Sketchy, Doubtful, Incomplete Jottings of J.W. von Goethe

As a derelict reader of philosophy, I can only measure Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's musings on self-deceit, superstition, art, and ambition practically at face value. I imagined arming myself with a spade before reading this edition-- a Penguin books short collection from the German author/philosopher's original Maxims and Reflections (1749-1832) only to realize that I do not need any digging for deeper meanings because the proof is already in the surface. Well-known for his legendary novel Faust, most of Goethe's musings here are obvious to the open eyes.

"Nobody can make judgements about history except those who have experienced history as a part of their own development. This applies to whole nations. The Germans have only been able to judge literature since the point they themselves have had literature."

If he could only survive more than a century later, I am sure he will be thinking of how his countrymen judge their position in the world regarding War and Antisemitism. These next musings are not far from the first:

"Only those people who are both clever and active, who are clear about their own capacities and can use them with moderation and common sense, will really get on in the world as it is."

"Whichever way you look at nature, it is the source of what is infinite."

In general one doesnt need a mind of a genius to agree or disagree with his observations and maxims even if some were obviously outdated and most were flatly acceptable as they are. At the same time I could not consider them nearly as thought-provoking. Goethe's ideas were enjoyable as food for thought, but not so revolutionary.

My final pick from his collection may describe the current state-of-affairs regarding the book reading world, something to think about:

"The most mediocre novel is still better than mediocre readers, indeed the worst novel still participates in some way in the excellence of the genre as a whole."

Genre: Opinion, Maxims
Rating: 3 paintings

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