Johann Gottlieb Fichte.

Addresses to the German nation online

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etc., is to be carried on during working hours in seasons

which in any case keep the pupils indoors, it will be very

useful to combine with it collective mental exercbet under

supervision, in order that the mind may remain active.

But in this case the work is the important thing, and these

exercises are to be regarded, not as instruction, but merely

as recreation.

159. In general, all manual work of this inferior kind
must be put forward only as incidental, and not as essen-
tial. The essential manual work is the practice of agri-
culture, gardening, cattle rearing, and those trades which
they need in their little State. Of course, the partici-
pation in these that is expected of anyone b to be pro-
portional to the physical strength of his age ; the rest of
the energy is to be supplied by machines and toob that 1

will be invented. Here the chief consideration b that, !

so far as possible, the pupils must understand the prin- <

ciples of what they do, and that they have already received
the information necessary for their occupations concern- \

ing the growing of plants, the characteristics and needs (

of the animal body, and the laws of mechanics. In thb
way their education becomes a kind of course of instruc-
tion in the occupations which they have to follow, in the
future, and the thoughtful and intelligent farmer is
trained by direct perception. Further, their mechanical
work is even at this stage ennobled and made intellectual ; o

it is just as much a verification from direct perception of
what they have grasped in their minds, as it is work for , * i ;

a living. Even though associated with the animal and I

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with the clod, they do not sink to the level of these, but

remain within the sphere of the spiritual'world.

^ 1 60. J^et it be the fundamental law of this little economic

I State that no article of food, clothing, etc., and, so far

^s this is possible, no tpol is to be used, which is not

produced and made there.^ If this housekeeping requires

support from outside, natural objects should be supplied,

but none of any other kind than those it possesses. This

must be done without the pupils learning that their own

products have been increased; or, if it is appropriate

that they should be told, they should receive the supply

simply as a loan and return it at a fixed time. Now, for

this independence and self-sufficiency of the community

every individual should work with all his might, wdthout

making a statement of account with it or claiming anything

Jot his own property. ^Everyone should know that he is

indebted absolutely to the community, and should eat or

starve along with the community^^ Thereby the hon-

^ourable independence of the State and of the family,

which he is to enter some day, and the relationship of

their individual members to them, is disclosed to his

vivid observation and rooted ineradicably in his heart.

161. This training to mechanical work is the point
at which the education of the scholar, which is a part of,
and rests upon, the universal national education, diverges
I from the latter. NjTie scholar's education, which is now
to be discussed, is, I said, part of the universal national
^education. I offer no opinion as to whether in the future
everyone who believes he has sufficient ability to study
or ranks himself for any reason with the higher classes of
former days will not still be free to take the old path of
scholarly education. If we should once get our national
education, experience will show how the majority of
those scholars will fare, with their purchased learning.

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against, I will not say the scholar trained in the new
school, but even against the ordinary man produced by it.
However, I want to speak now, not of that, but of the
scholar's education according to the new method.

According to its principles, the future scholar, too, must
have gone through the universal national education and
have received completely and clearly its first part, the
development of knowledge by sensation, perception, and
whatever is connected with the latter. Permission to
take up this profession can be granted by the new national
education only to the boy who shows an excellent gift
for learning and a conspicuous inclination for the world
of ideas, ^^t must, however, grant this permission to
every boy who shows these qualities, without exception '
and without regard to so-called difference of birt^^
For a man is not a scholar for his own convenience ;
every talent of that kind is a precious possession of the
nation, arjd may not be taken from it. v

162. llie person who is not a scholar is destined to
maintain the human race at the stage of culture it has ^

reached, the scholar to advance it further according to '

a clear conception and with deliberate art>x The scholar ^.

with his conception must always be in advance of the
present age, must understand the future, and be able to • '^

implant it in the present for its future development. For . *

this purpose he needs a clear survey of the previous
condition of the world, unlimited skill in pure thought
independent of phenomena, and, in order that he may be
able to communicate his thoughts, control of language ^

down to its living and creative root. All this necessitates
mental self-activity, without guidance from others, and • ^

solitary reflection, in which, therefore, the future scholar > .

must be exercised from the moment his profession is
decided ; it does not mean, as in the case of the person

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who is not a scholar, merely thinking under the eye of an
ever-present teacher ; it necessitates a great amount of
subsidiary knowledge, which is quite useless in his voca-
tion to the person who is not a scholar. This solitary
reflection will be the scholar's work, the daily occupation
of his life, ^e is to be trained at once for this work,
but in return he is to be exempted from the other mechani-
cal toil. The education of the future scholar for manhood
will, therefore, as formerly, proceed in general simultan-
eously with the universal national education, and along
with all the others he will attend the instruction it supplies-
Only those hours which the others spend in manual work
will be devoted to the study of whatever his future
profession specifically demands ; this will be the only
difference. The general knowledge of agriculture, of
other mechanical arts, and of their particular methods,
which is to be expected of every man, the scholar will
undoubtedly have learnt already while passing through
the first class ; if he h^is not, he will have to acquire that
knowledge afterwards.. It is obvious that he is the last
pupil of all to be exempted from the physical exercises
that are prescribed. To give an account of the particular
subjects which a scholar's education would include, or
the course to be followed in them, is, however, beyond
the scope of these addresses.


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163. The scheme for the new German national education
has been stated sufficiently for our purpose. The next
question, which is now urgent, is this : who ought to
place himself at the head to carry out this scheme, who is
to be relied on, and on whom have we relied i

We have represented this education as the highest and,
at present, the only urgent concern of German love of
fatherland, and wish to make it first and foremost the
means of bringing into the world the improvement and
regeneration of the whole human race. But that love
of fatherland ought above all to inspire the German
State, wherever Germans are governed, and take the lead,
and be the motive power in all its decisions. It is thc*^
State, therefore, to which we shall first of all have to

l^tum our expectant gaze.

Will it realize our hopes ? After what has already

been said, what can we expect of it, looking, as is always

understood, at no particular State, but at Germany at

a whole i

^ 164. In modern Europe education actually originated,

( not with the State, but with that power from which
States, too, for the most part obtained their power — ,

\ from the heavenly spiritual kingdom of the ChurchX


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The Church considered itself not so much a part of the
earthly community as a colony from heaven quite foreign
to the earthly community and sent out to enrol citizens
for that foreign State, wherever it could take root. Its
education aimed at nothing else but that men should not
be damned in the other world but saved... .^The Refor-
mation merely united this ecclesiastical power, which
otherwise continued to regard itself as before, to the
temporal power, with which formerly it had very often
been actually in conflict .> In that connection, this was
the only difference that resulted from that event ; there
also remained, therefore, the old view of educational
matters. Even in recent times, and until the present
day, the education of the richer classes has been looked
upon as the private concern of the parents, who might
arrange it to their own satisfaction ; alid their children
were usually put to school simply because some day it
would be useful to them. The sole public education,^
that of the people, however, was simply education for
salvation in heaven ; the essential feature was a little
Christianity and reading, with writing if, it could be"
managed — ^all for the sake of Christianity^ , All other
development of man was left to the blind and casual
influence of the society in which they grew up, and to
actual life. Even the institutions for scholarly education
were intended mainly for the training of ecclesiastics.
Theology was the important faculty ; the others were
merely supplementary to it, and usually received only
its leavings.

165. So long as those who stood at the head of the
Government remained in the dark concerning its true
aim and were filled with that anxiety of conscience about
the salvation of themselves and others, one could rely
with certainty on their zeal for this kind of public educa-

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tion and on their earnest efforts in its behalf. But, as
soon as they were clear about the true aim of government
and understood that the sphere of the State's action lies
within the visible world, it must have been evident to
them that anxiety about the eternal salvation of their
subjects could be no concern of theirs, and that anyone
who wanted to be saved there should see to it himself.
From that time onwards they considered they were doing
enough, if for the future they left to their original
destiny the foundations and institutions that had origi-
nated in more pious ages. However unsuitable and
insufficient they might be for totally changed times,
they considered they were neither obliged to contribute
to them by saving on their other aims, nor justified
in interfering actively and setting useful innovations in
the place of antiquated and useless things. To all pro-
posals of this kind the ever-ready answer wasT the State
has no money for that. If an exception were ever made,
it was to the advantage of the institutions for higher
education, which shed splendour far and wide, and pro- ^

cured fame for their patrons. But the education of ^

that class which is the real foundation of the human race, ^.

by which the higher culture is ever restored, and on which
that culture must continually react — ^the education o^, '^

the people remained neglected and, from the Reforma-
tion down to the present day, has been in a state of
increasing decay.

166. Now, if for the future, and from this very hour,
we are to be able to hope better things in this matter
from the State, it will have to exchange what seems to
have been up to the present its fundamental conception
of the aim of education for an entirely different one.
It must see that it was quite right before to refuse to be
anxious about the eternal salvation of its citizens, because

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no special training is required for such salvation, and
that a nursery for heaven, like the Church, whose power
has at last been handed over to the State, should not be
permitted, for it only obstructs all good education, and
must be dispensed with. On the other hand, the State
must see that education for life on earth is very greatly
needed ; from such a thorough education, training for
heaven follows as an easy supplement. The more
enlightened the State thought it was before, the more
firmly it seems to have believed that it could attain its
true aim merely by means of coercive institutions, and
without any religion and morality in its citizens, who
might do as they liked in regard to such matters. May
it have learnt this at least from recent experiences — ^that
it cannot do so, and that it has got into its present con-
dition just because of the want of religion and morality !
167. As for the State's doubt whether it can meet the
cost of a national education, would that one could con-
vince it that by this one expenditure it will provide for
most of the others in the most economical way, and that,
if only it undertakes this, it will soon have no other big
expenditure to make ! Up to the present, by far the
llargest part of "the State's income has been spent on the
maintenance of standing armies. We have seen the
result of that expenditure ; that is sufficient ; it is
t>eyond our plan to go more deeply into the special
reasons for that result, which lie in the organization of
those armies. On the other hand, the State which
introduced universally the national education proposed
by us, from the moment that a new generation of youths
.^had passed through it, would need no special army at/
all, but would have in them an army such as no age has
yet seen. Each individual is exercised thoroughly in-
eveiy possible use of his physical powers, and under-

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stands them at once, being accustomed to bear every effort
and hardship ; his mind, developed in direct perception,
is ever alert and self-possessed ; in his heart there lives
love of the community of which he is a member, of the
State, and of his country, and this love destroys every
other selfish impulse. The State can summon them and
put them under arms when it will, and can be sure that
no enemy will defeat them. Formerly, another source
of concern and expenditure in wisely governed States
was improvement in the management of the State's
resources in its widest sense and in all its branches. In
this, owing to the ignorance and helplessness of the lower
classes, much care and money were spent in vain, and the
matter has everywhere made but little progress. By
means of our education the State will get workings
classes accustomed from their youth up to thinking about\
their business, and already able and inclined to help them-j
selves. Now if, in addition, the State can help them in/
a suitable way, they will understand in a moment, and
accept its instruction very gratefully. All branches
of the State's economy will in a short time attain, without
much difficulty, a prosperity which no age has yet seen ;
and the State's original expenditure will be repaid a
thousandfold, if it cares to reckon up and if by that time
it has learnt the true fundamental value of things.
Hitherto the State has had to do a great deal, and yet has
never been able to do enough, for law and police institu-\
tions. Convict prisons and reformatories have caused \
it expense. Finally, the more that was spent on poor- |
houses, the more they required ; indeed, under the /
prevailing circumstances, they seemed to be institutions/
for making people poor. In a State which makes the
new education universal, the former will be greatly
reduced, the latter will vanish entirely. Early discipline .

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is a guarantee against the need in later years of reforma-
>tion and penal discipline, which are very doubtful
measures, while in a nation so trained there are no poor
at all.

168. May the State and all its advisers dare to look its
true present position in the face and acknowledge it !
May it realize vividly that, apart from the education of
the succeeding generations, there remains absolutely no
sphere, in which it can act originally and independently
like a real State, and make decisions ! May it see that,
if it does not want to do nothing at all, there is but this
that it can still do, and may it realize, too, that no one
will envy or detract from the merit of this service ! The
lact that we can no longer make active resistance has
already been postulated by us as obvious, and is admitted
by everyone. Now, how can we justify the continuance
of our forfeited existence against the reproach of cow-
ardice and of an unworthy love of life ? In no other way
than by deciding not to live for ourselves, and by proving
this in action ; by oeing willing to make ourselves the
^eed of a more worthy posterity and, for its sake alone,
to maintain ourselves until we have set it up. Deprived
of that chief aim in life, what can we do ? Our constitu-
tions vnU be made for us ; our alliances and the employ-
ment of our fighting forces will be prescribed to us ;
a code of law will be given to us ; even justice and judg-
ment and their administration will sometimes be taken
from us. For the immediate future we shall be spared
the trouble of these matters. It is only of education
that no one has thought ; if we are looking for an occu-
pation, let us seize this ! We may expect to be left in it
undisturbed. I hope — ^perhaps I deceive myself in
this, but as I care to live only for that hope, I cannot
give up hoping — I hope that I shall convince some

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Germans, and get them to see that it is education alone

that can save us from all the ills that oppress us* I

rely especially on necessity having made us more inclined

to attention and to serious reflection. Other^ countries r

have other consolations and other resources ; it is not ^

to be expected that they will give any attention to the . .• '

thought of education, or have any faith in it, should it <

ever occur to them. I hope rather that it will be a rich

source of amusement to the readers of their papers, when

they learn that anyone expects such great things from


169. May the State and its advisers not let themselves
become more loath to take up this task by the considera-
tion that the result hoped for is remote ! If among the
numerous and highly complicated reasons for our present
fate one wanted to single out that for which our govern-
ments alone are peculiarly to blame, it would be found
that, although they above all others are bound to look
the future in the face and master it, they have never
tried, in spite of the urgency of the great events of their\
time, to do more than get out of the difficulty of theL^
immediate moment as well as they could. In regard to
the future, however, they have reckoned, not on their
present age, but on some piece of good luck which should
sever the fixed chain of cause and effect. But such hopes
are deceptive. A motive power which is once allowed
to enter the flow of time continues and completes its
course ; once the first careless act has been committed,
belated reflection cannot arrest it. Our fate has for the
moment removed from us the possibility of making the
first mistake, that of providing merely for the present ;
the present is no longer ours. Let us not repeat the
second, that of hoping for a better future from anything
but ourselves. Indeed, the present can afford no con-


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solation for the duty to live to any one of us who requires
for life something more than food ; the "hope of a better
future is the only atmosphere in which we can still
breathe. But only the dreamer can base this hope on
anything but what he himself can plant in the present
for the development of a future. Let those who rule
over us permit us to think as well of them as we do of
each other, and as the better man feels ! Let them put
themselves at the head of the business that is to us, too,
quite clear, so that we may yet see arising before our
eyes that which will some day wipe from our memory
' the shame that has been done to the German name before
our eyes !
/ 170. If the State undertakes the proposed task, it will
/ make this education universal throughout the length and
( breadth of its domain for every one of its future citizens
Vwithout exception. Indeed, it is for that universality
alone that we need the State, since for individual begin-
nings and isolated attempts the resources of well-disposed
private persons would suffice. Of course, it is not to be
expected that all parents will be willing to be separated
from their children, and to hand them over to this new
education, a notion of which it will be difficult to convey
to them. From past experience we must reckon that
everyone who still believes he is able to support his
children at home will set himself against public education,
and especiaUy against a public education that separates
so strictly and lasts so long. Now, in these cases of ex-
pected resistance it has been customary in the past for
statesmen to reject the proposal with the reply: The
State has no right to use compulsion for that purpose. |
] If they want to wait until all men have the good will, 1
' since universal goodwill will never be produced without
education, they are thereby secured against all improve-

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ment, and may expect that there will be no change \y^-

until the end of time. In so far as these statesmen are

among those who either consider any education an un*

necessary luxury, with which people should be supplied \

as scantily as possible, or see in our proposals only a ^

daring new experiment with humanity, which may or : • '

may not succeed, they are to be praised for their con- r

scientiousness. Those who are filled with admiration

for the existing state of public education and with de- i

light at the perfection which it has reached under thdr : ,

direction cannot really be expected now to agree with

so^nicthing which they do not already know. Not one

of them is of any use for our purpose, and it would be

deplorable if the decision in this matter were to rest

with them. But statesmen might be found and consulted ^

on this matter who, above all things, have educated them- ,i

selves by a deep and thorough study of philosophy and

science, who are in real earnest about their business, have

a definite idea of man and of his vocation, and are capable . '

of understanding the present and of judging what it . : "^

absolutely necessary for mankind at this time* If such '

men perceived from those preliminary conceptions that ^

education alone can save us from the barbarism and

relapse into savagery that is otherwise bound to over- ^

whelm us, if they had a vision of the new human race

which would arise through this education, if they were'

themselves inwardly convinced of the. infallibility and

certainty of the proposed remedy, they might be expected

to have realized at the same time that the State, as the y

supreme administrator of human affairs and the guardian

of those who arc its wards, responsible only to God and ^

to its own conscience, has a perfect right even to compel i •

the latter for their welfare. For where is there a State 1 ' 1 •

to-day which doubts whether it has the right to compel \

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its subjects to military service, and for that purpose to
take away children from parents, whether one parent or

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Online LibraryJohann Gottlieb FichteAddresses to the German nation → online text (page 16 of 22)