« the real individuals of our time | Main | the philosopher’s task »

June 25, 2011

religion's manifestation in life

How and in what way does religion generally manifest itself in life?

In everyday life, and in a well-ordered society, there is no immediate need at all for religion to mould life; true morality is perfectly sufficient for this purpose. In this regard, therefore, religion is not practical, nor can and should it become practical, but is knowledge pure and simple: it renders man perfectly clear and intelligible to himself, provides an answer to the highest question he can pose, resolves the final contradiction, thus bringing perfect self-unity and clarity to his understanding. It represents his complete deliverance and liberation from all external bonds; and thus it owes him education as something that is his due simply and without ulterior purpose. Religion only acquires a domain where it can operate as an impulse either in a highly immoral and corrupt society or when man’s sphere of activity lies not within but beyond the social order and he has constantly to create and preserve this order anew – as with the regent, who often could not discharge his office in good con- science without religion. The latter case is not at issue in an education adapted to all and to the entire nation. As for the former case: if, despite a clear recognition of the incorrigibility of the age, work to improve it nevertheless continues unabated; if the sweat and toil of the sowing of the land is unflinchingly endured even with little prospect of a harvest; if even the ingrate is rewarded and those who curse are blessed with charity and goods in the clear foreknowledge that they will curse again; if after a hundredfold failures one still perseveres with faith and love: then it is not mere morality that impels one here, for morality demands a purpose. It is religion, the submission to a higher law unknown to us, the awestruck silence before God, the fervent love for His life that has broken forth in ours, the life that alone shall be saved for its own sake, where the eye sees nothing left to save.

In this way, the religious insight achieved by the pupils of the new education in the little commonwealth in which they initially grow up cannot become practical knowledge; nor should it even. This commonwealth is well ordered, and whatever is deftly undertaken there always meets with success. Also, in these still tender years man should be maintained in his innocence and serene faith in humanity. Let knowledge of its perfidy be postponed until he is ready to experience it firsthand at a mellowed and more settled age.

Only at this riper age, therefore, when life is lived in earnest, and after education has long since left him to his own resources, may the pupil, if his social relations are to advance from simplicity to a higher level, have need of his religious knowledge as a motive.

Fichte - Addresses to the German Nation

Posted by amin at June 25, 2011 8:45 AM