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Exploring the Interior

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Karl S. Guthke

I. “The great map of mankind unrolled”

4. In the Wake of Captain Cook: Global vs. Humanistic Education in the Age of Goethe1

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Expanding Geographic Horizons and “Who are We?”

  • 1 Undocumented statements are fully referenced in my book Die Erfindung der Welt: Globalität und Gre (...)

1When Georg Forster lay dying in the Rue des Moulins in Paris in 1794, he fantasized about an overland trip to Asia he hoped to take, and just before his eyes failed him, they met a map of India spread out before him on his bed: not a crucifix (as had been customary for centuries), not Plato’s Phaidon (on the immortality of the soul), not an image of the youth with the down-turned torch (as one might have expected of a humanist) – but a map of a faraway land, on that bed in the capital of Europe.

  • 2 Francis Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe (n.p.: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1964), 52.
  • 3 Achim von Arnim und die ihm nahe standen, ed. Reinhold Steig, I: Achim von Arnim und Clemens Brenta (...)

2Eminently fitting, of course, eminently symbolic, this demise: a biographer’s dream come true. For, ever since his teens and early twenties (when he went around the world with Captain Cook), Forster had been fascinated, indeed obsessed with the idea that the time was ripe for a new and truly contemporary concept of education or Bildung as he consistently called it. But what kind of Bildung? Instead of a religious idea or a humanistic idea of what it means to be truly educated, what was called for now, he thought, was what we may describe as global education or global Bildung. The religious concept of Bildung rested on the Christian verities; but that concept was by now in jeopardy, what with Canadian Indians being taught that Jesus was a Frenchman crucified by the British.2 The humanist concept of Bildung, on the other hand, promised the development of the appreciation of secular culture as a result of one’s immersion into European history all the way back to Antiquity, with its art, philosophy and civilization; this concept, too, had seen better days, although in 1808 Achim von Arnim still described its advocacy as crowing classically from the rooftops.3

  • 4 Essai sur l’origine des langues, ed. Charles Porset (Bordeaux, 1970), 89.
  • 5 Discours sur l’origine et les fondements de l’inégalité parmi les hommes, Œuvres complètes, eds. Be (...)
  • 6 “Anthropology and Conjectural History in the Enlightenment,” Inventing Human Science: Eighteenth C (...)

3Persons of global education, on the other hand, had studied the map of the world: they had become familiar with accounts of the populations on the continents beyond Europe and endeavored to form an image, a new image of themselves (or in fact, to use a word that tripped off the tongue more easily then than it does now, of “human nature”). How? By comparing themselves no longer with cattle or angels or Greeks for that matter, but with “them” out there: them and their alternative modes of existence and thought. And they did so, eager to learn from the widened horizon and quite willing to adjust and even doubt their own values and designs for their lives in the light of those of others in faraway lands. “To study human nature you have to look at the distance,” Rousseau had thought in mid-century,4 mentioning China and Paraguay and other places he did not know about – even Florida (just the place to go to study human nature); but unfortunately, “la philosophie ne voyage point.”5 However, after Forster, in the 1770s at the latest, this was no longer true. “Philosophical voyages” with their naturalists and anthropologists aboard were “in” now. As Robert Wokler has noted, “not until the eighteenth century [more exactly the second half of the century] did it come to be accepted that the study of human nature in general, and empirical investigations of savage societies in particular, form precisely the same field.”6 This was true even in small-town, semirural Weimar, where, to be sure, there was the smell of cow manure in the air (as some historians like to point out), but also what Germans call the scent of the big wide world (“Duft der großen weiten Welt”).

  • 7 For Lust of Knowing: The Orientalists and their Enemies (London, 2006).
  • 8 Princeton, NJ, 2003. See also Harry Liebersohn, The Travelers’World (Cambridge, MA, 2006), ch. “Pa (...)
  • 9 Boswell’s Life of Johnson, eds. George Birkbeck Hill and L. F. Powell, II (Oxford, 1934), 247; The (...)
  • 10 René Gonnard, La Légende du bon sauvage (Paris, 1946), 121.
  • 11 Subtitle: India and the Creation of Imperial Britain (Cambridge, MA, 2006).

4Parenthetically, this global anthropological interest shown by the “philosophical travellers” as Forster called them does not need to be suspected categorically as being colonialism in disguise or even colonial fantasy. Robert Irwin recently fired a broadside against this view in his anti-history of oriental studies entitled, provocatively, For Lust of Knowing,7 not to mention Sankar Muthu’s programmatical study Enlightenment against Empire.8 These are recent insights, to be sure. But contemporaries of the “philosophical travellers” saw it that way, too, the anti-Said way, even those among them who did not think much of such “philosophical voyages”: Dr. Johnson, for example, recognized the scientific and philosophical nature of such enterprises even though he thought that not much was coming from them (“only one new animal,” he said: the kangaroo; not: “only one new colony”), and Thoreau wondered whether it was really worthwhile to sail around the world to “count the cats in Zanzibar,” not: to count potential plantation workers.9 But such misgivings are only a footnote to the emerging new concept of Bildung: travel (as the Encyclopédie had it in its article “Voyage”) as “la meilleure école de la vie,” not “de la superiorité européenne.” To be sure, Napoleon’s colonialist remark that the savage was a dog (“le sauvage est un chien”)10 points to an appalling aspect of the growing global awareness of the time: throughout the eighteenth century and the age of Goethe, too, there were indeed the horrors of what Nicholas Dirks called the scandal of Empire, in his book bearing that title.11 But it was also the time of the emergence of global Bildung.

5The colonizing countries, Britain and France, had led the way, of course. The locus classicus is a passage from Edmund Burke’s letter of 9 June 1777 to William Robertson (whose History of America had just been published):

  • 12 The Correspondence of Edmund Burke, ed. Thomas W. Copeland, III, ed. George H. Guttridge (Cambridg (...)

I have always thought that we possess at this time very great advantages towards the knowledge of human Nature. We need no longer go to History to trace it in all its stages and periods. History from its comparative youth, is but a poor instructour. […] But now the Great Map of Mankind is unrolld at once; and there is no state or Gradation of barbarism, and no mode of refinement which we have not at the same instant under our View. The very different Civility of Europe and of China; The barbarism of Persia and Abyssinia. The erratick manners of Tartary, and of Arabia. The Savage State of North America, and of New Zealand.12

  • 13 Subtitle: British Perceptions of the World in the Age of Enlightenment (London, 1982).
  • 14 La Scienza dell’uomo nel settecento (Bari, 1970).

6It is not difficult to show that this global awareness, in what John Parry, in his Trade and Dominion, called “the second age of discovery,” brought about a new, a global concept of what it means to be educated: in Britain as well as in France. (Think of P. J. Marshall and Glyndwr Williams’s book The Great Map of Mankind13 and Sergio Moravia’s study of “La Société des Observateurs de l’Homme.”14)

Echoes in Non-Seafaring Lands

7But what about the German-speaking territories in the age of Goethe – non-colonizing as they were? Was Forster an exception? Surely, those territories could not be blind to the fact that, in 1800, Europe and its colonies made up as much as fifty-five percent of the surface of the earth. Remember Goethe’s Faust on gaining half the world: “Indessen wir die halbe Welt gewonnen,” remarkably accurate, for a work of literature (line 6782). This growing awareness of the non-European world and its exotic populations ushers in, in German-speaking territories as well, a change in the concept of what Bildung should ideally be: a change in the thinking of a people which until then (as Lichtenberg put it) had been unusually unfamiliar with the world (“mit ungewöhnlicher Unbekanntschaft mit der Welt”).15

  • 16 Andrea Albrecht, Kosmopolitismus: Weltbürgerdiskurse in Literatur, Philosophie und Publizistik um (...)
  • 17 See Guthke, 31– 34, quotation: 32.
  • 18 The German Tradition of Self-Cultivation: “Bildung” from Humboldt to Thomas Mann (Cambridge, 1975); (...)

8Needless to say, it must have been an uphill struggle to bring this change about. True, Bildung was a buzz-word in the age of Goethe, but the conventional wisdom is that it normally referred to some kind of well-read urbanity (or even a kind of cosmopolitanism limited to Europe),16 as distinguished from Teutonic pedantry (“Schulfüchsigkeit”), or, more typically, that it referred to that carefully cultivated inwardness that Wilhelm von Humbold had in mind: nothing exotic about it – for Humbold, the only exotic feature of Bildung was the silkworm, and even it, in an egregious case of cruelty to animals, served only as a symbol of the formation of the cultured individual “aus sich selbst.”17 No wonder W. H. Bruford translated humanistic Bildung as “self-cultivation” – with all the well-travelled British reserve about it.18

  • 19 Baltimore, 2003.
  • 20 Eds. Notker Hammerstein and Ulrich Hermann, III (München, 2005), 44– 45.
  • 21 Die “Wilden” und die “Zivilisierten”: Grundzüge einer Geistes-und Kulturgeschichte der europäischen (...)

9That is the conventional wisdom about Bildung in the Age of Goethe. Yet it can be challenged. For in Germany, too, this humanistic concept of education comes to face the challenge of the idea of global education, which emerges at the time in tandem with the upswing of interest in geography and ethnology. Curiously though, Felicity A. Nussbaum’s 2003 book The Global Eighteenth Century (consisting of essays by many authors) does not refer to global education in Germany;19 nor does the eighteenth-century volume of the Handbuch der deutschen Bildungsgeschichte published in 2005 (though, to be fair, the latter does touch on the matter of global education on one page out of almost 600, but even that page is fixated on sugar and tobacco, whose educational value is not immediately apparent).20 So Urs Bitterli, the colonial historian, speaking from a land-locked country, would have been quite right in 1976 when he said that the age of Goethe in Germany suffered from a disease known as continental limitation of outlook (“kontinentale Beschränktheit”)21 – epidemic and presumably incurable. But did it suffer from that disease? Let me explore the matter a bit, and quite untheoretically at that, mindful of Miss Marple, in Murder at the Vicarage, telling the bungling inspector going off on another one of his wild goose chases: “But that’s theory – so different from practice, isn’t it?” So “just the facts,” so to speak, at least for now, and with all due respect for inspectors.

10As early as 1745, volume I of the periodical Der Reisende Deutsche, published in Halle, has a frontispiece that is rather telling. It features a huge globe, with Europe, Africa, Asia, and America clearly marked. In front of it, we see their inhabitants: the exotics to the right and left (a Turk, an African, and an American Indian), in the middle, and much larger: a rococo cavalier. Unlike the other figures, whose gestures are rather restrained, the cavalier spreads out his arms as if trying to seize the globe, taking possession of it: “der reisende Deutsche.” But he is not the conquistador so much as the philosophical traveller. For in the lower right corner of the image one spots a writer, goose-quill at the ready. He apparently passes the travel experience of the European or the observations of the non-Europeans on to a reading public eager to be globally educated by reading Der Reisende Deutsche. This was 1745 – no further volumes published, by the way, but probably not because global education had been achieved in Germany as a result of volume I.

  • 22 Werke, Akademie-Ausgabe, II, 7, 13. Source references in the text are to this edition.

11Then, in the late 1770s, there is Forster, the self-designated “philosophical traveller,” who, in the preface of his Reise um die Welt, points out right away that he did not go around the world to dry weeds and catch butterflies but to “throw as much new light on human nature as possible.”22 And why would he want to do that? The proper study of mankind is man, he paraphrases Pope in his essay on Captain Cook in 1787; but unlike 1733 (when Pope wrote the Essay on Man), this now clearly means acquiring close familiarity with human populations in faraway places and familiarity with their “characteristic differences” (V, 278, 295). And why? In order to develop a better idea of our species (“unsere Gattung,” V, 295). “Aufklärung” Forster calls this, but another term he prefers is “Bildung” (e. g., V, 296), and it is this kind of Bildung – global Bildung – that he encourages landlocked “deutsche Jünglinge” to acquire, in his essay on Cook. But how could they? By reading Captain Cook, for example, or by reading Forster.

  • 23 Kritische Friedrich-Schlegel-Ausgabe, 1. Abt, II, 82.
  • 24 As quoted in Katharina Middell, “Die Bertuchs müssen doch in dieser Welt überall Glück haben”: Der (...)

12Forster’s essay on Cook dates from 1787. Then, in 1797, taking Forster and Cook as his cue, it is Friedrich Schlegel who advises the next generation to travel around the world in order to acquire life-sustaining wisdom,“um sich selbst zur echten Lebensweisheit zu bilden.”23 Wishful thinking, of course, if you grow up in a town that doesn’t feature a seagull in its coat-of-arms. Even so: by the end of the age of Goethe, in 1836, Chamisso wrote in the preface to his Reise um die Welt: “Nowadays one requirement of higher education seems to be to have been around the world.” Highly prophetic, eventually, if you look at the sombrero-wearing, boomerang-toting educated masses at any German airport returning after stopovers in Bora Bora or Mauritius. With Chamisso, this was irony, of course, but not without truth. Because, if you could not take a ship, you could always take your reading glasses – which people like Kant and other high-quality sticks-in-the-mud preferred anyway. For what do we find on the German literary scene in between those dates, 1745 and 1836? We find exotic travelogues and collections of such travelogues galore, mostly translated from the English and French, also journals specializing in accounts of travel, such as Cook’s voyages, to distant lands and exotic populations. And this is just the thing for Germans, said Johann Georg Papst and Johann Gottlieb Cunradi in the preface to the first volume of their Reisende für Länder-und Völkerkunde in 1788. Why just right for stay-at-home Germans? Forster tells us in his draft of a preface to Neue Beyträge zur Völker-und Länderkunde in 1790: “We are only just beginning to get a better understanding of the earth and its inhabitants and of ourselves in them” (V, 375). Geography makes people “happier,” Friedrich Bertuch believed, though perhaps speaking strictly for himself, as a publisher of bestselling geography books.24 But no matter: one wonders how such advocacy of what anthropologists call “wide” rather than “deep” culture would have sounded to Humboldtian humanists, for whom introspection and the contemplation of art and history were paramount and indeed quite sufficient – and who thought that this classical ideal would last forever.

Global Education on the March in the German-Speaking World

13However it may have sounded to them, global Bildung was clearly on the march now. It becomes an increasingly serious competitor to Humboldtian humanism. But who is responsible for this development? There were five types of writers that helped to bring about this emergence of global Bildung in the largely inward-looking German-speaking territories: 1) geographers and ethnologists, 2) the authors of world-travelogues, 3) what we would call public intellectuals, 4) the major literary writers of the age, and 5) the writers of geography books for use in schools.

  • 25 Einleitung zur allgemeinen vergleichenden Geographie (Berlin, 1852), 162.
  • 26 Allgemeine Erdkunde, ed. H. A. Daniel (Berlin, 1862), 10; Die Erdkunde im Verhältniß zur Natur und (...)

141) Geography and ethnology take an enormous upswing during the age of Goethe, especially during its second half. “How great have been the advances” made in geography and ethnology in the mere decade between 1815 and 1824, gloats historian Arnold Heeren in the preface to the fourth edition of his Ideen über die Politik, den Verkehr und den Handel der vornehmsten Völker der alten Welt (where 1815 refers to the date not of Waterloo but of the third edition of his book). The “Fortschritte” were based, of course, on the numerous accounts of what Rousseau, Forster, Degérando and others called “philosophical voyages” undertaken from the mid-eighteenth century on. First and foremost among German geographers and ethnologists (who relied on such sources) was Carl Ritter with his twenty-one-volume Erdkunde which began to appear in 1817. Ever since the exploration of the southern hemisphere in the 1760s and 1770s, he says in an essay of 1833, it has become possible to see the world from a comprehensively global perspective, and this could not “remain without conspicuous influence” on “allgemeine Kultur.”25 In fact, if you want to be in the company of “die Gebildeten,” such a geographic and ethnologic perspective on the entire world is a “necessity” – a necessity not from any practical, colonizing but from “the human point of view”26 as he says, meaning from the point of view of culture or civilization or (as the preface to G. W. Bartholdy and J. D. F. Rumpf’s Gallerie der Welt had said as early as 1798) of “Menschenbildung” or just plain “Bildung” (as Theophil Ehrmann claimed in 1807 on the first pages of volume I of his Neueste Länder-und Völkerkunde).

15Similar is the tenor of the “Histories of Mankind” that flooded the market at this time. They, too, are global histories, histories of populations worldwide. They may be somewhat eurocentric in outlook, some of them anyway, such as Isaak Iselin’s and August Ludwig Schlözer’s and Hegel’s. But this is not true, for instance, of Johann Gottfried Gruber’s effort in this genre. In 1806, Gruber, much like Edmund Burke, unrolls the large chart of human events (“die große Charte der menschlichen Begebenheiten”) that had been reported from all corners of the world – and he finds, much to his surprise, or so he claims in his preface, that his Geschichte des menschlichen Geschlechts (“History of Mankind”) turns out to be “Ethnographie,” which makes the reader truly educated (“wahrhaft menschlich gebildet”).

16The same perspective on the earth in its totality, “die ganze Erde,” informs the Grundriß der Geschichte der Menschheit by Christoph Meiners (1785), which, the preface tells us, is in effect an ethnography of “all peoples,” especially the “wild and barbaric” ones of “all continents.” And why would one want to know about them? They – and not the Europeans – are the richest source of our knowledge of human nature (“die ergiebigste Quelle der Menschenkenntniß”). The culture of Antiquityhas its merits, but now the “Hottentots” have their turn – global Bildung once again, except that in this case whatever has been gained is cancelled out by Meiners’eurocentric racist prejudice. This, however, is not the case with the founder of German ethnology, Johann Friedrich Blumenbach. As Gruber points out in his preface to Blumenbach’s Über die natürlichen Verschiedenheiten im Menschengeschlechte in 1798: what Blumenbach’s ethnographic endeavors have brought about is nothing short of true humanity (“ächte Humanität”).

172) The German world-travellers themselves, in some cases, contribute to the emergence and flourishing of the notion that global education is an idea whose time has come. It may suffice to focus on Forster and Humboldt, whose influence on the German intellectual scene was the most incisive.

18For Forster, too (like so many others) his own lifetime is the first in which one could gain a comprehensive overview of the entire globe – the globe and, more importantly, its populations. For the ultimate benefit of this perspective, which brings into view the remotest non-European cultures and their approaches to life and living, accrues to “das Studium […] des Menschen” (V, 391– 392) – and the result, in his eyes too, is “Bildung” or “allgemeine [all-round] Bildung,” as he says time and again, distinguishing it from “lokale Bildung” (V, 383; VII, 45– 56). Such Bildung, which he also calls “cosmic,” without having astronomy in mind, leads to Enlightenment, and even happiness (VII, 49; V, 292) – et ego in Tahiti.

  • 27 Subtitle: Europa und die asiatischen Reiche im 18. Jahrhundert (München, 1998), 35, 401– 403, 377, (...)

19Interestingly, Forster has something of a missionary sense about this Bildung. Global Bildung is to be spread around the world, that is, to those faraway populations that have enabled Europeans to develop it in the first place. A case of the “white man’s burden,” we might say, not without cynicism; but this is rather pointedly a form of colonialism that proceeds not with bayonet in hand, but with the power of “gentle, unpresumptuous persuasion”: persuasion – which, to be sure, is “irresistible” all the same (VII, 54; V, 292– 293). It seems, then, that Forster is a good example of what Jürgen Osterhammel, in Die Entzauberung Asiens, calls the non-imperialist, but civilizing or enlightening colonialism of the age of Goethe, taking his cue from Roy Porter.27

  • 28 Essai sur la géographie des plantes (Paris, 1805), 35.
  • 29 Kosmos, II (Stuttgart, 1847), 71.

20A similar concept of global education is implied in much of what Alexander von Humboldt writes. By no means does he necessarily have what has been called, by Mary Louise Pratt, the “imperial eyes,” in her 2008 book of that title, meaning the imperialist eyes. The main Humboldt text is Kosmos, of course: rather late (1840s), but it only brings to fruition what as early as 1805 Humboldt had hailed as the endeavor to be “en communication avec tous les peuples de la terre.”28 What this communication brings about, in Humboldt’s view, is the by now familiar enlargement of our field of vision (“Erweiterung unseres Gesichtskreises”), which is the defining quality of those individuals that can be called “gebildet” – that word again.29

213) Public intellectuals form the largest group, but as such they do not possess a monolithic group mentality concerning global Bildung. On the contrary, this group is a rather mixed bag, revealing as it does a wide variety of specific articulations of the new concept, which began to offer a challenge to the humanistic idea of Bildung. Albrecht von Haller and Christoph Martin Wieland, for example, present us with one typical dichotomy within this new concept, namely: does the globally educated person see human nature as universally the same everywhere (c’est tout comme chez nous) or as an infinite variety of “diversities”?

  • 30 Sammlung kleiner Hallerischer Schriften, 2nd ed. (Bern, 1772), I, 133 – 139.

22Haller, an avid reader of travelogues, is convinced, in 1750, that such reading will help us get to “know ourselves” in a worldwide frame of reference. But what does this mean? It means not only that we shed our “prejudices,” but also that (as a result) we learn to ignore what makes populations different and to see that human nature, truly understood, is what “all peoples” (from the Pacific to Greenland and Switzerland and in between) have in common. This shared patrimony includes, above all, the basic principles of natural right (“die ersten Grundsätze des Rechtes der Natur”), namely neminem laede, a sense of personal property, and the desire to excel at one’s profession30 (deep down, there is a Haller-like professor in every Khoikhoi). Bildung, then, amounts to a recognition of this fact of worldwide sameness: we are all human, indeed: Swiss.

  • 31 Göttingische gelehrte Anzeigen, 1778, 70. On Haller’s authorship see Karl S. Guthke, Der Blick in d (...)
  • 32 Lichtenberg in England, ed. Hans Ludwig Gumbert (Wiesbaden, 1977), I, 109 – 111.
  • 33 Wieland, Gesammelte Schriften, Akademie-Ausgabe, 1. Abt., XXII, 50.
  • 34 Ibid., 1. Abt., XXII, 47.

23Wieland, on the other hand, is worlds apart from such enlightened universalism (and one of the few German Enlightenment figures with whom one doesn’t need to fear that when he opens his mouth, a moth will come fluttering out). He, too, to be sure, in an essay in his Teutscher Merkur of 1785, goes on record as believing that anthropology at this time has to take the form of ethnology. But when Wieland says that this view is a corollary of the present stage of Enlightenment, it is an Enlightenment rather different from Haller’s. Haller had said, in 1778, that there was nothing about Omai (the native whom Captain Cook had brought to England from the South Seas) that “was not European.”31 (Lichtenberg, who unlike Haller, actually met Omai, disagreed when he saw Omai swallowing “almost raw” fish.)32 Unlike Haller, Wieland, taking his cue from Forster’s Reise um die Welt, is interested in what is different about the South Seas Islanders: not, to be sure, the raw fish cuisine but the “Gutherzigkeit” of cannibals,33 for instance, or the casual attitude of Tahitians to what Europeans call theft (“corriger la fortune” to the natives, or maybe a form of appreciation or flattery). In fact, Wieland takes Captain Cook to task for not having learned this lesson: for not having shed his eurocentric “prejudices”34 when he punished the Tahitians harshly for their thievery. In our terminology: Cook, who circumnavigated the globe, is not a man of global education because he fails to appreciate (to understand and to accept) what is different – whereas for Haller there was basically nothing different in the first place. For Wieland there is – and what is different can definitely be understood, though not always loved.

  • 35 Kant, Gesammelte Schriften, Akademie-Ausgabe, II, 3 – 4, 9.

24Another dichotomy within the concept of global education at the time is highlighted by Kant vs. Herder. Knowledge of the world beyond Europe and knowledge of human nature, in Kant’s view, too, came to the same thing: “Anthropologie, als Weltkenntnis”, as he says in 1798 in the preface to his Anthropologie in pragmatischer Hinsicht. What makes us understand ourselves is familiarity with populations elsewhere, faraway ones, all over the world (“auf der ganzen Erde”).35 More than a decade before Edmund Burke, Kant in so many words spreads out “eine große Karte des menschlichen Geschlechts” (II, 312– 313). Bildung becomes global – but only in theory; that is: only in the announcements of his university courses on geography and anthropology. What the lectures themselves have to offer is rather less than cutting edge. For here we find the then-current provincial clichés and blind prejudices about distant populations. Worse still, their peculiarities are attributed to “national character,” which is believed to be biologically based: the Chinese are vengeful, Cochin-Chinese disloyal, Arabs brave, Native Americans lazy, etc. Needless to say, Europeans come out on top: “The greatest perfection of mankind is to be seen in the race of the whites,” while others may be better runners at best (IX, 316 – 317). For such and similar views Kant relied on books and on what he heard around the harbor of the City of Pure Reason. Only on his deathbed was he seized by a desire for personal travel, but experts consider that to be an indication not of global education but of dementia.

  • 36 For details, see Guthke, Erfindung, 3, 257.

25In the writings of Kant’s student Herder, such eurocentric arrogance is not entirely absent. But on balance Herder tends towards the very opposite of such arrogance. Even the strangest so-called primitive culture may lay claim to being measured by its own moral yardstick, rather than the European. “Diversität” rules supreme. So we read in Auch eine Philosophie der Geschichte zur Bildung der Menschheit (1774) and in the Humanitätsbriefe (1793– 1797). But this, unlike Wieland’s, is a cultural relativism that often goes to the extreme where one wonders how any kind of understanding (let alone communication or judging) is possible, rather than a mere exchange of representations: misleading representations, more often than not, as numerous eighteenth-century encounters reveal (Tahiti as Nouvelle Cythère, Cook as a Polynesian God of Thunder, etc.). This issue is still with us: think of the disagreement of anthropologists like Roger Sandall (The Culture Cult) or Robert Edgerton (Sick Societies) on the one hand, and Clifford Geertz (The Interpretation of Cultures), on the other, or the controversy of Gananath Obeyesekere (The Apotheosis of Captain Cook) and Marshall Sahlins (How “Natives” Think).36

  • 37 Werke in zehn Bänden, eds. Günter Arnold et al. (Frankfurt, 1985 – 2000), IX/2, 32 – 33, 485. Sourc (...)
  • 38 VI, 147, 184, 193, 188.

26What is more to the point in this context, though, is that Herder was another champion of what he, too, calls “Bildung” in a new key, and again, the new key is the global one. In his Journal meiner Reise im Jahr 1769 he dreams of “creating an epoch of Bildung in Germany,” and this Bildung is to be grounded in the knowledge of the Earth and man (“Erd-und Menschenkenntnis”).37 This, however, is pointedly not knowledge of Greek and Roman humanity, but of the populations of remote places like Persia, Assyria, Egypt, China, and Japan, be they “cultured” (in their way) or “wild” (IX/2, 70). The proper study of mankind is the non-European: geography becomes ethnology and ethnology becomes anthropology, which will do away with “prejudices.” Even the iconic map of the world makes its appearance again, in the Ideen: Herder hopes for “eine anthropologische Charte der Erde” which would feature nothing but the “diversity of mankind” (VI, 250); and this diversity would include ways of thinking and living (“Denkarten” and “Lebensweisen”). Relativism again; yet, in the Ideen (1784– 1791), in the mid-1780s, he does check his relativistic impulse. He checks it by stating that all humans are endowed with “Geist”: all bear within themselves the “seeds of immortality,” all are capable of “Humanität,” their “Diversität” notwithstanding, and this is god-like humanity (“Gottähnliche Humanität”).38 Even cannibals have such divine “Humanität” inasmuch as they do not eat their own children (VI, 377– 379). This is the theologian Herder speaking. Bildung, by his untravelled lights, receives a curiously religious coloration. But global it remains nonetheless – even if those strangers eat their fish raw and without the Weimar table manners, which (an English visitor, M. G. Lewis, claimed) were atrocious at the time, even at the court.

  • 39 By Claus Günzler (Köln, 1981).

274) Literary authors as sympathizers with (or champions of) global Bildung. Just a word on Goethe. It has been possible to write a whole book on Bildung im Denken Goethes39 without mentioning the world beyond Europe. Quite an achievement in its way, but incomplete.

  • 40 Weimar Edition, 1. Abt., XLI/2, 348. See Guthke, Erfindung, 68– 71, and Guthke, Goethes Weimar und (...)
  • 41 Goethe’s remark to Eckermann, 12 March 1828.
  • 42 Gesammelte Schriften (Frankfurt, 1983), VIII, 102.

28As an inhabitant of Weimar, Goethe hoped to be an inhabitant of the world and went to great lengths (only metaphorically speaking, of course) to become one. A not very well known aspect of this, in fact one that has been studied in some detail only fairly recently, is that during the years between the lifting of the Continental Blockade and the death of Duke Carl August, Goethe read several hundred elaborate reports on recently published English books sent to him in his capacity as director of the ducal library by Johann Christian Hüttner, a well-travelled journalist and translator in the British Foreign Office; a large number of them concerned exotic travelogues, of which Goethe then ordered about one hundred and fifty for the library and not a few of which he read and commented on. (Whoever has always wondered what Goethe could possibly have had in mind when he wrote in his diary on 25 October 1827: “East coast of Sumatra in the evening,” can now find the puzzle solved.) Another aspect is, of course, Goethe’s intense interest in the English-speaking visitors who came to Weimar from all corners of the world, such as the topkapi of Constantinople, Australia, and Harvard College Library. His daughter-in-law Ottilie, too, liked everything English, especially men, particularly if they danced well. Goethe, for his part, hoped that the diverse populations that the English world-travellers informed him about would reach the point where they would not “think the same way” (as Haller thought they already did), but rather where they would “einander gewahr werden,” understand each other and “tolerate” each other – in other words: live together with their differences and benefit from them.40 But how? Not by assimilating, but by living like a “guest” in the culture of the other, as he wrote to Herder on 14 October, 1786. This is what Goethe admired about the British, who, as a result (and unlike Germans) were “komplette Menschen.” (Some of them were fools, of course, but “complete fools” – a state of grace apparently equally beyond the capabilities of Germans.)41 Germans, Goethe knew, had a Bildung quite different from the English variety (which, in his notes for a continuation of his autobiography he called “weltbürgerlich” – we would say global). German Bildung, on the other hand, Goethe said in those notes, was “innere Kultur,” inwardness. Its symbol was reading glasses. Where Goethe stood himself when the chips were down (on the side of global Bildung or of “innere Kultur”) is hard to say. He was sitting on the fence. His metaphor of the “guest” may indeed capture this ambivalence rather well, foreshadowing as it does Helmuth Plessner’s sophisticated ideal of becoming familiar from a distance (“Vertrautwerden in der Distanz, die das Andere als das Andere und Fremde zugleich sehen läßt”).42

295) Schoolbooks: by the end of the age of Goethe, global Bildung had firmly established itself in German lands, at least as an alternative to humanistic Bildung. It had established itself, last but not least, in pre-university education, in so-called Realschulen in particular, which now began to rival the traditional humanistic Gymnasium. An expert witness is Karl Heinrich Hermes, in his preface to the first volume of his multivolume collection of travelogues for the young, which followed in the wake of several such collections by Johann Heinrich Campe. The title is Neueste Sammlung merkwürdiger Reisebeschreibungen für die Jugend. The year is 1836. For the young, Hermes says, travelogues have by now an even greater formative value than their own travels, and the proof of the pudding is in the great change that has come about since Campe began providing travelogues to the school-age population in the 1780s:

  • 43 Neueste Sammlung, I (Braunschweig, 1836), V – VI.

Whoever wants to claim Bildung nowadays can no longer be content with a superficial familiarity with his fatherland or conditions in the nearest neighboring countries. The most distant continents have come to be so close to us as a result of improved navigation that no part of the world should be unfamiliar and no nation, no matter how remote, should be unknown to us – or else our Bildung will betray a gross deficiency.43

30Looking back, it might seem that this account has been partial to global education – and unfair to humanistic education or Bildung. It probably only seems so because of the emphasis on what was new at the time. Still, Goethe’s sense of a balance of the two was pointed out, with admiration, and, to repeat, there was also a balance of evils: global Bildung may merge into the desire for global domination, humanistic Bildung may merge into sociopolitical acquiescence (think of Serenus Zeitblom in Thomas Mann’s Doktor Faustus). But that is another chapter of this story.

Notes

1 Undocumented statements are fully referenced in my book Die Erfindung der Welt: Globalität und Grenzen inder Kulturgeschichte der Literatur (Tübingen, 2005), 9 – 82. That is also the place to look for additional primary and critical material pertinent to this subject. More recent relevant studies have been incorporated into the present version.

2 Francis Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe (n.p.: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1964), 52.

3 Achim von Arnim und die ihm nahe standen, ed. Reinhold Steig, I: Achim von Arnim und Clemens Brentano (Stuttgart, 1894), 229.

4 Essai sur l’origine des langues, ed. Charles Porset (Bordeaux, 1970), 89.

5 Discours sur l’origine et les fondements de l’inégalité parmi les hommes, Œuvres complètes, eds. Bernard Gagnebin and Marcel Raymond, III (Paris, 1964), 212.

6 “Anthropology and Conjectural History in the Enlightenment,” Inventing Human Science: Eighteenth Century Domains, eds. Christopher Fox et al. (Berkeley, CA, 1995), 31.

7 For Lust of Knowing: The Orientalists and their Enemies (London, 2006).

8 Princeton, NJ, 2003. See also Harry Liebersohn, The Travelers’World (Cambridge, MA, 2006), ch. “Patrons”; Nicholas Thomas, “Licensed Curiosity: Cook’s Pacific Voyages,” The Cultures of Collecting, eds. John Elsner and Roger Cardinal (1994), 116– 136, esp. 116 and 122– 123. For further evidence of the critical view of the imperialistic interpretation of philosophical voyages and similar explorations, see Guthke, 332– 334.

9 Boswell’s Life of Johnson, eds. George Birkbeck Hill and L. F. Powell, II (Oxford, 1934), 247; The Illustrated Walden, ed. J. Lyndon Shanley (Princeton, NJ, 1973), 322.

10 René Gonnard, La Légende du bon sauvage (Paris, 1946), 121.

11 Subtitle: India and the Creation of Imperial Britain (Cambridge, MA, 2006).

12 The Correspondence of Edmund Burke, ed. Thomas W. Copeland, III, ed. George H. Guttridge (Cambridge, 1961), 350 – 351.

13 Subtitle: British Perceptions of the World in the Age of Enlightenment (London, 1982).

14 La Scienza dell’uomo nel settecento (Bari, 1970).

15 Schriften und Briefe, ed. Wolfgang Promies, III (München, 1972), 269, https://archive.org/details/LichtenbergSchriftenUndBriefeBd3. On 55%, see D. K. Fieldhouse, The Colonial Empires, 2nd ed. (London, 1982), 178.

16 Andrea Albrecht, Kosmopolitismus: Weltbürgerdiskurse in Literatur, Philosophie und Publizistik um 1800 (Berlin, 2005); Guthke, 33– 34.

17 See Guthke, 31– 34, quotation: 32.

18 The German Tradition of Self-Cultivation: “Bildung” from Humboldt to Thomas Mann (Cambridge, 1975); see viii for Bruford’s critical reserve.

19 Baltimore, 2003.

20 Eds. Notker Hammerstein and Ulrich Hermann, III (München, 2005), 44– 45.

21 Die “Wilden” und die “Zivilisierten”: Grundzüge einer Geistes-und Kulturgeschichte der europäischen und überseeischen Begegnung (München, 1976), 210.

22 Werke, Akademie-Ausgabe, II, 7, 13. Source references in the text are to this edition.

23 Kritische Friedrich-Schlegel-Ausgabe, 1. Abt, II, 82.

24 As quoted in Katharina Middell, “Die Bertuchs müssen doch in dieser Welt überall Glück haben”: Der Verleger Friedrich Justin Bertuch und sein Landes-Industrie-Comptoir um 1800 (Leipzig, 2002), 344.

25 Einleitung zur allgemeinen vergleichenden Geographie (Berlin, 1852), 162.

26 Allgemeine Erdkunde, ed. H. A. Daniel (Berlin, 1862), 10; Die Erdkunde im Verhältniß zur Natur und zur Geschichte des Menschen (Berlin, 1817), 1.

27 Subtitle: Europa und die asiatischen Reiche im 18. Jahrhundert (München, 1998), 35, 401– 403, 377, and throughout ch. 13; Exoticism in the Enlightenment, eds. Roy Porter and G. S. Rousseau (Manchester, 1990), 14– 15.

28 Essai sur la géographie des plantes (Paris, 1805), 35.

29 Kosmos, II (Stuttgart, 1847), 71.

30 Sammlung kleiner Hallerischer Schriften, 2nd ed. (Bern, 1772), I, 133 – 139.

31 Göttingische gelehrte Anzeigen, 1778, 70. On Haller’s authorship see Karl S. Guthke, Der Blick in die Fremde: Das Ich und das andere in der Literatur (Tübingen, 2000), 19, 39, n. 28.

32 Lichtenberg in England, ed. Hans Ludwig Gumbert (Wiesbaden, 1977), I, 109 – 111.

33 Wieland, Gesammelte Schriften, Akademie-Ausgabe, 1. Abt., XXII, 50.

34 Ibid., 1. Abt., XXII, 47.

35 Kant, Gesammelte Schriften, Akademie-Ausgabe, II, 3 – 4, 9.

36 For details, see Guthke, Erfindung, 3, 257.

37 Werke in zehn Bänden, eds. Günter Arnold et al. (Frankfurt, 1985 – 2000), IX/2, 32 – 33, 485. Source references are to this edition.

38 VI, 147, 184, 193, 188.

39 By Claus Günzler (Köln, 1981).

40 Weimar Edition, 1. Abt., XLI/2, 348. See Guthke, Erfindung, 68– 71, and Guthke, Goethes Weimar und “die große Öffnung in die weite Welt” (Wiesbaden, 2001), ch. 2.

41 Goethe’s remark to Eckermann, 12 March 1828.

42 Gesammelte Schriften (Frankfurt, 1983), VIII, 102.

43 Neueste Sammlung, I (Braunschweig, 1836), V – VI.

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