Principles of the Philosophy of the Future
The recognition of the light of reality within the darkness of abstraction is a contradiction – both the affirmation and the negation of the real at one and the same time. The new philosophy, which thinks the concrete not in an abstract but a concrete way, which acknowledges the real in its reality – that is, in a way corresponding to the being of the real as true, which elevates it into the principle and object of philosophy – is consequently the truth of the Hegelian philosophy, indeed of modern philosophy as a whole.
To look at it more closely, the historical necessity, or the genesis of the new philosophy from the old, results as follows. According to Hegel, the concrete concept, the idea, exists at first only in an abstract way, only in the element of thought – the rationalised God of theology before the creation of the world. But the manner in which God expresses, manifests, and realises himself, the manner in which he becomes worldly, is the same as that in which the idea realises itself: Hegel's philosophy is the history of theology transformed into a logical process. But if the realisation of the idea takes us into the realm of realism, if the truth of the idea is that it really is, that it exists, then we have indeed raised existence into the criterion of truth: True is what really exists. The only question then is: What really exists? is it alone that which is thought? That which is the object of thought and intellect? But we shall never in this way get beyond the idea in abstracts. The Platonic idea, too, is the object of thought; the heavenly hereafter, too, is an inner object – the object of belief and imagination. If the reality of thought is reality as thought, it is itself only thought, and we are forever imprisoned in the identity of thought with itself, in idealism – an idealism that differs from subjective idealism only in so far as it encompasses the whole of reality, subsuming it under the predicates of thought. Hence, should the reality of thought be a matter of real seriousness to us, something other than thought must accrue to it: It must, as realised thought, be other than what it is as unrealised, pure thought – the object not only of thought, but also of non-thought. That thought realises itself means simply that it negates itself, ceases to be mere thought. Now what is this non-thought, this something different from thought? It is the sensuous. That thought realises itself means, accordingly, that it makes itself the object of the senses. Thus, the reality of the Idea is sensuousness,. but reality is also the truth of the Idea – hence sensuousness is the truth of the Idea. But in this way we have at the same time made sensuousness the predicate, and the Idea or thought, the subject. The only question is, why does the Idea take on sensuousness? Why does it cease to be true when it is not real or sensuous? Is not its truth thus made dependent on sensuousness? Are not significance and value thus being conceded to the sensuous as such; that is, apart from its being the reality of the Idea? If taken by itself, sensuousness is nothing, why is it needed by the Idea? If value and content are bestowed upon sensuousness by the Idea, sensuousness is pure luxury and trumpery – only an illusion which thought practices upon itself. But it is not so. The demand that the Idea realise itself, that it assume sensuousness arises from the fact that sensuous reality is unconsciously held to be the truth which is both prior to and independent of thought. Thought proves its truth by taking recourse to sensuousness; how could this be possible if sensuousness was not unconsciously held to be the truth? But since one consciously proceeds from the truth of thought, the truth of sensuousness is acknowledged only in retrospect whereby sensuousness is reduced merely to an attribute of the Idea. But this is a contradiction; for sensuousness is an attribute and yet it lends truth to thought; that is, it is both essential and inessential, both substance and accident. The only way out of this contradiction is to regard sensuous reality as its own subject; to give it an absolutely independent, divine, and primary significance, not one derived from the Idea.
Taken in its reality or regarded as real, the real is the object of the senses – the sensuous. Truth, reality, and sensuousness are one and the same thing. Only a sensuous being is a true and real being. Only through the senses is an object given in the true sense, not through thought for itself. The object given by and identical with ideation is merely thought.
An object, i.e., a real object, is given to me only if a being is given to me in a way that it affects me, only if my own activity – when I proceed from the standpoint of thought – experiences the activity of another being as a limit or boundary to itself. The concept of the object is originally nothing else but the concept of another I – everything appears to man in childhood as a freely and arbitrarily acting being – which means that in principle the concept of the object is mediated through the, concept of You, the objective ego. To use the language of Fichte, an object or an alter ego is given not to the ego, but to the non-ego in me; for only where I am transformed from an ego into a You – that is, where I am passive – does the idea of an activity existing outside myself, the idea of objectivity, really originate. But it is only through the senses that the ego is also non-ego.
A question characteristic of earlier abstract philosophy is the following: How can different independent entities or substances act upon one another, for example, the body upon the soul or ego? in so far as this question was an abstraction from sensuousness, in so far as the supposedly interacting substances were abstract entities, purely intellectual creatures, philosophy was unable to resolve it. The mystery of their interaction can be solved only by sensuousness. Only sensuous beings act upon one another.
I am I – for myself – and at the same time You – for others. But I am You only in so far as I am a sensuous being. But the abstract intellect isolates being-for-self as substance, ego, or God; it can, therefore, only arbitrarily connect being-for-others with being-for-self, for the necessity for this connection is sensuousness alone. But then it is precisely sensuousness from which the abstract intellect abstracts. What I think in isolation from sensuousness is what I think without and outside all connections. Hence the question: How can I think the unconnected to be at the same time connected?
The new philosophy looks upon being – being as given to us not only as thinking, but also as really existing being – as the object of being, as its own object. Being as the object of being – and this alone is truly, and deserves the name of, being – is sensuous being; that is, the being involved in sense perception, feeling, and love. Or in other words, being is a secret underlying sense perception, feeling, and love.
Only in feeling and love has the demonstrative this – this person, this thing, that is, the particular – absolute value; only then is the finite infinite. In this and this alone does the infinite depth, divinity, and truth of love consist. In love alone resides the truth and reality of the God who counts the hairs on your head. The Christian God himself is only an abstraction from human love and an image of it. And since the demonstrative this owes its absolute value to love alone, it is only in love – not in abstract thought – that the secret of being is revealed. Love is passion, and passion alone is the distinctive mark of existence. Only that which. is an object of passion, exists – whether as reality or possibility. Abstract thought, which is devoid of feeling and passion, abolishes the distinction between being and non-being; non-existent for thought, this distinction is a reality for love. To love is nothing else than to become aware of this distinction. It is a matter of complete indifference to someone who loves nothing whether something exists or not, and be that what it may. But just as being as distinguished from non-being is given to me through love or feeling in general, so is everything else that is other than me given to me through love. Pain is a loud protest against identifying the subjective with the objective. The pain of love means that what is in the mind is not given in reality, or in other words, the subjective is here the objective, the concept itself the object. But this is precisely what ought not to be, what is a contradiction, an untruth, a misfortune – hence, the desire for that true state of affairs in which the subjective and the objective are not identical. Even physical pain clearly expresses this distinction. The pain of hunger means that there is nothing objective inside the stomach, that the stomach is, so to speak, its own object, that its empty walls grind against each other instead of grinding some content. Human feelings have, therefore, no empirical or anthropological significance in the sense of the old transcendental philosophy; they have, rather, an ontological and metaphysical significance: Feelings, everyday feelings, contain the deepest and highest truths. Thus, for example, love is the true ontological demonstration of the existence of objects apart from our head: There is no other proof of being except love or feeling in general. Only that whose being brings you joy and whose not-being, pain has existence. The difference between subject and object, being and non-being is as happy a difference as it is painful.
The new philosophy bases itself on the truth of love, on the truth of feeling. In love, in feeling in general, every human being confesses to, the truth of the new philosophy. As far as its basis is concerned, the new philosophy is nothing but the essence of feeling raised to consciousness – it only affirms in the form and through the medium of reason what every man – every real man – admits in his heart. It is the heart made aware of itself as reason. The heart demands real and sensuous objects, real and sensuous beings.
The old philosophy maintained that that which could not be thought of also did not exist; the new philosophy maintains that that which is not loved or cannot be loved does not exist. But that which cannot be loved can also not be adored. That which is the object of religion can alone be the object of philosophy.
Love is not only objectively but also subjectively the criterion of being, the criterion of truth and reality. Where there is no love there is also no truth. And only he who loves something is also something – to be nothing and to love nothing is one and the same thing. The more one is, the more one loves, and vice versa.
The old philosophy had its point of departure in the proposition: I am an abstract, a merely thinking being to which the body does not belong. The new philosophy proceeds from the principle: I am a real and sensuous being. Indeed, the whole of my body is my ego, my being itself. The old philosopher, therefore, thought in a constant contradiction to and conflict with the senses in order to avoid sensuous conceptions, or in order not to pollute abstract concepts. In contrast, the new philosopher thinks in peace and harmony with the senses. The old philosophy conceded the truth of sensuousness only in a concealed way, only in terms of the concept, only unconsciously and unwillingly, only because it had to. This is borne out even by its concept of God as the being who encompasses all other beings within himself, for he was held to be distinct from a merely conceived being; that is, he was held to be existing outside the mind, outside thought – a really objective, sensuous being. In contrast, the new philosophy joyfully and consciously recognises the truth of sensuousness: It is a sensuous philosophy with an open heart.
The philosophy of the modern era was in search of something immediately certain. Hence, it rejected the baseless thought of the Scholastics and grounded philosophy on self-consciousness. That is, it posited the thinking being, the ego, the self-conscious mind in place of the merely conceived being or in place of God, the highest and ultimate being of all Scholastic philosophy; for a being who thinks is infinitely closer to a thinking being, infinitely more actual and certain than a being who is only conceived. Doubtful is the existence of God, doubtful is in fact anything I could think of; but indubitable is that I am, I who think and doubt. Yet this self-consciousness in modern philosophy is again something that is only conceived, only mediated through abstraction, and hence something that can be doubted. Indubitable and immediately certain is only that which is the object of the senses, of perception and feeling.
True and divine is only that which requires no proof, that which is certain immediately through itself, that which speaks immediately for itself and carries the affirmation of its being within itself; in short, that which is purely and simply unquestionable, indubitable, and as clear as the sun. But only the sensuous is as clear as the sun. When sensuousness begins all doubts and quarrels cease. The secret of immediate knowledge is sensuousness.
All is mediated, says the Hegelian philosophy. But something is true only when it is no longer mediated; that is when it is immediate. Thus, new historical epochs originate only when something, having so far existed in the mediated form of conception, becomes the object of immediate and sensuous certainty; that is, only when something – erstwhile only thought – becomes a truth. To make out of mediation a divine necessity or an essential quality of truth is mere scholasticism. The necessity of mediation is only a limited one; it is necessary only where a wrong presupposition is involved; where a different truth or doctrine, contradicting an established one which is still held to be valid and respected, arises. A truth that mediates itself is a truth that still has its opposite clinging to it. The opposite is taken as the starting point, but is later on discarded. Now, if it is all along something to be discarded or negated, why should I then proceed from it rather than from its negation? Let us illustrate this by an example. God as God is an abstract being; he particularises, determines, or realises himself in the world and in man. This is what makes him concrete and hereby is his abstract being negated. But why should I not proceed directly from the concrete? Why, after all, should that which owes its truth and certainty only to itself not stand higher than that whose certainty depends on the nothingness of its opposite? Who would, therefore, give mediation the status of necessity or make a principle of truth out of it? Only he who is still imprisoned in that which is to be negated; only he who is still in conflict and strife with himself. Only he who has not yet fully made up his mind – in short, only he who regards truth as a matter of talent, of a particular, albeit outstanding faculty, but not of genius, not of the whole man. Genius is immediate sensuous knowledge. Talent is merely head, but genius is flesh and blood. That which is only an object of thought for talent is an object of the senses for genius.
The old absolute philosophy drove away the senses into the region of appearance and finitude; and yet contradicting itself, it determined the absolute, the divine as an object of art. But an object of art is – in a mediated form in the spoken, in an unmediated form in the plastic arts – an object of vision, hearing, and feeling. Not only is the finite and phenomenal being, but also the divine, the true being, an object of the senses – the senses are the organs of the absolute. Art "presents the truth by means of the sensuous" – Properly understood and expressed, this means that art presents the truth of the sensuous.
What applies to art, applies to religion. The essence of the Christian religion is not ideation but sensuous perception – the form and organ of the highest and divine being. But if sensuous perception is taken to be the organ of the Divine and True Being, the Divine Being is expressed and acknowledged as a sensuous being, just as the sensuous is expressed and acknowledged as the Divine Being; for subject and object correspond to each other.
"And the word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw its glory." Only for later generations is the object of the Christian religion an object of conception and fantasy; but this goes together with a restoration of the original sensuous perception. In Heaven, Christ or God is the object of immediate sensuous perception; there he turns from an object of conception and thought – that is, from a spiritual being which he is for us here – into a sensuous, feelable, visible being. And – remembering that the goal corresponds to the origin – this is, therefore, the essence of Christianity. Speculative philosophy has, therefore, grasped and presented art and religion not in the true light, not in the light of reality, but only in the twilight of reflection in so far as in keeping with its principle – abstraction from sensuousness – it dissolved sensuousness into the formal determinateness of art and religion: Art is God in the formal determinateness of sensuous perception, whereas religion is God in that of conception. But that which appears to reflection as a mere form is in truth essence. Where God appears and is worshiped in the fire, there it is that fire is in actual truth worshiped as God. God in the fire is nothing else than the being of fire which is so striking to men because of its effects and qualities; God in man is nothing else than the being of man. And, similarly, that which art represents in the form of sensuousness is nothing else than the very essence of sensuousness that is inseparable from this form.
It is not only "external" things that are objects of the senses. Man, too, is given to himself only through the senses; only as a sensuous object is he an object for himself. The identity of subject and object – in self-consciousness only an abstract thought – has the character of truth and reality only in man's sensuous perception of man.
We feel not only stones and wood, not only flesh and bones, but also feelings when we press the hands or lips of a feeling being; we perceive through our cars not only the murmur of water and the rustle of leaves, but also the soulful voice of love and wisdom; we see not only mirror-like surfaces and spectres of colour, but we also gaze into the gaze of man. Hence, not only that which is external, but also that which is internal, not only flesh, but also spirit, not only things, but also the ego is an object of the senses. All is therefore capable of being perceived through the senses, even if only in a mediated and not immediate way, even if not with the help of crude and vulgar senses, but only through those that are cultivated; even if not with the eyes of the anatomist and the chemist, but only with those of the philosopher. Empiricism is therefore perfectly justified in regarding ideas as originating from the senses; but what it forgets is that the most essential sensuous object for man is man himself; that only in man's glimpse of man does the spark of consciousness and intellect spring. And this goes to show that idealism is right in so far as it sees the origin of ideas in man; but it is wrong in so far as it derives these ideas from man understood as an isolated being, as mere soul existing for himself; in one word, it is wrong when it derives the ideas from an ego that is not given in the context of its togetherness with a perceptibly given You. Ideas spring only from conversation and communication. Not alone but only within a dual relationship does one have concepts and reason in general. It takes two human beings to give birth to a man, to physical as well as spiritual man; the togetherness of man with man is the first principle and the criterion of truth and universality. Even the certitude of those things that exist outside me is given to me through the certitude of the existence of other men besides myself. That which is seen by me alone is open to question, but that which is seen also by another person is certain.
The distinction between essence and appearance, cause and effect, substance and accident, necessity and contingency, speculative and empirical does not mean that there are two different realms or worlds – the supersensuous world which is essence, and the sensuous world which is appearance; rather, this distinction is internal to sensuousness itself. Let us take an example from the natural sciences. In Linnaeus's system of plants the first groups are determined according to the number of filaments. But in the eleventh group where twelve to twenty stamens occur – and more so in the group of twenty stamens and polystamens – the numerical determinations become irrelevant; counting is of no use any more. Here in one and the same area we have therefore, before us the difference between definite and indefinite, necessary and indifferent, rational and irrational multiplicity. This means that we need not go beyond sensuousness to arrive, in the sense of the Absolute Philosophy, at the limit of the merely sensuous and empirical; all we have to do is not separate the intellect from the senses in order to find the supersensuous – spirit and reason – within the sensuous.
The sensuous is not the immediate in the sense of speculative philosophy; i.e., in the sense in which it is the profane, the readily obvious, the thoughtless, the self-evident. According to speculative philosophy the immediate sensuous perception comes later than conception and fantasy. Man's first conception is itself only a conception based on imagination and fantasy. The task of philosophy and science consists, therefore, not in turning away from sensuous – i.e., real things – but in turning towards them – not in transforming objects into thoughts and ideas, but in making visible – i.e., objective – what is invisible to common eyes.
In the beginning men see things as they appear to them, not as they are. What they see in things is not they themselves, but their own ideas about them; they transpose their own being into things, and do not distinguish between an object and the idea of it. To the subjective and uncultivated man, imagined reality is closer than actually perceived reality, for in perceiving it he is compelled to move out of himself, but in imagining it he remains inside himself. And just as it is with imagination, so it is with thought. Initially and for far longer, men occupy themselves with heavenly, with divine things rather than with earthly things; that is, initially and for far longer they occupy themselves with things translated into thoughts rather than with things in the original, with things in their own innate language. Only in the modern era has mankind – as once in Greece after a foregoing era of the oriental dream-world – found its way back to a sensuous, i.e., unadulterated and objective perception of the sensuous or the real. But with this, it has also found its way back to itself, for a man who occupies himself only with creatures of the imagination and abstract thought is himself only an abstract or fantastic, not a real, not a truly human being. The reality of man depends on the reality of his objects. If you have nothing, you are nothing.
Space and time are not mere forms of appearance: They are essential conditions, rational forms, and laws of being as well as of thought. "Here-being" is the being that comes first, the being that is the first to be determined. Here I am – that is the first sign of a real and living being. The index finger shows the way from nothingness to being. Saying here is the first boundary, the first demarcation. I am here, you are there; in between there is a distance separating us; this is what makes it possible for both of us to exist without jeopardising each other; there is enough room. The sun is not where Mercury is, and Mercury is not where Venus is; the eye is not where the ear is, and so on. Where there is no space, there is also no place for any system. The first determination of reason upon which every other determination rests is to situate things. Although space immediately presupposes its differentiation into places, the organising work of nature begins with a distribution of locations. Only in space does reason orient itself. The first question asked by awakening consciousness, the first question of practical wisdom is: Where am I? The first virtue that we inculcate in the child, the raw material of man, is that of being limited by space and time, and the first difference that we teach it is the difference of place, the difference between what is proper and what is improper. What the distinction of place means is indifferent to the unfinished man; like the fool, he does everything at all places without distinction. Fools, therefore, achieve reason when they recover the sense for time and place. To put different things in different places, to allot different places to things that differ in quality – that is the condition for all economy including even that of the mind. Not to put in the text what belongs to the footnotes, not to put at the beginning what is to be put at the end, in short, spatial differentiation and limitation belong also to the wisdom of the writer.
It is true that we are speaking here of a definite kind of place; but even so the question is nothing else than that of the determination of place. And I cannot separate place from space were I to grasp space in its reality. The concept of space arises in me when I ask: Where? This question as to where is universal and applies to every place without distinction; and yet it is particular. As the positing of the particular "where" is simultaneously a positing of the universal "where," so the universality of space is posited with the particularity of place. But precisely for that reason the general concept of space can be a real and concrete concept only if it includes the particularity of place. Hegel attributes to space – as to nature in general – a negative determination. Nevertheless, "here-being" is positive. I am not there because I am here – this not – being-there is therefore only a consequence of the positive and emphatic here-being. The separation of here from there is by no means a limit in itself; only your imagination regards it as such. That they are separate is something that ought to be the case, something that does not contradict but corresponds to reason. But this separation is a negative determination in Hegel because it is a separation of that which ought not to be separate – because the logical concept, understood as absolute self-identity, is what Hegel regards as the truth; space is to him the negation of the Idea, of reason, and hence the only means by which reason can be put back into the Idea is to negate it (the Idea). But far from being the negation of reason, space is the first sphere of reason, for it is space that makes room for the idea, for reason. Where there are no spatial distinctions, there are also no logical distinctions. Or vice versa – should we depart, like Hegel, from Logic to space – where there is no distinction, there is no space. Distinctions in thought arise out of the activity of distinguishing; whatever arises out of the activity of distinguishing is spatially set apart. Spatial distinctions are, therefore, the truth of logical distinctions. But only that which exists separately can also be thought as forming a sequence. Real thought is thought in time and space. Even the negation of time and space (duration) must fall within time and space themselves. Only in order to gain time and space, do we wish to save them.
Things in thought should not be different from what they are in reality. What is separate in reality should not be identical in thought. To exclude thinking or ideas – the intellectual world of the neo-Platonists – from the laws of reality is the privilege of theological capriciousness. The laws of reality are also the laws of thought.
The immediate unity of opposite determinations is possible and valid only in abstraction. In reality, contradictory statements are always linked by means of an intermediary concept. This intermediary concept is the object to which those statements refer; it is their subject.
Nothing is therefore easier than to demonstrate the unity of opposite predicates; all one needs is to abstract from the object underlying the predicates or from the subject of these predicates. Once the object has thus vanished, the boundary between the opposites also vanishes; having no ground to stand on and nothing to hold on to, they immediately collapse and lose themselves in indistinction. If, for example, I regard being only as such, that is, if I abstract from every determination whatsoever, being will be the same for me as nothing. Determinateness is indeed the only difference or boundary between being and nothing. If I disregard that which is, what then is this mere "is" about? But what applies to this particular case of opposites and their identity applies to all other opposites in speculative philosophy.
The only means by which opposite or contradictory determinations are united in one and the same being in a way corresponding to reality is in time.
This is true at least in the case of living beings. Only here, for example in man, does the contradiction appear that I am now filled and swayed by this determination – this particular feeling, this particular intention – and now by another, opposite determination. Only where one idea ousts another, where one feeling drives the other out, where nothing is finally settled, where no lasting determination emerges, where the soul continually alternates between opposite states – there alone does the soul find itself in the hellish pain of contradiction. Were I to unite contradictory determinations within myself, the result would be their mutual neutralisation and loss of character, not unlike the opposite elements of a chemical process which lose their difference in a neutral product. But the pain of contradiction consists precisely in the fact that I passionately am and want to be at the present moment what I equally emphatically am not and do not want to be in the following, in the fact that positing and negating follow each other, both opposing each other and each, with the exclusion of the other, affecting me with all its determinateness and sharpness.
The real can be presented in thought not as a whole but only in parts. This distinction is normal; it lies in the nature of thought whose essence is generality as distinct from reality whose essence is individuality. That in spite of this distinction no formal contradiction may arise between thought and reality can be achieved only if thought does not proceed in a straight line or within its self-identity, but is interrupted by sensuous perception. Only that thought which is determined and rectified by sensuous perception is real objective thought – the thought of objective truth.
The most important thing to realise is that absolute thought, that is, thought which is isolated and cut off from sensuousness, cannot get beyond formal identity – the identity of thought with itself; for although thought or concept is determined as the unity of opposite determinations, the fact remains that these determinations are themselves only abstractions, thought-determinations – hence, always repetitions of the self-identity of thought, only multipla of identity as the absolutely true point of departure. The Other as counterposed to the Idea, but posited by the Idea itself, is not truly and in reality distinguished from it, not allowed to exist outside the Idea, or if it is, then only pro forma, only in appearance to demonstrate the liberality of the idea; for the Other of the Idea is itself Idea with the only difference that it does not yet have the form of the idea, that it is not yet posited and realised as such. Thought confined to itself is thus unable to arrive at anything positively distinct from and opposed to itself; for that very reason it also has no other criterion of truth except that something does not contradict the Idea or thought – only a formal, subjective criterion that is not in a position to decide whether the truth of thought is also the truth of reality. Ale criterion which alone can decide this question is sensuous perception. One should always hear the opponent. And sensuous perception is precisely the antagonist of thought. Sensuous perception takes things in a broad sense, but thought takes them in the narrowest sense; perception leaves things in their unlimited freedom, but thought imposes on them laws that are only too often despotic; perception introduces clarity into the head, but without determining or deciding anything; thought performs a determining function, but it also often makes the mind narrow; perception in itself has no principles and thought in itself has no life; the rule is the way of thought and exception to the rule is that of perception. Hence, just as true perception is perception determined by thought, so true thought is the thought that has been enlarged and opened up by perception so as to correspond to the essence of reality. The thought that is identical, and exists in an uninterrupted continuity, with itself, lets the world circle, in contradiction to reality, around itself as its center; but the thought that is interrupted through the observation as to the irregularity of this movement, or through the anomaly of perception, transforms this circular movement into an elliptical one in accordance with the truth. The circle is the symbol, the coat of arms of speculative philosophy, of the thought that has only itself to support itself. The Hegelian philosophy, too, as we know, is a circle of circles, although in relation to the planets it declares – and led to this by empirical evidence – the circular course to be "the course of a defectively regular movement"; in contrast to the circle, the ellipse is the symbol, the coat of arms of sensuous philosophy, of thought that is based on perception.
Only those determinations are productive of real knowledge which determine the object by the object itself, that is, by its own individual determinations but not those that are general, as for example the logico-metaphysical determinations that, being applicable to all objects without distinction, determine no abject.
Hegel was therefore quite justified in transforming the logico-metaphysical determinations from determinations of objects into independent determinations – namely, into the determinations of the Concept – quite justified in turning them from predicates – this is what they were in the old metaphysics – into subjects, thus attributing to metaphysics or logic the significance of a self-sufficient divine knowledge. But it is a contradiction when these logico-metaphysical shadows are made, in the concrete sciences in exactly the same way as in the old metaphysics, into the determinations of real things – something that is naturally possible only in so far as either the concrete determinations – that is, those that are appropriate because of their derivation from the object – are connected with the logico-metaphysical determinations, or the object is reduced to wholly abstract determinations in which it is no longer recognisable.
The real in its reality and totality, the object of the new philosophy, is the object also of a real and total being. The new philosophy therefore regards as its epistemological principle, as its subject, not the ego, not the absolute – i.e., abstract spirit, in short, not reason for itself alone – but the real and the whole being of man. Man alone is the reality, the subject of reason. It is man who thinks, not the ego, not reason. The new philosophy does not depend on the divinity; i.e., the truth of reason for itself alone. Rather, it depends on the divinity,. i.e., the truth of the whole man. Or, to put it more appropriately, the new philosophy is certainly based on reason as well, but on a reason whose being is the same as the being of man; that is, it is based not on an empty, colourless, nameless reason, but on a reason that is of the very blood of man. If the motto of the old philosophy was: “The rational alone is the true and real,” the motto of the new philosophy is: “The human alone is the true and real,” for the human alone is the rational; man is the measure of reason.
The unity of thought and being has meaning and truth only if man is comprehended as the basis and subject of this unity. Only a real being cognises real things; only where thought is not its own subject but the predicate of a real being is it not separated from being. The unity of thought and being is therefore not formal, meaning that being as a determination does not belong to thought in and for itself; rather, this unity depends on the object, the content of thought.
From this arises the following categorical imperative: Desire not to be a philosopher if being a philosopher means being different to man; do not be anything more than a thinking man; think not as a thinker, that is, not as one confined to a faculty which is isolated in so far as it is torn away from the totality of the real being of man; think as a living, real being, in which capacity you are exposed to the vivifying and refreshing waves of the ocean of the world; think as one who exists, as one who is in the world and is part of the world, not as one in the vacuum of abstraction, not as a solitary monad, not as an absolute monarch, not as an unconcerned, extra-worldly God; only then can you be sure that being and thought are united in all your thinking. How should thought as the activity of a real being not grasp real things and entities? Only when thought is cut off from man and confined to itself do embarrassing, fruitless, and, from the standpoint of an isolated thought, unresolvable questions arise: How does thought reach being, reach the object? For confined to itself, that is, posited outside man, thought is outside all ties and connections with the world. You elevate yourself to an object only in so far as you lower yourself so as to be an object for others. You think only because your thoughts themselves can be thought, and they are true only if they pass the test of objectivity, that is, when someone else, to whom they are given as objects, acknowledges them as such. You see because you are yourself a visible being, you feel because you are yourself a feelable being. Only to an open mind does the world stand open, and the openings of the mind are only the senses. But the thought that exists in isolation, that is enclosed in itself, is detached from the senses, cut off from man, is outside man – that thought is absolute subject which cannot or ought not to be an object for others. But precisely for that reason, and despite all efforts, it is forever unable to cross over to theobject , to being; it is like a head separated from the body, which must remain unable to seize hold of an object because it lacks the means, the organs to do so.
The new philosophy is the complete and absolute dissolution of theology into anthropology, a dissolution in which all contradictions have been overcome; for the new philosophy is the dissolution of theology not only in reason – this was effected by the old philosophy – but also in the heart. In short, in the whole and real being of man. In this regard, it is only the necessary outcome of the old philosophy; for that which was once dissolved in reason must dissolve itself in life, in the heart, in the blood of man; but as a new and independent truth, the new philosophy is also the truth of the old philosophy, for only a truth that has become flesh and blood is the truth. The old philosophy necessarily relapsed into theology, for that which is sublated only in reason, only in the concept, still has an antithesis in the heart. The new philosophy, on the other hand, cannot suffer such a relapse because there is nothing to relapse into; that which is dead in both body and soul cannot return even as a ghost.
It is by no means only through thinking that man is distinguished from the animal. Rather, his whole being constitutes his distinction from the animal. It is true that he who does not think is not a man; but this is so not because thinking is the cause, but only because it is a necessary consequence and quality of man's being.
Hence, here too we need not go beyond the realm of sensuousness in order to recognise man as a being superior to animals. Man is not a particular being like the animal; rather, he is a universal being; he is therefore not a limited and unfree but an unlimited and free being, for universality, being without limit, and freedom are inseparable. And this freedom is not the property of just one special faculty, say, the will, nor does this universality reside in a special faculty of thinking called reason; this freedom, this universality applies to the whole being of man. The senses of the animal are certainly keener than those of man, but they are so only in relation to certain things that are necessarily linked with the needs of the animal; and they are keener precisely because of the determination that they are limited by being exclusively directed towards some definite objects. Man does not possess the sense of smell of a hunting dog or a raven, but because his sense of smell encompasses all kinds of smell, it is free and also indifferent to particular smells. But where a sense is elevated above the limits of particularity and above being tied down to needs, it is elevated to an independent, to a theoretical significance and dignity – universal sense is intellect, and universal sensuousness is intellectuality. Even the lowest senses – smell and taste – are elevated in man to intellectual and scientific activities. The smell and taste of things are objects of natural science. Indeed, even the stomach of man, no matter how contemptuously we look down upon it, is something human and not animal because it is universal; that is, not limited to certain kinds of food. That is why man is free from that ferocious voracity with which the animal hurls itself on its prey. Leave a man his head, but give him the stomach of a lion or a horse, and he Will certainly cease to be a man. A limited stomach is compatible only with a limited, that is, animal sense. Man's moral and rational relationship to his stomach consists therefore in his according it a human and not a beastly treatment. He who thinks that what is important to mankind is stomach, and that stomach is something animal, also authorises man to be bestial in his eating.
The new philosophy makes man, together with nature as the basis of man, the exclusive, universal, and highest object of philosophy; it makes anthropology, together with physiology, the universal science.
Art, religion, philosophy, and science are only expressions or manifestations of the true being of man. A man is truly and perfectly man only when he possesses an aesthetic or artistic, religious or moral, philosophical or scientific sense. And only he who excludes from himself nothing that is essentially human is, strictly speaking, man. Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto – this sentence, taken in its universal and highest meaning, is the motto of the new philosophy.
The philosophy of Absolute Identity has completely mislocated the standpoint of truth. The natural standpoint of man, the standpoint of the distinction between “I” and “You,” between subject and object is the true, the absolute standpoint and, hence, also the standpoint of philosophy.
The true unity of head and heart does not consist in wiping out or covering up their difference, but rather in the recognition that the essential object of the heart is also the essential object of the head, or in the identity of the object. The new philosophy, which makes the essential and highest object of the heart – man – also the essential and highest object of the intellect, lays the foundation of a rational unity of head and heart, of thought and life.
Truth does not exist in thought, nor in cognition confined to itself. Truth is only the totality of man's life and being.
The single man in isolation possesses in himself the essence of man neither as a moral nor as a thinking being. The essence of man is contained only in the community, in the unity of man with man – a unity, however, that rests on the reality of the distinction between “I” and “You”.
Solitude means being finite and limited, community means being free and infinite. For himself alone, man is just man (in the ordinary sense); but man with man – the unity of “I” and “You” – that is God.
The absolute philosopher said, or at least thought of himself – naturally as a thinker and not as a man – “vérité c'est moi,”, in a way analogous to the absolute monarch claiming, “L’État c‘est moi,” or the absolute God claiming, “L’être c’est moi.” The human philosopher, on the other hand, says: Even in thought, even as a philosopher, I am a man in togetherness with men.
The true dialectic is not a monologue of the solitary thinker with himself. It is a dialogue between “I” and “You”.
The Trinity was the highest mystery, the central point of the absolute philosophy and religion. But the secret of the Trinity, as demonstrated historically and philosophically in the Essence of Christianity, is the secret of communal and social life – the secret of the necessity of a “You” for an “I”. It is the truth that no being whatsoever, be it man or God and be it called “spirit” or “I”, can be a true, Perfect, and absolute being in isolation, that the truth and perfection are only the union and unity of beings that are similar in essence. Hence, the highest and ultimate principle of philosophy is the unity of man with man. All essential relationships – the principles of various sciences – are only different kinds and modes of this unity.
The old philosophy possesses a double truth; first, its own truth – philosophy – which is not concerned with man, and second, the truth for man – religion. The new philosophy as the philosophy of man, on the other hand, is also essentially the philosophy for man; it has, without in the least compromising the dignity and autonomy of theory – indeed it is in perfect harmony with it – essentially a practical tendency, and is practical in the highest sense. The new philosophy takes the place of religion; it has within itself the essence of religion; in truth, it is itself religion.
All attempts undertaken so far to reform philosophy are not very different from the old philosophy to the extent that they are species belonging to the same genus. The most indispensable condition for a really new – i.e., independent – philosophy corresponding to the need of mankind and of the future is, however, that it distinguish itself in essence from the old philosophy.