"We are living in a demented world. And we know it. It would not come as a surprise to anyone if tomorrow the madness gave way to a frenzy which would leave our poor Europe in a state of distracted stupor, with engines still turning and flags streaming in the breeze, but with the spirit gone."
"He who wishes to maintain that the past of mankind no longer has any absolute value in life ... must also be ready to deny his own life until the present moment, indeed in advance until the last moment, as worthless. He who realizes that culture is the giving of form will also see that the highest forms that it is given to the human spirit to recognize have always been, psychologically considered, such evasions from the present. Considerations such as these do not at all square with the direction of America's mind."
"Thanks to recent trends in the theory of knowledge, history is now better aware of its own worth and unassailability than it formerly was. It is precisely in its inexact character, in the fact that it can never be normative and does not have to be, that its security lies."
"We have to transpose ourselves into this impressionability of mind, into this sensitivity to tears and spiritual repentance, into this susceptibility, before we can judge how colorful and intensive life was then."
"But one sound always rose above the clamor of busy life and, no matter how much of a tintinnabulation, was never confused and, for a moment lifted everything into an ordered sphere: that of the bells."
"Our medieval historians who prefer to rely as much as possible on official documents because the chronicles are unreliable, fall thereby into an occasionally dangerous error. The documents tell us little about the difference in tone which separates us from those times; they let us forget the fervent pathos of medieval life."
"During medieval times, all those emotions were missing which have made us cautious and tentative in matters of justice: the insight into diminished capacity, the concept of judicial fallibility, the awareness that society has to share in the blame for the guilt of individuals, the question whether an individual ought not be rehabilitated rather than made to suffer. Or, perhaps, better stated: a vague sense of all this is not lacking, but rather concentrates itself, unverbalized, in instant impulses of charity and forgiveness, unconcerned with the issue of guilt, which could suddenly break through the cruel satisfaction over the administration of justice. While we administer a hesitant, toned down justice, partially filled with a guilty conscience, the Middle Ages knew only two extremes: the full measure of cruel punishment or mercy."
"When the world was half a thousand years younger all events had much sharper outlines than now. The distance between sadness and joy, between good and bad fortune, seemed to be much greater than for us; every experience had that degree of directness and absoluteness which joy and sadness still have in the mind of a child"
"There is not to be found, in all history, any miracle attested by a sufficient number of men, of such unquestioned good sense, education, and learning, as to secure us against all delusion in themselves ... beyond all suspicion of any design to deceive others ... and at the same time attesting facts, performed in such a public manner, and in so celebrated a part of the world, as to render the detection unavoidable."