Burckhardt on the Duty of Citizens | Harper's Magazine

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Burckhardt on the Duty of Citizens

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Es gibt aber neben den blinden Lobpreisen der Heimat eine ganz andere und schwere Pflicht, nämlich sich auszubilden zum erkennenden Menschen, dem die Wahrheit und die Verwandtschaft mit allem Geistigen über alles geht und der aus dieser Erkenntnis auch seine Bürgerpflicht würde ermitteln können, wenn sie ihm nicht schon mit seinem Temperament eingeboren ist. Vollends im Reiche des Gedankens gehen alle Schlagbäume billig in die Höhe.

We will blindly sing the praise of our home country, but another and more burdensome duty weighs upon each of us, namely to raise ourselves up and educate ourselves as comprehending human beings for whom truth and the bonds of the world of the spirit are transcendent, and further to ascertain from that knowledge our true duty as citizens, if we were not born with an instinctive sense of that duty already. In the realm of thought it is only fitting that all frontier posts be swept away.

Jacob Burckhardt, Weltgeschichtliche Betrachtungen p. 11 (1905)(S.H. transl.)

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