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Classical Humanism and the Challenge of Modernity by Bas van Bommel

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2. The Challenge of the Bürgerschule

Introduction

In 1838, the influential Bavarian classical humanist Friedrich Thiersch (1788 –1860) launched a vehement attack on what he called the “material direction” (materielle Richtung) of his time.428 Increasing numbers of people, Thiersch noted with concern, exclusively strove to “obtain, accumulate and use material goods” and to acquire “the social esteem and honour that come with them.” (7) To those people, everything seemed “foolish or annoying that could neither be counted nor measured,” nor understood as “directly beneficial to their wishes and aspirations.” (Ibid.) They steered towards a future that, being entirely freed of “imaginary states and dangerous dreams,” would be wholly determined by ...

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