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Complete Works of Friedrich Nietzsche

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The German philosopher
Friedrich Nietzsche became one of the most influential thinkers of the
nineteenth century, whose attempts to unmask the motives that underlie
traditional Western religion, morality and philosophy would deeply
affect generations of philosophers, psychologists and authors. This
comprehensive eBook presents Nietzsche’s complete works, with numerous
illustrations, rare texts appearing in digital print for the first time,
informative introductions and the usual Delphi bonus material. (Version

* Beautifully illustrated with images relating to Nietzsche’s life and works
* Concise introductions to the novels and other texts
* ALL the published books, with individual contents tables
* Images of how the books were first published, giving your eReader a taste of the original German texts
* Excellent formatting of the texts
* Includes rare translations of Nietzsche’s poetry
* Easily locate the poems you want to read
* Includes Nietzsche’s rare autobiography ‘Ecce Homo’
* Special criticism section, with essays evaluating Nietzsche’s contribution to modern thought
* Scholarly ordering of texts into chronological order and literary genres

note: there are no known translations in the public domain of a few
early essays. When more translations become available, they will be
added to the collection as a free update.

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The Philosophical Writings

The Poetry

The Autobiography

The Criticism
NIETZSCHE by John Cowper Powys
NIETZSCHE AND WAGNER by Arthur Johnstone
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The Complete Works of

The Philosophical Writings
The Poetry
The Autobiography
The Criticism
NIETZSCHE by John Cowper Powys
NIETZSCHE AND WAGNER by Arthur Johnstone

The Delphi Classics Catalogue

© Delphi Classics 2015
Version 1

The Complete Works of

By Delphi Classics, 2015
Complete Works of Friedrich Nietzsche
First published in the United Kingdom in 2015 by Delphi Classics.
© Delphi Classics, 2015.
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Delphi Classics is proud to present the most comprehensive collections of these important writers,
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The Philosophical Writings

Nietzsche’s birthplace — born on 1; 5 October 1844, he grew up in the small town of Röcken, near
Leipzig, in the Prussian Province of Saxony.

Nietzsche in 1861, aged 17
Translated by J. M. Kennedy
(Inaugural Address delivered at Bâle University, 28th of May 1869.)
At the present day no clear and consistent opinion seems to be held regarding Classical Philology.
We are conscious of this in the circles of the learned just as much as among the followers of that science
itself. The cause of this lies in its many-sided character, in the lack of an abstract unity, and in the
inorganic aggregation of heterogeneous scientific activities which are connected with one another only by
the name “Philology.” It must be freely admitted that philology is to some extent borrowed from several
other sciences, and is mixed together like a magic potion from the most outlandish liquors, ores, and
bones. It may even be added that it likewise conceals within itself an artistic element, one which, on
æsthetic and ethical grounds, may be called imperatival — an element that acts in opposition to its purely
scientific behaviour. Philology is composed of history just as much as of natural science or æsthetics:
history, in so far as it endeavours to comprehend the manifestations of the individualities of peoples in
ever new images, and the prevailing law in the disappearance of phenomena; natural science, in so far as
it strives to fathom the deepest instinct of man, that of speech; æsthetics, finally, because from various
antiquities at our disposal it endeavours to pick out the so-called “classical” antiquity, with the view and
pretension of excavating the ideal world buried under it, and to hold up to the present the mirror of the
classical and everlasting standards. That these wholly different scientific and æsthetico-ethical impulses
have been associated under a common name, a kind of sham monarchy, is shown especially by the fact that
philology at every period from its origin onwards was at the same time pedagogical. From the standpoint
of the pedagogue, a choice was offered of those elements which were of the greatest educational value;
and thus that science, or at least that scientific aim, which we call philology, gradually developed out of
the practical calling originated by the exigencies of that science itself.
These philological aims were pursued sometimes with greater ardour and sometimes with less, in
accordance with the degree of culture and the development of the taste of a particular period; but, on the
other hand, the followers of this science are in the habit of regarding the aims which correspond to their
several abilities as the aims of philology; whence it comes about that the estimation of philology in public
opinion depends upon the weight of the personalities of the philologists!
At the present time — that is to say, in a period which has seen men distinguished in almost every
department of philology — a general uncertainty of judgment has increased more and more, and likewise
a general relaxation of interest and participation in philological problems. Such an undecided and
imperfect state of public opinion is damaging to a science in that its hidden and open enemies can work
with much better prospects of success. And philology has a great many such enemies. Where do we not
meet with them, these mockers, always ready to aim a blow at the philological “moles,” the animals that
practise dust-eating ex professo, and that grub up and eat for the eleventh time what they have already
eaten ten times before. For opponents of this sort, however, philology is merely a useless, harmless, and
inoffensive pastime, an object of laughter and not of hate. But, on the other hand, there is a boundless and
infuriated hatred of philology wherever an ideal, as such, is feared, where the modern man falls down to
worship himself, and where Hellenism is looked upon as a superseded and hence very insignificant point
of view. Against these enemies, we philologists must always count upon the assistance of artists and men
of artistic minds; for they alone can judge how the sword of barbarism sweeps over the head of every one
who loses sight of the unutterable simplicity and noble dignity of the Hellene; and how no progress in
commerce or technical industries, however brilliant, no school regulations, no political education of the
masses, however widespread and complete, can protect us from the curse of ridiculous and barbaric

offences against good taste, or from annihilation by the Gorgon head of the classicist.
Whilst philology as a whole is looked on with jealous eyes by these two classes of opponents, there
are numerous and varied hostilities in other directions of philology; philologists themselves are
quarrelling with one another; internal dissensions are caused by useless disputes about precedence and
mutual jealousies, but especially by the differences — even enmities — comprised in the name of
philology, which are not, however, by any means naturally harmonised instincts.
Science has this in common with art, that the most ordinary, everyday thing appears to it as something
entirely new and attractive, as if metamorphosed by witchcraft and now seen for the first time. Life is
worth living, says art, the beautiful temptress; life is worth knowing, says science. With this contrast the
so heartrending and dogmatic tradition follows in a theory, and consequently in the practice of classical
philology derived from this theory. We may consider antiquity from a scientific point of view; we may try
to look at what has happened with the eye of a historian, or to arrange and compare the linguistic forms of
ancient masterpieces, to bring them at all events under a morphological law; but we always lose the
wonderful creative force, the real fragrance, of the atmosphere of antiquity; we forget that passionate
emotion which instinctively drove our meditation and enjoyment back to the Greeks. From this point
onwards we must take notice of a clearly determined and very surprising antagonism which philology has
great cause to regret. From the circles upon whose help we must place the most implicit reliance — the
artistic friends of antiquity, the warm supporters of Hellenic beauty and noble simplicity — we hear harsh
voices crying out that it is precisely the philologists themselves who are the real opponents and
destroyers of the ideals of antiquity. Schiller upbraided the philologists with having scattered Homer’s
laurel crown to the winds. It was none other than Goethe who, in early life a supporter of Wolf’s theories
regarding Homer, recanted in the verses —
With subtle wit you took away
Our former adoration:
The Iliad, you may us say,
Was mere conglomeration.
Think it not crime in any way:
Youth’s fervent adoration
Leads us to know the verity,
And feel the poet’s unity.
The reason of this want of piety and reverence must lie deeper; and many are in doubt as to whether
philologists are lacking in artistic capacity and impressions, so that they are unable to do justice to the
ideal, or whether the spirit of negation has become a destructive and iconoclastic principle of theirs.
When, however, even the friends of antiquity, possessed of such doubts and hesitations, point to our
present classical philology as something questionable, what influence may we not ascribe to the outbursts
of the “realists” and the claptrap of the heroes of the passing hour? To answer the latter on this occasion,
especially when we consider the nature of the present assembly, would be highly injudicious; at any rate,
if I do not wish to meet with the fate of that sophist who, when in Sparta, publicly undertook to praise and
defend Herakles, when he was interrupted with the query: “But who then has found fault with him?” I
cannot help thinking, however, that some of these scruples are still sounding in the ears of not a few in this

gathering; for they may still be frequently heard from the lips of noble and artistically gifted men — as
even an upright philologist must feel them, and feel them most painfully, at moments when his spirits are
downcast. For the single individual there is no deliverance from the dissensions referred to; but what we
contend and inscribe on our banner is the fact that classical philology, as a whole, has nothing whatsoever
to do with the quarrels and bickerings of its individual disciples. The entire scientific and artistic
movement of this peculiar centaur is bent, though with cyclopic slowness, upon bridging over the gulf
between the ideal antiquity — which is perhaps only the magnificent blossoming of the Teutonic longing
for the south — and the real antiquity; and thus classical philology pursues only the final end of its own
being, which is the fusing together of primarily hostile impulses that have only forcibly been brought
together. Let us talk as we will about the unattainability of this goal, and even designate the goal itself as
an illogical pretension — the aspiration for it is very real; and I should like to try to make it clear by an
example that the most significant steps of classical philology never lead away from the ideal antiquity, but
to it; and that, just when people are speaking unwarrantably of the overthrow of sacred shrines, new and
more worthy altars are being erected. Let us then examine the so-called Homeric question from this
standpoint, a question the most important problem of which Schiller called a scholastic barbarism.
The important problem referred to is the question of the personality of Homer.
We now meet everywhere with the firm opinion that the question of Homer’s personality is no longer
timely, and that it is quite a different thing from the real “Homeric question.” It may be added that, for a
given period — such as our present philological period, for example — the centre of discussion may be
removed from the problem of the poet’s personality; for even now a painstaking experiment is being made
to reconstruct the Homeric poems without the aid of personality, treating them as the work of several
different persons. But if the centre of a scientific question is rightly seen to be where the swelling tide of
new views has risen up, i.e. where individual scientific investigation comes into contact with the whole
life of science and culture — if any one, in other words, indicates a historico-cultural valuation as the
central point of the question, he must also, in the province of Homeric criticism, take his stand upon the
question of personality as being the really fruitful oasis in the desert of the whole argument. For in Homer
the modern world, I will not say has learnt, but has examined, a great historical point of view; and, even
without now putting forward my own opinion as to whether this examination has been or can be happily
carried out, it was at all events the first example of the application of that productive point of view. By it
scholars learnt to recognise condensed beliefs in the apparently firm, immobile figures of the life of
ancient peoples; by it they for the first time perceived the wonderful capability of the soul of a people to
represent the conditions of its morals and beliefs in the form of a personality. When historical criticism
has confidently seized upon this method of evaporating apparently concrete personalities, it is permissible
to point to the first experiment as an important event in the history of sciences, without considering
whether it was successful in this instance or not.
It is a common occurrence for a series of striking signs and wonderful emotions to precede an epochmaking discovery. Even the experiment I have just referred to has its own attractive history; but it goes
back to a surprisingly ancient era. Friedrich August Wolf has exactly indicated the spot where Greek
antiquity dropped the question. The zenith of the historico-literary studies of the Greeks, and hence also of
their point of greatest importance — the Homeric question — was reached in the age of the Alexandrian
grammarians. Up to this time the Homeric question had run through the long chain of a uniform process of
development, of which the standpoint of those grammarians seemed to be the last link, the last, indeed,
which was attainable by antiquity. They conceived the Iliad and the Odyssey as the creations of one
single Homer; they declared it to be psychologically possible for two such different works to have sprung
from the brain of one genius, in contradiction to the Chorizontes, who represented the extreme limit of the
scepticism of a few detached individuals of antiquity rather than antiquity itself considered as a whole. To
explain the different general impression of the two books on the assumption that one poet composed them

both, scholars sought assistance by referring to the seasons of the poet’s life, and compared the poet of the
Odyssey to the setting sun. The eyes of those critics were tirelessly on the lookout for discrepancies in the
language and thoughts of the two poems; but at this time also a history of the Homeric poem and its
tradition was prepared, according to which these discrepancies were not due to Homer, but to those who
committed his words to writing and those who sang them. It was believed that Homer’s poem was passed
from one generation to another viva voce, and faults were attributed to the improvising and at times
forgetful bards. At a certain given date, about the time of Pisistratus, the poems which had been repeated
orally were said to have been collected in manuscript form; but the scribes, it is added, allowed
themselves to take some liberties with the text by transposing some lines and adding extraneous matter
here and there. This entire hypothesis is the most important in the domain of literary studies that antiquity
has exhibited; and the acknowledgment of the dissemination of the Homeric poems by word of mouth, as
opposed to the habits of a book-learned age, shows in particular a depth of ancient sagacity worthy of our
admiration. From those times until the generation that produced Friedrich August Wolf we must take a
jump over a long historical vacuum; but in our own age we find the argument left just as it was at the time
when the power of controversy departed from antiquity, and it is a matter of indifference to us that Wolf
accepted as certain tradition what antiquity itself had set up only as a hypothesis. It may be remarked as
most characteristic of this hypothesis that, in the strictest sense, the personality of Homer is treated
seriously; that a certain standard of inner harmony is everywhere presupposed in the manifestations of the
personality; and that, with these two excellent auxiliary hypotheses, whatever is seen to be below this
standard and opposed to this inner harmony is at once swept aside as un-Homeric. But even this
distinguishing characteristic, in place of wishing to recognise the supernatural existence of a tangible
personality, ascends likewise through all the stages that lead to that zenith, with ever-increasing energy
and clearness. Individuality is ever more strongly felt and accentuated; the psychological possibility of a
single Homer is ever more forcibly demanded. If we descend backwards from this zenith, step by step,
we find a guide to the understanding of the Homeric problem in the person of Aristotle. Homer was for
him the flawless and untiring artist who knew his end and the means to attain it; but there is still a trace of
infantile criticism to be found in Aristotle — i.e., in the naive concession he made to the public opinion
that considered Homer as the author of the original of all comic epics, the Margites. If we go still further
backwards from Aristotle, the inability to create a personality is seen to increase; more and more poems
are attributed to Homer; and every period lets us see its degree of criticism by how much and what it
considers as Homeric. In this backward examination, we instinctively feel that away beyond Herodotus
there lies a period in which an immense flood of great epics has been identified with the name of Homer.
Let us imagine ourselves as living in the time of Pisistratus: the word “Homer” then comprehended
an abundance of dissimilarities. What was meant by “Homer” at that time? It is evident that that
generation found itself unable to grasp a personality and the limits of its manifestations. Homer had now
become of small consequence. And then we meet with the weighty question: What lies before this period?
Has Homer’s personality, because it cannot be grasped, gradually faded away into an empty name? Or
had all the Homeric poems been gathered together in a body, the nation naively representing itself by the
figure of Homer? Was the person created out of a conception, or the conception out of a person? This is
the real “Homeric question,” the central problem of the personality.
The difficulty of answering this question, however, is increased when we seek a reply in another
direction, from the standpoint of the poems themselves which have come down to us. As it is difficult for
us at the present day, and necessitates a serious effort on our part, to understand the law of gravitation
clearly — that the earth alters its form of motion when another heavenly body changes its position in
space, although no material connection unites one to the other — it likewise costs us some trouble to
obtain a clear impression of that wonderful problem which, like a coin long passed from hand to hand,
has lost its original and highly conspicuous stamp. Poetical works, which cause the hearts of even the

greatest geniuses to fail when they endeavour to vie with them, and in which unsurpassable images are
held up for the admiration of posterity — and yet the poet who wrote them with only a hollow, shaky
name, whenever we do lay hold on him; nowhere the solid kernel of a powerful personality. “For who
would wage war with the gods: who, even with the one god?” asks Goethe even, who, though a genius,
strove in vain to solve that mysterious problem of the Homeric inaccessibility.
The conception of popular poetry seemed to lead like a bridge over this problem — a deeper and
more original power than that of every single creative individual was said to have become active; the
happiest people, in the happiest period of its existence, in the highest activity of fantasy and formative
power, was said to have created those immeasurable poems. In this universality there is something almost
intoxicating in the thought of a popular poem: we feel, with artistic pleasure, the broad, overpowering
liberation of a popular gift, and we delight in this natural phenomenon as we do in an uncontrollable
cataract. But as soon as we examine this thought at close quarters, we involuntarily put a poetic mass of
people in the place of the poetising soul of the people: a long row of popular poets in whom individuality
has no meaning, and in whom the tumultuous movement of a people’s soul, the intuitive strength of a
people’s eye, and the unabated profusion of a people’s fantasy, were once powerful: a row of original
geniuses, attached to a time, to a poetic genus, to a subject-matter.
Such a conception justly made people suspicious. Could it be possible that that same Nature who so
sparingly distributed her rarest and most precious production — genius — should suddenly take the
notion of lavishing her gifts in one sole direction? And here the thorny question again made its
appearance: Could we not get along with one genius only, and explain the present existence of that
unattainable excellence? And now eyes were keenly on the lookout for whatever that excellence and
singularity might consist of. Impossible for it to be in the construction of the complete works, said one
party, for this is far from faultless; but doubtless to be found in single songs: in the single pieces above
all; not in the whole. A second party, on the other hand, sheltered themselves beneath the authority of
Aristotle, who especially admired Homer’s “divine” nature in the choice of his entire subject, and the
manner in which he planned and carried it out. If, however, this construction was not clearly seen, this
fault was due to the way the poems were handed down to posterity and not to the poet himself — it was
the result of retouchings and interpolations, owing to which the original setting of the work gradually
became obscured. The more the first school looked for inequalities, contradictions, perplexities, the more
energetically did the other school brush aside what in their opinion obscured the original plan, in order, if
possible, that nothing might be left remaining but the actual words of the original epic itself. The second
school of thought of course held fast by the conception of an epoch-making genius as the composer of the
great works. The first school, on the other hand, wavered between the supposition of one genius plus a
number of minor poets, and another hypothesis which assumed only a number of superior and even
mediocre individual bards, but also postulated a mysterious discharging, a deep, national, artistic
impulse, which shows itself in individual minstrels as an almost indifferent medium. It is to this latter
school that we must attribute the representation of the Homeric poems as the expression of that mysterious
All these schools of thought start from the assumption that the problem of the present form of these
epics can be solved from the standpoint of an æsthetic judgment — but we must await the decision as to
the authorised line of demarcation between the man of genius and the poetical soul of the people. Are
there characteristic differences between the utterances of the man of genius and the poetical soul of the
This whole contrast, however, is unjust and misleading. There is no more dangerous assumption in
modern æsthetics than that of popular poetry and individual poetry, or, as it is usually called, artistic
poetry. This is the reaction, or, if you will, the superstition, which followed upon the most momentous
discovery of historico-philological science, the discovery and appreciation of the soul of the people. For

this discovery prepared the way for a coming scientific view of history, which was until then, and in many
respects is even now, a mere collection of materials, with the prospect that new materials would continue
to be added, and that the huge, overflowing pile would never be systematically arranged. The people now
understood for the first time that the long-felt power of greater individualities and wills was larger than
the pitifully small will of an individual man; they now saw that everything truly great in the kingdom of the
will could not have its deepest root in the inefficacious and ephemeral individual will; and, finally, they
now discovered the powerful instincts of the masses, and diagnosed those unconscious impulses to be the
foundations and supports of the so-called universal history. But the newly-lighted flame also cast its
shadow: and this shadow was none other than that superstition already referred to, which popular poetry
set up in opposition to individual poetry, and thus enlarged the comprehension of the people’s soul to that
of the people’s mind. By the misapplication of a tempting analogical inference, people had reached the
point of applying in the domain of the intellect and artistic ideas that principle of greater individuality
which is truly applicable only in the domain of the will. The masses have never experienced more
flattering treatment than in thus having the laurel of genius set upon their empty heads. It was imagined that
new shells were forming round a small kernel, so to speak, and that those pieces of popular poetry
originated like avalanches, in the drift and flow of tradition. They were, however, ready to consider that
kernel as being of the smallest possible dimensions, so that they might occasionally get rid of it altogether
without losing anything of the mass of the avalanche. According to this view, the text itself and the stories
built round it are one and the same thing.
Of course Nietzsche saw afterwards that this was not so. — TR.
Now, however, such a contrast between popular poetry and individual poetry does not exist at all; on
the contrary, all poetry, and of course popular poetry also, requires an intermediary individuality. This
much-abused contrast, therefore, is necessary only when the term individual poem is understood to mean
a poem which has not grown out of the soil of popular feeling, but which has been composed by a nonpopular poet in a non-popular atmosphere — something which has come to maturity in the study of a
learned man, for example.
With the superstition which presupposes poetising masses is connected another: that popular poetry
is limited to one particular period of a people’s history and afterwards dies out — which indeed follows
as a consequence of the first superstition I have mentioned. According to this school, in the place of the
gradually decaying popular poetry we have artistic poetry, the work of individual minds, not of masses of
people. But the same powers which were once active are still so; and the form in which they act has
remained exactly the same. The great poet of a literary period is still a popular poet in no narrower sense
than the popular poet of an illiterate age. The difference between them is not in the way they originate, but
it is their diffusion and propagation, in short, tradition. This tradition is exposed to eternal danger without
the help of handwriting, and runs the risk of including in the poems the remains of those individualities
through whose oral tradition they were handed down.
If we apply all these principles to the Homeric poems, it follows that we gain nothing with our
theory of the poetising soul of the people, and that we are always referred back to the poetical individual.
We are thus confronted with the task of distinguishing that which can have originated only in a single
poetical mind from that which is, so to speak, swept up by the tide of oral tradition, and which is a highly
important constituent part of the Homeric poems.
Since literary history first ceased to be a mere collection of names, people have attempted to grasp
and formulate the individualities of the poets. A certain mechanism forms part of the method: it must be
explained — i.e., it must be deduced from principles — why this or that individuality appears in this way
and not in that. People now study biographical details, environment, acquaintances, contemporary events,
and believe that by mixing all these ingredients together they will be able to manufacture the wished-for
individuality. But they forget that the punctum saliens, the indefinable individual characteristics, can

never be obtained from a compound of this nature. The less there is known about the life and times of the
poet, the less applicable is this mechanism. When, however, we have merely the works and the name of
the writer, it is almost impossible to detect the individuality, at all events, for those who put their faith in
the mechanism in question; and particularly when the works are perfect, when they are pieces of popular
poetry. For the best way for these mechanicians to grasp individual characteristics is by perceiving
deviations from the genius of the people; the aberrations and hidden allusions: and the fewer
discrepancies to be found in a poem the fainter will be the traces of the individual poet who composed it.
All those deviations, everything dull and below the ordinary standard which scholars think they
perceive in the Homeric poems, were attributed to tradition, which thus became the scapegoat. What was
left of Homer’s own individual work? Nothing but a series of beautiful and prominent passages chosen in
accordance with subjective taste. The sum total of æsthetic singularity which every individual scholar
perceived with his own artistic gifts, he now called Homer.
This is the central point of the Homeric errors. The name of Homer, from the very beginning, has no
connection either with the conception of æsthetic perfection or yet with the Iliad and the Odyssey. Homer
as the composer of the Iliad and the Odyssey is not a historical tradition, but an æsthetic judgment.
The only path which leads back beyond the time of Pisistratus and helps us to elucidate the meaning
of the name Homer, takes its way on the one hand through the reports which have reached us concerning
Homer’s birthplace: from which we see that, although his name is always associated with heroic epic
poems, he is on the other hand no more referred to as the composer of the Iliad and the Odyssey than as
the author of the Thebais or any other cyclical epic. On the other hand, again, an old tradition tells of the
contest between Homer and Hesiod, which proves that when these two names were mentioned people
instinctively thought of two epic tendencies, the heroic and the didactic; and that the signification of the
name “Homer” was included in the material category and not in the formal. This imaginary contest with
Hesiod did not even yet show the faintest presentiment of individuality. From the time of Pisistratus
onwards, however, with the surprisingly rapid development of the Greek feeling for beauty, the
differences in the æsthetic value of those epics continued to be felt more and more: the Iliad and the
Odyssey arose from the depths of the flood and have remained on the surface ever since. With this process
of æsthetic separation, the conception of Homer gradually became narrower: the old material meaning of
the name “Homer” as the father of the heroic epic poem, was changed into the æsthetic meaning of Homer,
the father of poetry in general, and likewise its original prototype. This transformation was contemporary
with the rationalistic criticism which made Homer the magician out to be a possible poet, which
vindicated the material and formal traditions of those numerous epics as against the unity of the poet, and
gradually removed that heavy load of cyclical epics from Homer’s shoulders.
So Homer, the poet of the Iliad and the Odyssey, is an æsthetic judgment. It is, however, by no means
affirmed against the poet of these epics that he was merely the imaginary being of an æsthetic
impossibility, which can be the opinion of only very few philologists indeed. The majority contend that a
single individual was responsible for the general design of a poem such as the Iliad, and further that this
individual was Homer. The first part of this contention may be admitted; but, in accordance with what I
have said, the latter part must be denied. And I very much doubt whether the majority of those who adopt
the first part of the contention have taken the following considerations into account.
The design of an epic such as the Iliad is not an entire whole, not an organism; but a number of
pieces strung together, a collection of reflections arranged in accordance with æsthetic rules. It is
certainly the standard of an artist’s greatness to note what he can take in with a single glance and set out in
rhythmical form. The infinite profusion of images and incidents in the Homeric epic must force us to admit
that such a wide range of vision is next to impossible. Where, however, a poet is unable to observe
artistically with a single glance, he usually piles conception on conception, and endeavours to adjust his
characters according to a comprehensive scheme.

He will succeed in this all the better the more he is familiar with the fundamental principles of
æsthetics: he will even make some believe that he made himself master of the entire subject by a single
powerful glance.
The Iliad is not a garland, but a bunch of flowers. As many pictures as possible are crowded on one
canvas; but the man who placed them there was indifferent as to whether the grouping of the collected
pictures was invariably suitable and rhythmically beautiful. He well knew that no one would ever
consider the collection as a whole; but would merely look at the individual parts. But that stringing
together of some pieces as the manifestations of a grasp of art which was not yet highly developed, still
less thoroughly comprehended and generally esteemed, cannot have been the real Homeric deed, the real
Homeric epoch-making event. On the contrary, this design is a later product, far later than Homer’s
celebrity. Those, therefore, who look for the “original and perfect design” are looking for a mere
phantom; for the dangerous path of oral tradition had reached its end just as the systematic arrangement
appeared on the scene; the disfigurements which were caused on the way could not have affected the
design, for this did not form part of the material handed down from generation to generation.
The relative imperfection of the design must not, however, prevent us from seeing in the designer a
different personality from the real poet. It is not only probable that everything which was created in those
times with conscious æsthetic insight, was infinitely inferior to the songs that sprang up naturally in the
poet’s mind and were written down with instinctive power: we can even take a step further. If we include
the so-called cyclic poems in this comparison, there remains for the designer of the Iliad and the Odyssey
the indisputable merit of having done something relatively great in this conscious technical composing: a
merit which we might have been prepared to recognise from the beginning, and which is in my opinion of
the very first order in the domain of instinctive creation. We may even be ready to pronounce this
synthetisation of great importance. All those dull passages and discrepancies — deemed of such
importance, but really only subjective, which we usually look upon as the petrified remains of the period
of tradition — are not these perhaps merely the almost necessary evils which must fall to the lot of the
poet of genius who undertakes a composition virtually without a parallel, and, further, one which proves
to be of incalculable difficulty?
Let it be noted that the insight into the most diverse operations of the instinctive and the conscious
changes the position of the Homeric problem; and in my opinion throws light upon it.
We believe in a great poet as the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey — but not that Homer was this
The decision on this point has already been given. The generation that invented those numerous
Homeric fables, that poetised the myth of the contest between Homer and Hesiod, and looked upon all the
poems of the epic cycle as Homeric, did not feel an æsthetic but a material singularity when it pronounced
the name “Homer.” This period regards Homer as belonging to the ranks of artists like Orpheus,
Eumolpus, Dædalus, and Olympus, the mythical discoverers of a new branch of art, to whom, therefore,
all the later fruits which grew from the new branch were thankfully dedicated.
And that wonderful genius to whom we owe the Iliad and the Odyssey belongs to this thankful
posterity: he, too, sacrificed his name on the altar of the primeval father of the Homeric epic, Homeros.
Up to this point, gentlemen, I think I have been able to put before you the fundamental philosophical
and æsthetic characteristics of the problem of the personality of Homer, keeping all minor details
rigorously at a distance, on the supposition that the primary form of this widespread and honeycombed
mountain known as the Homeric question can be most clearly observed by looking down at it from a faroff height. But I have also, I imagine, recalled two facts to those friends of antiquity who take such delight
in accusing us philologists of lack of piety for great conceptions and an unproductive zeal for destruction.
In the first place, those “great” conceptions — such, for example, as that of the indivisible and inviolable
poetic genius, Homer — were during the pre-Wolfian period only too great, and hence inwardly

altogether empty and elusive when we now try to grasp them. If classical philology goes back again to the
same conceptions, and once more tries to pour new wine into old bottles, it is only on the surface that the
conceptions are the same: everything has really become new; bottle and mind, wine and word. We
everywhere find traces of the fact that philology has lived in company with poets, thinkers, and artists for
the last hundred years: whence it has now come about that the heap of ashes formerly pointed to as
classical philology is now turned into fruitful and even rich soil.
Nietzsche perceived later on that this statement was, unfortunately, not justified. — TR.
And there is a second fact which I should like to recall to the memory of those friends of antiquity
who turn their dissatisfied backs on classical philology. You honour the immortal masterpieces of the
Hellenic mind in poetry and sculpture, and think yourselves so much more fortunate than preceding
generations, which had to do without them; but you must not forget that this whole fairyland once lay
buried under mountains of prejudice, and that the blood and sweat and arduous labour of innumerable
followers of our science were all necessary to lift up that world from the chasm into which it had sunk.
We grant that philology is not the creator of this world, not the composer of that immortal music; but is it
not a merit, and a great merit, to be a mere virtuoso, and let the world for the first time hear that music
which lay so long in obscurity, despised and undecipherable? Who was Homer previously to Wolf’s
brilliant investigations? A good old man, known at best as a “natural genius,” at all events the child of a
barbaric age, replete with faults against good taste and good morals. Let us hear how a learned man of the
first rank writes about Homer even so late as 1783: “Where does the good man live? Why did he remain
so long incognito? Apropos, can’t you get me a silhouette of him?”
We demand thanks — not in our own name, for we are but atoms — but in the name of philology
itself, which is indeed neither a Muse nor a Grace, but a messenger of the gods: and just as the Muses
descended upon the dull and tormented Bœotian peasants, so Philology comes into a world full of gloomy
colours and pictures, full of the deepest, most incurable woes; and speaks to men comfortingly of the
beautiful and godlike figure of a distant, rosy, and happy fairyland.
It is time to close; yet before I do so a few words of a personal character must be added, justified, I
hope, by the occasion of this lecture.
It is but right that a philologist should describe his end and the means to it in the short formula of a
confession of faith; and let this be done in the saying of Seneca which I thus reverse —
“Philosophia facta est quæ philologia fuit.”
By this I wish to signify that all philological activities should be enclosed and surrounded by a
philosophical view of things, in which everything individual and isolated is evaporated as something
detestable, and in which great homogeneous views alone remain. Now, therefore, that I have enunciated
my philological creed, I trust you will give me cause to hope that I shall no longer be a stranger among
you: give me the assurance that in working with you towards this end I am worthily fulfilling the
confidence with which the highest authorities of this community have honoured me.
Translated by J. M. Kennedy

(To be read before the lectures, although it in no way relates to them.)
The reader from whom I expect something must possess three qualities: he must be calm and must
read without haste; he must not be ever interposing his own personality and his own special “culture”; and
he must not expect as the ultimate results of his study of these pages that he will be presented with a set of
new formulæ. I do not propose to furnish formulæ or new plans of study for Gymnasia or other schools;
and I am much more inclined to admire the extraordinary power of those who are able to cover the whole
distance between the depths of empiricism and the heights of special culture-problems, and who again
descend to the level of the driest rules and the most neatly expressed formulæ. I shall be content if only I
can ascend a tolerably lofty mountain, from the summit of which, after having recovered my breath, I may
obtain a general survey of the ground; for I shall never be able, in this book, to satisfy the votaries of
tabulated rules. Indeed, I see a time coming when serious men, working together in the service of a
completely rejuvenated and purified culture, may again become the directors of a system of everyday
instruction, calculated to promote that culture; and they will probably be compelled once more to draw up
sets of rules: but how remote this time now seems! And what may not happen meanwhile! It is just
possible that between now and then all Gymnasia — yea, and perhaps all universities, may be destroyed,
or have become so utterly transformed that their very regulations may, in the eyes of future generations,
seem to be but the relics of the cave-dwellers’ age.
This book is intended for calm readers, — for men who have not yet been drawn into the mad
headlong rush of our hurry-skurrying age, and who do not experience any idolatrous delight in throwing
themselves beneath its chariot-wheels. It is for men, therefore, who are not accustomed to estimate the
value of everything according to the amount of time it either saves or wastes. In short, it is for the few.
These, we believe, “still have time.” Without any qualms of conscience they may improve the most fruitful
and vigorous hours of their day in meditating on the future of our education; they may even believe when
the evening has come that they have used their day in the most dignified and useful way, namely, in the
meditatio generis futuri. No one among them has yet forgotten to think while reading a book; he still
understands the secret of reading between the lines, and is indeed so generous in what he himself brings to
his study, that he continues to reflect upon what he has read, perhaps long after he has laid the book aside.
And he does this, not because he wishes to write a criticism about it or even another book; but simply
because reflection is a pleasant pastime to him. Frivolous spendthrift! Thou art a reader after my own
heart; for thou wilt be patient enough to accompany an author any distance, even though he himself cannot
yet see the goal at which he is aiming, — even though he himself feels only that he must at all events
honestly believe in a goal, in order that a future and possibly very remote generation may come face to
face with that towards which we are now blindly and instinctively groping. Should any reader demur and
suggest that all that is required is prompt and bold reform; should he imagine that a new “organisation”
introduced by the State, were all that is necessary, then we fear he would have misunderstood not only the
author but the very nature of the problem under consideration.
The third and most important stipulation is, that he should in no case be constantly bringing himself
and his own “culture” forward, after the style of most modern men, as the correct standard and measure of
all things. We would have him so highly educated that he could even think meanly of his education or
despise it altogether. Only thus would he be able to trust entirely to the author’s guidance; for it is only by
virtue of ignorance and his consciousness of ignorance, that the latter can dare to make himself heard.
Finally, the author would wish his reader to be fully alive to the specific character of our present
barbarism and of that which distinguishes us, as the barbarians of the nineteenth century, from other

Now, with this book in his hand, the writer seeks all those who may happen to be wandering, hither
and thither, impelled by feelings similar to his own. Allow yourselves to be discovered — ye lonely ones
in whose existence I believe! Ye unselfish ones, suffering in yourselves from the corruption of the German
spirit! Ye contemplative ones who cannot, with hasty glances, turn your eyes swiftly from one surface to
another! Ye lofty thinkers, of whom Aristotle said that ye wander through life vacillating and inactive so
long as no great honour or glorious Cause calleth you to deeds! It is you I summon! Refrain this once from
seeking refuge in your lairs of solitude and dark misgivings. Bethink you that this book was framed to be
your herald. When ye shall go forth to battle in your full panoply, who among you will not rejoice in
looking back upon the herald who rallied you?

The title I gave to these lectures ought, like all titles, to have been as definite, as plain, and as
significant as possible; now, however, I observe that owing to a certain excess of precision, in its present
form it is too short and consequently misleading. My first duty therefore will be to explain the title,
together with the object of these lectures, to you, and to apologise for being obliged to do this. When I
promised to speak to you concerning the future of our educational institutions, I was not thinking
especially of the evolution of our particular institutions in Bâle. However frequently my general
observations may seem to bear particular application to our own conditions here, I personally have no
desire to draw these inferences, and do not wish to be held responsible if they should be drawn, for the
simple reason that I consider myself still far too much an inexperienced stranger among you, and much too
superficially acquainted with your methods, to pretend to pass judgment upon any such special order of
scholastic establishments, or to predict the probable course their development will follow. On the other
hand, I know full well under what distinguished auspices I have to deliver these lectures — namely, in a
city which is striving to educate and enlighten its inhabitants on a scale so magnificently out of proportion
to its size, that it must put all larger cities to shame. This being so, I presume I am justified in assuming
that in a quarter where so much is done for the things of which I wish to speak, people must also think a
good deal about them. My desire — yea, my very first condition, therefore, would be to become united in
spirit with those who have not only thought very deeply upon educational problems, but have also the will
to promote what they think to be right by all the means in their power. And, in view of the difficulties of
my task and the limited time at my disposal, to such listeners, alone, in my audience, shall I be able to
make myself understood — and even then, it will be on condition that they shall guess what I can do no
more than suggest, that they shall supply what I am compelled to omit; in brief, that they shall need but to
be reminded and not to be taught. Thus, while I disclaim all desire of being taken for an uninvited adviser
on questions relating to the schools and the University of Bâle, I repudiate even more emphatically still
the rôle of a prophet standing on the horizon of civilisation and pretending to predict the future of
education and of scholastic organisation. I can no more project my vision through such vast periods of
time than I can rely upon its accuracy when it is brought too close to an object under examination. With my
title: Our Educational Institutions, I wish to refer neither to the establishments in Bâle nor to the
incalculably vast number of other scholastic institutions which exist throughout the nations of the world
to-day; but I wish to refer to German institutions of the kind which we rejoice in here. It is their future
that will now engage our attention, i.e. the future of German elementary, secondary, and public schools
(Gymnasien) and universities. While pursuing our discussion, however, we shall for once avoid all
comparisons and valuations, and guard more especially against that flattering illusion that our conditions
should be regarded as the standard for all others and as surpassing them. Let it suffice that they are our

institutions, that they have not become a part of ourselves by mere accident, and were not laid upon us
like a garment; but that they are living monuments of important steps in the progress of civilisation, in
some respects even the furniture of a bygone age, and as such link us with the past of our people, and are
such a sacred and venerable legacy that I can only undertake to speak of the future of our educational
institutions in the sense of their being a most probable approximation to the ideal spirit which gave them
birth. I am, moreover, convinced that the numerous alterations which have been introduced into these
institutions within recent years, with the view of bringing them up-to-date, are for the most part but
distortions and aberrations of the originally sublime tendencies given to them at their foundation. And
what we dare to hope from the future, in this behalf, partakes so much of the nature of a rejuvenation, a
reviviscence, and a refining of the spirit of Germany that, as a result of this very process, our educational
institutions may also be indirectly remoulded and born again, so as to appear at once old and new,
whereas now they only profess to be “modern” or “up-to-date.”
Now it is only in the spirit of the hope above mentioned that I wish to speak of the future of our
educational institutions: and this is the second point in regard to which I must tender an apology from the
outset. The “prophet” pose is such a presumptuous one that it seems almost ridiculous to deny that I have
the intention of adopting it. No one should attempt to describe the future of our education, and the means
and methods of instruction relating thereto, in a prophetic spirit, unless he can prove that the picture he
draws already exists in germ to-day, and that all that is required is the extension and development of this
embryo if the necessary modifications are to be produced in schools and other educational institutions.
All I ask, is, like a Roman haruspex, to be allowed to steal glimpses of the future out of the very entrails
of existing conditions, which, in this case, means no more than to hand the laurels of victory to any one of
the many forces tending to make itself felt in our present educational system, despite the fact that the force
in question may be neither a favourite, an esteemed, nor a very extensive one. I confidently assert that it
will be victorious, however, because it has the strongest and mightiest of all allies in nature herself; and
in this respect it were well did we not forget that scores of the very first principles of our modern
educational methods are thoroughly artificial, and that the most fatal weaknesses of the present day are to
be ascribed to this artificiality. He who feels in complete harmony with the present state of affairs and
who acquiesces in it as something “selbstverständliches,” excites our envy neither in regard to his faith
nor in regard to that egregious word “selbstverständlich,” so frequently heard in fashionable circles.
He, however, who holds the opposite view and is therefore in despair, does not need to fight any
longer: all he requires is to give himself up to solitude in order soon to be alone. Albeit, between those
who take everything for granted and these anchorites, there stand the fighters — that is to say, those who
still have hope, and as the noblest and sublimest example of this class, we recognise Schiller as he is
described by Goethe in his “Epilogue to the Bell.”
“Brighter now glow’d his cheek, and still more bright With that unchanging, ever youthful glow: —
That courage which o’ercomes, in hard-fought fight, Sooner or later ev’ry earthly foe, — That faith which
soaring to the realms of light, Now boldly presseth on, now bendeth low, So that the good may work, wax,
thrive amain, So that the day the noble may attain.”
I should like you to regard all I have just said as a kind of preface, the object of which is to illustrate
the title of my lectures and to guard me against any possible misunderstanding and unjustified criticisms.
And now, in order to give you a rough outline of the range of ideas from which I shall attempt to form a
judgment concerning our educational institutions, before proceeding to disclose my views and turning
from the title to the main theme, I shall lay a scheme before you which, like a coat of arms, will serve to
warn all strangers who come to my door, as to the nature of the house they are about to enter, in case they
may feel inclined, after having examined the device, to turn their backs on the premises that bear it. My
scheme is as follows: —
Two seemingly antagonistic forces, equally deleterious in their actions and ultimately combining to

produce their results, are at present ruling over our educational institutions, although these were based
originally upon very different principles. These forces are: a striving to achieve the greatest possible
extension of education on the one hand, and a tendency to minimise and to weaken it on the other. The
first-named would fain spread learning among the greatest possible number of people, the second would
compel education to renounce its highest and most independent claims in order to subordinate itself to the
service of the State. In the face of these two antagonistic tendencies, we could but give ourselves up to
despair, did we not see the possibility of promoting the cause of two other contending factors which are
fortunately as completely German as they are rich in promises for the future; I refer to the present
movement towards limiting and concentrating education as the antithesis of the first of the forces above
mentioned, and that other movement towards the strengthening and the independence of education as the
antithesis of the second force. If we should seek a warrant for our belief in the ultimate victory of the two
last-named movements, we could find it in the fact that both of the forces which we hold to be deleterious
are so opposed to the eternal purpose of nature as the concentration of education for the few is in harmony
with it, and is true, whereas the first two forces could succeed only in founding a culture false to the root.

(Delivered on the 16th of January 1872.)
Ladies and Gentlemen, — The subject I now propose to consider with you is such a serious and
important one, and is in a sense so disquieting, that, like you, I would gladly turn to any one who could
proffer some information concerning it, — were he ever so young, were his ideas ever so improbable —
provided that he were able, by the exercise of his own faculties, to furnish some satisfactory and
sufficient explanation. It is just possible that he may have had the opportunity of hearing sound views
expressed in reference to the vexed question of the future of our educational institutions, and that he may
wish to repeat them to you; he may even have had distinguished teachers, fully qualified to foretell what is
to come, and, like the haruspices of Rome, able to do so after an inspection of the entrails of the Present.
Indeed, you yourselves may expect something of this kind from me. I happened once, in strange but
perfectly harmless circumstances, to overhear a conversation on this subject between two remarkable
men, and the more striking points of the discussion, together with their manner of handling the theme, are
so indelibly imprinted on my memory that, whenever I reflect on these matters, I invariably find myself
falling into their grooves of thought. I cannot, however, profess to have the same courageous confidence
which they displayed, both in their daring utterance of forbidden truths, and in the still more daring
conception of the hopes with which they astonished me. It therefore seemed to me to be in the highest
degree important that a record of this conversation should be made, so that others might be incited to form
a judgment concerning the striking views and conclusions it contains: and, to this end, I had special
grounds for believing that I should do well to avail myself of the opportunity afforded by this course of
I am well aware of the nature of the community to whose serious consideration I now wish to
commend that conversation — I know it to be a community which is striving to educate and enlighten its
members on a scale so magnificently out of proportion to its size that it must put all larger cities to shame.
This being so, I presume I may take it for granted that in a quarter where so much is done for the things of
which I wish to speak, people must also think a good deal about them. In my account of the conversation
already mentioned, I shall be able to make myself completely understood only to those among my
audience who will be able to guess what I can do no more than suggest, who will supply what I am
compelled to omit, and who, above all, need but to be reminded and not taught.
Listen, therefore, ladies and gentlemen, while I recount my harmless experience and the less

harmless conversation between the two gentlemen whom, so far, I have not named.
Let us now imagine ourselves in the position of a young student — that is to say, in a position which,
in our present age of bewildering movement and feverish excitability, has become an almost impossible
one. It is necessary to have lived through it in order to believe that such careless self-lulling and
comfortable indifference to the moment, or to time in general, are possible. In this condition I, and a
friend about my own age, spent a year at the University of Bonn on the Rhine, — it was a year which, in
its complete lack of plans and projects for the future, seems almost like a dream to me now — a dream
framed, as it were, by two periods of growth. We two remained quiet and peaceful, although we were
surrounded by fellows who in the main were very differently disposed, and from time to time we
experienced considerable difficulty in meeting and resisting the somewhat too pressing advances of the
young men of our own age. Now, however, that I can look upon the stand we had to take against these
opposing forces, I cannot help associating them in my mind with those checks we are wont to receive in
our dreams, as, for instance, when we imagine we are able to fly and yet feel ourselves held back by
some incomprehensible power.
I and my friend had many reminiscences in common, and these dated from the period of our boyhood
upwards. One of these I must relate to you, since it forms a sort of prelude to the harmless experience
already mentioned. On the occasion of a certain journey up the Rhine, which we had made together one
summer, it happened that he and I independently conceived the very same plan at the same hour and on the
same spot, and we were so struck by this unwonted coincidence that we determined to carry the plan out
forthwith. We resolved to found a kind of small club which would consist of ourselves and a few friends,
and the object of which would be to provide us with a stable and binding organisation directing and
adding interest to our creative impulses in art and literature; or, to put it more plainly: each of us would
be pledged to present an original piece of work to the club once a month, — either a poem, a treatise, an
architectural design, or a musical composition, upon which each of the others, in a friendly spirit, would
have to pass free and unrestrained criticism.
We thus hoped, by means of mutual correction, to be able both to stimulate and to chasten our
creative impulses and, as a matter of fact, the success of the scheme was such that we have both always
felt a sort of respectful attachment for the hour and the place at which it first took shape in our minds.
This attachment was very soon transformed into a rite; for we all agreed to go, whenever it was
possible to do so, once a year to that lonely spot near Rolandseck, where on that summer’s day, while
sitting together, lost in meditation, we were suddenly inspired by the same thought. Frankly speaking, the
rules which were drawn up on the formation of the club were never very strictly observed; but owing to
the very fact that we had many sins of omission on our conscience during our student-year in Bonn, when
we were once more on the banks of the Rhine, we firmly resolved not only to observe our rule, but also to
gratify our feelings and our sense of gratitude by reverently visiting that spot near Rolandseck on the day
It was, however, with some difficulty that we were able to carry our plans into execution; for, on the
very day we had selected for our excursion, the large and lively students’ association, which always
hindered us in our flights, did their utmost to put obstacles in our way and to hold us back. Our
association had organised a general holiday excursion to Rolandseck on the very day my friend and I had
fixed upon, the object of the outing being to assemble all its members for the last time at the close of the
half-year and to send them home with pleasant recollections of their last hours together.
The day was a glorious one; the weather was of the kind which, in our climate at least, only falls to
our lot in late summer: heaven and earth merged harmoniously with one another, and, glowing wondrously
in the sunshine, autumn freshness blended with the blue expanse above. Arrayed in the bright fantastic
garb in which, amid the gloomy fashions now reigning, students alone may indulge, we boarded a steamer
which was gaily decorated in our honour, and hoisted our flag on its mast. From both banks of the river

there came at intervals the sound of signal-guns, fired according to our orders, with the view of
acquainting both our host in Rolandseck and the inhabitants in the neighbourhood with our approach. I
shall not speak of the noisy journey from the landing-stage, through the excited and expectant little place,
nor shall I refer to the esoteric jokes exchanged between ourselves; I also make no mention of a feast
which became both wild and noisy, or of an extraordinary musical production in the execution of which,
whether as soloists or as chorus, we all ultimately had to share, and which I, as musical adviser of our
club, had not only had to rehearse, but was then forced to conduct. Towards the end of this piece, which
grew ever wilder and which was sung to ever quicker time, I made a sign to my friend, and just as the last
chord rang like a yell through the building, he and I vanished, leaving behind us a raging pandemonium.
In a moment we were in the refreshing and breathless stillness of nature. The shadows were already
lengthening, the sun still shone steadily, though it had sunk a good deal in the heavens, and from the green
and glittering waves of the Rhine a cool breeze was wafted over our hot faces. Our solemn rite bound us
only in so far as the latest hours of the day were concerned, and we therefore determined to employ the
last moments of clear daylight by giving ourselves up to one of our many hobbies.
At that time we were passionately fond of pistol-shooting, and both of us in later years found the
skill we had acquired as amateurs of great use in our military career. Our club servant happened to know
the somewhat distant and elevated spot which we used as a range, and had carried our pistols there in
advance. The spot lay near the upper border of the wood which covered the lesser heights behind
Rolandseck: it was a small uneven plateau, close to the place we had consecrated in memory of its
associations. On a wooded slope alongside of our shooting-range there was a small piece of ground
which had been cleared of wood, and which made an ideal halting-place; from it one could get a view of
the Rhine over the tops of the trees and the brushwood, so that the beautiful, undulating lines of the Seven
Mountains and above all of the Drachenfels bounded the horizon against the group of trees, while in the
centre of the bow formed by the glistening Rhine itself the island of Nonnenwörth stood out as if
suspended in the river’s arms. This was the place which had become sacred to us through the dreams and
plans we had had in common, and to which we intended to withdraw, later in the evening, — nay, to
which we should be obliged to withdraw, if we wished to close the day in accordance with the law we
had imposed on ourselves.
At one end of the little uneven plateau, and not very far away, there stood the mighty trunk of an oaktree, prominently visible against a background quite bare of trees and consisting merely of low undulating
hills in the distance. Working together, we had once carved a pentagram in the side of this tree-trunk.
Years of exposure to rain and storm had slightly deepened the channels we had cut, and the figure seemed
a welcome target for our pistol-practice. It was already late in the afternoon when we reached our
improvised range, and our oak-stump cast a long and attenuated shadow across the barren heath. All was
still: thanks to the lofty trees at our feet, we were unable to catch a glimpse of the valley of the Rhine
below. The peacefulness of the spot seemed only to intensify the loudness of our pistol-shots — and I had
scarcely fired my second barrel at the pentagram when I felt some one lay hold of my arm and noticed that
my friend had also some one beside him who had interrupted his loading.
Turning sharply on my heels I found myself face to face with an astonished old gentleman, and felt
what must have been a very powerful dog make a lunge at my back. My friend had been approached by a
somewhat younger man than I had; but before we could give expression to our surprise the older of the
two interlopers burst forth in the following threatening and heated strain: “No! no!” he called to us, “no
duels must be fought here, but least of all must you young students fight one. Away with these pistols and
compose yourselves. Be reconciled, shake hands! What? — and are you the salt of the earth, the
intelligence of the future, the seed of our hopes — and are you not even able to emancipate yourselves
from the insane code of honour and its violent regulations? I will not cast any aspersions on your hearts,
but your heads certainly do you no credit. You, whose youth is watched over by the wisdom of Greece

and Rome, and whose youthful spirits, at the cost of enormous pains, have been flooded with the light of
the sages and heroes of antiquity, — can you not refrain from making the code of knightly honour — that is
to say, the code of folly and brutality — the guiding principle of your conduct? — Examine it rationally
once and for all, and reduce it to plain terms; lay its pitiable narrowness bare, and let it be the touchstone,
not of your hearts but of your minds. If you do not regret it then, it will merely show that your head is not
fitted for work in a sphere where great gifts of discrimination are needful in order to burst the bonds of
prejudice, and where a well-balanced understanding is necessary for the purpose of distinguishing right
from wrong, even when the difference between them lies deeply hidden and is not, as in this case, so
ridiculously obvious. In that case, therefore, my lads, try to go through life in some other honourable
manner; join the army or learn a handicraft that pays its way.”
To this rough, though admittedly just, flood of eloquence, we replied with some irritation,
interrupting each other continually in so doing: “In the first place, you are mistaken concerning the main
point; for we are not here to fight a duel at all; but rather to practise pistol-shooting. Secondly, you do not
appear to know how a real duel is conducted; — do you suppose that we should have faced each other in
this lonely spot, like two highwaymen, without seconds or doctors, etc. etc.? Thirdly, with regard to the
question of duelling, we each have our own opinions, and do not require to be waylaid and surprised by
the sort of instruction you may feel disposed to give us.”
This reply, which was certainly not polite, made a bad impression upon the old man. At first, when
he heard that we were not about to fight a duel, he surveyed us more kindly: but when we reached the last
passage of our speech, he seemed so vexed that he growled. When, however, we began to speak of our
point of view, he quickly caught hold of his companion, turned sharply round, and cried to us in bitter
tones: “People should not have points of view, but thoughts!” And then his companion added: “Be
respectful when a man such as this even makes mistakes!”
Meanwhile, my friend, who had reloaded, fired a shot at the pentagram, after having cried: “Look
out!” This sudden report behind his back made the old man savage; once more he turned round and looked
sourly at my friend, after which he said to his companion in a feeble voice: “What shall we do? These
young men will be the death of me with their firing.”— “You should know,” said the younger man, turning
to us, “that your noisy pastimes amount, as it happens on this occasion, to an attempt upon the life of
philosophy. You observe this venerable man, — he is in a position to beg you to desist from firing here.
And when such a man begs — —” “Well, his request is generally granted,” the old man interjected,
surveying us sternly.
As a matter of fact, we did not know what to make of the whole matter; we could not understand
what our noisy pastimes could have in common with philosophy; nor could we see why, out of regard for
polite scruples, we should abandon our shooting-range, and at this moment we may have appeared
somewhat undecided and perturbed. The companion noticing our momentary discomfiture, proceeded to
explain the matter to us.
“We are compelled,” he said, “to linger in this immediate neighbourhood for an hour or so; we have
a rendezvous here. An eminent friend of this eminent man is to meet us here this evening; and we had
actually selected this peaceful spot, with its few benches in the midst of the wood, for the meeting. It
would really be most unpleasant if, owing to your continual pistol-practice, we were to be subjected to an
unending series of shocks; surely your own feelings will tell you that it is impossible for you to continue
your firing when you hear that he who has selected this quiet and isolated place for a meeting with a
friend is one of our most eminent philosophers.”
This explanation only succeeded in perturbing us the more; for we saw a danger threatening us which
was even greater than the loss of our shooting-range, and we asked eagerly, “Where is this quiet spot?
Surely not to the left here, in the wood?”
“That is the very place.”

“But this evening that place belongs to us,” my friend interposed. “We must have it,” we cried
Our long-projected celebration seemed at that moment more important than all the philosophies of
the world, and we gave such vehement and animated utterance to our sentiments that in view of the
incomprehensible nature of our claims we must have cut a somewhat ridiculous figure. At any rate, our
philosophical interlopers regarded us with expressions of amused inquiry, as if they expected us to
proffer some sort of apology. But we were silent, for we wished above all to keep our secret.
Thus we stood facing one another in silence, while the sunset dyed the tree-tops a ruddy gold. The
philosopher contemplated the sun, his companion contemplated him, and we turned our eyes towards our
nook in the woods which to-day we seemed in such great danger of losing. A feeling of sullen anger took
possession of us. What is philosophy, we asked ourselves, if it prevents a man from being by himself or
from enjoying the select company of a friend, — in sooth, if it prevents him from becoming a philosopher?
For we regarded the celebration of our rite as a thoroughly philosophical performance. In celebrating it
we wished to form plans and resolutions for the future, by means of quiet reflections we hoped to light
upon an idea which would once again help us to form and gratify our spirit in the future, just as that former
idea had done during our boyhood. The solemn act derived its very significance from this resolution, that
nothing definite was to be done, we were only to be alone, and to sit still and meditate, as we had done
five years before when we had each been inspired with the same thought. It was to be a silent
solemnisation, all reminiscence and all future; the present was to be as a hyphen between the two. And
fate, now unfriendly, had just stepped into our magic circle — and we knew not how to dismiss her; —
the very unusual character of the circumstances filled us with mysterious excitement.
Whilst we stood thus in silence for some time, divided into two hostile groups, the clouds above
waxed ever redder and the evening seemed to grow more peaceful and mild; we could almost fancy we
heard the regular breathing of nature as she put the final touches to her work of art — the glorious day we
had just enjoyed; when, suddenly, the calm evening air was rent by a confused and boisterous cry of joy
which seemed to come from the Rhine. A number of voices could be heard in the distance — they were
those of our fellow-students who by that time must have taken to the Rhine in small boats. It occurred to us
that we should be missed and that we should also miss something: almost simultaneously my friend and I
raised our pistols: our shots were echoed back to us, and with their echo there came from the valley the
sound of a well-known cry intended as a signal of identification. For our passion for shooting had brought
us both repute and ill-repute in our club. At the same time we were conscious that our behaviour towards
the silent philosophical couple had been exceptionally ungentlemanly; they had been quietly contemplating
us for some time, and when we fired the shock made them draw close up to each other. We hurried up to
them, and each in our turn cried out: “Forgive us. That was our last shot, and it was intended for our
friends on the Rhine. They have understood us, do you hear? If you insist upon having that place among the
trees, grant us at least the permission to recline there also. You will find a number of benches on the spot:
we shall not disturb you; we shall sit quite still and shall not utter a word: but it is now past seven
o’clock and we must go there at once.
“That sounds more mysterious than it is,” I added after a pause; “we have made a solemn vow to
spend this coming hour on that ground, and there were reasons for the vow. The spot is sacred to us,
owing to some pleasant associations, it must also inaugurate a good future for us. We shall therefore
endeavour to leave you with no disagreeable recollections of our meeting — even though we have done
much to perturb and frighten you.”
The philosopher was silent; his companion, however, said: “Our promises and plans unfortunately
compel us not only to remain, but also to spend the same hour on the spot you have selected. It is left for
us to decide whether fate or perhaps a spirit has been responsible for this extraordinary coincidence.”
“Besides, my friend,” said the philosopher, “I am not half so displeased with these warlike

youngsters as I was. Did you observe how quiet they were a moment ago, when we were contemplating
the sun? They neither spoke nor smoked, they stood stone still, I even believe they meditated.”
Turning suddenly in our direction, he said: “Were you meditating? Just tell me about it as we proceed
in the direction of our common trysting-place.” We took a few steps together and went down the slope into
the warm balmy air of the woods where it was already much darker. On the way my friend openly
revealed his thoughts to the philosopher, he confessed how much he had feared that perhaps to-day for the
first time a philosopher was about to stand in the way of his philosophising.
The sage laughed. “What? You were afraid a philosopher would prevent your philosophising? This
might easily happen: and you have not yet experienced such a thing? Has your university life been free
from experience? You surely attend lectures on philosophy?”
This question discomfited us; for, as a matter of fact, there had been no element of philosophy in our
education up to that time. In those days, moreover, we fondly imagined that everybody who held the post
and possessed the dignity of a philosopher must perforce be one: we were inexperienced and badly
informed. We frankly admitted that we had not yet belonged to any philosophical college, but that we
would certainly make up for lost time.
“Then what,” he asked, “did you mean when you spoke of philosophising?” Said I, “We are at a loss
for a definition. But to all intents and purposes we meant this, that we wished to make earnest endeavours
to consider the best possible means of becoming men of culture.” “That is a good deal and at the same
time very little,” growled the philosopher; “just you think the matter over. Here are our benches, let us
discuss the question exhaustively: I shall not disturb your meditations with regard to how you are to
become men of culture. I wish you success and — points of view, as in your duelling questions; brandnew, original, and enlightened points of view. The philosopher does not wish to prevent your
philosophising: but refrain at least from disconcerting him with your pistol-shots. Try to imitate the
Pythagoreans to-day: they, as servants of a true philosophy, had to remain silent for five years — possibly
you may also be able to remain silent for five times fifteen minutes, as servants of your own future culture,
about which you seem so concerned.”
We had reached our destination: the solemnisation of our rite began. As on the previous occasion,
five years ago, the Rhine was once more flowing beneath a light mist, the sky seemed bright and the
woods exhaled the same fragrance. We took our places on the farthest corner of the most distant bench;
sitting there we were almost concealed, and neither the philosopher nor his companion could see our
faces. We were alone: when the sound of the philosopher’s voice reached us, it had become so blended
with the rustling leaves and with the buzzing murmur of the myriads of living things inhabiting the wooded
height, that it almost seemed like the music of nature; as a sound it resembled nothing more than a distant
monotonous plaint. We were indeed undisturbed.
Some time elapsed in this way, and while the glow of sunset grew steadily paler the recollection of
our youthful undertaking in the cause of culture waxed ever more vivid. It seemed to us as if we owed the
greatest debt of gratitude to that little society we had founded; for it had done more than merely
supplement our public school training; it had actually been the only fruitful society we had had, and within
its frame we even placed our public school life, as a purely isolated factor helping us in our general
efforts to attain to culture.
We knew this, that, thanks to our little society, no thought of embracing any particular career had ever
entered our minds in those days. The all too frequent exploitation of youth by the State, for its own
purposes — that is to say, so that it may rear useful officials as quickly as possible and guarantee their
unconditional obedience to it by means of excessively severe examinations — had remained quite foreign
to our education. And to show how little we had been actuated by thoughts of utility or by the prospect of
speedy advancement and rapid success, on that day we were struck by the comforting consideration that,
even then, we had not yet decided what we should be — we had not even troubled ourselves at all on this

head. Our little society had sown the seeds of this happy indifference in our souls and for it alone we
were prepared to celebrate the anniversary of its foundation with hearty gratitude. I have already pointed
out, I think, that in the eyes of the present age, which is so intolerant of anything that is not useful, such
purposeless enjoyment of the moment, such a lulling of one’s self in the cradle of the present, must seem
almost incredible and at all events blameworthy. How useless we were! And how proud we were of
being useless! We used even to quarrel with each other as to which of us should have the glory of being
the more useless. We wished to attach no importance to anything, to have strong views about nothing, to
aim at nothing; we wanted to take no thought for the morrow, and desired no more than to recline
comfortably like good-for-nothings on the threshold of the present; and we did — bless us!
— That, ladies and gentlemen, was our standpoint then! —
Absorbed in these reflections, I was just about to give an answer to the question of the future of our
Educational Institutions in the same self-sufficient way, when it gradually dawned upon me that the
“natural music,” coming from the philosopher’s bench had lost its original character and travelled to us in
much more piercing and distinct tones than before. Suddenly I became aware that I was listening, that I
was eavesdropping, and was passionately interested, with both ears keenly alive to every sound. I nudged
my friend who was evidently somewhat tired, and I whispered: “Don’t fall asleep! There is something for
us to learn over there. It applies to us, even though it be not meant for us.”
For instance, I heard the younger of the two men defending himself with great animation while the
philosopher rebuked him with ever increasing vehemence. “You are unchanged,” he cried to him,
“unfortunately unchanged. It is quite incomprehensible to me how you can still be the same as you were
seven years ago, when I saw you for the last time and left you with so much misgiving. I fear I must once
again divest you, however reluctantly, of the skin of modern culture which you have donned meanwhile;
— and what do I find beneath it? The same immutable ‘intelligible’ character forsooth, according to Kant;
but unfortunately the same unchanged ‘intellectual’ character, too — which may also be a necessity,
though not a comforting one. I ask myself to what purpose have I lived as a philosopher, if, possessed as
you are of no mean intelligence and a genuine thirst for knowledge, all the years you have spent in my
company have left no deeper impression upon you. At present you are behaving as if you had not even
heard the cardinal principle of all culture, which I went to such pains to inculcate upon you during our
former intimacy. Tell me, — what was that principle?”
“I remember,” replied the scolded pupil, “you used to say no one would strive to attain to culture if
he knew how incredibly small the number of really cultured people actually is, and can ever be. 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. It
were therefore a mistake publicly to reveal the ridiculous disproportion between the number of really
cultured people and the enormous magnitude of the educational apparatus. Here lies the whole secret of
culture — namely, that an innumerable host of men struggle to achieve it and work hard to that end,
ostensibly in their own interests, whereas at bottom it is only in order that it may be possible for the few
to attain to it.”
“That is the principle,” said the philosopher,— “and yet you could so far forget yourself as to
believe that you are one of the few? This thought has occurred to you — I can see. That, however, is the
result of the worthless character of modern education. The rights of genius are being democratised in
order that people may be relieved of the labour of acquiring culture, and their need of it. Every one wants
if possible to recline in the shade of the tree planted by genius, and to escape the dreadful necessity of
working for him, so that his procreation may be made possible. What? Are you too proud to be a teacher?
Do you despise the thronging multitude of learners? Do you speak contemptuously of the teacher’s
calling? And, aping my mode of life, would you fain live in solitary seclusion, hostilely isolated from that
multitude? Do you suppose that you can reach at one bound what I ultimately had to win for myself only

after long and determined struggles, in order even to be able to live like a philosopher? And do you not
fear that solitude will wreak its vengeance upon you? Just try living the life of a hermit of culture. One
must be blessed with overflowing wealth in order to live for the good of all on one’s own resources!
Extraordinary youngsters! They felt it incumbent upon them to imitate what is precisely most difficult and
most high, — what is possible only to the master, when they, above all, should know how difficult and
dangerous this is, and how many excellent gifts may be ruined by attempting it!”
“I will conceal nothing from you, sir,” the companion replied. “I have heard too much from your lips
at odd times and have been too long in your company to be able to surrender myself entirely to our present
system of education and instruction. I am too painfully conscious of the disastrous errors and abuses to
which you used to call my attention — though I very well know that I am not strong enough to hope for any
success were I to struggle ever so valiantly against them. I was overcome by a feeling of general
discouragement; my recourse to solitude was the result neither of pride nor arrogance. I would fain
describe to you what I take to be the nature of the educational questions now attracting such enormous and
pressing attention. It seemed to me that I must recognise two main directions in the forces at work — two
seemingly antagonistic tendencies, equally deleterious in their action, and ultimately combining to
produce their results: a striving to achieve the greatest possible expansion of education on the one hand,
and a tendency to minimise and weaken it on the other. The first-named would, for various reasons,
spread learning among the greatest number of people; the second would compel education to renounce its
highest, noblest and sublimest claims in order to subordinate itself to some other department of life —
such as the service of the State.
“I believe I have already hinted at the quarter in which the cry for the greatest possible expansion of
education is most loudly raised. This expansion belongs to the most beloved of the dogmas of modern
political economy. As much knowledge and education as possible; therefore the greatest possible supply
and demand — hence as much happiness as possible: — that is the formula. In this case utility is made the
object and goal of education, — utility in the sense of gain — the greatest possible pecuniary gain. In the
quarter now under consideration culture would be defined as that point of vantage which enables one to
‘keep in the van of one’s age,’ from which one can see all the easiest and best roads to wealth, and with
which one controls all the means of communication between men and nations. The purpose of education,
according to this scheme, would be to rear the most ‘current’ men possible,— ‘current’ being used here in
the sense in which it is applied to the coins of the realm. The greater the number of such men, the happier
a nation will be; and this precisely is the purpose of our modern educational institutions: to help every
one, as far as his nature will allow, to become ‘current’; to develop him so that his particular degree of
knowledge and science may yield him the greatest possible amount of happiness and pecuniary gain.
Every one must be able to form some sort of estimate of himself; he must know how much he may
reasonably expect from life. The ‘bond between intelligence and property’ which this point of view
postulates has almost the force of a moral principle. In this quarter all culture is loathed which isolates,
which sets goals beyond gold and gain, and which requires time: it is customary to dispose of such
eccentric tendencies in education as systems of ‘Higher Egotism,’ or of ‘Immoral Culture —
Epicureanism.’ According to the morality reigning here, the demands are quite different; what is required
above all is ‘rapid education,’ so that a money-earning creature may be produced with all speed; there is
even a desire to make this education so thorough that a creature may be reared that will be able to earn a
great deal of money. Men are allowed only the precise amount of culture which is compatible with the
interests of gain; but that amount, at least, is expected from them. In short: mankind has a necessary right to
happiness on earth — that is why culture is necessary — but on that account alone!”
“I must just say something here,” said the philosopher. “In the case of the view you have described
so clearly, there arises the great and awful danger that at some time or other the great masses may
overleap the middle classes and spring headlong into this earthly bliss. That is what is now called ‘the

social question.’ It might seem to these masses that education for the greatest number of men was only a
means to the earthly bliss of the few: the ‘greatest possible expansion of education’ so enfeebles
education that it can no longer confer privileges or inspire respect. The most general form of culture is
simply barbarism. But I do not wish to interrupt your discussion.”
The companion continued: “There are yet other reasons, besides this beloved economical dogma, for
the expansion of education that is being striven after so valiantly everywhere. In some countries the fear
of religious oppression is so general, and the dread of its results so marked, that people in all classes of
society long for culture and eagerly absorb those elements of it which are supposed to scatter the religious
instincts. 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 of everything which tends to
extend culture, provided that it be of service to its officials or soldiers, but in the main to itself, in its
competition with other nations. In this case, the foundations of a State must be sufficiently broad and firm
to constitute a fitting counterpart to the complicated arches of culture which it supports, just as in the first
case the traces of some former religious tyranny must still be felt for a people to be driven to such
desperate remedies. Thus, wherever I hear the masses raise the cry for an expansion of education, I am
wont to ask myself whether it is stimulated by a greedy lust of gain and property, by the memory of a
former religious persecution, or by the prudent egotism of the State itself.
“On the other hand, it seemed to me that there was yet another tendency, not so clamorous, perhaps,
but quite as forcible, which, hailing from various quarters, was animated by a different desire, — the
desire to minimise and weaken education.
“In all cultivated circles people are in the habit of whispering to one another words something after
this style: that it is a general fact that, owing to the present frantic exploitation of the scholar in the service
of his science, his education becomes every day more accidental and more uncertain. For the study of
science has been extended to such interminable lengths that he who, though not exceptionally gifted, yet
possesses fair abilities, will need to devote himself exclusively to one branch and ignore all others if he
ever wish to achieve anything in his work. Should he then elevate himself above the herd by means of his
speciality, he still remains one of them in regard to all else, — that is to say, in regard to all the most
important things in life. Thus, a specialist in science gets to resemble nothing so much as a factory
workman who spends his whole life in turning one particular screw or handle on a certain instrument or
machine, at which occupation he acquires the most consummate skill. In Germany, where we know how to
drape such painful facts with the glorious garments of fancy, this narrow specialisation on the part of our
learned men is even admired, and their ever greater deviation from the path of true culture is regarded as
a moral phenomenon. ‘Fidelity in small things,’ ‘dogged faithfulness,’ become expressions of highest
eulogy, and the lack of culture outside the speciality is flaunted abroad as a sign of noble sufficiency.
“For centuries it has been an understood thing that one alluded to scholars alone when one spoke of
cultured men; but experience tells us that it would be difficult to find any necessary relation between the
two classes to-day. For at present the exploitation of a man for the purpose of science is accepted
everywhere without the slightest scruple. Who still ventures to ask, What may be the value of a science
which consumes its minions in this vampire fashion? The division of labour in science is practically
struggling towards the same goal which religions in certain parts of the world are consciously striving
after, — that is to say, towards the decrease and even the destruction of learning. That, however, which, in
the case of certain religions, is a perfectly justifiable aim, both in regard to their origin and their history,
can only amount to self-immolation when transferred to the realm of science. In all matters of a general
and serious nature, and above all, in regard to the highest philosophical problems, we have now already
reached a point at which the scientific man, as such, is no longer allowed to speak. 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.
“It is precisely in journalism that the two tendencies combine and become one. The expansion and
the diminution of education here join hands. The newspaper actually steps into the place of culture, and he
who, even as a scholar, wishes to voice any claim for education, must avail himself of this viscous
stratum of communication which cements the seams between all forms of life, all classes, all arts, and all
sciences, and which is as firm and reliable as news paper is, as a rule. In the newspaper the peculiar
educational aims of the present culminate, just as the journalist, the servant of the moment, has stepped
into the place of the genius, of the leader for all time, of the deliverer from the tyranny of the moment.
Now, tell me, distinguished master, what hopes could I still have in a struggle against the general topsyturvification of all genuine aims for education; with what courage can I, a single teacher, step forward,
when I know that the moment any seeds of real culture are sown, they will be mercilessly crushed by the
roller of this pseudo-culture? Imagine how useless the most energetic work on the part of the individual
teacher must be, who would fain lead a pupil back into the distant and evasive Hellenic world and to the
real home of culture, when in less than an hour, that same pupil will have recourse to a newspaper, the
latest novel, or one of those learned books, the very style of which already bears the revolting impress of
modern barbaric culture — —”
“Now, silence a minute!” interjected the philosopher in a strong and sympathetic voice. “I
understand you now, and ought never to have spoken so crossly to you. You are altogether right, save in
your despair. I shall now proceed to say a few words of consolation.”

(Delivered on the 6th of February 1872.)
Ladies and Gentlemen, — Those among you whom I now have the pleasure of addressing for the first
time and whose only knowledge of my first lecture has been derived from reports will, I hope, not mind
being introduced here into the middle of a dialogue which I had begun to recount on the last occasion, and
the last points of which I must now recall. The philosopher’s young companion was just pleading openly
and confidentially with his distinguished tutor, and apologising for having so far renounced his calling as
a teacher in order to spend his days in comfortless solitude. No suspicion of superciliousness or
arrogance had induced him to form this resolve.
“I have heard too much from your lips at various times,” the straightforward pupil said, “and have
been too long in your company, to surrender myself blindly to our present systems of education and
instruction. I am too painfully conscious of the disastrous errors and abuses to which you were wont to
call my attention; and yet I know that I am far from possessing the requisite strength to meet with success,
however valiantly I might struggle to shatter the bulwarks of this would-be culture. I was overcome by a
general feeling of depression: my recourse to solitude was not arrogance or superciliousness.”
Whereupon, to account for his behaviour, he described the general character of modern educational
methods so vividly that the philosopher could not help interrupting him in a voice full of sympathy, and
crying words of comfort to him.
“Now, silence for a minute, my poor friend,” he cried; “I can more easily understand you now, and
should not have lost my patience with you. You are altogether right, save in your despair. I shall now
proceed to say a few words of comfort to you. How long do you suppose the state of education in the
schools of our time, which seems to weigh so heavily upon you, will last? I shall not conceal my views on
this point from you: its time is over; its days are counted. The first who will dare to be quite
straightforward in this respect will hear his honesty re-echoed back to him by thousands of courageous

souls. For, at bottom, there is a tacit understanding between the more nobly gifted and more warmly
disposed men of the present day. 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. If these feelings are never quite
honestly expressed, however, it is owing to a sad want of spirit among modern pedagogues. These lack
real initiative; there are too few practical men among them — that is to say, too few who happen to have
good and new ideas, and who know that real genius and the real practical mind must necessarily come
together in the same individuals, whilst the sober practical men have no ideas and therefore fall short in
“Let any one examine the pedagogic literature of the present; he who is not shocked at its utter
poverty of spirit and its ridiculously awkward antics is beyond being spoiled. Here our philosophy must
not begin with wonder but with dread; he who feels no dread at this point must be asked not to meddle
with pedagogic questions. The reverse, of course, has been the rule up to the present; those who were
terrified ran away filled with embarrassment as you did, my poor friend, while the sober and fearless
ones spread their heavy hands over the most delicate technique that has ever existed in art — over the
technique of education. This, however, will not be possible much longer; at some time or other the upright
man will appear, who will not only have the good ideas I speak of, but who in order to work at their
realisation, will dare to break with all that exists at present: he may by means of a wonderful example
achieve what the broad hands, hitherto active, could not even imitate — then people will everywhere
begin to draw comparisons; then men will at leas