THE GERMAN CLASSICS
Masterpieces of German Literature
TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH
Patrons' Edition IN TWENTY VOLUMES
CONTRIBUTORS AND TRANSLATORS
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FRANK THILLY, PH.D., LL.D., Professor of Philosophy, Cornell University: The Romantic Philosophers—Fichte, Schelling, and Schleiermacher.
GEORGE H. DANTON, PH.D., Professor of German, Butler College: Later German Romanticism.
PERCY MACKAYE, Dramatist and Poet: Departure; Would I were Free as are My Dreams.
A.I. DU P. COLEMAN, A.M., Professor of English Literature, College of the City of New York: Taillefer; The Lion's Bride; The Crucifix; The Old Singer; From My Childhood Days; The Invitation; A Parable; At Forty Years; etc.
MARGARETE MUeNSTERBERG: Selections from The Boy's Magic Horn; Union Song; The Mother Tongue; Spring Greeting to the Fatherland; Freedom; Charlemagne's Voyage; Chidher; etc.
HERMAN MONTAGU DONNER: Luetzow's Wild Band; Cavalryman's Morning Song.
LOUIS H. GRAY, PH.D.: Addresses to the German Nation.
FREDERIC H. HEDGE: The Destiny of Man; The Wonderful History of Peter Schlemihl; The Golden Pot.
GEORGE RIPLEY: On the Social Element in Religion.
J. ELLIOT CABOT: On the Relation of the Plastic Arts to Nature.
MRS. A.L.W. WISTER: From the Life of a Good-for-nothing.
MARGARET HUNT: The Frog King, or Iron Henry; The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids; Rapunzel; Haensel and Grethel; The Fisherman and His Wife.
F.E. BUNNETT: Selections from Undine.
H.W. DULCKEN: Song of the Fatherland; The White Hart; Evening Song; Before the Doors.
C.T. BROOKS: Men and Knaves; Prayer During Battle; Song of the Mountain Boy; The Chapel; etc.
W.W. SKEAT: The Shepherd's Sang on the Lord's Day; The Hostess' Daughter; The Good Comrade.
W.H. FURNESS: The Lost Church; The Minstrel's Curse.
HENRY W. LONGFELLOW: The Luck of Edenhall; Remorse; The Castle by the Sea.
KATE FREILIGRATH-KROEKER: On the Death of a Child.
C.G. LELAND: The Broken Ring.
ALFRED BASKERVILLE: Morning Prayer; The Castle of Boncourt; Woman's Love and Life; The Spring of Love; etc.
BAYARD TAYLOR and LILIAN BAYARD TAYLOR KILIANI: The Women of Weinsberg; Barbarossa; the Grave of Alaric.
JOHN OXENFORD: The Sentinel.
LORD LINDSAY: The Pilgrim Before St. Just's.
BAYARD TAYLOR: He Came to Meet Me.
CONTENTS OF VOLUME V
The Romantic Philosophers—Fichte, Schelling, and Schleiermacher. By Frank Thilly
On the Social Element in Religion. Translated by George Ripley
Johann Gottlieb Fichte
The Destiny of Man. Translated by Frederic H. Hedge Addresses to the German Nation. Translated by Louis H. Gray
Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling
On the Relation of the Plastic Arts to Nature. Translated by J. Elliot Cabot
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Later German Romanticism. By George H. Danton
Ludwig Achim von Arnim and Clemens Brentano
The Boy's Magic Horn. Selections translated by Margarete Muensterberg. Were I a Little Bird The Mountaineer As Many as Sand-grains in the Sea The Swiss Deserter The Tailor in Hell The Reaper
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
Fairy Tales. Translated by Margaret Hunt. The Frog King, or Iron Henry The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids Rapunzel Haensel and Grethel The Fisherman and His Wife
Ernst Moritz Arndt
Song of the Fatherland. Translated by H.W. Dulcken Union Song. Translated by Margarete Muensterberg
Men and Knaves. Translated by C.T. Brooks Luetzow's Wild Band. Translated by Herman Montagu Donner Prayer During Battle. Translated by C.T. Brooks
Maximilian Gottfried von Schenkendorf
The Mother Tongue. Translated by Margarete Muensterberg Spring Greeting to the Fatherland. Translated by Margarete Muensterberg Freedom. Translated by Margarete Muensterberg
The Chapel. Translated by C.T. Brooks The Shepherd's Song on the Lord's Day. Translated by W.W. Skeat The Castle by the Sea. Translated by Henry W. Longfellow Song of the Mountain Boy. Translated by C.T. Brooks Departure. Translated by Percy MacKaye Farewell. Translated by Alfred Baskerville The Hostess' Daughter. Translated by W.W. Skeat The Good Comrade. Translated by W.W. Skeat The White Hart. Translated by H.W. Dulcken The Lost Church. Translated by W.H. Furness Charlemagne's Voyage. Translated by Margarete Muensterberg Free Art. Translated by Margarete Muensterberg Taillefer. Translated by A.I. du P. Coleman Suabian Legend. Translated by Margarete Muensterberg The Blind King. Translated by C.T. Brooks The Minstrel's Curse. Translated by W.H. Furness The Luck of Edenhall. Translated by Henry W. Longfellow On the Death of a Child. Translated by Kate Freiligrath-Kroeker
Joseph von Eichendorff
The Broken Ring. Translated by C.G. Leland Morning Prayer. Translated by Alfred Baskerville From the Life of a Good-for-nothing. Translated by Mrs. A.L.W. Wister
Adalbert von Chamisso
The Castle of Boncourt. Translated by Alfred Baskerville The Lion's Bride. Translated by A.I. du P. Coleman Woman's Love and Life. Translated by Alfred Baskerville The Women of Weinsberg. Translated by Bayard Taylor and Lilian Bayard Taylor Kiliani The Crucifix. Translated by A.I. du P. Coleman The Old Singer. Translated by A.I. du P. Coleman The Old Washerwoman. From the Foreign Quarterly The Wonderful History of Peter Schlemihl. Translated by Frederic H. Hedge
Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann
The Golden Pot. Translated by Frederic H. Hedge
Friedrich Baron de la Motte-Fouque
Selections from Undine. Translated by F.E. Bunnett
Cavalryman's Morning Song. Translated by Herman Montagu Donner The Sentinel. Translated by John Oxenford
Barbarossa. Translated by Bayard Taylor and Lilian Bayard Taylor Kiliani From My Childhood Days. Translated by A.I. du P. Coleman The Spring of Love. Translated by Alfred Baskerville He Came to Meet Me. Translated by Bayard Taylor The Invitation. Translated by A.I. du P. Coleman Murmur Not. Translated by A.I. du P. Coleman A Parable. Translated by A.I. du P. Coleman Evening Song. Translated by H.W. Dulcken Chidher. Translated by Margarete Muensterberg At Forty Years. Translated by A.I. du P. Coleman Before the Doors. Translated by H.W. Dulcken
August von Platen-Hallermund
The Pilgrim Before St. Just's. Translated by Lord Lindsay The Grave of Alaric. Translated by Bayard Taylor and Lilian Bayard Taylor Kiliani Remorse. Translated by Henry W. Longfellow Would I were Free as are My Dreams. Translated by Percy MacKaye Sonnet. Translated by Margarete Muensterberg
Heidelberg Friedrich Schleiermacher. By E. Hader The Three Hermits. By Moritz von Schwind Johann Gottlieb Fichte. By Bury Volunteers of 1813 before King Friedrich Wilhelm III in Breslau. By F.W. Scholtz Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling. By Carl Begas The Jungfrau. By Moritz von Schwind The Magic Horn. By Moritz von Schwind Ludwig Achim von Arnim. By Stroehling Clemens Brentano. By E. Linder The Reaper. By Walter Crane Wilhelm Grimm. By E. Hader Jacob Grimm. By E. Hader Haensel and Gretel. By Ludwig Richter Ernst Moritz Arndt. By Julius Roeting Theodor Koerner. By E. Hader Maximilian Gottfried von Schenkendorf Ludwig Uhland. By C. Jaeger The Villa by the Sea. By Arnold Boecklin Leaving at Dawn. By Moritz von Schwind Joseph von Eichendorff. By Franz Kugler Adalbert von Chamisso. By C. Jaeger The Wedding Journey. By Moritz von Schwind Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hofmann. By Hensel Friedrich Baron de la Motte-Fouque Wilhelm Hauff. By E. Hader The Sentinel. By Robert Haug Friedrich Rueckert. By C. Jaeger Memories of Youth. By Ludwig Richter August Graf von Platen-Hallermund The Morning Hour. By Moritz von Schwind
THE ROMANTIC PHILOSOPHERS—FICHTE, SCHELLING, AND SCHLEIERMACHER
By FRANK THILLY, PH.D., LL.D. Professor of Philosophy, Cornell University
The Enlightenment of the eighteenth century had implicit faith in the powers of human reason to reach the truth. With its logical-mathematical method it endeavored to illuminate every nook and corner of knowledge, to remove all obscurity, mystery, bigotry, and superstition, to find a reason for everything under the sun. Nature, religion, the State, law, morality, language, and art were brought under the searchlight of reason and reduced to simple and self-evident principles. Human institutions were measured according to their reasonableness; whatever was not rational had no raison d'etre; to demolish the natural and historical in order to make room for the rational became the practical ideal of the day. Enlightenment emphasized the worth and dignity of the human individual, it sought to deliver him from the slavery of authority and tradition, to make him self-reliant in thought and action, to obtain for him his natural rights, to secure his happiness and perfection in a world expressly made for him, and to guarantee the continuance of his personal existence in the life to come. In Germany this great movement found expression in a popular commonsense philosophy which proved the existence of God, freedom, and immortality, and conceived the universe as a rational order designed by an all-wise and all-good Creator for the benefit of man, his highest product; while other thinkers regarded Spinozism as the only rational system, indeed as the last word of all speculative metaphysics; for them logical thought necessarily led to pantheism and determinism. In France, after reaching its climax in Voltaire, it ended in materialism, atheism, and fatalism; and in England, where it had developed the empiricism of Locke, it came to grief in the scepticism of Hume. If we can know only our impressions, then rational theology, cosmology, and psychology are impossible, and it is futile to philosophize about God, the world, and the human soul. Consistently carried out, the logical-mathematical method seemed to land the intellect in Spinozism or in materialism—in either case to catch man in the causal machinery of nature. In this dilemma many were tempted to throw reason overboard as an instrument of ultimate truth, and to seek for certainty through other functions of the human soul—in feeling, faith, or mystical vision of some sort; the claims of the heart and will were urged against the proud pretensions of the intellect (Hamann, Herder, Jacobi). Another way of escape was found by substituting the organic conception of reality for the logical-mathematical view of the Aufklaerung; nature and life, poetry, art, language, political, social, and religious institutions are not creations of reason, not things made to order, but organic—products of evolution (Lessing, Herder, Winckelmann, Goethe). Man, himself, moreover, is not mere intellect, but a being in whom feelings, impulses, yearnings, will, are elements to be reckoned with. And reality is not as transparent as the Enlightenment assumed it to be; existence divided by reason leaves a remainder, as Goethe had put it.
It was Immanuel Kant who tried to arbitrate between the conflicting tendencies of his age. He was an Aufklaerer in so far as he brought reason itself to the bar of reason and sat in judgment upon its claims, and, likewise, in so far as he insisted on the objective validity of physics and mathematics. But he was as much opposed to the pretentiousness of dogmatic metaphysics as to the pusillanimity of scepticism and the Schwaermerei of mysticism. He repudiated the shallow proofs of the existence of God, freedom, and immortality no less emphatically than he rejected materialism with its atheism, fatalism, and hedonism. He tried to save everything worth saving—rational knowledge, modern science, the basal truths of the old metaphysics, and the most precious human values. For the scientific intelligence, so he held, nature and the self are absolutely determined; every physical occurrence and every human act are necessary links in a causal chain. But such knowledge is possible only in the field of phenomena (Erscheinungen); through sense-perception and the discursive understanding we cannot reach the inner core of reality; nor can we pierce the veil of appearances by means of intellectual intuitions, mystical visions, feeling, or faith, i.e., through the emotional and instinctive parts of our nature. It is the presence of the moral law or categorical imperative within us that points to a spiritual world beyond the phenomenal causal order and assures us of our freedom, immortality, and God. It is because we possess this deeper source of truth in practical reason that freedom and an ideal kingdom in which purpose reigns are vouchsafed to us, and that we can free ourselves from the mechanism of the natural order. It is moral truth that both sets us free and demonstrates our freedom, and that makes harmony possible between the mechanical theory of science and the teleological conception of philosophy. The scientific understanding would plunge us into determinism and agnosticism; from these, faith in the moral law alone can deliver us. In this sense Kant destroyed knowledge to make room for a rational faith in a supersensible world, to save the independence and dignity of the human self and the spiritual values of his people. In claiming a place for the autonomous personality in what appeared to be a mechanical universe, Kant gave voice to some of the deeper yearnings of the age. The German Enlightenment, the new humanism, mysticism, pietism, and the faith-philosophy were all interested in the human soul, and unwilling to sacrifice it to the demands of a rationalistic science or metaphysics. In seeking to rescue it, the great criticist, piloted by the moral law, steered his course between the rocks of rationalism, sentimentalism, and scepticism. It was his solution of the controversy between the head and the heart that influenced Fichte, Schelling, and Schleiermacher. They differed from Kant and among themselves in many respects, but they all glorified the spirit, Geist, as the living, active element of reality, and they all rejected the intellect as the source of ultimate truth. They followed him in his anti-intellectualism, but they did not avoid, as he did, the attractive doctrine of an inner intuition; according to them we can somehow grasp the supersensible in an inner experience which Fichte called intellectual, Schelling artistic, Schleiermacher religious. The bankruptcy of the intelligence was overcome in their systems by the discovery of a faculty that revealed to them the living, dynamic nature of the universe. They were all more or less influenced by the romantic currents of the times, seeking with Herder and Jacobi an approach to the heart of things other than through the categories of logic. Like Lessing and Goethe, they were also attracted to the pantheistic teaching of Spinoza, though rejecting its rigid determinism so far as it might affect the human will. They likewise accepted the idea of development which the leaders of German literature, Lessing, Herder, and Goethe, had already opposed to the unhistorical Aufklaerung, and which came to play such a prominent part in the great system of Hegel.
Johann Gottlieb Fichte was born in Ramenau, Oberlausitz, May 19, 1762, the son of a poor weaver. Through the generosity of a nobleman, the gifted lad was enabled to follow his intellectual bent; after attending the schools at Meissen and Schulpforta he studied theology at the universities of Jena, Leipzig, and Wittenberg with the purpose of entering the ministry. His poverty frequently compelled him to interrupt his studies by accepting private tutorships in families, so that he never succeeded in preparing him self for the examinations. In 1790 he became acquainted with Kant's philosophy, which two students had asked him to expound to them, and to which he now devoted himself with feverish zeal. It revolutionized his entire mode of thought and determined the course of his life. The anonymous publication of his book, Attempt at a Critique of all Revelation, in 1792, written from the Kantian point of view and mistaken at first for a work of the great criticist, won him fame and a professorship at Jena (1794). Here, in the intellectual centre of Germany, Fichte became the eloquent exponent of the new idealism, which aimed at the reform of life as well as of Wissenschaft; he not only taught philosophy, but preached it, as Kuno Fischer has aptly said. During the Jena period he laid the foundations for his "Science of Knowledge" (Wissenschaftslehre) which he presented in numerous works: The Conception of the Science of Knowledge, 1794; The Foundation of the Entire Science of Knowledge, 1794; The Foundation of Natural Rights, 1796; The System of Ethics, 1798—(all these translated by Kroeger); the two Introductions to the Science of Knowledge, 1797 (trans. by Kroeger in Journal of Speculative Philosophy). The appearance of an article Concerning the Ground of our Belief in a Divine World-Order, 1798, in which Fichte seemed to identify God with the moral world-order, brought down upon him the charge of atheism, against which he vigorously defended himself in his Appeal to the Public and a series of other writings. Full of indignation over the attitude which his government assumed in the matter, be offered his resignation (1799) and removed to Berlin, where he presented his philosophical notions in popular public lectures and in writings which were characterized by clearness, force, and moral earnestness rather than by their systematic form. There appeared: The Vocation of Man, 1800 (translated by Dr. Smith); A Sun-Clear Statement concerning the Nature of the New Philosophy, 1801 (trans. by Kroeger in Journal of Speculative Philosophy); The Nature of the Scholar, 1806 (trans. by Smith); Characteristics of the Present Age, 1806 (trans. by Smith); The Way towards the Blessed Life, 1806 (trans. by Smith). After the overthrow of Prussia by Napoleon, in 1806, Fichte fled from Berlin to Koenigsberg and Sweden, but returned when peace was declared in 1807, and delivered his celebrated Addresses to the German Nation, 1807-08, in which he sought to arouse the German people to a consciousness of their national mission and their duty even while the French army was still occupying the Prussian capital.
Fichte was appointed professor of philosophy (1810) in the new University of Berlin, for which he had been invited to construct a plan and in the establishment of which he took a lively interest. During the last period of his life he devoted himself to the development of his thoughts in systematic form and wrote a number of books; most of these were published after his death, which occurred January 27, 1814. Among them we mention: General Outline of the Science of Knowledge, 1810 (trans. by Smith); The Facts of Consciousness, 1813; Theory of the State, published 1820. The Complete Works, edited by his son, J.H. Fichte, appeared 1843-46. New editions of particular works are now appearing.
The world for Fichte is at bottom a spiritual order, the revelation of a self-determining ego or reason; hence the science of the ego, or reason, the Wissenschaftslehre, is the key to all knowledge, and we can understand nature and man only when we have caught the secret of the self-active ego. Philosophy must, therefore, be Wissenschaftslehre, for in it all natural and mental sciences find their ultimate roots; they can yield genuine knowledge only when and in so far as they are based on the principles of the Science of Knowledge—mere empirical sciences having no real cognitive value. The ego-principle itself, however, without which there could be no knowledge, cannot be grasped by the ordinary discursive understanding with its spatial, temporal, and causal categories. Kant is right: if we were limited to the scientific intellect, we could never rise above the conception of a phenomenal order absolutely ruled by the causal law. But there is another source of knowledge: in an act of inner vision or intellectual intuition, which is itself an act of freedom, we become conscious of the universal moral purpose; the law of duty or the categorical imperative commands us to be free persons. We cannot refuse to accept this law without abandoning ourselves as persons, without conceiving ourselves as things, or mere products of nature; the choice of one's philosophy, therefore, depends upon what kind of man one is—upon one's values, upon one's will. The type of man who is a slave of things, who cannot raise himself out of the causal mechanism, who is not free, will never be able to conceive himself otherwise than as a cog in a wheel. Fichte accepts the ego, or spirit, as the ultimate and absolute principle, because it alone can give our life worth and meaning. Thus he grounds his entire philosophy upon a moral imperative which presents itself to the ego in an inner vision. He also tells us that we can become immediately aware of the pure activity of the ego, of our free action, in a similar act of intellectual intuition. But we cannot know this free act unless we perform it ourselves; no one can understand the idealistic philosophy who is not free; hence philosophy begins with an act of freedom—im Anfang war die Tat.
In order that we may rise to free action, opposition is needed, and this we get in the spatial-temporal world of phenomena, or nature, which the ego creates for itself in order to have resistance to overcome. Fichte conceives of nature as "the material of our duty," as the obstacle against which the ego can exercise its freedom. There could be no free action without something to act upon, and there could be no purposive action without a world in which everything happens according to law; and such a causal world we have in our phenomenal order, which is the product of the absolute spiritual principle. By the ego Fichte did not mean the subjective ego, the particular individual self with all its idiosyncrasies, but the universal ego, the reason that manifests itself in all conscious individuals as universal and necessary truth. In his earlier period he did not define his thought very carefully, but in time the absolute ego came to be conceived as the principle of all life and consciousness, as universal life, and ultimately identified with God. His philosophy is, therefore, not subjective idealism, although it was so misinterpreted, but objective idealism; nature is not the creation of the particular individual ego, but the phenomenal expression, or reflection, in the subject of the universal spiritual principle.
Upon such an idealistic world-view Fichte based the ethical teachings through which he exercised a lasting influence upon the German people and the history of human thought. The universal ego is a moral ego, an ego with an ethical purpose, that realizes itself in nature and in man; it is, therefore, the vocation of man to obey the voice of duty and to free himself from the bondage of nature, to be a person, not a thing, to cooeperate in the realization of the eternal purpose which is working itself out in the history of humanity, to sacrifice himself for the ideal of freedom. Every individual has his particular place in which to labor for the social whole; how to do it, his conscience will tell him without fail. And so, too, the German people has its peculiar place in civilization, its unique contribution to make in the struggle of the human race for the development of free personality. It is Germany's mission to regain its nationality, in order that it may take the philosophical leadership in the work of civilization, and to establish a State based upon personal liberty, a veritable kingdom of justice, such as has never appeared on earth, which shall realize freedom based upon the equality of all who bear the human form.
The Fichtean philosophy holds the mirror up to its age. With the Enlightenment it glorifies reason, the free personality, nationality, humanity, civilization, and progress; in this regard it expresses the spirit of all modern philosophy. It goes beyond the Aufklaerung in emphasizing the living, moving, developing nature of reality; for it, life and consciousness constitute the essence of things, and universal life reveals itself in a progressive history of mankind. Moreover, the dynamic spiritual process cannot be comprehended by conceptual thought, by the categories of a rationalistic science and philosophy, but only by itself, by the living experience of a free agent. In the categorical imperative, and not in logical reasonings, the individual becomes aware of his destiny; in the sense of duty, the love of truth, loyalty to country, respect for the rights of man, and reverence for ideals, spirit speaks to spirit and man glimpses the eternal.
Among the elements in this idealism that appealed to the Romanticists were its anti-intellectualism, its intuition, the high value it placed upon the personality, its historical viewpoint, and its faith in the uniqueness of German culture. They welcomed the Wissenschaftslehre as a valuable ally, and exaggerated those features of it which seemed to chime with their own views. The ego which Fichte conceives as universal reason becomes for them the subjective empirical self, the unique personality, in which the unconscious, spontaneous, impulsive, instinctive phase constitutes the original element, the more extravagant among them transforming the rational moral ego into a romantic ego, an ego full of mystery and caprice, and even a lawless ego. Such an ego is read into nature; for, filled with occult magic forces, nature can be understood only by the sympathetic divining insight of the poetic genius. And so, too, authority and tradition, as representing the instinctive and historical side of social life, come into their own again.
Fichte's chief interest was centred upon the ego; nature he regarded as a product of the absolute ego in the individual consciousness, intended as a necessary obstacle for the free will. Without opposition the self cannot act; without overcoming resistance it cannot become free. In order to make free action possible, to enable the ego to realize its ends, nature must be what it is, an order ruled by the iron law of causality. This cheerless conception of nature—which, however, was not Fichte's last word on the subject, since he afterward came to conceive it as the revelation of universal life, or the expression of a pantheistic God—did not attract Romanticism. It was Schelling, the erstwhile follower and admirer of Fichte, who turned his attention to the philosophy of nature and so more thoroughly satisfied the romantic yearnings of the age.
Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling was born at Leonberg, Wuertemberg, January 27, 1775, the son of a learned clergyman and writer on theology. He was a precocious child and made rapid progress in his studies, entering the Theological Seminary at Tuebingen at the age of fifteen. Between the ages of nineteen and twenty-two he wrote a number of able treatises in the spirit of the new idealism, and was recognized as the most talented pupil of Fichte and his best interpreter. After the completion of his course at the University (1795), he became the tutor and companion of two young noblemen with whom he remained for two years (1796-98) at the University of Leipzig, during which time he devoted himself to the study of mathematics, physics, and medicine, and published a number of philosophical articles. In 1798 he received a call to a professorship at Jena, where Fichte, Schiller, Wilhelm Schlegel, and Hegel became his colleagues, and where he entered into friendly relations with the Romantic circle of which Caroline Schlegel, who afterward became his wife, was a shining light. This was the most productive period of his life; during the next few years he developed his own system of philosophy and gave to the world his most brilliant writings. In 1803 he accepted a professorship at Wuerzburg, but came into conflict with the authorities; in 1806 he went to Munich as a member of the Academy of Sciences and Director of the Academy of Fine Arts; in 1820 he moved to Erlangen; and in 1827 he returned to Munich as professor of philosophy at the newly-established University and as General Curator of the Scientific Collections of the State. He was called to Berlin in 1841 to help counteract the influence of the Hegelian Philosophy, but met with little success. He died in 1854.
The earlier writings of Schelling either reproduced the thoughts of the Wissenschaftslehre or developed them in the Fichtean spirit. Among those of the latter class we note: Ideas for a Philosophy of Nature, 1797; On the World-Soul, 1798; System of Transcendental Idealism, 1800. During the second period, in which the influence of Bruno and Spinoza is prominent, he works out his own philosophy of identity; at this time he publishes Bruno, or, Concerning the Natural and Divine Principle of Things, 1802, and Method of Academic Study, 1803. In the third period the philosophy of identity becomes the basis for a still higher system in which the influence of German theosophy (Jacob Boehme) is apparent; with the exception of Philosophy and Religion, 1804, the Treatise on Human Freedom, 1809, and a few others, the works of this period did not appear until after Schelling's death. His previous philosophy is now called by him "negative philosophy;" the higher or positive philosophy has as its aim the rational construction of the history of the universe, or the history of creation, upon the basis of the religious ideas of peoples; it is a philosophy of mythology and revelation. Translations of some of Schelling's works are to be found in the Journal of Speculative Philosophy, an American periodical founded by W.T. Harris, which devoted itself to the study of post-Kantian idealism. His Complete Works, edited by his son, appeared in 14 volumes, 1856. There is a revival of interest in his philosophy, and new editions of his books are now being published.
Like most philosophers of note, Schelling reckons with the various tendencies of his times. With idealism he interprets the universe as identical in essence with what we find in our innermost selves; it is at bottom a living dynamic process. If that is so, nature cannot be a merely externalized obstacle for the ego, nor a dead static spatial mechanical system; as the expression of an active spiritual principle there must be reason and purpose in it. But reason is not identified by Schelling with self-conscious intelligence, for with the faith-philosophies and Romanticism he takes it in a wider sense; in physical and organic nature it is a slumbering reason, an unconscious, instinctive, purposive force similar to the Leibnizian monad, Schopenhauer's will, and Bergson's elan vital. In this way the dualism between mechanism and teleology is reconciled. Nature is a teleological order, an evolution from the unconscious to the conscious; in man, the highest stage and the climax of history, nature becomes self-conscious. With this organic conception both Romanticists and many natural scientists of the age were in practical agreement; it was the view that had always appealed to Goethe—and Herder before him—and it gained for Schelling a large following. In his earlier system he regarded nature as a lower stage in the evolution of reason and sought to answer the problems: How does Nature become Consciousness or Ego? the problem of the Philosophy of Nature; and, How does Consciousness or the Ego become Nature? the problem of Transcendental Idealism. In his philosophy of identity, nature and mind are conceived as two different aspects of one and the same principle, which is both mind and nature, subject and object, ego and non-ego. All things are identical in essence but differentiated in the course of evolution. It was not inconsistent with these tenets that Schelling sought, in his last period, to discover the meaning of universal history in the obscure beginnings of mythology and revelation rather than in the lucid regions of an advanced civilization.
With the opponents of rationalism Schelling agrees that we cannot reach the inner meaning of reality, "the living, moving element in nature," through the scientific intelligence, but that we must envisage it in intuition. "What is described in concepts," he tells us, "is at rest; hence there can be concepts only of things and of that which is finite and sense-perceived. The notion of movement is not movement itself, and without intuition we should never know what motion is. Freedom, however, can be comprehended only by freedom, activity only by activity." Schelling, who is a poet as well as a philosopher, comes to regard this intuition or inner vision as an artistic intuition. In the products of art, subject and object, the ideal and the real, mind and nature, form (or purpose) and matter, are one; here the harmony aimed at by philosophy lies before our very eyes, and may be seen, touched, and heard. The creative artist creates like nature in realizing the ideal; hence, art must serve as the absolute model for the intuition of the world—it is the true and eternal organ of philosophy. Like the artistic genius, the philosopher must have the faculty for perceiving the harmony and identity in the universe; esthetic intuition is absolute knowing. Art aims to reveal to us the profoundest meaning of the world, which is the union of form and matter, of the ideal and the real; in art alone the striving of nature for harmony and identity is realized; the beautiful is the infinite represented and made perceivable in finite form; here mind and nature interpenetrate. In creative art the artist imitates the creative act of nature and becomes conscious of it; in esthetic intuition, or the perception of beauty, the philosophical genius discovers the secret of reality; nature herself is a poem and her secret is revealed in art. This philosophy is a far cry from the logical-mathematical method of the Aufklaerung; it is a protest against this, a protest in which the leaders of the new German literature, Herder, Goethe, Schiller, as well as the Romanticists, willingly joined. Goethe's entire view of nature, art, and life rested upon the teleological or organic conception; he, too, regarded the ability to peer into the heart of things—to see the whole in its parts, the ideal in the real, the universal in the particular, as the poet's and thinker's highest gift. He called it an apercu, "a revelation springing up in the inner man that gives him a hint of his likeness to God." It is this gift which Faust craves and Mephisto sneers at as die hohe Intuition.
Dass ich erkenne was die Welt Im innersten zusammenhaelt, Schau alle Wirkungskraft and Samen Und tu' nicht mehr in Worten kramen.
There was much that was fantastic in the Naturphilosophie and much a priori interpretation of nature that tended to withdraw the mind from the actualities of existence; it often dealt with bold assertions, analogies, and figures of speech, rather than with facts and proofs. But it had its merits; for it aroused an interest in nature and nature-study, it kept alive the philosophical interest in the outer world, the desire for unity, Einheitstrieb, which has remained a marked characteristic of German science from Alexander von Humboldt down to Robert Mayer, Helmholtz, Naegeli, Haeckel, Ostwald, Hertz, and Driesch. It opposed the one-sided mechanical method of science, and emphasized conceptions (the idea of development, the notion of the dynamic character of reality, pan-psychism, and vitalism) which are still moving the minds of men today, as is evidenced by the popularity of Henri Bergson, who, with our own William James, leads the contemporary school of philosophical Romanticists.
Fichte's chief contribution to German thought was the Wissenschaftslehre, Schelling's the Naturphilosophie, and Schleiermacher's the philosophy of religion. All these thinkers took account of the prevailing tendencies of the times—Aufklaerung, Kantian criticism, faith-philosophy, Romanticism, and Spinozism—and were more or less affected by them. Schleiermacher also came under the influence of Fichte, Schelling, and Greek idealism, particularly of Plato's philosophy; many were the sources from which he drew his material for the construction of a great system of Protestant theology that exercised a profound influence far beyond the boundaries of his country and won for him the title of the founder of the New Theology.
Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher, the son of a clergyman of the reformed church, was born at Breslau, November 21, 1768, and was educated at the Moravian schools at Niesky and Barby. Made sceptical by the newer criticism, he left the Moravian brotherhood and entered the University of Halle (1787), where he devoted himself with equal zeal to the study of theology and philosophy. After his ordination in 1794 he occupied various pulpits until 1803, when he was made a professor and university preacher at Halle. In 1806 he removed from Halle to Berlin, becoming the preacher of Trinity Church in 1809 and professor of theology at the newly founded University in 1810, positions which he filled with marked ability until his death, February 12, 1834. It was in Berlin that he came into friendly touch with the leaders of the Romantic school, Tieck, Friedrich Schlegel, and Novalis, but he did not allow himself to be carried away by their extravagances. He distinguished himself as a preacher, theologian, philosopher, and philologist, and, by his study of the sources of philosophy, added much to the knowledge of its history. Among the books published during his life-time are: Addresses on Religion, 1799; Monologues, 1800; Principles of a Criticism of Previous Systems of Ethics, 1803; translations of Plato's Dialogues, with introductions and notes, 1804-28; The Christian Faith, 1821-22. Complete Works, 1834-64.
Schleiermacher's conception of religion is opposed to the rationalistic theology of the eighteenth century, as well as to the Kantian moral theology which has remained popular in Germany to this day. For him religion is not science or philosophy; it does not consist in theoretical dogmas or rationalistic proofs; neither theories about religion nor virtuous conduct nor acts of worship are religion itself; nor is religion based upon a rational moral faith, as Kant had taught. He bravely took the part of Fichte in the atheism-controversy, when the great leaders of German culture, Kant, Herder, and even Goethe, abandoned him to his fate. He rejected the shallow proofs of the Aufklaerung, as well as the orthodox utilitarian view of God as the dispenser of rewards and punishments, and showed that the real foes of religion were the rational and practical persons who endeavored to suppress the yearning for the transcendent in man and to drive out all mystery in seeking to make everything clear to him. We cannot have conceptual knowledge of God, for conceptual thought is concerned with differences and opposites, whereas God is without such differences and oppositions: he is the absolute union or identity of thought and being. Religion is grounded in feeling, or divining intuition; in feeling, we come into direct relation with God; here the identity of thought and being is immediately experienced in self-consciousness, and this union is the divine element in us. Religion is the feeling of absolute dependence upon an absolute world-ground; it is the immediate consciousness that everything finite is infinite and exists through the infinite.
The conception of God as the unity of thought and being, and the idea of man's absolute dependence upon the world-ground, call to mind the pantheism of Spinoza. Schleiermacher seeks to tone this down by giving the world of things a relative independence; God and the world are inseparable, and yet must be distinguished. God is unity without plurality, the world plurality without unity; the world is spatial-temporal, while God is spaceless and timeless. He is, however, not conceived as a personality, but as the universal creative force, as the source of all life. The determinism implied in this world-view is softened by giving the individual a measure of freedom and independence. The particular individuals are subject to the law of the whole; but each self has its unique endowment or gifts, its individuality, and its freedom consists in the unfolding of its peculiar capacities. With Goethe, Schiller, and Romanticism, our philosopher rejects the rigoristic Kantian-Fichtean view of duty which, in his opinion, would suppress individuality and reduce all persons to a homogeneous mass; like them he regards the development of unique personalities as the highest moral task. "Every man should express humanity in his own peculiar way in a unique mixture of elements, in order that it may reveal itself in every possible form, and that everything may become real in the infinite fulness which can spring from its lap." "The same duties can be performed in many different ways. Different men may practise justice according to the same principles, each man keeping in view the general welfare and personal merit, but with different degrees of feeling, all the way from extreme coldness to the warmest sympathy." The command, therefore, is not merely: Be a person; but: Be a unique person, live your own individual life. There is no irreconcilable conflict between the natural law and the moral law, between impulse and reason. For the same reasons he defends the diversity of religions and the claims of personal religion; in each unique individual, religion should be left free to express itself in its own unique and intimate way. His ideal is the development of unique, novel, original personalities; and these are expressions of the divine, which rationalism cannot bring under either its theoretical or practical rubrics.
The individual cannot become conscious of, and prize, his own individuality without at the same time valuing uniqueness in others; the higher a value he sets upon his own self, the more the personalities of others must impress him. "Whoever desires to cultivate his individuality must have an appreciation of everything that he is not." "The sense of universality (der allgemeine Sinn) is the supreme condition of one's own perfection." Hence the ethical life is a life in society—a society of unique individuals who respect humanity in its uniqueness, in themselves and in others. "They are among themselves a chorus of friends. Every one knows that he too is a part and product of the universe, that in him too are revealed its divine life and action." "The more every one approximates the universe, the more he communicates himself to others, the more perfect unity will they all form; no one has a consciousness for himself alone, every one has, at the same time, that of the other; they are no longer only men, but mankind; rising above themselves and triumphing over themselves, they are on the road to true immortality and eternity." In the feeling of piety man recognizes that his desire to be a unique personality is in harmony with the action of the universe; hence that he can, ought, and must make the development of his uniqueness the goal, the strongest motive, and the highest good, and that he can surely realize what he is striving for, because the universe which created and determined him created him for that.
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ON THE SOCIAL ELEMENT IN RELIGION (1799) 
TRANSLATED BY GEORGE RIPLEY
Those among you who are accustomed to regard religion as a disease of the human mind, cherish also the habitual conviction that it is an evil more easily borne, even though not to be cured, so long as it is only insulated individuals here and there who are infected with it; but that the common danger is raised to the highest degree, and everything put at stake, as soon as a too close connection is permitted between many patients of this character. In the former case it is possible by a judicious treatment, as it were by an antiphlegistic regimen, and by a healthy spiritual atmosphere, to ward off the violence of the paroxysms; and if not entirely to conquer the exciting cause of the disease, to attenuate it to such a degree that it shall be almost innocuous. But in the latter case we must despair of every other means of cure, except that which may proceed from some internal beneficent operation of Nature. For the evil is attended with more alarming symptoms, and is more fatal in its effects, when the too great proximity of other infected persons feeds and aggravates it in every individual; the whole mass of vital air is then quickly poisoned by a few; the most vigorous frames are smitten with the contagion; all the channels in which the functions of life should go on are destroyed; all the juices of the system are decomposed; and, seized with a similar feverous delirium, the sound spiritual life and productions of whole ages and nations are involved in irremediable ruin. Hence your antipathy to the church, to every institution which is intended for the communication of religion, is always more prominent than that which you feel to religion itself; hence, also, priests, as the pillars and the most efficient members of such institutions, are, of all men, the objects of your greatest abomination.
Even those among you who hold a little more indulgent opinion with regard to religion, and deem it rather a singularity than a disorder of the mind, an insignificant rather than a dangerous phenomenon, cherish quite as unfavorable impressions of all social organization for its promotion. A slavish immolation of all that is free and peculiar, a system of lifeless mechanism and barren ceremonies—these, they imagine, are the inseparable consequences of every such institution and are the ingenious and elaborate work of men, who, with almost incredible success, have made a great merit of things which are either nothing in themselves, or which any other person was quite as capable of accomplishing as they. I should pour out my heart but very imperfectly before you, on a subject to which I attach the utmost importance, if I did not undertake to give you the correct point of view with regard to it. I need not here repeat how many of the perverted endeavors and melancholy fortunes of humanity you charge upon religious associations; this is clear as light, in a thousand utterances of your predominant individuals; nor will I stop to refute these accusations, one by one, in order to fix the evil upon other causes. Let us rather submit the whole conception of the church to a new examination, and from its central point, throughout its whole extent, erect it again upon a new basis, without regard to what it has actually been hitherto, or to what experience may suggest concerning it.
If religion exists at all, it must needs possess a social character; this is founded not only in the nature of man, but still more in the nature of religion. You will acknowledge that it indicates a state of disease, a signal perversion of nature, when an individual wishes to shut up within himself anything which he has produced and elaborated by his own efforts. It is the disposition of man to reveal and to communicate whatever is in him, in the indispensable relations and mutual dependence not only of practical life, but also of his spiritual being, by which he is connected with all others of his race; and the more powerfully he is wrought upon by anything, the more deeply it penetrates his inward nature, so much the stronger is this social impulse, even if we regard it only from the point of view of the universal endeavor to behold the emotions which we feel ourselves, as they are exhibited by others, so that we may obtain a proof from their example that our own experience is not beyond the sphere of humanity.
You perceive that I am not speaking here of the endeavor to make others similar to ourselves, nor of the conviction that what is exhibited in one is essential to all; it is merely my aim to ascertain the true relation between our individual life and the common nature of man, and clearly to set it forth. But the peculiar object of this desire for communication is unquestionably that in which man feels that he is originally passive, namely, his observations and emotions. He is here impelled by the eager wish to know whether the power which has produced them in him be not something foreign and unworthy. Hence we see man employed, from his very childhood, in communicating those observations and emotions; the conceptions of his understanding, concerning whose origin there can be no doubt, he allows to rest in his own mind, and still more easily he determines to refrain from the expression of his judgments; but whatever acts upon his senses, whatever awakens his feelings, of that he desires to obtain witnesses, with regard to that he longs for those who will sympathize with him. How should he keep to himself those very operations of the world upon his soul which are the most universal and comprehensive, which appear to him as of the most stupendous and resistless magnitude? How should he be willing to lock up within his own bosom those very emotions which impel him with the greatest power beyond himself, and in the indulgence of which he becomes conscious that he can never understand his own nature from himself alone? It will rather be his first endeavor, whenever a religious view gains clearness in his eye, or a pious feeling penetrates his soul, to direct the attention of others to the same object, and, as far as possible, to communicate to their hearts the elevated impulses of his own.
If, then, the religious man is urged by his nature to speak, it is the same nature which secures to him the certainty of hearers. There is no element of his being with which, at the same time, there is implanted in man such a lively feeling of his total inability to exhaust it by himself alone, as with that of religion. A sense of religion has no sooner dawned upon him, than he feels the infinity of its nature and the limitation of his own; he is conscious of embracing but a small portion of it; and that which he cannot immediately reach he wishes to perceive, as far as he can, from the representations of others who have experienced it themselves, and to enjoy it with them. Hence, he is anxious to observe every manifestation of it; and, seeking to supply his own deficiencies, he watches for every tone which he recognizes as proceeding from it. In this manner, mutual communications are instituted; in this manner, every one feels equally the need both of speaking and hearing.
But the imparting of religion is not to be sought in books, like that of intellectual conceptions and scientific knowledge. The pure impression of the original product is too far destroyed in this medium, which, in the same way that dark-colored objects absorb the greatest proportion of the rays of light, swallows up everything belonging to the pious emotions of the heart, which cannot be embraced in the insufficient symbols from which it is intended again to proceed. Nay, in the written communications of religious feeling, everything needs a double and triple representation; for that which originally represented, must be represented in its turn; and yet the effect on the whole man, in its complete unity, can only be imperfectly set forth by continued and varied reflections. It is only when religion is driven out from the society of the living, that it must conceal its manifold life under the dead letter.
Neither can this intercourse of heart with heart, on the deepest feelings of humanity, be carried on in common conversation. Many persons, who are filled with zeal for the interests of religion, have brought it as a reproach against the manners of our age that, while all other important subjects are so freely discussed in the intercourse of society, so little should be said concerning God and divine things. I would defend ourselves against this charge by maintaining that this circumstance, at least, does not indicate contempt or indifference toward religion, but a happy and very correct instinct. In the presence of joy and merriment, where earnestness itself must yield to raillery and wit, there can be no place for that which should be always surrounded with holy veneration and awe. Religious views, pious emotions, and serious considerations with regard to them—these we cannot throw out to one another in such small crumbs as the topics of a light conversation; and when the discourse turns upon sacred subjects, it would rather be a crime than a virtue to have an answer ready for every question, and a rejoinder for every remark. Hence, the religious sentiment retires from such circles as are too wide for it, to the more confidential intercourse of friendship, and to the mutual communications of love, where the eye and the countenance are more expressive than words, and where even a holy silence is understood. But it is impossible for divine things to be treated in the usual manner of society, where the conversation consists in striking flashes of thought, gaily and rapidly alternating with one another; a more elevated style is demanded for the communication of religion, and a different kind of society, which is devoted to this purpose, must hence be formed. It is becoming, indeed, to apply the whole richness and magnificence of human discourse to the loftiest subject which language can reach—not as if there were any adornment, with which religion could not dispense, but because it would show a frivolous and unholy disposition in its heralds if they did not bring together the most copious resources within their power and consecrate them all to religion, so that they might thus perhaps exhibit it in its appropriate greatness and dignity. Hence it is impossible, without the aid of poetry, to give utterance to the religious sentiment in any other than an oratorical manner, with all the skill and energy of language, and freely using, in addition, the service of all the arts which can contribute to flowing and impassioned discourse. He, therefore, whose heart is overflowing with religion, can open his mouth only before an auditory, where that which is presented, with such a wealth of preparation, can produce the most extended and manifold effects.
Would that I could present before you an image of the rich and luxurious life in this city of God, when its inhabitants come together each in the fulness of his own inspiration, which is ready to stream forth without constraint, but, at the same time, each is filled with a holy desire to receive and to appropriate to himself everything which others wish to bring before him. If one comes forward before the rest, it is not because he is entitled to this distinction, in virtue of an office or of a previous agreement, nor because pride and conceitedness have given him presumption; it is rather a free impulse of the spirit, a sense of the most heartfelt unity of each with all, a consciousness of entire equality, a mutual renunciation of all First and Last, of all the arrangements of earthly order. He comes forward in order to communicate to others, as an object of sympathizing contemplation, the deepest feelings of his soul while under the influence of God; to lead them to the domain of religion in which he breathes his native air; and to infect them with the contagion of his own holy emotions. He speaks forth the Divine which stirs his bosom, and in holy silence the assembly follows the inspiration of his words. Whether he unveils a secret mystery, or with prophetic confidence connects the future with the present; whether he strengthens old impressions by new examples, or is led by the lofty visions of his burning imagination into other regions of the world and into another order of things, the practised sense of his audience everywhere accompanies his own; and when he returns into himself from his wanderings through the kingdom of God, his own heart and that of each of his hearers are the common dwelling-place of the same emotion.
If, now, the agreement of his sentiments with that which they feel be announced to him, whether loudly or low, then are holy mysteries—not merely significant emblems, but, justly regarded, natural indications of a peculiar consciousness and peculiar feelings—invented and celebrated, a higher choir, as it were, which in its own lofty language answers to the appealing voice. But not only, so to speak; for as such a discourse is music without tune or measure, so there is also a music among the Holy, which may be called discourse without words, the most distinct and expressive utterance of the inward man. The Muse of Harmony, whose intimate relation with religion, although it has been for a long time spoken of and described, is yet recognized only by few, has always presented upon her altars the most perfect and magnificent productions of her selectest scholars in honor of religion. It is in sacred hymns and choirs, with which the words of the poet are connected only by slight and airy bands, that those feelings are breathed forth which precise language is unable to contain; and thus the tones of thought and emotion alternate with each other in mutual support, until all is satisfied and filled with the Holy and the Infinite. Of this character is the influence of religious men upon one another; such is their natural and eternal union. Do not take it ill of them that this heavenly bond—the most consummate product of the social nature of man, but to which it does not attain until it becomes conscious of its own high and peculiar significance—that this should be deemed of more value in their sight than the political union which you esteem so far above everything else, but which will nowhere ripen to manly beauty, and which, compared with the former, appears far more constrained than free, far more transitory than eternal.
But where now, in the description which I have given of the community of the pious, is that distinction between priests and laymen, which you are accustomed to designate as the source of so many evils? A false appearance has deceived you. This is not a distinction between persons, but only one of condition and performance. Every man is a priest, so far as he draws others around him, into the sphere which he has appropriated to himself and in which he professes to be a master. Every one is a layman, so far as he is guided by the counsel and experience of another, within the sphere of religion, where he is comparatively a stranger. There is not here the tyrannic aristocracy, which you describe with such hatred; but this society is a priestly people, a perfect republic, where every one is alternately ruler and citizen, where every one follows the same power in another which he feels also in himself, and with which he, too, governs others.
How then could the spirit of discord and division—which you regard as the inevitable consequence of all religious combinations—find a congenial home within this sphere? I see nothing but that All is One, and that all the differences which actually exist in religion, by means of this very union of the pious, are gently blended with one another. I have directed your attention to the different degrees of religiousness, I have pointed out to you the different modes of insight and the different directions in which the soul seeks for itself the supreme object of its pursuit. Do you imagine that this must needs give birth to sects, and thus destroy all free and reciprocal intercourse in religion? It is true, indeed, in contemplation, that everything which is separated into various parts and embraced in different divisions, must be opposed and contradictory to itself; but consider, I pray you, how Life is manifested in a great variety of forms, how the most hostile elements seek out one another here, and, for this very reason, what we separate in contemplation all flows together in life. They, to be sure, who on one of these points bear the greatest resemblance to one another, will present the strongest mutual attraction, but they cannot, on that account, compose an independent whole; for the degrees of this affinity imperceptibly diminish and increase, and in the midst of so many transitions there is no absolute repulsion, no total separation, even between the most discordant elements. Take which you will of these masses which have assumed an organic form according to their own inherent energy; if you do not forcibly divide them by a mechanical operation, no one will exhibit an absolutely distinct and homogeneous character, but the extreme points of each will be connected at the same time with those which display different properties and properly belong to another mass.
If the pious individuals, who stand on the same degree of a lower order, form a closer union with one another, there are yet some always included in the combination who have a presentiment of higher things. These are better understood by all who belong to a higher social class than they understand themselves; and there is a point of sympathy between the two which is concealed only from the latter. If those combine in whom one of the modes of insight, which I have described, is predominant, there will always be some among them who understand at least both of the modes, and since they, in some degree, belong to both, they form a connecting link between two spheres which would otherwise be separated. Thus the individual who is more inclined to cherish a religious connection between himself and nature, is yet by no means opposed, in the essentials of religion, to him who prefers to trace the footsteps of the Godhead in history; and there will never be wanting those who can pursue both paths with equal facility. Thus in whatever manner you divide the vast province of religion, you will always come back to the same point.
If unbounded universality of insight be the first and original supposition of religion, and hence also, most naturally, its fairest and ripest fruit, you perceive that it cannot be otherwise than that, in proportion as an individual advances in religion and the character of his piety becomes more pure, the whole religious world will more and more appear to him as an indivisible whole. The spirit of separation, in proportion as it insists upon a rigid division, is a proof of imperfection; the highest and most cultivated minds always perceive a universal connection, and, for the very reason that they perceive it, they also establish it. Since every one comes in contact only with his immediate neighbor, but, at the same time, has an immediate neighbor on all sides and in every direction, he is, in fact, indissolubly linked in with the whole. Mystics and Naturalists in religion, they to whom the Godhead is a personal Being, and they to whom it is not, they who have arrived at a systematic view of the Universe, and they who behold it only in its elements or only in obscure chaos—all, notwithstanding, should be only one, for one band surrounds them all and they can be totally separated only by a violent and arbitrary force; every specific combination is nothing but an integral part of the whole; its peculiar characteristics are almost evanescent, and are gradually lost in outlines that become more and more indistinct; and at least those who feel themselves thus united will always be the superior portion.
Whence, then, but through a total misunderstanding, have arisen that wild and disgraceful zeal for proselytism to a separate and peculiar form of religion, and that horrible expression—"no salvation except with us." As I have described to you the society of the pious, and as it must needs be according to its intrinsic nature, it aims merely at reciprocal communication, and subsists only between those who are already in possession of religion, of whatever character it may be; how then can it be its vocation to change the sentiments of those who now acknowledge a definite system, or to introduce and consecrate those who are totally destitute of one? The religion of this society, as such, consists only in the religion of all the pious taken together, as each one beholds it in the rest—it is Infinite; no single individual can embrace it entirely, since so far as it is individual it ceases to be one, and hence no man can attain such elevation and completeness as to raise himself to its level. If any one, then, has chosen a part in it for himself, whatever it may be, were it not an absurd procedure for society to wish to deprive him of that which is adapted to his nature—since it ought to comprise this also within its limits, and hence some one must needs possess it?
And to what end should it desire to cultivate those who are yet strangers to religion? Its own especial characteristic—the Infinite Whole—of course it cannot impart to them; and the communication of any specific element cannot be accomplished by the Whole, but only by individuals. But perhaps then, the Universal, the Indeterminate, which might be presented, when we seek that which is common to all the members? Yet you are aware that, as a general rule, nothing can be given or communicated, in the form of the Universal and Indeterminate, for specific object and precise form are requisite for this purpose; otherwise, in fact, that which is presented would not be a reality but a nullity. Such a society, accordingly, can never find a measure or rule for this undertaking.
And how could it so far abandon its sphere as to engage in this enterprise? The need on which it is founded, the essential principle of religious sociability, points to no such purpose. Individuals unite with one another and compose a Whole; the Whole rests in itself, and needs not to strive for anything beyond. Hence, whatever is accomplished in this way for religion is the private affair of the individual for himself, and, if I may say so, more in his relations out of the church than in it. Compelled to descend to the low grounds of life from the circle of religious communion, where the mutual existence and life in God afford him the most elevated enjoyment and where his spirit, penetrated with holy feelings, soars to the highest summit of consciousness, it is his consolation that he can connect everything with which he must there be employed, with that which always retains the deepest significance in his heart. As he descends from such lofty regions to those whose whole endeavor and pursuit are limited to earth, he easily believes—and you must pardon him the feeling—that he has passed from intercourse with Gods and Muses to a race of coarse barbarians. He feels like a steward of religion among the unbelieving, a herald of piety among the savages; he hopes, like an Orpheus or an Amphion, to charm the multitude with his heavenly tones; he presents himself among them, like a priestly form, clearly and brightly exhibiting the lofty, spiritual sense which fills his soul, in all his actions and in the whole compass of his Being. If the contemplation of the Holy and the Godlike awakens a kindred emotion in them, how joyfully does he cherish the first presages of religion in a new heart, as a delightful pledge of its growth even in a harsh and foreign clime! With what triumph does he bear the neophyte with him to the exalted assembly! This activity for the promotion of religion is only the pious yearning of the stranger after his home, the endeavor to carry his Fatherland with him in all his wanderings, and everywhere to find again its laws and customs as the highest and most beautiful elements of his life; but the Fatherland itself, happy in its own resources, perfectly sufficient for its own wants, knows no such endeavor.
JOHANN GOTTLIEB FICHTE
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THE DESTINY OF MAN (1800)
ADAPTED FROM THE TRANSLATION BY FREDERIC H. HEDGE
BOOK III: FAITH
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"Not merely to know, but to act according to thy knowledge, is thy destination." So says the voice which cries to me aloud from my innermost soul, so soon as I collect and give heed to myself for a moment. "Not idly to inspect and contemplate thyself, nor to brood over devout sensations—no! thou existest to act. Thine actions, and only thine actions, determine thy worth."
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Shall I refuse obedience to that inward voice? I will not do it. I will choose voluntarily the destination which the impulse imputes to me. And I will grasp, together with this determination, the thought of its reality and truth, and of the reality of all that it presupposes. I will hold to the viewpoint of natural thinking, which this impulse assigns to me, and renounce all those morbid speculations and refinements of the understanding which alone could make me doubt its truth. I understand thee now, sublime Spirit! I have found the organ with which I grasp this reality, and with it, probably, all other reality. Knowledge is not that organ. No knowledge can prove and demonstrate itself. Every knowledge presupposes a higher as its foundation, and this upward process has no end. It is Faith, that voluntary reposing in the view which naturally presents itself, because it is the only one by which we can fulfil our destination—this it is that first gives assent to knowledge, and exalts to certainty and conviction what might otherwise be mere illusion. It is not knowledge, but a determination of the will to let knowledge pass for valid. I hold fast, then, forever to this expression. It is not a mere difference of terms, but a real deep-grounded distinction, exercising a very important influence on my whole mental disposition. All my conviction is only faith, and is derived from a disposition of the mind, not from the understanding.
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There is only one point to which I have to direct incessantly all my thoughts: What I must do, and how I shall most effectually accomplish what is required of me. All my thinking must have reference to my doing—must be considered as means, however remote, to this end. Otherwise, it is an empty, aimless sport, a waste of time and power, and perversion of a noble faculty which was given me for a very different purpose.
I may hope, I may promise myself with certainty, that when I think after this manner, my thinking shall be attended with practical results. Nature, in which I am to act, is not a foreign being, created without regard to me, into which I can never penetrate. It is fashioned by the laws of my own thought, and must surely coincide with them. It must be everywhere transparent, cognizable, permeable to me, in its innermost recesses. Everywhere it expresses nothing but relations and references of myself to myself; and as certainly as I may hope to know myself, so certainly I may promise myself that I shall be able to explore it. Let me but seek what I have to seek, and I shall find. Let me but inquire whereof I have to inquire, and I shall receive answer.
That voice in my interior, which I believe, and for the sake of which I believe all else that I believe, commands me not merely to act in the abstract. That is impossible. All these general propositions are formed only by my voluntary attention and reflection directed to various facts; but they do not express a single fact of themselves. This voice of my conscience prescribes to me with certainty, in each particular situation of my existence, what I must do and what I must avoid in that situation. It accompanies me, if I will but listen to it with attention, through all the events of my life, and never refuses its reward where I am called to act. It establishes immediate conviction, and irresistibly compels my assent. It is impossible for me to contend against it.
To harken to that voice, honestly and dispassionately, without fear and without useless speculation to obey it—this is my sole destination, this the whole aim of my existence. My life ceases to be an empty sport, without truth or meaning. There is something to be done, simply because it must be done—namely, that which conscience demands of me who find myself in this particular position. I exist solely in order that it may be fulfilled. To perceive it, I have understanding; to do it, power.
Through these commandments of conscience alone come truth and reality into my conceptions. I cannot refuse attention and obedience to them without renouncing my destination. I cannot, therefore, withhold my belief in the reality which they bring before me, without, at the same time, denying my destination. It is absolutely true, without further examination and demonstration—it is the first truth and the foundation of all other truth and certainty—that I must obey that voice. Consequently, according to this way of thinking, everything becomes true and real for me which the possibility of such obedience presupposes.
There hover before me phenomena in space, to which I transfer the idea of my own being. I represent them to myself as beings of my own kind. Consistent speculation has taught me or will teach me that these supposed rational beings, without me, are only products of my own conception; that I am necessitated, once for all, by laws of thought which can be shown to exist, to represent the idea of myself out of myself, and that, according to the same laws, this idea can be transferred only to certain definite perceptions. But the voice of my conscience cries to me: "Whatever these beings may be in and for themselves, thou shalt treat them as subsisting for themselves, as free, self-existing beings, entirely independent of thyself. Take it for granted that they are capable of proposing to themselves aims independently of thee, by their own power. Never disturb the execution of these, their designs, but further them rather, with all thy might. Respect their liberty. Embrace with love their objects as thine own." So must I act. And to such action shall, will, and must all my thinking be directed, if I have but formed the purpose to obey the voice of my conscience. Accordingly, I shall ever consider those beings as beings subsisting for themselves, and forming and accomplishing aims independently of me. From this viewpoint, I cannot consider them in any other light; and the above-mentioned speculation will vanish like an empty dream before my eyes. "I think of them as beings of my own species," said I just now; but strictly, it is not a thought by which they are first represented to me as such. It is the voice of conscience, the command: "Here restrain thy liberty, here suppose and respect foreign aims." This it is which is first translated into the thought: "Here is surely and truly, subsisting of itself, a being like me." To consider them otherwise, I must first deny the voice of my conscience in life and forget it in speculation.
There hover before me other phenomena which I do not consider as beings like myself, but as irrational objects. Speculation finds it easy to show how the conception of such objects develops itself purely from my power of conception and its necessary modes of action. But I comprehend these same things also through need and craving and enjoyment. It is not the conception—no, it is hunger and thirst and the satisfaction of these that makes anything food and drink to me. Of course, I am constrained to believe in the reality of that which threatens my sensuous existence, or which alone can preserve it. Conscience comes in, at once hallowing and limiting this impulse of Nature. "Thou shalt preserve, exercise and strengthen thyself, and thy sensuous power; for this sensuous power forms a part of the calculation, in the plan of reason. But thou canst preserve it only by a suitable use, agreeable to the peculiar interior laws of such matters. And, besides thyself, there are also others like thee, whose powers are calculated upon like thine own, and who can be preserved only in the same way. Allow to them the same use of their portion which it is granted thee to make of thine own portion. Respect what comes to them, as their property. Use what comes to thee in a suitable manner, as thy property." So must I act, and I must think conformably to such action. Accordingly, I am necessitated to regard these things as standing under their own natural laws, independent of me, but which I am capable of knowing; that is, to ascribe to them an existence independent of myself. I am constrained to believe in such laws, and it becomes my business to ascertain them; and empty speculation vanishes like mist when the warming sun appears.
In short, there is for me, in general, no pure, naked existence, with which I have no concern, and which I contemplate solely for the sake of contemplation. Whatever exists for me, exists only by virtue of its relation to me. But there is everywhere but one relation to me possible, and all the rest are but varieties of this, i.e., my destination as a moral agent. My world is the object and sphere of my duties, and absolutely nothing else. There is no other world, no other attributes of my world, for me. My collective capacity and all finite capacity is insufficient to comprehend any other. Everything which exists for me forces its existence and its reality upon me, solely by means of this relation; and only by means of this relation do I grasp it. There is utterly wanting in me an organ for any other existence.
To the question whether then in fact such a world exists as I represent to myself, I can answer nothing certain, nothing which is raised above all doubt, but this: I have assuredly and truly these definite duties which represent themselves to me as duties toward such and such persons, concerning such and such objects. These definite duties I cannot represent to myself otherwise, nor can I execute them otherwise, than as lying within the sphere of such a world as I conceive. Even he who has never thought of his moral destination, if any such there could be, or who, if he has thought about it at all, has never entertained the slightest purpose of ever, in the indefinite future, fulfilling it—even he derives his world of the senses and his belief in the reality of such a world no otherwise than from his idea of a moral world. If he does not comprehend it through the idea of his duties, he certainly does so through the requisition of his rights. What he does not require of himself he yet requires of others, in relation to himself—that they treat him with care and consideration, agreeably to his nature, not as an irrational thing, but as a free and self-subsisting being. And so he is constrained, in order that they may comply with this demand, to think of them also as rational, free, self-subsisting, and independent of the mere force of Nature. And even though he should never propose to himself any other aim in the use and fruition of the objects which surround him than that of enjoying them, he still demands this enjoyment as a right, of which others must leave him in undisturbed possession. Accordingly, he comprehends even the irrational world of the senses through a moral idea. No one who lives a conscious life can renounce these claims to be respected as rational and self-subsisting. And with these claims at least there is connected in his soul a seriousness, an abandonment of doubt, a belief in a reality, if not with the acknowledgment of a moral law in his innermost being. Do but assail him who denies his own moral destination and your existence and the existence of a corporeal world, except in the way of experiment, to try what speculation can do—assail him actively, carry his principles into life, and act as if he either did not exist, or as if he were a piece of rude matter, and he will soon forget the joke; he will become seriously angry with you, he will seriously reprove you for treating him so, and maintain that you ought not and must not do so to him; and, in this way, he will practically admit that you really possess the power of acting upon him, that he exists, that you exist, and that there exists a medium through which you act upon him; and that you have at least duties toward him.
Hence it is not the action of supposed objects without us, which exist for us only and for which we exist only in so far as we already know of them; just as little is it an empty fashioning, by means of our imagination and our thinking, whose products would appear to us as such, as empty pictures; it is not these, but the necessary faith in our liberty and our power, in our veritable action and in definite laws of human action, which serves as the foundation of all consciousness of a reality without us, a consciousness which is itself but a belief, since it rests on a belief, but one which follows necessarily from that belief. We are compelled to assume that we act in general, and that we ought to act in a certain way; we are compelled to assume a certain sphere of such action—this sphere being the truly and actually existing world as we find it. And vice versa, this world is absolutely nothing but that sphere, and by no means extends beyond it. The consciousness of the actual world proceeds from the necessity of action, and not the reverse—i.e., the necessity of action from the consciousness of such a world. The necessity is first not the consciousness; that is derived. We do not act because we agnize, but we agnize because we are destined to act. Practical reason is the root of all reason. The laws of action for rational beings are immediately certain; their world is certain only because they are certain. Were we to renounce the former, the world, and, with it, ourselves, we should sink into absolute nothing. We raise ourselves out of this nothing, and sustain ourselves above this nothing, solely by means of our morality.
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When I contemplate the world as it is, independently of any command, there manifests itself in my interior the wish, the longing, no! not a longing merely—the absolute demand for a better world. I cast a glance at the relations of men to one another and to Nature, at the weakness of their powers, at the strength of their appetites and passions. It cries to me irresistibly from my innermost soul: "Thus it cannot possibly be destined always to remain. It must, O it must all become other and better!"
I can in no wise imagine to myself the present condition of man as that which is designed to endure. I cannot imagine it to be his whole and final destination. If so, then would everything be dream and delusion, and it would not be worth the trouble to have lived and to have taken part in this ever-recurring, aimless, and unmeaning game. Only so far as I can regard this condition as the means of something better, as a point of transition to a higher and more perfect, does it acquire any value for me. Not on its own account, but on account of something better for which it prepares the way, can I bear it, honor it, and joyfully fulfil my part in it. My mind can find no place, nor rest a moment, in the present; it is irresistibly repelled by it. My whole life streams irrepressibly on toward the future and better.
Am I only to eat and to drink that I may hunger and thirst again, and again eat and drink, until the grave, yawning beneath my feet, swallows me up, and I myself spring up as food from the ground? Am I to beget beings like myself, that they also may eat and drink and die, and leave behind them beings like themselves, who shall do the same that I have done? To what purpose this circle which perpetually returns into itself; this game forever recommencing, after the same manner, in which everything is born but to perish, and perishes but to be born again as it was; this monster which forever devours itself that it may produce itself again, and which produces itself that it may again devour itself?
Never can this be the destination of my being and of all being. There must be something which exists because it has been brought forth, and which now remains and can never be brought forth again after it has been brought forth once. And this, that is permanent, must beget itself amid the mutations of the perishing, and continue amid those mutations, and be borne along unhurt upon the waves of time.
As yet our race wrings with difficulty its sustenance and its continuance from reluctant Nature. As yet the larger portion of mankind are bowed down their whole life long by hard labor, to procure sustenance for themselves and the few who think for them. Immortal spirits are compelled to fix all their thinking and scheming, and all their efforts, on the soil which bears them nourishment. It often comes to pass as yet, that when the laborer has ended, and promises himself, for his pains, the continuance of his own existence and of those pains, then hostile elements destroy in a moment what he had been slowly and carefully preparing for years, and delivers up the industrious painstaking man, without any fault of his own, to hunger and misery. It often comes to pass as yet, that inundations, storm-winds, volcanoes, desolate whole countries, and mingle works which bear the impress of a rational mind, as well as their authors, with the wild chaos of death and destruction. Diseases still hurry men into a premature grave, men in the bloom of their powers, and children whose existence passes away without fruit or result. The pestilence still stalks through blooming states, leaves the few who escape it bereaved and alone, deprived of the accustomed aid of their companions, and does all in its power to give back to the wilderness the land which the industry of man had already conquered for its own.
So it is, but so it cannot surely have been intended always to remain. No work which bears the impress of reason, and which was undertaken for the purpose of extending the dominion of reason, can be utterly lost in the progress of the times. The sacrifices which the irregular violence of Nature draws from reason must at least weary, satisfy, and reconcile that violence. The force which has caused injury by acting without rule cannot be intended to do so in that way any longer, it cannot be destined to renew itself; it must be used up, from this time forth and forever, by that one outbreak. All those outbreaks of rude force, before which human power vanishes into nothing—those desolating hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes, can be nothing else but the final struggle of the wild mass against the lawfully progressive, life-giving, systematic course to which it is compelled, contrary to its own impulse. They can be nothing but the last concussive strokes in the formation of our globe, now about to perfect itself. That opposition must gradually become weaker and at last exhausted, since, in the lawful course of things, there can be nothing that should renew its power. That formation must at last be perfected, and our destined abode complete. Nature must gradually come into a condition in which we can count with certainty upon her equal step, and in which her power shall keep unaltered a definite relation with that power which is destined to govern it, that is, the human. So far as this relation already exists and the systematic development of Nature has gained firm footing, the workmanship of man, by its mere existence and its effects, independent of any design on the part of the author, is destined to react upon Nature and to represent in her a new and life-giving principle. Cultivated lands are to quicken and mitigate the sluggish, hostile atmosphere of the eternal forests, wildernesses, and morasses. Well-ordered and diversified culture is to diffuse through the air a new principle of life and fructification, and the sun to send forth its most animating beams into that atmosphere which is breathed by a healthy, industrious, and ingenious people. Science, awakened, at first, by the pressure of necessity, shall hereafter penetrate deliberately and calmly into the unchangeable laws of Nature, overlook her whole power, and learn to calculate her possible developments—shall form for itself a new Nature in idea, attach itself closely to the living and active, and follow hard upon her footsteps. And all knowledge which reason has wrung from Nature shall be preserved in the course of the times and become the foundation of further knowledge, for the common understanding of our race. Thus shall Nature become ever more transparent and penetrable to human perception, even to its innermost secrets. And human power, enlightened and fortified with its inventions, shall rule her with ease and peacefully maintain the conquest once effected. By degrees, there shall be needed no greater outlay of mechanical labor than the human body requires for its development, cultivation and health. And this labor shall cease to be a burden; for the rational being is not destined to be a bearer of burdens.