Addresses to the German Nation/Third Address


28. The essential feature of the proposed new education, so far as it was described in the last address, consisted in this, that it is the sure and deliberate art of training the pupil to pure morality. To pure morality, I said; the morality to which it educates exists as an original, independent, and separate thing, which develops spontaneously its own life, but is not, like the legality hitherto often aimed at, linked with and implanted in some other non-moral impulse, for the satisfaction of which it serves. It is the sure and deliberate art of this moral education, I said. It does not proceed aimlessly and at random, but according to a fixed rule well known to it, and is certain of its success. Its pupil goes forth at the proper time as a fixed and unchangeable machine produced by this art, which indeed could not go otherwise than as it has been regulated by the art, and needs no help at all, but continues of itself according to its own law.

This education certainly does train also the pupil’s mind, and this mental training is indeed the first thing with which it commences its task. Yet this mental development is not the chief and original aim, but only the condition and means of applying moral training to the pupil. This mental training, however, though acquired but incidentally, remains an ineradicable possession of the pupil’s life and the ever-burning lamp of his moral love. However great or small the total knowledge which he may have obtained from education, he will certainly have brought away from it a mind which, during the whole of his life, will be able to grasp every truth, the knowledge of which is essential to him, and which will remain continually susceptible to instruction from others, as well as capable of reflecting for itself.

This was the point we reached in the last address in the description of the new education. At the end of it we remarked that thereby it was not yet completed, but that it had still to solve another problem different from those already set. We proceed now to the task of defining this problem more clearly.

29. The pupil of this education is not merely a member of human society here on this earth and for the short span of life which is permitted him on it. He is also, and is undoubtedly acknowledged by education to be, a link in the eternal chain of spiritual life in a higher social order. A training which has undertaken to include the whole of his being should undoubtedly lead him to a knowledge of this higher order also. Just as it led him to sketch out for himself by his own activity an image of that moral world-order which never is, but always is to be, so must it lead him to create in thought by the same self-activity an image of that supersensuous world-order in which nothing becomes, and which never has become, but which simply is for ever; all this in such a way that he intimately understands and perceives that it could not be otherwise. Under proper guidance he will complete his attempts at such an image, and find at the end that nothing really exists but life, the spiritual life which lives in thought, and that everything else does not really exist, but only appears to exist. The reason for this appearance, a reason that results from thought, he will likewise grasp, even if only in general. Further, he will perceive that, amid the various forms which it received, not by chance, but according to a law founded in God Himself, the spiritual life which alone really exists is one, the divine life itself, which exists and manifests itself only in living thought. He will thus learn to know and keep holy his own and every other spiritual life as an eternal link in the chain of the manifestation of the divine life. Only in immediate contact with God and in the direct emanation of his life from Him will he find life, light, and happiness, but in any separation from that immediate contact, death, darkness, and misery. In a word, this development will train him to religion; and this religion of the indwelling of our life in God shall indeed prevail and be carefully fostered in the new era. On the other hand, the religion of the past separated the spiritual life from the divine, and only by apostasy against the divine life could it procure for the spiritual life the absolute existence which it had ascribed to it. It used God as a means to introduce self-seeking into other worlds after the death of the mortal body, and through fear and hope of these other worlds to reinforce for the present world the self-seeking which would otherwise have remained weak. Such a religion, which was obviously a servant of selfishness, shall indeed be borne to the grave along with the past age. In the new era eternity does not dawn first on yon side of the grave, but comes into the midst of the present life; while self-seeking is dismissed from serving and from ruling, and departs, taking its servants with it.

Education to true religion is, therefore, the final task of the new education.

Whether in the creation of the necessary image of the supersensuous world-order the pupil has really acted spontaneously, and whether the image created is absolutely correct and thoroughly clear and intelligible, education can easily judge in the same way as in the case of other objects of knowledge, for that, too, is in the domain of knowledge.

30. But here, too, the more important question is: How can education estimate and guarantee that this knowledge of religion will not remain dead and cold, but will be expressed in the actual life of the pupil? The premise of this question is the answer to another: How, and in what manner, is religion shown in life?

In everyday life, and in a well-ordered community, there is no need whatever of religion to regulate life. True morality suffices wholly for that purpose. In this respect, therefore, religion is not practical, and cannot and shall not become practical. Religion is simply knowledge; it makes man quite clear and intelligible to himself, answers the highest question which he can raise, solves for him the last contradiction, and so brings into his understanding complete unity with itself and perfect clearness. It is his complete salvation and deliverance from every foreign bond. Education, therefore, owes him this religion as his due absolutely, and without ulterior purpose. Religion, as a motive, has its only sphere of action in a very immoral and corrupt society, or where man’s field of activity lies not within the social order but beyond it, and rather has continually to create it anew and to maintain it; as in the case of the ruler, who often could not, without religion, perform the duties of his office with a good conscience. Such a case is not the concern of an education intended for everyone and for the whole nation. When, as in the former case, work is continued unceasingly, although man’s understanding has a clear perception of the incorrigibility of the age; when the toil of sowing is courageously borne without any prospect of harvest; when good is done even to the ungrateful, and those who curse are blessed with deeds and gifts, although it is clearly foreseen that they will curse again; when after a hundred failures man persists in faith and in love; then, it is not mere morality which is the motive, for that requires a purpose, but it is religion, the submission to a higher and unknown law, the humble silence before God, the sincere love of His life that is manifested in us, which alone and for its own sake shall be saved, where the eye sees nothing else to save.

31. Hence, the knowledge of religion, obtained by the pupils of the new education in their little community in which they grow up, cannot and shall not become practical. This community is well ordered, and in it whatever is properly attempted always succeeds; besides, the yet tender age of man shall be maintained in simplicity and in quiet faith in his race. Let the knowledge of its knavery remain reserved for personal experience in mature and stronger years.

It is, therefore, only in these more mature years and in the life of earnest purpose, long after education has left him to himself, that the pupil, if his social relations should advance from simple to higher stages, could need his knowledge of religion as a motive. Now, how shall education, which cannot test the pupil in this while he is in its hands, nevertheless be sure that this motive will work infallibly, if only the need arise? I reply: In this way; the pupil is so trained that none of the knowledge he possesses remains dead and cold within him when the possibility of its coming to life arises, but it all inevitably influences life so soon as life requires it. I shall give further reasons for this statement in a moment, and so elevate the whole conception which has been treated in this and in the last address, and fit it into a larger system of knowledge. On this larger system itself I shall shed new light and greater clearness by that conception. But first let me describe exactly the true nature of the new education, a general description of which I have just ended.

32. This education, then, no longer appears, as it did at the beginning of our address to-day, simply as the art of training the pupil to pure morality, but is rather the art of training the whole man completely and fully for manhood. In this connection there are two essentials. First, in regard to form, it is the real living human being, not simply the shadow and phantom of a man, who is to be trained to the very roots of his life. Then, in regard to content, all the essential component parts of man are to be developed equally and without exception. These component parts are understanding and will; and education has to aim at clearness in the former and at purity in the latter. Now, in regard to clearness in the former, two main questions must be raised; first, what it is that the pure will really wishes, and by what means this wish is to be attained; under this head is included all other knowledge which is to be taught to the pupil; secondly, what this pure will is in principle and essence; under this head is included knowledge of religion. The essentials mentioned, and their development until they influence life, education demands absolutely, and does not intend to exempt anyone from them in the slightest degree, for everyone must be a complete man. As to what anyone may become in addition, and as to the particular form general human nature may take or receive in him, this does not concern universal education, and lies beyond its scope.

33. I proceed now, by means of the following propositions, to give the further reasons I promised for the statement that in the pupil of the new education no knowledge can remain dead, and to fulfil my intention of elevating into a connected system all that has been said.

From what has been said it follows that from the point of view of their education there are two quite different and entirely opposite classes of men. At first every human being (and, therefore, also these two classes) is alike in this, that underlying the various manifestations of his life there is one impulse, which amid all change persists unchanged and is always the same. Incidentally, the self-comprehension of this impulse and its translation into ideas creates the world, and there is no other world but this world which is created thus in thought, not freely but of necessity. Now this impulse, which must always be translated into consciousness (and in this respect, once again, the two classes are alike), can be so translated in two ways, according to the two different kinds of consciousness. It is in the method of translation and of self-comprehension that the two classes differ.

The first kind of consciousness, that which is the first in point of time to develop, is that of dim feeling. Where this feeling exists, the fundamental impulse is most usually and regularly comprehended as the individual’s love of self; indeed, dim feeling shows this self at first only as something that wills to live and to prosper. Hence, material self-seeking arises as the real motive and developing power of such a life engrossed in translating its original impulse thus. So long as man continues to understand himself in this way, so long must he act selfishly, being unable to do otherwise; and, amid the ceaseless change in his life, it is this self-seeking alone that persists, always the same and to be expected with certainty. This dim feeling can also, as an unusual exception to the rule, pass beyond the personal self, and comprehend the fundamental impulse as a desire for a dimly-felt different order of things. Thence arises the life, adequately described by us elsewhere, which, exalted above self-seeking, is motived by ideas, dim indeed but none the less ideas, and in which reason rules as an instinct. Such comprehension of the fundamental impulse merely by dim feeling is the characteristic of the first class of men, who are trained, not by education, but by their own selves; this class in turn consists of two species, which are distinct for some reason that is incomprehensible and quite beyond the art of man to discover.

Clear knowledge is the second kind of consciousness, which does not, as a rule, develop of itself, but must be carefully fostered in the community. If the fundamental impulse of man were embraced in this principle, it would produce a second class of men quite different from the first. Such knowledge, which embraces fundamental love itself, does not leave us cold and indifferent, as indeed other knowledge can, but its object is loved above everything, for that object is but the interpretation and translation of our original love itself. Other knowledge embraces something alien, which remains alien and leaves us cold; this knowledge embraces the knower himself and his love, and he loves it. Now, although it is the same original love appearing only in different forms which spurs on both classes, yet disregarding this circumstance we can say that man is governed in the one case by dim feelings, in the other by clear knowledge.

Now, that such clear knowledge shall be a direct incentive in life, and shall be capable of being relied on with certainty depends, as has been said, on this, that the real true love of man is to be interpreted by it, that this is to be immediately clear to him, and that along with the interpretation the feeling of that love is to be stimulated in him and experienced by him. Knowledge, therefore, is never to be developed in him without love being developed at the same time, because otherwise he would remain cold; nor is love ever to be developed without knowledge being developed at the same time, because otherwise his motive would be a dim feeling. At every step in the training, then, it is the whole man as a unit that is fashioned. The man who is always treated by education as an indivisible whole will remain so in the future, and all knowledge will inevitably become for him a motive in life.

34. Clear knowledge instead of dim feeling being thus made the first and true foundation and starting-point of life, self-seeking is avoided altogether and cheated of its development. For it is dim feeling alone that represents to man his ego as in need of pleasure and afraid of pain. The clear idea does not represent it thus to him, but shows it rather as a member of a moral order; and there is a love for that order which is kindled and developed along with the development of the idea. This education has nothing at all to do with self-seeking, the root of which, dim feeling, it kills through clearness. It neither attacks it nor develops it; it has nothing at all to do with it. Even if, later, it were possible for this self-seeking to stir, it would find the heart already filled with a higher love which would deny it a place.

35. Now this fundamental impulse of man, when translated into clear knowledge, does not concern itself with a world which is already given and existent, which can be accepted, indeed, merely passively just as it is, and in which a love that stimulates to original creative activity would find no sphere of action for itself. On the contrary, exalted to knowledge, it is concerned with a world that is to be, an a priori world that exists in the future and ever remains in the future. The divine life, therefore, that underlies all appearance reveals itself never as a fixed and known entity, but as something that is to be; and after it has become what it was to be, it will reveal itself again to all eternity as something that is to be. This divine life, then, never appears in the death of the fixed entity, but remains continually in the form of ever-flowing life. The direct appearance and manifestation of God is love. The interpretation of this love by knowledge first fixes an existence, an existence that ever is to be; this is the only real world, in so far as a world can be real. The other world, on the contrary, which is given and found existing by us, is but the shadow and phantom, out of which knowledge builds up for its interpretation of love a fixed form and a visible body. This other world is the means for, and the condition of, the perception of the higher world that is in itself invisible. Not even in that higher world does God reveal Himself directly, but there too only through the medium of the one, pure, unchangeable, and formless love; it is in this love alone that He appears directly. To this love there is joined intuitive knowledge, which brings with it an image drawn from itself, with which to clothe the object of love that is in itself invisible. Yet each time it is opposed by love, and thereby stimulated again to make a new form, which is once again opposed in just the same way. Only thus, by fusion with intuition, does love too, which purely in itself is one and quite incapable of progress, of infinity, and of eternity, become like it eternal and infinite. The image mentioned just now, which is supplied from knowledge itself, considered by itself alone and without application to the love that is clearly perceived, is the fixed and given world, or nature. The delusion that God’s presence reveals itself in this nature in any way directly, or otherwise than through the agencies above mentioned, arises from darkness of mind and profanity of will.

36. The complete avoidance of dim feeling as a solvent of love and the setting up in its stead of clear knowledge as the usual solvent, as has already been mentioned, can happen only as the result of a deliberate art of education, and hitherto has not happened in this way. By this means too, as we have also seen, a type of man quite different from men as they have usually been hitherto will be introduced and become the rule. As the result of this education, therefore, a totally new order of things and a new creation would begin. Now, in this new form, mankind would fashion itself by means of itself, for mankind considered as the present generation educates itself as the future generation; and mankind can do this only by means of knowledge, the one common true light and air of this world which can be freely imparted and which binds the spiritual world into a unity. Formerly mankind became just what it did become and was able to become; the time for such chance development has gone by; for where mankind has developed most it has become nothing. If it is not to remain in this nothingness, it must henceforward make itself all that it is yet to become. The real destiny of the human race on earth, I said in the lectures of which these are the continuation, is in freedom to make itself what it really is originally. Now, this making of itself deliberately, and according to rule, must have a beginning somewhere and at some moment in space and time. Thereby a second great period, one of free and deliberate development of the human race, would appear in place of the first period, one of development that is not free. We are of opinion that, in regard to time, this is the very time, and that now the race is exactly midway between the two great epochs of its life on earth. But, in regard to space, we believe that it is first of all the Germans who are called upon to begin the new era as pioneers and models for the rest of mankind.

37. Yet even this wholly new creation will not result as a sudden change from what has gone before; it is rather, especially with the Germans, the true natural continuation and consequence of the past. It is apparent and, I believe, generally granted that the impulse and effort of the age has been seeking to dispel dim feelings and to secure the sole mastery for clearness and knowledge. This effort has been quite successful at least in this, that it has completely revealed the nothingness of the past. The impulse towards clearness should not be rooted out, nor should dull acquiescence in dim feeling again obtain the mastery. Rather must this impulse be developed still further and introduced into higher spheres, so that when the Nothing has been revealed, the Something, the positive truth that sets up something real, may likewise become manifest. The world of given and self-forming existence, which arises from dim feeling, has been submerged and shall remain below the surface. The world, however, which arises from original clearness, the world of existence that is ever to be evolved from the mind, shall dawn and shine forth in its splendour.

38. Truly the prophecy of a new life in such forms will probably seem strange to our age, which would scarcely have the courage to take this promise to itself, if it were to look solely at the tremendous difference between its own prevailing opinions on these matters and those which have been expressed as principles of the new era. I will not speak of the education which in the past, as a rule, only the higher classes received, as a privilege not to be extended to everyone, and which was quite silent concerning any supersensuous world, and strove merely to produce some skill in the affairs of the sensuous world. It was obviously the worse kind of education. But I will look only at what was popular education and could also, in a certain very limited sense, be called national education, which did not preserve complete silence concerning a supersensuous world. What were the doctrines of this education? We put forward as the fundamental assumption of the new education that there is at the root of man’s nature a pure pleasure in the good, which can be developed to such an extent that it becomes impossible for him to leave undone what he knows to be good and to do instead what he knows to be evil. The existing education, on the other hand, has not only assumed, but has also taught its pupils from early youth onwards, that man has a natural aversion from God’s commandments, and, further, that it is absolutely impossible for him to keep them. What else can be expected of such instruction, if it is taken seriously and believed, than that each individual should yield to his absolutely unchangeable nature, should not try to achieve what has once been represented to him as impossible, and should not desire to be better than he and all others can be? Indeed, he accepts the baseness attributed to him, the baseness of acknowledging his natural sinfulness and wickedness, because such baseness in God’s sight is represented to him as the sole means of coming to terms with Him. If perchance such a statement as ours comes to his ears, he cannot but think that someone merely wants to play a bad joke on him, because he has an ever-present inward feeling, which to him is perfectly clear, that this statement is not true, and that the opposite alone is true. We presuppose a knowledge, not dependent on any given existence, but on the contrary itself giving laws for that existence, and propose to immerse every child of man in this knowledge from the very beginning, and to keep him from that time onwards continually under its rule. On the other hand, we regard that nature of things which can be learned only from history as an insignificant accessory that follows of itself. When we do all this, then the ripest products of the old education oppose us, reminding us that it is well known there is no a priori knowledge, and saying they would like to know how there can be any knowledge except through experience. In order that this supersenuous and a priori world should not reveal itself in the place where this seemed unavoidable, namely, in the possibility of a knowledge of God, and that even in God Himself there should be no spiritual spontaneity, but that passive submission should remain all in all—to meet this danger the old education has hit upon the daring expedient of making the existence of God an historical fact, the truth of which is established by the examination of evidence.

So in truth the matter stands; yet our generation should not therefore despair of itself, for these and all other similar phenomena are themselves not independent, but only flowers and fruits of the uncultivated root of the past. If only this generation submits quietly to the grafting of a new, nobler, and stronger root, the old will be killed, and its flower and fruits, deprived of further nourishment, will of themselves wither and fall. As yet this generation cannot believe our words; it is inevitable that they seem to it like fairy tales. Nor do we want such belief; we want only room to work and to act. Afterwards it will see, and it will believe its own eyes.

39. Everyone who is acquainted with the productions of recent years will have noticed long ago that here again those principles and views are expressed which modern German philosophy since its origin has preached again and again, because it could do nothing else but preach. It is now sufficiently clear that these sermons have vanished without result into thin air, and the reason for this is evident too. A living thing affects only something living; but in the actual life of the age there is no relationship at all with this philosophy, which goes its own way in a sphere that is not yet revealed to this age, and which calls for sense-organs that it has not yet developed. This philosophy is not at home in our age, but is an anticipation of time, and a principle of life ready in advance for a generation which shall first awake to light in it. It must give up all claim on the present generation; but, in order not to be idle until then, let it now undertake the task of fashioning for itself the generation to which it does belong. As soon as this, its immediate business, has become clear to it, it will be able to live in peace and friendship with a generation which in other respects does not please it. The education which we have hitherto described is likewise the education for this philosophy. Yet in a certain sense it alone can be the educator in this education; and so it had to be a forerunner neither understood nor acceptable. But the time will come when it will be understood and received with joy; and that is why our generation should not despair of itself.

40. Let this generation hearken to the vision of an ancient prophet in a situation no less lamentable. Thus says the prophet[1] by the river of Chebar, the comforter of those in captivity, not in their own, but in a foreign land. “The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, and caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. And He said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest. Again He said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones, Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: and I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord. So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above; but there was no breath in them. Then said He unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God, Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.”

Though the elements of our higher spiritual life may be just as dried up, and though the bonds of our national unity may lie just as torn asunder and as scattered in wild disorder as the bones of the slain in the prophecy, though they may have whitened and dried for centuries in tempests, rainstorms, and burning sunshine, the quickening breath of the spiritual world has not yet ceased to blow. It will take hold, too, of the dead bones of our national body, and join them together, that they may stand glorious in new and radiant life.


  1. [Ezekiel xxxvii. 1-10. I have used the Authorised Version here.]