Random Quote #52 topic: nietzsche, We Philologists by Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm, 1844-1900, translated by Kennedy, J. M.

If a man approves of the investigation of the past he will also approve
and even praise the fact--and will above all easily understand it--that
there are scholars who are exclusively occupied with the investigation
of Greek and Roman antiquity: but that these scholars are at the same
time the teachers of the children of the nobility and gentry is not
equally easy of comprehension--here lies a problem.

Why philologists precisely? This is not altogether such a matter of
course as the case of a professor of medicine, who is also a practical
physician and surgeon. For, if the cases were identical, preoccupation
with Greek and Roman antiquity would be identical with the "science of
education." In short, the relationship between theory and practice in
the philologist cannot be so quickly conceived. Whence comes his
pretension to be a teacher in the higher sense, not only of all
scientific men, but more especially of all cultured men? This
educational power must be taken by the philologist from antiquity; and
in such a case people will ask with astonishment: how does it come that
we attach such value to a far-off past that we can only become cultured
men with the aid of its knowledge?

These questions, however, are not asked as a rule: The sway of philology
over our means of instruction remains practically unquestioned; and
antiquity _has_ the importance assigned to it. To this extent the
position of the philologist is more favourable than that of any other
follower of science. True, he has not at his disposal that great mass of
men who stand in need of him--the doctor, for example, has far more than
the philologist. But he can influence picked men, or youths, to be more
accurate, at a time when all their mental faculties are beginning to
blossom forth--people who can afford to devote both time and money to
their higher development. In all those places where European culture has
found its way, people have accepted secondary schools based upon a
foundation of Latin and Greek as the first and highest means of
instruction. In this way philology has found its best opportunity of
transmitting itself, and commanding respect: no other science has been
so well favoured. As a general rule all those who have passed through
such institutions have afterwards borne testimony to the excellence of
their organisation and curriculum, and such people are, of course,
unconscious witnesses in favour of philology. If any who have not passed
through these institutions should happen to utter a word in
disparagement of this education, an unanimous and yet calm repudiation
of the statement at once follows, as if classical education were a kind
of witchcraft, blessing its followers, and demonstrating itself to them
by this blessing. There is no attempt at polemics . "We have been
through it all." "We know it has done us good."

Now there are so many things to which men have become so accustomed that
they look upon them as quite appropriate and suitable, for habit
intermixes all things with sweetness; and men as a rule judge the value
of a thing in accordance with their own desires. The desire for
classical antiquity as it is now felt should be tested, and, as it were,
taken to pieces and analysed with a view to seeing how much of this
desire is due to habit, and how much to mere love of adventure--I refer
to that inward and active desire, new and strange, which gives rise to a
productive conviction from day to day, the desire for a higher goal, and
also the means thereto . as the result of which people advance step by
step from one unfamiliar thing to another, like an Alpine climber.

What is the foundation on which the high value attached to antiquity at
the present time is based, to such an extent indeed that our whole
modern culture is founded on it? Where must we look for the origin of
this delight in antiquity, and the preference shown for it?

I think I have recognised in my examination of the question that all our
philology--that is, all its present existence and power--is based on the
same foundation as that on which our view of antiquity as the most
important of all means of training is based. Philology as a means of
instruction is the clear expression of a predominating conception
regarding the value of antiquity, and the best methods of education. Two
propositions are contained in this statement. In the first place all
higher education must be a historical one, and secondly, Greek and Roman
history differs from all others in that it is classical. Thus the
scholar who knows this history becomes a teacher. We are not here going
into the question as to whether higher education ought to be historical
or not; but we may examine the second and ask: in how far is it classic?

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

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

-- Friedrich Nietzsche


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