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Title: Life's Basis and Life's Ideal - The Fundamentals of a New Philosophy of Life
Author: Eucken, Rudolf
Language: English
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    Translated by W. R. BOYCE GIBSON
    Crown 8vo, cloth, price 3s. 6d. net.

       *     *     *     *     *

    And by W. R. BOYCE GIBSON


    Second Edition, crown 8vo, cloth, price 3s. 6d. net.

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  _First published December 1911_
  _Second and Revised Edition, February 1912_


  TRANSLATOR'S INTRODUCTORY NOTE                                     vii

  AUTHOR'S PREFACE                                                   xxi


     PRELIMINARY REMARKS                                               3

         (a) The Older Systems                                         6
              1. The Religious System                                  6
              2. The System of Immanent Idealism                      15
         (b) The Newer Systems                                        22
              1. The Naturalistic System                              24
              2. The Socialistic System                               41
              3. The System of Æsthetic Individualism                 61

     II. Consideration of the Situation as a Whole, and
           Preliminaries for Further Investigation                    81
         (a) The Nature of the New as a Whole and its Relation to
             the Old                                                  81
         (b) The Condition of the Present                             86
         (c) The Form of the Problem                                  92

  II. THE OUTLINE OF A NEW PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE                         99
      INTRODUCTORY REMARKS AND CONSIDERATIONS                        101

     I. THE MAIN THESIS                                              110
         (a) The Ascent to the Main Thesis                           110
              1. Man as a Being of Nature                            110
              2. The Growth of Man beyond Nature                     113
              3. The Inner Contradiction of the New Life             134
         (b) The Development of the Main Thesis                      144
              1. The Main Thesis and the Possibility of a New
                System of Life                                       144
                  (a) _The Development of the Spiritual Life to
                     Independence_                                   144
                  (b) _The Demands of a New System of Life_          150
                  (c) _The Spiritual Basis of the System of Life_    152
                  (d) _Human Existence_                              161
                  (e) _Results and Prospects_                        166
              2. The Transformation and the Elevation of Human
                Life                                                 168
                  (a) _Aims and Ways_                                168
                  (b) _The Nature of Freedom_                        174
                  (c) _The Beginnings of the Independent Spiritual
                     Life_                                           183
                  (d) _The Transcending of Division_                 187
                      i. _The Spiritual Conception of History_       188
                     ii. _The Spiritual Conception of Society_       196
                  (e) _The Elevation of Life above Division_         201

         (a) The Problem of Truth and Reality                        216
         (b) Man and the World                                       226
         (c) The Movement of the Spiritual Life in Man               233
         (d) The Emergence of a New Type of Life                     240
              1. _Life's Attainment of Greatness_                    240
              2. _The Increase of Movement_                          247
              3. _The Gain of Stability_                             251
         (e) Activism, a Profession of Faith                         255

         (a) Doubt and Prostration                                   262
         (b) Consideration and Demand                                267
         (c) The Victory                                             273


      _Introductory Considerations_                                  289
         (a) The Character of Culture                                298
         (b) The Organisation of the Work of Culture                 315

      II. THE FORM OF THE INDIVIDUAL DEPARTMENTS                     322
        _Preliminary Remarks_                                        322
         (a) Religion, Morality, Education                           324
              1. Religion                                            324
              2. Morality                                            335
              3. Education and Instruction                           343
         (b) Science and Philosophy                                  345
         (c) Art and Literature                                      354
         (d) Social and Political Life                               358
         (e) The Life of the Individual                              369

  CONCLUSION                                                         373

  INDEX                                                              375


With the consent of the author the title "Life's Basis and Life's Ideal"
has been adopted for this translation of "Die Grundlinien einer neuen
Lebensanschauung," with the hope that thereby the purpose of the work
will be more directly indicated than by a literal translation of the
German title. It is hoped, further, that the title adopted will make an
appeal to the general reading public. To make such an appeal is not the
desire of every writer on philosophical subjects: but in the present
instance it is the case. The author feels that he has a message for the
present time, and one that is vital to the true interests of all. It has
been remarked, and the present writer would be among the first to
acknowledge the truth of the statement, that the voice is that of a
prophet in the sense of an ethical teacher, rather than that of a
philosopher in the more technical sense. Nevertheless, the use of a
philosophical terminology, and the constant implicit reference to the
results of philosophical endeavour in the past and present, combined
with the peculiarities of the author's own views, make it difficult to
understand his message. To non-philosophical readers who are not already
acquainted with the more popular works which have been translated under
the titles of "Christianity and the New Idealism," "The Life of the
Spirit," and "The Meaning and Value of Life," the present work will
appear of considerable difficulty. Difficulty in such a work is,
however, by no means necessarily an evil, for it may compel more careful
reading and thought. The present work is the latest and best general
statement, by the author, of his philosophical position. By some
reference here to certain ideas, principles, and aims of the
philosophy, the attention of the reader may be drawn to those aspects
which, in personal contact with the author, one comes to feel are
regarded by him as of most importance. It is not invariably so, but in
this case to know the man is to gain immensely in the power to
understand and appreciate the message. He inspires us with his
confidence and enthusiasm, even when we have doubts as to the adequacy
of his philosophical creed. His philosophy is, indeed, the outcome of an
attitude of life. To know the man is to understand more fully than from
all his written works what he means when he speaks of the development of
_personality_ and _spiritual individuality_. Whatever may be the value
of what is written about Professor Eucken's position, no substitute can
be found for reading his own words in as many of his different
expositions as possible.

Should anyone seek in this work for a systematic discussion of
philosophical problems on the lines of traditional Rationalism, which,
though often assumed to be dead, still asserts a strong influence upon
us, he will not only look in vain but will also lose much that is of
value in that which is offered. The aim of the philosophy is not to
discuss the basis and ideal of thought, but to probe to the depth of
life in all its complexity, and to advance to an all-inclusive ideal.
The starting-point for us all is life as we experience it, not an
apparent ultimate, such as the _cogito ergo sum_ of Descartes, the _I
ought_ of Kant, or the _pure being_ of Hegel. At the outset, therefore,
it is necessary to note the nature of the relation between philosophy
and life. Philosophy arises within life as an expression of its nature
and general import. Life may assume various forms, may be, that is, of
different types; with different individuals and societies it is
organised in divers ways. Life so organised, having certain definite
tendencies, is called by Professor Eucken a _system of life_. In the
philosophies of life which arise in these types or systems of life, life
becomes more explicitly conscious of its own nature. Further, a
philosophy of life is also a means of justification and defence of one
system of life in opposition to other systems. Life as experienced, as
organised in some way, is prior to any definite intellectual or
conceptual expression of it. On the other hand a type of life may be
influenced and modified by changes in the accepted philosophy of life,
or by the adoption of a new philosophy. A philosophy, therefore, is to
be judged by the system of life it represents and by its spiritual
fruitfulness. As the roots of the differences between philosophies are
in the systems of life from which the philosophies arise, the conflict
is primarily not between theories, but between systems of life. The
ground of the author's general appeal thus becomes apparent. The problem
is a vital one; in one form or another, at one time or another, everyone
is faced with it: how shall I mould my life? And it is here that we must
insist upon the importance of Professor Eucken's contention that we have
to make our decision for one system of life as a whole, and thus for one
philosophy of life as a whole, as against other systems and other
philosophies taken as wholes.

Life as experienced is a process, a growth; and in this growth it
oversteps the bounds of the philosophy in which at an earlier stage it
expressed itself, and according to which it strove to fashion itself.
The need for a new philosophy is then felt. Generally, the need is for a
philosophy more comprehensive and more clearly defined than any of the
previous philosophies. Now, Professor Eucken contends that none of the
philosophies of life which are common among us in the present time are
adequate to represent and guide our life at this stage of its
development. He calls us to turn for a few moments from the rush and
turmoil of modern life to "come and reason together" as to life's basis
and ideal. In justification of his view, and in accordance with his own
principle that we must start with life as we experience it, he considers
in the first place the common philosophies of life of the present time
in relation to the systems of life from which they spring. Few will
disagree with his negative view that Religion--at least as
ecclesiastically presented--Immanent Idealism, Naturalism, Socialism,
and Individualism involve limitations, and sometimes unjustifiable
tendencies and claims, and are inadequate to satisfy the age. His next
and chief endeavour is to indicate the direction in which a new
philosophy is to be sought, and also tentatively to sketch the outlines
of such a philosophy. In the nature of the case--as life is a
process--no such philosophy can be regarded as complete. It can and
should strive to take up into itself all that is of value in the
discarded philosophies. Any attempt to outline a "new" philosophy will
be judged by how far, with the incompleteness on all hands, it takes the
different threads of life, and blending them into a unity aids their
growth individually and as a whole.

Brief reference maybe made here to an attitude, common in the present
time especially among English-speaking peoples, which the author does
not explicitly mention. I mean the attitude of Agnosticism. This, he
would contend and it would seem rightly, is in the main theoretical and
does not, as such, correspond to or represent a system of life. The
agnostic's system of life is formed of aspects of the systems discussed,
with a strong tendency to Naturalism. The case of Huxley, who coined the
term _Agnosticism_, is an excellent example: notwithstanding his
frequently insisting with considerable force upon truths essentially
idealistic, no one can doubt the predominant naturalistic tendency of
his thought. As a rule the adoption of the attitude of Agnosticism is an
attempt, as Dr. Ward has so clearly and forcibly argued in his
"Naturalism and Agnosticism,"[1] to escape from the difficulties of
Naturalism, which in the end it betrays. Agnosticism is, in fact, only
an assumed absence of a theory of life. Professor Eucken would insist
that the instability of the position is intolerable in actual life.
Life's demand for unification, for consciousness of a meaning and a
value, drives us beyond it. "Mere research," he writes, p. 272, "can
tolerate a state of hesitation between affirmation and negation; it must
often refrain from a decision in the case of special problems. Life,
however, cannot endure any such intermediary position; for life, such
hesitation in arriving at a decision must result in complete stagnation,
and this would help the mere negation to victory."

The great objection to all the systems of life mentioned is that they
are too narrow, and in some aspects superficial. The new system must
unite comprehensiveness with depth. The insufficiency of intellectualism
is now generally recognised: the desire of the age is to do justice to
the content of experience. Though the new system of life is to include
all that is of value of earlier systems, it is by no means an
eclecticism, for it has its integrating principle. This we shall best
see by considering the method and the result of the philosophy. Life as
experienced has already been referred to as the starting-point. To
whatever extent we may seem, on the surface of experience, to be under
the antithesis of subject and object, when we probe deeper we recognise
that both are within life: they are a duality in unity. Here again
reference may be made to the above-mentioned work[2] of Dr. Ward, in
which probably the best exposition in English of this same truth is to
be found. Life as experienced is not simply the empirical states of
consciousness: its basis lies deeper. The method of the philosophy is in
consequence described as _noölogical_ in distinction from the
_psychological_ method, which treats of man out of relation to a world,
and ends with the examination of psychical states; and from the
_cosmological_ method, which treats the world out of relation to man and
aims chiefly at comprehension in universals of thought. Expressed in
another way, life is fundamentally spiritual. Self-consciousness is the
unifying principle: it is only by relation to life as self-conscious
that we can predicate meaning or value. All that is regarded as true and
valuable in all the above-mentioned systems presupposes this relation.
The self-conscious life is not to be confused with the subjective life
of the "mere" individual. In fact, there is no "mere" individual, for in
all there are tendencies which transcend the limits of individual
experience. For example, life includes the relation of man and world;
and the life of society is more than a mere sum of the lives of the
individuals. Perhaps a more correct way to state the author's position
is to say that the individual shares the self-conscious, or, otherwise
expressed, the spiritual life which transcends nature, the individual,
and society. This world-pervading and world-transcending self-conscious
life--_the Independent Spiritual Life_--may be regarded as an absolute
or universal life. The pursuit of the ideals of truth, goodness, and
beauty carries us far beyond considerations of the welfare of the
individual, or the society, or even humanity as a whole. In our
activities we often attain something quite different from and far better
than that at which we aim. Nevertheless, unless truth, goodness, beauty,
and all tendencies leading to them are self-consciously experienced they
have neither meaning nor value: viewed universally, they presuppose the
Independent Spiritual Life. The highest development of the spiritual
life known to us is personality, our "being-for-self," which is not to
be identified with subjective individuality. We are not personalities to
begin with, but have the potentiality to become such through our own
effort. Personality is our highest ideal: in it, as self-conscious
experience all other values for us are included. The author calls us,
therefore, from that excessive occupation with the environment in which
we forget ourselves, to spiritual concentration and the pursuit of
spiritual ideals. The spirit of his message may be expressed in words
familiar to all: "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world
and lose his own soul." Remembering that life is fundamentally
self-conscious or spiritual, it may be said that life's basis and life's
ideal is life itself--life completely self-conscious and following out
its own necessities. The basis of man's life is the Independent
Spiritual Life which is appropriated but not created by him in his
striving for a comprehensive and harmonious personality. The ideal of
man's life is such a personality. The more man "loses his life" in the
pursuit of the ideals of truth, goodness, and beauty, the more surely
will he "save it," the more comprehensive, harmonious, and spiritual in
nature will he become. Then he will realise himself as a personality,
and become conscious of his unity with the Independent Spiritual Life.
The dominant Idealism of this philosophy of life is evident: but the
meanings of truth, goodness, and beauty are different from what they
appear to be in many of the older presentations of Idealism. Truth,
goodness and beauty are not abstract ideals but concrete experiences.
The present writer has long been of the opinion that much of
contemporary idealistic philosophy, including that of Professor Eucken,
might be better termed _Spiritualism_ than _Idealism_.

If life as experienced is a process, it is not difficult to understand
that importance should be attributed to history. In the author's
exposition not only is constant reference made to historical
development, but the nature of history is made a definite subject of
discussion. I would call attention to this aspect of the author's work:
it appears a means of doing more justice to the content of experience
than is done in most forms of Idealism. On the one hand a Rationalism
which tends to shut out the historical as transient and merely
appearance is avoided, and on the other a Historical Relativism which
denies all stability and permanence is strenuously opposed. While the
absolute and eternal--the Independent Spiritual Life--is the
presupposition of the temporal manifestation of the spiritual life in
man, for man the historical is real. The form of our spiritual life is
due to our own acts and decisions. It is in this connection that the
fundamental nature of our spiritual effort may best be seen. The
author's voice is that of a prophet in so far as his whole exposition is
presented as an endeavour to arouse men from their apathy and from the
pursuit of what they themselves know to be unsatisfying ideals. The
importance attached to spiritual effort in his philosophy leads
Professor Eucken to adopt the term "_Activism_" as a definite
philosophical badge. The activistic note is evident throughout, much
more so perhaps in the present volume than in those which have preceded
it. The significance of this emphasis is most clear in its bearing upon
our relation to the past and the present. The present is neither to be
dominated by the past nor sacrificed to the future, but the past is to
be appropriated by our activity in the present, and the present, while
possessing reality and value in itself, looks forward to the future.
Historical content, spiritual endeavour in past, present, and future,
must be unified by a common task. The past is ours only so far as we
appropriate it. Spiritual inheritance is not the same as natural
inheritance. We may by our spiritual effort adopt or reject ideas or a
system of life which have come to us from the past. The character which
the past will have for us will depend on our present spiritual
condition. All spiritual progress involves a break with the past. In the
same way we may take up an attitude of antagonism to the confusions
which exist in modern life, and we may follow a new course. All this is
not to deny the value of history in itself and for our present efforts:
the reverse of such a denial is nearer the truth. For if we realise the
depths and independence of our own life we are not only in a position to
understand and appreciate the movement of history, but, by the nature of
life, we are then driven beyond the mere present. The past relives with
a new spiritual meaning in the consciousness that makes it its own.
History is more than a succession of facts; it must be revalued as a
present experience. Life is not subjectively individual, and to realise
it we must find our place in universal tendencies which are working
themselves out in history. The content of history cannot be pressed into
the narrow scheme of moral effort and attainment, as that is usually
conceived, but in it all spheres of life assert their independent right.
History is not an evolution of categories, but a conflict of concrete
realities, of systems of life, of personalities. Though the great man
cannot be understood out of relation to his time, he is not simply a
product of the social environment. The great man strives to raise the
time to his own level. It may be said that in order adequately to
appreciate the author's position in regard to history the book
translated into English under the title of "The Problem of Human Life
as viewed by the Great Thinkers from Plato to the Present Time" should
be read in the light of the general principles of his philosophy. The
reality of evil and of antitheses in life are fully acknowledged; but by
the spiritual life being thereby called to assert its independence and
to strive to overcome them they may be a factor leading to good. Evil,
so regarded, is not explained away, but the solution is essentially a
practical one. The theoretical problem of evil remains an enigma to us.
The author's message is positive, not negative: it is a call to pursue
definite positive aims rather than to eradicate painful experiences.
"Not suffering, but spiritual destitution is man's worst enemy" (p.

It has been said with, it would seem, a large amount of truth, that the
philosophy of Hegel has been most fruitfully studied on English soil.
There is reason to believe that it will be somewhat the same in the case
of Professor Eucken's philosophy. His debts to Kant and Hegel are
obvious, but it is interesting to notice that the points in which he
more especially diverges from Hegelianism are largely the same as have
been emphasised in England. The importance he attaches to personality
and ethical activity, his insistence upon human endeavour as a
determining factor in reality, and his emphasis on the dialectic as
being not one of categories but of concrete realities, are in accord
with much of the best of recent English philosophical thought. In the
present work there is much of value for those who--while dissenting from
such perversions as Pragmatism--hold what is commonly termed a "Personal
Idealism." The position of our author is not the same as that of English
Personal Idealism, nevertheless his work aids it in many ways, and
especially in its insistence upon the distinction between personality
and subjective individuality. A comparison of some of the views of the
three philosophical writers who have been most discussed in our
time--the late Professor James, M. Bergson, and our author--would be of
interest. To enter upon a systematic and exhaustive comparison here is
far from my intention, but a few points may be suggested. The modes of
exposition, which in a greater or less degree indicate the respective
methods, manifest striking contrasts: in many respects the positions of
M. Bergson and Professor Eucken appear totally dissimilar. The
acquaintance with natural science, and the constant reference to its
data, that we find in the works of M. Bergson, are not found in those of
our author. Their place is taken, however, by what some will regard as
more interesting, and even more important, an acquaintance with the
present condition of human life, and also a constant reference to
history. Common to these writers is a reaction against formalism and
intellectualism, and in one form or another there is in their writings a
strong element of empiricism. Freedom in some sense is insisted upon by
all; though so far as we may judge from their published expositions
there seem to be considerable differences of view in this matter.
Together with this assertion of the reality of Freedom, both M. Bergson
and our author definitely acknowledge the reality of Necessity and
recognise the importance of struggle in development. Neither writer
claims that we can gain more than the knowledge of a direction in which
the solution of the problem may be sought. Our author himself might
quite well have said, though with application in the main to different
classes of facts, what M. Bergson has said: "It seems to me that in a
great number of different fields there is a great number of collections
of facts, each of which, considered apart, gives us a direction in which
the answer to the problem may be sought--a direction only. But it is a
great thing to have even a direction, and still more to have several
directions, for at the precise point where these directions converge
might be found the solution we are seeking. What we possess meanwhile
are lines of facts.[3]..." "But what is this new reality," writes
Professor Eucken (p. 135), "and this whole to which the course of the
movement trends? The more we reflect over the question the more strongly
we feel that it is a direction rather than a conclusion that is offered
to us in this matter...." There is another passage from M. Bergson the
quotation of which in the present context is justified by its harmony
with so much that Professor Eucken himself says with regard to man's
ideal of life: "If, then, in every province, the triumph of life is
expressed by creation, ought we not to think that the ultimate reason of
human life is a creation which, in distinction from that of the artist
or the man of science, can be pursued at every moment and by all men
alike; I mean the creation of self by self, the continual enrichment of
personality by elements which it does not draw from outside, but causes
to spring forth from itself?"[4] Whether in the works of the late
Professor James there is evidence of a lurking desire for an Absolute
may be left undiscussed. M. Bergson certainly gives more than a hint of
something like an Absolute. Of the absolutist (not rationalistic)
tendency in the philosophy of our author there can be no doubt.
Notwithstanding the antagonism to intellectualism shown in this
philosophy, the influence of Hegel seems evident in its absolutist
tendency. Dr. Ward has justly said that, "with Hegel, the Absolute seems
at one time to be a perfect Self with no hint of aught beside or beyond
its own completed self-consciousness, and at another not to be a self at
all, but only the absolutely spiritual--art, religion, and
philosophy--the over-individual ends, as they are sometimes called,
which become realised in subjective spirits: not self-conscious Spirit,
but simply the impersonal Spirit in all spirits."[5] How far a
corresponding criticism is applicable to the ideas of the Independent
Spiritual Life, and the spiritual life in humanity and the world, in the
present philosophy, its readers must be left to decide.

The relation of philosophy to life as Professor Eucken conceives it may
justify him in treating primarily of what may be called in a special
sense the problems of life. The difficulty of the problems of the theory
of knowledge no one will deny, though many are impatient of
considerations of them. In any general appeal such as we have to do with
in this work it is almost impossible to deal seriously with them. Still
the problems of the theory of knowledge force themselves upon us, and
will not be thrust on one side. The late Professor James did his best to
leave us in no doubt as to his position in this matter: we have more
than a glimpse of the attitudes of M. Bergson and Professor Eucken. We
await, however, as likely to aid us in a fuller understanding and
estimate of the philosophy, the volume the author has promised us on the
theory of knowledge. Whatever the points of similarity may be in the
views of those mentioned, we cannot fail to note the differences--to
some of these in the case of Pragmatism the author has himself called
our attention; further, we cannot mistake the dominant Idealism of the
philosophy of life here presented to us. One word must be said as to the
author's attitude towards Mysticism; an attitude that has not always
been understood. The Mysticism he opposes is of the type that is
virtually the negation of the Activism which is to him fundamental. But
when that is recognised, the careful reader cannot fail to see that,
ultimately, the philosophy is essentially mystical.

As I understand it, the suggestion that our author's philosophy would
form a rallying-point for Idealists of various kinds is a tribute to its
unity and comprehensiveness, of which there can be no doubt. Roughly, we
may take up one of two attitudes to the work of a philosopher. We may
accept his general point of view, his main principles, in a word his
"system," however tentative, and modify it in detail. On the other hand
we may reject his main position, and yet find much to accept in his
working out of various aspects of detail, and we may incorporate this in
some other general system. It is not for me to state here the attitude I
take towards, or the difficulties I feel in, the philosophy; I think
that there will be few who will not gain much from the inspiration and
originality which are shown by the author. For his own philosophy of
life he seeks no other treatment than that which he has meted to others:
a sincere endeavour to understand its basis and its ideal. His hope is
that however much its limitations may be pointed out, the truth in it
may be acknowledged and appropriated, if possible in a higher view. The
acquisition of a higher view would cause no one more real joy than
Professor Eucken.

I have to thank the author for his personal kindness in the discussion
of some difficult points and in the revision of a portion of the proof
sheets. At his suggestion or with his consent a number of small
alterations, as, for example, in the titles of sections, have been made
from the present German text. Owing to an accident, the time for the
preparation of this translation was unfortunately curtailed: I should be
indebted for any suggestions for its improvement. I am indebted to the
Rev. Felix Holt, B.A., for reading through the whole in manuscript and
making many valuable suggestions. For all defect and error I alone am


  CAMBRIDGE, _October 1911_


  [1] "Naturalism and Agnosticism." 3rd Edition, 1906. Vols. I. and II.
    A. & C. Black.

  [2] _Ibid._ Vol. II. Lects. xiv.-xx.

  [3] _Hibbert Journal_, October 1911: p. 26.

  [4] _Ibid._ p. 42.

  [5] "The Realm of Ends; or, Pluralism and Theism" (1911), p. 46.


I have taken the opportunity given by reprinting to revise the whole. I
have made a number of alterations rendering the author's meaning more
clear. My thanks are again due to Mr. Holt for his help.


  _January 1912_


We may hope for a friendly reception of our investigation only by those
who acknowledge that that which occupies us here is a real problem. It
is hardly open to dispute that life in the present time displays a
serious incongruity between an incalculably rich and fruitful activity
with regard to the material, and complete uncertainty and destitution in
respect of the spiritual, side of life. Attempt after attempt is made to
deliver us from this state of perplexity, and to give more soul and
unity to a culture which outwardly is so imposing. But in the main these
attempts are far too irresolute in their advance from superficiality to
depth, and from individual appearances to the whole: in their innermost
nature they are under the influence of the temporary conditions beyond
which they wish to lead us. In truth, we cannot make an advance in
relation to our life as a whole unless we win a new basis for it. This,
however, we cannot do without raising the problem of our relation to
reality, and, if it is in any way possible, moulding this relationship
in a new way: further, we can be of service in the satisfaction of the
needs of the time only when we gain an independence of it and a
superiority to it.

Here, therefore, so far as the realm of conviction is concerned, we have
a task for philosophy. The confusion that reigns, however, makes the way
difficult for philosophy also; and sets insuperable limits to its power.
We do not meet in immediate experience with facts upon which a new type
of life might be based: much toil and trouble are necessary to arrive at
that, which, when it is once attained, may seem to be simple and easy.
He who finds the problem too complex, and shirks to expend the necessary
effort, can do nothing else than resign himself submissively to the
prevailing confusion. To-day we are unable at first to sketch more than
the outlines and to indicate fundamentals: we must be quite sure of the
basis and the main tendency of life if we would undertake the
construction of systems; and yet it is just these things which are
to-day the subject of agitation and conflict. Not for a moment do we
doubt the imperfection of our own attempt; we can but hope that others
will take up and pursue the matter further.

Notwithstanding these limitations and this trouble, an urgent inner
necessity compels us to recognise that there can be no enduring life of
genuine culture unless humanity is inwardly united by common aims. More
and more clearly this main question is seen to be involved in all the
particular questions of the time; more and more does it become evident
to us that our achievement in individual matters can be but
insignificant, if life as a whole is in a state of stagnation and
exhaustion. Though some who may already have taken up a definite course,
or who in their attention to work in some special sphere have lost all
sense for the whole, may refuse to consider the matter, yet wherever
life is still flowing, and where fresh impulse resists the tendency to
division which deprives it of all soul, to deal with the problem will be
felt to be a necessity. Above all, therefore, we trust in the young,
who, among all cultured nations, are striving for a deeper and nobler
life. The more successful this striving, the sooner shall we advance
from a state of confusion to one of order and clearness, from a realm of
illusions to the kingdom of truth, and in face of the chaotic whirl of
appearances we shall attain stability within ourselves.


  JENA, _Christmas 1906_





He who strives after a new philosophy of life confesses himself thereby
to be of the conviction that the philosophies of the present no longer
satisfy mankind; and so we must begin by giving reasons for sharing this
conviction. In doing this we hope to be able to take a positive survey
of the present situation as a whole, and also to gain a firm
starting-point for the course in which the new is to be sought, and not
simply to remain fixed in a mere negative attitude. A precise statement
of the question is the first condition for a correct answer; to satisfy
this requirement is the chief concern of the first part of our treatise.

Philosophies of life, representations of human life as a whole, surround
us to-day in abundance and court our adherence. The fusion of rich
historical development with active reflection gives occasion to the most
diverse combinations and makes it easy for the individual to project a
representation corresponding to his circumstances and his mood. Thus,
to-day, the philosophies of life of individuals whirl together in
chaotic confusion, gain and lose the passing favour, displace one
another, and themselves change kaleidoscopically. It is not the concern
of philosophy to occupy itself more closely with opinions so accidental
and so fleeting.

There are, however, philosophies of life of another kind, conceptions of
life, which unite and dominate large numbers of people, hold up a common
ideal for their activity, and constitute a power in the life of
universal history. These philosophies of life are rooted in particular
concrete forms of life, in actual combinations of working and striving,
which with dominating power surround the individual and point out his
course. With such ascendancy they may seem to him to be unassailable and
a matter of natural necessity; in reality they are a product of the
industry of universal history, and from this point of view appear merely
as attempts to comprehend the boundless stream of life and to win a
character for our otherwise indefinite existence. For at first we stand
defenceless and helpless in face of the wealth of impressions and
suggestions which throng upon us and draw us in opposite directions.
Only in one way are we able to prevail: life must concentrate and
acquire a controlling centre within itself, and from that begin a
process of counteraction. We lack distinction of centre and environment;
we need an inner aspiration, an aspiration which seeks to draw the whole
of existence to itself and to mould it in its own particular way. This,
however, is impossible, unless at the same time a philosophy of life, a
profession of faith as to the nature of the whole, a justification of
our undertaking, is evolved. A philosophy of life established in this
manner will be incomparably more powerful, and fuller in content, than
the mere foam on the surface of time.

Nevertheless, with all its advantages, such a philosophy of life, like
the corresponding system of life itself, is not ultimate truth: it
remains an attempt, a problem which, ever anew, divides men into
opposing camps. For the experience of history teaches us that the effort
after concentration and an inner synthesis of life does not follow one
clear, direct course throughout, but that different possibilities offer
themselves and, in course of time, struggle upwards to reality.
Different systems thus advance by the side of and in opposition to one
another, each making the claim to undivided supremacy, to a superiority
over all others. Philosophies of life now become means and instruments
to justify and to establish such claims. They must enter into the
severest conflict one with another, and the strife keeps up a powerful
tension and pressure because here, by means of the ideas, tendencies of
life compete with one another; because not mere representations of
reality but realities themselves struggle together. It is manifest from
the existence of these last problems that we do not grow up in a
finished world, but have first to form and build up our world. We are
concerned not merely with interpreting a given reality, but first of all
with winning the true, primary, and all-comprehensive reality. By this
our life is made uncertain and laborious, but it is raised at the same
time to an inner freedom and a more genuine independence.

And now for the first time we see in its true light the fact that its
own views of life can become inadequate to an age. For the fact that an
age lacks an inner unity, that cogent reasons drive it beyond the extant
syntheses, is now a sign that it is not clear and certain as to its own
life. To open up a way for a new synthesis, to organise life more
adequately, becomes the most pressing of all demands, the question of
questions. Even the most cautious and most subtle reflection will not
lead us far in this matter; all hope of success depends upon our life
containing greater depths, which hitherto have not been fully grasped,
and more especially upon a transcendent unity present in it, which
hitherto has not come to complete recognition. All thought and
reflection is thus called to direct itself to the comprehension of such
depths and of such a unity. Everything here depends on facts; on facts,
however, which do not come to us opportunely from without, but which
reveal themselves only to the eye of the spirit and to aspiration.


It must be admitted that the first glance at the present conditions of
life shows a chaotic confusion. A more careful examination, however,
soon discloses a limited number of schemes of life, which, although they
are often combined by individuals, are in their nature distinct and
remain differentiated. We recognise five such systems of life: those of
Religion and of Immanent Idealism on the one hand, and those of
Naturalism, Socialism, and Individualism on the other hand. For, two
main groups may be clearly distinguished: one, older, which gives to
life an invisible world for its chief province; and one, newer, which
places man entirely in the realm of sense experience; within these
groups, the ways again lead in diverse directions. Let us see what each
of these organisations makes out of life; on what each supports itself;
and what each accomplishes. Let us see also where each meets with
opposition and in what it finds its limits; and this not according to
our individual opinion, but according to the experiences of the age.



The religious organisation of life has influenced us in the past with
especial power. This has worked in the form of Christianity, which, as
an ethical religion of redemption, occupies a thoroughly unique position
among religions. As a religion it unites life to a supernatural world,
and subjects our existence to its supremacy; as a religion of redemption
it heightens the contrast between the two worlds to such a degree of
harshness that a complete revolution becomes a necessity; as an ethical
religion it regards the spiritual life as a power of positive creation
and self-determination, and insists upon a complete change of the heart.
Arising in an age of decay, an age weary of life, it confidently took up
the conflict against this faintness; it did not carry on this conflict,
however, by a further development of the natural world and of culture,
but through the revelation of a supernatural order, of a new community
of life, which, through the building up of an invisible Kingdom of
God--which wins a visible expression in the Church--becomes to man in
faith and hope the most certain presence. Christianity ratified an
affirmation of life; still, it did not accomplish this immediately, but
by the most fundamental and definite negation; and thus to a cursory
consideration it might appear to be a flight from the world. In reality,
it unites the negation and the affirmation, flight from, and renewal of,
the world; the deepest feeling of, and the happiest deliverance from,
guilt and suffering, and thereby gives to life a greater breadth as well
as a ceaseless activity in search of its true self. Religion does not
mean a special domain by the side of others; its intention is rather to
be the innermost soul and the supreme power of the whole life. Through
its ideals and its standards it lends to the whole sphere of life a
distinctive character; it leads to a definite organisation of mankind
and offers powerful opposition to all dissipation, all merely individual
caprice. It comes to the individual as a supreme power which brings to
him salvation and truth, shapes him for the highest ends, and connects
his thought and feeling with an invisible world.

With such an undertaking Christianity has exercised most deep-reaching
influences on the course of history; in the first place it implanted a
new vitality in an exhausted humanity; then in the Middle Ages it worked
to the education of a new race; and now that it has become mature it
has not ceased to exercise strong, though quieter, influences:
considering all the facts, it appears to be the most powerful force in

But all the greatness of past achievement could not prevent a strong
movement from arising in the Modern Age against Christianity; a movement
which still continues to increase in power and which undermines the
position of Christianity, where outwardly it still appears quite secure.
It is true that there never was a period when it was not opposed by
individuals, but through the lack of any spiritual import these isolated
oppositions had never combined so as to produce a united effect. An
effect of this kind was first produced with the emergence of new systems
of thought and new streams of life since the beginning of the
seventeenth century; as long, however, as this movement was limited to
the cultured classes and left the masses untouched, that which existed
in it as a menace did not produce its full effect. It was the conviction
of Bayle, that the spirit of the Enlightenment would never permeate the
masses. In the nineteenth century this "unexpected" happened, and the
nature of spiritual endeavour and the disposition of men join together
in an assault upon Christianity; an assault which no one with insight
will call anything but dangerous.

The thing most evident and most talked of is the subversion of the old
conception of the world; a conception which is usually associated with
Christianity. This conception is less and less able to assert itself in
face of the triumphant onward march of modern science. The
representation of nature, like that of human history, has been broadened
immeasurably and at the same time has acquired inner unity, law, and
order; a direct intervention of a supernatural power is felt more and
more to be an intolerable derangement. The earth, hitherto the centre of
the whole and the chief platform upon which the destiny of the universe
was decided, sinks to a position of more correct proportion, and man is
much more closely linked to nature and fitted into a common order. How
then can that which takes place in him decide what shall be the destiny
of the whole?

If we would withdraw from this shattered conception of the world, as
from a mere external matter, to the substance of Christianity, this
substance must be much more clearly and much more forcibly present to us
than it really is. For, in this change we are concerned not simply with
individual phrases, but with the whole mode of thought. We have learnt
to think far more causally and critically; we perceive the peculiarity
of the historical circumstances in which Christianity arose, and, along
with this, become aware of a wide disparity from the circumstances of
the present. We question all historical tradition as to its grounds, and
so overthrow the weight of authority; our thought has become throughout
less naïve and we strive to transcend the form of the immediate
impression. From this point of view it comes about quite easily that the
religious mode of thought appears to be a mere anthropomorphism, a
childlike, imaginative interpretation of the world, which, to an
intelligence equipped with the clearness of objective consideration, can
pass only for a stage in evolution, which has once for all been
overcome. Such is the teaching of Positivism, and it is just in this
reference to religion that its influence extends far beyond the limits
of the positivistic school.

The change of thought would not be so far-reaching and so dangerous if
it did not give expression to a change of life as a whole; but this is
what it really does: the Modern Age through the whole course of its
development sets a universal--a system--over against the religious
system of life. That all departments of life should subordinate
themselves to Religion, that every activity has value only so far as it
either directly or indirectly furthers Religion, appears to the Modern
Age a much too narrow conception, and one which is a mischievous denial
of the truth that these departments of life contain. So the different
branches of the spiritual life--for example, science and art, politics
and economics--liberate themselves radically from the supremacy of
Religion, and this is felt to be an incalculable gain in freedom and
breadth. Since, unimpeded, the new life increases in comprehensiveness,
and draws the whole content of reality into itself, it seems to rest
firmly and securely in itself and to need no completion of any kind

Religion, however, must first seek a place in this new life. It finds
this place with greater difficulty, in that modern life, as it works out
its own peculiar characteristics, ever more directly and ever more
harshly opposes Christianity. The initial assumptions of the two are
fundamentally different. Early Christianity spoke to a generation which
had become perplexed concerning the rationality of the universe and
concerning its own capacity; a generation which could attain to an
affirmation of life only through the building up of a new world in
contrast to that of sense impression. The world, then disdained, has
acquired in the Modern Age an ever-increasing power of attraction. New
peoples and epochs have grown up, which have a feeling of power and wish
to exert the force of their youth in work upon the surrounding world;
this world meets such a desire since it shows itself to be still in the
midst of change and full of problems. If formerly the world surrounded
man as an unchangeable fate, it now proves to be capable of change and
of upward development; man can work and strive to transform it into a
kingdom of reason. The more that power and object unite in this, the
more victorious is the advance of work; the nearer the world is brought
to man's inner life, the more does it become to him his true and only
home. The idea of immanence comes to have a magical sound; everything
which oversteps the boundary marked out by the work of the world soon
comes to be regarded as a flight into a realm of shadows, into an
"other" world. Satisfaction is obtained in life in grappling with
realities; in the display of masculine strength: while the religious
attitude to life, with its waiting and hope, and its expectation of
supernatural aid, seems lifeless, feeble, and altogether lacking in

At the same time, all capacity for understanding the world in which
Christianity set the soul of man disappears. That world was one of pure
inwardness, a world in which the fundamental relation of life was that
of the spiritual life to its own ideal conception, to absolute spirit; a
world in which the questions of character and of the determination of
the will were the chief problems. To earlier Christianity that world was
anything but a mere "other" world; rather it constituted that which was
nearest and most certain; the chief basis of life, from which the world
of sense first received its truth and its value. But the more
significant the world of sense becomes to man, and the more powerfully
it draws his affections to itself, the more does the relation to this
world become the fundamental relation of life; the more does that pure
inner world fade, and the more it appears to be something artificial,
shadowy, something added as an afterthought; and the turning to it comes
to be regarded as a flight into an "other" world. Christianity must
necessarily be alien and unintelligible to anyone who feels the world
which was to Christianity the chief world to be a mere "other" world;
for him all the contentions of Christianity are inevitably distorted,
and every element of joyful affirmation and heroic victory which it
contains obscured; the whole must present a miserable and morbid
picture. Now that the centre of life has changed its position in
relation to the world, is it possible to avoid the consequences of a
growing tendency to displace and dissolve Christianity?

The inner world was to Christianity essentially a realm of conviction
and decision, a relation of will to will, of personality to personality:
free action, in power and love, in guilt and reconciliation, formed the
essence of all events and gave to the world a soul. Only as ethical,
personal power did the spiritual life appear to find its own depth and
to be able to govern the world.

Here again the Modern Age takes a directly antagonistic course. Its work
is considered most of all to lead beyond the subjectivity of man to the
content and under the objective necessity of things. For we seem first
to attain genuine truth when we place ourselves in the world of fact,
reveal its relations, and take part in its movements; we have to follow
the objective and immanent necessities of things; to interpret every
particular case from the standpoint of these necessities and to
harmonise our own conduct with them. Life seems to acquire greatness and
universal significance only insomuch as the process comes before the
effect, the law before freedom, fixed relations before the resolution
into individual occurrences. To the Modern Age, not only has nature been
transformed into a continuous causal chain, but in its spiritual
activity also the age forms great complexes, which, through the force of
logical necessity, are placed beyond the influence of all caprice, and
of all the interests of the narrowly human. From the point of view of
such an evolution the realm of ethical life appears to be a mere
subjective sphere; a tissue of human opinion and striving; something
which falls outside of genuine reality and which can never be forced
into its structure. To continue in the position of early Christianity is
looked upon as a remaining at a lower level of life; conceptions such as
freedom of the will and moral judgment are regarded as childish
delusions which are the more decidedly rejected the more the new life
displays its fundamental character. Again, with a transvaluation of all
values, that which to Christianity was the highest in life and dominated
the whole is regarded as a mere accompanying appearance; indeed, a
danger to the energy and truth of life.

Hence a mode of life has arisen which not only regards the answers of
Christianity with indifference, but does not even recognise its
problems; and this mode of life is attracting to itself more and more
the convictions and energies of mankind. Even now the antithesis which
the centuries have prepared is being forced with unmistakable clearness
into prominence. It was possible for us to deceive ourselves with regard
to its implacability so long as a rationalistic and pantheistic way of
thinking presented Christianity in the most general way, and tried to
comprehend its nature as something universal, and at the same time
placed nature and the universe in the transfiguring light of
speculative consideration. But, in the course of further experience,
that mode of thought has been severely shaken and appears more and more
to be a mere aggregate of phrases; and so the antitheses face one
another unreconciled and a decision is not to be evaded. In this matter
mankind is under the influence of a strong reaction against the
religious, and especially the Christian, mode of life. Throughout many
centuries Christianity has given life a unity and has thrown light upon
reality from its standpoint: further, it has presented its way as the
only possible one; one to which everything which in any way strives
spiritually upward has to adapt itself. If the truth of the whole now
falls into doubt, everything which was intended to give to life
stability and character is soon felt to be heavily oppressive and
intolerably narrow; and everything which in that mode of life was
accidental, temporal, and human advances into the foreground. We clearly
perceive that much passed current as true only because we had become
unaccustomed to ask questions concerning it, and also that many things
owed their acceptance not to their inner necessity, but only to social
sanction. With such feelings it may come to be considered a great
deliverance to shake off the whole, and a necessary step towards
truthfulness of life to eliminate every aspect of that mode of life
which through custom or authority continues to exist.

These tendencies are tendencies of reaction with all their
one-sidedness. But can we deny that a great change of life has been
accomplished, a change which reaches far beyond these tendencies, and
which is still working itself out? That which previously was most
proximate to us is now made to recede; what held currency as absolutely
certain must now be laboriously proved, and, through continual
reflection, loses all freshness and power to convince; immediate
experience, axiomatic certainty, immovable conviction are lacking. The
self-evident certainties in the light of which earlier ages lived and
worked are wanting, and we are compelled to acknowledge that some things
become uncertain, even impossible, when they cease to be self-evident.
Again, it cannot fail to be recognised that we are tired of a merely
religious way of life; we feel its limitations; new needs are awakened
and seek new forms of life and expression; even the traditional
terminology displeases us; even the acutest dialectic cannot lend to the
old the power of youth.

Of course the matter is not finally settled by these judgments of the
age. For, a later age is not the infallible judge of an earlier; much
which to us moderns seems certain may soon become problematic; much
which satisfies us may soon be shown to be inadequate. It may be that
the old is capable of asserting the ultimate depth of life in contrast
to the new; that the world of inner spiritual experience which it
discloses may finally show itself superior to every assault. But, in any
case, the new contains a wealth of fact not only in individual results
but in the whole of its being; through its emergence it has transformed
the whole condition of things; it is impossible to decry it as a mere
apostasy and to appeal to the consciences of individuals. It may be that
spiritual power here stands against spiritual power in a titanic
struggle for the soul of man: victory must fall to the power which
penetrates to the primary depths of life and is capable of taking
possession of what is true in the others. But if in this the older view
of life is inwardly superior, it can develop such superiority only by
its own complete renewal and energetic inward elevation, through the
most fundamental settlement with everything antagonistic in an
all-comprehensive whole of life. Yet how deeply the age is still
involved in its search! How far it is from the conclusion! For the
present, as far as the life of culture is concerned, Religion has fallen
into complete uncertainty; its chief support and realm lie not within
but outside of that life. It is this which makes all affirmation of
Religion weak and all negation strong; it is this which threatens to
stamp, as something subjective and false, every conception of a
"supernatural." Religion has become uncertain to us not merely in single
doctrines and tendencies, but in the whole of its being, in its
fundamental contention as to the nature of life; and what it offers in
the traditional form in which it has come to us no longer satisfies a
life which has been aroused to greater breadth and freedom.


By the side of the religious system of life, for thousands of years, now
as supplementary, now as contradictory, there has been another which may
be designated as Immanent Idealism. The latter system is not so fixed
and overawing a structure as the former, but with a quieter force it
penetrates the whole of life. It is not of a simple nature, but is found
in many different forms; still, there exists so much in common in these
that they clearly exhibit and emphasise one common tendency. Like the
religious system, this Idealism also places life primarily in a world of
thought, from which it organises sense experience; it is distinguished
from the former system, however, in that it never separates the two
worlds one from the other, but conceives them as related elements or
aspects of a single whole. They are related to one another as appearance
and reality, as cause and effect, as animating and animated nature
(_natura naturans_ and _naturata_). The divine is not so much a power
transcending the world as one permeating it and living in it; not
something specific outside of things, but their connection in a living
unity; it does not make demands and present us with problems so much as
give to the world its truth and depth. Thus, reality appears as an
inwardly co-ordinated whole: the individual finds his genuine being only
as a part of this whole. And so, here, the fundamental relation of life
is that to the invisible whole of reality; with the development of this
relation, that which seems lifeless becomes animated; the elements which
seem isolated are brought together; and the world discloses an infinite
content and gives it to man for a joyous possession.

But it would be impossible for man to accomplish the transition from
appearance to reality, if he were not rooted in the fundamental
permanencies and if, in the comprehending of the world, he did not find
his own being. If this is the case, however, and if, through courageous
turning from the superficiality to which he in the first place belongs,
he is able to set himself in the depth of reality, then a magnificent
life with the widest prospects opens out before him. For, now, he may
win the whole of infinity for his own and set himself free from the
triviality of the merely human without losing himself in an alien world;
he may direct the movement of life to a positive gain, since he guides
it from within and from the whole. This life will find its centre in the
activities which bring man into relation with the whole and broaden him
from within to the whole; thus, in science and art spiritual creation
becomes the chief concern; its forceful development allows us to hope
for an ennobling of the whole of existence. With this creative activity
as centre, the rest is regarded as its environment, its means, its
presupposition; but there remain a clear distinction and gradation
between that which a creative life evolves immediately, and that which
forms a mere condition for this and may never become an aim in itself.
Thus, the beautiful is separated sharply from the merely useful; the
inner life from all preservation of physical existence; a genuine
spiritual culture, as the revelation of the depth of things, from all
perfecting of natural and social conditions, from mere civilisation.
Here life finds an aim and a task in itself; they are not presented to
it from a transcendent world; but it can evolve a morality in the sense
of taking up the whole into one's own volition, the subjection of
caprice to the necessity of things.

A life thus full of content and joyous activity arose when Greek culture
was at its height, and exercised its influence through the course of the
centuries; Christianity also soon laid aside its original suspicion
against this life and joined it to itself. This life, however, first
attained complete independence and self-consciousness in modern culture
so far as this culture followed the way of Idealism. It is felt to be
superior to Religion and hopes to be able to shape the world of man more
satisfactorily than Religion can. In this system formulated conceptions
and perplexing doctrines of the divine are not necessary, as they are in
Religion, because the divine is present immediately in the process of
life and surrounds man on all sides. Man's powers are not drawn in a
particular direction and nothing is discarded, but everything is to be
uniformly developed and unified in an all-inclusive harmony; natural
instincts are restrained and ennobled through their relations in a
larger whole. A power of organisation is displayed which reaches the
finest vein of the soul, throws the genuinely human into relief in
contrast with environment and tradition, and makes it the matter of
chief concern: with all this it deepens life in itself and finds
incalculable treasure in such depth. Everywhere there is powerful effort
and creative activity on the part of man, but at the same time the
consciousness of an invisible order; a joyful affirmation of life, but
at the same time a deliverance from unrestrained curiosity and coarse
enjoyment; a breadth and a freedom of life, and with this a clear
consciousness of the greatness but also of the limitations of man. Such
was the state of conviction in the classical period of German

This form of life has, with remarkable quickness, been relegated into
the distance; with all its external proximity it has become inwardly
more alien to us than the world of Religion. All this has come to pass,
however, not so much through direct conflict, which its free and
comprehensive nature could scarcely provoke, as through inner changes of
conditions and strivings, which have now thrust other facts into
prominence and driven men to other tasks. The transformation could
hardly have been effected so quickly and so fundamentally if this mode
of life did not involve fixed limits and problematic presuppositions
which we have now become fully conscious of for the first time.

It is the aristocratic nature of this Immanent Idealism which first
awakens suspicion and opposition. Spiritual creation, from which it
expects complete salvation, can take possession of and satisfy the whole
soul only where it breaks forth spontaneously with great and powerful
effect, where, with overwhelming power, it raises man above himself. An
incontrovertible experience shows us that this takes place only in rare
and exceptional cases; there must be a union of many forces before man
can rise to such a height and be swayed by the compulsion of this
creation. Now, it is true that the gain of such red-letter days carries
its effect into ordinary days and that from the heights light pours down
upon lower levels. But in such transmission there is a serious and
inevitable loss in power and purity; indeed, in veracity: that which
fills the life of those producing it and arouses it to its highest
passion easily becomes to the receiver a subsidiary matter, a pleasant
accompanying experience. Thus we see epochs of organisation follow upon
times of creation, but we see that such organisation sinks more and more
into a reflective and passive reproduction. Such organisation tends to
become mere imagination; the man imbued with the spirit of such
organisation easily seems to himself more than he is; with a false
self-consciousness talks and feels as though he were at a supreme
height; lives less his own life than an alien one. Sooner or later
opposition must necessarily arise against such a half-life, such a life
of pretence, and this opposition will become especially strong if it is
animated by the desire that all who bear human features should
participate in the chief goods of our existence and freely co-operate in
the highest tasks. It must be observed that this longing is one which,
at the present time, is found to be irresistible. And so the
aristocratic character of Immanent Idealism produces a type of life
rigidly exclusive, harsh and intolerable.

But not only does this type of life lack complete power and truthfulness
in regard to mankind as a whole; it is subject to similar limitations in
relation to the world and to things. All success in our relation to the
world and to things depends on the spiritual constituting the thing's
own depth, on things finding their genuine being in it, and where this
depth is reached, on the visible world uniting with it willingly, indeed
joyfully, and moulding itself solely and completely for spiritual
expression. Spirit and world must strive together in mutual trust and
each must finally be completely involved one in the other; reality must
build itself up, if not at one stroke, at any rate in ceaseless advance
as a kingdom of reason. A solution at once so simple and so easy bluntly
contradicts the experiences of the last century. Both without and within
the soul of man an infinite concreteness makes itself evident, which
withstands all derivation from general principles, all insertion into a
comprehensive scheme, obstinately asserts its particularity, forms its
own complexes, and follows its own course. The realistic mode of thought
of the Modern Age has brought this aspect of reality to full
recognition. If the spiritual life cannot take complete possession of
things, if a realm of facts continues to exist over against it, it may
be doubted whether the spiritual is of the ultimate being of the world
and reveals the reality of things, or whether it merely comes to them
from without and only touches their surface. In the latter case external
limitation becomes the cause of an inward convulsion. This is a fact
which we find corroborated when we come to reflect that Immanent
Idealism treats the spiritual life in man much too hastily and boldly as
absolute spiritual life; that it attributes to human capacity, without
further consideration, that which belongs to spiritual life in general.
The experiences of modern life place the particularity and insignificant
of man more and more before our eyes; they enable us to see with what
difficulty and how slowly any kind of spiritual life whatever has
emerged in the human sphere, and with what toil it maintains itself
there; they insist that, if the spiritual life is not to sink down to a
mere appearance to man, a sharp distinction must be made between the
substance of the spiritual life and the form of its existence in man; in
every sphere modern life puts questions which lead beyond the position
of Immanent Idealism. Immanent Idealism seems to treat the problem of
life much too summarily and not to penetrate sufficiently to ultimate

The conflict between Immanent Idealism and modern life is still more
keen in regard to the problem whether reality is rational. It is
essential to this Idealism to affirm this rationality; it need not
conceive it as present in a complete state, but it must be sure of an
advance to it; the movement of reality, with its antitheses and
conflicts, must pass in elements of reason. Immanent Idealism tolerates
no inner division of the spiritual life; wherever spiritual movement
emerges, there can be no doubt concerning the aim; the development of
power must bring the right disposition with it; every limitation can
come only from weakness or misunderstanding; there can be no radical
evil. With an optimism of this kind the leading minds of German
classical literature are imbued; but how much, in the midst of all the
progress of civilisation, in the nineteenth century the appearance of
the world has been darkened! We see now with complete clearness the
indifference of the forces of nature towards the aims of the spirit; we
see the incessant crossing of the work of reason by blind necessity; we
see the spiritual life divided against itself, eminent spiritual powers
drawn into the service of lower interests, and carried away by
unrestrained passion. In a time of extraordinary increase of technical
and social culture, we see the spiritual life win scarcely anything, in
fact, seriously recede; we see it become perplexed concerning its main
direction, and oscillate in uncertainty between different possibilities.
We experience in every sphere a violent convulsion of the spirit. How
can Immanent Idealism satisfy us under such circumstances; how can it
assure to our life a firm basis?

Indeed, we may now doubt whether Immanent Idealism signifies a type of
life at all; whether it is not simply a compromise between a religious
shaping of life and a life turned towards sense experience; a _via
media_, which as merely transitional is only able to maintain itself for
a time. The historical experience of the Modern Age seems to show that
the latter hypothesis is the true one. At the beginning of the epoch
Religion stood in secure supremacy and the divine acted on man from a
sovereignty that was supreme over the world. Then the divine came ever
closer to the world that it might spread itself over it and permeate it,
till finally there was no longer any separation, and God and world
blended together in a single whole. At first this seemed a pure and a
great gain: the divine put off all rigid sovereignty and spoke to us
immediately out of the whole extent of life; the world was related,
through the power of the divine, to an inner whole and, illuminated by
it, received a transfigured appearance. And yet this solution was only
apparent; it contained an inner contradiction, which ultimately was
bound to break forth with a power of destruction. The divine had
developed its power and its depth in opposition to the world; will it
retain that power and that depth if the opposition ceases; will not the
renunciation of supremacy, the fusion with things, rob it of all
distinctive content? As a matter of fact, with this increase in
proximity and extension, the divine fades and dissolves more and more;
ever less power proceeds from it: and so the world is ever less
transformed and elevated by it; its transfiguring light is dissipated
and its inner relations are broken. From being a life-penetrating power
Pantheism becomes more and more a vague disposition; indeed, an empty
phrase. The living whole, which in the beginning raised things to
itself, has finally become a mere abstraction which cannot hold its
ground before vigorous thought. Thus, with an immanent dialectic, such
as historical life often enough shows, the movement, since it strove for
breadth, has been destroyed in its life-giving root; it has abandoned
the basis from which it derived its truth and power. Immanent Idealism
shows itself to be one great contradiction; a fascinating illusion,
which, instead of reality, presents us with mere appearance.

Of course, Immanent Idealism is not finally refuted by such doubts and
difficulties; it puts forward demands which need to be satisfied in
some way; it contains truths which in some manner must be acknowledged.
What would become of human life if it should abandon its striving
forwards to the whole; its spiritual penetration of the world; its
advance in greatness and breadth; its joyous and vigorous nature; the
excellence of its disposition? But the indispensable truth that is
involved in Immanent Idealism must be brought into wider relations, and
thus made clear and modified, so that it may be more secure and more
fruitful in its effect. Meanwhile, we see that here also we are in
complete uncertainty; that which was intended to give a firm support,
and to point out a clear course to our life, has itself become a
difficult problem.


No attack from without and no relaxation from within could have brought
the older systems of life into the state of chaos which we actually find
them to be in, if the experience of sense had not become far more to man
and had not given him far more to do than in earlier times. Hitherto
genuine spiritual life seemed to be able to unfold itself only in
energetic detachment from the world of sense; it reduced this world to a
subordinate sphere which received its position and value only from a
transcendent order; thus, all tarrying with the things of sense seemed
to be a sign of a lower disposition, a falling from the heights of human

This view has been radically altered by the course of the Modern Age.
When the invisible world became uncertain to man and the life directed
towards it shadowy, an intense thirst for reality, for a life out of the
abundance and truth of things, arose, and only the visible world seemed
to promise satisfaction. This world had been seen previously in a
particular light which is now felt to be artificial and distorting; if
this light fails and the world can unfold itself unaffected, it shows a
far richer content, far firmer relations, far greater tasks. All this is
more especially because the world no longer appears to be something
finished, but as still in process and as capable of a thorough-going
elevation; because great possibilities which human power is able to
awaken still lie dormant in it. In diverse directions sense experience
advances far beyond the older form; Natural Science analyses the visible
world into its single components and makes it penetrable to our thought,
and at the same time technical skill wins power over its forces. In the
political and social sphere men find new tasks not only in regard to
isolated questions, but throughout the whole of its organisation, and
great hopes of an essential elevation of life are raised. The individual
also appears more powerful and richer, in that the decay of traditional
ties gives him complete freedom for his development. Even if, in the
struggle for the control of life, these movements in many ways fall into
contradiction one with another, still, in the first place they unite in
advancing the world of sense in man's estimation, in fixing his love and
his work there, and in also making men more and more disinclined to
consider the life-systems rooted in the invisible. Sense experience
presents itself ever more decidedly as something which can tolerate
neither partner nor rival; the life directed towards it loses more and
more the nature of being an opponent, which it hitherto had, and it
undertakes to shape our whole existence characteristically in positive
achievement and also to satisfy the spiritual needs of man completely.
All this signifies an entire reversal of the order of life; for, since
the world which formerly had seemed secondary now becomes predominant,
indeed exclusive, all standards and values are changed, and the old
possession appears also as a new gain. It is true that the new mode of
thought misses the advantages which a long tradition gave to the old:
but in place of this, it has the charm of searching and finding for
itself, the joy of first discovery and successful exertion; here an
infinite horizon is disclosed; before the research and effort of man
lies an open way. Endeavour derives particular power and confidence
from the conviction that the new is nothing else than the old and
genuine, but hitherto misunderstood, nature: it is a return of life to
itself, to its plain and pure truth, which permits us to expect a new
world epoch. And so mankind, exalted in mind and with cheerful courage,
enters upon the course which promises so much.


The movement towards giving sole attention to the world of sense cannot
make sure progress without a more definite decision concerning the main
agents and the main direction of work. Different possibilities here
offer themselves; three, however, in particular. In reality, these have
all evolved, sometimes blending together and strengthening one another,
at other times crossing and hindering one another.

None of these movements has displayed more energy and exercised more
power than that which makes the sense experience of surrounding nature
its basis, and strives to include man's entire being within this
experience. This is Naturalism, which, starting out from the mechanical
conception of nature, which has been developed in the Modern Age,
applies the ideas thus obtained to everything, and subordinates even the
life of the soul to them. The movement originated at the dawn of the
seventeenth century, when an independence and autonomy of nature began
to be acknowledged. Nature had been covered with a veil of explanation,
mainly æsthetic or religious in character, which gave it a colour
corresponding to the prevailing disposition, but at the same time
excluded the possibility of a scientific comprehension. A comprehension
of this kind could only be attained by getting rid of all subjective
addition which had been made by man, and by investigating nature purely
by itself. Since Descartes and Galileo that has been accomplished, and
nature now appears as an immense web of single threads, as a complex of
fundamentally mobile, but soulless, elements, whose movements take
simple basal forms, while the combination of these elements produces all
constructions, even the most complicated. This mighty machinery never
points beyond, and as it runs its course solely within itself, so it
requires to be understood solely from itself. Everything spiritual is
thus eliminated; this realm of fact has no implication of aims, or of a
meaning of events.

This new scientific conception of nature had first, with much toil and
difficulty, to wrestle with the traditional, naïvely human,
representation; this was chiefly a matter of reducing first appearances
to their simple elements, and of constructing the world anew from these.
By this process, nature at the same time became accessible to the
operation of man. For, the technical control of nature presupposes the
analytic character of research; only such a research, with its discovery
of the single elements and tendencies, places man in a relation of
activity towards nature; while in earlier times only an attitude of
contemplation had been granted to him. Natural Science thus created a
new type of life, a life energetic, masculine, pressing forward

This life, like science itself, in the first place forms a special part
of a wider whole. As the expulsion of the soul from nature at first
brought about a strengthening of the soul in itself, nature was the less
immediately able to govern the whole. The individual of modern times
strengthened and asserted himself against nature, and insisted upon a
realm of independent inwardness. The contest was a severe one; yet the
more nature was seen to extend, on the one hand, to the infinitely
great, and, on the other, to the infinitely small, the more fixed
relations it showed, so much the more overwhelmingly did it draw man to
itself, the more did its conception tend to include the inner aspects of
the soul also. The final blow in the struggle was given by the modern
theory of descent, since this theory asserts man to be the product
solely of natural forces, and maintains that everything which man
ascribes to himself as characteristic and distinctive is derived from a
gradual development of natural factors. And so nature is exalted as an
all-comprehensive world--nature, that is, as represented in the modern
mechanistic theory, which is thus transformed into a final theory of the
world, a naturalistic metaphysic. The human and spiritual world, which
hitherto had been felt to be an independent realm in contrast with
nature, appears henceforth as its mere continuation, as something which
fits completely into a wider conception of nature.

A conviction of this kind must fundamentally alter the position of the
spiritual life, as well as its magnitudes and values: and this
conviction is no mere theory, but desires and strives to take possession
of the whole of existence and to change its form completely. Indeed, a
particular naturalistic type of life arises and wins a powerful
influence over the thought and activity of the time.

Naturalism denies all independence of the spiritual life, which it
regards as nothing more than an adjunct to the realm of nature, and one
that can only exist along with sense existence, as a part of or as a
supplement to it. Spirituality has, therefore, to subordinate itself and
conform entirely to the life of nature; it can never produce and guide a
movement from itself, never evolve a basal and comprehensive activity,
never withdraw itself into its own sphere as into an independent realm.
All self-existent spirituality fades to a world of mere shadows;
whatever makes itself felt in us can only become a complete reality by
winning flesh and blood through the appropriation of physical forces.
Life, thus understood, possesses nothing in itself; it receives
everything from its relations to the environment with which it is bound
up: thought brings forth no new ideas; all ideas are merely
abbreviations of sense impressions. Effort can never realise purely
spiritual values; the essence of all happiness is sensuous enjoyment,
however refined that may in some cases be. The naturalistic system of
life receives a more definite delineation from the representation of
nature, which the mechanical theory, together with a theory of descent
adapted to it, sketches and impressively holds up to the present age. By
this theory nature is completely resolved into a co-existence of
individual forces, which, within the narrow bounds of existence, must
clash violently together, and assert themselves one against the other in
ceaseless conflict. This conflict, however, is a source of progressive
movement, in that it brings together, establishes, and employs
everything useful for self-preservation; it keeps life in a state of
youthful freshness, in that new conditions continually arise and demand
new accommodations with respect to the biologico-economic environment. A
biologico-economic mode of thought is evolved which revolutionises all
previous estimations of values. Everything intrinsically valuable
disappears from the world; its expulsion seems a deliverance from a
confused, indeed a meaningless, conception of things; the useful, that
which promotes the interests of living beings, each after its kind, in
the struggle for existence, becomes the all-dominating value. No
mysterious being of things is apprehended in the True; but those
presentations and systems of thought are called true which ensure that
the best accommodation to the conditions of life shall be attained, and
which just in this way hold the individuals together. No longer does a
Good speak to man with austere demand from a transcendent sovereignty;
but that is good which, within our experience, is of service to the
preservation of life. The Beautiful, also, is subordinated to the
useful, and it is solely by its value in relation to this that it
asserts itself. In everything, it is only one's own welfare, the
interest of individual preservation, that directly inspires conduct; but
real life shows man in so many relations, so closely implicated with his
environment, that he can strive for nothing for himself without also
striving for others. This extension of interests has no limits; there is
nothing in the whole of infinity which could not in this way become to
man, indirectly, a means of self-preservation and thus an object of

The naturalistic type of life extends from the most general of impulses
to every branch of activity, and forms every department of life in a
distinctive fashion. Knowledge depends entirely upon experience; every
speculative element must be excluded as a subjective delusion; in all
its branches knowledge is nothing else than a broadened Natural Science.
Art may not pursue imaginary ideals; it finds its single task in the
faithful and simple reproduction of the natural environment. Social life
and endeavour will develop, above all, natural powers, and will seek to
adapt itself to the conditions given by nature, and, rejecting all aims
based upon mere imagination, it will care chiefly for the physical
welfare of the whole, as the source of all power and of all success.

It is not difficult to understand how this form of life was able to win
and carry away the minds of its contemporaries. In the first place it
has the character of simplicity and immediacy, which, in contrast with
the complexity and the remoteness of the traditional position, appears a
great advantage. For, in this scheme, life, with all its multiplicity,
is dominated and unified by the idea of natural self-preservation; and
the things which immediately affect us, which lie physically and
psychically near to us, come most directly into relation to this aim. It
is a further tendency of this scheme of life to bring the whole of
existence into a state of activity and restless advance. For the state
of conflict which prevails under the naturalistic system allows nothing
to persist merely because of its present existence or through the weight
of tradition, but everything must always be reasserting its right to
existence; it must stretch and extend itself in order to be useful in
the life of the present. That which cannot satisfy this test is
unmercifully thrown over as a dead weight. It is also of great
importance to the theory in question that nature and the world are
involved in ceaseless change, and that, along with the conditions of
life, the requirements also alter: the matter is one of continually
accommodating oneself anew; and so life is placed entirely in the
present, and the fixity of an absolute conception and treatment of
change yields to the instability of a relative one. Last of all, and
most especially, life according to its own conviction bears the
character of truth. For human striving appears to attain the firm basis
of reality, and to become truthful in itself only when it is definitely
related to the surrounding world; while, so long as it trusted to the
capacity of the subject--which fondly imagined itself independent--it
fell into unspeakable error. Only when delivered from subjectivity, only
when fixed within the web of the whole of nature, does life seem to
awaken out of a dream, and to become fully real, a genuine, securely
grounded life.

The energy of negation which this theory employs and with which it
drives out everything which has become old adds strength to the elements
of assertion and positive achievement in these changes. In this theory
there is nothing indefinite which could soften the opposition, nothing
mediatory which could overcome it, but, distinctly and harshly,
affirmation and negation stand face to face and call for a plain
decision between them. Whatever remains in doubt and under suspicion is
forced into the background, indeed eliminated altogether, through the
victorious onward march of modern Natural Science and the increasing
triumphs of technical skill, which seem to demonstrate, immediately, the
truth of the naturalistic type of life. Thus, this movement spreads in a
mighty flood through humanity, and seizes with a particular power the
classes which are struggling upward, and which meet science and culture
with a faith yet undisturbed. In matters temporal there is hardly
anything which seems able to withstand such an attack.

Nevertheless, that which gains the support of many contemporaries is not
thereby proved to be the supreme power and the final truth. In that
movement there may be far more, and something far more important than it
itself admits. It may be that it achieves that which it does achieve
only with the help of elements of another kind; perhaps, indeed, it is
able to maintain its truth only in so far as it enters into broader
relations in a wider whole and thereby changes its meaning essentially.
Whether such is the case can be ascertained not by reference to
subjective opinion, but by an examination of the life of humanity.

Now, the first movement of opposition is produced in just that sphere
which seemed Naturalism's strongest bulwark, that is, Natural Science,
the Natural Science based on mathematics and physics. Only the most
fleeting survey can lead to the confusion of Natural Science with
Naturalism; in reality, the naturalistic thinker cannot with justice
acknowledge any exact Natural Science, and a natural scientist cannot be
naturalistic in thought in consequence of his science, but only in spite
of it. For, Natural Science is anything but a mere copy of the sense
impressions which we experience; its origin and progress are due to the
fact that thought fundamentally acts upon and transforms those
impressions. If our intellect were no more than Naturalism can logically
make it out to be, it could, at most, only refine the animal
presentations a little; it never could have advanced beyond the single
presentations to a representative conception of the world as a whole.
Such an advance can be achieved only by thought raising itself above the
stream of appearances and placing itself over against it; but how could
a mere bundle of perceptions, to which Naturalism reduces the intellect,
achieve this? Incomparably more unity of being and freedom of operation
are necessary for this achievement than such a bundle could produce.

In earlier times, no doubt, man went very much astray in the
interpretation of his environment; he transferred his immediate feelings
into it; he coloured the whole world in human colours, and associated
with its realities as with beings of the same nature as himself. But
even the error shows a seeking and an interpretation; the simple putting
of the question proclaims a being becoming superior to mere nature. The
most important thing, however, is that man has not regarded the matter
as finally settled with this anthropomorphism; he has come to regard it
as inadequate and has pressed forward to a new way of thinking. What
could drive him to that change but a desire for truth, and how is such a
conception as _truth_ attainable from nature? And if thought has
succeeded in breaking through the misty veil of anthropomorphism and
seeks things in their own relations; if an objective consciousness of
the world has emerged, a consciousness which is as different from the
immediacy of sense impressions as the sky is distant from the earth, has
not man also grown in himself beyond mere sense impression; is it not a
work of thought which supports and governs the whole construction, and
differentiates genuine nature from appearance? How much power of
comprehension and of relating together is exhibited even by Natural
Science, in that it analyses the sense presentation of the environment
into its single elements, ascertains the laws of these, and traces the
movement from the simplest beginnings right up to its present stage of
development. All activity of thought is thus subject to a certain
reproach in that it must continually bring itself into relation to
perception: nevertheless it will interweave all that is imparted to it
by perception into a framework of thought--transform it, in fact, into a
realm of thought. Spirituality is bound; but how dull an individual must
be to confuse such a bound spirituality with mere sensuousness!

The error of Naturalism is obvious; concerned solely with the object and
its form, it entirely leaves out of account the psychical activity which
is involved in the perception of an object; it overlooks the
life-process within which alone we can have knowledge of an object and
occupy ourselves with it. As soon, however, as we regard the object from
this point of view, it will be transformed and will assume far more
spiritual traits. Reality will then burst asunder the framework into
which Naturalism desires to press it.

The type of life which Naturalism gives rise to also contains more than
Naturalism is able to explain. At first sight it seems as though man is
taken up completely into a wider conception of nature; as though his
life obeys its forces and impulses exclusively; as though all his
asserted superiority to nature is simply imaginary. As a matter of fact,
in this turning to nature, man, with his spiritual activity, stands not
within, but above, nature. For he does not appear as a mere piece of
nature, but experiences it and thinks over it: its kingdom, its
organisation, its stability become to him a joyful possession and a
widening of his being. The spiritual life has developed in relation to
nature; nature has not welded it together. The same may be said of the
idea of the increase of power, which constitutes the main gain of life
in the naturalistic system. For, in the naturalistic type of life power
is not directed towards externals, as in nature, but is experienced and
enjoyed, and only thus does it constitute a source of happiness; yet how
could it be that, without an organisation of life in an inner unity
which transcends individual occurrences? Thus, the intellectual and the
technical control of nature which the Modern Age has acquired attracts
men and prevails over them chiefly as a growth of life, as an increase
of self-reliance. Even material goods, wealth and property, do not
determine the endeavour of the man of culture so much through sensuous
enjoyment, the limit of which is soon reached, as through their
possibilities as means to activity and creation, to the advancement of
human capacity. It is this in particular which has filled the material
civilisation of the present with the spirit of restlessness and
extravagance, and gives it its demoniacal power over men. It is this
relation alone which explains and justifies the present estimate of
material goods, so much higher as that is in modern culture than it was
in the older systems of thought, which branded as unworthy all endeavour
directed to the acquirement of such things.

In short, even Naturalism in no way eliminates the subject with its
inwardness; rather in its own development it everywhere presupposes the
subject. It does not shape life out of mere and pure nature, but out of
a close union of a transcendent spiritual life with nature, and out of
an energetic insistence upon elements of nature within the soul.
However, man experiences not so much the things themselves as himself
in the things; the relating together, the surveying, the experiencing of
the whole is always a spiritual performance. This performance makes
something different out of nature, just as the naturalistic culture that
is striven for is different from the state of nature that is found at
the beginning. The misconception of the relation of nature to the mind;
the postulation of nature without mind, in place of nature with mind,
makes Naturalism self-contradictory and untenable. Naturalism therefore
struggles vainly against the following dilemma: if it is really in
earnest in the elimination of spiritual realities, it must inevitably
destroy its own fundamental basis and, as a system of life, must break
down; while if it in any way acknowledges a transcendence of nature, and
a transcendence just in that which is fundamental to it, then it is
necessarily driven beyond itself.

But such contradiction in the basal position must be present through the
whole development of Naturalism and must make all its factors variating
in colour and double in meaning, since at one and the same time they
involve the spiritual element and reject it, eliminate it and bring it
into the foreground, the former openly and explicitly, the latter
concealedly and implicitly. Such is the case, in particular, with the
fundamental conception of the _struggle for existence_. In the context
of Naturalism, this conception can signify nothing else than the
preservation of natural existence, of mere life; such a conception,
however, is as incapable of comprehending the whole wealth of the work
of civilisation and culture as it is of developing within itself. If the
preservation of existence in this sense were really the highest aim,
then, all the work of humanity, incalculable and great as it is, all the
toil and creative activity of history, would be without result; in no
way would it lead beyond the starting-point; we should, of course, have
life, but nothing along with and in life. Indeed, the movement would be
a continual retrogression, for the experience of the present shows us
clearly enough that the conflict of life becomes ever more difficult,
toilsome, and embittered. If all this toil does not yield more than was
possessed in the original condition, that is, physical existence, then
this implies that we have to make an ever greater detour to establish
that which formerly devolved upon us immediately. In such a case our
life would be a continual sinking, a toil continually increasing in
difficulty, in order that we might simply be something, without being
anything in particular. Or, will anyone assert that there is no
retrogression when the achievement of the same aim costs ever more
effort, ever more labour and turmoil of spirit?

The fact is that Naturalism also gives to life, which is seen to be thus
immersed in conflict, some kind of content, which it conceives as
increasing continually in the course of the movement, and as attaining
for us through the conflict an ever richer and more comprehensive
existence. But how can a conception such as that of the _content of
life_ originate in mere nature? How can it be even conceived unless life
possesses some consciousness of itself, unless there is a transformation
of what is external into something internal--a thing which nature can
never accomplish?

With the conception of the _struggle for existence_, the useful becomes
the preponderant power of life; it attempts a transvaluation of all
values, since it lays stress rather on the relation of things to us than
on their own nature. The conception won acceptance from and power over
the minds of men because it was a complete change from the generally
accepted explanation, and at the same time seemed to simplify matters
greatly. Unfortunately, on further consideration this transformation
proves to be a complete reversal of the general scheme of life, indeed a
destruction of it. Man, it is true, does not preserve his physical
existence without toil; he must continually win it anew, and nothing can
occupy him which does not acquire some relation to this necessity and
make itself consistent with it. But the further question arises, whether
anxiety for the useful is also able to crush out that which is
distinctive and characteristic in the world of humanity. If we
recognise the limits of the endeavour after the useful, we shall soon
become doubtful concerning its claim to be the sole aim of conduct. That
endeavour is spent solely on the welfare of the individual; it can never
free itself from reference to the individual, and never, beyond that
perceived, can it take up anything as an aim in itself. Interest is
centred solely upon the external products of the activity of men and of
the process of nature, and not at all upon what men and nature are in
themselves. We find here nothing but isolated spheres of existence which
are devoid alike of inner relation to themselves and to one another.

Now, Naturalism can appeal in its own defence to the fact that real life
shows its individual departments to have thousands of inter-relationships,
so that the welfare of the individual is inseparably bound up with that of
his environment, his family, his home, his state; and that therefore, in
order to prosper himself, his endeavour must be for the good of these
also. It may even serve his own interest to give up a direct advantage in
favour of a greater indirect one. Further, Naturalism is able to assert
that, however little the inner disposition of others may affect us
directly, this disposition can acquire a value for us in so far as its
persistence alone assures to us a continuance of achievement. As
considerations of this kind may be extended without limit, there is
nothing in the whole breadth of existence which the utilitarian view of
life need reject.

But, in the midst of all this extension in breadth, this development of
life retains a fixed limitation in its inner nature, which cannot be
transcended: we can never strive for the alien, the other, the whole,
for its own sake, but only as a means for our own welfare; everything
inward becomes a matter of indifference if, sooner or later, it is not
transformed into an external result. Human life, however, through its
own development has grown beyond this limitation; if not in the breadth
of existence, yet in its inner nature and at its highest, it manifests
something significantly more. Man is capable of a love which values
another, not because it hopes for this or that which is useful from
him, but because with the whole of his existence he is valuable to it.
Man is capable of a love which can lead him to the willing
subordination, indeed the joyful sacrifice, of his own existence; of a
love in which the first self dies and a new self is born. "Love is the
greatest of all contradictions, and one which the understanding cannot
solve, since there is nothing more impenetrable than this individuality
of self-consciousness, which is negated, and which yet I should retain
as positive" (Hegel). Into what a state of poverty humanity would fall
if a genuine love of this kind were struck out of the number of its
possessions! But can Naturalism in any way understand and estimate such
an inner expansion of the heart, such a _Stirbe und Werde_ [a dying to
live], to use the words of Goethe?

A deliverance of life from the mere _ego_ is effected in another
direction in work. Of course, work also stands in close relation to the
preservation of life; it must demonstrate itself to be in some way
useful. But work would never fill the soul and attain to anything great
if it did not also become an aim in itself; if it were not carried on in
complete submission to the object and according to its requirements. How
low all educational endeavour, personal guardianship, all work for
humanity would sink; how humanity would lack all self-forgetting
devotion to it, all bold pressing forward; and how unintelligible the
joy in a life's vocation would be, if the idea of utility solely and
entirely determined conduct, if the chief concern were always how the
work paid! Should we not sink, in such a case, into a slavery which
would enthral man far more oppressively than any command which a tyrant
could be capable of?

It is true that on the average level of existence much is turned to the
service of the merely useful which was produced from love and work, and
this reversal of spiritual goods may be the first thing which comes
definitely under our notice. In order, however, even to be so applied
and reversed, they must originally have been generated in some manner,
and this original generation can never proceed from the useful, but only
out of the inner force and compulsion of the object, as, for example, in
the case of the great transitions of thought, of artistic creation, and
of religious conviction. And, as these have proceeded from inner
movements, so they have also brought about powerful inner changes. They
have not altered this or that in a given world in order to make it more
comfortable to man, but with an energetic revolution have transformed
our world from its very foundations, and have constructed a new world in
contrast to that which immediately surrounds us. How much or how little
individual men, or indeed even mankind as a whole, have appropriated of
this; how far man has corresponded and still corresponds to the
necessities of his own nature, is a matter and a question in itself: in
the spiritual life of humanity the new magnitudes are extant, and they
operate here as norms for testing all achievement. At the same time,
they show that our life and our nature are of a kind different from what
Naturalism represents them to be. However much Naturalism may boast that
it is possible for even the highest to be drawn into the service of the
merely human, with all its boasting it has not explained the origin of
the highest: can a thing proceed from its own shadow? The naturalistic
attempt to trace everything back to the useful really reverses the
condition of affairs and results in inner destruction wherever
disposition stands first. For conduct changes its character completely
according as it is regarded as a mere means, or as an end in itself;
according as its aim is striven for directly or only indirectly. Do such
things as love, fidelity, honour deserve these names if the thought of
selfish advantage is their motive power? It lies in the nature of
certain things that they must be treated as ends in themselves and as
matters of primary concern: to degrade them to a subsidiary position is
in their case only a finer kind of destruction; to be opposed to utility
is an attribute inseparable from their very being. Where disposition is
valued only as a pre-condition of achievement, as in Naturalism, at the
highest only a tolerable appearance, a substitute for a genuine
disposition, can be reached in the whole moral sphere. Naturalism
affords us an example of such a substitution when it sets up an
altruistic action, that is, an action which produces something useful to
another, in place of an inner expansion of life, which takes the other
up inwardly into our own volition and being, and which alone leads
beyond egoism. Naturalism is able to overlook all this; is able to make
what is the secondary view of things the primary one; the derived, the
original; is able to put the relation to human perception in place of
the thing itself, only because its interest is so completely occupied
with external relations that it does not independently evaluate the
inner; and again, because a reflection that appeals to the understanding
hinders all immediate relation and spontaneous appropriation. Otherwise,
it also would feel how deep, how intolerable, a degradation of man
ensues if his innermost experience, his striving after truth, his
wrestling for unity within himself, his love, and his suffering are made
a mere means to physical self-preservation, and are thus regarded from
the point of view of utility.

If we glance over the life of universal history, we see that a history
of a distinctively human character extricates itself from the machinery
of nature only through man's acquiring an independence over against his
environment, evolving a life conscious of itself and from it exerting a
transforming power upon all presented to it. Only thus does a
civilisation grow up in contrast with the mere state of nature. In
civilisation and culture man enters into conflict with the infinity of
the external world, but he cannot carry on this conflict victoriously
without setting an inner infinity in opposition to that external one. In
the struggle between these two worlds the life of man is transformed no
less than the appearance of reality. More and more the visible world
becomes an expression of an invisible one; more and more life draws the
world into itself and finds the chief problems in its own sphere. Thus
life becomes raised above simple physical preservation; that which
serves in this preservation is regarded as a condition only and as
something preliminary.

Among the peoples situated nearest to us, this tendency has taken
different forms; but the separation of creative spiritual activity from
all mere utility is common to all. Thus, Greek culture gave birth to a
life resting in its own movement, a life satisfied in itself. In the
sharpest manner it marked off the beautiful, that which could produce
pleasure immediately and of itself, from the merely useful, everything
which served something else. It lauded the life filled with the
perception and appreciation of the beautiful as the only free life, and
pronounced every other way of life to be servile. Further, if in
Christianity, in the comprehensiveness of its relations, the care for
the welfare of the narrowly human takes up a great amount of attention,
and a utilitarianism of a religious kind is evolved, the height of its
creation and disposition is not affected: in it the winning of a new
life superior to all selfishness, the becoming one with the divine, is
the one end in itself. If Clement of Alexandria could say that, if it
was a matter of choosing between the knowledge of God and eternal bliss,
he would have, without hesitation, to renounce the latter, or if Thomas
à Kempis said, "I would rather be poor for Thy sake than rich without
Thee. I choose rather to be a pilgrim with Thee on the earth, than
without Thee to possess heaven. For where Thou art, there is heaven; but
where Thou art not, there is death and hell"--then these are not merely
the lofty sayings of individuals, but a faithful expression of that
which gave to the whole system its world-penetrating and world-reviving

The Modern Age, too, which has conceded so much to utilitarian striving,
is in the innermost essence of its effort far removed from the spirit of
mere utility. For, from the two poles of its life, from the subject as
from the object, it breaks through all that is simply "given" and forms
a new, self-existent world. In modern times the subject frees itself
from the environment, places itself proudly over against it, and finds
its securest experience in the self-certainty of its own life. At the
same time it in no way renounces the surrounding world; but through the
activity of thought it reconstructs that world, and in this
conceptualises and idealises all its magnitudes. The more the subject
becomes assured of seeing all things spiritually and scientifically by
means of its own organisation, the more true is it that all sense
experience is sustained and modified by spiritual power. Natural
self-preservation cannot possibly satisfy the striving of the subject.
For this striving can never be reduced to a mere means, but finds its
power, as its joy, in becoming a world in itself; in the proud
maintenance and establishment of its own nature in face of every
opposition; in the impression of its particularity upon the infinity of
things. On the other hand, over against the circumstantiality of man,
great systems of thought are formed; evolve a characteristic content and
independent powers; and, as forces in the life of universal history,
press forward their consequences with inevitable necessity. These
systems seek to bring reality under their sway, and do not manifest the
least concern with regard to the continuance and the interests of man.
Science and art and the political and economical aspects of life afford
examples of what we mean. Accordingly, in the modern world and in the
modern man, two movements towards infinity clash together, and from
these there arise great commotion and violent unrest. Whatever may
remain enigmatical in this, the fact of the transformation of the first,
the sense experience of things, is beyond doubt. It is also beyond doubt
that man, regarded spiritually, does not find himself a member of a
given world, but must first seek and make clear his fundamental
relations to the world. From this position Naturalism, with its naïve
assertion of the finality and permanence of the sense impression,
appears to be an intolerable dogmatism.

Naturalism is seen to be far below the highest point of universal
historical development; it cannot appropriate the experiences and
results of that development; it consists of a confusion of naïve and
scientific modes of thought, which win the adherence of many
individuals, but which, through their contradictions, can never
guarantee to life genuine stability and a clear course. Only because it
evolves in the atmosphere of a world of another kind, and thereby
imperceptibly enhances its own conceptions, does it appear at all
plausible. Nevertheless, even so, it is a mischievous confusion of
thought which must act detrimentally upon conduct. Those especially will
be opposed to it who recognise in human life great tasks and severe
perplexities, and desire that the highest powers and clearest thought
shall be called forth for the accomplishment of those tasks and the
solution of those perplexities. But Naturalism, obscuring, as it does,
the inner problems of life; with its backwardness in the movement of
universal history; and with its attempt to take from human life all
proud and free self-consciousness, indeed all soul, can tend only to
reduce the energy of life.

The rejection of Naturalism by no means signifies failure to appreciate
the increased attention to nature, out of the wrong interpretation of
which Naturalism has proceeded. Not only has visible nature become more
to our knowledge; it has also become incomparably more to our life. The
fact that we feel ourselves conditioned by it, and have become more
closely associated with it, can be fully appreciated and must force us
to a radical revision of the traditional form of life. Such a revision,
however, can be successful in achieving its aim only if the new
experiences are systematised to form a consistent whole with the
remaining facts in a comprehensive, universal life; spiritual endeavour
is solely and alone capable of offering this universality and of
accomplishing this task.


The socialistic system of life is often closely bound up with the
naturalistic, and blends with it so well as almost to form a single
whole; indeed, there is so much affinity in their fundamental
principles that the one may appear to be the completion of the other.
But when we come to details, we find that a different character and a
different emotional life are yielded according as the relation to nature
or to human society governs life; especially as we are parts in an
infinite nature, or as we place our own province in the foreground and
seek a new form for it. On the one hand knowledge takes the lead, on the
other activity. While the former, according to its nature, is more
concerned with reaching a consistent whole, the latter feels the
contradictions of experience most intensely. With the one progress
appears to be a gradual accumulation, with the other it does not seem
possible to dispense with a radical change; while the former is broader
in its outlook, the latter has more warmth of enthusiasm. Through the
domination of thought and life by the problems of society, a distinctive
form of culture may therefore be expected.

In modern life different motives have led to a closer unity of men on
the basis of experience. Religion no longer accords to the individual
firm support as in earlier times, and with every advance of scientific
research nature is removed inwardly further from us; ceaseless criticism
and reflection tend to prevent us more and more from comprehending the
whole as a unity. Man, thus isolated in the whole, seems to himself to
be lost, unless he succeeds in discovering relations between himself and
others of the same nature as himself, and unless in co-operation with
them he helps to build up an independent realm of their own, which may
lend support and value to the life of the individual.

In the Modern Age social life has tended to this end under the influence
of fresh impressions and new prospects. Hitherto that life was under the
influence of an invisible world of thought, especially of one of a
religious kind. The union of men had particular presuppositions and was
realised in a particular manner; here, the more closely a certain group
held together, the more sharply was it separated from others; the
calling forth of power in one particular direction meant diverting it
from other tasks. A changed mode of thought was also able to take
exception to the view that the ties which bind men together came from a
transcendent order, which is now felt as an "other" world and is the
subject of doubt. At first, therefore, we are apt to think it a pure
gain if modern society no longer concerns itself with these invisible
bonds, and regards the union as arising solely and entirely out of the
immediate experience of life. For then there is nothing to hinder the
balanced development of all the relationships of men among themselves;
the social life serves no other end, but finds its task and happiness in
itself, and in its actuality is disturbed by no kind of doubt.

With this deliverance from all external constraint, a positive advance
of the life of society on the basis of the Modern Age is associated. A
life more free in conduct, and which through progress in the arts
ceaselessly expands, brings men nearer to one another, and forces them
into closer union; action and reaction accelerate each other. The
opinions and strivings of the masses are determined more easily and
exercise more influence; the whole and its influence upon the individual
become incomparably stronger. At the same time, the energetic attention
that men bestow upon the surrounding reality throws into bold relief
relations which have existed from the earliest times, but which hitherto
have not been prominent, and enables them to acquire a greater value for
life. Since the old appears in a new light, and the new arises, diverse
streams of social life are formed, and through their diversity operate
to the strengthening of the main tendency.

Modern Sociology shows the individual to be far more dependent upon the
social environment, upon general conditions, than we are wont to assume
from the first impression, which usually throws differences into relief
and overlooks common traits, generally fails to pay sufficient attention
to the growth of the individuals, and is too apt to take the positions
which they possess as essentially the result of their own work. In
contrast to this, the one thing which now has power to impress us is
the fact that the dependence reaches back to the earliest beginnings;
that the individual has become what he has become through the
overpowering influences of heredity, education, and environment.
Further, the conviction that the differences lie within ascertainable
limits, and that there is a certain average level throughout all the
multiplicity of life, is gaining a firmer hold. To ascertain these
average levels now becomes the chief problem of knowledge, and to
realise them the chief task of practical political provision. Inner
changes are also brought about. The fact that, with these changes,
responsibility, guilt, and desert are transferred more and more from the
individual to the society tends to call forth more humane sympathy and
more mildness of judgment, and tends to discredit the excessive
self-esteem of a self-righteous Pharisaism. At the same time it
constitutes a powerful motive to work for the whole; to strive to raise
the whole, morally and physically; to develop a social morality and a
strong feeling of solidarity.

To the modern man, therefore, the life of the State advances through
changes in content and form. The State, which in the Middle Ages had to
leave all problems of inner training to the Church, in its new function
of culture State now assumes all tasks, influences the whole life of the
individual, and is confident in its power to transform our existence
more and more into a realm of reason. Along with this there is a strong
tendency to place the State increasingly on the power and insight of
individuals; all through the nineteenth century this tendency won an
ever more overwhelming power. The more activity we bestow upon a
particular sphere of work, the more valuable does it become to us, the
nearer does it stand to our inner nature. Thus, the ancient mode of
thought, that the individual is a mere member of the political organism,
and that he receives his tasks and obtains his power from it, was able
to be revived.

With this the stronger emphasis laid upon national peculiarities, and
the more definite self-assertion and more vigorous development of
nations are associated. Formerly national character had been veiled
and, as far as the spiritual ideals of humanity are concerned, as though
lost. Now nations appear as points where the spiritual life manifests
itself and concentrates distinctively. To work out their peculiarities
clearly, and manfully to assert them in the competition of peoples,
promises great gain for the organisation and energising of life; for the
first time, the divine seems to pass into daily toil on earth.

Most of all, the modern organisation of labour, with its enhancing of
technique and its advance beyond the capacity of production of the mere
individual, heightens the power of impression of the picture as a whole.
Work brings about a deliverance from the passivity of the subject; it
organises itself into independent complexes, which develop into a state
entirely foreign to our nature. It produces its own motive powers and
necessities, and requires from the individual the strictest obedience.
The performance of the individual attains a value only in definitely
ordered co-operation with others; it loses all worth if he attempts to
ignore this relation. This is shown with particular clearness in the
evolution of the factory with its production by machinery. It is shown
further in every specifically modern work in administrative government,
in military organisation, in knowledge and education. Everywhere we find
great organisations; an enormous growth in the capacity of the whole,
but a sinking of the individual to a mere link of the great chain, a
proscribing of all individual will. If all thus depends upon the whole,
the success of endeavour and the happiness of life will be decided
chiefly by the organisation of the whole. It is not to be wondered at,
then, if the antitheses which arise in reference to this organisation
agitate people in the strongest degree; if a faith in the omnipotence of
political and social forms grows up, and if over these the keenest fight

In this connection there is no problem which gives rise to greater
complications and severer conflicts than that in regard to the
preservation and raising of the standard of material existence. If, in
general, we attribute incomparably more value to the material in life
than was done formerly, so here also the problems of modern labour reach
their climax. The organisation and concentration of labour have made by
far their greatest progress in this matter; a gigantic accumulation of
capital on the one side and of labour power on the other has intensified
to the uttermost the opposition between man and man. In this conflict
more than in any other the whole being of man comes into play; here,
therefore, the most powerful passions flame up. No wonder that, if the
thought of a fundamental re-organisation rises to the surface, it wins
an influence amounting to fascination, arouses the hope of an essential
advancement of the whole of human existence, and impels men to vigorous

Thus, then, this sphere, in which fact is regarded as principle, and in
which the problem of the development of society is elevated to a
position of importance above all others, and seeks to impress its stamp
upon the whole of life, is first and foremost. From this point of view
the organisation of society is the central problem of all culture, and a
distinctive social culture, a social system of life, is evolved. But
that which emerges at this point with especial power and clearness would
not have been able to win men so quickly and influence them so strongly
if it did not constitute a high-water mark of a wider movement, of a
general tendency of the modern man to regard the social relation as
being of the essence of life, and to shape life anew from this. Viewed
historically, this tendency arose as a reaction against the practice of
placing the individual in the foreground, a practice which since the
beginning of the Modern Age had been resorted to in the most diverse
departments of life. What was felt to be unconditionally right in
opposition to the bondage of the Middle Ages has, in the course of time,
shown a reverse side. Many painful experiences have led us to favour a
movement in the direction of the whole again; and so it comes about that
all hope of amelioration is able to be regarded as inevitably bound up
with the complete victory of this movement.

A distinctive social type of life can be formed and can strive for
supremacy only if great problems arise within society and if its
position in the whole of our life is capable of and in need of change.
It will soon be seen that the case is so in respect of both these
things; and also that two movements, one more general in kind, and
another more precise but also more uncertain as to its goal, are

The point at which the new development of life institutes a new demand
is the relation of the individual to the means of existence and the
goods of culture. Formerly an aristocratic order preponderated, which
allowed only a few to share in the abundance of these goods, while it
was only afterwards that the many were able to partake of the poor
remains. In material, as in spiritual, things man was concerned less
with the equitable distribution of the possessions of humanity than with
increasing them. The matter of chief importance, and this with regard to
questions of inward culture also, appeared to be in some way to
incorporate the contents and goods within the sphere of human existence,
and to fix them there; the extension of these goods among men was a
matter of secondary consideration, and often one that was only very
lightly thought of. The limitation to a small chosen class, indeed,
seemed to be quite indispensable for a secure and worthy organisation of
life. Thus, this culture acquired its character at the highest levels of
society, and from there descended in diminishing degrees to lower
levels: it was regarded as inevitable that in this descent much should
be lost, and that the less privileged classes must perforce be satisfied
with very little.

A movement in opposition to this state of things arose in the first
place among the individuals who were placed in the background by such an
organisation, and who, not convinced of the validity of the doctrine of
the immutability of their fate, began to make comparisons and to ask
questions. Their desire was not merely for more happiness, but for
spiritual advance also. In humanity there is an energetic striving and
advance, and in this a far greater spirituality and a far keener thirst
for truth are often shown in the classes of the people who are
struggling upward and pressing forward than in those classes which from
early times have had possession of power and wealth and which are
hampered by a feeling of self-satisfaction.

That which at first is striven for by merely a part of mankind acquires,
through its inner necessities, a power over others also, and becomes a
requirement of the whole. We experience here what earlier was called the
power of ideas in history, that is, the fact that in certain periods
certain thoughts and demands acquire an overwhelming power of
penetration and impel men to a line of conduct which is even opposed to
their special interests. We may so far speak of the supremacy of the
social idea in the present, as not only in the disposition of
individuals but also through organisation and legislation there is an
endeavour to bring help to the poor and the weak, to raise those who are
struggling upward, and to convey as directly as possible both material
and spiritual goods to all who bear human features. It is not only that
this appears a matter of justice; a rejuvenation and an energising of
the whole of culture are also hoped for. Without a radical rejection of
all that which in the traditional position has decayed, become alien, or
is now artificial; without a deep-reaching simplification and a greater
proximity to the soul, how could all partake of culture, and how could
it become a concern of all? The old demand of leading educationalists,
of Comenius and Rousseau, of Pestalozzi and Froebel, the desire for a
rejuvenation of our culture antiquated as it is in many respects, seems
to be approaching its fulfilment now that the matter is a concern of the
whole of mankind.

However, this striving, which in itself cannot be rejected, enters upon
a narrow course and at the same time upon much that is problematical, in
that it unites with the positivistic tendencies of the age in the
rejection of all invisible connections and in the restriction of life to
the experience of sense. Instead of the whole, we now have the average
and the masses, and instead of a creation from the whole, a building up
from below; the needs of the masses are the main motive power of life.
But as with the masses the chief questions are those of the physical
preservation of life, and of economic existence, it seems as if, with
their solution, with the deliverance from oppressing cares and necessity
through a radical revolution, a complete state of happiness and a
ceaseless spiritual advance of humanity are assured. Material welfare,
which in earlier organisations of life was so depreciated, in the new
system becomes the matter of chief concern; it is regarded as that which
more than anything else leads to the development of every power and
makes culture the truth for the whole of humanity.

The life of society is thus seen to be full of problems. Nevertheless,
the position of society in our life as a whole has been changed and
raised. We have become far more uncertain concerning our relation to
ultimate and universal reality; we doubt the possibility and the
validity of first winning, through religion or speculation, a world
beyond human experience, of the conveying it to that experience, and
from the point of view of such a world giving the human its light and
setting it its task. In short, the centre of life has changed from the
object to the subject; we know that we cannot abstract from our own
nature our spiritual organisation, but that we carry it into every
aspect of the whole; that we see and form the world through man. With
such a transition, the movement from man to world becomes the chief
movement of life; and the conception of man will decide the nature of
the conceptions of life and of reality. Henceforth greatness may be
attributed to these only if human nature is capable of an advance beyond
what it appears to be in the first impression. That, however, will
scarcely be possible unless humanity is conceived as a whole and, with
such a unity, has more power and depth than it has as it exists
immediately before us. This also will operate to the strengthening of
the social order, in which sense experience controls thought.

Thus, many different factors unite to make the condition of mankind as
it is, that is, the state of society on the basis of experience, the
starting-point and final aim of all endeavour, and the relation of man
to surrounding men the fundamental relation of his life. But, as in the
case of culture as a whole, the individual departments of life must also
win a distinctive character if the welfare of the social whole, the
achievement for man and the influence on man, becomes the
all-controlling task which sets the aim and points out the way for all

In this context science does not reveal hidden depths of things, but
aids man in winning power over appearances; it leads him to a more
zealous and a more active life. Art does not lift him into an ideal
world; but, within experience, softens the pressure of existence and
fills life with pure joys. Morality does not subject our conduct to an
invisible order, but directs man beyond himself to men around him; it
develops the feeling of solidarity and raises the standard of the inner
relationships of society. For religion as the revelation of an "other"
world there is no room; this world shows in humanity an object worthy of
reverence; so understood, religion also must work to the inner elevation
of society.

In everything that which distinguishes the individual is thrust into the
background to make way for that which is common; work has in the first
place to concern itself with that which is common to all. In that here
science makes man the chief study of man, it considers him especially as
a social being and finds its chief theme in the knowledge of social
conditions. Similarly, the chief subject of art is not, as was formerly
the case, the doings and experience of individuals, but the forceful
representation of these social conditions. The raising of the general
level becomes the chief care of all practical activity, as also of
education. According to this scheme the individual is of consequence and
of worth only through those elements of the common life which he brings
to expression, and through the way in which he reacts upon that life.
The industry of universal history is understood, therefore, not from
that which relates primarily to individuals, but from that relating to
the movements and destinies of society.

Such an estimate of the whole involves a conviction which seldom finds
expression, but which silently exerts its influence everywhere: the
belief in a summation of reason by the organisation of individuals into
a whole. Only a belief of this kind is able to establish the supremacy
of the mass over against the individuals, also in spiritual things; only
such a belief is able to justify the hope of a victory of the good in
the sphere of humanity.

The net result of all these ideas and tendencies is a co-ordinated
system of thought, a distinctive type of life. In this system man is
first and foremost a member of society; he originates in it; he remains
in it; and his activity carries implications far beyond his own life.
Not community of labour only joins him with his fellows, but also the
general tone of thought and feeling. This type of life is not one
without sacrifice; for it has to give up many things which in earlier
times seemed a secure possession and were a source of joy. Yet these
things were only illusions which vanished, and mankind seems to find a
compensation, more than equivalent for all that has been lost, in that
it is more closely united and through this wins new powers; and
henceforth out of its own capacity can venture to take up the struggle
against every irrationality of existence, and to advance its own
well-being without constraint. A life is therefore evolved, conscious of
its limits, but at the same time active and courageous.

In this manner, then, transcending all subjective opinions and wishes, a
distinctive social culture has arisen, and its growth and results are
clearly evident to us. Through combination of forces and through
diligent activity on behalf of one another, and this with the aid of a
highly evolved technique, we have brought about a magnificent elevation
of our being; necessity and disease have been successfully fought
against; the standard of education and the amount and kind of joy in
life have been raised in many ways; in life and suffering men have been
drawn together inwardly and associated together with a greater degree of
solidarity. If one accepts the creed of the socialistic movement in the
narrower sense: that human society can be placed on a new basis and at
the same time raised essentially in its achievement, one can conceive
that social culture may grow to the comprehensiveness of culture in
general, and arouse the hope of a kingdom of reason among men.

     *     *     *     *     *

But here also there is a limit set to things, not from without, but from
within; not from a rationalising criticism, but through the actual facts
of the life of humanity. This limit appears with especial clearness when
we consider the relation of the individual, together with his work, to
the society in which he stands. If social culture should be regarded as
absolute culture, the individual must spend himself solely and entirely
in relation to his environment; all his activity and endeavour must be
exerted in achievement for this culture--must, indeed, be regarded as a
mere part of a common work. In such a system man could never attain an
independent position and a superior right in opposition to society. Let
us examine whether the experience of history establishes the truth of
this system or whether it does not much rather show the opposite to be
more correct.

It was only in the earliest state of culture, and under very simple
conditions of life, that the individual was solely and entirely bound up
with the social organism, simply a member of family, of tribe, and such
like; entirely swayed by custom, authority, and tradition. All further
evolution was a differentiation and led to the greater independence of
the individual. There came a time, however, when, in contrast with his
mere membership of the society, the individual felt himself to have
arrived at a state of maturity; when he questioned the right of the
traditional order, and ultimately found himself coming into opposition
with the whole of society; his own thought thus became the chief basis
of his life and the measure of all things. At first that may have
appeared an impious break and a destructive negation; in reality, the
positive results which have been thus effected could never have been
produced out of a mere revolt. For, a deepening of life in all its
branches went hand in hand with the individual's attainment of
independence; now, for the first time, Religion developed a personal
religious experience, and Art filled man's whole soul; now only did
Science set a distinctive world of thought in opposition to the
traditional presentation; and so the whole of life gained enormously in
independence, mobility, and depth. How could this point have been
reached if an immediate relation to reality had not emerged in the soul
of man; if an inner world had not been formed from this reality, as the
representative of which the individual might feel superior to the
society and, from inner necessities, criticise the prevailing condition
of things? The fact is that all deepening of culture, all awakening of
life to self-consciousness, is a rising above the life of society, a
summoning of the individual to creative activity. Never have real
advances in Religion, Science, and Art, or great transformations of
life, originated out of a combination of the activities of the majority.
Only in isolated cases has an incomparable individuality, supreme in the
entire range of creative activity, been reached, and spiritual tasks
been treated as ends in themselves, without which there is nothing
great. Only out of the necessity of spiritual self-preservation, only as
an overcoming of intolerable contradictions within our own being, could
creative activity find a sure direction and a lofty self-confidence in
order to lead the whole of humanity along new paths. The individuals in
whom this was accomplished were, to be sure, under many influences from
historico-social life; but, to overlook the essential elevation above
the entire domain of merely human interests into a realm of
self-conscious truth, which was accomplished by these individuals, one
must confuse the conditions with spiritual activity itself.

As this spiritual life has transcended social life from the beginning,
in the same way its effects are by no means exhausted in that life. It
has, it is true, exerted its activity upon the social environment, and,
after the initial opposition has been overcome, has often been
superabundantly honoured; but even so, it has been accepted in isolated
and external relations rather than in the whole of its being, and in its
appropriation through society it is apt to lose what is best in it. Ever
anew, even after centuries and centuries, it has attracted aspiring
souls to itself, and has always been able to offer something new to
them; in fact, in its essence it stands not in time but above it. The
more such genuine creative activity and production in all its spheres
become unified, the more a kingdom of truth spreads like an arch over
the whole machinery of human history, and, measured by the standards of
that truth, human standards are seen to be extremely low, like the size
of the earth when contrasted with the region of the fixed stars. This
realm of eternal truth, however, reveals itself immediately only to the
soul of the individual, who must convey it to society.

Such an estimate of spiritual depth in the individual is quite
compatible with the fact that in the course of history the individual
has often fallen into utter uncertainty; has felt destitute and lonely,
and has passionately sought a support in society. For the individual may
cut himself adrift from the invisible connections in which his greatness
is rooted; he may base himself on his own isolated power and groping
intellect. When he has indeed done this, he has soon perceived and
experienced his insufficiency; after such experience he has longed for
the building up of a new society by spiritual activity, and when this
has been attained he has fled to it as to a sure haven. Men strove for
such a society in the later period of Antiquity; one such was founded by
Early Christianity, by which the centre of life was transferred from the
individual to the society. But in this transition the individual did not
again become simply a member of society. For the new union that was
sought could not come to men from without, but could proceed only as a
result of spiritual endeavour; for its origin and in the early stages
of its life it required great creative personalities of the kind of
Augustine; for its preservation it needed appropriation by individuals,
who unless they made an independent decision could not come to a
complete knowledge of the truth. Wherever such individual activity
languished, the inwardness of life at once became weak; the whole
threatened to lose its spiritual nature and to be transformed into mere
mechanism. But after, in the course of history, the individual has
developed so far as experience shows him to have done; after that, as
microcosm, he has found an immediate relation to reality and to himself,
his transcendence may for a time be obscured, but he can never be
deprived of it. As the individual has grown strong only as the
representative and champion of a culture that is spiritual, as opposed
to one that is merely human, so at the same time that spiritual culture
asserts itself and criticises all which limits man to his own sphere.
After having attained a greater comprehensiveness, a pure
self-existence, and other standards toilsomely enough, a narrowly social
culture must be absolutely intolerable to us.

This assertion is valid especially in regard to the social culture of
the present. That culture, as we saw, makes significant and justifiable
demands which have arisen from historical conditions; but its right
gives place to error, if these demands are made the central point of
life as a whole, and everything else subordinated to them. The
unsatisfactoriness of this system of culture and the impossibility of
achieving its aims would be still more manifest if it did not constantly
supplement its own results out of the other organisations of life, and
did not boldly and unjustifiably idealise the man of experience.

This social culture may be shortly described in some of its tendencies:
(1) Work for society was the compelling motive in the shaping of this
life of social utility. Some such social principle may suffice for the
distribution of goods; it never suffices for their original production.
We saw how spiritual experience can arise only from the compulsion of an
inner self-preservation, in which man does not think in the least of
the effects on others, but of himself and the object. Only that effort
which has sprung up without regard to its mere utility has been able to
achieve great things. If, therefore, merely social culture rigidly binds
up vital energy with the direction of all thoughts on the effect, in the
long run it must seriously degrade life. Can we deny that in the chief
departments of the spiritual life the present already clearly shows
tendencies to such a degradation? And can this be otherwise when we only
more widely diffuse the inherited possession, but are unable to increase
it through our own activity?

(2) Social culture makes the judgment of the society the test of all
truth and requires from the individual a complete subordination. It can
do this, as we saw, only under the assumption that reason is summed in a
judgment by the people as a whole; but, in face of the experiences of
history and the impressions of the present time, can this assumption be
ratified? Upon its emergence, truth has nearly always been championed by
a minority so small as to be hardly discernible; and what in its case is
called victory is usually nothing else than the transforming of the
struggle from an external into an internal one. He who continues firm in
his faith in the victory of truth does so because he trusts, not so much
in the wisdom of the majority as in a reason transcending all that is
empirically human, and which begets a truth with power to constrain. The
present gives us the opportunity of testing this assertion by an
example. We see movements of the masses in plenty, but where do we see
great spiritual creations arise from the resulting chaos? Even Socialism
in the narrower sense has to thank but a few men for its vital power and
character, as, for example, Marx; the masses are indeed a condition and
an environment, but never as such the bearers of creative activity.

(3) Where man, as he is, governs all thought, his well-being, his
complacency, an existence as free from care as possible, and as rich as
possible in pleasure, will become the highest of all aims. But would not
one find an inner emptiness, a monotony, even more intolerable than any
suffering if this aim were reached and life were freed from all pain
and necessity? Intelligible as it is that, to the classes whose life is
spent in hard struggle against necessity and care, the deliverance from
these appears the highest good and an assurance of complete happiness,
it is just as unintelligible that anyone who is conscious of the work of
universal history and the inner movement of humanity can share such a
belief. For that movement has given rise to difficult problems and
severe conflicts within the soul of man; a wrestling for a truth and a
content of life, where we now drift hither and thither on the surface of
appearance; a longing for infinity and eternity, where now a finitude
and a past fascinate and charm us; a clashing together of freedom and
destiny, of nature and spirit. The tendencies and tasks which this
movement produces may for a time be thrust into the background, but they
continually reappear and claim their right. It is a foolish undertaking
to try to make man happy by directing him to give up what is distinctive
in him, and to give his striving a less worthy character.

(4) From a radical improvement of the conditions of life, the
socialistic way of thinking expects a continuous advance of culture and
an increasing ennoblement of man. To some extent this expectation would
be justified if a strong spiritual impulse and a sure tendency towards
the good were found everywhere; if it were only a matter of opening the
door to an inner striving that was everywhere operative; only a matter
of removing restrictions. The actual picture of human conditions
corresponds but little to such an optimism. How small a place spiritual
impulse has in human conduct and effort! How wearisome to the
indifferent and reluctant average man any thought of spiritual goods
becomes, and what severe restrictions moral development meets with in
selfishness, avarice, and jealousy! The impressions which reality gives
speak too plainly in regard to this for even the believers in
socialistic culture to be able to hide the facts from themselves; but it
is noteworthy enough that not that which they see with their eyes and
grasp with their hands determines their judgment, but that which,
unconsciously, they add to it: an invisible humanity, a greatness and a
dignity of human nature, a nobility in the depths of the soul;
conceptions for which, in this context, there is not the least

All these considerations show clearly enough the limits of simply
socialistic culture, and the sharp contradictions of its adherents. This
culture only throws man back increasingly upon the merely human, and
unmercifully holds him firmly fixed in it. It chains him to his own
appearance and suppresses all tendencies towards depth. It knows nothing
of life's consciousness of itself; it knows no inner problems, no
infinite development of the soul; it cannot acknowledge a common life of
an inner kind, but must derive all from external relations. At the same
time it excludes all understanding of the movement of universal history;
for the chief content of this movement constitutes just those problems
which Socialism regards as foolish delusions. To be sure, the striving
after an inner independence of life has brought much error with it, and
it may involve much that is problematical. But that a longing after such
independence should arise at all and prove itself able to call forth so
much endeavour sufficiently demonstrates that man is more than a mere
being of society; more than a member of a social organism.

Ultimately, socialistic culture presupposes, in its own development, a
greater depth of life than it is itself able to produce. It can make so
much out of its data only because it assumes in them a more
comprehensive and a deeper world of thought. Like Naturalism, Socialism
reaches a tolerable conclusion only by much plagiarism from the old
Idealism, before the principal conceptions of which it crosses itself as
before something atrocious.

This inner inconsistency of socialistic culture, its remaining bound up
with something which inwardly it contradicts, is most plainly shown by
the historical experience of the Modern Age. Men were at first led to
take up the movements towards the strengthening of society chiefly by
the expectation that the invisible forces in human existence would be
invigorated, and by the hope that the inner life of men would be raised.
The more they have cut themselves adrift from these invisible
connections and have placed themselves simply on the basis of experience
the more have they lost in spiritual content.

The movement towards the modern free State arose in association with
religious strivings; the desire for political independence attached
itself to and inwardly grew from the longing for more complete equality
before God. The more this relation to Religion and, further, to an
invisible realm receded into the background, the more difficult did it
become to guard the striving for freedom from being diverted in the
interests of individuals, classes, and parties; the more did the
movement inwardly lose by external expansion. We saw that the idea of
nationality acquired power from the conviction that there results in an
independent people an individualisation of the spiritual and divine
which is the first thing to ensure to existence a definite character and
a firm support. So long as this conviction predominated, each people had
a great inner task in reaching the highest point of development of its
nature, and, what is more important, did not need to direct its energies
upon externals. With the obscuring or the complete surrender of this
spiritual foundation, a blind adoration of one's own country, an
increase of unfruitful pride of race, a passionate struggle for external
expansion and power, inevitably accompanied by the surrender of humanity
and justice, threatens us.

When in the nineteenth century the modern idea of the State again came
into currency, the State came to be regarded--as, for example, in the
system of Hegel--as the realisation of an absolute reason, and desired
to be honoured as something "earthly divine." Its leading
administrators, however, men of the kind of Altenstein, were imbued with
the philosophic spirit; were men who could be regarded as philosophers
in Plato's sense. To-day we still hear of such spiritual bases of the
State, in syllabuses of courses of study; but we count so little on a
philosophical training that when anyone gives any sign of such a
training he is regarded with astonishment as a rare exception. Even the
socialistic movement in the narrower sense, the longing for an economic
revolution, at first stood in close connection with philosophical
endeavours, and the hope of an inner ennobling of humanity, the hope of
raising the whole of culture, worked in it as a powerful motive force.
More and more, out of this a mere desire for power and enjoyment has
developed, a passionate struggle of class against class, of interest
against interest, and how this might lead to an inner elevation of
humanity is not apparent. The more socialistic culture, in its pressing
forward, has cut itself loose from a richer and more inward culture and
has trusted solely to its own resources, the more distinct have its
limitations become, the more has its incapacity to include the whole of
human existence been made evident.

To assert this does not mean to depreciate the significance of the facts
which the social tendency has made us conscious of and the tasks which
it has imposed upon us. Not only do the advance into prominence of the
economic side of life, and the desire for a more energetic realisation
of a social organisation in this direction, remain unimpeached, but
there are demands of an imperative kind which extend beyond the scope of
this narrow conception. The increasing isolation and separation of
individuals make us feel the desire for reunion more and more strongly.
Man, with that which is near him and in him, acquires an ever greater
significance for the shaping of our life and our world; from no other
point of departure than from him can we attempt to reach the depths of
reality and from these to build up a realm of reason.

Socialistic culture, however, treats these problems, to which it gives
rise, far too externally and too meanly to hold out any hope that its
method can lead to their solution; and so, as we see it immediately
before us, it brings truth and error into a melancholy mixture. Only a
broader conception of life could bring about a differentiation and give
to each factor its right. In this case also the promised solution of the
problem is seen to be itself a problem.


The naturalistic and socialistic tendencies unite in the modern life of
culture for action in common. How near they stand to each other,
notwithstanding all their differences, our accounts of them will have
shown. Not only do both make the world of sense the sole world of man,
but both also find life entirely in the relation to the environment, be
it nature or society. Again, both maintain that all happiness arises
from work upon this environment, whether the work be in the main
scientific and technical, or practical and political. Thus the culture
of both systems bears throughout the character of a culture of work; in
one as in the other great complexes of work arise, and draw the
individual to themselves; all trouble and effort are for the sake of the
result; in both a restless progressive movement surrounds us and directs
all reflection and thought to a better future. With such a tendency we
have grown closer to the environment and we have ascribed more value to
the world and to life. With an ever-increasing activity, a proud
self-consciousness has developed in humanity.

But the limitations and defects of such a culture, centred as it is upon
results, could not remain concealed. The age, alert and fond of
reflecting upon its own nature, has been compelled more and more to
perceive the negation that accompanied the assertion made in that
system. The striving for results alone made care for the soul
impossible; the being fitted into a complex whole impaired the
development to complete individuality. The more industrial and social
activities have become specialised, the less significant has that part
of human existence become which is embodied in the individual as such,
the more have all aspects of his nature other than those involved in
his work degenerated. The continual thought of the future, the impetuous
movement ever onward and onward, also threatens to destroy all
appreciation of the present, all self-consciousness and independence of
life. If we exist merely in order to serve as means and instruments to a
soulless process of culture, does not the whole enormous movement
finally amount to nothing, if it is not experienced and appropriated?

Once such questions arise and make man concerned about the meaning and
the happiness of his life, a sudden change must soon take place. Man may
at all times fall into error concerning the aims of the culture of work;
indeed, concerning work itself. It may appear to him as something which,
originally his own creation, has broken loose from him, placed itself in
opposition to him, enslaved him, and finally, like a gigantic spider,
threatens to suck his life's blood. From this point of view it may be
regarded as the most important of all tasks again to become master of
work, and to preserve a life inwardly conscious of itself, in contrast
with the tendency of work to occupy itself solely with externals; to
realise a true present in contrast with the restless hurry onward and
onward; a quietness and a depth of the soul in contrast with work's
bustle and agitation. To those with such a conviction the culture of
work must seem sordid, secular, profane, and in contrast a longing for
more inspiration, more soul, more permanent splendour of life will

Many movements of this kind make themselves apparent in the present; the
longing for a return of life to itself, for more joy and more depth in
life, grows ever stronger and stronger. Of all these movements, however,
one stands out with definite achievement--one which, upon the basis of
the present and with the means of sense experience, seeks a remedy
which, while in these two aspects it shares the general initial
assumption of the culture of work, within the limits of this assumption
is entirely opposed to this culture of work. We mean the system of
Subjectivism and Individualism. In that this system is blended with a
kind of art of its own, and gains strength from this, it boldly
undertakes to govern and shape our whole existence.

He who wishes to rise above the culture of work without transcending the
region of experience will scarcely discover any other basis than the
individual with his self-consciousness, his "being-for-self." For,
however far work with its influences may penetrate into the innermost
recesses of the soul, there always remains something which is able to
resist it. Something original seems to spring up here, which fits into
no scheme and bows down to no external power.

If, therefore, a newly aroused longing for greater immediacy and
happiness in life drives man once more to the subjective and to the
individual, he can emphasise this factor conceptually in order to
depreciate the other systems of life. For, whether the individual
belongs to an invisible world of thought or to a visible structure, his
task and his worth is then assigned to him by the whole; his activity
will have a definite direction determined by the whole, and his power
will be called into play only so far as it fitted into the framework of
the whole organisation. If all such relation to the whole is discarded,
and the individual becomes bold enough to place himself simply upon his
own capacity, and to acknowledge no other standard than his own
decision, an infinite course seems to open up before him. What lies in
him is now able to develop with complete freedom, and he need take
neither a visible nor an invisible order into anxious consideration. The
individual, raised to such sovereignty, will make far more out of
himself, and will mean far more than the narrow and often over-awed
individual of earlier ages. True, even in earlier times opposition from
the individual was not lacking, but the circumstances of the Modern Age
are especially conducive to his development and recognition. We know how
the modern man extricated himself from the ties which bound him, and how
he boldly placed himself in opposition to the world. We know how much
more freely thought rules in modern life; how much more deeply an
over-subtle reflection penetrates everywhere and takes all stability
from things. We know, too, how the external form of civilisation, with
its acceleration of intercourse, and its development in a thousand
directions, sets the individual more free. Is it to be wondered at if
the modern individual regards himself as the centre and undertakes to
shape the whole of life from himself?

The individual can attain complete independence only when he liberates
his soul from all external connections, from every objective relation,
and, as a free subject, simply lives his own states of consciousness.
This is achieved above all in the disposition--transcending all form and
shape and bound to no particular object--which has obtained an
independent position chiefly as a result of the Romantic movement. In
this a complete detachment of life, an inward infinity, and a complete
independence seem attained; every individual has his own course and his
own truth; no limit is set to life, no command given, but he can with
the utmost freedom develop every impulse and exhaust its possibilities
according to its nature. Thus a life arises, profuse and extremely
active: a life fine and delicate in nature; a life which is in no way
directed beyond itself.

But all agitation, profuseness, and refinement could hardly have
prevented this emotional life from becoming hollow, if, when it turned
to the individual, it had not united to itself another movement, which
is flowing with a powerful current through the age. We mean the movement
towards art, and beyond that towards an æsthetic conception of life.
From ancient times there has always been an antithesis of an ethical and
an æsthetical fashioning of life: of a preponderance on the one hand of
the active, on the other hand of the contemplative relation to reality.
Emphasis on the activity of man has led to the formation in modern
systems of life of a culture of work and utility. An æsthetical,
contemplative mode of thought can with good reason feel itself superior
to that culture. In contrast to utility, it promises beauty; over
against the heaviness and weariness of the way of life of a culture of
work, it promises a joy and a lightness; in opposition to effort,
hurriedly and continually striving further and further, it promises an
independent self-consciousness, and an inward calm. But, as this
movement towards art blends with that towards the subject it lapses into
a narrow course and assumes a distinctive character. Here, art has less
to comprehend the object than to stimulate and please the subject; it
will strive less after content and a further construction than with
lyrical cadences, to give expression to changing moods. It has a
difficult task given to it which can only approximately be solved--the
task of expressing something fundamentally inexpressible and resisting
all attempts to give it form. But in that art undertakes such an
impossibility, and exerts its power to the uttermost, it brings about a
refinement of the soul as well as an enrichment of expression. It
enables much to be grasped and comprehended which, without it, passes
like a fleeting shadow. It permits the observation of the most delicate
vibrations of the soul, and throws light into depths which would
otherwise be inaccessible.

A distinctive type of life is thus formed from the side of literature
and art, and this feels securely supreme over all the embarrassments of
the culture of work and of the masses. The centre of life is transferred
into the inner tissue of self-consciousness. With the development of
this self-consciousness, life appears to be placed entirely on its own
resources and directed simply towards itself. Through all change of
circumstances and conditions it remains undisturbed; in all the infinity
of that which happens to it, it feels that it is supreme. All external
manifestation is valuable to it as an unfolding of its own being; it
never experiences things, but only itself--that is, its own passive
states of consciousness--in the things.

A life of such a kind gives rise, in different directions, to
distinctive tendencies, which, through their antithesis to the
traditional forms, are sharply accentuated. This system thinks
especially to turn the whole of human existence into something
positive, to limit it on none of its sides, to raise it everywhere to
activity, joy, and pleasure. In the older systems of life, especially in
the religious, it finds far too much feeble renunciation, far too much
sad negation: such a depreciation of life is henceforth to give way to a
complete and joyful affirmation. But an affirmation appears to be
possible because in this system, through that reference to and
excitement of subjectivity, all that in any way affects man is
transformed in activity and advance; because before all else the subject
feels its own life in every experience and takes pleasure in this. It
must be added that the self-refinement of life, its mobility and
delicacy, free it from all the heaviness of existence, and that the free
play of forces which exist here transforms the whole of existence into
something lightly poised. We find this to be especially the case when we
turn to art, which joins beauty to power, or, rather, strengthens life
in itself through its embodiment in the beautiful.

This free, joyous, and as it would seem purely self-conscious life is
throughout of an aristocratic and individual character. In that it is
adapted to the old experience, that to only a few is given the power and
the disposition for independent creation and independent life, it
addresses itself to these few and summons them to the greatest possible
development of the individuality of their nature, to the most decisive
detachment from the characterless average of the masses. For, without a
completely developed consciousness of individuality, without an
energetic differentiation and isolation, life does not seem to attain
its greatest height. Thus the matter is one of making all the relations
and all the externals of life as individual as possible. Everything
which places the development of life under universal standards, and,
through these, limits that development, is rejected as an unwarrantable
limitation and an intolerable restriction. This individualising of our
existence extends also to the matter of our relation to time. One moment
may not be sacrificed to another; the present may not be degraded to the
status of being a mere preparation for the future, but every moment
should be an end in itself, and, with this, life is considered as being
solely in the present. And so life is a ceaseless change, a perpetual
self-renewal, a continuous transition; but it is just this which
preserves to life its youthful freshness and gives to it the capacity to
attract through every new charm. Hence this system presents the most
definite contrast to the interminable chain and the gigantic
construction which the culture of work makes out of the activities of
the individuals.

Æsthetic Individualism appears most distinctive in the way it represents
the relation between the spiritual and the sensuous. It cannot take its
attention from the external world, in order to centre it upon human
perception, without strengthening the psychical. But, as its own system
is based upon sense experience, it is impossible for it to acknowledge
an independent spirituality and to contrast it with the sensuous; the
spirituality which it recognises always remains bound and blended with
the sensuous. For it an entirely mutual interpenetration is the highest
ideal, a spiritualising of the sensuous, and a sensualising of the
spiritual to an exactly equivalent degree. This high estimate of the
sensuous, and the endeavour to harmonise the spiritual with it, put this
new system of life in the sharpest opposition to the older systems,
especially to religious Idealism, in which the supremacy of the
spiritual is essential.

From such a basal character this system evolves a distinctive relation
to the individual values and spheres of life. Artistic literary creation
becomes the soul of life; the source of the influences for the
fashioning of a new man. The social, political, sphere is reduced to the
level of a mere outside world, which urges less to activity on our own
part than provokes a sceptical and critical attitude. The lack of
attention to all that which fits man into a common order, be it into the
State with its laws, or the civic community with its customs and
arrangements, permits the free relation of individual to individual in
social contact, friendship and love, to develop so much more
forcefully. In particular, it is the inter-relationship of the sexes,
with its many-sidedness and its inseparable interweaving of spirituality
with sensuousness, which occupies thought and dominates literary
production. Strike out the erotic element from specifically modern
literature, and how insignificant the remainder would appear! It is also
in the relation of the sexes that this scheme of life insists on the
fullest freedom. There is a marked tendency to regard an acknowledgment
of fixed standards and of traditional morals in this connection as a
sign of weakness and of a narrow-minded way of thinking.

Since this scheme seeks to realise an æsthetic conception of life and an
artistic culture in opposition to all the restraint of tradition and
environment, it will come into particularly severe conflict with
traditional religion and morality. It must reject religion, or at least
what hitherto has been called religion, because, with its blending
together of the spiritual and the sensuous in a single world, it can by
no means acknowledge a world of independent spirituality; its thought is
much too "monistic" for that. It must reject religion also for the
reason that, with its immediate affirmation of life, it cannot in the
least understand the starting-point of religion, the experience and
perception of harsh inner contradictions in our existence. Religion,
with all the heroism that it truly shows, is here regarded as a mere
lowering of vital energy; a chimera which pleases the weak.

In relation to morality the matter is not much different. A foundation
of morality in the necessity of its own nature is lacking in this
system. What motive could move a man who whole-heartedly accepted
Æsthetic Individualism to acknowledge something external to the subject
as a standard, and in accordance with this standard to put a check upon
his natural impulses? Indeed, with the denial of spiritual activity and
the division of the world into for and against, the entire antithesis of
good and evil loses its meaning and its justification. Reality appears
from the point of view of this system to be rent in twain in an
unwarrantable manner at the command of a human authority. What is
usually called morality is considered to be only a statute of the
community, a means by which it seeks to rob the individual of his
independence and to subordinate him to itself.

All this reasoning presents itself as an offspring of our own time, and
wishes to establish the correctness of its claims on its own ground
through its results. Yet it by no means lacks historical relations:
often in the course of the centuries the subject has shaken off every
constraint and sought a solution to life's problems in its own realm.
This happened, first among the Sophists; then in a form less marked and
with more direct attention to happiness in Epicureanism; later, in proud
exaltation and in a titanic struggle with the world, in the Renaissance;
and again in a more delicate and more contemplative manner in the
Romantic period. Tendencies from all these operate in the Æsthetic
Individualism of the present time and enrich it in many ways, though
their contributions are not always free from contradiction. But, even
with these historical elements, Æsthetic Individualism is essentially a
modern product; and it cannot be denied that it has won a great power in
the present; a movement of culture in this direction is unmistakeable.
It is the very nature of this scheme of life not to hasten to a definite
form, and for this reason it does not manifest itself with very definite
features; but, with invisible power, it is everywhere present and
creates a spiritual atmosphere from which it is difficult to withdraw
ourselves. Notwithstanding all the attacks it is subjected to and the
doubts as to its validity, it draws power continually from both the main
tendencies which it unites; from the evolution of the subject and from
the growth of art. Thus, here again we are concerned not with mere
subjective willing and wishing, but with an actual movement in universal

Whether this movement be the primary and the all-dominant remains to be
examined by consideration of the total possessions of humanity. Such an
examination is in this case peculiarly difficult, because in
Individualism and Subjectivism diverse forms mingle together and give to
the movement very different levels. There is, therefore, an obvious
danger that, viewing these forms from the position of an average level,
at which we may attempt to arrive, we may judge one too severely and
another too leniently. And yet we cannot dispense with the assumption of
such an average level; only, it must not be applied mechanically to the
individual forms which are so numerous.

In forming our judgment in this matter, it is necessary in the first
place to distinguish the aims and the methods of the scheme of life.
There can hardly be any doubt or dispute concerning the aims. For, if we
are called to give to life an independence, a content and a value; to
raise it to complete power; to press forward from anxious negation to
joyful affirmation; to reduce the monotony of existence; to organise the
whole realm of individuality so that it shall be fully clear; and if, at
the same time, the fact of the degeneration of the inner life through a
culture of work lends to such demands the impressiveness and the voice
of a present need, it is difficult to see how this system is to be
effectively opposed. Æsthetic Individualism here appears as the champion
of truths which may be obscured for a time, but which, nevertheless,
continually gain in significance in human evolution as a whole. A
further question is whether its aims, which cannot be rejected, are
attainable along the ways which Individualism follows and beyond which
it is not able to go; whether the means suffice for the attainment of
the end. If this should not be the case, we are in presence of a great
difficulty, in that something, in itself of the highest necessity, is
desired, but is desired in a way which not only is inadequate to the
aim, but directly contradicts it.

And yet that is how the matter really stands. It is essential to
Individualism--with this it stands or falls--that it lead to an
independent life, to a self-consciousness; that it transform our whole
condition into something of positive value on the basis of sense
experience. That the actual condition of human reality, the nature of
human experience, inexorably resists such a transformation, and that on
this account the individualistic scheme of life is contradictory, we
intend to indicate more in detail.

Man desires a self-conscious life, a deliverance from all external ties,
a removal of all oppressions. This desire is a lofty one, but one which,
as things are, is very difficult of attainment. For not only in what
happens to us, but also in the innermost depths of the soul--in our
spiritual constitution--we are bound up with an overwhelming and
impenetrable world. The mechanism of nature as well as the organisation
of society surrounds and visibly and invisibly coerces us. At first
sight we are no more than parts of an immense whole, and appear to be
completely determined by that which happens in this whole; we come from
it and sink back into it, and every moment we are dependent upon that
which takes place around us. What is Individualism able to do against
such forces, and what does it succeed in achieving towards life's
attainment of independence? The means it employs are the arousing of an
unrestrained mood, and the withdrawal of life to the greatest possible
concentration in its own passive states of consciousness. Because by
these means man is in some measure relieved from the oppression of
things, he imagines himself to be fully free. But is he free simply
because he appears to himself to be so; free, to take the example of
Spinoza, in the way in which the stone thrown up into the air might
during its motion suppose itself to be free? As a matter of fact, as
everyday experience shows us, it is just in his moods that man is least
stable and least lord of his own soul, and that the most diverse
circumstances, physical and psychical, visible and invisible, great and
small, influence and compel him. The transitoriness of appearances,
which form the matter of fact as far as moods are concerned, is lacking
in all firm relation, all inner construction of life; for nothing is
more mobile, nothing more subject to sudden changes, than mood--nothing
except the surface of the rolling sea, or a reed shaking in the wind.
The life of mood is, in reality, a purely superficial life; a projection
of the psychical nature on to the surface of the immediate passive
states of consciousness. Life in this case attains no depth, content, or
independence, but only subjective opinion, the mere semblance of
independence. We shall see that Individualism so persistently offers the
semblance instead of the real thing that it has come to believe that
with the production of the semblance it has acquired the reality. Life
can only attain a real independence when it has been widened to a realm
in itself, when inner relations, antitheses, problems thus become
evident; and when, through the exercise of activity upon these, an inner
world is raised up, which confidently places itself in opposition to the
endlessness of the soulless world and is able to take up the struggle
with it. We must show unrelenting hostility to any attempt to identify
mood with inner spirituality, with the soul's self-consciousness; for,
really, there is no greater contrast than that between simple
disposition and spiritual depth, between the man of mere sentiment, with
his dependence and vacillation, and the personality rooted in an inner

And so the independence and the predominance of the individual over the
social environment, which Individualism asserts, are nothing more than
an appearance. For what is offered in this system is far less a
self-conscious life and an undisturbed pursuance of our own course than
the inclination to say and do the opposite of that which is said and
done by the majority of those who surround us. It is easy to see that
life, as a matter of fact, always remains related to its environment and
to the standard of that environment; and that what is represented here
as independence is nothing but a different kind of dependence, an
indirect dependence. To the endeavour of Individualism to provide a free
course for the individual with his particularity it is scarcely possible
to offer any opposition. Unfortunately, however, intention and
realisation are different things, and Individualism is apt to assume as
something simple and self-evident that which of all things is the most
difficult, that is, individuality itself. Just as Socialism promises a
sure advance of life as a result of the removal of external hindrances,
so Individualism expects a magnificent advance of an inexhaustible
individualistic culture, if only the statutes by which the community
oppresses and limits the individual are annulled. What, then, is the
real state of the matter? Are men so full of spiritual impulse that it
is only necessary to open up a course for it? And further, does that
which is peculiar in a man signify, as a matter of course, that he is an
individuality with some sort of value?--and is it at once capable of
forming a centre of life? How indefinite and how lacking in consistency
the psychical nature of man usually is! How much that is lofty and how
much that is mean, how much that is noble and how much that is vulgar,
is found here! Shall this chaos display itself and be extolled as an
individuality? In truth, an inner unity appertains to a genuine
individuality, and the ascertaining and realisation of this are not
simply a gift from nature, but a result of spiritual endeavour. To
attain to a genuine individuality requires an energetic concentration of
life; an overcoming of the spirit of indifference; a unifying of the
multiplicity of experience; often, also, a transcending of sharp
contradictions. How difficult it has been for even the most prominent
individualities--men such as Luther, Kant, Goethe--to find their true
selves, that is, the essence of their being, the aspect in which their
strength lay! How great a problem, and what an object of the keenest
conflict, their genuine individuality formed to them! How could a task
of such difficulty find fulfilment, and life a unification and
elevation, in superficial and fleeting mood? If in order to make men
independent individuals it sufficed to declare them so, we should indeed
be much further advanced than unfortunately is the case.

The new life ought not to be simply autonomous, independent and
individual, it should also be powerful and great. Is the mere evolution
and cultivation of sentiment able to give such power and greatness to an
unrestrained passivity? Of course, in its own estimation unrestrained
mood can raise itself high above the whole world, and so magnify the
supposed independence as to give rise to a feeling of supreme power; but
again, it is only a representation of power, a semblance of power, and
not a real power, that is reached. Mere mood and genuine power
constitute an irreconcilable antithesis. Attention to and cultivation of
sentiment may refine life; it will at the same time weaken and dissipate
it. Power develops and grows only in grappling with resistances, whether
they be outside or within one's own soul. Life will acquire a powerful
character only where an active spirituality is acknowledged, which,
drawing from its own nature, holds up standards and aims to the actual
condition of reality, especially to its own soul, and undertakes to
change this condition in accordance with the requirements set by these
standards and aims. Æsthetic Individualism, however, as we saw,
conceives of the spiritual life as chiefly receptive and contemplative;
as an appropriation, a mirroring and an enjoyment of an existent
reality. Thus for it the spiritual life might be closely connected with
this existent reality, indeed might be one with it; but at the same time
the view robs that life of the power of arousing and elevating, of
independent construction and secure advance.

An aristocratic character, the separation of an exoteric and an esoteric
sphere, has been distinctive of an æsthetic conception of life from
ancient times even until now. The fact appealed to in justification of
its assumption of this character is beyond doubt: it is that, not only
in art but in all spiritual creation, only few among those creating or
reproducing stand high; that genuine creation always comes about in
opposition to the mediocre; that if it identified itself with the
interests and conditions of the majority it would be deeply degraded,
indeed inwardly destroyed. But this is a contrast between spiritual
creation and human circumstances, not a division of humanity according
to two sets of circumstances; in truth, fewer of the really great than
of those great in their own estimation have boasted of greatness. For
the genuinely great have been occupied far too much by the demands of
their task, and been too deeply conscious of the inadequacy of human
capacity, to have been able to indulge in a reflection upon and a vain
enjoyment of themselves. The infinity of the task by which, rather than
by other men, they measured themselves made even the highest result
appear inadequate to them. It is necessary to Individualism to represent
the unmistakeable distinction between a culture that is genuinely
spiritual and one that is merely human, as a difference between two
classes of men; and it is only because it knows no objective restraint,
no inner necessities, and can measure men only with men, that it is able
to believe itself justified in looking down upon other men from its
standpoint--as though the mere profession of faith in its programme at
once effected an elevation of nature.

The undertaking to transform life completely into something of positive
value, suddenly and directly to advance to complete affirmation of life,
is associated with the desire for power. So far as this is simply a
desire to abandon an irresolute and narrow mode of thought, false
humiliation and self-belittlement, and mere accommodation to
circumstances in tasks where the beginning is difficult and calls for
great effort, we may frankly admit its justification. But the matter is
not so simple as it is represented in this train of thought. Ultimately
no spiritual movement which would win mankind can give up its claim to a
final affirmation of life. Even the most completely pessimistic systems,
systems of absolute negation--as, for example, the original
Buddhism--could not conquer wider areas without making that negative
milder and transforming it into an affirmative. But the question is
whether, after all that humanity has experienced and suffered, a quick
and immediate affirmation is possible; whether the way to a final
affirmation does not lead rather through an energetic negation. So long
as the restriction which life felt seemed to come from outside only,
and not to reach the inner recesses of the soul, as the prevailing mode
of thought in Antiquity represented the case to be, the decisive
rejection of all suffering, the proud armouring of the soul against all
pain, could be accepted as the crown of all virtues. In face, however,
of actual experience, Antiquity could not continue to hold such a
conviction. For good or for evil, it was compelled to regard suffering
as something more important and to occupy itself more with it, and,
until Christianity opened up new paths, it fell into the danger of
losing all vital energy. Whatever position one may take up with regard
to the dogma and the tendencies of Christianity, the fact cannot be
struck out of history that it has laid bare infinite perplexities in the
soul of man in regard to his relation to the world, and at the same time
has taken up suffering into the centre of life, not to perpetuate it,
but to rise above it by the revealing of a world of spirit and of love.
This has not made life easier, but more difficult; yet at the same time
it has made it greater, deeper, and more inwardly determined. Every
scheme of life which light-heartedly professes to be able to lead us
quickly over suffering and to cast it off proves itself to be
intolerably superficial, if not frivolous. Superficiality easily
triumphs over men and becomes their first opinion; men seem to welcome
first every way of thinking which makes life comfortable and presents no
demands of any sort. But the problems of our existence, and the longing
for genuine and not merely illusory happiness, remain, and in face of
the seriousness of these problems it soon proves to be fleeting and vain
to try to find satisfaction in that which is simply comfortable.

The case is no different in regard to Individualism and the problem of
morality. The value of an energetic opposition to laws of convention and
external etiquette is beyond question; but it should not be forgotten
that such a conflict has been carried on within the sphere of morality
and religion from ancient times; that in every age that which was
spiritually highest has forcibly withstood the efforts of men
illegitimately to claim absolute validity for their statutes and
tendencies. But Individualism commits the error of asserting that the
mean morality which is reached at the average level of humanity
constitutes the essence of morality, and in so doing excludes from
itself the feeling for everything great and deep which lies within
morality. With all its talk of greatness and breadth, Individualism
makes life narrow, since it leads man solely to the cultivation and
unfolding of his own passive states of consciousness, and permits the
pleasure-seeking _ego_ to draw everything to itself and hold it fast
there. Everything, however, which exists beyond his sphere it interprets
as a mere "other" world, and thus declares all submission to the object
for its own sake, all forgetfulness of self, all becoming more
comprehensive, and all renewal through genuine love, to be only
delusory. Further, in this system, in which natural impulse governs
everything, the conceptions of responsibility and guilt, and with this
the antithesis of good and evil, must be held to be the result of a
narrowly human way of thinking, as something which, though serving no
real purpose, still alarms men and overawes life. Yet through the
development of a spiritual activity which places it in a more inward and
free relation to reality, humanity has really advanced beyond the
position in which man acted as a part of mere nature. In this, too,
Christianity also marks a great advance; we have only to picture to
ourselves the life-work of Augustine in order to have a clear example of
the separation of a genuine morality, as the expression of a new world
based upon freedom, from the attention to and cultivation of natural
instincts. The greatest thinker of the Modern Age, Kant, has only
established this distinction in a newer form. In this connection
responsibility and guilt, as transcending nature, also become a witness
of greatness; they give expression to the fact that man is an
independent co-operator in the universe, and regards the world as in
some sense his own; to the fact that life does not simply happen to him,
but also through him. For, along with freedom and its world, the old
world of given existence remains and holds us fast, not merely
externally but inwardly also; life is a severe conflict between higher
and lower, between freedom and destiny. With so much that is complicated
and perplex, life must be regarded as in the highest degree unfinished.
But just because of this it involves an incalculable tension, and even
in its constraints and pains it leaves the self-preservation and the
welfare of the mere subject at a level far beneath itself. When,
therefore, Individualism, neglecting the movement of universal history,
wishes to limit us to this mere subject, and, effacing all dividing
lines, calls upon us to submit to every force which plays upon us, and
to enter into the glad enjoyment of life, there is really no difference
between this and advising a man, who has gone through the many and
difficult experiences of life, to throw to the winds all he has thus
gained, and to please himself again with the games of childhood.

The position is similar with regard to the relation of the spiritual and
the sensuous, as Individualism represents it. It is rightly opposed to
both a monkish asceticism and a conventional, feigned, low estimate of
the sensuous; it is indeed with good reason that Æsthetic Individualism
defends the right of the sensuous. But to give the sensuous its right
does not mean to permit it to be joined together in an undifferentiated
unity with the spiritual, as though it were of equal value. Naïve ages
were able to strive for a perfect balance of spiritual and sensuous;
but, with the increasing depth of the life of the soul, a division has
resulted which no toil and no art can simply remove again. Now,
therefore, either the spiritual will be dominant over the sensuous or
the sensuous over the spiritual. In Individualism, with its amalgamation
of the spiritual and the sensuous, by which all claim to spiritual
activity, and therefore to all independence of spiritual life, is given
up, the sensuous will inevitably dominate over the spiritual. The result
is simply a degeneration of the spiritual, a refined sensuousness; and
it is defenceless against an intrusion of vulgar pleasure. Will any one
seriously assert that we find ourselves to-day in a naïve position in
relation to sense?

In this respect, as in all others, the strength of Individualism lies
chiefly in criticism; its refined perception makes it especially capable
of apprehending clearly the errors of the traditional conceptions of
life. Its influence, however, suffers from the contradiction which it
involves, in that it purposes to solve the problems, to which only an
independent and self-determining spiritual life is equal, with the means
of sense experience. Such a spiritual life is to be attained only by
transcending this sense experience. Owing to the fact that Individualism
places its sole attention upon the surface of sense experience, its
aims, in themselves of the highest necessity, must be distorted and
grossly misrepresented. Independence, greatness, and certainty--ever
hovering before life--cannot be attained by Individualism in reality,
but only in picture and semblance. And it can lend to this appearance a
moderate power of conviction only because, just in the same way as the
other modern organisations of life, it enriches itself imperceptibly
from the same traditional modes of thought and of culture, in opposition
to which it stands, and of which the impelling motives are to it a
sealed book.

Thus, in truth, it does not offer mere and pure subjectivity, but
subjectivity on the basis of a rich life of culture, which it is itself
unable to produce, but without which it would lapse at once into
complete emptiness. The æsthetic-individualistic scheme of life proves
to be a phenomenon, accompanying a ripe, indeed an over-ripe, culture.
An independent culture, with its labour and its sacrifice, it is unable
to produce.

To reject Æsthetic Individualism means to attack modern art and its
service to life just as little as to reject Naturalism and Socialism is
to estimate meanly modern natural science and present social endeavour.
On the contrary, it may be said that, as Naturalism has no keener
antagonist than modern natural science, so modern art, with the energy
which is bestowed upon it and with its many-sided expansion of the soul,
stands not in agreement with but in opposition to Æsthetic
Individualism. For, indeed, a creative artist of the first rank has
never subscribed to a merely æsthetic conception of life. Still, however
much artistic endeavour and a merely æsthetic conception of the world
may be associated by the individual, in their nature they remain
differentiated, and no appreciation of art is able to justify the
æsthetic conception of life, which subjects all life to a contradiction;
works against life in striving to attain its own ends; neglects the
development through the centuries; and, instead of the substance hoped
for, offers only opinion and appearance. How can life find a support in



From the description that has been given of the modern systems of life,
we have seen that the Modern Age is by no means homogeneous, and that
the conception "modern" has more than one meaning. Culture, in
particular, has a character fundamentally different according as life
finds its basis on the one hand in something external to itself, in
nature, or in society, or on the other hand in the subjective states of
consciousness. But that a common striving is present in spite of every
difference, indeed of every antithesis, is proved by the energy with
which all deny and reject the older form of culture and its
transcendence of sense experience; by the vigour of the struggle against
that which is regarded by the more modern systems as mere phantasy and
deception, but which nevertheless continues to dominate social life. The
kinship of these systems extends, beyond a common acquiescence in a
negation, to a common affirmation. On all sides a thirst after a more
forceful reality, and a more imposing immediacy of life, is to be found.
Sense experience manifests itself throughout as fuller in content and
more plastic; and so the chief point of support is found within it, and,
though in different ways, the whole of life is organised from it. Still,
granted that this could be effected only in opposition to the
traditional conduct of life, the new is by no means desirous of
remaining in a state of mere opposition. It seeks rather to unite the
opposing elements to itself, to adapt them to itself, and to satisfy to
the fullest extent the ideal demands of human nature. It is an attempt
entirely to renew and completely to revolutionise life--a vast
undertaking! Whether it has succeeded, or whether it is still engaged in
bringing the attempt to a successful issue, is the problem that we had
to investigate.

As far as our chief question is concerned, our result was a decided
negative. True, much that is great and much that may not be lost again
has been achieved. The new systems of life have indeed appropriated
whole groups of facts; have invigorated whole groups with new powers;
have revealed new tasks of the most fruitful kind, not only in the
individual but also for the whole; and have given to life dominating
impulses and a powerful impetus. But all this becomes a doubtful gain,
indeed it threatens to become a loss, if particular experience and
achievement desire to govern the whole of life, and to impress upon it
their own peculiar stamp. Not only does life become intolerably
one-sided in such a case, but its wealth of experience is cut down in
order to fit it into the given framework. We also saw that a serious
inner inconsistency originates. For a long period this inconsistency may
be concealed, but where any great energy is present in life, it must
break forth with a disturbing force and become intolerable. Since the
modern systems regard the whole of life as arising from relation,
whether it be to the environment or to the subjective states of
consciousness, they must reduce everything inward and universal to the
level of a derived and secondary product; they must repudiate and oppose
an original and independent spirituality, a self-conscious inner world.
Such an inner spiritual experience has evolved through the whole of
history, and transcends all forms of life-organisation: it is impossible
to explain it away. The modern systems must themselves experience this.
For they could not possibly transform the abundance of diverse
appearances into an organised whole; they could not pass from universal
to universal, without presupposing and employing the same transcendent
and encompassing inner world, which directly they attack. At the same
time, however, they give to every factor of life a position and a depth
wholly inconsistent with what they are justified in doing with their own
mode of thought. They cannot perform their own tasks without drawing
incessantly upon another kind of reality, one richer and more
substantial. In truth, they are something other, and something far more
than they believe themselves to be. Does this not show, beyond
possibility of refutation, that they do not fill the whole of life?

The contradiction immanent in the modern systems of life is especially
apparent in the fact that they are unable to banish supersensual powers
and to limit life to sense experience, without attributing to sense
experience more content and more value than that which experience itself
justifies, and which, to be consistent, they should not overstep. The
naturalistic thinker ascribes unperceived to nature, which to him can be
only a co-existence of soulless elements, an inner connection and a
living soul. Only thus can he revere it as a higher power, as a kind of
divinity; only thus can he pass from the fact of dependence to a
devotional surrender of his feelings. The socialist bases human society,
with its motives mixed with triviality and passion, on an invisible
community, an ideal humanity, which he clothes with the splendour of a
power and dignity that transfigures the immediate appearance of society.
It is only in this way that he is able to direct his whole effort upon
the welfare of mankind, and to expect a pure victory of reason within
its sphere. The individualist in his conception exalts the individual to
a height far more lofty than is justified by the individual as he is
found in experience; for his thought, the individual is far more
powerful and far more prominent and noble than immediate impressions
indicate. Only thus is he able, from the freedom and the development of
the individual, to hope for the beginning of a new epoch.

In these newer systems of life the conception of reality as a whole is
also subjected to the same groundless and, likewise, false idealisation.
As in these systems nothing may be acknowledged which transcends sense
experience, there can be no universal which pervades and holds together
the manifold. This being the case, reality must be a co-existence of
single pieces; but no one will readily confess himself of this opinion.
A pantheism, vague to the highest degree, is therefore seized upon as a
cure-all, that man may have something which permeates and connects; but
of this something, however, all more detailed description is lacking,
and is carefully avoided. A conception so vague allows us at the same
time to think and not to think something; at the same time to affirm and
to deny. It seems to accomplish so much and to demand so little; it
makes the impossible possible; and offers the most convenient asylum to
all indefiniteness and confusion. It is a pity that in all this it is
not a reality that surrounds us, but a mere _fata morgana_ which
deceives. And a conception so vague is to displace religion and accord
support to the new life! Truly, this requires a stronger faith than that
with which the older religions were satisfied.

The modern systems of life desire a more forceful reality; in this they
set work an aim which cannot be rejected. The course they have entered
upon, however, does not bring them nearer to this aim, but rather
removes them further from it. Neither the self-evidence of the senses
nor the oscillation of mood can ever represent genuine reality to a
being who, for good or for evil, has once learned to think. Many and
varied impressions may come and go in sense experience; but their
abundance cannot prevent the chief conceptions, by which they are here
accompanied, from receiving a character abstract and vague in the
highest degree. We hear continually of the whole, of reason, of power,
of evolution; but all these conceptions have no stability and little
content; they are like shadows and phantoms which vanish as soon as we
wish to take hold of them. So, by an irony of fate, just those modes of
thought whose chief impulse was the desire for more reality dissipate,
dissolve reality. We see that the spiritual life may be denied by the
individual, but not driven from the work of culture. It is true that
immediate experience, outer and inner, has become much more to the
present age than it was to earlier ages; but it has become so only
through spiritual endeavour. If, therefore, the Modern Age now turns
definitely against this spiritual activity, to rob it of all
independence, it destroys that which first gave it its own power.

The modern systems of life have raised the standard of human existence
enormously in regard to power and content; but they have done this at
the cost of its spiritual concreteness. They have suppressed the life of
inner spiritual experience and denied the problems of man's inner
nature. They know of no grappling of man either with the infinite or
with his own nature; they recognise no conflict between freedom and
fate, and no inner development of the soul. And all this because their
view of life as a whole takes away all depth, and transforms existence
into a mere series of appearances. Thus, for anyone who regards such
depth as the basis of life, and who, therefore, will not reject the
experience and the result of the work of universal history, it becomes a
necessity to reject and oppose the modern systems as guides of life. The
more explicitly and exclusively they are presented, the more decided
must his opposition be. For, what shall all the gain on the
circumference of life profit man if through attention to that the centre
of his life becomes empty and weak, if there emerges no content and no
meaning in life itself? What is the value of all the advancing and
refining of human existence if it does not bring with it a genuine
spiritual culture and an inward elevation of mankind?

The increasing experience and perception of such limitations in the new
may lead men to give more attention again to the old. The striving to
transcend mere sense experience can no longer appear as a mere flight
into an "other" world of dreams, or as due to a feeble and cowardly
disposition; it may now be admitted rather as a deeply rooted endeavour
to reach greater depths of life. Yet such a relaxation of the opposition
to the old, and such an inclination to estimate it more highly, by no
means justifies us in simply taking it up again in the form in which it
lies before us. For to this not merely the modern system of life, but
the whole development of life and work, is opposed. The contradictions
and doubts which have grown up in the course of this development are not
in the least overcome by the failure of the modern systems of life. For
we do not find ourselves confronted here with an "either--or," in which
the invalidity of the one alternative immediately establishes the
validity of the other; but both may be inadequate. So we remain
surrounded by the old and the new, under powerful influences from both,
but not in a position to accept either the one or the other exclusively.


This situation, with its juxtaposition of the new and the old, is so
full of confusion and perplexity that only a feeble disposition is
capable of acquiescing in it. In the old we respect or surmise a depth;
but this depth does not know how to give itself a form suitable to the
present, or to influence us with the means available in our own time.
The new directs all our attention to the immediate present and fills us
with its intuitions; but this present becomes superficial to us, and
with increasing power a desire for more substance and soul in life rises
up in opposition to it. The old lifted us to the proud height of a new
world, but this height showed signs of becoming severed from the rest of
existence, and lapsed therefore into a state of painful insecurity. The
new builds up from the experience of sense, but it finds no conclusion
without going beyond this experience and thus contradicting itself. The
old regarded the spiritual life of man, if not man himself, as occupying
the centre of all and thereby fell into the danger of a hastened
conclusion and of an anthropomorphic conception of reality. The new
takes from man every position by which he is especially distinguished,
and ignores all connection with ultimate depths, but in so doing it
overthrows more than it intends; it undermines nothing less than the
possibility of all spiritual work, all science, all culture.

And so we find ourselves in the midst of contradictions, drawn first in
one direction, then in another: that we are at a crisis in life as a
whole and in culture, that we are in state of spiritual need, cannot
fail to be recognised. This crisis is made all the more acute through
the peculiarity of the historical circumstances which have led up to it
and the social conditions which surround us. Historically, we are under
the influences of two cultures: one older, which up to the seventeenth
century was in undisputed supremacy and which has asserted its authority
up to the present day, especially in regard to the arrangements of
social life; and one newer, which, after the influence of many varied
preliminary tendencies, has arisen since that time with the energy of
youth, and which, in the minds of individuals, has easily become the
dominant power. The two cultures had different starting-points and
followed different main courses. The old culture carried within itself
the experiences of Greek life, the inner progress of which may be seen
especially in the development of its philosophy. In the old culture
endeavour was driven more and more beyond the world of sense to a world
of thought, in which it went on from a universal to an ethical and
ultimately to a religious conviction. To the thought of Greece, as she
grew old, the world of sense experience sank more and more in reality
and value, and life found its basis and chief realm of experience in a
region transcending sense. Christianity definitely established this view
of life, and made the invisible Kingdom of God the true home of man, the
most immediate and the most secure that this life knows.

New peoples then grew up in this way of thinking; peoples who still had
their work before them; to these, the break with the world of sense came
more as the imposition of an overpowering authority than as due to
their own experience. This fact constituted a point of weakness in every
way; but no serious complication arose so long as these peoples were not
yet ripe for spiritual independence. As soon, however, as this was the
case, it was inevitable that contradictions should manifest themselves,
and that a newly awakened impulse should urge the movement into an
entirely opposite direction.

That is what really happened; the main tendency of life is now directed
just as much upon the world as earlier it went beyond it; it has been
transferred from the invisible to the visible, from the supernatural to
the natural. We see this most clearly in the case of religion, which, as
though with immanent necessity, runs through the sequence of a
predominant transcendent Theism, a Panentheism, a Pantheism--gradually
becoming colourless--an Agnosticism, and a Positivism. Everything
supernatural disappears from thought, and life is concerned solely with
sense experience. Thus, finally, we appear to have arrived at the same
point as that from which the Greeks started out: the Monism of the most
modern coining, for example, is hardly to be distinguished from the
Hylozoism of the ancient Ionian thinkers. But is the whole result of the
movement of universal history really only a deception? Has it simply
brought us back again, from the false paths that we have tried, without
according us any kind of positive profit whatever? We have become men of
another kind; we think and feel differently; we have built up a rich
culture, have transformed the world, have created a spiritual
atmosphere; and we are capable of striving after infinite life and
ultimate truth. Could all of this spring out of mere error? If that were
so, should we not be compelled to reject the whole of this as phantasy
and deception? But if the error was a means and an instrument in the
attainment of truth, and if mankind in its going out from itself and in
its return to itself is inwardly developed, where does the boundary
between truth and error lie, and what is the meaning of the whole? So
here again we lapse into uncertainty; history, to other ages a secure
support, leads us into still greater doubt.

Finally, we must add to this crisis of culture the onward march of the
social movement, which continually increases in power; the passionate
longing of ever-growing groups of men for immediate participation in
culture and the joys of life. Such movements may accomplish themselves
within a fixed and acknowledged sphere of culture and of life; what
changes they then bring lie within this sphere; they do not place the
whole in question. Thus, the democratic movements of the fifteenth and
sixteenth centuries left certain principles of religious conviction
untouched; they left the conception of the world entirely unchanged. But
the matter is quite otherwise when a movement of this kind comes in
contact with a culture which is inwardly unstable and which is growing
uncertain concerning its final aims. We cannot fail to recognise what a
great danger of degeneration there is under such circumstances. The
masses, thus struggling upward, then seek their own way of life, and in
so doing they naturally concentrate their attention upon that which lies
immediately before their eyes and affects their immediate well-being.
From this position they will advance all the more quickly to a certain
conclusion, in that they are unconcerned with the experiences and
perplexities of the work of universal history, and therefore, with
unclouded enthusiasm, expect complete truth and pure happiness from
freer exercise of their powers and the rejection of all authority. If we
wish to ignore the dangers to culture which thus grow up, we must either
estimate man as he is too highly, or spiritual tasks too meanly. Until
the present, an independent spiritual life, making man more
comprehensive in being, raising and freeing him, has manifested itself
only at individual points; in the first place in chosen individuals,
from whom it has been conveyed to the common life. The spiritual world
made its appearance as a power superior to the interests and the
opinions of individuals and of the masses. Only in such transcendence of
the merely human did it develop any characteristic content, find an
inner unity, arouse respect, and lead man beyond mere nature. If all
this should now become different, if man in the mass should come to feel
himself to be the measure of all things, and should relate all to his
perception as the centre of infinity, would not a severe contradiction
arise between human enterprise and spiritual necessity, and would not
the full development of this opposition threaten the whole state of
culture with a violent convulsion? Ultimately the inner necessities of
our being would certainly win the day against all errors of
superficiality, but what severe conflicts and losses the division must

The consideration of all these facts reveals us under the power of
different, indeed antagonistic, movements, and most especially in the
midst of the great struggle for supremacy between the visible and
invisible world, as the conflict between Positivism and Idealism gives
expression to it. Life for us contains two movements, one of which
starts from the centre and the other from the circumference; the former
cannot embrace the fullness of reality, and its basis is also insecure;
the latter gives no inner unity to life and lowers the standard of the
whole. As each of these main tendencies again divides, movements the
most varied surround us, tear us asunder, and crush our souls under
their oppositions. God and reason have become uncertain to us, and the
substitutes that are offered--nature, society, the individual--fail to
satisfy us. The unrest and uncertainty that arise from this are not
limited to a single sphere, they extend to the ultimate basal principles
of life. The new mode of thought declares the chief world of the
ancients to be a delusion; but we saw its own world dissolved in shadows
and schemes by spiritual activity. Since the one dissolves the reality
of the other, we are threatened with the loss of all definite results;
our own being becomes a dark problem to us; we know neither what we are
nor what we are not.

The impression that we get of the condition of the present as a whole
may also be represented in the following manner: the historical
movement of humanity unfolds an incalculable wealth of life; this life,
however, cannot reach its own highest point and cannot win a character
of a spiritual kind unless it organises itself into a whole, unless it
attains an inner synthesis transcending all isolated states. Such
syntheses have been realised, and have led to distinctive organisations
of life; but these organisations have all proved to be too insignificant
and too narrow, and none has been able to overcome the rest and to
embrace the whole wealth of life. So life as a whole has broken them
down; and since it has thus lost all inner structure, it must inevitably
fall into a state of rapid degeneration, and must threaten to lose all
content and meaning.

The evil effects on the development of life that are caused by this
convulsion and division, and by the lack of a dominant tendency; how
this condition leads to the destruction of everything simple and
self-evident, and lends to an unrestrained reflection an unwarrantable
power; how it robs endeavour of all its main tendencies, and permits
true and untrue, good and evil, to run confusedly together, all this and
much else is to-day so much and so widely discussed, and presents itself
with such overpowering clearness to our vision, that its description
need not detain us even for a moment.

Ought we to submit to this disintegration and degradation of life as to
an inevitable destiny, or is it possible to work against it and to
strive after a unity transcending the division? The fact that the
division makes so strong an impression on us and that we feel it to be
so intolerable is at once in favour of the latter alternative. How could
this experience be possible if all multiplicity did not fall within a
comprehensive whole of life--if our nature were not superior to the
oppositions and did not drive us compulsorily to seek a unity? The life
which, in distinct contrast to decaying Antiquity, flows through our age
in a powerful, ceaselessly swelling flood; the unwearied activity of
this age; the excellence of its work; its passionate longing for more
happiness and fullness of life, all forbids a hasty and light
renunciation. It is true that there are hard contradictions, and that
spiritual power is at present not equal to cope with them; but this
power is not a given and fixed magnitude: it is capable of an
incalculable increase. Thus we ought not to be too ready to assert that
the limitations of the age are identical with the bounds of humanity,
and we ought not faint-heartedly to discontinue the struggle for a unity
and a meaning in life.

This problem cannot be acknowledged without at the same time being
admitted as the most important and the most urgent of all problems. For,
on the decision concerning the whole, that concerning the spiritual
character of life depends, and, as this character extends through the
whole of life, every single matter will be differently decided according
to the decision concerning the whole. Only purely technical and merely
formal matters of work may remain unaffected by the problem, but
wherever a content comes into question it will at once arise and
manifest its urgency. This problem, therefore, will not suffer itself to
be thrust into the background; we can neither dally with it nor turn
aside from it. The individual, indeed, in his sphere of free decision
and of independent action can withdraw himself from the question, but he
can do so only at the price of the debasement of the quality of his
life, only in that, from an independent co-operator in the building up
of the ages, he becomes a dependent under-worker.


Only a few words are now necessary to come to a more definite
understanding concerning the form of the problem, which, with compelling
force, rises into prominence out of all this complexity. Where the
convulsion is such a fundamental and universal one as it shows itself to
us to be, it is of the first importance to rise above the existing
chaos, and to avoid all that which, even indirectly, would lead us back
to it. Many of the aids which would-be healers of the time's evils
recommend with vigour therefore need not be considered.

Every attempt to make a direct compromise between the different forms of
life, to appropriate eclectically this aspect from one and that aspect
from another, is inadequate. The view that none of the systems of life
could have won so much power over mankind without containing some kind
of truth, which may not be lost, has, to be sure, a good deal of truth
in it. It is first necessary, however, to attain a position from which
this truth in each case may be ascertained and rightly appreciated; and
we can only reach such a position in opposition to the confusion which
surrounds us.

A recourse to history and an adherence to a high achievement of the past
promise just as little help. One thing is certain: history cannot be
eliminated from our life; its highest achievements invite us to consider
them again and again. But what is to be accepted by us as "high,"
indeed, what as "spiritual" history, is not at all definite without
further consideration. It is what is esteemed in our own conviction as
true and great which decides in this matter. We look at history from the
position of the present and with the spirit of the present. If,
therefore, as we saw, the present has fallen inwardly into a state of
complete uncertainty and doubt, our consideration of history must be
affected in the same way; and, of course, not its external data, but its
inner spiritual content and meaning must be made uncertain. At the same
time, we cannot fail to recognise that in reference to the central
problem with which we are concerned, the present situation is quite
peculiar, and lacks historical parallel. Sharp contrasts have always
been found in human experience; and in transitional periods in history
they have been felt with painful acuteness. But never did they so extend
over the whole of life and so deeply affect fundamentals; never was
there so much uncertainty with regard to what should be the main
direction of endeavour, and the meaning of all human existence and man's
relation to the universe, as in the present. Everything which to earlier
ages appeared an inviolable possession has become to us a problem. What
gain, therefore, in respect of the chief matter could a return to the
past bring? In his investigation of the far-off ages the scholar may for
a time forget the present: the attitude of mind which may result in
bringing him fame for his work would be dangerous and destructive as a
disposition of the whole of mankind. For we cannot treat that which is
foreign to our nature as something of our own, without losing our
distinctive character and degrading our own life to one of mere

Further, it has become impossible to strive for the ideal by selecting
from the realm of experience a single point and treating it as an
archimedean point, as absolutely fixed, and shaping our life from it.
Descartes attempted to do this with his "I think," and Kant with his "I
ought." But it is very doubtful whether there is an archimedean point in
man; whether to make such an assumption is not to over-estimate man. The
experience of history shows further that that which some have taken as
absolutely primary and axiomatic has been regarded by others as
derivative, and has been explained in an entirely different manner. The
presentationalist does not deny the actuality of thought, or the
naturalistic thinker conscience; but he understands it as a subsidiary
phenomenon, and therefore can find no support in it. How then can that
overcome all doubt which itself calls forth serious doubt?

A whole sphere can be withdrawn from the confusion and used to overcome
it just as little as can a single leading point. For the uncertainty
with regard to the whole extends far into every individual sphere; and
such a sphere may appear, to one in one way, and to another in another.

Science is not infrequently treated as though it were enthroned on high,
supreme above all the struggles and the doubts of existence, and as
though, from its sovereign capacity, it were able to give a secure
content of truth to life. It is true that science has much in its forms
and in its work which is not the subject of dispute; but that with which
we are here concerned--its intrinsic value, its spiritual character, and
its place in life as a whole--is by no means a matter beyond dispute. As
a matter of fact, every system of life has its own assertion in
reference to this problem: to each to know signifies something different
and is capable of something different. Whoever decides for one of these
assertions concerning the nature of knowing has at the same time made a
decision concerning the systems of life. He stands not outside, but in
the midst, of the struggle. The same thing holds good with regard to
morality, which is often welcomed as a secure refuge from the doubts of
science. For, however certain it may be that in this sphere also there
is no difference of opinion in respect of many things, as, for example,
concerning the goodness or badness of certain types of conduct, still,
the more we come to be concerned with principles the more do problems
arise. In the immediate present the fact is most unmistakably clear that
in this field also the fight does not rage around the interpretation of
a given and acknowledged fact, but around the fact itself. What a
different purport and meaning morality has in the systems of Religion,
Immanent Idealism, Naturalism, Socialism, and Individualism

Finally, the attempt to give to life stability and peace by turning to
the subject, to personality, as to a point removed from all perplexity,
also fails. We should be the last to place a low estimate upon
personality, but the conception receives its meaning and value only in
its spiritual connections, and without these it soon becomes nothing
more than a mere term, which blurs and blunts the great antithesis of
existence. If that which is called personality exists as a merely
individual point by the side of things, then we can never discover how
occupation with things is capable of transforming life as a whole. If,
however, in this activity we should win an inward relation to infinity
and a spontaneity of life, then this admission involves a confession
concerning reality as a whole which can never be justified by a theory
which regards the mere individual as the starting-point. That the idea
of personality implies a problem rather than a fact is indicated by the
different conceptions of it which we meet in the different systems of
life. In considering personality, Religion thinks of the immediate
relation of the soul to God; Immanent Idealism, of the presence of the
infinite at the individual point; Individualism, of the supremacy of the
free subject over against the social environment. It is only by reason
of the common terminology that we fail to recognise how great the
differences are in the thought on the matter; how that which one regards
as of value in personality is severely attacked by another.

All these attempts therefore prove to be inadequate because they lead
back to the state of uncertainty they were meant to overcome. To reject
them, however, involves us in a certain assertion, which to some extent
points out the main direction which further investigation must follow.
No external compromise can help us, but only the winning of a
transcendent position which is capable of giving to each factor its
right without reduction; no flight into history can lead us to the
truth, but only an activity of the present, not, however, of the present
of the mere moment, but which embraces the work of universal history; no
placing a single point or sphere into a supreme and all-dominant
position can help us to overcome division, but only a conflict for a new
whole; no mere turning to personality is of value before a sure basis is
given to it from the whole! All leads us to this conclusion: we must
strive for a new system of life. And to achieve this is not impossible,
for, as we saw, a system of life is not imposed upon us by fate, but
must arise from our own activity. If the systems which have previously
been formed no longer satisfy, why cannot mankind evolve others? Or is
it proved that the existent forms exhaust all possibilities? A too
narrow conception of life was seen to be a common defect of all these
systems; its richness broke through the attempted unifications, and with
this they fell into irreconcilable contradiction. Should not a synthesis
be possible which would do more justice to the whole extent of life;
which need not deny and exclude so much; and which might also unite what
at first seems absolutely contradictory? Doubtless such a synthesis
would not be achieved all at once; it is inevitable that growing life
should involve many discords and movements within itself. Yet this
synthesis would present itself at least in a manner similar to that of
the extant systems; and, since it strives after something human, it must
always be mindful of its limits.

Should such a universal synthesis be at all possible, it must certainly
be something which is to be found and disclosed rather than something
which simply is to be produced from ourselves. How could we hope to
advance to it if it were not somehow involved in the depth of our being,
and in our fundamental relation to the world, and if it did not already
exist here in some way? It is a matter, therefore, of arousing to fuller
independence and at the same time of raising inwardly something which
exists within us; of recognising something new and even astonishing in
the old and the supposedly self-evident, so that the truth of the
universe may become our truth and give power to our life.

A task of this kind is a matter of the whole soul and not merely of the
understanding; it is a concern of humanity, not of the individual alone.
Of that which the single individual may contribute towards the
attainment of the aim it is hardly possible to think humbly enough. And
yet each has to use his power to the best of his ability; if in cases of
great necessity and of ill-fortune in matters of an external kind the
individual considers it only right to hasten to help, how could he
withdraw himself where the task is the satisfying of a spiritual need
of mankind? Still less than in the former case is he able to disregard
the matter as something alien and indifferent to himself. For, in the
struggle for the whole, he fights at the same time for the unity of his
own being, for a meaning for his own life.




Our inquiry ended in a definite negation; it showed the present
condition of things to be marked by severe internal conflict and in
danger of dissolution from within. Many movements of thought and life
cross, disturb, limit, and oppose one another. Since what to one seems a
wholesome truth seems to another pernicious error, all inner community
of life disappears, and with it all firmness of conviction and joy of
creative activity. The more these conflicting tendencies develop the
more do they crush and destroy all the traditional elements of our life;
the more are the spiritual contents and goods, which the necessities of
life compel us to adhere to, deprived of their basis in the depths of
the soul. The confusion which prevails in the present time, with its
continual change, its rapid alteration of circumstances, its power to
convey the most diverse impressions, its production of ever new
combinations, might even attract and entertain us if it were no more
than a drama. But if the confusion is more than this, if it includes our
destiny and is meant to signify the whole of our life, then, by reason
of its detrimental effects upon the whole of life and upon man's
inwardness, and by reason of its lack of content and soul, it must
completely fail to satisfy us, and must provoke an energetic resistance.
True, a condition of things so full of contradictions has also its
advantages; it accords to the activity of the individual the greatest
liberty and gives him a feeling of supremacy; its dissolution of
everything previously regarded as fixed enables uncontrolled feeling and
unstable mood to acquire power, and at one time to flatter man
pleasantly, and at another to carry him away impetuously. The
individual's attainment of freedom, however, gives as yet no content to
life; and the feeling of supremacy is as yet not a real supremacy. These
feelings and tendencies, which, within a wider whole of life, certainly
serve to add to its animation, inevitably lead to a state of vagueness
and emptiness when they put themselves forward as the whole. The
supposed aids which are offered us are no more than mere pretences; and
they become dangerous and harmful so far as they deceive us concerning
the seriousness and tension of the situation.

The feeling of tension was increased through the historical treatment
which accompanied our inquiry. For, from the point of view of history,
the present confusion shows itself to be not a temporary obscuring of an
indisputable truth, or a tendency on the part of man to become feeble
and weary in the appropriation of such a truth, but to involve in doubt
the basal nature of truth itself: the meaning of our life as a whole was
seen to have fallen into uncertainty. The systems of thought, in the
light of which we have hitherto regarded reality and steered the
oncoming flood of appearances, have broken up and dissolved. We have
become defenceless in face of the impressions of the environment which
affect us with increasing force, and impel us now in one direction, now
in another. It is not simply this or that aspect in human existence, but
the whole of man's nature which has become problematical in this
dissolution. Formerly, the chief result of the effort of universal
history had seemed to be that man rises more and more above nature and
builds for himself a realm with new contents and new values. Now, the
desire to be something higher than nature appears to be a bold
presumption; the idea that man has a special position is ably contested,
and every distinctive task is denied him. Man appears to be far too
insignificant and to possess far too little freedom to be able to take
up arms against the world and to obtain the mastery of it. Doubts such
as these are all the more painful because they are the result of our own
work; in that we toiled, investigated, and pressed forward, we
undermined the foundations of our own life; our work has turned with
destroying power against ourselves. With the increase of external
results, life as a whole has become increasingly hollow; it has no
longer an organising and governing centre. Is it to be wondered at if
the finer spirits of our age are weary, disheartened, and repelled by
the feeling of the disharmony of the whole of present culture, which
calls for so much effort from man and yields him so little genuine
happiness; speaks of truth and lives from semblance and pretence;
assumes an imposing mien and utterly fails to satisfy when confronted
with ultimate problems? Is not the power of attraction, which the figure
of St. Francis of Assisi was recently able to acquire, an eloquent
witness to the reality of the longing for more plainness and simplicity
in life? And yet we cannot take up again the position occupied by an
earlier age; we cannot take up a past phase unchanged. No return to the
conditions of the past can bring satisfaction to the spiritual needs of
the present, for a device of this kind always leads by a detour back
again to the starting-point. Ultimately, it is from ourselves alone that
help can come; and we can have recourse to no means other than those of
the living present.

First of all, our state of necessity must be admitted to the full, and
the danger of a further degeneration of life in respect of its spiritual
nature adequately estimated. It is always a gain to obtain a clear idea
of the condition of the matter in question and to grasp the problem as a
whole. For, through this, we are saved not only from illusions leading
to error, but also from the authority of the mere present and from a
feeling of anxiety and fear in the presence of contemporary opinion. If
this age is in a state of such uncertainty; if it achieves so little for
that which concerns the foundations of our spiritual existence, then
neither its agreement can impress us, nor its opposition appal us; but
the endeavour to make life firm again can seek confidently what is
needful for it, and, with care in regard to what it shall affirm and
deny, can follow the way which its own necessities point out.

One fact in particular must tend to increase our confidence in this
endeavour: the fact, namely, that a negative result, which proceeds from
our own work, cannot be a mere negation, but must contain an affirmative
element within it. From what reason could the traditional systems of
life have become inadequate to man other than that they do not satisfy a
demand that we ourselves make upon them, and must make upon them? It is
plain that we need and seek more than we possess, and this seeking
betrays that our being is wider or deeper than was assumed in those
systems. Why did each of the different systems become inadequate, unless
it was that life itself rejected as too narrow the standard involved in
them? Why was it impossible to regard the different systems as having a
certain validity, to allow them to continue side by side, and divide our
existence amongst them, if not because we cannot possibly give up all
claim to an inner unity? If, then, the present confusion is rooted in a
wrong relation between our desire and our achievement, we need not
faint-heartedly surrender ourselves to it. It is plain that there is
something higher in us, which we have to arouse to life and realise to
its fullest extent. We may be confident that the necessity of our being,
which gave rise to the desire, will also reveal some way by which it may
be satisfied.

A closer consideration of the results of our inquiry leaves no doubt
with regard to the direction which research has to take to accomplish
its task. Diverse, fundamentally different systems passed in review
before us; each came forward as the unadorned and true expression of a
reality that seemed common to them all; their struggle appeared to be a
conflict concerning the interpretation of this reality. It became
evident, however, that the conflict is, on the contrary, in regard not
to the interpretation but the fundamental nature of reality; different
realities arise which are irreconcilably opposed. The systems do not
originate in a common and secure basis: the basis itself is sought, and
may assume various forms. The conflict therefore is much more over
ultimate problems than is usually supposed; it arises primarily out of
the nature of life itself, out of the inner movement which advances
against the illimitable world around us, and seeks to gain the mastery
over it. Our life and our world acquire a definite character only by our
taking up such a movement of counteraction, the particular nature of
which decides over all further moulding of life. We have seen that when
we ourselves became active we took up and emphasised one of the
possibilities which lie within the range of our life, and held it as
supreme over all the rest; we took as the fundamental relation one of
the relations of which our life is capable, as, for example, the
relation to God, to the immanent reason of the universe, to nature, to
society, to one's own individuality. A particular sphere of life was
thus marked out; a scheme of life was yielded which appeared capable of
taking up all experience into itself: according to the starting-point
adopted, we sketched a distinctive outline and sought to include the
whole content of human industry, man's universe of work--as we might
call it--in order to lead to our own perfection. This scheme, assumed to
be true, then had to show what it was capable of; a powerful effort was
brought forth to overcome the resistance of a world which, even when it
was grasped from within, still remained alien to our nature; and,
ultimately, to form the whole into a unity. We were not, as it were, an
empty vessel into which a content flows from outside, but we generated
from within a movement which went onward and onward, and desired to take
up everything in itself; it was a matter of radically transforming the
external into an inner life. We could succeed in this only in that life
self-consciously pressed forward to win new powers; formed connections,
branches, and graduations; accomplished an inner construction; and with
progressive self-elevation became an all-inclusive whole, which did not
possess a reality by the side of itself, but itself became complete
reality. Thus, life took possession of the world only in that it widened
itself from within to the world, and, in the appropriation of
everything alien to it, advanced from the original outline to full

According to the results of our inquiry, the chief decision in the
struggle with regard to the nature of the world also depends upon our
type of life. We convinced ourselves that there was no conception of
life common to the different systems, but that from its starting-point,
throughout its whole development, each of them shaped life differently
from the others; and we saw that the differences even went as far as
complete opposition. Each system of life had its own kind of experience;
each formed its own instruments for the appropriation of the world; each
saw of the infinite that in particular which corresponded to the main
direction of its own movement. A consideration of all the facts makes it
quite clear that a decision depends neither upon externals nor upon the
individual, but upon the inner life and the whole; and further, that
cognition does not give a solution to the problems of life, but that
life itself has to reach a solution through its own organisation and
construction, its own advance and creative activity.

However, that which was the compelling and deciding power in the systems
of the present day--the struggle for life itself--has not attained to
complete recognition in them. Rather, they were too quick to begin to
occupy themselves with objects, and sought to show themselves superior
in this respect to their rivals; the attention to results prevented the
correct appreciation and estimation of experience itself. The
impossibility of coming to an agreement concerning the object then
forced us back to the life-process; and we were led to the view that the
object appeared different because we ourselves placed something
different into it, and that we saw less the object itself than ourselves
and our life in the object. Thus we were induced to place our attention
chiefly on the subject; but then there was a strong tendency to leave
the world outside as a special realm; and the division of work between
subject and object drove us still further into uncertainty. In the
midst of such confusion, we did not come to the point of making a
decision; we did not attain the position from which alone an agreement
is possible; at one time one system, at another time another carried us
away. We failed to recognise that, however much we come into contact
externally, we live spiritually in separate worlds; that, while using
the same expressions, we speak different languages, and therefore cannot
possibly understand one another.

The gain is by no means an insignificant one, and a distinctive
treatment arises, if we become clearly conscious of the fact that the
shaping of the process of life itself is the chief object of conflict;
that the movement is not one between world and life, but lies entirely
within life; and that the essential matter is the perfecting of life
itself. The recognition of this fact leads us to an immanent mode of
treatment that has many advantages. The facts involved are now seen to
lie deeper. The source of experiences is not so much the relation to the
environment as the movement and expansion of life itself. Striving and
conduct may now involve a certain concreteness; indeed, the actual
experiencing of limitations and negations may lead to an elevation above
them. The type of life does not seek to justify itself, to show its
truth, through harmony with an external world; it is justified by its
own advance, its increase in strength, and its upward growth. It is only
a justification of this kind, a justification within its own realm, that
can acquire a power to convince and to restore again to life that
concreteness of which, in opposition to the excess of unrestrained
reflection and vague feeling, it is to-day in the direst need. If we
desire to arise above this state of division, and to attain a greater
unity, we can achieve our aim only by the power of an inner unification
of our life.

Instead, therefore, of considering the internal from the point of view
of the external, we must consider the external from the point of view of
the internal; our knowledge must be essentially a knowledge of self, our
experience an experience of self, if we would come any nearer to the
attainment of the aim. Our inner nature is not given to us as something
complete; it has first to be aroused to life and developed; we need to
attain to a state of self-determining activity if we would reach the
highest that we are capable of. From the recognition of the necessity of
greater activity, and of seeking the roots of the problem at greater
depths, we become aware of a new relation of thought to life. Although
thought may involve certain fundamental forms, and may adhere to them in
all its activity, it is life in its totality, as we understand it, which
first gives to thought its more detailed form, a characteristic nature,
clear aims and sure tendencies. Thought, therefore, is inseparable from
the movement and the advance of life; all hope of progress rests on the
hope of a further deepening of life; a revealing of new relations, and a
development of new powers. It is not from mere knowledge, but only from
the movement of life as a whole that we can make any advance; but the
life here referred to is one that includes knowledge, and not one that
takes up a position independent of knowledge, and, in opposition to it,
bases itself on supposed practical needs.

A treatment such as the one we have indicated has to be followed in the
investigation upon which we are about to enter. The chief aim of this
investigation is to reveal and to call forth life; it is not its chief
aim to interpret life in conceptual terms. It is from this position,
therefore, that we ask the question--which the conflict of the different
systems of life forced upon us--whether a unity transcending the
oppositions exists in us and can be aroused to life through our
self-determining activity. It is from this position also that we ask the
further question--which springs out of the struggle between the older
and the newer modes of thought--whether ultimately man must give up the
superior position which from early times he has adjudged himself, or
whether an inner elevation is possible which gives him the power to cope
with new tasks and new conditions. Whether such a treatment leads to a
positive result is a question of fact; and what the answer to this is
cannot be decided by a preliminary consideration, but only by the actual



The most expeditious way of arriving at a comprehensive conception of
human life is to begin with the impression which we get of it as a
whole; ascertain what problems arise from this, and seek to make what
headway we can in solving them until we reach a stage where the
necessity of a particular assertion becomes apparent. From the outset,
however, the attention will be centred chiefly upon that which
differentiates human life from other forms of life existing within our
knowledge; it is from a consideration of this that we shall most readily
see the whole in its proper light.


No one doubts that human life forms the highest point of development
that comes within our experience; that it is in some way more than mere
animal life. But what it is that is characteristic in human life as
distinct from animal life, and how it is to be interpreted, is a matter
of dispute. From the earliest times there has been a great diversity of
opinion and conviction concerning this matter, and absolutely
contradictory views have been maintained. Some thinkers have believed it
possible to regard human life, in spite of its uniqueness, as
essentially the same as that of the animal, and to trace back all
difference to a difference in the quantity of the fundamental nature
which they all possess; these thinkers did not concern themselves with
presenting the higher as developed from the lower by a gradual growth.
Others, on the contrary, regarded human life as something essentially
new and in its very nature distinct--the beginning of another kind of
world--and denied to the uttermost a derivation from lower forms; these
held it to be impossible to avoid the recognition of a break between
animal and human life. According to which of these positions was
accepted, life obtained a fundamentally different prospect and a
fundamentally different task; activity necessarily had different aims
and sought different paths; the conflict around this problem affected
the whole sphere of existence.

As a result of the movements and experiences of the nineteenth century,
this conflict has entered upon a new stage. In earlier times the
decision had generally been made as a result of the immediate impression
of the civilised man who was conscious of his superiority; it did not
seem possible for him to lift himself far enough above his environment;
the life of his soul, through its distinctive spiritual character,
seemed to be as distinct from every impulse which nature exhibited as
the sky is distant from the earth. Science and art, morality and
religion were accepted as an original possession of man and as the power
which had dominated his life from the beginning. He appeared to be a
higher being; and to direct all thought and endeavour towards the
strengthening of the distinctively human was regarded as the chief
requirement of life.

The movements which have arisen in the Modern Age have led to a radical
change in our treatment of this question: this change is chiefly due to
science. Modern science breaks down the authority of the immediate
impression, and, in contrast with it, projects a new representation of
the world. Man is no longer looked upon as occupying a position of
lonely elevation, but is seen to be in the closest concatenation with
nature around him, and is regarded, finally, as a mere part of its
machinery. Many movements of thought tend toward this conclusion and
support one another. The physical relationship which exists between man
and the animals could not have been so clearly perceived, and traced
with such exactitude of detail by modern science had not the fixed
boundaries, which in our representation had hitherto divided the life of
the human soul from that of the animals, been abolished. The new view
was further supported by the results of a keener investigation into the
nature of psychical life, since in this investigation the traditional
conception was analysed into its individual constituents, and it was
sought to explain from their combinations even the highest spiritual
achievements. The result of this modification of ideas was that the
inner life of man was assimilated much more closely to nature than
before; the juxtaposition and the succession of occurrences gained in
significance; it was recognised that relations did not hold from the
beginning but are developed gradually. The forces and impulses which
were operative in this development seemed to have arisen from an actual
process of nature, without any co-operation of human caprice. Our
psychical life appeared to be nothing more than a continuation of
nature. The great divergence between the heights attained in experience,
and the theories that were formulated to account for them, caused no
misgivings because the idea of a gradual evolution during an indefinite
period of time was sufficient to bridge the widest gulf. At the same
time the conception of society allied itself with that of history and
lent its support to the general tendency. Every higher aspect of life
that was accepted formerly as a proof of a supernatural order now became
a witness to historico-social relationship and, with its new
interpretation, lost its old mysteriousness. All this was, of course,
only on the assumption that human life brings nothing essentially new
with it. Not the least doubt as to the validity of this assumption came
to those who entered upon this train of thought.

Thought was able to follow this course with the greater confidence
because it went hand in hand with a change in practical life. By reason
of the development of modern life, man's relations to the environment
have become increasingly significant to man. Modern industry and
physical science have led him from a preponderatingly contemplative
relation to his environment to an active one; infinite prospects have
been disclosed; the forces of nature have been pressed more and more
into the service of mankind. But even in the service which they render
man these forces have won a power over him, since with a determining
power they keep his activity and his thought bent upon themselves. The
material side of life has escaped from the mean estimation in which it
had previously been held, if not in the conduct of individuals, yet at
the height of spiritual culture: to the present age it has become the
indispensable basis of all development. The social movement, with its
summoning of the masses to complete participation in happiness and
culture, supports the tendency to estimate material goods more highly.
With the cessation of oppression and necessity, and with the increase of
material well-being, a general advance and an inner development of life
seem assured. The whole tendency which we have considered exhibits man
as solely and entirely a part of nature, even though nature may be
conceived of more broadly than it was formerly; and the life of the
society and of the individual as being determined by natural forces and
subject to natural laws. How, along with this tendency, the traditional
conception of the world has been completely transformed; how biology, in
the sense of natural science, has been taken as the leading point of
view for the explanation of life, it is unnecessary to follow further,
since our consideration of the naturalistic system of life has already
given us an insight into this matter.


But even after we had seen an older type of life disappear and a new one
with the power of youth rise up, gain mastery over souls, and transform
conditions, despite all its triumphs the new movement manifested
limitations--limitations which did not arouse the criticism of the
thinker, but with the compulsion of an actual power the opposition of
the developing life of mankind. That which we became aware of in this
connection will become even more clear to us, and impel us to seek for
new aims, if we now concentrate our attention upon the process of life
and follow it throughout its experiences.

There cannot be the least doubt that we belong to nature: no one can
fail to recognise that it penetrates deep into the life of the soul, and
to a marked extent impresses its own form upon that life: the boundary
therefore is not between man and nature, but within the soul of man
itself. But whether nature is able to claim the whole life of the soul,
or whether at some point there does not arise an insuperable opposition
to such a claim, is another question. Even the most zealous champion of
the claims of nature cannot deny that man achieves something
distinctive: we not only belong to nature, we also have knowledge of the
fact; and this knowledge is in itself sufficient to show that we are
more than nature. For in knowledge, be it in the first place however
meanly conceived, however much concerned with the simple representation
of external occurrences, there is a kind of life other than that which
is shown in the simultaneity and succession of events at the level of
nature. For it is a characteristic of knowledge that in it we hold the
single points present together and connect them into a chain; but how
could we do that without in some way rising above the mere succession
and surveying it from a transcendent point? In this survey we pass from
earlier to later, from later to earlier; and at the same time we are
able to hold the multiplicity together: there must be a unity of some
kind ruling within us; but the mechanism of nature can never produce
such a unity. A transcendence of nature therefore is already
accomplished in the process of thought, even when it only represents
nature, only displays it to our consciousness. Intellectual achievement,
however, is by no means exhausted in the representation of nature. The
development of a new scientific conception of nature sufficiently
demonstrates, as we saw reason to believe, that thought has far more
independence than such representation implies; that in arranging and
transforming phenomena it opposes itself to the environment. For the
scientific conception of nature is not offered to us immediately as
something complete; it has to be won from the naïve view with toil and
difficulty. In order to arrive at this scientific conception, thought
must have a position antecedent to the impressions, must become
conscious of itself, realise its own strength, and in its activity lead
from universal to universal. The work of thought is not simply
transitional: without its continuance that which has been gained would
be quickly lost. Mere existence gives to nature no present reality for
our thought and life. To follow the pathway to reality involves the
overthrow of manifold delusions; and this necessitates such a longing
for truth, and a power to gain truth, as only a thought, which
transcends the sense impression, can produce. Not only is transcendence
of nature demonstrated through the fact of the existence of thought with
such independence, thought also carries within its being unique demands,
measures the life of nature by their standard, and in that life
recognises limitations not simply on this side and that, but also in the
inner being of the whole. Thought cannot possibly be satisfied with the
state of things as they are presented; it desires to illuminate,
penetrate, and comprehend it; it asks "Whence?" and "Why?"--it insists
that events must have a meaning and be rational. And from this point of
view it feels the mere actuality of nature--which excites no opposition
within its own sphere--to be a painful limitation and constraint,
something dark and meaningless. To thought, a life which is swayed by
blind natural impulse must be inadequate, indeed intolerable. Similar
conflicts arise in other directions. Thought embraces a whole and
demands a whole; it cannot refrain from passing a judgment upon the
whole. If this treatment is applied by thought to nature, the
predominant concentration of life in the single individuals and their
juxtaposition will appear to be a serious defect; all the passionate
strivings of the individual beings cannot deceive us concerning the
inner emptiness of the whole. For in nature there is nothing that
experiences the whole of this movement as a whole; makes the experience
self-conscious and something of value in itself. In the movement of
nature everything individual is sacrificed; and there seems to be
nothing to which this sacrifice brings results which are experienced as
a good. The same holds good of a culture that resolves human social
relationship into a simple co-existence of individuals, regards them as
battling together in the struggle for existence, and believes all
progress of the whole to be dependent upon their ceaseless and pitiless
conflict. Even if such a conflict leads to further external results,
there is no spiritual product: the results are experienced by no one as
an inner gain. The indescribable meanness of this whole culture, swayed
as it is solely by the spirit of egoism; the slavish dependence to which
this culture condemns man; the rigour of the individualism that rules in
it, cannot possibly escape from the criticism of thought. Thought, in
transforming this condition of things into an experience--that is, in
making us conscious of it--at the same time makes it impossible for man
to accept it as final. Since it makes us more conscious of the
limitations of this state of life, thought demonstrates--and that
through this very consciousness of its limitations itself--that our
whole existence is not exhausted by that individualisation and
detachment, but that there is a tendency of some sort within us which
strives towards the unity of the whole.

Problems no less complex arise in relation to time. Looked at from the
point of view of nature, no inconsistency is felt in the fact that only
a short span of time is granted to the life of individuals; that they
come and go in most rapid succession. For here the individuals do not
rise to the consideration of anything beyond their own time; their
presentation and desire are exhausted in the present; they feel no
longing for a continuation of life. The position is radically changed
with the entrance of thought. Thought does not drift along with time: as
certainly as it strives to attain truth, it must rise above time and its
treatment must be timeless: a timeless validity appertains to truth, a
comprehension of things "under the form of eternity" (_sub specie
aeternitatis_). To a being who, in his thought, rises to comprehension
of experience from the point of view of the eternal, all temporal
limitation, and especially the short duration of human life, is a source
of surprise and a contradiction. The rapid sequence of generations, the
perpetual decay of all that impels us so forcibly to desire life and
holds us so firmly to it, seem to deprive our endeavour of all its
value, and give to the whole of existence a shadowy, phantom-like
character. Feelings of this kind have been aroused anew in our own time.
The restlessness of the activities of our civilisation and the lack of
real meaning in this civilisation, which to the present age seems to
constitute the whole of life, need only to be clearly and forcibly
comprehended by thought, and all its bustle and all its passion cannot
prevent the emergence of an acute feeling of its dream-like nature.

The feeling of the lack of reality and depth in the life of nature will
become the keener in proportion to the degree of independence thought
evolves. For the more thought finds its own basis in itself, the more
will it treat nature as an appearance, the more clearly will it
recognise that sense, with all its obviousness and palpability, does not
guarantee the possession of truth; for truth comes to us only through
thought. In thought, therefore, the world of nature loses its immediacy
and becomes a realm of appearances and phantoms.

A consideration of all the facts leads us to the result that a life
consisting solely of nature and intelligence involves an intolerable
inconsistency: form and content are sharply separated from each other;
thought is strong enough to disturb the sense of satisfaction with
nature, but is too weak to construct a new world in opposition to it.
Life is in a state of painful uncertainty, and man is a "Prometheus
bound" in that he must needs experience all the constraint and
meaninglessness of the life of nature, and must suffer therefrom an
increasing pain without being able to change this state in any way.

The experience of our time confirms this conclusion in no indefinite
manner. Since, with regard to the material and the technical, we have
attained heights never before reached, the bonds between us and our
environment have increased a thousandfold, and our work has united us
more closely with the world, we seem now for the first time to attain a
sure hold of reality. At the same time, however, the activity of
thought, and with it unrestrained reflection, have also increased
immeasurably in modern life. This reflection forbids all naïve
submission to the immediacy of nature; destroys all feeling of security;
and comes between us and our own soul, our own volition. We are thrown
back once more on to the world of sense, that we may seek in it a
support and a scope for our life and effort; and from the point of view
of this world the work of thought appears to be a formation of clouds.
But this formation persists; draws us back again to itself and, with all
its insubstantiality, proves strong enough to make us regard the
physical as appearance. Our life is divided into two parts which cannot
and will not coalesce. The emergence of a new life, which can do nothing
but comprehend the other in thought, and which, while it is indeed
capable of depreciating the other, cannot itself advance further, is
seen to involve a monstrous inconsistency.

If the union of nature and intelligence produces so much confusion, we
are inevitably led to ask whether man does not possess in himself more
than thought; whether thought is not rooted in a deeper and a more
comprehensive life, from which it derives its power. It is not necessary
that such a life should be manifest to us in all its completeness; we
shall also be compelled to acknowledge it as a fact even if in the first
place it has to struggle up in face of opposition; however, in its
development it must show distinctive contents and powers which could not
be the work of a subjective reflection. If there is a life and a
development of this kind, it will be necessary for us to comprehend it
in its various aspects and tendencies, and only when we have
accomplished this may we endeavour to obtain a representation of the

Now, developments of life which defy limitation by the mechanism of
nature and set a new kind of being in opposition to it do, in truth,
appear. We recognise such developments in the processes by which life
liberates itself from bondage to an individualism and its subjectivity,
and afterwards attains a self-conscious inwardness. We may consider both
these developments somewhat more in detail. So far as man belongs to
nature, his conduct is determined solely by the impulse to
self-preservation; every movement must either directly or indirectly
tend to the welfare of the individual; everything may be traced back to
what happens to the individuals. This by no means indicates a distinct
separation of man from his environment. For even the mechanism of nature
closely unites that which happens to the individual with that which
happens around him; the individual can progress only in so far as he is
united with others: he cannot advance his own well-being without
advancing that of others. Even in a "state of nature" man takes his
family, his nation, and the whole of humanity indeed, up into his
interests; and as this tendency is not bounded from without, but may be
immeasurably refined and extended in an indefinite number of directions,
it easily comes to appear that this involves an inner deliverance from
self, and that another is of value to us for his own sake. But it is no
more than an appearance; for with all the external agreement the inward
separation is far greater, and amounts to opposition. Within the limits
of nature we can certainly concern ourselves with something which is
only indirectly useful to us; but we can never be concerned with
anything which is devoid of all use to ourselves; we cannot take such a
direct interest in the welfare of others as will tend to our own
disadvantage. If experience gives evidence of such an activity and such
an interest, in so doing it demonstrates a transcendence of nature. Now,
experience does give such evidence, and indeed with irresistible
clearness. A witness to this is seen in the zeal with which man
habitually attempts to give to his struggles for mere self-preservation
a better appearance, a semblance of conduct performed out of genuine
regard for the interests of others. To what purpose all this trouble to
acquire such an appearance; for what reason this hypocrisy which
permeates the whole of human life; and whence this appearance itself if
we belong solely and entirely to nature? Further, whatever elements of
semblance there may be in the general state of human life, the
development of that life is by no means nothing but semblance. The
social life of man is not explicable as a simple collection of
individuals related to one another in different ways; but in the family,
in the state, in humanity as a whole there is evolved an inner unity, a
sphere of life with distinctive values and contents. And as it is of the
nature of these to transcend the ends and aims of the individuals, to
arouse other feelings and stimulate to other efforts, so their demands
may be directly opposed to those of individual self-preservation. Man
sees himself compelled to decide whether he will pursue his own welfare
or that of the whole: from the necessity of a decision it is impossible
to escape. However much in the majority of cases self-interest may
preponderate, we cannot dispute the possibility of his acting in direct
and conscious opposition to his own interest; of his subordinating and
sacrificing himself; and of his doing this "not grudgingly nor of
necessity," but willingly and gladly; of his feeling this subordination
to be not a negation and a limitation, but an affirmation and an
expansion of his life. All who strive for some essential renewal and
elevation of human life base their hope and trust upon such a
disposition. A renewal and an elevation of life involve far too much
toil, conflict, and danger; they demand a renunciation and a sacrifice
far too great for them to be commended to us by consideration of our own
welfare, or for them to dispense with the necessity of counting upon an
unselfish submission, a sincere sympathy, a genuine love. That which was
produced with glowing passion in heroic beginnings must with a quieter
warmth pervade all progress also. An inner community of minds is
indispensable if the whole of culture is not to become a soulless
mechanism and inwardly alien to us. It is true that the external way of
regarding the facts of life often fuses together as one, lower and
higher, a continuation of nature and the beginning of a new life.
Language also supports this tendency, since it indicates fundamentally
different psychical states with the same terms. Yet the love in which
the union with others is sought only in order to advance one's own
interests, and the love which finds in this union a release from the
limitations of the natural _ego_, and gains a new life, remain distinct.
The sympathy which feels the sufferings of others to be unpleasant
because one's own complacency is disturbed by them, and which in
consequence fades away and disappears as soon as the sight of the
suffering comes to an end, is absolutely separated from a sympathy which
extends to the soul of the other, and possessing which, in order to
contribute to the relieving of the other's need, one willingly
sacrifices one's own complacency: a sympathy, therefore, which extends
its interest and help without limit beyond all that simply has to do
with the relation to the environment. How much real love and genuine
sympathy the experience of humanity shows is a question in itself. Even
as possibilities of our being, as matters of thought which occupy our
attention, and as tasks and problems, they give evidence of a
development of our life beyond the limits of nature.

This forgetfulness of self is a kind of deliverance of life from the
limitations and the interests of the individual: a new relation of man
to man, of person to person, thus arises and brings about an essential
change, indeed a complete transformation of aims and feelings. The
deliverance is effected in another direction with the emergence of a
new relation to things, to the object. In the realm of nature everything
that is external has a value for man only as a means and an instrument
to the advancement of his own welfare; from the point of view of nature,
it is impossible to understand how a thing could attract us on account
of a content and a value of its own. As a matter of fact, the object
does attract us and acquire a power over us in this manner, and this not
merely here and there but over a wide area in movements which affect and
transform the whole of life. Nothing else differentiates work--viewed
spiritually--from other activity, and nothing else elevates work above
other activity than this: that in work the object is inwardly present;
and that man may make its moulding and extension a motive, and find this
a source of joy. This seems to be something self-evident, only because
it happens daily to us and around us; and we do not recognise a new type
of life in it, simply because in human life it is usual to find that
work only gradually attains complete independence. For it is the
pressing necessity of life, the impulse to self-preservation, that first
arouses us from our natural inactivity and compels us to occupy
ourselves with things; and in this change from inactivity to activity it
is our own advantage that we first seek. But that which to us, to
commence with, was simply a means; that which was perhaps most
unwillingly done, begins to attract and hold us more and more for its
own sake; becomes an end in itself, and is able so to charm us that it
forces the idea of utility completely into the background. It is
possible for work to become so attractive, and of such a value in our
estimation, that to ensure its success we can make sacrifices, and can
pursue it in direct opposition to our own welfare. Only when the object
is regarded and treated in this manner can it win an inner proximity to
us; reveal to us its relations; develop characteristic laws; make
demands upon us and call forth our power to meet them. In this way it
constrains us, but the constraint is not exerted upon us from without,
but proceeds from our own decision and activity. We do not feel the
relation to be an oppression, but rather as a witness to our freedom; in
the subordination to the object we feel that we are caught up into a
life more comprehensive, clearer and richer than any we can develop from
the subjective. We reach a stability and a calm in ourselves, and have
within our own being a support against all vacillation and error. Work,
therefore, produces relations which on the one hand unify the endeavour
of the individual and fashion his life as a definite whole; and on the
other, bind humanity into a creative community. In the former case we
have vocation, with its demands and its limitations, it is true, but
with them also its strengthening and its elevation of life; in the
latter complexes of work develop in whole departments of life, in which
the individuals find themselves side by side and are ultimately united
into the community of an all-inclusive whole of culture. From this
something is evolved which is independent not only of the choice but
also of the interests of mere man: a kingdom of truth, a world of
thought transcending all human subjectivity is formed. Thus we see
something grow up within the human sphere which leads man beyond
himself, and which is valid not simply for him but even in opposition to
him. The whole matter bristles with problems: from the point of view of
the life of nature this new life must appear to be an insoluble riddle;
and yet it has far too much value and certitude to be banished as

Along with this detachment of life from the mere individual and the mere
subjectivity of man, there is a liberation from external ties, and the
development of a self-conscious spirituality. As at the level of nature
life is spent in the development of relations with the environment, in
action and reaction, so the form of life in man remains bound, since the
life of the soul cannot dissociate itself from the experience of sense.
The apparent inwardness that is evolved at this level is simply an
after-effect of sensuous feelings and desires. So far as the life of
nature extends, the forces and laws of the life of the soul will only
refine what the external world exhibits in coarser features. The
mechanism of nature also extends into human life; natural impulses of
conduct, as well as association of ideas, reveal the fact that the life
of the soul is in complete dependence upon natural conditions. From this
point of view it seems impossible that inwardness should ever become
independent. The actual experience of human life, however, shows that
what is thus regarded as impossible is indisputably real. The detachment
from the mere subjectivity of the _ego_ and the development of universal
values, which exist over against us, can be effected only if the basis
of life lies deeper than the contact with the environment. It was a work
of thought which brought about the transition and gave birth to the new
life; only with the help of thought did it ever become possible to form
relations of a new kind and to rouse man's interest in them. The
realities which arose were not of sense but conceptual, ideal. The more
this movement increased in extent, the more human existence was
transformed into realities of thought. Is not such a transformation
evident when in ourselves we see before all else, not the sensuous being
of nature, but a personality or an individuality; when in relationship
with one another we form the idea of the state, and feel that we are
ourselves members of the state; when we regard and value the cognate
beings around us from the conception of humanity? As a matter of fact, a
strong tendency in this direction runs through the whole history of
humanity: sense does not disappear, but is taken up more and more into
something conceptual; the world of thought gives us increasingly the
point of view from which we fashion our lives. We find a progressive
spiritualisation of religion, of morality, of law, of the whole life of
culture. In everything life seeks a deeper basis; an inwardness wins an
independence of the environment, and exercises on the environment a
transforming power. The relations and the order of the realities of
thought manifest a law different from that of sense presentations with
their mere juxtaposition. For in the former case an inner unity, an
objective relation is evolved, and the significance of the individual
member is estimated according to its position in the whole. The
distinctive attributes in a conception form no mere collection, and the
statement of a syllogism no mere sequence; rather, in both, a
comprehending act of thought grasps the manifold and arranges the
separate elements according to their relationship within the whole. The
course of presentation with its mere succession is by no means simply
suppressed through this development of thought; it persists and governs
consciousness on the surface. But the surface is not the totality of the
intellectual life; through it and transcending it an activity of thought
manifests itself, forms new connections, and maintains itself against
all opposition.

Accordingly, the power that thought exercises is fundamentally different
from the physical power of association, or even of custom. In the case
of thought there is an insistence upon a consistent and related whole
which, even though externally insignificant, produces most powerful
effects. If contradictions exist in our world of thought and condition
of life, they may become intolerable, and the desire to remove them lead
to the emergence of impetuous movements. If, on the other hand, we
recognise that certain things which formerly seemed to be unrelated,
even though they existed side by side, are really inwardly related; or
if, again, an assertion involves a consequence that has not hitherto
been deduced, then the demand, that these things shall be unified and
this consequence developed, is capable of breaking down even the
strongest opposition. In this matter an invisible is capable of more
than a visible power. Of course, thought in isolation has not such a
power; it acquires it only through its relation to a wider life and in
championing the cause of that life. For thought is wont to defend the
life of the individual, of a people, a historical situation of humanity,
on the one hand from an abundance of inconsistencies, and on the other
from dissolution and incompleteness, without any conflict growing out of
it. Life as we experience it immediately is anything but a regular
logic of the schools. In itself simple perception of the fact that an
inconsistency exists, or that ideas which have been regarded as valid
require further development, need not arouse the feeling of man and lead
him to assert his activity; he can acquiesce, and leave the condition of
things unaltered; he can voluntarily resign himself to the
inconsistencies and incompleteness. But, nevertheless, there is a point
at which this condition of inconsistency can be endured no longer, at
which to transcend it becomes the dominant task of life. This point is
reached when the confusion is no longer something external to us which
we contemplate, but enters into the substance of our life, so that the
inconsistency becomes a division, and an attitude of inconsequence
towards it a limitation of our own being. The solving of the problem
then becomes an essential part of our spiritual preservation. And in
that it commands the whole energy and passion of such preservation it
can do that of which thought, with its necessity, is not in itself
capable, it can rouse our whole life to activity and break down even the
strongest opposition. It is from the inner presence of a determining and
moulding process of life that thought itself first obtains a
characteristic form, and is able to impress it upon things, and so
subject them to itself. A spiritual self-preservation of this kind is
fundamentally different from all physical self-preservation: for the
former, it is not a matter of the self asserting its place in the
co-existence of things, but of becoming an independent inward nature,
and of establishing a distinctive whole of life. The exact significance
of spiritual self-preservation is for the present obscure enough; but
whatever it may be, it derives its power from within and not from
contact with the environment.

How deeply these inner movements are rooted in human life the so-called
historical ideas show with particular clearness. Certain thought
complexes, or rather certain tendencies of life, arise, and win an
overwhelming power in opposition to all narrowly human concerns. They
force the activity of mankind into particular channels; they follow out
their consequences with pitiless rigour; they speak to us in a tone of
command, and require absolute obedience. Neither the interests of
individuals nor those of whole classes prevail against them; every
consideration of utility vanishes before their inner necessity. The
history of religions, for example, has often shown such an astonishing
consistency in the following of characteristic tendencies that their
adherents could see in it the working of a divine spirit. Similarly, the
Enlightenment, in its time with overpowering might seized minds and
penetrated deeply into every department of life; to-day we have a
similar experience in the case of the social movement. On all sides
something is acknowledged as an imperative requirement, as indispensable
for the spiritual persistence of man--something which cannot be brought
in from outside, and which may indeed be entirely inconsistent with
external conditions. Has not the conflict of inner necessities with the
external circumstances that were opposed to them been a leading motive
power in history, and is not all genuine progress achieved through such
an opposition?

Again, the great force that has been exerted in the movement of history
in the detection and the elimination of contradictions can be explained
only in this context. Logic, as we saw, played an unassuming rôle in
this matter, and the indolence of man always inclined to easy
accommodation and compromise. It was the increased vital energy, the
adoption of a particular issue as the main issue, that made movements,
which had long existed in a state of harmony and peace, irreconcilable
enemies, and drove them to a life-and-death struggle. With a lower level
of spiritual activity the Middle Ages unsuspiciously united a religion
of ecclesiastical organisation with a religion of personal feeling and
disposition; and it did not feel that there was an inconsistency in
their union so much as that one was the completion of the other. As soon
and so far, however, as in the Modern Age spirituality won more
independence and more self-consciousness, and felt itself to be the
centre of the whole, it was inevitable that a dependence upon an
external order should be experienced only as an intolerable oppression;
and the division of life between the one and the other became an
impossibility. It was necessary only that a powerful and passionate
personality, like that of Luther, should take up the problem, and make
it the sole object of his effort, and the hour of revolution had come.
How meanly they think of the controlling forces of history who would
trace back such changes to the selfishness or the vanity of individuals!
Looked at from our point of view, the inner changes within the life of
universal history often appear to be simplifications--cases of energetic
concentration on the essential, and of fundamental separation of the
subsidiary. The truly great carry on a ceaseless conflict against the
chaotic confusion which the life of the majority is wont to produce ever
anew--a condition in which matters of the first importance are confused
with those that are subsidiary; all inner gradation is lacking; and the
great is treated as something insignificant, and the insignificant as
something great. There is a struggle to secure a clear differentiation
and gradation; to establish a centre, and to transform life into a
genuinely self-conscious life. Have not all the principal revivals of
religion, of morality, of education, been simplifications?

These movements show life in a particular form; something emerges in it
which, unconcerned with the weal and the woe of man, follows its own
course and makes absolute demands; and, more than anything else,
disturbs and destroys his calmness and complacency. How heavily Germany
has had to pay for the movement of the Reformation by being thrown back
politically, nationally, and economically! It is inevitable that all
movements of an ideal kind, the social movement of the present included,
should appear from the point of view of natural well-being, troublesome
and pernicious disturbances. They can be regarded as something higher
only when we acknowledge that life does not consist entirely in external
relations, or in the endeavour to attain harmony with the environment,
but that an inner task grows out of life itself, and first gives to
human existence a value and a dignity.

In the development of a self-consciousness and of a movement of life
itself, we rise above the motive of utility, by which nature is swayed.
It is a moral element in the widest sense; it is the consciousness of
something objectively necessary, unconditionally transcending the ends
of the narrowly human, that first gives to convictions axiomatic
certainty and to conduct the right energy. This moral element attains to
a more independent display in the moral self-judgment of man that is
called "conscience." True, this conception has been the subject of much
error and has been much over-estimated. Not only has the moral judgment
less power over man than is frequently assumed, but that which is called
conscience is often--generally, in fact--nothing more than a by-product
of custom and of accommodation in human social life. In this case the
inner life has still attained no independence, but remains dependent
upon the environment; and the disposition thus produced is nothing more
than a feeling of aversion to the results of conduct, nothing more nor
less than concealed fear of punishment--a state of the soul which the
most prominent thinkers have, with good reason, stigmatised as a
manifestation of weakness and cowardice. But, however much that is
foreign to it and of an inferior order may have been associated with
conscience, nevertheless, judging conduct, as it does, according to the
inward disposition and not according to consequences, conscience is a
unique, original phenomenon. To whatever extent conscience, as we know
it, may have had its source in something external, and in however great
a degree it may depend upon changing circumstances, it is nevertheless
impossible to explain the fundamental fact by reference to the
environment. For, if our life depended solely and entirely upon the
environment and no movement arose from within, all influence from
without could do nothing but subdue us by sheer force; there could never
be an independent recognition and acceptance of the command addressed
to us; never the feeling of an inner responsibility for conduct; never
an independent extension of the original precept; and yet all these
phenomena are in fact found in human experience. True, we are affected
very greatly by external forces; but that they may achieve what they do
a movement from within must meet them, take them up, and carry them
further. The enormous amount of pretence which flourishes amongst us
with regard to matters of morality, and which so easily obscures our
vision for the chief matter, would be unintelligible if the spiritual
did not manifest some kind of independence in the moral judgment. Unless
there is such a development towards independence, the moral judgment
must also, as far as its content is concerned, be determined by the
condition of the social environment: it could never follow a course of
its own; never give rise to anything new; never enter into inner
conflict with the environment. Yet, as a matter of fact, we find these
tendencies in abundance. The individual is able, in the light of his own
moral conviction, to approve and value something which all around him
reject; and conversely, to condemn and reject something which all around
him esteem and respect; and this he is able to do under the compulsion
of inner necessity, and not simply out of a love of vain paradox. This
opposition of individuals to the condition of things in the social
environment has been the main source of all inner progress in matters of
morality. For it is in matters of morality, in particular, that that
which hitherto had given no offence has become intolerable to
individuals; and that new and imperative demands such as had never been
made before have emerged with constraining power. Or did the idea of
humanity, the abolition of slavery, and the commandment to love one's
enemies, for example, arise in some other way? If in respect of such
matters as these that which on its first appearance was paradoxical
quickly came to be regarded as self-evident, what else was operative in
bringing about this result than an inner necessity, from which, when
once we become conscious of it, we can never again escape? Suitable
conditions in the social environment were, of course, also necessary for
the fulfilment and the extension of those moral requirements; but they
could never have originated from the environment, or have derived from
it their unconditional nature, their certainty of victory, and their
indifference to all external consequences: qualities without which they
could not have effected what they have.

In the life of the individual the moral judgment manifests its power in
affirmation as well as in negation. If it approves one's disposition and
conduct, it gives to life a greater stability and joyfulness; if it
condemns, then existence is paralysed by division. In this experience it
is implicitly assumed that the distinction of good and evil has its
source neither in the preferences of the human individual nor in those
of the human society; but that in this antithesis a new order that is
present only to the inner nature is revealed.

We see, therefore, that in contrast with its attachment to the external,
life attains an independent inwardness which we are compelled to
acknowledge, however mysterious the inward may at present be to us, and
however little we may be able to define its nature more closely. Earlier
in our investigation we were led to recognise a movement of life from
the narrowness of the individual to the comprehensiveness of the whole.
It is obvious that our two results are closely connected with each other
and refer to each other. For we attain a unity, as contrasted with the
juxtaposition of the elements of the visible world, only through a
powerful activity from within; but this activity cannot emerge unless
life forms a whole in contrast with its dissipation into disconnected

These two developments are obviously sides of the same life--a life
which bears a totally different character from that of the psychical
life which forms a mere continuation of nature. Within the soul itself
there is a distinction between two levels, of which that other than
nature may in agreement with established usage be called "spiritual,"
however little may be implied by this expression; however mysterious,
indeed, the conception may for the present be. In contrast with the old,
this new level is unmistakably at a disadvantage. The old seems to
include the whole range of human existence; the new, on the other hand,
must toilsomely struggle for a place of some kind. Nevertheless, in
spite of its external insignificance, the spiritual gives birth to a
movement of no mean character; in face of all opposition it seeks to
form a centre of life of its own, and to make this the chief basis of
effort; it is to be found thus in the life of mankind as revealed in
history, and also in that of the individual. Within the conception of
culture we comprehend all achievements distinctive of man. But what is
culture if it does not assure to man a position independent of nature;
if it does not set up ideals which can arise only out of a new life?
Ultimately the chief motive-power of culture is the longing of mankind
for a new kind of being in contrast to that of nature. Culture
necessarily becomes superficial and empty when it directs human striving
to external objects and does not lead through all occupation with
externals to its own development and to the advance of its own being.
The work of culture is genuine and powerful only when man seeks in it
his own true and ultimate self.

How every development of the spiritual advances towards the attainment
of a new unity of life may be more clearly seen in the case of the
individual, in relation to whom we meet with the conceptions of
personality and of spiritual individuality. However much confusion there
may be in the ordinary use of these conceptions, the conception of
personality merits the estimation in which it is held only if it is
regarded as the bearer of a new life in contrast to that of nature, and
not simply as something added to nature. The development is more evident
with the conception of spiritual individuality. For such an
individuality is by no means something given to a man in the natural
characteristics which he brings with him into life. Within this
particular nature, as a rule, many things, significant and
insignificant--things which are original in himself and things which are
due to external influence--are chaotically confused; and, as it lacks an
inner unity and an adjustment of the different aspects, one aspect may
directly contradict another. If the individual is no more than these
natural characteristics, he can become active as a whole only through a
summation of the multiplicity, and not through a dominating and
organising unity. With the transition to the new kind of life a desire
for such a unity awakens and gives rise to a definitely characteristic
movement. A unity must be found within us in some manner; it must be
included in the range of possibilities open to us. But in order to
obtain supremacy it must be grasped, be appropriated and strengthened by
our self-activity. We ourselves therefore become a task in the treatment
of which it is possible to fall into serious error. Looked at from this
point of view our spiritual nature is seen to be the product of our own
activity. We cannot fail to recognise a peculiar interweaving of freedom
and fate in our existence.

The inner history of all creative minds shows how great may be the
inspiration and the tension which arise in this striving to realise a
spiritual nature; an inspiration and a tension which are evident even
when the main direction for the realisation of this nature has been
easily found and only the more detailed form has to be sought: they are
still more apparent when the main direction itself is in question. How
toilsome it has often been for a man to come to that in which his
strength lay, and with the aid of reflection to attain a state of secure
creative activity; to unite all forces to a common achievement; and to
make a distinct advance beyond the traditional position of the spiritual
life! Life was by no means a completed gift and something to be easily
enjoyed, even in the case of natures lavishly equipped by destiny--as,
for example, Goethe: it was in a struggle for itself that it won a
complete independence and a proud superiority over everything external.
This struggle was being fought in all his cares, in all thought for
natural and social well-being, all utilitarian considerations in regard
to the externals of life. It gave to the man amid all his doubts and
agitations the certainty of being something unique, something
indispensable; at the same time it lifted him into an invisible world,
and enabled him to understand his own life as an end complete in itself.
How different this is from the struggle for existence, for the
preservation of physical life; and how clearly a new life, another kind
of reality, arises in these movements! The new life does not by any
means appear only at the heights of spiritual creation; rather it would
be true to say that the life which is present in the whole of human
existence becomes most easily discernible at these heights. The movement
towards a spiritual individuality may be begun in the most simple
conditions; and it is not to be estimated according to the degree of its
achievement. For, where world stands against world, everything depends
upon the decision with regard to the fundamental principle, and this may
be made at any point. The mere possibility of making such a decision
testifies here irrefutably to a reality: the reality of a new order of


The conclusion we are led to is that a new life distinct from that of
nature arises in our soul. With a great diversity of manifestations, it
surrounds us with an indisputable actuality; no one can fail to
recognise that something of importance, something distinctive comes to
pass in us. But as soon as we try to comprehend these manifestations as
a whole, and to ascertain the meaning of the whole, a difficult problem
arises. It is comparatively easy, however, to come to an understanding
as to the negative aspect of the matter. It is obvious that the new life
is not an embellishment or a continuation of nature; it would bring with
it something essentially new. Again, it is obvious that it is not a
product of a single psychical function, such as thought or feeling; it
would form a whole transcending the psychical functions, and from this
whole determine the form of each function distinctively. But what is
this new reality and this whole to which the course of the movement
trends? The more we reflect over the question the more strongly we feel
that it is a direction rather than a conclusion that is offered to us in
this matter; something higher, something inward and so on is to evolve,
but what is embedded in the inward and in what this supremacy is based
is at present not apparent. Further, every attempt at a more definite
orientation at once reveals to us a wide gulf, indeed a harsh
contradiction, between the content of that which is sought and the form
of existence from which it is sought. The chief impulse of the spiritual
life is that it wills to liberate us from the merely human; to give us a
share in the life of the whole; to remove us from a happening between
things to their fundamental happening. Seen from within, the history of
humanity is primarily an increasing deliverance of life from bondage to
the narrowly human, an emergence of something more than human, and an
attempt to shape our life from the point of view of this: it is an
increasing conflict of man with himself. At the same time, however, it
is a taking up of the whole into himself; since man in all his planning
and striving is related to the whole, it seems to him that his own
nature must remain alien to himself if the whole does not disclose
itself to him and allow him to participate in a life which has its
source in ultimate depths; if in the life of the whole he does not find
a purer and a more genuine self. The idea of truth impels us beyond all
the limitations to which a particular being is subject, beyond all
communication of things from without. There must be nothing between us
and reality; the inner life of reality must become ours, and thus our
life will emerge for the first time from a shadowy existence to full
reality, from the narrowness of the mere individual to the
comprehensiveness of infinity. The idea of the good makes similar
demands. To the spiritual movement, the advancement of merely human
well-being is far too mean an aim. This movement makes us clearly
conscious of the triviality of mere happiness; of the oppressive and
destructive effect of a continual reference to our own subjectivity; and
of the unworthiness of treating love and justice as only means to our
welfare. It becomes at the same time an urgent duty to break through the
narrow limitations of the natural ego, and to conduct our life from the
point of view of objective truth and comprehensiveness, and so for the
first time to become capable of genuine love and justice.

It is true that these aims are lofty, and, we feel we have the right to
say, aims that may not be rejected. But it is not at all evident how
they are to be reached from the position of man; it is not at all clear
how man shall press forward from mere existence to the creative basis,
from the part to the whole: for his particularity and his mere existence
hold him fixed. But in his existence nature preponderates by far:
individual tendencies of a new order do appear; but how could they in
their state of isolation and weakness bring about a revolution and place
life on a new foundation? As a matter of fact, we usually find these
impulses to a new life drawn into the service of natural and social
self-preservation, and, over against the passionate struggle for
existence, condemned to complete impotence and shadowiness.

The whole life of culture makes us clearly conscious of this perplexity.
The essence of that life consists in this, and by this alone can it be
held as true--that it wills to build up a new, spiritual reality within
the sphere of humanity. But to what extent is such a reality
recognisable on the basis of experience? In and with all civilisation
man continues obstinately bent upon the attainment of his own ends: the
struggle for material goods exerts an immense influence upon and
controls men; an indescribable amount of pretence and hypocrisy
accompanies and surrounds the spiritual movement. Between that which man
really strives for, and that which he asserts that he is striving for,
and which perhaps it is his intention to strive for, there is great
divergence. Falsehood like this is not limited to individuals; our whole
culture is one monstrous deception in so far as it promises to develop
humanity to something new and higher, while in reality the new is
occupied mostly with polishing up the old, the life of nature, to give
it a glittering appearance. It is on this account that in times of
criticism and introspection so much opposition has been offered to
culture; that such passionate scorn has been aroused against the
hypocrisy and pretence which pervades its whole life. But although we
are fully aware of its deplorable state, we do not break its power over
us. It is perhaps the most bitter of all our experiences that we are
held fast under the spell of a condition of things concerning the vanity
and futility of which no one with any insight has the slightest doubt.

However, in moralising over this state of things we ought to guard
ourselves from becoming too passionate. For it is a question whether it
could be otherwise; whether the fault is in any way in our will, and is
not solely and entirely in the nature of our being itself. For it is
certainly a contradiction throughout that man, who is an individual
being existing by the side of others, and whose life belongs to the
domain of experience, should set himself in a universal life
transcending all particularity and live from the bases of reality. How
can that which is primarily a part of a given world build up a new
world? Ideas like those of the true and the good are, from this point of
view, simply delusions, manifest impossibilities; man may trouble and
weary himself with them, but all his endeavour only leads him into a
state of greater confusion. These ideas are to him for ever an "other"
world; he may expand himself and develop, but he does not come a step
nearer by doing so.

It is true that in striving for truth, man advances beyond sense
presentation to the activity of thought; but the thoughts always remain
his--thoughts of mere man. However much he may widen his own sphere as a
consequence of his reflection upon them, he does not go beyond it. In
history also the striving for a scientific comprehension of truth
appears to be a vain struggle; the passing through different phases has
not brought it nearer its aim so much as, with ever-increasing
clearness, it has manifested the impossibility of attaining what is

The ancient conception of truth, with its belief in a relationship of
the being of man with the whole; with it assumption of an easy
transference of life from one to the other; with its view of truth as an
agreement of thought with an external reality, has through the course of
life become untenable; it has been rejected through the influence of the
tendency of our being to become more inward. For this tendency
necessarily led to a detachment from the environment of the world, and
to a separation of the two sides of our experience. We became clearly
conscious of this separation at the beginning of the Modern Age. We saw
that, if we were not to give up all claim to truth, only one course
remained possible: to make a division within the human domain, a
division between a merely human and something else which might be
regarded as the presence of universal and genuine life in man. And so
Spinoza distinguished an objective thought from the springs of the
emotions; Kant distinguished practical reason from the theoretical which
is bound up with the limitations of human nature; and Hegel elevated the
thought-process, which manifests itself in the work of universal
history, far above the opinions and the wishes of individuals. Each of
these championed a distinctive conception of truth and a characteristic
form of the spiritual life; but with regard to all attempts we come to
doubt whether even that proclaimed as more than human is not still
within the domain of man; whether in every case we do not wrongly
declare the last point which we reach to be the deepest basis of

The position is somewhat similar with regard to the idea of the good. In
the attempts to which we have referred, it passed current as a
deliverance from all selfish happiness, which was felt to be intolerably
narrow. A new, purer, and more comprehensive life is to proceed from
the winning of a new position. Now, there are many different conceptions
of happiness, and higher levels are distinguished plainly from lower.
But the highest level does not transcend human desire; man must bring
all into relation with his own well-being. He cannot in opposition to
his own well-being adopt something alien as an end in itself; his
activity can be aroused for nothing which has not some value for
himself. In this case also, therefore, the bounds of his life hold him
fast, and, unless these bounds are transcended, the good cannot be
distinguished from the useful. Of this a clear confirmation is furnished
by the experiences of religions. In their origin they wished to free man
from himself and to set him in a new life--whether they promised
tranquillity in a surrender to the infinite whole or won a positive
content by the revelation of a kingdom of divine love. How soon the
succession of events has led back to a quest of happiness! How soon has
it become evident that the religions have far less revealed a new world
to the majority of mankind than chained them more firmly to the old; and
that they easily arouse to greater power the raw instinct of life, which
they desired to overcome!

We seem to be shut in on all sides: it seems a monstrous inconsistency
to wish to build up from man a world transcending man; to remove him
into a world other than that of a man. A world of this kind is, however,
essential to the spiritual life; with its abandonment that life is only
a delusion; and the less intelligent people who reject as a meaningless
folly all striving for the true and the good seem to be right.

     *     *     *     *     *

Why do we refuse to adopt this view, and to discontinue an endeavour the
aims of which appear to be unattainable? In the first place, because the
movement cannot be given up so easily as those critics imagine who adopt
this view; for it does not consist simply of explanations and theories
that might be completely refuted by rigorous argument, but a certain
reality has been evolved, desires aroused, forces called into life, and
movements inaugurated. Even if they halt in their course they were
something; they do not disappear therefore before the attacks of
Scepticism; further, however mean their results may be, they prove to be
strong enough to indicate the limitations in the life of nature, and to
make it inadequate for us. The matter is the more mysterious in that the
striving is anything but a product of the natural desire for happiness.
For the movement disturbs all our complacency; it leads man to be
discontented with that which hitherto had fully satisfied him; it
surrounds him with fixed organisations; desires from him much labour and
sacrifice, and makes existence, not easier, but more difficult for him.
Delusions are wont to deceive us by pleasing pictures; to attract us
with the promise of pleasure and enjoyment. How does a delusion, that
imposes so much toil and trouble upon us, win so much power over us?
There is another matter to be considered in this connection. A complete
renunciation can appear possible only because it is not clearly
perceived how much which we cannot give up and which ultimately we have
no desire to give up is involved in it. Only a want of clearness of
thought, and still more a weakness of character, could wish to retain in
the particular case what was given up as a whole; could affirm as effect
what it denied as cause. As soon as this course is recognised to be
impossible, it becomes evident that with the rejection of the spiritual
life everything is abandoned which gives to our life dignity, greatness,
and inner unity, and joins us to others with an inward bond. Realities
such as love and honour, truth and right, must be regarded as empty
forms; and even science must come to an end, because there is no longer
any inner unity of work, no objective necessity.

Such considerations again show us that a complete negation is
impossible; and it seems that we must remain for ever in painful
suspense between an unattainable affirmation and an impossible negation.
We might be able to endure this condition of affairs if it concerned a
problem which arose in reference to something of little importance to
our life, something that we could relegate to the background, and simply
permit to lie there, without compromising our life. But our problem lies
at the centre of life; is, in fact, itself the centre. To be left in
suspense here means to condemn life as a whole to a state of paralysis,
to surrender it to complete dissolution. Against this everyone who has
any vital energy in him will contend; with his whole might he will seek
to escape from a condition so intolerable; he will not hold back from
making a bold venture, mindful of the words of Goethe, "Necessity is the
best counsellor."

In seeking a way out of the contradiction, it is essentially necessary
not to forget the source of the contradiction. We saw that source to be
in the fact that the spiritual life would set up a new world, and at the
same time remains bound up with the merely human and presents itself as
an endeavour of mere man. To the spiritual life a universal character is
indispensable; of this claim nothing can be abated. There must therefore
be a change as regards man; it must be that more comes to pass in him
than the first impression makes evident. It must be that the spiritual
within him, which seems at first to be his own product, is a
participation in wider connections; the spiritual must be operative in
man, but not originate out of the merely human. It is true that this
makes a reversal of the traditional position necessary, and not merely
of its representations; and such a reversal provokes serious doubt.
Modern science, however, has taught us sufficiently often that the first
appearance of anything need not be the ultimate one; that there may be
cogent reasons for regarding something that at first seems based in
itself as the proof of something existing beyond. Thus, modern natural
science has transformed the world of sense into a world present only to
the eyes of research. Certainly, science accomplishes these changes
within the bounds of experience: on the contrary, in regard to our
problem, in which the fundamental form of reality is in question, it is
indispensable that we should transcend these bounds; without a change in
respect of the whole, and hence without a resort to metaphysics, it is
not possible to accomplish our purpose. It is quite clear that the
tendency of our time is opposed to appeals to metaphysics: yet it is a
question how far this attitude is justified. So far as metaphysics
assumes the same form as in the past--that of conceptual speculation of
a thought hovering unrestrained over the existing world--then it is
rightly opposed. But the attitude is unjustifiable which assumes that
with the overthrow of the older metaphysics all metaphysics may be
ignored. For a metaphysic can proceed also from the whole life, and need
not be a product of mere thought. The implication therefore is this,
that the centre of life itself must be changed, and thus a revolution of
the previous condition accomplished; that an actuality already operative
in life is to be given its rightful place and brought to its full
effect. The business of metaphysics, therefore, is not to add something
in thought to a reality which lies before us, or to weave such a reality
into a texture of conceptions; but to seek to grasp reality in itself,
and to rouse it to life in its entire depth for ourselves. Every change
of thought then rests on a change of life. Such a metaphysic may appeal
to the saying of Hebbel, "Only fools will banish metaphysic from the
drama; it makes a great difference, however, whether life evolves out of
metaphysic or metaphysic out of life."

Even if our age rejects a metaphysic of this kind also, if it surrenders
itself without resistance to the inconsistencies of the world of sense,
this would be the last thing which could deter us from an appeal to
metaphysic. For the inner cleavages and the superficiality of the life
of our time--and we saw reason to believe that these are facts--stand in
the closest relation to the rejection of metaphysics: this rejection has
made the age inwardly insignificant. If an indirect proof of the
necessity of a revolutionary transformation of life, and at the same
time of a metaphysic may be offered, our age furnishes one quite
sufficient in its own experiences; its opposition can be only a
recommendation of an appeal to metaphysic.

The one main thesis which it is essentially necessary to establish is
analysed in sufficient detail throughout the whole course of our
investigation; it simply sums up that which has already been advanced
point by point. The intolerable contradiction arises, as we saw, from
this, that the spiritual life with its new world should be a product of
mere man, and that that life should remain within man and at the same
time lead in its essence beyond him. This contradiction cannot be
overcome otherwise than by our recognising and acknowledging in the
spiritual life a universal life, which transcends man, is shared by him,
and raises him to itself. That this transition brings with it a change
in the appearance of life and of the world as a whole, and that as a
result our striving is brought under entirely different conditions,
needs more detailed presentation.


1. The Main Thesis and the Possibility of a New System of Life

(a) _The Development of the Spiritual Life to Independence_

Our investigation reached its highest point in the demand that the
spiritual life should become independent of man. Man cannot produce a
spiritual life of his own capacity: a spiritual world must impart itself
to him and raise him to itself. It must be shown that this does not by
any means signify only a change of name, a new labelling of an old
possession, but implies far-reaching changes, and indeed involves a
complete reversal of the first condition. At the same time the course of
the investigation must establish that this transition to the spiritual
life is not something subsequently inferred or offered simply for the
explanation of an otherwise unintelligible fact, but that it would
overcome a false appearance, and help a misunderstood truth to its
right. The fact that is affirmed should become an immediate experience
of one's own and should advance life rather than knowledge. Only the
whole investigation and not an introductory consideration can furnish a
proof of our contention.

There are within our own soul distinctive movements tending in
directions different from those of nature. We recognised that there is a
life which proceeds from some kind of comprehensive whole; a life which
transcends the opposition of subject and object, and evolves a
self-consciousness in contrast with the relation to externals. All these
features present a quite different appearance, form a more coherent
whole, and will occupy a more definite position in the representation
of reality, if in them an independent life superior to mere man is
recognised and acknowledged. The principal reason for this is that it is
only by means of that deliverance from the simply human that the new
life is able to express its own nature clearly and to realise as part of
its own nature what otherwise seemed to have its source in something
external. The individual traits that we become aware of are the
revelation of a universal life, if they are no longer regarded as
limited by the idiosyncrasies of the human. With this acknowledgment
they can gain ascendancy over man and prove their power upon him.

We saw that it is characteristic of the spiritual life that it is lived
from the whole; the elements are fashioned by a comprehensive unity; the
different complexes and tendencies which arise in this life strive
ultimately towards a single aim. We saw also that it was absolutely
impossible that the tendency to universality should be originated by
man, whose chief movement is towards differentiation and division; and,
further, that it should be realised by him in face of the opposition of
nature, which extends to the immeasurable in matters great and small.
The unity that is necessary for this cannot arise out of the many as an
ultimate result; it must be original and be operative from the
beginning. We may postulate such a unity only if the spiritual life is
itself a universal life transcending that of the isolated individuals;
if it bears in itself a unity which takes the multiplicity up into
itself. And so the whole from an abstract conception is for the first
time raised to a living reality; and only on thus becoming a reality can
it exercise a distinctive power upon individuals and in contrast to
individuals; and inwardly unite and essentially raise them. Only in this
way is it conceivable that another kind of activity having its source
within the soul may exert itself in opposition to the mechanism of
nature and transcend it; and that selfishness and spiritual weakness may
in some way be overcome. Man, so far as he shares in the spiritual life,
is more than a mere individual; a universal life becomes his own and
works within him as a power of his life.

Further, the taking up of the object into the life-process, the
transcendence of the antithesis of subject and object, is characteristic
of the spiritual life. But this remained an inner contradiction, a
complete impossibility so long as the spiritual life was regarded as an
occurrence in a being who, with a closed nature, stands over against
things as though they were alien; and who can take up nothing into
himself without accommodating it to his own particular nature. The
contradiction is removed only when the spiritual becomes independent;
for then both sides of the antithesis come to belong to each other and
are related to each other in a single life; and a life transcending the
division may develop, a life that produces the antithesis from within,
lives in the different sides and seeks in them its own perfection. The
life-process is now seen to be a movement that is neither from object to
subject, nor from subject to object; neither the subject's attainment of
content from the object, nor the object's becoming controlled by the
subject, but an advance of a self-conscious life in and through the
antithesis. Life, by this movement, ceases to be a single, thin thread;
it wins breadth; it expands to an inner universality. At the same time a
depth is manifested in that a persistent and comprehensive activity
emerges which lives in the antithesis. In this manner life first becomes
a life in a spiritual sense, a self-conscious and self-determining life,
a self-consciousness.

That this change is possible and brings with it a new type of life is
shown with complete clearness by experience in the separate departments
of the spiritual life. Thus, artistic creation at its highest is neither
the production of the truest possible copy of an external object, the
artist painfully abstaining from all subjective addition; nor a
presentation of subjective situations and moods, the artist endeavouring
to the utmost to avoid everything objective; but a transcendence of the
opposition of soulless objectivity and empty subjectivity by an art that
is sovereign, autonomous, and with a character of its own; the creative
activity belonging to which gives life from the soul to the object, and
moulds the soul by means of the object. This kind of artistic creation
is directed primarily towards an inner truth, not towards a truth that
is produced by the object, but one that arises only in the contact of
the object with the soul. It is manifest that creation is effected here
not as an interaction between subject and object, but above and through
this antithesis; it is only by transcending the antithesis that the
artist can give himself in his work, lend to it a soul, place an
infinity within it. In this respect conduct manifests a character
similar to that of creation. Conduct would never attain an inner
stability and enter upon an independent course, if it could not raise
itself above the opposition of a submission to orders that are forced
upon it from without, and a mere play of subjective inclination; if it
were not able to become the self-assertion and self-development of a
life transcending that opposition. At this point also the acknowledgment
of an independent spiritual life teaches us to comprehend as a whole
that which, in a many-sided development, the different departments of
life show to be real.

The obscurity in which the conception of inwardness was hitherto
involved begins to disappear when the spiritual life is no longer
regarded as supplementary but as an independent life. It cannot be
denied that, within humanity, there is an endeavour to develop the life
of the soul to a state of self-determining activity and, at the same
time, to free that life from the bondage to sense in which it remains at
the level of nature. Yet, definite affirmation that shall correspond to
the negation of sense has been lacking; it has not been clear how
inwardness might find content and characteristic forms; there has been
no advance from the subjective to the substantial. But since a universal
activity is operative within the multiplicity and through the division,
and since it sets itself in the division and from this returns to
itself, a self-conscious inwardness becomes conceivable which has a life
of its own with new experiences. Since within this life "to receive"
presupposes the comprehending power and the self-determining activity of
a vital whole, something other than sense is able to evolve and through
all the persistence of sense to become the chief matter. The spiritual
life is not directed to a reality adjacent to it, but evolves a reality
out of itself; or rather, it evolves as a reality, a kingdom, a world;
and so it advances from vague outline to more complete development; it
struggles for itself, for its own perfection, not for anything external.

It is directly implied in the above conception that the spiritual life
is something different from single psychical functions, such as
cognition, volition, and the like; and that man, so far as he shares in
it, is more than one such function or a sum of such functions. For these
functions come under the antithesis of subject and object, while the
spiritual life transcends it. It is also clear that the spiritual life
does not change this or that in a life which already exists, or add this
or that to it, but that it introduces a new kind of life--a life by
which man is distinguished clearly from everything inferior to him.

If the spiritual life is an evolution of a reality in the life-process,
then the question arises as to how this reality is related to the world
that immediate experience shows us to be surrounded by. As surely as man
in his subjective reflection is able to free himself from the world and
to place himself in opposition to it, so there can be no doubt that the
spiritual life belongs to the permanent reality of the world and, as we
see it, grows up out of its movement. The transition to an independent
inwardness is not something which happens externally to the world but
within it: no special sphere, separate from all the rest, is originated;
but reality itself evolves an inner life: it is the world itself that
reveals a spiritual depth, or, as we might say, a soul. We are not
justified in doubting and attacking this view simply because the
spiritual life meets us only in man, and thus, in contrast with the
infinity of nature, is in its external manifestation so insignificant.
For something essentially new appears in it, something that involves
another order of things: the fact that little falls within our range of
vision is in this connection not at all relevant. If anyone is disturbed
and driven to denial by the external insignificance of the
manifestations of the spiritual life, he shows only that he
misunderstands what is distinctive and revolutionising in that life. The
spiritual life is not to be thought of merely in reference to the
experiences of the individual, but also to the work of humanity, to
history, to the advance of culture. All these show us a development of
life that presents the world from a new side; and this must be an
important factor in the estimation of the world, especially if the
spiritual is recognised as having a life independent of man.

The inward must necessarily present itself as the fundamental and the
comprehensive; as that which in its invisibility sustains, dominates,
and unifies the visible world. Nature, which there was a tendency to
regard as the whole, is now of the essence of a wider reality and a
stage in its development; and it is impossible for the conception formed
from it to be regulative of the whole. Ultimately, therefore, reality
cannot be regarded as something dead, detached, and given: it signifies
to us something living, something experienced in itself, something
sustained by incessant activity. At the same time, the lateness of the
appearance of the spiritual life within our realm and the many ways in
which this appearance is conditioned force us to acknowledge that the
life of the world as a whole has a history. The conception of history
that we have become familiar with in its application to nature and to
the spiritual life throughout is now extended to the relation between
the two. However many mysteries it yet involves, definite progress in
our conception of the world must be admitted.

Most of all it is man with his life and endeavour that appears in a new
light. Two worlds meet together in him, and, indeed, not merely in such
a manner that he provides the place in which they meet and enter into
conflict, but so that he acquires an independent participation in the
new world, and through his own decision co-operates in its development.
For spiritual life, with its self-determining activity, can never become
itself as a mere effect; to become this it must be apprehended and
roused to activity as cause. But it is cause and animating power only in
its being as a whole; so, as a whole it must be present to man and
become his own life. Thus, in contrast to the particularity of his
natural existence, a life having its source in the infinite grows up
within him: in the former a mere part of a world; in the latter he
becomes a world in himself: in the one, bound up with the particular
nature of man; in the other, he is elevated above all particularity to
something more than human, to something cosmic.

To such changes in the content of life there must be corresponding
changes in its form. Empirical consciousness with its discreteness and
succession of presentations and states cannot possibly comprehend the
new life; to do that the soul must acquire a greater depth. It must be
capable of an activity which, with single phases, extends into this
consciousness, but which as a whole and in its creative work must
transcend it. With the acknowledgment of an independent spiritual life
in man two questions giving rise to different methods of treatment
necessarily become distinguished: the one as to the nature and extent of
the spiritual that is revealed in him; and the other, how, under the
specific conditions of his nature, it emerges and establishes itself. It
will become evident how important it is to distinguish these
sufficiently, and yet on the other hand to associate them closely.

(b) _The Demands of a New System of Life_

If the acknowledgment of an independent spirituality thus alters the
view of reality as a whole, and in particular of man, we are faced with
the question whether we may not attain a new synthesis through this
spirituality, and whether it does not begin a characteristic formation
of our world. Our treatment of the philosophies of life of the present
day makes it possible for us to approach this question with definite
demands. We saw life branch off in different movements, each of which
took up into itself a wealth of fact; but we found none of them strong
enough to absorb the others into itself, or even able to estimate them.
If life is not finally to fall into dissolution, it needs, in contrast
to these movements, one more universal in character, and this can be
more than a weak compromise only when there is a still more fundamental
relation of life than that which the developments that we have
considered proffered. In that case the more original basal relation
ought to be able to manifest itself as a presupposition of those
developments; it should make intelligible how divisions can originate in
the condition of man; in particular it should illuminate the opposition
between the idealistic and the naturalistic systems of life--an
opposition which, like a deep gulf, divides the life of the present. In
short, it should depend upon whether the change that results with the
acknowledgment of the independence of the spiritual life makes it
possible for us permanently to transcend those oppositions and to work
towards their reconciliation. But we ought then to see that, with its
universality, the system of life striven for does not fall into a state
vague and lacking in character. Through its whole being, in affirmation
and in negation, the system of life must definitely express itself; it
must synthesise and differentiate, elevate and exclude. But it will be
able to do this only if it produces a new kind of life-process and a new
web of life: only thus can essentially new evaluations and tasks, new
experiences and genuine developments, originate; only thus can life as a
whole be definitely raised. Of course, this new cannot signify something
that has just been discovered and that has arisen suddenly. How could it
be a truth which gives to us security, and how could it dominate our
life, if it is not rooted in our being, and if it had not exerted an
influence at all times? But it makes a great difference whether the new
has been concealed, obscure and against the tendency of our own
activity; or whether it is taken up fully in our own self-determining
activity and thereby essentially advanced. If, on the one hand, the new
must be something old, on the other hand the old must become something
new if it is to liberate, strengthen, and elevate our life where its
needs are so urgent.

(c) _The Spiritual Basis of the System of Life_

There can be no doubt that the acknowledgment of the independence of the
spiritual life involves the recognition of a new fundamental relation of
our life. This relation is no other than that of man to the spiritual
world, which is immanent in him and at the same time transcends him. It
is more original than the relations implied in the systems of the
present day; for these, even though contrary to their own knowledge and
intention, all presuppose this fundamental relation to the spiritual
life. Religion could not be so violently attacked and so zealously
denied by so many, if the relation of life to God were the absolute
relation and were present before all others. The value of religion
depends essentially upon the content of the spiritual life which it
serves. With the mere relation of life to a supernatural power, the
nature of which is not more closely defined--with mere blind
devotion--nothing of value is attained. An honest religious attitude of
a formal kind can go together, on the one hand, with spiritual poverty
and blindness, and, on the other, with hatred and passion. How sad the
condition of things in general has often been even when religion has
shown a strong development of power! How often the help of divine power
has been invoked even in the commission of crime! If, however, the value
of religion and its effect on the substance of life are measured
according to its spiritual content, then this content necessarily
becomes the chief object of attention and conduct. We can assure
ourselves of the relation to a supernatural power only from the
experiences of the spiritual life, and not previously to this life and
independently of it. The relation of life to the spiritual life must
therefore necessarily precede its relation to God; life must be certain
of a universal spiritual character before it can assume a truly
religious one.

We find the case to be no different as regards the system of Immanent
Idealism. It is open to considerable doubt whether the world as it lies
before us can be looked upon as a pure unfolding of the spiritual life,
as this Idealism asserts. In any case, for the spiritual life to
comprehend the world within itself it must itself be established as a
universal power, and clearly distinguished from mere man. Otherwise the
way of Immanent Idealism leads to an anthropomorphism of a more refined
kind; and there is a danger that the whole world which this system
champions may be criticised hostilely and rejected as simply human.
Immanent Idealism, therefore, also points to the problem of substantial
spiritual life.

The naturalistic systems do the same thing in a different way, and this,
indeed, in contradiction to their main contention. For, when they
attempted to produce a system from themselves, they could achieve their
object only in that they were implicitly based upon the spiritual life,
and introduced again indirectly that which they had previously rejected.
They are developments of the spiritual life in particular directions and
under particular circumstances: they think that they are able to
accomplish out of their own resources something which they accomplish
only with the help of a fundamental spiritual life; and so the more
consistent they are in their denial of an independent spirituality the
more inevitably they lose all internal coherence.

Thus from whatever point we start we come to the question of an
independent spirituality; an answer to this question is involved in
every system of life. But as its implications are not distinctly
recognised, it does not receive its proper due. If we consider the
question adequately, it will be found that a universal life must precede
all differentiation and division; and that from this life each movement
must receive a new elucidation. A multiplicity within the whole is quite
intelligible, because it is a development of the spiritual life, not
absolutely, that is in question, but in relation to the position of man
and under the conditions to which he is subject. The desire to give
greater stability to our life in opposition to the never-ceasing flow of
appearances that constitutes our immediate existence, also compels us
strongly to emphasise the importance of the relation to the spiritual
life, which is acknowledged as independent. Without an elevation above
this constant change all spiritual work must inevitably become
disintegrated, and no truth of any kind would be possible to us. In the
Modern Age especially there is a keen desire for a firm basis, as a
secure support of life as a whole. But it is useless to seek this basis
in life as we immediately experience it, whether in thought, in
activity, or in anything else; for in the whole life of immediate
experience there is nothing that is free from change. To seek this basis
in a particular point is also to no purpose, even if one could be raised
to a position above change; for it could not operate beyond itself in
such a way as to support the rest of life. If, therefore, we would not
submit to a dissolution of life, we must seek a basis for it beyond its
immediate state and in a whole of life. Such a whole of life is offered
only by the spiritual life, which, transcending man, is also immanent in
him. Of course this cannot be taken possession of immediately at the
beginning of the journey of life; but it is held up to us as an aim, and
we can only gradually approach it. But how could it operate within us
thus, if our life had not some kind of participation in it from the
beginning; if our life were not in some way based in the spiritual life,
and in progressive activity only developed the spiritual that is in it?
For unless we are based in the spiritual life we should drift helplessly
to and fro in uncertainty, and our endeavour would never be
intelligible. From this point of view also, our relation to the
spiritual life is seen to be the fundamental problem that must precede
all others.

If there can be no doubt that the problem of life is comprehended most
universally when we view it in relation to the spiritual life, there may
be all the more uncertainty whether all characteristic form and, with
it, all deep-reaching effect are not lost by reason of this
universality. If the conception of the spiritual life involved its usual
vagueness, this would in reality be the case, for recourse to it would
not effect any fundamental transformation of the immediate condition of
life; and we should not rise above the mere combination of its various
movements. The case is quite otherwise if the spiritual life is
distinguished clearly from the human and is acknowledged to be an
independent world. So understood, it must show a particular content, a
new structure of life, and must give a distinct form to everything that
it takes up into itself. It is necessary to consider, also, its relation
to the world of sense, and we may expect to be faced in this matter with
complications and problems that will agitate our life in its whole
extent, and set it in a new light.

In the spiritual life we recognised a new world, a realm of inwardness,
which has become independent. Within this realm life cannot be directed
to something alien, but can be occupied only with itself, with its own
development. Its experiences cannot be related to externals; they must
lie in itself. Now, have we any knowledge of a movement that reaches
back in this manner to the elements of life? We perceive a movement of
this kind clearly enough. In the first place, all development of the
spiritual life shows, even within the individual, the attribute that a
universal mode of thought, conviction, disposition, sets itself in the
single function and continues present within it. The tendencies and
manifestations of the spiritual are not all at the same level of
development, but since a universal activity, a comprehensive and
persistent deed, is present in the particular manifestation, the process
acquires a depth, and a single act is able to give expression to a
tendency of the whole as well as to react upon it.

But this movement extends beyond the immediate state of the soul of the
individual to spiritual work, and gives it a particular form. Life as a
whole, as reality's consciousness of itself, may be regarded as
throughout capable of a multiplicity, as containing within itself
different sides and possibilities. Since its evolution produces this
multiplicity, life as a whole can express itself in the individual
aspects and tendencies; expand them till they become different
departments; experience itself in particular ways in these departments,
and in so doing achieve a development of its own; it is able also to
bring these departments and their developments into their relation to
one another. Since thus, within the world as a whole, life concentrates
in different ways, and the particular tendencies which thus arise meet
and enter into conflict with one another, and since their conflict is in
particular a contest to determine the form of the whole, there is
revealed the prospect of a wealth of experiences which come not from
without but out of the movement of life itself, and spring from its
occupation with itself. The conflict between the different movements of
life must bring the whole into a state of tension and lead it to further
development. In the progressive formation of itself, in the development
of a reality conscious of itself, life through its movement finds itself
and develops a content. This movement will summon all the psychical
powers of man to activity; it cannot possibly proceed from them. If we
are to take part in the building up of that inner world, a spiritual
creative activity from the basis of our being must be operative through
these psychical functions, uniting them, and applying them as means and

If, for us men, life becomes conscious of its content only through
movement and conflict, nevertheless this content may not be regarded as
ultimately proceeding from them. If, as a whole, life did not transcend
movement and conflict, if the latter were not included within a
self-conscious and self-determining life, then they could yield no
inner result, and could not lead to the further development of the
whole. The attempts to derive this self-conscious and self-determining
life from ontological conceptions such as "being," "whole," "movement,"
and so on, as the older metaphysics often undertook to do; or the
tendency to treat it only as a supplement to them, are to be dismissed
most decisively. The fundamental qualities that the spiritual life
evolves always presuppose a self-conscious life and become intelligible
only in relation to it. Without it, the conceptions of the true and the
good remain in complete obscurity, as will be shown later in more

If our human reflection often advances from the indefinite to the
definite, from the abstract to the concrete, this does not involve that
the latter is originated from the former: the advance could not be
achieved unless that which comes at the end was operative from the
beginning as its basis and presupposition.

If a self-conscious life unfolds itself with an increasing content
through all departments and activities of life, then these departments
will have their meaning and their value primarily in that which they
accomplish for the further development of that life, and in the
particular tendencies that they add to it: this yields a treatment and a
standard of value different from those which we are led to if we make
the psychical states of the individual our starting-point. The treatment
of religion, for example, as a mere occurrence of an unrestrained
psychical life may understand by religion a particular agitation of this
or that psychical function; but with this we do not obtain a spiritual
content. Again, it is not evident how a world of thought formed from
such an individual psychical life could acquire an independence of man,
and lift him above the position in which it finds him. The problem of
religion attains quite a different basis if the spiritual movements and
contents which emerge with it are emphasised; with this it develops and
discloses the reality of the spiritual life more deeply. Then through it
we may discover and win something that alters the condition of life,
transcends the immediate life of the soul, and is able to exert an
elevating influence upon man. The value and the truth of a particular
religion will be judged in the first place by the nature of the
spiritual substance that it offers, and the degree in which, in its
advance, it is able to join itself to the movement of life as a whole
and to guide it further. A great divergence is possible between this
spiritual substance and the movement and passion that call forth a
religion on the basis of humanity: the real is, in human relations, by
no means without further consideration to be regarded as rational.

The case of the other departments of life is the same as that of
religion: the character and the value of all achievement depend entirely
upon the range and the kind of substantial spirituality that they
evolve. The same is valid of whole epochs and cultures, of peoples and
individuals. The exertion of the greatest energy upon externals and the
most revolutionary transformation of human conditions cannot protect us
from becoming inwardly destitute, or lead us beyond mere appearance to
genuine reality. On the contrary, the experience of history shows often
enough that spiritual revivals have been accompanied in their origin and
growth by manifestations externally insignificant; and that something
which struggles against the broad stream of human life fundamentally
changes the standards and values of our existence.

Our whole spiritual life, therefore, constitutes a problem; it is an
indefatigable seeking and pressing forward. In self-consciousness the
framework is given which has to be filled; in it we have acquired only
the basis upon which the superstructure has to be raised. We have to
find experiences in life itself, to reveal something new, to develop
life, to increase its range and its depth. The endeavour to advance in
spirituality, to win itself through struggle, is the soul of the life of
the individual and of the work of universal history: where there is no
endeavour of this kind, there is no true life and no genuine history;
our activity in relation to the world as a whole assumes a different
form, and the world is represented differently and presents to us
different problems according to that which is attained here in the basal
structure of life. Life's struggle for itself, for its own content, its
own truth, is the greatest and most intense of all struggles.

The passion which animates all the endeavour after a revelation of life
and to win life itself is no other than the desire for a genuine
reality: for a being within the activity, for a full as opposed to an
empty life. If the formation of reality from within once begins, and the
desire for a substantial inwardness gains the day over the merely
subjective, then the intolerable inadequacy of all that is usually
called life is bound to be strongly felt. The growth of intelligence has
led man beyond the life of nature and its blind actuality. In
intelligence, the inner life already proves far too independent to be
satisfied with being a mere appearance accompanying nature. With this
evolution the psychical powers win a greater freedom, and man is able to
face his environment more boldly: indeed, in his thought he can grasp an
infinity; and in arousing and using all his powers he may hope from his
own position, in the interaction of subject and environment, to give to
life a content, and thus to make it a genuine life. But here the
limitation of man and the contradictory character of life as it is
immediately experienced soon come to be felt. All the rousing of forces,
all the passing backwards and forwards between subject and object that
we experience in the immediate condition of life, does not lead beyond
interaction, and yields no content: it does not raise life to a
self-conscious and self-determining life; so that, in spite of all its
activity, our life in this condition remains inwardly alien. There is
thus an enormous disparity between the means that are offered and the
aims that are reached; an inward unrest; an incessant conflict, without
any prospect of victory, against the ever-recurring tendency to become
spiritually destitute; a state of dissatisfaction in the midst of all
results of an external kind. Only the revelation of a self-conscious
life, a life which itself evolves as a reality, can be the source of
progress, and lead from appearances and shadows to a genuine life.

It is apparent that with such an aim a task is presented that dominates
and comprehends the whole extent of our existence. We have to take up
everything into that self-conscious and self-determining life and to
transform the condition of life as it lies immediately before us. A
demand of this kind is not limited to a change of this or that; it
implies a complete transformation and renewal. It not only involves the
whole multiplicity of life, but it must also itself tend to bring about
an increase in the multiplicity; indeed, this task first gives the
multiplicity a firm foundation and an inner value. For the development
and the formation of self-conscious life, it is essential, as we saw,
that life concentrate in particular tendencies and departments; that the
whole place itself in them, and return to itself from them; and that by
this they develop a life of their own and give rise to their own
experiences. To act thus, to advance the whole in its own development,
the individual concentrations of life must possess an inner spiritual
unity which comprehends and dominates all multiplicity. This is seen in
the case of individuals, peoples, epochs, and whole civilisations: only
by overcoming the state of confusion and division in which they at first
find themselves do they come to wrestle with the spiritual life as a
whole and win a spiritual character. These unities of life, however,
will enter into the most diverse relations with the whole and with one
another; and since in so doing they further self-conscious and
self-determining life, they develop reality without limit. From all the
facts we have considered we see that, with the attainment of
independence by the spiritual life, there emerges a distinctive kind of
being which everywhere exerts its activity, holds up a new aim, and
desires a transformation: life is for the first time placed on a firm
foundation, and taken possession of in the deepest source of its

(d) _Human Existence_

For the construction of a new system of life, this independent nature of
the spiritual life is primary and most essential. Such construction is
dependent in the second place upon the relation in which the development
of the self-conscious and self-determining life of reality stands to the
position and to the activity of man; in particular whether it wins this
position and activity for itself with ease or meets with definite
opposition. Now, there cannot be any doubt that the recognition of the
fact of the development of the spiritual life to independence of man, as
we traced it, must make us feel that the state of things at the usual
level of human life is most unsatisfactory. It is not that one or
another aspect is inadequate, but that as a whole it is definitely
opposed to the requirements of an independent spiritual life. For the
spirituality that is evolved here is treated for the most part as a mere
means in the pursuit of human welfare. Civilisation, at the level at
which we are most accustomed to it, lifts man above mere nature, but at
the same time it forces him into rivalry and conflict with his equals,
and leads him to expect happiness from victory. This is the case not
only among individuals but also among nations. Since the desire and the
conflict for more generate an indescribable amount of excitement and
passion, life seems to be full, whereas in reality it is entirely
lacking in content, and behind the tumult is felt to be empty. But man
has no intention of giving up all claim to a share in genuine
spirituality: and so he gives a better outward appearance to his
endeavour and his conduct, and practises deceit upon himself as well as
upon others. Genuine spiritual life cannot possibly proceed from
circumstances so contradictory and so confused. Neither can such
circumstances produce the concentration of life that is necessary for
the strengthening and advancement of the spiritual life. It is not the
abuse of some one thing that provokes attack: it is not a particular
failing, but the ordinary daily course which, unresistingly, man is
accustomed to accept as his world, that shows in its successes no less
than in its failures the greatest divergence from genuine spirituality.
It is just at the point where man becomes proud of his own doings and
makes much ostentatious display that he can least of all conceal the
spiritual poverty and the foolishness of his way of thinking.

Attempts to attribute the responsibility of all limitation to man and
his will, to find the root of all evil in the moral failings of
humanity, have not been wanting. Universal religions have given these
attempts an embodiment. It has seemed as though the harmony of reality
is only disturbed by man, and as though his moral restoration were the
only thing necessary to lead to all good. To be sure, such a way of
thinking manifests a disposition of great seriousness, and it may appeal
to the fact that the perplexity of our existence is nowhere more real
than in reference to the ethical problem. Still, there is no possibility
of doubt for the man of the Modern Age that this conception is too
narrow; that it not only contradicts indisputable impressions and
experiences, but also takes the question much too subjectively and too
anthropomorphically, and thus falls into the danger of doing harm to the
cause that it wishes to serve. It is not simply our disposition, it is
our being as a whole and the circumstances that we are in, which
obstinately oppose the emergence and the development of an independent
spiritual world. It is the most elementary forms of life themselves that
prevent the elevation of our existence to the level of a genuine
spiritual life. We cannot blind ourselves to the fact that the greater
part of our life is bound up with a form of existence in which it is not
able to embrace the spiritual life. Any kind of appropriation of the
spiritual--if it is at all possible--can be effected therefore only in
opposition to that form of existence. In genuine spiritual life all
movement should proceed from the whole and should be sustained by the
whole, even when it is concentrated in the individual departments and
tendencies. Human existence presents the spectacle of individuals ranged
side by side; and if a movement to overcome the original inertia is to
begin at all, their impulses, their desire for happiness, and their
conflicts are necessary. The spiritual life knows no limits; it works
and creates from the infinite whole: the individual is narrowly limited,
and with all his activity and work constitutes but a tiny point in the
infinite whole. The spiritual life presents its content as transcending
time; even if for us it is only gradually revealed, time is in this a
mere means to the presentation of an eternal and immutable truth: man,
however, drifts with time; is dependent upon the momentary situation,
and experiences himself in an incessant change: how can he comprehend
the eternal? Spiritual creation is effected in the transcending of the
antithesis of subject and object: human endeavour is conditioned by this
antithesis. The former with its self-determining activity overcomes from
within the attachment to sense: man even in the highest flight of his
endeavour cannot withdraw himself from it. From the altitudes occupied
by the spiritual life submission to the impulses and the goods of sense
seems to be something mean and base: and yet without these man cannot
possibly preserve his life; he has not conferred sensuous needs and
desires upon himself by an act of will, but finds himself endowed with
them from the beginning. Spiritual life with its formation from within
banishes from itself all mechanism; all compulsion of blind actuality:
without a mechanism in thought and in conduct, without habits and
methods determined by custom, human life cannot attain to an enduring
stability either in the case of the individual or in that of society.
Thus, through the ever-present necessity of self-preservation and
self-renewal, human life is compulsorily related to something, bound to
something, that not only is not adequate to fulfil the tasks of an
independent spiritual life, but is directly opposed to them. There is
something in our life which we cannot dispense with, yet which, from the
spiritual point of view, it is an imperative duty to shake off.

We see clearly enough that it is not merely our will that is in play,
but that two worlds conflict within us, and that the world to which we
primarily belong, according to the testimony of experience, holds us
fixed with superior power, and draws back to itself all movement which
strives upward. If, in particular, the dimness and the weakness of the
spiritual life in man; its severance from its source; its disintegration
into isolated powers; and, finally, the moral perversity which human
existence exhibits, and the debasement of spiritual power to a mere
means for natural or social self-preservation, become clear to us, then
it is evident that a compromise between such a pitiable and shallow
confusion and a genuine spiritual life is absolutely impossible. The
acknowledgment of an independent spiritual world tends only to increase
the contradiction and make us more clearly conscious of it.

A clear consciousness of the inadequacy of the human is especially
important and necessary in contrast to the utter confusion which reigns
with regard to the spiritual life and vitiates the whole of the
endeavour of the present. The increasing transference of life to the
world of sense has led the present age to abandon all inner bonds of
mankind. The endeavour of Antiquity to lift our life above the
insignificantly human by giving it a share in the greatness and
magnificence of the whole, and the attempt of Christianity to give a new
nature to life from the relation to God, appear to the present age to be
Utopian. Since the faith of modern Idealism in the immanent universal
reason has become more and more dim, man is thrown back more and more
exclusively upon himself, upon man as he is, upon empirical society.
There has grown up a strong belief that this empirical existence is
quite sufficient in itself, and is able to satisfy our spiritual needs
from itself. The ennobling of man, the improvement of his condition
within this existence, becomes the aim of aims. Now, this presupposes
that within the province of man, the good, even if it does not entirely
preponderate, is still confident of a triumphant advance. It
presupposes, further, that the establishment of a certain state of life
will bring complete happiness with it. At the same time, all that is
disagreeable in human experience--the power of selfishness and pride;
the weakness of love; the feebleness of all spiritual impulse; the
incessant increase of the struggle for existence, with the consequent
degeneration of the inwardness of the whole--appears with dazzling
clearness to the more refined perception of the modern man. After even a
little consideration he cannot doubt that, if, in spite of all
limitations, an unclouded state of human well-being could be
established; if all pain could be banished from our life, life would
fall into the power of the other and worse enemy--emptiness and
monotony. As a refuge from such perplexities there is a tendency to flee
to society and history. From the point of view of humanity as a whole
and with the thought of a better future, all defects and losses of
individuals seem to vanish; the hope of an unceasing progressive
development rises above the feeling of the unsatisfactoriness of the
condition of the moment. But what are these relations of empirical
humanity other than those of a mere collection of individuals who never
become an inner community, and what is empirical history other than a
mere succession which never produces an inner unity of movement? In the
appeal to the former, as in that to the latter, it is only
surreptitiously that something essential can appear to be acquired. In
reality, conceptions are here made use of which in other relations have
a meaning, but which here signify nothing more than empty abstractions,
simply subjective constructions of thought. However, notwithstanding all
the glossing over, the real state of things must ultimately assert
itself: pessimism must then be the last word, and the belief in a
rationality in human existence must finally be given up. The faith in
the greatness of the empirical man is, indeed, of all faiths the
boldest. For, if the other faiths proclaim a new reality in contrast
with the world of sense, they have the possibility of one in an
invisible world. In the case that we are considering, however,
experience itself must offer more than mere experience; we must not only
be certain of a thing that we do not see, but that which we do not see
must coincide with that which exists immediately before us. Such a
position is no longer a faith, but a gross contradiction, a complete

(e) _Results and Prospects_

The immediate experience of man may by no means be rejected as a whole
on this account; if it were, spiritual work itself would degenerate and
lack content. However, we only need to take up into a whole the
impressions and experiences which each in his sphere acknowledges to be
indisputable, and it will be clear that a movement toward spiritual
independence can never proceed from such a pitiable state of confusion
as that which is thereby seen to exist. It is essential that the
movement toward spiritual independence have an independent starting
point, and proceed on its own course. Only then is it able to select and
appropriate the spirituality that exists in those confused experiences,
and at the same time purify and strengthen it. We may most decisively
reject all presumption to sovereignty on the part of the human realm;
nevertheless, for the construction of a spiritual world that realm
cannot be dispensed with. For this construction is not peacefully and
securely accomplished through the self-development of a spiritual power
placed in us, as was supposed by those who attempted to represent
reality as a whole as a cosmic process of thought. If through the
joyfulness of its faith and the definiteness of its undertaking this
attempt captivated the minds of men for a time, at last it was
frustrated by the fact that we men do not find ourselves immediately in
the atmosphere of reason, but have first through toil to raise ourselves
into it; that we have to do not with absolute spiritual life, but with
spiritual life under the conditions and limitations of human existence.
Thus, in the first place an independent spiritual life, a universal
self-consciousness, must work in us and be changed in our activity; and
this can be accomplished only by a revolutionary transformation of life
as we immediately experience it; only by the attainment of a new point
of view. But if at this point of view certain fundamentals of a new
world become evident, they are as yet only fundamentals, and, without
the help of a world of immediate existence, without recourse to the
movements and experiences of human life, they cannot be completely
developed and embodied. The complete development of a self-conscious
reality is by no means made possible by combining an original spiritual
movement with the world of sense brought to meet it. For the spiritual
life can be furthered by coming into contact with that world only so far
as the spiritual life takes it up and transforms it; the situation is
rather that the spiritual movement wrests a content from sense
experience and at the same time is raised in itself; it is a realisation
of self through the other. The further the movement advances the more
one may win one's own in what is apparently alien; the more that which
is really alien may be separated and opposed. Thus we have a
characteristic picture of the spiritual life in man; only the more
detailed treatment can confirm it.

The matter of greatest importance to the whole, and the one upon which
all hope of success rests, is that the movement towards an independent
spirituality, to the building up of a new world, should, in spite of the
opposition of immediate circumstances, become manifest also in the human
sphere in characteristic operation, and that it should establish stable
bases in this sphere and rise upon them to the highest by means of work.
We have now to investigate more closely, to demonstrate more exactly,
and as far as possible to show that at all the chief points of life such
movements begin; that one such movement advances another; and that all
are associated in a community of striving, and that from here the
spiritual movement that we see in history is lit up, strengthened, and
for the first time rendered practicable.

2. The Transformation and the Elevation of Human Life

(a) _Aims and Ways_

The question before us is whether any kind of transcendence of the gulf
between the spiritual world and man is effected; whether that world, in
spite of its antithesis to the world of sense, manifests itself also
with a characteristic effect in our sphere, and thereby inaugurates a
movement which takes possession of our whole life and advances it. Only
on the result of such an inquiry can we judge whether man is able again
to establish his position, which has been so shaken in the course of
modern culture; and to save the courage and faith of life from violent
changes and convulsions. At the same time we must ascertain whether the
representation of the spiritual life that we have sketched is true in
reference to things as they are found in the human sphere.

To be sure, proof or verification through experience is, in the case of
this problem, in the highest degree peculiar. No definite reality
spreads itself before us by which we must test the validity of our
representations of thought. Representation and object cannot be simply
brought into coincidence, but as life, which we wish to comprehend, is
found in movement, and as, further, in immediate experience genuine fact
and the form assumed by it in the idea of man are confused, so the
revelation of the spiritual life does not come to us immediately, but
has first to be extricated and wrested from the most diverse errors and
half-truths. Every attempt to obtain proof from experience rests on the
conviction that a movement of the kind, the recognition of which is
being fought for by us, is already in some way in process everywhere
where human life goes beyond mere nature; and that only the clear
comprehension of the aim and the taking it up with complete
self-conscious and self-determining activity are lacking. If now the aim
which is presented is the right one, that is, that which is implied in
the spiritual movement of life itself, then its acknowledgment and
appropriation must tend to the elucidation, the unification, and the
strengthening of all endeavour tending in the direction of this
movement; it must lead to a development and an elevation of life above
the condition in which it is immediately experienced. In the first
place, it must be shown that the connections, preparations, directions
in life in its general condition, tend towards the new according to its
chief demands; and, further, it must be shown that the existing
condition is raised essentially through becoming comprehended by the
revealed universal movement, and is led to its own perfection. Again, it
has to be shown that thus life wins a more precise content and a greater
power in its every aspect: that which is present in all human endeavour
as a necessary requirement must now become more intelligible, and at the
same time from something impossible of fulfilment to something possible,
and reveal new aspects and new tasks. Further, those elements which at
first sight exist unconnected side by side and tend to limit one another
must unite, and must strengthen one another. On the other hand,
divisions must arise: it is as necessary energetically to reject that
which follows wrong aims as to come to a peaceful settlement with that
which errs only in the means. The antitheses which the work of humanity
contains must also become intelligible, and at the same time a way must
be prepared by which these antitheses may be overcome, not one by which
merely a compromise between them may be arrived at. The breaking forth
of the new must tend always toward the self-elevation of life; with
arousing and strengthening power, it must take up the whole of life into
its movement: it must demonstrate a transcendence of all the reflection
and subjectivity of man, and this can be accomplished only through the
disclosure of new forms and contents of life. Accordingly attention must
in the first place be centred upon the pointing out of such new forms
and contents.

The union of the spiritual life with man, its being firmly rooted in
him, is seen to be at the same time something old and something
new--something old in so far as it must have been existent and in some
way effective from the beginning, something new in so far as its
distinct emergence and its transition to a state of self-determining
activity must alter the condition of things essentially; in fact, must
turn life as a whole into a problem. Where the reality of man is
reduced, as by Hegel, solely to an unfolding of thought and cognition,
the present may find its most important task in the complete
clarification and appropriation of the past; life comes to complete
satisfaction in the drawing of historical achievement to itself. Where
it is a question of the building up of a reality based on self-conscious
and self-determining activity, when we ourselves share in such activity,
we must find ourselves in an essentially different relation to things;
and with all the connection with the past, life will press forward,
changing and elevating in contrast with the whole past.

     *     *     *     *     *

A contact, indeed a union, must therefore be established between the
independent spiritual world--which in some way must be operative in
us--and the activity of our own which struggles upward; and, through the
gain of such a contact, that world must be led to more complete
organisation, and that which strives upward made secure, unified, and
advanced. In this it is essential that the movements and the demands
which the fundamental idea of the spiritual life contains be present to
our minds. The spiritual life appears, so we saw reason to believe, in
the first place, to be something essentially new in contrast to the life
of nature. The spiritual life is not the product of a gradual
development from the life of nature, but has an independent origin, and
evolves new powers and standards: new beginnings must, therefore, be
recognisable in us if the spiritual life is to become our life. The new,
however, manifested a development of the inner life to independence in
opposition to its state of subjection at the level of nature, and so
thus in man also the inner life must in some way come to itself and
attain to freedom. We saw, further, that this development to
independence cannot be brought about through new achievements in a given
world, but that it needs the building up of a new world--a new basis for
life: it extends even to the final basal forms; not any kind of activity
could suffice, but a being within the activity, or, rather, a division
of activity into something sustaining and comprehending on the one hand,
and something demonstrating and producing on the other, is necessary. It
is only thus that life becomes turned toward itself and elevated to a
self-conscious life; activity to self-determining activity; experience
to self-conscious experience. Man could not participate in such a
self-conscious and self-determining life, if in him also a new life, a
spiritual self, had not begun to be in some way. It is impossible for
this self to be merely individual in nature: it can change the form of
things and convey a new world only if it encompasses the multiplicity
and experiences it as its own. An infinite self-conscious and
self-determining life must not only include man within itself; it must
become his own life, his true self.

To realise this life, this self, in more detail and to pass from mere
impulse to fruitful work, such as the building up of a new reality
necessitates, man must in some way transcend in his own sphere the mere
juxtaposition of individual powers. Connections must be formed within
the realm of man that somehow deal with that task and advance towards
its accomplishment in a way that is beyond the capacity of individuals.
A transcendence of the antithesis of subject and object, that dominates
the greater part of life, is also essential to the new life; an
energetic revolution must raise life to a state of resting upon itself,
to autonomy: and so in man also movements must appear in opposition to
this antithesis--condensations and concentrations, in which life from
being a movement hither and thither becomes a forming of reality from
within. In these connections only out of a self-development of life has
a reality arisen at all; and its content was not there complete at the
outset, but was yielded only through the continuance of that
self-development: it must be shown, therefore, that in man also life
begins to turn toward itself, and that this makes it possible to attempt
tasks which to our capacity are otherwise inaccessible.

It is necessary to acknowledge that in all the spiritual movement which
appears in the domain of man, there is a revelation of the spiritual
world: as merely human power cannot lead the whole to new heights, in
all development of the spiritual life the communication of the new world
must precede the activity of man. At the same time, where we are
concerned with a life that is independent, and of which the activity is
conscious and self-determined, the change cannot possibly simply _happen
to_ man: it must be taken up by his own activity; it needs his own
decision and acceptance.

We shall consider the question of the possibility of this almost
immediately: so much, however, is certain--that this necessity of a
decision by man himself makes the matter far more complex and of far
greater risk. The establishment of an independent spiritual life in man
finds its chief enemy not in nature, but in the limitation and
perversion of spiritual impulse through man's subordinating it to his
own ends. The chief conflict is not between spirit and nature, but
between real and false spirituality. Thus thought emerges in man, seeks
a representation of the world and would in this attain to truth; but
when this striving first appears, man is wont to treat himself as the
central point of the whole, to measure the whole of infinity according
to what it achieves in relation to him, and to see reflections of
himself throughout its whole extent. And so we have the anthropomorphic
way of thinking, the nature of which we have become aware of only
through toil during the progress of the work of culture; a way of
thinking from which it has needed even more toil to protect ourselves,
and which, in forms often hardly noticeable, is ever ready to appear
again and to draw the spiritual movement into its paths. With the
emergence of the spiritual life, man becomes more free in relation to
his environment; more free also in relation to the necessities of mere
nature: his activity can exert itself more independently, concern itself
with lofty aims, strive towards the infinite. But all this capacity
becomes drawn into the service of the human; the wishes and the desires
of the individual grow to an enormous extent. Since out of the struggle
for existence, with its natural limitation, an interminable struggle for
more existence arises, naïve self-preservation becomes transformed into
an unrestricted egoism. That the more-than-human which appears in the
domain of man should be employed to the advancement of the merely human
is a danger that is present even at the highest stages of development:
at one time man would prove his own power in the more-than-human; at
another, and this more especially, he treats it as a means to attain his
material welfare. Religion, for example, would reveal to man a new depth
of reality, and so create a new life for him; and yet, how often even
this new reality is degraded to a means for the preservation of his
insignificant personality, and regarded as something which on his behalf
guides the whole world aright!

The development of the spiritual life in the human sphere can thus be
seen to be anything but a sure and steady progress; every step forward
brings new dangers; unutterable confusion arises through the use and the
perversion of the new in the interests of man. But, if the development
of the spiritual life within man is thus an unceasing conflict against
human error, this conflict, despite its exhibition of the littleness of
man, is at the same time a witness to his greatness. For it shows not
only that the spiritual movement needs the active co-operation of man,
but also that there is a conflict within humanity itself against the
perversion of the spiritual; that there must be more within man and
operative in him than the narrowly human. Indeed, in nothing does man
seem greater than in this development of a more-than-human within the
domain of man, in this severe and untiring conflict with himself. How
could this conflict arise and become the soul of universal history if
man did not possess a life and being transcending his particularity, and
if he did not realise more in himself than we at the first glance see in
him? The error of Positivism is that, although it shows most clearly how
this spiritual movement dissolves the forms of life as it is immediately
experienced, it does not perceive and value the fact that, at the same
time, a new life, an inner life emerges; that, indeed, the negation
itself is possible only through a more comprehensive spiritual
revelation. To consider the negative and the positive in their relation
to each other, and to weigh them one against the other, is the
indispensable condition for the adequate understanding of human life.

(b) _The Nature of Freedom_

The arousing of a new world to life within man is a problem and a task:
it cannot be effected unless the spontaneity and self-determining
activity that are distinctive of this world also manifest themselves
within him. Further, it cannot be effected unless within man, who with
the greater part of his being belongs primarily to nature, a deliverance
from nature is accomplished and the centre of life is removed to its
spiritual side; and this cannot happen without the co-operation of man.
We need freedom, therefore, in two senses: as the presence of an
independent inner life, and as man's capacity to change--and we cannot
fail to recognise that these are closely related.

Now, the impressions and experiences of modern life are opposed to
freedom in both of these senses; indeed, with apparently insuperable
force they oppose freedom in every sense. Modern science most clearly
shows that man belongs to a great world-whole and world-movement; his
life and work seem to be completely determined through his relations in
this whole; his whole life is subject to an irresistible destiny, and in
all his undertakings and conduct he can only follow the course directed
by it. This destiny assumes for us the most diverse forms; and through
this diversity surrounds us on all sides. Through the power of heredity
we enter life with a definite nature: in the family, the state, and the
society a particular kind of environment surrounds us and gives to our
nature its more detailed colouring: the age meets us with particular
tendencies, takes us up into itself with a supreme power, and just as
decidedly directs us towards certain ends as it diverts us from others.

Even in earlier times all this was not ignored, so far as the individual
aspects are concerned; but the Modern Age was the first to conceive the
problem as a whole, and with this it has pursued the idea of
determination even into the inner structure of the life of the soul,
with the demonstration that here also nothing is spontaneous, nothing
unmeditated, but that even down to the most primary impulse everything
depends upon something else, and proceeds from definite relations. From
this point of view the idea of freedom, and in particular that of a
freedom of choice, appears to be only a remnant of an unscientific way
of thinking. The fact that man feels--as an immediate impression--free
in cases of hesitation between different possibilities has lost its
power to convince the individual of the Modern Age. For the new mode of
thought has evolved point for point along with an increasing divergence
from the naïve manner of representation, and it has won its greatest
victories in opposition to this manner of representation. The revolution
that Copernicus accomplished in the representation of the world has
become typical of the whole of modern work; and as regards our problem
also, dissent from ordinary opinion is less a cause for doubt than a

However, our attitude in regard to this problem has, indeed, been
essentially changed by modern thought. There can be no further talk of a
vague freedom of the will, of a capacity to act in one manner or
another unaffected by anything that preceded and by the whole
environment; the fact of the subjection of man to a destiny, both
external and internal, is forced upon us with overwhelming power.
Whether the idea of freedom in every sense is shown to be invalid is
another question; perhaps the problem is not so much solved as put on
one side. In any case, if a fundamental problem--one that has been
discussed from the earliest times--is suddenly declared to be finally
solved, the suspicion must soon arise that the solution appears to be
self-evident only because certain presuppositions which are in no way
self-evident are implicitly assumed in it.

The surrender of every kind of freedom meets in the first place with the
suspicion that thereby far more is lost than we think or intend; that
much is lost to which it is impossible to surrender all claim. Great
trouble is taken to prove that the denial of freedom by no means does
away with the possibility of an ethical moulding of life. Yet it might
be shown without difficulty that, in attempts of this kind, either the
freedom, rejected in its ordinary sense, finds entrance again altered
and deepened--as, for example, in the philosophy of Spinoza--or the
ethic that remains after freedom has been denied retains only the name,
and in itself signifies something merely mechanical. But why do we
insist upon the ethical; why does so much depend upon its continuance?
For this reason: that upon it depends whether life merely _happens to_
us or also _from_ us; whether we are simply parts of a rigid
world-mechanism or self-determining co-operators in the building up of
reality. If the former hypothesis is true, we are no more than the
platform upon which events become connected; and we can possess no other
unity than a summation of the multiplicity. A unity of this kind could
not possibly attain to independence and transcendence; could not make an
inner judgment upon events; could not take up a conflict in opposition
to the condition of life as it is immediately experienced. The
conception of conduct would inevitably be degraded to that of mere
occurrence. We should cease to have inner unity and be comprehensive
selves; we should not be able to speak of disposition and conviction:
for it is of the essence of all these things that they cannot be
imparted, but must arise newly and spontaneously just in the individual,
and for this a concentration of life, an elevation to self-conscious and
self-determining activity, is necessary.

Where inner unity and such an activity are lacking, a true present does
not exist. For if, through the all-dominant relation of cause and
effect, that which comes later proceeds in certain sequence from that
which came earlier, our whole existence is only a stream of occurrences,
and that which is called present is nothing more than the point of
transition from the past to the future. Now, a real present can be
reached from such an apparent present only if an independent task
originates at this point, and a decision has to be made: the more our
whole life and being here become a problem again, the more securely
might we trust to the possibility of advancing beyond all previous
achievement, and of a spontaneous breaking forth of new powers, the more
will our life be transformed into a genuine present. A genuine present
does not exist within the sequence, but above it; it cannot come to us
opportunely, but must be attained through our own activity: it is our
own work. It is, therefore, not a common and equal possession, but is
differently constituted according to the individual. The present is the
more real and comprehensive for us the more spiritual power we evolve
and the more spiritual content we give to life. Thus the present is not
a mere point in the succession of times, a mere ripple in the stream of
appearances, but involves a counteraction to this flow; its formation is
to be accomplished only by the placing of life in the region of the
spontaneous, the independent, the time-transcendent.

All the losses in individual matters are, however, only appearances and
parts of a universal loss that the surrender of freedom involves. This
loss is no other than that of an independent nature-transcending
spiritual life in general. Spontaneity is no subsidiary quality, the
disappearance of which might only involve a modification; with it, the
spiritual life as a whole stands or falls. The experience of history
also shows clearly enough that that which has in any way reached a
spiritual height never persists by simply existing, but that, if it is
not to degenerate rapidly, it must proceed ever anew from spontaneous
creative activity. The law of nature, that everything remains in its
existent state of rest or motion until it is acted upon from without, is
not true of the spiritual: of it nothing abides that is not continually
brought forth anew.

The surrender of freedom, therefore, means no less than the inner
destruction of the spiritual life. And before we submit to this we shall
feel compelled to make a more careful inquiry, to see whether the
arguments against freedom are really so cogent as they are represented.
They do exert a compelling force, but only so long as their
presuppositions are admitted and held to be unassailable. That they are
not unassailable will become evident as soon as we clearly recognise
their nature and implications.

If the world forms a closed and "given" system, in which every
particular is determined completely by its position in the whole, there
is no place for spontaneity. The question of freedom has no meaning for
man if he belongs solely and entirely to such a world, and within it has
only to weigh aims one against another. But in accordance with the
results of our investigation we contest these two presuppositions most
decidedly. To an investigation that begins with the life-process as the
basis of its treatment, it is certain that a "given" world never can be
primary, but only secondary. That it may attain to an inner present it
needs a life that is not itself "given," but with its activity
encompasses a multiplicity, unifies, and makes it definite; for anything
to be experienced as "given" a self-conscious and self-determining
activity is necessary. If this self-determining activity can struggle
upwards to complete power and consciousness only slowly, still it is
the first and the sustaining world; and at the same time it can never be
asserted that the forms of its life are only ideas and appearances. Life
is not formed from existing individual points, and does not pass between
such points, but all multiplicity is sustained by an active whole, and
from this whole animated ever anew. This active whole may not be
conceived as dependent upon another, and it is quite capable of advance.
We have endeavoured to show that the matter is not one of subtleties of
thought, but of different natures of the world and of activity; and that
with the attainment of independence a new world emerges. We have also
shown that in us the new world must first wrestle with another, to which
we primarily belong; that inner changes must take place in us; and that,
if all our toil is not to be in vain, the relation of the two worlds
must be changed.

Man, therefore, has a special significance in that the two worlds meet
together within him, and in that there can be no change in their
relation to each other at this point without his co-operation. The
problem of his life concerns more than his conduct, it extends to his
being; the question is, how far the different worlds may become his own
world, his life. The matter is one of shifting the centre of life from
the position in which it is in immediate experience. Thus, the tension
and the conflict involve the ultimate elements: each of the worlds has
its own tasks and evaluations; things do not affect man with a given and
fixed value, but they receive their value first from their relation to
the main course upon which his life enters; and so all conflict
concerning particular matters implies a decision concerning the whole.
Of course, such a decision is not being made from moment to moment; and
more especially, it is not made simply by reflection, but it is involved
in the whole of life. Only that which in him, in endeavour and work,
participates in such decision is true life; individual acts of external
conduct only bring to expression that which has happened and still
continues to happen inwardly and in the whole.

In all this the possibility of an inner elevation is presupposed.
Everyone who strives for an inner development of man; everyone who, with
clear insight into the meanness of the general condition of human
affairs, unswervingly continues to strive for the advancement of
humanity, relies on this possibility: without it there is no hope of a
development and a growth of one's own life, of an elevation of it above
the condition in which it is first experienced. And so without this
possibility endeavour loses all its true tension, and all that we are
able to accomplish in ourselves and in others is no more than a
dexterous use of existent forces. But is this condition of the matter,
spiritually discerned, more than a mere discipline?

It is true that the possibility of an elevation has its fixed
conditions; it necessitates particular convictions with regard to the
world and to man. We must view the world as being still in a state of
flux and regard man as not being simply a closed and limited individual.
The infinite spiritual life must be present as a whole to him, and
arouse a new world to life in him; his conduct must be rooted in the
power and content of the infinite life: only thus can we understand that
in man also a movement begins and a change is brought about. And so it
remains ever an inderivable, original phenomenon, which we must
acknowledge as a fact, that a spontaneous life breaks forth in man, a
new and relatively independent life-centre originates. We always come
back in the long run to original phenomena; the origin of living being
in general is also an original phenomenon. May we deny the fact of such
original phenomena, because they make our representation of the world
less uniform and simple? To do so would be nothing else than to make our
previously formed conceptions the measure of reality; it would be a new,
specifically modern anthropomorphism.

This freedom, with its requirement of a world of inner life that
introduces new contents, and also that we belong in some way to this
world, is by no means a capacity to make a decision capriciously at any
moment; it is not a denial of the power of necessity. Of course, it
implies that there may be some kind of counteraction to this necessity;
and that if this counteraction can attain success only as a result of
the activity of life as a whole, even the individual moment need not be
a matter of indifference. For, as the spiritual life has always to win
its own height anew, so the present in its relations is not a mere
consequence of the past: times of temptation can come repeatedly when
all that which has been achieved becomes doubtful again; but times of
elevation also come when an advance is made beyond that previously
achieved. It is not possible for us simply to reject the present
existence and all the conditions which constrain us, and to choose for
ourselves a new kind of existence, instead of the one we have; from that
it is impossible to free ourselves: in all further endeavour we have to
take it into account, to make our peace with it. Nevertheless, life can
attain to a transcendent point of view, from which the world of sense
becomes the object of judgment and of adaptation; from which, to be
regarded as completely ours, it needs acknowledgment and appropriation
by us; and from which it is seen not to constitute our whole life, as
that which is ultimate. Indeed, the tendencies within us which are
concerned with nature, first reach their highest through such
acknowledgment and appropriation by us: placed on a spiritual basis they
lose their rigid exclusiveness and become unified; our particular nature
no longer constitutes our whole being, but becomes the central point of
a more comprehensive life, which extends further and further to

Our life, therefore, is a conflict between fate and freedom, between
being "given" and spontaneity; and this conflict may be followed through
all life's divisions. The conflict appears primarily in the individual
in the development towards personality and spiritual individuality. For,
as personality, unless life has a spontaneous source, is an empty word,
so also spiritual individuality does not come to anyone, but has first
to be won by the work of life essentially elevating that which destiny
brings: so far, it is our own work; but it is not entirely our own work,
because that which comes to us from nature, and the condition of life
gives us fixed points of support and points out a certain course.
Similarly, peoples have in their nature, environment, and history
definite conditions of their being, from which they cannot withdraw. But
spiritual creation and inward greatness do not grow simply out of these
conditions, however favourable they may be, but out of a spontaneous
activity which takes up that which has been presented to it, gives it a
central point, and from this develops it. The deciding question is
always whether and how far individuals and peoples attain to and
preserve such a self-determining activity. This activity alone makes it
possible for life to be unified inwardly; for its elements to be
distinguished and separated, and for some to be brought into prominence
and others relegated to the background; for life to be made secure and
elevated, and as the result of all for a spiritual individuality to be
formed. The same thing holds good of the condition of a particular time,
and man's relation to it. At first man appears to be a child of his age,
a slave of his age. But by the spiritual life he is able to win an
independence of the age, and to make himself its lord. Again, he cannot
free himself from the problems of the age; he cannot alter them just as
he likes, cannot divert into an opposite direction the power which they
exert upon him. But there is always an "either--or," either submission
to the succession of experience, or the beginning of an opposition from
spiritual self-determining activity: in this, also, the possibility of
calling new powers to life presents itself. From this spiritual point of
view activity centred upon the concerns of the particular age is no
longer regarded as the whole life; the particular age with its work is
comprehended in an infinite life. As through all its different stages
and constituents, so ultimately humanity as a whole also carries on a
struggle for a spiritual being, an advance to a new level. Humanity may
not be regarded as something finished; it must evolve to a nature other
than its present one, bring about a transformation of its life, and win
a spiritual individuality: the life of humanity is in a state of motion
and it must become self-determined.

The idea of freedom thus reveals far-reaching prospects and the greatest
tasks; it manifests its truth and power in taking possession of common
experiences and illuminating them, and in the arousing and
re-organisation of our life. With the acknowledgment and the adequate
appreciation of freedom, with the revelation of its universal relations,
man is elevated in the most essential manner, for it manifests the new
world as active in the midst of his life and capable of appropriation by
him: it calls him to independent co-operation in the conflict of the
worlds; it gives to the simply human and the apparently commonplace an
incomparable greatness. However powerful destiny may be, it does not
determine man entirely; for, even in beginning opposition to it there is
a liberation from it. However mean man's activity, it carries in it a
decision between worlds; however vanishing the moment, it is not
entirely lost. True, the idea of freedom involves definite
presuppositions: it involves, indeed, a profession of faith concerning
life and reality as a whole, a profession of faith that contradicts
every form of Naturalism and Intellectualism, and, in opposition to
their representations of the world, champions another. But this
profession of faith does not concern this problem only; it is involved
in our work as a whole, and so the whole may support and confirm it.

(c) _The Beginnings of the Independent Spiritual Life_

As the problem of freedom gains in clearness and depth in the relations
which have been discussed, so also the beginnings of independent
spiritual life which are manifested in the domain of man become much
clearer in them. Without such beginnings, which represent a new order
in contrast to nature, and which oppose the degeneration of life to the
narrowly human, a movement towards independent spirituality could never
emerge in us. They are really intelligible and acquire power only when
they are unified and acknowledged as the activity of a new life and

These beginnings appear in an elevation of life accessible to every
individual, an elevation above the forms as well as the content of mere
nature. We perceive this in the norms with which the research of the
present is busily occupied. Our life does not consist entirely of simple
matters of fact, but in certain directions qualities and forms are
presented to it which are able to contradict the immediate state of
things and to exercise a certain power over it. Thus the norms of
thought, the norms of conduct and of artistic creation are evolved, each
making particular demands, and being different in the manner of its
operation. However, we are concerned here not with the aspects of
difference, but with that which is common to all; and this consists in
the working of an actuality in us that is something other than natural
occurrence, an actuality that needs our acknowledgment, and through this
acknowledgment first wins power over us. The demands which these norms
make upon us are in no way convenient to us; they limit our caprice;
they often cost hard toil and heavy sacrifice; our desire for natural
happiness does not commend them to us. How is it then that we do not
simply reject them? what is it that gives to them a constraining power
over us? If they remained isolated and impenetrable experiences, if they
adhered to us as something alien in nature, were foreign elements in our
being, their power would be unintelligible. It is to be explained only
upon the hypothesis that they are unfoldings of our own life, which by
these unfoldings is proved to be something other than a life of nature.
Unless they are rooted in our own life, these norms are like misty forms
in the air. They obtain complete reality and motive power first as
movements of our self, which then is no mere point by the side of other
points, but an independent manifestation of life of the spiritual

This is in particular clearly the case in the idea of duty, the
elucidation of the inner meaning of which is Kant's greatest and most
enduring service. A duty is always a command; it presents itself as
independent of all caprice. At the same time, however, it can never be
forced upon us by an external power; it needs our own assent and
acknowledgment. Our own volition and being must operate in it, and, in
this, being must present itself otherwise than it appears to be at the
first glance. We must bear and maintain within us a new world; in
submission to its orders we must assert and develop ourselves. In this
manner alone can we explain the joyfulness which accompanies all genuine
performance of duty, and without which duty is no more than a task
forced upon us. How much power duty, and the norms in general, may
acquire in the greater part of human life is a question in itself; but
they could not exist for us even as ideas and possibilities if they were
not in some way based in our own being. However, as they show this being
in a new light, it follows that they must themselves gain in clearness
and in power and become more closely unified if they are understood and
treated as developments and modes of self-preservation of our own life.

It is with regard to content as well as to form that beginnings of a new
life appear. At the level of nature only that which serves the
self-preservation and the advancement of the life of the individual
being is estimated as a good; all that is involved in this may be
comprehended under the conception of utility. But notwithstanding its
great power over man the consideration of utility does not form the only
motive of his life. For a detailed treatment of this matter we may refer
to what was said in the discussion of "The Growth of Man beyond Nature."
At present we are concerned especially with the view that the new that
appears in us should be acknowledged to be the manifestation of a new
world and the expression of our real being. In the growing of man beyond
nature negation usually preponderates; he must limit the impulses of
his natural _ego_, acknowledge and respect the rights of others, be
ready to subordinate and sacrifice himself. It is for the most part not
evident what can commend such a negation to him and give it power over
him; and an impulse aroused to clear consciousness and strong desire
may, therefore, feel this entire connection with a new world to be an
unwarrantable limitation, and reject it as a violent intimidation and a
degradation of life. The matter is seen in its right light only when
negation is regarded as the reverse side of affirmation, and even then
only if the winning of a new life and being is acknowledged in this
affirmation. The positive impulse of self-preservation is indispensable
to complete vital-energy, but mere self-assertion on the part of an
individual in opposition to others does not constitute a genuine self; a
genuine self is constituted only by the coming to life of the infinite
spiritual world in an independent concentration in the individual. Only
thus does life, which otherwise were empty, acquire a content. Then the
individual is no longer compelled to develop his powers in conflict with
other individuals, but in directing his life towards this infinite
spiritual world, in its complete appropriation and organisation. Hence,
only that which raises the spiritual content of life can be regarded as
good, and goods will be compared in value in accordance with this
standard. The more they lead beyond mere results to the development of a
new being and self, the more essential they are to spiritual
self-preservation; everything else becomes a means or a preliminary
condition. Negation, also, has greater significance and importance from
this point of view. The new affirmation can acquire no complete truth
and no real power in man without a fundamental deliverance of life from
mere nature and its particularity. Without earnestness of renunciation
the new life sinks back to the old or both are combined in an
undifferentiated unity, with the consequence that the new life loses its
power to stimulate to new endeavour. As human beings are, this negation
must always be a sharp one.

In this connection, it may be said that life needs the stage of law
which restricts natural impulse, and constrains to the acknowledgment of
superior organisations of life; but from the stage of law there must be
progress to the stage of love, which for the first time reveals an inner
relation to reality and reacts upon the stage of law, giving it a soul.
On the other hand, a love that would be genuine comes not to destroy the
law, but to fulfil, to take it up into itself. As love and law are
indisputable powers in the life of humanity, so they also proclaim the
emergence of a new world and the development of a new being within the
domain of humanity.

(d) _The Transcending of Division_

A particularly severe conflict with regard to the problem of the unity
of life arises between the natural condition of man and the requirements
of an independent spiritual life. The spiritual life demands an enduring
whole which includes all multiplicity within itself and of which the
movement originates within: human existence is primarily a juxtaposition
of individuals and a succession of moments; no union seems to be more
than that which is constituted by a mere collection of the individuals.
If the division were not in some way transcended no spiritual life could
grow up within humanity, and man have no share in the building up of a
spiritual world. The nineteenth century gave a confident answer to the
problem: it contended that history and society of their own capacity
bind the elements of life into stable forms which take up all
multiplicity into themselves and raise our existence to spirituality. We
most emphatically deny the validity of this contention, and hope to show
that history and society themselves involve difficult problems; further,
that only when we conceive them in a particular way are they able to
help in the unification of life and then only in a limited manner; and
lastly, that they do not so much produce a spiritual life as presuppose
it, as essential to their own existence. Naturalism and Intellectualism
have also confused the outlook; if we free it from this confusion,
history and society will take a secondary place in our estimation; they
will themselves be seen to be deeper and more comprehensive and to
involve movements which extend further than appears in immediate
experience; and they will become witnesses to the living presence of the
spiritual life within humanity.

(i.) _The Spiritual Conception of History_

The nineteenth century transmitted to us a conception of history that is
far more peculiar in nature and far more open to attack than is usually
recognised: history is represented as a great stream which takes up all
individual achievements into itself, unites them, and, regardless of all
human error and caprice, leads surely to its end. No genuine achievement
is lost, and all gain seems to be permanent; beyond all the trouble and
uncertainty of the moment appeal is made to the power which, directing
and elevating, permeates the movement, clarifies and refines it. In this
conception the necessity of a process that has the power of determining
its own activity and making its own decision is primary. The fact that
the matter is not so simple as this conception of history represents is
shown by the experience of the age itself, which directly contradicts
it. For according to this conception the whole past should discharge
itself into the present and so impart its whole result immediately to
us, and the direction that our activity ought to take should be pointed
out to us with complete certainty by history. But we are distinctly
aware of the extent to which this direction is a matter of question and
doubt, and of the uncertainty into which we have fallen with regard to
the relation of the present to the past: in the process of our
investigation we saw this in particular in the division and conflict
between the different systems of life. History is seen to be a difficult
problem far more than a secure fact; and we are compelled to take up a
new consideration of the question.

In this consideration a distinct delimitation of the achievements
characteristic of man is primarily necessary. Modern science already
recognises a history of nature, and much that was formerly regarded as
complete is now seen to be in a state of flux and movement. Since every
event leaves effects behind, in the course of ages the results
accumulate, develop, and act upon one another, that which comes later is
conditioned by the influence of the earlier and is intelligible only in
relation to it, a distinctive historical method gains currency. Geology
presents to us with particular clearness a history of this type. In so
far as man belongs to nature and the spiritual life has not yet
developed to any degree of independence in him, he is also the subject
of such a history. That which happens within him leaves behind effects
that become the conditions of later occurrence. This conception of
history, as determined solely by mechanical causes, is still maintained
in some quarters in spite of further developments of thought. But it is
not apparent from this point of view how, even with the greatest
accumulation of effects, history could yield anything of gain to an
inner unity, to a life from the whole: for that, man must bring with him
something essentially new; and as a matter of fact this is what he does.

Not only do events happen to us and change our condition, but with our
own activity we are able to hold fast to these events, to give to them
an inner permanence, to bring them ever anew from the dim distance into
the living present. We do not drift onward with the stream of time, but
withstand it; seek to wrest something fixed from "becoming" and change,
and salvation in the eternal. We cannot do this without altering the
whole view of things and manifesting a new spiritual capacity.

The retention in mind of individual events by means of annals, monuments
and similar methods is the beginning of a history of a higher kind: even
so much shows a greater activity, since it involves a judgment of the
significance of events, and on the basis of this judgment begins to
wage war against the destroying power of "cormorant devouring time." The
achievement is incomparably higher, if certain spiritual unities and
tendencies are adhered to and are given permanent currency: thus
religion in particular gave a stability to life and delivered men from
the tyranny of the mere moment. The matter remains simple so long as the
movement is within a single people or a definite sphere of culture. But
in its progress it goes far beyond these limits. New peoples arise; the
state of culture undergoes great changes, indeed revolutions; life is
taken up from new starting points, from which everything of importance
to earlier ages loses its value. But it is lost only for a time; a
desire to return to it and to bring it into complete harmony with the
new is soon felt. The circle of vision is thus increasingly widened, and
all multiplicity is finally united into a whole. This retention of the
past is primarily a matter of knowledge and of intellectual
appropriation. But it is not limited to this; it would operate not only
in the extension of knowledge but beyond this in the development of
life. Whatever has been won by human power is to be preserved, unified,
and used to advance the present. Thus, there arises a historical
culture; an education on a historical basis; religion and philosophy,
art and law derive power and content from the work of universal history,
and life as a whole seems to win a greater comprehensiveness and
stability. And so it has come to appear as though the past imparts its
whole result to the present without any effort on the part of man and
without incurring him in any risk.

In reality the case is entirely different. The stream of the ages
becomes spiritually significant to us only in so far as we develop an
independence of it. The stream does not itself, automatically and
independently of us, select the elements of value which it contains or
unite the ages to a harmonious result: we ourselves must achieve this.
Spiritually regarded, we do not from the beginning stand upon a sure
foundation, on which we might peacefully build; we must first acquire
such a foundation through endeavour, and in this matter we see doubt and
violent change continually make that uncertain which is apparently most
secure, and make it necessary to seek greater depths.

For this treatment of history, involving, as it does, self-determining
activity, an elevation above time is essential. Without in some way
transcending time we could not survey individual events and unite them
in one representation. But we would do far more than that; we would
select and take up into our own life that which is valuable in the
earlier, in order thereby to enrich and strengthen our life, and to lead
it as far as possible from the present of the mere moment to a present
encompassing the ages. How could this come to pass unless we were able
to secure an independent vantage ground transcending the stream of the
ages; a vantage ground from which we may survey and judge the ages,
appropriate some elements from them and reject others? Experience shows
clearly enough that the tendency and the content of life with which we
meet the past, decide what shall be its spiritual representation, and
how we shall stand in relation to it. For experience shows that each
main tendency of life has its own view of history and its own treatment
of history; it shows further that every change in life which is in any
way far-reaching involves an alteration in our relation to the past;
gives prominence to the new, and relegates the old to the background.
There arises therefore a history of history; a history, for example, of
that which in the life of Antiquity has seemed essential and valuable to
the different later ages. For us, therefore, history, in regard to its
spiritual nature, is involved in constant change. The past does not
decide concerning the present so much as the present concerning the
past; the past is not something dead and fixed behind us; ever anew it
becomes the object of passionate conflict.

But does not this dependence of the past upon the present deprive
history of all independence and of all value? Does it not surrender life
completely to the contingency of the changing moments? Does it not
destroy all inner unity of the ages? This would, in fact, be the case
if the matter remained on a simply human basis; if a spiritual life
transcending time were not manifested through all the changes of the
ages; if a spiritual history could not be distinguished from a narrowly
human one. Spiritual history is concerned with that which through all
human activity and endeavour reveals a self-conscious inner life and
which, as such a revelation, is valid not only for a particular age but
through all ages and independently of all ages. Spiritual history would
be impossible unless there is active within us from the beginning an
independent spiritual life which first realises its content through the
historical process.

Such a transcendent nature is most evident at those highest points of
human development which we call "classical," not because they should
dominate and bind all ages, but because in them the spiritual life
attained to a complete independence over against man, lifted him above
himself into the fire and flood of creative activity, and made it
possible for him to produce characteristic contents. These classical
achievements are especially important for the development of life if
they not only bring something new in individual departments and in
particular directions, but also shape and present the whole to us in a
distinctive manner, and seek to appropriate to themselves, and in the
appropriation to elevate, the spiritual impulse that exists in man; if a
new being, in contrast to nature and society, emerges and would become
lord of the whole. Life as a whole is thus transformed into a problem
and a conflict. The question is whether this movement is able to take up
everything into itself and to lead life to its highest level, or whether
it meets with an insuperable resistance. In this matter life tests
itself by itself, by its own development--a thing which is possible only
if its experiences arise out of its being as a whole. If in a particular
case it proves that essential requirements remain unsatisfied, that the
movement is not able to include the spiritual life within itself, a
severe convulsion is inevitable, the spiritual life as a whole comes to
a standstill, and there can be no advance until life concentrates anew
and the new concentration gains ground. It is to be expected that a new
concentration will bring forward and develop that, in particular, which
formerly did not find complete satisfaction. In the first place,
therefore, there is an abrupt break and the emergence of an apparently
irreconcilable opposition: the old is relegated to the background;
tested by the new, the old soon comes to be regarded as a complete
mistake. In reality it is not so. For, as certainly as spontaneous
creative activity was operative in the old and produced characteristic
contents, it involves something which, superior to all the change of
time, will survive convulsion and doubt, and assert itself in some way
in a more comprehensive life. But the old will not survive and re-assert
itself unless the timeless reality within it separates itself from all
human and temporary addition; unless it manifests what lies behind the
historical form.

The same thing happens in the case of the new movement that arises. With
all its greatness of achievement, limitations become manifest in it;
then, more comprehensive forms arise; and so in the historical movement
as a whole the spiritual life is revealed in forms continually
increasing in content. In opposition to the tendency for one age to be
separated from another, however, a desire for unity, for a life which in
some way embraces the multiplicity of movements and concentrations of
life, and binds them into a whole, makes itself felt. A unity can hardly
be achieved by simply regarding the different concentrations and
tendencies as on the same level and making a compromise between them;
rather it is necessary that the different concentrations and different
movements contend with one another; it is just their conflict which may
elevate and deepen life. The movement to secure this unity and to retain
elements from the past is not an accumulation of elements and tendencies
in time, but an increasing deliverance from time, the establishment of a
timeless truth independent of the change of things. Experiences, of
which the external manifestations no longer exist, are again called to
life, and preserved for all time by spiritual power; indeed, that which
is lost in immediacy by the absence of the external manifestation is
more than compensated for by an advance to the source of the power:
things which in their temporal form are a mere co-existence are
transformed into an organised whole. Movements, which in history have
often been engaged in passionate conflict, may enter into a relation of
interaction, and may be regarded as a sequence of stages, in which the
earlier prepares for the later, and the later presupposes the earlier;
in which all give life to and further one another. A universal life thus
progressively arises within the domain of man; the individual
achievements unite more and more to the building up of a new, enduring
world; the whole realises itself in the individual occurrence, and
through the development of a time-inclusive present transcends the mere

This movement of life in history involves more unrest, conflict and
doubt, than the nineteenth-century doctrine of evolution implied. For
this doctrine saw in the historical movement the unfolding of a
spiritual life, sure as regards its foundation and its main direction;
the antitheses within that movement seemed to be involved in a single
process, which determined the limits of each tendency in relation to the
others; a transcendent necessity was regarded as leading to the
development of all in their relation to one another. As a fact, the
conflict is also concerning the substance and the main direction of the
whole; the spiritual life must first realise itself within the region of
mankind, and it is realised through the toil and work of man himself. It
is just the fact that the problem is an ultimate one, that even the
fundamental forms of life develop only in conflict and experience, and
that we are concerned not with winning simply this or that in life, but
genuine life itself, that makes history significant. At the same time,
this brings man into a more inward relation to the spiritual life, and
this life is made more his own life and being than if he were
surrounded by the power of physical or intellectual processes. Nothing
makes humanity as a whole more significant than that in its province and
through its work the new world begins to develop.

With such a conception of history, the philosophical treatment of it
must direct its attention chiefly to the independent spirituality which
in the course of the centuries, and especially in great changes, is
evolved in contrast with the narrowly human; and to the main direction
which is given to life by this spirituality. The philosophical treatment
of history ought first of all to trace the liberation of life from the
simply human; the inner elevation of our being to a more-than-human.
Antiquity at the height of its spiritual development began to desire a
universal truth independent of man; a moulding of life in accordance
with an inner right; and an order of things beyond the power of human
caprice, as was shown by the giving symmetry and harmony precedence in
art, and justice in conduct. Christianity brought about a liberation of
the innermost disposition, the root of endeavour and of love, from
purely natural impulse, however ennobled; and in this way brought men
into new relationships and set them before new tasks. The Modern Age on
the part of science began a relentless conflict against the
anthropomorphism of the mode of life as immediately experienced; thus it
has made the spiritual life even in its form independent of man, in that
it has created spiritual complexes and has recognised in them movements
and inner necessities of their own. Through the whole of this movement
of universal history life frees itself more and more from its dependence
upon mere man, and from the bondage to "given" presuppositions and
"given" natural impulses, and from a "given" world in general. Life is
based more and more upon its own independent nature, and from its
position of independence develops a new kind of being. It is this gain
of a new world through struggle that alone gives to history a meaning
and an inner unity.

If history thus accomplishes the formation of great spiritual complexes,
and if there is an endeavour to fit these with all their antitheses into
an all-comprehensive whole, if it unites all ages and all powers with
the bond of a universal task, it is a clear witness to the living
presence of the spiritual life within the human sphere. Apart from this
presence all these achievements would be impossible, and the whole
movement must vanish into thin air. The estimate of history here given
is valid only when a spiritual history is clearly distinguished from
merely human history. Only when history as a whole gains a soul and a
support from this spiritual history are the non-spiritual factors able
to attain to any rational significance; only then can history have a
meaning and transcend the relativity from which otherwise it cannot
escape. On the one hand, history demands for its own existence the
presence of a spiritual world within humanity; on the other, it
testifies to this presence by that which is characteristic in its own
content; by that which can be understood only as a progressive
disclosure of such a world.

(ii.) _The Spiritual Conception of Society_

The problem of society is closely akin to that of history. In the life
around us a certain union is attained in that men dwell together, but
this immediate union does not simply of itself produce a spiritual
unity, a spiritual whole: if society manifests such a unity, then in it,
also, a distinctive revelation of the spiritual must be acknowledged.

Modern science shows clearly and distinctly that the individual is not
an isolated atom, but exists in relation with a social environment; and
that, even to the innermost recesses of his being, he is determined by
the constitution of this environment. But science falls into serious
error if it goes beyond the truth of this contention and attempts to
represent spiritual creation as the result of the mere inter-relation
and accumulation of individual powers. For between spiritual creation
and this inter-relation and accumulation of individual powers, in spite
of all their external proximity, there is the widest divergence.
Spiritual creation requires to be treated as an end complete in itself,
and must follow the laws of its own being; it claims an inalienable
supremacy above all trivial human interests, which yet for a time
dominate the common life. Further, it cannot succeed without the
development of an inner unity which maintains and characteristically
forms a whole of life. The existence of men side by side gives rise to a
variety of opinions, strivings, dispositions, which mingle confusedly
together; the usual condition of things that arises from this confusion
has anything but a definite character. The condition of our own time
must convince everyone who is unprejudiced, how little this pitiable
confusion can of itself produce anything spiritual and associate men
together in an inner unity. For in the epoch of railways, telegraphs and
newspapers, of large towns and of factories, movements of the masses are
certainly not lacking; they surround the individual and influence him
more strongly than ever before. But where, out of all the fluctuation of
public opinion, out of the confusion and bustle of life, does creative
spiritual activity arise, give to life an inner content, and unite
humanity in an inner community? Rather, we see humanity continually
split up into opposing factions; we see the strife tend more and more to
affect the foundation of our existence.

However, in spite of the spiritual impotency of the movements of the
masses, creative spiritual activity has emerged in humanity, has
overcome the separation of the individuals and inwardly unified the
forces of life. It must not only be possible to effect, but we must
actually effect a unity which transcends the individuals, a union which
has its source in the spiritual life itself.

In reality the experience of humanity shows such a union. Of primary
importance in this connection is the fact of the power of so-called
"ideas" in history--the fact that certain aims transcending natural
welfare win power over the whole domain of culture, bind men together
and lift them above their selfish interests. To be sure, in the
movements which arise to carry out these ideas much that is
insignificantly human is introduced; and the interests of individuals
and of classes often largely preponderate, but the origin and the
progress of these movements cannot be accounted for by the merely human;
they are only to be explained as due to man feeling directly within
himself the necessity of spiritual tasks. If he feels this necessity
only under particular conditions, and if it is only for a short time
that it asserts itself at its highest, still it extends its influence
over life as a whole, and is everywhere a unique phenomenon, even when
limited and confused by much that is alien to it.

Further, the fact that whole peoples have developed distinctive national
characters is of importance in this connection. Such a character is
distinguished essentially from all mere participation of common
conditions, not only physical but also psychical, that social life
brings with it. For the development of such a character life must rise
to energetic activity and become unified; there must be an advance
towards a common goal; an active relation must be taken up not only
towards the environment but also towards itself. A national character is
not "given," but is attained through the work of history; it develops
only through common experiences, sufferings, and triumphs: in its origin
and its continuance it involves an elevation above the aims of physical
and social preservation, a development of pure inwardness.

Finally, no inner relation of humanity proceeds from the physical
association of men, from their meeting in a common world. If a vital
whole, a common truth, did not exist within us, all our relations would
be external: we could not follow common aims in life and endeavour or
have common experiences; we could not think and live for one another, or
develop spiritual contents in different departments, such as those of
law and religion, science and art, and give to them a cognate spiritual
character. It is always the presence of a self-conscious reality that
binds humanity together inwardly. We can be as certain in our
acknowledgment of this presence as we can that our experience shows such
an inner unity in important achievements and in the formation of whole
departments of work and other complexes.

With its acknowledgment we avoid the severe contradiction that is shown
in the contemporary estimate and conception of humanity. To our more
dispassionate consideration of things the disagreeable aspect of the
social machinery, the growing sharpness of the conflict, the passionate
eagerness of the desire for more, the inconsistency between the enormous
amount of subjective excitement and the spiritual poverty, are clear.
Logically, this confused and self-contradictory state of affairs ought
to lead to a rejection of the whole, and to a pronounced pessimism. Yet
humanity is regarded as noble and worthy of respect; it is made the
value of all values; the object of our faith and our hope; all our
efforts are directed towards its well-being. And this is done without it
being perceived that thus the basis of experience is forsaken and that
the impression of humanity obtained from experience is bluntly
contradicted: the introduction of an abstract conception seems to alter
everything and to lead to its being regarded as good. In the shattering
of beliefs at least this one has remained: belief in the power of
abstractions. He who would abandon this belief and at the same time hold
fast to the high estimate of humanity must admit that a spiritual world
is active in man, and in so doing acknowledge that man is more than he
appears in immediate experience. Such a one will feel increasingly the
necessity of actively comprehending and definitely distinguishing from
the medley of trivial social concerns every manifestation of a spiritual
world in man. It is not out of society but in conflict with it that
everything great has grown. And yet that which is great is rooted in a
whole of life. Spiritual work must have its basis in this invisible
whole, not in mere society; and from this position it must protest
against the presumptuous claim of society to evolve the spiritual life
of its own power. The community that proceeds from a spiritual union
will be primarily an invisible one; but whether this invisible unity
could not realise itself better and be effective also in the visible
world is a serious and difficult question that continually becomes more

If the conviction that we have here given an account of definitely
contradicts the historico-social view of life which was so potent in the
nineteenth century, and which deeply degraded the spiritual life and its
self-conscious and self-determining activity, it by no means fails to
recognise the significance of history and society; and has no intention
of taking up again the mode of thought common in the period of the
Enlightenment. History and society are indispensable means for the
development of the spiritual life in humanity: from mere individuals and
from individual moments it could attain neither content nor power. But
to declare for this reason that history and society are the generating
basis of the spiritual life was a definite error; though in the
historical movement of the problem it certainly finds an explanation and
an excuse. The higher estimate of history and society has grown up on
the basis of Idealism; to Idealism the spiritual life seemed to live and
first to attain to its complete truth in history and society. Later on,
attention and activity were diverted from a world of thought chiefly to
the world of sense; and with this change history and society lost their
spiritual foundation and their animating soul. Nevertheless, their claim
to produce the spiritual life remained; they were expected to achieve of
their own power more than was possible even with the greatest exertion.
In truth they can bring forth spiritual contents, and serve the
development of the spiritual life within man, only under the
presupposition of the presence of a transcendent spiritual life. At the
same time their achievement in the combination of forces and in the
production of spiritual results is a witness to the reality of the
spiritual life.

(e) _The Elevation of Life above Division_

We saw that the spiritual life attains an independence only if it does
not simply bring about an effect upon a world independent of it, but
produces a reality from itself; concentrates so as to become a reality
itself. At the first glance man seems by no means to satisfy this
demand. For his life, after, in its progress, rising above its initial
stages, in which it was undifferentiated from the environment, is
subject to the antithesis of man and world, of subject and object, and
the divergence seems to increase continually in the course of his
development. The more power the life of the soul wins, the more it
produces a characteristic content, the freer and more active reflection
becomes, the more does the world recede before man, the more definitely
is immediate contact with the world prevented. The gulf is not bridged
by the epistemological consideration that that over against which we
place ourselves must also, fundamentally, belong to our own life, be in
some way included within it: this treatment signifies a removal of the
antithesis to another region rather than an inner transcendence of it. A
genuine transcendence cannot be effected without an expansion and
development of life, evolving new connections which transcend the
division, and lifting us into a sphere above mere subjectivity.

Connections such as these are, as a fact, brought about by an expansion
and development of life; but these connections which in their individual
appearances are evident to all are seldom adequately estimated as a
whole, and in respect of the problems to which they give rise. These
connections are effected in work, in work as a spiritual occurrence. We
have already seen how in work the object loses its alien nature and is
taken up into our own life; we must now follow more closely the process
by which work is extended and deepened; produces a characteristic sphere
of life and establishes a spiritual reality in the domain of man.

At first we are occupied in work with an abundance of individual tasks
that have no inner relation to one another. But the more work advances
from an external contact with objects to an inner change of them, the
more necessary is it that these tasks should be unified so as to form a
whole; and that each task should have its position in this whole, and
represent in itself a particular aspect of the whole. The proof of
greatness in a "work" is just that the nature of the individual aspects
is determined fundamentally by their relation within the whole; that
what is characteristic in the work as a whole is manifested even in its
simplest elements; thus, for example, every independent thinker has
particular views with regard to the nature of the fundamental forms of
logical thought such as the concept and the judgment; in the same way
every independent artist creates his own language of forms. Work not
only leads to a unity of life in the case of individuals; but, further,
without a union of individual forces for a common end, without an
organisation of all human work, we should stand defenceless in face of
the infinity of the world, and we could never advance to a state of
culture. In such community of work man creates a new sphere of existence
for himself; he forms his world of work and sets it in contrast to
everything which does not come within it. This world of work transcends
the individual; and yet it is our world; it is sustained by human power
and, directing and forming, reacts upon man. For, the more unity this
world of work acquires and the more control it wins over the object, the
more definite departments and relations it evolves in itself, the more
does it manifest characteristic laws and methods which, with superior
power, prescribe to human activity its nature and direction, but which
can originate nowhere else than in the domain of man. And so within the
domain of man we rise above all caprice and subjectivity: since the law
of the object determines man's work, his life is raised above the
antithesis between soul and object. Work is not something that man,
essentially perfect, undertakes incidentally and as something
supplementary, but it is that through which he first develops a
spiritual life; through which he acquires a spiritual existence; and the
character of the work determines at the same time the nature of this
existence. As the individual departments of work evolve characteristic
modes of thought and conviction, so out of work as a whole a particular
spiritual nature arises which does not exist in relation to a world
external to it, but contains within itself a world formed by its own
activity. All this, in conformity with our fundamental conviction,
involves the implication that man is not a spiritual being from the
beginning, but only has the potency to become one.

Such a raising of the aim which is set to work involves an increase in
the amount of toil that it necessitates, and the dangers which are
incurred: the object and the encompassing life are subject to these
dangers. For the complete success of work and the formation of a genuine
self, it is as necessary that the object be taken up entirely into the
process of work as that there should not be another vital unity more
ultimate than the self which grows up in the work, but that the self
should form the final conclusion: whatever is not taken up into the
process of work lessens its content, weakens its power, endangers its
truth, and prevents just that from being achieved which is here in
question. If, however, we consider the opposition that arises at
different points, genuine work is seen to be a high ideal, an infinite
task which even in favourable cases is only approximately fulfilled. At
the same time it is a witness to the sway of elevating and modifying
powers within the domain of man.

The object is concealed from man chiefly by his own inclination to treat
himself as the centre of reality; to transform the environment into a
reflection of his own being; and to measure the infinite by the standard
of his own well-being. Along with this humanising of the environment,
man develops the most diverse forms of occupation with it, but however
far such occupation may be extended, it does not lead man beyond his own
domain; it does not aid him in his spiritual progress. It is possible
for occupation upon the environment to aid spiritual progress only when
things attain an independence, and from this firmly resist the tendency
of man to represent them in accordance with his subjective wishes. Only
such independence of the objective makes it possible for it to arouse
new powers in man and for his life to be based on something deeper than
immediate feeling and desire, and to begin an inner transformation. But
this movement has various levels which differ distinctly from one
another; and from the position of a higher level it is difficult to
regard the achievement at a lower one as genuine and complete work. The
Modern Age with its exact research often cannot regard the work of early
natural science as work of high value. A similar gradation is evident in
the striving for happiness; for the raising of human well-being. So long
as endeavour is directed to attaining and preserving mere subjective
states of feeling, and so long as a movement beyond this subjectivity is
not acknowledged to exist within man himself, and the requirements of
this movement are not satisfied--as is the case with Epicureanism and
Utilitarianism--endeavour, earnest as it may be, does not acquire the
character of spiritual work; it does not essentially advance life, and
therefore in the long run does not satisfy human needs. Epicureanism and
Utilitarianism with all their results inevitably become insipid and
empty to him.

If there are powerful hindrances to this endeavour for something more
than the subjective, there is at the same time a wealth of movement
which bids defiance to them, and the course of history shows continuous
expansion and development of this movement; it shows that man is able to
take up a conflict against the trivially human, and, in the building up
of a new world, to raise himself essentially above his original
condition. Exact science breaks away from the object of perception,
removes it to a distance, analyses it there, ascertains its laws, and
then restores it in changed form to men: in this it also advances human
life in itself, in that thought rises more freely above perception, and
a system of pure thought sustains the whole world of sense. A further
divergence between the struggle for physical existence and the building
up of a new world appears in history in the endeavour for happiness and
a significant content of life. In the experience of humanity, morality
and religion, looked at inwardly, assume two fundamentally different
forms. On the one hand they are looked upon as a mere means to support
man in a given world; to bring him into congenial relation with the
world; and so to organise this world that it may achieve as much as
possible for human well-being. This form governs human experience at its
general level, and easily comes to be regarded as the only form. At
higher levels of creative activity, however, a totally different form
made its appearance: there was a break with the whole world of sense and
well-being as though with something intolerably narrow, and in a
self-conscious life a new world arose and brought forth characteristic
contents; the appropriation of this world raised life above all mere
particularity and subjectivity; at the same time this appropriation
became an infinite task and work for man and for humanity as a whole. If
this form of religion and morality has been manifested with complete
clearness only at high levels of life in history, from these heights
this form has also exerted an influence upon the rest of life, animating
and raising it; indeed, it is only this genuine conception of religion
and morality which first gives to them an independence and a value in
themselves. Thus, notwithstanding the inadequacy of human achievement we
cannot but recognise that life transcends mere subjectivity and the
separation that it involves.

In another direction complexities arise in that something objective is
evolved and established which, however, is not brought sufficiently into
relation with life as a whole and united with it. Then, work may
progress within its own province constantly and vigorously, but it loses
touch with our soul; we do not realise or develop ourselves in it. With
all the feverish tension of individual powers work is then inwardly
alien to us, and its power over us may become a heavy oppression.
Through such a detachment from life as a whole work loses soul and is
nothing more than mechanical; in short, we have all those results of
division between work and soul which we may feel with particular
acuteness in the contemporary state of culture. Experiences rising from
this division lead us to demand that work shall be so organised as to be
capable of taking up life as a whole into itself, and with this of
becoming our true self. Again, life as a whole cannot enter upon work as
complete, for then it would force something alien upon work, and by this
pervert it; life as a whole can be evolved only from the unification and
elevation of work itself. We do not begin and carry on work as a fixed
individuality, but we form individuality first through work by the
continual overcoming of the opposition of subjective disposition and
object. Spiritual contents are not produced by a communication of
something that is in itself complete to something else that is in itself
complete, an interaction of disposition and object; rather must we say
that genuine work sets both sides in motion and with elevating power
unites them in a single life. So understood, every movement which tends
to the development of spirituality in individuals, peoples, ages, and
finally of humanity as a whole, is a witness to the possibility of a
transcendence of this opposition, of the emergence of a reality within
the life-process.

We cannot give work a spiritual nature in this way, and make it the
instrument of a new reality, without being compelled to acknowledge that
there is much less genuine work among men than we are accustomed to
assume. On the other hand, we must also recognise that the little that
there is signifies much more, and indicates much greater advances of
life than it is usual to admit. Nothing differentiates individuals and
ages more from one another than the extent to which they take part in
genuine work; the degree to which they transform their life in such
work. Mere reflection and good will can accomplish very little in this
matter; without an energetic nature, a strong inner disposition with a
definite tendency, as well as the favour of destiny, not much can be
achieved. What is usually called "life" is only a will to live, a
straining after life; it yields but an outward appearance and a shadow
of life: genuine life is first brought forth by that transformation.

But the less human existence in general immediately includes genuine
work, the more indispensable is it that there should be firmly rooted
tendencies to such work in the basis of our being, and that these
tendencies should be developed to greater clearness of form and to
greater effect in the work of universal history. So that our work may
not be split up and destroyed, we need definite syntheses that establish
a structure of life. On the one hand we must accomplish an analysis into
individual tendencies and departments of life which, operating
independently, generate life; and on the other hand we must find a unity
of endeavour among these tendencies and departments; a movement from one
to another; a common activity directed towards the building up of a new
world. These syntheses must be an immediate experience at each point;
they must be involved in all division of work; everywhere set
distinctive tasks; produce characteristic achievements; and in energetic
organisation of existence elevate it to the level of a characteristic
system of life, full of power, which presses forward to further
development. Only thus could a movement originate which might expand to
a real whole and be capable of establishing this whole against the world
as it is for immediate experience; only thus could humanity defend
itself against the power of the environment and of destiny.

Experience alone can decide whether our life contains such syntheses,
and whether by means of them it forms a whole: the movement of universal
history shows that there are such syntheses. The natures of these
syntheses give to the chief epochs of culture their distinctive
characters, by which the natures of their elements and of the relations
between them are determined; and man acquires a definite relation to
the world and can make a judgment upon it. Such a synthesis, with its
life-penetrating and life-forming power, certainly contains some truth;
it is not a product of narrowly human reflection and imagination. The
course of time and the changes of history, therefore, cannot simply
break it down completely; rather with the truth that it contains such a
synthesis elevates life above time into the eternal. But it has not been
demonstrated that life is capable of only one synthesis, or that it may
not produce a variety of such: life does not necessarily realise its
unity in simply establishing a single synthesis; it can seek unity in
the supremacy of a chief synthesis above others. That experience in our
own sphere of culture shows the latter to be the case we intend to
indicate in a few lines.

A characteristic synthesis first made its appearance at the height of
classical Antiquity. It was art, chiefly plastic art, that determined
the nature of this synthesis. Form as a unifying and systematising power
is at the centre of life, takes possession of matter and organises it,
transforms chaos into a cosmos; and in this exercise of power it
realises itself, even though its fundamental nature is regarded as
transcending all change and variation. Spiritual work is formative and
selective; it is the triumphant realisation of form; it is necessary
that life in all its stages of development should be permeated by this
formative spiritual activity. There are numerous independent centres of
life, but the tendencies from each are towards the realisation of the
whole, and find their perfection in it alone.

Thought, independent of the world, must extract from the medley of first
impressions permanent forms, and unite these into a consistent
representation of the whole; it finds the acme of its achievement in
bringing this representation clearly to consciousness in a form that is
complete and free from subjective addition. In conduct, an organisation
and a unifying of the elements so as to produce a harmonious effect is
the chief thing. From the chaotic mass of individuals, the state by
constitution and law forms a living work of art, a differentiated
organism. For the individual the chief matter in conduct is to bring the
diverse forces in the soul into the right relation of order and
gradation, to reach the highest of all harmonies, the harmonious life.

All this involves particular estimates of value, a characteristic
solution of the problems and a harmonising of the oppositions of our
existence. It is a matter of general knowledge how this synthesis has
elevated and ennobled life, and is still increasingly felt as an
influence tending to further development and harmony. But it is equally
well known how the progress of life has rebuffed the claim of this
system of life to be the only valid one. We have become aware of
contradictions which do not find sufficient acknowledgment in this
system: a gulf deeper than it is able to transcend has made its
appearance between man and his environment: in particular, the supremacy
of form, which constitutes the basis of the system, has been shaken.
Antiquity, at its highest development, had, without much consideration,
given to form a living soul; its later course dissolved this union, the
soul degenerated more and more into an inwardness of feeling, and gave
up all claim, if not to the world, yet to its organisation and
formation: form, deprived of soul, threatened to become superficial, and
to change life into play and enjoyment. It was at this point that
Christianity intervened with a powerful effect, but it has not, in the
sense with which we are here concerned, produced an organised system of

Such a system was first produced in the Modern Age, and more
particularly in the period of the Enlightenment. This system makes force
the centre of life; to increase force without limit is the task of
tasks. The elements of reality are centres of force; but these elements
are not isolated, because force is called forth only by force, and the
amount of life depends on the degree to which relations are developed.
Since in this way one tends towards another, they become interweaved and
joined, and the many are united. For this system the world does not
appear as a work of art which rests in itself, but as a process that
ceaselessly increases in volume: the main achievement of spiritual work
is, with complete consciousness and self-determining activity, to take
possession of this process, which actually surrounds us; to change its
infinite life as much as possible into our own life, and to co-operate
to the best of our capacity for its advancement. Since here spiritual
work never tolerates a state of inactive peace, never accepts the world
as a rigid destiny, but is concerned to develop the world, to analyse
the world as it first appears into its elements in order to reach the
forces that move it, life acquires a more active relation to the
environment than it does in the earlier, more contemplative system, and
feels itself to be more in the workshop of reality.

The relation of knowledge and life is changed from its traditional
character. Research cannot transform the world from the apparent calm
and completeness of the immediate impression into movement and
development, without analysing the representation offered into its
ultimate elements; ascertaining their laws, and finally, with the help
of the idea of unlimited time, reconstructing from the beginning the
world, which it had first of all destroyed. With such destruction and
reconstruction modern research brings the world much nearer to us, and
gives us more power over it than does the earlier type. Corresponding to
the understanding of reality from its evolution, man finds his own life
in a progressive movement. Human society is regarded less as a
well-arranged work of art than as a complex of forces, which come to
full development and make sure progress only in their relation. The
chief demand is for the greatest amount of freedom of movement; the
greatest number of relations between individuals, and a ceaseless
increase of the stream of life, that should take up into itself all that
bear human features. The individual also must realise his existence as
one of "becoming" and motion; he is not bound by a closed standard of
nature. Through the power of his spiritual nature he is able to
assimilate ever new capacity, and to grow without limit: nothing gives
more proud courage and joyous force to his life than this consciousness
of an inner infinitude. A characteristic ideal of culture and education
is formed: all individual departments of spiritual work are now regarded
primarily as means to the increase of human power, and must assume a
form corresponding to this. And so life everywhere becomes more active
and more powerful: it finds its aim within itself, in its own elevation,
and has therefore no need to seek it in something external; the whole
existence of man becomes more his own work. As work comes more deeply
into touch with the nature of things the development of power becomes at
the same time a controlling of the world. It was not to be wondered at,
therefore, when the modern man, with the development of this system of
life, believed that for the first time he had left a childlike condition
of constraint and limitation, and entered a state of freedom and

But the further development of life shows clearly enough that this
system, which makes force and movement its leading principles, is not
the final stage of human endeavour: the leading idea of our whole
investigation is that human endeavour is more than this. We have seen
that a system of mere force and movement gives no soul to work and does
not lead life to self-consciousness and self-determination. A rushing
stream seizes us and carries us along with it, but we reach no position
independent of it; and so we cannot unify the multiplicity, nor gain a
content from its immeasurable achievement; indeed, the increasing
extension of life divides us more and more into single forces, and
deprives us of a self that transcends the movement. At first this was
not fully perceived, since the soul was implicitly assumed to be force
and the extension of movement was regarded as a pure gain to the life of
the soul. But the further development and the keener emphasis on the new
state attained could not but clearly indicate the contradiction here
involved; could not but lead to a separation between soul and work, and
force them into conflict. Hence there is a danger of work becoming
mechanical, and of the life of the soul, which, with this separation, is
thrown back entirely upon the subjective, being lost in indefiniteness.

These experiences of mechanical work and indefinite subjectivity give
birth to a new situation, in which the problem of the soul, a problem
which in the earlier systems remained in the background, is forced into
prominence. The task of life is seen to be a more fundamental one; it is
a matter not so much of altering a given reality in one way or another
as of first discovering a genuine reality, of advancing beyond all mere
activity to a being which exists within the activity.

It has become evident to us in many ways that from the recognition of
this a characteristic form of life proceeds. The only question is
whether the change is capable of bringing about a thorough organisation
of life, whether it can produce independent centres of life and unite
them into a community of life, and thus lead to the development of a
system of life. We ourselves most resolutely maintain the view that this
is really possible; that life is in process of forming itself into a new
whole, and that with the clearer establishment of this, problems which
have existed from early times receive full explanation, and a definite
advance is made in their solution.

We saw that, in its highest stages of development, life concentrates at
particular points, and that a characteristic sphere of life is in this
way brought forth, as, for example, in spiritual individualities,
national character, and so on. As soon as these developments are
acknowledged to be spiritual and are sufficiently distinguished from
simply natural existence, as soon as the manifestation of a new world is
recognised in them, they become a great problem. Then they cannot be
regarded as a mere product of a particular part of nature, but must be
accepted as primarily a creation from the spiritual life as a whole, a
creation which at the same time must maintain itself and transform in
its own activity that which it receives. The relation to the spiritual
world as a whole is the fundamental relation of life, and yet the
further development of life does not follow immediately from the
relation to the whole, but from the relation to the innumerable other
centres of life; the infinitude that the individual being acquires from
the relation to the whole receives that which is particular in its
organisation and its content only from the experience of the relation to
others. The relation to others, however, is not produced by nature, but
as spiritual, only from the spiritual world as a whole and must be
continually sustained by the whole. The relations of individual to
individual will therefore be included within the whole, and through the
presence of the whole will be essentially advanced beyond the capacity
of mere nature. The love that arises here is fundamentally different
from all the love which arises from natural impulse; and, understood in
this manner, notwithstanding all that may be doubtful in respect of its
fulfilment in individual matters, there is much point in the demand of
Augustine, that, in the relation of man to man, not man but God should
be set in the first place, and that man is to be loved only through God.

However, it is not an increase of activity alone that is sought in the
multiplicity of relations, but a growth of being--a being not beyond all
activity, but existent within it. It is necessary not only that the
life-process achieve more, but also that it grow in itself, change that
which is alien to it into its own, and display more reality within
itself; life must experience every single activity as the manifestation
of the activity of the whole, and thus, along with unlimited extension,
preserve self-consciousness.

The demand for a self-conscious life, the demand for an elevation of
activity to the organisation and development of being, by no means
excludes other forms of activity, if only for the reason that this
demand presents a high ideal to which man can only very slowly
approximate. But this ideal constitutes an aim and a standard for all
other activity; the giving of form and the increasing of force must aid
in the development towards this aim if they are not to become devoid of
real worth. The more necessary it is to insist upon an animation of
reality through the development of self-conscious life, the more must we
guard against the danger of anthropomorphism, which, when we are hasty
and impatient, inevitably finds an entrance to and corrupts the whole of
our thought and life. Only with much toil and with continual
self-criticism can life be brought to the point where the transition to
self-consciousness is possible; and even then the whole cannot, under
human circumstances, be attained at one stroke; but at first life must
endeavour to concentrate, to form a nucleus so that in this way it may
acquire a firm basis, and from this take up a struggle for its further

The same thing is to be seen in the differentiation and the gradation of
life: everywhere a movement towards self-consciousness begins, but the
emergence of this movement forces an antithesis into prominence, and
life is completely transformed into work and conflict. Thought cannot be
satisfied with representing the world as a work of art or as a process;
thought must seek self-consciousness in the world. This it finds in the
emergence of an independent spiritual life and in reality's
coming-to-itself; at the same time the difference between spirit and
nature becomes more pronounced, and all the divergences in life
increase. Men can find their highest unity neither in joining together
so as to form a whole as a work of art, nor in a system of progressive
increase of force. Neither alone could prevent society from becoming
spiritually destitute, nor could both together. Society also needs a
self-consciousness and acquires it only through the development of a
spiritual content and spiritual character; but this must be won by
continual struggle from the medley which constitutes the general
condition of social life. Again, the individual does not attain a
content for his life through an immediate combination of his powers so
as to form a harmonious whole, or through increasing them without
limit; the individual also must by activity concentrate his life and so
gain the basis of a new world: never is he in his life, as a whole,
personality and spiritual individuality. True, there lies within him the
potentiality to become such a spiritual individuality, and this
potentiality may be transformed in his own activity; and the existence
thus acquired can affect the rest of life, arousing and elevating it.

Thus the ideal is set completely in the distance; it is seen that we do
not live our life from a given basis, but that, on the contrary, we have
first to acquire the basis and to preserve it by continuous work; it is
not a particular direction of life, but a genuine life itself and with
this a spiritual being that is in question. We appear, therefore, more
imperfect than ever before. But in this connection the imperfection
itself is a witness that important tasks are set before us, and that
superior forces rule in us. In the midst of all that is obscure it
cannot fail to be recognised that there is a movement towards the
development of a new self-conscious reality above the capacity and the
interests of mere man. This movement has been manifested in great
historical achievements, in the formation of fruitful systems of life
which at the same time were developments of the life of the individual.
It has brought forth ever new creations; now it sets before us the task
of developing a new system of life which does complete justice to
self-consciousness, and in accordance with its main idea must also
transform all individual aspects and departments. Where we recognise so
much to do, we are certainly far removed from opinion and pretence.



Whatever there is peculiar in our conception of the spiritual life must
be manifested and proved in reference to the problem of truth and
reality. In the first place our conception decidedly rejects the widely
held view of truth as a correspondence of our thought with an external
reality. For the attainment of independence by the inner life makes it
impossible for something externally existing to be taken up into life
without undergoing an essential change. It is also inconceivable from
this point of view how something beyond us could in any way attract and
arouse us. The problem of truth can do this only if it originates within
our own life: it can become a compelling power only if the attainment of
truth aids us to transcend a division within ourselves which has become
intolerable. The representation of life, that we have given, makes it
quite evident that such a division does spring up within us. Within our
own life a certain activity begins, which becomes wider and wider, and
which would signify our whole being. But this activity finds limits and
contradiction within ourselves: much takes place in our experience
independent of this activity and apparently without our co-operation; a
certain condition of things exists, and asserts a rigid actuality; and,
so far as this condition extends, we are bound; we bear something
impenetrable within us. So long as these two sides of our being remain
separated life is not complete and genuine: activity lacks a foundation,
a content, and a direction that is sure of its aim; and all the bustle
of free movements, all effort of reflection cannot conceal the state of
spiritual poverty. On the other hand, the fact that we bear so much
within us that only half belongs to us and that presses upon us like a
fate must cramp and oppress us. And so life does not experience itself
as a unity; it lacks an inner truth, since activity presents itself as a
whole and yet is not one. Life itself is therefore a problem. The
problem must be felt to be the more serious the stronger the desire for
a self-consciousness becomes. However, self-consciousness cannot
possibly be reached without a transcendence of the division between
activity and the given condition of things. Life has first to seek
itself, its unity, its perfection; and it is just this that is the
problem of truth: and in this problem life is turned not towards
externals, but towards itself. We understand now how the desire for
truth can exert such an enormous power, for, in this struggle for truth,
we fight not for something alien, but for our own being.

This conception of truth determines also the nature of the effort to
attain truth. The task cannot be to subordinate one side of life to the
other, and to derive one side as far as possible from the other; that
is, to transform the given condition of life as far as possible into
free activity, or to adapt activity to the given condition in such a way
that activity is merged into it; but the task is one of pressing forward
to a transcendent active whole which unites the two sides, and develops
them both; and in mutual relation gives to activity a content and to the
given condition a soul. We have seen how a movement to attain such a
unity runs through history and extends into the soul of the individual.
That life is in general able to unify and raise itself is the
presupposition of all striving after truth: the proof of this, however,
is to be found in the actual furtherance of life, in the new contents
which are thus obtained.

Such a way of regarding truth, that is, as an upward endeavour of life
to its own unity, a unity not forced upon it but immanent, exhibits its
unique nature especially in its opposition to the intellectualistic
conception of truth, which, notwithstanding that it has been rejected
and attacked so often, still continues to assert a mighty power.
According to the intellectualist, cognition should treat the problem and
solve it of its own capacity; it seems that the synthesis that is sought
must be found in the first place in the realm of thought, and thence
imparted to the rest of life. As a fact, however, knowledge itself is
affected with particular severity by the division of free activity and
fixed given condition; and from its own capacity thought cannot attain
to a state of full creative activity which alone is able to overcome the
division, but for the attainment of this is referred to an advance of
life as a whole which alone can reach an essentially new position. To be
sure, cognition has particular fundamental logical principles which
regulate all its work. But to regulate and to produce are two different
things. The most scrupulous adherence to these principles does not lead
beyond reflection to an inner relation to the object, to an inner
transcendence, a penetration, and an appropriation of the object; it
leaves us still in the position of simply attempting to know, in a state
of mere reflection and search. All real knowledge involves a spiritual
creation, an advance, and a self-formation of life as a whole. The chief
epochs of culture have therefore given a distinctly unique character to
the inner nature and the fundamental texture of knowledge; the character
given to it by one epoch being entirely different from that given to it
by another. Modern knowledge does not differ from earlier knowledge only
in a quantitative way: as soon as its connection with the chief
synthesis characteristic of modern life is revealed, it can no longer be
regarded as absolute knowledge, but only as a particular kind of
knowledge beyond which there are possibilities of further developments.

From life as a whole the conflict will extend into all its individual
departments, and give to the activity in them a greater intensity.
Religion, art, and human society all have first to overcome the
opposition of subjective power and alien given condition, and thereby to
win a truth. In no case does truth mean a taking up of things which are
presented to the activity of life--it means rather an advance of life to
its own perfection.

In accordance with this conception of truth, that which claims to be
true will not be able to prove its right otherwise than through its
power, that is, through its capacity to embrace life as a whole and to
raise it above opposition into the state of complete activity. Every
such attempt must prove its power and its right in opposition to rivals
by being able to wrest from them the truth contained by them, and in new
relationships to lead beyond the state they reach, and to change life
more into a self-consciousness than they are able.

Hence the endeavour after truth here shows more movement, more freedom,
more multiplicity: different starting points and different ways may be
chosen, and the correctness of the one need not involve the
incorrectness of the other. The only indispensable thing is that the
movement pass beyond the state of division and reflection to one of
complete activity; only in that way can the content of life gain through
the movement of life. And so we see the great significance of progress
in work, in spiritual work; according as it succeeds, genuine life is
distinguished from the mere will to live. To be sure, each piece of work
that is here undertaken is a venture; it is far easier and far more
secure to continue in the state of mere reflection and reasoning. But
the latter does not lead us to an experience and a decision in a matter
concerning the development of life, and therefore does not bring us a
step further in this chief matter. Work with its failures is better than
all subtle contemplation which leads to no activity; for failure can
lead us beyond itself to truth, while feebleness and inactivity keep us
in the old position.

In our conception of it truth is anything but a system of universal
propositions out of which, by deduction, all detail might be derived.
Rather the organisation of life into an inner unity, upon which in this
view of truth everything depends, will exclude all that is only general
and turn towards the differentiation of the whole. The more life
progresses in this direction the less is it a mere application of
general principles; the less does it find its consummation after the
manner of a conclusion from given premises; the more does it become a
progressive activity, a new formation and an elevation.

In this conception, there is also room for a truth peculiar to the
single individuals. As the comprehensive life-synthesis can permeate
every individual detail of existence, so it is necessary for every
individual life-centre to realise its own particular synthesis, and that
every individual should fight for his inner unity and thus, also, for a
truth of his own; he must, however, realise this unity and truth in
every particular activity. A truth which is not my truth is, for me, not
a complete truth. Only it is necessary that such individualisation be
effected within the whole, not independent of it; it must result from
the inner necessity of creative activity, not out of a vain wish to
excel. In any case, it follows here that, as the immanent and universal
form of truth requires more activity and power, it is also able to grant
more free movement and multiplicity. Truth and freedom have been thought
opposed to one another in the course of history; if the former seemed to
require unconditional submission, the latter had a strong tendency to
shake off every tie as an oppressive yoke. If we see that truth of life
can be reached only through freedom, and also that freedom acquires a
content and a spiritual character only through its relation to truth,
the opposition by no means entirely disappears, but a basis is won upon
which we may strive to attain an agreement and a fruitful interaction
between the two.

     *     *     *     *     *

So understood, the problem of truth has the closest connection with that
of reality: with regard to the one as to the other we are concerned in
a conflict against the external conception common to a naïve state of
life, which, though far surpassed by the inner movement of the work of
history, obstinately asserts itself through the evidence of the senses
in single individuals and hardly ceases to impress men with its apparent
self-evidence. The naïve way of thinking understands reality as a space
which encompasses men and things; reality seems to be presented,
"given," to man through the senses; only that which is exhibited to man
in these sense-relations passes current as real. In this Ptolemaic form
of life, dominated by sense impression, everything other than sense
fades to a mere illusion, and this includes the spiritual life itself,
although in it alone is reality known. Now, however, as science has with
no mean power led beyond this Ptolemaic representation of nature, so the
development of life has led beyond the Ptolemaic reality. Life could not
emancipate itself from its attachment to the environment and develop an
inwardness without effecting a revolution in this problem. The inward
becomes the first and surest experience, with which all that is to pass
current as real must show itself to be in consistent relation:
everything external loses its proximity and becomes a problem; it can be
established as real only through that which it achieves for the inner
nature and in accordance with the standards of that nature. The power to
convince possessed by sense impression is now based, not on its
obviousness, but on the spiritual activity that it arouses. Here also,
only the experiences of the spiritual life itself can lead to the
experience of something less than spiritual.

As such a revolution brings clearly to consciousness the spiritual
achievement in the formation of reality, so at the same time it gives
the object more movement and transforms it in spiritual endeavour. Two
things are necessary to the conception of reality: an independence of
man, and a realisation of the many as a unity. Now, since that which
lies wholly beyond experience must for that reason be inaccessible to
us, this assertion of independence can have no other meaning than that,
within life itself, something becomes detached from the stream of
consciousness and fixes and asserts itself as independent of it. The
power thus to transcend the time-process is a characteristic mark of all
spiritual activity; this activity evolves within us something in
opposition to us, and in so doing accomplishes a marvellous expansion.
This is most clearly seen within the sphere of thought. For all the
functions peculiar to thought receive their differentiating
characteristic only through such a detachment from the flow of
sense-presentation and by establishing themselves as independent of it:
the concept presents its content as something fixed in contrast to the
stream of presentations; the judgment proclaims its connection of
concepts to be something that does not pass away with the act of
connecting them but persists in face of all the changes of the psychical
life. Life accomplishes a gradation within itself and lifts itself above
the mere stream of change. Only because life establishes within itself a
fixed nucleus, and in this manner wins an independence of its own
momentary condition, can it oppose a world to itself, and set itself the
task of appropriating this world--that, further, that independent
nucleus should remain no mere collection, but should be inwardly unified
is again a requirement and an achievement of the spiritual life. How far
that requirement will be fulfilled depends upon the nature and the
degree of the development of the spiritual life.

Reality, therefore, is to be found chiefly in the self-consciousness of
the spiritual life; from this self-consciousness we build up our
reality. Since spiritual requirement is from this point of view the
measure of human undertaking, our activity is judged by the degree to
which the state of the world is changed in it and has thus become our
reality. How far our capacity reaches in this matter cannot be decided
by preliminary consideration, but only by the progress of life itself:
in particular it is not permissible to assume things-in-themselves
independent of us and thus to reduce our world to a realm of mere
appearances. For, so far as that independence reached, things could
never enter our life, and never be inwardly appropriated; at most they
could concern us only in their effects. As far as the conception of
nature as a mechanism is concerned, which regards all occurrence as a
texture of related individual points which exist, inaccessible, behind
it, there is much to be said for the view that things are only known in
their effects; but this view is an intolerable limitation--dogmatic in
the highest degree--if it is meant to represent our fundamental relation
to reality and to ourselves. For then we should be related to ourselves
as to something alien; all the self-consciousness of life would be
destroyed; there could be no development of being in contrast to single
acts, but we must be completely resolved in the stream of appearances;
there would be no advance in the striving after reality. As a matter of
fact, we are concerned primarily with the content that life is able to
give to itself; how far it presses forward to reality. Our world is to
be measured more especially by the degree in which life becomes
deepened. But from the beginning man, so far as he shares in the
spiritual life, is not a being adjacent to reality, but within it. He
would never be able to attain to a reality if he did not bear it within
himself and needed only to develop it. Thus ultimately he does not look
inwards from outside, but outwards from within; and his limitation is
not the chief thing, but the secondary.

The inner structure of our life corresponds with this conviction. It is
characteristic of all spiritual life that it does not pass hither and
thither between individual points, but includes and develops a
multiplicity within a transcendent unity; by this the spiritual life
grows within itself, and more and more acquires a self-consciousness.
And it is just in this way that it evolves to a reality. Reality,
therefore, here is not a fixed and completed magnitude, but is of
different degrees. In the first place there is a difference in the
energy which maintains a union of the manifold and a transcendence of
the division: according to the nature of this energy the self appears,
sometimes stronger, sometimes weaker; its power of changing, at one
time greater, at another smaller. Again, the force of the resistance
that the given condition to be appropriated offers, differs according to
the amount of its positive power; and the clash of the given condition
and free activity will be harder or more gentle according to this power.
One man finds intolerable contradictions where to another all is plain
and smooth; one believes that things are transformed in their own being
where another holds that only their surface is affected: and so, that
which one regards as reality may seem to another only a realm of

Mere energy, however, is too subjective to be able to obtain a genuine
reality from life: for that, a transformation of life in work, an
elevation to full activity, is necessary; but the preceding paragraph
has shown that this transformation and elevation is of different kinds
and of different degrees. The system of the formation of being promises
to give to life the most fundamental organisation and the most forceful
reality. For into the single elements embraced by the movement of life
it is able to breathe a life of their own, to confer upon them an
incomparably greater independence than in those systems in which they
are regarded as lifeless objects which are acted upon, and which only
set isolated forces in motion. When within a comprehensive life
different centres of life meet, and in their interaction the activity of
the whole wins an ever richer content and a more stable nature, genuine
reality must increasingly unfold itself.

Looked at from this position, reality is not a fact but a problem and an
ideal; it does not lie at the beginning but at the end of the course: it
is different with different individuals, peoples, and times; each in its
particular nature and work has its own reality. Thus we cannot
comprehend the problem of reality from experience without conceiving
reality as existing in flux: the assertion of an independent spiritual
life, transcendent over all human undertaking, is a sufficient safeguard
against a destructive relativism. It is one of the most troublesome
appearances in the conflicts of minds that they fail to recognise the
many-sidedness and fluidity of our conceptions of reality; that each
takes his conception as the self-evident one and urges it upon the
others. In this way originate the many unfruitful disputes concerning
this world and the next, immanence and transcendence, in which the most
external and superficial conception is usually presented as
self-evident; while yet, according to the fundamental relation and the
chief basis of life, very different conceptions arise, and as a fact,
systems of thought nowhere come into more severe conflict than with
regard to their conceptions of reality. Only to a mode of thought which,
without further consideration, accepts the world of sense as the genuine
and only reality, can philosophy and religion, for example, appear to be
occupied with things implying an "other" world, and which, therefore,
are incomprehensible. On the contrary, Augustine thought to attain to
genuine reality and at the same time a true life only by elevation to a
realm above sense, so that to him the world of sense was secondary and

To-day we are again deeply concerned with the problem of reality.
Notwithstanding all the passionate agitation of forces in the
incalculable extension of and the breathless haste in work, a genuine
reality fails us; our life lacks the proper character of being real; and
so, in the midst of all the external results of our work, our life,
spiritually discerned, threatens to become destitute and unreal. An
eager desire for reality exists in our time; it is often thought
possible to satisfy it by the closest possible connection with sense
impression and impulse, and by expelling as far as possible all elements
of thought. But thought is there, and cannot be expelled; with its power
to analyse, it steps continually between us and things, takes away from
them the proximity they have for us, and dissolves them into mere
pictures and shadows. As a fact, the problem of reality lies primarily
within the spiritual life; and it cannot be solved otherwise than in
that the spiritual life advances within itself from division to unity,
from the movement of forces to self-determining activity, from all mere
activity to a formation of being. If thus our life becomes transformed
into a self-preservation, if in it we unfold and assert a spiritual
being, we become certain of a reality and feel a satisfaction. Never,
however, can reality come to us from without.


Through our whole investigation we have expressed the conviction that
man acquires a secure relation to the world only through his belonging
to a spiritual life acknowledged as independent; otherwise, all entrance
to the world is shut off. The growing independence of the inner life has
broken down the immediate connection which dominates the naïve way of
thinking: if, however, man once finds himself set in a position of
independence of the world, he can hardly draw it back to himself simply
of his own capacity. All appeal to subtlety and reflection seems only to
widen the gulf still more. Only the acknowledgment of an independent
spiritual life offers a way out of such a desperate situation: if in the
spiritual life the world attains to a self-consciousness, and if, on the
other hand, the spiritual life is present and active within man, there
is a possibility that man and the world are united; and that, at the
same time, human life also becomes cosmic. But it is a question how far
the possibility comes to be realised; how far the union that exists in
the innermost basis can be developed and transformed within us in the
work of life. Only the actual experience of life can answer this
question. We must ascertain whether there are any particular
developments of life which are not productions of the human, but which
manifest the operation of a transcendent world; and, further, whether
these developments are able to find a more detailed formation in their
contact with the world around us, and to adapt themselves to the
multiplicity of this world. Such a turning to the individual thing would
be impossible if a complete life-form ruled within us and impressed
itself on things only from the outside. For in this case this form must
inevitably be uniformly effective in its whole extent; in appropriating
the multiplicity it could not itself advance to greater concreteness. If
such an advance is effected, there is a contact within life between the
one and the other; and so the world acquires an inner connection with
our activity, and the spiritual movement can take possession of the
breadth of our life and with its differentiation gain a greater

An immediate union of man and world is indeed opposed to the fact that
the spiritual life which should unite them always exists, for us, in its
particular form in human existence and that this form cannot be
projected beyond man into the whole. The form of human existence
constitutes an insuperable boundary; if it governed our life as a whole,
then man could never overstep his narrow, particular sphere. But it is a
conviction that is fundamental to our investigation that our whole life
does not come under this form, but that there are tendencies in life
which are operative beyond this form of existence, and attain to an
independence of it. So far as these life-tendencies may be detached and
developed, man may confidently take up the problem of the world, and
feel related to the world around him; he can try to transform its life
into his own. The particularity of his manner of presentation and
perception then simply sets the limitation, that that which may be
admitted to be certain and true in its fundamental content can be
presented only through the medium of human peculiarity; the more
detailed amplification of the representation is always only of a
symbolic character. We see from this fact that there is a contradiction
ever present within our life that prevents it from ever gaining an
ultimate conclusion; however, it does not take from us the possibility
of an inner union and a community with the whole. Indeed, the
contradiction itself, and the powerful movement that it calls forth, are
to the train of thought here indicated a witness to a fundamental
expansion of our life.

An attempt to unite our life with the whole appears in the first place
in thought, in its work of obtaining knowledge. This emergence of
thought involves a transformation of life that could never be occasioned
by mere man, but can be understood only as the revelation of a new stage
of universal life. In thought, the intellect, otherwise bound to the
mechanism of the sequence of presentations, attains an independence. It
places itself in a position independent of the world, and seeks to
comprehend it as a whole, to appropriate it as a whole. The primary
connection with things is dissolved, to become established anew upon a
higher level and with an important transformation of its nature; through
the deviation a real appropriation is achieved. All this is incomparably
more than a merely becoming conscious of a given world, which is an
experience that could arise in some way at isolated points; thought
contains a development of the world which ultimately can proceed only
from the power of the world itself. How can the individual matter be
elucidated if the whole remain obscure? How can the desire for
enlightenment obtain such a power over man, and assert itself in him in
opposition to the interests of his physical self-preservation, if a
universal movement were not operative in him? Man does not elucidate the
world, but the world elucidates itself within him. What is thus reached
is valid not for him alone, but universally; the development of this
universal movement of thought enables him to win a closer relation to
the world, a life embracing the world.

Our thought cannot advance in the definite work of building up science
without producing and employing a definite logical structure with fixed
principles: these principles are immanent in the work of thought; they
are above all the caprice and all the differences of the individuals.
This logical structure cannot be carried over and applied to the world
around us, as all scientific research carries it over and applies it,
without implicitly presupposing an objective logic of things, a
conceivability of experience: in this, man does not simply project
externally and apply mechanically forms already existing in a complete
and final state within him. For the multiplicity of things not only
gives to those principles a particular form, in the production of which
they must themselves participate, but through the relation to the world
the fundamental forms are also further developed in their nature as a
whole; it is only with the co-operation of both sides that the
thought-structure achieves what is ultimately reached. The chief thing
is that thought actually transcends the state of contemplative
reflection, and advances to fully active work; that out of the movement
of our thought proceed further developments, which extend to the object
also; that, moreover, we come under the compulsion of inner necessities,
and, possessing the highest freedom, are raised securely above all
caprice. This creative thought in us, which is at the same time our own
thought, constitutes a witness to a meeting of our thought with a
thought that has its basis in things and in the whole. Inability to
imagine such a thought should never lead to the denial of an absolute
logic, with which all scientific research stands or falls. The
disclosure of this relation, however, gives to our thought, in the midst
of all doubt, a firm foundation, a joyful certainty, an infinite task.

Artistic creation and appreciation brings another characteristic
unfolding of life; and this also demonstrates an inner relation of man
to the world, and can be developed only when this relation is
acknowledged. In the first place, for this creation and appreciation a
deliverance of life from the turmoil of ends and interests, which at
first sway our existence, is essential; artistic creation and
appreciation involves a resting and a tarrying in itself. If the world
were no more than this turmoil, if it did not in some way attain to
self-consciousness, how could such a deliverance be brought about? If a
self-conscious life were not present in man, how could a longing for an
artistic moulding of life arise in him? But an arousing of an inner
life in things, the revelation of a soul, is accomplished not through
imparting something from without, but through a meeting together of
things and human endeavour. On the other hand, the spiritual expresses
itself in a visible form and in doing so moulds itself. The chief thing
in this connection is not mere beauty, a preparation for idle enjoyment,
but a truth, a revelation of contents, a further development of life
through and above the antithesis. How could something invisible and
something visible, to express the matter briefly, find a common ground
and combine together in a common action if nature were not more than the
mere web of relations into which the mechanistic conception of it
transforms it; if spiritual life were not more than the subjective form
of life that it is supposed to be, according to general opinion; if from
that form of life an inner life did not arise, and beyond all
subjectivity attain to a full activity, and thus to the building up of a
reality within its own province? That we do not simply become aware of a
movement within ourselves, and then read it into nature, but only take
up and lead to its own truth that which strives upward in nature, is
again testified by the inner advance of this striving through its
contact with the world, and by the infinite abundance of particular
contents which are revealed to us in the world and which continually aid
in our development. Again, our life experiences the most important
elevation in that it takes up and carries further a movement of the
whole, and is liberated from the narrowness of the particular sphere,
without merging into a vague infinity. To realise clearly that we belong
to the world, and energetically to amplify this relation, is of the
greatest significance for artistic creation and appreciation. For it is
only by becoming firmly established in these relations that artistic
endeavour is able to resist the tendency to degenerate into play and
pleasure--a tendency which threatens it with inner destruction; as in a
similar manner the work of thought must guard itself from degenerating
into mere reflection. In the realms of thought and art there remains
much that is alien, ever surmise and symbol; but even symbol is not to
be disdained, if it serves an important truth.

A universal character is shown most clearly by the movements that
co-operate towards the ethical moulding of life. Without freedom there
is no such moulding; but we saw above that freedom requires a world of
spontaneous life and its presence within man. However, when freedom is
thought of in these relations, it is elevated above the usual conception
of it and also above the usual criticism. All moral life is pretence and
delusion without the arousing and fundamental idea of duty. But where is
the truth more clearly expressed than in duty, that what man does by no
means concerns himself alone; and that nothing can constrain him but
what he acknowledges as his own will, his own being? As duty is
concerned ultimately not with something isolated but with a whole, not
with a performance within the old order but with the creation of a new
order, so in the moral life a whole new world appears to be taken up
into man's own will and being. Duty exhibits the new world particularly
in relation and in opposition to the old; the new world appears in
itself to be pre-eminently a kingdom of love. Love is primarily not a
subjective emotion, but an expansion and a deepening of life, through
life setting itself in the other, taking the other up into itself; and
in this movement life itself becomes greater, more comprehensive and
noble. Love is not a mere relation of given individuals, but a
development and a growing in communion, an elevation and an animation of
the original condition. And this movement of love has no limits; it has
all infinity for its development; it extends beyond the relation to
persons to the relation to things; for things also reveal their
innermost being only to a disposition of love. Again, the striving after
truth in science and art cannot succeed without love and an animation
that proceeds from it, without inwardly becoming one with the object.
How could this unity and activity in the whole be possible, how could
it even become an object of desire, if the whole itself did not strive?
And how could such a wealth of cultures proceed out of this movement if
that which was striven towards at one time was not taken up and carried
further by other times; how could the single movements tend together
without the unifying and elevating power of a universal life? As a
phenomenon to the individual, the movement involves a definite
contradiction: wherever it has been further and more freely developed it
has been directed to a kingdom of love; and this has necessarily been
thought of as the soul of reality, and a severe conflict has been taken
up against the world of self-assertion. Thus in the realm of morality
also we find ourselves in world-movements, we create out of the whole,
work towards the whole, and are borne on the flood of infinite life.

Accordingly, life-developments of various and related kinds arise: with
their manifold experiences they strive to attain to a harmony and a
union with one another. They can seek these only on the basis of a
self-consciousness of reality; find them only through their unification
in a universal life, to which each individual tendency leads.
Representations of the whole are attempted at the highest points of
creative activity by philosophy, religion, and art; these
representations accompany, indeed govern, the work in these spheres of
life through history. But the limitations of our capacity, through which
we are unable to give a suitable form to necessary contents, and through
which we attribute and must attribute human traits to that which should
lead us beyond the human, are of particular force in this matter of
forming a representation of the whole; and, indeed, this is the more so
the further we remove ourselves from that which may be immediately
transformed in work. These representations of the whole are, therefore,
inadequate; their content of truth is clothed in a wrapping of myth, and
humanity lies under the danger of taking the myth for the chief thing
and thus of obscuring the truth, and this must produce an incalculable
amount of error and strife. Still, it is impossible to give up all claim
to these representations of the whole; for they alone make the fact of
our belonging to the whole and of the presence of the whole in our life
quite clear and enable it to exert a far-reaching influence. Only with
their help can the degeneration of life to the intolerable
insignificance of the narrowly human be resisted; only with their help
can a movement from whole to whole begin.

Thus it is a matter not so much of abandoning these representations of
the whole as of referring them continually to their essence; to those
unfoldings of life which are experienced by us; to test them by these
and to renew them from these. It was the error of the earlier
position--much too indulgent to Intellectualism-that it did not
sufficiently maintain the relation with these living sources, and so
fell into the danger of having no definite tendency, or even of failing
to recognise the relativity of the myth. If a more energetic direction
of life upon its own content and experiences teaches us to preserve
these connections better and to develop them more forcefully, a new type
of representation of the whole is yielded in contrast to the old, and
far more different from it than may appear at the first glance. We may
hope that with its development the truth will be seen more clearly
through the myth, and that the striving, which we cannot give up, to win
a universal life may not lead us astray into a world of dreams.


The question as to in which direction the spiritual life moves in man is
implied through our whole investigation, and in it receives an answer.
Nevertheless, it requires to be definitely stated and treated by itself,
so that the distinctive character of the movement and its influence in
the moulding of life may be fully acknowledged. It has become clearly
evident to us that an independent and, therefore, genuine spiritual
life cannot arise out of life in its usual condition, but only in
opposition to this condition. For, however little this condition of life
may lack spiritual elements, they are mixed and bound up with other
elements far too much to be able to bind themselves immediately into a
whole, and to display an independent power. That the spiritual life must
and can gain a basis independent of this condition of life is the
indispensable, fundamental idea of Idealism. But such attainment of
independence of the usual condition would help little if the spiritual
life which is based upon itself had not a particular nature of its own,
and if from this it did not oppose everything alien and partly alien to
itself. The doctrines of innate ideas, of an _a priori_, and so on,
which have occupied humanity for thousands of years did not intend
anything different from this. The details of the conception of these
were indeed often open to criticism: it was sought to exhibit individual
conceptions and propositions as existing complete at the beginning,
where rather movements or tendencies are in question, which can find
their realisation only within the work of life. Again, the _a priori_
was limited to the intellectual sphere, whereas it is indispensable to
all spiritual activity; for example, how can morality, rising above
merely natural preservation and rejecting all mere utility, as it does,
be conceived without such an _a priori_? To deny to spiritual life an
original nature and power--an _a priori_ in this more comprehensive
sense--means nothing else than to eliminate that life as an independent
factor, and to reduce it to the position of a secondary product. For
without an original nature the spiritual life would be like soft wax
that may be shaped in one form or another to suit our own pleasure: then
the spiritual life could not possibly follow its own aims, could not
possibly attain to an independence in the inner life, in which we
recognised the characteristic nature of the inner life. As certain as it
is that there is a spiritual life at all, so certainly does it bring
certain fundamental tendencies and movements with it; as surely as it
develops in particular directions--and that it does this we have
seen--so surely is this _a priori_ also differentiated. To trace this
fundamental state of spiritual activity in all its relations and
multiplicity is an especially important task of philosophic research.

The revelation of such an original fundamental activity of the spirit
must induce us to undertake to form our whole world from this activity,
and to produce from it or to transform into it that which exists over
against activity as an independent realm of experience. This has been
attempted for thousands of years with the summoning of an enormous amount
of spiritual power and the arousing of a proud self-consciousness. But
failure was inevitable because it was not recognised that the development
of the spiritual life in man is conditioned. However certain it may be
that original spiritual movements must be active within us, they are not
so with organised content and overwhelming power from the beginning, but
they acquire content and power only through the process of life itself,
only in grappling with the oppositions of experience and in the
appropriation of the tasks and stimuli which experience brings to them.
The incompleteness and the mutability of what was accepted earlier as a
fixed and unchangeable racial possession of the spiritual life is to-day
quite clearly perceived. What great changes morality, for example, has
undergone in the course of the ages; how toilsomely has much been won
which later ages have considered self-evident! To be sure, morality
remains, even through all such changes, an original spiritual phenomenon,
which can never be derived from an external source, but which could
emerge and establish itself only as an inner necessity of the spiritual
life in opposition to the realm of mere utility. But the actuality of
this original phenomenon gives rise to a difficult problem, for the
solution of which a closer contact with the environment, a fundamental
arrangement with experience, is necessary. And so the problem is traced
to a more ultimate source, and, though this makes the matter less
simple, it gives a higher significance to our work and to the movement
of history.

Even the fundamental forms of thought which are often accepted as of
everything the most fixed share in this gradual amplification. Man, so
far as he participates in spiritual impulse, thinks, of course, in
conceptions; he gives to appearances fixed points of support by the
establishing of things, and relates events causally. But all this is
full of problems and is comprehended only in its upward endeavour; it
raises more problems than it solves; and around the solution of these
the whole work of science moves. What different things the "idea" meant
to Plato and to Kant, and to ancient and to modern thought generally:
how every thinker of moment has given a particular conception of
substance and of causality; how whole epochs have exhibited their
particular nature in the treatment of these problems!

For the sake of its own perfection, therefore, the spiritual life must
continually turn back to the realm of experience, from which, at first,
it tore itself free. Attempts to evolve the whole life from that _a
priori_ have always given as a result something of a bloodless nature,
abstract in the highest degree, a mere web of formulæ, in so far as
experience, which had been relegated to the background, has not
indirectly asserted its right again, and infused the formulæ with life.
Accordingly, our life does not spend itself in one direction, but bears
within it the counter-tendencies of a tearing oneself free from the
world of sense and a returning back to it, of a detachment from it and
an appropriation of it to oneself. But, in this, independent life and
bound life do not become combined; how could that be the case without
the loss of all inner unity? A basis is necessary; and it is furnished
only by self-determining activity. Experience acquires a spiritual
content and value only so far as it is based upon this activity, and is
taken up into a spiritual movement. Experience does not share something
with the spiritual life, but, through stimulation and opposition, it
forces that life to further development within itself. The state in
which the world of sense is first found undergoes an inner elevation in
that appropriation: sense presentation, for example, is to scientific
work something quite different from what it is to naïve perception; even
if it obstinately withstands a complete resolution into magnitudes of
pure thought, it takes up more and more thought elements; it enters into
conceptual relations; it answers questions which the work of thought
sets. To the whole sphere of sense science gives the background of a
world of thought, and transforms mere sense into a spatially bound

The same thing is valid with regard to the things of value in life; in
these, also, sense and spirit are not simply combined; but something of
sense becomes a spiritual good only so far as it serves the spiritual
life in some way; it cannot do this, however, without itself undergoing
a transformation. This is to be seen nowhere more clearly than in
economics. Money and estate had at all times a value for
self-preservation and enjoyment, but in the doctrine of economics and
political economy they could obtain acknowledgment only after a power to
advance the spiritual life had been recognised in them. As culture in
the ancient world had not yet reached this point of view, it branded all
endeavour after material wealth as inferior, and as far as possible
checked such endeavour. Only since the Modern Age has recognised in
money and estate an indispensable means of gaining control over the
surrounding world and of increasing human power have they secured a
place within the spiritual life, and as a result of this have become
more highly estimated. At the same time, however, they have been changed
inwardly in the process, since that which they achieve, not towards
ostentatious display and enjoyment, but towards the increase of human
power over things has become the chief matter.

As in this way the content and the value of that which is offered by the
world of sense shows its dependence upon the condition of the spiritual
life, so in science also a similar relation between experience and the
spiritual life is found. Science appeals to experience with particular
zeal, more especially after it has first accomplished far-reaching
changes in its own thought constructions; only then does experience give
anything new to knowledge and exhibit a greater depth. Experience can
answer only in the measure in which it is questioned; the question,
however, varies according to the stage of development of the spiritual

Such a view fully appreciates the significance of life-work, and must
strive energetically to gain its acknowledgment. This work is not a
carrying out of a complete scheme in a given condition of things, an
application of firmly rooted principles to particular cases, but a
self-realisation and self-perfecting of the spiritual life which builds
up a self-conscious reality. In this our life is not divided between two
different realms, but, in a comprehensive spiritual world, different
stages of reality meet together, which must be brought into relation and
developed. To be sure, the world of sense retains a certain
independence; it resists a complete transformation into spiritual
magnitudes, and our life, therefore, retains a certain restriction and
impenetrability. But the self-consciousness of the spirit becomes more
and more the chief basis and sphere of life: this self-consciousness
continually takes up more into itself; it makes the world that was to us
at first primary, indeed the only world, more and more secondary and

This increasing spiritualisation of human life never becomes a sure
possession that calls for no toil; ever anew it demands our attention
and activity; it has continually to be won anew as a whole. As soon as
the tension slackens, the world of experience with its appeal to sense
preponderates, and it soon appears to be man's sole world, one which
cannot tolerate anything beyond itself. For the spiritualisation of
human life, a longing rooted in the whole being is primarily necessary;
for with the keen feeling of the vanity of the world of sense
experience, this leads to the removal of the centre of life into the
invisible world of self-determining activity. Further, a clear
presentation of this invisible world is needed; and in this the help of
the visible is not to be dispensed with. For its own establishment the
realm of the invisible must borrow means of expression from the visible,
which now governs human presentation; must transform and refine them for
its aims; prepare out of them an impressive presentation of the whole.
Along with the energy of turning to the spiritual life a creative
imagination is required, through which the invisible may become equal to
holding its own against the visible.

The help of such imagination is indispensable for religion, in order
that the supernatural world advocated by it may gain an effective
presence in the province of humanity. And so with bold upward flights of
imagination the heroes of religion have projected a new condition of
reality as a whole, a kingdom of justice or of love, and have judged
human existence by the standard of this new condition. Similarly,
philosophy did not become an independent world of thought without the
help of imagination; and of how indispensable it is to art we need not
speak at all. Again, work in political, social, educational matters, at
least as far as radical renewals are concerned, has really been taken up
and carried on, and has won a triumphant power, only where the state
striven for has been presented as something visible and clearly present;
this alone has united the multiplicity, and has led with compelling
force beyond the extant situation as though that were something
intolerable. Humanity as a whole must be present in an ideal condition
to our minds for us to be aroused sufficiently from our indolence.

Our life, therefore, contains movements which tend in opposite
directions: there are a pressing forward and a turning backward, a
detachment from experience and a taking up again of experience; and so
we may well speak of an action and reaction within its movement. But
the antitheses that arise aid in advancement only so long as they are
encompassed by a whole of activity. In that the course of history
increases far more than it diminishes the antitheses, the dangers grow
more and more, the possibilities and the tasks of human existence,
however, also grow.


The conception of the spiritual life here developed gives rise to a
particular type of life which can bring about a transformation and
elevation of man from two main positions: the union of man with the
spiritual life is much closer, and the spiritual life in itself is
incomparably more, than is represented by the customary conception of
that life. For in our conception man does not merely enter into some
kind of relation with the spiritual life, but finds his own being in it,
and becomes so completely united with it that it is able to determine
him immediately as his own self. The spiritual life is not a particular
function among others, not a part or an aspect of a more comprehensive
world, but is itself a world, and, indeed, a world in which life first
attains to self-consciousness and becomes a complete reality. If this
world becomes the immediate possession of man himself, his life must
experience a deep-reaching change, indeed a revolution of its usual
condition: to trace the main tendencies of this revolution is our
immediate task.

(1) _Life's Attainment of Greatness_

The placing of man in the spiritual life, becoming aware of its own
independence, must make the forms of this life his own, and in this way
bring about a reversal of the commonplace of every day. Life is
transposed from the narrowness of its merely particular nature to
infinity; what was hitherto alien and hostile to man is changed into his
own possession, and is able to arouse an animating and elevating love.
At the same time a deliverance from subjectivity and its web of
interests and ideas is effected, to the advantage of a life-process that
takes up the object into itself, and thus advances to independence and
sovereign creation; a life is attained that is not spent in movement to
and fro between antitheses, but unfolds a content through them. As this
life attains to complete independence only because it produces a
universal activity in contrast to individual activities, so
participation in this life must lead man beyond division to a
comprehensive unity. It is this that is sought in the idea of
personality--an idea which is often quite obscure and superficial, but
which can in this context be elucidated, manifest its complete
significance, and prove its power of development.

As the spiritual life is a self-consciousness, so man also wins from it
a life that is not exhausted by activity directed upon anything external
to this life, and that does not expect its content from outside like an
empty vessel, but would be itself and realise the possibilities lying
within itself. So far as such a life extends man does not stand on the
border of things but in the centre, in the formation and creation of the
whole; he experiences the world not as something external but from
within. The question of the limits of this life is no longer primary but
secondary, and the answer to this question is to be expected from the
experience of life, not from preliminary reflections. Since, in this,
life has a content in itself and develops this content through its
movement, it distinctly grows above all the play of forces with which it
is often confused; if such a play of forces suffices for a lower stage
it cannot suffice for further development. For the feeling of joyous
excitement which accompanies the exertion of power is not sufficient in
opposition to the serious perplexities that accompany all spiritual
work; indeed, not even against the cares and needs that are involved in
the mere preservation of existence in an advancing culture. Life then
easily comes to be regarded as full of trouble and of work, and becomes
a burden from which one wishes to be delivered. Life is not from the
beginning a good, but it must prove itself to be such by its more
detailed development. In the spiritual life this comes to pass, since it
produces a reality out of itself; it does not become valuable first in
its relation to the external world, but it carries a value in itself, as
is clearly shown by the joy that permeates all experience of the true,
the good, and the beautiful. This joy must be further increased if all
the multiplicity of this experience is regarded as the unfolding of a
comprehensive and persistent fundamental life.

A life of this kind is no indefinite impulse; it cannot become an
independent reality without penetrating into every aspect and making the
ordinary state of things everywhere inadequate, indeed intolerable.
Since the independent spirituality and spiritual character that is
acquired, and that which the particular thing and activity signifies in
the spiritual life as a whole, everywhere constitutes the most important
question, the problem of truth will be raised at each point; and in this
way a sharp division will be made between the genuine and the spurious;
everything that strives within us in the direction of the spirit will
unite and acquire a more stable basis; everything that would satisfy man
in other ways will be seen to be empty and vain. Life now acquires a
deeper reality, but this must first be reached and brought to complete
effect. New forms, in contrast to the ordinary representations, must
also make their appearance if life is to be equal to the task of
developing content and character.

Life in the individual must have roots deeper than the immediate
psychical life; for psychical life cannot itself produce and make clear
that which occurs in it, for this reason at least, that it involves the
antithesis of individual and environment, of subject and object, beyond
which spiritual creation results. The spiritual impulse that the
immediate life of the soul manifests can be based only upon deeper
realities and more comprehensive relations. And so a _noölogical_
treatment is to be distinguished from the psychological, not in order to
displace or limit the latter, but rather to complete it; and it is a
problem to show the point of transition in the immediate life of the
soul. The significance of the individual life, as far as content is
concerned, will depend upon whether an independent spirituality arises
within it, and constitutes it a distinctive life-centre. According to
the new standards a free spiritual activity does not suffice, however
extended it may be, and however sustained by subjective emotion. For all
such activity may be without spiritual substance, and in spite of all
external results the life that is nothing but this activity may remain
spiritually destitute: how shallow many individuals are whose
achievements deserve and obtain the highest appreciation! The inwardness
that the spiritual life requires is not simply a reflex of work in the
soul--from that little is gained--but the forming of a characteristic
spiritual self-consciousness that lifts us above all mere achievement,
and also by giving to activity a soul first makes it complete.

We have often seen how the acknowledgment of an independent spiritual
life forces us to make a sharper distinction between human history and
human society and all merely natural history and merely natural
co-existence of men. At the same time, in that which is called history
and society, a distinction between an esoteric and an exoteric kind is
also required. The value of individual epochs and of history as a whole
depends upon the spiritual substance that grows up in them; everything
else, to whatever extent it may, with commotion and external result,
assume the air of being the chief thing, is only environment or
supplement. Similarly, in the case of society, the spiritual content, if
it has one at all, and human fortune and conduct must become more
distinctly separated. There is far less genuine history and society than
is usually assumed; but this little signifies incomparably more than
both would imply without the spiritual life.

Similarly, with the acknowledgment of an independent spiritual life in
us, a new light is shed upon the individual departments of life, and new
tasks are set them. They have now, primarily, not to further human
well-being, to be of service in the attainment of narrowly human aims,
but they are characteristic unfoldings of the spiritual life. The
particular nature of these departments has its basis in that life, and
they must prove their capacity by advancing it. They are concerned with
man only so far as he participates in the spiritual life; and so they
will not so much strengthen him in his human nature as elevate him
spiritually, and remould him more and more to the form of the spiritual
life. A deliverance from the confusion of that which is narrowly human
with the spiritual is also necessary, and, along with this, life as a
whole must be more energetically based upon the spiritual life, and the
spiritual life itself must be given a more distinct form. From the
position of this life, that which has been handed down to us must be
evaluated and new paths must be opened up for the future. Religion could
obtain no content, and all change in it would be only an advance from a
more crude to a more refined anthropomorphism, if it were based solely
upon human needs and aided man to attain a supposed happiness. Religion
rises above such a condition of doubt only if it exhibits its roots in
an independent spiritual life and is able to show its actuality and its
power by aiding the development of the spiritual life. At its highest
religion has always been concerned with winning a new world and a new
humanity, not with the achievement of something within the old world and
for the old humanity. And as we need a religion of the spiritual life,
we also need a morality, an art, and, finally, an all-comprehensive
spiritual culture, through which something really new may be produced
and man be elevated in this being, and not simply circle round and round
continually in the old paths. Everywhere the matter is one of advance
and revelation; from this point of view the complexes of every day must
also be seen in a new light, and in what is apparently simple and
self-evident great achievements and tasks become manifest. We now, for
the first time and in another sense, win again that which we thought we
already possessed; indeed, by the revolution to the spiritual life, life
as a whole is transformed into a task. Every individual has such a
life-embracing task in the cultivation of a genuine personality and a
spiritual individuality. Humanity as a whole has such a task in the
building up of a kingdom of reason within its domain, in the furtherance
of the movement which comes to it from the whole and summons it to

Human life by participation in the spiritual life finds its basis in the
inward and spontaneous, in the infinite and eternal. The development and
the experiences of the spiritual life and its conflict with a world,
which is only being won, are here the chief content of human life and
unite individuals inwardly; the destinies of individuals receive their
particular nature from such a common life. As this life of independent
spirituality is possible only by detachment from the chaotic condition
of life as we find it at its general level, the development of the
spiritual life must make us clearly conscious of the spiritual
destitution of the majority; and especially must it oppose the attempt
on the part of such a life as that of the majority to present itself as
the whole, and to make itself the standard of human endeavour. In such
an attempt the trivially human inevitably preponderates, and this now,
at its highest points, invests itself with ostentatious pomp and a
feeling of power; now, almost as a whole, relies on the reason of the
masses, which loudly and noisily proclaims that those things which
according to human opinion are valuable are of all things the highest;
confidently makes its judgment and its task the standard of truth; and,
with arrogant presumption, demands a reverence towards itself that is
due solely to the spiritual world. From of old there have been many
indictments of this, but as long as a new life, based in the spiritual
world in contrast with merely human life, was not attained to, these
indictments did not lead to a deliverance. Under the guidance of
religion humanity has evolved such a life and for thousands of years has
found support in it. However, humanity has lost this life and this
support, in its old form, and the loss was inevitable. If humanity will
strive after a new form and at the same time transcend mere appearance,
it can attain to this only on the basis of the spiritual life, that is
acknowledged to be independent. Only on this basis can it enter into the
conflict on the side of gods against idols, for truth against appearance
and emptiness.

The new life cannot develop without elevating the individual in his
spiritual nature above all environment. For, as surely as the
construction of a spiritual reality within humanity needs a union of all
powers, there is a spontaneous springing up of the independent spiritual
life only within the soul of the individual. All social and all
historical life that does not unceasingly draw from this source falls
irrecoverably into a state of stagnation and desolation. The individual
can never be reduced to the position of a mere member of society; of a
church, of a state; notwithstanding all external subordination he must
assert an inner superiority; each spiritual individual is more than the
whole external world. But as the individual does not derive this
superiority from himself, not from a natural particularity and
peculiarity in distinction from others, but only from the presence of a
spiritual world, so he is securely guarded from all vain self-assurance
and the arrogance of the idea of the Superman, which grotesquely
distorts the great fact of the revelation of a universal life at
individual points.

The desire for the presence of the infinite at the individual point may
be characterised as an approximation to mysticism. Indeed, we need both
a metaphysic and a mysticism; but we want both in a new form, not in the
old. It seems to us preposterous to declare that necessary demands of
the spiritual life are finally disposed of, because the older solution
has become inadequate. If man does not in some way succeed in
appropriating the spiritual life, if it is not actively present as a
whole within him and animating him, then his relation to the spiritual
life remains for ever an external one; and this life cannot acquire a
complete spontaneity in him, can never become a genuine life of his own.
But the older mysticism was the offspring of a worn-out age, which
primarily reflected upon quietness and peace, and was under the
influence of a philosophy that sought the truth in striving towards the
most comprehensive universal, and saw in all particularity a defect
(_omnis determinatio negatio_). And so, to be completely merged in the
formless infinite could be regarded as the culmination of life. As the
spiritual life is to us, on the contrary, an increasing activity and
creation, a world of self-determining activity, so its being called to
life at individual points is a rousing of life to its highest energy; in
this also, a continual appropriation is necessary. Further, the movement
of the spiritual life does not appear to us as an advance from
particular to universal, but as one from differentiation to the living
whole; from the indefiniteness of the beginnings to complete
organisation and distinctive form. The inwardness that we advocate is
not a feeble echo and a yearning for dissolution, but is of an active
and masculine nature, and rests on ceaseless self-determining activity.
One may or may not call this mysticism; in any case mysticism of such a
kind cannot be charged with that which now appears to us to be defect or
error in the older form.

(2) _The Increase of Movement_

As certainly as a universal life must surround us and, with efficient
power, in some way be implanted within us, yet only our own activity can
appropriate and amplify that life for us. As the transition to the
independent spiritual life changes the problem so that no achievement
in a given world will satisfy it, but only the winning of a new world,
our existence must become much more active; our life must be made not
only much more comprehensive but also inwardly transformed and deepened.

Naïve opinion is accustomed to presuppose a fixed sphere for our
activity; it is possible for it to do this only because it confuses the
spiritual and that which is less than the spiritual and leaves them
undifferentiated. Since the attainment of independence by the spiritual
life makes this confusion impossible, it may at the same time be
recognised that the fixed relations in which we seem to be are also in
reality due to our own activity. From this fact a method of treatment is
justified, the introduction of which constitutes one of the greatest
services of Kant. This method in his own terminology is the
transcendental method. Unlike ordinary opinion, it does not regard the
relation of the departments of life and all its activities as being
self-evident, but it enquires into the inner possibility of this
relation, that is, it indicates the conditions without which the union
of the manifold could not be accomplished; it reveals the spiritual
activity that exists in the whole. It reveals a far finer texture of
life; it shows syntheses from the whole to the elements; it indicates
clearer limits and makes us more definitely recognise what
differentiates the individual departments. This is what Kant did in the
case of scientific knowledge, of morality, and of the realm of the
beautiful. The transcendental method itself is first indisputably
justified and given a secure foundation with the acknowledgment that a
world of independent spirituality emerges in man, and this through his
own activity, not by a mere favour and gift of destiny. For, when this
independent spiritual world is acknowledged it first becomes a matter
beyond doubt that the basis, and the bonds which unite the whole, could
not be given, but must proceed from our own activity. The transcendental
method must therefore be applied not only to the individual branches but
also to the whole, and the possibility of a spiritual life in man in
general made a problem. Then from the whole the method must also be
extended to the departments that are not brought into prominence by
Kant; it must discuss, for example, the possibility of history in a
characteristically human sense. Since our reality is thus dependent in
the first place upon our own activity, life and movement acquire a wider
scope and a greater value.

The movement of life also tends to be increased by the fact that in our
conviction the more detailed form of the spiritual life itself must
first be won by our activity, and that this detail can be acquired only
little by little through attempts, experiences, convulsions; that for
man the spiritual life with its actuality forms a difficult problem.
What more particularly separates us from the Enlightenment is that while
for it the ultimately valid form of the spiritual life appeared to be
immediately present and to need only an energetic working out, we extend
the historical treatment not only to the representation, but also to the
nature, of the spiritual life; and so the ultimately valid form of the
spiritual life appears to be a high ideal, to which man can only
gradually approximate. The fact that endeavour is centred not upon
externals but primarily upon our own being must make our activity far
more significant and more intense; and this leads to a higher estimate
of history as well as of a historical treatment. As hence epochs are no
longer distinguished simply by their achievements, but by the nature of
their spiritual life, so the life of the present must also be given its
place in the moving stream, and so our innermost nature also depends on
spiritual work.

If with such an increase of movement much is mutable that otherwise
seemed to be as firm as a rock; and if, in particular, the foundations
of life themselves also suffer change, life seems to lose all support
and to fall into an unlimited relativism. Indeed, life must thus lose
all stability if in the spiritual sphere movement does not involve
something in opposition to change: and this as a fact it does involve.
As the spiritual life cannot develop a content without presenting it as
timeless, there is no great achievement in history that does not include
some kind of timeless truth, and the movement of the spiritual life is
not merely a flowing onward with time but also an elevation above time.
In spiritual work, therefore, the achievements of the ages can be
surveyed and examined; indeed, in distinguishing between past and not
past the sequence of times can be transformed into a timeless present.
Of course this is valid only with the presupposition of an absolute
spiritual life, which is present in all the uncertainty and change of
human undertaking, and does not allow it to become fixed in error.
Unless an immanence of the absolute spiritual life is acknowledged, an
essential characteristic of the spiritual work of the Modern Age remains
absolutely unintelligible, namely, its critical character. Modern work
is not completely objective, and occupation with the object does not
completely exhaust that work; but activity realises its independence of
the object, investigates its relation to the object, surveys that which
has been achieved, and tests it by transcendent standards. Such a
critique belongs especially to the fundamental nature of the
Enlightenment, to the proud self-confidence of which a conscientious
self-examination forms a necessary antithesis. The critical method
reached its highest point in Kant, and we can never go back again upon
the transformation of life that has been effected by it. But how could
the critique be justified and exercise such far-reaching influence as it
has done, if it were not more than a product of a subjective reflection
that accompanies the object, and that has to do with the object
externally? The critique could effect an inner transformation and
elevation of work only because it set new forces in motion. And it did
this in that it measured all human achievement by the demands of a
transcendent spiritual life and out of it developed inner necessities,
to which all achievement had to correspond. So the movement was not lost
through the lack of an aim; and life did not flow onward with the stream
of presentations, but found a support in itself; it was able to exert a
powerful counteraction; it did not need to acknowledge anything that
had not proved its validity before the judgment-seat of immanent reason.
This emergence of the question of validity in contrast to that of
actuality must inwardly raise and ennoble the movement of life; it
reveals to man an active relation not only to the environment but
primarily to himself; it leads to a ceaseless differentiation and
examination of the quality of life.

It is true that the Enlightenment, which acknowledged that alone to be
true which was clearly and distinctly cognised, exercised this critique
in a too narrow manner; yet notwithstanding all that may be
problematical in its application to details, the right and the necessity
of the fundamental idea are not thereby overthrown: the question
remains; it can be fully justified only in the relations that we have
indicated; but at the same time it must be transferred from the merely
intellectual to the spiritual as a whole, and form in relation to the
whole that which in the state of culture contains and develops an
independent spirituality and a self-conscious life; but by this it gains
a content of truth. This self-consciousness alone can be regarded as
essence and genuine reality, while everything else is reduced to mere
environment and becomes matter of secondary importance, if not of mere
appearance. Task after task is revealed, more especially for the
present; we see how, with the attainment of independence by the
spiritual life, the movement is not only extended, but also grows
inwardly and tends towards the elevation of life.

(3) _The Gain of Stability_

The movement of the spiritual life as not only directed towards the
outside but also turned inwards towards itself gained for us a greater
independence. But even that which emerges from within exists only in the
process of formation, and in this that which satisfies us to-day may
to-morrow be uncertain; and so we cannot dismiss the question whether
the spiritual life lacks the necessary stability; whether, in the midst
of all becoming and change, caprice and subjectivity are not without the
necessary opposition. In any case, the question of fixation must have a
different appearance within a system of life based upon activity from
that it would have within a system which proceeded from a given world:
in the former, that which is fixed cannot be introduced from outside,
but must exist within the movement itself; it can manifest itself only
through a movement of a kind and form which transcend the utmost
capacity of the mere subject.

Our investigation as a whole contends that the fixity is of this kind;
and at this point only a short revision and a summing up are required.
All spiritual activity is, as we saw, a transcendence of the antithesis
of subject and object; it is progressive and formative universal
activity. But this activity cannot be produced and formed according to
desire or fancy; we must be elevated into it; and, as a result of this,
we feel that we are under the compulsion of an inner necessity, which
distinctly counteracts the caprice of the mere subject. We saw, further,
that within the life-process spiritual contents are raised out of the
stream of events, and that they unite so as to form a world in contrast
with that stream, a world greater and more comprehensive, which
nevertheless continues within our life. This applies to all the branches
of our work; everywhere the deciding step to joyful advance is when
activity proceeds from mere search and contemplation under the necessity
of the object. No resolution, however, or even the most sincere
volition, can of itself force us to this decisive step. Man must be
taken possession of by a spiritual activity and power, and elevated
above the state of groping and doubt. This is shown in all scientific
work and artistic creation; everywhere success does not appear to be the
work of the human, but a gift and a grace from higher forces; everywhere
those who have created have felt guided and sustained by such forces.
Beyond individuals humanity as a whole develops complexes in science, in
law, and so on, which evolve inner necessities and require their
recognition and fulfilment by man, and follow courses of their own
regardless of the weal or the woe of individuals; so far as life follows
these tendencies, it is elevated above doubt to a state of stability and

Such movements appear at first as a multiplicity, and are most directly
effective through that which is distinctive in the particular
departments of life. But through all multiplicity and above it, there is
a striving towards a comprehensive unity; every advance towards this
unity is an immediate gain in stability and certainty. Nothing helps the
individual to become inwardly firm more than the unification of his life
in a whole of activity, more than becoming certain of an inward
all-comprehensive task in the development of a spiritual individuality.
The development of a spiritual individuality is a task that comes to him
from within, and which, while it is more than anything else his own, is
yet above all caprice. This task may tend little to promote that which
is usually called happiness; the striving to fulfil it may transform the
whole of existence into a state of toil and trouble, of conflict and
care; and yet it alone gives to life a meaning and a value, a sure
direction and a secure self-consciousness, and by assuring man of a
spiritual existence of his own makes him certain of the spiritual life
as a whole. Such a unification of the manifold activities so as to form
a life-work, an incomparable kind of spiritual being, is something
entirely axiomatic, which is in no way derived from outside. Again, this
unification does not depend upon particular representations of the
world; only the fanaticism of party can bind it to definite doctrines of
the human and the divine. It itself, however, is a secure starting-point
for the development of convictions; its acknowledgment involves the
acknowledgment of a spiritual world independent of and operative within
us, and summoning us to co-operation, even though this implication is
often concealed from consciousness. Where our own life lacks such a
fountain-head the conviction of a spiritual life never attains to
axiomatic certainty, but depends on the thin threads of reasons and
proofs, and therefore is most easy to overthrow. And so, for the
overcoming of doubt and faintheartedness everything depends upon
attaining to a unity of activity and creation which inwardly embraces
life as a whole, and with this, upon being something, not simply doing

What is valid of individuals is valid also of peoples and epochs, of
humanity as a whole. Whether a people feels certain of a spiritual life,
and is thereby elevated to a state of inward joyfulness, depends
primarily upon whether it recognises and acknowledges in itself a common
spiritual task: if this is not the case, the acutest apologetic cannot
prevent the increase of doubt and faintness of heart. Similarly, the
disposition and life-feeling of epochs is decided primarily by whether
their endeavour unites them inwardly or whether it is divided, and at
the same time becomes inconsistent. The endeavour of our own time does
suffer from such division and inconsistency; it is this in particular
that gives the negative tendency so much power over us and in the midst
of all greatness of achievement in external matters makes us inwardly
despondent. Humanity as a whole can attain to a stable spiritual life
which is more than that of the particular times and peoples only by the
revelation and appropriation of an all-comprehensive task which governs
it with inner necessities. Such a task alone makes life a preservation
of spiritual character; and gives conviction an unshakable firmness, and
a joyous confidence of victory. And so everywhere only the formation of
life itself is able to guarantee to it inner stability; the movement
itself by its elevation above all caprice and its inner unity is alone
able to overcome the dangers which the transformation of life into
activity brings with it.


The system of life here developed receives its distinctive colour and
tone chiefly because it brings into prominence the fact that we do not
belong to a world of reason, which from the beginning had only to be
perceived and enjoyed, but that we have first to advance to such a
world; and for this we require a revolution of the first condition of
things. The basis of true life must continually be won anew; and even
the individual achievement always contains a decision between one and
another type of life. Only through ceaseless activity can life remain at
the height to which it has attained; that which life experiences and
receives is judged according to the more precise form of activity. Since
it gives this precedence to activity, to such activity, this system may
be called "Activism." Activism, however, demonstrates its unique
character and develops its capacity only if it is definitely
distinguished from all other apparently related tendencies. Neither a
sudden resolution nor even a mere incitement of power brings us at once
into the condition of activity. For at first we are surrounded and
embraced by a world of inflexible nature and of feeble spirituality,
which is at the same time mixed with human pretence: this world binds us
so strongly, and suppresses all independence with such force, that the
mere individual remains entirely powerless in opposition to it, and
could soar to no higher wisdom than that of an involuntary submission to
it. Activity without release from the given world is an absurdity; but
such release is attainable only through the living presence of a world
of self-determining activity; the power of such a world alone is able to
arouse the individual to self-determining activity. But how could man
appropriate this world to himself without changing its life into his
own; without acknowledging its content as valid for himself also;
without making its laws norms of his conduct?

Activity in this way acquires an ethical character; it is this which
draws the boundary line between spiritual activity and merely natural
impulse, and distinguishes genuine from imaginary self-determining
activity. Ethical relation does not mean a submission to alien and
unsympathetic regulations, but a taking up of the infinite spiritual
world into our own volition and being: this relation brings things close
to us and reveals them, so that they are able to impart their life to
us, and we are able to grow with their growth. So understood, ethical
relation is primarily not regulative but productive; it is not merely
being prepared to fulfil certain demands, when they are made upon us, to
live in accordance with strict regulations, but it involves the motive
of aiding in the development of the world, of advancing everything good
and true: it requires an untiring forward endeavour and advance to the
building up of a kingdom of reason and love. If in this way conduct is
lifted above the pursuit of that which pleases and interests the mere
subject, this is not on behalf of something alien, but for the elevation
of our own being, for the sake of this genuine being, for the sake of
our spiritual self.

It is this inner elevation and this demand for a new world that
distinguishes Activism from all mere Voluntarism and Pragmatism, to
which it appears to approximate, and with which, in its negative aspect,
it is, indeed, associated. For it shares with them the rejection of an
intellectualistic view of life, in which cognition is regarded as
finding truth of its own power and as conveying it to the rest of life.
Further, Activism desires, as do Voluntarism and Pragmatism also, the
basing of truth upon a more spontaneous and essential activity. But the
flight to the will is more a reaction against Intellectualism than an
overcoming of the difficulty. As such the will does not yield a new
world and a transcendent power; it may, therefore, be that mere volition
is implicitly transformed into a self-determining activity encompassing
the whole extent of life. Pragmatism, also, which has recently made so
much headway among English-speaking peoples and beyond them, is more
inclined to shape the world and life in accordance with human condition
and needs than to invest spiritual activity with an independence in
relation to these, and apply its standards to the testing and sifting of
the whole content of human life. But after the experiences of history
the claim to this latter can scarcely be given up. After man has been
seen to be particular and limited in nature, as things first present
themselves, he no longer suffices for the starting-point of the
endeavour for truth, but to attain to this starting-point an elevation
above the human into a universal spiritual life is necessary. And that
is the intention of Activism.

The unique character of Activism becomes clearer especially in
comparison with organisations of life, of which one indeed makes
activity the chief thing, but gives to it the character of a mere
process; while another thinks of the fundamental relation of man to
reality in general not under the ideas of conduct and progress but under
those of contemplation and enjoyment. The idea that life constitutes a
process transcending all human endeavour and decision has shown a strong
power of attraction in the Modern Age; and, in the system of Hegel
especially, has found an imposing embodiment. This idea is asserted most
definitely in the evolutionary conception of history, since it regards
the motive power of history as striving to its aim, certain of
accomplishing it, and unaffected by human opinion and preference. By
this deliverance from the insignificance of human motives and the
variations of human conditions the object seemed to gain incomparably in
greatness; but it was considered that this deliverance from man involved
an elevation above the ethical conception, which then appeared to be
something subjectively human. But not only does this conception of a
process that ceaselessly advances with compelling necessity contradict
the actual state of things as they are found in history, which shows so
much stagnation and retrogression, and so many different spheres of
culture existing side by side indifferent to one another, but the
transformation of life into a mere process, if consistently carried out,
must also destroy or seriously debase its spiritual character. If life
were a mere process it would be nothing other than a soulless
mechanism; only in the case of such a mechanism can one phase proceed
immediately from the others without at the same time a whole of life
becoming active and exercising an animating power within the whole
process. As a fact, the process is usually supplemented in thought by a
universal life unifying, sustaining, and controlling the individual
phases; however, so far as such a life does not simply come to us, but
needs our own activity, the deed comes before the process; and a new
world reveals itself to us. The disregard of the ethical element by the
systems which make mere process their fundamental idea is explained by
the fact that they understand the ethical only as a decision and turning
of man, accompanying the spiritual life, not as the motive and
progressive power of the spiritual life itself. They know only a human
ethic, not an ethic of the spiritual life--as a self-assertion and a
self-elevation, through which it first attains its complete freedom and
independence. Still, to trace this further is the less necessary since
this mode of thought lives rather from earlier achievements than works
from fresh impulse springing up in the present.

The relation of Activism to the æsthetic mode of thought requires closer
consideration; we indicated at the beginning of our investigation that
Æstheticism forms one of the chief streams of the life of the present
day; at this point, only its relation to Activism need be examined. This
Æstheticism has its definite conditions. Where the contemplation and
enjoyment of the world and its beauty are to constitute the essence of
life, we must be assured that the world is a kingdom of reason and
beauty, so that the condition in which it is incites us to no
far-reaching change. Further, there must be no perplexities in our soul,
and no deep conflicts within our being, so that this contemplation may
occupy us completely, and be a source of happiness. Lastly, we must be
closely and surely united with the world so that a change of life may be
accomplished easily and smoothly. If one of these requirements is not
satisfied; if, instead of this harmony, the world manifests severe
conflicts and harsh contradictions; if such exist also within our soul;
if, lastly, there appears to be a deep gulf between us and the whole,
then the æsthetic solution of the problem of life is an impossibility.
If in spite of these contradictions we attempt to entertain this
solution, our life will become insincere, and will lose all spiritual
productivity, and, as a whole, our life will be spent in subjective
mood, empty enjoyment, and become feeble. Now, however, the Modern Age
develops in a direction which is directly opposed to the requirements of
the æsthetic form of life. The great world appears to us to be a
meaningless machine; and in the struggle for existence the earlier
harmony is forgotten. We perceive in man far too much that is
insignificant and far too much selfishness, emptiness, and mere show for
us to be able to regard him as being inwardly complete. Lastly, the
modern strengthening of the subject and the ceaseless growth of
reflection have so fundamentally overthrown the immediate relation of
man to the world that only a far-reaching transformation of life can
prepare for a reunion. If our life is so full of problems and tasks; if
we do not find ourselves in a completed world of reason; but if we must,
with all our powers, work toward such a world, we shall turn to Activism
as the only help possible. But we shall resolutely reject Æstheticism as
a veiling of the real condition of things and a too facile solution of
the great problems of life.

Activism does not imply that immediately and at one stroke our life may
be transformed into spiritual activity and may quickly establish a
positive relation to reality: that would be to fail to recognise the
conditions under which man exists, and the necessity of undergoing
experiences and changes. Such an attitude might easily lead to the
formation of syntheses of life that would be much too hasty and far too
narrow; and the necessary breaking up of these would arouse a keen
distrust of the whole undertaking. The power which the Romantic movement
from time to time wins over minds is based on the fact that it warns us
against an over-estimation of our activity; that it demands that the
soul should be open to the influences of the world; that its
impressions should be appropriated without restriction and permitted to
fade away completely; that in opposition to all the limitation and
organisation of life, it still longs for the infinite; and that it also
to some extent satisfies by turning to unrestrained feeling. At the same
time, the Romantic movement makes us clearly conscious of the power of
destiny, the transcendence of external and internal necessities above
all human intention and utilitarian conduct. In this way life acquires a
much greater comprehensiveness and freshness; it seems to return to its
source, to retain far more immediacy. But it is one thing to acknowledge
the importance of this, another to make it the essence of life. When
such precedence is given to this Romantic tendency life threatens to
become delicate, feeble, effeminate; it knows no energetic opposition to
the flow of presentations; instead of a definite union it offers
aphoristic thoughts and stimuli; through the lack of logical acuteness
it falls into the direst contradictions; it sacrifices all distinct form
and organisation to a revelling in vague moods. As in such a state of
weakness the spiritual life does not succeed in gaining complete
independence in face of the natural conditions of our existence, so it
does not attain the necessary ascendancy over sense. Sense, in its own
province entirely incontestable, raises doubts in us in that it flows
together with the spiritual, is undifferentiated from it, brings it
under itself, and turns it from its course. And, in this, sense does not
possess the naïve freshness and the natural limitation of its original
state, but it is over-refined and too full of excitement.

To recognise all this clearly is at the same time to acknowledge the
superiority of Activism over all mere Romanticism. However much may
still be lacking in Activism, through the fact that man often regards
the difficult and complicated task as easy and simple, and thus sets too
low an estimate upon the distance between himself and the spiritual
world, there is still the objective necessity of the requirement to
transform our life as far as possible into a state of independence, to
achieve independence in opposition to a world confused and only half
rational. Such a self-determining activity is by no means simply a
matter of subjective disposition; it requires a particular form of life.
In opposition to the desultoriness and change of the life of sense it
needs a powerful unification and organisation. It advances to methods
and laws of the object in contrast to playful caprice; to a logic of the
object in opposition to a persistence in contradiction; to a further
construction of the first impression in contrast to comfortable
complacency; to a courageous continuation and building up of life in
opposition to a complacent acceptance of destiny. It gives to life a
dramatic character in contrast to a lyrical, sentimental one, and along
with this it can acknowledge fully that a genuine drama usually contains
much that is lyrical.

It is detrimental to Activism itself if it takes the problem of life
lightly. It is vital that it should not forget or underestimate the fact
that the effort to solve the problems of life meets with great
difficulties, that the solution costs incalculable trouble and work, and
that even when the best is achieved it is only approximate. When
Activism recognises this fact it may acknowledge a certain validity in
the positions of its opponents and may learn from them. But there is a
harsh contradiction that extends to the innermost basis of life, an
implacable "either--or," whether man simply receives the world and
accompanies it with his own mood, or whether he finds courage and power
to take up a conflict against confusion and irrationality, to co-operate
in the building up of a kingdom of reason. For the latter, the
affirmation of reason in the innermost basis of reality as a whole and
of his own being is necessary. Whether men and times find a way to such
an inner establishment, to such transcendence of all external and
internal limitation, is that which decides the main tendency of their


We intend to make the following section as short as possible, as we have
treated this subject so much in detail in "The Truth of Religion" and
also in "The Struggle for a Concrete Spiritual Experience." We must
refer those who wish for a closer consideration of the subject to those
works: the subject will be treated of here only so far as is necessary
for a representation of life as a whole; a concise statement may have
distinct advantages.


It is a leading idea of our whole investigation, and one which has held
good in every branch of it, that for us men spiritual life is evolved
only in opposition to a world other than spiritual; that reality does
not surround us from the beginning, but forms a high ideal in contrast
to the customary want of purpose and energy in life. The existence of a
world lower than the spiritual, and the late appearance of that which
arises from within as the primary and the all-dominant reality, must
give birth to many questions and much doubt; from early times these
facts have occupied and much disturbed reflective thought. Man might
place the problem on one side without incurring any risk, if the
spiritual life when it comes to the fore assumes the guidance of life
and manifests itself as world-transcendent power--externally, in that it
subordinates to itself and takes up into itself everything else;
internally, in that with certain progress it presses forward in the
human province, wins the whole soul of man, and becomes more and more
his only world. In particular, where the spiritual life is regarded, as
we regard it, as the self-consciousness of reality; where, therefore,
that which apparently stands in opposition to the spiritual life must
ultimately have its basis within it, the demands of the spiritual life
have a coercive power. And so when experiences a thousandfold, new and
old, present a picture which contradicts these demands we must feel the
state of things to be a particularly painful one.

That, however, is what really happens: it is the case in the relation of
the spiritual life to nature, as well as in its relation to humanity; it
happens, therefore, in our whole experience. If the spiritual life
constitutes the fundamental nature of reality; if, in it, reality first
attains to self-consciousness, it is to be expected that when the
spiritual life appeared it would create for itself an independent form
of existence in contrast to that of nature, and would exercise a
superior power in this form of existence, to which nature must
accommodate itself. But, as a fact, this is so far from being the case
that even the attempt to imagine the spiritual in any way leads
immediately to the quixotic. In the experience of humanity the spiritual
life is related in its entirety to a natural basis; in no way does it
seem able to free itself from this, but in all its activity it remains
dependent upon nature. If nature simply follows its own tendencies; if,
indifferent to value and lack of value, without aim and ideal, nature
lives its life of soulless movement, union with an order so alien and
impenetrable must most seriously affect the spiritual life. The world
goes on its course unconcerned with the weal or the woe, the persistence
or the disappearance of spiritual being, of spiritual relations, indeed
of spiritual life in general. Not only do great catastrophes, as in
earthquakes, storms, and floods, show how indifferent the existence or
the non-existence of spiritual life is to the forces of nature, but the
commonplaces of everyday experience and of individual destiny also show
the same indifference. In nature we find no difference of treatment in
accordance with any distinction of good and evil, great and mean, noble
and vulgar. Even the most eminent personality, who may be almost
indispensable to our spiritual welfare, is subject to the same
contingency, the same fate as all others. Regarded from the point of
view of the world of sense, all spiritual life is a chaotic confusion of
fleeting appearances, all of which are dependent; it is not an
independent world, but a subsidiary addition to a world which is other
than spiritual.

Experience of the impotence of the spiritual life in relation to nature
has been the cause of mental disquiet from early times. But this
experience was not necessarily oppressive so long as mankind was called
upon to transform nature into a realm of reason, and so long as there
was hope of accomplishing this. For the contrast with the cold and rigid
external world has deepened the inwardness of human relationship and
made us conscious of the dignity and greatness of spiritual creation. In
culture, humanity has formed a characteristic sphere of life, and in
doing this has aided the spiritual life to attain a certain reality. In
culture, spiritual factors and values win power; and a new order of life
in contrast to that of nature is evolved. It cannot be doubted that a
new reality makes its appearance; but it is an open question whether
this new reality fulfils the hopes which have been placed upon it; and,
further, whether perplexities and confusions, which make it doubtful
whether anything has been gained, do not arise out of its further
development. This question is certainly not answered lightly in the
affirmative by the conviction that regards the spiritual life as a
turning of reality towards its own truth, which therefore in its
development must insist primarily on complete spontaneity and
independence. For, if in culture the spiritual life attains an
independence over against nature, it is at the same time drawn so deeply
into the particularity and limitation of human life, and is associated
so much with the merely human, that culture as a whole is anything but
the unfolding of a realm of pure, or even of only preponderating,

In the first place, the spiritual life does not introduce a definite and
fixed content into our experience, and it does not follow paths
independent of human striving and error; but arises through hard toil
and only slowly finds any unity: in its further endeavour it by no means
follows the same tendency, but effects great changes, indeed
revolutions, into states the exact opposite of its previous states. When
it is so uncertain as to its own aim the spiritual life becomes
seriously involved in the seeking and vacillation, in the needs and
passions, of man: instead of giving to man an immovable support and
pointing out a definite aim for his activity, it seems itself unable to
pass beyond a state of uncertain groping and error.

Corresponding to this uncertainty as to its content, there is a want of
power on the part of the spiritual life within man. Instead of
controlling the conduct of man directly, the spiritual life generally
determines it through that which it contributes towards the attainment
of his aims. If this is so in the case of the individual, it is even
more so in the case of social life, for in it spiritual activity is
regarded chiefly as a means to obtain advantages over others, and to
advance socially. And so that of which it is the nature to be an end
complete in itself is treated as a means to other ends; it is not itself
active, and its own power is not a motive force; but even for its own
maintenance it needs the help and support of things alien to itself: the
artificial mechanism of social organisation must bring forth toilsomely
that which, unless it flows immediately from its source, cannot be fresh
or genuine. Such a state of human affairs remains far below the aims of
the spiritual life; it produces insincerity, a luxuriant growth of
hypocrisy and pretence. For all striving for the true and the good
involves the assertion that the object is desired for its own sake: if
the object really serves the aims of mere man, there inevitably
originates a wide divergence between what is willed and what is alleged
to be willed. In respect of this, one cannot, with the moralists, lay
the blame simply on the will. For, in man, spiritual impulse in general
is insignificant; without the compulsion of the social environment it
would hardly prevail at all against nature. This social compulsion,
therefore, notwithstanding its defects, cannot be dispensed with;
however clearly we may see its inadequacy, we cannot renounce it
altogether. Society cannot exert such coercive power without presenting
itself as the champion of pure reason; without desiring an infallibility
for its decisions. This attitude naturally arouses the opposition of
individuals and a keen struggle ensues, but as one side may be right the
condition of the spiritual life is not much improved by the struggle.

The state of life, uncertain of its aims and inadequate in its means, is
rather a paltry substitute for a realm of reason than such a realm
itself. A noisy and self-conscious agitation, much unrest and
excitement, but little substance and soul; a ceaseless anxiety
concerning the means of life and hurried pursuit of them, and in the
occupation with the means forgetfulness and neglect of life itself; much
self-glorification and ostentation, and little reverence for the
spiritual life--such is social life in general. Where the vanity,
emptiness, and falsehood of the social machinery have come to be clearly
perceived, man has become absolutely wearied and satiated, and has often
fled from society to nature, to seek therein simple truth and enduring
peace. But he could believe it possible to find such in nature only
because he read this truth and peace into it from himself; as,
nevertheless, he must ultimately return to those of the same nature as
himself: thus he remains in a state of vacillation between nature, which
is indifferent to the spiritual life, and humanity, which corrupts the
spiritual life by drawing it down to the level of the narrowly human. If
the spiritual life nowhere attains to pure unfolding and certain effect
within our experience, how can the spiritual life be accepted by us in
this experience as the essence of reality? In the midst of such doubt,
the original suspicions, which may have receded before the hope of the
emergence of a new world, also become felt again--the insignificance of
the external manifestation of the spiritual life in contrast with the
immeasurableness of nature; the late appearance of the spiritual life in
the world-process, and its probable disappearance as a result of the
expected changes in the conditions of nature. Does not everything tend
to give us the impression that the spiritual life signifies no more than
an episode in the world-process; an episode which passes fleetingly, and
does not affect the fundamental nature of reality at all? The necessity
of such a conclusion remains concealed so long as man, in an undeveloped
state of life, is able to fill the world with forms similar to himself,
and to understand the control of nature on an analogy with human
conduct. But the progress of culture and especially the growth of
scientific knowledge have, with irresistible power, taken us beyond that
state; have led us from dream and illusion to a state of complete
alertness. Has not all independence of the spiritual life become
doubtful with this progress of culture and scientific knowledge, and
must we not give up all claim to subject our existence to its
sovereignty, and to determine our life and effort spiritually? For there
cannot be any doubt that, with the spiritual life, the characteristic
organisation of our existence also falls. It may be that we have thought
superficially and confusedly enough to declare something to be in itself
falsehood and deceit, and at the same time to give to it the guidance of
our life.


The previous train of thought may appear to be a plain and
straightforward negation, a complete renunciation of the spiritual life
as the most adequate solution of our problem. But that train of thought
is itself the result of a superficial treatment; every deeper
consideration inevitably contradicts such a summary procedure. A
contradiction of that train of thought is found especially in the fact
which governs the whole course of our investigation, that with the
transition to the spiritual life there appear essentially new magnitudes
and values, new forms and contents of life, which advance beyond not
only the nature but also the capacity of mere man. Whence all these, if
spiritual life is only delusion? The new in us may be never so
powerless; still, the fact that it emerges in our world of thought and
hovers before us as a possibility proves that it has a certain reality
also within us.

Further, is the spiritual life, ultimately, in every sense so powerless
as it at first appears? That it does not pass by as a phantom among our
presentations is shown by the fact that we do not simply receive the
existing condition of things, and its degrading oppression of the
spiritual life, but we feel it to be a cause of harm and of pain to us.
Could we experience this if we belonged entirely to that condition of
things; and is not Hegel right when he says that he who feels a
limitation is already in some way above it? We feel the insufficiency,
the feebleness, the threadbareness of all human morality; could we feel
this if we did not experience a longing for a more genuine morality? And
whence arises this longing in opposition to an entirely different world,
if not from a spirituality implanted within our own being? We perceive
the limitations in our knowledge; a growing insight into all its
conditions and oppositions may lead us in this matter almost to complete
scepticism: but whence came the desire for an inner elucidation of
reality; and how did even the idea of it originate, if we belong
entirely to the darkness of a nature that is less than spiritual, and if
there is no fight at all within us? We feel that the rapid flow of time,
its change and course, its sudden revolutions sometimes even into the
complete opposite of the previous state, is a defect, a source of
serious danger to truth: could we feel this to be so if our whole being
were centred in the passing moment; if we did not survey and compare the
different times; if our being did not participate in something
super-temporal? And lastly, if the feeling that culture is inadequate
and indeed nothing but a pretence is so strong and so painful, then here
again we set ourselves in a position independent of the condition of
things, and judge that condition by a transcendent standard which only
our own being can supply. If all these aims were only invented by man
and applied to life in an external manner, failure to realise them could
not agitate us as it does.

Besides, the matter is not by any means at an end with the feeling of
the inadequacy of our position; a movement in opposition to this
condition is also not lacking. For, as has been seen throughout our
whole treatment, spiritual operation, creative activity is to be found
within human experience. It meets us with especial clearness at the
heights of the work of history; but these also belong to humanity as a
whole, and the light kindled there is not entirely lost in the mist of
the commonplace circumstances of every day. In relation with these
heights of endeavour there is, in humanity as a whole, a movement in
opposition to the tendency of mediocre culture to fill life entirely; a
longing for a more spontaneous, a purer, and a more genuine life. Our
own power of creation may be dormant; only the advent of a strong
suggestion, or a serious convulsion, is necessary and it breaks forth
forcefully, and shows distinctly that there is more spirituality in man
than the circumstances of every day allow us to perceive. The spiritual
movement manifests itself also in private life and in the relation of
individual to individual. He who does not measure spiritual greatness by
physical standards will often find more genuine greatness in the
simplicity of these relations than in the famous deeds of history; and
at the same time he will find that through these relations an effective
presence of the spiritual life within human experience is strengthened.

If in its opposition to human perversion of it genuine spiritual life
does not always reach a definite positive result, the operation of that
life as the law and the judge of human things is all the more distinct.
Man may try to withdraw himself from the spiritual life; he may reject
and mock at that which the age presents to him as an aim; he may seek to
fill his life completely with human interests and inclinations: but he
cannot do this without degenerating into a state of destitution, which
even he himself soon finds to be intolerable, and without being forced,
with the compulsion of necessity, to surrender much which it is
impossible for him to surrender. The catastrophes of history in which
that which has been found insignificant sinks, and that which carries a
spiritual necessity within it rises, careless, as it seems, of the weal
or the woe of man, show in letters of brass that the spiritual life may
not be modified by man at his pleasure, in this way or that, in
accordance with his circumstances and his mood.

When we consider all the facts together, we do not get the impression
that the spiritual life is simply a fleeting illusion that may easily be
banished; but rather, that there are serious complications, out of which
we cannot find our way; and that something occurs within us, something
is begun within us, that is unaffected by mood and caprice, and that
shows us to be in relations much more comprehensive, though obscure in
the highest degree. In particular, for a treatment that starts out from
the life-process, and sees the spiritual movement chiefly in strivings,
collisions, and even in failures, there can be no doubt concerning the
actuality of this movement, the emergence of a new life, and thus of a
new stage of reality in man.

When we recognise the actuality of the spiritual movement the relation
of the spiritual life to nature and to the world is also to be regarded
differently from the manner in which the negative mode of thought
represents it. It is now impossible, as it often happens, more
particularly among philosophising natural scientists, to consider the
representation of nature as a complete representation of reality, and to
leave the spiritual life out of attention as something supplementary and
subsidiary. The spiritual life is now itself acknowledged to be a
reality, and must help to determine the representation of reality as a
whole. Nature must be more than a soulless machine if its evolution is
to lead, as it does, to the point where a self-conscious life emerges.
Within our own experience points of transition are not lacking where
nature produces something that becomes elevated to the spiritual, and
furthers the spiritual life. The difference of the sexes, for example,
is primarily a matter of natural organisation, and what a rich source of
spiritual animation it is! Nothing manifests the union between nature
and the spiritual life more convincingly than the beautiful, when, in
accordance with the result of our investigation, it is regarded as a
characteristic unfolding of the spiritual life, and not as something
which merely fascinates man and is a source of pleasure to him. For how
could the external receive a characteristic soul by being taken up into
the inner life; how could the inward need an external form for its
perfection if the two realms were not united, if a comprehensive reality
did not transcend the antithesis?

Lastly, it should not be forgotten that it is modern science, especially
in its latest phases, with its destruction of the supposed self-evidence
of the sense impression of nature, that has placed the relation of
nature to the spiritual life in a more favourable light than it was
placed by the dogmatic mechanistic theory, which in earlier times seemed
to be the ultimate solution of the problem of their relation. Nature has
again become far more of a problem to us, and we recognise that our
conception of it is a work of the spirit. The old facts of the
connection and interaction of phenomena, of the conformity to law on the
part of occurrences, of the developments of form, and of a progress to
even more artistic complexes and ever finer organisation, once more make
us feel, and far more keenly than before, that they involve difficult
problems. It is more clearly evident to us than it was formerly that
every attempt to make these facts intelligible is made by the spiritual
life and by analogy with the spiritual life. If in such analogy we do
not go beyond symbols, yet the symbols themselves betray a depth and a
secret of reality. At the present time when scientific work is at its
highest stage of development, the shallowness and the rashness of a
radical negation are distinctly recognised.

It is true that for the particular life-problem that we are considering
we have not yet gained much from this recognition; to perceive the
impossibility of an absolute negation does not in itself imply the
victory of a joyful affirmation. For all the perplexities that
previously occupied us still remain, as do the limitation and the
curtailment of the spiritual life which proceeded from these
perplexities; the whole movement also remains in its state of
stagnation. As certainly as on the one hand there is too much of the
spiritual life presented to us to allow of negation, so on the other it
is by no means sufficient for the removal of all doubt.

Mere research can tolerate a state of hesitation between affirmation and
negation; it must often refrain from a decision in the case of special
problems. Life, however, cannot endure any such intermediary position;
for life, such hesitation in arriving at a decision must result in
complete stagnation, and this would help the negation to victory. If
life is faced with an "either--or" the affirmation has a prospect of
victory only if the situation previously described may be in some way
transformed in its favour. This cannot come to pass unless the spiritual
movement can transcend the limitations which appear in human life, and
unless a further development can proceed out of the limitations
themselves. Only such an advance can help the endangered affirmation to
victory. But whether the spiritual movement does transcend these
limitations, not a logical consideration of concepts but only the
experience of life will decide; let us enquire therefore whether life
offers what we seek.


The questions that are given rise to in the consideration of human life
as it is are answered in the affirmative with joyful certainty by the
religions. The religions do this in that they announce to man the help
of a transcendent order; an appearance of divine power and goodness in
the domain of man. But after the far-reaching changes of life and of
conviction that we have experienced, can this confidence still be
justified? And have we a place for this assertion of help from a
transcendent order when we acknowledge the reality of the independent
spiritual life?

Everything of a religious character and even that which is related to it
meets, at least upon the surface, in the present the keenest opposition.
This opposition is aroused in the first place by anthropomorphism--the
indulgence in merely human representations and desires--which is often
found associated with religion. If the essence of religion were
inseparable from such anthropomorphism, the dissolution and submergence
of religion could hardly be prevented. But according to the witness of
history, an energetic conflict against all such mere anthropomorphism
has been carried on within religion itself and, in its highest stages of
development, religion has demanded a complete surrender of everything
narrowly human: anthropomorphism and religion are, therefore, not
absolutely identical. Our investigation, emphasising as it does the
radical distinction between the substance of the spiritual life and its
appropriation by man, counselled us to be cautious in reference to this
matter, and warned us against a hasty rejection of religion.

The essence of religion is still less affected by the charge that modern
natural science in conceiving of the spatial world as infinite leaves no
room for a visible heaven. For, to take such a criticism seriously, we
must not only think of religion as at a primitive stage which, in the
development of its spiritual content, it has overstepped, but we must
also completely ignore the fundamental revolution that modern philosophy
and the whole tendency of modern thought have accomplished in the
representation of the visible world. Modern thought has destroyed the
self-evidence that the naïve man attributed to that representation, by
the experience and the proof that the visible world around us does not
come to us completely as we represent it, but that we form the
representation from our point of view, and under the conditions of our
spiritual nature. Our own activity is embodied in the representation;
and it will depend upon the value of this activity how far the
representation may be accepted as reality as a whole and the ultimate
and absolute world. Now, as in the visible world the spiritual life is
always bound up with something alien and which cannot be completely
transformed by the activity of that life, so every assertion of an
independent spiritual life is a protest against the view that the world
of sense is the only world. But in that, unless the spiritual life is
independent, there is neither science nor culture, the priority of a
world other than that of sense cannot be in any way a matter of doubt to

But a world other than the world of sense is by no means the
transcendent world of religion; such a world as the latter could be
reached only by a continuation of the life-process beyond the position
yet attained; the course of our investigation, however, has left no
uncertainty concerning the direction in which such a world is to be
sought. We saw that the spiritual life could not acquire an independence
without becoming a universal life: only the immediate presence of this
universal life at the individual point arouses and preserves a spiritual
life in it. In spite of this immediate presence of the whole, the life
of man receives its more detailed organisation and development from his
relation to the environment and in the building up of a world; the unity
that exists in the whole reveals itself at first only in relation to the
multiplicity. There is, therefore, still the possibility that a new and
characteristic life should evolve out of an exclusive relation to the
whole; such a life, in contrast to that building up of a world, would
bear a world-transcendent character. This possibility constitutes the
only way of advancing beyond the position hitherto reached.

Now, however much work in the world forms the main part of our life and
asserts itself to be such, yet, as a fact, our life is not taken up
entirely by such work. In the striving of humanity and in the soul of
the individual there is a movement towards a world-transcendent life, a
life that first attains to a complete inwardness when it becomes
world-transcendent. Only such an inwardness offers a firm support, a
spirituality unperverted by the perplexities of the world; but this is
not possible otherwise than by man's gaining participation in a
world-transcendent spiritual life which is purely and absolutely
self-conscious: this life must become man's own life, and spirituality
in this way self-consciously advance towards divinity. This makes it for
the first time intelligible how life, even when it suffers complete
failure in its work in the world, even when the activity exerted upon
the world is completely frustrated, by no means degenerates into a state
of destitution and ruin. For a new task is now revealed to man in his
own attitude to the spiritual life as a whole, a relation which may in
different cases be very different in character, and he may find in the
solution of the task incalculable difficulties. Here activity also
changes its character, since without any external manifestation it can
become complete and purely inward: character can free itself of
everything passive and become fully active; from being a mere
accompaniment it can become an active whole. All this, however, is
possible only if life is directed toward a world-transcendent
spirituality and only by the power of such a spirituality.

As this new kind of life does not make its appearance suddenly, but is
prepared by the whole evolution of spiritual life, which we have
previously considered, so its main individual tendencies are also
related to this evolution. Essential qualities of the spiritual life are
manifested in work in the world, but in this they do not come to pure
formation and victorious establishment: only the elevation to the
world-transcendent self-consciousness makes possible that with which the
spiritual life as a whole cannot well dispense, indeed in which it has
its essential nature. The striving itself, and its arousing and motive
power, could not be explained if the end were not operative within our
life: "Thou wouldst not seek me, if thou hadst not already found me"

The spiritual life in man could have no hope of acquiring truth if it
were not rooted in a life which transcends all error and which in some
way imparts to us this transcendence. If the spiritual life in man did
not know of certain truth sustained at one innermost point, a truth that
exerts a directing power on all human undertaking, and prevents it from
becoming fixed in error, man would lose all confidence in truth in face
of the obscurities and errors of life as they are shown by the work of
culture. Further, for the maintenance of the spiritual life, the
preservation of spontaneity, a possibility of overcoming all restriction
by nature and of defying destiny is absolutely necessary. But in work in
the world this spontaneity is subject to the most severe limitations;
the power of fate surrounds man on all sides: in the natural course of
things even his own work becomes a rigid destiny to him, and chains him
with inexorable necessity. As in the case of the individual, so also in
that of humanity as a whole, life is a gradual narrowing, an ever
further exclusion of original possibilities; and this tendency is
continually felt as an increasing oppression in its opposition to the
freedom of the will and an independent present. How may the spiritual
life be prevented from growing feeble and senile, if new pure beginnings
cannot be produced from a fundamental relation transcending the relation
with the world, if from this fundamental relation a spontaneous life
cannot spring up ever anew? The fact that humanity is able not only to
transform the nature of culture in its particular aspects, but also to
fall into error concerning culture as a whole, without surrendering
itself, is an indication that the life of humanity is not exhausted in
work in the world. The spiritual life must unite in an inner community
all who participate in it; and this is impossible unless the spiritual
life leads man to a point where all walls of partition and all
differences fall away. But spiritual work increases rather than
diminishes these differences; with culture the differentiation of men
also grows. We must sink ever deeper in such differentiation; lose more
and more the possibility of a mutual understanding, of a life and
feeling with one another and for one another, if this movement toward
differentiation does not come into contact with a transcendent power
that counteracts it, if some power does not unite us inwardly. What
other power could this be than the spiritual life itself, and how could
it effect this result otherwise than in the revelation of a
world-transcendent self-conscious life which thus presents itself as an
Absolute? For, then a removal of differences in negative and in positive
matters becomes possible: in negative matters so far as all achievements
in the human sphere, however distant they may be from one another,
appear equally inadequate when they are judged by the standard of an
absolute life: in positive matters so far as the absolute life produces
something at each point transcending all complexity, by which the
movement is freed from its restrictions and resumes its flow, and by the
imparting of which to man in the innermost depth of his being, reveals a
new life in which all may in like manner participate. The possibility of
a finally valid affirmation of life is first attained when this
world-transcendent self-conscious life is acknowledged. Without turning
to the absolute life, life could not withdraw from its perplexities;
suffering and guilt would crush man. With this turning, however, he
acquires, not in his merely human nature, but so far as he is taken up
into the absolute life, part in the perfection, infinity, and eternity
of that life: in the midst of all change and becoming something
immovable is disclosed to him; in the midst of all dependence upon the
world, a sure world-transcendence; in the midst of all darkness and
suffering, a state of incalculable bliss. From the ultimate depths the
Yes triumphs over the No, which, at the first glance, seems so easily
its superior.

This transition derives a power to convince primarily from the union of
the individual tendencies so as to form a vital whole of
world-transcendent inwardness. Such a whole, thoroughly characteristic
in its nature, is never a work of mere man, a product of critical
reflection; it can proceed only from the spiritual life itself. Looked
at from the point of view of that life this whole cannot be regarded as
something later and as something supplementary; but it will be seen that
that which for us first attains complete clearness through suffering and
convulsion must be effective from the beginning, and already exist in
the work upon the world. If, however, it becomes our possession only
when it takes precedence, then the whole prospect of reality must be
altered and deepened, and for us life will be divided into the stages of
the establishing, struggling, triumphing of spirituality.

It is this fact of transcendent spirituality that the religions take up
and develop, and seek to bring near to humanity. The doctrines they
contain are ultimately only the framework or the outward manifestation
of that world-transcendent inwardness; they desire to realise its power
of deliverance and elevation completely. They themselves have their
support and justification in this transcendent spiritual life, and the
precedence of one to the others will be judged by the degree to which in
affirmation and negation they develop this spiritual life in its
world-transcending sovereignty and in its world-penetrating power. From
the point of view of that life, religion as a whole must maintain its
truth and its indispensable nature: where that life is lacking, religion
is simply a delusion, a folly the absurdity of which is hardly
conceivable; but where it is developed religion must pass current as
that which, of all things, is the most certain, as the fundamental axiom
of the whole spiritual life. Between this "either--or" there is no
middle course; historical experience shows that religion has been to
men and ages either the most certain of all things or the one about
which there has been most dispute.

We can now return to the question that led us to this discussion, to the
question of the rationality of our reality. To be sure, even after the
further revelation of the spiritual life, the answer is not so easy as
the adherents of religion often think. For they often believe that with
the acknowledgment of a world-transcendent spirituality, its triumphant
manifestation within our world is immediately assured; and with this
conviction they attempt to present this world as a kingdom of justice,
even if not of love. But all endeavour, however energetic, and all
recourse to subtlety of thought, yield no satisfactory conclusion: at
most, the possibility is reached that that which seems irrational may
acquire some rationality in more comprehensive relations; but even if
that is so, we are not free from irrationality; and those mere
possibilities are far from being equal to counteracting the strong
impression of the reality of evil. Even religion, which would bring
about a transition to the better, is itself deeply involved in this
irrationality; a painful martyrdom has often been imposed upon its
heroes, and its form has continually degenerated in the course of
history through the influence of human error and passion. Since in the
latter the restriction is presented as an opposition to the divine, the
view of the world as it immediately appears is darkened rather than

Nevertheless, through the revelation that the world has a deeper basis,
the perplexity concerning life and reality is essentially changed. Evil
is not removed; the external view of things is not altered; the good is
perhaps strengthened, and, indeed, life in its innermost depth withdrawn
from all power of perplexity and led to a new stage. So far, the
irrationality may appear in another light from this point of view, as
hence the conflicts and the convulsions may themselves be factors which
help life to realise its own ideal and to establish it in the new world.
In history, suffering has been regarded as absolutely irrational, and
has been unconditionally rejected only where man has been regarded as
essentially complete. But if an immense problem is recognised in
suffering, then suffering also, by rousing us to activity and by making
us less inflexible, may acquire a positive value and be of service in
the development of being. This, however, does not give us a theodicy; it
justifies neither philosophy nor religion in trying to act as advocate
for the Deity. To us evil is an insoluble riddle: no formula can make it
intelligible why a powerful and clear reason is implanted in our world
and that at the same time the lower most obstinately asserts itself in
opposition, treats it as a matter of indifference, offers an
insurmountable resistance to it.

Thus we can hardly reach a decision in regard to our last conviction by
way of intellectual consideration; rather, in the decision concerning
the "either--or" which is the question here, our whole being is
involved. On the one side there is the external impression of the world,
the weakness of the good, its perversion into evil, the apparent
indifference of the world-process towards the aims of the spirit, the
apparent futility of all that would advance beyond nature. Can anything
that is aroused within our inner being, and with so much toil finds any
form, arise in opposition to this immeasurable world? This will be
possible only when a movement of the world itself, and not a mere
product of man, is recognised in that which is aroused within man: for
only then will its extension be a matter of complete indifference, and,
however mean an extension it shows in the human sphere, a turning of the
whole would be proved, a revolution of the whole accomplished. Then that
which for us emerges on the edge of our life must nevertheless be
regarded as the sustaining basis and the controlling power of reality as
a whole. Our whole investigation has championed the view that the
turning to the spiritual life implies a movement of the world: wherever
the independence of the spiritual life is acknowledged the supremacy of
reason cannot be doubted.

But it is one thing to acknowledge such a thesis to be necessary,
another to give it the power to convince and impress, without which it
does not leave the realm of phantoms, and does not become a living
power. This is possible only where the spiritual life is taken up as our
own life, and developed as our own life; where, therefore, its
vindication attains to the overwhelming power and the axiomatic
certainty of self-preservation. The centre of reality will be changed
for us only if we change the centre of our own life, and find true
immediacy no longer in sense impression, but in self-determining

The acknowledgment of a self-conscious inwardness, of a
world-transcendent spirituality, together with the recognition of
another kind of world, full of oppositions, must give a characteristic
form to our conception of our reality. Here, a rational solution of the
world-problem is for ever excluded, and the world present to man must be
accepted as a particular kind of reality, which cannot be regarded as
the only and ultimate one. From this point of view the whole life of
humanity must appear to be a mere link in a great chain; an act of a
drama, the course of which we are unable to survey; the fundamental idea
of which, however, glimmers through sufficiently clearly to point out a
direction to our life.

Through the emergence of a world-transcendent inwardness there appear
characteristic tasks and complications, also for the more detailed
development of our life. Unqualified esteem for that inwardness has
often led religions to demand that life should be placed solely and
entirely in that transcendent sphere, in the realm of faith and of
disposition, and to free life as far as possible from the work of the
world; the former life seemed to excel the latter as the divine the
human. But this comparison does not hold good; for the divine is to us
not only a world-transcendent sovereignty but also a world-pervading
power: to honour the former preponderatingly may be the only salvation
for times and individuals in a state of prostration and collapse, and in
this way life would be given a preponderatingly religious character; but
this form of life can never be accepted as the normal one and the one
alone worth striving for. For one thing, that transcendent world, as far
as its contents and tasks are concerned, is presented to us only in
outline; all its more detailed nature must result from the world of our
activity, and must retain a symbolic character. If the connection of the
spiritual world with the empirical world is broken it falls into the
danger of becoming destitute; so that religion may come to be simply a
revelling in feeling; or a devotion, indifferent to all content and
which, therefore, judged by spiritual standards, is worthless. It is by
hard work alone, in relation to men and things, that our life acquires a
spiritual character. Religion does, indeed, elevate life above work, and
give to life its full depth. Still, movement and differentiation must be
included within a vital whole; and the relation to activity which is the
chief factor in life cannot be given up even at its greatest depth. The
high estimate of spirituality may not rightly lead to a mean estimate of
nature, to a conflict with nature such as has been the case in the realm
of religion in the tendency to asceticism. For as certainly as our
acknowledgment of an independent spirituality involves a subordination
of nature, this subordination does not imply a mean estimate, still less
a rejection. Asceticism which appears to be the attainment of a high
level of spiritual life soon leads to an inward degeneration. For in
asceticism the chief task is not the powerful development and courageous
advance of spirituality, but simply a negation and suppression of sense.
Reflection and thought will thus be centred upon just those things
beyond which the spiritual movement wishes to lead. Particular temporary
circumstances may make the tendency to asceticism comprehensible; such
times were over-refined and diseased, and the diseased may not rightly
give to life its rule.

But if, in this way, we oppose a specifically religious or ascetic form
of life we are not prevented from acknowledging the strong and fruitful
influence of a world of transcendent inwardness upon life as a whole.
For its perfect health and breadth, our life needs two tendencies which,
though they directly contradict each other, must, nevertheless, within
us be complementary to each other: it needs an energetic conflict
against all that is irrational, and at the same time to be elevated into
a sphere in which everything is rational, into a realm of peace and
perfection. Within the spiritual life itself, tasks are given their form
and are estimated on the one hand from the human point of view, and on
the other from an ultimate, one might say an absolute, view of things.
The significance of this distinction is to be seen most clearly in
history, and, perhaps, in the contrast between the Greek and the
Christian character. The former places man in the midst of the world,
and requires him energetically to take up the struggle for the cause of
rationality and decisively to reject the irrational. Suffering and pain
were to be avoided; man was never to submit to them. Courage appeared to
be the chief quality of this form of life, and in relation to others
justice was its determining idea. But if this idea demands that each
should receive according to his achievement, then the higher and the
lower, the noble and the common, must be distinctly separated and never
allowed to be confused. That the noble form a small minority, and that
history hardly promises any change in this matter, is a fact that has
not escaped perception; and the permanence of the antithesis of an
esoteric and an exoteric form, therefore, appears to be inevitable. The
difference that exists is regarded as due primarily to nature, not to
free decision. To make nature completely active, and to unify that which
it offers in a scattered and an unsystematic manner, appears to be our
whole life-work.

The result, therefore, is a powerful, active, self-conscious life, which
not only affects us by its results but to which we must assign a
permanent significance. But as the only and exclusive form of life, it
involves great restrictions and rigour; its limitations may remain
hidden in days of joyful creative activity and in the highest circles of
society, but they must be keenly felt if life falls into a condition of
stagnation, and man, as man, asks questions with regard to the
happiness of life. This destiny may then become an intolerable
compulsion; mere courage, an over-exertion of human power; mere justice,
severity and unmercifulness; the sharp distinction between men, an
actual separation, which tends on the one side to proud haughtiness and
on the other to doubt and depression. A keen perception of such
limitations and dangers must necessarily force life into new paths.

The counter movement has won the victory in Christianity, which makes
not work in the world but the relation to a world-transcendent spiritual
life the chief thing. Man does not in the first place trust a nature
that safely leads him but at the same time limits him; but his nature
seems full of problems, and to need a complete transformation, which
only a miracle of grace can accomplish. Men are not regarded as being
separated by fixed differences, but in comparison with the divine
perfection all differences vanish, and from the relation to God the
feeling of equality and brotherhood is evolved. Thought of in relation
to the requirement of a pure inwardness of the whole being, differences
in achievement are totally insignificant: justice gives place to an
infinite love that dispels all harshness, makes all differences
consistent and harmonious, and tolerates no feeling of hostility.

The antithesis of a nature which is operative within the world and which
elevates above the world must permeate life as a whole and must give
rise to opposite tendencies in every part of life. On the one hand,
there is a distinct formation in finite relations, an insistence upon
plastic organisation and complete consciousness of life; on the other,
an aspiration towards the infinite, a more submissive faith, a more
unrestrained disposition, a higher estimate of the naïve and the
childlike. In the former, man, full of confidence in his own power,
himself produces a rationality of reality, and disdains all aids alien
to himself; in the latter, life is sustained by a trust in an infinite
good and power which, in a way transcending the capacity of man, guides
to the attainment of the best; in short, as a whole and in its
individual aspects each is a fundamentally different type of life from
the other.

The type of life advocated by Christianity has resulted in a great
deepening of life; it cannot possibly be given up again in favour of an
earlier type. But this Christian type also does not suffice for the
moulding of life as a whole. Most severe complications would ensue if
the position of Christianity were taken up as an ultimate conclusion and
an absolute evaluation in the conditions which at present exist, and its
principles without further consideration were applied to our life as a
whole. The annulling of all differences, even of spiritual capacity; the
displacement of justice through pity; the cessation of the conflict
against evil; the low estimate of man's own power, would all endanger
most severely the rational character of life; an adoption of this type
of life in its entirety would lead to the discontinuance of the work of
culture; in particular, it is inconsistent with any kind of political
organisation. Finite conditions are not to be judged by infinite
standards; and we men are, after all, in the finite and remain so.

And so, from the earliest times since Christianity, from being merely
one of opposing systems, became the dominant power, compromises have
been sought. The system of the development of power and of justice has
nevertheless asserted its influence, and though Christianity has had an
external supremacy, this system has forced characteristically Christian
life to be regarded as a matter of mere subjective disposition and of
private life. But as such compromises do not fully and truly express
spiritual necessity, they easily lead to falsity. To rise above this
tendency to make such compromises, the acknowledgment of the right and
of the limits of each type, the acknowledgment of the necessity of both
within a comprehensive whole, is necessary. Such a whole and along with
it a common ground, upon which the movements meet together, and can
strive to understand one another, is given to us by the spiritual life,
acknowledged in its independence. It is not for us to force our life
into a finished scheme, but to develop fully and to acknowledge the
movements and oppositions which exist in our life. True, life will ever
remain unfinished, but can we wish to make it more complete than it can
be, and can the incompleteness cause us anxiety, when we are sure of its
main direction?




_Introductory Considerations_

With a consideration of the present we set out: to the present we now
return. The convictions at which we have arrived, and which have led us
to a characteristic philosophy of life, must now be considered in
relation to the needs of the present; we must see whether this
philosophy proves to be true in this connection, and this by its own
development, as well as by the simplification of the condition of a
time, which, as it is immediately experienced, is confused in the
highest degree.

But, at the outset of our treatment of this problem, we perceive how
difficult it is for the acknowledgment of an independent spirituality to
determine our relation to the temporal environment; we see how this
acknowledgment transforms that relation into a problem. The conception
of the "present" is by no means simple and certain, even as far as its
external boundary is concerned. The mere to-day is obviously too short a
period to constitute the present; but how much is to be added and where
must it cease in order that we may have a genuine present? True, the
present must involve a characteristic content that associates the
moments and unites them so as to produce a common effect; but does our
time give us such a content? The first glance at the state of life in
our time reveals a chaotic confusion, which includes the most diverse
endeavours, now in passionate union, now in complete indifference to one
another, and yet again in harsh hostility; further, there is a constant
displacement of the individual elements by a process of elevation and of
degradation. Even if something common and permanent is operative in the
present, its close amalgamation with this change and movement prevents
it from being purely developed: the truth contained in the present state
of life is inseparably mixed with human error and passion.

And yet this is not an experience simply of the present, but one common
to all ages. For fundamental spiritual creation has always been effected
in the direst contradiction to the social environment. What harsh
judgments, and judgments that set its value at nil, have been passed
upon society with regard to its capacity not only in religion but also
in philosophy and art! How severe a conflict has been carried on in all
departments of life against the presumption of society! The present,
especially, is troubled by these problems, because, as has become
evident to us from the beginning of our investigation, it carries within
it movements of a diverse and contradictory nature, so that it can
hardly produce a consistent impression of the whole, still less attain
to a definite character. Human interests and parties seek with all their
energy to impress upon the time their own character; they call that
modern which is useful to and in harmony with themselves. The most
diverse tendencies cross one another; experiences in particular
departments of life determine the conception of the whole; the different
classes of society follow different courses in accordance with their
different interests; much that is accidental is regarded as vital and is
allowed to influence us: the extreme has the advantage of being able to
make an impression upon us; and the superficial and the negative creep
into favour through the easiness of the conclusion presented by them: in
short, in this state of the time, that which arises in human opinion is
incapable of offering to spiritual endeavour a secure support and an
orientation concerning its aims.

This uncertainty cannot be removed by turning our attention to history,
by taking an interest in past ages. For, with whatever clearness a
highly developed science of history may present the whole course of the
ages to us, to believe that our own life is enriched and made more
stable by this, we must confuse knowledge and life, the mere present
representation of earlier times and the appropriation of them by our own
activity--a danger into which the purely academic mode of thought easily
falls. The power and the tendency of life in the present determine the
nature of our appropriation of the past and of its transformation in
self-determining activity. If this life stagnates, then we are helpless
in face of the stream of earlier systems of thought. Even if these
systems attract us to themselves, and carry us with them for a time,
finally they will manifest their antitheses and throw us back again upon
ourselves: we cannot escape from ourselves; we can never find a
substitute from outside for want of conviction and power of our own. It
is a fundamental error, not, indeed, of historical research but of a
feeble historical relativism, to expect us to form a conviction of our
own by concerning ourselves with the past; and to think that the later
stage in history proceeds from the earlier as a self-evident final
result. By taking such an attitude to the past we should only fall into
the half-will and half-life common to an age of decadence. If the
present is thus uncertain in the heart of its spiritual nature, and it
is not possible to escape from this uncertainty by resorting to the
past, it may appear to be essential that we should be completely
delivered from the tyranny of time, and that we should take up an
attitude of entire unconcern of its affirmation and its negation of
spiritual endeavour.

But a rejection of the immediate relation to time by no means settles
the matter. If spiritual work were completely dissociated from the
temporal environment and the historical movement, it would be dependent
solely upon the capacity of the mere individual and upon the passing
moment; all relation, all community of work, would thus be given up, and
the performance of others could not be anything to us, nor our
achievement anything to others; there would be no inner building up of
life, and no hope of reaching greater depths. Not only is it impossible
to abandon such aims, but our experience of spiritual work itself
contradicts the disintegration of life into nothing but isolated
points. If all spiritual creation is effected in contradiction to time,
what is denied in this contradiction is rather that which lies upon the
surface of time than that which is deeper; rather human accommodation to
than the spiritual content of time. All who believe that distinctive
human history is sustained by the activity of a spiritual life will
attribute to time such a spiritual content.

Every age, therefore, in virtue of the presence of this spiritual life,
will contain characteristic spiritual motives, movements, and demands,
and will be especially qualified to convey certain contents to man, to
open up certain experiences to him, and to point out certain directions.
All these must be appropriated by anyone who wishes to transcend the
original state of emptiness, and to advance to spiritual creation and to
a spiritual fashioning of life. In consequence of this a more friendly
attitude may be taken up towards time; and we shall be far more grateful
to it--though perhaps not with explicit consciousness, perhaps even in
contradiction to definite purpose--than we could ever be with regard to
the experiences on the surface of time. However low, for example, the
estimate Plato may have formed of "the many" around him; and though with
the whole passion of his soul he may have insisted upon a transformation
of the immediate condition of life, what he offered of his own and the
new that he required, with all its originality and uniqueness,
contradicts neither the natural spirit of the Greek nor the contemporary
Greek culture: Plato can be regarded only as a Greek of a particular
time. His conflict with the time is not the conflict of an incomparable
individuality with his environment, but a selection and a unification of
the possibilities existing in time; it is an arousing to life of the
deeper realities of time against its superficialities, of spiritual
necessities in opposition to the conduct and interests of men. In this
manner the great man also is a child of his age, and is unintelligible
out of relation to it. Could one think of Goethe as living in the Middle
Ages, or of Augustine as living in the age of the Enlightenment?
Indeed, we may carry our contention further, and say that the great has
been just that which has had the closest relation with the time; and
that it has reached a permanent significance, just because it expressed
the unique nature and the inner longing of the time, that which was
incomparable and inderivable in it. That which has been able to work
permanently beyond the time in which it made its appearance was born not
from a timeless consideration of things, but from the deepest feeling of
the needs of the time; only thus can we escape from the feeling of
unreality which otherwise accompanies the striving after spirituality.
This consideration must commend to spiritual work the closest possible
relation with the time, and the spiritual life may hope for an essential
advance of its own striving as a result of this relation.

Still, the matter is not so simple as it is often thought to be. The
spiritual content of the ages is not a complete fact that permeates life
with a sure and definite effect, so that it could be taken up by
activity. Rather, that which is great and characteristic in the ages is
found only in creative spiritual activity, abstracted from which it is
no more than a possibility; a suggestion that is inevitably lost, if an
advancing spiritual activity is lacking. Spiritual creation is not a
mere copy, an employment of an existent time-character. Rather, time
first attains a spiritual character through spiritual activity, and by
spiritual creation possibility first becomes complete reality. This
spiritual creation is not simply a summation but a potentialisation, an
essential elevation of that which exists in time. Without this activity
the spiritual elements in time remain merely coexistent, and have no
living unity; they realise no life of the whole, no being within the
activity, nothing that means to us development of being. Temporal life
then remains only a half-life, a life of pretence; it lacks complete
self-consciousness and true stability and joy, and at the same time it
lacks a genuine present. To attain such a present thus appears to be a
difficult task, the performance of which is not so much presupposed by
the different branches of spiritual life as is an object of their work.
Art, for example, is rightly required to express the feeling of the life
of the time; yet it does not find such a feeling of life already
existent, but it must first wrest it from the chaos of the general
condition of life. Art is great in giving to the time that which it did
not already possess, but which is, nevertheless, necessary to the
complete reality of its life. Spiritual work, therefore, is not
something just added in time, but that which first gives to time a
genuine life and a genuine present. This task may be achieved with quite
different degrees of success; it is not all times that reach this
elevation and attain to a genuine present; those that do so we call
great and "classical" times. The general state of our life--which,
however, does not imply time as a whole--appears from this point of view
to be especially afflicted with the defect and fault of insincerity; our
age does not so much live a life of its own as a strange life; and yet
this life is represented as being a life of our own. And it is
especially so in our own time, when along with a state of division in
our own purposes we are inundated by systems of thought alien to us. We
are thus in danger of becoming half-hearted and living a life of
pretence: in religion we assert the profession of faith and the feelings
of times long gone by to be our own conviction and feelings; we build
our cathedrals in styles that correspond to another spiritual condition
and another tendency of life; in philosophy we hang upon systems and
problems of other times; in everything we lack sincerity. But why is
this so, and why do we renounce all claim to a life in accordance with
our own nature? Certainly not because our time lacks problems and tasks
of its own, or because it is deficient in spiritual possibilities and
necessities; for, of these there is an abundance; in this matter our
time is not behind any other. But there predominates a wrong relation
between these tasks and the central power of the spiritual life, which
is equal to cope with them and out of the possibilities create a

In any case spiritual work has a great deal to do with the time; and in
regard to this it finds itself in no simple situation. Spiritual work
must acknowledge a given condition, which it cannot alter to suit its
own preferences; but it can make something else out of this condition
and also see something else in it than immediately meets the eye. The
possibilities of a time are revealed only in spiritual work, and through
it alone are they separated from the human additions that usually
overgrow them. These possibilities cannot become clearly evident, unless
a close relation to history is won: they are not suggestions simply of
the moment, for they have been prepared by the whole work of history.
History acquires quite a different--a far more positive--meaning when
the spiritual life is acknowledged to be independent, and when it is
admitted that spiritual life is not just the embellishment of a reality
other than spiritual, but the formation of the only genuine and
substantial reality, the transition to a self-consciousness of life.
For, as such a formation of reality, this creative activity extends
beyond the particular time in which it originates, and becomes part of a
time-transcending present. True, this activity always appears in a
garment that seems simply temporary; but this garment does not
constitute its being: the imperishable in it, its fundamental life,
remains inwardly near and present even after great changes of temporal
condition; and within the sphere of spiritual work is always capable of
new effect.

Christianity, for example, in spite of the attacks that are and have
been made upon it, still asserts itself as a living power. Yet there
cannot be the slightest doubt that in everything that lies on the
surface of our life we are as far as possible removed from the centuries
of its formation; that not only the view of the world but also the tasks
of life and the nature of feeling and disposition have become radically
different. But life is not exhausted in these activities on the surface,
which must be regarded as external manifestations that proceed from an
inner unity. That which these centuries have performed for the essence
of life: the realisation of a freedom of spiritual inwardness, the
acknowledgment of an independent spiritual world with great aims and
tasks, may, indeed, become obscured for the consciousness of individuals
and of whole periods; it remains, however, an essential part, a
presupposition of all further spiritual life.

As in this manner in the case of Christianity, spiritual reality has
also been evolved otherwise in some creative epochs; and in the movement
of history they have all together produced a certain condition of
spiritual evolution which constitutes the invisible basis of our own
activity, and from which it is first possible to elucidate the spiritual
nature of a particular time. This universal, historical state of
spiritual evolution indicates a level, to which must correspond all
work, which desires not simply to attain the aim of the moment but also
to serve in the building up of a spiritual reality within the domain of
humanity. This historical condition of the spiritual life is not
conferred upon us by history; rather history only mediates an incentive
that must first be transformed by our own activity and conviction. Only
a mode of thought which transcends the movement of history can recognise
a spiritual content in history and in our own time, and use this content
for our own striving.

Spiritual work, therefore, and philosophy as part of it, has a twofold
relation to time, a negative and a positive: it must possess an
independence of time, and it must seek an intimate relation with it. The
"modern," according to the sense in which it is taken, will arouse us at
one time to energetic opposition, at another to the closest intimacy;
the former when it desires to subject us to the contemporary conditions
with all their contingency, the latter when it champions the spiritual
possibilities of the time and the state of spiritual evolution in
contrast with the human. We are concerned in a conflict for genuine
against false time; we are to distinguish clearly between the merely
human and the spiritual present; the spiritual life must first give a
genuine reality to time, and in doing this must advance in itself.

Every particular philosophic conviction must justify itself in its
treatment of this problem; it must be in a position to wrest the truth
from the error in time; to understand and to estimate the endeavour of
the time without yielding to it; to comprehend as a whole the manifold
elements of truth in the life of the present, and to elucidate them from
a transcendent unity. Without doubt great problems and fruitful
possibilities exist in the time, but we often feel the most painful
contrast between their demands and the achievements of man. To diminish
this divergence; for the time to attain more to its own perfection and
become a genuine present, is an urgent task in the performance of which
philosophy also must co-operate; and by this endeavour philosophy can
also gain much for itself.



The term "culture" received its present meaning in the latter half of
the eighteenth century; culture itself reaches back to the beginning of
the Modern Age. The whole evolution of the Modern Age is a striving
beyond the religious form of life which prevailed in the Middle Ages,
and which began to be felt to be narrow and one-sided. In opposition to
this type of life a new type arose, increased in strength, and finally
we became fully conscious of it in the idea of culture. The new type has
been felt to be far superior to the old in many ways; it is not limited
to one side of human nature, but desires to take it, and to develop it
as a whole; it does not refer man to any kind of external aid, but makes
his life depend as much as possible upon his own power, and finds an aim
fully sufficient in the limitless extension of this power; it directs
man's perception and endeavour not so much beyond the world as to it,
and hopes by this means to give a stability to his striving, and a close
relation with the abundance of things. The movement has brought about a
far-reaching transformation of life: that which was lying dormant has
been aroused; the rigid made plastic; the manifold woven into a whole of
life; the whole range of life has acquired more spontaneous freshness
and inner movement. The result of the work of history now becomes for
the first time a complete possession, since above everything contingent
and accidental it elevates an essential, and above everything tending to
separation and hostility, a common humanity.

The animating and ennobling influence of modern culture is nowhere more
manifest than in the life-work of Goethe. For we recognise the greatness
of his nature primarily in that, with the acutest vision and the
greatest freedom, he entered into the multiplicity of experience and
events; with placid yet powerful dominance stripped off all that was
mere semblance and pretence, all that was simply conventional and
partial, and fully realised the genuine, the freshness of life, and the
purely human. (_V._ "The Problem of Human Life.") His treatment of
Biblical narratives is a good example of this: that a king reigned in
Egypt who knew not Joseph suggests to him how quickly even the most
magnificent human achievements are forgotten; that Saul went forth to
find his father's she-asses, and found a kingdom, symbolises to him the
truth that we men often reach something totally different from, and also
much better than, that for which we strove and hoped; the miracle of the
walking on the water is to him a parable of unflinching faith--the
holding fast to apparent impossibilities--without which there can be no
great creation.

If, with this achievement, modern culture may have the feeling of being
the fulfilment of the strivings of the ages, yet its own course has
produced oppositions, and engendered perplexities that culminate in a
dangerous crisis. Culture, as it was represented at the height of German
spiritual life, was directed chiefly towards the inner development of
man; it was called with especial satisfaction "spiritual culture." Its
adherents were concerned not so much with finding a better relation to
the environment as with growing in the realm of their own soul, and with
employing whatever the experience of life brought in the development of
a self-conscious personality, of pure inwardness. Only in this way did
they seem to advance from the previous state of limitation to the
complete breadth of existence, and the exercise of all their powers. A
joy in life, a firm confidence in the rationality of reality gave this
inner culture a soul; and a bold flight bore it far above the narrowness
and heaviness of daily life; æsthetic literary creation became the
chief sphere of its work, and the chief means for the development and
self-perfecting of personality.

Inner culture has by no means vanished from our life; effects of many
kinds are felt from it in the present. But it has been forced to resign
its supremacy in favour of a realistic culture, which makes the relation
to the environment the chief matter, and removes the centre of life to
the intellectual and practical control of this environment. In realistic
culture the inner development of work, of work in the direction of
natural science and technical art, as well as in politics and social
endeavour, is less occupied with the acquiring of a powerful
individuality than with the establishment of an agreeable condition of
society as a whole. Since activity is related more and more closely with
things, and receives laws and directions from them, culture is freed
from dependence upon man and his subjectivity. Culture is an impersonal
power in contrast with man; it does not lead ultimately to a good to him
so much as make him simply a means and an instrument of its progressive
movement. An immeasurable structure of life, a ceaseless self-assertion
and self-advancement, an arousing and an exertion of all powers that can
bring man into relation with the environment, are manifest in this
culture: but at the same time there is an increasing transformation of
our life into a mere life of relation and mediation, a deprivation and a
vanishing of self-consciousness. In the midst of the magnificent
triumphs in external matters there is an increasingly perceptible
contrast between an astonishing development of the technical, and a
pitiful neglect of the personal side of life: in regard to the former we
surpass all other times, as much as we fall below most in regard to the
latter. Along with a ceaseless increase of technical capacity, there is
a rapid degeneration of personal life, a pauperising of the soul. Where
the matter is one of a technical nature there is a magnificent
condition, definite progress in all departments, work conscious of its
aim; but there is a painful groping and helpless hesitation, a
stagnation of production, an emptiness that is only just hidden by a
veneer of academic education, where powerful personalities and
impressive individualities are required.

For a time we were carried away entirely by the tendency to place our
attention solely upon the environment, and we seemed to be satisfied
absolutely by it. But the inner life that has been evolved within human
experience by the work of thousands of years, and through severe
convulsions, prevents this condition being accepted as a conclusion;
that which has once become an independent centre cannot possibly permit
itself to be degraded to the position of a mere means and an instrument.
It is impossible to give up all claim to self-conscious and
self-determining life and a satisfaction of this life. Our spiritual
nature compels us to ask questions and to make claims; if they are not
satisfied, then, notwithstanding all the wealth of experiences, the
feeling of poverty spreads and we seek for aids, and, first, we turn
back to that inner culture from which we had turned away. But we find
the ways shut off; a direct return is impossible. This culture had
characteristic principles and presuppositions; and the course of modern
life itself has, if not overthrown them, involved them in serious doubt.
We have become clearly conscious of the limitations which this inner
culture had without itself feeling them; movements which it united have
now separated, and have become hostile. Inner culture rested on a firm
faith in the power of reason in reality, and this faith begot a joyful
confidence. For it the world was sustained and determined by inner
forces: we feel the rigid actuality of occurrences, the indifference of
the machinery of the world towards the aims of the spirit, and the
contradictions of existence. In the former case the greatness of man was
the predominant faith; and this greatness was sought in his freedom: we,
however, feel much more our bondage to obscure powers and at the same
time our insignificance. In the former again, it aroused no opposition
to call only a chosen part of humanity, the creative, to full and
complete life, and to assign a most meagre portion to the majority: we
cannot possibly renounce the concern for all mankind and for the
welfare of every individual. In the former, morality and art were
harmoniously united in the ideal of life; in our time they have
separated and are at deadly enmity with one another. Everywhere life has
given rise to more problems, more inconsistencies, more obscurities;
thus, with all its external proximity, the joyfully secure ideal of life
of our classical writers is inwardly removed far from us; without
insincerity we cannot proclaim it to be our profession of faith. In
particular the resort to Goethe, as to one with a secure standard of
life, is in general no more than an expression of perplexity, no more
than a flight from a clear decision of our own: the universality and the
flexibility of his spirit permit a point of contact with him to be found
by those whose views directly contradict those of one another, and
allows each to abstract, and make a profession of faith of that which is
preferable and pleasing to himself.

Thus to-day we are in a state of uncertainty and indefiniteness in
reference to the problem of culture. Since the new does not suffice, and
the old cannot be taken up again, we are in doubt with regard to the
whole conception of culture; we know neither what we have of it nor what
it demands from us. We cannot give up our claim to being something more
than nature, without sinking again to the level of the mere animal; but
in what this "more" consists and how it is at all possible to surpass
nature is to us completely obscure. A developed historical consciousness
and the free unfolding of the powers of the present permit many things
to rush in upon us; and we are involved in much inconsistency. We have
seen diverse systems of life arise and attract man to themselves; their
conflict relegates to the background all that is common to them,
produces the greatest uncertainty, and gives rise to the inclination, in
order to avoid all perplexities, to regard life as being made up
entirely of that which occurs within sense experience; and to acquire
aims from this experience, as well as to derive powers from it. But in
this we fall into the danger of idealising sense experience falsely,
and of expecting achievements from movements within it which are
possible only if these movements flow from deeper sources. We flee to
morality to become free from all religion and metaphysics; as though
morality, elevating man, as it does, above simply physical preservation
and the compulsion of mere instinct, is not itself a metaphysic, and as
though it does not of necessity require the existence of an order
superior to nature. Then we flee to the subject with its unrestrained
inwardness and contrast this inwardness with all the restricting
relations of life; as though the subject had any content and any value
without an independent inner world, the recognition of which involves a
complete revolution of the representation of reality; as then according
to the witness of history also humanity has reached such an inner world
only through wearisome toil and forceful resolutions. The whole course
of Antiquity had been leading up to this inner world, but the collision
of Antiquity at the time of its decay, with Christianity which was then
arising, first developed it clearly. Such an inner world must ever be
justified anew; and for this our own activity and conviction are
necessary. If we surrender its basis, it becomes dead capital which,
little by little, is inevitably spent, and then the appeal to the
subject that has lost its spiritual content is but a mere semblance of
help, which deceives us concerning the seriousness of the situation with
sweet-sounding words like "personality," "individuality," and so forth.
If the spiritual life is not strengthened and does not energetically
counteract this tendency, then, notwithstanding all external progress,
we must inwardly sink lower and lower.

It is obvious that there is already such a counteraction in existence;
otherwise, how could spiritual destitution and the insignificance of the
merely human be so keenly felt in the present; how could so ardent a
desire for an inner elevation spread amongst men as we experience it
around us? There is no lack of attempts and endeavours after new aims
and new ways. But much is still lacking for these attempts to be equal
to satisfy the requirements of the matter. We place far too much hope
in external reforms, instead of primarily strengthening the inner basis
of life; we fix our attention far too much upon individual tasks instead
of seizing the whole; we have far too much faith that we can rise to a
new life out of this chaotic condition, instead of insisting upon an
attainment of independence in relation to this condition.

How could independence be attained except by an energetic reflection of
man upon himself, upon his fundamental relation to reality, upon the
life dwelling in him, in short, except by self-consciousness? It is not
the first time that, in the course of the ages, to satisfy such a demand
has become the most urgent of all tasks. The work of history has not
unshakable foundations from the beginning; but the spiritual nature of
epochs always involves the activity and the decisions of man; it
involves, therefore, presuppositions that for a long period may be
accepted as established truths, and which, yet, finally become
problematic. At the beginning of the Modern Age, especially in the
transition to the Enlightenment, apparently established truths became
problematic in this way: the present is in a similar situation. The
threads that we have hitherto followed break; all external help is
rejected, as is also the authority of history; nothing else remains to
us than our own capacity, and the hope to find in it a new support and
the basis for a new construction. Only by our own power, and after a
break with the immediate present, shall we be able to strive after a new
idea of culture which corresponds to the historical position of
spiritual evolution, and which can take up into itself the experiences
of humanity. Such times of error, of vacillation, of searching, of
necessary renewal, are disagreeable and severe, but it depends only on
the summoning of spiritual power whether they become great and fruitful.
For, with regard to these central questions the times do not make men,
but men make the times, not, of course, in accordance with their own
preferences, but by seizing and realising the necessities that exist in
the spiritual condition of the time.

Now, as scarcely anything else in life is more called upon to co-operate
in the renewing of culture than philosophy, so the system here concisely
presented is placed in the service of this task; it attempts a
construction chiefly by the union of three demands and points of attack:
it requires a more energetic development and a complete unification of
the life-process; it requires the acknowledgment and development of a
spiritual life of independent nature present to us; and lastly, it
requires that this life shall be understood and treated as the world's
consciousness of itself and thus as the only reality. All these demands
must tend towards an essential alteration of the existent state of
culture; they make much inadequate that previously sufficed; but they
also reveal an abundance of new prospects and the possibility of a
thorough inner elevation.

It is a leading idea of our whole investigation that only from the
life-process itself are we able to orientate ourselves in relation to
ourselves and the world; and this idea is in agreement with the present
mode of thought in science. But to apply to our own time that which is
already acknowledged in general ideas is by no means simple. To give the
life-process such a position in our thought and to estimate it so highly
is possible only when life is distinctly distinguished from the states
of the mere subject, from the mere reflex of the environment in the
individual. This detachment cannot be accomplished unless we comprehend
as a whole that which exists in individual manifestations of life;
distinguish different levels in life, indicate relations and movements
within them, and thus advance to new experiences of life; reveal a union
of fact, a distinctive synthesis in life, which from a transcendent
unity shapes the multiplicity that it contains. But if in general it is
difficult to free ourselves so much from the condition of life in which
we find ourselves, to be able to illuminate this condition in this way,
and to throw its inner framework into relief; for us there is also to be
added the immeasurable expansion that directs the interests and the
vision to the outside, and is accustomed to treat, as a mere supplement,
a mere means and instrument, the life that in reality sustains all
infinity. A culture that has made the attainment of results the chief
thing has been detrimental to the spiritual, which no longer trusts
itself to encompass these achievements and to change them in a
development of life, to take up the conflict for dominion over reality.
It willingly flees to the passivity of the subject, where sooner or
later it expires in complete destitution.

If inwardness is so feeble and external relations so overwhelm us, life
necessarily receives its content from outside, and seems to be
determined essentially by that which happens around us. It is this that
lends so much power to-day to a superficial enlightenment that centres
in natural science, and expects life to be advanced without limit, and
man to be revived and ennobled, simply by reaching a more valid
representation of the environment. We do not ask here how far the
representations proposed overcome the difficulties of the older
representations, or whether new and more difficult problems do not arise
from the solutions offered; but we do ask whether life can obtain its
aim and content from outside, and whether it can be treated simply as an
addition to nature without degenerating inwardly, and losing all inner
motive. We ask what the theories based chiefly on externals make of man,
and what they achieve for his soul. We summon him to an examination, to
see whether the picture that is held up to him by these theories agrees
with what he longs for, and, by a compelling necessity of his being,
must long for.

To-day it will also be evident that the final decision does not rest
with the intellect, but with life as a whole. For, little as
intellectual achievement is absent from truth, the masses--and to the
masses belong those at the average level of all classes, higher as well
as lower--will always hold fast to the external impression. The advance
beyond this impression and the appreciation of the inner conditions of
knowledge will always remain a concern of the minority. There is,
however, a point where the problem becomes real to each individual, and
where each can offer his opinion: this is in reference to the question
of the happiness and the content of life. The more this question is
felt, the greater will be the thirst for a substantial truth in contrast
with the shadows of the Enlightenment; the more will the question
concerning the nature of life as a whole receive its due consideration,
and the perception of things externally will give place to a
comprehension of their inner reality. Only with such a revolution can
our life and we ourselves be transformed from a state of spiritual
destitution to one of independent energy; only thus can we discover the
wealth that is within us; only thus can culture, from being an
occupation with things, become a preservation and an unfolding of our
own selves; only thus can we strive for more simplicity in contrast to
the complexity that would otherwise be our condition; and only thus can
we wrest from what would otherwise be chaos, fundamentals and
tendencies. Our demand, therefore, that the starting-point should be the
life-process itself is in harmony with the innermost longing of the
time--even if this longing is often indefinite--after a deepening of
life and an attainment of its independence.

If the turning to the life-process puts the question, the assertion of
an independent spiritual life gives the answer to it: however strange
this assertion may seem in relation to superficial temporal experience,
it meets a deep longing. For we are completely satiated with narrowly
human culture; the movements and experiences of the Modern Age, and in
particular of the present, make us so clearly conscious of all that is
trivial, simply apparent, disagreeable, feeble, shallow, empty, and
futile in human conduct, that all hope of finding satisfaction in this
conduct, and of advancing life essentially by its means and powers, must
be abandoned. We have, therefore, to face the following alternative:
either absolute doubt and the cessation of all effort, or the
acknowledgment of a "more" in man; there is no third possibility. But in
the context of our investigation no discussion is required to show that
this "more" cannot consist in an individual's elevation of himself above
others; that it cannot consist in a so-called Superman--a view that
only involves us more in the narrowly human. Either the "more" sought
for is only imaginary, a covering of tinsel with which we conceal our
nakedness, or a world transcending the merely human, a new stage of
reality, reveals itself to man, which can become his own life. As it is
this transcendent world alone that engenders a universal life within us
and opposes the insignificantly human; so also from this alone, and as
its manifestation, can culture become independent in relation to man.
Only when it is understood in this way can culture include aims and
tasks that do not strengthen man in his narrowness, but free him from
it, and make him spiritually greater.

Not only the conception but the whole nature of that which is called
culture is an unstable hybrid. It should elevate man above nature, and
give to his life a characteristic spiritual content; but at the same
time we have a dread of a detachment from the experience of sense and of
the construction of an independent world, because these must lead to
that which, of all things, is the cause of most alarm, to a change of a
metaphysical character, to a transformation of existence. In truth, in
the work of humanity two tendencies are usually undistinguished, which,
if life is to continue to advance, need to be distinctly separated: a
spiritual culture and a merely human culture. The former reveals new
contents and aims; with it a new world emerges within man, and
transforms his life from its basis: the latter uses that which a higher
organisation has given us, solely as a means for the advancement of our
natural and social existence. Merely human culture turns the spiritual
into a mere means to increase narrowly human happiness, whereas the
spiritual by its very nature makes us feel the whole of this happiness
to be too insignificant, indeed intolerable. The difference of a merely
human and a spiritual culture extends from the fundamental disposition
to all the separate departments of life. Religion, for example, is to
the former a means by which the individual may make himself as
comfortable and as secure as possible in an existent world, and conduct
his own insignificant _ego_ through all dangers; to the latter, it
signifies a radical break with that world and the gain of a new life, in
which care for that _ego_, or even the state of society, is relegated
completely into the background. To the one, morality is simply a means
in the organisation of human social life, in the accommodation of the
individual to his environment; to the other, it discloses a new
fundamental relation to reality, and in the transformation of existence
in self-determining activity allows life to win an inner union with the
infinite and its self-consciousness. On the one hand, art, science, the
life of the state, education, and so forth are the idols of utility, of
expediency, the adornments of a given existence; on the other, they are
the gods of truth, of inner independence, of world-renewing spontaneity.
That there should be an end to the confusion of the worship of idols and
of gods; that spiritual culture should be distinguished from merely
human culture; that the spiritual content of the individual departments
of life should be energetically developed, and the spiritual poverty of
merely human culture made clear--all this is the urgent demand of the
present, without the fulfilment of which its state of confusion cannot
be overcome. Yet spiritual culture can never become independent unless
the spiritual world is independent. Only the presence of this spiritual
world makes it possible for culture, at the level at which it is
generally found, to be tested by a transcendent standard to see how much
spiritual substance, how much content and value, it contains. This test
will prove that we possess far less spirituality than we think; and that
the most of what is called culture is no more than the semblance of
culture, no more than imagination and presumption. But at the same time
we recognise and gain in the little spirituality that remains to us
incomparably more; we win the presence of a new world, and by this,
depth of life and the possibility of an inner renewal. Our life would be
indescribably shallow if it were to pass on one level and were to be
exhausted in the experiences at that level. The acknowledgment of an
independent spiritual life saves us from this shallowness, in that it
shows an inner gradation within our own province and sets life as a
whole a task.

If the acknowledgment of a spiritual world, inwardly present to us,
gives to culture a distinctive character, this character receives a
further modification from the particular manner in which the spiritual
life makes its appearance and becomes established within our existence;
at the same time, from this position there is also the possibility of
different sides and tasks within an all-comprehensive work of culture.
Of special significance in reference to this modification is the
circumstance that the spiritual life does not possess man as a natural
fact, does not operate within him with complete power and sure direction
from the beginning, but is present to him at first only as a
possibility, and as a transcendence of the general condition of things.
In accordance with this, although the spiritual belongs to our nature,
it is not so much "given" to us as set as a task; for its realisation it
needs our own attention and appropriation; all development of the
spiritual life within us, therefore, involves our own activity and so
receives an ethical character. The spiritual life also has such an
ethical character because, transcending our original condition, it must
be conveyed to us, and must be maintained by an imparting and an
activity. In the spiritual life we find ourselves in a sphere of
activity and of freedom in contrast with that of nature; in this way our
life becomes our work, our own life in a much more real sense. We see
this in the case of the fundamental form of the spiritual life that is
called "personality." We men are by no means personalities from the
beginning; but we bear within us simply the potentiality of becoming a
personality. Whether we shall realise our personality is decided by our
own work; it depends primarily upon the extent to which we succeed in
striving beyond the given existence to a state of self-determining
activity. The fact that we thus take part in the formation of our own
being proves that we are citizens of a new world--a world other than
nature--and shows that we are incomparably more than we could become
simply as parts of nature. Neither philosophy nor religion will convince
one who, at this point, does not recognise an elevation to a higher
power, indeed a transformation of existence. But one who recognises this
will desire such a transformation and such an elevation of culture also;
he will not come to an easy compromise with the given condition of
things and draw the greatest possible amount of pleasure from this
condition; but he will set culture an objective ideal; arouse it from
the prevailing state of indolence; fully acknowledge the antitheses of
experience, and will be provoked rather to make further exertions than
disposed to abandon himself to these antitheses. Life finds its main
problem in itself, solely in the development of an ethical character,
and attains to complete independence and a transcendence of nature only
when the spiritual takes precedence. Every culture that does not treat
the ethical task, in the widest sense, as the most important of tasks
and the one that decides all, sinks inevitably to a semblance of
culture, a half-culture, indeed a comedy. The æsthetic system, with its
transformation of life into play and pleasure, with its beautiful
language and its spiritual poverty, is such a life. To-day, therefore,
we can revive and strengthen culture only by establishing such an
ethical conviction. Only a culture of an ethical character can develop
an independent and positive spirituality; only such a culture can free
the impulse of life from being directed simply to natural
self-preservation, and in doing this not make the impulse weaker, but
stronger. In nothing have minds been more divided and in nothing will
they become more divided than with regard to the question whether, after
the perception of the inadequacy of mere nature and society, a new world
reveals itself to them, or whether this negation is the ultimate
conclusion; the former will be possible only through that which we call

The conception that we have here presented of the spiritual life and of
its relation to man also makes it for the first time possible to
understand and acknowledge the manifold and opposing elements in our
time without falling into a shallow eclecticism. Realism advances in
power, and Idealism seems to be endangered in respect not only of its
form but also of its innermost nature. Idealism is indeed in danger so
long as the spiritual life has not attained to independence in relation
to man; for, so long as the spiritual life is regarded as a production
of man the knowledge of man's relation to nature and his animal origin
must lead to a serious prostration, to a complete dissolution of
Idealism. If, on the other hand, it is established that with the
spiritual life a new order transcending the power of man makes its
appearance within him, then the recognition of human incapacity becomes
a direct witness to the independence of the spiritual life. We must,
therefore, cease to treat spiritual developments, such as religion, art,
morality, as the natural attributes of all called men. Man's natural
character simply offers tendencies and relations which can find a
spiritual character only by the revelation of a spiritual world. The
decisive point of transition is not between man and animal, but between
nature and spirit. But even where culture is supposed to be at its
highest, human existence is for the most part at the level of
nature--and is only embellished in some degree.

In Idealism a religious shaping of life is to be distinguished from an
immanent shaping of life by spiritual creation, especially in art and
science. The demand for a universal spiritual system involves the
rejection of the specific religious system as being in many ways too
narrow and open to hostile criticism; this universal system, however, as
it is presented when the spiritual life is acknowledged to be
independent, is closely related to religion. Not only is all
spirituality within us dependent upon a universal spiritual life, but
this spiritual life within us always presents itself as something
transcendent and is not coincident with our life. This religious
character must be the more clearly emphasised the greater the toil with
which the spiritual life must defend itself from a world apparently
alien and hostile. Immanent Idealism, filling life as it does through
art and science, cannot possibly be the whole and conclusive--for this
reason at least, that it has too little with which to counteract the
perplexities of spiritual and of material life, and because it
concentrates life too little within itself. But a scientific character
is indispensable to a universal spiritual culture, in order that life
may not pass in subjective feeling and presentation, and that life may
have an objective character, and be led to the clearness of a universal
consciousness. An æsthetic form and creative activity pertain also to
this life; for, otherwise, no representation of reality as a whole could
be obtained from the confused impressions of immediate experience; the
spiritual could attain to no clear present, and could not permeate
reality with ennobling power, and change all that is deformed and
indifferent to it in the original condition of things.

From the point of view of spiritual culture the movements in the
direction of Realism also may be regarded as of value, if only they do
not desire to dominate life and to impress their form directly upon it.
The tendency to place a low estimate upon the natural and material
conditions of life and of human social relationship has everywhere
revenged itself upon the spiritual life, since it has allowed that life
to fall into a state of weakness and effeminacy, and prevented it from
realising its full power and strength.

The acknowledgment of the multiplicity of tasks that are involved in all
the departments must be a source of great danger to life, if every
department of human experience does not serve the development of an
independent spiritual life. The more power the spiritual life acquires,
the more securely will it tend to prevent division. Nevertheless,
everything is in a state of movement; man must first win a coherent
character for his life. But it is already a great gain that we are not
defenceless in face of the antitheses within the human sphere, that the
presence of an independent spiritual life elevates us inwardly above
them and only allows an inner unity to take up a conflict.

We may also briefly consider how the conception of the spiritual life as
a coming of reality to itself, as a formation and development of being,
must tend to deepen and strengthen the work of culture. How much more
this work must become to us, how much more indispensable must it be, if
it is not simply a matter of giving an existent material a new form, of
arousing dormant powers, but if in it we first advance from a life that
is only a half-life and a life of pretence to a real and genuine life;
if we struggle not for one thing or another within existence, but for
our being as a whole! If once life is awakened to reflect upon itself,
and if at the same time it makes a claim to self-consciousness and a
content, it cannot doubt the poverty of the life of mere nature and just
as little that of the life of mere society; in the former, as in the
latter, there are only suggestions of a genuine life, only
possibilities, most of which do not come to be realised. Not suffering,
but spiritual destitution is man's worst enemy. From this position the
outlook of the life of the majority can be only a cloudy one, its value
only mean. If we abstract from the experience of man that which is due
to the necessity of self-preservation and to social training, how much
inner movement, how much life of his own, how much that is spiritual
remains in him! How many dead souls there are in all classes of society;
how many who, allowing their powers to lie dormant, drift about
aimlessly! Nevertheless other possibilities exist in man, and even if
they are not positively developed, still they prevent him from feeling
satisfied in that state of spiritual poverty, and always keep him in an
insecure state of suspension.

The less we think of the immediate welfare and capacity of man, the more
will the spiritual life transcend us and the more urgent will the task
of the spiritual life become--to preserve to human existence in the
midst of all externality and pretence some kind of substance and some
kind of soul. However, we have already occupied ourselves with the
question of the nature and significance of truth and reality in the
spiritual life.


A problem from which no system of life can escape is that of the
organisation of culture, the question how the work of culture can be
divided into different departments and at the same time preserve a
unity. To-day we are in a state of great perplexity in this matter; an
old solution has become untenable, and a new one has not yet been found.

The Middle Ages handed down to us a system of culture that may be
described as a hierarchy, in the widest sense of that term. The
multiplicity of life was united into a whole; but this whole was
dominated by distinctive religious and philosophic convictions, which
assigned to each individual department its place in the whole and set it
its task; these departments attained to a complete independence as
little as that system had an independence for individual forms. The
Modern Age has evolved and has realised a system of freedom in
increasing opposition to the earlier system. How this everywhere effects
an emancipation is demonstrated by our problem of the increasing
development to independence by the individual departments of life. The
state and society, science and art, find their tasks more and more
within themselves, in their own development; they engender distinctive
laws and methods of their own; they seem to be able to reach their aims
of their own capacity. Effort is directed more and more into individual
departments, and there is a feeling of complete satisfaction in this
tendency. Our life has gained immensely in comprehensiveness and breadth
by the transition to this modern system: it comes more closely into
touch with the realm of fact; it produces a greater diversity of
movement, since the different departments have their own
starting-points, enter upon distinctive paths, and direct their powers
into these paths. The attainment of independence by the individual
departments of life constitutes one of the chief gains of modern
culture, and it cannot again be given up.

But the attainment of independence by the individual departments brings
great perplexities with it, which make a definite counter-movement
necessary. At first the tendencies characteristic of the individual
departments directly contradict one another; indeed, this is inevitable,
if they are not systematised in some way. For, particular experiences of
human life are present in each department: one feels our greatness more,
another our weakness; one is moved more by the harmony of existence,
another more by the antitheses; one tends rather to exert power upon the
environment, the other to concentration in itself; from these
experiences there must originate different modes of life and different
representations of the world. In this condition of life it is impossible
for the different tendencies not to cross one another and to clash
together; and this threatens to divide our life, and to rob it of all
its inner unity. A glance at the condition of life in the present is
sufficient to convince us that such dangers are more than fancies.

To the difficulty in respect of the relations of the different
departments among themselves, we must add another, if anything greater,
in respect of the relation of each department to life as a whole. To be
well organised each department needs a co-operation of form and content,
of the technical and the personal; the former gives the department its
particular nature; for the latter a relation with life as a whole is
necessary. The work of science, for example, follows certain forms of
thought, which it evolves from itself, and which are equally valid for
all times and parties. But even the most conscientious following of
these laws does not give to science a content and a character; science
can acquire these only in relation with a movement of life as a whole,
which, in its striving from whole to whole, takes up the experiences of
humanity and unites them into a whole. Only in this way does science,
from being simply an arrangement and accumulation, become knowledge, an
inner appropriation of things. If in accordance with this the individual
departments are detached more and more from life as a whole, and are
made dependent solely upon their own capacity, it can hardly be
otherwise than that in the midst of all perfection in execution they
lose more and more all spiritual content and all definite character. At
the same time, it may soon follow that the effect upon humanity as a
whole will become subsidiary and a matter of indifference; the
individual departments will become exclusively a matter of a circle of
specialists, and strive for an effect within this circle only. In this
way an art arises which, in the artist, forgets the man, and which does
not so much convey new content to human life, or help the time to attain
to a characteristic feeling of life, and elevate it above the
meaninglessness and the confusion of commonplace everyday experience,
but which is for the most part mindful of refinement in execution, and
so, easily degenerates into the complicated and the virtuoso. In the
case of science we find the same thing. It may, through exaggerating the
independence necessary to it, assume an air of proud self-satisfaction,
and, by detachment from the movement of life as a whole, that which is
its main concern, namely, knowledge, may suffer. For it soon tends to
become mere erudition, which treats problems as something half-alien,
gains no inner relation to things, does not understand how to animate
reality, indeed even rejects, as unscientific, all striving after such
animation. This tendency produces, to use an expression of Hegel's,
excellent "counter-servers," who do not look after business of their
own, but only that of others.

No people are more threatened by the danger of this tendency than we
Germans; more especially because the tendency is closely related with a
most advantageous quality of our nature--willing subordination to the
object, fidelity to and conscientiousness in our work. But since we
follow this one tendency, aspects and tendencies which are absolutely
necessary to a complete life stagnate and decay. We do not sufficiently
develop a personal life independent of the object; we do not encompass
and transform it from its very base by a transcendent life-process; and
so we are occupied too much with the material, and do not completely
spiritualise it; we do not bring into relief simple lines in the
infinite abundance, which we require and must maintain complete. How
many excellent scholars our time possesses, who are equipped with an
astonishing capacity for work, who are masters of even the most
complicated technical matters, and yet how few spiritual types there are
among them; how few who have anything to say to humanity, and who will
exert their influence in this way beyond the present! The history of
German formative art also indicates a painful divergence between the
amount of untiring work and the carefulness of execution, and the
creation of simple and pure forms that would increase the spiritual
possessions of humanity, and be permanent factors in its movement.
However, the trait is rooted far too deeply in our being for even the
most determined resolution to be able directly to achieve much to
counteract it. Nevertheless, it is not a matter of indifference whether
we give ourselves complacently up to this one-sidedness, and fortify
ourselves proudly in it; or whether we oppose it to the best of our

We find ourselves therefore in the present in a difficult situation with
regard to the organisation of culture. To give up the independence of
the individual departments, or even only to limit it in any way, would
be an enormous and impossible retrogression; on the other hand, some
kind of inner unity of life must be obtained. A transcendence of the
antithesis must, therefore, be sought; and this needs a distinctive
structure of life. The spiritual life offers such a structure in so far
as it constitutes the development of being. For we saw how independent
centres and characteristic movements arise in an all-comprehensive life.
Between these movements there may be manifold relations and antitheses,
but they are within a vital whole and with their experiences can aid its
further development. Viewing the departments of life from this position,
it will be necessary to show that each individual department has a root
in life as a whole and a significance for this life; only thus can the
power of this whole life be exerted in the individual departments, and
penetrate them. But the department does not receive its form simply from
the whole by way of derivation; but it can take up and treat the problem
independently, and with its own means; that which exists in the whole as
an affirmation may be only a question and a suggestion in the individual
department. Yet this is in no way without value: for, nevertheless, it
leads us beyond the indefiniteness of the original condition, and guides
effort in circumscribed paths. What gives work in the individual
departments special significance and intensity is the fact that they
take up the problem of the whole in a particular sphere, and can treat
that problem in a characteristic manner; that they are not mere aids and
assistants, but independent co-operators. In this connection it is of
especial importance that the spiritual life is not conferred upon man in
a finished form; but that within him it must first be worked towards
with great toil and through doubt and error, from indefinite outlines to
more detailed development. It is obvious that the form of the whole will
ever be questionable; and that the individual departments must
co-operate in the examination and justification of the forms proposed.
Indeed, it is just the mark of great achievements in the individual
departments that, while they transform their own sphere, they at the
same time develop the whole. It is this that distinguishes Leibniz from
Wolff, and Kant from Herbart.

Such an organisation gives to life a movement in two directions: it must
be conducted from whole to part, and from part to whole. The individual
departments must be developed far enough to reveal their particularity
and to produce a characteristic tendency of their own; but they must
remain within a whole, to receive from it and to lead back to it. The
relations between the individual departments will be distinctive in such
a system; the influence of one upon another will be without suspicion,
and advantageous, only when it is exerted through the mediation of the
whole; while disturbances are inevitable, when one conveys immediate
experiences to another and imposes its nature upon another. It was
necessary, for example, to reject the earlier encroachments of religion
upon other departments of life; art, too, often found it necessary to
resist the tendency to subordinate it to morality; and to-day there is a
strong inclination to shape every department of life in accordance with
the instructions of natural science. Yet although such encroachments
must be rejected, and the independence of each in relation to the others
preserved, the changes that are effected in one department are by no
means indifferent and lost to the other departments. For, if through
these changes life as a whole is developed, then the effect of the
change must extend to the other departments. In this manner of mediation
religion has exercised a strong influence upon the other departments of
life; and in this sense, to-day, an influence of natural science upon
the whole circle of existence will be readily acknowledged. But this
does not involve a limitation or an enslaving of other departments,
because the change in life as a whole must now be ascertained first;
and, besides, each individual department must test by its own
experiences the suggestion coming from the whole.

When we take all these facts into consideration we see that the
organisation of culture is a difficult problem and that our organisation
is unstable. In culture, different tendencies will cross one another;
antitheses cannot be avoided, and collisions will not be lacking. But
that which life loses in completeness and exclusiveness, it gains in
wealth and movement; and division need not be a cause of anxiety so long
as a powerful spiritual life embraces and unifies the multiplicity.
Without such a counteraction by the spiritual life we must drift
towards ever greater specialisation; and, with this, we should not only
see life become more and more disintegrated, but we should also become
less and less spiritual, and be transformed into a soulless mechanism.


_Preliminary Considerations_

Before we proceed to discuss the individual departments of life we may
briefly consider the common task that is imposed upon them all by the
distinctive condition of the time: they must become independent in
relation to the earlier as well as to the more modern conceptions of
them, and, if necessary, take up a conflict against both. The course of
our investigation can have left no doubt with regard to the state of
prostration of the older forms of life: the uncertainty affects the
whole and the fundamental principles much more than it has ever done
before. Formerly the struggle was concerned rather with individual
departments or individual tendencies of life; it was carried on more in
reference to the conception and meaning of fundamental truths than with
regard to the validity of those truths themselves. The passionate
struggles of the period of the Reformation left the fundamentals of
Christianity untouched; in a similar manner the later attacks upon
ecclesiastical religion usually had a basis of firm faith in morality,
and derived their power more especially from it. To-day the authority of
morality is just as seriously shaken as that of religion; and the
conception of truth is itself in the same condition of uncertainty.

In this condition of things an appeal to history cannot be employed as
proof of any position; a patchwork of our own and of something alien
gives us still less a position above perplexity: there is no other way
than to take up the problem with the means of the present itself. For
this the acknowledgment of the independence of the spiritual life forms
a fit foundation. The spiritual life is not dependent upon and fixed to
particular temporal conditions; ever anew it can break forth
spontaneously, and from the particularity of the time advance to eternal
truths. It is to us a source of joy that a time has come again when we
need not follow other paths, but must go our own; when nothing can bind
us but that which has been approved by our own being and our own
conviction. It is not necessary for a time such as this to take up an
attitude of hostility towards the whole past; rather--and especially
when it thinks worthily of itself--it will seek a friendly relationship
with history. But this is possible only when the present has attained
complete independence, and only from this independent position; only
when an eternal content is revealed in that which history conveys to us.
In opposition to submission to authority such a time makes a demand for
unlimited freedom and complete spontaneity; such freedom and spontaneity
are essential if life is again to find the truthfulness and the inner
power that we so painfully miss.

Such a requirement of life and thought arising out of the immediate
present may easily lead us to separate from those to whom the crisis
does not seem so serious, and who believe that it is possible to
transform the old in a quiet and inhostile manner into the new. The
conflict will be far more acute with those who, with us, make the demand
for an independent present; but who, by the conceptions of an
independent present, freedom and spontaneity, understand something
totally different from that which we ourselves understand by them from
the point of view of an independent spiritual life. In all times of
spiritual revival the freedom and immediacy which the spiritual life
needs for itself have been usurped by mere man as though they were a
right pertaining to him: and then it appears that only the complete
emancipation of individuals, a severance of all connections,
unconditional submission to the passing moment, are necessary in order
to lead life to truth and greatness, and man to a glorious state of
happiness. Such a movement cannot spread without making the antitheses
of life appear less acute, concealing its problems and its depths, and
falsely idealising man with all the contingency of his experience: with
all the bustle of its preparation and all its agitation the movement
must terminate in a state of spiritual destitution; it threatens life
with inner destruction. With a modernity of this kind we have nothing in

We must, therefore, with all our power, wage war against the narrowly
human and imaginary freedom on behalf of one that is genuine and
spiritual: this conflict is exceptionally complicated and difficult,
because real life does not make such a clear distinction between the
genuine and the false as the conceptions do, but rather allows them to
be confused. For this reason the conflict will be carried on not only on
the right hand and on the left, but also against the confusion that
obscures the great "either--or," without the distinct presence of which
a spontaneous life does not acquire power and consciousness. A way must
be found by which, notwithstanding manifold dangers and complications,
we may advance to a life that combines depth with freedom, stability
with movement: this is an inner necessity of the age, and once it is
recognised and taken up as such, it will in some way be realised.



In no sphere of life is there more inner division and uncertainty at the
present time than in that of religion. To one, the rejection of all
religion seems to be indispensable to the sincerity of life and to the
attainment of healthy conditions, because, as a pernicious legacy from
past ages, it oppresses our life, confuses our thought, paralyses our
power of activity, and provokes men to the greatest hatred of one
another. To another, on the contrary, religion seems to be the only
firm support in face of the needs and confusions of the age--the only
thing that inwardly unites men and elevates each individual above
himself, the only thing that reveals a depth in life and allows life to
share in the infinite and the eternal. The adherents to each of these
views show the greatest earnestness and zeal; we cannot treat the
negation lightly and dispose of it with the convenient catchword
"unbelief," if only for the reason that on the part of many this
negative attitude is due to a sincere anxiety for the truthfulness of
life. To rise above this conflict in regard to religion we must, in the
first place, estimate the points at issue impartially; and nothing else
is more called upon to do this than philosophy.

Philosophy will not make light of the prostration of religion; for a
survey of history shows that the state of life has undergone a complete
change since the epoch when religion exercised an undisputed supremacy.
At that time the world and human life received all meaning and value
from their relation to an invisible and supernatural order. The course
of the Modern Age has made the world that surrounds us ever more
significant, and since man has directed his activity upon this world,
the world of faith has been allowed to recede more and more. The
movement that led to our present position attained increasing power and
consciousness through three stages: at the height of the Renaissance the
divine was revered less in its world-transcendent sovereignty than in
its world-pervading operation; then, the Pantheism of a speculative and
æsthetic culture associated the world and God together in one reality;
finally, in the investigation of inimitable nature and the formation of
political and social relations the world of sense gives man so much to
do, fetters his power so much, and gives him at the same time such a
proud consciousness of this power, that the conception of a transcendent
world fades entirely; and an Agnosticism that rejects as superfluous and
unfruitful all reflection upon and care concerning such a world gains

This change in the direction and in the disposition of life must itself
have forced religion more or less out of the field of our attention. But
it is fraught with far more dangers to religion that the work of the
Modern Age in all its main tendencies is directed against the principles
of the life upon which the development of religion rests. Modern natural
science has dispossessed man of the central position that he formerly
attributed to himself, and has deprived nature of its soul. The modern
science of history, with its demonstration of ceaseless change in all
that is human, has undermined the faith in an absolute truth. At the
same time, with regard to the beginnings of Christianity, there is a
wide divergence between the traditional conception of faith and the new
conception obtained by historical research. The tendency of modern
culture has been to make the increasing of power, in work upon things
and in their control, the highest ideal; from the point of view of this
ideal of impersonal power, the world of pure inwardness, the home of
Christianity, has been able to appear to be simply a subjective and
subsidiary accompaniment of the life-process. He who estimates rightly
the fact that all these tendencies of modern life work together and
strengthen one another cannot fail to recognise that they force religion
from the centre of life to its circumference, and transform it from an
impregnable fact into a difficult problem; they destroy that
self-evidence of religion which previously made life secure and calm.
If, however, religion no longer springs up in the consciousness of
contemporaries from a necessity of their own life, it is not difficult
to understand that the complications of the problem are too great for
many of them; that the burden of obsolete forms over-balances the power
of their own impulse, and thus, by a sudden revolution, to reject it
seems the only way to save truth. Then religion seems to be only a
delusion that arose in a past age--a delusion similar to astrology and
alchemy; one which, in face of growing enlightenment, must ultimately be
completely dispelled.

But if the philosophic treatment understands the negation rightly, it
can only warn us against being hasty in our acceptance of it. To be
sure, quite apart from all the caprice and purpose of man, the condition
of life has become very much changed; but it was less the state of
affairs itself that permitted the changes to clash so irreconcilably
with religion than the interpretation which it received and the
exclusiveness which was attributed to it. The decision in this matter
has depended in particular upon what is called the spirit of the age,
which is often nothing more than the inclination and disposition of man;
such inclination, as history shows, may change into the direct opposite;
it does not form a sure touchstone of truth.

These considerations, indeed, do not make much headway in opposition to
the storm and stress of the movements of the age: that which operates far
more strongly in favour of religion is the experience and the feeling
that the attempted negation of religion by no means easily and directly
solves the problem of life; and, further, that along with religion much
becomes untenable to which even the modern man cannot lightly renounce
all claim. Whatever there may be in religion, it has brought man into
union with the deepest basis of reality, and at the same time revealed to
him a life of pure inwardness: it has set a task for life as a whole and
has given to life a meaning and a value; it has counteracted the lower
impulses and the egoism of mere self-preservation; and has organised
humanity spiritually. These aims have hardly become superfluous and
worthless: even without religion, and after abandoning its principles, it
would be necessary to accomplish these aims in other ways. It is in the
attempts at reconstruction that the futility of the negation of religion
becomes painfully evident. Phrases concerning the greatness and
noble-mindedness of all that bear human features; a blind faith in the
elevating power of intellectual enlightenment or even of external
organisation; a confusion of thought which, unobserved, rejects and
elevates its own principles, and so maintains in the conclusion that
which it rejected in the premises; all these things can deceive him alone
concerning the spiritual poverty and the complete powerlessness of what
is offered in them, whose zeal in his antagonism to religion has deprived
him of balance of feeling and impartiality of judgment. If it is inquired
what content and value human life still retains after the surrender of
all relation to the whole and of all inner relation, it will be
recognised that the complete negation of religion consistently carried
out must lead to an appalling convulsion of human existence as a whole.

But if such considerations counsel us to be cautious in regard to the
negation of religion, they do not justify an adherence to its
traditional form. The far-reaching changes of life that we are aware of
cannot possibly be explained away or their significance lessened; they
must be estimated, and brought into relation with religion. The boundary
between the eternal and the temporal, the substance and the outward form
in religion, has been made uncertain by these changes; in particular
they forbid philosophy to treat the religious problem from the point of
view of a dogmatic confession. The antithesis between Catholicism and
Protestantism is the offspring of an age that preceded the development
of modern culture, with all its deep-reaching revolutions. The main
problem of religion at the time when the antithesis made its appearance
was differently stated from the way in which we now state it. For then
it was a question whether Christianity was to be formed from society or
from personality; while to-day Christianity fights for its existence as
a whole, and must defend its fundamental truths against a time in which
activity is directed into other paths. The present antithesis cannot
possibly be regarded as ultimately identical with the former one; and it
is for this reason impossible to take up the present conflict concerning
religion under the banner of a particular dogmatic confession. Such an
ante-dating of the conflict also has the disadvantage that it prevents
the great antitheses which are involved to-day both in Catholicism and
Protestantism from being clearly displayed. Two different streams have
been present in Catholicism from its beginning: to the one, the power of
the ecclesiastical system is the main thing; while to the other, on the
contrary, the religious disposition is of supreme importance. The
influences of modern culture have increased this difference, both
directly and indirectly, and, chiefly outside of Germany, there are
signs of the beginning of a stronger movement towards a more inward
Catholicism. Protestantism carries within it an antithesis of the old
ecclesiastical form of religion, which adheres as much as possible to
the state of things in the sixteenth century, and a form transformed by
the Idealism in modern culture more into the universal, the free, the
purely human, but also not infrequently into vagueness and superficial
optimism. But so long as the bitterness of sectarian prejudice diverts
the attention of men from the chief thing, these antitheses are not
clearly expressed and energetically developed. There are serious
contradictions involved in these views of religion, and they cannot be
developed without giving rise to parties. Philosophy must strive with
all its energy to bring it about that these parties shall be formed in
relation to the present situation, and not from the point of view of a
past age; and that the conflict shall be raised to a higher level, to
truth and greatness, by bringing itself into relation with the needs of
the age.

The task of philosophy is not limited to estimating as impartially as
possible the state of things as we immediately experience it; that task
also includes a positive treatment of the religious problem. That which
is characteristic in the philosophy of life advocated in this treatise,
Noëtism, as it might be called, must also find a definite expression and
show what capacity it has, in the fulfilment of this task. In accordance
with its fundamental relation to history, which has been much discussed,
Noëtism cannot make history most important, even in religion, and cannot
read into history as much as possible of what the present demands; it
must regard any such procedure as a weakness and a half-truth. Noëtism
must insist upon religion's justifying itself and establishing its
reality before the tribunal of the spiritual life: only then can the
truth that exists in history and that which, through progressive
differentiation, promotes the cause of transcendent truth and brings it
nearer to humanity as a whole, be elucidated. We have not for a moment
lost sight of the fact that it is essential to religion to be related
not to single individuals but to all; and that religion can evolve no
power without compelling men to some kind of unity.

Now, for the treatment of the religious problem, Noëtism offers first a
position from which demands are made compatible which are otherwise
directly opposed to one another. Religion is concerned with experiences
which at one and the same time must possess a universal character,
belong to our own life, and be immediately accessible to each. The
attempt of speculative philosophy to establish religion by deduction
from the nature of the whole has the required universal character; but
it introduces religion to the soul from outside, and remains a mere
intellectual gain. The contrary attempt to base religion in the
individual soul developed an inwardness; but this attempt shows that the
soul does not know how to build up a world and to contrast it with the
subject, to present this world as something transcendent; it makes no
sure progress beyond the fluctuation and undulation of feeling. Only an
independent spiritual life, inwardly present to us, elevates us above
this division of subjective feeling and a transcendent world, and
inaugurates universal experiences in our own domain. How with the
spiritual life new realities are manifested; how a world-whole which
transcends human existence becomes evident, has already been discussed,
and it is not necessary to make any repetition here. Every
acknowledgment of an independent spiritual life is favourable to
religion in so far as this acknowledgment makes us clearly perceive the
inadequacy, the illusoriness, and the vanity of all narrowly human
conduct and occupation, its futility in matters both small and great. So
long as attention is fixed on individual matters, and so long as we may
expect some improvement in these in the present or in the future, we
may not be aware of the futility of this conduct; but as soon as the
situation is grasped as a whole and estimated as a whole, such human
conduct is found to be entirely inadequate, these external aids are
found wanting, and there remains only the inexorable "either--or":
either the power of a new world is operative in man, and makes him
strong outwardly and inwardly, or the whole life of man is spiritually
lost--one great delusion, one great error.

If from the point of view of the spiritual life the contour of a new
world is acquired, we may turn back to history, and ask how far it
indicates a movement which tends in the direction of such a world. The
spiritual life itself brings a distinctive standard for this inquiry:
the fundamental fact is not a single factor within life, but the
existence of a self-conscious whole of life, of a spiritual process
itself. From the point of view of the spiritual life, the chief thing in
religions will be the kind of life they reveal; what they make of the
life-process; how through the relation to an absolute life they evolve
the life-process to a higher stage. Only so far as they express this
life-process, and not in themselves, are the doctrines and practices of
religion of value.

If we apply this test to the individual religions, Christianity
distinctly shows itself to be far superior to the others. More than any
of the other religions, Christianity fulfils the demands which are made
by the nature of the spiritual life and its relation to the world; and
so far as Christianity satisfies these demands, but not in its
historical form as a whole, it may assert itself to be absolute.

If Christianity as a religion of redemption requires that we should tear
ourselves from the old world and aspire to a new one, this demand
receives a distinctive significance by the more detailed conception
which Christianity forms of it. As evil and that which is to be overcome
is regarded not, as among the Hindus, as mere appearance, but as moral
guilt, which disorganises the world, it is not the fundamental reality
of the world but a particular conception of it that is rejected; and so
there remains the possibility of life being given a positive character;
and in this the main thing is not intellectual enlightenment, but
radical moral renewal, an elevation into a world of love, grace, and
reverence. This view of the world makes it impossible to base life
simply upon affirmation or negation; but affirmation and negation must
be present within it, and thus life is given an inner comprehensiveness
and an inner movement which it would not otherwise possess. Christianity
included the innermost basis of human life in this movement and
transformation, since it not only regarded the divine as influencing the
human by individual manifestations of its power, but proclaimed a
complete union of both, and maintained this through its whole
development. A wearied and exhausted age may have formulated this
fundamental truth in the most unfortunate manner in the doctrine of the
divine humanity of Christ; nevertheless, the effectiveness of the truth
involved was not prevented by this. Only from the power of a conception
of a union of the divine and the human can religion acquire the
character of pure and complete inwardness, of a spiritual
self-consciousness: otherwise the relation of the divine and the human
remains a more or less external one. But this is not the place to trace
how the Christian type of life has been visibly embodied in the course
of history in the personality and the life of its founder, and in the
common labours of centuries, in which the Semitic and Germanic natures
have been harmonised, and great peoples and personalities have given
their best to the world: here we may only remark further that the whole
is not a work completed at one particular point in time, but a
continuous task of all ages; and that, in the fundamental life
transcending all mere time, a fixed standard is offered by which to test
the achievement of all particular ages, and to differentiate the results
of the work of history as far as they correspond with the fundamental
character of religion. Religion must maintain the fundamental character
of the life that it advocates, in face of all change in the state of
culture, just as decidedly as for its development in detail it remains
dependent upon the help of the work of culture.

Religion in the present, therefore, has great and difficult tasks. For
one thing, religion must energetically maintain the supremacy, in
opposition to modern culture, of the type of life that it advocates. The
fact that there are points of direct antagonism between the religious
type of life and modern culture ought neither to be denied nor in any
way obscured. On the one hand, we have an ideal of a life of the pure
inwardness of ethical disposition; on the other, the ideal of spiritual
power: in the former the tendency is to personal, in the latter to
impersonal life: in the one case there is a positive development only by
a complete transformation; in the other the immediate impulse of life is
the ruling motive power of the whole. It shows only superficiality and
confusion to seek an agreeable compromise between these antitheses; for,
in truth, either the one or the other must assume the guidance of the
whole. The whole course of our investigation permits of no doubt as to
our own attitude in this matter.

But it is impossible to defend the supremacy of the type of life
advocated by Christianity without recognising the necessity that this
type of life must be in a form which appropriates to itself the long
experience of humanity and corresponds to the present stage of spiritual
evolution. The changes necessitated by this evolution are far too great
for the traditional form of Christianity to be able to express them; in
order to develop their own power, and to establish themselves
triumphantly in opposition to a hostile world, they must acquire an
independent form for themselves.

There are three kinds of changes that are especially necessary to the
form of Christianity in the present. (1) The representation of the world
found in the older form of Christianity has become absolutely untenable:
in this matter we must not seek weak compromises between the old and the
new, but without fear we must fully acknowledge the elements of fact
that exist in the new. We cannot do this unless we make deep changes in
the way we regard religion; we must find the courage and the power for
such a renewal. (2) The whole movement of modern life has made us feel
that the realities with which traditional religion has to do are far too
insignificant and too narrow; a rigid insistence upon them threatens to
involve us in a degeneration to the narrowly human and subjective. The
conceptions of "inwardness," "personality," and "morality," in
particular, need to be interpreted more comprehensively and deeply; the
soul's "being for self" must be based upon a self-consciousness of the
spiritual life. Religion must take up the conflict with the world
spiritually, and through this grow in greatness in its whole effect and
government. (3) The older form of Christianity was the product of an
exhausted and faint-spirited age; hence its fundamental attitude is
predominantly passive and negative. It shows a strong tendency to
depreciate human nature, and to leave the salvation of man entirely to
God's mercy: in emphasising man's redemption from evil it is apt to
forget the elevation of his nature toward the good. The joyousness of
the Christian life is insufficiently dwelt upon; and the raising of men
from their prostration and perplexities falls short of a restoration to
a free and self-determining activity. What is needed is a thorough-going
reconstruction which shall emphasise the importance of action and
joyousness in Christian morality, without in any way weakening the
opposition to all systems of natural morality based on the rights of

In a word, with all respect to Christianity, we demand its expression in
a new form. We require that Christianity shall identify itself more
definitely with a religion of the spiritual life as opposed to a
religion which merely ministers to human frailty, and that it shall show
greater decision in casting off the antiquated accessories that hamper
its movement. We ask that it shall make prominent those simple and
fundamental features of its system which have value for all time, and in
this way restore sincerity and settled confidence to life. We can
hardly expect that the reunion of man on a religious basis will take
place all at once, but it would be a great gain if we could only clearly
realise what the oppositions are which still keep us apart. Such insight
would help to check that insincerity in religious matters which must
first be got rid of, if there is to be any source of spiritual health in


From the perplexities of religion many flee to morality as to something
secure and untouched by dissension. The position of morality is, indeed,
different from that of religion. Of atheists there are many; but there
are few, if any, who deny the validity of all moral values: that
fidelity is better than deceit, love better than hate, concerning this
there is no dispute. But it is a question how far this agreement extends
and how much we may gain from it. Within the same sphere of culture at
least it is with very little difficulty that we come to agreement in
respect of individual matters of morality; if ethical societies limited
themselves to practical morality, and did not at the same time wish to
settle questions of principle, they would find scarcely any opposition.
But, as soon as we comprehend the individual matters as a whole and ask
for a foundation for the whole, problem after problem makes its
appearance, and it soon becomes clear that we can neither establish nor
distinctively form morality without a conviction concerning life as a
whole and our fundamental relation to reality. If, therefore, there is
so much uncertainty in the present concerning life as a whole and our
fundamental relation to reality, we must inevitably become doubtful and
unclear with regard to morality. In fact, the position may be described
in this way: we lack a morality which has a secure basis and a definite
character; in morality, also, after-effects of the past mingle with the
impulses of the present; and we are accustomed to conceal the poverty
of our own possessions by historical knowledge and mere learning--so
much is this the case that we are able even in a state of disgraceful
poverty to think ourselves rich. There are no less than five types of
morality which seek our adherence and the guidance of our soul: we may
suppose that in each of these there is some truth, but no single one is
able to win our acceptance entirely; each leads to a certain point, and
then we recognise a limit. We have a religious morality, in which our
volition is related to and our destiny is determined by a divine power;
but this endangers the spiritual independence of man, and has a strong
tendency to make his life too passive; besides, in this case, the
prostration of religion also weakens the power of morality and its power
to direct life. We have a morality of culture, which directs all power
towards increasing the progress of humanity, and subordinates all
subjective preference to the requirements of an objective operation and
creation; but the ceaselessly increasing differentiation of work makes
this form of morality a danger to the soul as a whole; man is in danger
of being made a mere means and instrument of a soulless process of
culture. We have a social morality, which makes the welfare of society
the chief thing, and which, by strengthening the feeling of solidarity,
produces humane efforts in abundance, but is unable to include life as a
whole; in this form of morality there is a great danger of
overestimating external conditions of life, and of levelling and
weakening life. Certain great thinkers have advocated a morality of pure
reason, which elevates man above the sphere of the useful and the
pleasant; and gives to him an inner independence; but with all its
greatness this morality is too formal and too abstract for us; and,
besides, we lack to-day the certainty of an invisible world, which alone
can give a secure foundation to this type of morality. Lastly, we have
an individualistic morality, a morality of beautiful souls, which
regards the complete development of one's own particular nature, the
harmonious cultivation of the whole range of one's powers, as the aim
of conduct, but which not only necessitates individuals who are far
greater and far more characteristic in nature than we find in experience
in general, but also has little power to arouse us to effort, and, if
accepted exclusively, soon tends to degenerate into a refined
self-enjoyment and vain self-reflection.

The presence of all these tendencies and motives in morality subjects us
to-day to an abundance of ethical stimuli; but it does not give us an
ethic. At the most it conceals the fact that the multiplicity of
activities do not form for us a universal task, which could counteract
the separation into individuals, parties, particular departments, and
give us the consciousness of serving in our work aims that transcend the
well-being and preference of mere man. We are in need of a morality that
proceeds from our own life; and in this we need much more than we are
conscious of needing. For we have no universal aim that we might take up
in our disposition, and by which we might test all individual
activities; and so life must become disunified and inwardly alien; we
lose all spiritual relation to the world. The world surrounds us in the
first place as a dark and immovable fate; we do not make ourselves
masters of this fate, just because we give ourselves too much to do with
things. Rather, to accomplish this, we must transform reality from its
very foundation by our own activity and decision; we must wage war
against obscurity and irrationality, and this conflict must tend to
divide our whole existence into friend and enemy, good and evil, but
along with this first give to life complete activity, and lead it to
world-embracing greatness. Only in this way does man, from being simply
a spectator, become a co-operator in the building up of the world; only
thus does that which occurs within him become in the fullest sense his
own. Everything which obscures the ethical character of human life
involves, therefore, a loss in greatness and dignity; a degeneration to
a state of servitude, to being a mere part of an alien whole. Particular
parties may be in agreement with and find satisfaction in this
condition; humanity as a whole will not rest content with it. As
certainly as humanity confidently maintains that its life has meaning
and value, so certainly will it take up the problem of morality ever
anew against all attempted intimidation.

If to-day we are again to take up this problem, then in the first place
the conditions and the requirements of the problem must be quite clear.
We can never acquire a morality from the troubled confusion of social
life; on the contrary, morality involves a transcendence of this; it
necessitates distinctive convictions concerning the world as a whole and
our position in it. There is no independent morality, no morality in
itself; morality involves a fundamental whole of life, which is
appropriated in it and by this appropriation first attains to
perfection. In contrast to the existing condition of things a new
condition must first be raised in ideas that precede conduct. The new
condition acquires a moral character only through requiring on the one
hand moral freedom as opposed to the mechanism of natural impulse, on
the other a transcendent ideal in opposition to mere self-preservation.
These two together reveal a new order of things distinct from nature;
they must seem impossible from the point of view of the world of sense,
not only freedom with its apparent annulling of all connections, but
also the freeing of conduct from bondage to mere nature. For how would
one conceive an activity that did not tend ultimately to the good of the
agent, and so aid in his self-preservation? Does it not involve a
contradiction for him to exert his power for something alien to himself?

If in the present we feel such problems in the fullness of their force,
and if we must fight for morality as a whole, we must go back to the
foundations of our existence, and seek primarily for a secure position
in contrast with the instability of temporal experiences. In accordance
with the whole course of our investigation, we can find such a position,
and by further development a distinctive morality also, only in an
independent spiritual life, which first conducts the world to
self-consciousness and so to genuine reality. The two requirements
discussed above cause no difficulty from the point of view of an
independent spiritual life. We convinced ourselves in a previous section
of the reality of freedom in the spiritual life; in morality also
conduct can free itself from the natural _ego_ without degenerating into
a state of emptiness, because the spiritual life reveals a new and the
alone genuine self. Thus here activity is not spent upon something alien
to us, something presented to it from outside, but is within our own
being, which here, indeed, includes the whole infinity within it.
Activity in the spiritual life serves true self-preservation, which has
only the name in common with natural self-preservation.

Wherever it is acknowledged that the spiritual life involves a turning
of reality to complete independence and spontaneity, morality must take
a significant, indeed the central, position. For it is clear that only
the taking up in our own activity and conviction, only complete
appropriation, can bring life to the highest degree of perfection.
Morality does not find in existence a life-content which it must convey
to the individual subject, but is itself within the life-process; a
complete self-consciousness of the spiritual life is attained first in
morality, and morality must develop the content of that life. It is not
that man in morality turns toward the spiritual life, but that the
spiritual life elevates itself in the whole of its nature; all human
morality must have its basis in a morality of the spiritual life.

With such a basis in the innermost nature, morality must concern the
whole multiplicity of life; it can include and estimate the most diverse
relations and experiences of our existence. But whatever is thus brought
under the sway of the morality of the spiritual life must undergo an
essential change, and must be elevated above the nature of that which is
not taken up in this manner. By an ethical formation and development of
art and science we do not mean that the individual should be loyal and
straightforward in their pursuit, and should follow honest aims; this
conception would be much too narrow. But it is that we should take
possession of and treat as our own life and being that which otherwise
remains outside as something half alien to us; that the work should
acquire the power and fervour of self-preservation; and that in this
unification the necessity of the object becomes a definite demand of our
life, and the gain of the object an advance of our life. Only such a
life which transcends the antithesis of subject and object gives to the
object a soul, and freedom a content.

The experience of history also makes it clearly evident to us that the
spiritual life first acquires a secure position and an indisputable
supremacy over nature by its acknowledgment and appropriation in
self-determining activity. For history shows that wherever morality is
not central, the spiritual life, even in the midst of the most
magnificent results in external matters, languishes inwardly and loses
its hold. With individuals also the final decision concerning the
problems of the world and of life always depends upon whether they do or
do not recognise that man has an inner moral task in his nature as a
whole. If this is acknowledged, then--and this just in oppositions and
conflicts--a realm of inwardness is assured us which all apparently
contrary experiences of the external world cannot expel from its central
position; but if there is no such acknowledgment, the triumph of these
experiences and the collapse of the spiritual life cannot be avoided.

The morality of the spiritual life, as we advocate it, will have
distinctive features in comparison with other conceptions of morality;
of these we can mention but a few here. The acknowledgment of an
independent spiritual life makes life as a whole a task, since it
requires that as a whole it should be changed into a state of
self-determining activity; that everything must be aroused and set in
motion. Thus the morality of the spiritual life is constructive and
progressive, and not simply regulative in character; it is not its
purpose simply to place life under regulations and to let activity wait
until there is an opportunity to fulfil them; but, calling forth all
our powers, morality must work and create, arouse and prepare the
opportunities, so that in everything the realm of the spirit may be
increased within the province of humanity. Like the spiritual life
itself, the morality proceeding from it must be of a transcendent
nature. To-day or to-morrow may not be considered beyond good and evil;
morality may not sink to being a mere means of realising the wishes of
the time. If, however, morality transcends time, and is able to separate
the transitory and the eternal in time, then, within its task, it may
very well acknowledge distinctive situations and problems, and present
different sides; indeed, only by a close relation with the time and by
penetrating deeply into the experiences of the time will morality
acquire the necessary proximity and impressiveness. To this extent,
therefore, we also insist upon a modern morality, however decidedly we
reject that which to-day is called "modern" morality, and which for the
most part is no more than a surrender of morality to the wishes and
moods of the individual.

If in these features the morality of the spiritual life already
manifests a distinctive character, this distinctiveness is further
increased by the particular nature of the actual relation of man to the
moral task, as it appears here. The highering of the ideal will
necessarily increase its divergence from man, as he is. It will become
quite evident that morality is not a continuation of nature, a natural
attribute of man, or a product of social relationship, but the most
pronounced expression of a great change in the direction of life, the
institution of a new order of things. If at the same time life is to be
fashioned morally, a conflict is inevitable; and the general outlook of
life and of conduct will depend upon where we find the centre of
opposition and what is the main direction of the conflict. In the first
place, morality must take up a definite attitude towards the
sense-nature of man; that nature must be subordinated to the aims of the
spirit. But we have already seen that there is a danger that the ethical
task will lose its depth, and that life as a whole will be perverted,
if the rights of nature are misunderstood and there arises the desire to
suppress it completely, and if, in a tendency to asceticism, this
suppression is made the chief concern. The chief moral task is the
development and establishment of a genuine and real spiritual life, as
opposed to a false and merely apparent one, which is found in human
conditions, not only in the state of society but also in the soul of the
individual: thus a mere transition from society to the individual can
never give any aid. The condition in which life is generally found
evolves no independent spiritual life; but it uses the spiritual impulse
that is present within it simply as a means to other ends, and thus the
result is an inner perversion; at the same time man is generally
zealously occupied with giving himself the appearance of intending to
follow the spiritual for its own sake, and of sacrificing everything to
it. In opposition to such radical insincerity, to acquire a sincere and
genuine life is the chief task and the chief desire of morality; for the
establishment of sincerity and truth in face of an opposing world the
soul needs before all else loyalty and courage.

And so morality involves life in a great division: it cannot possibly
take up a friendly attitude towards everything and readily admit
everything: its chief task must be to arouse life from its confusion and
apathy. But this does not prevent a morality of the spiritual life
striving for universality in its inner nature. The morality of the
spiritual life must, therefore, establish a definite relationship on the
basis of the present with the prevailing types of morality which were
previously mentioned. If the morality of the spiritual life is certain
of its own nature, it is quite possible for it to recognise a certain
validity in every other kind of morality without degenerating into a
feeble eclecticism. The relation that we recognised between the
spiritual life and religion also makes religion valuable to morality:
the moral significance of culture may be especially acknowledged where a
universal character is desired for the spiritual life; the relation of
man to man may also become inwardly important where it is necessary to
the inner construction of the life of society. Again the morality of the
spiritual life fully agrees with the demand for an independence of
morality and for an elevation above narrowly human aims, in the manner
that the morality of reason advocates; finally, individuality also can
obtain its due in the spiritual life. All this, however, is valid only
with the presupposition that we acquire a position above the antitheses
of experience and not between them, and an inner independence in
relation to the chaos of time. Only from this position and this
independence can we advance in any way, even within time.


Education and instruction are especially affected by the difficulties
that are engendered by the lack of a main tendency in life and of a
transcendence of the superficiality of time. For the lively interest
which its questions provoke, the incalculable amount of work and
activity that is called forth in this department, do not produce their
full result, because we do not possess enough life of our own of a
definite character to be able to test and sort, to clarify and deepen,
that which is presented to us. And so in conflict with one another we
use up much power without making much progress in the most important

Educational reform is the catchword, but we have no philosophy of
education that is based upon a securely established conviction
concerning life as a whole, and we trouble ourselves very little to
obtain one. We wish to improve education, and yet we have not come to an
understanding with regard to its ideals, its possibility, and its
conditions. Education must be fundamentally different in character,
according as man is regarded as a particular and exclusively individual
being, or as a being in whom a new and universal life seems to emerge;
according as he is only an elevated being of nature or in the highest
degree possible a spiritual being; according as the higher proceeds from
the lower gradually and surely after the manner of organic growth, or we
must find a new starting-point and accomplish a revolution. Further, an
individualistic training, as it dominated the classical systems of
pedagogy, is no longer sufficient; the relation to society must also be
fully appreciated, and be effective. But attention to this requirement
involves us in the danger of treating the problem of education too
externally, and of bringing all more or less to the same level; and this
danger must be overcome. Yet how can it be overcome, unless we possess
securely a depth, unless we acknowledge the presence of the infinite
within the human being, as it is comprehended in our conviction of the
spiritual life?

The form of instruction suffers from the ceaseless onflow of new
material, the constant increase in the number of claims. In itself each
single demand may be quite justifiable; but whether it is better than
the others can be decided only from an idea which governs the whole. If
no such idea exists, a gain in the individual departments may be a loss
to the whole; and an enrichment in one department may lead to a decline
of the whole. In face of that which has been handed down from the past
and that which arises in the present, it is difficult to come to a
balanced judgment; the parties may be right in their attacks one upon
another, but this does not imply that they are right in their own
assertions. The immediate impression tends to give the balance in favour
of the requirements of the present; from the point of view of the
immediate impression, all occupation with the past may appear to be a
flight from the living to the dead. The advocate of the claims of
history may reply to this that man as a spiritual being is not a child
of the mere moment, and that we concern ourselves with the past not on
account of what is transitory in it, but for its eternal content. But he
who thinks thus must throw the eternal content into relief and separate
it sharply from that which is simply temporal; he must establish a
relation between this content and his own life, and make that which is
externally alien his inward possession. This does indeed come to pass in
a few cases; but can we say that it comes to pass generally or
predominantly? We Germans in particular have far too strong a tendency
to substitute scholarly occupation for inner animation, and instead of
spiritual substance to offer academically correct knowledge. It is
therefore not without good reason if Classical Antiquity does not so
much inspire as weary our youth; yet the blame for this does not rest
upon Antiquity, but on ourselves, and upon the manner in which we treat
it with calm scholarship, without transforming it into our own
possession. For how could that influence the whole man which does not
come from the whole man? Everything points again and again to the same
thing--we lack spiritual independence, inner transcendence of history
and environment, we lack a characteristic life as a whole. The contact
with the incalculable abundance of impressions that we experience must
therefore remain an external one; and with all our increasing wealth of
knowledge we threaten to become spiritually poorer.


Science, with its innumerable branches and its powerful penetration of
life, is indisputably a strong feature of the age. Its effect is not
exhausted in the abundance of particular achievements; by the
objectivity of its work it has brought the world much nearer to us, has
led our life to greater clearness, has made us more alert, and given us
a secure dominion over things. Science, therefore, must also be a factor
in the determination of a philosophy of life, and must raise the whole
position of man. Of course, as soon as we survey and estimate its work
from the life-process we find that there is no lack of difficult
problems in science. Since the magnificent results of the natural
sciences often give rise to the tendency to force their particular bent
and methods on the human sciences, to which our conception of the
spiritual life gives a characteristic sphere of their own, there is a
danger that the balanced development of the individual sciences and the
complete organisation of what is distinctive in them will be prevented.
However, we do not lack energetic resistance of this danger; and
ultimately it is less science itself than the movement to popularise it
that falls into this danger. Further, the results of science with regard
to the object easily tend to obscure the subjective element, the
spiritual activity, the characteristic synthesis, which forms an
organised collection of pieces of knowledge into the unity of a science.
It is apt to appear as though science needs only to construct further on
a given basis and in a given direction; while both of these are open to
much dispute: different possibilities, prospects, types may be revealed;
the work of history has run through different stages, and has certainly
not already exhausted its possibilities. Nevertheless, the subjective
element with its freedom, mobility, and many-sidedness is becoming more
adequately appreciated, and there is no reason to fear that science will
become dogmatically pursued in paths that have become fixed. Finally,
the problem of the relation of thought to life is the source of much
perplexity: we Germans, for example, have a strong tendency to take mere
knowledge for inner appropriation of the object, and instead of
spiritual substance to offer an abundance of scholarship. This, however,
is not a defect in science itself, but an error on the part of man, who
has no life of his own with which to meet the onflow of impressions from
the environment; and so our estimate of science and our acknowledgment
of its magnificent achievement cannot be affected by this charge.

Philosophy is in quite a different position: its present state cannot
satisfy anyone who seeks rather for a universal science than for an
academic discipline. For our philosophical efforts lack a common aim and
close relation with the innermost need of the time; they do not even
show any definite and energetic attempt to overcome the confusion from
which our world of thought suffers. A great stream of philosophic effort
came to an end with the speculative philosophy of the first decade of
the nineteenth century. After a temporary ebb of this philosophic
effort, we now wish to take up the work again with fresh power, but we
have not yet acquired inner independence; and therefore, in sifting and
collecting, we are unable to direct the age to definite aims, or
radically expel the inconsistencies into which an indefinite relation to
the past has led the present.

There are three main streams of thought which come to us from the past,
and we can neither completely take them up nor withdraw ourselves from
them: the Enlightenment, with its philosophic summit in Descartes; the
critical philosophy of Kant; and speculative philosophy, with its
consummation in Hegel. It has been thought that the Enlightenment, with
its starting out from the subject, its unadorned intellectualism, its
formal ratiocination, its rejection of everything that is not
comprehended in clear and distinct ideas, was transcended at the height
of German classical literature, because at that time a life rich in
content was set in contrast with it. But, as a fact, no adequate
settlement with the Enlightenment has been arrived at; the supposed
transcendence is not final, because the elements of truth in the
Enlightenment, especially its turning from history to the immediacy and
independence of spiritual life, were not properly acknowledged. But
to-day it is less the elements of truth of the Enlightenment that are a
force than that which is trivial and narrowly human in it--the
ratiocination of the subject which, the more empty it is, the more it
feels itself to be the measure of all things, and, rejoicing in
negation, applies the results of the natural sciences in an attempt to
bring about the greatest possible suppression of all spiritual
relations. In this form the Enlightenment gains acceptance by the
masses, which formerly had seemed inaccessible to it; and thus it
becomes an instrument by which life is dissipated and made shallow.
From its position of research, philosophy looks down upon this tendency
with contempt; but it produces no movement that is able to take up the
struggle with this tendency to shallowness, and pass through the
struggle victoriously. Kant is often lauded as the spiritual guide of
our time; and it is overlooked how much that was certain for him has
become doubtful; how many new facts, new problems, new prospects, which
cannot be lost to the world of thought we have received from the
nineteenth century with its historico-social culture and its
overwhelming widening of the horizon. Kant's critique of the reason is
based on a conception of science; on a faith in the possibility of a
knowledge of truth; on a conviction of a spiritual organisation of man,
which are rather in contradiction than in harmony with the main
tendencies of the present. His absolute ethic, the pillar of his
constructive thought, is incompatible with the empirical and social
treatment of morality to which the present does homage. But at the same
time we cannot free ourselves from the influence of Kant. For we cannot
refute his critique of the reason, breaking up, as it does, the old
representation and conception of truth; and, without his ethic, our
ethic would lose the appearance of truth and greatness. In the judgment
of the present, Hegel experiences a treatment that is just the opposite
of that which Kant receives: if in reference to the latter we do not
notice what divides us, so in reference to the former we fail to
recognise what joins us. For if Hegel's exaggeration of the power of the
human spirit and his identification of spirit and thought appear alien
to us, yet his idea of evolution, which embraces all multiplicity, and
represents all realities and conceptions as in a state of flux; his
elevation of spiritual factors to the form of independent powers which
develop and establish their own necessities undeterred by the preference
of man; his emphasis on the fact of the power of contradiction and
opposition in history--all this, often in spite of our own conceptions,
exerts an enormous influence over us; and we cannot shake it off
without surrendering a considerable portion of our spiritual possession.

These tendencies all whirl confusedly together and draw us now in one
direction, now in another; we can get beyond the state of decadence only
when we have succeeded in giving to the world of thought an independent
character, which corresponds with the spiritual condition of the
present, and which can do justice to the old as well as the new
experiences. After the whole course of our investigation, only a brief
account is necessary to indicate the directions the system of life here
advocated points out to reach this; a fuller treatment would make a
particular theory of knowledge necessary. We must bring into prominence
three of the chief points.

(1) Only the life-process can be the starting-point of philosophy, not
some kind of being more ultimate than this process, whether we conceive
of such being as an external world or as a subject existing independent
of the world: the ideas of "world" and "subject," as also that of
"being," can be evolved and made clear only within the life-process; at
the same time, they remain in a state of flux, and never are so directly
opposed to one another as modern thought has represented them as being.
Philosophy, with this starting-point, would, however, attain an
independence in relation to the special sciences only if it were
possible within the life-process to form a unity and a distinctive
synthesis, which should deepen our view of reality and set it as a whole
in a new light. (2) Such a synthesis must transcend the state of change
of all the relations and caprice of men; this is possible only by the
revelation and appropriation of an independent spiritual life withdrawn
from the life of sense. Without such a spiritual life there is no
release from the chaos of subjective experiences and opinions; only from
the position of the spiritual life is it possible for a spiritual
occurrence to be revealed in the province of man, so that we do not need
to infer from man to the world, but that within him a universal life can
be immediately experienced. (3) As, on the one hand, the spiritual life
is an indispensable presupposition, so on the other it is an infinite
task; the former as far as the fundamental fact is concerned, the latter
in reference to its detailed content. This content can be acquired only
through the movement of history as a whole; thus a constructive
philosophy--and not merely a critical one--could arise only where the
spiritual life as a whole had acquired a characteristic form. In this
case, philosophy was not simply an offspring of life, not merely
something for life to occupy itself with. By its demand for a thorough
clarification of our ideas and life, and by its raising the question of
absolute truth, philosophy has exercised no little influence upon the
progress of life. But that which it achieved of a fruitful nature, it
achieved not in detachment from, but only in relation to, life, and by
interaction with it, however much this relation may be concealed at the
first glance.

Such a connection of philosophy with life as a whole is by no means new;
it has existed in all times. Never has the world of thought acquired a
distinctive character except in close relation with life as a whole: it
is only from life as a whole that thought has received its problems, the
nature of its procedure, and the demarcation of its work. A survey of
the history of philosophy makes it evident that the leading thinkers
differ mostly, and differ from the beginning, in that which they regard
as the essence of life. In what they regard as the essence of life they
have found the firm point of support for their work; from that the
direction of their research has been determined; and from that the
questions arose to which they required an answer from the universe. And
we all know that in these matters the question often implies more than
the answer, that it often carries the answer within itself.

If, therefore, this connection of philosophy with the life-process
signifies an old and indisputable truth, this truth is not sufficiently
acknowledged. Its adequate acknowledgment gives rise to a new situation;
indeed, it tends to the development of a new type of philosophy. With
the critical tendency of the Modern Age, this type shares the desire not
to surrender thought to a state of defencelessness in face of the stream
of appearances, but would primarily concentrate it in itself, and in an
inner independence find a standard for all further undertaking. But this
attainment of independence in thought is not accomplished by turning to
the mere subject, but to a central occurrence, transcending the
antithesis of subject and object. If thought cannot begin from such an
occurrence, and understand the movement of life as an unfolding and
perfecting of this comprehensive occurrence, then there is no truth for
man. Truth, as a relation of two series absolutely alien to each other,
is an absolutely nonsensical conception: truth must be immanent, in the
sense that one life embraces both subject and object, and that in the
movement of life there is as much a coming together of subject and
object as a coming together of activity from the centre and from the

That in this we have to do with a peculiar formation of knowledge and
not with a merely formal modification is shown by the following
considerations. If thought, in the manner previously supposed, takes its
starting-point in a world existing independently of the subject, then in
order to subordinate reality spiritually thought will comprehend it in
the most general conceptions. Ultimately, the being of things will be
sought in formal ontological magnitudes, as, for example, in "pure
being." If the whole abundance of reality appears to be derived simply
from these general conceptions, it is in danger of being transformed
into nothing but schemes and shadows, and of losing all genuine life.
If, as opposed to this, the subject alone is taken as the
starting-point, then more life and more movement is indeed assured, and
a more varied prospect will be acquired, but there is no possibility of
distinguishing between that which is only contingent to the individual
and that which forms a common inner world; there is no possibility of a
rejection of the narrowly human, or even of extricating a realm of ideas
from the abundance of impressions: if in the former case knowledge lost
all content, in the present case it threatens to be completely
dissolved. If, further, on the one hand abstract universal conceptions,
and on the other the subjective states of individuals, form the stem of
knowledge, then neither in one nor in the other does the fullness of
spiritual reality attain its due--the reality that exists in the
building up of a genuine spiritual culture. But in the type of
philosophy advocated by us this is the chief thing; since in contrast to
the psychological and the cosmological treatment this philosophy
develops a noölogical treatment, and sees the central domain of
philosophical research in the elucidation and unification of facts
which, in the construction of a spiritual world in the province of man,
appear in the whole and in every branch. In this connection the
conception of fact is something more ultimate and universal in its
relations; but it is just that which makes it more valuable for the
conviction as a whole.

This conception of its task will bring philosophy into a closer relation
with personal life, as well as with the work of history, without making
it the mere instrument either of the one or the other. Otherwise it
would seem irrational, and a tendency from which one must free oneself
as much as possible, that in philosophy, personality, not only in
creative activity but also in appropriation, signifies so much. The
object, on the contrary, acquires a positive value, if we are certain
that the standard of life is ultimately also the standard of knowledge;
if with this the degree of the development of life at a particular point
necessarily decides the nature of the work of thought there achieved.
The near relation of the thinker to the proximate and the more distant
culture environment is explained from this position in a manner no less
satisfactory: the relation can then remain close, even if in the first
place it appears to be one of conflict and opposition. Similarly, the
whole movement of history acquires a greater significance for knowledge;
far-reaching changes of life transform the temporal situation, since
they permit us to experience, see, and seek something else; all these
changes, however, demand from thought an attention to and an
appreciation of the whole. Nothing other than this is involved in the
requirement that thought must correspond with the historical state of
spiritual evolution.

This acknowledgment of personal and of historical life by philosophy
makes it intelligible why philosophy manifests so much diversity and
opposition, and why on the surface it shows so little unity. Where the
conviction of an independent spiritual life rules, the faith in a unity
of truth can be shaken by this fact just as little as the courage to
creative activity can be paralysed. The basing of thought upon the
spiritual life also has the advantage that the main types of thought can
be derived from the different positions which may be taken up towards
the spiritual life, and thus a limit may be set to the otherwise
indefinite abundance. From this point of view there are for us five
chief types of thought and world-conception. Minds first divide on the
question whether we can unify life at all, and at the same time whether
we may venture to make an assertion concerning reality as a whole. He
who rejects this as impossible and readily surrenders himself to the
conflict of immediate impressions might be called an indifferentist. If,
however, a striving towards unity is admitted, then the question whether
a spiritual life with a reality and values of its own in contrast with
nature may be acknowledged or not becomes the point of decision, and the
basis of division into opposing camps. He who gives a negative answer to
the question, and regards nature as the whole of reality, becomes an
advocate of Naturalism. He, however, who answers in the affirmative, and
may be called an idealist, is immediately confronted with a new problem.
He cannot acknowledge the spiritual life without at the same time giving
it the supremacy; but now the doubt arises whether this supremacy may be
easily and peacefully established, or whether it meets with strong
opposition. When the existence of these oppositions is denied, or they
are regarded as being easy to overcome, there grows up an optimistic,
contemplative form of Idealism, which to the holders of other forms
inevitably seems abstract and shallow. If, on the contrary, the
oppositions are fully acknowledged, the final division originates with
the question whether finally we are to submit to the state of stagnation
brought about by these oppositions, or whether by some kind of
reinforcement of the counteraction to this state of stagnation life may
once more be set in progress: the former gives rise to Scepticism and
Pessimism, the latter to Activism, as it has been discussed by us in an
earlier section. It is easy to see what distinctive lines of conflict
and what kinds of conflict must arise between the indifferentist, the
naturalistic thinker, the optimist, the sceptic, and the activist.
However, we cannot allow this to detain us; it must, nevertheless, be
pointed out here, that in philosophy the possibilities are not yet
exhausted, and that to avail ourselves of these possibilities nothing is
more necessary than a close relation of its work with the life-process,
and a firmer grounding in the independent spiritual life.


Nowhere does modern life throb more violently and more strongly than in
art and literature. That which in this department has a claim to
permanence acquires especial power from the fact that this department
had to establish itself anew in opposition to an attempt to curtail it.
For who could deny that a culture of work and of utility had a tendency
to reduce artistic literary creation to the position of an accompaniment
and a fringe of another kind of life, to a diversion for idle hours? The
more we feel the limitations of the life of work and utility the more do
art and literature become independent tasks. From art and literature we
expect more lightness, more agility, and more joy in life; they should
conduct life from too great an attention to externals to
self-consciousness, and in this way give life a soul. They should
strengthen individuality in opposition to the levelling tendency of the
culture of the masses, wrest simple fundamentals from chaotic confusion
of life, and aid the time in reaching a comprehensive vital-feeling and
a synthesis transcending its inconsistencies. In opposition to that
which oppresses us and degrades us to instruments of a meaningless
machinery, we desire some kind of province where life rests in itself
and purposes nothing else but itself; where it springs up with complete
spontaneity; and where it can express itself with complete freedom, and
in this expression find its highest joy.

From such a longing a new art that permeates our life has arisen. Art
must seek new means of expression for the new situation; it cannot serve
the development of a new life-content without bringing about liberation
from all conventional statutes; it cannot prevent a threatened tendency
of life to become stagnant without desiring a fully free place for the
subject, and for the development of his individuality. He who sees
chiefly the dangers in everything forgets that nothing new and great can
arise without bringing dangers with it.

From the point of view of the system that we champion, we can quite well
understand the significance of the æsthetic movement of the present,
acknowledge the deliverance of life which it has accomplished, and in
general we can go a good distance with it. But there comes a point where
the courses diverge; not because we think less of the capacity of art,
but we believe that we think more highly of its task. This deliverance
from the culture of work, this turning to individuality, promises an
essential elevation of life only if a new kind of being, a new world, is
able to break forth in the soul that depends upon itself; if the
individual in his conflicts aids the development of the infinite life;
if, through all transformations and prostrations, man wins an inner
relation to the whole and to things, and by this grows beyond the
narrowly human.

If this does not come to pass, the movement remains on the surface of
sense experience and related to the activity and occupation of mere man;
and so it cannot make anything higher or essentially new of us; it
remains subject to the oppositions of the age instead of becoming
superior to them. We are, indeed, enriched by the most diverse forms of
expression: even the most concealed circumstances, the most delicate
pulsations of the soul, cannot withdraw themselves from being
represented. None the less, the description of the world-environment
acquires the most striking clearness and penetration, and in the
incalculable wealth of individual forms of art virtuosi are not lacking
at whose capacity of execution we are astonished. But all this gives to
art no spiritual content and no real greatness. It can, indeed, bring an
inexhaustible abundance of stimuli to bear upon individuals and spread a
shiny gloss over existence and life, but it cannot raise life
essentially. The care of the mere individual, with his changing
circumstances, prevents art from taking up sufficiently the problems of
the present situation as a whole; of the spiritual condition of humanity
as a whole.

And so art in this form is not able to grasp the epoch with its
spiritual movement as a whole, and to further humanity in the struggle
for spiritual existence, in which to-day all individual problems are
included. Humanity is in a serious crisis; the old foundations of life
are about to give way, and the new are not yet secured. The world has
rejected the standards which man had imposed upon it; it turns against
him, and leaves him nothing more in particular. To be assured of a
distinctive significance man needs a strengthening, and at the same time
an aroused reflection forbids him all help from outside. The fact that
that which is hostile and threatens to degrade and to annihilate man
takes possession of his own province of life and penetrates into it
gives a particular acuteness to these problems. We are not only
surrounded externally by a dark fate, but our soul also degenerates in
it, and becomes more and more a soulless mechanism. Indeed, our own
activity becomes the most dangerous opponent of the soul, since in
forming and taking part in complexes of work which ever become greater
it turns against us and takes the soul from the soul.

An art which has its basis in the individual and which does not advance
to spiritual substance cannot possibly prevent the threatened
dissolution of life. Even the most wonderful expression of disposition,
even the most delicate and most fluid representations of conditions, do
not free us from the chaos of the time: they might easily bind us still
more strongly to it, since they weaken the power, indeed the tendency to
energetic concentration, and increase the tendency to degenerate into a
state of weakness and decay; while to overcome these dangers it is
necessary primarily to increase our activity, to win again an active
relation to reality. Art cannot free itself from that condition of
feebleness without entering into a close relation with the central task
of life and acknowledging a spirituality transcending the subjective
circumstances and interests of mere man. If these requirements are not
satisfied, no talent can prevent a decline of art into a more refined

But where such a spiritual life is acknowledged, and at the same time
there arises the task of winning for man a new life, a new spiritual
reality, art inevitably acquires a great significance, and becomes
absolutely indispensable. Without the liberation which it brings, and
its presentation of things in a harmony, how could a whole with definite
character be raised? How could the new that hovers before us acquire
form and exert a penetrating power without the help of a constructive
imagination which precedes its realisation? How could the soul's
innermost experience permeate life as a whole, and ennoble its whole
structure without the help of art? The higher we place the ideal of
life, the more does the spiritual content which immediate existence
manifests become a mere sense form, the more is æsthetic activity
necessary to prevent disunion of life, in the midst of all oppositions
to give it some kind of unity, and in the midst of the passion of
conflict some rest within itself. But, to achieve this, art may not
purpose to form an oasis in a wilderness of life, but, hand-in-hand with
other activities, must fight for spiritual experience and a genuine
meaning of life as a whole.


To treat of the complicated problems of the political and social life of
the present does not come within our purpose; we can consider them only
so far as the task of the construction of an independent spiritual world
is affected either for good or evil by the nature of their solution.

In contrast to the epoch of the Enlightenment, the nineteenth century
brought about a transition from the individual to society: social life
has developed in numerous branches, has disclosed a superabundance of
new facts, and has set us new tasks. But this development has also
brought much perplexity with it. It becomes evident in this development
also, that each spiritual movement that attains power experiences in its
further course limitations, and is degraded by its contact with human
conditions. Along with the social movement there has been the
often-discussed change by which life from being centred in an invisible
world becomes occupied with the visible one, and by which all
departments of life are given a naturalistic, realistic character and
tendency. There has been no lack of opposition to the movement to make
society the first consideration; the opposition has gone even so far as
to dispute the right of the whole. Further, the earlier and the later
conception of society, the idealistic and the realistic, are often
confused; and from this confusion contradictions arise that not only
confuse our ideas but also degrade our life. There is a danger that a
zealous and excited occupation with nothing but individual tasks may
take our attention from the whole, and that the problems which the inner
condition of man involves may not obtain due consideration.

This turning to society is most manifest in the powerful advance of the
state. In this, an inner longing for a more social life, as Hegel
especially philosophically advocated it; and actual changes of
conditions operated together, and strengthened one another. The more
definite manifestation of individuality on the part of nations and the
sharper division between them; the active interest of wider circles in
political problems; the mechanical organisation of work, with its more
exact differentiation and its more rigid organisation of forces; but
primarily the longing, which grows out of the ceaselessly increasing
economical and social perplexities, for a power superior to the parties
in dispute and acting as arbitrator--all these have immeasurably
increased the power of the state in different degrees among different
peoples, but in general through the whole civilised world.

The freedom of the individual, therefore, cannot but suffer from
manifold limitations; there arises a danger that the individual may
gradually lose all initiative, and expect all stimulation from the
state. The spontaneity and the wealth of life suffer from the tendency
to increase the power of the state, and a bureaucracy which delights in
correct forms, but which spiritually is entirely unproductive, indeed
even indifferent, appropriates more and more to itself. The substance of
the spiritual life is also threatened by the fact that the omnipotent
state is inclined to treat that life, with all its branches, as a mere
means in the attainment of its own particular aims; to look upon science
and art, and chiefly religion and education, especially with regard to
that which they achieve for the aims of the state, and to shape them as
much as possible in accordance with these aims. There is also a strong
tendency to follow the same course to accomplish the ends of the
contemporary form of government. An independent and genuine spiritual
life can hardly offer too great an opposition to such a perversion,
with its deification of human forms. But the matter is by no means
simple; for not the will of single individuals and parties, but the
whole tendency of modern life has given this power to the state; indeed,
on the economic side the state will soon experience a further increase
of power. The more the guidance on this side belongs to the state, the
more necessary is a free movement of spiritual culture in opposition to
it; the more urgent is the demand that the amalgamation of church and
state should be discontinued--an amalgamation which, by the growing
disputes that arise from it, forces religion into an undignified
position; the more definitely is a greater independence to be desired
for school organisation in all its branches. The Germans especially have
much to do in this matter; and there is much at stake. For, with the
limitations of our spatial extension, we can be a permanent determining
factor in world-culture only by giving our culture the greatest
intensity; but this requires a calling forth of the complete power and
of the spontaneity of individuals. Ultimately, in this matter also, the
chief thing proves to be the taking up again of central problems and the
realisation of human being in its innermost depths as an unconditional
end in itself and the bearer of an infinite life. No conception can
guard us from sinking to the position of puppets of the soulless
mechanism of the state, if we do not find the power to give soul to our
life and to maintain it against all attempted limitation.

The longing for more freedom and independence has therefore an
indisputable validity. But this acknowledgment may easily lead to new
complications by freedom and independence being conceived in a manner
much too external, and also by a really questionable association of
these ideas with the problem of equality. The conviction of the modern
man concerning the world on the one hand, and the demands of life on the
other, are often in direct contradiction with regard to the conception
of equality. We become aware of our limitation on all sides: we are
represented simply as a product of heredity and environment: all
possibility of making a decision for ourselves is rejected as a
delusion. If thus we are deprived of all independence and all
spontaneity of life, then even in social life we shall become mere
bearers of a _rôle_ imposed upon us by a dark fate. One does not see how
freedom could retain a value, arouse enthusiasm, and lead to sacrifice
in such a case. If the whole is a soulless mechanism, in which only the
excess of existent power is the cause of decisions, then we ourselves
cannot be exceptions.

Other complications have their origin in the democratic tendency which
permeates not only our political endeavour but also our whole life of
culture. How far-reaching a change, indeed how complete a revolution,
has been accomplished by this tendency in opposition to a condition of
things which has stood for hundreds or rather thousands of years, is but
seldom fully appreciated. In the earlier form of social life spiritual
work was the chief matter only of a limited and exclusive circle; to the
people as a whole it was only secondary, and the benefit that they
received from it was often of the most meagre character. Even the
Reformation left this aristocratic form of life as it was; for as
certainly as it made the care for every individual member of the church
more urgent, that care was bestowed from above in an authoritative
manner. The earlier Enlightenment, as it was represented, for example,
by Bayle, was of the conviction that the deliverance from delusion and
superstition would always be limited to a small circle of those standing
spiritually high, and would never reach the masses. We know how this has
changed; how the masses are determined to form a mere dependent body of
the so-called higher classes no longer, but to take the problem of life
independently into their own hands, and how they obtain their
representation of the world and the task of their life from that which
is more immediately present to them and directly concerns their welfare;
and how in this way they are inclined to look upon themselves as the
whole of humanity. We have already referred to the danger that culture
as a whole will thus be made shallow--a danger that arises from the fact
that here the decision is made by those who scarcely participate in the
work of history, and who depend almost entirely upon the immediate
impression. Further, we have already contended that only a
simplification and rejuvenation of culture are able to cope with this
danger. The fact is important that this democratic movement appeals to
the equality of all who bear human features. Here again there appears to
be a direct contradiction between theoretical conviction and actual
conditions. Experience everywhere shows a pronounced inequality among
men; it shows this not only in the traditional social relationships but
also in the organisation of modern industry. More, however, than all
social arrangements, nature shows the greatest inequality amongst men;
and the actual relation of individuals in work and idleness, in love and
hate, in independent thinking and blind subordination shows it none the
less. From the point of view of experience the idea of equality seems to
be an empty phrase. If it is more than this, if we recognise in it a
truth that we cannot afford to lose, then it implies the conviction that
humanity has spiritual relations; that each has a significance in a
spiritual nature, and that there is a universal life present everywhere
which opposes the guilt and folly of the individual and even in spite of
himself gives him a value. Thus we have seen that in history, religion
and ideal culture were the first to bring the idea of equality into good
repute. But to-day the champions of equality turn with particular
keenness against religion and ideal culture, and are not aware that in
so doing they are destroying the foundations of their own belief.

These inconsistencies are not felt, chiefly because of the power which
abstractions usually exercise over men in the present day. A faith in
abstractions reigns amongst us which is capable of far greater things
than faith in religion or faith in reason. We are surrounded by the
bustle of a fierce and ceaselessly increasing struggle for existence:
ideas are overgrown by interests; the motives of people in general are
trivial, and all spiritual aspiration is feeble, and along with this
there is an unutterable amount of pretence which permeates and distorts
all conduct. Yet the disagreeable aspect of this condition seems to
vanish as soon as the mere word "humanity" is mentioned. But what is
humanity from the point of view of Naturalism other than a collection of
beings of nature? How can a power to elevate and to strengthen proceed
from this conception, which in the naturalistic context signifies no
more than the subjective unification of the individuals? Or, again, the
idea of a ceaseless progress of humanity is placed in opposition to the
confusions which exist in the present. But how can this idea be
established if a compelling reason is not active within man? How could
the present be so incomplete and so full of perplexity as it seems,
especially to the advocates of the idea of progress, if century after
century had made progress upon progress? Rather, if man has such a noble
nature as he is assumed to have, life should be full of reason and
bliss. The old faith saved man by resorting to an invisible world; it
required a firm confidence in that which one did not see. The new faith,
which denies an invisible world, desires more: it desires that we should
be convinced of the direct opposite of that which we see and comprehend.
These considerations in no way signify a depreciation on our part of the
effort to attain freedom and equality--an effort that has an
indisputable validity. But this validity must be based upon a whole of
life and be more definitely determined, otherwise the effort is stifled
by the inconsistencies in which the conceptions of freedom and equality
are involved in the minds of their advocates.

The independence of the individual and the spontaneity of the spiritual
life are endangered not only by the mechanism of a bureaucracy
indifferent to spiritual values but also none the less by the movements
of the masses, which in modern life in particular surround and browbeat
the individual. The man of the present day often believes that he has
gained freedom when in reality he has only changed the nature of his
dependence. What makes the movements of the masses, with their so-called
public opinion, so irksome is the falsehood that is generally contained
in this opinion, which is presented as proceeding from the experience
and decision of a great majority, and therefore as having a definite
presupposition of truth. The fact, as a rule, is that a few venture an
assertion and urge it upon the others with unobserved compulsion, since
they proclaim as already existent the agreement that they are only
seeking. Of course sometimes there is much more in public opinion; it
may be the expression of a spiritual necessity which subjects to itself
the dispositions of men. Whether public opinion is to be an interpreter
of truth or a mere product of man remains to be decided; and this
decision can rest only with the individual. He will be equal to making
this decision if he possesses a spiritual experience, and has in this a
touchstone by which to distinguish the genuine from the false.

Philosophy can maintain the rights of the individual only so far as he
is rooted in spiritual relationships and derives power from them; it
must absolutely oppose all glorification of the natural, spiritually
destitute individual. We find such a glorification to-day more
especially in that which, with particular emphasis, is called "modern"
morality, but which in fact threatens rather to be a complete negation
of morality; even though this negation is against the intentions of its
advocates, mostly women, who display great enthusiasm for this "modern"
morality. It seems as though life is limited and degraded because
society, particularly in the matter of the sexual life, prescribes rigid
statutes which, if they were not irrational at the beginning, have
nevertheless become irrational, and tend to brand the right as wrong and
the wrong as right. The shaking off of these restrictions and of the
pressure of society in general seems to promise a form of life
incomparably more powerful, sincere, and individual: this life is also
to offer more beauty, for to-day generally the idea of beauty is
emphasised with great partiality where life has no clear ideas and no
significant content.

This criticism of the statutes of society is not entirely without
reason. Such statutes do not in themselves constitute a morality, as it
is easy to imagine they do; but they only advocate a morality; as life
undergoes such far-reaching changes, these statutes must continually be
examined anew as to their validity and value. But this relativity does
not make them worthless, and does not justify their complete rejection
in favour of an absolute freedom on the part of individuals. We could
expect an elevation of life by such an effort for freedom only if we
might assume that the individuals are thoroughly noble, energetic, and
spiritually rich, and if in the relations between the sexes a state of
paradisiacal innocence reigned which only the evil arrangements of
society had disturbed. But this is a way of thinking which does more
honour to the hearts than to the heads of its advocates. He who takes
men as they really are and does not paint them in romantic colours, and
who at the same time recognises the dangers of a highly developed,
pleasure-seeking, and over-refined state of culture, will not despise
those social arrangements, notwithstanding their relativity, but value
them as an indispensable safeguard against the selfishness, the greed
for pleasure, and the instability of the mere individual--a safeguard
not only against the tyranny of externals but also for the individual
against himself. It is unfortunate enough that such safeguards are
necessary; but, as they are necessary, it is better to preserve and
improve them as much as possible than to reject them, and to expose
humanity to dangers that might throw it back into the condition of the
animals. Man is not better because he is painted more beautifully;
rather Pascal is right when he says: "L'homme n'est ni ange ni bête, et
le malheur veut, que qui veut faire l'ange fait la bête."

The tendency to think that man may be transformed inwardly and the whole
condition of life raised by changes in external organisation is most
definitely felt in the social movements of the age. In this there is a
clearly marked opposition to the earlier mode of thought, which, placing
a low estimate upon everything external, and finding greatness too
easily in disposition, overlooked how much the organisation of the
conditions of life means for men in whom the spiritual is only in
process of development; and, further, failed to notice that there is
also a strong movement from external to internal. Nevertheless, the fact
cannot be denied, notwithstanding all this, that the problems of the
whole and of man's inner nature require to be treated as of chief
importance. Otherwise, as Aristotle suggested, notwithstanding all the
alteration of conditions, the old problems will continually make their
appearance anew, and the substance of life might easily suffer from that
which was intended to improve its condition.

In conclusion, we may briefly consider the problems that have been
raised in the nineteenth century by the increased emphasis on the idea
of nationality. Influences of an idealistic nature first raised the
cultivation and establishment of a particular national character to the
position of a matter of the greatest importance. This character appeared
to be an extremely valuable form of individualisation of the spiritual
life, a form in which that life attains to concreteness and greater
definiteness and penetration. The co-existence of these individual
nationalities gave promise of an incomparably richer formation of the
life of humanity as a whole: the inner development of their peculiar
natures, and their lofty rivalry, also promised to bring a wealth of
arousing and elevating motives. The nineteenth century has, indeed, won
an incalculable amount through this movement; to take up an abstract
cosmopolitanism again would be decidedly retrograde.

But the more the idea of nationality has been brought from its high
place in the realm of thought to the domain of human circumstance, the
more has it been debased and the more dangers has it produced. If
previously the cultivation of an ideal type of life was most prominent,
and if the nations could thus permit one another to follow their own
courses peacefully, this has become less and less the case in face of
the desire and effort for power and expansion in the visible world; and
owing to the narrowness of physical space occupied by the nations, the
different strivings have clashed together more and more severely. If
this tendency continues without the counteraction of an inner task
common to humanity as a whole, and of unifying and elevating ideas, it
is hardly possible to avoid mutual hostility, a degeneration into
obstinacy and injustice. The idea of nationality may therefore become a
danger to the ethical character of life. This is the case if, by milder
or by severer means, one nation tries to force its own character and
speech upon another. The mode of thought based on the old _cujus regio
ejus natio_ is in no way better than that based on the old _cujus regio
ejus religio_, which we are now accustomed to regard with contempt as a
piece of barbarism. The desire for external power at the same time tends
to lessen the attention to the inner development and unification of
nationality, without which ultimately little progress can be made in the
development of power. It is through a common national character, with
its unification of the feelings and efforts of the individuals, that a
people is first elevated into a genuine nation; it is a character such
as this that gives to a people a power of influencing humanity as a
whole; it is a character such as this that gives to the individuals the
consciousness of being "members one of another," and with this a
stability and a joy in life and activity. Such a national character
necessitates certain natural conditions, that are like the veins in
marble which prescribe a certain direction to the work of the artist.
But these conditions must first be organised and by the complete
elevation of their nature spiritually unified; and this cannot be
achieved otherwise than through our own work, which through common
events and experiences follows its ideal. So far, therefore, national
character is not a gift of nature but a task which presents itself
distinctively to each people according to its nature and conditions. In
this matter a people must always in the first place realise a unity in
its own nature.

In the fulfilment of this task hardly any other people has had to
contend with keener opposition, both external and internal, than the
Germans. Our physical environment does not direct us so definitely into
distinctive paths as is the case with other peoples. But our inner
nature contains, before all else, harsh antitheses. Our strength lies
chiefly in arousing to life depths of the soul otherwise undreamt of.
Thus in music and in poetry we have been able to surpass all other
peoples; again, we have been able to give to religion a wonderful
inwardness, and in education to evolve the leading ideas. At the same
time, however, we are driven to the physical world to take possession of
and to shape things; we are not the Hindus of Europe, as other people
indeed previously called us. We came into history by achievements in
war, and the desire for conflict and victory has been maintained through
all the phases of our varied history. By the continued diligence of our
citizens in work we have subordinated the world around us to our aims;
our capacity for organisation has been most marked, as the present state
of industry and trade shows. However, not only have these movements
towards inwardness, and towards the world, a strong tendency to oppose
one another, but also, in contrast with these magnificent gifts, there
are many defects and tendencies that make the development of a powerful
and unified life exceedingly difficult. We show a want of form and
taste, a heaviness and formality, a tendency to occupation with detail
and, in general, with what is petty in life, and, as a result of this,
an uncultured "Philistinism" in all spheres of society, and along with
this the inclination on the part of individuals to insist on the
correctness of their positions, and thus to cause division; finally--and
this is the worst of all--much envy and jealousy. None of these features
can be denied. There is an infinite amount which must be altered and
overcome amongst us if we are to become what we are capable of becoming,
and if we are to reach the highest in our nature. The limitations that
have been brought about by our history, which on the whole has not been
a happy one, constitute an important determining factor in this matter.
The more problems we bear within us, the more possibilities of genuine
creation that exist within us, and the more we may be to humanity in the
future, the more painful is it if attention and activity are diverted
from the chief task, and if an externalising of the idea of nationality
allows us to consider ourselves great rather than lead us to strive for
true greatness. The people that has produced Luther and Bach, Kant and
Goethe, cannot be devoid of true greatness, if it only remains faithful
to its own nature, and if it concentrates its power and treats the chief
thing really as such.


The problems and antitheses that are to be found in the life of the
present penetrate deeply into the life of the individual, and often make
their appearance within him with a particular power. The antithesis that
exists between the conceptions of the world and the demands of life is
especially harsh. The tendency of the age is to form a conception of the
world which reduces the status of the individual in the greatest degree:
from the point of view of nature and of society, he seems to be no more
than a fleeting appearance, a matter of indifference, and to show no
independence, and never to be able to take part with spontaneous
activity in the course of events. On the other hand, the contemporary
form of life demands the greatest independence and freedom of the
individual. We see in him the chief bearer of life, and we expect
salvation from the severe perplexities of the time, primarily from his
strengthening. This state of inconsistency cannot be tolerated for long;
either the degradation of the individual, that is found in the
conceptions of the world, must be applied to life, and lead it to a
resigned submission to an impenetrable world-process, or the positive
estimate of the individual which governs conduct must be acknowledged in
the conviction concerning reality as a whole: only a weakness of
disposition and a feebleness of thought can divide our existence between
the one conviction and the other.

The course which our investigation has taken cannot leave any possible
doubt as to the direction which our conviction points out to us in this
matter: however much we also demand an energetic development of the
individual, that the stagnation of the age may be overcome, at the same
time we insist upon a necessary condition of this, on his inner
strengthening by an inner world present to him, on his elevation by a
spirituality transcending nature. Only if he thus acquires an inner
relation to infinity, and becomes an independent centre of life, can he
satisfy the demands that are generally made upon him, and, remarkably
enough, especially by those who theoretically deny the inner world as a
whole, and hail a most shallow Naturalism as a deliverance.

Of course that inner elevation of the individual by no means lifts him
gently and simply out of all the confusion that the experience of our
existence shows; at the first glance it may even seem to make the
confusion greater. For, if each individual can become a co-operator in
the building up of a new world, and if his activity thereby acquires a
value for the whole, then the complete indifference with which,
according to our human impression, the individual is treated by the
course of the physical world, the inflexibility and injustice that he
often experiences in this world, the defect of love and justice in this
world, in which the bad so often obtain the victory and the good are led
to destruction, are all the greater mystery. The more the development of
the spiritual life widens the field of vision; the more it leads us
beyond a lifeless resignation to the question of the rationality of
events and compels us to compare the destiny of one man with that of
another, the deeper must that feeling of mystery become. All attempts
at a theodicy founder on this difficulty; we must inevitably submit to
the view that with regard to this problem all is obscure to the eyes of
man. There is, however, no need on this account to doubt and to regard
our life as hopeless; our investigation also has shown this. For, in
contrast with the obscurity of the world around us, we are able to set
the fact of the emergence of a new world within us. Great things take
place within us; not only does a new world appear, but we are called by
an inner necessity of our own being to co-operate in its development,
and this co-operation is not limited to individual activities, but
involves our being as a whole. For it was just in this that we were able
to recognise the development of being as the essence of the spiritual
life--that the chief movement of our life is to win a genuine being, and
that in the development of personality and spiritual individuality such
a being is in question. We saw clearly enough that we are not
personalities and individuals from the beginning; but that nature gives
us only the possibility of becoming this. To realise this possibility
our own activity is necessary; and this activity is not a sudden
resolution, but requires a revolution of our being and the development
of a new nature; and this can only be achieved by a faithful and zealous
life-work, and even then only approximately. Thus life as a whole is a
task which includes all multiplicity within it, the task of winning our
own being completely, and just in this way to increase the kingdom of
the spirit at our point.

This task cannot be completely recognised and adopted without making a
great divergence from the aim, harsh oppositions and difficult
conflicts, manifest in the inner recesses of the soul. If our life,
therefore, appears to be in the highest degree incomplete, a mere
beginning, then this increase of the task demonstrates more than
anything else that, in this matter, we are concerned not with phantoms
and imaginations, but with realities: so here, notwithstanding all our
incompleteness, we can obtain the certainty of a spiritual existence,
and even become strengthened by the direct resistance of the external
world, because that world is henceforth reduced to the secondary
position. Thus, as we saw, the question upon which minds separate into
irreconcilable opposition is whether they acknowledge in the inwardness
of being itself not merely individual problems but a universal task; if
this is the case, the seriousness of the task will give to them an
unshakable stability of possession and a security superior to all
attacks; if it is not the case, the spiritual world is an unintelligible
paradox, because the want of an independent inner life means that there
is no basis for the development of an organ for the comprehension of a
world of inwardness. In this matter there is no possibility of a direct
agreement; only the proof of the spirit and of power can decide.

But where the life of the individual acquires a genuine being and a
connection with the realm of self-consciousness, then, notwithstanding
all that is fleeting and insubstantial, the individual cannot regard
himself as a transitory appearance in the whole, even in the ultimate
basis of his being. Where, in contrast with all the meaninglessness of
mere nature and all the pretence of mere society, a movement towards
inner unity and substantial being emerges, the individual will be
elevated into a time-transcendent order, and must necessarily acquire
some position within it. The whole movement towards spirituality in the
human sphere would be vain, and all distinctively human life would be a
meaningless contradiction, if the individuals in whom alone the
spiritual life breaks forth spontaneously were included solely and
entirely in the stream of the process of nature. If the spiritual life
has once revealed itself to us, so far as to begin an independent and
distinctive being within us, then this being will assert itself in some
way. This does not imply agreement with the usual belief in immortality,
which would preserve man just as he is through all eternity, and thus
condemn him to the torture of rigid continuance in the same form; a
state that would, indeed, be as unbearable as the pain of the
traditional hell. As the world as a whole is in the highest degree
mysterious to us, so our future is veiled in the deepest obscurity. But,
if with the essence of our being we are elevated into a universal
spiritual life, and if in the innermost basis of our life we participate
in an eternal order, then the time-transcendence of this life assures to
us also some kind of time-transcendence in our being.

  _So löst sich jene grosse Frage
  Nach unserm zweiten Vaterland,
  Denn das Beständige der ird'schen Tage
  Verbürgt uns ewigen Bestand._



In conclusion a few words will suffice. The last section showed that the
present sets great problems and reveals possibilities in every
department of life; but that we men are very far from being equal to
cope with these problems. We are limited especially by the fact that we
are incapable of elevating ourselves inwardly above the present; that we
do not take possession of it sufficiently as a whole, and find an inner
independence in relation to it; and that therefore we do not enter with
the necessary vigour into the conflict against the trivial and the
poor-spirited, the decadent and the sceptical that the present contains.
To point out the way to attain such independence appeared to us to be
the chief task of philosophy in the present. In the service of this
task, which cannot be achieved without the manifestation of a new
actuality, without a fundamental deepening of our reality, we have made
our investigation, which contains a distinctive conception of the
spiritual life. In that everywhere we have pressed back from the results
to the experience, and from the wealth of achievement to the generating
basis, we have seen nature, history, culture, and human nature as a
whole in a new light. We have hoped, by widening and strengthening life
itself from within, to supply a substitute for the external supports
that life has lost. How far we have succeeded in our endeavour is
another question; we shall be satisfied even if our work only
contributes to bring the present to a clearer consciousness of the state
of spiritual crisis in which it exists and concerning the seriousness of
which it deceives itself in a thousand ways. There is an enormous amount
of vigorous activity and efficient work, of honest endeavour and serious
disposition, in our time, and the tendency to make life more spiritual
is also evident. But the movement is still far from attaining the depth
which is necessary to the chief question of our spiritual existence;
thus the conflict, instead of being between whole and whole, is divided;
that which is significant and valuable in the endeavour of the time is
in danger of becoming problematic, and of producing the opposite of what
it purposes, because it does not fit itself into a universal life, and
in this realise its limitations and at the same time its right. A more
energetic concentration of life in itself is therefore the first
condition of transcending the chaos of the life of the present and of
preventing spiritual degeneration in the midst of too intense an
occupation with externals. As for the rest, we may say with Plotinus:
"The doctrine serves to point the way and guide the traveller; the
vision, however, is for him who will see it."


  Abstractions; their power in modern life, 362 ff.

  Activism; profession of faith in, 255 ff.;
    how it differs from a system of mere force, 255 ff.;
    its ethical character, 256;
    how it differs from Voluntarism and Pragmatism, 256 ff.

  Æsthetic Individualism, 61 ff.

  Æstheticism; its antithesis to Activism, 258 ff.

  Antiquity; its distinctive synthesis of life, 208 ff.

  _A priori_; its validity and its limitations, 234

  Archimedean point in the spiritual life; its impossibility, 94 ff., 154

  Art and literature, condition and tasks in the present, 354 ff.

  Ascetic organisation of life; rejected, 281 ff.

  Being, development of; as a system of life, 212 ff., 314

  Catholicism; different tendencies in, 328 ff.

  Christianity; its unique character, 6;
    the opposition to, 7 ff.;
    its permanent truth, 331 ff.;
    changes necessary to it, 332 ff.;
    Christian and Greek forms of life, 283 ff.

  "Classical," the; its significance, 192

  Concentration of life (within the whole), 156 ff., 160

  Conscience; its significance, 129 ff.

  Critical character of modern work; its presuppositions, 250 ff.

  Culture, 110 ff.;
    genuine and apparent, 269 ff.;
    requirements of a new type, 298 ff.;
    organisation of, 315 ff.

  Democratic tendency of modern culture, 361 ff.

  Departments of life; their relation to life as a whole, 316 ff.

  Dogmatic sectarian point of view; rejected, 328

  Duty; significance of the idea, 184 ff., 231

  Education; problems in the present state of, 343 ff.

  Enlightenment, the; its synthesis of life, 209 ff.;
    how far problematic, 249;
    relation of the present to it, 347 ff.

  Equality; problems of the present conception of, 362

  Eternity; how far implied in the life of the individual, 372

  Ethical character of life; how to be understood, 256, 258;
    of spiritual culture, 309 ff.;
    its necessity, 337 ff.

  Ethics (morality); different types in the present time, 336 ff.;
    conditions of a morality, 338 ff.;
    requirements of morality in a spiritual culture, 339 ff.

  Evil; the problem of, 263 ff.;
    the way in which it is solved, 279 ff.

  Evolution, doctrine of; spiritual, its limitations, 194 ff., 257 ff.

  Experience; its significance for the spiritual life in man, 235 ff.

  Freedom; its nature, 174 ff.;
    its conflict with destiny, 181 ff.;
    genuine and false, 323 ff.;
    inconsistency in contemporary treatment of the problem, 360 ff.

  German character; its greatness and its dangers, 317 ff., 368 ff.

  Goethe; characteristic influence, 299

  Good, the (idea of the good); how it differs from the Useful, 119 ff.;
    apparent inconsistency, 138 ff.;
    more detailed determination, 185 ff.

  Great man, the; his relation to his time, 292

  Greek and Christian forms of life, 283 ff.

  Hegel; relation of the present to him indefinite, 348

  Historical and social organisation of life; its limitations, 200

  Historical Relativism; rejected, 290 ff., 323 ff.

  History; the spiritual conception of, its conditions, 188 ff.;
    esoteric and exoteric history, 243 ff.

  Human life; how far it is from the spiritual life, 161 ff.

  Idealisation, false; of immediate existence, 83 ff., 362 ff.

  Idealism and Realism; their unification in a spiritual culture, 312 ff.

  Ideas in history; their unique character, 126 ff., 188 ff.

  Imagination; indispensable in all departments of life, 239

  Immanent Idealism, its rise and fall, 15 ff.

  Immanental treatment (from the life-process), 107 ff.

  Individual, the, and the Society; problems of their relation, 364 ff.

  Individual, the; his significance in the new relations, 246, 369 ff.

  Individual, life of the; its form in the new system, 369 ff.

  Individuality (spiritual); as a problem, 132 ff., 181 ff., 370

  Instruction; problems in the present time with reference to, 343 ff.

  Inwardness; its attainment of independence in man, 123 ff., 146 ff.;
    as the inner life of reality, 148 ff.;
    inwardness and the inner world, 303

  Irrationality, of existence; in what manner overcome, 279

  Kant; inconsistency in the relation to him in the present time, 348

  Knowledge; its form in the new system, 351

  Life; its detachment from the mere individual, 119 ff.;
    the two movements in it, 282 ff.

  Life-process; as the fundamental principle of investigation, 104 ff.,
      305 ff., 349 ff.

  Life's attainment of greatness, 240 ff.

  Life-work; its significance in acquiring stability, 253

  Love; as a witness to the union with the whole, 231

  Man; as a being of nature, 110 ff.;
    growing beyond nature, 113 ff.;
    his union with the whole, 226 ff.

  Masses, the culture of the; its problems, 89 ff.

  Mass-movements; their dangers and limitations, 363 ff.

  Metaphysic; in what sense necessary, 141 ff.

  "Modern," the; double meaning, 296

  Modern Age, the (in a broad sense); the characteristic in its nature,
      9 ff.

  "Modern" Morality; discussed and rejected, 364 ff.

  Movement, of the spiritual life in man; its uniqueness, 233 ff.;
    its increase in the new system of life, 247 ff.

  Mysticism; in what sense justifiable, 246

  National Character, 198, 367 ff.

  Nationality, the idea of; its problems, 366 ff.

  Naturalism; its significance and its limitations, 24 ff.

  Nature and Spirit, 270 ff.

  Negation; impossibility of an absolute, 267 ff.

  Newer Systems of Life; what they have in common, 22 ff., 81 ff.

  Noölogical Method; distinguished from the psychological and the
      cosmological, 243, 352

  Norms; their significance, 184

  Pantheism; vague character of the general conception of it, 84

  Past; impossibility of flight to the, 93 ff.

  People and nation, 366 ff.

  Personal conviction, concerning reality as a whole; where the decision
      is made, 253, 281, 311 ff., 340, 372

  Personality; the difficulty of the conception, 95 ff.;
    no mere gift of nature, 311, 370

  Philosophy; its present position, 346 ff.;
    its three main tendencies in the present time, 347 ff.;
    chief demands, 349 ff.

  Philosophy of life; the conception of a, 3 ff.

  Political and social life; condition and tasks in the present time, 358

  Present, the; difficulties of determining its extent, 289 ff.

  Protestantism; the different tendencies in it, 329

  Public opinion; manner of its formation, 364

  Reality; difficulty of the conception, 84 ff.;
    longing for, 159 ff.;
    new conception of, 220 ff.

  Relation (fundamental), of man to reality; new, from the point of view
      of the spiritual life, 152 ff.

  Religion; the system of life of, 6 ff.;
    its form and its justification, 273 ff.;
    its necessity in a spiritual culture, 312 ff.;
    its present condition, 324;
    its requirements in a spiritual culture, 330 ff.;
    specific religious system of life rejected, 281 ff.

  Romanticism; its significance and its limitations, 258 ff.

  Science; its present greatness and problems, 345 ff.

  Self-preservation, spiritual; distinguished from natural
      self-preservation, 126

  Sense; its estimate, 260

  Simplification (in revivals), 128

  Socialistic system; its significance and its limitations, 41 ff.

  Society; the spiritual conception of, 196 ff.;
    emphasis upon society in the nineteenth century, 358 ff.

  Spiritual culture, and human culture, 308 ff.

  Spiritual life; its independence a necessity, 141 ff.;
    as the fundamental principle of a new organisation of the individual
      departments of life, 157 ff., 244 ff.

  Spiritual work; its relation to time, 290 ff.

  Stability in life; how won, 251 ff.

  State, the; the greater emphasis upon it in the nineteenth century, 359

  Suffering and spiritual destitution, 314

  Syntheses of life; in history, 207 ff.

  Theodicy; rejected, 279 ff., 371

  Thought; its relation to life, 108, 126 ff., 141 ff., 349 ff.;
    its unique operation (in distinction from association), 125 ff.

  Time; fundamental relation of man to, 116 ff.

  Transcendent Spirituality; as the fundamental principle of religion,
      278 ff.

  Transcendental method; in what sense justifiable, 248

  Truth, conception of; its history, 138;
    new conception, 216 ff.

  Work; its distinctive character, 122;
    its power to develop, 201 ff.;
    the world of work, 201 ff.

  World, conceptions of the; chief types, 353 ff.

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Eucken's influence as a thinker has for long been felt far beyond the
borders of his native land. Translations of his books have appeared in
many foreign languages, including French, Italian, Swedish, Finnish and
Russian. In our own country such articles on Eucken's works as have
appeared quite recently in the _Times_, the _Guardian_, and the
_Inquirer_ are significantly sympathetic and appreciative. 'It seems
likely,' writes the reviewer in the _Guardian_, 'that for the next
decade Eucken will be the leading guide for the pilgrims of thought who
walk on the Idealist Road.'


  "There are scores of passages throughout the volume one would like to
  quote--the thinking of a man of clearest vision and loftiest outlook
  on the fabric of life as men are fashioning it to-day. It is a volume
  for Churchmen and politicians of all shades and parties, for the
  student and for the man of business, for the workshop as well--a
  volume for every one who is seriously interested in the great business
  of life."--_Aberdeen Journal._







  With Frontispiece Portrait of Rudolf Eucken

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  The New Idealism: Eucken's Philosophy a Rallying-point for Idealistic
  His Theory of Knowledge
  His Philosophy of History
  The Meaning of a Historical Fact
  The Break with Aristotelianism and Aquinism
  Eucken's Criticism of the Naturalistic Syntagma
  The Great Alternative: Individuality or Personality
  The Category of Action
  Eucken's View of Revelation
  The Problem of the Union of Human and Divine
  The New Spiritual Immediacy
  The Spiritual Life as Eucken conceives it: its Intrinsically
    Oppositional Character
  Eucken's Philosophy as a Philosophy of Freedom
  The New Idealism as a Religious Idealism

  "No reader should fail to find pleasure in a book so full of fresh and
  stimulating thought, expressed with great felicity of language."

    _The Scottish Review_

  "It is done with just the proper combination of sympathy and
  criticism."--_The British Weekly_


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