The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 07 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 600 pages of information about The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 07.

In the State one must want nothing which is not an expression of rationality.  The State is the world which the spirit has made for itself; it has therefore a determinate and self-conscious course.  One often speaks of the wisdom of God in nature, but one must not believe that the physical world of nature is higher than the world of spirit.  Just as spirit is superior to nature, so is the State superior to the physical life.  We must therefore adore the State as the manifestation of the divine on earth, and consider that, if it is difficult to comprehend nature, it is infinitely harder to grasp the essence of the State.  It is an important fact that we, in modern times, have attained definite insight into the State in general and are much engaged in discussing and making constitutions; but that does not advance the problem much.  It is necessary to treat a rational matter in the light of reason, in order to learn its essential nature and to know that the obvious does not always constitute the essential.

When we speak of the different functions of the powers of the State, we must not fall into the enormous error of supposing each power to have an abstract, independent existence, since the powers are rather to be differentiated as elements in the conception of the State.  Were the powers to be in abstract independence, however, it is clear that two independent things could never constitute a unity, but must produce war, and the result would be destruction of the whole or restoration of unity by force.  Thus, in the French Revolution, at one time the legislative power had swallowed up the executive, at another time the executive had usurped the legislative power.


The constitution is rational, in so far as the State defines and differentiates its functions according to the nature of its concept.

Who shall make the constitution?  This question seems intelligible, yet on closer examination reveals itself as meaningless, for it presupposes the existence of no constitution, but only a mere mass of atomic individuals.  How a mass of individuals is to come by a constitution, whether by its own efforts or by those of others, whether by goodness, thought, or force, it must decide for itself, for with a disorganized mob the concept of the State has nothing to do.  But if the question does presuppose an already existing constitution, then to make a constitution means only to change it.  The presupposition of a constitution implies, however, at once, that any modification in it must take place constitutionally.  It is absolutely essential that the constitution, though having a temporal origin, should not be regarded as made.  It (the principle of constitution) is rather to be conceived as absolutely perpetual and rational, and therefore as divine, substantial, and above and beyond the sphere of what is made.

Project Gutenberg
The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 07 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook