Nun lebt zwar der Stamm, auf dem sie hervorspriessen kann, in der Vergangenheit. Den Elementen sucht man mehr zu entrinnen, ihre Gewalt mehr auszudauern, als sie zu besiegen:. Ich frage einen jeden, was solch ein Beispiel auf eine Nation wirkt? Schon dies spricht gegen die stehenden Armeen. Allein unsere stehende Armeen bringen, wenn ich so sagen darf, den Krieg mitten in den Schooss des Friedens. Sie sind ein Theil des Ganzen, welches nicht Plane eitler menschlicher Vernunft, sondern die sichere Hand des Schicksals gebildet hat.
Er gebe Freiheit und dieselbe Freiheit geniesse ein benachbarter Staat. Soll ich jetzt auch aus diesem Raisonnement einen zu meinem Endziel dienenden Grundsatz ziehen;. Schon eine sehr mangelhafte Erfahrung lehrt, dass diese Sorgfalt mehr oder minder weit ausgreifen kann, ihren Endzweck zu erreichen. In unsern, meistentheils monarchischen Staaten ist das alles ganz anders. Wo also nicht alles zusammenstimmt, da vermag diese Erziehung allein nicht durchzudringen. Jede Verfassung wirkte so sehr auf den Nationalcharakter, dieser, bestimmt gebildet, artete aus, und brachte eine neue hervor.
Um die in einem Staat nothwendige Sicherheit zu erhalten, ist Umformung der Sitten selbst nicht nothwendig. Oeffentliche Erziehung scheint mir daher ganz ausserhalb der Schranken zu liegen, in welchen der Staat seine Wirksamkeit halten muss. Historischer Blick auf die Art, wie die Staaten sich der Religion bedient haben. Ausser der eigentlichen Erziehung der Jugend gibt es noch ein anderes Mittel auf den Charakter und die Sitten der Nation zu wirken, durch welches der Staat gleichsam den erwachsenen, reif gewordenen Menschen erzieht, sein ganzes Leben hindurch seine Handlungsweise und Denkungsart begleitet, und derselben diese oder jene Richtung zu ertheilen, oder sie wenigstens vor diesem oder jenem Abwege zu bewahren versucht — die Religion.
Alle Staaten, soviel uns die Geschichte aufzeigt, haben sich dieses Mittels, obgleich in sehr verschiedener [ : 62] Absicht, und in verschiedenem Maasse bedient. Nur verschieden ist die Vorstellung der Gottheit nach der Verschiedenheit der Vorstellung von Vollkommenheit, die in jedem Zeitalter und unter jeder Nation herrscht.
Vielmehr beruht die Wirksamkeit der Religion schlechterdings auf der individuellen Beschaffenheit der Menschen, und ist im strengsten Verstande subjektiv. Allein auch hier sind die Nuancen unendlich verschieden. Selbst dass sie sich der Religion, als eines Bildungsmittels bedienen, ist ein Beweis davon. Der Nutzen freier Untersuchung dehnt sich auf unsre ganze Art, nicht blos zu denken, sondern zu handeln aus. Zweifel, die seine Vernunft erregt, peinigen ihn.
Denn sie sind nicht, wie in dem selbstdenkenden Kopfe, neue Mittel zur Wahrheit zu gelangen; sie nehmen ihm blos die Gewissheit, ohne ihm ein Mittel anzuzeigen, dieselbe auf eine andre Weise wieder zu erhalten. Wie Religion in einem Menschen von selbst entstehe? Die sinnlichen Empfindungen, Neigungen und Leidenschaften sind es, welche sich zuerst und in den heftigsten Aeusserungen im Menschen zeigen.
Wo sie, ehe noch Kultur sie verfeinert, oder der Energie der Seele eine andre Richtung gegeben hat, schweigen; da ist auch alle Kraft erstorben, und es kann nie etwas Gutes und Grosses gedeihen. Indess ist ihr Einfluss in der Intension, wie in der Art des Wirkens verschieden. Das Auge, wenn ich so sagen darf, liefert dem Verstande einen mehr vorbereiteten Stoff. Es fragt sich indess, ob dies der richtige Maassstab sei? Meiner Idee nach, ist Energie die erste und einzige Tugend des Menschen.
Dies alles aber ist der Fall der Musik. Ferner ist der Musik blos diese Zeitfolge eigen; nur diese ist in ihr bestimmt. Es ist gleichsam ein Thema, dem man unendlich viele Texte unterlegen kann. Die eben geschilderte Art zu wirken, ist nun nicht der [ : 88] Musik allein eigen.
Selbst bei dem Geschmack ist sie unverkennbar. So macht die Malerei, selbst die Plastik es sich eigen. Indem sie den Gegenstand weniger lebhaft darstellt, als die Malerei und die Plastik, spricht sie die Empfindung weniger eindringend an, als der Gesang und die Musik. Doch genug hievon. Die gleiche Entschuldigung muss ich, auch bei dem nun Folgenden, nicht zu vergessen bitten. Das ewige Studium dieser Physiognomik der Natur bildet den eigentlichen Menschen.
Nur der blos analytische Philosoph kann vielleicht durch die einfachen Operationen der, nicht blos ruhigen, sondern auch kalten Vernunft seinen Endzweck erreichen. Ihr dadurch Freiheit und Achtung zu erwerben, war meine Absicht. Vergessen darf ich indess nicht, dass gerade die Sinnlichkeit auch die Quelle einer grossen Menge physischer und moralischer Uebel ist.
Blos gewisse Handlungen, Gesinnungen hervorzubringen, giebt es freilich sehr viele Wege. Und wie gross auch das Uebel des Sittenverderbnisses sein mag, es ermangelt selbst der heilsamen Folgen nicht. Dies zeigt sogar die Geschichte der Wilden. Freiheit veranlasst vielleicht manche Vergehung, giebt aber selbst dem Laster eine minder unedle Gestalt. Alle Staatseinrichtungen, indem sie ein mannigfaltiges und sehr verschiedenes Interesse in eine Einheit bringen sollen, verursachen vielerlei Kollisionen.
Beide fliessen unmittelbar aus dem oben entwickelten Raisonnement. Nur wenn man dem Ausdrucke der Sicherheit diese Bedeutung unterlegt, kann jenes Anwendung finden. Ueber den Ausdruck Polizeigesetze. Von diesem Fall handeln die meisten der sogenannten Polizeigesetze. Und zwar muss in Absicht der Rechte des Staats hier dasjenige angewandt werden, was von dem Sinne dieses Ausdrucks so eben allgemein erinnert worden ist. In dem ersteren Fall geriethe die Freiheit, in dem letzteren die Sicherheit in Gefahr zu leiden. Es ist daher freilich soviel ersichtlich, dass ein [ : ] Mittelweg getroffen werden muss.
Die Theorie kann daher nicht mehr, als jene Momente der Ueberlegung, angeben. Ueberall, wo sonst Schaden entsteht, ist es Zufall, den der Handelnde zu ersetzen nicht verbunden ist. Eine weitere Ausdehnung liesse sich nur aus einem stillschweigenden Vertrage der Zusammenlebenden, und also schon wiederum aus etwas Positivem herleiten. Sprengt sie doch nicht in der physischen Natur jeden Fels, der dem [ : ] Wanderer in dem Wege steht! Solch ein gemeinschaftliches Eigenthum sind z. Beraubung der Freiheit, die z. Die Versicherung der Person der Schuldner z.
So bei der Ehe. Endlich kann es auch nicht eine Wohlthat aufdringen heissen, wenn man die Befugniss aufhebt, ihr im Voraus zu entsagen. Endlich dient die Freiheit letztwilliger Verordnungen sehr oft und meistentheils gerade den unedleren Leidenschaften des Menschen, dem Stolze, der Herrschsucht, der Eitelkeit u. Schon mehr als einmal ist der genaue Zusammenhang der Gesetze der Intestatsuccession mit den politischen Verfassungen der Staaten bemerkt worden, und leicht liesse sich dieses Mittel auch zu andern Zwecken gebrauchen. Der Isolirte vermag sich eben so wenig zu bilden, als der Gefesselte.
Als solche Bestimmungen liessen sich z. Die Antwort muss sich aus dem festgestellten Grundsatz ergeben. Diejenigen Handlungen, welche mit freier Bewilligung des andern geschehen, muss er in eben denjenigen, aber [ : ] keinen engern Schranken halten, als welche den Handlungen einzelner Menschen im Vorigen vorgeschrieben sind. So habe ich auch z. Der Staat tritt hier blos an die Stelle der Partheien. Allein auch hier treten noch neue Schranken ein. Die Entscheidung des streitigen Rechts durch den Richter kann nur durch bestimmte, gesetzlich angeordnete Kennzeichen der Wahrheit geschehen.
Handlungen, welche der Staat bestrafen muss. Grad der Nichtachtung des fremden Rechts.
Besserung derselben. Die erste Frage nun, welche hiebei entsteht, ist die: welche Handlungen der Staat mit Strafen belegen, gleichsam als Verbrechen aufstellen kann? Die Antwort ist nach dem Vorigen leicht. Diese aber verdienen auch insgesammt angemessene Bestrafung. Von dem Gegenstande der Bestrafung wende ich mich zu der Strafe selbst. Was daher in einem gegebenen Falle mit Recht Grausamkeit heisst, das kann in einem andren die Nothwendigkeit selbst erheischen. Auf jeden Fall reduzirt sich daher diese Strafe allein darauf, dass der Staat dem Verbrecher die Merkmale seiner Achtung und seines Vertrauens entziehn, und andern gestatten [ : ] kann dies gleichfalls ungestraft zu thun.
Nicht minder gross ist die Schwierigkeit bei der Frage: wie lange die Strafe dauern solle?
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Unstreitig wird jeder [ : ] Billigdenkende sie nur auf eine gewisse Zeit hin erstrecken wollen. Wenn das absolute Maas der Strafen keine allgemeine Bestimmung erlaubt; so ist dieselbe hingegen um so nothwendiger bei dem relativen. Allein wird dieser Grundsatz richtig verstanden; so ist er mit dem eben aufgestellten einerlei.
Er ist ungerecht. Darauf beruht nicht blos diese Verbindlichkeit ausser der Staatsverbindung, sondern auch in derselben. Die Gleichheit zwischen Verbrechen und Strafe, welche die eben entwickelten Ideen fordern, kann wiederum nicht absolut bestimmt, es kann nicht allgemein gesagt werden, dieses oder jenes Verbrechen verdient nur eine solche oder solche Strafe.
Wenn daher, nach dem Vorigen, die Bestimmung des [ : ] absoluten Maases der Strafen, z. Wenn auf diese Weise Verbrechen und Strafe allgemein von dem Gesetze bestimmt sind, so muss nun dies gegebene Strafgesetz auf einzelne Verbrechen angewendet werden. England, hierin einer edlen Gesetzgebung erfreuen. Da ich im Vorigen S. Auf der andern aber vermehrt sich auch der Nachtheil in eben dem Grade, in welchem die moralische Natur jede Fessel schwerer empfindet, als die physische.
Nur, scheint es mir, ist eine gesetzliche Vorschrift hiezu nicht blos ein undienliches, sondern sogar entgegenarbeitendes Mittel. Daher haben auch die denkendsten neueren Gesetzgeber versucht, die Strafen zugleich zu Besserungsmitteln zu machen. Absolutio ab instantia. Desto emsiger aber muss derselbe darauf bedacht sein, kein begangenes Verbrechen unentdeckt, kein entdecktes unbestraft, ja nur gelinder bestraft zu lassen, als das Gesetz es verlangt. Noch ungerechter aber wird eine solche Verheimlichung bei dem Verfahren [ : ] zur Aufsuchung der Verbrechen.
Wenn zwischen diesem, und dem, bei Gelegenheit der Handlungen des einzelnen Menschen S. Allgemeine Anmerkung zu diesem und den vier vorhergehenden Abschnitten. Daher niemals z. Jedoch muss diese Aufsicht niemals positiv den Eltern eine bestimmte Bildung und Erziehung der Kinder vorschreiben wollen, sondern nur immer negativ dahin gerichtet sein, Eltern und Kinder gegenseitig in den, ihnen vom Gesetz bestimmten Schranken zu erhalten.
Zuerst von jenen, dann von diesen. Nothwendigkeit dieser Trennung. Da ich jetzt vollendet habe, was mir, bei der Uebersicht meines ganzen Plans im Vorigen S. Schon meine Unwissenheit in allem, was Finanzen heisst, verbietet mir hier ein langes Raisonnement. Schon oben S. Die Erfahrung lehrt, wie vielfache Einrichtungen ihre Anordnung und ihre Hebung voraussetzt, welche das vorige Raisonnement unstreitig nicht billigen kann.
Dann trifft auch hier ein, dass der Staat, der weniger wirken soll, auch eine geringere Macht, und die geringere Macht eine geringere Wehr braucht. Ich bin zufrieden, wenn ich bewiesen habe, dass dieser Grundsatz wenigstens bei allen Staatseinrichtungen dem Gesetzgeber, als Ideal, vorschreiben sollte. Anwendung der vorgetragenen Theorie auf die Wirklichkeit. Bei jeglicher Umformung der Gegenwart muss auf den bisherigen Zustand ein neuer folgen.
Nun aber bringt jede Lage, in welcher sich die Menschen befinden, jeder Gegenstand, der sie umgiebt, eine bestimmte, feste Form in ihrem Innern hervor. Dieser Grad der Kultur ist die wahre Reife der Freiheit. Allein diese Reife findet sich nirgends in ihrer Vollendung, und wird in dieser — meiner Ueberzeugung nach — auch dem sinnlichen, so gern aus sich herausgehenden Menschen ewig fremd bleiben. Dies Letztere ist unstreitig das Wichtigste, und zugleich in diesem System das Einfachste. Dieser Grundsatz ist ganz und gar aus der Anwendung des oben, in Absicht aller Reformen, aufgestellten S.
So ist es also das Princip der Nothwendigkeit, zu welchem alle, in diesem ganzen Aufsatz vorgetragene Ideen, wie zu ihrem letzten Ziele, hinstreben. Unter das Joch der Nothwendigkeit hingegen beugt jeder willig den Nacken. Wo nun schon einmal eine verwickelte Lage [ : ] vorhanden ist, da ist die Einsicht selbst des Nothwendigen schwierieger; aber gerade mit der Befolgung dieses Princips wird die Lage immer einfacher und diese Einsicht immer leichter.
Ich bin jetzt das Feld durchlaufen, das ich mir, bei dem Anfange dieses Aufsatzes, absteckte. Humboldt I. Juni Werke I. Mai , Auleben September , 7. Wieder abgedruckt in den Werken. Erinnerungen II, u. Von grosser Erheblichkeit sind sie nirgends. Es sind durchweg lediglich stylistische Abweichungen. Immerhin bliebe es interessant zu wissen, woher die Abweichungen der Abschrift stammen, aus der der Berliner Druck hervorgegangen ist.
Februar Jam corporis cruciatus, omnium rerum inopia, fames, infamia, quaeque alia evenire iusto fratres dixerunt, animi illam e iustitia manantem voluptatem dubio procul longe superant, essetque adeo iniustitia iustitiae antehabenda et in virtutum numero collocanda. Tiedemann in argumentis dialogorum Platonis. Riga ], und in der Kritik der praktischen Vernunft. Neues deutsches Museum, Junius, 22, 3. Mirabeau s. Sallustius in Catilina. Hesiodus in Theogonia. Basel Of rude nations prior to the establishment of property.
Prometheus II. Berlin Berlin p. Dalberg vom Bilden und Erfinden. Aber ich sprach auch hier nicht von dem Fall, wenn z. Collection complette des travaux de Mr. Written in , in his early manhood, and at a time when the ideas which it unfolds were in striking contrast to the events and opinions of the day, the book was long obnoxious to the scruples of the German Censorship; and his friend Schiller, who took much interest in its publication, had some difficulty in finding a publisher willing to incur the necessary responsibility.
But we cannot but feel grateful to his distinguished brother, for giving publicity to a treatise which has such strong claims to attention, whether we regard the eminence of its Author as a philosopher and a statesman, the intrinsic value of its contents, or their peculiar interest at a time when the Sphere of Government seems more than ever to require careful definition. To Englishmen, [v] least of all, is it likely to prove unattractive or uninstructive, since it endeavours to show the theoretical ideal of a policy to which their institutions have made a gradual and instinctive approximation; and contributes important ideas towards the solution of questions which now lie so near to the heart and conscience of the English public.
With respect to the translation, I have aimed at scrupulous fidelity; believing that, even where there may be some obscurity as in one or two of the earlier chapters , the intelligent reader would prefer the ipsissima verba of so great a man, to any arbitrary construction put upon them by his translator. Eugen Oswald: those who are best acquainted with the peculiarities of thought and style which characterize the writer, will be best able to appreciate the importance of such assistance.
To discover the legitimate objects to which the energies of State organizations should be directed, and define the limits within which those energies should be exercised, is the design of the following pages. That the solution of this prime question of political philosophy must be pregnant with interest and high practical importance is sufficiently evident; and if we compare the most remarkable political constitutions with each other, and with the opinions of the most eminent philosophers, we shall, with reason, be surprised to find it so insufficiently discussed and vaguely answered; and agree, that any attempt to prosecute the inquiry with more success, is far from being a vain and superfluous labour.
Those who have either themselves remodelled the framework of State constitutions, or proposed schemes of political reform, seem mostly to have studied how to apportion the respective provinces which the nation, and any of its separate elements, should justly share in the administration,—to assign the due functions of each in the governmental plan,—and to adopt the precautions necessary for preserving the integrity of the several interests at stake.
But in every  attempt to frame or reorganize a political constitution, there are two grand objects, it seems to me, to be distinctly kept in view, neither of which can be overlooked or made subordinate without serious injury to the common design; these are—first, to determine, as regards the nation in question, who shall govern, who shall be governed, and to arrange the actual working of the constituted power; and secondly, to prescribe the exact sphere to which the government, once constructed, should extend or confine its operations.
The latter object, which more immediately embraces the private life of the citizen, and more especially determines the limits of his free, spontaneous activity, is, strictly speaking, the true ultimate purpose; the former is only a necessary means for arriving at this important end. And yet, however strange it may appear, it is to the attainment of the first of these ends that man directs his most earnest attention; and, as it becomes us to show, this exclusive pursuit of one definite purpose only coincides with the usual manifestation of human activity.
It is in the prosecution of some single object, and in striving to reach its accomplishment by the combined application of his moral and physical energies, that the true happiness of man, in his full vigour and development, consists. Possession, it is true, crowns exertion with repose; but it is only in the illusions of fancy that it has power to charm our eyes. If we consider the position of man in the universe,—if we remember the constant tendency of his energies towards some definite activity, and recognize the influence of surrounding nature, which is ever provoking him to exertion, we shall be ready to acknowledge that repose and possession do not indeed exist but in imagination.
Now the partial or one-sided man finds repose in the discontinuance of one line of action; and in him whose powers are wholly undeveloped, one single object only serves to elicit a few manifestations of energy.
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It would appear then, from these general characteristics of human nature, that to the conqueror his triumph affords a more exquisite sense of enjoyment than the actual occupation of the territory he has won, and that the perilous commotion of reformation itself is dearer to the reformer than the calm enjoyment of the fruits which crown its successful issue. And thus it is true, in general, that the exercise of dominion has something in it more immediately agreeable to human nature than the mere reposeful sense of freedom; or, at least, that the solicitude to secure freedom is a dearer satisfaction than that which is afforded by its actual possession.
Freedom is but the possibility of a various and indefinite activity; while government, or the exercise of dominion, is a single, but yet real activity. The ardent desire for freedom, therefore, is at first only too frequently suggested by the deep-felt consciousness of its absence. But whatever the natural course of political development may be, and whatever the relation between the desire for freedom and the excessive tendency to governmental activity, it is still evident that the inquiry into the proper aims and limits of State agency must be of the highest importance—nay, that it is perhaps more vitally momentous than any other political question.
That such an investigation comprises the ultimate object of all political science, has been already pointed out; but it is a truth that admits also of extensive practical application. Real State revolutions,  or fresh organizations of the governing power, are always attended in their progress with many concurrent and fortuitous circumstances, and necessarily entail more or less injury to different interests; whereas a sovereign power that is actually existing—whether it be democratic, aristocratic, or monarchical—can extend or restrict its sphere of action in silence and secresy, and, in general, attains its ends more surely, in proportion as it avoids startling innovations.
Those processes of human agency advance most happily to their consummation, which most faithfully resemble the operations of the natural world. The tiny seed, for example, which drops into the awaiting soil, unseen and unheeded, brings forth a far richer and more genial blessing in its growth and germination than the violent eruption of a volcano, which, however necessary, is always attended with destruction; and, if we justly pride ourselves on our superior culture and enlightenment, there is no other system of reform so happily adapted, by its spirit of calm and consistent progression, to the capacities and requirements of our own times.
It may easily be foreseen, therefore, that the important inquiry into the due limits of State agency must conduct us to an ampler range of freedom for human forces, and a richer diversity of circumstances and situations. Now the possibility of any higher degree of freedom presupposes a proportionate advancement in civilization,—a decreasing necessity of acting in large, compacted masses,—a richer variety of resources in the individual agents. If, then, the present age in reality possesses this increased culture and this power and diversity of resources, the freedom of which these are the precious conditions should unquestionably be accorded it.
And so its methods of reform would be happily correspondent with a progressive civilization—if we do not err in supposing this to be its favourable characteristic. Generally  speaking, it is the drawn sword of the nation which checks and overawes the physical strength of its rulers; but in our case, culture and enlightenment serve no less effectually to sway their thoughts and subdue their will, so that the actual concessions of reform seem rather ascribable to them than to the nation.
If even to behold a people breaking their fetters asunder, in the full consciousness of their rights as men and citizens, is a beautiful and ennobling spectacle: it must be still more fair, and full of uplifting hope, to witness a prince himself unloosing the bonds of thraldom and granting freedom to his people,—nor this as the mere bounty of his gracious condescension, but as the discharge of his first and most indispensable duty; for it is nobler to see an object effected through a reverent regard for law and order, than conceded to the imperious demands of absolute necessity; and the more so, when we consider that the freedom which a nation strives to attain through the overthrow of existing institutions, is but as hope to enjoyment, as preparation to perfection, when compared with that which a State, once constituted, can bestow.
If we cast a glance at the history of political organizations, we shall find it difficult to decide, in the case of any one of them, the exact limits to which its activity was conformed, because we discover in none the systematic working out of any deliberate scheme, grounded on a certain basis of principle. We shall observe, that the freedom of the citizen has been limited from two points of view; that is, either from the necessity of organizing or securing the constitution, or from the expediency of providing for the moral and physical condition of the nation.
These considerations have prevailed alternately, according as the constitution, in itself powerful, has required additional support, or as the views of the legislators have been more or less expanded. Often indeed both of these causes may be found operating conjointly. Possessed, as it was, of but little absolute authority, the constitution was mainly dependent for its duration on the will of the nation, and hence it was necessary to discover or propose means by which due harmony might be preserved between the character of established institutions and this tendency of national feeling. The same policy is still observable in small republican States; and if we were to regard it in the light of these circumstances alone, we might accept it as true, that the freedom of private life always increases in exact proportion as public freedom declines; whereas security always keeps pace with the latter.
Now if we compare the example of the most modern States, with regard to this tendency, we shall find the design of acting for the individual citizen, and of providing for his welfare, to be clear and unmistakable from the number of laws and institutions directed to this end, and which often give a very determinate form to private life. The superior internal consistency of our constitutions,—their greater independence of national character and feeling,—the deeper influence of mere thinkers, who are naturally disposed to more expanded views,—the multitude of inventions which teach us to follow out and improve the common objects of national activity; and lastly, and before all, certain ideas of religion which represent the governing power as responsible, to a certain extent, for the moral and future welfare of the  citizens, have all contributed to introduce this change and develope this positive solicitude.
But if we examine into the origin of particular institutions and police-laws, we find that they frequently originate in the real or pretended necessity of imposing taxes on the subject, and in this we may trace the example, it is true, to the political characteristics of the ancient States, inasmuch as such institutions grow out of the same desire of securing the constitution which we noticed in them. With respect to those limitations of freedom, however, which do not so much affect the State as the individuals who compose it, we are led to notice a vast difference between ancient and modern governments.
The ancients devoted their attention more exclusively to the harmonious development of the individual man, as man; the moderns are chiefly solicitous about his comfort, his prosperity, his productiveness. The former looked to virtue; the latter seek for happiness. And hence it follows, that the restrictions imposed on freedom in the ancient States were, in some important respects, more oppressive and dangerous than those which characterize our times.
For they directly attacked that inner life of the soul, in which the individuality of human being essentially consists; and hence all the ancient nations betray a character of uniformity, which is not so much to be attributed to their want of higher refinement and more limited intercommunication, as to the systematic education of their youth in common almost universal among them , and the designedly collective life of the citizens. But, in another point of view, it will be allowed that these ancient institutions contributed especially to preserve and elevate the vigorous activity of the individual man.
The very desire which still animated all their political efforts, to train up temperate and nobleminded citizens, imparted a higher impulse to their whole spirit and character. With us, it is true, man is individually less restricted; but the influence of surrounding circumstances  only the more operates to produce and continue a limiting agency,—a position, however, which does not preclude the possibility of beginning a conflict against these external hindrances, with our own internal antagonistic strength.
And yet the peculiar nature of the limitations imposed on freedom in our States; the fact that they regard rather what man possesses than what he really is, and that with respect to the latter they do not cultivate, even to uniformity, the physical, intellectual, and moral faculties; and lastly and especially, the prevalence of certain determining ideas, more binding than laws, suppress those energies which are the source of every active virtue, and the indispensable condition of any higher and more various culture.
With the ancients, moreover, the increase of force served to compensate for their uniformity; but with the moderns uniformity is aggravated by the evil of diminished energy. This difference between the States of antiquity and those of our own times, is in general thoroughly evident. Whilst in these later centuries, the rapid strides of progress, the number and dissemination of artistic inventions, and the enduring grandeur of establishments, especially attract our attention; antiquity captivates us above all by that inherent greatness which is comprised in the life of the individual, and perishes along with him,—the bloom of fancy, the depth of thought, the strength of will, the perfect oneness of the entire being, which alone confer true worth on human nature.
Their strong consciousness of this essential worth of human nature, of its powers and their consistent development, was to them the quick impulse to every manifestation of activity; but these seem to us but as abstractions, in which the sense of the individual is lost, or at least in which his inner life is not so much regarded as his ease, his material comfort, his happiness. It has been from time to time disputed by publicists,  whether the State should provide for the security only, or for the whole physical and moral well-being of the nation. The vigilant solicitude for the freedom of private life has in general led to the former proposition; while the idea that the State can bestow something more than mere security, and that the injurious limitation of liberty, although a possible, is not an essential, consequence of such a policy, has disposed many to the latter opinion.
And this belief has undoubtedly prevailed, not only in political theory, but in actual practice. Ample evidence of this is to be found in most of the systems of political jurisprudence, in the more recent philosophical codes, and in the history of Constitutions generally. The introduction of these principles has given a new form to the study of politics as is shown for instance by so many recent financial and legislative theories , and has produced many new departments of administration, as boards of trade, finance, and national economy.
But, however generally these principles may be accepted, they still appear to me to require a more radical investigation; and this can only proceed from a view of human nature in the abstract, and of the highest ends of human existence. The true end of Man, or that which is prescribed by the eternal and immutable dictates of reason, and not suggested by vague and transient desires, is the highest and most harmonious development of his powers to a complete and consistent whole.
Freedom is the grand and indispensable condition which the possibility of such a development presupposes; but there is besides another essential,—intimately connected with freedom, it is true,—a variety of situations. Even the most free and self-reliant of men is thwarted and hindered in his development by uniformity of position. But as it is evident, on the one hand, that such a diversity is a constant result of freedom, and on the other, that there is a species of oppression which, without imposing restrictions on man himself, gives a peculiar impress of its own to surrounding circumstances; these two conditions, of freedom and variety of situation, may be regarded, in a certain sense, as one and the same.
Still, it may contribute to perspicuity to point out the distinction between them. Every human being, then, can act with but one force at the same time: or rather, our whole nature disposes us at any given time to some single form of spontaneous activity. It would therefore seem to follow from this, that man is inevitably destined to a partial cultivation, since he only enfeebles his energies by directing them to a multiplicity of objects.
But we see the fallacy of such a conclusion when we reflect, that man has it in his power to avoid this one-sideness,  by striving to unite the separate faculties of his nature, often singly exercised; by bringing into spontaneous co-operation, at each period of his life, the gleams of activity about to expire, and those which the future alone will kindle into living effulgence; and endeavouring to increase and diversify the powers with which he works, by harmoniously combining them, instead of looking for a mere variety of objects for their separate exercise.
That which is effected, in the case of the individual, by the union of the past and future with the present, is produced in society by the mutual co-operation of its different single members; for, in all the stages of his existence, each individual can exhibit but one of those perfections only, which represent the possible features of human character.
It is through such social union, therefore, as is based on the internal wants and capacities of its members, that each is enabled to participate in the rich collective resources of all the others. The experience of all, even the rudest, nations, furnishes us an example of a union thus formative of individual character, in the union of the sexes.
And, although in this case the expression, as well of the difference as of the longing for union, appears more marked and striking, it is still no less active in other kinds of association where there is actually no difference of sex; it is only more difficult to discover in these, and may perhaps be more powerful for that very reason. If we were to follow out this idea, it might perhaps conduct us to a clearer insight into the phenomena of those unions so much in vogue among the ancients, and more especially the Greeks, among whom we find them countenanced even by the legislators themselves: I mean those so frequently, but unworthily, classed under the general appellation of ordinary love, and sometimes, but always erroneously, designated as mere friendship.
The efficiency of all such unions as instruments of cultivation,  wholly depends on the degree in which the component members can succeed in combining their personal independence with the intimacy of the common bond; for whilst, without this intimacy, one individual cannot sufficiently possess himself, as it were, of the nature of the others, independence is no less essential, in order that the perceived be assimilated into the being of the perceiver.
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This individual vigour, then, and manifold diversity, combine themselves in originality; and hence, that on which the consummate grandeur of our nature ultimately depends,—that towards which every human being must ceaselessly direct his efforts, and on which especially those who design to influence their fellow men must ever keep their eyes, is the Individuality of Power and Development. Just as this individuality springs naturally from the perfect freedom of action, and the greatest diversity in the agents, it tends immediately to produce them in turn.
Even inanimate nature, which, proceeding in accordance with unchangeable laws, advances by regular grades of progression, appears more individual to the man who has been developed in his individuality. He transports himself, as it were, into the very centre of nature; and it is true, in the highest sense, that each still perceives the beauty and rich abundance of the outer world, in the exact measure in which he is conscious of their existence in his own soul. How much sweeter and  closer must this correspondence become between effect and cause,—this reaction between internal feeling and outward perception,—when man is not only passively open to external sensations and impressions, but is himself also an agent!
If we attempt to confirm these principles by a closer application of them to the nature of the individual man, we find that everything which enters into the latter, reduces itself to the two elements of Form and Substance. The purest form, beneath the most delicate veil, we call Idea; the crudest substance, with the most imperfect form, we call sensuous Perception. Form springs from the union of substance. The richer and more various the substance that is united, the more sublime is the resulting form.
A child of the gods is the offspring only of immortal parents: and as the blossom swells and ripens into fruit, and from the tiny germ imbedded in its soft pulp the new stalk shoots forth, laden with newly-clustering buds; so does the Form become in turn the substance of a still more exquisite Form. The intensity of power, moreover, increases in proportion to the greater variety and delicacy of the substance; since the internal cohesion increases with these.
The substance seems as if blended in the form, and the form merged in the substance. But the force of the generation depends upon the energy of the generating forces. In the vegetable world, the  simple and less graceful form of the fruit seems to prefigure the more perfect bloom and symmetry of the flower which it precedes, and which it is destined gradually to unfold. Everything conspires to the beautiful consummation of the blossom.
That which first shoots forth from the little germ is not nearly so exquisite and fascinating. But destiny has not blessed the tribe of plants in this the law and process of their growth. The flower fades and dies, and the germ of the fruit reproduces the stem, as rude and unfinished as the former, to ascend slowly through the same stages of development as before.
But when, in man, the blossom fades away, it is only to give place to another still more exquisitely beautiful; and the charm of the last and loveliest is only hidden from our view in the endlessly receding vistas of an inscrutable eternity. Now, whatever man receives externally, is only as the grain of seed. It is his own active energy alone that can convert the germ of the fairest growth, into a full and precious blessing for himself. It leads to beneficial issues only when it is full of vital power and essentially individual.
The highest ideal, therefore, of the co-existence of human beings, seems to me to consist in a union in which each strives to develope himself from his own inmost nature, and for his own sake. The requirements of our physical and moral being would, doubtless, bring men together into communities; and even as the conflicts of warfare are more honourable  than the fights of the arena, and the struggles of exasperated citizens more glorious than the hired and unsympathizing efforts of mere mercenaries, so would the exerted powers of such spontaneous agents succeed in eliciting the highest and noblest energies.
And is it not exactly this which so unspeakably captivates us in contemplating the life of Greece and Rome, and which in general captivates any age whatever in the contemplation of a remoter one? Is it not that these men had harder struggles to endure with the ruthless force of destiny, and harder struggles with their fellow men?
Every later epoch,—and in what a rapid course of declension must this now proceed! It is in this we find one of the chief causes which render the idea of the new, the uncommon, the marvellous, so much more rare,—which make affright or astonishment almost a disgrace,—and not only render the discovery of fresh and, till now, unknown expedients, far less necessary, but also all sudden, unpremeditated and urgent decisions. For, partly, the pressure of outward circumstances is less violent, while man is provided with more ample means for opposing them; partly, this resistance is no longer possible with the simple forces which nature bestows on all alike, fit for immediate application; and, in fine, partly a higher and more extended knowledge renders inventions less necessary, and the very increase of learning serves to blunt the edge of discovery.
It is, on the  other hand, undeniable that, whereas physical variety has so vastly declined, it has been succeeded by an infinitely richer and more satisfying intellectual and moral variety, and that our superior refinement can recognize more delicate differences and gradations, and our disciplined and susceptible character, if not so firmly consolidated as that of the ancients, can transfer them into the practical conduct of life,—differences and gradations which might have wholly escaped the notice of the sages of antiquity, or at least would have been discernible by them alone.
To the human family at large, the same has happened as to the individual: the ruder features have faded away, the finer only have remained. And in view of this sacrifice of energy from generation to generation, we might regard it as a blessed dispensation if the whole human species were as one man; or the living force of one age could be transmitted to the succeeding one, along with its books and inventions.
But this is far from being the case.
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It is true that our refinement possesses a peculiar force of its own, perhaps even surpassing the former in strength, just in proportion to the measure of its refinement; but it is a question whether the prior development, through the more robust and vigorous stages, must not always be the antecedent transition. Still, it is certain that the sensuous element in our nature, as it is the earliest germ, is also the most vivid expression of the spiritual. Whilst this is not the place, however, to enter on the discussion of this point, we are justified in concluding, from the other considerations we have urged, that we must at least preserve, with the most eager solicitude, all the force and individuality we may yet possess, and cherish aught that can tend in any way to promote them.
I therefore deduce, as the natural inference from what has been argued, that reason cannot desire for man any other  condition than that in which each individual not only enjoys the most absolute freedom of developing himself by his own energies, in his perfect individuality, but in which external nature even is left unfashioned by any human agency, but only receives the impress given to it by each individual of himself and his own free will, according to the measure of his wants and instincts, and restricted only by the limits of his powers and his rights.
From this principle it seems to me, that Reason must never yield aught save what is absolutely required to preserve it. It must therefore be the basis of every political system, and must especially constitute the starting-point of the inquiry which at present claims our attention. Keeping in view the conclusions arrived at in the last chapter, we might embody in a general formula our idea of State agency when restricted to its just limits, and define its objects as all that a government could accomplish for the common weal, without departing from the principle just established; while, from this position, we could proceed to derive the still stricter limitation, that any State interference in private affairs, not directly implying violence done to individual rights, should be absolutely condemned.
If it restricts its solicitude to the second of these objects, it aims merely at security; and I would here oppose this term security to every other possible end of State agency, and comprise these last under the general head of Positive Welfare. Further, the various means adopted by a State, as subservient to its purposes, affect in very different measure the extension of its activity. It will be evident, that it is single actions only that come under political supervision in the first of these cases; that this is extended in the second to the general conduct of life; and that, in the last instance we have supposed, it is the very character of the citizen, his views, and modes of thought, which are brought under the influence of State control.
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The actual working of this restrictive agency, moreover, is clearly least considerable in the first of these cases, more so in the second, and is most effective and apparent in the last; either because, in this, it reaches the most copious sources of action, or that the very possibility of such an influence presupposes a greater multiplicity of institutions. But however seemingly different the departments of political action to which they respectively belong, we shall scarcely find any one institution which is not more or less intimately interwoven, in its objects or its consequences, with several of these.
We have but to notice, by way of illustration, the close interdependence that exists between the promotion of welfare and the maintenance of security; and further, to remember that when any influence affecting single actions only, engenders a habit through the force of repetition, it comes ultimately to modify the character itself. Hence, in view of this interdependence of political institutions, it becomes very difficult to discover a systematic division of the whole subject before us, sufficiently correspondent to the course of our present inquiry.
But, in any case, it will be most immediately conducive to our design, to examine in the outset whether the State  should extend its solicitude to the positive welfare of the nation, or content itself with provisions for its security; and, confining our view of institutions to what is strictly essential either in their objects or consequences, to ascertain next, as regards both of these aims, the nature of the means that may be safely left open to the State for accomplishing them.
I am speaking here, then, of the entire efforts of the State to elevate the positive welfare of the nation; of its solicitude for the population of the country, and the subsistence of its inhabitants, whether manifested directly in such institutions as poor-laws, or indirectly, in the encouragement of agriculture, industry, and commerce; of all regulations relative to finance and currency, imports and exports, etc. For the moral welfare is not in general regarded so much for its own sake, as with reference to its bearing on security, and will therefore be more appropriately introduced in the subsequent course of the inquiry.
Now all such institutions, I maintain, are positively hurtful in their consequences, and wholly irreconcilable with a true system of polity; a system which, although conceivable only from the loftiest points of view, is yet in no way inconsistent with the limits and capacities of human nature. A spirit of governing predominates in every institution of this kind; and however wise and salutary such a spirit may be, it invariably superinduces national uniformity, and a constrained and unnatural manner of action.
Instead of men grouping themselves into communities in order to discipline and develope their powers, even though,  to secure these benefits, they should forego a portion of their exclusive possessions and enjoyments; it is only by the actual sacrifice of those powers that they can purchase in this case the privileges resulting from association.
The very variety arising from the union of numbers of individuals is the highest good which social life can confer, and this variety is undoubtedly merged into uniformity in proportion to the measure of State interference. Under such a system, it is not so much the individual members of a nation living united in the bonds of a civil compact; but isolated subjects living in a relation to the State, or rather to the spirit which prevails in its government,—a relation in which the undue preponderance of the State element tends already to fetter the free play of individual energies.
Like causes produce like effects; and hence, in proportion as State co-operation increases in extent and efficiency, a common resemblance diffuses itself, not only through all the agents to which it is applied, but through all the results of their activity. And this is the very design which States have in view. They desire nothing so much as comfort, ease, tranquillity; and these are most readily secured when there is little or no discordancy among that which is individual.
It is to these alone we are to look for the free development of character in all its vigorous and multiform diversity of phase and manifestation; and, to appeal to the inner motive of the individual man, there can be no one, surely, so far sunk and degraded, as to prefer, for himself personally, comfort and enjoyment to greatness; and he who draws conclusions for such a preference in the case of others, may justly be suspected of misconceiving the essential nobleness of human nature, and of  agreeing to transform his fellow-creatures into mere machines.
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