Johann Gottfried Herder 1772
Source: Herder. Philosophical Writings, ed., Michael N. Forster, publ. CUP;
About half of the essay is excerpted below, also omitting copious editorial notes.
I do not want to pursue the hypothesis of the divine origin of language any further on a metaphysical basis, for its groundlessness is clear psychologically from the fact that in order to understand the language of the gods on Olympus the human being must already have reason and consequently must already have language. Still less can I indulge in a pleasant detailing of the animal languages, for, as we have seen, it turns out that they all stand completely and incommensurably apart from human language. What I renounce least happily here are the many sorts of prospects which would lead from this point of the genesis of language in the human soul into the broad fields of Logic, Aesthetics, and Psychology, especially concerning the question, How far can one think without language, what must one think with language?, a question which subsequently spreads itself in its applications over almost all the sciences. Let it suffice here to note that language is the real differentia of our species from without, as reason is from within.
In more than one language word and reason, concept and word, language and originating cause [Ursache], consequently also share one name, and this synonymy contains its whole genetic origin. With the Easterners it became the most everyday idiom to call the acknowledgment of a thing name-giving, for in the bottom of the soul both actions are one. They call the human being the speaking animal, and the nonrational animals the dumb – the expression characterizes them sensuously, and the Greek word alogos comprises both things. In this way language becomes a natural organ of the understanding, a sense of the human soul, just as the force of vision of that sensitive soul of the ancients builds for itself the eve, and the instinct of the bee builds for itself its cell.
[It is] excellent that this new, self-made sense belonging to the mind is immediately in its origin a means of connection in its turn. I cannot think the first human thought, cannot set up the first aware judgment in a sequence, without engaging in dialogue, or striving to engage in dialogue, in my soul. Hence the first human thought by its very nature prepares one to be able to engage in dialogue with others! The first characteristic mark that I grasp is a characteristic word for me and a communication word for others!
– Sic verba, quibus voces sensusque notarent
Nominaque invenere – Horace
The focal point at which Prometheus’s heavenly spark catches fire in the human soul has been determined. With the first characteristic mark language arose. But which were the first characteristic marks to serve as elements of language,
Cheselden’s blind man shows how slowly sight develops; with what difficulty the soul arrives at the concepts of space, shape, and color; how many attempts must be made, how much geometry must be acquired, in order to use these characteristic marks distinctly. This was not therefore the most suitable sense for language. In addition, its phenomena were so cold and dumb, and the sensations of the cruder senses in their turn so indistinct and mixed up, that according to all nature either nothing or the ear became the first teacher of language.
There, for example, is the sheep. As an image it hovers before the eye with all objects, images, and colors on a single great nature picture. How much to distinguish, and with what effort! All characteristic marks are finely interwoven, beside each other – all still inexpressible! Who can speak shapes? Who can sound colors? He takes the sheep under his groping hand. Feeling is surer and fuller – but so full, so obscurely mixed up. Who can say what he feels? But listen! The sheep bleats! There a characteristic mark of itself tears itself free from the canvas of the color picture in which so little could be distinguished – has penetrated deeply and distinctly into the soul. “Aha!” says the learning child-without-any-say, like that formerly blind man of Cheselden’s, “Now I will know you again. You bleat!” The turtle-dove coos! The dog barks! There are three words, because he tried out three distinct ideas – these ideas for his logic, those words for his vocabulary! Reason and language took a timid step together, and nature came to meet them half-way through hearing. Nature sounded the characteristic mark not only forth but deep into the soul! It rang out! The soul laid hold – and there it has a resounding word!
The human being is therefore, as a listening, noting creature, naturally formed for language, and even a blind and dumb man, one sees, would inevitably invent language, if only he is not without feeling and deaf Put him comfortably and contentedly on a lonely island; nature will reveal itself to him through his ear, a thousand creatures which he cannot see will nonetheless seem to speak with him, and even if his mouth and his eye remained forever closed, his soul does not remain entirely without language. When the leaves of the tree rustle down coolness for the poor lonely one, when the stream that murmurs past rocks him to sleep, and the west wind whistling in fans his cheeks – the bleating sheep gives him milk, the trickling spring water, the rustling tree fruit – interest enough to know these beneficent beings, urgent cause enough, without eyes and tongue, to name them in his soul. The tree will be called the rustler, the west wind the whistler, the spring the trickler. A small vocabulary lies ready there, and awaits the speech organs’ minting. How impoverished and strange, though, would have to be the representations which this mutilated person associates with such sounds!
Now set all of the human being’s senses free, let him simultaneously see and touch and feel all the beings which speak into his ear. Heaven! What a classroom of ideas and language! Bring no Mercury or Apollo down from the clouds as operatic dei ex machina; all of many-sounded, divine nature is language mistress and Muse! There she leads all creatures past him; each bears its name on its tongue, and names itself to this enshrouded, visible god! as his vassal and servant. It delivers unto him its characteristic word into the book of his governance like a tribute, that he may remember it by this name, call it in future, and enjoy it. I ask whether this truth – “Precisely the understanding, through which the human being rules over nature, was the father of a living language, which it abstracted for itself from the sounds of resounding beings as characteristic marks for distinguishing!” whether this dry truth can ever be expressed more nobly and beautifully in an Eastern way than [in the words]: “God led the animals to him that he might see how he should name them! And however he would name them, thus were they to be called!” Where can it be said more definitely in an Eastern, poetic way: the human being invented language for himself! – from the sounds of living nature! – to be characteristic marks of his governing understanding! And that is what I prove.
If an angel or heavenly spirit had invented language, how could it be otherwise than that language’s whole structure would have to be an offprint of this spirit’s manner of thought, For by what else could I recognize a picture that an angel had painted than by the angelic quality, the supernatural quality of its traits?, But where does that happen in the case of our language? Structure and layout, yes, even the first foundation stone of this palace, betrays humanity!
In what language are heavenly, spiritual concepts the first ones? Those concepts which would also have to be the first according to the order of our thinking spirit – subjects, notiones communes, the seeds of our cognition, the points about which everything turns and [to which] every thing leads back – are these living points not elements of language? After all, the subjects would naturally have to have come before the predicate, and the simplest subjects before the compound ones, that which does and acts before what it does, the essential and certain before the uncertain contingent ... Yes, what all could one not infer, and – in our original languages the clear opposite happens throughout. A hearing, listening creature is recognizable but no heavenly spirit, for resounding verbs are the first ruling elements. Resounding verbs? Actions, and still nothing which acts there? Predicates, and still no subject, The heavenly genius may need to be ashamed of that, but not the sensuous, human creature, for what moved the latter – as we have seen – more deeply than these resounding actions? And hence what else is language’s whole manner of construction than a mode of development of this creature’s spirit, a history of its discoveries? The divine origin explains nothing and lets nothing be explained from it, it is, as Bacon says of another subject, a holy Vestal Virgin -consecrated to God but barren, pious but useless!
The first vocabulary was therefore collected from the sounds of the whole world. From each resounding being its name rang out, the human soul impressed its image on them, thought of them as characteristic signs, How could it be otherwise than that these resounding interjections became the first? And so it is that, for example, the Eastern languages are full of verbs as basic roots of language. The thought of the thing itself still hovered between the agent and the action. The sound had to designate the thing, just as the thing gave the sound. Hence from the verbs arose nouns, and not from the nouns verbs. The child names the sheep not as a sheep but as a bleating creature, and hence makes the interjection into a verb. This matter becomes explicable in the context of the steps of development of human sensuality, but not in the context of the logic of the higher spirit.
All old, savage languages are full of this origin, and in a “philosophical dictionary of the Easterners” each stem-word with its family, properly presented and soundly developed, would be a map of the course of the human spirit, a history of its development, and a whole such dictionary would be the most excellent proof of the human soul’s art of invention. But also of God’s linguistic and pedagogical method? I doubt it!
Since the whole of nature resounds, there is nothing more natural for a sensuous human being than that it lives, it speaks, it acts. That savage saw the high tree with its splendid crown and admired. The crown rustled! That is the work of divinity! The savage falls down and prays to it! Behold there the history of the sensuous human being, the obscure link, how nouns arise from the verbs – and the easiest step to abstraction! With the savages of North America, for example, everything is still alive: each thing has its genius, its spirit. And that it was just the same with the Greeks and the Easterners is shown by their oldest vocabulary and grammar they are, as the whole of nature was to the inventor, a pantheon!, a realm of living, acting beings!
But because the human being related everything to himself, because everything seemed to speak with him, and really acted for or against him, because he consequently took sides with or against it, loved or hated it, and imagined everything to be human, all these traces of humanity impressed themselves into the first names as well! They too expressed love or hate, curse or blessing, softness or opposition, and especially there arose from this feeling in so many languages the articles! Here everything became human, personified into woman or man – everywhere gods; goddesses; acting, wicked or good, beings!; the roaring storm and the sweet zephyr; the clear spring and the mighty ocean – their whole mythology lies in the mines, the verbs and nouns, of the ancient languages, and the oldest vocabulary was as much a resounding pantheon, a meeting hall of both genders, as nature was to the senses of the first inventor. Here the language of those ancient savages is a study in the strayings of human imagination and passions , like their mythology. Each family of words is an overgrown bush around a sensuous main idea, around a holy, oak on which there are Still traces of the impression that the inventor had of this Dryad The feelings are woven together for him; what moves lives; what resounds speaks – and since it resounds for You or against you, it is friend or enemy; god or goddess; it acts from passions, like You!
A human, sensuous creature is what I love when I reflect on this manner of thought: I see everywhere the weak and timid sensitive person who must love or hate, trust or fear, and would like to spread these sensations from his own breast over all beings. I see everywhere the weak and yet mighty creature which needs the whole universe and entangles everything into war or peace with itself, which depends on everything and yet rules over everything. – The poetry and the gender-creation of language are hence humanity’s interest, and the genitals of speech, so to speak, the means of its reproduction. But now, if a higher genius brought language down out of the stars, how is this?, Did this genius out of the stars become entangled on our earth under the moon in such passions of love and weakness, of hate and fear, that he wove everything into liking and hate, that he marked all words with fear and joy, that he, finally, constructed everything on the basis of gender pairings? Did he see and feel as a human being sees, so that the nouns had to pair off into genders and articles for him, so that he put the verbs together in the active and the passive, accorded them so many legitimate and illegitimate children – in short, so that he constructed the whole language on the basis of the feeling of human weaknesses? Did he see and feel in this way?
To a defender of the supernatural origin [of language] it is divine ordering of language “that most stem-words have one syllable, verbs are mostly of two syllables, and hence language is arranged in accordance with the measure of memory.” The fact is inexact and the inference unsure. In the remains of the language which is accepted as being most ancient the roots are all verbs of two syllables, which fact, now, I can explain very well from what I said above, whereas the opposite hypothesis finds no support. These verbs, namely, are immediately built on the sounds and interjections of resounding nature – which often still resound in them, and are here and there even still preserved in them as interjections; but for the most part, as semi-unarticulated sounds, they were inevitably lost when the language developed. Hence in the Eastern languages these first attempts of the stammering tongue are absent; but the fact that they. are absent, and that only their regular remains resound in the verbs, precisely this testifies to the originality and ... the humanity of language. Are these stems treasures and abstractions from God’s understanding, or rather the first sounds of the listening ear, the first noises of the stammering tongue? For of course the human species in its childhood formed for itself precisely the language which a child-without-any-say stammers; it is the babbling vocabulary of the wet-nurse’s quarters – but where does that remain in the mouths of adults?
The thing that so many ancients say , and so many moderns have repeated without sense, wins from this its sensuous life, namely “that poetry was older than prose!” For what was this first language but a collection of elements of poetry? Imitation of resounding, acting, stirring nature! Taken from the interjections of all beings and enlivened by the interjection of human sensation! The natural language of all creatures poetized by the understanding into sounds, into images of action, of passion, and of living effect! A vocabulary of the soul which is simultaneously a mythology and a wonderful epic of the actions and speakings of all beings! Hence a constant poetic creation of fable with passion and interest! What else is poetry?
In addition. The tradition of antiquity says: the first language of the human species was song. And many good, musical people have believed that human beings could well have learned this song from the birds. That is, it must be admitted, a lot to swallow! A great, heavy clock with all its sharp wheels and newly stretched springs and hundredweight weights can to be sure produce a carillon of tones. But to set forth the newly created human being, with his driving motives, with his needs, with his strong sensations, with his almost blindly preoccupied attention, and finally with his primitive throat, so that he might ape the nightingale, and from the nightingale sing himself a language, is – however many histories of music and poetry it may be asserted in – unintelligible to me. To be sure, a language through musical tones would be possible (however Leibniz arrived at this idea!). But for the first natural human beings this language was not possible, so artificial and fine is it. In the chain of beings each thing has its voice and a language in accordance with its voice. The language of love is sweet song in the nest of the nightingale, as it is roaring in the cave of the lion; in the deer’s forest it is troating lust, and in the cat’s den a caterwaul. Each species speaks its own language of love, not for the human being but for itself, and for itself as pleasantly as Petrarch’s song to his Laura! Hence as little as the nightingale sings in order to sing as an example for human beings, the way people imagine, just as little will the human being ever want to invent language for himself by trilling in imitation of the nightingale. And then really, what sort of monster is this: a human nightingale in a cave or in the game forest.
So if the first human language was song, it was song which was as natural to the human being, as appropriate to his organs and natural drives, as the nightingale’s song was natural to the nightingale, a creature which is, so to speak, a hovering lung – and that was ... precisely our resounding language. Condillac, Rousseau, and others were half on the right track here in that they derive the meter and song of the oldest languages from the cry of sensation -and without doubt sensation did indeed enliven the first sounds and elevate them. But since from the mere sounds of sensation human language could never have arisen, though this song certainly was such a language, something more is still needed in order to produce this song – and that was precisely the naming of each creature in accordance with its own language. So there sang and resounded the whole of nature as an example, and the human being’s song was a concerto of all these voices, to the extent that his understanding needed them, his sensation grasped them, his organs were able to express them. Song was born, but neither a nightingale’s song nor Leibniz’s musical language nor a mere animals’ cry of sensation: an expression of the language of all creatures within the natural scale of the human voice!
Even when language later became more regular, monotonous, and regimented [gereiht], it still remained a species of song, as the accents of so many savages bear witness; and that the oldest poetry and music arose from this song, subsequently made nobler and finer, has now already been proved by more than one person. The philosophical Englishman who in our century tackled this origin of poetry and music could have got furthest if he had not excluded the spirit of language from his investigation and had aimed less at his system of confining poetry and music to a single point of unification – in which neither of them can show itself in its true light – than at the origination of both from the whole nature of the human being. In general, because the best pieces of ancient poetry are remains from these language-singing times, the misconceptions, misappropriations, and misguided errors of taste that have been spelled forth from the course of the most ancient poems, of the Greek tragedies, and of the Greek orations are quite countless. How much could still be said here by a philosopher who had learned among the savages, where this age still lives, the tone in which to read these pieces! Otherwise, and usually, people only ever see the weave of the back of the carpet!, disjecti membra poetae! But I would lose myself in an immeasurable field if I were to go into individual observations about language – so back to the first path of the invention of language!
How words arose from sounds minted into characteristic marks by the understanding was very intelligible, but not all objects make sounds. Whence, then, characteristic words for these [other] objects for the soul to name them with, Whence the human being’s art of turning something that is not noise into noise., What does color, roundness have in common with the name which arises from it just as the name ‘bleating’ arises from the sheep ? The defenders of the supernatural origin [of language] immediately have a solution here: “[This happens] by arbitrary volition! Who can comprehend, and investigate in God’s understanding, why green is called ‘green’ and not ‘blue’? Clearly, that is the way he wanted it!” And thus the thread [of inquiry] is cut off! All philosophy about the art of inventing language thus hovers arbitrarily-voluntarily in the clouds, and for us each word is a qualitas occulta, something arbitrarily willed! Only it may not be taken ill that in this case I do not understand the term ‘arbitrarily willed.? To invent a language out of one’s brain by arbitrary volition and without any ground of choice is, at least for a human soul, which Wants to have a ground, even if only a single ground, for everything, as much a torture as it is for the body to have itself tickled to death. Moreover, in the case of a primitive, sensuous natural human being whose forces are not yet fine enough to play aiming at what is useless, who, in his lack of practice and his strength, does nothing without a pressing cause, and wants to do nothing in vain, the invention of a language out of insipid, empty arbitrary volition is opposed to the whole analogy of his nature.
And in general, it is opposed to the whole analogy of all human forces of soul, a language thought out from pure arbitrary volition.
So, to the matter. How was the human being, left to his own forces, also able even to invent for himself.
How are sight and hearing, color and word, scent and sound, connected Not among themselves in the objects. But what, then, are these properties in the objects? They are merely sensuous sensations in us, and as such do they not all flow into one, We are a single thinking sensorium commune, only touched from various sides. There lies the explanation.
Feeling forms the basis of all the senses, and this already gives to the most diverse sensations such an inward, strong, inexpressible bond that the strangest phenomena arise from this connection. I am familiar with more than one example in which people, perhaps due to an impression from childhood, by nature could not but through a sudden onset immediately associate with this sound that color, with this phenomenon that quite different, obscure feeling, which in the light of leisurely reason’s comparison has no relation with it at all – for who can compare sound and color, phenomenon and feeling? We are full of such connections of the most different senses, only we do not notice them except in onsets which make us beside ourselves, in sicknesses of the imagination, or on occasions when they become unusually noticeable. The normal course of our thoughts proceeds so quickly, the waves of our sensations rush so obscurely into each other, there is so much in our soul at once, that in regard to most ideas we are as though asleep by a spring where to be sure we still hear the rush of each wave, but so obscurely that in the end sleep takes away from us all noticeable feeling. If it were possible for us to arrest the chain of our thoughts and look at each link for its connection, what strange phenomena!, what foreign analogies among the most different senses – in accordance with which, however, the soul habitually acts! In the eyes of a merely rational being, we would all be similar to that type of madmen who think cleverly but combine very unintelligibly and foolishly!
In the case of sensuous creatures who have sensation through many different senses simultaneously this collecting together of ideas is unavoidable, for what are all the senses but mere modes of representation of a single positive force of the soul? We distinguish them, but once again only through senses; hence modes of representation through modes of representation. With much effort we learn to separate them in use – but in a certain basis they still function together. All dissections of sensation in the case of Buffon’s, Condillac’s, and Bonnet’s sensing human being are abstractions; the philosopher has to neglect one thread of sensation in pursuing the other, but in nature all these threads are a single web! Now, the more obscure the senses are, the more they flow into each other; and the more untrained they are, the less a person has yet learned to use one without the other, to use it with skill and distinctness, then the more obscure they are! – Let us apply this to the beginning of language! The childhood and inexperience of the human species made language easier!
The human being stepped into the world. What an ocean immediately fell upon him! With what difficulty did he learn to distinguish!, to recognize senses!, to use recognized senses alone! Vision is the coldest sense , and if it had always been as cold, as remote, as distinct as it has become for us through an effort and training lasting many years, then indeed I would not see how one can make audible what one sees. But nature has taken care of this and has shortened the path, for even this vision was, as children and formerly blind people testify, to begin with only feeling. Most visible things move, many make a sound when they move, and where not, then they, so to speak, lie closer to the eve in its initial condition, immediately upon it, and can hence be felt. Feeling lies so close to hearing; I its descriptive terms, for example, hart, rauh, weich, wollig, sammt, haarig, starr, glatt, schlicht, borstig, etc., which of course all concern only surfaces and do not even penetrate deeply, all make a sound as though one felt the thing. The soul, which stood in the throng of such a confluence of sensations, and in need of forming a word, reached out and got hold perhaps of the word of a neighboring sense whose feeling flowed together with this one. In this way words arose for all the senses, and even for the coldest of them. Lightning does not make a noise, but if it is to be expressed, this messenger of midnight!,
That, in a spleen, unfolds both hem en and earth,
And ere a man hath power to say , “Behold!”
The jaws of darkness do devour it up.
then naturally this will be done by a word which through the help of an intermediary feeling gives the ear the sensation of what is most suddenly quick which the eye had: Blitz! The words Duft, Ton, suss, bitter, sauer, etc. all make a sound as though one felt – for what else are all the senses originally but feeling? But how feeling can express itself in sound – this we have already in the first section accepted as an immediate natural law of the sensing machine which we may explain no further!
And hence all the difficulties lead back to the following two proven, distinct propositions: 1) Since all the senses are nothing but modes of representation belonging to the soul, let the soul only have distinct representation, and consequently a characteristic mark, and with the characteristic mark it has inner language.
2) Since all the senses, especially in the condition of human childhood, are nothing but ways of feeling belonging to a soul, but all feeling according to a law of sensation pertaining to animal nature immediately has its sound, let this feeling only be elevated to the distinctness of a characteristic mark, then the word for external language is present. Here we come to a mass of special observations concerning “how nature’s wisdom has thoroughly organized the human being so that he might invent language for himself.” Here is the main observation:
“Since the human being only receives the language of teaching nature through the sense of hearing, and without this cannot invent language, hearing in a certain way became the middle one of his senses, the actual door to the soul, and the bond connecting the other senses.” I want to explain myself!
1) Hearing is the middle one of the human senses in regard to sphere of sensitivity from outside. Feeling senses everything only in itself and in its organ; vision throws us far outside ourselves; hearing stands in its degree of communicativity in the middle. What does that do for language. Suppose a creature, even a rational creature, for whom feeling were the main sense (if this is possible!). How small its world is! And since it does not sense this through hearing, it will no doubt perhaps like the insect construct a web for itself, but it will not construct for itself a language through sounds! Again, a creature that is all eye. How inexhaustible the world of its visual observations is! How immeasurably far it is thrown outside itself! Dispersed into what infinite manifoldness! Its spoken language (we have no idea of it!) would become a sort of infinitely fine pantomime, its writing an algebra by means of colors and strokes – but resounding language never! We creatures who hear stand in the middle: we see, we feel, but seen, felt nature resounds! It becomes a teacher of language through sounds! We become, so to speak, hearing through all our senses!
Let us feel the comfortableness of our position – through it each sense becomes capable of language. To be sure, only hearing actually gives sounds, and the human being cannot invent but only find, only imitate. But on the one side feeling lies next door, and on the other side vision is the neighboring sense. The sensations unite together and hence all approach the region where characteristic marks turn into sounds. In this way, what one sees, what one feels, becomes soundable as well. The sense for language has become our middle and unifying sense; we are linguistic creatures.
2) Hearing is the middle one among the senses in respect of distinctness and clarity, and hence again the sense for language. How obscure is feeling! It gets stunned [übertaübt]! It senses everything mixed up. There it is difficult to separate off a characteristic mark for acknowledgment; it proves inexpressible!
Again, vision is so bright and blinding [überglanzend], it supplies such a mass of characteristic marks, that the soul succumbs under the manifoldness, and can for example separate one of them off only so weakly that recognition by means of it becomes weak. Hearing is in the middle. It leaves aside all feeling’s mixed-up, obscure characteristic marks. All vision’s excessively fine characteristic marks as well! But does a sound tear itself free there from the felt, observed object? Into this sound the characteristic marks of those two senses gather themselves – this becomes a characteristic word! So hearing reaches out on both sides; it makes clear what was too obscure, it makes pleasanter what was too bright, it introduces more unity into the obscure manifold of feeling, and also into the excessively bright manifold of vision; and since this acknowledgment of the manifold through one, through a characteristic mark, becomes language, hearing is language.
3) Hearing is the middle sense with respect to liveliness and hence the sense for language. Feeling overpowers [überwältigt]; vision is too cold and indifferent. The former penetrates too deeply into us to be able to become language; the latter remains too much at rest before us. Hearing’s sound penetrates so intimately into our souls that it inevitably becomes a characteristic mark, but still not so stunningly [übertäubend] that it could not become a clear characteristic mark. That is the sense for language.
How brief, tiring, and unbearable the language of any cruder sense would be for us! How confusing and mind-emptying the language of excessively fine vision! Who can always taste, feel, and smell without soon, as Pope says, dying an aromatic death? And who always attentively gape at a color-piano without soon going blind? But we can for longer and almost for ever hear, think words with hearing, so to speak; hearing is for the soul what green, the middle color, is for sight. The human being is formed to be a linguistic creature.
4) Hearing is the middle sense in relation to the time in which it operates, and hence the sense for language. Feeling casts everything into us at once, it stirs our strings strongly but briefly and in jumps. Vision presents everything to us at once, and hence intimidates the pupil through the immeasurable canvas of its side-by-side. Behold how [nature] the teacher of language spares us through hearing! She counts sounds into our souls only one after another, gives and never tires, gives and always has more to give. She thus practices the whole knack of method: she teaches progressiively! Who in these circumstances could not grasp language, invent language for himself?
5) Hearing is the middle sense in relation to the need to express oneself, and hence the sense for language. Feeling operates too obscurely to be expressed; but so much the less may it be expressed – it concerns our self so much!, it is so selfish and self-engrossed! Vision is inexpressible for the inventor of language; but why does it need to be expressed immediately? The objects remain! They can be shown by means of gestures! But the objects of hearing are bound up with movement; they proceed past; but precisely thereby they also resound. They become expressible because they must be expressed, and through the fact that they must be expressed, through their movement, do they become expressible. What an ability for language!
6) Hearing is the middle sense in relation to its development, and hence the sense for language. The human being is feeling through and through: the embryo in its first moment of life feels as does the infant; that is the natural stem out of which the more delicate branches of sensuality grow , and the tangled ball out of which all finer forces of the soul unfold. How do these unfold? As we have seen, through hearing, since nature awakens the soul to its first distinct sensation through sounds. Hence, so to speak, awakens it out of the obscure sleep of feeling and ripens it to still finer sensuality. If, for example, vision was already there unfolded before hearing, or if it were possible that it should be awakened out of feeling otherwise than through the middle sense of hearing -what wise poverty!, . what clairvoyant stupidity! How difficult it would become for such a creature – all eye!, when it should instead be a human being – to name what it saw!, to unite cold vision with warmer feeling, with the whole stem of humanity! However, the very governing assumption [Instanz] turns out to be self-contradictory; the way to the unfolding of human nature – is better and single! Since all the senses function cooperatively, through the sense of hearing we are, so to speak, always in nature’s school, learning to abstract and simultaneously to speak; vision refines itself with reason reason and the talent of referring. And so when the human being comes to the most subtle characterization of visual phenomena – what a store of language and linguistic similarities already lies ready! He took the path from feeling into the sense of his visual images [Phantasmen] no otherwise than via the sense of language, and has hence learned to sound forth what he sees as much as what he felt.
If I could now bring all the ends together here and make visible simultaneously that web called human nature: through and through a web for language. For this, we saw, were space and sphere granted to this positive force of thought; for this were its content and matter measured out; for this were shape and form created; finally, for this were the senses organized and ordered – for language! This is why the human being does not think more clearly or more obscurely; this is why he does not see and feel more sharply, at greater length, more vividly; this is why he has these senses, not more and not different ones – everything counterbalances!, is spared and substituted for!, is disposed and distributed intentionally! – unity and connection!, proportion and order!, a whole!, a system!, a creature of awareness and language, of taking-awareness and creating language! If someone after all [our] observations still wanted to deny this destiny [of the human being] as a linguistic creature, he would have to begin by turning from being nature’s observer into being its destroyer! He would have to tear apart all the indicated harmonies into discords, strike the whole magnificent structure of human forces into ruins, lay waste its sensuality, and in place of nature’s masterpiece feel a creature full of shortcomings and gaps, full of weaknesses and convulsions! And if then now, on the other hand, “language also precisely is as it had to become according to the basic outline and momentum of the preceding creature?”
I shall proceed to the proof of this latter position, although a very pleasant stroll would still lie before me here calculating in accordance with the rules of Sulzer’s theory of pleasure “what sorts of advantages and comforts a language through hearing might have for us over the language of other senses.” That stroll would lead too far, though; and one must forgo it when the main road still stretches far ahead in need of securing and rectifying. – So, first of all:
I. “The older and more original languages are, the more noticeable becomes this analogy of the senses in their roots!”
Although in later languages we characterize anger in its roots as a phenomenon of the visible face or as an abstraction – for example, through the flashing of the eyes, the glowing of the cheeks, etc. – and hence only see it or think it, the Easterner hears it! He hears it snort!, hears it spray burning smoke and storming sparks! That became the stem"? of the word; the nose the seat of anger; the whole family of anger words and anger metaphors snort their origin.
If for us life expresses itself through the pulse, through undulation and fine characteristic marks, in language too, it revealed itself to the Easterner respiring aloud – the human being lived when he breathed, died when he breathed out his last, and one hears the root of the word breathe like the first living Adam.
If we characterize giving birth in our way, the Easterner hears even in the names for it the cry of the mother’s fear, or in the case of animals the shaking out of an afterbirth. This is the central idea around which his images revolve!
If we in the word dawn [Morgenröte] obscurely hear such things as the beauty, the shining, the freshness, the enduring nomad in the Orient feels even in the root of the word the first, rapid, delightful ray of light which one of us has perhaps never seen, or at least never felt with the sense of feeling. – The examples from ancient and savage languages of how heartily and with what strong sensation they, characterize on the basis of hearing and feeling become countless, and “a work of this sort that really sought out the basic feeling of such ideas in various peoples” would be a complete demonstration of my thesis and of the human invention of language.
II. “The older and more original languages are, the more feelings also intersect in the roots of the words.”
Let one open any available Eastern dictionary and one will see the impetus of the desire to achieve self-expression! How the inventor tore ideas out of one type of feeling and borrowed them for another!; how he borrowed most in the case of the heaviest, coldest, distinctest senses!; how everything had to become feeling and sound in order to become expression! Hence the strong, bold metaphors in the roots of the words! Hence the metaphorical transferences from one type of feeling to another, so that the meanings of a stem-word, and still more those of its derivatives, set in contrast with one another, turn into the most motley picture. The genetic cause lies in the poverty, of the human soul and in the confluence of the sensations of a primitive human being. One sees his need to express himself so distinctly; one sees it to an ever greater extent the further away in sensation the idea lay from feeling and sound – so that one may no longer doubt the human character of the origin of language. For how do the champions of another origination claim to explain this interweaving of ideas in the roots of words ? ? M as God so poor in ideas and words that he had to resort to such confusing word usage’. Or was he such a lover of hyperboles, of outlandish metaphors, that he imprinted this spirit into the very basic-roots of his language?
The so-called divine language, the Hebrew language, is entirely imprinted with these examples of daring, so that the Orient even has the honor of designating them with its name. Only, let this spirit of metaphor please not, though, be called ‘Asiatic’ as if it were not to be found anywhere else! It lives in all savage languages – only, to be sure, in each one in proportion to the nation’s level of civilization [Bildung] and in accordance with the peculiar character of the nation’s manner of thought. A people which did not distinguish its feelings much and did not distinguish them sharply, a people which did not have enough heart to express itself and to steal expressions mightily, will also be less at a loss because of nuances in feeling, or will make do with slothful semi-expressions. A fiery nation reveals its courage in such metaphors, whether it lives in the Orient or in North America. But the nation which in its deepest ground reveals the most such transplantations has the language which was the poorest, the oldest, the most original ahead of others, and this nation was certainly in the Orient.
One sees how difficult “a true etymological dictionary” must be in the case of such a language. The so very diverse meanings of a root which are supposed to be deduced and traced back to their origin in a genealogical chart are only related through such obscure feelings, through fleeting side ideas, through coinciding sensations [Mitempfindungen], which rise up from the bottom of the soul and can be but little grasped in rules! Moreover, their relationships are so national, so much according to the peculiar manner of thinking and seeing of that people, of that inventor, in that land, in that time, in those circumstances, that they are infinitely difficult for a Northerner and Westerner to get right, and must suffer infinitely in long, cold paraphrases. Moreover, since they were forced into existence by necessity, and were invented in affect, in feeling, in the need for expression – what a stroke of fortune is necessary to hit on the same feeling! And finally, since in a dictionary of this kind the words and the meanings of a word are supposed to be gathered together from such diverse times, occasions, and manners of thinking, and these momentary determinations hence increase in number ad infinitum, how the labor multiplies here!, what insightfulness [is necessary] to penetrate into these circumstances and needs, and what moderation to keep within reasonable bounds in this in one’s interpretations of various times!, what knowledge and flexibility of soul is required to give oneself so completely this primitive wit, this bold imagination, this national feeling of foreign times, and not ,6 to modernize it according to ours! But precisely thereby there would also “be borne a torch not merely into the history, manner of thinking, and literature of the land, but quite generally into the obscure region of the human soul, where concepts intersect and get entangled!, where the most diverse feelings produce one another, where a pressing occasion summons forth all the forces of the soul and reveals the whole art of invention of which the soul is capable.” Every step in such a work would be discovery! And every new observation would be the fullest proof of the human character of the origin of language.
Schultens has earned himself renown in the development of several such origins of the Hebrew language. Each of these developments is a proof of my rule. But for many reasons I do not believe that the origins of the first human language, even if it were the Hebrew language, can ever be developed fully.
I infer a further remark which is too universal and important to be omitted. The basis of the bold verbal metaphors lay in the first invention. But what is going on when late afterwards, when all need has already disappeared, such species of words and images remain out of mere addiction to imitation or love for antiquity? And even get extended and elevated further, Then, oh then, it turns into the sublime nonsense, the turgid wordplay which in the beginning it actually was not. In the beginning it was bold, manly wit which perhaps meant to play least at the times when it seemed to play most! It was primitive sublimity of imagination that worked out such a feeling in such a word. But now in the hands of insipid imitators, without such a feeling, without such an occasion ... ah!, ampullae of words without spirit! And that has “been the fate in later times of all those languages whose first forms were so bold.” The later French poets cannot stray in peaks because the first inventors of their language did not stray in peaks; their whole language is sound reason’s prose and originally has virtually no poetic word that might belong to the poet. But the Easterners? The Greeks? The English? And we Germans?
From this it follows that the older a language is, the more such bits of boldness there are in its roots, if it has lived for a long time, has developed for a long time, then so much the less must one automatically head for every original bit of boldness as though every one of these intersecting concepts had also on every occasion in every late use been thought of as a component. The original metaphor was [a result of] the impulse to speak. If later, in every case when the word had already gained currency and had worn down its sharpness, it is taken to be fruitfulness and energy to combine all such peculiarities – what miserable examples abound before us in whole schools of the Eastern languages!
One more thing, If, pushing things further, certain fine concepts of a dogma, of a system, adhere to, or get fixed to, or are supposed to be investigated from, such bold word struggles, such transpositions of feelings into an expression, such intersections of ideas without rule or plumb-line heaven!, how little were these word experiments of an emerging or early emerged language the definitions of a system, and how often people end up creating word idols of which the inventor or later usage had no thought! But such remarks would go on for ever. I proceed to a new canon:
III. “The more original a language is, the more frequently such feelings intersect in it, then the less these can be exactly and logically subordinated to each other. The language is rich in synonyms; for all its essential poverty it has the greatest unnecessary excess.”
The defenders of the divine origin, who know how to find divine order in everything, can hardly find it here, and deny the synonyms. Deny them? Fine then, let it be the case that among the 50 words that the Arab has for the lion, among the 200 that he has for the snake, among the So that he has for honey, and among the more than 1,000 that he has for the sword fine distinctions are present, or would have been present but have been lost. Why were they there if they were bound to be lost? Why did God invent an unnecessary vocabulary which, as the Arabs say, only a divine prophet was able to grasp in its entire scope? Did He invent for the emptiness of oblivion, Comparatively speaking, though, these words are still synonyms, considering the many other ideas for which words are quite lacking. Now let someone, then, unfold divine order in the fact that He who enjoyed oversight of the plan of language invented 70 words for the stone, and none for all the so essential ideas, Inner feelings, and abstractions, that He in the former case smothered with unnecessary excess, but in the latter case abandoned in the greatest poverty, so that people had to steal, to usurp metaphors, to talk semi-nonsense, etc.
Humanly, the matter explains itself As improperly as difficult, rare ideas had to be expressed could the available and easy ideas be expressed frequently. The less familiar one was with nature, the more sides one could look at it from and hardly recognize it because of inexperience, the less one invented a priori but in accordance with sensuous circumstances, then the more synonyms! The more people invented, the more nomadic and separated they were when they invented, and yet for the most part invented only in a single circle for a single kind of things, then, when they afterwards came together, when their languages flowed into an ocean of vocabulary, the more synonyms! They could not be thrown away , all of them. For which should be thrown away? They were current with this tribe, with this family, with this poet. And so it became, as that Arab dictionary writer said when he had counted up 400 words for misery, the four hundredth misery to have to count up the words for misery. Such a language is rich because it is poor, because its inventors did not yet have enough of a plan to become poor. And that futile inventor of precisely the most imperfect language would be God?
The analogies of all savage languages confirm my thesis: each of them is in its way prodigal and needy – only each in its own manner. If the Arab has so many words for stone, camel, sword, snake (things among which he lives!), then the language of Ceylon is, in accordance with its people’s inclinations, rich in flatteries, titles, and verbal ornamentation. For the word ‘woman’ it has twelve sorts of names according to class and rank, whereas we impolite Germans, for example, have to borrow in this area from our neighbors. Thou and you are articulated in eight sorts of ways according to class and rank, and this as much by the daylaborer as by the courtier. This jumble is the form of the language. In Si am there are eight ways of saying I and we, depending on whether the lord is speaking with the slave or the slave with the lord. The language of the savage Caribs is almost divided into two languages belonging to the women and the men, and the most common things – bed, moon, sun, bow – the two sexes name differently. What an excess of synonyms! And yet precisely these Caribs have only four words for the colors, to which they must refer all others. What poverty! The Hurons have in each case a double verb for something that has a soul and something that lacks a soul, so that seeing in ‘seeing a stone’ and seeing in ‘seeing a human being’ are always two different expressions. Let one pursue that principle through the whole of nature. What a richness! ‘To use one’s own property’ or ‘the property of the person with whom one is speaking’ always has two different words. What a richness! In the main language of Peru the genders are named in such a peculiarly distinct way that the sister of a brother and the sister of a sister, the child of a father and the child of a mother, are called something quite different. And yet precisely this language has no real plural! -Each of these cases of synonymy is so interconnected with the custom, character, and origin of the people – but everywhere the inventing human spirit reveals its stamp. – A new canon:
IV “Just as the human soul can recollect no abstraction from the realm of spirits that it did not arrive at through occasions and awakenings of the senses, likewise also no language has an abstractum that it did not arrive at through sound and feeling. And the more original the language, then the fewer abstractions, the more feelings.” In this immeasurable field I can again only pick flowers:
The whole construction of the Eastern languages bears witness that all their abstracta were previously sensualities: Spirit was wind, breath, nocturnal storm! Holy meant separate, alone. Soul meant breath. Anger meant the snorting of the nose. Etc. The more universal concepts were hence only accreted to language"? later through abstraction, wit, imagination, simile, analogy, etc. – in the deepest abyss of language there lies not a single one of them!"’
With all savages the same thing happens, according to the level of the culture. In the language of Barantola the word holy, and with the Hottentots the word spirit, could not be found. All missionaries in all parts of the world complain about the difficulty of communicating Christian concepts to savages in their own languages, and yet of course these communications are never supposed to be a scholastic dogmatics but only the common concepts of the common understanding. If one reads here and there samples of this presentation among the savages, or even only among the uncivilized languages of Europe, for example the Lapp, Finnish, or Estonian languages, in translation and looks at the grammars and dictionaries of these peoples, the difficulties become obvious.
If one is not willing to believe the missionaries, then let one read the philosophers: de la Condamine in Peru and on the Amazon river, Maupertius in Lapland, etc. Time, duration, space, essence, matter, body, virtue, justice, freedom, gratitude do not exist in the tongue of the Peruvians, even though they often show with their reason that they, infer in accordance with these concepts, and show with their deeds that they have these virtues. As long as they have not made the idea clear to themselves as a characteristic mark, they have no word for it.
“Where, therefore, such words have entered the language, one clearly recognizes in them their origin.” The church language of the Russian nation is for the most part Greek. The Christian concepts of the Latvians are German words or German concepts transposed into Latvian. The Mexican who wants to express his poor sinner paints him as someone kneeling who is making auricular confession, and his triunity as three faces with halos. It is known by what routes most abstractions have entered “into our scientific language,” into theology and law, into philosophy and other subjects. It is known how often scholastics and polemicists could not even fight with words of their own language and hence had to import arms (hypostasis and substance, homoousios and homoiousios) from those languages in which the concepts were abstracted, in which the arms were whetted! Our whole psychology, as refined and precise as it is, has no word of its own.
This is so true that it is not even possible for mystic fanatics and the enraptured to characterize their new secrets from nature, from heaven and hell, otherwise than through images and sensuous representations. Swedenborg could not do otherwise than intuit-together his angels and spirits out of all the senses, and the sublime Klopstock – the greatest antithesis to him! -could not do otherwise than construct his heaven and hell from sensuous materials. The Negro intuits his gods down from the treetops for himself, and the Chinghailese hears his devil into existence for himself from the noise of the forests. I have crept in pursuit of several of these abstractions among various peoples, in various languages, and have perceived “the strangest tricks of invention of the human spirit.” The subject is much too large, but the basis is always the same. “When the savage thinks that this thing has a spirit, then there must be a sensuous thing present from which he abstracts the spirit for himself.” Only the abstraction has its very diverse species, levels, and methods. – The easiest example of the fact that no nation has in its language more or other words than it has learned to abstract is those doubtless very easy abstractions, the numbers. How few do most savages have, however rich, excellent, and developed their languages may be! Never more than they needed. The trading Phoenician was the first to invent arithmetic; the shepherd who counts his flock also learns to count; the hunting nations, which never have work involving large numbers, only know to describe an army as like hairs on a head! Who can count them? Who, if he has never counted up so high, has words for this?
Is it possible to disregard all these traces of the changing, language-creating mind, and to seek an origin in the clouds? What sort of proof does anyone have of a “single word which only God could have invented?” Does there exist in any, language even a single pure universal concept which came to man from heaven? Where is it even merely possible? “And what 100,000 grounds and analogies and proofs there are of the genesis of language in the human soul in accordance with the human senses and manners of seeing! What proofs there are of the progress of language with reason, and of its development out of reason, among all peoples, latitudes, and circumstances!” What ear is there that does not hear this universal voice of the nations?
And yet I see with astonishment that Mr. Süßmilch again confronts me and on the path where I discover the most human order imaginable finds divine order.” “That no language has at present yet been discovered which was entirely unsuited to arts and sciences” – what else does that show, then, than that no language is brutish, that they are all human? Where, then, has anyone discovered a human being who was entirely unsuited to arts and sciences? And was that a miracle? Or not precisely the most common thing, because he was a human being? “All missionaries have been able to talk with the most savage peoples and to convince them. That could not have happened without inferences and grounds. Their languages therefore must have contained abstract terms, etc.” And if that was so, was it divine order, Or was it not precisely the most human thing, to abstract words for oneself where one needed them? And what people has ever had even a single abstraction in its language which it did not acquire for itself ? And then, were there an equal number in the case of all peoples? Were the missionaries able to express themselves equally easily everywhere, or has one not read the opposite from all parts of the world? And how, then, did they express themselves but by molding their new concepts onto the language according to analogy with it? And did this everywhere happen in the same manner- About the fact so much, so much could be said! The inference says entirely the opposite: “Precisely because human reason cannot exist without abstraction, and each abstraction does not come to be without language, it must also be the case that in every people language contains abstractions, that is, is an offprint of reason, of which it was a tool.” “But as each language contains only as many abstractions as the people was able to make, and not a single one that was made without the senses, as is shown by its originally sensuous expression, it follows that divine order is nowhere to be seen except insofar as language is through and through human.”
V. Finally, “since every grammar is only a philosophy about language and a method for language’s use, the more original the language, the less grammar there must be in it, and the oldest language is just the previously indicated vocabulary of nature!” I shall sketch a few amplifications.
1) Declensions and conjugations are nothing but abbreviations and determinations of the use of nouns and verbs according to number, tense
and mood, and person. Hence, the more primitive a language is, the more irregular it is in these determinations, and it shows in each step forward the course of human reason. Initially, in the absence of art in use, language is mere vocabulary.
2) Just as the verbs of a language are earlier than the nouns roundly abstracted from them, likewise also at the beginning, the less people have learned to subordinate concepts to one another, the more conjugations there are. How many the Easterners have! And yet there are really none – for what transplantations and violent transpositions of verbs from conjugation into conjugation still occur! The matter is quite natural. Since nothing concerns the human being as much, or at least touches him as much linguistically, as what he is supposed to narrate, deeds, actions, events, it is inevitable that such a mass of deeds and events accumulates originally that there comes to be a new verb for almost every condition. “In the Huron language everything gets conjugated. An art that cannot be explained allows the nouns, pronouns, and adverbs to be distinguished in it from the verbs. The simple verbs have a double conjugation, one for themselves and one which refers to other things. The forms of the third person have both genders. Concerning tenses, one finds the fine distinctions which one observes, for example, in Greek; indeed, if one wants to give the account of a journey, one expresses oneself differently depending on whether one has made it by land or by water. The active forms multiply as many times as there are things that fall under the action; the word ‘eat’ changes with every edible thing. The action of an ensouled thing is expressed differently from that of a thing without a soul. To use one’s own property and that of the person with whom one is speaking has two forms of expression. Etc.” Let one imagine all this multiplicity of verbs’ moods, tenses, persons, conditions, genders, etc. – what effort and art [it would take] to set this in hierarchical order to some extent! To turn what was entirely vocabulary into grammar to some extent! Father Leri’s grammar of the Topinambuans in Brazil shows exactly the same thing! For “just as the first vocabulary of the human soul was a living epic of resounding, acting nature, so the first grammar was virtually nothing but a philosophical attempt to turn this epic into more regular history.” It therefore works itself to exhaustion with very verbs, and works in a chaos which is inexhaustible for the art of poetry, when more ordered very rich for the determining of history, but last of all usable for axioms and demonstrations.
3) The word which immediately followed the sound of nature, imitating it, already followed something past: “past tenses are hence the roots of verbs, but past tenses which still almost hold for the present.” A priori the fact is strange and inexplicable, since the present time ought to be the first, as indeed it has come to be in all languages were formed later. But according to the history of the invention of language it could not have been otherwise. “One shows the present, but one has to narrate what is past.” And since one could narrate what was past in so many ways, and to begin with, in the need to find words, had to do this so diversely, there arose “in all ancient languages many past tenses but only one or no present tense.” In more civilized [gebildeteren] ages, now, the art of poetry and history inevitably found much to rejoice at in this, but philosophy very little, because philosophy does not like a confusing stock. – Here Hurons, Brazilians, Easterners, and Greeks are again alike: everywhere traces of the course of the human spirit!
4) All modern philosophical languages have modified the noun more finely, the verb less but more regularly. For language grew more “for cold observation of what exists and what existed rather than still remaining an irregularly stammering mixture of what perhaps existed.” People got used to expressing the former one thing after another, and hence to determining it through numbers and articles and cases, etc. “The ancient inventors wanted to say everything at once, not merely what had been done but who had done it, when, how, and where it had happened. So they, immediately introduced into nouns the condition; into each person of the verb the gender; they immediately distinguished through preformatives and adformatives, through affixes and suffixes; verb and adverb, verb and noun, and everything flowed together.” The later, the more distinguishing and counting out took place; breaths turned into articles, word endings [Ansätzen] turned into persons, word beginnings [Vorsätzen] turned into moods or adverbs; the parts of speech flowed apart; now grammar gradually came into being. Thus this art of speaking, this philosophy about language, was only formed [gebildet] slowly and step by step, down through centuries and ages, and the first mind who contemplates “a true philosophy of grammar, the art of speaking!” must certainly first have thought over “the history of the same down through peoples and levels.” But if we only had such a history! With all its progressions and deviations it would be a map of the humanity of language.
5) But how was it possible for a language to exist entirely without grammar? A mere confluence of images and sensations without interconnection and determination? Both were provided for; it was living language. There the great attuning participation of gestures so to speak set the rhythm and the sphere to which what was said belonged; and the great wealth of determinations which lay in the vocabulary itself substituted for the art of grammar. Observe the old writing of the Mexicans! They paint sheer individual images; where no image enters the senses, they have agreed on strokes and the interconnection for everything must be given by the world, to which it belongs, from which it gets prophesied. This “prophetic art of guessing interconnection from individual signs” – how far only individual dumb and deaf people can still exercise it! And if this art itself belongs to the language as a part of it, itself gets learned from childhood on as a part of it, if this art becomes ever easier and more perfect with the tradition [Tradition] of generations, then I see nothing unintelligible [in it]. – But the more this art is made easier, then the more it diminishes, the more grammar comes into being – and that is the progressive course of the human spirit!
Proofs of this are, for example, La Loubere’s reports about the Siamese language. How similar it still is to the interconnection of [the language of] the Easterners -especially before more interconnection yet entered through later cultivation [Bildung]. The Siamese wants to say “If I were in Siam, then I would be happy!” and says “If I being city Siam, I happy heart much!” He wants to pray the Lord’s Prayer and has to say “Father us being heaven! God’s name wanting hallowing everywhere, etc.” How Eastern and original that is! just as interconnecting as a Mexican image-writing!, or the stammerings of those who are ineducable in foreign languages!
6) I must explain here one further strange phenomenon which I again see misunderstood in Mr. Süßmilch’s divine ordering, “namely, the diversity of the meanings of a word according to the difference between minor articulations!” I find this knack among almost all savages – as, for example, Garcilaso de la Vega cites it of the Peruvians, Condamine of the Brazilians, La Loubere of the Siamese, Resnel of the North Americans. I find it likewise in the case of the ancient languages, for example, the Chinese language and the Eastern languages, especially Hebrew, where a minor sound, accent, breath changes the whole meaning. And yet, I find in it nothing but a very human thing: poverty and comfort of the inventors! They needed a new word, and since unnecessary invention out of nothing is so difficult, they took a similar word with the alteration of perhaps only a single breath. That was a law of economy, initially very natural for them with their interwoven feelings and still fairly comfortable for them with their more forceful pronunciation of words. But for a foreigner, who has not habituated his ear to this from childhood, and to whom the language is now hissed forth with phlegm, the sound half remaining in the mouth, this law of economy and neediness makes speech inaudible and inexpressible. The more a sound grammar has imported domestic management into languages, the less necessary this parsimony becomes. So [it is] precisely the opposite of an indication of divine invention – in which case the inventor would certainly have been very inept at coping if he had to resort to such a thing.
7) Finally, the progress of language through reason and of reason through language becomes most obvious “when language has already taken a few steps, when pieces of art already exist in it, for example, poems, when writing I is invented, when one genre of writing develops after the other.” Then no step can be taken, no new word invented, no new happy form given currency in which there is not an offprint of the human soul. Then through poems meters, choice of the strongest words and colors, and ordering and zest in images enter language; then through history distinction between tenses and precision of expression enter language; then, finally, through the orators the full rounding-out of the refined sentence enters language. Now just as before each such addition nothing of the sort yet existed in the language, but everything was introduced by the human soul and could be introduced by the human soul, where would one want to set limits to this creativity, this fruitfulness? Where would one want to say “Here the human soul began to operate, but not earlier"? If the human soul was able to invent what is finest, what is most difficult, then why not what is easiest? If it was able to institute, why not to experiment, why not to begin? For after all, what else was the beginning but the production of a single word as a sign of reason? And this the soul had to do, blindly and dumbly in its depths, as truly as it possessed reason.
I am vain enough to suppose that the possibility of the human invention of language is so proven by what I have said, from within in terms of the human soul, and from without in terms of the organization of the human being and in terms of the analogy of all languages and peoples, partly in the components of all speech, partly in the whole great progress of language with reason, that whoever does not deny reason to the human being, or what amounts to the same, whoever merely knows what reason is, whoever in addition has ever concerned himself with the elements of language in a philosophical way, whoever moreover has taken into consideration with the eye of an observer the constitution and history of the languages on the earth, cannot doubt for a single moment, even if I were to add not one word more. [The case for] the genesis [of language] in the human soul is as demonstrative as any philosophical proof, and the external analogy of all times, languages, and peoples [possesses] as high a degree of probability as is possible in the most certain historical matter. However, in order to forestall all objections for good, and also to make the thesis as externally certain as a philosophical truth can be, so to speak, let us in addition prove from all external circumstances and from the whole analogy of human nature “that the human being had to invent his language for himself, and under which circumstances he was able to invent it for himself most suitably.”
Nature gives no forces in vain. So when nature not only gave the human being abilities to invent language, but also made this ability the distinguishing trait of his essence and the impulse behind his special direction [in life], this force came from nature’s hand no otherwise than living, and hence it could not but be set in a sphere is-here it had to be effective. Let us consider more closely a few of these circumstances and concerns which
straightaway occasioned the human being to develop language when he entered the world with the immediate disposition to form language for himself And since there are many, of these concerns, I collect them under certain main laws of the human being’s nature and of his species:
“The human being is a freely thinking, active being, whose forces operate forth progressively. Therefore let him be a creature of language!”
Considered as a naked, instinctless animal, the human being is the most miserable of beings. Here there is no obscure, innate drive which pulls him into his element and into his circle of efficacy, , to his means of subsistence and to his work. No sense of smell or power to scent which pulls him towards plants so that he may sate his hunger! No blind, mechanical master craftsman who would build his nest for him! Weak and succumbing, abandoned to the contention of the elements, to hunger, to all dangers, to the claws of all stronger animals, to a thousandfold death, he stands there!, lonely and alone!, without the immediate instruction of his creatress [nature] and without the sure guidance of her hand – thus, lost on all sides.
But as vividly as this picture may be painted out, it is not the picture of the human being – it is only a single side of his surface, and even that stands in a false light. If understanding and awareness [Besonnenheit] is the natural gift of his kind, this had to express itself immediately when the weaker sensuality and all the poverty of his lacks expressed itself. The instinctless, miserable creature which came from nature’s hands so abandoned was also from the first moment on the freely active, rational creature which was destined to help itself, and inevitably had the ability to do so. All his shortcomings and needs as an animal were pressing reasons to prove himself with all his forces as a human being – just as these human forces were not, say, merely weak compensations for the greater animal perfections denied to him, as our modern philosophy, the great patroness of animals!, claims, but were, without comparison or actual balancing of one against another, his nature. His center of gravity [Schwerpunkt], the main direction of his soul’s efficacies, fell as much on this understanding, on human awareness [Besonnenheit], as with the bee it falls immediately on sucking and building.
If now it has been proved that not even the slightest action of his understanding could occur without a characteristic word, then the first moment of taking-awareness [Besinnung] was also the moment for the inward emergence of language.
Let one allow the human being as much time as one wants for this first distinct taking-awareness [Besinnung]. Let one – in the manner of Buffon (only more philosophically than he) – make this creature that has come into being achieve conscious control gradually. But let one not forget that immediately from the very first moment on it is no animal but a human being, to be sure not yet a creature which takes awareness [von Besinnung] but one which already has awareness [von Besonnenheit], that awakens into the universe. Not as a great, clumsy, helpless machine which is supposed to move, but with its stiff limbs cannot move; which is supposed to see, hear, taste, but with thick fluids in its eye, with a hardened ear, and with a petrified tongue, can do none of this -people who raise doubts of this sort really ought to keep in mind that this human being did not come from Plato’s cave, from a dark jail where, from the first moment of his life on through a series of years, without light or movement, he had sat with open eyes until he was blind, and with healthy limbs until he was stiff, but that he came from the hands of nature, with his forces and fluids in the freshest of conditions, and with the best immediate disposition to develop himself from the first moment. To be sure, creating Providence must have presided over the first moments of coming to conscious control – but it is not the job of philosophy to explain the miraculous aspect in these moments, as little as philosophy can explain the human being’s creation. Philosophy takes up the human being in his first condition of free activity, in his first full feeling of his sound existence, and hence explains these moments only in human terms.
Now I can refer back to what was said before. Since no metaphysical separation of the senses occurs here, since the whole machine senses and immediately works up from obscure feeling to taking-awareness [Besinnung], since this point, the sensation of the first distinct characteristic mark, precisely concerns hearing, the middle sense between seeing and feeling therefore the genesis of language is as much an inner imperative as is the impulse of the embryo to be born at the moment when it reaches maturity. The whole of nature storms at the human being in order to develop his senses until he is a human being. And since language begins from this condition, “the whole chain of conditions in the human soul is of such a kind that each of them forms language further [fortbildet].” I want to cast light on this great law of the natural order.
Animals connect their thoughts obscurely or clearly but not distinctly. just as, to be sure, the kinds which are closest to the human being in manner of life and nerve structure, the animals of the field, often display much memory, much recollection, and in some cases a stronger recollection than the human being, but it is still always only sensuous recollection, and none of them has ever demonstrated through an action a memory that it had improved its condition for its whole species, or had generalized experiences in order to make use of them subsequently. To be sure, the dog can recognize the bodily gesture which has hit him, and the fox can flee the unsafe place where he was ambushed, but neither of them can illuminate for itself a general reflection concerning how it could ever escape this blow-threatening bodily gesture or this hunters’ ruse for good. So the animal still always only remained stuck at the individual sensuous case, and its recollection became a series of these sensuous cases, which produce and reproduce themselves – but never connected “through reflection “; a manifold without distinct unity, a dream of very sensuous, clear, vivid representations without an overarching law of clear wakefulness to order this dream.
To be sure, there is still a great difference among these species and kinds. The narrower the circle is, the stronger the sensuality and the drive is, the more uniform the ability for art and the work in life is, then the less is even the slightest progress through experience observable, at least for us. The bee builds in its childhood as it does in advanced age, and will build the same way at the end of the world as in the beginning of creation. They are individual points, shining sparks from the light of God’s perfection, which, however, always shine individually. An experienced fox, on the other hand, is indeed very different from the first apprentice of the chase; he already knows many tricks ahead of time, and attempts to escape them. But whence does he know them? And how does he attempt to escape them? Because the law of this action follows immediately from such experience. In no case is distinct reflection operative, for are not the cleverest foxes still now tricked in the same way as by the first hunter in the world? In the case of the human being a different law of nature obviously governs the succession of his ideas: awareness. Awareness still governs even in the most sensuous condition, only less noticeably. [The human being is] the most ignorant creature when he comes into the world, but immediately he becomes nature’s apprentice in a way that no animal does; not only does each day teach the next, but each minute of the day teaches the next, each thought the next. It is an essential knack of his soul to learn nothing for this moment, but to marshal everything either along with what it already knew or in readiness for what it intends to link with it in the future. His soul hence takes into account the store which it has already collected or still intends to collect. And in this way the soul becomes a force of steadily collecting. Such a chain continues on until death. [He is,] so to speak, never the whole human being; always in development, in progression, in process of perfection. One mode of efficacy is transcended through the other, one builds on the other, one develops out of the other. There arise periods of life, epochs, which we only name according to the noticeable steps, but which – since the human being never feels how he is growing but always only bow be grew – can be divided infinitely finely. We are always growing out of a childhood, however old we may be, are ever in motion, restless, unsatisfied. The essential feature of our life is never enjoyment but always progression, and we have never been human beings until we – have lived out our lives. By contrast, the bee was a bee when it built its first cell. To be sure, this law of perfecting, of progress through awareness, does not operate with equal noticeability at all times. But is what is less noticeable therefore nonexistent? In a dream, in a thought-dream, the human being does not think as orderly and distinctly as when awake, but nonetheless he still thinks as a human being – as a human being in a middle state, never as a complete animal. In the case of a healthy human being his dreams must have a rule of connection as much as his waking thoughts, only it cannot be the same rule, or operate as uniformly. Hence even these exceptions would bear witness to the validity of the overarching law. And the obvious illnesses and unnatural conditions – swoons, madnesses, etc. – do so even more. Not every action of the soul is immediately a consequence of taking-awareness [Besinnung], but every one is a consequence of awareness [Besonnenheit]. None of them, in the form in which it occurs in a human being, could express itself if the human being were not a human being and did not think in accordance with such a law of nature.
“Now if the human being’s first condition of taking-awareness was not able to become actual without the word of the soul, then all conditions of awareness in him become linguistic; his chain of thoughts becomes a chain of words.”
Do I mean to say by this that the human being can make every sensation of his most obscure sense of feeling into a word, or cannot sense it except by means of a word, It would be nonsense to say this, since precisely to the contrary it is proven that “a sensation which can only be had through the obscure sense of feeling is susceptible of no word for us, because it is susceptible of no distinct characteristic mark.” Hence the foundation of humanity is, if we are talking about voluntary language, linguistically inexpressible. But then, the foundation the whole form? Plinth the whole statue? Is the human being in his whole nature a merely obscurely feeling oyster, then? So let us take the whole thread of his thoughts: since this thread is woven from awareness [Besonnenheit], since there is no condition in it which, taken as a whole, is not itself a taking of awareness [Besinnung] or at least capable of being illuminated in a taking of awareness, since in it the sense of feeling does not rule but the whole center of its nature falls on finer senses, vision and hearing, and these constantly give it language, it follows that, taken as a whole, “there is also no condition in the human soul which does not turn out to be [werde] susceptible of words or actually determined by words of the soul.” To think entirely without words one would have to be the most obscure mystic or an animal, the most abstract religious visionary or a dreaming monad. And in the human soul, as we see even in dreams and in the case of madmen, no such condition is possible. As bold as it may sound, it is true: the human being senses with the understanding and speaks in thinking. And now, due to the fact that he always thinks on in this way and, as we have seen, implicitly puts each thought together with the preceding one and with the future, it must be the case that..
“Each condition which is linked up in this way through reflection thinks better and hence also speaks better.” Allow him the free use of his senses; since the mid-point of this use falls on vision and hearing, where the former gives him the characteristic mark and the latter the sound for the characteristic mark, it follows that with each easier, more formed [gebildeteren] use of these senses language gets formed further [fortgebildet] for him. Allow him the free use of his forces of soul; since the mid-point of their use falls on awareness, and hence does not occur without language, it follows that with each easier, more formed use of awareness language gets more formed for him. 147 Consequently, “the progressive formation of language turns out to be [wird] as natural for the human being as his nature itself.”
Who is there, then, who would know the scope of the forces of a human soul, especially when they express themselves with full effort against difficulties and dangers? Who is there who would assess the degree of perfection at which, through a constant, inwardly complicated, and so diverse progressive formation, the soul can arrive? And since everything comes down to language, how great is that which an individual human being must collect towards language! If even the blind and dumb person on his lonely island had to create a meager language for himself, then the human being, the apprentice of all the senses!, the apprentice of the whole world! – how much richer he must become! What should he eat? Senses, sense of smell, ability to scent, for the plants that are healthy for him, disliking for those that are harmful for him, nature has not given him; so he must experiment, taste, and, like the Europeans in America, learn from watching the animals what is edible. Hence collect for himself characteristic marks of plants, and therefore language! He is not strong enough to confront the lion; so let him flee far from it, know it from afar by its sound, and in order to be able to flee it in a human way and with forethought, let him learn to recognize it and a hundred other harmful animals distinctly, and therefore to name them! Now the more he collects experiences, becomes acquainted with various things and from various sides, the richer his language becomes! The more often he sees these experiences and repeats the characteristic marks to himself, the firmer and more fluent his language becomes. The more he distinguishes and subordinates one thing to another, the more orderly his language becomes! This, continued through years, in an active life, in continual changes, in constant struggle with difficulties and necessity, with constant novelty in objects, is the beginning of language. Unimpressive? And observe!, it is only the life of a single human being!
A human being who was dumb in the sense in which the animals are, who could not even in his soul think words, would be the saddest, most senseless, most abandoned creature of creation – and the greatest self-contradiction Alone, as it were, in the whole universe, attached to nothing and there for everything, secured by nothing, and still less by himself, the human being must either succumb or else rule over everything, with the plan of a wisdom of which no animal is capable, either take distinct possession of everything or else die! Be thou nothing or else the monarch of creation through understanding! Fall in ruins or else create language for thyself! And if, nosy, in this pressing circle of needs all forces of the soul bring themselves to conscious control, if the whole of humanity, struggles to be human – how much can be invented, done, ordered!
We human beings of society can only ever imaginatively project our~ selves into such a condition with trembling: “Oh! If the human being is only destined to save himself from everything in such a slow, weak, inadequate manner ... Through reason’. Through reflection’. How slowly this reflects! And how fast, how pressing his needs are! His dangers!” – This objection can indeed be richly decked out with examples. But it is always fighting against a quite different position [from the one in question]. Our society, which has brought many human beings together so that with their abilities and functions they should be one, must consequently distribute abilities and afford opportunities [to people] from childhood on in such a way that one ability gets developed in preference to another. In this way, the one human being becomes for society entirely algebra, entirely reason, so to speak, just as in another human being society needs only heart, courage, and physical force. This one is of use to society by having no genius and much industry; the former by having genius in one thing and nothing in anything else. Each cog must have its relationship and position, otherwise they do not constitute a whole machine. But let this distribution of the forces of the soul, in which people noticeably suffocate all the other forces in order to excel beyond other people in a single one of them, not be transferred to the condition of a natural human being. Set a philosopher, born and raised in society, who has only trained his head for thinking and his hand for writing, set him suddenly, outside all the protection and reciprocal comforts that society affords him for his one-sided services – he is supposed to seek his own means of subsistence in an unfamiliar land, and fight against the animals, and be his own protecting deity in everything. How helpless! He has for this neither the senses nor the forces nor the training in either! In the strayings of his abstraction he has perhaps lost the sense of smell and sight and hearing and the gift of quick invention – and certainly that courage, that quick decisiveness, which only develops and expresses itself in dangers, which needs to be in constant, new efficacy or else it dies. If, now, he is of an age when the life-source of his mental abilities has already ceased to flow, or is beginning to dry, up, then indeed it will be forever too late to want to educate him into [hineinbilden] this circle. But then, is this the case in question? All the attempts at language that I am citing are not at all made in order to be philosophical attempts. The characteristic marks of plants that I am citing are not discovered as Linnaeus classified them. The first experiences are not cold, slowly reasoned, carefully abstracting experiments like the leisurely, lone philosopher makes when he creeps in pursuit of nature in its hidden course and no longer wants to know that but how it works. This was precisely what concerned nature’s first dweller least. Did he need to have it demonstrated to him that this or that plant is poisonous? Was he, then, so much more than brutish that even in this he did not imitate the brutes ? And did he need to be attacked by the lion in order to be afraid of it? Is not his timidity combined with his weakness, and his awareness combined with all the subtlety of his forces of soul, enough by itself to provide him with a comfortable condition, since nature herself acknowledged that it was adequate for this? Since, therefore, we have no need at all of a timid, abstract study – philosopher as the inventor of language, since the primitive natural human being who still feels his soul, like his body, so entirely of a single piece is more to us than any number of language-creating academies, and yet is anything but a scholar ... why on earth, then, would we want to take this scholar as a model ? Do we want to cast dust in each other’s eyes in order to have proved that the human being cannot see?
Süßmilch is again here the opponent with whom I am fighting. He has devoted a whole section to showing “how impossible it is that the human being should have formed a language further [fortbilden] for himself, even if he had invented it through imitation!” That the invention of language through mere imitation without a human soul is nonsense is proven, and if the defender of the divine origin of language had been demonstratively certain of this cause, that it is nonsense, then I trust that he would not have gathered together a mass of half-true reasons against this nonsense which, as things are, all prove nothing against a human invention of language through understanding. I cannot possibly explain the whole section in its totality here, woven through with arbitrarily-assumed postulates and false axioms about the nature of language as it is, because the author would always appear in a certain light in which he should not appear here. So I select only as much as is necessary, namely, “that in his objections the nature of a human language that forms itself further [sich fortbildenden] and of a human soul that forms itself further is entirely misperceived.”
“If one assumes that the inhabitants of the first world consisted only of a few thousand families, since the light of the understanding already shone so brightly through the use of language that they understood what language is and hence were able to begin thinking of the improvement of this splendid instrument, it follows. ..” But no one assumes anything of all these antecedent propositions. Did people need a thousand generations to understand for the first time what language is, The first human being understood it when he thought the first thought. Did people need a thousand generations to reach the point of understanding for the first time that it is good to improve language? The first human being understood it when he learned to order better, correct, distinguish, and combine his first characteristic marks, and he immediately improved language each time that he learned such a thing for the first time. And then, how, though, could the light of the understanding have become so brightly enlightened over the course of a thousand generations through language if in the course of these generations language had not already become enlightened? So enlightenment without improvement, and after an improvement lasting through a thousand families the beginning of an improvement still impossible? That is simply contradictory.
“But would not writing have to be assumed as a quite indispensable aid in this philosophical and philological course of instruction"? No! For it was not at all a philosophical and philological course of instruction, this first, natural, living, human progressive formation of language. And then, what can the philosopher and philologist in his dead museum improve in a language which lives in all its efficacy?
“Are all peoples supposed, then, to have proceeded with the improvement in the same way"? In exactly the same way, for they all proceeded in a human way – so that we can be confident here, in the rudiments of language, about taking one person for all. When, however, it is supposed to be the greatest miracle” that all languages have eight parts of speech, then once again the fact is false and the inference incorrect. Not all languages have from all times on had eight, but [even] the first philosophical look at the manner of construction of a language shows that these eight have developed out of each other. In the oldest languages verbs were earlier than nouns, and perhaps interjections earlier than even regular verbs. In the later languages nouns are immediately derived together with verbs but even of the Greek language Aristotle says that even in it these were initially all the parts of speech, and the others only developed out of them later through the grammarians. I have read precisely, the same of the language of the Hurons, and it is obvious of the Eastern languages. Indeed, what sort of trick, then is it in the end, this arbitrary and in part unphilosophical abstraction by the grammarians into eight parts of speech? Is this as regular and divine as the form of a bee’s cell? And if it were, is it not entirely explicable and shown necessary in terms of the human soul?
“And what is supposed to have attracted human beings to this most bitter labor of improvement?” Oh, [it was] not at all a bitter speculative study-labor! Not at all an abstract improvement a priori! And hence [there were] also certainly y no attractants to do it, which only occur in our condition of refined society. I have to part company with my opponent completely here. He assumes that “the first improvers would have to have been really good philosophical minds who would certainly have seen further and deeper than most scholars are now wont to do in regard to language and its inner constitution.” He assumes that “these scholars would have to have recognized everywhere that their language was imperfect and that it was not only capable but also in need of an improvement.” He assumes that “they had to judge the purpose of language properly, etc., that the representation of this good which was to be achieved needs to have been adequate, strong, and vivid enough to become a motive for taking on this difficult labor.” In short, the philosopher of our age was not willing to venture even one step outside of all our age’s accidental features. And how, then, could he from such a point of view A-rite about the origination of a language? To be sure, in our century language could have originated as little as it needs to originate.
But do we not, then, already now know human beings in such various ages, regions, and levels of civilization [Bildung] that this so transformed great drama would teach us to infer with greater sureness back to its first scene? Do we not, then, know that precisely in the corners of the earth where reason is still least cast into the fine, societal, many-sided, scholarly form, sensuality and primitive cleverness and cunning and courageous efficacy and passion and spirit of invention – the whole undivided human soul – still operates in the most lively way? Still operates in the most lively way – because, not yet brought to any longwinded rules, this soul still ever lives whole in a circle of needs, of dangers, of pressing demands, and hence ever feels new and whole. There, only there, does the soul reveal forces to form [bilden] language for itself and to form it further [fortzubiIden]! There the soul has enough sensuality and, so to speak, instinct I n order to sense the whole sound and all the self-expressing characteristic marks of living nature as wholly as we are no longer able to, and, when the taking of awareness then isolates one of these characteristic marks, in order to name it as strongly and inwardly as we would not name it. The less the forces of the soul are yet unfolded and each one adjusted for a sphere of its own, then the more strongly all operate together, the deeper the midpoint of their intensity is. But separate out this great, unbreakable sheaf of arrows and you can break them all, and then certainly the miracle cannot be performed with a single wand, then certainly language can never be invented with the philosophers’ single cold gift of abstraction. But was that our question Did not that other sense for the world penetrate more deeply? And, with the constant confluence of all the senses, in whose mid-point the inner sense was always alert, were not ever new characteristic marks, orderings, viewpoints, rapid modes of inference present, and hence ever new enrichments of language? And did the human soul not therefore receive its best inspirations for language (if one does not want to count on eight parts of speech) for as long as, still without any of the stimulations of society, it only stimulated itself all the more mightily, gave itself all the activity of sensation and thought which it had to give itself in view of inner impulse and external demands? There language was born with the whole unfolding of the human forces.
It is unintelligible to me how our century can lose itself so deeply in the shadows, in the obscure workshops, of that which relates to art without even wanting to recognize the broad, bright light of unimprisoned nature. The greatest heroic deeds of the human spirit which it could only do and express in impact with the living world have turned into school exercises in the dust of our school-prisons, the masterpieces of human poetic art and oratory into childish tricks from which aged children and young children learn empty phrases and cull rules. We grasp their formalities and have lost their spirit, we learn their language and do not feel the living world of their thoughts. It is the same with our judgments concerning the masterpiece of the human spirit, the formation of language in general. Here dead reflection is supposed to teach us things which were only able to ensoul the human being, to summon him, and form him further, from the living breath of the world, from the spirit of great, active nature. Here the dull, late laws of the grammarians are supposed to be the most divine thing, which we revere while forgetting the true divine linguistic nature which formed itself in its core with the human spirit – however irregular this true divine linguistic nature may seem. The formation of language has retreated to the shadows of the schools, whence it no longer achieves anything for the living world – consequently it is said that there never even was a bright world in which the first formers of language had to live, feel, create, and poetize. I appeal to the sensitivity of those who do not fail to recognize the human being in the root of his forces, and what is forceful, powerful, and great in the languages of the savages, and the essential nature of language in general. So I continue:
“The human being is in his destiny a creature of the herd, of society. Hence the progressive formation of a language becomes natural, essential, necessary for him.”
The human female has no season for being in heat like animal females.
Arid the man’s power of procreation is not so unrestrained but enduring. If, now, storks and doves have marriages, I cannot see why the human being should not have them, for several reasons.
The human being, compared to the rough bear and the bristly hedgehog, is a weaker, needier, more naked animal. It needs caves, and these very naturally become, due to the preceding reasons, communal caves.
The human being is a weaker animal which in many zones would be very badly exposed to the seasons. The human female therefore in her pregnancy, as a birth-giver, has greater need of societal help than the ostrich which lay s its eggs in the desert.
Finally, especially the human young, the infant put into the world – how much he is a vassal of human help and societal pity. From a condition in which he depended as a plant on his mother’s heart, he is thrown onto the earth – the weakest, most helpless creature among all the animals, were not maternal breasts there to nourish him, and did not paternal knees come towards him to take him up as a son. To whom does not “nature’s household-management in the interest of humanity’s socialization” become obvious from these facts? And indeed a natural household-management that is as Immediate, as close to instinct, as could be the case with a creature possessed of awareness!
I must develop the last point further, for nature’s work shows itself most clearly in this, and my inference proceeds from it that much more quickly. If, like our crude Epicureans, one wants to explain everything from blind pleasure or immediate self-interest- who can explain the feeling of parents towards their children? And the strong bonds that this produces’ Behold! This poor earth-dweller comes wretched into the world without knowing that he is wretched; he needs pity without being able to make himself in the least deserving of it; he cries, but even this crying ought to become as burdensome as was the howling of Philoctetes, even though he had so many meritorious accomplishments, to the Greeks, who abandoned him to the desolate island. Thus according to our cold philosophy the bonds of nature precisely ought to break earliest here, where they are [in fact] most strongly efficacious The mother has finally delivered herself with pains of the fruit that has caused her so much trouble – if the matter depends merely on enjoyment and new pleasure, then she throws it away. The father has cooled his burning lust in a few minutes – why should he concern himself further with mother and child as objects of his effort? Like Rousseau’s man-animal, he runs into the forest and seeks for himself another object of his animal enjoyment. How quite opposite is the order of nature here, with animals and with human beings, and how much more wise. Precisely the pains and troubles increase maternal love! Precisely the infant’s lamentableness and unamiableness, the weak, frail quality of his nature, the troublesome, vexing effort of his upbringing, doubles the strivings of his parents! The mother regards with warmer emotion the son who has cost her the most pains, who has threatened her with his departure most often, on whom she shed most tears of care. The father regards with warmer emotion the son whom he saved from a danger early on, whom he raised with the greatest effort, who cost him the most in instruction and education [Bildung]. And likewise nature also knows “how to make strength out of weakness in the whole of the species.” The human being comes into the world weaker, needier, more abandoned by, nature’s instruction, more completely without skills and talents, than any animal, precisely in order that, like no animal, he “may enjoy an upbringing, and the human species may, like no animal species , become an inwardly united whole!”
The young ducks slip away from the hen which hatched them out and, happily splashing in the element into which the call of maternal nature drew them, they do not hear the warning, calling voice of their step-mother who laments on the shore. The human child would do the same as well if it came into the world with the instinct of the duck. Each bird brings the skill of building nests with it from its egg and also takes it with it, without transferring it to others, into its grave; nature instructs for it. Thus everything remains individual, the immediate work of nature, and so there arises “no progression of the soul of the species,” no whole, of the sort that nature wanted in the case of the human being. Nature consequently bonded together the human being [with other human beings] through necessity and a caring parental drive for which the Greeks had the word storgê, and in this way “a bond of instruction and upbringing became essential to him. In this case parents had not collected the circle of their ideas for themselves; at the same time it was there in order to be communicated, and the son has the advantage of already y inheriting the wealth of their spirit early, as though in epitome. The former pay off nature’s debt by teaching; the latter fill up the idea-less need of their own nature by learning, just as they will later in turn pay off their natural debt of increasing this wealth with their own contribution and transferring it again to others. No individual human being exists for himself; “he is inserted into the whole of the species, he is only one for the continuing series.”
What sort of effect this has on the whole chain we will see later. Here we will] restrict ourselves to the connection between the first two rings only!, to “the formation of a familial manner of thinking through the instruction of upbringing” and –
Since the instruction of the single soul is the parental language’s circle of ideas, “the further formation of human instruction through the spirit of the family, through which spirit nature has united the whole species, becomes also the further formation of language.”
Why does this child-without-any-say cling so weakly and ignorantly to the breasts of his mother, to the knees of his father? That he may, desire to be taught and may learn language. He is weak so that his species may become strong. Now the whole soul, the whole manner of thinking, of his begetters gets communicated to him with the language; but they communicate it to him gladly precisely because it is what they have thought for themselves, felt for themselves, invented for themselves that they are communicating. The infant who stammers his first words, stammers a repetition of the feelings of his parents, and swears with each early stammering, in accordance with which his tongue and soul forms itself that he will make these feelings endure eternally, as truly as he calls them father- or mother-tongue. For his whole life these first impressions from his childhood, these images from the soul and the heart of his parents, will live and take effect within him: with the word will come back the whole feeling that then, early on, flowed over his soul; with the word’s idea all the side ideas that then presented themselves to him when he made this new, early dawn-survey into the realm of creation – they will return and take effect more mightily than the pure, clear main idea itself. This therefore becomes familial manner of thinking and hence familial language. Here, then, stands the cold philosopher and asks “through what law, then, indeed, human beings could have forced their arbitrarily invented language on one another, and caused the other part to accept the law.” This question, about which Rousseau preaches so loftily and another author so long, answers itself immediately when we take a look at “the economy of the nature of the human species” – and who can then endure the aforementioned sermons’
Is it not, then, law and making-eternal enough, this familial further formation of language, The woman, in nature so much the weaker party must she not accept law from the experienced, providing, language-forming man? Indeed, is that properly even called law which is merely the gentle good deed of instruction? The weak child, who is so aptly called a child-without-any-say does it not have to accept language, since it consumes the milk of its mother and the spirit of its father with language? And must not this language be made eternal if anything is made eternal? Oh, the laws of nature are mightier than all the conventions that cunning politics agrees to and the wise philosopher wants to enumerate! The words of childhood – these our early playmates in the dawn of life!, together with whom our whole soul formed itself jointly – when will we fail to recognize them, when will we forget them? For our mother-tongue was simultaneously the first world that we saw, the first sensations that we felt, the first efficacy and joy that we tasted! The side ideas of place and time, of love and hate, of joy and activity, and whatever the fiery, turbulent soul of youth thought to itself in the process, all gets made eternal along with it. Now language really becomes tribal core [Stamm]! And the smaller this tribal core is, the more it gains in inner strength. Our fathers, who thought nothing for themselves, who invented nothing themselves, who learned everything mechanically – what do they care about the instruction of their sons, about making eternal what they do not even possess themselves,” But the first father, the first needy inventors of language, who sacrificed the work of their souls on almost every word , who everywhere in the language still felt the warm sweat which it had cost their activity – what informant could they call upon? The whole language of their children was a dialect of their own thoughts, a paean to their own deeds, like the songs of Ossian for his father Fingal. Rousseau and others have raised so many paradoxes about the origin of and right to the first property, And if the former had only asked the nature of his beloved animal-human, then this animal-human would have answered him. Why does this flower belong to the bee that sucks on it? The bee will answer: Because nature made me for this sucking] My instinct, which lands on this flower and no other, is dictator enough for me – let it assign me this flower and its garden as my property! And if now we ask the first human being, Who has given you the right to these plants?, then what can he answer but: Nature, which gave me the taking of awareness [Besinnung]! I have come to know these plants with effort! With effort I have taught my wife and my son to know them! We all live from them! I have more right to them than the bee that hums on them and the cattle that grazes on them, for these have not had all the effort of coming to know and teaching to know! Thus every thought that I have designed on them is a seal of my property, and whoever drives me away from them takes away from me not only my life, if I do not find this means of subsistence again, but really also the value of my lived years, my sweat, my effort, my thoughts, my language. I have earned them for myself! And should not such a signature of the soul on something through coming to know, through characteristic mark, through language, constitute for the first among humanity more of a right of property than a stamp on a coin?
“How much ordering and development [Ausbildung] language therefore already receives precisely by becoming paternal teaching!” Who does not learn in the process of teaching? Who does not reassure himself of his ideas, who does not examine his words, in the process of communicating them to others and so often hearing them stammered by the lips of the child-without-any-say? Language therefore already here wins an artistic form, a methodical form! Here the first grammar, which was an offprint of the human soul and of its natural logic, already got corrected by a sharply examining censorship.
Rousseau, who here exclaims in his usual manner, “What great amount did the mother have to say to her child, then? Did the child not have more to say to its mother? Whence, then, did the child already learn language in order to teach it to its mother?” also, though, in his usual manner, here makes a panicky battle clamor. Certainly the mother had more to teach the child than the child the mother – because the former was able to teach it more, and because the maternal instinct, love and sympathy, which Rousseau from compassion concedes to the animals but from pride denies to his own species, compelled her to this instruction, as the excess of milk compelled her to suckle. Do we not, then, see even in some animals that the older ones habituate their young to their manner of life? And now, when a father habituated his son to hunting from early youth on, did this happen without instruction and language, then, “Yes!, such a dictation of words certainly indicates a formed language which one is teaching, [but] not a language which is just being formed!” And again, is this a difference that constitutes an exception? To be sure, that language which they taught their children was already formed in the father and mother, but does this imply that the language already had to be completely formed, including even that language which they did not teach their children? And could the children in a newer, broader, more refined world not, then, invent anything more in addition? And is, then, a partly formed language which is still undergoing further formation a contradiction? When, then, is the French language, which has been so much formed through academies and authors and dictionaries, so finally formed that it would not have to form, or deform, itself anew with each new original author, indeed with each mind who introduces a new tone into society? It is with such fallacies that the champions of the opposite opinion are adorned. Let it be judged whether it is worthwhile to go into every trivial detail of their objections.
Another, for example, asks “but how, then, human beings could ever have wanted to form their language further due to necessity if they had been Lucretius’s mutum et turpe pecus” and goes into a pile of half-true evidentiary examples of savages. I merely answer: Never! They could never have wanted to, or been able to, do it if they had been a mutum pecus. For in that case did they not, of course, lack all language? But are savages like this- Is, then, even the most barbarous human nation without language” And has the human being ever been so, then, except in philosophers’ abstractions and hence in their heads?
He asks “whether, then, really, since all animals eschew constraint, and all human beings love laziness, it can ever be expected of Condamine’s Orenocks that they should change and improve their longwinded, eight-syllabled, difficult, and most cumbersome language.” And I answer: First, the fact is again incorrect, like almost all that he cites.” “Their longwinded, eight-syllabled language” it is not. Condamine merely says that it is so unpronounceable and distinctively organized that where they pronounce three or four syllables we would have to write seven or eight, and yet we would still not have written them completely. Does that mean that it Is longwinded, eight-syllabled? ? And “difficult, most cumbersome” – For whom is it so except for foreigners? And they are supposed to make improvements in it for foreigners? To improve it for an arriving Frenchman who hardly ever learns any language except his own without mutilating it, and hence to Frenchify it, But is it the case that the Orenocks have not yet formed anything in their language, indeed not yet formed for themselves any language, just because they do not choose to exchange the genius which is so peculiarly theirs for a foreigner who comes sailing along? Indeed, even assuming that they were to form nothing more in their language, not even for themselves – has a person, then, never grown if he no longer grows?, And have the savages, then, done nothing because they do not like to do anything without need And what a treasure familial language is for a developing race! In almost all small nations of all parts of the world, however little cultivated [gebiIdet] they may be, ballads of their fathers, songs of the deeds of their ancestors, are the treasure of their language and history and poetic art, [they are] their wisdom and their encouragement, their instruction and their games and dances. The Greeks sang of their Argonauts, of Hercules and Bacchus, of heroes and conquerors of Troy, and the Celts of the fathers of their tribes, of Fingal and Ossian! Among Peruvians and North Americans, on the Caribbean and Mariana Islands, this origin of the tribal language in the ballads of their tribes and fathers still holds sway – just as in almost all parts of the world father and mother have similar names. And it is only precisely here that it can be indicated why among many peoples, of which we have cited examples, the male and female genders have almost two different languages, namely, because in accordance with the customs of the nation the two, as the noble and the base genders, almost constitute two quite separate peoples, who do not even eat together. According, then, to whether the upbringing was paternal or maternal, the language too inevitably became either father- or mother-tongue – as, in accordance with the customs of the Romans, it even became lingua Vernacular.
“Just as the whole human species could not possibly remain a single herd, likewise it could not retain a single language either. So there arises a formation of different national languages.”
In the real metaphysical sense, it is already never possible for there to be a single language between man and wife, father and son, child and old man. Let one, for example, go through, in the case of the Easterners, the long and short vowels, the many different kinds of breathings and gutteral letters, the easy and so manifold exchanging of letters by one kind of organ, the pause and the linguistic signs, with all the variations which are so difficult to express in writing: pitch and emphasis, increase and diminution of this, and a hundred other contingent small things in the elements of language. And let one, on the other hand, note the diversity of the linguistic organs in both genders, in youth and in old age, even simply in the case of two similar people – in accordance with many contingencies and individual circumstances which alter the structure of these organs, given many habits which become second nature, etc. “As little as there can be two human beings who share exactly the same form and facial traits, just as little can there be two languages in the mouths of two human beings which would in fact still be only one language, even merely in terms of pronunciation.”
Each race will bring into its language the sound belonging to its house and family; this becomes, in terms of pronunciation, a different dialect.
Climate [Klima], air and Water, food and drink, will have an influence on the linguistic organs and naturally also on language, Society’s ethics and the mighty goddess Habit will soon introduce these peculiarities and those differences in accordance with behavior and decency – a dialect. – “A philosophical essay on the Easterners’ related languages” would be the pleasantest proof of these theses.
That was only pronunciation. But words themselves, sense, the soul of language – what an endless field of differences. We have seen how the oldest languages necessarily came to be full of synonyms. And now, when, of these synonyms, this one became more familiar to the one person, that one to the other person, more appropriate to his viewpoint, more original for his circle of sensation, more frequently occurring in the course of his life, in short, of greater influence on him – then there arose favorite words, words of one’s own, idioms, linguistic idiom.
For the former person that word became extinguished, this word remained. That word got bent away from the main subject through a secondary viewpoint; here the spirit of the main concept itself changed with the passage of time. There hence arose here distinctive bendings, diversions, changes, promotions and additions and transpositions and removals, of whole and half meanings – a new idiom! And all this as naturally as language is for the human being the sense of his soul.
The livelier a language is, the nearer it is to its origin, and hence [the more] it is still in the periods of youth and growth, then the more changeable it is. If the language exists only in books, Where it is learned according to rules, where it is used only in sciences and not in living intercourse, where it has its set number of objects and applications, Where therefore its vocabulary is closed, its grammar regulated, its sphere fixed – such a language can the more easily remain unchanged in what is noticeable, and yet even here only in what is noticeable. But a language in savage, free life, in the realm of great, broad creation, still Without formally minted rules, still Without books and letters and accepted masterpieces, Poor and imperfect enough still to need daily enrichment, and youthfully supple enough still to be capable of it at the first hint from attentiveness, the first command from passion and sensation – this language inevitably changes with each new world that is seen, with each method in accordance with which people think and progress in thinking. Egyptian laws of uniformity cannot effect the opposite here.
Now it is obvious that the whole face of the earth is made for the human species, and the human species for the Whole face of the earth. (I do not say that every inhabitant of the earth, every people is immediately, through the most sudden leap, for the most opposite clime [Klima] and hence for all zones of the world, but the whole species for the whole circle of the earth.) Wherever We look about us, there the human being is as much at home as the land animals which are originally destined for this region. He endures in Greenland amid the ice and roasts in Guinea under the vertical sun; he is on home turf When he glides over the snow With his reindeer in Lapland, and when he trots through the Arab desert with his thirsty came], The cave of the troglodytes and the mountaintops of the Kabyles, the smoking fireplace of the Ostyaks and the golden palace of the Mogul, contain – human beings. For them is the earth flattened at its pole and raised at its equator, for them does the earth revolve around the sun as it does and not otherwise, for them are the earth’s zones and seasons and changes – and they in their turn are for the zones, for the seasons, and for the changes of the earth. This natural law is hence apparent here too: “Human beings should live everywhere on the earth, while every animal species merely has its land and its narrower sphere”; the earth-dweller becomes apparent. And if that is so, then his language becomes language of the earth as well. A new language in every new world, national language in every nation – I cannot repeat all the aforementioned determining causes of the change – language becomes a Proteus on the round surface of the earth.
Some recent fashionable philosophers have been so unable to bind this Proteus and see him in his true form that it has seemed to them more probable that nature was as able to create for each large region of the earth a pair of human beings to found tribes as it was to create special animals for each clime. These human beings then – it is alleged – invented for themselves such a regional and national language of their own as had a whole construction that was made only for this region. On this account, the little Lapp, with his language and his thin beard, with his skills and his spirit, is as much a human animal original to Lapland as his reindeer [is an animal original to Laplandl]; and the Negro, with his skin, with his ink-bubble blackness, with his lips, and hair, and turkey language, and stupidity, and laziness, is a natural brother of the apes of the same clime. One should – it is alleged – as little dream up similarity 86 between the languages of the earth as between the [physical] formations of the [different] races of human beings. And it would have been a very unwise plan of God’s – the account proceeds – to have put forth, so weak and timid, a prey for the elements and animals, only one pair of human beings into one corner of the earth as tribal parents for the whole earth, and to have abandoned them to a thousandfold hazard of dangers.
At least – an opinion which asserts less continues – language is a natural product of the human spirit which only gradually moved to foreign climes with the human species, hence it must also have changed only gradually. One would need to observe the subtle alteration, the movement forth, and the relatedness of peoples progressing in connection with one another, and to be able to give oneself an exact account everywhere of manner of thought, manner of speech or dialect, and manner of life in terms of small nuances. But who can do that? Does one not find in the same clime, indeed right next to each other, in all parts of the world little peoples who in the same sort of circle have such different and opposite languages that everything becomes a confusing thicket, Whoever has read travel descriptions from North and South America, from Africa and Asia, does not need to have the tribes of this thicket counted out to him. So here, these doubters conclude, all human investigation comes to an end.
And because these people merely doubt, I want to attempt to show that the investigation does not come to an end here, but that this “difference [between peoples] right next to each other can be explained just as naturally as the unity of the familial language in one nation.”
The division of the families into separated nations certainly does not proceed in accordance with the slow and boring connections between distance, migration, new relationship, and that sort of thing, as the idle, cold philosopher, compasses in hand, measures [them] on the map, and as, in terms of this measurement, large books have been written “on relatednesses of the peoples,” wherein everything is true except the rule in accordance with which everything was calculated. If we take a look at the living, active world, there are motives there which must very naturally give rise to the difference of language among peoples near to each other – only let one not want to force the human being to change in accordance with some pet system. He is no Rousseauian forest man; he has language. He is no Hobbesian wolf; he has a familial language. But in other connections he is also no premature lamb. So he can form for himself an opposed nature, habit, and language. In short, “the basis of this difference between such near little peoples in language, manner of thought, and manner of life is reciprocal familial and national hatred.”
Without any blackening of human nature or stigmatizing of it as heretical, [we can say,] if we transpose ourselves into their familial manner of thought, [that] two or more near tribes cannot do otherwise than soon find things to quarrel over. It is not merely that similar needs soon entangle them in a struggle of – if I may, put it this way – hunger and thirst, as for example two bands of shepherds quarrel over well and pasture, and in view of the [physical] constitution of their regions of the world may often very naturally quarrel. A much hotter spark kindles their fire: jealousy,feeling of honor, pride in their race and their superiority. The same liking for family which, turned inward on itself, gave strength to the harmony of a single tribe, turned outward from itself, against another race, produces strength of dissension, familial hatred! In the former case it drew many all the more firmly together into a single whole; in the latter case it makes two parties immediately into enemies. The basis of this enmity and these eternal wars is in such a case more noble human weakness than base vice.
Since humanity on this level of civilization [Bildung] has more forces of efficacy than goods of possession, it is also the case that pride in the former is more the point of honor than miserable possessing of the latter, as in later, fiberless ages. But in that age to be a brave man and to belong to a brave family were almost the same thing, since the son in many ways even more truly than is the case with us inherited and learned his virtue and bravery from his father, and the whole tribe in general supported a brave man on all occasions. Hence the slogan soon became natural: Whoever is not with and of us is beneath us! The foreigner is worse than us, is a barbarian. In this sense ‘barbarian’ was the watchword of contempt: a foreigner and simultaneously a more ignoble person who is not our equal in wisdom or bravery, or whatever the age’s point of honor might be.
Now, indeed, as an Englishman correctly notes, if what is at stake is merely selfishness and security of possession, then this fact, that our neighbor is not as brave as we are, is no reason for hatred, but we should quietly rejoice about it. But precisely because this opinion is only an opinion, and is the same opinion of both parties, who have the same feeling for their tribe – precisely hereby the trumpet of war is blown? This touches the honor, this awakens the pride and courage, of the whole tribe! Heroes and patriots [come forth] from both sides! And because the cause of the war affected each person, and each person could understand and feel this cause, the national hatred was made eternal in perpetual, bitter wars, And there the second synonym was ready: Whoever is not with me is against me. Barbarian and spiteful one! Foreigner, enemy! As the word hostis originally [illustrates] in the case of the Romans!
The third thing followed immediately: complete division and separation. Who wanted to have anything in common with such an enemy, the contemptible barbarian ? No familial customs, no remembrance of a single origin, and least of all language. For language was actually “characteristic word of the race, bond of the family, tool of instruction, hero song of the fathers’ deeds, and the voice of these fathers from their graves.” Language could not possibly, therefore, remain of one kind, and so the same familial feeling that had formed a single language, when it became national hatred, often created difference, complete difference in language. He is a barbarian, he speaks a foreign language -the third, so usual synonym.
As inverted as the etymology of these words may seem, the history of all little peoples and languages, which are at issue in this question, on the contrary fully proves its truth. And the lavers of etymology are only abstractions, not divisions in history. All such near polyglots are simultaneously the fiercest, most irreconcilable enemies – and indeed, not all from desire to rob and greed, since for the most part they do not plunder, but only kill and lay waste, and sacrifice to the shades of their fathers. Shades of their fathers are the divinities, and the sole invisible dei ex machina, of the whole bloody epic – as in the songs of Ossian. It is they who stir and stimulate the leader in dreams, and for whom he spends his nights awake; it is they whose names his companions name in vows and songs; it is to them that the captured are consecrated in all tortures; and it is also they, on the other side, who strengthen the tortured one in his songs and dirges. “Family hatred made eternal” is hence the cause of their wars, of their so jealous separations into peoples, which are often scarcely even like families, and in all probability also of the “complete differences between their customs and languages.”
An Eastern document about the division of the languages” – which I consider here only as a poetic fragment for the archaeology of the history of peoples – confirms through a very poetic narrative what so many nations from all parts of the world confirm through their example. “The languages did not change gradually,” as the philosopher multiplies them through migrations; “the peoples united, the poem says, for a great work; then the frenzy of confusion and of the multiplicity of languages flowed over them, so that they desisted and separated.” What was this but a rapid embitterment and quarrel, for which precisely such a great work provided the richest stimulus? There the spirit of family awakened, insulted on what was perhaps a trivial occasion. Alliance and purpose fought themselves to pieces. The spark of disunity shot into flames. They sped apart, and achieved “now all the more violently what they had wanted to forestall through their work: they confused the unitary constituent of their origin, their language. In this way there arose different peoples, and there, the later report says, the ruins are still called: confusion of the peoples!” – Whoever knows the spirit of the Easterners in their often so far-fetched clothings [of their ideas] and their epic, miraculous histories (I do not mean here to exclude for theology a higher Providence), will perhaps not fail to recognize the main thought that is made sensuous [here]: that “division over a great common purpose,” and not only the migration of peoples, became a contributing cause of so many languages.
Setting aside this Eastern testimony (which, moreover, I only in fact meant to cite here as a poem), one sees that the multiplicity of languages can constitute no objection to the natural and human character of the further formation of a language. To be sure, mountains can be raised up here and there by earthquakes, but does it, then, follow from this that the earth as a whole, with its mountain ranges and rivers and seas, cannot have won its form from water, -Only, indeed, just the same consideration also imposes on etymologists and ethnographers a useful constraint to caution, “not to infer too despotically from dissimilarities in languages to their genealogy.” Families can be very closely related and yet have had cause to suppress the relatedness of their coats of arms. The spirit of such little peoples gives sufficient cause for this.
“Just as in all probability the human species [Geschlecht] constitutes a single progressive whole with a single origin in a single great household-economy, likewise all languages too, and with them the whole chain of civilization [Bildung].”
The distinctive characteristic plan which governs a human being has been pointed out: his soul has the habit of always ranking what it sees with what it has seen, and there thus arises through awareness “a progressive unity of all conditions of life.” Hence, further formation [Fortbildung] of language.
The distinctive characteristic plan which governs a human race [Menschengeschlecht] has been pointed out: that through the chain of instruction parents and children become one, and hence each link only gets shoved by nature between two others in order to receive and to communicate. Thereby arises “further formation of language.”
Finally, this distinctive plan also continues to the whole human species [Menschengeschlecht], and thereby arises “a further formation in the highest meaning of the expression” which follows immediately from the two preceding.
Each individual is a human being; consequently, he continues to think for the whole chain of his life. Each individual is a son or daughter, was educated [gebildet] through instruction; consequently, he always inherited a share of the thought-treasures of his ancestors early on, and will pass them down in his own way to others. Hence in a certain way there is “no thought, no invention, no perfection which does not reach further, almost ad infinitum.” Just as I can perform no action, think no thought, that does not have a natural effect on the whole immeasurable sphere of my existence, likewise neither I nor any creature of my kind [Gattung] can do so without also having an effect with each [action or thought] for the whole kind and for the continuing totality of the whole kind. Each [action or thought] always produces a large or small wave: each changes the condition of the individual soul, and hence the totality of these conditions; always has an effect on others, changes something in these as well – the first thought in the first human soul is connected with the last thought in the last human soul.