The Mind of Germany: The Education of a Nation

The Mind of Germany: The Education of a Nation

The Mind of Germany: The Education of a Nation

The Mind of Germany: The Education of a Nation

Excerpt

German intellectual and political history in modern times presents a fascinating spectacle. A great and numerous people living in the center of Europe has enriched the intellectual heritage of mankind with contributions equal, in several fields, to the greatest achievements in the history of civilization. At the same time they have developed attitudes which separated them from the main trends characteristic of modern western civilization. A short book cannot do justice to the many facets of German history and cultural life. The present work wishes to provide a tentative reply to the one question on which much of the fascination of German history rests: how the alienation of Germany from the West came about.

A study in the history of ideas encounters that "most serious difficulty" which Jacob Burckhardt pointed out. "A great intellectual process," or rather a most complex interplay of several and often contradictory intellectual and social processes, "must be broken up into single, and often into what seems arbitrary (categories or divisions) in order to be in any way intelligible."

The writing of history is always selective. The accents and stresses are determined by the experiences of our generation and by our own value judgments. To re-think history is the task of every generation which has witnessed great historical changes. An effort to try to understand anew what has happened is the duty not only of the Germans but of all of us, not only with regard to German history but to all recent history. For the political and moral problems involved in modern German history are not only those of the Ger-

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