Germany and Its Evolution in Modern Times

Germany and Its Evolution in Modern Times

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Germany and Its Evolution in Modern Times

Germany and Its Evolution in Modern Times

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Excerpt

The great fact which strikes us when we compare the present day with the ages that have preceded it is the enormous growth in human power which took place during the course of the last century. It is possible to have some doubts about the "progress" of humanity, in the sense that it is very far from certain that the man of to-day is happier, wiser, or even in a safer position than he was formerly. On the other hand, it is perfectly clear that the sum- total of human power in the face of nature has increased enormously. The conquest and subjugation of elemental forces by the intelligence of man made a tremendous stride during the nineteenth century. Man no longer regards the Universe in the same way or with the same feelings as he once did. Even his mental outlook has been profoundly modified, and, to use an expression which is continually recurring in the works of German critics, it has developed in the direction of "subjectivity."

The Middle Ages were filled above all with a deep sense of our helplessness in the face of forces far more powerful than ourselves. If we examine the state of mind which prevailed, even towards the beginning of the fifteenth century, we find that the most fundamental difference between ourselves and the men of that period was the fact that they had no conception . . .

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