15 Deep Lichtenberg Quotes To Upgrade Your Thoughts
Georg Christoph Lichtenberg is one of the most underrated and original thinkers. This 18th century German was a physicist by profession, a philosopher and satirist by nature.
His philosophical/psychological works come to us mostly through his series of notebooks. I read a few notes from them I managed to find on the internet. They were serious life lessons for me. After that, I turned to him whenever I wanted inspiration on free and deep thinking. I still do. His sarcastic, realistic, deep lines cut through a lot of sheepish mental crap of mine.
Here are a few things said about him from relatively credible sources:
Lichtenberg digs deeper than anyone… Only he hears him who digs deep himself — Karl Kraus
Perhaps he was even more remarkable as a psychologist than as a physicist — Sigmund Freud
We may use Lichtenberg’s writings as the most wonderful dowsing rod: wherever he makes a joke, there a problem lies hidden — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Now let us look at 15 Powerful Quotes by him that will upgrade your mind and take your thinking to the next level. These quotes will help you in your Self Improvement. These are sure to make your life stronger and your mind wiser.
BUT MAKE SURE YOU READ CAREFULLY!
15. One has to do something new in order to see something new
If you are from a landlocked country and want to see a yellow-red sun handsomely placed at the horizon of a cozy ocean — holding the hands of your favorite person or with your own contemplative self — you first need to get out of that country of yours!
You need to manage money or figure out a way. The message is simple: You don’t get something for nothing. You have to do something new, you have to get out of your room and its dull ceiling and stare at the sky if you want to see something you have never seen.
Eyes are in your body and so is your brain and your legs. To see new, you need to walk to places new!
14. He who is enamored of himself will at least have the advantage of being inconvenienced by few rivals.
There’s an old adage: The one who rules the self, rules the world.
If you take care of yourself, if you are strong and wise enough to not be hard on yourself, then there’s not much the world can do to hurt you. Most of our inconveniences are our own creations.
Yes, the world is a tough place to be. Nobody is here to love and bond with everyone. It’s every man for himself. Humans unite not out of compassion but out of mutual fear.
But mastering yourself and taking care of yourself will make you immune to the inconveniences caused by others. Whenever anyone troubles you, you will have enough self-care to not be hard on yourself. And that matters!
Unfortunately, the world is full of those who use this as defense after they shamelessly attack others and the others retaliate!
13. There are very many people who read simply to prevent themselves from thinking
Thoughts are stingy, chattery, annoying and they know how to hurt us! That’s why thinking is like playing with fire. It is like walking on a knife’s edge. It is not easy. That’s why many people are content with passive studying, following, and obeying: The risk is less and so are the chances of being hurt.
While reading is necessary for those who want to understand themselves and their world — too much reading without thinking can be calamitous for the mind.
If you do not analyze, scrutinize— you will enter into the trap of lifelong following, obeying, and you may never be able to come out of it. The result: You will die a sheep!
So, try to:
Think more than you read!
(But it requires serious courage)
12. He who knows himself properly can very soon learn to know all other men. It is all reflection.
We all are both similar and different.
The difference is due to our separate environments and experiences. This makes us all unique in our own way — shaping our desires and skills. You like horror movies and I experimental. You like to read technology stuff on Medium and I philosophy, etc.
However, if you learn all about what you want, desire, and also about how your mind and body function, you will be able to get a clue on how I work and function too.
This is where the similarity comes in:
You and I may be different when it comes to the type of movies we like — but our brain, mind, and body work the same. In the process of learning about your individual self, you end up learning about the laws of mind, thoughts, behavior, character, desires, body, etc. You then use the same knowledge on other people. And you understand about me based on your understanding of yourself.
(Or at least you think so!)
11. It is certainly not a matter of indifference whether I learn something without effort or finally arrive at it myself through my system of thought. In the latter case everything has roots, in the former it is merely superficial.
There are two ways of learning:
The first is a passive way where we are taught by others and we drink whatever they supply us. In this method, we simply imitate the thinking patterns and knowledge of others. The second way of learning is active, where we learn by thinking — by reflection, by analyzing, by self-observation. This is where we establish our own specific method of thinking and judge everything based on that pattern.
The first way of learning is superficial because we have admitted something to be true because some revered personality told us so. In the second method, our understanding is dependent on the foundation we have established. (See Quote No.2)
10. Attach yourself as much as you can to people who are abler than you and yet not so very different that you cannot understand them.
If you are a person of character and wisdom — you should rather attach yourself to a Monk than a Musk!
9. I have remarked very clearly that I am often of one opinion when I am lying down and of another when I am standing up.
Our thoughts are transient in nature. But thankfully, there is some method to the madness. If we carefully observe the workings of our head, we will notice that our thoughts and judgment are based on our personal history and character. Yet, they also fluctuate because of food, mood, and weather. At times they don’t even need situations. Whether this is their real nature or we are yet to understand them properly— is something only time shall tell,
Or we may never be able to!
8. Doubt must be no more than vigilance, otherwise it can become dangerous.
This is about balance.
Without doubts, we get cocky, arrogant, and stupid! Too much doubt and we become shy, nervous and stupid!
Doubt should be bright enough to show the hurdles but dim enough to hide the distance.
7. If you are going to build something in the air it is always better to build castles than houses of cards.
If you are a dreamer and know no other way of living — why not dream of things with solid foundation. Why not dream of something that is so firmly grounded that it will take more than a catastrophe to bring it down! Your dream should be based on what you are good at and what you have control over. Your dream should be firm — well oiled, well thought about!
What’s the point of dreaming of something that can collapse even from a slight breeze!
6. One might call habit a moral friction: something that prevents the mind from gliding over things but connects it with them and makes it hard for it to free itself from them.
Our mind is unsteady and unfixed. It likes to drift around without a plan and care. It likes to taste everything and commit to nothing.
Habits are settled and regular practices that provide the friction to stop the mind from superficial glidings by commiting it to an activity.
If you want to master something, start by making it a habit!
5. Once we know our weaknesses they cease to do us any harm.
Smoking the almighty weed gets me paranoid. I didn’t know of this weakness of mine when I was a lot younger. So whenever my friends planned to go on a trip, I signed up. And every time I smoked, I fell apart. I lost my confidence, I lost control over my thoughts and went into a safari deep into the jungles of anxiety and paranoia. I was hurt by my own thoughts.
Later, I interpreted this error, understood it, and avoided the trips. Weed hasn’t hurt me since.
Once we know our weaknesses, they won’t harm us. But there’s a condition —
We have to be sensible and wise to apply what we know!
4. Before one blames, one should always find out whether one cannot excuse. To discover little faults has been always the particularity of such brains that are a little or not at all above the average. The superior ones keep quiet or say something against the whole and the great minds transform without blaming.
There are three types of minds:
Ordinary minds search and find faults — they obsess over the character and actions of others. They don’t have enough sense to look at the overall context or themselves. Their horizon is limited to the personalities of people. They blame, they complain, they quarrel, they sting, they judge.
Superior minds can see the context. They can see why things are the way they are. So, they either remain silent or blame the entire system.
Great minds pierce through the nature of things and they know that it’s futile to obsess over petty stuff!
3. The great rule: If the little bit you have is nothing special in itself, at least find a way of saying it that is a little bit special.
This rule is widely applied in the content industry. Most content are generic: be it on YouTube or here on Medium, so the only way they stand out is through the attractive style of video presentation, speaking, writing and even titles and thumbnails. And this is the reality of the world. Ordinary minds with ordinary ideas are extraordinary at presentation.
This quote is satirical in nature. We do learn a valuable lesson from it:
Work on something special because most can’t do that!
2. Cultivate that kind of knowledge which enables us to discover for ourselves in case of need that which others have to read or be told of.
This is the case of being able to self-infer. The knowledge Lichtenberg talks about is the kind that is built from the absolute foundation onwards. If we manage to understand the basis of any subject — its essence and how things develop and move around within it — we can then infer whatever there is to learn in it — on our own.
Take politics for instance. If you are a student of political science/philosophy and if you have developed your knowledge of this field from the absolute foundation — that is, from the nature of man to the formation of society and political bodies, etc. then whatever present political situation asks for you to discover — you discover by thinking hard on it. On the other hand, if your political knowledge doesn’t have such a firm foundation — you’ll need a book or will have to listen to TV experts to make sense of the nonsense modern politics keeps throwing at us!
Go deep to the root and crawl your way up!
1. A book is a mirror: if an ape looks into it an apostle is hardly likely to look out.
I have a strong connection with this quote.
A decade ago, when I first started exploring philosophy, I buzzed with enthusiasm and over-confidence. I decided to dive into western philosophy by straight away reading The World as Will and Idea by Arthur Schopenhauer. While I tried to convince myself that I understood everything he talked about — I didn’t have a clue! I didn’t know what The Principle of Sufficient Reason meant. Although, there were parts I underlined — I didn’t grasp the whole. I then realized that I had to start from the absolute basic. The root. So I read Plato, Aristotle, Kant to understand how western philosophy actually functions.
After this foundation, I turned to the same book and — things were clear!
A book indeed is like a mirror. We only grasp what we are capable of understanding. We only take in what we want to take in. The best solution is to work on a general understanding of things and be patient.
I hope these quotes have helped you see things in a new light and your thinking process now is different than it was before. This legendary German thinker sure knew how to dig deep. Make sure you share the wisdom available in this post to help spread free and deep thinking.