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The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity, Ch. 5

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  • DRStarman2001@aol.com
    The Activity of Knowing the World From the foregoing considerations it follows that by investigating the content of our observation it is impossible to prove
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 28, 2001
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      The Activity of Knowing the World

      From the foregoing considerations it follows that by investigating the
      content of our observation it is impossible to prove that our perceptions are
      representations. This proof is supposed to follow from the fact that if the
      process of perception takes place in the way it is imagined, according to the
      naive-realistic suppositions as to man's psychological and physiological
      constitution, then we are dealing, not with things-in-themselves, but merely
      with our representations of things. Now if naive realism, when consistently
      thought through, leads to results which directly contradict what it
      presupposes, then one must regard its presuppositions as unsuitable for the
      foundation of a world view and discard them. It is certainly inadmissible on
      the one hand to reject the presuppositions and yet, on the other, to regard
      their outcome as valid, as does the critical idealist when he bases his
      assertion, The world is my representation, on the so-called proof indicated
      above. (Eduard von Hartmann gives a full account of this line of argument in
      his work, Das Grundproblem der Erkenntnistheorie, The Basic Problem of a
      Theory of Knowledge.)
      The correctness of critical idealism is one thing, the power of conviction of
      its proof another. How it stands with the former will be seen later in the
      course of our discussion. But the power of conviction of its proof is nil. If
      one builds a house and the first floor collapses while the second floor is
      being built, then the second floor collapses also. As first floor is related
      to second floor, so is naive realism related to critical idealism.
      For the one holding the view that the whole world we perceive is only a world
      that we represent to ourselves and, indeed, only the effect on our soul of
      things unknown to us, the essential problem of knowledge is naturally
      concerned, not with the representations present only in the soul, but with
      the things which lie outside our consciousness and are independent of us. He
      asks: How much can we indirectly learn about them, since they are not direc
      tly accessible to our observation? From this point of view he is concerned,
      not with the inner connection of his conscious perceptions, but with their
      causes, which lie beyond his consciousness and exist independently of him
      while the perceptions disappear as soon as he turns his senses away from
      things. From this point of view, our consciousness acts like a mirror from
      which the pictures of things also disappear the moment its reflecting surface
      is not turned toward them. He who does not see things themselves, but only
      their reflections, must obtain information about their nature indirectly by
      drawing conclusions from the behavior of the reflections. This is the
      standpoint of modern natural science, which uses perceptions only as a means
      of obtaining information about the processes of matter which lie behind them,
      and alone really "are." If the philosopher, as critical idealist,
      acknowledges a real existence at all, then his sole aim is to gain knowledge
      of this real existence indirectly by means of his representations. His
      interest skips over the subjective world of representations and instead
      pursues what produces these representations.
      But the critical idealist may go as far as to say: I am confined to the world
      of my representations and cannot get beyond it. If I think that there is
      something behind my representations, then again this thought is nothing but
      my representation. An idealist of this kind will then either deny the
      thing-in-itself entirely or, at any rate, say that it has no significance for
      human beings, that it is as good as non-existent since we can know nothing of
      it.
      To this kind of critical idealist the whole world seems a dream, in the face
      of which all striving for knowledge is simply meaningless. For him there can
      be only two kinds of men: those who are victims of the illusion that their
      own dream-pictures are real things, and the wise ones who see through the
      nothingness of this dream-world and therefore must gradually lose all desire
      to trouble themselves further about it. From this point of view, even one's
      own personality may become a mere dream phantom. Just as during sleep, among
      our dream-images an image of our self appears, so in waking consciousness the
      representation of the I is added to the representations of the outer world.
      We then have in consciousness not the real I, but only our representation of
      the I. Now, if the existence of things is denied or at least it is denied
      that we can know anything of them, then the existence or the knowledge of
      one's own personality must also be denied. The critical idealist then comes
      to maintain: "All reality transforms itself into a wonderful dream-without a
      life which is dreamed about, and without a spirit which dreams-into a dream
      which hangs together in a dream of itself."
      It does not matter whether the person who believes that he recognizes life to
      be a dream assumes nothing more behind this dream, or whether he refers his
      representations to real things: in either case, life must lose all scientific
      interest for him. But whereas all science must be meaningless for those who
      believe that the whole of the accessible universe is exhausted in dreams, for
      others who believe they can draw conclusions about the things from the
      representations, science will consist in the investigation of such
      "things-in-themselves." The first world view could be described as absolute
      illusionism, the second is called transcendental realism by its most
      consistent exponent, Eduard von Hartmann.
      Both these views have this in common with naive realism that they seek to
      establish themselves by means of an investigation of perceptions. However,
      nowhere within this sphere can they find a firm foundation.
      An essential question for an adherent of transcendental realism must be: How
      does the I bring about, out of itself, the world of representations? Insofar
      as it would be a means of investigating indirectly the world of the
      I-in-itself, an earnest striving for knowledge could still be kindled by a
      world of representations that was given us, even if this disappeared as soon
      as we shut our senses to the external world. If the things we experience were
      representations, then everyday life would be like a dream, and recognition of
      the true situation would be like an awakening. Our dream pictures also
      interest us as long as we are dreaming and, consequently, do not recognize
      them as dreams. The moment we awaken we no longer look for inner connections
      between our dream-pictures, but for the physical, physiological and
      psychological processes which caused them. In the same way a philosopher who
      considers the world to be his representation cannot be interested in the
      inner connection of the details within it. If he allows for the existence of
      an I at all, then he will not ask how his representations are connected with
      one another, but what takes place in the soul that exists independently of
      him while his consciousness contains a certain content of representations. If
      I dream that I am drinking wine which makes my throat burn, and I wake up
      coughing, then the moment I awaken I cease to be interested in what the dream
      was about; now my attention is concerned only with the physiological and
      psychological processes by means of which the irritation which caused me to
      cough comes to be symbolically expressed in the dream picture. Similarly the
      philosopher, as soon as he is convinced that the given world consists of
      nothing but representations, would at once turn from them to the real soul
      behind them. Things become worse when illusionism completely denies the
      existence of the I-in-itself behind representations, or at least holds it to
      be unknowable. One may easily arrive at such a view through the observation
      that in contrast to dreaming there exists the waking state, in which we have
      the opportunity to see through the dream and to refer it to the real
      connections of things, but that we have no condition which is related
      similarly to our waking conscious life. To adopt this view is to fail to see
      that in fact there is something which is related to mere perceiving as waking
      experience is related to dreams. This something is thinking.
      The naive man cannot be considered to lack the insight referred to here. He
      takes the world as it is and regards things as real in the sense in which he
      experiences them to be so. The first step, however, which is taken beyond
      this standpoint can only consist in asking: How is thinking related to
      perception? Whether or not the perception, in the form given me, continues to
      exist before and after my forming a representation of it, -if I want to say
      anything whatever about it, I can do so only with the help of thinking. If I
      say: The world is my representation, I have expressed the result of a
      thinking process, and if my thinking is not applicable to the world, then
      this result is erroneous. Between a perception and any kind of assertion
      about it, thinking slips in.
      It has already been indicated why, in our consideration of things, we usually
      overlook thinking (See p 24 ). This is due to the fact that we direct our
      attention only toward the object about which we think, but not toward our
      thinking at the same time. Naive consciousness treats thinking as something
      which has nothing to do with things, but stands altogether aloof from them
      and contemplates them. The picture which the thinker makes of the phenomena
      of the world is considered, not as something belonging to them, but as
      something existing only in men's heads. The world is complete, even without
      this picture The world is finished and ready-made with all its substances and
      forces, and of this ready-made world man makes himself a picture. Whoever
      thinks along these lines should be asked: What gives you the right to declare
      the world to be complete without thinking? Does the world not produce
      thinking in the heads of men with the same necessity as it produces the
      blossom on a plant? Plant a seed in the earth. Root and stem will grow. It
      will unfold leaves and blossoms. Then place the plant before you. In your
      soul it connects itself with a definite concept. Why should this concept
      belong to the entire plant any less than leaf and blossom? You say: The
      leaves and blossoms are there without the presence of a perceiving subject;
      the concept, however, does not appear till a human being confronts the plant.
      Quite true. But leaves and blossoms appear on the plant only if there is soil
      in which the seed can be planted, and light and air in which the leaves and
      blossoms can unfold. In just this way does the concept of the plant arise
      when a thinking consciousness confronts it.
      It is quite arbitrary to regard as a totality, as a thing in its entirety,
      the sum of what we experience through mere perception, and to regard as a
      mere addition, which has nothing to do with the thing itself, what reveals
      itself through thinking observation. If I receive a rosebud today, the
      picture that offers itself to my perception is complete only for the moment.
      If I put the bud into water, tomorrow I shall get a quite different picture
      of my object. If I do not turn my gaze away from the rosebud, then I shall
      see today's state gradually change into tomorrow's through an infinite number
      of intermediate stages. The picture which presents itself to me at any one
      moment is only a chance section of an object which is in a continual process
      of becoming. If I do not put the bud into water, a whole series of states,
      which as possibilities lay within the bud, will not be evolved; or tomorrow I
      may be prevented from observing the blossom further and therefore will have
      an incomplete picture of it.
      That opinion is quite subjective which, on the basis of a chance picture of a
      thing, declares: This is the thing.
      It is equally inadmissible to declare the sum of perceptions to be the thing.
      It could well be possible for a being to receive the concept at the same time
      as, and undivided from, the perception. To such a being it would never occur
      that the concept did not belong to the thing. He would ascribe to the concept
      an existence indivisibly bound up with the thing.
      Let me make myself clearer by an example. If I throw a stone horizontally
      through the air, I see it in different places, one after the other. I connect
      these places to form a line. In mathematics I learn to know various kinds of
      lines, one of which is the parabola. I know the parabola to be a line
      produced by a point moving according to certain laws. If I investigate the
      conditions under which the stone moves, I find that the path traversed is
      identical with the line I know as a parabola. That the stone moves just in a
      parabola is a result of the given conditions and necessarily follows from
      them. The form of the parabola belongs to the whole phenomenon as much as
      does any other feature of it. The being described above, who did not have to
      make the detour of thinking, would be given not only a sum of visual aspects
      at different points but, undivided from the whole occurrence, also the
      parabolic form of the path which we add to the phenomenon by means of
      thinking.
      It is not due to the objects that they are given us at first without the
      corresponding concepts, but to our intellectual organization. Our being as a
      totality functions in such a way that from every reality the elements
      belonging to it flow to us from two directions: from the direction of
      perceiving and from that of thinking.
      How I am organized for grasping them has nothing to do with the nature of
      things. The breach between perceiving and thinking is not present until the
      moment I, the one who contemplates them, confront the things. Which elements
      do, and which do not belong to the object, cannot at all depend on the manner
      in which I arrive at knowledge of these elements.
      Man is a limited being. To begin with, he is a being among other beings. His
      existence is bound up with space and time. Because of this, it is always only
      a limited section of the total universe that can be given him. But this
      limited section links itself in all directions, both in time and in space, to
      other sections. If our existence were so bound up with the surrounding world
      that every process would be a process in us as well, then the distinction
      between us and things would not exist. But then neither would there be any
      individual events for us. All events would pass over into one another
      continuously. The cosmos would be a unity, a totality enclosed within itself.
      Nowhere would there be a break in the stream of events. It is because of our
      limitations that things appear to us as if they were separate, when in
      reality they are not separate at all. Nowhere, for example, is the singular
      quality of red present by itself, in isolation. It is surrounded on all sides
      by other qualities, to which it belongs and without which it could not
      subsist. For us, however, to lift certain sections out from the rest of the
      world and to consider them by themselves, is a necessity. Our eye can take
      hold of only single colors, one after another, out of a totality of many
      colors, our understanding, of only single concepts out of a coherent system
      of concepts. This separating off is a subjective act, and it is due to the
      fact that man is not identical with the world process, but is a being among
      other beings.
      Now all depends on our defining how the being of man is related to other
      beings. This definition must be distinguished from merely becoming conscious
      of ourselves. This latter depends on the act of perceiving, just as does our
      becoming conscious of anything else. Self-perception shows me a number of
      qualities which I comprise in the unity of my personality in the same way as
      I comprise the qualities yellow, metallic, hard, etc., in the unity "gold."
      Self-perception does not take me beyond the sphere of what belongs to myself.
      This perceiving myself is to be distinguished from defining myself by means
      of thinking. Just as I insert a separate perception of the external world
      into the connection of things by means of thinking, so do I insert the
      perceptions derived from myself into the world process by means of thinking.
      When I perceive myself, then I see myself as enclosed within certain limits,
      but my thinking has nothing to do with these limits. In this sense I am a
      twofold being. I am enclosed within the sphere which I perceive as that of my
      personality, but I am also the bearer of an activity which, from a higher
      sphere, determines my limited existence. Our thinking is not individual like
      our sensing and feeling. It is universal. It receives an individual stamp in
      each separate human being only because it becomes related to his individual
      feelings and sensations. Through these particular colorings of the universal
      thinking, single persons differ from one another. A triangle has only one
      single concept. For the content of this concept it is quite immaterial
      whether the human bearer of consciousness who grasps it is A or B. But it
      will be grasped by each of the two bearers of consciousness in an individual
      way.
      This thought conflicts with a common prejudice which is very hard to
      overcome. Those who have this prejudice cannot reach the insight that the
      concept of triangle which my head grasps is the same concept as that which my
      neighbor's head grasps. The naive man considers himself to be the maker of
      his concepts. He therefore believes that each person has his own concepts. It
      is a fundamental requirement of philosophic thinking to overcome this
      prejudice. The one undivided concept, triangle, does not become a
      multiplicity because it is thought by many. For the thinking of the many is
      itself a unity.
      In thinking, we are given that element which embraces our particular
      individuality and makes it one with the cosmos. In that we sense and feel
      (and also perceive), we are single entities; in that we think, we are the
      All-One Being that pervades everything. This is the deeper foundation of our
      twofold being: We see within us a simply absolute force come into existence,
      a force which is universal, but we learn to know it, not as it issues from
      the center of the world, but at a point of the periphery. Were the former the
      case, as soon as we came to be conscious, we should know the whole world
      riddle. But since we stand at a point on the periphery and find that our own
      existence is confined within definite limits, we must learn to know the
      region which lies beyond our own being with the help of thinking, which
      penetrates into us out of the general world existence.
      Through the fact that the thinking in us reaches out beyond our separate
      existence and relates itself to the general world existence, there arises in
      us the urge for knowledge. Beings without thinking do not have this urge.
      When other things confront them, this gives rise to no questioning within
      them. These other things remain external to such beings. But the concept
      rises up within thinking beings when they confront external things. It is
      that part of things which we receive not from outside, but from within. It is
      for knowledge to bring about the agreement, the union of the two elements,
      the inner and the outer.
      The perception therefore is not something finished, not something
      self-contained, but one side of the total reality. The other side is the
      concept. The act of knowledge is the synthesis of perception and concept.
      Only perception and concept together constitute the whole thing.
      The above explanations give proof that it is meaningless to seek for any
      common factor in the separate entities of the world, other than the ideal
      content to be found in thinking. All efforts must fail which seek to find any
      other world unity than this internally coherent ideal content which we gain
      by thinking consideration of our perceptions. Neither a humanly personal God,
      nor force, nor matter, nor idea-less will (Schopenhauer), is acceptable as
      the universal world unity. All these entities belong only to a limited sphere
      of our observation. Humanly limited personality we perceive only in man,
      force and matter in external things. As regards the will, it can be
      considered only as the expression of the activity of our finite personality.
      Schopenhauer wants to avoid making "abstract" thinking the bearer of the
      world unity, and instead seeks something which seems to him to be immediate
      reality. This philosopher believes we can never approach the world so long as
      we regard it as an external world.
      "In fact, the meaning sought for in the world that con{ronts me solely as my
      representation, or the transition from it, as mere representation of the
      cognizing subject, to whatever it may be besides this, could never be found
      if the investigator himself were nothing more than the pure cognizing subject
      (a winged cherub without a body). But he himself is rooted in that world, he
      finds himself in it as an individual; this means that his knowledge, which is
      the necessary bearer of the whole world as representation, is yet always
      given through the medium of a body, whose affections are, as we have shown,
      the starting point from which the intellect forms a view of that world. For
      the pure cognizing subject as such, this body is a representation like every
      other representation, an object among objects; in this respect its movements
      and actions are known to him in no other way than the changes in all other
      objects which he can contemplate, and would be just as strange and
      incomprehensible to him if their meaning were not revealed to him in an
      entirely different way.... For the subject of cognition, who appears as an
      individual through his identity with the body, this body is given in two
      entirely different ways: It is given as a representation for intelligent
      consideration, as object among objects and subjected to their laws; but also,
      at the same time, in quite a different way, namely, as that which is directly
      known to everyone, and which is called will. Every true act of his will is
      also at once and unfailingly a movement of his body: he cannot will the act
      without perceiving at the same time that it appears as a movement of the
      body. The act of will and the action of the body are not two different
      conditions objectively recognized, connected by the bond of causality; they
      do not stand in the relation of cause and effect; they are one and the same,
      but are given in two entirely different ways: once quite directly, and once
      again for the intelligence that considers it."
      By these arguments Schopenhauer believes himself entitled to see in the human
      body the "objectivity" of the will. In his opinion one feels in the actions
      of the body a direct reality, the thing-in-itself in the concrete. The
      objection to these arguments is that the actions of our body come to our
      consciousness only through self-perceptions, and that, as such, they are in
      no way superior to other perceptions. If we want to learn to know their
      nature, we can do so only by thinking investigation, that is, by fitting them
      into the ideal system of our concepts and ideas.
      Rooted most deeply in the naive consciousness of mankind is the opinion:
      Thinking is abstract, empty of all concrete content. At most it can give an
      "ideal" mirror-picture of the world, but nothing of the world itself. To
      judge like this is never to have become clear about what perception without
      the concept, is. Let us look at this realm of mere perceptions: it appears as
      a mere juxtaposition in space, a mere succession in time, an aggregate of
      disconnected entities. None of the things which come and go on the stage of
      perception have any direct, perceptible connection with any others. From this
      aspect, the world is a multiplicity of objects of equal value. None plays any
      greater part in the hustle and bustle of the world than any other. If it is
      to become clear to us that this or that fact has greater significance than
      another, we -must consult our thinking. Without the functioning of thinking,
      the rudimentary organ of an animal which has no significance in its life
      appears to us as equal in value to the most important limb. The separate
      facts appear in their own significance, as well as in their significance for
      the rest of the world only when thinking spins its threads from one entity to
      another. This activity of thinking is one filled with content. For it is only
      through a quite definite, concrete content that I can know why the snail
      belongs to a lower level of organization than the lion. The mere sight, the
      perception, gives me no content which can inform me about the degree of
      perfection of an organization.
      Thinking brings this content to the perception from man's world of concepts
      and ideas. In contrast to the content of perception given to us from outside,
      the content of thought shines forth in the inner being of man. The manner in
      which the content of thought first appears, we will call intuition. Intuition
      is for thinking what observation is for perception. Intuition and observation
      are the sources of our knowledge. An observed object or event is foreign to
      us as long as we do not have in our inner being the corresponding intuition
      which completes for us that part of reality which is missing in the
      perception. To someone who lacks the ability to find intuitions corresponding
      to things, the full reality remains inaccessible. Just as the color-blind
      sees only differences of brightness without any color qualities, so the one
      who lacks intuition can observe only disconnected fragments of perceptions.
      To explain a thing, to make it intelligible, means nothing other than to
      place it into the context from which it has been torn owing to the nature of
      our organization as described above. Something cut off from the world whole
      does not exist. Isolation in any form has only subjective validity for our
      organization. For us the world unity divides itself into above and below,
      before and after, cause and effect, object and representation, matter and
      force, object and subject, etc. What appears to our observation as single
      entities, combines, bit by bit, through the coherent, undivided world of our
      intuitions, and through thinking we again fit together into a unity
      everything we had divided through perceiving.
      The enigmatic aspect of an object is due to its separate existence. But this
      separation is brought about by us and, within the world of concepts, can be
      canceled again.
      Except through thinking and perceiving, nothing is given to us directly. The
      question now arises: What significance has perception according to our line
      of thought? We have, it is true, recognized that the proof which critical
      idealism brings forward for the subjective nature of perceptions, collapses,
      but the insight that the proof is wrong does not necessarily mean that what
      is asserted is incorrect. Critical idealism does not base its proof on the
      absolute nature of thinking, but relies on the fact that naive realism, when
      followed to its logical conclusion, contradicts itself. How does the matter
      stand when the absoluteness of thinking is recognized?
      Let us assume that a certain perception, for example, red, appears in my
      consciousness. Continued consideration will show the perception to be
      connected with other perceptions, for example, a definite form, certain
      perceptions of temperature, and of touch. This combination I call an object
      of the sense world. I can now ask: Over and above the perceptions just
      mentioned, what else is there in that section of space where they appear? I
      shall find mechanical, chemical and other processes in that section of space.
      I now go further and investigate the processes I find on the way from the
      object to my sense organs. I can find movements in an elastic medium, and
      their nature has not the slightest thing in common with the original
      perception. I get the same result when I go on and investigate the further
      transmission between sense organs and brain. In each of these spheres I
      gather new perceptions, but the connecting medium permeating all these
      perceptions standing side by side in both space and time, is thinking. The
      air vibrations which carry sound are given me as perception, just as is the
      sound itself. Thinking alone links all these perceptions to one another,
      showing them in their mutual relationships. Beyond what is directly
      perceived, we cannot speak of anything except what can be recognized through
      the ideal connections of perceptions (that is, what can be discovered through
      thinking). That relationship between the perceptual object and the perceiving
      subject, which goes beyond what can be perceived, is therefore a purely ideal
      one, that is, it can be expressed only by means of concepts. Only if I could
      perceive how the perceptual object affects the perceiving subject, or, the
      other way round, if I could observe the building up of the perceptual
      pictures by the subject, would it be possible to speak as does modern
      physiology and the critical idealism based on it. This view confuses an ideal
      relation (that of the object to the subject) with a process which we could
      speak of only if it were possible to perceive it. The principle, "No color
      without a color-seeing eye," is therefore not to be taken to mean that the
      eye produces the color, but only that an ideal relationship, recognizable by
      thinking, exists between the perception, color and the perception, eye.
      Empirical science will have to establish how the nature of the eye and the
      nature of colors are related to one another, that is, by what means the organ
      of sight transmits the perception of colors, etc. I can trace how one
      perception succeeds another and how one is related to others in space, and I
      can formulate this in conceptual terms, but I cannot perceive how a
      perception originates out of the non-perceptible. All attempts to seek any
      relations between perceptions other than thought relations must of necessity
      fail.
      What, then, is a perception? When asked in general, this question is absurd.
      A perception always appears as a quite definite, concrete content. This
      content is directly given and is completely contained within the given. The
      only question one can ask concerning this given is, What is it apart from
      being a perception; that is, What is it for thinking? The question concerning
      the "what" of a perception, therefore, can refer only to the conceptual
      intuition which corresponds to it. Seen in this light, the question of the
      subjectivity of perceptions, in the sense of critical idealism, cannot be
      raised at all. Only what is perceived as belonging to the subject can be
      termed "subjective." No real process, in a naive sense, can form a link
      between the subjective and the objective, that is, no process that can be
      perceived; this is possible only for thinking. For us, then, that is
      objective which, to perception, lies outside of the perceptual subject. My
      perceptual subject remains perceptible to me when the table which stands
      before me has disappeared from my field of observation. My observation of the
      table has caused in me a change which likewise remains. I retain the ability
      to reproduce a picture of the table later. This ability to produce a picture
      remains connected with me. Psychology describes this picture as a memory
      representation. However, it is the only thing which can correctly be called
      the representation of the table. For it corresponds to the perceptible change
      in me, caused through the presence of the table in my field of vision. And
      indeed, it is not a change in some "I-in-itself" standing behind the
      perceptual subject, but a change in the perceptible subject itself. A
      representation, then, is a subjective perception, in contrast to the
      objective perception which occurs when the object is present in the field of
      vision. The confusing of the former subjective with the latter objective
      perception leads to the misunderstanding of idealism: The world is my
      representation. The next step must be to define the concept of representation
      more exactly. What we have so far described of it is not its concept; what we
      have described has only pointed the way to where in the perceptual field
      representations are to be found. The exact concept of representation will
      also then make it possible for us to gain a satisfactory explanation of the
      relationship between representation and object. This will also lead us over
      the border-line, where the relationship between the human subject and the
      object belonging to the world is brought down from the purely conceptual
      field of knowledge into concrete individual life. Once we know what to think
      of the world, it will also be easy to adapt ourselves to it. We can only be
      active with our full human forces when we know the objects belonging to the
      world to which we devote our activity.
      Addition to the Revised Edition (1918): The view I have characterized here
      can be regarded as one to which man is led at first, as if by a natural
      instinct, the moment he begins to reflect upon his relation to the world. He
      then finds himself caught in a thought formation which dissolves for him
      while he frames it. This thought formation is such that a purely theoretical
      refutation of it does not suffice. One has to live through it and experience
      it in order to recognize how far it leads one astray, and then to find the
      way out. It must be a feature of any discussion concerning man's relation to
      the world, not for the sake of refuting others whose view about this relation
      one believes to be wrong, but because one must oneself experience to what
      confusion every first reflection about such a relation can lead. One must
      gain that insight which will enable one to refute oneself with respect to
      such a first reflection. The above discussion is meant in this sense.
      When one tries to work out a view about man's relation to the world, one
      becomes conscious of the fact that man himself creates this relation, at
      least in part, by forming representations about the things and events in the
      world. This draws his attention away from what is present outside in the
      world and directs it to his inner world, to his life of forming
      representations. He begins to say to himself: It is impossible for me to have
      a relationship to any thing or event unless a representation of it appears in
      me. From noticing this fact, it is but a step to the opinion: All that I
      experience is, after all, only my representation; I know about a world
      outside me only insofar as it is representation in me. With this opinion, man
      abandons the standpoint of naive reality which he has before he begins to
      reflect about his relation to the world. From the naive standpoint, he
      believes that he is dealing with real things. But reflection about his own
      being drives him away from this standpoint. This reflection does not allow
      him to turn his gaze toward a real world such as naive consciousness believes
      it confronts. This reflection turns his gaze only toward his representations;
      his representations slip in between his own being and that real world the
      naive standpoint believes in. Man no longer can look through the intervening
      world of representations to any such reality. He has to assume that he is
      blind to this reality. So the thought arises of a "thing-in-itself" which is
      inaccessible to knowledge. -As long as one considers only the relationship to
      the world into which man appears to enter through his life of forming
      representations, one cannot escape from this line of thought. But one cannot
      remain at the naive standpoint of reality except by artificially curbing the
      thirst for knowledge. The fact that in man the need is present for knowledge
      about his relation to the world indicates that the naive standpoint must be
      abandoned. If the naive standpoint gave us anything that could be
      acknowledged as truth, then we should not feel this need. -But one does not
      arrive at anything else that could be considered as truth if one merely
      abandons the naive standpoint, but retains, without noticing it, the kind of
      thought which it imposes upon us. This is the mistake that is made when it is
      said: I experience only my representations, and while I believe that I am
      dealing with reality, I am actually conscious only of my representations of
      reality; I must, therefore, assume that genuine reality, the
      "thing-in-itself," exists only outside the boundary of my consciousness and
      that I know nothing of it directly, but that it somehow approaches me and
      influences me in such a way that my representations come about. To think in
      this way is only to add in thought, to the world before us, another world;
      but one must begin the whole thinking process over again with regard to this
      second world. For the unknown "thing-in-itself," in its relation to man's
      being, is thought of in exactly the same way as is the known thing of the
      naive standpoint of reality.-One only escapes the confusion that arises in
      one's critical reflection concerning this standpoint when one notices that
      inside everything we can experience by means of perceiving, be it within
      ourselves or outside in the world, there is something which cannot succumb to
      the fate that a representation inserts itself between event and contemplating
      human being. And this something is thinking. With regard to thinking, man can
      remain at the naive standpoint of reality. If he does not do so, it is only
      because he has noticed that he has to abandon this standpoint in regard to
      other things, but overlooks the fact that this insight, which is true for
      other things, does not apply to thinking. When he notices this, he opens the
      portal to yet another insight, that in thinking and through thinking that
      must be acknowledged to which man appears to blind himself because he has to
      place between himself and the world the life of representations. -A critic
      highly esteemed by the author of this book has objected that this discussion
      of thinking remains at naive realism in regard to thinking, as it must if the
      real world and the world of representations are held to be one and the same.
      However, the author believes he has shown in just this discussion this fact:
      that an unprejudiced observation of thinking inevitably shows that "naive
      realism" is valid for thinking, and that naive realism, insofar as it is not
      valid for other things, is overcome through the recognition of the true
      nature of thinking.
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