A Brief History of Modern Philosophy/Book 6
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Sixth Book: The Philosophy of Romanticism.
THE PHILOSOPHY OF ROMANTICISM.
The history of philosophy, from the Renaissance onward, has revealed the fact that philosophy is not an exclusive world. It was in fact the new theory of nature and the new methods of natural science that, in all essential respects, determined the problems and the character of modern philosophy; to these must be added the new humanistic movements. And later on Kant was not only influenced by the opposition between Wolff and Hume, but likewise by the Newtonian natural science and Rousseau's problem of civilization. The development which followed during the first decades after Kant furnishes a new type of thought,—the romantic tendency of thought at the transition to the nineteenth century exercised a profound, in part even a fatal, influence on philosophy. Philosophy here reveals an undue susceptibility to the influences of other departments of thought. Otherwise the philosophy of Romanticism would have been unable to supplant the critical philosophy.
Kant had indeed aroused a profound enthusiasm, and he had a large following in his own age. But this was largely due to the seriousness and the depth of his fundamental principles of ethics. The new age was consciously opposed to the eighteenth century, the period of the Enlightenment, to which Kant, despite his profounder conception, nevertheless belonged. It now became necessary to institute a profound investigation of nature and history directly. Men were anxious to enjoy spiritual life in its unity and totality. Science, poetry and religion were no longer to be regarded as distinct or even hostile forces, but merely as different forms of a single life. Novalis proclaimed this gospel with fervent zeal. All antitheses must be transcended. Kant’s philosophy abounded in antitheses; the profound antithesis between thought and being especially now became a rock of offense. Kant's suggestion of a unity at the basis of all antitheses was taken as the starting-point. According to Kant this conception represented one of the boundaries of thought; but now this was to furnish the starting-point whence all else is derived. Reinhold had already made the start. He proposed the ideal of knowledge assumed by Romanticism. No one inquired whether such an ideal were logically tenable: does not every inference in fact presuppose at least two premises! The intensity of their enthusiasm led men to believe that they could dispense with the traditional methods of thought and of science. As Goethe's Faust (this work appeared just at this time and the Romanticists were the first to applaud it), dissatisfied with everything which previously passed for knowledge, resorted to magic, in the hope of thus attaining an explanation of "the secret which maintains the universe in harmony," so the philosophers of Romanticism believed it possible to discover a new avenue to absolute truth. They resorted to intellectual magic. An attempt was made to sever the relationship which had existed between natural science and philosophy since the days of Bruno and Descartes. Despite the intense enthusiasm, the sublime sentiment and the profound ideas of the Romantic school, it nevertheless represents a vain attempt to discover the Philosopher's Stone. But just as the ancient Alchemists were not only energetic students, but in their effort to produce gold likewise acquired important ideas and experiences, so the significance of German idealism must not be estimated alone by the results of its keen speculation. The fact is indeed patent, that profound ideas neither stand nor fall with the demonstration which men seek to give them. The kernel may persist even though the husk decays. The persistence of values is no more identical with the persistence of certain special forms in the realm of thought than in the realm of energy.
A. The Speculative Systems
1. John Gottlieb Fichte (1762-1814), the son of a Saxon peasant, took an enthusiastic interest, during his school period, in the spiritual struggles of Lessing, and later, after struggling with extreme poverty during his university life, was led to philosophy by the writings of Kant. His service at the University of Jena met with great success, not only because of his intellectual keenness and his eloquence, but likewise on account of the impression made by his moral earnestness. Having been dismissed on account of his religious views he went to Berlin, where he afterwards received an appointment. He takes first rank among those who, in the disastrous period following the battle of Jena, labored for the preservation of the sentiment of patriotism and of hope, especially by his Addresses to the German Nation, delivered during the winter of 1808-9, while Berlin was still in the hands of the French.
a. Fichte’s philosophy is inspired by the criticism of the Kantian theory of the thing-in-itself in which Jacobi, Schulze and Maimon were already engaged. The motives at the root of Fichte’s reflections however were not purely theoretical. Action constituted his profoundest motive from the very beginning, and he even regarded thought as action. It was perfectly consistent therefore for him to say, in the clearest exposition of his doctrine which he has given (Erste Einleitung in die Wissenschaftslehre, 1797), that a man’s philosophy depends primarily on his character. Fichte contends that there are two fundamental divisions in philosophy: Idealism, which takes the subject, the ego, as its starting-point, and Dogmatism, which takes the object, the non-ego, as its starting-point. This follows from the nature of the problem of philosophy, i.e. the explanation of experience. But experience consists of the knowledge of objects. And this admits of but two alternatives, either to explain objects (things) from the standpoint of knowledge (the ego), or knowledge (the ego) from the standpoint of objects (things). Persons of an active and independent nature will be disposed to choose the former method, whilst those of a passive and dependent nature will adopt the latter method. But even then idealism, from the purely theoretical point of view, has the advantage of dogmatism (which is liable, either as Materialism, Spiritualism or Spinozism, in all three cases to resolve itself into a theory of substance or things). Because it is impossible to deduce knowledge, thought, the ego, from things (i.e. regarded either as material, spiritual or neutral). But idealism makes knowledge, thought, the ego, its point of departure and then proceeds to show how experience, i.e. certain definite forms of knowledge, arises. The ego can contain nothing (known or thought) which is not posited by the activity of the ego.
In his chief work (Grundlage der gesammten Wissenschaftslehre, 1794) Fichte starts with the activity of the ego. The non-ego exists for us only by virtue of an activity of the ego; but the ego posits itself. Every idea involves this presupposition in a peculiar and special form. But the only method of discovering it is by abstract reflection, for immediate consciousness reveals nothing more than its products. We are never directly conscious of our volitions and activities; we take note of our limitations, but never of the thing which is thus limited. Free, unconstrained activity, which transcends the antitheses between subject and object, can only be conceived through a higher order of comprehension, through intellectual intuition. That is to say, it transcends every concept because every concept presupposes an antithesis.
But it is impossible to deduce definite, particular objects from this free activity, i.e. from the pure ego. In addition to the presupposition of self-activity by means of which the ego posits itself, we must therefore postulate a second presupposition: The ego posits a non-ego. Both propositions, notwithstanding their opposition, must be combined, and thus by thesis and antithesis we arrive at synthesis; so that our third proposition must be stated thus: The ego posits a limited ego in antithesis to a limited non-ego. This finally brings us to the level of experience. The limited ego is the empirical ego, which is constantly placed in antithesis to objects and must constantly overcome limitations.
Fichte moreover seeks to deduce the universal forms of experience (the Kantian intuitional forms and categories) from these fundamental principles. Thus, e.g. time is a necessary form whenever several acts of the ego are to be arranged in a definite order with reference to each other, and causality comes under the third fundamental principle (concerning the mutual limitation, i.e. the reciprocity between the ego and the non-ego). All such forms are forms of the activity of the pure, unlimited ego, which forms the basis of the empirical antithesis between ego and non-ego, but which can never manifest itself in experience.
But how is it possible to deduce this antithesis of an empirical ego and a non-ego from the pure ego? How does it happen that this unlimited activity is resisted and broken?—These questions are theoretically unanswerable according to Fichte. Whence this opposition, whence this impetus comes we do not know, but it is necessary to the explanation of actual (empirical) consciousness. And the limitation, as a matter of fact, does not even concern us theoretically, it pertains only to the practical reason! “An object possesses independent reality only in so far as it refers to the practical capacity of the ego.” The only explanation of the existence of a world of non-egos is that we are intended to act: activity and effort as a matter of fact presuppose opposition (resistance) and limitation. Our task consists in realizing our liberty and independence through the successive transcendence of limitations. But the ultimate presupposition forever remains that pure activity which is revealed in us under the form of an impulse to act for action’s sake. This presupposition furnishes the only possible explanation of the unqualified obligation which Kant expressed in the categorical imperative.
This complete subordination of the theoretical to the practical resulted in a complete refutation of fatalism. For the dependence of the whole system of our ideas rests far more profoundly on our volition than our activity on our ideas.
b. The empirical ego is dependent even as limited. It experiences an impulse to transcend the objects in order to transform them into means of pleasure. Activity reveals itself at first as mere natural impulse. But the impulse to act for action’s sake can never be satisfied by a finite object, and hence consciousness will forever strive to transcend what is merely given. Man gradually learns to regard things merely as means towards his own self-development. It follows therefore that the highest moral obligation is expressed in the law: realize the pure ego! And this realization comes to pass by virtue of the fact that each particular act belongs to a series which leads to perfect spiritual liberty. (Sittenlehre, 1798.)
Radical evil consists of the indolence which holds fast to existing conditions and resists progress. And moreover it leads to cowardice and treachery. The first impulse in the development towards liberty comes from men in whom natural impulse and liberty are in equilibrium, and who are consequently regarded as types. The spontaneous respect and admiration accorded to such typical characters is the primitive form of moral affection. The man who is still incapable of self-respect may nevertheless perhaps respect superior natures. Fichte elaborated this idea in considerable detail in his famous Reden an die deutsche Nation (1808) as the foundation of a theory of national education. The spontaneous adoption or creation of ideal types forms the middle term between passive admiration and perfect liberty.
According to Fichte the religious consciousness is really implied in the moral consciousness. For the very fact that I strive to realize my highest ideal assumes at the same time that the realization of this ideal by my own activity is possible. I must therefore presuppose a world-order in which conduct based on moral sentiment can be construed consistently. Religion furnishes an immediate validation of the confidence in such a world-order. It is not necessary that I should collect the experiences which reveal my relation to this world-order and formulate from them the concept of that unique being which I call God; and ascribing sensible attributes to this Being and making Him the object of servile and egoistic reverence, may even be positively harmful. This were indeed real and actual atheism. The fact that I conceive of God as a particular Being is a consequence of my finitude. The act of conceiving involves limitation and every supposed concept of a God is the concept of an idol! (Über den Grund unseres Glaubens an eine gottliche Weltregierung, 1798. Appellation an das Publicum gegen die Anklage des Atheismus, 1799.)
c. Fichte was never satisfied with the expositions which he had given of his theory. He was constantly trying to attain greater clearness both for himself and for his readers. He modified his theory unconsciously by these repeated restatements. In his later drafts he discarded the scholastic method of proof which he had employed in the first exposition of the Science of Knowledge. He then placed more stress on the immediate states and facts of consciousness. But the more he delved into the inexpressible ideas of absolute reality and no longer conceived this reality as active and infinite, but as at rest and superior to all effort and activity, the more his theory likewise assumed a mystical character. His religion was no longer mere practical confidence, but it now became a matter of devotion, of absolute self-surrender. This idea is quite prominent in his Anweisung zum seligen Leben (1806). Grundzüge des gegenwärtigen Zeitalters (1806) is likewise of vast importance on account of the incisive polemics against the eighteenth century as “the age of enlightenment and impoverishment” (Auf- und Ausklärung). Here we find a clear statement of the antithesis which was later (in the school of St. Simon) described as the antithesis between the organic and critical age.
2. Friedrich William Schelling (1775-1854) is the typical philosopher of Romanticism. Having no critical prejudices whatever, in this youthful treatises which constitute the exclusive basis of his philosophical significance, he proclaims a new science which is intended to transcend all the antitheses still confronting the traditional science. He labored first at Jena, afterwards at Stuttgart, Munich and Erlangen. His youth was characterized by great productiveness, which was however followed by a remarkable period of stagnation in his productivity. After the death of Hegel, when nearly seventy, he was called to Berlin by Frederick William IV, for the purpose of counteracting the radical tendencies arising from the Hegelian philosophy. His lectures at Berlin, which had aroused great anticipations, were however a complete disappointment.
a. Schelling began his philosophical career as a collaborator of Fichte. His first essays constitute a further development of the Fichtean science of knowledge. But he could not accept the subordinate position ascribed to nature in Fichte’s philosophy (as mere limitation and means). He undertakes to show in his Ideen zu einer Philosophie der Natur (1797) and in various essays in natural philosophy, that it is impossible that nature should assume such a mechanical relation to mental life. He states his problems very clearly; the romantic character consists in the treatment and the solution. Whilst the natural scientist lives in the midst of nature as in the immediate presence of reality, the philosopher of nature inquires how it is possible to know nature: " How nature and the experience of it is possible, this is the problem with which philosophy arose." Or as it has also been expressed: "The phenomenality of sensibility is the borderland of all empirical phenomena." (Erster Entwurf eines Systems der Naturphilosophie, 1799.) This setting of the problem recalls the observation of Hobbes, namely, that the most remarkable of all phenomena is the fact that phenomena do exist. The realist and the romanticist agree in the statement of the problem, however widely they differ in their respective solutions. Schelling wishes to explain nature from the viewpoint of mind and thus substitute a new science instead of the natural science founded by Galileo and Newton. The natural scientist cannot explain how nature can be known. The natural philosopher explains it by construing nature as unconscious mind. Fichte had even distinguished a twofold tendency in consciousness: an infinite, unconditioned activity (the pure ego) and limitation (by the non-ego). Hence if there is to be any possible way of understanding the origin of mind from the forces of nature, it follows that these two tendencies must already be manifest in nature, only in lower degrees, or, as Schelling puts it, in lower potentialities. And since nature differs from mind only as a matter of degree, in which the tension of those tendencies, the polarity of opposites, as Schelling calls them, is manifested, it follows that the various phenomena of nature likewise show only quantitative differences. Gravity, light and the organism represent the various levels through which nature ascends to mind. The relation of contraction and expansion varies on the different levels; in the organism they coexist in inner unity, and as a matter of fact we are then likewise already at the threshold of consciousness. Whilst mechanical natural science, with its atoms and laws of motion, reveals to us only the external aspect of nature, as lifeless objectivity, it is the business of natural philosophy to explain nature as it really is in its inmost essence, whereby it at the same time appears as the preliminary step to mind. On the lower levels the objective element predominates, on the higher levels the subjective element. These three levels of nature correspond to knowledge, action and art in the realm of mind (System des transcendentalen Idealismus, 1800). Art portrays directly and concretely what philosophy can describe only abstractly. Here therefore the two tendencies of being manifest themselves in perfect unity. Schelling could no longer regard the Absolute as pure ego because the relation of the latter to the nonego was wholly external. The distinction between the subjective and the objective vanishes entirely in the Absolute; it is pure identity. Antitheses exist only for finite mind.
Schelling's Philosophy of Nature is really nothing more than a symbolic interpretation of nature, not an explanation of nature. He is even conscious of this fact himself. In one of his best essays (Methode des akademischen Studiums, 1803) he remarks: "Empiricism contemplates being as an object apart from its meaning, because the nature of a symbol is such as to possess its own peculiar life within itself. In this isolation it can appear only as a finite object, in an absolute negation of the infinite." That is to say the natural scientists are not aware of the fact that nature is a symbol, but they regard it as a thing-in-itself. The Philosopher alone understands (because he starts from within or from above) the symbolic significance. But then Schelling's philosophy likewise really amounts to nothing more than a system of analogies and allegories which are very arbitrarily applied. It is not without justification that the term "Philosophy of Nature" has acquired a suspicious sound in scientific ears.
Notwithstanding the fact that Schelling speaks of levels and transitions, he is nevertheless not an evolutionist in the modern significance of the term. He does not accept any real development in time, but regards nature as a magnificent system which reveals at once the profound antithesis of subjectivity and objectivity in the greatest variety of nuances and degrees, whilst none of these differences pertain to the absolute ground of his system. Time is nothing more than a finite form.— Schelling's ideas have nevertheless contributed much towards producing the conviction of the inner identity of the forces and forms of nature.
b. Schelling's philosophy, with various modifications which we cannot here discuss, bore the character of "Philosophy of Nature" throughout its first period (until 1803). But a problem now arises which all speculative philosophy must eventually take up: namely, if the Absolute is to be regarded as an absolute unity or indifference, how shall we explain the origin of differences, of levels or (as Schelling likewise remarks) of potencies? How can they have their ground in an absolute unity? He treats this problem in his essay on Philosophie und Religion (1804), which forms the transition from Schelling's period of the philosophy of nature to that of the philosophy of religion. If experience reveals not only differences, but even antitheses which cannot be harmonized, it must mean that a fall from the eternal harmony must have taken place. Historical evolution implies the mastery of disharmonies and the restoration of harmonious unity. Just as he had made nature the preliminary of mind in the Philosophy of Nature, he now likewise construes history as a series of stages; not only the former but the latter is likewise an Odyssey of the soul.
Schelling elaborated this idea more fully in the treatise Philosophische Untersuchungen uber das Wesen der menschlichen Freiheit und die damit zusammenhdngenden Gegenstande (1809). Schelling's philosophy of religion was considerably influenced by the writings of Jacob Bohme, as this treatise in particular shows. Schelling seeks to prove that the only way God can be conceived as a personal being is to assume in Him an obscure principle of nature which can be clarified and harmonized by the unfolding of the divine life. The infinite personality must contain the antithesis within itself, whilst the finite personalities discover their antitheses outside themselves. But without opposition and resistance there can be no life and no personality. Hence God could not be God if there were not something within him which is not yet God.
Just as Schelling had read mind into nature in his Philosophy of Nature, so he reads nature into the absolute mind in his Philosophy of Religion. But that obscure principle contains the possibility of evil, according to Schelling even as for Böhme. That which was merely intended to be principle and matter may separate, i. e. isolate itself. We can thus understand egoism, the sin and evil in nature, the irrational in general, which refuses to conform with ideas.
Thus Schelling passes into mythical mysticism. He elaborated his philosophy of religion in greater detail in works which appeared after his death, and which constituted the content of his Berlin lectures (Philosophie der Mythologie and Philosophie der Offenbarung). He regarded the history of religion as a great struggle with the Titanic elements which had been isolated by the Fall. This struggle takes place in the religious consciousness of mankind, which ascends through the various mythologies to Christianity, and finally through the development of Christianity to the religion of pure spirit.—In addition to brilliant ideas and points of view, we find here also, just as in the Philosophy of Nature, a large measure of fantasy and arbitrariness.
3. George William Frederick Hegel (1770–1831) is the systematizer of Romanticism, just as Fichte was its moralist and Schelling its mystic. He too labored at the University of Jena in his youth. Later on he went to Bavaria, first as an editor and afterwards as the director of a gymnasium. He appeared again in the capacity of university professor at Heidelberg, but soon accepted a call to Berlin where he founded a large and influential school.
a. Hegel undertook to construe the ideas which, according to his conception, express the essence of the various phases of existence in a progressive series based on logical necessity. What he called the dialectical method consisted in the discovery of the inherent necessity with which one concept leads on to another concept until at last all the concepts constitute one great system. Notwithstanding this however, this purely logical character, which is so prominent because of the severely systematic form of Hegel's works, is not the fundamental characteristic of Hegelian thought. Hegel was naturally a realist. His supreme ambition consisted in penetrating into the real forces of being, and abstract ideas were intended to express only the forms of this content. He was of course convinced that the elements of reality in every sphere are essentially related to each other in the same way as ideas are in the mind. In this way the twofold character of his philosophy as realistic penetration and logical system becomes clear. Epistemologically this might be stated as follows: namely, that he once more annuls the distinction between ground and cause (ratio and causa) which Hume and Kant had insisted on so strongly. To this extent he returns to pre-critical dogmatism.
The realistic character is still quite dominant in Hegel's earlier works, with which we are acquainted through his manuscripts which have been used by a number of investigators. During his youth he was much occupied with historical studies and reflections, especially those of a religious nature. He paid high tribute of praise to the periods in which men dwelt in natural fellowship, because the individual still constituted an actual part of the whole, and had not yet asserted itself with subjective reflection and criticism as is the case in modem times. Even Christianity appeared to him as a sign of disintegration because it was a matter of individual concern, whilst on the other hand he regarded classical antiquity as fortunately situated because the individual lived and wrought completely and spontaneously within the whole. Like Fichte (in the Grundzüge des gegenwärtigen Zeitalters) Hegel likewise experienced a profound sense of antagonism towards the enlightenment, notwithstanding the fact that he too belonged to this period. But it was not Hegel's affair to revel in ecstasies over the ideals of the past. According to him ideal and reality, reason and actuality, are not real opposites.
He stood quite close to Schelling for a considerable period, during which time they published a paper in partnership. But important differences gradually arose and Hegel assails his former colleague openly in the preface to his first important treatise, Phänomenologie des Geistes (1807). He admits of course that Schelling understood that the problem consists in discovering the harmony between the antitheses. But he operates with a mere schema (subject-object), which he applies to everything mechanically, instead of showing how the one member of the antithesis effects the transition to the other by an inherent necessity, and how a higher unity of both is then formed. The absolute cannot be an immobile indifference; it is process, life, mind.—He showed, even in this book, how ordinary, practical consciousness rises to speculative consciousness through a series of steps, each of which leads to its successor by means of the contradictions discovered within itself. The reader is thus brought to the point from which he may grasp the pure system of ideas. This evolution takes place in the individual as well as in the human race as a whole; the Phenomenology is both a psychology and a history of civilization. The same law pertains to both realms, the same progressive dialectic.
b. According to Hegel dialectic is not only characteristic of thought, but it is likewise a fundamental law of being, because one form of existence always implies another and things are members of one grand totality.
No single idea is capable of expressing the totality of being. Each idea leads to its own negative, because it reveals itself as limited and to that extent untrue. Negation then brings a new concept into existence. But since this one is likewise determined by the first, the necessity of a higher unity is evident, a unity within which both find their explanation, because they are "annulled" in a twofold significance,—namely, negated in their isolation and at the same time affirmed as moments of the higher unity. Hence, according to the dialectical method, thought proceeds in triads, and the system of all these triads constitutes truth. Truth can never be particular, but must always be totality.
The fact that dialectic constitutes the process of being is revealed by the fact that every phenomenon of nature and of history leads beyond itself and exists only as an element of a totality. It is evident that Hegel here construes all being after the analogy of consciousness; the things which constitute the universe are supposed to sustain the same relations among themselves as ideas sustain in our minds. But he likewise makes use of other analogies. The effects of contrast show how the antitheses may oscillate from one to the other. And organic growth shows how it is possible for the earlier stages to determine the later and to continue their existence in them. Hegel constructs his theory of universal dialectic upon such analogies without being clearly conscious of the fact himself. Everything perishes and yet there is nothing lost. The memory of the universal mind preserves everything. And it is because of its inherent identity with the universal mind that the human intellect is capable of evolving the pure forms of the universal dialectic. Kant's doctrine of the categories is transformed into a world-system (Wissenschaft der Logik, 1812-1816).
Pure logic however is only the first part of the system. This follows from the fact that the pure forms of logic constitute the antithesis to real nature. We are led from logic to the philosophy of nature (likewise the profoundest problem in Hegel's system), i.e. to the doctrine of the phenomena which occur in time and space, by a dialectical necessity. As a matter of fact we have here to deal with Schelling's "Fall." Hegel's exposition of the philosophy of nature is, so far as particulars are concerned, quite as arbitrary and fantastic as that of Schelling. He likewise regards nature as a series of levels: we approach physics through mechanics, and thence to the organic sciences, but always under an "inherent necessity." Hegel has no more room for a real development in time than Schelling.—The philosophy of nature brings us to the philosophy of mind, the "higher unity" of the first two parts of the system. The struggle incident to the objective distraction of space and time matures the abstract idea and it now returns within itself. Dialectic likewise leads through a series of steps in this case. Subjective mind (in a series of steps known as soul, consciousness and reason), the mental life of the particular individual, leads to objective mind, which is manifested in the triad of right, individual morality (conscience) and social morality (social and political life). The higher unity of subjective and objective mind is absolute mind, the totality of mental life, in which the antithesis of subject and object is annulled. Absolute mind is revealed in art, religion and philosophy (Encydopädie der philosophischen Wissenschaften, 1817).
c. We shall discuss two divisions of the philosophy of mind somewhat more in detail; the doctrine of objective mind, which Hegel elaborated in his Philosophie des Rechts (1821), and the Philosophy of Religion as treated in the Vorlesungen über die Philosophie der Religion, published posthumously.
Although Hegel no longer refers to the ancient character of the state with the same romantic fervor that characterized his early youth, his theory of the state nevertheless assumes an antique character. Actual morality appears in the life of the family, political society and the state, and not only forms an antithesis to abstract and objective right, but also to "morality", to subjective conscience in its isolation from the historical forms of society. The good exists in moral association and does no depend upon individual caprice and contingency. The moral world reveals the activity of something which is superior to the consciousness of the individual. The individual can only realize the highest type of development by a life in and for society. "The moral substance" is the mind which governs the family, the political society, and above all the state. The state is the complete actuality of the moral idea: the fact that the state exists is the witness of God's course in the world. The constitution of the state is a necessary consequence of its nature, and individual construction is here quite as much out of place as individual criticism. The modern state as a matter of fact is an organization of liberty; but this does not imply that the individual can participate in the government according to his individual caprice. The wise shall rule. Governmental authority belongs to the enlightened, the scientifically educated bureaucracy. The fact that the systematic development of the Hegelian philosophy of right shows a striking correspondence with the constitution of Prussia at that time (as far as it may by called a constitution) is not to be explained as a mere accommodation, but it was rather a consequence of Hegel's realism. Hegel thinks the divine idea is not so feeble as to be unable to permeate reality—of the state as well as of nature—and it is not the business of philosophy to contrive new ideals, but to discover the ideality of the vital forms realized hitherto.
The contrast between formalism and realism in the Hegelian philosophy appears perhaps most clearly in the sphere of religion. Here too it is Hegel's sole purpose to penetrate the facts; even here the sole business of philosophy consists in understanding what is actually given. He was convinced that philosophy which is developed to perfect clearness has the same content as religion. Philosophy indeed seeks the unity of being through all antitheses and at every step, — and religion teaches that everything has its origin in the One God. The only difference is this: that what philosophy expresses in the form of the concept, religion expresses in the form of idea, of imagination. Philosophy states in the language of abstract eternal concepts what religion proclaims concretely and enthusiastically in sublime symbols. The relation (as Hegel remarks, borrowing an illustration from Hamann) is like that between the closed fist and the open palm. Religion, e.g., speaks of the creation of the world as a definite act in time, accomplished once for all, whilst philosophy conceives the relation between God and the world as eternal and timeless (like that of ground and consequence). In the religious doctrine of reconciliation God becomes incarnate, lives as a man, suffers and dies on the cross: according to philosophy this too is an eternal relationship: the incommensurability of the finite and the infinite which must constantly be annulled in consequence of its finite form, if it is to describe an infinite result. - In the fervency of his zeal Hegel failed to see that this distinction of form might be of decisive importance. He describes the distinction between two world theories—the theory of monism or immanence and the theory of dualism or transcendence. Hegel reveals his romanticism in the naive conviction that values are never destroyed by transposition into new forms. The problem which he thus neglected, as we shall presently see, was very clearly defined by his disciples.
B. Critical Romanticists
The critical philosophy was not wholly suppressed during the romantic period. There were certain thinkers, who, whilst profoundly affected by the romantic tendency, had nevertheless not rejected the results of the critical philosophy. Although critics in epistemology, they endeavored at the same time by various methods to secure a theory of life which would transcend the limitations of science. Among these we mention Schleiermacher, Shopenhauer and Kierkegaard.
1. Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher (1768—1834) completed his first courses of study at a Moravian institution, and even there already laid the foundation of his distinctive theory of life. The desire for a broader and more critical training took him to the university at Halle, where he later, after serving a number of years in a pastorate, became professor of theology. After the battle of Jena he went to Berlin, where, as professor and preacher, he labored not only on behalf of science and the church, but in the interest of public questions and the affairs of the nation. He came to the conclusion early in life that the real characteristic feature of human life, its real nature, has its seat in the affections, and that in them alone man experiences the totality of his personal self. In addition to this he acquired, both by independent reflection and by the study of the works of Kant, a clear insight into the limits of human knowledge. He did not join the circle of romanticists until later. Dilthey has described this course of the development of the critical romanticist in his Leben Schleiermachers. Schleiermacher's position in the history of philosophy is characterized by the fact that he keeps the spirit of the critical philosophy alive within the ranks of romanticism. His Socratic personality, in which the capacity of complete inner devotion was united with a remarkable degree of calm discretion, furnished the basis for the combination of romanticism and criticism. According to his view the things which criticism destroyed and would no longer regard as objectively true did not necessarily lose their religious value if they could be supported as the symbolic expression of an affective personal experience. Schleiermacher reveals his romanticism especially in the fact that he does not distinguish sharply between symbol and dogma. He failed to see that as a matter of fact he assigned to religion a different position in the spiritual life than that which the church could accept. In his Reden über die Religion an die Gebildeten unter ihren Verächtern (1799) he defined immediate intuition and feeling, by which man is enabled to experience the infinite and the eternal, as the psychological basis of religion. Here every antithesis is annulled, whilst knowledge must forever move from idea to idea and volition from task to task. The only method by which intellectual, aesthetic and moral culture can attain their completion is by finally resting on subjective concentration such as is given in feeling alone. Hence Schleiermacher defines religion from the standpoint of human nature, not vice versa. He seeks to show the value of religion for life.
Schleiermacher's philosophical labors cover the departments of epistemology, ethics and the philosophy of religion.
a. He investigates the presuppositions of knowledge in his Dialectik (which was published only after his death). Knowledge exists only in the case where every single idea is not only necessarily combined with all other ideas, but where an actual reality likewise corresponds to the particular ideas. The relations between ideas must correspond with the relations between things. Particularly does the causal relation of objective reality correspond to the combination of concepts expressed in judgments. Here Schleiermacher presents a mixture of criticism and dogmatism. He forgets that the only knowledge we have of reality is by means of our thoughts, and furthermore that reality and thought forever remain incomparable. He nevertheless assumes that the identity of thought and being is a presupposition of knowledge, but not in itself knowledge. He thus opposes Schelling, for whom in fact that very identity constituted the highest kind of knowledge. But, according to Schleiermacher, Schelling offers nothing more than abstract schemata.—The pathway from that presupposition, which forms the starting-point of knowledge, to the idea of a complete totality of all existence, which would be the consummation of all knowledge— or, as it may likewise be expressed, from the idea of God to the idea of the universe—is a long one, and it can never be compassed by human knowledge. Knowledge is only provisional. We are always somewhere between the beginning and the end of knowledge and neither the one nor the other can be transformed into actual knowledge. But beyond the confines of knowledge the unity of being can be directly experienced in the affections and expressed in symbols. Here dialectic justifies every symbol which maintains the inseparability of the beginning and the end (God and the world). It is impossible to construe either of these from the standpoint of the other. But dialectic insists, in opposition to the religious method of representation, on the symbolic character of all expressions which are supposed to describe God, the world, and their respective relationship. Thus, e.g. the term "person," when applied to God, is nothing more than a symbol.
b. Just as knowledge presupposes the unity of thought and being, so action likewise presupposes the unity of will and being. Action would be impossible if the will were absolutely foreign and isolated in the world. The former presupposition can no more be a fact of knowledge than the latter. We are thus led from dialectics to ethics (cf. a series of essays published in Complete Works, III, 2, and Philosophische Sittenlehre, published by Schweizer, 1835). According to Schleiermacher ethics is a theory of development in which reason and desire cultivate and govern nature. This development would be impossible if reason and will were not already present in nature. Nature is a kind of ethics of a lower order, a diminutive ethics. Will reveals itself by degrees---in the inorganic forms, in the life of plants and of animals, and finally in human life. There is no absolute beginning of ethical development. Here Schleiermacher in direct opposition to Kant and Fichte coördinates ethics with nature and history. But it is nevertheless only within the realm of humanity that he accepts an actual, real development.
Ethical capacity consists partly of organization, i.e. of constructive and formative power, partly symbolizing, i.e. expressive and descriptive power. Its organizing activity is shown in material culture and in commercial and legal business. In its symbolizing activity man objectifies his inner experiences in art, science and religion.—Whilst in his youth Schleiermacher (Monologe, 1800) was impatient with the prominence ascribed to material culture, and as a matter of fact wanted to recognize the "symbolizing" activity alone as ethical, later on he tried to recognize both forms of activity in their distinctive significance.
He disagreed with Kant and Fichte not only in the matter of the intimate relation of ethics to nature, but likewise in his strong emphasis on individuality. The nature of the individual is not exhausted in the universal and social. The only way an individual can possess any moral value is by means of the fact that he expresses what universal in human nature in an individual way. His acts must therefore necessarily contain something which could not pertain to another individual. The individual could not have been fully active in the case of any act of his which lacked the distinguishing marks of his individuality.
c. In his conception of religion Schleiermacher is inclined both to intellectualism and to moralism. He assigns religion to the point where the division of the mental faculties has not yet become active, and where that which is individual is just in process of differentiating itself from the universal, without however as yet having attained the antithesis of subject and object. This point is given in an immediate feeling, which he at first (in the Reden über die Religion) described as a sense of unity, later on (in Der christliche Glaube, 1821) rather as a sense of dependence. It is the birth-place of personality. In this feeling we are at once personal and dependent: it is here that we acquire the basis of our personality. The sense of dependence becomes a consciousness of God at the moment when reflection begins; the term "God" implies "the source of our susceptible and independent being."
Religious ideas and concepts are all secondary. They are deduced by reflection on the immediate states of feeling in which the essence of religion consists. The demand for expression and communion furnishes the impulse to clothe the subjective experiences in word and symbol. Such words and symbols constitute dogmas, i.e. symbolical expressions of religious states of mind. Each separate dogma must bear a direct relation to some feeling, and the dogmatician must never deduce a dogma from another dogma by purely logical processes. Whenever dogmatic statements are taken literally, dogmatics becomes mythology. This appertains, e.g. to the ideas of the personality of God, personal immortality, creation, the first human pair, etc. It likewise applies to the idea of miracle. The interests of religion can never place God and the world in opposition to each other. The Christian-religious feeling is characterized by the fact that Christians experience a purifying and an enlargement of their own circumscribed feelings through the type expressed in the congregation; in this way they experience Christ as the Redeemer.
Schleiermacher's philosophy marks an important advance, especially in its psychological aspect. But he is likewise disposed to identify symbolic statement and causal explanation in the same way as he identifies dogma and symbol. On these points the philosophy of religion receives further development at the hands of Strauss and Feuerbach.
5. Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) is a Kantian in epistemology, but he claims to have discovered a direct revelation of the thing-in-itself. He discovers the solution of the riddle of the universe with romantic precipitancy by means of an intuition which instantly drops all limitations. His great importance rests on his psychological views and on his philosophy of life which is based on personal experience.
Shopenhauer, the son of a wealthy Dantzig merchant, enjoyed a well-rounded education and became acquainted with the world early in life by means of travel and a variety of social intercourse. His complete independence enabled him to devote himself entirely to his studies and to the elaboration of his theory of life. After an unsuccessful attempt in a professorship at the University of Berlin, he withdrew into private life at Frankfort-on-the-Main where he spent the rest of his days. From his own inner experience he had very early become acquainted with the mysterious, conflicting energies and impulses of life; and the things which he saw around him at times aroused his anger, and again his sympathy. He concluded from these experiences that the beginning of philosophy is not wonder, but confusion and despair, and he endeavored to rise above them by reflective thought and artistic contemplation.
a. Schopenhauer elaborated his critical theory already in his first essay (Über die vierfachen Wurzeln des Satzes vom zureichenden Grunde, 1813). The principle of sufficient reason receives its four different forms from the fact that our ideas may be inter-related in four different ways: as ground and consequence, as cause and effect, in space and time, and as motive and act. Contemporaneously with Hegel's attempt to annul the distinction between ground and cause, emphasized by Hume and Kant, Schopenhauer shows clearly the importance of this distinction.
The first book of his chief work (Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, 1819) contains his theory of knowledge. He differs from Kant especially on account of the intimate relation between intuition and thought which he maintains. Sensation, which is the correlate of a bodily change, is the only thing which is directly given. But the faculties of understanding and intuition likewise coöperate instinctively; we conceive the cause of sensation as an external object, distinct from our body, by an act which reveals the theory of causality. Space, time and causality cooperate in this projection. Experience never modifies this act, which indeed even forms the basis of the possibility of experience.
Cognition (sensation, understanding, intuition) is a product of our physical organization. The methods of natural science never get beyond materialism. Just as we discover the cause of a sensation in a physical object distinct from our body, so we likewise find the cause of such object, as well as its states, in a third object, etc. The law of inertia and the permanence of matter are the direct implications of the law of causality. The insufficiency of materialism however rests upon the fact that the principle of sufficient reason pertains only to the objective correlate of the idea; matter itself, which is the cause of the sensation and of the idea, is present only as the object of the idea. For cognition the world is nothing more than idea. We are not concerned with anything beyond the relations of ideas to each other. It is impossible, on the basis of theoretical knowledge, to get beyond this circle.
But what is being? What really constitutes the aggregate of these objects of ideas? Schopenhauer believes that he has discovered a method of unveiling the "thing-initself." The principle of sufficient reason appertains only to us as cognizing beings. As volitional beings we ourselves are thing-in-itself. An aspiration and yearning, an impulse towards self-assertion, is active in the profound depths of our being, beneath every idea, which is manifest in pleasure and in pain, hope and fear, love and hate,— a will, which constitutes our inmost nature, the primary phenomenon! We understand the inmost nature of the world by our own inmost nature. Thus, with the help of analogy, an analogy whose justification, due to his romantic temper, he never questions, he makes the transition to metaphysics.—The fact that all volition is a temporal process and that all we know about it is merely phenomenal, of course constitutes a real difficulty. (Herbart called attention to this difficulty already in a review in 1820.) Schopenhauer concedes this difficulty in the second volume of his chief work (which appeared twenty-five years later than the first), but thinks that volition is nevertheless the phenomenon with which we are really identical. But in that case the principle of sufficient reason, which applies to all phenomena, must likewise apply to volition,—and then the thing-in-itself still remains undiscovered!
It was a matter of profound importance for the development of psychology that volitional life was emphasized so vigorously—and in its details frequently so ingeniously—in contrast to the Hegelian intellectualism.—Beyond this Schopenhauer is evidently affected by Fichte, not only in his theory of will, but likewise in his projection theory which forms an essential part of his theory of knowledge (especially by Fichte's lectures Uber die Thatsachen des Bewusstseins).
Our knowledge of will does not rest upon direct introspection alone. It likewise possesses phenomenal form, because our whole body is the material expression of will. Body and will are one. Schopenhauer could therefore call knowledge (the idea and its object) a product of the will quite as consistently as a product of the body. The body is the same thing seen objectively (physically) as the will seen subjectively (metaphysically). The operation of will is manifest throughout the whole of physical nature — in organic growth, in the functional activity of muscles and nerves, in fact in all the forces of nature. Schopenhauer endeavors to prove this in detail in his book, Der Wille in der Natur (1836), and in the second volume of his masterpiece, because here he likewise operates with analogies. We behold the operation of will in nature through a series of steps (which are however no more to be regarded as temporal, real evolutional steps than in Schelling and Hegel). The steps accordingly vary to the degree of difference between cause and effect. On the level of mechanism cause and effect are equivalent, showing a slight degree of dissimilarity already in chemism, whilst in the organic realm the cause dwindles to a mere discharging stimulus, and where consciousness enters it simply furnishes the motive. The dissimilarity is greatest when we come to the last step — and here indeed the causal relation is revealed as an act of will!
Will manifests itself everywhere as the will to live — for the mere sake of living, of pure existence. Here the question, why, no longer occurs; the principle of sufficient reason does not apply to the will itself. The multiplicity of forms and energies in nature, the movements which are forever renewed, and the everlasting unrest in the world reveal the presence of the ever-active energy of the impulse of self-assertion. This vague impulse involves us in the illusion that life is good and valuable. The will employs this illusion as the inducement for us to maintain our existence at any cost. Existence understood in its real nature, just because it consists essentially in a restless and insatiable impulse, is pain, and pleasure or satisfaction only arises as a contrast-phenomenon, namely, when this infernal fire is momentarily quenched. All pleasure is illusory, a zero, which only appears to have positive value by contrast. In a vivid portrayal of human and animal life Schopenhauer describes the torture of existence, "the rush and confusion," in which living beings fight and destroy each other.
The vast majority are under the illusion, produced by the desire to live, of the value of life. Those of profounder vision, especially the geniuses, lift the veil of the Maya and discover the profound disharmonies.—The question arises, is there then no way of escape, no means by which we can rescue ourselves from this torture?
b. He devotes the last two books of his chief work to answering these questions. Schopenhauer finds some real difficulties on these points: for if will is everything, identical with the "world," whence shall the energy proceed by which the will itself is to be annulled? And if the will should be annulled, would it not follow that everything would then be annihilated? Schopenhauer replies that the will is not annihilated by some cause other than itself, but that it simply subsides (in such a manner that velle is supplanted by nolle). And the state which supervenes is merely a relative nothing, i. e. as respects our idea; in itself it may quite as readily be a positive reality. It is the Nirvana of the Buddhists; were it not for the danger of abuse of the term, Schopenhauer would not have objected to apply the word "God."
There are three ways by which the will-to-live may be sublated. It is possible to assume the attitude towards life of a mere spectator, in which case he devotes himself wholly to aesthetic or intellectual contemplation. If e. g. we are completely absorbed in the contemplation of some work of art, the will is subdued and we forget that we are denizens of the world. Art everywhere represents the climax. The agony of life subsides in the presence of the image of life. — This is the course taken by Schopenhauer himself. — In the case of human love, which — because all life is full of agony — necessarily assumes the character of sympathy, the individual will vanishes from the fact that it is lost in its identity with its object. This thought forms the basis of Schopenhauer's ethics (Die beiden Grundprobleme der Ethik, 1841). — It is after all only the saints, the ascetics, for whom every motive has vanished, who are capable of an absolute suppression of the will. Schopenhauer finds the best practical solutions of the riddle of life and of the agony of life in Buddhism, in primitive Christianity, and in mysticism, and he has the most profound regard for the chief representatives of asceticism, — the more so, because of the consciousness that he was not a saint himself.
3. The romantic philosophy made a profound impression in the Scandinavian North, differing according to the different character of the northern peoples. — In Sweden the romantic opposition to empirical philosophy is particularly evident. The fundamental principle of the philosophy characteristic of Sweden was this, namely, that truth must be a perfect, inherently consistent totality, and since experience merely presents fragments, and such forsooth as are constantly undergoing change, a constant antithesis of ideal and empirical truth must follow. After this idea had been elaborated by a number of thinkers, the most noteworthy of whom are Benjamin Hoyer and Eric Gustav Geyer, the school attained its systematic culmination in the philosophy of Christopher Jacob Boström (1797-1855), professor of the University of Upsala, according to whom time, change and evolution are illusions of the senses, whilst true reality consists of a world of ideas which differ from Platonism by the fact that the ideas are construed as personal beings.—Denmark reveals the influence of Schelling and Hegel to a marked degree, especially among the writers in aesthetics and the theologians. The more independent thinkers however have devoted themselves almost exclusively to the problems of psychology, ethics and epistemology and assumed an attitude of decided opposition to abstract speculation. Frederick Christian Sibbern (1785-1872), who labored at Copenhagen in the capacity of professor of philosophy for more than fifty years,—in opposition to Hegel and Boström—placed great stress on a real evolution in time. Experience reveals that evolution has a number of starting-points, and the contact of the various evolutional series with each other gives rise to strife, "a stupendous debate of everything with everything," which in turn accounts for progress. This idea of sporadic evolution has likewise an important bearing on the theory of knowledge: each cognizing being has the viewpoint of one of these beginnings and hence cannot survey the entire process. Sibbern devoted himself more particularly to psychology, for which he was specially adapted by his gift of observation and his enthusiastic interest in human life.
We shall consider Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) only as a philosopher, leaving out of account his aesthetic and religious activities, which have taken such deep hold on the life of the North. The author of this text-book has given a general description of this thinker in his book Soren Kierkegaard, als Philosoph (in Frommann's Klassiker).
Kierkegaard is a "subjective thinker" in the sense in which he used that word (in the book Unwissenschaftliche Nachschrift, 1846, Kierkegaard's chief philosophical work). The ideas of the subjective thinker are determined by the interplay of all the elements of psychic life,:—by emotion and reflection, by hope and fear, by tragic and comic moods. And this thinking takes place in the midst of the stream of life, whose boundaries we cannot see and whose direction we can never know, at least not in the fantastical and impersonal world of abstraction. Kierkegaard is the Danish Pascal, and his position in relation to the philosophy of his age possesses a certain analogy to Pascal's relation to Cartesianism.—This predominantly personal character of his thought however does not preclude the possibility of his making valuable contributions to epistemology and ethics (or better, to a comparative philosophy of life) as he has actually done.
Sibbern had already observed that the fruitful ideas of Kant had not received their just dues at the hands of his successors. Kierkegaard renews the problem of knowledge with still greater definiteness, and declares that Hegel had not solved the Kantian problem. We can arrange our thoughts in logical order and elaborate a consistent system. It is possible to elaborate a logical system, but a finite thinker will never be able to realize a complete system of reality. We deduce the fundamental ideas from experience and experience remains forever imperfect. We understand only what has already taken place; knowledge comes after experience. We cognize towards the past—but we live towards the future. This opposition between the past and the future accounts for the tension of life and impresses us with the irrationality of being. The denial of the reality of time by abstract speculation is the thing that constitutes the thorn in the problem of knowledge.
What is thus true of scientific thought is even more so in the reflections on the problems of practical life. In this case it is personal truth that takes first rank, i. e. the important matter to be considered here is the fact that the individual has acquired his characteristic ideas by his own efforts, and that they constitute an actual expression of his personality. Subjectivity constitutes the truth. Whoever prays to an idol with his whole heart and soul, prays to the true God, whilst he who prays to the true God from mere force of habit and without having his heart in it, is really worshipping an idol. Kierkegaard shows his romanticism in the fact that he sharply contrasts the heart with life as it is actually experienced and entirely disregards intellectual integrity, which is an essential condition, if personal truth is to escape identification with blindness.
Kierkegaard outlined a kind of comparative theory of life—partly in poetic form (Entweder—Oder; Stadien auf dem Lebensweg), partly in philosophical form (in his chief philosophical treatise mentioned above). He distinguishes various "Stadia," which however do not constitute stages in a continuous line of evolution, but sharply severed types. The transition from the one to the other does not follow with logical necessity, nor by means of an evolution explainable by psychological processes, but by a leap, an inexplicable act of will. Kierkegaard maintains the qualitative antitheses of life in sharp contrast to the quantitative continuity of the speculative systems.
According to Kierkegaard the principle of evaluation and construction of theories of life consists in the degree of opposition which spiritual life is capable of comprehending. The particular moment and the totality of life, time and eternity, reality and the ideal, nature and God — constitute such antitheses. The tension of life increases in direct proportion to the increasing sharpness of the manifestation of these antitheses, and the energy which is supposed to constitute life must therefore likewise be correspondingly greater. The professional artist who is absorbed in the pleasure of the moment represents the lowest degree; the writer of irony already discerns an element of the inner life which is incapable of expression in a single moment, or in a single act; the moralist develops this inner life positively by real influence on the family and in the state; the humorist regards all the vicissitudes of life as evanescent as compared with eternity and assumes an attitude of melancholy resignation, which he preferably makes the subject of jest; the devotees of religion regard the temporal life as a constant pain because finite and temporal existence is incommensurable with eternal truth; the Christian finally regards this pain as the effect of his own sins, and the antithesis of time and eternity can only be annulled by the fact that the everlasting itself is revealed in time and apprehended in the paradox of faith.
Kierkegaard wanted to show by this scale how comprehensive an ideal of life was possible even outside of Christianity. He likewise wanted to put an end to the amalgamation of Christianity and speculation in theology. But the anguish occasioned by the tension finally became his standard for the sublimity of life, and he had sufficient courage of consistency to draw the inference, that sufferings of no one are equal to those endured by God! — This brings him into direct conflict with the romantic theory of the reconciliation of all antitheses in the "higher unity," as well as with the accepted conception of Christianity. This furnished the motive for the deplorable controversy with the state church, which occupied the latter years of his life.
C. The Undercurrents Of Critical Philosophy In The Romantic Period.
It is important for the continuity of the history of philosophy that there were philosophers, even in the period of romanticism and speculation, who undertook to carry out a strictly critical and empirical treatment of the fundamental concepts. Two of Fichte's students at Jena deserve mention in this connection as belonging to the first rank. These men soon protested that the method by which Fichte and his disciples were trying to develop the Kantian philosophy was not correct. The significance of Fries and Herbart however does not depend alone upon the fact that they are representatives of the critical philosophy, but likewise upon their scientific method of treating the problem of psychology. This latter fact makes them, especially Herbart, the forerunner of modern psychology. Beneke, who had been considerably affected by the English school, likewise joins them.
1. Jacob Friedrich Fries (1775-1843), like Schleiermacher, was educated at a Moravian college, and, despite the fact that a native impulse for untrammelled science had carried him far beyond the ideas of his early teachers, he nevertheless continued his adherence to them to the end, especially in the matter of the emphasis which he placed on the emotions. While professor at Jena, Fries participated in the Wartburg celebration, on account of which he was forbidden to continue his lectures in philosophy. The fact that he was then able to accept a prolessorship in physics was a tribute to the breadth of his scholarship.
According to Kant the critical philosophy must consist of self-knowledge; Fries deplored the lack of a psychological foundation for such knowledge. According to him the problem of psychology consisted in discovering and describing the spontaneous forms with which our knowledge operates. Those fundamental concepts which constitute the scientific expression of these forms must then be deduced from psychological experience by the method of abstract analysis. Notwithstanding the fact that Fries clearly saw that we can have no guarantee that the fundamental concepts discovered by this empirico-analytic method are adequate, he was nevertheless convinced that Kant had succeeded in enumerating all of the fundamental concepts (categories). He accepted Kant's table of categories and of ideas. —On the other hand however he departs from Kant on one important point, namely, on the matter of establishing the objective validity of knowledge. Here he agrees. with Maimon that Kant had failed to establish the fight to apply the categories. Kant only answered the quæstio facti, not the quæstio juri. Truth can only consist in the agreement of mediate knowledge (of reason) with immediate (of perception), and beyond this it is impossible for us to transcend the subjective demonstration of knowledge. Fries regards the denial of this situation as the cause of the ultra-speculative tendency of the Romanticists (Neue Kritik der Vernunft, 1806-7).
According to Fries the real problem of philosophy consists in the application of the regressive, analytical method, which seeks to discover the fundamental concepts, which condition all understanding from the facts of experience. The method is more important than the system. This analytic method demands a strictly scientific treatment of the problems of psychology. Psychology must be a strictly causal science, whose correlate constitutes an exact science of the corporeal side of nature. This standpoint of Fries is Spinozistic. He presumes, by way of analogy, that all existence everywhere possesses an inner, spiritual phase as well as an external, material phase (Psychische Anthropologie, 1820-1).
Even the most consistent causal method only leads from the finite to the finite. There is no scientific path to the infinite and the eternal. But the same reality which the natural sciences regard as the world of phenomena, faith construes as supported by an eternal principle. But the only way we can describe this principle is negatively. Whenever faith makes use of positive expressions, it must be understood that these can only have symbolical significance. Fries carries out the idea of symbolism far more purely and consistently than Kant and Schleiermacher (Handbuch der Philosophie der Religion, 1832).
2. John Friedrich Herbart (1776-1841), who was an instructor in the universities of Konigsberg and Gottingen, calls himself a "Kantian of 1828." He thus described both his relation to Kant as well as his critical advance beyond him. He would start from experience—but he regards it impossible to remain on the empirical basis. For experience contains contradictions which—owing to the logical principle of identity—must be corrected: things change but they are nevertheless supposed to remain the same things! One and the same thing possesses a variety of attributes! And the concept of the ego, which Fichte endeavored to make the basis of the speculative philosophy, contains both contradictions: the ego develops and is nevertheless supposed to remain identical with itself, and the ego is supposed to be a unity, but it nevertheless possesses a manifold content!—The correction of contradictory experience should however adhere to experience as closely as possible; for we are obliged to maintain the principle: every phenomenon contains its proportionate implication of reality! (Hauptpunkte der Metaphysik, 1808). The contradictions vanish whenever we assume a manifold of existing entities (realities): when a thing changes it must be explained from the fact that it is being observed in relation to different things (different realities) than before; when a thing possesses a number of attributes it must be explained from the fact that is being observed in relation to different things (realities). Thus experience is corrected by "the method of relations." But the relations do not pertain to things as such; they are wholly contingent, and the method of relations can therefore likewise be called "the method of contingent views." Each particular Real constitutes an absolute position, independent from all other Reals.—The peculiarity of the Herbartian philosophy is expressed in two propositions: 1. In the realm of being there are no events. 2. Every continuum is excluded from reality (Allgemeine Metaphysik, 1828).
What then do we know about the Reals? Herbart, in opposition to metaphysical idealism, holds that, if it is possible to form an idea of the Real, the experiences in the realm of spiritual nature have no prerogatives above the experiences in the realm of material nature. But when he calls the identity of a Real "self-preservation" notwithstanding its relation to other Reals, and since the only example of self-preservation of which we can have any knowledge is contained in our own sensations, he nevertheless likewise really makes use of the analogy with our psychical experiences in the same manner as the metaphysical idealists.
Even the soul is Real. Ideas arise in the soul as forms of self-preservation in distinction from other Reals. And since, according to Herbart, the Real which supports psychical phenomena must be different from the Real which supports material phenomena, he attains a spiritualism which differs from the Cartesian by the fact that the interaction does not take place between dissimilar entities, but between similars. Hebart therefore partly bases his psychology on his metaphysics (Psychologie als Wissenschaft, neu gegründet auf Erfahrung, Metaphysik und Mathematik, 1824-5). But he bases the necessity of assuming a psychical Real largely upon the fact that our ideas present a mutual interaction and combination. Sometimes they blend (by assimilation), i.e. when they are internally related; sometimes they combine into groups (aggregations), i.e. when they are heterogeneous (as colors and tones) but still occur coincidently; sometimes they inhibit or obscure each other, i. e. when they are homogeneous without however being able to blend. That which we call our ego is the controlling group of ideas, which is formed by assimilation and aggregation, and upon which the determination of what shall have psychological permanence depends; for only that can persist which can be blended with the controlling ideas (i.e. be apperceived).—Herbart here recalls the English associational psychology founded by Hume and Hartley. But Herbart would not only base his psychology on metaphysics and experience, but likewise upon mathematics. He discovered the possibility of this in the fact of inhibition. Mathematical psychology aims to discover definite laws governing the reciprocal inhibition of ideas. Psychical energies cannot be measured by movements in space like those of physics; but Herbart thought it possible to start from the fact that, inasmuch as all ideas strive to preserve themselves, the sum of inhibition in any given moment must be the least possible. The problem therefore consists in determining how to divide the inhibition among the various coincident or aspiring ideas.— This presupposition rests upon Herbart's metaphysical theories, according to which every idea is a self-preservative act of the psychical Real. Herbart failed to attain clear results and such as could be harmonized with experience on the basis of this presupposition by the method of calculation, and his significance as a psychologist does not rest upon this attempt to reduce psychology to an exact science.
Herbart excludes ethics—here he is an out-and-out Kantian—completely from theoretical philosophy. He is of the opinion that there is no scientific principle which can at once be subsumed as the explanation of reality and the guarantee of value.—Our value judgments are spontaneously and often unconsciously determined by certain practical ideas. Such ideas are patterns which hover before the mind whenever we judge of the harmonic or disharmonic relation between the conviction and the actions of a man or between the strivings of a number of men in relation to one another. Whenever we discover disharmony between a man's conviction and the trend of his actual desires, it conflicts with the idea of inner freedom; whenever the conviction or its practical execution is too feeble, it conflicts with the idea of perfection. And the ideas of right, of equity, and of benevolence in the mutual relations of a number of men find their application analogously. We discover the practical ideas by means of an analysis of our judgments concerning human actions, in cases where the relations are clearly present, and where irrelative interests are in abeyance. Herbart even refers to Adam Smith's "disinterested observer" (Allgemeine praktische Philosophie, 1808).
3. Frederick Edward Beneke (1798-1854) quietly fought a hard battle at the University of Berlin for the empirical philosophy against the dominant speculative philosophy. For a while he was even deprived of the privilege of lecturing. Notwithstanding the fact that he exercised a profound influence upon the development of psychology and pedagogy, he nevertheless regarded his effort as useless, and discouragement apparently caused his death.
Beneke is especially influenced by Fries and Schleiermacher. He would base his philosophy on psychology, i. e. elaborate a psychologism. Here he is radically opposed to Herbart, who even endeavored to partly base psychology on metaphysics. Beneke approaches closely to the English school and even calls himself a disciple of Locke. His psychology has a biological character. He describes the development of consciousness as a growth of innate germs or rudiments, which he calls original faculties; these are the faculties of sensation and of motion. The original faculties are conjoined with a tendency; the objective stimuli through which the original faculties are enabled to attain a complete development are sought out spontaneously. The experiences which are thus acquired leave traces or dispositions behind, which furnish the possibility of the origination of new, derived faculties. An incessant interaction between the conscious and the unconscious is therefore in constant progress.—Of the more specific psychical phenomena Beneke describes especially the significance of the relation of contrast for the emotions, and the tendency of psychical elements to extend their impress over the whole psychical state ("liquidation"). The distinction between the higher and lower levels of consciousness is to be explained by the great multiplicity and variety of the elements and processes coöperating in the development of consciousness (Psychologische Skizzen, 1825-7; Lehrbuch der Psychologie als Naturwissenschaft, 1833).
Beneke passes deliberately from psychology to metaphysics by means of an analogy: In our inner experience we become acquainted with a part of being as it is in itself, and we afterwards naturally conceive that part of being which we only know as external, objective being (material nature), after the analogy of our own self. But this analogy does not mislead him into the substitution of an idealistic interpretation for the mechanical explanation of nature (Das Verhältniss von Seele und Leib, 1826).According to Beneke ethical judgments arise through reflection concerning the kind and manner in which our feelings are set in motion by human actions. This viewpoint dominates his youthful essay, Physik der Sitten (1822). Strongly influenced by Bentham, he placed greater emphasis on the objective side of ethics later on, in the fact that he took special account of the way in which the actions affect the welfare of living beings (Grundlinie der Sittenlehre, 1837).
D. The Transition from Romanticism Positivism.
1. The Dissolution of the Hegelian School. The profound influence and the wide dissemination of the Hegelian philosophy is due more particularly to the supposed successful reconciliation of faith and knowledge, of ideality and reality. But these alleged results were put to the test shortly after Hegel's death. There was some doubt whether the belief in a personal God and in a personal immortality could be reconciled with Hegelian philosophy (Fr. Richter: Die Lehre von den letzten Dingen, 1833), and it was claimed that the logical consequence of the Hegelian philosophy of religion was not the Christology of the church, but the mythical theory of the Person of Christ (D. F. Strauss: Leben Jesu, kritisch bearbeitet, 1835).
The Hegelians divided on this question, and we soon hear of a Hegelian right and a Hegelian left. Those on the right (represented particularly by Göschel, Rosenkranz and J. E. Erdman) held that the theory of the master, properly understood, was in harmony with positive faith and with the doctrine of the Church. Those on the left, on the other hand, drew most radical conclusions from the teaching of the master who was apparently so very conservative, both in the department of the philosophy of religion (Strauss and Feuerbach) and in that of the philosophy of law and society (A. Ruge, Karl Marx, Ferdinand Lasalle).
There were also men however who granted to the Hegelian left that Hegelianism was incapable of defending theism, but who at the same time thought it possible to vindicate theism by the method of pure thought. They endeavored to show that all fundamental ideas (categories) finally combine in the idea of personality, and that this idea must be accepted as the expression of the highest reality. C. H. Weisse (Das philosophische Problem der Gegenwart, 1842) and J. H. Fichte, the son of J. G. Fichte, (Grundzüge zum System der Philosophie, 1833-1846) were the chief representatives of this tendency. Lotze and Fechner joined them later so far as pertained to their ideas on the philosophy of religion. — As we have previously observed, the ideas of Schelling had been moving in the same direction for a long time already. — We find a peculiar combination of theistic philosophy of religion and humanistic philosophy of law in the voluminous writings of Ch. Fr. Krause, of which we can only mention Das Urbild der Menschheit (1811).
The most thorough criticism of the Hegelian philosophy, which is at the same time an important positive contribution to the theory of knowledge, is from the pen of the judicious and profound thinker, Adolph Trendelenburg, in his Logischen Untersuchungen (1840).
2. Ludwig Feuerbach (1804-1866), under the influence of Hegel, gave up theology for philosophy. After serving in the capacity of Privatdocent at Erlangen for a time, he withdrew to the solitude of country life where he developed a fruitful capacity as an author. In his latter years he struggled with poverty and sickness.
Within the Hegelian school the foremost problem was whether religious ideas could be transformed into scientific concepts without losing the essential meaning. Feuerbach, on the other hand, as soon as he had definitely renounced the school, assumed the task of discovering the source of religious ideas in human affections and impulses, in fear and hope, in yearning and wish. He aims to explain the origin of dogmas psychologically, and in so doing he enters upon a line of thought in which Hume and — less historically — Kant and Schleiermacher were his forerunners. He appeals from the official documents of religion to the spiritual life which has found expression in them. His most important work in the sphere of the philosophy of religion is Das Wesen des Christerthums (1841). He however himself attaches more importance to the Theogonie which appeared in 1857.
The break with the speculative philosophy gave Feuerbach occasion to develop an entirely new conception of philosophy. After he had even insisted on an "analytico-genetic" philosophy in his elegant treatise on Pierre Bayle (1838), he announced a program for the philosophy of the future in a brief essay (Grundsätze der Philosophie der Zukunft, 1843) in which he especially emphasized the concrete distinction of every particular reality. The subject-matter of philosophy has nothing to do with the things which transcend experience, but consists entirely of man as given in experience and nature as furnishing the basis of his existence. He seeks, by painstaking studies in the natural sciences, to determine the more intimate relation between man and nature. In his last essay (Got, Freiheit und Unserblichkeit, 1866) he elaborates his view of the relation of the spiritual to the material universe. He was occupied during his last years with studies in ethics, the results of which unfortunately exist only in interesting fragments. Fr. Jodl has published a valuable monograph on Feuerbach (in Frommann's Klassikern der Philosophie).
a. According to Feuerbach the characteristic phenomena of religion arise from the fact that the impassioned aspiration towards the fullfillment of the wishes of the heart breaks through the boundaries fixed by reason. This explains the anti-rational character which religious phenomena assume, especially those of the most exalted kind. The wish is the fundamental principle of theogony.
At the beginning man has no grounds upon which to impose limits on his wishes and the ideas conditioned by such wishes; he therefore ascribes unqualified validity to them. It is in the very nature of the affections to eternalize its object and at the same time always regard it as real. Doubt arises only after man has come to discover his limitations. He then begins to distinguish between the subjective and the objective.
Religious predicates represent the contents of human wishes. Heaven and the attributes of the gods are evidences of the things which have occupied the human heart: God is personal, i. e. the personal life is valuable, "divine." God is love, i. e. love is valuable, "divine". God suffers, i. e. suffering is valuable, "divine." Hence, in order to understand religion we must transform its predicates into subjects and its subjects into predicates. This is most clearly apparent in Christianity. Here affection attains an inwardness and an intensity, and at the same time moreover a boundlessness, wholly unknown to paganism. Both suffering and love are felt more profoundly, and they are therefore also projected with greater fervency and greater confidence as divine things.
But no sooner has man transferred everything valuable to heaven than he begins to feel the more his own emptiness and insignificance. This accounts for the sense of finitude and sinfulness. As long as we hold fast to its original forms we find that religion lives and moves in these sharp contrasts. The theogonic wish is at its best only in these forms; later on it becomes exhausted. Hence we must make a distinction especially between primitive Christianity and "the dissolute, characterless, self-satisfied, belletristic, coquettish, Epicurean Christianity of the modern world."
There is an inverse relationship existing between religion and civilization. They represent two opposite methods by which man hopes to realize his purposes, and just in proportion as he confides in the one he is ready to surrender the other. The relation of ethics and religion is similar. Just in proportion as the distinction between God and man is emphasized, the attributes (love, righteousness, etc.) which are ascribed to God are accordingly used in an entirely different sense than when they are applied to man, and man must then surrender his natural conscience and his natural reason in order to obey the divine will even though the latter should command something which is in conflict with human love and righteousness.
No real values are ever lost by the surrender of religious faith. The projection is annulled, nothing more. We retain in the form of subject what was predicate in religion.
b. In his general conception of philosophy Feuerbach approaches the psychologism of Fries and Beneke. His conception has likewise certain points of contact with the positivism of Comte. He does not as a matter of fact expressly treat of the problems of epistemology. But notwithstanding this it is impossible to understand his attitude towards materialism without the epistemological presuppositions. His viewpoint with respect to materialism is analogous to that which he assumed towards theology. Just as he would not regard man as a creation of God, but inversely the idea of God as a creation of man, neither would he regard man as a creation of matter, but inversely matter as a concept formed by man. We must, so he affirms, start with man. Life, sensation, thought is something absolutely original, ingenious, incapable of being copied or transferred! Man must be conceived of as being at once spiritual and- corporeal, and the resulting problem is to find an Archimedian point between spiritualism and materialism.
c. Feuerbach had forcefully asserted the independence of ethics from religion already in his Pierre Bayle (1838). In The Essence of Christianity he refers to human love as the affection in which the unity of the race reveals itself in the individual. Later on he emphasized the individual desire for happiness, not however as purpose, but as fundamental principle: only those who know from personal experience what it is to suffer need and wrong can have sympathy with others. Ethics however knows of no striving for happiness in isolation. Nature itself has solved the problem of the transition from the egoistic desire for happiness to the recognition of duties towards others by the relation of the sexes to each other. The feelings of community and fellowship arise by virtue of the fact that the existence of the individual is shown to stand in the most intimate relation to the existence of other individuals.