„If we would indicate an idea which, throughout the whole course of history, has ever more and more widely extended its empire, or which, more than any other, testifies to the much-contested and still more decidedly misunderstood perfectibility of the whole human race, it is that of establishing our common humanity — of striving to remove the barriers which prejudice and limited views of every kind have erected among men, and to treat all mankind, without reference to religion, nation, or color, as one fraternity, one great community, fitted for the attainment of one object, the unrestrained development of the physical powers.“

—  Wilhelm Von Humboldt

Kosmos (1847)
Kontext: If we would indicate an idea which, throughout the whole course of history, has ever more and more widely extended its empire, or which, more than any other, testifies to the much-contested and still more decidedly misunderstood perfectibility of the whole human race, it is that of establishing our common humanity — of striving to remove the barriers which prejudice and limited views of every kind have erected among men, and to treat all mankind, without reference to religion, nation, or color, as one fraternity, one great community, fitted for the attainment of one object, the unrestrained development of the physical powers. This is the ultimate and highest aim of society, identical with the direction implanted by nature in the mind of man toward the indefinite extension of his existence. He regards the earth in all its limits, and the heavens as far as his eye can scan their bright and starry depths, as inwardly his own, given to him as the objects of his contemplation, and as a field for the development of his energies. Even the child longs to pass the hills or the seas which inclose his narrow home; yet, when his eager steps have borne him beyond those limits, he pines, like the plant, for his native soil; and it is by this touching and beautiful attribute of man — this longing for that which is unknown, and this fond remembrance of that which is lost — that he is spared from an exclusive attachment to the present. Thus deeply rooted in the innermost nature of man, and even enjoined upon him by his highest tendencies, the recognition of the bond of humanity becomes one of the noblest leading principles in the history of mankind.

„There are undeniably certain kinds of knowledge that must be of a general nature and, more importantly, a certain cultivation of the mind and character that nobody can afford to be without.“

—  Wilhelm Von Humboldt

As quoted in Wilhelm von Humboldt (1970), by P. Berglar, p. 87, and "Profiles of Educators: Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767–1835)" by Karl-Heinz Günther, in Prospects, Vol. 18, Issue 1 (March 1988)
Kontext: There are undeniably certain kinds of knowledge that must be of a general nature and, more importantly, a certain cultivation of the mind and character that nobody can afford to be without. People obviously cannot be good craftworkers, merchants, soldiers or businessmen unless, regardless of their occupation, they are good, upstanding and – according to their condition – well-informed human beings and citizens. If this basis is laid through schooling, vocational skills are easily acquired later on, and a person is always free to move from one occupation to another, as so often happens in life.

„It is only through extremes that men can arrive at the middle path of wisdom and virtue.“

—  Wilhelm Von Humboldt

Quelle: The Limits of State Action (1792), Ch. 8
Kontext: Setting aside the fact that coercion and guidance can never succeed in producing virtue, they manifestly tend to weaken power; and what are tranquil order and outward morality without true moral strength and virtue? Moreover, 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.

„Man is naturally more disposed to beneficent than selfish actions.“

—  Wilhelm Von Humboldt

Quelle: The Limits of State Action (1792), Ch. 8
Kontext: Man is naturally more disposed to beneficent than selfish actions. This we learn even from the history of savages. The domestic virtues have something in them so inviting and genial, and the public virtues of the citizen something so grand and inspiring, that even he who is barely uncorrupted, is seldom able to resist their charm.

„Owing to the vigorous and elastic strength of man’s original power, necessity does not often require anything save the removal of oppressive bonds.“

—  Wilhelm Von Humboldt

The Limits of State Action (1792)
Kontext: Owing to the vigorous and elastic strength of man’s original power, necessity does not often require anything save the removal of oppressive bonds. From all these reasons (to which a more detailed analysis of the subject might add many more) it will be seen, that there is no other principle than this so perfectly accordant with the reverence we owe to the individuality of spontaneous beings, and with the solicitude for freedom which that reverence inspires. Finally, the only infallible means of securing power and authority to laws, is to see that they originate in this principle alone.

„The interdependence of word and idea shows clearly that languages are not actually means of representing a truth already known, but rather of discovering the previously unknown. Their diversity is not one of sounds and signs, but a diversity of world perspectives. … The sum of the knowable, as the field to be tilled by the human mind, lies among all languages, independent of them, in the middle. Man cannot approach this purely objective realm other than through his cognitive and sensory powers, that is, in a subjective manner.“

—  Wilhelm Von Humboldt

As quoted in The Linguistic Relativity Principle and Humboldtian Ethnolinguistics : A History And Appraisal (1963) by Robert Lee Miller, and The Linguistic Turn in Hermeneutic Philosophy (2002) by Cristina Lafont
Kontext: The interdependence of word and idea shows clearly that languages are not actually means of representing a truth already known, but rather of discovering the previously unknown. Their diversity is not one of sounds and signs, but a diversity of world perspectives [Weltansichten]. … The sum of the knowable, as the field to be tilled by the human mind, lies among all languages, independent of them, in the middle. Man cannot approach this purely objective realm other than through his cognitive and sensory powers, that is, in a subjective manner.

„True enjoyment comes from activity of the mind and exercise of the body; the two are ever united.“

—  Wilhelm Von Humboldt

As quoted in A Dictionary of Thoughts : Being a Cyclopedia of Laconic Quotations from the Best Authors of the World, both Ancient and Modern (1908) edited by Tryon Edwards

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