Page:Popular Works of Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1889) Vol 2.djvu/176

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compelled to begin with some apparently uninteresting principles, concerning which, all I can ask of you at first is only to keep them in mind:—but I trust that before the end of this lecture these principles shall have become quite clear, by means of farther definitions and applications.

The Absolute State is in its form, according to our opinion, an artistic institution, intended to direct all individual powers towards the Life of the Race and to transfuse them therein; and thus to realize and manifest in individual life the general form of the Idea, as we have already sufficiently described it. Since the State cannot calculate upon the inward life and the original activity of the Idea in the minds of men,—all life in Idea being of this latter kind, as we have seen in our former lectures,—and since it rather operates outwardly upon individuals who feel no desire, but on the contrary a reluctance, to offer up their individual life for the Race, it follows that this institution must be one of constraint. For those individuals in whom the Idea has assumed a real inward life, and whose wish and desire is nothing else than to offer up their lives for the Race, no constraint is necessary and for them it disappears;—the State remains, with respect to them, only that comprehensive Unity which continually watches over the Whole, which points out and explains at all times the first and nearest purpose of the Race, and arranges the willing powers of man in their appropriate sphere of action. It is an artistic institution, we have said: but it is so, in the strictest sense of this word as an institution of free and self-intelligent Art, only after it has scientifically penetrated to its complete and perfect purpose in the Age of Reason as Knowledge, and to the means for the attainment of that purpose, when the Fifth Age of Reason as Art has begun. But there is also an order in Nature, that is, in the destiny of the Human Race, through which it is led towards its true end without its own know-