“What I am and am capable of is by no means determined by my individuality. I am ugly, but I can buy for myself the most beautiful of women. Therefore I am not ugly, for the effect of ugliness – its deterrent power – is nullified by money” — Goethe
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In this quote, Goethe seems to be commenting on how financial wealth can compensate for or override certain personal shortcomings or attributes. While acknowledging his own physical “ugliness”, Goethe points out that money essentially negates the social effects or disadvantages that ugliness might normally confer, since wealth allows him to attract beautiful romantic partners.
His statement implies that monetary value acts as a substitute form of value when it comes to interpersonal attraction and relationships. Goethe appears to be arguing that a person’s inherent qualities alone do not fully determine their capabilities or social standing, as economic power provides alternate means of overcoming limitations that might stem from other aspects like physical appearance.