Page:Popular Works of Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1889) Vol 2.djvu/32

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

the philosopher no step can be taken without declaring the grounds upon which it proceeds; and in it theory and practice go hand in hand. It was necessary for me to proceed in this way on the former occasion, and in similar circumstances I must proceed in the same way again. But if any one choose to admit beforehand, and without further proof, that I proceed correctly and according to the rules of my art, and will calmly and candidly test, by his own natural sense of truth, that which I have laid down as the foundation of the edifice, such an one will lose nothing essential by thus missing the scientific explanation; and it will be perfectly sufficient for our present purpose if, out of that which we laid down in our former lecture, he has thoroughly understood and accepted the following propositions, and has retained them in his memory, so that he may connect with them what we have further to lay before you.

He must, I say, thoroughly understand, accept, and keep in mind the following:—The life of the Human Race does not depend upon blind chance; nor is it, as is often superficially pretended, everywhere alike, so that it has always been as it is now and will always so remain; but it proceeds and moves onward according to a settled plan which must necessarily be fulfilled, and therefore shall certainly be fulfilled. This plan is—that the Race shall in this Life and with freedom mould and cultivate itself into a pure and express Image of Reason. The whole Life of Man is divided—I am now supposing that the strict derivation of this has not been thoroughly understood or has been forgotten,—the whole Life of Man is divided into five principal Epochs:—that in which Reason governs in the form of blind Instinct; that in which this Instinct is changed into an external ruling Authority; that in which the dominion of this Authority, and with it that of Reason itself, is overthrown; that in which Reason and its laws are understood with clear consciousness; and finally, that in which all the relations of the Race shall be directed and ordered by perfect