Goethe and Nietzsche on Instruction

Moreover I hate everything that merely instructs me without increasing or directly quickening my activity.
— Goethe

Nietzsche prefaces his “untimely meditation” on “the use and abuse of history for life” with this quote. He thought it could stand in as a ceterum censo — a call for total warfare — in his mind against something like what he conceived as history, or research, without purpose and correct action. “We need it for life and action, not as a convenient way to avoid life and action.” It’s a tough ideal I’ve been thinking about and one I’ll be thinking about more now that I’ve seen it expressed so well.

Leave a Reply