The World as Will and Representation/Fourth Book
THE WORLD AS WILL
THE ASSERTION AND DENIAL OF THE WILL TO LIVE, WHEN SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS HAS BEEN ATTAINED.
Tempore quo cognitio siraul advenit, amor e medio supersurrexit.
- — Oupnekhat, Studio Anquetil Duperron, vol. ii. p. 216.
The last part of our work presents itself as the most serious, for it relates to the action of men, the matter which concerns every one directly and can be foreign or indifferent to none. It is indeed so characteristic of the nature of man to relate everything else to action, that in every systematic investigation he will always treat the part that has to do with action as the result or outcome of the whole work, so far, at least, as it interests him, and will therefore give his most serious attention to this part, even if to no other. In this respect the following part of our work would, in ordinary language, be called practical philosophy, in opposition to the theoretical, which has occupied usherto. But, in my opinion, all philosophy is theoretical, because it is essential to it that it should retain a purely contemplative attitude, and should investigate, not prescribe. To become, on the contrary, practical, to guide conduct, to transform character, are old claims, which with fuller insight it ought finally to give up. For here, where the worth or worthlessness of an existence, where salvation or damnation are in question, the dead conceptions of philosophy do not decide the matter, but the inmost nature of man himself, the Dæmon that guides him and that has not chosen him, but been chosen by him, as Plato would say; his intelligible character, as Kant expresses himself. Virtue cannot be taught any more than genius; indeed, for it the concept is just as unfruitful as it is in art, and in both cases can only be used as an instrument. It would, therefore, be just as absurd to expect that our moral systems and ethics will produce virtuous, noble, and holy men, as that our æsthetics will produce poets, painters, and musicians.
Philosophy can never do more than interpret and explain what is given. It can only bring to distinct abstract knowledge of the reason the nature of the world which in the concrete, that is, as feeling, expresses itself comprehensibly to every one. This, however, it does in every possible reference and from every point of view. Now, as this attempt has been made from other points of view in the three preceding books with the generality that is proper to philosophy, in this book the action of men will be considered in the same way; and this side of the world might, indeed, be considered the most important of all, not only subjectively, as I remarked above, but also objectively. In considering it I shall faithfully adhere to the method I have hitherto followed, and shall support myself by presupposing all that has already been advanced. There is, indeed, just one thought which forms the content of this whole work. I have endeavoured to work it out in all other spheres, and I shall now do so with regard to human action. I shall then have done all that is in my power to communicate it as fully as possible.
The given point of view, and the method of treatment announced, are themselves sufficient to indicate that in this ethical book no precepts, no doctrine of duty must be looked for; still less will a general moral principle be given, an universal receipt, as it were, for the production of all the virtues. Neither shall we talk of an “absolute ought,” for this contains a contradiction, as is explained in the Appendix; nor yet of a “law of freedom,” which is in the same position. In general, we shall not speak at all of “ought,” for this is how one speaks to children and to nations still in their childhood, but not to those who have appropriated all the culture of a full-grown age. It is a palpable contradiction to call the will free, and yet to prescribe laws for it according to which it ought to will. “Ought to will!”—wooden iron! But it follows from the point of view of our system that the will is not only free, but almighty. From it proceeds not only its action, but also its world; and as the will is, so does its action and its world become. Both are the self-knowledge of the will and nothing more. The will determines itself, and at the same time both its action and its world; for besides it there is nothing, and these are the will itself. Only thus is the will truly autonomous, and from every other point of view it is heteronomous. Our philosophical endeavours can only extend to exhibiting and explaining the action of men in its inner nature and content, the various and even opposite maxims, whose living expression it is. This we shall do in connection with the preceding portion of our work, and in precisely the same way as we have hitherto explained the other phenomena of the world, and have sought to bring their inmost nature to distinct abstract knowledge. Our philosophy will maintain the same immanency in the case of action, as in all that we have hitherto considered. Notwithstanding Kant's great doctrine, it will not attempt to use the forms of the phenomenon, the universal expression of which is the principle of sufficient reason, as a leaping-pole to jump over the phenomenon itself, which alone gives meaning to these forms, and land in the boundless sphere of empty fictions. But this actual world of experience, in which we are, and which is in us, remains both the material and the limits of our consideration: a world which is so rich in content that even the most searching investigation of which the human mind is capable could not exhaust it. Since then the real world of experience will never fail to afford material and reality to our ethical investigations, any more than to those we have already conducted, nothing will be less needful than to take refuge in negative conceptions void of content, and then somehow or other make even ourselves believe that we are saying something when we speak with lifted eyebrows of “absolutes,” “infinites,” “supersensibles,” and whatever other mere negations of this sort there may be (ουδεν εστι, η το της στερησεως ονομα, μετα αμυδρας επινοιας—nihil est, nisi negationis nomen, cum obscura notione.—Jul. or. 5), instead of which it would be shorter to say at once cloud-cuckoo-town (νεφελοκοκκυγια): we shall not require to serve up covered empty dishes of this kind. Finally, we shall not in this book, any more than in those which have preceded it, narrate histories and give them out as philosophy. For we are of opinion that whoever supposes that the inner nature of the world can in any way, however plausibly disguised, be historically comprehended, is infinitely far from a philosophical knowledge of the world. Yet this is what is supposed whenever a “becoming,” or a “having become,” or an “about to become” enters into a theory of the nature of the world, whenever an earlier or a later has the least place in it; and in this way a beginning and an end of the world, and the path it pursues between them, is, either openly or disguisedly, both sought for and found, and the individual who philosophises even recognises his own position on that path. Such historical philosophising in most cases produces a cosmogony which admits of many varieties, or else a system of emanations, a doctrine of successive disengagements from one being; or, finally, driven in despair from fruitless efforts upon these paths to the last path of all, it takes refuge in the converse doctrine of a constant becoming, springing up, arising, coming to light out of darkness, out of the hidden ground source or groundlessness, or whatever other nonsense of this sort there may be, which is most shortly disposed of with the remark that at the present moment a whole eternity, i.e., an endless time, has already passed, so that everything that can or ought to become must have already done so. For all such historical philosophy, whatever airs it may give itself, regards time just as if Kant had never lived, as a quality of the thing-in-itself, and thus stops at that which Kant calls the phenomenon in opposition to the thing-in-itself; which Plato calls the becoming and never being, in opposition to the being and never becoming; and which, finally, is called in the Indian philosophy the web of Mâya. It is just the knowledge which belongs to the principle of sufficient reason, with which no one can penetrate to the inner nature of things, but endlessly pursues phenomena, moving without end or aim, like a squirrel in its wheel, till, tired out at last, he stops at some point or other arbitrarily chosen, and now desires to extort respect for it from others also. The genuine philosophical consideration of the world, i.e., the consideration that affords us a knowledge of its inner nature, and so leads us beyond the phenomenon, is precisely that method which does not concern itself with the whence, the whither, and the why of the world, but always and everywhere demands only the what; the method which considers things not according to any relation, not as becoming and passing away, in short, not according to one of the four forms of the principle of sufficient reason; but, on the contrary, just that which remains when all that belongs to the form of knowledge proper to that principle has been abstracted, the inner nature of the world, which always appears unchanged in all the relations, but is itself never subject to them, and has the Ideas of the world as its object or material. From such knowledge as this proceeds philosophy, like art, and also, as we shall see in this book, that disposition of mind which alone leads to true holiness and to deliverance from the world.
The first three books will, it is hoped, have conveyed the distinct and certain knowledge that the world as idea is the complete mirror of the will, in which it knows itself in ascending grades of distinctness and completeness, the highest of which is man, whose nature, however, receives its complete expression only through the whole connected series of his actions. The self-conscious connection of these actions is made possible by reason, which enables a man constantly to survey the whole in the abstract.
The will, which, considered purely in itself, is without knowledge, and is merely a blind incessant impulse, as we see it appear in unorganised and vegetable nature and their laws, and also in the vegetative part of our own life, receives through the addition of the world as idea, which is developed in subjection to it, the knowledge of its own willing and of what it is that it wills. And this is nothing else than the world as idea, life, precisely as it exists. Therefore we called the phenomenal world the mirror of the will, its objectivity. And since what the will wills is always life, just because life is nothing but the representation of that willing for the idea, it is all one and a mere pleonism if, instead of simply saying “the will,” we say “the will to live.”
Will is the thing-in-itself, the inner content, the essence of the world. Life, the visible world, the phenomenon, is only the mirror of the will. Therefore life accompanies the will as inseparably as the shadow accompanies the body; and if will exists, so will life, the world, exist. Life is, therefore, assured to the will to live; and so long as we are filled with the will to live we need have no fear for our existence, even in the presence of death. It is true we see the individual come into being and pass away; but the individual is only phenomenal, exists only for the knowledge which is bound to the principle of sufficient reason, to the principio individuationis. Certainly, for this kind of knowledge, the individual receives his life as a gift, rises out of nothing, then suffers the loss of this gift through death, and returns again to nothing. But we desire to consider life philosophically, i.e., according to its Ideas, and in this sphere we shall find that neither the will, the thing-in-itself in all phenomena, nor the subject of knowing, that which perceives all phenomena, is affected at all by birth or by death. Birth and death belong merely to the phenomenon of will, thus to life; and it is essential to this to exhibit itself in individuals which come into being and pass away, as fleeting phenomena appearing in the form of time—phenomena of that which in itself knows no time, but must exhibit itself precisely in the way we have said, in order to objectify its peculiar nature. Birth and death belong in like manner to life, and hold the balance as reciprocal conditions of each other, or, if one likes the expression, as poles of the whole phenomenon of life. The wisest of all mythologies, the Indian, expresses this by giving to the very god that symbolises destruction, death (as Brahma, the most sinful and the lowest god of the Trimurti, symbolises generation, coming into being, and Vishnu maintaining or preserving), by giving, I say, to Siva as an attribute not only the necklace of skulls, but also the lingam, the symbol of generation, which appears here as the counterpart of death, thus signifying that generation and death are essentially correlatives, which reciprocally neutralise and annul each other. It was precisely the same sentiment that led the Greeks and Romans to adorn their costly sarcophagi, just as we see them now, with feasts, dances, marriages, the chase, fights of wild beasts, bacchanalians, &c.; thus with representations of the full ardour of life, which they place before us not only in such revels and sports, but also in sensual groups, and even go so far as to represent the sexual intercourse of satyrs and goats. Clearly the aim was to point in the most impressive manner away from the death of the mourned individual to the immortal life of nature, and thus to indicate, though without abstract knowledge, that the whole of nature is the phenomenon and also the fulfilment of the will to live. The form of this phenomenon is time, space, and causality, and by means of these individuation, which carries with it that the individual must come into being and pass away. But this no more affects the will to live, of whose manifestation the individual is, as it were, only a particular example or specimen, than the death of an individual injures the whole of nature. For it is not the individual, but only the species that Nature cares for, and for the preservation of which she so earnestly strives, providing for it with the utmost prodigality through the vast surplus of the seed and the great strength of the fructifying impulse. The individual, on the contrary, neither has nor can have any value for Nature, for her kingdom is infinite time and infinite space, and in these infinite multiplicity of possible individuals. Therefore she is always ready to let the individual fall, and hence it is not only exposed to destruction in a thousand ways by the most insignificant accident, but originally destined for it, and conducted towards it by Nature herself from the moment it has served its end of maintaining the species. Thus Nature naïvely expresses the great truth that only the Ideas, not the individuals, have, properly speaking, reality, i.e., are complete objectivity of the will. Now, since man is Nature itself, and indeed Nature at the highest grade of its self-consciousness, but Nature is only the objectified will to live, the man who has comprehended and retained this point of view may well console himself, when contemplating his own death and that of his friends, by turning his eyes to the immortal life of Nature, which he himself is. This is the significance of Siva with the lingam, and of those ancient sarcophagi with their pictures of glowing life, which say to the mourning beholder, Natura non contristatur.
That generation and death are to be regarded as something belonging to life, and essential to this phenomenon of the will, arises also from the fact that they both exhibit themselves merely as higher powers of the expression of that in which all the rest of life consists. This is through and through nothing else than the constant change of matter in the fixed permanence of form; and this is what constitutes the transitoriness of the individual and the permanence of the species. Constant nourishment and renewal differ from generation only in degree, and constant excretion differs only in degree from death. The first shows itself most simply and distinctly in the plant. The plant is throughout a constant recurrence of the same impulse of its simplest fibre, which groups itself into leaf and branch. It is a systematic aggregate of similar plants supporting each other, whose constant reproduction is its single impulse. It ascends to the full satisfaction of this tendency through the grades of its metamorphosis, finally to the blossom and fruit, that compendium of its existence and effort in which it now attains, by a short way, to that which is its single aim, and at a stroke produces a thousand-fold what, up till then, it effected only in the particular case—the repetition of itself. Its earlier growth and development stands in the same relation to its fruit as writing stands to printing. With the animal it is clearly quite the same. The process of nourishing is a constant reproduction; the process of reproduction is a higher power of nourishing. The pleasure which accompanies the act of procreation is a higher power of the agreeableness of the sense of life. On the other hand, excretion, the constant exhalation and throwing off of matter, is the same as that which, at a higher power, death, is the contrary of generation. And if here we are always content to retain the form without lamenting the discarded matter, we ought to bear ourselves in the same way if in death the same thing happens, in a higher degree and to the whole, as takes place daily and hourly in a partial manner in excretion: if we are indifferent to the one, we ought not to shrink from the other. Therefore, from this point of view, it appears just as perverse to desire the continuance of an individuality which will be replaced by other individuals as to desire the permanence of matter which will be replaced by other matter. It appears just as foolish to embalm the body as it would be carefully to preserve its excrement. As to the individual consciousness which is bound to the individual body, it is absolutely interrupted every day by sleep. Deep sleep is, while it lasts, in no way different from death, into which, in fact, it often passes continuously, as in the case of freezing to death. It differs only with regard to the future, the awaking. Death is a sleep in which individuality is forgotten; everything else wakes again, or rather never slept.
Above all things, we must distinctly recognise that the form of the phenomenon of will, the form of life or reality, is really only the present, not the future nor the past. The latter are only in the conception, exist only in the connection of knowledge, so far as it follows the principle of sufficient reason. No man has ever lived in the past, and none will live in the future; the present alone is the form of all life, and is its sure possession which can never be taken from it. The present always exists, together with its content. Both remain fixed without wavering, like the rainbow on the waterfall. For life is firm and certain in the will, and the present is firm and certain in life. Certainly, if we reflect on the thousands of years that are past, of the millions of men who lived in them, we ask, What were they? what has become of them? But, on the other hand, we need only recall our own past life and renew its scenes vividly in our imagination, and then ask again, What was all this? what has become of it? As it is with it, so is it with the life of those millions. Or should we suppose that the past could receive a new existence because it has been sealed by death? Our own past, the most recent part of it, and even yesterday, is now no more than an empty dream of the fancy, and such is the past of all those millions. What was? What is? The will, of which life is the mirror, and knowledge free from will, which beholds it clearly in that mirror. Whoever has not yet recognised this, or will not recognise it, must add to the question asked above as to the fate of past generations of men this question also: Why he, the questioner, is so fortunate as to be conscious of this costly, fleeting, and only real present, while those hundreds of generations of men, even the heroes and philosophers of those ages, have sunk into the night of the past, and have thus become nothing; but he, his insignificant ego, actually exists? or more shortly, though somewhat strangely: Why this now, his now, is just now and was not long ago? Since he asks such strange questions, he regards his existence and his time as independent of each other, and the former as projected into the latter. He assumes indeed two nows—one which belongs to the object, the other which belongs to the subject, and marvels at the happy accident of their coincidence. But in truth, only the point of contact of the object, the form of which is time, with the subject, which has no mode of the principle of sufficient reason as its form, constitutes the present, as is shown in the essay on the principle of sufficient reason. Now all object is the will so far as it has become idea, and the subject is the necessary correlative of the object. But real objects are only in the present; the past and the future contain only conceptions and fancies, therefore the present is the essential form of the phenomenon of the will, and inseparable from it. The present alone is that which always exists and remains immovable. That which, empirically apprehended, is the most transitory of all, presents itself to the metaphysical vision, which sees beyond the forms of empirical perception, as that which alone endures, the nunc stans of the schoolmen. The source and the supporter of its content is the will to live or the thing-in-itself,—which we are. That which constantly becomes and passes away, in that it has either already been or is still to be, belongs to the phenomenon as such on account of its forms, which make coming into being and passing away possible. Accordingly, we must think:—Quid fuit?—Quod est. Quid erit?—Quod fuit; and take it in the strict meaning of the words; thus understand not simile but idem. For life is certain to the will, and the present is certain to life. Thus it is that every one can say, “I am once for all lord of the present, and through all eternity it will accompany me as my shadow: therefore I do not wonder where it has come from, and how it happens that it is exactly now.” We might compare time to a constantly revolving sphere; the half that was always sinking would be the past, that which was always rising would be the future; but the indivisible point at the top, where the tangent touches, would be the extensionless present. As the tangent does not revolve with the sphere, neither does the present, the point of contact of the object, the form of which is time, with the subject, which has no form, because it does not belong to the knowable, but is the condition of all that is knowable. Or, time is like an unceasing stream, and the present a rock on which the stream breaks itself, but does not carry away with it. The will, as thing-in-itself, is just as little subordinate to the principle of sufficient reason as the subject of knowledge, which, finally, in a certain regard is the will itself or its expression. And as life, its own phenomenon, is assured to the will, so is the present, the single form of real life. Therefore we have not to investigate the past before life, nor the future after death: we have rather to know the present, the one form in which the will manifests itself. It will not escape from the will, but neither will the will escape from it. If, therefore, life as it is satisfies, whoever affirms it in every way may regard it with confidence as endless, and banish the fear of death as an illusion that inspires him with the foolish dread that he can ever be robbed of the present, and foreshadows a time in which there is no present; an illusion with regard to time analogous to the illusion with regard to space through which every one imagines the position on the globe he happens to occupy as above, and all other places as below. In the same way every one links the present to his own individuality, and imagines that all present is extinguished with it; that then past and future might be without a present. But as on the surface of the globe every place is above, so the form of all life is the present, and to fear death because it robs us of the present, is just as foolish as to fear that we may slip down from the round globe upon which we have now the good fortune to occupy the upper surface. The present is the form essential to the objectification of the will. It cuts time, which extends infinitely in both directions, as a mathematical point, and stands immovably fixed, like an everlasting mid-day with no cool evening, as the actual sun burns without intermission, while it only seems to sink into the bosom of night. Therefore, if a man fears death as his annihilation, it is just as if he were to think that the sun cries out at evening, “Woe is me! for I go down into eternal night.” And conversely, whoever is oppressed with the burden of life, whoever desires life and affirms it, but abhors its torments, and especially can no longer endure the hard lot that has fallen to himself, such a man has no deliverance to hope for from death, and cannot right himself by suicide. The cool shades of Orcus allure him only with the false appearance of a haven of rest. The earth rolls from day into night, the individual dies, but the sun itself shines without intermission, an eternal noon. Life is assured to the will to live; the form of life is an endless present, no matter how the individuals, the phenomena of the Idea, arise and pass away in time, like fleeting dreams. Thus even already suicide appears to us as a vain and therefore a foolish action; when we have carried our investigation further it will appear to us in a still less favourable light.
Dogmas change and our knowledge is deceptive; but Nature never errs, her procedure is sure, and she never conceals it. Everything is entirely in Nature, and Nature is entire in everything. She has her centre in every brute. It has surely found its way into existence, and it will surely find its way out of it. In the meantime it lives, fearless and without care, in the presence of annihilation, supported by the consciousness that it is Nature herself, and imperishable as she is. Man alone carries about with him, in abstract conceptions, the certainty of his death; yet this can only trouble him very rarely, when for a single moment some occasion calls it up to his imagination. Against the mighty voice of Nature reflection can do little. In man, as in the brute which does not think, the certainty that springs from his inmost consciousness that he himself is Nature, the world, predominates as a lasting frame of mind; and on account of this no man is observably disturbed by the thought of certain and never-distant death, but lives as if he would live for ever. Indeed this is carried so far that we may say that no one has really a lively conviction of the certainty of his death, otherwise there would be no great difference between his frame of mind and that of a condemned criminal. Every one recognises that certainty in the abstract and theoretically, but lays it aside like other theoretical truths which are not applicable to practice, without really receiving it into his living consciousness. Whoever carefully considers this peculiarity of human character will see that the psychological explanations of it, from habit and acquiescence in the inevitable, are by no means sufficient, and that its true explanation lies in the deeper ground we have given. The same fact explains the circumstance that at all times and among all peoples dogmas of some kind or other relating to the continued existence of the individual after death arise, and are believed in, although the evidence in support of them must always be very insufficient, and the evidence against them forcible and varied. But, in truth, this really requires no proof, but is recognised by the healthy understanding as a fact, and confirmed by the confidence that Nature never lies any more than she errs, but openly exhibits and naïvely expresses her action and her nature, while only we ourselves obscure it by our folly, in order to establish what is agreeable to our limited point of view.
But this that we have brought to clearest consciousness, that although the particular phenomenon of the will has a temporal beginning and end, the will itself as thing-in-itself is not affected by it, nor yet the correlative of all object, the knowing but never known subject, and that life is always assured to the will to live—this is not to be numbered with the doctrines of immortality. For permanence has no more to do with the will or with the pure subject of knowing, the eternal eye of the world, than transitoriness, for both are predicates that are only valid in time, and the will and the pure subject of knowing lie outside time. Therefore the egoism of the individual (this particular phenomenon of will enlightened by the subject of knowing) can extract as little nourishment and consolation for his wish to endure through endless time from the view we have expressed, as he could from the knowledge that after his death the rest of the eternal world would continue to exist, which is just the expression of the same view considered objectively, and therefore temporally. For every individual is transitory only as phenomenon, but as thing-in-itself is timeless, and therefore endless. But it is also only as phenomenon that an individual is distinguished from the other things of the world; as thing-in-itself he is the will which appears in all, and death destroys the illusion which separates his consciousness from that of the rest: this is immortality. His exemption from death, which belongs to him only as thing-in-itself, is for the phenomenon one with the immortality of the rest of the external world.67 Hence also, it arises that although the inward and merely felt consciousness of that which we have raised to distinct knowledge is indeed, as we have said, sufficient to prevent the thought of death from poisoning the life of the rational being, because this consciousness is the basis of that love of life which maintains everything living, and enables it to live on at ease as if there were no such thing as death, so long as it is face to face with life, and turns its attention to it, yet it will not prevent the individual from being seized with the fear of death, and trying in every way to escape from it, when it presents itself to him in some particular real case, or even only in his imagination, and he is compelled to contemplate it. For just as, so long as his knowledge was directed to life as such, he was obliged to recognise immortality in it, so when death is brought before his eyes, he is obliged to recognise it as that which it is, the temporal end of the particular temporal phenomenon. What we fear in death is by no means the pain, for it lies clearly on this side of death, and, moreover, we often take refuge in death from pain, just as, on the contrary, we sometimes endure the most fearful suffering merely to escape death for a while, although it would be quick and easy. Thus we distinguish pain and death as two entirely different evils. What we fear in death is the end of the individual, which it openly professes itself to be, and since the individual is a particular objectification of the will to live itself, its whole nature struggles against death. Now when feeling thus exposes us helpless, reason can yet step in and for the most part overcome its adverse influence, for it places us upon a higher standpoint, from which we no longer contemplate the particular but the whole. Therefore a philosophical knowledge of the nature of the world, which extended to the point we have now reached in this work but went no farther, could even at this point of view overcome the terror of death in the measure in which reflection had power over direct feeling in the given individual. A man who had thoroughly assimilated the truths we have already advanced, but had not come to know, either from his own experience or from a deeper insight, that constant suffering is essential to life, who found satisfaction and all that he wished in life, and could calmly and deliberately desire that his life, as he had hitherto known it, should endure for ever or repeat itself ever anew, and whose love of life was so great that he willingly and gladly accepted all the hardships and miseries to which it is exposed for the sake of its pleasures,—such a man would stand “with firm-knit bones on the well-rounded, enduring earth,” and would have nothing to fear. Armed with the knowledge we have given him, he would await with indifference the death that hastens towards him on the wings of time. He would regard it as a false illusion, an impotent spectre, which frightens the weak but has no power over him who knows that he is himself the will of which the whole world is the objectification or copy, and that therefore he is always certain of life, and also of the present, the peculiar and only form of the phenomenon of the will. He could not be terrified by an endless past or future in which he would not be, for this he would regard as the empty delusion of the web of Mâya. Thus he would no more fear death than the sun fears the night. In the “Bhagavad-Gita” Krishna thus raises the mind of his young pupil Arjuna, when, seized with compunction at the sight of the arrayed hosts (somewhat as Xerxes was), he loses heart and desires to give up the battle in order to avert the death of so many thousands. Krishna leads him to this point of view, and the death of those thousands can no longer restrain him; he gives the sign for battle. This point of view is also expressed by Goethe's Prometheus, especially when he says—
Here sit I, form mankind
In my own image,
A race like to myself,
To suffer and to weep,
And heed thee not,
The philosophy of Bruno and that of Spinoza might also lead any one to this point of view whose conviction was not shaken and weakened by their errors and imperfections. That of Bruno has properly no ethical theory at all, and the theory contained in the philosophy of Spinoza does not really proceed from the inner nature of his doctrine, but is merely tacked on to it by means of weak and palpable sophisms, though in itself it is praiseworthy and beautiful. Finally, there are many men who would occupy this point of view if their knowledge kept pace with their will, i.e., if, free from all illusion, they were in a position to become clearly and distinctly themselves. For this is, for knowledge, the point of view of the complete assertion of the will to live.
That the will asserts itself means, that while in its objectivity, i.e., in the world and life, its own nature is completely and distinctly given it as idea, this knowledge does not by any means check its volition; but this very life, so known, is willed as such by the will with knowledge, consciously and deliberately, just as up to this point it willed it as blind effort without knowledge. The opposite of this, the denial of the will to live, shows itself if, when that knowledge is attained, volition ends, because the particular known phenomena no longer act as motives for willing, but the whole knowledge of the nature of the world, the mirror of the will, which has grown up through the comprehension of the Ideas, becomes a quieter of the will; and thus free, the will suppresses itself. These quite unfamiliar conceptions are difficult to understand when expressed in this general way, but it is hoped they will become clear through the exposition we shall give presently, with special reference to action, of the phenomena in which, on the one hand, the assertion in its different grades, and, on the other hand, the denial, expresses itself. For both proceed from knowledge, yet not from abstract knowledge, which is expressed in words, but from living knowledge, which is expressed in action and behaviour alone, and is independent of the dogmas which at the same time occupy the reason as abstract knowledge. To exhibit them both, and bring them to distinct knowledge of the reason, can alone be my aim, and not to prescribe or recommend the one or the other, which would be as foolish as it would be useless; for the will in itself is absolutely free and entirely self-determining, and for it there is no law. But before we go on to the exposition referred to, we must first explain and more exactly define this freedom and its relation to necessity. And also, with regard to the life, the assertion and denial of which is our problem, we must insert a few general remarks connected with the will and its objects. Through all this we shall facilitate the apprehension of the inmost nature of the knowledge we are aiming at, of the ethical significance of methods of action.
Since, as has been said, this whole work is only the unfolding of a single thought, it follows that all its parts have the most intimate connection with each other. Not merely that each part stands in a necessary relation to what immediately precedes it, and only presupposes a recollection of that by the reader, as is the case with all philosophies which consist merely of a series of inferences, but that every part of the whole work is related to every other part and presupposes it. It is, therefore, necessary that the reader should remember not only what has just been said, but all the earlier parts of the work, so that he may be able to connect them with what he is reading, however much may have intervened. Plato also makes this demand upon his readers through the intricate digressions of his dialogues, in which he only returns to the leading thought after long episodes, which illustrate and explain it. In our case this demand is necessary; for the breaking up of our one single thought into its many aspects is indeed the only means of imparting it, though not essential to the thought itself, but merely an artificial form. The division of four principal points of view into four books, and the most careful bringing together of all that is related and homogeneous, assists the exposition and its comprehension; yet the material absolutely does not admit of an advance in a straight line, such as the progress of history, but necessitates a more complicated exposition. This again makes a repeated study of the book necessary, for thus alone does the connection of all the parts with each other become distinct, and only then do they all mutually throw light upon each other and become quite clear.
That the will as such is free, follows from the fact that, according to our view, it is the thing-in-itself, the content of all phenomena. The phenomena, on the other hand, we recognise as absolutely subordinate to the principle of sufficient reason in its four forms. And since we know that necessity is throughout identical with following from given grounds, and that these are convertible conceptions, all that belongs to the phenomenon, i.e., all that is object for the knowing subject as individual, is in one aspect reason, and in another aspect consequent; and in this last capacity is determined with absolute necessity, and can, therefore, in no respect be other than it is. The whole content of Nature, the collective sum of its phenomena, is thus throughout necessary, and the necessity of every part, of every phenomenon, of every event, can always be proved, because it must be possible to find the reason from which it follows as a consequent. This admits of no exception: it follows from the unrestricted validity of the principle of sufficient reason. In another aspect, however, the same world is for us, in all its phenomena, objectivity of will. And the will, since it is not phenomenon, is not idea or object, but thing-in-itself, and is not subordinate to the principle of sufficient reason, the form of all object; thus is not determined as a consequent through any reason, knows no necessity, i.e., is free. The concept of freedom is thus properly a negative concept, for its content is merely the denial of necessity, i.e., the relation of consequent to its reason, according to the principle of sufficient reason. Now here lies before us in its most distinct form the solution of that great contradiction, the union of freedom with necessity, which has so often been discussed in recent times, yet, so far as I know, never clearly and adequately. Everything is as phenomenon, as object, absolutely necessary: in itself it is will, which is perfectly free to all eternity. The phenomenon, the object, is necessarily and unalterably determined in that chain of causes and effects which admits of no interruption. But the existence in general of this object, and its specific nature, i.e., the Idea which reveals itself in it, or, in other words, its character, is a direct manifestation of will. Thus, in conformity with the freedom of this will, the object might not be at all, or it might be originally and essentially something quite different from what it is, in which case, however, the whole chain of which it is a link, and which is itself a manifestation of the same will, would be quite different also. But once there and existing, it has entered the chain of causes and effects, is always necessarily determined in it, and can, therefore, neither become something else, i.e., change itself, nor yet escape from the chain, i.e., vanish. Man, like every other part of Nature, is objectivity of the will; therefore all that has been said holds good of him. As everything in Nature has its forces and qualities, which react in a definite way when definitely affected, and constitute its character, man also has his character, from which the motives call forth his actions with necessity. In this manner of conduct his empirical character reveals itself, but in this again his intelligible character, the will in itself, whose determined phenomenon he is. But man is the most complete phenomenon of will, and, as we explained in the Second Book, he had to be enlightened with so high a degree of knowledge in order to maintain himself in existence, that in it a perfectly adequate copy or repetition of the nature of the world under the form of the idea became possible: this is the comprehension of the Ideas, the pure mirror of the world, as we learnt in the Third Book. Thus in man the will can attain to full self-consciousness, to distinct and exhaustive knowledge of its own nature, as it mirrors itself in the whole world. We saw in the preceding book that art springs from the actual presence of this degree of knowledge; and at the end of our whole work it will further appear that, through the same knowledge, in that the will relates it to itself, a suppression and self-denial of the will in its most perfect manifestation is possible. So that the freedom which otherwise, as belonging to the thing-in-itself, can never show itself in the phenomenon, in such a case does also appear in it, and, by abolishing the nature which lies at the foundation of the phenomenon, while the latter itself still continues to exist in time, it brings about a contradiction of the phenomenon with itself, and in this way exhibits the phenomena of holiness and self-renunciation. But all this can only be fully understood at the end of this book. What has just been said merely affords a preliminary and general indication of how man is distinguished from all the other phenomena of will by the fact that freedom, i.e., independence of the principle of sufficient reason, which only belongs to the will as thing-in-itself, and contradicts the phenomenon, may yet possibly, in his case, appear in the phenomenon also, where, however, it necessarily exhibits itself as a contradiction of the phenomenon with itself. In this sense, not only the will in itself, but man also may certainly be called free, and thus distinguished from all other beings. But how this is to be understood can only become clear through all that is to follow, and for the present we must turn away from it altogether. For, in the first place, we must beware of the error that the action of the individual definite man is subject to no necessity, i.e., that the power of the motive is less certain than the power of the cause, or the following of the conclusion from the premises. The freedom of the will as thing-in-itself, if, as has been said, we abstract from the entirely exceptional case mentioned above, by no means extends directly to its phenomenon, not even in the case in which this reaches the highest made of its visibility, and thus does not extend to the rational animal endowed with individual character, i.e., the person. The person is never free although he is the phenomenon of a free will; for he is already the determined phenomenon of the free volition of this will, and, because he enters the form of every object, the principle of sufficient reason, he develops indeed the unity of that will in a multiplicity of actions, but on account of the timeless unity of that volition in itself, this multiplicity exhibits in itself the regular conformity to law of a force of Nature. Since, however, it is that free volition that becomes visible in the person and the whole of his conduct, relating itself to him as the concept to the definition, every individual action of the person is to be ascribed to the free will, and directly proclaims itself as such in consciousness. Therefore, as was said in the Second Book, every one regards himself a priori (i.e., here in this original feeling) as free in his individual actions, in the sense that in every given case every action is possible for him, and he only recognises a posteriori from experience and reflection upon experience that his actions take place with absolute necessity from the coincidence of his character with his motives. Hence it arises that every uncultured man, following his feeling, ardently defends complete freedom in particular actions, while the great thinkers of all ages, and indeed the more profound systems of religion, have denied it. But whoever has come to see clearly that the whole nature of man is will, and he himself only a phenomenon of this will, and that such a phenomenon has, even from the subject itself, the principle of sufficient reason as its necessary form, which here appears as the law of motivation,—such a man will regard it as just as absurd to doubt the inevitable nature of an action when the motive is presented to a given character, as to doubt that the three angles of any triangle are together equal to two right angles. Priestley has very sufficiently proved the necessity of the individual action in his “Doctrine of Philosophical Necessity;” but Kant, whose merit in this respect is specially great, first proved the coexistence of this necessity with the freedom of the will in itself, i.e., apart from the phenomenon, by establishing the distinction between the intelligible and the empirical character. I entirely adhere to this distinction, for the former is the will as thing-in-itself so far as it appears in a definite individual in a definite grade, and the latter is this phenomenon itself as it exhibits itself in time in the mode of action, and in space in the physical structure. In order to make the relation of the two comprehensible, the best expression is that which I have already used in the introductory essay, that the intelligible character of every man is to be regarded as an act of will outside time, and therefore indivisible and unchangeable, and the manifestation of this act of will developed and broken up in time and space and all the forms of the principle of sufficient reason is the empirical character as it exhibits itself for experience in the whole conduct and life of this man. As the whole tree is only the constantly repeated manifestation of one and the same tendency, which exhibits itself in its simplest form in the fibre, and recurs and is easily recognised in the construction of the leaf, shoot, branch, and trunk, so all a man's deeds are merely the constantly repeated expression, somewhat varied in form, of his intelligible character, and the induction based on the sum of all these expressions gives us his empirical character. For the rest, I shall not at this point repeat in my own words Kant's masterly exposition, but presuppose it as known.
In the year 1840 I dealt with the important chapter on the freedom of the will, thoroughly and in detail, in my crowned prize-essay upon the subject, and exposed the reason of the delusion which led men to imagine that they found an empirically given absolute freedom of the will, that is to say, a liberum arbitrium indifferentiæ, as a fact in self-consciousness; for the question propounded for the essay was with great insight directed to this point. Therefore, as I refer the reader to that work, and also to the tenth paragraph of the prize-essay on the basis of morals, which was published along with it under the title “The Two Fundamental Problems of Ethics,” I now omit the incomplete exposition of the necessity of the act of will, which was given at this place in the first edition. Instead of it I shall explain the delusion mentioned above in a brief discussion which is presupposed in the nineteenth chapter of the supplement to the present work, and therefore could not be given in the prize-essay referred to.
Apart from the fact that the will as the true thing-in-itself is actually original and independent, and that the feeling of its originality and absoluteness must accompany its acts in self-consciousness, though here they are already determined, there arises the illusion of an empirical freedom of the will (instead of the transcendental freedom which alone is to be attributed to it), and thus a freedom of its particular actions, from that attitude of the intellect towards the will which is explained, separated, and subordinated in the nineteenth chapter of the supplement, especially under No. 3. The intellect knows the conclusions of the will only a posteriori and empirically; therefore when a choice is presented, it has no data as to how the will is to decide. For the intelligible character, by virtue of which, when motives are given, only one decision is possible and is therefore necessary, does not come within the knowledge of the intellect, but merely the empirical character is known to it through the succession of its particular acts. Therefore it seems to the intellect that in a given case two opposite decisions are possible for the will. But this is just the same thing as if we were to say of a perpendicular beam that has lost its balance, and is hesitating which way to fall, “It can fall either to the right hand or the left.” This can has merely a subjective significance, and really means “as far as the data known to us are concerned.” Objectively, the direction of the fall is necessarily determined as soon as the equilibrium is lost. Accordingly, the decision of one's own will is undetermined only to the beholder, one's own intellect, and thus merely relatively and subjectively for the subject of knowing. In itself and objectively, on the other hand, in every choice presented to it, its decision is at once determined and necessary. But this determination only comes into consciousness through the decision that follows upon it. Indeed, we receive an empirical proof of this when any difficult and important choice lies before us, but only under a condition which is not yet present, but merely hoped for, so that in the meanwhile we can do nothing, but must remain passive. Now we consider how we shall decide when the circumstances occur that will give us a free activity and choice. Generally the foresight of rational deliberation recommends one decision, while direct inclination leans rather to the other. So long as we are compelled to remain passive, the side of reason seems to wish to keep the upper hand; but we see beforehand how strongly the other side will influence us when the opportunity for action arises. Till then we are eagerly concerned to place the motives on both sides in the clearest light, by calm meditation on the pro et contra, so that every motive may exert its full influence upon the will when the time arrives, and it may not be misled by a mistake on the part of the intellect to decide otherwise than it would have done if all the motives had their due influence upon it. But this distinct unfolding of the motives on both sides is all that the intellect can do to assist the choice. It awaits the real decision just as passively and with the same intense curiosity as if it were that of a foreign will. Therefore from its point of view both decisions must seem to it equally possible; and this is just the illusion of the empirical freedom of the will. Certainly the decision enters the sphere of the intellect altogether empirically, as the final conclusion of the matter; but yet it proceeded from the inner nature, the intelligible character, of the individual will in its conflict with given motives, and therefore with complete necessity. The intellect can do nothing more than bring out clearly and fully the nature of the motives; it cannot determine the will itself; for the will is quite inaccessible to it, and, as we have seen, cannot be investigated.
If, under the same circumstances, a man could act now one way and now another, it would be necessary that his will itself should have changed in the meantime, and thus that it should lie in time, for change is only possible in time; but then either the will would be a mere phenomenon, or time would be a condition of the thing-in-itself. Accordingly the dispute as to the freedom of the particular action, the liberum arbitrium indifferentiæ, really turns on the question whether the will lies in time or not. If, as both Kant's doctrine and the whole of my system necessitates, the will is the thing-in-itself outside time and outside every form of the principle of sufficient reason, not only must the individual act in the same way in the same circumstances, and not only must every bad action be the sure warrant of innumerable others, which the individual must perform and cannot leave, but, as Kant said, if only the empirical character and the motives were completely given, it would be possible to calculate the future conduct of a man just as we can calculate an eclipse of the sun or moon. As Nature is consistent, so is the character; every action must take place in accordance with it, just as every phenomenon takes place according to a law of Nature: the causes in the latter case and the motives in the former are merely the occasional causes, as was shown in the Second Book. The will, whose phenomenon is the whole being and life of man, cannot deny itself in the particular case, and what the man wills on the whole, that will he also will in the particular case.
The assertion of an empirical freedom of the will, a liberum arbitrium indifferentiæ, agrees precisely with the doctrine that places the inner nature of man in a soul, which is originally a knowing, and indeed really an abstract thinking nature, and only in consequence of this a willing nature—a doctrine which thus regards the will as of a secondary or derivative nature, instead of knowledge which is really so. The will indeed came to be regarded as an act of thought, and to be identified with the judgment, especially by Descartes and Spinoza. According to this doctrine every man must become what he is only through his knowledge; he must enter the world as a moral cipher come to know the things in it, and thereupon determine to be this or that, to act thus or thus, and may also through new knowledge achieve a new course of action, that is to say, become another person. Further, he must first know a thing to be good, and in consequence of this will it, instead of first willing it, and in consequence of this calling it good. According to my fundamental point of view, all this is a reversal of the true relation. Will is first and original; knowledge is merely added to it as an instrument belonging to the phenomenon of will. Therefore every man is what he is through his will, and his character is original, for willing is the basis of his nature. Through the knowledge which is added to it he comes to know in the course of experience what he is, i.e., he learns his character. Thus he knows himself in consequence of and in accordance with the nature of his will, instead of willing in consequence of and in accordance with his knowing. According to the latter view, he would only require to consider how he would like best to be, and he would be it; that is its doctrine of the freedom of the will. Thus it consists really in this, that a man is his own work guided by the light of knowledge. I, on the contrary, say that he is his own work before all knowledge, and knowledge is merely added to it to enlighten it. Therefore he cannot resolve to be this or that, nor can he become other than he is; but he is once for all, and he knows in the course of experience what he is. According to one doctrine he wills what he knows, and according to the other he knows what he wills.
The Greeks called the character ηθος, and its expression, i.e., morals, ηθη. But this word comes from εθος, custom; they chose it in order to express metaphorically the constancy of character through the constancy of custom. Το γαρ ηθος απο του εθους εχει την επωνυμιαν. ηθικε γαρ καλειται δια το εθιζεσθαι (a voce ηθος, i.e., consuetudo ηθος est appellatum: ethica ergo dicta est απο του εθιζεσθαι, sivi ab assuescendo) says Aristotle (Eth. Magna, i. 6, p. 1186, and Eth. Eud., p. 1220, and Eth. Nic., p. 1103, ed. Ber.) Stobæus quotes: οἱ δε κατα Ζηνωνα τροπικως; ηθος εστι πηγη βιου αφ᾽ ἡς αἱ κατα μερος πραξεις ρεουσι (Stoici autem, Zenonis castra sequentes, metaphorice ethos definiunt vitæ fontem, e quo singulæ manant actiones), ii. ch. 7. In Christian theology we find the dogma of predestination in consequence of election and non-election (Rom. ix. 11-24), clearly originating from the knowledge that man does not change himself, but his life and conduct, i.e., his empirical character, is only the unfolding of his intelligible character, the development of decided and unchangeable natural dispositions recognisable even in the child; therefore, as it were, even at his birth his conduct is firmly determined, and remains essentially the same to the end. This we entirely agree with; but certainly the consequences which followed from the union of this perfectly correct insight with the dogmas that already existed in Jewish theology, and which now gave rise to the great difficulty, the Gordian knot upon which most of the controversies of the Church turned, I do not undertake to defend, for even the Apostle Paul scarcely succeeded in doing so by means of his simile of the potter's vessels which he invented for the purpose, for the result he finally arrived at was nothing else than this:—
Fear the gods!
They hold the power
In everlasting hands:
And they can use it
As seems good to them.
Such considerations, however, are really foreign to our subject. Some explanation as to the relation between the character and the knowledge in which all its motives lie, will now be more to the point.
The motives which determine the manifestation of the character or conduct influence it through the medium of knowledge. But knowledge is changeable, and often vacillates between truth and error, yet, as a rule, is rectified more and more in the course of life, though certainly in very different degrees. Therefore the conduct of a man may be observably altered without justifying us in concluding that his character has been changed. What the man really and in general wills, the striving of his inmost nature, and the end he pursues in accordance with it, this we can never change by influence upon him from without by instruction, otherwise we could transform him. Seneca says admirably, velle non discitur; whereby he preferred truth to his Stoic philosophers, who taught διδακτην ειναι την αρετην (doceri posse virtutem). From without the will can only be affected by motives. But these can never change the will itself; for they have power over it only under the presupposition that it is precisely such as it is. All that they can do is thus to alter the direction of its effort, i.e., bring it about that it shall seek in another way than it has hitherto done that which it invariably seeks. Therefore instruction, improved knowledge, in other words, influence from without, may indeed teach the will that it erred in the means it employed, and can therefore bring it about that the end after which it strives once for all according to its inner nature shall be pursued on an entirely different path and in an entirely different object from what has hitherto been the case. But it can never bring about that the will shall will something actually different from what it has hitherto willed; this remains unchangeable, for the will is simply this willing itself, which would have to be abolished. The former, however, the possible modification of knowledge, and through knowledge of conduct, extends so far that the will seeks to attain its unalterable end, for example, Mohammed's paradise, at one time in the real world, at another time in a world of imagination, adapting the means to each, and thus in the first case applying prudence, might, and fraud, and in the second case, abstinence, justice, alms, and pilgrimages to Mecca. But its effort itself has not therefore changed, still less the will itself. Thus, although its action certainly shows itself very different at different times, its willing has yet remained precisely the same. Velle non discitur.
For motives to act, it is necessary not only that they should be present, but that they should be known; for, according to a very good expression of the schoolmen, which we referred to once before, causa finalis movet non secundum suum esse reale; sed secundum esse cognitum. For example, in order that the relation may appear that exists in a given man between egoism and sympathy, it is not sufficient that he should possess wealth and see others in want, but he must also know what he can do with his wealth, both for himself and for others: not only must the suffering of others be presented to him, but he must know both what suffering and also what pleasure is. Perhaps, on a first occasion, he did not know all this so well as on a second; and if, on a similar occasion, he acts differently, this arises simply from the fact that the circumstances were really different, as regards the part of them that depends on his knowing them, although they seem to be the same. As ignorance of actually existing circumstances robs them of their influence, so, on the other hand, entirely imaginary circumstances may act as if they were real, not only in the case of a particular deception, but also in general and continuously. For example, if a man is firmly persuaded that every good action will be repaid him a hundredfold in a future life, such a conviction affects him in precisely the same way as a good bill of exchange at a very long date, and he can give from mere egoism, as from another point of view he would take from egoism. He has not changed himself: velle non discitur. It is on account of this great influence of knowledge upon action, while the will remains unchangeable, that the character develops and its different features appear only little by little. Therefore it shows itself different at every period of life, and an impetuous, wild youth may be succeeded by a staid, sober, manly age. Especially what is bad in the character will always come out more strongly with time, yet sometimes it occurs that passions which a man gave way to in his youth are afterwards voluntarily restrained, simply because the motives opposed to them have only then come into knowledge. Hence, also, we are all innocent to begin with, and this merely means that neither we nor others know the evil of our own nature; it only appears with the motives, and only in time do the motives appear in knowledge. Finally we come to know ourselves as quite different from what a priori we supposed ourselves to be, and then we are often terrified at ourselves.
Repentance never proceeds from a change of the will (which is impossible), but from a change of knowledge. The essential and peculiar in what I have always willed I must still continue to will; for I myself am this will which lies outside time and change. I can therefore never repent of what I have willed, though I can repent of what I have done; because, led by false conceptions, I did something that was not in conformity with my will. The discovery of this through fuller knowledge is repentance. This extends not merely to worldly wisdom, to the choice of the means, and the judgment of the appropriateness of the end to my own will, but also to what is properly ethical. For example, I may have acted more egotistically than is in accordance with my character, led astray by exaggerated ideas of the need in which I myself stood, or of the craft, falseness, and wickedness of others, or because I hurried too much, i.e., acted without deliberation, determined not by motives distinctly known in abstracto, but by merely perceived motives, by the present and the emotion which it excited, and which was so strong that I had not properly the use of my reason; but the return of reflection is thus here also merely corrected knowledge, and from this repentance may proceed, which always proclaims itself by making amends for the past, as far as is possible. Yet it must be observed that, in order to deceive themselves, men prearrange what seem to be hasty errors, but are really secretly considered actions. For we deceive and flatter no one through such fine devices as ourselves. The converse of the case we have given may also occur. I may be misled by too good an opinion of others, or want of knowledge of the relative value of the good things of life, or some abstract dogma in which I have since lost faith, and thus I may act less egotistically than is in keeping with my character, and lay up for myself repentance of another kind. Thus repentance is always corrected knowledge of the relation of an act to its special intention. When the will reveals its Ideas in space alone, i.e., through mere form, the matter in which other Ideas—in this case natural forces—already reign, resists the will, and seldom allows the form that is striving after visibility to appear in perfect purity and distinctness, i.e., in perfect beauty. And there is an analogous hindrance to the will as it reveals itself in time alone, i.e., through actions, in the knowledge which seldom gives it the data quite correctly, so that the action which takes place does not accurately correspond to the will, and leads to repentance. Repentance thus always proceeds from corrected knowledge, not from the change of the will, which is impossible. Anguish of conscience for past deeds is anything but repentance. It is pain at the knowledge of oneself in one's inmost nature, i.e., as will. It rests precisely on the certainty that we have still the same will. If the will were changed, and therefore the anguish of conscience mere repentance, it would cease to exist. The past could then no longer give us pain, for it exhibited the expressions of a will which is no longer that of him who has repented. We shall explain the significance of anguish of conscience in detail farther on.
The influence which knowledge, as the medium of motives, exerts, not indeed upon the will itself, but upon its appearance in actions, is also the source of the principal distinction between the action of men and that of brutes, for their methods of knowledge are different. The brute has only knowledge of perception, the man, through reason, has also abstract ideas, conceptions. Now, although man and brute are with equal necessity determined by their motives, yet man, as distinguished from the brute, has a complete choice, which has often been regarded as a freedom of the will in particular actions, although it is nothing but the possibility of a thoroughly-fought-out battle between several motives, the strongest of which then determines it with necessity. For this the motives must have assumed the form of abstract thoughts, because it is really only by means of these that deliberation, i.e., a weighing of opposite reasons for action, is possible. In the case of the brute there can only be a choice between perceptible motives presented to it, so that the choice is limited to the narrow sphere of its present sensuous perception. Therefore the necessity of the determination of the will by the motive, which is like that of the effect by the cause, can be exhibited perceptibly and directly only in the case of the brutes, because here the spectator has the motives just as directly before his eyes as their effect; while in the case of man the motives are almost always abstract ideas, which are not communicated to the spectator, and even for the actor himself the necessity of their effect is hidden behind their conflict. For only in abstracto can several ideas, as judgments and chains of conclusions, lie beside each other in consciousness, and then, free from all determination of time, work against each other till the stronger overcomes the rest and determines the will. This is the complete choice or power of deliberation which man has as distinguished from the brutes, and on account of which freedom of the will has been attributed to him, in the belief that his willing is a mere result of the operations of his intellect, without a definite tendency which serves as its basis; while, in truth, the motives only work on the foundation and under the presupposition of his definite tendency, which in his case is individual, i.e., a character. A fuller exposition of this power of deliberation, and the difference between human and brute choice which is introduced by it, will be found in the “Two Fundamental Problems of Ethics” (1st edition, p. 35, et seq.; 2d edition, p. 34, et seq.), to which I therefore refer. For the rest, this power of deliberation which man possesses is one of those things that makes his existence so much more miserable than that of the brute. For in general our greatest sufferings do not lie in the present as ideas of perception or as immediate feelings; but in the reason, as abstract conceptions, painful thoughts, from which the brute, which lives only in the present, and therefore in enviable carelessness, is entirely free.
It seems to have been the dependence, which we have shown, of the human power of deliberation upon the faculty of abstract thinking, and thus also of judging and drawing conclusions also, that led both Descartes and Spinoza to identify the decisions of the will with the faculty of asserting and denying (the faculty of judgment). From this Descartes deduced the doctrine that the will, which, according to him, is indifferently free, is the source of sin, and also of all theoretical error. And Spinoza, on the other hand, concluded that the will is necessarily determined by the motives, as the judgment is by the reasons. The latter doctrine is in a sense true, but it appears as a true conclusion from false premises.
The distinction we have established between the ways in which the brutes and man are respectively moved by motives exerts a very wide influence upon the nature of both, and has most to do with the complete and obvious differences of their existence. While an idea of perception is in every case the motive which determines the brute, the man strives to exclude this kind of motivation altogether, and to determine himself entirely by abstract ideas. Thus he uses his prerogative of reason to the greatest possible advantage. Independent of the present, he neither chooses nor avoids the passing pleasure or pain, but reflects on the consequences of both. In most cases, setting aside quite insignificant actions, we are determined by abstract, thought motives, not present impressions. Therefore all particular privation for the moment is for us comparatively light, but all renunciation is terribly hard; for the former only concerns the fleeting present, but the latter concerns the future, and includes in itself innumerable privations, of which it is the equivalent. The causes of our pain, as of our pleasure, lie for the most part, not in the real present, but merely in abstract thoughts. It is these which are often unbearable to us—inflict torments in comparison with which all the sufferings of the animal world are very small; for even our own physical pain is not felt at all when they are present. Indeed, in the case of keen mental suffering, we even inflict physical suffering on ourselves merely to distract our attention from the former to the latter. This is why, in great mental anguish, men tear their hair, beat their breasts, lacerate their faces, or roll on the floor, for all these are in reality only violent means of diverting the mind from an unbearable thought. Just because mental pain, being much greater, makes us insensible to physical pain, suicide is very easy to the person who is in despair, or who is consumed by morbid depression, even though formerly, in comfortable circumstances, he recoiled at the thought of it. In the same way care and passion (thus the play of thought) wear out the body oftener and more than physical hardships. And in accordance with this Epictetus rightly says: Ταρασσει τους ανθρωπους ου τα πραγματα, αλλα τα περι των πραγματων δογματα (Perturbant homines non res ipsæ, sed de rebus decreta) (V.); and Seneca: Plura sunt quæ nos terrent, quam quæ premunt, et sæpius opinione quam re laboramus (Ep. 5). Eulenspiegel also admirably bantered human nature, for going uphill he laughed, and going downhill he wept. Indeed, children who have hurt themselves often cry, not at the pain, but at the thought of the pain which is awakened when some one condoles with them. Such great differences in conduct and in life arise from the diversity between the methods of knowledge of the brutes and man. Further, the appearance of the distinct and decided individual character, the principal distinction between man and the brute, which has scarcely more than the character of the species, is conditioned by the choice between several motives, which is only possible through abstract conceptions. For only after a choice has been made are the resolutions, which vary in different individuals, an indication of the individual character which is different in each; while the action of the brute depends only upon the presence or absence of the impression, supposing this impression to be in general a motive for its species. And, finally, in the case of man, only the resolve, and not the mere wish, is a valid indication of his character both for himself and for others; but the resolve becomes for himself, as for others, a certain fact only through the deed. The wish is merely the necessary consequence of the present impression, whether of the outward stimulus, or the inward passing mood; and is therefore as immediately necessary and devoid of consideration as the action of the brutes. Therefore, like the action of the brutes, it merely expresses the character of the species, not that of the individual, i.e., it indicates merely what man in general, not what the individual who experiences the wish, is capable of doing. The deed alone,—because as human action it always requires a certain deliberation, and because as a rule a man has command of his reason, is considerate, i.e., decides in accordance with considered and abstract motives,—is the expression of the intelligible maxims of his conduct, the result of his inmost willing, and is related as a letter to the word that stands for his empirical character, itself merely the temporal expression of his intelligible character. In a healthy mind, therefore, only deeds oppress the conscience, not wishes and thoughts; for it is only our deeds that hold up to us the mirror of our will. The deed referred to above, that is entirely unconsidered and is really committed in blind passion, is to a certain extent an intermediate thing between the mere wish and the resolve.
Therefore, by true repentance, which, however, shows itself as action also, it can be obliterated, as a falsely drawn line, from that picture of our will which our course of life is. I may insert the remark here, as a very good comparison, that the relation between wish and deed has a purely accidental but accurate analogy with that between the accumulation and discharge of electricity.
As the result of the whole of this discussion of the freedom of the will and what relates to it, we find that although the will may, in itself and apart from the phenomenon, be called free and even omnipotent, yet in its particular phenomena enlightened by knowledge, as in men and brutes, it is determined by motives to which the special character regularly and necessarily responds, and always in the same way. We see that because of the possession on his part of abstract or rational knowledge, man, as distinguished from the brutes, has a choice, which only makes him the scene of the conflict of his motives, without withdrawing him from their control. This choice is therefore certainly the condition of the possibility of the complete expression of the individual character, but is by no means to be regarded as freedom of the particular volition, i.e., independence of the law of causality, the necessity of which extends to man as to every other phenomenon. Thus the difference between human volition and that of the brutes, which is introduced by reason or knowledge through concepts, extends to the point we have indicated, and no farther. But, what is quite a different thing, there may arise a phenomenon of the human will which is quite impossible in the brute creation, if man altogether lays aside the knowledge of particular things as such which is subordinate to the principle of sufficient reason, and by means of his knowledge of the Ideas sees through the principium individuationis. Then an actual appearance of the real freedom of the will as a thing-in-itself is possible, by which the phenomenon comes into a sort of contradiction with itself, as is indicated by the word self-renunciation; and, finally, the “in-itself” of its nature suppresses itself. But this, the one, real, and direct expression of the freedom of the will in itself in the phenomenon, cannot be distinctly explained here, but will form the subject of the concluding part of our work.
Now that we have shown clearly in these pages the unalterable nature of the empirical character, which is just the unfolding of the intelligible character that lies outside time, together with the necessity with which actions follow upon its contact with motives, we hasten to anticipate an argument which may very easily be drawn from this in the interest of bad dispositions. Our character is to be regarded as the temporal unfolding of an extra-temporal, and therefore indivisible and unalterable, act of will, or an intelligible character. This necessarily determines all that is essential in our conduct in life, i.e., its ethical content, which must express itself in accordance with it in its phenomenal appearance, the empirical character; while only what is unessential in this, the outward form of our course of life, depends upon the forms in which the motives present themselves. It might, therefore, be inferred that it is a waste of trouble to endeavour to improve one's character, and that it is wiser to submit to the inevitable, and gratify every inclination at once, even if it is bad. But this is precisely the same thing as the theory of an inevitable fate which is called αργος λογος, and in more recent times Turkish faith. Its true refutation, as it is supposed to have been given by Chrysippus, is explained by Cicero in his book De Fato, ch. 12, 13.
Though everything may be regarded as irrevocably predetermined by fate, yet it is so only through the medium of the chain of causes; therefore in no case can it be determined that an effect shall appear without its cause. Thus it is not simply the event that is predetermined, but the event as the consequence of preceding causes; so that fate does not decide the consequence alone, but also the means as the consequence of which it is destined to appear. Accordingly, if some means is not present, it is certain that the consequence also will not be present: each is always present in accordance with the determination of fate, but this is never known to us till afterwards.
As events always take place according to fate, i.e., according to the infinite concatenation of causes, so our actions always take place according to our intelligible character. But just as we do not know the former beforehand, so no a priori insight is given us into the latter, but we only come to know ourselves as we come to know other persons a posteriori through experience. If the intelligible character involved that we could only form a good resolution after a long conflict with a bad disposition, this conflict would have to come first and be waited for. Reflection on the unalterable nature of the character, on the unity of the source from which all our actions flow, must not mislead us into claiming the decision of the character in favour of one side or the other; it is in the resolve that follows that we shall see what manner of men we are, and mirror ourselves in our actions. This is the explanation of the satisfaction or the anguish of soul with which we look back on the course of our past life. Both are experienced, not because these past deeds have still an existence; they are past, they have been, and now are no more; but their great importance for us lies in their significance, lies in the fact that these deeds are the expression of the character, the mirror of the will, in which we look and recognise our inmost self, the kernel of our will. Because we experience this not before, but only after, it behoves us to strive and fight in time, in order that the picture we produce by our deeds may be such that the contemplation of it may calm us as much as possible, instead of harassing us. The significance of this consolation or anguish of soul will, as we have said, be inquired into farther on; but to this place there belongs the inquiry which follows, and which stands by itself.
Besides the intelligible and the empirical character, we must mention a third which is different from them both, the acquired character, which one only receives in life through contact with the world, and which is referred to when one is praised as a man of character or censured as being without character. Certainly one might suppose that, since the empirical character, as the phenomenon of the intelligible, is unalterable, and, like every natural phenomenon, is consistent with itself, man would always have to appear like himself and consistent, and would therefore have no need to acquire a character artificially by experience and reflection. But the case is otherwise, and although a man is always the same, yet he does not always understand himself, but often mistakes himself, till he has in some degree acquired real self-knowledge. The empirical character, as a mere natural tendency, is in itself irrational; nay, more, its expressions are disturbed by reason, all the more so the more intellect and power of thought the man has; for these always keep before him what becomes man in general as the character of the species, and what is possible for him both in will and in deed. This makes it the more difficult for him to see how much his individuality enables him to will and to accomplish. He finds in himself the germs of all the various human pursuits and powers, but the difference of degree in which they exist in his individuality is not clear to him in the absence of experience; and if he now applies himself to the pursuits which alone correspond to his character, he yet feels, especially at particular moments and in particular moods, the inclination to directly opposite pursuits which cannot be combined with them, but must be entirely suppressed if he desires to follow the former undisturbed. For as our physical path upon earth is always merely a line, not an extended surface, so in life, if we desire to grasp and possess one thing, we must renounce and leave innumerable others on the right hand and on the left. If we cannot make up our minds to this, but, like children at the fair, snatch at everything that attracts us in passing, we are making the perverse endeavour to change the line of our path into an extended surface; we run in a zigzag, skip about like a will o' the wisp, and attain to nothing. Or, to use another comparison, as, according to Hobbes' philosophy of law, every one has an original right to everything but an exclusive right to nothing, yet can obtain an exclusive right to particular things by renouncing his right to all the rest, while others, on their part, do likewise with regard to what he has chosen; so is it in life, in which some definite pursuit, whether it be pleasure, honour, wealth, science, art, or virtue, can only be followed with seriousness and success when all claims that are foreign to it are given up, when everything else is renounced. Accordingly, the mere will and the mere ability are not sufficient, but a man must also know what he wills, and know what he can do; only then will he show character, and only then can he accomplish something right. Until he attains to that, notwithstanding the natural consistency of the empirical character, he is without character. And although, on the whole, he must remain true to himself, and fulfil his course, led by his dæmon, yet his path will not be a straight line, but wavering and uneven. He will hesitate, deviate, turn back, lay up for himself repentance and pain. And all this is because, in great and small, he sees before him all that is possible and attainable for man in general, but does not know what part of all this is alone suitable for him, can be accomplished by him, and is alone enjoyable by him. He will, therefore, envy many men on account of a position and circumstances which are yet only suitable to their characters and not to his, and in which he would feel unhappy, if indeed he found them endurable at all. For as a fish is only at home in water, a bird in the air, a mole in the earth, so every man is only at home in the atmosphere suitable to him. For example, not all men can breathe the air of court life. From deficiency of proper insight into all this, many a man will make all kinds of abortive attempts, will do violence to his character in particulars, and yet, on the whole, will have to yield to it again; and what he thus painfully attains will give him no pleasure; what he thus learns will remain dead; even in an ethical regard, a deed that is too noble for his character, that has not sprung from pure, direct impulse, but from a concept, a dogma, will lose all merit, even in his own eyes, through subsequent egoistical repentance. Velle non discitur. We only become conscious of the inflexibility of another person's character through experience, and till then we childishly believe that it is possible, by means of rational ideas, by prayers and entreaties, by example and noble-mindedness, ever to persuade any one to leave his own way, to change his course of conduct, to depart from his mode of thinking, or even to extend his capacities: so is it also with ourselves. We must first learn from experience what we desire and what we can do. Till then we know it not, we are without character, and must often be driven back to our own way by hard blows from without. But if we have finally learnt it, then we have attained to what in the world is called character, the acquired character. This is accordingly nothing but the most perfect knowledge possible of our own individuality. It is the abstract, and consequently distinct, knowledge of the unalterable qualities of our own empirical character, and of the measure and direction of our mental and physical powers, and thus of the whole strength and weakness of our own individuality. This places us in a position to carry out deliberately and methodically the rôle which belongs to our own person, and to fill up the gaps which caprices or weaknesses produce in it, under the guidance of fixed conceptions. This rôle is in itself unchangeably determined once for all, but hitherto we have allowed it to follow its natural course without any rule. We have now brought to distinct conscious maxims which are always present to us the form of conduct which is necessarily determined by our own individual nature, and now we conduct it in accordance with them as deliberately as if we had learned it; without ever falling into error through the passing influence of the mood or the impression of the present, without being checked by the bitterness or sweetness of some particular thing we meet with on our path, without delay, without hesitation, without inconsistency. We shall now no longer, as novices, wait, attempt, and grope about in order to see what we really desire and are able to do, but we know this once for all, and in every choice we have only to apply general principles to particular cases, and arrive at once at a decision. We know our will in general, and do not allow ourselves to be led by the passing mood or by solicitations from without to resolve in particular cases what is contrary to it as a whole. We know in the same way the nature and the measure of our strength and our weakness, and thereby are spared much suffering. For we experience no real pleasure except in the use and feeling of our own powers, and the greatest pain is the conscious deficiency of our powers where we need them. If, now, we have discovered where our strength and our weakness lie, we will endeavour to cultivate, employ, and in every way make use of those talents which are naturally prominent in us. We will always turn to those occupations in which they are valuable and to the purpose, and entirely avoid, even with self-renunciation, those pursuits for which we have naturally little aptitude; we will beware of attempting that in which we have no chance of succeeding. Only he who has attained to this will constantly and with full consciousness be completely himself, and will never fail himself at the critical moment, because he will always have known what he could expect from himself. He will often enjoy the satisfaction of feeling his strength, and seldom experience the pain of being reminded of his weakness. The latter is mortification, which causes perhaps the greatest of mental sufferings; therefore it is far more endurable to have our misfortune brought clearly before us than our incapacity. And, further, if we are thus fully acquainted with our strength and our weakness, we will not attempt to make a show of powers which we do not possess; we will not play with base coin, for all such dissimulation misses the mark in the end. For since the whole man is only the phenomenon of his will, nothing can be more perverse than to try, by means of reflection, to become something else than one is, for this is a direct contradiction of the will with itself. The imitation of the qualities and idiosyncrasies of others is much more shameful than to dress in other people's clothes; for it is the judgment of our own worthlessness pronounced by ourselves. Knowledge of our own mind and its capacities of every kind, and their unalterable limits, is in this respect the surest way to the attainment of the greatest possible contentment with ourselves. For it holds good of inward as of outward circumstances that there is for us no consolation so effective as the complete certainty of unalterable necessity. No evil that befalls us pains us so much as the thought of the circumstances by which it might have been warded off. Therefore nothing comforts us so effectually as the consideration of what has happened from the standpoint of necessity, from which all accidents appear as tools in the hand of an overruling fate, and we therefore recognise the evil that has come to us as inevitably produced by the conflict of inner and outer circumstances; in other words, fatalism. We really only complain and storm so long as we hope either to affect others or to excite ourselves to unheard-of efforts. But children and grown-up people know very well to yield contentedly as soon as they clearly see that it absolutely cannot be otherwise:—Θυμὸν ἐνὶ στήθεσσι φίλον δαμάσσαντες ἀνάγκη (Animo in pectoribus nostro domito necessitate). We are like the entrapped elephants, that rage and struggle for many days, till they see that it is useless, and then suddenly offer their necks quietly to the yoke, tamed for ever. We are like King David, who, as long as his son still lived, unceasingly importuned Jehovah with prayers, and behaved himself as if in despair; but as soon as his son was dead, thought no longer about it. Hence it arises that innumerable permanent ills, such as lameness, poverty, low estate, ugliness, a disagreeable dwelling-place, are borne with indifference by innumerable persons, and are no longer felt, like healed wounds, just because these persons know that inward or outward necessity renders it impossible that any change can take place in these things; while those who are more fortunate cannot understand how such misfortunes can be borne. Now as with outward necessity, so also with inward; nothing reconciles so thoroughly as a distinct knowledge of it. If we have once for all distinctly recognised not only our good qualities and our strength, but also our defects and weakness, established our aim accordingly, and rest satisfied concerning what cannot be attained, we thus escape in the surest way, as far as our individuality permits, the bitterest of all sorrows, discontentment with ourselves, which is the inevitable result of ignorance of our own individuality, of false conceit and the audacity that proceeds from it. To the bitter chapter of the self-knowledge here recommended the lines of Ovid admit of excellent application—
Optimus ille animi vindex lædentia pectus,
Vincula qui rupit, dedoluitque semel.
So much with regard to the acquired character, which, indeed, is not of so much importance for ethics proper as for life in the world. But its investigation was related as that of a third species to the investigation of the intelligible and the empirical character, in regard to which we were obliged to enter upon a somewhat detailed inquiry in order to bring out clearly how in all its phenomena the will is subject to necessity, while yet in itself it may be called free and even omnipotent.
This freedom, this omnipotence, as the expression of which the whole visible world exists and progressively develops in accordance with the laws which belong to the form of knowledge, can now, at the point at which in its most perfect manifestation it has attained to the completely adequate knowledge of its own nature, express itself anew in two ways. Either it wills here, at the summit of mental endowment and self-consciousness, simply what it willed before blindly and unconsciously, and if so, knowledge always remains its motive in the whole as in the particular case. Or, conversely, this knowledge becomes for it a quieter, which appeases and suppresses all willing. This is that assertion and denial of the will to live which was stated above in general terms. As, in the reference of individual conduct, a general, not a particular manifestation of will, it does not disturb and modify the development of the character, nor does it find its expression in particular actions; but, either by an ever more marked appearance of the whole method of action it has followed hitherto, or conversely by the entire suppression of it, it expresses in a living form the maxims which the will has freely adopted in accordance with the knowledge it has now attained to. By the explanations we have just given of freedom, necessity, and character, we have somewhat facilitated and prepared the way for the clearer development of all this, which is the principal subject of this last book. But we shall have done so still more when we have turned our attention to life itself, the willing or not willing of which is the great question, and have endeavoured to find out generally what the will itself, which is everywhere the inmost nature of this life, will really attain by its assertion—in what way and to what extent this assertion satisfies or can satisfy the will; in short, what is generally and mainly to be regarded as its position in this its own world, which in every relation belongs to it.
First of all, I wish the reader to recall the passage with which we closed the Second Book,—a passage occasioned by the question, which met us then, as to the end and aim of the will. Instead of the answer to this question, it appeared clearly before us how, in all the grades of its manifestation, from the lowest to the highest, the will dispenses altogether with a final goal and aim. It always strives, for striving is its sole nature, which no attained goal can put an end to. Therefore it is not susceptible of any final satisfaction, but can only be restrained by hindrances, while in itself it goes on for ever. We see this in the simplest of all natural phenomena, gravity, which does not cease to strive and press towards a mathematical centre to reach which would be the annihilation both of itself and matter, and would not cease even if the whole universe were already rolled into one ball. We see it in the other simple natural phenomena. A solid tends towards fluidity either by melting or dissolving, for only so will its chemical forces be free; rigidity is the imprisonment in which it is held by cold. The fluid tends towards the gaseous state, into which it passes at once as soon as all pressure is removed from it. No body is without relationship, i.e., without tendency or without desire and longing, as Jacob Böhme would say. Electricity transmits its inner self-repulsion to infinity, though the mass of the earth absorbs the effect. Galvanism is certainly, so long as the pile is working, an aimless, unceasingly repeated act of repulsion and attraction. The existence of the plant is just such a restless, never satisfied striving, a ceaseless tendency through ever-ascending forms, till the end, the seed, becomes a new starting-point; and this repeated ad infinitum—nowhere an end, nowhere a final satisfaction, nowhere a resting-place. It will also be remembered, from the Second Book, that the multitude of natural forces and organised forms everywhere strive with each other for the matter in which they desire to appear, for each of them only possesses what it has wrested from the others; and thus a constant internecine war is waged, from which, for the most part, arises the resistance through which that striving, which constitutes the inner nature of everything, is at all points hindered; struggles in vain, yet, from its nature, cannot leave off; toils on laboriously till this phenomenon dies, when others eagerly seize its place and its matter.
We have long since recognised this striving, which constitutes the kernel and in-itself of everything, as identical with that which in us, where it manifests itself most distinctly in the light of the fullest consciousness, is called will. Its hindrance through an obstacle which places itself between it and its temporary aim we call suffering, and, on the other hand, its attainment of the end satisfaction, wellbeing, happiness. We may also transfer this terminology to the phenomena of the unconscious world, for though weaker in degree, they are identical in nature. Then we see them involved in constant suffering, and without any continuing happiness. For all effort springs from defect—from discontent with one's estate—is thus suffering so long as it is not satisfied; but no satisfaction is lasting, rather it is always merely the starting-point of a new effort. The striving we see everywhere hindered in many ways, everywhere in conflict, and therefore always under the form of suffering. Thus, if there is no final end of striving, there is no measure and end of suffering.
But what we only discover in unconscious Nature by sharpened observation, and with an effort, presents itself distinctly to us in the intelligent world in the life of animals, whose constant suffering is easily proved. But without lingering over these intermediate grades, we shall turn to the life of man, in which all this appears with the greatest distinctness, illuminated by the clearest knowledge; for as the phenomenon of will becomes more complete, the suffering also becomes more and more apparent. In the plant there is as yet no sensibility, and therefore no pain. A certain very small degree of suffering is experienced by the lowest species of animal life—infusoria and radiata; even in insects the capacity to feel and suffer is still limited. It first appears in a high degree with the complete nervous system of vertebrate animals, and always in a higher degree the more intelligence develops. Thus, in proportion as knowledge attains to distinctness, as consciousness ascends, pain also increases, and therefore reaches its highest degree in man. And then, again, the more distinctly a man knows, the more intelligent he is, the more pain he has; the man who is gifted with genius suffers most of all. In this sense, that is, with reference to the degree of knowledge in general, not mere abstract rational knowledge, I understand and use here that saying of the Preacher: Qui auget scientiam, auget at dolorem. That philosophical painter or painting philosopher, Tischbein, has very beautifully expressed the accurate relation between the degree of consciousness and that of suffering by exhibiting it in a visible and clear form in a drawing. The upper half of his drawing represents women whose children have been stolen, and who in different groups and attitudes, express in many ways deep maternal pain, anguish, and despair. The lower half of the drawing represents sheep whose lambs have been taken away. They are arranged and grouped in precisely the same way; so that every human head, every human attitude of the upper half, has below a brute head and attitude corresponding to it. Thus we see distinctly how the pain which is possible in the dull brute consciousness is related to the violent grief, which only becomes possible through distinctness of knowledge and clearness of consciousness.
We desire to consider in this way, in human existence, the inner and essential destiny of will. Every one will easily recognise that same destiny expressed in various degrees in the life of the brutes, only more weakly, and may also convince himself to his own satisfaction, from the suffering animal world, how essential to all life is suffering.
At every grade that is enlightened by knowledge, the will appears as an individual. The human individual finds himself as finite in infinite space and time, and consequently as a vanishing quantity compared with them. He is projected into them, and, on account of their unlimited nature, he has always a merely relative, never absolute when and where of his existence; for his place and duration are finite parts of what is infinite and boundless. His real existence is only in the present, whose unchecked flight into the past is a constant transition into death, a constant dying. For his past life, apart from its possible consequences for the present, and the testimony regarding the will that is expressed in it, is now entirely done with, dead, and no longer anything; and, therefore, it must be, as a matter of reason, indifferent to him whether the content of that past was pain or pleasure. But the present is always passing through his hands into the past; the future is quite uncertain and always short. Thus his existence, even when we consider only its formal side, is a constant hurrying of the present into the dead past, a constant dying. But if we look at it from the physical side; it is clear that, as our walking is admittedly merely a constantly prevented falling, the life of our body is only a constantly prevented dying, an ever-postponed death: finally, in the same way, the activity of our mind is a constantly deferred ennui. Every breath we draw wards off the death that is constantly intruding upon us. In this way we fight with it every moment, and again, at longer intervals, through every meal we eat, every sleep we take, every time we warm ourselves, &c. In the end, death must conquer, for we became subject to him through birth, and he only plays for a little while with his prey before he swallows it up. We pursue our life, however, with great interest and much solicitude as long as possible, as we blow out a soap-bubble as long and as large as possible, although we know perfectly well that it will burst.
We saw that the inner being of unconscious nature is a constant striving without end and without rest. And this appears to us much more distinctly when we consider the nature of brutes and man. Willing and striving is its whole being, which may be very well compared to an unquenchable thirst. But the basis of all willing is need, deficiency, and thus pain. Consequently, the nature of brutes and man is subject to pain originally and through its very being. If, on the other hand, it lacks objects of desire, because it is at once deprived of them by a too easy satisfaction, a terrible void and ennui comes over it, i.e., its being and existence itself becomes an unbearable burden to it. Thus its life swings like a pendulum backwards and forwards between pain and ennui. This has also had to express itself very oddly in this way; after man had transferred all pain and torments to hell, there then remained nothing over for heaven but ennui.
But the constant striving which constitutes the inner nature of every manifestation of will obtains its primary and most general foundation at the higher grades of objectification, from the fact that here the will manifests itself as a living body, with the iron command to nourish it; and what gives strength to this command is just that this body is nothing but the objectified will to live itself. Man, as the most complete objectification of that will, is in like measure also the most necessitous of all beings: he is through and through concrete willing and needing; he is a concretion of a thousand necessities. With these he stands upon the earth, left to himself, uncertain about everything except his own need and misery. Consequently the care for the maintenance of that existence under exacting demands, which are renewed every day, occupies, as a rule, the whole of human life. To this is directly related the second claim, that of the propagation of the species. At the same time he is threatened from all sides by the most different kinds of dangers, from which it requires constant watchfulness to escape. With cautious steps and casting anxious glances round him he pursues his path, for a thousand accidents and a thousand enemies lie in wait for him. Thus he went while yet a savage, thus he goes in civilised life; there is no security for him.
Qualibus in tenebris vitæ, quantisque periclis
Degitur hocc' ævi, quodcunque est!
- —Lucr. ii. 15.
The life of the great majority is only a constant struggle for this existence itself, with the certainty of losing it at last. But what enables them to endure this wearisome battle is not so much the love of life as the fear of death, which yet stands in the background as inevitable, and may come upon them at any moment. Life itself is a sea, full of rocks and whirlpools, which man avoids with the greatest care and solicitude, although he knows that even if he succeeds in getting through with all his efforts and skill, he yet by doing so comes nearer at every step to the greatest, the total, inevitable, and irremediable shipwreck, death; nay, even steers right upon it: this is the final goal of the laborious voyage, and worse for him than all the rocks from which he has escaped.
Now it is well worth observing that, on the one hand, the suffering and misery of life may easily increase to such an extent that death itself, in the flight from which the whole of life consists, becomes desirable, and we hasten towards it voluntarily; and again, on the other hand, that as soon as want and suffering permit rest to a man, ennui is at once so near that he necessarily requires diversion. The striving after existence is what occupies all living things and maintains them in motion. But when existence is assured, then they know not what to do with it; thus the second thing that sets them in motion is the effort to get free from the burden of existence, to make it cease to be felt, “to kill time,” i.e., to escape from ennui. Accordingly we see that almost all men who are secure from want and care, now that at last they have thrown off all other burdens, become a burden to themselves, and regard as a gain every hour they succeed in getting through; and thus every diminution of the very life which, till then, they have employed all their powers to maintain as long as possible. Ennui is by no means an evil to be lightly esteemed; in the end it depicts on the countenance real despair. It makes beings who love each other so little as men do, seek each other eagerly, and thus becomes the source of social intercourse. Moreover, even from motives of policy, public precautions are everywhere taken against it, as against other universal calamities. For this evil may drive men to the greatest excesses, just as much as its opposite extreme, famine: the people require panem et circenses. The strict penitentiary system of Philadelphia makes use of ennui alone as a means of punishment, through solitary confinement and idleness, and it is found so terrible that it has even led prisoners to commit suicide. As want is the constant scourge of the people, so ennui is that of the fashionable world. In middle-class life ennui is represented by the Sunday, and want by the six week-days.
Thus between desiring and attaining all human life flows on throughout. The wish is, in its nature, pain; the attainment soon begets satiety: the end was only apparent; possession takes away the charm; the wish, the need, presents itself under a new form; when it does not, then follows desolateness, emptiness, ennui, against which the conflict is just as painful as against want. That wish and satisfaction should follow each other neither too quickly nor too slowly reduces the suffering, which both occasion to the smallest amount, and constitutes the happiest life. For that which we might otherwise call the most beautiful part of life, its purest joy, if it were only because it lifts us out of real existence and transforms us into disinterested spectators of it—that is, pure knowledge, which is foreign to all willing, the pleasure of the beautiful, the true delight in art—this is granted only to a very few, because it demands rare talents, and to these few only as a passing dream. And then, even these few, on account of their higher intellectual power, are made susceptible of far greater suffering than duller minds can ever feel, and are also placed in lonely isolation by a nature which is obviously different from that of others; thus here also accounts are squared. But to the great majority of men purely intellectual pleasures are not accessible. They are almost quite incapable of the joys which lie in pure knowledge. They are entirely given up to willing. If, therefore, anything is to win their sympathy, to be interesting to them, it must (as is implied in the meaning of the word) in some way excite their will, even if it is only through a distant and merely problematical relation to it; the will must not be left altogether out of the question, for their existence lies far more in willing than in knowing,—action and reaction is their one element. We may find in trifles and everyday occurrences the naïve expressions of this quality. Thus, for example, at any place worth seeing they may visit, they write their names, in order thus to react, to affect the place since it does not affect them. Again, when they see a strange rare animal, they cannot easily confine themselves to merely observing it; they must rouse it, tease it, play with it, merely to experience action and reaction; but this need for excitement of the will manifests itself very specially in the discovery and support of card-playing, which is quite peculiarly the expression of the miserable side of humanity.
But whatever nature and fortune may have done, whoever a man be and whatever he may possess, the pain which is essential to life cannot be thrown off:—Πηλειδης δ᾽ ῳμωξεν, ιδων εις ουρανον ευρυν (Pelides autem ejulavit, intuitus in cælum latum). And again:—Ζηνος μεν παις ηα Κρονιονος, αυταρ οιζυν ειχον απειρεσιην (Jovis quidem filius eram Saturnii; verum ærumnam habebam infinitam). The ceaseless efforts to banish suffering accomplish no more than to make it change its form. It is essentially deficiency, want, care for the maintenance of life. If we succeed, which is very difficult, in removing pain in this form, it immediately assumes a thousand others, varying according to age and circumstances, such as lust, passionate love, jealousy, envy, hatred, anxiety, ambition, covetousness, sickness, &c., &c. If at last it can find entrance in no other form, it comes in the sad, grey garments of tediousness and ennui, against which we then strive in various ways. If finally we succeed in driving this away, we shall hardly do so without letting pain enter in one of its earlier forms, and the dance begin again from the beginning; for all human life is tossed backwards and forwards between pain and ennui. Depressing as this view of life is, I will draw attention, by the way, to an aspect of it from which consolation may be drawn, and perhaps even a stoical indifference to one's own present ills may be attained. For our impatience at these arises for the most part from the fact that we regard them as brought about by a chain of causes which might easily be different. We do not generally grieve over ills which are directly necessary and quite universal; for example, the necessity of age and of death, and many daily inconveniences. It is rather the consideration of the accidental nature of the circumstances that brought some sorrow just to us, that gives it its sting. But if we have recognised that pain, as such, is inevitable and essential to life, and that nothing depends upon chance but its mere fashion, the form under which it presents itself, that thus our present sorrow fills a place that, without it, would at once be occupied by another which now is excluded by it, and that therefore fate can affect us little in what is essential; such a reflection, if it were to become a living conviction, might produce a considerable degree of stoical equanimity, and very much lessen the anxious care for our own well-being. But, in fact, such a powerful control of reason over directly felt suffering seldom or never occurs.
Besides, through this view of the inevitableness of pain, of the supplanting of one pain by another, and the introduction of a new pain through the passing away of that which preceded it, one might be led to the paradoxical but not absurd hypothesis, that in every individual the measure of the pain essential to him was determined once for all by his nature, a measure which could neither remain empty, nor be more than filled, however much the form of the suffering might change. Thus his suffering and well-being would by no means be determined from without, but only through that measure, that natural disposition, which indeed might experience certain additions and diminutions from the physical condition at different times, but yet, on the whole, would remain the same, and would just be what is called the temperament, or, more accurately, the degree in which he might be ευκολος or δυσκολος, as Plato expresses it in the First Book of the Republic, i.e., in an easy or difficult mood. This hypothesis is supported not only by the well-known experience that great suffering makes all lesser ills cease to be felt, and conversely that freedom from great suffering makes even the most trifling inconveniences torment us and put us out of humour; but experience also teaches that if a great misfortune, at the mere thought of which we shuddered, actually befalls us, as soon as we have overcome the first pain of it, our disposition remains for the most part unchanged; and, conversely, that after the attainment of some happiness we have long desired, we do not feel ourselves on the whole and permanently very much better off and agreeably situated than before. Only the moment at which these changes occur affects us with unusual strength, as deep sorrow or exulting joy, but both soon pass away, for they are based upon illusion. For they do not spring from the immediately present pleasure or pain, but only from the opening up of a new future which is anticipated in them. Only by borrowing from the future could pain or pleasure be heightened so abnormally, and consequently not enduringly. It would follow, from the hypothesis advanced, that a large part of the feeling of suffering and of well-being would be subjective and determined a priori, as is the case with knowing; and we may add the following remarks as evidence in favour of it. Human cheerfulness or dejection are manifestly not determined by external circumstances, such as wealth and position, for we see at least as many glad faces among the poor as among the rich. Further, the motives which induce suicide are so very different, that we can assign no motive that is so great as to bring it about, even with great probability, in every character, and few that would be so small that the like of them had never caused it. Now although the degree of our serenity or sadness is not at all times the same, yet, in consequence of this view, we shall not attribute it to the change of outward circumstances, but to that of the inner condition, the physical state. For when an actual, though only temporary, increase of our serenity, even to the extent of joyfulness, takes place, it usually appears without any external occasion. It is true that we often see our pain arise only from some definite external relation, and are visibly oppressed and saddened by this only. Then we believe that if only this were taken away, the greatest contentment would necessarily ensue. But this is illusion. The measure of our pain and our happiness is on the whole, according to our hypothesis, subjectively determined for each point of time, and the motive for sadness is related to that, just as a blister which draws to a head all the bad humours otherwise distributed is related to the body. The pain which is at that period of time essential to our nature, and therefore cannot be shaken off, would, without the definite external cause of our suffering, be divided at a hundred points, and appear in the form of a hundred little annoyances and cares about things which we now entirely overlook, because our capacity for pain is already filled by that chief evil which has concentrated in a point all the suffering otherwise dispersed. This corresponds also to the observation that if a great and pressing care is lifted from our breast by its fortunate issue, another immediately takes its place, the whole material of which was already there before, yet could not come into consciousness as care because there was no capacity left for it, and therefore this material of care remained indistinct and unobserved in a cloudy form on the farthest horizon of consciousness. But now that there is room, this prepared material at once comes forward and occupies the throne of the reigning care of the day (πρυτανευουσα). And if it is very much lighter in its matter than the material of the care which has vanished, it knows how to blow itself out so as apparently to equal it in size, and thus, as the chief care of the day, completely fills the throne.
Excessive joy and very keen suffering always occur in the same person, for they condition each other reciprocally, and are also in common conditioned by great activity of the mind. Both are produced, as we have just seen, not by what is really present, but by the anticipation of the future. But since pain is essential to life, and its degree is also determined by the nature of the subject, sudden changes, because they are always external, cannot really alter its degree. Thus an error and delusion always lies at the foundation of immoderate joy or grief, and consequently both these excessive strainings of the mind can be avoided by knowledge. Every immoderate joy (exultatio, insolens lætitia) always rests on the delusion that one has found in life what can never be found there—lasting satisfaction of the harassing desires and cares, which are constantly breeding new ones. From every particular delusion of this kind one must inevitably be brought back later, and then when it vanishes must pay for it with pain as bitter as the joy its entrance caused was keen. So far, then, it is precisely like a height from which one can come down only by a fall. Therefore one ought to avoid them; and every sudden excessive grief is just a fall from some such height, the vanishing of such a delusion, and so conditioned by it. Consequently we might avoid them both if we had sufficient control over ourselves to survey things always with perfect clearness as a whole and in their connection, and steadfastly to guard against really lending them the colours which we wish they had. The principal effort of the Stoical ethics was to free the mind from all such delusion and its consequences, and to give it instead an equanimity that could not be disturbed. It is this insight that inspires Horace in the well-known ode—
Æquam memento rebus in arduiis
Servare mentem, non secus in bonis
- Ab insolenti temperatam
For the most part, however, we close our minds against the knowledge, which may be compared to a bitter medicine, that suffering is essential to life, and therefore does not flow in upon us from without, but that every one carries about with him its perennial source in his own heart. We rather seek constantly for an external particular cause, as it were, a pretext for the pain which never leaves us, just as the free man makes himself an idol, in order to have a master. For we unweariedly strive from wish to wish; and although every satisfaction, however much it promised, when attained fails to satisfy us, but for the most part comes presently to be an error of which we are ashamed, yet we do not see that we draw water with the sieve of the Danaides, but ever hasten to new desires.
Sed, dum abest quod avemus, id exsuperare videtur
Cætera; post aliud, quum contigit illud, avemus;
Et sitis æqua tenet vitai semper hiantes.
- —Lucr. iii. 1095.
Thus it either goes on for ever, or, what is more rare and presupposes a certain strength of character, till we reach a wish which is not satisfied and yet cannot be given up. In that case we have, as it were, found what we sought, something that we can always blame, instead of our own nature, as the source of our suffering. And thus, although we are now at variance with our fate, we are reconciled to our existence, for the knowledge is again put far from us that suffering is essential to this existence itself, and true satisfaction impossible. The result of this form of development is a somewhat melancholy disposition, the constant endurance of a single great pain, and the contempt for all lesser sorrows or joys that proceeds from it; consequently an already nobler phenomenon than that constant seizing upon ever-new forms of illusion, which is much more common.
All satisfaction, or what is commonly called happiness, is always really and essentially only negative, and never positive. It is not an original gratification coming to us of itself, but must always be the satisfaction of a wish. The wish, i.e., some want, is the condition which precedes every pleasure. But with the satisfaction the wish and therefore the pleasure cease. Thus the satisfaction or the pleasing can never be more than the deliverance from a pain, from a want; for such is not only every actual, open sorrow, but every desire, the importunity of which disturbs our peace, and, indeed, the deadening ennui also that makes life a burden to us. It is, however, so hard to attain or achieve anything; difficulties and troubles without end are opposed to every purpose, and at every step hindrances accumulate. But when finally everything is overcome and attained, nothing can ever be gained but deliverance from some sorrow or desire, so that we find ourselves just in the same position as we occupied before this sorrow or desire appeared. All that is even directly given us is merely the want, i.e., the pain. The satisfaction and the pleasure we can only know indirectly through the remembrance of the preceding suffering and want, which ceases with its appearance. Hence it arises that we are not properly conscious of the blessings and advantages we actually possess, nor do we prize them, but think of them merely as a matter of course, for they gratify us only negatively by restraining suffering. Only when we have lost them do we become sensible of their value; for the want, the privation, the sorrow, is the positive, communicating itself directly to us. Thus also we are pleased by the remembrance of past need, sickness, want, and such like, because this is the only means of enjoying the present blessings. And, further, it cannot be denied that in this respect, and from this standpoint of egoism, which is the form of the will to live, the sight or the description of the sufferings of others affords us satisfaction and pleasure in precisely the way Lucretius beautifully and frankly expresses it in the beginning of the Second Book—
Suave, mari magno, turbantibus æquora ventis,
E terra magnum alterius spectare laborem:
Non, quia vexari quemquam est jucunda voluptas;
Sed, quibus ipse malis careas, quia cernere suave est.
Yet we shall see farther on that this kind of pleasure, through knowledge of our own well-being obtained in this way, lies very near the source of real, positive wickedness.
That all happiness is only of a negative not a positive nature, that just on this account it cannot be lasting satisfaction and gratification, but merely delivers us from some pain or want which must be followed either by a new pain, or by languor, empty longing, and ennui; this finds support in art, that true mirror of the world and life, and especially in poetry. Every epic and dramatic poem can only represent a struggle, an effort, and fight for happiness, never enduring and complete happiness itself. It conducts its heroes through a thousand difficulties and dangers to the goal; as soon as this is reached, it hastens to let the curtain fall; for now there would remain nothing for it to do but to show that the glittering goal in which the hero expected to find happiness had only disappointed him, and that after its attainment he was no better off than before. Because a genuine enduring happiness is not possible, it cannot be the subject of art. Certainly the aim of the idyll is the description of such a happiness, but one also sees that the idyll as such cannot continue. The poet always finds that it either becomes epical in his hands, and in this case it is a very insignificant epic, made up of trifling sorrows, trifling delights, and trifling efforts—this is the commonest case—or else it becomes a merely descriptive poem, describing the beauty of nature, i.e., pure knowing free from will, which certainly, as a matter of fact, is the only pure happiness, which is neither preceded by suffering or want, nor necessarily followed by repentance, sorrow, emptiness, or satiety; but this happiness cannot fill the whole life, but is only possible at moments. What we see in poetry we find again in music; in the melodies of which we have recognised the universal expression of the inmost history of the self-conscious will, the most secret life, longing, suffering, and delight; the ebb and flow of the human heart. Melody is always a deviation from the keynote through a thousand capricious wanderings, even to the most painful discord, and then a final return to the keynote which expresses the satisfaction and appeasing of the will, but with which nothing more can then be done, and the continuance of which any longer would only be a wearisome and unmeaning monotony corresponding to ennui.
All that we intend to bring out clearly through these investigations, the impossibility of attaining lasting satisfaction and the negative nature of all happiness, finds its explanation in what is shown at the conclusion of the Second Book: that the will, of which human life, like every phenomenon, is the objectification, is a striving without aim or end. We find the stamp of this endlessness imprinted upon all the parts of its whole manifestation, from its most universal form, endless time and space, up to the most perfect of all phenomena, the life and efforts of man. We may theoretically assume three extremes of human life, and treat them as elements of actual human life. First, the powerful will, the strong passions (Radscha-Guna). It appears in great historical characters; it is described in the epic and the drama. But it can also show itself in the little world, for the size of the objects is measured here by the degree in which they influence the will, not according to their external relations. Secondly, pure knowing, the comprehension of the Ideas, conditioned by the freeing of knowledge from the service of will: the life of genius (Satwa-Guna). Thirdly and lastly, the greatest lethargy of the will, and also of the knowledge attaching to it, empty longing, life-benumbing languor (Tama-Guna). The life of the individual, far from becoming permanently fixed in one of these extremes, seldom touches any of them, and is for the most part only a weak and wavering approach to one or the other side, a needy desiring of trifling objects, constantly recurring, and so escaping ennui. It is really incredible how meaningless and void of significance when looked at from without, how dull and unenlightened by intellect when felt from within, is the course of the life of the great majority of men. It is a weary longing and complaining, a dream-like staggering through the four ages of life to death, accompanied by a series of trivial thoughts. Such men are like clockwork, which is wound up, and goes it knows not why; and every time a man is begotten and born, the clock of human life is wound up anew, to repeat the same old piece it has played innumerable times before, passage after passage, measure after measure, with insignificant variations. Every individual, every human being and his course of life, is but another short dream of the endless spirit of nature, of the persistent will to live; is only another fleeting form, which it carelessly sketches on its infinite page, space and time; allows to remain for a time so short that it vanishes into nothing in comparison with these, and then obliterates to make new room. And yet, and here lies the serious side of life, every one of these fleeting forms, these empty fancies, must be paid for by the whole will to live, in all its activity, with many and deep sufferings, and finally with a bitter death, long feared and coming at last. This is why the sight of a corpse makes us suddenly so serious.
The life of every individual, if we survey it as a whole and in general, and only lay stress upon its most significant features, is really always a tragedy, but gone through in detail, it has the character of a comedy. For the deeds and vexations of the day, the restless irritation of the moment, the desires and fears of the week, the mishaps of every hour, are all through chance, which is ever bent upon some jest, scenes of a comedy. But the never-satisfied wishes, the frustrated efforts, the hopes unmercifully crushed by fate, the unfortunate errors of the whole life, with increasing suffering and death at the end, are always a tragedy. Thus, as if fate would add derision to the misery of our existence, our life must contain all the woes of tragedy, and yet we cannot even assert the dignity of tragic characters, but in the broad detail of life must inevitably be the foolish characters of a comedy.
But however much great and small trials may fill human life, they are not able to conceal its insufficiency to satisfy the spirit; they cannot hide the emptiness and superficiality of existence, nor exclude ennui, which is always ready to fill up every pause that care may allow. Hence it arises that the human mind, not content with the cares, anxieties, and occupations which the actual world lays upon it, creates for itself an imaginary world also in the form of a thousand different superstitions, then finds all manner of employment with this, and wastes time and strength upon it, as soon as the real world is willing to grant it the rest which it is quite incapable of enjoying. This is accordingly most markedly the case with nations for which life is made easy by the congenial nature of the climate and the soil, most of all with the Hindus, then with the Greeks, the Romans, and later with the Italians, the Spaniards, &c. Demons, gods, and saints man creates in his own image; and to them he must then unceasingly bring offerings, prayers, temple decorations, vows and their fulfilment, pilgrimages, salutations, ornaments for their images, &c. Their service mingles everywhere with the real, and, indeed, obscures it. Every event of life is regarded as the work of these beings; the intercourse with them occupies half the time of life, constantly sustains hope, and by the charm of illusion often becomes more interesting than intercourse with real beings. It is the expression and symptom of the actual need of mankind, partly for help and support, partly for occupation and diversion; and if it often works in direct opposition to the first need, because when accidents and dangers arise valuable time and strength, instead of being directed to warding them off, are uselessly wasted on prayers and offerings; it serves the second end all the better by this imaginary converse with a visionary spirit world; and this is the by no means contemptible gain of all superstitions.
If we have so far convinced ourselves a priori, by the most general consideration, by investigation of the primary and elemental features of human life, that in its whole plan it is capable of no true blessedness, but is in its very nature suffering in various forms, and throughout a state of misery, we might now awaken this conviction much more vividly within us if, proceeding more a posteriori, we were to turn to more definite instances, call up pictures to the fancy, and illustrate by examples the unspeakable misery which experience and history present, wherever one may look and in whatever direction one may seek. But the chapter would have no end, and would carry us far from the standpoint of the universal, which is essential to philosophy; and, moreover, such a description might easily be taken for a mere declamation on human misery, such as has often been given, and, as such, might be charged with one-sidedness, because it started from particular facts. From such a reproach and suspicion our perfectly cold and philosophical investigation of the inevitable suffering which is founded in the nature of life is free, for it starts from the universal and is conducted a priori. But confirmation a posteriori is everywhere easily obtained. Every one who has awakened from the first dream of youth, who has considered his own experience and that of others, who has studied himself in life, in the history of the past and of his own time, and finally in the works of the great poets, will, if his judgment is not paralysed by some indelibly imprinted prejudice, certainly arrive at the conclusion that this human world is the kingdom of chance and error, which rule without mercy in great things and in small, and along with which folly and wickedness also wield the scourge. Hence it arises that everything better only struggles through with difficulty; what is noble and wise seldom attains to expression, becomes effective and claims attention, but the absurd and the perverse in the sphere of thought, the dull and tasteless in the sphere of art, the wicked and deceitful in the sphere of action, really assert a supremacy, only disturbed by short interruptions. On the other hand, everything that is excellent is always a mere exception, one case in millions, and therefore, if it presents itself in a lasting work, this, when it has outlived the enmity of its contemporaries, exists in isolation, is preserved like a meteoric stone, sprung from an order of things different from that which prevails here. But as far as the life of the individual is concerned, every biography is the history of suffering, for every life is, as a rule, a continual series of great and small misfortunes, which each one conceals as much as possible, because he knows that others can seldom feel sympathy or compassion, but almost always satisfaction at the sight of the woes from which they are themselves for the moment exempt. But perhaps at the end of life, if a man is sincere and in full possession of his faculties, he will never wish to have it to live over again, but rather than this, he will much prefer absolute annihilation. The essential content of the famous soliloquy in “Hamlet” is briefly this: Our state is so wretched that absolute annihilation would be decidedly preferable. If suicide really offered us this, so that the alternative “to be or not to be,” in the full sense of the word, was placed before us, then it would be unconditionally to be chosen as “a consummation devoutly to be wished.” But there is something in us which tells us that this is not the case: suicide is not the end; death is not absolute annihilation. In like manner, what was said by the father of history has not since him been contradicted, that no man has ever lived who has not wished more than once that he had not to live the following day. According to this, the brevity of life, which is so constantly lamented, may be the best quality it possesses. If, finally, we should bring clearly to a man's sight the terrible sufferings and miseries to which his life is constantly exposed, he would be seized with horror; and if we were to conduct the confirmed optimist through the hospitals, infirmaries, and surgical operating-rooms, through the prisons, torture-chambers, and slave-kennels, over battle-fields and places of execution; if we were to open to him all the dark abodes of misery, where it hides itself from the glance of cold curiosity, and, finally, allow him to glance into the starving dungeon of Ugolino, he, too, would understand at last the nature of this “best of possible worlds.” For whence did Dante take the materials for his hell but from this our actual world? And yet he made a very proper hell of it. And when, on the other hand, he came to the task of describing heaven and its delights, he had an insurmountable difficulty before him, for our world affords no materials at all for this. Therefore there remained nothing for him to do but, instead of describing the joys of paradise, to repeat to us the instruction given him there by his ancestor, by Beatrice, and by various saints. But from this it is sufficiently clear what manner of world it is. Certainly human life, like all bad ware, is covered over with a false lustre: what suffers always conceals itself; on the other hand, whatever pomp or splendour any one can get, he makes a show of openly, and the more inner contentment deserts him, the more he desires to exist as fortunate in the opinion of others: to such an extent does folly go, and the opinion of others is a chief aim of the efforts of every one, although the utter nothingness of it is expressed in the fact that in almost all languages vanity, vanitas, originally signifies emptiness and nothingness. But under all this false show, the miseries of life can so increase—and this happens every day—that the death which hitherto has been feared above all things is eagerly seized upon. Indeed, if fate will show its whole malice, even this refuge is denied to the sufferer, and, in the hands of enraged enemies, he may remain exposed to terrible and slow tortures without remedy. In vain the sufferer then calls on his gods for help; he remains exposed to his fate without grace. But this irremediableness is only the mirror of the invincible nature of his will, of which his person is the objectivity. As little as an external power can change or suppress this will, so little can a foreign power deliver it from the miseries which proceed from the life which is the phenomenal appearance of that will. In the principal matter, as in everything else, a man is always thrown back upon himself. In vain does he make to himself gods in order to get from them by prayers and flattery what can only be accomplished by his own will-power. The Old Testament made the world and man the work of a god, but the New Testament saw that, in order to teach that holiness and salvation from the sorrows of this world can only come from the world itself, it was necessary that this god should become man. It is and remains the will of man upon which everything depends for him. Fanatics, martyrs, saints of every faith and name, have voluntarily and gladly endured every torture, because in them the will to live had suppressed itself; and then even the slow destruction of its phenomenon was welcome to them. But I do not wish to anticipate the later exposition. For the rest, I cannot here avoid the statement that, to me, optimism, when it is not merely the thoughtless talk of such as harbour nothing but words under their low foreheads, appears not merely as an absurd, but also as a really wicked way of thinking, as a bitter mockery of the unspeakable suffering of humanity. Let no one think that Christianity is favourable to optimism; for, on the contrary, in the Gospels world and evil are used as almost synonymous.
We have now completed the two expositions it was necessary to insert; the exposition of the freedom of the will in itself together with the necessity of its phenomenon, and the exposition of its lot in the world which reflects its own nature, and upon the knowledge of which it has to assert or deny itself. Therefore we can now proceed to bring out more clearly the nature of this assertion and denial itself, which was referred to and explained in a merely general way above. This we shall do by exhibiting the conduct in which alone it finds its expression, and considering it in its inner significance.
The assertion of the will is the continuous willing itself, undisturbed by any knowledge, as it fills the life of man in general. For even the body of a man is the objectivity of the will, as it appears at this grade and in this individual. And thus his willing which develops itself in time is, as it were, a paraphrase of his body, an elucidation of the significance of the whole and its parts; it is another way of exhibiting the same thing-in-itself, of which the body is already the phenomenon. Therefore, instead of saying assertion of the will, we may say assertion of the body. The fundamental theme or subject of all the multifarious acts of will is the satisfaction of the wants which are inseparable from the existence of the body in health, they already have their expression in it, and may be referred to the maintenance of the individual and the propagation of the species. But indirectly the most different kinds of motives obtain in this way power over the will, and bring about the most multifarious acts of will. Each of these is only an example, an instance, of the will which here manifests itself generally. Of what nature this example may be, what form the motive may have and impart to it, is not essential; the important point here is that something is willed in general and the degree of intensity with which it is so willed. The will can only become visible in the motives, as the eye only manifests its power of seeing in the light. The motive in general stands before the will in protean forms. It constantly promises complete satisfaction, the quenching of the thirst of will. But whenever it is attained it at once appears in another form, and thus influences the will anew, always according to the degree of the intensity of this will, and its relation to knowledge which are revealed as empirical character, in these very examples and instances.
From the first appearance of consciousness, a man finds himself a willing being, and as a rule, his knowledge remains in constant relation to his will. He first seeks to know thoroughly the objects of his desire, and then the means of attaining them. Now he knows what he has to do, and, as a rule, he does not strive after other knowledge. He moves and acts; his consciousness keeps him always working directly and actively towards the aims of his will; his thought is concerned with the choice of motives. Such is life for almost all men; they wish, they know what they wish, and they strive after it, with sufficient success to keep them from despair, and sufficient failure to keep them from ennui and its consequences. From this proceeds a certain serenity, or at least indifference, which cannot be affected by wealth or poverty; for the rich and the poor do not enjoy what they have, for this, as we have shown, acts in a purely negative way, but what they hope to attain to by their efforts. They press forward with much earnestness, and indeed with an air of importance; thus children also pursue their play. It is always an exception if such a life suffers interruption from the fact that either the æsthetic demand for contemplation or the ethical demand for renunciation proceed from a knowledge which is independent of the service of the will, and directed to the nature of the world in general. Most men are pursued by want all through life, without ever being allowed to come to their senses. On the other hand, the will is often inflamed to a degree that far transcends the assertion of the body, and then violent emotions and powerful passions show themselves, in which the individual not only asserts his own existence, but denies and seeks to suppress that of others when it stands in his way.
The maintenance of the body through its own powers is so small a degree of the assertion of will, that if it voluntarily remains at this degree, we might assume that, with the death of this body, the will also which appeared in it would be extinguished. But even the satisfaction of the sexual passions goes beyond the assertion of one's own existence, which fills so short a time, and asserts life for an indefinite time after the death of the individual. Nature, always true and consistent, here even naïve, exhibits to us openly the inner significance of the act of generation. Our own consciousness, the intensity of the impulse, teaches us that in this act the most decided assertion of the will to live expresses itself, pure and without further addition (any denial of other individuals); and now, as the consequence of this act, a new life appears in time and the causal series, i.e., in nature; the begotten appears before the begetter, different as regards the phenomenon, but in himself, i.e., according to the Idea, identical with him. Therefore it is this act through which every species of living creature binds itself to a whole and is perpetuated. Generation is, with reference to the begetter, only the expression, the symptom, of his decided assertion of the will to live: with reference to the begotten, it is not the cause of the will which appears in him, for the will in itself knows neither cause nor effect, but, like all causes, it is merely the occasional cause of the phenomenal appearance of this will at this time in this place. As thing-in-itself, the will of the begetter and that of the begotten are not different, for only the phenomenon, not the thing-in-itself, is subordinate to the principim individuationis. With that assertion beyond our own body and extending to the production of a new body, suffering and death, as belonging to the phenomenon of life, have also been asserted anew, and the possibility of salvation, introduced by the completest capability of knowledge, has for this time been shown to be fruitless. Here lies the profound reason of the shame connected with the process of generation. This view is mythically expressed in the dogma of Christian theology that we are all partakers in Adam's first transgression (which is clearly just the satisfaction of sexual passion), and through it are guilty of suffering and death. In this theology goes beyond the consideration of things according to the principle of sufficient reason, and recognises the Idea of man, the unity of which is re-established out of its dispersion into innumerable individuals through the bond of generation which holds them all together. Accordingly it regards every individual as on one side identical with Adam, the representative of the assertion of life, and, so far, as subject to sin (original sin), suffering, and death; on the other side, the knowledge of the Idea of man enables it to regard every individual as identical with the saviour, the representative of the denial of the will to live, and, so far as a partaker of his sacrifice of himself, saved through his merits, and delivered from the bands of sin and death, i.e., the world (Rom. v. 12-21).
Another mythical exposition of our view of sexual pleasure as the assertion of the will to live beyond the individual life, as an attainment to life which is brought about for the first time by this means, or as it were a renewed assignment of life, is the Greek myth of Proserpine, who might return from the lower world so long as she had not tasted its fruit, but who became subject to it altogether through eating the pomegranate. This meaning appears very clearly in Goethe's incomparable presentation of this myth, especially when, as soon as she has tasted the pomegranate, the invisible chorus of the Fates—
- Thou art ours!
Fasting shouldest thou return:
And the bite of the apple makes thee ours!
It is worth noticing that Clement of Alexandria (Strom. iii. c. 15) illustrates the matter with the same image and the same expression: Οἱ μεν ευνουχισαντες ἑαυτους απο πασης ἁμαρτιας, δια την βασιλειαν, των ουρανων, μακαριοι οὑτοι εισιν, οἱ του κοσμου νηστευοντες; (Qui se castrarunt ab omni peccato propter regnum cœlorum, ii sunt beati, a mundo jejunantes).
The sexual impulse also proves itself the decided and strongest assertion of life by the fact that to man in a state of nature, as to the brutes, it is the final end, the highest goal of life. Self-maintenance is his first effort, and as soon as he has made provision for that, he only strives after the propagation of the species: as a merely natural being he can attempt no more. Nature also, the inner being of which is the will to live itself, impels with all her power both man and the brute towards propagation. Then it has attained its end with the individual, and is quite indifferent to its death, for, as the will to live, it cares only for the preservation of the species, the individual is nothing to it. Because the will to live expresses itself most strongly in the sexual impulse, the inner being of nature, the old poets and philosophers—Hesiod and Parmenides—said very significantly that Eros is the first, the creator, the principle from which all things proceed. (Cf. Arist. Metaph., i. 4.) Pherecydes said: Εις ερωτα μεταβεβλησθαι τον Δια, μελλοντα δημιουργειν (Jovem, cum mundum fabricare vellet, in cupidinem sese transformasse). Proclus ad Plat. Tim., l. iii. A complete treatment of this subject we have recently received from G. F. Schœmann, “De Cupidine Cosmogonico,” 1852. The Mâya of the Hindus, whose work and web is the whole world of illusion, is also symbolised by love.
The genital organs are, far more than any other external member of the body, subject merely to the will, and not at all to knowledge. Indeed, the will shows itself here almost as independent of knowledge, as in those parts which, acting merely in consequence of stimuli, are subservient to vegetative life and reproduction, in which the will works blindly as in unconscious nature. For generation is only reproduction passing over to a new individual, as it were reproduction at the second power, as death is only excretion at the second power. According to all this, the genitals are properly the focus of will, and consequently the opposite pole of the brain, the representative of knowledge, i.e., the other side of the world, the world as idea. The former are the life-sustaining principle ensuring endless life to time. In this respect they were worshipped by the Greeks in the phallus, and by the Hindus in the lingam, which are thus the symbol of the assertion of the will. Knowledge, on the other hand, affords the possibility of the suppression of willing, of salvation through freedom, of conquest and annihilation of the world.
We already considered fully at the beginning of this Fourth Book how the will to live in its assertion must regard its relation to death. We saw that death does not trouble it, because it exists as something included in life itself and belonging to it. Its opposite, generation, completely counterbalances it; and, in spite of the death of the individual, ensures and guarantees life to the will to live through all time. To express this the Hindus made the lingam an attribute of Siva, the god of death. We also fully explained there how he who with full consciousness occupies the standpoint of the decided assertion of life awaits death without fear. We shall therefore say nothing more about this here. Without clear consciousness most men occupy this standpoint and continually assert life. The world exists as the mirror of this assertion, with innumerable individuals in infinite time and space, in infinite suffering, between generation and death without end. Yet from no side is a complaint to be further raised about this; for the will conducts the great tragedy and comedy at its own expense, and is also its own spectator. The world is just what it is because the will, whose manifestation it is, is what it is, because it so wills. The justification of suffering is, that in this phenomenon also the will asserts itself; and this assertion is justified and balanced by the fact that the will bears the suffering. Here we get a glimpse of eternal justice in the whole: we shall recognise it later more definitely and distinctly, and also in the particular. But first we must consider temporal or human justice.
It may be remembered from the Second Book that in the whole of nature, at all the grades of the objectification of will, there was a necessary and constant conflict between the individuals of all species; and in this way was expressed the inner contradiction of the will to live with itself. At the highest grade of the objectification, this phenomenon, like all others, will exhibit itself with greater distinctness, and will therefore be more easily explained. With this aim we shall next attempt to trace the source of egoism as the starting-point of all conflict.
We have called time and space the principium individuationis, because only through them and in them is multiplicity of the homogeneous possible. They are the essential forms of natural knowledge, i.e., knowledge springing from the will. Therefore the will everywhere manifests itself in the multiplicity of individuals. But this multiplicity does not concern the will as thing-in-itself, but only its phenomena. The will itself is present, whole and undivided, in every one of these, and beholds around it the innumerably repeated image of its own nature; but this nature itself, the actually real, it finds directly only in its inner self. Therefore every one desires everything for himself, desires to possess, or at least to control, everything, and whatever opposes it it would like to destroy. To this is added, in the case of such beings as have knowledge, that the individual is the supporter of the knowing subject, and the knowing subject is the supporter of the world, i.e., that the whole of Nature outside the knowing subject, and thus also all other individuals, exist only in its idea; it is only conscious of them as its idea, thus merely indirectly as something which is dependent on its own nature and existence; for with its consciousness the world necessarily disappears for it, i.e., its being and non-being become synonymous and indistinguishable. Every knowing individual is thus in truth, and finds itself as the whole will to live, or the inner being of the world itself, and also as the complemental condition of the world as idea, consequently as a microcosm which is of equal value with the macrocosm. Nature itself, which is everywhere and always truthful, gives him this knowledge, originally and independently of all reflection, with simple and direct certainty. Now from these two necessary properties we have given the fact may be explained that every individual, though vanishing altogether and diminished to nothing in the boundless world, yet makes itself the centre of the world, has regard for its own existence and well-being before everything else; indeed, from the natural standpoint, is ready to sacrifice everything else for this—is ready to annihilate the world in order to maintain its own self, this drop in the ocean, a little longer. This disposition is egoism, which is essential to everything in Nature. Yet it is just through egoism that the inner conflict of the will with itself attains to such a terrible revelation; for this egoism has its continuance and being in that opposition of the microcosm and macrocosm, or in the fact that the objectification of will has the principium individuationis for its form, through which the will manifests itself in the same way in innumerable individuals, and indeed entire and completely in both aspects (will and idea) in each. Thus, while each individual is given to itself directly as the whole will and the whole subject of ideas, other individuals are only given it as ideas. Therefore its own being, and the maintenance of it, is of more importance to it than that of all others together. Every one looks upon his own death as upon the end of the world, while he accepts the death of his acquaintances as a matter of comparative indifference, if he is not in some way affected by it. In the consciousness that has reached the highest grade, that of man, egoism, as well as knowledge, pain and pleasure, must have reached its highest grade also, and the conflict of individuals which is conditioned by it must appear in its most terrible form. And indeed we see this everywhere before our eyes, in small things as in great. Now we see its terrible side in the lives of great tyrants and miscreants, and in world-desolating wars; now its absurd side, in which it is the theme of comedy, and very specially appears as self-conceit and vanity. Rochefoucault understood this better than any one else, and presented it in the abstract. We see it both in the history of the world and in our own experience. But it appears most distinctly of all when any mob of men is set free from all law and order; then there shows itself at once in the distinctest form the bellum omnium contra omnes, which Hobbes has so admirably described in the first chapter De Cive. We see not only how every one tries to seize from the other what he wants himself, but how often one will destroy the whole happiness or life of another for the sake of an insignificant addition to his own happiness. This is the highest expression of egoism, the manifestations of which in this regard are only surpassed by those of actual wickedness, which seeks, quite disinterestedly, the hurt and suffering of others, without any advantage to itself. Of this we shall speak soon. With this exhibition of the source of egoism the reader should compare the presentation of it in my prize-essay on the basis of morals, § 14.
A chief source of that suffering which we found above to be essential and inevitable to all life is, when it really appears in a definite form, that Eris, the conflict of all individuals, the expression of the contradiction, with which the will to live is affected in its inner self, and which attains a visible form through the principium individuationis. Wild-beast fights are the most cruel means of showing this directly and vividly. In this original discord lies an unquenchable source of suffering, in spite of the precautions that have been taken against it, and which we shall now consider more closely.
It has already been explained that the first and simplest assertion of the will to live is only the assertion of one's own body, i.e., the exhibition of the will through acts in time, so far as the body, in its form and design, exhibits the same will in space, and no further. This assertion shows itself as maintenance of the body, by means of the application of its own powers. To it is directly related the satisfaction of the sexual impulse; indeed this belongs to it, because the genitals belong to the body. Therefore voluntary renunciation of the satisfaction of that impulse, based upon no motive, is already a denial of the will to live, is a voluntary self-suppression of it, upon the entrance of knowledge which acts as a quieter. Accordingly such denial of one's own body exhibits itself as a contradiction by the will of its own phenomenon. For although here also the body objectifies in the genitals the will to perpetuate the species, yet this is not willed. Just on this account, because it is a denial or suppression of the will to live, such a renunciation is a hard and painful self-conquest; but of this later. But since the will exhibits that self-assertion of one's own body in innumerable individuals beside each other, it very easily extends in one individual, on account of the egoism peculiar to them all, beyond this assertion to the denial of the same will appearing in another individual. The will of the first breaks through the limits of the assertion of will of another, because the individual either destroys or injures this other body itself, or else because it compels the powers of the other body to serve its own will, instead of the will which manifests itself in that other body. Thus if, from the will manifesting itself as another body, it withdraws the powers of this body, and so increases the power serving its own will beyond that of its own body, it consequently asserts its own will beyond its own body by means of the negation of the will appearing in another body. This breaking through the limits of the assertion of will of another has always been distinctly recognised, and its concept denoted by the word wrong. For both sides recognise the fact instantly, not, indeed, as we do here in distinct abstraction, but as feeling. He who suffers wrong feels the transgression into the sphere of the assertion of his own body, through the denial of it by another individual, as a direct and mental pain which is entirely separated and different from the accompanying physical suffering experienced from the act or the vexation at the loss. To the doer of wrong, on the other hand, the knowledge presents itself that he is in himself the same will which appears in that body also, and which asserts itself with such vehemence; the one phenomenon that, transgressing the limits of its own body and its powers, it extends to the denial of this very will in another phenomenon, and so, regarded as will in itself, it strives against itself by this vehemence and rends itself. Moreover, this knowledge presents itself to him instantly, not in abstracto, but as an obscure feeling; and this is called remorse, or, more accurately in this case, the feeling of wrong committed.
Wrong, the conception of which we have thus analysed in its most general and abstract form, expresses itself in the concrete most completely, peculiarly, and palpably in cannibalism. This is its most distinct and evident type, the terrible picture of the greatest conflict of the will with itself at the highest grade of its objectification, which is man. Next to this, it expresses itself most distinctly in murder; and therefore the committal of murder is followed instantly and with fearful distinctness by remorse, the abstract and dry significance of which we have just given, which inflicts a wound on our peace of mind that a lifetime cannot heal. For our horror at the murder committed, as also our shrinking from the committal of it, corresponds to that infinite clinging to life with which everything living, as phenomenon of the will to live, is penetrated. (We shall analyse this feeling which accompanies the doing of wrong and evil, in other words, the pangs of conscience, more fully later on, and raise its concept to distinctness.) Mutilation, or mere injury of another body, indeed every blow, is to be regarded as in its nature the same as murder, and differing from it only in degree. Further, wrong shows itself in the subjugation of another individual, in forcing him into slavery, and, finally, in the seizure of another's goods, which, so far as these goods are regarded as the fruit of his labour, is just the same thing as making him a slave, and is related to this as mere injury is to murder.
For property, which is not taken from a man without wrong, can, according to our explanation of wrong, only be that which has been produced by his own powers. Therefore by taking this we really take the powers of his body from the will objectified in it, to make them subject to the will objectified in another body. For only so does the wrong-doer, by seizing, not the body of another, but a lifeless thing quite different from it, break into the sphere of the assertion of will of another person, because the powers, the work of this other body, are, as it were, incorporated and identified with this thing. It follows from this that all true, i.e., moral, right of property is based simply and solely on work, as was pretty generally assumed before Kant, and is distinctly and beautifully expressed in the oldest of all codes of law: “Wise men who know the past explain that a cultured field is the property of him who cut down the wood and cleared and ploughed it, as an antelope belongs to the first hunter who mortally wounds it” (Laws of Manu, ix. 44). Kant's philosophy of law is an extraordinary concatenation of errors all leading to each other, and he bases the right of property upon first occupation. To me this is only explicable on the supposition that his powers were failing through old age. For how should the mere avowal of my will to exclude others from the use of a thing at once give me a right to it? Clearly such an avowal itself requires a foundation of right, instead of being one, as Kant assumes. And how would he act unjustly in se, i.e., morally, who does not respect that claim to the sole possession of a thing which is based upon nothing but its own avowal? How should his conscience trouble him about it? For it is so clear and easy to understand that there can be absolutely no such thing as a just seizure of anything, but only a just conversion or acquired possession of it, by spending our own original powers upon it. When, by any foreign labour, however little, a thing has been cultivated, improved, kept from harm or preserved, even if this labour were only the plucking or picking up from the ground of fruit that has grown wild; the person who forcibly seizes such a thing clearly deprives the other of the result of his labour expended upon it, makes the body of this other serve his will instead of its own, asserts his will beyond its own phenomenon to the denial of that of the other, i.e., does injustice or wrong. On the other hand, the mere enjoyment of a thing, without any cultivation or preservation of it from destruction, gives just as little right to it as the mere avowal of our desire for its sole possession. Therefore, though one family has hunted a district alone, even for a hundred years, but has done nothing for its improvement; if a stranger comes and desires to hunt there, it cannot prevent him from doing so without moral injustice. Thus the so-called right of preoccupation, according to which, for the mere past enjoyment of a thing, there is demanded the further recompense of the exclusive right to its future enjoyment, is morally entirely without foundation. A new-comer might with far better right reply to him who was depending upon such a right, “Just because you have so long enjoyed, it is right that others should now enjoy also.” No moral right can be established to the sole possession of anything upon which labour cannot be expended, either in improving it or in preserving it from harm, unless it be through a voluntary surrender on the part of others, as a reward for other services. This, however, already presupposes a community regulated by agreement—the State. The morally established right of property, as we have deduced it above, gives, from its nature, to the owner of a thing, the same unlimited power over it which he has over his own body; and hence it follows that he can part with his possessions to others either in exchange or as a gift, and they then possess them with the same moral right as he did.
As regards the doing of wrong generally, it occurs either through violence or through craft; it matters not which as far as what is morally essential is concerned. First, in the case of murder, it is a matter of indifference whether I make use of a dagger or of poison; and the case of every bodily injury is analogous. Other cases of wrong can all be reduced to the fact that I, as the doer of wrong, compel another individual to serve my will instead of his own, to act according to my will instead of according to his own. On the path of violence I attain this end through physical causality, but on the path of craft by means of motivation, i.e., by means of causality through knowledge; for I present to his will illusive motives, on account of which he follows my will, while he believes he is following his own. Since the medium in which the motives lie is knowledge, I can only accomplish this by falsifying his knowledge, and this is the lie. The lie always aims at influencing another's will, not merely his knowledge, for itself and as such, but only as a means, so far as it determines his will. For my lying itself, inasmuch as it proceeds from my will, requires a motive; and only the will of another can be such a motive, not his knowledge in and for itself; for as such it can never have an influence upon my will, therefore it can never move it, can never be a motive of its aim. But only the willing and doing of another can be this, and his knowledge indirectly through it. This holds good not only of all lies that have manifestly sprung from self-interest, but also of those which proceed from pure wickedness, which seeks enjoyment in the painful consequences of the error into which it has led another. Indeed, mere empty boasting aims at influencing the will and action of others more or less, by increasing their respect or improving their opinion of the boaster. The mere refusal of a truth, i.e., of an assertion generally, is in itself no wrong, but every imposing of a lie is certainly a wrong. He who refuses to show the strayed traveller the right road does him no wrong, but he who directs him to a false road certainly does. It follows from what has been said, that every lie, like every act of violence, is as such wrong, because as such it has for its aim the extension of the authority of my will to other individuals, and so the assertion of my will through the denial of theirs, just as much as violence has. But the most complete lie is the broken contract, because here all the conditions mentioned are completely and distinctly present together. For when I enter into a contract, the promised performance of the other individual is directly and confessedly the motive for my reciprocal performance. The promises were deliberately and formally exchanged. The fulfilment of the declarations made is, it is assumed, in the power of each. If the other breaks the covenant, he has deceived me, and by introducing merely illusory motives into my knowledge, he has bent my will according to his intention; he has extended the control of his will to another individual, and thus has committed a distinct wrong. On this is founded the moral lawfulness and validity of the contract.
Wrong through violence is not so shameful to the doer of it as wrong through craft; for the former arises from physical power, which under all circumstances impresses mankind; while the latter, by the use of subterfuge, betrays weakness, and lowers man at once as a physical and moral being. This is further the case because lying and deception can only succeed if he who employs them expresses at the same time horror and contempt of them in order to win confidence, and his victory rests on the fact that men credit him with honesty which he does not possess. The deep horror which is always excited by cunning, faithlessness, and treachery rests on the fact that good faith and honesty are the bond which externally binds into a unity the will which has been broken up into the multiplicity of individuals, and thereby limits the consequences of the egoism which results from that dispersion. Faithlessness and treachery break this outward bond asunder, and thus give boundless scope to the consequences of egoism.
In the connection of our system we have found that the content of the concept of wrong is that quality of the conduct of an individual in which he extends the assertion of the will appearing in his own body so far that it becomes the denial of the will appearing in the bodies of others. We have also laid down, by means of very general examples, the limits at which the province of wrong begins; for we have at once defined its gradations, from the highest degree to the lowest, by means of a few leading conceptions. According to this, the concept of wrong is the original and positive, and the concept of right, which is opposed to it, is the derivative and negative; for we must keep to the concepts, and not to the words. As a matter of fact, there would be no talk of right if there were no such thing as wrong. The concept right contains merely the negation of wrong, and every action is subsumed under it which does not transgress the limit laid down above, i.e., is not a denial of the will of another for the stronger assertion of our own. That limit, therefore, divides, as regards a purely moral definition, the whole province of possible actions into such as are wrong or right. Whenever an action does not encroach, in the way explained above, on the sphere of the assertion of will of another, denying it, it is not wrong. Therefore, for example, the refusal of help to another in great need, the quiet contemplation of the death of another from starvation while we ourselves have more than enough, is certainly cruel and fiendish, but it is not wrong; only it can be affirmed with certainty that whoever is capable of carrying unkindness and hardness to such a degree will certainly also commit every wrong whenever his wishes demand it and no compulsion prevents it.
But the conception of right as the negation of wrong finds its principal application, and no doubt its origin, in cases in which an attempted wrong by violence is warded off. This warding off cannot itself be wrong, and consequently is right, although the violence it requires, regarded in itself and in isolation, would be wrong, and is here only justified by the motive, i.e., becomes right. If an individual goes so far in the assertion of his own will that he encroaches upon the assertion of will which is essential to my person as such, and denies it, then my warding off of that encroachment is only the denial of that denial, and thus from my side is nothing more than the assertion of the will which essentially and originally appears in my body, and is already implicitly expressed by the mere appearance of this body; consequently is not wrong, but right. That is to say: I have then a right to deny that denial of another with the force necessary to overcome it, and it is easy to see that this may extend to the killing of the other individual, whose encroachment as external violence pressing upon me may be warded off by a somewhat stronger counteraction, entirely without wrong, consequently with right. For all that happens from my side lies always within the sphere of the assertion of will essential to my person as such, and already expressed by it (which is the scene of the conflict), and does not encroach on that of the other, consequently is only negation of the negation, and thus affirmation, not itself negation. Thus if the will of another denies my will, as this appears in my body and the use of its powers for its maintenance, without denial of any foreign will which observes a like limitation, I can without wrong compel it to desist from such denial, i.e., I have so far a right of compulsion.
In all cases in which I have a right of compulsion, a complete right to use violence against another, I may, according to the circumstances, just as well oppose the violence of the other with craft without doing any wrong, and accordingly I have an actual right to lie precisely so far as I have a right of compulsion. Therefore a man acts with perfect right who assures a highway robber who is searching him that he has nothing more upon him; or, if a burglar has broken into his house by night, induces him by a lie to enter a cellar and then locks him in. A man who has been captured and carried off by robbers, for example by pirates, has the right to kill them not only by violence but also by craft, in order to regain his freedom. Thus, also, a promise is certainly not binding when it has been extorted by direct bodily violence, because he who suffers such compulsion may with full right free himself by killing, and, a fortiori, by deceiving his oppressor. Whoever cannot recover through force the property which has been stolen from him, commits no wrong if he can accomplish it through craft. Indeed, if some one plays with me for money he has stolen from me, I have the right to use false dice against him, because all that I win from him already belongs to me. Whoever would deny this must still more deny the justifiableness of stratagem in war, which is just an acted lie, and is a proof of the saying of Queen Christina of Sweden, “The words of men are to be esteemed as nothing; scarcely are their deeds to be trusted.” So sharply does the limit of right border upon that of wrong. For the rest, I regard it as superfluous to show that all this completely agrees with what was said above about the unlawfulness of the lie and of violence. It may also serve to explain the peculiar theory of the lie told under pressure.
In accordance with what has been said, wrong and right are merely moral determinations, i.e., such as are valid with regard to the consideration of human action as such, and in relation to the inner significance of this action in itself. This asserts itself directly in consciousness through the fact that the doing of wrong is accompanied by an inward pain, which is the merely felt consciousness of the wrong-doer of the excessive strength of the assertion of will in itself, which extends even to the denial of the manifestation of the will of another, and also the consciousness that although he is different from the person suffering wrong as far as the manifestation is concerned, yet in himself he is identical with him. The further explanation of this inner significance of all pain of conscience cannot be given till later. He who suffers wrong is, on the other hand, painfully conscious of the denial of his will, as it is expressed through the body and its natural requirements, for the satisfaction of which nature refers him to the powers of his body; and at the same time he is conscious that without doing wrong he might ward off that denial by every means unless he lacks the power. This purely moral significance is the only one which right and wrong have for men as men, not as members of the State, and which consequently remains even when man is in a state of nature without any positive law. It constitutes the basis and the content of all that has on this account been named natural law, though it is better called moral law, for its validity does not extend to suffering, to the external reality, but only to the action of man and the self-knowledge of his individual will which grows up in him from his action, and which is called conscience. It cannot, however, in a state of nature, assert itself in all cases, and outwardly upon other individuals, and prevent might from reigning instead of right. In a state of nature it depends upon every one merely to see that in every case he does no wrong, but by no means to see that in every case he suffers no wrong, for this depends on the accident of his outward power. Therefore the concepts right and wrong, even in a state of nature, are certainly valid and by no means conventional, but there they are valid merely as moral concepts, for the self-knowledge of one's own will in each. They are a fixed point in the scale of the very different degrees of strength with which the will to live asserts itself in human individuals, like the freezing-point on the thermometer; the point at which the assertion of one's own will becomes the denial of the will of another, i.e., specifies through wrong-doing the degree of its intensity, combined with the degree in which knowledge is involved in the principium individuationis (which is the form of all knowledge that is subject to the will). But whoever wants to set aside the purely moral consideration of human action, or denies it, and wishes to regard conduct merely in its outward effects and their consequences, may certainly, with Hobbes, explain right and wrong as conventional definitions arbitrarily assumed, and therefore not existing outside positive law, and we can never show him through external experience what does not belong to such experience. Hobbes himself characterises his completely empirical method of thought very remarkably by the fact that in his book “De Principiis Geometrarum” he denies all pure mathematics properly so called, and obstinately maintains that the point has extension and the line has breadth, and we can never show him a point without extension or a line without breadth. Thus we can just as little impart to him the a priori nature of mathematics as the a priori nature of right, because he shuts himself out from all knowledge which is not empirical.
The pure doctrine of right is thus a chapter of ethics, and is directly related only to action, not to suffering; for only the former is the expression of will, and this alone is considered by ethics. Suffering is mere occurrence. Ethics can only have regard to suffering indirectly, merely to show that what takes place merely to avoid suffering wrong is itself no infliction of wrong. The working out of this chapter of ethics would contain the precise definition of the limits to which an individual may go in the assertion of the will already objectified in his body without denying the same will as it appears in another individual; and also the actions which transgress these limits, which consequently are wrong, and therefore in their turn may be warded off without wrong. Thus our own action always remains the point of view of the investigation.
But the suffering of wrong appears as an event in outward experience, and in it is manifested, as we have said, more distinctly than anywhere else, the phenomenon of the conflict of the will to live with itself, arising from the multiplicity of individuals and from egoism, both of which are conditioned through the principium individuationis, which is the form of the world as idea for the knowledge of the individual. We also saw above that a very large part of the suffering essential to human life has its perennial source in that conflict of individuals.
The reason, however, which is common to all these individuals, and which enables them to know not merely the particular case, as the brutes do, but also the whole abstractly in its connection, has also taught them to discern the source of that suffering, and induced them to consider the means of diminishing it, or, when possible, of suppressing it by a common sacrifice, which is, however, more than counterbalanced by the common advantage that proceeds from it. However agreeable it is to the egoism of the individual to inflict wrong in particular cases, this has yet a necessary correlative in the suffering of wrong of another individual, to whom it is a great pain. And because the reason which surveys the whole left the one-sided point of view of the individual to which it belongs, and freed itself for the moment from its dependence upon it, it saw the pleasure of an individual in inflicting wrong always outweighed by the relatively greater pain of the other who suffered the wrong; and it found further, that because here everything was left to chance, every one had to fear that the pleasure of conveniently inflicting wrong would far more rarely fall to his lot than the pain of enduring it. From this reason recognised that both in order to diminish the suffering which is everywhere disseminated, and as far as possible to divide it equally, the best and only means was to spare all the pain of suffering wrong by renouncing all the pleasure to be obtained by inflicting it. This means is the contract of the state or law. It is easily conceived, and little by little carried out by the egoism, which, through the use of reason, proceeds methodically and forsakes its one-sided point of view. This origin of the state and of law I have indicated was already exhibited as such by Plato in the “Republic.” In fact, it is the essential and only origin, determined by the nature of the matter. Moreover, in no land can the state have ever had a different origin, because it is just this mode of originating this aim that makes it a state. But it is a matter of indifference whether, in each particular nation, the condition which preceded it was that of a horde of savages independent of each other (anarchy), or that of a horde of slaves ruled at will by the stronger (despotism). In both cases there existed as yet no state; it first arose through that common agreement; and according as that agreement is more or less free from anarchy or despotism, the state is more or less perfect. Republics tend to anarchy, monarchies to despotism, and the mean of constitutional monarchy, which was therefore devised, tends to government by factions. In order to found a perfect state, we must begin by providing beings whose nature allows them always to sacrifice their own to the public good. Till then, however, something may be attained through the existence of one family whose good is quite inseparable from that of the country; so that, at least in matters of importance, it can never advance the one without the other. On this rests the power and the advantage of the hereditary monarchy.
Now as ethics was concerned exclusively with right and wrong doing, and could accurately point out the limits of his action to whoever was resolved to do no wrong; politics, on the contrary, the theory of legislation, is exclusively concerned with the suffering of wrong, and would never trouble itself with wrong-doing at all if it were not on account of its ever-necessary correlative, the suffering of wrong, which it always keeps in view as the enemy it opposes. Indeed, if it were possible to conceive an infliction of wrong with which no suffering of wrong on the part of another was connected, the state would, consistently, by no means prohibit it. And because in ethics the will, the disposition, is the object of consideration, and the only real thing, the firm will to do wrong, which is only restrained and rendered ineffective by external might, and the actually committed wrong, are to it quite the same, and it condemns him who so wills as unjust at its tribunal. On the other hand, will and disposition, merely as such, do not concern the state at all, but only the deed (whether it is merely attempted or carried out), on account of its correlative, the suffering on the part of another. Thus for the state the deed, the event, is the only real; the disposition, the intention, is only investigated so far as the significance of the deed becomes known through it. Therefore the state will forbid no one to carry about in his thought murder and poison against another, so long as it knows certainly that the fear of the sword and the wheel will always restrain the effects of that will. The state has also by no means to eradicate the foolish purpose, the inclination to wrong-doing, the wicked disposition; but merely always to place beside every possible motive for doing a wrong a more powerful motive for leaving it undone in the inevitable punishment that will ensue. Therefore the criminal code is as complete a register as possible of motives against every criminal action that can possibly be imagined—both in abstracto, in order to make any case that occurs an application in concreto. Politics or legislation will therefore for this end borrow from that chapter of ethics which is the doctrine of right, and which, besides the inner significance of right and wrong, determines the exact limits between them. Yet it will only do so for the purpose of making use of its reverse side, and regarding all the limits which ethics lays down as not to be transgressed, if we are to avoid doing wrong, from the other side, as the limits which we must not allow others to transgress if we do not wish to suffer wrong, and from which we have therefore a right to drive others back. Therefore these limits are, as much as possible, from the passive side, barricaded by laws. It is evident that as an historian has very wittily been called an inverted prophet, the professor of law is an inverted moralist, and therefore law itself, in its proper sense, i.e., the doctrine of the right, which we ought to maintain, is inverted ethics in that chapter of it in which the rights are laid down which we ought not to violate. The concept of wrong and its negation, that of right, which is originally ethical, becomes juridical by the transference of the starting-point from the active to the passive side, and thus by inversion. This, as well as Kant's theory of law, which very falsely deduces the institution of the state as a moral duty from his categorical imperative, has, even in the most recent times, repeatedly occasioned the very extraordinary error that the state is an institution for furthering morality; that it arises from the endeavour after this, and is, consequently, directed against egoism. As if the inward disposition, to which alone morality or immorality belongs, the externally free will, would allow itself to be modified from without and changed by influences exerted upon it! Still more perverse is the theory that the state is the condition of freedom in the moral sense, and in this way the condition of morality; for freedom lies beyond the phenomenon, and indeed beyond human arrangements. The state is, as we have said, so little directed against egoism in general and as such, that, on the contrary, it has sprung from egoism and exists only in its service—an egoism that well understands itself, proceeds methodically and forsakes the one-sided for the universal point of view, and so by addition is the common egoism of all. The state is thus instituted under the correct presupposition that pure morality, i.e., right action from moral grounds, is not to be expected; if this were not the case, it would itself be superfluous. Thus the state, which aims at well-being, is by no means directed against egoism, but only against the disadvantageous consequences which arise from the multiplicity of egoistic individuals, and reciprocally affect them all and disturb their well-being. Therefore it was already said by Aristotle (De. Rep. iii.): Τελος μεν ουν πολεως το ευ ζην; τουτο δε εστιν το ζῃν ευδαιμονως και καλως (Finis civitatis est bene vivere, hoc autem est beate et pulchre vivere). Hobbes also has accurately and excellently expounded this origin and end of the state; and that old first principle of all state policy, salus publica prima lex esto, indicates the same thing. If the state completely attains its end, it will produce the same outward result as if perfect justice of disposition prevailed everywhere. But the inner nature and origin of both phenomena will be the converse. Thus in the second case it would be that no one wished to do wrong, and in the first that no one wished to suffer wrong, and the means appropriate to this end had been fully employed. Thus the same line may be drawn from opposite directions, and a beast of prey with a muzzle is as harmless as a graminivorous animal. But beyond this point the state cannot go. It cannot exhibit a phenomenon such as would spring from universal mutual well-wishing and love. For just as we found that from its nature it would not forbid the doing of a wrong which involved no corresponding suffering of wrong on the part of another, and prohibits all wrong-doing only because this is impossible; so conversely, in accordance with its tendency towards the well-being of all, it would very gladly take care that every benevolent action and work of human love should be experienced, if it were not that these also have an inevitable correlative in the performance of acts of benevolence and works of love, and every member of the state would wish to assume the passive and none the active rôle, and there would be no reason for exacting the latter from one member of the state rather than from another. Accordingly only the negative, which is just the right, not the positive, which has been comprehended under the name of obligations of love, or, less completely, duties, can be exacted by force.
Legislation, as we have said, borrows the pure philosophy of right, or the doctrine of the nature and limits of right and wrong, from ethics, in order to apply it from the reverse side to its own ends, which are different from those of ethics, and to institute positive legislation and the means of supporting it, i.e., the state, in accordance with it. Positive legislation is thus the inverted application of the purely moral doctrine of right. This application may be made with reference to the peculiar relations and circumstances of a particular people. But only if the positive legislation is, in essential matters, throughout determined in accordance with the guidance of the pure theory of right, and for each of its propositions a ground can be established in the pure theory of right, is the legislation which has arisen a positive right and the state a community based upon right, a state in the proper meaning of the word, a morally permissible, not immoral institution. Otherwise the positive legislation is, on the contrary, the establishment of a positive wrong; it is itself an openly avowed enforced wrong. Such is every despotism, the constitution of most Mohammedan kingdoms; and indeed various parts of many constitutions are also of this kind; for example, serfdom, vassalage, and many such institutions. The pure theory of right or natural right—better, moral right—though always reversed, lies at the foundation of every just positive legislation, as pure mathematics lies at the foundation of every branch of applied mathematics. The most important points of the doctrine of right, as philosophy has to supply it for that end to legislation, are the following: 1. The explanation of the inner and real significance both of the origin of the conceptions of wrong and right, and of their application and position in ethics. 2. The deduction of the law of property. 3. The deduction of the moral validity of contracts; for this is the moral basis of the contract of the state. 4. The explanation of the origin and the aim of the state, of the relation of this aim to ethics, and of the intentional transference of the ethical doctrine of right, by reversing it, to legislation, in consequence of this relation. 5. The deduction of the right of punishment. The remaining content of the doctrine of right is mere application of these principles, mere accurate definition of the limits of right and wrong for all possible relations of life, which are consequently united and distributed under certain points of view and titles. In these special doctrines the books which treat of pure law are fairly at one; it is only in the principles that they differ much, for these are always connected with some philosophical system. In connection with our system, we have explained the first four of these principal points shortly and generally, yet definitely and distinctly, and it remains for us to speak in the same way of the right of punishment.
Kant makes the fundamentally false assertion that apart from the state there would be no complete right of property. It follows from our deduction, as given above, that even in a state of nature there is property with complete natural, i.e., moral right, which cannot be injured without wrong, but may without wrong be defended to the uttermost. On the other hand, it is certain that apart from the state there is no right of punishment. All right to punish is based upon the positive law alone, which before the offence has determined a punishment for it, the threat of which, as a counter-motive, is intended to outweigh all possible motives for the offence. This positive law is to be regarded as sanctioned and recognised by all the members of the state. It is thus based upon a common contract which the members of the state are in duty bound to fulfil, and thus, on the one hand, to inflict the punishment, and, on the other hand, to endure it; thus the endurance of the punishment may with right be enforced. Consequently the immediate end of punishment is, in the particular case, the fulfilment of the law as a contract. But the one end of the law is deterrence from the infringement of the rights of others. For, in order that every one may be protected from suffering wrong, men have combined to form a state, have renounced the doing of wrong, and assumed the task of maintaining the state. Thus the law and the fulfilment of it, the punishment, are essentially directed to the future, not to the past. This distinguishes punishment from revenge; for the motives which instigate the latter are solely concerned with what has happened, and thus with the past as such. All requital of wrong by the infliction of pain, without any aim for the future, is revenge, and can have no other end than consolation for the suffering one has borne by the sight of the suffering one has inflicted upon another. This is wickedness and cruelty, and cannot be morally justified. Wrong which some one has inflicted upon me by no means entitles me to inflict wrong upon him. The requital of evil with evil without further intention is neither morally nor otherwise through any rational ground to be justified, and the jus talionis set up as the absolute, final principle of the right of punishment, is meaningless. Therefore Kant's theory of punishment as mere requital for requital's sake is a completely groundless and perverse view. Yet it is always appearing in the writings of many jurists, under all kinds of lofty phrases, which amount to nothing but empty words, as: Through the punishment the crime is expiated or neutralised and abolished, and many such. But no man has the right to set himself up as a purely moral judge and requiter, and punish the misdeeds of another with pains which he inflicts upon him, and so to impose penance upon him for his sins. Nay, this would rather be the most presumptuous arrogance; and therefore the Bible says, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” But man has the right to care for the safety of society; and this can only be done by interdicting all actions which are denoted by the word “criminal,” in order to prevent them by means of counter-motives, which are the threatened punishments. And this threat can only be made effective by carrying it out when a case occurs in spite of it. Accordingly that the end of punishment, or more accurately of penal law, is the deterrence from crime, is a truth so generally recognised and indeed self-evident, that in England it is expressed in the very old form of indictment which is still served by the counsel for the Crown in criminal actions, for it concludes with the words, “If this be proved, you, the said N. N., ought to be punished with pains of law, to deter others from the like crimes in all time coming.” If a prince desires to extend mercy to a criminal who has justly been condemned, his Ministers will represent to him that, if he does, this crime will soon be repeated. An end for the future distinguishes punishment from revenge, and punishment only has this end when it is inflicted in fulfilment of a law. It thus announces itself as inevitable in every future case, and thus the law obtains the power to deter, in which its end really consists. Now here a Kantian would inevitably reply that certainly according to this view the punished criminal would be used “merely as a means.” This proposition, so unweariedly repeated by all the Kantians, “Man must always be treated as an end, never as a means,” certainly sounds significant, and is therefore a very suitable proposition for those who like to have a formula which saves them all further thought; but looked at in the light, it is an exceedingly vague, indefinite assertion, which reaches its aim quite indirectly, requires to be explained, defined, and modified in every case of its application, and, if taken generally, is insufficient, meagre, and moreover problematical. The murderer who has been condemned to the punishment of death according to law must now, at any rate, and with complete right, be used as a mere means. For public security, the chief end of the state, is disturbed by him; indeed it is abolished if the law is not carried out. The murderer, his life, his person, must now be the means of fulfilling the law, and thereby of re-establishing the public security. And he is made such a means with perfect right, in fulfilment of the contract of the state, which was entered into by him because he was a citizen, and in accordance with which, in order to enjoy security for his life, freedom, and property, he has pledged his life, his freedom, and his property for the security of all, which pledge has now been forfeited.
This theory of punishment which we have established, the theory which is directly supported by sound reason, is certainly in the main no new thought; but it is a thought which was almost supplanted by new errors, and therefore it was necessary to exhibit it as distinctly as possible. The same thing is in its essence contained in what Puffendorf says on the subject, “De Officio Hominis et Civis” (Bk. ii. chap. 12). Hobbes also agrees with it, “Leviathan” (chaps. 15-28). In our own day Feurbach is well known to have maintained it. Indeed, it occurs even in the utterances of the ancient philosophers. Plato expresses it clearly in the “Protagoras” (p. 114, edit. Bip.), also in the “Gorgias” (p. 168), and lastly in the eleventh book of the “Laws” (p. 165). Seneca expresses Plato's opinion and the theory of all punishment in the short sentence, “Nemo prudens punit, quia peccatum est; sed ne peccetur” (De Ira, i. 16).
Thus we have come to recognise in the state the means by which egoism endowed with reason seeks to escape from its own evil consequences which turn against itself, and now each promotes the well-being of all because he sees that his own well-being is involved in it. If the state attained its end completely, then to a certain extent something approaching to an Utopia might finally, by the removal of all kinds of evil, be brought about. For by the human powers united in it, it is able to make the rest of nature more and more serviceable. But as yet the state has always remained very far from this goal. And even if it attained to it, innumerable evils essential to all life would still keep it in suffering; and finally, if they were all removed, ennui would at once occupy every place they left. And besides, the strife of individuals is never completely abolished by the state, for it vexes in trifles when it is prohibited in greater things. Finally, Eris, happily expelled from within, turns to what is without; as the conflict of individuals, she is banished by the institution of the state; but she reappears from without as the war of nations, and now demands in bulk and at once, as an accumulated debt, the bloody sacrifice which by wise precautions has been denied her in the particular. And even supposing that all this were finally overcome and removed, by wisdom founded on the experience of thousands of years, at the end the result would be the actual over-population of the whole planet, the terrible evil of which only a bold imagination can now realise.
We have recognised temporal justice, which has its seat in the state, as requiting and punishing, and have seen that this only becomes justice through a reference to the future. For without this reference all punishing and requiting would be an outrage without justification, and indeed merely the addition of another evil to that which has already occurred, without meaning or significance. But it is quite otherwise with eternal justice, which was referred to before, and which rules not the state but the world, is not dependent upon human institutions, is not subject to chance and deception, is not uncertain, wavering, and erring, but infallible, fixed, and sure. The conception of requital implies that of time; therefore eternal justice cannot be requital. Thus it cannot, like temporal justice, admit of respite and delay, and require time in order to triumph, equalising the evil deed by the evil consequences only by means of time. The punishment must here be so bound up with the offence that both are one.
Δοκειτε πηδᾳν τ᾽ αδικηματ᾽ εις θεους
Πτεροισι, κἀπειτ᾽ εν Διος δελτου πτυχαις
Γραφειν τιν᾽ αυτα, Ζηνα δ᾽ εισορωντα νιν
Θνητοις δικαζειν? Ουδ᾽ ὁ παρ ουρανος,
Διος γραφοντος ταρ βροτων ἁμαρτιας,
Εξαρκεσειεν, ουδ᾽ εκεινος αν σκοπων
Πεμπειν ἑκαστῳ ζημιαν; αλλ᾽ ἡ Δικη
Ενταυθα που εστιν εγγυς, ει βουλεσθ᾽ ὁρᾳν.
Eurip. ap. Stob. Ecl., i. c. 4
(Volare pennis scelera ad ætherias domus
Putatis, illic in Jovis tabularia
Scripto referri; tum Jovem lectis super
Sententiam proferre?—sed mortalium
Facinora cœli, quantaquanta est, regia
Nequit tenere: nec legendis Juppiter
Et puniendis par est. Est tamen ultio,
Et, si intuemur, illa nos habitat prope.)
Now that such an eternal justice really lies in the nature of the world will soon become completely evident to whoever has grasped the whole of the thought which we have hitherto been developing.
The world, in all the multiplicity of its parts and forms, is the manifestation, the objectivity, of the one will to live. Existence itself, and the kind of existence, both as a collective whole and in every part, proceeds from the will alone. The will is free, the will is almighty. The will appears in everything, just as it determines itself in itself and outside time. The world is only the mirror of this willing; and all finitude, all suffering, all miseries, which it contains, belong to the expression of that which the will wills, are as they are because the will so wills. Accordingly with perfect right every being supports existence in general, and also the existence of its species and its peculiar individuality, entirely as it is and in circumstances as they are, in a world such as it is, swayed by chance and error, transient, ephemeral, and constantly suffering; and in all that it experiences, or indeed can experience, it always gets its due. For the will belongs to it; and as the will is, so is the world. Only this world itself can bear the responsibility of its own existence and nature—no other; for by what means could another have assumed it? Do we desire to know what men, morally considered, are worth as a whole and in general, we have only to consider their fate as a whole and in general. This is want, wretchedness, affliction, misery, and death. Eternal justice reigns; if they were not, as a whole, worthless, their fate, as a whole, would not be so sad. In this sense we may say, the world itself is the judgment of the world. If we could lay all the misery of the world in one scale of the balance, and all the guilt of the world in the other, the needle would certainly point to the centre.
Certainly, however, the world does not exhibit itself to the knowledge of the individual as such, developed for the service of the will, as it finally reveals itself to the inquirer as the objectivity of the one and only will to live, which he himself is. But the sight of the uncultured individual is clouded, as the Hindus say, by the veil of Mâyâ. He sees not the thing-in-itself but the phenomenon in time and space, the principium individuationis, and in the other forms of the principle of sufficient reason. And in this form of his limited knowledge he sees not the inner nature of things, which is one, but its phenomena as separated, disunited, innumerable, very different, and indeed opposed. For to him pleasure appears as one thing and pain as quite another thing: one man as a tormentor and a murderer, another as a martyr and a victim; wickedness as one thing and evil as another. He sees one man live in joy, abundance, and pleasure, and even at his door another die miserably of want and cold. Then he asks, Where is the retribution? And he himself, in the vehement, pressure of will which is his origin and his nature, seizes upon the pleasures and enjoyments of life, firmly embraces them, and knows not that by this very act of his will he seizes and hugs all those pains and sorrows at the sight of which he shudders. He sees the ills and he sees the wickedness in the world, but far from knowing that both of these are but different sides of the manifestation of the one will to live, he regards them as very different, and indeed quite opposed, and often seeks to escape by wickedness, i.e., by causing the suffering of another, from ills, from the suffering of his own individuality, for he is involved in the principium individuationis, deluded by the veil of Mâyâ. Just as a sailor sits in a boat trusting to his frail barque in a stormy sea, unbounded in every direction, rising and falling with the howling mountainous waves; so in the midst of a world of sorrows the individual man sits quietly, supported by and trusting to the principium individuationis, or the way in which the individual knows things as phenomena. The boundless world, everywhere full of suffering in the infinite past, in the infinite future, is strange to him, indeed is to him but a fable; his ephemeral person, his extensionless present, his momentary satisfaction, this alone has reality for him; and he does all to maintain this, so long as his eyes are not opened by a better knowledge. Till then, there lives only in the inmost depths of his consciousness a very obscure presentiment that all that is after all not really so strange to him, but has a connection with him, from which the principium individuationis cannot protect him. From this presentiment arises that ineradicable awe common to all men (and indeed perhaps even to the most sensible of the brutes) which suddenly seizes them if by any chance they become puzzled about the principium individuationis, because the principle of sufficient reason in some one of its forms seems to admit of an exception. For example, if it seems as if some change took place without a cause, or some one who is dead appears again, or if in any other way the past or the future becomes present or the distant becomes near. The fearful terror at anything of the kind is founded on the fact that they suddenly become puzzled about the forms of knowledge of the phenomenon, which alone separate their own individuality from the rest of the world. But even this separation lies only in the phenomenon, and not in the thing-in-itself; and on this rests eternal justice. In fact, all temporal happiness stands, and all prudence proceeds, upon ground that is undermined. They defend the person from accidents and supply its pleasures; but the person is merely phenomenon, and its difference from other individuals, and exemption from the sufferings which they endure, rests merely in the form of the phenomenon, the principium individuationis. According to the true nature of things, every one has all the suffering of the world as his own, and indeed has to regard all merely possible suffering as for him actual, so long as he is the fixed will to live, i.e., asserts life with all his power. For the knowledge that sees through the principium individuationis, a happy life in time, the gift of chance or won by prudence, amid the sorrows of innumerable others, is only the dream of a beggar in which he is a king, but from which he must awake and learn from experience that only a fleeting illusion had separated him from the suffering of his life.
Eternal justice withdraws itself from the vision that is involved in the knowledge which follows the principle of sufficient reason in the principium individuationis; such vision misses it altogether unless it vindicates it in some way by fictions. It sees the bad, after misdeeds and cruelties of every kind, live in happiness and leave the world unpunished. It sees the oppressed drag out a life full of suffering to the end without an avenger, a requiter appearing. But that man only will grasp and comprehend eternal justice who raises himself above the knowledge that proceeds under the guidance of the principle of sufficient reason, bound to the particular thing, and recognises the Ideas, sees through the principium individuationis, and becomes conscious that the forms of the phenomenon do not apply to the thing-in-itself. Moreover, he alone, by virtue of the same knowledge, can understand the true nature of virtue, as it will soon disclose itself to us in connection with the present inquiry, although for the practice of virtue this knowledge in the abstract is by no means demanded. Thus it becomes clear to whoever has attained to the knowledge referred to, that because the will is the in-itself of all phenomena, the misery which is awarded to others and that which he experiences himself, the bad and the evil, always concerns only that one inner being which is everywhere the same, although the phenomena in which the one and the other exhibits itself exist as quite different individuals, and are widely separated by time and space. He sees that the difference between him who inflicts the suffering and him who must bear it is only the phenomenon, and does not concern the thing-in-itself, for this is the will living in both, which here, deceived by the knowledge which is bound to its service, does not recognise itself, and seeking an increased happiness in one of its phenomena, produces great suffering in another, and thus, in the pressure of excitement, buries its teeth in its own flesh, not knowing that it always injures only itself, revealing in this form, through the medium of individuality, the conflict with itself which it bears in its inner nature. The inflicter of suffering and the sufferer are one. The former errs in that he believes he is not a partaker in the suffering; the latter, in that he believes he is not a partaker in the guilt. If the eyes of both were opened, the inflicter of suffering would see that he lives in all that suffers pain in the wide world, and which, if endowed with reason, in vain asks why it was called into existence for such great suffering, its desert of which it does not understand. And the sufferer would see that all the wickedness which is or ever was committed in the world proceeds from that will which constitutes his own nature also, appears also in him, and that through this phenomenon and its assertion he has taken upon himself all the sufferings which proceed from such a will and bears them as his due, so long as he is this will. From this knowledge speaks the profound poet Calderon in “Life a Dream”—
Pues el delito mayor
Del hombre es haber nacido.
(For the greatest crime of man
Is that he ever was born.)
Why should it not be a crime, since, according to an eternal law, death follows upon it? Calderon has merely expressed in these lines the Christian dogma of original sin.
The living knowledge of eternal justice, of the balance that inseparably binds together the malum culpæ with the malum pœnæ, demands the complete transcending of individuality and the principle of its possibility. Therefore it will always remain unattainable to the majority of men, as will also be the case with the pure and distinct knowledge of the nature of all virtue, which is akin to it, and which we are about to explain. Accordingly the wise ancestors of the Hindu people have directly expressed it in the Vedas, which are only allowed to the three regenerate castes, or in their esoteric teaching, so far at any rate as conception and language comprehend it, and their method of exposition, which always remains pictorial and even rhapsodical, admits; but in the religion of the people, or exoteric teaching, they only communicate it by means of myths. The direct exposition we find in the Vedas, the fruit of the highest human knowledge and wisdom, the kernel of which has at last reached us in the Upanishads as the greatest gift of this century. It is expressed in various ways, but especially by making all the beings in the world, living and lifeless, pass successively before the view of the student, and pronouncing over every one of them that word which has become a formula, and as such has been called the Mahavakya: Tatoumes,—more correctly, Tat twam asi,—which means, “This thou art.” But for the people, that great truth, so far as in their limited condition they could comprehend it, was translated into the form of knowledge which follows the principle of sufficient reason. This form of knowledge is indeed, from its nature, quite incapable of apprehending that truth pure and in itself, and even stands in contradiction to it, yet in the form of a myth it received a substitute for it which was sufficient as a guide for conduct. For the myth enables the method of knowledge, in accordance with the principle of sufficient reason, to comprehend by figurative representation the ethical significance of conduct, which itself is ever foreign to it. This is the aim of all systems of religion, for as a whole they are the mythical clothing of the truth which is unattainable to the uncultured human intellect. In this sense this myth might, in Kant's language, be called a postulate of the practical reason; but regarded as such, it has the great advantage that it contains absolutely no elements but such as lie before our eyes in the course of actual experience, and can therefore support all its conceptions with perceptions. What is here referred to is the myth of the transmigration of souls. It teaches that all sufferings which in life one inflicts upon other beings must be expiated in a subsequent life in this world, through precisely the same sufferings; and this extends so far, that he who only kills a brute must, some time in endless time, be born as the same kind of brute and suffer the same death. It teaches that wicked conduct involves a future life in this world in suffering and despised creatures, and, accordingly, that one will then be born again in lower castes, or as a woman, or as a brute, as Pariah or Tschandala, as a leper, or as a crocodile, and so forth. All the pains which the myth threatens it supports with perceptions from actual life, through suffering creatures which do not know how they have merited their misery, and it does not require to call in the assistance of any other hell. As a reward, on the other hand, it promises re-birth in better, nobler forms, as Brahmans, wise men, or saints. The highest reward, which awaits the noblest deeds and the completest resignation, which is also given to the woman who in seven successive lives has voluntarily died on the funeral pile of her husband, and not less to the man whose pure mouth has never uttered a single lie,—this reward the myth can only express negatively in the language of this world by the promise, which is so often repeated, that they shall never be born again, Non adsumes iterum existentiam apparentem; or, as the Buddhists, who recognise neither Vedas nor castes, express it, “Thou shalt attain to Nirvâna,” i.e., to a state in which four things no longer exist—birth, age, sickness, and death.
Never has a myth entered, and never will one enter, more closely into the philosophical truth which is attainable to so few than this primitive doctrine of the noblest and most ancient nation. Broken up as this nation now is into many parts, this myth yet reigns as the universal belief of the people, and has the most decided influence upon life to-day, as four thousand years ago. Therefore Pythagoras and Plato have seized with admiration on that ne plus ultra of mythical representation, received it from India or Egypt, honoured it, made use of it, and, we know not how far, even believed it. We, on the contrary, now send the Brahmans English clergymen and evangelical linen-weavers to set them right out of sympathy, and to show them that they are created out of nothing, and ought thankfully to rejoice in the fact. But it is just the same as if we fired a bullet against a cliff. In India our religions will never take root. The ancient wisdom of the human race will not be displaced by what happened in Galilee. On the contrary, Indian philosophy streams back to Europe, and will produce a fundamental change in our knowledge and thought.
From our exposition of eternal justice, which is not mythical but philosophical, we will now proceed to the kindred investigation of the ethical significance of conduct and of conscience, which is the merely felt knowledge of that significance. But first I wish at this point to draw attention to two peculiarities of human nature, that might help to make clear how the nature of that eternal justice, and the unity and identity of the will in all its phenomena upon which it rests, is known to every one, at least as an obscure feeling.
When a bad deed has been done, it affords satisfaction not only to the sufferer, who for the most part feels the desire of revenge, but also to the perfectly indifferent spectator, to see that he who caused another pain suffers himself a like measure of pain; and this quite independently of the end which we have shown the state has in view in punishment, and which is the foundation of penal law. It seems to me that what expresses itself here is nothing but the consciousness of that eternal justice, which is, nevertheless, at once misunderstood and falsified by the unenlightened mind, for, involved in the principium individuationis, it produces an amphiboly of the concepts and demands from the phenomenon what only belongs to the thing in itself. It does not see how far in themselves the offender and the offended are one, and that it is the same being which, not recognising itself in its own manifestation, bears both the pain and the guilt, but it desires rather to see the pain also in the particular individual to whom the guilt belongs. Therefore, most persons would demand that a man who had a very high degree of wickedness which might yet occur in many others, only not matched with other qualities such as are found in him, a man who also far surpassed others by extraordinary intellectual powers, and who inflicted unspeakable sufferings upon millions of others—for example, as a conqueror,—most persons, I say, would demand that such a man should at some time and in some place expiate all these sufferings by a like amount of pain; for they do not recognise how in themselves the inflicter of suffering and the sufferers are one, and that it is the same will through which the latter exist and live which also appears in the former, and just through him attains to a distinct revelation of its nature, and which likewise suffers both in the oppressed and the oppressor; and indeed in the latter in a greater measure, as the consciousness has attained a higher degree of clearness and distinctness and the will has greater vehemence. But that the deeper knowledge, which is no longer involved in the principium individuationis, from which all virtue and nobleness proceed, no longer retains the disposition which demands requital, is shown by the Christian ethics, which absolutely forbids all requital of evil with evil, and allows eternal justice to proceed in the sphere of the thing-in-itself, which is different from that of the phenomenon. (“Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord,”—Rom. xii. 19.)
A much more striking, but also a much rarer, characteristic of human nature, which expresses that desire to draw eternal justice into the province of experience, i.e., of individuality, and at the same time indicates a felt consciousness that, as I have expressed it above, the will to live conducts at its own cost the great tragedy and comedy, and that the same one will lives in all manifestations,—such a characteristic, I say, is the following. We sometimes see a man so deeply moved by a great injury which he has experienced, or, it may be, only witnessed, that he deliberately and irretrievably stakes his own life in order to take vengeance on the perpetrator of that wrong. We see him seek for some mighty oppressor through long years, murder him at last, and then himself die on the scaffold, as he had foreseen, and often, it may be, did not seek to avoid, for his life had value for him only as a means of vengeance. We find examples of this especially among the Spaniards. If, now, we consider the spirit of that desire for retribution carefully, we find that it is very different from common revenge, which seeks to mitigate the suffering, endured by the sight of the suffering inflicted; indeed, we find that what it aims at deserves to be called, not so much revenge as punishment. For in it there really lies the intention of an effect upon the future through the example, and that without any selfish aim, either for the avenging person, for it costs him his life, or for a society which secures its own safety by laws. For that punishment is carried out by individuals, not by the state, nor is it in fulfilment of a law, but, on the contrary, always concerns a deed which the state either would not or could not punish, and the punishment of which it condemns. It seems to me that the indignation which carries such a man so far beyond the limits of all self-love springs from the deepest consciousness that he himself is the whole will to live, which appears in all beings through all time, and that therefore the most distant future belongs to him just as the present, and cannot be indifferent to him. Asserting this will, he yet desires that in the drama which represents its nature no such fearful wrong shall ever appear again, and wishes to frighten ever future wrong-doer by the example of a vengeance against which there is no means of defence, since the avenger is not deterred by the fear of death. The will to live, though still asserting itself, does not here depend any longer upon the particular phenomenon, the individual, but comprehends the Idea of man, and wishes to keep its manifestation pure from such a fearful and shocking wrong. It is a rare, very significant, and even sublime trait of character through which the individual sacrifices himself by striving to make himself the arm of eternal justice, of the true nature of which he is yet ignorant.
In all the preceding investigations of human action, we have been leading up to the final investigation, and have to a considerable extent lightened the task of raising to abstract and philosophical clearness, and exhibiting as a branch of our central thought that special ethical significance of action which in life is with perfect understanding denoted by the words good and bad.
First, however, I wish to trace back to their real meaning those conceptions of good and bad which have been treated by the philosophical writers of the day, very extraordinarily, as simple conceptions, and thus incapable of analysis; so that the reader may not remain involved in the senseless delusion that they contain more than is actually the case, and express in and for themselves all that is here necessary. I am in a position to do this because in ethics I am no more disposed to take refuge behind the word good than formerly behind the words beautiful and true, in order that by the adding a “ness,” which at the present day is supposed to have a special σεμνοτης, and therefore to be of assistance in various cases, and by assuming an air of solemnity, I might induce the belief that by uttering three such words I had done more than denote three very wide and abstract, and consequently empty conceptions, of very different origin and significance. Who is there, indeed, who has made himself acquainted with the books of our own day to whom these three words, admirable as are the things to which they originally refer, have not become an aversion after he has seen for the thousandth time how those who are least capable of thinking believe that they have only to utter these three words with open mouth and the air of an intelligent sheep, in order to have spoken the greatest wisdom?
The explanation of the concept true has already been given in the essay on the principle of sufficient reason, chap. v. § 29 et seq. The content of the concept beautiful found for the first time its proper explanation through the whole of the Third Book of the present work. We now wish to discover the significance of the concept good, which can be done with very little trouble. This concept is essentially relative, and signifies the conformity of an object to any definite effort of the will. Accordingly everything that corresponds to the will in any of its expressions and fulfils its end is thought through the concept good, however different such things may be in other respects. Thus we speak of good eating, good roads, good weather, good weapons, good omens, and so on; in short, we call everything good that is just as we wish it to be; and therefore that may be good in the eyes of one man which is just the reverse in those of another. The conception of the good divides itself into two sub-species—that of the direct and present satisfaction of any volition, and that of its indirect satisfaction which has reference to the future, i.e., the agreeable and the useful. The conception of the opposite, so long as we are speaking of unconscious existence, is expressed by the word bad, more rarely and abstractly by the word evil, which thus denotes everything that does not correspond to any effort of the will. Like all other things that can come into relation to the will, men who are favourable to the ends which happen to be desired, who further and befriend them, are called good, in the same sense, and always with that relative limitation, which shows itself, for example, in the expression, “I find this good, but you don't.” Those, however, who are naturally disposed not to hinder the endeavours of others, but rather to assist them, and who are thus consistently helpful, benevolent, friendly, and charitable, are called good men, on account of this relation of their conduct to the will of others in general. In the case of conscious beings (brutes and men) the contrary conception is denoted in German, and, within the last hundred years or so, in French also, by a different word from that which is used in speaking of unconscious existence; in German, böse; in French, méchant; while in almost all other languages this distinction does not exist; and κακος, malus, cattivo, bad, are used of men, as of lifeless things, which are opposed to the ends of a definite individual will. Thus, having started entirely from the passive element in the good, the inquiry could only proceed later to the active element, and investigate the conduct of the man who is called good, no longer with reference to others, but to himself; specially setting itself the task of explaining both the purely objective respect which such conduct produces in others, and the peculiar contentment with himself which it clearly produces in the man himself, since he purchases it with sacrifices of another kind; and also, on the other hand, the inner pain which accompanies the bad disposition, whatever outward advantages it brings to him who entertains it. It was from this source that the ethical systems, both the philosophical and those which are supported by systems of religion, took their rise. Both seek constantly in some way or other to connect happiness with virtue, the former either by means of the principle of contradiction or that of sufficient reason, and thus to make happiness either identical with or the consequence of virtue, always sophistically; the latter, by asserting the existence of other worlds than that which alone can be known to experience. In our system, on the contrary, virtue will show itself, not as a striving after happiness, that is, well-being and life, but as an effort in quite an opposite direction.
It follows from what has been said above, that the good is, according to its concept, των πρως τι; thus every good is essentially relative, for its being consists in its relation to a desiring will. Absolute good is, therefore, a contradiction in terms; highest good, summum bonum, really signifies the same thing—a final satisfaction of the will, after which no new desire could arise,—a last motive, the attainment of which would afford enduring satisfaction of the will. But, according to the investigations which have already been conducted in this Fourth Book, such a consummation is not even thinkable. The will can just as little cease from willing altogether on account of some particular satisfaction, as time can end or begin; for it there is no such thing as a permanent fulfilment which shall completely and for ever satisfy its craving. It is the vessel of the Danaides; for it there is no highest good, no absolute good, but always a merely temporary good. If, however, we wish to give an honorary position, as it were emeritus, to an old expression, which from custom we do not like to discard altogether, we may, metaphorically and figuratively, call the complete self-effacement and denial of the will, the true absence of will, which alone for ever stills and silences its struggle, alone gives that contentment which can never again be disturbed, alone redeems the world, and which we shall now soon consider at the close of our whole investigation—the absolute good, the summum bonum—and regard it as the only radical cure of the disease of which all other means are only palliations or anodynes. In this sense the Greek τελος and also finis bonorum correspond to the thing still better. So much for the words good and bad; now for the thing itself.
If a man is always disposed to do wrong whenever the opportunity presents itself, and there is no external power to restrain him, we call him bad. According to our doctrine of wrong, this means that such a man does not merely assert the will to live as it appears in his own body, but in this assertion goes so far that he denies the will which appears in other individuals. This is shown by the fact that he desires their powers for the service of his own will, and seeks to destroy their existence when they stand in the way of its efforts. The ultimate source of this is a high degree of egoism, the nature of which has been already explained. Two things are here apparent. In the first place, that in such a man an excessively vehement will to live expresses itself, extending far beyond the assertion of his own body; and, in the second place, that his knowledge, entirely given up to the principle of sufficient reason and involved in the principium individuationis, cannot get beyond the difference which this latter principle establishes between his own person and every one else. Therefore he seeks his own well-being alone, completely indifferent to that of all others, whose existence is to him altogether foreign and divided from his own by a wide gulf, and who are indeed regarded by him as mere masks with no reality behind them. And these two qualities are the constituent elements of the bad character.
This great intensity of will is in itself and directly a constant source of suffering. In the first place, because all volition as such arises from want; that is, suffering. (Therefore, as will be remembered, from the Third Book, the momentary cessation of all volition, which takes place whenever we give ourselves up to æsthetic contemplation, as pure will-less subject of knowledge, the correlative of the Idea, is one of the principal elements in our pleasure in the beautiful.) Secondly, because, through the causal connection of things, most of our desires must remain unfulfilled, and the will is oftener crossed than satisfied, and therefore much intense volition carries with it much intense suffering. For all suffering is simply unfulfilled and crossed volition; and even the pain of the body when it is injured or destroyed is as such only possible through the fact that the body is nothing but the will itself become object. Now on this account, because much intense suffering is inseparable from much intense volition, very bad men bear the stamp of inward suffering in the very expression of the countenance; even when they have attained every external happiness, they always look unhappy so long as they are not transported by some momentary ecstasy and are not dissembling. From this inward torment, which is absolutely and directly essential to them, there finally proceeds that delight in the suffering of others which does not spring from mere egoism, but is disinterested, and which constitutes wickedness proper, rising to the pitch of cruelty. For this the suffering of others is not a means for the attainment of the ends of its own will, but an end in itself. The more definite explanation of this phenomenon is as follows:—Since man is a manifestation of will illuminated by the clearest knowledge, he is always contrasting the actual and felt satisfaction of his will with the merely possible satisfaction of it which knowledge presents to him. Hence arises envy: every privation is infinitely increased by the enjoyment of others, and relieved by the knowledge that others also suffer the same privation. Those ills which are common to all and inseparable from human life trouble us little, just as those which belong to the climate, to the whole country. The recollection of greater sufferings than our own stills our pain; the sight of the sufferings of others soothes our own. If, now, a man is filled with an exceptionally intense pressure of will,—if with burning eagerness he seeks to accumulate everything to slake the thirst of his egoism, and thus experiences, as he inevitably must, that all satisfaction is merely apparent, that the attained end never fulfils the promise of the desired object, the final appeasing of the fierce pressure of will, but that when fulfilled the wish only changes its form, and now torments him in a new one; and indeed that if at last all wishes are exhausted, the pressure of will itself remains without any conscious motive, and makes itself known to him with fearful pain as a feeling of terrible desolation and emptiness; if from all this, which in the case of the ordinary degrees of volition is only felt in a small measure, and only produces the ordinary degree of melancholy, in the case of him who is a manifestation of will reaching the point of extraordinary wickedness, there necessarily springs an excessive inward misery, an eternal unrest, an incurable pain; he seeks indirectly the alleviation which directly is denied him,—seeks to mitigate his own suffering by the sight of the suffering of others, which at the same time he recognises as an expression of his power. The suffering of others now becomes for him an end in itself, and is a spectacle in which he delights; and thus arises the phenomenon of pure cruelty, blood-thirstiness, which history exhibits so often in the Neros and Domitians, in the African Deis, in Robespierre, and the like.
The desire of revenge is closely related to wickedness. It recompenses evil with evil, not with reference to the future, which is the character of punishment, but merely on account of what has happened, what is past, as such, thus disinterestedly, not as a means, but as an end, in order to revel in the torment which the avenger himself has inflicted on the offender. What distinguishes revenge from pure wickedness, and to some extent excuses it, is an appearance of justice. For if the same act, which is now revenge, were to be done legally, that is, according to a previously determined and known rule, and in a society which had sanctioned this rule, it would be punishment, and thus justice.
Besides the suffering which has been described, and which is inseparable from wickedness, because it springs from the same root, excessive vehemence of will, another specific pain quite different from this is connected with wickedness, which is felt in the case of every bad action, whether it be merely injustice proceeding from egoism or pure wickedness, and according to the length of its duration is called the sting of conscience or remorse. Now, whoever remembers and has present in his mind the content of the preceding portion of this Fourth Book, and especially the truth explained at the beginning of it, that life itself is always assured to the will to live, as its mere copy or mirror, and also the exposition of eternal justice, will find that the sting of conscience can have no other meaning than the following, i.e., its content, abstractly expressed, is what follows, in which two parts are distinguished, which again, however, entirely coincide, and must be thought as completely united.
However closely the veil of Mâyâ may envelop the mind of the bad man, i.e., however firmly he may be involved in the principium individuationis, according to which he regards his person as absolutely different and separated by a wide gulf from all others, a knowledge to which he clings with all his might, as it alone suits and supports his egoism, so that knowledge is almost always corrupted by will, yet there arises in the inmost depths of his consciousness the secret presentiment that such an order of things is only phenomenal, and that their real constitution is quite different. He has a dim foreboding that, however much time and space may separate him from other individuals and the innumerable miseries which they suffer, and even suffer through him, and may represent them as quite foreign to him, yet in themselves, and apart from the idea and its forms, it is the one will to live appearing in them all, which here failing to recognise itself, turns its weapons against itself, and, by seeking increased happiness in one of its phenomena, imposes the greatest suffering upon another. He dimly sees that he, the bad man, is himself this whole will; that consequently he is not only the inflicter of pain but also the endurer of it, from whose suffering he is only separated and exempted by an illusive dream, the form of which is space and time, which, however, vanishes away; that he must in reality pay for the pleasure with the pain, and that all suffering which he only knows as possible really concerns him as the will to live, inasmuch as the possible and actual, the near and the distant in time and space, are only different for the knowledge of the individual, only by means of the principium individuationis, not in themselves. This is the truth which mythically, i.e., adapted to the principle of sufficient reason, and so translated into the form of the phenomenal, is expressed in the transmigration of souls. Yet it has its purest expression, free from all foreign admixture, in that obscurely felt yet inconsolable misery called remorse. But this springs also from a second immediate knowledge, which is closely bound to the first—the knowledge of the strength with which the will to live asserts itself in the wicked individual, which extends far beyond his own individual phenomenon, to the absolute denial of the same will appearing in other individuals. Consequently the inward horror of the wicked man at his own deed, which he himself tries to conceal, contains, besides that presentment of the nothingness, the mere illusiveness of the principium individuationis, and of the distinction established by it between him and others; also the knowledge of the vehemence of his own will, the intensity with which he has seized upon life and attached himself closely to it, even that life whose terrible side he sees before him in the misery of those who are oppressed by him, and with which he is yet so firmly united, that just on this account the greatest atrocity proceeds from him himself, as a means for the fuller assertion of his own will. He recognises himself as the concentrated manifestation of the will to live, feels to what degree he is given up to life, and with it also to innumerable sufferings which are essential to it, for it has infinite time and infinite space to abolish the distinction between the possible and the actual, and to change all the sufferings which as yet are merely known to him into sufferings he has experienced. The millions of years of constant rebirth certainly exist, like the whole past and future, only in conception; occupied time, the form of the phenomenon of the will, is only the present, and for the individual time is ever new: it seems to him always as if he had newly come into being. For life is inseparable from the will to live, and the only form of life is the present. Death (the repetition of the comparison must be excused) is like the setting of the sun, which is only apparently swallowed up by the night, but in reality, itself the source of all light, burns without intermission, brings new days to new worlds, is always rising and always setting. Beginning and end only concern the individual through time, the form of the phenomenon for the idea. Outside time lies only the will, Kant's thing-in-itself, and its adequate objectification, the Idea of Plato. Therefore suicide affords no escape; what every one in his inmost consciousness wills, that must he be; and what every one is, that he wills. Thus, besides the merely felt knowledge of the illusiveness and nothingness of the forms of the idea which separate individuals, it is the self-knowledge of one's own will and its degree that gives the sting to conscience. The course of life draws the image of the empirical character, whose original is the intelligible character, and horrifies the wicked man by this image. He is horrified all the same whether the image is depicted in large characters, so that the world shares his horror, or in such small ones that he alone sees it, for it only concerns him directly. The past would be a matter of indifference, and could not pain the conscience if the character did not feel itself free from all time and unalterable by it, so long as it does not deny itself. Therefore things which are long past still weigh on the conscience. The prayer, “Lead me not into temptation,” means, “Let me not see what manner of person I am.” In the might with which the bad man asserts life, and which exhibits itself to him in the sufferings which he inflicts on others, he measures how far he is from the surrender and denial of that will, the only possible deliverance from the world and its miseries. He sees how far he belongs to it, and how firmly he is bound to it; the known suffering of others has no power to move him; he is given up to life and felt suffering. It remains hidden whether this will ever break and overcome the vehemence of his will.
This exposition of the significance and inner nature of the bad, which as mere feeling, i.e., not as distinct, abstract knowledge, is the content of remorse, will gain distinctness and completeness by the similar consideration of the good as a quality of human will, and finally of absolute resignation and holiness, which proceeds from it when it has attained its highest grade. For opposites always throw light upon each other, and the day at once reveals both itself and the night, as Spinoza admirably remarks.
A theory of morals without proof, that is, mere moralising, can effect nothing, because it does not act as a motive. A theory of morals which does act as a motive can do so only by working on self-love. But what springs from this source has no moral worth. It follows from this that no genuine virtue can be produced through moral theory or abstract knowledge in general, but that such virtue must spring from that intuitive knowledge which recognises in the individuality of others the same nature as in our own.
For virtue certainly proceeds from knowledge, but not from the abstract knowledge that can be communicated through words. If it were so, virtue could be taught, and by here expressing in abstract language its nature and the knowledge which lies at its foundation, we should make every one who comprehends this even ethically better. But this is by no means the case. On the contrary, ethical discourses and preaching will just as little produce a virtuous man as all the systems of æsthetics from Aristotle downwards have succeeded in producing a poet. For the real inner nature of virtue the concept is unfruitful, just as it is in art, and it is only in a completely subordinate position that it can be of use as a tool in the elaboration and preserving of what has been ascertained and inferred by other means. Velle non discitur. Abstract dogmas are, in fact, without influence upon virtue, i.e., upon the goodness of the disposition. False dogmas do not disturb it; true ones will scarcely assist it. It would, in fact, be a bad look-out if the cardinal fact in the life of man, his ethical worth, that worth which counts for eternity, were dependent upon anything the attainment of which is so much a matter of chance as is the case with dogmas, religious doctrines, and philosophical theories. For morality dogmas have this value only: The man who has become virtuous from knowledge of another kind, which is presently to be considered, possesses in them a scheme or formula according to which he accounts to his own reason, for the most part fictitiously, for his non-egoistical action, the nature of which it, i.e., he himself, does not comprehend, and with which account he has accustomed it to be content.
Upon conduct, outward action, dogmas may certainly exercise a powerful influence, as also custom and example (the last because the ordinary man does not trust his judgment, of the weakness of which he is conscious, but only follows his own or some one else's experience), but the disposition is not altered in this way. All abstract knowledge gives only motives; but, as was shown above, motives can only alter the direction of the will, not the will itself. All communicable knowledge, however, can only affect the will as a motive. Thus when dogmas lead it, what the man really and in general wills remains still the same. He has only received different thoughts as to the ways in which it is to be attained, and imaginary motives guide him just like real ones. Therefore, for example, it is all one, as regards his ethical worth, whether he gives large gifts to the poor, firmly persuaded that he will receive everything tenfold in a future life, or expends the same sum on the improvement of an estate which will yield interest, certainly late, but all the more surely and largely. And he who for the sake of orthodoxy commits the heretic to the flames is as much a murderer as the bandit who does it for gain; and indeed, as regards inward circumstances, so also was he who slaughtered the Turks in the Holy Land, if, like the burner of heretics, he really did so because he thought that he would thereby gain a place in heaven. For these are careful only for themselves, for their own egoism, just like the bandit, from whom they are only distinguished by the absurdity of their means. From without, as has been said, the will can only be reached through motives, and these only alter the way in which it expresses itself, never the will itself. Velle non discitur.
In the case of good deeds, however, the doer of which appeals to dogmas, we must always distinguish whether these dogmas really are the motives which lead to the good deeds, or whether, as was said above, they are merely the illusive account of them with which he seeks to satisfy his own reason with regard to a good deed which really flows from quite a different source, a deed which he does because he is good, though he does not understand how to explain it rightly, and yet wishes to think something with regard to it. But this distinction is very hard to make, because it lies in the heart of a man. Therefore we can scarcely ever pass a correct moral judgment on the action of others, and very seldom on our own. The deeds and conduct of an individual and of a nation may be very much modified through dogmas, example, and custom. But in themselves all deeds (opera operata) are merely empty forms, and only the disposition which leads to them gives them moral significance. This disposition, however, may be quite the same when its outward manifestation is very different. With an equal degree of wickedness, one man may die on the wheel, and another in the bosom of his family. It may be the same grade of wickedness which expresses itself in one nation in the coarse characteristics of murder and cannibalism, and in another finely and softly in miniature, in court intrigues, oppressions, and delicate plots of every kind; the inner nature remains the same. It is conceivable that a perfect state, or perhaps indeed a complete and firmly believed doctrine of rewards and punishments after death, might prevent every crime; politically much would be gained thereby; morally, nothing; only the expression of the will in life would be restricted.
Thus genuine goodness of disposition, disinterested virtue, and pure nobility do not proceed from abstract knowledge. Yet they do proceed from knowledge; but it is a direct intuitive knowledge, which can neither be reasoned away, nor arrived at by reasoning, a knowledge which, just because it is not abstract, cannot be communicated, but must arise in each for himself, which therefore finds its real and adequate expression not in words, but only in deeds, in conduct, in the course of the life of man. We who here seek the theory of virtue, and have therefore also to express abstractly the nature of the knowledge which lies at its foundation, will yet be unable to convey that knowledge itself in this expression. We can only give the concept of this knowledge, and thus always start from action in which alone it becomes visible, and refer to action as its only adequate expression. We can only explain and interpret action, i.e., express abstractly what really takes place in it.
Before we speak of the good proper, in opposition to the bad, which has been explained, we must touch on an intermediate grade, the mere negation of the bad: this is justice. The nature of right and wrong has been fully explained above; therefore we may briefly say here, that he who voluntarily recognises and observes those merely moral limits between wrong and right, even where this is not secured by the state or any other external power, thus he who, according to our explanation, never carries the assertion of his own will so far as to deny the will appearing in another individual, is just. Thus, in order to increase his own well-being, he will not inflict suffering upon others, i.e., he will commit no crime, he will respect the rights and the property of others. We see that for such a just man the principium individuationis is no longer, as in the case of the bad man, an absolute wall of partition. We see that he does not, like the bad man, merely assert his own manifestation of will and deny all others; that other persons are not for him mere masks, whose nature is quite different from his own; but he shows in his conduct that he also recognises his own nature—the will to live as a thing-in-itself, in the foreign manifestation which is only given to him as idea. Thus he finds himself again in that other manifestation, up to a certain point, that of doing no wrong, i.e., abstaining from injury. To this extent, therefore, he sees through the principium individuationis, the veil of Mâyâ; so far he sets the being external to him on a level with his own—he does it no injury.
If we examine the inmost nature of this justice, there already lies in it the resolution not to go so far in the assertion of one's own will as to deny the manifestations of will of others, by compelling them to serve one's own. One will therefore wish to render to others as much as one receives from them. The highest degree of this justice of disposition, which is, however, always united with goodness proper, whose character is no longer merely negative, extends so far that a man doubts his right to inherited property, wishes to support his body only by his own powers, mental and physical, feels every service of others and every luxury a reproach, and finally embraces voluntary poverty. Thus we see how Pascal, when he became an ascetic, would no longer permit any services to be rendered him, although he had servants enough; in spite of his constant bad health he made his bed himself, brought his own food from the kitchen, &c. (“Vie de Pascal, par sa Sœur,” p. 19). Quite in keeping with this, it is reported that many Hindus, even Rajas with great wealth, expend it merely on the maintenance of their position, their court and attendants, and themselves observe with the greatest scrupulousness the maxim that a man should eat nothing that he has not himself both sowed and reaped. Yet a certain misunderstanding lies at the bottom of this; for one man, just because he is rich and powerful, can render such signal services to the whole of human society that they counterbalance the wealth he has inherited, for the secure possession of which he is indebted to society. In reality that excessive justice of such Hindus is already more than justice; it is actual renunciation, denial of the will to live,—asceticism, of which we shall speak last. On the other hand, pure idleness and living through the exertions of others, in the case of inherited wealth, without accomplishing anything, may be regarded as morally wrong, even if it must remain right according to positive laws.
We have found that voluntary justice has its inmost source in a certain degree of penetration of the principium individuationis, while the unjust remain entirely involved in this principle. This penetration may exist not only in the degree which is required for justice, but also in the higher degree which leads to benevolence and well-doing, to love of mankind. And this may take place however strong and energetic in itself the will which appears in such an individual may be. Knowledge can always counterbalance it in him, teach him to resist the tendency to wrong, and even produce in him every degree of goodness, and indeed of resignation. Thus the good man is by no means to be regarded as originally a weaker manifestation of will than the bad man, but it is knowledge which in him masters the blind striving of will. There are certainly individuals who merely seem to have a good disposition on account of the weakness of the will appearing in them, but what they are soon appears from the fact that they are not capable of any remarkable self-conquest in order to perform a just or good deed.
If, however, as a rare exception, we meet a man who possesses a considerable income, but uses very little of it for himself and gives all the rest to the poor, while he denies himself many pleasures and comforts, and we seek to explain the action of this man, we shall find, apart altogether from the dogmas through which he tries to make his action intelligible to his reason, that the simplest general expression and the essential character of his conduct is that he makes less distinction than is usually made between himself and others. This distinction is so great in the eyes of many that the suffering of others is a direct pleasure to the wicked and a welcome means of happiness to the unjust. The merely just man is content not to cause it; and, in general, most men know and are acquainted with innumerable sufferings of others in their vicinity, but do not determine to mitigate them, because to do so would involve some self-denial on their part. Thus, in each of all these a strong distinction seems to prevail between his own ego and that of others; on the other hand, to the noble man we have imagined, this distinction is not so significant. The principium individuationis, the form of the phenomenon, no longer holds him so tightly in its grasp, but the suffering which he sees in others touches him almost as closely as his own. He therefore tries to strike a balance between them, denies himself pleasures, practises renunciation, in order to mitigate the sufferings of others. He sees that the distinction between himself and others, which to the bad man is so great a gulf, only belongs to a fleeting and illusive phenomenon. He recognises directly and without reasoning that the in-itself of his own manifestation is also that of others, the will to live, which constitutes the inner nature of everything and lives in all; indeed, that this applies also to the brutes and the whole of nature, and therefore he will not cause suffering even to a brute.
He is now just as little likely to allow others to starve, while he himself has enough and to spare, as any one would be to suffer hunger one day in order to have more the next day than he could enjoy. For to him who does works of love the veil of Mâyâ has become transparent, the illusion of the principium individuationis has left him. He recognises himself, his will, in every being, and consequently also in the sufferer. He is now free from the perversity with which the will to live, not recognising itself, here in one individual enjoys a fleeting and precarious pleasure, and there in another pays for it with suffering and starvation, and thus both inflicts and endures misery, not knowing that, like Thyestes, it eagerly devours its own flesh; and then, on the one hand, laments its undeserved suffering, and on the other hand transgresses without fear of Nemesis, always merely because, involved in the principium individuationis, thus generally in the kind of knowledge which is governed by the principle of sufficient reason, it does not recognise itself in the foreign phenomenon, and therefore does not perceive eternal justice. To be cured of this illusion and deception of Mâyâ, and to do works of love, are one and the same. But the latter is the necessary and inevitable symptom of that knowledge.
The opposite of the sting of conscience, the origin and significance of which is explained above, is the good conscience, the satisfaction which we experience after every disinterested deed. It arises from the fact that such a deed, as it proceeds from the direct recognition of our own inner being in the phenomenon of another, affords us also the verification of this knowledge, the knowledge that our true self exists not only in our own person, this particular manifestation, but in everything that lives. By this the heart feels itself enlarged, as by egoism it is contracted. For as the latter concentrates our interest upon the particular manifestation of our own individuality, upon which knowledge always presents to us the innumerable dangers which constantly threaten this manifestation, and anxiety and care becomes the key-note of our disposition; the knowledge that everything living is just as much our own inner nature, as is our own person, extends our interest to everything living; and in this way the heart is enlarged. Thus through the diminished interest in our own self, the anxious care for the self is attacked at its very root and limited; hence the peace, the unbroken serenity, which a virtuous disposition and a good conscience affords, and the more distinct appearance of this with every good deed, for it proves to ourselves the depth of that disposition. The egoist feels himself surrounded by strange and hostile individuals, and all his hope is centred in his own good. The good man lives in a world of friendly individuals, the well-being of any of whom he regards as his own. Therefore, although the knowledge of the lot of mankind generally does not make his disposition a joyful one, yet the permanent knowledge of his own nature in all living beings, gives him a certain evenness, and even serenity of disposition. For the interest which is extended to innumerable manifestations cannot cause such anxiety as that which is concentrated upon one. The accidents which concern individuals collectively, equalise themselves, while those which happen to the particular individual constitute good or bad fortune.
Thus, though others have set up moral principles which they give out as prescriptions for virtue, and laws which it was necessary to follow, I, as has already been said, cannot do this because I have no “ought” or law to prescribe to the eternally free-will. Yet on the other hand, in the connection of my system, what to a certain extent corresponds and is analogous to that undertaking is the purely theoretical truth, of which my whole exposition may be regarded as merely an elaboration, that the will is the in-itself of every phenomenon but itself, as such, is free from the forms of the phenomenal, and consequently from multiplicity; a truth, which, with reference to action, I do not know how to express better than by the formula of the Vedas already quoted: “Tat twam asi!” (This thou art!) Whoever is able to say this to himself, with regard to every being with whom he comes in contact, with clear knowledge and firm inward conviction, is certain of all virtue and blessedness, and is on the direct road to salvation.
But before I go further, and, as the conclusion of my exposition, show how love, the origin and nature of which we recognised as the penetration of the principium individuationis, leads to salvation, to the entire surrender of the will to live, i.e., of all volition, and also how another path, less soft but more frequented, leads men to the same goal, a paradoxical proposition must first be stated and explained; not because it is paradoxical, but because it is true, and is necessary to the completeness of the thought I have present. It is this: “All love (αγαπη, caritas) is sympathy.”
We have seen how justice proceeds from the penetration of the principium individuationis in a less degree, and how from its penetration in a higher degree there arises goodness of disposition proper, which shows itself as pure, i.e., disinterested love towards others. When now the latter becomes perfect, it places other individuals and their fate completely on a level with itself and its own fate. Further than this it cannot go, for there exists no reason for preferring the individuality of another to its own. Yet the number of other individuals whose whole happiness or life is in danger may outweigh the regard for one's own particular well-being. In such a case, the character that has attained to the highest goodness and perfect nobility will entirely sacrifice its own well-being, and even its life, for the well-being of many others. So died Codrus, and Leonidas, and Regulus, and Decius Mus, and Arnold von Winkelried; so dies every one who voluntarily and consciously faces certain death for his friends or his country. And they also stand on the same level who voluntarily submit to suffering and death for maintaining what conduces and rightly belongs to the welfare of all mankind; that is, for maintaining universal and important truths and destroying great errors. So died Socrates and Giordano Bruno, and so many a hero of the truth suffered death at the stake at the hands of the priests.
Now, however, I must remind the reader, with reference to the paradox stated above, that we found before that suffering is essential to life as a whole, and inseparable from it. And that we saw that every wish proceeds from a need, from a want, from suffering, and that therefore every satisfaction is only the removal of a pain, and brings no positive happiness; that the joys certainly lie to the wish, presenting themselves as a positive good, but in truth they have only a negative nature, and are only the end of an evil. Therefore what goodness, love, and nobleness do for others, is always merely an alleviation of their suffering, and consequently all that can influence them to good deeds and works of love, is simply the knowledge of the suffering of others, which is directly understood from their own suffering and placed on a level with it. But it follows from this that pure love (αγαπη, caritas) is in its nature sympathy; whether the suffering it mitigates, to which every unsatisfied wish belongs, be great or small. Therefore we shall have no hesitation, in direct contradiction to Kant, who will only recognise all true goodness and all virtue to be such, if it has proceeded from abstract reflection, and indeed from the conception of duty and of the categorical imperative, and explains felt sympathy as weakness, and by no means virtue, we shall have no hesitation, I say, in direct contradiction to Kant, in saying: the mere concept is for genuine virtue just as unfruitful as it is for genuine art: all true and pure love is sympathy, and all love which is not sympathy is selfishness. Ερος is selfishness, αγαπη is sympathy. Combinations of the two frequently occur. Indeed genuine friendship is always a mixture of selfishness and sympathy; the former lies in the pleasure experienced in the presence of the friend, whose individuality corresponds to our own, and this almost always constitutes the greatest part; sympathy shows itself in the sincere participation in his joy and grief, and the disinterested sacrifices made in respect of the latter. Thus Spinoza says: Benevolentia nihil aliud est, quam cupiditas ex commiseratione orta (Eth. iii. pr. 27, cor. 3, schol.) As a confirmation of our paradoxical proposition it may be observed that the tone and words of the language and caresses of pure love, entirely coincide with the tones of sympathy; and we may also remark in passing that in Italian sympathy and true love are denoted by the same word pietà.
This is also the place to explain one of the most striking peculiarities of human nature, weeping, which, like laughter, belongs to those qualities which distinguish man from the brutes. Weeping is by no means a direct expression of pain, for it occurs where there is very little pain. In my opinion, indeed, we never weep directly on account of the pain we experience, but always merely on account of its repetition in reflection. We pass from the felt pain, even when it is physical, to a mere idea of it, and then find our own state so deserving of sympathy that we are firmly and sincerely convinced that if another were the sufferer, we would be full of sympathy, and love to relieve him. But now we ourselves are the object of our own sympathy; with the most benevolent disposition we are ourselves most in need of help; we feel that we suffer more than we could see another suffer; and in this very complex frame of mind, in which the directly felt suffering only comes to perception by a doubly circuitous route, imagined as the suffering of another, sympathised with as such, and then suddenly perceived again as directly our own,—in this complex frame of mind, I say, Nature relieves itself through that remarkable physical conflict. Weeping is accordingly sympathy with our own selves, or sympathy directed back on its source. It is therefore conditional upon the capacity for love and sympathy, and also upon imagination. Therefore men who are either hard-hearted or unimaginative do not weep easily, and weeping is even always regarded as a sign of a certain degree of goodness of character, and disarms anger, because it is felt that whoever can still weep, must necessarily always be capable of love, i.e., sympathy towards others, for this enters in the manner described into the disposition that leads to weeping. The description which Petrarch gives of the rising of his own tears, naïvely and truly expressing his feeling, entirely agrees with the explanation we have given—
I vo pensando: e nel pensar m' assale
Una pietà si forte di me stesso,
Che mi conduce spesso,
Ad alto lagrimar, ch'i non soleva.
What has been said is also confirmed by the fact that children who have been hurt generally do not cry till some one commiserates them; thus not on account of the pain, but on account of the idea of it. When we are moved to tears, not through our own suffering but through that of another, this happens as follows. Either we vividly put ourselves in the place of the sufferer by imagination, or see in his fate the lot of humanity as a whole, and consequently, first of all, our own lot; and thus, in a very roundabout way, it is yet always about ourselves that we weep, sympathy with ourselves which we feel. This seems to be the principal reason of the universal, and thus natural, weeping in the case of death. The mourner does not weep for his loss; he would be ashamed of such egotistical tears, instead of which he is sometimes ashamed of not weeping. First of all he certainly weeps for the fate of the dead, but he also weeps when, after long, heavy, and incurable suffering, death was to this man a wished-for deliverance. Thus, principally, he is seized with sympathy for the lot of all mankind, which is necessarily finite, so that every life, however aspiring, and often rich in deeds, must be extinguished and become nothing. But in this lot of mankind the mourner sees first of all his own, and this all the more, the more closely he is related to him who has died, thus most of all if it is his father. Although to his father his life was misery through age and sickness, and though his helplessness was a heavy burden to his son, yet that son weeps bitterly over the death of his father for the reason which has been given.
After this digression about the identity of pure love and sympathy, the final return of which upon our own individuality has, as its symptom, the phenomenon of weeping, I now take up the thread of our discussion of the ethical significance of action, in order to show how, from the same source from which all goodness, love, virtue, and nobility of character spring, there finally arises that which I call the denial of the will to live.
We saw before that hatred and wickedness are conditioned by egoism, and egoism rests on the entanglement of knowledge in the principium individuationis. Thus we found that the penetration of that principium individuationis is the source and the nature of justice, and when it is carried further, even to its fullest extent, it is the source and nature of love and nobility of character. For this penetration alone, by abolishing the distinction between our own individuality and that of others, renders possible and explains perfect goodness of disposition, extending to disinterested love and the most generous self-sacrifice for others.
If, however, this penetration of the principium individuationis, this direct knowledge of the identity of will in all its manifestations, is present in a high degree of distinctness, it will at once show an influence upon the will which extends still further. If that veil of Mâyâ, the principium individuationis, is lifted from the eyes of a man to such an extent that he no longer makes the egotistical distinction between his person and that of others, but takes as much interest in the sufferings of other individuals as in his own, and therefore is not only benevolent in the highest degree, but even ready to sacrifice his own individuality whenever such a sacrifice will save a number of other persons, then it clearly follows that such a man, who recognises in all beings his own inmost and true self, must also regard the infinite suffering of all suffering beings as his own, and take on himself the pain of the whole world. No suffering is any longer strange to him. All the miseries of others which he sees and is so seldom able to alleviate, all the miseries he knows directly, and even those which he only knows as possible, work upon his mind like his own. It is no longer the changing joy and sorrow of his own person that he has in view, as is the case with him who is still involved in egoism; but, since he sees through the principium individuationis, all lies equally near him. He knows the whole, comprehends its nature, and finds that it consists in a constant passing away, vain striving, inward conflict, and continual suffering. He sees wherever he looks suffering humanity, the suffering brute creation, and a world that passes away. But all this now lies as near him as his own person lies to the egoist. Why should he now, with such knowledge of the world, assert this very life through constant acts of will, and thereby bind himself ever more closely to it, press it ever more firmly to himself? Thus he who is still involved in the principium individuationis, in egoism, only knows particular things and their relation to his own person, and these constantly become new motives of his volition. But, on the other hand, that knowledge of the whole, of the nature of the thing-in-itself which has been described, becomes a quieter of all and every volition. The will now turns away from life; it now shudders at the pleasures in which it recognises the assertion of life. Man now attains to the state of voluntary renunciation, resignation, true indifference, and perfect will-lessness. If at times, in the hard experience of our own suffering, or in the vivid recognition of that of others, the knowledge of the vanity and bitterness of life draws nigh to us also who are still wrapt in the veil of Mâyâ, and we would like to destroy the sting of the desires, close the entrance against all suffering, and purify and sanctify ourselves by complete and final renunciation; yet the illusion of the phenomenon soon entangles us again, and its motives influence the will anew; we cannot tear ourselves free. The allurement of hope, the flattery of the present, the sweetness of pleasure, the well-being which falls to our lot, amid the lamentations of a suffering world governed by chance and error, draws us back to it and rivets our bonds anew. Therefore Jesus says: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”
If we compare life to a course or path through which we must unceasingly run—a path of red-hot coals, with a few cool places here and there; then he who is entangled in delusion is consoled by the cool places, on which he now stands, or which he sees near him, and sets out to run through the course. But he who sees through the principium individuationis, and recognises the real nature of the thing-in-itself, and thus the whole, is no longer susceptible of such consolation; he sees himself in all places at once, and withdraws. His will turns round, no longer asserts its own nature, which is reflected in the phenomenon, but denies it. The phenomenon by which this change is marked, is the transition from virtue to asceticism. That is to say, it no longer suffices for such a man to love others as himself, and to do as much for them as for himself; but there arises within him a horror of the nature of which his own phenomenal existence is an expression, the will to live, the kernel and inner nature of that world which is recognised as full of misery. He therefore disowns this nature which appears in him, and is already expressed through his body, and his action gives the lie to his phenomenal existence, and appears in open contradiction to it. Essentially nothing else but a manifestation of will, he ceases to will anything, guards against attaching his will to anything, and seeks to confirm in himself the greatest indifference to everything. His body, healthy and strong, expresses through the genitals, the sexual impulse; but he denies the will and gives the lie to the body; he desires no sensual gratification under any condition. Voluntary and complete chastity is the first step in asceticism or the denial of the will to live. It thereby denies the assertion of the will which extends beyond the individual life, and gives the assurance that with the life of this body, the will, whose manifestation it is, ceases. Nature, always true and naïve, declares that if this maxim became universal, the human race would die out; and I think I may assume, in accordance with what was said in the Second Book about the connection of all manifestations of will, that with its highest manifestation, the weaker reflection of it would also pass away, as the twilight vanishes along with the full light. With the entire abolition of knowledge, the rest of the world would of itself vanish into nothing; for without a subject there is no object. I should like here to refer to a passage in the Vedas, where it is said: “As in this world hungry infants press round their mother; so do all beings await the holy oblation.” (Asiatic Researches, vol. viii.; Colebrooke, On the Vedas, Abstract of the Sama-Veda; also in Colebrooke's Miscellaneous Essays, vol. i. p. 79.) Sacrifice means resignation generally, and the rest of nature must look for its salvation to man who is at once the priest and the sacrifice. Indeed it deserves to be noticed as very remarkable, that this thought has also been expressed by the admirable and unfathomably profound Angelus Silesius, in the little poem entitled, “Man brings all to God;” it runs, “Man! all loves thee; around thee great is the throng. All things flee to thee that they may attain to God.” But a yet greater mystic, Meister Eckhard, whose wonderful writings are at last accessible (1857) through the edition of Franz Pfeiffer, says the same thing (p. 459) quite in the sense explained here: “I bear witness to the saying of Christ. I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things unto me (John xii. 32). So shall the good man draw all things up to God, to the source whence they first came. The Masters certify to us that all creatures are made for the sake of man. This is proved in all created things, by the fact that the one makes the use of the other; the ox makes use of the grass, the fish of the water, the bird of the air, the wild beast of the forest. Thus, all created things become of use to the good man. A good man brings to God the one created thing in the other.” He means to say, that man makes use of the brutes in this life because, in and with himself, he saves them also. It also seems to me that that difficult passage in the Bible, Rom. viii. 21-24, must be interpreted in this sense.
In Buddhism also, there is no lack of expressions of this truth. For example, when Buddha, still as Bodisatwa, has his horse saddled for the last time, for his flight into the wilderness from his father's house, he says these lines to the horse: “Long hast thou existed in life and in death, but now thou shalt cease from carrying and drawing. Bear me but this once more, O Kantakana, away from here, and when I have attained to the Law (have become Buddha) I will not forget thee” (Foe Koue Ki, trad. p. Abel Rémusat, p. 233).
Asceticism then shows itself further in voluntary and intentional poverty, which not only arises per accidens, because the possessions are given away to mitigate the sufferings of others, but is here an end in itself, is meant to serve as a constant mortification of will, so that the satisfaction of the wishes, the sweet of life, shall not again arouse the will, against which self-knowledge has conceived a horror. He who has attained to this point, still always feels, as a living body, as concrete manifestation of will, the natural disposition for every kind of volition; but he intentionally suppresses it, for he compels himself to refrain from doing all that he would like to do, and to do all that he would like not to do, even if this has no further end than that of serving as a mortification of will. Since he himself denies the will which appears in his own person, he will not resist if another does the same, i.e., inflicts wrongs upon him. Therefore every suffering coming to him from without, through chance or the wickedness of others, is welcome to him, every injury, ignominy, and insult; he receives them gladly as the opportunity of learning with certainty that he no longer asserts the will, but gladly sides with every enemy of the manifestation of will which is his own person. Therefore he bears such ignominy and suffering with inexhaustible patience and meekness, returns good for evil without ostentation, and allows the fire of anger to rise within him just as little as that of the desires. And he mortifies not only the will itself, but also its visible form, its objectivity, the body. He nourishes it sparingly, lest its excessive vigour and prosperity should animate and excite more strongly the will, of which it is merely the expression and the mirror. So he practises fasting, and even resorts to chastisement and self-inflicted torture, in order that, by constant privation and suffering, he may more and more break down and destroy the will, which he recognises and abhors as the source of his own suffering existence and that of the world. If at last death comes, which puts an end to this manifestation of that will, whose existence here has long since perished through free-denial of itself, with the exception of the weak residue of it which appears as the life of this body; it is most welcome, and is gladly received as a longed-for deliverance. Here it is not, as in the case of others, merely the manifestation which ends with death; but the inner nature itself is abolished, which here existed only in the manifestation, and that in a very weak degree; this last slight bond is now broken. For him who thus ends, the world has ended also.
And what I have here described with feeble tongue and only in general terms, is no philosophical fable, invented by myself, and only of to-day; no, it was the enviable life of so many saints and beautiful souls among Christians, and still more among Hindus and Buddhists, and also among the believers of other religions. However different were the dogmas impressed on their reason, the same inward, direct, intuitive knowledge, from which alone all virtue and holiness proceed, expressed itself in precisely the same way in the conduct of life. For here also the great distinction between intuitive and abstract knowledge shows itself; a distinction which is of such importance and universal application in our whole investigation, and which has hitherto been too little attended to. There is a wide gulf between the two, which can only be crossed by the aid of philosophy, as regards the knowledge of the nature of the world. Intuitively or in concreto, every man is really conscious of all philosophical truths, but to bring them to abstract knowledge, to reflection, is the work of philosophy, which neither ought nor is able to do more than this.
Thus it may be that the inner nature of holiness, self-renunciation, mortification of our own will, asceticism, is here for the first time expressed abstractly, and free from all mythical elements, as denial of the will to live, appearing after the complete knowledge of its own nature has become a quieter of all volition. On the other hand, it has been known directly and realised in practice by saints and ascetics, who had all the same inward knowledge, though they used very different language with regard to it, according to the dogmas which their reason had accepted, and in consequence of which an Indian, a Christian, or a Lama saint must each give a very different account of his conduct, which is, however, of no importance as regards the fact. A saint may be full of the absurdest superstition, or, on the contrary, he may be a philosopher, it is all the same. His conduct alone certifies that he is a saint, for, in a moral regard, it proceeds from knowledge of the world and its nature, which is not abstractly but intuitively and directly apprehended, and is only expressed by him in any dogma for the satisfaction of his reason. It is therefore just as little needful that a saint should be a philosopher as that a philosopher should be a saint; just as it is not necessary that a perfectly beautiful man should be a great sculptor, or that a great sculptor should himself be a beautiful man. In general, it is a strange demand upon a moralist that he should teach no other virtue than that which he himself possesses. To repeat the whole nature of the world abstractly, universally, and distinctly in concepts, and thus to store up, as it were, a reflected image of it in permanent concepts always at the command of the reason; this and nothing else is philosophy. I refer the reader to the passage quoted from Bacon in the First Book.
But the description I have given above of the denial of the will to live, of the conduct of a beautiful soul, of a resigned and voluntarily expiating saint, is merely abstract and general, and therefore cold. As the knowledge from which the denial of the will proceeds is intuitive and not abstract, it finds its most perfect expression, not in abstract conceptions, but in deeds and conduct. Therefore, in order to understand fully what we philosophically express as denial of the will to live, one must come to know examples of it in experience and actual life. Certainly they are not to be met with in daily experience: Nam omnia præclara tam difficilia quam rara sunt, Spinoza admirably says. Therefore, unless by a specially happy fate we are made eye-witnesses, we have to content ourselves with descriptions of the lives of such men. Indian literature, as we see from the little that we as yet know through translations, is very rich in descriptions of the lives of saints, penitents, Samanas or ascetics, Sannyâsis or mendicants, and whatever else they may be called. Even the well-known “Mythologie des Indous, par Mad. de Polier,” though by no means to be commended in every respect, contains many excellent examples of this kind (especially in ch. 13, vol. ii.) Among Christians also there is no lack of examples which afford us the illustrations we desire. See the biographies, for the most part badly written, of those persons who are sometimes called saintly souls, sometimes pietists, quietists, devout enthusiasts, and so forth. Collections of such biographies have been made at various times, such as Tersteegen's “Leben heiliger Seelen,” Reiz's “Geschichte der Wiedergeborennen,” in our own day, a collection by Kanne, which, with much that is bad, yet contains some good, and especially the “Leben der Beata Sturmin.” To this category very properly belongs the life of St. Francis of Assisi, that true personification of the ascetic, and prototype of all mendicant friars. His life, described by his younger contemporary, St. Bonaventura, also famous as a scholastic, has recently been republished. “Vita S. Francisci a S. Bonaventura concinnata” (Soest, 1847), though shortly before a painstaking and detailed biography, making use of all sources of information, appeared in France, “Histoire de S. François d'Assise, par Chavin de Mallan” (1845). As an Oriental parallel of these monastic writings we have the very valuable work of Spence Hardy, “Eastern Monachism; an Account of the Order of Mendicants founded by Gotama Budha” (1850). It shows us the same thing in another dress. We also see what a matter of indifference it is whether it proceeds from a theistical or an atheistical religion. But as a special and exceedingly full example and practical illustration of the conceptions I have established, I can thoroughly recommend the “Autobiography of Madame de Guion.” To become acquainted with this great and beautiful soul, the very thought of whom always fills me with reverence, and to do justice to the excellence of her disposition while making allowance for the superstition of her reason, must be just as delightful to every man of the better sort as with vulgar thinkers, i.e., the majority, that book will always stand in bad repute. For it is the case with regard to everything, that each man can only prize that which to a certain extent is analogous to him and for which he has at least a slight inclination. This holds good of ethical concerns as well as of intellectual. We might to a certain extent regard the well-known French biography of Spinoza as a case in point, if we used as a key to it that noble introduction to his very insufficient essay, “De Emendatione Intellectus,” a passage which I can also recommend as the most effectual means I know of stilling the storm of the passions. Finally, even the great Goethe, Greek as he is, did not think it below his dignity to show us this most beautiful side of humanity in the magic mirror of poetic art, for he represented the life of Fräulein Klettenberg in an idealised form in his “Confessions of a Beautiful Soul,” and later, in his own biography, gave us also an historical account of it. Besides this, he twice told the story of the life of St. Philippo Neri. The history of the world, will, and indeed must, keep silence about the men whose conduct is the best and only adequate illustration of this important point of our investigation, for the material of the history of the world is quite different, and indeed opposed to this. It is not the denial of the will to live, but its assertion and its manifestation in innumerable individuals in which its conflict with itself at the highest grade of its objectification appears with perfect distinctness, and brings before our eyes, now the ascendancy of the individual through prudence, now the might of the many through their mass, now the might of chance personified as fate, always the vanity and emptiness of the whole effort. We, however, do not follow here the course of phenomena in time, but, as philosophers, we seek to investigate the ethical significance of action, and take this as the only criterion of what for us is significant and important. Thus we will not be withheld by any fear of the constant numerical superiority of vulgarity and dulness from acknowledging that the greatest, most important, and most significant phenomenon that the world can show is not the conqueror of the world, but the subduer of it; is nothing but the quiet, unobserved life of a man who has attained to the knowledge in consequence of which he surrenders and denies that will to live which fills everything and strives and strains in all, and which first gains freedom here in him alone, so that his conduct becomes the exact opposite of that of other men. In this respect, therefore, for the philosopher, these accounts of the lives of holy, self-denying men, badly as they are generally written, and mixed as they are with superstition and nonsense, are, because of the significance of the material, immeasurably more instructive and important than even Plutarch and Livy.
It will further assist us much in obtaining a more definite and full knowledge of what we have expressed abstractly and generally, according to our method of exposition, as the denial of the will to live, if we consider the moral teaching that has been imparted with this intention, and by men who were full of this spirit; and this will also show how old our view is, though the pure philosophical expression of it may be quite new. The teaching of this kind which lies nearest to hand is Christianity, the ethics of which are entirely in the spirit indicated, and lead not only to the highest degrees of human love, but also to renunciation. The germ of this last side of it is certainly distinctly present in the writings of the Apostles, but it was only fully developed and expressed later. We find the Apostles enjoining the love of our neighbour as ourselves, benevolence, the requital of hatred with love and well-doing, patience, meekness, the endurance of all possible injuries without resistance, abstemiousness in nourishment to keep down lust, resistance to sensual desire, if possible, altogether. We already see here the first degrees of asceticism, or denial of the will proper. This last expression denotes that which in the Gospels is called denying ourselves and taking up the cross (Matt. xvi. 24, 25; Mark viii. 34, 35; Luke ix. 23, 24, xiv. 26, 27, 33). This tendency soon developed itself more and more, and was the origin of hermits, anchorites, and monasticism—an origin which in itself was pure and holy, but for that very reason unsuitable for the great majority of men; therefore what developed out of it could only be hypocrisy and wickedness, for abusus optimi pessimus. In more developed Christianity, we see that seed of asceticism unfold into the full flower in the writings of the Christian saints and mystics. These preach, besides the purest love, complete resignation, voluntary and absolute poverty, genuine calmness, perfect indifference to all worldly things, dying to our own will and being born again in God, entire forgetting of our own person, and sinking ourselves in the contemplation of God. A full exposition of this will be found in Fénélon's “Explication des Maximes des Saints sur la Vie Interieure.” But the spirit of this development of Christianity is certainly nowhere so fully and powerfully expressed as in the writings of the German mystics, in the works of Meister Eckhard, and in that justly famous book “Die Deutsche Theologie,” of which Luther says in the introduction to it which he wrote, that with the exception of the Bible and St. Augustine, he had learnt more from it of what God, Christ, and man are than from any other book. Yet we only got the genuine and correct text of it in the year 1851, in the Stuttgart edition by Pfeiffer. The precepts and doctrines which are laid down there are the most perfect exposition, sprung from deep inward conviction of what I have presented as the denial of the will. It should therefore be studied more closely in that form before it is dogmatised about with Jewish-Protestant assurance. Tauler's “Nachfolgung des armen Leben Christi,” and also his “Medulla Animæ,” are written in the same admirable spirit, though not quite equal in value to that work. In my opinion the teaching of these genuine Christian mystics, when compared with the teaching of the New Testament, is as alcohol to wine, or what becomes visible in the New Testament as through a veil and mist appears to us in the works of the mystics without cloak or disguise, in full clearness and distinctness. Finally, the New Testament might be regarded as the first initiation, the mystics as the second,—σμικρα και μεγαλα μυστηρια.
We find, however, that which we have called the denial of the will to live more fully developed, more variously expressed, and more vividly represented in the ancient Sanscrit writings than could be the case in the Christian Church and the Western world. That this important ethical view of life could here attain to a fuller development and a more distinct expression is perhaps principally to be ascribed to the fact that it was not confined by an element quite foreign to it, as Christianity is by the Jewish theology, to which its sublime author had necessarily to adopt and accommodate it, partly consciously, partly, it may be, unconsciously. Thus Christianity is made up of two very different constituent parts, and I should like to call the purely ethical part especially and indeed exclusively Christian, and distinguish it from the Jewish dogmatism with which it is combined. If, as has often been feared, and especially at the present time, that excellent and salutary religion should altogether decline, I should look for the reason of this simply in the fact that it does not consist of one single element, but of two originally different elements, which have only been combined through the accident of history. In such a case dissolution had to follow through the separation of these elements, arising from their different relationship to and reaction against the progressive spirit of the age. But even after this dissolution the purely ethical part must always remain uninjured, because it is indestructible. Our knowledge of Hindu literature is still very imperfect. Yet, as we find their ethical teaching variously and powerfully expressed in the Vedas, Puranas, poems, myths, legends of their saints, maxims and precepts, we see that it inculcates love of our neighbour with complete renunciation of self-love; love generally, not confined to mankind, but including all living creatures; benevolence, even to the giving away of the hard-won wages of daily toil; unlimited patience towards all who injure us; the requital of all wickedness, however base, with goodness and love; voluntary and glad endurance of all ignominy; abstinence from all animal food; perfect chastity and renunciation of all sensual pleasure for him who strives after true holiness; the surrender of all possessions, the forsaking of every dwelling-place and of all relatives; deep unbroken solitude, spent in silent contemplation, with voluntary penance and terrible slow self-torture for the absolute mortification of the will, torture which extends to voluntary death by starvation, or by men giving themselves up to crocodiles, or flinging themselves over the sacred precipice in the Himalayas, or being buried alive, or, finally, by flinging themselves under the wheels of the huge car of an idol drawn along amid the singing, shouting, and dancing of bayaderes. And even yet these precepts, whose origin reaches back more than four thousand years, are carried out in practice, in some cases even to the utmost extreme, and this notwithstanding the fact that the Hindu nation has been broken up into so many parts. A religion which demands the greatest sacrifices, and which has yet remained so long in practice in a nation that embraces so many millions of persons, cannot be an arbitrarily invented superstition, but must have its foundation in the nature of man. But besides this, if we read the life of a Christian penitent or saint, and also that of a Hindu saint, we cannot sufficiently wonder at the harmony we find between them. In the case of such radically different dogmas, customs, and circumstances, the inward life and effort of both is the same. And the same harmony prevails in the maxims prescribed for both of them. For example, Tauler speaks of the absolute poverty which one ought to seek, and which consists in giving away and divesting oneself completely of everything from which one might draw comfort or worldly pleasure, clearly because all this constantly affords new nourishment to the will, which it is intended to destroy entirely. And as an Indian counterpart of this, we find in the precepts of Fo that the Saniassi, who ought to be without a dwelling and entirely without property, is further finally enjoined not to lay himself down often under the same tree, lest he should acquire a preference or inclination for it above other trees. The Christian mystic and the teacher of the Vedanta philosophy agree in this respect also, they both regard all outward works and religious exercises as superfluous for him who has attained to perfection. So much agreement in the case of such different ages and nations is a practical proof that what is expressed here is not, as optimistic dulness likes to assert, an eccentricity and perversity of the mind, but an essential side of human nature, which only appears so rarely because of its excellence.
I have now indicated the sources from which there may be obtained a direct knowledge, drawn from life itself, of the phenomena in which the denial of the will to live exhibits itself. In some respects this is the most important point of our whole work; yet I have only explained it quite generally, for it is better to refer to those who speak from direct experience, than to increase the size of this book unduly by weak repetitions of what is said by them.
I only wish to add a little to the general indication of the nature of this state. We saw above that the wicked man, by the vehemence of his volition, suffers constant, consuming, inward pain, and finally, if all objects of volition are exhausted, quenches the fiery thirst of his self-will by the sight of the suffering of others. He, on the contrary, who has attained to the denial of the will to live, however poor, joyless, and full of privation his condition may appear when looked at externally, is yet filled with inward joy and the true peace of heaven. It is not the restless strain of life, the jubilant delight which has keen suffering as its preceding or succeeding condition, in the experience of the man who loves life; but it is a peace that cannot be shaken, a deep rest and inward serenity, a state which we cannot behold without the greatest longing when it is brought before our eyes or our imagination, because we at once recognise it as that which alone is right, infinitely surpassing everything else, upon which our better self cries within us the great sapere aude. Then we feel that every gratification of our wishes won from the world is merely like the alms which the beggar receives from life to-day that he may hunger again on the morrow; resignation, on the contrary, is like an inherited estate, it frees the owner for ever from all care.
It will be remembered from the Third Book that the æsthetic pleasure in the beautiful consists in great measure in the fact that in entering the state of pure contemplation we are lifted for the moment above all willing, i.e., all wishes and cares; we become, as it were, freed from ourselves. We are no longer the individual whose knowledge is subordinated to the service of its constant willing, the correlative of the particular thing to which objects are motives, but the eternal subject of knowing purified from will, the correlative of the Platonic Idea. And we know that these moments in which, delivered from the ardent strain of will, we seem to rise out of the heavy atmosphere of earth, are the happiest which we experience. From this we can understand how blessed the life of a man must be whose will is silenced, not merely for a moment, as in the enjoyment of the beautiful, but for ever, indeed altogether extinguished, except as regards the last glimmering spark that retains the body in life, and will be extinguished with its death. Such a man, who, after many bitter struggles with his own nature, has finally conquered entirely, continues to exist only as a pure, knowing being, the undimmed mirror of the world. Nothing can trouble him more, nothing can move him, for he has cut all the thousand cords of will which hold us bound to the world, and, as desire, fear, envy, anger, drag us hither and thither in constant pain. He now looks back smiling and at rest on the delusions of this world, which once were able to move and agonise his spirit also, but which now stand before him as utterly indifferent to him, as the chess-men when the game is ended, or as, in the morning, the cast-off masquerading dress which worried and disquieted us in a night in Carnival. Life and its forms now pass before him as a fleeting illusion, as a light morning dream before half-waking eyes, the real world already shining through it so that it can no longer deceive; and like this morning dream, they finally vanish altogether without any violent transition. From this we can understand the meaning of Madame Guion when towards the end of her autobiography she often expresses herself thus: “Everything is alike to me; I cannot will anything more: often I know not whether I exist or not.” In order to express how, after the extinction of the will, the death of the body (which is indeed only the manifestation of the will, and therefore loses all significance when the will is abolished) can no longer have any bitterness, but is very welcome, I may be allowed to quote the words of that holy penitent, although they are not very elegantly turned: “Midi de la gloire; jour où il n'y a plus de nuit; vie qui ne craint plus la mort, dans la mort même: parceque la mort a vaincu la mort, et que celui qui a souffert la première mort, ne goutera plus la seconde mort” (Vie de Mad. de Guion, vol. ii. p. 13).
We must not, however, suppose that when, by means of the knowledge which acts as a quieter of will, the denial of the will to live has once appeared, it never wavers or vacillates, and that we can rest upon it as on an assured possession. Rather, it must ever anew be attained by a constant battle. For since the body is the will itself only in the form of objectivity or as manifestation in the world as idea, so long as the body lives, the whole will to live exists potentially, and constantly strives to become actual, and to burn again with all its ardour. Therefore that peace and blessedness in the life of holy men which we have described is only found as the flower which proceeds from the constant victory over the will, and the ground in which it grows is the constant battle with the will to live, for no one can have lasting peace upon earth. We therefore see the histories of the inner life of saints full of spiritual conflicts, temptations, and absence of grace, i.e., the kind of knowledge which makes all motives ineffectual, and as an universal quieter silences all volition, gives the deepest peace and opens the door of freedom. Therefore also we see those who have once attained to the denial of the will to live strive with all their might to keep upon this path, by enforced renunciation of every kind, by penance and severity of life, and by selecting whatever is disagreeable to them, all in order to suppress the will, which is constantly springing up anew. Hence, finally, because they already know the value of salvation, their anxious carefulness to retain the hard-won blessing, their scruples of conscience about every innocent pleasure, or about every little excitement of their vanity, which here also dies last, the most immovable, the most active, and the most foolish of all the inclinations of man. By the term asceticism, which I have used so often, I mean in its narrower sense this intentional breaking of the will by the refusal of what is agreeable and the selection of what is disagreeable, the voluntarily chosen life of penance and self-chastisement for the continual mortification of the will.
We see this practised by him who has attained to the denial of the will in order to enable him to persist in it; but suffering in general, as it is inflicted by fate, is a second way (δευτερος πλους) of attaining to that denial. Indeed, we may assume that most men only attain to it in this way, and that it is the suffering which is personally experienced, not that which is merely known, which most frequently produces complete resignation, often only at the approach of death. For only in the case of a few is the mere knowledge which, seeing through the principium individuationis, first produces perfect goodness of disposition and universal love of humanity, and finally enables them to regard all the suffering of the world as their own; only in the case of a few, I say, is this knowledge sufficient to bring about the denial of the will. Even with him who approaches this point, it is almost invariably the case that the tolerable condition of his own body, the flattery of the moment, the delusion of hope, and the satisfaction of the will, which is ever presenting itself anew, i.e., lust, is a constant hindrance to the denial of the will, and a constant temptation to the renewed assertion of it. Therefore in this respect all these illusions have been personified as the devil. Thus in most cases the will must be broken by great personal suffering before its self-conquest appears. Then we see the man who has passed through all the increasing degrees of affliction with the most vehement resistance, and is finally brought to the verge of despair, suddenly retire into himself, know himself and the world, change his whole nature, rise above himself and all suffering, as if purified and sanctified by it, in inviolable peace, blessedness, and sublimity, willingly renounce everything he previously desired with all his might, and joyfully embrace death. It is the refined silver of the denial of the will to live that suddenly comes forth from the purifying flame of suffering. It is salvation. Sometimes we see even those who were very wicked purified to this degree by great grief; they have become new beings and are completely changed. Therefore their former misdeeds trouble their consciences no more, yet they willingly atone for them by death, and gladly see the end of the manifestation of that will which is now foreign to them and abhorred by them. The great Goethe has given us a distinct and visible representation of this denial of the will, brought about by great misfortunes and despair of all deliverance, in his immortal masterpiece “Faust,” in the story of the sufferings of Gretchen. I know no parallel to this in poetry. It is a perfect example of the second path that leads to the denial of the will, not, as the first, through the mere knowledge of the sufferings of a whole world which one has voluntarily acquired, but through excessive suffering experienced in one's own person. Many tragedies certainly end by conducting their strong-willed heroes to the point of entire resignation, and then generally the will to live and its manifestation end together, but no representation that is known to me brings what is essential to that change so distinctly before us, free from all that is extraneous, as the part of “Faust” I have referred to.
In actual life we see that those unfortunate persons who have to drink to the dregs the greatest cup of suffering, since when all hope is taken from them they have to face with full consciousness a shameful, violent, and often painful death on the scaffold, are very frequently changed in this way. We must not indeed assume that there is so great a difference between their character and that of most men as their fate would seem to indicate, but must attribute the latter for the most part to circumstances; yet they are guilty and to a considerable degree bad. We see, however, many of them, when they have entirely lost hope, changed in the way referred to. They now show actual goodness and purity of disposition, true abhorrence of doing any act in the least degree bad or unkind. They forgive their enemies, even if it is through them that they innocently suffer; and not with words merely and a sort of hypocritical fear of the judges of the lower world, but in reality and with inward earnestness and no desire for revenge. Indeed, their sufferings and death at last becomes dear to them, for the denial of the will to live has appeared; they often decline the deliverance when it is offered, and die gladly, peacefully, and happily. To them the last secret of life has revealed itself in their excessive pain; the secret that misery and wickedness, sorrow and hate, the sufferer and the inflicter of suffering, however different they may appear to the knowledge which follows the principle of sufficient reason, are in themselves one, the manifestation of that one will to live which objectifies its conflict with itself by means of the principium individuationis. They have learned to know both sides in full measure, the badness and the misery; and since at last they see the identity of the two, they reject them both at once; they deny the will to live. In what myths and dogmas they account to their reason for this intuitive and direct knowledge and for their own change is, as has been said, a matter of no importance.
Matthias Claudius must without doubt have witnessed a change of mind of this description when he wrote the remarkable essay in the “Wandsbecker Boten” (pt. i. p. 115) with the title “Bekehrungsgeschichte des ***” (“History of the Conversion of ***”), which concludes thus: “Man's way of thinking may pass from one point of the periphery to the opposite point, and again back to the former point, if circumstances mark out for him the path. And these changes in a man are really nothing great or interesting, but that remarkable, catholic, transcendental change in which the whole circle is irreparably broken up and all the laws of psychology become vain and empty when the coat is stripped from the shoulders, or at least turned outside in, and as it were scales fall from a man's eyes, is such that every one who has breath in his nostrils forsakes father and mother if he can hear or experience something certain about it.”
The approach of death and hopelessness are in other respects not absolutely necessary for such a purification through suffering. Even without them the knowledge of the contradiction of the will to live with itself can, through great misfortune and pain, force an entrance, and the vanity of all striving become recognised. Hence it has often happened that men who have led a very restless life in the full strain of the passions, kings, heroes, and adventurers, suddenly change, betake themselves to resignation and penance, become hermits or monks. To this class belong all true accounts of conversions; for example, that of Raymond Lully, who had long wooed a fair lady, and was at last admitted to her chamber, anticipating the fulfilment of all his wishes, when she, opening her bodice, showed him her bosom frightfully eaten with cancer. From that moment, as if he had looked into hell, he was changed; he forsook the court of the king of Majorca, and went into the desert to do penance. This conversion is very like that of the Abbé Rancé, which I have briefly related in the 48th chapter of the Supplement. If we consider how in both cases the transition from the pleasure to the horror of life was the occasion of it, this throws some light upon the remarkable fact that it is among the French, the most cheerful, gay, sensuous, and frivolous nation in Europe, that by far the strictest of all monastic orders, the Trappists, arose, was re-established by Rancé after its fall, and has maintained itself to the present day in all its purity and strictness, in spite of revolutions, Church reformations, and encroachments of infidelity.
But a knowledge such as that referred to above of the nature of this existence may leave us again along with the occasion of it and the will to live, and with it the previous character may reappear. Thus we see that the passionate Benvenuto Cellini was changed in this way, once when he was in prison, and again when very ill; but when the suffering passed over, he fell back again into his old state. In general, the denial of the will to live by no means proceeds from suffering with the necessity of an effect from its cause, but the will remains free; for this is indeed the one point at which its freedom appears directly in the phenomenon; hence the astonishment which Asmus expresses so strongly at the “transcendental change.” In the case of every suffering, it is always possible to conceive a will which exceeds it in intensity and is therefore unconquered by it. Thus Plato speaks in the “Phædon” of men who up to the moment of their execution feast, drink, and indulge in sensuous pleasure, asserting life even to the death. Shakespeare shows us in Cardinal Beaufort the fearful end of a profligate, who dies full of despair, for no suffering or death can break his will, which is vehement to the extreme of wickedness.
The more intense the will is, the more glaring is the conflict of its manifestation, and thus the greater is the suffering. A world which was the manifestation of a far more intense will to live than this world manifests would produce so much the greater suffering; would thus be a hell.
All suffering, since it is a mortification and a call to resignation, has potentially a sanctifying power. This is the explanation of the fact that every great misfortune or deep pain inspires a certain awe. But the sufferer only really becomes an object of reverence when, surveying the course of his life as a chain of sorrows, or mourning some great and incurable misfortune, he does not really look at the special combination of circumstances which has plunged his own life into suffering, nor stops at the single great misfortune that has befallen him; for in so doing his knowledge still follows the principle of sufficient reason, and clings to the particular phenomenon; he still wills life only not under the conditions which have happened to him; but only then, I say, he is truly worthy of reverence when he raises his glance from the particular to the universal, when he regards his suffering as merely an example of the whole, and for him, since in a moral regard he partakes of genius, one case stands for a thousand, so that the whole of life conceived as essentially suffering brings him to resignation. Therefore it inspires reverence when in Goethe's “Torquato Tasso” the princess speaks of how her own life and that of her relations has always been sad and joyless, and yet regards the matter from an entirely universal point of view.
A very noble character we always imagine with a certain trace of quiet sadness, which is anything but a constant fretfulness at daily annoyances (this would be an ignoble trait, and lead us to fear a bad disposition), but is a consciousness derived from knowledge of the vanity of all possessions, of the suffering of all life, not merely of his own. But such knowledge may primarily be awakened by the personal experience of suffering, especially some one great sorrow, as a single unfulfilled wish brought Petrarch to that state of resigned sadness concerning the whole of life which appeals to us so pathetically in his works; for the Daphne he pursued had to flee from his hands in order to leave him, instead of herself, the immortal laurel. When through some such great and irrevocable denial of fate the will is to some extent broken, almost nothing else is desired, and the character shows itself mild, just, noble, and resigned. When, finally, grief has no definite object, but extends itself over the whole of life, then it is to a certain extent a going into itself, a withdrawal, a gradual disappearance of the will, whose visible manifestation, the body, it imperceptibly but surely undermines, so that a man feels a certain loosening of his bonds, a mild foretaste of that death which promises to be the abolition at once of the body and of the will. Therefore a secret pleasure accompanies this grief, and it is this, as I believe, which the most melancholy of all nations has called “the joy of grief.” But here also lies the danger of sentimentality, both in life itself and in the representation of it in poetry; when a man is always mourning and lamenting without courageously rising to resignation. In this way we lose both earth and heaven, and retain merely a watery sentimentality. Only if suffering assumes the form of pure knowledge, and this, acting as a quieter of the will, brings about resignation, is it worthy of reverence. In this regard, however, we feel a certain respect at the sight of every great sufferer which is akin to the feeling excited by virtue and nobility of character, and also seems like a reproach of our own happy condition. We cannot help regarding every sorrow, both our own and those of others, as at least a potential advance towards virtue and holiness, and, on the contrary, pleasures and worldly satisfactions as a retrogression from them. This goes so far, that every man who endures a great bodily or mental suffering, indeed every one who merely performs some physical labour which demands the greatest exertion, in the sweat of his brow and with evident exhaustion, yet with patience and without murmuring, every such man, I say, if we consider him with close attention, appears to us like a sick man who tries a painful cure, and who willingly, and even with satisfaction, endures the suffering it causes him, because he knows that the more he suffers the more the cause of his disease is affected, and that therefore the present suffering is the measure of his cure.
According to what has been said, the denial of the will to live, which is just what is called absolute, entire resignation, or holiness, always proceeds from that quieter of the will which the knowledge of its inner conflict and essential vanity, expressing themselves in the suffering of all living things, becomes. The difference, which we have represented as two paths, consists in whether that knowledge is called up by suffering which is merely and purely known, and is freely appropriated by means of the penetration of the principium individuationis, or by suffering which is directly felt by a man himself. True salvation, deliverance from life and suffering, cannot even be imagined without complete denial of the will. Till then, every one is simply this will itself, whose manifestation is an ephemeral existence, a constantly vain and empty striving, and the world full of suffering we have represented, to which all irrevocably and in like manner belong. For we found above that life is always assured to the will to live, and its one real form is the present, from which they can never escape, since birth and death reign in the phenomenal world. The Indian mythus expresses this by saying “they are born again.” The great ethical difference of character means this, that the bad man is infinitely far from the attainment of the knowledge from which the denial of the will proceeds, and therefore he is in truth actually exposed to all the miseries which appear in life as possible; for even the present fortunate condition of his personality is merely a phenomenon produced by the principium individuationis, and a delusion of Mâyâ, the happy dream of a beggar. The sufferings which in the vehemence and ardour of his will he inflicts upon others are the measure of the suffering, the experience of which in his own person cannot break his will, and plainly lead it to the denial of itself. All true and pure love, on the other hand, and even all free justice, proceed from the penetration of the principium individuationis, which, if it appears with its full power, results in perfect sanctification and salvation, the phenomenon of which is the state of resignation described above, the unbroken peace which accompanies it, and the greatest delight in death.
Suicide, the actual doing away with the individual manifestation of will, differs most widely from the denial of the will to live, which is the single outstanding act of free-will in the manifestation, and is therefore, as Asmus calls it, the transcendental change. This last has been fully considered in the course of our work. Far from being denial of the will, suicide is a phenomenon of strong assertion of will; for the essence of negation lies in this, that the joys of life are shunned, not its sorrows. The suicide wills life, and is only dissatisfied with the conditions under which it has presented itself to him. He therefore by no means surrenders the will to live, but only life, in that he destroys the individual manifestation. He wills life—wills the unrestricted existence and assertion of the body; but the complication of circumstances does not allow this, and there results for him great suffering. The very will to live finds itself so much hampered in this particular manifestation that it cannot put forth its energies. It therefore comes to such a determination as is in conformity with its own nature, which lies outside the conditions of the principle of sufficient reason, and to which, therefore, all particular manifestations are alike indifferent, inasmuch as it itself remains unaffected by all appearing and passing away, and is the inner life of all things; for that firm inward assurance by reason of which we all live free from the constant dread of death, the assurance that a phenomenal existence can never be wanting to the will, supports our action even in the case of suicide. Thus the will to live appears just as much in suicide (Siva) as in the satisfaction of self-preservation (Vishnu) and in the sensual pleasure of procreation (Brahma). This is the inner meaning of the unity of the Trimurtis, which is embodied in its entirety in every human being, though in time it raises now one, now another, of its three heads. Suicide stands in the same relation to the denial of the will as the individual thing does to the Idea. The suicide denies only the individual, not the species. We have already seen that as life is always assured to the will to live, and as sorrow is inseparable from life, suicide, the wilful destruction of the single phenomenal existence, is a vain and foolish act; for the thing-in-itself remains unaffected by it, even as the rainbow endures however fast the drops which support it for the moment may change. But, more than this, it is also the masterpiece of Mâyâ, as the most flagrant example of the contradiction of the will to live with itself. As we found this contradiction in the case of the lowest manifestations of will, in the permanent struggle of all the forces of nature, and of all organic individuals for matter and time and space; and as we saw this antagonism come ever more to the front with terrible distinctness in the ascending grades of the objectification of the will, so at last in the highest grade, the Idea of man, it reaches the point at which, not only the individuals which express the same Idea extirpate each other, but even the same individual declares war against itself. The vehemence with which it wills life, and revolts against what hinders it, namely, suffering, brings it to the point of destroying itself; so that the individual will, by its own act, puts an end to that body which is merely its particular visible expression, rather than permit suffering to break the will. Just because the suicide cannot give up willing, he gives up living. The will asserts itself here even in putting an end to its own manifestation, because it can no longer assert itself otherwise. As, however, it was just the suffering which it so shuns that was able, as mortification of the will, to bring it to the denial of itself, and hence to freedom, so in this respect the suicide is like a sick man, who, after a painful operation which would entirely cure him has been begun, will not allow it to be completed, but prefers to retain his disease. Suffering approaches and reveals itself as the possibility of the denial of will; but the will rejects it, in that it destroys the body, the manifestation of itself, in order that it may remain unbroken. This is the reason why almost all ethical teachers, whether philosophical or religious, condemn suicide, although they themselves can only give far-fetched sophistical reasons for their opinion. But if a human being was ever restrained from committing suicide by purely moral motives, the inmost meaning of this self-conquest (in whatever ideas his reason may have clothed it) was this: “I will not shun suffering, in order that it may help to put an end to the will to live, whose manifestation is so wretched, by so strengthening the knowledge of the real nature of the world which is already beginning to dawn upon me, that it may become the final quieter of my will, and may free me for ever.”
It is well known that from time to time cases occur in which the act of suicide extends to the children. The father first kills the children he loves, and then himself. Now, if we consider that conscience, religion, and all influencing ideas teach him to look upon murder as the greatest of crimes, and that, in spite of this, he yet commits it, in the hour of his own death, and when he is altogether uninfluenced by any egotistical motive, such a deed can only be explained in the following manner: in this case, the will of the individual, the father, recognises itself immediately in the children, though involved in the delusion of mistaking the appearance for the true nature; and as he is at the same time deeply impressed with the knowledge of the misery of all life, he now thinks to put an end to the inner nature itself, along with the appearance, and thus seeks to deliver from existence and its misery both himself and his children, in whom he discerns himself as living again. It would be an error precisely analogous to this to suppose that one may reach the same end as is attained through voluntary chastity by frustrating the aim of nature in fecundation; or indeed if, in consideration of the unendurable suffering of life, parents were to use means for the destruction of their new-born children, instead of doing everything possible to ensure life to that which is struggling into it. For if the will to live is there, as it is the only metaphysical reality, or the thing-in-itself, no physical force can break it, but can only destroy its manifestation at this place and time. It itself can never be transcended except through knowledge. Thus the only way of salvation is, that the will shall manifest itself unrestrictedly, in order that in this individual manifestation it may come to apprehend its own nature. Only as the result of this knowledge can the will transcend itself, and thereby end the suffering which is inseparable from its manifestation. It is quite impossible to accomplish this end by physical force, as by destroying the germ, or by killing the new-born child, or by committing suicide. Nature guides the will to the light, just because it is only in the light that it can work out its salvation. Therefore the aims of Nature are to be promoted in every way as soon as the will to live, which is its inner being, has determined itself.
There is a species of suicide which seems to be quite distinct from the common kind, though its occurrence has perhaps not yet been fully established. It is starvation, voluntarily chosen on the ground of extreme asceticism. All instances of it, however, have been accompanied and obscured by much religious fanaticism, and even superstition. Yet it seems that the absolute denial of will may reach the point at which the will shall be wanting to take the necessary nourishment for the support of the natural life. This kind of suicide is so far from being the result of the will to live, that such a completely resigned ascetic only ceases to live because he has already altogether ceased to will. No other death than that by starvation is in this case conceivable (unless it were the result of some special superstition); for the intention to cut short the torment would itself be a stage in the assertion of will. The dogmas which satisfy the reason of such a penitent delude him with the idea that a being of a higher nature has inculcated the fasting to which his own inner tendency drives him. Old examples of this may be found in the “Breslauer Sammlung von Natur- und Medicin-Geschichten,” September 1799, p. 363; in Bayle's “Nouvelles de la République des Lettres,” February 1685, p. 189; in Zimmermann, “Ueber die Einsamkeit,” vol. i. p. 182; in the “Histoire de l'Académie des Sciences” for 1764, an account by Houttuyn, which is quoted in the “Sammlung für praktische Aerzte,” vol. i. p. 69. More recent accounts may be found in Hufeland's “Journal für praktische Heilkunde,” vol. x. p. 181, and vol. xlviii. p. 95; also in Nasse's “Zeitschrift für psychische Aerzte,” 1819, part iii. p. 460; and in the “Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal,” 1809, vol. v. p. 319. In the year 1833 all the papers announced that the English historian, Dr. Lingard, had died in January at Dover of voluntary starvation; according to later accounts, it was not he himself, but a relation of his who died. Still in these accounts the persons were generally described as insane, and it is no longer possible to find out how far this was the case. But I will give here a more recent case of this kind, if it were only to ensure the preservation of one of the rare instances of this striking and extraordinary phenomenon of human nature, which, to all appearance at any rate, belongs to the category to which I wish to assign it and could hardly be explained in any other way. This case is reported in the “Nürnberger Correspondenten” of the 29th July 1813, in these words:—“We hear from Bern that in a thick wood near Thurnen a hut has been discovered in which was lying the body of a man who had been dead about a month. His clothes gave little or no clue to his social position. Two very fine shirts lay beside him. The most important article, however, was a Bible interleaved with white paper, part of which had been written upon by the deceased. In this writing he gives the date of his departure from home (but does not mention where his home was). He then says that he was driven by the Spirit of God into the wilderness to pray and fast. During his journey he had fasted seven days and then he had again taken food. After this he had begun again to fast, and continued to do so for the same number of days as before. From this point we find each day marked with a stroke, and of these there are five, at the expiration of which the pilgrim presumably died. There was further found a letter to a clergyman about a sermon which the deceased heard him preach, but the letter was not addressed.” Between this voluntary death arising from extreme asceticism and the common suicide resulting from despair there may be various intermediate species and combinations, though this is hard to find out. But human nature has depths, obscurities, and perplexities, the analysis and elucidation of which is a matter of the very greatest difficulty.
It might be supposed that the entire exposition (now terminated) of that which I call the denial of the will is irreconcilable with the earlier explanation of necessity, which belongs just as much to motivation as to every other form of the principle of sufficient reason, and according to which, motives, like all causes, are only occasional causes, upon which the character unfolds its nature and reveals it with the necessity of a natural law, on account of which we absolutely denied freedom as liberum arbitrium indifferentiæ. But far from suppressing this here, I would call it to mind. In truth, real freedom, i.e., independence of the principle of sufficient reason, belongs to the will only as a thing-in-itself, not to its manifestation, whose essential form is everywhere the principle of sufficient reason, the element or sphere of necessity. But the one case in which that freedom can become directly visible in the manifestation is that in which it makes an end of what manifests itself, and because the mere manifestation, as a link in the chain of causes, the living body in time, which contains only phenomena, still continues to exist, the will which manifests itself through this phenomenon then stands in contradiction to it, for it denies what the phenomenon expresses. In such a case the organs of generation, for example, as the visible form of the sexual impulse, are there and in health; but yet, in the inmost consciousness, no sensual gratification is desired; and although the whole body is only the visible expression of the will to live, yet the motives which correspond to this will no longer act; indeed, the dissolution of the body, the end of the individual, and in this way the greatest check to the natural will, is welcome and desired. Now, the contradiction between our assertions of the necessity of the determination of the will by motives, in accordance with the character, on the one hand, and of the possibility of the entire suppression of the will whereby the motives become powerless, on the other hand, is only the repetition in the reflection of philosophy of this real contradiction which arises from the direct encroachment of the freedom of the will-in-itself, which knows no necessity, into the sphere of the necessity of its manifestation. But the key to the solution of these contradictions lies in the fact that the state in which the character is withdrawn from the power of motives does not proceed directly from the will, but from a changed form of knowledge. So long as the knowledge is merely that which is involved in the principium individuationis and exclusively follows the principle of sufficient reason, the strength of the motives is irresistible. But when the principium individuationis is seen through, when the Ideas, and indeed the inner nature of the thing-in-itself, as the same will in all, are directly recognised, and from this knowledge an universal quieter of volition arises, then the particular motives become ineffective, because the kind of knowledge which corresponds to them is obscured and thrown into the background by quite another kind. Therefore the character can never partially change, but must, with the consistency of a law of Nature, carry out in the particular the will which it manifests as a whole. But this whole, the character itself, may be completely suppressed or abolished through the change of knowledge referred to above. It is this suppression or abolition which Asmus, as quoted above, marvels at and denotes the “catholic, transcendental change;” and in the Christian Church it has very aptly been called the new birth, and the knowledge from which it springs, the work of grace. Therefore it is not a question of a change, but of an entire suppression of the character; and hence it arises that, however different the characters which experience the suppression may have been before it, after it they show a great similarity in their conduct, though every one still speaks very differently according to his conceptions and dogmas.
In this sense, then, the old philosophical doctrine of the freedom of the will, which has constantly been contested and constantly maintained, is not without ground, and the dogma of the Church of the work of grace and the new birth is not without meaning and significance. But we now unexpectedly see both united in one, and we can also now understand in what sense the excellent Malebranche could say, “La liberté est un mystère,” and was right. For precisely what the Christian mystics call the work of grace and the new birth, is for us the single direct expression of the freedom of the will. It only appears if the will, having attained to a knowledge of its own real nature, receives from this a quieter, by means of which the motives are deprived of their effect, which belongs to the province of another kind of knowledge, the objects of which are merely phenomena. The possibility of the freedom which thus expresses itself is the greatest prerogative of man, which is for ever wanting to the brute, because the condition of it is the deliberation of reason, which enables him to survey the whole of life independent of the impression of the present. The brute is entirely without the possibility of freedom, as, indeed, it is without the possibility of a proper or deliberate choice following upon a completed conflict of motives, which for this purpose would have to be abstract ideas. Therefore with the same necessity with which the stone falls to the earth, the hungry wolf buries its fangs in the flesh of its prey, without the possibility of the knowledge that it is itself the destroyed as well as the destroyer. Necessity is the kingdom of nature; freedom is the kingdom of grace.
Now because, as we have seen, that self-suppression of the will proceeds from knowledge, and all knowledge is involuntary, that denial of will also, that entrance into freedom, cannot be forcibly attained to by intention or design, but proceeds from the inmost relation of knowing and volition in the man, and therefore comes suddenly, as if spontaneously from without. This is why the Church has called it he work of grace; and that it still regards it as independent of the acceptance of grace corresponds to the fact that the effect of the quieter is finally a free act of will. And because, in consequence of such a work of grace, the whole nature of man is changed and reversed from its foundation, so that he no longer wills anything of all that he previously willed so intensely, so that it is as if a new man actually took the place of the old, the Church has called this consequence of the work of grace the new birth. For what it calls the natural man, to which it denies all capacity for good, is just the will to live, which must be denied if deliverance from an existence such as ours is to be attained. Behind our existence lies something else, which is only accessible to us if we have shaken off this world.
Having regard, not to the individuals according to the principle of sufficient reason, but to the Idea of man in its unity, Christian theology symbolises nature, the assertion of the will to live in Adam, whose sin, inherited by us, i.e., our unity with him in the Idea, which is represented in time by the bond of procreation, makes us all partakers of suffering and eternal death. On the other hand, it symbolises grace, the denial of the will, salvation, in the incarnate God, who, as free from all sin, that is, from all willing of life, cannot, like us, have proceeded from the most pronounced assertion of the will, nor can he, like us, have a body which is through and through simply concrete will, manifestation of the will; but born of a pure virgin, he has only a phantom body. This last is the doctrine of the Docetæ, i.e., certain Church Fathers, who in this respect are very consistent. It is especially taught by Apelles, against whom and his followers Tertullian wrote. But even Augustine comments thus on the passage, Rom. viii. 3, “God sent his Son in the likeness of sinful flesh:” “Non enim caro peccati erat, quæ non de carnali delectatione nata erat: sed tamen inerat ei similitudo carnis peccati, quia mortalis caro erat” (Liber 83, quæst. qu. 66). He also teaches in his work entitled “Opus Imperfectum,” i. 47, that inherited sin is both sin and punishment at once. It is already present in new-born children, but only shows itself if they grow up. Yet the origin of this sin is to be referred to the will of the sinner. This sinner was Adam, but we all existed in him; Adam became miserable, and in him we have all become miserable. Certainly the doctrine of original sin (assertion of the will) and of salvation (denial of the will) is the great truth which constitutes the essence of Christianity, while most of what remains is only the clothing of it, the husk or accessories. Therefore Jesus Christ ought always to be conceived in the universal, as the symbol or personification of the denial of the will to live, but never as an individual, whether according to his mythical history given in the Gospels, or according to the probably true history which lies at the foundation of this. For neither the one nor the other will easily satisfy us entirely. It is merely the vehicle of that conception for the people, who always demand something actual. That in recent times Christianity has forgotten its true significance, and degenerated into dull optimism, does not concern us here.
It is further an original and evangelical doctrine of Christianity—which Augustine, with the consent of the leaders of the Church, defended against the platitudes of the Pelagians, and which it was the principal aim of Luther's endeavour to purify from error and re-establish, as he expressly declares in his book, “De Servo Arbitrio,”—the doctrine that the will is not free, but originally subject to the inclination to evil. Therefore according to this doctrine the deeds of the will are always sinful and imperfect, and can never fully satisfy justice; and, finally, these works can never save us, but faith alone, a faith which itself does not spring from resolution and free will, but from the work of grace, without our co-operation, comes to us as from without.
Not only the dogmas referred to before, but also this last genuine evangelical dogma belongs to those which at the present day an ignorant and dull opinion rejects as absurd or hides. For, in spite of Augustine and Luther, it adheres to the vulgar Pelagianism, which the rationalism of the day really is, and treats as antiquated those deeply significant dogmas which are peculiar and essential to Christianity in the strictest sense; while, on the other hand, it holds fast and regards as the principal matter only the dogma that originates in Judaism, and has been retained from it, and is merely historically connected with Christianity. We, however, recognise in the doctrine referred to above the truth completely agreeing with the result of our own investigations. We see that true virtue and holiness of disposition have their origin not in deliberate choice (works), but in knowledge (faith); just as we have in like manner developed it from our leading thought. If it were works, which spring from motives and deliberate intention, that led to salvation, then, however one may turn it, virtue would always be a prudent, methodical, far-seeing egoism. But the faith to which the Christian Church promises salvation is this: that as through the fall of the first man we are all partakers of sin and subject to death and perdition, through the divine substitute, through grace and the taking upon himself of our fearful guilt, we are all saved, without any merit of our own (of the person); since that which can proceed from the intentional (determined by motives) action of the person, works, can never justify us, from its very nature, just because it is intentional, action induced by motives, opus operatum. Thus in this faith there is implied, first of all, that our condition is originally and essentially an incurable one, from which we need salvation; then, that we ourselves essentially belong to evil, and are so firmly bound to it that our works according to law and precept, i.e., according to motives, can never satisfy justice nor save us; but salvation is only obtained through faith, i.e., through a changed mode of knowing, and this faith can only come through grace, thus as from without. This means that the salvation is one which is quite foreign to our person, and points to a denial and surrender of this person necessary to salvation. Works, the result of the law as such, can never justify, because they are always action following upon motives. Luther demands (in his book “De Libertate Christiana”) that after the entrance of faith the good works shall proceed from it entirely of themselves, as symptoms, as fruits of it; yet by no means as constituting in themselves a claim to merit, justification, or reward, but taking place quite voluntarily and gratuitously. So we also hold that from the ever-clearer penetration of the principium individuationis proceeds, first, merely free justice, then love, extending to the complete abolition of egoism, and finally resignation or denial of the will.
I have here introduced these dogmas of Christian theology, which in themselves are foreign to philosophy, merely for the purpose of showing that the ethical doctrine which proceeds from our whole investigation, and is in complete agreement and connection with all its parts, although new and unprecedented in its expression, is by no means so in its real nature, but fully agrees with the Christian dogmas properly so called, and indeed, as regards its essence, was contained and present in them. It also agrees quite as accurately with the doctrines and ethical teachings of the sacred books of India, which in their turn are presented in quite different forms. At the same time the calling to mind of the dogmas of the Christian Church serves to explain and illustrate the apparent contradiction between the necessity of all expressions of character when motives are presented (the kingdom of Nature) on the one hand, and the freedom of the will in itself, to deny itself, and abolish the character with all the necessity of the motives based upon it (the kingdom of grace) on the other hand.
I now end the general account of ethics, and with it the whole development of that one thought which it has been my object to impart; and I by no means desire to conceal here an objection which concerns this last part of my exposition, but rather to point out that it lies in the nature of the question, and that it is quite impossible to remove it. It is this, that after our investigation has brought us to the point at which we have before our eyes perfect holiness, the denial and surrender of all volition, and thus the deliverance from a world whose whole existence we have found to be suffering, this appears to us as a passing away into empty nothingness.
On this I must first remark, that the conception of nothing is essentially relative, and always refers to a definite something which it negatives. This quality has been attributed (by Kant) merely to the nihil privativum, which is indicated by - as opposed to +, which -, from an opposite point of view, might become +, and in opposition to this nihil privativum the nihil negativum has been set up, which would in every reference be nothing, and as an example of this the logical contradiction which does away with itself has been given. But more closely considered, no absolute nothing, no proper nihil negativum is even thinkable; but everything of this kind, when considered from a higher standpoint or subsumed under a wider concept, is always merely a nihil privativum. Every nothing is thought as such only in relation to something, and presupposes this relation, and thus also this something. Even a logical contradiction is only a relative nothing. It is no thought of the reason, but it is not on that account an absolute nothing; for it is a combination of words; it is an example of the unthinkable, which is necessary in logic in order to prove the laws of thought. Therefore if for this end such an example is sought, we will stick to the nonsense as the positive which we are in search of, and pass over the sense as the negative. Thus every nihil negativum, if subordinated to a higher concept, will appear as a mere nihil privativum or relative nothing, which can, moreover, always exchange signs with what it negatives, so that that would then be thought as negation, and it itself as assertion. This also agrees with the result of the difficult dialectical investigation of the meaning of nothing which Plato gives in the “Sophist” (pp. 277-287): Την του ἑτερου φυσιν αποδειξαντες ουσαν τε, και κατακεκερματισμενην επι παντα τα οντα προς αλληλα, το προς το ον ἑκαστου μοριου αυτης αντιτιθεμενον, ετολμησαμεν ειπειν, ὡς αυτο τουτο εστιν οντως το μη ον (Cum enim ostenderemus, alterius ipsius naturam esse perque omnia entia divisam atque dispersam in vicem; tunc partem ejus oppositam ei, quod cujusque ens est, esse ipsum revera non ens asseruimus).
That which is generally received as positive, which we call the real, and the negation of which the concept nothing in its most general significance expresses, is just the world as idea, which I have shown to be the objectivity and mirror of the will. Moreover, we ourselves are just this will and this world, and to them belongs the idea in general, as one aspect of them. The form of the idea is space and time, therefore for this point of view all that is real must be in some place and at some time. Denial, abolition, conversion of the will, is also the abolition and the vanishing of the world, its mirror. If we no longer perceive it in this mirror, we ask in vain where it has gone, and then, because it has no longer any where and when, complain that it has vanished into nothing.
A reversed point of view, if it were possible for us, would reverse the signs and show the real for us as nothing, and that nothing as the real. But as long as we ourselves are the will to live, this last—nothing as the real—can only be known and signified by us negatively, because the old saying of Empedocles, that like can only be known by like, deprives us here of all knowledge, as, conversely, upon it finally rests the possibility of all our actual knowledge, i.e., the world as idea; for the world is the self-knowledge of the will.
If, however, it should be absolutely insisted upon that in some way or other a positive knowledge should be attained of that which philosophy can only express negatively as the denial of the will, there would be nothing for it but to refer to that state which all those who have attained to complete denial of the will have experienced, and which has been variously denoted by the names ecstasy, rapture, illumination, union with God, and so forth; a state, however, which cannot properly be called knowledge, because it has not the form of subject and object, and is, moreover, only attainable in one's own experience and cannot be further communicated.
We, however, who consistently occupy the standpoint of philosophy, must be satisfied here with negative knowledge, content to have reached the utmost limit of the positive. We have recognised the inmost nature of the world as will, and all its phenomena as only the objectivity of will; and we have followed this objectivity from the unconscious working of obscure forces of Nature up to the completely conscious action of man. Therefore we shall by no means evade the consequence, that with the free denial, the surrender of the will, all those phenomena are also abolished; that constant strain and effort without end and without rest at all the grades of objectivity, in which and through which the world consists; the multifarious forms succeeding each other in gradation; the whole manifestation of the will; and, finally, also the universal forms of this manifestation, time and space, and also its last fundamental form, subject and object; all are abolished. No will: no idea, no world.
Before us there is certainly only nothingness. But that which resists this passing into nothing, our nature, is indeed just the will to live, which we ourselves are as it is our world. That we abhor annihilation so greatly, is simply another expression of the fact that we so strenuously will life, and are nothing but this will, and know nothing besides it. But if we turn our glance from our own needy and embarrassed condition to those who have overcome the world, in whom the will, having attained to perfect self-knowledge, found itself again in all, and then freely denied itself, and who then merely wait to see the last trace of it vanish with the body which it animates; then, instead of the restless striving and effort, instead of the constant transition from wish to fruition, and from joy to sorrow, instead of the never-satisfied and never-dying hope which constitutes the life of the man who wills, we shall see that peace which is above all reason, that perfect calm of the spirit, that deep rest, that inviolable confidence and serenity, the mere reflection of which in the countenance, as Raphael and Correggio have represented it, is an entire and certain gospel; only knowledge remains, the will has vanished. We look with deep and painful longing upon this state, beside which the misery and wretchedness of our own is brought out clearly by the contrast. Yet this is the only consideration which can afford us lasting consolation, when, on the one hand, we have recognised incurable suffering and endless misery as essential to the manifestation of will, the world; and, on the other hand, see the world pass away with the abolition of will, and retain before us only empty nothingness. Thus, in this way, by contemplation of the life and conduct of saints, whom it is certainly rarely granted us to meet with in our own experience, but who are brought before our eyes by their written history, and, with the stamp of inner truth, by art, we must banish the dark impression of that nothingness which we discern behind all virtue and holiness as their final goal, and which we fear as children fear the dark; we must not even evade it like the Indians, through myths and meaningless words, such as reabsorption in Brahma or the Nirvana of the Buddhists. Rather do we freely acknowledge that what remains after the entire abolition of will is for all those who are still full of will certainly nothing; but, conversely, to those in whom the will has turned and has denied itself, this our world, which is so real, with all its suns and milky-ways—is nothing.
- The following remark may assist those for whom it is not too subtle to understand clearly that the individual is only the phenomenon, not the thing in itself. Every individual is, on the one hand, the subject of knowing, i.e., the complemental condition of the possibility of the whole objective world, and, on the other hand, a particular phenomenon of will, the same will which objectifies itself in everything. But this double nature of our being does not rest upon a self-existing unity, otherwise it would be possible for us to be conscious of ourselves in ourselves, and independent of the objects of knowledge and will. Now this is by no means possible, for as soon as we turn into ourselves to make the attempt, and seek for once to know ourselves fully by means of introspective reflection, we are lost in a bottomless void; we find ourselves like the hollow glass globe, from out of which a voice speaks whose cause is not to be found in it, and whereas we desired to comprehend ourselves, we find, with a shudder, nothing but a vanishing spectre.
- “Scholastici docuerunt, quod æternitas non sit temporis sine fine aut principio successio; sed Nunc stans, i.e., idem nobis Nunc esse, quod erat Nunc Adamo, i.e., inter nunc et tunc nullam esse differentiam.”—Hobbes, Leviathan, c. 46.
- In Eckermann's “Conversations of Goethe” (vol. i. p. 161), Goethe says: “Our spirit is a being of a nature quite indestructible, and its activity continues from eternity to eternity. It is like the sun, which seems to set only to our earthly eyes, but which, in reality, never sets, but shines on unceasingly.” Goethe has taken the simile from me; not I from him. Without doubt he used it in this conversation, which was held in 1824, in consequence of a (possibly unconscious) reminiscence of the above passage, for it occurs in the first edition, p. 401, in exactly the same words, and it is also repeated at p. 528 of that edition, as at the close of § 65 of the present work. The first edition was sent to him in December 1818, and in March 1819, when I was at Naples, he sent me his congratulations by letter, through my sister, and enclosed a piece of paper upon which he had noted the places of certain passages which had specially pleased him. Thus he had read my book.
- Cf. Chap. xli.-xliv. of Supplement.
- “Critique of Pure Reason,” first edition, pp. 532-558; fifth edition, pp. 560-586; and “Critique of Practical Reason,” fourth edition, pp. 169-179; Rosenkranz's edition, pp. 224-231.
- Cart. Medit. 4.—Spin. Eth., pt. ii. prop. 48 et 49, cæt.
- Herodot. vii. 46.
- Cf. Ch. xlvi. of Supplement.
- Cf. Ch. xlv. of the Supplement.
- Thus the basis of natural right of property does not require the assumption of two grounds of right beside each other, that based on detention and that based on formation; but the latter is itself sufficient. Only the name formation is not very suitable, for the spending of any labour upon a thing does not need to be a forming or fashioning of it.
- The further exposition of the philosophy of law here laid down will be found in my prize-essay, “Ueber das Fundament der Moral,” § 17, pp. 221-230 of 1st ed., pp. 216-226 of 2d ed.
- Cf. Ch. xlvii. of Supplement.
- Oupnek'hat, vol. i. p. 60 et seq.
- That Spanish bishop who, in the last war, poisoned both himself and the French generals at his own table, is an instance of this; and also various incidents in that war. Examples are also to be found in Montaigne, Bk. ii. ch. 12.
- Observe, in passing, that what gives every positive system of religion its great strength, the point of contact through which it takes possession of the soul, is entirely its ethical side. Not, however, the ethical side directly as such, but as it appears firmly united and interwoven with the element of mythical dogma which is present in every system of religion, and as intelligible only by means of this. So much is this the case, that although the ethical significance of action cannot be explained in accordance with the principle of sufficient reason, yet since every mythus follows this principle, believers regard the ethical significance of action as quite inseparable, and indeed as absolutely identical, and regard every attack upon the mythus as an attack upon right and virtue. This goes so far that among monotheistic nations atheism or godlessness has become synonymous with the absence of all morality. To the priests such confusions of conceptions are welcome, and only in consequence of them could that horrible monstrosity fanaticism arise and govern, not merely single individuals who happen to be specially perverse and bad, but whole nations, and finally embody itself in the Western world as the Inquisition (to the honour of mankind be it said that this only happened once in their history), which, according to the latest and most authentic accounts, in Madrid alone (in the rest of Spain there were many more such ecclesiastical dens of murderers) in 300 years put 300,000 human beings to a painful death at the stake on theological grounds—a fact of which every zealot ought to be reminded whenever he begins to make himself heard.
- The Church would say that these are merely opera operata, which do not avail unless grace gives the faith which leads to the new birth. But of this farther on.
- The right of man over the life and powers of the brutes rests on the fact that, because with the growing clearness of consciousness suffering increases in like measure; the pain which the brute suffers through death or work is not so great as man would suffer by merely denying himself the flesh, or the powers of the brutes. Therefore man may carry the assertion of his existence to the extent of denying the existence of the brute, and the will to live as a whole endures less suffering in this way than if the opposite course were adopted. This at once determines the extent of the use man may make of the powers of the brutes without wrong; a limit, however, which is often transgressed, especially in the case of beasts of burden and dogs used in the chase; to which the activity of societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals is principally devoted. In my opinion, that right does not extend to vivisection, particularly of the higher animals. On the other hand, the insect does not suffer so much through its death as a man suffers from its sting. The Hindus do not understand this.
- As I wander sunk in thought, so strong a sympathy with myself comes over me that I must often weep aloud, which otherwise I am not wont to do.
- Cf. Ch. xlvii. of Supplement. It is scarcely necessary to remind the reader that the whole ethical doctrine given in outline in §§ 61-67 has been explained fully and in detail in my prize-essay on the foundation of morals.
- This thought is expressed by a beautiful simile in the ancient philosophical Sanscrit writing, “Sankhya Karica:” “Yet the soul remains a while invested with body; as the potter's wheel continues whirling after the pot has been fashioned, by force of the impulse previously given to it. When separation of the informed soul from its corporeal frame at length takes place and nature in respect of it ceases, then is absolute and final deliverance accomplished.” Colebrooke, “On the Philosophy of the Hindus: Miscellaneous Essays,” vol i. p. 271. Also in the “Sankhya Karica by Horace Wilson,” § 67, p. 184.
- See, for example, “Oupnek'hat, studio Anquetil du Perron,” vol. ii., Nos. 138, 144, 145, 146. “Mythologie des Indous,” par Mad. de Polier, vol. ii., ch. 13, 14, 15, 16, 17. “Asiatisches Magazin,” by Klaproth: in the first volume, “Ueber die Fo-Religion,” also “Baghnat Geeta” or “Gespräche zwischen Krishna und Arjoon;” in the second volume, “Moha-Mudgava.” Also, “Institutes of Hindu Law, or the Ordinances of Manu,” from the Sanscrit, by Sir William Jones (German by Hüttner, 1797), especially the sixth and twelfth chapters. Finally, many passages in the “Asiatic Researches.” (In the last forty years Indian literature has grown so much in Europe, that if I were now to complete this note to the first edition, it would occupy several pages.)
- At the procession of Jagganath in June 1840, eleven Hindus threw themselves under the wheels, and were instantly killed. (Letter of an East Indian proprietor in the Times of 30th December 1840.)
- On δευτερος πλους cf. Stob. Floril., vol. ii. p. 374.
- Bruckeri Hist. Philos., tomi iv. pars. i. p. 10.
- Henry VI., Part ii. act 3, sc. 3.
- Cf. Ch. xlviii. of the Supplement.
- How truly this is the case may be seen from the fact that all the contradictions and inconceivabilities contained in the Christian dogmatics, consistently systematised by Augustine, which have led to the Pelagian insipidity which is opposed to them, vanish as soon as we abstract from the fundamental Jewish dogma, and recognize that man is not the work of another, but of his own will. Then all is at once clear and correct: then there is no need of freedom in the operari, for it lies in the esse; and there also lies the sin as original sin. The work of grace is, however, our own. To the rationalistic point of view of the day, on the contrary, many doctrines of the Augustinian dogmatics, founded on the New Testament, appear quite untenable, and indeed revolting; for example, predestination. Accordingly Christianity proper is rejected, and a return is made to crude Judaism. But the miscalculation or the original weakness of Christian dogmatics lies—where it is never sought—precisely in that which is withdrawn from all investigation as established and certain. Take this away and the whole of dogmatics is rational; for this dogma destroys theology as it does all other sciences. If any one studies the Augustinian theology in the books “De Civitate Dei” (especially in the Fourteenth Book), he experiences something analogous to the feeling of one who tries to make a body stand whose centre of gravity falls outside it; however he may turn it and place it, it always tumbles over again. So here, in spite of all the efforts and sophisms of Augustine, the guilt and misery of the world always falls back on God, who made everything and everything that is in everything, and also knew how all things would go. That Augustine himself was conscious of the difficulty, and puzzled by it, I have already shown in my prize-essay on the Freedom of the Will (ch. iv. pp. 66-68 of the first and second editions). In the same way, the contradiction between the goodness of God and the misery of the world, and also between the freedom of the will and the foreknowledge of God, is the inexhaustible theme of a controversy which lasted nearly a hundred years between the Cartesians, Malebranche, Leibnitz, Bayle, Clarke, Arnauld, and many others. The only dogma which was regarded as fixed by all parties was the existence and attributes of God, and they all unceasingly move in a circle, because they seek to bring these things into harmony, i.e., to solve a sum that will not come right, but always shows a remainder at some new place whenever we have concealed it elsewhere. But it does not occur to any one to seek for the source of the difficulty in the fundamental assumption, although it palpably obtrudes itself. Bayle alone shows that he saw this.
- This is also just the Prajna—Paramita of the Buddhists, the “beyond all knowledge,” i.e., the point at which subject and object are no more. (Cf. J. J. Schmidt, “Ueber das Mahajana und Pratschna-Paramita.”)