Mo.) Congress of Arts and Science (1904 : Saint Louis.

Congress of Arts and Science : universal exposition, St. Louis, 1904 online

. (page 12 of 68)
Online LibraryMo.) Congress of Arts and Science (1904 : Saint LouisCongress of Arts and Science : universal exposition, St. Louis, 1904 → online text (page 12 of 68)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

tion which we accept or decline. In our immediate experience will
thus reaches will, and we are aware of the difference between our will-
attitude as merely individual and our will-attitude as act of agree-
ment with the will-attitude of other individuals. We can go still
further. The circle of other individuals whose will we express in our
own wiU-act may be narrow or wide, may be our friends or the nation,
and this relation clearly constitutes the historical significance of our
attitude. In the one case our act is a merely personal choice for
personal purposes without any general meaning; in the other case it
is the expression of general tendencies and historical movements. Yet
our will-decisions can have connections still wider than those with our
social community or our nation, or even with all living men of to-day.


It can seek a relation to the totality of those whom we aim to acknow-
ledge as real subjects. It thus becomes independent of the chance
experience of this or that man, or this or that movement, which
appeals to us, but involves in an independent way the reference to
every one who is to be acknowledged as a subject at all. Such refer-
ence, which is no longer bound to any special group of historical in-
dividuals, thus becomes strictly over-individual. We can then dis-
criminate three stages: our merely individual will; secondly, our will
as bound by other historical individuals; and thirdly, our over-
individual will, which is not influenced by any special individual,
but by the general demands for the idea of a personality.

Each of those four great types of will-attitude which we insisted on
— that is, of submitting, of approving the given, of approving change,
and of transcending — can be carried ou^ on these three stages, that
is, as individual act, as historical act, and as over-individual act.
And we may say at once that only if we submit and approve and
change and transcend in an over-individual act, do we have Truth
and Beauty and Morality and Conviction. If we approve, for instance,
a given experience in an individual will-act, we have simply personal
enjoyment and its object is simply agreeable; if we approve it in har-
mony with other individuals, we reach a higher attitude, yet one which
cannot claim absolute value, as it is dependent on historical considera-
tions and on the tastes and desires of a special group or a school or a
nation or an age. But if we approve the given object just as it is in an
over-individual will-act, then we have before us a thing of beauty,
whose value is not dependent upon our personal enjoyment as indi-
viduals, but is demanded as a joy forever, by every one whom we
acknowledge at all as a complete subject. In exactly the same way,
we may approve a change in the world from any individual point of
view: we have then to do with technical, practical achievements; or
we may approve it in agreement with others: we then enter into the
historical interests of our time. Or we may approve it, finally, in an
over-individual way, without any reference to any special person-
ality: then only is it valuable for all time, then only is it morally good.
And if our will is transcending experience in an individual way, it can
again claim no more than a subjective satisfaction furnished by any
superstition or hope. But if the transcending will is over-individual,
it reaches the absolute values of religion and metaphysics.

Exactly the same differences, finally, must occur when our will sub-
mits itself to experience. This submission may be, again, an individ-
ual decision for individual purposes; no absolute value belongs to it.
Or it may be again a yielding to the suggestions of other individuals;
or it may, finally, again be an over-individual submission, which seeks
no longer a personal interest. This submission is not to the authority
of others, and is without reference to any individual; we assume


that every one who is to share with us our world of experience has to
share this submission too. That alone is a submission to truth, and
experience, considered in so far as we submit ourselves to it over-
individually, constitutes our knowledge.

The system of knowledge is thus the system of experience with all
that is involved in it in so far as it demands submission from our over-
individual will, and the classification which we are seeking must be
thus a division and subdivision of our over-individual submissions.
But the submission itself can be of very different characters and these
various types must give the deepest logical principles of scientific
classification. To point at once to the fundamental differences: our
will acknowledges the demands of other wills and of objects. We can-
not live our life — and this is not meant in a biological sense, but,
first of all, in a teleological sense — our life becomes meaningless, if
our will does not respect the reality of will-demands and of objects of
will. Now we have seen that the will which demands our decision may
be either the individual will of other subjects or the over-individual
will, which belongs to every subject as such and is independent of any
individuality. We can say at once that in the same way we are led to
acknowledge that the object has partly an over-individual character,
that is, necessarily belongs to the world of objects of every possible
subject, and partly an individual character, as our personal object.
We have thus four large groups of experiences to which we submit
ourselves: over-individual will-acts, individual will-acts, over-indi-
vidual objects, individual objects. They constitute the first four large
divisions of our system.

The over-individual will-acts, which are as such teleologically bind-
ing for every subject and therefore norms for his will, give us the
Normative Sciences. The individual will-acts in the world of historical
manifoldness give us the Historical Sciences. The objects, in so far
as they belong to every individual, make up the physical world, and
thus give us the Physical Sciences; and finally the objects, in so far
as they belong to the individual, are the contents of consciousness,
and thus give us the Mental Sciences. We have then the demarca-
tion lines of our first four large divisions : the Normative, the Histor-
ical, the Physical, and the Mental Sciences. Yet their meaning and
method and difference must be characterized more fully. We must
understand why we have here to deal with four absolutely different
types of scientific systems, why the over-individual objects lead us
to general laws and to the determination of the future, while the study
of the individual will-acts, for instance, gives us the system of history,
which turns merely to the past and does not seek natural laws; and
why the study of the norms gives us another kind of system in which
neither a causal nor an historical, but a purely logical connection pre-
vails. Yet all these methodological differences result necessarily from


the material with which these four different groups of sciences are

Let us start again from the consideration of our original logical
purpose. We feel ourselves bound and limited in our will by physical
things, by psychical contents, by the demands of other subjects, and
by norms. The purpose of all our knowledge is to develop completely
all that is involved in this bondage. We want to develop in an over-
individual way all the obligations for our submission which are
necessarily included in the given objects and the given demands of
subjects. We start of course everywhere and in every direction from
the actual experience, but we expand the experience by seeking those
objects and those demands to which, as necessarily following from the
immediately given experience, we must also submit. And in thus
developing the whole system of submissions, the interpretation of
the experience itself becomes transformed: the physicist may per-
haps substitute imperceptible atoms for the physical object and the
psychologist may substitute sensations for the real idea, and the
historian may substitute combinations of influences for the real per-
sonality, and the student of norms may substitute combinations of
conflicting demands for the one complete duty; yet in every case the
substitution is logically necessary and furnishes us what we call truth
inasmuch as it is needed to develop the concrete system of our sub-
missions and thus to express our confidence in the order-lines of real-
ity. And each of these substitutions and supplementations becomes,
as material of knowledge, itself a part of the world of experience.

3. The' Physical and the Mental Sciences

The physicist, we said, speaks of the world of objects in so far as
they belong to every possible subject, and are material for a merely
passive spectator. Of course the pure experience does not offer us any-
thing of that kind. We insisted that the objects of our real life are
objects of our will and of our attitudes, and are at the same time un-
diffeyentiated into the physical things outside of us and the psychical
ideas in us. To reach the abstraction of the physicist, we have thus to
cut loose the objects from our will and to separate the over-individual
elements from the individual elements. Both transformations are
clearly demanded by our logical aims. As to the cutting loose from our
will, it means considering the object as if it existed for itself, as if it
were a mere passively given material and not a material of our per-
sonal interests. But just that is needed. We want to find out how
far we have to submit ourselves to the object. If we want to live our
life, we must adjust our attitudes to things, and, as we know our will,
we must seek to understand the other factor in the complex experi-
ence, the object of our will, and we must find out what it involves in


itself. But we do not understand the object and the submission which
it demands if we do not completely understand its relation to our
desires. Our total submission to the thing thus involves our acknow-
ledgment of all that we have to expect from it. And although the
real experience is a unity of will and thing, we have thus the most
immediate interest in considering what we have to expect from the
thing in itself, without reference to our will. That means finding out
the effects of the given object with a subject as the passive spec-
tator. We eliminate artificially, therefore, the activity of the subject
and construct as presupposition for this circle of knowledge a nowhere
existing subject without activity, for which the thing exists merely
as a cause of the effects which it produces.

The first step towards natural science is, therefore, to dissolve
the real experience into thing and personality; that is, into object
and active subject, and to eliminate in an artificial abstraction the
activity of the subject, making the object material of merely passive
awareness, and related no longer to the will but merely to other
objects. It may be more difficult to understand the second step which
naturalism has to take before a natural science is possible. It must
dissolve the object of will into an over-individual and an individual
part and must eliminate the individual. That part of my objects
which belongs to me alone is their psychical side; that which belongs
to all of us and is the object of ever new experience is the physical
object. As a physicist, in the widest sense of the word, I have to ignore
the objects in so far as they are my ideas and have to consider the
stones and the stars, the inorganic and the organic objects, as they
are outside of me, material for every one. The logical purpose of this
second abstraction may be perhaps formulated in the following way.

We have seen that the purpose of the study of the objects is to find
out what we have to expect from them; that is, to what effects of the
given thing we have to submit ourselves in anticipation. The ideal
aim is thus to understand completely how present objects and future
objects — that is, how causes and effects — are connected. The first
stage in such knowledge of causal connections is, of course, the obser-
vation of empirical consequences. Our feeling of expectation grows
with the regularity of observed succession; yet the ideal aim can
never be fulfilled in that way. The mere observation of regularities
can help us to reduce a particular case to a frequently observed type,
but what we seek to understand is the necessity of the process. Of
course we have to formulate laws, and as soon as we acknowledge
a special law to be expressive of a necessity, the subsumption of the
particular case under the law will satisfy us even if the necessity of the
connection is not recognized in the particular case. We are satisfied
because the acknowledgment of the law involved all possible cases.
But we do not at all feel that we have furnished a real explanation if


the law means to us merely a generalization of routine experiences,
and if thus no absolute validity is attached to the law. This necessity
between cause and effect must thus have its ultimate reason in our
own understanding. We must be logically obliged to connect the
objects in such a way, and wherever observation seems to contradict
that which is logically necessary, we must reshape our idea of the
object till the demands of reason are fulfilled. That is, we must sub-
stitute for the given object an abstraction which serves the purpose of
a logically necessary connection. That demand is clearly not satisfied
if we simply group the totality of such causal judgments under the
single name. Causality, and designate thus all these judgments as
results of a special disposition of the understanding. We never under-
stand why just this cause demands just this effect so long as we rely
on such vague and mystical power of our reason to link the world by

But the situation changes at once if we go still further back in the
categories of our understanding. While a mere demand for causality
never explains what cause is to be linked with what effect, the vague-
ness disappears when we understand this demand for causality itself
as the product of a more fundamental demand for identity. That an
object remains identical with itself does not need for us any further
interpretation. That is the ultimate presupposition of our thought,
and where a complete identity is found nothing demands further
explanation. All scientific effort aims at so rethinking different ex-
periences that they can be regarded as partially identical, and every
discovery of necessary connection is ultimately a demonstration of
identity. If we seek connections with the final aim to understand
them as necessary, we must conceive the world of our objects in such
a way that it is possible to consider the successive experiences as parts
of a self-identical world; that is, as parts of a world in which no sub-
stance and no energy can disappear or appear anew. To reach this end
it is obviously needed that we eliminate from the world of objects all
that cannot be conceived as identically returning in a new experience;
that is, all that belongs to the present experience only. We do elimin-
ate this by taking it up conceptually into the subject and calling it
psychical, and thus leaving to the object merely that which is con-
ceived as belonging to the world of everybody's experience, that is, of
over-individual experience. The whole history of natural science is
first of all the gigantic development of this transformation, resolution,
and reconstruction. The objects of experience are re-thought till
everything is eliminated which cannot be conceived as identical with
itself in the experiences of all individuals and thus as belonging to the
over-individual world. All the substitutions of atoms for the real thing,
and of energies for the real changes, are merely conceptional schemes
to satisfy this demand.


The logically primary step is thus not the separation of the physical
and the psychical things plus the secondary demand to connect the
physical things causally; the order is exactly opposite. The primary
desire is to connect the real objects and to understand them as causes
and effects. This understanding demands not only empirical observa-
tion, but insight into the necessary connection. Necessary connec-
tion, on the other hand, exists merely for identical objects and identi-
cal qualities. But in the various experiences only that is identical
which is independent of the momentary individual experiences, and
therefore we need as the ultimate aim a reconstruction of the object
into the two parts, the one perceptional, which refers to our individual
experience; and the other conceptional, which expresses that which
can be conceived as identical in every new experience. The ideal of
this constructed world is the mechanical universe in which every
atom moves by causal necessity because there is nothing in that
universe, no element of substance and no element of energy, which
will not remain identical in all changes of the universe which are pos-
sibly to be expected. It becomes completely determinable by antici-
pation and the system of our submissions to the object can be com-
pletely constructed. The totality of intellectual efforts to reconstruct
such a causally connected over-individual world of objects clearly
represents a unity of its own. It is the system of physical sciences.

The physical universe is thus not the totality of our objects. It is a
substitution for our real objects, constructed by eliminating the indi-
vidual parts of our objects of experience. These individual parts are
the psychical aspects of our objective experience, and they clearly
awake our scientific interest too. The physical sciences need thus as
counterpart a division of mental sciences. Their aim must be the same.
We want to foresee the psychical results and to understand causally
the psychical experience. Yet it is clear that the plan of the mental
sciences must be quite different in principle from that of the sciences
of nature. The causal connection of the physical universe was ulti-
mately anchored in the identity of the object through various experi-
ences; while the object of experience was psychical for us just in so
far as it could never be conceived as identical in different phases of
reality. The psychical object is an ever new creation; my idea can
never be your idea. Their meaning may be identical, but the psych-
ical stuff, the content of my consciousness, can never be object for
any one else, and even in. myself the idea of to-day is never the idea
of yesterday or to-morrow. But if there cannot be identity in different
psychical experiences, it is logically impossible to connect them
directly by necessity. If we yet want to master their successive
appearance, we must substitute an indirect connection for the direct
one, and must describe and explain the psychical phenomena through
reference to the physical world. It is in this way that modern psycho-


logy has substituted elementary sensations for the real contents of
consciousness and has constructed relations between these element-
ary mental states on the basis of processes in the organism, especially
brain processes. Here, again, reality is left behind and a mere concep-
tional construction is put in its place. But this construction fulfills
its purpose and thus gives us truth; and if the basis is once given, the.
psychological sciences can build up a causal system of the conscious
processes in the individual man and in society.

4. The Historical and the Normative Sciences

The two divisions of the physical and mental sciences represent our
systematized submission to objects. But we saw from the first that it
is an artificial abstraction to consider in our real experience the object
alone. We saw clearly that we, as acting personalities, in our will and
in our attitudes, do not feel ourselves in relation to objects, merely, but
to will-acts; and that these will-acts were the individual ones of other
subjects or the over-individual ones which come to us in our conscious-
ness of norms. The sciences which deal with our submissions to the
individual will-acts of others are the Historical Sciences. Their start-
ing-point is the same as that of the object sciences, the immediate
experience. But the other subjects reach our individuality from the
start in a different way from the objects. The wills of other subjects
come to us as propositions with which we have to agree or disagree;
as suggestions, which we are to imitate or to resist; and they carry in
themselves that reference to an opposite which, as we saw, character-
izes all will-activity. The rock or the tree in our surroundings may
stimulate our reactions, but does not claim to be in itself a decision
with an alternative. But the political or legal or artistic or social or
religious will of my neighbors not only demands my agreement or
disagreement, but presents itself to me in its own meaning as a free
decision which rejects the opposite, and its whole meaning is de-
stroyed if I consider it like the tree or the rock as a mere phenom-
enon, as an object in the world of objects. Whoever has clearly
understood that politics and religion and knowledge and art and law
come to me from the first quite differently from objects, can never
doubt that their systematic connection must be most sharply sepa-
rated from all the sciences which connect impressions of objects, and
is falsified if the historical disciplines are treated simply as parts of
the sciences of phenomena — for instance, as parts of sociology, the
science of society as a psycho-physical object.

Just as natural science transcends the immediately experienced
object and works out the whole system of our necessary submissions
to the world of objects, so the historical sciences transcend the social
will-acts which approach us in our immediate experience, and again


seek to find what we are really submitting to if we accept the sugges-
tions of our social surroundings. And yet this similar demand has
most dissimilar consequences. We submit to an object and want to
find out what we are really submitting to. That cannot mean any-
thing else, as we have seen, than to seek the effects of the object and
thus to look forward to what we have to expect from the object.
On the other hand, if we want to find out what we are really sub-
mitting to if we agree with the decision of our neighbor, the only
meaning of the question can be to ask what our neighbor really is
deciding on, what is contained in his decision; and as his decision
must mean an agreement or disagreement with the will-act of another
subject, we cannot understand the suggestion which comes to us
without understanding in respect to what propositions of others it
takes a stand. Our interest is in this case thus led from those sub-
jects of will which enter into our immediate experience to other sub-
jects whose purposes stand in the relation of suggestion and demand
to the present ones. And if we try to develop the system of these
relations, we come to an endless chain of will-relations, in which one
individual will always points back in its decisions to another indi-
vidual will with which it agrees or disagrees, which it imitates or
overcomes by a new attitude of will; and the whole network of these
will-relations is the political or religious or artistic or social history
of mankind. This system of history as a system of teleologically
connected will-attitudes is elaborated from the will-propositions
which reach us in immediate experience, with the same necessity
with which the mechanical universe of natural science is worked out
from the objects of our immediate experience.

The historical system of will-connections is similar to the system of
object-connections, not only in its starting in the immediate experi-
ence, but further in its also seeking identities. Without this feature
history would not offer to our understanding real connections. We
must link the will-attitudes of men by showing the identity of the
alternatives. Just as the physical thing is substituted by a large
number of atoms which remain identical in the causal changes, in
the same way the personality is substituted by an endless manifold-

Online LibraryMo.) Congress of Arts and Science (1904 : Saint LouisCongress of Arts and Science : universal exposition, St. Louis, 1904 → online text (page 12 of 68)