F.D.E. Schleiermacher’s Outlines of the Art of Education

A Translation & Discussion

by Norm Friesen (Volume editor) Karsten Kenklies (Volume editor)
©2023 Textbook XIV, 222 Pages
Series: Paedagogica, Volume 2


"One must assume we are all familiar with what is commonly called ‘education.’" This is how Schleiermacher begins his famous 1826 lecture on the Art of Education. But in proceeding further—and unlike Rousseau or Locke before him—Schleiermacher carefully avoids assuming that education is primarily about a return to nature or about "soundness" of mind and body. Education is instead an ethical and political undertaking and a pragmatic art whose ultimate object and morality has differed greatly over time. It is exercised as a form of practical influence of the older generation on the younger: "A significant part of the activity of the older generation extends toward the younger," Schleiermacher reasons, and it "is more complete and perfect the more it is governed by an idea of what should happen—the more it has an exemplar to guide its action—the more it is an art." This book offers these and other insights on education—long canonical in Central and Northern Europe—for the first time to an English audience. It also provides five chapters by scholars in education and its history that discuss various aspects of Schleiermacher’s lecture.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the editors
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Illustrations
  • Acknowledgments
  • Translators’ Introduction (Norm Friesen and Karsten Kenklies)
  • 1. Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher, 1768–1834
  • 2. Provenance and Publication of the Lecture
  • 3. Schleiermacher’s Introductory Lecture: Overview
  • 4. Schleiermacher’s Terminology
  • 5. Schleiermacher’s Dialectical Style
  • 6. Individual Chapters
  • 7. Conclusion
  • References
  • Outlines of the Art of Education: Introduction (F.D.E. Schleiermacher)
  • 1. Common View: Technique of Domestic Tutor and School Teacher
  • 2. Foundation of a Scientific Inquiry
  • 3. The Dignity of Pedagogy Presented in Formal Terms; Seen in Itself as a Theory of an Art
  • 4. Considered in Relation to Politics
  • 5. Defining Our Task Further
  • 6. Inner and Outer Questions
  • 7. The Extreme of the Omnipotence of Education
  • 8. [The Impotence or Limitations of Education]
  • 9. [Omnipotence versus Self-Activity]
  • 10. Universally Valid Pedagogy
  • 11. What Form Should Our Theory Have?
  • 12. Factual Foundations
  • 13. Sphere of the Applicability of Pedagogy
  • 14. Defining the End Point of Education for the Present Time
  • 15. How to Consider Contradictions between the Different Realms of Life?
  • 16. The Significance of Our Theory
  • 17. Universal and Individual Education
  • 18. Are People Equal or Unequal in Relation to the Universal and Individual Direction of Education?
  • 19. Equality or Inequality with Regard to the Universal Direction [of Education]?
  • 20. What Would Be Implied for Our Task By
  • 20.1. Presupposing the Equality [of All People with Regard to Both Directions of Education]?
  • 20.2. Presupposing the Inequality [of All People with Regard to Both Directions of Education]?
  • 21. The Task of Education Insofar as It Must Proceed from Existing Inequality
  • 22. Equality or Inequality with Regard to the Individual Direction [of Education]
  • 23. Is One Allowed to Sacrifice One Moment for Another?
  • 24. To What Extent Do All the Different Pedagogical Influences Form a Unity?
  • 25. How Do Supporting and Counteracting Relate to One Another?
  • 26. How Do the Two Forms of Education [Support and Counteraction] Relate to the Other Factors That [Externally] Influence the Child?
  • 27. Who Should Educate?
  • 28. If and to What Extent Is Education the Same for Both Sexes?
  • Interpretations and Discussion
  • 1. Schleiermacher’s Pedagogy: A Thematic Commentary (Michael Winkler)
  • 1. Education as Wissenschaft
  • 2. The “Rationality” of Pedagogy
  • 3. The Development of Schleiermacher’s Ideas in the 1813–1814 Lecture
  • 4. 1826: Educational Theory Comes of Age
  • 5. Positioning Pedagogy as a Discipline
  • 5.1 First Perspective: The Historical
  • 5.2 Second Perspective: Pedagogy’s Relation to Other Disciplines
  • 5.3 Third Perspective: Theory in Itself
  • 6. From Theory to Practice
  • 7. Schleiermacher and Our “Non-Genetic Heritage”
  • 8. Receptivity, Spontaneity and Self-Activity
  • 9. Education as Support
  • 10. Sociality and Subjectivity
  • 11. Conclusion: Dreams and Limitations
  • References
  • 2. The Educational Awareness of the Future (David Lewin)
  • 1. What Does It Mean to Be Oriented to the Future?
  • 2. Are We All Interested in the Future?
  • 3. Becoming Concerned
  • 4. Be in the Now
  • 5. Conclusion
  • References
  • 3. Entering the Circle. Schleiermacher and the Rise of Modern Education Studies (Karsten Kenklies)
  • 1. Introduction: First Sentences
  • 2. Theoretical Considerations: The Hermeneutic Foundation of the Circle
  • 2.1. The Possibility of Publicly Talking and Theorizing about Education
  • 2.2. The Assumption of Successful Communication about Education
  • 2.3. The Limitations of Publicly Talking and Theorizing about Education
  • 2.4. The Beginning and Goal of Reflecting on Education
  • 2.5. The Purpose of Reflecting
  • 3. Practical Considerations: The Enacting of the Circle
  • 4. Epilogue: Education Studies as Hermeneutic Academic Discipline
  • References
  • 4. Schleiermacher’s Educational Theory in the Context of the Debate on Vocational versus Liberal Education (Rebekka Horlacher)
  • 1. School Reforms in Prussia
  • 2. Schleiermacher and National Education
  • 3. Vocational or Liberal Education?
  • 4. Conclusion
  • References
  • 5. Accentuate the Negative: Schleiermacher’s Dialectic (Norm Friesen)
  • 1. The Basic Characteristics of Schleiermacher’s Dialectic
  • 2. Dialectic as Style
  • 3. Dialectic as Process
  • 3.1. Schleiermacher’s Method: A Close Reading
  • 3.2. Schleiermacher’s Methodology
  • 4. Dialectic as Structure
  • 5. Conclusion: The Dialectical Character of Educational Reflection
  • References
  • Contributors
  • Index
  • Series Index

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In working on a project of translation and interpretation that has taken well over five years, we (as the editors and translators) have incurred a debt of gratitude to many colleagues and friends. First, we would like to thank those who have contributed chapters to this book, Rebekka Horlacher, David Lewin, and Michael Winkler, for their patience and generosity. We would also like to thank those who participated in various readings and reviews of this translation, including David Lewin (again), as well as Fernando Murillo and Hanno Su—in addition to Sabine Reh and her colleagues at the Deutsches Institut für pädagogische Forschung (DIPF) in Berlin, who provided valuable feedback relatively early in the translation process. Special thanks are also due to Jens Beljan, Mari Mielityinen-Pachmann, Henning Schluß, Joris Vlieghe, and Piotr Zamojski, all for varied but indispensably supportive contributions in moving this project forward. Finally, we would like to thank diverse cafés in Jena, Glasgow, and Vancouver for hosting us during our translation and review activities.←xiii | xiv→

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Translators’ Introduction

Norm Friesen & Karsten Kenklies

Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher (1768–1834) is widely regarded not only as the founder of modern hermeneutics and of liberal Protestant theology, but also as the cofounder of the first modern German university in Berlin (with Wilhelm von Humboldt, whose name the university subsequently adopted). However, he is also known—at least among students and scholars in Northern Europe—as the founder of pedagogy as a modern academic discipline. But while Schleiermacher’s achievements in hermeneutics (e.g., Schleiermacher 1826/1998), theology (e.g., Schleiermacher 1799/1988), and the formation of the research university (e.g., Schleiermacher 1808/2017) are increasingly well documented in English, his contributions to education and pedagogy remain all but unknown. This book, which contains both a translation of the introduction to his 1826 lectures on education and five chapters by contemporary scholars on Schleiermacher and his introduction, represents an initial contribution in correcting this oversight.

This editors’ and translators’ introduction begins with a brief overview of Schleiermacher as a pedagogue and public intellectual; it discusses the provenance of the text translated and commented upon in this volume. It also explains how we as translators approached the sometimes difficult and often elliptical nature of Schleiermacher’s original German. Following a brief summary of the main sections and divisions of Schleiermacher’s introduction, this introduction provides context for some of the key terms appearing in this text and offers guidance for approaching the sometimes challenging style and exposition of Schleiermacher’s text.←1 | 2→

1. Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher, 1768–1834

Born into a long line of Protestant clergymen, Schleiermacher began work as a private tutor and as a student of theology (Schmidt 1972, p. 451). He was later engaged as an activist, a preacher, as well as a professor. As a young man, Schleiermacher worked as a tutor in the home of a wealthy count and soon afterwards completed his studies in theology and worked as a Reformed minister at a hospital in Berlin from 1796 to 1802. While in Berlin, he came to be involved with literary and cultural groups or salons, specifically with the German Romantics, a group of young writers and poets who were not particularly religious, but who greatly valued the young pastor for the depth of his knowledge and his profound humanity. One member of this group, for example, described him as not “the greatest man of his time, but as the greatest Mensch” (as cited in Vial 2013, p. 12). They challenged Schleiermacher to write something of his own, and his response was a collection of “speeches:” On Religion: Speeches to its Cultured Despisers (1799/1988)—addressed, tongue in cheek, to his Romantic friends. Here Schleiermacher emphasized that religion is not about priests and rituals, prayers and commandments. It is instead about seeing the infinite, the source of creative insight so valued by the Romantics, in our everyday lives. Schleiermacher emphasized that one should do things with religion and belief, rather than out of religious belief or obligation (Blankertz 1982, p. 112).

Schleiermacher then took up a professorial position in nearby Halle (about 100 miles southwest of Berlin), where he lectured widely on subjects ranging from theology, history, and ethics to hermeneutics. And he did so, perhaps unfortunately, often without taking the time “to give written form to most of his ideas” (Schmidt 1972, p. 451). As a result, many of his texts, including the one translated here, are reconstructed from notes made by his students, published only posthumously. In 1810 Schleiermacher became Chair of Theology at the University of Berlin—a university which since has served as a model for research universities around the world. Schleiermacher lectured on education in 1813–14, 1820–21, and again in 1826. It is the rendition of the introduction to his lectures from 1826, the version that is most widely read and cited in subsequent (German) educational literature that is translated here. Schleiermacher died of pneumonia at the age of 65 on February 12, 1830. An enormous public funeral followed, with the King of Prussia, Fredrick William II, riding “in the first 100 carriages of the procession” (Vial 2013, p. 23)—being followed by an estimated 20,000 members of the public. Schleiermacher was clearly beloved, as a preacher, a public intellectual, and also as a Mensch.←2 | 3→

2. Provenance and Publication of the Lectures

Our translation follows the German text of Schleiermacher’s lectures published in 1849 as the third part and the ninth volume of Schleiermacher’s Collected Works. This ninth volume was titled “Teachings on Education” (Erziehungslehre) edited by Carl Platz from Schleiermacher’s posthumous writing and notes from his lectures. As editor, Platz treated the material from Schleiermacher’s 1826 lectures as the main text corpus for this volume. However, as title of the volume perhaps suggests, the history underlying it is rather complicated: The volume was never prepared for publication by Schleiermacher himself, but instead stands an amalgam from different sources compiled by Platz.

In this compilation work, Platz relied on only six handwritten slips of paper from Schleiermacher that referred explicitly to the lectures of 1826. Platz had selected these from a set of unpublished lecture notes that had been made available to him after Schleiermacher’s passing. Refusing to identify those parts of the text that can justifiably be assumed to come from Schleiermacher himself, Platz reconstructed the contents of Schleiermacher’s lectures of 1826 with the help of student lecture notes. This includes its division into sections (and subsections) which are preserved here—although we have added sequential and hierarchical numbering. In total, four different sets of student lecture notes were brought together in this process of reconstruction—or perhaps more accurately, synthesis—which likely also included Platz’s own notes from the lectures. Unfortunately, none of this original material seems to have survived. As a result, the particular sources used to reconstruct specific parts of the lectures remains a mystery to this day. Using this reconstruction, different parts of the lectures have been reprinted numerous times in different editions of Schleiermacher’s works, and in this form it has become the main version upon which Schleiermacher’s renown in education is founded: Even through the philological merits of Platz’s work are somewhat unclear—especially given editorial standards of the time—the achievement of Platz in developing a readable version of Schleiermacher’s lectures deserves admiration.

Editorially speaking, the disposition of Schleiermacher’s lectures of 1826 has changed since a new set of student lecture notes was found in the library of the Institut für Hermeneutik (Institute for Hermeneutics) of the University of Zurich. It is clear that Platz did not have this particular set of notes available when he reconstructed his version of the lectures. This newly found set of lecture notes has served as the foundation for the new critical edition of Schleiermacher’s works (Schleiermacher 1808/2017, pp. 543–858) that is ←3 | 4→being published in piecemeal form. It will certainly be of interest for those wishing to understand the finer points of Schleiermacher’s theory of education, and others attempting to understand Platz’s editorial work. However, any analysis of Platz’s version of Schleiermacher’s lectures that would be based on these recently discovered student notes is a task for future scholars. In the case of the translation provided in this volume, we have deliberately chosen to use the “classic” version by Platz, given that it remains both the most readable and the most cited version in German educational discourse since the 19th century—a discourse on which it has left its own indelible mark.

Finally, because the part of the lectures translated in this volume indeed represents a “reconstruction,” it contains many apparently incomplete or elliptical remarks. Schleiermacher’s use of relatively complex structures of antecedent reference can be said to add further complexity. To address this, and to facilitate reading overall, as translators, we have introduced many words and phrases in square brackets (e.g., “both [tutor and teacher]”). These additions are used not only as reminders of what Schleiermacher is referring to at a given point, but also to complete some of Schleiermacher’s sentences and section titles. In one case, we have taken the liberty to add a full section title otherwise absent, but where a clear shift in topic is evident in Schleiermacher’s text.


XIV, 222
ISBN (Hardcover)
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2022 (November)
A Translation & Discussion Norm Friesen Karsten Kenklies Schleiermacher Education Pedagogy Pedagogical Practice Pedagogical Theory Systematic Pedagogy Philosophy of Education History of Education Theory of Education Continental Pedagogy F.D.E. Schleiermacher’s Outlines of the Art of Education
New York, Berlin, Bruxelles, Lausanne, Oxford, 2023. XIV, 222 pp., 7 b/w ill.

Biographical notes

Norm Friesen (Volume editor) Karsten Kenklies (Volume editor)

Norm Friesen, Ph.D., is Professor at the College of Education, Boise State University. He has worked as a visiting researcher at Humboldt University (Berlin) and the University of Vienna. He studied German and philosophy at Johns Hopkins University and has translated and edited Klaus Mollenhauer’s Forgotten Connections. Karsten Kenklies, Dr. phil., is Senior Lecturer at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. He was a professor at the University of Duisburg-Essen and the University of Jena and a research fellow at Tamagawa University, Tokyo. His research and publications focus on systematic and historical pedagogy in the perspective of an intercultural-comparative history of ideas.


Title: F.D.E. Schleiermacher’s Outlines of the Art of Education