Saturday, February 22, 2014


Emphasis on Individuality

Norman Douglas (1868-1952), Looking Back: An Autobiographical Excursion (London: Chatto and Windus, 1934), pp. 508-509 (on Professor Franz Leydig):
What chiefly impressed me in Leydig was his 'strong emphasis on individuality.' Thus I phrased it. He was interested in differences of character between animals of the same species, and observed such differences not only among his dogs but among the pet birds and reptiles which he kept. Individuality, he thought, should be fostered and not repressed. All scholastic institutions, as at present conducted, made for repression of character. He asked me: 'Are you going to some University afterwards?' I said I had not made up my mind. 'Let me beg you to avoid it if you can. It may ruin your individuality. Universities are downright monstrosities.'

Universitäten sind wahre Monstrositäten. This pronouncement coming from a University Professor, and one so venerable, gave me food for thought.
Id., p. 510:
His 'emphasis on individuality' fell on fertile soil. He supplied me with a formula for avoiding those flat lands of life where men absorb each others' habits and opinions to such an extent that nothing is left save a herd of flurried automata.

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