Albert Schweitzer Love Quotes and Sayings
#1-2 Reverence for Life, 1969
1. Profound love demands a deep conception and out of this develops reverence for the mystery of life. It brings us close to all beings, to the poorest and smallest as well as all others.
2. Don’t let your hearts grow numb. Stay alert. It is your soul which matters.
#3 Out of My Life and Thought: An Autobiography, 1933, C. T. Campion translation
3. The ethic of Reverence for Life is the ethic of Love widened into universality.
Excerpt from Wikipedia: Albert Schweitzer, Order of Merit (14 January 1875 – 4 September 1965) was a French-German theologian, organist, philosopher, and physician. He was born in the German province of Alsace-Lorraine and although that region had been reintegrated into the German Empire four years earlier, and remained a German province until 1918, he considered himself French and wrote mostly in French. His mother-tongue was Alsatian German.
He received the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize for his philosophy of “Reverence for Life”, expressed in many ways, but most famously in founding and sustaining the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Lambaréné, now in Gabon, west central Africa (then French Equatorial Africa).
Sayings by Albert Schweitzer
#1 On the Edge of the Primeval Forest, 1922
1. Truth has no special time of its own. Its hour is now — always, and indeed then most truly when it seems most unsuitable to actual circumstances. Care for distress at home and care for distress elsewhere do but help each other if, working together, they wake men in sufficient numbers from their thoughtlessness, and call into life a new spirit of humanity.
#2-5 Kulturphilosophie, 1923 (Translated by C. T. Campion as Philosophy of Civilisation, 1949)
2. Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace.
3. The thinking man must oppose all cruel customs no matter how deeply rooted in tradition and surrounded by a halo. When we have a choice, we must avoid bringing torment and injury into the life of another, even the lowliest creature; to do so is to renounce our manhood and shoulder a guilt which nothing justifies.
4. Ethics, too, are nothing but reverence for life. That is what gives me the fundamental principle of morality, namely, that good consists in maintaining, promoting, and enhancing life, and that destroying, injuring, and limiting life are evil.
5. The good conscience is an invention of the devil.
#6 Thoughts for Our Times, 1975
6. Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing. Hope is renewed each time that you see a person you know, who is deeply involved in the struggle of life, helping another person. You are the unaffected witness and must agree that there is hope for mankind.
7. I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.
#8 Reverence for Life
8. No one can give a definition of the soul. But we know what it feels like. The soul is the sense of something higher than ourselves, something that stirs in us thoughts, hopes, and aspirations which go out to the world of goodness, truth and beauty. The soul is a burning desire to breathe in this world of light and never to lose it – to remain children of light.
#9 Letter to a Japanese Animal Welfare Society, 1961
9. Any religion or philosophy which is not based on a respect for life is not a true religion or philosophy.
#10 Radio appeal for peace, Oslo, Norway, 30 March 1958
10. The awareness that we are all human beings together has become lost in war and through politics.
#11-12 Out of My Life and Thought: An Autobiography, 1933, C. T. Campion translation
11. To the question whether I am a pessimist or an optimist, I answer that my knowledge is pessimistic, but my willing and hoping are optimistic.
12. The great fault of all ethics hitherto has been that they believed themselves to have to deal only with the relations of man to man. In reality, however, the question is what is his attitude to the world and all life that comes within his reach. A man is ethical only when life, as such, is sacred to him, and that of plants and animals as that of his fellow men, and when he devotes himself helpfully to all life that is in need of help.
#13 Schweitzer: A Biography, George N. Marshall, David Poling
13. Seek always to do some good somewhere. Every man has to seek in his own way to make his own self more noble … You must give something to your fellowman. Even if it’s a little thing, do something for those who have need of a man’s help, something for which you get no pay but the privilege of doing it.
#14 Out of My Life and Thought: An Autobiography, 1933, C. T. Campion translation
14. Every start upon an untrodden path is a venture which only in unusual circumstances looks sensible and likely to be successful.
#15 On the Edge of the Primeval Forest, 1922
15. A word in conclusion about the relations between the whites and blacks. What must be the general character of the intercourse between them? Am I to treat the black man as my equal or my inferior? I must show him that I can respect the dignity of human personality in every one, and this attitude in me he must be able to see for himself; but the essential thing is that there shall be a real feeling of brotherliness. How far this is to find complete expression in the sayings and doings of daily life must be settled by circumstances. The negro is a child, and with children nothing can be done without the use of authority. We must, therefore, so arrange the circumstances of daily life that my natural authority can find expression. With regard to the negroes, then, I have coined the formula: “I am your brother, it is true, but your elder brother.”
#16 Albert Schweitzer: The Man and His Mind, 1947, George Seaver, p. 366
16. Let me give you a definition of ethics: It is good to maintain and further life — it is bad to damage and destroy life. And this ethic, profound and universal, has the significance of a religion. It is religion.
#17 Kulturphilosophie, 1923, Chapter 26 “The Civilizing Power of the Ethics of Reverence for Life”
17. True philosophy must start from the most immediate and comprehensive fact of consciousness: “I am life that wants to live, in the midst of life that wants to live.”
#18-19 The Spiritual Life, 1947
18. Anyone who proposes to do good must not expect people to roll stones out of his way, but must accept his lot calmly if they even roll a few more upon it.
19. The deeper we look into nature, the more we recognize that it is full of life, and the more profoundly we know that all life is a secret and that we are united with all life that is in nature. Man can no longer live for himself alone. We realize that all life is valuable, and that we are united to all this life. From this knowledge comes our spiritual relationship with the universe.
#20-21 Kulturphilosophie, 1923, Vol. 2: Civilization and Ethics
20. Awakening of Western thought will not be complete until that thought steps outside itself and comes to an understanding with the search for a world-view as this manifests itself in the thought of mankind as a whole.
21. My life carries its own meaning in itself. This meaning lies in my living out the highest idea which shows itself in my will-to-live, the idea of reverence for life. With that for a starting-point I give value to my own life and to all the will-to-live which surrounds me, I persevere in activity, and I produce values.
#22 [Feeling for Animal Life], Home and Holidays, Memoirs of Childhood and Youth, Translated by C. T. CAMPION [S]
22. As far back as I can remember I was saddened by the amount of misery I saw in the world around me. Youth’s unqualified joie de uivre I never really knew, and I believe that to be the case with many children, even though they appear outwardly merry and quite free from care.
#23 Home and Holidays, Memoirs of Childhood and Youth, Translated by C. T. CAMPION [S]
23. I have twice gone fishing with rod and line just because other boys asked me to, but this sport was soon made impossible for me by the treatment of the worms that were put on the hook for bait, and the wrenching of the mouths of the fishes that were caught. I gave it up, and even found courage enough to dissuade other boys from going.
#24 Home and Holidays, Memoirs of Childhood and Youth, Translated by C. T. CAMPION [S]
24. O, heavenly Father, protect and bless all things that have breath; guard them from all evil, and let them sleep in peace.
#25 Retrospect and Reflections, Memoirs of Childhood and Youth, Translated by C. T. CAMPION [S]
25. The great secret of success is to go through life as a man who never gets used up. That is possible for him who never argues and strives with men and facts, but in all experience retires upon himself, and looks for the ultimate cause of things in himself.
#26-29 The Spiritual Life: Selected Writings Of Albert Schweitzer, originally published as Albert Schweitzer: An Anthology
26. We cannot understand what happens in the universe. What is glorious in it is united with what is full of horror. What is full of meaning is united to what is senseless. The spirit of the universe is at once creative and destructive — it creates while it destroys and destroys while it creates, and therefore it remains to us a riddle. And we must inevitably resign ourselves to this.
27. When in the spring the withered gray of the pastures gives place to green, this is due to the millions of young shoots which sprout up freshly from the old roots. In like manner the revival of thought which is essential for our time can only come through a transformation of the opinions and ideals of the many brought about by individual and universal reflection about the meaning of life and of the world.
28. The highest knowledge is to know that we are surrounded by mystery.
29. Not one of us knows what effect his life produces, and what he gives to others; that is hidden from us and must remain so, though we are often allowed to see some little fraction of it, so that we may not lose courage.
#30-32 Kulturphilosophie, 1923
30. I must interpret the life about me as I interpret the life that is my own. My life is full of meaning to me. The life around me must be full of significance to itself. If I am to expect others to respect my life, then I must respect the other life I see, however strange it may be to mine. And not only other human life, but all kinds of life: life above mine, if there be such life; life below mine, as I know it to exist. Ethics in our Western world has hitherto been largely limited to the relations of man to man. But that is a limited ethics. We need a boundless ethics which will include the animals also.
31. A man is really ethical only when he obeys the constraint laid on him to help all life which he is able to succor, and when he goes out of his way to avoid injuring anything living. He does not ask how far this or that life deserves sympathy as valuable in itself, nor how far it is capable of feeling. To him life as such is sacred. He shatters no ice crystal that sparkles in the sun, tears no leaf from its tree, breaks off no flower, and is careful not to crush any insect as he walks. If he works by lamplight on a summer evening, he prefers to keep the window shut and to breathe stifling air, rather than to see insect after insect fall on his table with singed and sinking wings.
32. The man who has become a thinking being feels a compulsion to give every will-to-live the same reverence for life that he gives to his own. He experiences that other life in his own.
#33-34 The Spiritual Life: Selected Writings Of Albert Schweitzer, originally published as Albert Schweitzer: An Anthology
33. To the man who is truly ethical all life is sacred, including that which from the human point of view seems lower in the scale. He makes distinctions only as each case comes before him, and under the pressure of necessity, as, for example, when it falls to him to decide which of two lives he must sacrifice in order to preserve the other. But all through this series of decisions he is conscious of acting on subjective grounds and arbitrarily, and knows that he bears the responsibility for the life which is sacrificed.
34. We cannot abdicate our conscience to an organization, nor to a government. ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ Most certainly I am! I cannot escape my responsibility by saying the State will do all that is necessary. It is a tragedy that nowadays so many think and feel otherwise.
#35-39 Albert Schweitzer – Nobel Lecture, 4 November 1954
35. May the men who hold the destiny of peoples in their hands, studiously avoid anything that might cause the present situation to deteriorate and become even more dangerous. May they take to heart the words of the Apostle Paul: “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men”. These words are valid not only for individuals, but for nations as well. May these nations, in their efforts to maintain peace, do their utmost to give the spirit time to grow and to act.
36. Since we now know what a terrible evil war is, we must spare no effort to prevent its recurrence. To this reason must also be added an ethical one: In the course of the last two wars, we have been guilty of acts of inhumanity which make one shudder, and in any future war we would certainly be guilty of even worse. This must not happen!
37. It is convinced that compassion, in which ethics takes root, does not assume its true proportions until it embraces not only man but every living being.
38. Whether peace comes or not depends on the direction in which the mentality of individuals develops and then, in turn, on that of their nations.
39. Only when an ideal of peace is born in the minds of the peoples will the institutions set up to maintain this peace effectively fulfill the function expected of them.
#40 Memoirs of Childhood and Youth, Translated by C. T. CAMPION [S]
40. No ray of sunlight is ever lost, but the green which it wakes into existence needs time to sprout, and it is not always granted to the sower to live to see the harvest. All work that is worth anything is done in faith.
Unsourced Albert Schweitzer Quotes
1. Eventually all things fall into place. Until then, laugh at the confusion, live for the moments, and know everything happens for a reason.
2. In the hopes of reaching the moon men fail to see the flowers that blossom at their feet.
3. Do something wonderful, people may imitate it.
4. Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.