Goethe and True Will
One of the beautiful things about a reading project is, of course, the incredible things you get to read.
So many things I come across that I want to share, but this one plain stopped me in my tracks:
“When, namely, the youth of a man falls into a pregnant time, when production outweighs destruction, and in him the presentiment is early awakened as to what such an epoch demands and promises, he will then, forced by outward inducements into an active interest, take hold, now here, now there, and the wish to be active on many sides will become lively within him. But now human limitation is associated with so many accidental hindrances, that here a thing once begun remains unfinished, there a thing once grasped falls from the hand, and one wish crumbles away after another. But if these wishes had sprung out of a pure heart, suited to the requirements of the time, one could quietly let them fall right and left, and be assured that not only must this be found out and picked up again, but also that many kindred things, which one has never touched, yes, and never even thought of, will come to light. If now we see during our lifetime that performed by others, to which we ourselves felt an earlier call, which we had been obliged to give up with much besides, then the beautiful feeling enters the mind that only mankind taken together is the true man, and that the individual can only be joyful and happy when he has the courage to feel himself in the whole.”
(Autobiography; Book IX)
And that is, I think, one of the best expressions of a mature concept of “True Will” that I have ever encountered. One sees themselves in a local perspective and with clear boundaries, but one actually exists in continuance of everything else that also is. If you are honest and engaged with your world, then your innermost desires come from and go out into that world — expressions which begin with you are concluded by other hands far from you. And your innermost secrets are actually thoughts you picked up from others.
No comments yet.