Page:Egotism in German Philosophy (1916).djvu/17

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in the daily experience of life, and looks to nothing essentially different beyond. It looks only for more of the same thing, believing in perpetual growth, which is an ambiguous notion. Under the fashionable name of progress what these idealists sincerely cherish is the vital joy of transition; and usually the joy of this transition lies much more in shedding their present state than in attaining a better one. For they suffer and wrestle continually, and by a curious and deeply animal instinct, they hug and sanctify this endless struggle all the more when it rends and bewilders them, bravely declaring it to be absolute, infinite, and divine.

Such in brief is German philosophy, at least, such it might be said to be if any clear account of it did not necessarily falsify it; but one of its chief characteristics, without which it would melt away, is ambiguity. You cannot maintain that the natural world is the product of the human mind without changing the meaning of the word mind and of the word human. You cannot deny that there is a substance without turning into a substance whatever you substitute for it. You cannot identify yourself with God without at once asserting and denying the existence of God and of yourself. When you speak of such a thing as the consciousness of society you must never decide whether you mean the conscious-