do nothing! If death gives me time, so much the better. If its summons is near, so much the better still; if a half-death overtake me, still so much the better, for so the path of success is closed to me only that I may find opening before me the path of heroism, of moral greatness and resignation. Every life has its potentiality of greatness, and as it is impossible to be outside God, the best is consciously to dwell in Him. 16 July 1848

„I am a spectator, so to speak, of the molecular whirlwind which men call individual life; I am conscious of an incessant metamorphosis, an irresistible movement of existence, which is going on within me — and this phenomenology of myself serves as a window opened upon the mystery of the world.“

—  Henri-Frédéric Amiel
Context: I am a spectator, so to speak, of the molecular whirlwind which men call individual life; I am conscious of an incessant metamorphosis, an irresistible movement of existence, which is going on within me — and this phenomenology of myself serves as a window opened upon the mystery of the world. I am, or rather my sensible consciousness is, concentrated upon this ideal standing-point, this invisible threshold, as it were, whence one hears the impetuous passage of time, rushing and foaming as it flows out into the changeless ocean of eternity. After all the bewildering distractions of life — after having drowned myself in a multiplicity of trifles and in the caprices of this fugitive existence, yet without ever attaining to self-intoxication or self-delusion — I come again upon the fathomless abyss, the silent and melancholy cavern, where dwell 'Die Mütter,' where sleeps that which neither lives nor dies, which has neither movement nor change, nor extension, nor form, and which lasts when all else passes away.

„Heroism is the brilliant triumph of the soul over the flesh — that is to say, over fear: fear of poverty, of suffering, of calumny, of sickness, of isolation, and of death.“

—  Henri-Frédéric Amiel
Context: Heroism is the brilliant triumph of the soul over the flesh — that is to say, over fear: fear of poverty, of suffering, of calumny, of sickness, of isolation, and of death. There is no serious piety without heroism. Heroism is the dazzling and glorious concentration of courage. 1 October 1849

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„Every life has its potentiality of greatness“

—  Henri-Frédéric Amiel
Context: To adore, to understand, to receive, to feel, to give, to act: there is my law my duty, my happiness, my heaven. Let come what come will — even death. Only be at peace with self, live in the presence of God, in communion with Him, and leave the guidance of existence to those universal powers against whom thou canst do nothing! If death gives me time, so much the better. If its summons is near, so much the better still; if a half-death overtake me, still so much the better, for so the path of success is closed to me only that I may find opening before me the path of heroism, of moral greatness and resignation. Every life has its potentiality of greatness, and as it is impossible to be outside God, the best is consciously to dwell in Him. 16 July 1848

„In the conduct of life, habits count for more than maxims, because habit is a living maxim, becomes flesh and instinct.“

—  Henri-Frédéric Amiel
Context: In the conduct of life, habits count for more than maxims, because habit is a living maxim, becomes flesh and instinct. To reform one's maxims is nothing: it is but to change the title of the book. To learn new habits is everything, for it is to reach the substance of life. Life is but a tissue of habits.

„Ought I not to have been more careful to win the good opinion of others, more determined to conquer their hostility or indifference? It would have been a joy to me to be smiled upon, loved, encouraged, welcomed, and to obtain what I was so ready to give, kindness and goodwill. But to hunt down consideration and reputation — to force the esteem of others — seemed to me an effort unworthy of myself, almost a degradation.“

—  Henri-Frédéric Amiel
Context: Ought I not to have been more careful to win the good opinion of others, more determined to conquer their hostility or indifference? It would have been a joy to me to be smiled upon, loved, encouraged, welcomed, and to obtain what I was so ready to give, kindness and goodwill. But to hunt down consideration and reputation — to force the esteem of others — seemed to me an effort unworthy of myself, almost a degradation. A struggle with unfavorable opinion has seemed to me beneath me, for all the while my heart has been full of sadness and disappointment, and I have known and felt that I have been systematically and deliberately isolated. Untimely despair and the deepest discouragement have been my constant portion. Incapable of taking any interest in my talents for their own sake, I let everything slip as soon as the hope of being loved for them and by them had forsaken me. A hermit against my will, I have not even found peace in solitude, because my inmost conscience has not been any better satisfied than my heart.

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