Random Quote #86 topic: nietzsche, We Philologists by Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm, 1844-1900, translated by Kennedy, J. M.
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Philology as the science of antiquity does not, of course, endure for
ever; its elements are not inexhaustible. What cannot be exhausted,
however, is the ever-new adaptation of one's age to antiquity; the
comparison of the two. If we make it our task to understand our own age
better by means of antiquity, then our task will be an everlasting
one.--This is the antinomy of philology: people have always endeavoured
to understand antiquity by means of the present--and shall the present
now be understood by means of antiquity? Better: people have explained
antiquity to themselves out of their own experiences; and from the
amount of antiquity thus acquired they have assessed the value of their
experiences. Experience, therefore, is certainly an essential
prerequisite for a philologist--that is, the philologist must first of
all be a man; for then only can he be productive as a philologist. It
follows from this that old men are well suited to be philologists if
they were not such during that portion of their life which was richest
in experiences.

It must be insisted, however, that it is only through a knowledge of the
present that one can acquire an inclination for the study of classical
antiquity. Where indeed should the impulse come from if not from this
inclination? When we observe how few philologists there actually are,
except those that have taken up philology as a means of livelihood, we
can easily decide for ourselves what is the matter with this impulse for
antiquity: it hardly exists at all, for there are no disinterested
philologists.

Our task then is to secure for philology the universally educative
results which it should bring about. The means: the limitation of the
number of those engaged in the philological profession (doubtful whether
young men should be made acquainted with philology at all). Criticism of
the philologist. The value of antiquity: it sinks with you: how deeply
you must have sunk, since its value is now so little!


-- Friedrich Nietzsche



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