Thoughts Out of Season, Part II

By Friedrich Nietzsche

Page 118

be in his place and appear to be
thinking! What then?

"But," one will say, "he is not a thinker but mainly a depository of
thought, a man of great learning in all previous philosophies. Of
these he can always say something that his scholars do not know."
This is actually the third, and the most dangerous, concession made
by philosophy to the state, when it is compelled to appear in the
form of erudition, as the knowledge (more specifically) of the
history of philosophy. The genius looks purely and lovingly on
existence, like a poet, and cannot dive too deep into it;--and
nothing is more abhorrent to him than to burrow among the innumerable
strange and wrong-headed opinions. The learned history of the past
was never a true philosopher's business, in India or Greece; and a
professor of philosophy who busies himself with such matters must be,
at best, content to hear it said of him, "He is an able scholar,
antiquary, philologist, historian,"--but never, "He is a
philosopher." I said, "at best": for a scholar feels that most of the
learned works written by University philosophers are badly done,
without any real scientific power, and generally are dreadfully
tedious. Who will blow aside, for example, the Lethean vapour with
which the history of Greek philosophy has been enveloped by the dull
though not very scientific works of Ritter, Brandis and Zeller? I, at
any rate, would rather read Diogenes Laertius than Zeller, because at
least the spirit of the old philosophers lives in Diogenes, but
neither that nor any other spirit in Zeller. And, after all, what
does the history of philosophy matter to our young men? Are they to
be discouraged by the welter of opinions from having any of their
own; or taught to join the chorus that approves the vastness of our
progress? Are they to learn to hate or perhaps despise philosophy?
One might expect the last, knowing the torture the students endure
for their philosophical examinations, in having to get into their
unfortunate heads the maddest efforts of the human mind as well as
the greatest and profoundest. The only method of criticising a
philosophy that is possible and proves anything at all--namely to see
whether one can live by it--has never been taught at the
universities; only the criticism of words, and again words, is taught
there. Imagine a young head, without much experience of life, being
stuffed with fifty systems (in the form of words) and fifty
criticisms of them, all mixed up together,--what an overgrown
wilderness he will come to be, what contempt he will feel for a
philosophical education!

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Text Comparison with On the Future of our Educational Institutions

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generously made available by The Internet Archive) * * * * * +-----------------------------------------------------------+ | Transcriber's Note: | | | | Inconsistent hyphenation in the original document has | | been preserved.
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One of these I must relate to you, since it forms a sort of prelude to the harmless experience already mentioned.
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and breathless stillness of nature.
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to the lofty trees at our feet, we were unable to catch a glimpse of the valley of the Rhine below.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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"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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Then he becomes tired, lazy, afraid of work, fearful of everything great; and hating himself.
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"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.