New Excerpt of The Philosophy of Freedom as a Basis for Artistic Creation(Section 4, Ch. IV)
by Herbert Witzenmann from a Translation in Progress That Can Be Previewed On This Blog
The main content of the work culminates in a declaration of human dignity. This is human self-creation from self-comprehension requiring no other reason than that of freedom. One considers oneself modest when upon passing a judgment one’s subjective limitation and its need for amendment is flaunted in beautiful humility. From this “humbleness” follows the willingness to reach consensus, to fall in line with public opinion.
Granted, among free human beings the interest for the mindset of the other will always be an unlimited one. Just now [in the previous section], the elusiveness of the essential nature of one’s fellow human being through external attachment of concepts was spoken of and emphasized that the tendency for forming censorial judgments signifies a lack of respect for the inviolable nature in every human being. Just for that reason, however, the courage for the validity of one’s own carefully considered judgment is also a demand of self-respect.
For free communities do not arise through the blurred mixture of average, run of the mill opinions, but through the unified concord of many-colored cognizant aspirations for that communal consciousness generated by the unison of free insights. The thoroughly individual nature of a judgment is not its weakness but its strength. For genuine community does not require collectivity but individuality. The less individually pronounced a judgment, the less it can lay claim to be heard by an audience armed with the faculty of discrimination, the more so, to each higher degree, when it shows its true countenance. A judgment steeped in cognizance requires no amendment, because it is precisely that in which others holding different views can concur. It defies amending, because it is a variation of the whole, befriending other variants. A judgment is fully valid in so far as it is thoroughly individual, while a merely repetitive accordance does not exclude doubt as to its validity, since it begs the question whether it is individually wrought or just a trainbearer of the rumor of public opinion. An individual judgment does not amend judgments formed from other perspectives, provided it is derived from real knowledge, but rather strengthens it and therefore the variety of individual judgments is even a community building factor.
For the diversity of individual judgments includes the respect for and the forming of every other real contribution to the community spirit, and the insight that the community attains nothing from a “levelling” consensus, but only by offering each and every one the widest possible scope of individual unfoldment. The deviation of a judgment from public opinion is a yardstick for the probability of its truth and a building block for a true communal consciousness. A community building judgment is not servile but proud, - proud not in the reflex of vanity of oneself, but in confidence of oneself without becoming presumptuous, in confidence of the spiritual gaze transcending the merely personal. The generic nature of public opinion is the lack of interest of its members for each other and the seeking of protection of those in anonymity who do not dare to be themselves The public confession to one’s own insight in the awareness to thereby turn oneself into the receiving end of collective resentment is in contrast the manifestation of the highest respect for the ability of the addressee to bust the templates of habitual ways of thinking. Here too the words of [German poet and writer] Goethe are valid: “What is the general? The individual case. What is the particular? Millions of cases.”
Since a true anthropology can only be a manifesto of human dignity, it is not surprising that its structural design is humanness.
The first chapter of the first main part and the last chapter of the second main part are based, as emerges from what was presented, on the same structural principle, - yet in different metamorphosis. This is an important observation, for it presents the key to the structure of the whole work. The next chapter shall enter into this.