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Ch. 8, Philosophy of Spiritual Activity

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  • 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 1 of 6 , Jan 1, 2002
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      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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