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Goethean Science

Goethean Science: X: Knowing and Human Action in the Light of the Goethean Way of Thinking

On-line since: 16th February, 2002

X
Knowing and Human Action in the Light of the Goethean Way of Thinking

1. Methodology

We have established what the relationship is between the world of ideas — attained by scientific thinking — and directly given experience. We have learned to know the beginning and end of a process: experience devoid of ideas and idea filled apprehension of reality. Between the two, however, there lies human activity. The human being must actively allow the end to go forth from the beginning. The way in which he does this is the method. It is of course the case, now, that our apprehension of that relationship between the beginning and end of knowledge will also require its own characteristic method. Where must we begin in developing this method? Scientific thinking must prove itself, step by step, to represent an overcoming of that dark form of reality which we have designated as the directly given, and to represent a lifting up of the directly given into the bright clarity of the idea. The method must therefore consist in our answering the question, with respect to each thing: What part does it have in the unified world of ideas; what place does it occupy in the ideal picture that I make for myself of the world? When I have understood this, when I have recognized how a thing connects itself with my ideas, then my need for knowledge is satisfied. There is only one thing that is not satisfying to my need for knowledge: when a thing confronts me that does not want to connect anywhere with the view I hold of things. The ideal discomfort must be overcome that stems from the fact that there is something or other of which I must say to myself: I see that it is there; when I approach it, it faces me like a question mark; but I find nowhere, within the harmony of my thoughts, the point at that I can incorporate it; the questions I must ask upon seeing it remain unanswered, no matter how I twist and turn my system of thoughts. From this we can see what we need when we look at anything. When I approach it, it faces me as a single thing. Within me the thought-world presses toward that spot where the concept of the thing lies. I do not rest until that which confronted me at first as an individual thing appears as a part of my thought-world. Thus the individual thing as such dissolves and appears in a larger context. Now it is illuminated by the other thought-masses; now it is a serving member; and it is completely clear to me what it signifies within the greater harmony. This is what takes place in us when we approach an object of experience and contemplate it. All progress in science depends upon our becoming aware of the point at which some phenomenon or other can be incorporated into the harmony of the thought-world. Do not misunderstand me. This does not mean that every phenomenon must be explainable by concepts we already have, that our world of ideas is closed, nor that every new experience must coincide with some concept or other that we already possess. That pressing of the thought-world within us toward a concept can also go to a spot that has not yet been thought by anyone at all. And the ideal progress of the history of science rests precisely on the fact that thinking drives new configurations of ideas to the surface. Every such thought-configuration is connected by a thousand threads with all other possible thoughts — with this concept in this way, and with another in that. And the scientific method consists in the fact that we show the concept of a certain phenomenon in its relationship with the rest of the world of ideas. We call this process the deriving (demonstrating) of the concept. All scientific thinking, however, consists only in our finding the existing transitions from concept to concept, consists in our letting one concept go forth from another. The movement of our thinking back and forth from concept to concept: this is scientific method. One will say that this is the old story of the correspondence between the conceptual world and the world of experience. If we are to believe that the going back and forth from concept to concept leads to a picture of reality, then we would have to presuppose that the world outside ourselves (the transsubjective) would correspond to our conceptual world. But that is only a mistaken apprehension of the relationship between individual entity and concept. When I confront an entity from the world of experience, I absolutely do not know at all what it is. Only when I have overcome it, when its concept has lighted up for me, do I then know what I have before me. But this does not mean to say that this individual entity and the concept are two different things. No, they are the same; and what confronts me in this particular entity is nothing other than the concept. The reason I see that entity as a separate piece detached from the rest of reality is, in fact, that I do not yet know it in its true nature, that it does not yet confront me as what it is. This gives us the means of further characterizing our scientific method. Every individual entity of reality represents a definite content within our thought-system. Every such entity is founded in the wholeness of the world of ideas and can be comprehended only in connection with it. Thus each thing must necessarily call upon a twofold thought activity. First the thought corresponding to the thing has to be determined in clear contours, and after this all the threads must be determined that lead from this thought to the whole thought-world. Clarity in the details and depth in the whole are the two most significant demands of reality. The former is the intellect's concern, the latter is reason's. The intellect (Verstand) creates thought-configurations for the individual things of reality. It fulfills its task best the more exactly it delimits these configurations, the sharper the contours are that it draws. Reason (Vernunft) then has to incorporate these configurations into the harmony of the whole world of ideas. This of course presupposes the following: Within the content of the thought-configurations that the intellect creates, that unity already exists, living one and the same life; only, the intellect keeps everything artificially separated. Reason then, without blurring the clarity, merely eliminates the separation again. The intellect distances us from reality; reason brings us back to it again. Graphically this can be represented in the following way:

 Goethean Science Diagram 3
Click image for large view
 

In this diagram everything is connected; the same principle lives in all the parts. The intellect causes the separation of the individual configurations — because they do indeed confront us in the given as individual elements 52 ] — and reason recognizes the unity. 53 ] If we have the following two perceptions: 1. the sun shining down and 2. a warm stone, the intellect keeps both things apart, because they confront us as two; it holds onto one as the cause and onto the other as the effect; then reason supervenes, tears down the wall between them, and recognizes the unity in the duality. All the concepts that the intellect creates — cause and effect, substance and attribute, body and soul, idea and reality, God and world, etc. — are there only in order to keep unified reality separated artificially into parts; and reason, without blurring the content thus created, without mystically obscuring the clarity of the intellect, has then to seek out the inner unity in the multiplicity. Reason thereby comes back to that from which the intellect had distanced itself: to the unified reality. If one wants an exact nomenclature, one can call the formations of the intellect “concepts” and the creations of reason “ideas.” And one sees that the path of science is to lift oneself through the concept to the idea. And here is the place where the subjective and the objective element of our knowing differentiates itself for us in the clearest way. It is plain to see that the separation has only a subjective existence, that it is only created by our intellect. It cannot hinder me from dividing one and the same objective unity into thought-configurations that are different from those of a fellow human being; this does not hinder my reason, in its connecting activity, from attaining the same objective unity again from which we both, in fact, have taken our start. Let us represent symbolically a unified configuration of reality (figure 1). I divide it intellectually thus (figure 2); another person divides it differently (figure 3). We bring it together in accordance with reason and obtain the same configuration.

 Goethean Science Diagram 4
Click image for large view
 

This makes it explainable to us how people can have such different concepts, such different views of reality, in spite of the fact that reality can, after all, only be one. The difference lies in the difference between our intellectual worlds. This sheds light for us upon the development of the different scientific standpoints. We understand where the many philosophical standpoints originate, and do not need to bestow the palm of truth exclusively upon one of them. We also know which standpoint we ourselves have to take with respect to the multiplicity of human views. We will not ask exclusively: What is true, what is false? We will always investigate how the intellectual world of a thinker goes forth from the world harmony; we will seek to understand and not to judge negatively and regard at once as error that which does not correspond with our own view. Another source of differentiation between our scientific standpoints is added to this one through the fact that every individual person has a different field of experience. Each person is indeed confronted, as it were, by one section of the whole of reality. His intellect works upon this and is his mediator on the way to the idea. But even though we all do therefore perceive the same idea, still we always do this from different places. Therefore, only the end result to which we come can be the same; our paths, however, can be different. It absolutely does not matter at all whether the individual judgments and concepts of which our knowing consists correspond to each other or not; the only thing that matters is that they ultimately lead us to the point that we are swimming in the main channel of the idea. And all human beings must ultimately meet each other in this channel if energetic thinking leads them out of and beyond their own particular standpoints. It can indeed be possible that a limited experience or an unproductive spirit leads us to a one-sided, incomplete view; but even the smallest amount of what we experience must ultimately lead us to the idea; for we do not lift ourselves to the idea through a lesser or greater experience, but rather through our abilities as a human personality alone. A limited experience can only result in the fact that we express the idea in a one-sided way, that we have limited means at our command for bringing to expression the light that shines in us; a limited experience, however, cannot hinder us altogether from allowing that light to shine within us. Whether our scientific or even our general world view is also complete or not is an altogether different question; as is that about the spiritual depth of our views. If one now returns to Goethe, one will recognize that many of his statements, when compared with what we have presented in this chapter, simply follow from it. We consider this to be the only correct relationship between an author and his interpreter. When Goethe says: “If I know my relationship to myself and to the outer world, then I call it truth. And in this way each person can have his own truth, and it is after all always the same one” (Aphorisms in Prose), this can be understood only if we take into account what we have developed here.

2. Dogmatic and Immanent Methods

A scientific judgment comes about through the fact that we either join two concepts together or join a perception to a concept. The judgment that there is no effect without a cause belongs to the first kind; the judgment that a tulip is a plant belongs to the second kind. Daily life also recognizes judgments where one perception is joined to another, for example when we say that a rose is red. When we make a judgment, we do so for one reason or another. Now, there can be two different views about this reason. One view assumes that the factual (objective) reasons for our judgment being true lie beyond what is given us in the concepts or perceptions that enter into the judgment. According to this view, the reason a judgment is true does not coincide with the subjective reasons out of which we make this judgment. Our logical reasons, according to this view, have nothing to do with the objective reasons. It may be that this view proposes some way or other of arriving at the objective reasons for our insight; the means that our knowing thinking has are not adequate for this. For my knowing, the objective entity that determines my conclusion lies in a world unknown to me: my conclusion. along with its formal reasons (freedom from contradictions, being supported by various axioms, etc.), lies only within my world. A science based on this view is a dogmatic one. Both the theologizing philosophy that bases itself on a belief in revelation, and the modern science of experience are dogmatic sciences of this kind; for there is not only a dogma of revelation; there is also a dogma of experience. The dogma of revelation conveys truths to man about things that are totally removed from his field of vision. He does not know the world concerning which the ready-made assertions are prescribed for his belief. He cannot get at the grounds for these assertions. He can therefore never gain any insight as to why they are true. He can gain no knowledge, only faith. On the other hand, however, the assertions of the science of experience are also merely dogmas; it believes that one should stick merely to pure experience and only observe, describe, and systematically order its transformations, without lifting oneself to the determining factors that are not yet given within mere direct experience. In this case also we do not in fact gain the truth through insight into the matter, but rather it is forced upon us from outside. I see what is happening and what is there; and register it; why it is this way lies in the object. I see only the results, not the reason. The dogma of revelation once ruled science; today it is the dogma of experience that does so. It was once considered presumptuous to reflect upon the preconditions of revealed truths; today it is considered impossible to know anything other than what the facts express. As to why they are as they are and not something different, this is considered to be unexperiencable and therefore inaccessible.

Our considerations have shown that it is nonsensical to assume any reason for a judgment being true other than our reason for recognizing it as true. When we have pressed forward to the point where the being of something occurs to us as idea, we then behold in the idea something totally complete in itself, something self-supported and self-sustaining; it demands no further explanation from outside at all, so we can stop there. We see in the idea — if only we have the capacity for this — that it has everything which constitutes it within itself, that with it we have everything we could ask. The entire ground of existence has merged with the idea, has poured itself into it, unreservedly, in such a way that we have nowhere else to seek it except in the idea. In the idea we do not have a picture of what we are seeking in addition to the things; we have what we are seeking itself. When the parts of our world of ideas flow together in our judgments then it is the content of these parts itself that brings this about, not reasons lying outside them. The substantial and not merely the formal reasons for our conclusions are directly present within our thinking.

That view is thereby rejected which assumes an absolute reality — outside the ideal realm — by which all things, including thinking, are carried. For that world view, the foundation for what exists cannot be found at all within what is accessible to us. This foundation is not innate (eingeboren) to the world lying before us; it is present outside this world, an entity unto itself, existing alongside this world. One can call that view realism. It appears in two forms. It either assumes a multiplicity of real beings underlying the world (Leibniz, Herbart), or a uniform real (Schopenhauer). Such an existent real can never be recognized as identical with the idea; it is already presupposed to be essentially different from the idea. Someone who becomes aware of the clear sense of the question as to the essential being of phenomena cannot be an adherent of this realism. What does it mean then to ask about the essential being of the world? It means nothing more than that, when I approach a thing, a voice makes itself heard in me that tells me that the thing is ultimately something quite else in addition to what I perceive with my senses. What it is in addition is already working in me, presses in me toward manifestation, while I am seeing the thing outside me. Only because the world of ideas working in me presses me to explain, out of it, the world around me, do I demand any such explanation. For a being in whom no ideas are pressing up, the urge is not there to explain the things any further; he is fully satisfied with the sense-perceptible phenomenon. The demand for an explanation of the world stems from the need that thinking has to unite the content accessible to thinking with manifest reality, to permeate everything conceptually, to make what we see, hear, etc., into something that we understand. Whoever takes into consideration the full implications of these statements cannot possibly be an adherent of the realism characterized above. To want to explain the world by something real that is not idea is such a self-contradiction that one absolutely cannot grasp how it could possibly find any adherents at all. To explain what is perceptibly real to us by something or other that does not take part in thinking at all, that, in fact, is supposed to be basically different from any- thing of a thought nature, for this we have neither the need nor any possible starting point. First of all: Where would the need originate to explain the world by something that never intrudes upon us, that conceals itself from us? And let us assume that it did approach us; then the question arises again: In what form and where? It cannot of course be in thinking. And even in outer or inner perception again? What meaning could it have to explain the sense world by a qualitative equivalent? There is only one other possibility: to assume that we had an ability to reach this most real being that lies outside thought in another way than through thinking and perception. Whoever makes this assumption has fallen into mysticism. We do not have to deal with mysticism, however; for we are concerned only with the relationship between thinking and existence, between idea and reality. A mystic must write an epistemology for mysticism. The standpoint of the later Schelling — according to which we develop only the what (das Was) of the world content with the help of our reason, but cannot reach the that (das Dass) 54 ] — seems to us to be the greatest nonsense. Because for us the that is the presupposition of the what, and we would not know how we are supposed to arrive at the what of a thing whose that has not already been surely established beforehand. The that, after all, is already inherent in the content of my reason when I grasp its what. This assumption of Schelling — that we can have a positive world content, without any conviction that it exists, and that we must first gain the that through higher experience — seems to us so incomprehensible to any thinking that understands itself, that we must assume that Schelling himself, in his later period, no longer understood the standpoint of his youth, which made such a powerful impression upon Goethe.

It will not do to assume higher forms of existence than those belonging to the world of ideas. Only because the human being is often not able to comprehend that the existence (Sein) of the idea is something far higher and fuller than that of perceptual reality, does he still seek a further reality. He regards ideal existence as something chimerical, as something needing to be imbued with some real element, and is not satisfied with it. He cannot, in fact, grasp the idea in its positive nature; he has it only as something abstract; he has no inkling of its fullness, of its inner perfection and genuineness. But we must demand of our education that it work its way up to that high standpoint where even an existence that cannot be seen with the eyes, nor grasped with the hands, but that must be apprehended by reason, is regarded as real. We have therefore actually founded an idealism that is realism at the same time. Our train of thought is: Thinking presses toward explanation of reality out of the idea. It conceals this urge in the question: What is the real being of reality? Only at the end of a scientific process do we ask about the content of this real being itself; we do not go about it as realism does, which presupposes something real in order then to trace reality back to it. We differ from realism in having full consciousness of the fact that only in the idea do we have a means of explaining the world. Even realism has only this means but does not realize it. It derives the world from ideas, but believes it derives it from some other reality. Leibniz' world of monads is nothing other than a world of ideas; but Leibniz believes that in it he possesses a higher reality than the ideal one. All the realists make the same mistake: they think up beings, without becoming aware that they are not getting outside of the idea. We have rejected this realism, because it deceives itself about the actual ideal nature of its world foundation; but we also have to reject that false idealism which believes that because we do not get outside of the idea, we also do not get outside of our consciousness, and that all the mental pictures given us and the whole world are only subjective illusion, only a dream that our consciousness dreams (Fichte). These idealists also do not comprehend that although we do not get outside of the idea, we do nevertheless have in the idea something objective, something that has its basis in itself and not in the subject. They do not consider the fact that even though we do not get outside of the unity of thinking, we do enter with the thinking of our reason into the midst of full objectivity. The realists do not comprehend that what is objective is idea, and the idealists do not comprehend that the idea is objective.

We still have to occupy ourselves with the empiricists of the sense-perceptible, who regard any explaining of the real by the idea as inadmissible philosophical deduction and who demand that we stick to what is graspable by the senses. Against this standpoint we can only say, simply, that its demand can, after all, only be a methodological one. To say that we should stick to what is given only means, after all, that we should acquire for ourselves what confronts us. This standpoint is the least able to determine anything about the what of the given; for, this what must in fact come, for this standpoint, from the given itself. It is totally incomprehensible to us how, along with the demand for pure experience, someone can demand at the same time that we not go outside the sense world, seeing that in fact the idea can just as well fulfill the demand that it be given. The positivistic principle of experience must leave the question entirely open as to what is given, and unites itself quite well then with the results of idealistic research. But then this demand coincides with ours as well. And we do unite in our view all standpoints, insofar as they are valid ones. Our standpoint is idealism, because it sees in the idea the ground of the world; it is realism because it addresses the idea as the real; and it is positivism or empiricism because it wants to arrive at the content of the idea, not through a priori constructions, but rather as something given. We have an empirical method that penetrates into the real and that is ultimately satisfied by the results of idealistic research. We do not recognize as valid any inferring, from something given and known to us, of an underlying, non-given, determinative element. We reject any inference in which any part of the inference is not given. Inferring is only a going from given elements over to other equally given elements. In an inference we join a to b by means of c; but all these must be given. When Volkelt says that our thinking moves us to presuppose something in addition to the given and to transcend the given, then we say: Within our thinking, something is already moving us that we want to add to the directly given. We must therefore reject all metaphysics. Metaphysics wants, in fact, to explain the given by something non-given, inferred (Wolff, Herbart). We see in inferences only a formal activity that does not lead to anything new, but only brings about transitions between elements actually present.

3. The System of Science

What form does a fully developed science (Wissenschaft) have in the light of the Goethean way of thinking? Above all we must hold fast to the fact that the total content of science is a given one; given partly as the sense world from outside, partly as the world of ideas from within. All our scientific activity will therefore consist in overcoming the form in which this total content of the given confronts us, and in making it over into a form that satisfies us. This is necessary because the inner unity of the given remains hidden in its first form of manifestation, in which only the outer surface appears to us. Now the methodological activity that establishes a relationship between these two forms turns out to vary according to the realm of phenomena with which we are working. The first realm is one in which we have a manifoldness of elements given to sense perception. These interact with each other. This interaction becomes clear to us when we immerse ourselves into the matter through ideas. Then one or another element appears as more or less determined by the others, in one way or another. The existential conditions of one become comprehensible to us through those of the others. We trace one phenomenon back to the others. We trace the phenomenon of a warm stone, as effect, back to the warming rays of the sun, as cause. We have explained what we perceive about one thing, when we trace it back to some other perceptible thing. We see in what way the ideal law arises in this realm. It encompasses the things of the sense world, stands over them. It determines the lawful way of working of one thing by letting it be conditional upon another. Our task here is to bring together the series of phenomena in such a way that one necessarily goes forth out of the others, that they all constitute one whole and are lawful through and through. The realm that is to be explained in this way is inorganic nature. Now the individual phenomena of experience by no means confront us in such a way that what is closest in space and time is also the closest according to its inner nature. We must first pass from what is closest in space and time over into what is conceptually closest. For a certain phenomenon we must seek the phenomena that are directly connected to it in accordance with their nature. Our goal must be to bring together a series of facts that complement each other, that carry and mutually support each other. We achieve thereby a group of sense-perceptible, interacting elements of reality; and the phenomenon that unfolds before us follows directly out of the pertinent factors in a transparent, clear way. Following Goethe's example, we call such a phenomenon an “archetypal phenomenon” (Urphänomen) or a basic fact. This archetypal phenomenon is identical with the objective natural law. The bringing together discussed here can either occur merely in thoughts — as when I think about the three determining factors that come into consideration when a stone is thrown horizontally: 1. the force of the throw, 2. the force of gravity, and 3. the air's resistance and then derive the path of the flying stone from these factors; or, on the other hand, I can actually bring the individual factors together and then await the phenomenon that follows from their interaction. This is what we do in an experiment. Whereas a phenomenon of the outer world is unclear to us because we know only what has been determined (the phenomenon) and not what is determining, the phenomenon that an experiment presents is clear, because we ourselves have brought together the determining factors. This is the path of research of nature: It takes its start from experience, in order to see what is real; advances to observation, in order to see why it is real; and then intensifies into the experiment, in order to see what can be real.

Unfortunately, precisely that essay of Goethe's seems to have been lost that could best have supported these views. It is a continuation of the essay, The Experiment as Mediator between Subject and Object. 55 ] Starting from the latter, let us try to reconstruct the possible content of the lost essay from the only source available to us, the correspondence between Goethe and Schiller. The essay on The Experiment came out of those studies of Goethe that he undertook in order to show the validity of his work in optics. It was then put aside until the poet took up these studies again in 1798 with new energy and, with Schiller, submitted the basic principles of the natural-scientific method to a thorough and scientifically serious investigation. On January 10, 1798 (see Goethe's correspondence with Schiller) he then sent the essay on The Experiment to Schiller for his consideration and on January 13 informed his friend that he wanted, in a new essay, to develop further the views expressed there. And he did undertake this work; on January 17 already he sent a little essay to Schiller that contained a characterization of the methods of natural science. This is not to be found among his works. It would indisputably have been the one to provide the best points of reference for an appreciation of Goethe's basic views on the natural-scientific method. We can, however, know what thoughts were expressed there from Schiller's detailed letter of January 19, 1798; along with this, the fact comes into consideration that we find many confirmations and supplementations to the indications in Schiller's letter in Goethe's Aphorisms in Prose. 56 ]

Goethe distinguishes three methods of natural-scientific research. These rest upon three different conceptions of phenomena. The first method is ordinary empiricism, which does not go beyond the empirical phenomenon, beyond the immediate facts. It remains with individual phenomena. If ordinary empiricism wants to be consistent, it must limit its entire activity to exactly describing in every detail each phenomenon that meets it, i.e., to recording the empirical facts. Science, for it, would merely be the sum total of all these individual descriptions of recorded facts. Compared to ordinary empiricism rationalism then represents the next higher level, it deals with the scientific phenomenon. This view no longer limits itself to the mere describing of phenomena, but rather seeks to explain these by discovering causes, by setting up hypotheses, etc. It is the level at which the intellect infers from the phenomena their causes and inter-relationships. Goethe declares both these methods to be one-sided. Ordinary empiricism is raw non-science, because it never gets beyond the mere grasping of incidentals; rationalism, on the other hand, interprets into the phenomenal world causes and interrelationships that are not in it. The former cannot lift itself out of the abundance of phenomena up to free thinking; the latter loses this abundance as the sure ground under its feet and falls prey to the arbitrariness of imagination and of subjective inspiration. Goethe censures in the sharpest way the passion people have for immediately attaching to the phenomena deductions arrived at subjectively, as, for example, in Aphorisms in Prose: “It is bad business — but one that happens to many an observer — where a person immediately connects a deduction to a perception and considers them both as equally valid,” and: “Theories are usually the overly hasty conclusions of an impatient intellect that would like to be rid of the phenomenon and therefore sets in its place pictures, concepts, indeed often only words. One senses, one even sees, in fact, that it is only an expedient; but have not passion and a partisan spirit always loved expedients? And rightly so, since they need them so much.” Goethe particularly criticizes the misuse to which the concept of causality has given rise. Rationalism, in its unbridled fantasy, seeks causality where, if you are looking for facts, it is not to be found. In Aphorisms in Prose he says: “The most innate, most necessary concept, that of cause and effect, when applied, gives rise to innumerable and ever-recurring errors.” Rationalism is particularly led by its passion for simple relationships to think of phenomena as parts of a chain attached to one another by cause and effect and stretching out merely lengthwise; whereas the truth is, in fact, that one or another phenomenon that, in time, is causally determined by an earlier one, still depends also upon many other effects at the same time. In this case only the length and not the breadth of nature is taken into account. Both paths, ordinary empiricism and rationalism, are for Goethe certainly transitional stages to the highest scientific method, but, in fact, only transitional stages that must be surmounted. And this occurs with rational empiricism, which concerns itself with the pure phenomenon that is identical to the objective natural laws. The ordinary empirical element — direct experience — offers us only individual things, something incoherent, an aggregate of phenomena. That means it offers us all this not as the final conclusion of scientific consideration, but rather, in fact, as a first experience. Our scientific needs, however, seek only what is interrelated, comprehend the individual thing only as a part in a relationship. Thus, seemingly, our need to comprehend and the facts of nature diverge from each other. In our spirit there is only relatedness, in nature only separateness; our spirit strives for the species, nature creates only individuals. The solution to this contradiction is provided by the reflection that the connecting power of the human spirit, on the one hand, is without content, and therefore, by and through itself alone, cannot know anything positive; on the other hand, the separateness of the objects of nature does not lie in their essential being itself, but rather in their spatial manifestation; in fact, when we penetrate into the essential being of the individual, of the particular, this being itself directs us to the species. Because the objects of nature are separated in their outer manifestation, our spirit's power to draw together is needed in order to show their inner unity. Because the unity of the intellect by itself is empty, the intellect must fill this unity with the objects of nature. Thus at this third level phenomenon and spiritual power come to meet each other and merge into one, and only then can the human spirit be fully satisfied.

A further realm of investigation is that in which the individual thing, in its form of existence, does not appear as the result of something else existing beside it; we therefore also do not comprehend it by seeking help from something else of the same kind. Here, a series of sense-perceptible phenomenological elements appears to us as the direct formation of a unified principle, and we must press forward to this principle if we want to comprehend the individual phenomenon. In this realm, we cannot explain the phenomenon by anything working in from outside; we must derive it from within outward. What earlier was a determining factor is now merely an inducing factor. In the first realm I have comprehended everything when I have succeeded in regarding it as the result of something else, in tracing it back to an outer determining factor; here I am compelled to ask the question differently. When I know the outer influence, I still have not gained any information as to whether the phenomenon then occurs in this, and only in this, way. I must derive this from the central principle of that thing upon which the outer influence took place. I cannot say that this outer influence has this effect; but only that, to this particular outer influence, the inner working principle responds in this particular way. What occurs is the result of an inner lawfulness. I must therefore know this inner lawfulness. I must investigate what it is that is taking shape from within outward. This self-shaping principle, which in this realm underlies every phenomenon, which I must seek in every one, is the typus. We are in the realm of organic nature. What the archetypal phenomenon is in inorganic nature, the typus is in organic nature. The typus is a general picture of the organism: the idea of the organism; the animalness in the animal. We had to bring the main points here again of what we already stated about the typus in an earlier chapter, because of the context. In the ethical and historical sciences we then have to do with the idea in a narrower sense. Ethics and history are sciences of ideas. Their reality is ideas. It is the task of each science to work on the given until it brings the given to the archetypal phenomenon, to the typus, and to the leading ideas in history. “If ... the physicist can arrive at knowledge of what we have called an archetypal phenomenon, then he is secure and the philosopher along with him; he is so because he has convinced himself that he has arrived at the limits of his science, that he finds himself upon the empirical heights, from which he can look back upon experience in all its levels, and can at least look forward into the realm of theory if not enter it. The philosopher is secure, for he receives from the physicist's hand something final that becomes for him now something from which to start” (Sketch of a colour Theory). 57 ] — This is in fact where the philosopher enters and begins his work. He grasps the archetypal phenomena and brings them into a satisfying ideal relationship. We see what it is, in the sense of the Goethean world view, that is to take the place of metaphysics: the observing (in accordance with ideas), ordering, and deriving of archetypal phenomena. Goethe speaks repeatedly in this sense about the relationship between empirical science and philosophy — with special clarity in his letters to Hegel. In his Annals he speaks repeatedly about a schema of science. If this were to be found, we would see from it how he himself conceived the interrelationships of the individual archetypal phenomena to be, how he put them together into a necessary chain. We can also gain a picture of it when we consider the table of all possible kinds of workings that he gives in the fourth section of the first volume of On Natural Science. 58 ]

Chance
Mechanical
Physical
Chemical
Organic
Psychic
Ethical
Religious
Of a Genius

It is according to this ascending sequence that one would have to guide oneself in ordering the archetypal phenomena.

4. Limits to Knowledge and the Forming of Hypotheses

One speaks a great deal today about limits to our knowing. Man's ability to explain what exists, it is said, reaches only to a certain point, and there he must stop. We believe we can rectify the situation with respect to this question if we ask the question correctly. For, it is, indeed, so often only a matter of putting the question correctly. When this is done, a whole host of errors is dispelled. When we reflect that the object that we feel the need within us to explain must be given, then it is clear that the given itself cannot set a limit for us. For, in order to lay any claim at all to being explained and comprehended, it must confront us within given reality. Something that does not appear upon the horizon of the given does not need to be explained. Any limits could therefore lie only in the fact that, in the face of a given reality, we lacked all means of explaining it. But our need for explanation comes precisely from the fact that what we want to consider a given thing to be — that by which we want to explain it — forces itself onto the horizon of what is given us in thought. Far from being unknown to us, the explanatory essential being of an object is itself the very thing which, by manifesting within our spirit, makes the explanation necessary. What is to be explained and that by which it is to be explained are both present. It is only a matter of joining them. Explaining something is not the seeking of an unknown, but only a coming to terms about the reciprocal connection between two knowns. It should never occur to us to explain a given by something of which we have no knowledge. Now something does come into consideration here that gives a semblance of justification to the theory of a limit to knowledge. It could be that we do in fact have an inkling of something real that is there, but that nevertheless is beyond our perception. We can perceive some traces, some effects or other of a thing, and then make the assumption that this thing does exist. And here one can perhaps speak of a limit to our knowing. What we have presupposed to be inaccessible in this case, however, is not something by which to explain anything in principle; it is something perceivable even though it is not perceived. What hinders me from perceiving it is not any limit to knowledge in principle, but only chance outer factors. These can very well be surmounted. What I merely have inklings of today can be experienced tomorrow. But with a principle that is not so; with it, there are no outer hindrances, which after all lie mostly only in place and time; the principle is given to me inwardly. Something else does not give me an inkling of a principle when I myself do not see the principle.

Theory about the forming of hypotheses is connected with this. A hypothesis is an assumption that we make and whose truth we cannot ascertain directly but only in its effects. We see a series of phenomena. It is explainable to us only when we found it upon something that we do not perceive directly. May such an assumption be extended to include a principle? Clearly not. For, something of an inner nature that I assume without becoming aware of it is a total contradiction. A hypothesis can only assume something, indeed, that I do not perceive, but that I would perceive at once if I cleared away the outer hindrances. A hypothesis can indeed not presuppose something perceived, but must assume something perceivable. Thus, every hypothesis is in the situation that its content can be directly confirmed only by a future experience. Only hypotheses that can cease to be hypotheses have any justification. Hypotheses about central scientific principles have no value. Something that is not explained by a positively given principle known to us is not capable of explanation at all and also does not need it.

5. Ethical and Historical Sciences

The answering of the question, What is knowing, has illuminated for us the place of the human being in the cosmos. The view we have developed in answering this question cannot fail to shed light also upon the value and significance of human action. We must in fact attach a greater or lesser significance to what we perform in the world, according to whether we attribute a higher or lower significance to our calling as human beings.

The first task to which we must now address ourselves will be to investigate the character of human activity. How does what we must regard as the effect of human action relate to other effects within the world process? Let us look at two things: a product of nature and a creation of human activity, a crystal form and a wheel, perhaps. In both cases the object before us appears as the result of laws expressible in concepts. Their difference lies only in the fact that we must regard the crystal as the direct product of the natural lawfulness that determines it, whereas with the wheel the human being intervenes between the concept and the object. What we think of in the natural product as underlying the real, this we introduce into reality by our action. In knowing, we experience what the ideal determining factors of our sense experience are; we bring the world of ideas, which already lies within reality, to manifestation; we therefore complete the world process in the sense that we call into appearance the producer who eternally brings forth his products. but who, without our thinking, would remain eternally hidden within them. In human actions, however, we supplement this process through the fact that we translate the world of ideas, insofar as it is not yet reality, into such reality. Now we have recognized the idea as that which underlies all reality as the determining element, as the intention of nature. Our knowing leads us to the point of finding the tendency of the world process, the intention of the creation, out of all the indications contained in the nature surrounding us. If we have achieved this, then our action is given the task of working along independently in the realizing of that intention. And thus our action appears to us as the direct continuation of that kind of activity that nature also fulfills. It appears to us as directly flowing from the world foundation. But what a difference there is, in fact, between this and that other (nature) activity! The nature product by no means has within itself the ideal lawfulness by which it appears governed. It needs to be confronted by something higher, by human thinking; there then appears to this thinking that by which the nature product is governed. This is different in the case of human action. Here the idea dwells directly within the acting object; and if a higher being confronted it, this being could not find in the object's activity anything other than what this object itself had put into its action. For, a perfect human action is the result of our intentions and only that. If we look at a nature product that affects another, then the matter is like this: we see an effect; this effect is determined by laws grasped in concepts. But if we want to comprehend the effect, then it is not enough for us to compare it with some law or other; we must have a second perceptible thing — which, to be sure, must also be dissolvable entirely into concepts. When we see an impression in the ground we then look for the object that made it. This leads to the concept of a kind of effect where the cause of a phenomenon also appears in the form of an outer perception, i.e., to the concept of force. A force can confront us only where the idea first appears in an object of perception and only in this form acts upon another object. The opposite of this is when this intermediary is not there, when the idea approaches the sense world directly. There the idea itself appears as causative. And here is where we speak of will. Will, therefore, is the idea itself apprehended as force. It is totally inadmissible to speak of an independent will. When a person accomplishes something or other, one cannot say that will is added to the mental picture. If one does speak in that way, then one has not grasped the concepts clearly, for, what is the human personality if one disregards the world of ideas that fills it? It is, in fact, an active existence. Whoever grasps the human personality differently — as dead, inactive nature product — puts it at the level of a stone in the road. This active existence, however, is an abstraction; it is nothing real. One cannot grasp it; it is without content. If one wants to grasp it, if one wants a content for it, then one arrives, in fact, at the world of ideas that is engaged in doing. Eduard von Hartmann makes this abstraction into a second world-constituting principle beside the idea. It is, however, nothing other than the idea itself, only in one form of manifestation. Will without idea would be nothing. The same cannot be said of the idea, for activity is one of its elements, whereas the idea is the self-sustaining being.

So much for the characterization of human action. Let us proceed to a further essential distinguishing feature of it that necessarily results from what has already been said. The explaining of a process in nature is a going back to its determining factors: a seeking out of the producer in addition to the product that is given. When I perceive an effect and then seek its cause, these two perceptions do not by any means satisfy my need for explanation. I must go back to the laws by which this cause brings forth this effect. It is different with human action. Here the lawfulness that determines a phenomenon itself enters into action; that which makes a product itself appears upon the scene of activity. We have to do with a manifesting existence at which we can remain, for which we do not need to ask about deeper-lying determining factors. We have comprehended a work of art when we know the idea embodied in it; we do not need to ask about any further lawful relationship between idea (cause) and creation (effect). We comprehend the actions of a statesman when we know his intentions (ideas); we do not need to go any further beyond what comes to appearance. This is therefore what distinguishes the processes of nature from the actions of human beings: with nature processes the law is to be regarded as the determining background for what comes into manifest existence, whereas with human actions the existence is itself the law and manifests as determined by nothing other than itself. Thus every process of nature breaks down into something determining and something determined, and the latter follows necessarily from the former, whereas human action determines only itself. This, however, is action out of inner freedom (Freiheit). When the intentions of nature, which stand behind its manifestations and determine them, enter into the human being, they themselves become manifestation; but now they are, as it were, free from any attachment behind them (rückenfrei). If all nature processes are only manifestations of the idea, then human doing is the idea itself in action.

Since our epistemology has arrived at the conclusion that the content of our consciousness is not merely a means of making a copy of the world ground. but rather that this world ground itself, in its most primal state comes to light within our thinking, we can do nothing other than to recognize directly in human action also the undetermined action of that primal ground. We recognize no world director outside ourselves who sets goals and directions for our actions. The world director has given up his power, has given everything over to man, abolishing his own separate existence, and set man the task: Work on. The human being finds himself in the world, sees nature, and within it, the indication of something deeper, a determining element, an intention. His thinking enables him to know this intention. It becomes his spiritual possession. He has penetrated the world; he comes forth, acting, to carry on those intentions. Therefore, the philosophy presented here is the true philosophy of inner freedom (Freiheitsphilosophie). In the realm of human actions it acknowledges neither natural necessity nor the influence of some creator or world director outside the world. In either case, the human being would be unfree. If natural necessity worked in him in the same way as in other entities, then he would perform his actions out of compulsion, then it would also be necessary in his case to go back to determining factors that underlie manifest existence, and then inner freedom is out of the question. It is of course not impossible that there are innumerable human functions that can only be seen in this light; but these do not come into consideration here. The human being, insofar as he is a being of nature, is also to be understood according to the laws that apply to nature's working. But neither as a knowing nor as a truly ethical being can he, in his behavior, be understood according to merely natural laws. There, in fact, he steps outside the sphere of natural realities. And it is with respect to this, his existence's highest potency, which is more an ideal than reality, that what we have established here holds good. Man's path in life consists in his developing himself from a being of nature into a being such as we have learned to know here; he should make himself free of all laws of nature and become his own law giver.

But we must also reject the influence of any director — outside the world — of human destiny. Also where such a director is assumed, there can be no question of true inner freedom. There he determines the direction of human action and man has to carry out what this director sets him to do. He experiences the impulse to his actions not as an ideal that he sets himself, but rather as the commandment of that director; again his actions are not undetermined, but rather determined. The human being would not then, in fact, feel himself to be free of any attachment from behind him, but would feel dependent, like a mere intermediary for the intentions of a higher power.

We have seen that dogmatism consists in seeking the basis for the truth of anything in something beyond, and inaccessible to, our consciousness (transsubjective), in contrast to our view that declares a judgment to be true only because the reason for doing so lies in the concepts that are present in our consciousness and that flow into the judgment. Someone who conceives of a world ground outside of our world of ideas thinks that our ideal reason for recognizing something as true is a different reason than that as to why it is objectively true. Thus truth is apprehended as dogma. And in the realm of ethics a commandment is what a dogma is in science. When the human being seeks the impulse for his action in commandments, he acts then according to laws whose basis is independent of him; he conceives of a norm that is prescribed for his action from outside. He acts out of duty. To speak of duty makes sense only when looked at this way. We must feel the impulse from outside and acknowledge the necessity of responding to it; then we act out of duty. Our epistemology cannot accept this kind of action as valid where the human being appears in his full ethical development. We know that the world of ideas is unending perfection itself; we know that with it the impulses of our action lie within us; and we must therefore only acknowledge an action as ethical in which the deed flows only out of the idea, lying within us, of the deed. From this point of view, man performs an action only because its reality is a need for him. He acts because an inner (his own) urge, not an outer power, drives him. The object of his action, as soon as he makes himself a concept of it, fills him in such a way that he strives to realize it. The only impulse for our action should also lie in the need to realize an idea, in the urge to carry out an intention. Everything that urges us to a deed should live its life in the idea. Then we do not act out of duty; we do not act under the influence of a drive; we act out of love for the object to which our action is to be directed. The object, when we picture it, calls forth in us the urge to act in a way appropriate to it. Only such action is a free one. For if, in addition to the interest we take in the object, there had yet to be a second motivation from another quarter, then we would not want this object for its own sake; we would want something else and would perform that, which we do not want we would carry out an action against our will. That would be the case, for example, in action out of egoism. There we take no interest in the action itself; it is not a need for us; we do need the benefits, however, that it brings us. But then we also feel right away as compulsion the fact that we must perform the action for this reason only. The action itself is not a need for us; for we would leave it undone if no benefits followed from it. An action, however, that we do not perform for its own sake is an unfree one. Egoism acts unfreely. Every person acts unfreely, in fact, who performs an action out of a motivation that does not follow from the objective content of the action itself. To carry out an action for its own sake means to act out of love. Only someone who is guided by love in doing, by devotion to objectivity, acts truly freely. Whoever is incapable of this selfless devotion will never be able to regard his activity as a free one.

If man's action is to be nothing other than the realization of his own content of ideas, then naturally such a content must lie within him. His spirit must work productively. For, what is supposed to fill him with the urge to accomplish something if not an idea working its way up in his spirit? This idea will prove to be all the more fruitful the more it arises in his spirit in definite outlines and with a clear content. For only that, in fact, can move us with full force to realize something, which is completely definite in its entire “what.” An ideal that is only dimly pictured to oneself, that is left in an indefinite state, is unsuitable as an impulse to action. What is there about it to fire us with enthusiasm if its content does not lie clear and open to the day? The impulses for our action must therefore always arise in the form of individual intentions. Everything fruitful that the human being accomplishes owes its existence to such individual impulses. General moral laws, ethical norms, etc., that are supposed to be valid for all human beings prove to be entirely worthless. When Kant regards as ethically valid only that which is suitable as a law for all human beings, then one can say in response to this that all positive action would cease, that everything great would disappear from the world, if each person did only what was suitable for everyone. No, it is not such vague, general ethical norms but rather the most individual ideals that should guide our actions. Everything is not equally worthy of being done by everyone, but rather this is worthy of him, that of her, according to whether one of them feels called to do a thing. J. Kreyenbühl has spoken about this in apt words is his essay Ethical Freedom in Kant's View 59 ]: “If freedom is, in fact, to be my freedom, if a moral deed is to be my deed, if the good and right is to be realized through me, through the action of this particular individual personality, then I cannot possibly be satisfied by a general law that disregards all individuality and all the peculiarities of the concurrent circumstances of the action, and that commands me to examine every action as to whether its underlying motive corresponds to the abstract norm of general human nature and as to whether, in the way it lives and works in me, it could become a generally valid maxim.” ... “An adaptation of this kind to what is generally usual and customary would render impossible any individual freedom, any progress beyond the ordinary and humdrum, any significant, outstanding ethical achievement.”

These considerations shed light upon the questions a general ethics has to answer. One often treats this last, in fact, as though it were a sum total of norms according to which human action ought to direct itself. From this point of view, one compares ethics to natural science and in general to the science of what exists. Whereas science is to communicate to us the laws of that which exists, of what is, ethics supposedly has to teach us the laws of what ought to exist. Ethics is supposedly a codex of all the ideals of man, a detailed answer to the question: What is good? Such a science, however, is impossible. There can be no general answer to this question. Ethical action is, in fact, a product of what manifests within the individual; it is always present as an individual case, never in a general way. There are no general laws as to what one ought or ought not to do. But do not regard the individual legal statutes of the different peoples as such general laws. They are also nothing more than the outgrowth of individual intentions. What one or another personality has experienced as a moral motive has communicated itself to a whole people, has become the “code of this people.” A general natural code that should apply to all people for all time is nonsense. Views as to what is right and wrong and concepts of morality come and go with the different peoples, indeed even with individuals. The individuality is always the decisive factor. It is therefore inadmissible to speak of an ethics in the above sense. But there are other questions to be answered in this science, questions that have in part been touched upon briefly in these discussions. Let me mention only: establishing the difference between human action and nature's working, the question as to the nature of the will and of inner freedom, etc. All these individual tasks can be summed up in one: To what extent is man an ethical being? But this aims at nothing other than knowledge of the moral nature of man. The question asked is not: What ought man to do? but rather: What is it that he is doing, in its inner nature? And thereby that partition falls which divides all science into two spheres: into a study of what exists and into one of what ought to exist. Ethics is just as much a study of what exists as all the other sciences. In this respect, a unified impulse runs through all the sciences in that they take their start from something given and proceed to its determining factors. But there can be no science of human action itself; for, it is undetermined, productive, creative. Jurisprudence is not a science, but only a collection of notes on the customs and codes characteristic of an individual people.

Now the human being does not belong only to himself; he belongs, as a part, to two higher totalities. First of all, he is part of a people with which he is united by common customs, by a common cultural life, by language, and by a common view. But then he is also a citizen of history, an individual member in the great historical process of human development. Through his belonging to these two wholes, his free action seems to be restricted. What he does, does not seem to flow only from his own individual ego; he appears determined by what he has in common with his people; his individuality seems to be abolished by the character of his people. Am I still free then if one can find my actions explainable not only out of my own nature but to a considerable extent also out of the nature of my people? Do I not act, therefore, the way I do because nature has made me a member of this particular community of people? And it is no different with the second whole to which I belong. History assigns me the place of my working. I am dependent upon the cultural epoch into which I am born; I am a child of my age. But if one apprehends the human being at the same time as a knowing and as an acting entity, then this contradiction resolves itself. Through his capacity for knowledge, man penetrates into the particular character of his people; it becomes clear to him whither his fellow citizens are steering. He overcomes that by which he appears determined in this way and takes it up into himself as a picture that he has fully known; it becomes individual within him and takes on entirely the personal character that working from inner freedom has. The situation is the same with respect to the historical development within which the human being appears. He lifts himself to a knowledge of the leading ideas, of the moral forces holding sway there; and then they no longer work upon him as determining factors, but rather become individual driving powers within him. The human being must in fact work his way upward so that he is no longer led, but rather leads himself. He must not allow himself to be carried along blindly by the character of his people, but rather must lift himself to a knowledge of this character so that he acts consciously in accordance with his people. He must not allow himself to be carried by the progress of culture, but must rather make the ideas of his time into his own. In order for him to do so it is necessary above all that he understand his time. Then, in inner freedom, he will fulfill its tasks; then he will set to at the right place with his own work. Here the humanities 60 ] (history, cultural and literary history, etc.) must enter as intermediaries. In the humanities the human being has to do with his own accomplishments, with the creations of culture, of literature, with art, etc. Something spiritual is grasped by the human spirit. And the purpose of the humanities should not be any- thing other than that man recognize where chance has placed him; he should recognize what has already been accomplished, what falls to him to do. Through the humanities he must find the right point at which to participate with his personality in the happenings of the world. The human being must know the spiritual world and determine his part in it according to this knowledge.

In the preface to the first volume of his Pictures from the German Past, 61 ] Gustav Freytag says: “All the great creations of the power of a people, inherited religion, custom, law, state configurations, are for us no longer the results of individual men; they are the organic creations of a lofty life that in every age comes to manifestation only through the individual, and in every age draws together into itself the spiritual content of the individual into a mighty whole ... Thus, without saying anything mystical, one might well speak of a folk-soul ... But the life of a people no longer works consciously, like the will forces of a man. Man represents what is free and intelligent in history; the power of a people works ceaselessly, with the dark compulsion of a primal force.” If Freytag had investigated this life of a people, he would have found, indeed, that it breaks down into the working of a sum of single individuals who overcome that dark compulsion and lift what is unconscious up into consciousness; and he would have seen how that which he addresses as folk-soul, as dark compulsion, goes forth from the individual will impulses, from the free action of the human being.

But something else comes into consideration with respect to the working of the human being within his people. Every personality represents a spiritual potency, a sum of powers which seek to work according to the possibilities. Every person must therefore find the place where his working can incorporate itself in the most suitable way into the organism of his people. It must not be left to chance whether he finds this place. The constitution of a state has no other purpose than to take care that everyone find his appropriate sphere of work. The state is the form in which the organism of a people expresses itself.

Sociology and political science have to investigate the way the individual personality can come to play a part appropriate to it within a state. The constitution must go forth from the innermost being of a people. The character of a people, expressed in individual statements, is the best constitution for a state. A statesman cannot impose a constitution upon a people. The leader of a state must investigate the deep characteristics of his people and, through a constitution, give the tendencies slumbering in the people a direction corresponding to them. It can happen that the majority of a people wants to steer onto paths that go against its own nature. Goethe believes that in this case the statesman must let himself be guided by the people's own nature and not by the momentary demands of the majority; that he must in this case advocate the character of his people against the actual people (Aphorisms in Prose).

We must still add a word here about the method of history. History must always bear in mind that the causes of historical events are to be sought in the individual intentions, plans, etc., of the human being. All tracing back of historical facts to plans that underlie history is an error. It is always only a question of which goals one or another personality has set himself, which ways they have taken, and so on. History is absolutely to be based on human nature. Its willing, its tendencies are to be fathomed.

By statements of Goethe we can now substantiate again what has been said here about the science of ethics. The following statement is to be understood only out of the relationship in which we have seen the human being to stand with respect to historical development: “The world of reason is to be regarded as a great immortal individual, which ceaselessly brings about the necessary and thereby makes itself master, in fact, of chance happening.” 62 ] — A reference to a positive, individual substratum of action lies in the words: “Undetermined activity, of whatever kind, leads to bankruptcy in the end.” “The least of men can be complete if he moves within the limits of his abilities and skills.” — The necessity for man of lifting himself up to the leading ideas of his people and of his age is expressed like this: “Each person must ask himself, after all, with which organ he can and will in any case work into his age.” and: “One must know where one is standing and where the others want to go.” Our view of duty is recognizable again in the words: “Duty: where one loves what one commands oneself to do.”

We have based man, as a knowing and acting being, entirely upon himself. We have described his world of ideas as coinciding with the world ground and have recognized that everything he does is to be regarded as flowing only from his own individuality. We seek the core of existence within man himself. No one reveals a dogmatic truth to him; no one drives him in his actions. He is sufficient unto himself. He must be everything through himself, nothing through another being. He must draw forth everything from himself. Even the sources of his happiness. We have already recognized, in fact, that there can be no question of any power directing man, determining the direction and content of his existence, damning him to being unfree. If happiness is to come to a person therefore, this can come about only through himself. Just as little as an outer power prescribes norms for our action, will such a power bestow upon things the ability to awaken in us a feeling of satisfaction if we do not do it ourselves. Pleasure and pain are there for man only when he himself first confers upon objects the power to call up these feelings in him. A creator who determines from outside what should cause us pleasure or pain, would simply be leading us around like a child.

All optimism and pessimism are thereby refuted. Optimism assumes that the world is perfect, that it must be a source of the greatest satisfaction for man. But if this is to be the case, man would first have to develop within himself those needs through which to arrive at this satisfaction. He would have to gain from the objects what it is he demands. Pessimism believes that the world is constituted in such a way that it leaves man eternally dissatisfied, that he can never be happy. What a pitiful creature man would be if nature offered him satisfaction from outside! All lamentations about an existence that does not satisfy us, about this hard world, must disappear before the thought that no power in the world could satisfy us if we ourselves did not first lend it that magical power by which it uplifts and gladdens us. Satisfaction must come to us out of what we make of things, out of our own creations. Only that is worthy of free beings.




Last Modified: 15-Nov-2017
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