EP 7: Gotthold Lessing quote “For me the greatest beauty always lies in the greatest clarity”

In this episode of the Merkol Podcast, we analyzed the famous Gotthold Lessing Quote, which goes:

“For me the greatest beauty always lies in the greatest clarity”

Gotthold Lessing quote
Gotthold Lessing quote “For me the greatest beauty always lies in the greatest clarity”

Who is Gotthold Lessing?

Most of this section is extracted from Gotthold Lessing’s Wikipedia page

Gotthold Ephraim Lessing was a German writer, philosopher, dramatist, publicist, and art critic. He was born in 1729 in Kamenz which is a small town in Germany. His father was a Lutheran minister and wrote on theology. Naturally, Lessing grew up to be fond of Theology.

Early in his life, Lessing showed interest in the theatre. He has written numerous plays, with the most notable ones being Miss Sara Sampson and Emilia Galotti.

He devoted the latter part of his life to theology and religion. He always questioned the concept of ‘Proof of power’ in religion.

Nathan the Wise by Gotthold Lessing
Nathan the Wise by Gotthold Lessing. Source: Open Edition

How can miracles continue to be used as a base for Christianity when we have no proof of miracles? Historical truths which are in doubt cannot be used to prove metaphysical truths (such as God’s existence).

As Lessing says it: “That, then, is the ugly great ditch which I cannot cross, however often and however earnestly I have tried to make that leap.”

His most notable work on religion is his play, ‘Nathan the wise’ where the play revolves around a question that is asked to Nathan. The question is based on which religion is better between Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. Nathan avoids the question by telling the parable of the three rings, which implies the idea that no specific religion is the “correct religion.”

He believed that religion is relative to the individual’s ability to reason. He believed that human reason would develop, even without help by a divine revelation.

What is Clarity according to the Gotthold Lessing Quote?

Clarity is knowing precisely what it is that you want. It is a pretty simple thing to understand but it gets really difficult when you actually start to implement it.

You would have heard people say that they lack meaning in life and that they don’t know where life is headed. It is a simple case lacking enough clarity.

But achieving that clarity is the tricky part. There is a lot of work you need to do behind it. Some people achieve clarity early, some a little later. But not thinking about this is a sure way to not achieving clarity.

People have said that when you do find it, it is such a surreal feeling.

This is why, according to Gotthold Lessing, The greatest beauty lies in the ability to know where it is that you want your life to go.

Clarity is the biggest weapon in one’s life. Such is the power it holds.

Why Clarity is power?

My friend told me recently about his days on the track testing out his new motorbike. The first thing that racers learn in their career is the power of clarity. That is the first piece of advice/lesson they get.

“Look where you want to go”

Advice to racers

This is important because in racing if you are not focused then it is a recipe for disaster. Even if every other racer is crashing all around you, the first thing you need to do is be clear of where it is you want to go and look at that place.

Irrespective of your experience, if you look at the racer next to you, you will go towards him and that is the last thing you want.

The same principle applies to humans.

Human lives are filled with distractions. Our minds keep racing from one thing to another without giving proper time and thought to each one.

Clarity has this cascading positive effect. Having clarity minimizes doubt, confusion and increases self-confidence. Having confidence can help with the frustration in you when as you are more clear because you have less confusion. You feel more energized as you can now focus solely on one important thing and pursue it with all our energy.

When you have clarity you have a reason, when you have a reason you find meaning and purpose, when you have a purpose you will clear out the unnecessary distractions from your life, when you do that you will be happier.

The natural follow-up question to all this is if clarity is so important in life then how do I go about finding it.

How do you achieve clarity in life?

Clarity is all about attaching reason to the work we do and that can be done by asking ourselves four questions.

Understood Clarity GIF - Understood Clarity Straightforward - Discover &  Share GIFs

Let’s do this with the help of a scenario where you feel you are stuck at your dead-end job. Now let’s see what the four questions are:

#who

This is easy. The answer is you based on the above scenario.

But in some cases, you could be looking for clarity in terms of other people so as to study them. You can figure out why another person has done what he is doing.

#what

Need to find clarity on working at my dead-end 9-5 job.

Understanding what is a very important component of this process. You need to be self-aware to figure out what is bothering you and you need the bravery in accepting that this certain aspect of your life is actually a problem.

You need bravery because most people shy away from change because they fear it. This fear is because they are not sure of the outcome of that change.

#why

Why are you doing the thing that is bothering you?

In the above scenario, you are working there because you need the money, or you need the recognition this job brings you, the respect this job brings you.

Other reasons could be that your colleagues are not the best to be around with. Sometimes there are reasons that you don’t know what to do if you did not do this job.

Best Wire In The Blood GIFs | Gfycat

You need to understand the reasons that are cropping in your mind and you need to validate these reasons to yourself. In this process, you will figure out the stuff that you do not have a valid reason for doing it. If you do not have a valid reason for doing the job, the next is figuring how to best change it.

#how

How can you leave the job that is bothering you and still be able to pay your bills?

Do you have something in mind, like an idea to pursue once you quit your job? If no, then would it make more sense to just be at this job a few more months and on the weekends and evenings you figure out what it is you want to do. Would this make you happy?

If your colleagues are the reason, could you request a change of team to your manager? or would working from home on more days help as you would be away from your colleagues?

No one can figure it all out on the first day, you need to come up with something that makes sense to you with the things you know and understand at the particular point in your life.

If your reasons are valid enough for you, then who cares what anybody else thinks. But keep in mind that these reasons that you are ok with now could change along with age, at that time you need the humility to accept that your reasons are not that great and be brave enough to alter the path you are on.

Always seek clarity in everything you do. Then your hours and days will have meaning to it.


The thing that you have clarity on sometimes may not be the right thing to do or may not be morally right, but it makes sense to you at that point in time so you do it.

For example, the suicide bomber is clear on why he needs to sacrifice himself. All the reasons why he is ready to die are all valid for him and he does it.

Hilter was clear on his reasons for all the terrorizing stuff he did and his soldiers/followers also found reason in his words when they carried out his monstrous plans.

Whether you plan to do something morally good or morally bad, you need clarity. Clarity gives you confidence, this, in turn, gives you the power to accomplish what you want to do.

How you become morally right is another example article altogether. Let me know in the comments if you want me to write that one as well.

Closing:

Finding clarity is one of the most rewarding experiences you can give yourself. And the best part is you can continue giving yourself the gift of clarity each time you feel a little lost.

Hope you enjoyed this article. If you did not agree with what I have mentioned or if you have anything extra to add to this article then please do share it in the comments section below. Let’s learn together.

Podcast:

I have recorded a podcast on the same quote. But it is in Tamil. If you know the language then please do listen to this. Do let me know if you like it. Here is the link:

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