F. H. Jacobi 1815

Introduction to the Author’s Collected Philosophical Works

The following Dialogue is connected with the work on the Doctrine of Spinoza. It was published in the spring of 1787, a year and a half after the first announcement of the Letters to Mendelssohn, and two years before the second edition appeared with its considerable appendices.

The claim put forward in the book on the Doctrine of Spinoza, namely, that all human cognition derives from revelation and faith, caused trouble everywhere in the German philosophical world. It simply could not be true that there is a knowledge at first hand that would first condition all knowledge of second hand (i.e. all science) – a knowledge without proofs that necessarily precedes all knowledge from proofs as its ground, and governs it always and in every respect.

The Dialogue that follows was written to justify the disputed claim, and to expose the utter absurdity, the naked mendacity, of all the accusations that were being levelled against me because of it – that I was an enemy of reason, a preacher of blind faith, one who despises science and especially philosophy, an enthusiast, a Papist.

At the time of its publication the author was somewhere between the still predominant system of the Leibnizian-Wolffian school (to whose followers it was mostly directed) and the new doctrine of Kant which was gaining ground fast. His own convictions diverged from them both, and the Dialogue had some impact on the thought of his contemporaries at that time. From the philosophical point of view, it was considered to be quite significant; let us hope that it will still make itself felt and be influential even now, according to the measure of the truth that is in it and its historical significance. The situation has changed of course, but the circumstances are still similar.

Because I did not want to do violence to its historical significance, I have not allowed myself to make any improvements to the Dialogue in this new edition that would have removed it from its time and falsified it as a historical document.

After all, why should I want to hide the fact that thirty years ago I may have made mistakes – as if I couldn’t still make mistake now? Do I really think that I am now free of all error? Do I believe that I have grasped the truth so well at this moment, that from now on neither I nor anyone else will have to do anything for it or in virtue of it in the future? Fools might boast of their riches before the crowd, boast that they have had their fill and have now enough. And then they might even want to persuade the credulous, and actually succeed in persuading them, that in truth they have never erred, but have appeared to contradict themselves in so many instances only because it is not possible for the higher Spirit to communicate itself to the lower one all at once, and to reveal itself entirely. But as for us, we prefer to boast instead that, through our earnest and continued striving to acquire a knowledge that satisfies the spirit, a science of the truth, we have only become ever more deeply aware of our distance from it. At the same time, however, and by the same token, we have also become ever more certain of the actuality of truth, and, in the truth, of what is good and beautiful in itself.

But perhaps the dialogue has a lasting value itself, in its original form, apart from what it meant and accomplished in its time, a value which drastic changes could only diminish, even though they might pass for improvements in my view and that of many others. There is indeed only one way to philosophy for everyone, that of self-understanding, but even this one way is something different for each mind according to its richness and depth. The writer who has won new insights by dint of deep and prolonged thought is often most effective in conveying them to others of like mind when he offers them as they come, without a second thought, at the moment of their first conception. As a rule he still does not understand himself entirely at that point; but precisely because of this others can take all the more freely from him, and may even understand each other better on his terms perhaps, than he will later be able to understand himself from his own words.

What the author now objects to in this Dialogue, which was an early work, is that he still does not distinguish between understanding and reason in it with all the sharpness and determinateness he achieved in his later writings. As long as he failed to do this, he continued to be embarrassed by the ambiguity of the word “reason,” and he had to get rid of that ambiguity before he could achieve his aim. At that stage he still could not give a proper philosophical bearing to his fundamental doctrine of a power of faith that surpasses the faculty of demonstrative science.

At first sight it seems that a sharply defined distinction between understanding and reason ought not to pose a difficulty, for we make this distinction constantly, without ever erring thereby, whenever we distinguish between animal and man in general. Nobody has ever spoken of an animal reason, but we do all know and speak of a merely animal understanding.

We also recognize several levels in it. Do we not place the dog, the horse, the elephant, far above the bull or the sow? Yet, at no level is the animal any closer to reason; they all fall short of it equally, the more perfect ones just as much the least perfect, that is, they all lack it completely.

But how can there be a merely animal understanding which appears at times to exceed that of humanity, but absolutely no animal reason? A thorough study of this question ought to yield a solution to the mystery.

The animal perceives only what pertains to the sensible, whereas the human being, who is endowed with reason, is aware of the supersensible as well. And we call the organ with which we are aware of the supersensible, reason, just as we call what we see with, our eyes. The animal lacks the organ for the awareness of the supersensible, and because of this lack the concept of a merely animal reason is an impossible one. Man possesses the organ, and it is only with it and through it that he is a rational being. If what we call reason were merely the product of a faculty of reflection resting on sense experience alone, then all the talk of supersensible things would be only prattle. Reason would have, as such, no foundation; it would be a poetic fancy. If it is truly revelatory however, then there comes to be a human understanding through it which is exalted above the animal one – an understanding, that knows about God, about freedom and virtue, the true, the beautiful and the good.

There is nothing in man higher than an understanding and a will enlightened by reason, not even reason itself. For consciousness of reason and its revelations is only possible in an understanding. And with this consciousness the living soul comes to be a rational being, i.e. a human being.

We do not attribute reason to God any more than we attribute senses to him. He, the Self-Sufficient One, needs no organs. It is proper to Him to be the perfectly independent self-contained Being that knows Itself – the pure understanding that surpasses every other; the pure, almighty will.

These views, which for the author became perfectly clear and turned into definite cognitions only later in the course of many struggles over them, were still blurred at the time when he published the dialogue On Idealism and Realism by the fog of the representations that then prevailed.

Like all other contemporary philosophers, he called something that is not reason by the name of “reason" – i.e. the mere faculty of concepts, judgments, and inferences, that hovers above the senses but is unable to reveal anything at all by itself. But what reason truly is in actuality, i.e. the faculty of presupposing the true, the good, and the beautiful in itself, with full assurance of the objective validity of the presupposition – this the author expounded under the tide “power of faith,” as a faculty that is above reason. This was bound to give occasion to serious misunderstandings, and involved the author himself generally in unsurmountable difficulties in expressing and presenting his true meaning.

Encumbered though it was by this weakness, the dialogue found an audience. Some of the best minds were convinced by further independent reflection that, far from wanting to injure the dignity of reason, the only purpose of the new doctrine was the restoration of reason in its full measure.

Ever since Aristotle the growing tendency among the schools has always been to subordinate immediate knowledge to mediated cognition.

The faculty of perception that originally grounds everything has been subordinated to the faculty of reflection, which is conditioned by abstraction – in other words, the prototype has been subordinated to the ectype; or the essence to the word, and reason to understanding.

Indeed, reason has been allowed to sink into understanding entirely, and to disappear in it. From now on nothing was to count as true that was not demonstrable, i.e. amenable to a double proof by turns: in intuition and in the concept, in the fact and in its image or word. And it was only in the latter, in the word, that the fact truly lay and could actually be known. Now, because of the preeminence of the second over the first, this showing and re-showing proved to be appropriate to the understanding, but not to reason. Hence reason was declared incompetent to wield the sceptre in the kingdom of true science. So even though, remarkably enough, reason was still accorded the royal title and the ornament of the crown, the sceptre was delivered to the understanding. As for those who did not conform – the realists of reason, i.e. those loyal to a genuinely original reason – for them the supporters of the new dynasty, the merely nominal rationalists, invented a nickname. They called them the “philosophers of feeling” or “of sentiment.” Long ago, the might of the Merovingian Kings gradually devolved into the hands of their head stewards (majores domus) in this same way. These stewards too reigned, not in their own name but in that of another, until at last, because of the situation created by their constant encroachment, it was possible to put the following case of conscience to the Holy Father: To whom does the dignity of royalty properly belong? To the inept heir to the throne, or to him who in fact presides competently over the kingdom? Pope Zachary decided for the second.

In the case of reason and understanding of course there was no such official and public verdict. The word “reason” was not banned from philosophical language as a royal name. It was retained, and was even allowed outwardly to keep the meaning of a faculty different from the understanding, and preeminent over it. But inwardly the meaning disappeared, because everyone became convinced that reason would be set against itself if it trusted itself without further ado (blindly, as it was put); if it claimed for itself a knowledge without proofs (a groundless knowledge, it was said), and wanted to preside over the understanding as an unconditioned authority.

Since the time of its inception with Aristotle, this error has assumed very different shapes in the subsequent philosophical schools, until Kant finally bound the Protheus, and forced him to manifest himself in his true shape.

The objection just lately repeatedly made against this great reformer is incomprehensible. It has been alleged that through the elevation of reason over the understanding, which he was the first to have attempted, he has turned everything in philosophy up side down, and has given rise to a Babel of languages in it. The truth is quite the reverse.

The Babel-like confusion was there in the first place, and the cause of it was that the senses alone were in truth at the basis of the understanding, in accordance with the Aristotelian dictum: Nihilest in intellectu, quod non anteafuerit in sensu. But it was still pretended that a knowledge of supersensible things could be acquired simply through progressive abstraction and reflection, and by converting the lowest into the highest. The faculty for raising sense-cognitions to supersensible ones in this way, without further ado, was called reason, and the claim was made that the true-in-itself is actually comprehended with it and through it in virtue of this reason, and a reliable science of the true in itself is thus achieved.

Kant appeared on the scene, examined this edifice of Babel, and demonstrated incontrovertibly that it is in no way possible to come with it to a pinnacle that penetrates the clouds of the senses, touching the beyond of appearances. Or to speak without metaphors: He showed that what are paraded as cognitions of the supersensible are ideas generated only through negations; their validity must forever remain unprovable.

What follows then? – If it is quite impossible according to Kant’s explanations and proofs to gain a true and actual cognition of the self-referring truth that lies at the foundation of appearances, must not his doctrine, like that of the Aristotelians, either issue with rigorous consistency in plain materialism or not leave even the shadow of something substantial and true for cognition? It would of course have to do that, unless some hitherto unknown philosophical power intervened to prevent it. And so Transcendental Idealism appeared, and mediated all. Reason, which had been submerged into the understanding theoretically, could now rise again above it practically.

It could institute and command a. faith in what lies above the senses and the understanding, and even above reason, a faith that outweighs any knowledge.

The only fault of this Kantian antidote for the materialism that was the necessary consequence of Kant’s disquisitions and proofs is that its power is too great. It purifies the senses to such an extent that, after the purification, they entirely lose the property of being a faculty of perception.

We experience the fact that we nowhere experience anything true through the senses; and therefore we do not experience anything true through the understanding either, because (as the Kantian teaching would have it) the understanding can only refer to this sensibility and would be entirely empty and destitute of function without the material delivered to it by the senses alone. So Transcendental Idealism, or the Kantian Critique, that was supposed to make true science possible for the first time, lets science vanish into science instead, the understanding into the understanding, each and every cognition into one universal non-ground from which there would be no rescue if reason, which died only an apparent death, did not now decide to raise itself up again out of its make-believe grave, bursting out of it by force, and ascending above the world and all that lies in it more glorious than ever before, crying out with victorious voice: “Behold, I make all things anew!” The Dialogue On Idealism and Realism, which was published a year earlier than Kant’s Critique of Practical Reason, considers only the first, theoretical, part of his system. It objected that that first part leads to nihilism, and that it does so with such an all-devastating power that no rearguard intervention could recoup what had been lost. It was lost once and for all.

Every philosophy that denies man a higher faculty of perception (one that is not in need of sense intuition) but undertakes to rise from the senses to the supersensible, from the finite to the infinite, simply through protracted reflection upon what is visible to the senses, and upon the laws for the imaginative projection of this visible into the understanding – any such philosophy (and this includes therefore also the philosophy of the immortal Leibniz) must ultimately lose itself, above and below, in a clear and bare void of cognition. For the author of the Dialogue On Idealism and Realism, this insight had not yet acquired the clarity and perfection which gave him the courage later, once he had achieved it, to found his entire philosophy upon the firm faith that immediately emerges from a knowing not-knowing and is in truth identical with it. This faith dwells in every man just as certainly as, in virtue of his rationality, every man necessarily presupposes a truth in itself, and a goodness and beauty that is no mere non-nothing. And he only becomes man with this presupposition, and through it.

By adding the restriction nisi ipse intelkctus, except the intellect itself, to the famous dictum of Aristotle that we have already cited, Nihil est in intellectu, quod non antea fuerit in sensu, Leibniz was able to escape from the coarser type of materialism and from plain sensualism well enough.

But he did not actually escape at all to a truly real supersensible realm above that world of the senses which he had dissolved and made equal to nothing.

But what use is it to be raised above nothingness only to find oneself in the void, where we are deceived by fictions rather than by appearances? This is no genuine elevation but is more like a flight in dreams, when we never move at all. Kant destroyed this dream, and by this deed he elevated himself above Leibniz and above all his predecessors since Aristotle. – He destroyed the dream by proving quite decisively that a faculty of understanding that only constructs concepts and only reflects upon the world of the senses and upon itself, if it reaches out beyond the region of the senses, can only reach to the void; and in that void it only grasps its own shadow extending to infinity on all sides. He proved this against false rationalism (we must repeat the point here again because of its importance), i.e. against the merely nominalist rationalism that mistakes being awake for dreaming, and dreaming for being awake, so that it really makes everything stand on its head.

But this teaching as good as says that.”.. not only is everything supersensible a fiction, and its concept empty of content; but just for this reason everything is ultimately sensible.” Hence it follows that either this claim is to be assumed as valid (neatly cutting man off from all cognition of the truth) or the truth must be known in opposition to it through a higher faculty to which it announces itself in appearances and above them, in a way that escapes the senses and the understanding.

In actual fact, then, the Kantian philosophy does rest on such a higher faculty. And it does not rest on it only at the end, as it might seem, in order to add to itself by violence an indispensable “keystone of the edifice of philosophy, without which the latter would collapse upon itself and plunge into an abyss of scepticism that the master-builder himself has opened up.” It rests on it, rather, from the very beginning, at the place where that higher faculty, through the absolute presupposition of a thing in itself, actually lays the foundation and cornerstone of the edifice.

For this thing-in-itself is revealed to the faculty of cognition neither in the appearances nor through them – though only with them, in an utterly positive or mystical fashion, incomprehensible both to the senses and to the understanding.

Even in the first and purely theoretical part of Kant’s Critique of Reason, we have the thought of a power of cognition innate in man “that feels a much higher need than merely to spell out appearances according to a synthetic unity, in order to be able to read them as experience.

Reason,” which is this faculty of cognition, “naturally exalts itself to cognitions so far transcending the bounds of experience that no given empirical object can ever coincide with them, but which must none the less be recognized as having their own reality, and which are by no means mere fictions of the brains.” And that is how it is, truly! – But it is just as true that Kant’s doctrine contradicts itself on this point, for implicitly it subordinates the understanding to reason, just as it subordinates reason to the understanding explicitly. And the actual result is a confusion that can with some aptness be called a babel.

How it could happen that a profound thinker like Kant, could make this mistake, and contradict himself without himself discovering it – this I have explained in my essay Of Divine Things and Their Revelation, in a way that leaves no blot on the reputation of that truly great man. While referring to that essay, I only want to add here some remarks about my distinctive qualitative distinction between reason and understanding, that sets me at variance with Kant – not to compel those readers to understand who have no wish to, but only to ease the task of those who wish to do it right and in full, and happen to be especially keen to be set straight on this subject.

In the Introduction to the Transcendental Logic Kant remarks, quite rightly, that “of the two properties of the mind, the senses and the understanding, neither must be given preference over the other, since thought without content is empty, and intuitions without concepts are blind.

Hence the union of the two faculties is necessary, if there is to be human cognition.” To this I add: Just as the understanding ought not to be given preference over the senses, nor the senses over the understanding, so too reason ought not to be given preference over the understanding, nor the understanding over reason.

Without the understanding we would have nothing in our senses.

There would be no power to unite them intrinsically (and this power is indispensable even for the life of the lowest animal): sensible-being itself would not be.

In the same way, without the understanding we would have nothing in reason: rational being itself would not be.

Likewise man is elevated above what is animal simply and solely by the property of reason. If we abstract from this property (which distinguishes the genus “man” essentially from the genus “animal,” and pertains absolutely and exclusively to man), then what is so often claimed would be perfectly correct, namely that the difference between an orangutan and a native of California or of Tierra del Fuego is much less than that between the Californian or Patagonian and a Plato, Leibniz or Newton.

The implication of this claim comes out even more clearly if we put it in the following way: taken as one degree of being versus another degree of being, the difference between the more perfect animal, the elephant for instance or the beaver, and the more imperfect one, the oyster or the polyp, is strikingly greater than the difference between the humans we call uncivilized and the so called higher animals.

So the plain truth is that if “man” has no other advantage over “animals” than a higher view of the one identical sense-material furnished to the more perfect animals by their sense-organs, then he in fact differs from “animals” only in degree, not in kind and essence. The superiority of the human understanding over that of the animal would only be, then, like the superiority of an eye equipped with a microscope or telescope over one without it.

In my opinion, the question whether man is distinguished from animal according to kind and not only according to degree, i.e. through less or more of the same powers, is therefore one and the same as the question, “Is human reason an understanding only hovering above the intuitions of the senses and in reality only referring back to these, or is it a higher faculty that gives man a positive revelation of the true, the good, and the beautiful in itself, and does not just lead him to believe empty images (ideas) devoid of objective reference?” The first alternative, that man is distinguished from animal, reason from understanding, not according to kind but degree only, not qualitatively but merely quantitatively, has been basically the opinion of all non-Platonic philosophers, from Aristotle all the way to Kant, however diverse or even radically opposed in appearance their doctrinal edifices might have been.

In his remarkable final main section of the Critique of Pure Reason (which deserves close attention) Kant puts the Aristotelian rationalists and the Aristotelian sensualists on a scale and weighs them against each other; he finds that in one-sidedness and incoherence they are both equal. I agree with that judgment completely; and like Kant I consider the naked and unmixed sensualism of Epicurus superior as system not only to the mixed sensualism of Locke but also to the mutilated Platonism of Leibniz that collapses into Spinozism because of its mutilation.

(See Letters Concerning the Doctrine of Spinoza, Appendix vi).

What divides me from the Kantian doctrine is only what divides it from itself too, and makes it incoherent, namely that, as we have shown earlier, it both presupposes and denies the existence of two specifically distinct sources of cognition in man’s mind. It presupposes them implicitly and unbeknownst to itself. But it denies them explicitly, openly, and radically.

The Kantian doctrine begins with the claim that apart from sense intuition (empirical and pure) there is no other source of cognition from which the understanding could draw concepts that are objectively valid and would truly enlarge its knowledge. It proceeds from this claim explicitly and openly, abiding by it to the end, and substantiating it all the way.

Although it is called a second source of cognition, the understanding itself is not truly that, since objects cannot be given through it but can only be thought. To think means to judge. Judgment, however, presupposes the antecedent concept, and the concept presupposes intuition.

One cannot think without knowing that there is something outside of thought to which it must conform – which it must verify. If there are a priori intuitions that condition actual experience itself, then there can also be a priori concepts and judgments that are independent of it, i.e. that are formed prior to experience. But according to Kant (see Cr. of Pure R., [B ] p. 677), unless something is given, either in pure or in empirical intuition, the understanding that arises from the basic faculty of the mind, the imagination, cannot develop to the point of attaining an actual existence. Consequently, understanding is conditioned by the senses, to which it always refers in its thinking as just a means. (Cr. of Pure K, [B] p. 33).

The understanding, however, as from concepts it begets concepts of concepts, and thus makes its way gradually up to ideas, can easily give the impression that, in virtue of these merely logical phantoms arising for it above the intuitions of the senses, it has truly taken flight above the world of the senses and above itself, and that this flight gives to it, not just the faculty, but the most decisive criterion, for a higher science independent of intuition, i.e. a science of the supersensible.

This error of the understanding, Kant says, “comes about through an illusion that has its necessary ground in the constitution of the human faculty of cognition, in such a way that even the sharpest critique cannot eradicate it, but can only prevent it from deceiving us.” (Cr. of Pure R., [B]p. 670).

The whole theoretical part of Kant’s philosophy is directed precisely to this end: the exposure of a false, self-deceiving, rationalism that counterfeits science.

The radical exposure of this self-deception was also the radical and irrevocable destruction of it.

And so, for the time being, “at least an empty space was won” for genuine rationalism. This is Kant’s truly great deed, his immortal contribution.

But the commonsense of our wise man kept him from harbouring any illusion that this empty space would not inevitably and immediately be transformed into a truth-devouring abyss (unless some God intervened to stop that from happening).

This is where Kant’s teaching and mine meet; and because they lead to similar results from this point onwards, it seems as if they ought to find themselves in company farther back as well, and that they can coincide in one identical teaching. But this is impossible because of the irreconcilability of the original presuppositions upon which they are based – my doctrine being based on the presupposition that there is perception understood in the strongest sense, and that its actuality and truth, even though it is an incomprehensible miracle, must none the less be accepted absolutely; Kant’s, on the quite opposite assumption (a hoary heritage of the schools) that there is strictly speaking no perception. In other words man receives through his senses only representations that might indeed refer to objects present on their own independently of these representations, but contain nothing that pertains strictly to those objects; and the human understanding is only a reflection of these representations, just as man’s so called reason is in turn only a reflection of the understanding, so that the comprehension of something supersensible, or something true on its own, must be impossible for man, and must remain forever impossible.

On the presupposition that the representations of the outer senses not only might refer to something that is present independently of them and that we call the “thing in itself but actually do refer to it beyond doubt – on this presupposition, these representations are called appearances; and, from this denomination (simply and solely because of it), it follows that the presupposition itself is necessary. For it would indeed be nonsensical to speak of appearances without assuming that there is something that appears. (Cr. of Pure R., [B] pp. xxvi, xxvii) But apparently it is not nonsensical to speak of “appearances” and yet claim that nothing at all of the actual truth and true actuality that lies hidden behind them is revealed to the faculty of cognition in them and through them. It is not nonsensical to give this name to these representations that present only themselves; to call these unmitigated ghosts “appearances,” even though only a rare, amazing mind, one that begets only empty ghosts of this sort, is in fact displaying itself in them.

And, according to Kant, even this mind cannot in truth display itself.

For we remain ignorant of why we must necessarily create the pure fundamental ghosts of space and time in our minds, and why, in order to produce what we call “cognitions,” we are bound to just twelve root-concepts, precisely these and no other. (Cr. of Pure R., [B] pp. 145, 146) Thus the pathway of Kantian philosophy leads necessarily to a system of absolute subjectivity. But just for this reason it is the favourite of the kind of understanding that only interprets, the one we call “philosophical” and that, ultimately, does not explain but only ingests. Opposed to it, there is only the reason that warns us against this pathway. This is the reason that gives us a positive revelation, that judges unconditionally instead of just explaining. Or again, it is the natural faith of reason. The pathway of the Jacobian doctrine, since it leads just as necessarily to a system of absolute objectivity, displeases the understanding that only feeds on what can be conceptualized (even when this understanding also calls itself philosophical reason); on its side it only has the reason that does not interpret but reveals immediately, or the natural faith of reason.

If the Kantian doctrine squarely rejected natural faith as completely illusory, then it would remain free of contradictions and incontestable (at least in this respect). But, instead, it undeniably proceeds from natural faith in a material world present independently of our representations; and it does away with this faith only retroactively, through the doctrine of the absolute ideality of everything spatial or temporal – in such a way that, as I have put it some time ago, it is impossible to enter into the system without proceeding from natural faith as a firm and stable foundation and yet also impossible to take up residence and abide in it with that faith. Later on, Kant himself was not satisfied with just natural faith [in an independent world]: “It still remains a scandal to philosophy and to human reason in general that the existence of things outside us (from which we derive the whole material of knowledge, even for our inner sense – to which we owe the “I”) must be accepted merely on faith, and that if anyone thinks good to doubt their existence, we are unable to counter his doubts by any satisfactory proof.” In order to heal this infirmity of philosophy, he invented a demonstration which (amazingly enough) refuted the earlier incomplete or half-way idealism of Descartes, Malebranche, and Berkeley, through an idealism that was entire and complete, his own Universal-Idealism. But then, this idealism, which dissolved both the world of spirits and that of bodies equally into nothingness, has been declared ever since the Prolegomena not to be “Idealism” at all, but Critical Philosophy.

At the foundation of every idealism lies the argument that the matter of our representations can only be sensation, a modification of our own self, indeed, that it is impossible for objects that subsist independently outside us to be hauled into the soul, like equipment into a room, through the eye, the ear, and the touch of the hand, or that their properties should stray over into our faculty of representation. So, on the assumption that there are actual objects outside the representations corresponding to them, we are merely affected by them, without receiving with such affections, and through them, any knowledge whatever about what the objects might be on their own.

Kantian Idealism simply assumes that there are objects corresponding to the representations, and on this basis it pretends to be a non-idealism.

For, as Kant says, idealism consists in the claim that there is no other being than thinking being; the remaining things that we suppose ourselves to perceive in intuition are only representations in the thinking beings (images) to which no object outside them actually corresponds.

Nothing of this sort, he continues, is being asserted by his idealism (i.e. Transcendental Idealism), but the very opposite instead, namely, that the /is impossible without the Thou. – "In that I demonstrate that even the inner experience of the I am is only possible on the assumption of external experience, I pay Idealism back with its own coin, only in reverse order and with greater right.” (Cr. of Pure R., [B] pp. 274ff., ibid., p. 519) All right! But what is actually gained by this turning of tables in virtue of which the Cartesian cogito, ergo sum only comes to be confronted by a similarly constituted “cogito ergo es"? [I think, therefore you are] Really there is no gain except the one that we have pointed to already, and that we are pleased to repeat once more: namely that a complete, and hence thoroughly consistent, Universal Idealism, one that encompasses both worlds, has replaced all the previous half-hearted, and hence inconsistent, idealism.

The most shocking thing in all this is, however, the claim itself that it would be a scandal for philosophy, and human reason in general, if there were no proof of the independent existence outside the faculty of representation of objects corresponding to our sense-intuitions, whereas, according to the same Critical thought, it is not, or ought not, to be a scandal for philosophy and human reason in general to have to admit that we are incapable of verifying scientifically (or proving) the reality of the objects of the concepts of reason, or the objective validity of the ideas, i.e. that we cannot prove God’s existence, or the reality of freedom, and the substantiality and immortality of our own spirit. It is no scandal, therefore, to philosophy and human reason in general [to make] this open profession of impotence, knowledge of which is inseparable from the conviction that, as a science that actually and truthfully transcends the nothingness of the world of the senses, philosophy is impossible, hence impossible the very science for which (according to Critical Philosophy’s repeated assertions) all other sciences ought gladly to be sacrificed were it to be got hold of, since it is the one about which they all say, though only prophetically, that it comes “to give us a foundation for our greatest expectations and hopes in that final end wherein all the strivings of reason must ultimately be united” (Cr. of Pure R., [B ] p. 491) – impossible the science (to sum everything up finally in one word) that cannot be given up without reason itself being given up along with it, for reason is then certified to be not a true faculty of revelation but only a faculty of illusions, one constantly blocking the pathway of science with empty conjuring tricks, aping and teasing the understanding all the way.

Critical Philosophy meets this scandal, and avoids causing displeasure, by replacing in the practical part of the system the lack of proof for the objective validity of the ideas, which in the theoretical part it puts at centre-stage, with faith – not plain faith but a rational one, and as such elevated in full right above all the knowledge of the understanding which (according to the Critique) refers only to the experience of the senses.

But this rightful elevation of faith above knowledge – certain knowledge, which indeed directly contradicts it – would have been impossible if all our knowledge had not already been annulled in advance (as true, objective, knowledge) by means of Transcendental Idealism. So, this is how the matter truly stands: first Critical Philosophy undermines metaphysics theoretically, for the love of science; then, since everything now tends to sink into the wide open, bottomless, abyss of an absolute subjectivity, it undermines science practically, for the love of metaphysics.

In spirit, however, this doctrine of faith that Kant puts in place of the previous metaphysics he has just destroyed is as true as it is sublime.

There are instincts in man, and there is a law in him, that unceasingly commands him to prove himself mightier than the nature that surrounds him and pervades him from all sides. Hence there must glow in him a spark of that omnipotence which is the life of his life, or otherwise the lie is the root of his being. And in that case, in coming to know himself he would have, in despair, to perish within himself. But if truth is in him, so is freedom, and then the truest knowledge gushes out for him from his own will.

His conscience reveals to him that the almighty is not a nature eternally transforming only itself, according to the laws of an iron-clad necessity; but that above nature there is one mightier still, whose image man is.

* * *

By beholding God man produces in himself a pure heart and a certain spirit; outside himself, the good and the beautiful. Creative freedom, therefore, is no fictional concept. Its concept is one of a power of providence and miracles, of which man becomes aware in his rational personality through himself, a power that must be present in God in superabundance if nature derives from Him, and not He from nature – a night figure of fantasy that the daylight of science banishes.

Omnipotence without providence is blind fate. Providence cannot however be separated from freedom. For what would freedom be, without knowing and willing? And what, a will that comes after the deed, or only accompanies it? Yet although an invincible feeling – the witness of a perception through reason – forces us to ascribe freedom and providence to man, still, it is hard to avoid refusing them to him later in reflection, or even to avoid denying them altogether. For the two are each totally incomprehensible to the understanding, and hence appear impossible. What can be conceptualized is only a providence based upon experience, and not essentially different from the faculty of anticipating like instances that can also be found among the animals, not providence properly understood.

What is conceptualizable is only a freedom that has the cosmic law of causal connection above it, i.e. an activity that reproduces mechanically and in keeping with a universal system of impulse (no matter whether the impulse is dynamic or atomistic); not a freedom that produces itself and does so intentionally, a freedom that initiates works and deeds, and is for this reason the only freedom worthy of the name.

The assumption of an actual and true providence, and of freedom, not just in the highest but in every rational being, and the claim that these two properties reciprocally presuppose each other – this is what distinguishes my philosophy from every other, from Aristotle down to the present day.

Nothing that I have proposed in my various writings in defence of the philosophical recognition of the miracle of providence and freedom has been deemed worthy of formal discussion and examination by those of my contemporaries who are differently disposed. For they all judge in their heart that the freedom I am calling attention to is nothing but tiresome chance, absolute coincidence. And surely, whoever bases philosophy on this patent non-entity, not only does not deserve any attention, but justly deserves to be laughed at. But that no other base is left to them except blind necessity, the non-entity of an endless mechanism of nature – this they have refused to acknowledge, or at least to own up to.

This is how things stood thirty years ago; so they stand still. They will neither accept, with me, the providential efficacy of a miraculous force (such as I call “freedom”) as a Supreme and First [principle], as absolute starting [point]; nor declare themselves explicitly and consistently to be fatalists like Spinoza and other philosophers before and after him. They will not take the first option because the understanding, since it rests on the principle of causal connection throughout, can only see chaotic chance in anything opposite to necessary. And they will not take the second, because the proposition, “Everything that happens or is done happens or is done according to a universal necessity of nature,” has conscience and every human feeling against it, since it would put an end to all accountability and estimation of actions and works, to personality itself.

I am aware of the expedient which is resorted to in certain quarters in this predicament. Reason is said to be originally blind, and in this state it is called “absolute”; then it is identified with “necessity,” so that the latter is now presented as secretly rational, and in this way the scandal of a blind fate, of an irrational necessity, is speedily disposed of.

“If the concepts of the rational and the necessary are equivalent, as everybody concedes and as all languages testify,” so it is said, “if the rational is only the mirroring of the necessary, the representation that follows upon it in reflection, then it cannot be the case that the concepts of necessity and freedom are opposed concepts reciprocally annulling each other. Obviously the concepts of the free, the rational, and the necessary, collapse into the one concept of the unconditional, or of the eternal essence of things and the eternal primordial power present in it. The Free, therefore, does not hover above nature as its creator, as many dreamed in their childish days, and here and there still dream. It lies, rather, only at the ground of nature as its sole true being.” I shall not ask how anything could conceivably evolve or come out of this Free [being] which, as they say, does not hover above nature as its creator but lies at its ground as its sole true and unconditional being – this Free which is identical with the eternal essence of things and the eternal primordial power present in it, just as it is identical with reason, or more precisely, with the absolute reason which, in turn, is identical with necessity, both blind, though necessity precedes reason and leads it by its unfailing tread in the great work of evolving “entity” out of “non-entity.” I shall not ask how anything could conceivably evolve or come out of this Free, since for this immutable Eternal Being creating would be just as much of a contradiction as being created. I shall make only one comment instead, namely that according to this teaching Might is clearly the primordial starting point, a Might above which there is no other, and which Knowledge, Wisdom, and Goodness (even supposing that they are present as germs hidden in their ground, the All-encompassing-essence) would, therefore, not be in the least able to control and direct. But any such Might, above which there is no other, and over which neither Knowledge, nor Wisdom, nor Goodness can have governing control, is a blind Fate. And in no way will it become a truly rational being ruling with freedom, just because we invest it through the sound of a word with the name or surname of absolute Reason and Freedom, which is to say: Fate will not thereby become God.

What makes our God a true God, in opposition to Fate, is his providence.

Only where there is providence is there reason; and where reason is, there providence is too. For its part providence is spirit, and only the feelings of admiration, respect, and love, which manifest its presence, correspond to the things of spirit. We may well judge that an object is beautiful or perfect, without knowing in advance how it became so, whether through providence or without it. But we cannot admire the Might that has brought it into being, if this Might has brought it forth thoughtlessly, without purpose or design, according to the laws of a naked natural necessity.

Even the splendour and majesty of the heavens, that cast the still childlike man on his knees in prayer, no longer fill with awe the mind of one who knows the mechanism that moves the heavenly bodies, preserves them in their movement, and even shapes them. Such a one is no longer awed by his object, even though it is infinite; he is awed only by the human understanding that was able in a Copernicus, a Gassendi, Kepler, a Newton, or a Laplace, to rise above the object, put an end to wonder through science, rob the heavens of their God, the universe of its enchantment.

But even this admiration – of the faculty of cognition alone – would disappear if a future Hartley, an Erasmus Darwin, Condillac, or Bonnet were actually to succeed in laying out a mechanics of the human spirit for us that is just as all-encompassing, intelligible, and enlightening as the Newtonian mechanics of the heavens. Then we could no longer consciously honour either art, high science, or any virtue in truth; nor find them sublime, and treat them with devotion.

Yet the deeds and the accomplishments of the heroes of the human race – the life of a Socrates and an Epaminondas, the science of a Plato and a Leibniz, the poetic and plastic productions of a Homer, a Sophocles or a Phidias – would still be able to affect us aesthetically, and still arouse in our mind the kind of satisfaction that spills over into delight; just as the sensuous spectacle of the firmament would still be capable of affecting even the most accomplished student of a Newton or a Laplace, and still stir his mind with joy. But we would not be allowed to ask for the cause of such an emotion, for reflection would unfailingly answer: like a child you are only being deluded; just keep in mind that admiration is everywhere only the daughter of ignorance.

* * *

The jewel of our race is not a science that does away with all miracles, but a faith that stands next to science and is not to be surmounted by it – the faith in a Being who can only do miracles, and who also created man miraculously; the faith in God, freedom, virtue, and immortality. This faith is the distinguishing mark of the human race. One might say that it is the rational soul itself and for that reason it is not only older than all the systems invented by man or the arts taught by him but also, since it is a power that derives immediately from God, it is essentially exalted above all of them. Faith is the shadowing of divine knowledge and will in the finite spirit of man. And if we could transform it into knowledge, then, at the moment of fulfilment, what the serpent promised to the lustful Eve in Paradise would come to pass: we would be like God.

In the state of still uncultivated understanding, in which entire nations often persist for a long time, knowledge, and faith (i.e. the trust in the things we see, and the even firmer and more intimate trust in those that we do not see) appear so mixed together that from this state of intermingling all the strange phenomena in the history of humanity can be explained to everyone’s satisfaction: the crude as well as the refined fetishism, the worship of animals and stars, the innumerable types of idolatry and superstition, the multitude of absurd and contradictory systems.

The animal void of reason, incapable as it is of religion, is also incapable of superstition and the worship of false gods.

The moment the perceptions of sensible being begin to be dearly distinguished in human consciousness from the discernments^ of the supersensible, philosophy begins. In a confused way this distinction already occurs in the child who, while still in the cradle, tries with his babbling to speak, and, as mothers say, laughs with the angels. But many centuries must pass before an Anaxagoras appears on the scene to open up for the understanding (which in its scientific evolution has remained up to that moment in close communion with nature alone) the way to a higher development, the way to the knowledge of a spirit that rules over nature, a creative Intelligence.

Science exclusively devoted to nature might of course be able gradually to eliminate the pseudo-faith of superstition (which is perverted faith) by its own means alone. But it is not able to prevent genuine faith from being lost along with superstition. But this faith does not really get lost; rather, it sets up house next to science, and in full view of it, but higher up. The result is a doctrine that rises above the science of nature, and limits the concept of nature by means of the concept of freedom; yet, precisely by doing this, it truly widens the scope of the understanding.

In other words, the result is philosophy in Plato’s sense.

Like any other system of cognitions, philosophy too obtains its form from the understanding alone, as the faculty of concepts in general.

Without concepts no “repeat-consciousness"^ is possible, no consciousness of cognitions; hence, no distinguishing or comparing of these cognitions, no weighing of them, no pondering, no appraising; in a word, no actual taking possession of any truth whatever. On the contrary, the content of philosophy, what belongs just to it, is given to it by reason alone which is “the faculty of a cognition independent of sensibility, beyond its reach.” Reason does not produce concepts, it builds no system, and does not even judge; instead, like the external senses, it simply reveals, it makes positive proclamations.

This is to be held firm above all else: Just as there is an intuition of the senses, an intuition through the sense, so there is also a rational intuition through reason. The two of them stand facing each other as genuine sources of cognition. It is just as impossible to derive reason from sense as to derive sense from reason. And therefore, with respect to the understanding, and hence also to demonstration, they stand in the same relationship. No demonstration counts against the intuition of the senses, since every demonstration is only the bringing of the concept back to the sense intuition (empirical or pure) that justifies it. With respect to the knowledge of nature, this intuition is what is first and last, what is unconditionally valid, the absolute. And by the same token, no demonstration counts against rational intuition, or the intuition of reason, which gives us objects that transcend nature for our cognition, i.e. it makes us certain of their actuality and truth.

We have to make use of the expression “intuition of reason” because language does not possess any other way to signify how something that the senses cannot reach is given to the understanding in feelings of rapture, and yet given as something truly objective, and not merely imaginary.

Whenever someone says that he knows, we rightly ask him how he knows. Finally he must inevitably appeal to one of these two: either to the sensation of the sense or the feeling of the spirit. About what we know on the strength of the latter, we say that we believe it. This is how we all speak. We can only believe m virtue, hence in freedom, hence in the spirit and God. But the sensation that grounds knowledge upon sense intuition (what we call knowledge proper) stands no more above the feeling that grounds knowledge upon faith than the animal species stands above the human, or the material world above the intellectual, or nature above its creator.

And so we admit without fear that our philosophy begins with feeling, but with a feeling that is objective and pure; that it professes the authority of this feeling to be the highest; and that, in its role as a doctrine of the supersensible, it bases itself upon this authority alone.

We assert that the faculty of feelings is the one that is exalted above all others in man. It is this faculty alone that distinguishes him from all animals in species, and incomparably elevates him above them, i.e. in kind, and not just in degree. We assert that this faculty is one and the same as reason; or, as we could also quite properly say, that what we call “reason,” what we extol above the bare understanding devoted only to nature, originates simply and solely from our faculty of feelings. As the senses direct the understanding to sensation, so reason directs it to feeling. The representations of what we are directed to only in feeling we call “ideas.” To a degree the animals also possess understanding. And so must all living beings, for without the conscious function of connecting (which is the root of the understanding) there could not be a living individual.

But animals completely lack the faculty of feeling which is identical with reason, i.e. the incorporeal organ for the perception of the supersensible.

When we say of a man that he is without all feelings, we do not simply equate him to an animal but cast him way below, even lower than the animal, for we must assume that, as a man, he was endowed with feelings by nature, and that he could only have divested himself of them freely.

Hence, even though animals are totally incapable of the knowledge of the good, the true and the beautiful, we can still love them, and enter into a sort of friendly relationship with them. But we look upon the man who is not incapable of that knowledge but has estranged himself from it unnaturally, either in horror, as a disgusting monster, or with fright and loathing, as a satanic being.

So once more: the faculty of feelings or the lack of it is what distinguishes animal from man. Where there is no reason, there are no objective feelings either, i.e. feelings that immediately present to consciousness something that is external to them. And where there are such feelings, there reason too is unfailingly present. There, freedom, virtue, wisdom, art and the knowledge of God reveal themselves and actively press forward.

* * *

Against the doctrine of rational intuitions, or of pure feelings and their objectivity, stand united in revolt all those who simply will not hear of a spirit certain of himself who guides everywhere in the truth immediately, but will only countenance the certitude of the letter, without which the spirit would be of no use but that, in its perfection, even makes the spirit superfluous; the letter that first gives birth to the only genuinely certain spirit, and then administers to it. This letter they call science.

What you call the certain spirit (these men tell us) is an uncertain will-of-the-wisp, a tempter. Put the spirits to the test! Which means: test them against the letter, test whether they can accept it, fit into it completely; do not trust any who shies away from this trial and, instead of appearing in a body, slips away from one. Let it go, renounce it, but only strive with ever renewed zeal after the being that exists in and according to the word alone, that only exists through the letter, by the letter, and in the letter.

What these men say is not to be dismissed entirely, and we must in fairness distinguish what’s true in it from the untruth. “Without word, no reason – no world.” “In the beginning was the Word,” proclaims a holy voice. And, without any break in its message, it continues rather in the same vein: “And the Word was with God, and God was the Word.” Where those who have just spoken against us go wrong is in letting the Father be begotten by the Son, the word by the letter, for the word, so they think, must obviously be made up only of letters, and these must therefore exist before it does. The word, thus constituted, then begets their understanding first, and thereupon understanding begets reason last of all. So everything is turned up-side-down. There is no spirit left who exists on its own, but only souls of bodies or living corporeal beings; and as the body, just so, always and everywhere, is the soul too.

If the understanding is, and wills to be, no more than a faculty of reflection on sense intuitions, a faculty of dividing and re-uniting in concepts, judgments, and conclusions, based on that one single ground, then it cannot escape from this inverted construction. For the reflection engendering this type of understanding is one that inverts by nature. In reflection, or the understanding, the species of individual beings appear prior to the beings, seemingly producing them, and the genera prior to the species. In reflection every particular thing proceeds from the womb of a creative universal, so that its total actuality, the real itself, follows upon the thing simply as a property that accrues to it, a complementum possibilitatis, a concept without content, an empty word. Hence, the understanding which is completely wrapped up in the world of the senses has defined itself as the faculty of cognizing the particular in the universal through . . . concepts! And, donning this crown, it assumes the surname of reason. Then, by fashioning ever broader concepts, this reason finally achieves the infinitely wide concept of a One and All, which is the non-thought of a thoroughly indeterminate, at once simple yet twofold, infinite being; to wit, on the one side, a thoroughly indeterminate infinite matter which physically unfolds into an infinity of finite determinate material beings, all of them bodies with their different properties; and, on the other side, a thoroughly indeterminate infinite thought which in its infinity has no knowledge of itself, but from which the souls come forth to join the bodies, each associating with a body with necessity. I say “necessity,” because the infinite matter and the infinite spirit together constitute only one and the same being. Every soul born of the being of all the beings of this System (the System of absolute identity of being and consciousness) is and can only be the immediate concept or the life of a body. It comes to be with it; it unfolds and passes away with it. And yet, its passing away is such that one can also say of both soul and body that although mortal they are in equal measure and relation everlasting, or, though transient, immortal. For in the One and All, which stands for the identity of being and non-being, of absolute rest and absolute movement, there is neither yesterday nor today or tomorrow, but all is in it equally eternal, a parte ante just as a parte post.

According to Plato the beginning of the doctrine of the One and All is that man, taking his start from what is visible and tangible, from the corporeal [in other words], and having made it, as the only true being, into the foundation, discovered upon further enquiry that the corporeal things perceivable .through the senses do not exist, but that everything in this realm is just motion, and nothing else besides. In the Theaetetus Plato has Socrates say that the following is not a bad doctrine at all, viz. “that nothing (perceivable through the external senses) is one thing just by itself, nor can you rightly call it by some definite name, nor even say it is of any definite sort. On the contrary, if you call it ‘large’, it will be found to be also small, if ‘heavy’, to be also light, and so on all through, because nothing is one thing or some thing or of any definite sort. All the things we are pleased to say ‘are’, really are in process of becoming [. . .]. In this matter let us take it that, with the exception of Parmenides, the whole series of philosophers agree – Protagoras, Heraclitus, Empedocles – and among the poets the greatest masters in both kinds, Epicharmus in comedy, Homer in tragedy. When Homer says that ‘I see Oceanus, and mother Tethys’, he means that all things are the offspring of a flowing stream of change.” As Plato, or his Socrates, goes on to show, however, this improvement on that crude doctrine of being by which being was reduced to corporeal things, ultimately improves nothing at all. For just as in the first doctrine everything was drawn into the corporeal, so everything is now drawn into a movement of becoming which everywhere banishes being, and leaves only a speech about it behind – a speech which is however deceptive and false and in truth can never quite be spoken. For in its flow the words too, that is, the nouns or substantives, flow away, just like everything else, and only the verbs remain. And these too lose in it the present tense which for them never is, just as in general no “is” or “being” is.

Where however nothing is or becomes at all, there no knowledge is or becomes either, and every teaching comes to an end.

In view of this, later wise men have taken the ancient proposition that goes back to Homer and earlier still, viz. that everything is only movement, and nothing but that, and turned it round. They laid down the very opposite thesis, viz. that movement is in truth nothing at all, but that in truth there is everywhere only an Unmoved Being, a One that exists alone. Just as the earlier wise men had assumed an eternal becoming without being, so now these later ones assume, on the contrary, an eternal being without becoming. And just as speech vanished from the first view, and the doctrine had to withdraw silently into itself for lack of nouns, so now speech vanishes again because of lack of verbs, of which only the present tense remains, which in fact means no tense at all.

This is where, for the first time, the authentic doctrine of the One and All comes upon the scene to act as the helpful mediator. It marries off the being without becoming to the becoming without being, with the words: “So it is! Behold, it goes yet stays!” Even Plato does not deny that this doctrine would be the only one valid for an understanding turned towards the world of the senses alone, rising above it only in concepts, and concepts of concepts drawn from it. Its untruth, so he says, is seen only by means of a higher faculty of cognition, an eye only created for the intuition of the supersensible towards which it is unmovably turned. “Just as the corporeal eye,” he goes on to say, “if it did not move independently, would have to turn round from the darkness towards the light with the whole body, so also this power of cognition must turn away from mutable things with the whole soul, until with its intuition it is capable of rising to the sublime light of what is permanent (which we call the good).” What is being claimed here is not that nothing permanent can be cognized in the mutable, but only that we must already have cognized something permanent in order to re-cognize it in the mutable. If the mutable contained nothing of the permanent, it could not exist at all even as changeable; it couldn’t even simply appear in any way at all. For this reason the understanding turned towards the world of the senses alone, pressing ahead on the strength of its thought alone, ends up by transforming this world necessarily into the One and All of nothingness. Nobody will bring the teacher of the One-and-All to admit that this is his fate, or that the pathway of his science and its end is the transformation of all being into pure word. How he flies away from this admission, making it impossible for the philosopher to catch him and chain him down, this is found unsurpassably portrayed in the Sophist. I have elsewhere already referred to this masterpiece of the divine Plato, and I refer to it once more here with yet greater earnest.

But I hark to the Socratic warning to turn back “lest always a new flood of topics submerge our first discourse entirely.” Our starting point was the question: Is the human reason an understanding that only hovers above the intuitions of the senses, and truly refers to them alone; or is it a higher faculty that actually reveals to man a truth, goodness and beauty in itself, and does not merely deceive him with empty pictures devoid of objective reference? We have shown that the first alternative is the one assumed in all the philosophies that have arisen since Plato, starting with Aristotle and, after him, all the way to Kant, just as much in the so called rationalistic philosophies of Leibniz, Wolff, and Sulzer, as in the explicitly sensualist ones of Locke, Condillac, and Bonnet.

As evidence for this claim we were able to appeal to Kant’s proofs incontrovertibly establishing that whenever an understanding, which as a faculty of concept-building only mirrors the world of the senses and itself, tries to reach beyond the region of sensibility it only manages to catch thin air, its own shadows stretching out on all sides in infinity.

Therefore, we went on to argue, “everything supersensible is a fiction, and its concept is void of content" – either this, or we must render judgment in favour of the veracity of a reality that transcends the senses, and of man’s knowledge of it based on a higher faculty to which truth announces itself in and above the appearances, in a way incomprehensible to the senses and the understanding.

Based on this either-or, we took our stand upon the assumption of two different faculties of perception in man, one by means of visible and tangible, hence corporeal, instruments; and the other by means of an invisible organ that in no way manifests itself to the external sense, but whose existence is made known to us through feelings alone. This organ, this spiritual eye for spiritual objects, has been called “reason” by men (practically by all), so that in truth they have never understood anything else by this word except this very organ. Only a few, who went by the name of philosophers, tried to dispense with it – this second eye of the soul – thinking that the One and Only True must let itself be seen more sharply and securely with one eye alone than with two. They actually gouged out this one eye of the soul, the one turned above the senses, and discovered that without it everything stood there for them much more clearly and distinctly than before. What had been taken to be an actual second eye, so they said, was only a phantom eye, really nothing but a pathological double vision by the one eye that actually saw. One should look at them to see, after the operation, how the one true eye has taken up abode in the middle of their forehead, and not even a vestige of the supposed second eye is now left to discover. These Polyphemuses found an audience and, among all too many, credence as well. And these then all wanted to be healed of the pathological double vision, and of the false eye. Only Socrates and his pupil Plato after him withstood the wisdom of the single eye, and demonstrated in the most diverse ways that the human soul needs the two eyes granted to it in order to attain cognition of the One True, hence that it must protect them with care and always keep them open; and that, were it to shut the eye turned above the senses, or eradicate it entirely, it would gain through the other only an assortment of sciences void of foundation, without insight and ultimate goal.

This discourse of the divine Plato was however overwhelmed by the discourse of the many others, “for it is just as impossible to instil cognition of the truth into souls not equipped with the organ suited for it as to instil sight into one without eyes by holding mirrors before him.” This means that there is no arguing against anyone who is not convinced by the pure feelings of the beautiful and the good, of admiration and love, respect and awe, that in these feelings, and with them, he perceives something independent of them, beyond the reach of the external senses and of an understanding exclusively directed at their intuitions.

It has long been established that there is no defeating the lower, halfway, idealist a la Berkeley, who in spite of natural feeling claims not to perceive a material world actually existing outside him but only to have sensations; there is no defeating the clarity with which his [thesis] can be demonstrated. And in the same way we have to establish that there is no defeating the upper or full blown idealist a la Hume, who, in spite of rational feeling, denies the veracity of the ideas immediately proceeding from it, highest among them the indelible and indivisible ideas of freedom and providence.

We have already shown above how man is driven on the one side by a powerful temptation to deny freedom and providence despite his deepest and most personal feelings; but that on the other, he is prevented from denying them by a fear that is just as powerful; and how he finally invents some wondrous artifices by which to secure for himself a philosophical place in between, where he can say “yes” and “no” at the same time. How these artifices are however so deceptive that not only the inexperienced apprentices, but their inventors as well, are from the start cheated and duped by them, this we have yet to make clear as the indispensable conclusion to our work.

The illusions are twofold by which sensualism or materialism, by changing its name and form in a variety of ways while in truth always remaining the same (the refusal to let freedom hold sway over necessity or Omnipotence over Fate), has tried to cover up for its one-sidedness and weakness, thus giving the impression that the concept of freedom and the conviction about the supersensible are also not strangers to it.

The first of these illusions rests on the belief that the concept of the unconditional is obtained through protracted abstractions of the understanding.

For in abstraction we drop the particular relations and marks that condition an object of the senses. We only hold on to the universal, which then appears to be unlimited in comparison to the particular, no longer bound to the singular conditions of the latter; and so we imagine that through abstraction from all limitations the concept of the unconditional must be yielded to the understanding. But this abstract [result] is not in fact the concept of “freedom,” not the genuine concept of the “unconditional,” but only the null mirage of a whole without any content and hence without any restriction, a concept of the completely indeterminate, since in the moment of abstraction we looked away from all singular determinations. As to content, this highest concept to which the understanding can advance through abstraction is the concept of pure negation, of pure nothingness. If we take it as the unconditional ground from which every conditioned thing comes forth, then it actually is the absolute non-ground, a perfectly indeterminate becoming, out of which a determinate result is supposed to have emerged – a totality without any characteristic whatever, yet the ground of a real world with an infinite manifold of determinate characteristics.

The fact that I join the concept of an infinite time to it and also join the concept of an infinite mechanism of nature that reveals itself in it (i.e. a series of necessary causes) does not endow this purely negative concept with any positive content. For there is absolutely no “first” and no “last” here, no “what” and no “what for”; indeed, the concept itself of an endless mechanism of nature must, upon closer reflection, appear impossible to the understanding. But now, to this conceptual impossibility the thinker juxtaposes the obvious existence of a sensible actuality, the causal nexus which is undeniably present as the law of the cosmos, though it still remains just as absurd to assume this nexus without beginning or end, and to proceed from the proposition “Nothing is unconditioned except the causal nexus itself, the bare becoming from becoming.” How is it, then, that we are satisfied with this mirage, and put our hopes for scientific explanation in an absurdity? – I answer: The concept of freedom is inextirpably rooted in the human mind as true concept of the unconditional, and compels the human soul to strive after a cognition of the unconditional that lies beyond the conditioned. Without the consciousness of this concept, nobody would know that the limitations of what is conditioned really are limitations. Without the positive rational feeling of something higher than the world of the senses, the understanding would never have stepped out of the circle of the conditional, nor ever have attained to the negative concept of the unconditional. It is absurd of course to put a mere negation at the pinnacle of all philosophizing. But the feeling of reason overrules this absurdity in the understanding, and since abstraction can proceed to the highest universality, the greatest indeterminacy, we take the absolutely indeterminate to be the genuinely unconditional, the very concept of freedom, and we look for its root in the understanding, thus failing to recognize its true source, which is the perception of reason.

The second illusion is closely associated with this first.

Sense perception, to which in sensualism the understanding is exclusively directed, comes to the aid of this false concept of the unconditional.

When we look at the actual coming into being and becoming in nature, the whole which we call the “universe” seems to point to a gradual development from an earlier chaos, an original empty waste. We always do see an imperfect unfinished [product] precede the more fully finished [one], lack of form precede form, thoughtlessness reflection; the unruly desires the law; coarse immorality, morals; and how each provides the basis for the other. The concept of “chaos” corresponds to the “total indeterminacy” of the understanding. Each includes the other: the empty concept of the understanding gets as it were filled with matter, but with only a non-being of matter, a matter without any material determination, one that is supposed to be the mere possibility, but not the actuality, of the determinations perceived by the senses.

Fundamentally this chaos is in turn nothing but a pure negation of all material properties, and hence a nothingness of the senses, just as the negation of all the characteristics pertaining to concepts is a nothingness of the understanding. But since becoming presupposes a non-being in the intuition of the senses, yet from a bare nothingness equally nothing can come to be, the inadmissible element of the assumption is to some measure disguised by the fact that the imagination fashions the non-being in question as an imperfect, merely potential, existence, from which fully actualized existence arises in stages. Understandably, the better must then everywhere emerge from the worse first; and the more exalted, from the baser. But this assumption is patently just as absurd as the assumption that being comes from non-being; indeed, it is really the same assumption.

It receives its semblance of truth only from yet another absurdity.

In other words, we posit the absolutely imperfect as the absolutely perfect, because the absolutely imperfect is the One from which everything comes to be, but not on its own, and hence only transitorily. Accordingly, the absolutely imperfect is the only permanent being, the one truly actual and eternal Being, natura naturans, God – not a “He” but an “It.” And just as in this One and Only Being – which is non-being though eternally creative – there stirs the first and universal matter of all matters, one in itself thoroughly void of qualities and without differences, so also there stirs in it a first and universal spirit of all spirits, one thoroughly void of thought, without differences. Although unconscious, this spirit of all spirits is the most perfect spirit, the spirit kat'exochen, for all spirits evolve from it, through the medium of the organism. Their possibility is given in it alone, and from it they all arise, together and in sequence (just as bodies arise from the universal matter, contemporaneously with these spirits).

According to a recent discovery, though void of consciousness, this spirit of all spirits is also the self-driving force behind science and art – an art and science, however, that have no knowledge of themselves but just produce works, hallowed only because of their sublimity; not provident to be sure, yet providers just the same.

Yet it is possible (so it was further discovered soon afterwards) that, in a future week of creation, the primordial and all-encompassing Being will turn from a merely material spirit into a formal one as well, [equipped] with self-conscious knowledge and will – into a Spirit [endowed] with understanding.

Only then will God have truly come to be, i.e. be perfectly actualized, now also a personal being, self-possessed and self-knowing.

But then it is also possible (we add) that what these recent inventors and seers posit in a distant future – the perfect actualization of God, its personal existence as well, its self-possession and knowledge – that all of this might already have been in the past once, or even several times, from time eternal. Perhaps (as they also say) the primordial ground of nature, the Dark, worked for a long time alone, attempting with the divine powers inherent vn. it a creation of its own, which in the end always sank back into Chaos (and perhaps the series of species extinct before creation and never come back bear witness to this), until the Word of Love came to pass, and with it the lasting creation found its beginning.

But if in the past there were, as we can conjecture, abortions and monstrous births, a manifold fluctuation back and forth, then why not also complete and sound births too? And first of all: where do you get your proof that you are no longer now living in a transient creation, a creation before creation, but in one actually begun and lasting? And how does the proof go? The ground that, before Creation, made attempts at creation after creation – the divine powers inherent in it – might well now be caught up in another such new attempt, playing his game and idle trick on you, just as it does on the God still slumbering within it. For you acknowledge this much yourself when you say: lawlessness, chaos, lies at the ground of the creation of the world, and still simmers there, as if it could eventually break through again.

We ask: And why should it not actually ever break through again? You answer: It cannot happen and will not, because after the actual inception of creation chaos now serves only as the necessary basis of this lasting creation. The basis of the reality present in all things, you assert, is lawlessness, a chaos, so that the world would disappear into nothing if it lost this basis, if form and order were to put an end to this lawlessness once and for all. – Thus it is quite understandable, you add in reply, that form and order could not be original; that perfection could not be from the very beginning; nor a perfect ready-made God, any more than a perfect ready-made world.

But what about at the end? If perfection cannot be at the beginning, then surely it cannot come to be only at the end! But all the same, you answer, that is how it must be. Scripture too distinguishes between periods of God’s revelation, positing the time when God will be All in All in a distant future, i.e. the time when He will be totally actualized. The judgment separating evil from good then will finally be brought to completion and, with this separation, God’s perfect actualization will come to pass.

So, no more becoming then? For what is there to become then? Hence, no more life, for life is only in becoming, as you say; it exists, it preserves itself, and feels itself, only in struggle. For this reason too, as you go on saying, the moment God sundered the world of light from that of darkness in order to acquire personality, He freely subjected himself to the suffering of becoming; He submitted to a destiny which is the necessary lot of all life.

Will all this therefore-we now ask again – will all this be no more after the judgment of that distant future? Will what was necessary for God to become a personal being no longer be necessary in order for him to remain a person? Will it not be necessary, once He is finally done with the world and Himself, for Him to start with the world and himself all over again – to return into the non-ground and there divide into two once more, freely though unconsciously, that through creation the creature may again become possible and He personal? In a word, will it not be necessary that He should start anew, and execute once more the whole undertaking of self-evolution across the wicked world? Will it truly and earnestly not be so? This question they answer only with a stern rebuke. It is beyond us to grasp the circle from which everything comes to be and, within it, the all-pervading universal, the Neither – Nor, the essence of divinity. And hence we are incapable also of grasping the indifferentiation of the beginning, the identity at the end, and the struggle in the middle. It is simply not worth the effort to talk to shallow theists, who dream of a perfectly accomplished God, one fully actualized with understanding and will at the beginning; of a God who would be at once living and personal, a thoroughgoing impossibility in other words – though something still possible perhaps, or rather certain, at the end.

On this score our despondent [interlocutors] actually have a point.

We neither comprehend this circle from which everything comes to be, nor understand its language which must by right be called a “circular language,” for its every proposition and word must at one moment mean what it signifies to ordinary understanding but then the opposite as well, at another. Indeed (this is the worst for us) it must also mean both at once – and here is where the genuine Neither-Nor steps on the scene, the key (as we suppose) both to the System and its technical language.

They explicitly teach that the Neither-Nor is before all things, and that the actual world has immediately come forth, or broken forth, from it; and not only this world but also the actual (though at present still not perfectly actualized) God into whom the world will eventually be assumed, as the real is assumed into the ideal. Yea, they explicitly teach that this Neither-Nor is God himself, the whole God as he was before creation, when he had not yet spontaneously parted into two equally eternal beginnings, hence still the perfect God a parte ante. But this perfect God a parte ante, not yet parted into two equally eternal beginnings, and hence still the entire God, who is the Alpha, and whose true name is “the primordial ground” or the “non-ground"-this God is to be distinguished from the God who is only perfect a parte post, who is the Omega, and will be only in a distant future, though now he is already called Spirit and is considered as if he were already perfectly actualized, for he is as good as a minus sign.

For in the circle from which everything becomes, nothing in truth comes to be. There is in truth neither before nor after, nothing truly past, and nothing truly future; no first and no last, as little according to being as, according to time. We should not be surprised, therefore, if the spokesmen of the Circle say that the Spirit will finally subjugate everything to itself and that it will be above All; and at the same time that even then the original Non-ground will still be and abide above the Spirit, except that now it will no longer be indifferentiation, equivalence, but Love, of which Spirit is nothing but the breath.-And in their opinion Scripture gives witness to this with the words: The Father-will at the end subject all things to the Son; but the Son too will then be made subject to Him who has subjected all things to the Son, so that God be All in All.

Whoever has eyes to read, let him read the unbelievable where it is to be read in the original; let him read it with his own eyes. For how the pro and the contra marvellously devour one another in this discourse about the Circle; how the most patent contradictions are here joined in brotherly embrace and swear to abide by one another in eternal harmony-all this cannot be reproduced in a brief presentation.

But what Plato has relayed to us about the kind of philosophers whom he calls the Ephesians, (or sometimes the philosophers of the “flow”) fits these spokesmen of the Circle remarkably well; “For there is no discussing these principles . . . with them,” he has Theodores say to Socrates; “you might as well talk to a maniac. Faithful to their own treatises they are literally in perpetual motion. . . . When you put a question, they pluck from their quiver little oracular aphorisms to let fly at you, and if you try to obtain some account of their meaning, you will be instantly transfixed by another, barbed with some newly forged metaphor. You will never get anywhere with any of them; for that matter they cannot get anywhere with one other.” At this point, we abandon these spokesmen, and turn once more to those who indeed assume, as we do, that the most perfect being is necessarily at the beginning, but also assert, against us and for the reasons already adduced above, that this most perfect Being is of necessity one not conscious of itself, that does not act knowingly and voluntarily with pre-set goals but works its effects necessarily, according to laws inherent in it and prescribed for it by its nature; a thoroughly impersonal being.

About these people we still have a few things to convey, namely how they so successfully manage to make what testifies the loudest against them speak for them instead.

Suppose for instance that, in an attempt at overcoming them, we confront them with that old consideration, sublime just as it is plain: Should he who has made eyes not see; he who has implanted ears, not hear; he who has made ready this heart, not love; he who has born this spirit from himself, not know, and will, and have effects spiritually? At this they would reassure us that nobody seizes on this point as willingly and seriously as they do. Do we not posit, they say, the primordial power and true essence of all hearing and seeing, of all understanding, heart and spirit, in the primordial and all-encompassing being who alone truly is, and whom we call “God"?-Is this not enough for you?-And if not, then tell us whether anyone given to deep self-reflection could possibly accept that the divine understanding is like the human, which is based on sense experience and develops mechanically through abstraction and reflection. Or whether any such profound person could possibly claim that he can think his own human imagination, which is only imitative, as an original power creating things out of itself, summoning true beings to existence.—Just consider seriously-their animation increasing as they carry on-how your intelligence grows in you and how you profit from it. Think about it carefully and you will be ashamed that you have attributed any such intelligence to the primordial being, whom we all call “God,” with the only difference that in Him it is already complete whereas in you it still is in a state of becoming, a highly absurd thought all by itself.

Take proper stock, they exhort us, of the human intelligence. Must it not be already present in the embryo in order later to emerge through simple development of the organism? But in its earlier state the intelligence as such, or reason, does not know anything about itself. The concept of a reason that actually exists yet does not know itself is not, therefore, a nonsensical one but on the contrary necessary. This impersonal reason without knowledge of itself is actually the true, absolute, substantial reason, as it is and endures in God. The absence of a formal reason in God is no deprivation, but rather a fullness. He wall reason; hence he has none.-The spontaneous unconscious doer of works: precisely that is Spirit. For this reason even in man you properly call spirit, genius, the divine, what brings forth works in him unconsciously, as through an alien inspiration.

Thus speak these men, and a host of believers shout their loud approval in exultation. The young comprehend, understand, and are made full with knowledge. Above all, however, they feel convinced by the concluding argument, the Achilles of the discourse-that anything worthy of admiration produced by man is brought forth by him unconsciously, as through an alien inspiration; that we unanimously give to the source of inspiration the name of genius and divine, and this divine source is nothing but the productive power of universal spirit ignorant of itself.

If deep down the matter were precisely as they allege, then we would indeed have to fall silent at this discourse, before the young and their teachers. But we see things otherwise, and our intention now is to try to exhibit the difference.

Let us recall, first of all, the sacred story of a creation after creation, in Paradise.

According to this sacred story, a spouse was born to the first man out of a dream. While he slept, the mother of the human race was fashioned in him, the prototype of beauty, love, comfort, and gentleness.

Adam awoke to her presence. There she stood in front of him, the woman, the flesh of his flesh, the bone of his bone, taken from him, a second self outside him and in him.

Inwardly, in spirit, Adam had already seen the beautiful creature; for he had longed for her, and had painfully felt that he was alone. And then there fell upon him that deep sleep, a sleep from God.-And God created his wife from one of his ribs, and replaced it with flesh.

But now, the original Creator did not create while also asleep, in some state of unconscious darkness: He knew and He willed.-When earlier he had said: Let there be light! he had called light down only upon the earth, which was in itself an empty waste. And from then on everything in it had to come forth from darkness first, so that of none of its offspring could it be said: In the beginning was the Word. In no way, however, should we childishly imagine that on this account the night is the mother of everything, and that the spirit comes only with the years, afterwards, a late-born, just like the understanding that grows out of sense-experience.

There is a distinction here, that is similar to that between primitive peoples, who speak of “before or after so many nights,” and more cultured ones, who speak instead of “before or after so many days.” Understanding based upon the senses presupposes the night; it does its reckoning after the night, starting from it. Reason or the spirit presupposes the day instead.

Let us be clearer. Before the actual deed the human understanding knows nothing of the doing of the spirit that in man rules over it. It becomes aware of it only during and after its fulfilment in a deed. Since the understanding recognizes that this doing does not proceed from it – because the understanding only reflects upon the senses – after long deliberation it finally declares it a blind efficacy. We say “after long deliberation,” for originally it was of course inclined to think of intelligence as coming first, and in general of the will as preceding action.

When it however put the question, “How is it possible that intelligence comes first, and the will precedes action, i.e. how is true providence and true freedom possible?” it received from itself the definite answer: “Both are utterly impossible.” In the same way the understanding had already asked itself earlier, “How is perception possible through the instruments of the senses,” and had received the equally definite answer: “There is only sensation; hence genuine perception is impossible.” Thus did the understanding invent its twofold unbelief, first in a material world, and then in an immaterial and spiritual one as well; and it called the art of losing all truth (for that was its invention) Philosophy.

Just as in the nocturnal heaven the moon outshines the whole firmament with its borrowed light, and by outshining it the moon obscures the whole, yet the moment the sun rises above the rim of the earth its glow disappears, for the true light shines forth which the moon itself had only radiated, so too there is a time when the perceptions of reason, radiating in the dark, grow dim before the imperfect day of the understanding; but the understanding’s lunar light pales whenever the splendour of rational cognition dawns, and we then become aware that its glimmer had its origin in the source of light that was previously withdrawn from outside our range of vision.

All philosophizing proceeds from an intimate yearning in man for a knowledge which he calls knowledge of the True, even though he cannot sufficiently explain to himself what this word that means to him more than any other, actually means. He knows it and does not. That, through which he knows it, he calls his “reason”; that, through which he does not know it but is prompted to search for it, he calls his “understanding.” Reason simply presupposes this True, just as the outer sense presupposes space and the inner, time. Reason exists only as the faculty of this presupposition, so that wherever there is no such presupposition, there is also no reason. As certainly therefore as man possesses reason and what he calls “reason” does not merely delude him, so also must the True be in some way present to him, however intimately, and be known by him.

Since the understanding proceeds from the intuition of the senses and develops first of all in connection with it, the understanding cannot assume prior to this intuition the concept of the True that reason presses upon it, nor extol the concept above intuition. It asks for the substrate of the concept, without which there would be no corroboration of reality; and it seeks this substrate in appearances, where the intrinsic reality of beings and the manifold of their properties must be found. But, as we have already sufficiently demonstrated above, what one ultimately finds in appearances is only a negation of nothingness, a something that passes for mere “not-nothing” and would pass for plain “nothingness” if reason (which still retains the upper hand) did not forcibly prevent that. For it is certainly possible for man in his foolishness to disavow reason or deny faith in it. But he cannot silence it completely, or prevent it from still being effective in him.

Xenophanes, whom even a sceptic called “the thinker without conceit,” complained “that even in his advanced age he could not enjoy any knowledge. Wherever he cast his glance, everything dissolved into the One, and only one and the same being appeared to him everywhere.” In almost the same terms, the noble, but not on that account any less acute and profound thinker Fenelon complained that for him everything vanished into the many, and the many into nothingness.

“I don’t find myself” he says, “in this multitude of thoughts flowing in me, yet they are all that I can find of myself. I am such a multitude of thoughts of all sorts, of which no two are the same, that in their midst I become a nought to myself and, because of this, I am also no longer able to catch sight of that one thing which is the True that I know and I am seeking. For to represent it in some way on the basis of my opaque knowledge, I must divide this one thing. I must make a variety of things and a manifold out of it, such as I am too. And when I do that, it disappears before my eyes, just as I disappear to myself.-Oh! who will free me from all the numbers, the compositions, the combinations and the series which, the more deeply I delve into them, the more invariably they turn out to be a nought to me, and the more removed from what alone is true in my mind? There is brilliance, and great promise, in the display of the many and numerous. They are filled with unities, and grounded on unity. But this ground of unity fails to reveal itself. Mocking my searches, it incessantly escapes, whereas the numbers always increase and the multitudes multiply. Even the series disappear with the disappearance of what is ordered in them, and vanish into nothingness. Do you want to get hold of what is? It is already no more. To catch what comes immediately after? It is already gone. And what will come next? It will come, but not be!-It will not be, yet will constitute a whole with what was before it, and all of it is already no longer.” Man inevitably sinks into this void, this abysmal all-devouring nothingness of cognition, whenever he turns the purely inward knowledge that comes to him from the unfathomable depths of his mind into an outward one, wants indeed to reach out to the supersensible, but with his senses alone, abiding throughout by the conceptual stages of an understanding ultimately based on sense intuition alone.

The “is” of the exclusively reflective understanding is equally an exclusively relative “is”; it expresses no more than the being like something else in concept, not the substantial “is” or “being.” The latter, the real being, being pure and simple, is given to know in feeling alone; in it the certain spirit manifests itself.

We confess to our incapacity to define in which form the spirit certain of itself presents itself to man in feeling (objective and pure feeling), and makes him ready to cognize what is only equal unto itself, i.e. to cognize the True directly and exclusively in the True, the Beautiful in the Beautiful, the Good in the Good, and thereby to acquire consciousness of a knowledge which is not merely a dependent knowledge subject to demonstrations but stands independent above all demonstration, a truly sovereign knowledge. Above all we confess to our incapacity to define in which form the knowledge of freedom and providence that dwells deepest in us will present itself-the freedom and providence which, like two powers appointed above nature, rule in us and over us.

We only bring facts to light, and then, based on these facts, we justify our doctrine with scientific rigour.

How far this was actually accomplished in the author’s earlier writings, must be examined in the writings themselves. The essay “On the Inseparability of the Concept of Providence and Freedom from the Concept of Reason,” re-published in this present second volume of the Collected Works, presents the system of the author’s beliefs in highly concentrated form, or the justification of his faith against philosophical understanding; it also presents, in what is perhaps its most comprehensible fashion, what the author asserts in opposition to other doctrines, and what he does not. For that reason I am making a special reference to it here.

In haste to conclude, I append here a few more of the points that I would like to add to what I have already said, in short sections, leaving it to the reader to complete and order them. It is often the case that an aphoristic style, or what my departed friend Hamann called his “grasshopper style,” attains its goal more readily than the most polished discourse.

* * *

Just as the actuality that reveals itself to the outer sense needs no guarantor, since it is itself the most powerful representative of its truth, so too the actuality that reveals itself to that inward sense that we call reason needs no guarantor; in like manner it is the most powerful testimony of its own truth all by itself. Man necessarily believes in his senses; he necessarily believes in his reason, and there is no certainty above the certainty of this faith.

The moment man sought to establish scientifically the veracity of our representations of a material world that exists beyond them, and independently of them, at that very moment the object that the demonstrators wanted to ground disappeared before their eyes. They were left with mere subjectivity, with sensation. And thus they discovered idealism.

The moment man sought to prove scientifically the veracity of our representations of an immaterial world that exists beyond them, to prove the substantiality of the human spirit, and of a free Author of this universe who is however distinct from it, of a Providence conscious of its rule, i.e. a personal Providence, the only one that would be truly Providence-the moment he tried this, the object likewise disappeared before the eyes of the demonstrators. They were left with merely logical phantoms. And in this way they discovered nihilism.

All actuality, both the corporeal that is revealed to the senses and the spiritual that is revealed to reason, is attested to for man in feeling alone. There is no demonstration over and above this.

* * *

One of our sharpest thinkers has given an account of feelings (i.e. the objective and pure feelings, which are the only ones at issue here) as originating immediately in reason, and has called them the “basic judgments” of reason. We gladly borrow this designation from him, and share it with him. For we do commonly say also of the eye, the ear, the taste of the tongue, that they make judgments, indeed, that they discriminate, although we all know that the perceiving sense only reveals, whereas judgments belong to the reflective understanding. We speak in this way out of clear insight that without understanding, that is, without the reflection and the synthesis, hence without the spontaneity of a consciousness, the senses are a non-entity. The same applies to reason. As was indicated at the very beginning of this essay and was further established in what followed, reason without understanding is a non-thought.

It would be like the thought of a science or an that does not know itself, but is merely productive.

There is one thing, however, that must not be forgotten here, namely that the proposition, “Where there is reason, there the understanding must be also,” is not equally valid when we convert it into “where there is understanding, there reason must be also.” All the beings that we call “living” or, since they have life in them and manifest independent activity, “beings endowed with sour but that are “irrationar as well or, in general, “animals,” possess understanding, in the measure that through the senses their organism sets them in communion with other natural beings. Yet all animal species lack reason, i.e. the “discernment” proper to the Spirit that creates Thought and, together with Thought, the Word; indeed, they lack it in exactly equal measure, [in] those most generously endowed with senses and organs for the control of their life just as much as those most scantily equipped with them, the most gifted just as much as the most wretched. Hence the irrational animal is just as incapable of the feelings and concepts we unanimously call “ethical” and “religious” as is incapable of science. But in no way does it lack those feelings and concepts just because it lacks science. Reason is not grounded in the power of thought, a light that only later shone in the understanding; the power of thought is rather grounded in reason, which lights up the understanding wherever it is present and awakens it to contemplation-and upon contemplation there follows enquiry, distinct cognition, science.

* * *

Not only does this prophetic reason, this creative Spirit certain of itself, precede all scientific theories and systems; it also abides above them all as their superior ruler, ruling them as their inward seer and judge.

No logical artifice can replace it or dispense with its actual and immediate presence in the feelings testifying to it. It has often been remarked, even in ancient times, that theories and philosophies concerning the True, the Good, and the Beautiful (the systems of ethics, aesthetics, and metaphysics) begin to proliferate only when the living apprehension of the True, the Good, and the Beautiful has become feeble and taste has become less certain of itself; when art has sunk low, and the virtues have been corrupted by the addition of perverted elements. It is as if the mighty and self-assured spirit had disappeared from the living actuality, and we then turn to the dead for answers. We open up corpses to discover where life came from. Useless efforts! Where the heart no longer beats and drives, where the feelings are silent, there the understanding endeavours in vain with all its arts to bring back the seer endowed with the power of miracles from the sepulchre. Not even a shadow appears, only an illusion; it flits by, and what it reveals is deception.

Worthy of honour is science, wherever it can be and actually is. Worthy of honour is art come to maturity, self-controlled and experienced.

Worthier of honour and more glorious is, however, the inspiration that illumines their theories; worthier of honour and more glorious, the spirit that tests them and determines their worth, the spirit which they indeed serve but cannot create.

Does one show contempt for speech and writing, for letter and word, just because one says: “They are servants'?"-Does one show contempt for nature just because one says: “There is a God above it, a Creator; and without this Being above it, it would only be a ghost"?

* * *

Just as the Creator’s Word, calling worlds forth out of nothingness, is exalted above its echo eternally resonating in the endless appearance we call the universe, so too is the productive power originally inhabiting man exalted above the power in him of reproducing after experience.

They say however (those others from whom we have heard above) that this highly praised productive power, this power truly exalted above the merely reproductive one, is the one that in man we call genius and in the original being, providence. It is a power that works unconsciously yet is endowed with wisdom, and love, and science, and art; and, on top of all these and prior to them, with freedom as well, because only what a being brings to completion aimlessly, from the necessity of its nature, is brought to completion by it with perfect freedom.

To all of them we reply that they speak words for which they have no concept, since it is impossible to think a blind providence, a design without design, a free necessity; and that by perverting word and sense with their language, they engage in a disjointed and deceptive game offensive to honest people.

Spinoza too already knew how to interpret unconscious, blind Fate as providence, and, on the basis of this interpretation, likewise to talk at length about the decrees and the world governance of his God; about God’s commandments and directives, universal and particular, internal and external; his assistance; and yet other things of the same sort.

Just as I have been fighting to unmask this fraud for the past thirty years, the fraud which this otherwise veracious man was the first to perpetrate and which in our times has become even more unholy, so will I go on fighting it to my last breath, unconcerned by the wrath of those to whose heart it is dear. The more strident their anger, the more conspicuously they themselves betray the wages of their doing, by the absurdity of their subterfuges and prevarications.

Just as I have very precisely defined elsewhere (and have several times repeated since then) which war I wage and which not, so I now define it once more. I am not waging war against a perfect and pure naturalism in the style of Spinoza; on the contrary, I am honestly at peace with it. It is a naturalism that knows itself for what it is and openly professes it, not hesitating to reject the concept of freedom as irrational. It is a straightforward, undisguised, fatalism or perfect naturalism, and if, undauntedly consistent with itself, it allows the consequences to follow that must, it can safely defy every attack on the part of a philosophy that asserts freedom and providence. Within its boundaries, i.e. within the concept of nature, it is invincible.-I wage war only against the fatalism that either does not know itself for what it is or does not profess it honestly; the fatalism that mixes necessity and freedom, providence and fatum, together into one thing and, completely inconsistent with itself – miraculous mongrel that it is – also pretends to know of supernatural things, yea of a helpful, gracious, and merciful God, like the God of the Christians. Against this illegitimate usurping fatalism I enter the lists on the side of Spinoza’s legitimate, self-abiding, upright and austere, fatalism-indeed as its confederate. I stand on the side of a consequential fatalism that can stand the test of science, against the inconsequential thoroughly fantastic fatalism of the Neither-Nor.

In the same way, Lessing once came to the defence of the old and inflexible, yet consequential, orthodoxy against a new, very pliable but inconsequential, form of it. “It is not simple orthodoxy that is so loathsome,” he said, “but a certain cross-eyed and inconsistent orthodoxy! So loathsome, so repugnant, so vexing: these are the right words for it, at least to my sensitivity.-It is not the name that counts, but the thing itself. And whoever has the courage to teach it, or insinuate it, must also be frank enough not to try to avoid the name.”

* * *

Whenever man considers with his inner sense the nature that displays itself to his outer senses, and strives to grasp its infinite being with his understanding, to conceive it and to ground it, he discovers at the end of his strivings not a ground explaining this nature and the universe to him, but only a dark non-ground. But the still childish understanding thinks of this non-ground as a chaos from which a hybrid of necessity and chance first makes building materials gradually emerge, then finished products; gods and worlds, animals and men. When it reaches maturity, the understanding rejects this non-ground and this chaos, for it has risen to the clear insight that the thought of a universe only gradually developing since eternity is a totally absurd and can be used to force its advocates back into absolute nothingness. At this point there comes upon the scene the doctrine of a universe that has always been equally perfect; of an infinite being circling back upon itself from eternity to eternity, and aimlessly allowing the infinite to emerge from the infinite in an infinite manner, solely in virtue of the necessity of its nature – allowing it to emerge here and pass away there, without any real coming-to-be or passing-away ever taking place anywhere or at any time. This is the doctrine of a nature which is not a creative force but only an eternal force of change.

The understanding that only delves into the things of nature cannot attain to a higher concept than that of the hen kai pan given here and not in need, at this point, of further exposition. In nature the understanding cannot find what is not there, its creator-hence its claim that nature stands on its own, self-sufficient and alive through and through; that nature is indeed life itself; that it alone is, and apart from it and above it is Nothingness.

We could abide by this claim if man were only sense and reflective understanding.

There lives in man, however, a spirit immediately from God. This spirit constitutes his being proper, and through it alone does his understanding first begin to understand, i.e. become a human understanding.

Just as this spirit is present to man in his highest, deepest, and innermost consciousness, so also is the Giver of it, God, present to him – more present to him through his heart than nature is to him through his external senses. No sense object can so seize upon the mind, and so invincibly establish itself before it as true object, as can those supersensible objects that are only seen with the eye of the spirit-the True, the Good, the Sublime, and the Beautiful. Hence we may well have the courage of our audacious language: we believe in God because we see him; though he cannot be seen with the eye of the body, he appears none the less to us in every upright man. The appearance itself, however, is not God; and often can even deceive us. Yet the feeling aroused in us by it did not deceive us, and the inner countenance we beheld was a vision of the true.

“Nothing is more like God,” Socrates says according to Plato, “than the most righteous among us.” Every purely ethical, truly virtuous, action is a miracle with respect to nature. It reveals Him who only can do miracles, the creator, the almighty Lord of nature, the ruler of the universe.

And the same applies to every creation of true genius. An understanding that is only devoted to nature and justly admits of no miracles in its domain, must deny the reality of genuine and alone the true creations of genius just as necessarily as it must deny the reality of genuine and alone the true actions of virtue. The only witness to their reality is the Spirit-the inner Spirit who everywhere reveals only mysteries to us, the unjustifiable-no science therefore. The latter necessarily leaves off where the activity of freedom announces itself.

If, therefore, one asks us whether we understand the being of the universe in motion before us better by assuming freedom and providence, an original intelligence; in a word, a creator God, than by conceiving it, not as a product, but as an eternal being revolving within itself without beginning or end-a being which, as natura naturans, is void of consciousness, void of understanding and will, but as natura naturata is full of self-conscious and intelligent beings who determine themselves in accordance with concepts, though none of them can ever be or become an absolutely supreme Spirit-to this question we answer with a resolute No. This, however, we comprehend perfectly well. If providence and freedom were not at the beginning, they would not be anywhere now either; hence man would only be deceived by his spirit, his heart and conscience, which urge these concepts on him as truest. Then man would be a fable, a lie; and the God of man a fable and a lie too – the God of Socrates and Plato, the God of the Christians.

So I spoke at the beginning. I end now as I began.