Albert Schweitzer citations

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Albert Schweitzer

Date de naissance: 14. janvier 1875
Date de décès: 4. septembre 1965

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Albert Schweitzer, né le 14 janvier 1875 à Kaysersberg et mort le 4 septembre 1965 à Lambaréné , est un médecin, pasteur et théologien protestant, philosophe et musicien alsacien.

L'hôpital qu'il développe dans la forêt équatoriale au bord de l'Ogooué à partir de 1913 le fait connaître dans le monde entier. En 1952, l'attribution du prix Nobel de la paix lui apporte la consécration et une visibilité médiatique considérable.

Personnage marquant du XXe siècle, « homme universel », il est en même temps une figure emblématique de l'Alsace, de la théologie libérale ou des admirateurs de Jean-Sébastien Bach. On voit parfois en lui un précurseur de l'action humanitaire, de l'écologie, de l'antispécisme et du désarmement nucléaire.

La notion de « respect de la vie » et son indignation devant la souffrance sont au cœur de la démarche d'Albert Schweitzer, qui s'est voulu « un homme au service d'autres hommes », tourné vers l'action.

Nourri d'une double culture allemande et française, il bénéficie d'une aura internationale, mais, à l'exception de son Alsace natale, son œuvre reste peu connue en France où elle a été diffusée plus tardivement. L'auteur prolifique a laissé de nombreux travaux, sermons, lettres et documents, pas encore tous exploités. De leur côté, témoins, disciples et détracteurs, en Europe ou en Afrique, apportent des points de vue contrastés, que la recherche s'emploie à mettre en perspective.

Citations Albert Schweitzer

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„Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace.“

— Albert Schweitzer
Variant translation: Until he extends his circle of compassion to include all living things, man will not himself find peace. Variant translation: Until we extend the circle of compassion to all living things, we will not ourselves find peace.

„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
Context: The restoration of our world-view can 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.

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„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
Context: 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.

„For in world- and life-affirmation and in ethics I carry out the will of the universal will-to-live which reveals itself in me. 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.
Rational thinking which is free from assumptions ends therefore in mysticism.“

— Albert Schweitzer
Context: Affirmation of the world, which means affirmation of the will-to-live that manifests itself around me, is only possible if I devote myself to other life. From an inner necessity, I exert myself in producing values and practising ethics in the world and on the world even though I do not understand the meaning of the world. For in world- and life-affirmation and in ethics I carry out the will of the universal will-to-live which reveals itself in me. 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. Rational thinking which is free from assumptions ends therefore in mysticism. To relate oneself in the spirit of reverence for life to the multiform manifestations of the will-to-live which together constitute the world is ethical mysticism. All profound world-view is mysticism, the essence of which is just this: that out of my unsophisticated and naïve existence in the world there comes, as a result of thought about self and the world, spiritual self-devotion to the mysterious infinite Will which is continuously manifested in the universe.

„Only by means of reverence for life can we establish a spiritual and humane relationship with both people and all living creatures within our reach. Only in this fashion can we avoid harming others, and, within the limits of our capacity, go to their aid whenever they need us.“

— Albert Schweitzer
Context: At sunset of the third day, near the village of Igendja, we moved along an island set in the middle of the wide river. On a sandback to our left, four hippopotamuses and their young plodded along in our same direction. Just then, in my great tiredness and discouragement, the phrase "Reverence for Life" struck me like a flash. As far as I knew, it was a phrase I had never heard nor ever read. I realized at once that it carried within itself the solution to the problem that had been torturing me. Now I knew that a system of values which concerns itself only with our relationship to other people is incomplete and therefore lacking in power for good. Only by means of reverence for life can we establish a spiritual and humane relationship with both people and all living creatures within our reach. Only in this fashion can we avoid harming others, and, within the limits of our capacity, go to their aid whenever they need us.

„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.“

— Albert Schweitzer
Context: Reverence for life, veneratio vitæ, is the most direct and at the same time the profoundest achievement of my will-to-live. In reverence for life my knowledge passes into experience. The simple world- and life-affirmation which is within me just because I am will-to-live has, therefore, no need to enter into controversy with itself, if my will-to-live learns to think and yet does not understand the meaning of the world. In spite of the negative results of knowledge, I have to hold fast to world- and life-affirmation and deepen it. 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.

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„The destiny of men has to fulfill itself in a thousand ways, so that goodness may be actualized. What every individual has to contribute remains his own secret. But we must all mutually share in the knowledge that our existence only attains its true value when we have experienced in ourselves the truth of the declaration: 'He who loses his life shall find it.'“

— Albert Schweitzer
Context: The ethic of reverence for life constrains all, in whatever walk of life they may find themselves, to busy themselves intimately with all the human and vital processes which are being played out around them, and to give themselves as men to the man who needs human help and sympathy. It does not allow the scholar to live for his science alone, even if he is very useful to the community in so doing. It does not permit the artist to exist only for his art, even if he gives inspiration to many by its means. It refuses to let the business man imagine that he fulfills all legitimate demands in the course of his business activities. It demands from all that they should sacrifice a portion of their own lives for others. In what way and in what measure this is his duty, this everyone must decide on the basis of the thoughts which arise in himself, and the circumstances which attend the course of his own life. The self-sacrifice of one may not be particularly in evidence. He carries it out simply by continuing his normal life. Another is called to some striking self-surrender which obliges him to set on one side all regard for his own progress. Let no one measure himself by his conclusions respecting someone else. The destiny of men has to fulfill itself in a thousand ways, so that goodness may be actualized. What every individual has to contribute remains his own secret. But we must all mutually share in the knowledge that our existence only attains its true value when we have experienced in ourselves the truth of the declaration: 'He who loses his life shall find it. p. 267

„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.“

— Albert Schweitzer
Context: 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. We have too long been occupied with the developing series of our own philosophical systems, and have taken no notice of the fact that there is a world-philosophy of which our Western philosophy is only a part. If, however, one conceives philosophy as being a struggle to reach a view of the world as a whole, and seeks out the elementary convictions which are to deepen it and give it a sure foundation, one cannot avoid setting our own thought face to face with that of the Hindus, and of the Chinese in the Far East. … Our Western philosophy, if judged by its own latest pronouncements, is much naiver than we admit to ourselves, and we fail to perceive this only because we have acquired the art of expressing what is simple in a pedantic way.

„The ethical ideas on which civilization rests have been wandering about the world, poverty-stricken and homeless.“

— Albert Schweitzer
Context: 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. Ch. 1 How Philosophy is Responsible for the Collapse of Civilization

„Reverence for life, veneratio vitæ, is the most direct and at the same time the profoundest achievement of my will-to-live.“

— Albert Schweitzer
Context: Reverence for life, veneratio vitæ, is the most direct and at the same time the profoundest achievement of my will-to-live. In reverence for life my knowledge passes into experience. The simple world- and life-affirmation which is within me just because I am will-to-live has, therefore, no need to enter into controversy with itself, if my will-to-live learns to think and yet does not understand the meaning of the world. In spite of the negative results of knowledge, I have to hold fast to world- and life-affirmation and deepen it. 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.

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