Written By: George Seaver Reviewed Edition: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1947 Hardcover, 346 Pages No ISBN Shown Quotes Table of Contents
This is a terrific book for anyone unfamiliar with Schweitzer. It begins with a biography, and follows with a discussion of his major publications. That makes it unusual; I'm not aware of another biography that covers both the person and his works. For Schweitzer, this is ideal because the man must not be separated from his ethics. A simple biography alone may leave a reader with an impression of "well, he was a great man but has little to do with me." Similarly, a discussion of his publications alone may result in "impressive sophistry, but not something that a person could really do." Both together make it clear that not only are his ethics technically impressive, but practical also.
Unfortunately, this book has long been out of print. You may be able to find it in a used book store (as I did) or have a store do a used-book search for it. It will be worth it.
"When ... I asked Albert Schweitzer for a message to children ... he said 'Tell them that the truths they feel deep down in their hearts are the real truths. God's love speaks to us in our hearts and tries to work through us in the world. We must listen to that voice; we must listen to it as a pure and distant melody that comes to us across the noise of the world's doings... '"
[Quoting Schweitzer from an address to Oxford University titled 'The Philosophical Development of Goethe'] "He fully realized that in the realm of the finite there are everywhere limits to investigation. His aim is to understand that which is conceivable; all that is inconceivable he reverenced as a mystery. He repudiated the idea that anyone could construct a notion of Pure Being; he remained satisfied with the belief that the spiritual reveals itself in the natural."
[Quoting a summary which Schweitzer wrote of his Hibbert Lectures to Oxford University, October 1934] "It is a distorted habit of mind which identifies the real with the actual. In any philosophy worthy of the name, the real is always the ideal, the actual merely the apparent. In genuine philosophy the word ideal signifies what ought to be realized, and is realizable. The perversion of modern thought consists in this, that it understands 'realism' to signify what is in the sense of what occurs; that is, it confounds the real with the actual and so with the apparent."
[Quoting Schweitzer from Memoirs of Childhood and Youth] "Not one of us knows what effect his life produces, and what he gives to others; that is hidden from us and must remain so...
None of us can truly assert that he really knows someone else, even if he has lived with him for years. Of that which constitutes our inner life we can impart even to those most intimate with us only fragments; the whole of it we cannot give, nor would they be able to comprehend it. ...
To this fact, that we are each a secret to the other, we have to reconcile ourselves."
[Quoting Schweitzer from My Life and Thought] "Only a person who can find a value in every sort of activity and devote himself to each one with full consciousness of duty has the inward right to take as his object some extraordinary activity instead of that which falls naturally to his lot."
[Quoting Schweitzer from Memoirs of Childhood and Youth] "... the great secret of success is to go through life as a man who never gets used up."
Conclusion Appendix 1: Civilization and Colonization Appendix 2: Goethe Appendix 3: Religion in Modern Civilization Index
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