Johann Wolfgang von GoetheJohann Wolfgang von Goethe, (1749-1832) German writer, statesman

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Quote

“The moment men obtain perfect freedom, that moment they erect a stage for the manifestation of their faults. The strong characters begin to go wrong by excess of energy; the weak by remissness of action.”

Johann Wolfgang von GoetheJohann Wolfgang von Goethe
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Ratings and Comments

J Carlton, Calgary

In a state of Liberty all should be moderated by a system of justice.

Waffler, Smith

True and thought provoking. Are freedom of action is always hemmed in by considerations such as "what will others think or do", what will be the result of this choice or that one etcetera.

Al, DC
  • Reply
Al, DC    1/25/11

To paraphrase: be wary of what you wish for...

Anonymous, USA

There is someone somewhere that will always take advantage of the situation and turn it into a three ring circus. No one will ever agree on what perfect freedom is.

Mike, Norwalk

I have no idea what Johann is referencing as "perfect freedom". Freedom dictates that individuals may do as they please while not infringing on another. Freedom is a stage to manifest man's faults. Strong characters with an excess of energy do good, bad, etc. Freedom is the weak by remissness of action doing or not doing good, bad, etc. I like Al's "be wary of what you wish for" Freedom is defined by justice.

Mike, Norwalk

Oops, I forgot to rate the quote

Walter Clark, Fullerton

I think this is a liberal message; one of the few intellectual ones. "Remissness of action" is negligence on the part of those less than average in performance. Whereas "... go wrong by excess of energy" is a condemnation of those with above average performance. That sounds like he's saying when we are free, we are unequal and that's bad. See why this is a liberal sentiment? Contrast that with "Free men are not equal and equal men are not free."

E Archer, NYC

The truth sometimes hurts. Just another reason why individual liberty and the protection of individual rights is so important. Basically, Goethe is saying that power corrupts. Perhaps 'perfect freedom' means freedom from responsibility, in which corruption is inevitable.


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