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Ch. 8, Philosophy of Spiritual Activity

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  • DRStarman2001@aol.com
    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
    Message 1 of 6 , Dec 31, 2001
      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.
    • DRStarman2001@aol.com
      This is a summary of the first 7 chapters, in which the only new material is Steiner s response to all those who would place either feeling or will higher than
      Message 2 of 6 , Dec 31, 2001
        This is a summary of the first 7 chapters, in which the only new material is
        Steiner's response to all those who would place either feeling or will higher
        than thinking as an approach to reality. Tomorrow as we begin the new year
        we'll begin the really new stuff.

      • jackstrange11
        ... material is ... will higher ... new year ... I would like to draw our attention to the Addendum 1918 part at the end because Steiner begins to give a
        Message 3 of 6 , Dec 31, 2001
          --- In steiner@y..., DRStarman2001@a... wrote:
          > This is a summary of the first 7 chapters, in which the only new
          material is
          > Steiner's response to all those who would place either feeling or
          will higher
          > than thinking as an approach to reality. Tomorrow as we begin the
          new year
          > we'll begin the really new stuff.
          > Starman

          I would like to draw our attention to the Addendum 1918 part at the
          end because Steiner begins to give a description of thinking that
          seems to flow from the clairvoyant's vision of pure thinking. Many
          seekers are repelled by thinking because our review of thinking
          merely captures a corpse of the living process.

          Until we can meditatively view thinking in all its world creating
          glory, we see only a bloodless shadow that pales before will and
          thinking. But when we truly see thinking, we see it penetrate the
          world driven by the power of spirtual love, containing the forces of
          feeling and will within it.

          Also Steiner's ideas in this chapter explain much about the writing
          style which he employs in the basic books, including the PoF.
          Appeals to feeling and will would distract the reader from learning
          to confront the world of thinking.
        • Carol
          Happy New Year! Steiner says: One will see that this organization can have no effect on the essential nature of thinking It seems to me that he is taking our
          Message 4 of 6 , Dec 31, 2001
            Happy New Year!

            Steiner says:

            "One will see that this organization can have no
            effect on the essential nature of thinking"

            It seems to me that he is taking our research to the
            next level. In my own little way I can honestly say I
            have kept up with him experientially so far, but with
            this observation the thinking's essence as independent
            of my psycho-physical organization, he is stepping, I
            think, into a realm of Imaginative thinking. He
            describes observing how our physical oranization
            recedes when the activity of thinking approaches. How
            do I observe this receding? Is Steiner beginning to
            share his Imaginations with us at this point? And if
            so, must we, those of us who do not observe these
            Pictures, shift are approach to the study? Thanks


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          • sncherr
            ... ^`^`^`^`Well... yes, and no. On the one hand, the entire premise of the book is that thinking is separate from our bodily organization. Thinking is so
            Message 5 of 6 , Jan 1, 2002
              --- In steiner@y..., Carol <softabyss@y...> wrote:
              > Happy New Year!
              > Steiner says:
              > "One will see that this organization can have no
              > effect on the essential nature of thinking"
              > It seems to me that he is taking our research to the
              > next level. In my own little way I can honestly say I
              > have kept up with him experientially so far, but with
              > this observation the thinking's essence as independent
              > of my psycho-physical organization, he is stepping, I
              > think, into a realm of Imaginative thinking

              ^`^`^`^`Well... yes, and no. On the one hand, the entire premise of
              the book is that thinking is separate from our bodily organization.
              Thinking is so enmeshed that we are not even aware at times what our
              motives are for our actions (thinking, feeling, or willing). On the
              other hand, the entire book is, by hs own words, Steiner's personal
              account of his own path to free thought.

              No one has mentioned thus far the excellent reference for study of PoF
              entitled "Rudolf Steiner On His Book The Philosophy of Freedom"
              arranged by Otto Palmer. In this book, Dr. Palmer quotes the following
              from a letter written by Dr. Stiener (about PoF) to Rosa Mayreder:

              "My reason for writing as I did, however, was purely subjective. I was
              not setting forth a doctrine, but simply recording inner experiences
              through which I had actually passed. And I reported them just as I
              experienced them. Everything in my book is written from this personal
              angle, even to the shaping of the thoughts it contains. <snip> But my
              purpose was to write a biographical acoount of how one human soul made
              the difficult ascent to freedom."

              A fascinating aside about this book--Otto Palmer was a German POW when
              he first read "Philosohpy of Freedom". Apparently he had been
              introduced to Steiner by his mother before his capture as a german
              soldier in WW1. Of the few letters he wrote, one was to Rudolf Steiner
              who responded by sending him a copy of his (then) newly published book
              "Philosophy of Freedom". Palmer received the book none other than New
              Year's day, 1919.

            • DRStarman2001@aol.com
              The Idea of Spiritual Activity (Freiheit) For cognition the concept of a tree is conditioned by the perception of the tree. When confronted with a particular
              Message 6 of 6 , Jan 1, 2002
                The Idea of Spiritual Activity (Freiheit)

                For cognition the concept of a tree is conditioned by the perception of the
                tree. When confronted with a particular perception I can lift out only one
                definite concept from the general system of concepts. The connection between
                concept and perception is determined indirectly and objectively through
                thinking according to the perception. The connection of the perception with
                its concept is recognized after the act of perception; but that they belong
                to one another is already inherent in the object itself.
                The process is different when the relation of man to the world is considered,
                as it arises within knowledge. In the preceding explanation the attempt has
                been made to show that it is possible to throw light on this relation if one
                observes it without prejudice. A real understanding of such an observation
                leads to the insight that thinking can be directly experienced as a
                self-contained reality. In order to explain thinking as such, those who find
                it necessary to add something to it, such as physical brain-processes or
                unconscious spiritual processes lying behind the conscious thinking which is
                being observed, underestimate what can be seen when thinking is observed
                without prejudice. During his observation of thinking, the observer lives
                directly within a spiritual, self-sustaining activity of a living reality.
                Indeed one can say that he who wants to grasp the reality of spirit in the
                form in which it first presents itself to man, can do this in his own
                self-sustaining thinking.
                When thinking is observed, two things coincide which elsewhere must always
                appear apart: concept and perception. If this is not recognized, then in the
                concepts which have been worked out according to perceptions, one is unable
                to see anything but shadowy copies of the perceptions, and will take the
                perceptions to be the full reality. Further, one will build up a metaphysical
                sphere on the pattern of the perceived world, and each person, according to
                his views, will call this world a world of atoms, a world of will, a world of
                unconscious spirit, and so on. And he will not notice that with all this he
                merely hypothetically builds up a metaphysical world on the pattern of his
                world of perceptions. But if he realizes what he has before him in thinking,
                then he will also recognize that in the perception only a part of reality is
                present, and that the other part that belongs to it and first allows it to
                appear as full reality, is experienced in the act of permeating the
                perception with thinking. Then in what arises in consciousness as thinking,
                he will also see not a shadowy copy of some reality, but spiritual reality
                itself. And of this he can say that it becomes present in his consciousness
                through intuition. Intuition is a conscious experience of a purely spiritual
                content, taking place in the sphere of pure spirit. Only through an intuition
                can the reality of thinking be grasped.
                Only when, by observing thinking without prejudice, one has wrestled one's
                way through to recognizing the truth that the nature of thinking is
                intuitive, is it possible to gain a real understanding of the body-soul
                organization of man. Then one recognizes that this organization cannot affect
                the nature of thinking. Quite obvious facts seem to contradict this at first.
                For ordinary experience, human thinking only takes place connected with, and
                by means of, the organization. This comes so strongly to the fore that the
                true facts can only be seen when it has been recognized that nothing from the
                organization plays into thinking as such. And then it is impossible not to
                notice how extraordinary is the relation of the human organization to
                thinking. For this organization has no effect at all on thinking; rather it
                withdraws when the activity of thinking takes place; it suspends its own
                activity, it makes room, and in the space that has become free, thinking
                appears. The spiritual substance that acts in thinking has a twofold task:
                first it presses back the human organization in its activity, and next, it
                steps into the place of it. The first, the pressing back of the bodily
                organization, is also a consequence of the thinking activity, and indeed of
                that part of this activity which prepares the manifestation of thinking. This
                explains the sense in which thinking finds its counterpart in the bodily
                organization. And when this is recognized, one will no longer mistake this
                counterpart for thinking itself. If someone walks over soft ground, his feet
                leave impressions in the soil. But one is not tempted to say that the forces
                of the ground have formed these imprints from below. One will not ascribe to
                these forces any participation in the creating of the footprints. So too, one
                who, without prejudice, observes the nature of thinking will not ascribe to
                the imprints in the bodily organization any participation in the nature of
                thinking, for the imprints in the organization come about through the fact
                that thinking prepares its manifestation through the body.
                Now a significant question arises. If the human organism does not partake in
                the spiritual substance of thinking, what significance has this organism
                within man's being as a whole? Now what happens in this organism through
                thinking has nothing to do with the nature of thinking, but indeed it has to
                do with the arising of the I-consciousness within thinking. The real "I"
                exists within the being of thinking, but not so the I-consciousness. This
                will be recognized if only thinking is observed without prejudice. The "I" is
                to be found within thinking; the "I-consciousness" arises through the fact
                that the imprints of the activity of thinking are engraved upon the general
                consciousness in the sense explained above. (The I-consciousness therefore
                arises through the bodily organism. But by this is not meant that the
                I-consciousness, once it has arisen, remains dependent on the bodily
                organism. Once arisen, it is taken up into thinking and henceforth shares its
                spiritual nature.)
                The human organism is the foundation of the "I-consciousness." It is also the
                source of will-activity. It follows from the preceding explanation that an
                insight into the connection between thinking, conscious I, and will activity
                can only be obtained if we first observe how will-activity issues from the
                human organism.
                The factors to be considered in a particular act of will are the motive and
                the driving force. The motive is either a concept or a representation; the
                driving force is the will element and is directly conditioned by the human
                organism. The conceptual factor, or motive, is the momentary source from
                which the will is determined; the driving force is the permanent source of
                determination in the individual. A motive of will may be a pure concept or a
                concept with a definite reference to what is perceived, i.e. a
                representation. General and individual concepts (representations) become
                motives of will by influencing the human individual and determine him to act
                in a particular direction. But one and the same concept, or one and the same
                representation, influences different individuals differently. It impels
                different people to different actions. Will, therefore, does not come about
                merely as a result of the concept, or representation, but also through the
                individual disposition of human beings. This individual disposition we will
                call-in this respect one can follow Eduard von Hartmann -the
                characterological disposition. The way in which concepts and representations
                influence the characterological disposition of a person gives his life a
                definite moral or ethical stamp.
                The characterological disposition is formed through the more or less constant
                life-content of our subject, that is, through the content of our
                representations and feelings. Whether a present representation stimulates me
                to will or not, depends on how the representation is related to the content
                of the rest of my representations, and also to my particular feelings. The
                content of my representations is determined in turn by all those concepts
                which in the course of my individual life have come into contact with
                perceptions, that is, have become representations. This again depends on my
                greater or lesser capacity for intuition, and on the range of my
                observations, that is, on the subjective and the objective factors of
                experience, on my inner determination and my place in life. The
                characterological disposition is more particularly determined by the life of
                feeling. Whether I make a definite representation or concept the motive of my
                action will depend on whether it gives me pleasure or pain. -These are the
                elements which come into consideration in an act of will. The immediately
                present representation or concept which becomes motive, determines the aim,
                the purpose of my will; my characterological disposition determines me to
                direct my activity toward this aim. The representation, to go for a walk in
                the next half-hour, determines the aim of my action. But this representation
                is elevated to a motive of will only if it meets with a suitable
                characterological disposition, that is, if during my life until now I have
                formed representations concerning the purpose of walking, its value for
                health, and further, if the representation of walking combines in me with a
                feeling of pleasure. We therefore must distinguish: 1) the possible
                subjective dispositions which are suitable for turning definite
                representations and concepts into motives; and 2) the possible
                representations and concepts which are capable of so influencing my
                characterological disposition that willing is the result. The first
                represents the driving force, the second, the aims of morality.
                We can find the driving force of morality by investigating the elements which
                comprise individual life.
                The first level of individual life is perceiving, more particularly,
                perceiving by means of the senses. Here we are concerned with that region of
                our individual life where perceiving, without a feeling or a concept coming
                between, is directly transformed into willing. The driving force in man,
                which comes into consideration here, we shall simply call instinct. The
                satisfaction of our lower, purely animal needs (hunger, sexual intercourse,
                etc.) takes place in this way. What is most characteristic of instinctive
                life is the immediacy with which a particular perception releases the will.
                This kind of determination of the will, which is characteristic only of lower
                sense-life to begin with, can also be extended to the perceptions of the
                higher senses. We let a deed follow upon the perception of some event or
                other in the outer world without further reflection and without linking any
                particular feeling to the perception, as in fact happens in conventional
                social life. The driving force of such conduct is what is called tact or
                moral etiquette. The more often such a direct release of activity by a
                perception takes place, the more the person concerned is able to act purely
                under the guidance of tact, that is:tact becomes his characterological
                The second level of human life is feeling. Definite feelings link themselves
                to the perceptions of the outer world. These feelings can become the driving
                forces of deeds. When I see a starving person, pity for him can become the
                driving force of my action. Such feelings, for example, are shame, pride,
                honor, humility, remorse, pity, revenge, gratitude, piety, loyalty, love and
                The third level of life is thinking and forming representations. A
                representation or a concept can become motive for an action through mere
                reflection. Representations become motives because in the course of life we
                continuously link certain aims of will with perceptions which keep returning
                in more or less modified form. This is why, when people not entirely without
                experience have certain perceptions, there always also enter into their
                consciousness representations of deeds which they themselves have carried out
                in a similar instance, or have seen carried out. These representations hover
                before them as determining models for all later decisions; they become united
                with their characterological disposition. We could call this driving force of
                the will, practical experience. Practical experience gradually merges into
                purely tactful conduct. This happens when definite typical pictures of
                actions have become so firmly connected in our consciousness with
                representations of certain situations in life that in any given case we skip
                over all deliberation based on experience and pass over directly from
                perception into willing.
                The highest level of individual life is that of conceptual thinking without
                reference to a definite perceptual content. We determine the content of a
                concept through pure intuition from the ideal sphere. Such a concept contains
                no reference to definite perceptions at first. If we pass over into willing
                under the influence of a concept pointing to a perception, that is, a
                representation, then it is this perception which determines us indirectly via
                the conceptual thinking. When we act under the influence of intuitions, then
                the driving force of our deed is pure thinking. Since in philosophy it is
                customary to call the faculty of pure thinking, reason, it would be
                justifiable to call the moral driving force characteristic of this level,
                practical reason. The clearest account of this driving force of the will has
                been given by Kreyenbuhl. (Philosophische Monatshefte, Vol. XVIII, No. 3). I
                count his article on this subject among the most important contributions to
                present-day philosophy, particularly to ethics. Kreyenbuhl characterizes this
                driving force as practical apriori, that is, an impulse to action springing
                directly from my intuition.
                It is clear that in the strictest sense of the word, such an impulse can no
                longer be considered as belonging to the characterological disposition. For
                here what acts as driving force is no longer something merely individual in
                me, but is the ideal and therefore the universal content of my intuition. As
                soon as I see the justification for making this content the foundation and
                starting-point of an action, I pass over into willing, irrespective of
                whether I had the concept already, or whether it enters my consciousness only
                immediately before acting, that is, irrespective of whether or not it was alr
                eady present in me as disposition.
                An action is a real act of will only when a momentary impulse of action, in
                the form of a concept or representation, influences the characterological
                disposition. Such an impulse then becomes the motive of will.
                Motives of morality are representations and concepts. There are philosophers
                of ethics who also see in feeling a motive for morality; they maintain, for
                example, that the aim of moral conduct is the furtherance of the greatest
                possible quantity of pleasure in the individual who acts. But in itself a
                pleasure cannot be a motive; only a represented pleasure can. The
                representation of a future feeling, but not the feeling itself, can influence
                my characterological disposition. For in the moment of acting the feeling
                itself is not yet there; moreover it is to be produced by the action.
                The representation of one's own or someone else's welfare, however, is
                rightly regarded as a motive of will. The principle: through one's deed to
                bring about the greatest amount of pleasure for oneself, that is, to attain
                personal advantage, is egoism. It is striven for either by ruthlessly
                considering only one's own welfare, even at the cost of the happiness of
                others (pure egoism), or by furthering the welfare of others because
                indirectly one expects a favorable influence upon one's own self through the
                happiness of others, or because one fears to endanger one's own interest by
                injuring others (morality of prudence). The particular content of egoistical
                principles of morality will depend upon what representations a person has of
                his own or of another's happiness. A person will determine the content of his
                egoistical striving according to what he considers to be the good things in
                life (luxury, hope of happiness, deliverance from various misfortunes, etc.).
                Another motive is the purely conceptual content of actions. This content does
                not refer to a particular action only, as in the case of the representation
                of one's own pleasures, but to the reason for an action derived from a system
                of moral principles. In the form of abstract concepts these moral principles
                may govern moral life without the single individual troubling himself about
                the origin of the concepts. In that case, we simply feel the subjection to
                the moral concept which, like a command, overshadows our deeds as a moral
                necessity. The reason for this necessity we leave to those who demand our
                moral subjection, that is, to the moral authority we acknowledge (the head of
                the family, the state, social custom, the authority of the church, divine
                revelation). A particular instance of these moral principles is when the
                command announces itself to us, not through an external authority, but
                through our own inner being (moral autonomy). In this case, within ourselves
                we sense the voice to which we have to submit. This voice finds expression in
                It means moral progress when man does not simply take the command of an outer
                or inner authority as motive for his action, but strives to recognize the
                reason why a particular principle of conduct should act as motive in him.
                This is the advance from morality based on authority, to conduct based on
                moral insight. At this level of morality the person will consider the needs
                of moral life and will let this knowledge determine his actions. Such needs
                are: 1) the greatest possible welfare of humanity, purely for its own sake;
                2) the progress of culture, or the moral development of mankind to ever
                greater perfection; 3) the realization of individual aims of morality, which
                are grasped purely intuitively.
                The greatest possible welfare of humanity will naturally be understood
                differently by different people. The above principle does not refer to a
                definite representation of this welfare, but to the fact that each person who
                acknowledges this principle strives to do what in his opinion best furthers
                the welfare of humanity.
                The progress of culture is seen as a special instance of the above-mentioned
                moral principle by those who connect feelings of pleasure with the advantages
                of culture, but they will have to accept into the bargain the decline and
                destruction of much that also contributes to the welfare of mankind. However,
                it is also possible that in the progress of culture someone sees a moral
                necessity, quite apart from the feeling of pleasure connected with it. Then
                for him, the progress of culture is a particular moral principle, distinct
                from the one mentioned previously.
                The principle of the general welfare, as well as that of the progress of
                culture, is based upon a representation, that is, upon how one relates the
                content of moral ideas to certain experiences (perceptions). But the highest
                thinkable principle of morality is one which contains no such relation from
                the start, but springs from the source of pure intuition and only afterward
                seeks the relation to perceptions (to life). Here the decision as to what is
                to be willed proceeds from a different sphere than that of the previous
                examples. In all his conduct, one in favor of the principle of the general
                welfare will first ask what his ideals will contribute to this general
                welfare. He who acknowledges the moral principle of the progress of culture,
                will do the same. But at this level he could do something even higher: if in
                a particular case he were not to proceed from one single definite aim of
                morality, but were to recognize a certain value in all principles of morality
                and were always to ask whether the one or the other would be more important
                here. It may happen that in certain circumstances one considers the progress
                of culture, in others, the general welfare, and in yet others, the
                furtherance of his own welfare, to be the right aim and motive of his
                actions. But when all such reasons take second place, then first and foremost
                the conceptual intuition itself comes into consideration. When this happens,
                then all other motives retreat from the leading position and the idea-content
                of the action alone is effective as its motive.
                Among the levels of characterological disposition, we have shown the one
                which acts as pure thinking, as practical reason, to be the highest. From the
                motives, we have now shown conceptual intuition to be the highest. On closer
                consideration, it will soon be seen that at this level of morality driving
                force and motive coincide, that is, neither a predetermined characterological
                disposition nor an external moral principle accepted on authority, influences
                our conduct. The deed therefore is neither a conventional one, carried out
                according to some rule or other, nor one automatically performed in response
                to an external impulse; rather it is one which is determined solely through
                its ideal content.
                Such conduct presupposes the capacity for moral intuition. Whoever lacks the
                ability to experience the moral principle that applies in a particular
                instance, will never achieve truly individual willing.
                The exact opposite to this moral principle is the Kantian: Act so that the
                principles of your actions can be valid for all men. This principle is death
                to all individual impulses of action. How all men would act cannot be a
                standard for me, but rather what is right for me to do in the particular
                To this, a superficial judgment could perhaps object: How can an action be
                individually adapted to the particular instance and the particular situation,
                and yet at the same time be determined purely ideally by intuition? This
                objection is due to a confusion of the moral motive and the perceptible
                content of the action. The perceptible content could be a motive, and is one,
                for example, when an act is done for the progress of culture or out of pure
                egoism, etc., but it is not the motive when the reason for action is a pure
                moral intuition. My I naturally takes notice of this perceptual content, but
                is not determined by it. This content is used only to form a cognitive
                concept, but the moral concept that belongs to it, the I does not take from
                the object. The cognitive concept of a given situation confronting me is also
                a moral concept only if I base my view on a particular moral principle. If my
                viewpoint is limited to the general moral principle of the progress of
                culture, then I go through life along a fixed route. From every event I
                perceive which can occupy me, a moral duty also springs, namely, to do my
                best toward placing the particular event in the service of the progress of
                culture. In addition to the concept which reveals to me the natural law
                inherent in an event or object, there is also a moral label attached to it
                which contains for me, as a moral being, an ethical direction as to how I am
                to behave. This moral label is justified at a certain level, but at a higher
                level it coincides with the idea that arises in me when I face the concrete
                Men differ greatly in their capacity for intuition. In one person ideas
                bubble up easily, while another person has to acquire them with much labor.
                The situation in which men live, which is the scene of their actions, is no
                less different. How a man acts will therefore depend on the way his capacity
                for intuition functions in the face of a given situation. The sum of ideas
                active within us, the actual content of our intuitions, is what, for all the
                universality of the idea-world, is individually constituted in each human
                being. Insofar as this intuitive content is directed toward action, it is the
                moral content of the individual. To let this content come to expression is
                the highest moral driving force and also the highest motive for the one who
                has recognized that ultimately all other moral principles unite in this
                content. This standpoint can be called ethical individualism.
                The discovery of the quite individual intuition which corresponds to the
                situation, is the deciding factor in an intuitively determined action. At
                this level of morality one can speak only of general concepts of morality
                (norms, laws) insofar as these result from the generalization of individual
                impulses. General norms always presuppose concrete facts from which they can
                be derived. But facts must first be produced by human deeds.
                When we look for the laws (concepts) underlying the conduct of individuals,
                peoples and epochs, we obtain a system of ethics, not as a science of moral
                rules, but as a natural philosophy of morality. It is true that laws obtained
                in this way are related to human conduct, as the laws of nature are related
                to a particular phenomenon. But they are not at all identical with the
                impulses upon which we base our conduct. If one wants to grasp the means by
                which man's action springs from his moral will, then one must first consider
                the relation of this will to the action. One must first select actions where
                this relation is the determining factor. If I, or someone else, reflect on
                such an action later, then can be discovered upon what principle of morality
                the action is based. While I am acting I am moved to act by the moral
                principle insofar as it lives in me intuitively; the moral principle is
                united with my love for what I want to accomplish by my deed. I ask no man
                and no code, Shall I do this? -rather I do it the moment I have grasped the
                idea of it. This alone makes it my action. The deeds of a person who acts
                solely because he acknowledges a definite moral standard, come about as a
                result of a principle which is part of his moral code. He is merely the
                agent. He is a higher kind of automaton. If some impulse to action enters his
                consciousness, then at once the clockwork of his moral principle will be set
                in motion and run to rule, in order to bring about a deed which is Christian,
                or humane, or is deemed unselfish, or to further the progress of culture.
                Only when I follow my love for the object is it I myself who acts. At this
                level of morality I do not act because I acknowledge a ruler over me, an
                external authority, or a so-called inner voice. I do not acknowledge any
                external principle for my conduct, because I have found the source of my
                conduct within myself, namely, my love for the deed. I do not prove
                intellectually whether my deed is good or bad; I do it out of my love for it.
                My action will be "good" if my intuition, immersed in love, exists in the
                right way within the relationship between things; this can be experienced
                intuitively; the action will be "bad" if this is not the case. Nor do I ask
                myself: How would another person act in my place? -rather I act, as I, as
                this particular individuality, find my will motivated to act. I am not guided
                directly by what happens to be the usual thing, the general habit, some
                general human code or moral standard, but solely by my love for this deed. I
                feel no compulsion-neither the compulsion of nature which rules me through my
                instincts, nor the compulsion of moral commands. Rather, I simply carry out
                what lies within me.
                Those who defend general moral standards will perhaps object: If each person
                strives to express and do only what he pleases, then there is no difference
                between a good deed and a crime; every depraved impulse in me has the same
                right to express itself as has the intention to do my best. The fact that I
                have a deed in mind, according to an idea, cannot set my standard as a moral
                human being, but only the test as to whether it is a good or evil deed. Only
                if it is good should I carry it out.
                My reply to this obvious objection, which nonetheless is based on a
                misunderstanding of what is meant here, is this: One who wants to understand
                the nature of human will must differentiate between the path which brings
                this will to a certain degree of development, and the unique character which
                the will assumes as it approaches its goal. On the way toward this goal
                standards do play their justified part. The goal consists in the realization
                of aims of morality, grasped purely intuitively. Man attains such aims to the
                degree that he is at all able to raise himself to the intuitive idea-content
                of the world. In particular instances such aims are usually mixed with other
                elements, either as driving force or as motive. Nevertheless, in the human
                will intuition can be the determining factor, wholly or in part. A person
                does what he ought to do, he provides the stage upon which "ought" becomes
                deed; it is absolutely his own deed which he brings to expression. The
                impulse here can only be completely individual. And, in fact, only an act of
                will which springs from intuition can be individual. To call the acts of
                criminals and what is evil an expression of the individuality, in the same
                sense as the embodiment of pure intuition, is only possible if blind urges
                are reckoned as part of the human individuality. But the blind urge which
                drives a person to crime does not spring from intuition and does not belong
                to what is individual in man, but rather to what is most general in him, to
                what is equally valid in all men, and out of which man works his way by means
                of what is individual in him. What is individual in me is not my organism
                with its urges and feelings, but rather the universal world of ideas which
                lights up within this organism. My urges, instincts, passions confirm nothing
                more than that I belong to the general species, man; the fact that something
                ideal comes to expression in a particular way within these urges, passions
                and feelings, confirms my individuality. Through my instincts and urges I am
                a person of whom there are twelve to the dozen; through the particular form
                of the idea, by means of which I name myself "I" within the dozen, I am an
                individual. Only a being other than myself could distinguish me from others
                by the difference in my animal nature; through my thinking, that is, through
                the active grasp of what expresses itself as an ideal within my organism, do
                I distinguish myself from others. Therefore one definitely cannot say that
                the action of a criminal springs from the idea in him. Indeed, this is just
                what is characteristic of a criminal deed: it stems from elements in man
                which are external to the ideal-element in him.
                An action is felt to be free insofar as the reason for it springs from the
                ideal part of my individual being; any other part of an action, irrespective
                of whether it is carried out under the compulsion of nature or under the
                obligation of a moral code, is felt to be unfree.
                Man is free insofar as he is able, in every moment of his life, to follow
                himself. A moral deed is my deed only if it can be called free in this sense.
                What here have to be considered are the presuppositions necessary for a
                willed action to be felt as free; how this purely ethically grasped idea of
                freedom realizes itself in human nature, will be seen in what follows.
                A deed done out of freedom does not at all exclude, but includes moral laws,
                but it will be a deed done from a higher sphere compared with those dictated
                solely by such laws. Why should my deed serve the general welfare any less
                when it is done out of love, than when I do it solely for the reason that I
                feel that to serve the general welfare is a duty? The concept of mere duty
                excludes freedom because it does not include what is individual, but demands
                subjection of the individual to a general standard. Freedom of action is
                thinkable only from the standpoint of ethical individualism.
                But how is it possible for people to live in a community if each person
                strives to assert only his own individuality? This objection is
                characteristic of misunderstood moralism. A person holding this viewpoint
                believes that a community of people is possible only if all men are united by
                general fixed moral rules. He simply does not understand the oneness and
                harmony of the idea-world. He does not realize that the idea-world which is
                active in me is none other than the one active in my fellow-man. This unity
                of ideas is indeed nothing but a result of men's experience of life. Only
                this can it be. For if the unity of the idea-world could be recognized by any
                means other than by individual observation, then general rules and not
                personal experience would be valid in its sphere. Individuality is possible
                only when each individual is acquainted with others through individual
                observation alone. The difference between me and my fellow men is not at all
                because we live in two quite different spiritual worlds, but because from the
                world of ideas which we share, he receives different intuitions from mine. He
                wants to live out his intuitions, I mine. If we both really draw from the
                idea, and are not obeying any external impulses (physical or spiritual), then
                we cannot but meet in the same striving, in having the same intentions. A
                moral misunderstanding, a clash between men who are morally free, is out of
                the question. Only the morally unfree who follow natural instincts or some
                accepted command of duty, turn away from a fellow-man if he does not follow
                the same instinct and the same command as themselves. To live in love of the
                action and to let live, having understanding for the other person's will, is
                the fundamental principle of free human beings. They know no other "ought"
                than that with which their will is intuitively in accord; how they shall will
                in a particular instance, their power of ideation will tell them.
                If human nature were not fundamentally social, no external laws could make it
                so! Only because individual human beings are one in the spiritual part of
                their being, can they live out their lives side by side. The free man is
                confident that others who are free belong to the same spiritual world as he
                does, and that they will meet him in their intentions. The free man does not
                demand agreement from his fellow men, but he expects it, because it lies in
                human nature. This does not refer to the existing necessity for this or that
                external arrangement, but rather to the disposition, the attitude of soul
                through which man, in his experience of himself among fellow men for whom he
                cares, comes nearest to doing justice to human dignity.
                There are many who will say that the concept of a free human being outlined
                here is a chimera, is nowhere to be found as a reality, and that we have to
                deal with real people from whom one can hope for morality only when they obey
                some moral law, when they regard their moral mission as a duty. and do not
                freely follow their inclinations and preferences. -I certainly do not doubt
                this. Only a blind man could do so. But then, away with all hypocrisy of
                morality if this is to be the ultimate conclusion. Then simply say: Human
                nature must be compelled as long as it is not free. Whether the unfreedom is
                dealt with by physical means or through moral laws, whether man is unfree
                because he follows his immeasurable sexual instinct, or because he is hemmed
                in by the fetters of conventional morality, is quite immaterial from a
                certain point of view. But one should not maintain that such a man can
                rightly call his actions his own, for he is driven to them by external
                powers. But there are human beings who raise themselves above all these
                compelling rules, free spirits who find their own self in the jumble of
                habits, regulations, religious observance, etc. They are free insofar as they
                follow only themselves; unfree insofar as they submit themselves. Which of us
                can say that he is really free in all that he does? But in each of us exists
                a higher being in whom the free man comes to expression.
                Our life is composed of free and unfree deeds. But we cannot complete the
                concept of man without including the free spirit as the purest characteristic
                of human nature. After all, we are truly human only insofar as we are free.
                That is an ideal, many will say. Without doubt -but it is an ideal which
                works itself to the surface from within our nature as a reality. It is no
                "thought out" or imagined ideal, but one in which there is life, one which
                clearly announces its presence even in its least perfect form of existence.
                If man were merely a product of nature, the search for ideals, that is, for
                ideas which for the moment are inactive but whose realization we demand,
                would not be possible. In the case of external objects the idea is determined
                by the perception. We have done our share when we have recognized the
                connection between idea and perception. But with man this is not so. His
                content is not determined without him; his true concept as a moral being
                (free spirit) is not objectively united with the perceptual picture "man"
                from the start merely in order to be confirmed by knowledge later. By his own
                activity man must unite his concept with the perception, man. Concept and
                perception only coincide here if man himself brings it about. But he cannot
                do this till he has found the concept of the free spirit, that is, his own
                concept. In the objective world a line of division is drawn by our
                organization between perception and concept; cognition overcomes this
                division. In our subjective nature this division is no less present; man
                overcomes it in the course of his development by bringing his concept to
                expression in his outward existence. Both man's intellectual as well as his
                moral life point to his twofold nature: perceiving (direct experience) and
                thinking. In the intellectual life the two-foldness is overcome through
                knowledge; in the moral life through actually bringing the free spirit to
                realization. Every being has its inborn concept (the law of its existence and
                activity), but in external objects the concept is indivisibly connected with
                the perception and separated from it only within our spiritual organism. In
                man concept and perception are to begin with, actually apart, to be united by
                him just as actually. One could object: To our perception of a man a definite
                concept corresponds at every moment of his life, just as is the case with
                everything else. I can form a concept of a typical man, and I may also find
                such a man given to me as a perception. If to this I also bring the concept
                of the free spirit, then I have two concepts for the same object.
                This line of thought is one-sided. As perceptual object I am subjected to
                perpetual change. As a child I was one thing, another as a youth, yet another
                as a man. In fact, at every moment the perceptual picture of myself is
                different from what it was a moment ago. These changes may take place in such
                a way that either it is always the same (the typical) man who expresses
                himself in them, or they become the expression of the free spirit. The
                perceptual object of my action is subjected to these changes.
                In the perceptual object "man" the possibility of transformation is given,
                just as in the plant-seed there lies the possibility of becoming a fully
                developed plant. The plant transforms itself because of the objective laws
                which are inherent in it; man remains in his imperfect state unless he takes
                hold of the substance to be transformed within him and transforms it through
                his own power. Nature makes man merely into a product of nature; society
                makes him into a being who acts rationally, but he alone can make himself
                into a free being. At a definite stage in his development nature releases man
                from its fetters; society carries his development a stage further; the final
                polish he can only apply himself.
                Therefore, from the standpoint of free morality it is not asserted that as
                free spirit is the only form in which a man can exist. Free spirituality is
                the ultimate stage of man's development. And it is not denied that conduct
                according to rules has its justification as a stage of development. However,
                this cannot be acknowledged as the highest level of morality. But the free
                spirit in man overcomes rules in the sense that he does not accept only
                commands as motives, but also regulates his conduct in accordance with his
                impulses (intuitions).
                When Kant says of duty: "Duty! You sublime, you great name, you encompass
                nothing beloved or endearing, but you demand submission," you "lay down a law
                . . . before which all inclinations become silent, even if in secret they
                also go against it," then man, conscious of the free spirit, answers:
                "Freedom! You friendly, humane name, you encompass all that is morally
                beloved, all that is most worthy of my humanity, you make me no one's
                servant, you do not merely lay down a law, but wait for what my moral love
                will of itself recognize as law, because it feels unfree when faced with any
                law simply forced upon it.
                This is the contrast between mere law-abiding morality and morality born of
                The philistine who sees morality embodied in some external rule, may perhaps
                even regard the free spirit as a dangerous person. But this is simply because
                his view is limited to a certain period of time. If he were able to see
                beyond this, he would soon find that the free spirit need go beyond the laws
                of his state as seldom as the philistine himself, and is never in any real
                opposition to them. For all the laws of the state have sprung from the
                intuitions of free spirits, just as have all other objective laws of
                morality. No law is exercised through a family authority which was not at
                some time intuitively grasped and laid down by an ancestor. Similarly the
                conventional laws of morality were first laid down by definite people and so
                too the laws of the state first arise in the head of a statesman. These
                individualities have established laws over other people, and only he is
                unfree who forgets this origin and either looks upon these laws as
                extra-human commands, that is, as objective moral concepts of duty
                independent of man, or turns them into the commanding voice thought of-in a
                falsely mystical way -as compelling him in his own inner being. However, he
                who does not forget the origin of such laws, but looks for it in man, will
                reckon with them as belonging to the same idea-world as that from which he
                too draws his moral intuitions. If he believes his own intuitions to be
                better, then he will try to replace those in existence with his own; but if
                he finds the existing ones justified, he will act in accordance with them as
                if they were his own.
                The formula must not be coined: Man is meant to realize a moral world order
                which exists independent of him. Insofar as knowledge of man is concerned,
                one maintaining this stands at the point where natural science stood when it
                believed that the goat has horns in order to be able to butt. Fortunately
                natural scientists have rejected such a concept of purpose as a dead theory.
                It is more difficult to get rid of such theories in ethics. However, just as
                horns do not exist because of butting, but butting exists through horns, so
                man does not exist because of morality, but morality exists through man. The
                free human being acts morally because he has a moral idea, but he does not
                act in order that morality may come about. Human individuals, with the moral
                ideas belonging to their nature, are the presupposition for a moral
                The human individual is the source of all morality and the center of earthly
                life. State and society have come about only because they are the necessary
                results of life shared by individual human beings. That state and society
                should react in turn upon the life of the individual is understandable, just
                as it is understandable that butting, which exists through the horns, reacts
                in turn upon the further development of the goat's horns, which would waste
                away by prolonged disuse. Similarly, the individual would waste away if he
                led a separate existence outside a human community. This is just why the
                social order arises, so that it can react favorably upon the individual.
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