Thoughts Out of Season, Part II

By Friedrich Nietzsche

Page 58

but this troublesome
reality of ours is possible. Look through the literature of higher
education in school and college for the last ten years, and you will
be astonished--and pained--to find how much alike all the proposals
of reform have been; in spite of all the hesitations and violent
controversies surrounding them. You will see how blindly they have
all adopted the old idea of the "educated man" (in our sense) being
the necessary and reasonable basis of the system. The monotonous
canon runs thus: the young man must begin with a knowledge of
culture, not even with a knowledge of life, still less with life and
the living of it. This knowledge of culture is forced into the young
mind in the form of historical knowledge; which means that his head
is filled with an enormous mass of ideas, taken second-hand from past
times and peoples, not from immediate contact with life. He desires
to experience something for himself, and feel a close-knit, living
system of experiences growing within himself. But his desire is
drowned and dizzied in the sea of shams, as if it were possible to
sum up in a few years the highest and notablest experiences of
ancient times, and the greatest times too. It is the same mad method
that carries our young artists off to picture-galleries, instead of
the studio of a master, and above all the one studio of the only
master, Nature. As if one could discover by a hasty rush through
history the ideas and technique of past times, and their individual
outlook on life! For life itself is a kind of handicraft that must be
learned thoroughly and industriously, and diligently practised, if we
are not to have mere botchers and babblers as the issue of it all!

Plato thought it necessary for the first generation of his new
society (in the perfect state) to be brought up with the help of a
"mighty lie." The children were to be taught to believe that they had
all lain dreaming for a long time under the earth, where they had
been moulded and formed by the master-hand of Nature. It was
impossible to go against the past, and work against the work of gods!
And so it had to be an unbreakable law of nature, that he who is born
to be a philosopher has gold in his body, the fighter has only
silver, and the workman iron and bronze. As it is not possible to
blend these metals, according to Plato, so there could never be any
confusion between the classes: the belief in the _æterna

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