The German Ideology by Marx and Engels
Chapter Three: Saint Max
Sancho’s “ego” has gone through the full gamut of soul migration. We already met it as the egoist in agreement with himself, as corvée peasant, as trader in thoughts, as unfortunate competitor, as owner, as a slave who has had one of his legs torn out, as Sancho tossed into the air by the interaction between birth and circumstances, and in a hundred other shapes. Here it bids us farewell as an “inhuman being”, under the same banner as that under which it made its entry into the New Testament.
“Only the inhuman being is the real man” (p. 232).
This is one of the thousand and one equations in which Sancho expounds his legend of the holy.
The concept “man” is not the real man.
The concept “man” = Man.
Man = not the real man.
The real man = the non-man,
= the inhuman being.
“Only the inhuman being is the real man. “
Sancho tries to explain to himself the harmlessness of this proposition by means of the following transformations:
“It is not so difficult to express in a few plain words what an inhuman being is; it is a man [ I who does not correspond to the concept of what is human. Logic calls this a nonsensical judgment. Would one have the right to pronounce this judgment that someone can be a man without being a man, if one did not admit the validity of the hypothesis that the concept of man can be separated from his existence, that the essence can be separated from the appearance? People say: so and so seems to be a man, but he is not a man. People have pronounced this nonsensical judgment throughout many centuries: moreover, during this long period of time there have only been inhuman beings. What individual did ever correspond to his concept?” (p. 232).
This passage is again based on our school-master’s fantasy about the school-master who has created for himself an ideal of “Man” and “put it into the heads” of other people, a fantasy which forms the basic theme of “the book”.
Sancho calls it a hypothesis that the concept and existence, the essence and appearance of “man” can be separated, as though the possibility of this separation is not already expressed in the very words he uses. When he says concept, he is speaking of something different from existence; when he says essence, he is speaking of something different from appearance. it is not these statements that he brings into contradiction, but they themselves are the expressions of a contradiction. Hence the only question that could have been raised is whether it is permissible for him to range something under these points of view; and in order to deal with this Sancho would have had to consider the actual relations of people who have been given other names in these metaphysical relations. For the rest, Sancho’s own arguments about the egoist in agreement with himself and about rebellion show how these points of view can be made to diverge, while his arguments about peculiarity, possibility and reality — in connection with “self-enjoyment” — show how they can be made simultaneously to coincide and to diverge.
The nonsensical judgment of the philosophers that the real man is not man is in the sphere of abstraction merely the most universal, all-embracing expression of the actually existing universal contradiction between the conditions and needs of people. The nonsensical form of the abstract proposition fully corresponds to the nonsensical character, carried to extreme lengths, of the relations of bourgeois society, just as Sancho’s nonsensical judgment about his environment — they are egoists and at the same time they are not egoists — corresponds to the actual contradiction between the existence of the German petty bourgeois and the tasks which existing relations have imposed on them and which they themselves entertain in the form of pious wishes and desires. Incidentally, philosophers have declared people to be inhuman, not because they did not correspond to the concept of man, but because their concept of man did not correspond to the true concept of man, or because they had no true understanding of man. Tout comme chez nous, [modified phrase from Nolant de Fatouville’s comedy Harlequin, empereur dans la lune — “tout comme ici” (just as here) is the stock response made by the people listening to Harlequin’s inventions about life on the moon] in “the book”, where Sancho also declares that people are non-egoists for the sole reason that they have no true understanding of egoism.
In view of its extreme triviality and indisputable certainty, there should have been no need to mention the perfectly inoffensive proposition that the idea of man is not the real man, that the idea of a thing is not the thing itself — a proposition which is also applicable to a stone and to the idea of a stone, in accordance with which Sancho should have said that the real stone is non-stone. But Sancho’s well-known fantasy that only because of the domination of ideas and concepts mankind has up to now been subjected to all sorts of misfortunes, makes it possible for him to link his old conclusions again with this proposition. Sancho’s old opinion that one has only to get a few ideas out of one’s head in order to abolish from the world the conditions which have given rise to these ideas, is reproduced here in the form that one has only to get out of one’s head the idea of man in order to put an end to the actually existing conditions which are today called inhuman — whether this predicate “inhuman” expresses the opinion of the individual in contradiction with his conditions or the opinion of the normal, ruling society about the abnormal, subjected class. In just the same way, a whale taken from the ocean and put in the Kupfergraben, if it possessed consciousness, would declare this situation created by “unfavourable circumstances” to be unwhale-like, although Sancho could prove that it is whale-like, if only because it is its, the whale’s, own situation — that is precisely how people argue in certain circumstances.
On page 185, Sancho raises the important question:
“But how to curb the inhuman being who dwells in each individuals How can one manage not to set free the inhuman being along with the human being'? All liberalism has a mortal enemy, an invincible opponent, as God has the devil; at the side of the human being there is always the inhuman being, the egoist, the individual. State, society, mankind cannot master this devil.”
“And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,
“And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle....
“And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city” (Revelation of St. John 20:7-9).
In the form in which Sancho understands it, the question again becomes sheer nonsense. He imagines that people up to now have always formed a concept of man, and then won freedom for themselves to the extent that was necessary to realise this concept; that the measure of freedom that they achieved was determined each time by their idea of the ideal of man at the time; it was thus unavoidable that in each individual there remained a residue which did not correspond to this ideal and, hence, since it was “inhuman”, was either not set free or only freed malgré eux.
In reality, of course, what happened was that people won freedom for themselves each time to the extent that was dictated and permitted not by their ideal of man, but by the existing productive forces. All emancipation carried through hitherto has been based, however, on restricted productive forces. The production which these productive forces could provide was insufficient for the whole of society and made development possible only if some persons satisfied their needs at the expense of others, and therefore some — the minority — obtained the monopoly of development, while others — the majority — owing to the constant struggle to satisfy their most essential needs, were for the time being (i.e., until the creation of new revolutionary productive forces) excluded from any development. Thus, society has hitherto always developed within the framework of a contradiction — in antiquity the contradiction between free men and slaves, in the Middle Ages that between nobility and serfs, in modern times that between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. This explains, on the one hand, the abnormal, “inhuman” way in which the oppressed class satisfies its needs, and, on the other hand, the narrow limits within which intercourse, and with it the whole ruling class, develops. Hence this restricted character of development consists not only in the exclusion of one class from development, but also in the narrow-mindedness of the excluding class, and the “inhuman” is to be found also within the ruling class. This so-called “inhuman” is just as much a product of present-day relations as the “human” is; it is their negative aspect, the rebellion — which is not based on any new revolutionary productive force — against the prevailing relations brought about by the existing productive forces, and against the way of satisfying needs that corresponds to these relations. The positive expression “human” corresponds to the definite relations predominant at a certain stage of production and to the way of satisfying needs determined by them, just as the negative expression “inhuman” corresponds to the attempt to negate these predominant relations and the way of satisfying needs prevailing under them without changing the existing mode of production, an attempt that this stage of production daily engenders afresh.
For our saint, such world-historical struggles are reduced to a mere collision between Saint Bruno and “the mass”. Cf. the whole criticism of humane liberalism, especially page 192 et seq.
Thus, our simple-minded Sancho with his naive little statement about the inhuman being and with his talk of getting-man-out-of-one’s-head, thanks to which the inhuman being also disappears and there is no longer any measure for individuals, finally arrives at the following result. He regards the physical, intellectual and social crippling and enslavement which as a result of the existing relations afflict an individual, as the individuality and peculiarity of that individual; like an ordinary conservative he calmly recognises these relations once he has freed his mind of all worry by getting out of his head the philosophers’ idea of these relations. just as here he declares fortuitous features imposed on the individual to be the latter’s individuality, so earlier (cf. “Logic”), in connection with the ego, he abstracted not only from any fortuity, but also in general from any individuality.
About the “inhuman” great result obtained by him Sancho sings in the following Kyrie eleison, [Lord have mercy] which he puts into the mouth of “the inhuman being":
“I was despicable because I sought my better self outside me;
"I was the inhuman, because I dreamed of the human;
"I was like the pious ones who hunger for their true ego and always remain poor sinners;
"I thought of myself only in comparison with someone else;
"I was not all in all, I was not — unique.
"Now, however, I cease to appear to myself as the inhuman;
"I cease to measure myself by man and to let others measure me;
"I cease to recognise anything above myself —
"I was inhuman, but I am no longer inhuman, I am the unique!” Hallelujah!
We shall not dwell further here on how “the inhuman” — which, it may be said in passing, put itself in the right frame of mind by “turning its back” “on itself and the critic”, Saint Bruno — how “the inhuman” here “appears”, or does not “appear” to itself. We shall only point out that the “unique” (it or he) is characterised here by his getting the holy out of his, head for the nine-hundredth time, whereby, as we in our turn are compelled to repeat for the nine-hundredth time, everything remains as before, not to mention the fact that it is no more than a pious wish.
We have here, for the first time, the unique person, Sancho, who with the litany mentioned above has received the accolade of knighthood, now appropriates his new, noble name. Sancho arrives at his uniqueness by getting “Man” out of his head. He thereby ceases “to think of himself only in comparison with someone else” and “to recognise something above him”. He becomes incomparable. This is again the same old fantasy of Sancho’s that it is not the needs of individuals, but concepts, ideas, “the holy” — here in the shape of “Man” — that are the sole tertium comparationis and the sole bond between individuals. He gets an idea out of his head and thereby becomes unique.
To become “unique” in his sense of the word he must above all prove to us his freedom from premises.
Page 470: “Your thought has as its premise not thought, but you. But thus you nevertheless have yourself as a premise? Yes, but not to me, but to my thought. I am before my thought. It follows hence that no thought precedes my thinking, or that my thinking is without any premise. For the premise which I am for my thinking is not one created by thinking, not one that is thought, but ... is the owner of thinking, and proves only that thinking is nothing but — property.”
“We are prepared to allow” that Sancho does not think before he thinks, and that he and everyone else is in this respect a thinker without premises. Similarly we concede that he does not have any thought as the premise of his existence, i.e., that he was not created by thoughts. If for a moment Sancho abstracts from all his thoughts — which with his meagre assortment cannot be very difficult — there remains his real ego, but his real ego within the framework of the actual relations of the world that exist for it. In this way he has divested himself for a moment of all dogmatic premises, but now for the first time the real premises begin to come to light for him. And these real premises are also the premises of his dogmatic premises which, whether he likes it or not, will reappear to him together with the real ones so long as he does not obtain different real premises, and with them also different dogmatic premises, or so long as he does not recognise in a materialistic way that the real premises are the premises of his thinking, and a,, a result his dogmatic ones will disappear altogether. just as his development up to now and his Berlin environment have at present led to the dogmatic premise of egoism in agreement with itself, so, despite all imaginary freedom from premises, this premise will remain with him as long as he fails to overcome its real premises.
As a true school-master, Sancho still continues to strive for the famous Hegelian “premiseless thinking”, i.e., thinking without dogmatic premises, which in Hegel too is only a pious wish. Sancho believed he could achieve this by a skilful leap and even surpass it by going in pursuit of the premiseless ego. But both the one and the other eluded his grasp.
Then Sancho tries his luck in another fashion:
Pages 214, 215: “Make full use” of the demand for freedom! “Who shall become free? You, I, we. Free from what? From everything that is not you, not I, not we, I, therefore, am the core.... What remains if I become free from everything that is not I? Only I and nothing but I.”
So that was the poodle’s core!
A travelling scholar? The incident makes me laugh.
[Goethe, Faust, I. Teil, 1. “Studierzimmerszene"]
“Everything that is not you, not I, not we” is, of course, here again a dogmatic idea, like state, nationality, division of labour, etc. Once these ideas have been subjected to criticism — and, in Sancho’s opinion, this has already been done by “criticism”, namely critical criticism — he again imagines that he is also free from the actual state, actual nationality and division of labour. Consequently the ego, which is here the “core”, which “has become free from everything that is not I” — is still the above-mentioned premiseless ego with everything that it has not got rid of.
If, however, Sancho were once to tackle the subject of “becoming tree” with the desire of freeing himself not merely from categories, but from actual fetters, then such liberation would presuppose a change common to him and to a large mass of other people, and would produce a change in the state of the world which again would be common to him and others. Although his “ego” “remains” after liberation, it is hereafter a totally changed ego sharing with others a changed state of the world which is precisely the premise, common to him and others, of his and their freedom, and it follows that the uniqueness, incomparability and independence of his “ego” again come to nothing.
Sancho tries again in a third fashion:
Page 237: “Their disgrace is not that they” (Jew and Christian) “exclude each other but that this only half occurs. If they could be perfect egoists they would totally exclude each other.”
Page 273: “If one desires only to resolve the contradiction one grasps its meaning in too formal and feeble a way. The contradiction deserves rather to be sharpened.”
Page 274: “Only when you recognise your contradiction fully and when everyone asserts himself from head to foot as unique will you no longer simply conceal your contradiction.... The final and most decisive contradiction — that between one unique person and another — goes basically beyond the bounds of what is called contradiction.... As a unique person you have nothing more in common with the other and, for that reason, nothing that makes you separate from him or hostile to him.... Contradiction disappears in perfect ... separateness or uniqueness.”
Page 183: “I do not want to have or to be something special in relation to others; nor do I measure myself by others.... I want to be everything I can be, and to have everything I can have. What do I care whether others are or have something similar to me? They can neither be nor have something equal, the same. I do nothing detrimental to them any more than it is to the detriment of the cliff that I have the advantage of movement. If they could have it, they would have it. Doing nothing to the detriment of other people, that is the meaning of the demand to have no privileges.... One should not regard oneself as ‘something special’, e.g., Jew or Christian. Well, I regard myself not as something special but as unique. True, I have a resemblance to others; but this holds only for comparison or reflection; in fact, however, I am incomparable, unique. My flesh is not their flesh, my spirit is not their spirit. If you bring them under the general concept ‘flesh’, ‘spirit’, then those are your thoughts, which have nothing to do with ray flesh, my spirit.”
Page 234: “Human society perishes because of the egoists, for they no longer treat one another as human beings, but act egoistically as an ego against a you that is totally distinct from and hostile to me.”
Page 180: “As though one individual will not always seek out another, and as though one person does not have to adapt himself to another, when he needs him. But the difference is that in this case the individual actually unites with another individual, whereas previously he was linked to him by a bond.”
Page 178: “Only when you are unique can you in your intercourse with one another be what you actually are.”
As regards Sancho’s illusion about the intercourse of the unique ones “as what they actually are”, about “the uniting of the individual with the individual”, in short, about the “union”, that has been completely dealt with. We shall merely point out: whereas in the union each regarded and treated the other merely as his object, his property (cf. page 167 and the theory of property and exploitation), in the “Commentary” (Wigand, p. 157), on the contrary, the governor of the island of Barataria realises and recognises that the other also belongs to himself, is his own, is unique, and in that capacity also becomes Sancho’s object, although no longer Sancho’s property. In his despair, lie saves himself only by the unexpected idea that “because of this” he “forgets himself in sweet self-oblivion”, a delight which he “affords himself a thousand times every hour” and which is still further sweetened by the sweet consciousness that nevertheless he has not “completely disappeared”. The result, therefore, is the old wisdom that each exists for himself and for others.
Let us now reduce Sancho’s pompous statements to their actual modest content.
The bombastic phrases about “contradiction” which has to be sharpened and taken to extremes, and about the “something special”, which Sancho does not want to have as his advantage, amount to one and the same thing. Sancho wants, or rather believes he wants, that intercourse between individuals should be purely personal, that their intercourse should not be mediated through some third thing (cf. competition). This third thing here is the “something special”, or the special, not absolute, contradiction, i.e., the position of individuals in relation to one another determined by present-day social relations. Sancho does not want, for example, two individuals to be in “contradiction” to one another as bourgeois and proletarian; he protests against the “special” which forms the “advantage” of the bourgeois over the proletarian; he would like to have them enter into a purely personal relation, to associate with one another merely as individuals. He does not take into consideration that in the framework of division of labour personal relations necessarily and inevitably develop into class relations and become fixed as such and that, therefore, all his talk amounts simply to a pious wish, which he expects to realise by exhorting the individuals of these classes to get out of their heads the idea of their “contradiction” and their “special” “privilege”. In the passages from Sancho quoted above, everything turns only on people’s opinion of themselves, and his opinion of them, what they want and what he wants. “Contradiction” and the “special” are abolished by a change of “opinion” and “wanting”.
Even that which constitutes the advantage of an individual as such over other individuals, is in our day at the same time a product of society and in its realisation is bound to assert itself as privilege, as we have already shown Sancho in connection with competition. Further, the individual as such, regarded by himself, is subordinated to division of labour, which makes him one-sided, cripples and determines him.
What, at best, does Sancho’s sharpening of contradiction and abolition of the special amount to? To this, that the mutual relations of individuals should be their behaviour to one another, while their mutual differences should be their self-distinctions (as one empirical self distinguishes itself from another). Both of these are either, as with Sancho, an ideological paraphrase of what exists, for the relations of individuals under all circumstances can only be their mutual behaviour, while their differences can only be their self-distinctions. Or they are the pious wish that they should behave in such a way and differ from one another in such a way, that their behaviour does not acquire independent existence as a social relationship independent of them, and that their differences from one another should not assume the material character (independent of the person) which they have assumed and daily continue to assume.
Individuals have always and in all circumstances “proceeded from themselves”, but since they were not unique in the sense of not needing any connections with one another, and since their needs, consequently their nature, and the method of satisfying their needs, connected them with one another (relations between the sexes, exchange, division of labour), they had to enter into relations with one another. Moreover, since they entered into intercourse with one another not as pure egos, but as individuals at a definite stage of development of their productive forces and requirements, and since this intercourse, in its turn, determined production and needs, it was, therefore, precisely the personal, individual behaviour of individuals, their behaviour to one another as individuals, that created the existing relations and daily reproduces them anew. They entered into intercourse with one another as what they were, they proceeded “from themselves”, as they were, irrespective of their “outlook on life”. This “outlook on life” — even the warped one of the philosophers — could, of course, only be determined by their actual life. Hence it certainly follows that the development of an individual is determined by the development of all the others with whom he is directly or indirectly associated, and that the different generations of individuals entering into relation with one another are connected with one another, that the physical existence of the later generations is determined by that of their predecessors, and that these later generations inherit the productive forces and forms of intercourse accumulated by their predecessors, their own mutual relations being determined thereby. In short, it is clear that development takes place and that the history of a single individual cannot possibly be separated from the history of preceding or contemporary individuals, but is determined by this history.
The transformation of the individual relationship into its opposite, a purely material relationship, the distinction of individuality and fortuity by the individuals themselves, is a historical process, as we have already shown,’ and at different stages of development it assumes different, ever sharper and more universal forms. In the present epoch, the domination of material relations over individuals, and the suppression of individuality by fortuitous circumstances, has assumed its sharpest and most universal form, thereby setting existing individuals a very definite task. It has set them the task of replacing the domination of circumstances and of chance over individuals by the domination of individuals over chance and circumstances. It has not, as Sancho imagines, put forward the demand that “I should develop myself”, which up to now every individual has done without Sancho’s good advice; it has on the contrary called for liberation from a quite definite mode of development. This task, dictated by present-day relations, coincides with the task of organising society in a communist way.
We have already shown above that the abolition of a state of affairs in which relations become independent of individuals, in which individuality is subservient to chance and the personal relations of individuals are subordinated to general class relations, etc. — that the abolition of this state of affairs is determined in the final analysis by the abolition of division of labour. We have also shown that the abolition of division of labour is determined by the development of intercourse and productive forces to such a degree of universality that private property and division of labour become fetters on them. We have further shown that private property can be abolished only on condition of an all-round development of individuals, precisely because the existing form of intercourse and the existing productive forces are all-embracing and only individuals that are developing in an all-round fashion can appropriate them, i.e., can turn them into free manifestations of their lives. We have shown that at the present time individuals must abolish private property, because the productive forces and forms of intercourse have developed so far that, under the domination of private property, they have become destructive forces, and because the contradiction between the classes has reached its extreme limit. Finally, we have shown that the abolition of private property and of the division of labour is itself the association of individuals on the basis created by modern productive forces and world intercourse.
Within communist society, the only society in which the genuine and free development of individuals ceases to be a mere phrase, this development is determined precisely by the connection of individuals, a connection which consists partly in the economic prerequisites and partly in the necessary solidarity of the free development of all, and, finally, in the universal character of the activity of individuals on the basis of the existing productive forces. We are, therefore, here concerned with individuals at a definite historical stage of development and by no means merely with individuals chosen at random, even disregarding the indispensable communist revolution, which itself is a general condition for their free development. The individuals’ consciousness of their mutual relations will, of course, likewise be completely changed, and, therefore, will no more be the “principle of love” or dévoûment than it will be egoism.
Thus, “uniqueness” — taken in the sense of genuine development and individual behaviour, as outlined above — presupposes not only things quite different from good will and right consciousness, but even the direct opposite of Sancho’s fantasies. With him “uniqueness” is nothing more than an embellishment of existing conditions, a little drop of comforting balm for the poor, impotent soul that has become wretched through wretchedness.
As regards Sancho’s “incomparability”, the situation is the same as with his “uniqueness”. He himself will recall, if he is not completely “lost” in “sweet self-oblivion”, that the organisation of labour in “Stirner’s union of egoists” was based not only on the comparability of needs, but also on their equality. And he assumed not only equal needs, but also equal activity, so that one individual could take the place of another in “human work”. And the extra remuneration of the “unique” person, crowning his efforts — what other basis had it than the fact that his performance was compared with that of others and in view of its superiority was better paid? And how can Sancho talk at all about incomparability when he allows money — the means of comparison that acquires independent existence in practice — to continue in being, subordinates himself to it and allows himself to be measured by this universal scale in order to be compared with others? It is quite evident that he himself gives the lie to his doctrine rid of incomparability. Nothing is easier than to call equality and inequality, similarity and dissimilarity, determinations of reflection. Incomparability too is a determination of reflection which has the activity of comparison as its premise. To show that comparison is not at all a purely arbitrary determination of reflection, it is enough to give just one example, money, the permanent tertium comparationis of all people and things.
Incidentally, incomparability can have different meanings. The only meaning in question here, namely “uniqueness” in the sense of originality, presupposes that the activity of the incomparable individual in a definite sphere differs from the activity of his equals. Persiani is an incomparable singer precisely because she is a singer and is compared with other singers, and indeed by people who are able to recognise her incomparability through comparison based on normal hearing and musical training. Persiani’s singing and the croaking of a frog are incomparable, although even here there could be a comparison, but it would be a comparison between a human being and a frog, and not between Persiani and a particular unique frog. Only in the first case is it possible to speak of a comparison between individuals, in the second it is a matter only of their properties as species or genus. A third type of incomparability — the incomparability of Persiani’s singing with the tail of a comet — we leave to Sancho for his “self-enjoyment”, since at any rate he finds pleasure in “nonsensical judgments”, although even this absurd comparison has a real basis in the absurdity of present-day relations. Money is the common measure for all, even the most heterogeneous things.
Incidentally, Sancho’s incomparability amounts to the same empty phrase as his uniqueness. Individuals are no longer to be measured by some tertium comparationis independent of them, but comparison should be transformed into their self-distinction, i.e., into the free development of their individuality, which, moreover, is brought about by their getting “fixed ideas” out of their heads.
Incidentally, Sancho is acquainted only with the type of comparison made by scribblers and ranters, which leads to the magnificent conclusion that Sancho is not Bruno and Bruno is not Sancho. On the other hand, he is, of course, unacquainted with the sciences which have made considerable advances just by comparing and establishing differences in the spheres of comparison and in which comparison acquires a character of universal importance — i.e., in comparative anatomy, botany, philology, etc.
Great nations — the French, North Americans, English — are constantly comparing themselves with one another both in practice and theory, in competition and in science. Petty shopkeepers and philistines, like the Germans, who are afraid of comparison and competition, hide behind the shield of incomparability supplied them by their manufacturer of philosophical labels. Not only in their interests, but also in his own, has Sancho refused to tolerate any comparison.
On page 415 Sancho says:
“There exists no one equal to me,”
and on page 408 association with “my equals” is depicted as the dissolution of society in intercourse:
“The child prefers intercourse with his equals to society.”
However, Sancho sometimes uses “equal to me” and “equal” in general in the sense of “the same”, e.g., the passage on page 183 quoted above:
“They can neither be nor have something equal, the same.”
Here he arrives at his final “new turn of expression”, which he uses especially in the “Commentary”.
The uniqueness, the originality, the “peculiar” development of individuals which, according to Sancho, does not for example occur in all “human works”, although no one will deny that one stove-setter does not set a stove in the “same” way as another; the unique” development of individuals which, in the opinion of this same Sancho, does not occur in religious, political, etc., spheres (see “Phenomenology”), although no one will deny that of all those who believe in Islam not one believes in it in the “same” way as another and to this extent each of them is “unique”, just as among citizens not one has the “same” attitude to the state as another if only because it is a matter of his attitude, and not that of some-other — all this much praised “uniqueness” which [according to Sancho] was so distinct from “sameness”, identity of the person, that in all individuals who have so far existed he could hardly see anything but “specimens” of a species, is thus reduced here to the identity of a person with himself, as established by the police, to the fact that one individual is not some other individual. Thus Sancho, who was going to take the world by storm, dwindles to a clerk in a passport office.
On page 184 of the “Commentary” he relates with much unction and great self-enjoyment that he does not become replete when the Japanese Emperor eats, because his stomach and that of the Japanese Emperor are “unique”, “incomparable stomachs”, i.e., not the same stomachs. If Sancho believes that in this way he has abolished the social relations hitherto existing or even only the laws of nature, then his naiveté is excessively great and it springs merely from the fact that philosophers have not depicted social relations as the mutual relations of particular individuals identical with themselves, and the laws of nature as the mutual connections of these particular bodies.
The classic expression which Leibniz gave to this old proposition (to be found on the first page of any physics textbook as the theory of the impenetrability of bodies) is well known:
“However, every monad necessarily differs from every other; for in nature there are never two things that exactly coincide with each other.” (Principia Philosophiae seu Theses, etc.)
Sancho’s uniqueness is here reduced to a quality which he shares with every louse and every grain of sand.
The greatest disclaimer with which his philosophy could end is that it regards the realisation that Sancho is not Bruno, which is obvious to every country bumpkin and police sergeant, to be one of the greatest discoveries, and that it considers the fact of this difference to be a real miracle.
Thus the “critical hurrah” of our “virtuoso of thought” has become an uncritical miserere.
After all these adventures our “unique” squire again sails into the harbour of his native serf’s cottage. “The title spectre of his book” rushes out to meet him “joyfully”. Her first enquiry is: how is the ass?
Better than his master, replies Sancho.
Thanks be to God for so much goodness. But tell me now, my friend, what profit have you got out of your squiredom? What new dress have you brought me?
I have brought nothing like that, replies Sancho, but I have brought “the creative nothing, the nothing from which I myself as creator create everything”. This means you will yet see me in the capacity of church father and archbishop of an island and, indeed, one of the best it is possible to find.
God grant it, my treasure, and may it be soon, for we sorely need it. But as regards the island you mention, I don’t know what you mean.
Honey is not for the ass’s mouth, replies Sancho. You will see it for ourself in due course, wife. But even now I can tell you that nothing is more pleasant in the world than the honour of seeking adventures as an egoist in agreement with himself and as the squire of the rueful countenance. True, most of these adventures do not “reach the final goal” so that “human requirement is satisfied” (tan como el hombre querría [as the human being desires]), for ninety-nine adventures out of a hundred go awry and follow a tangled course. I know this from experience, for in some of them I was cheated and from others I went home soundly pounded and thrashed. But in spite of all that, it is a fine thing, for at any rate the “unique” requirement is always satisfied when one wanders through the whole of history, quoting all the books in the Berlin reading-room, getting an etymological night’s lodging in all languages, falsifying political facts in all countries, boastfully throwing down gages to all dragons and ostriches, elfs, field hobgoblings and “spectres”, exchanging blows with all church fathers and philosophers and yet, finally, paying for it only with your own body (cf. Cervantes, I, Chapter 52).