This article is a speech by Albert Einstein to the German League of
Human Rights, Berlin, in the autumn of 1932. This short speech appears in
the Appendix of Einstein by Michael White and John Gribbin, Dutton,
Penguin Books USA Inc., New York, 1994, p. 262.
Our situation on this earth seems strange. Every one of us appears here
involuntarily and uninvited for a short stay, without knowing the whys and
In our daily lives we only feel that man is here for the
sake of others, for those whom we love and for many other beings whose
fate is connected with our own.
am often worried at the thought that my life is based to such a large
extent on the work of my fellow human beings and I am aware of my great
indebtedness to them.
I do not believe in freedom of the will.
Schopenhauer's words: 'Man can do what he wants, but he cannot will what
he wills' accompany me in all situations throughout my life and reconcile
me with the actions of others even if they are rather painful to me. This
awareness of the lack of freedom of will preserves me from taking too
seriously myself and my fellow men as acting and deciding individuals and
from losing my temper.
I never coveted affluence and luxury and even
despise them a good deal. My passion for social justice has often brought
me into conflict with people, as did my aversion to any obligation and
dependence I do not regard as absolutely necessary.
I always have a high
regard for the individual and have an insuperable distaste for violence
and clubmanship. All these motives made me into a passionate pacifist and
I am against any nationalism, even in the guise of mere
Privileges based on position and property have always seemed to
me unjust and pernicious, as did any exaggerated personality cult. I am an
adherent of the ideal of democracy, although I well know the weaknesses of
the democratic form of government. Social equality and economic protection
of the individual appeared to me always as the important communal aims of
Although I am a typical loner in daily life, my consciousness of
belonging to the invisible community of those who strive for truth,
beauty, and justice has preserved me from feeling isolated.
beautiful and deepest experience a man can have is the sense of the
mysterious. It is the underlying principle of religion as well as all
serious endeavor in art and science. He who never had this experience
seems to me, if not dead, then at least blind.
To sense that behind
anything that can be experienced there is a something that our mind cannot
grasp and whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly and as a
feeble reflection, this is religiousness. In this sense I am religious.
me it suffices to wonder at these secrets and to attempt humbly to grasp
with my mind a mere image of the lofty structure of all that there is.
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