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Albert Schweitzer (Physician)

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.
Albert Schweitzer life
What has been presented as Christianity during these nineteen centuries is only a beginning, full of mistakes, not full blown Christianity springing from the spirit of .
Albert Schweitzer spirit
Every start upon an untrodden path is a venture which only in unusual circumstances looks sensible and likely to be successful.
Albert Schweitzer success
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. Only the universal ethic of the feeling of responsibility in an ever-widening sphere for all that lives — only that ethic can be founded in thought. ... The ethic of Reverence for Life, therefore, comprehends within itself everything that can be described as love, devotion, and sympathy whether in suffering, joy, or effort.
Albert Schweitzer love
The ethic of Reverence for Life is the ethic of Love widened into universality.
Albert Schweitzer love
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.
Albert Schweitzer knowledge
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.
Albert Schweitzer life
The African is my brother — but he is my younger brother by several centuries.
Albert Schweitzer you
The awareness that we are all human beings together has become lost in war and through politics.
Albert Schweitzer politics
Any religion or philosophy which is not based on a respect for life is not a true religion or philosophy.
Albert Schweitzer life
Translated by C. T. Campion as Philosophy of Civilisation (1949)
Albert Schweitzer philosophy
Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace.
Albert Schweitzer peace
The good conscience is an invention of the devil.
Albert Schweitzer science
The ethical ideas on which civilization rests have been wandering about the world, poverty-stricken and homeless. No theory of the universe has been advanced which can give them solid foundation; in fact not one has made its appearance which can claim for itself solidity and inner consistency. The age of philosophical dogmatism had come to an end, and after that nothing was recognized as truth except the science which described reality. Complete theories of the universe no longer appeared as fixed stars; they were regarded as resting on hypothesis, and ranked no higher than comets.
Albert Schweitzer truth
The last fact which knowledge can discover is that the world is a manifestation, and in every way a puzzling manifestation, of the universal will to live.
Albert Schweitzer knowledge
I live my life in God, in the mysterious divine personality which I do not know as such in the world, but only experience as mysterious Will within myself.
Albert Schweitzer life
Preface:
Albert Schweitzer
Resignation as to knowledge of the world is for me not an irretrievable plunge into a scepticism which leaves us to drift about in life like a derelict vessel. I see in it that effort of honesty which we must venture to make in order to arrive at the serviceablewhich hovers within sight. Every world-view which fails to start from resignation in regard to knowledge is artificial and a mere fabrication, for it rests upon an inadmissible interpretation of the universe.
Albert Schweitzer life
is a product of life-view, not vice versa.
Albert Schweitzer life
Reverence for life, veneratio vit
Albert Schweitzer life
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.
Albert Schweitzer life
From my youth onwards, I have felt sure that all thought which thinks itself out to an issue ends in mysticism. In the stillness of the African jungle I have been able to work out this thought and give it expression.
Albert Schweitzer war
The restoration of ourcan come only as a result of inexorably truth-loving and recklessly courageous thought. Such thinking alone is mature enough to learn by experience how the rational, when it thinks itself out to a conclusion, passes necessarily over into the non-rational. World- and life-affirmation and ethics are non-rational. They are not justified by any corresponding knowledge of the nature of the world, but are the disposition in which, through the inner compulsion of our will-to-live, we determine our relation to the world.What the activity of this disposition of ours means in the evolution of the world, we do not know. Nor can we regulate this activity from outside; we must leave entirely to each individual its shaping and its extension. From every point of view, then, world- and life-affirmation and ethics are non-rational, and we must have the courage to admit it.
Albert Schweitzer life
If rational thought thinks itself out to a conclusion, it arrives at something non-rational which, nevertheless, is a necessity of thought. This is the paradox which dominates our spiritual life. If we try to get on without this non-rational element, there result views of the world and of life which have neither vitality nor value.
Albert Schweitzer life
The way to true mysticism leads up through rational thought to deep experience of the world and of our will-to-live. We must all venture once more to be "thinkers," so as to reach mysticism, which is the only direct and the only profound . We must all wander in the field of knowledge to the point where knowledge passes over into experience of the world. We must all, through thought, become religious. This rational thought must become the prevailing force among us, for all the valuable ideas that we need develop out of it. In no other fire than that of the mysticism of reverence for life can the broken sword of idealism be forged anew.
Albert Schweitzer life
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."
Albert Schweitzer life
Never for a moment do we lay aside our mistrust of the ideals established by society, and of the convictions which are kept by it in circulation. We always know that society is full of folly and will deceive us in the matter of humanity. ... humanity meaning consideration for the existence and the happiness of individual human beings.
Albert Schweitzer happiness
Just as the wave cannot exist for itself, but is ever a part of the heaving surface of the ocean, so must I never live my life for itself, but always in the experience which is going on around me. It is an uncomfortable doctrine which the true ethics whisper into my ear. You are happy, they say; therefore you are called upon to give much.
Albert Schweitzer life
The disastrous feature of our civilization is that it is far more developed materially than spiritually. Its balance is disturbed ... Now come the facts to summon us to reflect. They tell us in terribly harsh language that a civilization which develops only on its material side, and not in the sphere of the spirit ... heads for disaster.
Albert Schweitzer spiritual
Ethics is in its unqualified form extended responsibility to everything that has life.
Albert Schweitzer life
The ethic of Reverence for Life prompts us to keep each other alert to what troubles us and to speak and act dauntlessly together in discharging the responsibility that we feel. It keeps us watching together for opportunities to bring some sort of help to animals in recompense for the great misery that men inflict upon them, and thus for a moment we escape from the incomprehensible horror of existence.
Albert Schweitzer men
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.
Albert Schweitzer life
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.
Albert Schweitzer life
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.
Albert Schweitzer life
It is the fate of every truth to be an object of ridicule when it is first acclaimed. It was once considered foolish to suppose that black men were really human beings and ought to be treated as such. What was once foolish has now become a recognized truth. Today it is considered as exaggeration to proclaim constant respect for every form of life as being the serious demand of a rational ethic. But the time is coming when people will be amazed that the human race existed so long before it recognized that thoughtless injury to life is incompatible with real ethics. Ethics is in its unqualified form extended responsibility to everything that has life.
Albert Schweitzer life
As long as I can remember, I have suffered because of the great misery I saw in the world. I never really knew the artless, youthful joy of living, and I believe that many children feel this way, even when outwardly they seem to be wholly happy and without a single care.
Albert Schweitzer war
I used to suffer particularly because the poor animals must endure so much pain and want. The sight of an old, limping horse being dragged along by one man while another man struck him with a stick he was being driven to the Colmar slaughterhouse — haunted me for weeks.
Albert Schweitzer art
Very little of the great cruelty shown by men can really be attributed to cruel instinct. Most of it comes from thoughtlessness or inherited habit.
Albert Schweitzer men
Very little of the great cruelty shown by men can really be attributed to cruel instinct. Most of it comes from thoughtlessness or inherited habit. The roots of cruelty, therefore, are not so much strong as widespread. But the time must come when inhumanity protected by custom and thoughtlessness will succumb before humanity championed by thought. Let us work that this time may come.
Albert Schweitzer time
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.
Albert Schweitzer life
I was convinced — and I am so still — that the fundamental principles of Christianity have to be proved true by reasoning, and by no other method. Reason, I said to myself, is given us that we may bring everything within the range of its action, even the most exalted ideas of religion. And this certainty filled me with joy.
Albert Schweitzer religion
The Spiritual Life :Selected Writings Of Albert Schweitzer, originally published as Albert Schweitzer: An Anthology
Albert Schweitzer life
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...
Albert Schweitzer horror
The highest knowledge is to know that we are surrounded by mystery.
Albert Schweitzer knowledge
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.
Albert Schweitzer people
Man can no longer live for himself alone. We realize that all life is valuable, and that we are united to all this life.
Albert Schweitzer life
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.
Albert Schweitzer life
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.
Albert Schweitzer horror
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 theand of the world.
Albert Schweitzer time
It is the fate of 'little faiths' of truth that they, true followers of Peter, whether they be Roman or the Protestant observance, cry out and sink in the sea of ideas, where the followers of Paul, believing in the Spirit, walk secure and undismayed.
Albert Schweitzer truth
Christianity has had to give up one piece after another of what it still imagined it possessed in the way of explanations of the universe. In this development it grows more and more into an expression of what constitutes its real nature. In a remarkable process of spiritualization it advances further and further from naive naivet
Albert Schweitzer nature
When Christianity becomes conscious of its innermost nature, it realizes that it is godliness rising our of inward constraint. The highest knowledge is to know that we are surrounded by mystery. Neither knowledge nor hope for the future can be the pivot of our life or determine its direction. It is intended to be solely determined by our allowing ourselves to be gripped by the ethical God, who reveals Himself in us, and by our yielding our will to His.
Albert Schweitzer life
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. A strength which becomes clearer and stronger through its experience of such obstacles is the only strength that can conquer them. Resistance is only a waste of strength.
Albert Schweitzer people
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 to the universe.
Albert Schweitzer life
The mistake made by all previous systems of ethics has been the failure to recognize that life as such is the mysterious value with which they have to deal. All spiritual life meets us within natural life. Reverence for life, therefore, is applied to natural life and spiritual life alike. In the parable of Jesus, the shepherd saves not merely the soul of the lost sheep but the whole animal. The stronger the reverence for natural life, the stronger grows also that for spiritual life.
Albert Schweitzer life
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.
Albert Schweitzer life
There slowly grew up in me an unshakable conviction that we have no right to inflict suffering and death on another living creature unless there is some unavoidable necessity for it, and that we ought all of us to feel what a horrible thing it is to cause suffering and death out of mere thoughtlessness. And this conviction has influenced me only more and more strongly with time. I have grown more and more certain that at the bottom of our heart we all think this, and that we fail to acknowledge it because we are afraid of being laughed at by other people as sentimentalists, though partly also because we allow our best feelings to get blunted. But I vowed that I would never let my feelings get blunted, and that I would never be afraid of the reproach of sentimentalism.
Albert Schweitzer death
Faith which refuses to face indisputable facts is but little faith. Truth is always gain, however hard it is to accommodate ourselves to it. To linger in any kind of untruth proves to be a departure from the straight way of faith.
Albert Schweitzer truth
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.
Albert Schweitzer science
Many a truth has lain unnoticed for a long time, ignored simply because no one perceived its potential for becoming reality.
Albert Schweitzer truth
We have learned to tolerate the facts of war: that men are killed en masse — some twenty million in the Second World War — that whole cities and their inhabitants are annihilated by the atomic bomb, that men are turned into living torches by incendiary bombs. We learn of these things from the radio or newspapers and we judge them according to whether they signify success for the group of peoples to which we belong, or for our enemies. When we do admit to ourselves that such acts are the results of inhuman conduct, our admission is accompanied by the thought that the very fact of war itself leaves us no option but to accept them. In resigning ourselves to our fate without a struggle, we are guilty of inhumanity.
Albert Schweitzer success
What really matters is that we should all of us realize that we are guilty of inhumanity. The horror of this realization should shake us out of our lethargy so that we can direct our hopes and our intentions to the coming of an era in which war will have no place.
Albert Schweitzer hope
The only originality I claim is that for me this truth goes hand in hand with the intellectual certainty that the human spirit is capable of creating in our time a new mentality, an ethical mentality. Inspired by this certainty, I too proclaim this truth in the hope that my testimony may help to prevent its rejection as an admirable sentiment but a practical impossibility. Many a truth has lain unnoticed for a long time, ignored simply because no one perceived its potential for becoming reality.
Albert Schweitzer truth
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.
Albert Schweitzer people
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 : "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.
Albert Schweitzer time
A man believes in eternal life because it is already his, it is a present experience, and he already benefits from its peace and joy. He cannot describe this experience in words. He may not be able to conform his view with the traditional picture of it. But one thing he knows for certain: Something within us does not pass away, something goes on living and working wherever the kingdom of the spirit is present.
Albert Schweitzer life
I am life which wants to live admidst of lives that want to live.
Albert Schweitzer life
Those who thank God much are the truly wealthy. So our inner happiness depends not on what we experience but on the degree of our gratitude to God, whatever the experience.
Albert Schweitzer happiness
Whoever has looked into the eyes of Jesus as he appears to us in his words knows that true happiness consists of service to this great One and his Spirit — and a life offerred to his work. Those who accept this mode of life, who know how to live it, become brothers and sisters.
Albert Schweitzer life
The man who dares to live his life with death before his eyes, the man who receives life back bit by bit and lives as though it did not belong to him by right but has been bestowed on him as a gift, the man who has such freedom and peace of mind that he has overcome death in his thoughts — such a man believes in eternal life because it is already his, it is a present experience, and he already benefits from its peace and joy. He cannot describe this experience in words. He may not be able to conform his view with the traditional picture of it. But one thing he knows for certain: Something within us does not pass away, something goes on living and working wherever the kingdom of the spirit is present. It is already working and living within us, because in our hearts we have been able to reach life by overcoming death.
Albert Schweitzer life
I do not want to frighten you by telling you about the temptations life will bring. Anyone who is healthy in spirit will overcome them. But there is something I want you to realize. It does not matter so much what you do. What matters is whether your soul is harmed by what you do. If your soul is harmed, something irreparable happens, the extent of which you won't realize until it will be too late.
Albert Schweitzer life
Don't let your hearts grow numb. Stay alert. It is your soul which matters.
Albert Schweitzer art
Not less strong than the will to truth must be the will to sincerity. Only an age, which can show the courage of sincerity, can possess truth, which works as a spiritual force within it.
Albert Schweitzer truth
Only at quite rare moments have I felt really glad to be alive. I could not but feel with a sympathy full of regret all the pain that I saw around me, not only that of men but that of the whole creation. From this community of suffering I have never tried to withdraw myself. It seemed to me a matter of course that we should all take our share of the burden of pain which lies upon the world.
Albert Schweitzer pain
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.
Albert Schweitzer love
The only way out of today's misery is for people to become worthy of each other's trust.
Albert Schweitzer people
In the hopes of reaching the moon men fail to see the flowers that blossom at their feet.
Albert Schweitzer hope
Example is not the main thing in influencing others, it is the only thing.
Albert Schweitzer
Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.
Albert Schweitzer love
Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory.
Albert Schweitzer memory
Do something for somebody everyday for which you do not get paid.
Albert Schweitzer body
Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success.
Albert Schweitzer happiness
It is the fate of every truth to be an object of ridicule when it is first acclaimed.
Albert Schweitzer truth
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.
Albert Schweitzer time
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. Only the universal ethic of the feeling of responsibility in an ever-widening sphere for all that lives — only that ethic can be founded in thought.The ethic of Reverence for Life, therefore, comprehends within itself everything that can be described as love, devotion, and sympathy whether in suffering, joy, or effort.Ch. 13, p. 188
Albert Schweitzer love

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