However, this very thing can not be promoted, though it would not occur to anyone that it needs to be promoted among Germans, in the first place. The intellectual national character of the Germans has this tendency inherently, and one merely needs to prevent it from being suppressed, either by force or through a hostility that is, of course, also found. [ . . . ]
But if the principle of pursuing science finally becomes dominant in the higher scientific institutions, there is no longer a need to see to anything else in particular. There would then be no lack of either unity or completeness, the one seeks the other by itself and the two will put themselves – and this is the secret of every good scientific method – into the right reciprocal relationship. [ . . . ]
Now, as far as the externality of the relationship to the state and its activity in all of this is concerned, it must only ensure the wealth (strength and variety) of mental power through the choice of the men that should be assembled and the freedom of their work. But freedom is threatened not only by the state, but also by the institutions themselves, which, as they begin, take on a certain spirit and like to stifle a different one from arising. The state must also preempt the disadvantages that could potentially arise from this.
The most important thing is the choice of the men who are put to work. When it comes to them, a corrective – hard to avoid – can be undertaken only when the institution as a whole has been divided into its individual parts.
Subsequent to it, the most important thing is organizational laws that are few and simple but take effect more deeply than normal, which one could discuss once again only with respect to the individual parts. [ . . . ]
The state must treat its universities neither as Gymnasia nor as special schools, and not make use of its academy as a technical or scientific committee. On the whole (the individual exceptions that must take place in the universities appear below), it must not demand from them anything that relates directly and straightforwardly to itself, but must nurse the inner conviction that when they achieve their final purpose, they will also fulfill its purposes, namely from a much more elevated perspective, one from which much more can be brought together and very different forces and levers can be applied than the state is capable of setting into motion.
On the other hand, however, it is chiefly the duty of the state to set up its schools in such a way that they duly play into the hands of the higher scientific institutions. That is based primarily on a correct understanding of their relationship to the latter, and on the conviction – which becomes fruitful – that as schools they are not called upon to anticipate the instruction of the universities, and that the universities are not merely an equal complement to them, only a higher school class, but that the move from the school to the university is a period in the youth of life, into which the school, if it is successful, places the pupil so purely that he can be physically, morally, and intellectually left to freedom and independence, and, freed from coercion, will not pass into idleness or practical life, but will bear within himself a yearning to lift himself to science, which hitherto had been shown to him merely from afar, as it were.
Its path for arriving there is simple and sure. It must merely seek the harmonious education of all abilities in its pupils; merely exercise its strength on the smallest possible number of objects from all sides, where possible, and implant all knowledge in the mind only in such a way that understanding, knowledge, and intellectual work become attractive not through external circumstances, but through their inner precision, harmony, and beauty. To that end, and for the preparatory training of the mind for pure science, mathematics above all else must be used, namely beginning with the very first exercises of the capacity for thinking.