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792Ch. 8, Philosophy of Spiritual Activity

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  • DRStarman2001@aol.com
    Dec 31, 2001
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      The Factors of Life

      Let us recapitulate the results arrived at in the previous chapters. The
      world confronts man as a multiplicity, as a sum of separate entities. Man
      himself is one of these separate entities, a being among other beings. This
      aspect of the world we characterized simply as that which is given, and
      inasmuch as we do not evolve it by conscious activity, but find it present,
      we called it perception. Within the world of perceptions we perceive ourself.
      This self-perception would remain merely one among the many other
      perceptions, did not something arise from the midst of this self-perception
      which proves capable of connecting perceptions in general and therefore also
      the sum of all other perceptions with that of ourself. This something which
      emerges is no longer mere perception, neither is it, like perceptions, simply
      given. It is brought about by our activity. To begin with, it appears united
      with what we perceive as ourself. But in accordance with its inner
      significance it reaches out beyond the self. It bestows on the separate
      perceptions ideal definitions, and these relate themselves to one another and
      stem from a unity. What is attained by self-perception, it defines ideally in
      the same way as it defines all other perceptions, placing this as subject, or
      "I," over against the objects. This something is thinking, and the ideal
      definitions are the concepts and ideas. Thinking, therefore, first manifests
      itself in the perception of the self, but it is not merely subjective, for
      the self characterizes itself as subject only with the help of thinking. This
      relationship to oneself by means of thoughts is a life-definition of our
      personality. Through it we lead a purely ideal existence. Through it we feel
      ourselves to be thinking beings. This life-definition would remain a purely
      conceptual (logical) one if no other definitions of our self were added to
      it. We should then be beings whose life would be exhausted in establishing
      purely ideal relations between perceptions themselves, and between them and
      ourself. If we call the establishing of such a thought connection, an act of
      cognition, and the resulting condition of our self knowledge, then according
      to the above mentioned presupposition, we should have to consider ourselves
      as beings who merely cognize or know.
      However, the presupposition does not correspond to the facts. We relate
      perceptions to ourselves not merely ideally, through concepts, but also, as
      we have seen, through feeling. Therefore we are not beings with a merely
      conceptual life-content. The naive realist even sees in the life of feeling a
      more genuine life of the personality than in the purely ideal element of
      knowledge. And from his standpoint he is right in interpreting the matter in
      this way. For feeling on the subjective side to begin with, is exactly the
      same as perception on the objective side. From the basic principle of naive
      realism, that everything that can be perceived is real, it follows that
      feeling is the guarantee of the reality of one's own personality. Monism,
      however, as understood here, must confer upon feeling the same supplement
      that it considers necessary for all perceptions if these are to be present as
      a complete reality. For monism, feeling is an incomplete reality which, in
      the form it is first given to us, does not as yet contain its second factor,
      the concept or idea. This is why in actual life, feelings, like perceptions,
      appear before cognition has occurred. At first we have merely a feeling of
      existence, and it is only in the course of gradual development that we reach
      the point where the concept of our self dawns within the dim feeling of our
      existence. But what for us appears only later is fundamentally and
      indivisibly bound up with feeling. This fact leads the naive man to the
      belief that in feeling, existence is present directly, in knowledge only
      indirectly. Therefore the development of the feeling-life appears to him more
      important than anything else. He will believe that he has grasped the
      connection of things only when he has felt it. He attempts to make feelings
      rather than knowing the means of cognition. But as feeling is something quite
      individual, something equivalent to perception, a philosopher of feeling
      makes into the universal principle, a principle which has significance only
      within his personality. He tries to permeate the whole world with his own
      self. What the monist, in the sense we have described, strives to grasp by
      means of concepts, the philosopher of feeling tries to attain by means of
      feeling, and considers this relationship with objects to be the one that is
      most direct.
      The view just characterized, the philosophy of feeling, is often called
      mysticism. The error in mysticism based on feeling alone is that the mystic
      wants to experience in feeling what should be attained as knowledge; he wants
      to develop something which is individual, into something universal.
      Feeling is purely individual, it is the relation of the external world to our
      subject, insofar as this relation comes to expression in merely subjective
      There is yet another expression of the human personality. The I, through its
      thinking, lives within the universal life of the world; through thinking the
      "I" relates purely ideally (conceptually) the perception to itself, and
      itself to the perception. In feeling, it experiences a relation of the object
      to its own subject. In the will, the opposite is the case. In will, we are
      again confronted with a perception, namely that of the individual relation of
      our own self to the object. Everything in the will which is not a purely
      ideal factor is just as much a merely perceived object as any object in the
      external world.
      Nevertheless, here again the naive realist believes that he has before him
      something far more real than can be reached by thinking. He sees in the will
      an element in which he is directly aware of a process, a causation, in
      contrast to thinking, which must first grasp the process in concepts. What
      the I brings about by its will represents to such a view, a process which is
      experienced directly. An adherent of this philosophy believes that in the
      will he has really got hold of a corner of the universal process. Whereas all
      other events he can follow only by perceiving them from outside, he believes
      that in his will he is experiencing a real process quite directly. The form
      of existence in which the will appears to him within the self becomes for him
      a direct principle of reality. His own will appears to him as a special case
      of the universal process, and he therefore considers the latter to be
      universal will. The will becomes the universal principle just as in mysticism
      of feeling, feeling becomes the principle of knowledge. This view is a
      Philosophy of the Will (Thelism). Here something which can be experienced
      only individually is made into the constituent factor of the world.
      The philosophy of will can be called a science as little as can mysticism of
      feeling. For both maintain that to permeate things with concepts is
      insufficient. Both demand, side by side with an ideal-principle of existence,
      a real principle also. And this with a certain justification. But since for
      this so-called real principle, perceiving is our only means of comprehension,
      it follows that mysticism of feeling and philosophy of will are both of the
      opinion that we have two sources of knowledge: thinking and perceiving,
      perceiving being mediated through feeling and will as individual experience.
      According to mysticism of feeling and philosophy of will, what flows from the
      source of experience cannot be taken up directly into what flows from the
      source of thinking; therefore the two forms of knowledge, perceiving and
      thinking, remain standing side by side without a higher mediation. Besides
      the ideal principle attainable through knowledge, there is also supposed to
      exist a real principle which, although it can be experienced cannot be
      grasped by thinking. In other words: mysticism of feeling and philosophy of
      will are both forms of naive realism; they both adhere to the principle: What
      is directly perceived is real. Compared with naive realism in its original
      form, they are guilty of the further inconsistency of making one definite
      kind of perceiving (feeling or will) into the one and only means of knowing
      existence; and this they should not do when they adhere in general to the
      principle: What is perceived is real. According to this, for cognition,
      external perceptions should have equal value with inner perceptions of
      feeling or will.
      Philosophy of will becomes metaphysical realism when it considers will also
      to be present in those spheres of existence where a direct experience of it,
      as in one's own subject, is not possible. It hypothetically assumes a
      principle outside the subject, for which subjective experience is the sole
      criterion of reality. The philosophy of will as a form of metaphysical
      realism is open to the criticism indicated in the preceding chapter; it has
      to overcome the contradictory element inherent in every form of metaphysical
      realism, and acknowledge that the will is a universal world process only
      insofar as it relates itself ideally to the rest of the world.

      Addition to the Revised Version, 1918. The reason it is so difficult to
      observe and grasp the nature of thinking lies in the fact that its nature all
      too easily eludes the contemplating soul, as soon as one tries to focus
      attention on it. What then is left is something lifeless, abstract, the
      corpse of living thinking. If this abstract alone is considered, then it is
      easy, by contrast, to be drawn into the "living" element in mysticism of
      feeling, or into the metaphysics of the will, and to find it strange that
      anyone should expect to grasp the nature of reality in "mere thought." But
      one who really penetrates to the life within thinking will reach the insight
      that to experience existence merely in feeling or in will cannot in any way
      be compared with the inner richness, the inwardly at rest yet at the same
      time alive experience, of the life within thinking, and no longer will he say
      that the other could be ranked above this. It is just because of this
      richness, because of this inner fullness of living experience, that its
      reflection in the ordinary life of soul appears lifeless and abstract. No
      other human soul-activity is so easily underestimated as thinking. Will and
      feeling warm the human soul even when experienced only in recollection.
      Thinking all too easily leaves the soul cold in recollection; the soul-life
      then appears to have dried out. But this is only the strong shadow cast by
      its warm luminous reality, which dives down into the phenomena of the world.
      This diving down is done by a power that flows within the thinking activity
      itself, the power of spiritual love. The objection should not be made that to
      see love in active thinking is to transfer into thinking a feeling, namely
      love. This objection is in truth a confirmation of what is said here. For he
      who turns toward the living essence of thinking will find in it both feeling
      and will, and both of these in their deepest reality; whereas for someone who
      turns away from thinking and instead turns toward "mere" feeling or will, for
      him these will lose their true reality. One who is willing to experience
      intuitively in thinking, will also be able to do justice to what is
      experienced in the realm of feeling and in the element of will, whereas
      mysticism of feeling and metaphysics of will are incapable of doing justice
      to the activity of permeating existence with intuitive thinking. They all too
      easily come to the conclusion that they have found reality, whereas the
      intuitive thinker produces in abstract thoughts without feeling, and far
      removed from reality, a shadowy, chilling picture of the world.
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