Parerga and Paralipomena: Short Philosophical Essays

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

Re: Parerga and Paralipomena: Short Philosophical Essays

Postby admin » Sat Jan 27, 2018 1:13 am

Part 4 of 4

Politeness is prudence and consequently rudeness is folly. To make enemies by being wantonly and unnecessarily rude is as crazy as setting one's house on fire. For politeness is admittedly false coin, like a counter; to be niggardly with it shows a want of intelligence, whereas to be generous with it is prudent. All nations end a letter with votre tres-humble serviteur, your most obedient servant, [67] suo devotissimo servo. Only the Germans refrain from using the word' servant', because, of course, it is not true! On the other hand, to carry politeness to the point of sacrificing one's interests is like giving gold coins instead of counters. Wax, by nature hard and brittle, becomes so pliable with a little warmth that it assumes any desired shape. In the same way, through some politeness and friendliness, even the peevish and malevolent can be made manageable and accommodating. Accordingly, politeness is to man what warmth is to wax.

Of course, politeness is difficult in so far as it requires us to show to everyone the greatest respect, whereas most people merit none. Again, we have to feign the liveliest interest in them, whereas we must be very glad not to have anything to do with them. To combine politeness with pride is a masterpiece.

We should be much less upset over insults, as being really always expressions of disrespect, if, on the one hand, we did not cherish a wholly exaggerated notion of our own value and dignity and thus an excessive haughtiness and, on the other, were quite clear as to what one man in his heart usually thinks of another. What a glaring contrast there is between the sensitiveness of most people over the slightest hint of any blame attaching to them, and what they would hear if the remarks of their friends about them came to their ears! On the contrary, we should bear in mind that ordinary politeness is only a grinning mask; we should then not raise an outcry when it is shifted a little or is removed for a moment. But when a man is positively rude, it is as if he had cast off all his clothes and stood before us in puris naturalibus. [68] Of course, like most people in this condition, he cuts a poor figure.

(37) For what we do or omit to do we should not take someone else as our model because position and circumstances are never the same and difference in character also gives to an action a different touch and tone. Hence duo cum faciunt idem, non est idem. [69] We must act in accordance with our own character after ripe reflection and clear thought. Therefore in practical affairs, originality is indispensable, otherwise what we do is not in keeping with what we are.

(38) We should not join issue with anyone's opinion, but must remember that, if we tried to talk him out of all the absurdities he believes, we might live to be as old as Methuselah without getting the better of him.

In conversation we should also refrain from correcting people, however well meant our remarks may be; for it is easy to offend but difficult, if not impossible, to make amends.

If the absurdities of a conversation we happen to hear begin to annoy us, we must imagine that it is a scene in a comedy between two fools. Probatum est.70 Whoever has come into the world seriously to instruct it in the most important things, can count himself lucky if he escapes with a whole skin.

(39) Whoever wants his judgement to be believed, should express it coolly and dispassionately; for all vehemence springs from the will. And so the judgement might be attributed to the will and not to knowledge, which by its nature is cold. Now since the radical element in man is the will, whereas knowledge is merely secondary and additional, people will sooner believe that the judgement has sprung from the excited will than that the excitation of the will has arisen from the judgement.

(40) Even when we are fully entitled to do so, we should not be tempted to praise ourselves. For vanity is something so ordinary, but merit so unusual that whenever we appear to praise ourselves, although only indirectly, everyone will wager a hundred to one that ours is the language of vanity and that we have not enough sense to see the absurdity of the thing. Yet in spite of everything, Bacon may not be entirely wrong when he says that the semper aliquid haeret applies not only to slander but also to self-praise, and therefore recommends the latter in moderate doses. (Cf. De augmentis scitntiarum, Leiden, 1645, lib. VIII, c. 2, pp. 644 seq.) [71]

(41) If we suspect that a man is lying, we should pretend to believe him; for then he becomes bold and assured, lies more vigorously, and is unmasked. If, on the other hand, we notice that he has let slip part of a truth he would like to conceal, we should look as though we did not believe him. Provoked by the contradiction, he may follow up with the rear-guard of the whole truth.

(42) We have to regard all our personal affairs as secrets and must remain complete strangers, even to our good friends, in respect of everything about us which they cannot see with their own eyes. For in the course of time and with changed circumstances their knowledge of the most harmless things about us may be to our disadvantage. In general, it is more advisable to show our discernment by what we refrain from saying than by what we say. The former is a matter of prudence, the latter of vanity. The opportunities for both occur equally often; but we frequently prefer the fleeting satisfaction afforded by the latter to the permanent advantage secured by the former. Even the feeling of relief which occurs to lively people, when they speak aloud to themselves, should not be indulged lest it become a habit. For in this way, thought establishes such friendly terms with speech that even speaking to others gradually becomes like thinking aloud. Prudence, on the other hand, requires that we maintain a wide gulf between what we think and what we say.

Occasionally we imagine that others cannot possibly believe something concerning us, whereas it does not occur to them at all to doubt it. Yet if, through our action, this does occur to them, they are no longer able to believe it. But we often betray ourselves merely because we think it impossible for people not to notice this; just as we throw ourselves down from a height on account of giddiness, in other words, because we think it is impossible here to stand firm; the agony of standing here is so great that we think it better to cut it short. This vain imagining is called vertigo.

On the other hand, we should realize that even those who do not display any acuteness and acumen in other respects are experts in the algebra of other people's affairs. Here by means of a single given quantity, they solve the most complicated problems. If, for example, we tell them about a former event, without mentioning any names or giving any other descriptions of persons, we should be careful not to introduce any absolutely positive and particular circumstance, however insignificant, such as a place, a point of time, the name of someone of secondary importance, or anything else even only indirectly connected with it. For in this way they at once have a quantity positively given whereby their algebraical acumen discovers all the rest. The enthusiasm of curiosity is here so great that, by virtue thereof, the will spurs on the intellect and thus drives it to the attainment of the remotest results. For however insusceptible and indifferent men are to universal truths, they are keen on those that are individual and particular.

In accordance with all this, all the teachers of wordly wisdom have most urgently and with many different arguments recommended reticence and reserve; and so I can let the matter rest with what has already been said. I will, however, give one or two Arabian maxims that are particularly striking and little known. 'Do not tell your friend what your enemy ought not to know.' 'If I maintain silence about my secret, it is my prisoner; if I let it slip from my tongue, I am its prisoner.' 'On the tree of silence hangs the fruit of peace.'

(43) No money is spent to better advantage than that of which we have allowed ourselves to be defrauded; for with it we have directly purchased prudence.

(44) If possible, we should not feel animosity for anyone; yet we should note and remember everyone's procedes or actions in order to estimate his worth, at any rate in regard to ourselves, and accordingly to regulate our conduct and attitude towards him, always convinced that character is unalterable. To forget at any time the bad traits of a man's character is like throwing away hard-earned money. But in this way, we protect ourselves from foolish familiarity and foolish friendship.

'Neither love nor hate' contains a half of all wordly wisdom; 'say nothing and believe nothing' contains the other half. But, of course, we shall be only too glad to turn our back on a world where such rules and the following are necessary.

(45) Hatred or anger in what we say or in the way we look is futile, dangerous, imprudent, ridiculous, and common. Therefore we must never show anger or hatred except in our actions. We shall be able to do the latter more effectively in so far as we have avoided the former. It is only cold-blooded animals that are poisonous.

(46) Parler sans accent. [72] The object of this old rule of the worldly wise is that we should leave to the intelligence of others to discover what we have said. Their intelligence is slow and before it has arrived at our meaning we are off. On the other hand, parler avec accent is equivalent to addressing their feelings, and everything turns out the very opposite. If we are polite in manner and friendly in tone, we can without immediate risk be really rude to many a man.

D. Our Attitude to the Ways of the World and to Fate

(47) Whatever form human life assumes, there are always the same elements and therefore it is essentially the same everywhere, whether it is passed in the cottage or at court, in the cloister or the army. Its events, adventures, successes, and misfortunes may be ever so varied, yet it is with life as with confectionery; there is a great variety of things, odd in shape and diverse in colour, but all are made from the same paste; and what has happened to one man resembles much more what has befallen another than we think from hearing the different versions. The events of our life are like the pictures in a kaleidoscope wherein we see something different at every turn; yet in reality we have before us always the same thing.

(48) An ancient writer very pertinently remarks that there are three forces in the world: [x, x, x,] prudence, strength, and luck. I believe the last to be the most powerful; for our life can be compared to the course of a ship. Fate, [x], secunda aut adversa fortuna, [73] plays the part of the wind in that it speeds us on our course or plunges us a long way back; against this our own efforts and exertions are of little avail. These play the part of the oars; if they have carried us forward some distance through long hours of toil, a sudden gust of wind can cast us back just as far. If, on the other hand, the wind is favourable, it can carry us so far forward that we do not need to use the oars. The power of luck is admirably expressed by a Spanish proverb: Da ventura a tu hijo, y echa la en el mar (give your son luck and cast him into the sea).

Chance is indeed a malignant power to which we should leave as little as possible. Yet which of all the givers is the only one who, in giving, at the same time most clearly shows us that we have no claim or title to his gifts; that for them we have certainly not to thank our merits and deserts but simply his goodness and grace; and that these alone permit us to cherish the joyful hope of receiving, in all humility, many another unmerited gift? Such a giver is chance. Chance understands the royal art of making clear to us that all merit is powerless and unavailing against his favour and grace.

When we look back at the course of our life; when we survey our 'labyrinthine way of error', [74] and now must see so many cases in which our luck failed, so many instances of misfortune, we can easily go too far in reproaching ourselves. For the course of our life is certainly not our own work, but the product of two factors, the series of events and that of our resolves, which are always acting on and modifying each other. Moreover, there is the fact that in both of these our horizon is always very limited, since we cannot state our resolves far in advance and still less are we able to foresee future events; but in reality only the resolves and events of the present are actually known to us. Therefore as long as our goal is still very remote, we cannot steer straight towards it, but must direct our course only approximately and by conjecture; and so we must often tack about and alter course. Thus all we can do is to make our decisions always in accordance with our present circumstances, hoping to be able to bring nearer to us the principal goal. Thus events and our chief aims can in most cases be compared to two forces that pull in different directions, their resultant diagonal being the course of our life. Terence has said: In vita est hominum quasi cum ludas tesseris: si illud, quod maxime opus est jactu, non cadit, illud quod cecidit forte, id arte ut corrigas. [75] Here he must have had in mind a kind of backgammon. More briefly we can say that fate shuffles the cards and we play. For the purpose of expressing my present remarks, the following simile would appear to be the most suitable. Life is like a game of chess; we draw up a plan, but this remains conditioned by what in the game the opponent, in life fate, will be inclined to do. The modifications that our plan thereby undergoes are often so great that when it is being carried out several of its fundamental features are scarcely recognizable.

Moreover, there is in the course of our lives something above and beyond all else, namely a trivial truth, only too frequently confirmed, that we are often more foolish than we think. On the other hand, we are often wiser than we ourselves imagine, a discovery made only by those who in the event have been so and even then have taken a long time to make it. There is in us something wiser than our head. Thus in the big moves of our life, in the important steps of its course, we act not so much from a clear knowledge of what is right as from an inner impulse, one might say instinct, that comes from the depths of our very being. If afterwards we criticize our actions in the light of clear conceptions that are inadequate, acquired, or even borrowed, in the light of general rules, of other people's examples, and so on, without sufficiently weighing the maxim 'what suits one need not suit all', then we shall easily do ourselves an injustice. But in the end, it is seen who was right and only the man who has luckily attained old age is capable of judging the matter both subjectively and objectively.

Perhaps that inner impulse is under the unconscious guidance of prophetic dreams that are forgotten when we are awake. In this way they give to our life an evenness of tone and dramatic unity such as could never be given to it by our conscious brain that is so often irresolute, unstable, rambling, and easily altered. In consequence of such dreams, for instance, the man who has a vocation for great achievements of a definite kind inwardly and secretly feels this from his youth up and works in this direction, just as do bees in the building of their hive. But for everyone it is this that Baltasar Gracian calls la gran sinderesis, the great instinctive protection of himself, without which he is lost. To act in accordance with abstract principles is difficult and succeeds only after much practice, and even then not invariably; moreover they are often inadequate. On the other hand, everyone has certain innate concrete principles that are in his very blood and marrow, since they are the result of all his thinking, feeling, and willing. Usually he does not know them in the abstract, but only when he looks back on his life does he become aware that he has always observed them and has been drawn by them as by an invisible thread. According as they are, so will they lead him to his good or adverse fortune.

(49) We should constantly bear in mind the effect of time and the transient nature of things. Therefore in the case of everything now taking place, we should at once vividly picture to ourselves its opposite; thus in prosperity misfortune, in friendship enmity, in fine weather bad weather, in love hatred, in confidence and frankness betrayal and regret, and so also in the reverse case. This would give us a permanent source of true wordly wisdom, since we should always remain thoughtful and not be so easily deceived. In most cases we should thus have anticipated merely the effect of time. But possibly to no form of knowledge is experience so indispensable as to a correct appreciation of the instability and fluctuation of things. Just because every state or condition exists for the time of its duration necessarily and thus with absolute right, every year, every month, or every day looks as if it could now at last retain the right to exist to all eternity. But none retains it and change alone endures. The prudent man is he who is not deceived by the apparent stability of things and in addition sees in advance the direction that the change will first take.* On the other hand, men as a rule regard as permanent the state of things for the time being or the direction of their course. This is because they see the effects, but do not understand the causes; yet it is these that bear the seed of future changes, whereas the effect that exists solely for those men contains no such seed. They stick to the effects and assume that the causes unknown to them which were able to produce such effects will also be in a position to maintain them. Here they have the advantage that, if they err, they always do so in unison; and so the calamity that hits them as the result of their error is universal, whereas when the thinker has made a mistake, he stands alone. Here, incidentally, we have a confirmation of my principle that error is always the result of concluding from the consequent to the reason or ground. See World as Will and Representation, vol. i, § 15.

Nevertheless, we should anticipate time only theoretically and by foreseeing its effect, not practically and thus not so that we forestall it and demand prematurely what only time can bring. For whoever does this will discover that there is no worse and more exacting usurer than time; and if time is forced to make advances, it will demand heavier interest than would any Jew. For example, by means of unslaked lime and heat, we can so force a tree that within a few days it will bear leaves, blossom, and fruit; but it will then wither away and die. If a youth tries now to exercise the procreative power of a man, even if only for a few weeks, and wants to do at nineteen what he could very easily do at thirty, time will at any rate give him the advance, but a portion of the strength of his future years, in fact of his life itself, will be the interest. There are illnesses from which we completely recover only by our letting them run their natural course, after which they automatically disappear without leaving a trace. But if we demand to be well now and at once, so too must time here make an advance; the disease is cured, but the interest will be weakness and chronic complaint for the rest of our lives. When in time of war or civil disturbances we need money here and now, we are obliged to sell landed property or government stock for a third of their value, or even less, which we should have received in full had we given time its due and had, therefore, been willing to wait a few years; but we force time to grant an advance. Or we require a sum of money for a long journey; in a year to two we could have set it aside from our income. But we are unwilling to wait; the sum is, therefore, borrowed or sometimes taken from capital; in other words, time must advance the money. The interest will then be a disordered state of our accounts, a permanent and growing deficit from which we shall never be free. This, then, is time's usury; its victims are all those who cannot wait. To try to force the measured pace of time is a most costly undertaking. We should, therefore, guard against owing any interest to time.

(50) A characteristic difference, frequently appearing in everyday life, between ordinary and prudent men is that, when considering and estimating possible dangers, the former merely ask and take into account what of a similar nature has happened already; whereas the latter reflect on what might possibly happen and thus have in mind the words of a Spanish proverb: lo que no acaece en un ano, acaece en un rato (what does not happen within a year may happen within a few minutes). Of course, the difference in question is natural; for to survey what may happen requires discernment, but to see what has happened needs only our senses.

Our maxim, however, should be: sacrifice to evil spirits! In other words, we should not be afraid to spend time, trouble, and money, to put up with formalities and inconvenience, and to go without things, in order to shut the door on the possibility of misfortune. And the greater this may be, the smaller, more remote, and more improbable may be the possibility. The clearest example of this rule is the insurance premium; it is a sacrifice publicly made by all on the altar of evil spirits.

(51) We should not give way to great rejoicings or great lamentation over any incident partly because all things change and this alters its form; and partly because our judgement concerning what is favourable or unfavourable is deceptive. Consequently, almost everyone has at some time lamented over something that afterwards turned out for the best, or rejoiced over something that became the source of his greatest sufferings. The attitude of mind, here recommended to combat this, has been finely expressed by Shakespeare:

I have felt so many quirks of joy and grief
That the first face of neither, on the start,
Can woman me unto't.

-- All's Well that Ends Well, Act III, Sc. 2.)

But in general, whoever remains calm and unruffled in spite of every misfortune, shows that he knows how colossal and thousandfold are the possible evils of life; and therefore he regards what has now occurred as a very small part of what could happen. This is the temperament of the Stoic, in accordance with which we should never conditionis humanae oblitus, [76] but should always bear in mind what a woeful and wretched fate human existence is in general and how innumerable are the evils to which it is exposed. To be reminded of this insight into things, we need only cast a glance around us; wherever we are, we shall soon have before our eyes that struggling, tormenting, and floundering for a bare miserable existence that yields nothing. Accordingly we shall moderate our claims, learn to submit to the imperfection of circumstances and things, and always look out for misfortunes in order to avoid or endure them. For misfortunes, great and small, are the element of our lives and we should, therefore, always bear this in mind. Nevertheless, we should not, for this reason, lament and like a [x] [77] pull a long face with Beresford [78] over the hourly Miseries of Human Life, still less in pulicis morsu Deum invocare. [79] On the contrary, like a [x], [80] we should practise caution by forestalling and averting misfortunes, whether they come from people or things, and should become so refined in this that, like a clever fox, we neatly slip out of the way of every misfortune, great or small (which is in most cases only an awkwardness in disguise.)

A misfortune is for us less hard to bear if we have previously regarded it as possible and, as the saying is, have prepared ourselves to meet it. The main reason for this may be that, if we calmly think over the case as a mere possibility before it has occurred, we survey the extent of the misfortune clearly and in all directions and thus recognize it, at any rate, as finite and visible at a glance. Consequently, when it actually hits us, it cannot affect us with more than its true weight. On the other hand, if we have not thought over the matter and are caught unawares, our terrified mind is unable in the first instance to make a precise estimate of the magnitude of the misfortune. We cannot survey its extent and it easily appears to be incalculable, or at any rate much greater than it really is In the same way, obscurity and uncertainty make every danger appear to be greater than it is in reality. And, of course, there is also the fact that, while we have anticipated the misfortune as possible, we have at the same time thought of measures for obtaining help and consolation or at any rate have accustomed ourselves to a conception of it.

But nothing will better enable us to bear with composure the misfortunes that befall us than the conviction of the truth I have derived and established from its ultimate grounds in my prize-essay' On the Freedom of the Will'. There it says (Pt. Ill, at the end): 'Everything that happens, from the greatest to the smallest, happens with necessity.' For a man is soon able to reconcile himself to what is inevitably necessary; and that knowledge enables him to regard everything, even that which is brought about by the strangest chances, as just as necessary as that which ensues in accordance with the most familiar rules and in complete anticipation. I refer the reader to what I have said about the soothing effect of the knowledge that everything is inevitable and necessary (World as Will and Representation, vol. i, § 55). Whoever is imbued with this knowledge, will first of all willingly do what he can, but will then readily suffer what he must.

The petty misfortunes that vex us every hour may be regarded as intended to keep us in practice so that the strength to endure great misfortunes may not be wholly dissipated in prosperity. We must be a horny Siegfried [81] against the daily annoyances, the petty frictions and dissensions in human intercourse, trifling offences, the insolence of others, their gossip, scandal, and so on. In other words, we must not feel them at all, much less take them to heart and brood over them. On the contrary, we should not be touched by any of these things and should kick them away like stones that lie in our path. We should certainly not take them up and seriously reflect and ruminate on them.

(52) But what men usually call fate are often only their own stupid actions. Therefore we cannot too often take to heart the fine passage in Homer (Iliad, XXIII. 313ff.) where he recommends [x], i.e. prudent reflection. For if wicked actions are atoned for only in the next world, stupid ones are already atoned for in this, although now and then mercy may be shown.

Not ferocity but cunning has a terrible and dangerous look; so surely is man's brain a more terrible weapon than the lion's claw.

The perfect man of the world would be the one who was never irresolute and never in a hurry.

(53) Next to prudence, however, courage is a quality essential to our happiness. Of course, we cannot give ourselves either the one or the other, but inherit the former from our mother and the latter from our father. Yet whatever exists of these qualities may be helped by resolution and practice. In this world where 'the dice are loaded', we need a temper of iron, armour against fate, and weapons against mankind. For the whole of life is a struggle, every step is contested, and Voltaire rightly says: on ne reussit dans ce monde qu' a la pointe de l'epee, et on meurt les armes a la main. [82] It is, therefore, a cowardly soul who shrinks, laments, and loses heart, when clouds gather or even only appear on the horizon. On the contrary, our motto should be:

tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito. [83]

So long as the issue of any dangerous affair is still in doubt and there is still a possibility that it may turn out successfully, we should not think of nervousness or hesitation, but only of resistance; just as we should not despair of the weather so long as there is still a blue patch in the sky. In fact we should be induced to say:

Si fractus illabatur orbis,
Impavidum ferient ruinae. [84]

The whole of life itself, not to mention its blessings, is still not worth such a cowardly trembling and shrinking of the heart:

Quocirca vivite fortes,
Fortiaque adversis opponite pectora rebus. [85]

And yet even here an excess is possible, for courage can degenerate into recklessness. Even a certain amount of timidity is necessary for our existence in the world and cowardice is merely the transgression of this measure. Bacon has admirably expressed this in his etymological explanation of the Terror panicus which is far superior to the older one that is preserved for us by Plutarch (On Isis and Osiris, c. 14). Thus he derives it from Pan, the personification of nature, and says: Natura enim rerum omnibus viventibus indidit metum, ac formidinem, vitae atque essentiae suae conservatricem, ac mala ingruentia vitantem et depellentem. Verumtamen eadem natura modum tenere nescia est: sed timoribus salutaribus semper vanos et inanes admiscet, adeo ut omnia (si intus conspici darentur) Panicis terroribus plenissima sint, praesertim humana. [86] (De sapientia veterum, lib. VI.) Moreover, the characteristic feature of the Terror panicus is that it is not clearly conscious of its reasons, but presupposes rather than knows them; in fact, if necessary, it urges fear itself as the reason of fear.



1 ['Happiness is only a dream and pain is real.']

2 ['To get through life, to overcome life'.]

3 [' If only we get over it!']

4 ['We must try to get along as well as we can.']

5 [' He will get through the world.']

6 [' Leave well alone!']

7 ['The chooser of the golden mean is certainly far removed from the squalor of the broken hovel and far enough from the envied splendours of the prince's palace. Caught by the storm, the crown of the mighty pine sways in the wind, the tallest towers crash heavily down, and the mountain tops are struck by thunderbolts.' (Horace, Odes, n. 10. 5-12.)]

8 [' No human affair is worth our troubling ourselves very much about it.']

9 ['Unceremoniously'.]

10 ['Society, circles, salons, what is called high society, is a miserable play, a bad opera, without interest, which is kept going for a while by the stage effects, the costumes, and the decorations.']

11 ['Why do you wear out your soul that is too weak for eternal plans?']

12 [i.e. Pamina.]

13 ['No other happiness than learning do I feel.']

14 ['Know thyself.']

15 ['But however much it mortified us, we will let bygones be bygones; and hard as it may be for us, we will subdue the peevishness in our hearts.' (Homer, Iliad, XVIII. 112f.)]

16 ['This lies in the lap of the gods.' (Homer, Iliad, XVII. 514.)]

17 ['Regard each particular day as a special life.' (Seneca, Epistulae, 101, 10.)]

18 ['On nothing have I set my hopes.']

19 ['It is difficult to keep quiet when one has nothing to do.']
* Just as our body is covered with clothes, so is our mind with lies. Our words, our actions, our whole nature are deceitful; and only through this veil can our true sentiments sometimes be guessed, just as the shape of the body is guessed through the clothes.

20 ['All my possessions I carry with me.']

21 ['Happiness belongs to those who are easily contented.']

22 ['Good form'.)

23 ['When good form appears, good common sense retires.']

24 ['It is impossible for anyone not to be perfectly happy who depends entirely on himself and possesses in himself alone all that he calls his.']

* It is well known that evils are alleviated by the fact that we bear them in  common. People seem to regard boredom as one of these and therefore get together  in order to be bored in common. Just as the love of life is at bottom only fear of  death, so too the urge to be sociable is at bottom not direct. Thus it does not depend  on love of society, but on the fear of loneliness, since it is not so much the pleasant  company of others which is sought, as rather the dreariness and oppression of being  alone, together with the monotony of one's own consciousness, that are avoided.  Therefore to escape this, we put up with bad company and tolerate the burden  and feeling of restriction that all society necessarily entails. If, on the other hand,  a dislike of all this has triumphed and consequently a habit of solitude and an  inurement to its immediate impression have arisen so that it no longer produces the  effects previously described, then we can always be alone with the greatest ease and  without hankering after society. For the need of society is not direct and, on the  other hand, we are now accustomed to the wholesome virtues of solitude.
25 ['Stupidity suffers from its own weariness.' (Seneca, Epistulae, 9.)]

26 ['All our trouble comes from our not being able to be alone.']

27 ['Abstemiousness in food guarantees the health of our body, and that in association with men secures the peace of our soul.']

   * In this sense, Sadi says in the Gulistan: 'Since this time, we have taken leave of  society, and have resolved to follow the path of seclusion. For safety resides in solitude.'

28 ["The earth swarms with people who are not worth talking to.']

29 ['A lonely life have I always sought
(Stream, field, and wood can speak of this),
Fleeing from those dull and feeble spirits,
Through whom I cannot choose the path of light.'

-- Sonnet 221.)][/quote]

30 ['It is sometimes said of a man who lives alone that he does not like society. This is often as if one were to say of a man that he does not like going for a walk because he is not fond of walking at night in the forest of Bondy.']

31 ['Many who on earth wished to enjoy a divine life, have said with one voice: "Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness:" (Psalms 55: 7.)]
32 [Goethe's Faust, Bayard Taylor's translation.]

33 ['Bring yourself to be reasonable.']

34 ['For there is nothing perfect on earth.']
* People's envy shows how unhappy they feel. Their constant attention to the affairs of others shows how heavily time hangs on their hands.

35 ['The Cafe or the New Comedy'.]

36 ['We will find pleasure in what we have got without making comparisons. We shall never be happy if we are worried that someone else is luckier than we.... If you see many who are better off than you, think of how many who are worse off.']

37 ['Companions in misfortune'.]

38 ['Privileged minds have equal rank with sovereigns.']

39 ['Not to set in motion what is at rest.']

40 ['Harness the horse and send him off!']

41 ['Self-tormentor'.]

42 [' Whoever is not chastised is not properly brought up.' 'Spare the rod, spoil  the child.']

43 [Schopenhauer uses the English expression 'blue devils' alongside the German die schwarzen Phantasien.]

44 ['Agitated', 'confused', 'dazed', 'bewildered'.]

45 ['To ruin the purpose of life in order to live.']

46 ['If you want to subject everything to yourself, then subject yourself to reason.']

47 ['Bear and forbear.']

48 ['Always read between the lines of what you are doing, and ask the wise men how you may pass your life with an easy mind, so that you may not be tormented by desire, fear, or the hope for things that are of little use.' (Epistles, I. 18. 95-9.)]

49 [' Life consists in movement.']

50 [' It is difficult to keep quiet when one has nothing to do.']

51 ['Every fool has his cap and bells.']

52 [' With a grain of salt.']

53 ['I see thee.']
* Sleep is a morsel of death which we borrow anticipando and for this we restore and renew the life that is exhausted by a day. Le sommeil est un emprunt fait a la mort. Sleep borrows from death for the maintenance of life; or it is the provisional interest of death, death itself being the paying off of the capital. The higher the rate of interest and the more regularly it is paid, the later is the paying off demanded.

54 [From Goethe's Faust, Pt. 1, Bayard Taylor's translation.]
55 ['Indeed this is impossible.']

56 ['Pudendum'.]

57 ['The degree of intellect necessary to please us is a fairly accurate measure of the degree of intellect that we possess.']

* If in men, as they are in most cases, the good outweighed the bad, it would be more advisable to rely on their justice, fairness, gratitude, fidelity, love, or compassion than on their fear. But since the bad outweighs the good, the opposite course is more advisable.

58 ['We can obtain proofs of the nature of a man's character even from trifles.']

59 ['The law is not concerned with trifles.']

60 [' In all wars it is only a question of stealing.']

61 ['Expel nature with a pitchfork, she still comes back.' (Epistles, I. 10. 24.)]

62 ['Everything that is not natural is imperfect.']

63 ['No one can wear a mask for long; sham and pretence rapidly return to their original nature.']

64 ['We beg this freedom for ourselves and likewise grant it to others.' (Horace, Ars poetiea, II.)]

65 ['In the misfortune of our best friends we always find something that does not displease us.']

* It can be said that man has given himself the will, for this is man himself. The intellect, however, is an endowment that he has obtained from heaven, in other words, from eternal and mysterious fate and its necessity whose mere instrument was his mother.

66 ['The only way to be popular is for us to be clad in the skin of the stupidest of animals.']

 * For getting on in the world, friends and comrades are by far the most important  means. Great abilities, however, make a man proud and thus little inclined to flatter  those who have only limited ability and from whom indeed he should, therefore, conceal and never show his own. The consciousness of only limited ability has the opposite effect. It is admirably compatible with a humble, affable, and kindly nature and with a respectful attitude to what is bad, and therefore produces friends and supporters.

What has been said applies not only to the public service, but also to posts of honour and rank and indeed to fame in the learned world. Thus, for example, in the academies near mediocrity is always at the top, whereas men of merit enter at a late hour or never at all; and so it is with everything.

67 [Schopenhauer's own English.]

68 ['Naked'.]

69 ['When two people do the same thing, it is not the same.']

70 ['It is tested and proved.']

71 (Schopenhauer refers to the passage in Bacon's work where it says: 'Just as it is usually said of slander that something always sticks when people boldly slander, so it might be said of self-praise (if it is not entirely shameful and ridiculous) that if we praise ourselves fearlessly, something will always stick.']

72 ['To speak without emphasis'.]

73 ['Favourable or adverse fortune'.]

74 [Goethe's Faust, Pt. I.]

75 ['Human life is like a game of dice. If the dice does not turn up as you want it, then skill must improve what chance has offered.' (Adelphi, IV, 7; II. 739-41.)]

* Chance has so great a scope in all things human that when we try through present sacrifices to prevent a danger that threatens from afar, it often vanishes through an unforeseen state which things assume; and then not only are the sacrifices wasted, but the change brought about by them, with the altered state of things, is now a positive disadvantage. Thus in our precautionary measures, we must not look too far into the future, but must also reckon on chance and boldly face many a danger, hoping that it will pass like many a dark thunder cloud.

76 ['Forget the condition of man.']

77 ['Discontented person'.]

78 [The full title of the work is: 'The Miseries of Human Life; or the last groans of Timothy Testy and Samuel Sensitive, with a few supplementary sighs from Mrs Testy'.]

79 ['To invoke the Deity for every flea-bite'.]

80 [' Prudent and thoughtful person'.]

81 [A reference to Siegfried, the German mythical hero, who encountered many adventures in his youth. His cloak of invisibility gave him the strength of twelve men.]

82 ['In this world we succeed only at the point of the sword and we die with weapons in hand.']

83 ['Do not give way to the evil, but face it more boldly.' (Virgil, Aeneid, VI. 95.)]

84 ['Even if the world collapses over him, the ruins still leave him undismayed.' (Horace, Odes, III. 3. 7-8.)]

85 ['Therefore he lives bravely and presents a bold front to the blows of fate.' (Horace, Satires, II. 2. 135-6.)]

86 ['For the nature of things has infused all living beings with fear and terror  as the preserver of their lives and for avoiding and warding off the evils that overtake  them. However, this nature is here unable to exercise moderation, but always  mixes vain and empty misgivings with those that are wholesome so that all beings,  especially human, are full of this panic terror (if we could see into their hearts).']
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Re: Parerga and Paralipomena: Short Philosophical Essays

Postby admin » Mon Jan 29, 2018 11:56 pm

CHAPTER 6: On the Different Periods of Life

VOLTAIRE has made the very fine statement:

Qui n'a pas l'esprit de son age, De son age a tout le malheur. [1]

At the conclusion of these observations on eudemonology it will, therefore, be appropriate for us to cast a glance at the changes that are produced in us by the periods of life.

Throughout the whole of our lives we always possess only the present and never anything else. What distinguishes this is merely that, at the beginning, we see before us a long future, but that, towards the end, we see behind us a long past. Then there is the fact that our temperament, although not our character, undergoes certain well-known changes whereby the present always assumes a different hue.

In my chief work, volume ii, chapter 3I, I have shown why in childhood we behave much more like knowing than willing beings. This is the reason for that happiness of the first quarter of our life in consequence whereof that period subsequently lies behind us like a lost paradise. In childhood we have only few associations and limited needs and thus little stirring of the will. Accordingly, the greater part of our true nature is taken up with knowledge. The intellect, like the brain that attains its full size in the seventh year, is developed early, although it is not mature. It incessantly seeks nourishment in the entire world of an existence that is still fresh and new, where everything, absolutely everything, is varnished over with the charm of novelty. The result of this is that our years of childhood are a continuous poem. Thus the essential nature of the poem, as of all art, consists in comprehending in every particular thing the Platonic Idea, in other words, what is essential and therefore common to the whole species, whereby each thing appears as the representative of its class or family and one case holds good for a thousand. Now although it seems that in the scenes of our childhood we are always concerned only with the individual object or event for the time being and indeed only in so far as it interests our will for the moment, this is not really the case. Thus in all its significance, life is for us still so new and fresh without its impressions being deadened by repetition that, in the midst of our childish pursuits, we are always secretly concerned, without any clear purpose, to grasp in the particular scenes and events the essential nature of life itself, the fundamental types of its shapes and forms. We see all things and persons sub specie aeternitatis, [2] as Spinoza expresses it. The younger we are, the more every particular thing represents its whole class or family. This constantly decreases from year to year and accounts for the very great difference between the impression made on us by things when we are young and that made on us by them when we are old. And so the experiences and acquaintances of childhood and early youth afterwards become the regular standing types and rubrics of all later knowledge and experience, their categories as it were, to which we subsume everything that comes later, although we are not always clearly conscious of so doing.* Accordingly, the solid foundation of our view of the world and thus its depth or shallowness are formed in the years of childhood. Such a view is subsequently elaborated and perfected, yet essentially it is not altered. Therefore in consequence of this purely objective and hence poetical view which is essential to childhood and is sustained by the fact that the will is still far from appearing with all its energy, as children we behave far more like purely knowing than willing beings. Hence the serious contemplative look of many children which Raphael has used so happily for his angels, especially for those of the Sistine Madonna. For this very reason the years of childhood are so blissful that their memories are always accompanied by longing. Now while we are so earnestly engaged in the first comprehension of things through intuitive perception, education, on the other hand, aims at instilling into us concepts which, however, do not furnish us with what is really essential; on the contrary, this, namely the fund and substance of all our knowledge, lies in the comprehension of the world through intuitive perception. But this can be gained only from ourselves; it cannot be instilled into us in any way. Therefore our worth, both moral and intellectual, does not come to us from without, but proceeds from the very depths of our own nature; and no Pestalozzian pedagogics can turn a born simpleton into a thinker: never! As a simpleton is he born, and as a simpleton must he die. The deep comprehension, here described, of the first outside world of intuitive perception explains also why the surroundings and experiences of our childhood make so firm an impression on our memory. Thus we were completely absorbed in our surroundings and here nothing distracted us, and we regarded the things standing before us as if they were the only ones of their kind, indeed were the only ones that existed at all. Later we lose our courage and patience when we know how many objects there are. Now if we recall what I explained in chapter 30 of the above-mentioned volume of my chief work, namely that the objective existence of all things, that is, their existence in our mere representation or mental picture, is generally agreeable, whereas their subjective existence, that consists in willing, is steeped in pain and misery, we shall accept the following sentence as a brief expression of the matter: all things are delightful to see, but dreadful to be. Now in consequence of the foregoing remarks, things in our childhood are far better known to us from the side of seeing and thus of the representation, of objectivity, than from the side of being, which is that of the will. Now since the objective is the pleasant side of things, whereas the subjective and terrible side is still unknown to us, the young intellect regards all those forms that are presented to it by reality and art as just so many blissful beings. It imagines that they are so beautiful to see and are perhaps even more beautiful to be. Accordingly, the world lies before such an intellect like an Eden; and this is the Arcadia in which we are all born. Somewhat later, there results from this the thirst for real life, the urge to do and to suffer, which drives us into the hurly-burly of the world. We then come to know the other side of things, the side of being, i.e. of willing, which thwarts us at every step. There then comes on gradually the great disillusion and after it has made its appearance people say: l'age des illusions est passe; [3] and yet it continues to come on and becomes ever more complete. Accordingly, it can be said that in childhood life presents itself as a theatre decoration that is seen from a distance, whereas in old age it looks like the same decoration that is seen at very close quarters.

Finally, there is also the following circumstance that contributes to the happiness of childhood. Just as at the beginning of spring all leaves have the same colour and almost the same shape, so are we all in early childhood like one another and therefore admirably harmonize. But with puberty there begins a divergence that becomes ever greater like that of the radii of a circle.

Now what disturbs and renders unhappy the remainder of the first half of life, namely the age of youth that has so many advantages over the second half, is the hunt for happiness on the firm assumption that it must be met with in life. From this arise the constantly deluded hope and so also dissatisfaction. Deceptive images of a vague happiness of our dreams hover before us in capriciously selected shapes and we search in vain for their original. And so in the age of adolescence, we are often dissatisfied with our position and environment, whatever they may be, because we attribute to them what belongs to the emptiness and wretchedness of human life everywhere, with which we are now making our first acquaintance, after expecting something quite different. Much would have been gained if through timely advice and instruction young men could have had eradicated from their minds the erroneous notion that the world has a great deal to offer them. But the very opposite occurs through our becoming acquainted with life often through fiction rather than from fact. In the bright dawn of our youth the scenes depicted by the poetry of fiction are resplendent before our gaze and we are now tormented by the yearning desire to see them realized, to grasp the rainbow. The young man expects the course of his life to be in the form of an interesting novel; and so arises the disappointment, already described by me in the previously mentioned second volume, chapter 30. For what lends charm to all those images is just that they are merely imaginary and not real and we are thus in the peace and all-sufficiency of pure knowledge when we intuitively perceive them. To be realized means to be preoccupied with willing and this inevitably produces pain. The reader who is interested may also be referred to chapter 37 of the above-mentioned volume.

Accordingly, if the characteristic feature of the first half of life is an unsatisfied longing for happiness, that of the second is a dread of misfortune. For with it there has more or less clearly dawned on us the knowledge that all happiness is chimerical, whereas all suffering is real. Therefore we, or at any rate the more prudent among us, now aspire to mere painlessness and an undisturbed state rather than to pleasure. When in my young days there was a ring at the door, I was pleased, for I thought, 'now it might come'; but in later years on the same occasion my feelings were rather akin to dread and I thought 'here it comes'. For distinguished and gifted individuals who, precisely as such, do not really belong to the world of men and women and who, therefore, stand alone, more or less according to the degree of their merits, there are two opposite feelings as regards this world. In youth they frequently have the feeling of being abandoned by the world, whereas in later years there is the feeling of having run away from it. The first is unpleasant and is due to our not being acquainted with the world, whereas the second is pleasant and rests on our acquaintance with it. As a result of this, the second half of life, like the second half of a musical period, contains less push and ambition but more relief and restfulness than does the first. This is due generally to the fact that in youth we think there is to be had in the world a prodigious amount of happiness and pleasure which is merely difficult to attain, and that in old age, on the other hand, we know there is nothing to be got and so are perfectly at ease in the matter, enjoy a bearable present, and even delight in trifles.

What the mature man acquires through his life's experience, whereby he sees the world with eyes different from those of the boy or youth, is primarily frankness or freedom from prejudice. He then sees things quite simply and takes them for what they are; whereas for the boy and the youth the world of reality was disguised or distorted by an illusion that was made up of self-created whims and crotchets, inherited prejudices, and strange fancies. For the first thing that experience finds to do is to free us from dreams, visions, and false notions that have settled in us in our youth. To protect youth from these would certainly be the best, though only a negative, education; but it is very difficult. For this purpose, the child's horizon would at first have to be kept as narrow as possible and yet within such horizon none but clear and correct notions would have to be inculcated. Only after the child had correctly appreciated everything lying within that sphere could it be gradually enlarged, care always being taken that nothing obscure, or even half or wrongly understood, was left behind. In consequence of this, the child's notions of things and of human relations would still always be limited and very simple, but yet clear and correct, so that they would always need only extension, not correction; and thus right on into the age of adolescence. This method requires in particular that one is not permitted to read novels, but that these are replaced by suitable biographies, such as, for instance, that of Franklin, Anton Reisert by Moritz, and others.

When we are young, we imagine that the important persons and momentous events in our life will make their appearance with a flourish of trumpets and drums. Yet in old age we see, when we look back, that they all slipped in very quietly by the back-door and almost unnoticed.

Further, from the point of view so far considered, life can be compared to a piece of embroidered material of which everyone, in the first half of his time, comes to see the top side, but in the second half the reverse side. The latter is not so beautiful, but is more instructive because it enables one to see how the threads are connected together.

Intellectual superiority, even the greatest, will assert its decided ascendancy in conversation only after one is forty years of age. For maturity of years and the fruit of experience can in many ways be surpassed, yet never replaced, by mental superiority. But even to the most ordinary man they give a certain counterpoise to the powers of the greatest mind so long as this isstill young. Here I mean merely what is personal, not works.

After his fortieth year, any man of merit, anyone who is not just one of five-sixths of humanity so grievously and miserably endowed by nature, will hardly be free from a certain touch of misanthropy. For as is natural, he has inferred the characters of others from his own and has gradually become disappointed. He has seen that they are not on his level, but are far beneath him, either as regards the head or the heart, often even as regards both. He therefore willingly avoids having anything to do with them. For in general, everyone will love or hate solitude, his own company, to the extent that he is worth anything in himself. Even Kant discusses this kind of misanthropy in the Critique of Judgement, at the end of the general remark to § 29 of the first part.

In a young man it is from an intellectual and also a moral point of view a bad sign if, at an early age, he knows how to deal with people, is at once at home with them, and enters into their affairs prepared as it were; it betokens vulgarity. On the other hand, an attitude of astonishment, surprise, awkwardness, and waywardness in such circumstances points to a nature of a nobler sort.

The cheerfulness and buoyancy of our youth are due partly to the fact that we are climbing the hill of life and do not see death that lies at the foot of the other side. But when we have crossed the summit, we actually catch sight of death that was hitherto known only from hearsay; and, as at the same time our vital strength begins to ebb, this causes our spirits to droop. A doleful seriousness now supersedes the youthful exuberance of joy and is stamped even on the countenance. As long as we are young, people can say what they like to us; we regard life as endless and accordingly use our time lavishly. The older we grow, the more we economize in our time; for in later years every day lived through produces a sensation akin to that felt by the condemned criminal at every step on his way to the gallows.

Seen from the standpoint of youth, life is an endlessly long future; from that of old age it resembles a very brief past. Thus at the beginning life presents itself in the same way as do things when we look at them through opera glasses that are held the reverse way; but at the end, it resembles things that are seen when the opera glasses are held in the normal way. A man must have grown old and lived long in order to see how short life is. In our youth time itself has a much slower pace; and so the first quarter of our life is not only the happiest but also the longest, so that it leaves behind many more memories. If he were required to do so, everyone would be able to narrate more from that period than from two of the following. As in the spring of the year, so in that of life, the very days ultimately become of tiresome length; in the autumn of both they become short, but brighter and more uniform.

When life draws to a close, we do not know what has become of it. Now why in our old age do we discover that the life we have lived is so short? Because we regard it as being just as short as is our memory thereof. Thus everything unimportant and much that was unpleasant have been forgotten and therefore little is left. For just as our intellect is generally very imperfect, so too is our memory. We must practise what has been learnt from experience and should ruminate on the past if the two are not to sink gradually into the abyss of oblivion. Now we do not usually ruminate on what was unimportant and rarely on what was unpleasant; and yet this is necessary if their memory is to be preserved. What is unimportant is always being added to; for through frequent and finally endless repetition many different things that at first seemed to us important gradually become unimportant; and so we remember the earlier years better than we do the later. Now the longer we live, the fewer are the events that seem to us important or significant enough to be subsequently considered. But only in this way could they be fixed in the memory; and so they are forgotten as soon as they are past. Thus time always passes without a trace. Now we do not like ruminating on what is unpleasant, at least when it wounds our vanity as indeed is often the case, since few troubles have befallen us for which we are entirely blameless; therefore much that is unpleasant is also forgotten. Now it is both the unpleasant and the unimportant that make our memory so short and this always becomes proportionately shorter, the longer its material becomes. Just as the objects on the shore from which we are sailing become ever smaller and more difficult to recognize and distinguish, so do our past years with all their events and actions. Moreover, there is the fact that memory and imagination occasionally present us very vividly with a scene from our life long past as if it had occurred only yesterday; and it then stands quite near to us. The reason for this is that it is impossible for us to conjure up just as vividly the long interval of time that has elapsed between now and then. For it cannot be surveyed in one picture; moreover, the events in it are for the most part forgotten. Only a general knowledge of it in the abstract is left, a mere conception but not an intuitive perception. Therefore what is long past appears to us so near in the individual thing, as if it had happened only yesterday; the intervening time vanishes and the whole life appears to be inconceivably short. Sometimes in old age the long past behind us and with it our old age itself appear to us in an instant almost like a miracle. This is due mainly to the fact that we see before us primarily the same fixed and immovable present. Inner events of this nature, however, are ultimately due to the fact that not our true being-in-itself but only the phenomenal appearance thereof lies in time and that the present is the point of contact between object and subject. And again, why in our youth does the life we still have before us look so immeasurably long? Because we have to find room for the boundless hopes with which we cram it and for whose realization Methuselah would die too young. Another reason is that, for measuring it, we take the few years we have already lived whose memory is always rich in material and therefore long. For novelty makes everything seem important; and so we subsequently ruminate thereon and thus often repeat it in our memory, whereby it becomes impressed on the mind.

Occasionally we think we long to see once more a distant place, whereas we really long to have the time that we spent there when we were younger and fresher. Time then deceives us by wearing the mask of space. If we travel to the place, we shall become aware of the deception.

For reaching a great age, with a sound constitution as a conditio sine qua non, there are two ways that can be illustrated by the burning of two lamps. One burns for a long time because with little oil it has a very thin wick; the other also burns for a long time because it has plenty of oil for a thick wick. The oil is the vital energy, the wick the use thereof in every way and by every means.

As regards vital force, we can as far as the age of thirty-six be compared to those who live on their interest; what is spent today exists again tomorrow. But after that age our position is analogous to that of the man of independent means who begins to touch his capital. At first, he does not notice this at all; the greatest part of the expense is again automatically recovered and a small deficit is not seen. But this gradually increases, becomes noticeable, and the increase itself every day grows larger. It spreads more and more; every day is poorer than its yesterday and there is no hope of things coming to a standstill. The decline speeds ever more on its way, like the falling of bodies, until at last nothing more is left. It is very depressing when both the things here compared, namely vital force and property, are on the point of actually melting away together. For this reason, love of possessions increases with age. On the other hand, at the beginning till we come of age, and even for some time afterwards, we resemble, as regards our vital force, those who from their interest still add something to their capital. Not only are the expenses again made good, but the capital increases. And again, this too is sometimes the case with money through the care and thoughtfulness of an honest guardian. O happy youth! O sad old age! Nevertheless, we should take care of the strength of our youth. Aristotle observes (Politics, last book, chap 5) that, of the Olympic victors, only two or three had carried off the victory as boys and again as men because the early exertions required by preliminary practice so exhausted their strength that they failed later when they reached the age of manhood. Just as this applies to muscular energy, so does it even more to nervous, whose manifestations are all intellectual achievements. Therefore the ingenia praecocia, the youthful prodigies, the fruit of a hothouse education, who excite our astonishment when they are young, afterwards become very ordinary individuals. Indeed the early and enforced efforts to acquire a knowledge of the ancient languages may be responsible for the subsequent dullness and lack of judgement that are shown by so many scholars.

I have observed that the character of almost every man appears to be particularly appropriate to one period of his life, so that at this age he is seen to better advantage. Some are sweet-tempered when they are young, and this then passes. Others are strong and active men who are robbed of all value by old age. Many a man is seen to the best advantage in old age when he is more lenient and indulgent because he is more experienced, unruffled, and resigned. This is often the case with the French, and it must be due to the fact that the character itself has in it something youthful, manly, or elderly with which the particular age of our life harmonizes or counteracts as a corrective.

Just as our progress on a ship is observed only by the way in which objects on the shore recede and accordingly become smaller, so do we become aware of our advancing years by the fact that those who are even older seem to us to be young.

We have already discussed how and why all that we see, do, and experience leaves in the mind fewer traces, the older we grow. In this sense, it might be asserted that only in youth do we live with a full degree of consciousness and that in old age we are really only half-conscious. The older we become, the less consciously do we live; things hurry past us without making any impression, just as none is made by a work of art that has been seen a thousand times. We do what we have to do and afterwards do not know whether we have done it. Now since life becomes more and more unconscious, the more it rushes towards the point where all consciousness ceases, so does its course become ever more rapid. In childhood the novelty of objects and the incident make us aware of everything and thus the day is interminably long. The same thing happens when we travel and one month then seems longer than four spent at home. Yet this novelty of things does not prevent time, which seems longer in both cases, from often becoming actually more protracted for us than when we are old or at home. But through long habit of perceiving the same things, the intellect gradually becomes so rubbed down and exhausted that everything passes over it and produces less and less effect. In this way, the days then become ever less important and thus shorter. The boy's hours are longer than the old man's days. Accordingly, our time has an accelerated motion like that of a ball that is rolling down. Just as on a revolving disc each point moves more rapidly, the farther it lies from the centre, so time passes away for everyone ever more rapidly, the farther he is from the beginning of his life. Consequently, it may be assumed that, in the direct assessment of our attitude, the length of a year is inversely proportional to the number of times it will divide into our age. For example, when the year is one-fifth of our age, it seems to be ten times longer than when it is only one-fiftieth. The variation in the rapidity of time has the most decided influence on the entire nature of our existence at each period thereof. In the first place, it makes childhood, although embracing only about fifteen years, seem the longest period of life and so the richest in reminiscences. Then again, the younger we are, the more likely we are to be bored. Children constantly need some pastime, whether it be play or work; if this ceases they are instantly seized by a terrible boredom. Even youths are still very liable to this and view with alarm the prospect of hours in which they will have nothing to do. In the age of manhood boredom vanishes more and more. For old men time is always too short and the days fly past like arrows. Of course, it is obvious that I speak of human beings and not of old brutes. Through this acceleration in the flight of time, boredom in most cases ceases to exist as we get older. On the other hand, as the passions with their torments are also silenced, the burden of life is, on the whole, actually lighter than in youth, if only one's health has been preserved. And so the years that precede the appearance of the feebleness and infirmities of extreme old age are called our 'best years'. This they may actually be as regards our feeling of ease and comfort; yet the years of our youth, when everything makes an impression and we are vividly conscious thereof, still have the advantage of being for the mind the productive period, its blossom-setting spring. Thus deep truths may only be discerned but not worked out; in other words, their first knowledge is immediate and is called forth by the momentary impression. Consequently, such knowledge occurs only so long as that impression is powerful, vivid, and deep. Accordingly, in this respect everything depends on the way in which we have used the years of our youth. In later years, we can make more impression on others, in fact on the world, because we ourselves are finished and accomplished and are no longer a prey to influences; the world, however, has less effect on us. These years are, therefore, the time for action and achievement, whereas those of our youth are the time for original conception and knowledge.

In youth intuitive perception predominates; in old age reflection; thus youth is the time for poetry, whereas old age is more for philosophy. Also in practical affairs we allow ourselves to be determined in youth by what is intuitively perceived and by the impression thereof, and in old age only by what is thought. This is due partly to the fact that only in old age have cases from intuitive perception occurred often enough and have been classified into concepts for these to be given full significance, substance, and credit, and at the same time for the impression of intuitive perception to be moderated through usage and practice. On the other hand, in youth the impression of intuitive perception and hence of the external aspect of things, especially on lively and imaginative minds, is so powerful that they regard the world as a picture. And so their main interest is what kind of figure they cut in it rather than how they feel mentally and morally. This already shows itself in the personal vanity and great fondness for clothes which are characteristic of young people.

The greatest energy and highest tension of our mental powers undoubtedly occur in youth up to the age of thirty-five at the latest. From then on they decline, although very slowly. Nevertheless our later years and even old age are not without their intellectual compensation. Only then have experience and learning become really abundant; we have had time and opportunity to consider and weigh in our minds everything from every aspect. We have compared one 'thing with another and have discovered their points of contact and connecting links so that only now are their relations rightly understood. Everything is cleared up and thus we now have a much more thorough knowledge even of that which we already knew in our youth, since we have for each concept many more proofs. What we thought we knew in our youth we really know in old age; moreover, we actually know much more and possess a knowledge that has been explored in every direction and is, therefore, really quite coherent and consistent. In our youth, on the other hand, our knowledge is always defective and fragmentary. Only the man who attains old age acquires a complete and consistent mental picture of life; for he views it in its entirety and its natural course, yet in particular he sees it not merely from the point of entry, as do others, but also from that of departure. In this way, he fully perceives especially its utter vanity, whereas others are still always involved in the erroneous idea that everything may come right in the end. On the other hand, there is more conception in youth and we are thus able to make more out of the little we know; but in old age we have more judgement, penetration, and thoroughness. A gifted man is already acquiring in his youth the material of his own knowledge, of his original and fundamental views, and hence that which he is destined to present to the world; but only in his later years does he become master of his material. Accordingly, in most cases, we shall find that great writers produced their masterpieces when they were about fifty years of age. Nevertheless youth remains the root of the tree of knowledge, although only the top bears fruit. But just as every era, even the most contemptible, regards itself as much .wiser than the one immediately preceding it, not to mention the earlier ones, so does every age in the life of man; yet in both cases we are often mistaken. In the years of physical growth when we are daily adding to our mental powers and knowledge, it becomes a habit for today to look down with contempt on yesterday. Such a habit takes root and remains even when our intellectual powers have begun to decline and when today should rather look up to yesterday with reverence and respect. Thus we often underrate not only the achievements, but also the judgements, of our early years.*

Here we should make the general remark that, although in its fundamental qualities, man's intellect or head as well as his character or heart is innate, yet the former by no means remains so unalterable as does the latter. On the contrary, it is subject to very many transformations which on the whole regularly appear. This is due partly to the fact that the head or intellect has a physical foundation and partly to its having empirical material. Thus its own power has its gradual growth until it reaches its acme, after which there is a gradual decadence down to imbecility. On the other hand, the material occupying these forces and keeping them active, and hence the subject-matter of thought and knowledge, is experience, intellectual achievements, practice and thus a perfection of insight, an ever-growing quantity until a decided weakness makes its appearance and everything is thrown over and abandoned. Man consists of one element that is absolutely unalterable and of another that is regularly alterable in a twofold and opposite way. This explains the difference in his bearing and importance at different periods of his life.

In a wider sense, it can also be said that the first forty years of our life furnish the text, whereas the following thirty supply the commentary. This first teaches us properly to understand the true sense and sequence of the text together with its moral and all its niceties and subtleties.

Towards the end of life, much the same happens as at the end of a masked ball when the masks are removed. We now see who those really were with whom we had come in contact during the course of our life. Characters have revealed themselves, deeds have borne fruit, achievements have been justly appreciated, and all illusions have crumbled away. But for all this time was necessary. The curious thing, however, is that only towards the end of our lives do we really recognize and understand even ourselves, our real aim and object, especially in our relations to the world and to others. Very often, but not always, we shall have to assign to ourselves a lower place than we had previously thought was our due. Sometimes we shall give ourselves a higher, the reason for this being that we had no adequate notion of the baseness of the world, and accordingly set our aim higher than it. Incidentally, we come to know what we have in ourselves.

We are accustomed to call youth the happy time of life and old age the unhappy. This would be true if the passions made us happy. Youth is torn and distracted by them and they afford little pleasure and much pain. Cool old age is left in peace by them and at once assumes a contemplative air; for knowledge becomes free and gains the upper hand. Now since this is in itself painless, we are happier, the more conscious we are that it predominates in our nature. In old age we are better able to prevent misfortune, in youth to endure it. We need only reflect that the nature of all pleasure is negative and that that of pain is positive in order to see that passions cannot make us happy and that old age is not to be deplored just because it is denied many pleasures. For every pleasure is always only the allaying of a need or want. Now that pleasure should come to an end when the need ceases is no more a matter of complaint than that we cannot go on eating after a meal and must remain awake after a good night's rest. In the introduction to the Republic, Plato more correctly considers that hoary old age is happy in so far as it has finally done with the sexual impulse which has incessantly disturbed and tormented us. It might even be asserted that the many different and endless whims and crotchets that are engendered by the sexual impulse and the emotions arising therefrom foster in man a perpetual mild madness so long as he is under the influence of that impulse or devil with which he is constantly possessed; so that he becomes rational only when the passion is extinguished. But it is certain that, in general and apart from every individual circumstance and situation, a certain melancholy and sadness are peculiar to youth, while a certain cheerfulness is characteristic of old age. The reason is simply that youth is still under the sway and even forced labour of that demon which hardly ever grants it an hour of freedom and is at the same time the direct or indirect author of almost every evil or misfortune that befalls or threatens man. But old age has the cheerfulness of one who has rid himself of a shackle long borne and who now freely moves about. On the other hand, it might be said that, after the sexual impulse has faded away, the real kernel of life has gone and only the shell remains. In fact, it is like a comedy which is begun by human beings but is afterwards played to the end by automata dressed up in their costumes.

However that may be, youth is the period of unrest, old age that of repose; and even from this the feeling of ease and comfort of both could be inferred. The child greedily stretches out its hands for all the things of every colour and shape that it sees; for it is charmed by them, its senses being still so young and fresh. The same thing happens with greater energy to the youth who is also charmed by the world in its many colours and by its variety of forms. His imagination conjures up from them more than the world can ever promise. He is, therefore, full of eager desire and longing for something vague and indefinite; and this robs him of that peace without which there is no happiness. Accordingly, whereas the youth imagines that a prodigious number of things is to be had in the world, if only he could discover where, the old man is convinced from Ecclesiastes that all is vanity and knows that all nuts are hollow, however much they may be gilded. For in old age everything has abated partly because the blood is cooler and the senses are not so readily stimulated; and partly because experience has enlightened us as to the value of things and the intrinsic worth of pleasures. In this way, illusions, chimeras, and prejudices have been gradually dispelled which previously concealed and distorted a free and correct view of things. Thus we now recognize everything more clearly and correctly, take it for what it is, and arrive more or less at an insight into the vanity and unreality of all earthly things. It is just this that gives almost every old man, even if he has only very ordinary faculties, a certain touch of wisdom which distinguishes him from younger men. But the principal result of all this is peace of mind which is a great element in happiness and is really the condition and essence thereof.

Further, it is thought that the lot of old age is sickness and boredom. The former is certainly not essential to this age, especially if a long span of years is to be attained; for crescente vita, crescit sanitas et morbus. [5] As regards boredom, I have already shown why old age is even less exposed to it than is youth. Moreover, it is by no means a necessary accompaniment of the loneliness to which we are certainly led by old age, for reasons that can easily be seen. On the contrary, it is only for those who have experienced no other pleasures than those of the senses and of society and who have left their minds unstocked and their powers undeveloped. It is true that in old age our mental powers also decline, but there will still always be enough left to combat boredom. Then, as I have already shown, an accurate insight into things increases through experience, knowledge, practice, and reflection; our judgement is keener and the sequence and connection of events becomes clear. In all things we obtain an ever more comprehensive survey of the whole. Through ever fresh combinations of accumulated knowledge and its occasional enrichment, our own real self-culture continues to make progress in every respect and our mind is thus occupied, satisfied, and rewarded. The above-mentioned decline is to a certain extent compensated by all this. Moreover, as I have said, time passes much more rapidly in old age and this counteracts boredom. The decline in physical strength does little harm unless we need it for earning our livelihood. Poverty in old age is a great misfortune; but if this is banished and we retain our health, old age can be a very endurable period of our life. Comfort and security are its principal requirements; hence in old age we are even fonder of money than we were in our youth because it provides a substitute for failing strength. Deserted by Venus, we shall gladly look for merriment and diversion in Bacchus. The desire to teach and speak replaces the urge to see, travel, and learn. But it is a piece of good fortune if an old man still retains his love of study, music, the theatre, and generally a certain susceptibility to external things. For in the case of some old people this undoubtedly lasts into extreme old age.

Only in our later years do we really attain to Horace's nil admirari, [6] in other words, to the immediate, sincere, and firm conviction of the vanity of all things and the hollowness of all the world's splendours. The chimeras have vanished and we are no longer of the opinion that a special happiness dwells somewhere, either in a palace or a cottage, which is greater than the one we essentially enjoy everywhere when we are just free from bodily or mental pain. For us there is no longer in world-values any difference between great and small, high and low. This gives old people a special placidity and serenity with which they smilingly look down on the phantasmagoria of the world. They are completely disillusioned and know that, whatever may be done to adorn and deck out human life, its barren and paltry nature soon shows through all such finery and tinsel. However much it may be tinted and trimmed, it is everywhere essentially the same, an existence whose true value is always to be estimated only on the basis of an absence of pain, not on that of a presence of pleasures, still less of pomp and show. (Horace, Epistles, 1.12.1-4). The fundamental characteristic of old age is disillusionment; the illusions which hitherto gave life its charm and spurred us to activity have vanished. We have recognized the vanity and emptiness of all the splendours of the world, especially of the pomp, brilliance, and magnificent show. We have learnt that there is very little behind most of the things desired and most of the pleasures hoped for; and we have gradually gained an insight into the great poverty and hollowness of our whole existence. Only when we are seventy do we thoroughly understand the first verse of Ecclesiastes;7 but it is also this that gives to old age a certain touch of peevishness and ill-humour. What a man 'has in himself' is never more to his advantage than in old age.

Most people, of course, who have always been dull and dense become more and more of automata as they grow old. They always think, say, and do the same thing; and no outside impression is any longer able to bring about in them any change or to evoke from them anything new. To talk to such old people is like writing in the sand, for the impression is effaced almost immediately afterwards. An old age of this kind is, of course, only the caput mortuum [8] of life. It seems that nature tries to symbolize the appearance of second childhood in old age by the cutting of a third set of teeth which then in rare instances occurs.

The disappearance of all our powers as we grow older is certainly very distressing; yet this is necessary and even beneficial, as otherwise death would be too hard for which it prepares the ground. Therefore the greatest gain that comes to us through the attainment of a great age is euthanasia. This is a very easy way of dying, which is not ushered in by any illness, is not accompanied by any convulsions, and is not felt at all. A description of this will be found in the second volume of my chief work, chapter 41.*

However long we live, we are never in possession of anything more than the indivisible present; but memory daily loses more through forgetfulness than it gains through accretion. The older we grow, the smaller human affairs seem to be, one and all; life, which in our youth stood before us as something firm and stable, now seems to be like a rapid flight of ephemeral phenomena; the vanity and emptiness of the whole stand out.

The fundamental difference between youth and age will always be that the former has in prospect life, the latter death; thus the former possesses a short past and a long future, whereas the latter possesses the opposite. In the years of old age life is like the fifth act of a tragedy; we know that a tragic end is near, but do not yet know what it will be. When we are old, we certainly have in front of us only death, but when we are young we have life. The question is which of the two is more hazardous and whether on the whole life is not something that it is better to have behind us than in front of us. Indeed Ecclesiastes (7:1) says: 'The day of death is better than the day of one's birth.' To want to live very long is in any case rash; for the Spanish proverb says: quien larga vida vive mucho mal vive. [9]

It is true that the course of an individual's life is not traced out and indicated in the planets, as astrology would have us believe; yet a man's life generally is so in so far as one planet in turn corresponds to each period thereof, and his life is accordingly governed in succession by all the planets. Mercury rules in the tenth year; and like this the individual moves rapidly and lightly in the narrowest circle. He can be won over by trifles, but he learns much easily under the sway of the god of astuteness and eloquence. At twenty we have the dominion of Venus; love and women have us entirely in their possession. At thirty Mars reigns, and a man is now impetuous, strong, bold, warlike, and defiant. At forty the four asteroids rule and accordingly a man's life is broadened; he is frugi, in other words, serves what is useful and expedient by virtue of Ceres; he has his own hearth by the influence of Vesta; he has learnt what he needs to know through Pallas; and the mistress of his house, his wife, reigns as Juno. [10] But at fifty Jupiter holds the sway; a man has already outlived most people and feels himself superior to the present generation. Still in full enjoyment of his powers, he has a wealth of experience and knowledge; according to his individual nature and position, he has authority over all those about him. Accordingly, he is no longer willing to take orders but to give them himself. He is now most fitted to guide and govern in his own sphere. Thus Jupiter culminates and with him the man who is fifty years of age. Then follows Saturn at the sixtieth year and with him the heaviness, slowness, and ductility of lead:

But old folks, many feign as they were dead;
Unwieldy, slow, heavy and pale as lead.

-- Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Sc. 5.

Finally Uranus comes and then, as they say, we go to heaven. Here I cannot take into account Neptune (unfortunately so dubbed through thoughtlessness) because I may not call it by its true name which is Eros. Otherwise I would show how beginning and end are connected together, namely how Eros is secretly related to death. By virtue of his relation, Orcus or Amenthes of the Egyptians (Plutarch, On Isis and Osiris, c. 29) is the [x], [11] thus not only the taker but also the giver, and death is the great reservoir of life. Therefore everything comes from Orcus and everything that now has life has already been there. If only we were capable of understanding the conjuring trick whereby this is done, all would be clear.



1 'Who has not the spirit of his age,
Has all the misfortune of his age.'

* Ah, those years of childhood! when time still passes so slowly that things seem to be almost at a standstill and to want to stay as they are to all eternity.

2 ['From the aspect of eternity'.]

3 [' The age of illusions is past.']

4 [This is written in the form of a novel, but is to all intents and purposes a  biography.]
 * Yet in our youth, when time is most precious, we often spend it most lavishly,  and only in old age do we begin to economize in it.
5 ['With increasing age health and sickness increase.']

6 ['Not to allow ourselves to be disconcerted (in face of desire and fear). Not to lose our equanimity.' (Horace, Epistles, 1.6.1.)]

7 ['Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.']
* Human life cannot really be called either long or short since it is at bottom the  standard whereby we measure all other lengths of time. In the Upanishad of the  Veda (Oupnekhat, vol. ii, p. 53) the natural duration of human lift is stated to be a  hundred years. I think this is correct because I have noticed that only those who  have passed their ninetieth year attain to euthanasia, that is to say, die without illness, apoplexy, convulsions, or rattles in the throat; sometimes they die without  turning pale, often when seated and after a meal; or rather they do not exactly die,  but simply cease to live. At any earlier age one dies merely of disease and hence  prematurely. In the Old Testament (Psalms 90:10) the span of human life is given  as seventy or at most eighty years; and what is more important, Herodotus says  the same thing (lib. I, c. 32 and lib. III, c. 22). But this is wrong and is merely the  result of a crude and superficial interpretation of daily experience. For if the natural  span were between seventy and eighty years, people would inevitably die between  those years of old age; but this is by no means the case. They then die, like younger  people, of disease which is something essentially abnormal; and so it is not a natural  end. Only between ninety and a hundred years do people die, but then as a rule  of old age, without sickness, death-struggle, death-rattles, or convulsions, sometimes  without turning pale; this is called euthanasia. Therefore here also the Upanishad is  right in putting the natural span of human life at a hundred years.

8 ['Dead head' i.e. dead residue (expression from ancient chemistry for the dry residue from the heating of certain materials in retorts).]
9 ['Whoever lives long experiences much evil.']

10 Some fifty asteroids since discovered are an innovation in which I am not interested. And so my attitude to them is like that of the profession of philosophy to me. I ignore them because they do not suit my purpose.

11 ['The taker and giver'.]
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Re: Parerga and Paralipomena: Short Philosophical Essays

Postby admin » Tue Jan 30, 2018 12:21 am


Vitam impendere vero

-- Juvenal, Sat. IV. 91

["Dedicate one's life to truth"]


Eleusis servat quod ostendat revisentibus.

-- Seneca, Naturales quaestiones, VII. 30.

['Eleusis keeps something that it can disclose only on a second visit.']

CHAPTER 1: On Philosophy and its Method

§ 1

The ultimate basis on which all our knowledge and science rest is the inexplicable. Therefore every explanation leads back to this by means of more or less intermediate stages, just as in the sea the plummet finds the bottom sometimes at a greater and sometimes at a lesser depth, yet everywhere it must ultimately reach this. This inexplicable something devolves on metaphysics.

§ 2

Almost all are for ever thinking that they are such and such a man ([x]), together with the corollaries resulting therefrom. On the other hand, it hardly ever occurs to them that they are in general a human being ([x]) with all the corollaries following from this; and yet this is the vital question. The few who adhere more to the latter than to the former proposition are philosophers. The tendency of the others, however, is reducible to the fact that generally they always see in things only their particular and individual aspect, never their universal. Only the more highly gifted, according to the degree of their eminence, see more and more in individual things their universal aspect. This important distinction penetrates the whole faculty of knowledge to such a degree that it reaches down to the intuitive perception of the most ordinary everyday objects. Hence such perception is in the eminent mind different from what it is in the ordinary. This grasping of the universal in the particular that always presents itself coincides also with what I have called the pure will-less subject of knowing, and have set up as the subjective correlative of the Platonic Idea. For only if knowledge is directed to the universal can it remain will-less; on the other hand, the objects of willing are to be found in individual things. Therefore the knowledge of animals is strictly limited to these particular things and accordingly their intellect remains exclusively in the service of their will. On the other hand, that tendency of the mind to the universal is the indispensable condition for true and original achievements in philosophy, poetry, and the arts and sciences generally.

For the intellect in the service of the will and thus in practical use, there are only particular things,. for the intellect which pursues art or science and is, therefore, active for its own sake, there are only universalities, whole kinds, species, classes, Ideas of things; for even the creative artist tries in the individual to present the Idea, the species. This is due to the fact that the will is directly turned only to particular things which are its real objects, for they alone have empirical reality. Concepts, classes, and species, on the other hand, can become its objects only very indirectly; and so the vulgar and uncultured have no thought or desire for universal truths, whereas the genius overlooks and ignores what is individual. Enforced occupation with the particular thing as such, in so far as this constitutes the material of practical life, is for him an irksome bondage.


The two primary requirements for philosophizing are first that we have the courage to make a clean breast of a question, and secondly that we become clearly conscious of everything that is self-evident in order to comprehend it as a problem. Finally in order really to philosophize, the mind must be truly at leisure. It must not pursue any aims and so must not be guided by the will; it must give its undivided attention to the instruction that is imparted to it by the world of intuitive perception and by its own consciousness. Professors of philosophy, on the other hand, have in mind their personal interest and advantage and what leads thereto; this is where they are in earnest. Hence there are so many distinct things which they do not see at all; in fact, not even the problems of philosophy ever occur to them.


The poet brings before the imagination pictures of life, human characters and situations, all of which he sets in motion and then leaves it to everyone to think in the case of such pictures as much as his mental powers will allow. For this reason, he is able to satisfy men of the most varied capacities, indeed fools and sages simultaneously. The philosopher, on the other hand, does not bring life itself in this way, but the completed ideas he has abstracted therefrom, and he now requires that his reader will think in precisely the same way and to just the same extent as does he himself; and so his public will be very small. The poet is, accordingly, comparable to the man who brings the flowers, whereas the philosopher resembles one who brings their quintessence.

Another great advantage that poetical achievements have over philosophical is that all the works of poetry can exist simultaneously without thwarting and impeding one another; in fact even the most heterogeneous can be enjoyed and appreciated by one and the same mind. On the other hand, hardly has any philosophical system come into the world when it already contemplates the destruction of all its brothers, like an Asiatic sultan when he ascends the throne. For just as there can be only one queen in a beehive, so can only one philosophy be the order of the day. Thus systems are by nature as unsociable as spiders, each of which sits alone in its web and sees how many flies will allow themselves to be caught therein, but approaches another spider merely in order to battle with it. Thus whereas the works of poets pasture peacefully side by side like lambs, those of philosophy are born beasts of prey and, even in their destructive impulse, they are like scorpions, spiders, and the larvae of some insects and are turned primarily against their own species. They appear in the world like men clad in armour from the seed of the dragon's teeth ofjason and till now have, like these, mutually exterminated one another. This struggle has already lasted for more than two thousand years; will there ever result from it a final victory and lasting peace?

In consequence of this essentially polemical nature, this bellum omnium contra omnes [1] of philosophical systems, it is infinitely more difficult to gain recognition as a philosopher than as a poet. The poet's work demands of the reader nothing more than an entry into the series of writings that entertain or elevate him and the devotion thereto of a few hours. The philosopher's work, on the other hand, tries to revolutionize the reader's whole mode of thought. It demands of him that he shall acknowledge as error all that he has hitherto learnt and believed in this branch of knowledge; that he shall declare all his time and trouble to be wasted; and that he shall begin again at the beginning. At most, it leaves standing a few fragments of a predecessor in order thereon to make its foundation. Again, there is the fact that it has in every teacher of an already existing system an opponent by virtue of his office. In fact, even the State sometimes takes under its protection a favourite philosophical system and, by means of its powerful material resources, prevents the success of any other. Moreover, if we bear in mind that the size of the philosophical public and that of the poetical are in the same proportion as the number of those who want to be taught is to the number who want to be amused, we shall be able to judge, quibus auspiciis, [2] a philosopher makes his appearance. On the other hand, of course, it is the approbation of thinkers, of the elect of long intervals of time and of all countries without national distinction, with which the philosopher is rewarded. Gradually, on the strength of authority, the crowd learns to respect and honour his name. In accordance with this and on account of the slow but profound effect of the course of philosophy on that of the whole human race, the history of philosophers has proceeded for thousands of years along with that of kings and has numbered a hundred times fewer names than has the latter. It is, therefore, a great thing for anyone to procure for his name a permanent place in the history of philosophers.

§ 5

The philosophical author is the leader, his reader the wanderer. If they are to arrive together, they must above all start out together; in other words, the author must take up his reader at a standpoint which they undoubtedly have in common. This, however, can be none other than that of empirical consciousness that is common to us all. Let him, therefore, take him firmly by the hand and see how high above the clouds he can reach, step by step on the mountain path. Kant proceeded in this way; he started from the entirely common consciousness of other things as well as of his own self. On the other hand, how absurd it is to attempt to start from the standpoint of a pretended intellectual intuition of hyperphysical relations, or of events, or even of a reason [Vernunft] that perceives the supernatural, or of an absolute self-thinking reason [Vernunft]! For all this means starting from the standpoint of cognitions that are not directly communicable; and so here, at the very beginning, the reader never knows whether he is standing near his author or is miles away from him.

§ 6

Conversation about things with someone else is related to our own serious meditation and profound consideration of them as is a machine to a living organism. For only in the latter is everything as if it were cut from one piece or played in one key; and thus it can attain absolute clearness, distinctness, and true coherence, in fact unity; whereas with the former heterogeneous pieces of very different origin are put together and a certain unity of movement is forced which often stops unexpectedly. Thus only ourselves do we thoroughly understand; others are only half-understood, for at best we can attain to a community of concepts, not to that of intuitive apprehension which is the very basis thereof. Therefore profound philosophical truths will never be brought to light by way of common thinking in dialogue. Yet such a thing is very useful for the preliminary practice, hunting up, and ventilation of problems, and subsequently for the testing, control, and criticism of the suggested solution. Plato's dialogues are drawn up in this sense, and accordingly from his school there issued the second and third academies with an increasingly sceptical tendency. As a form for the communication of philosophical ideas the written dialogue is appropriate only when the subject admits of two or more quite different or even opposite views. The judgement concerning them is to be left to the reader; or taken together they lead to a complete and correct comprehension of the matter. To the first case belongs the refutation of objections that are raised. But then the dialogue form that is chosen for this purpose must become genuinely dramatic in that the variety of views is thoroughly stressed and worked out; there must really be two who speak. Without some such purpose it is mere idle play, as is often the case.

§ 7

Neither our knowledge nor our insight will ever be increased to any great extent by a comparison and discussion of what has been said by others; for this is always merely like pouring water from one vessel into another. Only through our own contemplation of things themselves can insight and knowledge be really enriched; for it alone is the living source that is always ready and at hand. It is, therefore, curious to see how would-be philosophers are always busy on the former path and do not appear to know the latter at all; how they are always concerned with what one man has said and what another may have meant. Thus they are, so to speak, always turning old vessels upside down to see whether some drop may have been left behind, whereas the living source flows neglected at their feet. Nothing so much as this betrays their incapacity and gives the lie to their assumed air of importance, profundity, and originality.

§ 8

Those who hope to become philosophers by studying the history of philosophy ought rather to infer from this that philosophers, like poets, are only born, and indeed much more rarely.

§ 9

A strange and unworthy definition of philosophy, which even Kant gives, is that it is a branch of learning from mere concepts. Yet the whole property of concepts is nothing but what has been deposited in them, after it had been begged and borrowed from knowledge of intuitive perception, that real and inexhaustible source of all insight. Therefore a true philosophy cannot be spun out of mere abstract concepts, but must be based on observation and experience, both inner and outer. It is not by the attempts at the combination of concepts, such as have been so often carried out, especially by the sophists of our times, Fichte and Schelling, yet in its most repulsive form by Hegel and also in morality by Schleiermacher, that anything sound will ever be achieved in philosophy. Like art and poetry, it must have its source in an apprehension of the world through intuitive perception. Moreover, however much the head has to remain uppermost, the course of things should not be so cold-blooded that the whole man, with heart and head, does not in the end take action and become thoroughly roused. Philosophy is no algebraical sum; on the contrary, Vauvenargues is right when he says: Les grandes pensees viennent du coeur. [3]

§ 10

On the whole, the philosophy of all times can be conceived as a pendulum swinging between rationalism and illuminism, that is, between the use of the objective source of knowledge and that of the subjective.

Rationalism, having for its organ the intellect that is originally destined to serve the will alone and is thus directed outwards, makes its first appearance as dogmatism; and as such it maintains a completely objective attitude. It then changes to scepticism and, in consequence thereof, ultimately becomes criticism. Through a consideration of the subject, it undertakes to settle the dispute; in other words, it becomes transcendental philosophy. By this I understand every philosophy that starts from the fact that its nearest and immediate object are not things, but only man's consciousness thereof, which should, therefore, never be left out of account. The French somewhat inaccurately call this the methode psychologique as opposed to the methode purement logique, by which they understand quite simply the philosophy that starts from objects or from objectively thought concepts, and hence dogmatism. Having now reached this point, rationalism arrives at the knowledge that its organon grasps only the phenomenon, but does not reach the ultimate, inner, and original essence of things.

At all its stages, yet here most of all, illuminism asserts itself as its antithesis. Directed essentially inwards, illuminism has as its organon inner illumination, intellectual intuition, higher consciousness, immediately knowing reason [Vernunft], divine consciousness, unification, and the like, and disparages rationalism as the 'light of nature'. Now if here it takes as its basis a religion, it becomes mysticism; but its fundamental defect is that its knowledge is not communicable. This is due partly to the fact that for inner perception there is no criterion of identity of the object of different subjects, and partly to the fact that such knowledge would nevertheless have to be communicated by means of language. But this has arisen for the purpose of the intellect's outwardly directed knowledge by means of abstractions therefrom and is quite unsuited for expressing the inner states or conditions which are fundamentally different from it and are the material of illuminism. And so this would have to form a language of its own; but this again is not possible, on account of the first reason previously mentioned. Now as such a knowledge is not communicable, it is also undemonstrable, whereupon rationalism again enters the field hand in hand with scepticism. Illuminism can be traced even in certain passages of Plato; but it makes a more definite appearance in the philosophy of the Neo-Platonists, the Gnostics, Dionysius the Areopagite, as well as in that of Scotus Erigena; further among the Mohammedans in the teaching of the Sufi)" in India it is dominant in the Vedanta and Mimansa; it appears most decidedly in Jacob Boehme and all the Christian mystics. It always appears when rationalism has run its course without attaining its goal. Thus it came towards the end of the scholastic philosophy and in opposition thereto as mysticism, especially of the Germans, in Tauler and the author of the Theologia Germanica among others; and likewise in modern times in opposition to the Kantian philosophy, in Jacobi and Schelling and similarly in Fichte's last period. But philosophy should be communicable knowledge and must, therefore, be rationalism. Accordingly, at the end of my philosophy I have indicated the sphere of illuminism as something that exists but I have guarded against setting even one foot thereon. For I have not undertaken to give an ultimate explanation of the world's existence, but have only gone as far as is possible on the objective path of rationalism. I have left the ground free for illuminism where, in its own way, it may arrive at a solution to all problems without obstructing my path or having to engage in polemic against me.

Nevertheless, a concealed illuminism may often enough underlie rationalism; and to such an illuminism the philosopher then looks as to a hidden compass, whereas he admittedly steers his course only by the stars, that is, in accordance with external objects which clearly lie before him and which alone he takes into account. This is admissible because he does not undertake to communicate incommunicable knowledge, but his communications remain purely objective and rational. This may have been the case with Plato, Spinoza, Malebranche, and many others; it does not concern anyone, for they are the secrets of their own breast. On the other hand, the noisy appeal to intellectual intuition and the bold statement of its substance with a claim to the objective validity thereof, as in the case of Fichte and Schelling, are impudent and objectionable.

For the rest, illuminism is in itself a natural, and to that extent justifiable, attempt to ascertain the truth. For the outwardly directed intellect, as mere organon for the purposes of the will and consequently something merely secondary, is nevertheless only a part of our entire human nature. It belongs to the phenomenon and its knowledge merely corresponds thereto, since it exists solely for the purpose of the phenomenon. Therefore what can be more natural than that, when we have failed with the objectively knowing intellect, we now bring into play all that remains of our true being which must also be the thing-in-itself and thus belong to the true nature of the world and consequently somehow carry within itself the solution to all the riddles in order through it to seek help? This would be like the ancient Germans who, when they had gambled away everything, finally staked their own persons. But the only correct and objectively valid way of carrying this out is for us to apprehend the empirical fact of a will that proclaims itself in our inmost being and constitutes our only true nature and to apply this fact in order to explain objective external knowledge, as I have accordingly done. On the other hand, for the reasons already stated, the path of illuminism does not lead to the goal.

§ 11

Mere astuteness qualifies one to be a sceptic, but not a philosopher. Nevertheless, scepticism is in philosophy what the opposition is in parliament; it is as beneficial as it is necessary. It is everywhere based on the fact that philosophy is not capable of evidence of the kind that mathematics has, any more than a human being is capable of the tricks of animal instinct which are also just as a priori certain. Therefore against every system, scepticism will always be able to lay itself in the other scale; but compared with the other, its weight will ultimately become so insignificant that it no more impairs it than it does the arithmetical squaring of the circle which in fact is only approximate.

What we know has a double value if at the same time we own up to not knowing what we do not know. For in this way, what we know becomes free from suspicion to which it is exposed when, like the Schellingites for instance, we pretend to know even what we do not know.

§ 12

Declarations of reason [Vernunft] is the expression used by everyone for certain propositions which he regards as true without investigation and which he believes with so firm a conviction that, even if he wanted to, he could never bring himself seriously to test them, for to do so he would meanwhile have to call them in question. They have become firmly believed by him because, when he began to speak and think, they were constantly taught to him and were thus implanted in his mind. Therefore his habit of thinking them is just as old as is the habit of thinking itself, so that the result is that he is no longer able to separate the two; in fact they have grown up with his brain. What is said here is so true that to support it with examples would be superfluous on the one hand, and hazardous on the other.

§ 13

No view of the world can be entirely false which has sprung from an objective intuitive apprehension of things and has been logically and consistently maintained. On the contrary, such a view is in the worst case only one-sided as, for example, thorough materialism, absolute idealism, and others. They are all true, but they are all this simultaneously; consequently their truth is only relative. Thus every such conception is true only from a definite standpoint just as a picture presents a landscape only from one point of view. If, however, we raise ourselves above the standpoint of such a system, we recognize the relative nature of its truth, that is, its one-sidedness. Only the highest standpoint that surveys and takes into account everything can furnish us with absolute truth. Accordingly, it is true, for instance, when I consider myself as a merely temporal product of nature which has come into being and is destined to complete destruction, somewhat after the manner of Ecclesiastes. At the same time, it is true that everything that ever was and ever will be I am, and outside me there is nothing. It is just as true when, after the manner of Anacreon, I put the greatest happiness in the enjoyment of the present moment; but at the same time it is true when I recognize the salutary nature of suffering and the emptiness and even pernicious influence of all pleasure, and conceive death as the aim and object of my existence.

All this is due to the fact that every view that is logically carried out is only an objective apprehension of nature through intuitive perception, which is translated into concepts and thereby fixed. But nature, in other words, that which is intuitively perceptual, never lies or contradicts herself, for her inner essence excludes any such thing. Therefore whenever we have contradiction and falsehood, we have ideas that have not sprung from objective apprehension, e.g., in optimism. On the other hand, an objective apprehension may be incomplete and one-sided; it then needs to be supplemented, not refuted.

§ 14

One is never tired of reproaching metaphysics with its very small progress in face of the great advance made by the physical sciences. Even Voltaire exclaims: O metaphysique! nous sommes aussi avances que du tems des premiers Druides [4] (Melanges philosophiques, ch. 9). But what other branch of knowledge has always had, like metaphysics, an ex officio antagonist, an appointed fiscal prosecutor, a king's champion in full armour, as a permanent hindrance, who falls upon it defenceless and weaponless? It will never show its true powers, never be able to make its giant strides, so long as it is expected under threats to accommodate itself to dogmas that are adapted to the very small capacity of the masses. First our arms are tied and then we are ridiculed because we cannot achieve anything.

Religions have taken possession of man's metaphysical tendency partly by paralysing it through the early inculcation of their dogmas and partly by forbidding and tabooing all free and unprejudiced expressions of it. Thus for man the free investigation concerning the most important and interesting affairs, namely his very existence, is to some extent directly forbidden, indirectly prevented, or rendered impossible subjectively through that paralysing effect; and in this way the sublimest of his faculties lies in fetters.

§ 15

In order to become tolerant of the views of others which are opposed to our own and to be patient with contradiction, perhaps nothing is more effective than for us to remember how often we ourselves have successively held quite opposite opinions on the same subject and have repeatedly changed them, sometimes even within a very short period; how we have rejected and again taken up an opinion and then its opposite, according as the subject presented itself now in this light and now in that.

In the same way, nothing is more calculated to find favour with another, after we have contradicted his opinion, than the phrase: 'I was previously of the same opinion but' and so on.

§ 16

A false teaching, whether founded on an erroneous view or sprung from an unworthy purpose, is always intended only for special circumstances and consequently for a certain time; but truth is for all time, although for a while it may be misunderstood or stifled. For as soon as a little light comes from within or a little air from without, someone is found to proclaim or defend it. Thus since it has not sprung from the design or purpose of any party, any eminent mind becomes its champion at any time. For it is like the magnet that points always and everywhere in one absolutely definite direction; the false teaching, on the other hand, is like a statue which with its hand points to another; when once it is separated from this, it has lost all significance.

§ 17

What is most opposed to the discovery of truth is not the false appearance that proceeds from things and leads to error, or even directly a weakness of the intellect. On the contrary, it is the preconceived opinion, the prejudice, which, as a spurious a priori, is opposed to truth. It is then like a contrary wind that drives the ship back from the direction in which the land lies, so that rudder and sail now work to no purpose.

§ 18

I comment as follows on the verse from Goethe's Faust:

What from your fathers' heritage is lent,
Earn it anew, really to possess it! [5]

It is of great value and advantage for us to discover by our own means, independently of thinkers and before we know it, what they have already discovered before us. For what we have thought out for ourselves is understood much more thoroughly than what we have learnt; and when we subsequently find it in the works of those earlier thinkers, it obtains through the acknowledged authority of others an unexpected confirmation that speaks strongly in favour of its truth. In this way, we then gain confidence and assurance for championing it in face of every contradiction.

If, on the other hand, we have first discovered something in books, but have then arrived at the same result through our own reflection, we never know for certain whether we have thought this out and judged it for ourselves and have not merely repeated the words of those earlier thinkers or appropriated their sentiments. Now this makes a very great difference as regards the certainty of the matter. For in the latter case, we might after all have erred with those thinkers through our being preoccupied with them, just as water readily follows a well-worn course. If two men independently do a calculation and obtain the same result, this is sure and certain; but not if the calculation of one of them has been merely looked through by the other.


It is a consequence of the nature of our intellect, sprung as it is from the will, that we cannot help conceiving the world either as end or as means. Now the first would assert that its existence was justified by its essence and that such existence would, therefore, be decidedly preferable to its non-existence. But the knowledge that it is only the scene of struggle for suffering and dying beings renders this idea untenable. Again, the infinity of the time that has already elapsed does not admit of its being conceived as means, for by virtue of infinite time, every end to be attained would necessarily have been reached long ago. From this it follows that that application of the presupposition, natural to our intellect, to the totality of things or to the world is transcendent j in other words, it is one that is valid in the world, but not of the world. This can be explained from the fact that it springs from the nature of an intellect that has originated, as I have shown, for the service of an individual will, that is to say, for attaining the objects thereof. Such an intellect is exclusively concerned with ends and means and consequently neither knows nor conceives anything else at all.

§ 20

When one looks outwards, where the vastness of the world and the infinitude of its beings display themselves, one's own self as a mere individual shrinks to nothing and seems to vanish. Carried away by this very immensity of mass and number, one thinks further that only the outwardly directed, and hence objective, philosophy can be on the right path; it had never even occurred to the oldest Greek philosophers to doubt this.

On the other hand, if we look inwards, we find in the first place that every individual takes an immediate interest only in himself; indeed he has his own self more at heart than all else put together. This comes from the fact that he knows directly only himself, but everything else merely indirectly. Now if in addition we consider that conscious and knowing beings are conceivable solely as individuals, but that those without consciousness have only a half-existence, one that is merely mediate, then all real and true existence comes down to individuals. Finally, we call to mind that the object is conditioned by the subject, that this immeasurable outside world, therefore, has its existence only in the consciousness of knowing beings. Consequently, this world is so definitely tied to the existence of individuals who are its bearers that it can in this sense be regarded even as a mere equipment, an accident, of the always individual consciousness. If we bear all this in mind, we arrive at the view that only the inwardly directed philosophy, starting from the subject as that which is immediately given, and hence the philosophy of the moderns since Descartes, is on the right lines and that the ancients have, therefore, overlooked the main point. But of this we become perfectly convinced only when we descend into and commune with ourselves and bring to our consciousness the feeling of originality which resides in every knowing being. More than this, everyone, even the most insignificant, finds himself in his simple self-consciousness as the most real of all beings and necessarily recognizes in himself the true centre of the world, indeed the primary source of all reality. And could this ultimate consciousness lie? Its most powerful expression is the words of the Upanishad: hae omnes creaturae in totum ego sum, et praeter me ens aliud non est, et omnia ego creata feci [6] (Oupnek'hat, Pt. 1, p. 122). This of, course, is the transition to illuminism and even mysticism. This, then, is the result of inwardly directed contemplation, whereas the outwardly directed shows us as the goal of our existence a heap of ashes.* From my point of view, the following would be of use concerning the division of philosophy which is of importance especially as regards its exposition.

§ 21

From my point of view, the following would be of use concerning the division of philosophy which is of importance especially as regards its exposition.

Philosophy, it is true, has as its object experience, but not, like the other branches of knowledge, this or that definite experience. On the contrary, it has just experience itself, generally and as such, according to its possibility, its sphere, its essential content, its inner and outer elements, its form and matter. Consequently, philosophy must certainly have empirical foundations and cannot be spun out of pure abstract concepts, as I have explained at length in the second volume of my chief work, chapter 17, and have also given as a brief resume in § 9 above. From its declared subject-matter, it follows also that the first thing it has to consider must be the medium wherein experience in general presents itself, together with the form and nature of that medium. This is the representation, the mental picture, knowledge, and thus the intellect. Therefore every philosophy has to begin with an investigation of the faculty of knowledge, its forms and laws, and also the validity and limits thereof. Accordingly, such an investigation will be philosophia prima. It is divided into a consideration of primary representations, i.e. representations of intuitive perception, and this part may be called dianoiology or theory of the understanding; and into a consideration of secondary representations, i.e. abstract representations, together with the order of their manipulation, and thus logic or the theory of reason [Vernunft]. Now this general part at the same time embraces or rather replaces what was formerly called ontology and was put forward as the doctrine of the most universal and essential properties and qualities of things in general and as such. For one regarded as the properties of things-in-themselves that which belongs to them only in consequence of the form and nature of our representation-faculty, since all beings to be apprehended thereby must exhibit themselves in accordance with its form and nature and in consequence they then bear certain properties or qualities that are common to them all. This is comparable to our attributing the colour of a glass to the objects that are seen through it.

The philosophy following on such investigations is then metaphysics in the narrower sense, since it not only makes us acquainted with nature, with what is actually present, and considers the order and sequence thereof, but conceives it as a phenomenon which is given but somehow conditioned and in which an essence or entity manifests itself, such entity being different from the phenomenon itself and accordingly would be the thing-in-itself. Now philosophy in our sense tries to become more closely acquainted with this thing-in-itself. The means to this are par,tly the bringing together of outer and inner experience, partly the arrival at an understanding of the whole phenomenon by discovering its meaning and connection-comparable to the reading of hitherto mysterious characters of an unknowing writing. On this path our philosophy proceeds from the phenomenal appearance to that which appears, to that which is hidden behind the phenomenon; thus [x]. [7] Consequently, it is divided into three parts:

Metaphysics of Nature,
Metaphysics of the Beautiful,
Metaphysics of Morals.

Nevertheless, the tracing of this division to its origin already presupposes metaphysics itself which shows the thing-in-itself, the inner and ultimate essence of the phenomenon, to be in our will. Therefore after its consideration as it manifests itself in external nature, its entirely different and immediate manifestation within ourselves is investigated, whence we have the metaphysics of morals. Prior to this, however, the purest and most perfect apprehension of the will's external or objective phenomenon is taken into consideration and this gives us the metaphysics of the beautiful.

There is no rational psychology or doctrine of the soul since, as Kant has proved, the soul is a transcendent hypostasis, undemonstrated and unwarranted as such; accordingly, the antithesis of 'spirit and nature' is left to Philistines and Hegelians. Man's essence-in-itself can be understood only in conjunction with the essence-in-itself of all things and thus of nature. Therefore in the Phaedrus Plato makes Socrates put the question in a negative sense (c. 54, 270C): [x] (Animae vero naturam absque totius natura suificienter cognosei posse existimas?). [8] Thus microcosm and macrocosm elucidate each other, whereby they prove to be essentially the same. This consideration that is associated with man's inner nature, penetrates and permeates the whole of metaphysics in all its parts and cannot again appear separately as psychology. On the other hand, anthropology, as a science of experience, can be established, but is partly anatomy and physiology-partly mere empirical psychology, that is to say, knowledge of the moral and intellectual manifestations and peculiarities of the human race which is drawn from observation as well as knowledge of the variety of individuals in this respect. Yet the most important thing from this is necessarily, as empirical material, taken up and worked out by the three parts of metaphysics. What still remains then calls for fine observation and intelligent interpretation, indeed contemplation from a somewhat higher point of view; I mean from that of a certain superiority. It is, therefore, to be enjoyed only in the works of eminent minds such as those of Theophrastus, Montaigne, La Rochefoucauld, La Bruyere, Helvetius, Chamfort, Addison, Shaftesbury, Shenstone, Lichtenberg, and others. But it is not to be sought or endured in the compendiums of professors of philosophy who have no intellect and therefore hate it.



1 ['War of all against all'.]

2 ['Under what auspices'.]
3 ['Great thoughts come from the heart'.]

4 ['O metaphysics! We have come as far as the times of the early Druids.']

5 [From Bayard Taylor's translation.]

* Finite and infinite are concepts that have significance merely in reference to space and time since both these are infinite, that is, endless, just as they are infinitely divisible. If we still apply these two concepts to other things, then it must be to such as fill space and time and partake of the qualities thereof. From this it may be gathered how much these two concepts have in the nineteenth century been abused by philosophasters and windbags.

6 ['I am all this creation collectively, and besides me there exists no other being. I have created everything.']

7 ['What follows on physics'. An allusion to the etymology of the term 'metaphysical' (lit. 'the books after the Physics').]

8 ['Do you believe that it is possible to know the essential nature of the soul in a proper way without knowing the essential nature of the whole universe?']
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Re: Parerga and Paralipomena: Short Philosophical Essays

Postby admin » Tue Jan 30, 2018 12:50 am

CHAPTER 2: On Logic and Dialectic

§ 22

Every general truth is related to special ones as gold to silver in so far as we can convert it into a considerable number of special truths that follow from it, just as a gold coin can be turned into small change. For example, the entire life of the plant is a process of deoxidation, whereas that of the animal is one of oxidation; or again, wherever an electric current flows in a circuit, there arises at once a magnetic current cutting across it at right angles; or again, nulla animalia vocalia, nisi quae pulmonibus respirant; [1] or tout animal fossil est un animal perdu; [2] or no egg-laying animal has a diaphragm. All these are universal truths from which we can derive very many particular truths in order to use them for explaining phenomena that occur or even anticipate these before they appear. General truths are just as valuable in the sphere of morals and psychology. Indeed, how golden is every general rule here, every sentence of the kind, in fact every proverb! For they are the quintessence of thousands of events which are repeated every day and are through them illustrated and exemplified.

§ 23

An analytical judgement is merely a concept drawn apart, whereas a synthetical is the formation of a new concept out of two that are already otherwise present in the intellect. But the combination of these two must then be brought about and established through some intuitive perception. Now according as this is empirical or is a pure a priori intuition, so will the resultant judgement be synthetical a posteriori or a priori.

Every analytical judgement contains a tautology and every judgement without any tautology is synthetical. It follows from this that in a discourse analytical judgements are to be used only on the assumption that the man addressed does not have so complete or ready a knowledge of the subject as does the man who addresses him. Further, the synthetical nature of geometrical propositions can be demonstrated from the fact that they contain no tautology. This is not so obvious in the case of arithmetic, but yet it is so. For the fact that, when we count from I to 4- and from I to 5, the unit is repeated just as often as when we count from I to 9, is not a tautology, but is brought about by the pure intuition of time and without this is inconceivable.

§ 24

From one proposition there cannot result more than what is already to be found therein, that is to say, more than it itself states for the exhaustive comprehension of its meaning. But from two propositions, if they are syllogistically connected to premisses, more can result than is to be found in each of them taken separately; just as a body that is a chemical compound displays properties that do not belong to any of its constituent elements considered separately. On this rests the value of syllogisms.

§ 25

Every demonstration of a truth is a logical deduction of the asserted proposition from one already settled and certain-with the aid of another as second premiss. Now that proposition must either have itself direct, more correctly original, certainty, or logically follow from one that has such certainty. Such propositions of an original certainty that is not brought about by any proof, constitute the fundamental truths of all the sciences and have always resulted from carrying over what is somehow intuitively apprehended into what is thought, the abstract. They are, therefore, called evident, a predicate that really belongs only to them and not to the merely demonstrated propositions that, as conclusiones ex praemissis, can be called merely logical or consequential. Accordingly, this truth of theirs is always only indirect, derived, and borrowed. Nevertheless, they can be just as certain as any proposition of direct truth, namely when they are correctly inferred from such a proposition even if only through parenthetical clauses. Even on this assumption, their truth can often be demonstrated and made clear to everyone more easily than can that of an axiom whose truth is to be known only immediately and intuitively because there lack now the objective, now the subjective conditions for the recognition of such an axiom. This relation is analogous to the case where the steel magnet, that is produced by having its magnetism imparted to it, has an attractive force not only just as strong as, but often stronger than, that of the original magnetic iron ore.

Thus the subjective conditions for knowing propositions that are directly true constitute what is called power of judgement; but this is one of the merits of superior minds; whereas no sound intellect lacks the ability to draw correct conclusions from given premisses. For to establish original propositions, that are directly true, we need to carryover into abstract knowledge that which is known through intuitive perception. But the ability to do this is extremely limited in the case of ordinary minds and extends only to an easily visible state of affairs as, for instance, to the axioms of Euclid, or even to quite simple facts that are plainly obvious to them. What goes beyond this can convince them only on the path of proof which calls for no other direct knowledge than that which is expressed in logic by the principles of contradiction and identity and is repeated in the proofs at every step. Therefore on such a path everything must be reduced for them to the simplest possible truths that are the only ones they are capable of directly grasping. If we proceed here from the general to the special, we have deduction, but if we go in the opposite direction we have induction.

On the other hand, minds capable of judgement, but even more so inventors and discoverers, possess in a much higher degree the ability to pass from what is intuitively perceived to what is thought or abstract; so that such ability extends to their discerning very complicated relationships. In this way, the field of propositions of direct truth is for them incomparably more extensive and embraces much whereof the rest can never obtain more than a feeble and merely indirect conviction. For the latter the proof of a newly discovered truth is subsequently sought, i.e. the reference to truths that are already acknowledged or otherwise beyond question. Yet there are cases where this is impracticable. For example, I can find no proof for the six fractions whereby I have expressed the six primary colours and which alone give an insight into the real specific nature of each one of them and thus for the first time actually explain colour to our understanding. Yet their absolute certainty is so great that scarcely any mind capable of judgement will seriously doubt them. And so Professor Rosas of Vienna presumed to give them out as the result of his own insight, and for this I took him to task in my work On the Will in Nature (Physiology and Pathology).

§ 26

Controversy, disputing on a theoretical subject, can undoubtedly be very profitable to the two parties engaged thereon since it corrects or confirms the ideas they have and also stimulates fresh ones. It is a conflict or collision of two minds which often causes sparks; yet it is also analogous to the collision of bodies in that the weaker has often to suffer for it, whereas the stronger comes off well and merely emits a triumphant note. In this respect, there is also the requirement that the two disputants should at any rate be fairly well matched in intellect and ability as well as in knowledge. If one of them lacks knowledge, he is not au niveau [3] and is thus not amenable to the arguments of the other; in the contest he is, so to speak, standing outside the ring. But if he lacks intellect, the exasperation that is soon stirred in him will induce him to make use of all kinds of unfair tricks, subterfuges, and chicanery in the dispute and to descend to rudeness when these are pointed out to him. Accordingly, just as those of equal rank and birth were admitted to tournaments, so above all a scholar should not argue with those who are illiterate; for he is unable to use his best arguments against them, since they lack the knowledge to understand and ponder over them. If, however, in this embarrassing situation he tries to make these clear to them, he will generally fail; in fact through a bad and crude counter-argument, they will appear to be right after all in the eyes of those who are as ignorant as they. And so Goethe says in the Westostlicher Diwan:

Let not yourself at any time
Be wrongly guided into argument;
The wise lapse into ignorance,
When disputing with the ignorant.

But it is even worse if the opponent is wanting in intellect and understanding unless he makes good this defect by a sincere attempt to obtain information and arrive at the truth. Otherwise he soon feels himself hurt at his tenderest spot; and then whoever argues with him will at once notice that he no longer has to deal with his intellect, but with the radical part of the man, his will, to which the only thing that matters is that he ultimately triumphs either per fas or per nefas. [4] Therefore his intellect is now directed exclusively to tricks, dodges, and every kind of unfairness; and when he is ultimately driven from these, he will finally resort to rudeness merely to compensate in some way for the inferiority he feels and, according to the station and circumstances of the disputants, to turn the conflict of minds into one of bodies, where he hopes for a better chance of success. Accordingly, we have the second rule that we should not argue with those of limited intellect. We can see already that there will not be many left with whom we can perhaps enter into an argument. Indeed we can do so only with those who are the exceptions. On the other hand, men as a rule take offence when we are not of their opinion; but then they should modify their opinions so that we could adopt them. Now in a controversy with them, we shall often experience only annoyance and vexation even when they do not resort to the abovementioned ultima ratio stultorum. [5] For here we shall have to do not merely with their intellectual incapacity, but very soon with their moral depravity as well which will reveal itself in the frequent dishonesty of their methods when they argue. The tricks, dodges, and chicanery, to which they resort in order to be right in the end, are so numerous and manifold and yet recur so regularly that some years ago I made them the subject of my own reflection and directed my attention to their purely formal element after I had perceived that, however varied the subjects of discussion and the persons taking part therein, the same identical tricks and dodges always came back and were very easy to recognize. This led me at the time to the idea of clearly separating the merely formal part of these tricks and dodges from the material and of displaying it, so to speak, as a neat anatomical specimen. I therefore collected all the dishonest tricks so frequently occurring in argument and clearly presented each of them in its characteristic setting, illustrated by examples and given a name of its own. Finally, I added the means to be used against them, as a kind of guard against these thrusts; and from this was developed a formal eristical dialectic. Now in this dialectic, the above-mentioned artifices or stratagems took the place, as eristical dialectical figures, which was filled in logic by the syllogistic figures and in rhetoric by the rhetorical. With both of these they have in common the fact that they are to a certain extent inborn in that their practice precedes theory; and so to exercise them we do not need to have first learnt them. Accordingly, their purely formal statement would be complementary to that technique of reason [Vernunft] which appears in the second volume of my chief work, chapter g, as consisting of logic, dialectic, and rhetoric. Since, as far as I know, no previous attempt of this kind exists, I could not avail myself of any preliminary work. Aristotle's Topica was the only work I could make use of here and there and for my purpose I was able to apply some of its rules for setting up ([x]) and setting aside ([x]) the statements. But the work of Theophrastus, [x], [6] mentioned by Diogenes Laertius, must have been really suitable for this; it has been lost with all his rhetorical writings. Plato (Republic, bk. v, p. 12, ed Bip.) also touches on an [x] [7] that taught [x], [8] just as [x] [9] taught [x]. [10] Of modern books, the one that best serves my purpose is that of the late Professor Friedemann Schneider of Halle, entitled Tractatus logicus singularis in quo processus disputandi, seu officia, aeque ac VITIA DISPUTANTIUM exhibentur, [11] Halle, 1718. This work is useful in so far as it exposes in the chapters on the vitia many instances of eristical unfairness. Yet he always has in mind only the formal academic disputations; moreover, his treatment of the subject is on the whole poor and feeble, as such faculty-fabrications usually are; and besides, it is in extremely bad Latin. The methodus disputandi of Joachim Lange which appeared a year later is definitely better, but contains nothing suitable for my purpose. With the revision, now undertaken, of that earlier work of mine, I find that such a detailed and minute consideration of the crooked ways and tricks that are used by common human nature to cover up its shortcomings is no longer suited to my temperament and so I lay it aside. However, to express in more detail my way of treating the subject for those who might in future feel disposed to undertake something of the kind, I will here set down one or two stratagems as specimens, but before so doing I will give from that same work the outline of what is essential to every disputation. For this furnishes the abstract framework, the skeleton so to speak, of the controversy in general and can, therefore, be regarded as its osteology. On account of its clearness and its visibility at a glance, it is well worth recording here. It runs:

In every disputation, whether carried on publicly in academic lecture-rooms and courts of law or in ordinary conversation, the essential procedure is as follows:

A thesis is stated and is to be refuted; now for this purpose there are two modes and two courses.

(1) The modes are ad rem and ad hominem, or ex concessis. [12] Only by the first do we upset the absolute or objective truth of the thesis by showing that it does not agree with the nature of the case in question. By the other, however, we upset merely its relative truth by showing that it contradicts other statements or admissions of the man who advocates the thesis, or by showing that his arguments are untenable whereby the objective truth of the case itself is then left really undecided. For instance, if in a controversy relating to matters of philosophy or natural science, the opponent (who for this purpose is bound to be an Englishman) ventures to advance biblical arguments, then we may refute him with just such arguments, although they are mere argumenta ad hominem which do not settle anything in the matter. It is as if we had paid someone in the very same paper-money we had received from him. In many cases, this modus procedendi is comparable to the plaintiff's producing in court a false promissory note that the defendant on his part forwarded by a false receipt; yet for all that the loan might have been made. But just like this latter case, the mere argumentatio ad hominem often has the advantage of brevity since, in the one case as in the other, the true and thorough explanation of the matter would frequently be extremely complicated and difficult.

(2) Further, the two courses are the direct and the indirect. The former strikes the thesis at its grounds or reasons, the latter at its results; the former shows that the thesis is not true, the latter that it cannot be true. We will consider this more closely.

(a) Refuting by the direct way and thus attacking the grounds or reasons of the thesis, we show either that these themselves are not true by saying nego majorem or nego minorem [13] through both of which we attack the subject-matter of the conclusion that establishes the thesis; or else we admit these grounds or reasons, but show that the thesis does not follow from them; and so we say nego consequentiam, [14] in which case we attack the form of the conclusion.

(b) Refuting by the indirect way and thus attacking the results of the thesis in order to infer from the falsity of these that of the thesis itself, by virtue of the law a falsitate rationati ad falsitatem rationis valet consequentia. [15] we can make use either of the instance or else of the apagoge.

(i) The instance, [x], is a mere exemplum in contrarium. [16] It refutes the thesis by indicating things or circumstances which are understood by its statement, but to which it obviously does not apply; and so it cannot be true.

(ii) The apagoge is brought about by our provisionally assuming the thesis to be true, but then associating it with some other proposition that is unquestioned and acknowledged as true, so that the two become the premisses of a syllogism whose conclusion is obviously false, in that it contradicts either the nature of things in general, or the state of the case in question which is definitely acknowledged, or else another statement of the defender of the thesis. Therefore the apagoge can be ad rem as well as merely ad hominem, according to the mode. Now if that conclusion contradicts truths that are absolutely beyond question and are even a priori certain, then we have reduced our opponent's position ad absurdum. In any case, as the other added premiss is of undoubted truth, the falsity of the conclusion must result from his thesis; and so this cannot be true.

Every method of attack in an argument will be reducible to the methods of procedure that are here formally described. Therefore these are in dialectics what the regular thrusts, such as the tierce, the carte, and so on, are in the art of fencing. On the other hand, the devices or stratagems, compiled by me, would be comparable possibly to the feints; and finally the personal outbursts in an argument might be compared to the so-called irregular cuts of the university fencing-masters. As specimens and examples of those stratagems that have been collected by me, the following may here be mentioned.

Seventh stratagem: the extension. The opponent's statement is carried beyond its natural limits and so is taken in a sense wider than he intended or even expressed in order then conveniently to refute it in this sense.

Example: A asserts that the English surpass all other nations in the dramatic art. B makes the plausible instantia in contrarium that in music and consequently in 'opera their achievements are insignificant. It follows from this, as a guard to this feint, that, when a contradiction is made, we should at once limit our avowed statement strictly to expressions in use, or to their reasonably accepted meaning, and should generally contract them into the narrowest possible limits. For the more general a statement becomes, the more it is open to attacks.

Eighth stratagem: the tendency to draw conclusions. To the opponent's proposition we add often tacitly a second which is related to his through subject or predicate. From these two premisses we now draw a false and often malicious conclusion which is laid at the opponent's door.

Example: A praises the French for having expelled Charles the Tenth. B at once retorts: 'And so you want to expel our king.' The proposition tacitly added by him as major says: 'All who expel their king are to be praised.' This can be reduced also to the fallacia a dicto secundum quid ad dictum simpliciter. [17]

Ninth stratagem: the diversion. If, in the course of the argument, we notice that we are getting the worst of it and our opponent will win, we try to prevent this misfortune in time by a mutatio controversiae and hence by diverting the discussion on to another subject, to something of secondary importance, if necessary even at one bound. We now try to foist this on to the opponent in order to call it in question and make it, instead of the original subject, the theme of the controversy, so that the opponent has to abandon his expected victory in order to turn his attention to this. But here again if we should unfortunately see a strong counter-argument quickly marshalled against us, we should promptly do the same once more and thus again jump to something else. We can repeat this ten times in a quarter of an hour unless, of course, our opponent loses patience. We shall carry out these strategic diversions most adroitly by gradually and imperceptibly working the controversy round to a subject that is related to the one in question, if possible to something that actually concerns the opponent himself, only in another respect. Of course, it is less subtle if we keep merely to the subject of the thesis, but introduce other references to it which have nothing whatever to do with those under discussion; for example by passing from a talk on the Buddhism of the Chinese to their tea-trade. But now if this too is not even feasible, we lay hold of some expression which our opponent may chance to use in order to fasten on to it an entirely new controversy and thus to be rid of the old one. For instance, our opponent has expressed the following: 'This is just where the mystery of the matter lies', and we promptly cut in and say: ' Ah well if you are talking of mysteries and mysticism, then I am not your man, for as regards this', and so on, and we have won all along the line. But if no opportunity is given to do this, we must go to work even more boldly and suddenly jump to an entirely different subject somewhat as follows: 'Yes, and also quite recently you affirmed this', and so on. The diversion generally is of all the tricks used (often instinctively) by dishonest disputants the most favourite and familiar to which they almost inevitably resort whenever they get into difficulties.

I had, therefore, compiled and worked out some forty of such stratagems. But now I dislike throwing light on all these lurking places of narrow-mindedness and incapacity that are so closely allied to obstinacy, vanity, and dishonesty. I shall, therefore, rest content with this specimen and refer the more earnestly to the above-mentioned grounds for avoiding an argument with the common ruck of people. At all events, we may try to come to the aid of another's power of comprehension by arguments; but as soon as we notice in his rejoinders any obstinacy we should stop at once. For he will soon become unfair, and what in theory is a sophism is in practice chicanery. But the stratagems here introduced are even more worthless than sophisms. For in them the will puts on the mask of understanding in order to play the role thereof. The result is always detestable; for few things excite such indignation as when we observe a man who deliberately misunderstands. Whoever does not admit his opponent's sound arguments betrays an intellect that is either directly weak or is so indirectly through being suppressed by the mastery of his own will. We should, therefore, go for such a person only when duty and obligation require it. In spite of all this, however, to do justice to the above-mentioned tricks and dodges, I must confess that we may also act too hastily by surrendering our opinion to a striking argument of the opponent. Thus we feel the force of such, but the counter-arguments, or whatever else could save and sustain our statement itself, do not as readily occur to us. Now if, in such a case, we at once give up our thesis as lost, it may well be that, in so doing, we betray truth, since it might be discovered that after all we had been right. Through weakness and lack of confidence in our case, we had yielded to the impression of the moment. Even the proof we had advanced in favour of our thesis may have been actually false, but there may be another which is correct. Aware of this, even sincere lovers of the truth do not readily yield all at once to a good argument, but still try to offer a brief resistance; in fact in most instances, they stick to their statement even when counter-arguments have rendered its truth questionable. In this respect, they are like the commander of a force who tries for a while to hold on to a position which he knows he cannot maintain, in the hope that reinforcements will arrive. Thus they hope that, while for the time being they are defending themselves with inferior arguments, the sound ones will in the meantime occur to them, or that the mere plausibility of the opponent's arguments will become evident to them. Therefore we are almost compelled to be a little unfair in an argument in that, for the moment, we have to contend not so much for truth as for our own statement, in as much as this is a consequence of the uncertainty of truth and of the imperfection of the human intellect. But now there at once arises the danger that we may go too far in this direction, contend too long for a wrong conviction, and finally become stubborn and unyielding. There is the risk of our giving way to the baseness of human nature, of our defending our statement per fas et nefas [18] and thus with the aid of dishonest stratagems, and of our sticking to it mordicus. [19] May everyone be here protected by his good genius so that there will be no need for him afterwards to feel ashamed! However, a clear knowledge of the nature of the case, as here expounded, certainly leads to self-culture even in this respect.



1 ['No animals are vocal which do not breathe through lungs.']

2 ['Every fossil animal is an extinct animal.']

3 ['Up to the mark'.]
4 ['By hook or by crook'.]

5 ['The last resource of the stupid'.]

6 ['Theoretical manual concerning disputants'.]

7 ['Art of contradiction'.]

8 ['To dispute', 'to argue'.]

9 ['Art of conversation'.]

10 ('Discussion', 'conversation '.]

11 ['Special logical treatise in which the method used in disputation, its laws, and also the vices of the disputants are expounded'.]

12 ['Arguments in relation to the thing, in relation to the person (with whom  we are carrying on the discussion), on the basis of concessions'.]

13 ['I dispute the major proposition'; 'I dispute the minor proposition'.]

14 ['I dispute the conclusion (of the syllogism).']

15 ['From the falsity of the consequent follows the falsity of the ground or reason.']

16 ['Contrary example'.]

17 ['The trick of taking in an unlimited sense what was asserted in a limited'.]

18 ['By hook or by crook'.]

19 ['With all our might', 'by main force'.]
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Re: Parerga and Paralipomena: Short Philosophical Essays

Postby admin » Tue Jan 30, 2018 2:16 am

Part 1 of 3

CHAPTER 3: Ideas concerning the Intellect generally and in all Respects

§ 27

Every method in philosophy which is ostensibly without any assumption is humbug; for we must always regard something as given in order to start therefrom. Thus it states the [x] [1] that is the indispensable condition of all human action, even of philosophizing; since we are just as little capable of floating mentally in ether as we are of so doing physically. But such a point of departure in philosophizing, such a thing that is for the time being taken as given, must afterwards be again compensated and justified. This will be either subjective and thus possibly self-consciousness, representation or mental picture, the subject, the will; or else it will be objective and hence that which presents itself in the consciousness of other things, thus the world of reality, external objects, nature, matter, atoms, even a God, even a mere arbitrarily invented concept such as substance, the Absolute, or whatever it is supposed to be. And so to reconcile again the arbitrary procedure here carried out and to rectify the assumption, we must subsequently change the standpoint and take up the opposite one from which we now deduce once again in a supplementary philosophical argument that which was initially taken as given. Ita res accendent lumina rebus. [2]

For example, if we start from the subjective, as did Berkeley, Locke, and Kant in whom this method of consideration reached its highest level, we shall nevertheless obtain a philosophy that is in part very one-sided and to some extent not entirely justified, although this way has the greatest advantages on account of the really immediate nature of the subjective. We shall get such a philosophy unless we supplement it by taking once more as our starting-point what was deduced in it as given, and so by deducing from the opposite standpoint the subjective from the objective, as previously the objective had been from the subjective. I believe that, in the main, I have furnished this supplement to the Kantian philosophy in the second volume of my chief work, chapter 22, and in the work On the Will in Nature under the heading' Physiology of Plants', where I deduce the intellect by starting from external nature.

Now if we start the opposite way from the objective and at once take as our data the very many things around us, such as matter together with all the forces manifesting themselves therein, we soon have the whole of nature since such a method of consideration furnishes pure naturalism, more accurately called by me absolute physics. Therefore what is given and consequently is absolutely real, as generally understood, consists in the laws and forces of nature together with matter their bearer. Specially considered, however, it consists in an immense number of suns floating freely in infinite space and of planets revolving round them. Accordingly, the result everywhere is nothing but spheres, some illuminating, others illuminated. On the surface of the latter, in consequence of a process of putrefaction, life has developed which furnishes organic beings of many different degrees. These appear as individuals that begin and end in time through generation and death in accordance with the laws of nature which govern vital force. Such laws, like all others, constitute the prevailing order of things which lasts from eternity to eternity, without beginning and end and without accounting for themselves. Man occupies the highest point of that gradation of beings; and his existence also has a beginning, and in its course there are many grievous sorrows and few joys sparingly meted out; and then, like every other, it has an end after which it seems as though it had never been. Our absolute physics, which here conducts the investigation and fulfils the role of philosophy, now explains to us how, in consequence of those absolutely existing and valid laws of nature, one phenomenon always produces or even supplants another. Here everything happens quite naturally and is, therefore, perfectly clear and intelligible, so that to the whole of the world thus explained we could apply a phrase that Fichte was in the habit of using when from the professorial throne he produced his dramatic talents with profound seriousness, impressive emphasis, and an air so disconcerting to students: 'It is because it is; and it is as it is because it is so.' Accordingly from this standpoint, it seems to be a mere whim still to want to look for other explanations of a world that is rendered so clear, and to try to find them in a wholly imaginary metaphysics whereon a system of morality would again be based that had its sole support in those fictions of metaphysics because it could not be established through physics. On this rests the obvious contempt with which physicists look down on metaphysics. But in spite of all the self-sufficiency of that purely objective philosophizing, the one-sidedness of the standpoint and the necessity to change it and thus to make the theme of investigation the knowing subject, together with its cognitive faculty in which alone all those worlds first have their existence, will sooner or later assert themselves in many different forms and on many different occasions. Thus, for example, the view that the validity of all such knowledge is only relative and conditioned, but not unconditioned, as our present-day rationalists take it to be, is the basis of that expression of the Christian mystics who call the human intellect the light of nature and declare it to be in the last resort incompetent. On this account the rationalists look down on the profound mysteries of Christianity, just as the physicists ridicule metaphysics. For instance, they consider that the dogma of original sin is a superstition because their plain and homely Pelagian intellect has happily made out that no one can be responsible for what another did six thousand years before him. For the rationalist confidently follows his light of nature and so really and quite seriously imagines that forty or fifty years ago, namely before his papa in nightcap had procreated him and his simple mama had safely brought him forth into this world, he was simply and absolutely nothing and arose out of nothing precisely at the moment. For only thus can he not be responsible for anything. The sinner and original sinner!

And so, as I have said, in many different ways, but most of all on the inescapable path of philosophy, speculation that follows objective knowledge will sooner or later begin to suspect something and thus to see that all its wisdom, obtained on the objective side, is accepted on the credit of the human intellect and consequently is absolutely conditioned thereby. Nevertheless, such an intellect must have its own forms, functions, and method of presentation. There follows from all this the necessity here to change the standpoint and to adopt the subjective method instead of the objective, and thus to make the intellect itself the theme of our investigation and put its authority to the test. For hitherto, this intellect has with absolute self-confidence calmly built up its dogmatism and has quite boldly passed a priori judgement on the world and everything therein, even on its possibility. This change will in the first instance lead to Locke, then to the Critique of Pure Reason, and finally to the knowledge that the light of nature is one that is directed only outwards and that, if it wanted to bend back and illuminate its own interior, it cannot do so, and so cannot immediately dispel the darkness that prevails there. Only on the roundabout path of reflection that is followed by those philosophers, and with great difficulty, does it obtain information about its own mechanism and nature. Accordingly, it becomes clear to the intellect that it is originally destined to grasp mere relations, such being sufficient for the service of an individual will, and that it is, therefore, directed essentially outwards. Even here it is only a superficial force like electricity; in other words, it grasps merely the surface of things, but never penetrates their interior. Again for the very same reason, it is incapable of fully and fundamentally understanding and fathoming a single thing of all those that are objectively clear and real to it, even the smallest and simplest; on the contrary, in each and every thing the main point remains for it a mystery. But in this way, the intellect is then led to a deeper insight which is denoted by the word idealism, namely that this objective world and its order, as apprehended by the intellect with its operations, does not exist unconditionally and therefore in itself, but arises by means of the brain's functions and so exists primarily in the brain alone. Consequently in this form, it has only a conditioned and relative existence and is, therefore, a mere phenomenon, a mere appearance. Hitherto, man had looked for the grounds of his own existence, whereby he assumed that the laws of knowing, thinking, and experience were purely objective, that they existed absolutely in and by themselves, and that he and everything else existed merely in virtue of them. But now he recognizes conversely that his intellect, and consequently his existence as well, are the condition of all those laws and what follows therefrom. Finally, he sees also that the ideality of space, time, and causality, which has now become clear to him, makes way for an entirely different order of things from that of nature. Yet he is forced to regard the order of nature as the result or hieroglyphic of that other order.

§ 28

How little suited to philosophical reflection the human intellect is as a rule, is seen, among other things, in the fact that even now, after all that has been said on the subject since Descartes, realism still always confidently faces idealism with the naive assertion that bodies exist as such not merely in our representation or mental picture, but also really and actually. But it is precisely this reality itself, this mode and manner of existence together with all that it contains, whereof we affirm that it exists only in the representation and is not to be found anywhere else, since it is only a certain necessary arrangement of the nexus of our representations. In spite of all that the earlier idealists, especially Berkeley, taught, it is only through Kant that we first obtain a really thorough conviction of it because he does not dispose of the matter all at once, but goes into detail, separates the a priori, and everywhere takes into account the empirical element. Now whoever has once understood the ideality of the world sees that the statement that such a world would still exist even if it were not the representation or mental picture of anyone, is really meaningless, since it states a contradiction. For the fact of its being in existence means simply that it is represented or becomes a mental picture; its existence itself resides in the representation or mental picture of the subject. This is precisely what is stated by the expression 'it is object'.* Accordingly, the nobler, older, and better religions, such as Brahmanism and Buddhism, also base their teachings entirely on idealism and consequently expect even the masses to acknowledge this. Judaism, on the other hand, is a veritable concentration and consolidation of realism.

A piece of fraudulent trickery, introduced by Fichte and since admitted by the universities, is to be found in the expression 'the ego'. That which is essentially and positively subjective is here converted into the object by the substantive part of speech and the article in front of it. For in reality I or ego indicates the subjective as such which can, therefore, never become object, namely the knowing in contrast to, and as a condition of, all that is known. The wisdom of all languages has expressed this by treating ego or I not as a substantive; and so to carry out his purpose, Fichte had simply to strain the meaning of language. An even more brazen piece of trickery of this same Fichte is the scandalous misuse of the word setzen, to set, to put, to posit, ponere, which, instead of being denounced and exploded, is frequently employed, even at the present day, by almost all philosophasters, on his example and authority, as a regular expedient for sophisms and false teachings. Setzen, ponere, from which we get propositio, has for ages been a purely logical expression stating that in the logical sequence of a disputation or of any other discussion, we assume, presuppose, and affirm something for the time being and thus temporarily give it logical validity and formal truth, whereby its reality, its material truth and actuality remain absolutely untouched, unsettled, and undecided. Fichte, however, gradually obtained surreptitiously for this setzen a real, but naturally obscure and vague, meaning that was accepted by the duffers and constantly used by the sophists. Thus since the ego first posited itself and then the non-ego, to put or to posit is the equivalent of to create, to produce, in short, to put into the world, we know not how. Then everything we would like to assume as existing without reasons or grounds and to impose on others, is just put or posited, and there it stands before us quite real. This is the method still in force of the so-called post-Kantian philosophy, and it is the work of Fichte.

§ 29

The ideality of time, discovered by Kant, is really contained already in the law of inertia appertaining to mechanics. For at bottom, this law states that mere time is incapable of producing any physical effect; thus by itself and alone, time effects no change in the rest or motion of a body. We see from this that time is not something physically real, but transcendentally ideal, in other words, that it has its origin not in things, but in the knowing subject. If time were inherent in things themselves as a quality or accident, then its quantum and hence its length or shortness would necessarily be capable of changing something in them. But it is quite incapable of doing this; on the contrary, it passes over things without making the slightest impression thereon. For in the course of time causes alone are effective, certainly not the course itself. Therefore if a body is withdrawn from all chemical influences, thousands of years do not bring about any change in it; as for instance, the mammoth in the ice-floe on the River Lena, the fly in the amber, a precious metal in absolutely dry air, Egyptian antiquities (even wigs) in the dry rock-tomb. Therefore it is the same absolute ineffectiveness of time which appears in mechanics as the law of inertia. If a body has once received motion, no time can deprive it thereof or even diminish this; such motion is absolutely endless unless physical causes operate against it. In the same way, a body at rest remains so eternally unless physical causes make their appearance and set it in motion. Therefore it follows from this that time is something that does not affect bodies, indeed that the two are of a heterogeneous nature, since that reality attaching to bodies cannot be attributed to time. Accordingly, time is absolutely ideal, that is, it belongs to the mere representation and to the apparatus thereof. Bodies, on the other hand, through the manifold variety of their qualities and of the effects of these, show that they are not merely ideal, but that at the same time something objectively real, a thing-in-itself, is revealed in them, however different such may be from this its phenomenon.

Motion is, in the first instance, a merely phoronomical event, that is to say, one whose elements are taken solely from time and space. Matter is that which is movable; it is already an objectification of the thing-in-itself. But now its absolute indifference to rest and motion, enabling it to remain for ever in the one as in the other as soon as it has assumed this and to be disposed to fly as well as to rest throughout an eternity, shows that space and time and thus the opposite extremes of motion and rest that arise simply from these, do not adhere at all to the thing-in-itself which manifests itself as matter and endows this with all its forces. On the contrary, space and time are utterly foreign to the thing-in-itself and consequently have come not from what appears in the phenomenon, but from the intellect that perceives and apprehends this phenomenon. Space and time belong to this intellect as the forms thereof.

Incidentally, if anyone wishes to have a really vivid intuition of this law of inertia, let him imagine he is standing on the edge of the world before empty space and is firing a pistol into it. The bullet will fly in a constant direction throughout all eternity; billions of years of flight will never weary it; there will never be any lack of space into which it will continue to fly; nor will time ever run short for it and come to an end. Moreover, there is the fact that we know all this a priori and, precisely on this account, with absolute certainty. I think that the transcendental ideality, i.e. the cerebral phantasmagoria, of the whole thing becomes uncommonly clear.

A consideration of space, analogous and parallel to the foregoing one of time, might perhaps be associated with the fact that matter cannot be increased or diminished either by scattering it far and wide or again by compressing it in space; and also that in absolute space rest and motion in a straight line coincide phoronomically and are the same thing.

An anticipation of the Kantian doctrine of the ideality of time is seen in very many statements of ancient philosophers concerning which I have in other passages already mentioned what is necessary. Spinoza plainly says: tempus non est affectio rerum, sed tantum merus modus cogitandi. [3] (Cogitata metaphysica, c. 4.) The consciousness of the ideality of time really underlies even the concept of eternity which has existed from time immemorial. Thus essentially, eternity is the very opposite of time and those with any insight have always understood its concept in this way. This they were able to do only as a result of feeling that time resides merely in our intellect, not in the essence of things-in- themselves. It is merely through lack of understanding that the wholly incompetent were incapable of interpreting the concept of eternity except as an endless time. It is just this that forced the scholastics to such express utterances as: aeternitas non est temporis sine fine successio, sed Nunc stans; [4] even Plato had said so in the Timaeus, and Plotinus repeats it: [x]. [5] For this purpose, we could call time an eternity drawn apart and base thereon the statement that, if there were no eternity, there also could be no time, indeed that our intellect can produce this only because we ourselves stand in eternity. Since Kant, the concept of being outside time has in the same sense been introduced into philosophy; nevertheless, we should be very cautious in our use of it, for it is one of those that may well be thought of, but can never be substantiated and realized by any intuitive perception.

That time runs on with perfect regularity everywhere and in all bodies might be quite conceivable if it were something purely external, objective, and perceivable through the senses as are bodies. But it is not so; we cannot see or touch it. Moreover, it is by no means the mere movement or other change of bodies; on the contrary, this is in time which is, therefore, already presupposed by it as a condition. For a clock goes too quickly or too slowly, but not time with it; on the contrary, that which is uniform, regular, and normal and to which quick and slow refer, is the actual course of time. The clock measures time but does not make it. If all clocks stopped; if the sun itself stood still; if all kinds of motion or change ceased, all this would not for one moment impede the flow of time, but it would continue its uniform course and now, unattended by any changes, would elapse. Yet, as I have said, it is nothing perceivable by any of the senses, nothing given externally and hence nothing really objective. The only thing left for us to say is that it is something residing within us, our own mental process advancing uninterruptedly or, as Kant says, the form of the inner sense and of all our making of representations or mental pictures. Consequently, time constitutes the very basis and foundation of this worldly scene. The uniformity and regularity of its course in all heads shows more than anything that we are all enveloped in the same dream, indeed that it is one being or entity that dreams it.* Time seems to us to be so entirely a matter of course, that we are naturally not clearly conscious of it, but notice only the course of the changes in it which are, it is true, known purely empirically. It is, therefore, an important step towards philosophical enlightenment if once we fix our gaze on time itself and ask quite consciously: 'What is this essence or entity which cannot be seen or heard, but into which everything must enter in order actually to exist and which moves forward with inexorable uniformity and regularity, without anything being able in the very least to retard or accelerate it, such as, on the other hand, we are able to do with the changes of things occurring in it in order to be finished and done with them in a given time?' But time seems to us to be so much a matter of course that, instead of asking such a question, we cannot possibly think of an existence without it; for us it is the permanent presupposition of all existence. It is just this that shows that time is a mere form of our intellect, that is, of our cognitive apparatus, in which just as in space everything must manifest itself. Therefore along with the brain, time, together with all the ontology of beings based thereon, is abolished. The same thing may also be demonstrated in space in so far as I can leave behind me all worlds, however many, yet I can never get outside space, but carry this about with me everywhere because it adheres to my intellect and belongs to the representation-mechanism in my skull.

Without considerations of this kind whose basis is the Critique of Pure Reason, no serious progress in metaphysics is possible. And so the sophists who have set them aside, in order to substitute for them systems of identity and nonsense of all kinds and again to naturalize them at large, deserve no mercy.

Time is not merely a form a priori of our knowing, but is the foundation or ground-bass thereof; it is the primary woof for the fabric of the whole world that manifests itself to us and the bearer of all our intuitive apprehensions. The other forms of the principle of sufficient reason are, so to speak, copies of it; it is the archetype of everything. And so all our representations or mental pictures concerning existence and reality are inseparable from it and we never get away from picturing all things to ourselves as one after another. The when is still just as inevitable as the where; and yet everything manifesting itself in time is mere appearance or phenomenon.

Time is that disposition of our intellect by virtue whereof the thing we apprehend as the future does not seem to exist at all; yet this illusion vanishes when the future has become the present. In some dreams, clairvoyant somnambulism, and second sight, that deceptive form is temporarily pushed aside and the future then manifests itself as the present. This is why attempts that are sometimes made intentionally to frustrate the prophecy of a man endowed with second sight, even if only in minor incidents, were bound to fail; for he has already seen it actually existing at the time, just as we perceive only the present; it therefore has the same constancy and immutability as has the past. (Examples of attempts of this kind are found in Kieser's Archiv fur thierischen Magnetismus, vol. VIII, Pt. III, pp. 71, 87, 90.)

Accordingly, the necessity of all that happens, in other words, of everything successively occurring in time, a necessity that is revealed to us by means of the chain of causes and effects, is merely the way in which we perceive under the form of time that which exists uniformly and unaltered. Or again, this necessity is the impossibility that what exists is yet not identical with itself, one and unalterable, although we recognize it today as future, tomorrow as present, and the day after tomorrow as past. In the fitness and appropriateness of the organism, there is revealed the unity of the will that objectifies itself in it; and yet such unity is perceived in our apprehension (that is tied to space) as a plurality of parts and their conformity to a purpose. (See On the Will in Nature, 'Comparative Anatomy'.) In the same way, the necessity of all that happens which is brought about through the causal chain, re-establishes the unity of the essence-in-itself that is objectified in all such events. This unity, however, is perceived in our apprehension (that is tied to time) as a succession of states and thus as past, present, and future; whereas the essence-in-itself does not know all this, but exists in the Nunc stans. [6]

Separations by means of space are in somnambulistic clairvoyance much more frequently and thus more easily eliminated than are those by means of time. For what is merely absent and distant is much oftener brought to intuitive perception than what is actually still in the future. In Kant's language this would be explained by saying that space is merely the form of the outer sense, time that of the inner. That time and space are intuitively perceived a priori according to their form, has been taught by Kant; but that this can be done also according to their content, is taught by clairvoyant somnambulism.

§ 30

The most illuminating, and at the same time simplest, proof of the ideality of space is that we cannot abolish it in our thoughts as we can everything else. We can only empty space; we can think away from it everything, absolutely everything, and cause everything to vanish; we can even quite easily imagine that the space between the fixed stars is absolutely empty. But in no way can we possibly get rid of space itself; whatever we do and wherever we put ourselves space is there and nowhere has it an end, for it is the very basis and the first condition of all our representations or mental pictures. This proves quite positively that space appertains to our intellect itself and is an integral part thereof. Indeed, it is the part that furnishes the first thread of the warp for the intellect's fabric whereon the variegated world of objects is subsequently laid. For space exhibits itself as soon as an object is to be represented in my head and then accompanies all the movements, turns, and attempts of the intuitively perceiving intellect as persistently as the spectacles on my nose accompany all the turns and movements of my person, or as the shadow accompanies its body. If I notice that something is with me everywhere and under all circumstances, I conclude that it is inherent in me, like a peculiar odour, for example, which I would like to avoid but which is to be found wherever I go. It is precisely the same with space; whatever I may think, whatever world I may picture to myself, space is always there before everything else and will not go away. Now if from this it becomes obvious that space is a function, indeed a basic function, of my intellect itself, then the resultant ideality extends also to everything spatial, to everything that manifests itself in space. Yet every such thing in itself may have an objective existence, but in so far as it is spatial, and thus has shape, size, and movement, it is subjectively conditioned. Again, astronomical calculations that prove to be so accurate and correct are possible only by the fact that space is really in our head. Consequently, we know things not as they are in themselves, but only as they appear. This is the great Kant's great doctrine.

It is the absurdest of all ideas, but in a certain sense the most fruitful, to regard infinite space as independent of us and thus as existing absolutely objectively and in itself and to think that a mere copy of it, as something infinite, comes into our head through our eyes. For whoever becomes clearly conscious of the absurdity of this idea in this way recognizes at once the mere phantom-existence of this world, since he apprehends it as a mere brain-phenomenon that disappears as such when the brain dies in order to leave behind an entirely different world, namely that of things-in-themselves. The fact that his head is in space does not prevent him from seeing that space is nevertheless only in his head. *

§ 31

What light is for the external physical world, the intellect is for the inner world of consciousness. For the intellect is related to the will and so also to the organism that is in fact merely the objectively and intuitively perceived will, in much the same way as is the light to the combustible body and to oxygen by whose combination it blazes forth. And just as this light is the purer, the less it is mixed with the smoke of the burning body, so too is the intellect the purer, the more completely it is separated from the will whence it has sprung. In bolder metaphor, it might even be said that life is, as we know, a process of combustion and the development of light that takes place in such a process is the intellect.

§ 32

Our knowledge, like our eyes, looks only outwards and not inwards so that when the knower attempts to turn inwards in order to know himself, he looks into utter darkness and falls into a complete void. This is due to the following two reasons:

(1) The subject of knowing is not something autonomous, a thing-in-itself; it has no independent, original, and substantial existence, but is a mere phenomenon, something secondary and accidental, conditioned in the first instance by the organism that is the phenomenal appearance of the will. In a word, the subject of knowing is nothing but the focus wherein all the forces of the brain converge, as I have explained in the second volume of my chief work, chapter 22. How then is this subject of knowing to know itself, for in itself it is nothing? If it turns inwards, it recognizes, of course, the will that is the basis of its true nature. However, for the knowing subject this is not self-knowledge in the real sense, but knowledge of something else which is yet different from the knowing subject itself, but is then at once, as something already known, only a phenomenon. Yet it is such a phenomenon that has merely time as its form, not space in addition, as have the things of the external world. But apart from this, the subject knows the will only as it does external things in its manifestations and thus in the individual acts of will and other affections that we understand by the name of desires, emotions, passions, and feelings. Consequently, it knows the will still always as phenomenon, though not under the limitation of space as in the case of external things. For the above reason, however, the knowing subject cannot know itself since there is in it nothing except the fact that it is the knower but, precisely on that account, never the known. It is a phenomenon that has no other expression or manifestation than knowledge; consequently no other manifestation can be known in it.

(2) The will in us is certainly a thing-in-itself, existing by itself, something primary and autonomous, whose phenomenon manifests itself as organism in the spatially intuitively perceiving apprehension of the brain. Nevertheless, the will is incapable of any self-knowledge because, in and by itself, it is something that merely wills, not something that knows. For as such the will knows absolutely nothing and consequently not even itself. Knowledge is a secondary and mediate function that does not immediately belong to the will, to that which is primary in its own essential nature.

§ 33

The simplest impartial self-examination, along with the conclusions of anatomy, leads to the result that the intellect, like its objectification the brain, and the sense-apparatus attached thereto, are nothing but a greatly enhanced susceptibility to impressions from without. But the intellect does not constitute our original and true inner nature; and so in us it is not that which is in the plant the germinating force, or in the stone gravity together with chemical forces; only the will proves to be this. On the contrary, the intellect is in us that which in the plant may promote or hinder its mere susceptibility to external influences or to physical and chemical impressions, and whatever else may affect its growth and success. In us, however, that susceptibility is so greatly enhanced that, on the strength of it, the entire objective world, the world as representation, manifests itself and so to this extent originates as object. To make this clear, let us picture to ourselves the world without any animated beings. It is then without perception of any kind and so objectively does not really exist at all; however, let this be assumed. Now let us imagine a number of plants that have sprung up from the ground close to one another. They are now affected by influences of many kinds, such as air, wind, the ousting of one plant by another, moisture, cold, light, warmth, electrical tension, and so on. Now let us enhance ever more in our thoughts the susceptibility of these plants to such influences; it then finally becomes sensation accompanied by the ability to refer this to its cause; and so in the end it becomes perception. But the world stands out at once, manifesting itself in space, time, and causality; yet it remains a mere result of external influences on the susceptibility of plants. This graphical consideration is well calculated to render clear the merely phenomenal existence of the external world. For to whom will it occur to maintain that the conditions, having their existence in such an intuitive perception that comes from mere relations between external impression and vivid susceptibility, present us with the truly objective, inner, and original constitution of all those natural forces that are supposed to act on the plant and hence present us with the world of things-in-themselves? We can, therefore, see from this graphic description why the sphere of the human intellect has such narrow limits, as is shown by Kant in the Critique of Pure Reason.

On the other hand, the thing-in-itself is only the will. Accordingly, it is the creator and bearer of all the properties and qualities of the phenomenon. It is undoubtedly charged with what is moral; but even knowledge and its power and thus the intellect belong to the phenomenon of the will and therefore indirectly to it. That the narrow-minded and stupid always meet with a certain amount of contempt may be due at any rate in part to the fact that the will in them has so lightened its burden and taken on for the purpose of its aims only an ounce or two of intellectual force.

§ 34

Not only is all evidence intuitively perceptual, as I have already said in § 25 and also in my chief work (volume i, § 14), but so too is all true and genuine comprehension of things. This is proved by the innumerable figurative expressions in all languages which are the united attempts to reduce everything abstract to something intuitively perceptual. For the mere abstract concepts of a thing do not give us any real understanding thereof, although they enable us to talk about it, just as many speak of many things. Some, in fact, do not need for this purpose any concepts at all, but manage with mere words, for example, with the technical terms they have learnt. On the other hand, to understand anything really and truly, it is necessary for us to grasp it in intuitive perception, to receive a clear picture of it, if possible from reality itself, but otherwise by means of the imagination. Even what is too great or too complicated to be taken in at a glance, must be conjured up in our minds through intuitive perception, either partially or by a representative type that can easily be surveyed, if we are really to understand it. But what does not admit even of this, must be made clear at any rate by an attempt at a picture and simile from the intuitive perception that is so very much the basis of our knowledge. This is seen also when we think, indeed in abstracto, of very large numbers and likewise of very great distances, as in astronomy, which can be expressed only by such numbers. Yet we do not really understand them directly, but have of them merely a comparative conception.

But more than anyone else should the philosopher draw from that fountain-head, from knowledge of intuitive perception, and should, therefore, keep his eye always on things themselves, on nature, the world, and life, and should make these, not books, the text of his thoughts. Moreover, he should always test and control in them all ready-made concepts and therefore use books not as sources of knowledge, but only as aids thereto. For only at second hand and often somewhat adulterated does he receive what is given by books; it is indeed only a reflection, a counterfeit, of the original, namely of the world; and rarely has the mirror been perfectly clean. On the other hand, nature, reality, never lies; indeed with her truth is always plain truth. Therefore the philosopher has to make her his study, namely her great and clear features and her main and fundamental character whence his problem is developed. He will accordingly make the subject of his consideration important and universal phenomena, in other words, that which is everywhere and at all times. On the other hand he will leave to the physicist, the zoologist, the historian, and so on, special, particular, rare, microscopic, or fleeting phenomena. He is concerned with more important things; the totality and size of the world, its essential nature, and fundamental truths are his high aim. Therefore he cannot at the same time meddle with details and trivialities; just as a man surveying a landscape from a mountain top cannot at the same time examine and determine plants that are growing far down in the valley, but leaves such work to one who is botanizing down there. To devote himself and all his strength to a special branch of knowledge, a man must certainly have a great liking for it and yet also show a great lack of interest in all the others. For he can do the former only on condition that he remains ignorant in all the latter; just as a man who marries has to give up all other women. Minds of the highest eminence, therefore, will never devote themselves to a special branch of knowledge; for an insight into the totality of things is too near to their hearts. They are generals not captains; conductors not instrumentalists. Yet how could a great mind find satisfaction in getting to know from the sum-total of things a definite branch, a single field, exactly and in its relations to all the rest, but in leaving out of account everything else? On the contrary, a great intellect obviously turns to the whole and his efforts are directed to the totality of things, the world in general, where nothing should be strange or foreign to him. Consequently, he cannot spend his life exhausting all the tiny details of one branch of knowledge.

§ 35

The eye becomes weak after staring for some time at an object and is no longer capable of seeing anything. In the same way, the intellect through continuously thinking about the same thing becomes incapable of further meditation and comprehension; it grows dull and confused. We must leave it and come back to it, when we shall find it again fresh and in clear outline. Therefore when Plato relates in the Symposium (220) that, while reflecting on something that occurred to him, Socrates stood stock still like a statue for twenty-four hours, we are bound to say to this not only non e vero, but also e mal trovato. [7] From the intellect's need for rest we see also why if, as newcomers and strangers, we look after a lengthy pause into the daily course of the things of this world and thus have a fresh and really unprejudiced insight into them, their connection and significance are made thoroughly and profoundly clear to us; so that we then see things palpably and plainly and fail to understand how it is that they are not noticed by all those who hourly move among them. Such a bright moment can accordingly be compared to a lucid interval.

§ 36

In a higher sense, even the hours of inspiration with their moments of illumination and real conception are only the lucida intervalla of genius. Accordingly, it might be said that genius dwells only one storey above madness. But yet even the rational man's reason [Vernunft] really operates only in lucidis intervallis; for he is not always rational, Even the prudent are not so all the time; the scholar does not exhibit his qualities at every moment; for sometimes he will not be able to recall and muster in some order the things that are most familiar to him; in short: nemo omnibus horis sapit. [8] All this seems to point to a certain ebb and flow of the humours of the brain, or to a relaxation and tension of its filaments.*

Now if, during a spring-tide of this kind, some new and profound insight suddenly comes to us, whereby our ideas naturally .ttain to a higher degree of animation, the cause of this will invariably be one of intuitive perception; and an intuitive insight will underlie every great thought. For words awaken ideas in others, but pictures or images in us.

§ 37

That we should write down as soon as possible our own valuable meditations goes without saying. Indeed, if at times we forget what we have experienced, how much more do we forget what we have thought! But thoughts come not when we want them, but when they want to. On the other hand, it is better not to write down what we obtain ready-made from without, what has merely been learnt, or what can in any case be found again in books. We should, therefore, refrain from making a collection of literary extracts and cuttings; for to write something down is equivalent to consigning it to oblivion. But we should deal sternly and despotically with our memory lest it should forget how to obey. For example, if we cannot recall some fact, verse, or word, we should not look it up in books, but worry the memory periodically for weeks until it has fulfilled its obligation. For the longer we have had to try to recollect it, the more firmly will it afterwards stick in our memory; what we have with so much effort worked up from the depths of memory will then be much more readily at our disposal another time than if we had refreshed our memory with the aid of books.* Mnemonics, on the other hand, rests ultimately on the fact that we have more confidence in our wit than in our memory and therefore transfer the functions of the latter to the former. In other words, wit must substitute for something difficult to retain something that is easy to retain in order, at some future time, to translate the latter back into the former. Mnemonics, however, is related to natural memory as an artificial leg to a real one and, like everything, underlies Napoleon's utterance: tout ce qui n'est pas naturel est impaifait. [9] It is a good thing initially to make use of words or facts recently learnt, like a temporary crutch, until they are assimilated in the direct and natural memory. How our memory starts from the often immense range of its storehouse to find at once what is required at the time; how the blind and sometimes long search for this really takes place; how what was at first vainly sought comes to us quite automatically and on the spur of the moment as if it had been whispered to us and often when we discover a tiny thread attached to it, but otherwise also after a few hours or days; all this is a mystery to us who are actively concerned in the matter. To me, however, there seems to be no doubt that these very subtle and mysterious operations with such an immense quantity and variety of material for recollection can never be replaced by an artificial and conscious play with analogies. Yet in the case of these, the natural memory must again always remain the primum mobile; [10] but then it has to retain two things instead of one, the symbol and the symbolized. In any case such an artificial memory can contain only a relatively small store. Generally speaking, however, there are two ways in which things are stamped on our memory: (a) deliberately by our purposely memorizing them, whereby we can sometimes make use of mnemonic tricks if it is a case of mere words or numbers; or (b) they are stamped automatically on the memory without any action on our part by virtue of the impression they make on us; and then indeed we call them unforgettable. Just as a wound is often not felt at the time it is received but only later, so many an event or idea we have heard or read about makes a deeper impression on us than we are at once aware of; but later it occurs to us again and again. The result of this is that it is not forgotten, but is incorporated in the system of our thoughts, ready to appear at the right moment. Moreover, it is obvious that in some respect they are of interest to us. But for this it is necessary for us to have a keen and acute mind that eagerly assimilates what is objective and strives for knowledge and insight. The surprising ignorance of many scholars in things that concern their branch of knowledge is due ultimately to their lack of objective interest in such things; and so the observations, remarks, and views concerning these do not make a vivid impression on them and are, therefore, not retained. For speaking generally, they study not con amore but under self-compulsion. Now the more things there are in which a man takes a lively objective interest, the more will be fixed in his memory in this spontaneous manner; and so they will be at a maximum in youth when the novelty of things enhances an interest in them. This second way is much more certain than the first and, moreover, selects entirely by itself what is of importance to us, although in the case of blockheads it is restricted to personal affairs.

§ 38

The quality of our thoughts (their formal worth) comes from within, but their trend or bearing and thus their material from without; so that what we are thinking at any given moment is the product of two fundamentally different factors. Accordingly, objects are for the mind what the plectrum is for the lyre; hence the great variety of thoughts stimulated in different minds by the same spectacle. When in the heyday of my intellect at the height of its powers the hour came through favourable circumstances in which the brain was at its highest tension, my eye would encounter any object it liked, and this spoke revelations to me; there then ensued a series of ideas that were worth recording and were written down. But with advancing years, especially with the powers on the wane, such hours have become ever rarer; for the objects are the plectrum, but the intellect is the lyre. The question whether this is well tuned to a high pitch establishes the great difference of the world as manifested in every mind. Now just as this depends on physiological and anatomical conditions, so, on the other hand, mere chance holds the plectrum by producing the objects that are to engage our attention. But here a great part of the matter is still left to our discretion in that we can, partially at any rate, determine it to our liking by means of the objects with which we are occupied or surrounded. We should, therefore, give to them some care and attention and proceed with methodical deliberateness. Such advice is given in Locke's excellent little book On the Conduct of the Understanding. Sound serious thoughts on worthy subjects, however, cannot be conjured up arbitrarily and at any time. All we can do is to keep the path clear for them by banishing all futile, foolish, or vulgar ruminations, and by turning away from all humbug and tomfoolery. And so we can say that, in order to think of something sensible, the quickest way is not to think of anything absurd or preposterous. We need only keep the field open to sound ideas and they will come. Therefore whenever we have a free moment with nothing to do, we should not forthwith seize a book, but should for once let our mind become tranquil, and then in it something good may easily arise. The remark made by Riemer in his book on Goethe is very true where he says that our own thoughts come to us almost always when we are walking or standing and extremely rarely when we are seated. Now since the entry generally of vivid, searching, and valuable ideas is the result more of favourable internal conditions than of external, it is clear that several ideas of this kind that relate to entirely different subjects, often appear in rapid succession and even wellnigh simultaneously in which case they cross and encroach on one another like the crystals of a druse. In fact, it is possible for us to have the same experience as the man has who courses two hares at the same time.
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Re: Parerga and Paralipomena: Short Philosophical Essays

Postby admin » Tue Jan 30, 2018 2:16 am

Part 2 of 3

§ 39

How limited and inadequate the normal human intellect is and how slight is clearness of consciousness, can be gathered from the fact that, in spite of the ephemeral brevity of man's life that is cast into the stream of endless time, of the precarious nature of our existence, of the numberless mysteries that everywhere obtrude, of the significant character of so many phenomena, and of the utter inadequacy of life; that, in spite of this, not all philosophize constantly and unremittingly; in fact, not even many, or some, or perhaps only a few; no, only here and there, only the absolute exceptions philosophize. Through this dream the rest live not so very differently from the animals from whom, in the long run, they differ only by their foresight and provision for a few years. Their metaphysical need that makes itself felt is catered for in advance by the authorities through religions; and whatever these may be, they suffice. Jevertheless, it might well be that many more philosophize in secret than is apparent, although this may subsequently prove to be the case. For ours is truly a sorry plight! To live a span of years full of trouble, want, anguish, and pain, without in the least knowing whence, whither, and to what purpose, and in addition to all this, the priests and parsons of every persuasion with their respective revelations on the subject together with their threats to unbelievers. Moreover, there is the fact that we look at and associate with one another, like masks with masks; we know not who we are, but are like masks that do not know even themselves. And this is precisely how the animals regard us, and we them.

§ 40

We might almost imagine that half of all our thinking occurred unconsciously. The conclusion is in most cases drawn without the premisses having been clearly thought out. This can be inferred from the fact that sometimes an event, whose consequences we cannot possibly foresee and whose eventual effect on our affairs we are even less able to judge clearly, nevertheless does exert an unmistakable influence on our whole frame of mind by making it either cheerful or melancholy. This can be only the consequence of an unconscious rumination, as is still more obvious in what follows. I have made myself acquainted with the actual data of a theoretical or practical affair; now after a few days, without my having thought of it again, the result as to how the matter stands or what is to be done about it will often occur to me quite automatically and be clear in my mind. Here the operation whereby this was brought about remains just as hidden from me as does that of a calculating machine; it has been simply an unconscious rumination. In the same way, when I have recently written something on a subject, but have then dismissed the matter from my mind, an additional note sometimes occurs to me when I am not thinking about it at all. In like manner, I can for days search in my memory for a name that has escaped me; and then when I am not thinking about it at all, it suddenly occurs to me, as though it had been whispered in my ear. In fact, our best, most terse, and most profound thoughts suddenly occur in consciousness like an inspiration and often at once in the form of a striking and significant sentence. But they are obviously the results of long and unconscious meditation and of countless apercus that often lie in the distant past and are individually forgotten. Here I refer to what I have said on the subject in my chief work, volume two, chapter fourteen. One might almost venture to put forward the physiological hypothesis that conscious thought takes place on the surface of the brain and unconscious in the innermost recesses of its medullary substance.

§ 41

With the monotony of life and its resultant shallowness, we should after a number of years find it insufferably tedious, were it not for the steady progress of knowledge and insight as a whole and for the better and clearer comprehension of all things and their circumstances, partly as the fruit of maturity and experience and also in consequence of the changes that we ourselves undergo through the different periods of our lives. In this way, things are to a certain extent presented to us from an ever fresh point of view whence they reveal aspects, as yet unknown to us, and appear to be different. And so in spite of a decline in the intensity of our intellectual powers, the dies diem docet [11] always goes on untiringly and spreads over life an ever-fresh charm by invariably presenting what is identical as something different and new. Therefore Solon's words are the motto of any old thinker: [x]. [12]

Incidentally, the many different changes in our mood and temperament, by virtue whereof we daily see things in a different light, at all times render us the same service. They also lessen the monotony of our consciousness and thought by acting thereon in the same way as does the constantly changing illumination with its endlessly manifold light-effects on a beautiful piece of country, in consequence whereof the landscape seen by us a hundred times always delights us afresh. Thus when we are in a changed mood, what we know appears to be new and awakens in us fresh ideas and views.

§ 42

Whoever tries to settle something a posteriori and thus by experiment, although he could see and decide it a priori, for instance, the necessity of a cause for every change, or mathematical truths, or propositions from mechanics and astronomy that are reducible to mathematics, or even such as follow from very well-known and unquestionable laws of nature, renders himself an object of contempt. A fine example of this is afforded by our most recent materialists who start [rom chemistry and whose exceedingly one-sided erudition has already caused me to remark elsewhere [13] that mere chemistry may well qualify a man to be a druggist, but not a philosopher. They believe they have made on the empirical path a new discovery in the a priori truth, which has been expressed a thousand times before them, that matter is permanent; and this they boldly announce, despite a world that does not yet know anything of it, and frankly demonstrate it on the empirical path. ('The proof of this could be furnished only by our scales and retorts' says Dr. Louis Buchner in his book Kraft und Stoff, 5th edn., p. 14, which is the naive echo of his school.) But here they are so timorous or even so ignorant that they do not use the only correct and valid word 'matter' [Materie], but 'material' [Stoff] that is more familiar to them. Thus the a priori proposition: 'Matter is permanent and therefore its quantum can never be increased or diminished' is expressed by them as: ' Material is immortal', and in this they feel original and important, scilicet in their new discovery. For such little men naturally do not know that disputes have been going on for hundreds and even thousands of years concerning the pre-eminence and relation of permanent matter to the ever-present form. They come quasi modo geniti [14] and suffer severely from [x], [15] described by Gellius (Xl. 7) as vitium serae eruditionis; ut, quod nunquam didiceris, diu ignoraveris, cum id scire aliquando coeperis, magni facias quo in loco cumque in loco et quacunque in rie dicere. [16] If only someone, naturally endowed with patience, would take the trouble to drub into these apothecaries' apprentices and barbers' assistants who, coming from their kitchens of chemistry, know nothing, the difference between matter and material. For material is already qualified matter, in other words, the union of matter with form, both of which can again be separated. Consequently, matter alone is that which is permanent, not material which can still always become something else-not excepting your sixty chemical elements. The indestructibility of matter can never be decided by experiments; and so as regards this, we should be for ever uncertain were it not firmly established a priori. How wholly and definitely a priori and hence independent of all experience the knowledge of the indestructibility of matter is and of its passage through all forms, is testified by Shakespeare, who certainly knew very little physics and had not much general knowledge; yet he represents Hamlet as saying:

The imperial Caesar, dead, and turn'd to clay,
Might stop a hole to keep the wind away:
O! that that earth, which kept the world in awe,
Should patch a wall t'expel the winter's flaw!

-- Hamlet, Act v, Sc. I.

He therefore makes the same application of that truth which our present-day materialists have often served up from the dispensary and clinic, in that they obviously take pride in the fact and here consider such a truth to be a result of empiricism, as was previously shown. On the other hand, whoever tries to demonstrate a priori what can be known only a posteriori from experience behaves like a charlatan and makes himself ridiculous. A foretaste of this mistake was furnished by examples from Schelling and his followers when they shot a priori at an a posteriori fixed target, as someone very neatly expressed it at the time. We shall become best acquainted with Schelling's achievements in this direction from his Erster Entwurf einer Naturphilosophie. Here it is obvious that from nature before us he abstracted, secretly and quite empirically, universal truths and then formulated some expressions of its character as a whole. He then appears with these as a priori found principles of the conceivability of a nature at all, and from them again happily derives the facts of the case which are met with and underlie such principles; and accordingly he demonstrates to his students that nature cannot be other than she is:

Then, the philosopher steps in
And shows, no otherwise it could have been: [17]

As an amusing example of this kind, we should read on pp. 96, 97 of the above-mentioned book the a priori deduction of inorganic nature and gravity. To me it is like a child doing conjuring tricks; I see clearly how he slips the pellets under the cup and then later I am supposed to show surprise at finding them there. After such a precedent of the master, we shall not be surprised at meeting his disciples years afterwards on the same path and at seeing how they try to deduce a priori the course of nature from vague, empirically grasped concepts, such as oval-form, spherical-form, and from arbitrarily assumed, ambiguous analogies, such as egg-animals, trunk-animals, belly animals, breast animals, and similar tomfoolery. On the other hand, we clearly see in their serious deductions that they always cast a glance at what is only certain a posteriori and yet often flagrantly violate nature in order to mould her to their whims and fancies. How worthy the French are by contrast with their honest empiricism which admittedly attempts to learn only from nature and to explore her course, but not to lay down her laws. Merely on the path of induction they found their division of the animal kingdom which is as profoundly conceived as it is admirable and which the Germans are quite unable even to appreciate. They therefore push it into the background in order to bring forward through queer and curious notions, like those previously mentioned, their own originality; and then for this they admire one another-these discerning and impartial judges of intellectual merit! What luck to be born of such a nation!

§ 43

It is quite natural for us to maintain a defensive and negative attitude to every new opinion on whose subject we have already given a firm judgement. For such an opinion makes a hostile encroachment on the hitherto exclusive system of our convictions, disturbs the peace and consolation derived therefrom, expects us to undertake fresh exertions, and declares as wasted all our previous efforts. Accordingly, a truth that brings us back from errors is comparable to a medicine both by its bitter and nasty taste and by the fact that it does not show its effect the moment it is taken, but only after some time.

And so if we see an individual obstinately sticking to his errors, this is much more the case with the great majority; for on their opinions once formed experience and instruction may toil in vain for hundreds of years. Thus there are certain universally popular errors firmly accredited and daily repeated by millions with the utmost complacency. I have begun to make a list of them and request others to add to it.

(1) Suicide is a cowardly act.

(2) Whoever distrusts others is himself dishonest.

(3) Merit and genius are sincerely modest and unassuming.

(4) Those who are mad are extremely unfortunate.

(5) Philosophy cannot be learnt, but only philosophizing. (This is the opposite of the truth.)

(6) It is easier to write a good tragedy than a good comedy.

(7) The statement, attributed to Bacon, that a little taste in philosophy leads possibly to atheism, but fuller draughts lead back to religion. Is that so? Allez voir! (Bacon, De augmentis scientiarum, lib. I, p. 5).

(8) 'Knowledge is power'. The devil a bit! A man can have a great deal of knowledge without for that reason possessing the least power, while another has the greatest power with the least knowledge. Therefore Herodotus very rightly expresses the opposite statement: [x] [18] (lib. IX, c. 16). Occasionally a man's knowledge gives him power over others, for example, when he knows their secrets, or they cannot get to the bottom of his; but this still does not warrant the statement that knowledge is power.

Men repeat most of these to one another without thinking very much in connection with them and merely because, when they first heard them, they discovered that they sounded very wise and clever.

§ 44

We can observe, especially when travelling, how dull and irksome is the way of thinking of the masses and how difficult it is to tackle them. For whoever is fortunate enough to be free to live more with books than with men, has always in view only the easy communication of ideas and knowledge together with the rapid action and reaction of minds on one another. In this way, he may easily forget how utterly different things are in the world of men and women, the only world of reality, so to speak; and in the end he even imagines that every insight gained at once becomes the common property of mankind. But we need only travel by rail for a day to notice that, where we now happen to be, certain prejudices, erroneous notions, manners, customs, and clothes prevail which have in fact been upheld for centuries and are unknown at the place where we were the day before. It is the same with provincial dialects. From all this we can judge how wide the gulf is between books and the masses and how slowly but surely acknowledged truths reach the crowd. And so as regards the rapidity of transmission, nothing is less like physical light than is that of the intellect.

It all comes to this, then, that the masses do very little thinking because they have no time to practise it; but in this way, of course, they cling to their errors for a very long time. On the other hand, they are not, like the learned world, a weathercock of daily fluctuating opinions that point in all directions. This is a very fortunate circumstance, for to picture the great heavy masses in rapid motion is a terrifying thought, especially when we reflect how everything would be overthrown and swept away by them if they turned and changed their course.

§ 45

Craving for knowledge, when directed to the universal, is simply called desire for knowledge; but when it is directed to the particular, it is called inquisitiveness or curiosity. Boys often show a desire for knowledge, little girls mere curiosity, the latter to an astonishing degree and often with tiresome ingenuousness. The tendency to the particular that is characteristic of the female sex and their insusceptibility to the universal are here already in evidence.

§ 46

A happily organized mind and consequently one equipped with power of judgement has two excellent qualities. The first is that, of everything seen, experienced, and read by it, what is important and significant is noted by it and automatically impressed on the memory, to be brought out in future when required, whereas the remaining material again flows away. The memory of such a mind is, accordingly, like a fine sieve that retains only the larger pieces, whereas that of others is like a coarse sieve that lets everything through except what is by chance left behind. The second good quality of such a mind, which is akin to the first, is that what is relevant to a subject, is analogous or otherwise related thereto, however remote it may be, always occurs to such a mind at the right moment. This is due to the fact that in things it grasps what is really essential, whereby it at once recognizes what is identical and therefore homogeneous, even in things that are otherwise most varied and dissimilar.

§ 47

Intellect is not an extensive quantity, but an intensive; and so a man in this respect may confidently be a match for ten thousand. Even a whole host of a thousand blockheads does not produce one shrewd and intelligent man.

§ 48

Two closely related faculties, that of judging and of having ideas of one's own, are what is really lacking in miserable, commonplace minds whereof the world is full to overflowing. But these two qualities they lack to such a degree that, for anyone who does not belong to their set, it is not easy for him to form any conception of this and thus of the wretchedness of their existence, of the fastidium sui quo laborat omnis stultitia. [19] But from this defect, we clearly see, on the one hand, the trivial nature of all the scribblings of all nations, which are declared by contemporaries to be literature, and, on the other, the fate of that which is genuine and true when it makes its appearance among such men. Thus all real musing and meditating is to a certain extent an attempt to put a great mind on small men; no wonder that it does not at once succeed. The pleasure afforded by an author always calls for a certain sympathy or harmony between his way of thinking and the reader's, and it will be the greater, the more accomplished the reader. And so a great mind is enjoyed wholly and entirely only by such another. This is precisely why bad or mediocre authors fill thinking minds with disgust and aversion. Even conversation with most people has just the same effect; at every step we feel inadequacy and disharmony.

While on this subject, let me utter a warning that we should not underrate a new and possibly true dictum or idea because we find it in an inferior book or hear it from the lips of a blockhead; for the former has stolen it and the latter has picked it up, a fact that is naturally concealed. Then there is also the Spanish proverb: Mas sabe el necio en su casa, que el cuerdo en la agena (A fool is better acquainted with his own house than is a clever man with another's). Thus in his own branch, everyone knows more than we. Finally, it is well known that even a blind hen occasionally finds a grain of corn. In fact, it is even true that il y a un mystere dans l'esprit des gens qui n'en ont pas. [20] Therefore:

(Et hortulanus saepe opportunissima dixit.) [21] *

It may well happen that long ago we once heard from an unimportant and uneducated man a remark or the description of some experience, which, however, we have not since forgotten. But then, on account of its source, we are inclined to underrate it or regard it as something that was long ago universally known. We should now ask ourselves whether we have ever again heard it in all the time that has since elapsed or have even read about it. If this is not the case, we should hold it in esteem. Would one underrate a diamond because it might have been raked out from some muck-heap?

§ 49

There cannot be a musical instrument that does not add a touch of something strange to the pure tone, in consequence of the vibrations in the material of the instrument itself, the tone itself consisting only of vibrations of the air. In fact through their impulse, the vibrations in the instrument first produce those of the air and give rise to an unimportant secondary sound. In precisely this way, every tone receives that which is specifically peculiar to it and thus that which, for example, distinguishes the tone of the violin from that of the flute. But the less there is of this inessential admixture, the purer the tone; and so the human voice has the purest because no artificial instrument can compete with one that is natural. Now in the same way, there cannot be an intellect that does not add to the essential and purely objective element of knowledge something subjective and foreign to that element, something springing from the man who carries and conditions the intellect, and thus something individual whereby the purely objective element is invariably vitiated. The intellect in which this influence is least, will be the most purely objective and consequently the most perfect. As a result of this, the productions of every intellect contain and reproduce really only that which it regularly apprehends in things and hence the purely objective. This is the reason why such productions appeal to everyone the moment he understands them. I have, therefore, said that genius consists in the objectivity of the mind. Yet an absolutely objective and thus perfectly pure intellect is just as impossible as is an absolutely pure tone; the latter because the air cannot become vibrated by itself, but must in some way be impelled; the former because an intellect cannot exist by itself, but can appear only as the instrument of a will, or (speaking literally) because a brain is possible only as part of an organism. An irrational and even blind will that manifests itself as an organism is the root and foundation of every intellect; hence the inadequacy and imperfection of everyone and the characteristics of folly and perversity without which there can be no human being; and so also the expression' no lotus without a stem', and Goethe says:

The Tower of Babel haunts them still,
They cannot be united!
For every man his crotchet has,
And Copernicus also his. [22]

In addition to the tainting and infection of knowledge through individuality, through the subject's disposition that is given once for all, we now have that infection that arises directly from the will and its mood of the moment and thus from the interests, passions, and emotions of the knower. To estimate entirely how much the subjective element is added to our knowledge, we ought to look more frequently at one and the same event with the eyes of two men with different dispositions and interests. As this is not feasible, we must be content to observe how very different the same persons and objects appear to us at different times, in different moods, and on different occasions.

It would certainly be a fine thing for our intellect if it existed by itself and were thus an original and pure intelligence and not merely a secondary faculty, which is necessarily rooted in a will, but which, in virtue of such a basis, must suffer a contamination of almost all its knowledge and judgements. But for this, it might be a pure organ of knowledge and truth. Yet as things now are, how rarely shall we see quite clearly in a matter wherein we are in some way interested! It is hardly possible; for in every argument and every additional datum, the will speaks at once and indeed without our being able to distinguish between its voice and that of the intellect itself, for the two are merged into one ego. This becomes most clear when we try to prophesy the outcome of some matter that interests us; for interest impairs the intellect at almost every step, first as fear and then as hope. Here it is hardly possible to see clearly, for the intellect then resembles a torch by which one is supposed to read, whereas the night breeze agitates it. Precisely on this account, a loyal and sincere friend is of inestimable value in very disturbing circumstances because he himself does not take part in things and sees them as they are, whereas in our eyes they appear falsified through the deception of the passions. We can have an accurate judgement on things that have happened and a correct forecast of things to come, only when they do not concern us at all and thus leave our interests absolutely untouched. Moreover, we are not uncorrupted; on the contrary, without our noticing it, our intellect is infected and poisoned by the will. This and also the incompleteness, or even interpolation, of the data explain why men of intellect and knowledge are sometimes completely mistaken in prophesying the outcome of political affairs.

With artists, poets, and authors generally, one of the subjective infections of the intellect is also what we are accustomed to call ideas of the times or at the present day 'consciousness of the times', and thus certain views and notions that are in vogue. The author who is tinged with their colour, has allowed himself to be impressed by them, whereas he should have ignored and rejected them. Now when, after a shorter or longer spell of years, those views have vanished entirely into oblivion, his works of that period which still exist are deprived of the support that they had in such views and then often seem to be inconceivably absurd, or at any rate like an old calendar. It is only the absolutely genuine poet or thinker who rises superior to all such influences. Even Schiller had run his eye over the Critique of Practical Reason and had been impressed thereby; but Shakespeare had run his eye simply over the world. And so in all his plays, but most clearly in those dealing with English history, we see how the characters, with one or two exceptions that are not too glaring, are set in motion generally by motives of self-interest or wickedness. For he wished to show in the mirror of poetry men, not moral caricatures; and so everyone recognizes them in the mirror and his works live today and for all time. The characters in Schiller's Don Carlos can be divided fairly sharply into white and black, angels and devils. Even now they seem to be strange and peculiar. What will be the verdict after another fifty years?

§ 50

The life of plants is taken up with mere existence; accordingly, its pleasure is a dull enjoyment that is purely and absolutely subjective. With animals, knowledge comes as something additional; yet this remains restricted entirely to motives and indeed to those that are nearest and immediate. And so they too find complete satisfaction in mere existence and this suffices to fill their lives. Accordingly, they can spend many hours in complete idleness without feeling ill at ease or impatient, although they do not think, but merely perceive intuitively. Only in the cleverest of all the animals, in dogs and monkeys, do the need for occupation and, consequently, boredom make themselves felt. They therefore like to play and amuse themselves by gaping and staring at passers-by. Thus they already come within the category of human window-gapers who everywhere stare at us, but excite real indignation only when it is observed that they are students.

Only in man has knowledge, i.e. consciousness of other things in contrast to mere self-consciousness, reached a high degree and been enhanced to prudence and reflectiveness through the appearance of reason [Vernunft]. As a result, his life can be occupied not only with mere existence, but also with knowledge as such which is to a certain extent a second existence outside his own person and in other beings and things. But with him knowledge is also for the most part restricted to motives which, however, include distant ones and, when taken in bulk, go by the name of 'useful knowledge'. On the other hand, free knowledge, in other words, knowledge devoid of aim or purpose, does not in him usually go beyond curiosity and a desire to be entertained; yet it is present in everyone, at least to this extent. If, however, the motives grant him some relaxation, a great part of his life will be taken up with mere existence. Mere gaping and idling that are so frequent are evidence of this; and so too is that sociability that consists mainly of his being merely with other people either with exceedingly poor and paltry conversation or with none at all.* Indeed, although they are not clearly aware of it, most people resolve in their heart of hearts to manage with the least possible display of ideas; and this is their chief maxim and guide to conduct because for them thinking is so troublesome a burden. Accordingly, they do only just as much thinking as is rendered absolutely necessary by their professional business; and then again as much as is required by their different pastimes, conversation as well as games, both of which must then be so arranged that they can be carried on with a minimum of thought. If, however, in their hours of leisure they lack such facilities, rather than take up a book that would tax their powers of thought, they will lie down by the window for hours, gaping at the most trifling events and so really furnishing us with an illustration of Ariosto's ozio lungo d' uomini ignoranti. [23]

Only where the intellect already exceeds the necessary amount, does knowledge become more or less an end in itself. Accordingly, it is a wholly abnormal occurrence when in anyone the intellect relinquishes its natural vocation of serving the will and thus of grasping the mere relations of things, in order to occupy itself in a purely objective way. But this is just the origin of art, poetry, and philosophy which are, therefore, created by an organ that is not primarily intended for them. Thus the intellect is originally a hireling engaged on a laborious task and kept busy and in constant demand from morning till night by its lord and master, the will. But if in an hour of leisure this hard-driven drudge manages to produce a piece of its work spontaneously and of its own accord and without any interested motive, merely for its own satisfaction and delight, then this is a genuine work of art and, if carried to great heights, indeed a work of genius.*

Such an application of the intellect to what is purely objective underlies in its higher degrees all artistic, poetical, and philosophical achievements and generally those that are purely scientific. It already occurs in the comprehension and study of such works and likewise in the free consideration of any subject, that is to say, one that is in no way concerned with personal interests. In fact, such a use of the intellect enlivens even a mere conversation when the theme thereof is purely objective, that is to say, is in no way related to the interest and hence the will of the speakers. Every such purely objective use of the intellect is related to the subjective, in other words, to the use that concerns, though still indirectly, a personal interest, as dancing to walking. For it is, like dancing, the expenditure to no purpose of superfluous energy. On the other hand, the subjective use of the intellect is certainly the natural; for the intellect has arisen merely to serve the will. But precisely on this account, we have it in common with the animals; it is the slave of a pressing need, bears the stamp of our wretchedness, and in it we appear to be very much like glebae adscripti. [24] It occurs not merely in our work and personal activity, but also in all our conversations on personal and material affairs generally, such as eating, drinking, and other comforts and pleasures, then our livelihood and everything connected therewith together with advantages of every kind, even when these concern the community; for this remains a common weal. Most people are, of course, incapable of using their intellect in any other way because with them it is merely an instrument in the service of the will and is entirely used up therein, with nothing left over. This makes them so dull and tedious, as serious as animals, and incapable of any objective conversation. We also see in their faces how short the bond is between intellect and will. The expression of thick-headedness, which we so often come across in so depressing a way, simply indicates that limitation of all their knowledge to the affairs of their will. We see that there exists just as much intellect as is needed by the particular will in question for its aims, and nothing more; this is why they look so vulgar. (Cf. World as Will and Representation, vol. ii, chap. 31.) Accordingly, their intellect lapses into idleness as soon as the will stops spurring it. They take no objective interest in anything at all. They never give their attention, let alone their consideration, to any matter that has no reference, at any rate a possible one, to their person; otherwise, there is nothing that awakens in them an interest. Never once are they to any extent enlivened by a joke or anything witty; on the contrary, they detest everything that calls for even merely the least thought. At most, they raise a laugh by means of coarse jokes; otherwise they are serious-looking brutes, all because they are capable of only a subjective interest. This is precisely why card-playing is for them a suitable entertainment, for money of course; because this does not, like drama, music, conversation, and so on, keep within the sphere of mere knowledge, but sets in motion the will itself, that which is primary and is bound to be met with everywhere. For the rest, they are men of business, tradesmen from the cradle to the grave, the born porters and carriers of life. Their pleasures are all sensual since they have no susceptibility for any others. Only on matters of business should we speak to them, not otherwise. To be sociable with them is degrading; by so doing we make ourselves really cheap and common. It is their conversation which Giordano Bruno describes (at the end of the Cena delle ceneri) as vili, ignobili, barbare ed indegne conversazioni, [25] and which he vows he will positively avoid. On the other hand, the conversation between men who are in any way capable of a purely objective use of their intellect, even if the purport is ever so easy and amounts to mere joking, is always a free play of intellectual powers. Therefore such a conversation is related to that of others as dancing to walking; in fact, it is like a dance between two or more; whereas the other kind of conversation resembles a mere marching of men beside or behind one another for the purpose of arriving at a destination.

This inclination that is always associated with the ability to make such a free and thus abnormal use of the intellect now reaches in the man of genius a degree where knowledge becomes the main thing, the end and purpose of his whole life, whereas his own existence drops to something of secondary importance, to the mere means. Thus the normal relation of things is entirely reversed. Accordingly, the genius by means of his discerning apprehension of the rest of the world generally lives more in this than in his own person. The wholly abnormal enhancement of his powers of knowledge makes it impossible for him to fill his time with mere existence and with the aims and objects thereof. His mind needs constant and vigorous occupation. He therefore lacks that imperturbability in going through the broad scenes of daily life; he is wanting in that easy and agreeable ability to identify himself with everyday life which is given to ordinary men who go through even the ceremonial part of it with genuine pleasure. Accordingly, genius is a bad thing to have for ordinary practical life, such as is suitable for normal intellectual powers, and, like all abnormalities, it is a drawback. For with this enhancement of intellectual powers, the intuitive apprehension of the external world has attained to so great an objective clearness and furnishes so much more than is required for the service of the will that this abundance becomes a positive hindrance to such service. A consideration of the given phenomena, as such and in themselves, always diverts one from that of their relations to the individual will and to one another, and consequently disturbs and hinders their calm comprehension. On the other hand, a wholly superficial consideration of things is sufficient for the service of the will; for it furnishes nothing but their connection with our particular aims for the time being, and with what is bound up therewith; consequently it consists of nothing but relations, with the greatest possible blindness to everything else. This kind of knowledge is impaired and becomes confused through an objective and complete apprehension of the true nature of things. Hence the saying of Lactantius is here confirmed: Vulgus interdum plus sapit: quia tantum quantum opus est sapit. [26] (Divinae institutiones, lib. II, c. 5.)

Therefore genius is absolutely opposed to qualification for practical action, especially in the highest scene thereof, the sphere of world politics; just because the noble perfection and fine susceptibility of the intellect impede the energy of the will. But if only such energy that appears as boldness and firmness is endowed with a capable and straightforward intellect, a correct judgement, and a modicum of cunning, it will make a statesman or general and, if it amounts to stubbornness and audacity, will in favourable circumstances produce even a character famous in world history. But it is ridiculous to attempt to talk of genius in connection with such men. It isjust the lower grades of intellectual superiority, such as shrewdness, cunning, and definite but one-sided talents that enable one to get on in the world and readily establish one's good fortune, especially when impudence and effrontery (like the audacity just mentioned) supplement such talents. For at all these lower grades of intellectual superiority, the intellect still remains always true to its natural destiny, to the service of its own will, only that it carries out this duty with greater precision and facility. In the case of genius, on the other hand, the intellect withdraws from that service; and so genius is decidedly unfavourable to a person's good fortune; therefore Goethe represents Tasso as saying:

A laurel crown, wherever seen by you,
Is more a sign of sorrow than of luck.

Accordingly, genius is for the man so gifted a direct gain, it is true, yet not an indirect one.*

§ 51

For the man capable of understanding anything cum grano salis, [27] the relation between the genius and the normal individual might perhaps be expressed most clearly in the following manner. The genius is one who has a double intellect, first for himself and the service of his will, and secondly for the world whose mirror he becomes by his apprehending it in a purely objective way. The sum total or quintessence of this apprehension is reproduced in works of art, poetry, or philosophy, after technical development and improvement have been added. The normal man, on the other hand, has only the first intellect that can be called subjective, just as that of genius may be called objective. Although this subjective intellect may be present in very different degrees of keenness and perfection, it is still always separated by a definite gradation from that double intellect of the genius; in much the same way as the notes of the chest-voice, however high, are still always essentially different from the falsetto notes of the head. Like the two upper octaves of the flute and the harmonics of the violin, these are the unison of the two halves of the vibration-column of air which is divided by a nodal point. On the other hand, in the chest-voice and the lower octave of the flute, only the entire and undivided air-column vibrates. Therefore this may enable one to understand that specific peculiarity of genius which is so obviously stamped on the works and even the physiognomy of the man so gifted. Moreover, it is clear that such a double intellect is in most cases bound to be a hindrance to the service of the will; and this explains the above-mentioned poor aptitude of genius for practical life. In particular, he lacks that sober circumspection that characterizes the ordinary simple intellect, whether it be keen or dull.

§ 52

The brain as a parasite is nourished by the organism without contributing directly to the internal economy thereof; for up there in its fixed and well-protected abode it leads a self-sufficient and independent life. In the same way, the man with great mental gifts leads a second purely intellectual life apart from the individual life that is common to all. Such an intellectual life consists in the constant increase, rectification, and extension not of mere learning and erudition, but of systematic knowledge and insight in the real sense. It remains untouched by the fate of his own person, in so far as it is not disturbed by this in its pursuits. Such a life, therefore, exalts the man and sets him above fate and its fluctuations. It consists in constant thinking, learning, experimenting, and practising, and gradually becomes the chief existence to which the personal is subordinated as the mere means to an end. An example of the independent and separate nature of this intellectual life is furnished by Goethe. In the midst of all the tumult of battle during the war in the Champagne, he observed phenomena for the theory of colour; and as soon as he was granted a short respite in the fortress of Luxemburg during the interminable misery of that campaign, he took up the notebooks of his theory of colour. He has thus left for us an ideal that we, the salt of the earth, should follow by always attending undisturbed to our intellectual life, however much our personal life may be affected and shaken by the storm and stress of the world, always bearing in mind that we are the sons not of the handmaid, but of the free. As our emblem and family crest I suggest a tree violently shaken by the storm, but still bearing its red fruit on every branch, with the inscription: dum convellor mitescunt, [28] or even: conquassata sed ferax. [29]

To that purely intellectual life of the individual, there corresponds just such a life of the whole of mankind whose real life is likewise to be found in the will both as regards its empirical and its transcendent significance. This purely intellectual life of mankind consists in its advance in knowledge by means of the sciences and in the perfection of the arts, both of which progress slowly throughout the ages and centuries and to which each generation furnishes its contribution as it hurries past. Like an ethereal addition, this intellectual life hovers, as a sweet-scented air that is developed from the ferment over the stir and movement of the world, that real life of nations which is dominated by the will. Along with the history of the world, that of philosophy, the sciences, and the arts pursues its innocent and bloodless path.

§ 53

The difference between the genius and normal minds is certainly only quantitative in so far as it is one of degree; yet we are tempted to regard it as qualitative when we consider how, in spite of their difference, ordinary minds nevertheless have a certain common tendency in their thinking. By virtue of this, all their thoughts on similar occasions at once pursue the same path and follow the same track. Hence the frequent agreement of their judgements which is not based on truth and goes to such lengths that certain fundamental views, at all times firmly held by them, are always repeated and brought forward afresh, whereas the great minds of all times are openly or secretly opposed to them.
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Re: Parerga and Paralipomena: Short Philosophical Essays

Postby admin » Tue Jan 30, 2018 2:17 am

Part 3 of 3

§ 54

A genius is a man in whose head the world as representation has attained a degree of more clearness and stands out with the stamp of greater distinctness; and as the most important and profound insight is furnished not by a careful observation of details, but only by an intensity of apprehension of the whole, so mankind can look forward to the greatest instruction from him. If he develops and perfects himself, he will give this now in one form and now in another. Accordingly, we can also define genius as an exceedingly clear consciousness of things and thus also of the opposite, namely of our own self. Mankind, therefore, looks up to one so gifted for information about things and about its own true nature.*

Like everyone else, however, such a man is what he is primarily for himself; and this is essential, inevitable, and unalterable. On the other hand, what he is for others remains, as something secondary, subject to chance. In no case can they receive from his mind more than a reflection by means of an attempt, made by both sides, to think his thoughts with their minds in which, however, such thoughts will always remain exotic plants and consequently stunted and enfeebled.

§ 55

To have original, extraordinary, possibly even immortal ideas, it is sufficient to become so completely estranged from the world and things for a few moments that the most ordinary objects and events appear to be wholly new and unfamiliar, whereby their true nature is disclosed. But what is here required is not exactly difficult; on the contrary, it is not in our power at all and is just the dispensation of genius.*

§ 56

Genius is among other minds what the carbuncle stone is among precious stones; it radiates its own light, whereas the others reflect only the light they have received. It may also be said that the genius is related to others as idioelectrical bodies are to mere conductors of electricity. Hence the term is not appropriate to the mere scholar in the real sense, who further teaches what he has learnt, just as idioelectrical bodies are not conductors. On the contrary, genius is related to mere learning as the text of a song to the notes. A scholar is one who has learnt much; a genius is one from whom mankind learns what he has not learnt from anyone. Therefore great minds, whereof there is hardly one in a hundred millions, are the lighthouses of mankind without which men would lose themselves in the infinite sea of the most egregious errors and demoralization.

However, the simple scholar in the real sense, say the professor- in-ordinary of Gottingen, regards the genius in much the same way as we look at a hare, namely as something palatable only after it has been killed and prepared for dinner. Thus he regards the genius as one who must be shot at, so long as he is alive.

§ 57

Whoever wants to experience the gratitude of his contemporaries must keep in step with them. But in this way nothing great is ever produced. Whoever intends to achieve this must, therefore, direct his gaze to posterity and confidently elaborate his work for future generations. Of course, it may well happen that he will remain unknown to his contemporaries and then be comparable to the man who, compelled to spend his life on a lonely island, laboriously erects there a monument for the purpose of handing on to future seafarers information of his existence. If this seems to him a hard lot, he can console himself with the thought that even the ordinary merely practical man often suffers a similar fate without having to expect any compensation. Thus ifhe is in a favourable position, such a man will be active and productive in a material way. He will earn, buy, build, cultivate, construct, layout, establish, arrange, and embellish with daily effort and unflagging zeal. Here he imagines he is working for himself and yet in the end only his descendants, and very often not even his own, reap the benefit of all this. Accordingly, he too can say: nos, non nobis, [30] and his work has been his reward. It is, therefore, no better for him than for the man of genius who also naturally hopes for reward or at any rate for honour, and who in the end has done everything merely for posterity. For this, of course, both have also inherited a great deal from their ancestors.

Now the compensation I have previously mentioned, which is the privilege of genius, is to be found not in what he is to others, but in what he is to himself. Who, indeed, has really and truly lived more than the man who had moments whose mere echo is audible through the tumult and confusion of centuries? Perhaps, after all, it would be most prudent for such a man if, to be himself undisturbed and unmolested, he allowed himself to enjoy, as long as he lived, the pleasure of his own thoughts and works and he appointed the world merely as the heir to his rich and full existence. The mere impression of this, somewhat like an ichnolith, would then come to the world only after his death. (Cf. Byron, Prophecy of Dante, beginning of can. IV.) [31]

But the advantage a man of genius has over others is not limited to the activity of his highest powers. A man, who is extraordinarily well built, supple, and agile, performs all his movements with exceptional ease and even pleasure in that he takes a direct delight in an activity for which happily he is specially endowed and which he, therefore, often practises to no purpose. Moreover, not only as a rope- or solo-dancer does he take leaps that others are unable to perform, but in the easier dance steps that the rest do, in fact even in mere walking, he generally reveals a rare resilience and nimbleness. In the same way, a man with a truly superior mind will produce not merely ideas and works that could never come from others and will show his greatness not in these alone, but, as knowing and thinking are themselves an activity that is natural and easy to him, he will at all times take delight in these. Therefore even smaller things that are accessible to others will be apprehended by him more easily, quickly, and correctly than by them. Thus he will take a direct and lively pleasure in every increase of knowledge, in every problem solved, and in every witty and terse idea, whether it be his own or another's. And so his mind is constantly active without any other aim or object and thus becomes for him a perennial source of pleasure so that boredom, that ever-present bugbear of ordinary men and women, can never come upon him. Then there is also the fact that the masterpieces of his predecessors or of great minds contemporary with him exist in their fulness really only for him. The ordinary inferior mind looks forward to the product of a great mind which is recommended to him in much the same way as a victim of gout looks forward to a ball. The one goes to the ball out of pure convention and the other reads the great work in order to be up to the mark. For La Bruyere is quite right when he says: tout l' esprit qui est au monde est inutile a celui qui n' en a point. [32] Again, all the ideas of a clever man or of a genius are related to those of an ordinary person, even where they are essentially the same, as pictures done in vivid and striking colours are to mere outlines or sketches in feeble water-colours. All this, then, is part of the reward of genius to compensate him for a lonely existence in a world that is different from and repugnant to him. Thus since all greatness is relative, it is immaterial whether I say Caius was a great man or Caius had to live among pitiably small men; for Brobdingnag and Lilliput are different only through their point of departure. Therefore however great, admirable, and entertaining the author of immortal works appears to be to his numerous posterity, others during his lifetime must have seemed to him just as paltry, pitiable, and uninteresting. This is what I meant when I said that, if there are three hundred feet from the base to the top of a tower, there will also certainly be just three hundred from the top to the base.*

Accordingly, we should not be surprised if we have found men of genius often unsociable and sometimes stern and forbidding. For want of sociability is not to blame for this; on the contrary, their course through this world resembles that of a man out for a walk on a fine early morning when he contemplates with delight nature in all her freshness and splendour. Yet he has to rely on this, for no other society is to be found, except perhaps a peasant or two bending over the earth and cultivating the land. Thus it often happens that a man with a great mind prefers his own monologue to the dialogue that can be had in the world. Yet if he once condescends to this, it may be that its emptiness will cause him to revert again to the monologue. For he forgets the man to whom he is talking, or at any rate cares little whether or not that man understands him, and speaks to him as does a child to a doll.

Modesty in a great mind would really be to men's liking, but unfortunately it is a contradictio in adjecto. [33] Thus it would compel such a mind to give preference and attach value to the ideas, opinions, and views, as well as to the mode and manner of others, of those others indeed whose number is legion, rather than to his own; it would force him to subordinate and adapt his own very different ideas to those of others, or even to suppress them entirely to enable those others to hold the field. But then he would produce precisely nothing, or his achievements would be the same as those of others. Rather is he able to produce what is great, genuine, and extraordinary only in so far as he disregards the methods, ideas, and views of his contemporaries, quietly produces what they censure, and disdains what they praise. No man becomes great without this arrogance; but if his life and work should have fallen on times that cannot acknowledge and appreciate him, he still always remains true to himself and then resembles some noble traveller who has to spend the night at a miserable inn; on the next day he is glad to continue his journey.

At all events, a thinker or poet may be content with his times if only they allow him to think and write poetry undisturbed in his own corner; and with his good fortune if this grants him a corner in which he can think and write poetry, without having to bother about others.

For that the brain is a mere labourer in the service of the belly is, of course, the common lot of almost all who do not live on the work of their hands, and to this they are well able to reconcile themselves. But for great minds, for those whose cerebral powers exceed the amount required for serving the will, it is exasperating. Such a man, therefore, will prefer, if necessary, to live in the most restricted circumstances if such grant him the free use of his time for the development and application of his powers and so give to him the leisure that is invaluable. It is naturally different with ordinary men whose leisure is without objective value and is even for them not without its dangers, a fact of which they seem to be aware. For the technical skill of our times, which has been raised to unprecedented heights, increases and multiplies objects of luxury and thus gives to those favourites of fortune the choice between more leisure and mental culture, on the one hand, and more luxury and good living with intense activity, on the other. Characteristically enough, as a rule they choose the latter and prefer champagne to leisure. This is also consistent; for to them every mental exertion that does not serve the purposes of the will is foolish and the tendency to such exertion is by them called eccentricity. Accordingly, they regard a persistence in the aims of the will and of the belly as a concentricity; for the will is certainly the centre and indeed the very kernel of the world.

On the whole, however, alternatives of this kind are by no means of frequent occurrence. For just as most people do not have a surplus of money, but only just enough for their needs, so is it the same with intellect; of this they have just enough for the service of their will, that is, for carrying on their business. When this is done, they are content to be able to gape, or to indulge in sensual pleasures as well as in childish games, such as cards and dice; or they carryon the dullest discourses, or dress up and then bow to one another. There are few who have even a small surplus of intellectual powers. Now just as those with a small surplus of money give themselves pleasure, so do those others give themselves intellectual pleasure. They pursue some liberal study that brings them in nothing, or an art, and are generally in some way capable of an objective interest; and so it is possible to converse with them. But with the others, it is better not to enter into any relations; for with the exception of those cases in which they give an account of their own experiences, report something about their line of business, or at any rate contribute something they have learnt from others, what they have to say will not be worth listening to. What we say to them will seldom be properly grasped and understood and will also in most instances run counter to their views. Hence Balthasar Gracian admirably describes them as hombres que no lo son -- human beings who are not human; and Giordano Bruno says in these words the same thing: Quanta differenza sia di contrattare e ritrovarsi tra gli uomini, e tra color, che son fetti ad imagine e similitudine di quelli [34] (Della causa, Dial. I, p. 224, ed. Wagner). This agrees marvellously with the statement in the Kural: [35] 'The common people look like human beings; but I have never seen anything like them.'* To anyone who needs lively entertainment for the purpose of banishing the dreariness of solitude, I recommend a dog in whose moral and intellectual qualities he will almost always experience delight and satisfaction.

On all occasions, however, we wish to guard against being unjust. I have often been astonished at the cleverness, and again at the occasional stupidity of my dog; and my experiences with the human race have been much the same. Times without number, I have been filled with indignation by their incapacity, their complete lack of judgement, and their bestiality, and have had to agree with the old complaint:

Humani generis mater nutrixque profecto
Stultitia est. [36]

But at other times, I have again been astonished how, in spite of such a race, it was possible for useful and fine arts and sciences of many kinds to come into being, take root, maintain and perfect themselves, although they always came from individuals, from the exceptions. I am also astonished to see how with fidelity and persistence this race has preserved and protected from destruction the works of great minds such as Homer, Plato, Horace, and others for two or three thousand years by copying and keeping them in a safe place. This it has done, in spite of all the evils and atrocities in its history, whereby it has shown that it recognized the value of those works. I am likewise surprised at the special achievements of individuals and sometimes at the traits of intellect or judgement, as if by inspiration, in the case of those who in other respects belong to the masses; occasionally even with the crowd itself when, as often happens, it judges quite correctly as soon as its chorus has become full and complete. This is like the sounding of untrained voices which always proves to be harmonious, if only there are very many of them. Those who go beyond the crowd and who are described as having genius, are merely the lucida intervalla of the whole human race. Accordingly, they achieve what is absolutely denied to others; and thus their originality is so great that not only does their difference from others become obvious, but even the individuality of each one of them is so strongly marked that there is a complete difference of character and mind between all those of genius who have ever existed. By virtue of such a difference, each genius has in his works made a present to the world which it could never have received from anyone else in the whole of mankind. For this very reason, Ariosto's simile is so very pertinent and rightly famous: Natura it fece, e poi ruppe ta stampa. [37]

§ 58

By virtue of the limited amount of human capacity, every great mind is so only on condition of his having, even intellectually, some decidedly weak side, some quality wherein he is sometimes inferior even to mediocre minds. It will be the one quality that might have stood in the way of his outstanding ability; yet it will always be difficult to describe in a word what that quality is even in the case of a given individual. It may be better expressed indirectly; for example, Plato's weak side is precisely that wherein Aristotle's strength consists, and vice versa. Kant's weak side is that wherein Goethe is great, and vice versa.

§ 59

Men are also fond of venerating something, only that in most cases they come with their veneration to the wrong house, where it stops until posterity comes along to put it right. After this has been done, the veneration that is shown by the great educated public to genius deteriorates in just the same way as that shown by the faithful to their saints very easily degenerates into the puerile adoration of relics. Thousands of Christians adore the relics of a saint whose life and teaching are to them unknown. The religion of thousands of Buddhists consists much more in the veneration of the Dalaba (sacred tooth) or other Dhatu (relics),* or indeed of the Dagoba (stupa) enclosing them, the sacred Patra (begging-bowl), the footstep in stone, or the holy tree planted by the Buddha, than in a thorough knowledge and faithful practice of his exalted teaching. Petrarch's house in Arqua, Tasso's alleged prison in Ferrara, Shakespeare's house at Stratford with his chair, Goethe's house in Weimar with its furniture, Kant's old hat, likewise their respective autographs, are gaped at with awe and attention by many who have never read the works of those men. They cannot do anything more than just gape. Among the more intelligent, however, is to be found the desire to see the objects that a man of great intellect had before his eyes. Here by a strange illusion, there is the mistaken notion that with the object they bring back also the subject, or that something of him must cling to the object. Akin to such men are those who earnestly strive to investigate and become thoroughly acquainted with the subject-matter of poetical works, for instance with the Faust legend and its literature, and then with the actual personal circumstances and events in the poet's life which gave rise to his work. They resemble the man who sees at the theatre a fine piece of scenery and then hurries on to the stage to examine the wooden scaffolding whereby it is supported. Instances enough are at the present day afforded by the critical investigators of Faust and the Faust legend, of Frederica in Sesenheim, of Gretchen in the Weissadlergasse, of Lottie Werther's family, and so on. They prove the truth that men are interested not in the form, that is, the treatment and presentation, but in the matter; they are concerned with the theme. But those who make themselves acquainted with the story of a philosopher's life, instead of studying his thoughts, resemble those who, instead of studying a painting, are more interested in the frame and consider the style of its carving and the cost of gilding it.

So far so good; yet there is another class whose interest is likewise directed to what is material and personal, but who on this path go farther, and indeed to the point of complete futility. Thus a great mind has revealed to them the treasures of his innermost nature and, by a supreme effort of his powers, has produced works that will contribute not only to their uplift and enlightenment, but also to that of their descendants to the tenth or even twentieth generation. Because he has done this and has presented mankind with a matchless gift, these rogues think themselves entitled to sit in judgement on his personal morals to see whether they might not be able to discover in him some blot or blemish for relieving the pain felt by them' in the overwhelming sense of nothingness' [38] at the sight of so great a mind. Hence arise, for example, the detailed investigations of Goethe's life from the moral point of view which have been carried out in innumerable books and journals, whether he should or ought to have married this girl or that with whom in his youth he had had a love-affair; or whether, instead of honestly devoting himself to the service of his country, he should not have been a man of the people, a German patriot worthy of a seat in the Paulskirche, and so on. By such flagrant ingratitude and malicious backbiting, these intrusive and officious judges show that morally they are just as much knaves as they are intellectually, which is saying a good deal.

§ 60

Talent works for money and fame; on the other hand, it is not so easy to state the motive that urges the genius to elaborate his works. Money seldom comes to genius; and it is not fame; only Frenchmen can mean anything like this. Fame is too uncertain and is, more closely considered, of little value:

Responsura tuo nunquam est par fama labori. [39]

In the same way, it is not exactly the genius's own delight, for this is almost outweighed by the great effort he has put into the work. On the contrary, it is an instinct of quite a peculiar kind whereby the genius is urged to express in works that will endure that which he perceives and feels without being aware of any further motive. On the whole, it happens with the same necessity with which a tree bears fruit and nothing further is required from without except a soil wherein the individual can thrive. More closely considered, it is as though the will-to-live, as the spirit of the human species, were in such an individual conscious of having here reached by some rare chance and for a brief span of time a greater clearness of intellect, and were now trying to acquire for the whole species that is also the true inner nature of this individual at least the results or products of that clear vision and thought in order that the light radiating from him might afterwards with good effect pierce the darkness and dulness of the ordinary man's consciousness. Hence arises that instinct that urges the genius to complete his works without regard for any reward, approbation, or sympathy, and in solitude and with no attention to his own well-being to devote to them the greatest effort and industry. In this way, he is urged to think more of posterity than of the contemporary world by which he would merely be led astray. For posterity is a greater part of the species and in the course of time the few who are capable of judgement come along individually. Meanwhile, it is often with him as with the artist who laments in Goethe's Kunstlers Apotheose:

A friend who'd take delight in me,
A prince who'd prize my talents,
Alas have failed to come my way.
In cloisters did I meet with none
But dull and shallow patrons.
Thus did I always plague myself
Without adepts or pupils.

To make his work, as being a sacred deposit and the real fruit of his existence, the property of mankind and to hand it on to a posterity with better judgement, this is his aim which is more important than all others and for which he wears a crown of thorns that shall one day sprout into a wreath of laurel. His efforts are just as decidedly concentrated on the completion and security of his work as are those of the insect in its final form on the security of its eggs and the provision for the brood it will never live to see. It deposits the eggs where, as it well knows, they will one day find life and nourishment, and then dies fearlessly and with resignation.


A: 'The failure of philosophy till now has been necessary and is explained by the fact that, instead of confining himself to a deeper comprehension of the world as given, the philosopher wants at once to go beyond it and attempts to discover the ultimate grounds of all existence, the eternal relations of things. To think of these things is quite beyond the capacity of our intellect whose comprehension is fit only for what philosophers have at one time called finite things, at another phenomena, in short, the fleeting forms of this world and what is suitable for our persons, our purposes, and our preservation. Our intellect is immanent, and thus our philosophy too should be immanent and not aspire to supramundane things, but restrict itself to a thorough understanding of the world as given, which supplies material enough.'

B: 'If that is so, then in our intellect we have a miserable gift from nature. Thus it is only fit to grasp the relations which concern our paltry individual existence and which last only during the brief span of our temporal life. On the other hand, it is quite incapable of grasping that which alone is worthy of the interest of a thinking individual, the explanation of our existence generally and the interpretation of the circumstances of the world as a whole, in short, the solution to the riddle of our life-dream; and even if all this were expounded to it, it would be incapable of comprehending it. This being so, I do not find it worth my while to cultivate it and to concern myself with it. It is a thing that is not worth my stooping in order to pick it up.'

A: 'My dear sir, if we dispute and contend with nature, we are usually in the wrong. Just think! Natura nihil facit frustra nec supervacaneum (et nihil largitur). [40] We are simply temporal, finite, transient, dreamlike, fleeting beings like shadows. What could such beings do with an intellect that grasped the infinite, eternal, and absolute relations of things? And how could such an intellect once again relinquish those relations in order to turn to the petty circumstances of our ephemeral existence, which are for us the only real ones and actually concern us, and still be fit for these? By granting us such an intellect, nature would have not only made an immense frustra and mistake, but would also have worked entirely against her purpose with us. For what good would it do? As Shakespeare says:

we fools of nature,
So horridly to shake our disposition,
With thoughts beyond the reaches of our souls.

-- Hamlet, Act I, Sc. 4.

Would not such a perfect and exhaustive metaphysical insight render us incapable of all physical insight, of all our affairs and actions? Would it not rather plunge us for ever into a state of chill horror, like that of one who has seen a ghost?'

B: 'But you are making a wicked petitio principii [41] when you say that we are merely temporal, transient, and finite beings. We are at the same time infinite, eternal, and the original principle of nature herself. Therefore it is worth our while to go on trying to see" if nature is not ultimately fathomed".' [42]

A: 'According to your own metaphysics, we are infinite and eternal only in a certain sense, only as thing-in-itself not as phenomenon, only as the inner principle of the world not as individuals, only as will-to-live not as subjects of individual knowledge. Here it is a case only of our intelligent nature, not of the will; and, as intelligences, we are individual and finite; accordingly, our intellect is also of such a nature. The purpose of our life (if I may venture to use a metaphorical expression) is practical, not theoretical; our doing, not our knowing, appertains to eternity. Our intellect exists to guide these actions of ours and at the same time to hold up a mirror to our will; and this is what it does. It is extremely probable that anything more would render the intellect unfit for this. Indeed we see already how genius, this small surplus of intellect, is a bar to the career of the individual so endowed and makes him extremely unhappy, although inwardly for him it may be a blessing.'

B: 'It is a good thing for you to remind me of genius! To some extent it overthrows the facts you are trying to vindicate. In the case of genius, the theoretical side enormously outweighs the practical. Although the genius cannot grasp eternal relations, he sees somewhat more deeply into the things of this world, attamen est quadam prodire tenus. [43] This certainly renders the intellect that is favoured with genius less fit for grasping finite earthly relations; it is like using a telescope in a theatre. Here seems to be the point where we agree and our common observations come to a standstill.'



1 ['Give me a foothold (and I move the earth)' (attributed to Archimedes).]

2 ['Thus does one thing throw light on others.' (Lucretius, I. 1109.)]

* If I behold some object such as a view and think to myself that, if at this  moment my head were chopped off, I know that the object would still be there  unmoved and undisturbed, then this implies fundamentally and at bottom that I  too would still exist. This will be obvious to a few, but let it be said for these.

3 ['Time is not a modification of things, but only a mere mode of thinking.']

4 ['Eternity is not a succession of time without end, but a permanent Now."]

5 ['Time is the moved image of eternity.']

* If, with this subjective origin of time, we were to be very surprised at the  perfect regularity of its course in so many different heads, this would be based on  a misunderstanding. For regularity would necessarily signify here that, in a certain  time, an equal amount of time elapsed and thus the absurd assumption would  have to be made of a second time wherein the first passed away quickly or slowly.
6 ['Permanent now'.]

 * When I say 'in a different world', it shows a great want of understanding on  the part of anyone who asks: 'Where then is the other world?' For space that  imparts a meaning to all Where, belongs essentially to this world outside which  there is no Where. Peace, serenity, and bliss dwell only where there are no Where and  no When.
7 ['It is not true'; 'it is a poor invention.']

* According as the energy of the mind is raised or relaxed (in consequence of the organism's physiological state), the mind soars into very different heights, sometimes floating up in the ether and surveying the world, sometimes skimming over the morasses of the earth, often between the two extremes, but nearer to one of them! Here the will can do nothing.

8 ['No one is wise all the time.']

* Memory is a capricious and arbitrary thing, somewhat like a young girl. Sometimes it refuses quite unexpectedly to give what it has already furnished a hundred times, and then later on it presents us with this quite automatically when we are no longer thinking about it.

A word sticks more firmly in the memory, if we have associated it with a mental image rather than with a mere concept.

It would be a fine thing if we now knew for all time what we have learnt; but it is otherwise. Everything we have learnt must from time to time be brushed up by repetition, otherwise it is gradually forgotten. But as mere repetition is tedious, we must always learn something in addition. Hence: aut progredi, aut regredi ['either go forward or go back'].

9 ['Everything that is not natural is imperfect.']

10 ['The first mobile thing', 'the first thing to be moved', 'the first motive'.]

11 ['One day instructs another.']

12 ['The older I grow, the more I add to my store of knowledge.']

13 [In the preface to the work On the Will in Nature.]

14 ['As newborn babes' (I Peter 2:2).]

15 ['Learning too late'.]

16 ['The mistake of learning too late which consists in our repeating, everywhere and on all occasions, as something important that which we had never previously learnt and for long had not known, after we finally began to know it'.]

17 [Goethe's Faust, Pt. I, Bayard Taylor's translation.]

18 ['The most grievous affliction among men is for one to understand a great  deal and yet be incapable of anything.']
 19 ['Of the disgust with itself from which all stupidity suffers.'] (See volume one,  page 331 for the more accurate quotation from Seneca.)
* The above is quoted by Gaisford in the preface to Stobaeus, Floritegium, p. xxx, according to Gellius, lib. II, c. 6. In the Florilegium itself, vol. I, p. 107, it runs:

(Saepe etiam stupidi non intempesta loquuntur.)
['Even a foolish man often makes a pertinent remark.']
as a verse of Aeschylus which the editor doubts.

20 ['There is a mystery in the minds of those men who have none.']

21 ['Even a gardener often makes a pertinent remark.']

22 (Sprichwortlich, Weimar edition, vol II, p. 231.)

* The commonplace fellow shuns physical exertion, but mental effort even more so. He is, therefore, so ignorant and so lacking in ideas and judgement.

23 ['The boredom of the ignorant' (Orlando furioso, XXXIV. 75).]

* No difference of position, rank, or birth is so great as the gulf between the countless millions who regard and use their brains only as the servant of their bellies, that is to say, as an instrument for the aims of their will, and those exceedingly few and rare individuals who have the courage to say: No, my mind is too good for that; it should be active merely for its own purpose, for comprehending the marvellous and multicoloured spectacle of this world, in order later to reproduce it in some form as a picture or an explanation, according to the disposition of the individual who for the time being carries such a mind. These are the truly noble and the real noblesse of the world; the others are serfs, glebae adscripti ['soil-bound serfs']. Here, of course, are meant only those who have not merely the courage, but also the call and thus the right to emancipate the intellect from the service of the will, with the result that it is worth the sacrifice. With the rest where all this only partially exists, that gulf is not so wide; yet a sharp line of demarcation always remains, even in the case of a small but decided talent.

What a nation has to show in the way of works of fine art, poetry, and philosophy, is the product of a surplus of intellect which has existed in it.

The great majority are so constituted that, by their whole nature, they can never be serious about anything except eating, drinking, and copulating. All that the rare and more exalted natures have brought into the world either as religion, science, or art, will be used at once by the great majority as instruments for their own base ends, for in most cases they will make these their masks.

The intellect of ordinary people is kept strictly tied, namely to its fixed point, the will, so that it resembles a short and therefore rapidly swinging pendulum, or an angle of elongation with short radius vector. The result is that in things they see really nothing except just their advantage or disadvantage, the latter, however, the more clearly whereby there comes a great facility in dealing with things. The intellect of the genius, on the other hand, sees the things themselves, and in this consists his aptitude. But in this way, the knowledge of his advantage or disadvantage is obscured or even suppressed; and so it often happens that other people get through life's journey much more skilfully than he. Both can be compared to two chess players in a stranger's house before whom genuine Chinese chessmen, exceedingly beautiful and artistically carved, have been placed. One loses because his contemplation of the beautiful figures always distracts and diverts his attention; the other who has no interest in such things, sees in them mere chessmen and wins.

24 ['Soil-bound serfs'.]
25 ['Common, ignoble, barbarous, and unworthy conversations'.]
26 ['The mob often has more sense and understanding because it has only as  much as is necessary.']

* We clearly see in animals that their intellect is active merely in the service of their will; and as a rule it is not very different in the case of human beings. Even in them we see generally the same thing; in fact in the ease of many a man, it is even seen that he was never active in any other way, but that his attention was always directed to the petty aims and ends of life and to the means, often so sordid and unworthy, of attaining them. If a man has a definite surplus of intellect over and above that necessary for serving the will; and if such surplus then assumes on its own accord an entirely free activity which is not stirred by the will or concerned with the aims thereof and the result of which will be a purely objective comprehension of the world and of things-then such a man is a genius. It is stamped on his countenance, as also is every surplus above the aforesaid meagre measure, although less strongly marked.

The most correct scale for measuring the hierarchy of intelligences is furnished by the degree with which they apprehend things merely individually or more and more universally. The animal knows only the individual thing as such and so remains involved entirely in the apprehension of that which is individual. Every human being, however, summarizes into concepts that which is individual, and precisely in this does the use of his reason [Vernunft] consist. These concepts become more and more universal, the higher his intelligence stands. Now if this apprehension of the universal penetrates into intuitive knowledge and not merely concepts but also intuitively perceived things are grasped immediately as something universal, there arises the knowledge of the (Platonic) Ideas. It is aesthetic knowledge and, when it is self-acting or spontaneous, it becomes genius and attains the highest degree when it becomes philosophical. For then the whole of life, of beings and their fleeting nature, of the world and all it contains, appears in its true essence intuitively grasped. In this form it forces itself on our consciousness as the subject of meditation. It is the highest degree of reflectiveness. Therefore between this and merely animal knowledge are to be found innumerable degrees that are distinguished by the fact of our apprehension's becoming ever more universal.

27 ['With a grain of salt'.]

28 ['While I am being pulled and dragged they are ripening.']

29 ['Shaken but fruitful'.]

* Through the rarest concurrence of several extremely favourable circumstances,  a man is occasionally born, say once in a century, who has an intellect noticeably in  excess if the normal measure-this secondary and thus accidental quality with  reference to the will. Now it may be long before he is recognized and acknowledged,  stupidity preventing the one and envy the other. But when once this happens,  people crowd round him and his works in the hope that some light from him may  penetrate the darkness of their own existence, or indeed furnish them with some  information about it-to a certain extent a revelation coming from a higher being (and  be he ever so little).

* By itself alone, genius can no more have original ideas than a woman by  herself can have children; but the external occasion must also appear as the father,  so to speak, in order to render genius fruitful so that it may give birth to something.

30 ['Through us not for us'.]

31 Byron's lines are:

Many are poets who have never penn'd
Their inspiration, and perchance the best:
They felt, and loved, and died, but would not lend
Their thoughts to meaner beings; they compress'd
The God within them, and rejoin'd the stars
Unlaurell'd upon earth, ...

32 ['All the intelligence in the world is useless to him who has none.']
* Great minds, therefore, owe some indulgence to small ones just because they are great only by virtue of the smallness of the others; for everything is relative.

33 ['Contradiction in the adjective', e.g. in such expressions as 'wooden iron', 'cold fire', 'hot snow'.]

* If we bear in mind how much these ideas and even expressions agree, in spite of a great difference in the times and countries, it cannot be doubted that they have sprung from the same object. Therefore I was certainly not under the influence of these passages (one of which had not yet been printed and the other had not been in my hands for twelve years) when some twenty years ago I was thinking of having a snuff-box made on the lid of which two fine large chestnuts would be represented, in mosaic if possible, with a leaf that would show they were horse-chestnuts. This symbol would at all times give me a graphic description of that very idea.

34 ['What a difference there is whether we have to do with human beings or with those who are only created in their image and likeness!']

35 [The Kural of Tiruvalluver, German translation by Karl Grant in Bibliotheca Tamulica, Leipzig, 1856.]

36 ['Folly is indeed the mother and nurse of the human race.']

* Cf. Spence Hardy, Eastern Monachism, London, 1850, pp. 224 and 216; Manual of Budhism, London, 1853, p. 351.

37 ['Nature stamped it and then smashed the mould.']

38 [From Schiller's Don Carlos.]

39 ['The fame that is your due will never accord with your work.' (Horace,  Satires, II. 8.66.)]
40 ['Nature makes nothing in vain and nothing superfluous (and makes no  presents).']

41 ['Begging of the question'.]

42 [From Goethe.]

43 ['But yet it is right to go to the very limit.' (Horace, Epistles, 1. 1.32.)]
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Re: Parerga and Paralipomena: Short Philosophical Essays

Postby admin » Tue Jan 30, 2018 2:37 am

CHAPTER 4: Some Observations on the Antithesis of the Thing-in-itself and the Phenomenon

§ 61

Thing-in-itself expresses that which exists independently of perception through any of our senses, and so that which really and truly is. For Democritus this was formed matter; at bottom, it was still the same for Locke; for Kant it was an x, for me it is will.

How Democritus took the matter entirely in this sense and thus comes at the head of this group, is shown by the following passage from Sextus Empiricus (Adversus mathematicos, lib. III, § 135) who had his works before him and often quotes from them verbatim:

[x], and so on. (Democritus autem ea quidem tollit, quae apparent sensibus, et ex iis dicit nihil ut vere est apparere, sed solum ex opinione; verum autem esse in iis, quae sunt, atomos et inane). [1] I recommend the reader to go through the whole passage, where it further states: [x] (vere quidem nos, quale sit vel non sit unumquodque, neutiquam intelligimus), [2] also [x] ([x]) [x] (vere scire, quale sit unumquodque, in dubio est). [3] All this simply states that 'we do not know things according to what they may be in themselves, but merely as they appear', and opens up the series that starts from the most decided materialism, but leads to idealism and ends with me. A strikingly clear and definite distinction between the thing-in-itself and the phenomenon, even in the proper Kantian sense, is found in a passage of Porphyry which Stobaeus has preserved for us in the forty-third chapter of his first book, third fragment. It runs: [x]. [4] (vol. ii, p. 716.)

§ 62

Just as we know only the surface of the globe, but not the great solid mass of its interior, so we know empirically of things and of the world generally nothing but their phenomenal appearance, i.e. the surface. The precise knowledge of this is physics taken in the widest sense. But that this surface presupposes an interior that is not merely surface but has cubic content is, together with the conclusions as to its nature, the theme of metaphysics. To try to construct in accordance with the laws of the mere phenomenon the essence-in-itself of things, is an undertaking comparable to our trying to construct a stereometric body from mere surfaces and their laws. Every transcendent dogmatic philosophy is an attempt to construct the thing-in-itself in accordance with the laws of the phenomenon. This proves to be like the attempt to cover two absolutely dissimilar figures by each other, which never succeeds because one or other corner sticks out, however we turn the figures.

§ 63

Since every being in nature is simultaneously phenomenon and thing-in-itself, or even natura naturata [5] and natura naturans, [6] it is accordingly capable of a twofold explanation, a physical and a metaphysical. The physical explanation is always from the cause, the metaphysical always from the will; for it is this which manifests itself as a natural force in nature-without-knowledge and higher up as vital force, but which in animal and man receives the name of will. Strictly speaking, the degree and tendency of his intellect and the moral make-up of his character might possibly be deduced in a given man even in a purely physical way. Thus his intellect could be deduced from the constitution of his brain and nervous system together with the blood circulation affecting these; and his character from the structure and combined action of his heart, vascular system, blood, lungs, liver, spleen, kidneys, intestines, genitals, and so on. But for this purpose, of course, we should require a much more precise knowledge of the laws that regulate the rapport du physique au moral [7] than that possessed even by Bichat and Cabanis (Cf. § 102). Intellect and character could then be reduced to a remoter physical cause, to the condition and disposition of his parents, in that these were able to furnish the germ only for a being like themselves, but not for one higher and better. Metaphysically, however, the same human being would have to be explained as the phenomenon of his own perfectly free and original will that has created for itself the intellect appropriate to it. Therefore however necessarily all his deeds proceed from his character in conflict with the given motives and this again appears as the result of his corporization, such deeds are nevertheless to be attributed entirely to him. But now metaphysically the difference between him and his parents is not absolute.

§ 64

To understand is always an act of making a representation or mental picture and therefore remains essentially within the domain of the representation. Now as this furnishes only phenomena, all understanding is limited to the phenomenon. Where the thing-in- itself begins, the phenomenon ends and hence also the representation and with this the understanding. But in its place there comes that which is and exists itself and is conscious of itself as will. If this becoming conscious of ourselves were immediate, we should have a wholly adequate knowledge of the thing-in-itself. This, however, is brought about by the fact that the will creates for itself the organic body and, by means of a part thereof, an intellect, but then first through such intellect finds and recognizes itself in self-consciousness as will. Consequently, this knowledge of the thing-in-itself is primarily conditioned by the separation, already contained therein, of a knower and a known and then by the form of time that is inseparable from cerebral self-consciousness; and therefore such knowledge is not wholly exhaustive and adequate. (Compare this with chapter 18 of volume two of my chief work.)

Connected with this is the truth which is discussed under the heading 'Physical Astronomy' in my work On the Will in Nature, and which states that the more clearly we are able to comprehend an event or relation, the more does this lie in the mere phenomenon and does not concern the thing-in-itself.

The difference between thing-in-itself and phenomenon may also be expressed as that between the subjective and objective essence of a thing. Its purely subjective essence is just the thing-in- itself; but this is not an object of knowledge. For it is essential to such an object always to be present in a knowing consciousness as the representation thereof. What manifests itself there is just the objective essence of the thing. Accordingly, this is object of knowledge; but as such it is mere representation and can become this only by means of a representation-apparatus that must have its own peculiar nature and the laws resulting therefrom. Consequently, it is a mere phenomenon that may be related to a thing-in-itself. This holds good also where there is present a self-consciousness and thus a self-knowing I or ego. For this also knows itself only in its intellect, i.e. in its representation-apparatus, and indeed through the outer sense as organic form and through the inner as will. It sees the acts of this will repeated by that form as simultaneously as are those of this form by its shadow; and from this it infers the identity of the two, which it calls I or ego. But on account of this twofold knowledge as also of the great proximity in which the intellect here stands to its source or root, the will, the knowledge of the objective essence and thus of the phenomenon here differs much less from the subjective, from the thing-in-itself, than in the case of knowledge by means of the outer sense, or in the case of the consciousness of other things in contrast to self-consciousness. Thus in so far as self-consciousness knows through the inner sense alone, there still adheres to it only the form of time, no longer that of space; and so the form of time and the falling apart into subject and object are all that separates it from the thing-in-itself.

§ 65

When we perceive and contemplate some natural creature, an animal for instance, in its existence, life, and action, it stands before us as an unfathomable mystery, in spite of all that zoology and zootomy tell us about it. But then should nature out of mere obstinacy remain eternally dumb to our question? Is she not, like everything great, open, communicative, and even naive? Therefore can her answer ever fail for any reason except that the question was wrongly put, one-sided, started from false assumptions, or even contained a contradiction? Indeed, is it conceivable that there can be a connection of grounds and consequents where it must eternally and essentially remain undiscovered? Certainly not. On the contrary, it is unfathomable because we look for grounds and consequents in a sphere to which this form is foreign; and so we follow the chain of grounds and consequents on an entirely wrong track. Thus we try to reach the inner essence of nature, which confronts us in every phenomenon, by following the guiding line of the principle of sufficient reason (or ground); whereas this principle is the mere form with which our intellect apprehends the phenomenal appearance, i.e. the surface, of things, but with which we attempt to go beyond the phenomenon. For within the phenomenon the principle of sufficient reason is useful and adequate. For instance, the existence of a given animal may be explained from its generation. Thus, at bottom, generation is no more mysterious than is the sequence of any other effect, even the simplest, from its cause, since even in the case of such an effect the explanation ultimately comes up against the incomprehensible. In the case of generation, we lack a few more intermediate links of the connection, but this makes no essential difference; for even if we had these links, we should still find ourselves at the incomprehensible. All this is because the phenomenon remains phenomenon and does not become the thing-in-itself.

The inner essence of things is foreign to the principle of sufficient reason; it is the thing-in-itself and this is pure will. It is because it wills, and wills because it is. It is that which is absolutely real in every being.

§ 66

The fundamental character of all things is their fleeting nature and transitoriness. In nature we see everything, from metal to organism, corroded and consumed partly by its own existence, partly through conflict with something else. Now how could nature throughout endless time endure the maintenance of forms and the renewal of individuals, the countless repetition of the life-process, without becoming weary, unless her own innermost kernel were something timeless and thus wholly indestructible, a thing-in-itself quite different from its phenomena, something metaphysical that is distinct from everything physical? This is the will in ourselves and in everything.

The entire centre of the world is in every living being, and therefore its own existence is to it all in all. On this rests also egoism. To imagine that death annihilates it is absolutely absurd as all existence proceeds from it alone. (Cf. World as Will and Representation, vol. ii, chap. 41.)

§ 67

We complain of the obscurity in which we pass our lives without understanding the connection of existence as a whole, but in particular that between ourselves and the whole. Thus not only is our life short, but our knowledge is also entirely limited thereto; for we cannot look back to the time before our birth or forward to the time after our death. Consequently, our consciousness is, so to speak, only a flash that momentarily lights up the night. Accordingly, it really looks as if a demon had mischievously obstructed from us all further knowledge in order to gloat over our embarrassment.

But this complaint is not really justified, for its springs from an illusion, the result of the false fundamental view that the totality of things came from an intellect and consequently existed as mere mental picture or representation before it became actual, and that accordingly as it had sprung from knowledge, it was bound to be wholly accessible thereto and thus capable of being fathomed and exhaustively treated. But in truth the case might rather be that all we complain of not knowing is not known by anyone, indeed is in itself not even knowable at all, in other words, is not capable of being represented in anyone's head. For the representation, in whose domain all knowing is to be found and to which all knowledge therefore refers, is only the external side of existence, something secondary and additional, hence something that was not necessary for the maintenance of things generally and thus of the world as a whole, but merely for the maintenance of individual animal beings. Therefore the existence of things in general and as a whole enters knowledge only per accidens and consequently to a very limited extent. It forms only the background of the picture in animal consciousness where the objects of the will are the essential thing and occupy first place. Now it is true that, by means of this accident, the entire world arises in space and time, that is, the world as representation which has no such existence at all outside knowledge. On the other hand, the innermost essence of this world, that which exists in itself, is quite independent of such an existence. Now since, as I have said, knowledge exists only for the purpose of maintaining each animal individual, its whole nature, all its forms, such as time, space and so on, are adapted merely to the aims of such an individual. Now these aims require only the knowledge of relations between individual phenomena and certainly not that of the inner essence of things and of the world as a whole.

Kant has shown that the problems of metaphysics which more or less perplex everyone, are in no way capable of any direct, or indeed of any satisfactory, solution. Now, in the last resort, this is due to the fact that such problems have their origin in the forms of our intellect, in time, space, and causality; whereas such intellect has merely the business of presenting to the individual will its motives, in other words, of showing it the objects of its willing together with the ways and means of gaining possession thereof. If, however, this intellect is abused and turned to the essence-in-itself of things, to the totality and coherence of the world, then the aforesaid forms attaching to it of the coexistence, succession, and causation of all possible things give birth to such metaphysical problems as the origin and purpose of the world, its beginning and end, the problem of one's own self, of the destruction of this through death or of its continuation in spite of death, the problem of the freedom of the will, and many another. Now if we imagine these forms to be abolished and yet a consciousness of things to exist, then such problems would not be exactly solved, but would rather have entirely disappeared and their expression would no longer have any meaning. For they spring wholly and entirely from those forms that are not concerned at all with the comprehension of the world and of existence, but merely with that of our personal aims.

The whole of this consideration furnishes us with an elucidation and objective justification of Kant's doctrine which is established by him merely from the subjective side, that the forms of the understanding are merely of immanent, not transcendent, application. Thus instead of this, we could say also that the intellect is physical, not metaphysical; in other words, that, just as it has sprung from the will, belonging as it does to the objectification thereof, it also exists merely to serve the will. But this service concerns only things in nature, not anything that lies beyond her. As I have explained and substantiated in the work On the Will in Nature, every animal obviously has its intellect merely for the purpose of being able to discover and obtain its food; and accordingly, this also determines the measure of such intellect. Matters are no different with man, only that the greater difficulty of his maintenance and the infinite variety of his needs have here rendered necessary a much greater measure of intellect. Only when this is exceeded through something abnormal, does there appear a perfectly free surplus which, if considerable, is called genius. Only in this way does such an intellect first become really objective; but it may go so far as to become to a certain extent even metaphysical, or at any rate to endeavour so to be. For precisely in consequence of its objectivity, nature herself, the totality of things, now becomes its object and problem. Thus in it nature first begins really to perceive herself as something which is and yet might not be or might well be otherwise; whereas in the ordinary merely normal intellect nature does not clearly perceive herself; just as the miller does not hear his mill and the perfumer does not notice the odour in his shop. To such an intellect nature appears as a matter of course and it is held captive by her. Only at certain brighter moments does it become aware of nature and is wellnigh terrified by her; but this soon passes off. Accordingly, we soon see what such normal minds can achieve in philosophy even when they congregate in crowds. On the other hand, if the intellect were metaphysical, originally and by disposition, such minds, especially with their united strength, could advance philosophy just as they can any other branch of knowledge.



1 ['Since Democritus denies that which appears to sense-perception, he maintains that nothing of this phenomenon appears as it is in reality, but only as it seems to us. However, the existence of atoms and of the void is truly real.']

2 ['Truly, therefore, we know not how each thing is constituted or is not constituted.']

3 ['It is difficult to know how everything is constituted.']

4 ['If it is stated of the sensuous and material that it is extended in all directions and is changeable, then this is actually the case .... But of that which truly is and exists in itself, it is true to say that it is eternally grounded in itself and likewise that it always remains the same ... .' (Eclogae, lib. I, c. 35, ed. Gaisford, p. 281.)]

5 ['Created nature'.]

6 ['Creative nature'.]

7 ['Relation of the physical to the moral'.]
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Re: Parerga and Paralipomena: Short Philosophical Essays

Postby admin » Tue Jan 30, 2018 2:41 am

CHAPTER 5: A Few Words on Pantheism

§ 68

The controversy that is at the present time carried on among professors of philosophy between theism and pantheism could be given allegorically and dramatically by a dialogue that might be held in the pit of a playhouse in Milan during the performance. One of the speakers, convinced that he is in the large famous marionette theatre of Girolamo, admires the skill with which the director has made the marionettes and guides their play. But the other says: 'Not at all! We are in the Teatro della Scala; the director and his associates are themselves playing and are actually concealed in the characters whom we see before us; and the poet himself is also in the play.'

But it is amusing to see how the professors of philosophy flirt with pantheism as with forbidden fruit and have not the heart to grasp it. I have already described their attitude in this matter in my essay 'On Philosophy at the Universities', [1] where we were reminded of Bottom the weaver in Midsummer Night's Dream. Ah, the life of a professor of philosophy is indeed a hard one! First he must dance to the tune of ministers and, when he has done so really well, he can still be assailed from without by those ferocious man-eaters, the real philosophers. These are capable of pocketing him and of running off with him in order to pull him out occasionally as a pocket-Punchinello for the purpose of merriment and diversion during their expositions.

§ 69

Against pantheism I have mainly the objection that it states nothing. To call the world God is not to explain it, but only to enrich the language with a superfluous synonym for the word world. It comes to the same thing whether we say' the world is God' or ' the world is the world'. Indeed if we start from God, as if he were the given thing to be explained, and therefore say: 'God is the world', then there is to a certain extent an explanation in so far as it traces the unknown to what is better known; yet it is only a verbal explanation. But if we start from what is actually given and thus from the world, and then say: 'the world is God', it is obvious that with this nothing is said, or at any rate that ignotum is explained per ignotius. [2]

And so pantheism presupposes theism as having preceded it; for only in so far as we start from a God and thus have him already in advance and are intimate with him, can we ultimately bring ourselves to identify him with the world really in order to dispose of him in a seemly manner. Thus we have not started dispassionately from the world as the thing to be explained, but from God as that which is given. But after it was no longer possible to dispose of this God, the world had to take over his role. This is the origin of pantheism. For from a first and impartial view, it will never occur to anyone to regard this world as a God. It must obviously be an ill-advised God who could think of no better amusement than to transform himself into a world like the present one, into such a hungry world, in order to endure in it grief, misery, privation and death, aimless and immeasurable, in the form of countless millions of living, but troubled and tormented beings, all of whom exist for a while only by devouring one another. For example, we see such misery in the shape of six million Negro slaves who on the average receive daily sixty million cuts of the whip on their bare bodies, in the shape of three million European weavers who suffer hunger and poverty or feebly vegetate in stuffy attics or cheerless and dreary workshops, and in many other forms. What a pastime indeed for a God who as such must be accustomed to something quite different!*

Accordingly, if we take the so-called progress from theism to pantheism seriously and not merely as a masked negation, as previously suggested, it is a transition from the unproved and hardly conceivable to the absolutely absurd. For however obscure, indefinite, and confused the concept may be which we associate with the word God, two predicates are nevertheless inseparable from it, namely supreme power and the highest wisdom. Now it is a positively absurd idea that a being endowed with these qualities should have put himself in the position previously described; for our position in the world is obviously not one in which an intelligent being, let alone an all-wise one, would place himself. Pantheism is necessarily optimism and is therefore false. Theism, on the other hand, is merely unproved and even if it is difficult to conceive that the infinite world is the work of a personal, and consequently individual, being, such as we know only from animal nature, it is nevertheless not exactly absurd. For that an almighty and also all-wise being should create a tormented world is still always conceivable, although it is not known why he should do so. Therefore even if we attribute to him the quality of the highest goodness, the inscrutable mystery of his decree and decision is the refuge by which such a: doctrine still always escapes the reproach of absurdity. On the assumption of pantheism, however, the creating God himself is the endlessly tortured who on this small earth alone dies once every second and does so of his own free will, which is absurd. It would be much more correct to identify the world with the devil, as has in fact been done by the venerable author of Theologia Germanica in that he says on page 93 of his immortal work (according to the restored text, Stuttgart, 1851): 'Therefore are the evil spirit and nature one, and where nature is not overcome, there also is the evil foe not overcome.'

Obviously these pantheists give to Samsara the name God; the mystics, on the other hand, give the same name to Nirvana. Of this, however, they relate more than they can know; this the Buddhists do not do, and so their Nirvana is just a relative nothing. The Synagogue, the Church, and Islam use the word God in its proper and correct sense. If there are among the theists some who understand by the name God Nirvana, we will not argue with them over the word. It is the mystics who seem to understand it in this way. Re enim intellecta in verborum usu faciles esse debemus. [3]

The expression 'the world is an end in itself', which one often hears at the present time, leaves open the question whether it is to be explained by pantheism or mere fatalism. But at all events it admits of only a physical, not a moral, significance of the world since, on the assumption of the latter, the world always presents itself as the means to a higher end. But this very notion that the world has merely a physical, and no moral, significance is the most deplorable error that has sprung from the greatest perversity of the mind.



1 [See volume I, page 186.]

* Neither pantheism nor Jewish mythology is enough; if you undertake to explain the world, then keep your eyes solely thereon.

2 ['What is unknown is explained by what is even more unknown.']

3 ['If the matter itself is correctly understood, we will not raise any difficulties  over the words used.']
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Re: Parerga and Paralipomena: Short Philosophical Essays

Postby admin » Tue Jan 30, 2018 3:37 am

Part 1 of 4

CHAPTER 6: On Philosophy and Natural Science

§ 70

Nature is the will in so far as it beholds itself independently of and apart from itself; for this purpose its standpoint must be an individual intellect. This is likewise its product.

§ 71

Instead of demonstrating, like the English, the wisdom of God in the works of nature and of the mechanical instincts of animals, we should learn to understand from these that everything brought about through the medium of the representation and thus the intellect, even if such were enhanced to the faculty of reason, is mere bungling when compared with that which comes directly from the will as thing-in-itself and is not brought about by any representation, in other words, when compared with the works of nature. This is the theme of my essay On the Will in Nature, which I therefore cannot too often recommend to my readers; in it is to be found more clearly expounded than anywhere else the real core of my teaching.

§ 72

If we observe how nature, while showing little concern for individuals, watches with such excessive care over the preservation of the species by means of the omnipotence of the sexual impulse and by virtue of the incalculable surplus of seed which in the case of plants, fishes, and insects is often ready to replace the individual by several hundred thousand, we arrive at the assumption that, whereas the production of the individual is for nature an easy matter, the original generation of a species is for her one of extreme difficulty. Accordingly, we never see such generation arise for the first time. Even when generatio aequivoca [1] occurs (and there is really no doubt that it takes place in the case of epizoa and parasites generally), only known species are produced. Nature is unable to replace the extremely few extinct species of the fauna now inhabiting the earth, for example, that of the dodo bird (didus ineptus), although they were to be found in her scheme of things. We therefore stand in astonishment that our eagerness has succeeded in playing her such a trick.

§ 73

In the blazing primordial nebula of which the sun extending as far as Neptune consisted according to the cosmogony of Laplace, it was not yet possible for the chemical elements to exist actu, but only potentia. But the first and original separation of matter into hydrogen and oxygen, sulphur and carbon, nitrogen, chlorine, and so on, and also into the different metals, so similar to one another and yet so sharply separated-this indeed was the first striking of the world's fundamental chord.

Moreover, I surmise that all metals are the combination of two absolute elements, as yet unknown, and that they differ from one another merely through the relative quantum of these two. On this their electrical resistance also depends in accordance with a law analogous to the one in consequence whereof the oxygen of the base of a salt stands to its radical in the inverse ratio of that which the two have to each other in the acid of the same salt. If we could split metals into those constituents, we should probably be able even to make them; but there is an obstacle in the way.

§ 74

There still exists the old fundamentally false contrast between spirit and matter among the philosophically untutored who include all who have not studied the Kantian philosophy and consequently most foreigners and likewise many present-day medical men and others in Germany who confidently philosophize on the basis of their catechism. But in particular, the Hegelians, in consequence of their egregious ignorance and philosophical crudeness, have recently introduced that contrast under the name' spirit and nature' which has been resuscitated from pre-Kantian times. Under this title they serve it up quite naively as if there had never been a Kant and we were still going about in full-bottomed wigs between clipped hedges and philosophizing, like Leibniz in the garden at Herrenhausen (Leibniz, ed. Erdmann, p. 755), on 'spirit and nature' with princesses and maids of honour, understanding by 'nature' the clipped hedges and by 'spirit' the contents of the periwigs. On the assumption of this false contrast, we then have spiritualists and materialists. The latter assert that, through its form and combination, matter produces everything and consequently the thinking and willing in man, whereat the former then raise a great outcry.

But in point of fact, there is neither spirit nor matter, but a great deal of nonsense and fancies in the world. The tendency to gravity in the stone is precisely as inexplicable as is thinking in the human brain, and so on this score, we could also infer a spirit in the stone. Therefore to these disputants I would say: you think you know a dead matter, that is, one that is completely passive and devoid of properties, because you imagine you really understand everything that you are able to reduce to a mechanical effect. But physical and chemical effects are admittedly incomprehensible to you so long as you are unable to reduce them to mechanical. In precisely the same way, these mechanical effects themselves and thus the manifestations that result from gravity, impenetrability, cohesion, hardness, rigidity, elasticity, fluidity, and so on, are just as mysterious as are those others, in fact as is thinking in the human head. If matter can fall to earth without your knowing why, so can it also think without your knowing why. That which is really intelligible in mechanics, through and through and to the final limit, does not go beyond the purely mathematical in every explanation and is, therefore, restricted to determinations of space and time. Now these two, together with their whole conformity to law, are known to us a priori; and so they are mere forms of our knowing and belong solely to our representations or mental pictures. Their determinations are, therefore, at bottom subjective and do not concern the purely objective, that which is independent of our knowledge, the thing-in-itself. But as soon as we go, even in mechanics, beyond the purely mathematical; as soon as we come to impenetrability, gravity, rigidity, fluidity, or the gaseous state, we are already face to face with manifestations that to us are just as mysterious as are thinking and willing in man; and thus we are confronted with that which is directly unfathomable; for every force of nature is such. And so where is that matter of yours which you know and understand so intimately that you try to explain everything from it and to refer everything to it? It is always only the mathematical that is clearly comprehensible and wholly explicable because it is that which is rooted in the subject, in our own representation-apparatus. But as soon as something really objective appears, something not determinable a priori, then, in the last resort, it too is at once unfathomable. What is perceived generally by our senses and understanding is a wholly superficial phenomenon that leaves untouched the true and inner essence of things. This is what Kant meant. Now if you assume in the human head a spirit, like a deus ex machina, [2] then, as I have said, you must also concede to every stone a spirit. On the other hand, if your dead and purely passive matter can as heaviness gravitate, or as electricity attract, repel, and emit sparks, so too as brain-pulp can it think. In short, we can attribute matter to every so-called spirit, but also spirit to all matter, whence it follows that that contrast is false.

Therefore the philosophically correct division of all things is not the Cartesian into spirit and matter, but that into will and representation. But such a division does not run parallel with the Cartesian, for it spiritualizes everything, in that, on the one hand, it shifts into the representation or mental picture even that which is entirely real and objective, thus the body, matter, and, on the other, refers the essence-in-itself of every phenomenon to will.

The origin of the representation of matter in general as the objective bearer of all properties, itself being entirely without any, was first discussed by me in my chief work, volume i, § 4, and then more clearly and precisely in the second edition of my essay On the Principle of Sufficient Reason, § 21. I mention it here so that the reader will never lose sight of this new doctrine that is essential to my philosophy. Accordingly, matter is only the intellect's function of causality itself objectified, in other words, projected outwards and thus objectively hypostasized activity in general, without further definition of its method and nature. Consequently, with the objective apprehension of the corporeal world, the intellect from its own resources furnishes all the forms of this world, namely time, space, and causality, and with this also the concept of matter which is thought in the abstract and is devoid of properties and form and, as such, cannot possibly occur in experience. But as soon as the intellect, by means of and in these forms, notices a real intrinsic property (coming always only from the sensation of the senses), that is to say, something which is independent of its own forms of knowledge and manifests itself not in activity in general but in a definite mode of acting, then it is this that the intellect supposes to be body, that is to say, to be formed and specifically determined matter, such matter thus appearing as something independent of the forms of the intellect, that is, as something absolutely objective. But here we must bear in mind that empirically given matter everywhere manifests itself only through forces that express themselves therein, just as conversely every force is always known only as something inherent in matter; the two together constitute the empirically real body. Nevertheless, everything empirically real retains transcendental ideality. The thing-in-itself that manifests itself in such an empirically given body, and thus in every phenomenon, has been shown by me to be will. Now if we again take this as our starting-point, then, as I have often said, matter is the mere visibility of the will, but not the will itself. Accordingly, matter belongs to the merely formal part of our representation, not to the thing-in-itself. For this very reason, we must think of it as devoid of form and properties, as absolutely inert and passive. Yet we can think of it only in the abstract, for mere matter without form and quality is never given empirically. But just as there is only one matter that is yet the same, although it appears in the most varied forms and accidents, so also is the will in all phenomena ultimately one and the same. What matter is objectively, will is subjectively. All the natural sciences labour under the inevitable disadvantage of comprehending nature exclusively from the objective side and of being indifferent to the subjective. But the main point is necessarily to be found in the latter; and it devolves on philosophy.

In consequence of the foregoing, that from which everything originates and comes into existence must appear precisely as matter to our intellect, tied as this is to its forms and destined originally to serve only an individual will and not to know objectively the true essence of things. In other words, it must appear to our intellect as something which in general is real, fills space and time, endures amidst all the changes of qualities and forms, and is the common substratum of all intuitive perception, although by itself alone it is not intuitively perceivable. For what this matter may be in itself, remains primarily and directly an open question. Now if we understand by absolute, a word so often used, that which can never have come into being and never pass away, of which, on the other hand, every existing thing consists and from which it has come, then we must not look for this in imaginary places; on the contrary, it is quite clear that matter entirely satisfies all these requirements. Now after Kant had shown that bodies are mere phenomena, but that their essence-in-itself remained unknowable, I yet succeeded in showing that such essence is identical with what we directly recognize in our self-consciousness as will. Accordingly, I have described matter (World as Will and Representation, volume ii, chap. 24) as the mere visibility of the will. Further, as every force of nature is, according to me, a phenomenon of the will, it follows that no force can appear without a material substratum and hence also that no manifestation of force can take place without some material change. This induced Liebig, the zoochemist, to state that every muscular action, in fact every thought in the brain, must be accompanied by a chemical transposition of substance. We, on the other hand, must still stick to the fact that we always know matter empirically only through the forces that manifest themselves therein. It is simply the manifestation of these forces in general, that is, in abstracto; in itself, it is the visibility of the will.

§ 75

When once we get an opportunity of seeing on a colossal scale quite simple effects that are daily before our eyes on a small scale, the spectacle is novel, interesting, and instructive because only then do we obtain an adequate conception of the forces of nature which here manifest themselves. Instances of this kind are lunar eclipses, conflagrations, large waterfalls, the opening of the canals in the interior of Mont St. Feriol which supply the Languedoc Canal with water, the crashing and crushing of ice-floes at the rising of a river, the launching of a ship, even a hawser some five hundred feet long when its whole length is suddenly pulled out of the water, as happens when a ship is being towed. What would it be like, if we were able to survey by direct intuitive perception the action of gravitation which we know only from an extremely narrow aspect as terrestrial gravity and could see it at work on a grand scale between heavenly bodies

how they play and are enticed
on to the bounds of space. [3]

§ 76

Empirical in the narrower sense is the knowledge that stops at effects without being able to arrive at the causes. For practical purposes it often suffices, as for example in therapeutics.

The nonsense of the natural philosophers of Schelling's school on the one hand, and the results of empiricism on the other, have provoked in many such a dread of system and theory that they expect progress in physics entirely by hand without the aid of the head and would, therefore, like best of all simply to experiment without giving any thought to the matter. They imagine that their physical or chemical apparatus should do their thinking for them and itself should express the truth in the language of mere experiments. For this purpose, experiments are now multiplied ad infinitum and again in these the conditions, so that operations are carried on solely with extremely complicated, and in the end utterly absurd, experiments, namely with such as can never furnish a simple and straightforward result. Nevertheless, they are to act as thumbscrews applied to nature in order to force her even to speak. The genuine research worker, on the other hand, who thinks for himself, arranges for his experiments to be as simple as possible so that he may plainly hear nature's clear statement and judge accordingly. For nature appears always only as a witness. Examples in support of what has been said are furnished in particular by the entire chromatological part of optics, including the theory of physiological colours, such as have been dealt with by the French and Germans in the last twenty years.

Speaking generally, however, it is not the observation of rare and hidden phenomena that can be produced only by experiments, but the study of those that are obvious and accessible to everyone, which will lead to the discovery of the most important truths. Therefore the problem is not so much that of seeing what no one has yet seen, but rather of thinking in the case of something seen by everyone that which no one has yet thought. For this reason, it also takes very much more to be a philosopher than a physicist.

§ 77

For acoustics the difference of tones in regard to pitch and depth is qualitative; physics, however, reduces it to one that is merely quantitative, to that of quicker or slower vibrations, and accordingly everything is explained from merely mechanical effect or operation. Thus in music not only the rhythmic element, the beat, but also the harmonic, the pitch and depth of tones, is reduced to motion and consequently to the mere measure of time, and hence to numbers.

Now analogy here furnishes a strong presumption for Locke's view of nature, namely that everything we perceive by means of the senses as quality in bodies (Locke's secondary qualities) is in itself nothing but a difference of what is quantitative, of the mere result of impenetrability, size, form, rest or motion, and number of the smallest parts. These properties are admitted by Locke as the only objectively real and are accordingly called primmy i.e. original qualities. Now in tones this could be plainly demonstrated simply because here the experiment admits of every enlargement in that we can arrange for long and thick strings to vibrate whose slow vibrations can be counted. Nevertheless, it would be just the same with all qualities. It was, therefore, first applied to light whose effect and colouring are deduced from the vibrations of a wholly imaginary ether and are very accurately calculated. This colossal humbug and tomfoolery which is recited with unheard-of effrontery, is repeated especially by the most ignorant in the republic of learning with such childlike assurance and confidence that one would imagine they had actually seen and had in their hands the ether and its vibrations, atoms and any other fiddlesticks there might be. From this view, conclusions would follow in favour of the atomic theory which prevails especially in France but is also gaining ground in Germany after being countenanced by the chemical stoicheiometry of Berzelius. (Pouillet, i, p. 23.) 4 To enter here on a detailed refutation of the atomic theory would be superfluous, for at best it can be regarded as an unproved hypothesis.

However small an atom may be, it is still always a continuum of uninterrupted matter. If you can picture to yourself anything so minute, then why not something large? What then is the purpose of atoms?

Chemical atoms are merely the expression of the constant fixed ratios in which the elements combine with one another. As this expression had to be given in numbers, it was based on an arbitrarily assumed unit, the weight of a quantity of oxygen with which every element combines, For these weight-ratios, however, the old expression atom was most unfortunately chosen; and from this there has been developed in the hands of French chemists, who have learnt their chemistry but nothing else, a crude atomic theory. This takes the thing seriously, hypostasizes those mere counters as real atoms, and then, like Democritus, speaks of their arrangement in different bodies, in order to explain from this their qualities and differences; and this without having an inkling of the absurdity of the thing. It goes without saying that there is in Germany no lack of ignorant apothecaries who are also 'an ornament to the professorial chair' and slavishly imitate those chemists. We must not be surprised when in their compendiums they tell the students with downright dogmatism and in all seriousness, as if they actually knew something about it, that 'the crystal form of bodies has its basis in a rectilinear arrangement of the atoms.'! (Wohler, Grundriss der Chemie, Pt. I, Unorganische Chemie, p. 3). But these men speak the same language as Kant and from their youth have heard his name mentioned with reverence; yet they have never pored over his works, for which reason they are bound to produce such scandalous rubbish. But we could really do the French a good turn (une charite) if we were to give them an accurate translation of Kant's Metaphysische Anfangsgrunde der Naturwissenschaft in order, if it is still possible, to cure them of a relapse into that Democritism. Even a few passages from Schelling's Ideen zur Philosophie der Natur, for example, chapters three and five of the second book, could be given by way of illustration. For wherever, as here, Schelling stands on Kant's shoulders, he says much that is good and worth taking to heart.

The Middle Ages have shown us where we get to when we think without experimenting; and the present century is destined to show us where we get to when we experiment without thinking and what results from our restricting the education of youth to physics and chemistry. Only from a total ignorance of the Kantian philosophy on the part of the French and English at all times, and from its being neglected and forgotten by the Germans since Hegel's process of blunting the intellect set in, is it possible to explain the incredible crudeness of present-day mechanical physics. Its adepts try to reduce every natural force of a higher kind, light, heat, electricity, chemical process, and so on, to the laws ~f motion, impact, and pressure, and to geometrical configuration, namely of the imaginary atoms. With bashful mien, they often call them merely 'molecules' and from the same feelings of bashfulness they hardly venture on gravity in their explanations. Even this they deduce, a la Descartes, from a thrust so that there will be nothing in the world but pushing and being pushed, the only things they can understand. They are most amusing when they talk of the molecules of the air or its oxygen. Accordingly, the three states of aggregation are for them a fine powder, one finer, and a third still finer; this is what they understand. These men who have carried out many experiments, have done little thinking and are, therefore, realists of the crudest kind; they regard matter and the laws of impact as something absolutely given and thoroughly intelligible, and so a reference to these seems to them to be a thoroughly satisfactory explanation. Yet, in point of fact, those mechanical properties of matter are just as mysterious as are those others that are to be explained through them; thus, for example, cohesion is just as difficult to understand as is light or electricity. The large amount of manual work in experimenting really makes our physicists strangers to both thinking and reading; they forget that experiments can never furnish them with the truth, but only with the data for its discovery. Akin to them are the physiologists who deny vital force and try to substitute for it chemical forces.

According to them, an atom is not merely a bit of matter without any pores, but, as it must be indivisible, it is either without extension (in which case it would not be matter), or is endowed with absolute, i.e. the utmost possible, power of superior cohesion of its parts. Here I refer the reader to what I have said on the subject in my chief work, volume ii, chapter 23. Moreover, if chemical atoms are understood in the true sense and thus objectively and as real, then at bottom there is no longer any chemical combination at all in the real sense, but every such combination is reduced to a very fine mixture of different atoms that remain eternally separate. Now, on the contrary, the peculiar characteristic of a chemical combination consists precisely in the fact that its product is an absolutely homogeneous body wherein we cannot find even an infinitely small part that does not contain both substances in combination. (Proof of this Kantian proposition is in Schelling's Wettseele, pp. 168 and 137.) Thus water is vastly different from the explosive mixture of hydrogen and oxygen because it is the chemical combination of the two elements which in the gaseous state exist together merely as the finest mixture. *

The mania and fixed idea of the French of reducing everything to mechanical events is, of course, strengthened by that reduction of chemical combinations previously mentioned to very fine mixtures of atoms. But there is no advantage to truth in whose interests I rather recall the statement of Oken (Uber Licht und Warme, p. 9) 'that nothing, absolutely nothing, in the universe, which is a world-phenomenon, is brought about through mechanical principles.' At bottom, there is only a mechanical mode of acting which consists in the will of one body to penetrate the space occupied by another. Pressure as well as impact can be reduced to this; they differ merely in gradualness or suddenness, although in the latter case the force becomes 'living'; and so everything achieved by mechanics is due to these. Pulling is only apparent; for example, the rope with which a man pulls a body pushes it, i.e. presses it from behind. But now from this these men try to explain the whole of nature; the action of light on the retina is then said to consist of mechanical impacts, now slow, now more rapid. They have imagined for this purpose an ether that is supposed to push; whereas they see how, in the most violent storm that overwhelms everything, the ray of light remains as still and motionless as a ghost. The Germans would do well to get as far as possible from this vaunted empiricism and its manual labour and to study Kant's Metaphysical Rudiments of Natural Science in order to clear it away once for all not only from the laboratory but also from their heads. In consequence of its subject-matter, physics frequently and inevitably encroaches on the problems of metaphysics; and then our physicists, who know nothing except their electrical playthings, voltaic piles, and frogs' hind legs, reveal such crass cobbler's ignorance and crudeness in matters of philosophy (of which they are called Doctores). Such ignorance is often accompanied by the impudence with which they philosophize at random, like crude clodhoppers, on problems (such as matter, motion, change) which have engaged the attention of philosophers for thousands of years. They therefore merit no other reply than the epigram of Goethe and Schiller:

Poor empirical devil! You do not even know
The dullness in you; it is alas so a priori dull. *

§ 78

Chemical analysis is the conquest of cohesion through affinity. Both are qualitates occultae.

§ 79

I do not regard light either as an emanation or as a vibration; both hypotheses are mechanical and are akin to the one that explains transparency through pores. On the contrary, light as such is quite unique, sui generis, and without any real analogue.* Most clearly akin to it, but at bottom its mere metamorphosis, is heat whose nature, therefore, might serve to elucidate that of light.

In fact heat, like light itself, is imponderable; yet it shows a certain materiality in that it behaves as permanent substance in so far as it passes from one body and locality to another and must quit the former in order to take possession of the latter; so that when it has left a body, it must always be possible to state where it has gone to and that it is to be found somewhere, even if only in the latent state. Therefore in this respect, it behaves like a permanent substance, that is to say like matter.** It is true that there is no body which is absolutely impervious to heat and by means of which it could be entirely confined. Nevertheless, we see it escape slowly or rapidly, according as it is retained by good or bad non-conductors; and so we have no reason to doubt that an absolute non-conductor could confine and retain it for ever. It shows with particular clearness its permanence and substantial nature when it becomes latent; for then it enters a state wherein it can be stored for any length of time and later appear again undiminished as free heat. This becoming latent and again becoming free irrefutably proves the material nature of heat and, as it is a metamorphosis of light, that also of light. Therefore the emanation system is right, or rather comes nearest to the truth. It is materia imponderabilis, as it has been rightly named. In short, we indeed see it migrate and also conceal itself; but we never see it disappear and can at all times state what has become of it. Only during incandescence is it converted into light and then it assumes the nature and laws thereof. This metamorphosis is particularly evident in the Drummond limelight which, as we know, has been used for the oxyhydrogen microscope. All suns are a constant source of fresh heat; yet, as already shown, the existing heat never passes away, but only wanders and at most becomes latent. Therefore we might conclude that the world as a whole will become ever warmer. This is a question I leave unanswered. Thus heat as such always shows itself as a quantum which cannot be weighed, it is true, but is nevertheless permanent.* Yet against the view that it is a material substance which enters into chemical combination with the warmed body, it may be asserted that the greater the affinity two substances have for each other, the more difficult it is to separate them. Now those bodies, that most easily take up heat, also let it go again most easily, metals for instance. On the other hand, when heat becomes latent, this may be regarded as its really chemical combination with bodies; thus ice and heat furnish us with a new body, namely water. Since it is actually united with such a body by an overwhelming affinity, it does not at once pass from this to any other that approaches it, as it does from other bodies to which it merely adheres. Whoever wishes to use this for comparisons of the kind like Goethe's Elective Affinities, may say that a faithful wife is united to her husband as latent heat is to water; whereas the faithless coquette is to him as heat is to the metal in that she has suddenly come from without to remain for as long as no one else approaches who would covet her more.

To my astonishment, I find that the physicists as a rule (possibly without exception) regard calorific capacity and specific heat as the same thing and as synonymous terms. I, on the contrary, consider them to be opposites. The more specific heat a body has, the less it can absorb of the heat that is supplied to it; on the contrary, it again gives it up at once; and so the smaller is its calorific capacity, and vice versa. If, in order to bring a body to a definite temperature, it requires more heat flowing to it from without than does another, then it has greater calorific capacity; for example, linseed oil has half the capacity of water. To bring a pound of water to 167°F. requires as much heat as to melt a pound of ice, where the heat becomes latent. Linseed oil, on the other hand, is brought to a temperature of 167°F. by applying to it half the amount of heat; but then it can melt only half a pound of ice by again giving up this heat and falling to 32°F. Therefore linseed oil has twice the specific heat of water and consequently half the capacity; for it can again give up only the heat that is imparted to it, not the specific heat. And so the more specific heat, that is, the more heat peculiar to it, a body has, the smaller its capacity, that is to say, the more readily it casts off the applied heat that affects the thermometer. The more heat applied to it and necessary for this purpose, the greater its capacity, and the less its specific heat, in other words, the heat that is inalienable and peculiar to it; accordingly, it again gives up the heat supplied to it. Therefore a pound of water at a temperature of 167°F. melts a pound of ice, and in so doing falls to 32°F.; a pound of linseed oil at a temperature of 167°F. can melt only a half a pound of ice. It is absurd to say that water has more specific heat than oil. The more specific heat a body has, the less external heat is required to raise its temperature, but also the less heat it can give up; it rapidly becomes cool just as it rapidly became warm. The whole question is perfectly correct in Tob. Mayer's Physik, §§ 350f., but even he in § 356 confuses capacity with specific heat and regards them as identical. The fluid body loses its specific heat only when it changes its physical condition, namely when it freezes. Accordingly, it would be latent heat in the case of fluid bodies; but even solid bodies have their specific heat. Baumgartner mentions iron-filings.

The fact that heat becomes latent is a striking and inevitable refutation of the assertion, made by the shallow mechanical physics of today, that heat is a mere motion, an agitation, of a body's smallest parts. For how could a mere motion be completely stopped in order to emerge again after many years of rest and indeed with exactly the same velocity that it had previously?

The behaviour of light is not so material as that of heat; on the contrary, it has only a ghostly phantom nature, in that it appears and disappears without leaving a trace. In fact, it exists really only as long as it is coming into being; if it ceases to be evolved, then it ceases also to eradiate; it has disappeared and we cannot say where it has gone to. There are vessels enough whose material is impervious to it, yet we cannot shut it up and again let it out. At most the Bononian stone and also some diamonds retain it for a few minutes. Nevertheless, there is a most recent report of a violet fluor-spar, for this reason called chlorophan or pyro-emerald, which states that, when it is exposed to sunlight for only a few minutes, it remains luminous for three to four weeks. (See Neumann's Chemie, 1842.) This vividly reminds one of the ancient myth of the carbuncle, carbunculus, [x]. Incidentally, all the notes on this are found classified in Philostratorum opera, ed. Olearius, 1709, p. 65, note 14; to which I add that it is mentioned in the Sakuntala, Act II, p. gl, of Sir William Jones's translation, and that a more recent and detailed account of it is found in Benvenuto Cellini's Racconti, 2nd edn., Venezia, 1829, race. 4, which is found abbreviated in his Trattato del oreficeria, Milano, 1811, p. go. But as all fluor-spar becomes luminous through being warmed, we must conclude that this stone in general readily converts heat into light and that, for this very reason, pyro-emerald does not convert light into heat, as do other bodies, but gives it up again undigested, so to speak. This applies also to the Bononian stone and to some diamonds. Therefore only when light, falling on an opaque body, is converted into heat in accordance with the body's opacity and has now assumed the more substantial nature of heat, can we so far give an account of it. But now light shows a certain materiality in reflection where it follows the laws of resilience of elastic bodies; and likewise in refraction. In the latter case, it also reveals its will since of the bodies that are open to it and are therefore transparent, it prefers and selects those that are denser.* For it abandons the rectilinear path followed by it in order to incline in the direction where the greater quantum of denser diaphanous matter is to be found. Therefore when passing from one medium to another, it is always diverted to where the mass lies nearest to it, or to where this is most concentrated; and so it always strives to approach this. With the convex glass, the greatest mass is in the middle and therefore the light emerges in conical form; with the concave, the mass is in the periphery and thus the light on emerging spreads out in the shape of a funnel. If it falls obliquely on a flat surface, then, when entering or leaving, it is always diverted from its path towards the mass of that medium and, as it were, extends to this a hand of welcome or farewell. Also in the case of diffraction, it shows this tendency towards matter. It is true that in the case of reflection it is refracted, but a part goes through; on this depends the so-called polarity of light. Analogous manifestations of will on the part of heat could be demonstrated especially in its reaction to good and bad conductors. The only hope of investigating the nature of light lies in our following up its properties which have here been touched on, not in mechanical hypotheses of vibration or emanation which are inappropriate to its nature, let alone in absurd fairy-tales of molecules of light, that crass creation of the idee fixe of the French which asserts that every event must be ultimately mechanical and everything must depend on thrust and counter-thrust. Descartes is still always part and parcel of their lives. I am surprised they have not yet said that acids consist of little hooks and alkalies of eyes and that this is why they have entered into so stable a combination. 'A shallow and insipid spirit moves through these times'; [5] it manifests itself in the mechanical physics in the resuscitated atomic theory of Democritus, in the denial of vital force, as also of real morality, and so on.

But the impossibility of every mechanical explanation is already clear from the ordinary everyday fact of perpendicular reflection. Thus if I stand right in front of a mirror, the rays from my face fall perpendicularly on to its surface and by the same path return therefrom to my face. Both happen all the time and without interruption and consequently simultaneously. In the case of this occurring mechanically, whether it be vibration or emanation, the oscillations or streams of light, striking one another in straight lines and from opposite directions (like two inelastic spheres encountering each other from opposite directions with equal velocity), would inevitably impede and eliminate one another, so that no image would appear; or they would press one another to one side and all would be confusion. But my image stands before me firm and unshaken; and so it does not happen mechanically. (Cf. World as Will and Representation, vol. ii, chap. 23.) But now the general assumption (Pouillet, vol ii, p. 282) is that the vibrations are supposed to be not longitudinal but transversal, in other words, occur perpendicularly to the direction of the ray. Thus the vibration with the impression of light does not come from the spot, but dances where it is and rides on its beam, like Sancho Panza on the wooden donkey that is shoved under him and which he cannot shift with his spurs. Therefore instead of vibration, they are fond of saying waves because they get on better with these; but only an inelastic and absolutely mobile body like water forms waves, not an absolutely elastic body like air or ether. If there were actually anything like interference, mechanical elimination of light by light, then this would inevitably show itself especially in the decussation in the focus of a lens of all the rays emanating from a picture, for at the focusfrom all angles they impinge on one another in a single point. But after this decussation or crossing, we see the rays emerge quite unaltered and present the original image without loss, merely inverted and the other way round. Indeed, the imponderability of the imponderables already excludes all mechanical explanation of their action. That which has no weight, can also exert no thrust; and that which exerts no thrust cannot operate through vibration. But the impudence with which an entirely unproved, thoroughly false, and baseless hypothesis (actually based on musical air-vibrations) is circulated, I mean the hypothesis that colours depend on the different velocities of the undulations of the (entirely hypothetical) ether-all this is just a proof of the complete lack of judgement on the part of the great majority. Apes imitate what they see; human beings repeat what they hear.

Their chaleur rayonnante [6] is just an intermediate station on the path of the metamorphosis of light into heat or, if we prefer it, the chrysalis thereof. Radiant heat is light which has given up the characteristic of affecting the retina but has retained the other attributes-comparable to a very deep bass string or even an organ pipe that still visibly vibrates but no longer sounds, that is, no longer affects the ear-therefore light which shoots forth in direct rays and traverses several bodies, yet only when it strikes opaque bodies heats these. The method of the French of complicating experiments by adding to the conditions may increase their accuracy and be favourable to correct measurements; but it renders judgement difficult and even confuses it. As Goethe has said, this method is to blame for the fact that judgement and a comprehension of nature have certainly not kept pace with empirical knowledge and the accumulation of facts.

Perhaps the best information on the nature of pellucidity can be given by those bodies that are transparent only in the fluid state but opaque in the solid, such as wax, spermaceti, tallow, butter, oil, and so on. For the present, we can interpret the facts by saying that the tendency to the fluid state, peculiar to these as well as to all solid bodies, shows itself in a strong affinity, i.e. love, for heat, as being the only way to reach that state. Therefore in the solid state, they at once convert into heat all the light that falls on them, and so remain opaque till they have become fluid; but then they are saturated with heat and therefore let the light through as such.*

This universal tendency of solid bodies to the fluid state may well have its ultimate ground in the fact that such a state is the condition of all life, but that the will is always striving upwards in the scale of its objectification.

The metamorphosis of light into heat and vice versa obtains striking proof in the behaviour of glass when heated. Thus at a certain temperature, it becomes incandescent, that is to say, it converts into light the heat it has received; at a higher temperature, however, it melts and then ceases to emit light. For now the heat is sufficient to fuse it, in which case the greatest part thereof becomes latent for the purpose of the fluid physical state; and so no heat remains to be needlessly converted into light. Yet such conversion occurs when the temperature is once more raised, in which case the glass-flux itself becomes luminous; for now it no longer needs to use in any other way the heat that is still applied to it. (Incidentally, this fact is mentioned by Babinet in the Revue des deux mondes, 1 November 1855 without his understanding it in the very least.)

It is stated that the temperature of the air on mountain tops is, of course, very low, but that the direct heat of the sun on the body is very intense. This may be explained from the fact that sunlight, still undiminished by the denser atmosphere of the lower layer, strikes the body and at once undergoes the metamorphosis into heat.

The well-known fact that at night all noises and sounds are louder than in the daytime is usually explained from the general peace and calm of night. I have forgotten who advanced, some thirty years ago, the hypothesis that the thing was due possibly to an actual antagonism between sound and light. From frequent observation of this phenomenon, one certainly feels inclined to accept this explanation; methodical experiments alone can decide the question. Now this antagonism might be explained from the fact that the essential nature of light, tending to move in absolutely straight lines, diminishes the elasticity of the air by its penetration thereof. Now if this were verified, it would be one more step towards our knowledge of the nature of light. If ether and the system of vibration were proved, then the explanation that its waves intersected and impeded those of sound would have everything in its favour. On the other hand, the final cause would here readily follow that the absence of light, while depriving animals of the use of sight, would enhance that of hearing. Alexander v. Humboldt (cr. Birnbaum, Reich der Wolken, Leipzig, 1859, p. 61) discusses the matter in a later and revised essay of 1820 to be found in his Kleinere Schriften, volume i, 1853. He too is of the opinion that the explanation from the peace and calm of night does not suffice; on the other hand, he gives the explanation that, in the daytime, the ground, rocks, water, and objects on the earth were heated unequally, whereby columns of air of unequal density rose; the sound-waves had to penetrate these successively and thus became broken and unequal. But at night, I say, the unequal cooling-off would inevitably produce the same effect; moreover, this explanation applies only when the noise comes from a distance and is so loud that it remains audible; for only then does it pass through several columns of air. But at night springs, fountains, and streams murmur at our feet two or three times more loudly. Generally speaking, Humboldt's explanation concerns only the propagation of sound, not its immediate intensification that takes place even in the closest proximity. Then again, as general rain everywhere equalizes the temperature of the ground, it must, like night, produce the same intensification of sound. But at sea the intensification could not possibly occur at all; he says it would be less; yet it is difficult to test this. Therefore his explanation is entirely irrelevant; and so the intensification of sound at night must be attributed either to the falling off of day noises or to a direct antagonism between sound and light.
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