Page:Egotism in German Philosophy (1916).djvu/157

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

cannot say specifically what it craves, for essentially it should crave everything indiscriminately. In practice, however, it must seem to aim at this or that precise result. These specific aims are suggested to it by circumstances, foisted upon it in its replete innocence; for it is all expectation, all vague heartiness and zeal for it knows not what. The logic it proclaims at any time and calls eternal is but the fashionable rhetoric of that hour. Absolute Will is a great dupe on whom fortune forces card after card. Like Faust it is helpless before the most vulgar temptations. Why should it not fulfil itself now by the pursuit of magic, now by the seduction of a young girl, now by an archaeological pose, now by a piratical or an engineering enterprise? True, there are limits to its gullibility; there are suggestions from which it recoils. The German ego, after swallowing Christianity whole, will in Luther stick at Indulgences. Faust sometimes turns on Mephistopheles, as the worm will turn: he says that he covets all experience, but in that he does himself a great injustice; there are experiences he scorns. After all this ego is not really absolute; it is specifically and pathetically human and directed upon a few natural ends. That is what saves it; for a mind can have no distinction and a soul no honour if its only maxim is to live on. It may take up with enthusiasm what-