Johann Gottlieb Fichte.

Addresses to the German nation online

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making philosophy universal.

^144. Education ends with this, civic and religious
instruction, and the pupil is now to be released. Thus
we are clear at any rate in regard to the content of the
proposed education.

145. The pupil's faculty of knowledge must never be

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stimulated without love for the known object being \
stimulated at the same time, for otherwise knowledge
remains dead ; similarly, love must never be stimulated
without becoming clear to knowledge, for otherwise love^'
remains blind. This is one of the chief principles of our
proposed education, with which Pestalozzi also must
agree, since it is in accordance with his whole system of
thought. Now, the stimulation and development of this
love is connected with the systematic course of instruction
by means of sensation and perception, and arises without
our design or assistance. The child has a natural inclina-
tion for clearness and order .'^ , This is continually satisfied
in that course of instruction, and so fills the child with *
joy and pleasure. But, while in this state of satisfaction,
he is stimulated again by the new obscurities .that now \
appear, and so he is satisfied anew. "Thus life is passed
in love of and pleasure in learning, > It is this love by
means of which each individual is connected with the
world of thought ; it is the bond of the sensuous and
spiritual worlds. This love renders possible the easy
development of the faculty of knowledge and the success-
ful cultivation of the fields of science ; a result that is
certain and premeditated in this education, but which
was formerly attained by chance in the case of a few
specially favoured persons.

146. But there is yet another love, that which binds \
man to man and combines all individuals into one rational
community with the same disposition'!^ . The first kind
of love fashions knowledge ; this other kind fashions the
life of action and stimulates people to show forth in them-
selves and in others that which has become part of their
knowledge. Since for our special purpose it would be of
little use simply to improve the scholar's education, and
since the national education intended by us aims first of

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all at training not scholars but simply men, it is clear that,
in addition to that first love, the development of the
second is also an essential duty of this education.

Pestalozzi speaks of this subject with soul-stirring
enthusis^sm. Yet we must confess that his statements
did not seem at all clear to us, and, least of all, so clear
that they could serve as the foundation for an art of
developing that love. It is therefore necessary for us to
state our own thoughts concerning such a foundation.

i47.|The usual assumption, that man is by nature
selfish, that the child also is born with this selfishness, and
that it is education alone which implants in him a moral
motive, is founded on very superficial observation, and
is utterly false./ Nothing can be created from nothing,
and the development of a fundamental instinct, no matter
to what extent, can never make it the opposite of itself.
/ , How then could education ever implant morality in the
child, if morality did not exist in him originally and before
all education ? It does, therefore, actually exist in all
human children that are born into the world; the task
is simply to find out the purest and most primitive form
in which it appears^

148. The results of speculative thought, as well as
common observation, agree that the purest and most
primitive form of morality is the instuicnor respect,
and that from this instinct there arises our knowledge of
what IS moral as the only possible object of respe cts the
right, the good, veracity, anH the power of self-ciRrol.
^In the child this instinct appears first of all as the desire
to be respected by those who inspire in him the highest
respect. This instinct goes to prove with certainty that
love does not arise from selfishness at all, because it is
directed as a rule far more strongly and decisively towards
the sterner parent, the father, who is more often absent.

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and who does not appear directly as a benefactor, than
towards the mother, who with her beneficence is ever
present. The child wants to be noticed by him, wants
to have his approval ; only in so far as the father is satis-
fied with him is he satisfied with himself. This is the
natural love of the child for the father, not as the guardian
of his sensuous well-being, but -as the mirror, from which
his own worth or worthlessness is reflected for hinu
Now, the father himself can easily connect with this love
obedience and every kind of self-denial ; for the reward
of his hearty approval the child obeys with joy. Then
again, this is the love which the child longs for from the
father ; that he shall notice the child's effort to be good,
and acknowledge it ; that he shall show that it gives him
joy when he can approve, and grieves him heartily when
he must disapprove ; that he desires nothing more than
always to be able to be satisfied with him, and all his
demands on the child have simply the intention of making
him ever better and more worthy of respect. Again, the ^ ^

sight of this love continually animates and strengthens the ^

child's love, and gives him new strength for all. his further
efforts. On the other hand, that love is killed by being <;

disregarded, and by continual unjust misunderstanding;
in particular, it produces even hate, if in dealing with the ^

child one allows selfishness to appear, and, e.g.^ treats as
Si capital crime 'some damage caused by his carelessness.
He then sees himself regarded as a mere tool, and this
outrages his feeling that he must himself be of worth,
a feeling that is dim, indeed, but yet not absent* ^

149. To prove this by an example. What is it that
with the child adds shame to the pain of chastisement,
and what is this shame i Obviously it is the feeling of
self-contempt, which is an inevitable accompaniment
when the displeasure of his parents and educators is shown

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to him. Therefore, where punishment is not accompanied
by shame, there is an end of education, and the punishment
appears as an act of violence, which the pupil proudly
disregards^ and ridicules..
^ 150. ^e bond, therefore, which makes men of one
mind, and the development of which is a chief part cf^
education for manhood, is not sensuous love, but the instinct
for mutual respect. That instinct appears in two forms ;
m the child it begins as unconditional respect for adults
and becomes the desire to be respected by them, and to
measure by means of their actual respect how far he also
should respect himself. This confidence, not in one's
own but in an external standard of self-respect, is also the
special characteristic of childhood and youth. On its
existence alone is based the possibility of all instruction
and of all education of grovsdng youths to perfect men.
The adult has in himself his standard of self-esteem, and
wishes to be respected by others only in so far as they have
first of all made themselves worthy of his respect. With
him that instinct assumes the form of demanding that he
shall be able to respect others, and that he shall himself
produce something worthy of respect. If there is no
such fundamental instinct in man, whence then arises the
phenomenon, that even the tolerably good man grieves to
find men worse than he thought they were, and is deeply
hurt at having to despise them ; for selfishness, on the con-
trary, is necessarily pleased at being able to exalt itself
haughtily above others i Now, the educator must
exhibit this latter characteristic of adult manhood, just
as, in the case of the pupil, the former characteristic is
to be relied on with certainty. In this respectf the aim of
education is just to produce adult manhood in the sense
that we have mentioned. Only when that aim is attained
is education really completed and ended. Hitherto many

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men have remained children all their lives, viz., those
who needed for their satisfaction the approval of neigh-
boursy and believed they had done nothing right unless
they pleased the latter. Jn contrast to these, strong robust
characters have been those few who could rise above theV^
judgment of others and satisfy themselves. As a rule,
the latter have been hated, while the former were not^
indeed, respected, but were, nevertheless, considered

|- 151. The foundation of all moral education is this;
that one should know there is such an instinct in the child
and presuppose it iirmly established ; then, that one

^should recognize it when it appears, and gradually develop
it more and more by suitable stimulation, and by pre*
senting to it material for its satisfaction. The very
first principle is to direct it to the only object that it
suitable, viz., to moral matters, but not to put it off with
some material that is foreign to it. (Xeaming, for instance,
contains within itself its charm and its reward.^ Strenuous
diligence could at most deserve approval as an exercise in
self-control ; but this free and supererogatory diligence
will scarcely find a place, at least in the purely universal
national education. That the pupil will learn what he
ought to must, therefore, be regarded as a matter of
course, of which nothing more is to be said. The quicker
and better learning of the more capable mind must be
regarded merely as a natural phenomenon, which entitles
him to no praise or distinction, and above all does not
palliate other defects. "It is in moral matters aloae that

^a sphere of action ought to be allotted to this instinct ;

\ but the root of all morality is self-possession, self-control, ^
the subordination of the selfish instincts to the idea of

, the community. J By this alone, and by absolutely nothing
else, shall it be possible for the pupil to receive the educa-

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/tor's approval, which he is directed by his spiritual

/ nature, and accustomed by education, to need for his own

satisfaction. As we have already mentioned in our second

address, there arc two very different ways of subordinat-

^ing the personal self to the community. First of all,

(that way which absolutely must exist and can in no wise
be omitted by anyone^ s .ubordination to the law nf th e
constitution which is drawn up merely for the regulation
of the community. He who does not transgress this law
is not blamed, and that is all; he does not, however, receive
approbation. Similarly, real displeasure and censure
would fall upon him who transgressed ; this would take
place in public if the wrong were public, and if it remained
ineffective, it could even be intensified by the addition
^f punishment. Secondly,^ there is that subordination
of the individual to the community which cannot be
demanded but can only be given voluntarily, viz., the
raising and advancing of the well-being of the community
by gglf-sacr ifice.^ In order to impress correctly upon the
pupUs from youth upwards the mutual relationship of mere
legality and this higher virtue, it will be appropriate to
allow him only, against whom for a certain period there
has been no complaint in regard to legality, to make these
voluntary sacrifices as the reward, so to speak, of legality,
but to refuse this permission to him who is not yet quite
sure of himself in regard to regularity and order. The
objects of such voluntary acts have already been pointed
out in general, and will be indicated still more clearly
later. Let this kind of sacrifice receive active approbation
and real recognition of its merits, not in public in the form
of praise, which might corrupt the heart, make it vain, and
turn it from its independence, but in secret and with the
pupil alone. This recognition ought to be nothing more
than the outward expression of the pupil's own good



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conscience, the ratification of his satisfaction with him-
self and of his self-respect, and the encouragement to
rely still further on himself. The following arrangement
would promote admirably the advantages hereby intended.
Where there are several male and female teachers, which I
we assume will be the rule, let each child choose freely, j
and as his feelings and confidence move him, one of them |
as a special friend and, as it were, adviser in matters of J
'conscience. Let him seek his advice whenever it is difficult
for him to do right. Let the teacher help him by friendly
exhortation ; let him be the confidant of the voluntary
acts which he undertakes ; and, finally, let him be the
person who crowns excellence with his approvaL Now,
through these advisers in matters of conscience education
would inevitably be of systematic aid to each individual in
his own rise to ever greater power of self-control and self-
possession. In this way steadiness and independence will
gradually arise ; with their production, education comes
to an end and ceases. By our own deeds and actions Is
the sphere of the moral world most clearly opened to us;
when it is thus opened to anyone, it is in truth opened to
him. Such a person himself now knows what is contained
in the moral world, and no longer needs the testimony of
others concerning himself ; he can sit properly in judg-
ment on himself, and is from now onwards an adult.

152. By means of what has just been said we have
closed a gap that remained in our previous lecture and have,
for the first time, made our proposal really practicable.^
Pleasure in the right and good for its own sake ought toj
be set, by means of the new education, in the place of the)
material hope or fear that has been employed hitherto ;|
this pleasure, as the sole existing motive, ought to set all'
future life in motion ; this is the essential feature of our"

proposal. But the first question that arises here is this ;


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\^ how, then, is this pleasure itself to be created i Created,

indeed, in the proper sense of the word, it cannot be,

for men cannot maJce something out of nothing. If our

proposal is to be practicable at all, this pleasure must

* exist originally, and be simply present and innate in all

.men without exception. And in fact it is so. Every child

without exception wishes to be upright and good, and

j does not want merely to be healthy, like a young animal.

^ Love is the essential element in man ; it exists, as man

''^exists, whole and complete, and nothing can be added to it,
for it transcends the growing phenomenon of the sensuous
life, and is independent of it. It is knowledge alone to
which this sensuous life is connected, and which begins
and develops with it. This development is but slow and
gradual with the progress of time ; how, then, is that
innate love to pass through the years of ignorance, and
develop and exercise itself until an ordered system of ideas
of right and wrong is formed^ to which the motive of plea-
sure can be connected ? ^^ise nature has removed the
difficulty without any assistance from us. Consciousness,
starting from within the child, presents itself to him
outwardly, embodied in the judgment of the adult
world. ^ Until a rational judge is developed in him, he
is referred to this world by a natural instinct, and thus
a conscience is given him outside himself, until one is
produced within him^ The new education ought to
recognize this truth, but little known until now, and guide
towards what is right the love that exists independent
of education. Up to now, this simplicity and childlike
faith of the young in the higher perfection of adults has
been used, as a rule, for their corruption. It was pre-
cisely their innocence and their natural faith in us that
made it possible for us, before they could distinguish
good from evil, to implant in them, instead of the good

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that they inwardly wished, our own corruption, which
they would have abhorred if they had been able to
recognize it. J

153. This, I say, is the very greatest transgression of {
which our age is guilty, and this also explains a phenomenon t
of daily occurrence; that, as a rule, man becomes so

much the worse, more selfish, more dead to all good ^

impulses, and more unfit for any good de^, the older

he gets and the farther he has gone from the early days (

of his innocence-— days which even yet echo, though

faintly, in some intimations of the Good. It also proves

that the present generation, if it does not completely

isolate its successors, will inevitably leave behind an even

more corrupt posterity, and this, again, one still more

corrupt. An honoured teacher of the human race says

of them with striking truth, that it were better that a <

millstone were hanged at once about their neck, and thqr

were drowned in the depths of the sea. It is an absurd ^

slander on human nature to say that man is bom a sinner. * ''

If that were true, how, then, could there ever come to him

an idea of sin, which, indeed, is possible only in contrast

with what is not sin ? His life makes him a sinner, and

human life hitherto was usually a progressive development

in sinfulness.

154. What has been said shows in a new light the
necessity of jtuaking preparation without delay for a real
education. If only the youths of the future could grow
up without any contact with adults and entirely without
education, one might always test what the result would beJ
But even if we only leave them in our society, their
education takes place of itself without any wish or will .
of ours. They educate themselves to us ; to be like us,
that forces itself upon thegi as their pattern. Thqr
emulate us, even without our requiring this, and desire

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nothing more than to become just as. we are. 'Now,
usually the great majority of us are thoroughly perverse,
partly without knowing it ; and because we are ourselves
just as simple ^s children, we consider our perversity to
be what is right. Even if we knew that we were perverse,
how could we suddenly lay aside, in the presence of our
children, that which a long life has made second nature
to us, and exchange our whole former disposition and
spirit for a new one i In contact with us they must
become corrupt ; that is unavoidable. If we have a
spark of love for them, we must remove them from our
tainted atmosphere and erect a purer abode for them.
We must bring them into the society of men who,
whatever they may be in other respects, have at least,
by continuous practice, become accustomed, and gained
the ability, to remember that children are watching them,
the power of restraining themselves at least for so long,
and the knowledge of how one must appear before
children. We must not let them out of this society into
ours again, until they have learnt to detest thoroughly
all our corruption, and are thereby completely safe from
all infection.

These are the points that we have considered it neces-
sary to bring forward here concerning moral education
in general.

155. That the children ought to live together in com-
plete isolation from adults, with only their teachers and
masters, has been mentioned several times. It is under-
I stood, without special note from us, that this education
' mustJ>e_given^o both sexes^in the same way. A separa-
tion of the sexes into special institutions for boys and
' girls would not suit our purpose, and would break several
^ important principles of the education for perfect manhood.
The subjects of instruction are the same for both sexes ;

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the difference in the manual tasks can easily be maintained^

even while the rest of the education is common. Like

the larger society which they are to enter some day at

perfect human beings, the smaller society in which th^

are trained for manhood must consist of a combination

of both sexes. Both must first of all recognize and

learn to love in one another their common humanity, and

must have male and female friends, before their attention

is directed to sex distinction and th^ become husbands

and wives. ^Also, the general relationship of the two

sexes to each other, stout-hearted protection on the one . \

side and loving help on the other, must appear in the

educational institution and be fostered in the pupils^

156. If our proposal should come to be realize<^the
first business would be to frame a law for the internal
organization of these educational institutions. If the
fundamental principle we have put forward once becomes
thoroughly established, this is a very easy task, and we do

not intend to lose time over it here. ^ ' ^

157. It is a principal requirement of this new national i
education that in it learning and working shall be com- !
bined, that the institution shall appear, to the pupils at <
least, to be self-supporting, and that everyone shall be

reminded to contribute to this aim with all his strengthJ\ v

This is in any case directly required by the problem of

education as such, quite apart from the purpose of outward

practicability and of economy, which will undoubtedly

be expected of our proposal. One reason is that all who

get through only the universal national education are ^

intended for the working classes, and training them to

b^e good workmen is undoubtedly part of their education.

The special reason, however, is that a man's well-founded

confidence that he will always be able to get on in the world •

by his own strength, and that he requires for maintenance

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no charity from others, is part of man's personal independ-
ence, and conditions moral independence much more
than seems to be believed at present. This training would
supply another part of education, which one might call
education in the proper management of one's resources,
which hitherto has also usually been left to blind chance.
This part of education must be considered, not from
the paltry and narrow point of view of saving for the sake
of saving, which some ridicule with the name of economy,
but from the higher moral standpoint. Our age often
lays down as a principle beyond all contradiction that one
must flatter, cringe, and be everyone's lackey, if one wishes
to live, and that no other way will do. Our age does not
reflect that, even if one should wish to spare it the
counter-proposition (which may sound heroic, but is
absolutely true), namely that, if such is the case, it ought
not to go on living but ought to die, there yet remains the
remark that our age ought to have learnt to live wdth
honour. Let anyone fully inquire who are the persons
conspicuous for dishonourable behaviour ; he will always
find that they have not learnt to work, or that they are
afraid of work, and, moreover, manage things badly.
The pupil of our education ought, therefore, to be made
accustomed to work, in order that he may be raised
above the temptation to dishonesty in his struggle for a
living. It ought to be impressed deeply on his mind as
the very first principle of honour, that it is shameful to
be willing to owe his means of existence to anything but
his own work.

158. Pestalozzi wishes all kinds of manual work to be
carried on together with learning. We do not wish to
deny the possibility of this combination under the con-
dition mentioned by him, that the child is already
thoroughly skilled in manual work ; yet this proposal seems

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to us to arise from the paltriness of the original aim* In

my opinion, instruction must be represented as so sacred s

and honourable that it requires the whole attention and

concentration, and cannot be received along with some- f

thing else. If such manual work as knitting, spinning, t

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Online LibraryJohann Gottlieb FichteAddresses to the German nation → online text (page 15 of 22)