We Philologists Complete Works of Friedrich Nietzsche, Volume 8

By Friedrich Nietzsche

Page 11

as to whether higher education ought to be historical
or not; but we may examine the second and ask: in how far is it classic?

On this point there are many widespread prejudices. In the first place
there is the prejudice expressed in the synonymous concept, "The study
of the humanities": antiquity is classic because it is the school of the

Secondly: "Antiquity is classic because it is enlightened----"


It is the task of all education to change certain conscious actions and
habits into more or less unconscious ones; and the history of mankind is
in this sense its education. The philologist now practises unconsciously
a number of such occupations and habits. It is my object to ascertain
how his power, that is, his instinctive methods of work, is the result
of activities which were formerly conscious, but which he has gradually
come to feel as such no longer: _but that consciousness consisted of
prejudices_. The present power of philologists is based upon these
prejudices, for example the value attached to the _ratio_ as in the
cases of Bentley and Hermann. Prejudices are, as Lichtenberg says, the
art impulses of men.


It is difficult to justify the preference for antiquity since it has
arisen from prejudices:

1. From ignorance of all non-classical antiquity.

2. From a false idealisation of humanitarianism, whilst Hindoos and
Chinese are at all events more humane.

3. From the pretensions of school-teachers.

4. From the traditional admiration which emanated from antiquity itself.

5. From opposition to the Christian church; or as a support for this

6. From the impression created by the century-long work of the
philologists, and the nature of this work. It must be a gold mine,
thinks the spectator.

7. The acquirement of knowledge attained as the result of the study. The
preparatory school of science.

In short, partly from ignorance, wrong impressions, and misleading
conclusions; and also from the interest which philologists have in
raising their science to a high level in the estimation of laymen.

Also the preference for antiquity on the part of the artists, who
involuntarily assume proportion and moderation to be the property of all
antiquity. Purity of form. Authors likewise.

The preference for antiquity as an abbreviation of the history of the
human race, as if there were an autochthonous creation here by which all
becoming might be studied.

The fact actually is that the foundations of this preference are being
removed one by one, and if this is not remarked by philologists
themselves, it is certainly being remarked as much as it can possibly be
by people outside their circle. First of all history had its effect, and

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