Henri Amiel (1821 – 1881) was a Swiss philosopher and poet. Born in Geneva, in 1849 he was appointed professor of aesthetics at the academy of Geneva, and in 1854 became professor of moral philosophy. The one book by which Amiel is still known, the Journal Intime (“Private Journal”), was published after his death and obtained a European reputation. Although modest in volume of output, Amiel’s Journal gained a sympathy that the author did not obtain in his life.
Quotes by Henri Amiel…
He who asks of life nothing but the improvement of his own nature, and a continuous good progress towards inner contentment and spiritual submission, is less likely than anyone else to miss and waste life.
We are free only so far as we are not dupes of ourselves, our pretexts, our instincts, our temperament. We are freed by energy and the critical spirit — that is to say, by detachment of soul, by self-government. So that we are enslaved, but susceptible of freedom; we are bound, but capable of shaking off our bonds.
He who floats with the current, who does not guide himself according to higher principles, who has no ideal, no convictions — such a man is… a thing moved, instead of a living and moving being — an echo, not a voice. The man who has no inner life is a slave of his surroundings, as the barometer is the obedient servant of the air.
The true critic strives for a clear vision of things as they are… his effort is to get free from himself, so that he may in no way distort that which he wishes to understand or reproduce. His superiority to the common herd lies in this effort… He distrusts his own senses, he sifts his own impressions, by returning upon them from different sides and at different times, by comparing, moderating, shading, distinguishing, and so endeavouring to approach more and more nearly to the formula which represents the maximum of truth.
The individual fears ridicule above all things, and ridicule is the certain result of originality. No one, therefore, wishes to make a party of his own; everyone wishes to be on the side of all the world.
The man who has no refuge in himself, who lives, so to speak, in his front rooms, in the outer whirlwind of things and opinions, is not properly speaking a personality at all; he is not distinct, free, original, a cause — in a word, someone. He is one of the crowd, a taxpayer, an elector, an anonymity, but not a man.
Liberty in submission: what a problem! And yet that is what we must always come back to.
I love everything, and dislike one thing only: the desperate imprisonment of my being… Liberty for the inner man is then the strongest of my passions — perhaps my only passion.
We must fight the fight! We only find rest in effort.
Nothing is more hidden from us than the illusion which lives with us day by day, and our greatest illusion is to believe that we are what we think ourselves to be.