Friedrich Froebel - God, nature and man

Friedrich Froebel's vision

by Evelyn Lawrence 1952

In the broadest philosophical perspective: the universe is the living work and manifestation of God.

Everything flows from God and expresses God and testifies to God. Nature and man alike embody the principle of divinity as their very being and essence, and exist solely in order to bring this to fulfilment. But man, and man alone can achieve direct consciousness and knowledge of his divinity, direct consciousness of his destiny, and so by free self determination, the attainment of this destiny and the direct sense of unity with God. Man grows into that consciousness and knowledge in so far as he fully realises his own growth. And he accomplishes this in so far as, through his own activity, he freely develops every side of his nature, through every progressive stage according to its own inherent law, in harmonious unison.

But every human being is born as a member of a family and a community and a nation, and he can achieve his own growth only as an harmonious part of these larger wholes. And they in turn represent different realms of unity through which mankind realises by progressive stages its total growth towards the divine.

Different eras of mankind have their different tasks or their different parts of the same task; each successive era can and must achieve higher levels of consciousness of the divine and of approach to unity with God. The goal of all human history, individual and collective is unification; first the unification of each individual's whole life within himself; then the unification of his life with that of nature and his fellow men; and finally his unification with God.

Given the nature of man as a conscious being with an inner as well as an outer life, the activities whereby he achieves his growth will of necessity be of two main kinds, which must continually go on side by side. On the one hand starting from within himself, he must constantly seek to embody in outward form the principle of divinity which and unity which is striving for expression in him; and so in endlessly differnet ways he is impelled to depict, to fashion and create. On the other hand, he must constantly strive to take into himself the picture of the world he finds outside him; to discover in it all the forms and laws by which it manifests its unity; in a word to seek out the divine, wherever he can reach it by way of knowledge. Each person is a unique individual who has the power and vocation to express the divine principle within him by his own creative activities in his own distinctive mode. But each person also needs to find for himself the universal laws, and the universal unity and divinity, in the plurality and manifoldness of the world outside him.

Progress in knowledge proceeds by the universal laws of opposition and mediation, whereby to each thing or quality or happening there is an opposite within the same kind, through which it can be most fully apprehended and defined; and then for each such pair of opposites there must be sought, and can be found, and intermediate term whereby they can be reconcilled and unified. Thus the principle of unity in diversity and manifoldness is continually reachieved and enlarged. And by this advance (through opposition and mediation) from synthesis to synthesis, wider and and higher levels of unification are continually attained.

The divine principle in each human being is the direct root of religion. He needs and strives from the start to grow towards God; that is the final meaning of all his growth, but it finds its clearest expression in the unfolding of his conscious, explicit religious feeling and awareness of God. In effect, at the end of all his progress in knowledge and insight, action and creation, is growth into religion and in religion, and growth towards and into that holy life which signifies communionn and union with God.

source: pages 187 - 9 of Friedrich Froebel and English Education edited by Evelyn Lawrence 1952

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