“Every age of man has its own appropriate philosophy. The child appears as a realist; for he finds himself as much convinced of the existence of pears and apples as of his own. The youth, overwhelmed by inner passions, must observe himself, feel his way forward; he is transformed into an idealist. On the other hand, the man has every reason for becoming a skeptic; he does well to doubt whether the means he has chosen for the purpose is indeed the right one. Before acting, in acting, he has every reason for keeping his intelligence mobile, so that he need not subsequently be sorry for having made the wrong choice. The old man, however, will always espouse mysticism. He sees that so much seems to depend on chance: the irrational is successful, the rational fails, fortune and misfortune unexpectedly coincide; so it is, so it was, and old age finds comfort in Him who is, who was, and also who will be.“
I originally read this in the summer of 1971 in “First German Reader: A Beginner's Dual-Language Book” ed. by H. Steinhauer. Published 1964. Library of Congress Number 64-7673. page 89-90. Today, I learned that the quote derives from maxim #390 from “The Maxims and Reflections” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe which he published in 1794.