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Title: On the Future of our Educational Institutions - Homer and Classical Philology - Complete Works, Volume Three
Author: Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm
Language: English
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The Complete Works of Friedrich Nietzsche

The First Complete and Authorised English Translation

Edited by Dr Oscar Levy

Volume Three








"On the Future of our Educational Institutions" comprehends a series
of five lectures delivered by Nietzsche when Professor of Classical
Philology at Băle University. As they were prepared when he was only
twenty-seven years of age, we can scarcely expect to find in them that
broad, "good European" point of view which we meet with in his later
works. These lectures, however, are not only highly interesting in
themselves; but indispensable for those who wish to trace the gradual
development of Nietzsche's thought.

Nietzsche's aim, as is now pretty well known, was the elevation of the
type man. At this period of his life he believed that this end could
be best attained by the protection and careful development of men of
genius, Hence his antagonism in the following lectures towards the
purely time-serving German schools and colleges of his age, in which
culture was not only neglected but not even known--the one aim of the
teachers being to instruct the pupils in the art of "getting on," of
playing a successful part in the struggle for existence, of becoming
useful citizens. Of course, Nietzsche was too little of a wild reformer
to be adverse to a schooling of this nature. He freely admits that
a bread-winning education is necessary for the majority, and that
officials are necessary to the State; but he adds that everything
learnt as a preparation for taking part in the commercial or political
battle of life has nothing to do with culture. True culture is only for
a few select minds, which it is necessary to bring together under the
protecting roof of an institution that shall prepare them for culture,
and for culture only. Such an institution, he goes on to say, does not
yet exist; but we must have it if the delicate flower of the German
mind is no longer to be choked by the noxious weeds which have gathered
round it. As instances of minds thus "choked," Nietzsche mentions
Lessing, Winckelmann, and Schiller.

The standard of culture to be aimed at by the man of genius Nietzsche
had in mind was to be found in the model literary and artistic
works which have come down to us from ancient Greece. To understand
these works, of course, the classical authors had to be studied in
the original, and the methods of teaching then in vogue paid too
much attention to inconsequential points (e.g. variant readings)
instead of dealing with the subject in a broad-minded philosophical
spirit. Nietzsche endeavoured to counteract this tendency in the
"Homer and Classical Philology," his inaugural address at Băle
University, by outlining a much vaster conception of philology than
his fellow-teachers had ever dreamt of, laying stress upon the
artistic results which would accrue if the science were applied on a
wider scale--results which would be of a much higher order than those
obtained by the narrow pedantry then prevailing.

It is a very superficial comment on these lectures to say that
Nietzsche was merely referring to the German schools and colleges
of his time. It would be even shallower to suggest that his remarks
do not apply to the schools and teachers of present-day England and
America; for we likewise do not possess the cultural institution, the
real educational establishment, that Nietzsche longed for. Broadly
speaking, the English public schools, the older English universities,
and the American high schools, train their scholars to be useful to
the State: the modern universities and the remaining schools give that
instructionin bread-winning which Nietzsche admits to be necessary
for the majority; but in no case is an attempt made to pick out a few
higher minds and train them for culture. Our crude methods of teaching
the classical languages are too well known to be commented upon; and
an insight into classical antiquity, with the good taste, the firm
principles, and the lofty aims obtained therefrom, is exactly what
our various educational institutions do not aim at giving. Yet, as
Nietzsche truly says, no progress in any other direction, no matter
how brilliant, can deliver our students from the curse of an education
which adapts itself more and more to the needs of the age, and thus
loses all its power of guiding the age. Let the student who, as the
victim of this system, suffers more from it than his teachers care to
admit, read the paragraph on pp. 132 and 133 containing the sentences--

    He feels that he can neither lead nor help himself.... His
    condition is undignified, even dreadful: he keeps between
    the two extremes of work at high pressure and a state of
    melancholy enervation.... He seeks consolation in hasty and
    incessant action so as to hide himself from himself, etc.,

and then let him confess that Nietzsche's insight into his psychology
is profound and decisive. The whole paragraph might have been written
by Nietzsche after a visit to present-day England.

As bearing upon the same subject, the reader will find it interesting
to compare the lectures here translated with Matthew Arnold's prose
writings passim, particularly the Essays in Criticism, Mixed Essays,
and Culture and Anarchy.


LONDON, May 1909.


The reader from whom I expect something must possess three qualities:
he must be calm and must read without haste; he must not be ever
interposing his own personality and his own special "culture"; and he
must not expect as the ultimate results of his study of these pages
that he will be presented with a set of new formulæ. I do not propose
to furnish formulæ or new plans of study for _Gymnasia_ or other
schools; and I am much more inclined to admire the extraordinary power
of those who are able to cover the whole distance between the depths
of empiricism and the heights of special culture-problems, and who
again descend to the level of the driest rules and the most neatly
expressed formulæ. I shall be content if only I can ascend a tolerably
lofty mountain, from the summit of which, after having recovered my
breath, I may obtain a general survey of the ground; for I shall never
be able, in this book, to satisfy the votaries of tabulated rules.
Indeed, I see a time coming when serious men, working together in the
service of a completely rejuvenated and purified culture, may again
become the directors of a system of everyday instruction, calculated
to promote that culture; and they will probably be compelled once more
to draw up sets of rules: but how remote this time now seems! And what
may not happen meanwhile! It is just possible that between now and
then all _Gymnasia_--yea, and perhaps all universities, may be
destroyed, or have become so utterly transformed that their very
regulations may, in the eyes of future generations, seem to be but the
relics of the cave-dwellers' age.

This book is intended for calm readers,--for men who have not yet been
drawn into the mad headlong rush of our hurry-skurrying age, and who
do not experience any idolatrous delight in throwing themselves
beneath its chariot-wheels. It is for men, therefore, who are not
accustomed to estimate the value of everything according to the amount
of time it either saves or wastes. In short, it is for the few. These,
we believe, "still have time." Without any qualms of conscience they
may improve the most fruitful and vigorous hours of their day in
meditating on the future of our education; they may even believe when
the evening has come that they have used their day in the most
dignified and useful way, namely, in the _meditatio generis futuri_.
No one among them has yet forgotten to think while reading a book; he
still understands the secret of reading between the lines, and is
indeed so generous in what he himself brings to his study, that he
continues to reflect upon what he has read, perhaps long after he has
laid the book aside. And he does this, not because he wishes to write
a criticism about it or even another book; but simply because
reflection is a pleasant pastime to him. Frivolous spendthrift! Thou
art a reader after my own heart; for thou wilt be patient enough to
accompany an author any distance, even though he himself cannot yet
see the goal at which he is aiming,--even though he himself feels only
that he must at all events honestly believe in a goal, in order that a
future and possibly very remote generation may come face to face with
that towards which we are now blindly and instinctively groping.
Should any reader demur and suggest that all that is required is
prompt and bold reform; should he imagine that a new "organisation"
introduced by the State, were all that is necessary, then we fear he
would have misunderstood not only the author but the very nature of
the problem under consideration.

The third and most important stipulation is, that he should in no case
be constantly bringing himself and his own "culture" forward, after
the style of most modern men, as the correct standard and measure of
all things. We would have him so highly educated that he could even
think meanly of his education or despise it altogether. Only thus
would he be able to trust entirely to the author's guidance; for it is
only by virtue of ignorance and his consciousness of ignorance, that
the latter can dare to make himself heard. Finally, the author would
wish his reader to be fully alive to the specific character of our
present barbarism and of that which distinguishes us, as the
barbarians of the nineteenth century, from other barbarians.

Now, with this book in his hand, the writer seeks all those who may
happen to be wandering, hither and thither, impelled by feelings
similar to his own. Allow yourselves to be discovered--ye lonely ones
in whose existence I believe! Ye unselfish ones, suffering in
yourselves from the corruption of the German spirit! Ye contemplative
ones who cannot, with hasty glances, turn your eyes swiftly from one
surface to another! Ye lofty thinkers, of whom Aristotle said that ye
wander through life vacillating and inactive so long as no great
honour or glorious Cause calleth you to deeds! It is you I summon!
Refrain this once from seeking refuge in your lairs of solitude and
dark misgivings. Bethink you that this book was framed to be your
herald. When ye shall go forth to battle in your full panoply, who
among you will not rejoice in looking back upon the herald who rallied


The title I gave to these lectures ought, like all titles, to have
been as definite, as plain, and as significant as possible; now,
however, I observe that owing to a certain excess of precision, in its
present form it is too short and consequently misleading. My first
duty therefore will be to explain the title, together with the object
of these lectures, to you, and to apologise for being obliged to do
this. When I promised to speak to you concerning the future of our
educational institutions, I was not thinking especially of the
evolution of our particular institutions in Bâle. However frequently
my general observations may seem to bear particular application to our
own conditions here, I personally have no desire to draw these
inferences, and do not wish to be held responsible if they should be
drawn, for the simple reason that I consider myself still far too much
an inexperienced stranger among you, and much too superficially
acquainted with your methods, to pretend to pass judgment upon any
such special order of scholastic establishments, or to predict the
probable course their development will follow. On the other hand, I
know full well under what distinguished auspices I have to deliver
these lectures--namely, in a city which is striving to educate and
enlighten its inhabitants on a scale so magnificently out of
proportion to its size, that it must put all larger cities to shame.
This being so, I presume I am justified in assuming that in a quarter
where so much is _done_ for the things of which I wish to speak,
people must also _think_ a good deal about them. My desire--yea, my
very first condition, therefore, would be to become united in spirit
with those who have not only thought very deeply upon educational
problems, but have also the will to promote what they think to be
right by all the means in their power. And, in view of the
difficulties of my task and the limited time at my disposal, to such
listeners, alone, in my audience, shall I be able to make myself
understood--and even then, it will be on condition that they shall
guess what I can do no more than suggest, that they shall supply what
I am compelled to omit; in brief, that they shall need but to be
reminded and not to be taught. Thus, while I disclaim all desire of
being taken for an uninvited adviser on questions relating to the
schools and the University of Bâle, I repudiate even more emphatically
still the rôle of a prophet standing on the horizon of civilisation
and pretending to predict the future of education and of scholastic
organisation. I can no more project my vision through such vast
periods of time than I can rely upon its accuracy when it is brought
too close to an object under examination. With my title: _Our_
Educational Institutions, I wish to refer neither to the
establishments in Bâle nor to the incalculably vast number of other
scholastic institutions which exist throughout the nations of the
world to-day; but I wish to refer to _German institutions_ of the kind
which we rejoice in here. It is their future that will now engage our
attention, _i.e._ the future of German elementary, secondary, and
public schools (Gymnasien) and universities. While pursuing our
discussion, however, we shall for once avoid all comparisons and
valuations, and guard more especially against that flattering illusion
that our conditions should be regarded as the standard for all others
and as surpassing them. Let it suffice that they are our institutions,
that they have not become a part of ourselves by mere accident, and
were not laid upon us like a garment; but that they are living
monuments of important steps in the progress of civilisation, in some
respects even the furniture of a bygone age, and as such link us with
the past of our people, and are such a sacred and venerable legacy
that I can only undertake to speak of the future of our educational
institutions in the sense of their being a most probable approximation
to the ideal spirit which gave them birth. I am, moreover, convinced
that the numerous alterations which have been introduced into these
institutions within recent years, with the view of bringing them
up-to-date, are for the most part but distortions and aberrations of
the originally sublime tendencies given to them at their foundation.
And what we dare to hope from the future, in this behalf, partakes so
much of the nature of a rejuvenation, a reviviscence, and a refining
of the spirit of Germany that, as a result of this very process, our
educational institutions may also be indirectly remoulded and born
again, so as to appear at once old and new, whereas now they only
profess to be "modern" or "up-to-date."

Now it is only in the spirit of the hope above mentioned that I wish
to speak of the future of our educational institutions: and this is
the second point in regard to which I must tender an apology from the
outset. The "prophet" pose is such a presumptuous one that it seems
almost ridiculous to deny that I have the intention of adopting it.
No one should attempt to describe the future of our education, and
the means and methods of instruction relating thereto, in a prophetic
spirit, unless he can prove that the picture he draws already exists
in germ to-day, and that all that is required is the extension and
development of this embryo if the necessary modifications are to be
produced in schools and other educational institutions. All I ask,
is, like a Roman haruspex, to be allowed to steal glimpses of the
future out of the very entrails of existing conditions, which, in
this case, means no more than to hand the laurels of victory to any
one of the many forces tending to make itself felt in our present
educational system, despite the fact that the force in question may
be neither a favourite, an esteemed, nor a very extensive one. I
confidently assert that it will be victorious, however, because it
has the strongest and mightiest of all allies in nature herself; and
in this respect it were well did we not forget that scores of the
very first principles of our modern educational methods are
thoroughly artificial, and that the most fatal weaknesses of the
present day are to be ascribed to this artificiality. He who feels in
complete harmony with the present state of affairs and who acquiesces
in it _as something_ "_selbstverständliches_,"[1] excites our envy
neither in regard to his faith nor in regard to that egregious word
"_selbstverständlich_," so frequently heard in fashionable circles.

He, however, who holds the opposite view and is therefore in despair,
does not need to fight any longer: all he requires is to give himself
up to solitude in order soon to be alone. Albeit, between those who
take everything for granted and these anchorites, there stand the
_fighters_--that is to say, those who still have hope, and as the
noblest and sublimest example of this class, we recognise Schiller as
he is described by Goethe in his "Epilogue to the Bell."

    "Brighter now glow'd his cheek, and still more bright
    With that unchanging, ever youthful glow:--
    That courage which o'ercomes, in hard-fought fight,
    Sooner or later ev'ry earthly foe,--
    That faith which soaring to the realms of light,
    Now boldly presseth on, now bendeth low,
    So that the good may work, wax, thrive amain,
    So that the day the noble may attain."[2]

I should like you to regard all I have just said as a kind of preface,
the object of which is to illustrate the title of my lectures and to
guard me against any possible misunderstanding and unjustified
criticisms. And now, in order to give you a rough outline of the range
of ideas from which I shall attempt to form a judgment concerning our
educational institutions, before proceeding to disclose my views and
turning from the title to the main theme, I shall lay a scheme before
you which, like a coat of arms, will serve to warn all strangers who
come to my door, as to the nature of the house they are about to
enter, in case they may feel inclined, after having examined the
device, to turn their backs on the premises that bear it. My scheme is
as follows:--

Two seemingly antagonistic forces, equally deleterious in their
actions and ultimately combining to produce their results, are at
present ruling over our educational institutions, although these were
based originally upon very different principles. These forces are: a
striving to achieve the greatest possible _extension of education_ on
the one hand, and a tendency _to minimise and to weaken it_ on the
other. The first-named would fain spread learning among the greatest
possible number of people, the second would compel education to
renounce its highest and most independent claims in order to
subordinate itself to the service of the State. In the face of these
two antagonistic tendencies, we could but give ourselves up to
despair, did we not see the possibility of promoting the cause of two
other contending factors which are fortunately as completely German as
they are rich in promises for the future; I refer to the present
movement towards _limiting and concentrating_ education as the
antithesis of the first of the forces above mentioned, and that other
movement towards the _strengthening and the independence_ of education
as the antithesis of the second force. If we should seek a warrant for
our belief in the ultimate victory of the two last-named movements, we
could find it in the fact that both of the forces which we hold to be
deleterious are so opposed to the eternal purpose of nature as the
concentration of education for the few is in harmony with it, and is
true, whereas the first two forces could succeed only in founding a
culture false to the root.


[1] Selbstverständlich = "granted or self-understood."

[2] _The Poems of Goethe._ Edgar Alfred Bowring's Translation. (Ed.



(_Delivered on the 16th of January 1872._)

Ladies and Gentlemen,--The subject I now propose to consider with you
is such a serious and important one, and is in a sense so disquieting,
that, like you, I would gladly turn to any one who could proffer some
information concerning it,--were he ever so young, were his ideas ever
so improbable--provided that he were able, by the exercise of his own
faculties, to furnish some satisfactory and sufficient explanation. It
is just possible that he may have had the opportunity of _hearing_
sound views expressed in reference to the vexed question of the future
of our educational institutions, and that he may wish to repeat them
to you; he may even have had distinguished teachers, fully qualified
to foretell what is to come, and, like the _haruspices_ of Rome, able
to do so after an inspection of the entrails of the Present.

Indeed, you yourselves may expect something of this kind from me. I
happened once, in strange but perfectly harmless circumstances, to
overhear a conversation on this subject between two remarkable men,
and the more striking points of the discussion, together with their
manner of handling the theme, are so indelibly imprinted on my memory
that, whenever I reflect on these matters, I invariably find myself
falling into their grooves of thought. I cannot, however, profess to
have the same courageous confidence which they displayed, both in
their daring utterance of forbidden truths, and in the still more
daring conception of the hopes with which they astonished me. It
therefore seemed to me to be in the highest degree important that a
record of this conversation should be made, so that others might be
incited to form a judgment concerning the striking views and
conclusions it contains: and, to this end, I had special grounds for
believing that I should do well to avail myself of the opportunity
afforded by this course of lectures.

I am well aware of the nature of the community to whose serious
consideration I now wish to commend that conversation--I know it to be
a community which is striving to educate and enlighten its members on
a scale so magnificently out of proportion to its size that it must
put all larger cities to shame. This being so, I presume I may take it
for granted that in a quarter where so much is _done_ for the things
of which I wish to speak, people must also _think_ a good deal about
them. In my account of the conversation already mentioned, I shall be
able to make myself completely understood only to those among my
audience who will be able to guess what I can do no more than suggest,
who will supply what I am compelled to omit, and who, above all, need
but to be reminded and not taught.

Listen, therefore, ladies and gentlemen, while I recount my harmless
experience and the less harmless conversation between the two
gentlemen whom, so far, I have not named.

Let us now imagine ourselves in the position of a young student--that
is to say, in a position which, in our present age of bewildering
movement and feverish excitability, has become an almost impossible
one. It is necessary to have lived through it in order to believe that
such careless self-lulling and comfortable indifference to the moment,
or to time in general, are possible. In this condition I, and a friend
about my own age, spent a year at the University of Bonn on the
Rhine,--it was a year which, in its complete lack of plans and
projects for the future, seems almost like a dream to me now--a dream
framed, as it were, by two periods of growth. We two remained quiet
and peaceful, although we were surrounded by fellows who in the main
were very differently disposed, and from time to time we experienced
considerable difficulty in meeting and resisting the somewhat too
pressing advances of the young men of our own age. Now, however, that
I can look upon the stand we had to take against these opposing
forces, I cannot help associating them in my mind with those checks we
are wont to receive in our dreams, as, for instance, when we imagine
we are able to fly and yet feel ourselves held back by some
incomprehensible power.

I and my friend had many reminiscences in common, and these dated from
the period of our boyhood upwards. One of these I must relate to you,
since it forms a sort of prelude to the harmless experience already
mentioned. On the occasion of a certain journey up the Rhine, which we
had made together one summer, it happened that he and I independently
conceived the very same plan at the same hour and on the same spot,
and we were so struck by this unwonted coincidence that we determined
to carry the plan out forthwith. We resolved to found a kind of small
club which would consist of ourselves and a few friends, and the
object of which would be to provide us with a stable and binding
organisation directing and adding interest to our creative impulses in
art and literature; or, to put it more plainly: each of us would be
pledged to present an original piece of work to the club once a
month,--either a poem, a treatise, an architectural design, or a
musical composition, upon which each of the others, in a friendly
spirit, would have to pass free and unrestrained criticism.

We thus hoped, by means of mutual correction, to be able both to
stimulate and to chasten our creative impulses and, as a matter of
fact, the success of the scheme was such that we have both always felt
a sort of respectful attachment for the hour and the place at which it
first took shape in our minds.

This attachment was very soon transformed into a rite; for we all
agreed to go, whenever it was possible to do so, once a year to that
lonely spot near Rolandseck, where on that summer's day, while sitting
together, lost in meditation, we were suddenly inspired by the same
thought. Frankly speaking, the rules which were drawn up on the
formation of the club were never very strictly observed; but owing to
the very fact that we had many sins of omission on our conscience
during our student-year in Bonn, when we were once more on the banks
of the Rhine, we firmly resolved not only to observe our rule, but
also to gratify our feelings and our sense of gratitude by reverently
visiting that spot near Rolandseck on the day appointed.

It was, however, with some difficulty that we were able to carry our
plans into execution; for, on the very day we had selected for our
excursion, the large and lively students' association, which always
hindered us in our flights, did their utmost to put obstacles in our
way and to hold us back. Our association had organised a general
holiday excursion to Rolandseck on the very day my friend and I had
fixed upon, the object of the outing being to assemble all its members
for the last time at the close of the half-year and to send them home
with pleasant recollections of their last hours together.

The day was a glorious one; the weather was of the kind which, in our
climate at least, only falls to our lot in late summer: heaven and
earth merged harmoniously with one another, and, glowing wondrously in
the sunshine, autumn freshness blended with the blue expanse above.
Arrayed in the bright fantastic garb in which, amid the gloomy
fashions now reigning, students alone may indulge, we boarded a
steamer which was gaily decorated in our honour, and hoisted our flag
on its mast. From both banks of the river there came at intervals the
sound of signal-guns, fired according to our orders, with the view of
acquainting both our host in Rolandseck and the inhabitants in the
neighbourhood with our approach. I shall not speak of the noisy
journey from the landing-stage, through the excited and expectant
little place, nor shall I refer to the esoteric jokes exchanged
between ourselves; I also make no mention of a feast which became both
wild and noisy, or of an extraordinary musical production in the
execution of which, whether as soloists or as chorus, we all
ultimately had to share, and which I, as musical adviser of our club,
had not only had to rehearse, but was then forced to conduct. Towards
the end of this piece, which grew ever wilder and which was sung to
ever quicker time, I made a sign to my friend, and just as the last
chord rang like a yell through the building, he and I vanished,
leaving behind us a raging pandemonium.

In a moment we were in the refreshing and breathless stillness of
nature. The shadows were already lengthening, the sun still shone
steadily, though it had sunk a good deal in the heavens, and from the
green and glittering waves of the Rhine a cool breeze was wafted over
our hot faces. Our solemn rite bound us only in so far as the latest
hours of the day were concerned, and we therefore determined to employ
the last moments of clear daylight by giving ourselves up to one of
our many hobbies.

At that time we were passionately fond of pistol-shooting, and both of
us in later years found the skill we had acquired as amateurs of great
use in our military career. Our club servant happened to know the
somewhat distant and elevated spot which we used as a range, and had
carried our pistols there in advance. The spot lay near the upper
border of the wood which covered the lesser heights behind Rolandseck:
it was a small uneven plateau, close to the place we had consecrated
in memory of its associations. On a wooded slope alongside of our
shooting-range there was a small piece of ground which had been
cleared of wood, and which made an ideal halting-place; from it one
could get a view of the Rhine over the tops of the trees and the
brushwood, so that the beautiful, undulating lines of the Seven
Mountains and above all of the Drachenfels bounded the horizon against
the group of trees, while in the centre of the bow formed by the
glistening Rhine itself the island of Nonnenwörth stood out as if
suspended in the river's arms. This was the place which had become
sacred to us through the dreams and plans we had had in common, and to
which we intended to withdraw, later in the evening,--nay, to which we
should be obliged to withdraw, if we wished to close the day in
accordance with the law we had imposed on ourselves.

At one end of the little uneven plateau, and not very far away, there
stood the mighty trunk of an oak-tree, prominently visible against a
background quite bare of trees and consisting merely of low undulating
hills in the distance. Working together, we had once carved a
pentagram in the side of this tree-trunk. Years of exposure to rain
and storm had slightly deepened the channels we had cut, and the
figure seemed a welcome target for our pistol-practice. It was already
late in the afternoon when we reached our improvised range, and our
oak-stump cast a long and attenuated shadow across the barren heath.
All was still: thanks to the lofty trees at our feet, we were unable
to catch a glimpse of the valley of the Rhine below. The peacefulness
of the spot seemed only to intensify the loudness of our
pistol-shots--and I had scarcely fired my second barrel at the
pentagram when I felt some one lay hold of my arm and noticed that my
friend had also some one beside him who had interrupted his loading.

Turning sharply on my heels I found myself face to face with an
astonished old gentleman, and felt what must have been a very powerful
dog make a lunge at my back. My friend had been approached by a
somewhat younger man than I had; but before we could give expression
to our surprise the older of the two interlopers burst forth in the
following threatening and heated strain: "No! no!" he called to us,
"no duels must be fought here, but least of all must you young
students fight one. Away with these pistols and compose yourselves. Be
reconciled, shake hands! What?--and are you the salt of the earth,
the intelligence of the future, the seed of our hopes--and are you
not even able to emancipate yourselves from the insane code of honour
and its violent regulations? I will not cast any aspersions on your
hearts, but your heads certainly do you no credit. You, whose youth is
watched over by the wisdom of Greece and Rome, and whose youthful
spirits, at the cost of enormous pains, have been flooded with the
light of the sages and heroes of antiquity,--can you not refrain from
making the code of knightly honour--that is to say, the code of folly
and brutality--the guiding principle of your conduct?--Examine it
rationally once and for all, and reduce it to plain terms; lay its
pitiable narrowness bare, and let it be the touchstone, not of your
hearts but of your minds. If you do not regret it then, it will merely
show that your head is not fitted for work in a sphere where great
gifts of discrimination are needful in order to burst the bonds of
prejudice, and where a well-balanced understanding is necessary for
the purpose of distinguishing right from wrong, even when the
difference between them lies deeply hidden and is not, as in this
case, so ridiculously obvious. In that case, therefore, my lads, try
to go through life in some other honourable manner; join the army or
learn a handicraft that pays its way."

To this rough, though admittedly just, flood of eloquence, we replied
with some irritation, interrupting each other continually in so doing:
"In the first place, you are mistaken concerning the main point; for
we are not here to fight a duel at all; but rather to practise
pistol-shooting. Secondly, you do not appear to know how a real duel
is conducted;--do you suppose that we should have faced each other in
this lonely spot, like two highwaymen, without seconds or doctors,
etc. etc.? Thirdly, with regard to the question of duelling, we each
have our own opinions, and do not require to be waylaid and surprised
by the sort of instruction you may feel disposed to give us."

This reply, which was certainly not polite, made a bad impression upon
the old man. At first, when he heard that we were not about to fight a
duel, he surveyed us more kindly: but when we reached the last passage
of our speech, he seemed so vexed that he growled. When, however, we
began to speak of our point of view, he quickly caught hold of his
companion, turned sharply round, and cried to us in bitter tones:
"People should not have points of view, but thoughts!" And then his
companion added: "Be respectful when a man such as this even makes

Meanwhile, my friend, who had reloaded, fired a shot at the pentagram,
after having cried: "Look out!" This sudden report behind his back
made the old man savage; once more he turned round and looked sourly
at my friend, after which he said to his companion in a feeble voice:
"What shall we do? These young men will be the death of me with their
firing."--"You should know," said the younger man, turning to us,
"that your noisy pastimes amount, as it happens on this occasion, to
an attempt upon the life of philosophy. You observe this venerable
man,--he is in a position to beg you to desist from firing here. And
when such a man begs----" "Well, his request is generally granted,"
the old man interjected, surveying us sternly.

As a matter of fact, we did not know what to make of the whole matter;
we could not understand what our noisy pastimes could have in common
with philosophy; nor could we see why, out of regard for polite
scruples, we should abandon our shooting-range, and at this moment we
may have appeared somewhat undecided and perturbed. The companion
noticing our momentary discomfiture, proceeded to explain the matter
to us.

"We are compelled," he said, "to linger in this immediate
neighbourhood for an hour or so; we have a rendezvous here. An eminent
friend of this eminent man is to meet us here this evening; and we had
actually selected this peaceful spot, with its few benches in the
midst of the wood, for the meeting. It would really be most unpleasant
if, owing to your continual pistol-practice, we were to be subjected
to an unending series of shocks; surely your own feelings will tell
you that it is impossible for you to continue your firing when you
hear that he who has selected this quiet and isolated place for a
meeting with a friend is one of our most eminent philosophers."

This explanation only succeeded in perturbing us the more; for we saw
a danger threatening us which was even greater than the loss of our
shooting-range, and we asked eagerly, "Where is this quiet spot?
Surely not to the left here, in the wood?"

"That is the very place."

"But this evening that place belongs to us," my friend interposed. "We
must have it," we cried together.

Our long-projected celebration seemed at that moment more important
than all the philosophies of the world, and we gave such vehement and
animated utterance to our sentiments that in view of the
incomprehensible nature of our claims we must have cut a somewhat
ridiculous figure. At any rate, our philosophical interlopers regarded
us with expressions of amused inquiry, as if they expected us to
proffer some sort of apology. But we were silent, for we wished above
all to keep our secret.

Thus we stood facing one another in silence, while the sunset dyed the
tree-tops a ruddy gold. The philosopher contemplated the sun, his
companion contemplated him, and we turned our eyes towards our nook in
the woods which to-day we seemed in such great danger of losing. A
feeling of sullen anger took possession of us. What is philosophy, we
asked ourselves, if it prevents a man from being by himself or from
enjoying the select company of a friend,--in sooth, if it prevents him
from becoming a philosopher? For we regarded the celebration of our
rite as a thoroughly philosophical performance. In celebrating it we
wished to form plans and resolutions for the future, by means of quiet
reflections we hoped to light upon an idea which would once again help
us to form and gratify our spirit in the future, just as that former
idea had done during our boyhood. The solemn act derived its very
significance from this resolution, that nothing definite was to be
done, we were only to be alone, and to sit still and meditate, as we
had done five years before when we had each been inspired with the
same thought. It was to be a silent solemnisation, all reminiscence
and all future; the present was to be as a hyphen between the two. And
fate, now unfriendly, had just stepped into our magic circle--and we
knew not how to dismiss her;--the very unusual character of the
circumstances filled us with mysterious excitement.

Whilst we stood thus in silence for some time, divided into two
hostile groups, the clouds above waxed ever redder and the evening
seemed to grow more peaceful and mild; we could almost fancy we heard
the regular breathing of nature as she put the final touches to her
work of art--the glorious day we had just enjoyed; when, suddenly, the
calm evening air was rent by a confused and boisterous cry of joy
which seemed to come from the Rhine. A number of voices could be heard
in the distance--they were those of our fellow-students who by that
time must have taken to the Rhine in small boats. It occurred to us
that we should be missed and that we should also miss something:
almost simultaneously my friend and I raised our pistols: our shots
were echoed back to us, and with their echo there came from the valley
the sound of a well-known cry intended as a signal of identification.
For our passion for shooting had brought us both repute and ill-repute
in our club. At the same time we were conscious that our behaviour
towards the silent philosophical couple had been exceptionally
ungentlemanly; they had been quietly contemplating us for some time,
and when we fired the shock made them draw close up to each other. We
hurried up to them, and each in our turn cried out: "Forgive us. That
was our last shot, and it was intended for our friends on the Rhine.
They have understood us, do you hear? If you insist upon having that
place among the trees, grant us at least the permission to recline
there also. You will find a number of benches on the spot: we shall
not disturb you; we shall sit quite still and shall not utter a word:
but it is now past seven o'clock and we _must_ go there at once.

"That sounds more mysterious than it is," I added after a pause; "we
have made a solemn vow to spend this coming hour on that ground, and
there were reasons for the vow. The spot is sacred to us, owing to
some pleasant associations, it must also inaugurate a good future for
us. We shall therefore endeavour to leave you with no disagreeable
recollections of our meeting--even though we have done much to perturb
and frighten you."

The philosopher was silent; his companion, however, said: "Our
promises and plans unfortunately compel us not only to remain, but
also to spend the same hour on the spot you have selected. It is left
for us to decide whether fate or perhaps a spirit has been responsible
for this extraordinary coincidence."

"Besides, my friend," said the philosopher, "I am not half so
displeased with these warlike youngsters as I was. Did you observe
how quiet they were a moment ago, when we were contemplating the sun?
They neither spoke nor smoked, they stood stone still, I even believe
they meditated."

Turning suddenly in our direction, he said: "_Were_ you meditating?
Just tell me about it as we proceed in the direction of our common
trysting-place." We took a few steps together and went down the slope
into the warm balmy air of the woods where it was already much darker.
On the way my friend openly revealed his thoughts to the philosopher,
he confessed how much he had feared that perhaps to-day for the first
time a philosopher was about to stand in the way of his

The sage laughed. "What? You were afraid a philosopher would prevent
your philosophising? This might easily happen: and you have not yet
experienced such a thing? Has your university life been free from
experience? You surely attend lectures on philosophy?"

This question discomfited us; for, as a matter of fact, there had been
no element of philosophy in our education up to that time. In those
days, moreover, we fondly imagined that everybody who held the post
and possessed the dignity of a philosopher must perforce be one: we
were inexperienced and badly informed. We frankly admitted that we had
not yet belonged to any philosophical college, but that we would
certainly make up for lost time.

"Then what," he asked, "did you mean when you spoke of
philosophising?" Said I, "We are at a loss for a definition. But to
all intents and purposes we meant this, that we wished to make earnest
endeavours to consider the best possible means of becoming men of
culture." "That is a good deal and at the same time very little,"
growled the philosopher; "just you think the matter over. Here are our
benches, let us discuss the question exhaustively: I shall not disturb
your meditations with regard to how you are to become men of culture.
I wish you success and--points of view, as in your duelling questions;
brand-new, original, and enlightened points of view. The philosopher
does not wish to prevent your philosophising: but refrain at least
from disconcerting him with your pistol-shots. Try to imitate the
Pythagoreans to-day: they, as servants of a true philosophy, had to
remain silent for five years--possibly you may also be able to remain
silent for five times fifteen minutes, as servants of your own future
culture, about which you seem so concerned."

We had reached our destination: the solemnisation of our rite began.
As on the previous occasion, five years ago, the Rhine was once more
flowing beneath a light mist, the sky seemed bright and the woods
exhaled the same fragrance. We took our places on the farthest corner
of the most distant bench; sitting there we were almost concealed, and
neither the philosopher nor his companion could see our faces. We were
alone: when the sound of the philosopher's voice reached us, it had
become so blended with the rustling leaves and with the buzzing
murmur of the myriads of living things inhabiting the wooded height,
that it almost seemed like the music of nature; as a sound it
resembled nothing more than a distant monotonous plaint. We were
indeed undisturbed.

Some time elapsed in this way, and while the glow of sunset grew
steadily paler the recollection of our youthful undertaking in the
cause of culture waxed ever more vivid. It seemed to us as if we owed
the greatest debt of gratitude to that little society we had founded;
for it had done more than merely supplement our public school
training; it had actually been the only fruitful society we had had,
and within its frame we even placed our public school life, as a
purely isolated factor helping us in our general efforts to attain to

We knew this, that, thanks to our little society, no thought of
embracing any particular career had ever entered our minds in those
days. The all too frequent exploitation of youth by the State, for its
own purposes--that is to say, so that it may rear useful officials as
quickly as possible and guarantee their unconditional obedience to it
by means of excessively severe examinations--had remained quite
foreign to our education. And to show how little we had been actuated
by thoughts of utility or by the prospect of speedy advancement and
rapid success, on that day we were struck by the comforting
consideration that, even then, we had not yet decided what we should
be--we had not even troubled ourselves at all on this head. Our little
society had sown the seeds of this happy indifference in our souls and
for it alone we were prepared to celebrate the anniversary of its
foundation with hearty gratitude. I have already pointed out, I think,
that in the eyes of the present age, which is so intolerant of
anything that is not useful, such purposeless enjoyment of the moment,
such a lulling of one's self in the cradle of the present, must seem
almost incredible and at all events blameworthy. How useless we were!
And how proud we were of being useless! We used even to quarrel with
each other as to which of us should have the glory of being the more
useless. We wished to attach no importance to anything, to have strong
views about nothing, to aim at nothing; we wanted to take no thought
for the morrow, and desired no more than to recline comfortably like
good-for-nothings on the threshold of the present; and we did--bless

--That, ladies and gentlemen, was our standpoint then!--

Absorbed in these reflections, I was just about to give an answer to
the question of the future of _our_ Educational Institutions in the
same self-sufficient way, when it gradually dawned upon me that the
"natural music," coming from the philosopher's bench had lost its
original character and travelled to us in much more piercing and
distinct tones than before. Suddenly I became aware that I was
listening, that I was eavesdropping, and was passionately interested,
with both ears keenly alive to every sound. I nudged my friend who was
evidently somewhat tired, and I whispered: "Don't fall asleep! There
is something for us to learn over there. It applies to us, even
though it be not meant for us."

For instance, I heard the younger of the two men defending himself
with great animation while the philosopher rebuked him with ever
increasing vehemence. "You are unchanged," he cried to him,
"unfortunately unchanged. It is quite incomprehensible to me how you
can still be the same as you were seven years ago, when I saw you for
the last time and left you with so much misgiving. I fear I must once
again divest you, however reluctantly, of the skin of modern culture
which you have donned meanwhile;--and what do I find beneath it? The
same immutable 'intelligible' character forsooth, according to Kant;
but unfortunately the same unchanged 'intellectual' character,
too--which may also be a necessity, though not a comforting one. I ask
myself to what purpose have I lived as a philosopher, if, possessed as
you are of no mean intelligence and a genuine thirst for knowledge,
all the years you have spent in my company have left no deeper
impression upon you. At present you are behaving as if you had not
even heard the cardinal principle of all culture, which I went to such
pains to inculcate upon you during our former intimacy. Tell me,--what
was that principle?"

"I remember," replied the scolded pupil, "you used to say no one would
strive to attain to culture if he knew how incredibly small the number
of really cultured people actually is, and can ever be. And even this
number of really cultured people would not be possible if a prodigious
multitude, from reasons opposed to their nature and only led on by an
alluring delusion, did not devote themselves to education. It were
therefore a mistake publicly to reveal the ridiculous disproportion
between the number of really cultured people and the enormous
magnitude of the educational apparatus. Here lies the whole secret of
culture--namely, that an innumerable host of men struggle to achieve
it and work hard to that end, ostensibly in their own interests,
whereas at bottom it is only in order that it may be possible for the
few to attain to it."

"That is the principle," said the philosopher,--"and yet you could so
far forget yourself as to believe that you are one of the few? This
thought has occurred to you--I can see. That, however, is the result
of the worthless character of modern education. The rights of genius
are being democratised in order that people may be relieved of the
labour of acquiring culture, and their need of it. Every one wants if
possible to recline in the shade of the tree planted by genius, and to
escape the dreadful necessity of working for him, so that his
procreation may be made possible. What? Are you too proud to be a
teacher? Do you despise the thronging multitude of learners? Do you
speak contemptuously of the teacher's calling? And, aping my mode of
life, would you fain live in solitary seclusion, hostilely isolated
from that multitude? Do you suppose that you can reach at one bound
what I ultimately had to win for myself only after long and determined
struggles, in order even to be able to live like a philosopher? And do
you not fear that solitude will wreak its vengeance upon you? Just
try living the life of a hermit of culture. One must be blessed with
overflowing wealth in order to live for the good of all on one's own
resources! Extraordinary youngsters! They felt it incumbent upon them
to imitate what is precisely most difficult and most high,--what is
possible only to the master, when they, above all, should know how
difficult and dangerous this is, and how many excellent gifts may be
ruined by attempting it!"

"I will conceal nothing from you, sir," the companion replied. "I have
heard too much from your lips at odd times and have been too long in
your company to be able to surrender myself entirely to our present
system of education and instruction. I am too painfully conscious of
the disastrous errors and abuses to which you used to call my
attention--though I very well know that I am not strong enough to hope
for any success were I to struggle ever so valiantly against them. I
was overcome by a feeling of general discouragement; my recourse to
solitude was the result neither of pride nor arrogance. I would fain
describe to you what I take to be the nature of the educational
questions now attracting such enormous and pressing attention. It
seemed to me that I must recognise two main directions in the forces
at work--two seemingly antagonistic tendencies, equally deleterious in
their action, and ultimately combining to produce their results: a
striving to achieve the greatest possible _expansion_ of education on
the one hand, and a tendency to _minimise and weaken_ it on the
other. The first-named would, for various reasons, spread learning
among the greatest number of people; the second would compel education
to renounce its highest, noblest and sublimest claims in order to
subordinate itself to some other department of life--such as the
service of the State.

"I believe I have already hinted at the quarter in which the cry for
the greatest possible expansion of education is most loudly raised.
This expansion belongs to the most beloved of the dogmas of modern
political economy. As much knowledge and education as possible;
therefore the greatest possible supply and demand--hence as much
happiness as possible:--that is the formula. In this case utility is
made the object and goal of education,--utility in the sense of
gain--the greatest possible pecuniary gain. In the quarter now under
consideration culture would be defined as that point of vantage which
enables one to 'keep in the van of one's age,' from which one can see
all the easiest and best roads to wealth, and with which one controls
all the means of communication between men and nations. The purpose of
education, according to this scheme, would be to rear the most
'current' men possible,--'current' being used here in the sense in
which it is applied to the coins of the realm. The greater the number
of such men, the happier a nation will be; and this precisely is the
purpose of our modern educational institutions: to help every one, as
far as his nature will allow, to become 'current'; to develop him so
that his particular degree of knowledge and science may yield him the
greatest possible amount of happiness and pecuniary gain. Every one
must be able to form some sort of estimate of himself; he must know
how much he may reasonably expect from life. The 'bond between
intelligence and property' which this point of view postulates has
almost the force of a moral principle. In this quarter all culture is
loathed which isolates, which sets goals beyond gold and gain, and
which requires time: it is customary to dispose of such eccentric
tendencies in education as systems of 'Higher Egotism,' or of 'Immoral
Culture--Epicureanism.' According to the morality reigning here, the
demands are quite different; what is required above all is 'rapid
education,' so that a money-earning creature may be produced with all
speed; there is even a desire to make this education so thorough that
a creature may be reared that will be able to earn a _great deal_ of
money. Men are allowed only the precise amount of culture which is
compatible with the interests of gain; but that amount, at least, is
expected from them. In short: mankind has a necessary right to
happiness on earth--that is why culture is necessary--but on that
account alone!"

"I must just say something here," said the philosopher. "In the case
of the view you have described so clearly, there arises the great and
awful danger that at some time or other the great masses may overleap
the middle classes and spring headlong into this earthly bliss. That
is what is now called 'the social question.' It might seem to these
masses that education for the greatest number of men was only a means
to the earthly bliss of the few: the 'greatest possible expansion of
education' so enfeebles education that it can no longer confer
privileges or inspire respect. The most general form of culture is
simply barbarism. But I do not wish to interrupt your discussion."

The companion continued: "There are yet other reasons, besides this
beloved economical dogma, for the expansion of education that is being
striven after so valiantly everywhere. In some countries the fear of
religious oppression is so general, and the dread of its results so
marked, that people in all classes of society long for culture and
eagerly absorb those elements of it which are supposed to scatter the
religious instincts. Elsewhere the State, in its turn, strives here
and there for its own preservation, after the greatest possible
expansion of education, because it always feels strong enough to bring
the most determined emancipation, resulting from culture, under its
yoke, and readily approves of everything which tends to extend
culture, provided that it be of service to its officials or soldiers,
but in the main to itself, in its competition with other nations. In
this case, the foundations of a State must be sufficiently broad and
firm to constitute a fitting counterpart to the complicated arches of
culture which it supports, just as in the first case the traces of
some former religious tyranny must still be felt for a people to be
driven to such desperate remedies. Thus, wherever I hear the masses
raise the cry for an expansion of education, I am wont to ask myself
whether it is stimulated by a greedy lust of gain and property, by
the memory of a former religious persecution, or by the prudent
egotism of the State itself.

"On the other hand, it seemed to me that there was yet another
tendency, not so clamorous, perhaps, but quite as forcible, which,
hailing from various quarters, was animated by a different
desire,--the desire to minimise and weaken education.

"In all cultivated circles people are in the habit of whispering to
one another words something after this style: that it is a general
fact that, owing to the present frantic exploitation of the scholar in
the service of his science, his _education_ becomes every day more
accidental and more uncertain. For the study of science has been
extended to such interminable lengths that he who, though not
exceptionally gifted, yet possesses fair abilities, will need to
devote himself exclusively to one branch and ignore all others if he
ever wish to achieve anything in his work. Should he then elevate
himself above the herd by means of his speciality, he still remains
one of them in regard to all else,--that is to say, in regard to all
the most important things in life. Thus, a specialist in science gets
to resemble nothing so much as a factory workman who spends his whole
life in turning one particular screw or handle on a certain instrument
or machine, at which occupation he acquires the most consummate skill.
In Germany, where we know how to drape such painful facts with the
glorious garments of fancy, this narrow specialisation on the part of
our learned men is even admired, and their ever greater deviation
from the path of true culture is regarded as a moral phenomenon.
'Fidelity in small things,' 'dogged faithfulness,' become expressions
of highest eulogy, and the lack of culture outside the speciality is
flaunted abroad as a sign of noble sufficiency.

"For centuries it has been an understood thing that one alluded to
scholars alone when one spoke of cultured men; but experience tells us
that it would be difficult to find any necessary relation between the
two classes to-day. For at present the exploitation of a man for the
purpose of science is accepted everywhere without the slightest
scruple. Who still ventures to ask, What may be the value of a science
which consumes its minions in this vampire fashion? The division of
labour in science is practically struggling towards the same goal
which religions in certain parts of the world are consciously striving
after,--that is to say, towards the decrease and even the destruction
of learning. That, however, which, in the case of certain religions,
is a perfectly justifiable aim, both in regard to their origin and
their history, can only amount to self-immolation when transferred to
the realm of science. In all matters of a general and serious nature,
and above all, in regard to the highest philosophical problems, we
have now already reached a point at which the scientific man, as such,
is no longer allowed to speak. On the other hand, that adhesive and
tenacious stratum which has now filled up the interstices between the
sciences--Journalism--believes it has a mission to fulfil here, and
this it does, according to its own particular lights--that is to say,
as its name implies, after the fashion of a day-labourer.

"It is precisely in journalism that the two tendencies combine and
become one. The expansion and the diminution of education here join
hands. The newspaper actually steps into the place of culture, and he
who, even as a scholar, wishes to voice any claim for education, must
avail himself of this viscous stratum of communication which cements
the seams between all forms of life, all classes, all arts, and all
sciences, and which is as firm and reliable as news paper is, as a
rule. In the newspaper the peculiar educational aims of the present
culminate, just as the journalist, the servant of the moment, has
stepped into the place of the genius, of the leader for all time, of
the deliverer from the tyranny of the moment. Now, tell me,
distinguished master, what hopes could I still have in a struggle
against the general topsy-turvification of all genuine aims for
education; with what courage can I, a single teacher, step forward,
when I know that the moment any seeds of real culture are sown, they
will be mercilessly crushed by the roller of this pseudo-culture?
Imagine how useless the most energetic work on the part of the
individual teacher must be, who would fain lead a pupil back into the
distant and evasive Hellenic world and to the real home of culture,
when in less than an hour, that same pupil will have recourse to a
newspaper, the latest novel, or one of those learned books, the very
style of which already bears the revolting impress of modern barbaric

"Now, silence a minute!" interjected the philosopher in a strong and
sympathetic voice. "I understand you now, and ought never to have
spoken so crossly to you. You are altogether right, save in your
despair. I shall now proceed to say a few words of consolation."


(_Delivered on the 6th of February 1872._)

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,--Those among you whom I now have the pleasure of
addressing for the first time and whose only knowledge of my first
lecture has been derived from reports will, I hope, not mind being
introduced here into the middle of a dialogue which I had begun to
recount on the last occasion, and the last points of which I must now
recall. The philosopher's young companion was just pleading openly and
confidentially with his distinguished tutor, and apologising for
having so far renounced his calling as a teacher in order to spend his
days in comfortless solitude. No suspicion of superciliousness or
arrogance had induced him to form this resolve.

"I have heard too much from your lips at various times," the
straightforward pupil said, "and have been too long in your company,
to surrender myself blindly to our present systems of education and
instruction. I am too painfully conscious of the disastrous errors and
abuses to which you were wont to call my attention; and yet I know
that I am far from possessing the requisite strength to meet with
success, however valiantly I might struggle to shatter the bulwarks
of this would-be culture. I was overcome by a general feeling of
depression: my recourse to solitude was not arrogance or
superciliousness." Whereupon, to account for his behaviour, he
described the general character of modern educational methods so
vividly that the philosopher could not help interrupting him in a
voice full of sympathy, and crying words of comfort to him.

"Now, silence for a minute, my poor friend," he cried; "I can more
easily understand you now, and should not have lost my patience with
you. You are altogether right, save in your despair. I shall now
proceed to say a few words of comfort to you. How long do you suppose
the state of education in the schools of our time, which seems to
weigh so heavily upon you, will last? I shall not conceal my views on
this point from you: its time is over; its days are counted. The first
who will dare to be quite straightforward in this respect will hear
his honesty re-echoed back to him by thousands of courageous souls.
For, at bottom, there is a tacit understanding between the more nobly
gifted and more warmly disposed men of the present day. Every one of
them knows what he has had to suffer from the condition of culture in
schools; every one of them would fain protect his offspring from the
need of enduring similar drawbacks, even though he himself was
compelled to submit to them. If these feelings are never quite
honestly expressed, however, it is owing to a sad want of spirit among
modern pedagogues. These lack real initiative; there are too few
practical men among them--that is to say, too few who happen to have
good and new ideas, and who know that real genius and the real
practical mind must necessarily come together in the same individuals,
whilst the sober practical men have no ideas and therefore fall short
in practice.

"Let any one examine the pedagogic literature of the present; he who
is not shocked at its utter poverty of spirit and its ridiculously
awkward antics is beyond being spoiled. Here our philosophy must not
begin with wonder but with dread; he who feels no dread at this point
must be asked not to meddle with pedagogic questions. The reverse, of
course, has been the rule up to the present; those who were terrified
ran away filled with embarrassment as you did, my poor friend, while
the sober and fearless ones spread their heavy hands over the most
delicate technique that has ever existed in art--over the technique of
education. This, however, will not be possible much longer; at some
time or other the upright man will appear, who will not only have the
good ideas I speak of, but who in order to work at their realisation,
will dare to break with all that exists at present: he may by means of
a wonderful example achieve what the broad hands, hitherto active,
could not even imitate--then people will everywhere begin to draw
comparisons; then men will at least be able to perceive a contrast and
will be in a position to reflect upon its causes, whereas, at present,
so many still believe, in perfect good faith, that heavy hands are a
necessary factor in pedagogic work."

"My dear master," said the younger man, "I wish you could point to
one single example which would assist me in seeing the soundness of
the hopes which you so heartily raise in me. We are both acquainted
with public schools; do you think, for instance, that in respect of
these institutions anything may be done by means of honesty and good
and new ideas to abolish the tenacious and antiquated customs now
extant? In this quarter, it seems to me, the battering-rams of an
attacking party will have to meet with no solid wall, but with the
most fatal of stolid and slippery principles. The leader of the
assault has no visible and tangible opponent to crush, but rather a
creature in disguise that can transform itself into a hundred
different shapes and, in each of these, slip out of his grasp, only in
order to reappear and to confound its enemy by cowardly surrenders and
feigned retreats. It was precisely the public schools which drove me
into despair and solitude, simply because I feel that if the struggle
here leads to victory all other educational institutions must give in;
but that, if the reformer be forced to abandon his cause here, he may
as well give up all hope in regard to every other scholastic question.
Therefore, dear master, enlighten me concerning the public schools;
what can we hope for in the way of their abolition or reform?"

"I also hold the question of public schools to be as important as you
do," the philosopher replied. "All other educational institutions must
fix their aims in accordance with those of the public school system;
whatever errors of judgment it may suffer from, they suffer from also,
and if it were ever purified and rejuvenated, they would be purified
and rejuvenated too. The universities can no longer lay claim to this
importance as centres of influence, seeing that, as they now stand,
they are at least, in one important aspect, only a kind of annex to
the public school system, as I shall shortly point out to you. For the
moment, let us consider, together, what to my mind constitutes the
very hopeful struggle of the two possibilities: _either_ that the
motley and evasive spirit of public schools which has hitherto been
fostered, will completely vanish, or that it will have to be
completely purified and rejuvenated. And in order that I may not shock
you with general propositions, let us first try to recall one of those
public school experiences which we have all had, and from which we
have all suffered. Under severe examination what, as a matter of fact,
is the present _system of teaching German_ in public schools?

"I shall first of all tell you what it should be. Everybody speaks and
writes German as thoroughly badly as it is just possible to do so in
an age of newspaper German: that is why the growing youth who happens
to be both noble and gifted has to be taken by force and put under the
glass shade of good taste and of severe linguistic discipline. If this
is not possible, I would prefer in future that Latin be spoken; for I
am ashamed of a language so bungled and vitiated.

"What would be the duty of a higher educational institution, in this
respect, if not this--namely, with authority and dignified severity to
put youths, neglected, as far as their own language is concerned, on
the right path, and to cry to them: 'Take your own language seriously!
He who does not regard this matter as a sacred duty does not possess
even the germ of a higher culture. From your attitude in this matter,
from your treatment of your mother-tongue, we can judge how highly or
how lowly you esteem art, and to what extent you are related to it. If
you notice no physical loathing in yourselves when you meet with
certain words and tricks of speech in our journalistic jargon, cease
from striving after culture; for here in your immediate vicinity, at
every moment of your life, while you are either speaking or writing,
you have a touchstone for testing how difficult, how stupendous, the
task of the cultured man is, and how very improbable it must be that
many of you will ever attain to culture.'

"In accordance with the spirit of this address, the teacher of German
at a public school would be forced to call his pupil's attention to
thousands of details, and with the absolute certainty of good taste,
to forbid their using such words and expressions, for instance, as:
'_beanspruchen_,' '_vereinnahmen_,' '_einer Sache Rechnung tragen_,'
'_die Initiative ergreifen_,' '_selbstverständlich_,'[3] etc., _cum
tædio in infinitum_. The same teacher would also have to take our
classical authors and show, line for line, how carefully and with what
precision every expression has to be chosen when a writer has the
correct feeling in his heart and has before his eyes a perfect
conception of all he is writing. He would necessarily urge his pupils,
time and again, to express the same thought ever more happily; nor
would he have to abate in rigour until the less gifted in his class
had contracted an unholy fear of their language, and the others had
developed great enthusiasm for it.

"Here then is a task for so-called 'formal' education[4] [the
education tending to develop the mental faculties, as opposed to
'material' education,[5] which is intended to deal only with the
acquisition of facts, _e.g._ history, mathematics, etc.], and one of
the utmost value: but what do we find in the public school--that is to
say, in the head-quarters of formal education? He who understands how
to apply what he has heard here will also know what to think of the
modern public school as a so-called educational institution. He will
discover, for instance, that the public school, according to its
fundamental principles, does not educate for the purposes of culture,
but for the purposes of scholarship; and, further, that of late it
seems to have adopted a course which indicates rather that it has even
discarded scholarship in favour of journalism as the object of its
exertions. This can be clearly seen from the way in which German is

"Instead of that purely practical method of instruction by which the
teacher accustoms his pupils to severe self-discipline in their own
language, we find everywhere the rudiments of a historico-scholastic
method of teaching the mother-tongue: that is to say, people deal with
it as if it were a dead language and as if the present and future were
under no obligations to it whatsoever. The historical method has
become so universal in our time, that even the living body of the
language is sacrificed for the sake of anatomical study. But this is
precisely where culture begins--namely, in understanding how to treat
the quick as something vital, and it is here too that the mission of
the cultured teacher begins: in suppressing the urgent claims of
'historical interests' wherever it is above all necessary to _do_
properly and not merely to _know_ properly. Our mother-tongue,
however, is a domain in which the pupil must learn how to _do_
properly, and to this practical end, alone, the teaching of German is
essential in our scholastic establishments. The historical method may
certainly be a considerably easier and more comfortable one for the
teacher; it also seems to be compatible with a much lower grade of
ability and, in general, with a smaller display of energy and will on
his part. But we shall find that this observation holds good in every
department of pedagogic life: the simpler and more comfortable method
always masquerades in the disguise of grand pretensions and stately
titles; the really practical side, the _doing_, which should belong to
culture and which, at bottom, is the more difficult side, meets only
with disfavour and contempt. That is why the honest man must make
himself and others quite clear concerning this _quid pro quo_.

"Now, apart from these learned incentives to a study of the language,
what is there besides which the German teacher is wont to offer? How
does he reconcile the spirit of his school with the spirit of the
_few_ that Germany can claim who are really cultured,--_i.e._ with the
spirit of its classical poets and artists? This is a dark and thorny
sphere, into which one cannot even bear a light without dread; but
even here we shall conceal nothing from ourselves; for sooner or later
the whole of it will have to be reformed. In the public school, the
repulsive impress of our æsthetic journalism is stamped upon the still
unformed minds of youths. Here, too, the teacher sows the seeds of
that crude and wilful misinterpretation of the classics, which later
on disports itself as art-criticism, and which is nothing but
bumptious barbarity. Here the pupils learn to speak of our unique
_Schiller_ with the superciliousness of prigs; here they are taught to
smile at the noblest and most German of his works--at the Marquis of
Posa, at Max and Thekla--at these smiles German genius becomes
incensed and a worthier posterity will blush.

"The last department in which the German teacher in a public school is
at all active, which is often regarded as his sphere of highest
activity, and is here and there even considered the pinnacle of public
school education, is the so-called _German composition_. Owing to the
very fact that in this department it is almost always the most gifted
pupils who display the greatest eagerness, it ought to have been made
clear how dangerously stimulating, precisely here, the task of the
teacher must be. _German composition_ makes an appeal to the
individual, and the more strongly a pupil is conscious of his various
qualities, the more personally will he do his _German composition_.
This 'personal doing' is urged on with yet an additional fillip in
some public schools by the choice of the subject, the strongest proof
of which is, in my opinion, that even in the lower classes the
non-pedagogic subject is set, by means of which the pupil is led to
give a description of his life and of his development. Now, one has
only to read the titles of the compositions set in a large number of
public schools to be convinced that probably the large majority of
pupils have to suffer their whole lives, through no fault of their
own, owing to this premature demand for personal work--for the unripe
procreation of thoughts. And how often are not all a man's subsequent
literary performances but a sad result of this pedagogic original sin
against the intellect!

"Let us only think of what takes place at such an age in the
production of such work. It is the first individual creation; the
still undeveloped powers tend for the first time to crystallise; the
staggering sensation produced by the demand for self-reliance imparts
a seductive charm to these early performances, which is not only quite
new, but which never returns. All the daring of nature is hauled out
of its depths; all vanities--no longer constrained by mighty
barriers--are allowed for the first time to assume a literary form:
the young man, from that time forward, feels as if he had reached his
consummation as a being not only able, but actually invited, to speak
and to converse. The subject he selects obliges him either to express
his judgment upon certain poetical works, to class historical persons
together in a description of character, to discuss serious ethical
problems quite independently, or even to turn the searchlight inwards,
to throw its rays upon his own development and to make a critical
report of himself: in short, a whole world of reflection is spread out
before the astonished young man who, until then, had been almost
unconscious, and is delivered up to him to be judged.

"Now let us try to picture the teacher's usual attitude towards these
first highly influential examples of original composition. What does
he hold to be most reprehensible in this class of work? What does he
call his pupil's attention to?--To all excess in form or thought--that
is to say, to all that which, at their age, is essentially
characteristic and individual. Their really independent traits which,
in response to this very premature excitation, can manifest themselves
only in awkwardness, crudeness, and grotesque features,--in short,
their individuality is reproved and rejected by the teacher in favour
of an unoriginal decent average. On the other hand, uniform mediocrity
gets peevish praise; for, as a rule, it is just the class of work
likely to bore the teacher thoroughly.

"There may still be men who recognise a most absurd and most dangerous
element of the public school curriculum in the whole farce of this
German composition. Originality is demanded here: but the only shape
in which it can manifest itself is rejected, and the 'formal'
education that the system takes for granted is attained to only by a
very limited number of men who complete it at a ripe age. Here
everybody without exception is regarded as gifted for literature and
considered as capable of holding opinions concerning the most
important questions and people, whereas the one aim which proper
education should most zealously strive to achieve would be the
suppression of all ridiculous claims to independent judgment, and the
inculcation upon young men of obedience to the sceptre of genius. Here
a pompous form of diction is taught in an age when every spoken or
written word is a piece of barbarism. Now let us consider, besides,
the danger of arousing the self-complacency which is so easily
awakened in youths; let us think how their vanity must be flattered
when they see their literary reflection for the first time in the
mirror. Who, having seen all these effects at _one_ glance, could any
longer doubt whether all the faults of our public, literary, and
artistic life were not stamped upon every fresh generation by the
system we are examining: hasty and vain production, the disgraceful
manufacture of books; complete want of style; the crude,
characterless, or sadly swaggering method of expression; the loss of
every æsthetic canon; the voluptuousness of anarchy and chaos--in
short, the literary peculiarities of both our journalism and our

"None but the very fewest are aware that, among many thousands,
perhaps only _one_ is justified in describing himself as literary, and
that all others who at their own risk try to be so deserve to be met
with Homeric laughter by all competent men as a reward for every
sentence they have ever had printed;--for it is truly a spectacle meet
for the gods to see a literary Hephaistos limping forward who would
pretend to help us to something. To educate men to earnest and
inexorable habits and views, in this respect, should be the highest
aim of all mental training, whereas the general _laisser aller_ of the
'fine personality' can be nothing else than the hall-mark of
barbarism. From what I have said, however, it must be clear that, at
least in the teaching of German, no thought is given to culture;
something quite different is in view,--namely, the production of the
afore-mentioned 'free personality.' And so long as German public
schools prepare the road for outrageous and irresponsible scribbling,
so long as they do not regard the immediate and practical discipline
of speaking and writing as their most holy duty, so long as they treat
the mother-tongue as if it were only a necessary evil or a dead body,
I shall not regard these institutions as belonging to real culture.

"In regard to the language, what is surely least noticeable is any
trace of the influence of _classical examples_: that is why, on the
strength of this consideration alone, the so-called 'classical
education' which is supposed to be provided by our public school,
strikes me as something exceedingly doubtful and confused. For how
could anybody, after having cast one glance at those examples, fail to
see the great earnestness with which the Greek and the Roman regarded
and treated his language, from his youth onwards--how is it possible
to mistake one's example on a point like this one?--provided, of
course, that the classical Hellenic and Roman world really did hover
before the educational plan of our public schools as the highest and
most instructive of all morals--a fact I feel very much inclined to
doubt. The claim put forward by public schools concerning the
'classical education' they provide seems to be more an awkward evasion
than anything else; it is used whenever there is any question raised
as to the competency of the public schools to impart culture and to
educate. Classical education, indeed! It sounds so dignified! It
confounds the aggressor and staves off the assault--for who could see
to the bottom of this bewildering formula all at once? And this has
long been the customary strategy of the public school: from whichever
side the war-cry may come, it writes upon its shield--not overloaded
with honours--one of those confusing catchwords, such as: 'classical
education,' 'formal education,' 'scientific education':--three
glorious things which are, however, unhappily at loggerheads, not only
with themselves but among themselves, and are such that, if they were
compulsorily brought together, would perforce bring forth a
culture-monster. For a 'classical education' is something so unheard
of, difficult and rare, and exacts such complicated talent, that only
ingenuousness or impudence could put it forward as an attainable goal
in our public schools. The words: 'formal education' belong to that
crude kind of unphilosophical phraseology which one should do one's
utmost to get rid of; for there is no such thing as 'the opposite of
formal education.' And he who regards 'scientific education' as the
object of a public school thereby sacrifices 'classical education' and
the so-called 'formal education,' at one stroke, as the scientific man
and the cultured man belong to two different spheres which, though
coming together at times in the same individual, are never reconciled.

"If we compare all three of these would-be aims of the public school
with the actual facts to be observed in the present method of teaching
German, we see immediately what they really amount to in
practice,--that is to say, only to subterfuges for use in the fight
and struggle for existence and, often enough, mere means wherewith to
bewilder an opponent. For we are unable to detect any single feature
in this teaching of German which in any way recalls the example of
classical antiquity and its glorious methods of training in languages.
'Formal education,' however, which is supposed to be achieved by this
method of teaching German, has been shown to be wholly at the pleasure
of the 'free personality,' which is as good as saying that it is
barbarism and anarchy. And as for the preparation in science, which is
one of the consequences of this teaching, our Germanists will have to
determine, in all justice, how little these learned beginnings in
public schools have contributed to the splendour of their sciences,
and how much the personality of individual university professors has
done so.--Put briefly: the public school has hitherto neglected its
most important and most urgent duty towards the very beginning of all
real culture, which is the mother-tongue; but in so doing it has
lacked the natural, fertile soil for all further efforts at culture.
For only by means of stern, artistic, and careful discipline and
habit, in a language, can the correct feeling for the greatness of our
classical writers be strengthened. Up to the present their recognition
by the public schools has been owing almost solely to the doubtful
æsthetic hobbies of a few teachers or to the massive effects of
certain of their tragedies and novels. But everybody should, himself,
be aware of the difficulties of the language: he should have learnt
them from experience: after long seeking and struggling he must reach
the path our great poets trod in order to be able to realise how
lightly and beautifully they trod it, and how stiffly and swaggeringly
the others follow at their heels.

"Only by means of such discipline can the young man acquire that
physical loathing for the beloved and much-admired 'elegance' of style
of our newspaper manufacturers and novelists, and for the 'ornate
style' of our literary men; by it alone is he irrevocably elevated at
a stroke above a whole host of absurd questions and scruples, such,
for instance, as whether Auerbach and Gutzkow are really poets, for
his disgust at both will be so great that he will be unable to read
them any longer, and thus the problem will be solved for him. Let no
one imagine that it is an easy matter to develop this feeling to the
extent necessary in order to have this physical loathing; but let no
one hope to reach sound æsthetic judgments along any other road than
the thorny one of language, and by this I do not mean philological
research, but self-discipline in one's mother-tongue.

"Everybody who is in earnest in this matter will have the same sort of
experience as the recruit in the army who is compelled to learn
walking after having walked almost all his life as a dilettante or
empiricist. It is a hard time: one almost fears that the tendons are
going to snap and one ceases to hope that the artificial and
consciously acquired movements and positions of the feet will ever be
carried out with ease and comfort. It is painful to see how awkwardly
and heavily one foot is set before the other, and one dreads that one
may not only be unable to learn the new way of walking, but that one
will forget how to walk at all. Then it suddenly become noticeable
that a new habit and a second nature have been born of the practised
movements, and that the assurance and strength of the old manner of
walking returns with a little more grace: at this point one begins to
realise how difficult walking is, and one feels in a position to laugh
at the untrained empiricist or the elegant dilettante. Our 'elegant'
writers, as their style shows, have never learnt 'walking' in this
sense, and in our public schools, as our other writers show, no one
learns walking either. Culture begins, however, with the correct
movement of the language: and once it has properly begun, it begets
that physical sensation in the presence of 'elegant' writers which is
known by the name of 'loathing.'

"We recognise the fatal consequences of our present public schools, in
that they are unable to inculcate severe and genuine culture, which
should consist above all in obedience and habituation; and that, at
their best, they much more often achieve a result by stimulating and
kindling scientific tendencies, is shown by the hand which is so
frequently seen uniting scholarship and barbarous taste, science and
journalism. In a very large majority of cases to-day we can observe
how sadly our scholars fall short of the standard of culture which the
efforts of Goethe, Schiller, Lessing, and Winckelmann established; and
this falling short shows itself precisely in the egregious errors
which the men we speak of are exposed to, equally among literary
historians--whether Gervinus or Julian Schmidt--as in any other
company; everywhere, indeed, where men and women converse. It shows
itself most frequently and painfully, however, in pedagogic spheres,
in the literature of public schools. It can be proved that the only
value that these men have in a real educational establishment has not
been mentioned, much less generally recognised for half a century:
their value as preparatory leaders and mystogogues of classical
culture, guided by whose hands alone can the correct road leading to
antiquity be found.

"Every so-called classical education can have but one natural
starting-point--an artistic, earnest, and exact familiarity with the
use of the mother-tongue: this, together with the secret of form,
however, one can seldom attain to of one's own accord, almost
everybody requires those great leaders and tutors and must place
himself in their hands. There is, however, no such thing as a
classical education that could grow without this inferred love of
form. Here, where the power of discerning form and barbarity gradually
awakens, there appear the pinions which bear one to the only real home
of culture--ancient Greece. If with the solitary help of those pinions
we sought to reach those far-distant and diamond-studded walls
encircling the stronghold of Hellenism, we should certainly not get
very far; once more, therefore, we need the same leaders and tutors,
our German classical writers, that we may be borne up, too, by the
wing-strokes of their past endeavours--to the land of yearning, to

"Not a suspicion of this possible relationship between our classics
and classical education seems to have pierced the antique walls of
public schools. Philologists seem much more eagerly engaged in
introducing Homer and Sophocles to the young souls of their pupils, in
their own style, calling the result simply by the unchallenged
euphemism: 'classical education.' Let every one's own experience tell
him what he had of Homer and Sophocles at the hands of such eager
teachers. It is in this department that the greatest number of deepest
deceptions occur, and whence misunderstandings are inadvertently
spread. In German public schools I have never yet found a trace of
what might really be called 'classical education,' and there is
nothing surprising in this when one thinks of the way in which these
institutions have emancipated themselves from German classical writers
and the discipline of the German language. Nobody reaches antiquity by
means of a leap into the dark, and yet the whole method of treating
ancient writers in schools, the plain commentating and paraphrasing of
our philological teachers, amounts to nothing more than a leap into
the dark.

"The feeling for classical Hellenism is, as a matter of fact, such an
exceptional outcome of the most energetic fight for culture and
artistic talent that the public school could only have professed to
awaken this feeling owing to a very crude misunderstanding. In what
age? In an age which is led about blindly by the most sensational
desires of the day, and which is not aware of the fact that, once that
feeling for Hellenism is roused, it immediately becomes aggressive and
must express itself by indulging in an incessant war with the
so-called culture of the present. For the public school boy of to-day,
the Hellenes as Hellenes are dead: yes, he gets some enjoyment out of
Homer, but a novel by Spielhagen interests him much more: yes, he
swallows Greek tragedy and comedy with a certain relish, but a
thoroughly modern drama, like Freitag's 'Journalists,' moves him in
quite another fashion. In regard to all ancient authors he is rather
inclined to speak after the manner of the æsthete, Hermann Grimm, who,
on one occasion, at the end of a tortuous essay on the Venus of Milo,
asks himself: 'What does this goddess's form mean to me? Of what use
are the thoughts she suggests to me? Orestes and OEdipus, Iphigenia
and Antigone, what have they in common with my heart?'--No, my dear
public school boy, the Venus of Milo does not concern you in any way,
and concerns your teacher just as little--and that is the misfortune,
that is the secret of the modern public school. Who will conduct you
to the land of culture, if your leaders are blind and assume the
position of seers notwithstanding? Which of you will ever attain to a
true feeling for the sacred seriousness of art, if you are
systematically spoiled, and taught to stutter independently instead of
being taught to speak; to æstheticise on your own account, when you
ought to be taught to approach works of art almost piously; to
philosophise without assistance, while you ought to be compelled to
_listen_ to great thinkers. All this with the result that you remain
eternally at a distance from antiquity and become the servants of the

"At all events, the most wholesome feature of our modern institutions
is to be found in the earnestness with which the Latin and Greek
languages are studied over a long course of years. In this way boys
learn to respect a grammar, lexicons, and a language that conforms to
fixed rules; in this department of public school work there is an
exact knowledge of what constitutes a fault, and no one is troubled
with any thought of justifying himself every minute by appealing (as
in the case of modern German) to various grammatical and
orthographical vagaries and vicious forms. If only this respect for
language did not hang in the air so, like a theoretical burden which
one is pleased to throw off the moment one turns to one's
mother-tongue! More often than not, the classical master makes pretty
short work of the mother-tongue; from the outset he treats it as a
department of knowledge in which one is allowed that indolent ease
with which the German treats everything that belongs to his native
soil. The splendid practice afforded by translating from one language
into another, which so improves and fertilises one's artistic feeling
for one's own tongue, is, in the case of German, never conducted with
that fitting categorical strictness and dignity which would be above
all necessary in dealing with an undisciplined language. Of late,
exercises of this kind have tended to decrease ever more and more:
people are satisfied to _know_ the foreign classical tongues, they
would scorn being able to _apply_ them.

"Here one gets another glimpse of the scholarly tendency of public
schools: a phenomenon which throws much light upon the object which
once animated them,--that is to say, the serious desire to cultivate
the pupil. This belonged to the time of our great poets, those few
really cultured Germans,--the time when the magnificent Friedrich
August Wolf directed the new stream of classical thought, introduced
from Greece and Rome by those men, into the heart of the public
schools. Thanks to his bold start, a new order of public schools was
established, which thenceforward was not to be merely a nursery for
science, but, above all, the actual consecrated home of all higher and
nobler culture.

"Of the many necessary measures which this change called into being,
some of the most important have been transferred with lasting success
to the modern regulations of public schools: the most important of
all, however, did not succeed--the one demanding that the teacher,
also, should be consecrated to the new spirit, so that the aim of the
public school has meanwhile considerably departed from the original
plan laid down by Wolf, which was the cultivation of the pupil. The
old estimate of scholarship and scholarly culture, as an absolute,
which Wolf overcame, seems after a slow and spiritless struggle rather
to have taken the place of the culture-principle of more recent
introduction, and now claims its former exclusive rights, though not
with the same frankness, but disguised and with features veiled. And
the reason why it was impossible to make public schools fall in with
the magnificent plan of classical culture lay in the un-German, almost
foreign or cosmopolitan nature of these efforts in the cause of
education: in the belief that it was possible to remove the native
soil from under a man's feet and that he should still remain standing;
in the illusion that people can spring direct, without bridges, into
the strange Hellenic world, by abjuring German and the German mind in

"Of course one must know how to trace this Germanic spirit to its lair
beneath its many modern dressings, or even beneath heaps of ruins; one
must love it so that one is not ashamed of it in its stunted form, and
one must above all be on one's guard against confounding it with what
now disports itself proudly as 'Up-to-date German culture.' The German
spirit is very far from being on friendly times with this up-to-date
culture: and precisely in those spheres where the latter complains of
a lack of culture the real German spirit has survived, though perhaps
not always with a graceful, but more often an ungraceful, exterior. On
the other hand, that which now grandiloquently assumes the title of
'German culture' is a sort of cosmopolitan aggregate, which bears the
same relation to the German spirit as Journalism does to Schiller or
Meyerbeer to Beethoven: here the strongest influence at work is the
fundamentally and thoroughly un-German civilisation of France, which
is aped neither with talent nor with taste, and the imitation of which
gives the society, the press, the art, and the literary style of
Germany their pharisaical character. Naturally the copy nowhere
produces the really artistic effect which the original, grown out of
the heart of Roman civilisation, is able to produce almost to this day
in France. Let any one who wishes to see the full force of this
contrast compare our most noted novelists with the less noted ones of
France or Italy: he will recognise in both the same doubtful
tendencies and aims, as also the same still more doubtful means, but
in France he will find them coupled with artistic earnestness, at
least with grammatical purity, and often with beauty, while in their
every feature he will recognise the echo of a corresponding social
culture. In Germany, on the other hand, they will strike him as
unoriginal, flabby, filled with dressing-gown thoughts and
expressions, unpleasantly spread out, and therewithal possessing no
background of social form. At the most, owing to their scholarly
mannerisms and display of knowledge, he will be reminded of the fact
that in Latin countries it is the artistically-trained man, and that
in Germany it is the abortive scholar, who becomes a journalist. With
this would-be German and thoroughly unoriginal culture, the German can
nowhere reckon upon victory: the Frenchman and the Italian will always
get the better of him in this respect, while, in regard to the clever
imitation of a foreign culture, the Russian, above all, will always be
his superior.

"We are therefore all the more anxious to hold fast to that German
spirit which revealed itself in the German Reformation, and in German
music, and which has shown its enduring and genuine strength in the
enormous courage and severity of German philosophy and in the loyalty
of the German soldier, which has been tested quite recently. From it
we expect a victory over that 'up-to-date' pseudo-culture which is now
the fashion. What we should hope for the future is that schools may
draw the real school of culture into this struggle, and kindle the
flame of enthusiasm in the younger generation, more particularly in
public schools, for that which is truly German; and in this way
so-called classical education will resume its natural place and
recover its one possible starting-point.

"A thorough reformation and purification of the public school can only
be the outcome of a profound and powerful reformation and purification
of the German spirit. It is a very complex and difficult task to find
the border-line which joins the heart of the Germanic spirit with the
genius of Greece. Not, however, before the noblest needs of genuine
German genius snatch at the hand of this genius of Greece as at a firm
post in the torrent of barbarity, not before a devouring yearning for
this genius of Greece takes possession of German genius, and not
before that view of the Greek home, on which Schiller and Goethe,
after enormous exertions, were able to feast their eyes, has become
the Mecca of the best and most gifted men, will the aim of classical
education in public schools acquire any definition; and they at least
will not be to blame who teach ever so little science and learning in
public schools, in order to keep a definite and at the same time ideal
aim in their eyes, and to rescue their pupils from that glistening
phantom which now allows itself to be called 'culture' and
'education.' This is the sad plight of the public school of to-day:
the narrowest views remain in a certain measure right, because no one
seems able to reach or, at least, to indicate the spot where all these
views culminate in error."

"No one?" the philosopher's pupil inquired with a slight quaver in his
voice; and both men were silent.


[3] It is not practicable to translate these German solecisms by
similar instances of English solecisms. The reader who is interested
in the subject will find plenty of material in a book like the Oxford
_King's English_.

[4] German: _Formelle Bildung._

[5] German: _Materielle Bildung._


(_Delivered on the 27th of February 1872._)

Ladies and Gentlemen,--At the close of my last lecture, the
conversation to which I was a listener, and the outlines of which, as
I clearly recollect them, I am now trying to lay before you, was
interrupted by a long and solemn pause. Both the philosopher and his
companion sat silent, sunk in deep dejection: the peculiarly critical
state of that important educational institution, the German public
school, lay upon their souls like a heavy burden, which one single,
well-meaning individual is not strong enough to remove, and the
multitude, though strong, not well meaning enough.

Our solitary thinkers were perturbed by two facts: by clearly
perceiving on the one hand that what might rightly be called
"classical education" was now only a far-off ideal, a castle in the
air, which could not possibly be built as a reality on the foundations
of our present educational system, and that, on the other hand, what
was now, with customary and unopposed euphemism, pointed to as
"classical education" could only claim the value of a pretentious
illusion, the best effect of which was that the expression "classical
education" still lived on and had not yet lost its pathetic sound.
These two worthy men saw clearly, by the system of instruction in
vogue, that the time was not yet ripe for a higher culture, a culture
founded upon that of the ancients: the neglected state of linguistic
instruction; the forcing of students into learned historical paths,
instead of giving them a practical training; the connection of certain
practices, encouraged in the public schools, with the objectionable
spirit of our journalistic publicity--all these easily perceptible
phenomena of the teaching of German led to the painful certainty that
the most beneficial of those forces which have come down to us from
classical antiquity are not yet known in our public schools: forces
which would train students for the struggle against the barbarism of
the present age, and which will perhaps once more transform the public
schools into the arsenals and workshops of this struggle.

On the other hand, it would seem in the meantime as if the spirit of
antiquity, in its fundamental principles, had already been driven away
from the portals of the public schools, and as if here also the gates
were thrown open as widely as possible to the be-flattered and
pampered type of our present self-styled "German culture." And if the
solitary talkers caught a glimpse of a single ray of hope, it was that
things would have to become still worse, that what was as yet divined
only by the few would soon be clearly perceived by the many, and that
then the time for honest and resolute men for the earnest
consideration of the scope of the education of the masses would not be
far distant.

After a few minutes' silent reflection, the philosopher's companion
turned to him and said: "You used to hold out hopes to me, but now you
have done more: you have widened my intelligence, and with it my
strength and courage: now indeed can I look on the field of battle
with more hardihood, now indeed do I repent of my too hasty flight. We
want nothing for ourselves, and it should be nothing to us how many
individuals may fall in this battle, or whether we ourselves may be
among the first. Just because we take this matter so seriously, we
should not take our own poor selves so seriously: at the very moment
we are falling some one else will grasp the banner of our faith. I
will not even consider whether I am strong enough for such a fight,
whether I can offer sufficient resistance; it may even be an
honourable death to fall to the accompaniment of the mocking laughter
of such enemies, whose seriousness has frequently seemed to us to be
something ridiculous. When I think how my contemporaries prepared
themselves for the highest posts in the scholastic profession, as I
myself have done, then I know how we often laughed at the exact
contrary, and grew serious over something quite different----"

"Now, my friend," interrupted the philosopher, laughingly, "you speak
as one who would fain dive into the water without being able to swim,
and who fears something even more than the mere drowning; _not_ being
drowned, but laughed at. But being laughed at should be the very last
thing for us to dread; for we are in a sphere where there are too many
truths to tell, too many formidable, painful, unpardonable truths, for
us to escape hatred, and only fury here and there will give rise to
some sort of embarrassed laughter. Just think of the innumerable crowd
of teachers, who, in all good faith, have assimilated the system of
education which has prevailed up to the present, that they may
cheerfully and without over-much deliberation carry it further on.
What do you think it will seem like to these men when they hear of
projects from which they are excluded _beneficio naturæ_; of commands
which their mediocre abilities are totally unable to carry out; of
hopes which find no echo in them; of battles the war-cries of which
they do not understand, and in the fighting of which they can take
part only as dull and obtuse rank and file? But, without exaggeration,
that must necessarily be the position of practically all the teachers
in our higher educational establishments: and indeed we cannot wonder
at this when we consider how such a teacher originates, how he
_becomes_ a teacher of such high status. Such a large number of higher
educational establishments are now to be found everywhere that far
more teachers will continue to be required for them than the nature of
even a highly-gifted people can produce; and thus an inordinate stream
of undesirables flows into these institutions, who, however, by their
preponderating numbers and their instinct of 'similis simile gaudet'
gradually come to determine the nature of these institutions. There
may be a few people, hopelessly unfamiliar with pedagogical matters,
who believe that our present profusion of public schools and teachers,
which is manifestly out of all proportion, can be changed into a real
profusion, an _ubertas ingenii_, merely by a few rules and
regulations, and without any reduction in the number of these
institutions. But we may surely be unanimous in recognising that by
the very nature of things only an exceedingly small number of people
are destined for a true course of education, and that a much smaller
number of higher educational establishments would suffice for their
further development, but that, in view of the present large numbers of
educational institutions, those for whom in general such institutions
ought only to be established must feel themselves to be the least
facilitated in their progress.

"The same holds good in regard to teachers. It is precisely the best
teachers--those who, generally speaking, judged by a high standard,
are worthy of this honourable name--who are now perhaps the least
fitted, in view of the present standing of our public schools, for the
education of these unselected youths, huddled together in a confused
heap; but who must rather, to a certain extent, keep hidden from them
the best they could give: and, on the other hand, by far the larger
number of these teachers feel themselves quite at home in these
institutions, as their moderate abilities stand in a kind of
harmonious relationship to the dullness of their pupils. It is from
this majority that we hear the ever-resounding call for the
establishment of new public schools and higher educational
institutions: we are living in an age which, by ringing the changes on
its deafening and continual cry, would certainly give one the
impression that there was an unprecedented thirst for culture which
eagerly sought to be quenched. But it is just at this point that one
should learn to hear aright: it is here, without being disconcerted by
the thundering noise of the education-mongers, that we must confront
those who talk so tirelessly about the educational necessities of
their time. Then we should meet with a strange disillusionment, one
which we, my good friend, have often met with: those blatant heralds
of educational needs, when examined at close quarters, are suddenly
seen to be transformed into zealous, yea, fanatical opponents of true
culture, _i.e._ all those who hold fast to the aristocratic nature of
the mind; for, at bottom, they regard as their goal the emancipation
of the masses from the mastery of the great few; they seek to
overthrow the most sacred hierarchy in the kingdom of the
intellect--the servitude of the masses, their submissive obedience,
their instinct of loyalty to the rule of genius.

"I have long accustomed myself to look with caution upon those who are
ardent in the cause of the so-called 'education of the people' in the
common meaning of the phrase; since for the most part they desire for
themselves, consciously or unconsciously, absolutely unlimited
freedom, which must inevitably degenerate into something resembling
the saturnalia of barbaric times, and which the sacred hierarchy of
nature will never grant them. They were born to serve and to obey; and
every moment in which their limping or crawling or broken-winded
thoughts are at work shows us clearly out of which clay nature moulded
them, and what trade mark she branded thereon. The education of the
masses cannot, therefore, be our aim; but rather the education of a
few picked men for great and lasting works. We well know that a just
posterity judges the collective intellectual state of a time only by
those few great and lonely figures of the period, and gives its
decision in accordance with the manner in which they are recognised,
encouraged, and honoured, or, on the other hand, in which they are
snubbed, elbowed aside, and kept down. What is called the 'education
of the masses' cannot be accomplished except with difficulty; and even
if a system of universal compulsory education be applied, they can
only be reached outwardly: those individual lower levels where,
generally speaking, the masses come into contact with culture, where
the people nourishes its religious instinct, where it poetises its
mythological images, where it keeps up its faith in its customs,
privileges, native soil, and language--all these levels can scarcely
be reached by direct means, and in any case only by violent
demolition. And, in serious matters of this kind, to hasten forward
the progress of the education of the people means simply the
postponement of this violent demolition, and the maintenance of that
wholesome unconsciousness, that sound sleep, of the people, without
which counter-action and remedy no culture, with the exhausting strain
and excitement of its own actions, can make any headway.

"We know, however, what the aspiration is of those who would disturb
the healthy slumber of the people, and continually call out to them:
'Keep your eyes open! Be sensible! Be wise!' we know the aim of those
who profess to satisfy excessive educational requirements by means of
an extraordinary increase in the number of educational institutions
and the conceited tribe of teachers originated thereby. These very
people, using these very means, are fighting against the natural
hierarchy in the realm of the intellect, and destroying the roots of
all those noble and sublime plastic forces which have their material
origin in the unconsciousness of the people, and which fittingly
terminate in the procreation of genius and its due guidance and proper
training. It is only in the simile of the mother that we can grasp the
meaning and the responsibility of the true education of the people in
respect to genius: its real origin is not to be found in such
education; it has, so to speak, only a metaphysical source, a
metaphysical home. But for the genius to make his appearance; for him
to emerge from among the people; to portray the reflected picture, as
it were, the dazzling brilliancy of the peculiar colours of this
people; to depict the noble destiny of a people in the similitude of
an individual in a work which will last for all time, thereby making
his nation itself eternal, and redeeming it from the ever-shifting
element of transient things: all this is possible for the genius only
when he has been brought up and come to maturity in the tender care of
the culture of a people; whilst, on the other hand, without this
sheltering home, the genius will not, generally speaking, be able to
rise to the height of his eternal flight, but will at an early moment,
like a stranger weather-driven upon a bleak, snow-covered desert,
slink away from the inhospitable land."

"You astonish me with such a metaphysics of genius," said the
teacher's companion, "and I have only a hazy conception of the
accuracy of your similitude. On the other hand, I fully understand
what you have said about the surplus of public schools and the
corresponding surplus of higher grade teachers; and in this regard I
myself have collected some information which assures me that the
educational tendency of the public school _must_ right itself by this
very surplus of teachers who have really nothing at all to do with
education, and who are called into existence and pursue this path
solely because there is a demand for them. Every man who, in an
unexpected moment of enlightenment, has convinced himself of the
singularity and inaccessibility of Hellenic antiquity, and has warded
off this conviction after an exhausting struggle--every such man knows
that the door leading to this enlightenment will never remain open to
all comers; and he deems it absurd, yea disgraceful, to use the Greeks
as he would any other tool he employs when following his profession or
earning his living, shamelessly fumbling with coarse hands amidst the
relics of these holy men. This brazen and vulgar feeling is, however,
most common in the profession from which the largest numbers of
teachers for the public schools are drawn, the philological
profession, wherefore the reproduction and continuation of such a
feeling in the public school will not surprise us.

"Just look at the younger generation of philologists: how seldom we
see in them that humble feeling that we, when compared with such a
world as it was, have no right to exist at all: how coolly and
fearlessly, as compared with us, did that young brood build its
miserable nests in the midst of the magnificent temples! A powerful
voice from every nook and cranny should ring in the ears of those who,
from the day they begin their connection with the university, roam at
will with such self-complacency and shamelessness among the
awe-inspiring relics of that noble civilisation: 'Hence, ye
uninitiated, who will never be initiated; fly away in silence and
shame from these sacred chambers!' But this voice speaks in vain; for
one must to some extent be a Greek to understand a Greek curse of
excommunication. But these people I am speaking of are so barbaric
that they dispose of these relics to suit themselves: all their modern
conveniences and fancies are brought with them and concealed among
those ancient pillars and tombstones, and it gives rise to great
rejoicing when somebody finds, among the dust and cobwebs of
antiquity, something that he himself had slyly hidden there not so
very long before. One of them makes verses and takes care to consult
Hesychius' Lexicon. Something there immediately assures him that he is
destined to be an imitator of Æschylus, and leads him to believe,
indeed, that he 'has something in common with' Æschylus: the miserable
poetaster! Yet another peers with the suspicious eye of a policeman
into every contradiction, even into the shadow of every
contradiction, of which Homer was guilty: he fritters away his life in
tearing Homeric rags to tatters and sewing them together again, rags
that he himself was the first to filch from the poet's kingly robe. A
third feels ill at ease when examining all the mysterious and
orgiastic sides of antiquity: he makes up his mind once and for all to
let the enlightened Apollo alone pass without dispute, and to see in
the Athenian a gay and intelligent but nevertheless somewhat immoral
Apollonian. What a deep breath he draws when he succeeds in raising
yet another dark corner of antiquity to the level of his own
intelligence!--when, for example, he discovers in Pythagoras a
colleague who is as enthusiastic as himself in arguing about politics.
Another racks his brains as to why OEdipus was condemned by fate to
perform such abominable deeds--killing his father, marrying his
mother. Where lies the blame! Where the poetic justice! Suddenly it
occurs to him: OEdipus was a passionate fellow, lacking all Christian
gentleness--he even fell into an unbecoming rage when Tiresias called
him a monster and the curse of the whole country. Be humble and meek!
was what Sophocles tried to teach, otherwise you will have to marry
your mothers and kill your fathers! Others, again, pass their lives in
counting the number of verses written by Greek and Roman poets, and
are delighted with the proportions 7:13 = 14:26. Finally, one of them
brings forward his solution of a question, such as the Homeric poems
considered from the standpoint of prepositions, and thinks he has
drawn the truth from the bottom of the well with +ana+ and +kata+. All
of them, however, with the most widely separated aims in view, dig and
burrow in Greek soil with a restlessness and a blundering awkwardness
that must surely be painful to a true friend of antiquity: and thus it
comes to pass that I should like to take by the hand every talented or
talentless man who feels a certain professional inclination urging him
on to the study of antiquity, and harangue him as follows: 'Young sir,
do you know what perils threaten you, with your little stock of school
learning, before you become a man in the full sense of the word? Have
you heard that, according to Aristotle, it is by no means a tragic
death to be slain by a statue? Does that surprise you? Know, then,
that for centuries philologists have been trying, with ever-failing
strength, to re-erect the fallen statue of Greek antiquity, but
without success; for it is a colossus around which single individual
men crawl like pygmies. The leverage of the united representatives of
modern culture is utilised for the purpose; but it invariably happens
that the huge column is scarcely more than lifted from the ground when
it falls down again, crushing beneath its weight the luckless wights
under it. That, however, may be tolerated, for every being must perish
by some means or other; but who is there to guarantee that during all
these attempts the statue itself will not break in pieces! The
philologists are being crushed by the Greeks--perhaps we can put up
with this--but antiquity itself threatens to be crushed by these
philologists! Think that over, you easy-going young man; and turn
back, lest you too should not be an iconoclast!'"

"Indeed," said the philosopher, laughing, "there are many philologists
who have turned back as you so much desire, and I notice a great
contrast with my own youthful experience. Consciously or
unconsciously, large numbers of them have concluded that it is
hopeless and useless for them to come into direct contact with
classical antiquity, hence they are inclined to look upon this study
as barren, superseded, out-of-date. This herd has turned with much
greater zest to the science of language: here in this wide expanse of
virgin soil, where even the most mediocre gifts can be turned to
account, and where a kind of insipidity and dullness is even looked
upon as decided talent, with the novelty and uncertainty of methods
and the constant danger of making fantastic mistakes--here, where dull
regimental routine and discipline are desiderata--here the newcomer is
no longer frightened by the majestic and warning voice that rises from
the ruins of antiquity: here every one is welcomed with open arms,
including even him who never arrived at any uncommon impression or
noteworthy thought after a perusal of Sophocles and Aristophanes, with
the result that they end in an etymological tangle, or are seduced
into collecting the fragments of out-of-the-way dialects--and their
time is spent in associating and dissociating, collecting and
scattering, and running hither and thither consulting books. And such
a usefully employed philologist would now fain be a teacher! He now
undertakes to teach the youth of the public schools something about
the ancient writers, although he himself has read them without any
particular impression, much less with insight! What a dilemma!
Antiquity has said nothing to him, consequently he has nothing to say
about antiquity. A sudden thought strikes him: why is he a skilled
philologist at all! Why did these authors write Latin and Greek! And
with a light heart he immediately begins to etymologise with Homer,
calling Lithuanian or Ecclesiastical Slavonic, or, above all, the
sacred Sanskrit, to his assistance: as if Greek lessons were merely
the excuse for a general introduction to the study of languages, and
as if Homer were lacking in only one respect, namely, not being
written in pre-Indogermanic. Whoever is acquainted with our present
public schools well knows what a wide gulf separates their teachers
from classicism, and how, from a feeling of this want, comparative
philology and allied professions have increased their numbers to such
an unheard-of degree."

"What I mean is," said the other, "it would depend upon whether a
teacher of classical culture did _not_ confuse his Greeks and Romans
with the other peoples, the barbarians, whether he could _never_ put
Greek and Latin _on a level with_ other languages: so far as his
classicalism is concerned, it is a matter of indifference whether the
framework of these languages concurs with or is in any way related to
the other languages: such a concurrence does not interest him at all;
his real concern is with _what is not common to both_, with what shows
him that those two peoples were not barbarians as compared with the
others--in so far, of course, as he is a true teacher of culture and
models himself after the majestic patterns of the classics."

"I may be wrong," said the philosopher, "but I suspect that, owing to
the way in which Latin and Greek are now taught in schools, the
accurate grasp of these languages, the ability to speak and write them
with ease, is lost, and that is something in which my own generation
distinguished itself--a generation, indeed, whose few survivers have
by this time grown old; whilst, on the other hand, the present
teachers seem to impress their pupils with the genetic and historical
importance of the subject to such an extent that, at best, their
scholars ultimately turn into little Sanskritists, etymological
spitfires, or reckless conjecturers; but not one of them can read his
Plato or Tacitus with pleasure, as we old folk can. The public schools
may still be seats of learning: not, however of _the_ learning which,
as it were, is only the natural and involuntary auxiliary of a culture
that is directed towards the noblest ends; but rather of that culture
which might be compared to the hypertrophical swelling of an unhealthy
body. The public schools are certainly the seats of this obesity, if,
indeed, they have not degenerated into the abodes of that elegant
barbarism which is boasted of as being 'German culture of the

"But," asked the other, "what is to become of that large body of
teachers who have not been endowed with a true gift for culture, and
who set up as teachers merely to gain a livelihood from the
profession, because there is a demand for them, because a superfluity
of schools brings with it a superfluity of teachers? Where shall they
go when antiquity peremptorily orders them to withdraw? Must they not
be sacrificed to those powers of the present who, day after day, call
out to them from the never-ending columns of the press 'We are
culture! We are education! We are at the zenith! We are the apexes of
the pyramids! We are the aims of universal history!'--when they hear
the seductive promises, when the shameful signs of non-culture, the
plebeian publicity of the so-called 'interests of culture' are
extolled for their benefit in magazines and newspapers as an entirely
new and the best possible, full-grown form of culture! Whither shall
the poor fellows fly when they feel the presentiment that these
promises are not true--where but to the most obtuse, sterile
scientificality, that here the shriek of culture may no longer be
audible to them? Pursued in this way, must they not end, like the
ostrich, by burying their heads in the sand? Is it not a real
happiness for them, buried as they are among dialects, etymologies,
and conjectures, to lead a life like that of the ants, even though
they are miles removed from true culture, if only they can close their
ears tightly and be deaf to the voice of the 'elegant' culture of the

"You are right, my friend," said the philosopher, "but whence comes the
urgent necessity for a surplus of schools for culture, which further
gives rise to the necessity for a surplus of teachers?--when we so
clearly see that the demand for a surplus springs from a sphere which is
hostile to culture, and that the consequences of this surplus only lead
to non-culture. Indeed, we can discuss this dire necessity only in so
far as the modern State is willing to discuss these things with us, and
is prepared to follow up its demands by force: which phenomenon
certainly makes the same impression upon most people as if they were
addressed by the eternal law of things. For the rest, a 'Culture-State,'
to use the current expression, which makes such demands, is rather a
novelty, and has only come to a 'self-understanding' within the last
half century, _i.e._ in a period when (to use the favourite popular
word) so many 'self-understood' things came into being, but which are in
themselves not 'self-understood' at all. This right to higher education
has been taken so seriously by the most powerful of modern
States--Prussia--that the objectionable principle it has adopted, taken
in connection with the well-known daring and hardihood of this State, is
seen to have a menacing and dangerous consequence for the true German
spirit; for we see endeavours being made in this quarter to raise the
public school, formally systematised, up to the so-called 'level of the
time.' Here is to be found all that mechanism by means of which as many
scholars as possible are urged on to take up courses of public school
training: here, indeed, the State has its most powerful inducement--the
concession of certain privileges respecting military service, with the
natural consequence that, according to the unprejudiced evidence of
statistical officials, by this, and by this only, can we explain the
universal congestion of all Prussian public schools, and the urgent and
continual need for new ones. What more can the State do for a surplus of
educational institutions than bring all the higher and the majority of
the lower civil service appointments, the right of entry to the
universities, and even the most influential military posts into close
connection with the public school: and all this in a country where both
universal military service and the highest offices of the State
unconsciously attract all gifted natures to them. The public school is
here looked upon as an honourable aim, and every one who feels himself
urged on to the sphere of government will be found on his way to it.
This is a new and quite original occurrence: the State assumes the
attitude of a mystogogue of culture, and, whilst it promotes its own
ends, it obliges every one of its servants not to appear in its presence
without the torch of universal State education in their hands, by the
flickering light of which they may again recognise the State as the
highest goal, as the reward of all their strivings after education.

"Now this last phenomenon should indeed surprise them; it should
remind them of that allied, slowly understood tendency of a philosophy
which was formerly promoted for reasons of State, namely, the
tendency of the Hegelian philosophy: yea, it would perhaps be no
exaggeration to say that, in the subordination of all strivings after
education to reasons of State, Prussia has appropriated, with success,
the principle and the useful heirloom of the Hegelian philosophy,
whose apotheosis of the State in _this_ subordination certainly
reaches its height."

"But," said the philosopher's companion, "what purposes can the State
have in view with such a strange aim? For that it has some State
objects in view is seen in the manner in which the conditions of
Prussian schools are admired by, meditated upon, and occasionally
imitated by other States. These other States obviously presuppose
something here that, if adopted, would tend towards the maintenance
and power of the State, like our well-known and popular conscription.
Where everyone proudly wears his soldier's uniform at regular
intervals, where almost every one has absorbed a uniform type of
national culture through the public schools, enthusiastic hyperboles
may well be uttered concerning the systems employed in former times,
and a form of State omnipotence which was attained only in antiquity,
and which almost every young man, by both instinct and training,
thinks it is the crowning glory and highest aim of human beings to

"Such a comparison," said the philosopher, "would be quite
hyperbolical, and would not hobble along on one leg only. For, indeed,
the ancient State emphatically did not share the utilitarian point of
view of recognising as culture only what was directly useful to the
State itself, and was far from wishing to destroy those impulses which
did not seem to be immediately applicable. For this very reason the
profound Greek had for the State that strong feeling of admiration and
thankfulness which is so distasteful to modern men; because he clearly
recognised not only that without such State protection the germs of
his culture could not develop, but also that all his inimitable and
perennial culture had flourished so luxuriantly under the wise and
careful guardianship of the protection afforded by the State. The
State was for his culture not a supervisor, regulator, and watchman,
but a vigorous and muscular companion and friend, ready for war, who
accompanied his noble, admired, and, as it were, ethereal friend
through disagreeable reality, earning his thanks therefor. This,
however, does not happen when a modern State lays claim to such hearty
gratitude because it renders such chivalrous service to German culture
and art: for in this regard its past is as ignominious as its present,
as a proof of which we have but to think of the manner in which the
memory of our great poets and artists is celebrated in German cities,
and how the highest objects of these German masters are supported on
the part of the State.

"There must therefore be peculiar circumstances surrounding both this
purpose towards which the State is tending, and which always promotes
what is here called 'education'; and surrounding likewise the culture
thus promoted, which subordinates itself to this purpose of the State.
With the real German spirit and the education derived therefrom, such
as I have slowly outlined for you, this purpose of the State is at
war, hiddenly or openly: _the_ spirit of education, which is welcomed
and encouraged with such interest by the State, and owing to which the
schools of this country are so much admired abroad, must accordingly
originate in a sphere that never comes into contact with this true
German spirit: with that spirit which speaks to us so wondrously from
the inner heart of the German Reformation, German music, and German
philosophy, and which, like a noble exile, is regarded with such
indifference and scorn by the luxurious education afforded by the
State. This spirit is a stranger: it passes by in solitary sadness,
and far away from it the censer of pseudo-culture is swung backwards
and forwards, which, amidst the acclamations of 'educated' teachers
and journalists, arrogates to itself its name and privileges, and
metes out insulting treatment to the word 'German.' Why does the State
require that surplus of educational institutions, of teachers? Why
this education of the masses on such an extended scale? Because the
true German spirit is hated, because the aristocratic nature of true
culture is feared, because the people endeavour in this way to drive
single great individuals into self-exile, so that the claims of the
masses to education may be, so to speak, planted down and carefully
tended, in order that the many may in this way endeavour to escape the
rigid and strict discipline of the few great leaders, so that the
masses may be persuaded that they can easily find the path for
themselves--following the guiding star of the State!

"A new phenomenon! The State as the guiding star of culture! In the
meantime one thing consoles me: this German spirit, which people are
combating so much, and for which they have substituted a gaudily
attired _locum tenens_, this spirit is brave: it will fight and redeem
itself into a purer age; noble, as it is now, and victorious, as it
one day will be, it will always preserve in its mind a certain pitiful
toleration of the State, if the latter, hard-pressed in the hour of
extremity, secures such a pseudo-culture as its associate. For what,
after all, do we know about the difficult task of governing men,
_i.e._ to keep law, order, quietness, and peace among millions of
boundlessly egoistical, unjust, unreasonable, dishonourable, envious,
malignant, and hence very narrow-minded and perverse human beings; and
thus to protect the few things that the State has conquered for itself
against covetous neighbours and jealous robbers? Such a hard-pressed
State holds out its arms to any associate, grasps at any straw; and
when such an associate does introduce himself with flowery eloquence,
when he adjudges the State, as Hegel did, to be an 'absolutely
complete ethical organism,' the be-all and end-all of every one's
education, and goes on to indicate how he himself can best promote the
interests of the State--who will be surprised if, without further
parley, the State falls upon his neck and cries aloud in a barbaric
voice of full conviction: 'Yes! Thou art education! Thou art indeed


(_Delivered on the 5th of March 1872._)

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,--Now that you have followed my tale up to this
point, and that we have made ourselves joint masters of the solitary,
remote, and at times abusive duologue of the philosopher and his
companion, I sincerely hope that you, like strong swimmers, are ready
to proceed on the second half of our journey, especially as I can
promise you that a few other marionettes will appear in the
puppet-play of my adventure, and that if up to the present you have
only been able to do little more than endure what I have been telling
you, the waves of my story will now bear you more quickly and easily
towards the end. In other words we have now come to a turning, and it
would be advisable for us to take a short glance backwards to see what
we think we have gained from such a varied conversation.

"Remain in your present position," the philosopher seemed to say to
his companion, "for you may cherish hopes. It is more and more clearly
evident that we have no educational institutions at all; but that we
ought to have them. Our public schools--established, it would seem,
for this high object--have either become the nurseries of a
reprehensible culture which repels the true culture with profound
hatred--_i.e._ a true, aristocratic culture, founded upon a few
carefully chosen minds; or they foster a micrological and sterile
learning which, while it is far removed from culture, has at least
this merit, that it avoids that reprehensible culture as well as the
true culture." The philosopher had particularly drawn his companion's
attention to the strange corruption which must have entered into the
heart of culture when the State thought itself capable of tyrannising
over it and of attaining its ends through it; and further when the
State, in conjunction with this culture, struggled against other
hostile forces as well as against _the_ spirit which the philosopher
ventured to call the "true German spirit." This spirit, linked to the
Greeks by the noblest ties, and shown by its past history to have been
steadfast and courageous, pure and lofty in its aims, its faculties
qualifying it for the high task of freeing modern man from the curse
of modernity--this spirit is condemned to live apart, banished from
its inheritance. But when its slow, painful tones of woe resound
through the desert of the present, then the overladen and gaily-decked
caravan of culture is pulled up short, horror-stricken. We must not
only astonish, but terrify--such was the philosopher's opinion: not to
fly shamefully away, but to take the offensive, was his advice; but he
especially counselled his companion not to ponder too anxiously over
the individual from whom, through a higher instinct, this aversion for
the present barbarism proceeded, "Let it perish: the Pythian god had
no difficulty in finding a new tripod, a second Pythia, so long, at
least, as the mystic cold vapours rose from the earth."

The philosopher once more began to speak: "Be careful to remember, my
friend," said he, "there are two things you must not confuse. A man
must learn a great deal that he may live and take part in the struggle
for existence; but everything that he as an individual learns and does
with this end in view has nothing whatever to do with culture. This
latter only takes its beginning in a sphere that lies far above the
world of necessity, indigence, and struggle for existence. The
question now is to what extent a man values his ego in comparison with
other egos, how much of his strength he uses up in the endeavour to
earn his living. Many a one, by stoically confining his needs within a
narrow compass, will shortly and easily reach the sphere in which he
may forget, and, as it were, shake off his ego, so that he can enjoy
perpetual youth in a solar system of timeless and impersonal things.
Another widens the scope and needs of his ego as much as possible, and
builds the mausoleum of this ego in vast proportions, as if he were
prepared to fight and conquer that terrible adversary, Time. In this
instinct also we may see a longing for immortality: wealth and power,
wisdom, presence of mind, eloquence, a flourishing outward aspect, a
renowned name--all these are merely turned into the means by which an
insatiable, personal will to live craves for new life, with which,
again, it hankers after an eternity that is at last seen to be

"But even in this highest form of the ego, in the enhanced needs of
such a distended and, as it were, collective individual, true culture
is never touched upon; and if, for example, art is sought after, only
its disseminating and stimulating actions come into prominence, _i.e._
those which least give rise to pure and noble art, and most of all to
low and degraded forms of it. For in all his efforts, however great
and exceptional they seem to the onlooker, he never succeeds in
freeing himself from his own hankering and restless personality: that
illuminated, ethereal sphere where one may contemplate without the
obstruction of one's own personality continually recedes from him--and
thus, let him learn, travel, and collect as he may, he must always
live an exiled life at a remote distance from a higher life and from
true culture. For true culture would scorn to contaminate itself with
the needy and covetous individual; it well knows how to give the slip
to the man who would fain employ it as a means of attaining to
egoistic ends; and if any one cherishes the belief that he has firmly
secured it as a means of livelihood, and that he can procure the
necessities of life by its sedulous cultivation, then it suddenly
steals away with noiseless steps and an air of derisive mockery.[6]

"I will thus ask you, my friend, not to confound this culture, this
sensitive, fastidious, ethereal goddess, with that useful
maid-of-all-work which is also called 'culture,' but which is only
the intellectual servant and counsellor of one's practical
necessities, wants, and means of livelihood Every kind of training,
however, which holds out the prospect of bread-winning as its end and
aim, is not a training for culture as we understand the word; but
merely a collection of precepts and directions to show how, in the
struggle for existence, a man may preserve and protect his own person.
It may be freely admitted that for the great majority of men such a
course of instruction is of the highest importance; and the more
arduous the struggle is the more intensely must the young man strain
every nerve to utilise his strength to the best advantage.

"But--let no one think for a moment that the schools which urge him on
to this struggle and prepare him for it are in any way seriously to be
considered as establishments of culture. They are institutions which
teach one how to take part in the battle of life; whether they promise
to turn out civil servants, or merchants, or officers, or wholesale
dealers, or farmers, or physicians, or men with a technical training.
The regulations and standards prevailing at such institutions differ
from those in a true educational institution; and what in the latter
is permitted, and even freely held out as often as possible, ought to
be considered as a criminal offence in the former.

"Let me give you an example. If you wish to guide a young man on the
path of true culture, beware of interrupting his naive, confident,
and, as it were, immediate and personal relationship with nature. The
woods, the rocks, the winds, the vulture, the flowers, the butterfly,
the meads, the mountain slopes, must all speak to him in their own
language; in them he must, as it were, come to know himself again in
countless reflections and images, in a variegated round of changing
visions; and in this way he will unconsciously and gradually feel the
metaphysical unity of all things in the great image of nature, and at
the same time tranquillise his soul in the contemplation of her
eternal endurance and necessity. But how many young men should be
permitted to grow up in such close and almost personal proximity to
nature! The others must learn another truth betimes: how to subdue
nature to themselves. Here is an end of this naive metaphysics; and
the physiology of plants and animals, geology, inorganic chemistry,
force their devotees to view nature from an altogether different
standpoint. What is lost by this new point of view is not only a
poetical phantasmagoria, but the instinctive, true, and unique point
of view, instead of which we have shrewd and clever calculations, and,
so to speak, overreachings of nature. Thus to the truly cultured man
is vouchsafed the inestimable benefit of being able to remain
faithful, without a break, to the contemplative instincts of his
childhood, and so to attain to a calmness, unity, consistency, and
harmony which can never be even thought of by a man who is compelled
to fight in the struggle for existence.

"You must not think, however, that I wish to withhold all praise from
our primary and secondary schools: I honour the seminaries where boys
learn arithmetic and master modern languages, and study geography and
the marvellous discoveries made in natural science. I am quite
prepared to say further that those youths who pass through the better
class of secondary schools are well entitled to make the claims put
forward by the fully-fledged public school boy; and the time is
certainly not far distant when such pupils will be everywhere freely
admitted to the universities and positions under the government, which
has hitherto been the case only with scholars from the public
schools--of our present public schools, be it noted![7] I cannot,
however, refrain from adding the melancholy reflection: if it be true
that secondary and public schools are, on the whole, working so
heartily in common towards the same ends, and differ from each other
only in such a slight degree, that they may take equal rank before the
tribunal of the State, then we completely lack another kind of
educational institutions: those for the development of culture! To say
the least, the secondary schools cannot be reproached with this; for
they have up to the present propitiously and honourably followed up
tendencies of a lower order, but one nevertheless highly necessary. In
the public schools, however, there is very much less honesty and very
much less ability too; for in them we find an instinctive feeling of
shame, the unconscious perception of the fact that the whole
institution has been ignominiously degraded, and that the sonorous
words of wise and apathetic teachers are contradictory to the dreary,
barbaric, and sterile reality. So there are no true cultural
institutions! And in those very places where a pretence to culture is
still kept up, we find the people more hopeless, atrophied, and
discontented than in the secondary schools, where the so-called
'realistic' subjects are taught! Besides this, only think how immature
and uninformed one must be in the company of such teachers when one
actually misunderstands the rigorously defined philosophical
expressions 'real' and 'realism' to such a degree as to think them the
contraries of mind and matter, and to interpret 'realism' as 'the road
to knowledge, formation, and mastery of reality.'

"I for my own part know of only two exact contraries: _institutions
for teaching culture and institutions for teaching how to succeed in
life_. All our present institutions belong to the second class; but I
am speaking only of the first."

About two hours went by while the philosophically-minded couple
chatted about such startling questions. Night slowly fell in the
meantime; and when in the twilight the philosopher's voice had sounded
like natural music through the woods, it now rang out in the profound
darkness of the night when he was speaking with excitement or even
passionately; his tones hissing and thundering far down the valley,
and reverberating among the trees and rocks. Suddenly he was silent:
he had just repeated, almost pathetically, the words, "we have no true
educational institutions; we have no true educational institutions!"
when something fell down just in front of him--it might have been a
fir-cone--and his dog barked and ran towards it. Thus interrupted, the
philosopher raised his head, and suddenly became aware of the
darkness, the cool air, and the lonely situation of himself and his
companion. "Well! What are we about!" he ejaculated, "it's dark. You
know whom we were expecting here; but he hasn't come. We have waited
in vain; let us go."

       *       *       *       *       *

I must now, ladies and gentlemen, convey to you the impressions
experienced by my friend and myself as we eagerly listened to this
conversation, which we heard distinctly in our hiding-place. I have
already told you that at that place and at that hour we had intended
to hold a festival in commemoration of something: and this something
had to do with nothing else than matters concerning educational
training, of which we, in our own youthful opinions, had garnered a
plentiful harvest during our past life. We were thus disposed to
remember with gratitude the institution which we had at one time
thought out for ourselves at that very spot in order, as I have
already mentioned, that we might reciprocally encourage and watch over
one another's educational impulses. But a sudden and unexpected light
was thrown on all that past life as we silently gave ourselves up to
the vehement words of the philosopher. As when a traveller, walking
heedlessly across unknown ground, suddenly puts his foot over the edge
of a cliff, so it now seemed to us that we had hastened to meet the
great danger rather than run away from it. Here at this spot, so
memorable to us, we heard the warning: "Back! Not another step! Know
you not whither your footsteps tend, whither this deceitful path is
luring you?"

It seemed to us that we now knew, and our feeling of overflowing
thankfulness impelled us so irresistibly towards our earnest
counsellor and trusty Eckart, that both of us sprang up at the same
moment and rushed towards the philosopher to embrace him. He was just
about to move off, and had already turned sideways when we rushed up
to him. The dog turned sharply round and barked, thinking doubtless,
like the philosopher's companion, of an attempt at robbery rather than
an enraptured embrace. It was plain that he had forgotten us. In a
word, he ran away. Our embrace was a miserable failure when we did
overtake him; for my friend gave a loud yell as the dog bit him, and
the philosopher himself sprang away from me with such force that we
both fell. What with the dog and the men there was a scramble that
lasted a few minutes, until my friend began to call out loudly,
parodying the philosopher's own words: "In the name of all culture and
pseudo-culture, what does the silly dog want with us? Hence, you
confounded dog; you uninitiated, never to be initiated; hasten away
from us, silent and ashamed!" After this outburst matters were cleared
up to some extent, at any rate so far as they could be cleared up in
the darkness of the wood. "Oh, it's you!" ejaculated the philosopher,
"our duellists! How you startled us! What on earth drives you to jump
out upon us like this at such a time of the night?"

"Joy, thankfulness, and reverence," said we, shaking the old man by
the hand, whilst the dog barked as if he understood, "we can't let you
go without telling you this. And if you are to understand everything
you must not go away just yet; we want to ask you about so many things
that lie heavily on our hearts. Stay yet awhile; we know every foot of
the way and can accompany you afterwards. The gentleman you expect may
yet turn up. Look over yonder on the Rhine: what is that we see so
clearly floating on the surface of the water as if surrounded by the
light of many torches? It is there that we may look for your friend, I
would even venture to say that it is he who is coming towards you with
all those lights."

And so much did we assail the surprised old man with our entreaties,
promises, and fantastic delusions, that we persuaded the philosopher
to walk to and fro with us on the little plateau, "by learned lumber
undisturbed," as my friend added.

"Shame on you!" said the philosopher, "if you really want to quote
something, why choose Faust? However, I will give in to you, quotation
or no quotation, if only our young companions will keep still and not
run away as suddenly as they made their appearance, for they are like
will-o'-the-wisps; we are amazed when they are there and again when
they are not there."

My friend immediately recited--

    Respect, I hope, will teach us how we may
    Our lighter disposition keep at bay.
    Our course is only zig-zag as a rule.

The philosopher was surprised, and stood still. "You astonish me, you
will-o'-the-wisps," he said; "this is no quagmire we are on now. Of
what use is this ground to you? What does the proximity of a
philosopher mean to you? For around him the air is sharp and clear,
the ground dry and hard. You must find out a more fantastic region for
your zig-zagging inclinations."

"I think," interrupted the philosopher's companion at this point, "the
gentlemen have already told us that they promised to meet some one
here at this hour; but it seems to me that they listened to our comedy
of education like a chorus, and truly 'idealistic spectators'--for
they did not disturb us; we thought we were alone with each other."

"Yes, that is true," said the philosopher, "that praise must not be
withheld from them, but it seems to me that they deserve still higher

Here I seized the philosopher's hand and said: "That man must be as
obtuse as a reptile, with his stomach on the ground and his head
buried in mud, who can listen to such a discourse as yours without
becoming earnest and thoughtful, or even excited and indignant.
Self-accusation and annoyance might perhaps cause a few to get angry;
but our impression was quite different: the only thing I do not know
is how exactly to describe it. This hour was so well-timed for us, and
our minds were so well prepared, that we sat there like empty vessels,
and now it seems as if we were filled to overflowing with this new
wisdom: for I no longer know how to help myself, and if some one asked
me what I am thinking of doing to-morrow, or what I have made up my
mind to do with myself from now on, I should not know what to answer.
For it is easy to see that we have up to the present been living and
educating ourselves in the wrong way--but what can we do to cross over
the chasm between to-day and to-morrow?"

"Yes," acknowledged my friend, "I have a similar feeling, and I ask
the same question: but besides that I feel as if I were frightened
away from German culture by entertaining such high and ideal views of
its task; yea, as if I were unworthy to co-operate with it in carrying
out its aims. I only see a resplendent file of the highest natures
moving towards this goal; I can imagine over what abysses and through
what temptations this procession travels. Who would dare to be so bold
as to join in it?"

At this point the philosopher's companion again turned to him and
said: "Don't be angry with me when I tell you that I too have a
somewhat similar feeling, which I have not mentioned to you before.
When talking to you I often felt drawn out of myself, as it were, and
inspired with your ardour and hopes till I almost forgot myself. Then
a calmer moment arrives; a piercing wind of reality brings me back to
earth--and then I see the wide gulf between us, over which you
yourself, as in a dream, draw me back again. Then what you call
'culture' merely totters meaninglessly around me or lies heavily on my
breast: it is like a shirt of mail that weighs me down, or a sword
that I cannot wield."

Our minds, as we thus argued with the philosopher, were unanimous,
and, mutually encouraging and stimulating one another, we slowly
walked with him backwards and forwards along the unencumbered space
which had earlier in the day served us as a shooting range. And then,
in the still night, under the peaceful light of hundreds of stars, we
all broke out into a tirade which ran somewhat as follows:--

"You have told us so much about the genius," we began, "about his
lonely and wearisome journey through the world, as if nature never
exhibited anything but the most diametrical contraries: in one place
the stupid, dull masses, acting by instinct, and then, on a far higher
and more remote plane, the great contemplating few, destined for the
production of immortal works. But now you call these the apexes of the
intellectual pyramid: it would, however, seem that between the broad,
heavily burdened foundation up to the highest of the free and
unencumbered peaks there must be countless intermediate degrees, and
that here we must apply the saying _natura non facit saltus_. Where
then are we to look for the beginning of what you call culture; where
is the line of demarcation to be drawn between the spheres which are
ruled from below upwards and those which are ruled from above
downwards? And if it be only in connection with these exalted beings
that true culture may be spoken of, how are institutions to be founded
for the uncertain existence of such natures, how can we devise
educational establishments which shall be of benefit only to these
select few? It rather seems to us that such persons know how to find
their own way, and that their full strength is shown in their being
able to walk without the educational crutches necessary for other
people, and thus undisturbed to make their way through the storm and
stress of this rough world just like a phantom."

We kept on arguing in this fashion, speaking without any great ability
and not putting our thoughts in any special form: but the
philosopher's companion went even further, and said to him: "Just
think of all these great geniuses of whom we are wont to be so proud,
looking upon them as tried and true leaders and guides of this real
German spirit, whose names we commemorate by statues and festivals,
and whose works we hold up with feelings of pride for the admiration
of foreign lands--how did they obtain the education you demand for
them, to what degree do they show that they have been nourished and
matured by basking in the sun of national education? And yet they are
seen to be possible, they have nevertheless become men whom we must
honour: yea, their works themselves justify the form of the
development of these noble spirits; they justify even a certain want
of education for which we must make allowance owing to their country
and the age in which they lived. How could Lessing and Winckelmann
benefit by the German culture of their time? Even less than, or at all
events just as little as Beethoven, Schiller, Goethe, or every one of
our great poets and artists. It may perhaps be a law of nature that
only the later generations are destined to know by what divine gifts
an earlier generation was favoured."

At this point the old philosopher could not control his anger, and
shouted to his companion: "Oh, you innocent lamb of knowledge! You
gentle sucking doves, all of you! And would you give the name of
arguments to those distorted, clumsy, narrow-minded, ungainly,
crippled things? Yes, I have just now been listening to the fruits of
some of this present-day culture, and my ears are still ringing with
the sound of historical 'self-understood' things, of over-wise and
pitiless historical reasonings! Mark this, thou unprofaned Nature:
thou hast grown old, and for thousands of years this starry sky has
spanned the space above thee--but thou hast never yet heard such
conceited and, at bottom, mischievous chatter as the talk of the
present day! So you are proud of your poets and artists, my good
Teutons? You point to them and brag about them to foreign countries,
do you? And because it has given you no trouble to have them amongst
you, you have formed the pleasant theory that you need not concern
yourselves further with them? Isn't that so, my inexperienced
children: they come of their own free will, the stork brings them to
you! Who would dare to mention a midwife! You deserve an earnest
teaching, eh? You should be proud of the fact that all the noble and
brilliant men we have mentioned were prematurely suffocated, worn out,
and crushed through you, through your barbarism? You think without
shame of Lessing, who, on account of your stupidity, perished in
battle against your ludicrous gods and idols, the evils of your
theatres, your learned men, and your theologians, without once daring
to lift himself to the height of that immortal flight for which he
was brought into the world. And what are your impressions when you
think of Winckelmann, who, that he might rid his eyes of your
grotesque fatuousness, went to beg help from the Jesuits, and whose
disgraceful religious conversion recoils upon you and will always
remain an ineffaceable blemish upon you? You can even name Schiller
without blushing! Just look at his picture! The fiery, sparkling eyes,
looking at you with disdain, those flushed, death-like cheeks: can you
learn nothing from all that? In him you had a beautiful and divine
plaything, and through it was destroyed. And if it had been possible
for you to take Goethe's friendship away from this melancholy, hasty
life, hunted to premature death, then you would have crushed him even
sooner than you did. You have not rendered assistance to a single one
of our great geniuses--and now upon that fact you wish to build up the
theory that none of them shall ever be helped in future? For each of
them, however, up to this very moment, you have always been the
'resistance of the stupid world' that Goethe speaks of in his
"Epilogue to the Bell"; towards each of them you acted the part of
apathetic dullards or jealous narrow-hearts or malignant egotists. In
spite of you they created their immortal works, against you they
directed their attacks, and thanks to you they died so prematurely,
their tasks only half accomplished, blunted and dulled and shattered
in the battle. Who can tell to what these heroic men were destined to
attain if only that true German spirit had gathered them together
within the protecting walls of a powerful institution?--that spirit
which, without the help of some such institution, drags out an
isolated, debased, and degraded existence. All those great men were
utterly ruined; and it is only an insane belief in the Hegelian
'reasonableness of all happenings' which would absolve you of any
responsibility in the matter. And not those men alone! Indictments are
pouring forth against you from every intellectual province: whether I
look at the talents of our poets, philosophers, painters, or
sculptors--and not only in the case of gifts of the highest order--I
everywhere see immaturity, overstrained nerves, or prematurely
exhausted energies, abilities wasted and nipped in the bud; I
everywhere feel that 'resistance of the stupid world,' in other words,
_your_ guiltiness. That is what I am talking about when I speak of
lacking educational establishments, and why I think those which at
present claim the name in such a pitiful condition. Whoever is pleased
to call this an 'ideal desire,' and refers to it as 'ideal' as if he
were trying to get rid of it by praising me, deserves the answer that
the present system is a scandal and a disgrace, and that the man who
asks for warmth in the midst of ice and snow must indeed get angry if
he hears this referred to as an 'ideal desire.' The matter we are now
discussing is concerned with clear, urgent, and palpably evident
realities: a man who knows anything of the question feels that there
is a need which must be seen to, just like cold and hunger. But the
man who is not affected at all by this matter most certainly has a
standard by which to measure the extent of his own culture, and thus
to know what I call 'culture,' and where the line should be drawn
between that which is ruled from below upwards and that which is ruled
from above downwards."

The philosopher seemed to be speaking very heatedly. We begged him to
walk round with us again, since he had uttered the latter part of his
discourse standing near the tree-stump which had served us as a
target. For a few minutes not a word more was spoken. Slowly and
thoughtfully we walked to and fro. We did not so much feel ashamed of
having brought forward such foolish arguments as we felt a kind of
restitution of our personality. After the heated and, so far as we
were concerned, very unflattering utterance of the philosopher, we
seemed to feel ourselves nearer to him--that we even stood in a
personal relationship to him. For so wretched is man that he never
feels himself brought into such close contact with a stranger as when
the latter shows some sign of weakness, some defect. That our
philosopher had lost his temper and made use of abusive language
helped to bridge over the gulf created between us by our timid respect
for him: and for the sake of the reader who feels his indignation
rising at this suggestion let it be added that this bridge often leads
from distant hero-worship to personal love and pity. And, after the
feeling that our personality had been restored to us, this pity
gradually became stronger and stronger. Why were we making this old
man walk up and down with us between the rocks and trees at that time
of the night? And, since he had yielded to our entreaties, why could
we not have thought of a more modest and unassuming manner of having
ourselves instructed, why should the three of us have contradicted him
in such clumsy terms?

For now we saw how thoughtless, unprepared, and baseless were all the
objections we had made, and how greatly the echo of _the_ present was
heard in them, the voice of which, in the province of culture, the old
man would fain not have heard. Our objections, however, were not
purely intellectual ones: our reasons for protesting against the
philosopher's statements seemed to lie elsewhere. They arose perhaps
from the instinctive anxiety to know whether, if the philosopher's
views were carried into effect, our own personalities would find a
place in the higher or lower division; and this made it necessary for
us to find some arguments against the mode of thinking which robbed us
of our self-styled claims to culture. People, however, should not
argue with companions who feel the weight of an argument so
personally; or, as the moral in our case would have been: such
companions should not argue, should not contradict at all.

So we walked on beside the philosopher, ashamed, compassionate,
dissatisfied with ourselves, and more than ever convinced that the old
man was right and that we had done him wrong. How remote now seemed
the youthful dream of our educational institution; how clearly we saw
the danger which we had hitherto escaped merely by good luck, namely,
giving ourselves up body and soul to the educational system which
forced itself upon our notice so enticingly, from the time when we
entered the public schools up to that moment. How then had it come
about that we had not taken our places in the chorus of its admirers?
Perhaps merely because we were real students, and could still draw
back from the rough-and-tumble, the pushing and struggling, the
restless, ever-breaking waves of publicity, to seek refuge in our own
little educational establishment; which, however, time would have soon
swallowed up also.

Overcome by such reflections, we were about to address the philosopher
again, when he suddenly turned towards us, and said in a softer tone--

"I cannot be surprised if you young men behave rashly and
thoughtlessly; for it is hardly likely that you have ever seriously
considered what I have just said to you. Don't be in a hurry; carry
this question about with you, but do at any rate consider it day and
night. For you are now at the parting of the ways, and now you know
where each path leads. If you take the one, your age will receive you
with open arms, you will not find it wanting in honours and
decorations: you will form units of an enormous rank and file; and
there will be as many people like-minded standing behind you as in
front of you. And when the leader gives the word it will be re-echoed
from rank to rank. For here your first duty is this: to fight in rank
and file; and your second: to annihilate all those who refuse to form
part of the rank and file. On the other path you will have but few
fellow-travellers: it is more arduous, winding and precipitous; and
those who take the first path will mock you, for your progress is more
wearisome, and they will try to lure you over into their own ranks.
When the two paths happen to cross, however, you will be roughly
handled and thrust aside, or else shunned and isolated.

"Now, take these two parties, so different from each other in every
respect, and tell me what meaning an educational establishment would
have for them. That enormous horde, crowding onwards on the first path
towards its goal, would take the term to mean an institution by which
each of its members would become duly qualified to take his place in
the rank and file, and would be purged of everything which might tend
to make him strive after higher and more remote aims. I don't deny, of
course, that they can find pompous words with which to describe their
aims: for example, they speak of the 'universal development of free
personality upon a firm social, national, and human basis,' or they
announce as their goal: 'The founding of the peaceful sovereignty of
the people upon reason, education, and justice.'

"An educational establishment for the other and smaller company,
however, would be something vastly different. They would employ it to
prevent themselves from being separated from one another and
overwhelmed by the first huge crowd, to prevent their few select
spirits from losing sight of their splendid and noble task through
premature weariness, or from being turned aside from the true path,
corrupted, or subverted. These select spirits must complete their
work: that is the _raison d'être_ of their common institution--a work,
indeed, which, as it were, must be free from subjective traces, and
must further rise above the transient events of future times as the
pure reflection of the eternal and immutable essence of things. And
all those who occupy places in that institution must co-operate in the
endeavour to engender men of genius by this purification from
subjectiveness and the creation of the works of genius. Not a few,
even of those whose talents may be of the second or third order, are
suited to such co-operation, and only when serving in such an
educational establishment as this do they feel that they are truly
carrying out their life's task. But now it is just these talents I
speak of which are drawn away from the true path, and their instincts
estranged, by the continual seductions of that modern 'culture.'

"The egotistic emotions, weaknesses, and vanities of these few select
minds are continually assailed by the temptations unceasingly murmured
into their ears by the spirit of the age: 'Come with me! There you are
servants, retainers, tools, eclipsed by higher natures; your own
peculiar characteristics never have free play; you are tied down,
chained down, like slaves; yea, like automata: here, with me, you will
enjoy the freedom of your own personalities, as masters should, your
talents will cast their lustre on yourselves alone, with their aid you
may come to the very front rank; an innumerable train of followers
will accompany you, and the applause of public opinion will yield you
more pleasure than a nobly-bestowed commendation from the height of
genius.' Even the very best of men now yield to these temptations: and
it cannot be said that the deciding factor here is the degree of
talent, or whether a man is accessible to these voices or not; but
rather the degree and the height of a certain moral sublimity, the
instinct towards heroism, towards sacrifice--and finally a positive,
habitual need of culture, prepared by a proper kind of education,
which education, as I have previously said, is first and foremost
obedience and submission to the discipline of genius. Of this
discipline and submission, however, the present institutions called by
courtesy 'educational establishments' know nothing whatever, although
I have no doubt that the public school was originally intended to be
an institution for sowing the seeds of true culture, or at least as a
preparation for it. I have no doubt, either, that they took the first
bold steps in the wonderful and stirring times of the Reformation, and
that afterwards, in the era which gave birth to Schiller and Goethe,
there was again a growing demand for culture, like the first
protuberance of that wing spoken of by Plato in the _Phaedrus_, which,
at every contact with the beautiful, bears the soul aloft into the
upper regions, the habitations of the gods."

"Ah," began the philosopher's companion, "when you quote the divine
Plato and the world of ideas, I do not think you are angry with me,
however much my previous utterance may have merited your disapproval
and wrath. As soon as you speak of it, I feel that Platonic wing
rising within me; and it is only at intervals, when I act as the
charioteer of my soul, that I have any difficulty with the resisting
and unwilling horse that Plato has also described to us, the
'crooked, lumbering animal, put together anyhow, with a short, thick
neck; flat-faced, and of a dark colour, with grey eyes and blood-red
complexion; the mate of insolence and pride, shag-eared and deaf,
hardly yielding to whip or spur.'[8] Just think how long I have lived
at a distance from you, and how all those temptations you speak of
have endeavoured to lure me away, not perhaps without some success,
even though I myself may not have observed it. I now see more clearly
than ever the necessity for an institution which will enable us to
live and mix freely with the few men of true culture, so that we may
have them as our leaders and guiding stars. How greatly I feel the
danger of travelling alone! And when it occurred to me that I could
save myself by flight from all contact with the spirit of the time, I
found that this flight itself was a mere delusion. Continuously, with
every breath we take, some amount of that atmosphere circulates
through every vein and artery, and no solitude is lonesome or distant
enough for us to be out of reach of its fogs and clouds. Whether in
the guise of hope, doubt, profit, or virtue, the shades of that
culture hover about us; and we have been deceived by that jugglery
even here in the presence of a true hermit of culture. How steadfastly
and faithfully must the few followers of that culture--which might
almost be called sectarian--be ever on the alert! How they must
strengthen and uphold one another! How adversely would any errors be
criticised here, and how sympathetically excused! And thus, teacher, I
ask you to pardon me, after you have laboured so earnestly to set me
in the right path!"

"You use a language which I do not care for, my friend," said the
philosopher, "and one which reminds me of a diocesan conference. With
that I have nothing to do. But your Platonic horse pleases me, and on
its account you shall be forgiven. I am willing to exchange my own
animal for yours. But it is getting chilly, and I don't feel inclined
to walk about any more just now. The friend I was waiting for is
indeed foolish enough to come up here even at midnight if he promised
to do so. But I have waited in vain for the signal agreed upon; and I
cannot guess what has delayed him. For as a rule he is punctual, as we
old men are wont, to be, something that you young men nowadays look
upon as old-fashioned. But he has left me in the lurch for once: how
annoying it is! Come away with me! It's time to go!"

At this moment something happened.


[6] It will be apparent from these words that Nietzsche is still under
the influence of Schopenhauer.--TR.

[7] This prophecy has come true.--TR.

[8] _Phaedrus_; Jowett's translation.


(_Delivered on the 23rd of March 1872._)

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,--If you have lent a sympathetic ear to what I
have told you about the heated argument of our philosopher in the
stillness of that memorable night, you must have felt as disappointed
as we did when he announced his peevish intention. You will remember
that he had suddenly told us he wished to go; for, having been left in
the lurch by his friend in the first place, and, in the second, having
been bored rather than animated by the remarks addressed to him by his
companion and ourselves when walking backwards and forwards on the
hillside, he now apparently wanted to put an end to what appeared to
him to be a useless discussion. It must have seemed to him that his
day had been lost, and he would have liked to blot it out of his
memory, together with the recollection of ever having made our
acquaintance. And we were thus rather unwillingly preparing to depart
when something else suddenly brought him to a standstill, and the foot
he had just raised sank hesitatingly to the ground again.

A coloured flame, making a crackling noise for a few seconds,
attracted our attention from the direction of the Rhine; and
immediately following upon this we heard a slow, harmonious call,
quite in tune, although plainly the cry of numerous youthful voices.
"That's his signal," exclaimed the philosopher, "so my friend is
really coming, and I haven't waited for nothing, after all. It will be
a midnight meeting indeed--but how am I to let him know that I am
still here? Come! Your pistols; let us see your talent once again! Did
you hear the severe rhythm of that melody saluting us? Mark it well,
and answer it in the same rhythm by a series of shots."

This was a task well suited to our tastes and abilities; so we loaded
up as quickly as we could and pointed our weapons at the brilliant
stars in the heavens, whilst the echo of that piercing cry died away
in the distance. The reports of the first, second, and third shots
sounded sharply in the stillness; and then the philosopher cried
"False time!" as our rhythm was suddenly interrupted: for, like a
lightning flash, a shooting star tore its way across the clouds after
the third report, and almost involuntarily our fourth and fifth shots
were sent after it in the direction it had taken.

"False time!" said the philosopher again, "who told you to shoot
stars! They can fall well enough without you! People should know what
they want before they begin to handle weapons."

And then we once more heard that loud melody from the waters of the
Rhine, intoned by numerous and strong voices. "They understand us,"
said the philosopher, laughing, "and who indeed could resist when
such a dazzling phantom comes within range?" "Hush!" interrupted his
friend, "what sort of a company can it be that returns the signal to
us in such a way? I should say they were between twenty and forty
strong, manly voices in that crowd--and where would such a number come
from to greet us? They don't appear to have left the opposite bank of
the Rhine yet; but at any rate we must have a look at them from our
own side of the river. Come along, quickly!"

We were then standing near the top of the hill, you may remember, and
our view of the river was interrupted by a dark, thick wood. On the
other hand, as I have told you, from the quiet little spot which we
had left we could have a better view than from the little plateau on
the hillside; and the Rhine, with the island of Nonnenwörth in the
middle, was just visible to the beholder who peered over the
tree-tops. We therefore set off hastily towards this little spot,
taking care, however, not to go too quickly for the philosopher's
comfort. The night was pitch dark, and we seemed to find our way by
instinct rather than by clearly distinguishing the path, as we walked
down with the philosopher in the middle.

We had scarcely reached our side of the river when a broad and fiery,
yet dull and uncertain light shot up, which plainly came from the
opposite side of the Rhine. "Those are torches," I cried, "there is
nothing surer than that my comrades from Bonn are over yonder, and
that your friend must be with them. It is they who sang that peculiar
song, and they have doubtless accompanied your friend here. See!
Listen! They are putting off in little boats. The whole torchlight
procession will have arrived here in less than half an hour."

The philosopher jumped back. "What do you say?" he ejaculated, "your
comrades from Bonn--students--can my friend have come here with

This question, uttered almost wrathfully, provoked us. "What's your
objection to students?" we demanded; but there was no answer. It was
only after a pause that the philosopher slowly began to speak, not
addressing us directly, as it were, but rather some one in the
distance: "So, my friend, even at midnight, even on the top of a
lonely mountain, we shall not be alone; and you yourself are bringing
a pack of mischief-making students along with you, although you well
know that I am only too glad to get out of the way of _hoc genus
omne_. I don't quite understand you, my friend: it must mean something
when we arrange to meet after a long separation at such an
out-of-the-way place and at such an unusual hour. Why should we want a
crowd of witnesses--and such witnesses! What calls us together to-day
is least of all a sentimental, soft-hearted necessity; for both of us
learnt early in life to live alone in dignified isolation. It was not
for our own sakes, not to show our tender feelings towards each other,
or to perform an unrehearsed act of friendship, that we decided to
meet here; but that here, where I once came suddenly upon you as you
sat in majestic solitude, we might earnestly deliberate with each
other like knights of a new order. Let them listen to us who can
understand us; but why should you bring with you a throng of people
who don't understand us! I don't know what you mean by such a thing,
my friend!"

We did not think it proper to interrupt the dissatisfied old grumbler;
and as he came to a melancholy close we did not dare to tell him how
greatly this distrustful repudiation of students vexed us.

At last the philosopher's companion turned to him and said: "I am
reminded of the fact that even you at one time, before I made your
acquaintance, occupied posts in several universities, and that reports
concerning your intercourse with the students and your methods of
instruction at the time are still in circulation. From the tone of
resignation in which you have just referred to students many would be
inclined to think that you had some peculiar experiences which were
not at all to your liking; but personally I rather believe that you
saw and experienced in such places just what every one else saw and
experienced in them, but that you judged what you saw and felt more
justly and severely than any one else. For, during the time I have
known you, I have learnt that the most noteworthy, instructive, and
decisive experiences and events in one's life are those which are of
daily occurrence; that the greatest riddle, displayed in full view of
all, is seen by the fewest to be the greatest riddle, and that these
problems are spread about in every direction, under the very feet of
the passers-by, for the few real philosophers to lift up carefully,
thenceforth to shine as diamonds of wisdom. Perhaps, in the short time
now left us before the arrival of your friend, you will be good enough
to tell us something of your experiences of university life, so as to
close the circle of observations, to which we were involuntarily
urged, respecting our educational institutions. We may also be allowed
to remind you that you, at an earlier stage of your remarks, gave me
the promise that you would do so. Starting with the public school, you
claimed for it an extraordinary importance: all other institutions
must be judged by its standard, according as its aim has been
proposed; and, if its aim happens to be wrong, all the others have to
suffer. Such an importance cannot now be adopted by the universities
as a standard; for, by their present system of grouping, they would be
nothing more than institutions where public school students might go
through finishing courses. You promised me that you would explain this
in greater detail later on: perhaps our student friends can bear
witness to that, if they chanced to overhear that part of our

"We can testify to that," I put in. The philosopher then turned to us
and said: "Well, if you really did listen attentively, perhaps you can
now tell me what you understand by the expression 'the present aim of
our public schools.' Besides, you are still near enough to this sphere
to judge my opinions by the standard of your own impressions and

My friend instantly answered, quickly and smartly, as was his habit,
in the following words: "Until now we had always thought that the sole
object of the public school was to prepare students for the
universities. This preparation, however, should tend to make us
independent enough for the extraordinarily free position of a
university student;[9] for it seems to me that a student, to a greater
extent than any other individual, has more to decide and settle for
himself. He must guide himself on a wide, utterly unknown path for
many years, so the public school must do its best to render him

I continued the argument where my friend left off. "It even seems to
me," I said, "that everything for which you have justly blamed the
public school is only a necessary means employed to imbue the youthful
student with some kind of independence, or at all events with the
belief that there is such a thing. The teaching of German composition
must be at the service of this independence: the individual must enjoy
his opinions and carry out his designs early, so that he may be able
to travel alone and without crutches. In this way he will soon be
encouraged to produce original work, and still sooner to take up
criticism and analysis. If Latin and Greek studies prove insufficient
to make a student an enthusiastic admirer of antiquity, the methods
with which such studies are pursued are at all events sufficient to
awaken the scientific sense, the desire for a more strict causality of
knowledge, the passion for finding out and inventing. Only think how
many young men may be lured away for ever to the attractions of
science by a new reading of some sort which they have snatched up with
youthful hands at the public school! The public school boy must learn
and collect a great deal of varied information: hence an impulse will
gradually be created, accompanied with which he will continue to learn
and collect independently at the university. We believe, in short,
that the aim of the public school is to prepare and accustom the
student always to live and learn independently afterwards, just as
beforehand he must live and learn dependently at the public school."

The philosopher laughed, not altogether good-naturedly, and said: "You
have just given me a fine example of that independence. And it is this
very independence that shocks me so much, and makes any place in the
neighbourhood of present-day students so disagreeable to me. Yes, my
good friends, you are perfect, you are mature; nature has cast you and
broken up the moulds, and your teachers must surely gloat over you.
What liberty, certitude, and independence of judgment; what novelty
and freshness of insight! You sit in judgment--and the cultures of all
ages run away. The scientific sense is kindled, and rises out of you
like a flame--let people be careful, lest you set them alight! If I go
further into the question and look at your professors, I again find
the same independence in a greater and even more charming degree:
never was there a time so full of the most sublime independent folk,
never was slavery more detested, the slavery of education and culture

"Permit me, however, to measure this independence of yours by the
standard of this culture, and to consider your university as an
educational institution and nothing else. If a foreigner desires to
know something of the methods of our universities, he asks first of
all with emphasis: 'How is the student connected with the university?'
We answer: 'By the ear, as a hearer.' The foreigner is astonished.
'Only by the ear?' he repeats. 'Only by the ear,' we again reply. The
student hears. When he speaks, when he sees, when he is in the company
of his companions when he takes up some branch of art: in short, when
he _lives_ he is independent, _i.e._ not dependent upon the
educational institution. The student very often writes down something
while he hears; and it is only at these rare moments that he hangs to
the umbilical cord of his alma mater. He himself may choose what he is
to listen to; he is not bound to believe what is said; he may close
his ears if he does not care to hear. This is the 'acroamatic' method
of teaching.

"The teacher, however, speaks to these listening students. Whatever
else he may think and do is cut off from the student's perception by
an immense gap. The professor often reads when he is speaking. As a
rule he wishes to have as many hearers as possible; he is not content
to have a few, and he is never satisfied with one only. One speaking
mouth, with many ears, and half as many writing hands--there you have
to all appearances, the external academical apparatus; the university
engine of culture set in motion. Moreover, the proprietor of this one
mouth is severed from and independent of the owners of the many ears;
and this double independence is enthusiastically designated as
'academical freedom.' And again, that this freedom may be broadened
still more, the one may speak what he likes and the other may hear
what he likes; except that, behind both of them, at a modest distance,
stands the State, with all the intentness of a supervisor, to remind
the professors and students from time to time that _it_ is the aim,
the goal, the be-all and end-all, of this curious speaking and hearing

"We, who must be permitted to regard this phenomenon merely as an
educational institution, will then inform the inquiring foreigner that
what is called 'culture' in our universities merely proceeds from the
mouth to the ear, and that every kind of training for culture is, as I
said before, merely 'acroamatic.' Since, however, not only the
hearing, but also the choice of what to hear is left to the
independent decision of the liberal-minded and unprejudiced student,
and since, again, he can withhold all belief and authority from what
he hears, all training for culture, in the true sense of the term,
reverts to himself; and the independence it was thought desirable to
aim at in the public school now presents itself with the highest
possible pride as 'academical self-training for culture,' and struts
about in its brilliant plumage.

"Happy times, when youths are clever and cultured enough to teach
themselves how to walk! Unsurpassable public schools, which succeed in
implanting independence in the place of the dependence, discipline,
subordination, and obedience implanted by former generations that
thought it their duty to drive away all the bumptiousness of
independence! Do you clearly see, my good friends, why I, from the
standpoint of culture, regard the present type of university as a mere
appendage to the public school? The culture instilled by the public
school passes through the gates of the university as something ready
and entire, and with its own particular claims: _it_ demands, it gives
laws, it sits in judgment. Do not, then, let yourselves be deceived in
regard to the cultured student; for he, in so far as he thinks he has
absorbed the blessings of education, is merely the public school boy
as moulded by the hands of his teacher: one who, since his academical
isolation, and after he has left the public school, has therefore been
deprived of all further guidance to culture, that from now on he may
begin to live by himself and be free.

"Free! Examine this freedom, ye observers of human nature! Erected
upon the sandy, crumbling foundation of our present public school
culture, its building slants to one side, trembling before the
whirlwind's blast. Look at the free student, the herald of
self-culture: guess what his instincts are; explain him from his
needs! How does his culture appear to you when you measure it by three
graduated scales: first, by his need for philosophy; second, by his
instinct for art; and third, by Greek and Roman antiquity as the
incarnate categorical imperative of all culture?

"Man is so much encompassed about by the most serious and difficult
problems that, when they are brought to his attention in the right
way, he is impelled betimes towards a lasting kind of philosophical
wonder, from which alone, as a fruitful soil, a deep and noble culture
can grow forth. His own experiences lead him most frequently to the
consideration of these problems; and it is especially in the
tempestuous period of youth that every personal event shines with a
double gleam, both as the exemplification of a triviality and, at the
same time, of an eternally surprising problem, deserving of
explanation. At this age, which, as it were, sees his experiences
encircled with metaphysical rainbows, man is, in the highest degree,
in need of a guiding hand, because he has suddenly and almost
instinctively convinced himself of the ambiguity of existence, and has
lost the firm support of the beliefs he has hitherto held.

"This natural state of great need must of course be looked upon as the
worst enemy of that beloved independence for which the cultured youth
of the present day should be trained. All these sons of the present,
who have raised the banner of the 'self-understood,' are therefore
straining every nerve to crush down these feelings of youth, to
cripple them, to mislead them, or to stop their growth altogether;
and the favourite means employed is to paralyse that natural
philosophic impulse by the so-called "historical culture." A still
recent system,[10] which has won for itself a world-wide scandalous
reputation, has discovered the formula for this self-destruction of
philosophy; and now, wherever the historical view of things is found,
we can see such a naive recklessness in bringing the irrational to
'rationality' and 'reason' and making black look like white, that one
is even inclined to parody Hegel's phrase and ask: 'Is all this
irrationality real?' Ah, it is only the irrational that now seems to
be 'real,' _i.e._ really doing something; and to bring this kind of
reality forward for the elucidation of history is reckoned as true
'historical culture.' It is into this that the philosophical impulse
of our time has pupated itself; and the peculiar philosophers of our
universities seem to have conspired to fortify and confirm the young
academicians in it.

"It has thus come to pass that, in place of a profound interpretation
of the eternally recurring problems, a historical--yea, even
philological--balancing and questioning has entered into the
educational arena: what this or that philosopher has or has not
thought; whether this or that essay or dialogue is to be ascribed to
him or not; or even whether this particular reading of a classical
text is to be preferred to that. It is to neutral preoccupations with
philosophy like these that our students in philosophical seminaries
are stimulated; whence I have long accustomed myself to regard such
science as a mere ramification of philology, and to value its
representatives in proportion as they are good or bad philologists. So
it has come about that _philosophy itself_ is banished from the
universities: wherewith our first question as to the value of our
universities from the standpoint of culture is answered.

"In what relationship these universities stand to _art_ cannot be
acknowledged without shame: in none at all. Of artistic thinking,
learning, striving, and comparison, we do not find in them a single
trace; and no one would seriously think that the voice of the
universities would ever be raised to help the advancement of the
higher national schemes of art. Whether an individual teacher feels
himself to be personally qualified for art, or whether a professorial
chair has been established for the training of æstheticising literary
historians, does not enter into the question at all: the fact remains
that the university is not in a position to control the young
academician by severe artistic discipline, and that it must let happen
what happens, willy-nilly--and this is the cutting answer to the
immodest pretensions of the universities to represent themselves as
the highest educational institutions.

"We find our academical 'independents' growing up without philosophy
and without art; and how can they then have any need to 'go in for'
the Greeks and Romans?--for we need now no longer pretend, like our
forefathers, to have any great regard for Greece and Rome, which,
besides, sit enthroned in almost inaccessible loneliness and majestic
alienation. The universities of the present time consequently give no
heed to almost extinct educational predilections like these, and found
their philological chairs for the training of new and exclusive
generations of philologists, who on their part give similar
philological preparation in the public schools--a vicious circle which
is useful neither to philologists nor to public schools, but which
above all accuses the university for the third time of not being what
it so pompously proclaims itself to be--a training ground for culture.
Take away the Greeks, together with philosophy and art, and what
ladder have you still remaining by which to ascend to culture? For, if
you attempt to clamber up the ladder without these helps, you must
permit me to inform you that all your learning will lie like a heavy
burden on your shoulders rather than furnishing you with wings and
bearing you aloft.

"If you honest thinkers have honourably remained in these three stages
of intelligence, and have perceived that, in comparison with the
Greeks, the modern student is unsuited to and unprepared for
philosophy, that he has no truly artistic instincts, and is merely a
barbarian believing himself to be free, you will not on this account
turn away from him in disgust, although you will, of course, avoid
coming into too close proximity with him. For, as he now is, _he is
not to blame_: as you have perceived him he is the dumb but terrible
accuser of those who are to blame.

"You should understand the secret language spoken by this guilty
innocent, and then you, too, would learn to understand the inward
state of that independence which is paraded outwardly with so much
ostentation. Not one of these noble, well-qualified youths has
remained a stranger to that restless, tiring, perplexing, and
debilitating need of culture: during his university term, when he is
apparently the only free man in a crowd of servants and officials, he
atones for this huge illusion of freedom by ever-growing inner doubts
and convictions. He feels that he can neither lead nor help himself;
and then he plunges hopelessly into the workaday world and endeavours
to ward off such feelings by study. The most trivial bustle fastens
itself upon him; he sinks under his heavy burden. Then he suddenly
pulls himself together; he still feels some of that power within him
which would have enabled him to keep his head above water. Pride and
noble resolutions assert themselves and grow in him. He is afraid of
sinking at this early stage into the limits of a narrow profession;
and now he grasps at pillars and railings alongside the stream that he
may not be swept away by the current. In vain! for these supports give
way, and he finds he has clutched at broken reeds. In low and
despondent spirits he sees his plans vanish away in smoke. His
condition is undignified, even dreadful: he keeps between the two
extremes of work at high pressure and a state of melancholy
enervation. Then he becomes tired, lazy, afraid of work, fearful of
everything great; and hating himself. He looks into his own breast,
analyses his faculties, and finds he is only peering into hollow and
chaotic vacuity. And then he once more falls from the heights of his
eagerly-desired self-knowledge into an ironical scepticism. He divests
his struggles of their real importance, and feels himself ready to
undertake any class of useful work, however degrading. He now seeks
consolation in hasty and incessant action so as to hide himself from
himself. And thus his helplessness and the want of a leader towards
culture drive him from one form of life into another: but doubt,
elevation, worry, hope, despair--everything flings him hither and
thither as a proof that all the stars above him by which he could have
guided his ship have set.

"There you have the picture of this glorious independence of yours, of
that academical freedom, reflected in the highest minds--those which
are truly in need of culture, compared with whom that other crowd of
indifferent natures does not count at all, natures that delight in
their freedom in a purely barbaric sense. For these latter show by
their base smugness and their narrow professional limitations that
this is the right element for them: against which there is nothing to
be said. Their comfort, however, does not counter-balance the
suffering of one single young man who has an inclination for culture
and feels the need of a guiding hand, and who at last, in a moment of
discontent, throws down the reins and begins to despise himself. This
is the guiltless innocent; for who has saddled him with the
unbearable burden of standing alone? Who has urged him on to
independence at an age when one of the most natural and peremptory
needs of youth is, so to speak, a self-surrendering to great leaders
and an enthusiastic following in the footsteps of the masters?

"It is repulsive to consider the effects to which the violent
suppression of such noble natures may lead. He who surveys the
greatest supporters and friends of that pseudo-culture of the present
time, which I so greatly detest, will only too frequently find among
them such degenerate and shipwrecked men of culture, driven by inward
despair to violent enmity against culture, when, in a moment of
desperation, there was no one at hand to show them how to attain it.
It is not the worst and most insignificant people whom we afterwards
find acting as journalists and writers for the press in the
metamorphosis of despair: the spirit of some well-known men of letters
might even be described, and justly, as degenerate studentdom. How
else, for example, can we reconcile that once well-known 'young
Germany' with its present degenerate successors? Here we discover a
need of culture which, so to speak, has grown mutinous, and which
finally breaks out into the passionate cry: I am culture! There,
before the gates of the public schools and universities, we can see
the culture which has been driven like a fugitive away from these
institutions. True, this culture is without the erudition of those
establishments, but assumes nevertheless the mien of a sovereign; so
that, for example, Gutzkow the novelist might be pointed to as the
best example of a modern public school boy turned æsthete. Such a
degenerate man of culture is a serious matter, and it is a horrifying
spectacle for us to see that all our scholarly and journalistic
publicity bears the stigma of this degeneracy upon it. How else can we
do justice to our learned men, who pay untiring attention to, and even
co-operate in the journalistic corruption of the people, how else than
by the acknowledgment that their learning must fill a want of their
own similar to that filled by novel-writing in the case of others:
_i.e._ a flight from one's self, an ascetic extirpation of their
cultural impulses, a desperate attempt to annihilate their own
individuality. From our degenerate literary art, as also from that
itch for scribbling of our learned men which has now reached such
alarming proportions, wells forth the same sigh: Oh that we could
forget ourselves! The attempt fails: memory, not yet suffocated by the
mountains of printed paper under which it is buried, keeps on
repeating from time to time: 'A degenerate man of culture! Born for
culture and brought up to non-culture! Helpless barbarian, slave of
the day, chained to the present moment, and thirsting for
something--ever thirsting!'

"Oh, the miserable guilty innocents! For they lack something, a need
that every one of them must have felt: a real educational institution,
which could give them goals, masters, methods, companions; and from
the midst of which the invigorating and uplifting breath of the true
German spirit would inspire them. Thus they perish in the wilderness;
thus they degenerate into enemies of that spirit which is at bottom
closely allied to their own; thus they pile fault upon fault higher
than any former generation ever did, soiling the clean, desecrating
the holy, canonising the false and spurious. It is by them that you
can judge the educational strength of our universities, asking
yourselves, in all seriousness, the question: What cause did you
promote through them? The German power of invention, the noble German
desire for knowledge, the qualifying of the German for diligence and
self-sacrifice--splendid and beautiful things, which other nations
envy you; yea, the finest and most magnificent things in the world, if
only that true German spirit overspread them like a dark thundercloud,
pregnant with the blessing of forthcoming rain. But you are afraid of
this spirit, and it has therefore come to pass that a cloud of another
sort has thrown a heavy and oppressive atmosphere around your
universities, in which your noble-minded scholars breathe wearily and
with difficulty.

"A tragic, earnest, and instructive attempt was made in the present
century to destroy the cloud I have last referred to, and also to turn
the people's looks in the direction of the high welkin of the German
spirit. In all the annals of our universities we cannot find any trace
of a second attempt, and he who would impressively demonstrate what is
now necessary for us will never find a better example. I refer to the
old, primitive _Burschenschaft_.[11]

"When the war of liberation was over, the young student brought back
home the unlooked-for and worthiest trophy of battle--the freedom of
his fatherland. Crowned with this laurel he thought of something still
nobler. On returning to the university, and finding that he was
breathing heavily, he became conscious of that oppressive and
contaminated air which overhung the culture of the university. He
suddenly saw, with horror-struck, wide-open eyes, the non-German
barbarism, hiding itself in the guise of all kinds of scholasticism;
he suddenly discovered that his own leaderless comrades were abandoned
to a repulsive kind of youthful intoxication. And he was exasperated.
He rose with the same aspect of proud indignation as Schiller may have
had when reciting the _Robbers_ to his companions: and if he had
prefaced his drama with the picture of a lion, and the motto, 'in
tyrannos,' his follower himself was that very lion preparing to
spring; and every 'tyrant' began to tremble. Yes, if these indignant
youths were looked at superficially and timorously, they would seem to
be little else than Schiller's robbers: their talk sounded so wild to
the anxious listener that Rome and Sparta seemed mere nunneries
compared with these new spirits. The consternation raised by these
young men was indeed far more general than had ever been caused by
those other 'robbers' in court circles, of which a German prince,
according to Goethe, is said to have expressed the opinion: 'If he had
been God, and had foreseen the appearance of the _Robbers_, he would
not have created the world.'

"Whence came the incomprehensible intensity of this alarm? For those
young men were the bravest, purest, and most talented of the band both
in dress and habits: they were distinguished by a magnanimous
recklessness and a noble simplicity. A divine command bound them
together to seek harder and more pious superiority: what could be
feared from them? To what extent this fear was merely deceptive or
simulated or really true is something that will probably never be
exactly known; but a strong instinct spoke out of this fear and out of
its disgraceful and senseless persecution. This instinct hated the
Burschenschaft with an intense hatred for two reasons: first of all on
account of its organisation, as being the first attempt to construct a
true educational institution, and, secondly, on account of the spirit
of this institution, that earnest, manly, stern, and daring German
spirit; that spirit of the miner's son, Luther, which has come down to
us unbroken from the time of the Reformation.

"Think of the _fate_ of the Burschenschaft when I ask you, Did the
German university then understand that spirit, as even the German
princes in their hatred appear to have understood it? Did the alma
mater boldly and resolutely throw her protecting arms round her noble
sons and say: 'You must kill me first, before you touch my children?'
I hear your answer--by it you may judge whether the German university
is an educational institution or not.

"The student knew at that time at what depth a true educational
institution must take root, namely, in an inward renovation and
inspiration of the purest moral faculties. And this must always be
repeated to the student's credit. He may have learnt on the field of
battle what he could learn least of all in the sphere of 'academical
freedom': that great leaders are necessary, and that all culture begins
with obedience. And in the midst of victory, with his thoughts turned to
his liberated fatherland, he made the vow that he would remain German.
German! Now he learnt to understand his Tacitus; now he grasped the
signification of Kant's categorical imperative; now he was enraptured by
Weber's "Lyre and Sword" songs.[12] The gates of philosophy, of art,
yea, even of antiquity, opened unto him; and in one of the most
memorable of bloody acts, the murder of Kotzebue, he revenged--with
penetrating insight and enthusiastic short-sightedness--his one and only
Schiller, prematurely consumed by the opposition of the stupid world:
Schiller, who could have been his leader, master, and organiser, and
whose loss he now bewailed with such heartfelt resentment.

"For that was the doom of those promising students: they did not find
the leaders they wanted. They gradually became uncertain,
discontented, and at variance among themselves; unlucky indiscretions
showed only too soon that the one indispensability of powerful minds
was lacking in the midst of them: and, while that mysterious murder
gave evidence of astonishing strength, it gave no less evidence of the
grave danger arising from the want of a leader. They were
leaderless--therefore they perished.

"For I repeat it, my friends! All culture begins with the very
opposite of that which is now so highly esteemed as 'academical
freedom': with obedience, with subordination, with discipline, with
subjection. And as leaders must have followers so also must the
followers have a leader--here a certain reciprocal predisposition
prevails in the hierarchy of spirits: yea, a kind of pre-established
harmony. This eternal hierarchy, towards which all things naturally
tend, is always threatened by that pseudo-culture which now sits on
the throne of the present. It endeavours either to bring the leaders
down to the level of its own servitude or else to cast them out
altogether. It seduces the followers when they are seeking their
predestined leader, and overcomes them by the fumes of its narcotics.
When, however, in spite of all this, leader and followers have at last
met, wounded and sore, there is an impassioned feeling of rapture,
like the echo of an ever-sounding lyre, a feeling which I can let you
divine only by means of a simile.

"Have you ever, at a musical rehearsal, looked at the strange,
shrivelled-up, good-natured species of men who usually form the German
orchestra? What changes and fluctuations we see in that capricious
goddess 'form'! What noses and ears, what clumsy, _danse macabre_
movements! Just imagine for a moment that you were deaf, and had never
dreamed of the existence of sound or music, and that you were looking
upon the orchestra as a company of actors, and trying to enjoy their
performance as a drama and nothing more. Undisturbed by the idealising
effect of the sound, you could never see enough of the stern,
medieval, wood-cutting movement of this comical spectacle, this
harmonious parody on the _homo sapiens_.

"Now, on the other hand, assume that your musical sense has returned,
and that your ears are opened. Look at the honest conductor at the
head of the orchestra performing his duties in a dull, spiritless
fashion: you no longer think of the comical aspect of the whole scene,
you listen--but it seems to you that the spirit of tediousness spreads
out from the honest conductor over all his companions. Now you see
only torpidity and flabbiness, you hear only the trivial, the
rhythmically inaccurate, and the melodiously trite. You see the
orchestra only as an indifferent, ill-humoured, and even wearisome
crowd of players.

"But set a genius--a real genius--in the midst of this crowd; and you
instantly perceive something almost incredible. It is as if this
genius, in his lightning transmigration, had entered into these
mechanical, lifeless bodies, and as if only one demoniacal eye gleamed
forth out of them all. Now look and listen--you can never listen
enough! When you again observe the orchestra, now loftily storming,
now fervently wailing, when you notice the quick tightening of every
muscle and the rhythmical necessity of every gesture, then you too
will feel what a pre-established harmony there is between leader and
followers, and how in the hierarchy of spirits everything impels us
towards the establishment of a like organisation. You can divine from
my simile what I would understand by a true educational institution,
and why I am very far from recognising one in the present type of

     [From a few MS. notes written down by Nietzsche in the spring
     and autumn of 1872, and still preserved in the Nietzsche
     Archives at Weimar, it is evident that he at one time
     intended to add a sixth and seventh lecture to the five just
     given. These notes, although included in the latest edition
     of Nietzsche's works, are utterly lacking in interest and
     continuity, being merely headings and sub-headings of
     sections in the proposed lectures. They do not, indeed,
     occupy more than two printed pages, and were deemed too
     fragmentary for translation in this edition.]


[9] The reader may be reminded that a German university student is
subject to very few restrictions, and that much greater liberty is
allowed him than is permitted to English students. Nietzsche did not
approve of this extraordinary freedom, which, in his opinion, led to
intellectual lawlessness.--TR.

[10] Hegel's.--TR.

[11] A German students' association, of liberal principles, founded
for patriotic purposes at Jena in 1813.

[12] Weber set one or two of Körner's "Lyre and Sword" songs to music.
The reader will remember that these lectures were delivered when
Nietzsche was only in his twenty-eighth year. Like Goethe, he
afterwards freed himself from all patriotic trammels and prejudices,
and aimed at a general European culture. Luther, Schiller, Kant,
Körner, and Weber did not continue to be the objects of his veneration
for long, indeed, they were afterwards violently attacked by him, and
the superficial student who speaks of inconsistency may be reminded of
Nietzsche's phrase in stanza 12 of the epilogue to _Beyond Good and
Evil_: "Nur wer sich wandelt, bleibt mit mir verwandt"; _i.e._ only
the changing ones have anything in common with me.--TR.

       *       *       *       *       *


(_Inaugural Address delivered at Bâle University, 28th of May 1869._)

At the present day no clear and consistent opinion seems to be held
regarding Classical Philology. We are conscious of this in the circles
of the learned just as much as among the followers of that science
itself. The cause of this lies in its many-sided character, in the lack
of an abstract unity, and in the inorganic aggregation of heterogeneous
scientific activities which are connected with one another only by the
name "Philology." It must be freely admitted that philology is to some
extent borrowed from several other sciences, and is mixed together like
a magic potion from the most outlandish liquors, ores, and bones. It may
even be added that it likewise conceals within itself an artistic
element, one which, on æsthetic and ethical grounds, may be called
imperatival--an element that acts in opposition to its purely scientific
behaviour. Philology is composed of history just as much as of natural
science or æsthetics: history, in so far as it endeavours to comprehend
the manifestations of the individualities of peoples in ever new
images, and the prevailing law in the disappearance of phenomena;
natural science, in so far as it strives to fathom the deepest instinct
of man, that of speech; æsthetics, finally, because from various
antiquities at our disposal it endeavours to pick out the so-called
"classical" antiquity, with the view and pretension of excavating the
ideal world buried under it, and to hold up to the present the mirror of
the classical and everlasting standards. That these wholly different
scientific and æsthetico-ethical impulses have been associated under a
common name, a kind of sham monarchy, is shown especially by the fact
that philology at every period from its origin onwards was at the same
time pedagogical. From the standpoint of the pedagogue, a choice was
offered of those elements which were of the greatest educational value;
and thus that science, or at least that scientific aim, which we call
philology, gradually developed out of the practical calling originated
by the exigencies of that science itself.

These philological aims were pursued sometimes with greater ardour and
sometimes with less, in accordance with the degree of culture and the
development of the taste of a particular period; but, on the other hand,
the followers of this science are in the habit of regarding the aims
which correspond to their several abilities as _the_ aims of philology;
whence it comes about that the estimation of philology in public opinion
depends upon the weight of the personalities of the philologists!

At the present time--that is to say, in a period which has seen men
distinguished in almost every department of philology--a general
uncertainty of judgment has increased more and more, and likewise a
general relaxation of interest and participation in philological
problems. Such an undecided and imperfect state of public opinion is
damaging to a science in that its hidden and open enemies can work with
much better prospects of success. And philology has a great many such
enemies. Where do we not meet with them, these mockers, always ready to
aim a blow at the philological "moles," the animals that practise
dust-eating _ex professo_, and that grub up and eat for the eleventh
time what they have already eaten ten times before. For opponents of
this sort, however, philology is merely a useless, harmless, and
inoffensive pastime, an object of laughter and not of hate. But, on the
other hand, there is a boundless and infuriated hatred of philology
wherever an ideal, as such, is feared, where the modern man falls down
to worship himself, and where Hellenism is looked upon as a superseded
and hence very insignificant point of view. Against these enemies, we
philologists must always count upon the assistance of artists and men of
artistic minds; for they alone can judge how the sword of barbarism
sweeps over the head of every one who loses sight of the unutterable
simplicity and noble dignity of the Hellene; and how no progress in
commerce or technical industries, however brilliant, no school
regulations, no political education of the masses, however widespread
and complete, can protect us from the curse of ridiculous and barbaric
offences against good taste, or from annihilation by the Gorgon head of
the classicist.

Whilst philology as a whole is looked on with jealous eyes by these two
classes of opponents, there are numerous and varied hostilities in other
directions of philology; philologists themselves are quarrelling with
one another; internal dissensions are caused by useless disputes about
precedence and mutual jealousies, but especially by the
differences--even enmities--comprised in the name of philology, which
are not, however, by any means naturally harmonised instincts.

Science has this in common with art, that the most ordinary, everyday
thing appears to it as something entirely new and attractive, as if
metamorphosed by witchcraft and now seen for the first time. Life is
worth living, says art, the beautiful temptress; life is worth knowing,
says science. With this contrast the so heartrending and dogmatic
tradition follows in a _theory_, and consequently in the practice of
classical philology derived from this theory. We may consider antiquity
from a scientific point of view; we may try to look at what has happened
with the eye of a historian, or to arrange and compare the linguistic
forms of ancient masterpieces, to bring them at all events under a
morphological law; but we always lose the wonderful creative force, the
real fragrance, of the atmosphere of antiquity; we forget that
passionate emotion which instinctively drove our meditation and
enjoyment back to the Greeks. From this point onwards we must take
notice of a clearly determined and very surprising antagonism which
philology has great cause to regret. From the circles upon whose help we
must place the most implicit reliance--the artistic friends of
antiquity, the warm supporters of Hellenic beauty and noble
simplicity--we hear harsh voices crying out that it is precisely the
philologists themselves who are the real opponents and destroyers of the
ideals of antiquity. Schiller upbraided the philologists with having
scattered Homer's laurel crown to the winds. It was none other than
Goethe who, in early life a supporter of Wolf's theories regarding
Homer, recanted in the verses--

     With subtle wit you took away
       Our former adoration:
     The Iliad, you may us say,
       Was mere conglomeration.
     Think it not crime in any way:
       Youth's fervent adoration
     Leads us to know the verity,
       And feel the poet's unity.

The reason of this want of piety and reverence must lie deeper; and many
are in doubt as to whether philologists are lacking in artistic capacity
and impressions, so that they are unable to do justice to the ideal, or
whether the spirit of negation has become a destructive and iconoclastic
principle of theirs. When, however, even the friends of antiquity,
possessed of such doubts and hesitations, point to our present classical
philology as something questionable, what influence may we not ascribe
to the outbursts of the "realists" and the claptrap of the heroes of the
passing hour? To answer the latter on this occasion, especially when we
consider the nature of the present assembly, would be highly
injudicious; at any rate, if I do not wish to meet with the fate of
that sophist who, when in Sparta, publicly undertook to praise and
defend Herakles, when he was interrupted with the query: "But who then
has found fault with him?" I cannot help thinking, however, that some of
these scruples are still sounding in the ears of not a few in this
gathering; for they may still be frequently heard from the lips of noble
and artistically gifted men--as even an upright philologist must feel
them, and feel them most painfully, at moments when his spirits are
downcast. For the single individual there is no deliverance from the
dissensions referred to; but what we contend and inscribe on our banner
is the fact that classical philology, as a whole, has nothing whatsoever
to do with the quarrels and bickerings of its individual disciples. The
entire scientific and artistic movement of this peculiar centaur is
bent, though with cyclopic slowness, upon bridging over the gulf between
the ideal antiquity--which is perhaps only the magnificent blossoming of
the Teutonic longing for the south--and the real antiquity; and thus
classical philology pursues only the final end of its own being, which
is the fusing together of primarily hostile impulses that have only
forcibly been brought together. Let us talk as we will about the
unattainability of this goal, and even designate the goal itself as an
illogical pretension--the aspiration for it is very real; and I should
like to try to make it clear by an example that the most significant
steps of classical philology never lead away from the ideal antiquity,
but to it; and that, just when people are speaking unwarrantably of the
overthrow of sacred shrines, new and more worthy altars are being
erected. Let us then examine the so-called _Homeric question_ from this
standpoint, a question the most important problem of which Schiller
called a scholastic barbarism.

The important problem referred to is _the question of the personality of

We now meet everywhere with the firm opinion that the question of
Homer's personality is no longer timely, and that it is quite a
different thing from the real "Homeric question." It may be added that,
for a given period--such as our present philological period, for
example--the centre of discussion may be removed from the problem of the
poet's personality; for even now a painstaking experiment is being made
to reconstruct the Homeric poems without the aid of personality,
treating them as the work of several different persons. But if the
centre of a scientific question is rightly seen to be where the swelling
tide of new views has risen up, i.e. where individual scientific
investigation comes into contact with the whole life of science and
culture--if any one, in other words, indicates a historico-cultural
valuation as the central point of the question, he must also, in the
province of Homeric criticism, take his stand upon the question of
personality as being the really fruitful oasis in the desert of the
whole argument. For in Homer the modern world, I will not say has
learnt, but has examined, a great historical point of view; and, even
without now putting forward my own opinion as to whether this
examination has been or can be happily carried out, it was at all
events the first example of the application of that productive point of
view. By it scholars learnt to recognise condensed beliefs in the
apparently firm, immobile figures of the life of ancient peoples; by it
they for the first time perceived the wonderful capability of the soul
of a people to represent the conditions of its morals and beliefs in the
form of a personality. When historical criticism has confidently seized
upon this method of evaporating apparently concrete personalities, it is
permissible to point to the first experiment as an important event in
the history of sciences, without considering whether it was successful
in this instance or not.

It is a common occurrence for a series of striking signs and wonderful
emotions to precede an epoch-making discovery. Even the experiment I
have just referred to has its own attractive history; but it goes back
to a surprisingly ancient era. Friedrich August Wolf has exactly
indicated the spot where Greek antiquity dropped the question. The
zenith of the historico-literary studies of the Greeks, and hence also
of their point of greatest importance--the Homeric question--was reached
in the age of the Alexandrian grammarians. Up to this time the Homeric
question had run through the long chain of a uniform process of
development, of which the standpoint of those grammarians seemed to be
the last link, the last, indeed, which was attainable by antiquity. They
conceived the _Iliad_ and the _Odyssey_ as the creations of _one single_
Homer; they declared it to be psychologically possible for two such
different works to have sprung from the brain of _one_ genius, in
contradiction to the Chorizontes, who represented the extreme limit of
the scepticism of a few detached individuals of antiquity rather than
antiquity itself considered as a whole. To explain the different general
impression of the two books on the assumption that _one_ poet composed
them both, scholars sought assistance by referring to the seasons of the
poet's life, and compared the poet of the _Odyssey_ to the setting sun.
The eyes of those critics were tirelessly on the lookout for
discrepancies in the language and thoughts of the two poems; but at this
time also a history of the Homeric poem and its tradition was prepared,
according to which these discrepancies were not due to Homer, but
to those who committed his words to writing and those who sang them. It
was believed that Homer's poem was passed from one generation to another
_viva voce_, and faults were attributed to the improvising and at times
forgetful bards. At a certain given date, about the time of Pisistratus,
the poems which had been repeated orally were said to have been
collected in manuscript form; but the scribes, it is added, allowed
themselves to take some liberties with the text by transposing some
lines and adding extraneous matter here and there. This entire
hypothesis is the most important in the domain of literary studies that
antiquity has exhibited; and the acknowledgment of the dissemination of
the Homeric poems by word of mouth, as opposed to the habits of a
book-learned age, shows in particular a depth of ancient sagacity worthy
of our admiration. From those times until the generation that produced
Friedrich August Wolf we must take a jump over a long historical vacuum;
but in our own age we find the argument left just as it was at the time
when the power of controversy departed from antiquity, and it is a
matter of indifference to us that Wolf accepted as certain tradition
what antiquity itself had set up only as a hypothesis. It may be
remarked as most characteristic of this hypothesis that, in the
strictest sense, the personality of Homer is treated seriously; that a
certain standard of inner harmony is everywhere presupposed in the
manifestations of the personality; and that, with these two excellent
auxiliary hypotheses, whatever is seen to be below this standard and
opposed to this inner harmony is at once swept aside as un-Homeric. But
even this distinguishing characteristic, in place of wishing to
recognise the supernatural existence of a tangible personality, ascends
likewise through all the stages that lead to that zenith, with
ever-increasing energy and clearness. Individuality is ever more
strongly felt and accentuated; the psychological possibility of a
_single_ Homer is ever more forcibly demanded. If we descend backwards
from this zenith, step by step, we find a guide to the understanding of
the Homeric problem in the person of Aristotle. Homer was for him the
flawless and untiring artist who knew his end and the means to attain
it; but there is still a trace of infantile criticism to be found in
Aristotle--i.e., in the naive concession he made to the public opinion
that considered Homer as the author of the original of all comic epics,
the _Margites_. If we go still further backwards from Aristotle, the
inability to create a personality is seen to increase; more and more
poems are attributed to Homer; and every period lets us see its degree
of criticism by how much and what it considers as Homeric. In this
backward examination, we instinctively feel that away beyond Herodotus
there lies a period in which an immense flood of great epics has been
identified with the name of Homer.

Let us imagine ourselves as living in the time of Pisistratus: the word
"Homer" then comprehended an abundance of dissimilarities. What was
meant by "Homer" at that time? It is evident that that generation found
itself unable to grasp a personality and the limits of its
manifestations. Homer had now become of small consequence. And then we
meet with the weighty question: What lies before this period? Has
Homer's personality, because it cannot be grasped, gradually faded away
into an empty name? Or had all the Homeric poems been gathered together
in a body, the nation naively representing itself by the figure of
Homer? _Was the person created out of a conception, or the conception
out of a person?_ This is the real "Homeric question," the central
problem of the personality.

The difficulty of answering this question, however, is increased when we
seek a reply in another direction, from the standpoint of the poems
themselves which have come down to us. As it is difficult for us at the
present day, and necessitates a serious effort on our part, to
understand the law of gravitation clearly--that the earth alters its
form of motion when another heavenly body changes its position in space,
although no material connection unites one to the other--it likewise
costs us some trouble to obtain a clear impression of that wonderful
problem which, like a coin long passed from hand to hand, has lost its
original and highly conspicuous stamp. Poetical works, which cause the
hearts of even the greatest geniuses to fail when they endeavour to vie
with them, and in which unsurpassable images are held up for the
admiration of posterity--and yet the poet who wrote them with only a
hollow, shaky name, whenever we do lay hold on him; nowhere the solid
kernel of a powerful personality. "For who would wage war with the gods:
who, even with the one god?" asks Goethe even, who, though a genius,
strove in vain to solve that mysterious problem of the Homeric

The conception of popular poetry seemed to lead like a bridge over this
problem--a deeper and more original power than that of every single
creative individual was said to have become active; the happiest people,
in the happiest period of its existence, in the highest activity of
fantasy and formative power, was said to have created those immeasurable
poems. In this universality there is something almost intoxicating in
the thought of a popular poem: we feel, with artistic pleasure, the
broad, overpowering liberation of a popular gift, and we delight in this
natural phenomenon as we do in an uncontrollable cataract. But as soon
as we examine this thought at close quarters, we involuntarily put a
poetic _mass of people_ in the place of the poetising _soul of the
people_: a long row of popular poets in whom individuality has no
meaning, and in whom the tumultuous movement of a people's soul, the
intuitive strength of a people's eye, and the unabated profusion of a
people's fantasy, were once powerful: a row of original geniuses,
attached to a time, to a poetic genus, to a subject-matter.

Such a conception justly made people suspicious. Could it be possible
that that same Nature who so sparingly distributed her rarest and most
precious production--genius--should suddenly take the notion of
lavishing her gifts in one sole direction? And here the thorny question
again made its appearance: Could we not get along with one genius only,
and explain the present existence of that unattainable excellence? And
now eyes were keenly on the lookout for whatever that excellence and
singularity might consist of. Impossible for it to be in the
construction of the complete works, said one party, for this is far from
faultless; but doubtless to be found in single songs: in the single
pieces above all; not in the whole. A second party, on the other hand,
sheltered themselves beneath the authority of Aristotle, who especially
admired Homer's "divine" nature in the choice of his entire subject, and
the manner in which he planned and carried it out. If, however, this
construction was not clearly seen, this fault was due to the way the
poems were handed down to posterity and not to the poet himself--it was
the result of retouchings and interpolations, owing to which the
original setting of the work gradually became obscured. The more the
first school looked for inequalities, contradictions, perplexities, the
more energetically did the other school brush aside what in their
opinion obscured the original plan, in order, if possible, that nothing
might be left remaining but the actual words of the original epic
itself. The second school of thought of course held fast by the
conception of an epoch-making genius as the composer of the great works.
The first school, on the other hand, wavered between the supposition of
one genius plus a number of minor poets, and another hypothesis which
assumed only a number of superior and even mediocre individual bards,
but also postulated a mysterious discharging, a deep, national, artistic
impulse, which shows itself in individual minstrels as an almost
indifferent medium. It is to this latter school that we must attribute
the representation of the Homeric poems as the expression of that
mysterious impulse.

All these schools of thought start from the assumption that the problem
of the present form of these epics can be solved from the standpoint of
an æsthetic judgment--but we must await the decision as to the
authorised line of demarcation between the man of genius and the
poetical soul of the people. Are there characteristic differences
between the utterances of the _man of genius_ and the _poetical soul of
the people_?

This whole contrast, however, is unjust and misleading. There is no
more dangerous assumption in modern æsthetics than that of _popular
poetry_ and _individual poetry_, or, as it is usually called, _artistic
poetry_. This is the reaction, or, if you will, the superstition, which
followed upon the most momentous discovery of historico-philological
science, the discovery and appreciation of the _soul of the people_. For
this discovery prepared the way for a coming scientific view of history,
which was until then, and in many respects is even now, a mere
collection of materials, with the prospect that new materials would
continue to be added, and that the huge, overflowing pile would never be
systematically arranged. The people now understood for the first time
that the long-felt power of greater individualities and wills was larger
than the pitifully small will of an individual man;[1] they now saw that
everything truly great in the kingdom of the will could not have its
deepest root in the inefficacious and ephemeral individual will; and,
finally, they now discovered the powerful instincts of the masses, and
diagnosed those unconscious impulses to be the foundations and supports
of the so-called universal history. But the newly-lighted flame also
cast its shadow: and this shadow was none other than that superstition
already referred to, which popular poetry set up in opposition to
individual poetry, and thus enlarged the comprehension of the people's
soul to that of the people's mind. By the misapplication of a tempting
analogical inference, people had reached the point of applying in the
domain of the intellect and artistic ideas that principle of greater
individuality which is truly applicable only in the domain of the will.
The masses have never experienced more flattering treatment than in thus
having the laurel of genius set upon their empty heads. It was imagined
that new shells were forming round a small kernel, so to speak, and that
those pieces of popular poetry originated like avalanches, in the drift
and flow of tradition. They were, however, ready to consider that kernel
as being of the smallest possible dimensions, so that they might
occasionally get rid of it altogether without losing anything of the
mass of the avalanche. According to this view, the text itself and the
stories built round it are one and the same thing.

[1] Of course Nietzsche saw afterwards that this was not so.--TR.

Now, however, such a contrast between popular poetry and individual
poetry does not exist at all; on the contrary, all poetry, and of course
popular poetry also, requires an intermediary individuality. This
much-abused contrast, therefore, is necessary only when the term
_individual poem_ is understood to mean a poem which has not grown out
of the soil of popular feeling, but which has been composed by a
non-popular poet in a non-popular atmosphere--something which has come
to maturity in the study of a learned man, for example.

With the superstition which presupposes poetising masses is connected
another: that popular poetry is limited to one particular period of a
people's history and afterwards dies out--which indeed follows as a
consequence of the first superstition I have mentioned. According to
this school, in the place of the gradually decaying popular poetry we
have artistic poetry, the work of individual minds, not of masses of
people. But the same powers which were once active are still so; and the
form in which they act has remained exactly the same. The great poet of
a literary period is still a popular poet in no narrower sense than the
popular poet of an illiterate age. The difference between them is not in
the way they originate, but it is their diffusion and propagation, in
short, _tradition_. This tradition is exposed to eternal danger without
the help of handwriting, and runs the risk of including in the poems the
remains of those individualities through whose oral tradition they were
handed down.

If we apply all these principles to the Homeric poems, it follows that
we gain nothing with our theory of the poetising soul of the people, and
that we are always referred back to the poetical individual. We are thus
confronted with the task of distinguishing that which can have
originated only in a single poetical mind from that which is, so to
speak, swept up by the tide of oral tradition, and which is a highly
important constituent part of the Homeric poems.

Since literary history first ceased to be a mere collection of names,
people have attempted to grasp and formulate the individualities of the
poets. A certain mechanism forms part of the method: it must be
explained--i.e., it must be deduced from principles--why this or that
individuality appears in this way and not in that. People now study
biographical details, environment, acquaintances, contemporary events,
and believe that by mixing all these ingredients together they will be
able to manufacture the wished-for individuality. But they forget that
the _punctum saliens_, the indefinable individual characteristics, can
never be obtained from a compound of this nature. The less there is
known about the life and times of the poet, the less applicable is this
mechanism. When, however, we have merely the works and the name of the
writer, it is almost impossible to detect the individuality, at all
events, for those who put their faith in the mechanism in question; and
particularly when the works are perfect, when they are pieces of popular
poetry. For the best way for these mechanicians to grasp individual
characteristics is by perceiving deviations from the genius of the
people; the aberrations and hidden allusions: and the fewer
discrepancies to be found in a poem the fainter will be the traces of
the individual poet who composed it.

All those deviations, everything dull and below the ordinary standard
which scholars think they perceive in the Homeric poems, were attributed
to tradition, which thus became the scapegoat. What was left of Homer's
own individual work? Nothing but a series of beautiful and prominent
passages chosen in accordance with subjective taste. The sum total of
æsthetic singularity which every individual scholar perceived with his
own artistic gifts, he now called Homer.

This is the central point of the Homeric errors. The name of Homer, from
the very beginning, has no connection either with the conception of
æsthetic perfection or yet with the _Iliad_ and the _Odyssey_. Homer as
the composer of the _Iliad_ and the _Odyssey_ is not a historical
tradition, but an _æsthetic judgment_.

The only path which leads back beyond the time of Pisistratus and helps
us to elucidate the meaning of the name Homer, takes its way on the one
hand through the reports which have reached us concerning Homer's
birthplace: from which we see that, although his name is always
associated with heroic epic poems, he is on the other hand no more
referred to as the composer of the _Iliad_ and the _Odyssey_ than as the
author of the _Thebais_ or any other cyclical epic. On the other hand,
again, an old tradition tells of the contest between Homer and Hesiod,
which proves that when these two names were mentioned people
instinctively thought of two epic tendencies, the heroic and the
didactic; and that the signification of the name "Homer" was included in
the material category and not in the formal. This imaginary contest with
Hesiod did not even yet show the faintest presentiment of individuality.
From the time of Pisistratus onwards, however, with the surprisingly
rapid development of the Greek feeling for beauty, the differences in
the æsthetic value of those epics continued to be felt more and more:
the _Iliad_ and the _Odyssey_ arose from the depths of the flood and
have remained on the surface ever since. With this process of æsthetic
separation, the conception of Homer gradually became narrower: the old
material meaning of the name "Homer" as the father of the heroic epic
poem, was changed into the æsthetic meaning of Homer, the father of
poetry in general, and likewise its original prototype. This
transformation was contemporary with the rationalistic criticism which
made Homer the magician out to be a possible poet, which vindicated the
material and formal traditions of those numerous epics as against the
unity of the poet, and gradually removed that heavy load of cyclical
epics from Homer's shoulders.

So Homer, the poet of the _Iliad_ and the _Odyssey_, is an æsthetic
judgment. It is, however, by no means affirmed against the poet of these
epics that he was merely the imaginary being of an æsthetic
impossibility, which can be the opinion of only very few philologists
indeed. The majority contend that a single individual was responsible
for the general design of a poem such as the _Iliad_, and further that
this individual was Homer. The first part of this contention may be
admitted; but, in accordance with what I have said, the latter part must
be denied. And I very much doubt whether the majority of those who adopt
the first part of the contention have taken the following considerations
into account.

The design of an epic such as the _Iliad_ is not an entire _whole_, not
an organism; but a number of pieces strung together, a collection of
reflections arranged in accordance with æsthetic rules. It is certainly
the standard of an artist's greatness to note what he can take in with a
single glance and set out in rhythmical form. The infinite profusion of
images and incidents in the Homeric epic must force us to admit that
such a wide range of vision is next to impossible. Where, however, a
poet is unable to observe artistically with a single glance, he usually
piles conception on conception, and endeavours to adjust his characters
according to a comprehensive scheme.

He will succeed in this all the better the more he is familiar with the
fundamental principles of æsthetics: he will even make some believe
that he made himself master of the entire subject by a single powerful

The _Iliad_ is not a garland, but a bunch of flowers. As many pictures
as possible are crowded on one canvas; but the man who placed them there
was indifferent as to whether the grouping of the collected pictures was
invariably suitable and rhythmically beautiful. He well knew that no one
would ever consider the collection as a whole; but would merely look at
the individual parts. But that stringing together of some pieces as the
manifestations of a grasp of art which was not yet highly developed,
still less thoroughly comprehended and generally esteemed, cannot have
been the real Homeric deed, the real Homeric epoch-making event. On the
contrary, this design is a later product, far later than Homer's
celebrity. Those, therefore, who look for the "original and perfect
design" are looking for a mere phantom; for the dangerous path of oral
tradition had reached its end just as the systematic arrangement
appeared on the scene; the disfigurements which were caused on the way
could not have affected the design, for this did not form part of the
material handed down from generation to generation.

The relative imperfection of the design must not, however, prevent us
from seeing in the designer a different personality from the real poet.
It is not only probable that everything which was created in those times
with conscious æsthetic insight, was infinitely inferior to the songs
that sprang up naturally in the poet's mind and were written down with
instinctive power: we can even take a step further. If we include the
so-called cyclic poems in this comparison, there remains for the
designer of the _Iliad_ and the _Odyssey_ the indisputable merit of
having done something relatively great in this conscious technical
composing: a merit which we might have been prepared to recognise from
the beginning, and which is in my opinion of the very first order in the
domain of instinctive creation. We may even be ready to pronounce this
synthetisation of great importance. All those dull passages and
discrepancies--deemed of such importance, but really only subjective,
which we usually look upon as the petrified remains of the period of
tradition--are not these perhaps merely the almost necessary evils which
must fall to the lot of the poet of genius who undertakes a composition
virtually without a parallel, and, further, one which proves to be of
incalculable difficulty?

Let it be noted that the insight into the most diverse operations of the
instinctive and the conscious changes the position of the Homeric
problem; and in my opinion throws light upon it.

We believe in a great poet as the author of the _Iliad_ and the
_Odyssey--but not that Homer was this poet_.

The decision on this point has already been given. The generation that
invented those numerous Homeric fables, that poetised the myth of the
contest between Homer and Hesiod, and looked upon all the poems of the
epic cycle as Homeric, did not feel an æsthetic but a material
singularity when it pronounced the name "Homer." This period regards
Homer as belonging to the ranks of artists like Orpheus, Eumolpus,
Dædalus, and Olympus, the mythical discoverers of a new branch of art,
to whom, therefore, all the later fruits which grew from the new branch
were thankfully dedicated.

And that wonderful genius to whom we owe the _Iliad_ and the _Odyssey_
belongs to this thankful posterity: he, too, sacrificed his name on the
altar of the primeval father of the Homeric epic, Homeros.

Up to this point, gentlemen, I think I have been able to put before you
the fundamental philosophical and æsthetic characteristics of the
problem of the personality of Homer, keeping all minor details
rigorously at a distance, on the supposition that the primary form of
this widespread and honeycombed mountain known as the Homeric question
can be most clearly observed by looking down at it from a far-off
height. But I have also, I imagine, recalled two facts to those friends
of antiquity who take such delight in accusing us philologists of lack
of piety for great conceptions and an unproductive zeal for
destruction. In the first place, those "great" conceptions--such, for
example, as that of the indivisible and inviolable poetic genius,
Homer--were during the pre-Wolfian period only too great, and hence
inwardly altogether empty and elusive when we now try to grasp them. If
classical philology goes back again to the same conceptions, and once
more tries to pour new wine into old bottles, it is only on the surface
that the conceptions are the same: everything has really become new;
bottle and mind, wine and word. We everywhere find traces of the fact
that philology has lived in company with poets, thinkers, and artists
for the last hundred years: whence it has now come about that the heap
of ashes formerly pointed to as classical philology is now turned into
fruitful and even rich soil.[2]

[2] Nietzsche perceived later on that this statement was,
unfortunately, not justified.--TR.

And there is a second fact which I should like to recall to the memory
of those friends of antiquity who turn their dissatisfied backs on
classical philology. You honour the immortal masterpieces of the
Hellenic mind in poetry and sculpture, and think yourselves so much more
fortunate than preceding generations, which had to do without them; but
you must not forget that this whole fairyland once lay buried under
mountains of prejudice, and that the blood and sweat and arduous labour
of innumerable followers of our science were all necessary to lift up
that world from the chasm into which it had sunk. We grant that
philology is not the creator of this world, not the composer of that
immortal music; but is it not a merit, and a great merit, to be a mere
virtuoso, and let the world for the first time hear that music which lay
so long in obscurity, despised and undecipherable? Who was Homer
previously to Wolf's brilliant investigations? A good old man, known at
best as a "natural genius," at all events the child of a barbaric age,
replete with faults against good taste and good morals. Let us hear how
a learned man of the first rank writes about Homer even so late as 1783:
"Where does the good man live? Why did he remain so long incognito?
Apropos, can't you get me a silhouette of him?"

We demand _thanks_--not in our own name, for we are but atoms--but in
the name of philology itself, which is indeed neither a Muse nor a
Grace, but a messenger of the gods: and just as the Muses descended upon
the dull and tormented Boeotian peasants, so Philology comes into a
world full of gloomy colours and pictures, full of the deepest, most
incurable woes; and speaks to men comfortingly of the beautiful and
godlike figure of a distant, rosy, and happy fairyland.

It is time to close; yet before I do so a few words of a personal
character must be added, justified, I hope, by the occasion of this

It is but right that a philologist should describe his end and the means
to it in the short formula of a confession of faith; and let this be
done in the saying of Seneca which I thus reverse--

     "Philosophia facta est quæ philologia fuit."

By this I wish to signify that all philological activities should be
enclosed and surrounded by a philosophical view of things, in which
everything individual and isolated is evaporated as something
detestable, and in which great homogeneous views alone remain. Now,
therefore, that I have enunciated my philological creed, I trust you
will give me cause to hope that I shall no longer be a stranger among
you: give me the assurance that in working with you towards this end I
am worthily fulfilling the confidence with which the highest authorities
of this community have honoured me.

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