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The Idea of Europe

Catriona Seth
Rotraud von Kulessa

61. The Union of Philosophers

Texte intégral

1The ideal of a cross-frontier union, thanks to communications between scientists, but also, more widely, between well disposed individuals, is set out by Germaine de Staël at the end of the third part of her major treatise Germany (1813).

2After all, there yet remains something truly beautiful and moral, which ignorance and emptiness cannot enjoy: this is the union of all thinking men, from one end of Europe to the other. Often they have no mutual relations; often they are dispersed to a great distance from each other; but when they meet, a word is enough for recognition. It is not this religion, or that opinion, or such a sort of study; it is the veneration of truth that forms their bond of union. Sometimes, like miners, they dig into the foundations of the earth, to penetrate the mysteries of the world of darkness in the bosom of eternal night; sometimes they mount to the summit of Chimborazo, to discover, at the loftiest point of the globe, some hitherto unknown phenomena; sometimes they study the languages of the East, to find in them the primitive history of man; sometimes they journey to Jerusalem, to call forth from the holy ruins a spark, which reanimates religion and poetry; in a word, they truly are the people of God; they who do not yet despair of the human race, and wish to preserve to man the dominion of reflection.

3Germaine de Staël, Germany (1813).

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