Page:Popular Works of Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1889) Vol 2.djvu/122

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justification of our description—that these phenomena constitute a real stage in the progress of Humanity, which our Race must of necessity pass through;—this has not been denied. We must also keep in view the general remark made in an early portion of these lectures, that the elements of very different Ages may often be found coexistent in the same period of chronological time, and may intermingle or cross each other; and in accordance with this remark, our case may be thus stated:—We have not taken up empirically the literary condition of our own Time, as such; but we have put together a philosophical picture of that of the Third Age:—it was this which we had to make out, and not its opposite; and it was of it alone that we undertook to speak. If in the same period of Time there are found other elements, then these are either the remnants of a Past or the forecasts of a Future Age;—neither of which we are now called upon to notice.

Nevertheless, to guard ourselves in every possible way against misconception, and particularly against that most hateful of all misconceptions,—that we have denied everything good which exists in our Age,—and also in order to make a distinct and complete separation of whatever belongs to different Ages,—it will be proper to show in the latter respect, how the Scientific world ought to be constituted. Both of these questions,—the last which we have mentioned, as well as the first,—we shall consider in this day’s discourse.

In the first place:—we have to show that the state of literature has not always been such as we have described in our last lecture; and to declare how it has now become so. Among the two classical nations of antiquity with which we are best acquainted, the Greeks and Romans, there was much less written and read than among ourselves; while, on the contrary, there was much more spoken, and vocal discourse was much more carefully