Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Rejoinder (Pursuit of Truth)

Not the truth which someone possesses or believes he possesses, but the honest effort he has made to get at the truth, constitutes a human being’s worth. For it is not through the possession of truth, but through its pursuit, that his powers are enlarged, and it is in this alone that his ever-growing perfection lies. Possession makes us inactive, lazy, and proud.

If God had locked up all truth in his right hand, and in his left hand the unique, ever-living quest for truth, albeit on the condition that I should always and eternally err, and said to me: “Choose!”, I would humbly clasp his left hand and say: “Father, give! For pure truth is for you alone!”


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