Reading progress update: I've read 7%.

Ideen zu einem Versuch, die Grenzen der Wirksamkeit des Staats zu bestimmen - Wilhelm von Humboldt

"Nun aber erfordert die Möglichkeit eines höheren Grades der Freiheit immer einen gleich hohen Grad der Bildung, und das geringere Bedürfnis, gleichsam in einförmigen, verbundenen Massen zu handeln, eine größere Stärke und einen mannigfaltigeren Reichtum der handlenden Individuen."

 

Roughly, this translates as:

 

"Now, the possibility of a higher degree of freedom always requires an equally high degree of education, and the lesser need to act, as it were, in monotonous, united masses, [requires] a greater strength and a more manifold wealth [i.e. diversity] of acting individuals."

 

The [ ] are my own clarifications and are based on my reading/interpretation of Humboldt's text.

 

This section goes on to say that it should be the aspiration of a ruler of a state to break the shackles of its own people and facilitate that greater degree of freedom. 

 

This was written at around 1792 - and hence the reference to "rulers" rather than governments - but not published until much later because it did not pass the censors (the book was/is pretty radical).

 

It is kind of painful to read this at a time of what seems to be a period of political regression on the idea that a government has to place value on the education of its people.

 

I'm intrigued where Humboldt takes his argument and where he saw the "limits of state action" as the title denotes.