On the Future of our Educational Institutions

By Friedrich Nietzsche

Page 47

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as barren, superseded, out-of-date.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

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