Tom Last's Posts (214)

22 hoernle part 2

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4. THE WORLD AS PERCEPT

4.0 Reactive Thinking
[1] THE products of thinking are concepts and ideas. What a concept is cannot be expressed in words. Words can do no more than draw our attention to the fact that we have concepts. When someone perceives a tree, the perception acts as a stimulus for thought. Thus an ideal element is added to the perceived object, and the perceiver regards the object and its ideal complement as belonging together. When the object disappears from the field of his perception, the ideal counterpart alone remains. This latter is the concept of the object. The wider the range of our experience, the larger becomes the number of our concepts. Moreover, concepts are not by any means found in isolation one from the other. They combine to form an ordered and systematic whole. The concept "organism," e.g., combines with those of "development according to law," "growth," and others. Other concepts based on particular objects fuse completely with one another. All concepts formed from particular lions fuse in the universal concept "lion." In this way, all the separate concepts combine to form a closed, conceptual system within which each has its special place. Ideas do not differ qualitatively from concepts. They are but fuller, more saturated, more comprehensive concepts. I attach special importance to the necessity of bearing in mind, here, that I make thought my starting-point, and not concepts and ideas which are first gained by means of thought. These latter presuppose thought. My remarks regarding the self-dependent, self-sufficient character of thought cannot, therefore, be simply transferred to concepts. (I make special mention of this, because it is here that I differ from Hegel, who regards the concept as something primary and ultimate.)

[2] Concepts cannot be derived from perception. This is apparent from the fact that, as man grows up, he slowly and gradually builds up the concepts corresponding to the objects which surround him. Concepts are added to perception.

4.1 Conceptual Search
[3] A philosopher, widely read at the present day (Herbert Spencer), describes the mental process which we perform upon perception as follows:

[4] "If, when walking through the fields some day in September, you hear a rustle a few yards in advance, and on observing the ditch-side where it occurs, see the herbage agitated, you will probably turn towards the spot to learn by what this sound and motion are produced. As you approach there flutters into the ditch a partridge; on seeing which your curiosity is satisfied—you have what you call an explanation of the appearances. The explanation, mark, amounts to this—that whereas throughout life you have had countless experiences of disturbance among small stationary bodies, accompanying the movement of other bodies among them, and have generalized the relation between such disturbances and such movements, you consider this particular disturbance explained on finding it to present an instance of the like relation" (First Principles, Part I, par. 23).

A closer analysis leads to a very different description from that here given. When I hear a noise, my first demand is for the concept which fits this percept. Without this concept, the noise is to me a mere noise. Whoever does not reflect further, hears just the noise and is satisfied with that. But my thought makes it clear to me that the noise is to be regarded as an effect. Thus it is only when I combine the concept of effect with the percept of a noise that I am led to go beyond the particular percept and seek for its cause. The concept of "effect" calls up that of "cause," and my next step is to look for the agent, which I find, say, in a partridge. But these concepts, cause and effect, can never be gained through mere perception, however many instances we bring under review. Perception evokes thought, and it is this which shows me how to link separate experiences together.

[5] If one demands of a "strictly objective science" that it should take its data from perception alone, one must demand also that it abandon all thought. For thought, by its very nature, transcends the objects of perception.

4.2 Conceptual Reference
[6] It is time now to pass from thought to the thinker. For it is through the thinker that thought and perception are combined. The human mind is the stage on which concept and percept meet and are linked to one another. In saying this, we already characterize this (human) consciousness. It mediates between thought and perception. In perception the object appears as given, in thought the mind seems to itself to be active. It regards the thing as object and itself as the thinking subject. When thought is directed upon the perceptual world we have consciousness of objects; when it is directed upon itself we have self-consciousness. Human consciousness must, of necessity, be at the same time self-consciousness, because it is a consciousness which thinks. For, when thought contemplates its own activity it makes an object for study of its own essential nature, it makes an object of itself as subject.

[7] It is important to note here that it is only by means of thinking that I am able to determine myself as subject and contrast myself with objects. Therefore thinking must never be regarded as a merely subjective activity. Thinking transcends the distinction of subject and object. It produces these two concepts just as it produces all others. When, therefore, I, as thinking subject, refer a concept to an object, we must not regard this reference as something purely subjective. It is not the subject, but thought, which makes the reference. The subject does not think because it is a subject, rather it conceives itself to be a subject because it can think. The activity of consciousness, in so far as it thinks, is thus not merely subjective. Rather it is neither subjective nor objective; it transcends both these concepts. I ought never to say that I, as an individual subject, think, but rather that I, as subject, exist myself by the grace of thought. Thought thus takes me out of myself and relates me to objects. At the same time it separates me from them, inasmuch as I, as subject, am set over against the objects.

[8] It is just this which constitutes the double nature of man. His thought embraces himself and the rest of the world. But by this same act of thought he determines himself also as an individual, in contrast with the objective world.

4.3 Conceptual Relationship
[9] We must next ask ourselves how the other element, which we have so far simply called the perceptual object and which comes, in consciousness, into contact with thought, enters into thought at all?

[10] In order to answer this question, we must eliminate from the field of consciousness everything which has been imported by thought. For, at any moment, the content of consciousness is always shot through with concepts in the most various ways.

[11] Let us assume that a being with fully developed human intelligence originated out of nothing and confronted the world. All that it there perceived before its thought began to act would be the pure content of perception. The world so far would appear to this being as a mere chaotic aggregate of sense-data, colors, sounds, sensations of pressure, of warmth, of taste, of smell, and, lastly, feelings of pleasure and pain. This mass constitutes the world of pure unthinking perception. Over against it stands thought, ready to begin its activity as soon as it can find a point of attack. Experience shows that the opportunity is not long in coming. Thought is able to draw threads from one sense-datum to another. It brings definite concepts to bear on these data and thus establishes a relation between them. We have seen above how a noise which we hear is connected with another content by our identifying the first as the effect of the second.

[12] If now we recollect that the activity of thought is on no account to be considered as merely subjective, then we shall not be tempted to believe that the relations thus established by thought have merely subjective validity.

4.4 Correction Of My Picture Of World
[13] Our next task is to discover by means of thought what relation the above mentioned immediate sense-data have to the conscious subject.

[14] The ambiguity of current speech makes it advisable for me to come to an agreement with my readers concerning the meaning of a word which I shall have to employ in what follows. I shall apply the name "percepts" to the immediate sense-data enumerated above, in so far as the subject consciously apprehends them. It is, then, not the process of perception, but the object of this process which I call the "percept."

[15] I reject the term "sensation," because this has a definite meaning in Physiology which is narrower than that of my term "percept." I can speak of feeling as a percept, but not as a sensation in the physiological sense of the term. Before I can have cognizance of my feeling it must become a percept for me. The manner in which, through observation, we gain knowledge of our thought-processes is such that when we first begin to notice thought, it too may be called a percept.

[16] The unreflective man regards his percepts, such as they appear to his immediate apprehension, as things having a wholly independent existence. When he sees a tree he believes that it stands in the form which he sees, with the colors of all its parts, etc., there on the spot towards which his gaze is directed. When the same man sees the sun in the morning appear as a disc on the horizon, and follows the course of this disc, he believes that the phenomenon exists and occurs (by itself) exactly as he perceives it. To this belief he clings until he meets with further percepts which contradict his former ones. The child who has as yet had no experience of distance grasps at the moon, and does not correct its first impression as to the real distance until a second percept contradicts the first. Every extension of the circle of my percepts compels me to correct my picture of the world. We see this in everyday life, as well as in the mental development of mankind. The picture which the ancients made for themselves of the relation of the earth to the sun and other heavenly bodies, had to be replaced by another when Copernicus found that it contradicted percepts which in those early days were unknown. A man who had been born blind said, when operated on by Dr. Franz, that the idea of the size of objects which he had formed before his operation by his sense of touch was a very different one. He had to correct his tactual percepts by his visual percepts.

4.5 Mathematical And Qualitative Percept-Picture
[17] How is it that we are compelled to make these continual corrections in our observations?

[18] A single reflection supplies the answer to this question. When I stand at one end of an avenue, the trees at the other end, away from me, seem smaller and nearer together than those where I stand. But the scene which I perceive changes when I change the place from which I am looking. The exact form in which it presents itself to me is, therefore, dependent on a condition which inheres, not in the object, but in me, the percipient. It is all the same to the avenue where I stand. But the picture of it which I receive depends essentially on my standpoint. In the same way, it makes no difference to the sun and the planetary system that human beings happen to perceive them from the earth; but the picture of the heavens which human beings have is determined by the fact that they inhabit the earth. This dependence of our percepts on our points of observation is the easiest kind of dependence to understand. The matter becomes more difficult when we realize further that our perceptual world is dependent on our bodily and mental organization. The physicist teaches us that within the space in which we hear a sound there are vibrations of the air, and that there are vibrations also in the particles of the body which we regard as the cause of the sound. These vibrations are perceived as sounds only if we have normally constructed ears. Without them the whole world would be for us for ever silent. Again, the physiologist teaches us that there are men who perceive nothing of the wonderful display of colors which surrounds us. In their world there are only degrees of light and dark. Others are blind only to one color, e.g., red. Their world lacks this color tone, and hence it is actually a different one from that of the average man. I should like to call the dependence of my perceptual world on my point of observation "mathematical," and its dependence on my organization "qualitative." The former determines proportions of size and mutual distances of my percepts, the latter their quality. The fact that I see a red surface as red—this qualitative determination—depends on the structure of my eye.

4.6 Subjective Percept-Picture
[19] My percepts, then, are in the first instance subjective. The recognition of the subjective character of our percepts may easily lead us to doubt whether there is any objective basis for them at all. When we know that a percept, e.g., that of a red color or of a certain tone, is not possible without a specific structure of our organism, we may easily be led to believe that it has no being at all apart from our subjective organization, that it has no kind of existence apart from the act of perceiving of which it is the object. The classical representative of this theory is George Berkeley, who held that from the moment we realize the importance of a subject for perception, we are no longer able to believe in the existence of a world apart from a conscious mind.

"Some truths there are so near and obvious to the mind that man need only open his eyes to see them. Such I take this important one to be, viz., that all the choir of heaven and the furniture of the earth—in a word, all those bodies which compose the mighty frame of the world—have not any subsistence without a mind; that their being is to be perceived or known; that consequently, so long as they are not actually perceived by me, or do not exist in my mind or that of any other created spirit, they must either have no existence at all or else subsist in the mind of some Eternal Spirit" (Berkeley, Of the Principles of Human Knowledge, Part I, Section 6).

On this view, when we take away the act of perceiving, nothing remains of the percept. There is no color when none is seen, no sound when none is heard. Extension, form, and motion exist as little as color and sound apart from the act of perception. We never perceive bare extension or shape. These are always joined with color or some other quality, which are undoubtedly dependent on the subject. If these latter disappear when we cease to perceive, the former, being connected with them, must disappear likewise.

[20] If it is urged that, even though figure, color, sound, etc., have no existence except in the act of perception, yet there must be things which exist apart from perception and which are similar to the percepts in our minds, then the view we have mentioned would answer, that a color can be similar only to a color, a figure to a figure. Our percepts can be similar only to our percepts and to nothing else. Even what we call a thing is nothing but a collection of percepts which are connected in a definite way. If I strip a table of its shape, extension, color, etc.—in short, of all that is merely my percepts—then nothing remains over. If we follow this view to its logical conclusion, we are led to the assertion that the objects of my perceptions exist only through me, and only in as far as, and as long as, I perceive them. They disappear with my perceiving and have no meaning apart from it. Apart from my percepts I know of no objects and cannot know of any.

[21] No objection can be made to this assertion as long as we take into account merely the general fact that the percept is determined in part by the organization of the subject. The matter would be far otherwise if we were in a position to say what part exactly is played by our perceiving in the occurrence of a percept. We should know then what happens to a percept whilst it is being perceived, and we should also be able to determine what character it must possess before it comes to be perceived.

4.7 Idea: After-effect Of Observation
[22] This leads us to turn our attention from the object of a perception to the subject of it. I am aware not only of other things but also of myself. The content of my perception of myself consists, in the first instance, in that I am something stable in contrast with the ever coming and going flux of percepts. The awareness of myself accompanies in my consciousness the awareness of all other percepts. When I am absorbed in the perception of a given object I am, for the time being, aware only of this object. Next I become aware also of myself. I am then conscious, not only of the object, but also of my Self as opposed to and observing the object. I do not merely see a tree, I know also that it is I who see it. I know, moreover, that some process takes place in me when I observe a tree. When the tree disappears from my field of vision, an after-effect of this process remains, viz., an image of the tree. This image has become associated with my Self during my perception. My Self has become enriched; to its content a new element has been added. This element I call my idea of the tree. I should never have occasion to talk of ideas, were I not aware of my own Self. Percepts would come and go; I should let them slip by. It is only because I am aware of my Self, and observe that with each perception the content of the Self is changed, that I am compelled to connect the perception of the object with the changes in the content of my Self, and to speak of having an idea.

4.8 Idea: Caused By Unknown Thing-In-Itself
[23] That I have ideas is in the same sense matter of observation to me as that other objects have color, sound, etc. I am now also able to distinguish these other objects, which stand over against me, by the name of the outer world, whereas the contents of my perception of my Self form my inner world. The failure to recognize the true relation between idea and object has led to the greatest misunderstandings in modern philosophy. The fact that I perceive a change in myself, that my Self undergoes a modification, has been thrust into the foreground, whilst the object which causes these modifications is altogether ignored. In consequence it has been said that we perceive, not objects, but only our ideas. I know, so it is said, nothing of the table in itself, which is the object of my perception, but only of the changes which occur within me when I perceive a table. This theory should not be confused with the Berkeleyan theory mentioned above. Berkeley maintains the subjective nature of my perceptual contents, but he does not say that I can know only my own ideas. He limits my knowledge to my ideas because, on his view, there are no objects other than ideas. What I perceive as a table no longer exists, according to Berkeley, when I cease to look at it. This is why Berkeley holds that our percepts are created directly by the omnipotence of God. I see a table because God causes this percept in me. For Berkeley, therefore, nothing is real except God and human spirits. What we call the "world" exists only in spirits. What the naive man calls the outer world, or material nature, is for Berkeley non-existent. This theory is confronted by the now predominant Kantian view which limits our knowledge of the world to our ideas, not because of any conviction that nothing beyond these ideas exists, but because it holds that we are so organized that we can have knowledge only of the changes within our own selves, not of the things-in-themselves which are the causes of these changes. This view concludes from the fact that I know only my own ideas, not that there is no reality independent of them, but only that the subject cannot have direct knowledge of such reality. The mind can merely "through the medium of its subjective thoughts imagine it, conceive it, know it, or perhaps also fail to know it" (O. Liebmann, Zur Analysis der Wirklichkeit, p. 28). Kantians believe that their principles are absolutely certain, indeed immediately evident, without any proof.

"The most fundamental principle which the philosopher must begin by grasping clearly, consists in the recognition that our knowledge, in the first instance, does not extend beyond our ideas. Our ideas are all that we immediately have and experience, and just because we have immediate experience of them the most radical doubt cannot rob us of this knowledge. On the other hand, the knowledge which transcends my ideas—taking ideas here in the widest possible sense, so as to include all psychical processes—is not proof against doubt. Hence, at the very beginning of all philosophy we must explicitly set down all knowledge which transcends ideas as open to doubt."

4.9 Idea: What My Organization Transmits

These are the opening sentences of Volkelt's book on Kant's Theory of Knowledge. What is here put forward as an immediate and self-evident truth is, in reality, the conclusion of a piece of argument which runs as follows. Naive common sense believes that things, just as we perceive them, exist also outside our minds. Physics, Physiology, and Psychology, however, teach us that our percepts are dependent on our organization, and that therefore we cannot know anything about external objects except what our organization transmits to us. The objects which we perceive are thus modifications of our organization, not things-in-themselves. This line of thought has, in fact, been characterized by Ed. von Hartmann as the one which leads necessarily to the conviction that we can have direct knowledge only of our own ideas (cp. his Grundproblem der Erkenntnistheorie, pp. 16-40).

Physics
Because outside our organisms we find vibrations of particles and of air, which are perceived by us as sounds, it is concluded that what we call sound is nothing more than a subjective reaction of our organisms to these motions in the external world. Similarly, color and heat are inferred to be merely modifications of our organisms. And, further, these two kinds of percepts are held to be the effects of processes in the external world which are utterly different from what we experience as heat or as color. When these processes stimulate the nerves in the skin of my body, I perceive heat; when they stimulate the optical nerve I perceive light and color. Light, color, and heat, then, are the reactions of my sensory nerves to external stimuli. Similarly, the sense of touch reveals to me, not the objects of the outer world, but only states of my own body. The physicist holds that bodies are composed of infinitely small particles called molecules, and that these molecules are not in direct contact with one another, but have definite intervals between them. Between them, therefore, is empty space. Across this space they act on one another by attraction and repulsion. If I put my hand on a body, the molecules of my hand by no means touch those of the body directly, but there remains a certain distance between body and hand, and what I experience as the body's resistance is nothing but the effect of the force of repulsion which its molecules exert on my hand. I am absolutely external to the body and experience only its effects on my organism.

[24] The theory of the so-called Specific Nervous Energy, which has been advanced by J. Muller, supplements these speculations. It asserts that each sense has the peculiarity that it reacts to all external stimuli in only one definite way. If the optic nerve is stimulated, light sensations result, irrespective of whether the stimulation is due to what we call light, or to mechanical pressure, or an electrical current. On the other hand, the same external stimulus applied to different senses gives rise to different sensations. The conclusion from these facts seems to be, that our sense-organs can give us knowledge only of what occurs in themselves, but not of the external world. They determine our percepts, each according to its own nature.

Physiology
[25] Physiology shows, further, that there can be no direct knowledge even of the effects which objects produce on our sense-organs. Through his study of the processes which occur in our own bodies, the physiologist finds that, even in the sense-organs, the effects of the external process are modified in the most diverse ways. We can see this most clearly in the case of eye and ear. Both are very complicated organs which modify the external stimulus considerably, before they conduct it to the corresponding nerve. From the peripheral end of the nerve the modified stimulus is then conducted to the brain. Here the central organs must in turn be stimulated. The conclusion is, therefore, drawn that the external process undergoes a series of transformations before it reaches consciousness. The brain processes are connected by so many intermediate links with the external stimuli, that any similarity between them is out of the question. What the brain ultimately transmits to the soul is neither external processes, nor processes in the sense-organs, but only such as occur in the brain. But even these are not apprehended immediately by the soul. What we finally have in consciousness are not brain processes at all, but sensations. My sensation of red has absolutely no similarity with the process which occurs in the brain when I sense red. The sensation, again, occurs as an effect in the mind, and the brain process is only its cause. This is why Hartmann (Grundproblem der Erkenntnistheorie, p. 37) says, "What the subject experiences is therefore only modifications of his own psychical states and nothing else."

Psychology
However, when I have sensations, they are very far as yet from being grouped in those complexes which I perceive as "things." Only single sensations can be transmitted to me by the brain. The sensations of hardness and softness are transmitted to me by the organ of touch, those of color and light by the organ of sight. Yet all these are found united in one object. This unification must, therefore, be brought about by the soul itself; that is, the soul constructs things out of the separate sensations which the brain conveys to it. My brain conveys to me singly, and by widely different paths, the visual, tactual, and auditory sensations which the soul then combines into the idea of a trumpet. Thus, what is really the result of a process (i.e., the idea of a trumpet), is for my consciousness the primary datum. In this result nothing can any longer be found of what exists outside of me and originally stimulated my sense - organs. The external object is lost entirely on the way to the brain and through the brain to the soul.

4.10 Perceived World Is A Projection Of Soul Qualities
[26] It would be hard to find in the history of human speculation another edifice of thought which has been built up with greater ingenuity, and which yet, on closer analysis, collapses into nothing. Let us look a little closer at the way it has been constructed. The theory starts with what is given in naive consciousness, i.e., with things as perceived. It proceeds to show that none of the qualities which we find in these things would exist for us, had we no sense-organs. No eye—no color. Therefore, the color is not, as yet, present in the stimulus which affects the eye. It arises first through the interaction of the eye and the object. The latter is, therefore, colorless. But neither is the color in the eye, for in the eye there is only a chemical, or physical, process which is first conducted by the optic nerve to the brain, and there initiates another process. Even this is not yet the color. That is only produced in the soul by means of the brain process. Even then it does not yet appear in consciousness, but is first referred by the soul to a body in the external world. There I finally perceive it, as a quality of this body. We have traveled in a complete circle. We are conscious of a colored object. That is the starting-point. Here thought begins its construction. If I had no eye, the object would be, for me, colorless. I cannot, therefore, attribute the color to the object. I must look for it elsewhere. I look for it, first, in the eye—in vain; in the nerve—in vain; in the brain—in vain once more; in the soul—here I find it indeed, but not attached to the object. I recover the colored body only on returning to my starting-point. The circle is completed. The theory leads me to identify what the naive man regards as existing outside of him, as really a product of my mind.

4.11 External Perception Is Idea
[27] As long as one stops here everything seems to fit beautifully. But we must go over the argument once more from the beginning. Hitherto I have used, as my starting-point, the object, i.e., the external percept of which up to now, from my naive standpoint, I had a totally wrong conception. I thought that the percept, just as I perceive it, had objective existence. But now I observe that it disappears with my act of perception, that it is only a modification of my mental state. Have I, then, any right at all to start from it in my arguments? Can I say of it that it acts on my soul? I must henceforth treat the table of which formerly I believed that it acted on me, and produced an idea of itself in me, as itself an idea. But from this it follows logically that my sense-organs, and the processes in them are also merely subjective. I have no right to talk of a real eye but only of my idea of an eye. Exactly the same is true of the nerve paths, and the brain processes, and even of the process in the soul itself, through which things are supposed to be constructed out of the chaos of diverse sensations. If assuming the truth of the first circle of argumentation, I run through the steps of my cognitive activity once more, the latter reveals itself as a tissue of ideas which, as such, cannot act on one another. I cannot say that my idea of the object acts on my idea of the eye, and that from this interaction results my idea of color. But it is necessary that I should say this. For as soon as I see clearly that my sense-organs and  their activity, my nerve- and soul-processes, can also be known to me only through perception, the argument which I have outlined reveals itself in its full absurdity. It is quite true that I can have no percept without the corresponding sense-organ. But just as little can I be aware of a sense-organ without perception. From the percept of a table I can pass to the eye which sees it, or the nerves in the skin which touches it, but what takes place in these I can, in turn, learn only from perception. And then I soon perceive that there is no trace of similarity between the process which takes place in the eye and the color which I see. I cannot get rid of color sensations by pointing to the process which takes place in the eye whilst I perceive a color. No more can I re-discover the color in the nerve- or brain-processes. I only add a new percept, localized within the organism, to the first percept which the naive man localizes outside of his organism. I only pass from one percept to another.

[28] Moreover, there is a break in the whole argument. I can follow the processes in my organism up to those in my brain, even though my assumptions become more and more hypothetical as I approach the central processes of the brain. The method of external observation ceases with the process in my brain, more particularly with the process which I should observe, if I could treat the brain with the instruments and methods of Physics and Chemistry. The method of internal observation, or introspection, begins with the sensations, and includes the construction of things out of the material of sense-data. At the point of transition from brain process to sensation, there is a break in the sequence of observation.

[29] The theory which I have here described, and which calls itself Critical Idealism, in contrast to the standpoint of naive common sense which it calls Naive Realism, makes the mistake of characterizing one group of percepts as ideas, whilst taking another group in the very same sense as the Naive Realism which it apparently refutes. It establishes the ideal character of percepts by accepting naively, as objectively valid facts, the percepts connected with one's own body; and, in addition, it fails to see that it confuses two spheres of observation, between which it can find no connecting link.

4.12 Objective Existence Of Own Organism
[30] Critical Idealism can refute Naive Realism only by itself assuming, in naive-realistic fashion, that one's own organism has objective existence. As soon as the Idealist realizes that the percepts connected with his own organism stand on exactly the same footing as those which Naive Realism assumes to have objective existence, he can no longer use the former as a safe foundation for his theory. He would, to be consistent, have to regard his own organism also as a mere complex of ideas. But this removes the possibility of regarding the content of the perceptual world as a product of the mind's organization. One would have to assume that the idea "color" was only a modification of the idea "eye." So-called Critical Idealism can be established only by borrowing the assumptions of Naive Realism. The apparent refutation of the latter is achieved only by uncritically accepting its own assumptions as valid in another sphere.

[31] This much, then, is certain: Analysis within the world of percepts cannot establish Critical Idealism, and, consequently, cannot strip percepts of their objective character.

[32] Still less is it legitimate to represent the principle that "the perceptual world is my idea" as self-evident and needing no proof. Schopenhauer begins his chief work, The World as Will and Idea, with the words:

"The world is my idea—this is a truth which holds good for everything that lives and knows, though man alone can bring it into reflective and abstract consciousness. If he really does this, he has attained to philosophical wisdom. It then becomes clear and certain to him that what he knows is not a sun and an earth, but only an eye that sees a sun, a hand that feels an earth; that the world which surrounds him is there only in idea, i.e., only in relation to something else, the consciousness which is himself. If any truth can be asserted a priori, it is this: for it is the expression of the most general form of all possible and thinkable experience, a form which is more general than time, or space, or causality, for they all presuppose it. . ." (The World as Will and Idea, Book I, par. I).

This whole theory is wrecked by the fact, already mentioned above, that the eyes and the hand are just as much percepts as the sun and the earth. Using Schopenhauer's vocabulary in his own sense, I might maintain against him that my eye which sees the sun, and my hand which feels the earth, are my ideas just like the sun and the earth themselves. That, put in this way, the whole theory cancels itself, is clear without further argument. For only my real eye and my real hand, but not my ideas "eye" and "hand," could own the ideas "sun" and "earth" as modifications. Yet it is only in terms of these ideas that Critical Idealism has the right to speak.

[33] Critical Idealism is totally unable to gain an insight unto the relation of percept to idea. It cannot make the separation, mentioned on p. 58, between what happens to the percept in the process of perception and what must be inherent in it prior to perception. We must therefore attempt this problem in another way.

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5. OUR KNOWLEDGE OF THE WORLD

5.0 Finding The Concept That Corresponds To The World
[1] FROM the foregoing considerations it follows that it is impossible to prove, by analysis of the content of our perceptions, that our percepts are ideas. This is supposed to be proved by showing that, if the process of perceiving takes place in the way in which we conceive it in accordance with the naive-realistic assumptions concerning the psychological and physiological constitution of human individuals, then we have to do, not with things themselves, but merely with our ideas of things. Now, if Naive Realism, when consistently thought out, leads to results which directly contradict its presuppositions, then these presuppositions must be discarded as unsuitable for the foundation of a theory of the world. In any case, it is inadmissible to reject the presuppositions and yet accept the consequences, as the Critical Idealist does who bases his assertion that the world is my idea on the line of argument indicated above. (Eduard von Hartmann gives in his work Das Grundproblem der Erkenntnistheorie a full account of this line of argument.)

[2] The truth of Critical Idealism is one thing, the persuasiveness of its proofs another. How it stands with the former, will appear later in the course of our argument, but the persuasiveness of its proofs is nil. If one builds a house, and the ground floor collapses whilst the first floor is being built, then the first floor collapses too. Naive Realism and Critical Idealism are related to one another like the ground floor to the first floor in this simile.

[3] For one who holds that the whole perceptual world is only an ideal world, and, moreover, the effect of things unknown to him acting on his soul, the real problem of knowledge is naturally concerned, not with the ideas present only in the soul, but with the things which lie outside his consciousness, and which are independent of him. He asks, How much can we learn about them indirectly, seeing that we cannot observe them directly? From this point of view, he is concerned, not with the connection of his conscious percepts with one another, but with their causes which transcend his consciousness and exist independently of him, whereas the percepts, on his view, disappear as soon as he turns his sense-organs away from the things themselves. Our consciousness, on this view, works like a mirror from which the pictures of definite things disappear the very moment its reflecting surface is not turned towards them. If, now, we do not see the things themselves, but only their reflections, we must obtain knowledge of the nature of the former indirectly by drawing conclusions from the character of the latter. The whole of modern science adopts this point of view, when it uses percepts only as a means of obtaining information about the motions of matter which lie behind them, and which alone really "are." If the philosopher, as Critical Idealist, admits real existence at all, then his sole aim is to gain knowledge of this real existence indirectly by means of his ideas. His interest ignores the subjective world of ideas, and pursues instead the causes of these ideas.

[4] The Critical Idealist can, however, go even further and say, I am confined to the world of my own ideas and cannot escape from it. If I conceive a thing beyond my ideas, this concept, once more, is nothing but my idea. An Idealist of this type will either deny the thing-in-itself entirely or, at any rate, assert that it has no significance for human minds, i.e., that it is as good as non-existent since we can know nothing of it.

[5] To this kind of Critical Idealist the whole world seems a chaotic dream, in the face of which all striving for knowledge is simply meaningless. For him there can be only two sorts of men: (1) victims of the illusion that the dreams they have woven themselves are real things, and (2) wise men who see through the nothingness of this dream world, and who gradually lose all desire to trouble themselves further about it. From this point of view, even one's own personality may become a mere dream phantom. Just as during sleep there appears among my dream-images an image of myself, so in waking consciousness the idea of my own Self is added to the idea of the outer world. I have then given to me in consciousness, not my real Self, but only my idea of my Self. Whoever denies that things exist, or, at least, that we can know anything of them, must also deny the existence, respectively the knowledge, of one's own personality. This is how the Critical Idealist comes to maintain that "All reality transforms itself into a wonderful dream, without a life which is the object of the dream, and without a mind which has the dream; into a dream which is nothing but a dream of itself." (Cp. Fichte, Die Bestimmung des Menschen.)

[6] Whether he who believes that he recognizes immediate experience to be a dream, postulates nothing behind this dream, or whether he relates his ideas to actual things, is immaterial. In both cases life itself must lose all scientific interest for him. However, whereas for those who believe that the whole of accessible reality is exhausted in dreams, all science is an absurdity, for those who feel compelled to argue from ideas to things, science consists in studying these things-in-themselves. The first of these theories of the world may be called Absolute Illusionism, the second is called Transcendental Realism* by its most rigorously logical exponent, Eduard von Hartmann.

[7] These two points of view have this in common with Naive Realism, that they seek to gain a footing in the world by means of an analysis of percepts. Within this sphere, however, they are unable to find any stable point.

5.1 The Awakened State Of Thinking
[8] One of the most important questions for an adherent of Transcendental Realism would have to be, how the Ego constructs the world of ideas out of itself. A world of ideas which was given to us, and which disappeared as soon as we shut our senses to the external world, might provoke an earnest desire for knowledge, in so far as it was a means for investigating indirectly the world of the self-existing Self. If the things of our experience were "ideas," then our everyday life would be like a dream, and the discovery of the true facts like waking. Even our dream-images interest us as long as we dream and, consequently, do not detect their dream character. But as soon as we wake, we no longer look for the connections of our dream-images among themselves, but rather for the physical, physiological, and psychological processes which underlie them. In the same way, a philosopher who holds the world to be his idea, cannot be interested in the reciprocal relations of the details within the world. If he admits the existence of a real Ego at all, then his question will be, not how one of his ideas is associated with another, but what takes place in the Soul which is independent of these ideas, while a certain train of ideas passes through his consciousness. If I dream that I am drinking wine which makes my throat burn, and then wake up with a fit of coughing (cp. Weygandt, Entstehung der Traume, 1893) I cease, the moment I wake, to be interested in the dream-experience for its own sake. My attention is now concerned only with the physiological and psychological processes by means of which the irritation which causes me to cough, comes to be symbolically expressed in the dream. Similarly, once the philosopher is convinced that the given world consists of nothing but ideas, his interest is bound to switch from them at once to the soul which is the reality lying behind them. The matter is more serious, however, for the Illusionist who denies the existence of an Ego behind the "ideas," or at least holds this Ego to be unknowable. We might very easily be led to such a view by the reflection that, in contrast to dreaming, there is the waking state in which we have the opportunity to detect our dreams, and to realize the real relations of things, but that there is no state of the self which is related similarly to our waking conscious life. Every adherent of this view fails entirely to see that there is, in fact, something which is to mere perception what our waking experience is to our dreams. This something is thought.

5.2 Thought That Applies To The World
[9] The naive man cannot be charged with failure to perceive this. He accepts life as it is, and regards things as real just as they present themselves to him in experience. The first step, however, which we take beyond this standpoint can be only this, that we ask how thought is related to perception. It makes no difference whether or no the percept, as given to me, has a continuous existence before and after I perceive it. If I want to assert anything whatever about it, I can do so only with the help of thought. When I assert that the world is my idea, I have enunciated the result of an act of thought, and if my thought is not applicable to the world, then my result is false. Between a percept and every kind of judgment about it there intervenes thought.

5.3 World Connects With Corresponding Concept
[10] The reason why, in our discussion about things, we generally overlook the part played by thought, has already been given above (p. 31). It lies in the fact that our attention is concentrated only on the object about which we think, but not at the same time on the thinking itself. The naive mind, therefore, treats thought as something which has nothing to do with things, but stands altogether aloof from them and makes its theories about them. The theory which the thinker constructs concerning the phenomena of the world is regarded, not as part of the real things, but as existing only in men's heads. The world is complete in itself even without this theory. It is all ready-made and finished with all its substances and forces, and of this ready-made world man makes himself a picture. Whoever thinks thus need only be asked one question. What right have you to declare the world to be complete without thought? Does not the world cause thoughts in the minds of men with the same necessity as it causes the blossoms on plants? Plant a seed in the earth. It puts forth roots and stem, it unfolds into leaves and blossoms. Set the plant before yourselves. It connects itself, in your minds, with a definite concept. Why should this concept belong any less to the whole plant than leaf and blossom? You say the leaves and blossoms exist quite apart from an experiencing subject. The concept appears only when a human being makes an object of the plant. Quite so. But leaves and blossoms also appear on the plant only if there is soil in which the seed can be planted, and light and air in which the blossoms and leaves can unfold. Just so the concept of a plant arises when a thinking being comes into contact with the plant.

5.4 Process Of Growth
[11] It is quite arbitrary to regard the sum of what we experience of a thing through bare perception as a totality, a whole, while that which thought reveals in it is regarded as a mere accretion which has nothing to do with the thing itself. If I am given a rosebud today, the percept that offers itself to me is complete only for the moment. If I put the bud into water, I shall tomorrow get a very different picture of my object. If I watch the rosebud without interruption, I shall see today's state gradually change into tomorrow's through an infinite number of intermediate stages. The picture which presents itself to me at any one moment is only a chance section out of the continuous process of growth in which the object is engaged. If I do not put the bud into water, a whole series of states, the possibility of which lay in the bud, will not be realized. Similarly, I may be prevented tomorrow from watching the blossom further, and thus carry away an incomplete picture of it.

[12] It would be a quite unscientific and arbitrary judgment which declared of any haphazard appearance of a thing, this is the thing.

5.5 Indivisible Existence of Concept With Percept
[13] To regard the sum of perceptual appearances as the thing is no more legitimate. It might be quite possible for a mind to receive the concept at the same time as, and together with, the percept. To such a mind it would never occur that the concept did not belong to the thing. It would have to ascribe to the concept an existence indivisibly bound up with the thing.

[14] Let me make myself clearer by another example. If I throw a stone horizontally through the air, I perceive it in different places at different times. I connect these places so as to form a line. Mathematics teaches me to distinguish various kinds of lines, one of which is the parabola. I know a parabola to be a line which is produced by a point moving according to a certain well-defined law. If I analyze the conditions under which the stone thrown by me moves, I find that the line of its flight is identical with the line I know as a parabola. That the stone moves exactly in a parabola is a result of the given conditions and follows necessarily from them. The form of the parabola belongs to the whole phenomenon as much as any other feature of it. The hypothetical mind described above which has no need of the roundabout way of thought, would find itself presented, not only with a sequence of visual percepts at different points, but, as part and parcel of these phenomena, also with the parabolic form of the line of flight, which we can add to the phenomenon only by an act of thought.

[15] It is not due to the real objects that they appear to us at first without their conceptual sides, but to our mental organization. Our whole organization functions in such a way that in the apprehension of every real thing the relevant elements come to us from two sources, viz., from perception and from thought.

[16] The nature of things is indifferent to the way I am organized for apprehending them. The breach between perception and thought exists only from the moment that I confront objects as spectator. But which elements do, and which do not, belong to the objects, cannot depend on the manner in which I obtain my knowledge of them.

5.6 Isolate And Grasp Single Concepts
[17] Man is a being with many limitations. First of all, he is a thing among other things. His existence is in space and time. Hence but a limited portion of the total universe can ever be given to him. This limited portion, however, is linked up with other parts on every side both in time and in space. If our existence were so linked with things that every process in the object world were also a process in us, there would be no difference between us and things. Neither would there be any individual objects for us. All processes and events would then pass continuously one into the other. The cosmos would be a unity and a whole complete in itself. The stream of events would nowhere be interrupted. But owing to our limitations we perceive as an individual object what, in truth, is not an individual object at all. Nowhere, e.g., is the particular quality "red" to be found by itself in abstraction. It is surrounded on all sides by other qualities to which it belongs, and without which it could not subsist. For us, however, it is necessary to isolate certain sections of the world and to consider them by themselves. Our eye can seize only single colors one after another out of a manifold color-complex, our understanding only single concepts out of a connected conceptual system. This isolation is a subjective act, which is due to the fact that we are not identical with the world-process, but are only things among other things.

5.7 Self Definition Through Thinking
[18] It is of the greatest importance for us to determine the relation of ourselves, as things, to all other things. The determining of this relation must be distinguished from merely becoming conscious of ourselves. For this self-awareness we depend on perception just as we do for our awareness of any other thing. The perception of myself reveals to me a number of qualities which I combine into an apprehension of my personality as a whole, just as I combine the qualities, yellow, metallic, hard, etc., in the unity "gold." This kind of self-consciousness does not take me beyond the sphere of what belongs to me. Hence it must be distinguished from the determination of myself by thought. Just as I determine by thought the place of any single percept of the external world in the whole cosmic system, so I fit by an act of thought what I perceive in myself into the order of the world-process. My self-observation restricts me within definite limits, but my thought has nothing to do with these limits. In this sense I am a two-sided being. I am contained within the sphere which I apprehend as that of my personality, but I am also the possessor of an activity which, from a higher  standpoint, determines my finite existence. Thought is not individual like sensation and feeling; it is universal. It receives an individual stamp in each separate human being only because it comes to be related to his individual feelings and sensations. By means of these particular colorings of the universal thought, individual men are distinguished from one another. There is only one single concept of "triangle." It is quite immaterial for the content of this concept whether it is in A's consciousness or in B's. It will, however, be grasped by each of the two minds in its own individual way.

5.8 In Thinking We Are The All One Being
[19] This thought conflicts with a common prejudice which is very hard to overcome. The victims of this prejudice are unable to see that the concept of a triangle which my mind grasps is the same as the concept which my neighbor's mind grasps. The naive man believes himself to be the creator of his concepts. Hence he believes that each person has his private concepts. One of the first things which philosophic thought requires of us is to overcome this prejudice. The one single concept of "triangle" does not split up into many concepts because it is thought by many minds. For the thought of the many is itself a unity.

[20] In thought we have the element which welds each man's special individuality into one whole with the cosmos. In so far as we sense and feel (perceive), we are isolated individuals; in so far as we think, we are the All-One Being which pervades everything. This is the deeper meaning of our two-sided nature. We are conscious of an absolute principle revealing itself in us, a principle which is universal. But we experience it, not as it issues from the center of the world, but rather at a point on the periphery. Were the former the case, we should know, as soon as ever we became conscious, the solution of the whole world problem. But since we stand at a point on the periphery, and find that our own being is confined within definite limits, we must explore the region which lies beyond our own being with the help of thought, which is the universal cosmic principle manifesting itself in our minds.

[21] The fact that thought, in us, reaches out beyond our separate existence and relates itself to the universal world-order, gives rise to the desire for knowledge in us. Beings without thought do not experience this desire. When they come in contact with other things no questions arise for them. These other things remain external to such beings. But in thinking beings the concept confronts the external thing. It is that part of the thing which we receive not from without, but from within. To assimilate, to unite, the two elements, the inner and the outer, that is the function of knowledge.

[22] The percept, thus, is not something finished and self-contained, but one side only of the total reality. The other side is the concept. The act of cognition is the synthesis of percept and concept. And it is only the union of percept and concept which constitutes the whole thing.

5.9 Will Is Objectified In Action And Known By Thinking
[23] The preceding discussion shows clearly that it is futile to seek for any other common element in the separate things of the world than the ideal content which thinking supplies. All attempts to discover any other principle of unity in the world than this internally coherent ideal content, which we gain for ourselves by the conceptual analysis of our percepts, are bound to fail. Neither a personal God, nor force, nor matter, nor the blind will (of Schopenhauer and Hartmann), can be accepted by us as the universal principle of unity in the world. These principles all belong only to a limited sphere of our experience. Personality we experience only in ourselves, force and matter only in external things. The will, again, can be regarded only as the expression of the activity of our finite personalities. Schopenhauer wants to avoid making "abstract" thought the principle of unity in the world, and seeks instead something which presents itself to him immediately as real. This philosopher holds that we can never solve the riddle of the world so long as we regard it as an "external" world.

"In fact, the meaning for which we seek of that world which is present to us only as our idea, or the transition from the world as mere idea of the knowing subject to whatever it may be besides this, would never be found if the investigator himself were nothing more than the pure knowing subject (a winged cherub without a body). But he himself is rooted in that world: he finds himself in it as an individual, that is to say, his knowledge, which is the necessary supporter of the whole world as idea, is yet always given through the medium of a body, whose affections are, as we have shown, the starting-point for the understanding in the perception of that world. His body is, for the pure knowing subject, an idea like every other idea, an object among objects. Its movements and actions are so far known to him in precisely the same way as the changes of all other perceived objects, and would be just as strange and incomprehensible to him if their meaning were not explained for him in an entirely different way. . . . The body is given in two entirely different ways to the subject of knowledge, who becomes an individual only through his identity with it. It is given as an idea in intelligent perception, as an object among objects and subject to the laws of objects. And it is also given in quite a different way as that which is immediately known to every one, and is signified by the word ' will.' Every true act of his will is also at once and without exception a movement of his body. The act of will and the movement of the body are not two different things objectively known, which the bond of causality unites; they do not stand in the relation of cause and effect; they are one and the same, but they are given in entirely different ways—immediately, and again in perception for the understanding." (The World as Will and Idea, Book 2, § 18.)

Schopenhauer considers himself entitled by these arguments to hold that the will becomes objectified in the human body. He believes that in the activities of the body he has an immediate experience of reality, of the thing-in-itself in the concrete. Against these arguments we must urge that the activities of our body become known to us only through self-observation, and that, as such, they are in no way superior to other percepts. If we want to know their real nature, we can do so only by means of thought, i.e., by fitting them into the ideal system of our concepts and ideas.

5.10 Corresponding Intuition
[24] One of the most deeply rooted prejudices of the naive mind is the opinion that thinking is abstract and empty of any concrete content. At best, we are told, it supplies but an "ideal" counterpart of the unity of the world, but never that unity itself. Whoever holds this view has never made clear to himself what a percept apart from concepts really is. Let us see what this world of bare percepts is. A mere juxtaposition in space, a mere succession in time, a chaos of disconnected particulars—that is what it is. None of these things which come and go on the stage of perception has any connection with any other. The world is a multiplicity of objects without distinctions of value. None plays any greater part in the nexus of the world than any other. In order to realize that this or that fact has a greater importance than another we must go to thought. As long as we do not think, the rudimentary organ of an animal which has no significance in its life, appears equal in value to its more important limbs. The particular facts reveal their meaning, in themselves and in their relations with other parts of the world, only when thought spins its threads from thing to thing. This activity of thinking has always a content. For it is only through a perfectly definite concrete content that I can know why the snail belongs to a lower type of organization than the lion. The mere appearance, the percept, gives me no content which could inform me as to the degree of perfection of the organization.

[25] Thought contributes this content to the percept from the world of concepts and ideas. In contrast with the content of perception which is given to us from without, the content of thought appears within our minds. The form in which thought first appears in consciousness we will call "intuition." Intuition is to thoughts what observation is to percepts. Intuition and observation are the sources of our knowledge. An external object which we observe remains unintelligible to us, until the corresponding intuition arises within us which adds to the reality those sides of it which are lacking in the percept. To anyone who is, incapable of supplying the relevant intuitions, the full nature of the real remains a sealed book. Just as the color-blind person sees only differences of brightness without any color qualities, so the mind which lacks intuition sees only disconnected fragments of percepts.

[26] To explain a thing, to make it intelligible, means nothing else than to place it in the context from which it has been torn by the peculiar organization of our minds, described above. Nothing can possibly exist cut off from the universe. Hence all isolation of objects has only subjective validity for minds organized like ours. For us the universe is split up into above and below, before and after, cause and effect, object and idea, matter and force, object and subject, etc. The objects which, in observation, appear to us as separate, become combined, bit by bit, through the coherent, unified system of our intuitions. By thought we fuse again into one whole all that perception has separated.

[27] An object presents riddles to our understanding so long as it exists in isolation. But this is an abstraction of our own making and can be unmade again in the world of concepts.

5.11 Conceptual Connections Of Percepts
[28] Except through thought and perception nothing is given to us directly. The question now arises as to the interpretation of percepts on our theory. We have learnt that the proof which Critical Idealism offers for the subjective nature of percepts collapses. But the exhibition of the falsity of the proof is not, by itself, sufficient to show that the doctrine itself is an error. Critical Idealism does not base its proof on the absolute nature of thought, but relies on the argument that Naive Realism, when followed to its logical conclusion, contradicts itself. How does the matter appear when we recognize the absoluteness of thought?

[29] Let us assume that a certain percept, e.g., red, appears in consciousness. To continued observation, the percept shows itself to be connected with other percepts, e.g., a certain figure, temperature, and touch-qualities. This complex of percepts I call an object in the world of sense. I can now ask myself: Over and above the percepts just mentioned, what else is there in the section of space in which they are? I shall then find mechanical, chemical, and other processes in that section of space. I next go further and study the processes which take place between the object and my sense-organs. I shall find oscillations in an elastic medium, the character of which has not the least in common with the percepts from which I started. I get the same result if I trace further the connection between sense-organs and brain. In each of these inquiries I gather new percepts, but the connecting thread which binds all these spatially and temporally separated percepts into one whole, is thought. The air vibrations which carry sound are given to me as percepts just like the sound. Thought alone links all these percepts one to the other and exhibits them in their reciprocal relations. We have no right to say that over and above our immediate percepts there is anything except the ideal nexus of percepts (which thought has to reveal). The relation of the object perceived to the perceiving subject, which relation transcends the bare percept, is therefore purely ideal, i.e., capable of being expressed only through concepts. Only if it were possible to perceive how the object of perception affects the perceiving subject, or, alternatively, only if I could watch the construction of the perceptual complex through the subject, could we speak as modern Physiology, and the Critical Idealism which is based on it, speak. Their theory confuses an ideal relation (that of the object to the subject) with a process of which we could speak only if it were possible to perceive it. The proposition, "No color without a color-sensing eye," cannot be taken to mean that the eye produces the color, but only that an ideal relation, recognizable by thought, subsists between the percept "color" and the percept "eye."

To empirical science belongs the task of ascertaining how the properties of the eye and those of the colors are related to one another; by means of what structures the organ of sight makes possible the perception of colors, etc. I can trace how one percept succeeds another and how one is related to others in space, and I can formulate these relations in conceptual terms, but I can never perceive how a percept originates out of the non-perceptible. All attempts to seek any relations between percepts other than conceptual relations must of necessity fail.

5.12 Conceptual Intuition Corresponds To Objective Percept
[30] What then is a percept? This question, asked in this general way, is absurd. A percept appears always as a perfectly determinate, concrete content. This content is immediately given and is completely contained in the given. The only question one can ask concerning the given content is, what it is apart from perception, that is, what it is for thought. The question concerning the "what" of a percept can, therefore, only refer to the conceptual intuition which corresponds to the percept. From this point of view, the problem of the subjectivity of percepts, in the sense in which the Critical Idealists debate it, cannot be raised at all. Only that which is experienced as belonging to the subject can be termed "subjective." To form a link between subject and object is impossible for any real process, in the naive sense of the word "real," in which it means a process which can be perceived. That is possible only for thought. For us, then, "objective" means that which, for perception, presents itself as external to the perceiving subject. As subject of perception I remain perceptible to myself after the table which now stands before me has disappeared from my field of observation. The perception of the table has produced a modification in me which persists like myself. I preserve an image of the table which now forms part of my Self. Modern Psychology terms this image a "memory-idea." Now this is the only thing which has any right to be called the idea of the table. For it is the perceptible modification of my own mental state through the presence of the table in my visual field. Moreover, it does not mean a modification in some "Ego-in-itself" behind the perceiving subject, but the modification of the perceiving subject itself. The idea is, therefore, a subjective percept in contrast with the objective percept which occurs when the object is present in the perceptual field. The false identification of the subjective with this objective percept leads to the misunderstanding of Idealism: The world is my idea.

[31] Our next task must be to define the concept of "idea" more nearly. What we have said about it so far does not give us the concept, but only shows us where in the perceptual field ideas are to be found. The exact concept of "idea" will also make it possible for us to obtain a satisfactory understanding of the relation of idea and object. This will then lead us over the border-line, where the relation of subject to object is brought down from the purely conceptual field of knowledge into concrete individual life. Once we know how we are to conceive the world, it will be an easy task to adapt ourselves to it. Only when we know to what object we are to devote our activity can we put our whole energy into our actions.

* Knowledge is transcendental when it is aware that nothing can be asserted directly about the thing-in-itself but makes indirect inferences from the subjective which is known to the unknown which lies beyond the subjective (transcendental). The thing-in-itself is, according to this view, beyond the sphere of the world of immediate experience; in other words, it is transcendent. Our world can, however, be transcendentally related to the transcendent. Hartmann's theory is called Realism because it proceeds from the subjective, the mental, to the transcendent, the real.

Addition to the Revised Edition (1918)
[1] The view which I have here outlined may be regarded as one to which man is led as it were spontaneously, as soon as he begins to reflect about his relation to the world. He then finds himself caught in a system of thoughts which dissolves for him as fast as he frames it. The thoughts which form this system are such that the purely theoretical refutation of them does not exhaust our task. We have to live through them, in order to understand the confusion into which they lead us, and to find the way out. They must figure in any discussion of the relation of man to the world, not for the sake of refuting others whom one believes to be holding mistaken views about this relation, but because it is necessary to understand the confusion in which all first efforts at reflection about such a relation are apt to issue. One needs to learn by experience how to refute oneself with respect to these first reflections. This is the point of view from which the arguments of the preceding chapter are to be understood.

[2] Whoever tries to work out for himself a theory of the relation of man to the world, becomes aware of the fact that he creates this relation, at least in part, by forming ideas about the things and events in the world. In consequence, his attention is deflected from what exists outside in the world and directed towards his inner world, the realm of his ideas. He begins to say to himself, it is impossible for me to stand in relation to any thing or event, unless an idea appears in me. From this fact, once noticed, it is but a step to the theory: all that I experience is only my ideas; of the existence of a world outside I know only in so far as it is an idea in me. With this theory, man abandons the stand point of Naive Realism which he occupies prior to all reflection about his relation to the world. So long as he stands there, he believes that he is dealing with real things, but reflection about himself drives him away from this position. Reflection does not reveal to his gaze a real world such as naive consciousness claims to have before it. Reflection reveals to him only his ideas; they interpose themselves between his own nature and a supposedly real world, such as the naive point of view confidently affirms. The interposition of the world of ideas prevents man from perceiving any longer such a real world. He must suppose that he is blind to such a reality. Thus arises the concept of a "thing-in-itself" which is inaccessible to knowledge.

So long as we consider only the relation to the world into which man appears to enter through the stream of his ideas, we can hardly avoid framing this type of theory. Yet we cannot remain at the point of view of Naive Realism except at the price of closing our minds artificially to the desire for knowledge. The existence of this desire for knowledge about the relation of man to the world proves that the naive point of view must be abandoned. If the naive point of view yielded anything which we could acknowledge as truth, we could not experience this desire.

But mere abandonment of the naive point of view does not lead to any other view which we could regard as true, so long as we retain, without noticing it, the type of theory which the naive point of view imposes on us. This is the mistake made by the man who says, I experience only my ideas, and though I think that I am dealing with real things, I am actually conscious of nothing but my ideas of real things. I must, therefore, suppose that genuine realities, "things-in-themselves," exist only outside the boundary of my consciousness; that they are inaccessible to my immediate knowledge; but that they somehow come into contact with me and influence me so as to make a world of ideas arise in me. Whoever thinks thus, duplicates in thought the world before him by adding another. But, strictly he ought to begin his whole theorizing over again with regard to this second world. For the unknown "thing-in-itself," in its relation to man's own nature, is conceived in exactly the same way as is the known thing of the naively realistic point of view.

There is only one way of escaping from the confusion into which one falls, by critical reflection on this naive point of view. This is to observe that, at the very heart of everything we can experience, be it within the mind or outside in the world of perception, there is something, which does not share the fate of an idea inter posing itself between the real event and the contemplating mind. This something is thinking. With regard to thinking we can maintain the point of view of Naive Realism. If we mistakenly abandon it, it is only because we have learnt that we must abandon it for other mental activities, but overlook that what we have found to be true for other activities, does not apply to thinking. When we realize this, we gain access to the further insight that, in thinking and through thinking, man necessarily comes to know the very thing to which he appears to blind himself by interposing between the world and himself the stream of his ideas.

A critic highly esteemed by the author of this book has objected that this discussion of thinking stops at a naively realistic theory of thinking, as shown by the fact that the real world and the world of ideas are held to be identical. However, the author believes himself to have shown in this very discussion that the validity of "Naive Realism," as applied to thinking, results inevitably from an unprejudiced study of thinking; and that Naive Realism, in so far as it is invalid for other mental activities, is overcome through the recognition of the true nature of thinking.

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6. HUMAN INDIVIDUALITY

6.0 Corresponding Concept Relates Self To The World
[1] PHILOSOPHERS have found the chief difficulty in the explanation of ideas in the fact that we are not identical with the external objects, and yet our ideas must have a form corresponding to their objects. But on closer inspection it turns out that this difficulty does not really exist. We certainly are not identical with the external things, but we belong together with them to one and the same world. The stream of the universal cosmic process passes through that segment of the world which, to my perception, is myself as subject. So far as my perception goes, I am, in the first instance, confined within the limits bounded by my skin. But all that is contained within the skin belongs to the cosmos as a whole. Hence, for a relation to subsist between my organism and an object external to me, it is by no means necessary that something of the object should slip into me, or make an impression on my mind, like a signet ring on wax. The question, How do I gain knowledge of that tree ten feet away from me, is utterly misleading. It springs from the view that the boundaries of my body are absolute barriers, through which information about external things filters into me. The forces which are active within my body are the same as those which exist outside. I am, therefore, really identical with the objects; not, however, I in so far as I am subject of perception, but I in so far as I am a part within the universal cosmic process. The percept of the tree belongs to the same whole as my Self. The universal cosmic process produces alike, here the percept of the tree, and there the percept of my Self. Were I a world-creator instead of a world-knower, subject and object (percept and self) would originate in one act. For they condition one another reciprocally. As world-knower I can discover the common element in both, so far as they are complementary aspects of the world, only through thought which by means of concepts relates the one to the other.

6.1 Sense Perception Of Motion
[2] The most difficult to drive from the field are the so-called physiological proofs of the subjectivity of our percepts. When I exert pressure on the skin of my body, I experience it as a pressure sensation. This same pressure can be sensed as light by the eye, as sound by the ear. I experience an electrical shock by the eye as light, by the ear as sound, by the nerves of the skin as touch, and by the nose as a smell of phosphorus. What follows from these facts? Only this: I experience an electrical shock, or, as the case may be, a pressure followed by a light, or a sound, or, it may be, a certain smell, etc. If there were no eye present, then no light quality would accompany the perception of the mechanical vibrations in my environment; without the presence of the ear, no sound, etc. But what right have we to say that in the absence of sense-organs the whole process would not exist at all? All those who, from the fact that an electrical process causes a sensation of light in the eye, conclude that what we sense as light is only a mechanical process of motion, forget that they are only arguing from one percept to another, and not at all to something altogether transcending percepts. Just as we can say that the eye perceives a mechanical process of motion in its surroundings as light, so we can affirm that every change in an object, determined by natural law, is perceived by us as a process of motion. If I draw twelve pictures of a horse on the circumference of a rotating disc, reproducing exactly the positions which the horse's body successively assumes in movement, I can, by rotating the disc, produce the illusion of movement. I need only look through an opening in such a way that, at regular intervals, I perceive the successive positions of the horse. I perceive, not separate pictures of twelve horses, but one picture of a single galloping horse.

[3] The above-mentioned physiological facts cannot, therefore, throw any light on the relation of percept to idea. Hence, we must seek a relation some other way.

6.2 Idea: Intuition Related To A Percept
[4] The moment a percept appears in my field of consciousness, thought, too, becomes active in me. A member of my thought-system, a definite intuition, a concept, connects itself with the percept. When, next, the percept disappears from my field of vision, what remains? The intuition, with the reference to the particular percept which it acquired in the moment of perception. The degree of vividness with which I can subsequently recall this reference depends on the manner in which my mental and bodily organism is working. An idea is nothing but an intuition related to a particular percept; it is a concept which was once connected with a certain percept, and which retains this reference to the percept. My concept of a lion is not constructed out of my percepts of a lion; but my idea of a lion is formed under the guidance of the percepts. I can teach someone to form the concept of a lion without his ever having seen a lion, but I can never give him a living idea of it without the help of his own perception.

6.3 Idea: Individualized Concept
[5] An idea is therefore nothing but an individualized concept. And now we can see how real objects can be represented to us by ideas. The full reality of a thing is present to us in the moment of observation through the combination of concept and percept. The concept acquires by means of the percept an individualized form, a relation to this particular percept. In this individualized form which carries with it, as an essential feature, the reference to the percept, it continues to exist in us and constitutes the idea of the thing in question. If we come across a second thing with which the same concept connects itself, we recognize the second as being of the same kind as the first; if we come across the same thing twice, we find in our conceptual system, not merely a corresponding concept, but the individualized concept with its characteristic relation to this same object, and thus we recognize the object again.

[6] The idea, then, stands between the percept and the concept. It is the determinate concept which points to the percept.

6.4 Idea: Acquired Experience
[7] The sum of my ideas may be called my experience. The man who has the greater number of individualized concepts will be the man of richer experience. A man who lacks all power of intuition is not capable of acquiring experience. The objects simply disappear again from the field of his consciousness, because he lacks the concepts which he ought to bring into relation with them. On the other hand, a man whose faculty of thought is well developed, but whose perception functions badly owing to his clumsy sense-organs, will be no better able to gain experience. He can, it is true, by one means and another acquire concepts; but the living reference to particular objects is lacking to his intuitions. The unthinking traveler and the student absorbed in abstract conceptual systems are alike incapable of acquiring a rich experience.

6.5 Idea: Subjective Representation Of Reality
[8] Reality presents itself to us as the union of percept and concept; and the subjective representation of this reality presents itself to us as idea.

[9] If our personality expressed itself only in cognition, the totality of all that is objective would be contained in percept, concept and idea.

6.6 Refer Percepts To Feelings
[10] However, we are not satisfied merely to refer percepts, by means of thinking, to concepts, but we relate them also to our private subjectivity, our individual Ego. The expression of this relation to us as individuals is feeling, which manifests itself as pleasure and pain.

6.7 Two-Fold Nature: Thinking And Feeling
[11] Thinking and feeling correspond to the two-fold nature of our being to which reference has already been made. By means of thought we take an active part in the universal cosmic process. By means of feeling we withdraw ourselves into the narrow precincts of our own being.

[12] Thought links us to the world; feeling leads us back into ourselves and thus makes us individuals. Were we merely thinking and perceiving beings, our whole life would flow along in monotonous indifference. Could we only know ourselves as Selves, we should be totally indifferent to ourselves. It is only because with self-knowledge we experience self-feeling, and with the perception of objects pleasure and pain, that we live as individuals whose existence is not exhausted by the conceptual relations in which they stand to the rest of the world, but who have a special value in themselves.

[13] One might be tempted to regard the life of feeling as something more richly saturated with reality than the apprehension of the world by thought. But the reply to this is that the life of feeling, after all, has this richer meaning only for my individual self. For the universe as a whole my feelings can be of value only if, as percepts of myself, they enter into connection with a concept and in this roundabout way become links in the cosmos.

6.8 True Individuality
[14] Our life is a continual oscillation between our share in the universal world-process and our own individual existence. The farther we ascend into the universal nature of thought where the individual, at last, interests us only as an example, an instance, of the concept, the more the character of something individual, of the quite determinate, unique personality, becomes lost in us. The farther we descend into the depths of our own private life and allow the vibrations of our feelings to accompany all our experiences of the outer world, the more we cut ourselves off from the universal life. True individuality belongs to him whose feelings reach up to the farthest possible extent into the region of the ideal. There are men in whom even the most general ideas still bear that peculiar personal tinge which shows unmistakably their connection with their author. There are others whose concepts come before us as devoid of any trace of individual coloring as if they had not been produced by a being of flesh and blood at all.

6.9 Point Of View
[15] Even ideas give to our conceptual life an individual stamp. Each one of us has his special standpoint from which he looks out on the world. His concepts link themselves to his percepts. He has his own special way of forming general concepts. This special character results for each of us from his special standpoint in the world, from the way in which the range of his percepts is dependent on the place in the whole where he exists. The conditions of individuality here indicated, we call the milieu.

6.10 Intensity Of Feelings
[16] This special character of our experience must be distinguished from another which depends on our peculiar organization. Each of us, as we know, is organized as a unique, fully determined individual. Each of us combines special feelings, and these in the most varying degrees of intensity, with his percepts. This is just the individual element in the personality of each of us. It is what remains over when we have allowed fully for all the determining factors in our milieu.

6.11 Education Of Feelings
[17] A life of feeling, wholly devoid of thought, would gradually lose all connection with the world. But man is meant to be a whole, and knowledge of objects will go hand-in-hand for him with the development and education of the feeling-side of his nature.

6.12 Living Concepts
[18] Feeling is the means whereby, in the first instance, concepts gain concrete life.

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The Philosophy Of Freedom
by Rudolf Steiner
 (revised in 1918)
1922 Hoernle translation
(The Philosophy Of Spiritual Activity)
PART I : THEORY
The Theory of Freedom


0. 1918 PREFACE TO THE REVISED EDITION
1. CONSCIOUS HUMAN ACTION
2. WHY THE DESIRE FOR KNOWLEDGE IS FUNDAMENTAL
3. THOUGHT AS THE INSTRUMENT OF KNOWLEDGE
4. THE WORLD AS PERCEPT
5. OUR KNOWLEDGE OF THE WORLD
6. HUMAN INDIVIDUALITY
7. ARE THERE ANY LIMITS TO KNOWLEDGE?
PART II : PRACTICE
The Reality of Freedom


8. THE FACTORS OF LIFE
9. THE IDEA OF FREEDOM
10. MONISM AND THE PHILOSOPHY OF SPIRITUAL ACTIVITY
11. WORLD PURPOSE AND LIFE PURPOSE (The Destiny  Of Man)
12. MORAL IMAGINATION (Darwin and Morality)
13. THE VALUE OF LIFE (Optimism and Pessimism)
14. THE INDIVIDUAL AND THE GENUS
15. THE CONSEQUENCES OF MONISM

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REVISED INTRODUCTION TO “PHILOSOPHY OF FREEDOM”

0.0 Impulse Of Freedom
[1] I BELIEVE I am indicating correctly one of the fundamental characteristics of our age when I say that, at the present day, all human interests tend to centre in the cult of human individuality. An energetic effort is being made to shake off every kind of authority. Nothing is accepted as valid, unless it springs from the roots of individuality. Everything which hinders the individual in the full development of his powers is thrust aside. The saying “Each one of us must choose his hero in whose footsteps he toils up to Olympus” no longer holds for us. We allow no ideals to be forced upon us. We are convinced that in each of us, if only we probe deep enough into the very heart of our being, there dwells something noble, something worthy of development. We no longer believe that there is a norm of human life to which we must all strive to conform. We regard the perfection of the whole as depending on the unique perfection of each single individual. We do not want to do what anyone else can do equally well. No, our contribution to the development of the world, however trifling, must be something which, by reason of the uniqueness of our nature, we alone can offer. Never have artists been less concerned about rules and norms in art than today. Each of them asserts his right to express, in the creations of his art, what is unique in him. There are dramatists who write in dialect rather than conform to the standard diction which grammar demands.

[2] No better expression for these phenomena can be found than this, that they result from the individual’s striving towards freedom, developed to its highest pitch. We do not want to be dependent in any respect, and where dependence must be, we tolerate it only on condition that it coincides with a vital interest of our individuality.

THE following chapter reproduces, in all essentials, the pages which stood as a sort of "Introduction" in the first edition of this book. Inasmuch as it rather reflects the mood out of which I composed this book twenty-five years ago, than has any direct bearing on its contents, I print it here as an "Appendix." I do not want to omit it altogether, because the suggestion keeps cropping up that I want to suppress some of my earlier writings on account of my later works on spiritual matters. 

0.1 Inner Truth Gives Conviction
[3] Our age is one which is unwilling to seek truth anywhere but in the depths of human nature.*

* Only the very first opening sentences (in the first edition) of this argument have been altogether omitted here, because they seem to me today wholly irrelevant. But the rest of the chapter seems to me even today relevant and necessary, in spite, nay, because, of the scientific bias of contemporary thought.

Of the following two well-known paths described by Schiller, it is the second which will today be found most useful:

Wahrheit suchen wir beide, du aussen im Leben, ich innen
In dem Herzen, und so findet sie jeder gewiss.
Ist das Auge gesund, so begegnet es aussen dem Schopfer;
Ist es das Herz, dann gewiss spiegelt es innen die Welt.

Truth seek we both — Thou in the life without thee and around;
I in the heart within. By both can Truth alike be found.
The healthy eye can through the world the great Creator track;
The healthy heart is but the glass which gives Creation back.
Bulwer

A truth which comes to us from without bears ever the stamp of uncertainty. Conviction attaches only to what appears as truth to each of us in our own hearts. 

0.2 Truth Empowers
[4] Truth alone can give us confidence in developing our powers. He who is tortured by doubts finds his powers lamed. In a world the riddle of which baffles him, he can find no aim for his activity.

0.3 Comprehensible Truth
[5] We no longer want to believe; we want to know. Belief demands the acceptance of truths which we do not wholly comprehend. But the individuality which seeks to experience everything in the depths of its own being, is repelled by what it cannot understand. Only that knowledge will satisfy us which springs from the inner life of the personality, and submits itself to no external norm.

0.4 Knowledge Starting From Individual Experience
[6] Again, we do not want any knowledge which has encased itself once and for all in hidebound formulas, and which is preserved in Encyclopedias valid for all time. Each of us claims the right to start from the facts that lie nearest to hand, from his own immediate experiences, and thence to ascend to a knowledge of the whole universe. We strive after certainty in knowledge, but each in his own way.

0.5 Individual Need To Know
[7] Our scientific theories, too, are no longer to be formulated as if we were unconditionally compelled to accept them. None of us would wish to give a scientific work a title like Fichte's “A Pellucid Account for the General Public concerning the Real Nature of the Newest Philosophy. An Attempt to Compel the Readers to Understand.” Nowadays there is no attempt to compel anyone to understand. We claim no agreement from anyone whom a distinct individual need does not drive to a certain view. We do not seek nowadays to cram facts of knowledge even into the immature human being, the child. We seek rather to develop his faculties in such a way that his understanding may depend no longer on our compulsion, but on his will.

0.6 Strive To Live According To Individualistic Principles
I am under no illusion concerning the characteristics of the present age. I know how many flaunt a manner of life which lacks all individuality and follows only the prevailing fashion. But I know also that many of my contemporaries strive to order their lives in the direction of the principles I have indicated. To them I would dedicate this book. It does not pretend to offer the "only possible" way to Truth, it only describes the path chosen by one whose heart is set upon Truth.

0.7 Thought Training In Pure Thinking
[8] The reader will be led at first into somewhat abstract regions, where thought must draw sharp outlines, if it is to reach secure conclusions. But he will also be led out of these arid concepts into concrete life. I am fully convinced that one cannot do without soaring into the ethereal realm of abstraction, if one's experience is to penetrate life in all directions. He who is limited to the pleasures of the senses misses the sweetest enjoyments of life. The Oriental sages make their disciples live for years a life of resignation and asceticism before they impart to them their own wisdom. The Western world no longer demands pious exercises and ascetic practices as a preparation for science, but it does require a sincere willingness to withdraw oneself awhile from the immediate impressions of life, and to betake oneself into the realm of pure thought.

0.8 Holistic Science Leading To Fullness Of Life
[9] The spheres of life are many and for each there develops a special science. But life itself is one, and the more the sciences strive to penetrate deeply into their separate spheres, the more they withdraw themselves from the vision of the world as a living whole. There must be one supreme science which seeks in the separate sciences the elements for leading men back once more to the fullness of life. The scientific specialist seeks in his studies to gain a knowledge of the world and its workings. This book has a philosophical aim: science itself is here infused with the life of an organic whole. The special sciences are stages on the way to this all-inclusive science. A similar relation is found in the arts. The composer in his work employs the rules of the theory of composition. This latter is an accumulation of principles, knowledge of which is a necessary presupposition for composing. In the act of composing, the rules of theory become the servants of life, of reality. In exactly the same way philosophy is an art. All genuine philosophers have been artists in concepts. Human ideas have been the medium of their art, and scientific method their artistic technique. Abstract thinking thus gains concrete individual life. Ideas turn into life-forces. We have no longer merely a knowledge about things, but we have now made knowledge a real, self-determining organism. Our consciousness, alive and active, has risen beyond a mere passive reception of truths.

0.9 The Principle Question Is Freedom
[10] How philosophy, as an art, is related to freedom; what freedom is; and whether we do, or can, participate in it — these are the principal problems of my book. All other scientific discussions are put in only because they ultimately throw light on these questions which are, in my opinion, the most intimate that concern mankind. These pages offer a "Philosophy of Freedom."

0.10 Value Of Science Is Human Development
[11] All science would be nothing but the satisfaction of idle curiosity did it not strive to enhance the existential value of human personality. The true value of the sciences is seen only when we are shown the importance of their results for humanity. The final aim of an individuality can never be the cultivation of any single faculty, but only the development of all capacities which slumber within us. Knowledge has value only in so far as it contributes to the all-round unfolding of the whole nature of man.

0.11 Ideas To Serve Human Goals
[12] This book, therefore, does not conceive the relation between science and life in such a way that man must bow down before the world of ideas and devote his powers to its service. On the contrary, it shows that he takes possession of the world of ideas in order to use them for his human aims, which transcend those of mere science.

0.12 Master Over Ideas
[13] Man must confront ideas as master, lest he become their slave.

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0. 1918 PREFACE TO THE REVISED EDITION

THERE are two fundamental problems in the life of the human mind, to one or other of which everything belongs that is to be discussed in this book. One of these problems concerns the possibility of attaining to such a view of the essential nature of man as will serve as a support for whatever else comes into his life by way of experience or of science, and yet is subject to the suspicion of having no support in itself and of being liable to be driven, by doubt and criticism, into the limbo of uncertainties. The other problem is this: Is man, as voluntary agent, entitled to attribute freedom to himself, or is freedom a mere illusion begotten of his inability to recognise the threads of necessity on which his volition, like any natural event, depends? It is no artificial tissue of theories which provokes this question. In a certain mood it presents itself quite naturally to the human mind. And it is easy to feel that a mind lacks something of its full stature which has never once confronted with the utmost seriousness of inquiry the two possibilities: freedom or necessity.

This book is intended to show that the spiritual experiences which the second problem causes man to undergo, depend upon the position he is able to take up towards the first problem. An attempt will be made to prove that there is a view concerning the essential nature of man which can support the rest of knowledge; and, further, an attempt to point out how with this view we gain a complete justification for the idea of free will, provided only that we have first discovered that region of the mind in which free volition can unfold itself.

The view to which we here refer is one which, once gained, is capable of becoming part and parcel of the very life of the mind itself. The answer given to the two problems will not be of the purely theoretical sort which, once mastered, may be carried about as a mere piece of memory-knowledge. Such an answer would, for the whole manner of thinking adopted in this book, be no real answer at all. The book will not give a finished and complete answer of this sort, but point to a field of spiritual experience in which man's own inward spiritual activity supplies a living answer to these questions, as often as he needs one. Whoever has once discovered the region of the mind where these questions arise, will find precisely in his actual acquaintance with this region all that he needs for the solution of his two problems. With the knowledge thus acquired he may then, as desire or fate dictate, adventure further into the breadths and depths of this unfathomable life of ours. Thus it would appear that there is a kind of knowledge which proves its justification and validity by its own inner life as well as by the kinship of its own life with the whole life of the human mind.

This is how I conceived the contents of this book when I first wrote it twenty-five years ago. Today, once again, I have to set down similar sentences if I am to characterise the leading thoughts of my book. At the original writing I contented myself with saying no more than was in the strictest sense connected with the fundamental problems which I have outlined. If anyone should be astonished at not finding in this book as yet any reference to that region of the world of spiritual experience of which I have given an account in my later writings, I would ask him to bear in mind that it was not my purpose at that time to set down the results of spiritual research, but first to lay the foundations on which such results can rest. The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity contains no special results of this spiritual sort, as little as it contains special results of the natural sciences. But what it does contain is, in my judgment, indispensable for anyone who desires a secure foundation for such knowledge. What I have said in this book may be acceptable even to some who, for reasons of their own, refuse to have anything to do with the results of my researches into the Spiritual Realm. But anyone who finds something to attract him in my inquiries into the Spiritual Realm may well appreciate the importance of what I was here trying to do. It is this: to show that open-minded consideration simply of the two problems which I have indicated and which are fundamental for all knowledge, leads to the view that man lives in the midst of a genuine Spiritual World. The aim of this book is to demonstrate, prior to our entry upon spiritual experience, that knowledge of the Spiritual World is a fact. This demonstration is so conducted that it is never necessary, in order to accept the present arguments, to cast furtive glances at the experiences on which I have dwelt in my later writings. All that is necessary is that the reader should be willing and able to adapt himself to the manner of the present discussions.

Thus it seems to me that in one sense this book occupies a position completely independent of my writings on strictly spiritual matters. Yet in another sense it seems to be most intimately connected with them. These considerations have moved me now, after a lapse of twenty-five years, to re-publish the contents of this book in the main without essential alterations. I have only made additions of some length to a number of chapters. The misunderstandings of my argument with which I have met seemed to make these more detailed elaborations necessary. Actual changes of text have been made by me only where it seemed to me now that I had said clumsily what I meant to say a quarter of a century ago. (Only malice could find in these changes occasion to suggest that I have changed my fundamental conviction.)

For many years my book has been out of print. In spite of the fact, which is apparent from what I have just said, that my utterances of twenty-five years ago about these problems still seem to me just as relevant today, I hesitated a long time about the completion of this revised edition. Again and again I have asked myself whether I ought not, at this point or that, to define my position towards the numerous philosophical theories which have been put forward since the publication of the first edition. Yet my preoccupation in recent years with researches into the purely Spiritual Realm prevented my doing as I could have wished. However, a survey, as thorough as I could make it, of the philosophical literature of the present day has convinced me that such a critical discussion, alluring though it would be in itself, would be out of place in the context of what my book has to say. All that, from the point of view of the Philosophy of Spiritual Activity, it seemed to me necessary to say about recent philosophical tendencies may be found in the second volume of my Riddles of Philosophy.


RUDOLF STEINER.
April 1918.

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1. CONSCIOUS HUMAN ACTION

1.0 The Question Of Freedom
[1] IS man free in action and thought, or is he bound by an iron necessity? There are few questions on which so much ingenuity has been expended. The idea of freedom has found enthusiastic supporters and stubborn opponents in plenty. There are those who, in their moral fervor, label anyone a man of limited intelligence who can deny so patent a fact as freedom. Opposed to them are others who regard it as the acme of unscientific thinking for anyone to believe that the uniformity of natural law is broken in the sphere of human action and thought. One and the same thing is thus proclaimed, now as the most precious possession of humanity, now as its most fatal illusion. Infinite subtlety has been employed to explain how human freedom can be consistent with determinism in nature of which man, after all, is a part. Others have been at no less pains to explain how such a delusion as this could have arisen. That we are dealing here with one of the most important questions for life, religion, conduct, science, must be clear to every one whose most prominent trait of character is not the reverse of thoroughness.

1.1 Freedom Of Indifferent Choice
It is one of the sad signs of the superficiality of present-day thought, that a book which attempts to develop a new faith out of the results of recent scientific research (David Friedrich Strauss, Der alte und neue Glaube), has nothing more to say on this question than these words: 

"With the question of the freedom of the human will we are not concerned. The alleged freedom of indifferent choice has been recognized as an empty illusion by every philosophy worthy of the name. The determination of the moral value of human conduct and character remains untouched by this problem."

It is not because I consider that the book in which it occurs has any special importance that I quote this passage, but because it seems to me to express the only view to which the thought of the majority of our contemporaries is able to rise in this matter. Every one who has grown beyond the kindergarten-stage of science appears to know nowadays that freedom cannot consist in choosing, at one's pleasure, one or other of two possible courses of action. There is always, so we are told, a perfectly definite reason why, out of several possible actions, we carry out just one and no other.

1.2 Freedom Of Choice
[2] This seems quite obvious. Nevertheless, down to the present day, the main attacks of the opponents of freedom are directed only against freedom of choice. Even Herbert Spencer, in fact, whose doctrines are gaining ground daily, says,

"That every one is at liberty to desire or not to desire, which is the real proposition involved in the dogma of free will, is negatived as much by the analysis of consciousness, as by the contents of the preceding chapters" (The Principles of Psychology, Part IV, chap, ix, par. 219).

1.3 Free Necessity Of One's Nature
Others, too, start from the same point of view in combating the concept of free will. The germs of all the relevant arguments are to be found as early as Spinoza. All that he brought forward in clear and simple language against the idea of freedom has since been repeated times without number, but as a rule enveloped in the most sophisticated arguments, so that it is difficult to recognize the straightforward train of thought which is alone in question. Spinoza writes in a letter of October or November, 1674,

"I call a thing free which exists and acts from the pure necessity of its nature, and I call that unfree, of which the being and action are precisely and fixedly determined by something else. Thus, e.g., God, though necessary, is free because he exists only through the necessity of his own nature. Similarly, God knows himself and all else as free, because it follows solely from the necessity of his nature that he knows all. You see, therefore, that for me freedom consists not in free decision, but in free necessity.

[3] But let us come down to created things which are all determined by external causes to exist and to act in a fixed and definite manner. To perceive this more clearly, let us imagine a perfectly simple case. A stone, for example, receives from an external cause acting upon it a certain quantity of motion, by reason of which it necessarily continues to move, after the impact of the external cause has ceased. The continued motion of the stone is due to compulsion, not to the necessity of its own nature, because it requires to be defined by the impact of an external cause. What is true here for the stone is true also for every other particular thing, however complicated and many-sided it may be, namely, that everything is necessarily determined by external causes to exist and to act in a fixed and definite manner.

[4] Now, pray, assume that this stone during its motion thinks and knows that it is striving to the best of its power to continue in motion. This stone which is conscious only of its striving and is by no means indifferent, will believe that it is absolutely free, and that it continues in motion for no other reason than its own will to continue. Now this is that human freedom which everybody claims to possess and which consists in nothing but this, that men are conscious of their desires, but ignorant of the causes by which they are determined. Thus the child believes that he desires milk of his own free will, the angry boy regards his desire for vengeance as free, and the coward his desire for flight. Again, the drunken man believes that he says of his own free will what, sober again, he would fain have left unsaid, and as this prejudice is innate in all men, it is difficult to free oneself from it. For, although experience teaches us often enough that man least of all can temper his desires, and that, moved by conflicting passions, he perceives the better and pursues the worse, yet he considers himself free because there are some things which he desires less strongly, and some desires which he can easily inhibit through the recollection of something else which it is often possible to recall."

[5] It is easy to detect the fundamental error of this view, because it is so clearly and definitely expressed. The same necessity by which a stone makes a definite movement as the result of an impact, is said to compel a man to carry out an action when impelled thereto by any cause. It is only because man is conscious of his action, that he thinks himself to be its originator. In doing so, he overlooks the fact that he is driven by a cause which he must obey unconditionally. The error in this train of thought is easily brought to light. Spinoza, and all who think like him, overlook the fact that man not only is conscious of his action, but also may become conscious of the cause which guides him. Anyone can see that a child is not free when he desires milk, nor the drunken man when he says things which he later regrets. Neither knows anything of the causes, working deep within their organisms, which exercise irresistible control over them. But is it justifiable to lump together actions of this kind with those in which a man is conscious not only of his actions but also of their causes? Are the actions of men really all of one kind? Should the act of a soldier on the field of battle, of the scientific researcher in his laboratory, of the statesman in the most complicated diplomatic negotiations, be placed on the same level with that of the child when he desires milk? It is, no doubt, true that it is best to seek the solution of a problem where the conditions are simplest. But lack of ability to see distinctions has before now caused endless confusion. There is, after all, a profound difference between knowing the motive of my action and not knowing it. At first sight this seems a self-evident truth. And yet the opponents of freedom never ask themselves whether a motive of action which I recognize and understand, is to be regarded as compulsory for me in the same sense as the organic process which causes the child to cry for milk.

1.4 Free From External Influences
[6] Eduard von Hartmann, in his Phanomenologie des Sittlichen Bewusstseins (p. 451), asserts that the human will depends on two chief factors, the motives and the character. If one regards men as all alike, or at any rate the differences between them as negligible, then their will appears as determined from without, viz., by the circumstances with which they come in contact. But if one bears in mind that men adopt an idea as the motive of their conduct, only if their character is such that this idea arouses a desire in them, then men appear as determined from within and not from without. Now, because an idea, given to us from without, must first in accordance with our characters be adopted as a motive, men believe that they are free, i.e., independent of external influences. The truth, however, according to Eduard von Hartmann, is that

"even though we must first adopt an idea as a motive, we do so not arbitrarily, but according to the disposition of our characters, that is, we are anything but free."

Here again the difference between motives, which I allow to influence me only after I have consciously made them my own, and those which I follow without any clear knowledge of them, is absolutely ignored.

1.5 Action Resulting From Conscious Motive
[7] This leads us straight to the standpoint from which the subject will be treated here. Have we any right to consider the question of the freedom of the will by itself at all? And if not, with what other question must it necessarily be connected?

[8] If there is a difference between conscious and unconscious motives of action, then the action in which the former issue should be judged differently from the action which springs from blind impulse. Hence our first question will concern this difference, and on the result of this inquiry will depend what attitude we ought to take up towards the question of freedom proper.

[9] What does it mean to have knowledge of the motives of one's actions? Too little attention has been paid to this question, because, unfortunately, man who is an indivisible whole has always been torn asunder by us. The agent has been divorced from the knower, whilst he who matters more than everything else, viz., the man who acts because he knows, has been utterly overlooked.

1.6 Free When Controlled By Reason
[10] It is said that man is free when he is controlled only by his reason, and not by his animal passions. Or, again, that to be free means to be able to determine one's life and action by purposes and deliberate decisions.

[11] Nothing is gained by assertions of this sort. For the question is just whether reason, purposes, and decisions exercise the same kind of compulsion over a man as his animal passions. If, without my doing, a rational decision occurs in me with the same necessity with which hunger and thirst happen to me, then I must needs obey it, and my freedom is an illusion.

1.7 Free To Do As One Wants
[12] Another form of expression runs: to be free means, not that we can will what we will, but that we can do what we will. This thought has been expressed with great clearness by the poet-philosopher Robert Hamerling in his Atomistik des Willens.

"Man can, it is true, do what he wills, but he cannot will what he wills, because his will is determined by motives! He cannot will what he wills? Let us consider these phrases more closely. Have they any intelligible meaning? Does freedom of will, then, mean being able to will without ground, without motive? What does willing mean if not to have grounds for doing, or striving to do, this rather than that? To will anything without ground or motive would mean to will something without willing it. The concept of motive is indissolubly bound up with that of will. Without the determining motive the will is an empty faculty; it is the motive which makes it active and real. It is, therefore, quite true that the human will is not 'free,' inasmuch as its direction is always determined by the strongest motive. But, on the other hand, it must be admitted that it is absurd to speak, in contrast with this 'unfreedom,' of a conceivable 'freedom' of the will, which would consist in being able to will what one does not will." (Atomistik des Willens, p. 213 ff.)

[13] Here, again, only motives in general are mentioned, without taking into account the difference between unconscious and conscious motives. If a motive affects me, and I am compelled to act on it because it proves to be the "strongest" of its kind, then the idea of freedom ceases to have any meaning. How should it matter to me whether I can do a thing or not, if I am forced by the motive to do it? The primary question is, not whether I can do a thing or not when impelled by a motive, but whether the only motives are such as impel me with absolute necessity. If I must will something, then I may well be absolutely indifferent as to whether I can also do it. And if, through my character, or through circumstances prevailing in my environment, a motive is forced on me which to my thinking is unreasonable, then I should even have to be glad if I could not do what I will.

[14] The question is, not whether I can carry out a decision once made, but how I come to make the decision.

1.8 Spontaneous Unconditioned Will
[15] What distinguishes man from all other organic beings is his rational thought. Activity is common to him with other organisms. Nothing is gained by seeking analogies in the animal world to clear up the concept of freedom as applied to the actions of human beings. Modern science loves these analogies. When scientists have succeeded in finding among animals something similar to human behavior, they believe they have touched on the most important question of the science of man. To what misunderstandings this view leads is seen, for example, in the book Die Illusion der Willensfreiheit, by P. Ree, 1885, where, on page 5, the following remark on freedom appears:

"It is easy to explain why the movement of a stone seems to us necessary, while the volition of a donkey does not. The causes which set the stone in motion are external and visible, while the causes which determine the donkey's volition are internal and invisible. Between us and the place of their activity there is the skull cap of the ass... The causal nexus is not visible and is therefore thought to be non-existent. The volition, it is explained, is, indeed, the cause of the donkey's turning round, but is itself unconditioned; it is an absolute beginning."

Here again human actions in which there is a consciousness of the motives are simply ignored, for Ree declares, "that between us and the sphere of their activity there is the skull cap of the ass." As these words show, it has not so much as dawned on Ree that there are actions, not indeed of the ass, but of human beings, in which the motive, become conscious, lies between us and the action. Ree demonstrates his blindness once again a few pages further on, when he says, "We do not perceive the causes by which our will is determined, hence we think it is not causally determined at all."

[16] But enough of examples which prove that many argue against freedom without knowing in the least what freedom is.

1.9 Knowledge Of The Reasons
[17] That an action of which the agent does not know why he performs it, cannot be free goes without saying. But what of the freedom of an action about the motives of which we reflect? This leads us to the question of the origin and meaning of thought. For without the recognition of the activity of mind which is called thought, it is impossible to understand what is meant either by knowledge of something or by action. When we know what thought in general means, it will be easier to see clearly the role which thought plays in human action. As Hegel rightly says, "It is thought which turns the soul, common to us and animals, into spirit." Hence it is thought which we may expect to give to human action its characteristic stamp.

1.10 Driving Force Of The Heart
[18] I do not mean to imply that all our actions spring only from the sober deliberations of our reason. I am very far from calling only those actions "human" in the highest sense, which proceed from abstract judgments. But as soon as our conduct rises above the sphere of the satisfaction of purely animal desires, our motives are always shaped by thoughts. Love, pity, and patriotism are motives of action which cannot be analyzed away into cold concepts of the understanding. It is said that here the heart, the soul, hold sway. This is no doubt true. But the heart and the soul create no motives. They presuppose them. Pity enters my heart when the thought of a person who arouses pity had appeared in my consciousness. The way to the heart is through the head.

1.11 Idealistic Thought
Love is no exception. Whenever it is not merely the expression of bare sexual instinct, it depends on the thoughts we form of the loved one. And the more we idealize the loved one in our thoughts, the more blessed is our love. Here, too, thought is the father of feeling.

1.12 Perception Of Good Qualities
It is said that love makes us blind to the failings of the loved one. But the opposite view can be taken, namely that it is precisely for the good points that love opens the eyes. Many pass by these good points without notice. One, however, perceives them, and just because he does, love awakens in his soul. What else has he done except perceive what hundreds have failed to see? Love is not theirs, because they lack the perception.

[19] From whatever point we regard the subject, it becomes more and more clear that the question of the nature of human action presupposes that of the origin of thought. I shall, therefore, turn next to this question.

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2. WHY THE DESIRE FOR KNOWLEDGE IS FUNDAMENTAL

Zwei Seelen wohnen, ach! in meiner Brust,
Die eine will sich von der andern trennen;
Die eine halt, in derber Liebeslust,
Sich an die Welt mit klammernden Organen;
Die andre hebt gewaltsam sich vom Dust
Zu den Gefilden hoher Ahnen.*
Faust I, 1112-1117.

2.0 Urge To Know
[1] IN these words Goethe expresses a trait which is deeply ingrained in human nature. Man is not a self-contained unity. He demands ever more than the world, of itself, offers him. Nature has endowed us with needs; among them are some the satisfaction of which she leaves to our own activity. However abundant the gifts which we have

*Two souls, alas! reside within my breast,
And each withdraws from, and repels, its brother.
One with tenacious organs holds in love
And clinging lust the world in its embraces;
The other strongly sweeps, this dust above,
Into the high ancestral spaces.
Faust, Part I, Scene 2.
(Bayard Taylor's translation.)

received, still more abundant are our desires. We seem born to dissatisfaction. And our desire for knowledge is but a special instance of this unsatisfied striving. Suppose we look twice at a tree. The first time we see its branches at rest, the second time in motion. We are not satisfied with this observation. Why, we ask, does the tree appear to us now at rest, then in motion? Every glance at nature evokes in us a multitude of questions. Every phenomenon we meet presents a new problem to be solved. Every experience is to us a riddle. We observe that from the egg there emerges a creature like the mother animal, and we ask for the reason of the likeness. We observe a living being grow and develop to a determinate degree of perfection, and we seek the conditions of this experience. Nowhere are we satisfied with the facts which nature spreads out before our senses. Everywhere we seek what we call the explanation of these facts.

[2] The something more which we seek in things, over and above what is immediately given to us in them, splits our whole being into two parts. We become conscious of our opposition to the world. We oppose ourselves to the world as independent beings. The universe has for us two opposite poles: Self and World.

[3] We erect this barrier between ourselves and the world as soon as consciousness is first kindled in us. But we never cease to feel that, in spite of all, we belong to the world, that there is a connecting link between it and us, and that we are beings within, and not without, the universe.

[4] This feeling makes us strive to bridge over this opposition, and ultimately the whole spiritual striving of mankind is nothing but the bridging of this opposition. The history of our spiritual life is a continuous seeking after union between ourselves and the world. Religion, Art, and Science follow, one and all, this goal. The religious man seeks in the revelation, which God grants him, the solution of the world problem, which his Self, dissatisfied with the world of mere phenomena, sets him as a task. The artist seeks to embody in his material the ideas which are his Self, that he may thus reconcile the spirit which lives within him and the outer world. He, too, feels dissatisfied with the world of mere appearances, and seeks to mold into it that something more which his Self supplies and which transcends appearances. The thinker searches for the laws of phenomena. He strives to master by thought what he experiences by observation. Only when we have transformed the world-content into our thought-content do we recapture the connection which we had ourselves broken off. We shall see later that this goal can be reached only if we penetrate much more deeply than is often done into the nature of the scientist's problem.

The whole situation, as I have here stated it, meets us, on the stage of history, in the conflict between the one-world theory, or Monism, and the two-world theory, or Dualism. Dualism pays attention only to the separation between the Self and the World, which the consciousness of man has brought about. All its efforts consist in a vain struggle to reconcile these opposites, which it calls now Mind and Matter, now Subject and Object, now Thought and Appearance. The Dualist feels that there must be a bridge between the two worlds, but is not able to find it. In so far as man is aware of himself as "I", he cannot but put down this "I" in thought on the side of Spirit; and in opposing to this "I" the world, he is bound to reckon on the world's side the realm of percepts given to the senses, i.e., the Material World. In doing so, man assigns a position to himself within this very antithesis of Spirit and Matter. He is the more compelled to do so because his own body belongs to the Material World. Thus the "I", or Ego, belongs as a part to the realm of Spirit ; the material objects and processes which are perceived by the senses belong to the "World". All the riddles which belong to Spirit and Matter, man must inevitably rediscover in the fundamental riddle of his own nature. Monism pays attention only to the unity and tries either to deny or to slur over the opposites, present though they are. Neither of these two points of view can satisfy us, for they do not do justice to the facts. The Dualist sees in Mind (Self) and Matter (World) two essentially different entities, and cannot therefore understand how they can interact with one another. How should Mind be aware of what goes on in Matter, seeing that the essential nature of Matter is quite alien to Mind? Or how in these circumstances should Mind act upon Matter, so as to translate its intentions into actions? The most absurd hypotheses have been propounded to answer these questions. However, up to the present the Monists are not in a much better position. They have tried three different ways of meeting the difficulty. Either they deny Mind and become Materialists; or they deny Matter in order to seek their salvation as Spiritualists; or they assert that, even in the simplest entities in the world, Mind and Matter are indissolubly bound together, so that there is no need to marvel at the appearance in man of these two modes of existence, seeing that they are never found apart.

2.1 Materialism
[5] Materialism can never offer a satisfactory explanation of the world. For every attempt at an explanation must begin with the formation of thoughts about the phenomena of the world. Materialism, thus, begins with the thought of Matter or material processes. But, in doing so, it is ipso facto confronted by two different sets of facts, viz., the material world and the thoughts about it. The Materialist seeks to make these latter intelligible by regarding them as purely material processes. He believes that thinking takes place in the brain, much in the same way that digestion takes place in the animal organs. Just as he ascribes mechanical, chemical, and organic processes to Nature, so he credits her in certain circumstances with the capacity to think. He overlooks that, in doing so, he is merely shifting the problem from one place to another. Instead of to himself he ascribes the power of thought to Matter. And thus he is back again at his starting-point. How does Matter come to think of its own nature? Why is it not simply satisfied with itself and content to accept its own existence? The Materialist has turned his attention away from the definite subject, his own self, and occupies himself with an indefinite shadowy somewhat. And here the old problem meets him again. The materialistic theory cannot solve the problem; it can only shift it to another place.

2.2 Spiritualism
[6] What of the Spiritualistic theory? The pure Spiritualist denies to Matter all independent existence and regards it merely as a product of Spirit. But when he tries to apply this theory to the solution of the riddle of his own human nature, he finds himself caught in a tight place. Over against the "I", or Ego, which can be ranged on the side of Spirit, there stands directly the world of the senses. No spiritual approach to it seems open. It has to be perceived and experienced by the Ego with the help of material processes. Such material processes the Ego does not discover in itself, so long as it regards its own nature as exclusively spiritual. From all that it achieves by its own spiritual effort, the sensible world is ever excluded. It seems as if the Ego had to concede that the world would be a closed book to it, unless it could establish a non-spiritual relation to the world.

2.3 Realism
Similarly, when it comes to acting, we have to translate our purposes into realities with the help of material things and forces. We are, therefore, dependent on the outer world. The most extreme Spiritualist, or, if you prefer it, Idealist, is Johann Gottlieb Fichte. He attempts to deduce the whole edifice of the world from the "Ego". What he has actually accomplished is a magnificent thought-picture of the world, without any empirical content. As little as it is possible for the Materialist to argue the Mind away, just as little is it possible for the Idealist to do without the outer world of Matter.

2.4 Idealism
[7] When man directs his theoretical reflection upon the Ego, he perceives, in the first instance, only the work of the Ego in the conceptual elaboration of the world of ideas. Hence a philosophy the direction of which is spiritualistic, may feel tempted, in view of man's own essential nature, to acknowledge nothing of spirit except this world of ideas. In this way Spiritualism becomes one-sided Idealism. In stead of going on to penetrate through the world of ideas to the spiritual world, idealism identifies the spiritual world with the world of ideas itself. As a result, it is compelled to remain fixed with its world-view in the circle of the activity of the Ego, as if it were bewitched.

2.5 Materialistic Idealism
[8] A curious variant of Idealism is to be found in the theory which F. A. Lange has put forward in his widely read History of Materialism. He holds that the Materialists are quite right in declaring all phenomena, including our thoughts, to be the product of purely material processes, but, in turn, Matter and its processes are for him themselves the product of our thinking.

"The senses give us only the effects of things, not true copies, much less the things themselves. But among these mere effects we must include the senses themselves together with the brain and the molecular vibrations which we assume to go on there."

That is, our thinking is produced by the material processes, and these by our thinking. Lange's philosophy is thus nothing more than the philosophical analogon of the story of honest Baron Munchhausen, who holds himself up in the air by his own pigtail.

2.6 Indivisible Unity
[9] The third form of Monism is that which finds even in the simplest real (the atom) the union of both Matter and Mind. But nothing is gained by this either, except that the question, the origin of which is really in our consciousness, is shifted to another place. How comes it that the simple real manifests itself in a two-fold manner, if it is an indivisible unity?

2.7 Polarity Of Consciousness
[10] Against all these theories we must urge the fact that we meet with the basal and fundamental opposition first in our own consciousness. It is we ourselves who break away from the bosom of Nature and contrast ourselves as Self with the World. Goethe has given classic expression to this in his essay Nature. "Living in the midst of her (Nature) we are strangers to her. Ceaselessly she speaks to us, yet betrays none of her secrets." But Goethe knows the reverse side too: "Mankind is all in her, and she in all mankind."

2.8 Feeling Impulse
[11] However true it may be that we have estranged ourselves from Nature, it is none the less true that we feel we are in her and belong to her. It can be only her own life which pulses also in us.

2.9 Knowing Nature Within
[12] We must find the way back to her again. A simple reflection may point this way out to us. We have, it is true, torn ourselves away from Nature, but we must none the less have carried away something of her in our own selves. This quality of Nature in us we must seek out, and then we shall discover our connection with her once more. Dualism neglects to do this. It considers the human mind as a spiritual entity utterly alien to Nature and attempts somehow to hitch it on to Nature. No wonder that it cannot find the coupling link. We can find Nature outside of us only if we have first learnt to know her within us. The Natural within us must be our guide to her. This marks out our path of inquiry. We shall attempt no speculations concerning the interaction of Mind and Matter. We shall rather probe into the depths of our own being, to find there those elements which we saved in our flight from Nature.

2.10 Something More Than "I"
[13] The examination of our own being must bring the solution of the problem. We must reach a point where we can say, "This is no longer merely ' I ', this is something which is more than ' I '."

2.11 Description Of Consciousness
[14] I am well aware that many who have read thus far will not consider my discussion in keeping with "the present state of science." To such criticism I can reply only that I have so far not been concerned with any scientific results, but simply with the description of what every one of us experiences in his own consciousness. That a few phrases have slipped in about attempts to reconcile Mind and the World has been due solely to the desire to elucidate the actual facts. I have therefore made no attempt to give to the expressions "Self," "Mind," "World," "Nature," the precise meaning which they usually bear in Psychology and Philosophy.

2.12 Facts Without Interpretation
The ordinary consciousness ignores the sharp distinctions of the sciences, and so far my purpose has been solely to record the facts of everyday experience.To object that the above discussions have been unscientific would be like quarreling with the reciter of a poem for failing to accompany every line at once with aesthetic criticism. I am concerned, not with the way in which science, so far, has interpreted consciousness, but with the way in which we experience it in every moment of our lives.

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3. THOUGHT AS THE INSTRUMENT OF KNOWLEDGE

3.0 Reflective Thinking
[1] WHEN I observe how a billiard ball, when struck, communicates its motion to another, I remain entirely without influence on the process before me. The direction and velocity of the motion of the second ball is determined by the direction and velocity of the first. As long as I remain a mere spectator, I can say nothing about the motion of the second ball until after it has happened. It is quite different when I begin to reflect on the content of my observations. The purpose of my reflection is to construct concepts of the process. I connect the concept of an elastic ball with certain other concepts of mechanics, and consider the special circumstances which obtain in the instance in question. I try, in other words, to add to the process which takes place without my interference, a second process which takes place in the conceptual sphere. This latter process is dependent on me. This is shown by the fact that I can rest content with the observation, and renounce all search for concepts if I have no need of them. If, therefore, this need is present, then I am not content until I have established a definite connection among the concepts, ball, elasticity, motion, impact, velocity, etc., so that they apply to the observed process in a definite way. As surely as the occurrence of the observed process is independent of me, so surely is the occurrence of the conceptual process dependent on me.

[2] We shall have to consider later whether this activity of mine really proceeds from my own independent being, or whether those modern physiologists are right who say that we cannot think as we will, but that we must think exactly as the thoughts and thought-connections determine, which happen to be in our minds at any given moment. (Cp. Ziehen, Leitfaden der Physiologischen Psychologie, Jena, 1893, p. 171.) For the present we wish merely to establish the fact that we constantly feel obliged to seek for concepts and connections of concepts, which stand in definite relation to the objects and processes which are given independently of us. Whether this activity is really ours, or whether we are determined to it by an unalterable necessity, is a question which we need not decide at present. What is unquestionable is that the activity appears, in the first instance, to be ours. We know for certain that concepts are not given together with the objects to which they correspond. My being the agent in the conceptual process may be an illusion; but there is no doubt that to immediate observation I appear to be active. Our present question is, What do we gain by supplementing a process with a conceptual counterpart?

[3] There is a far-reaching difference between the ways in which, for me, the parts of a process are related to one another before, and after, the discovery of the corresponding concepts. Mere observation can trace the parts of a given process as they occur, but their connection remains obscure without the help of concepts. I observe the first billiard ball move towards the second in a certain direction and with a certain velocity. What will happen after the impact I cannot tell in advance. I can once more only watch it happen with my eyes. Suppose someone obstructs my view of the field where the process is happening, at the moment when the impact occurs, then, as mere spectator, I remain ignorant of what goes on. The situation is very different, if prior to the obstructing of my view I have discovered the concepts corresponding to the nexus of events. In that case I can say what occurs, even when I am no longer able to observe. There is nothing in a merely observed process or object to show its relation to other processes or objects. This relation becomes manifest only when observation is combined with thought.

[4] Observation and thought are the two points of departure for all the spiritual striving of man, in so far as he is conscious of such striving. The workings of common sense, as well as the most complicated scientific researches, rest on these two fundamental pillars of our minds. Philosophers have started from various ultimate antithesis, Idea and Reality, Subject and Object, Appearance and Thing-in-itself, Ego and Non-Ego, Idea and Will, Concept and Matter, Force and Substance, the Conscious and the Unconscious. It is, however, easy to show that all these antithesis are subsequent to that between Observation and Thought, this being for man the most important.

[5] Whatever principle we choose to lay down, we must either prove that somewhere we have observed it, or we must enunciate it in the form of a clear concept which can be rethought by any other thinker. Every philosopher who sets out to discuss his fundamental principles, must express them in conceptual form and thus use thought. He therefore indirectly admits that his activity presupposes thought. We leave open here the question whether thought or something else is the chief factor in the development of the world. But it is at any rate clear that the philosopher can gain no knowledge of this development without thought. In the occurrence of phenomena thought may play a secondary part, but it is quite certain that it plays a chief part in the construction of a theory about them.

[6] As regards observation, our need of it is due to our organization. Our thought about a horse and the object "horse" are two things which for us have separate existences. The object is accessible to us only by means of observation. As little as we can construct a concept of a horse by mere staring at the animal, just as little are we able by mere thought to produce the corresponding object.

3.1 Observation Of Thought
[7] In time observation actually precedes thought. For we become familiar with thought itself in the first instance by observation. It was essentially a description of an observation when, at the beginning of this chapter, we gave an account of how thought is kindled by an objective process and transcends the merely given. Whatever enters the circle of our experiences becomes an object of apprehension to us first through observation. All contents of sensations, all perceptions, intuitions, feelings, acts of will, dreams and fancies, images, concepts, ideas, all illusions and hallucinations, are given to us through observation.

[8] But thought as an object of observation differs essentially from all other objects. The observation of a table, or a tree, occurs in me as soon as those objects appear within the horizon of my field of consciousness. Yet I do not, at the same time, observe my thought about these things. I observe the table, but I carry on a process of thought about the table without, at the same moment observing this thought-process. I must first take up a standpoint outside of my own activity, if I want to observe my thought about the table, as well as the table. Whereas the observation of things and processes, and the thinking about them, are everyday occurrences making up the continuous current of my life, the observation of the thought-process itself is an exceptional attitude to adopt. This fact must be taken into account, when we come to determine the relations of thought as an object of observation to all other objects. We must be quite clear about the fact that, in observing the thought-processes, we are applying to them a method which is our normal attitude in the study of all other objects in the world, but which in the ordinary course of that study is usually not applied to thought itself.

3.2 Formation Of Concept
[9] Someone might object that what I have said about thinking applies equally to feeling and to all other mental activities. Thus it is said that when, e.g., I have a feeling of pleasure, the feeling is kindled by the object, but it is this object I observe, not the feeling of pleasure. This objection, however, is based on an error. Pleasure does not stand at all in the same relation to its object as the concept constructed by thought. I am conscious, in the most positive way, that the concept of a thing is formed through my activity; whereas a feeling of pleasure is produced in me by an object in a way similar to that in which, e.g., a change is caused in an object by a stone which falls on it. For observation, a pleasure is given in exactly the same way as the event which causes it. The same is not true of concepts. I can ask why an event arouses in me a feeling of pleasure. But I certainly cannot ask why an occurrence causes in me a certain number of concepts. The question would be simply meaningless. In thinking about an occurrence, I am not concerned with it as an effect on me. I learn nothing about myself from knowing the concepts which correspond to the observed change caused in a pane of glass by a stone thrown against it. But I do learn something about myself when I know the feeling which a certain occurrence arouses in me. When I say of an object which I perceive, "this is a rose," I say absolutely nothing about myself; but when I say of the same thing that "it causes a feeling of pleasure in me," I characterize not only the rose, but also myself in my relation to the rose.

3.3 Thinking Contemplation Of Object
[10] There can, therefore, be no question of putting thought and feeling on a level as objects of observation. And the same could easily be shown of other activities of the human mind. Unlike thought, they must be classed with any other observed objects or events. The peculiar nature of thought lies just in this, that it is an activity which is directed solely on the observed object and not on the thinking subject. This is apparent even from the way in which we express our thoughts about an object, as distinct from our feelings or acts of will. When I see an object and recognize it as a table, I do not as a rule say, "I am thinking of a table," but, "this is a table." On the other hand, I do say, "I am pleased with the table." In the former case, am not at all interested in stating that I have entered into a relation with the table; whereas, in the second case, it is just this relation which matters. In saying, "I am thinking of a table," I adopt the exceptional point of view characterized above, in which something is made the object of observation which is always present in our mental activity, without being itself normally an observed object.

[11] The peculiar nature of thought consists just in this, that the thinker forgets his thinking while actually engaged in it. It is not thinking which occupies his attention, but rather the object of thought which he observes.

[12] The first point, then, to notice about thought is that it is the unobserved element in our ordinary mental life.

[13] The reason why we do not notice the thinking which goes on in our ordinary mental life is no other than this, that it is our own activity. Whatever I do not myself produce appears in my field of consciousness as an object; I contrast it with myself as something the existence of which is independent of me. It forces itself upon me. I must accept it as the presupposition of my thinking. As long as I think about the object, I am absorbed in it, my attention is turned on it. To be thus absorbed in the object is just to contemplate it by thought. I attend, not to my activity, but to its object. In other words, whilst I am thinking I pay no heed to my thinking which is of my own making, but only to the object of my thinking which is not of my making.

3.4 Thinking Contemplation Of Thought
[14] I am, moreover, in exactly the same position when I adopt the exceptional point of view and think of my own thought-processes. I can never observe my present thought, I can only make my past experiences of thought-processes subsequently the objects of fresh thoughts. If I wanted to watch my present thought, I should have to split myself into two persons, one to think, the other to observe this thinking. But this is impossible. I can only accomplish it in two separate acts. The observed thought-processes are never those in which I am actually engaged but others. Whether, for this purpose, I make observations on my own former thoughts, or follow the thought-processes of another person, or finally, as in the example of the motions of the billiard balls, assume an imaginary thought-process, is immaterial.

[15] There are two things which are incompatible with one another: productive activity and the theoretical contemplation of that activity. This is recognized even in the First Book of Moses. It represents God as creating the world in the first six days, and only after its completion is any contemplation of the world possible: "And God saw everything that he had made and, behold, it was very good." The same applies to our thinking. It must be there first, if we would observe it.

3.5 Know Content Of Concept
[16] The reason why it is impossible to observe the thought-process in its actual occurrence at any given moment, is the same as that which makes it possible for us to know it more immediately and more intimately than any other process in the world. Just because it is our own creation do we know the characteristic features of its course, the manner in which the process, in detail, takes place. What in the other spheres of observation we can discover only indirectly, viz., the relevant objective nexus and the relations of the individual objects, that is known to us immediately in the case of thought. I do not know off-hand why, for perception, thunder follows lightning, but I know immediately, from the content of the two concepts, why my thought connects the concept of thunder with that of lightning. It does not matter for my argument whether my concepts of thunder and lightning are correct. The connection between the concepts I have is clear to me, and that through the very concepts themselves.

3.6 Guided By Content Of Thought
[17] This transparent clearness in the observation of our thought-processes is quite independent of our knowledge of the physiological basis of thought. I am speaking here of thought in the sense in which it is the object of our observation of our own mental activity. For this purpose it is quite irrelevant how one material process in my brain causes or influences another, whilst I am carrying on a process of thought. What I observe, in studying a thought-process, is, not what process in my brain connects the concept of thunder with that of lightning, but what is my reason for bringing these two concepts into a definite relation. Introspection shows that, in linking thought with thought, I am guided by their content, not by the material processes in the brain. This remark would be quite superfluous in a less materialistic age than ours. Today, however, when there are people who believe that, when we know what matter is, we shall know also how it thinks, it is necessary to affirm the possibility of speaking of thought without trespassing on the domain of brain physiology. Many people today find it difficult to grasp the concept of thought in its purity. Anyone who challenges the account of thought which I have given here, by quoting Cabanis' statement that "the brain secretes thoughts as the liver does gall or the spittle-glands spittle, etc." simply does not know of what I am talking. He attempts to discover thought by the same method of mere observation which we apply to the other objects that make up the world. But he cannot find it in this way, because, as I have shown, it eludes just this ordinary observation. Whoever cannot transcend Materialism lacks the ability to throw himself into the exceptional attitude I have described, in which he becomes conscious of what in all other mental activity remains unconscious. It is as useless to discuss thought with one who is not willing to adopt this attitude, as it would be to discuss color with, a blind man. Let him not imagine, however, that we regard physiological processes as thought. He fails to explain thought, because he is not even aware that it is there.

3.7 I Produce My Content Of Thought
[18] For every one, however, who has the ability to observe thought, and with good will every normal man has this ability, this observation is the most important he can make. For he observes something which he himself produces. He is not confronted by what is to begin with a strange object, but by his own activity. He knows how that which he observes has come to be. He perceives clearly its connections and relations. He gains a firm point from which he can, with well-founded hopes, seek an explanation of the other phenomena of the world.

[19] The feeling that he had found such a firm foundation, induced the father of modern philosophy, Descartes, to base the whole of human knowledge on the principle, "I think, therefore I am." All other things, all other processes, are independent of me. Whether they be truth, or illusion, or dream, I know not. There is only one thing of which I am absolutely certain, for I myself am the author of its indubitable existence; and that is my thought. Whatever other origin it may have in addition, whether it come from God or from elsewhere, of one thing I am sure, that it exists in the sense that I myself produce it. Descartes had, to begin with, no justification for reading any other meaning into his principle. All he had a right to assert was that, in apprehending myself as thinking, I apprehend myself, within the world-system, in that activity which is most uniquely characteristic of me. What the added words "therefore I am" are intended to mean has been much debated. They can have a meaning on one condition only. The simplest assertion I can make of a thing is, that it is, that it exists. What kind of existence, in detail, it has, can in no case be determined on the spot, as soon as the thing enters within the horizon of my experience. Each object must be studied in its relations to others, before we can determine the sense in which we can speak of its existence. An experienced process may be a complex of percepts, or it may be a dream, an hallucination, etc. In short, I cannot say in what sense it exists. I can never read off the kind of existence from the process itself, for I can discover it only when I consider the process in its relation to other things. But this, again, yields me no knowledge beyond just its relation to other things. My inquiry touches firm ground only when I find an object, the reason of the existence of which I can gather from itself. Such an object I am myself in so far as I think, for I qualify my existence by the determinate and self-contained content of my thought-activity. From here I can go on to ask whether other things exist in the same or in some other sense.

3.8 Remain Within Thought
[20] When thought is made an object of observation, something which usually escapes our attention is added to the other observed contents of the world. But the usual manner of observation, such as is employed also for other objects, is in no way altered. We add to the number of objects of observation, but not to the number of methods. When we are observing other things, there enters among the world-processes—among which I now include observation—one process which is overlooked. There is present something different from every other kind of process, something which is not taken into account. But when I make an object of my own thinking, there is no such neglected element present. For what lurks now in the background is just thought itself over again. The object of observation is qualitatively identical with the activity directed upon it. This is another characteristic feature of thought-processes. When we make them objects of observation, we are not compelled to do so with the help of something qualitatively different, but can remain within the realm of thought.

[21] When I weave a tissue of thoughts round an independently given object, I transcend my observation, and the question then arises, What right have I to do this? Why do I not passively let the object impress itself on me? How is it possible for my thought to be relevantly related to the object? These are questions which every one must put to himself who reflects on his own thought-processes. But all these questions lapse when we think about thought itself. We then add nothing to our thought that is foreign to it, and therefore have no need to justify any such addition.

3.9 Create Before Knowing
[22] Schelling says: "To know Nature means to create Nature." If we take these words of the daring philosopher of Nature literally, we shall have to renounce for ever all hope of gaining knowledge of Nature. For Nature after all exists, and if we have to create it over again, we must know the principles according to which it has originated in the first instance. We should have to borrow from Nature as it exists the conditions of existence for the Nature which we are about to create. But this borrowing, which would have to precede the creating, would be a knowing of Nature, and would be this even if after the borrowing no creation at all were attempted. The only kind of Nature which it would be possible to create without previous knowledge, would be a Nature different from the existing one.

[23] What is impossible with Nature, viz., creation prior to knowledge, that we accomplish in the act of thought. Were we to refrain from thinking until we had first gained knowledge of it, we should never think at all. We must resolutely think straight ahead, and then afterwards by introspective analysis gain knowledge of our own processes. Thus we ourselves create the thought-processes which we then make objects of observation. The existence of all other objects is provided for us without any activity on our part.

[24] My contention that we must think before we can make thought an object of knowledge, might easily be countered by the apparently equally valid contention that we cannot wait with digesting until we have first observed the process of digestion. This objection would be similar to that brought by Pascal against Descartes, when he asserted we might also say "I walk, therefore I am." Certainly I must digest resolutely and not wait until I have studied the physiological process of digestion. But I could only compare this with the analysis of thought if, after digestion, I set myself not to analyze it by thought, but to eat and digest it. It is not without reason that, while digestion cannot become the object of digestion, thought can very well become the object of thought.

[25] This then is indisputable, that in thinking we have got hold of one bit of the world-process which requires our presence if anything is to happen. And that is the very point that matters. The very reason why things seem so puzzling is just that I play no part in their production. They are simply given to me, whereas I know how thought is produced. Hence there can be no more fundamental starting-point than thought from which to regard all world-processes.

3.10 Self-Supporting Thought
[26] I should like still to mention a widely current error which prevails with regard to thought. It is often said that thought, in its real nature, is never experienced. The thought-processes which connect our perceptions with one another, and weave about them a network of concepts, are not at all the same as those which our analysis afterwards extracts from the objects of perception, in order to make them the object of study. What we have unconsciously woven into things is, so we are told, something widely different from what subsequent analysis recovers out of them.

[27] Those who hold this view do not see that it is impossible to escape from thought. I cannot get outside thought when I want to observe it. We should never forget that the distinction between thought which goes on unconsciously and thought which is consciously analyzed, is a purely external one and irrelevant to our discussion. I do not in any way alter a thing by making it an object of thought. I can well imagine that a being with quite different sense-organs, and with a differently constructed intelligence, would have a very different idea of a horse from mine, but I cannot think that my own thought becomes different because I make it an object of knowledge. I myself observe my own processes. We are not talking here of how my thought-processes appear to an intelligence different from mine, but how they appear to me. In any case, the idea which another mind forms of my thought cannot be truer than the one which I form myself. Only if the thought-processes were not my own, but the activity of a being quite different from me, could I maintain that, notwithstanding my forming a definite idea of these thought-processes, their real nature was beyond my comprehension.

[28] So far, there is not the slightest reason why I should regard my thought from any other point of view than my own. I contemplate the rest of the world by means of thought. How should I make of my thought an exception?

[29] I think I have given sufficient reasons for making thought the starting-point for my theory of the world. When Archimedes had discovered the lever, he thought he could lift the whole cosmos out of its hinges, if only he could find a point of support for his instrument. He needed a point which was self-supporting. In thought we have a principle which is self-subsisting. Let us try, therefore, to understand the world starting with thought as our basis. Thought can be grasped by thought. The question is whether by thought we can also grasp something other than thought.

3.11 Impartial Consideration Of Thinking
[30] I have so far spoken of thought without taking any account of its vehicle, the human consciousness. Most present-day philosophers would object that, before there can be thought, there must be consciousness. Hence we ought to start, not from thought, but from consciousness. There is no thought, they say without consciousness. In reply I would urge that, in order to clear up the relation between thought and consciousness, I must think about it. Hence I presuppose thought. One might, it is true, retort that, though a philosopher who wishes to understand consciousness, naturally makes use of thought, and so far presupposes it, in the ordinary course of life thought arises within consciousness and therefore presupposes that. Were this answer given to the world-creator, when he was about to create thought, it would, without doubt, be to the point. Thought cannot, of course, come into being before consciousness. The philosopher, however, is not concerned with the creation of the world, but with the understanding of it. Hence he is in search of the starting-point, not for creation, but for the understanding of the world. It seems to me very strange that philosophers are reproached for troubling themselves, above all, about the correctness of their principles, instead of turning straight to the objects which they seek to understand. The world-creator had above all to know how to find a vehicle for thought; the philosopher must seek a firm basis for the understanding of what is given. What does it help us to start with consciousness and make it an object of thought, if we have not first inquired how far it is possible at all to gain any knowledge of things by thought?

[31] We must first consider thought quite impartially without relation to a thinking subject or to an object of thought. For subject and object are both concepts constructed by thought. There is no denying that thought must be understood before anything else can be understood. Whoever denies this, fails to realize that man is not the first link in the chain of creation but the last. Hence, in order to explain the world by means of concepts, we cannot start from the elements of existence which came first in time, but we must begin with those which are nearest and most intimately connected with us. We cannot, with a leap, transport ourselves to the beginning of the world, in order to begin our analysis there, but we must start from the present and see whether we cannot advance from the later to the earlier. As long as Geology fabled fantastic revolutions to account for the present state of the earth, it groped in darkness. It was only when it began to study the processes at present at work on the earth, and from these to argue back to the past, that it gained a firm foundation. As long as Philosophy assumes all sorts of principles, such as atom, motion, matter, will, the unconscious, it will hang in the air. The philosopher can reach his goal only if he adopts that which is last in time as first in his theory. This absolutely last in the world-process is thought.

3.12 Application Of Thought
[32] There are people who say it is impossible to ascertain with certainty whether thought is right or wrong, and that, so far, our starting-point is a doubtful one. It would be just as intelligent to raise doubts as to whether a tree is in itself right or wrong. Thought is a fact, and it is meaningless to speak of the truth or falsity of a fact. I can, at most, be in doubt as to whether thought is rightly employed, just as I can doubt whether a certain tree supplies wood adapted to the making of this or that useful object. It is just the purpose of this book to show how far the application of thought to the world is right or wrong. I can understand anyone doubting whether, by means of thought, we can gain any knowledge of the world, but it is unintelligible to me how anyone can doubt that thought in itself is right.

Addition to the Revised Edition (1918) 
[1] In the preceding discussion I have pointed out the importance of the difference between thinking and all other activities of mind. This difference is a fact which is patent to genuinely unprejudiced observation. An observer who does not try to see the facts without preconception will be tempted to bring against my argumentation such objections as these: When I think about a rose, there is involved nothing more than a relation of my "I" to the rose, just as when I feel the beauty of the rose. There subsists a relation between "I" and object in thinking precisely as there does, e.g., in feeling or perceiving. Those who urge this objection fail to bear in mind that it is only in the activity of thinking that the "I," or Ego, knows itself to be identical, right into all the ramifications of the activity, with that which does the thinking. Of no other activity of mind can we say the same. For example, in a feeling of pleasure it is easy for a really careful observer to discriminate between the extent to which the Ego knows itself to be identical with what is active in the feeling, and the extent to which there is something passive in the Ego, so that the pleasure is merely something which happens to the Ego. The same applies to the other mental activities. The main thing is not to confuse the "having of images" with the elaboration of ideas by thinking. Images may appear in the mind dream-wise, like vague intimations. But this is not thinking.

True, someone might now urge: If this is what you mean by "thinking," then your thinking contains willing, and you have to do, not with mere thinking, but with the will to think. However, this would justify us only in saying: Genuine thinking must always be willed thinking. But this is quite irrelevant to the characterization of thinking as this has been given in the preceding discussion. Let it be granted that the nature of thinking necessarily implies its being willed, the point which matters is that nothing is willed which, in being carried out, fails to appear to the Ego as an activity completely its own and under its own supervision. Indeed, we must say that thinking appears to the observer as through and through willed, precisely because of its nature as above defined. If we genuinely try to master all the facts which are relevant to a judgment about the nature of thinking, we cannot fail to observe that, as a mental activity, thinking has the unique character which is here in question.

[2] A reader of whose powers the author of this book has a very high opinion, has objected that it is impossible to speak about thinking as we are here doing, because the supposed observation of active thinking is nothing but an illusion. In reality, what is observed is only the results of an unconscious activity which lies at the basis of thinking. It is only because, and just because, this unconscious activity escapes observation, that the deceptive appearance of the self-existence of the observed thinking arises, just as when an illumination by means of a rapid succession of electric sparks makes us believe that we see a movement. This objection, likewise, rests solely on an inaccurate view of the facts. The objection ignores that it is the Ego itself which, identical with the thinking, observes from within its own activity. The Ego would have to stand outside the thinking in order to suffer the sort of deception which is caused by an illumination with a rapid succession of electric sparks. One might say rather that to indulge in such an analogy is to deceive oneself willfully, just as if someone, seeing a moving light, were obstinately to affirm that it is being freshly lit by an unknown hand at every point where it appears. No, whoever is bent on seeing in thought anything else than an activity produced—and observable by—the Ego has first to shut his eyes to the plain facts that are there for the looking, in order then to invent a hypothetical activity as the basis of thinking. If he does not willfully blind himself, he must recognize that all these "hypothetical additions" to thinking take him away from its real nature. Unprejudiced observation shows that nothing is to be counted as belonging to the nature of thinking except what is found in thinking itself. It is impossible to discover the cause of thinking by going outside the realm of thought.

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Philosophy Influences Politics

Maybe I will spend my time taking on Ayn Rand and her influence in politics by offering an alternative philosophy.

Ayn Rand’s philosophy of “selfish individualism” now dominates the thinking of the leadership of the conservative movement and the Republican Party. She claims to know the human being. Maybe I will contrast her selfish individualism with another philosophy of “ethical individualism”. Political platforms are an expression of values. The Republican platform is strongly influenced by Ayn Rand’s values. Are progressive values rooted in a different understanding of the human being?

“Man — every man — is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.”
–Ayn Rand, 1962

“If a man strives towards sublimely great ideals, it is because such ideals are the content of his being, and to realize them brings an enjoyment compared with which the pleasure that is drawn from the satisfaction of commonplace needs is a mere nothing. Idealists delight in translating their ideals into reality.” –Rudolf Steiner, 1894

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Script Draft For Chapter 1 Introduction Video

The Philosophy Of Freedom, Chapter One Conscious Human Action

This video is an introduction to Chapter One of The Philosophy Of Freedom; Conscious Human Action.
It begins with the question, Are we free in our thought and action, or inescapably controlled by necessity?

The common belief among people is that we are free.
Freedom is implied in many of the things we say, and many of the attitudes we take.
Suppose tomorrow is a holiday.
You are considering what to do.
You can hike up a mountain or stay home and read a book.
You can fix your bike or go visit the zoo.
I appears obvious to us that we are free to determine our action, at least some of the time.

You also believe in freedom if you believe in morality.
Morality is based on free choice, the ability to choose between right and wrong.

We cannot hold people morally responsible for their actions if they are not free to make choices.
How can we justify the judgment of others unless we believe in free will.
Without free will we would be automatons who simply did whatever we were pre-programmed by nature or society to do.

Religion teaches that the Divine Creator gave free will to everyone.
Its as simple as that!
The downside of such a belief is that it is not based on knowledge.
It is faith.

Science demands more than belief.
Scientists deny free will by the fact that we are physical creatures in a physical world subject to well established natural laws.
Why would the uniformity of natural law be broken in the field of human action?
Since our action is a part of the world it is subject to the laws of cause and effect just as everything else is.
It is hard to deny that we are directed by laws of conduct when our behavior is caused by motivations, temperament, physiological processes, environmental conditions, and so on.
Religion accepts free will on faith while science rejects free will on the evidence provided by research.

But what exactly do we mean by free will?
The discussion of free will is rich and remarkable with 100's of different meanings given to freedom.
Whether freedom is even possible depends on what you mean by the word ‘free’.
Are we free when we can do whatever we wish or is freedom somehow related to quantum chance?

We can narrow down the question of freedom by asking, What is a freedom worth having?
A freedom worth having would not be vague or questionable but scientifically verifiable.
It would need to be a science of freedom that could be clearly explained and experienced.
It would be a freedom that described the advance of evolution up to the ethical individual without the need of some kind of supernatural intervention.

The purpose of The Philosophy Of Freedom is to establish a science of freedom that guides the unfoldment of free ethical individuals.
A knowledge of freedom can be used to create social and political forms that support human development and well-being.
The Philosophy Of Freedom Study Course will attempt to describe the gradual step by step development toward human freedom.

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Question by JW:

I have a concern about the overall argument of the Philosophy of Freedom.

Suppose the argument goes something like this. We are free just when our actions are permeated with thinking. Thinking is what insulates our actions from the causal nexus. For if an action has a cause, then it is not free. But in thinking we can find reasons for acting, concepts. 

What should we say about our thinking itself? It too should be capable of being free or unfree. When is it free? It is free when we understand the reasons for our thoughts, or the connections between them. This happens when we select a thought on the basis of its content. Is this process of selection free? Not necessarily. It depends how it is done. What if it is done untruly? Then we have a thought that is selected as a basis for action, untruly, and this provides the appropriate condition for the action to be free.

How can this be?

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What Happens After Bernie Sanders?

Noam Chomsky sees a lot more in the Bernie Sanders campaign than just a presidential run. “Bernie Sanders is doing courageous things and organizing a lot of people,” Chomsky told Abby Martin on Telesur’s "The Empire Files."

“That campaign ought to be directed to sustaining a popular movement which will use the election as an incentive," said Chomsky. "And unfortunately, it’s not. When the election's over, the movements will die. The only thing that’ll ever bring about meaningful change is ongoing, dedicated popular movements which don’t pay attention to the election cycle. It’s an extravaganza every four years but then we go on.”

Rudolf Steiner thought that an understanding of human freedom could be the foundation to sustain a social and political movement. A movement needs core principles to understand itself. What would a list of principles from The Philosophy Of Freedom look like that could sustain a movement? 

How do you turn ETHICAL INDIVIDUALISM into a movement? Spiritual science leaps far beyond TPOF into an unsure "belief" system. Could you connect with the times better with an INDEPENDENT PROGRESSIVE movement as TPOF can be read as contrasting CONSERVATIVES (fixed, traditional) with PROGRESSIVES (change, progress, evolving)

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Analytics shows that the majority of people who visit this website, philosophyoffreedom.com, are under the age of 35. This is significant as the organization intended to preserve Rudolf Steiner's legacy, the General Anthroposophical Society, is growing more elderly and declining in membership. Steiner's pre-theosophy message of science and Ethical Individualism was ahead of its time and is only now finding a new audience of free spirits that is unreachable by an authoritarian Society. 

philosophyoffreedom.com user age chart

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Study Course Sketch

The Study Course topic pages include a whiteboard where you can use text, paint and pics to create something for fun. To access the whiteboard only, use any...
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New Philosophy Of Freedom Study Course


Philosophy Of Freedom Study Course
I am putting together a new Philosophy Of freedom study course. Some features include:

  • Watch Videos: I will be producing 200 short videos of under 5 minutes that cover each of the main topics in the book. They will be posted at the rate of 1 or 2 per week.
  • Take Quiz: A short quiz of 5-10 questions will accompany each video. The quiz results will be sent in and recorded in each one's file.
  • Work at own pace
  • Cost: Course is free, but participants are encouraged to share what they learn with a study project or by starting a study group.

Tom Last
November 12, 2015

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3-0 To Think Or Not Think

The Philosophy Of Freedom Study Course
Chapter 3 How To Think, Not What To Think
Topic 3-0 To Think, Or Not Think

Chapter 3, "Thinking as A Means Of Gaining Knowledge Of The World", presents 12 topics that describe the thinking process so we can learn what it means to think and the value of thinking. Our knowledge of the world relies upon both observation and thinking, but thinking is different in that for anything to happen, we must first choose to think.

Learn about the Rudolf Steiner study course here.
Comments below.

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Alternate Titles

From understanding the structure of The Philosophy Of Freedom I think I can create a series of personal growth lessons that describe a certain state of life and then describes a higher state. For example, living life as a passive unknowing spectator or as an active doing thinker. I am working on a new test study course video. I have made many but not many that capture interest. The famous Ted Talks are an art in presenting material in a way that interests people. This begins with an interesting title. So I found these study course titles for the first 7 chapters.

1. Where Is Free Will Located? (Conscious Human Action)
2. Owning Your Duality (Why The Desire For Knowledge Is Fundamental)
3. How To Think, Not What To Think (Thought As The Instrument Of Knowledge)
4. Seeing The World As It Isn't (The World As Percept)
5. Knowing The World As It Is (Our Knowledge Of The World)
6. The Importance Of Individuality (Human Individuality)
7. Are There Limits To Knowledge? (Are There Any Limits To Knowledge?)

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© Tom Last 2017