So I live and so I am; and so I am unchangeable, firm and complete for all eternity. For this being is not one which I have received from without; it is my own only true being and essence.
ADDRESSES TO THE GERMAN NATION
(1807 to 1808)
TRANSLATED BY LOUIS H. GRAY, PH.D.
The Definition of a Nation in the Higher Sense of the Word, and of Patriotism
The last four addresses have answered the question, What is the German as contrasted with other nations of Teutonic origin? The argument will be complete if we further add the examination of the question, What is a nation? The latter question is identical with another, and, at the same time, the other question, which has often been propounded and has been answered in very different ways, helps in the solution. This question is, What is patriotism, or, as it would be more correctly expressed, What is the love of the individual for his nation?
If we have thus far proceeded aright in the course of our investigation, it must become obvious therefrom that only the German—the primitive man, not he who has become petrified by arbitrary laws and institutions—really has a nation and is entitled to count on one, and that only he is capable of real and rational love for his nation.
We smooth our way to a solution of our proposed task by means of the following remark, which appears, at first sight, to lie outside the context of our previous discussion.
As we have already observed in our third address, religion is able absolutely to transport us above all time and above the whole of present and perceptual life without doing the least injury to the justice, morality, and holiness of the life influenced by this belief. Even with the certain conviction that all our activity on this earth will not leave the least trace behind it and will not produce the slightest results, and even with the belief that the divine may actually be perverse and may be used as a tool of evil and of still deeper moral corruption, it is, nevertheless, possible to continue in this activity simply in order to maintain the divine life that has come forth within us and that stands in relation to a higher governance of things in a future world where nothing perishes that has been done in God. Thus, for instance, the apostles and the first Christians generally, even while living, were wholly transported above the earth because of their belief in heaven; and affairs terrestrial—state, fatherland, and nation—were so entirely renounced that they no longer deemed such trivial concerns worthy even of their consideration. However possible this may be, however easy, moreover, for faith, and however joyfully we may resign ourselves to the conviction, since it is unalterably the will of God, that we have no more an earthly country but