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Title: German philosophy and politics
Author: Dewey, John, 1859-1952
Language: English
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                      GERMAN PHILOSOPHY
                         AND POLITICS

                          JOHN DEWEY
        Professor of Philosophy in Columbia University

                           NEW YORK
                    HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY

                       COPYRIGHT, 1915,
                    HENRY HOLT AND COMPANY

                 THE QUINN & BODEN CO. PRESS
                        RAHWAY, N. J.


The will of John Calvin McNair established a Foundation at the
University of North Carolina upon which public lectures are to be given
from time to time to the members of the University. This book contains
three lectures which were given in February of this year upon this
Foundation. It is a pleasure to acknowledge the many courtesies enjoyed
during my brief stay at Chapel Hill, the seat of the University.

     J. D.

     Columbia University,
     New York City, April, 1915.


       I GERMAN PHILOSOPHY: THE TWO WORLDS                 3



         INDEX                                           133




The nature of the influence of general ideas upon practical affairs is a
troubled question. Mind dislikes to find itself a pilgrim in an alien
world. A discovery that the belief in the influence of thought upon
action is an illusion would leave men profoundly saddened with
themselves and with the world. Were it not that the doctrine forbids any
discovery influencing affairs--since the discovery would be an idea--we
should say that the discovery of the wholly _ex post facto_ and idle
character of ideas would profoundly influence subsequent affairs. The
strange thing is that when men had least control over nature and their
own affairs, they were most sure of the efficacy of thought. The
doctrine that nature does nothing in vain, that it is directed by
purpose, was not engrafted by scholasticism upon science; it formulates
an instinctive tendency. And if the doctrine be fallacious, its pathos
has a noble quality. It testifies to the longing of human thought for a
world of its own texture. Yet just in the degree in which men, by means
of inventions and political arrangements, have found ways of making
their thoughts effective, they have come to question whether any
thinking is efficacious. Our notions in physical science tend to reduce
mind to a bare spectator of a machine-like nature grinding its
unrelenting way. The vogue of evolutionary ideas has led many to regard
intelligence as a deposit from history, not as a force in its making. We
look backward rather than forward; and when we look forward we seem to
see but a further unrolling of a panorama long ago rolled up on a cosmic
reel. Even Bergson, who, to a casual reader, appears to reveal vast
unexplored vistas of genuinely novel possibilities, turns out, upon
careful study, to regard _intellect_ (everything which in the past has
gone by the name of observation and reflection) as but an evolutionary
deposit whose importance is confined to the conservation of a life
already achieved, and bids us trust to instinct, or something akin to
instinct, for the future:--as if there were hope and consolation in
bidding us trust to that which, in any case, we cannot intelligently
direct or control.

I do not see that the school of history which finds Bergson mystic and
romantic, which prides itself upon its hard-headed and scientific
character, comes out at a different place. I refer to the doctrine of
the economic interpretation of history in its extreme form--which, so
its adherents tell us, is its only logical form. It is easy to follow
them when they tell us that past historians have ignored the great part
played by economic forces, and that descriptions and explanations have
been correspondingly superficial. When one reflects that the great
problems of the present day are those attending economic reorganization,
one might even take the doctrine as a half-hearted confession that
historians are really engaged in construing the past in terms of the
problems and interests of an impending future, instead of reporting a
past in order to discover some mathematical curve which future events
are bound to describe. But no; our strictly scientific economic
interpreters will have it that economic forces present an inevitable
evolution, of which state and church, art and literature, science and
philosophy are by-products. It is useless to suggest that while modern
industry has given an immense stimulus to scientific inquiry, yet
nevertheless the industrial revolution of the eighteenth century comes
after the scientific revolution of the seventeenth. The dogma forbids
any connection.

But when we note that Marx gave it away that his materialistic
interpretation of history was but the Hegelian idealistic dialectic
turned upside down, we may grow wary. Is it, after all, history we are
dealing with or another philosophy of history? And when we discover that
the great importance of the doctrine is urged upon us, when we find that
we are told that the general recognition of its truth helps us out of
our present troubles and indicates a path for future effort, we
positively take heart. These writers do not seem to mean just what they
say. Like the rest of us, they are human, and infected with a belief
that ideas, even highly abstract theories, are of efficacy in the
conduct of human affairs influencing the history which is yet to be.

       *       *       *       *       *

I have, however, no intention of entering upon this controversy, much
less of trying to settle it. These remarks are but preliminary to a
consideration of some of the practical affiliations of portions of the
modern history of philosophical thought with practical social affairs.
And if I set forth my own position in the controversy in question, the
statement is frankly a personal one, intended to make known the
prepossessions with which I approach the discussion of the political
bearings of one phase of modern philosophy. I do not believe, then, that
_pure_ ideas, or pure thought, ever exercised any influence upon human
action. I believe that very much of what has been presented as
philosophic reflection is in effect simply an idealization, for the sake
of emotional satisfaction, of the brutely given state of affairs, and is
not a genuine discovery of the practical influence of ideas. In other
words, I believe it to be esthetic in type even when sadly lacking in
esthetic form. And I believe it is easy to exaggerate the practical
influence of even the more vital and genuine ideas of which I am about
to speak.

But I also believe that there are no such things as _pure_ ideas or
_pure_ reason. Every living thought represents a gesture made toward
the world, an attitude taken to some practical situation in which we
are implicated. Most of these gestures are ephemeral; they reveal the
state of him who makes them rather than effect a significant alteration
of conditions. But at some times they are congenial to a situation in
which men in masses are acting and suffering. They supply a model for
the attitudes of others; they condense into a dramatic type of action.
They then form what we call the "great" systems of thought. Not all
ideas perish with the momentary response. They are voiced and others
hear; they are written and others read. Education, formal and informal,
embodies them not so much in other men's minds as in their permanent
dispositions of action. They are in the blood, and afford sustenance to
conduct; they are in the muscles and men strike or retire. Even
emotional and esthetic systems may breed a disposition toward the world
and take overt effect. The reactions thus engendered are, indeed,
superficial as compared with those in which more primitive instincts are
embodied. The business of eating and drinking, buying and selling,
marrying and being given in marriage, making war and peace, gets somehow
carried on along with any and every system of ideas which the world has
known. But how, and when and where and for what men do even these things
is tremendously affected by the abstract ideas which get into

       *       *       *       *       *

I take it that I may seem to be engaged in an emphatic urging of the
obvious. However it may be with a few specialized schools of men, almost
everybody takes it as a matter of course that ideas influence action and
help determine the subsequent course of events. Yet there is a purpose
in this insistence. Most persons draw the line at a certain kind of
general ideas. They are especially prone to regard the ideas which
constitute philosophic theories as practically innocuous--as more or
less amiable speculations significant at the most for moments of
leisure, in moments of relief from preoccupation with affairs. Above
all, men take the particular general ideas which happen to affect their
own conduct of life as normal and inevitable. Pray what other ideas
would any sensible man have? They forget the extent to which these ideas
originated as parts of a remote and technical theoretical system, which
by multitudes of non-reflective channels has infiltrated into their
habits of imagination and behavior. An expert intellectual anatomist,
my friends, might dissect you and find Platonic and Aristotelian
tissues, organs from St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, Locke and
Descartes, in the make-up of the ideas by which you are habitually
swayed, and find, indeed, that they and other thinkers of whose names
you have never heard constitute a larger part of your mental structure
than does the Calvin or Kant, Darwin or Spencer, Hegel or Emerson,
Bergson or Browning to whom you yield conscious allegiance.

Philosophers themselves are naturally chiefly responsible for the
ordinary estimate of their own influence, or lack of influence. They
have been taken mostly at their own word as to what they were doing, and
what for the most part they have pretended to do is radically different
from what they have actually done. They are quite negligible as seers
and reporters of ultimate reality, or the essential natures of things.
And it is in this aspect that they have mostly fancied seeing
themselves. Their actual office has been quite other. They have told
about nature and life and society in terms of collective human desire
and aspiration as these were determined by contemporary difficulties
and struggles.

I have spoken thus far as if the influence of general ideas upon action
were likely to be beneficial. It goes against the grain to attribute
evil to the workings of intelligence. But we might as well face the
dilemma. What is called pure thought, thought freed from the empirical
contingencies of life, would, even if it existed, be irrelevant to the
guidance of action. For the latter always operates amid the circumstance
of contingencies. And thinking which is colored by time and place must
always be of a mixed quality. In part, it will detect and hold fast to
more permanent tendencies and arrangements; in part, it will take the
limitations of its own period as necessary and universal--even as
intrinsically desirable.

The traits which give thinking effectiveness for the good give it also
potency for harm. A physical catastrophe, an earthquake or
conflagration, acts only where it happens. While its effects endure, it
passes away. But it is of the nature of ideas to be abstract: that is to
say, severed from the circumstances of their origin, and through
embodiment in language capable of operating in remote climes and alien
situations. Time heals physical ravages, but it may only accentuate the
evils of an intellectual catastrophe--for by no lesser name can we call
a systematic intellectual error. To one who is professionally
preoccupied with philosophy there is much in its history which is
profoundly depressing. He sees ideas which were not only natural but
useful in their native time and place, figuring in foreign contexts so
as to formulate defects as virtues and to give rational sanction to
brute facts, and to oppose alleged eternal truths to progress. He sees
movements which might have passed away with change of circumstance as
casually as they arose, acquire persistence and dignity because thought
has taken cognizance of them and given them intellectual names. The
witness of history is that to think in general and abstract terms is
dangerous; it elevates ideas beyond the situations in which they were
born and charges them with we know not what menace for the future. And
in the past the danger has been the greater because philosophers have so
largely purported to be concerned not with contemporary problems of
living, but with essential Truth and Reality viewed under the form of

In bringing these general considerations to a close, I face an
embarrassment. I must choose some particular period of intellectual
history for more concrete illustration of the mutual relationship of
philosophy and practical social affairs--which latter, for the sake of
brevity, I term Politics. One is tempted to choose Plato. For in spite
of the mystic and transcendental coloring of his thought, it was he who
defined philosophy as the science of the State, or the most complete and
organized whole known to man; it is no accident that his chief work is
termed the "Republic." In modern times, we are struck by the fact that
English philosophy from Bacon to John Stuart Mill has been cultivated by
men of affairs rather than by professors, and with a direct outlook upon
social interests. In France, the great period of philosophy, the period
of _les philosophes_, was the time in which were forged the ideas which
connect in particular with the French Revolution and in general with the
conceptions which spread so rapidly through the civilized world, of the
indefinite perfectibility of humanity, the rights of man, and the
promotion of a society as wide as humanity, based upon allegiance to

Somewhat arbitrarily I have, however, selected some aspects of classic
German thought for my illustrative material. Partly, I suppose, because
one is piqued by the apparent challenge which its highly technical,
professorial and predominantly _a priori_ character offers to the
proposition that there is close connection between abstract thought and
the tendencies of collective life. More to the point, probably, is the
fact that the heroic age of German thought lies almost within the last
century, while the creative period of continental thought lies largely
in the eighteenth century, and that of British thought still earlier. It
was Taine, the Frenchman, who said that all the leading ideas of the
present day were produced in Germany between 1780 and 1830. Above all,
the Germans, as we say, have philosophy in their blood. Such phrases
generally mean something not about hereditary qualities, but about the
social conditions under which ideas propagate and circulate.

Now Germany is the modern state which provides the greatest facilities
for general ideas to take effect through social inculcation. Its system
of education is adapted to that end. Higher schools and universities in
Germany are really, not just nominally, under the control of the state
and part of the state life. In spite of freedom of academic instruction
when once a teacher is installed in office, the political authorities
have always taken a hand, at critical junctures, in determining the
selection of teachers in subjects that had a direct bearing upon
political policies. Moreover, one of the chief functions of the
universities is the preparation of future state officials. Legislative
activity is distinctly subordinate to that of administration conducted
by a trained civil service, or, if you please, bureaucracy. Membership
in this bureaucracy is dependent upon university training. Philosophy,
both directly and indirectly, plays an unusually large rôle in the
training. The faculty of law does not chiefly aim at the preparation of
practicing lawyers. Philosophies of jurisprudence are essential parts of
the law teaching; and every one of the classic philosophers took a hand
in writing a philosophy of Law and of the State. Moreover, in the
theological faculties, which are also organic parts of state-controlled
institutions, the theology and higher criticism of Protestant Germany
have been developed, and developed also in close connection with
philosophical systems--like those of Kant, Schleiermacher and Hegel. In
short, the educational and administrative agencies of Germany provide
ready-made channels through which philosophic ideas may flow on their
way to practical affairs.

Political public opinion hardly exists in Germany in the sense in which
it obtains in France, Great Britain or this country. So far as it
exists, the universities may be said to be its chief organs. They,
rather than the newspapers, crystallize it and give it articulate
expression. Instead of expressing surprise at the characteristic
utterances of university men with reference to the great war, we should
then rather turn to the past history in which the ideas now uttered were

In an account of German intellectual history sufficiently extensive we
should have to go back at least to Luther. Fortunately, for our
purposes, what he actually did and taught is not so important as the
more recent tradition concerning his peculiarly Germanic status and
office. All peoples are proud of all their great men. Germany is proud
of Luther as its greatest national hero. But while most nations are
proud of their great men, Germany is proud of itself rather for
producing Luther. It finds him as a Germanic product quite natural--nay,
inevitable. A belief in the universal character of his genius thus
naturally is converted into a belief of the essentially universal
quality of the people who produced him.

Heine was not disposed by birth or temperament to overestimate the
significance of Luther. But here is what he said:

     "Luther is not only the greatest but the most _German_ man in
     our history. . . . He possessed qualities that we seldom see
     associated--nay, that we usually find in the most hostile
     antagonism. He was at once a dreamy mystic and a practical man
     of action. . . . He was both a cold scholastic word-sifter and
     an inspired God-drunk prophet. . . . He was full of the awful
     reverence of God, full of self-sacrificing devotion to
     the Holy Spirit, he could lose himself entirely in pure
     spirituality. Yet he was fully acquainted with the glories of
     this earth; he knew how estimable they are; it was his lips
     that uttered the famous maxim--

          "'Who loves not woman, wine and song,
          Remains a fool his whole life long.'

     He was a complete man, I might say an absolute man, in whom
     there was no discord between matter and spirit. To call
     him a spiritualist would be as erroneous as to call him a
     sensualist. . . . Eternal praise to the man whom we have to
     thank for the deliverance of our most precious possessions."

And again speaking of Luther's work:

     "Thus was established in Germany spiritual freedom, or as it
     is called, freedom of thought. Thought became a right and the
     decisions of reason legitimate."

The specific correctness of the above is of slight importance as
compared with the universality of the tradition which made these ideas
peculiarly Germanic, and Luther, therefore, a genuine national hero and

It is, however, with Kant that I commence. In Protestant Germany his
name is almost always associated with that of Luther. That he brought to
consciousness the true meaning of the Lutheran reformation is a
commonplace of the German historian. One can hardly convey a sense of
the unique position he occupies in the German thought of the last two
generations. It is not that every philosopher is a Kantian, or that the
professed Kantians stick literally to his text. Far from it. But Kant
must always be reckoned with. No position unlike his should be taken up
till Kant has been reverently disposed of, and the new position
evaluated in his terms. To scoff at him is fair sacrilege. In a genuine
sense, he marks the end of the older age. He _is_ the transition to
distinctively modern thought.

One shrinks at the attempt to compress even his leading ideas into an
hour. Fortunately for me, few who read my attempt will have sufficient
acquaintance with the tomes of Kantian interpretation and exposition to
appreciate the full enormity of my offense. For I cannot avoid the
effort to seize from out his highly technical writings a single idea and
to label that his germinal idea. For only in this way can we get a clew
to those general ideas with which Germany characteristically prefers to
connect the aspirations and convictions that animate its deeds.

Adventuring without further preface into this field, I find that Kant's
decisive contribution is the idea of a dual legislation of reason by
which are marked off two distinct realms--that of science and that of
morals. Each of these two realms has its own final and authoritative
constitution: On one hand, there is the world of sense, the world of
phenomena in space and time in which science is at home; on the other
hand, is the supersensible, the noumenal world, the world of moral duty
and moral freedom.

Every cultivated man is familiar with the conflict of science and
religion, brute fact and ideal purpose, what is and what ought to be,
necessity and freedom. In the domain of science causal dependence is
sovereign; while freedom is lord of moral action. It is the proud boast
of those who are Kantian in spirit that Kant discovered laws deep in the
very nature of things and of human experience whose recognition puts an
end forever to all possibility of conflict.

In principle, the discovery is as simple as its application is
far-reaching. Both science and moral obligation exist. Analysis shows
that each is based upon laws supplied by one and the same reason (of
which, as he is fond of saying, reason is the legislator); but laws of
such a nature that their respective jurisdictions can never compete. The
material for the legislation of reason in the natural world is sense. In
this sensible world of space and time, causal necessity reigns: such is
the decree of reason itself. Every attempt to find freedom, to locate
ideals, to draw support for man's moral aspirations in nature, is
predoomed to failure. The effort of reason to do these things is
contrary to the very nature of reason itself: it is self-contradictory,

When one considers the extent in which religion has been bound up with
belief in miracles, or departures from the order of nature; when one
notes how support for morals has been sought in natural law; how morals
have been tied up with man's natural tendencies to seek happiness and
with consequences in the way of reward of virtue and punishment of vice;
how history has been explained as a play of moral forces--in short, the
extent to which both the grounds and the sanctions for morality have
been sought within the time and space world, one realizes the scope of
the revolution wrought by Kant, provided his philosophy be true. Add to
this the fact that men in the past have not taken seriously the idea
that every existence in space, every event in time, is connected by
bonds of causal necessity with other existences and events, and
consequently have had no motive for the systematic pursuit of science.
How is the late appearance of science in human history to be accounted
for? How are we to understand the comparatively slight influence which
science still has upon the conduct of life? Men, when they have not
consciously looked upon nature as a scene of caprice, have failed to
bring home to themselves that nature is a scene of the legislative
activity of reason in the material of sense. This fact the Kantian
philosophy brings home to man once for all; it brings it home not as a
pious wish, nor as a precarious hope confirmed empirically here and
there by victories won by a Galileo or a Newton, but as an indubitable
fact necessary to the existence of any cognitive experience at all. The
reign of law in nature is the work of the same reason which proceeds
empirically and haltingly to the discovery of law here and there. Thus
the acceptance of the Kantian philosophy not only frees man at a single
stroke from superstition, sentimentalism and moral and theological
romanticism, but gives at the same stroke authorization and stimulation
to the detailed efforts of man to wrest from nature her secrets of
causal law. What sparse groups of men of natural science had been doing
for the three preceding centuries, Kant proclaimed to be the
manifestation of the essential constitution of man as a knowing being.
For those who accept the Kantian philosophy, it is accordingly the
_magna charta_ of scientific work: the adequate formulation of the
constitution which directs and justifies their scientific inquiries. It
is a truism to say that among the Germans as nowhere else has developed
a positive reverence for science. In what other land does one find in
the organic law mention of Science, and read in its constitution an
express provision that "Science and its teaching are free"?

But this expresses only half of Kant's work. Reason is itself
supersensible. Giving law to the material of sense and so constituting
nature, it is in itself above sense and nature, as a sovereign is above
his subjects. The supersensible world is thus a more congenial field for
its legislative activity than the physical world of space and time. But
is any such field open to human experience? Has not Kant himself closed
and locked the gates in his assertion that the entire operation of man's
knowing powers is confined to the realm of sense in which causal
necessity dominates? Yes, as far as knowledge is concerned. No, as far
as moral obligation is concerned. The fact of duty, the existence of a
categorical command to act thus and so, no matter what the pressure of
physical surroundings or the incitation of animal inclinations, is as
much a fact as the existence of knowledge of the physical world. Such a
command cannot proceed from nature. What is cannot introduce man to what
ought to be, and thus impose its own opposite upon him. Nature only
enmeshes men in its relentless machine-like movement. The very existence
of a command in man to act for the sake of what ought to be--no matter
what actually is--is thus of itself final proof of the operation of
supersensible reason within human experience: not, indeed, within
theoretical or cognitive experience, but within moral experience.

The moral law, the law of obligation, thus proceeds from a source in man
above reason. It is token of his membership as a moral being in a
kingdom of absolute ends above nature. But it is also directed to
something in man which is equally above nature: it appeals to and
demands freedom. Reason is incapable of anything so irrational, so
self-contradictory, as imposing a law of action to which no faculty of
action corresponds. The freedom of the moral will is the answer to the
unqualified demand of duty. It is not open to man to accept or reject
this truth as he may see fit. It is a principle of reason which is
involved in every exercise of reason. In denying it in name, man none
the less acknowledges it in fact. Only men already sophisticated by vice
who are seeking an excuse for their viciousness ever try to deny, even
in words, the response which freedom makes to the voice of duty. Since,
however, freedom is an absolute stranger to the natural and sensible
world, man's possession of moral freedom is the final sign and seal of
his membership in a supersensible world. The existence of an ideal or
spiritual realm with its own laws is thus certified to by the fact of
man's own citizenship within it. But, once more, this citizenship and
this certification are solely moral. Scientific or intellectual warrant
for it is impossible or self-contradictory, for science works by the
law of causal necessity with respect to what is, ignorant of any law of
freedom referring to what should be.

With the doors to the supersensible world now open, it is but a short
step to religion. Of the negative traits of true religion we may be sure
in advance. It will not be based upon intellectual grounds. Proofs of
the existence of God, of the creation of nature, of the existence of an
immaterial soul from the standpoint of knowledge are all of them
impossible. They transgress the limits of knowledge, since that is
confined to the sensible world of time and space. Neither will true
religion be based upon historic facts such as those of Jewish history or
the life of Jesus or the authority of a historic institution like a
church. For all historic facts as such fall within the realm of time
which is sensibly conditioned. From the points of view of natural
theology and historic religions Kant was greeted by his contemporaries
as the "all-shattering." Quite otherwise is it, however, as to moral
proofs of religious ideas and ideals. In Kant's own words: "I have found
it necessary to deny knowledge of God, freedom and immortality in order
to find a place for faith"--faith being a moral act.

Then he proceeds to reinterpret in terms of the sensuous natural
principle and the ideal rational principle the main doctrines of
Lutheran Protestantism. The doctrines of incarnation, original sin,
atonement, justification by faith and sanctification, while baseless
literally and historically, are symbols of the dual nature of man, as
phenomenal and noumenal. And while Kant scourges ecclesiastical
religions so far as they have relied upon ceremonies and external
authority, upon external rewards and punishments, yet he ascribes
transitional value to them in that they have symbolized ultimate moral
truths. Although dogmas are but the external vesture of inner truths,
yet it may be good for us "to continue to pay reverence to the outward
vesture since that has served to bring to general acceptance a doctrine
which really rests upon an authority within the soul of man, and which,
therefore, needs no miracle to commend it."

It is a precarious undertaking to single out some one thing in German
philosophy as of typical importance in understanding German national
life. Yet I am committed to the venture. My conviction is that we have
its root idea in the doctrine of Kant concerning the two realms, one
outer, physical and necessary, the other inner, ideal and free. To this
we must add that, in spite of their separateness and independence, the
primacy always lies with the inner. As compared with this, the
philosophy of a Nietzsche, to which so many resort at the present time
for explanation of what seems to them otherwise inexplicable, is but a
superficial and transitory wave of opinion. Surely the chief mark of
distinctively German civilization is its combination of self-conscious
idealism with unsurpassed technical efficiency and organization in the
varied fields of action. If this is not a realization in fact of what is
found in Kant, I am totally at loss for a name by which to characterize
it. I do not mean that conscious adherence to the philosophy of Kant has
been the cause of the marvelous advances made in Germany in the natural
sciences and in the systematic application of the fruits of intelligence
to industry, trade, commerce, military affairs, education, civic
administration and industrial organization. Such a claim would be
absurd. But I do mean, primarily, that Kant detected and formulated the
direction in which the German genius was moving, so that his philosophy
is of immense prophetic significance; and, secondarily, that his
formulation has furnished a banner and a conscious creed which in solid
and definite fashion has intensified and deepened the work actually

In bringing to an imaginative synthesis what might have remained an
immense diversity of enterprises, Kantianism has helped formulate a
sense of a national mission and destiny. Over and above this, his
formulation and its influence aids us to understand why the German
consciousness has never been swamped by its technical efficiency and
devotion, but has remained self-consciously, not to say
self-righteously, idealistic. Such a work as Germany has undertaken
might well seem calculated to generate attachment to a positivistic or
even materialistic philosophy and to a utilitarian ethics. But no; the
teaching of Kant had put mechanism forever in its subordinate place at
the very time it inculcated devotion to mechanism in its place. Above
and beyond as an end, for the sake of which all technical achievements,
all promotion of health, wealth and happiness, exist, lies the realm of
inner freedom, of the ideal and the supersensible. The more the Germans
accomplish in the way of material conquest, the more they are conscious
of fulfilling an ideal mission; every external conquest affords the
greater warrant for dwelling in an inner region where mechanism does not
intrude. Thus it turns out that while the Germans have been, to employ a
catchword of recent thought, the most technically pragmatic of all
peoples in their actual conduct of affairs, there is no people so
hostile to the spirit of a pragmatic philosophy.

The combination of devotion to mechanism and organization in outward
affairs and of loyalty to freedom and consciousness in the inner realm
has its obvious attractions. Realized in the common temper of a people
it might well seem invincible. Ended is the paralysis of action arising
from the split between science and useful achievements on one side and
spiritual and ideal aspirations on the other. Each feeds and reinforces
the other. Freedom of soul and subordination of action dwell in harmony.
Obedience, definite subjection and control, detailed organization is the
lesson enforced by the rule of causal necessity in the outer world of
space and time in which action takes place. Unlimited freedom, the
heightening of consciousness for its own sake, sheer reveling in noble
ideals, the law of the inner world. What more can mortal man ask?

It would not be difficult, I imagine, to fill the three hours devoted to
these lectures with quotations from representative German authors to the
effect that supreme regard for the inner meaning of things, reverence
for inner truth in disregard of external consequences of advantage or
disadvantage, is the distinguishing mark of the German spirit as
against, say, the externality of the Latin spirit or the utilitarianism
of Anglo-Saxondom. I content myself with one quotation, a quotation
which also indicates the same inclination to treat historic facts as
symbolic of great truths which is found in Kant's treatment of church
dogmas. Speaking of the Germanic languages, an historian of German
civilization says:

     "While all other Indo-European languages allow a wide liberty
     in placing the accent and make external considerations,
     such as the quantity of the syllables and euphony, of
     deciding influence, the Germanic tribes show a remarkable
     and intentional transition to an internal principle of
     accentuation. . . . Of all related peoples the Germanic alone
     puts the accent on the root syllable of the word, that is, on
     the part that gives it its meaning. There is hardly an
     ethnological fact extant which gives so much food for thought
     as this. What leads these people to give up a habit which must
     have been so old that it had become instinctive, and to evolve
     out of their own minds a principle which indicates a power of
     discrimination far in advance of anything we are used to
     attribute to the lower stages of civilization? Circumstances
     of which we are not now aware must have compelled them to
     distinguish the inner essence of things from their external
     form, and must have taught them to appreciate the former as of
     higher, indeed as of sole, importance. It is this accentuation
     of the real substance of things, the ever-powerful desire to
     discover this real substance, and the ever-present impulse to
     give expression to this inner reality which has become the
     controlling trait of the Germanic soul. Hence the conviction
     gained by countless unfruitful efforts, that reason alone will
     never get at the true foundation of things; hence the
     thoroughness of German science; hence a great many of the
     qualities that explain Germanic successes and failures; hence,
     perhaps, a certain stubbornness and obstinacy, the
     unwillingness to give up a conviction once formed; hence the
     tendency to mysticism; hence that continuous struggle which
     marks the history of German art,--the struggle to give to the
     contents powerful and adequate expression, and to satisfy at
     the same time the requirements of esthetic elegance and
     beauty, a struggle in which the victory is ever on the side of
     truth, though it be homely, over beauty of form whenever it
     appears deceitful; hence the part played by music as the only
     expression of those imponderable vibrations of the soul for
     which language seems to have no words; hence the faith of the
     German in his mission among the nations as a bringer of truth,
     as a recognizer of the real value of things as against the
     hollow shell of beautiful form, as the doer of right deeds for
     their own sake and not for any reward beyond the natural
     outcome of the deed itself."

The division established between the outer realm, in which of course
acts fall, and the inner realm of consciousness explains what is
otherwise so paradoxical to a foreigner in German writings: The constant
assertion that Germany brought to the world the conscious recognition of
the principle of freedom coupled with the assertion of the relative
incompetency of the German folk _en masse_ for political self-direction.
To one saturated by the English tradition which identifies freedom with
power to act upon one's ideas, to make one's purposes effective in
regulation of public affairs, the combination seems self-contradictory.
To the German it is natural. Readers who have been led by newspaper
quotations to regard Bernhardi as preaching simply a gospel of superior
force will find in his writings a continual assertion that _the_ German
spirit is the spirit of freedom, of complete intellectual
self-determination; that the Germans have "always been the standard
bearers of free thought." We find him supporting his teachings not by
appeal to Nietzsche, but by the Kantian distinction between the
"empirical and rational ego."

It is Bernhardi who says:

     "Two great movements were born from the German intellectual
     life, on which, henceforth, _all the intellectual and moral
     progress of mankind must rest_:--The Reformation and the
     critical philosophy. The Reformation that broke the
     intellectual yoke imposed by the Church, which checked all
     free progress; and the Critique of Pure Reason which put a
     stop to the caprice of philosophic speculation by defining for
     the human mind the limitations of its capacities for
     knowledge, and at the same time pointed out the way in which
     knowledge is really possible. On this substructure was
     developed the intellectual life of our time, whose deepest
     significance consists in the attempt to reconcile the result
     of free inquiry with the religious needs of the heart, and
     thus to lay a foundation for the harmonious organization of
     mankind. . . . The German nation not only laid the foundations
     of this great struggle for a harmonious development of humanity
     but took the lead in it. We are thus incurring an obligation
     for the future from which we cannot shrink. We must be
     prepared to be the leader in this campaign which is being
     fought for the highest stake that has been offered to human
     efforts. . . . To no nation except the German has it been given
     to enjoy in its inner self 'that which is given to mankind as
     a whole.' . . . It is this quality which especially fits us for
     leadership in the intellectual domain and _imposes upon us the
     obligation to maintain that position_."[35:A]

          [35:A] Bernhardi, "Germany and the Next War," pp.
          73-74. Italics not in the original text.

More significant than the words themselves are their occasion and the
occupation of the one who utters them. Outside of Germany, cavalry
generals who employ philosophy to bring home practical lessons are, I
think, rare. Outside of Germany, it would be hard to find an audience
where an appeal for military preparedness would be reinforced by
allusions to the Critique of Pure Reason.

Yet only by taking such statements seriously can one understand the
temper in which opinion in Germany meets a national crisis. When the
philosopher Eucken (who received a Nobel prize for contributing to the
idealistic literature of the world) justifies the part taken by Germany
in a world war because the Germans alone do not represent a
particularistic and nationalistic spirit, but embody the "universalism"
of humanity itself, he utters a conviction bred in German thought by the
ruling interpretation of German philosophic idealism. By the side of
this _motif_ the glorification of war as a biologic necessity, forced by
increase of population, is a secondary detail, giving a totally false
impression when isolated from its context. The main thing is that
Germany, more than any other nation, in a sense alone of all nations,
embodies the essential principle of humanity: freedom of spirit,
combined with thorough and detailed work in the outer sphere where
reigns causal law, where obedience, discipline and subordination are
the necessities of successful organization. It is perhaps worth while to
recall that Kant lived, taught and died in Königsberg; and that
Königsberg was the chief city of east Prussia, an island still cut off
in his early years from western Prussia, a titular capital for the
Prussian kings where they went for their coronations. His lifework in
philosophy coincides essentially with the political work of Frederick
the Great, the king who combined a régime of freedom of thought and
complete religious toleration with the most extraordinary display known
in history of administrative and military efficiency. Fortunately for
our present purposes, Kant, in one of his minor essays, has touched upon
this combination and stated its philosophy in terms of his own thought.

The essay in question is that entitled "What is the Enlightenment?" His
reply in substance is that it is the coming of age on the part of
humanity: the transition from a state of minority or infancy wherein man
does not dare to think freely to that period of majority or maturity in
which mankind dares to use its own power of understanding. The growth of
this power of free use of reason is the sole hope of progress in human
affairs. External revolutions which are not the natural expression of an
inner or intellectual revolution are of little significance. Genuine
growth is found in the slow growth of science and philosophy and in the
gradual diffusion throughout the mass of the discoveries and conclusions
of those who are superior in intelligence. True freedom is inner
freedom, freedom of thought together with the liberty consequent upon it
of teaching and publication. To check this rational freedom "is a sin
against the very nature of man, the primary law of which consists in
just the advance in rational enlightenment."

In contrast with this realm of inner freedom stands that of civil and
political action, the principle of which is obedience or subordination
to constituted authority. Kant illustrates the nature of the two by the
position of a military subordinate who is given an order to execute
which his reason tells him is unwise. His sole duty in the realm of
practice is to obey--to do his duty. But as a member not of the State
but of the kingdom of science, he has the right of free inquiry and
publication. Later he might write upon the campaign in which this event
took place and point out, upon intellectual grounds, the mistake
involved in the order. No wonder that Kant proclaims that the age of the
enlightenment is the age of Frederick the Great. Yet we should do
injustice to Kant if we inferred that he expected this dualism of
spheres of action, with its twofold moral law of freedom and obedience,
to endure forever. By the exercise of freedom of thought, and by its
publication and the education which should make its results permeate the
whole state, the habits of a nation will finally become elevated to
rationality, and the spread of reason will make it possible for the
government to treat men, not as cogs in a machine, but in accord with
the dignity of rational creatures.

Before leaving this theme, I must point out one aspect of the work of
reason thus far passed over. Nature, the sensible world of space and
time, is, as a knowable object, constituted by the legislative work of
reason, although constituted out of a non-rational sensible stuff. This
determining work of reason forms not merely the Idealism of the Kantian
philosophy but determines its emphasis upon the _a priori_. The
functions of reason through which nature is rendered a knowable object
cannot be derived from experience, for they are necessary to the
existence of experience. The details of this _a priori_ apparatus lie
far outside our present concern. Suffice it to say that as compared with
some of his successors, Kant was an economical soul and got along with
only two _a priori_ forms and twelve _a priori_ categories. The mental
habitudes generated by attachment to _a priori_ categories cannot
however be entirely neglected in even such a cursory discussion as the

If one were to follow the suggestion involved in the lately quoted
passage as to the significant symbolism of the place of the accent in
German speech, one might discourse upon the deep meaning of the
Capitalization of Nouns in the written form of the German language,
together with the richness of the language in abstract nouns. One might
fancy that the dignity of the common noun substantive, expressing as it
does the universal or generic, has bred an intellectual deference. One
may fancy a whole nation of readers reverently bowing their heads at
each successively capitalized word. In such fashion one might arrive at
a picture, not without its truth, of what it means to be devoted to _a
priori_ rational principles.

A number of times during the course of the world war I have heard
someone remark that he would not so much mind what the Germans did if it
were not for the reasons assigned in its justification. But to
rationalize such a tangled skein as human experience is a difficult
task. If one is in possession of antecedent rational concepts which are
legislative for experience, the task is much simplified. It only remains
to subsume each empirical event under its proper category. If the
outsider does not see the applicability of the concept to the event, it
may be argued that his blindness shows his ineptness for truly universal
thinking. He is probably a crass empiric who thinks in terms of material
consequences instead of upon the basis of antecedent informing
principles of reason.

Thus it has come about that no moral, social or political question is
adequately discussed in Germany until the matter in hand has been
properly deduced from an exhaustive determination of its fundamental
_Begriff_ or _Wesen_. Or if the material is too obviously empirical to
allow of such deduction, it must at least be placed under its
appropriate rational form. What a convenience, what a resource, nay,
what a weapon is the Kantian distinction of _a priori_ rational form and
_a posteriori_ empirical matter. Let the latter be as brutely
diversified, as chaotic as you please. There always exists a form of
unity under which it may be brought. If the empirical facts are
recalcitrant, so much the worse for them. It only shows how empirical
they are. To put them under a rational form is but to subdue their
irrational opposition to reason, or to invade their lukewarm neutrality.
Any violence done them is more than indemnified by the favor of bringing
them under the sway of _a priori_ reason, the incarnation of the
Absolute on earth.

Yet there are certain disadvantages attached to _a priori_ categories.
They have a certain rigidity, appalling to those who have not learned to
identify stiffness with force. Empirical matters are subject to
revision. The strongest belief that claims the support of experience is
subject to modification when experience testifies against it. But an _a
priori_ conception is not open to adverse evidence. There is no court
having jurisdiction. If, then, an unfortunate mortal should happen to
be imposed upon so that he was led to regard a prejudice or predilection
as an _a priori_ truth, contrary experience would have a tendency to
make him the more obstinate in his belief. History proves what a
dangerous thing it has been for men, when they try to impose their will
upon other men, to think of themselves as special instruments and organs
of Deity. The danger is equally great when an _a priori_ Reason is
substituted for a Divine Providence. Empirically grounded truths do not
have a wide scope; they do not inspire such violent loyalty to
themselves as ideas supposed to proceed directly from reason itself. But
they are discussable; they have a humane and social quality, while
truths of pure reason have a paradoxical way, in the end, of escaping
from the arbitrament of reasoning. They evade the logic of experience,
only to become, in the phrase of a recent writer, the spoil of a "logic
of fanaticism." Weapons forged in the smithy of the Absolute become
brutal and cruel when confronted by merely human resistance.

The stiffly constrained character of an _a priori_ Reason manifests
itself in another way. A category of pure reason is suspiciously like a
pigeonhole. An American writer, speaking before the present war,
remarked with witty exaggeration that "Germany is a monstrous set of
pigeonholes, and every mother's son of a German is pigeoned in his
respective hole--tagged, labeled and ticketed. Germany is a huge human
check-room, and the government carries the checks in its pocket." John
Locke's deepest objection to the older form of the _a priori_
philosophy, the doctrine of innate ideas, was the readiness with which
such ideas become strongholds behind which authority shelters itself
from questioning. And John Morley pointed out long ago the undoubted
historic fact that the whole modern liberal social and political
movement has allied itself with philosophic empiricism. It is hard here,
as everywhere, to disentangle cause and effect. But one can at least say
with considerable assurance that a hierarchically ordered and subordered
State will feel an affinity for a philosophy of fixed categories, while
a flexible democratic society will, in its crude empiricism, exhibit
loose ends.

There is a story to the effect that the good townspeople of Königsberg
were accustomed to their watches by the time at which Kant passed upon
his walks--so uniform was he. Yielding to the Teutonic temptation to
find an inner meaning in the outer event, one may wonder whether German
thought has not since Kant's time set its intellectual and spiritual
clocks by the Kantian standard: the separation of the inner and the
outer, with its lesson of freedom and idealism in one realm, and of
mechanism, efficiency and organization in the other. A German professor
of philosophy has said that while the Latins live in the present moment,
the Germans live in the infinite and ineffable. His accusation (though I
am not sure he meant it as such) is not completely justified. But it
does seem to be true that the Germans, more readily than other peoples,
can withdraw themselves from the exigencies and contingencies of life
into a region of _Innerlichkeit_ which at least _seems_ boundless; and
which can rarely be successfully uttered save through music, and a frail
and tender poetry, sometimes domestic, sometimes lyric, but always full
of mysterious charm. But technical ideas, ideas about means and
instruments, can readily be externalized because the outer world is in
truth their abiding home.



It is difficult to select sentences from Kant which are intelligible to
those not trained in his vocabulary, unless the selection is accompanied
by an almost word-by-word commentary. His writings have proved an
admirable _terrain_ for the display of German _Gründlichkeit_. But I
venture upon the quotation of one sentence which may serve the purpose
of at once recalling the main lesson of the previous lecture and
furnishing a transition to the theme of the present hour.

     "Even if an immeasurable gulf is fixed between the sensible
     realm of the concept of nature and the supersensible realm of
     the concept of freedom, so that it is not possible to go from
     the first to the second (at least by means of the theoretical
     use of reason) any more than if they were two separate worlds
     of which the first could have no influence upon the
     second,--yet the second is _meant_ to have an influence upon
     the first. The concept of freedom is meant to actualize in the
     world of sense the purpose proposed by its laws." . . .

That is, the relation between the world of space and time where physical
causality reigns and the moral world of freedom and duty is not a
symmetrical one. The former cannot intrude into the latter. But it is
the very nature of moral legislation that it is meant to influence the
world of sense; its object is to realize the purposes of free rational
action within the sense world. This fact fixes the chief features of
Kant's philosophy of Morals and of the State.

It is a claim of the admirers of Kant that he first brought to
recognition the true and infinite nature of the principle of
Personality. On one side, the individual is _homo phenomenon_--a part of
the scheme of nature, governed by its laws as much as any stone or
plant. But in virtue of his citizenship in the kingdom of supersensible
Laws and Ends, he is elevated to true universality. He is no longer a
mere occurrence. He is a Person--one in whom the purpose of Humanity is
incarnate. In English and American writings the terms subjective and
subjectivism usually carry with them a disparaging color. Quite
otherwise is it in German literature. This sets the age of subjectivism,
whose commencement, roughly speaking, coincides with the influence of
Kantian thought, in sharp opposition to the age of individualism, as
well as to a prior period of subordination to external authority.
Individualism means isolation; it means external relations of human
beings with one another and with the world; it looks at things
quantitatively, in terms of wholes and parts. Subjectivism means
recognition of the principle of free personality: the self as creative,
occupied not with an external world which limits it from without, but,
through its own self-consciousness, finding a world within itself; and
having found the universal within itself, setting to work to recreate
itself in what had been the external world, and by its own creative
expansion in industry, art and politics to transform what had been mere
limiting material into a work of its own. Free as was Kant from the
sentimental, the mystic and the romantic phases of this Subjectivism, we
shall do well to bear it in mind in thinking of his ethical theory.
Personality means that man as a rational being does not receive the end
which forms the law of his action from without, whether from Nature, the
State or from God, but from his own self. Morality is autonomous; man,
humanity, is an end in itself. Obedience to the self-imposed law will
transform the sensible world (within which falls all social ties so far
as they spring from natural instinct desire) into a form appropriate to
universal reason. Thus we may paraphrase the sentence quoted from Kant.

The gospel of duty has an invigorating ring. It is easy to present it as
the most noble and sublime of all moral doctrines. What is more worthy
of humanity, what better marks the separation of man from brute, than
the will to subordinate selfish desire and individual inclination to the
commands of stern and lofty duty? And if the idea of command (which
inevitably goes with the notion of duty) carries a sinister suggestion
of legal authority, pains and penalties and of subservience to an
external authority who issues the commands, Kant seems to have provided
a final corrective in insisting that duty is self-imposed. Moral
commands are imposed by the higher, supranatural self upon the lower
empirical self, by the rational self upon the self of passions and
inclinations. German philosophy is attached to antitheses and their
reconciliation in a higher synthesis. The Kantian principle of Duty is a
striking case of the reconciliation of the seemingly conflicting ideas
of freedom and authority.

Unfortunately, however, the balance cannot be maintained in practice.
Kant's faithful logic compels him to insist that the concept of duty is
empty and formal. It tells men that to do their duty is their supreme
law of action, but is silent as to what men's duties specifically are.
Kant, moreover, insists, as he is in logic bound to do, that the motive
which measures duty is wholly inner; it is purely a matter of inner
consciousness. To admit that consequences can be taken into account in
deciding what duty is in a particular case would be to make concessions
to the empirical and sensible world which are fatal to the scheme. The
combination of these two features of pure internality and pure formalism
leads, in a world where men's _acts_ take place wholly in the external
and empirical region, to serious consequences.

The dangerous character of these consequences may perhaps be best
gathered indirectly by means of a quotation.

     "While the French people in savage revolt against spiritual
     and secular despotism had broken their chains and proclaimed
     their _rights_, another quite different revolution was working
     in Prussia--the revolution of _duty_. The assertion of the
     rights of the individual leads ultimately to individual
     irresponsibility and to a repudiation of the State. Immanuel
     Kant, the founder of the critical philosophy, taught, in
     opposition to this view, the gospel of moral duty, and
     Scharnhorst grasped the idea of universal military service. By
     calling upon which individual to sacrifice property and life
     for the good of the community, he gave the clearest expression
     to the idea of the State, and created a sound basis on which
     the claims to individual rights might rest."[52:A]

          [52:A] Bernhardi, "Germany and the Next War," pp.

The sudden jump, by means of only a comma, from the gospel of moral duty
to universal military service is much more logical than the shock which
it gives to an American reader would indicate. I do not mean, of course,
that Kant's teaching was the cause of Prussia's adoption of universal
military service and of the thoroughgoing subordination of individual
happiness and liberty of action to that capitalized entity, the State.
But I do mean that when the practical political situation called for
universal military service in order to support and expand the existing
state, the gospel of a Duty devoid of content naturally lent itself to
the consecration and idealization of such specific duties as the
existing national order might prescribe. The sense of duty must get its
subject-matter somewhere, and unless subjectivism was to revert to
anarchic or romantic individualism (which is hardly in the spirit of
obedience to authoritative law) its appropriate subject-matter lies in
the commands of a superior. Concretely what the State commands is the
congenial outer filling of a purely inner sense of duty. That the
despotism of Frederick the Great and of the Hohenzollerns who remained
true to his policy was at least that hitherto unknown thing, an
enlightened despotism, made the identification easier. Individuals have
at all times, in epochs of stress, offered their supreme sacrifice to
their country's good. In Germany this sacrifice in times of peace as
well as of war has been systematically reinforced by an inner mystic
sense of a Duty elevating men to the plane of the universal and

In short, the sublime gospel of duty has its defects. Outside of the
theological and the Kantian moral traditions, men have generally agreed
that duties are relative to ends. Not the obligation, but some purpose,
some good, which the fulfillment of duty realizes, is the principle of
morals. The business of reason is to see that the end, the good, for
which one acts is a reasonable one--that is to say, as wide and as
equitable in its working out as the situation permits. Morals which are
based upon consideration of good and evil consequences not only allow,
but imperiously demand the exercise of a discriminating intelligence. A
gospel of duty separated from empirical purposes and results tends to
gag intelligence. It substitutes for the work of reason displayed in a
wide and distributed survey of consequences in order to determine where
duty lies an inner consciousness, empty of content, which clothes with
the form of rationality the demands of existing social authorities. A
consciousness which is not based upon and checked by consideration of
actual results upon human welfare is none the less socially
irresponsible because labeled Reason.

Professor Eucken represents a type of idealistic philosophy which is
hardly acceptable to strict Kantians. Yet only where the fundamental
Kantian ideas were current would such ethical ideas as the following

     "When justice is considered as a mere means of securing man's
     welfare, and is treated accordingly--whether it be the welfare
     of individuals or of society as a whole makes no essential
     difference--it loses all its characteristic features. No
     longer can it compel us to see life from its own standpoint;
     no longer can it change the existing condition of things; no
     longer can it sway our hearts with the force of a primitive
     passion, and oppose to all consideration of consequences an
     irresistible spiritual compulsion. It degenerates rather into
     the complaisant servant of utility; it adopts herself to her
     demands, and in so doing suffers inward annihilation. It can
     maintain itself only when it comes as a unique revelation of
     the Spiritual Life within our human world, as a lofty Presence
     transcending all considerations of expediency."[55:A]

          [55:A] Eucken, "The Meaning and Value of Life,"
          translated by Gibson, p. 104.

Such writing is capable of arousing emotional reverberations in the
breasts of many persons. But they are emotions which, if given headway,
smother intelligence, and undermine its responsibility for promoting the
actual goods of life. If justice loses all its characteristic features
when regarded as a means (the word "mere" inserted before "means" speaks
volumes) of the welfare of society as a whole, then there is no
objective and responsible criterion for justice at all. A justice which,
irrespective of the determination of social well-being, proclaims itself
as an irresistible spiritual impulsion possessed of the force of a
primitive passion, is nothing but a primitive passion clothed with a
spiritual title so that it is protected from having to render an account
of itself. During an ordinary course of things, it passes for but an
emotional indulgence; in a time of stress and strain, it exhibits itself
as surrender of intelligence to passion.

The passage (from Bernhardi) quoted earlier puts the German principle of
duty in opposition to the French principle of rights--a favorite
contrast in German thought. Men like Jeremy Bentham also found the
Revolutionary Rights of Man doctrinaire and conducing to tyranny rather
than to freedom. These Rights were _a priori_, like Duty, being derived
from the supposed nature or essence of man, instead of being adopted as
empirical expedients to further progress and happiness. But the
conception of duty is one-sided, expressing command on one side and
obedience on the other, while rights are at least reciprocal. Rights are
social and sociable in accord with the spirit of French philosophy. Put
in a less abstract form than the revolutionary theory stated them, they
are things to be discussed and measured. They admit of more and less, of
compromise and adjustment. So also does the characteristic moral
contribution of English thought--intelligent self-interest. This is
hardly an ultimate idea. But at least it evokes a picture of merchants
bargaining, while the categorical imperative calls up the drill
sergeant. Trafficking ethics, in which each gives up something which he
wants to get something which he wants more, is not the noblest kind of
morals, but at least it is socially responsible as far as it goes. "Give
so that it may be given to you in return" has at least some tendency to
bring men together; it promotes agreement. It requires deliberation and
discussion. This is just what the authoritative voice of a superior will
not tolerate; it is the one unforgiveable sin.

The morals of bargaining, exchange, the mutual satisfaction of wants may
be outlived in some remote future, but up to the present they play an
important part in life. To me there is something uncanny in the scorn
which German ethics, in behalf of an unsullied moral idealism, pours
upon a theory which takes cognizance of practical motives. In a highly
esthetic people one might understand the display of contempt. But when
an aggressive and commercial nation carries on commerce and war simply
from the motive of obedience to duty, there is awakened an unpleasant
suspicion of a suppressed "psychic complex." When Nietzsche says, "Man
does not desire happiness; only the Englishman does that," we laugh at
the fair hit. But persons who profess no regard for happiness as a test
of action have an unfortunate way of living up to their principle by
making others _un_happy. I should entertain some suspicion of the
complete sincerity of those who profess disregard for their own
happiness, but I should be quite certain of their sincerity when it
comes to a question of _my_ happiness.

Within the Kantian philosophy of morals there is an idea which conducts
necessarily to a philosophy of society and the State. Leibniz was the
great German source of the philosophy of the enlightenment. Harmony was
the dominant thought of this philosophy; the harmony of nature with
itself and with intelligence; the harmony of nature with the moral ends
of humanity. Although Kant was a true son of the enlightenment, his
doctrine of the radically dual nature of the legislation of Reason put
an end to its complacent optimism. According to Kant, morality is in no
way a work of nature. It is the achievement of the self-conscious reason
of man through conquest of nature. The ideal of a final harmony remains,
but it is an ideal to be won through a battle with the natural forces of
man. His breach with the enlightenment is nowhere as marked as in his
denial that man is by nature good. On the contrary, man is by nature
evil--that is, his philosophical rendering of the doctrine of original
sin. Not that the passions, appetites and senses are of themselves evil,
but they tend to usurp the sovereignty of duty as the _motivating_
force of human action. Hence morality is a ceaseless battle to transform
all the natural desires of man into willing servants of the law and
purpose of reason.

Even the kindly and sociable instincts of man, in which so many have
sought the basis of both morality and organized society, fall under
Kant's condemnation. As natural desires, they aspire to an illegitimate
control in man's motives. They are parts of human self-love: the
unlawful tendency to make happiness the controlling purpose of action.
The natural relations of man to man are those of an unsocial
sociableness. On the one hand, men are forced together by natural ties.
Only in social relations can individuals develop their capacities. But
no sooner do they come together than disintegrating tendencies set in.
Union with his fellows give a stimulus to vanity, avarice and gaining
power over others--traits which cannot show in themselves in individuals
when they are isolated. This mutual antagonism is, however, more of a
force in evolving man from savagery to civilization than are the kindly
and sociable instincts.

     "Without these unlovely qualities which set man over against
     man in strife, individuals would have lived on in perfect
     harmony, contentment and mutual love, with all their
     distinctive abilities latent and undeveloped."

In short, they would have remained in Rousseau's paradise of a state of
nature, and

     "perhaps Rousseau was right when he preferred the savage state
     to the state of civilization provided we leave out of account
     the last stage to which our species is yet destined to rise."

But since the condition of civilization is but an intermediary between
the natural state and the truly or rational moral condition to which man
is to rise, Rousseau was wrong.

     "Thanks then be to nature for the unsociableness, the spiteful
     competition of vanity, the insatiate desires for power and

These quotations, selected from Kant's little essay on an "Idea for a
Universal History," are precious for understanding two of the most
characteristic traits of subsequent German thought, the distinctions
made between Society and the State and between Civilization and
Culture. Much of the trouble which has been experienced in respect to
the recent use of _Kultur_ might have been allayed by a knowledge that
_Kultur_ has little in common with the English word "culture" save a
likeness in sound. _Kultur_ is sharply antithetical to civilization in
its meaning. Civilization is a natural and largely unconscious or
involuntary growth. It is, so to speak, a by-product of the needs
engendered when people live close together. It is external, in short.
Culture, on the other, is deliberate and conscious. It is a fruit not of
men's natural motives, but of natural motives which have been
transformed by the inner spirit. Kant made the distinction when he said
that Rousseau was not so far wrong in preferring savagery to
civilization, since civilization meant simply social decencies and
elegancies and outward proprieties, while morality, that is, the rule of
the end of Reason, is necessary to culture. And the real significance of
the term "culture" becomes more obvious when he adds that it involves
the slow toil of education of the Inner Life, and that the attainment of
culture on the part of an individual depends upon long effort by the
community to which he belongs. It is not primarily an individual trait
or possession, but a conquest of the community won through devotion to

In recent German literature, Culture has been given even a more sharply
technical distinction from Civilization and one which emphasizes even
more its collective and nationalistic character. Civilization as
external and uncontrolled by self-conscious purpose includes such things
as language in its more spontaneous colloquial expression, trade,
conventional manners or etiquette, and the police activities of
government. _Kultur_ comprises language used for purposes of higher
literature; commerce pursued not as means of enriching individuals but
as a condition of the development of national life; art, philosophy
(especially in that untranslatable thing, the "Welt-Anschauung");
science, religion, and the activities of the state in the nurture and
expansion of the other forms of national genius, that is, its activities
in education and the army. The legislation of Bismarck with reference to
certain Roman Catholic orders is nicknamed _Kultur-kampf_, for it was
conceived as embodying a struggle between two radically different
philosophies of life, the Roman, or Italian, and the true Germanic, not
simply as a measure of political expediency. Thus it is that a trading
and military post like Kiao-Chou is officially spoken of as a "monument
of Teutonic _Kultur_." The war now raging is conceived of as an outer
manifestation of a great spiritual struggle, in which what is really at
stake is the supreme value of the Germanic attitude in philosophy,
science and social questions generally, the "specifically German habits
of feeling and thinking."

Very similar motives are at work in the distinction between society and
the State, which is almost a commonplace of German thought. In English
and American writings the State is almost always used to denote society
in its more organized aspects, or it may be identified with government
as a special agency operating for the collective interests of men in
association. But in German literature society is a technical term and
means something empirical and, so to speak, external; while the State,
if not avowedly something mystic and transcendental, is at least a moral
entity, the creation of self-conscious reason operating in behalf of the
spiritual and ideal interests of its members. Its function is cultural,
educative. Even when it intervenes in material interests, as it does in
regulating lawsuits, poor laws, protective tariffs, etc., etc., its
action has ultimately an ethical significance: its purpose is the
furthering of an ideal community. The same thing is to be said of wars
when they are really national wars, and not merely dynastic or

Society is an expression of man's egoistic nature; his natural seeking
for personal advantage and profit. Its typical manifestation is in
competitive economic struggle and in the struggle for honor and
recognized social status. These have their proper place; but with
respect even to them it is the duty of the State to intervene so that
the struggle may contribute to ideal ends which alone are universal.
Hence the significance of the force or power of the State. Unlike other
forms of force, it has a sort of sacred import, for it represents force
consecrated to the assertion and expansion of final goods which are
spiritual, moral, rational. These absolute ends can be maintained only
in struggle against man's individualistic ends. Conquest through
conflict is the law of morals everywhere.

In Kant we find only the beginnings of this political philosophy. He is
still held back by the individualism of the eighteenth century.
Everything legal and political is conceived by him as external and hence
outside the strictly moral realm of inner motivation. Yet he is not
content to leave the State and its law as a wholly unmoral matter. The
_natural_ motives of man are, according to Kant (evidently following
Hobbes), love of power, love of gain, love of glory. These motives are
egoistic; they issue in strife--in the war of all against all. While
such a state of affairs does not and cannot invade the inner realm of
duty, the realm of the moral motive, it evidently presents a régime in
which the conquest of the world of sense by the law of reason cannot be
effected. Man in his rational or universal capacity must, therefore,
will an outward order of harmony in which it is at least possible for
acts dictated by rational freedom to get a footing. Such an outer order
is the State. Its province is not to promote moral freedom
directly--only the moral will can do that. But its business is to hinder
the hindrances to freedom: to establish a social condition of outward
order in which truly moral acts may gradually evolve a kingdom of
humanity. Thus while the State does not have a directly moral scope of
action (since the coercion of motive is a moral absurdity), it does have
a moral basis and an ultimate moral function.

It is the law of reason, "holy and inviolable," which impels man to the
institution of the State, not natural sociability, much less
considerations of expediency. And so necessary is the State to
humanity's realization of its moral purpose that there can be no right
of revolution. The overthrow and execution of the sovereign (Kant
evidently had the French Revolution and Louis XVI in mind) is "an
immortal and inexpiable sin like the sin against the Holy Ghost spoken
of by theologians, which can never be forgiven in this world or in the

Kant was enough of a child of the eighteenth century to be cosmopolitan,
not nationalistic, in his feeling. Since humanity as a whole, in its
universality, alone truly corresponds to the universality of reason, he
upheld the ideal of an ultimate republican federation of states; he was
one of the first to proclaim the possibility of enduring peace among
nations on the basis of such a federated union of mankind.

The threatened domination of Europe by Napoleon following on the wars
waged by republican France put an end, however, to cosmopolitanism.
Since Germany was the greatest sufferer from these wars, and since it
was obvious that the lack of national unity, the division of Germany
into a multitude of petty states, was the great source of her weakness;
since it was equally obvious that Prussia, the one strong and
centralized power among the German states, was the only thing which
saved them all from national extinction, subsequent political philosophy
in Germany rescued the idea of the State from the somewhat ambiguous
moral position in which Kant had left it. Since a state which is an
absolute moral necessity and whose actions are nevertheless lacking in
inherent moral quality is an anomaly, the doctrine almost calls for a
theory which shall make the State the supreme moral entity.

Fichte marks the beginning of the transformation; and, in his writings,
it is easy to detect a marked difference of attitude toward the
nationalistic state before and after 1806, when in the battle of Jena
Germany went down to inglorious defeat. From the time of Fichte, the
German philosophy of the State blends with its philosophy of history, so
that my reservation of the latter topic for the next section is somewhat
arbitrary, and I shall not try rigidly to maintain the division of

I have already mentioned the fact that Kant relaxes the separation of
the moral realm of freedom from the sensuous realm of nature
sufficiently to assert that the former is _meant_ to influence the
latter and finally to subjugate it. By means of the little crack thus
introduced into nature, Fichte rewrites the Kantian philosophy. The
world of sense must be regarded from the very start as material which
the free, rational, moral Ego has created in order to have material for
its own adequate realization of will. Fichte had a longing for an
absolute unity which did not afflict Kant, to whom, save for the
concession just referred to, a complete separation of the two operations
of legislative reason sufficed. Fichte was also an ardently _active_
soul, whose very temperament assured him of the subordination of
theoretical knowledge to moral action.

It would be as difficult to give, in short space, an adequate sketch of
Fichte's philosophy as of Kant's. To him, however, reason was the
expression of the will, not (as with Kant) the will an application of
reason to action. "_Im Anfang war die That_" is good Fichteanism. While
Kant continued the usual significance of the term Reason (with only such
modifications as the rationalism of his century had made current),
Fichte began the transformation which consummated in later German
idealism. If the world of nature and of human relations is an expression
of reason, then reason must be the sort of thing, and have the sort of
attributes by means of which the world may be construed, no matter how
far away this conception of reason takes us from the usual meaning of
the term. To Fichte the formula which best described such aspects of the
world and of life as he was interested in was effort at self-realization
through struggle with difficulties and overcoming opposition. Hence his
formula for reason was a Will which, having "posited" itself, then
"posited" its antithesis in order, through further action subjugating
this opposite, to conquer its own freedom.

The doctrine of the primacy of the Deed, and of the Duty to achieve
freedom through moral self-assertion against obstacles (which, after
all, are there only to further this self-assertion) was one which could,
with more or less plausibility, be derived from Kant. More to our
present point, it was a doctrine which could be preached with noble
moral fervor in connection with the difficulties and needs of a divided
and conquered Germany. Fichte saw himself as the continuator of the work
of Luther and Kant. His final "science of knowledge" brought the German
people alone of the peoples of the world into the possession of the idea
and ideal of absolute freedom. Hence the peculiar destiny of the German
scholar and the German State. It was the duty and mission of German
science and philosophy to contribute to the cause of the spiritual
emancipation of humanity. Kant had already taught that the acts of men
were to become gradually permeated by a spirit of rationality till there
should be an equation of inner freedom of mind and outer freedom of
action. Fichte's doctrine demanded an acceleration of the process. Men
who have attained to a consciousness of the absolute freedom and
self-activity must necessarily desire to see around them similar free
beings. The scholar who is truly a scholar not merely knows, but he
knows the nature of knowledge--its place and function as a manifestation
of the Absolute. Hence he is, in a peculiar sense, the direct
manifestation of God in the world--the true priest. And his priestly
function consists in bringing other men to recognize moral freedom in
its creative operation. Such is the dignity of education as conducted by
those who have attained true philosophic insight.

Fichte made a specific application of this idea to his own country and
time. The humiliating condition of contemporary Germany was due to the
prevalence of egoism, selfishness and particularism: to the fact that
men had lowered themselves to the plane of sensuous life. The fall was
the worse because the Germans, more than any other people, were by
nature and history conscious of the ideal and spiritual principle, the
principle of freedom, lying at the very basis of all things. The key to
the political regeneration of Germany was to be found in a moral and
spiritual regeneration effected by means of education. The key, amid
political division, to political unity was to be sought in devotion to
moral unity. In this spirit Fichte preached his "Addresses to the
German Nation." In this spirit he collaborated in the foundation of the
University of Berlin, and zealously promoted all the educational reforms
introduced by Stein and Humboldt into Prussian life.

The conception of the State as an essential moral Being charged with an
indispensable moral function lay close to these ideas. Education is
_the_ means of the advancement of humanity toward realization of its
divine perfection. Education is the work of the State. The syllogism
completes itself. But in order that the State may carry on its
educational or moral mission it must not only possess organization and
commensurate power, but it must also control the conditions which secure
the possibility offered to the individuals composing it. To adopt
Aristotle's phrase, men must live before they can live nobly. The
primary condition of a secure life is that everyone be able to live by
his own labor. Without this, moral self-determination is a mockery. The
business of the State, outside of its educational mission, is concerned
with property, and this business means insuring property to everyone as
well as protecting him in what he already possesses. Moreover, property
is not mere physical possession. It has a profound moral significance,
for it means the subjugation of physical things to will. It is a
necessary part of the realization of moral personality: the conquest of
the non-ego by the ego. Since property does not mean mere appropriation,
but is a right recognized and validated by society itself, property has
a social basis and aim. It is an expression not of individual egotism
but of the universal will. Hence it is essential to the very idea of
property and of the State that all the members of society have an equal
opportunity for property. Hence it is the duty of the State to secure to
its every member the right to work and the reward of his work.

The outcome, as expressed in his essay on "The Closed Industrial State,"
is State Socialism, based on moral and idealistic grounds, not on
economic considerations. In order that men may have a real opportunity
to develop their moral personalities, their right to labor and to
adequate living, in return for their labor must be assured. This cannot
happen in a competitive society. Industry must be completely regulated
by the State if these indispensable rights to labor and resulting
comfort and security of life as means to moral volition are to be
achieved. But a state engaged in unrestricted foreign trade will leave
its workingmen at the mercy of foreign conditions. It must therefore
regulate or even eliminate foreign commerce so far as is necessary to
secure its own citizens. The ultimate goal is a universal state as wide
as humanity, and a state in which each individual will act freely,
without state-secured rights and state-imposed obligations. But before
this cosmopolitan and philosophically anarchic condition can be reached,
we must pass through a period of the nationalistic closed state. Thus at
the end a wide gulf separates Fichte from Kant. The moral individualism
of the latter has become an ethical socialism. Only in and by means of a
circle of egos or personalities does a human being attain the moral
reason and freedom which Kant bestowed upon him as his birthright. Only
through the educational activities of the State and its complete
regulation of the industrial activities of its members does the
potential moral freedom of individuals become an established reality.

If I have devoted so much space to Fichte it is not because of his
direct influence upon affairs or even upon thought. He did not found a
school. His system was at once too personal and too formal.
Nevertheless, he expressed ideas which, removed from their special
context in his system, were taken up into the thought of cultivated
Germany. Heine, speaking of the vogue of systems of thought, says with
profound truth that "nations have an instinctive presentiment of what
they require to fulfill their mission."

And Fichte's thought infiltrated through many crevices. Rodbertus and
Lasalle, the socialists, were, for example, profoundly affected by him.
When the latter was prosecuted in a criminal suit for his "Programme of
Workingmen," his reply was that his programme was a distinctively
philosophic utterance, and hence protected by the constitutional
provision for freedom of science and its teaching. And this is his
philosophy of the State:

     "The State is the unity and coöperation of individuals in a
     moral whole. . . . The ultimate and intrinsic end of the State
     is, therefore, to further the positive unfolding, the
     progressive development of human life. Its function is to work
     out the true end of man; that is to say, the full degree of
     culture of which human nature is capable."

And he quotes with approval the words:

     "The concept of the State must be broadened so as to make the
     State the contrivance whereby all human virtue is to be
     realized to the full."

And if he differs from Fichte, it is but in the assertion that since the
laboring class is the one to whom the need most directly appeals, it is
workingmen who must take the lead in the development of the true
functions of the State.

Pantheism is a philosophic nickname which should be sparingly employed;
so also should the term Monism. To call Fichte's system an ethical
pantheism and monism is not to say much that is enlightening. But with
free interpretation the designation may be highly significant in
reference to the spiritual temper of the Germany of the first part of
the nineteenth century. For it gives a key to the presentiment of what
Germany needed to fulfill its mission.

It is a commonplace of German historians that its unity and expansion to
a great state powerful externally, prosperous internally, was wrought,
unlike that of any other people, from within outward. In Lange's words,
"our national development started from the most ideal and approximated
more and more to the real." Hegel and Heine agree that in Germany the
French Revolution and the Napoleonic career were paralleled by a
philosophic revolution and an intellectual empire. You recall the bitter
word that, when Napoleon was finally conquered and Europe partitioned,
to Germany was assigned the kingdom of the clouds. But this aërial and
tenuous kingdom became a mighty power, working with and in the statesmen
of Prussia and the scholars of Germany to found a kingdom on the solid
earth. Spiritual and ideal Germany made common cause with realistic and
practical Prussia. As says Von Sybel, the historian of the "Founding of
the German Empire":

     "Germany had been ruined through its own disintegration and
     had dragged Prussia with it into the abyss. It was well known
     that the wild fancies of the Conqueror hovered about the utter
     annihilation of Prussia; if this should take place, then east
     as well as west of the Elbe, not only political independence,
     but every trace of a German spirit, the German language and
     customs, German art and learning--everything would be wiped
     out by the foreigners. But this fatal danger was perceived
     just at the time when everybody had been looking up to Kant
     and Schiller, had been admiring Faust, the world-embracing
     masterpiece of Goethe's, and had recognized that Alexander von
     Humboldt's cosmological studies and Niebuhr's "Roman History"
     had created a new era in European science and learning. In
     such intellectual attainments the Germans felt that they were
     far superior to the vanquisher of the world and his great
     nation; and so the political interests of Prussia and the
     salvation of the German nationality exactly coincided.
     Schleiermacher's patriotic sermons, Fichte's stirring
     addresses to the German people, Humboldt's glorious founding
     of the Berlin University, served to augment the resisting
     power of Prussia, while Scharnhorst's recruits and militia
     were devoted to the defense of German honor and German
     customs. Everyone felt that German nationality was lost if
     Prussia did not come to its rescue, and that, too, there was
     no safety possible for Prussia unless all Germany was free.

     "What a remarkable providence it was that brought together, as
     in the Middle Ages, on this ancient colonial ground, a throng
     of the most energetic men from all districts of Germany. For
     neither Stein nor his follower, Hardenberg, nor the generals
     Scharnhorst, Bluecher and Gneisenau, nor the authors, Niebuhr,
     Fichte and K. F. Eichorn, nor many others who might be
     mentioned, were born in Prussia; yet because their thoughts
     centered in Germany, they had become loyal Prussians. The name
     Germany had been blotted from the political map of Europe, but
     never had so many hearts thrilled at the thought of being

     "Thus on the most eastern frontier of German life, in the
     midst of troubles which seemed hopeless, the idea of German
     unity, which had lain dormant for centuries, now sprang up in
     a new birth. At first this idea was held exclusively by the
     great men of the times and remained the invaluable possession
     of the cultivated classes; but once started it spread far and
     wide among the younger generation. . . . But it was easier to
     defeat the mighty Napoleon than to bend the German sentiments
     of dualism and individualism to the spirit of national unity."

What I have called the ethical pantheism and monistic idealism of Fichte
(a type of philosophy reigning almost unchallenged in Germany till
almost the middle of the century) was an effective weapon in fighting
and winning this more difficult battle. In his volume on the "Romantic
School in Germany," Brandes quotes from the diary of Hoffman a passage
written in 1809.

     "Seized by a strange fancy at the ball on the 6th, I imagine
     myself looking at my own Ego through a kaleidoscope. All the
     forms moving around me are Egos and annoy me by what they do
     and leave undone."

It is a temptation to find in this passage a symbol both of German
philosophy and of the temper of Germany at the time. Its outer defeats,
its weakness in the world of action, had developed an exasperated
introspection. This outer weakness, coinciding, as Von Sybel points out,
with the bloom of Germany in art, philosophy, history, philology and
philosophy, made the Ego of Germany the noblest contemporary object of
contemplation, yet one surrounded with other national Egos who offended
by what they did and what they did not do. Patriotism, national feeling,
national consciousness are common enough facts. But nowhere save in
Germany, in the earlier nineteenth century, have these sentiments and
impulses been transformed by deliberate nurture into a mystic cult. This
was the time when the idea of the _Volks-seele_, the _Volks-geist_, was
born; and the idea lost no time in becoming a fact. Not merely poetry
was affected by it, but philology, history and jurisprudence. The
so-called historic school is its offspring. The science of social
psychology derives from it at one remove. The soul, however, needed a
body, and (quite in accord with German idealism) it formed a body for
itself--the German State as a unified Empire.

While the idealistic period came first, it is important to bear in mind
the kind of idealism it was. At this point the pantheistic allusion
becomes significant. The idealism in question was not an idealism of
another world but of _this_ world, and especially of the State. The
embodiment of the divine and absolute will and ideal is the existing
world of nature and of men. Especially is the human ego the authorized
and creative agent of absolute purpose. The significance of German
philosophy was precisely to make men aware of their nature and destiny
as the direct and active representatives of absolute and creative

If I again quote Heine, it is because, with his contempt for technical
philosophy, he had an intimate sense of its human meaning. Of German
pantheistic idealism, he wrote in 1833 while it was still in its prime:

     "God is identical with the world. . . . But he manifests
     himself most gloriously in man, who feels and thinks at
     the same time, who is capable of distinguishing his own
     individuality from objective nature, whose intellect
     already bears within itself the ideas that present themselves
     to him in the phenomenal world. In man Deity reaches
     self-consciousness, and this self-consciousness God again
     reveals through man. But this revelation does not take place
     in and through individual man, but in and through collective
     humanity . . . which comprehends and represents in idea and in
     reality the whole God-universe. . . . It is an error to suppose
     that this religion leads men to indifference. On the contrary,
     the consciousness of his divinity will inspire man with
     enthusiasm for its manifestation, and from this moment the
     really noble achievements of true heroism glorify the earth."

In one respect, Heine was a false prophet. He thought that this
philosophy would in the end accrue to the profit of the radical, the
republican and revolutionary party in Germany. The history of German
liberalism is a complicated matter. Suffice it in general to say that
the honey the libertarians hived was appropriated in the end by the
party of authority. In Heine's assurance that these ideas would in due
time issue in action he was profoundly right. His essay closes with
burning words, from which I extract the following:

     "It seems to me that a methodical people, such as we, must
     begin with the reformation, must then occupy ourselves with
     systems of philosophy, and only after their completion pass to
     the political revolution. . . . Then will appear Kantians, as
     little tolerant of piety in the world of deeds as in the world
     of ideas, who will mercilessly upturn with sword and axe the
     soil of our European life to extirpate the last remnants of
     the past. Then will come upon the scene armed Fichteans, whose
     fanaticism of will is to be restrained neither by fear nor
     self-interest, for they live in the spirit. . . . Most of all
     to be feared would be the philosophers of nature,[84:A] were
     they actively to mingle. . . . For if the hand of the Kantian
     strikes with strong unerring blow; if the Fichtean courageously
     defies every danger, since for him danger has in reality no
     existence;--the Philosopher of Nature will be terrible in that
     he has allied himself with the primitive powers of nature, in
     that he can conjure up the demoniac forces of old German
     pantheism; and having done so, aroused in him that ancient
     Germanic eagerness which combats for the joy of the combat
     itself. . . . Smile not at my counsel as at the counsel of a
     dreamer. . . . The thought precedes the deed as the lightning
     the thunder. . . . The hour will come. As on the steps of an
     amphitheater, the nations will group themselves around Germany
     to witness the terrible combat."

          [84:A] He refers to the followers of Schelling, who
          as matter of fact had little vogue. But his words
          may not unjustly be transferred to the naturalistic
          schools, which have since affected German thought.

In my preoccupation with Heine, I seem to have wandered somewhat from
our immediate topic: the connection of the idealistic philosophy with
the development and organization of the national state of Germany. But
the necessity of the organized State to care for the moral interests of
mankind was an inherent part of Fichte's thought. At first, _what_ state
was a matter of indifference. In fact his sympathies were largely French
and republican. Before Jena, he writes:

     "What is the nation for a truly civilized Christian European?
     In a general way, Europe itself. More particularly at any time
     the State which is at the head of civilization. . . . With this
     cosmopolitan sense, we can be tranquil before the vicissitudes
     and catastrophes of history."

In 1807 he writes:

     "The distinction between Prussia and the rest of Germany is
     external, arbitrary and fortuitous. The distinction between
     Germany and the rest of Europe is founded in nature."

The seeming gulf between the two ideas is easily bridged. The "Addresses
on the Fundamental Features of the Present Age" had taught that the end
of humanity on earth is the establishment of a kingdom in which all
relations of humanity are determined with freedom or according to
Reason--according to Reason as conceived by the Fichtean formula. In his
"Addresses to the German Nation," in 1807-08, the unique mission of
Germany in the establishment of this kingdom is urged as a motive for
securing national unity and the overthrow of the conqueror. The Germans
are the sole people who recognize the principles of spiritual freedom,
of freedom won by action in accord with reason. Faithfulness to this
mission will "elevate the German name to that of the most glorious among
all the peoples, making this Nation the regenerator and restorer of the
world." He personifies their ancestors speaking to them, and saying: "We
in our time saved Germany from the Roman World Empire." But "yours is
the greater fortune. You may establish once for all the Kingdom of the
Spirit and of Reason, bringing to naught corporeal might as the ruling
thing in the world." And this antithesis of the Germanic and the Roman
principles has become a commonplace in the German imagination. Moreover,
for Germany to win is no selfish gain. It is an advantage to all
nations. "The great promise of a kingdom of right reason and truth on
earth must not become a vain and empty phantom; the present iron age is
but a transition to a better estate." Hence the concluding words: "There
is no middle road: If you sink, so sinks humanity entire with you,
without hope of future restoration."

The premises of the historic syllogism are plain. First, the German
Luther who saved for mankind the principle of spiritual freedom against
Latin externalism; then Kant and Fichte, who wrought out the principle
into a final philosophy of science, morals and the State; as conclusion,
the German nation organized in order to win the world to recognition of
the principle, and thereby to establish the rule of freedom and science
in humanity as a whole. The Germans are patient; they have a long
memory. Ideas produced when Germany was divided and broken were retained
and cherished after it became a unified State of supreme military power,
and one yielding to no other people in industrial and commercial
prosperity. In the grosser sense of the words, Germany has not held that
might makes right. But it has been instructed by a long line of
philosophers that it is the business of ideal right to gather might to
itself in order that it may cease to be merely ideal. The State
represents exactly this incarnation of ideal law and right in effective
might. The military arm is part of this moral embodiment. Let
sentimentalists sing the praises of an ideal to which no actual force
corresponds. Prussian faith in the reality and enforcement among men of
the ideal is of a more solid character. As past history is the record
of the gradual realization in the Germanic State of the divine idea,
future history must uphold and expand what has been accomplished.
Diplomacy is the veiled display of law clothed with force in behalf of
this realization, and war is its overt manifestation. That war demands
self-sacrifice is but the more convincing proof of its profound
morality. It is the final seal of devotion to the extension of the
kingdom of the Absolute on earth.

For the philosophy stands or falls with the conception of an Absolute.
Whether a philosophy of absolutes is theoretically sound or unsound is
none of my present concern. But that philosophical absolutism may be
practically as dangerous as matter of fact political absolutism history
testifies. The situation puts in relief what finally is at issue between
a theory which is pinned to a belief in an Absolute beyond history and
behind experience, and one which is frankly experimental. For any
philosophy which is not consistently experimental will always traffic in
absolutes no matter in how disguised a form. In German political
philosophy, the traffic is without mask.



The unity of the German people longed for and dreamed of after 1807
became an established fact through the war of 1870 with France. It is
easy to assign symbolic significance to this fact. Ever since the time
of the French Revolution--if not before--German thought has taken shape
in conflict with ideas that were characteristically French and in sharp
and conscious antithesis to them. Rousseau's deification of Nature was
the occasion for the development of the conception of Culture. His
condemnation of science and art as socially corrupting and socially
divisive worked across the Rhine to produce the notion that science and
art are the forces which moralize and unify humanity. The
cosmopolitanism of the French Enlightenment was transformed by German
thinkers into a self-conscious assertion of nationalism. The abstract
Rights of Man of the French Revolution were set in antithesis to the
principle of the rights of the citizen secured to him solely by the
power of the politically organized nation. The deliberate breach of the
revolutionary philosophy with the past, the attempt (foreshadowed in the
philosophy of Descartes) to make a _tabula rasa_ of the fortuitous
assemblage of traditions and institutions which history offers, in order
to substitute a social structure built upon Reason, was envisaged as the
_fons et origo_ of all evil. That history is itself incarnate reason;
that history is infinitely more rational than the formal abstracting and
generalizing reason of individuals; that individual mind becomes
rational only through the absorption and assimilation of the universal
reason embodied in historic institutions and historic development,
became the articles of faith of the German intellectual creed. It is
hardly an exaggeration to say that for almost a century the
characteristic philosophy of Germany has been a philosophy of history
even when not such in apparent form.

Yet the meaning of this appeal to history is lost unless we bear in mind
that the Enlightenment after all transmitted to Germany, from medieval
thought, its foundation principle. The appeal was not from reason to
experience, but from analytic thought (henceforth condemned to be merely
"Understanding"--"_Verstand_") to an absolute and universal Reason
(_Vernunft_) partially revealed in nature and more adequately manifested
in human history as an organic process. Recourse to history was required
because not of any empirical lessons it has to teach, nor yet because
history bequeathes to us stubborn institutions which must be reckoned
with, but because history is the dynamic and evolving realization of
immanent reason. The contrast of the German attitude with that of Edmund
Burke is instructive. The latter had the same profound hostility to
cutting loose from the past. But his objection was not that the past is
an embodiment of transcendent reason, but that its institutions are an
"inheritance" bequeathed to us from the "collected wisdom" of our
forefathers. The continuity of political life centers not about an inner
evolving Idea, but about "our hearths, our sepulchers and our altars."
He has the same suspicion of abstract rights of man. But his appeal is
to experience and to practical consequences. Since "circumstances give
in reality to every principle its distinguishing color and
discriminating effect," there is no soundness in any principle when "it
stands stripped of every relation in all the nakedness and solitude of
metaphysical abstraction."

According to the German view, the English protested because of
interference with empirically established rights and privileges; the
Germans, because they perceived in the Revolution a radical error as to
the nature and work of reason. In point of fact, the Germans never made
that break with tradition, political or religious, of which the French
Revolution is an emphatic symbol. I have already referred to Kant's
disposition to regard church dogmas (of which, as dogmas, he
disapproved) as vehicles of eternal spiritual truths--husks to preserve
an inner grain. All of the great German idealists gave further
expression to this disposition. To Hegel, for example, the substance of
the doctrines of Protestant Christianity is identical with the truths of
absolute philosophy, except that in religion they are expressed in a
form not adequate to their meaning, the form, namely, of imaginative
thought in which most men live. The disposition to philosophize
Christianity is too widely shown in Germany to be dismissed as a
cowardly desire at accommodation with things established. It shows
rather an intellectual piety among a people where freedom of thought and
conscience had been achieved without a violent political upheaval. Hegel
finds that the characteristic weakness of Romance thought was an inner
split, an inability to reconcile the spiritual and absolute essence of
reality with which religion deals with the detailed work of intelligence
in science and politics. The Germans, on the contrary, "were predestined
to be the bearers of the Christian principle and to carry out the Idea
as the absolutely Rational end." They accomplished this, not by a flight
away from the secular world, but by realizing that the Christian
principle is in itself that of the unity of the subjective and the
objective, the spiritual and the worldly. The "spirit finds the goal of
its struggle, its harmony, in that very sphere which it made the object
of its resistance,--it finds that secular pursuits are a spiritual
occupation";--a discovery, surely, which unites simplicity with
comprehensiveness and one which does not lead to criticism of the
secular pursuits carried on. Whatever is to be said of this as
philosophy, it expresses, in a way, the quality of German life and
thought. More than other countries, Germany has had the fortune to
preserve as food for its imaginative life and as emotional sanction the
great ideas of the past. It has carried over their reinforcement into
the pursuit of science and into politics--into the very things which in
other countries, notably in the Latin countries, have been used as
weapons of attack upon tradition.

Political development tells a somewhat similar tale. The painful
transition from feudalism to the modern era was, for the most part,
accomplished recently in Germany, and accomplished under the guidance of
established political authorities instead of by revolt against them.
Under their supervision, and mainly at their initiative, Germany has
passed in less than a century to the régime of modern capitalistic
competitive enterprise, moderated by the State, out of the dominion of
those local and guild restrictions which so long held economic activity
in corporate bonds. The governing powers themselves secured to members
of the State what seems, at least to Germans, to be a satisfying degree
of political freedom. Along with this absence of internal disturbance
and revolution, we must put the fact that every step in the development
of Germany as a unified political power has been effected by war with
some of the neighbors by which it is hemmed in. There stands the
unfolding sequence: 1815 (not to go back to Frederick the Great), 1864,
1866, 1870. And the significant thing about these wars is not that
external territory was annexed as their consequence, but the rebound of
external struggle upon the achieving of internal unity. No wonder the
German imagination has been impressed with the idea of an organic
evolution from within, which takes the form of a unity achieved through
conflict and the conquest of an opposing principle.

Such scattering comments as these prove nothing. But they suggest why
German thought has been peculiarly sensitive to the idea of historic
continuity; why it has been prone to seek for an original implicit
essence which has progressively unfolded itself in a single development.
It would take much more than an hour to give even a superficial account
of the growth of the historical sciences and historic methods of Germany
during the first half of the eighteenth century. It would involve an
account of the creation of philology, and the philological methods which
go by the name of higher criticism; of their extension to archeology; of
the historic schools of jurisprudence and political economy, as well as
of the ways in which such men as Niebuhr, Mommsen and Ranke remade the
methods of studying the past. I can only say here that Germany developed
such an effective historical technique that even mediocre men achieved
respectable results; and, much more significantly, that when Taine made
the remark (quoted earlier) that we owe to the Germany of the half
century before 1830 all our distinctively modern ideas, his remarks
apply above all to the disciplines concerned with the historical
development of mankind.

The bases of this philosophy are already before us. Even in Kant we find
the idea of a single continuous development of humanity, as a progress
from a reign of natural instinct to a final freedom won through
adherence to the law of reason. Fichte sketched the stages already
traversed on this road and located the point at which mankind now
stands. In his later writings, the significance of history as the
realization of the absolute purpose is increasingly emphasized. History
is the continuous life of a divine Ego by which it realizes in fact what
it is in idea or destiny. Its phases are successive stages in the
founding of the Kingdom of God on earth. It and it only is the
revelation of the Absolute. Along with this growing deification of
history is the increased significance attached to nationalism in general
and the German nation in particular. The State is the concrete
individual interposed between generic humanity and particular beings. In
his words, the national folk is the channel of divine life as it pours
into particular finite human beings. He says:

     "While cosmopolitanism is the dominant will that the purpose
     of the existence of humanity be actually realized in humanity,
     patriotism is the will that this end be first realized in the
     particular nation to which we ourselves belong, and that this
     achievement _thence_ spread over the entire race."

Since the State is an organ of divinity, patriotism is religion. As the
Germans are the only truly religious people, they alone are truly
capable of patriotism. Other peoples are products of external causes;
they have no self-formed Self, but only an acquired self due to general
convention. In Germany there is a self which is self-wrought and
self-owned. The very fact that Germany for centuries has had no external
unity proves that its selfhood is metaphysical, not a gift of
circumstance. This conception of the German mission has been combined
with a kind of anthropological metaphysics which has become the rage in
Germany. The Germans alone of all existing European nations are a pure
race. They alone have preserved unalloyed the original divine deposit.
Language is the expression of the national soul, and only the Germans
have kept their native speech in its purity. In like vein, Hegel
attributes the inner disharmony characteristic of Romance peoples to the
fact that they are of mixed Germanic and Latin blood. A purely
artificial cult of race has so flourished in Germany that many social
movements--like anti-Semitism--and some of Germany's political ambitions
cannot be understood apart from the mystic identification of Race,
Culture and the State. In the light of actual science, this is so
mythological that the remark of an American periodical that race means a
number of people reading the same newspapers is sober scientific fact
compared with it.[101:A]

     [101:A] Chamberlain, for example, holds that Jesus must have
     been of Teutonic birth--a perfect logical conclusion from the
     received philosophy of the State and religion. Quite aware
     that there is much Slav blood in northern Germany and Romance
     blood in southern Germany, he explains that while with other
     peoples crossing produces a mongrel race, the potency of the
     German blood is such that cross-breeding strengthens it. While
     at one time he explains the historic strength of the Jew on
     the ground that he has kept his race pure, another place he
     allows his indignation at the Jews to lead him to include them
     among the most mongrel of all peoples. To one thing he remains
     consistent: By the very essence of race, the Semites represent
     a metaphysical principle inherently hostile to the grand
     Germanic principle. It perhaps seems absurd to dignify the
     vagaries of this garrulous writer, but according to all report
     the volumes in which such expressions occur, "The Foundations
     of the Nineteenth Century," has had august approval and much

At the beginning of history Fichte placed an "_Urvolk_." His account of
it seems an attempt to rationalize at one stroke the legends of the
Golden Age, the Biblical account of man before the Fall and Rousseau's
primitive "state of nature." The _Urvolk_ lived in a paradise of
innocence, a paradise without knowledge, labor or art. The philosophy
which demands such a Folk is comparatively simple. Except as a
manifestation of Absolute Reason, humanity could not exist at all. Yet
in the first stage of the manifestation, Reason could not have been
appropriated by the self-conscious effort of man. It existed without
consciousness of itself, for it was given, not, like all true
self-consciousness, won by morally creative struggle. Rational in
substance, in form it was but feeling or instinct. In a sense, all
subsequent history is but a return to this primitive condition. But
"humanity must make the journey on its own feet; by its own strength it
must bring itself back to that state in which it was once without its
own coöperating labor. . . . If humanity does not recreate its own true
being, it has no real life." While philosophy compels us to assume a
Normal People who, by "the mere fact of their existence, without science
and art, found themselves in a state of perfectly developed reason,"
there is no ground for not admitting the existence at the same time of
"timid and rude earth-born savages." Thus the original state of humanity
would have been one of the greatest possible inequality, being divided
between the Normal Folk existing as a manifestation of Reason and the
wild and savage races of barbarism.

In his later period of inflamed patriotism this innocuous speculation
grew a sting. He had determined that the present age--the Europe of the
Enlightenment and the French Revolution--is the age of liberation from
the external authority in which Reason had presented itself in the
second age. Hence it is inherently negative: "an age of absolute
indifference toward the Truth, an age of entire and unrestrained
licentiousness." But the further evolution of the Divine Idea demands a
Folk which has retained the primitive principle of Reason, which may
redeem, therefore, the corrupt and rebellious modes of humanity
elsewhere existing. Since the Germans are this saving remnant, they are
the _Urvolk_, the Normal Nation, of the modern period. From this point
on, idealization of past Germanic history and appeal to the nation to
realize its unique calling by victory over Napoleon blend.

The Fichtean scaffolding tumbled, but these ideas persisted. I doubt if
it is possible to exaggerate the extent to which German history has
been systematically idealized for the last hundred years. Technically
speaking, the Romantic movement may have passed away and an age of
scientific history dawned. Actually the detailed facts have been
depicted by use of the palette of Romanticism. Space permits but one
illustration which would be but a literary curiosity were it not fairly
typical. Tacitus called his account of the northern barbarians
Germania--an unfortunate title in view of later developments. The
characteristics assigned by him to the German tribes are such as any
anthropologist could duplicate from any warlike barbaric tribe. Yet over
and over again these traits (which Tacitus idealized as Cooper, say,
idealized the North American Indian traits) are made the basis of the
philosophic history of the German people. The Germans, for example, had
that psychological experience now known as mana, manitou, tabu, etc.
They identified their gods, in Tacitus' phrase, with "that mystery which
they perceive by experiencing sacred fear." This turns out to be the
germinal deposit of spiritual-mindedness which later showed itself in
Luther and in the peculiar genius of the Germans for religious

The following words are from no less an authority than Pfleiderer:

     "Cannot we recognize in this point that truly German
     characteristic of _Innerlichkeit_ which scorns to fix for
     sensuous perception the divine something which makes itself
     felt in the depths of the sensitive soul, which scorns to drag
     down the sublime mystery of the unknowable to the vulgar
     distinctness of earthly things? The fact that the Germans
     attached but little importance to religious ceremonies accords
     with this view."

To others, this sense of mystery is a prophetic anticipation of the
Kantian thing-in-itself.

A similar treatment has been accorded to the personal and voluntary bond
by which individuals attached themselves to a chieftain. Thus early was
marked out the fidelity or loyalty, _Treue_, which is uniquely
Germanic--although some warlike tribes among our Indians carried the
system still further. I can allow myself but one more example of the way
in which the philosophic sophistication of history has worked. No
historian can be unconscious of the extent to which European culture has
been genuinely European--the extent to which it derives itself from a
common heritage of the ancient world and the extent to which
intermixtures and borrowings of culture have gone on ever since. As to
Germany, however, these obvious facts have to be accommodated to the
doctrine of an original racial deposit steadily evolving from within.

The method is simple. As respects Germany, these cultural borrowings and
crosses represent the intrinsic universality of its genius. Through this
universality, the German spirit finds itself at home everywhere.
Consequently, it consciously appropriates and assimilates what other
peoples have produced by a kind of blind unconscious instinct. Thus it
was German thought which revealed the truth of Hellenic culture, and
rescued essential Christianity from its Romanized petrifaction. The
principle of Reason which French enlightenment laid hold of only in its
negative and destructive aspect, the German spirit grasped in its
positive and constructive form. Shakespeare happened to be born in
England, but only the Germans have apprehended him in his spiritual
universality so that he is now more his own than he is England's--and so
on. But with respect to other peoples, similar borrowings reveal only
their lack of inner and essential selfhood. While Luther is universal
because he is German, Shakespeare is universal because he is not

I have intimated that Fichte's actual influence was limited. But his
basic ideas of the State and of history were absorbed in the philosophy
of Hegel, and Hegel for a considerable period absolutely dominated
German thinking. To set forth the ground principles of his "absolute
idealism" would be only to repeat what has already been said. Its chief
difference, aside from Hegel's encyclopedic knowledge, his greater
concrete historic interest and his more conservative temperament, is his
bottomless scorn for an Idea, an Absolute, which merely ought to be and
which is only going to be realized after a period of time. "The Actual
is the Rational and the Rational _is_ the Actual"--and the actual means
the actuating force and movement of things. It is customary to call him
an Idealist. In one sense of much abused terms, he is the greatest
realist known to philosophy. He might be called a Brutalist. In the
inquiry Bourdon carried on in Germany a few years ago (published under
the title of the "German Enigma"), he records a conversation with a
German who deplores the tendency of the Germans to forsake the solid
bone of things in behalf of a romantic shadow. As against this he
appeals to the realistic sense of Hegel, who, "in opposition to the
idealism which had lifted Germany on wings, arrayed and marshaled the
maxims of an unflinching realism. He had formulæ for the justification
of facts whatever they might be. That which _is_, he would say, is
reason realized. And what did he teach? That the hour has sounded for
the third act in the drama of humanity, and that the German opportunity
is not far off. . . . I could show you throughout the nineteenth century
the torrent of political and social ideas which had their source here."

I have said that the essential points of the Fichtean philosophy of
history were taken up into the Hegelian system. This assimilation
involved, however, a rectification of an inconsistency between the
earlier and the later moral theories of Fichte. In his earlier ethical
writings, emphasis fell upon conscious moral personality--upon the
deliberate identification by the individual will of its career and
destiny with the purpose of the Absolute. In his later patriotic
philosophy, he asserts that the organized nation is the channel by
which a finite ego acquires moral personality, since the nation alone
transmits to individuals the generic principle of God working in
humanity. At the same time he appeals to the resolute will and
consciously chosen self-sacrifice of individuals to overthrow the enemy
and re-establish the Prussian state. When Hegel writes that victory has
been obtained, the war of Independence has been successfully waged. The
necessity of emphasizing individual self-assertion had given way to the
need of subordinating the individual to the established state in order
to check the disintegrating tendencies of liberalism.

Haym has said that Hegel's "Philosophy of Law" had for its task the
exhibition as the perfect work of Absolute Reason up to date of the
"practical and political condition existing in Prussia in 1821." This
was meant as a hostile attack. But Hegel himself should have been the
last to object. With his scorn for an Ideal so impotent that its
realization must depend upon the effort of private selves, an Absolute
so inconsequential that it must wait upon the accidents of future time
for manifestation, he sticks in politics more than elsewhere to the
conviction that the actual _is_ the rational. "The task of philosophy is
to comprehend that which is, for that which is, is Reason." Alleged
philosophies which try to tell what the State should be or even what a
state ought in the future to come to be, are idle fantasies. Such
attempts come too late. Human wisdom is like "the bird of Minerva which
takes its flight only at the close of day."[110:A] It comes, after the
issue, to acknowledge what has happened. "The State is the rational in
itself and for itself. Its substantial unity is an absolute end in
itself. To it belongs supreme right in respect to individuals whose
first duty is--just to be members of the State." . . . The State "is the
absolute reality and the individual himself has objective existence,
truth and morality only in his capacity as a member of the State." It is
a commonplace of idealistic theism that nature is a manifestation of
God. But Hegel says that nature is only an externalized, unconscious and
so incomplete expression. The State has more, not less, objective
reality than physical nature, for it is a realization of Absolute
spirit in the realm of consciousness. The doctrine presents an extreme
form of the idea, not of the divine right of kings, but of the divine
right of States. "The march of God in history is the cause of the
existence of states; their foundation is the power of reason realizing
itself as will. Every state, whatever it be, participates in the divine
essence. The State is not the work of human art; only Reason could
produce it." The State is God on earth.

     [110:A] Marx said of the historic schools of politics, law and
     economics that to them, as Jehovah to Moses on Mt. Sinai, the
     divine showed but its posterior side.

His depreciation of the individual as an individual appears in every
theme of his Philosophy of Right and History. At first sight, his theory
of great world heroes seems inconsistent with his disregard of
individuals. While the morality of most men consists simply in
assimilating into their own habits the customs already found in the
institutions about them, great men initiate new historic epochs. They
derive "their purposes and their calling not from the calm regular
course of things sanctioned by the existing order, but from a concealed
fount, from that inner spirit hidden beneath the surface, which,
striking the outer world as a shell, bursts it to pieces." The heroes
are thus the exception which proves the rule. They are world characters;
while they seem to be seeking personal interests they are really acting
as organs of a universal will, of God in his further march. In his
identification with the Absolute, the world-hero can have but one aim to
which "he is devoted regardless of all else. Such men may even treat
other great and sacred interests inconsiderately. . . . But so mighty a
form must trample down many an innocent flower--crush to pieces many an
object in its path." We are not surprised to see that Alexander, Cæsar
and Napoleon are the characters he prefers to cite. One can only regret
that he died before his contemplative piety could behold Bismarck.

A large part of the intellectual machinery by which Hegel overcame the
remnants of individualism found in prior philosophy came from the idea
of organic development which had been active in German thought since the
time of Herder. In his chief work ("Ideas for a Philosophy of the
History of Humanity"), written in the closing decades of the eighteenth
century, Herder holds that history is a progressive education of
humanity. This idea, had from Lessing, is combined with the idea of
Leibniz that change is evolution, by means of an internal force, of
powers originally implicit in existence, and with the idea of Spinoza of
an all-comprehensive substance. This idea of organic growth was then
applied to language, literature and institutions. It soon obtained
reinforcement from the rising science of biology. Long before the days
of Darwin or Spencer, the idea of evolution had been a commonplace of
German thought with respect to everything concerning the history of
humanity. The notion was set in sharp antithesis to the conception of
"making" or manufacturing institutions and constitutions, which was
treated as one of the fallacies of the French philosophy of the
Enlightenment. A combination of this notion of universal organic growth
with the technique of prior idealism may fairly be said to have
determined Hegel's whole philosophy. While Leibniz and Herder had
emphasized the notion of harmony as an essential factor of the working
of organic forces, Hegel took from Fichte the notion of a unity or
synthesis arrived at by "positing," and overcoming an opposite. Struggle
for existence (or realization) was thus an "organic" part of German
thinking long before the teaching of Darwin, who, in fact, is usually
treated by German writers as giving a rather superficial empirical
expression to an idea which they had already grasped in its universal
speculative form. It is characteristic of the extent in which Hegel
thought in terms of struggle and overcoming that after stating why it
was as yet impossible to include the Americas in his philosophy of
history, and after saying that in the future the burden of world history
will reveal itself there, he surmises that it may take the form of a
"contest" between North and South America. No philosopher has ever
thought so consistently and so wholly in terms of strife and overcoming
as Hegel. When he says the "world history is the world judgment" he
means judgment in the sense of assize, and judgment as victory of one
and defeat of another--victory being the final proof that the world
spirit has now passed from one nation to take up its residence in
another. To be defeated in a way which causes the nation to take a
secondary position among nations is a sign that divine judgment has been
passed upon it. When a recent German writer argues that for Germany to
surrender any territory which it has conquered during the present war
would be sacrilegious, since it would be to refuse to acknowledge the
workings of God in human history, he speaks quite in the Hegelian vein.

Although the phenomenon of nationalism was very recent when Hegel wrote,
indeed practically contemporary with his own day, he writes in
nationalistic terms the entire history of humanity. The State is the
Individual of history: it is to history what a given man is to
biography. History gives us the progressive realization or evolution of
the Absolute, moving from one National Individual to another. It is law,
the universal, which makes the State a State, for law is reason, not as
mere subjective reflection, but in its manifestation as supreme over and
in particulars. On this account, Hegel's statement that the fundamental
principle of history is the progressive realization of freedom does not
mean what an uninstructed English reader would naturally take it to
mean. Freedom is always understood in terms of Reason. Its expression in
history means that Thought has progressively become conscious of itself;
that is, has made itself its own object. Freedom is the _consciousness_
of freedom. Liberty of action has little to do with it. Obviously it is
only in the German idealistic system--particularly in the system of
Hegel himself--that this has fully taken place. Meantime, when citizens
of a state (especially of the state in which this philosophic insight
has been achieved) take the laws of their state as their own ends and
motives of action, they attain the best possible substitute for a reason
which is its own object. They appropriate as their own personal reason
the objective and absolute Reason embodied perforce in law and custom.

After this détour, we are led back to the fact that the Germans possess
the greatest freedom yet attained by humanity, for the Prussian
political organization most fully exemplifies Law, or the Universal,
organizing under and within itself all particular arrangements of social
and personal life. Some other peoples--particularly the Latin--have
thought they could _make_ constitutions, or at least that the form of
their constitution was a matter of choice. But this is merely setting up
the private conceit of individuals against the work of Absolute Reason,
and thus marks the disintegration of a state rather than its existence.
Other peoples have tried to found the government on the consent of the
governed, unwitting of the fact that it is the government, the
_specific_ realization of Reason, which makes a state out of what is
otherwise an anarchic mass of individuals. Other peoples have made a
parliament or representative body the essential thing in government; in
philosophic reality this is only a consultative body, having as its main
function communication between classes (which are indispensable to an
"organic" state) and the real government. The chief function of
parliament is to give the opinion of the social classes an opportunity
to feel it is being considered and to enable the real government to take
advantage of whatever wisdom may chance to be expressed. Hegel seems
quite prophetic when he says: "By virtue of this participation
subjective liberty and conceit, with their general opinion, can show
themselves palpably efficacious and enjoy the satisfaction of feeling
themselves to count for something." Finally, the State becomes wholly
and completely an organized Individual only in its external relations,
its relations to other states. As his philosophy of history ignores the
past in seizing upon the national state as the unit and focus of
history, so it ignores all future possibility of a genuinely
international federation to which isolated nationalism shall be
subordinated. Bernhardi writes wholly in the Hegelian sense when he says
that to expand the idea of the State into the idea of humanity is a
Utopian error, for it would exclude the essential principle of life,

Philosophical justification of war follows inevitably from a philosophy
of history composed in nationalistic terms. History is the movement, the
march of God on earth through time. Only one nation at a time can be the
latest and hence the fullest realization of God. The movement of God in
history is thus particularly manifest in those changes by which unique
place passes from one nation to another. War is the signally visible
occurrence of such a flight of the divine spirit in its onward movement.
The idea that friendly intercourse among all the peoples of the earth is
a legitimate aim of human effort is in basic contradiction of such a
philosophy. War is explicit realization of "dialectic," of the negation
by which a higher synthesis of reason is assured. It effectively
displays the "irony of the divine Idea." It is to national life what the
winds are to the sea, "preserving mankind from the corruption
engendered by immobility." War is the most effective preacher of the
vanity of all merely finite interests; it puts an end to that selfish
egoism of the individual by which he would claim his life and his
property as his own or as his family's. International law is not
properly law; it expresses simply certain usages which are accepted so
long as they do not come into conflict with the purpose of a state--a
purpose which always gives the supreme law of national life.
Particularly against the absolute right of the "present bearer of the
world spirit, the spirits of the other nations are absolutely without
right. The latter, just like the nations whose epochs have passed, count
no longer in universal history." Since they are already passed over from
the standpoint of the divine idea, war can do no more than exhibit the
fact that their day has come and gone. World history is the world's
judgment seat.

For a period Hegelian thought was almost supreme in Germany. Then its
rule passed away almost as rapidly as it had been achieved. After
various shiftings, the trend of philosophic thought was definitely "Back
to Kant." Kant's greater sobriety, the sharp distinction he drew
between the realm of phenomena and science and the ideal noumenal world,
commended him after the unbridled pretensions of Hegelian absolutism.
For more than a generation Hegel was spoken of with almost universal
contempt. Nevertheless his ideas, loosed from the technical apparatus
with which he surrounded them, persisted. Upon the historical
disciplines his influence was peculiarly deep and abiding. He fixed the
ideas of Fichte and fastened them together with the pin of evolution.
Since his day, histories of philosophy, or religion, or institutions
have all been treated as developments through necessary stages of an
inner implicit idea or purpose according to an indwelling law. And the
idea of a peculiar mission and destiny of German history has lost
nothing in the operation. Expressions which a bewildered world has
sought since the beginning of the war to explain through the influence
of a Darwinian struggle for existence and survival of the fittest, or
through the influence of a Nietzschean philosophy of power, have their
roots in the classic idealistic philosophy culminating in Hegel.

Kant still remains the philosopher of Germany. The division of life
between the world of sense and of mechanism and the world of the
supersensible and purpose, the world of necessity and the world of
freedom, is more congenial than a complete monism. The attempts of his
successors to bridge the gap and set up a wholly unified philosophy
failed, historically speaking. But, nevertheless, they contributed an
indispensable ingredient to the contemporary German spirit; they helped
people the Kantian void of the supersensible with the substantial
figures of the State and its Historical Evolution and Mission. Kant
bequeathed to the world an intellect devoted to the congenial task of
discovering causal law in external nature, and an inner intuition which,
in spite of its sublimity, had nothing to look at except the bare form
of an empty law of duty. Kant was kept busy in proving the existence of
this supernal but empty region. Consequently he was not troubled by
being obliged to engage in the unremunerative task of spending his time
gazing into a blank void. His successors were not so fortunate. The
existence of this ideal realm in which reason, purpose and freedom are
one was axiomatic to them; they could no longer busy themselves with
proving its existence. Some of them, called the Romanticists, filled it
with visions, more or less poetic, which frankly drew their substance
from an imagination inflamed by emotional aspiration in revolt at the
limitations of outward action. Others, called the idealistic
philosophers, filled in the void, dark because of excess of light, with
less ghostly forms of Law and the unfolding in History of Absolute Value
and Purpose. The two worlds of Kant were too far away from each other.
The later idealistic world constructions crumbled; but their débris
supplied material with which to fill in the middle regions between the
Kantian worlds of sense and of reason. This, I repeat, is their lasting
contribution to present German culture. Where Kantianism has not
received a filling in from the philosophy of history and the State, it
has remained in Germany, as elsewhere, a critique of the methodology of
science; its importance has been professional rather than human.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the first lecture we set out with the suggestion of an inquiry into
the influence of general ideas upon practical affairs, upon those
larger practical affairs called politics. We appear to have concluded
with a conviction that (in the instance before us at least) politics has
rather been the controlling factor in the formation of philosophic ideas
and in deciding their vogue. Yet we are well within limits when we say
that ideas which were evoked in correspondence with concrete social
conditions served to articulate and consolidate the latter. Even if we
went so far as to say that reigning philosophies simply reflect as in a
mirror contemporary social struggles, we should have to add that seeing
one's self in a mirror is a definite practical aid in carrying on one's
undertaking to its completion.

When what a people sees in its intellectual looking glass is its own
organization and its own historic evolution as an organic instrument of
the accomplishment of an Absolute Will and Law, the articulating and
consolidating efficacy of the reflection is immensely intensified.
Outside of Germany, the career of the German idealistic philosophy has
been mainly professional and literary. It has exercised considerable
influence upon the teaching of philosophy in France, England and this
country. Beyond professorial circles, its influence has been
considerable in theological directions. Without doubt, it has modulated
for many persons the transition from a supernatural to a spiritual
religion; it has enabled them to give up historical and miraculous
elements as indifferent accretions and to retain the moral substance and
emotional values of Christianity. But the Germans are quite right in
feeling that only in Germany is this form of idealistic thinking both
indigenous and widely applied.

A crisis like the present forces upon thoughtful persons a consideration
of the value for the general aims of civilization of a philosophy of the
_a priori_, the Absolute, and of their immanent evolution through the
medium of an experience which as just experience is only a superficial
and negligible vehicle of transcendent Laws and Ends. It forces a
consideration of what type of general ideas is available for the
articulation and guidance of our own life in case we find ourselves
looking upon the present world scene as an _a priori_ and an
absolutistic philosophy gone into bankruptcy.

In Europe, speaking generally, "Americanism" is a synonym for crude
empiricism and a materialistic utilitarianism. It is no part of my
present task to try to show how largely this accusation is due to
misunderstanding. It is simpler to inquire how far the charge points to
the problem which American life, and therefore philosophy in America,
must meet. It is difficult to see how any _a priori_ philosophy, or any
systematic absolutism, is to get a footing among us, at least beyond
narrow and professorial circles. Psychologists talk about learning by
the method of trial and error or success. Our social organization
commits us to this philosophy of life. Our working principle is to try:
to find out by trying, and to measure the worth of the ideas and
theories tried by the success with which they meet the test of
application in practice. Concrete consequences rather than _a priori_
rules supply our guiding principles. Hegel found it "superficial and
absurd to regard as objects of choice" social constitutions; to him
"they were necessary structures in the path of development." To us they
are the cumulative result of a multitude of daily and ever-renewed

That such an experimental philosophy of life means a dangerous
experiment goes without saying. It permits, sooner or later it may
require, every alleged sacrosanct principle to submit to ordeal by
fire--to trial by service rendered. From the standpoint of _a priorism_,
it is hopelessly anarchic; it is doomed, _a priori_, to failure. From
its own standpoint, it is itself a theory to be tested by experience.
Now experiments are of all kinds, varying from those generated by blind
impulse and appetite to those guided by intelligently formed ideas. They
are as diverse as the attempt of a savage to get rain by sprinkling
water and scattering thistledown, and that control of electricity in the
laboratory from which issue wireless telegraphy and rapid traction. Is
it not likely that in this distinction we have the key to the failure or
success of the experimental method generalized into a philosophy of
life, that is to say, of social matters--the only application which
procures complete generalization?

An experimental philosophy differs from empirical philosophy as
empiricism has been previously formulated. Historical empiricisms have
been stated in terms of precedents; their generalizations have been
summaries of what has previously happened. The truth and falsity of
these generalizations depended then upon the accuracy with which they
catalogued, under appropriate heads, a multiplicity of past occurrences.
They were perforce lacking in directive power except so far as the
future might be a routine repetition of the past. In an experimental
philosophy of life, the question of the past, of precedents, of origins,
is quite subordinate to prevision, to guidance and control amid future
possibilities. Consequences rather than antecedents measure the worth of
theories. Any scheme or project may have a fair hearing provided it
promise amelioration in the future; and no theory or standard is so
sacred that it may be accepted simply on the basis of past performance.

But this difference between a radically experimental philosophy and an
empiristic philosophy only emphasizes the demand for careful and
comprehensive reflection with respect to the ideas which are to be
tested in practice. If an _a priori_ philosophy has worked at all in
Germany it is because it has been based on an _a priori_ social
constitution--that is to say, on a state whose organization is such as
to determine in advance the main activities of classes of individuals,
and to utilize their particular activities by linking them up with one
another in definite ways. It is a commonplace to say that Germany is a
monument to what can be done by means of conscious method and
organization. An experimental philosophy of life in order to succeed
must not set less store upon methodic and organized intelligence, but
more. We must learn from Germany what methodic and organized work means.
But instead of confining intelligence to the technical means of
realizing ends which are predetermined by the State (or by something
called the historic Evolution of the Idea), intelligence must, with us,
devote itself as well to construction of the ends to be acted upon.

The method of trial and error or success is likely, if not directed by a
trained and informed imagination, to score an undue proportion of
failures. There is no possibility of disguising the fact that an
experimental philosophy of life means a hit-and-miss philosophy in the
end. But it means missing rather than hitting, if the aiming is done in
a happy-go-lucky way instead of by bringing to bear all the resources of
inquiry upon locating the target, constructing propulsive machinery and
figuring out the curve of trajectory. That this work is, after all, but
hypothetical and tentative till it issue from thought into action does
not mean that it might as well be random guesswork; it means that we can
do still better next time if we are sufficiently attentive to the causes
of success and failure this time.

America is too new to afford a foundation for an _a priori_ philosophy;
we have not the requisite background of law, institutions and achieved
social organization. America is too new to render congenial to our
imagination an evolutionary philosophy of the German type. For our
history is too obviously future. Our country is too big and too
unformed, however, to enable us to trust to an empirical philosophy of
muddling along, patching up here and there some old piece of machinery
which has broken down by reason of its antiquity. We must have system,
constructive method, springing from a widely inventive imagination, a
method checked up at each turn by results achieved. We have said long
enough that America means opportunity; we must now begin to ask:
Opportunity for what, and how shall the opportunity be achieved? I can
but think that the present European situation forces home upon us the
need for constructive planning. I can but think that while it gives no
reason for supposing that creative power attaches _ex officio_ to
general ideas, it does encourage us to believe that a philosophy which
should articulate and consolidate the ideas to which our social practice
commits us would clarify and guide our future endeavor.

Time permits of but one illustration. The present situation presents the
spectacle of the breakdown of the whole philosophy of Nationalism,
political, racial and cultural. It is by the accident of position rather
than any virtue of our own that we are not sharers in the present
demonstration of failure. We have borrowed the older philosophy of
isolated national sovereignty and have lived upon it in a more or less
half-hearted way. In our internal constitution we are actually
interracial and international. It remains to see whether we have the
courage to face this fact and the wisdom to think out the plan of action
which it indicates. Arbitration treaties, international judicial
councils, schemes of international disarmament, peace funds and peace
movements, are all well in their way. But the situation calls for more
radical thinking than that which terminates in such proposals. We have
to recognize that furtherance of the depth and width of human
intercourse is the measure of civilization; and we have to apply this
fact without as well as within our national life. We must make the
accident of our internal composition into an idea, an idea upon which we
may conduct our foreign as well as our domestic policy. An international
judicial tribunal will break in the end upon the principle of national

We have no right to cast stones at any warring nation till we have asked
ourselves whether we are willing to forego this principle and to submit
affairs which limited imagination and sense have led us to consider
strictly national to an international legislature. In and of itself, the
idea of peace is a negative idea; it is a police idea. There _are_
things more important than keeping one's body whole and one's property
intact. Disturbing the peace is bad, not because peace is disturbed, but
because the fruitful processes of coöperation in the great experiment of
living together are disturbed. It is futile to work for the negative end
of peace unless we are committed to the positive ideal which it cloaks:
Promoting the efficacy of human intercourse irrespective of class,
racial, geographical and national limits. Any philosophy which should
penetrate and particulate our present social practice would find at work
the forces which unify human intercourse. An intelligent and courageous
philosophy of practice would devise means by which the operation of
these forces would be extended and assured in the future. An American
philosophy of history must perforce be a philosophy for its future, a
future in which freedom and fullness of human companionship is the aim,
and intelligent coöperative experimentation the method.



     Absolutism, 89, 112, 115, 124

     America, philosophy in, 123-132

     "Americanism," 124

     Anti-Semitism, 100-101.

     _A priori_, 39-44, 126, 129

     Authority, 52-54

     Bentham, 56

     Bergson, 4

     Bernhardi, 34-35, 52, 118

     Bourdon, 107-108

     Burke, 93-94

     Chamberlain, 101 n.

     Cosmopolitanism, 67, 75, 85, 99

     Culture, 91

     Descartes, 92

     Despotism enlightened, 53

     Dialectic, 70, 118

     Duty, 24, 50-57

     Education, 14, 72, 73

     Empiricism, 41, 43, 126-129

     Enlightenment, the, 37-39, 59, 92, 103

     Eucken, 36, 55

     Evolution, 112

     Fichte, 68-80, 85-87

     Formalism, 51

     Freedom, 18, 25, 30, 33-35, 47, 51, 71, 115.

     French Revolution, 57, 94, 103

     French thought, 52, 91-94, 95, 100

     Germania, 104

     Germany, 14-16, 28, 29-31, 32-33, 36, 71, 78-81, 84-85, 88, 91-93,
         94-98, 106-107

     Haym, 107

     Hegel, 94-95, 107-120, 125

     Heine, 17, 18, 76, 83, 84-85

     Herder, 112

     History, 5-6, 59-67, 98-102, 107-119, 121

     Hoffman, 81

     Idealism, 28, 39, 70, 82, 107, 123, 130

     Ideas and action, 3-15, 123-132

     Individualism, 49, 72

     Intelligence, 54-56, 126-128

     Jena, 68

     Kant, 19-40, 47-58, 59-67, 119-121

     Kultur, 62-64

     Lange, 78

     Lasalle, 77

     Law, 20-25, 116

     Leibniz, 59, 112

     Luther, 16, 27, 71, 87

     Marx, 6, 110 n.

     Militarism, 52

     Napoleon, 67, 78-79

     Nationalism, 67, 81, 86, 87, 115

     Nietzsche, 28, 34, 58

     Pantheism, 77, 82

     Parliaments, 117

     Personality, 48

     Pfleiderer, 105

     Philosophy, 7-18, 123-132

     Property, 74

     Psychology, Social, 82

     Race, 100-101

     Religion, 20-21, 26-27, 95

     Rights, 52, 57

     Romanticism, 81, 104, 122

     Rousseau, 61, 91

     Schelling, 82 n.

     Scholar, 72

     Science, 21-23, 28

     Socialism, 74-75

     Social motives, 60-61

     Society, 64-65

     State, 64-65, 66-67, 73-77, 110-118

     Subjectivism, 49, 81

     Supersensible, 23-25

     v. Sybel, 78-80

     Tacitus, 104

     Taine, 14

     Universalism of Germany, 36, 106-107

     _Urvolk_, 101-102

     Utilitarianism, 57-58

     _Volks-seele_, 82

     War, 35-36, 89, 97, 118-120

     World-heroes, 112


     By JOHN DEWEY, Professor in Columbia University, and JAMES H.
     TUFTS, Professor in the University of Chicago. (_American
     Science Series._) 618 pp. 8vo. $2.00.

G. H. PALMER, _Professor in Harvard University_: It is a scholarly and
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            NEW YORK


_Translated from the French by Dr. Arthur Mitchell_

$3.00 net, by mail $3.17

"Bergson's resources in the way of erudition are remarkable, and in the
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A book that widens horizons and quickens consciousness."



Ellipses match the original. A row of asterisks represents a thought break.
Words in italics in the original are surrounded with _underscores_.

The following corrections have been made to the text:

     Page 53: duty must get[original has gets] its subject-matter

     Page 110: wisdom is like "[quotation mark missing in the
     original]the bird of Minerva

     Page 134: _Volks-seele_[original has _Volk-seele_], 82

Typographical errors in the book reviews have been retained as printed.

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