Goethe on philosophies of life

Quotation from the distinguished German writer

From Goethe's Maxims and Reflections:

806. Every stage of life corresponds to a certain philosophy. A child appears a realist; for it is as certain of the existence of pears and apples as it is of its own being. A young man, caught up in the storm of his inner passions, has to pay attention to himself, look and feel ahead; he is transformed into an idealist. A grown man, on the other hand, has every reason to be a skeptic; he is well advised to doubt whether the means he has chosen to achieve his purpose can really be right. Before action and in the course of action he has every reason to keep his mind flexible so that he will not have to grieve later on about a wrong choice. An old man, however, will always avow mysticism. He sees that so much seems to depend on chance: unreason succeeds, reason fails, fortune and misfortune unexpectedly come to the same thing in the end; this is how things are, how they were, and old age comes to rest in him who is, who was and ever will be.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Maxims and Reflections
Translated by Elisabeth Stopp
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