Infomotions, Inc.Johann Gottlieb Fichte's popular works : The nature of the scholar ; The vocation of man ; The doctrine of religion : with a memoir / by William Smith. / Fichte, Johann Gottlieb, 1762-1814

Author: Fichte, Johann Gottlieb, 1762-1814
Title: Johann Gottlieb Fichte's popular works : The nature of the scholar ; The vocation of man ; The doctrine of religion : with a memoir / by William Smith.
Publisher: London : Trčubner, 1873.
Tag(s): fichte; istence; vocation; scholar
Contributor(s): Eric Lease Morgan (Infomotions, Inc.)
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Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 201,818 words (longer than most) Grade range: 14-18 (college) Readability score: 45 (average)
Identifier: johanngottlieb00fichuoft
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M E M O I R 



AT the time of the great religious division, when Germany 
was torn by internal factions and ravaged by foreign armies 
when for thirty years the torch of devastation never ceased 
to blaze, nor the groan of misery to ascend on high, a skir 
mish took place near the village of Rammenau, in Upper 
Lusatia, between some Swedish troops and a party of the 
Catholic army. A subaltern officer who had followed the 
fortunes of Gustavus was left on the field severely wound 
ed. The kind and simple-hearted villagers were eager to 
render him every aid which his situation required, and be 
neath the roof of one of them, a zealous Lutheran, he was 
tended until returning health enabled him either to rejoin 
his companions in arms or return to his native land. But 
the stranger had found an attraction stronger than those of 
war or home, he continued an inmate in the house of his 
protector and became his son-in-la\v. The old man s other 
sons having fallen in the w-ar the soldier inherited his 
simple possessions, and founded a family whose generations 
flowed on in peaceful obscurity until its name w r as made 
illustrious by the subject of the following memoir. 

The village of Rammenau is situated in a beautiful and 
well-cultivated district, diversified by wooded slopes and 
watered by numerous streams. Its inhabitants are a frugal 



and industrious people, and preserve, even to the present 
day, the simple and unaffected manners of their forefathers. 
Amid this community, withdrawn alike from the refine 
ments and the corruptions of more polished society, the des- 
cendents of the Swedish soldier bore an honourable reputation 
for those manly virtues of our nature which find in poverty 
a rugged but congenial soil. Firmness of purpose, sterling 
honesty in their dealings, and immovable uprightness of 
conduct, became their family characteristics. From this 
worthy stock the subject of our memoir took his descent. 
The grandfather of the philosopher, who alone out of a nu 
merous family remained resident in his native place, inher 
ited from his predecessor, along with the little patrimonial 
property, a small trade in ribbons, the product of his own 
loom, which he disposed of to the inhabitants of the village 
and its vicinity. Desirous that his eldest son, Christian 
Fichte, should extend this business beyond the limited 
sphere in which he practised it himself, he sent him as ap 
prentice to Johann Schurich, a manufacturer of linen and 
ribbons in the neighbouring town of Pulsnitz, in order that 
he might there learn his trade more perfectly than he could 
do at home. The son conducted himself well during his 
apprenticeship, rose high in the esteem of his master, and 
was at last received into the house as an inmate. He there 
succeeded in gaining the affections of Schurich s daughter. 
This attachment was for some time kept secret, in deference 
to the pride of the maiden s father; but his prejudices having 
been overcome, young Fichte brought home his bride to his 
native village, and with her dowry he built a house there, in 
which some of his descendents still follow the paternal oc 

JOHANN GOTTLIEB FICHTE was their first child, and was 
born on the 19th May 1762. At his baptism, an aged rela 
tive of the mother, who had come from a distance to be pre 
sent at the ceremony, and who was revered by all men for 
his wisdom and piety, foretold the future eminence of the 
child ; and as death soon afterwards set his seal upon the 


lips by which this prophecy had been uttered, it became in 
vested with all the sacredness of a deathbed prediction. 
Their faith in this anouncement induced the parents to al 
low their first-born an unusual degree of liberty, and by thus 
affording room for the development of his nature, the pre 
diction became in some measure the means of securing its 
own fulfilment. 

The boy soon displayed some characteristics of the future 
man. He seldom joined the other children in their games, 
but loved to wander forth into the fields, alone with his own 
thoughts. There he would stand for hours, his eyes fixed on 
the far distance, until he was roused from his trance and 
brought home by the shepherds, who knew and loved the 
solitary and meditative child. These thoughtful hours, in 
which the first germs of his spiritual nature were unfolded, 
left impressions upon him which the cares of future years 
never obliterated, and they always continued among his 
most cherished recollections. His first teacher was his own 
father, who after the business of the day was over and the 
garden work finished, instructed him in reading, and told 
him the story of his own journey ings in Saxony and Fran- 
conia. He was an eager scholar, soon mastered his Bible 
and Catechism, and even read the morning and evening 
prayers to the family circle. When he was seven years ^of 
age, his father, as a reward for his industry, brought him 
from the neighbouring town the story of Siegfried. He was 
soon so entirely rapt in this book, that he neglected ^his 
other lessons in order to indulge his fancy for it. This 
brought upon him a severe reproof; and finding that the 
beloved book stood between him and his duty, he with cha 
racteristic determination resolved to destroy it. He carried 
it to the brook which ran by his father s house, with the in 
tention of throwing it into the water, but long he hesitated 
before accomplishing his first act of self-denial. At length 
he cast it into the stream. No sooner, however, did he see 
it carried away from him, than regret for his loss trmmphe 
over his resolution, and he wept bitterly, His father dis 
covered him, and learned the loss of the book, but without 


learning the reason of it. Angry at the supposed slight 
cast upon his present, he punished the boy with unwonted 
severity. As in his childhood, so also in his after life, did 
ignorance of his true motives often cause Fichte to be mis 
understood and misrepresented. When this matter had 
been forgotten, his father bought him a similar book, but 
the boy refused to accept it, lest he should again be led into 

Young Fichte soon attracted the notice of the clergyman 
of the village, an excellent man who was beloved by the 
whole community. The pastor, perceiving that the boy pos 
sessed unusual abilities, allowed him frequently to come to 
his house in order to receive instruction, and resolved, if pos 
sible, to obtain for him a scientific education. An opportu 
nity of doing so accidently presented itself. When Fichte 
was about eight or nine years of age, the Freiherr von Miltitz, 
being on a visit to a nobleman resident in the neighbourhood, 
was desirous of hearing a sermon from the pastor of Kam- 
menau, (who had acquired some reputation as a preacher), 
but had arrived too late in the evening to gratify his wishes. 
Lamenting his disappointment, he was told that there was 
a boy in the village whose extraordinary memory enabled 
him to repeat faithfully any address which he had once heard. 
Little Gottlieb was sent for, and appeared before the company 
in his linen jacket, carrying a nosegay which his mother had 
placed in his hand. He astonished the assembled guests 
by his minute recollection of the morning s discourse and the 
earnestness with which he repeated it before them. The 
Freiherr, who belonged to one of the noblest families in 
Saxony, and possessed a high reputation for his disinterested 
benevolence and unaffected piety, determined to make fur 
ther inquiries respecting this extraordinary child ; and the 
friendly pastor having found the opportunity he wished, easily 
persuaded him to undertake the charge of the boy s educa 
tion. The consent of the parents having been with difficulty 
obtained, for they were reluctant to expose their son to 
the temptations of a noble house, young Fichte was con 
signed to the care of his new protector, who engaged to treat 
him as his own child. 


His first removal was to Siebeneichen (Sevenoaks), a seat 
on the Elbe belonging to the Freiherr. The stately solem 
nity of this place and the gloom of the surrounding forest 
scenery weighed heavily upon his spirits : he was seized with 
a deep melancholy, which threatened to injure his health. 
His kind foster-father prudently resolved to place him under 
the care of a clergyman in the neighbouring village of Nie- 
derau, who, himself without family, had a great love for 
children. Here Fichte spent the happiest years of his boy 
hood. He received the kindest attentions from his teacher, 
whose name he never mentioned in after years without the 
deepest and most grateful emotion. Here the foundation 
of his education was laid in a knowledge of the ancient lan 
guages ; and so rapid was his progress, that his instructor 
soon found his own learning insufficient for the further su 
perintendence of his pupil s studies. In his twelfth year he 
was sent by the Freiherr von Miltitz, first to the town school 
of Meissen, and soon afterwards to the public school of Pfor- 
ta near Raumburg. 

The school at Pforta retained many traces of its monk 
ish origin : the teachers and pupils lived in cells, and the 
boys were allowed to leave the interior only once a-week, 
and then under inspection, to visit a particular play-ground 
in the neighbourhood. The stiffest formalism pervaded the 
economy of this establishment, and every trait of indepen 
dence was carefully suppressed. In its antiquated routine, 
the living spirit of knowledge was unrecognised and the 
generous desire of excellence gave place to the petty arti 
fices of jealousy. Instead of the free communication, kind 
advice, and personal example of a home, secrecy, distrust, 
and deceit were the prevalent characterstics of the school. 

When he was scarcely thirteen years of age, Fichte entered 
this seminary; and henceforward he was alone in the world, 
cast upon his own resources, trusting to his own strength 
and guidance. So soon was he called upon to exercise that 
powerful and clear-sighted independence of character by 
which he was afterwards so much distinguished. 


The strange world into which he now entered, the gloom 
and confinement he encountered, so different from the free 
atmosphere of his native woods and mountains, made a deep 
impression on the boy. His sadness and tears exposed him 
to the mockery of his school-fellows : he wanted prudence 
to disregard them and courage to complain to a teacher. 

He determined to run away. Shame and the fear of be 
ing sent back to Pforta prevented him returning to his pro 
tector the Freiherr; he therefore conceived the idea of seek 
ing some distant island, where, like Robinson, he might lead 
a life of perfect freedom. But he would not steal away, he 
would make it evident that necessity drove him to the course 
which he adopted. He warned his senior, who oppressed 
him severely, that he would no longer suffer such treatment, 
and that if it were not amended he would leave the school. 
His threat was of course received with laughter and con 
tempt, and the boy now thought he might quit the place 
with honour. The opportunity was soon found, and he took 
the road to Raumburg. On the way he remembered the 
maxim of his old friend the pastor, that every undertaking 
should be begun with a petition for divine aid. He sunk to 
his knees on a rising ground. During prayer he called to 
mind his parents, their care for him, the grief which his sud 
den disappearance would cause them. " Never to see them 
again ! " this thought was too much for him : his joy and 
courage were already gone. He determined to return and con 
fess his fault. On the way back he met those who had been 
sent after him. When taken before the Rector, he admitted 
that it had been his intention to run away, but at the same 
time recounted so ingenuously the motives which had in 
duced him to take this step, that the Rector not only for 
gave him his fault, but resolved to take him under his own 
special protection. He obtained another senior, who soon 
gained his affections, and was afterwards his companion 
and friend at the University. 

From this time Fichte s residence at Pforta became 
gradually more agreeable to him. He entered zealously up 
on his studies, and found in them occupation, interest, and 


spiritual nourishment. The defects of his previous education 
were soon overcome by industry, and he found himself once 
more comfortable and happy. Among those older scholars 
with whom Fichte now associated, a spirit of independence 
sprang up, they laboured assiduously to set themselves 
free from the degrading influences of the school, and from 
the antiquated and worn-out notions held by most of the 
teachers. The praise or blame of these masters was little 
valued among them if they could secure the esteem of each 
other. Books imbued with the new spirit of free inquiry 
were secretly obtained, and, in spite of the strictest prohi 
bitions, great part of the night was spent in their perusal. 
The works of Wioland, Lessing, and Goethe were positively 
forbidden ; yet they found their way within the walls, and 
were eagerly studied. Lessing s controversy with Goze made 
a deep impression upon Fichte : each successive number of 
the Anti-Gaze he almost committed to memory. A new 
spiritual life was awakened within him : he understood for 
the first time the meaning of scientific knowledge, and cast 
off the thraldom of scholastic pedantry. Lessing became to 
him an object of such deep reverence that he determined 
to devote his first days of freedom to seek a personal inter 
view with his mental liberator. But this plan was frustrated 
by want of money; and when afterwards it might have been 
carried into execution, an untimely death had deprived 
Germany of her boldest thinker. 

In 1780, Fichte, then eighteen years of age, entered the 
University of Jena. He joined the theological faculty, not 
so much, probably, by his own choice as by desire of his 
parents and protector. By his interest in other branches of 
science, and by the marked direction of his mind to clear 
ness and certainty of knowledge, it soon becaae evident that 
he would not accept the shortest and easiest way to the com 
pletion of his studies. Nothing definite is known of the 
early progress of his mind, but his later productions leave no 
doubt of its general tendency. He must soon have been 
struck with the disparity between the form of theology as it 


was then taught, and the wants of a philosophic intellect, 
Fichte s nature could only be satisfied with a consistent theory, 
deduced, through all its ramifications, from one fundamental 
principle. We may conjecture what doubts and obscurities 
dogmatic theology must have presented to his mind at this 
time, when we recollect that, even at an after period of his life, 
he still interested himself in the task of reconciling faith 
with knowledge, revelation with science. He attended a 
course of Dogmatics by C. F. Pezold, at Leipzic, to which 
place he had removed from Jena ; and in the attempt to 
attain a clear comprehension of the theological doctrines of 
the attributes of God, the creation, the freedom of the will, 
&c., he encountered unexpected difficulties, which led him 
into a wider circle of inquiry, and finally drove him to aban 
don the theological for the philosophical point of view. Thus 
his philosophical speculations had their origin in an attempt 
to create a tenable system of dogmatics, and to obtain light 
on the higher questions of theology. 

Some hints as to the early direction of his philosophical 
studies may be gathered from his letters written about this 
time. The question which chiefly engaged his attention seems 
to have been thatJLiberty and Necessity. Rejecting the doc 
trine of Free-will considered as absolute indifferent self-deter 
mination^ he adopted the view, which, to distinguish it from 
fatalism, may be named determinism. Every complete and 
consistent philosophy contains a deterministic side, for the 
thought of an all-directing Unity is the beginning and end 
of profound investigation. Fatalism sees in this highest 
Unity a dark and mysterious Nemesis, an unconscious me 
chanical necessity : determinism, the highest disposing Reason, 
the infinite Spirit and God, to whom the determination of 
each living being is not only to be referred, but in whom 
alone it becomes clear and intelligible. 

Fichte seems to have adopted this view apart from any 
foreign influence ; for he was as yet unacquainted with Spi 
noza, its most consistent expounder, whom he had only 
heard spoken of as an abstruse atheist. He communicated 
his opinions to a Saxon preacher, who had the reputation of 


distinguished philosophical attainments and was well versed 
in the Wolffian metaphysics. He was informed that he had 
adopted Spinozism, and it was through Wolff s refutation 
that he first became acquainted with that profound and 
systematic thinker. He engaged in the study of Spinoza s 
fithica, and that great work made a deep impression upon 
him, as upon every other earnest student. Prolonged inves 
tigation, however, rendered him dissatisfied with these views ; 
the indestructible feeling of internal independence and 
freedom, rendered doubly powerful by the energy of his own 
character, could neither be removed, nor explained on an 
exclusively deterministic theory, which must ultimately have 
come into collision with his deepest spiritual want, to look 
upon freedom self-determination as the only true and real 
being. This original tendency of his mind prepared him 
afterwards for the enthusiastic reception of the doctrines of 
Kant, and is, in fact, the very root of his own " Wissenschafts- 
lehre," which in this respect stands opposed to the doctrine 
of Spinoza, although there is, notwithstanding, an essential 
affinity between these two greatest systems of modern phi 
losophy. Thus has every great theory its foundation in the 
individual character, and is indeed but the scientific expres 
sion of the spiritual life of its originator. 

Amid these lofty speculations, poverty, the scholar s bride, 
knocked at his door, and roused him to that struggle with 
the world, in which so many purchase ease with degradation, 
but in which men such as he find strength, confidence and 
triumph. His generous benefactor was now dead, and he 
was thrown on his own resources. From 1784 to 1788 he 
earned a precarious livelihood by acting as tutor in various 
houses in Saxony. His studies were desultory and interrup 
ted : he had not even the means of procuring books ; the 
strength which should have been devoted to his own men 
tal cultivation was wasted in obtaining a scanty subsistence. 
But amid all his privations his courage never deserted him, 
nor the inflexible determination, which was not so much an 
act of his will as a law of his nature, to pursue truth for her 
own sake and at all hazards. " It is our business," says he 



on another occasion "it is our business to be true to our 
selves : the result is altogether in the hands of providence." 
His favourite plan of life at this period, and for a long time 
afterwards, was to become a village pastor in Saxony, and 
amid the leisure which he should find in that occupation, to 
prosecute, without disturbance, his own mental culture. But 
his theological studies were not completed, and he was with 
out the means of continuing them. In 1787 he addressed 
a letter to the President of the Consistory, requesting to be 
allowed a share of the support which many poor students 
enjoy at the Saxon Universities, until the following Easter, 
when he should be ready to present himself before the Con 
sistory for examination. " I have never," he says, "partaken 
in the public provision for students, nor have I enjoyed an 
allowance of any kind, although my poverty can be clearly 
proved. Is it not possible, then, to allow me a maintenance 
sufficient for this short time, that I may be enabled to de 
vote myself to theology until Easter ? . . . . Without 
this, my residence at Leipzic is of no avail to me, for I am 
compelled to give all my time to heterogeneous pursuits, in 

order that I may even live Should it please 

you to grant my request, I assure you by all that I hold 
sacred, that I will devote myself entirely to this object ; that 
I will consecrate my life to the Fatherland which supported 
me at school, and which since then has only become dearer 
to me; and that I will come before the High Consistory, pre 
pared for my examination, and submit my future destiny to 
its wisdom." No notice was taken of his request, partly, it 
may be conjectured, on account of doubts which were enter 
tained of his orthodoxy a reason which closed the gates of 
preferment against his friend Weisshuhn and many others. 

In May 1788, every prospect had closed around him, and 
every honourable means of advancement seemed to be 
exhausted. The present was utterly barren, and there was 
no hope in the future. It is needful that natures like his 
should be nurtured in adversity that they may discover their 
own strength ; prosperity might lull into an inglorious slum- 


her the energies for whose appearance the world is waiting. 
He would not disclose his helpless situation to any of his 
well-wishers, but the proud consciousness of his own worth 
enabled him, amid unmerited sufferings, to oppose the bold 
front of human dignity against the pressure of opposing cir 

It was the eve of his birthday. With unavailing anxiety 
he had again pondered all his projects, and found all alike 
hopeless. The world had cast him out, his country re 
fused him food, he thought his last birthday was at hand ; 
but he was determined that his honour, all that he could 
now call his own, should remain unsullied. Full of bitter 
thoughts, he returned to his solitary lodging. He found a 
letter awaiting him : it was from his friend, the tax-collector 
Weissc, requesting him to come immediately to his house. 
He there placed in Fichte s hands an offer of a tutorship in 
a private family in Zurich. The sudden revulsion of feeling 
in the young man could not be concealed, and led to an ex 
planation of his circumstances. The offer was at once ac 
cepted, and, aided by this kind friend in the necessary ar 
rangements, he set out for Switzerland in 1788. His scanty 
means compelled him to travel on foot, but his heart was 
light, and the fresh hope of youth shone brightly on his path. 
Disappointment, privation and bondage, had been his close 
companions ; but these were now left behind him, and he 
was to find an asylum in Liberty s own mountain-home, 
in the land which Tell had consecrated to all future ages as 
the sacred abode of truth and freedom. 

He arrived at Zurich on the 1st of September, and imme 
diately entered upon his office. His employer was a wealthy 
citizen of Zurich, who having raised himself above many of 
the narrow prejudices of his class, had resolved to bestow a 
liberal education upon his children. A boy of ten and a girl 
of seven years of age were committed to Fichte s care. In 
the prosecution of his duties he soon found himself hampered 
by the prejudices of tbo mother, who became jealous of her 
children being educated for something more than citizens of 


Zurich. Although the father, who was a man of consider 
able intelligence, was fully sensible of the benefits which a 
higher education must necessarily confer upon his family, 
yet his partner raised such a determined opposition to his 
plans, that it required all Fichte s firmness of purpose to 
maintain his position. These duties occupied him the greater 
part of the day, but he also engaged in some minor literary 
pursuits. His philosophical studies were in the mean time 
laid aside. At the request of a friend who had sketched out 
the plan of a scriptural epos, he wrote an essay on this form 
of poetry, with special reference to Klopstock s Messias. He 
also translated some of the odes of Horace, and the whole 
of Sallust, with an introduction on the style and character 
of this author. He preached occasionally in Zurich, at 
Flaach, and at several other places in the neighbourhood, 
with distinguished success. He likewise drew out a plan for 
the establishment of a school of oratory in Zurich, which how 
ever was never realised. 

In the circle of his friends at Zurich were Lavater, Stein- 
bruchel, Hottinger, and particularly the Canons Tobler and 
Pfenniger. In his letters he speaks also of Achelis a candi 
date of theology from Bremen, and Escher a young poet, as 
his intimate friends : the latter died soon after Ficbte s 
departure from Switzerland. 

But of all the friendships which he formed here, the most 
important in its influence upon his future life was that of 
Hartmann Rahn, whose house was in a manner the centre 
of the cultivated society of Zurich. Rahn was the brother- 
in-law of Klopstock, with whom he had formed a close friend 
ship during the poet s visit to Switzerland in 1750, and with 
whose eldest sister Johanna he was afterwards united. From 
this marriage with Klopstock s sister sprang, besides several 
other children, their eldest daughter Johanna Maria, who at 
a later period became Fichte s wife. The foundation of her 
character was deep religious feeling, and an unusual strength 
and faithfulness of affection. Her mother dying while she 
was yet young, she devoted herself entirely to her father, and 
to his comfort sacrificed worldly show and many proffered 


alliances. As her family occupied a much higher station in 
point of worldly importance than any to which Fichte could, 
at that time, reasonably aspire, her engagement with him 
was the result of disinterested attachment alone. Fichte s 
love was worthy of the noble-minded woman who called it 
forth. It was a devotion of his whole nature, enthusiastic 
like his love for his country, dignified like his love of know 
ledge, but softened by the deepest tenderness of an earnest 
and passionate soul. But on this subject he must speak for 
himself. The following are extracts from letters addressed 
to Johanna Rahn, while he resided at Zurich, or during short 
occasional absences. They reveal a singularly interesting 
and instructive picture of the confidential relations subsisting 
between two minds, in whom the warmest affections and 
deepest tenderness of which our nature is susceptible were 
dignified by unaffected respect for each other, and ennobled 
by the purest aspirations of humanity. It is necessary to 
premise that the termination of his engagement, at Easter 
1790, led to the departure from Zurich which is alluded to 
in some of these passages. Fichte, tired of the occupation 
of a tutor, particularly where his views of a generous, com 
prehensive, and systematic education were thwarted by the 
caprices and prejudices of others, was desirous of obtaining 
a situation of a higher nature, and Rahn, through his con 
nexions in Denmark, endeavoured to promote his views. 

fUtto to SJo^anna &af)n. 

" I hasten to answer your questions Whether my friend 
ship for you has not arisen from the want of other female 
society ? I think I can answer this question decidedly. I 
have been acquainted with many women, and held many dif 
ferent relations with them. I believe I have experienced, if 
not all the different degrees, yet all the different kinds, of 
feeling towards your sex, but I have never felt towards any 
as I feel towards you. No one else has called forth this 
perfect confidence, without the remotest suspicion of any dis 
simulation on your part, or the least desire to conceal any- 


thing from you on mine, this wish to be wholly known to 
you even as I am, this attachment, in which difference of 
sex has not the remotest perceptible influence (for farther can 
no mortal know his own heart), this true esteem for your 
spiritual nature, and acquiescence in whatever you resolve 
upon. Judge, then, whether it be for want of other female 
society that you have made an impression upon me which 
no one else has done, and taught me a new mode of feeling. 
Whether I will forget you when distant ? Does man 
forget a new mode of being and its cause ?" 

" The warm sympathy which appears in all these in 
quiries, the delightful kindness you have shown me on all 
occasions, the rapture which I feel when I know that am 
not indifferent to such a person, these, dearest, deserve that 
I should say nothing to you which is profaned by flattery, 
and that he whom you consider worthy of your friendship 
should not debase himself by a false modesty. Your own fair, 
open soul deserves that I should never seem to doubt its 
pure expression, and hence I promise, on my side too, perfect 



" Whether there can be love without esteem ? Oh yes, 
thou dear, pure one ! Love is of many kinds. Rousseau 
proves that by his reasoning, and still better by his example. 
1 La pauvre Maman and Madame N love in very dif 
ferent fashions. But I believe there are many kinds of love 
which do not appear in Rousseau s life. You are very right 
in saying that no true and enduring love can exist without 
cordial esteem ; that every other draws regret after it, and 
is unworthy of any noble human soul. 

" One word about pietism. Pietists place religion chiefly 
in externals; in acts of worship performed mechanically, with 
out aim, as bond-service to God ; in orthodoxy of opinion, 
&c. &c. ; and they have this among other characteristic marks, 
that they give themselves more solicitude about others piety 
than their own. It is not right to hate these men, we 
should hate no one, but to me they are very contemptible, 
for their character implies the most deplorable emptiness of 


the head, and the most sorrowful perversion of the heart. 
Such my dear friend can never be ; she cannot become such, 
even were it possible which it is not that her character 
were perverted ; she can never become such, her nature has 
too much reality in it. Your trust in Providence, your an 
ticipations of a future life, are wise and Christian. I hope, 
if I may venture to speak of myself, that no one will take 
me to be a pietist or stiff formalist, but I know no feelings 
more thoroughly interwoven with my soul than these are." 

* * * * *- -:;.- 

" I am once more within these walls, which are only dear 
to me because they enclose you ; and when again left to my 
self, to my solititude, to my own thoughts, my soul flies 
directly to your presence. How is this ? It is but three days 
since I have seen you, and I must often be absent from you 
for a longer period than that. Distance is but distance, and 
I am equally separated from you in Flaach or in Zurich. 
But how comes it that this absence has seemed to me longer 
than usual, that my heart longs more earnestly to be with 
you, that I imagine I have not seen you for a Aveek ? Have 
I philosophized falsely of late about distance ? Oh that our 
feelings must still contradict the firmest conclusions of our 
reason ! " 

" You know doubtless that my peace has been broken by 
intelligence of the death of a man whom I prized and loved, 
whose esteem was one of the sweetest enjoyments which 
Zurich has afforded me, and whose friendship I would still 
seek to deserve ;- and you would weep with me if you knew 
how dear this man was to me." 


" Your offer of Friday has touched me deeply ; it has con 
vinced me yet more strongly, if that were possible, of your 
worth. Not because you are willing, for my sake, to deprive 
yourself of something which may be to you a trifle, as you say 
it is, a thousand others could do that, but that, although 
you must have remarked something of my way of thinking 
{ pride the world calls it), you should yet have made that 


offer so naturally and openly, as if your whole heart had told 
you that I could not misunderstand you; that although I 
had never accepted aught from any man on earth yet I 
would accept it from you ; that we were too closely united 
to have different opinions about such things as these. Dear 
est, you have given me a proof of your confidence, your 
kindness, your (dare I write it ?) love, than which there 
could be no greater. Were I not now wholly yours I should 
be a monster, without head or heart, without any title to 

"But in order to show myself to you in a just light, you 
have here my true thoughts and feelings upon this matter, 
as I read them myself in my own breast. 

"At first I confess it with deep shame at first it roused 
my pride. Fool that I was, I thought for a moment not 
longer that you had misunderstood what I wrote to you 
lately. Yet even in this moment I was more grieved than 
hurt : the blow came from your hand. Instantly, however, 
my better nature awoke; I felt the whole worth of your heart, 
and I was deeply moved. Had not your father come at this 
moment, I could not have mastered my emotions : only shame 
for having, even for a moment, undervalued you and myself, 
kept them within bounds. 

" Yet I cannot accept it : not that your gift would dis 
grace me, or could disgrace me. A gift out of mere compas 
sion for my poverty I would abhor, and even hate the giver : 
this is perhaps the most neglected part of my character. 
But the gift of friendship, of a friendship which, like yours, 
rests upon cordial esteem, cannot proceed from compassion, 
and is an honour, not a dishonour, But, in truth, I need it 
not. I have indeed no money by me at present, but I have 
no unusual disbursements to make, and I shall have enough 
to meet my very small regular expenses till my departure. 
I seldom come into difficulties when I have no money, I be 
lieve Providence watches over me. I have examples of this 
which I might term singular, did I not recognise in them the 
hand of Providence, which condescends even to our meanest 


" Upon the whole, gold appears to me a very insignificant 
commodity. I believe that a man with any intellect may 
always provide for his wants ; and for more than this, gold 
is useless ; hence I have always despised it. Unhappily it 
is here bound up with a part of the respect which our fellow- 
men entertain for us, and this has never been a matter of 
indifference to rne. Perhaps I may by and by free myself 
from this weakness also : it does not contribute to our peace. 

" On account of this contempt of money, I have, for four 
years, never accepted a farthing from rny parents, because I 
have seven sisters who are all young and in part uneducated, 
and because I have a father who, were I to allow it, would 
in his kindness bestow upon me that which belongs of right 
to his other children. 1 have not accepted even presents 
from them upon any pretence ; and since then, I have main 
tained myself very well, and stand more a man aise than be 
fore towards my parents, and particularly towards my too 
kind father. 

" However, I promise you (how happy do I feel, dear, 
noble friend, to be permitted to speak thus with you !) I 
promise you, that if I should fall into any pecuniary embar 
rassments (as there is no likelihood that I shall, with my 
present mode of thinking and my attendant fortune), you 
shall be the first person to whom I shall apply to whom J 
shall have applied since the time I declined assistance from 
my parents. It is worthy of your kind heart to receive this 
promise, and it is not unworthy of me to give it." 

"Could anything indemnify me for the loss of some hours 
of your society, I should be indemnified. I have received 
the most touching proofs of the attachment of the good old 
widow, whom I have seen only for the third time, and of 
her gratitude for a few courtesies which were to me nothing, 
absolutely nothing, had they not cost me two days ab 
sence from you. She wept when I took my leave, though I 
allowed her to expect that she would see me again before 
my departure. I desire to lay aside all vanities : with some, 



the desire for literary fame, &c., I have in a certain degree 
succeeded ; but the desire to be beloved beloved by simple 
true hearts is no vanity, and I will not lay it aside. 

" What a wholly new, joyful, bright existence I have had 
since I became sure of being yours ! how happy I am that 
so noble a soul bestows its sympathy upon me, and such 
sympathy ! this I can never express. Would that I could, 
that I might be able to thank you. 

" My departure, dearest, draws near, and you have disco 
vered the secret of making the day which formerly seemed 
to me a day of deliverance the bitterest in my life. I shall 
not tell you whether the day is settled or not. If you do 
not absolutely command it, you shall not know of it. Leave- 
taking is bitter, very bitter, and even its announcement has 
always eomething painful in it. But one of us and I shall 
be that one must bear the consciousness that thenceforth 
(but only for a time, if God does not require the life of one 
of us) we see each other no more. Unless you absolutely 
require it, you shall not know when I am with you for the 

last time." 


" Bern or Copenhagen, Lisbon, Madrid or St. Petersburg, 
are alike to me, so far as I myself am concerned. I believe 
that I am able to endure all climates tolerably well. The 
true cold of winter, such as we find in Saxony, is never very 

oppressive to me On this account I am 

not afraid of Copenhagen. But I would rather, dearest, 
be nearer thee. I am deeply moved by your tenderness ; I 
think of you with the warmest gratitude. On this matter 
I feel with you, even although I cannot entirely think with 
you. Letters go to Copenhagen, for example, as securely as 
to Bern, and create as much pleasure there. Journeying is 
journeying, be it long or short, and it is already almost in 
different to me whether I shall travel ten or a hundred miles. 
So my understanding decides, and I cannot refute it, however 
willingly this deceitful heart would do so. 

" On the whole, I think of it in this way : the great end 
of my existence is to acquire every kind of education (not 


scientific education, I find much vanity in that, but edu 
cation of character) which fortune will permit me. 

" Looking into the way of Providence in my life, I find 
that this is the plan of Providence itself with me. I have 
filled many situations, played many parts, known many men, 
and many conditions of men, and on the whole I find that 
by all these occurrences my character has become more 
fixed and decided. At my first entrance into the world, I 
wanted everything but a susceptible heart. Many qualities 
in which I was then deficient, I have since acquired ; many 
I still \vant entirely, and among others that of occasionally 
accommodating myself to those around me, and bearing with 
false men, or men wholly opposed to my character, for the 
sake of accomplishing something great. Without these 
qualities, I can never employ the powers which Providence 
has bestowed upon me as I could with them. 

"Does Providence then intend to develope these capacities 
in me ? Is it not possible that for this very purpose I may 
now be led upon a wider stage ? May not my employment 
at a Court, my project of superintending the studies of a 
Prince, your father s plan of taking me to Copenhagen, 
may not these be hints or ways of Providence towards this 
end \ And shall I, by confining myself to a narrower sphere, 
one which is not even natural to me, seek to frustrate this 
plan ? I have no talent for bending; for dealing with people 
who are opposed to me in character ; can only succeed with 
brave, good people ; I am too open ; this seemed to you a 
reason why I was unfit to go to a Court ; to me, on the con 
trary, it is a reason why I must go there, to have an oppor 
tunity of acquiring that wherein I am deficient, 

" I know the business of the scholar ; I have no new dis 
coveries to make about it. I have very little fitness for being 
a scholar a metier; I must not only think, I must act: least of 
all can I think about trifles ; and hence it is not exactly my 
business to become a Swiss professor, that is, a schoolman. 

" So stand my inclinations : now for my duties. 

" May not Providence, who must know better than I for 
what I am fit and where I am wanted, may not Providence 


have determined not to lead me into such a sphere ? And 
may not the favour bestowed upon me by you, whose destiny 
seems to be bound up with my own, be a hint, and your 
proposal a way, of this Providence ? May not my impulse 
towards the great world be a delusion of sense, of my innate 
restlessness, which Providence would now fix 1 This is as 
possible as the first; and therefore we must just do in this 
matter what depends upon us, and leave the rest to God s 

" Now I think that the way which you propose cannot 
have the effect you expect from it. My essays cannot create 
what is called a sensation ; this is not in them nor in me. 
Many would not even understand their contents ; those who 
did understand them, would, I believe, consider me as a use 
ful man, but comme il y en a heaucoup. It is quite another 
thing when one takes an interest in the author, and knows 

" If you should be able to excite such an interest among 
your relatives, then indeed something more might be ex 
pected. But the matter does not seem pressing. Before all 
things there must be a professorship vacant at Bern, and 
indeed such a one as I could undertake. Then it would be 
difficult, during my stay here, to make a copy of my essays. 
And perhaps I shall write something better afterwards, or I 
may hit upon some arrangement in Leipzic respecting these 
essays, which can easily be made known in Bern. At all 
events, you shall know, and every good man who takes any 
interest in me shall always know, where I am. At the same 
time I entreat of you, although I know your good will to 
wards me does not need the request, both now and after 
my departure to omit no opportunity which presents itself 
of doing me any service, and to inform me of it. I believe 
in a Providence, and I watch its signs. 

" I have but one passion, one want, one all-engrossing 
desire, to work upon those around me. The more I act, 
the happier I seem to be. Is this too delusion ? It may be 
so, but there is truth at the bottom of it. 

" But this is no delusion, that there is a heaven in the 


love of good hearts, in knowing that I possess their sympa 
thies, their living, heartfelt, constant, warm sympathies, 
Since I have known you intimately, this feeling has been 
mine in all its fulness. Judge with what sentiments I close 

this letter." 


" So you desire this bitter leave-taking ? Be it so, but 
under one condition : I must bid you farewell alone. In the 
presence of any other, even of your excellent father, I should 
suffer from the reserve of which I complain so much. I 
depart, since it must be told, to-morrow eight-days. This 
day week I see you for the last time, for I set out very early 
on Sunday. Try to arrange that I may see you alone : how 
it is to be arranged I know not. but I would far rather take 


no leave of you at all, than take a cold formal one. 

" I thank you heartily for your noble letter of yesterday, 
particularly because your narrative confirms me so strongly 
in a much-cherished principle. God cares for us He will 
forsake no honourable man." 


"And so be convinced that nothing can turn my thoughts 
from you. The reasons you have long known. You know 
my heart ; you know yourself; you know that I know you : 
can you then doubt that I have found the only woman s soul 
which I can value, honour, and love ? that I have nothing 
more to seek from the sex, that I can find nothing more 
that is mine ? " 

Towards the close of March 1790, Fichte left Zurich on 
his return to his native land, with some letters of recommen 
dation to the Courts of Wirtemberg and Weimar. He was 
once more thrown upon the world ; his outward prospects 
as uncertain as when he entered Switzerland two years be 
fore. Poverty again compelled him to travel for the most part 
on foot ; but, as before, the toil of his journey was lightened 
by a high sense of honour, an inflexible courage, an unwaver 
ing faith ; and to these was now added a sweeter guide a 


star of milder radiance, which cast a soft but steady light 
upon the wanderer s way and pointed him to a happy though 
distant place of rest. His love was no fleeting passion, no 
transient sensibility, but united itself with his philosophy and 
his religion in one ever-flowing fountain of spiritual power. 
The world might turn coldly away from him, for it knew him 
not; but he did not stoop to its meannesses, because he did 
not seek its rewards. He had one object before him the 
development of his own nature; and there was one who knew 
him, whose thoughts? were with him from afar, whose sym 
pathies were all his own. His labours might be arduous, 
but they could not now be in vain; for although the destiny 
of his being did not as yet lie before him in perfect theo 
retical clearness, yet his integrity of purpose and purity of 
feeling unconsciously preserved him from error, while the 
energy of his will bore him upward and onward over the 
petty obstructions of life. 

He arrived at Stuttgard in the beginning of April, but not 
finding his recommendations to the Wirtemberg Court of 
much advantage, he left it after a short stay. On his way 
to Saxony he visited Weimar. He did not see Herder, who 
was ill ; nor Goethe, who was absent on his Italian tour; nor 
Schiller, who was at that time commencing his labours as 
Professor of History at Jena. He returned to Leipzic about 
the middle of May, his small stock of money exhausted by 
the expenses of his journey ; and was kindly received by his 
friend Weisse, through whose recommendation he had ob 
tained the appointment at Zurich. Discovering no prospect 
of obtaining any preceptorship of a superior kind, he engaged 
in literary occupations in order to procure a livelihood. He 
conceived the plan of a monthly literary journal, the princi 
pal objects of which should be to expose the dangerous ten 
dencies of the prevalent literature of the day, to show the 
mutual influence of correct taste and pure morality, and to 
direct its readers to the best authors, both of past and present 
times. But such an undertaking was too much opposed to 
the interests of the booksellers to find favour in their eyes. 
"I have," he says, "spoken to well-disposed people on this 


matter, to Weisse and Palmer; they all admit that it is a good 
and useful idea, and indeed a want of the age, but they all 
tell me that I shall find no publisher. I have therefore, out 
of sorrow, communicated my plan to no bookseller, and I must 
now write, not pernicious writings, that I will never do, 
but something that is neither good nor bad, in order to earn 
a little money. I am now engaged on a tragedy, a business 
which of all possible occupations least belongs to me, and of 
which I shall certainly make nothing ; arid upon novels, 
small romantic stories, a kind of reading good for nothing 
but to kill time ; this, however, it seems, is what the book 
sellers will take and pay for." 

So far as his outward existence was concerned, this resi 
dence at Leipzic was a period of harassing uncertainty too 
often approaching the verge of misery, full of troubled 
schemes and projects which led to no result. He could ob 
tain no settled occupation, but was driven from one expedient 
to another to procure the means of subsistence. At one 
time he gives " a lesson in Greek to a young man between 
11 and 12 o clock," and spends the rest of the day in study 
and starvation. His tragedy and novel writing could not 
last long, nor be very tolerable while it did last. In Au 
gust he writes " Bernstorff must have received my letter 
and essay ; I gave it into Herr Bohn s own hands, and he 
promised to take care of it ; yet I have no answer. A lady 
at Weimar had a plan to obtain for me a good situation ; it 
must have failed, for I have not heard from her for two months. 
Of other prospects which I thought almost certain, I shall 
be silent. As for authorship, I have been able to do little 
or nothing, for I am so distracted and tossed about by many 
schemes and undertakings, that I have had few quiet days. 

In short, Providence either has something 

else in store for me, and hence will give me nothing to do 
here, as^indeed has been the case ; or intends by these troubles 
to exercise and invigorate me still further. I have lost al 
most everything, except my courage." Again we hear of a 
distant prospect of going to Vienna to prosecute his literary 
schemes, and thus of being nearer, nay, when on his way 


of even visiting Zurich. And then again " This week seems 
to be a critical time with me ; all my prospects have va 
nished, even this last one." But his strength never failed 
him ; alone and unfriended, he shrank not from the contest. 
Adversity might roll her billows over his head, but her rage 
was spent in vain against a soul which she could bend to no 
unworthy deed. 

And yet he was not alone. A fair and gentle spirit was 
ever by his side, whispering to him of peace, happiness, and 
love. " In the twilight," says he, " before I light my lamp, 
I dream myself back to thee, sit by thy side, chat with thee, 
and ask whether I am still dear to thee ; ask indeed, but 
not from doubt I know before-hand that thou wilt answer 
yes. I am always with thee on Saturdays. I cannot give 
up those Saturday meetings. I think I am still in Zurich, 
take my hat and stick, and will come to thee; and then I re 
member, and fret at fortune, and laugh at myself." 

And again, "Knowest thou all that thou art to me, even 
in this separation ? When I feel vexed that of all my thoughts 
there is scarcely one which I can pour forth confidently into 
any human breast, then I think thee to me, and tell them 
all to thee. I imagine what thou wouldst answer me, and 
I believe that I hit it pretty nearly. When I walk alone, 
thou art by my side. When I find that my walks hereabouts 
lose their charms for me, either through force of habit, or 
from the sameness which is their prevailing character ; then 
I show them to thee; tell thee what I have thought, or read, 
or felt here ; show thee this tree under which I have lain 
and meditated, this bench on which T have conversed with 
a friend, and then the dull walk acquires a new life. There 
is a garden in Leipzic which none of my acquaintances can 
endure, because it is very unfrequented, and almost wholly 
obscured by a thick alley. This garden is almost the only 
one which is still dear to me, because it is that to which I 
first resorted in my transition state from boyhood to youth, 
with all the fresh outbursting feelings of that spring-time, 
in which I felt so much, Here I often lead thee to walk, 
and recount to thee the history of my heart. 


"Farewell, and remain the protecting spirit of my solitude." 

Thus amid the desolation of his outward prospects the 
current of his affections seems to have flowed with a fuller 
and more powerful tide. Like a strong man proud of his 
own strength, he bore the burden of privation and neglect ; 
but in the secret chamber of his heart there was a fountain 
of untold bliss which sweetened even the bitterest trials: 
there he found a refuge from unworthy thoughts, a strong 
support in the conflict with misery and want. As the Alpine 
plant strikes its roots most firmly in barren and rocky places, 
so did his love cling more closely round his soul, when every 
other joy had died and withered there. 

" Thou dear angel-soul," he writes, " do thou help me, do 
thou keep me from falling ! And so thou dost. What sorrow 
can grieve, what distress can discourage me, so long as I 
possess the firm assurance that I have the sympathy of the 
best and noblest of women, that she looks upon her destiny 
as inseparably bound up in mine, that our hearts are one ? 
Providence has given me thy heart, and I want nothing more. 
Mine is thine for ever." 

Of a project for engaging him in the ministry he thus writes: 
" I know my opinions. I am neither of the Lutheran nor 
Reformed Church, but of the Christian ; and were I com 
pelled to choose, I should (since no purely Christian commu 
nity now exists) attach myself to that community in which 
there is most freedom of thought and charity of life; and that 

is not the Lutheran, I think I have given 

up these hopes in my fatherland entirely. There is indeed 
a degree of enlightenment and rational religious knowledge 
existing among the younger clergy of the present day, which 
is not to be found to the same extent in any other country 
of Europe. But this is crushed by a worse than Spanish 
inquisition, under which they must cringe and dissemble, 
partly because they are deficient in ability, partly because in 
consequence of the number of clergy in our land their services 
can be spared, while they cannot sacrifice their employment. 
Hence arises a slavish, crouching, hypocritical spirit. A re- 



volution is indeed impending : but when ? and how ? In short, 
I will be no preacher in Saxony." 

The only record that has been preserved of the opinions 
he entertained at this time on the subject of religion is a 
remarkable fragment entitled " Aphorisms on Religion and 
Deism." The object of this essay was to set at rest the 
much-vexed questions between Philosophy and Christianity, 
by strictly defining the respective provinces of each ; by 
distinguishing between the objective reality which reason 
demands of Philosophy, and the incarnate form of truth 
which Religion offers to the feelings and sympathies of men. 
In the adaptation of Christianity to the wants of the sinner, 
in its appeal to the heart rather than to the understand 
ing, he finds the explanation of its nature and purposes : 
" Those who are whole need not the physician, but those 
who are sick." " I am come not to call the righteous but 
sinners to repentance." This fragment, by its distinct re 
cognition of the radical difference between feeling and know 
ledge, and the consequent vanity of any attempt to decide 
between the different aspects which the great questions of 
human destiny assume before the cognitive and emotional 
parts of our nature, may be looked upon as the stepping-stone 
to that important revolution in Fichte s mental world, to 
which the attention of the reader must now be directed. 

The Critical or Kantian Philosophy w r as at this time the 
great topic of discussion in the higher circles of Germany. 
Virulently assailed by the defenders of the existing systems, 
with Herder at their head, it was as eagerly supported by a 
crowd of followers who looked upon Kant with an almost fa 
natical veneration. Fichte s attention was turned to it quite 
accidentally. Some increased success in teaching during the 
winter of 1790, rendered his outward circumstances more 
comfortable than before, and left his mind more at liberty 
to engage in serious study. He plunged with enthusiasm 
into the new philosophy. 

The system of religious necessarianism before alluded to, 
which frequently shows itself in his letters, was by no means 
in harmony with the natural bent of his character. His 


energy of will ami restless spirit of enterprise assorted ill 
with a theory in which he was compelled to regard himself 
as a passive instrument in the hands of a higher power. This 
inconsistency must have often suggested itself to him before 
he met with its remedy ; he must have frequently felt, that 
the theory which seemed to satisfy his understanding stood 
in opposition to his feelings. He could not be contented with 
any superficial or partial reconcilement of this opposition. 
But he was now introduced to a system in which his diffi 
culties disappeared ; in which, by a rigid examination of the 
cognitive faculty, the boundaries of human knowledge were 
accurately defined, and within those boundaries its legiti 
macy successfully vindicated against scepticism on the one 
hand and blind credulity on the other; in which the facts of 
man s moral nature furnished an indestructible foundation for 
a system of ethics where duty was neither resolved into self- 
interest nor degraded into the slavery of superstition, but re 
cognised by Free-will as the absolute law of its being, in the 
strength of which it was to front the Necessity of nature, 
break down every obstruction that barred its way, and rise 
at last, unaided, to the sublime consciousness of an independ 
ent, and therefore eternal, existence. Such a theory was 
well calculated to rouse Fichte s enthusiasm and engage all 
his powers. The light which he had been unconsciously 
seeking now burst upon his sight, every doubt vanished be 
fore it, and the purpose of his being lay clear and distinct 
before him. The world, and man s life in it, acquired a new 
significance, every faculty a clearer vision, every power a fresh 
energy. But he must speak for himself : 

Co acfjelia at Bremen. 

" The last four or five months which I have passed in Leipzic 
have been the happiest period of my life ; and what is most 
satisfactory about it is that I have to thank no man for the 
smallest ingredient in its pleasures. You know that before 
leaving Zurich I became somewhat sickly : either through 
imagination, or because the cookery did not agree with me. 
Since my departure from Zurich I have been health itself, 


and I know how to prize this blessing. The circumstances 
of my stay in Zurich, and still more of my travels, had strain 
ed my fancy to an unnatural height. When I came to Leip- 
zic my brain swarmed with great plans. All were wrecked ; 
and of so many soap-bubbles there now remains not even 
the light froth which composed them. This disturbed my 
peace of mind a little, and it was half in despair that I 
joined a party to which I ought long ere now to have be 
longed. Since I could not alter my outward circumstances, 
I resolved upon internal change. I threw myself into philo 
sophy, and, as you know, into the Kantian. Here I Jound 
the remedy for all my evils, and joy enough to boot. The 
influence of this philosophy, and particularly the moral part 
of it (which however is unintelligible without previous study 
of the Critique of Pure Reason), upon the whole spiritual 
life, and particularly the revolution which it has caused in 
i my own mode of thought, is indescribable. To you, espe 
cially, I owe the acknowledgment, that I now heartily believe 
in the Freedom of Man, and am well convinced that it is 
only on this supposition that Duty, Virtue, or Morality of 
any kind, is so much as possible ; a truth which indeed I 
saw before, and perhaps acquired from you. Further, it is 
very evident to me that many pernicious consequences to 
society flow from the commonly-received principle of the 
Necessity of all human actions ; that it is the source of a 
great part of the immorality of the so-called higher classes ; 
and that if any one, accepting this principle, yet preserve 
himself pure from such corruption, it is not on account of 
the innocence, much less the utility, of the principle itself. 
Your uncorrupted moral feelings guided you more truly than 
did my arguments ; and you must admit that, in the latter 
respect, error is pardonable. A multitude of others, who do 
not err, have to thank, not their greater acuteness, but their 
inconsequential reasoning. I am also firmly convinced that 
there is no land of enjoyment here below, but a land of labour 
and toil, and that every joy of life should be only a refresh 
ment and an incentive to greater exertion ; that the ordering 
of our fortune is not demanded of us, but only the cultivation 


of ourselves. Hence I do not trouble myself about outward 
things, endeavour not to seem, but to be; and it is to these 
convictions that I am indebted for the deep tranquillity of 
soul which I enjoy. My external circumstances suit well 
with these dispositions. I am master of no one, and no one s 
servant. I have no farther prospects : the present constitu 
tion of the church, and indeed the men who compose it, do 
not please me. So long as I can maintain my present inde 
pendence, I shall do so at all hazards. 

"You ask whether I contribute to the journals ? No, to 
none of them. It was my intention, at first, to write for the 
1 Bibliothek der Schonen Wissenschaften. But all is anarchy 
there. Weisse is called the editor, but the bookseller is the 
editor ; arid I will have nothing to do with a bookseller in 
matters of this kind. I sent my essay upon Klopstock s 
Messias to B. for the Deutsche Museum. He replied, that he 
feared the poet, who had for some time honoured him with his 
friendship, would take it ill if he should publish an essay 
which might put his Messias in danger, &c. &c. I was satisfied 
with his answer, for I had already repented of the sin. If 
ever I become an author, it shall be on my own account. 
Moreover, authorship as a trade is not for me. It is incred 
ible how much labour it costs me to accomplish something 
with which after all I am but half satisfied. The more I 
write, the more difficult does it become. I see that I want 
the living fire." 

On the same subject he writes to his school and college 
friend Weisshuhn : 

" I have lived in a new world since I have read the Cri 
tique of Practical Reason. Principles which I believed were 
irrefragable, are refuted; things which I thought could never 
be proved, as for example, the idea of absolute Freedom, 
of Duty, are proved; and I am so much the happier. It is 
indescribable what respect for humanity, what power this sys 
tem gives us ! But why should I say this to you, who have 
known it longer than I have done ? What a blessing to an 
age in which morality was torn up by the roots, and the 
name of Duty obliterated from every vocabulary !" 


And with still greater warmth he speaks of his new studies 
to Johanna Rahn : 

" My scheming spirit has now found rest, and I thank 
Providence that, shortly before all my hopes were frustrated; 
T was placed in a position which enabled me to bear the 
disappointment with cheerfulness. A circumstance, which 
seemed the result of mere chance, led me to give myself up 
entirely to the study of the Kantian philosophy, a philosophy 
that restrains the imagination which was always too powerful 
with me, gives reason the sway, and raises the soul to an 
indescribable elevation above all earthly concerns. I have 
accepted a nobler morality, and instead of occupying myself 
with outward things, I employ myself more with my own 
being. This has given me a peace such as I have never be 
fore experienced : amid uncertain worldly prospects I have 
passed my happiest days. I shall devote some years of my 
life to this philosophy ; and all that I write, at least for 
several years to come, shall be upon it. It is difficult beyond 
all conception, and stands much in need of simplification. 

. . The principles are indeed hard speculations which 
have no direct bearing on human life, but their consequences 
are most important for an age whose morality is corrupted 
at the fountain-head ; and to set these consequences before 
the world in a clear light, would, I believe, be doing it a 
good service. Say to thy dear father, whom I love as my 
own, that we erred in our inquiries into the Necessity of 
human actions, for although we proceeded with accuracy, we 
set out from a false principle. I am now thoroughly con 
vinced that the human will is free, and that to be happy is 
not the purpose of our being, but to deserve happiness. I 
have to ask pardon of thee too, for having often led thee a- 
stray by such assertions. Achelis was right, without know 
ing it indeed ; and why ? Henceforth believe in thine own 
feelings; thou mayst not be able to confute opposing rea- 
soners, yet they shall be confuted, and are so already, though 
they do not understand the confutation." 

Inspired with this enthusiastic admiration for the Critical 


Philosophy, he resolved to become the exponent of its prin 
ciples, and to rescue it from the obscurity which an uncouth 
terminology had thrown around it. This attempt had indeed 
been made already, and was still making, by a host of com 
mentators, but the majority of these were either deficient in 
capacity, or, actuated by sordid motives, had eagerly seized 
the opportunity of gain which the prevalent excitement af 
forded, and crowded the literary market with crude and su 
perficial productions. Fichte accordingly commenced an 
expository abridgment of Kant s Critique of the faculty of 
judgment. It was to be divided into two parts, the one 
devoted to the power of ossthetical, the other to that of teleo- 
logical judgment. The first part was completed and sent to 
his friend Weisshuhn for correction, but the progress of the 
of the work was interrupted by events which caused him to 
leave Leipzic : it was never finished, and no part of it was 

Interesting, and remarkable too, in this connexion, is the 
following passage from a letter written about this time to a 
literary friend : 

" If I am not deceived by the disposition of youth, which 
is more ready to hope than to fear, the golden age of our 
literature is at hand ; it will be enduring, and may perhaps 
surpass the most brilliant period in that of any other nation. 
The seed which Lessing sowed in his letters, and in his Dra- 
maturgie, now begins to bear fruit. His principles seem 
every day to be more extensively received, and made the 
foundation of our literary judgments; and Goethe s Iphi- 
genie is the strongest proof of the possibility of their real 
ization. And it seems to me that he who in his twentieth 
year wrote the Robbers, will, sooner or later, tread in the 
same path, and in his fortieth become our Sophocles." 

And so it was ! He who in his twentieth year wrote the 
" Robbers," did literally in his fortieth produce his "Wallen- 
stein," followed in brilliant succession by " Mary Stuart,"- 
"The Maid of Orleans," and, last and brightest of the train, 


by " William Tell," a parting gift to the world from the 
" Sophocles " of Germany. 

And now the time drew near which was at once to termi 
nate his struggles with fortune, and realize the dearest wish 
of his heart. He had received many pressing invitations 
from Rahn to return to Zurich, but he had hitherto declined 
to do so until he should be enabled to earn for himself a 
name and position in the world. " It would be disgraceful," 
said he, " were I to re-appear in Zurich, without having ac 
complished anything since I left it. What should I call my 
self ? Suffer me at least to vindicate my claim to the name 
of a Scholar." No prospect, however, appearing of a perma 
nent settlement in Germany, it had been arranged that he 
should return to Zurich in 1791, to be united to her whom 
he most loved and honoured upon earth. The noble-minded 
woman who was now to bind herself to him for ever, had 
resolved that henceforth he should pursue his literary under 
takings free from the cares of life. But Fichte looked for 
ward to no period of inglorious repose : his ardent spirit had 
already formed a thousand plans of useful and honourable 
activity. " Not happiness, but labour," was his principle, 
a principle which ruled all his actions, in prosperity as well 
as in adversity. His letters to Johanna Rahn, in anticipa 
tion of this joyful event, breathe the same dignified tender 
ness which characterized their earlier correspondence : 

" And so, dearest, I solemnly devote myself to thee, con 
secrate myself to be thine. I thank thee that thou hast 
thought me not unworthy to be thy companion on the jour 
ney of life. I have undertaken much : one day, God grant 
it be a distant one ! to take the place of thy noble father ; 
to become the recompense of thy early wisdom, of thy child 
like love, of thy steadfast virtue. The thought of the great 
duties which I take upon me, makes me feel how little I am. 
But the sense of the greatness of these duties shall exalt me, 
and thy love, thy too favourable opinion of me, will lend to 
my imperfection all that I want. There is no land of hap- 


pmcss here below, I know it now, but a land of toil, when; 
every joy but strengthens us for greater labour. Hand in 
hand we shall traverse it, and encourage and strengthen each 
other, until our spirits may it be together! shall rise to 
the eternal fountain of all peace. I stand now in fancy at 
the most important point of my earthly existence, which 
divides it into two different, very different portions, and 
marvel at the unseen hand which has led me through the 
first dangerous part, through the land of perplexity and 
doubt! How long had I despaired of such a companion as 
thou, in whom manly dignity and female tenderness are 
united ! What if I had contented myself with some decorat 
ed puppet of thy sex? That Being who rules all things was 
kinder to me than, in the feeling of my unworthiness, I had 
dared to wish or hope ; I was led to thee. That Being will 
do yet more for me. We shall one day, dearest, stand 
again at the partition-wall which shall divide our whole life 
into two parts, into an earthly and a spiritual ; and then 
shall we look back upon the latter part of the earthly which 
we shall have traversed together, as we do now upon its first 
part; and surely we shall then, too, marvel at the same wis 
dom which now calls forth our wonder, but with loftier feel 
ings and with clearer insight. I love to place myself in 
that position 

The surest means of acquiring a conviction of a lifo 
after death is so to act in this life that we can venture to wish 
for another. He who feels that if there be a God he must 
look down graciously upon him, will not be disturbed by ar 
guments against his being, and he needs none for it. He 
who has sacrificed so much for virtue that he looks for recom 
pense in a future life, needs no proof of the reality of such a 
life; he does not lelicve in it, he feels it. And so, thou 
dear companion for this short life and for eternity, we shall 
strengthen each other in this conviction, not by arguments 
but by deeds." 

LEIPZIG, 1st March 1701 

" At the end of this month 1 shall be free,, and have 
determined to come to thee. T see nothing that ran prevent 


me. I indeed still await the sanction of my parents ; but 
I have been for a long time so well assured of their love, 
almost, if I may venture to say it, of their deference to my 
opinion, that I need not anticipate any obstacle on their 



<( And now, dearest, I turn to thee, passing over all things 
unconnected with thee, which therefore do not interest me. 
Is it true, or is it but a sweet dream, that I am so near to 
the one best joy of my life, the possession of the noblest 
of souls, chosen and destined for me by the Creator from 
among all other souls ? that my happiness, my peace, shall 
be the object of your wishes, your cares, your prayers ? 
Could my feelings but flow to thee, warm as at this moment 
they are streaming through my heart, and threatening to 
burst it asunder ! 

" Accept me then, dearest maiden, with all my faults. 
How glad am I to think that I give myself to one who can 
take me with these faults ; who has wisdom and strength 
enough to love me with them all, to help me to destroy 
them, so that I may one day appear with her, purified from 
all blemish, before Him who created us for each other ! 
Never have I been more sincerely penetrated by this feeling 
of my weakness, than since I received thy last letter, which 
reminds me of the poverty of all that I have said to thee ; 
which reminds me of the vacillating state of mind in which 
[ have written to thee. O what a man I have been ! People 
have sometimes attributed to me firmness of character, and 
I have been vain enough to accept their flattery as truth. 
To what accident am I indebted for this opinion, I who 
have always allowed myself to be guided by circumstances, 
whose soul has constantly taken the colours of surround 
ing events ? With great pretensions, which I could never 
have maintained, I left Zurich. My hopes were all wrecked. 
Out of despair, more than from taste, I threw myself into 
the Kantian philosophy, and found peace, for which in truth 
.1 have to thank my good health and the free flight of my 
fancy, and even deceived myself so far as to believe that the 


sublime thoughts which J imprinted upon my memory were 
natives of my soul. Circumstances led me to another em 
ployment less satisfactory to the mind ; and the change in 
my mode of living, the winter, which never agrees with 
me, an indisposition, and the troubles of a short journey, 
these things could disturb the deeply-rooted peace of the 
philosopher, and bring me into a frightful humour ! Shall 
I always be thus tossed to and fro like a wave ! Take thou 
me, then, thou brave soul, and strengthen this indecision. 

" Yet while I lament my inconstancy, how happy am 1 
that I can pour out these complaints to a heart which knows 
me too well to misunderstand me ! One of my feelings I 
can acquit of all fickleness : I can say it boldly, that 1 have 
never been untrue to thec, even in thought ; and it is a 
touching proof of thy noble character, that amid all thy 
tender cares for me, thou hast never been anxious about 

"The day of my departure is not exactly fixed, and I 
cannot determine it until I am about to set out. But it 
will bo one of the first days of April. I shall write to thee 
of it, and I shall also write to thee on my journey." 

And now all his brightest dreams were about to be ful 
filled, his cup was brimming with anticipated delight, the 
draught of joy was almost at his lips, when it was rudely 
dashed from his grasp. The day of his departure was al 
ready fixed, when the bankruptcy of a mercantile house to 
which Rahn had entrusted his property, threw the affairs of 
the latter into disorder, and even threatened to reduce him 
to indigence in his old age. Happily a part of his property 
was ultimately saved ; but, in the meantime at least, ail plans 
which were founded on his former prosperity were at an end. 
His misfortunes brought upon him a lingering sickness, by 
which he was reduced to the brink of the grave. His life 
was preserved by the tender and unremitting cares of his 
daughter. In those dark years, when scarcely a ray of hope 
broke the gloom of present calamity, her conduct displayed 
that high-minded devotion which bears inevitable suffering 


without a murmur, and almost raises the passive above the 
active virtues of our nature. 

As for Fichte, he had now become inured to disappoint 
ment. His courage soon returned to him, and he encoun 
tered with unfaltering trust the new disappointment with 
which fortune had visited him ; but he was filled with 
chagrin at having no power either to alleviate, or to share, 
the distress of one dearer to him than life itself. The 
world with its difficulties and doubts .was once more before 
him, and once more his indomitable spirit rose superior to 
them all. He obtained an appointment as tutor in the 
house of a Polish nobleman at Warsaw, and having an 
nounced his departure to Johanna Rahn in a letter in 
which he bids her be of good courage, and assures her ear 
nestly of his own faithfulness, he once more assumed his 
pilgrim staff and turned his back upon Leipzic. 

His diary written during this pedestrian journey to Po 
land evinces a clear and acute faculty of observation, and 
sketches very distinctly the peculiarities of the Saxon and 
Silesian character. One passage only, and that relative to a 
different subject, is here quoted : 

" Qth May. Arrived at Bischofswerda in good time ; drank 
tea at the inn, and sent my letter to Rammenau. Soon ap 
peared my brother Gotthelf, the kind soul, whom I looked 
for the previous day at Pillnitz ; and immediately after him, 
Gottlob. My father had not been at home, but he came 
soon after the good, honest, kind father! His look, his 
tone, his reasoning, how much good they always do me. 
Take away all my learning, O God ! and make me such a 
good, true, faithful man I how much should I gain by the 
exchange !" 

On the 7th of June he arrived at Warsaw, and imme 
diately waited upon his employer the Count. Von P . 

The Count was a good, easy man, perfectly submissive to 
the guidance of his wife, a vain, haughty, and whimsical 
woman. Fichte s pronunciation of the French language was 


found to be uusatisfatory, and Ids German bluntness ui de 
meanour still more so. He soon discovered that this was 
no place for him, where the teacher was regarded as the 
hanger-on of the Countess, and no respect was paid to the 
dignity of his profession. He resigned his office without 
having entered upon its duties; and having with some diffi 
culty obtained from the Countess, by way of compensation, 
a sum sufficient for his maintenance for the succeeding two 
months, he resolved to visit Konigsberg, instead of returning 
directly to his native country, in order that he might have 
an opportunity of cultivating a personal acquaintance with 
Kant, his great master in philosophy. Having preached in 
the Evangelical Church at Warsaw before his departure, he 
left that city on the 25th of June for Konigsberg. 

Immediately on his arrival he visited Kant, but his first 
impressions of the Critical Philosopher do not seem to have 
been very favourable. His impetuous enthusiasm was chilled 
by a cold, formal reception, and he retired deeply disappoint 
ed. Unwilling, however, to abandon the purpose which had 
led him to Konigsberg, he sought some means of obtaining 
a more free and earnest interview, but for some time with 
out success. At last he determined to write a <l Kritik aller 
Offenbarung" (Critique of all Revelation), which should 
serve as an introduction. He began his labours on the loth 
July, and wrought with unremitting assiduity at his task. 
It is perhaps one of the most touching and instructive 
passages of literary history, to find a young man, at a dis 
tance from his own country, without a friend, without even 
the means of personal subsistence, and sustained only by 
an ardent and indomitable love of truth, devoting himself 
with intense application to the production of a systematic 
work on one of the deepest subjects of philosophic thought 
that he might thereby attain the friendship and confidence 
of one whom he regarded as the greatest of living men, 
The finished work, -a work which on its publication raised 
him at once to the level of the most profound thinkers of 
his age, was sent to Kant on the 18th of August. He 
went on the 23d to hear the opinion of the philosopher upon 


it, and was kindly received. He heard a very favourable 
judgment passed upon his book, but did not attain his prin 
cipal object the establishment of a scientific confidence. 
For the solution of his philosophical doubts he was referred 
to the Critique of Pure Reason, or to some of the philo 
sopher s friends. 

On revising his " Critique of all Revelation," he found 
that it did not thoroughly express his profoundest thoughts 
on the subject, and he therefore began to remodel and re 
write it. But here again he was overtaken by want. Count 
ing over his meagre store of money, he found that he had 
only sufficient for another fortnight. Alone and in a 
strange country, he knew not what to resolve upon. After 
having in vain endeavoured to get some employment 
through the friends to whom he had been introduced by 
Kant, he determined, though with great reluctance, to reveal 
to Kant himself the situation in which he was placed, and 
request his assistance to enable him to return to his own 
land. His letter to Kant on this subject is so strikingly 
characteristic of its writer, and describes so truly his po 
sition at the time, that it is here given at length : 

Co itant. 

" You will pardon me, sir, if on the present occasion I 
address you in writing rather than in speech. 

"You have already favoured me with kind recommen 
dations which I had not ventured to ask from you, -a gene 
rosity which infinitely increases my gratitude, and gives me 
courage to disclose myself entirely to you, which otherwise I 
could not have ventured to do without your direct permission, 
a necessity which he who would not willingly reveal him 
self to every one, feels doubly towards a truly good man. 

" In the first place, allow me to assure you, sir, that my 
resolution to proceed from Warsaw to Konigsberg, instead 
of returning to Saxony, was indeed so far an interested re 
solution, that it gave me an opportunity of expressing my 
feelings towards the man to whom I owe all my convictions, 
principles, character, and even the very effort to possess them, 


of profiting, so far as possible in a short time, by your 
society, and, if allowed, of recommending myself to your 
favourable notice in my after-life ; but that I never could 
have anticipated my present need of your kindness, partly 
because I considered Konigsberg to be fertile in resources, 
much more so for example than Leipzic, and partly be 
cause I believed that, in the worst case, I should be able to 
find employment in Livonia, through a friend who occupies 
a creditable situation at Riga. I consider this assurance is 
due, partly to myself, that the feelings which flow purely 
from rny heart may not incur the suspicion of mean selfish 
ness ; partly to you, because the free, open gratitude of one 
whom you have instructed and improved, cannot be indif 
ferent to you. 

" I have followed the profession of a private tutor for 
five years, and during this time have felt so keenly its disa 
greeable nature, to be compelled to look upon imperfections 
which must ultimately entail the worst consequences, and 
yet be hindered in the endeavour to establish good habits 
in their stead, that I had given it up altogether for a year 
and a half, and, as I thought, for ever. I was induced again 
to undertake this occupation in Warsaw, without due con 
sideration, by the ill-founded hope that I should find this 
attempt more fortunate, and perhaps imperceptibly by a 
view to pecuniary advantage, a resolution the vanity of 
which has given rise to my present embarrassments. I now, 
on the contrary, feel every day more strongly the necessity 
of going over again, before the years of youth have altogether 
passed away, all those things which the too-early praise of 
well-meaning but unwise teachers, an academic course al 
most completed before my entrance on the proper age of 
youth, and, since that time, my constant dependence on 
circumstances, have caused me to neglect ; and, resigning 
;tll the ambitious views which have impeded my progress, to 
train myself to all of which I am capable, and leave the rest 
to Providence. This object I cannot attain anywhere morn 
surely than in my fatherland. I have parents, who cannot 
indeed relievo my necessities, but with whom I can live at 


less expense than elsewhere. I can there occupy myself 
with literary pursuits my true means of culture, to which 
I must devote myself, and for which I have too much respect 
to print anything of the truth of which I am not thorough 
ly assured. By a residence in my native province, too, 1 
could most easily obtain, as a village pastor, the perfect 
literary quiet which I desire until my faculties are matured. 
My best course thus seems to be to return home ; but I am 
deprived of the means : I have only two ducats, and even 
these are not my own, for I have yet to pay for my lodgings. 
There appears, then, to be no rescue for me from this sit 
uation, unless I can find some one who, although unknown 
to me, yet, in reliance upon my honour, will advance me the 
necessary sum for the expenses of my journey, until the 
time when I can calculate with certainty on being able to 
make repayment. I know no one to whom I could offer 
this security without fear of being laughed at to my face, 
except you, excellent man. 

" It is my maxim never to ask anything from another, 
without having first of all examined whether I myself, were 
the circumstances reversed, would do the same thing for 
some one else. In the present case I have found that, sup 
posing I had it in my power, I would do this for any person 
of whom I believed that he was animated by the principles 
by which I know that I myself am now governed. 

" I am so convinced of a certain sacrifice of honour in 
thus placing it in pledge, that the very necessity of giv 
ing you this assurance seems to deprive me of a part of 
it myself; and the deep shame which thus falls upon me 
is the reason why I cannot make an application of this kind 
verbally, for I must have no witnesses of that shame. My 
honour seems to be really doubtful until the engagement be 
fulfilled, because it is always possible for the other party to 
suppose that I may never fulfil it. Thus I know, that if 
you, sir, should consent to my request, I would think of you 
with heartfelt respect and gratitude indeed, but yet with a 
kind of shame ; and that only after I had redeemed my 
word would it be possible for me to call to mind with perfect 


satisfaction an acquaintance with which I hope to be hon 
oured during life. I know that these feelings arise from 
temperament, not from principle, and are perhaps reprehen 
sible ; but I cannot eradicate them until principle has ac 
quired sufficient strength to take their place, and so render 
them superfluous. Thus far, however, I can rely upon my 
principles, that, were I capable of forfeiting my word 
pledged to you, I should despise myself for ever afterwards, 
and could never again venture to cast a glance into my own 
sou l principles which constantly reminded me of you, and 
of my own dishonour, must needs be cast aside altogether, 
in order to free me from the most painful self-reproach. 

" If I were well assured of the existence of such a mode 
of thinking as this in a man, I would do that for him with 
confidence, which I now ask from you. How and ~by what 
means, I could assure myself, were I in your place, of the 
existence of such principles, is likewise clear to me. 

"If it be permitted me to compare very great things 
with very small, I argue from your writings, most honoured 
sir, a character in their author above the ordinary mass of 
men, and, before I knew anything at all of your mode of 
actino- in common life, I would have ventured to describe it 


as I now know it to be. For myself, I have laid open be 
fore you only a small part of my nature, at a time however 
when I had no idea of making such a use as this of your 
acquaintance, and my character is not sufficiently formed to 
express itself fully ; but to compensate for this, you are 
without comparison a better judge of men than I am, and 
perhaps may have perceived, even from the little you have 
seen of me, whether or not a love of truth and honour be 
longs to my character. 

"Lastly, and I add this with shame, if I should be 
found capable of forfeiting my pledge, my worldly reputation 
is in your hands. It is my intention to become an author 
in my own name, and when I leave Kbnigsbcrg, 1 wish to 
n-quest from you introductions to some literary men of your 
acquaintance. To these, whose good opinion I would then 
owe to you. it would be your duty to communicate my dis- 


grace ; as it would generally be a duty, I think, to warn the 
world against a person of such incorrigible character as he 
must needs be who could approach a man whose atmosphere 
is untainted by falsehood, and, by assuming the outward 
mien of honesty, deceive his acuteness, and so laugh to scorn 
all virtue and honour. 

" These were the considerations, sir, which induced me to 
write this letter. I am very indifferent about that which 
does not lie within my power, more indeed through temper 
ament and personal experience, than on principle. It is not 
the first time that I have been in difficulties out of which I 
could see no way ; but it would be the first time that I re 
mained in them, if I did so now. Curiosity as to what is to 
come of it, is generally all that I fee] in such emergencies. 
I merely adopt the means which appear the best to my 
mind, and then calmly await the consequence. And I can 
do this the more easily in the present case, that I place it 
in the hands of a good and wise man. But in another 
point of view I send off this letter with unwonted anxiety. 
Whatever may be your determination, I shall lose some 
thing of comfort and satisfaction in my relation towards 
you. If it be in the affirmative, I can indeed again acquire 
what I have lost ; if in the negative, never. 


" For the tone which predominates in this letter, I can 
not, sir, ask your pardon. It is one of the distinctions of 
sages, that he who speaks to them, speaks as a man to men. 
As soon as I can venture to hope that I do not disturb you, 
I shall wait upon you, to learn your resolution ; and I am, 
with heartfelt reverence and admiration," &c. 

It is difficult to conceive of any circumstances short of 
absolute inability, which could induce a man of refined 
sentiments, and especially a scholar and a philosopher, to 
refuse the request contained in this singular letter. We 
are not informed of the cause of Kant s refusal, and can 
therefore .only hope that it arose from no motive less 
honourable than that which animated his noble-minded 


suitor. It is certain that Fiehte continued, after this 
occurrence, to regard Kant with the same sentiments of 
deep admiration, and even reverence, which he had pre 
viously entertained towards him. But the request was 
refused, and Fichte once more reduced to extremity. He 
endeavoured to dispose of the manuscript of his "Kritik 
aller Offenbarung ; " but Hartung, the bookseller to whom 
Kant recommended him to apply, was from home, and he 
offered it in vain to any other. The very heroism of his 
life seemed to be the source of his ever-recurring diffi 
culties ; and truly, he who has resolved to lead a life of 
high purpose and endeavour, must be content to relinquish 
the advantages which are the common reward of plodding 
worldliness or successful knavery. He does relinquish 
them without a murmur, or rather he never seeks them ; 
his thoughts aspire to a loftier recompense, and that he 
docs surely attain. 

But light once more dawned on these dark and hopeless 
prospects ; and that from a quarter whence it was least of 
all expected. When the little money which he had remain 
ing was almost entirely exhausted, lie received an invitation, 
through the Court-preacher Scliulz, to a tutorship in the 
family of the Count of Krokow, in the neighbourhood of 
Dantzig. Although, as we have seen, his views were now 
directed to a life of literary exertion, yet necessity compelled 
him to accept this proposal ; and he entered on his new 
employment, experiencing the most friendly reception and 
the kindest attentions. The amiable character and excel 
lent abilities of the Countess rendered his residence in her 
family not only happy, but interesting and instructive ; 
his letters at this period are full of her praises. This 
fortunate appointment was but the beginning of many 
years of uninterrupted prosperity which now awaited him. 
Fortune seemed at last to have tired of her relentless perse 
cutions, and now resolved to shine graciously upon his 

Through the instrumentality of his friends at Konigsberg 
he now made arrangements with Hartung for the publi- 


cation of his " Kritik aller Offenbarung." An unexpected 
difficulty, however, prevented its immediate appearance. 
When the book was submitted to the censorship of the 
Dean of the Theological Faculty at Halle, where it was to be 
printed, he refused his sanction on account of the principle 
contained in it, That no proof of the divinity of a Revelation 
can lie derived from an appeal to Miracles occurring in con 
nexion with it, but that the question of its authenticity can be 
decided only by an examination of its contents. Fichte urged 
that his book was a philosophical, not a theological essay, 
and that therefore it did not properly come under the 
cognizance of the Theological Faculty ; but this plea was 
urged in vain. His friends advised him to withdraw the 
obnoxious passages ; even Schulz, who united theological 
orthodoxy with his ardent Kantism, advised him to do so. 
But on this point Fichte was inflexible ; he determined that 
the book should be printed entire, or not printed at all. He 
resolved, however, to consult Kant on the subject, as the 
highest authority to whom he could appeal. As this 
question has now for some time engaged the attention of 
the philosophico-theological world of England and America, 
it is deemed advisable to insert here the gist of this some 
what characteristic correspondence. 

jFtcfjte to itant. 

"22d January, 1792. 

" A friend whom I respect has written to me a kind and 
touching letter upon this subject, in which he requests that, 
in the event of a possible revision of the work during the 
delay which has occurred in printing, I should endeavour to 
sqt two points, upon which we are at issue, in another light. 
I have said, that faith in a given Revelation cannot reason 
ably be founded upon belief in Miracles, because no miracle 
is demonstrable as such ; but I have added in a note, that 
it may be allowable to employ the idea of Miracles having 
occurred in connexion with a Revelation, in order to direct 
the attention of those who need the aid of outward and 
sensible manifestations to the other sufficient grounds upon 


which the Revelation may be received as divine ; the only 
modification of the former principle which I can admit. 1 
have said, further, that a Revelation cannot extend the 
materials of either our dogmatic or our moral knowledge 


but I admit, that upon transcendental objects, in the fact of 
whose existence we believe, while we know nothing whatever 
of the mode of that existence, it may furnish us with some 
thing in the room of experience, something which, for 
those who so conceive of such matters, shall possess a 
subjective truth, which, however, is not to be received as a 
substantial addition to, but only as an embodied and formal 
manifestation of, those spiritual things possessed by us a 
priori. Notwithstanding continued reflection upon these 
points, T have hitherto discovered nothing which can justify 
me in altering my conclusions. May I venture to ask you, 
sir, as the most competent judge, to tell me in two words, 
whether any other results upon these points are to be sought 
for, and if so, in what direction ; or if these are the only 
grounds on which a critique of the Revelation-idea can 
safely proceed ? If you will favour me with these two words 
of reply, I shall make no use of them inconsistent with the 
deep respect I entertain for you. As to my friend s letter, 
I have already said in answer, that I do not cease to give 
my attention to the subject, and shall always be ready to 
retract what I am convinced is erroneous. 

"As to the prohibition of the censor, after the clearly- 
declared object of the essay, and the tone which predo 
minates throughout its pages, I can only wonder at it. I 
cannot understand where the Theological Faculty acquired 
the right to apply their censorship to such a mode of treat 
ing such a subject." 

itant s 

" 2d February, 1792. 

" You desire to be informed by me whether any remedy 
can be found against the strict censorship under which your 
book has fallen, without entirely laying it aside. I answer, 
none ; so far as, without having read the book thoroughly, 
I can determine from what your letter announces as its 


leading principle, namely, that faith in a given Revelation 
cannot reasonably be founded on a belief in Miracles. 

" For it inevitably follows from this, that a religion can 
contain only such articles of faith as likewise belong to the 
province of Pure Reason. This principle is in my opinion 
quite unobjectionable, and does not abolish the subjective 
necessity either of Revelation or of Miracle (for it may be 
assumed, that whether or not it might have been possible 
for Reason, unaided by Revelation, to have discovered those 
articles of faith, which, now when they are actually before 
us, may indeed be comprehended by Reason, yet it may 
have been necessary to introduce them by Miracles, which, 
however, now when religion can support itself and its 
articles, need no longer be relied upon as the foundation of 
belief) : but, according to the maxims which seem to be 
adopted by the censor, this principle will not carry you 
through. For, according to these, certain writings must be re 
ceived into the profession of faith according to their letter, since 
it is difficult for the human understanding to comprehend 
them, and much more for human reason to conceive of them 
as true ; and hence they really need the continued support 
of Miracle, and thus only can become articles of reasonable 
belief. The view which represents Revelation as merely a 
sensible manifestation of these principles in accommodation 
to human weakness, and hence as possessed of subjective 
truth only, is not sufficient for the censor, for his views 
demand the recognition of its objective truth according to 
the letter. 

" One way however remains open, to bring your book into 
harmony with the ideas of the censor : i. e. if you can make 
him comprehend and approve the distinction between a 
dogmatic belief raised above all doubt, and a mere moral 
admission resting on the insufficiency of reason to satisfy its 
own wants ; for then the faith which good moral sentiment 
reposes upon Miracle may probably thus express itself : 
Lord, I believe that is, I receive it willingly, although I 
cannot prove it sufficiently help thou mine unbelief ! - 
that is, I have a moral faith in respect of all that I can draw 


from the miraculous narrative for the purposes of inward 
improvement, and I desire to possess an historical belief in 
so far as that can contribute to the same end. My uninten 
tional non-belief is not confirmed unbelief. But you will not 
easily make this distinction acceptable to a censor who, it 
is to be feared, makes historical belief an unconditional re 
ligious duty. 

" With these hastily, but not inconsiderately thrown out 
ideas, you may do whatever seems good to you (provided 
you are yourself convinced of their truth), without making 
any direct or indirect allusion to him who communicates 

dFtcfjte to ivant. 

" 17 th February, 1792. 

" Your kind letter has given me much gratification, as 
well because of the goodness which so soon fulfilled my 
request, as on account of the matter it contains : upon that 
subject I now feel all the peace of mind which, next to one s 
own conviction, the authority of a man who is honoured 
above all other men can give. 

" If I have rightly conceived your meaning, I have 
actually pursued in my work the middle course which you 
point out, of distinguishing between an affirmative belief, 
and a faith founded on moral considerations. I have en 
deavoured carefully to distinguish between that which, 
according to my principle, is the only possible and reason 
able kind of faith in the divinity of a given Revelation 
(that faith, namely, which has for its object only a certain 
form of the truths of religion) and the belief which accepts 
these truths in themselves as postulates of Pure Reason. 
This faith is only a free acceptance of the divine origin of a 
particular form of religious truth, grounded on experience of 
the efficacy of such a form as a means of moral perfection ; 
such an acceptance, indeed, as no one can prove either to 
himself or to others, but which, on the other hand, cannot 
be refuted; an acceptance which is merely subjective, and, 
unlike the faith of Pure Reason, is not universally binding, 
since it is founded on individual experience alone. 1 


believe that I have placed this distinction in a tolerably 
clear light, and I have endeavoured to set forth fully the 
practical consequences of these principles : namely, that 
while they save us the labour of enforcing our own sub 
jective convictions upon others, they secure to every one 
the undisturbed possession of everything in religion which 
he can apply to his own improvement, and thus silence the 
opponents of positive religion, not less than its dogmatical 
defenders ; principles for which I do not deserve the anger 
of the truth-loving theologian. But yet it has so fallen 
out ; and I am now determined to leave the book as it is, 
and to allow the publisher to deal with the matter as he 

The difficulty which gave rise to the preceding letters 
was happily got rid of by a change in the censorship. The 
new dean, Dr. Knapp, did not partake in the scruples of his 
predecessor, and he gave his consent to the publication. 
The work appeared at Easter 1792, and excited great atten 
tion in the literary world of Germany. At first it was 
universally ascribed to Kant. The journals devoted to the 
Critical Philosophy teemed with laudatory notices, until at 
length Kant found it necessary publicly to disclaim the 
paternity of the book by disclosing its real author. 

The ll Kritik aller Offenbarung " is an attempt to deter 
mine the natural and necessary conditions under which 
alone a Revelation from a superior intelligence to man is 
possible, and consequently to lay down the criteria by which 
anything that claims the character of such a Revelation is 
to be tested. The design, as well as the execution, of the 
work is strikingly characteristic of its author ; for, although 
the form of the Kantian philosophy is much more distinctly 
impressed upon this, his first literary production, than upon 
his subsequent writings, yet it does not and cannot conceal 
those brilliant qualities to which he owed his future fame. 
That profound and searching intellect, which, in the pro 
vince of Metaphysics, cast aside as fallacious and deceptive 


those solid-seeming principles on which ordinary men are 
content to take their stand, and clearing its way to the most 
hidden depths of thought, sought there a firm foundation 
on which to build a structure of human knowledge, whose 
summit should tower as high above common faith as its 
base was sunk deep below common observation, does here, 
when applied to a question of practical judgment, exhi 
bit the same clearness of vision, strength of thought and 

O O 

subtilty of discrimination. In the conduct of this inquiry, 
Fichte manifests that single eye to truth, and reverent 
devotion to her when found, which characterize all his 
writings and his life. His book has nothing in common 
with those superficial attacks upon Revelation, or equally 
superficial defences of it, which are still so abundant, and 
which afford so much scope for petty personal animosities. 
The mathematician, while constructing his theorem, does 
not pause to inquire who may be interested in its future 
applications; nor does the philosopher, while calmly settling 
the conditions and principles of knowledge, concern himself 
about what opinions may ultimately be found incompatible 
with thorn : these may take care of themselves. Far 
above the dark vortex of theological strife in which punier 
intellects chafe and vex themselves in vain, Fichte struggles 
forward to the sunshine of pure thought, which sectarianism 
cannot see, because its weakened vision is already filled 
with a borrowed arid imperfect light. "Form and style," 
he says in his preface, " are my affair ; the censure or 
contempt which these may incur affects me alone ; and that 
is of little moment. The result is the affair of truth, and 
that is of moment. That must be subjected to a strict, but 
careful and impartial examination. I at least have acted 
impartially. I may have erred, and it would be astonishing 
if I had not. What measure of correction I may deserve, 
let the public decide. Every judgment, however expressed, 
I shall thankfully acknowledge; every objection which 
seems incompatible with the cause of truth, I shall meet as 
well as I can. To truth I solemnly devote myself, at this 
my first entrance into public life. Without respect of party 


or of reputation, I shall always acknowledge that to be truth 
which I recognise as such, come whence it may ; and never 
acknowledge that which I do not believe. The public will 
pardon me for having thus spoken of myself, on this first 
and only occasion. It may be of little importance to the 
world to receive this assurance, but it is of importance to 
me to call upon it to bear witness to this my solemn vow." 
Never was vow more nobly fulfilled ! 

In the spring of 1793, Fichte left Dantzig for Zurich, to 
accomplish the wish dearest to his heart. A part of Rahn s 
property had been saved from the wreck of his fortunes, and 
had been increased by the prudence and economy of his 
daughter. He was now anxious to see his children settled 
beside him, and to resume his personal intercourse with his 
destined son-in-law. It was arranged that wherever Fichte s 
abode might ultimately be fixed, the venerable old man 
should still enjoy the unremitting care and attention of his 
daughter. The following extracts are from a letter written 
shortly before Fichte s departure for Switzerland : 


" Dantzig, 5th March 1793. 

" In June, or at the latest, July, I shall be with thee : but 
I should wish to enter the walls of Zurich as thy husband : 
Is that possible ? Thy kind heart will give no hindrance to 
my wishes ; but I do not know the circumstances. But I 
hope, and this hope comforts me much. - God ! what 
happiness dost thou prepare for me, the unworthy ! - 1 
have never felt so deeply convinced that my existence is not 
to be in vain for the world as when I read thy letter. What 
I receive in thee, I have not deserved ; it can therefore be 
only a means of strengthening me for the labour and toil 
which yet await me. Let thy life but flow smoothly on, 
thou sweet, dear one ! 

" Thou wilt fashion thyself by me ! What I could perhaps 
give thee, thou dost not need ; what thou canst bestow on 
me, I need much. Do thou, good, kind one, shed a lasting 


peace upon this tempestuous heart ; pour gentle and win 
ning mildness over my fiery zeal for the ennobling of my 
fellow-men. By thee will I fashion myself, till I can go 
forth again more usefully. 

"I have great, glowing projects. My ambition (pride 
rather) thou canst understand. It is to purchase my place 
in the human race with deeds, to bind up with my existence 
eternal consequences for humanity and the whole spiritual 
world ; no one need know that I do it, if only it be done. 
What I shall be in the civil world, I know not. If instead 
of immediate activity I be destined to speech, my desire has 
already anticipated thy wish that it should be rather from 
a pulpit than from a chair. There is at present no want of 
prospects of that kind. Even from Saxony I receive most 
profitable invitations. I am about to go to Lubeck and 
Hamburg. In Dantzig they are unwilling to let me go. 
All that for the future ! That I am not idle, I have shown 
by refusing, within this half year, many invitations which 
would have been very alluring to idlers. For the present I 
will be nothing but Fichte. 

" I may perhaps desire an office in a few years. I hope 
it will not be wanting. Till then I can get what I require 
by my pen : at least, it has never failed me yet in my many 
wanderings and sacrifices." 

Fichte arrived in Zurich on the 16th day of June 1793, 
after having once more visited his parents, and received 
their entire approbation of his future plans. He was re 
ceived with cordial welcome by a numerous circle of his 
former friends, who were well acquainted with his growing 
reputation and his prospects of future eminence. After a 
residence of a few months in the family of Rahn, a delay 
rendered necessary by the laws of the state regarding fo 
reigners, his marriage with Johanna Rahn took place on 
the 22d of October at Baden, near Zurich. Lavater sent 
his congratulations, after his friendly fashion, in the fol 
lowing lines : 


an ,iFicf)te=Iaf)n un& an 

unb emutt) cereint wtrEt me cergcingltdje greuben, 
8teb ttn SBunbe mtt 8td)t erjeitgt unfterbltdje .Rinber: 
grette bet 2Baf>rf)ett btcf), fa oft bte SBldttrfjeu bu anbliefft." 

After a short tour in Switzerland, in the course of which his 
already wide-spread fame brought him into contact with 
several distinguished men, Baggesen, Pestalozzi, &c., 
Fichte took up his residence in the house of his father-in- 
law. Here he enjoyed for several months a life of undis 
turbed repose, in the society of her whose love had been 
his stay in times of adversity and doubt, and now gave to 
prosperity a keener relish and a holier aim. 

But while happiness and security dwelt in the peaceful 
Swiss canton, the rest of Europe was torn asunder by that 
fearful convulsion which made the close of last century the 
most remarkable period in the history of the world. Prin 
ciples which had once bound men together in bonds of truth 
and fealty had become false and hollow mockeries ; and that 
evil time had arrived in which those who were nominally 
the leaders and rulers of the people had ceased to command 
their reverence and attachment ; nay, by countless oppres 
sions and follies had become the objects of their bitter 
hatred and contempt. And now one nation speaks forth 
the word which all are struggling to utter, and soon every 
eye is turned upon France, the theatre on which the new 
act in the drama of human history is to be acted ; where 
freedom and right are once more to become realities ; where 
man, no longer a mere appendage to the soil, is to start 
forth on a new career of activity and honour, and show the 
world the spectacle of an ennobled and regenerated race. 
The enslaved of all nations rouse themselves at the shout of 
deliverance ; the patriot s heart throbs higher at the cry ; 
the poet dreams of a new golden age ; the philosopher looks 
with eager eye for the solution of the mighty problem of 
human destiny. All, alas ! are doomed to disappointment ; 
and over the grave where their hopes lie buried, a lesson of 


fearful significance stands inscribed in characters of deso 
lation and blood, proclaiming to all ages that where the 
law of liberty is not written upon the soul, outward freedom 
is a mockery and unchecked power a curse. 

In 1793 Fichte published his " Contributions to the cor 
rection of public opinion upon the French Revolution." 
The leading principle of this work is, that there is, and can 
be, no absolutely unchangeable political constitution, because 
none absolutely perfect can be realized ; the relatively best 
constitution must therefore carry within itself the principle 
of change and improvement. And if it be asked from whom 
this improvement should proceed, it is replied, that all 
parties to the political contract ought equally to possess 
this right. And by this political contract is to be under 
stood, not any actual and recorded agreement, for both 
the old and new opponents of this view think they can 
destroy it at once by the easy remark that we have no his 
torical proof of the existence of such a contract, but the 
abstract idea of a State, which, as the peculiar foundation of 
all rights, should lie at the bottom of every actual political 
fabric. The work comprises also an enquiry concerning the 
privileged classes in society, particularly the nobility and 
clergy, whose prerogatives are subjected to a prolonged and 
rigid scrutiny. In particular, the conflict between the 
universal rights of reason and historical privileges which 
often involve great injustice is brought prominently into 
notice. This book brought upon Fichte the charge of being 
a democrat, which was afterwards extended into that of 
atheism ! The following passage is from his own defence 
against the former charge, written at a later period : 

" And so I am a democrat ! And what is a democrat ? 
One who represents the democratic form of government as 
the only just one, and recommends its introduction ? I 
should think, if he does this merely in his writings, that ? 
even under a monarchical government, the refutation of his 
error, if it be an error, might be left to other literary men. 
So long as he makes no direct attempt to overthrow the ex 
isting government and put his own scheme in its place, I do 


not see how his opinions can come before the judgment-seat 
of the State, which takes cognizance of actions only. How 
ever, I know that my opponents think otherwise on this 
point. Let them think so if they choose ; does the ac 
cusation then justly apply to me ? am I a democrat in the 
foregoing sense of that word ? They may indeed have 
neither heard nor read anything about me, since they settled 
this idea in their minds and wrote " democrat " over my 
head in their imaginations. Let them look at my " prin 
ciples of Natural Law," vol. i. p. 189, &c. It is impossible 
to name any writer who has declared more decidedly, and on 
stronger grounds, against the democratic form of govern 
ment as an absolutely illegitimate form. Let them make 
a fair extract from that book. They will find that I require 
a submission to law, a jurisdiction of law over the actions of 
the citizen, such as was never before demanded by any 
teacher of jurisprudence, and has never been realized in any 
constitution. Most of the complaints which I have heard 
against this system have turned on the assertion that it de 
rogated too much from the freedom (licentiousness and law 
lessness) of men. I am thus far from preaching anarchy. 

" But they do not attach a definite and scientific mean 
ing to the word. If all the circumstances in which they use 
this expression were brought together, it might perhaps be 
possible to say what particular sense they annex to it ; and 
it is quite possible that, in this sense, I may be a very de 
cided democrat ; it is at least so far certain, that I would 
rather not be at all, than be the subject of caprice and not 
of law." 

During the period of his residence at Zurich, however, 
Fichte s attention was occupied with another subject, more 
important to science and to his own future fame than his 
political speculations. This was the philosophical system 
on which his reputation chiefly rests. It would be alto 
gether out of place in the present Memoir to enter at large 
upon a subject so vast and so profound, if indeed it might 
not prove altogether impossible to present, in any form in- 


telligible to the ordinary English reader, the results of these 
abstruse and difficult speculations. Yet the pecularities of 
Fichte s philosophical system are so intimately bound up 
with the personal character of its author, that both lose 
something of their completeness when considered apart 
from each other. And it is principally with a view to illus 
trate the harmony between his life and his philosophy that 
an attempt is here made to point out some of its distinguish 
ing features. As Fichte s system may be considered the 
complement of those which preceded it, we must view it 
in connexion with the more important of these. 

The final results of the philosophy of Locke were two-fold. 
In France, the school of Condillac, imitating the example of 
the English philosopher rather than following out his first 
principles, occupied itself exclusively with the phenomena of 
sensation, leaving out of sight the no less indisputable facts 
to which reflection is our sole guide. The consequence was 
a system of unmixed materialism, a deification of physical 
nature, and ultimately, avowed atheism. In Great Britain, 
the philosophy of experience was more justly treated : both 
sources of human knowledge which Locke indicated at the 
outset of his inquiry although in the body of his essay he 
analyzed one of them only were recognised by his followers 
in his own land, until Berkeley resolved the phenomena of 
sensation into those of reflection, and the same method which 
in France led to materialism, in England produced a system 
of intellectual idealism. Berkeley s principles were pushed 
to the extreme by Hume, who applying to the phenomena 
of reflection precisely the same analysis which Berkeley ap 
plied to those of sensation, demolished the whole fabric of 
human knowledge, and revealed, under the seemingly sub 
stantial foundations on which men had hitherto built their 
faith a yawning gulf of impenetrable obscurity and scepticism. 
Feeling, thought, nay consciousness itself became but fleeting 
phantasms without any abiding subject in which they could 

It may be safely affirmed that, notwithstanding the outcry 
which greeted the publication of the " Essay of Human 


Nature," and the senseless virulence which still loads the 
memory of its author with abuse, none of his critics have 
hitherto succeeded in detecting a fallacy in his main argu 
ment. Admit his premises, and you cannot consistently 
stop short of his conclusions. The Aristotelian theory of 
perception, which up to this period none had dared to 
impugn, having thus led, by a strictly necessary movement, 
to the last extreme of scepticism, the reaction which fol 
lowed, under Reid and the school of Common Sense, was 
naturally founded on a denial of the doctrine of representa 
tion, and on a more close analysis of our knowledge of the 
external world, and of the processes by which we acquire 
that knowledge. It has thus occurred that the distinguished 
philosophers of the Scotch School, although deserving of all 
gratitude for their acute investigations into the intellectual 
and moral phenomena of man, have yet confined themselves 
exclusively to the department of psychological analysis, and 
have thrown little direct light on the higher questions of 
metaphysical speculation. This was reserved for the modern 
school of Germany, of which Kant may be considered the 
head. Stewart, although contemporary with the philoso 
pher of Konigsberg, seems to have had not only an imper 
fect, but a quite erroneous, conception of his doctrines. 

Kant admitted the validity of Hume s conclusions re 
specting our knowledge of external things, on the premises 
from which they were deduced. He admitted that the 
human intellect could not go beyond itself, could not furnish 
us with any other than subjective knowledge. We are in 
deed constrained to assume the existence of an outward 
world to which we refer the impressions which come to us 
through our senses, but these impressions having to pass 
through the prism of certain inherent faculties or " catego- 
riss" of the understanding, by which their original character 
is modified, or perhaps altogether changed, we are not en 
titled to draw from them any conclusions as to the nature of 
the source whence they emanate. Our knowledge of the 
outward world is thus limited to the bare admission of its 
existence, and stands in the same relation to the outward 


world itself as the impressions conveyed to the eye through 
a kaleidoscope do to the collection of objects within the in 
strument. But is the outward world, which we are thus 
forced to abandon to doubt, the only reality for man ? Do 
we not find in consciousness something more than a cogni 
tive faculty ? We find besides, Will, Freedom, Self-deter 
mination ; and here is a world altogether independent of i 
sense, and of the knowledge of outward things. Freedom 
is the root, the very ground-work of our being ; free deter 
mination is the most intimate and certain fact in our 
nature. To this freedom we find an absolute law addressed, 
the unconditional law of morality. Here, then, in the 
practical world of duty, of free obedience, of moral deter 
mination, we have the true world of man, in which the 
moral agent is the only existence, the moral act the only 
reality. In this super-sensual world we regain, by the prac 
tical movement of Reason, our convictions of infinite and 
absolute existence, from the knowledge of which, as objec 
tive realities, we are shut out by the subjective limitations 
of the Understanding. Between the world of sense and the 
world of morality, and indissolubly connected with both, 
stands the aesthetic world, or the system of relations we 
hold with external things through our ideas of the Beauti 
ful, the Sublime, &c. ; which thus forms the bond of union 
between the sensible and spiritual worlds. These three 
worlds exhaust the elements of human consciousness. 

But while Kant, by throwing the bridge of aesthetic feel 
ing over the chasm which separates the sensible from the 
purely spiritual world, established an outward communica 
tion between them, he did not attempt to reconcile he 
maintained the impossibility of reconciling their essential 
opposition. So far as the objective world is concerned, his 
system is one of mere negation. It is in this reconciliation, 
in tracing this opposition to its source, in the establish 
ment of the unity of the sensible and spiritual worlds, that 
Fichte s " Wissen.haftslehre " follows out and completes the 
philosophical system of which Kant had laid the founda 
tion. In it, for the first time, philosophy becomes, not a 



theory of knowledge, but knowledge itself: for in it the 
apparent division of the subject thinking from the object 
thought of is abolished, by penetrating to the primitive 
unity out of which this opposition arises. 

The origin of this opposition, and the principle by which 
it is to be reconciled, must be sought for in the nature of 
the thinking subject itself. Our own consciousness is the 
source of all our positive and certain knowledge. It pre 
cedes, and is the ground of, all other knowledge ; nay it 
embraces within itself everything which we truly know. 
The facts of our own mental, experience alone possess true 
reality for us ; whatever is more than these, however pro 
bable as an inference, does not belong to the sphere of 
knowledge. Here, then, in the depths of th^ mind itself, 
we must look for a fixed and certain starting point for 
philosophy. Fichte finds such a starting point in the pro 
position or axiom (A= A.) This proposition is at once recog 
nised by every one as absolutely and unconditionally true. 
But in affirming this proposition we also affirm our own ex 
istence, for the affirmation itself is our own mental act. The 
proposition may therefore be changed into (Ego=Ego.) But 
this affirmation itself postulates the existence of something 
not included in its subject, or in other words, out of the 
affirmative axiom (A=A) there arises the negative proposition 
( -A not=A,} or as before, (Non-Ego rzo=Ego.) In this act 
of negation the mind assumes the existence of a Non-Ego 
opposed to itself, and forming a limitation to its own 
existence. This opposition occurs in every act of conscious 
ness ; and in the voluntary and spontaneous limits which 
the mind thus sets to its own activity, it creates for itself 
an objective world. 

The fundamental character of finite being is thus the 
supposition of itself (thesis}, and of something opposed to 
itself (anti-thesis) ; which two conceptions are reciprocal, mu 
tually imply each other, and are hence identical (synthesis.) 
The Ego affirms the Non-Ego, and is affirmed in it ; the 
two conceptions are indissoluble, nay they are but one con 
ception modified by different attitudes of the mind. But as 


these attitudes are in every case voluntarily assumed by the 
iCgo, it is itself the only real existence, and the Non-Ego, as 
well as the varied aspects attributed to it, are but different 
forms of the activity of the Ego. Here, then, Realism and 
Idealism coincide in the identity of the subject and object 
of thought, and the absolute principle of knowledge is dis 
covered in the mind itself. 

But in thus establishing the Non-Ego as a limit to its 
own free activity, the Ego does not perform a mere arbitrary 
act. It constantly sets before it, as its aim or purpose, the 
realization of its own nature ; and this effort after self- 
development is the root of our practical existence. This 
effort is limited by the Non-Ego, the creation of the Ego 
itself for the purposes of its own moral life. Hence the 
practical Ego must regard itself as acted upon by influences 
from without, as restrained by something other than itself, 
in one word, as finite. But this limitation, or in other 
words the Non-Ego, is a mere creation of the Ego, without 
true life or existence in itself, and only assumed as a field 
for the self-development of the Ego. Let us suppose this 
assumed obstacle removed or laid aside, and the original 
activity of the Ego left without limitation or restraint. In 
this case, ike finite individuality of the Ego disappears with 
the limitations which produce it, and we ascend to the first 
principle of a spiritual organization in which the multiform 
phenomena of individual life are embraced in an Infinite 
ull-comprehending Unity, " an Absolute Ego, in whose 
.self-determination all the Non-Ego is determined." 

Fichte has been accused of teaching a system of mere 
Egoism, of elevating the subjective personality of man into 
the place of God. No one who is acquainted with any of 
bis later writings can fail to see the falsity of this charge; 
but as it has been alleged that in these works he abandoned 
the principles which he advocated in earlier life, it may not 
be unimportant to show that the charge is utterly ground 
less, and inapplicable even to the first outlines of his phi 
losophical theory. The following passages occur in a let 
ter to Jacobi, dated 30th August 1795, when transmitting 


to him a copy of the first edition of the Wissenschaftslehre, 
and seem to be quite conclusive as to the fact that the 
Absolute Ego of his earlier teaching may be scientifically, 
as well as morally, identified with the highest results of his 
later doctrines. 

dFtcf)te to .gfacoit. 

" I have read your writings again this summer during 
the leisure of a charming country residence, read them 
again and again, and I am everywhere, but especially in 
" Allwill" astonished at the striking similarity of our phi 
losophical convictions. The public will scarcely believe in 
this similarity, and perhaps you yourself may not readily do 
so, for in that case it would be required of you to deduce 
the details of a whole system from the uncertain outlines of 
an introduction. You are indeed well known to be a 
Realist, and I to be a transcendental Idealist more severe 
than even Kant himself ; for with him there is still recog 
nised a multiform object of experience, whilst I maintain, 
in plain language, that this object is itself produced by us 
through our own creative power. Permit me to come to an 
understanding with you on this point. 

" My Absolute Ego is obviously not the Individual ; 
although this has been maintained by offended courtiers 
and chagrined philosophers, in order to impute to me the 
scandalous doctrine of practical Egoism. But the Individual 
must le deduced from the Absolute Ego. Thus the Wissen 
schaftslehre enters at once into the domain of natural right. 
A finite being as may be shown by deduction can only 
conceive of itself as a sensuous existence in a sphere of 
sensuous existences, over one portion of which (a portion 
which can have no beginning) it exercises causality, and 
with another portion of which (a portion to which we 
ascribe the notion of causality), it stands in relations of 
reciprocal influence ; and in so far it is called an Indivi 
dual : (the conditions of Individuality are Eights.} So surely 
as it affirms itself as an Individual, so surely does it affirm 
such a sphere ; for both are reciprocal notions. When we 
regard ourselves as Individuals in which case we always 


look upon ourselves as living, and not as philosophizing or 
poetizing, we take our stand upon that point of view 
which I call practical ; that of the Absolute Ego bein"- 
speculative. Henceforward, from this practical point of 
view there is a world for us, independent of ourselves, which 
we can only modify; and thus too the Pure Ego, which 
does not disappear from this region, is necessarily placed 
without us, objectified, and called God. How could we 
otherwise have arrived at the qualities which we ascribe to 
God, and deny to ourselves, had we not first discovered 
them in ourselves, and only denied them to ourselves in one 
particular respect i. e., as Individuals ? This practical 
point of view is the domain of Realism ; by the deduction 
and recognition of this point from the side of speculation 
itself arises that complete reconciliation of philosophy with 
the Common Sense of man, which is promised in the Wis- 

" To what end, then, is the speculative point of view, and 
with it all philosophy, if it belong not to life ? Had hu 
manity never tasted of this forbidden fruit, it might indeed 
have done without philosophy. But there is implanted 
within us a desire to gaze upon this region which transcends 
all individuality, not by a mere reflected light, but in direct 
and immediate vision; and the first man who raised a 
question concerning the^ existence of God, broke through 
the restrictive limits, shook humanity to its deepest founda 
tions, and set it in a controversy with itself which is not 
yet adjusted, and which ean be adjusted only by a bold ad 
vance to that highest region of thought from which the 
speculative and practical points of view are seen to be 
united. We begin to philosophize from presumption, and thus 
become bankrupt of our innocence ; \ve see our nakedness, 
and then philosophize from necessity for our redemption. 

" But do I not philosophize as confidently with you, and 
write as openly, as if I were already assured o*f your in 
terest in my philosophy ? Indeed my heart tells me that 
I do not deceive myself in assuming the existence of this 


" Allwili gives the transcendental Idealists the hope of 
an enduring peace and even of a kind of alliance, if they 
will but content themselves with finding their own limits, 
and making these secure. I believe that I have now ful 
filled this condition. If I have moreover, from this sup 
posed hostile land, guaranteed and secured to Realism itself 
its own proper domain, then I may lay claim not merely to 
a kind of alliance, but to an alliance of the completest 

Still more decisive on this point is the following passage 
from a review of Schulz s " ^Enesidemus," in the Literatur 
Zeitung for 1794 : 

" In the Pure Ego, Reason is not practical, neither is it so 
in the Ego as Intelligence ; it becomes so only by the effort 
of these to unite. That this principle must lie at the root 
of Kant s doctrine itself, although he has nowhere distinctly 
declared it; further, how a practical philosophy arises 
through the representation by the intelligent Ego to itself 
of this hyper-physical effort, in its progressive ascent 
through the various steps which man must traverse in theo 
retical philosophy, this is nt>t the place to show. Such an 
union, an Ego in whose Self-determination all the Non- 
Ego is determined (the Idea of God] is the highest object 
of this effort. Such an effort, when the intelligent Ego 
conceives this object as something external to itself, is 
faith : (Faith in God.} This effort can never cease, until 
after the attainment of its object;. that is, Intelligence can 
not regard as the last any moment of its existence in which 
this object has not yet been attained, (Faith in an Eternal 
Existence?) In these ideas, however, there is nothing possible 
for us but Faith ; i. e. Intelligence has here no empirical 
perception for its object, but only the necessary effort of the 
Ego; and throughout all Eternity nothing more than this 
can become possible. But this faith is by no means a mere 
probable opinion ; on the contrary, it possesses, at least ac 
cording to the testimony of our inmost convictions, the same 
degree of certainty with the immediately certain postulate 


/ am a certainty infinitely superior to all objective cer 
tainty, which can only become possible mediately, through 
the existence of the intelligent Ego. ^Enesidemus indeed 
demands an objective proof for the existence of God and the 
Immortality of the soul. What can he mean by this ? Or 
does objective certainty appear to him superior to subjec 
tive certainty ? The axiom I am myself possesses only 
subjective certainty; and so far as we can conceive of the 
self-consciousness of God, even God is subjective so faf as 
regards himself. And then, as to an objective existence of 
Immortality! (these are yEnesideinus own words), should 
any being whatever, contemplating its existence in time, de 
clare at any moment of that existence Now, I am eternal ! 
then, on that very account, it could not be eternal." 

We have seen that the attitude of the finite Ego towards 
the Non-Ego is practical ; towards the Infinite Ego, specu 
lative. In the first relation we find ourselves surrounded 
by existences, over one part of which we exercise causality, 
and with the other (in whom we suppose an independent 
causality) we are in a state of reciprocal influence. In these 
relations the active and moral powers of man find their 
sphere. The moral law imparts to its objects to all 
things whose existence is implied in its fulfilment the 
same certainty which belongs to itself. The outward world 
assumes a new reality, for we have imperative duties to 
perform which demand its existence. Life qeases to be an 
empty show without truth or significance ; it is our field of 
duty, the theatre on which our moral destiny is to be 
wrought out. The voice of conscience, of highest reason, 
bids us know, love, and honour beings like ourselves ; and 
those beings crowd around us. The ends of their and our 
existence demand the powers and appliances of physical life 
for their attainment ; that life, and the means of sustaining 
and using it, stand before us. The world is nothing more 
than the sphere and object of human activity ; it exists be 
cause the purposes of our moral life require its existence. 
Of the law of duty we are immediately certain ; the world 


becomes a reality to us by means of that previous certainty. 
Our life begins with an action, not a thought ; we do not 
act because we know, but we know because we are called 
upon to act. 

But not only does the law of human activity require our 
faith in its immediate objects and implements ; it also 
points to a purpose, an aim, in our actions, lying beyond 
themselves, to which they stand related as means to an end. 
Not that the moral law is dependent on the perception of 
this end the moral law is absolute and imperative in it 
self; but we necessarily connect with our actions some 
future result as a consequence to which they inevitably 
tend, as the final accomplishment of the purpose which gave 
them birth. The moral sense cannot find such a fulfilment 
in the present life ; the forces of nature, the desires and 
passions of men, constantly oppose its dictates. It revolts 
against the permanence of things as they now are, and un 
ceasingly strives to make them better. Nor can the indi 
vidual look for such an accomplishment of the moral law of 
his nature in the progressive improvement of his species. 
Were the highest grade of earthly perfection conceived and 
attained in the physical and moral world (as it is conceivable 
and attainable) Reason would still propose a higher grade 
beyond it. And even this measure of perfection could not 
be appropriated by humanity as its own, as the result of its 
own exertions, but must be considered as the creation of an 
unknown power, by whose unseen agency the basest passions 
of men, and even their vices and crimes, have been made 
the instruments of this consummation ; while too often 
their good resolutions appear altogether lost to the world, 
or even to retard the purposes which they were apparently 
designed to promote. The chain of material causes and 
effects is not affected by the motives and feelings which 
prompt an action, but solely by the action itself; and the 
purposes of mere physical existence would be as well, or 
even better promoted by an unerring mechanism as by the 
agency of free beings. Nevertheless, if moral obedience be 
a reasonable service, it must have its result ; if the Reason 


which commands it be not an utterly vain delusion, its law 
must be fulfilled. That law is the first principle of our 
nature, and it gives us the assurance, our faith in which no 
difficulty can shake, that no moral act can be fruitless, no 
work of Keason utterly lost. A chain of causes and effects, 
in which Freedom is superfluous and without aim, cannot 
thus be the limit of our existence : the law of our being can 
not be fulfilled in the world of sense ; there must then be 
a super-sensual world in which it may be accomplished. In 
this purely spiritual world, will alone is the first link of a 
chain of consequences which pervades the whole invisible 
realm of being ; as action, in the sensual world, is the first 
link of a material chain which runs through the whole 
system of nature. Will is the active living principle of the 
super-sensual world ; it may break forth in a material act, 
which belongs to the sensual world, and do there that which 
pertains to a material act to do ; but, independently of all 
physical manifestation, it flows forth in endless spiritual 
activity. Here human Freedom is untrammeled by earthly 
obstructions, and the moral law of our being may find that 
accomplishment which it sought in vain in the world of 

But although we are immediately conscious that our Will, 
our moral activity, must lead to consequences beyond itself, 
we yet cannot know what those consequences may be, nor 
how they are possible. In respect of the nature of these 
results, the present life is, in relation to the future, a life in 
faith. In the future life we shall possess these results, for 
we shall then make them the groundwork of new activity, 
and thus the future life will be, in relation to the present, 
a life in sight. But the spiritual world is even now with us, 
for we are already in possession of the principle from which 
it springs. Our Will, our free activity, is the only attribute 
which is solely and exclusively our own ; and by it we are 
already citizens of the eternal world ; the kingdom of 
heaven is here, or nowhere it cannot become more imme 
diately present at any point of finite existence. This life is 
the beginning of our being ; the outward world is freely 



given to us as a firm ground on which we may commence 
our course ; the future life is its continuation, for which we 
must ourselves create a starting-period in the present ; and 
should the aim of this second life prove as unattainable to 
finite power as the end of the first is to us now, then the 
fresh strength, the firmer purpose, the clearer sight which 
shall be its immediate growth, will open to us another and 
a higher sphere of activity. But the world of duty is an 
infinite world ; every finite exertion has but a definite 
aim ; and beyond the highest point toward which our la 
bouring being strives, a higher still appears ; and to such 
progression we can conceive no end. By free determination 
in the effort after moral perfection, we have laid hold on 
Eternal Life. 

In the physical world we see certain phenomena following 
each other with undeviating regularity. We cannot see 
that what we name cause has in itself any power over that 
which we call effect, that there is any relation between them 
except that of invariable sequence. But we suppose a law 
under which both subsist, which regulates the mode of their 
existence, and by the efficiency of which the order of their 
succession is determined. So likewise, in the spiritual 
world, we entertain the firmest conviction that our moral 
Will is connected with certain consequences, though we 
cannot understand how mere Will can of itself produce such 
consequences. We here again conceive of a law under which 
our Will, and the Will of all finite beings, exists, in virtue 
of which it is followed by certain results, and out of which 
all our relations with other beings arise. So far as our Will 
is simply an internal act, complete in itself, it lies wholly 
within our own power ; so far as it is a fact in the super- 
sensual world the first of a train of spiritual consequences, 
it is not dependent on ourselves, but on the law which 
governs the super-sensual world. But the super-sensual 
world is a world of Freedom, of living activity ; its principle 
cannot therefore be a mechanical force, but must itself 
possess this Freedom this living activity. It can be no 
thing else than self-determining Reason. But self-deter 
mining Reason is Will. The law of the super-sensual world 


must thus be a Will ; a will operating without material 
implement or manifestation, which is in itself both act and 
product, which is eternal and unchangeable, so that on it 
finite beings may securely rely, as the physical man does on 
the laws of his world, that through it, all their moral acts of 
Will, and these only, shall lead to certain and unfailing 
results. In this Living Will, as the principle of the spiritual 
world, has our moral Will its first consequence ; and through 
Him its energy is propagated throughout the series of finite 
beings who are the products of the Infinite Will. He is the 
spiritual bond which unites all free beings together : not 
immediately can they know or influence each other, for they 
are separated from each other by an impassable barrier ; 
their mutual knowledge comes through Him alone, to whom 
all are equally related. Our faith in duty, and in the ob 
jects of duty, is only faith in Him, in His wisdom, in His 
truth. He is thus the creator and sustainer of all things ; 
for in Him alone all the thronging forms which people our 
dream of life " live and move and have their being." All 
partake His essence : material nature disappears, but its 
images are invested with a new reality. All our life is His 
life ; and we are eternal, for He is eternal. Birth and the 
grave are no more; but, in their stead, undying energy and 
immortal youth. Of Him the Infinite One, of the mode 
of His being, we know nothing, nor need we to know ; we 
cannot pierce the inaccessible light in which He dwells, but 
through the shadows which veil His presence from us, an 
endless stream of life, power, and action flows around and 
about us, bearing us and all finite things onward to new life, 
love, and beauty. 

" The ONE remains, the many change and pass ; 
Heaven s light for ever shines, Earth s shadows fly ; 
Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass, 
Stains the \vhite radiance of Eternity, 
Until Death tramples it to fragments." 

All Death in nature is Birth, the assumption of a new 
garment, to replace the old vesture which humanity has laid 
aside in its progress to higher being. And serene above all 
change, the unattainable object, of all finite effort fountain 


of our life home of our spirits Thou art the One Being, 
the I AM, for whom Reason has no idea, and Language 
no name. 

" Sublime and living Will, named by no name, compassed 
by no thought, I may well raise my soul to Thee, for Thou 
and I are not divided. Thy voice sounds within me, mine 
resounds in Thee ; and all my thoughts, if they are but good 
and true, live in Thee also. In Thee, the Incomprehensible, 
I myself, and the world in which I live, become clearly com 
prehensible to me, all the secrets of my existence are laid 
open, and perfect harmony arises in my soul. 

" Thou art best known to the childlike, devoted, simple 
mind. To it Thou art the searcher of hearts, who seest its 
inmost depths ; the ever-present true witness of its thoughts, 
who knowest its truth, who knowest it though all the world 
know it not. Thou art the Father who ever desirest its 
good, who rulest all things for the best. To Thy will it un 
hesitatingly resigns itself : Do with me, it says, what thou 
wilt ; I know that it is good, for it is Thou who dost it. 
The inquisitive understanding, which has heard of Thee, 
but seen Thee not, would teach us Thy nature ; and, as Thy 
image, shows us a monstrous and incongruous shape, which 
the sagacious laugh at, and the wise and good abhor. 

" I hide my face before Thee, and lay my hand upon my 
mouth. How Thou art, and seemest to Thine own being, I 
can never know, any more than I can assume Thy nature. 
After thousands upon thousands of spirit-lives, I shall com 
prehend Thee as little as I do now in this earthly house. 
That which I conceive, becomes finite through my very 
conception of it ; and this can never, even by endless exalta 
tion, rise into the Infinite. Thou differest from men, not in 
degree but in nature. In every stage of their advancement 
they think of Thee as a greater man, and still a greater : 
but never as God the Infinite, whom no measure can 
mete. I have only this discursive, progressive thought, and 
I can conceive of no other : how can I venture to ascribe it 
to Thee ? In the idea of person there are imperfections, 
limitations : how I can clothe Thee with it without these? 


" I will not attempt that which the imperfection of my 
finite nature forbids, and which would be useless to me :- 
how Thou art, I may not know. But Thy relations to me 
the mortal and to all mortals, lie open before my eyes, 
were I but what I ought to be, and surround me more 
clearly than the consciousness of my own existence. Thou 
workest in me the knowledge of my duty, of my vocation in 
the world of reasonable beings :Jtow, I know not, nor need 
I to know. Thou knowest what I think and what I will : 
how Thou canst know, through what act Thou bringest about 
that consciousness, I cannot understand, nay, I know that 
the idea of an act, of a particular act of consciousness, be 
longs to me alone, and not to Thee, the Infinite One. 
Thou wiliest that my free obedience shall bring with it 
eternal consequences : the act of Thy will I cannot com 
prehend, I know only that it is not like mine. Thou 
doest, and Thy will itself is the deed : but the way of Thy 
working is not as my ways, I cannot trace it. Thou livest 
and art, for Thou knowest and wiliest and workest, omni 
present to finite Reason ; but Thou art not as / now and 
always must conceive of being."* 

Such is a very broken and imperfect outline of the most 
complete system of Transcendental Idealism ever offered to 
the world. To those few among British students, who, amid 
the prevailing degradation of sentiment and frivolity of 
thought, have pondered the deep mysteries of being until 
the common logic, which pretends to grasp its secret, seems 
a vain and presumptuous trifling with questions which lie 
far beyond its reach, and who find in the theological solu 
tion but a dry and worthless husk which conceals the kernel 
of truth it was only meant to preserve,- to such it may be 
no unacceptable service to have pointed the way to a modern 
Academe, where the moral dignity of the Athenian sage is 
united with the poetic sublimity and intellectual keenness 
of his two most distinguished pupils. If by such humble 

Bestimmung des Mensi hen, Rook III. 


guidance any should be induced to turn aside towards that 
retreat, let them not be deterred if at first the path should 
seem to lack something of the smoothness of the well- 
trodden highway on which they have hitherto travelled ; 
let them proceed courageously ; it will lead them into calm 
sunshine, and beside clear and refreshing streams ; nor 
shall they return thence without nobler thoughts and higher 

Fichte lived in close retirement in Zurich. The manners 
of the inhabitants did not please him, and he seldom came 
out into society. His wife, his father-in-law, Lavater, and a 
few others, composed his circle. Rahn enjoyed in no ordi 
nary degree the society of his distinguished son-in-law ; and 
it is pleasing to know that the celebrated and venerable 
preacher preserved, even in advanced age, a keen relish for 
new truth, a perfect openness of mind not frequently met 
with in his profession. At his request Fichte prepared a 
short course of lectures, by which his friends might be intro 
duced to an acquaintance with the Critical Philosophy, the 
fame of which had now reached Switzerland. At the con 
clusion of the lectures Lavater addressed a letter of thanks 
to his young instructor, full of the strongest expressions of 
gratitude and esteem, in which he styles himself his " pupil, 
friend, and fellow-man." Up to the period of his death, this 
excellent man retained the warmest feelings of friendship 
towards the philosopher ; and the following lines, written 
some years after Fichte s departure from Zurich ; whatever 
may be their value in other respects, serve at least to show 
the respect, almost approaching to reverence, with which 
Fichte was regarded by one who was himself no ordinary 
man : 

IBrnfefetle uacf) menmn Cotre. an &errn ^rofrseor jFtrflte, 1800. 
Unermc&fcarer enfer, >dn Safetyn fcemeift mtr t>a$ )aj>t)n, 

gtneS ettngen eifcg, bent fcolje etfter enffrablm! 

Ronnteft \t >u jweifebt : tdj jleltfe Didj felbfl cor Strf) felbft nur ; 

Seicjte Mr in ir felbft ten <3trabJ be emigen eifteS." 

Although Fichte had as yet published nothing to which 


his name was attached, he had nevertheless acquired an ex 
tensive philosophical reputation. In several powerful and 
searching criticisms which appeared in the " Allgemeine 
Literatur Zeitung," the hand of the author of the " Critique 
of Revelation " was discovered. He was now generally 
looked upon as the man who was destined to complete the 
philosophy of Kant, and was thus led into literary corre 
spondence with some of the most distinguished men of the 
day. At the head of these must be placed Reinhold, the 
professor of philosophy at Jena, who had hitherto stood fore 
most among the disciples of Kant. The relation between 
these two celebrated men was a most remarkable one. 
Although their characters were very different, although they 
never saw each other, they lived on terms of the most in 
timate and trustful confidence, such as is commonly attained 
by long-tried friendship alone. In their extensive corre 
spondence, Fichte s powerful and commanding intellect 
evidently possesses great ascendency over the more diffident 
and pliable nature of Reinhold ; but his influence never in 
terferes with the mental freedom of his friend. On the 
other hand, Reinhold s open enthusiastic character, and his 
pure love of truth, engaged the warm affection and sympathy 
of his more daring correspondent ; while the frequent mis 
understandings which lend an almost dramatic interest to 
their letters, afford room for the exhibition of manly and 
generous kindness in both. In 1797 Reinhold abandoned 
his own system and accepted the " Wissenschaftslehre," an 
nouncing the change to Fichte in the following terms : 

" I have at length come to understand your " Wissen 
schaftslehre," or, what is the same thing to me philosophy 
without nickname. It now stands before me as a perfect 
whole, founded on itself the pure conception of self-conscious 
Reason, the mirror of our better selves. Individual parts 
are still obscure to me, but they cannot now deprive me of 
my comprehension of the whole; and their number is dimin 
ishing every day. Beside it lie the ruins of the edifice which 
cost me so much time and labour, in which I thought to 
dwell so securely and commodiously, to entertain so many 


guests, in which I laughed, not without self-gratulation, over 
so many Kantists who mistook the scaffolding for the house 
itself. This catastrophe would have caused me much pain 
for a time, if it had happened by the hand of scepti 

" Adieu ! I salute you with the" deepest gratitude. Is 
personal intercourse absolutely necessary to the growth of 
friendship ? I doubt it. For indeed it is not mere gratitude, 
not mere reverence, it is heartfelt love that I feel for you, 
since I now, through your philosophy, understand yourself." 

In Fichte s literary correspondence while at Zurich we 
find the first intimations of his departure from the system 
of Kant, and his plan of a complete and comprehensive 
philosophy. He could not rest satisfied with results alone, 
unless he could perceive the grounds on which they rested. 
His reason imperatively demanded absolute unity of con 
ception, without separation, without division, above all 
without opposition. Writing to Niethamrner in October 
1793 he says " My conviction is that Kant has only indi* 
cated the truth, but neither unfolded nor proved it. This 
singular man either has a power of divining truth, without 
being himself conscious of the grounds on which it rests 
or he has not esteemed his age worthy of the communication 
of those grounds ; or he has shrunk from attracting that 
superhuman reverence during his life, which sooner or later 
must be his in some degree." And as the great idea of his 
own system dawned upon his mind, he says to Stephani, 
" I have discovered a new principle, from which all philosophy 

can easily be deduced In a couple of years 

we shall have a philosophy with all the clearness of geo 
metrical demonstration." To the development of this 
scheme he devoted all the energies of his powerful intellect 
during the leisure of his retirement, He refused an invita 
tion to become tutor to the Prince of Mecklenberg-Strelitz : 
" I desire," he says, " nothing but leisure to execute my 
plan, then fortune may do with me what it will." 

But his studies were soon broken in upon by a call of 


another and more important nature. This was his appoint 
ment as Professor Supernumerarius of Philosophy at the 
University of Jena, in room of Reinhold who removed to 
Kiel. The distinguished honour of this invitation, unasked 
and unexpected, and the extensive field of usefulness which 
it opened up to him, determined Fichte at once to accept it. 
Unahle, however, to satisfy himself that his views were as 
yet so fully matured and settled as to justify him in entering 
at once upon the important duties of a teacher, invested as 
these were to his mind with a peculiar sacredness and so 
lemnity, he endeavoured to obtain a postponement of his 
inauguration which had been fixed for Easter 1794, in order 
that, by the more complete elaboration of the principle which 
he had discovered, he might be able to elevate his philosophy 
at once to the rank of positive science. For this purpose he 
requested a year s delay. But as it was considered that the 
interests of the University might suffer by the chair remain 
ing so long vacant, his request was refused, with permission, 
however, to devote the greater part of his time, during the 
first year, to study. He therefore sent an unconditional ac 
ceptance, and plunged at once into the most arduous pre 
paration for his new duties. 

Weimar and its neighbouring University was at this time 
the focus of German literature and learning. The Grand 
Duke Charles Augustus had gathered around him the most 
distinguished men of his age, and Wieland, Herder, Goethe, 
Schiller and Humboldt shed a more than Medicean lustre 
upon the little Saxon Court. Probably at no other period 
was so much high genius, engaged in every department of 
mental exertion, gathered together in one spot. The Uni 
versity, too, was the most numerously frequented of any in 
Germany, not by the youth of Saxony alone, but by students 
from almost every part of Europe : Switzerland, Denmark, 
Poland, Hungary, the Free Cities, and even France, sent 
their sons to Jena for education. The brilliant intellect 
ual circle at Weimar presented to the cultivated mind at 
tractions which could be found nowhere else ; whilst at Jena 



the academic teacher found a most extensive and honourable 
field for the exercise of his powers. It was to this busy 
scene of mental activity that Fichte was called from his Swiss 
retreat, to the society of the greatest living men, to the 
instruction of this thronging crowd from all surrounding 
nations. Previous to his own appearance, he published as 
a programme of his lectures, the " Begriff der Wissenschafts- 
lehre, oder der Sogenannten Philosophic." The high re 
putation he had already acquired, and the bold originality 
of his system, drew universal attention. Expectation was 
strained to the utmost ; so that those who had marked the 
rapid growth of his fame had great apparent reason to fear 
that it might prove short-lived. But notwithstanding the 
shortness of the time allowed him for preparation, he en 
tered upon his course with a clear perception of the task 
that lay before him, and confident reliance on his own 
power to fulfil the important duties to which he was called. 
He arrived at Jena on the 18th of May 1794, and was 
received with great kindness by his colleagues at the Uni 
versity. On the 23d he delivered his first lecture. The 
largest hall in Jena, although crowded to the roof, proved 
insufficient to contain the audience. His singular and 
commanding address, his fervid, fiery eloquence, the rich 
profusion of his thoughts, following each other in the most 
convincing sequence and modelled with the sharpest pre 
cision, astonished and delighted his hearers. His triumph 
was complete ; he left the Hall the most popular Professor 
of the greatest University in Germany. The following acute 
and graphic remarks on this subject, from Forberg s "Frag- 
menten aus meinen Papieren," afford us some glimpse of 
the opinions entertained of him by his contemporaries at 

Jena : 

"Jena, llth May 1794. 

" I look with great confidence to Fichte, who is daily ex 
pected here. But I would have had still greater confidence 
in him if he had written the "Kritik der Offenbarung" 
twenty years later. A young man who ventures to write a 
masterpiece must commonly suffer for it. He is what he is, 


but he will not be what he might have been. He has spent 
his strength too soon, and his later fruits will at least want 
ripeness. A great mind has no merit if it does not possess 
sufficient resignation not to appear great for a time, that 
thereby it may become greater. If a man cannot sacrifice a 
dozen years fame as an offering to truth, what else can he 
lay upon her altar ? I believe that Reinhold s theory has 
done much injury to the study of the Kantian Philosophy, 
but that is nothing to the injury it has done to the author 
himself. His philosophy is finished for this world, nothing- 
more is to be expected from him but polemics and reminis 
cences. Fichte is not here yet, but I am eager to know 
whether he has anything still to learn. It would be almost 
a wonder if he had, considering the incense that they burn 
before him. Oh ! there is nothing so easily unlearned as 
the power of learning." 

" 7</t December 1794. 

" Since Reinhold has left us, his philosophy (with us at 
least) has expired. Every trace of the " Philosophy without 
nickname" has vanished from among the students. Fichte is 
believed in, as Reinhold never was believed in. They under 
stand him indeed even less than they did his predecessor ; 
but they believe all the more obstinately on that account. 
Ego and Non-Ego are now the symbols of the philosophers 
of yesterday, as substance and form were formerly. 

" Fichte s philosophy is, so to speak, more philosophical 
than Reinhold s. You hear him going digging arid seeking 
after truth. In rough masses he brings it forth from the 
deep, and throws it from him. He does not say what he 
will do ; he does it. Reinhold s doctrine was rather an an 
nouncement of a philosophy, than a philosophy itself. He 
has never fulfilled his promises. Not unfrequently did he 
give forth the promise for the fulfilment. He never will ful 
fil them, for he is now past away. Fichte seems really de 
termined to work upon the world through his philosophy. 
The tendency to restless activity which dwells in the breast 
of every noble youth he would carefully nourish and cultivate, 
fhat it may in due season bring forth fruit. He seizes 


every opportunity of teaching that action action is the 
vocation of man ; whereby it is only to be feared that the 
majority of young men who lay the maxim to heart may look 
upon this summons to action as only a summons to demoli 
tion. And, strictly speaking, the principle is false. Man is 
not called upon to act, but to act j ustly ; if he cannot act 
without acting unjustly; he had better remain inactive. 

" Every reader of Kant or Fichte is seized by a deep feel 
ing of the superiority of these mighty minds ; who wrestle 
with their subjects, as it were, to grind them to powder ; 
who seem to say all that they do say to us, only that we 
may conjecture how much more they could say. 

" All the truth that J has written is not worth a tenth 

part of the false which Fichte may have written. The one 
gives me a small number of known truths ; the other gives 
me perhaps one truth, but in doing so, opens before me the 
prospect of an infinity of unknown truths. 

" It is certain that in Fichte s philosophy there is quite a 
different spirit from that which pervades the philosophy of 
his predecessor. The spirit of the latter is a weak, fearful 
spirit, which timidly includes wide, narrow, and narrowest 
shades of meaning between the hedges and fences of a " to 
some extent " and " in so far ;" a weak exhausted spirit, 
which conceals (and ill-conceals) its poverty of thought be 
hind the mantle of scholastic phraseology, and whose Phi 
losophy is form without substance, a skeleton without flesh 
and blood, body without life, promise without fulfilment. 
But the spirit of Fichte s philosophy is a proud and bold 
spirit, for which the domain of human knowledge, even in 
its widest extent, is too narrow ; which opens up new paths 
at every step it takes ; which struggles with language in 
order to wrest from it words enough for its wealth of 
thought ; which does not lead us, but seizes and hurries us 
along, and whose finger cannot touch an object without 
bruising it to dust. But that which especially gives Fichte s 
philosophy quite another interest from that of Reinhold, is 
this, that in all his inquiries there is a motion, a struggle, 
an effort, thoroughly to solve the hardest problems of Reason. 


His predecessor never appeared to suspect the existence of 
these problems to say nothing of their solution. Fichte s 
philosophemes are inquiries in which we see the truth before 
our eyes, and thus they produce knowledge and conviction. 
Reinhold s philosophemes are exhibitions of results, the 
production of which goes on behind the scenes. We may 
believe, but we cannot know ! . . . . 

" The fundamental element of Fichte s character is the 
highest honesty. Such a character commonly knows little 
of delicacy and refinement. In his writings we do not meet 
with much that is particularly beautiful ; his best passages 
are always distinguished by greatness and strength. He 
does not sav fine things, but all his words have force and 


weight. He wants the amiable, kind, attractive, accomo- 
dating spirit of Reinhold. His principles are severe, and 
not much softened by humanity. Nevertheless he suffers 
what Reinhold could not suffer contradiction ; and under 
stands what Reinhold could not understand a joke. His 
superiority is not felt to be so humiliating as that of Rein- 
hold 5 but when he is called forth, he is terrible. His is a 
restless spirit, thirsting for opportunity to do great things 
in the world. 

"Fichte s public delivery does not flow on smoothly, sweetly 
and softly, as Reinhold s did ; it rushes along like a tempest, 
discharging its fire in separate masses. He does not move 
the soul as Reinhold did ; he rouses it. The one seemed as 
if he would make men good ; the other would make them 
great. Reinhold s face was mildness, and his form was 
majesty ; Fichte s eye is threatening, and his step daring 
and defiant. Reinhold s philosophy was an endless polemic 
against Kantists and Anti-Kantists ; Fichte, with his, desires 
to lead the spirit of the age, he knows its weak side, and 
therefore he addresses it on the side of politics. He pos 
sesses more readiness, more acuteness, more penetration, 
more genius, in short, more spiritual power than Reinhold. 
His fancy is not flowing, but it is energetic and mighty ; 
his pictures are not charming, but they are bold and 
massive. Hr penetrates to the innermost depths of his 


subject, and moves about in the ideal world with an ease and 
confidence which proclaim that he not only dwells in that 
invisible land, but rules there."* 

It might naturally be supposed that a teacher possessed 
of so many qualities fitted to command the respect and ad 
miration of his students could not fail to acquire a power 
ful influence, not only on the nature and direction of their 
studies, but also on their outward relations. Accordingly 
we find Fichte, soon after his settlement at Jena, occupy 
ing a most commanding position towards the youth, not of 
his own department merely, but of the whole University. 
Doubts had been entertained, even before his arrival, that 
his ardent and active spirit might lead him to use the in 
fluence he should acquire over the students for the further 
ance of political projects. His supposed democratic opinions 
were even made a ground of objection to his appointment. 

* The following graphic sketch of Fichte s personal appearance and manner 
of delivery is taken from the Autobiography of Henry Steffens. Although it 
refers to a later period of his life, it is thought most appropriate to introduce 
it, here : 

" Fichte appeared, to deliver his introductory lecture on the Vocation of 
Man. This short, strong-built man, with sharp commanding features, made. 
1 must confess, a most imposing appearance, as I then saw him for the first 
time. Even his language had a cutting sharpness. Well acquainted with 
the metaphysical incapacity of his hearers, he took the greatest possible 
pains fully to demonstrate his propositions ; but there was an air of authori- 
tativeness in his discourse, as if he would remove all doubts by mere word 
of command. Gentlemen, said he, collect yourselves go into yourselves 
for we have here nothing to do with things without, but simply with the 
inner self. Thus summoned, the auditors appeared really to go into them 
selves. Some, to facilitate the operation, changed their position, and stood 
up ; some drew themselves together,, and cast their eyes upon the floor : all 
were evidently waiting under high excitement for what was to follow this 
preparatory summons. Gentlemen, continued Fichte, think the wall, 
(Senfen @ie bte SBanb.) This was a task to which the hearers were evidently 
all equal ; they thought the wall. Have you thought the wall ? asked 
Fichte. Well then, gentlemen, think him who thought the wall. It was 
curious to see the evident confusion and embarrassment that now arose. 
Many of his audience seemed to be utterly unable anywhere to find him who 
had thought the wall. Fichte s delivery was excellent, being marked 
throughout by clearness and precision." 


And it cannot be affirmed that such anticipations were im 
probable ; for certainly the tendency of his own character, 
and the peculiar circumstances of the age, presented strong- 
temptations to convert the chair of the professor into the 
pulpit of the practical philanthropist. He himself says that 
he was assailed by not a few such temptations, and even in 
vitations, at the beginning of his residence at Jena, but, 
that he resolutely cast them from him. He was not one of 
those utilitarian philosophers who willingly sacrifice high 
and enduring good to the attainment of some partial and 
temporary purpose. His idea of the vocation of an aca 
demical teacher opened to him another field of duty, su 
perior to that of direct political activity. In all his inter 
course with his pupils, public or private, his sole object was 
the development and cultivation of their moral and intellect 
ual powers. No trace can be found of any attempt to lead 
his hearers upon the stage of actual life, while the opposition 
between the speculative and practical sides of their nature 
still existed. To reconcile this opposition was the great 
object of his philosophy. In his hands philosophy was no 
longer speculation, but knowledge (it was soon divested 
even of its scholastic terminology, and the Ego, Non-Ego, 
&c. entirely laid aside), the expression of the profoundest 
thoughts of man, on himself, the world, and God ; while, 
on the other hand, morality was no preceptive legislation, 
but the natural development of the active principle of our 
own being, indissolubly bound up with, and indeed the essen 
tial root of, its intellectual aspect. Binding together into a 
common unity every mode and manifestation of our nature, 
his philosophy is capable of the widest application, and of 
an almost infinite variety of expression ; while in the cease 
less elevation of our whole being to higher grades of nobility 
and greatness, is found at once its intellectual supremacy 
and its moral power. 

So far indeed was Fichte from lending his countenance to 
political combination among the students, or inculcating any 


sentiments subversive of the existing arrangements of 
society, that no one suffered more than he did, from the 
clergy on the one hand and the students on the other, in 
the attempt to mantain good order in the University. The 
unions known by the name of Landsmannscliaften existed 
at that time in the German schools of learning as they do 
now, but their proceedings were then marked by much 
greater turbulence and license than they are at the present 
day. Riots of the most violent description were of common 
occurrence; houses were broken into and robbed of their 
contents to supply the marauders with the means of sensual 
indulgence. The arm of the law was impotent to restrain 
these excesses ; and so bold had the unionists become, that 
upon one occasion, when the house of a professor at Jena 
had been ransacked, five hundred students openly demand 
ed from the Duke an amnesty for the offence. Efforts 
had been made at various times, by the academical au 
thorities, to suppress these societies, but the students only 
broke out into more frightful excesses when any attempt 
was made to restrain their " Burschen-Eights 1 ," or "Aca 
demical freedom." In the hope of effecting some reforma 
tion of manners in the University, Fichte commenced, soon 
after his arrival at Jena, a course of public lectures on aca 
demical morality. Five of these addresses were afterwards 
published under the title of "Die Bestimmung des Gelehrten." 
{The Vocation of the Scholar.} They are distinguished by 
fervid and impressive eloquence, and set forth the dignity 
and duties of the Scholar, as deduced from the idea of his 
vocation, with clear, but sublime and spirit-stirring earnest 
ness. He leaves no place for low motives or degrading pro 
pensities, but fills up his picture of the Scholar -life with the 1 
purest and most disinterested virtues of our nature. These 
lectures, and his own personal influence among the students 
were attended with the happiest effects. The three ordcm 
which then existed at Jena expressed their willingness to 
dissolve their union, on condition of the past being forgotten, 
They delivered over to Fichte the books and papers of their 
society, for the purpose of being destroyed as soon as he 


eoul(i make their peace with the Court at Weimar, and re 
ceive a commission to administer to them the oath of renun 
ciation, which they would receive from no one but him 
self. After some delay, caused in part by the authorities 
of the University, who seem to have been jealous of the 
success with which an individual professor had accomplished 
without assistance, what they had in vain endeavoured to 
effect by threatcnings and punishment, the desired arrange 
ments were effected, and the commission arrived. But in 
consequence of some doubts to which this delay had given 
rise, one of the three orders drew back from the engagement, 
and turned with jprcat virulence against Fichte, whom they 
suspected of deceiving them. 

Encouraged, however, by the success which had attended 
his efforts with the other two orders, Fichte determined to 
pursue the same course during the winter session of 1704, and 
to deliver another series of public lectures, calculated to rouse 
and sustain a spirit of honour and morality among the 
students, Thoroughly to accomplish his purpose, it was 
necessary that these lectures should take place at an hour 
not devoted to any other course, so that he might assemble 
an audience from among all the different classes of the Uni 
versity. But he found that every hour from 8 A.M. till 7 P.M. 
was already occupied by lectures on important branches of 
knowledge. No way seemed open to him but to deliver his 
moral discourses on Sundays. Before adopting this plan, 
however, he made diligent inquiries whether any law, either 
of the State or of the University, forbade such a proceeding. 
Discovering no such prohibition, he examined into the prac 
tice of other Universities, and found many precedents to 
justify Sunday-lectures, particularly a course of a similar 
nature delivered by Gellert at Berlin. He finally asked the 
opinion of some of the oldest professors, none of whom 
could see any objection to his proposal, provided he did not 
encroach upon the time devoted to divine service ; Schiitz 
remarking, " If plays are allowed on Sunday, why not moral 
lectures?" The hour of divine service in the University was 
1 1 A. M. Fichte therefore fixed upon nine in the morning as 



his hour of lecture, and commenced his course with most 
favourable prospects. A large concourse of students from all 
the different classes thronged his hall, and several professors, 
who took their places among the audience, willingly ac 
knowledged the benefit which they derived from his dis 
courses. But he soon discovered that the best intentions, 
and the most prudent conduct, are no protection against 
calumny. A political print, which had attained an unenvi 
able notoriety for anonymous slander, and had distinguished 
itself by crawling sycophancy towards power, now exhibited 
its far-seeing sagacity by tracing the intimate connexion 
between the Sunday-lectures and the French Revolution, 
and proclaimed the former to be a " formal attempt to over 
turn the public religious services of Christianity, and to 
erect the worship of Reason in their stead " ! Strange to 
tell, the Consistory of Jena saw it to be their duty to forward 
a complaint on this subject to the High-Consistory at 
Weimar; and finally an assembly in which a Herder sat 
lodged an accusation before the Duke and Privy-council 
against Professor Fichte for " a deliberate attempt against 
the public religious services of the country." Fichte was 
directed to suspend his lectures in the meantime, until in 
quiry could be made. He immediately met the accusation 
with a powerful defence, in which he indignantly hurled 
back the charge, completely demolishing, by a simple narra 
tive of the real facts, every vestige of argument by which it 
could be supported ; and took occasion to make the Govern 
ment acquainted with his projects for the moral improvement 
of the students. The judgment of the Duke is dated 25th 
January 1795, and by it, Fichte " is freely acquitted of the 
utterly groundless suspicion which had been attached to 
him," and confidence is expressed, " that in his future pro 
ceedings he will exhibit such wisdom and prudence as shall 
entitle him to the continued good opinion " of the Prince. 
Permission was given him to resume his Sunday-lectures, 
avoiding the hours of divine service. 

But in the meantime the outrageous proceedings of that 


party of the students which was opposed to him rendered it 
impossible for him to entertain any hope of conciliating 
them, and soon made his residence at Jena uncomfortable 
and even dangerous. His wife was insulted upon the public 
street, and both his person and property subjected to re 
peated outrages. He applied to the Senate of the Univer 
sity for protection, but was informed that the treatment he 
had received was the result of his interference in the affairs 
of the Orders upon the authority of the State, and without 
the cooperation of the Senate ; that they could do nothing 
more than authorize self-defence in case of necessity ; and 
that if he desired more protection than the Academy could 
give him, he might apply to his friends at Court. At last, 
when at the termination of the winter session an attack was 
made upon his house in the middle of the night, in which 
his venerable father-in-law narrowly escaped with life, Fichte 
applied to the Duke for permission to leave Jena. This 
was granted, and he took up his residence during the sum 
mer at the village of Osmanstadt, about two miles from 

In delightful contrast to the stormy character of his public 
life at this time, stands the peaceful simplicity of his domes 
tic relations. In consequence of the suddenness of his re 
moval from Zurich, his wife did not accompany him at the 
time, but joined him a few months afterwards. Her vener 
able father, too, was persuaded by his love for his children 
to leave his native land, and take up his residence with them 
at Jena. This excellent old man was the object of Fichte s 
deepest respect and attachment, and his declining years were 
watched with all the anxiety of filial tenderness. He died 
on 29th September 1795, at the age of 76. His remains 
were accompanied to the grave by Fichte s pupils as a mark 
of respect for their teacher s grief; and a simple monument 
records the affectionate reverence of those he left behind him, 
It bears the following interesting inscription from the pen 
of Fichte : 




He lived amid the most eminent men of his time; was beloved by the 
good ; sometimes troubled by others ; hated by none. 

Intelligence, kindliness, faith in God and man, gave new life to his age, 
and guided him peacefully to the grave. 

None knew his worth better than we, whom the old man followed from his 
father-land, whom he loved even to the end, and of whose grief this memorial 

bears record. 


Farewell! thou dear Father! 

Be not ashamed, Stranger ! if a gentle emotion stir within tliee : 
were he alive, he would clasp thy hand in friendship ! 

After the death of their venerable parent, Fichte and his 
wife were left alone to enjoy, in pure and unbroken attach 
ment, the calm sunshine of domestic felicity ; but at a later 
period the smile of childhood added a new charm to their 
home. A son who was born at Jena was their only child.* 

Fichte s intercourse with the eminent men who adorned 
this brilliant period of German literary history was extensive 
and important. Preeminent among these stands Goethe, in 
many respects a remarkable contrast to the philosopher. 
The one, calm, sarcastic, and oracular; the other, restless, en 
thusiastic, impetuously eloquent ; the one, looking on men 
only to scan and comprehend them; the other, waging cease 
less war with their vices, their ignorance, their un worthiness ; 
the one, seating himself on a chilling elevation above 
human sympathy, and even exerting all the energies of his 
mighty intellect to veil the traces of every feeling which 
bound him to his fellow-men ; the other, from an eminence 
no less exalted, pouring around him a rushing tide of moral 
power over his friends, his country, and the world. To the 
one, men looked up with a painful and hopeless sense of 
inferiority ; they crowded around the other to participate 

* Now Professor of Philosophy in the University of Tubingen. 


in his wisdom, and to grow strong in gazing on his Titanic- 
might. And even now, when a common destiny has laid the 
proud gray column in the dust, and stayed the giant s arm 
from working, we look upon the majesty of the one with 
astonishment rather than reverence, while at the memory of 
the other the pulse of hope beats more vigorously than be 
fore, and the tear of patriotism falls heavily on his grave. 

Goethe welcomed the "Wissenschaftslehre" with his usual 
avidity for new acquisitions. The bold attempt to infuse a 
living spirit into philosophical formulas, and give reality to 
speculative abstractions, roused his attention. He requested 
that it might be sent to him, sheet by sheet, as it went 
through the press. This was accordingly done, and the 
following passage from a letter to Fichte will show that he 
was not disappointed in the expectations he had formed of 
it : 

" What you have sent me contains nothing which I do not 
understand, or at least believe that I understand. nothing 

3 o 

that does not readily harmonize with my accustomed way 
of thinking ; and I see the hopes which I had derived from 
the introduction already fulfilled. 

" In my opinion you will confer a priceless benefit on the 
human race, and make every thinking man your debtor, by 
giving a scientific foundation to that upon which Nature 
seems long ago to have quietly agreed with herself. For 
myself, I shall owe you my best thanks if you reconcile me 
to the philosophers, whom I cannot do without, and with 
whom, notwithstanding, I never could unite. 

" I look with anxiety for the continuation of your work to 
adjust and confirm many things for me ; and I hope, when 
you are free from urgent engagements, to speak with you 
about several matters, the prosecution of which I defer until 
I clearly understand how that which I hope to accomplish 
may harmonize with what we have to expect from you." 

The personal intercourse of these two great men seems to 
have been characterized by mutual respect and esteem, with 
out any approach to intimacy. Of one interview Fichto 
sn v.-v -- " 11 ^ ns politeness, friendship itself; ho showed rno 


unusual attention." But no correspondence was maintained 
between them after Fichte left Jena, in consequence of the 
proceedings which led to his departure. 

Of a more enduring nature was his intimacy with Jacobi. 
It commenced in a literary correspondence soon after his 
arrival at Jena, from which some extracts have already been 
given. Entertaining a deep respect for this distinguished 
man, derived solely from the study of his works, Fichte sent 
him a copy of the Wissenschaftslehre, with a request that 
he would communicate his opinion of the system it contained. 
In a long and interesting correspondence, extending over 
many years, the points of opposition between them were 
canvassed ; and although a radical difference in mental con 
stitution prevented them from ever thinking altogether alike, 
yet it did not prevent them from cultivating a warm and 
steadfast friendship, which continued unbroken amid vicissi 
tudes by which other attachments were sorely tried. 

Fichte had formed an acquaintance with Schiller at Tu 
bingen when on his journey to Jena. Schiller s enthusiastic 
nature assimilated more closely to that of Fichte than did 
the dispositions of the other great poet of Germany, and a 
cordial intimacy sprang up between them. Fichte was a 
contributor to the "Horen" from its commencement a jour 
nal which Schiller began soon after Fichte s arrival at Jena. 
This gave rise to a singular but short-lived misunderstand 
ing between them. A paper entitled "Briefs iiber Geist und 
Buchstaben in der Philosophic" had been sent by Fichte 
for insertion in the Horen. Judging from the commence 
ment alone, Schiller conceived it to be an imitation, or still 
worse, a parody, of his " Briefe iiber die ^Esthetische Erzie- 
hung des Menschen,". and, easily excited as he was, demand 
ed with some bitterness that it should be re- written. Fichte 
did not justify himself by producing the continuation of the 
article, but referred the accusation of parody to the arbitra 
tion of Goethe and Humboldt. Schiller was convinced of 
his error, and soon apologized for it ; but Fichte did not 


return the essay, and it appeared afterwards in tlie Philo 
sophical Journal. After this slight misunderstanding they 
continued upon terms of confidence and friendship, and, to 
wards the close of his life, Schiller became a zealous student 
of the Wissenschaftslehre. 

Fichte likewise carried on an extensive correspondence 
with Reinhold (who has been already mentioned), Schelling, 
W. von Humboldt, Schaumann, Paulus, Schmidt, the Schle- 
gels, Novalis, Tieck, Woltmann, besides a host of minor 
waiters, so that his influence extended throughout the whole 
literary world of Germany at that period. 

Fichte has been accused of asperity and superciliousness 
towards his literary opponents. It may easily be conceived 
that, occupying a point of view altogether different from 
theirs, his philosophy should appear to him entirely un 
touched by objections to which they attached great weight. 
Nor is it surprising that he should choose rather to proceed 
with the development of his own system, from his own prin 
ciples, than to place himself in the mental position of other 
men, and combat their arguments upon their own grounds. 
That diversity of ground was the essential cause of their 
difference. Those who could take their stand beside him, 
would see the matter as he saw it ; those who could not do 
this, must remain where they were. Claiming for his system 
the certainty of mathematical demonstration, asserting that 
with him philosophy was no longer mere speculation, but 
had now become knowledge, he could not bend or accommo 
date himself or his doctrines to the prejudices of others ; 
they must come to him, not he to them. " My philosophy," 
he says, " is nothing to Herr Schmidt, from incapacity ; his 
is nothing to me, from insight. From this time forth I look 
upon all that Herr Schmidt may say, either directly or in 
directly, about my philosophy, as something which, so far as 
I am concerned ; has no meaning, and upon Herr Schmidt 
himself as a philosopher who, in relation to me, is nobody." 
Such language, although necessarily irritating in the highest 


degree to its objects, and easily susceptible of being regarded 
as the expression of a haughty and vain-glorious spirit, was 
in reality the natural utterance of a powerful and earnest 
intellect, unused to courtly phrase, or to the gilded insin 
cerity of fashion. He spoke strongly, because he thought 
and felt deeply. He was the servant of truth, and it was 
not for him to mince his language towards her opponents. 
But it is worthy of remark that on these occasions he was 
never the assailant. In answer to some of Reinhokfs expos 
tulations he writes thus : " You say that my tone touches 
and wounds persons who do not deserve it. That I sincerely 
regret. But they must deserve it in some degree, if thev 
will not permit one to tell them honestly of the errors in 
which they wander, and are not willing to suffer a slight 
shame for the sake of a great instruction. With him to 
whom truth is not above all other things, above his own 


petty personality, the Wissenschaftslehre can have nothing 
to do. The internal reason of the tone which I adopt is 
this : It fills me with scorn which I cannot describe, when I 
look on the present want of any truthfulness of vision ; on 
the deep darkness, entanglement, and perversion which now 
prevail. The external reason is this : How have these men 
(the Kantists) treated me ? how d& they continue to treat 
me 1 There is nothing that I have less pleasure in than 
controversy. Why then can they not be at peace ? For 
example, friend Schmidt ? I have indeed not handled him 
tenderly ; but every just person who knew much that is 
not before the public, would give me credit for the mildness 
of an angel." * 

* The following amusing passage, from the commencement of an anony 
mous publication on this controversy, may serve to show the kind of reputa 
tion which Fichte had acquired among his opponents : 

"After the anathemas which the dreadful Fichte has hurled from the 
height of his philosophic throne upon the ant-hills of the Kantists; look 
ing at the stigma forever branded on the foreheads of these unhappy crea 
tures, which must compel them to hide their existence from the eye of an 
astonished public; amid the general fear and trembling which, spreading 
over all philosophic sects, casts them to the earth before the thunder-tread of 
this destroying god, who dare now avoiv himself a Kantist ? I dare ! 


The true nature of Fichte s controversialism is well exhi 
bited in a short correspondence with Jakob, the Professor of 
Philosophy at Halle. Jakob was editor of the " Annalen der 
Philosophic," the chief organ of the Kantists a journal 
which had distinguished itself by the most uncompromising 
attacks upon the Wissenschaftslehre. Fichte had replied in 
the Philosophical Journal in his usual style. Sometime 
afterwards Jakob, who was personally unknown to Fichte, 
addressed a letter to him, full of the most noble and gene 
rous sentiments, desiring that, although opposed to each 
other in principle, all animosity between them might cease. 
The following passages are extracted from Fichte s reply : 

dFtcfjte to fafcot). 

" I have never hated you, nor believed that you hated me. 
It may sound presumptuous, but it is true, that I do not 
know properly what hate is, for I have never hated any one. 
And I am by no means so passionate as I am commonly said 
to be. ... That my Wissenschaftslehre was not under 
stood, that it is even now not understood (for it is supposed 
that I now teach other doctrines), I freely believe ; that it 
was not understood on account of my mode of propounding 
it in a book which was not designed for the public but for 
my own students, that no trust was reposed in me, but that 
I was looked upon as a babbler whose interference in the 
affairs of philosophy might do hurt to science, that it was 
therefore concluded that the system which men knew well 
enough that they did not understand was a worthless system, 
all this I know and can comprehend. But it is surely to 
be expected from every scholar, not that he should under 
stand everything, but that he should at least know whether 

one of the most insignificant creatures ever dropped from the hand of fate. 
In the deep darkness which surrounds me, and which hides me from every 
eye in Germany, even from the eagle-glance of a Fichte; from this quiet 
retreat, every attempt to break in upon the security of which is ridiculous in 
the extreme, from hence I may venture to raise my voice, and cry, / am a 
Kantist ! and to Fichte Thou canst err, and thou liast erred," &c. &c. 



he understand a subject or not ; and of every honest man, 
that he should not pass judgment on anything before he is 

conscious of understanding it Dear 

Jakob ! I have unlimited reverence for openness and upright 
ness of character. I had heard a high character of you, and 
I would never have suffered myself to pronounce such a 
judgment on your literary merit, had I not been afterwards 
led to entertain an opposite impression. Now, however, by 
the impartiality of your judgment upon me, by the warm 
interest you take in me as a member of the republic of 
letters, by your open testimony in my behalf,* you have 
completely won my personal esteem. It shall not be my 
fault (allow me to say this without offence) if you do not 
also possess my entire esteem as an author, publicly ex 
pressed. I have shown B and E that I can do 

justice even to an antagonist." 

Jakob s reply is that of a generous opponent : 
" Your answer, much-esteemed Professor, has been most 
acceptable to me. In it I have found the man whom I 
wished to find. The differences between us shall be erased 
from my memory. Not a word of satisfaction to me. If 
anything that I do or write shall have the good fortune to 
meet your free and unpurchased approbation, and you find 
it good to communicate your opinion to the public, it will be 
gratifying to me ; for what joy have people of our kind in 
public life, that is not connected with the approbation of 
estimable men ? But I shall accept your candid refutation 
as an equally sure mark of your esteem, and joyfully profit 
by it. Confutation without bitterness is never unacceptable 
to me." 

Gradually disengaging himself from outward causes of dis 
turbance, Fichte now sought to devote himself more exclu 
sively to literary exertion, in order to embody his philosophy 
in a more enduring form than that of oral discourses. In 
1795 he became joint-editor of the "Philosophical Journal," 

* Jakob had espoused his cause in an important dispute, of which we shall 
soon have to treat. 


which had for some years been conducted by his friend and 
colleague Niethammer. His contributions to it form a most 
important part of his works, and are devoted to the scientific 
development of his system. In 1796 he published his 
" Doctrine of Law," and in 1798 his " Doctrine of Morals," 
separate parts of the application which he purposed to 
make of the fundamental principles of the Wissenschaftslehre 
to the complete circle of knowledge. But this period of 
literary tranquillity was destined to be of short duration, for 
a storm soon burst upon him more violent than any he had 
hitherto encountered, which once more drove him for a long 
time from the path of peaceful inquiry into the angry field 
of polemical discussion. 

Atheism is a charge which the common understanding 
has repeatedly brought against the finer speculations of 
philosophy, when, in endeavouring to solve the riddle of 
existence, they have approached, albeit with reverence and 
humility, the Ineffable Source from which all existence pro 
ceeds. Shrouded from human comprehension in an obscu 
rity from which chastened imagination is awed back, and 
thought retreats in conscious weakness, the Divine Nature 
is surely a theme on which man is little entitled to dogma 
tize. Accordingly, it is here that the philosophic intellect 
becomes most painfully aware of its own insufficiency. It 
feels that silence is the most fitting attitude of the finite 
being towards its Infinite and Incomprehensible Original, 
and that when it is needful that thought should shape itself 
into words, they should be those of diffidence and modest 
self-distrust. But the common understanding has no such 
humility ; its God is an Incarnate Divinity ; imperfection 
imposes its own limitations on the Illimitable, and clothes 
the inconceivable Spirit of the Universe in sensuous and in 
telligible forms derived from finite nature. In the world s 
childhood, when the monstrous forms of earth were looked 
upon as the visible manifestations of Deity, or the unseen 
essences of nature were imagined to contain His presence; 
in the world s youth, when stream and forest, hill and 


valley, earth, air, and ocean, were peopled with divinities, 
graceful or grotesque, kind or malevolent, pure or polluted ; 
in the world s ages of toil, when the crushed soul of the 
slave looked to his God for human sympathy, and sometimes 
fancied that he encountered worse than human oppression ; 
in all ages, men have coloured the brightness of Infinity 
with hues derived from their own hopes and fears, joys and 
sorrows, virtues and crimes. And he who felt that the 
Eidolon of the age was an inadequate representative of his 
own deeper thoughts of God, had need to place his hopes of 
justice in futurity, and make up his mind to be despised and 
rejected by the men of his own day. Socrates drank the 
poisoned cup because his conception of divine things sur 
passed the common mythology of Greece ; Christ endured 
the cross at the hands of the Jews for having told them the 
truth which he had heard from the Father ; Paul suffered 
persecution, indignity, and death, for he was a setter forth 
of strange Gods. Modern times have not been without their 
martyrs. Descartes died in a foreign land for his bold 
thought and open speech; Spinoza the brave, kind-hearted, 
incorruptible Spinoza was the object both of Jewish and 
Christian anathema. In our own land popular fanaticism 
drove Priestley from his home to seek refuge in a far distant 
clime ; and in our own days legalized bigotry tore asunder 
the sacred bonds which united one of the purest and most 
sensitive of living beings to his offspring, the gentle, imagi 
native, deeply-religious Shelley was "an atheist!" And so, 
too, Fichte whose ardent love of freedom made him an 
object of distrust and fear to timorous statesmen, and whose 
daring speculations struck dismay into the souls of creed- 
bound theologians found himself assailed at once by reli 
gious and political persecution. But in him tyranny once 
more found a man who had the courage to oppose himself, 
alone and unfriended, against its hate ; and whose steadfast 
devotion to truth remained unshaken amid all the dangers 
and difficulties which gathered round his way. 

Fichte s doctrine concerning God has already been spoken 
of in a general way. It was the necessary result of his 


speculative position. The consciousness of the individual 
reveals itself alone ; his knowledge cannot pass beyond the 
limits of his own being. His conceptions of other things and 
other beings are only his conceptions, they are not those 
things or beings themselves. Consciousness is here alone 
with itself, and the world is nothing but the necessary limits 
which are set to its activity by the absolute law of its own 
being. From this point of view the common logical argu 
ments for the existence of God, and in particular what is 
called the "argument from design" supposed to exist in the 
material world, entirely disappear. We invest the outward 
universe with attributes, qualities, and relations, which are 
the growth and product of our own minds, and then build 
up our faith in the Divine on an argument founded upon the 
phenomena we have ourselves called into being. However 
plausible and attractive such an argument may appear to 
those who do not look below the mere surface of things, it 
will not bear the light of strict scientific investigation. Only 
from our idea of duty, and our faith in the inevitable conse 
quences of moral action, arises the belief in a principle of 
moral order in the world ; and this principle is God. But 
this living principle of a living universe must be Infinite ; 
while all our ideas and conceptions are finite, and applicable 
only to finite beings not to the Infinite. Thus we cannot, 
without inconsistency, apply to the Divinity the common 
predicates borrowed from finite existence. Consciousness, 
personality, and even substance, carry with them the idea of 
necessary limitation, and are the attributes of relative and 
limited beings ; to affirm these of God is to bring him down 
to the rank of relative and limited being. The Divinity can 
thus only be thought of by us as pure Intelligence, spiritual 
life and energy ; but to comprehend this Intelligence in a 
conception, or to describe it in words, is manifestly impos 
sible. All attempts to embrace the Infinite in the conceptions 
of the Finite are, and must be, only accommodations to the 
frailties of man. God is not an object of Knowledge but of 
Faith, not to be approached by the understanding, but by 
the moral sense. Oar intuition of a Moral Law, absolutely 


imperative in its authority and universal in its obligation, is 
the most certain arid incontrovertible fact of our conscious 
ness. This law, addressed to free beings, must have a free 
and rational foundation : in other words, there must be a 
living source of the moral order of the universe, and this 
source is God. Our faith in God is thus the necessary con 
sequence of our faith in the Moral Law; the former possesses 
the same absolute certainty which all men admit to belong 
to the latter. In his later writings Fichte advanced beyond 
this argument to a more comprehensive demonstration of the 
Divine Existence than that by which the being of a lawgiver 
is inferred from our intuition of the Moral Law. Of this 
later view, however, we shall have to speak more fully in a 
subsequent part of this memoir. 

The Philosophical Journal for 1798 contained an essay by 
Forberg " On the Definition of the Idea of Religion." Fichte 
found the principles of this essay not so much opposed to his 
own, as only imperfect in themselves, and deemed it neces 
sary to prefix to it a paper " On the grounds of our faith in 
a Divine Government of the world," in which, after pointing 
out the imperfections and merely human qualities which are 
attributed to the Deity in the common conceptions of His 
being, and which necessarily flow from the "cause and effect" 
argument in its ordinary applications, he proceeds to state 
the true grounds of our faith in a moral government, or moral 
order, in the universe, not for the purpose of inducing faith 
by proof, but to discover and exhibit the springs of a faith 
already indestructibly rooted in our nature. The business 
of philosophy is not to create but to explain ; our faith in 
the Divine exists without the aid of philosophy, it is hers 
only to investigate its origin, not for the conversion of the 
infidel, but to explain the conviction of the believer. The 
general results of the essay may be gathered from the con 
cluding paragraph : 

" Hence it is an error to say that it is doubtful whether or 
not there is a God. It is not doubtful, but the most certain 
of all certainties, nay, the foundation of all other certainties, 
the one absolutely valid objective truth, that there is a 


moral order in the world ; that to every rational bein^ is 
assigned his particular place in that order, and the work 
which he has to do ; that his destiny, in so far as it is not 
occasioned by his own conduct, is the result of this plan ; 
that in no other way can even a hair fall from his head, nor 
a sparrow fall to the ground around him ; that every true 
and good action prospers, and every bad action fails ; and 
that all things must work together for good to those who 
truly love goodness. On the other hand, no one who reflects 
a moment, and honestly avows the result of his reflection, 
can remain in doubt that the conception of God as a parti 
cular substance is impossible and contradictory : and it is 
right candidly to say this, and to silence the babbling of the 
schools, in order that the true religion of cheerful virtue may 
be established in its room. 

Two great poets have expressed this faith of good and 
thinking men with inimitable beauty. Such an one may 
adopt their language : 

" Who dares to say, 

"I believe in God"? 

Who dares to name him [seek ideas and words for him.] 

And to profess, 

" I believe in him " ] 

W T ho can feel, 

And yet affirm, 

" I believe him not " ] 

The All-Embracer, [when he is approached through the moral 
sense, not through theoretical speculation, and the world is 
looked upon as the scene of living moral activity.] 

The All-Sustainer, 

Doth he not embrace, support, 

Thee, me, himself] 

Doth not the vault of heaven arch o er us there ? 

Doth not the earth lie firmly here below ? 

And do not the eternal stars 

Kise on us with their friendly beams 1 

Do not I see mine image in thine eyes ? 

And doth not the All 

Press on thy head and heart, 

And weave itself around thee, visibly and invisibly, 

In eternal mystery 1 

Fill thy heart with it till it overflow ; 

And in the feeling when thou rt wholly blest, 


Then call it what thou wilt, 

Happiness ! Heart ! Love ! God ! 

I have no name for it : 

Feeling is all ; name is but sound and smoke, 

Veiling the glow of heaven. * 

" And the second sings : 

" And God is ! a holy will that abides, 
Though the human will may falter ; 
High over both Space and Time it rides, 
The high Thought that will never alter : 
And while all things in change eternal roll, 
It endures, through change, a motionless soul. " t 

The publication of this essay furnished a welcome oppor 
tunity to those States to which Fichte was obnoxioi^s on 
account of his democratic opinions, to institute public pro 
ceedings against him. The note was sounded by the publi 
cation of an anonymous pamphlet, entitled "Letters of a 
Father to his Son on the Atheism of Fichte and Forberg," 
which was industriously and even gratuitously circulated 
throughout Germany. The first official proceeding was a 
decree of the Electoral Government, prohibiting the sale of 
the Philosophical Journal, and confiscating all copies of it 
found in the electorate. This was followed up by a requisi 
tion addressed to the Duke of Saxe- Weimar, as the Conser 
vator of the University of Jena, in which Fichte and Forberg 
were accused of " the coarsest atheism, openly opposed not 
only to the Christian, but even to natural, religion ;" and 
their severe punishment was demanded; failing which, it 
was threatened that the subjects of the Elector should be 
prohibited from resorting to the University. These pro 
ceedings were imitated by the other Protestant Courts of 
Germany, that of Prussia excepted. 

In answer to the official condemnation of his essay, Fichte- 
sent forth his " Appeal to the Public against the accusation 
of Atheism," Jena 1799 ; in which, with his accustomed 

* Goethe s " Faust." 

t The above stanza of Schiller s " Worte dcs Glaubens is taken from 
Mr. Merivale s excellent translation. 


boldness, he does not confine himself to the strict limits of 
self-defence, but exposes with no lenient hand the true cause 
which rendered him obnoxious to the Electoral Government, 
not the atheism of which he was so absurdly accused, but 
the spirit of freedom and independence which his philosophy 
inculcated. He did not desire, he would not accept of any 
compromise ; he demanded a free acquittal, or a public 
condemnation. He adopted the same high tone in his de 
fence before his own Government. The Court of Saxe- 
Weimar had no desire to restrain the liberty of thought, or 
to erect any barrier against free speculation. It was too 
wise not to perceive that a Protestant University in which 
secular power should dare to invade the precincts of philo 
sophy, or profane the highest sanctuaries of thought, how 
ever great its reputation for the moment, must infallibly 
decline from being a temple of knowledge into a mere 
warehouse for literary, medical, or theological merchandize, 
a school-room for artizans, a drill-yard for hirelings. 
But, on the other hand, it was no part of the policy of the 
Ducal Court to give offence to its more powerful neighbours, 
or to enter upon a crusade in defence of opinions obnoxious 
to the masses, because unintelligible to them. It was there 
fore intended to pass over this matter as smoothly as possible, 
and to satisfy the complaining governments by administering 
to Fichte a general rebuke for imprudence in promulgating 
his views in language liable to popular misconstruction. 
The appearance of his " Appeal to the Public," however, 
rendered this arrangement less easy of accomplishment. 
The opinion of the Government with respect to this publica 
tion was communicated to Fichte in a letter from Schiller, 
-" that there icas no doubt that lie had cleared himself of the 
accusation before every thinking mind ; but that it was sur 
prising that he had not consulted with higher quarters before 
he sent forth his appeal : why appeal to the public at all, 
when he had to do only with a favourable and enlightened 
Government?" The obvious answer to which was, that the 
"Appeal to the Public" was a reply to the public confiscation 
of his work, while the private accusation before his Prince 



was answered by a private defence. In that defence the 
Court found that the accused was determined to push the 
investigation as far as his accusers could desire ; that he 
demanded either an honourable and unreserved acquittal, or 
deposition from his office as a false teacher. A further 
breach between the Court and Fichte was caused by a letter 
which, in the course of these proceedings, he addressed to a 
member of the Council, his private friend, in which he an 
nounced that a resignation of his professorship would be the 
result of any reproof on the part of the Government. This 
letter, addressed to an individual in his private capacity, was 
most imjustifiably placed among the official documents con 
nected with the proceedings. Its tone, excusable perhaps in a 
private communication, seemed presumptuous and arrogant 
when addressed to the supreme authority ; it was the 
haughty defiance of an equal, rather than the remonstrance 
of a subject. This abuse of a private letter, this betrayal 
of the confidence of friendship, cost Jena its most distin 
guished professor. On the 2d of April 1799, Fichte received 
the decision of the Ducal Court. It contained a reproof for 
imprudence in promulgating doctrines so unusual and so of 
fensive to the common understanding, and accepted Fichte s 
resignation as a recognised consequence of that reproof. 
It is much to be regretted that the timid policy of the 
government, and the faults of individuals, prevented in 
this instance the formal recognition of the great principle 
involved in the contest, i. e. that civil governments have no 
right to restrain the expression of any theoretical opinion what 
ever, when propounded in a scientific form and addressed to the 
scientific world. 

During these trying occurrences, the most enthusiastic 
attachment was evinced towards Fichte by the students. 
Two numerously signed petitions were presented to the Duke, 
praying for his recall. These having proved unavailing, they 
caused a medallion of their beloved teacher to be struck, in 
testimony of their admiration and esteem. 

Fichte s position was now one of the most difficult which 


can well be imagined. A prolonged residence at Jena was 
out of the question, he could no longer remain there. But 
where to turn? where to seek an asylum ? No neighbouring 
state would afford him shelter; even the privilege of a private 
residence was refused. At length a friend appeared in the 
person of Dohm, Minister to the King of Prussia. Through 
him Fichte applied to Frederick -William for permission to 
reside in his dominions, with the view of earning a livelihood 
by literary exertion and private teaching. The answer of 
the Prussian monarch was worthy of his high character : 
" If," said he, " Fichte is so peaceful a citizen, and so free 
from all dangerous associations as he is said to be, I willingly 
accord him a residence in my dominions. As to his religious 
principles, it is not for the State to decide upon them." * 

Fichte arrived in Prussia in July 1799, and devoted the 
summer and autumn to the completion of a work in which 
his philosophy is set forth in a popular form, but with ad 
mirable lucidity and comprehensiveness, we allude to his 
"Bestimmung des Menschen" (the Vocation of Man), an es 
say in which all the great phases of metaphysical specula 
tion are condensed into an almost dramatic picture of the 
successive stages in the development of an individual mind. 
A translation of the " Bestimmung des Menschen " forms a 
part of the present volume. Towards the end of the year 
he returned to Jena for the purpose of removing his family to 
Berlin, where, henceforward, he fixed his place of residence. 
The following extracts are from letters written to his wife. 


during their temporary separation : 

dFtcIjte an &int\ dFrau. 

"You probably wish to know how I live. For many 
reasons, the weightiest of which lie in myself and in my 
cough, I cannot keep up the early rising. Six o clock is ge 
nerally my earliest, I go then to my writing desk, so that I 

* The original phraseology of this last passage is peculiarly characteristic : 
"3ft e roa^r, fcaf cr nut tern tieben @otte in gcinbfeligfcifon bogrtffcn tft; fo mag t>if$ 
frer liete @ott nut il)in atmadjeu ; mtr tbut baS nid)tS." 


am not altogether idle, although I do not get on as I could 
wish. I am now working at the " Bestimmung des Men- 
schen." At half-past twelve I hold my toilet (yes ! get 
powdered, dressed, &c.), and at one I call on M. Veit, where 
I meet Schlegel and a reformed preacher, Schlegel s friend.* 
At three I return, and read a French novel, or write as I do 
now to you. If the piece be at all tolerable, which is not 
always the case, I go to the theatre at five. If it be not, I 
walk with Schlegel in the suburbs, in the zoological gardens, 
or under the linden trees before the house. Sometimes I 
make small country parties with Schlegel and his friends. 
So we did, for example, the day before yesterday, with the 
most lively remembrance of thee and the little one. We had 
no wine to drink your health, only sour beer, and a slice of 
black bitter bread with a thin bit of half-decayed ham stuck 
upon it with dirty butter. Politeness makes me put up with 
many things here which are scarcely tolerable. But I have 
thought of a better method for country parties. 

" In the evening I sup on a roll of bread and a quart of 
Medoc wine, which are the only tolerable things in the 
house; and go to bed between ten and eleven, to sleep 
without dreaming. Only once, it was after thy first alarm 
ing letter, I had my Hermann in my arms, full of joy that 
he was well again, when suddenly he stretched himself out, 
turned pale, and all those appearances followed which are 
indelibly fixed on my memory. 

" I charge thee, dearest, with thy own health and the 
health of the little one. Farewell." 


" I am perfectly secure here. Yesterday I visited the 
Cabinet Councillor Beyme, who is daily engaged with the 
King, and spoke to him about my position. I told him 
honestly that I had come here in order to take up my abode, 
and that I sought for safety because it was my intention 
that my family should follow me. He assured me, that far 
from there being any desire to hinder me in this purpose, it 

* Schleiermachcr. 


would be esteemed an honour and advantage if I made my 
residence here, that the King was immovable upon certain 
principles affecting these questions, &c." 

" I work with industry and pleasure. My work on the 
Vocation of Man will, I think, be ready at Michaelmas, 
written, not printed, and it seems to me likely to succeed. 
You know that I am never satisfied with my works when 
they are first written, and therefore my own opinion on this 

point is worth something By my 

residence in Berlin I have gained this much, that I shall 
thenceforth be allowed to live in peace elsewhere ; and this is 
much. I venture to say that I should have been teased and 
perhaps hunted out of any other place. But it is quite 
another thing now that I have lived in Berlin under the eye 
of the King. By and by, I think, even the Weimar Court 
will learn to be ashamed of its conduct, especially if I make 
no advances to it. In the meantime something advan 
tageous may happen. So be thou calm and of good courage, 
dear one, and trust in thy Fichte s judgment, talent, and 
good fortune. Thou laughst at the last word. Well, well ! 
I assure you that good fortune will soon come back 



" I have written to Reinhold a cold, somewhat upbraiding 
letter. The good weak soul is full of lamentation. I shall 
immediately comfort him again, and take care that he be 
not alienated from me in future. If I was beside thee, thou 
wouldst say Dost thou hear, Fichte ? thou art proud \ 
must tell it thee, if no one else will. Very well, be thou 
glad that I am proud. Since I have no humility, I must be 
proud, so that I may have something to carry me through 

the world." 


" Of all that thou writest to me, I am most dissatisfied 
with this, that thou callest our Hermann an ill-bred boy. 
Mo greater misfortune could befall me on earth than that 
this child should be spoiled; and I would lament my absencr 


from Jena only if it should be the cause of that. I adjure 
thee by thy maternal duties, by thy love to me, by all that 
is sacred to thee, let this child be thy first and only care, 
and leave everything else for him. Thou art deficient in 
firmness and coolness ; hence all thy errors in the educa 
tion of the little one. Teach him that when thou hast once 
denied him anything, it is determined and irrevocable, and 
that neither petulance nor the most urgent entreaties will 
be of any avail : once fail in this, and you have an ill- 
taught obstinate boy, particularly with the natural disposi 
tion to strength of character which our little one possesses ; 
and it costs a hundred times more labour to set him right 
again. For indeed it should be our first care not to let his 
character be spoiled ; and believe me, there is in him the 
capacity of being a wild knave, as well as that of being an 
honest, true, virtuous man. In particular, do not suppose 
that he will be led by persuasion and reasoning. The most 
intelligent men err in this, and thou also in the same way. 
He cannot think for himself yet, nor will he be able to do so 
for a long time ; at present, the first thing is that he should 
learn obedience and subjection to a foreign mind. Thou 
mayst indeed sometimes gain thy immediate purpose by 
persuasion, not because he understands thy reasons and is 
moved by them, but because thou in a manner submittest 
thyself to him and makest him the judge. Thus his pride 
is flattered ; thy talk employs his vacant time and dispels 
his caprices. But this is all ; while for the future thou 
renderest his guidance more difficult for thee, and confirmest 
thyself in a pernicious prejudice." 


" Cheerfulness and good courage are to me the highest 
proof that thou lovest me as I should be loved. Dejection 
and sorrow are distrust in me, and make me unhappy 
because they make thee unhappy. It is no proof of love 
that thou shouldst feel deeply the injustice done to me ; 
to me it is a light matter, and so must it be to thee, for thou 
and I are one. 

" Do not speak of dying ; indulge in no such thoughts ; 


for they weaken tbee, and thus might become true. No ! 
we shall yet live with each other many joyful and happy 
days; and our child shall close our eyes when he is a mature 
and perfect man : till then he needs us. 

" In the progress of my present work, I have taken a 
deeper glance into religion than ever I did before. In me 
the emotions of the heart proceed only from perfect intel 
lectual clearness : it cannot be but that the clearness 1 
have now attained on this subject shall also take possession 
of my heart. 

" Believe me, that to this disposition is to be ascribed, in 
a great measure, my steadfast cheerfulness, and the mildness 
with which I look upon the injustice of my opponents. I do 
not believe that, without this dispute and its evil conse 
quences, I should ever have come to this clear insight, and 
the disposition of heart which I now enjoy ; and so the 
violence we have experienced has had a result which neither 
you nor I can regret. 

" Comfort the poor boy, and dry thy tears as he bids thee. 
Think that it is his father s advice, who indeed would say 
the same thing. And do with our dear Hermann as I wrote 
thee before. The child is our riches, and we must use him 

If the spectacle of the scholar contending against the hin 
drances of fortune and the imperfections of his own nature, 
struggling with the common passions of mankind and the 
weakness of his own will, soaring aloft amid the highest 
speculations of genius, and dragged down again to earth by 
its coarsest attractions ; if this be one of the most painful 
spectacles which the theatre of life presents, surely it is one 
of the noblest when we see such a man pursuing some lofty 
theme with a constancy which difficulties cannot shake, nor 
the whirlwind of passion destroy. Nor is the scene less in 
teresting and instructive, if the inherent nobility of its 
central figure have drawn around him a few souls of kindred 
nobleness, whose presence sheds a genial brilliance over a 
path otherwise solitary, although never dark or doubtful. 


Such was now Fichte s position. The first years of his resi 
dence at Berlin were among the most peaceful in his life of 
vicissitude and storm. Withdrawn from public duties, and 
uninterrupted by the sources of outward annoyance to which 
he had lately been exposed, he now enjoyed a period of tran 
quil retirement, surrounded by a small circle of friends 
worthy of his attachment and esteem. Friedrich and Wil- 
helm Schlegel, Tieck, Woltmann, Reichhardt, and Jean 
Paul Friedrich Richter, were among his chosen associates ; 
Bernhardi, with his clear and acute yet discursive thought, 
his social graces and warm affections, was his almost daily 
companion. Huf eland, the king s physician, whom he had 
known at Jena, now became bound to him by the closest 
ties, and rendered him many kind offices, over which the 
delicacy of friendship has thrown a veil. 

Amid the amenities of such society, and withdrawn from 
the anxieties and disturbances of public life, Fichte now 
devoted himself to the development and completion of his 
philosophical theory. The period of danger and difficulty 
through which he had lately passed, the loss of many valued 
and trusted friends, and the isolation of his own mental 
position, naturally favoured the fuller development of that 
profound religious feeling which lay at the root of his cha 
racter. It was accordingly during this season of repose, 
that the great leading idea of his system first revealed itself 
to his mind in perfect clearness, and impressed upon his 
subsequent writings that deeply religious character to which 
we have already adverted. The passage from subjective 
reflection to objective and absolute being, had hitherto, as 
we have seen, been attempted by Fichte on the ground of 
moral feeling only. Our Faith in the Divine is the inevi 
table result of our sense of duty ; it is the imperative 
demand of our moral nature. We are immediately conscious 
of a Moral law within us, whose behests are announced to 
us with an absolute authority which we cannot gainsay ; the 
source of that authority is not in us, but in the Eternal 
Fountain of all moral order, shrouded from our intellectual 
vision by the impenetrable glories of the Infinite. But this 


inference of a Moral Lawgiver from our intuition of a Moral 
Law is, after all, but the ordinary " cause and effect" argu 
ment applied to moral phenomena, and is not, strictly 
speaking, more satisfactory than the common application of 
the same course of reasoning to the phenomena of the phy 
sical world. Besides, it does not wholly meet the facts of 
the case, for there can be no doubt that in all men, and 
more especially among savages and half-civilized people, the 
recognition of a Divinity precedes any definite conception of 
a Moral Law. And therefore we do not reach the true and 
ultimate ground of this Faith until we penetrate to that in 
nate feeling of dependence, underlying both our emotional 
and intellectual nature, which, in its relation to the one, 
gives birth to the Religious Sentiments, and, when recog 
nised and elaborated by the other, becomes the basis of a 
scientific belief in the Absolute or God, the materials of 
the edifice being furnished by our intuitions of the Good, 
the Beautiful, and the True. Fichte s thoughts being now 
directed more steadily to the strictly religious aspect of his 
theory, he sought to add such an intellectual validity to our 
moral convictions, to raise our Faith in the Divine from the 
rank of a mere inference from the Moral Sense, to that of a 
direct intuition of Reason. This he accomplished by a 
deeper analysis of the fact of consciousness. What is the 
essential character of our knowledge that which it pre 
serves amid all the diversities of the individual mind ? It 
is this : that it announces itself as a representation of 
something else, a picture of something superior to, and inde 
pendent of, itself. It is thus composed of a double concep 
tion : a Higher Being which it imperfectly represents ; and 
itself, inferior to, derived from, and dependent upon the first. 
Hence, it must renounce the thought of itself as the only 
being whose existence it reveals, and regard itself rather as 
the image or reflection of a truly Highest and Ultimate 
Being revealed in human thought, and indeed its essential 
foundation. And this idea cannot be got rid of on the 
ground that it is a merely subjective conception; for we have 
here reached the primitive essence of thought itself, and to 



deny this would be to deny the very nature and conditions 
of knowledge, and to maintain an obvious contradiction; 
this namely, that there can be a conception without an 
object conceived, a manifestation without substance, and 
that the ultimate foundation of all things is nothing. By 
this reconciliation, and indeed essential union of the sub 
jective with the objective, Iteason finally bridges over the 
chasm \yy which analysis had formerly separated it from the 
simple Faith of common humanity. Consciousness becomes 
the manifestation, the self-revelation of the Absolute ; 
and the Absolute itself is the ground and substance of the 
phenomena of Consciousness, the different forms of which 
are but the various points wherein God is recognised, with 
greater or less degrees of clearness and perfection, in this 
manifestation of himself; while the world itself, as an infi 
nite assemblage of concrete existences, conscious and uncon 
scious, is another phase of the same Infinite and Absolute 
Being. Thus Consciousness, far from being a purely sub 
jective and empty train of fancies, contains nothing which 
does not rest upon and imago forth a Higher and Infinite 
Reality ; and Idealism itself becomes a sublime and Abso 
lute Realism. 

This change in the spirit of his philosophy has been 
ascribed to the influence of a distinguished contemporary, 
who afterwards succeeded to the chair at Berlin of which 
Fichte was the first occupant. It seems to us that it was 
the natural and inevitable result of his own principles and 
mode of thought ; and that it was even theoretically con 
tained in the very first exposition of his doctrine, although 
it had not then attained in his own mind that vivid reality 
with which it shines, as n prophet-like inspiration, through 
out his later writings. In this view we are fully borne out 
by the letter to Jakobi in 1795, and the article from the 
Literatur Zeitung, already quoted.* In the development of 
the system, whether in the mind of its author or in that of 
any learner, the starting point is necessarily the individual 

* See pages 60 and 62. 


consciousness, the finite Ego. But when the logical pro 
cesses of the understanding have performed their office, and 
led us from this, the nearest of our spiritual experiences, to 
that higher point in which all finite individuality disappears 
in the great thought of an all-embracing consciousness, an 
Infinite Ego, it becomes unnecessary to reiterate the initial 
steps of the investigation, to imitate the gropings of the 
schoolboy rather than the comprehensive vision of the man. 
From this higher point of view Fichte now looked forth on 
the universe and human life, and saw there no longer the 
subjective phenomena of a limited and finite nature, but the 
harmonious, although diversified, manifestation of the One 
Universal Being, the self-revelation of the Absolute, the 
infinitely varied forms under which God becomes " manifest 
in the flesh." 

The first traces of this change in his speculative position 
are observable in his " Bcstimmung des Menschen," pub 
lished in 179 ), in which, as we have already said, may be 
found the most systematic exposition of his philosophy 
which has been attempted in a popular form. In 1801 ap 
peared his " Antwortschrciben an Reinhold" (Answer to 
Reinhold), and his " Sonncnklarer Bericht an das grb ssere 
Publicum iiber das eigentliche AVescn der neuesten Philoso 
phic" (Sun-clear Intelligence to the general public on the 
essential nature of the New Philosophy.) These he intended 
to follow up in 1802 with a more strictly scientific and com 
plete account of the Wissenschaftslehre, designed for the 
philosophical reader only. But he was induced to postpone 
this purpose, partly on account of the recent modification of 
his own philosophical point of view, and partly because the 
attention of the literary world was now engrossed by the 
brilliant and poetic Natur- Philosophic of Schelling. Before 
communicating to the world the work which should be 
handed down to posterity as the finished institute of his 
theory, it appeared to him necessary, first of all to prepare 
the public mind for its reception by a series of introductory 
applications of his system to subjects of general interest. 
But this purpose was likewise laid aside for a time, princi- 


pally, it would seem, from dissatisfaction with the reception 
which his works had hitherto received, from the harassing 
misconceptions and misrepresentations which he had en 
countered, and from a doubt, amounting almost to hopeless 
ness, of making his views intelligible to the general public. 
These feelings occasioned a silence of four years on his part, 
and are characteristically expressed in the prefaces to seve 
ral of his subsequent works. 

In the meantime, although Fichte retired for a season 
from the prominent position which he had hitherto occupied 
in the public eye, it was impossible for him to remain inact 
ive. Shut out from communication with the "reading pub 
lic," he sought to gather around him fit hearers to whom he 
might impart the high message with which he was charged. 
This was indeed his favourite mode of communication : in 
the lecture-room his fiery eloquence found a freer scope than 
the form of a literary work would permit. A. circle of pupils 
soon gathered around him at Berlin. His private lectures 
were attended by the most distinguished scholars and states 
men : "W. Schlegel, Kotzebue, the Minister Schrotter, the 
High Chancellor Beyme, and the Minister von Altenstein, 
were found among his auditory. 

In 1804 an opportunity presented itself of resuming his 
favourite vocation of an academic teacher. This was an in 
vitation from Russia to assume the chair of Philosophy in 
the University of Charkow. The existing state of literary 
culture in that country, however, did not seem to offer a 
promising field for his exertions; and another proposal, which 
appeared to open the way to a more useful application of his 
powers, occurring at the same time, he declined the invitation 
to Charkow. The second invitation was likewise a foreign 
one, from Bavaria, namely, to the Philosophic chair at 
Landshut. It was accompanied by pecuniary proposals of a 
most advantageous nature. But experience had taught 
Fichte to set a much higher value upon the internal condi 
tions of such an office, than upon its outward advantages. In 
desiring an academic chair, he sought only an opportunity 
of carrying out his plan of a strictly philosophical education, 


with a view to the future reception of the Wissenschaftslehix 
in its most perfect form. To this purpose he had devoted 
his life, and no pecuniary considerations could induce him 
to lay it aside. But its thorough fulfilment demanded ab 
solute freedom of teaching and writing as a primary condi 
tion, and therefore this was the first point to which Fichte 
looked in any appointment which might be offered to him. 
He frankly laid his views on this subject before the Bava 
rian Government. " The plan," he says, might perhaps be 
carried forward without the support of any government, al 
though this has its difficulties. But if any enlightened 
government should resolve to support it, it would, in my 
opinion, acquire thereby a deathless fame, and become the 
benefactor of humanity." Whether the Bavarian Govern 
ment was dissatisfied with the conditions required does not 
appear, but the negotiations on this subject were short] v 
afterwards broken off. 

At last, however, an opportunity occurred of carrying out 
his views in Prussia itself. Through the influence of his 
friends, Beyme and Altenstein, with the Minister Harden- 
berg, he was appointed Professor of Philosophy at the Uni 
versity of Erlangen, with the liberty of returning to Berlin 
during the winter to continue his philosophical lectures there. 
In May 1805 he entered upon his new duties with a brilliant 
success which seemed to promise a repetition of the epoch 
of Jena. Besides the course of lectures to his own students, 
in which he took a comprehensive survey of the conditions 
and method of scientific knowledge in general, he delivered 
a series of private lectures to his fellow professors and others, 
in which he laid down his views in a more abstract form, 
[n addition to these labours, he delivered to the whole stu 
dents of the University his celebrated lectures on the "Nature 
of the Scholar." These remarkable discourses must have 
had a powerful effect on the young and ardent minds to 
which, they were addressed. Never, perhaps, were the moral 
dignity and sacrcdncss of the literary calling set forth with 
more impressive earnestness. 

Encouraged by the brilliant success which had attended 


his prelections at Erlaugen, Fichte now resolved to give forth 
to the world the results of his later studies, and especially 
to embody, in some practical and generally intelligible form, 
his great conception of the eternal revelation of God in con 
sciousness. Accordingly, on his return to Berlin in the win 
ter of 1805-6, he published the course of lectures to which we 
have just alluded, "Ueber das Wesen des Gelehrten" (On the 
Nature of the Scholar), a translation of which forms a part of 
the present volume. The Scholar is here represented as he 
who, possessed and actuated by the Divine Idea, labours to 
obtain for that Idea an outward manifestation in the world, 
either by cultivating in his fellow-men the capacity for its re 
ception (as Teacher) ; or by directly embodying it in visible 
forms (as Artist, Ruler, Lawgiver, &c.) This publication was 
immediately followed by another course, which had been de 
livered at Berlin during the previous year under the title of 
" Grundziige des gegenwartigen Zeitalters " ( Characteristics 
of the Present Age), of which an English version has also been 
published by the present writer. It is an attempt to apply 
the great principles of Transcendentalism to General History, 
and abounds in searching and comprehensive views of the 
progress, prospects, and destiny of man. This series of po 
pular works vras completed by the publication, in the spring 
of 1806, of the "Anweisung zum Seligen Leben, oder die 
Religionslehre" (The Doctrine of Religion), the most impor 
tant of all his later writings, which contains the final re 
sults of his philosophy in their most comprehensive and ex 
alted application. A translation of this admirable work is 
also included in the present volume. 

Fichte s long -cherished hopes of founding an academi 
cal institution in accordance with his philosophical views, 
seemed now about to be realized. During the winter vaca 
tion, Hardenberg communicated with him on the subject of 
a new organization of the University of Erlangen. Fichte 
drew up a plan for this purpose, which was submitted to 
the Minister in 1806. But fortune again interposed : the 
outbreak of the war with France prevented his resuming 
the duties which had been so well begun. 


The campaign of 1805 had subjected the greater part of 
Germany to the power of Napoleon. Prussia, almost alone, 
maintained her independence, surrounded on every side by 
the armies or vassals of France. Her struggle with the giant- 
power of the continent was of short duration. On the 9th 
October 180G war was declared, on the 14th the double 
battle of Auerstadt and Jena was fought, and on the 25th 
Napoleon entered Berlin. In rapid succession, all the fort 
resses of Prussia fell into the hands of the invader. 

Fichte eagerly desired permission to accompany the army 
Avhich his coimtry sent forth against her invaders. The hopes 
of Germany hung upon its progress; its success would bring 
freedom and peace, its failure, military depotisrn with all 
its attendant horrors. Opposed to the well-trained troops 
of France, elated Avith victory and eager for new conquests, 
the defenders of Germany needed all the aid which high 
principle and ardent patriotism could bring to their cause. 
To maintain such a spirit in the army by such addresses as 
afterwards appeared under the celebrated title of "Ileden 
an die Deutschen," Fichte conceived to be his appropriate 
part in the general resistance to the enemy ; and for that 
purpose he desired to be near the troops. " If the orator," 
he said, " must content himself with speech if he may not 
fight in your ranks to prove the truth of his principles by his 
actions, by his contempt of danger and of death, by his pre 
sence in the most perilous places of the combat, this is but 
the fault of his age, which has separated the calling of the 
scholar from that of the warrior. But he feels that if he 
had been taught to carry arms, he would have been behind 
none in courage ; he laments that his age lias denied him 
the privilege accorded to .^Eschylus and Cervantes, to make 
good his words by manly deeds. He would restore that time 
if he could ; and in the present circumstances, which he looks 
upon as bringing with them a new phase of his existence, he 
would proceed rather to deeds than to words. But since he 
may only speak, he would speak fire and sword. Nor would 
he do this securely and away from danger. In his discourses 
he would give utterance to truths belonging to this subject 


with all the clearness with which he himself sees them, with 
all the earnestness of which he is capable, utter them a- 
vowedly and with his own name, truths which should cause 
him to be held worthy of death before the tribunal of the 
enemy. And on that account he would not faintheartedly 
conceal himself, but speak boldly before your face, that he 
might either live free in bis fatherland, or perish in its 

The rapid progress of the war prevented compliance with 
his wish, but the spirit which gave it birth was well appre 
ciated by Frederick- William. "Your idea, dear Fichte," says 
the reply to his proposal, " does you honour. The King 
thanks you for your offer ; perhaps we may make use of it 
afterwards. But the King must first speak to his army by 
deeds : your eloquence may turn to account the advantages 
of victory." 

The defeat of Jena on the 14th October, and the rapid 
march of Napoleon upon Berlin, which remained defenceless, 
rendered it necessary for all who had identified themselves 
with the cause of their country to seek refuge in instant 
flight. Fichte s resolution was soon taken: he would share 
the clangers of his fatherland, rather than purchase safety 
by submission. He left Berlin on the 18th October, in 
company with his friend and physician Hufeland, a few 
days before the occupation of the city by the French army. 
Fichte s wife remained in Berlin to take charge of their 
own and of Hufeland s household, while the two friends fled 
beyond the Oder. 

Fichte took up his residence at Kb nisberg to await the 
result of the war. The uncertainty of his future prospects, 
and the dangerous situation in which he had left his family, 
did not prevent him from pursuing his vocation as a public 
teacher, even in the face of many hindrances. During the 
winter he delivered a course of philosophical lectures in the- 
University, having been appointed provisional professor of 
philosophy during his residence. He steadfastly resisted the 
earnest desire of his wife to return to Berlin during its oc- 


cupancy by the French, conceiving it to be his duty to sub 
mit to every privation and discomfort rather than give an 
indirect sanction to the presence of the enemy by sitting 
down quietly under their rule, although he could now do so 
with perfect safety to himself. " Such a return," he says, 
"would stand in direct contradiction to the declarations made 
in my address to the King, of which address my present cir 
cumstances are the result. And if no other keep me to my 
word, it is just so much more my duty to hold myself to it. 
It is precisely when other scholars of note in our country are 
wavering, that he who has hitherto been true should stand 
the firmer in his uprightness." 

During his residence in Konigsberg, he renewed many of 
the friendships which he had formed there in early life, and 
he now sought to add to his comfort by the removal of his 
wife and child from Berlin. This plan was frustrated by a 
dangerous illness by which his wife was overtaken, and which 
is referred to in the following extracts from letters written 
at this time : 

dFtcfjte an emei; jFtau. 

"Yesterday I received the intelligence of thy illness. Thy 
few lines have drawn from me tears, I know not whether 
of grief, joy, or love. How blind we are ! I have dreaded 
everything but this. Naturally thou canst not have fallen 
into serious illness ; something extraordinary must have be 
fallen thee. I hoped that thou wouldst have borne our short 
separation well, especially on account of the duties which 
were laid upon thee. I recommended these thoughts to thee 
at our parting, and I have, since that time, enforced them 
in my letters. Strong souls, and thou art no weak one, 
make themselves stronger thus : and yet ! 

"Yet think not, dearest, that I would chide about thy 
illness. Rather, in faith and trust, do I already receive thee 
into my arms, as if thou wert really present, a new gift given 
unto me, with even added value. Thou wert recovering, 
although thy lines are feeble ; at least I trust to thy own as 
surance rather than to that of friends who would reach me 



the cup of despondency in measured doses. Thou knowest 
me ; thou knowest that untruth does not suit me ; thou 
wilt continue truthful towards me. This letter will find thee 
living and in health" 


" One passage of Bernhardi s letter has deeply touched 
me ; that where he speaks of our Hermann. Let the boy 
be pure and noble, (and why should he not, since he has 
certainly not one drop of false blood from thee, and I know 
that there is no such thing in me which he could inherit ?) 
and let him learn what he can. If I but had you both, 
you who are my riches, in my arms again, that I might 
try whether I could improve the treasure ! Live thou to love 
me and thy boy ; I and he, if he has a drop of my blood in 
his veins, will try to recompense thee for it." 


" Again, thou dear one, had I to struggle against the an 
guish which secretly assailed me because I had no tidings 
of thee yesterday, when I received your letter of the 15th, 
delayed probably in its transmission. God be praised that 
your recovery goes on well ! You receive now regular and 
good news from me ; our friend also must now have been 
with thee for a long time ; and when you receive this letter 
you will probably find yourself enabled to prepare for your 
journey to me. You will, indeed, certainly not receive it be 
fore the close of this so sorrowful year. God grant to thee, 
and to all brave hearts who deserve it, a better new one !" 


" Do not come here, but stay where thou art, for I am very 
dissatisfied here, and with good grounds ; and if, as seems 
probable, a favourable change of affairs should take place, I 
shall endeavour to return to my old quarters, and so be with 
you again. This was the meaning of what I wrote to you 
in my last letter, but I had not then come to a settled re 
solution about it. 

" Live in health and peace, and in hope of better times, 
as I do. I bless thee from my inmost heart, am with thee 


in spirit, and rejoice in the happy anticipation of seeing thee 
again. Ever thine." 

The hopes which were founded on the result of the battle 
of Eylau (8th February 1807), and which seem to be referred 
to in the preceding letter, were speedily dispelled ; and the 
subsequent progress of the war rendered Fichte s residence 
at Konigsberg no longer safe or desirable. His communi 
cations with his family had also become very irregular and 
uncertain. He consequently determined on a removal to 
Copenhagen, there to await the termination of the war. He 
left Konigsberg in the beginning of June, and, after a short 
stay at Memel, arrived at the Danish capital about the middle 
of the following month. The impossibility of engaging in 
any continuous occupation during this period of uncertainty 
and hazard seems to have exposed him, as well as his family, 
to considerable pecuniary difficulties and privations. On the 
other hand, his unswerving devotion to his country, and the 
sacrifices he had cheerfully made for her sake, had gained 
for him the sincere esteem of the Prussian Government, and 
no inconsiderable influence in its counsels. At the end ot 
August 1807 peace was concluded, and Fichte returned to 
his family after a separation of nearly a year. 

With the return of peace, the Prussian Government deter 
mined to repair the loss of political importance by fostering 
among its citizens the desire of intellectual distinction and 
the love of free speculation. It seemed to the eminent men 
who then stood around the throne of Frederick-William, that 
the temple of German independence had now to be rebuilt 
from its foundations; that the old stock of liberty having 
withered, or been swept away in the tornado which had just 
passed over their heads, a new growth must take its place, 
springing from a deeper root and quickened by a fresher 
stream. One of the first means which suggested itself lor 
the attainment of this purpose, was the establishment at 
Berlin of a new school of higher education, free from the im 
perfections of the old Universities, from which, as from the 
spiritual heart of the community, a rurront of life and Piiei^v 


might be poured forth through all its members. Fichte was 
chosen by the Minister as the man before all others fitted 
for this task, and unlimited power was given him to frame 
for the new University a constitution which should ensure 
its efficiency and success. No employment could have been 
more congenial to Fichte s inclinations ; it presented him 
at last with the long-wished-for opportunity of developing a 
systematic plan of human instruction, founded on the spirit 
ual nature of man. He entered with ardour upon the under 
taking, and towards the end of 1807 his plan was completed 
and laid before the Minister. Its chief feature was perfect 
unity of purpose, complete subordination of every branch of 
instruction to the one great object of all teaching, not the 
inculcation of opinion, but the spiritual culture and elevation 
of the student. The institution was to be an organic whole ; 
an assemblage, not of mere teachers holding various and 
perhaps opposite views, and living only to disseminate these, 
but of men animated by a common purpose, and steadily 
pursuing one recognised object. The office of the Professor 
was not to repeat verbally what already stood printed in 
books, and might be found there ; but to exercise a diligent 
supervision over the studies of the pupil, and to see that he 
fully acquired, by his own effort, and as a personal and in 
dependent possession, the branch of knowledge which was 
the object of his studies. It was thus a school for the scien 
tific use of the understanding, in which positive or historical 
knowledge was to be looked upon only as a vehicle of in 
struction, not as an ultimate end: spiritual independence, 
intellectual strength, moral dignity, these were the great 
ends to the attainment of which everything else was but 
the instrument. The plan met with distinguished appro 
bation from the Minister to whom it was presented ; and if, 
when the University was actually established some time 
afterwards, the ordinary and more easily fulfilled constitu 
tion of such schools was followed, it is to be attributed to 
the management of the undertaking having passed into 
other hands, and to the difficulty of finding teachers who 
would cooperate in the accomplishment of the scheme. 


But the misfortunes of his country induced Fichte to make 
a yet more direct attempt to rouse the fallen spirit of liberty, 
and once more to awaken in the hearts of his countrymen 
the desire of independence which now lay crushed beneath 
a foreign yoke. Prussia was the last forlorn hope of German 
freedom, and it now seemed to lie wholly at the mercy of 
the conqueror. The native government could be little else 
than a mockery while the capital of the country was still 
occupied by French troops. Fichte was well aware of the 
dangers attending any open attempt to excite a spirit of op 
position to the French, but he was not accustomed to weigh 
danger against duty; with him there was but short pause 
between conviction and action. " The sole question," said 
he to himself, " is this : canst thou hope that the good to 
be attained is greater than the danger? The good is the re 
awakening and elevation of the people ; against which my 
personal danger is not to be reckoned, but for which it may 
rather be most advantageously incurred. My family and my 
son shall not want the support of the nation, the least of 
the advantages of having a martyr for their father. This is 
the best choice. I could not devote my life to a better end." 

Thus heroically resolved that he, at least, should not be 
wanting in his duty to his fatherland, he delivered his cele 
brated "Reden an die Deutsche^ (Addresses to the German 
People) in the academical buildings in Berlin during the 
winter 1807-8. His voice was often drowned by the trum 
pets of the French troops, and well-known spies frequently 
made their appearance among his auditory; but he continued, 
undismayed, to direct all the fervour of his eloquence against 
the despotism of Napoleon and the system of spoiling and 
oppression under which his country groaned. It is somewhat 
singular, that while Davoust threatened the chief literary 
men of Berlin with vengeance if they should either speak or 
write upon the political state of Germany, Fichte should have 
remained unmolested the only one who did speak out, 
openly and fearlessly, against the foreign yoke. 

The " Reden an die Deutsche^ " belong to the history of 
(Jermanv, and in its literarv annals thev are well entitled to 


a distinguished and honourable place. Among the many 
striking phenomena of that eventful period there is none 
that exceeds in real interest and instructiveness this one of 
a literary man, single-handed and surrounded by foreign 
troops, setting before him, as a duty which he of all others 
was called upon to fulfil, the task of a people s regeneration. 
Uniting the patriot s enthusiasm with the prophet s inspira 
tion, Fichte raised a voice whose echoes rang through every 
corner of Germany, and summoned to the rescue of his coun 
try all that remained of nobleness and devotion among her 
sons. It was to no vain display of military glory that he 
roused and directed their efforts : he sought to erect the 
structure of his country s future welfare and fame on a far 
deeper and surer foundation. In strains of the most fer 
vid and impassioned eloquence he pointed out the true re 
medies for the national degradation, the culture of moral 
dignity, spiritual freedom, and independence. In these Ad 
dresses he first announced the plan and delineated all the 
chief features of that celebrated system of Public Education 
which has since conferred such inestimable benefits on Prus 
sia, and raised her, in this respect, to a proud pre-eminence 
among the nations of Europe.* Never were a people called 

*" Fichte may thus be regarded as the originator of the well-known Prus 
sian system of Education. Baron von Stein, the great Minister of Prussia 
at this time, no douht took the first steps towards its practical realization : 
but it is not the less true that to Fichte alone belongs the honour of hav 
ing first given utterance to the great idea of a common Education as the 
basis of a common Nationality among the German people. This noble 
scheme of national regeneration, which has since borne such wonderful fruit, 
is comprehensively set forth in the " Reden an die Deutschen." In later 
times. Germany has not been forgetful of those who thus, in evil days, laid 
the foundations of her future unity and greatness. On the Centenary of 
Fichte s birth, 19th May 1862, a Festival was celebrated at Berlin, under 
the auspices of the National Verein, in honour of his memory. The 
correspondent, writing the following day, says: " Yesterday morning, very 
early, a great number of Fichte s admirers assembled at his grave in the 
old Dorothcenstadt churchyard outside the Oranienburg gate. The place 
had been put in order, the monument repaired, the grave decked with 
flowers and garlands. They sang there the first verse of the fine old chorale 
Ein fexte Burg ist uriner Gott, and a clergyman delivered an appropriate dis 
course. The house on the Nuw Promenade, in which Fichte for many years 


upon to arouse themselves to a nobler enterprize, and 
never was such a summons pealed forth in tones of more 
manly and spirit-stirring energy. The last Address is a 
noble appeal to the several classes of society in Germany 
to unite, heart and hand, in forwarding the great work of 
national regeneration. We quote the peroration : 

"In these addresses the memory of your forefathers speaks 
to you. Think that with my voice there are mingled the 
voices of your ancestors from the far-off ages of gray anti 
quity, of those who stemmed with their own bodies the tide 
of Roman domination over the world, who vindicated with 
their own blood the independence of those mountains, 

lived, was decorated by the care of the committee for the celebration of the 
anniversary with wreaths and laurels, and with draperies of black, red, and 
gold, and of black and white, the German and Prussian colours. A memorial 
slab was also set up against it a temporary one to be presently replaced by 
one of marble. At the University, Professor Trendelenburg made an excel 
lent speech. Fichte was the first rector of this University. From him, his 
eulogist said, it had inherited the obligation to defend independence of 
thought and opinion. The Crown Prince was present at the speech, and 
afterwards complimented Trendelenburg upon it. The students, the workmen, 
and various other corporations celebrated the day ; but its most remarkable 
feature was unquestionably the grand ceremony at the Victoria Theatre, got 
up by the National Verein. The spacious stage, common to both the sum 
mer and the winter theatre, was completely cleared. In the centre of this 
platform was a truncated column supporting a colossal bust of Fichte. Be 
hind and on either side of this was a numerous band of chorus singers, 
and, behind them, some instrumentalists. At its foot was a slightly- 
raised standing-place for the speakers. Dr. Veit, president of the committee, 
opened the proceedings in a short speech. M. Berthold Auerbach, better 
known as a literary man than as a politician, read a well-composed sketch 
of Fichte s life. Deputy Franz Duncker read some very interesting personal 
sketches and incidents, furnished by one of Fichte s oldest friends and dis 
ciples. Dr Loewe made a long spech, referring to the tendency of his writ 
ings, and chiefly of a political character. With a few more remarks from 
the President, and another chorus by the singers, an evening terminated 
which was remarkable for the excellence of its arrangements, and for the 

gratification it apparently afforded to all present." On the same day, a 

granite column erected in honour of Fichte at his native village of Ram- 
menau, and bearing four marble slabs with appropriate inscriptions, was 
inaugurated by a public ceremony. Ten years later, a memorial to Baron 
Stein, erected at Nassau his birth-place in acknowledgment of the debt 
which Prussia owes to him, was unveiled on 9th July 1872, in presence 
of the Emperor, Empress, and Prince Imperial of Germany. 


plains, and streams, which ye have suffered to fall a prey 
to the stranger. They call to you, Be you our defenders! 
hand down our memory to future ages, honourable and 
spotless, as it has come down to you, as you have gloried in 
it, and in your descent from us. Hitherto our struggle has 
been deemed noble, great, and wise; we have been looked 
upon as the consecrated and inspired ones of a Divine 
World-Plan. Should our race perish with you, then will 
our honour be changed into dishonour, our wisdom into 
folly. For if Germany were ever to be subdued to the Em- 
pire, then had it been better to have fallen before the elder 
Romans than their modern descendants. We withstood 
those, and triumphed ; these have scattered you like chaff 
before them. But, as matters now are with you, seek not 
to conquer with bodily weapons, but stand firm and erect 
before them in spiritual dignity. Yours is the greater des- 
tiny, to found an empire of Mind and Reason, to destroy 
the dominion of rude physical power as the ruler of the 
world. Do this, and ye shall be worthy of your descent 
from us ! 

"With these voices mingle the spirits of your later fa 
thers, of those who fell in the sacred struggle for freedom 
of Religion and of Faith : Save our honour too! they call. 
To us it had not become wholly clear what it was we fought 
for ; besides our just determination to suffer no outward 
power to control us in matters of conscience, we were also 
led onward by a higher spirit which never wholly unveiled 
itself to our view. To you this spirit is no longer veiled, 
if your power of vision transcend the things of sense ; it 
now regards you with high, clear aspect. The confused 
and intricate combination of sensous and spiritual impulses 
with each other shall no longer govern the world : Mind 
alone, pure from all admixture of sense, shall assume the 
guidance of human affairs. In order that this spirit should 
have liberty to develop! itself, and rise to independent 
existence, our blood was shed. It lies with you to give a 
meaning and a justification to the sacrifice, by establishing 
this spirit in its destined supremacy. Should this result 


not ensue, as the ultimate end of the previous develop 
ment of our nation, then were our struggles but a forgotten 
farce, and, the freedom of mind and conscience for which 
we fought, an empty word, since neither mind nor con- 
science should any longer have a place among us. 

" The races yet unborn plead with you : You were proud 
of your forefathers, they cry, and gloried in your descent 
from a noble line of men. See that with you the chain is 
not broken; -act so that we also may be proud of you, and 
through you, as through a spotless medium, claim our des- 
cent from the same glorious source. Be not you the cause 
of making us revile our ancestry as low, barbarous, and 
slavish ; of causing us to hide our origin, or to assume a 
foreign name and a foreign parentage, in order that we 
may not, without farther proof, be cast aside and trodden 
underfoot. According as the next generation which pro- 
ceeds from you shall be, so shall be your future fame: 
honourable, if this shall bear honourable witness to you; 
deservedly ignominious, if ye have not an unblemished 
posterity to succeed you, and leave it to the conqueror to 
write your history. Never has a victor been known to 
have either the inclination or the means of passing a just 
judgment on the subdued. The more he degrades them, 
the better does he justify his own position. Who can 
know what great deeds, what excellent institutions, what 
noble manners of many nations of antiquity may have 
passed away into oblivion, because their succeeding genera- 
tions have been enslaved, and have left the conqueror, in 
his own way, and without contradiction, to tell their story? 
"Even the stranger in foreign lands pleads with you, in 
so far as he understands himself and knows aright his own 
true interest. Yes ! there are in every nation minds who can 
never believe that the great promises to the human race of 
a Kingdom of Law, of Reason, and of Truth, are idle and 
vain delusions, and who consequently cherish the conviction 
that the present iron-handed time is but a progression to 
wards a better state. These, and with them the whole later 
races of humanity, trust in you. A great part of these trace 



their lineage from us ; others have received from us religion 
and all other culture. Those plead with us, by the common 
soil of our Fatherland, the cradle of their infancy, which they 
have left to us free, these by the culture which they have 
accepted from us as the pledge of a higher good, to main 
tain, for their sakes, the proud position which has hitherto 
been ours, to guard with jealous watchfulness against even 
the possible disappearance, from the great confederation of 
a newly-arisen humanity, of that member which is to them 
more important than all others; so that when they shall 
need our counsel, our example, our cooperation in the pur 
suit and attainment of the true end of this Earthly Life, 
they shall not look around for us in vain. 

"All Ages, all the Wise and Good who have ever breathed 
the air of this world of ours, all their thoughts and aspi 
rations towards a Higher Good, mingle with these voices, 
and encompass you about, and raise supplicating hands to 
wards you; Providence itself, if we may venture so to speak, 
and the Divine Plan in the creation of a Human Race, 
which indeed exists only that it may be understood of men, 
and by men be wrought out into reality, plead with you 
to save their honour and their existence. Whether those 
who have believed that Humanity must ever advance in a 
course of ceaseless improvement, and that the great ideas of 
its order and dignity were not empty dreams, but the pro 
phetic announcement and pledge of their own future reali 
zation ; whether those or they who have slumbered on in 
the sluggish indolence of a mere vegetable or animal exis 
tence, and mocked every aspiration towards a higher World 
have had the right, this is the question upon which it 
has fallen to your lot to furnish a last and decisive answer. 
The ancient world, with all its nobility and greatness, as well 
as all its deficiencies, has fallen, through its own unworthi- 
ness and the might of your forefathers. If there has been 
truth in that which I have spoken to you in these Addresses, 
then it is you to whom, out of all other modern nations, the 
germs of human perfection are especially committed, and on 
whom the foremost place in the onward advance towards 


their development is conferred. If you sink to nothing in 
this your peculiar office, then with you the hopes of Hu 
manity for salvation out of all its evils are likewise over 
thrown. Hope not, console not yourselves with the vain 
delusion, that a second time, after the destruction of an 
ancient civilization, a new culture will arise upon the ruins 
of the old, from a half-barbaric people. In ancient times, 
such a people existed fully provided with all the requisites 
for this mission ; they were well known to the cultivated 
nation, and were described in its literature ; and that na 
tion itself, had it been able to suppose the case of its own 
downfall, might have discovered the means of renovation in 
this people. To us also the whole surface of the earth is 
well known, and all the nations who dwell upon it. Do we 
know one, like the ancestral tribe of modern Europe, of 
whom like hopes may be entertained? I think that every 
man who does not give himself up to visionary hopes and 
fancies, but desires only honest and searching inquiry, 
must answer this question No! There is, then, no way 
of escape : if ye sink, Humanity sinks with you, without 
hope of future restoration ! " Seldom indeed has the cause 
of a nation s independence been pled on grounds so truly 
noble and elevating as these ! 

This spirit-stirring course of public activity was inter 
rupted by a severe illness, which attacked him in the spring 
of 1808. It was his first illness, and it took so determined 
a hold of his powerful constitution, that he never thoroughly 
got rid of its effects. Deep-seated nervous disease, and par 
ticularly an affection of the liver, reduced him to great 
weakness, and for a time it seemed doubtful" whether his 
life could be saved. It was only after some months of suf 
fering that the disease settled down upon a particular limb, 
and left him with a rheumatic lameness of the left arm and 
right foot, which, with an accompanying inflammation in 
the eyes, hindered him for a long time from resuming his 
habits of active life. He was removed several times to the 
baths of Teplitz with beneficial effect. The tedium of con- 


valescence was relieved by study of the great authors of 
Italy, Spain, and Portugal. At an earlier period of his life 
he had made himself acquainted with the languages of these 
countries, and had produced many translations from their 
poets, particularly an entire version of the first canto of 
Dante s Divina Commedia,* and one of the most beautiful 
episodes in the Lusiad of Camoens. And now, in the sea 
son of debility and pain, the noble thoughts handed down by 
the great poets of the south as an everlasting possession to 
the world, became to him the springs of new strength and 
dignity. Nor did he cease altogether from literary exer 
tion. During his confinement he undertook a thorough re 
vision of his philosophical lectures, and made extensive pre 
paration for his future academical labours. Much of his 
time, too, was occupied in the education of his only son, who 
speaks with deep reverence and thankfulness of the instruc 
tions thus imparted to him. Amongst his letters written 
during his sickness, we find a touching correspondence with 
Ernst Wagner, a true and warm-hearted friend of his coun 
try and of all good men, but whose spirit was crushed al 
most to hopelessness by the pressure of disease and penury. 
To him Fichte found means of affording such relief and en 
couragement as prolonged, for some short period at least, 
a valuable and upright life. 

Of his domestic life during this period, and the manner 
in which it too bore the impress of his high soul-elevating 
philosophy, we obtain the following interesting and in 
structive glimpse : " We had a family meeting for worship 
every evening, which closed the day worthily and solemnly ; 
in this the domestics also were accustomed to take a part. 
When some verses of a chorale had been sung to the accom 
paniment of the piano, my father began, and discoursed upon 
a passage or chapter of the New Testament, especially from 
his favourite Evangelist John ; or, when particular household 
circumstances gave occasion for it, he spoke also a word of 
reproof or of comfort. But, as far as I remember, he never 

* Printed in the -Vesta" for 1807. 


made use of ordinary practical applications of his subject, or 
laid down preceptive regulations for conduct ; but the ten 
dency of his teaching appeared rather to be to purify the 
spirit from the distractions and vanities of common life, and 
to elevate it to the Imperishable and Eternal." So truly 
was his life, in all its relations, the faithful counterpart of 
the noble doctrine which he taught. 

On Fichte s return to active life he found himself placed, 
almost at once, in a position from which he could influence 
in no slight degree the destinies of his fatherland. Doubts 
had arisen as to the propriety of placing the new University 
in a large city like Berlin. It was urged that the metropolis 
presented too many temptations to idleness and dissipation 
to render it an eligible situation for a seminary devoted to 
the education of young men. This was the view entertained 
by the Minister Stein, but warmly combated by Wolff, 
Fichte, and others. Stein was at length won over, and the 
University was opened in 1810. The King gave one of the 
finest palaces in Berlin for the purpose, and all the appli 
ances of mental culture were provided on the most liberal 
scale. Learned men of the greatest eminence in their re 
spective departments were invited from all quarters, Wolff, 
Fichte, Miiller, Humboldt, De Wette, Schleiermacher, Nean- 
der, Klaproth, and Savigny, higher names than these cannot 
easily be found in their peculiar walks of literature and 
science. By the suffrages of his fellow-teachers, Fichte was 
unanimously elected Rector. 

Thus placed at the head of an institution from which so 
much was expected, Fichte laboured unceasingly to establish 
a high tone of morality in the new University, convinced 
that thereby he should best promote the dignity as well as 
the welfare of his country. His dearest wish was to see 
Germany free, free alike from foreign oppression and from 
internal reproach. He longed to see the stern sublimity of 
old Greek citizenship reappear among a people whom the 
conquerors of Greece had failed to subdue. And therefore 
it was before all things necessary that they who were to go 


forth as the apostles of truth and virtue, who were to be 
the future representatives among the people of all that is 
dignified and sacred, should themselves be deeply impressed 
with the high nature of their calling, and keep unsullied the 
honour which must guide and guard them in the discharge 
of its duties. He therefore applied himself to the reforma 
tion of such features in the student -life as seemed irrecon 
cilable with its nobleness, to the suppression of the Lands- 
mannschaften, and of the practice of duelling. Courts of 
honour, composed of the students themselves, decided upon 
all such quarrels as had usually led to personal encounters. 
During his two years rectorship, Fichte laboured with un 
remitting perseverance to render the University in every 
respect worthy of the great purposes which had called it 
into existence, and laid the foundation of the character 
which it still maintains, of being the best regulated, as well 
as one of the most efficient, schools in Germany. 

The year of 1812 was an important one for Europe, and 
particularly for Germany. The gigantic power of Napoleon 
had now reached its culminating point. Joseph Bonaparte 
reigned at Madrid, and Murat at Naples; Austria was sub 
dued, and the fair daughter of the House of Hapsburg had 
united her fate to that of the conqueror of her race ; Prus 
sia lay at his mercy ; Holland and the Free Towns were 
annexed to the territory of France, which now extended from 
Sicily to Denmark. One thing alone was wanting to make 
him sole master of the continent of Europe, and that was 
the conquest of Russia. His passion for universal dominion 
led him into the great military error of his life, the at 
tempt to conquer a country defended by its climate from 
foreign invasion, and which, even if subdued, could never 
have been retained. He rushed on to the fate which sooner 
or later awaits unbridled ambition. The immense armies of 
France were poured through Germany upon the North, to 
find a grave amid the snows of Smolensk and in the waters 
of the Berezina. 

And now Prussia resolved to make a decisive effort to 


throw off a yoke which had always been hateful to her. The 
charm was now broken which made men look on the might 
of Napoleon as invincible ; the unconquerable battalions 
had been routed ; fortune had turned against her former 
favourite. The King entered into an alliance with the Rus 
sian Emperor, and in January 1813, having retired from 
Berlin to Breslau, he sent forth a proclamation calling upon 
the youth of the country to arm themselves in defence of 
its liberty. Nobly was his appeal responded to. The nation 
rose as one man ; all distinctions were forgotten in the high 
enthusiasm of the time; prince and peasant, teacher and 
scholar, artizan and merchant, poet and philosopher, swelled 
the ranks of the army of liberation. 

Fichte now renewed his former application to be permit 
ted to accompany the troops in the capacity of preacher or 
orator, that he might share their dangers and animate their 
courage. Difficulties, however, arose in the way of this ar 
rangement, and he resolved to remain at his post in Berlin, 
and to continue his lectures until he and his scholars should 
be called personally to the defence of their country. The 
other professors united with him in a common agreement 
that the widows and children of such of their number as fell 
in the war should be provided for by the cares of the survi 
vors. It is worthy of remark, that amid this eager enthu 
siasm Fichte resolutely opposed the adoption of any proceed 
ings against the enemy which might cast dishonour on the 
sacred cause of freedom. While a French garrison still held 
Berlin, one of his students revealed to him a plan, in which 
he himself was engaged, for firing their magazine during the 
night. Doubts had arisen in his mind as to the lawfulness 
of such a mode of aiding his country s cause, and he had 
resolved to lay the scheme before the teacher for whose 
opinion he entertained an almost unbounded reverence. 
Fichte immediately disclosed the plot to the superintendent 
of police, by whose timely interference it was defeated. The 
same young man, who acted so honourably on this occasion, 
afterwards entered the army as a volunteer in one of the 
grenadier battalions. At the battle of Dennewitz his life 


was preserved in a very remarkable manner. A musket 
ball, which struck him during the fight, was arrested in its 
fatal progress by encountering a copy of Fichte s "Religions- 
lehre," his constant companion and moral safeguard, which 
on this occasion served him likewise as a physical ^Egidus. 
On examining the book, he found that the ball had been 
stopped at these words (p. 249) "denn alles, was da kommt, 
ist der Wille Gottes mit ihm, und drum das Allerbeste, 
was da kommen konnte " (" for everything that comes to 
pass is the Will of God with him, and therefore the best that 
can possibly come to pass."} 

During the summer of 1813, Fichte delivered from the 
Academical chair those views of the existing circumstances 
of his country, and of the war in which it was engaged, which 
he was prevented from communicating to the army directly. 
These lectures were afterwards printed under the title of 
"Ueber den BegrifF des wahren Kriegs" (On the Idea of a 
true War.} With a clearness and energy of thought which 
seemed to increase with the difficulties and dangers of his 
country, he roused an irresistible opposition to proposals of 
peace which, through the mediation of Austria, were offered 
during the armistice in June and July. The demands of 
Napoleon left Germany only a nominal independence ; a 
brave and earnest people sought for true freedom. " A 
stout heart and no peace," was Fichte s motto, and his 
countrymen agreed with him. Hostilities were recom 
menced in August 1813. 

In the beginning of the winter half-year, Fichte resumed 
his philosophical prelections at the University. His subject 
was an introduction to philosophy upon an entirely new 
plan, which should render a knowledge of his whole sys 
tem much more easily attainable. It is said that this, his 
last course of academical lectures, was distinguished by un 
usual freshness and brilliancy of thought, as if he were ani 
mated once more by the energy of youthful enthusiasm, 
even while he stood, unconsciously, on the threshold of an 
other world. He had now accomplished the great object of 
his life, the completion, in his own mind, of that scheme 


of knowledge by which his name was to be known to pos 
terity. Existing in his own thought as one clear and com 
prehensive whole, he believed that he could now communi 
cate it to others, in a simpler and more intelligible form 
than it had yet assumed. It was his intention to devote the 
following summer to this purpose, and, in the solitude of 
some country retreat, to prepare a finished record of his phi 
losophy in its maturity and completeness. But fate had 
ordered otherwise. 

The vicinity of Berlin to the seat of the great struggle on 
which the liberties of Germany were depending rendered it 
the most eligible place for the reception of the wounded and 
and diseased. The hospitals of the city were crowded, and 
the ordinary attendants of these establishments were found 
insufficient in number to supply the wants of the patients. 
The authorities therefore called upon the inhabitants for 
their assistance, and Fichte s wife was one of the first who 
responded to the call. The noble and generous disposition 
which had rendered her the worthy companion of the philo 
sopher, now led her forth, regardless of danger, to give all 
her powers to woman s holiest ministry. Not only did she 
labour with unwearied assiduity to assuage the bodily suf 
ferings of the wounded, and to surround them with every 
comfort which their situation required and which she had 
the power to supply; she likewise poured words of consola 
tion into many a breaking heart, and awakened new strength 
and faithfulness in those who were "ready to perish." 

For five months she pursued with uninterrupted devotion 
her attendance at the hospitals, and although not naturallv 
of a strong constitution, she escaped the contagion which 
surrounded her. But on the 3d of January 1814 she was 
seized with a nervous fever, which speedily rose to an alarm 
ing height, so that almost every hope of her recovery was 
lost. Fichte s affection never suffered him to leave her side, 
except during the time of his lectures. It is an astonishing 
proof of his self-command, that after a day of anxious 
watching at the deathbed, as it seemed, of her he held 



dearest on earth, he should be able to address his class in 
the evening, for two consecutive hours, on the most pro 
found and abstract subjects of human speculation, uncertain 
whether, on his return, he might find that loved one still 
alive. At length the crisis of the fever was past, and Fichte 
received again the faithful partner of his cares, rescued from 
the grave. 

But even in this season of joy, in the embrace of gratula- 
tion he received the seeds of death. Scarcely was his wife 
pronounced out of danger than he himself caught the in 
fection, and was attacked by the insidious disease. Its first 
symptom was nervous sleeplessness, which resisted the ef 
fects of baths and the other usual remedies. Soon, however, 
the true nature of the malady was no longer doubtful, and 
during the rapid progress of his illness, his lucid moments 
became shorter and less frequent. In one of these he was 
told of Blucher s passage of the Rhine, and the final expul 
sion of the French from Germany. That spirit-stirring in 
formation touched a chord which roused him from his un 
consciousness, and he awoke to a bright and glorious vision 
of a better future for his fatherland. The triumphant ex 
citement mingled itself with his fevered fancies : he ima 
gined himself in the midst of the victorious struggle, strik 
ing for the liberties of Germany ; and then again it was 
against his own disease that he fought, and power of will 
and firm determination were the arms by which he was to 
conquer it. Shortly before his death, when his son ap 
proached him with medicine, he said, with his usual look of 
deep affection " Leave it alone ; I need no more medicine : 
I feel that I am well." On the eleventh day of his illness, 
on the night of the 27th January 1814, he died. The last 
hours of his life were passed in deep and unbroken sleep. 

Fichte died in his fifty-second year, with his bodily and 
mental faculties unimpaired by age ; scarcely a grey hair 
shaded the deep black upon his bold and erect head. In 
stature he was low, but powerful and muscular. His step 
was firm, and his whole appearance and address bespoke the 
rectitude, firmness, and earnestness of his character. 


His widow survived him for five years. By the kindness 
of the Monarch she was enabled to pass the remainder of 
her life in ease and competence, devoting herself to the 
superintendence of her son s education. She died on the 
29th January 1819, after an illness of seven days. 

Fichte died as he had lived, the priest of knowledge, the 
apostle of freedom, the martyr of humanity. He belongs to 
those Great Men whose lives are an everlasting possession 
to mankind, and whose words the world does not willingly 
let die. His character stands written in his life, a massive 
but severely simple whole. It has no parts ; the depth 
and earnestness on which it rests, speak forth alike in his 
thoughts, words, and actions. No man of his time few 
perhaps of any time exercised a more powerful, spirit-stir 
ring influence over the minds of his fellow-countrymen. 
The impulse which he communicated to the national 
thought extended far beyond the sphere of his personal in 
fluence ; it has awakened, it will still awaken, high 
emotion and manly resolution in thousands who never 
heard his voice. The ceaseless effort of his life was to rouse 
men to a sense of the divinity of their own nature ; to fix 
their thoughts upon a spiritual life as the only true and real 
life ; to teach them to look upon all else as mere show and 
unreality ; and thus to lead them to constant effort after the 
highest Ideal of purity, virtue, independence, and self-denial. 
To this ennobling enterprise he consecrated his being ; to it 
he devoted his gigantic powers of thought, his iron will, his 
resistless eloquence. But he taught it also in deeds more 
eloquent than words. In the strong reality of his life, in 
his intense love for all things beautiful and true, in his in 
corruptible integrity and heroic devotion to the right, we 
see a living manifestation of his principles. His life is the 
true counterpart of his philosophy ; it is that of a strong, 
free, incorruptible man. And with all the sternness of his 
morality, he is full of gentle and generous sentiments ; of 
deep, overflowing sympathies. No tone of love, no soft 
breathing of tenderness, fall unheeded on that high royal 


soul, but in its calm sublimity find a welcome and a home. 
Even his hatred is the offspring of a higher love. Truly in 
deed has he been described by one of our own country s 
brightest ornaments as a " colossal, adamantine spirit, stand 
ing erect and clear, like a Cato Major among degenerate 
men ; fit to have been the teacher of the Stoa, and to have 
discoursed of beauty and virtue in the groves of Academe." 
But the sublimity of his intellect casts no shade on the soft 
current of his affections, which flows, pure and unbroken, 
through the whole course of his life, to enrich, fertilize, and 
adorn it. In no other man of modern times do we find the 
stern grandeur of ancient virtue so blended with the kind 
lier humanities of our nature, which flourish best under a 
gentler civilization. We prize his philosophy deeply, it is 
to us an invaluable possession, for it seems the noblest ex 
position to which we have yet listened of human nature and 
divine truth, but with reverent thankfulness we acknow 
ledge a still higher debt, for he has left behind him the best 
gift which man can bequeath to man, a brave, heroic 
human life. 

In the first churchyard from the Oranienburg gate of Ber 
lin, stands a tall obelisk with this inscription : 





It marks the grave of FICHTE. The faithful partner of his 
life sleeps at his feet. 
















I NOW open the course of public lectures which I have an 
nounced on the roll under the title "De Moribus Erudito- 
rum." This inscription may be translated " Morality for 
the Scholar," " On the Vocation of the Scholar," " On the 
Duty of the Scholar," &c. ; but in what way soever the title 
may be translated and understood, the idea itself demands a 
deeper investigation. I proceed to this preliminary inquiry. 
Generally speaking, when we hear the word Morality the 
the idea is suggested of a formation of character and conduct 
according to rule and precept. But it is true only in a 
limited sense, and only as seen from a lower point of en 
lightenment, that man is formed by precept, or can form 
himself upon precept. On the contrary, from the highest 
point that of absolute truth, on which we here take our 
stand, whatever is to be manifested in the thought or deed 
of man, must first be inwardly present in his Nature, and 
indeed itself constitute his Nature, being, and life ; for that 
which lies in the essential Nature of man must necessarily re 
veal itself in his outward life, shine forth in all his thoughts, 
desires, and acts, and become his unvarying and unalterable 
character. How the freedom of man, and all the efforts by 
means of culture, instruction, religion, legislation, to form him 
to goodness, are to be reconciled with this truth, is the object 
of an entirely different inquiry, into which we do not now 
enter. We can here only declare in general, that the two 



principles may be thoroughly reconciled, and that a deeper 
study of philosophy will clearly show the possibility of their 

The fixed disposition and modes of action, or in a word, 
the character, of the true Scholar, when contemplated from 
the highest point of view, can, properly speaking, only be de 
scribed, not by any means enacted or imposed. On the con 
trary, this apparent and outwardly manifest character of the 
true Scholar is founded upon that which already exists with 
in him in his own Nature, independently of all manifesta 
tion and before all manifestation ; and it is necessarily 
produced and unchangeably determined by this inward 
Nature. Hence, if we are to describe his character, we/ 
must first unfold his Nature : only from the idea of the 
latter, can the former be surely and completely deduced. To 
make such a deduction from this pre-supposed Nature, is 
the proper object of these lectures. Their contents may 
therefore be briefly stated : they are a description of the 
Nature of the Scholar, and of its manifestations in the world 
of freedom. 

The following propositions will aid us in attaining some 
insight into the Nature of the Scholar : 

1. The whole material world, with all its adaptations and 
ends, and in particular the life of man in this world, are by 
no means, in themselves and in deed and truth, that which 
they seem to be to the uncultivated and natural sense of 
man ; but there is something higher, which lies concealed 
behind all natural appearance. This concealed foundation 
of all appearance may, in its greatest universality, be aptly 
named the Divine Idea ; and this expression, " Divine Idea," 
shall not in the meantime signify anything more than this 
higher ground of appearance, until we shall have more clear 
ly defined its meaning. 

2. A certain part of the meaning of this Divine Idea of 
the world is accessible to, and conceivable by, the cultivated 
mind ; and, by the free activity of man, under the guidance 
of this Idea, may be impressed upon the world of sense and 
represented in it. 


3. If there were among men some individuals who had 
attained, wholly or partially, to the possession of this last- 
mentioned or attainable portion of the Divine Idea of the 
world, whether with the view of maintaining and extend 
ing the knowledge of the Idea among men by communicat 
ing it to others, or of imaging it forth in the world of sense 
by direct and immediate action thereon, then were these 
individuals the seat of a higher and more spiritual life in the 
world, and of a progressive development thereof according 
to the Divine Idea. 

4. In every age, that kind of education and spiritual cul 
ture by means of which the age hopes to lead mankind to 
the knowledge of the ascertained part of the Divine Idea, is 
the Learned Culture of the age ; and every man who par 
takes in this culture is the Scholar of the age. 

From what has now been said, it clearly follows that the 
whole of the training and education which an age calls 
Learned Culture, is only the means towards a knowledge of 
the attainable portion of the Divine Idea, and is only 
valuable in so far as it actually is such a means, and truly 
fulfils its purpose. Whether in any given case this end has 
been attained or not, can never be determined by common 
observation, for it is quite blind to the Idea, and can do no 
more than recognise the merely empirical fact whether a 
man has enjoyed, or has not enjoyed, the advantage of what 
is called Learned Culture. Hence there are two very dif 
ferent notions of a Scholar : the one, according to appearance 
and mere intention ; and in this respect, every one must be 
considered a Scholar who has gone through a course of 
Learned Culture, or as it is commonly expressed, who has 
studied or who still studies : the other according to truth ; 
and in this respect, he only is to be looked upon as a Scholar 
who has, through the Learned Culture of his age, arrived 
at a knowledge of the Idea. Through the Learned Culture 
of his age, I say ; for if a man, without the use of this means, 
can arrive at a knowledge of the Idea by some other way 
(and I am far from denying that he may do so), yet such 


an one will be unable either to communicate his knowledge 
theoretically, or to realize it immediately in the world, ac 
cording to any well-defined rule, because he must want that 
knowledge of his age, and of the means of influencing it, 
which can be acquired only in schools of learning. Hence 
there may indeed be a higher life alive within him, but not 
such a life as can grasp the rest of the world and call forth 
its powers ; he may display all the special results of Learn 
ed Culture, but without this plastic power ; and hence we 
may have a most excellent Man indeed, but not a Scholar. 

As for us, we have here no thought of considering this 
matter by outward seeming, but only according to truth. 
Henceforward, throughout the whole course of these lectures, 
he only will be esteemed a Scholar who, through the Learn 
ed Culture of his age, has actually attained a knowledge of 
the Idea, or at least strives with life and strength to attain 
it. He who has received this culture without thereby 
attaining to the Idea, is in truth (as we are now to look 
upon the matter) nothing ; he is an equivocal mongrel 
between the possessor of the Idea and him who derives his 
strength and confidence from common reality ; in his vain 
struggles after the Idea, he has lost the power to lay hold of 
and cultivate reality, and now wavers between two worlds 
without properly belonging to either of them. 

The distinction which we have already noticed in the 
modes of the direct application of the Idea in general, is 
obviously also applicable in particular to him who comes to 
the possession of this Idea through Learned Culture ; that 
is, to the Scholar. Either, it is his special and peculiar ob 
ject to communicate to others the Ideas of which he has 
himself attained a living knowledge ; and then his proper 
business is the theory of Ideas, general or particular, he is a 
teacher of knowledge. But it is only as distinguished from, 
and contrasted with the second application of Ideas, that the 
"business of the scientific teacher is characterized as mere 
theory; in a wider sense it is as practical as that of the 
more directly active man. The object of his activity is the 
human mind and spirit ; and it is a most ennobling employ 


ment systematically to prepare these for, and elevate them 
to, the reception of Ideas. Or, it may be the peculiar busi 
ness of him who through Learned Culture has obtained 
possession of Ideas, to fashion the world (which, as regards 
his design, is a passive world) after these Ideas ; perhaps to 
model the Legislation, the legal and social relations of 
men to each other, or even that all-surrounding nature 
which constantly presses upon their higher being, after the 
Divine Idea of justice or of beauty, so far as that is possible 
in the age and under the conditions in which he is placed ; 
while he reserves to himself his own original conceptions, 
as well as the art with which he impresses them on the 
world. In this case he is a pragmatic Scholar. No one, I 
may remark in passing, ought to intermeddle in the direct 
guidance and ordering of human affairs, who is not a Scho 
lar in the true sense of the word ; that is, who has not by 
means of Learned Culture become a participator in the 
Divine Idea. With labourers and hodmen it is otherwise : 
their virtue consists in punctual obedience, in the careful 
avoidance of all independent thought, and in confiding the 
direction of their occupations to other men. 

From a different point of view arises another significant 
distinction in the idea of the Scholar : this, namely, either 
the Scholar has actually laid hold of the whole Divine Idea 
in so far as it is attainable by man, or of a particular part 
of it, which last indeed is not possible without having first 
a clear survey of the whole; either he has actually laid 
hold of it, and penetrated into its significance until it now 
stands lucid and distinct before him, so that it has become 
his own possession, to be recalled at any time in the same 
shape, an element in his personality ; and then he is a 
complete and Finished Scholar, a man who lias studied: or, 
he as yet only strives and struggles to attain a clear insight 
into the Idea generally, or into that particular portion or 
point of it from which he, for his part, will penetrate the 
whole : already, one by one, sparks of light arise on every 
side, and disclose a higher world before him ; but they do 
not yet unite into one indivisible whole, they vanish as 


they came without his bidding, and he cannot as yet bring 
them under the dominion of his will ; and then he is a 
Progressive, a self-forming Scholar a Student. That it 
be really the Idea which is either possessed or struggled 
after is common to both of these : if the striving be only 
after the outward form the mere letter of Learned Culture, 
then we have, if the round be finished the complete, if it 
be unfinished the progressive, bungler. The latter is al 
ways more tolerable than the former, for it may still be 
hoped that in pursuing his course he may perhaps at some 
future point be laid hold of by the Idea ; but of the for 
mer all hope is lost. 

This, gentlemen, is our conception of the Nature of the 
Scholar ; and these are all the possible modifications of that 
conception not in any respect changing, but rather wholly 
arising out of the original, the conception, namely, of fixed 
and definite being which alone furnishes a sufficient answer 
to the question, What is the Scholar ? 

But philosophical knowledge, such as we are now seek 
ing, is not satisfied with answering the question, What is ? 
philosophy asks also for the How, and, strictly speaking, asks 
for this only, as for that which is already implied in the 
What. All philosophical knowledge is, by its nature, not 
empiric, but genetic, not merely apprehending existing 
being, but producing and constructing this being from the 
very root of its life. Thus, with respect to the Scholar, the 
determinate form of whose being we have now described, 
there still remains the question, How does he become a 
Scholar ? and since his being and growth is an uninter 
rupted, living, constantly self-producing being, How does 
he maintain the life of a Scholar ? 

I answer shortly, by his inherent, characteristic, and all- 
engrossing love for the Idea. Consider it thus : Every 
form of existence holds and upholds itself; and in living 
existences this self-support, and the consciousness of it, is 
self-love. In individual human beings the Eternal Divine 
Idea takes up its abode, as their spiritual nature ; this in 
dwelling Divine Idea encircles itself in them with unspeak- 


able love ; and then we say, adapting our language to com 
mon appearance, this man loves the Idea, and lives in the 
Idea, when in truth it is the Idea itself which, in his place 
and in his person, lives and loves itself; and his person is 
but the sensible manifestation of this existence of the Idea, 
and has, in and for itself alone, neither significance nor life. 
This strictly framed definition or formula lays open the 
whole matter, and we may now proceed once more to adopt 
the language of appearance without fear of misapprehen 
sion. In the True Scholar the Idea has acquired a personal 
existence which has entirely superseded his own, and ab 
sorbed it in itself. He loves the Idea, not before all else, for 
he loves nothing else beside it, he loves it alone ; it alone 
is the source of all his joys, of all his pleasures ; it alone is 
the spring of all his thoughts, efforts, and deeds ; for it alone 
does he live, and without it life would be to him odious and 
unmeaning. In both in the Finished as well as in the 
Progressive Scholar docs the Idea reside, with this differ 
ence only, that in the former it has attained all the clear 
ness and firm consistency which was possible in that indi 
vidual and under existing circumstances, and having now 
a settled abode within him, seeks to expatiate abroad, and 
strives to flow forth in living words and deeds ; _ while in 
the latter it is still active only within himself, striving after 
the development and strengthening of such an existence as it 
may attain under the circumstances in which he is placed. 
To both alike would their life be valueless, could they not 
fashion either others or themselves after the Idea. 

This is the sole and unvarying life-principle of the Scho 
lar, of him to whom we give that name. All his deeds 
and efforts, under all possible conditions in which he can be 
supposed to exist, spring with absolute necessity from this 
principle. Hence, we have only to contemplate him in 
those relations which are requisite for our purpose, and we 
may calculate with certainty both his inward and outward 
life, and describe it beforehand. And in this way it is 
possible to deduce with scientific accuracy, from the essential 
Nature of the Scholar, its manifestations in the world of 


freedom or apparent chance. This is our present task, and 
that the rule for its solution. 

We shall turn first of all to the Students, that is to say, 
to those who are justly entitled to the name of Progressive 
Scholars in the sense of that word already defined ; and it is 
proper that we should first apply to them the principles 
which we have laid down. If they be not such as we have 
supposed them to be, then our words will be to them mere 
words, without sense, meaning or application. If they be 
such as we have supposed them to be, then they will in due 
time become mature and perfect Scholars ; for that effort of 
the Idea to unfold itself which is so much higher than all 
the pursuits of sense is also infinitely more mighty, and 
with silent power breaks a way for itself through every ob 
stacle. It will be well for the studious youth to know now 
what he shall one day become, to contemplate in his youth 
a picture of his riper age. I shall therefore, after perform 
ing my first duty, proceed also to construct from the same 
principles the character of the Finished Scholar. 

Clearness is gained by contrast ; and therefore, wherever 
I show how the Scholar will manifest himself, I shall also 
declare how, for the same reasons, he will not manifest him 

In both divisions of the subject, but particularly in the 
second, where I shall have to speak of the Finished Scholar, 
I shall guard myself carefully from making any satirical al 
lusion to the present state of the literary world, any censure 
of it, or generally any reference to it ; and I entreat my 
hearers once for all not to take any such suggestion. The 
philosopher peacefully constructs his theorem upon given 
principles, without deigning to turn his attention to the ac 
tual state of things, or needing the recollection of it to 
enable him to pursue his inquiry ; just as the geometer con 
structs his scheme without troubling himself whether his 
purely abstract figures can be copied with our instruments. 
And it may be permitted, especially to the unprejudiced 
and studious youth, to remain in ignorance of the degenera 
cies and corruptions of the society into which he must one 


day enter, until he shall have acquired power sufficient to 
stem the tide of its example. 

This, gentlemen, is the entire plan of the lectures which I 
now propose to deliver, with the principles on which they 
shall be founded. To-day, I shall only add one or two ob 
servations to what I have already said. 

In considerations like those of to-day, or those, necessarily 
similar in their nature, which are to follow, it is common for 
men to censure, first, their severity, very often with the 
good-natured supposition that the speaker was not aware 
that his strictness would be disagreeable to them, that 
they have only frankly to tell him this, and he will then re 
consider the matter, and soften down his principles. Thus 
we have said, that he who with his Learned Culture has not 
attained a knowledge of the Idea, or does not at least 
struggle to attain it, is properly speaking, nothing ; and 
farther on, we have said he is a bungler. This is in the man 
ner of those severe sayings by which philosophers give so 
much offence. Leaving the present case, to deal directly with 
the general principle, I have to remind you that a thinker 
of this sort, without having firmness enough to refuse all re 
spect to Truth, seeks to chaffer with her and cheapen some 
thing from her, in order by a favourable bargain to obtain 
some consideration for himself. But Truth, who is once for 
all what she is, and cannot change her nature in aught, pro 
ceeds on her way without turning aside ; and there remains 
nothing for her, with respect to those who do not seek her 
simply because she is true, but to leave them standing 
there, just as if they had never accosted her. 

Again, it is a common charge against discourses of this 
kind, that they cannot be understood. Thus I can suppose 
not you, gentlemen, but some Finished Scholar according 
to appearance, under whose eye, perhaps, these thoughts may 
come approaching them, and, puzzled and doubtful, at last 
thoughtfully exclaiming : The Idea the Divine Idea, 
that which lies at the bottom of all appearance, what may 
this mean? I would reply to such an inquirer, What then 
may this question mean ? Strictly speaking, it means in 



most cases, nothing more than the following : Under what 
other name, and by what other formula, do I already know 
this thing which thou expressest by a name so extraordi 
nary, and to me so unheard of ? and to that again, in most 
cases, the only fitting answer would be, Thou knowest not 
this thing at all, and during thy whole life hast understood 
nothing of it, neither under this nor under any other name ; 
and if thou art to come to any knowledge of it, thou must 
even now begin anew to learn it, and then most fitly under 
that name by which it is first offered to thee. 

In the following lectures the word Idea, which I have used 
to-day, will be in many respects better defined and ex 
plained, and, as I hope, ultimately brought to perfect clear 
ness ; but that is by no means the business of a single hour. 
We reserve this, as well as everything else to which we have, 
to direct your attention, for the succeeding lectures. 




THE following were the principles which we laid down in 
our last lecture as the grounds of our investigation into the 
Nature of the Scholar. 

The Universe is not, in deed and truth, that which it 
seems to be to the uncultivated and natural sense of man ; 
but it is something higher, which lies behind mere natural 
appearance. In its widest sense, this foundation of all ap 
pearance may be aptly named the Divine Idea of the world. 
A certain part of the meaning of this Divine Idea is acces 
sible to, and conceivable by, the cultivated mind. 

We said at the close of last lecture, that this as yet ob 
scure conception of a Divine Idea, as the ultimate and abso 
lute foundation of all appearance, should afterwards become 
quite clear and intelligible by means of its subsequent ap 

Nevertheless we find it desirable, in the first place, to de 
fine this conception more closely in the abstract, and to this 
purpose we shall devote the present lecture. To this end 
we lay down the following principles, which, so far as we are 
concerned, are the results of deep and methodical investiga 
tion and are perfectly demonstrable in themselves, but 
which we can here communicate to you only historically, cal 
culating with confidence on your own natural sense of truth 
to confirm our principles even without perfect insight into 
their fundamental basis ; and also on your observing that by 


principles thus laid down the most important questions are 
answered and the most searching doubts solved. 
We lay down, then, the following principles : 

1. Being, strictly and absolutely considered, is living and 
essentially active. There is no other Being than Life ; it 
cannot be dead, rigid, inert. What death, that constantly 
recurring phenomenon, really is, and how it is connected 
with the only true Being with Life, we shall see more 
clearly afterwards. 

2. The only Life which exists entirely in itself, from itself, 
and by itself, is the Life of God, or of the Absolute ; which 
two words mean one and the same thing ; so that when we 
say the Life of the Absolute, we use only a form of expres 
sion, since in truth the Absolute is Life, and Life is the Ab 

3. This Divine Life lies entirely hidden in itself; it has 
its residence within itself, and abides there completely 
realized in, and accessible only to, itself. It is all Being, 
and beside it there is no Being. It is therefore wholly with 
out change or variation. 

4. Now this Divine Life discloses itself, appears, becomes 
visible, manifests itself as such as the Divine Life : and 
this its Manifestation, presence, or outward existence, is the 
World. Strictly speaking, it manifests itself as it essenti 
ally and really is, and cannot manifest itself otherwise ; and 
hence there is no groundless and arbitrary medium inter 
posed between its true and essential nature and its outward 
Manifestation, in consequence of which it is only in part re 
vealed and in part remains concealed; but its Manifestation, 
i.e. the World, is fashioned and unchangeably determined by 
two conditions only ; namely, by the essential nature of the 
Divine Life itself, and by the unvarying and absolute laws 
of its revelation or Manifestation abstractly considered. 
God reveals himself as God can reveal himself : His whole, 
in itself essentially inconceivable, Being comes forth entire 
and undivided, in so far as it can come forth in any mere 


5. The Divine Life in itself is absolute self-comprehend 
ing- unity, without change or variableness, as we said above. 
In its Manifestation, for a reason which is quite conceivable 
although not here set forth, it becomes a self-developing 
existence, eternally unfolding itself, and ever advancing to 
wards higher realization in an endless stream of time. In 
the first place, it continues in this Manifestation, as we said, 
to be life. Life cannot be manifested in death, for these 
two are altogether opposed to each other; and hence, as 
Absolute Being alone is life, so the only true Manifestation 
of that Being is living existence, and death has neither an 
absolute, nor, in the highest sense of the word, has it even a 
relative existence. This living and visible Manifestation we 
call the human race. The human race is thus the only true 
finite existence. As Being Absolute Being constitutes 
the Divine Life, and is wholly exhausted therein, so does 
Existence in Time, or the Manifestation of that Divine Life, 
constitute the whole united life of mankind, and is tho 
roughly and entirely exhausted therein. Thus, in its Mani 
festation the Divine Life becomes a continually progressive 
existence, unfolding in perpetual growth according to the 
degree of inward activity and power which belongs to it. 
Hence, and the consequence is an important one, hence 
the Manifestation of Life in Time, unlike the Divine Life, 
is limited at every point of its existence, i. e. it is in part 
not living, not yet interpenetrated by life, but in so far 
dead. These limitations it shall gradually break through, 
lay aside, and transform into life, in its onward progress. 

In this view of the limitations which surround Existence 
in Time, we have, when it is thoroughly laid hold of, the 
conception of the objective and material world, or what we 
call Nature. This is not living and capable of infinite 
growth like Reason ; but dead, a rigid, self-inclosed exis 
tence. It is this which, arresting and hemming in the 
Time-Life, by this hindrance alone spreads over a longer or 
shorter period of time that which would otherwise burst 
forth at once, a perfect and complete life. Further, in the 
development of spiritual existence, Nature itself is gradually 


interpenetrated by life ; and it is thus both the obstacle to, 
and the sphere of, that activity and outward manifestation 
of power in which human life eternally unfolds itself. 

This, and absolutely nothing more than this, is Nature in 
the most extended meaning of the word ; and even man 
himself, in so far as his existence is limited in comparison 
with the original and Divine Life, is nothing more than this. 
Since the perpetual advancement of this second life, not 
original, but derived and human, and also its finitude and 
limitation in order that such advancement may be so much 
as possible, both proceed from the self-manifestation of the 
Absolute, so Nature also has its foundation in God, not 
indeed as something that is and ought to be for its own 
sake alone, but only as the means and condition of another 
being, of the Living Being in man, and as something 
which shall be gradually and unceasingly superseded and 
displaced by the perpetual advancement of this being. 
Hence we must not be blinded or led astray by a philo 
sophy assuming the name of natural* which pretends to ex 
cel all former philosophy by striving to elevate Nature into 
Absolute Being, and into the place of God. In all ages, the 
theoretical errors as well as the moral corruptions of hu 
manity have arisen from falsely bestowing the name of life 
on that which in itself possesses neither absolute nor even 
finite being, and seeking for life and its enjoyment in that 
which in itself is dead. Very far therefore from being a 
step towards truth, that philosophy is but a return to old 
and already most widely spread error. 

6. All truth contained in the principles which we have 
now laid down may be perceived by man, who himself is the 
Manifestation of the Original and Divine Life, in its general 
aspect, as we for example, have now perceived it, either 
through rational conviction, or only from being led to it by 
an obscure feeling or sense of truth, or from finding it prob 
able because it furnishes a complete solution of the most 
important problems. Man may perceive it; that is, the 

* Schelling s " Natur-Philosophie " is here referred to. 


Manifestation may fall back on its Original, and picture it 
forth in reflection with absolute certainty as to the fact ; 
but it can by no means analyze and comprehend it fully, for 
the Manifestation ever remains only a Manifestation, and 
can never go beyond itself and return to Absolute Being. 

7. We have said that man may perceive this in so far as 
regards the fact, but he cannot perceive the reason and 
origin of the fact. How and why from the Divine Life, this 
and no other Time-Life arises and constantly flows forth, 
can be understood by man only on condition of fully com 
prehending all the parts of this latter, and interpreting 
them all, one by the other, mutually and completely, so as to 
reduce them once more to a single idea, and that idea equi 
valent to the one Divine Life. But this forth-flowing Time- 
Life is infinite, and hence the comprehension of its parts 
can never be completed : besides, the comprehender is him 
self a portion of it, and at every conceivable point of time 
he himself stands chained in the finite and limited, which 
he can never entirely throw off without ceasing to be Mani 
festation, without being himself transformed into the 
Divine Life. 

8. From this it seems to follow, that the Time-Life can be 
comprehended by thought only as a whole, and according to 
its general nature, /. e. as we have endeavoured to compre 
hend it above, and then as a Manifestation of the one 
Original and Divine Life ; but that its details must be im 
mediately felt and experienced in their individual import, 
and can only by and through this Experience be imaged 
forth in thought and consciousness. And such is actually 
the case in a certain respect and with a certain portion of 
human life. Throughout all time, and in every individual 
part of it, there remains in human life something which 
does not entirely reveal itself in Idea, and which therefore 
cannot be anticipated or superseded by any Idea, but which 
must be directly felt if it is ever to attain a place in con 
sciousness ; and this is called the domain of pure empiri 
cism or Experience. The above-mentioned philosophy errs 


in this, that it pretends to have resolved human life en 
tirely into Idea, and thus wholly superseded Experience ; 
instead of which, it defeats its own purpose, and in attempt 
ing to explain life completely, loses sight of it altogether. 

9. I said that such was the case with the Time-Life in a 
certain respect and with a certain portion of it. For in 
another respect and with another portion of it, the case is 
quite otherwise, and that on the following ground, which I 
shall here only indicate in popular phraseology, but which is 
well worthy of deeper investigation. 

The Time-Life does not enter into Time in individual 
parts only, but also in entire homogeneous masses ; and it is 
these masses, again, which divide themselves into the indivi 
dual parts of actual life. There is not only Time, but there 
are times, and succession of times, epoch after epoch, and 
age succeeding age. Thus, for example, to the deeper 
thought of man, the entire Earthly Life of the human race, 
as it now exists, is such a homogeneous mass, projected at 
once into Time, and ever present there, whole and undivid 
ed, only as regards sensuous appearance spread out into 
world-history. When these homogeneous masses have ap 
peared in Time, the general laws and rules by which they 
are governed may be comprehended, and, in their relation 
to the whole course of these masses, anticipated and under 
stood ; while the obstacles over which these masses must 
take their way that is, the hindrances and interruptions 
of life are only accessible to immediate Experience. 

10. These cognizable laws of homogeneous masses of Life, 
which may be perceived and understood prior to their ac 
tual consequences, must necessarily appear as laws of Life 
itself, as it ought to be, and as it should strive to become, 
founded on the self-supporting and independent principle of 
this Time-Life, which must here appear as Freedom : 
hence, as laws for the free action and conduct of the living be 
ing. If we go back to the source of this legislation, we shall 
find that it lies in the Divine Life itself, which could not 
reveal itself in Time otherwise than under this form of a 


law ; and, indeed, as is implied in the preceding ideas, no 
wise as a law ruling with blind power and extorting obedi 
ence by force, such as we assume in passive and inanimate 
nature, but as the law of a Life which is conscious of its 
own independence, and cannot be deprived of it, without at 
the same time tearing up the very root of its being ; hence, 
as we said above, as a Divine Law of Freedom, or Moral Law. 
Further, as we have already seen, this life according to 
the law of the original Divine Life, is the only True Life and 
ground of all other ; all things else besides this Life are 
but hindrances and obstructions thereto, possessing exist 
ence only that by them the True Life may be unfolded and 
manifested in its strength : hence, all things else have no 
existence for their own sakes, but only as means for the de 
velopment of the True Life. Reason can comprehend the 
connexion between means and end only by supposing a 
mind in which the end has been determined. A thoroughly 
moral Human Life has its source in God : by analogy with 
our own reason, we conceive of God as proposing to himself 
the moral Life of man as the sole purpose for which He has 
manifested himself and called into existence every other 
thing ; not that it is absolutely thus as we conceive of it, 
and that God really thinks like man, and that Being itself is 
in him distinguished from the conception of Being, but we 
think thus only because we are unable otherwise to com 
prehend the relation between the Divine and the Human 
Life. And in this absolutely necessary mode of thought, 
Human Life as it ought to be becomes the idea and funda 
mental conception of God in the creation of a world, the 
purpose and the plan which God intended to fulfil by the 
creation of the world. 

And thus it is sufficiently explained for our present pur 
pose how the Divine Idea lies at the foundation of the vis 
ible world, and how, and how far, this Idea, hidden from the 
common eye, may become conceivable and attainable by 
cultivated thought, and necessarily appear to it as that 
which man by his free activity ought to manifest in the 


Let us not forthwith restrict our conception of this ought, 
this free act of man, to the familiar categorical impera 
tive, and to the narrow and paltry applications of it which 
are given in our common systems of Morality, such ap 
plications as must necessarily be made by such a science. 
Almost invariably, and that for causes well founded in the 
laws of philosophical abstraction through which systems of 
Morality are produced, it has been usual to dwell at great 
est length on the mere form of Morality, to inculcate sim 
ply and solely obedience to the commandment ; and even 
when our moralists have proceeded to its substance, still 
their chief aim seems to have been rather to induce men to 
cease from doing evil, than to persuade them to do good. 
Indeed, in any system of human duties, it is necessary to 
maintain such a generality of expression that the rules may 
be equally applicable to all men, and for this reason to 
point out more clearly what man ought not to do, than 
what he ought to do. This, too, is the Divine Idea, but 
only in its remote and borrowed shape not in its fresh ori 
ginality. The original Divine Idea of any particular point 
of time remains for the most part unexpressed, until the 
God-inspired man appears and declares it. What the 
Divine Man does, that is divine. In general, the original 
and pure Divine Idea that which he who is immediately 
inspired of God should do and actually does is (with refer 
ence to the visible world) creative, producing the new, the 
unheard-of, the original. The impulse of mere natural exis 
tence leads us to abide in the old, and even when the 
Divine Idea is associated with it, it aims at the maintenance 
of whatever has hitherto seemed good, or at most to petty 
improvements upon it ; but where the Divine Idea attains 
an existence pure from the admixture of natural impulse, 
there it builds new worlds upon the ruins of the old. All 
things new, great, and beautiful, which have appeared in the 
world since its beginning, and those which shall appear un 
til its end, have appeared and shall appear through the 
Divine Idea, partially expressed in the chosen ones of our 


And thus, as the Life of Man is the only immediate im 
plement and organ of the Divine Idea in the visible world, 
so is it also the first and immediate object of its activity. 
The progressive Culture of the human race is the object of 
the Divine Idea, and of those in whom that Idea dwells. 
This last view makes it possible for us to separate the 
Divine Idea into its various modes of action, or to conceive 
of the one indivisible Idea as several. 

First, In the actual world, the Life of Man, which is in 
truth essentially one and indivisble, is divided into the life 
of many proximate individuals, each of whom possesses free 
dom and independence. This division of the one Living 
Existence is an arrangement of nature, and hence is a hin 
drance or obstruction to the True Life, and exists only in 
order that through it, and in conflict with it, that unity of 
Life which is demanded by the- Divine Idea may freely 
fashion itself. Human Life has been divided by nature into 
many parts, in order that it may form itself to unity, and 
that all the separate individuals who compose it may 
through Life itself blend themselves together into oneness 
of mind. In the original state of nature, the various wills 
of these individuals, and the different powers which they 
call into play, mutually oppose and hinder each other. It 
is not so in the Divine Idea, and it shall not continue so in 
the visible world. The first interposing power (not found 
ed in nature, but subsequently introduced into the world 
by a new creation) on which this strife of individual powers 
must break and expend itself until it shall entirely disap 
pear in a general morality, is the founding of States, and of 
just relations between them; in short, all those institutions 
by which individual powers, single or united, have each 
their proper sphere assigned to them, to Avhich they are 
confined, but in which at the same time they are secured 
against all foreign aggression. This institution lay in the 
Divine Idea ; it was introduced into the world by inspired 
men in their efforts for the realization of the Divine Idea ; 
by these efforts it will be maintained in the world, and con 
stantly improved until it attain perfection. 


Secondly, This Race of Man, thus raising itself through 
internal strife to internal unity, is surrounded by an inert 
and passive Nature, by which its free life is constantly hin 
dered, threatened, and confined. So it must be, in order that 
this Life may attain such unity by its~own free effort; and 
thus, according to the Divine Idea, must this strength and 
independence of the sensual life, progressively and gradual 
ly unfold itself. To that end it is necessary that the powers 
of Nature be subjected to human purpose, and (in order that 
this subjection may be possible) that man should be ac 
quainted with the laws by which these powers act, and be 
able to calculate beforehand the course of their operations. 
Moreaver, Nature is not designed merely to be useful and 
profitable to man, but also to become his fitting companion, 
bearing the impress of his higher dignity, and reflecting it 
in radiant characters on every side. This dominion over 
Nature lies in the Divine Idea, and is ceaselessly extended 
by the power of that Idea through the agency of all in 
whom it dwells. 

Lastly, Man is not placed in the world of sense alone, 
but the essential root of his being is, as we have seen, in 
God. Hurried along by sense and its impulses, the know 
ledge of this Life in God may readily be concealed from 
him, and then, however noble may be his nature, he lives in 
strife and disunion with himself, in discord and unhappiness, 
without true dignity and enjoyment of Life. Only when the 
consciousness of the true source of his existence first rises 
upon him, and he joyfully resigns himself to it till his be 
ing is steeped in the thought, do peace, joy, and blessedness 
flow in upon his soul. And it lies in the Divine Idea that 
all men must come to this gladdening consciousness, that 
the outward and aimless Finite Life may thus be pervaded 
by the Infinite and so enjoyed; and to this end all who have 
been filled with the Divine Idea have laboured and shall 
still labour, that this consciousness in its purest possible 
form may be spread throughout the race of man. 

The modes of activity which we have indicated, LEGIS 
LATION, SCIENCE (knowledge of nature power over na- 


ture) RELIGION, are those in which the Divine Idea most 
commonly reveals and manifests itself through man in the 
world of sense. It is obvious that each of these chief 
branches has also its separate parts, in each of which, indi 
vidually, the Idea may be revealed. Add to these the 
KNOWLEDGE of the Divine Idea, knowledge that there is 
such a Divine Idea, as well as knowledge of its import, 
either in whole or in some of its parts, and further, the 
ART or SKILL actually to make manifest in the world the 
Idea which is thus clearly seen and understood, both 
of which, however, Knowledge and Art can be acquired 
only through the immediate impulse of the Divine Idea, 
and then we have the five great modes in which the 
Idea reveals itself in man. 

That mode of culture by which, in the view of any age, a 
man may attain to the possession of this Idea or these 
Ideas, we have named the Learned Culture of that age ; and 
those who, by this culture, do actually attain the desired 
possession, we have named the Scholars of the age; and 
from what we have said to-day you will be able more easily 
to recognise the truth of our position, to refer back to it the 
different branches of knowledge recognised among men, or 
to deduce them from it ; and thus test our principle by its 




IT is the Divine Idea itself which, by it own inherent power, 
creates for itself an independent and personal life in man, 
constantly maintains itself in this life, and by means of it 
moulds the outward world in its own image. The natural 
man cannot, by his own strength, raise himself to the super 
natural ; he must be raised thereto by the power of the 
supernatural. This self-forming and self-supporting life of 
the Idea in man manifests itself as Love ; strictly speaking, 
as Love of the Idea for itself; but, in the language of com 
mon appearance, as Love of man for the Idea. This was 
set forth in our first lecture. 

So it is with Love in general ; and it is not otherwise, 
in particular, with the love of the knowledge of the Idea, 
which knowledge the Scholar is called upon to acquire. 
The love of the Idea absolutely for itself, and particularly 
for its essential light, shows itself in those men whom it has 
inspired, and of whose being it has fully possessed itself, as 
knowledge of the Idea; in the Finished Scholar, with a well- 
defined and perfect clearness, in the Progressive Scholar, 
as a striving towards such a degree of clearness as it can at 
tain under the circumstances in which he is placed. Fol 
lowing out the plan laid down in the opening lecture, we 
shall speak, in the first place, of the Progressive Scholar. 

The Idea strives, in the first place, to assume a definite 
form within him, and to establish for itself a fixed place 


amid the tide of manifold images which flows in ceaseless 
change over his soul. In this effort he is seized with a pre 
sentiment of a truth still unknown to him, of which he has 
as yet no clear conception ; he feels that every new acqui 
sition which he makes still falls short of the full and per 
fect truth, without being able to state distinctly in what it 
is deficient, or how the fullness of knoAvledge which is to 
take its place can be attained or brought about. This ef 
fort of the Idea within him becomes henceforward his essen 
tial life, the highest and deepest impulse of his being, 
superseding his hitherto sensuous and egoistical impulse, 
which was directed only towards the maintenance of his 
personal existence and physical well-being, subjecting this 
latter to itself, and thereby for ever extinguishing it as the 
one and fundamental impulse of his nature. Actual person 
al want does still, as hitherto, demand its satisfaction ; but 
that satisfaction does not continue, as it has hitherto con 
tinued, even when its immediate demands have been sup 
plied, to be the engrossing thought, the ever-present object 
of contemplation, the motive to all conduct and action of 
the thinking being. As the sensuous nature has hitherto 
asserted its rights, so does emancipated thought, armed 
with new power, in its own strength and without outward 
compulsion or ulterior design, return from the strange land 
into which it has been led captive, to its own proper home, 
and betake itself to the path which leads towards that 
much wished-for Unknown, whose light streams upon it from 
afar. Towards that unknown it is unceasingly attracted ; 
in meditating upon it, in striving after it, it employs its 
best spiritual power. 

This impulse towards an obscure, imperfectly -discerned 
spiritual object, is commonly named Genius ; and it is so 
named on good grounds. It is a supernatural instinct in 
man, attracting him to a supernatural object; thus indica 
ting his relationship to the spiritual world and his original 
home in that world. Whether we suppose that this im 
pulse, which, absolutely considered, should prompt to the 
pursuit of the Divine Idea in its primitive unity and indivi- 


sibility, does originally, and at the first appearance of any 
individual in the world of sense, so shape itself that this in 
dividual can lay hold of the Idea only at some one particu 
lar point of contact, and only from that point penetrate gra 
dually to the other parts of the spiritual universe; or 
whether we hold that this peculiar point of contact for the 
individual is determined during the first development of the 
individual power on the manifold materials which surround 
it, and always occurs in that material which chance presents 
at the precise moment when the power is sufficiently deve 
loped ; which of these opinions soever we adopt, still, so far 
as its outward manifestation is concerned, the impulse 
which shows itself in man and urges him onward, will al 
ways exhibit itself as an impulse towards some particular 
side of the one indivisible Idea ; or, as we may express it, 
after the investigations of our last lecture, without fear of 
being misunderstood, as an impulse towards one particu 
lar idea in the sphere of all possible ideas ; or if we give to 
this impulse the name of Genius, then Genius will always 
appear as a specific Genius, for philosophy, poetry, natural 
science, legislation, or the like, never clothed with an abso 
lute character, as Genius in the abstract. According to the 
first opinion, this specific Genius possesses its distinguishing 
character as an innate peculiarity ; according to the second, 
it is originally a universal Genius, which is determined to a 
particular province only by the accident of culture. The 
decision of this controversy lies beyond the limits of our 
present task. 

In whatever way it may be decided, two things are evi 
dent : in general, the necessity of previous spiritual culture, 
and of preliminary instruction in, and acquaintance with, 
ideas and knowledge, so that Genius, if present, may dis 
close itself; and, in particular the necessity of bringing 
within the reach of every man, ideas of many different 
kinds, so that either the inborn specific Genius may come in 
to contact with its appropriate material, or the originally 
universal Genius may freely chose one particular object from 
among the many. Even in this preliminary spiritual cul- 


ture, future Genius reveals itself; for its earliest impulse is 
directed towards Knowledge only as Knowledge, merely 
for the sake of knowing; and thus manifests itself solely as 
a desire to know. 

But even when this impulse has visibly manifested itself 
either in the active investigation of some attractive problem 
or in happy anticipations of its solution, still persevering in 
dustry, uninterrupted labour, are imperatively requisite. 
The question has often been raised, whether Genius or In 
dustry be more essential in science. I answer, both must be 
united : the one is but little worth without the other. 
Genius is nothing more than the effort of the Idea to as 
sume a definite form. The Idea, however, has in itself 
neither body nor substance, but only shapes for itself an 
embodiment out of the scientific materials which environ it 
in Time, of which Industry is the sole purveyor. On the 
other hand, Industry can do nothing more than provide the 
elements of this embodiment ; to unite them organically, 
and to breath into them a living spirit, is not the work of 
Industry, but belongs only to the Idea revealing itself as 
Genius. To impress its image on the surrounding world is 
the object for which the living Idea dwelling in the True 
Scholar seeks for itself an embodiment. It is to become the 
highest life-principle, the innermost soul of the world a- 
round it ; it must therefore assume the same forms which 
are borne by the surrounding world, establish itself in these 
forms as its own proper dwelling-place, and with a free 
authority regulate the movements of all their individual 
parts according to the natural purposes of each, even as a 
healthy man can set in motion his own limbs. As for him 
with whom the indwelling Genius proceeds but half-way 
in its embodiment, and stops there, whether it be because 
the paths of Learned Culture are inaccessible to him, or be 
cause, from idleness or presumptuous self-conceit, he disdains 
to avail himself of them, between him and his age, and 
consequently between him and every possible age and the 
whole human race in every point of its progress, an impass 
able gulf is fixed, and the means of mutual influence are cut 



off. Whatever may now dwell within him, or, more strict 
ly speaking, whatever he might have acquired in the course 
of his progressive culture, he is unable to explain clearly 
either to himself or others, or to make it the deliberate rule 
of his actions and thus realize it in the world. He wants 
the two necessary elements of the true life of the Idea, 
clearness and freedom. Clearness ; his fundamental prin 
ciple is not thoroughly transparent to his own mind, he 
cannot follow it securely throughout all its modifications, 
from its innermost source where it is poured down imme 
diately from the Divinity upon his soul, to all those points 
at which it has to manifest and embody itself in the visible 
world, and through the different forms which, under different 
conditions, it must assume. Freedom ; which springs from 
clearness, and can never exist without it; for he cannot 
perceive at a glance, and in each phase of reality which pre 
sents itself, the form which the Idea must there assume, and 
the proper means to the attainment of that object; nor has 
he those means at his free disposal. Pie is commonly called 
a visionary, and he is rightly so called. On the contrary, he 
in whom the Idea perfectly reveals itself, looks out upon 
and thoroughly penetrates all reality by the light of the 
Idea. Through the Idea itself he understands all its related 
objects, how they have become what they are, what in 
them is complete, what is still awanting, and how the want 
must be supplied ; and he has, besides, the means of supply 
ing that want completely in his power. The embodiment of 
the Idea is then for the first time completed in him, and he 
is a matured Scholar ; the point where the Scholar passes 
into the free Artist is the point of perfection for the Scho 
lar. Hence it is evident that even when Genius has dis 
closed itself, and visibly becomes a self-forming life of the 
Idea, untiring Industry is necessary to its perfect growth. 
To show that at the point where the Scholar reaches per 
fection the creative existence of the Artist begins; that this, 
too, requires Industry, that it is infinite ; lies not within 
our present inquiry ; we only allude to it in passing. 

But what did I sav ? that even after the manifestation 


of Genius, Industry is requisite ? as if I would call forth In 
dustry by my prescription, my advice, my demonstration of 
its necessity, and thus expected to rouse to exertion those in 
whom it is wanting ! Eathcr let us say, that where Genius 
is really present, Industry spontaneously appears, grows with 
a steady growth, and ceaselessly impels the advancing Scho 
lar towards perfection; where, on the contrary, Industry 
is not to be found, it is not Genius nor the impulse of the 
Idea which has shown itself, but, in place of it, only some 
mean and unworthy motive. 

The Idea is not the ornament of the individual (for, 
strictly speaking, there is no such thing as individuality in 
the Idea), but it seeks to flow forth in the whole human 
race, to animate it with new life, and to mould it after its 
own image. This is the distinctive character of the Idea ; 
and whatever is without this character is not the Idea. 
Wherever, therefore, it attains an existence, it irresistibly 
strives after this universal activity, not through, the life of 
the individual, but through its own essential life. It thus 
impels every one in whom it lias an abode, even against the 
will and wish of his sensuous, personal nature, and as 
though he were a passive instrument, impels him forward 
to this universal activity, to the skill which is demanded in 
its exercise, and to the Industry which is necessary for the 
acquisition of that skill. Without need of outward incen 
tive, it never ceases from spontaneous activity and self-de 
velopment until it lias attained such a living and efficient 
form as is possible for it under the conditions by which it is 
surrounded. Wherever a man, after having availed himself 
of the existing and accessible means for the acquirement of 
Learned Culture (for the second case, where those means 
do not exist, or are inaccessible, docs not belong to our pre 
sent subject) wherever, I say, in the first case, a man re 
mains inactive, satisfied with the persuasion that he is in 
possession of something resembling the Idea or Genius, 
then in him there is neither Idea or Genius, but only a vain 
ostentatious disposition, which assumes a singular and fan 
tastic costume in order to attract notice. Such a disposition 


shows itself at once in self-gratulatory contemplation of its 
own parts and endowments, dwelling on these in compla 
cent indolence, commonly accompanied by contemptuous dis 
paragement of the personal qualities and gifts of others ; 
while, on the contrary, he who is constantly urged on by 
the Idea has no time left to think of his own personality ; 
lost with all his powers in the object he has in view, he 
never weighs his own capacities of grasping it against those 
of other men. Genius, where it is present, sees its object only 
never sees itself; as the sound eye fixes itself upon some 
thing beyond it, but never looks round upon its own bright 
ness. In such an one the Idea does certainly not abide. 
What is it, then, that animates him, that moves him to 
those eager and restless efforts which we behold ? It is mere 
pride and self-conceit, and the desperate purpose, despite of 
natural disqualification, to assume a character which does 
not belong to him ; these animate, impel, and spur him on, 
and stand to him in the room of Genius. And what is it 
which he produces, which appears to the common eye (itself 
neither clear nor pure, and in particular incapable of appre 
ciating the sole criteria of all true Ideals clearness, free 
dom, depth, artistic form) as if it were the Idea ? what is 
it ? Either something which he has himself imagined or 
which has occurred to him by accident, which, indeed, he 
does not understand, but which he hopes, nevertheless, may 
appear new, striking, paradoxical, and therefore blaze forth 
far and wide ; with this he commits himself to the chance 
of fortune, trusting that in the sequel he himself or some 
one else may discover a meaning therein. Or else he has 
borrowed it from others, cunningly distorting, disarrang 
ing, and unsettling it, so that its original form cannot easily 
be recognised ; and by way of precaution depreciating the 
source whence it came, as utterly barren and unprofitable, 
lest the unprejudiced observer might be led to inquire 
whether he has not possibly obtained from thence that 
which he calls his own. 

In one word, self-contemplation, self-admiration, and 
self-flattery, although the last may remain unexpressed, and 


even carefully shrouded from the eye of every beholder, 
these, and the indolence and disdain of the treasures al 
ready gathered together in the storehouses of learning 
which spring from these, are sure signs of the absence of 
true Genius ; whilst forgetfulness of self in the object pur 
sued, entire devotion to that object, and inability to entertain 
any thought of self in its presence, are the inseparable accom 
paniments of true Genius. It follows that true Genius in 
every stage of its growth, but particularly during its early 
development, is marked by amiable modesty and retiring 
bashfulness. Genius knows least of all about itself; it is 
there, and works and rules with silent power, long before it 
comes to consciousness of its own nature. Whoever is con 
stantly looking back upon himself to see how it stands 
with him, of what powers he can boast, and who is himself 
the first discoverer of these, in him truly there is nothing- 

Should there then be here among you any opening 
Genius, far be it from me to wound its native modesty and 
diffidence by any general invitation to you to examine 
yourselves, and see whether or not you are in possession of 
the Idea, I would much rather earnestly dissuade you 
from such self-examination. And that this advice may not 
seem to you the suggestion of mere pedantic school-wisdom, 
and perhaps of extravagant caution, but may approve itself 
to your minds as arising from absolute necessity, I would 
add that this question can neither be answered by your 
selves, nor can you obtain any sure answer to it from any 
one else ; that therefore truth is not elicited by such a pre 
meditated self-examination, but, on the contrary, the youth 
is taught a self-contemplation and conceited brooding over 
his own nature, through which the man becomes at length 
an intellectual and moral ruin. There are many signs by 
which we may know that the Genius which possibly lies con 
cealed in a Student has not yet declared itself, and we 
shall afterwards find occasion in the sequel to point out the 
most remarkable of these; but there is only one decisive cri 
terion by which we may determine whether Genius has exis- 


ted or has never existed in him ; and that one decisive cri 
terion can be applied only after the result has become ap 
parent. Whoever has really become a perfect Scholar and 
Artist, in the sense in which we have used these words, 
grasping the world in his clear, penetrating Idea, and able 
to impress that Idea upon the world at every point lie 
has had Genius, he has been inspired by the Idea ; and this 
may now confidently be said of him, He who, Both-with 
standing the most diligent study, has come to years of ma 
turity without having raised himself to the Idea lie has 
been without Genius, without communion with the Idea; 
and this may henceforth be said of him. But of him who 
is still upon the way, neither of these judgments can be 

This disposition of things, which is as wise as it is neces 
sary, leaves but one course open to the youthful student 
who cannot know with certainty whether or not Genius 
dwells within him ; this, namely, that ho continue to act as 
though there were latent within him that which must at 
last come to light ; that he subject himself to all conditions, 
and place himself in all circumstances in which, if present, 
it may come to light ; that, with untiring Industry and true 
devotion of his whole mind, he avail himself of all the 
means which Learned Culture offers to him. In the worst 
case, if at the termination of his studies he find that out 
of the mass of learning which he has accumulated not one 
spark of the Idea has beamed upon him, there yet remains 
for him this consciousness at least, which is more indispen 
sable to man than even Genius itself, and without which the 
possesor of the greatest Genius is far less worthy than he, 
the consciousness that if he has not risen higher, no blame 
can attach to him, that the point at which he has stopped 
short is the place which God has assigned to him, whose law 
he will joyfully obey. No one need pride himself upon 
Genius, for it is the free gift of God ; but of honest Industry 
and true devotion to his destiny any man may well be 
proud ; indeed this thorough Integrity of Purpose is itself 
the Divine Idea in its most common form, and no really 
honest mind is without communion with God. 


Farther : the knowledge which he has acquired by 
means of this sincere effort after something higher, will ren 
der him always a suitable instrument in the hands of the 
more perfect Scholar, of him who has attained possession 
of the Idea. To him he will unhesitatingly submit without 
grudge or jealousy, without any unsatisfied struggle after 
an elevation for which he was not formed ; his guidance he 
will follow with a true loyalty which shall have become to 
him a second nature, and thus he will obtain a sure con 
sciousness of having fulfilled his vocation, as the last and 
highest destiny to which, in any sphere of life, man can at 




HE who is to become a True Scholar, so that in him the 
Divine Idea of the world may attain to such a measure of 
clearness and influence over the surrounding world as is 
possible in his circumstances, must be laid hold of by the 
Idea itself through its own inherent power, and by it be 
urged forward unceasingly towards the wished-for end. 

In our portraiture of the Nature of the True Scholar, we 
are now engaged with the Progressive Scholar, or the Stu 

If the Student is really inspired by the Idea, or, what is 
the same thing, if he possesses Genius and true talent, he is 
already far above all our counsels ; Genius will fulfil its vo 
cation in him without our aid, and even without his own 
concurrence : of this we have spoken sufficiently in our 
last lecture. 

But, as we have likewise seen in the same lecture, the 
Progressive Scholar can never determine for himself whe 
ther or not he possesses Genius in our sense of the term, nor 
can any one else determine this for him : hence there is 
nothing left for him but with sincere and perfect Integrity 
so to act as if there lay within him Genius which must ul 
timately come to light. True Genius, when present, mani 
fests itself precisely in the same way as does this Integrity 
in Study ; in appearance, both assume the same form, and 
cannot be distinguished the one from the other. 

Turning away from the tests of Genius which, in the Pro 
gressive Scholar at least, are inscrutable, we have now only 


to exhaust the indications of Integrity in Study, and we 
shall then have completed the portraiture of the true fol 
lower of learning. The honest Scholar is to us the only 
True Scholar: the two ideas flow into each other. 

Integrity in the abstract, as we have also remarked be 
fore, is itself a Divine Idea; it is the Divine Idea in its most 
general form, embracing all men. Hence, like the Idea it 
self it acts by its own inherent power ; it forms itself, as 
we said before of Genius, without aid from personal feeling, 
nay, even annihilating self-love as far as possible, into 
an independent life in man, irresistibly urging him forward 
and pervading all his thoughts and actions. His actions, 1 
say; for the idea of Integrity is an immediately practical 
idea, determining the outward, visible, free doings of man ; 
whereas the influence of Genius is, in the first place, in 
ternal, affecting spiritual insight. He who truly possesses 
Genius must be successful in his studies : to him light and 


knowledge will spring up on all sides from the objects of his 
contemplation. He who possesses Integrity in Study, of him 
this success cannot be so surely predicted ; but should it not 
follow, he will at least be blameless, for he will neglect no 
thing within his power which may enable him to attain it ; 
and even if he be not at last a sharer in the triumph, he 
shall at all events have deserved to be so. 

Integrity, as a living and governing principle, rises- above 
the person of him who is animated by it, and regards this 
person as standing under a definite law, as existing only 
for a certain purpose, and as a means to a higher end. Man 
shall be and do something ; his temporal life shall leave be 
hind it in the spiritual world an imperishable and eternal 
result, a particular result arising from the life of each in 
dividual, belonging to him alone and demanded of him 
alone. It is thus that the true-minded man looks upon all 
personal Life in Time, and particularly on that life which 
lies nearest to him, namely, his own. He in whom this 
Integrity has become a living "idea cannot conceive of 
human life in any other way than this; from this prin 
ciple he sets forth, to it he constantly returns, and by it he 



regulates all his other modes of thought. Only in so far as 
he obeys this law and fulfils this purpose, which he recog 
nises as his being s end and aim, is he satisfied with him 
self : everything in him which is not directed to this high 
end, which is not evidently a means to its attainment, he 
despises, hates, desires to have swept away. He looks upon 
his individual person as a thought of the Deity ; and thus 
his vocation the design of his being is to him as a pur 
pose of God himself. This, and nothing else, is the idea of 
Integrity, whether he who is ruled by it calls it by this 
name or by another. 

Success cannot indeed be certainly predicted of mere In 
tegrity as such, either in study or in any other purpose 
which it may propose to itself; but in all its pursuits it will 
surely display the independent power of the Idea pressing 
steadily forward to its mark ; and of the true-minded man 
it may confidently be said, that in Integrity itself, his de 
fence and support, he will find a noble reward. In advanc 
ing on the path of rectitude, it will become continually less 
needful for him to admonish, to arouse himself to the strug 
gle against recurring evil desires ; for the true feeling, the 
legitimate mode of thought, will spontaneously reveal itself to 
him, and become his ruling principle, his second nature. 
Whatever thou doest, do it witli Integrity : if thou studiest, 
let it guide thy studies ; and then, as to whether thou shalt 
prosper in what thou doest, leave that to God ; thou hast 
most surely left it to Him, when thou goest to work with 
true and honest purpose : with the attainment of that In 
tegrity thou shalt also attain unbroken peace, inward cheer 
fulness, and an unstained conscience ; and in so far thou 
shalt assuredly prosper. 

We have said that the honest man in general looks upon 
his free personal life as unalterably determined by the eter 
nal thought of God ; the honest student in particular looks 
upon himself as designed by the thought of God to this end, 
that the Divine Idea of the constitution of this universe 
may enter his soul, shine in him with steady lustre, and 
through him maintain a definite influence on the surround- 


ing world. Thus does ho conceive of his vocation ; for in 
this lies the essential Nature of the Scholar : so surely as 
he has entered upon his studies with Integrity, i.e. with the 
persuasion that God has given a purpose to his life, and that 
he must direct all his free actions towards the fulfilment of 
that purpose, so surely has he made the supposition that 
it is the Divine Will that he should become a Scholar. It 
matters not whether we have chosen this condition for our 
selves with freedom and foresight, or others have chosen it for 
us, placed us in the way of preparation for it, and closed every 
other condition of life against us. How could any one, at 
the early age at which this choice of a condition usually 
occurs, and in most cases must occur, have attained the ma 
ture wisdom by which to decide for himself whether or not 
he is possessed of the as yet untried and undeveloped capa 
city for knowledge ? When we come -to exercise our own 
understanding, the choice of a condition is already made, 
it has been made without our aid, because we were in 
capable at the time of rendering any aid in the matter ; 
and now we cannot turn back, a necessity precisely similar 
to the unalterable conditions under which our freedom is 
placed by the Divine Will. If an error should occur in the- 
choice thus made for us by others, the fault is not ours; we 
could not decide whether or not an error had been commit 
ted, and could not venture to presuppose one ; if it has oc 
curred, then it is our business, so far as in us lies, to correct 
it. In any case, it is the Divine Will that every one, in the 
station where he has been placed by necessity, should do all 
things which properly belong to that station. We have met 
together to study ; hence it is assuredly the Divine Will 
that we consider ourselves as Students, and apply to our 
selves ail that is comprehended in that idea. 

This thought, with its indestructible certainty, enters and 
fills the soul of every honest Student : this, namely "I, 
this sent, this expressly commissioned individual, as I may 
now call myself, am actually here, have entered into exist 
ence for this cause and no other, that the eternal counsel 
of God in this universe may through me be seen of men in 


another, hitherto unknown light, may be made clearly 
manifest, and shine forth with inextinguishable lustre over 
the world ; and this phase of the Divine Thought, thus 
bound up with my personality, is the only true living being 
within me ; all else, though looked upon even by myself as 
belonging to my being, is dream, shadow, nothing ; this 
alone is imperishable and eternal within me ; all else shall 
again disappear in the void from which it has seemingly, 
but never really come forth." This thought fills his whole 
soul : whether or not it is itself clearly conceived and ex 
pressed, everything else which is there clearly conceived, ex 
pressed, wished, or willed, is referred back to it as to its first 
condition, can only be explained by it, and only considered 
possible on the supposition of its truth. 

Through this fundamental principle of all his thoughts, 
he himself, and Knowledge, the object of his activity, be 
come to him, before all other things, honourable and holy. 
He himself becomes honourable and holy. Not, by any means, 
that he dwells with self-complacent pride on the superiority 
of his vocation to share in some degree the counsel of God 
and reveal it to the world over other less distinguished 
callings, invidiously weighing them against each other, and 
thus esteeming himself as of more value than other men. 
If one form of human destiny appears to him superior to 
another, it is not because it offers a better field for personal 
distinction, but because in it the Divine Idea reveals itself 
with greater clearness. Man has no peculiar value beyond 
that of faithfully fulfilling his vocation, whatever that may 
be ; and of this all can partake, irrespective of the different 
natures of their callings. Moreover, the Progressive Scholar 
does not even know whether he shall ultimately attain the 
proper end of his studies, the possession of the Idea ; nor, 
therefore, if that noble vocation be really his ; he is only 
bound to suppose the possibility of this. The perfect Scho 
lar of whom we do not now speak when he has the com 
pleted result in his possession, can then indeed with certain 
ty recognise his vocation ; but even in him the cravings of 
the Idea for more extended manifestation still continue, and 


shall continue while life endures, so that he can never have 
time to muse over the superiority of his vocation, even were 
such musings not utterly vain in themselves, All pride is 
founded on what we think we are, are in attained and per 
fect heing ; and thus pride is in itself vain and contradic 
tory, for that which is our true heing, that to which end 
less growth belongs, is precisely that to which we have not 
yet attained. Our true and underived being in the Divine 
Idea always manifests itself as a desire of progress, and 
hence as dissatisfaction with our present state; and thus the 
Idea makes us truly modest, and bows us down to the dust 
before its majesty. By his pride itself, the proud man 
shows that, more than any one else, he has need of humi 
lity ; for while he thinks of himself that he is something, he 
shows by his pride that he is really nothing. 

Hence, in the thought to which we gave utterance, the 
Student is holy and honourable to himself above everything 
else, not in respect of what he is, but of what he ought to be, 
arid what he evermore must strive to become. The peculiar 
self-abasement of a man consists in this, when he makes 
himself an instrument of a temporary and perishable purpose, 
and deigns to spend care and labour on something else than 
the Imperishable and Eternal. In this view, every man 
should be honourable and holy to himself, and so, too, 
should the Scholar. 

To what end, then, Student, dost thou give to Know 
ledge this attention, which, be it great or small, still costs 
thee some effort, wherefore concentrate thy thoughts here, 
when thou wouldst rather let them rove abroad, wherefore 
deny thyself so many enjoyments, for which, nevertheless, 
the appetite is not wanting in thee ? Dost thou answer, 
" That I may not some day come to want ; that I may ac 
quire a sufficient maintenance, a respectable competency, 
whereby I may satisfy myself with good things ; that my 
fellow-citizens may respect me, and that I may more easily 
move them to the fulfilment of my purposes"? I ask, Who 
then is this thou, in whose future nursing and comfort thou 
art so keenly interested, and for whom thou dost now toil so 


hard and sacrifice so much ? It is as yet quite uncertain 
whether it ever reach this hoped-for land of self-gratifica 
tion: but suppose it should do so, and even enjoy the pam 
pering thou hast provided for it during a series of years, 
what will be the end of it all at last ? All this nursing will 
have an end; the pampered body will sink and crumble into 
a heap of ashes; and for this wilt thou begin the monoto 
nous, mechanical, often irksome business of life, and even 
add to its inherent bitterness by deliberating beforehand on 
the burden which it lays on thee ? In such circumstances, 
I at least would rather begin at the end of the romance, and 
go down this day to the grave, into which sooner or later I 
must descend. Or dost thou answer thus, more praise- 
worthily in appearance at least, but not more profoundly, 
" I will thereby become useful to my fellow-men and pro 
mote their welfare " ? then I ask, What end will thy use 
fulness serve ? In a few years, of all whom thou desirest to 
serve, and whom I freely grant thou mayest serve, not one 
shall remain, not one shall have the least need of thy ser 
vices any more : thou hast spent thy labour on perishable 
things ; they disappear, and thou disappearest with them, 
and a time comes when every trace of thy existence shall 
be utterly effaced. Not so the true Student, who has 
brought Integrity with him to his task. " I am," he may 
say ; " but as surely as I am, is my existence a thought of 
God ; for He alone is the fountain of all being, and beside 
Him there is no being. Whatever I am, in and by this 
thought, I am before all Time, and do so remain indepen 
dent of all time and change. This thought will I strive to 
know, to its fulfilment I will apply all my powers ; then 
shall they be employed on what is eternal, and their result 
shall endure for ever. I am Eternal, and it is below the dig 
nity of the Eternal to waste itself on things that perish." 

By the same principle does Knowledge, the object of his ac 
tivity, become honourable to the Student. At his entrance into 
the world of science, he meets with many things which 
seem to him strange and unaccountable, insignificant or un 
attractive; he cannot conceive the grounds of their neces- 


sity, nor their influence on the great whole of Knowledge, 
which he is as yet unable to embrace in one view. How 
shall the beginner, who must first gather together the dif 
ferent parts, how shall he see and understand them in the 
light of the whole, to which he has not yet attained ? Whilst 
one man thoughtlessly neglects and despises whatever is 
unintelligible to him, and so remains ignorant ; whilst 
another learns it mechanically, with blind faith, or in the 
hope that it may one day prove useful to him in some busi 
ness of life ; the True Scholar worthily and nobly welcomes 
it into the general idea of Knowledge which he already pos 
sesses. All which comes before him belongs in every case 
to the circle of things out of which the Divine Idea is to 
appear to him, and to the material in which the Eternal 
Life within him shall reveal itself and assume a definite 
form. If Knowledge appears to those who want both 
Genius and Integrity, only as a means to the attainment of 
certain worldly ends, she reveals herself to him who with 
honest heart consecrates himself to her service, not only in 
her highest branches which touch closely upon things 
divine, but down even to her meanest elements, as some 
thing originating in, and determined by, the Eternal 
Thought of God himself, originated there expressly for, 
and in relation to, him, and destined to be perfected by its 
action upon him, and, through him, upon the whole Eternal 

And so does his own person ever become holier to him 
through the holiness of Knowledge, and Knowledge again 
holier through the holiness of his person. His whole life, 
however unimportant it may outwardly seem, has acquired 
an inward meaning, a new significance. Whatever may 
or may not flow from it, it is still a god-like life. And in 
order to become a partaker in this life, neither the Student 
of science nor the follower of any other human pursuit 
needs peculiar talents, but only a living and active Integrity 
of Purpose, to which the thought of our high vocation and 
of our allegiance to an Eternal Law, with all that flows from 
these, will be spontaneously revealed. 




THE lectures which I now resume have been begun under 
many unfavourable circumstances. In the first place. I have 
had to contemplate my subject from a point of view much 
higher than the common one, from an elevation to which 
every Student may not have been prepared to rise. A 
newly-installed teacher in a University cannot be well ac 
quainted with the extent to which scientific culture has 
hitherto been introduced into the public course ; and yet it 
is naturally expected that he should employ the same 
means towards such a culture which have already been long 
in use. But could I have known, even to certainty, that 
the public as a whole were not sufficiently prepared for 
such views, yet I must have treated my subject precisely 
in the way in which I have treated it, or else have never 
touched it at all. No man should linger about the surface 
of a thought, and repeat in another form what has been said 
an hundred times before : he who can do no more than this, 
had better be silent altogether ; but he who can do other 
wise, will never hesitate to do so. Further, the individual 
parts of what is in itself a systematic whole, have been ne 
cessarily broken up by intervals of weeks; and propriety 
forbade me, in these lectures, strictly to observe the practice 
which I have generally adopted in all purely philosophical 
instruction, i. e. before every new lecture to recapitulate 
the substance of the previous one in its connexion with the 


subject at large, and thus conduct the hearer once more 
over all that has gone before, and enable him again to 
grasp the spirit of the whole. Lastly, in these lectures 
my discourse is not, as in my other lectures, entirely free, 
descending to the familiar tones of conversation; but is 
deliberately composed, and delivered as it is written down. 
This too, I conceive, is demanded by propriety, that I 
should give these lectures all the outward polish which is 
possible in the only available time which I can spare from 
my other duties to devote to them. Public lectures are 
the free gifts of an academical teacher ; and he who is 
not ignoble would wish to make his gifts the best which 
he has it in his power to bestow. 

The two last-mentioned circumstances are unavoidable, 
and nothing remains for you but to change them into 
favourable conditions for yourselves. The first is already 
obviated, for such of you as attend my private course, by 
my last lecture upon the distinction between the philo 
sophical and historical points of view; and I therefore 
consider you to be sufficiently prepared by that lecture for 
the reception of the views we shall take of our present 
subject. To-day I shall, in the first place, survey the whole 
of that subject in the form to which you have been accus 
tomed in the other course, and in that form exhibit and 
repeat it to you. 

Any subject whatever which engages the attention of 
man, may be considered in a double aspect, and, as it were, 
with a double organ of sense ; either historically, by mere 
outward perception alone ; or philosophically, by inward 
spiritual vision ; and in this double aspect may the ob 
ject of our present inquiries the Nature of the Scholar 
be surveyed. The historical view lays hold of existing 
opinions about the object, selects from among them the 
most common and prevalent, regards these as truth, but 
thus obtains mere illusion and not truth. The philoso 
phical view regards things as they are in themselves, 
i.e. in the world of pure thought, of which world God is 
the essential and fundamental principle, and thus as God 

A a 


himself must have thought of them, could we attribute 
thought to him. Hence the inquiry, What is the Nature 
of the Scholar? as a philosophical question, means the 
following : How must God conceive of the Nature of the 
Scholar, were he to conceive of it ? In this spirit we have 
taken up the question, and in this spirit we have given it 
the following answer: In the first place, God has conceived 
of the whole world, not only as it now is, but also as it shall 
become by its own spontaneous growth ; moreover, what it 
now is lies in the original Divine Thought as the germ of 
an endless development, and that a development proceed 
ing from the highest that exists in it, namely, from the 
rational beings, by means of their own freedom. If, then, 
these rational beings are to realize, by their own free act, 
that Divine Thought of the world as it ought to be, they 
must before all things comprehend and know this Thought. 
Now, this comprehension and knowledge of the original 
Divine Thought is unattainable by them, except on condi 
tion of a second Divine Thought ; this, namely, that they 
who are to be thus gifted should comprehend the Thought. 
But those who are so distinguished in the Divine world- 
creative Thought, that they should in part comprehend 
that original Divine Thought, are therein conceived of as 
Scholars ; and, on the other hand, Scholars are possible 
and actually exist, where they do exist, through the Divine 
Thought ; and in that Divine Thought they are those who 
in part comprehend God in his original Thought of the 
world ; Scholars, namely, in so far as they have elevated 
themselves to that Divine Thought by the various means 
to the attainment of the highest spiritual culture which 
exist in every age through the Divine Thought itself. 

That Divine Thought of man as a Scholar must now 
itself take possession of him, and become his innermost 
soul, the true essential life dwelling in his life. This can 
happen in two ways, either directly or indirectly. If it lay 
hold of the man directly, it will form itself in him, spon 
taneously and without outward aid, into such a knowledge 
of the Divine Plan of the universe as can find a place in 


that individual ; all his thoughts and impulses will of them 
selves take the most direct way to this end ; whatever he 
does, prompted by this thought, is good and right, and must 
assuredly prosper, for it is an immediately divine act, This 
phenomenon we call Genius. In individual cases it can 
never be determined whether a man is, or is not, the sub 
ject of this immediate influence of the Divine Thought. 

Or, the second and generally applicable case is when the 
Divine Thought of man as a Scholar lays hold of, inspires, 
and animates him indirectly. He finds himself necessitated 
to study by his position, which being determined without his 
assistance, he must regard as the purpose of God with him. 
He enters upon this vocation, in consequence of the thought 
that it is the purpose of God in him and for him, with 
Integrity ; for so we call the faith that God has a purpose 
in our being. By thus embracing his vocation not merely 
because it is his, but because it is made his solely by the 
Divine Thought and purpose, does his person as well as 
knowledge, which is his calling, become to him, before all 
other things, honourable and holy. It was this last-men 
tioned thought of which we treated particularly in our 
previous lecture, and which we purpose to follow out to 

This thought of the divinity and holiness of his vocation 
is the soul of his life, the impulse which produces all that 
goes forth from him, the cether in which everything around 
him is bathed. His conduct and doings in the outward 
world must then harmonise with this thought. He needs 
no conscious exertion of his individual will to bring his 
actions into harmony with this Divine Thought ; he needs 
not to exhort, urge, or compel himself to this harmony, for 
he cannot possibly act otherwise : were he to endeavour to 
act in opposition to it, then he would need to persuade, to 
urge, to compel himself to that course, but without success. 

Keep this steadfastly in view while we now pass from the 
idea of the true-minded Scholar, to its outward manifestation. 
Our Morality, if it be Morality which we now propound to 
you, our Morality does not enact laws ; like all philosophy, 


it confines itself to nature and necessity, and only describes 
what does and does not flow from these. Could this Mora 
lity permit itself an external wish, and hope for its realiza 
tion, it would be to strike the hard and barren rock which 
confines the fountain of good, so that its waters might 
spontaneously gush forth in their original purity to enrich 
the inward juices of the tree ; but it would never desire 
with idle art to engraft thereon foreign fruits which cannot 
grow from such a stock. Hence I shall not even touch upon 
many things which might seem appropriate in this place ; 
and upon many others which I do touch, I shall speak 
with moderation, not as if I did not know that these 
things have other aspects under which they must be spoken 
of with greater severity, but because I shall here judge the 
Actual only by the holiness of the Ideal, which must on no 
account be dragged down to certain depths of degradation. 
Let who will be teacher of external Morality, we shall not 
here come into contact with the vulgar who find their 
motives to action in impulses from without. 

We have already said that the acceptance of his vocation 
by the Student as a Divine Thought, makes his own person 
holy and honourable to him. This view of his person will 
spontaneously manifest itself in his outward life, without 
direct thought and will upon his part, as sacred purity and 
freedom from all constraint; not expressly recognised as 
such by himself, but because no other mode of life falls 
within his range of thought. 

To describe his life in one word : he shuns the contact of 
the vulgar and ignoble. Where these meet him, he draws 
back, like the well-known sensitive plant which shrinks from 
the touch of our finger. Where aught vulgar or ignoble is 
present, he is not to be found ; it has forced him from it, 
before it came near to him. 

What is vulgar and ignoble? So asks not he; his inward 
sense prompts, in every case, an immediate answer. We 
put the question only that we may describe his higher life 
and delight ourselves in contemplating the picture. 

Everything is vulgar and ignoble which degrades the 


fancy and blunts the taste for the Holy. Tell me what 
direction thy thoughts take, not when thou with tightened 
hand constrainest them to a purpose, but when in thy 
hours of recreation thou allowesfc them freely to rove abroad; 
tell me what direction they then take, where they naturally 
turn as to their most loved home, in what thou thyself in 
the innermost depths of thy soul findest thy chief enjoy 
ment ; and then I will tell thee what are thy tastes. Are 
they directed towards the Godlike, and to those things in 
nature and art wherein the Godlike most directly reveals it 
self in imposing majesty ? then is the Godlike not dreadful 
to thee but friendly ; thy tastes lead thee to it, it is thy 
most loved enjoyment. Do they, when released from the 
constraint with which thou hast directed them towards a 
serious pursuit, eagerly turn to brood over sensual pleasures, 
and find relaxation in the pursuit of these? then hast thou 
a vulgar taste, and thou must invite animalism into the in 
nermost recesses of thy soul before it can seem well with 
thee there. Not so the noble Student. His thoughts, when 
exhausted by exertion and toil, return in moments of relax 
ation to the Holy, the Great, the Sublime, there to find re 
pose, refreshment, and new energy for yet higher efforts. In 
nature as well as in the Arts, in Poetry and in Music, he 
seeks for the Sublime, and that in its great and imposing 
style. In Poetry for example, and in Oratory, he delights in 
the lofty voices of the ancient world ; and, among the mo 
derns, in that only which is produced and interpenetrated 
by the spirit of the ancients. Amusements in which the 
form of art is thrown around unmeaning emptiness, or even 
productions which appeal to the senses alone, and strive to 
please man by awakening and exciting his animal nature, 
these have no charms for him. It is not necessary for him 
to consider beforehand how hurtful they might prove to 
him : they do not please him, and he can acquire no liking 
for them. 

The man of mature age may indeed turn his thoughts to 
such perversions, that he may discover in themselves the 
evidence of their perversion, and so laugh at them : he is 


secure from their contagion. Not so the inexperienced 
youth ; a secret voice calls him back from them altogether. 
The man of ripe years, who is no longer occupied in forming 
his Ideal, but now seeks to impress it on the actual world, 
he has to deal with perversion, and must pursue it 
through all its doublings and turnings, into its most secret 
haunts ; and he cannot do this without contemplating it. 
Our hatred of the vulgar becomes weakened and blunted by 
time, by the experience that the foolishness of the world 
suffers no abatement, and that almost the only certain ad 
vantage which can be gained from it is a laugh at its ex 
pense. But the youth cannot thus contemplate life, he 
must not thus contemplate it. Every period of life has its 
peculiar calling. Good-natured laughter at vulgarity be 
longs to ripened age; the attitude of youth towards it ought 
to be that of stern aversion, and no one will be able in 
after years to look on it, and to laugh at it, and yet remain 
truly free and pure from its taint, who does not begin in 
youth by avoiding and hating it. Jesting is not suited for 
youth, they know little of man who think so; where youth 
is wasted in sport, it will never attain to earnestness and 
true existence. The portion of youth in life is the Earnest 
and the Sublime ; only after such a youth does maturity 
attain to the Beautiful, and with it to sportful enjoyment of 
the Vulgar. 

Further, everything is vulgar and ignoble which weakens 
spiritual power. I shall instance idleness ; to mention 
drunkenness or sensuality would be below the dignity 
of our subject. To live without active occupation, to 
cast a dull and unmeaning gaze around us, will soon make 
our minds dull and unmeaning. This propensity to non- 
existence, to spiritual torpor, becomes a habit, a second 
nature ; it surprises us in our studies or while listening to 
our teacher, creates a chasm in what would otherwise be a 
strictly connected whole, interposes itself here and there 
between ideas which we should have bound together, so 
that we cannot comprehend even those which are most easy 
and intelligible. How this propensity should seize upon 


youth, may well remain unaccountable even to men of the 
deepest penetration and judgment; and in most cases it 
would be no delusion to seek its cause in some secret infir 
mity or vice. Youth is the age of newly-developed power ; 
everywhere there are still impulses and principles destined 
to burst forth into new creations ; the peculiar character 
of youth is restless and uninterrupted activity ; left to itself, 
it can never be without occupation. To see it slothful is 
the sight of winter in the time of spring, the blight and 
withering of a newly-opened flower. Were it naturally pos 
sible that this idleness should attempt to gain dominion 
over the true-minded and virtuous Student, he would never 
for a moment endure it. In the Eternal Thought of God 
his spiritual power has its source ; it is thus his most pre 
cious treasure, and he will not suffer it to fall into impotent 
rigidity before it has fulfilled its task. He watches unceas 
ingly over himself, and never allows himself to rest in sloth 
ful inaction. It is only for a short period that this exertion 
of the will is needed ; afterwards, its result continues of it 
self, for it is happily as easy, or even more easy because it 
is more natural, for man to accustom himself to industry 
than to idleness, and after a time passed in sustained ac 
tivity it even becomes impossible for him to live without 

Lastly, everything is vulgar and ignoble which robs man 
of respect for himself, of faith in himself, and of the power 
of reckoning with confidence upon himself and his purposes. 
Nothing is more destructive of character than for man to 
lose all faith in his own resolutions, because he has so often 
determined, and again determined, to do that which never 
theless he has never done. Then he feels it necessary to 
flee from himself; he can no longer turn inward to his own 
thoughts, lest he be covered with shame before them ; he 
shuns no society so much as his own, and deliberately gives 
himself up to dissipation and self-forgetfulness. Not so the 
upright Student : he keeps his purpose ; and whatever he 
has resolved to do, that he does, were it only because he has 
resolved to do it. For the same reason, that he must be 


guided by his own purpose and his own insight, he will 
not become a slave to the opinion of others, or even to the 
general opinion. It is doubtless of all things most ignoble, 
when man, out of too great complacency, which at bottom 
is cowardice and want of spirit, or out of indolence, which 
prevents him from thinking for himself and drawing the 
principles of his conduct from his own mind, gives himself 
up to others, and relies- upon them rather than upon him 
self. Such an one has indeed no self within him, and be 
lieves in no self within him, but goes as a suppliant to 
others, and entreats of them, one after another, to lend him 
their personality. How can such an one regard himself as 
honourable and holy, when he neither knows nor acknow 
ledges his own being ? 

I have said that the true-minded Student will not make 
himself a slave to common opinion ; nevertheless he will 
accommodate himself to established customs where these 
are in themselves indifferent, simply because he honours 
himself. The educated youth grows up amid these cus 
toms ; were he to cast them off, he must of necessity deli 
berately resolve to do so, and attract notice and attention to 
himself by his singularities and his offences against de 
corum. How should he whose time is occupied with 
weightier matters find leisure to ponder such a subject ? Is 
the matter so important, and is there no other way in which 
he can distinguish himself, that he must take refuge in a 
petty peculiarity ? " No ! " answers the noble-minded Stu 
dent ; "I am here to comprehend weightier things than out 
ward manners, and I will not have it appear that I am too 
awkward to understand these. I will not by such littleness 
cause myself and my class to be despised and hated by the 
uncharitable, or good-naturedly laughed at by those of 
better disposition ; my fellow-citizens of other classes, or of 
my own, my teachers, my superiors, shall have it in their 
power to honour and respect me as a man, in every relation 
of human life." 

And thus in all its relations does the life of the studious 
youth, who respects himself, flow on blameless and lovely. 




THE point which wo had attained at the close of last lecture 
in our portraiture of the Student to whom his own person 
had become holy through the view of his vocation as a 
Divine Thought, was the consideration of his outward man 
ners. With this subject is connected an idea, frequently 
broached but seldom duly weighed, the idea of the Aca 
demical Freedom of the Student. Much, indeed, of what 
has been said regarding this subject lies below the dignity 
of these lectures ; and, only in the sequel will we be able to 
find a way of elevating it to our own standard. Hence I 
not only cheerfully admit that the discussion of this idea, 
which I hope to accomplish to-day, is a mere episode in my 
general plan; I must even entreat you so to consider it. 
But to pass over altogether a subject to which one is led, 
almost unconsciously, in a review of the moral behaviour 
of the Student, I hold to be all the less legitimate that it is 
commonly avoided, and quite properly avoided, since it may 
so easily degenerate into polemics or satire, from both of 
which we are secured by the tone of these lectures. 

What is Academic Freedom? The answer to this question 
is our task for to-day. As every object may be looked upon 
from a double point of view, partly historical, partly phi 
losophical, so may the subject of our present inquiry. Let 
us, in the first place survey it from the historical point of 
view, i. e. let us try to discover what they meant by it who 
first allowed and introduced Academic Freedom. 

Academies have always been considered as higher schools, 


in contrast with the lower preparatory schools, or schools 
properly so called ; hence the student at the academy as 
distinguished from the pupil at the school. The freedom of 
the former could thus only be understood to be emancipa 
tion from some constraint to which the latter was subject. 
The pupil, for example, was compelled to appear at his class 
in a particular kind of clothing, which in those days indi 
cated the dignity of the future Scholar; he dared not neglect 
his fixed hours of study ; and he had many other duties im 
posed upon him, which were then regarded as a sort of 
sacred service preparatory to the future spiritual office to 
which the Student was usually destined, as for instance, 
choir-singing. In all these respects he was subject to strict 
and constant inspection ; the transgressor was often igno- 
miniously punished; and indeed the teacher himself was 
both overseer and judge. Meanwhile Universities arose ; 
and the outward, unlearned world would naturally be in 
clined to place them under similar regulations to those 
adopted in the only educational institutions with which it 
was familiar, i. e. such as it saw in the schools. But this 
did not ensue, and it was impossible that it should ensue. 
The founders of the first Universities were Scholars of dis 
tinguished talent and energy ; they had fought their way 
through the surrounding darkness of their age to whatever 
insight they possessed ; they were wholly devoted to their 
scientific pursuits, and lived in them alone ; they were en 
compassed by a brilliant reputation ; in the circles of the 
great they were esteemed, honoured, consulted as oracles. 
They could never condescend to assume the position of 
overseers and pedagogues towards their hearers. Hence it 
was, that they held in contempt the teachers of the lower 
schools, from whose level they had raised themselves by 
their own ability ; and for that reason they would neither 
practise, nor allow themselves to be distinguished by, those 
things which characterized the former. Their call assem 
bled around them hundreds and thousands from all coun 
tries of Europe ; the number of their hearers increased both 
their importance and their wealth ; and it was not to be 


expected that they should expose to annoyance those who 
brought such benefits to them. Besides, how was it possible 
that young men, with whom they had but a passing ac 
quaintance among hundreds of their fellows, who in a few 
months, a year, or at most a few years, would return to dis 
tant homes, should interest them closely, or engage their 
affections ? Neither the moral demeanour nor the scientific 
progress of their hearers was of any consequence to them ; 
and in these days a well-known Latin adage which speaks 
of "taking gold and sending home," very naturally arose. 
Academic Freedom had arisen, as emancipation from the 
constraints of school, and from all supervision on the part of 
the teacher over the morality, industry, or scientific progress 
of the Student, who was to him a hearer and nothing more. 

This is one side of the picture. It may easily be ima 
gined, and, where no very high standard of morality existed, 
it might very naturally occur, that these founders of the 
early universities did so think of this matter, and that a 
portion of this mode of thought has come down to us 
through past centuries. Let us now look at the other side. 

What, then, would be the natural and reasonable effect 
of this idea of Academical Freedom on the minds of the 
Students ? Could they have thought themselves highly 
honoured by this indifference on the part of their teacher to 
their moral dignity and scientific improvement ? could 
they have demanded this indifference as a sacred right ? I 
cannot believe it, for such indifference amounts to disre 
gard and contempt of the Student, and it is surely most of 
fensive to tell him to his face by such conduct " It is no 
thing to me what becomes of you." Or would it have been 
natural for them to conclude, from the carelessness of others 
about their moral demeanour and regular application to 
study, that therefore they themselves were entitled to ne 
glect these things if they chose ? would they have acted 
reasonably had they regarded their Academic Freedom as 
only a right to be immoral and indolent? I cannot believe it. 
Much more reasonable would it have been, had they deter 
mined, because of this want of foreign superintendence, to 


exercise a stricter surveillance over themselves ; if out of 
this freedom from outward constraint had arisen a clearer 
perception of their duty to urge themselves onward so much 
the more powerfully, to watch over themselves so much the 
more incessantly, and to look upon their Academic Freedom 
as liberty to do all that is right and becoming by their own 
free determination. 

In short, the Academic Freedom of the Student, taken 
historically, according to its actual introduction into the 
world, exhibits in its origin, in its progress, and in what of it 
still exists, an unjust and indecent contempt for the whole 
class of Students, as a most insignificant class; and the Stu 
dent who considers himself honoured by this Freedom, and 
lays claim to it as a right, has fallen into a most extraordi 
nary delusion ; he is certainly ill informed, and has never 
seriously reflected on the subject. It may indeed become 
the well-disposed man of riper years, who is always a lover 
of life and youth, to turn aside from the awkwardness, the 
rudeness, and the many errors into which unbridled energy 
is apt to fall, goodnaturedly to laugh at these, and to think 
that wisdom will come with years ; but the youth who feels 
himself honoured by this judgment, and even demands it as 
his due, cannot be supposed to possess a very delicate sense 
of honour. 

Let us now consider this subject the Academic Freedom 
of the Student in its philosophical sense ; i.e. as it ought to 
be ; as, under certain conditions, it may be ; and, what fol 
lows from thence, how the actually existing Academic Free 
dom will be accepted by the Student who understands and 
honours his vocation. We shall open a way to the attain 
ment of insight into this matter through the following prin 
ciples : 

1. The external freedom of the Citizen is limited, in 
every direction and on all possible sides, by Law ; and the 
more perfect the Law the greater is the limitation, and so 
it ought to be, for this is the proper office of Law. Hence, 
there is no sphere remaining in which the inward freedom 
and morality of the Citizen can be outwardly exhibited and 


demonstrated, and there ought to be no such sphere. All 
that is to be done is commanded, under penalties ; all that 
is not to be done is forbidden, likewise under penalties. 
Every inward temptation to neglect what is commanded, or 
to do what is forbidden, is counterbalanced in the con 
science of the Citizen by the firm conviction, that should he 
give way to the temptation, he must in consequence suffer 
a certain amount of evil. Let it not be said, " There is no 
existing legislation so all-comprehensive, nor is the sagacity 
and vigilance of any tribunal so infallible, that every offence 
is sure to meet its punishment." I know this ; but as I said 
before, it ought to be thus, and this is what we should reo-u- 
larly and constantly approximate to. Legislation cannot 
calculate on the morality of men ; for its object the free 
dom and security of all within their respective spheres 

cannot be left to depend on so uncertain a thing. For the 
just man there is indeed no law under any possible legisla 
tion ; he will commit no evil even although it were not for 
bidden, and whatsoever is good and right, that he will do 
without reference to the command of authority ; he is never 
tempted to crime, and therefore the idea of its attendant 
punishment never enters his mind. He is conscious of his 
virtue, and in this consciousness he has his reward within 
himself. But externally there is no distinction between him 
and the unjust man who is withheld from the commission 
of wrong and impelled to the performance of duty only by 
the threatenings of the law: the former cannot do any 
thing more or leave undone anything more than the latter, 
but only does or leaves undone the same things from a dif 
ferent motive, which is not outwardly apparent. 

2. Under this legislation, the Scholar and the unlearned 
person stand, and ought to stand, on common ground, as 
Citizens. Both can raise themselves above the law in the 
same way, by integrity of purpose ; but this is not cal 
culated upon in either of them, and in neither can this in 
tegrity become apparent in the sphere of external legisla 
tion. And since the Scholar is further a member of a cer 
tain class in the State, and practises in it a certain calling, 


he lies also under the compulsory obligations belonging to 
that class and calling; and here once more it cannot be 
apparent whether he fulfils his duties in this sphere from 
integrity of purpose or from fear of punishment ; nor does 
it in any way concern the community by what motive he is 
actuated so that his duties are fulfilled. Lastly, in those 
regions which have either not yet been reached by an im 
perfect legislation, or which cannot be reached at all by an 
external legislation, he is still accompanied by the fear of 
disgrace; and here again it cannot be seen whether he 
does his duty in consequence of this fear or from inward 
integrity of purpose. 

3. But, besides these, there are yet other relations of the 
Scholar, with which external legislation cannot interfere 
and in which it cannot watch over the fulfilment of his 
duty, where the Scholar must be a law to himself and 
hold himself to its fulfilment. In the Divine Idea he 
carries in himself the form of the future Age which one 
day must clothe itself with reality ; and he must show an 
example and lay down a law to coming generations, for 
which he will seek in vain either in present or in past 
times. In every age that Idea clothes itself in a new form, 
and seeks to shape the surrounding world in its image, and 
thus do continually arise new relations of the world to the 
Idea, and a new mode of opposition of the former to the 
latter. It is the business of the Scholar so to interpose iii 
this strife as to reconcile the activity with the purity of his 
Idea, its influence with its dignity. His Idea must not lie 
concealed within him ; it must go forth and lay hold upon 
the world, and he is urged to this activity by the deepest 
impulses of his being. But the world is incapable of receiv 
ing this Idea in its purity ; on the contrary, it strives to 
drag down the Idea to the level of its own vulgar thought. 
Could he forego aught of this purity, his task would be an 
easy one ; but he is filled with reverence for the Idea, and he 
can give up no part of its perfection. Hence he has to set 
before him the difficult task of reconciling these purposes. 
No law, but why do I speak of laws f no example of the 


fore-world or of his own time can reveal to him the means 
of this union, for so surely as the Idea has assumed a new 
form in him has his case never before occurred. Even re 
flection, of itself, cannot give him this point of union ; for 
although, by reflection, the Idea itself in all its purity is re 
vealed as the first point of the union, yet much more is 
needed before the second point the mental condition of 
the surrounding world, and what may safely be expected 
from it can be clearly and fully comprehended in the same 
thought. Well may those who have wrought most mightily 
upon their age have closed their career with the inward 
confession that their reliance on the spirit of their time had 
ever proved fallacious, that they never supposed it to be so 
perverse and imbecile as it afterwards proved, and that 
while they accurately estimated one of its aberrations and 
avoided it, another, hitherto unperceived, revealed itself. 
To succeed at all at any time, there is needed, in addition 
to reflection, a certain tact, which can only be acquired by 
early exercise and habit. 

Farther, it is clear that in this matter in doing every 
thing possible to reconcile the opposition between the in 
ward purity of the Idea and its external activity the 
Scholar can be guided only by his own determination, can 
have no other judge but himself, and no motive external 
to himself. In this no stranger can judge him in this no 
stranger can even wholly understand him, nor divine the 
deep purpose of his actions. In this region, so far is respect 
for the judgment of others from aiding his intention, that 
on the contrary he must here cast aside foreign opinion 
altogether, and look upon it as if it were not. He must 
be guided and upheld by his own purpose alone ; and tru 
ly he needs a mighty and immovable purpose to keep his 
ground against the temptations which arise even from his 
noblest inclinations. What is more noble than the impulse 
to action, to sway the minds of men, and to compel their 
thoughts to the Holy and Divine ? and yet this impulse 
may become a temptation to represent the Holy in a com 
mon and familiar garb for the sake of popularity, and so to 


desecrate it. What is more noble than the deepest rever 
ence for the Holy, and disdain and abnegation of every 
thing vulgar and opposed to it ? and yet this very rever 
ence might tempt some one to reject his age altogether, 
to cast it from him and avoid intercourse with it. A 
mighty and good will is needed to resist the first of these 
temptations, and the mightiest of all to overcome the 

It is evident from these considerations, that, for his pecu 
liar vocation, the Scholar needs shrewd practical \visdom, a 
profound morality, strict watchfulness over himself, and a 
fine delicacy of feeling. It follows, -that at an early age he 
ought to be placed in a position where it is possible and 
necessary for him to acquire this practical wisdom and deli 
cacy of feeling, and that this cultivation of mind and cha 
racter should be a peculiar element in the education of the 
future Scholar. Every Citizen, without exception, may cul 
tivate these qualities, and must have it in his power to do 
so ; legislation must leave this possibility open to him, it 
is compelled to do so by its very nature. But it does not 
concern the legislature or the commonwealth whether the 
Citizen does or does not elevate himself to this vocation, be 
cause his calling will still remain within the range of exter 
nal jurisdiction. But as for the Scholar, it is of importance 
to the Commonwealth, and to the whole Human Race, that 
he should both raise himself to the purest morality and ac 
quire sound practical wisdom, since he is destined one day 
to enter a sphere where he absolutely leaves behind him all 
external judgment. The legislation for Mm, therefore, 
should not merely allow him the possibility of moral culti 
vation like every other Citizen, but, so far as in it lies, it 
should place him under the outward necessity of acquiring 
this cultivation. 

And how can it do this ? Evidently only by leaving him 
to his own judgment as to what is becoming, seemly, and 
appropriate, and to his own superintendence of himself. Is 
he to create for himself an independent sense of what is 
proper and becoming ? How can he do so if the law accom- 


panies him everywhere, and everywhere declares what he is 
to do and what not to do ? Let the law prohibit those whom 
she can retain under her yoke from indulgence in every 
thing which she wishes them to renounce ; but, as for him 
who must one day leave her jurisdiction, let her trust him 
betimes as a noble and free man. The man of refined 
morality does not wait until the law discovers a thing to be 
unseemly and directs its prohibition against it, it would 
be ignominy for him to need such direction; he antici 
pates the decree, and relinquishes that in which the vulgar 
around him indulge without scruple, simply because it is 
unbecoming his higher nature. Give the Student room to 
place himself in this class by his own effort alone. Is he to 
unfold in himself a profound and powerful morality, a ten 
der delicacy of sentiment, a deep sense of honour? How can 
he do this surrounded by threats of punishment ? Let the 
law rather speak to him thus : " So far as I am concerned, 
thou mayest leave the path of right and follow after evil ; 
no other harm shall overtake thee but to be despised and 
scorned, despised even by thyself when thou turnest thine 
eye inwards. If thou wilt venture on this peril, venture on 
it without fear." Is the Human Race one day to confide to 
him its most important interests, and in his dealings with 
those interests is he to have confidence in himself? How 
can men trust him when they have never proved him ? 
how can he trust himself when he has never proved his own 
strength ? He who has not yet been faithful in small things 
cannot be entrusted with great things ; and he who has not 
been able to stand a trial before himself cannot without the 
basest dishonour accept an important trust. On these 
grounds we rest the claims of Academic Freedom, of an 
extensive yet well-considered Academic Freedom. 

In a Perfect State, the outward constitution of Universi 
ties would, in my opinion, be the following : In the first 
place, the Students would be separated from other classes of 
the community pursuing other vocations, so that these 
classes might not, by the possible abuse of Academic Free 
dom, be harassed or injured, tempted to similar irregulari- 



ties, or misled into a hatred of the law while living under 
its rule by daily contact with a class free from its restraints. 
The Students at these Universities would enjoy a high 
degree of freedom ; instructions on Morality and Duty, and 
impressive pictures of a True Life, would indeed be laid be 
fore them ; they would be surrounded by good examples, 
and their teachers would not only be profound Scholars, but 
the elite of the best men in the nation; of compulsory laws, 
however, there would be very few. Let them freely choose 
either good or evil : the time of study is but the time of 
trial ; the time for the decision of their fate comes after 
wards ; and our arrangement would have this advantage, 
that unworthiness, where it existed, would be clearly recog 
nised as such and could no longer be concealed. 

The present actual constitution of Universities is indeed 
by no means of this kind. It is doubtful whether Academic 
Freedom was ever looked upon from the point of view from 
which we have described it, particularly whether it was ever 
so looked upon by those who gave the Universities their cons 
titution. Academic Freedom has actually arisen in the way 
described in a former part of this lecture, i. e. from disre 
spect towards the Student-class : and we may leave it un 
determined by what influence the remnants of this system 
are now maintained; for even were it admitted that the same 
disrespect for the class, which still exists although in a less 
degree, and perhaps want of opportunity to get rid of these 
relics of another age, were its only supports, yet this is of no 
moment to the true- minded Student, who judges of things 
not by their outward form but by their inward spirit. 
"Whatever others may think of Academic Freedom, he, for 
his part, takes it in its true sense : as a means by which 
he may learn to direct himself when outward precept leaves 
him, watch over himself when no one else watches over 
him, urge himself forward where there is no longer any 
outward impulse, and thus train and strengthen himself 
for his future high vocation. 



THE true-minded Scholar looks upon his vocation to be 
come a partaker of the Divine thought of the universe as 
the purpose of God in him ; and therefore both his person 
and his calling become to him, before all other things, ho 
nourable and holy; and this holiness shows itself in all his 
outward manifestations. Such is the point at which we 
have now arrived. 

We have hitherto spoken of the Progressive Scholar the 
Student; and we have seen how the sense of the dignity 
conferred upon his person by this exalted vocation expresses 
itself in his life. How his conviction of the holiness of 
Knowledge pervades and influences his studies we have 
already noticed in one of the earlier lectures, and it is not 
necessary to add anything to what we have said upon this 

And it is the less necessary since this reverence for 
Knowledge which is felt by the Student manifests itself 
chiefly in the appropriate estimation and consecration of his 
person and is therein exhausted ; while it is quite otherwise 
in the Finished Scholar. In the Progressive Scholar, that 
which he strives after the Idea has yet to acquire a 
form and an independent life : these it does not yet 
possess. As yet the Student does neither immediately 
possess, nor is he thoroughly penetrated by, the Idea; he 
reverences it only at a distance, and can comprehend it 
only by means of his person, as the standard to which 


that person ought to raise itself, the spirit by which it 
ought to be swayed. He can as yet do nothing directly 
in its service ; he can only live for it indirectly, by con 
secrating and devoting his person to its use as its appoint 
ed instrument ; preserving himself pure in sense and 
spirit because all impurity would mar and disqualify him 
for that function ; by giving himself up entirely to its in 
fluence and pursuing and executing with unwearied indus 
try everything which may become a means or opportunity 
to the Idea of unfolding itself within him. It is other 
wise with the Finished Scholar. As surely as he is such, 
the Idea has already commenced its proper and indepen 
dent life within him; his personal life has now actually 
passed into the Life of the Idea, and is therein absorbed ; 
an absorption of self in the Idea which was only striven 
after by the Student. As surely as he is a perfect Scholar, 
so surely is there now no longer in him any thought of self, 
but his whole thought is henceforth absorbed in the 
thought of the Idea. And thus the distinction which we 
originally made between the holiness of his person and the 
holiness of his vocation now becomes a point of transition 
from the contemplation of the Progressive to that of the 
Finished Scholar, the portraiture of whom it is now my 
purpose to place beside that of the Progressive Scholar. 

Hitherto we have considered the Progressive Scholar 
chiefly in the character of a Student at a University ; and 
these two Ideas have been almost constantly associated to 
gether in our previous lectures. Now, for the first time, 
when we have to accompany the Student from the Academy 
into Life, we must call to mind that the studies and cha 
racter of the Progressive Scholar are not necessarily com 
pleted with his residence at the University ; nay, further on, 
we shall even perceive a ground upon which we may say 
that, properly speaking, his studies have their true begin 
ning only after his academic course has closed. This much, 
however, remains true, as the sure result of what has been 
already said, that the youth who during his residence at 


the University is not at least inspired with respect for the 
holiness of Knowledge, and does not at least learn to honour 
his own person to such an extent as not to render it un 
worthy of his high vocation, will never afterwards attain to 
any true sense of the dignity of Knowledge ; and whatever 
part he may be called to play in life, he will take to it as a 
common handicraft and with the sentiment of an hireling 
who has no other motive to his labour than the pay he is to 
receive for it. To say anything more of such an one lies 
beyond the boundaries of our present subject. 

But the Student who is penetrated with the conviction 
that the essential purpose of his studies will be defeated 
unless the Idea acquire an intrinsic form and independent 
life within him, and that in the highest perfection, he will 
by no means lay aside his studies and scientific labours 
when he leaves the University. Even if he be compelled 
by outward necessity to enter upon a secular employment, 
he will devote to Knowledge all the time and ability he can 
spare from that employment, and will neglect no opportu 
nity which presents itself of attaining a higher culture. The 
exercise of his faculties in the pursuit of learning will be 
profitable to him even in the transaction of his ordinary 
business. And amid the brilliant distinctions of office, and 
even in mature age, he will restlessly strive and labour to 
master the Idea, never resigning the hope of becoming 
greater than he now is, so long as strength permits him to 
indulge it. Without this untiring effort, much true Genius 
would be wholly lost, for scientific talent usually unfolds it 
self more slowly, the higher and purer its essential nature, 
and its clear development waits for mature years and manly 

The Student who is penetrated with deep respect for the 
holiness of the Scholar s vocation, will be guided by that 
respect in his choice of a civic profession ; and, particularly, 
in the province of learning, if he do not feel the deepest 
conviction of his ability to fulfil its highest duties, he will 
choose a subordinate occupation, restrained from assumption 
by his reverence for the dignity of Knowledge. But a sub- 


ordinate Scholar-occupation is one in which the ends to be 
attained have been prescribed by some other intellect pos 
sessed with a knowledge of the Idea, and in which the capa 
cities which have been acquired through study, pursued for 
the attainment of the Idea, are employed only as means to 
fulfil those purposes which have thus been prescribed from 
without. His person is thus not degraded into a passive 
instrument; he is for ever secured against that by the 
general view he takes of human life and its significance ; 
he serves God alone in spirit and in sense ; and, under the 
guidance of his superiors, whom he leaves to answer for the 
direction which they give to his actions and their results, he 
promotes God s purposes with men, which must embrace all 
forms of human activity. Thus does he proceed in his 
choice of a secular employment as surely as he has been 
inspired in his youth with respect for the dignity of the 
peculiar vocation of the Scholar. To undertake such an 
employment without consciousness of possessing the needful 
power and cultivation is to profane it, and manifests a want 
both of delicacy and of principle. And it is impossible that 
he should fall into error on this point ; for if he has passed 
through his academic course in a creditable manner, then 
he has certainly acquired, in some degree, a perception of 
what is worthy, and has obtained a standard by which he 
can take his own intellectual dimensions. If a conscientious 
course of study at a University secured no other advantage 
than that of presenting to youth a picture of the dignified 
calling of the Scholar as a model for life, and of repelling 
from this sphere those who are not endowed with the requi 
site ability, such a course would, on account of this advan 
tage alone, be of the utmost importance to the Student. 

We have thus generally described the nature of a subor 
dinate Scholar-occupation. It does not demand in him who 
pursues it, the immediate possession of the Idea, but only 
that knowledge which is acquired in striving after such pos 
session. It is to be understood that in this again there are 
higher and lower grades, according as the occupation re 
quires a wider or narrower range of knowledge, and that, 


in this respect too, the conscientious man will not under 
take anything which exceeds his powers. It is unnecessary 
to describe these subordinate Scholar-occupations in detail. 
The higher and peculiar calling of the Scholar may be de 
scribed so as to exhaust all its particular forms, and it is 
then easy to draw this consequence: "All those pursuits 
which are usually followed by educated men, but which do 
not find a place in this all-comprehensive delineation of the 
higher calling of the Scholar, but are excluded from it, are 
subordinate Scholar-occupations." We have therefore only 
now to lay before you this perfect delineation. 

In our first lecture we have already definitely character 
ized the life of him in whom Learned Culture has fulfilled 
its end : his life is itself the life of the Divine Idea in the 
world, changing and reconstructing it from its very founda 
tion^ In the same place we have said that this life may 
manifest itself in two forms ; either in actual external Be 
ing and Action, or only in Idea; which two distinct modes of 
manifestation together constitute the peculiar vocation of 
the^ Scholar. The first class comprehends all those who, by 
their own strength, and according to their own idea, assume 
the guidance of human affairs, leading them on to ever-new 
perfection in constant harmony with each succeeding age ; 
who, originally, as the highest free leaders of men, direct 
their social relations, and the relation of the whole to pas 
sive nature ; not those only who stand in the higher places 
of the earth, as kings, or the immediate councillors of kings, 
but all without exception who possess the right and calling, 
either by themselves or in concert with others, to think, 
judge, and resolve independently concerning the original dis 
posal of these affairs. The second class embraces the Scho 
lars, properly and pre-eminently so called, whose vocation it 
is to maintain among men the knowledge of the Divine 
Idea, to elevate it unceasingly to greater clearness and pre 
cision, and thus to transmit it from generation to genera 
tion, ever growing brighter in the freshness and glory of re 
newed youth. The first class act directly upon the world, 
they are the immediate point of contact between God and 


reality ; the last are the mediators between the pure spiri 
tuality of thought in the God-head, and the material energy 
and influence which that thought acquires through the in 
strumentality of the first class ; they are the trainers of the 
first class, the enduring pledge to the human race that the 
first class shall never fail from among men. No one can 
belong to the first class without having already belonged to 
the second, without always continuing to belong to it. 

The second class of Scholars is again separated into sub 
divisions, according to the manner in which they communi 
cate to others their conceptions of the Idea. Either their 
immediate object is, by direct and free personal communica 
tion of their ideal conceptions, to cultivate in future Scho 
lars a capacity for the reception of the Idea, so that they 
may afterwards lay hold of it and comprehend it for them 
selves : and then they are educators of Scholars, Teachers in 
the higher or lower schools ; or, they propound their con 
ceptions of the Idea, in a complete and finished form, to 
those who have already cultivated the capacity to compre 
hend it. This is at present done by books, and they are 
thus Authors. 

The classes which we have now enumerated, whose seve 
ral occupations are not necessarily portioned out to different 
individuals, but may quite readily be united in one and the 
the same person, comprise all true and proper Scholars, and 
exhaust the whole vocation of those in whom Learned Cul 
ture has fulfilled its end. Every other function, whatever 
name it may bear, which the Educated Man* (who may be 
distinguished by this title from the True Scholar) is called 
upon to fulfil, is a subordinate Scholar-occupation. The 
Educated Man continues in it, only because he has not by 
his studies been able to attain to the rank of the True 
Scholar, but nevertheless finds here a useful purpose to 
which those capacities and knowledge which he has ac 
quired may be applied. It is by no means the object of 

* Germ. "Studirte," one who has studied, contrasted with " Stvdirende," one 
who studies. We have no single equivalent for " Studirte" in English. TR. 


Learned Culture to train subalterns, and no one should study 
with a view to the office of a subaltern ; for then it may 
happen that he shall not attain even to that rank. Only be 
cause it was certain that a majority of Students would fall 
short of their proposed destination, have subordinate occu 
pations been set apart for them. The subaltern receives the 
direction of his activity from a foreign intellect ; he must 
exercise judgment in the choice of his means, but in respect 
of the end only the most punctual obedience. The acknow 
ledged sacredness of the peculiar vocation of the Scholar 
restrains every honest Educated Man who is not conscious 
of the possession of the Idea, from undertaking it, and con 
strains him to content himself with a subordinate office : 
this and nothing more have we to say of him, for his busi 
ness is no true Scholar-employment, We leave him to the 
sure guidance of that general Integrity and faithfulness to 
Duty which already during his studies have become the 
innermost principle of his life. 

Such an one, by renunciation of the peculiar calling of the 
Scholar, shows that he looks upon it as sacred ; he also, who 
with honesty and a good conscience accepts this calling in 
any of its forms, shows by his actions and by his whole life 
that he looks upon it as sacred. How this recognition of 
the Holy specially manifests itself in each particular depart 
ment of the Scholar s vocation, as these have now been set 
forth, of this we shall speak in succession in the subse 
quent lectures. To-day we shall confine ourselves to show 
ing how it manifests and reveals itself in general i. e. to 
that form of its manifestation which is common to all the 
departments of the Scholar s vocation. 

The true-minded Scholar will not admit of any life and 
activity within him except the immediate life and activity 
of the Divine Idea. This unchangeable principle pervades 
and determines all his inward thoughts ; it also pervades 
and determines all his outward actions. With respect to 
the first, as he suffers no emotion within him that is not 
the direct emotion and life of the Divine Idea which has 
taken possession of him, so is his whole life accompanied 

D a 


by the indestructible consciousness that it is at one with 
the Divine Life, that in him and by him God s work shall 
be achieved and His Will accomplished; he therefore re 
poses on that Will with unspeakable love, and with the 
immovable conviction that it is right and good. Thus does 
his thought become holy, enlightened, and religious ; bless 
edness arises within him, and in it, changeless joy, peace, 
and power, as these may in like manner be acquired and 
enjoyed by the unlearned, and even the lowliest among 
men, through true devotion to God and honest performance 
of duty viewed as the" Will of God. Hence these are no ex 
clusive property of the Scholar, but are noticed here only 
with the view that he too may become a partaker in this 
religious aspect of life, and become so by the way which we 
have pointed out. 

This principle pervades the conduct of the True Scholar. 
He has no other purpose in action but to express his Idea, 
and embody the truth which he recognises in word or work. 
No personal regard, either for himself or others, can impel 
him to do that which is not demanded by this purpose, no 
such regard can cause him to neglect anything which is re 
quired by this purpose. His person, and all personality in 
the world, have long since vanished from before him, and 
entirely disappeared in his effort after the realization of the 
Idea. The Idea alone impels him ; where it does not move 
him, he rests and remains inactive. He does nothing with 
precipitation, hurried forward by disquietude and restless 
ness ; these may well be symptoms of unfolding power, but 
they are never to be found in conjunction with true, deve 
loped, mature and manly strength. Until the Idea stands 
before him clear and breathing, finished and perfect even to 
word or deed, nothing moves him to action ; the Idea rules 
him entirely, governs all his powers, and exhausts all his 
life and effort. To its manifestation he devotes his whole 
personal being without reserve or intermission, for he looks 
upon his life as only the instrument of the Idea. 

Would that I could make myself intelligible to you, 
would that I could persuade you, touching this one point 


which we now approach on every side ! Whatever man 
may do, so long as he does it from himself as a finite being, 
by himself, and through his own counsel, it is vain, and 
will sink to nothing. Only when a foreign power takes 
possession of him, and urges him forward, and lives within 
him in room of his own energy, does true and real existence 
first take up its abode in his life. This foreign power is 
ever the power of God. To look up to it for counsel, 
implicitly to follow its guidance, is the only true wisdom in 
every employment of human life, and therefore most of all 
in the highest occupation of which man can partake, the 
vocation of the True Scholar. 




HE in whom Learned Culture has actually accomplished its 
end, the attainment and possession of the Idea, shows, by 
the manner in which he regards and practises the calling of 
the Scholar, that his vocation is to him, before all other 
things, honourable and holy. The Idea, in its relation to 
the progressive improvement of the world, may be expressed 
either, first, in actual life and conduct; or, secondly, in 
ideas only. It is expressed in the first mode by those who, 
as the highest free leaders of men, originally guide and 
order their affairs : thoir relations with each other, or the 
legal condition,-and their relation to passive nature, or the 
dominion of reason over the irrational world ; who pos 
sess the right and calling, either by themselves or in con 
cert with others, to think, judge, and resolve independently 
concerning the actual arrangement of these relations. We 
have to speak to-day of the worthy conception and practice 
of this vocation. As we have already taken precautions 
against misunderstanding by a strict definition of our mean 
ing, we shall, for brevity s sake, term those who practise this 
calling Rulers. 

The business of the Ruler has been described in our early 
lectures, and so definitely, that no further analysis is ne 
cessary for our present purpose. We have only to show 
what capacities and talents must be possessed by the true 
Ruler, by what estimate of his calling, and what mode of 
practising it, he proves that he looks upon it as sacred. 

He who undertakes to guide his Age and order its consti- 


tution, must be exalted above it, must not merely possess 
an historical knowledge of it, but must thoroughly under 
stand and comprehend it. The Ruler possesses, in the first 
place, a living and comprehensive Idea of that relation of 
human life which he undertakes to superintend ; he knows 
what is its essential nature, meaning, and purpose. Further, 
he perfectly understands the changing and adventitious 
forms which it may assume in reality without prejudice to 
its essential nature. He knows the particular form which it 
has assumed at the present time, and through what new 
forms it must be led nearer and nearer to its unattainable 
Ideal. No part of its present form is, in his view, necessary 
and unchangeable, but is only an incidental point in a pro 
gression by which it is constantly rising towards higher per 
fection. He knows the Whole of which that form is a part, 
and of which every improvement of it must still remain a 
part ; and he never loses sight of this Whole in contemplat 
ing the improvement of individual parts. This knowledge 
gives to his inventive faculty the means of accomplishing 
the improvements he may devise ; the same knowledge se 
cures him from the mistake of disorganizing the Whole by 
supposed improvements of individual parts. His eye always 
combines the part with the Whole, and the idea of the lat 
ter with its actual manifestation in reality. 

He who can not look upon human affairs with this un 
fettered vision is never a Ruler, whatever station he may 
occupy, nor can he ever become one. Even his mode of 
thought, his faith in the unchangeableness of the present, 
places him in a state of subordination, makes him an in 
strument of him who created that arrangement of things in 

o O 

the permanence of which he believes. This frequently, 
happens ; and thus all times have not actual Rulers. Great 
spirits of the fore-world often rule over succeeding Ages 
long after their death, by means of men who in themselves 
are nothing, but are only continuations and prolongations of 
other lives. Very often too this is no misfortune; but those 
who desire to penetrate human life with deeper insight 
ought to know that these are not true Rulers, and that 


under them the Age does not move forward, but rests, 
perhaps to gain strength for new creations. 

The Ruler, I said, thoroughly comprehends that rela 
tion of human life which he undertakes to superintend ; he 
knows the essential character and idea of all its component 
parts, and he looks upon it as the absolute will of God with 
man. It is not to him a means to the attainment of any 
end whatever, nor in particular to the production of human 
happiness ; but he looks upon it as in itself an end, as the 
absolute mode, order, and form in which the human race 
should live. 

Thus, in the first place, is his occupation ennobled and 
dignified in proportion to the nobility of his mode of 
thought. To direct his whole thoughts and efforts, to 
devote his whole life to the accomplishment of such a 
purpose as this : that mortal men may fall out as little as 
possible with each other in the short span of time during 
which they have to live together, that they may have some 
what to eat and drink, and wherewithal to clothe them 
selves, until they make way for another generation, which 
again shall eat, and drink, and clothe itself, this business 
would appear to a noble mind a vocation most unworthy of 
its nature. The Ruler, after our idea of him, is secure 
against this view of his calling. Through the idea of 
human life by which he is animated, the Race among 
whom he practises his vocation is likewise ennobled. He 
who has constantly to keep in view the infirmities and 
weaknesses of men, who has to watch their daily course, 
and who has frequent opportunities of observing their 
general meanness and corruption, and who sees nothing 
more than these, cannot be much disposed to honour or to 
love them ; and indeed those powerful spirits who have 
filled the most prominent places among men, but have not 
been penetrated by true religious feeling, have at no time 
been known to bestow much honour or respect upon their 
Race. The Ruler, after our idea of him, in his estimate of 
mankind looks beyond that which they are in the actual 
world, to that which they are in the Divine Idea to that 


which therefore they may be, ought to be, and one day 
assuredly will be ; and he is thus filled with reverence for a 
Race called to so high a destiny. Love is not required of 
him ; nay, if you think deeper of it, it is even a kind of 
arrogance for a Ruler to presume to love the whole Human 
Race, or even his own nation, to assure it of his love, and, 
as it were, make it dependent on his kindness. A Ruler 
such as we have described is free from such presumption : 
his reverence for humanity, as the image and protected 
child of God, does more than overpower it. 

He looks upon his vocation as the Divine Will with 
regard to the Human Race ; he looks upon its practice as 
the Divine Will with regard to himself the present indi 
vidual ; he recognises in himself one of the first and imme 
diate servants of God, one of the material organs through 
which God enters into communion with reality. Not that 
this thought excites him to vain self-exaltation ; he who 
is penetrated by the Idea has in it lost his personality, and 
he has no longer remaining any feeling of self, except that 
of employing his personal existence truly and conscienti 
ously in his high vocation. He knows that it is not of 
himself that he has this intuition of the Idea and the power 
which accompanies it, but that he has received them ; he 
knows that he can add nothing to what has been given him 
except its honest and conscientious use ; he knows that the 
humblest of men can do this in the same degree as he him 
self can do it, and that the latter has the same value in the 
sight of God which he himself should have in the same sta 
tion. All outward rank and elevation above other men 
which have been given not to his person but to his dignity, 
and which are but conditions of the possession of this dig 
nity, these will not dazzle him who seeks to deserve high 
er and more substantial distinctions. In a word : he looks 
upon his calling, not as a friendly service which he renders 
to the world, but as his absolute personal duty and obliga 
tion, by the performance of which alone he obtains, main 
tains, and repays his personal existence, and without which 
he would pass away into nothing. 


This view of his calling as the Divine Will in him, sup 
ports and justifies him before himself in an important diffi 
culty, which must very often occur to him who conscien 
tiously follows this vocation, and makes his step firm, deter 
mined, and unwavering. In no circumstances indeed should 
the individual, considered strictly as an individual, be sacri 
ficed to the Whole; however unimportant the individual, 
however great the Whole and the interest of the Whole 
which is at stake. But the parts of the Whole must often 
be placed in peril on account of the Whole ; peril by which, 
and not by the Ruler, its victims are selected from among 
individual men. How could a Ruler who recognises no 
other destiny for the Human Race but happiness here be 
low, and looks upon himself only as the kind guardian of 
that happiness, how could he answer before his conscience 
for the danger and possible sacrifice of any individual vic 
tim, since that individual must have had as good a claim to 
happiness as any other ? How could such a Ruler, for ex 
ample, answer before his conscience for determining upon a 
just war, a war undertaken for the support of the national 
independence threatened either immediately or prospective- 
ly ? for the victims who should fall in such a war, and for 
the manifold evils thereby inflicted on humanity ? The 
Ruler who sees a Divine Purpose in his vocation stands firm 
and immovable before all these doubts, overtaken by no un 
manly weakness. Is the war just ? then it is Will of God 
that there should be war ; and it is God s will with him that 
he resolve upon it. Whatever may fall a sacrifice to it, it is 
still the Divine Will that chooses the sacrifice. God has the 
most perfect right over all human life and human hapiness, 
for both have proceeded from him and both return to him ; 
and in his creation nothing can be lost. So also in the 
business of legislation. There must be a general law, and 
this law must be administered absolutely without exception. 
The universality of the law cannot be given up for the sake 
of one individual who thinks his case so peculiar that he is 
aggrieved by the strict enforcement of the law, even al 
though his allegation may have some truth in it. Let him 


bring the small injustice which is done to himself as an of 
fering to the general support of justice among men. 

The Divine Idea, ruling in the Ruler, and through him 
moulding the condition of his age and nation, now becomes 
his sole and peculiar Life ; which indeed is the case with 
the Idea under any form in which it may enter the soul ol 
man ; he cannot have, nor permit, nor endure, any Life 
within him except this Life. He comprehends this Life 
with clear consciousness as the immediate life and energy 
of God within him, as the fulfilment of the Divine Will in 
and by his person. It is unnecessary to repeat the proofs 
which we have already adduced in general, that through 
this consciousness his thought is sanctified, transfigured, 
and bathed in the Divinity. Every man needs Religion, 
every man may acquire it, and with it every man 
may obtain Blessedness ; most of all, as we have seen 
above, docs the Ruler need it. Unless he clothe his 
calling in the light of Religion, he can never pursue it with 
a good conscience. Without this, nothing remains for him 
but either thoughtlessness and a mere mechanical fulfilment 
of his vocation, without giving account to himself of its rea 
sonableness or justice ; or if not thoughtlessness, then 
want of principle, obduracy, insensibility, hatred and con 
tempt of the Human Race. 

The Idea, thus moulded on the Divine Life, lives in his 
life instead of his own personality. It alone moves him, 
nothing else in its room. His personality has long since dis 
appeared in the Idea, how then can any motive now arise 
from it ? He lives in honour, transfused in God to work His 
Eternal Will, how then can fame, the judgment of mortal 
and perishable men, have any significance for him ? Devoted 
to the Idea with his whole being, how can he ever seek to 
pamper or to spare himself ? His person, all personality, 
has disappeared in the Divine Idea of universal order. 
That order is his ever-present thought; only through it does 
he conceive of individual men: hence neither friend nor foe, 
neither favourite nor adversary, finds a place before him ; 

E a 


but all alike, and he himself with them, are lost for ever 
in the thought of the independence and equality of all. 

The Idea alone moves him, and where it does not move 
him, there he has no life, but remains quiescent and inactive. 
He will never rouse himself to energy and labour merely 
that something may come to pass, or that he may gain a re 
putation for activity ; for his desire is not merely that some 
thing may come to pass, but that the will of the Idea may 
be accomplished. Until it speaks, he too is silent ; he has 
no voice but for it. He does not respect old things because 
they are old ; but as little does he desire novelty for its own 
sake. He looks for what is better and more perfect than the 
present ; until this rises before him clearly and distinctly, 
so long as change would lead only to difference, not im 
provement, he remains inactive, and concedes to the old 
the privilege it derives from ancient possession. 

In this way does the Idea possess and pervade him with 
out intermission or reserve, and there remains nothing 
either of his person or his life that does not burn a perpe 
tual offering before its altar. And thus is he the most di 
rect manifestation of God in the world. 

That there is a God, is made evident by a very little 
serious reflection upon the outward world. We must end 
at last by resting all existence which demands an extrinsic 
foundation, upon a Being the fountain of whose life is with 
in Himself; by allying the fugitive phenomena which colour 
the stream of time with ever-changing hues to an eter 
nal and unchanging essence. But in the life of Divine Men 
the Godhead is manifest in the flesh, reveals itself to im 
mediate vision, and is perceptible even to outward sense. 
In their life the unchangeableness of God manifests itself in 
the firmness and intrepidity of human will which no power 
can force from its destined path. In it the essential light 
of the Divinity manifests itself in human comprehension of 
all finite things in the One which endures for ever. In it 
the energy of God reveals itself, not in directly surrounding 
the Human Race with happiness which is not its object 
but in ordering, elevating, and ennobling it. A Godlike 


life is the most decisive proof which man can give of the 
being of a God. 

It is the business of all mankind to see that the convic 
tion of the Divine Existence, without which the very essence 
of their own being passes away into nothing, shall never 
perish and disappear from among them ; above all, it is 
the business of the Kulers as the highest disposers of hu 
man affairs. It is not their part to bring forward the theo 
retical proof from human reason, or to regulate the mode in 
which this proof shall be adduced by the second class of 
Scholars ; but the practical proof, in their own lives, and 
that in the highest degree, devolves peculiarly upon them. 
If firm and intrepid will, if clear and all-comprehending 
vision, if a spirit of order and nobility speak to us in their 
conduct, then in their works do we see God face to face, and 
need no other proof: GOD is, we will say, for they are, 
and He in them. 




BESIDES those possessors of the Idea, whose business it is, 
by guiding and ordering the affairs of men, to introduce the 
Idea immediately into life, there is yet another class those, 
namely, who are peculiarly and by preeminence called Scho 
lars, who manifest the Idea directly in spiritual conceptions, 
and whose calling it is to maintain among men the convic 
tion that there is, in truth, a Divine Idea accessible to hu 
man thought, to raise this Idea unceasingly to greater clear 
ness and precision, and thus to transmit it from generation 
to generation fresh and radiant in ever -renewed youth. 

This latter Vocation again divides itself into two very 
different callings, according to the primary object contem 
plated by them, and the mode of its attainment. Either 
the minds of men are to be trained and cultivated to a 
capacity for receiving the Idea ; or the Idea itself is to be 
produced in a definite form for those who are already pre 
pared for its reception. The first calling has particular men 
for its primary and immediate objects; in it the only use 
which is made of the Idea is as a means of training and cul 
tivating these men so that they may become capable of 
comprehending the Idea by their own independent effort, 
It follows that, in this calling, regard must be had solely to 
the men who are to be cultivated, the degree of their culti 
vation, and their capacity of being cultivated; and that an 
influence is valuable here only in so far as it may be ef 
ficiently applied to those individuals upon whom it is di- 


rected. The second has for its object the Idea itself, and the 
fashioning of the Idea into distinct conceptions, and has no 
reference whatever to any subjective disposition or capacity 
of men ; its business is prosecuted with no view to any but 
those who are capable of comprehending the Idea in the 
form thus given to it ; the work itself settles and deter 
mines who shall receive it, and it is only addressed to those 
who can comprehend it. The first object will be best and 
most fitly attained by the verbal discourses of the Teacher ; 
the second by literary writings. 

Both these callings belong to the vocation of the Scho 
lar in its proper and highest sense, and not to the subordi 
nate Scholar-occupations, which devolve upon a man only 
because he has riot attained the proper end of his studies. 
He who prosecutes his studies conscientiously, and so ac 
quires a conviction of the importance of the vocation of the 
Scholar, but yet does not feel within himself a clear con 
sciousness of the capacity to fulfil it, shows that he recog 
nises its sacred character by not undertaking it ; he who 
does undertake it, manifests the same conviction by exercis 
ing it worthily. In the next lecture we shall speak of the 
true Author ; to-day we shall discourse of the upright 
Teacher of future Scholars. 

The Teachers and Educators of those who devote them 
selves to the occupation of the Scholar may be divided into 
two classes : they are Teachers either in the lower Schools 
of learning, or in the higher or Universities. Not without 
deliberation do I class the Teachers in the lower Schools 
among true and not subaltern Scholars, and therefore de 
mand of them that they attain possession of the Idea, and 
be penetrated by it, if not with perfect light, yet with liv 
ing warmth. He who is destined to study will, even while 
a boy, surround himself invisibly with the Idea and with its 
.sanctity, and bathe his whole being in its influence. No 
thing from which any ideal result may one day unfold it 
self will be pursued by him as a piece of vulgar handicraft, 
or used as a means to the attainment of a partial object. 
Happily the objects which are peculiar to these Schools are 


of such a nature as to elevate him who pursues them tho 
roughly and conscientiously, and through him those who 
are committed to his care, above vulgar modes of thought ; 

did but the outward circumstances of the Teacher answer 

to his dignity, and his independence and station in society 
correspond with his most honourable calling. The objects of 
school-instruction, I said. In a fundamental study of Lan 
guage, pursued, as it must be, amid old modes of speech, far 
removed from our habits of thought, a deeper insight into 
ideas is gained ; and from the works of the Ancients, by 
means of which this study is pursued, an excellent and en 
nobling spirit speaks to the youthful mind. For this reason, 
the Teacher in these lower Schools should be a partaker oi 
the Idea, because it is his task imperceptibly to familiarize 
the youth with the high and noble before he is able to dis 
tinguish these from the vulgar, to accustom him to these, 
and to estrange him from the low and ignoble. Thus 
guarded in his early years, and thus prepared for higher 
progress, the youth enters the University. Here, for the 
first time, can he be clearly taught, and led to comprehend 
and acknowledge that which I have endeavoured to utter 
to you in these lectures, that our whole race has its only 
true existence in the Divine Thought that its only worth 
consists in its harmony with this Divine Thought, and that 
the class of Scholars has therein an existence only to the 
end that they may comprehend this Divine Thought and im 
print it on the world. At the University the Student first 
receives a clear idea of the nature and dignity of that voca 
tion to which his life has been devoted beforehand. He 
must obtain that clear idea here : the Teacher in the lower 
Schools may look forward to another education for his pu 
pils, and he counts upon that ; but the Academic Teacher 
has no higher instruction to calculate upon, except that 
which the Progressive Scholar may bestow upon himself, 
to the capacity for which, however, the Teacher must train 
him so that he may have it in his power to become his own 
instructor; once released from the lecture-room he is com 
mitted to himself and to the world. Herein, therefore, lies 


the characteristic difference between the lower and the 
higher Schools, that at the lower School the youth has 
only a presentiment of his vocation, while at the University 
he clearly comprehends and recognises it ; and from this 
distinction the specific duties of the Teacher in the respec 
tive institutions may easily be deduced. 

The Academic Teacher, of whom chiefly we have to speak, 
ought to train the Student who has already been made ac 
quainted with the nature and dignity of his calling, to the 
capacity of receiving the Idea, and the power of developing 
it from his own consciousness, and giving it a form peculiar 
to himself: he should do all this if he can. But in every 
case, and unconditionally, he must fill the Student with res 
pect and veneration for the proper calling of the Scholar. 
The first object of all study, to lay hold of the Idea from a 
new and peculiar point of view, is by no means to be given 
up either by the Student himself, or by the Teacher on his 
behalf; but it is nevertheless possible that it may not be 
attained, and both must reconcile themselves beforehand to 
this possibility. Should this first object of study remain 
unaccomplished, the Student may still become a useful, 
worthy, and upright man. But the second object of study, 
that he acquire a reverence for the Idea during his efforts 
to attain it, that on account of this reverence he forbear 
from undertaking anything for which he does not know 
himself to be qualified, that he consecrate himself to the 
service of the Idea, at least by permanently cherishing this 
reverence for what is unattainable by him, and contributing 
to the extent of his ability to maintain such a reverence 
among men; this object is never to be relinquished; for 
were it not attained, then, through the very fact of his hav 
ing studied, would his dignity as a man be lost, and he 
would sink the deeper in consequence of the height to 
which he ought to have risen. The attainment by the Stu 
dent of the first object of study is, to the Academic Teacher, 
a conditional duty, conditioned by the possibility of its ful 
filment. The attainment of the second he must ever look 
upon and acknowledge as his unconditional duty, which he 


must never deliberately relinquish. It may indeed happen 
that he cannot accomplish even this, but he must never 
admit a doubt of its ultimate attainment. 

What, then, can the Academic Teacher do for the attain 
ment of this second object ? I answer, he can do nothing 
for it exclusively ; he can do nothing else than that which 
he must do for the first and higher object by itself. In pur 
suing and attaining the second, he is advancing to the at 
tainment of the first. Would he inculcate upon his pupils 
reverence for Knowledge ? they will not believe him if he 
do not himself exhibit in his whole life the deep reverence 
which he recommends to them. Would he thoroughly im 
press them with this reverence ? let him teach it, not in 
words only, but in deeds ; let him be himself the living ex 
ample, the abiding illustration, of the principles which he 
desires them to accept as the guides of their life. He has 
described to them the Nature of the Scholar s vocation as a 
manifestation of the Divine Idea, he has told them that 
this Idea entirely pervades the True Scholar, and establishes 
its peculiar life, in place of his own, within him ; perhaps 
he has even told them by what precise way he himself, for 
his part, has to fulfil the purposes of Knowledge, and in 
what his peculiar calling, as an Academic Teacher, consists. 
Let him show himself before them in his proper and essen 
tial character, as devoted to his vocation, as a perpetual 
offering before -its altar, and they will learn to comprehend 
that Knowledge is a sacred thing. 

The duties of the Academic Teacher are not indeed 
changed by this aspect of his vocation ; for, as we have said, 
he can do nothing for the attainment of the latter object 
but what he must have done for the former and higher, by 
itself; but his own view of his calling becomes thereby 
more confirmed and immovable. Although it should not 
immediately become visible and evident to him that he has 
attained his peculiar object, of leading those who are en 
trusted to his care from mere passive dependence to spon 
taneous activity, from the dead letter to the living spirit ; 
yet will he not suppose that he has laboured in vain. To 


Academic Study must succeed that peculiar and essential 
study to which the first is but a preparative. He can never 
know that he has not roused a powerful determination to 
this study, that he has not thrown into the soul some 
sparks which, though now unapparent, will blaze forth at the 
proper time. Even in the worst possible event, that he 
has not accomplished even so much as this, his activity 
has still another object; and if he has done something for it, 
his labour has not been utterly lost. If he has, at least, up 
held, and in some breasts quickened or renewed, the faith 
that there is something worthy of the reverence of men; that 
by industry and faithfulness men may elevate themselves to 
the contemplation of this object of reverence, and in this 
contemplation become strong and blessed; if some have only 
had their occupation made holier in their eyes, so that they 
may approach it with somewhat less levity than before ; if 
he can venture to hope that some have left his hall, if not 
precisely with more light, yet with more modesty than they 
entered it ; then he has not laboured wholly in vain. 

We said, that the Academic Teacher becomes an example 
of reverence for Knowledge, by showing himself to be 
thoroughly and entirely penetrated by and devoted to his 
calling, an instrument consecrated to its service. 

What does this calling demand ? Is the Academic 
Teacher to prepare men for the reception of the Idea? then 
he must himself know the Idea, have attained it, and be 
possessed by it ; otherwise how could he recognise in others 
the capacity for receiving that to which he himself is a 
stranger? He must first have cultivated this capacity in 
himself, and have a distinct and clear consciousness of pos 
sessing it; for it can be recognised only by him who truly 
and immediately possesses it, and the art of acquiring it can 
be understood only by him who has personally acquired it. 
He can cultivate this capacity in men only by means of the 
Idea itself, by presenting it to them, and accustoming them 
to it, in all its varied forms and applications. The nature of 
the Idea is peculiar to itself, and differs wholly from all that 
is merely mechanical in knowledge ; only by its reception 



can man cultivate the power of receiving it. By the me 
chanical communication of knowledge man may become 
versed in such mechanism, but can never be raised to the 
Idea. It is an obligation from which the Academic Teacher 
cannot be released, that he shall have comprehended the 
Idea with perfect clearness as Idea ; that, in the Idea, he 
shall have also comprehended the particular branch of 
Knowledge which he cultivates, and through the Idea have 
understood the true nature, meaning, and purpose of this 
branch of Knowledge; and even his particular science is on 
no account to be taught merely for its own sake, but be 
cause it is a form or aspect of the one Idea ; and in order 
that this form may be tested by the Student, and he be 
tested by it. If, at the conclusion of his university training 
it were found that even then the Student could not be made 
to comprehend the true nature of study, then study would 
altogether disappear from the world ; there would be study 
no longer, but the number of handicrafts would be in 
creased. He who is not conscious of a living and clear com 
prehension of the Idea, and is at the same time an upright 
and honourable man, will forbear to assume the vocation of 
the Academic Teacher. He will thus show his respect for 
that vocation the nature of which he must have learned in 
the course of his studies. 

The vocation of the Academic Teacher requires him to 
communicate the Idea, not as the Author does, abstractly, 
and in the one perfect conception under which it presents 
itself to his own mind, but he must mould, express, and 
clothe it in an infinite variety of forms, so that he may bring 
it home, under some one or other of those adventitious ves 
tures, to those by whose present state of culture he must be 
guided in the exercise of his calling. He must thus possess 
the Idea, not as a mere abstraction, but in great vitality, 
power, and flexibility. Above all, he must possess that 
which we have already described as the creative or artist- 
talent of the Scholar ; namely, a perfect readiness and capa 
city to recognise, under any circumstances, the first germ of 
the Idea as it begins to unfold itself; in each individual 


case to discover the most suitable means of aiding it to the 
attainment of perfect life, and in all cases to associate it 
with a kindred form. The Author may possess only one 
form for his Idea, if that form be perfect, he has fulfilled 
his duty; the Academic Teacher must possess an infinite 
multiplicity of forms, it is not his business to discover the 
most perfect form, but to find that which is most suitable to 
particular circumstances. A good Academic Teacher must 
be capable of being also an excellent Author if he choose ; 
but it does not follow that, on the other hand, a good 
Author should also be a good Academic Teacher. Yet this 
skill and versatility exist in different degrees, and he is not 
to be entirely excluded from the Academic calling who does 
not possess them in the highest degree. 

From this skill which is required of the Academic 
Teacher in the embodiment of the Idea, there arises another 
demand upon him, this, namely, that his mode of commu 
nication shall be always new, and bear upon it the mark of 
fresh and present life. Only living and present thought can 
enter other minds and quicken other thought: a dead, worn- 
out form, let it have been ever so living at a former time, 
must be called back to life by the power of others as well as 
its own ; the Author has a right to require this from his 
readers, but the Academic Teacher, who in this matter is 
not an Author, has no right to demand it. 

The upright and conscientious man, as surely as he ac 
cepts this calling, and so long as he continues to practise it, 
gives himself up entirely to its fulfilment; willing, thinking, 
desiring nothing else than to be that which, according to 
his own conviction, he ought to be ; and thus he shows 
openly his reverence for Knowledge. 

For Knowledge, I say, as such, and because it is Know 
ledge, for Knowledge in the abstract, as the Divine Idea 
one and homogeneous through all the different forms and 
modes in which it is revealed. It is quite possible that a 
Scholar who has devoted his life to a particular department 
of knowledge may entertain a prepossession in favour of 
that department and be apt to esteem it above all others, 


either because he has accustomed himself to it, or because 
he thinks that his more distinguished calling may reflect 
some of its lustre upon himself. Whatever ability such an 
one may bring to the cultivation of his own department, he 
will never present to the unprejudiced spectator the picture 
of one who reveres Knowledge for its own sake, and will 
never persuade the acute observer that he does so, whilst 
he shows less respect for other departments of knowledge 
which are as essential as his own. It will only thereby be 
come evident that he has never conceived of Knowledge as 
one perfect whole, that he does not think of his own de 
partment as a portion of this whole, hence that he does not 
love his own department as Knowledge, but only as a handi 
craft; which love for a handicraft may indeed be praise 
worthy enough elsewhere, but in the domain of Knowledge 
excludes him entirely from any right to the name of a Scho 
lar. He who, although labouring in a limited province, has 
become a partaker of Knowledge as a whole, and accepts his 
own calling as but a part thereof, may perhaps have little 
even historical acquaintance with other provinces, but he 
has a general conception of the nature of all others, and will 
constantly exhibit an equal reverence for all. 

Let this love of his vocation and of Knowledge be the 
sole guide of his life, visible to all men ; let him be moved 
by nothing else; regarding no personal interest either of 
himself or of others. Here as elsewhere, I shall say nothing 
of the common and vulgar desires which may not enter the 
circle of him who has approached arid handled the sacred 
things of Knowledge. I shall not suppose it possible, for 
instance, that a Priest of Knowledge, who seeks to conse 
crate other Priests to her service, should refrain from saying 
to them something which they do not hear willingly, in 
order that they may continue to hear him willingly. Yet I 
may perhaps be permitted to mention one error not quite 
so ignoble and vulgar, and to hold up its opposite to your 
view. In every word uttered by the Academic Teacher in 
the exercise of his calling, let it be Knowledge that speaks, 
let it be his longings to extend her dominions, let it be 


his deep love for his hearers, not as his hearers, but as the 
future ministers of Knowledge : Knowledge, and these liv 
ing desires to extend her dominion, let these speak, not the 
Teacher. An effort to speak for the mere sake of speaking, 
to speak finely for the sake of fine speaking, and that 
others may know of it, the disease of word-makino- 


sounding words, in which nevertheless no idea is audible, 
is consistent with no man s dignity, and least of all with 
that of the Academic Teacher, who represents the dignity of 
Knowledge to future generations. 

Let him resign himself entirely to this love of his voca 
tion and of Knowledge. The peculiar nature of his occupa 
tion consists in this, that Knowledge, and especially that 
side of Knowledge from which he conceives of the whole, 
shall continually burst forth from him in new and fairer 
forms. Let this fresh spiritual youth never grow old within 
him ; let no form become fixed and rigid ; let each sunrise 
bring him new love for his vocation, new joy in its exercise, 
and wider views of its significance. The Divine Idea is 
fixed and determined in his mind, all its individual parts 
are likewise determined. The particular form of its expres 
sion for a particular Age may also be determined ; but the 
living movement of its communication is infinite as the 
growth of the Human Race. Let no one continue in this 
calling in whom the mode of this communication, although 
it may have been the most perfect of his Age, begins to grow 
old and formal, none in whom the fountain of youth does 
not still flow on with unimpaired vigour. Let him faithfully 
trust himself to its current so long as it will bear him for 
ward : when it leaves him, then let him be content to retire 
from this ever-shifting scene of onward being ; let him 
separate the dead from the living. 

It was a necessary part of the plan which I marked out 
to you, to treat of the dignity of the Academic Teacher. I 
hope that in doing so I have exhibited the same strictness 
with which I have spoken of the other subjects which have 
fallen under our notice, without allowing myself to be se 
duced into any lenity towards it by the consideration that I 


myself practise the calling of which I have spoken, and that 
I have practised it even in speaking of it. Whence I have 
derived this firmness, on what feeling it rests, you may 
inquire at another time ; it is sufficient for you now to un 
derstand clearly, that Truth, in every possible application 
of it, still remains true. 



To complete our survey of the vocation of the Scholar, we 
have to-day only to consider that department of it which 
belongs to the Author. 

I have hitherto contented myself with clearly setting 
forth the True Idea of the special subjects of our inquiry, 
without turning aside to cast a single glance at the actual 
state of things in the present age. It is almost impossible 
to proceed in this way with the subject which I am to dis 
cuss to-day. The Idea of the Author is almost unknown in 
our age, and something most unworthy usurps its name. 
This is the peculiar disgrace of the age, the true source of 
all its other scientific evils. The inglorious has become 
glorious, and is encouraged, honoured, and rewarded. 

According to the almost universally received opinion, it is 
a merit and an honour for a man to have printed something 
merely because he has printed it, and without any regard to 
what it is which he has printed, and what may be its result. 
They, too, lay claim to the highest rank in the republic of 
letters "who announce the fact that somebody has printed 
something and what that something is ; or, as the phrase 
goes, who "review" the works of others. It is almost inex 
plicable how such an absurd opinion could have arisen and 
taken root when we consider the subject in its true light. 

Thus stands the matter: In the latter half of the past 
century Reading took the place of some other amusements 
which had gone out of fashion. This new luxury demanded, 


from time to time, new fancy goods; for it is of course quite 
impossible that one should read over again what one has 
read already, or those things which our forefathers have read 
before us; just as it would be altogether unbecoming to 
appear frequently in fashionable society in the same cos 
tume, or to dress according to the notions of one s grand 
father. The new want gave birth to a new trade, striving 
to nourish and enrich itself by purveying the wares now in 
demand, namely, Bookselling. The success of those who 
first undertook this trade encouraged others to engage in it, 
until, in our own days, it has come to this, that this mode 
of obtaining a livelihood is greatly overstocked and the 
quantity of these goods produced is much too large in pro 
portion to the consumers. The book-merchant, like the 
dealer in any other commodity, orders his goods from the 
manufacturer, solely with the view of bringing them to the 
market ; at times also he buys uncommissioned goods 
which have been manufactured only on speculation; and 
the Author who writes for the sake of writing is this manu 
facturer. It is impossible to conceive why the book-manu 
facturer should take predecence of any other manufacturer ; 
he ought rather to feel that he is far inferior to any other 
manufacturer, inasmuch as the luxury to which he ministers 
is more pernicious than any other. That he find a mer 
chant for his wares may indeed be useful and profitable to 
him, but how it should be an honour is not readily discover 
able. Of course, on the judgment of the publisher, which is 
only a judgment on the saleableness or unsaleableness of 
the goods, no value can be set. 

Amid this bustle and pressure of the literary trade, a 
happy thought struck some one ; this, namely, out of all 
the books which were printed, to make one periodical book, 
so that the reader of this book might be spared the trouble 
of reading any other. It was fortunate that this last pur 
pose was not completely successful, and that everybody did 
not take to reading this book exclusively, since then no 
others would have been purchased, and consequently no 
others printed ; so that this book too, being constantly de- 


pendent upon other books for the possibility of its own exis 
tence, must likewise have remained unprinted. 

He who undertook such a work, which is commonly 
called a Literary Journal, Literary Gazette, &c. &c., had the 
advantage of seeing his work increase by the charitable 
contributions of many anonymous individuals, and of thus 
earning honour and profit by the labour of others. To veil 
his own poverty of ideas, he pretended to pass judgment on 
the authors whom he quoted, a shallow pretence to the 
thinker who looks below the surface. For either the book 
is as most books are at present a bad book, printed only 
that there might be one more book in the world ; and in 
this case it ought never to have been written, and is a nul 
lity, and consequently the judgment upon it is a nullity 
also; or, the book is a true Literary Work, such as we 
shall presently describe; and then it is the result of a whole 
powerful life devoted to Art or Science, and so would re 
quire another whole life as powerful as the first to be em 
ployed in its judgment. On such a work it is not alto 
gether possible to pass a final judgment in a couple of 
sheets, within three or six months after its appearance. 
How can there be any honour in contributing to such col 
lections ? True genius, on the contrary, will rather employ 
itself on a connected work, originated and planned out by 
itself, than allow the current of its thoughts to be interrupt 
ed by every accident of the day until that interruption is 
again broken by some new occurrence. The disposition con 
tinually to watch the thoughts of others, and on these 
thoughts, please God, to hang our own attempts at thinking, 
is a certain sign of immaturity, and of a weak and depen 
dent mind. Or does the honour consist in this, that the 

conductors of such works should consider us capable of fill 
ing the office of judge and actually make it over to us ? In 
reality their opinion goes no deeper than that of a common 
unlettered printer, of the saleableness or unsaleableness of 
the goods, and of the outward reputation which may there 
by accrue to their critical establishment. 

I am aware that what I have now said may seem very 

o a 


paradoxical. All of us who are connected in any way with 
Knowledge, which in this connexion may be termed Litera 
ture, grow up in the notion that literary industry is a bless 
ing, an advantage, an honourable distinction of our culti 
vated and philosophical age; and but few have power to see 
through its supposed advantages and resolve them into 
their essential nothingness. The only apparent reason 
which can be adduced in defence of such perverted industry 
is, in my opinion, this : that thereby an extensive literary 
public is kept alive, roused to attention, and, as it were, 
held together ; so that, should anything of real value and 
importance be brought before it, this public shall be found 
already existing, and not have to be first called together. 
But I answer, that, in the first place, the means appear 
much too extensive for the end contemplated, it seems too 
great a sacrifice that many generations should spend their 
time upon nothing, in order that some future generation 
inay be enabled to occupy itself with something / -and 
further, it is by no means true that a public is only kept 
alive by this perverse activity ; it is at the same time per 
verted, vitiated, and ruined for the appreciation of anything 
truly valuable. Much that is excellent has made its appear 
ance in our age, I shall instance only the Kantian Philo 
sophy, but this very activity of the literary market has 
destroyed, perverted, and degraded it, so that its spirit has 
fled, and now only a ghost of it stalks about which no one 
can venerate. 

The Literary History of our own day shows the real 
thinker how writing for writing s sake may be honoured and 
applauded. A few Authors only excepted, our Literary Men 
have in their own writings borne worse testimony against 
themselves than any one else could have given against 
them ; and no even moderately well-disposed person would 
be inclined to consider the writers of our day so shallow, 
perverse, and spiritless, as the majority show themselves in 
their works. The only way to retain any respect for the age } 
any desire to influence it, is this, to assume that those who 
proclaim their opinions aloud are inferior men, and that 


only among those who keep silence some may be found 
who are capable of teaching better things. 

Thus, when I speak of the Literary Vocation, it is not the 
Literary Trade of the age which I mean, but something 
quite other than that. 

I have already set forth the Idea of the Author when dis 
tinguishing it from that of the Oral Teacher of Progressive 

O O 

Scholars. Both have to express and communicate the Idea 
in language : the latter, for particular individuals by whose 
capacity for receiving it he must be guided ; the former, 
without regard to any individual and in the most perfect 
form which can be given to it in his age. 

The Author must embody the Idea, he must therefore 
be a partaker of the Idea. All Literary Works are either 
works of Art or of Science. Whatever maybe the subject 
of a work of the first class, it is evident that since it has no 
direct significance of its own, and thus teaches the reader 
nothing, it can only awaken the Idea itself within him and 
furnish it with a fitting embodiment ; otherwise it would be 
but an empty play of words and have no real meaning. What 
ever may be the subject of a scientific work, the Author of such 
a work must not conceive of Knowledge in a mere histori 
cal fashion, and only as received from others ; he must for 
himself have spiritually penetrated to the Idea of Know 
ledge on some one of its sides, and produce it in a self-crea 
tive, new, and hitherto unknown form. If he be but a link 
in the chain of historical tradition, and can do no more than 
hand down to others the knowledge which he himself has 
received, and only in the form in which it already exists in 
Borne work whence he has obtained it, then let him leave 
others in peace to draw from this fountain whence he al 
so has drawn. What need is there of his officious inter 
meddling ? To do over again that which has been done 
already, is to do nothing ; and no man who possesses com 
mon honesty and conscientiousness will allow himself to in 
dulge in such idleness. Can the Age, then, furnish him with 
no occupation which is suited to his powers, that he must 
thus employ himself in doing what he ought not to do ? It 


is not necessary that he should write an entirely new work in 
any branch of Knowledge, but only a better work than any 
hitherto existing. He who cannot do this should absolutely 
not write ; it is a crime a want of honesty to do so, which 
at the most can only be excused by his thoughtlessness and 
utter want of any true understanding of the vocation which 
he assumes. 

He must express the Idea in language, in a generally in 
telligible manner, in a perfect form. The Idea must there 
fore have become in him so clear, living, and independent, 
that it already clothes itself to him in words ; and, penetrat 
ing to the innermost spirit of his language, frames from 
thence a vesture for itself by its own inherent power. The 
Idea itself must speak, not the Author. His will, his indi 
viduality, his peculiar method and art, must disappear from 
his page, so that only the method and art of his Idea may 
live the highest life which it can attain in his language and 
in his time. As he is free from the obligation under which the 
Oral Teacher lies, to accommodate himself to the capacities 
of others, so he has not this apology to plead before him 
self. He has no specific reader in view, he himself must 
mould his reader and lay down to him the law which he 
must obey. There may be printed productions addressed 
only to a certain age and a certain circle, we shall see 
afterwards under what conditions such writings may be 
necessary; but these do not belong to the class of essentially 
Literary Works of which we now speak, but are printed dis 
courses, printed because the circle to which they are ad 
dressed cannot be brought together. 

In order that in this way the Idea may in his person be 
come master of his language, it is necessary that he shall 
first have acquired a mastery over that language. The Idea 
does not rule the language directly, but only through him as 
possessor of the language. This indispensable mastery of 
the Author over his language is only acquired by prepara 
tory exercises, long continued and persevered in, which are 
studies for future works but have no essential value in 
themselves, which the conscientious Scholar writes indeed, 


but will never allow to be printed. It requires, I say, long 
and persevering exercise; but, happily, these conditions mu* 
tually promote each other ; as the Idea becomes more 
vivid language spontaneously appears, and as facility of 
expression is increased the Idea flows forth -in greater 

These are the first and most necessary conditions of all 
true Authorship. The Idea itself, that of expressing his 
Idea in true and appropriate language, is that which lives, 
and alone lives in him within whom the presentiment has 

arisen that he may one day send forth a Literary Work 

it is this which animates him in his preparations and 
studies^for that work, as well as in the future completion of 
his design. 

By this Idea he is inspired with a dignified and sacred 
conception of the Literary calling. The work of the Oral 
Teacher is, in its immediate application, only a work for the 
time, modified by the degree of culture possessed by those 
who are entrusted to his care. Only in so far as he can 
venture to suppose that he is moulding future Teachers 
worthy of their calling, who, in their turn, will train others 
for the same task, and so on without end, can he regard 
himself as working for Eternity. But the work of the 
Author is in itself & work for Eternity. Even should future 
ages transcend the Knowledge which is revealed in his 
work, still in that work he has not recorded his knowledge 
alone, but also the fixed and settled character of a certain 
age in its relation to Knowledge ; and this will preserve its 
interest so long as the human race endures. Independent 
of all vicissitude and change, his pages speak in every age 
to all men who are able to realize his thought; and thus 
continue their inspiring, elevating, and ennobling work, even 
to the end of time. 

The Idea, in this its acknowledged sacredness, moves him, 
and it alone moves him. He does not believe that he 
has attained anything until he has attained all until his 
work stands before him in the purity and perfectness which 
he has striven to attain. Devoid of love for his own person, 


faithfully devoted to the Idea by which he is constantly 
guided, he recognises with certain glance, and in its true 
character, every trace of his former nature which remains in 
his expression of the Idea, and unceasingly strives to free 
himself from it. So long as he is not conscious of this abso 
lute freedom and purity, he has not attained his end, but 
still works on. In such an age as we have already de 
scribed, in which the communication of Knowledge has 
greatly increased, and has even fallen into the hands of 
some who are better fitted for any other occupation than 
for this, it may be necessary for him to give some prelimi 
nary account of his labours ; other modes of communica 
tion, too, that of the Teacher for instance, may present 
themselves to him ; but he will never put forth these occa 
sional writings for anything else than what they are, pre 
liminary announcements adapted to a certain age and cer 
tain circumstances ; he will never regard them as finished 
works, destined for immortality. 

The Idea alone urges him forward; nothing else. All 
personal regards have disappeared from his view. I do not 
speak of his own person, of his having entirely forgotten 
himself in his vocation ; this has been already sufficiently 
set forth. The personality of others has no more weight 
with him than his own when opposed to the truth and the 
Idea. I do not mention that he will not encroach upon the 
rights of other Scholars or Authors in their civic or personal 
relations : that is altogether below his dignity who has to do 
only with realities; it is also below the dignity of these dis 
courses to make mention of that. But this I will remark, 
that he will not allow himself to be restrained, by forbear 
ance towards any person whatever, from demolishing error 
and establishing truth in its place. The worst insult that 
can be offered, even to a half-educated man, is to suppose 
that he can be offended by the exposure of an error which 
he has entertained or the proclamation of a truth which 
has escaped his notice. From this bold and open profession 
of truth, as he perceives it, without regard to any man, he 
will suffer nothing to lead him astray, not even the politely 


expressed contempt of the so-called fashionable world, which 
can conceive of the Literary Vocation only by analogy with 
its own social circles, and would impose the etiquette of the 
Court upon the conduct of the Scholar. 

Here I close these Lectures. If a thought of mine have 
entered into any now present, and shall abide there as a 
guide to higher truth, perhaps it may sometimes awaken 
the memory of these lectures and of me, and only in this 
way do I desire to live in your recollection. 


n a 


WHATEVER in the more recent Philosophy is useful beyond the 
limits of the schools will form the contents of this work, set forth 
in that order in which it would naturally present itself to unscien 
tific thought. The more profound arguments by which the subtle 
objections and extravagances of over-refined minds are to be met, 
whatever is but the foundation of other Positive Science, and 
lastly, whatever belongs to Pedagogy in its widest sense, that is, 
to the deliberate and arbitrary Education of the Human Eace, 
shall remain beyond the limits of our task. These objections are 
not made by the natural understanding; Positive Science it 
leaves to Scholars by profession ; and the Education of the Human 
Race, in so far as that depends upon human effort, to its appointed 
Teachers and Statesmen. 

This book is therefore not intended for philosophers by profes 
sion, who will find nothing in it that has not been already set 
forth in other writings of the same author. It ought to be intelli 
gible to all readers who are able to understand a book at all. To 
those who wish only to repeat, in somewhat varied order, certain 
phrases which they have already learned by rote, and who mistake 
this business of the memory for understanding, it will doubtless be 
found unintelligible. 

Tt ought to attract and animate the reader, and to elevate him 
from the world of sense into a region of transcendental thought ; 


at least the author is conscious that he has not entered upon his 
task without such inspiration. Ofteu, indeed, the fire with which 
we commence an undertaking disappears during the toil of execu 
tion ; and thus, at the conclusion of a work, we are in danger of 
doing ourselves injustice upon this point. In short, whether the 
author has succeeded in attaining his object or not, can be deter 
mined only by the effect which the work shall produce on the 
readers to whom it is addressed, and in this the author has no 

I must, however, remind my reader that the "I" who speaks in 
this book is not the author himself; but it is his earnest wish that 
the reader should himself assume this character, and that he should 
not rest contented with a mere historical apprehension of what is 
here said, but that during reading he should really and truly hold 
converse with himself, deliberate, draw conclusions and form reso 
lutions, like his imaginary representative, and thus, by his own la 
bour and reflection, develope and build up within himself that 
mode of thought the mere picture of which is presented to him in 
the book. 



I BELIEVE that I am now acquainted with no inconsiderable 
part of the world that surrounds me, and I have certainly 
employed sufficient labour and care in the acquisition of this 
knowledge. I have put faith only in the concurrent testi 
mony of my senses, only in repeated and unvarying experi 
ence; what I have beheld, I have touched what I have 
touched, I have analyzed ; I have repeated my observations 
again and again ; I have compared the various phenomena 
with each other; and only when I could understand their 
mutual connexion, when I could explain and deduce the one 
from the other, when I could calculate the result beforehand, 
and the observation of the result had proved the accuracy of 
my calculations, have I been satisfied. Therefore I am now 
as well assured of the accuracy of this part of my knowledge 
as of my own existence ; I walk with a firm step in these 
understood spheres of my world, and do actually every 
moment venture welfare and life itself on the certainty of 
my convictions. 

But what am I myself, and what is my vocation ? 

Superfluous question ! It is long since I have been com 
pletely instructed upon these points, and it would take 
much time to repeat all that I have heard, learned, and 
believed concerning them. 


And in what way then have I attained this knowledge, 
which I have this dim remembrance of acquiring ? Have 
I, impelled by a burning desire of knowledge, toiled on 
through uncertainty, doubt and contradiction ? have I, 
when any belief was presented to me, withheld my assent 
until I had examined and reexamined, sifted and compared 
it, until an inward voice proclaimed to me, irresistibly and 
without the possibility of doubt, " Thus it is thus only 
as surely as thou livest and art!" No! I remember no such 
state of mind. Those instructions were bestowed on me 
before I sought them, the answers were given before I had 
put the questions. I heard, for I could not avoid doing so, 
and what was taught me remained in my memory just as 
chance had disposed it ; without examination and without 
interest I allowed everything to take its place in my mind. 

How then could I persuade myself that I possessed any 
real knowledge upon these matters ? If I know that only 
of which I am convinced, which I have myself discovered, 
myself experienced, then I cannot truly say that I possess 
even the slightest knowledge of my vocation ; I know only 
what others assert they know about it, and all that I am 
really sure of is, that I have heard this or that said upon 
the subject. 

Thus, while I have inquired for myself, with the most 
anxious care, into comparatively trivial matters, I have re 
lied wholly on the care and fidelity of others in things of 
the weightiest importance. I have attributed to others an 
interest in the highest affairs of humanity, an earnestness 
and an exactitude, which I have by no means discovered in 
myself. I have esteemed them indescribably higher than 

Whatever truth they really possess, whence can they have 
obtained it but through their own reflection ? And why 
may not I, by means of the same reflection, discover the like 
truth for myself, since I too have a being as well as they ? 


How much have I hitherto undervalued and slighted my 

It shall be no longer thus. From this moment I will 
enter on my rights and assume the dignity that belongs to 
me. Let all foreign aids be cast aside ! I will examine for 
myself. If any secret wishes concerning the result of my 
inquiries, any partial leaning towards certain conclusions, 
stir within me, I forget and renounce them ; and I will 
accord them no influence over the direction of my thoughts. 
I will perform my task with firmness and integrity ; I will 
honestly accept the result whatever it may be. What I find 
to be truth, let it sound as it may, shall be welcome to me. 
I will know. With the same certainty with which I am as 
sured that this ground will support me when I tread on it, 
that this fire will burn me if I approach too near it, will I 
know what I am, and what I shall be. And should it prove 
impossible for me to know this, then I will know this much 
at least, that I cannot know it. Even to this conclusion of 
rny inquiry will I submit, should it approve itself to me as 
the truth. I hasten to the fulfilment of my task. 


I seize on Nature in her rapid and unresting 
flight, detain her for an instant, hold the present moment 
steadily in view, and reflect upon this Nature by means of 
which my thinking powers have hitherto been developed 
and trained to those researches that belong to her domain. 

I am surrounded by objects which I am compelled to 
regard as separate, independent, self-subsisting wholes. I 
behold plants, trees, animals. I ascribe to each individual 
certain properties and attributes by which I distinguish it 
from others; to this plant, such a form; to another, another; 
to this tree, leaves of such a shape; to another, others differ 
ing from them. 

Every object has its appointed number of attributes, 
neither more nor less. To every question, whether it is this 
or that, there is, for any one who is thoroughly acquainted 
it, a decisive Yes possible, or a decisive No, so that there 
is an end of all doubt or hesitation on the subject. Every 
thing that exists is something, or it is not this something ; 

is coloured, or is not coloured; has a certain colour, or 

has it not ; may be tasted, or may not ; is tangible, or is 
not ; and so on, ad infinitum. 

Every object posseses each of these attributes in a defi 
nite degree. Let a measure be given for any particular 
attribute which is capable of being applied to the object ; 
then we may discover the exact extent of that attribute, 
which it neither exceeds nor falls short of. I measure the 
height of this tree; it is defined, and it is not a single line 


higher or lower than it is. I consider the green of its 
leaves ; it is a definite green, not the smallest shade darker 
or lighter, fresher or more faded than it is ; although I may 
have neither measure nor expression for these qualities. I 
turn my eye to this plant ; it is at a definite stage of growth 
between its budding and its maturity, not in the smallest 
degree nearer or more remote from either than it is. Every 
thing that exists is determined throughout ; it is what it is, and 
nothing else. 

Not that I am unable to conceive of an object as floating 
unattached between opposite determinations. I do certainly 
conceive of indefinite objects; for more than half of my 
thoughts consist of such conceptions. I think of a tree in 
general. Has this tree fruit or not, leaves or not ; if it has, 
what is their number? to what order of trees does it be 
long ? how large is it ? and so on. All these questions 
remain unanswered, and my thought is undetermined in 
these respects; for I did not propose to myself the thought 
of any particular tree, but of a tree generally. But I deny 
actual^ exist ence_to such a tree in thus leaving it undefined. 
Everything that actually exists has its determinate number 
of all the possible attributes of actual existence, and each of 
these in a determinate measure, as surely as it actually exists, 
although I may admit my inability thoroughly to exhaust 
all the properties of any one object, or to apply to them any 
standard of measurement. 

But Nature pursues her course of ceaseless change, and 
while I yet speak of the moment which I sought to detain 
before me, it is gone, and all is changed; and in like man 
ner, before I had fixed my observation upon it, all was 
otherwise. It had not always been as it was when I ob 
served it : it had become so. 

Why then, and from what cause, had it become so ? Why 
had Nature, amid the infinite variety of possible forms, as 
sumed in this moment precisely these and no others ? 

For this reason, that they were preceded by those pre- 

i a 


cisely which did precede them, and by no others ; and be 
cause the present could arise out of those and out of no 
other possible conditions. Had anything in the preceding 
moment been in the smallest degree different from what it 
was, then in the present moment something would have been 
different from what it is. And from what cause were all 
things in that preceding moment precisely such as they were ? 
For this reason, that in the moment preceding that, they 
were such as they were then. And this moment again was 
dependent on its predecessor, and that on another, and so on 
without limit. In like manner will Nature, in the succeed 
ing moment, be .necessarily determined to the particular 
forms which it will then assume for this reason, that in 
the present moment it is determined exactly as it is ; and 
were anything in the present moment in the smallest 
degree different from what it is, then in the succeeding mo 
ment something would necessarily be different from what 
it will be. And in the moment following that, all things 
will be precisely as they will be, because in the immediately 
previous moment they will be as they will be ; and so will 
its successor proceed forth from it, and another from that, 
and so on for ever. 

Nature proceeds throughout the whole infinite series of 
her possible determinations without outward incentive ; and 
the succession of these changes is not arbitrary, but follows 
strict and unalterable laws. Whatever exists in Nature, 
necessarily exists as it does exist, and it is absolutely impos 
sible that it should be otherwise. I enter within an un 
broken chain of phenomena, in which every link is deter 
mined by that which has preceded it, and in its turn deter 
mines the next ; so that, were I able to trace backward the 
causes through which alone any given moment could have 
come into actual existence, and to follow out the conse 
quences which must necessarily flow from it, I should then 
be able, at that moment, and by means of thought alone, to 
discover all possible conditions of the universe, both past 
and future ; past, by interpreting the given moment ; 
future, by foreseeing its results. Every part contains the 


whole, for only through the whole is each part what it is, 
but through the whole it is necessarily what it is. 

What is it then which I have thus arrived at : If I 
review my positions as a whole, I find their substanct to be 
this : that in every stage of progress an antecedent is 
necessarily supposed, from which and through which alone 
the present has arisen ; in every condition a previous condi 
tion, in every existence another existence; and that from 
nothing, nothing whatever can proceed. 

Let me pause here a little, and develope whatever is con 
tained in this principle, until it become perfectly clear to 
me ! For it may be that on my clear insight into this point 
may depend the success of my whole future inquiry. 

Why, and from what cause, I had asked, are the deter 
minate forms of objects precisely such as they are at this 
moment. I assumed without farther proof, and without the 
slightest inquiry, as an absolute, immediate, certain and un 
alterable truth, that they had a cause ; that not through 
themselves, but through something which lay beyond them, 
they had attained existence and reality. I found their 
existence insufficient to account for itself, and I was com 
pelled to assume another existence beyond them, as a neces 
sary condition of theirs. But why did I find the existence of 
these qualities and determinate forms insufficient for itself ? 
why did I find it to be an incomplete existence ? What was 
there in it which betrayed to me its insufficiency ? This, 
without doubt : that, in the first place, these qualities do 
not exist in and for themselves, they are qualities of some 
thing else, attributes of a substance, forms of something 
formed ; and the supposition of such a substance, of a some 
thing to support these attributes, of a substratum for them, 
to use the phraseology of the Schools, Is a necessary con 
dition of the conceivableness of such qualities. Further, 
before I can attribute a definite quality to such a sub 
stratum, I must suppose for it a condition of repose, and of 
cessation from change, a pause in its existence. Were I 


to regard it as in a state of transition, then there could be 
no definite determination, but merely an endless series of 
changes from one state to another. The state of determi 
nation in a thing is thus a state and expression of mere 
passivity ; and a state of mere passivity is in itself an in 
complete existence. Such passivity itself demands an 
activity to which it may be referred, by which it can be 
explained, and through which it first becomes conceivable ; 
or, as it is usually expressed, which contains within it the 
ground of this passivity. 

What I found myself compelled to suppose was thus by 
no means that the various and successive determinations of 
Nature themselves produce each other, that the present 
determination annihilates itself, and, in the next moment, 
when it no longer exists, produces another, which is dif 
ferent from itself and not contained in it, to fill its place : 
this is wholly inconceivable. The mere determination pro 
duces neither itself nor anything else. 

What I found myself compelled to assume in order to 
account for the gradual origin and the changes of those 
determinations, was an active power, peculiar to the object, 
and constituting its essential nature. 

And how, then, do I conceive of this power ? what is its 
nature, and the modes of its manifestation ? This only, 
that under these definite conditions it produces, by its own 
energy and for its own sake, this definite effect and no 
other ; and that it produces this certainly and infallibly. 

This principle of activity, of independent and spontaneous 
development, dwells in itself alone, and in nothing beyond 
itself, as surely as it is power power which is not im 
pelled or set in motion, but which sets itself in motion. 
The cause of its having developed itself precisely in this 
manner and no other, lies partly in itself because it is this 
particular power and no other ; and partly in the circum 
stances under which it developes itself. Both these, the 
inward determination of a power by itself, and its outward 
determination by circumstances, must be united in order 
to produce a change. The latter, the circumstances, the 


passive condition of things, can of itself produce no change, 
for it has within it the opposite of all change, inert exist 
ence. The former, the power, is wholly determined, for 
only on this condition is it conceivable ; but its determina 
tion is completed only through the circumstances under 
which it is developed. I can conceive of a power, it can 
have an existence for me, only in so far as I can perceive an 
effect proceeding from it ; an inactive power, which should 
yet be a power and not an inert thing, is wholly inconceiv 
able. Every effect, hoAvever, is determined ; and since the 
effect is but the expression, but another mode of the activity 
itself, the active power is determined in its activity ; and 
the ground of this determination lies partly in itself, be 
cause it cannot otherwise be conceived of as a particular 
and definite power ; partly out of itself, because its own 
determination can be conceived of only as conditioned by 
something else. 

A flower has sprung out of the earth, and I infer from 
thence a formative power in Nature. Such a formative 
power exists for me only so far as this flower and others, 
plants generally, and animals exist for me: I can de 
scribe this power only through its effects, and it is to me 

no more than the producing cause of such effects, the 

generative principle of flowers, plants, animals, and organic 
forms in general. I will go further, and maintain that a 
flower, and this particular flower, could arise in this place 
only in so far as all other circumstances united to make it 
possible. But by the union of all these circumstances for 
its possibility, the actual existence of the flower is by no 
means explained ; and for this I am still compelled to as 
sume a special, spontaneous, and original power in Nature, 
and indeed a flower-producing power ; for another power of 
Nature might, under the same circumstances, have pro 
duced something entirely different I have thus attained 
to the following view of the Universe. 

When I contemplate all things as one whole, one Nature, 
there is but one power, when I regard them as separate 
existences, there are many powers which develope them- 


selves according to their inward laws, and pass through all 
the possible forms of which they are capable ; and all objects 
in Nature are but those powers under certain determinate 
forms. The manifestations of each individual power of 
Nature are determined, become what they are, partly by 
its own essential character, and partly through the mani 
festations of all the other powers of Nature with which it is 
connected ; but it is connected with them all for Nature is 
one connected whole. They are, therefore, unalterably de 
termined ; while its essential character remains what it is, 
and while it continues to manifest itself under these parti 
cular circumstances, its manifestations must necessarily be 
what they are ; and it is absolutely impossible that they 
should be in the smallest degree different from what they 


In every moment of her duration Nature is one connected 
whole : in every moment each individual part must be what 
it is, because all the others are what they are ; and you 
could not remove a single grain of sand from its place, 
without thereby, although perhaps imperceptibly to you, 
changing something throughout all parts of the immeasur 
able whole. But every moment of this duration is deter 
mined by all past moments, and will determine all future 
moments ; and you cannot conceive even the position of a 
grain of sand other than it is in the Present, without being 
compelled to conceive the whole indefinite Past to have 
been other than what it has been, and the whole indefinite 
Future other than what it will be. Make the experiment, 
for instance, with this grain of quick-sand. Suppose it to 
lie some few paces further inland than it does : then must 
the storm-wind that drove it in from the sea have been 
stronger than it actually was ; then must the preceding 
state of the weather, by which this wind was occasioned and 
its degree of strength determined, have been different from 
what it actually was ; and the previous state by which this 
particular weather was determined, and so on; and thus 
you have, without stay or limit, a wholly different tempera 
ture of the air from that which really existed, and a dif- 


fererit constitution of the bodies which possess an influence 
over this temperature, and over which, on the other hand, 
it exercises such an influence. On the fruitfulness or un- 
fruitfulness of countries, and through that, or even directly, 
on the duration of human life, this temperature exercises 
a most decided influence. How can you know,- since it is 
not permitted us to penetrate the arcana of Nature, and it 
is therefore allowable to speak of possibilities, how can 
you know, that in such a state of weather as may have been 
necessary to carry this grain of sand a few paces further 
inland, some one of your forefathers might not have 
perished from hunger, or cold, or heat, before begetting 
that son from whom you are descended ; and that thus you 
might never have been at all, and all that you have ever 
done, and all that you ever hope to do in this world, must 
have been obstructed, in order that a grain of sand might 
lie in a different place ? 

I myself, with all that I call mine, am a link in this chain 
of the rigid necessity of Nature. There was a time so 
others tell me who were then alive, and I am compelled by 
reasoning to admit such a time of which I have no imme 
diate consciousness, there was a time in which I was not, 
and a moment in which I began to be. I then only existed 
for others, not yet for myself. Since then, my self, my 
self-consciousness, has gradually unfolded itself, and I have 
discovered in myself certain capacities and faculties, wants 
and natural desires. I am a definite creature, which came 
into being at a certain time. 

I have not come into being by my own power. It would 
be the highest absurdity to suppose that I was before I 
came into existence, in order to bring myself into existence. 
I have, then, been called into being by another power be 
yond myself. And by what power but the universal power 
of Nature, since I too am a part of Nature ? The time at 
which my existence began, and the attributes with which I 
came into being, were determined by this universal power 


of Nature ; and all the forms under which these inborn at 
tributes have since manifested themselves, and will manifest 
themselves as long as I have a being, are determined by the 
same power. It was impossible that, instead of me, another 
should have come into existence ; it is impossible that this 
being, once here, should at any moment of its existence be 
other than what it is and will be. 

That my successive states of being have been accompa 
nied by consciousness, and that some of them, such as 
thoughts, resolutions, and the like, appear to be nothing but 
varied modes of consciousness, need not perplex my reason 
ings. It is the natural constitution of the plant to dev elope it 
self, of the animal to move, of man to think, all after fixed 
laws. Why should I hesitate to acknowledge the last as the 
manifestation of an original power of Nature, as well as the 
first and second ? Nothing could hinder me from doing so but 
mere wonder; thought being assuredly a far higher and more 
subtle operation of Nature than the formation of a plant or 
the proper motion of an animal. But how can I accord to 
such a feeling any influence whatever upon the calm conclu 
sions of reason ? I cannot indeed explain how the power of 
Nature can produce thought ; but can I better explain its 
operation in the formation of a plant or in the motion of an 
animal ? To attempt to deduce thought from any mere 
combination of matter is a perversity into which I shall 
not fall ; but can I then explain from it even the formation 
of the simplest moss ? Those original powers of Nature 
cannot be explained, for it is only by them that we can 
explain everything which is susceptible of explanation. 
Thought exists, its existence is absolute and independent ; 
just as the formative power of Nature exists absolutely and 
independently. It is in Nature ; for the thinking being 
arises and developes himself according to the laws of 
Nature ; therefore thought exists through Nature. There 
is in Nature an original thinking-power, as there is an 
original formative-power. 

This original thinking-power of the Universe goes forth 
and developes itself in all possible modes of which it is 


capable, as the other original forces of Nature go forth and 
assume all forms possible to them. I, like the plant, am a 
particular mode or manifestation of the formative-power > 
like the animal, a particular mode or manifestation of the 
power of motion ; and besides these I am also a particular 
mode or manifestation of the thinking-power ; and the uni 
on of these three original powers into one, into one har 
monious development, is the distinguishing characteristic 
of my species, as it is the distinguishing characteristic of 
the plant species to be merely a mode or manifestation of 
the formative-power. 

Figure, motion, thought, in me, are not dependent on 
each other and consequent on each other; so that I think 
and thereby conceive of the forms and motions that sur 
round mo in such or such a manner because they are so, or 
on the other hand, that they are so because I so conceive of 
them, but they are all simultaneous and harmonious de 
velopments of one and the same power, the manifestation of 
which necessarily assumes the form of a complete creature 
of my species, and which may thus be called the man-form 
ing power. A thought arises within me absolutely, without 
dependence on anything else ; the corresponding form like 
wise arises absolutely, and also the motion which corre 
sponds to both. I am not what I am, because I think so, or 
will so ; nor do I think and will it, because I am so ; but I 
am, and I think, both absolutely ; both harmonize with 
each other by virtue of a higher power. 

As surely as those original powers of Nature exist for 
themselves, and have their own internal laws and purposes, 
so surely must their outward manifestations, if they are left 
to themselves and not suppressed by any foreign force, en 
dure for a certain period of time, and describe a certain cir 
cle of change. That which disappears even at the moment 
of its production is assuredly not the manifestation of one 
primordial power, but only a consequence of the combined 
operation of various powers. The plant, a particular mode 
or manifestation of the formative-power of Nature, when left 
to itself, proceeds from the first germination to the ripen- 

K a 


ing of the seed. Man, a particular mode or manifestation 
of all the powers of Nature in their union, when left to 
himself, proceeds from birth to death in old age. Hence, 
the duration of the life of plants and of men, and the varied 
modes of this life. 

This form, this proper motion, this thought, in harmony 
with each other, this duration of all these essential qua 
lities, amidst many non-essential changes, belong to me in 
so far as I am a being of my species. But the man-form 
ing power of Nature had already displayed itself before I 
existed, under a multitude of outward conditions and cir 
cumstances. Such outward circumstances have determined 
the particular manner of its present activity, which has re 
sulted in the production of precisely such an individual of 
my species as I am. The same circumstances can never re 
turn, unless the whole course of Nature should repeat itself, 
and two Natures arise instead of one ; hence the same indi 
viduals, who have once existed, can never again come into 
actual being. Further, the man-forming power of Nature 
manifests itself, during the same time in which I exist, un 
der all conditions and circumstances possible in that time. 
But no combination of such circumstances can perfectly re 
semble those through which I came into existence, unless 
the universe could divide itself into two perfectly similar 
but independent worlds. It is impossible that two perfectly 
similar individuals can come into actual existence at the 
same time. It is thus determined what I, this definite per 
son, must be ; and the general law by which I am what I 
am is discovered. I am that which the man-forming power 
of Nature having been what it was, being what it is, and 
standing in this particular relation to the other opposing 
powers of Nature could become; and, there being no 
ground of limitation within itself, since it could become, 
necessarily must become, I am that which I am, because in 
this particular position of the great system of Nature, only 
such a person, and absolutely no other, was possible ; and a 
spirit who could look through the innermost secrets of Na 
ture, would, from knowing one single man, be able distinctly 

BOOK 1. DOUBT. 251 

to declare what men had formerly existed, and what men 
would exist at any future moment ; in one individual he 
would discern all actual and possible individuals. It is this 
my inter-connexion with the whole system of Nature which 
determines what I have been, what I am, and what I shall 
be; and the same spirit would be able, from any possible 
moment of my existence, to discover infallibly what I had 
previously been, and what I was afterwards to become. All 
that, at any time, I am and shall be, I am and shall be of 
absolute necessity; and it is impossible that I should be 
any thing else. 

I am, indeed, conscious of myself as an independent, and, 
in many occurrences of my life, a free being; but this con 
sciousness may easily be explained on the principles already 
laid down, and may be thoroughly reconciled with the con 
clusions which have been drawn. My immediate conscious 
ness, my proper perception, cannot go beyond myself and 
the modes of my own being ; I have immediate knowledge 
of myself alone : whatever I may know more than this, I 
know only by inference, in the same way in which I have 
inferred the existence of original powers of Nature, which 
yet do not lie within the circle of my perceptions. I myself 
however, that which I call me my personality, am not * 
the man-forming power of Nature, but only one of its mani 
festations; and it is only of this manifestation that I am 
conscious, as myself, not of that power whose existence I 
only infer from the necessity of explaining my own. This 
manifestation, however, in its true nature, is really the pro 
duct of an original and independent power, and must appear 
as such in consciousness. On this account I recognise my 
self generally as an independent being. For this reason 1 
appear to myself as free in certain occurrences of my life, 
when these occurrences arc the manifestations of the inde 
pendent power which falls to my share- as an individual ; .s- 
restrained and limited, when, by any combination of out 
ward circumstances, which may arise in time, but do not lie 
within the original limitations of my personality, I cannot 


do what my individual power would naturally, if unob 
structed, be capable of doing ; as compelled, when this indi 
vidual power, by the superiority of antagonistic powers, is 
constrained to manifest itself even in opposition to the laws 
of its own nature. 

Bestow consciousness on a tree, and let it grow, spread 
out its branches, and bring forth leaves and buds, blossoms 
and fruits, after its kind, without hindrance or obstruc 
tion : it will perceive no limitation to its existence in being 
only a tree, a tree of this particular species, and this par 
ticular individual of the species ; it will feel itself perfectly 
free, because, in all those manifestations, it will do nothing 
but what its nature requires ; and it will desire to do no 
thing else, because it can only desire what that nature re 
quires. But let its growth be hindered by unfavourable 
weather, want of nourishment, or other causes, and it will 
feel itself limited and restrained, because an impulse which 
actually belongs to its nature is not satisfied. Bind its free 
waving boughs to a wall, force foreign branches on it by 
ingrafting, and it will feel itself compelled to one course of 
action; its branches will grow, but not in the direction 
they would have taken if left to themselves ; it will produce 
fruits, but not those which belong to its original nature. 
In immediate consciousness, I appear to myself as free ; by 
reflection on the whole of Nature, I discover that freedom 
is absolutely impossible ; the former must be subordinate to 
the latter, for it can be explained only by means of it. 

What high satisfaction is attained through the system 
which my understanding has thus built up ! What order, 
what firm connexion, what comprehensive supervision does 
it introduce into the whole fabric of my knowledge ! Con 
sciousness is here no longer that stranger in Nature, whose 
connexion with existence is so incomprehensible ; it is native 
to it, and indeed one of its necessary manifestations. Na 
ture rises gradually in the fixed series of her productions. 
In rude matter she is a simple existence ; in organized mat- 


ter she returns within herself to internal activity ; in the 
plant, to produce form ; in the animal, motion ; in man, as 
her highest masterpiece, she turns inward that she may 
perceive and contemplate herself, in him she, as it were, 
doubles herself, and, from being mere existence, becomes 
existence and consciousness in one. 

How I am and must be conscious of my own being and of 
its determinations, is, in this connexion, easily understood. 
My being and my knowledge have one common foundation, 
my own nature. The being within me, even because it 
is my being, is conscious of itself. Quite as conceivable 
is my consciousness of corporeal objects existing beyond 
myself. The powers in whose manifestation my personali 
ty consists, the formative the self-moving the thinking 
powers are not these same powers as they exist in Nature 
at large, but only a certain definite portion of them ; and 
that they are but such a portion, is because there are so 
many other existences beyond me. From the former, I can 
infer the latter ; from the limitation, that which limits. Be 
cause I myself am not this or that, which yet belongs to the 
connected system of existence, it must exist beyond me ; 
thus reasons the thinking principle within me. Of my own 
limitation, I am immediately conscious, because it is a part 
of myself, and only by reason of it do I possess an actual 
existence ; my consciousness of the source of this limitation, 
of that which I myself am not, is produced by the for 
mer, and arises out of it. 

Away, then, with those pretended influences and opera 
tions of outward things upon me, by means of which they 
are supposed to pour in upon me a knowledge which is 
not in themselves and cannot flow forth from them. The 
ground upon which I assume the existence of something 
beyond myself, does not lie out of myself, but within me, in 
the limitation of my own personality. By means of this 
limitation, the thinking principle of Nature within me pro 
ceeds out of itself, and is able to survey itself as a whole, 
although, in each individual, from a different point of view. 
In the same way there arises within me the idea of 


other thinking beings like myself. I, or the thinking power 
of Nature within me, possess some thoughts which seem to 
have developed themselves within myself as a particular 
form of Nature ; and others, which seem not to have so de 
veloped themselves. And so it is in reality. The former are 
my own, peculiar, individual contributions to the general cir 
cle of thought in Nature ; the latter are deduced from them, 
as what must surely have a place in that circle ; but being- 
only inferences so far as I am concerned, must find that 
place, not in me, but in other thinking beings : hence I 
conclude that there are other thinking beings besides myself. 
In short, Nature, becomes in me conscious of herself as a 
whole, but only by beginning with my own individual con 
sciousness, and proceeding from thence to the consciousness 
of universal being by inference founded on the principle of 
causality ; that is, she is conscious of the conditions under 
which alone such a form, such a motion, such a thought as 
that in which my personality consists, is possible. The prin 
ciple of causality is the point of transition, from the particu 
lar within myself, to the universal which lies beyond my 
self; and the distinguishing characteristic of those two kinds 
of knowledge is this, that the one is immediate percep 
tion, while the other is inference. 

In each individual, Nature beholds herself from a particu 
lar point of view. I call myself 7, and thee thou ; thou 
callest thyself I, and me thou ; I lie beyond thee, as thou 
beyond me. Of what is without me, I comprehend first 
those things which touch me most nearly ; thou, those which 
touch thee most nearly ; from these points we each proceed 
onwards to the next proximate ; but we describe very dif 
ferent paths, which may here and there intersect each other, 
but never run parallel. There is an infinite variety of pos 
sible individuals, and hence also an infinite variety of pos 
sible starting points of consciousness. This consciousness of 
all individuals taken together, constitutes the complete con 
sciousness of the universe ; and there is no other, for only in 
the individual is there definite completeness and reality. 

The testimony of consciousness in each individual is alto- 


gether sure and trustworthy, if it be indeed the conscious 
ness here described ; for this consciousness developes itself 
out of the whole prescribed course of Nature, and Nature 
cannot contradict herself. Wherever there is a conception, 
there must be a corresponding existence, for conceptions are 
only produced simultaneously with the production of the 
corresponding realities. To each individual his own particu 
lar consciousness is wholly determined, for it proceeds from 
his own nature : no one can have other conceptions, or a 
greater or less degree of vitality in these conceptions, than 
he actually has. The substance of his conceptions is de 
termined by the position which he assumes in the universe ; 
their clearness and vitality, by the higher or lower decree of 
efficiency manifested by the power of humanity in his per 
son. Give to Nature the determination of one single ele 
ment of a person, let it seem to be ever so trivial, the 

course of a muscle, the turn of a hair, and, had she a uni 
versal consciousness and were able to reply to thee, she 
could tell thee all the thoughts which could belong to this 
person during the whole period of his conscious existence. 
In this system also, the phenomenon of our consciousness 
which we call Will, becomes thoroughly intelligible. A vo 
lition is the immediate consciousness of the activity of any 
of the powers of Nature within us. The immediate con 
sciousness of an effort of these powers which has not yet be 
come a reality because it is hemmed in by opposing powers, 
is, in consciousness, inclination or desire ; the struggle of 
contending powers is irresolution ; the victory of one is the 
determination of the Will. If the power which strives after 
activity be only that which we have in common with the 
plant or the animal, there arises a division and degradation 
of our inward being ; the desire is unworthy of our rank in 
the order of things, and, according to a common use of lan 
guage, may be called a low one. If this striving power be 
the whole undivided force of humanity, then is the desire 
worthy of our nature, and it may be called a high one. The 
latter effort, considered absolutely, may be called a moral 
law. The activity of this latter is a virtuous Will, and the 


course of action resulting from it is virtue. The triumph of 
the former not in harmony with the latter is vice ; such a 
triumph over the latter, and despite its opposition, is crime. 

The power which, on each individual occasion, proves 
triumphant, triumphs of necessity ; its superiority is deter 
mined by the whole connexion of the universe ; and hence 
by the same connexion is the vice or crime of each indivi 
dual irrevocably determined. Give to Nature, once more, 
the course of a muscle, the turn of a hair, in any particular 
individual, and, had she the power of universal thought and 
could answer thee, she would be able to declare all the good 
and evil deeds of his life from the beginning to the end of 
it. But still virtue does not cease to be virtue, nor vice to 
be vice. The virtuous man is a noble product of nature ; 
the vicious, an ignoble and contemptible one : although 
both are necessary results of the connected system of the 

Repentance is the consciousness of the continued effort of 
humanity within me, even after it has been overcome, asso 
ciated with the disagreeable sense of having been subdued ; 
a disquieting but still precious pledge of our nobler nature. 
From this consciousness of the fundamental impulse of our 
nature, arises the sense which has been called conscience, 
and its greater or less degree of strictness and susceptibility, 
down to the absolute want of it in many individuals. The 
ignoble man is incapable of repentance, for in him humanity 
has at no time sufficient strength to contend with the lower 
impulses. Reward and punishment are the natural conse 
quences of virtue and vice for the production of new virtue 
and new vice. By frequent and important victories, our 
peculiar power is extended and strengthened ; by inaction 
or frequent defeat, it becomes ever weaker and weaker. The 
ideas of guilt and accountability have no meaning but in 
external legislation. He only has incurred guilt, and must 
render an account of his crime, who compels society to em 
ploy artificial external force in order to restrain in him the 
activity of those impulses which are injurious to the general 


My inquiry is closed, and my desire of knowledge satis- 
tied. I know what I am, and wherein the nature of my 
species consists. I am a manifestation, determined by the 
whole system of the universe, of a power of Nature which is 
determined by itself. To understand thoroughly my parti 
cular personal being in its deepest sources is impossible, for 
I cannot penetrate into the innermost recesses of Nature. 
But I am immediately conscious of this my personal exis 
tence. I know right well what I am at thejpresent moment; 
I can for the most part remember what I have been formerly ; 
and I shall learn what I shall be, when what is now future 
shall become present experience. 

I cannot indeed make use of this discovery in the regula 
tion of my actions, for I do not truly act at all, but Nature 
acts in me ; and to make myself anything else than that for 
which Nature has intended me, is what I cannot even pro 
pose to myself, for I am not the author of my own being, 
but Nature has made me myself, and all that I am. I may 
repent, and rejoice, and form good resolutions ; although, 
strictly speaking, I cannot even do this, for all these things 
come, to me of themselves, when it is appointed for them to 
come ; but most certainly I cannot, by all my repentance, 
and by all my resolutions, produce the smallest change in 
that which I must once for all inevitably become. I stand 
under the inexorable power of rigid Necessity : should she 
have destined me to become a fool and a profligate, a fool 
and a profligate without doubt I shall become ; should she 
have destined me to be wise and good, wise and good I shall 
doubtless be. There is neither blame nor merit to her nor 
to me. She stands under her own laws, I under hers. I see 
this, and feel that my tranquillity would be best ensured by 
subjecting my wishes also to that Necessity to which my 
being is wholly subject. 

But, oh these opposing wishes ! For why should I any long 
er hide from myself the sadness, the horror, the amazement 
with which I was penetrated when I saw how my inquiry 

L a 


must end ? I had solemnly promised myself that my in 
clinations should have no influence in the direction of my 
thoughts; and I have not knowingly allowed them any such 
influence. But may I not at last confess that this result con 
tradicts the profoundest aspirations, wishes, and wants of my 
being. And, despite of the accuracy and the decisive strict 
ness of the proofs by which it seems to be supported, how 
can I truly believe in a theory of my being which strikes at 
the very root of that being, which so distinctly contradicts 
all the purposes for which alone I live, and without which I 
should loathe my existence ? 

Why must my heart mourn at, and be lacerated by, that 
which so perfectly satisfies my understanding ? While 
nothing in Nature contradicts itself, is man alone a contra 
diction ? Or perhaps not man in general, but only me and 
those who resemble me ? Had I but been contented to re 
main amid the pleasant delusions that surrounded me, satis 
fied with the immediate consciousness of my existence, and 
never raised those questions concerning its foundation, the 
answer to which has caused me this misery! But if this 
answer be true, then / must of necessity have raised these 
questions : I indeed raised them not, the thinking nature 
within me raised them. I was destined to this misery, and 
I weep in vain the lost innocence of soul which can never 
return to me again. 

But courage ! Let all else be lost, so that this at least 
remains ! Merely for the sake of my wishes, did they lie 
ever so deep or seem ever so sacred, I cannot renounce what 
rests on incontrovertible evidence. But perhaps I may have 
erred in my investigation ; perhaps I may have only par 
tially comprehended and imperfectly considered the grounds 
upon which I had to proceed. I ought to retrace the in 
quiry again from the opposite end, in order that I may at 
least possess a correct starting point. What is it, then, that I 
find so repugnant, so painful, in the decision to which I have 
come ? What is it, which I desired to find in its place ? 

BOOK r. DOUBT. 259 

Let me before "all things make clear to myself what are 
these inclinations to which I appeal. 

That I should be destined to be wise and good, or foolish 
and profligate, without power to change this destiny in 
aught, in the former case having no merit, and in the lat 
ter incurring no guilt, this it was that filled me with 
amazement and horror. The reference of my being, and of 
all the determinations of my being, to a cause lying out of 
myself, the manifestations of which were again determined 
by other causes out of itself, this it was from which I so 
violently recoiled. That freedom which was not my own, 
but that of a foreign power without me, and even in that, 
only a limited half-freedom, this it was which did not 
satisfy me. I myself, that of which I am conscious as my 
own being and person, but which in this system appears 
as only the manifestation of a higher existence, this "I" 
would be independent, would be something, not by an 
other or through another, but of myself, and, as such, 
would be the final root of all my own determinations. The 
rank which in this system is assumed by an original power 
of Nature I would myself assume ; with this difference, that 
the modes of my manifestations shall not be determined by 
any foreign power. I desire to possess an inward and pecu 
liar power of manifestation, infinitely manifold like those 
powers of Nature ; and this power shall manifest itself in 
the particular way in which it does manifest itself, for no 
other reason than because it does so manifest itself; not, like 
these powers of Nature, because it is placed under such or 
such outward conditions. 

What then, according to my wish, shall be the especial 
seat and centre of this peculiar inward power ? Evidently 
not my body, for that I willingly allow to pass for a mani 
festation of the powers of Nature, at least so far as its con 
stitution is concerned, if not with regard to its farther de 
terminations ; not my sensuous inclinations, for these I re 
gard as a relation of those powers to my consciousness. 
Hence it must be my thought and will. I would exercise 
my voluntary power freely, for the accomplishment of aims 


which I shall have freely adopted ; and this will, as its ulti 
mate ground which can be determined by no higher, shall 
move and mould, first my own body, and through it the 
surrounding world. My active powers shall be under the 
control of my will alone, and shall be set in motion by 
nothing else than by it. Thus it shall be. There shall be 
a Supreme Good in the spiritual world ; I shall have the 
power to seek this with freedom until I find it, to acknow 
ledge it as such when found, and it shall be my fault if I do 
not find it. This Supreme Good I shall will to know, mere 
ly because I will it ; and if I will anything else instead of 
it, the fault shall be mine. My actions shall be the result of 
this will, and without it there shall absolutely no action of 
mine ensue, since there shall be no other power over my 
actions but this wiU. Then shall my powers, determined by, 
and subject to the dominion of, my will, invade the external 
world. I will be the lord of Nature, and she shall be my ser 
vant. I will influence her according to the measure of my 
capacity, but she shall have no influence on me. 

This, then, is the substance of my wishes and aspirations. 
But the system, which has satisfied my understanding, has 
wholly repudiated these. According to the one, I am wholly 
independent of Nature and of any law which I do not impose 
upon myself; according to the other, I am but a strictly de 
termined link in the chain of Nature. Whether such a free 
dom as I have desired be at all conceivable, and, if so, whe 
ther there be not grounds which, on complete and thorough 
investigation, may compel me to accept it as a reality and 
to ascribe it to myself, and whereby the result of my former 
conclusions might thus be refuted; this is now the question. 

To be free, in the sense stated, means that I myself will 
make myself whatever I am to be. I must then, and this 
is what is most surprising, and, at first sight, absurd in the 
idea, I must already be, in a certain sense, that which I 
shall become, in order to be able to become so ; I must pos 
sess a two-fold being, of which the first shall contain the 


fundamental determining principle of the second. If I inter 
rogate my immediate self-consciousness on this matter, I 
find the following. I have the knowledge of various possible 
courses of action, from amongst which, as it appears to me, 
I may choose which I please. I run through the whole cir 
cle, enlarge it, examine the various courses, compare one 
with another, and consider. I at length decide upon one, de 
termine my will in accordance with it, and this resolution of 
my will is followed by a corresponding action. Here then, 
certainly, I am beforehand, in the mere conception of a pur 
pose, what subsequently, by means of this conception I am 
in will and in action. I am beforehand as a thinking, what 
I am afterwards as an active, being. J_create mvjself . my 
being by my thought, my thought by thought itself. One 
can conceive the determinate state of a manifestation of a 
mere power of Nature, of a plant for instance, as preceded 
by an indeterminate state, in which, if left to itself, it might 
have assumed any one of an infinite variety of possible de 
terminations. These manifold possibilities are certainly pos 
sibilities within it, contained in its original constitution, but 
they are not possibilities for it, because it is incapable of such 
an idea, and cannot choose or of itself put an end to this 
state of indecision : there must be external grounds by which 
it may be determined to some one of those various possibili 
ties to which it is unable to determine itself. This determina 
tion can have no previous existence within it, for it is capable 
of but one mode of determination, that which it has actually 
assumed. Hence it was, that I formerly felt myself com 
pelled to maintain that the manifestation of every power must 
receive its final determination from without. Doubtless I 
then thought only of such powers as are incapable of con 
sciousness, and manifest themselves merely in the outward 
world. To them that assertion may be applied without the 
slightest limitation ; but to intelligences the grounds of it 
are not applicable, and it was, therefore, rash to extend it to 

Freedom, such as I have laid claim to, is conceivable only 
of intelligences ; but to them, undoubtedly, it belongs. Un- 


der this supposition, man, as well as nature, is perfectly 
comprehensible. My body, and my capacity of operating in 
the world of sense, are, as in the former system, manifes 
tations of certain limited powers of Nature ; and my natural 
inclinations are the relations of these manifestations to my 
consciousness. The mere knowledge of what exists indepen 
dently of me arises under this supposition of freedom, pre 
cisely as in the former system ; and up to this point, both 
agree. But according the former, and here begins the 
opposition between these systems, according to the former, 
my capacity of physical activity remains under the domin 
ion of Nature, and is constantly set in motion by the same 
power which produced it, and thought has here -nothing 
whatever to do but to look on ; according to the latter, this 
capacity, once brought into existence, falls under the domin 
ion of a power superior to Nature and wholly independent 
of her laws, the power of determinate purpose and of will. 
Thought is no longer the mere faculty of observation ; it is 
the source of action itself. In the one case, my state of in 
decision is put an end to by forces, external and invisible to 
me, which limit my activity as well as my immediate con 
sciousness of it that is, my will to one point, just as the 
indeterminate activity of the plant is limited; in the other, 
it is I myself, independent, and free from the influence of all 
outward forces, who put an end to my state of indecision, 
and determine my own course, according to the knowledge I 
have freely attained of what is best. 

Which of these two opinions shall I adopt ? Am I free 
and independent ? or am I nothing in myself, and merely 
the manifestation of a foreign power? It is clear to me that 
neither of the two doctrines is sufficiently supported. For 
the first, there is no other recommendation than its mere 
conceivableness ; for the latter, I extend a principle, which is 
perfectly true in its own place, beyond its proper and natural 
application. If intelligence is merely the manifestation of a 
power of Nature, then I do quite right to extend this prin- 

BOOK I. DOUBT. 2(i8 

ciple to it ; but, whether it is so or not, is the very question 
at issue ; and this question I must solve by deduction from 
other premises, not by a one-sided answer assumed at the 
very commencement of the inquiry, from which I again de 
duce that only which I myself have previously placed in it. 
In short, it would seem that neither of the two opinions can 
be established by argument. 

As little can this matter be determined by immediate 
consciousness. I can never become conscious either of the 
external powers, by which, in the system of universal neces 
sity, I am determined ; nor of my own power, by which, on 
the system of freedom, I determine myself. Thus whichso 
ever of the two opinions I may accept, I still accept it, not 
upon evidence, but merely by arbitrary choice. 

The system of freedom satisfies my heart; the opposite 
system destroys and annihilates it. To stand, cold and un 
moved, amid the current of events, a passive mirror of fugi 
tive and passing phenomena, this existence is insupportable 
to me ; I scorn and detest it. I will love ; I will lose my 
self in sympathy ; I will know the joy and the grief of life. 
I myself am the highest object of this sympathy ; and the 
only mode in which I can satisfy its requirements is by my 
actions. I will do all for the best ; 1 will, rejoice when I 
have done right, I will grieve when I have done wrong; and 
even this sorrow shall be sweet to me, for it is a chord of 
sympathy, a pledge of future amendment. In love only 
there is life ; without it is death and annihilation. 

But coldly and insolently does the opposite system ad 
vance, and turn this love into a mockery. If I listen to it, 
I am not, and I cannot act. The object of my most inti 
mate attachment is a phantom of the brain, a gross and 
palpable delusion. Not I, but a foreign and to me wholly 
unknown power, acts in me : and it is a matter of indiffer 
ence to me how this power unfolds itself. I stand abashed, 
with my warm affections and my virtuous will, and blush 
for what I know to be best and purest in my nature, for the 
sake of which alone I would exist, as for a ridiculous folly. 
What is holiest in me is given over as a prey to scorn. 


Doubtless it was the love of this love, an interest in this 
interest, that impelled me, unconsciously, before I entered 
upon the inquiry which has thus perplexed and distracted 
me, to regard myself, without farther question, as free and 
independent ; doubtless it was this interest which has led 
me to carry out, even to conviction, an opinion which has 
nothing in its favour but its intelligibility, and the impossi 
bility of proving its opposite ; it was this interest which has 
hitherto restrained me from seeking any farther explanation 
of myself and my capacities. 

The opposite system, barren and heartless indeed, but ex- 
haustless in its explanations, will explain even this desire 
for freedom, and this aversion to the contrary doctrine. It 
explains everything which I can cite from my own con 
sciousness against it, and as often as I say thus and thus is 
the case, it replies with the same cool complacency, "I say so 
too ; and I tell you besides why it must necessarily be so." 
" When thou speakest of thy heart, thy love, thy interest in 
this and that," thus will it answer all my complaints, "thou 
standest merely at the point of immediate self-consciousness 
of thine own being, and this thou hast confessed already in 
asserting that thou thyself art the object of thy highest in 
terest. Now it is already well known, and we have proved it 
above, that this thou for whom thou art so deeply interested, 
in so far as it is not the mere activity of thy individual in 
ward nature, is at least an impulse of it; every such im 
pulse, as surely as it exists, returns on itself and impels itself 
to activity ; and we can thus understand how this impulse 
must manifest itself in consciousness, as love for, and inter 
est in, free individual activity. Couldst thou exchange this 
narrow point of view in self-consciousness for the higher po 
sition in which thou mayest grasp the universe, which in 
deed thou hast promised thyself to take, then it would be 
come clear to thee that what thou hast named thy love is 
not thy love, but a foreign love, the interest which the ori 
ginal power of Nature manifesting itself in thee takes in 
maintaining its own peculiar existence. Do not then appeal 
again to thy love ; for even if that could prove anything be- 


sides, its supposition here is wholly irregular and unjustifi 
able. Thou lovest not thyself, for, strictly speaking, thou art, 
not; it is Nature in thee which concerns herself for her own 
preservation. Thou hast admitted without dispute, that al 
though in the plant there exists a peculiar impulse to grow 
and develope itself, the specific activity of this impulse yet 
depends upon forces lying beyond itself. Bestow conscious 
ness upon the plant, and it will regard this instinct of 
growth with interest and love. Convince it by reasoning 
that this instinct is unable of itself to accomplish anything 
whatever, but that the measure of its manifestation is al 
ways determined by something out of itself, and it will 
speak precisely as thou hast spoken; it will behave in a 
manner that may be pardoned in a plant, but which by no 
means beseems thee, who art a higher product of Nature, 
and capable of comprehending the universe." 

What can I answer to this representation? Should I ven 
ture to place myself at its point of view, upon this boasted 
position from whence I may embrace the universe in my 
comprehension, doubtless I must blush and be silent. This, 
therefore, is the question, whether I shall at once assume 
this position, or confine myself to the range of immediate 
self-consciousness; whether love shall be made subject to 
knowledge, or knowledge to love. The latter stands in bad 
esteem among intelligent people; the former renders me 
indescribably miserable, by extinguishing my own personal 
being within me. I cannot do the latter without appearing 
inconsiderate and foolish in my own estimation ; I cannot 
do the former without deliberately annihilating my own ex 

I cannot remain in this state of indecision ; on the solu 
tion of this question depends my whole peace and dignity. 
As impossible is it for me decide ; I have absolutely no 
ground of decision in favour of the one opinion or the other. 

Intolerable state of uncertainty and irresolution! Through 
the best and most courageous resolution of my life, I have 
been reduced to this ! What power can deliver me from it ? 
what power can deliver me from myself ? 




CHAGRIN and anguish stung me to the heart. I cursed the 
returning day which called me back to an existence whose 
truth and significance were now involved in doubt. I awoke 
in the night from unquiet dreams. I sought anxiously for 
a ray of light that might lead me out of these mazes of un 
certainty. I sought, but became only more deeply entangled 
in the labyrinth. 

Once at the hour of midnight, a wondrous shape appeared 
before me, and addressed me : 

" Poor mortal," I heard it say, " thou heapest error upon 
error, and fanciest thyself Avise. Thou tremblest before the 
phantoms which thou hast thyself toiled to create. Dare to 
become truly wise. I bring thee no new revelation. What 
I can teach thee thou already knowest, and thou hast but to 
recall it to thy remembrance. I cannot deceive thee ; for 
thou, thyself, wilt acknowledge me to be in the right ; and 
shouldst thou still be deceived, thou wilt be deceived by 
thyself. Take courage ; listen to me, and answer my ques 

I took courage. " He appeals to my own understanding. 
I will make the venture. He cannot force his own thoughts 
into my mind ; the conclusion to which I shall come must 
be thought out by myself; the conviction which I shall ac 
cept must be of my own creating. Speak, wonderful Spirit!" 


1 exclaimed, " whatever thou art ! Speak, and I will listen. 
Question me, and I will answer." 

The Spirit. Thou believest that these objects here, and 
those there, are actually present before thee and out of thy 

/. Certainly I do. 

Spirit. And how dost thou know that they are actually 
present ? 

I. I see them ; I would feel them were I to stretch forth 
my hand ; I can hear the sounds they produce ; they reveal 
themselves to me through all my senses. 

Spirit. Indeed ! Thou wilt perhaps by and by retract 
the assertion that thou seest, feelest, and hearest these ob 
jects. For the present I will speak as thou dost, as if thou 
didst really, by means of thy sight, touch, and hearing, per 
ceive the real existence of objects. But observe, it is only 
by means q/"thy sight, touch, and other external senses. Or 
is it not so ? Dost thou perceive otherwise than through 
thy senses ? and has an object any existence for thee, other 
wise than as thou seest it, hearest it, &c. ? 

I. By no means. 

Spirit. Sensible objects, therefore, exist for thee, only in 
consequence of a particular determination of thy external 
senses : thy knowledge of them is but a result of thy know 
ledge of this determination of thy sight, touch, &c. Thy 
declaration there are objects out of myself, depends upon 
this other I see, hear, feel, and so forth ? 

/. This is my meaning. 

Spirit. And how dost thou know then that thou seest, 
hearest, feelest ? 

I. I do not understand thee. Thy questions appear 
strange to me. 

Spirit. I will make them more intelligible. Dost thou 
see thy sight, and feel thy touch, or hast thou yet a higher 
sense, through which thou perceivest thy external senses 
and their determinations ? 

7. By no means. I know immediately that I see and 
feel, and what I see and feel ; I know this while it is, and 


simply because it is, without the intervention of any other 
sense. It was on this account that thy question seemed 
strange to me, because it appeared to throw doubt on this 
immediate consciousness. 

Spirit. That was not my intention : I desired only to in 
duce thee to make this immediate consciousness clear to 
thyself. So thou hast an immediate consciousness of thy 
sight and touch ? 

Z Yes. 

Spirit. Of thy sight and touch, I said. Thou art, there 
fore, the subject seeing, feeling, &c. ; and when thou art con 
scious of the seeing, feeling, &c., thou art conscious of a 
particular determination or modification of thyself. 

I. Unquestionably. 

Spirit. Thou hast a consciousness of thy seeing, feeling, 
&c., and thereby thou perceivest the object. Couldst thou 
not perceive it without this consciousness ? Canst thou not 
recognise an object by sight or hearing, without knowing 
that thou seest or hearest ? 

/. By no means. 

Spirit. The immediate consciousness of thyself, and of thy 
own determinations, is therefore the imperative condition 
of all other consciousness ; and thou knowest a thing, only in 
so far as thou knowest that thou knowest it : no element 
can enter into the latter cognition which is not contained in 
the former. Thou canst not know anything without know 
ing that thou knowest it ? 

/. I think so. 

Spirit. Therefore thou knowest of the existence of objects 
only by means of seeing, feeling them, &c. ; and thou know 
est that thou seest and feelest, only by means of an imme 
diate consciousness of this knowledge. What thou dost not 
perceive immediately, thou dost not perceive at all. 

/. I see that it is so. 

Spirit. In all perception, thou perceivest in the first place 
only thyself and thine own condition ; whatever is not con 
tained in this perception, is not perceived at all ? 

I. Thou repeatest what I have already admitted. 


Spirit. I would not weary of repeating it in all its appli 
cations, if I thought that thou hadst not thoroughly com 
prehended it, and indelibly impressed it on thy mind. 
Canst thou say, I am conscious of external objects. 

/. By no means, if I speak accurately ; for the sight and 
touch by which I grasp these objects are not consciousness 
itself, but only that of which I am first and most immedi 
ately conscious. Strictly speaking, I can only say, that I am 
conscious of my seeing and touching of these objects. 

Spirit. Do not forget, then, what thou hast now clearly 
understood. In all perception thou perceivest only thine own 

I shall, however, continue to speak thy language, since it 
is most familiar to thee. Thou hast said that thou canst see, 
hear, and feel objects. How then, that is, with what pro 
perties or attributes, dost thou see or feel them ? 

1. I see that object red, this blue ; when I touch them, I 
find this smooth, that rough this cold, that warm. 

Spirit. Thou knowest then what red, blue, smooth, rough, 
cold, and warm, really signify. 

/. Undoubtedly I do. 

Spirit. Wilt thou not describe it to me then ? 

/. It cannot be described. Look ! Turn thine eye to 
wards that object : what thou becomest conscious of 
through thy sight, I call red. Touch the surface of this 
other object: what thou feelest, I call smooth. In this 
way I have arrived at this knowledge, and there is no other 
way by which it can be acquired. 

Spirit. But can we not, at least from some of these qua 
lities known by immediate sensation, deduce a knowledge 
of others differing from them ? If, for instance, any one 
had seen red, green, yellow, but never a blue colour; had 
tasted sour, sweet, salt, but never bitter, would he not, by 
mere reflection and comparison, be able to discover what 
is meant by blue or bitter, without having ever soen or 
tasted anything of the kind ? 

2. Certainly not. What is matter of sensation can only 


be felt, it is not discoverable by thought; it is no deduction, 
but a direct and immediate perception. 

Spirit. Strange ! Thou boastest of a knowledge respect 
ing which thou art unable to tell how thou hast attained it. 
For see, thou maintainest that thou canst see one quality in 
an object, feel another, hear a third; thou must, therefore, 
be able to distinguish sight from touch, and both from hear 
ing ? 

I. Without doubt. 

Spirit. Thou maintainest further, that thou seest this ob 
ject red, that blue; and feelest this smooth, that rough. 
Thou must therefore be able to distinguish red from blue, 
smooth from rough ? 

I. Without doubt. 

Spirit. And thou maintainest that thou hast not discov 
ered this difference by means of reflection and comparison 
of these sensations in thyself. But perhaps thou hast learnt, 
by comparing the red or blue colours, the smooth or rough 
surfaces of objects out of thyself, what thou shouldst feel in 
thyself as red or blue, smooth or rough ? 

I. This is impossible ; for my perception of objects pro 
ceeds from my perception of my own internal condition, and 
is determined by it, but not the contrary. I first distinguish 
objects by distinguishing my own states of being. I can 
learn that this particular sensation is indicated by the 
wholly arbitrary sign, red; and those by the signs, blue, 
smooth, rough ; but I cannot learn that the sensations them 
selves are distinguished, nor how they are distinguished. 
That they are different, I know only by being conscious 
of myself, and being conscious of internal change. How 
they differ, I cannot describe ; but I know that they must 
differ as much as my self-consciousness differs ; and this dif 
ference of sensations is an immediate, and by no means an 
acquired, distinction. 

Spirit. Which thou canst make independently of all 
knowledge of the objects themselves ? 

I. Which I must make independently of such knowledge, 
for this knowledge is itself dependent on that distinction. 


Spit-it. Which is then given to thee immediately through 
mere self-consciousness ? 

/ In no other way. 

Spirit. But shouldst thou not then content thyself with 
saying, " I feel myself affected in the manner that I call 
red, blue, smooth, rough." ? Shouldst thou not place these 
sensations in thyself alone ? and not transfer them to an ob 
ject lying entirely out of thyself, and declare these modifica 
tions of thyself to be properties of this object ? 

Or, tell me, when thou belie vest that thou seest an object 
red, or feelest it smooth, dost thou really perceive anything 
more than that thou art affected in a certain manner ? 

/ From what has gone before, I have clearly seen that I 
do not, in fact, perceive more than what thou sayest ; and 
this transference of what is in me to something out of my 
self, from which nevertheless I cannot refrain, now appears 
very strange to me. 

My sensations are in myself, not in the object, for I am 
myself and not the object; I am conscious only of myself 
and of my own state, not of the state of the object. If there 
is a consciousness of the object, that consciousness is, cer 
tainly, neither sensation nor perception : thus much is 

Spirit. Thou formest thy conclusions somewhat precipi 
tately. Let us consider this matter on all sides, so that I 
may be assured that thou wilt not again retract what thou 
hast now freely admitted. 

Is there then in the object, as thou usually conceivest of 
it, anything more than its red colour, its smooth surface, and 
so on ; in short, anything besides those characteristic marks 
which thou obtainest through immediate sensation ? 

/. I believe that there is : besides these attributes there 
is yet the thing itself to which they belong ; the substra 
tum which supports these attributes. 

Spirit. But through what sense dost thou perceive this 
substratum of these attributes ? Dost thou see it, feel it, 


hear it ; or is there perhaps a special sense for its percep 
tion ? 

I. No. I think that I see and feel it. 

Spirit. Indeed ! Let us examine this more closely. Art 
thou then ever conscious of thy sight in itself, or at all times 
only of determinate acts of sight ? 

I. I have always a determinate sensation of sight. 

Spirit. And what is this determinate sensation of sight 
with respect to that object there ? 

I. That of red colour. 

Spirit. And this red is something positive, a simple sen 
sation, a specific state of thyself ? 

/. This I have understood. 

Spirit. Thou shouldst therefore see the red in itself as 
simple, as a mathematical point, and thou dost see it only 
as such. In thee at least, as an affection of thyself, it is ob 
viously a simple, determinate state, without connexion with 
anything else, which we can only describe as a mathemati 
cal point. Or dost thou find it otherwise ? 

I. I must admit that such is the case. 

Spirit. But now thou spreadest this simple red over a 
broad surface, which thou assuredly dost not see, since thou 
seest only a simple red. How dost thou obtain this surface ? 

I. It is certainly strange. Yet, I believe that I have 
found the explanation. I do not indeed see the surface, but 
I feel it when I pass my hand over it. My sensation of 
sight remains the same during this process of feeling, and 
hence I extend the red colour over the whole surface which 
I feel while I continue to see the same red. 

Spirit. This might be so, didst thou really feel such a 
surface. But let us see whether that be possible. Thou 
dost not feel absolutely ; thou feelest only thy feelings, and 
art only conscious of these ? 

I. Certainly. Each sensation is a determinate something. 
I never merely see, or hear, or feel, in general, but my sen 
sations are always definite ; red, green, blue colours, cold, 
warmth, smoothness, roughness, the sound of the violin, the 
voice of man, and the like, are seen, felt, or heard. Let 
that be settled between us. 


Spirit, Willingly. Thus, when thou saidst that thou 
didst feel a surface, thou hadst only an immediate conscious 
ness of feeling smooth, rough, or the like ? 

/. Certainly. 

Sjriril. This smooth or rough is, like the red colour, a 
simple sensation, a point in thee, the subject in which it 
abides? And with the same right with which I formerly 
asked why fchou didst spread a simple sensation of sight 
over tin imaginary surface, do T now a-k \vhy thou should st 
do ihc same with a simple sensation of touch. ? 

/. This smooth, surface is perhaps not equally smooth in 
all points, hut possesses in each a different degree of smooth 
ness, only thai. 1 wani the capacity of strictly distinguishing 
these degrees from each other, and language whereby to re 
tain ami express their differences. Yet I do distinguish 
them, unconsciously, and place them side !>y side ; and thus 
I form the conception of a surface. 

Spirit. But canst ihoii, in i.he same undivided moment of 
time, have sensations of opposite kinds, or be affected at the 
same time in different ways ? 

I. By no means. 

Spirit. Those different degrees of smoothness, which thou 
wouldst assume in. order to explain what thou canst not ex 
plain, are nevertheless, ir> so far as they are different from 
each other, mere opposite sensations which succeed each 
other in ? 

/. I cannot deny this. 

Spirit. Thou shouldst therefore describe them as thou 
really findest them, as successive changes of the same ma 
thematical point, such as thou perceivcst in other cases; and 
not as adjacent and simultaneous qualities of several points 
in one surface. 

/. I see this, and I find that nothing is explained by my 
assumption. But my hand, with which I touch the object 
and cover it, is itself a surface ; and by it I perceive the ob 
ject to be a surface, and a greater one than my hand, since I 
can extend my hand several times upon it. 

Spirit. Thy hand is a surface? How dost thou know that? 

N a 


How dost thou attain a consciousness of thy hand at all ? Is 
there any other way than either that thou by means of it 
feelest something else, in which case it is an instrument ; or 
that thou feelest itself by means of some other part of thy 
body, in which case it is an object ? 

I. No, there is no other. With my hand I feel some other 
definite object, or I feel my hand itself by means of some 
other part of my body. I have no immediate, absolute con 
sciousness of my hand, any more than of my sight or touch. 

Spirit. Let us, at present, consider only the case in which 
thy hand is an instrument, for this will determine the 
second case also. In this case there can be nothing more in 
the immediate perception than what belongs to sensation, 
that whereby thou thyself, and here in particular thy hand, 
is conceived of as the subject tasting in the act of taste, feel 
ing in the act of touch. Now, either thy sensation is single; 
in which case I cannot see why thou shouldst extend this 
single sensation over a sentient surface, and not content 
thyself with a single sentient point ; or thy sensation is 
varied ; and in this case, since the differences must succeed 
each other, I again do not see why thou shouldst not 
conceive of these feelings as succeeding each other in the 
same point. That thy hand should appear to thee as a sur 
face, is just as inexplicable as thy notion of a surface in 
general. Do not make use of the first in order to explain 
the second, until thou hast explained the first itself. The 
second case, in which thy hand, or whatever other member 
of thy body thou wilt, is itself the object of a sensation, may 
easily be explained by means of the first. Thou perceivest 
this member by means of another, which is then the sen 
tient one. I ask the same question concerning this latter 
member that I asked concerning thy hand, and thou art as 
little able to answer it as before. 

So it is with the surface of thy eyes, and with every other 
surface of thy body. It may very well be that the conscious 
ness of an extension out of thyself, proceeds from the con 
sciousness of thine own extension as a material body, and is 
conditioned by it. But then thou must, in the first place, 
explain this extension of thy material body. 


/ It is enough. I now perceive clearly that I neither see 
nor feel the superficial extension of the properties of bodies, 
nor apprehend it by any other sense. I see that it is my 
habitual practice to extend over a surface, what nevertheless 
in sensation is but one point ; to represent as adjacent and 
simultaneous, what I ought to represent as only successive 
since in mere sensation there is nothing simultaneous, but 
all is successive. I discover that I proceed in fact exactly as 
the geometer does in the construction of his figures, extend 
ing points to lines, and lines to surfaces. I am astonished 
how I should have done this. 

Spirit. Thou dost more than this, and what is yet more 
strange. This surface which thou attributest to bodies, thou 
canst indeed neither see nor feel, nor perceive by any organ ; 
but it may be said, in a certain sense, that thou canst see the 
red colour upon it, or feel the smoothness. But thou addest 
something more even to this surface : thou extendest it to a 
solid mathematical figure; as by thy previous admission 
thou hast extended the line to a surface. Thou assumest a 
substantial interior existence of the body behind its surface. 
Tell me, canst thou then see, feel, or recognise by any sense, 
the actual presence of anything behind this surface ? 

Z By no means : the space behind the surface is im 
penetrable to my sight, touch, or any of my senses. 

Spirit. And yet thou dost assume the existence of such 
an interior substance, which, nevertheless, thou canst not 
perceive ? 

I. I confess it, and my astonishment increases. 

Spirit. What then is this something which thou ima- 
ginest to be behind the surface ? 

/. Well I suppose something similar to the surface, 
something tangible. 

Spirit.- We must ascertain this more distinctly. Canst 
thou divide the mass of which thou imaginest the body to 
consist ? 

7. I can divide it to infinity ; I do not mean with in 
struments, but in thought. No possible part is the smallest, 
so that it cannot be again divided. 


Spirit, And in this division dost thou ever arrive at a 
portion of which thou canst suppose that it is no longer 
perceptible in itself to sight, touch, &c. ; in itself I say, be 
sides being imperceptible to thy own particular organs of 
sense ? 

Z By no means. 

Spirit. Visible, perceptible absolutely ? or with certain 
properties of colour, smoothness, roughness, and the like ? 

Z In the latter way. Nothing is visible or perceptible 
absolutely, because there is no absolute sense of sight or 

S2)irit. Then thou dost but spread through the whole 
mass thy own sensibility, that which is already familiar to 
thee, visibility as coloured, tangibility as rough, smooth, 
or the like ; and after all it is this sensibility itself of which 
alone thou art sensible ? Or dost thou find it otherwise ? 

Z By no means : what thou sayest follows from what I 
have already understood and admitted. 

Spirit. And yet thou dost perceive nothing behind the 
surface, and hast perceived nothing there ? 

Z Were I to break through, it, 1 should perceive some 

Spirit. So much therefore thou knowest beforehand. 
And this infinite divisibility, in which, as thou maintainest, 
thou canst never arrive at anything absolutely impercept 
ible, thou hast never carried it out, nor canst thou do so ? 

Z I cannot carry it out. 

Spirit. To a sensation, therefore, which thou hast really 
had, thou addest in imagination another which thou hast 
not had ? 

Z I am sensible only of that which I attribute to the 
surface ; I am not sensible of what lies behind it, and yet I 
assume the existence of something there which might be 
perceived. Yes, I must admit what thou sayest. 

Spirit. And the actual sensation is in part found to cor 
respond with what thou hast thus pre-supposed ? 

Z When I break through the surface of a body, I do in 
deed find beneath it something perceptible, as I pre-sup 
posed. Yes, I must admit this also. 


Spirit. Partly, however, thou hast maintained that^there 
is something beyond sensation, which cannot become appa 
rent to any actual perception. 

I. I maintain, that were I to divide a corporeal mass to 
infinity, I could never come to any part which is in itself 
imperceptible ; although I admit that I can never make the 
experiment, can never practically carry out the division of 
a corporeal mass to infinity. Yes, I must agree with thee 
in this al^o. 

Spirit. Thus there is nothing remaining of the object 
but what is perceptible, what is a property or attribute ; 
this perceptibility thou cxtendcst through a continuous 
space which, is divisible to infinity; and the true substratum 
or supporter of the attributes of things which thou hast 
sought, is, therefore, only the space which is thus filled ? 

I. Although 1 cannot be satisfied with this, but feel that 
I must still suppose iu. the object something more than this 
perceptibility and the space which it fills, yet I cannot point 
out this something, and I must therefore confess that I have 
hitherto been unable to discover any substratum but space 

Spirit. Always confess whatever thou perceivest to be 
true. The present obscurities will gradually become clear, 
and the unknown will be made known. Space itself, how 
ever, is not perceived: and thou canst not understand, how 
thou hast obtained this conception, or why thou extendest 
throughout it this property of perceptibility ? 

I. It is so. 

Spirit. As little dost thou understand how thou hast ob 
tained even this conception of a perceptibility out of thyself, 
since thou really perceivest only thine own sensation in thy 
self, not as the property of an external thing, but as an af 
fection of thine own being. 

/ So it is. I see. clearly that I really perceive only my 
own state, and not the object ; that I neither see, feel, nor 
hear this object ; but that, on the contrary, precisely there 
where the object should be, all seeing, feeling, and so forth, 
comes to an end. 


But I have a presentiment. Sensations, as affections of 
myself, have no extension whatever, but are simple states ; 
in their differences they are not contiguous to each other in 
space, but successive to each other in time. Nevertheless, 
I do extend them in space. May it not be by means of this 
extension, and simultaneously with it, that what is properly 
only my own feeling or sensation becomes changed for me 
into a perceptible something out of myself; and may not 
this be the precise point at which there arises within me a 
consciousness of the external object ? 

Spirit. This conjecture may be confirmed. But could we 
raise it immediately to a conviction, we should thereby at 
tain to no complete insight, for this higher question would 
still remain to be answered, How dost thou first come to 
extend sensation through space ? Let us then proceed at 
once to this question ; and let us propound it more gene 
rally I have my reasons for doing so in the following 
manner : How is it, that, with thy consciousness, which is 
but an immediate consciousness of thyself, thou proceedest 
out of thyself; and to the sensation which thou dost per 
ceive, superaddest an object perceived and perceptible, 
which yet thou dost not perceive ? 

I. Sweet or bitter, fragrant or ill-scented, rough or 
smooth, cold or warm, these qualities, when applied to 
things, signify whatever excites in me this or that taste, 
smell, or other sensation. It is the same with respect to 
sounds. A relation to myself is always indicated, and it 
never occurs to me that the sweet or bitter taste, the pleas 
ant or unpleasant smell, lies in the thing itself; it lies in 
me, and it only appears to be excited by the object. It 
seems indeed to be otherwise with the sensations of sight, 
with colours, for example, which may not be pure sensations, 
but a sort of intermediate affections ; yet when we consider 
it strictly, red, and the others, means nothing more than 
what produces in me a certain sensation of sight. This 
leads me to understand how it is that I attain to a know- 


ledge of tilings out of myself. I am affected in a particular 
manner this I know absolutely ; this affection must have 
a foundation; this foundation is not in myself, and therefore 
must be out of myself; thus I reason rapidly and uncon 
sciously, and forthwith assume the existence of such a foun 
dation, namely, the object. This foundation must be one 
by which the particular affection in question may be ex 
plained ; I am affected in the manner which I call a sweet 
taste, the object must therefore be of a kind to excite a 
sweet taste, or more briefly, must itself be sweet. In this 
way I determine the character of the object. 

Spirit. There may be some truth in what thou sayest, 
although it is not the whole truth which might be said 
upon the subject. How this stands we shall undoubtedly 
discover in due time. Since, however, it cannot be denied 
that in other cases thou dost discover some truth by means 
of this principle of causality, so I term the doctrine which 
thou hast just asserted, that everything (in this case thy af 
fection) must have a foundation or cause, since this, I say, 
cannot be denied, it may not be superfluous to learn strictly 
to understand this procedure, and to make it perfectly clear 
to ourselves what it is thou really dost when thou adoptest 
it. Let us suppose, in the meantime, that thy statement is 
perfectly correct, that it is by an unconscious act of reason 
ing, from the effect to the cause, that thou first comest to 
assume the existence of an outward object; what then was 
it which thou wert here conscious of perceiving ? 

I. That I was affected in a certain manner. 

Spirit. But of an object, affecting thee in a certain man 
ner, thou wert not conscious, at least not as a perception ? 

/. By no means. I have already admitted this. 

Spirit. Then, by this principle of causality, thou addest to 
a knowledge which thou hast, another which thou hast not ? 

/. Thy words are strange. 

Spirit. Perhaps I may succeed in removing this strange 
ness. But let my words appear to thee as they may. They 
ought only to lead thee to produce in thine own mind the 
same thought that I have produced in mine ; not serve thee 


as a text-book which thou hast only to repeat. When thou 
hast the thought itself firmly and clearly in thy grasp, then 
express it as thon wilt, and with as much variety as thou 
wilt, and be sure that thou wilt always express it well. 

How, and by what means, knowcst thou of this affection 
of thyself? 

I. It would be difficult to answer th.ce in words : Be 
cause my conscious-ness, as a subjective attribute, as the 
determination of my being in so far as I am an intelligence, 
proceeds directly upon the existence of this affection as its 
object, as that of which I am conscious, and is inseparable 
from it ; because I am possessed of consciousness at all 
only in so far as I am cognisant of such an affection cog 
nisant of it absolutely, just as I am cognisant of my own 

Spirit. Thou hast therefore an organ, consciousness it 
self, whereby thou perccivcst such an affection of thyself? 

I. Yes. 

Spirit. But an organ whereby thou perceivcst the object 
itself, thou hast not ? 

I. Since thou hast convinced me that I neither sec nor 
feel the object itself, nor apprehend it by any external sense, 
I find myself compelled to confess that I have no such or 

Spirit. Bethink tliee well of this. It may be turned 
against thee that thou hast made me this admission. What 
then is thy external sense at all, and how can*t thou call it 
external, if it have no reference to any external object, and 
be not the organ whereby thou hast any knowledge of such? 

/. I desire truth, and trouble myself little about what 
maybe turned against me. I distinguish absolutely because 
I do distinguish them, green, sweet, red. smooth, bitter, fin- 
grant, rough, ill-scented, the sound of a violin and of a trum 
pet. Among these sensations I place some in a certain rela 
tion of likeness to each other, although in other respects I 
distinguish them from each other; thus I fi-id green and 
red, .sweet and bitter, rough and smooth, &c., to have a cer 
tain relation of similarity to each other, and this similarity I 


feel to be respectively one of sight, taste, touch, &c. Sight, 
taste, and so forth, are not indeed in themselves actual sen 
sations, for I never see or feel absolutely, as thou hast pre 
viously remarked, but always see red or green, taste sweet or 
bitter, &c. Sight, taste, and the like, are only higher defini 
tions of actual sensations ; they are classes to which I refer 
these latter, not by arbitrary arrangement, but guided by the 
immediate sensation itself. I see in them therefore not ex 
ternal senses, but only particular definitions of the objects of 
the inward sense, of my own states or affections. How they 
become external senses, or, more strictly speaking, how I 
come to regard them as such, and so to name them, is now 
the question. I do not take back my admission that I have 
no organ for the object itself. 

Spirit. Yet thou speakest of objects as if thou didst 
really know of their existence, arid hadst an organ for such 
knowledge ? 

/. Yes. 

Spirit. And this thou dost, according to thy previous as 
sumption, in consequence of the knowledge which thou dost 
really possess, and for which thou hast an organ, and on 
account of this knowledge ? 

/. It is so. 

Spirit. Thy real knowledge, that of thy sensations or af 
fections, is to thee like an imperfect knowledge, which, as 
thou sayest, requires to be completed by another. This 
other new knowledge thou conceivest and describest to thy 
self, not as something which thou hast, for thou hast it 
not, but as something which thou shouldst have, over and 
above thy actual knowledge, if thou hadst an organ where 
with to apprehend it. "I know nothing indeed," thou seem- 
est to say, " of things in themselves, but such things there 
must be ; if I could but find them, they are to be found." 
Thou supposest another organ, which indeed is not thine, 
and this thou employ est upon them, and thereby appre- 
hendest them, of course in thought only. Strictly speaking, 
thou hast no consciousness of things, but only a consciousness 
(produced by a procession out of thy actual consciousness by 

o a 


means of the principle of causality) of a consciousness of 
things (such as ought to be, such as of necessity must be, al 
though not accessible to thee) ; and now thou wilt perceive 
that, in the supposition thou hast made, thou hast added to 
a knowledge which thou hast, another which thou hast not. 

/. I must admit this. 

Spirit. Henceforward let us call this second knowledge, 
obtained by means of another, mediate, and the first immedi 
ate knowledge. A certain school has called this procedure 
which we have to some extent described above, a synthesis ; 
by which we are to understand not a con-nexion established 
between two elements previously existing, but an an-nexion, 
and an addition of a wholly new element, arising through 
this an-nexion, to another element previously existing inde 
pendently of such addition. 

Thus the first consciousness appears as soon as thou dis- 
coverest thy own existence, and the latter is not discovered 
without the former ; the second consciousness is produced in 
thee by means of the first. 

/. But not successive to it in time ; for I am conscious of 
external things at the very same undivided moment in 
which I become conscious of myself. 

Spirit. I did not speak of such a succession in time at 
all ; but I think that when thou reflectest upon that undi 
vided consciousness of thyself and of the external object, 
distinguish est between them, and inquirest into their con 
nexion, thou wilt find that the latter can be conceived of 
only as conditioned by the former, and as only possible on 
the supposition of its existence ; but not vice versa. 

I. So I find it to be ; and if that be all thou wouldst say, 
I admit thy assertion, and have already admitted it. 

Spirit. Thou engenderest, I say, this second conscious 
ness ; producest it by a real act of thy mind. Or dost thou 
find it otherwise ? 

/ I have surely admitted this already. I add to the 
consciousness which is simultaneous with that of my exist- 


ence, another which I do not find in myself; I thus com 
plete and double my actual consciousness, and this is cer 
tainly an act. But I am tempted to take back either my 
admission, or else the whole supposition. I am .perfectly 
conscious of the act of my mind when I form a general con 
ception, or when in cases of doubt I choose one of the many 
possible modes of action which lie before me ; but of the act 
through which, according to thy assertion, I must produce 
the presentation of an object out of myself, I am not con 
scious at all. 

Spirit. Do not be deceived. Of an act of thy mind thou 
canst become conscious only in so far as thou dost pass 
through a state of indetermination and indecision, of which 
thou wert likewise conscious, and to which this act puts an 
end. There is no such state of indecision in the case we 
have supposed ; the mind has no need to deliberate what 
object it shall superadd to its particular sensations, it is 
done at once. We even find this distinction in philosophi 
cal phraseology. An act of the mind, of which we are con 
scious as such, is called freedom. An act without conscious 
ness of action, is called spontaneity. Remember that I by 
no means demand of thee an immediate consciousness of the 
act as such, but only that on subsequent reflection thou 
shouldst discover that there must have been an act. The 
higher question, what it is that prevents any such state of 
indecision, or any consciousness of our act, will undoubted 
ly be afterwards solved. 

This act of the mind is called thought ; a word which I 
have hitherto employed with thy concurrence; and it is said 
that thought takes place with spontaneity, in opposition to 
sensation which is mere receptivity. How is it then, that, 
in thy previous statement, thou addest in thought to the 
sensation which thou certainly hast, an object of which thou 
knowest nothing ? 

/. I assume that my sensation must have a cause, and 
then proceed further, 

Spirit. Wilt thou not, in the first place, explain to mo 
what is a cause ? 


/. I find a thing determined this way or that. I cannot 
rest satisfied with knowing that so it is ; it has become so, 
and that not by itself, but by means of a foreign power. 
This foreign power, that made it what it is, contains the 
cause, and the manifestation of that power, which did actu 
ally make it so, is the cause of this particular determination 
of the thing. That my sensation must have a cause, means 
that it is produced within me by a foreign power. 

Spirit. This foreign power thou now addest in thought to 
the sensation of which thou art immediately conscious, and 
thus there arises in thee the presentation of an object? 
Well, let it be so. 

Now observe ; if sensation must have a cause, then I ad 
mit the correctness of thy inference ; and I see with what 
perfect right thou assumest the existence of objects out of 
thyself, nothwithstanding that thou neither knowest nor 
canst know aught of them. But how then dost thou know, 
and how dost thou propose to prove, that sensation must 
have a cause ? Or, in the general manner in which thou 
hast stated the proposition, why canst thou not rest satisfied 
to know that something is ? why must thou assume that it 
has become so, or that it has become so by means of a foreign 
power ? I note that thou hast always only assumed this. 

/. I confess it. But I cannot do otherwise than think so. 
It seems as if I knew it immediately. 

Spirit. What this answer, "thou knowest it immediately," 
may signify, we shall see should we be brought back to it as 
the only possible one. We will however first try all other 
possible methods of ascertaining the grounds of the asser 
tion that everything must have a cause. 

Dost thou know this by immediate perception ? 

I. How could I ? since perception only declares that in 
me something is, according as I am determined this way or 
that, but never that it has become so ; still less that it has 
become so by means of a foreign power lying beyond all 

Spirit. Or dost thou obtain this principle by generalisa 
tion of thy observation of external things, the cause of which 


thou hast always discovered out of themselves ; an observa 
tion which thou now appliest to thyself and to thine own 
condition ? 

/. Do not treat me like a child, and ascribe to me pal 
pable absurdities. By the principle of causality I first arrive 
at a knowledge of things out of myself; how then can I 
again, by observation of these things, arrive at this principle 
itself. Shall the earth rest on the great elephant, and the 
great elephant again upon the earth ? 

Spirit. Or is this principle a deduction from some other 
general truth ? 

/. Which again could be founded neither on immediate 
perception, nor on the observation of external things, and 
concerning the origin of which thou wouldst still raise other 
questions ! I might only possess this previous fundamental 
truth by immediate knowledge. Better to say this at once 
of the principle of causality and let thy conjectures rest. 

Spirit. Let it be so ; we then obtain, besides the first 
immediate knowledge of our own states, through sensible 
perception, a second immediate knowledge concerning a 
general truth ? 

I. So it appears. 

Spirit. The particular knowledge now in question, name 
ly, that thy affections or states must have a cause, is entirely 
independent of the knowledge of things ? 

I. Certainly, for the latter is obtained only by means of 

Spirit. And thou hast it absolutely in thyself? 

/. Absolutely, for only by means of it do I first proceed 
out of myself. 

Spirit. Out of thyself therefore, and through thyself, and 
through thine own immediate knowledge, thou prescribest 
laws to being and its relations ? 

I. Kightly considered, I prescribe laws only to my own 
presentations of being and its relations, and it will be more 
correct to make use of this expression. 

Spirit. Be it so. Art thou then conscious of these laws 
in any other way than as thou dost act in accordance with 
them ? 


/. My consciousness begins with the perception of my 
own state ; I connect directly therewith the presentation of 
an object according to the principle of causality ; both of 
these, the consciousness of my own state, and the presenta 
tion of an object, are inseparably united, there is no inter 
vening consciousness between them, and this one undivided 
consciousness is preceded by no other. No, it is impossible 
that I should be conscious of this law before acting in ac 
cordance with it, or in any other way than by so acting. 

Spirit. Thou actest upon this law therefore without be 
ing conscious of it; thou actest upon it immediately and 
absolutely. Yet thou didst but now declare thyself conscious 
of it, and didst express it as a general proposition. How 
hast thou arrived at this latter consciousness ? 

/. Doubtless thus. I observe myself subsequently, and 
perceive that I have thus acted, and combine this ordinary 
course of procedure into a general law. 

Spirit. Thou canst therefore become conscious of this 
course of procedure ? 

/. Unquestionably, I guess the object of these ques 
tions. This is the above-mentioned second kind of im 
mediate consciousness, that of my activity; as the first is 
sensation, or the consciousness of my passivity. 

Spirit. Right. Thou mayest subsequently become con 
scious of thine own acts, by free observation of thyself and 
by reflection ; but it is not necessary that thou shouldst be 
come so ; thou dost not become immediately conscious of 
them at the moment of thy internal act. 

/. Yet I must be originally conscious of them, for I am 
immediately conscious of my presentation of the object at 
the same moment that I am conscious of the sensation. I 
have found the solution ; I am immediately conscious of my 
act, only not as such; but it moves before me as an objective 
reality. This consciousness is a consciousnesss of the object. 
Subsequently by free reflection I may also become conscious 
of it as an act of my own mind. 

My immediate consciousness is composed of two ele 
ments : the consciousness of my passivity, t. e. sensation; 


and of my activity, in the creation of an object according to 
the law of causality; the latter consciousness connecting 
itself immediately with the former. My consciousness of the 
object is only a yet unrecognised consciousness of my creation 
of a presentation of an object. I am cognisant of this creation 
only because I myself am the creator. And thus all con 
sciousness is immediate, is but a consciousness of myself, and 
therefore perfectly comprehensible. Am I in the right ? 

Spirit. Perfectly so ; but whence then the necessity and 
universality thou hast ascribed to thy principles ; in this 
case to the principle of causality ? 

/. From the immediate feeling that I cannot act other 
wise, as surely as I have reason ; and that no other reason 
able being can act otherwise, as surely as it is a reasonable 
being. My proposition, "All that is contingent, such as in 
this case my sensation, must have a cause," means the fol 
lowing : " I have at all times pre-supposed a cause, and every 
one who thinks will likewise be constrained to pre-suppose a 

Spirit. Thou perceivest then that all knowledge is merely 
a knowledge of thyself; that thy consciousnes never goes 
beyond thyself; and that what thou assumest to be a con 
sciousness of the object is nothing but a consciousness of 
thine own supposition of an object, which, according to 
an inward law of thy thought, thou dost necessarily make 
simultaneously with the sensation itself. 

I. Proceed boldly with thy inferences; I have not inter 
rupted thee, I have even helped thee in the development of 
these conclusions. But now, seriously, I retract my whole 
previous position, that by means of the principle of causality 
I arrive at the knowledge of external things ; and I did in 
deed inwardly retract it as soon as it led us into serious 

In this way I could become conscious only of a mere 
power out of myself, and of this only as a conception of my 
own mind, just as for the explanation of magnetic pheno- 


mena, I suppose a magnetic or for the explanation of elec 
trical phenomena, an electrical power in Nature. 

But the world does not appear to me such a mere 
thought, the thought of a mere power. It is something 
extended, something which is thoroughly tangible, not, like 
a mere power, through its manifestations, but in itself; it 
does not, like this, merely produce, it has qualities ; I am 
inwardly conscious of my apprehension of it, in a manner 
quite different from my consciousness of mere thought ; it 
appears to me as perception, although it has been proved 
that it cannot be such ; and it would be difficult for me to 
describe this kind of consciousness, and to distinguish it 
from the other kinds of which we have spoken. 

Spirit. Thou must nevertheless attempt such a descrip 
tion, otherwise I shall not understand thee, and we shall 
never arrive at clearness. 

I. I will attempt to open a way towards it. I beseech 
thee, O Spirit! if thy organ of sight be like mine, to fix 
thine eye on the red object before us, to surrender thyself 
unreservedly to the impression produced by it, and to forget 
meanwhile thy previous conclusions ; and now tell me can 
didly what takes place in thy mind. 

Spirit. I can completely place myself in thy position ; and 
it is no purpose of mine to disown any impression which has 
an actual existence. But tell me, what is the effect you an 
ticipate ? 

I. Dost thou not perceive and apprehend at a single 
glance, the surface ? I say the surface, does it not stand 
there present before thee, entire and at once ? art thou 
conscious, even in the most distant and obscure way, of this 
extension of a simple red point to a line, and of this line to 
a surface, of which thou hast spoken ? It is an after-thought 
to divide this surface, and conceive of its points and lines. 
Wouldst thou not, and would not every one who impartially 
observes himself, maintain and insist, noth withstanding thy 
former conclusions, that he really saw a surface of such or 
such a colour ? 

Spirit. I admit all this ; and on examining myself, I find 
that it is exactly so as thou hast described. 


But, in the first place, hast thou forgotten that it is not 
our object to relate to each other what presents itself in 
consciousness, as in a journal of the human mind, but to 
consider its various phenomena in their connexion, and to 
explain them by, and deduce them from, each other ; and 
that consequently none of thy observations, which certain 
ly cannot be denied, but which must be explained, can over 
turn any one of my just conclusions. 
I. I shall never lose sight of this. 

Spirit. Then do not, in the remarkable resemblance of 
this consciousness of bodies out of thyself, which yet thou 
canst not describe, to real perception, overlook the great dif 
ference nevertheless existing between them. 

/. I was about to mention this difference. Each indeed 
appears as an immediate, not as an acquired or produced 
consciousness. But sensation is consciousness of my own 
state. Not so the consciousness of the object itself, which 
has absolutely no reference to me. I know that it is, and 
this is all ; it does not concern me. If, in the first case, I 
seem like a soft strain of music which is modulated now in 
this way now in that, in the other, I appear like a mirror 
before which objects pass without producing the slightest 
change in it. 

This distinction however is in my favour. Just so much 
the more do I seem to have a distinct consciousness of an 
existence out of myself, entirely independent of the sense of 
my own state of being; of an existence out of myself, I 
say for this differs altogether in kind from the conscious 
ness of my own internal states. 

Spirit. Thou observest well but do not rush too 
hastily to a conclusion. If that whereon we have already 
agreed remains true, and thou canst be immediately con 
scious of thyself only ; if the consciousness now in question 
be not a consciousness of thine own passivity, and still less 
a consciousness of thine own activity; may it riot then be 
an unrecognised consciousness of thine own being ? of th v 
being in so far as thou art a knowing being, an Intelli 
gence ? 

r a 


/. I do not understand thee ; but help me once more, 
for I wish to understand thee. 

Spirit. I must then demand thy whole attention, for I 
am here compelled to go deeper, and expatiate more widely, 
than ever. What art thou ? 

Z To answer thy question in the most general way, I 
am I, myself. 

Spirit. I am well satisfied with this answer. What dost 
thou mean when thou sayest " I "; what lies in this con 
ception, and how dost thou attain it ? 

7. On this point I can make myself understood only by 
contrast. External existence the thing, is something out 
of me, the cognitive being. I am myself this cognitive be 
ing, one with the object of my cognition. As to my con 
sciousness of the former, there arises the question, Since 
the thing cannot know itself, how can a knowledge of it 
arise ? how can a consciousness of the thing arise in me, 
since I myself am not the thing, nor any of its modes or 
forms, and all these modes and forms lie within the circle of 
its own being, and by no means in mine ? How does the 
thing reach me ? What is the tie between me, the subject, 
and the thing which is the object of my knowledge ? But as 
to my consciousness of myself, there can be no such quest 
ion. In this case, I have my knowledge within myself, for 
I am intelligence. What I am, I know because I am it ; 
and that whereof I know immediately that I am it, that I 
am because I immediately know it. There is here no need 
of any tie between subject and object ; my own nature is 
this tie. I am subject and object : and this subject-object 
ivity, this return of knowledge upon itself, is what I mean 
by the term fl I," when I deliberately attach a definite 
meaning to it. 

Spirit. Thus it is in the identity of subject and object 
that thy nature as an intelligence consists ? 

/. Yes. 

Spirit. Canst thou then comprehend the possibility of 
thy becoming conscious of this identity, which is neither 
subject nor object, but which lies at the foundation of both, 
and out of which both arise? 


/. By no means. It is the condition of all my conscious 
ness, that the conscious being, and what he is conscious of, 
appear distinct and separate. I cannot even conceive of 
any other consciousness. In the very act of recognising 
myself, I recognise myself as subject and object, both how 
ever being immediately bound up with each other. 

Spirit. Canst thou become conscious of the moment in 
which this inconceivable one separated itself into these 
two ? 

/. How can I, since my consciousness first becomes pos 
sible in and through their separation, since it is my con 
sciousness itself that thus separates them ? Beyond con 
sciousness itself there is no consciousness. 

Spirit. It is this separation, then, that thou necessarily 
recognisest in becoming conscious of thyself ? In this thy 
very original being consists ? 

/. So it is. 

Spirit. And on what then is it founded ? 

/. I am intelligence, and have consciousness in myself. 
This separation is the condition and result of consciousness. 
It has its foundation, therefore, in myself, like conscious 

Spirit. Thou art intelligence, thou sayest, at least this is 
all that is now in question, and as such thou becomest an 
object to thyself. Thy knowledge, therefore in its objective 
capacity, presents itself before thyself, i. e. before thy know 
ledge in its subjective capacity; and floats before it, but with 
out thou thyself being conscious of such a presentation ? 

1. So it is. 

Spirit. Canst thou not then adduce some more exact 
characteristics of the subjective and objective elements as 
they appear in consciousness ? 

/. The subjective appears to contain within itself the 
foundation of consciousness as regards its form, but by no 
means as regards its substance. That there is a conscious 
ness, an inward perception and conception, of this the 
foundation lies in itself; but that precisely this or that is 
conceived, in this it is dependent on the objective, with 


which it is conjoined and by which it is likewise borne 
along. The objective, on the contrary, contains the founda 
tion of its being within itself ; it is in and for itself, it is, 
as it is, because it is. The subjective appears as the still and 
passive mirror of the objective ; the latter floats before it. 
That the former should reflect images generally, lies in it 
self. That precisely this image and none other should be 
reflected, depends on the latter. 

Spirit. The subjective, then, according to its essential 
nature, is precisely so constituted as thou hast previously 
described thy consciousness of an existence out of thyself to 

/. It is true, and this agreement is remarkable. I begin 
to believe it half credible, that out of the internal laws of 
my own consciousness may proceed even the presentation of 
an existence out of myself, and independent of me ; and 
that this presentation may at bottom be nothing more than 
the presentation of these laws themselves. 

Spirit. And why only half credible ? 

/ Because I do not yet see why precisely such a presen 
tation a presentation of a mass extended through space 
should arise. 

Spirit. Thou hast already seen that it is only thine own 
sensation which thou extendest through space ; and thou 
hast had some forebodings that it is by this extension in 
space alone that thy sensation becomes transformed for thee 
into something sensible. We have therefore to do at present 
only with space itself, and to explain its origin in conscious 

/. So it is. 

Spirit. Let us then make the attempt. I know that thou 
canst not become conscious of thy intelligent activity as 
such, in so far as it remains in its original and unchangeable 
unity; i.e. in the condition which begins with thy very be 
ing, and can never be destroyed without at the same time 
destroying that being ; and such a consciousness therefore 
I do not ascribe to thee. But thou canst become conscious 
of it in so far as it passes from one state of transition to 


another within the limits of this unchangeable unity. 
When thou dost represent it to thyself in the performance 
of this function, how does it appear to thee this internal 
spiritual activity ? 

/. My spiritual faculty appears as if in a state of internal 

motion, swiftly passing from one point to another; in 

short, as an extended line. A definite thought makes a 
point in this line. 

Spirit. And why as an extended line ? 

I. Can I give a reason for that beyond the circle of which 
I cannot go without at the same time overstepping the 
limits of my own existence ? It is so, absolutely. 

Spirit. Thus, then, does a particular act of thy conscious 
ness appear to thee. But what shape then is assumed, not 
by thy produced, but by thy inherited, knowledge, of which 
all specific thought is but the revival and farther definition? 
how does this present itself to thee ? Under what image 
does it appear ? 

/. Evidently as something in which one may draw lines 
and make points in all directions, namely, as space. 

Spirit. Now then, it will be entirely clear to thee, how 
that, which really proceeds from thyself, may nevertheless, 
appear to thee as an existence external to thyself, nay, 
must necessarily appear so. 

Thou hast penetrated to the true source of the presenta 
tion ^ of things out of thyself. This presentation is not per 
ception, for thou perceivest thyself only; as little is it 
thought, for things do not appear to thee as mere results of 
thought. It is an actual, and indeed absolute and immedi 
ate consciousness of an existence out of thyself, just as per 
ception is an immediate consciousness of thine own condi 
tion. Do not permit thyself to be perplexed by sophists and 
half-philosophers; things do not appear to thee through any 
representation ; of the thing that exists, and that can exist, 
thou art immediately conscious ; and there is no other 
thing than that of which thou art conscious. Thou thyself 
art the thing ; thou thyself, by virtue of thy fmitude the 
innermost law of thy being art thus presented before thy- 


self, and projected out of thyself; and all that thou pcrceiv- 
est out of thyself is still thyself only. This consciousness 
has been well named INTUITION. In all consciousnes I con 
template myself, for I am myself: to the subjective, con 
scious being, consciousness is self-contemplation. And the 
objective, that which is contemplated and of which I am 
conscious, is also myself, the same self which contemplates, 
but now floating as an objective presentation before the 
subjective. In this respect, consciousness is an active retro 
spect of my own intuitions ; an observation of myself from 
my own position ; a projection of myself out of myself by 
means of the only mode of action which is properly mine, 
perception. I am a living faculty of vision. I see (conscious 
ness] my own vision (the thing of which I am conscious.} 

Hence this object is also thoroughly transparent to thy 
mind s eye, because it is thy mind itself. Thou dividest, 
limitest, determinest, the possible forms of things, and the 
relations of these forms, previous to all perception. No 
wonder, for in so doing thou dividest, limitest, and deter 
minest thine own knowledge, which undoubtedly is suffi 
ciently known to thee. Thus does a knowledge of things 
become possible. It is not in the things, and cannot pro 
ceed out of them. It proceeds from thee, and is indeed 
thine own nature. 

There is no outward sense, for there is no outward per 
ception. There is, however, an outward intuition ; not of 
things, but this outward intuition this knowledge appar 
ently external to the subjective being, and hovering before 
it, is itself the thing, and there is no other. By means of 
this outward intuition are perception and sense regarded 
as external. It remains eternally true, for it is proved, 
that I see or feel a surface, my sight or feeling takes the 
shape of the sight or feeling of a surface. Space, illumina 
ted, transparent, palpable, penetrable space, the purest 
image of my knowledge, is not seen, but is an intuitive pos 
session of my own mind ; in it even my faculty of vision it 
self is contained. The light is not out of, but in me, and I 
myself am the light. Thou hast already answered my quest- 


ion, " How dost tliou know of thy sensations, of thy seeing, 
feeling, &c. ?" by saying that thou hast an immediate know 
ledge or consciousness of them. Now, perhaps, thou wilt be 
able to define more exactly this immediate consciousness 
of sensation. 

/ It must be a two-fold consciousness. Sensation is it 
self an immediate consciousness ; for I am sensible of my 
own sensation. But from this there arises no knowledge of 
outward existence, but only the feeling of my own state. I 
am however, originally, not merely a sensitive, but also an 
intuitive being ; not merely a practical being, but also 
an intelligence. I intuitively contemplate my sensation 
itself, and thus there arises from myself and my own nature, 
the cognition of an existence. Sensation becomes transform 
ed into its own object; my affections, as red, smooth, and 
the like, into a something red, smooth, &c. out of myself; and 
this something, and my relative sensation, I intuitively con 
template in space, because the intuition itself is space. 
Thus does it become clear why I believe that I see or feel 
surfaces, which, in fact, I neither see nor feel. I intuitively 
regard my own sensation of sight or touch, as the sight or 
touch of a surface. 

Spirit. Thou hast well understood me, or rather thyself. 

/. But now it is not at all by means of an inference, 
either recognised or unrecognised, from the principle of 
causality, that the thing is originated for me ; it floats im 
mediately before me, and is presented to my consciousness 
without any process of reasoning. I cannot say, as I have 
formerly said, that perception becomes transformed into a 
something perceivable, for the perceivable, as such, has pre 
cedence in consciousness. It is not with an affection of my 
self, as red, smooth, or the like, that consciousness begins, 
but with a red, smooth object out of myself. 

Spirit. If, however, thou wert obliged to explain what i,s 
red, smooth, and the like, couldst thou possibly make any 
other reply than that it was that by which thou wert affect- 


ed in a certain manner that thou namest red, smooth, &c. ? 

I. Certainly not, if you were to ask me, and I were to 
enter upon the question and attempt an explanation. But 
originally no one asks me the question, nor do I ask it of 
myself. I forget myself entirely, and lose myself in my in 
tuition of the object; become conscious, not of my own state, 
but only of an existence out of myself. Red, green, and the 
like, are properties of the thing ; it is red or green, and this 
is all. There can be no farther explanation, any more than 
there can be a farther explanation of these affections in me, 
on which we have already agreed. This is most obvious in 
the sensation of sight. Colour appears as something out of 
myself ; and the common understanding of man, if left to it 
self, and without farther reflection, would scarcely be per 
suaded to describe red, green, &c. as that which excited 
within him a specific affection. 

Spirit. But, doubtless, it would if asked regarding sweet 
or sour. It is not our business at present to inquire whe 
ther the impression made by means of sight be a pure sen 
sation, or whether it may be not rather be a middle term 
between sensation and intuition, and the bond by which 
they are united in our minds. But I admit thy assertion, 
and it is extremely welcome to me. Thou canst, indeed, 
lose thyself in the intuition ; and unless thou directest par 
ticular attention to thyself, or takest an interest in some 
external action, thou dost so, naturally and necessarily. This 
is the remark to which the defenders of a groundless con 
sciousness of external things appeal, when it is shown that 
the principle of causality, by which the existence of such 
things might be inferred, exists only in ourselves ; they deny 
that any such inference is made, and, in so far as they refer 
to actual consciousness in particular cases, this cannot be 
disputed. These same defenders, when the nature of intui 
tion is explained to them from the laws of intelligence it 
self, themselves draw this inference anew, and never weary 
of repeating that there must be something external to us 
which compels us to this belief. 

/ Do not trouble thyself about them at present, but in- 


struct me. I have no preconceived opinion, and seek for 
truth only. 

Spirit. Nevertheless, intuition necessarily proceeds from 
the perception of thine own state, although thou art not al 
ways clearly conscious of this perception, as thou hast al 
ready seen. Even in that consciousness in which thou losest 
thyself in the object, there is always something which is only 
possible by means of an unrecognised reference to thyself, 
and close observation of thine own state. 

/. Consequently, at all times and places the conscious 
ness of existence out of myself must be accompanied by an 
unobserved consciousness of myself ? 
Spirit. Just so. 

/ The former being determined through the latter, as 
it actually is ? 

Spirit. That is my meaning. 
/. Prove this to me, and I shall be satisfied. 
Spirit. Dost thou imagine only things in general as 
placed in space, or each of them individually as occupying a 
certain portion of space ? 

/. The latter, each thing has its determinate bulk. 
Spirit. And do different things occupy the same part of 
space ? 

I. By no means ; they exclude each other. They are be 
side, over or under, behind or before, each other ; nearer to 
me, or further from me. 

Spirit. And how dost thou come to this measurement 
and arrangement of them in space ? Is it by sensation ? 
/. How could that be, since space itself is no sensation ? 
Spirit. Or intuition ? 

I. This cannot be. Intuition is immediate and infal 
lible. What is contained in it does not appear as produced, 
and cannot deceive. But I must train myself to estimate, 
measure and deliberate upon, the size of an object, its dis 
tance, its position with respect to other objects. It is a 
truth known to every beginner, that we originally see all 
objects in the same line ; that we learn to estimate their 
greater or lesser distances ; that the child attempts to grasp 



distant objects as if they lay immediately before his eyes ; 
and that one born blind who should suddenly receive sight 
would do the same. This conception of distances is there 
fore a judgment ; no intuition, but an arrangement of my 
different intuitions by means of the understanding, I may 
err in my estimate of the size, distance, &c. of an object; and 
the so-called optical deceptions are not deceptions of sight, 
but erroneous judgments formed concerning the size of the 
object, concerning the size of its different parts in relation 
to each other, and consequently concerning its true figure 
and its distance from me and from other objects. But it 
does really exist in space, as I contemplate it, and the 
colours which I see in it are likewise really seen by me ; 
and here there is no deception. 

Spirit. And what then is the principle of this judgment, 
to take the most distinct and easy case, thy judgment 
of the proximity or distance of objects, how dost thou esti 
mate this distance ? 

/ Doubtless by the greater strength or feebleness of im 
pressions otherwise equal. I see before me two objects of 
the same red colour. The one whose colour I see more vi 
vidly, I regard as the nearer: that whose colour seems to me 
fainter, as the more distant, and as so much the more dis 
tant as the colour seems fainter. 

Spirit, Thus thou dost estimate the distance according to 
the degree of strength or weakness in the sensation ; and 
this strength or weakness itself, dost thou also estimate it? 

I. Obviously only in so far as I take note of my own af 
fections, and even of very slight differences in these. Thou 
hast conquered ! All consciousness of objects out of myself 
is determined by the clearness and exactitude of my con 
sciousness of my own states, and in this consciousness there 
is always a conclusion drawn from the effect in myself to a 
cause out of myself. 

Spirit. Thou art quickly vanquished ; and I must now 
myself carry forward, in thy place, the controversy against 
myself. My argument can only apply to those cases in 
which an actual and deliberate estimate of the size, dis- 


tarice, and position, of objects takes place, and in which 
thou art conscious of making such an estimate. Thou wilt 
however admit that this is by no means the common case, 
and that for the most part thou rather becomest conscious 
of the size, distance, &c. of an object at the very same un 
divided moment in which thou becornest conscious of the 
object itself. 

I. When once we learn to estimate the distances of ob 
jects by the strength of the impression, the rapidity of this 
judgment is merely the consequence of its frequent exercise. 
I have learnt, by a lifelong experience, rapidly to observe 
the strength of the impression and thereby to estimate the 
distance. My present conception is founded upon a combi 
nation, formerly made, of sensation, intuition, and previous 
judgments ; although at the moment I am conscious only of 
the present conception. I no longer apprehend generally 
red, green, or the like, out of myself, but a red or a green at 
this, that, or the other distance; but this last addition is merely 
a renewal of a judgment formerly arrived at by deliberate 

Spirit. Has it not then, at length, become clear to thee 
whether thou discoverest the existence of things out of thy 
self by intuition, or by reasoning, or both, and in how far 
by each of these ? 

/. Perfectly ; and I believe that I have now attained the 
fullest insight into the origin of my conceptions of objects 
out of myself. 

1. I am absolutely conscious of myself, because I am this 

/, myself; and that partly as a practical being, 
partly as an intelligence. The first consciousness is 
Sensation, the second Intuition unlimited space. 

2. I cannot comprehend the unlimited, for I am finite. I 

therefore set apart, in thought, a certain portion of 
universal space, and place the former in a certain re 
lation to the latter. 

3. The measure of this limited portion of space is the ex 

tent of my own sensibility, according to a principle 
which may be thus expressed : Whatever affects me 


in such, or such a manner is to be placed, in space, in 
such or such relations to the other things which 
affect me. 

The properties or attributes of the object proceed from 
the perception of my own internal state ; the space which it 
fills, from intuitive contemplation. By a process of thought, 
both are conjoined ; the former being added to the latter. 
It is so, assuredly, as we have said before : that which is 
merely a state or affection of myself, by being transferred or 
projected into space becomes an attribute of the object ; but 
it is so projected into space, not by intuition, but by thought, 
by measuring, regulating thought. Not that this act is to 
be regarded as an intellectual discovery or creation; but 
only as a more exact definition, by means of thought, of 
something which is already given in sensation and intuition, 
independent of all thought. 

Spirit. Whatever affects me in such or such a manner is 
to be placed in such or such relations : thus dost thou rea 
son in defining and arranging objects in space. But does 
not the declaration that a thing affects thee in a certain 
manner, include the assumption that it affects thee gene 
rally ? 

Z Undoubtedly. 

Spirit. And is any presentation of an external object pos 
sible, which is not in this manner limited and defined in 

space ? 

/. No; for no object exists in space generally, but each 
one in a determinate portion of space. 

Spirit. So that in fact, whether thou art conscious of it or 
not, every external object is assumed by thee as affecting 
thyself, as certainly as it is assumed as filling a determinate 
portion of space ? 

I. That follows, certainly. 

Spirit. And what kind of presentation is that of an object 
affecting thyself? 

I Evidently a thought ; and indeed a thought founded 
on the principle of causality already mentioned. I see now, 
still more clearly, that the consciousness of the object is en- 


grafted on my self-consciousness in two ways, partly by in 
tuition, and partly by thought founded on the principle of 
causality. The object, however strange it may seem, is at 
once the immediate object of my consciousness, and the re 
sult of deliberate thought. 

Spirit. In different respects, however. Thou must be 
capable of being conscious of this thought of the object ? 

I. Doubtless ; although usually I am not so. 

Spirit. Therefore to thy passive state, thy affection, thou 
dost superadd in thought an activity out of thyself, such as 
thou hast above described in the case of thy thought accord 
ing to the principle of causality ? 

/. Yes. 

Spirit. And with the same meaning and the same valid 
ity as thou didst describe it above. Thou thinkest so once 
for all, and must think so; thou canst not alter it, and canst 
know nothing more than that thou dost think so ? 

I. Nothing more. We have already investigated all this 

Spirit. I said, thou dost assume an object : in so far as 
it is so assumed, it is a product of thy own thought only ? 

/. Certainly, for this follows from the former. 

Spirit. And what now is this object which is thus as 
sumed according to the principle of causality ? 

I. A power out of myself. 

Spirit. Which is neither revealed to thee by sensation 
nor by intuition ? 

I. No ; I always remain perfectly conscious that I do not 
perceive it immediately, but only by means of its manifesta 
tions ; although I ascribe to it an existence independent of 
myself. I am affected, there must therefore be something 
that affects me, such is my thought. 

Spirit. The object which is revealed to thee in intuition, 
and that which thou assumest by reasoning, are thus very 
different things. That which is actually and immediately 
present before thee, spread out in space, is the object of in 
tuition ; the internal force within it, which is not present 
before thee, but whose existence thou art led to assert only 


by a process of reasoning, is the object of the understanding. 

I. The internal force within it, saidst thou ; and now I 
bethink me, thou art right. I place this force also in space, 
and superadd it to the mass by which I regard space as filled. 

Spirit. And what then, according to thy view, is the na 
ture of the relation subsisting between this force and the 
mass ? 

/. The mass, with its properties, is itself the result and 
manifestation of the inward force. This force has two modes 
of operation : one whereby it maintains itself, and assumes 
this particular form in which it appears ; another upon me, 
by which it affects me in a particular manner. 

Spirit. Thou hast formerly sought for another substratum 
for sensible attributes or qualities than the space which 
contains them ; something besides this space, permanent 
amid the vicissitudes of perpetual change. 

I. Yes, and this permanent substratum is found. It is 
force itself. This remains for ever the same amid all 
change, and it is this which assumes and supports all sen 
sible attributes or qualities. 

Spirit. Iiet uscast a glance back on all that we have now 
established. Thou feclest thyself in a certain state, afiected 
in a certain manner, which thou callest red, smooth, sweet, 
and so on. Of this thou knowest nothing, but simply that 
thou feelest, and feelest in this particular manner. Or dost 
thou know more than this ? Is there in mere sensation any 
thing more than mere sensation ? 

/. No. 

Spirit. Further, it is by thine own nature as an intelli 
gence, that there is space spread out before thee; or dost 
thou know anything more than this concerning space ? 

/. By no means. 

Spirit. Between that state of simple sensation, and this 
space which is spread out before thee, there is not the 
smallest connexion except that they are both present in thy 
consciousness. Or dost thou perceive any other connexion 
between them ? 

7. I see none. 


Spirit. But tbou art a thinking, as well as a sensitive and 
intuitive, being ; and yet neither dost thou know anything 
more of this matter, than that so thou art. Thou dost not 
merely feel thy sensible state, thou canst also conceive of 
it in thought; but it affords thee no complete thought; thou 
art compelled to add something to it, an external founda 
tion, a foreign power. Or dost thou know more of it than 
that thou dost so think, and that thou art compelled so to 
think ? 

/. I can know nothing more respecting it. I cannot pro 
ceed beyond my thought; for simply because I think it 
does it become my thought and fall under the inevitable 
laws of my being. 

Spirit. Through this thought of thine, there first arises a 
connexion between thy own state which thou feelest, and 
the space which thou dost intuitively contemplate; thou 
supposest in the latter the foundation of the former. Is it 
not so ? 

Z It is so. Thou hast clearly proved that I produce this 
connexion in my consciousness by my own thought only, 
and that such a connexion is neither directly felt, nor in 
tuitively perceived. But of any connexion beyond the lim 
its of my consciousness I cannot speak ; I cannot even de 
scribe such a connexion in any manner of way ; for even in 
speaking of it I must be conscious of it; and, since this con 
sciousness can only be a thought, the connexion itself could 
be nothing more than a thought; and this is precisely the 
same connexion which occurs in my ordinary natural con 
sciousness, and no other. I cannot proceed a hairs-breadth 
beyond this consciousness, any more than I can sprino- out 
of myself. All attempts to conceive of an absolute con 
nexion between things in themselves, and the / in itself, are 
but attempts to ignore our own thought, a strange foro-et- 
fulness of the undeniable fact that we can have no thought 
without having thought it. A thing in itself is a thought ; 
this, namely, that there is a great thought which yet no 
man has ever comprehended. 

Spirit. From thee then I need fear no objection to the 


principle now established : that our consciousness of things 
out of ourselves is absolutely nothing more, than the product of 
our own presentative faculty , and that, with regard to exter 
nal things, we can produce in this way nothing more than 
simply what we know, i. e. what is established by means of 
our consciousness itself, as the result of our being possessed 
of consciousness generally, and of this particular determinate 
consciousness subject to such and such laws. 
/. I cannot refute this. It is so. 

Spirit. Thou canst not then object to the bolder state 
ment of the same proposition; that in that which we call 
knowledge and observation of outward things, we at all 
times recognise and observe ourselves only ; and that in all 
our consciousness we know of nothing whatever but of our 
selves and of our own determinate states. 

I say, thou wilt not be able to advance aught against this 
proposition ; for if the external world generally arises for us 
only through our own consciousness, what is particular and 
multiform in this external world can arise in no other way ; 
and if the connexion between what is external to us and 
ourselves is merely a connexion in our own thought, then is 
the connexion of the multifarious objects of the external 
world among themselves undoubtedly this and no other. As 
clearly as I have now pointed out to thoe the origin of this 
system of objects beyond thyself and their relation to thee, 
could I also show thee the law according to which there 
arises an infinite multiplicity of such objects, mutually con 
nected, reciprocally determining each other with rigid ne 
cessity, and thus forming a complete world-system, as thou 
thyself hast well described it ; and I only spare myself this 
task because I find that thou hast already admitted the con 
clusion for the sake of which alone I should have under 
taken it. 

I. I see it all, and must assent to it. 

Spirit. And with this insight, mortal, be free, and for ever 

released from the fear which has degraded and tormented 

thee ! Thou wilt no longer tremble at a necessity which 

exists only in thine own thought; no longer fear to be 


crushed by things which are the product of thine own 
mind; no longer place thyself, the thinking being, in the 
same class with the thoughts which proceed from thee. As 
long as thou couldst believe that a system of things, such as 
thou hast described, really existed out of, and independently 
of, thee, and that thou thyself mightst be but a link in this 
chain, such a fear was well grounded. Now when thou hast 
seen that all this exists only in and through thyself, thou 
wilt doubtless no longer fear that which thou dost now re 
cognise as thine own creation. 

It was from this fear that I wished to set thee free. 
Thou art delivered from it, and I now leave thee to thyself. 

I. Stay, deceitful Spirit ! Is this all the wisdom towards 
which thou hast directed my hopes, and dost thou boast 
that thou hast set me free ? Thou hast set me free, it is 
true: thou hast absolved me from all dependence; for thou 
hast transformed myself, and everything around me on 
which I could possibly be dependent, into nothing. Thou 
hast abolished necessity by annihilating all existence. 

Spirit. Is the danger so great ? 

I. And thou canst jest ! According to thy system 

Spirit. My system ? Whatever we have agreed upon, we 
have produced in common ; we have laboured together, and 
thou hast understood everything as well as I myself. But it 
would still be difficult for thee at present even to guess at 
my true and perfect mode of thought. 

Z Call thy thoughts by what name thou wilt; by all that 
thou hast hitherto said, there is nothing, absolutely nothing 
but presentations, modes of consciousness, and of con* 
sciousness only. But a presentation is to me only the pic 
ture, the shadow, of a reality; in itself it cannot satisfy me, 
and has not the smallest worth. I might be content that 
this material world beyond me should vanish into a mere 
picture, or be dissolved into a shadow; I am not dependent 
on it: but according to thy previous reasoning, I myself dis 
appear no less than it; I myself am transformed into a mere 



presentation, without meaning and without purpose. Or 
tell me, is it otherwise ? 

Spirit. I say nothing in my own name. Examine, help 

/. I appear to myself as a body existing in space, with 
organs of sense and of action, as a physical force governed 
by a will. Of all this thou wilt say, as thou hast before said 
of objects out of myself, the thinking being, that it is a pro 
duct of sensation, intuition, and thought combined. 

Spirit. Undoubtedly. I will even show thee, step by step, 
if thou desirest it, the laws according to which thou appear- 
est to thyself in consciousness as an organic body, with such 
and such senses, as a physical force, &c., and thou wilt be 
compelled to admit the truth of what I show thee. 

/ I foresee that result. As I have been compelled to 
admit that what I call sweet, red, hard, and so on, is nothing 
more than my own affection; and that only by intuition and 
thought it is transposed out of myself into space, and re 
garded as the property of something existing independently 
of me ; so shall I also be compelled to admit that this body, 
with all its organs, is nothing but a sensible manifestation, 
in a determinate portion of space, of myself the inward 
thinking being ; that /, the spiritual entity, the pure intel 
ligence, and /, the bodily frame in the physical world, are 
one and the same, merely viewed from two different sides, 
and conceived of by two different faculties ; the first by 
pure thought, the second by external intuition. 

Spirit. This would certainly be the result of any inquiry 
that might be instituted. 

/. And this thinking, spiritual entity, this intelligence 
which by intuition is transformed into a material body, 
what can even it be, according to these principles, but a pro 
duct of my own thought, something merely conceived of by 
me because I am compelled to imagine its existence by vir 
tue of a law to me wholly inconceivable, proceeding from 
nothing and tending to nothing. 

Spirit. It is possible. 

/. Thou becomest hesitating and faint-hearted. It is not 


possible only : it is necessary, according to these principles. 

This perceiving, thinking, willing, intelligent entity, or 
whatever else thou mayest name that which possesses the 
faculties of perception, thought, and so forth ; that in 
which these faculties inhere, or in whatever other way thou 
mayest express this thought ; how do I attain a knowledge 
of it ? Am I immediately conscious of it ? How can I be ? 
It is only of actual and specific acts of perception, thought, 
will, &c., as of particular occurrences, that I am imme 
diately conscious ; not of the capacities through which 
they are performed, and still less of a being in whom these 
capacities inhere. I perceive, directly and intuitively, this 
specific thought which occupies me during the present mo 
ment, and other specific thoughts in other moments ; and 
here this inward intellectual intuition, this immediate con 
sciousness, ends. This inward intuitive thought, now be 
comes itself an object of thought ; but according to the laws 
under which alone I can think, it seems to me imperfect and 
incomplete, just as formerly the thought of my sensible 
states was but an imperfect thought. As formerly to mere 
passivity I unconsciously superadded in thought an active 
element, so here to my determinate state (my actual thought 
or will) I superadd a determinable element (an infinite, pos 
sible thought or will) simply because 1 must do so, and for the 
same reason, but without being conscious of this mental op 
position. This manifold possible thought I further compre 
hend as one definite whole ; once more because I must do 
so, since I am unable to comprehend anything indefinite, 
and thus I obtain the idea of a, finite capacity of thought, and 
since this idea carries with it the notion of a something 
independent of the thought itself of a being or entity 
which possesses this capacity. 

But, on higher principles, it may be made still more con 
ceivable how this thinking being is produced by its own 
thought. Thought in itself is genetic, assuming the pre 
vious creation of an object immediately revealed, and occu 
pying itself with the description of this object. Intuition 
gives the naked fact, and nothing more. Thought explains 


this fact, and unites it to another, not found in intuition, but 
produced purely by thought itself, from which it, the fact, 
proceeds. So here. I am conscious of a determinate 
thought ; thus far, and no farther, does intuitive conscious 
ness carry me. I think this determinate thought, that is, I 
bring it forth from an indeterminate, but determinable, pos 
sibility of thought. In this way I proceed with everything 
determinate which is presented in immediate consciousness, 
and thus arise for me all those series of capacities, and of 
beings possessing these capacities, whose existence I assume. 
Spirit. Even with respect to thyself, therefore, thou art 
conscious only that thou feelest, perceivest, or thinkest, in 
this or that determinate manner ? 

I. That /feel, /perceive, /think? that I, as the effi 
cient principle, produce the sensation, the intuition, the 
thought ? By no means ! Not even so much as this have 
thy principles left me. 
Spirit. Possibly. 

Z Necessarily ; for see : All that I know is my con 
sciousness itself. All consciousness is either an immediate 
or a mediate consciousness. The first is self-consciousness ; 
the second, consciousness of that which is not myself. What 
I call /, is therefore absolutely nothing more than a certain 
modification of consciousness, which is called /, just because 
it is immediate, returning into itself, and not directed out 
ward. Since all other consciousness is possible only under 
the condition of this immediate consciousness, it is obvious 
that this consciousness which is called / must accompany all 
my other conceptions, be necessarily contained in them, al 
though not always clearly perceived by me, and that in each 
moment of my consciousness I must refer everything to this /, 
and not to the particular thing out of myself thought of at the 
moment. In this way the /would at every moment vanish 
and reappear; and for every new conception a new /would 
arise, and this / would never signify anything more than 
not the thing. 

This scattered self-consciousness is now combined by 
thought, by mere thought, I say and presented in the 


unity of a supposed capacity of thought. According to this 
supposition, all conceptions which are accompanied by the 
immediate consciousness already spoken of, must proceed 
from one and the same capacity, which inheres in one and 
the same entity ; and thus there arises for me the notion of 
the identity and personality of my 7, and of an efficient and 
real power in this person, necessarily a mere fiction, since 
this capacity and this entity are themselves only supposi 

Spirit. Thou reasonest correctly. 

I. And thou hast pleasure in this ! I may then indeed 
say " it is thought," and yet I can scarcely say even this ; 
rather, strictly speaking, I ought to say " the thought ap 
pears that I feel, perceive, think," but by no means "that I 
feel, perceive, think." The first only is fact ; the second is 
an imaginary addition to the fact. 

Spirit. It is well expressed. 

I. There is nothing enduring, either out of me, or in me, 
but only a ceaseless change. I know of no being, not even 
of my own. There is no being. I myself absolutely know 
not, and am not. Pictures are : they are the only things 
which exist, and they know of themselves after the fashion 
of pictures: pictures which float past without there being 
anything past which they float ; which, by means of like 
pictures, are connected with each other : pictures without 
anything which is pictured in them, without significance 
and without aim. I myself am one of these pictures ; nay, 
I am not even this, but merely a confused picture of the 
pictures. All reality is transformed into a strange dream, 
without a life which is dreamed of, and without a mind 
which dreams it ; into a dream which is woven together in 
a dream of itself. Intuition is the dream; thought, the 
source of all the being and all the reality which I imagine, 
of my own being, my own powers, and my own purposes, 
is the dream of that dream. 

Spirit. Thou hast well understood it all. Employ the 
sharpest expressions to make this result hateful, since thou 
must submit to it. And this thou must do. Thou hast 


clearly seen that it cannot be otherwise. Or wilt thou now 
retract thy admissions, and justify thy retractation on 
principle ? 

I. By no means. I have seen, and now see clearly, that 
it is so ; yet I cannot believe it. 

Spirit. Thou seest it clearly, and yet canst not believe 
it ? That is a different matter. 

/. Thou art a profligate spirit : thy knowledge itself is 
profligacy, and springs from profligacy ; and I cannot thank 
thee for having led me on this path ! 

Spirit. Short-sighted mortal ! When men venture to 
look into being, and see as far as themselves, and a little 
further, such as thou art call it profligacy. I have allowed 
thee to deduce the results of our inquiry in thine own way, 
to analyze them, and to clothe them in hateful expressions. 
Didst thou then think that these results were less known to 
me than to thyself, that I did not understand, as well as 
thou, how by these principles all reality was thoroughly an 
nihilated, and transformed into a dream ? Didst thou then 
take me for a blind admirer and advocate of this system, as 
a complete system of the human mind ? 

Thou didst desire to know, and thou hadst taken a wrong 
road. Thou didst seek knowledge where no knowledge can 
reach ; and hadst even persuaded thyself that thou hadst 
obtained an insight into something which is opposed to the 
very nature of all insight. I found thee in this condition. 
I wished to free thee from thy false knowledge ; but by no 
means to bring thee the true. 

Thou didst desire to know of thy knowledge. Art thou 
surprised that in this way thou didst discover nothing more 
than that of which thou desiredst to know, thy knowledge 
itself; and wouldst thou have had it otherwise ? What has 
its origin in and through knowledge, is merely knowledge. 
All knowledge, however, is but pictures, representations ; 


and there is always something awanting in it, that which 
corresponds to the representation. This want cannot be 
supplied by knowledge ; a system of mere knowledge is ne 
cessarily a system of mere pictures, wholly without reality, 
significance or aim. Didst thou expect anything else ? 
Wouldst thou change the very nature of thy mind, and 
desire thy knowledge to be something more than know 
ledge ? 

The reality, in which thou didst formerly believe, a ma 
terial world existing independently of thee, of which thou 
didst fear to become the slave, has vanished ; for this 
whole material world arises only through knowledge, and is 
itself our knowledge ; but knowledge is not reality, just be 
cause it is knowledge. Thou hast seen through the illusion 
and, without belying thy better insight, thou canst never 
again give thyself up to it. This is the sole merit which I 
claim for the system which we have together discovered; it 
destroys and annihilates error. It cannot give us truth, for 
in itself it is absolutely empty. Thou dost now seek, and 
with good right as I well know, something real lying be 
yond mere appearance, another reality than that which has 
thus been annihilated. But in vain wouldst thou labour to 
create this reality by means of thy knowledge, or out of thy 
knowledge ; or to embrace it by thy understanding. If thou 
hast no other organ by which to apprehend it, thou wilt 
never find it. 

But thou hast such an organ. Arouse and animate it, 
and thou wilt attain to perfect tranquillity. I leave thee 
alone with thyself. 




TERRIBLE Spirit, thy discourse has smitten me to the 
ground. But thou referrest me to myself, and what were I 
could anything out of myself irrecoverably cast me down? I 
will, yes, surely I will follow thy counsel. 

What seekest thou, then, my complaining heart ? What 
is it that excites thee against a system to which my under 
standing cannot raise the slightest objection ? 
pThis it is: I demand something beyond a mere presenta 
tion or conception ; something that is, has been, and will be, 
even if the presentation were not ; and which the presenta 
tion only records, without producing it, or in the smallest 
decree changing it. A mere presentation I now see to be a 
deceptive show ; my presentations must have a meaning be 
neath them, and if my entire knowledge revealed to me 
nothing but knowledge, I would be defrauded of my whole 
life. That there is nothing whatever but my presentations 
or conceptions, is, to the natural sense of mankind, a silly 
and ridiculous conceit which no man can seriously entertain, 
and which requires no refutation. To the better-informed 
judgment, which knows the deep, and, by mere reasoning, ir- 
refrao-able grounds for this assertion, it is a prostrating, an 
nihilating thought. 

And what, then, is this something lying beyond all pre 
sentation, towards which I stretch forward with such ardent 


longing ? What is the power with which it draws me to 
wards it ? "What is the central point in my soul to which it 
is attached, and with which only it can be effaced ? 

" Not merely TO KXOW, but according to thy knowledge 
TO DO, is thy vocation :" thus is it loudly proclaimed in the 
innermost depths of my soul, as soon as I recollect myself 
for a moment, and turn my observation upon myself. " Not 
for idle contemplation of thyself, not for brooding over de 
vout sensations ; no, for action art thou here ; thine action, 
and thine action alone, determines thy worth." 

This voice leads me out from presentation, from mere 
cognition, to something which lies beyond it and is entirely 
opposed to it ; to something which is greater and higher 
than all knowledge, and which contains within itself the 
end and object of all knowledge. When I act, I doubtless 
know that I act, and how I act ; nevertheless this knowledge 
is not the act itself, but only the observation of it. This 
voice thus announces to me precisely that which I sought; a 
something lying beyond mere knowledge, and, in its nature, 
wholly independent of knowledge^ 

Thus it is, I know it immediately. But, having once en 
tered within the domain of speculation, the doubt which has 
been awakened within me will secretly endure and will 
continue to disturb me. Since I have placed myself in this 
position, I can obtain no complete satisfaction until every 
thing which I accept is justified before the tribunal of specu 
lation. I have thus to ask myself, how is it thus ? Whence 
arises that voice in my soul which directs me to something 
beyond mere presentation and knowledge ? 

There is within me an impulse to absolute, independent 
self-activity. Nothing is more insupportable to me, than to 
be merely by another, for another, and through another ; I 
must be something for myself and by myself alone, This 
impulse I feel along with the perception of own existence, 
it is inseparably united to my consciousness of myself. 

I explain this feeling to myself by reflection ; and, as it 
wereadd to this blind impulse the power of sight by means 
of thought. \ According to this impulse I must act as an 

s a 


absolutely independent being : thus I understand and 
translate the impulse. I must be independent. Who am 
I ? Subject and object in one, the conscious being and 
that of which I am conscious, gifted with intuitive know 
ledge and myself revealed in that intuition, the thinking 
mind and myself the object of the thought inseparable, 
and ever present to each other. As both, must I be what I 
am, absolutely by myself alone ; by myself originate con 
ceptions, by myself produce a condition of things lying be 
yond these conceptions. But how is the latter possible ? 
With nothing I cannot connect any being whatsoever ; from 
nothing there can never arise something; my objective 
thought is necessarily mediative only. But any being which 
is connected with another being becomes thereby depen 
dent ; it is no longer a primary, original, and genetic, but 
only a secondary and derived being. I am constrained to 
connect myself with something ; with another being I can 
not connect myself without losing that independence which 
is the condition of my own existence. 

My conception and origination of a purpose, however, is, 
by its very nature, absolutely free, producing something 
out of nothing. With such a conception I must connect my 
activity, in order that it may be possible to regard it as free, 
and as proceeding absolutely from myself alone. 

In the following manner, therefore do I conceive of my 
independence as /. 1 ascribe to myself the power of origi 
nating a conception simply because I originate it, of origi 
nating this conception simply because I originate this one, 
by the absolute sovereignty of myself as an intelligence. I 
further ascribe to myself the power of manifesting this con 
ception beyond itself by means of an action; ascribe to 
mvself a real, active power, capable of producing something 
beyond itself, a power which is entirely different from the 
mere power of conception. \Fhese conceptions, which are 
called conceptions of design, or purposes, are not, like the 
conceptions of mere knowledge, copies of something already 
existing, but rather types of something yet to be ; the real 
power lies beyond them, and is in itself independent of 


them; it only receives from them its immediate determi 
nations, which are apprehended by knowledge. Such an 
independent power it is that, in consequence of this impulse? 
I ascribe to myself. 

Here then, it appears, is the point at which consciousness 
connects itself with reality ; the real efficiency of my con 
ception, and the real power of action which, in consequence 
of it, I am compelled to ascribe to myself, is this point. 
Let it be as it may with the reality of a sensible world be 
yond me; I possess reality and comprehend it, it lies with 
in my own being, it is native to myself. 

I conceive this, my real power of action, in thought, but I 
do not create it by thought. The immediate feeling of my 
impulse to independent activity lies at the foundation of this 
thought ; the thought does no more than pourtray this feel 
ing, and accept it in its own form, the form of thought. 
This procedure may, I think, be vindicated before the tribu 
nal of speculation. 

What ! Shall I, once more, knowingly and intentionally 
deceive myself ? This procedure can by no means be justi 
fied before that strict tribunal. 

I feel within me an impulse and an effort towards out 
ward activity ; this appears to be true, and to be the only 
truth belonging to the matter. Since it is I who feel this 
impulse, and since I cannot pass beyond myself, either Avith 
my whole consciousness, or in particular with my capacity 
of sensation, since this /itself is the last point at which I 
am conscious of this impulse, it certainly appears to me as 
an impulse founded in myself, to an activity also founded in 
myself. Might it not be however that this impulse, al 
though unperceivcd by me, is in reality the impulse of a 
foreign power invisible to me, and that notion of indepen 
dence merely a delusion, arising from my sphere of vision 
being limited to myself alone ? I have no reason to assume 
this, but just as little reason to deny it. I must confess 
that I absolutely know nothing, and can know nothing, 
about it. 


Do I then indeed feel that real power of free action, 
which, strangely enough, I ascribe to myself without know 
ing anything of it ? By no means ; it is merely the deter- 
minable element, which by the well-known laws of thought 
whereby all capacities and all powers arise, we are compelled 
to add in imagination to the determinate element the real 
action, which itself is, in like manner, only an assumption. 

Is that procession, from the mere conception to an imagi 
nary realization of it anything more than the usual and 
well-known procedure of all objective thought, which always 
strives to be, not mere thought, but something more ? By 
what dishonesty can this procedure be made of more value 
here than in any other case? can it possess any deeper 
significance, when to the conception of a thought it adds a 
realization of this thought, than when to the conception of 
this table it adds an actual and present table ? " The con 
ception of a purpose, a particular determination of events in 
me, appears in a double shape, partly as subjective a 
Thought; partly as objective an Action." What reason, 
which would not unquestionably itself stand in need of a 
genetic deduction, could I adduce against this explana 
tion ? 

I say that I feel this impulse : it is therefore I myself 
who say so, and think so while I say it ? Do I then really 
feel, or only think that I feel ? Is not all which I call feel 
ing only a presentation produced by my objective process of 
thought, and indeed the first transition point of all object 
ivity ? And then again, do I really think, or do I merely 
think that I think ? And do I think that I really think, or 
merely that I possess the idea of thinking ? What can hin 
der speculation from raising such questions, and continuing 
to raise them without end ? What can I answer, and where 
is there a point at which I can command such questionings 
to cease ? I know, and must admit, that each definite act 
of consciousness may be made the subject of reflection, and 
a new consciousness of the first consciousness may thus be 
created; and that thereby the immediate consciousness is 
raised a step higher, and the first consciousness darkened 


and made doubtful ; and that to this ladder there is no 
highest step, I know that all scepticism rests upon this 
process, and that the system which has so violently prostra 
ted me is founded on the adoption and the clear conscious 
ness of it. 

I know that if I am not merely to play another perplex 
ing game with this system, but intend really and practically 
to adopt it, I must refuse obedience to that voice within 
me. I cannot will to act, for according to that system I 
cannot know whether I can really act or not : I can never 
believe that I truly act ; that which seems to be my action 
must appear to me as entirely without meaning, as a mere 
delusive picture. All earnestness and all interest is with 
drawn from my life ; and life, as well as thought, is trans 
formed into a mere play, which proceeds from nothing and 
tends to nothing. 

Shall I then refuse obedience to that inward voice ? I 
will not do so. I will freely accept the vocation which this 
impulse assigns to me, and in this resolution I will lay hold 
at once of thought, in all its reality and truthfulness, and on 
the reality of all things which are pre-supposed therein, I 
will restrict myself to the position of natural thought in 
which this impulse places me, and cast from me all those 
over-refined and subtile inquiries which alone could make 
me doubtful of its truth. 

I understand thee now, sublime Spirit! 1 1 have found the 
organ by which to apprehend this reality, and, with this, 

probably all other reality. Knowledge is not this organ : 

no knowledge can be its own foundation, its own proof; every 
knowledge presupposes another higher knowledge on which 
it is founded, and to this ascent there is no end. It is 
FAITH, that voluntary acquiescence in the view which is 
naturally presented to us, because only through this view 
we can fulfil our vocation ; this it is, which first lends a 
sanction to knowledge, and raises to certainty and conviction 
that which without it might be mere delusion. It is not 
knowledge, but a resolution of the will to admit the va 
lidity of knowledge. | 


Let me hold fast for ever by this doctrine, which is no 
mere verbal distinction, but a true and deep one, bearing 
with it the most important consequences for my whole exis 
tence and character. [ All my conviction is but faith ; and 
it proceeds from the will, not from the understanding. 
Knowing this, I will enter upon no disputation, because I 
foresee that thereby nothing can be gained; I will not suffer 
myself to be perplexed by it, for the source of my conviction 
lies higher than all disputation ; I will not surfer myself to 
entertain the desire of pressing this conviction on others by 
reasoning, and I will not be surprised if such an undertak 
ing should fail. I have adopted my mode of thinking first 
of all for myself, not for others, and before myself only will 
I justify it. He who possesses the honest, upright purpose 
of which I am conscious, will also attain a similar convic 
tion ; but without that, this conviction can in no way be at 
tained. Now that I know this, I also know from what point 
all culture of myself and others must proceed; from the will, 
not from the understanding. If the former be only fixedly 
and honestly directed towards the Good, the latter will of 
itself apprehend the True. Should the latter only be exer 
cised, whilst the former remains neglected, there can arise 
nothing whatever but a dexterity in groping after vain and 
empty refinements, throughout the absolute void inane. 
Now that I know this, I am able to confute all false know 
ledge that may rise in opposition to my faith. I know that 
every pretended truth, produced by mere speculative 
thought, and not founded upon faith, is assuredly false and 
surreptitious; for mere knowledge, thus produced, leads only 
to the conviction that we can know nothing. I know that 
such false knowledge never can discover anything but what 
it has previously placed in its premises through faith, from 
which it probably draws conclusions which are wholly false. 
Now that I know this, I possess the touchstone of all truth 
and of all conviction. is t>| 

truth^: whatever is opposed to conscience, or stands in the 
way of the fulfilment of her behests, is assuredly false ; and 
it is impossible for me to arrive at a conviction of its truth, 


even if I should be unable to discover the fallacies by which 
it is produced. 

So has it been with all men who have ever seen the light 
of this world. Without being conscious of it, they appre 
hend all the reality which has an existence for them, 
through faith alone ; and this faith forces itself on them 
simultaneously with their existence ; it is born with them. 
How could it be otherwise ? If in mere knowledge, in mere 
perception and reflection, there is no ground for regarding 
our mental presentations as more than mere pictures which 
necessarily pass before our view, why do we yet regard all 
of them as more than this, and assume, as their foundation, 
something which exists independently of all presentation ? 
If we all possess the capacity and the instinct to proceed be 
yond our first natural view of things, why do so few actually 
go beyond it, and why do we even defend ourselves, with a 
sort of bitterness, from every motive by which others try to 
persuade us to this course ? What is it which holds us con 
fined within this first natural belief? Not inferences of rea 
son, for there are none such ; it is the interest we have in 
a reality which we desire to produce ; the good, absolutely 
for its own sake, the common and sensuous, for the sake 
of the enjoyment they afford. No one who lives can divest 
himself of this interest, and just as little can he cast off the 
faith which this interest brings with it. We are all bom in 
faith ; he who is blind, follows blindly the secret and irre 
sistible impulse ; he who sees, follows by sight, and believes 
because he resolves to believe. 

What unity and completeness does this view present ! 

what dignity does it confer on human nature! Our thought 
is not founded on itself alone, independently of our impulses 
and affections ; man does not consist of two independent 
and separate elements; he is absolutely one. All our 
thought is founded on our impulses ; as a man s affections 
are, so is his knowledge. These impulses compel us to a 
certain mode of thought only so long as we do not perceive 


the constraint ; the constraint vanishes the moment it is 
perceived ; and it is then no longer the impulse by itself, 
but we ourselves, according to our impulse, who form our 
own system of thought. 

But I shall open my eyes; shall learn thoroughly to know 
myself; shall recognise that constraint; this is my vocation. 
I shall thus, and under that supposition I shall necessarily, 
form my own mode of thought. Then shall I stand abso 
lutely independent, thoroughly equipt and perfected through 
my own act and deed. The primitive source of all my other 
thought and of my life itself, that from which everything 
proceeds which can have an existence in me, for me, or 
through me, the innermost spirit of my spirit, is no longer 
a foreign power, but it is, in the strictest possible sense, the 
product of my own will. I am wholly my own creation. I 
might have followed blindly the leading of my spiritual na 
ture. But I would not be a work of Nature but of myself, 
and I have become so even by means of this resolution. By 
endless subtilties I might have made the natural conviction 
of my own mind dark and doubtful. But I have accepted 
it with freedom, simply because I resolved to accept it. I 
have chosen the system which I have now adopted with 
settled purpose and deliberation from among other possible 
modes of thought, because I have recognised in it the only 
one consistent with my dignity and my vocation. With free 
dom and consciousness I have returned to the point at 
which Nature had left me. I accept that which she an 
nounces ; but I do not accept it because I must ; I believe 
it because I will. 

The exalted vocation of my understanding fills me with 
reverence. It is no longer the deceptive mirror which re 
flects a series of empty pictures, proceeding from nothing 
and tending to nothing ; it is bestowed upon me for a great 
purpose. Its cultivation for this purpose is entrusted to 
me ; it is placed in my hands, and at my hands it will be re 
quired. It is placed in my hands. I know immediately, 


and here my faith accepts the testimony of my consciousness 
without farther criticism, I know that I am not placed un 
der the necessity of allowing my thoughts to float about 
without direction or purpose, but that I can voluntarily a- 
rouse and direct my attention to one object, or turn it away 
again towards another ; know that it is neither a blind 
necessity which compels me to a certain mode of thought, 
nor an empty chance which runs riot with my thoughts; but 
that it is I who think, and that I can think of that whereof 
I determine to think. Thus by reflection I have discovered 
something more ; I have discovered that I myself, by my 
own act alone, produce my whole system of thought and 
the particular view which I take of truth in general; since it 
remains with me either by over-refinement to deprive myself 
of all sense of truth, or to yield myself to it with faithful 
obedience. My whole mode of thought, and the cultivation 
which my understanding receives, as well as the objects to 
which I direct it, depend entirely on myself. True insight 
is merit ; the perversion of my capacity for knowledge, 
thoughtlessness, obscurity, error, and unbelief, are guilt. 

There is but one point towards which I have unceasingly 
to direct all my attention, namely, what I ought to do, and 
and how I may best fulfil the obligation. All my thoughts 
must have a bearing on my actions, and must be capabfe of 
being considered as means, however remote, to this end; 
otherwise they are an idle and aimless show, a mere waste 
of time and strength, the perversion of a noble power which 
is entrusted to me for a very different end. 

I dare hope, I dare surely promise myself, to follow out 
this undertaking with good results. The Nature on whicfi" 
I have to act is not a foreign element, called into existence 
without reference to me, into which I cannot penetrate. It 
is moulded by my own laws of thought, and must be in har 
mony with them ; it must be thoroughly transparent, know- 
able and penetrable to me, even to its inmost recesses. In 
all its phenomena it expresses nothing but the connexions 
and relations of my own being to myself; and as surely as I 
may hope to know myself, so surely may I expect to compre- 

T a 


hend jtj Let me seek only that which I ought to seek, and ] 
shall find ; let me ask only that which I ought to ask, and I 
shall receive an answer. 

That voice within my soul in which I believe, and on ac 
count of which I believe in every other thing to which I 
attach credence, does not command me merely to act in gen 
eral This is impossible; all these general principles are 
formed only through my oVn voluntary observation and re 
flection, applied to many individual facts; but never in 
themselves express any fact whatever. ^This voice of my 
conscience announces to me precisely what I ought to do, 
and what leave undone, in every particular situation of life ; 
it accompanies me, if I will but listen to it with attention, 
through all the events of my life, and never refuses me its 
reward where I am called upon to act. It carries with it 
immediate conviction, and irresistibly compels my assent to 
its behests : it is impossible for me to contend against it 

To listen to it, to obey it honestly and unreservedly, with 
out fear or equivocation, this is my true vocation, the 
whole end and purpose of my existence. \ My life ceases to 
be an empty play without truth or significance. There is 
something that must absolutely be done for its own sake a- 
lone ; that which conscience demands of me in this particu 
lar situation of life it is mine to do, for this only I am here ; 

to know it, I have understanding ; to perform it, I have 

power. Through this edict of conscience alone, truth and 
reality are introduced into my conceptions. I cannot refuse 
them my attention and my obedience without thereby sur 
rendering the very purpose of my existence. 

Hence I cannot withhold my belief from the reality which 
they announce, without at the same time renouncing my 
vocation. It is absolutely true, without farther proof or 
confirmation, nay, it is the first truth, and the foundation 
of all other truth and certainty, that this voice must be 


obeyed ; and therefore everything becomes to mo true and 
certain, the truth and certainty of which is assumed in the 
possibility of such obedience. 

There appear before me in space, certain phenomena to 
which I transfer the idea of myself ; I conceive of them as 
beings like myself. Speculation, when carried out to its 
last results, has indeed taught me, or would teach me, that 
these supposed rational beings out of myself are but the 
products of my own presentative power ; that, according to 
certain laws of my thought, I am compelled to represent out 
of myself my conception of myself; and that, according to 
the same laws, I can transfer this conception only to certain 
definite intuitions. But the voice of rny conscience thus 
speaks : " Whatever these beings may be in arid for them 
selves, thou shalt act towards them as self-existent, free, 
substantive beings, wholly independent of thee. Assume it 
as already known, that they can give a purpose to their own 
being wholly by themselves, arid quite independently of 
thee ; never interrupt the accomplishment of this purpose, 
but rather further it to the utmost of thy power. Honour 
their freedom, lovingly take up their purposes as if they 
were thine own." Thus ought I to act : by this course of 
action ought all my thought to be guided, nay, it shall and 
must necessarily be so, if I have resolved to obey the voice 
of my conscience. Hence I shall always regard these be 
ings as in possession of an existence for themselves wholly 
independent of mine, as capable of forming and carrying out 
their own purposes ; from this point of view, I shall never 
be able to conceive of them otherwise, and niy previous specu 
lations regarding them shall vanish like an empty dream. I 
think of them as beings like myself, I have said ; but strictly 
speaking, it is not by mere thought that they are first pre 
sented to me as such. It is by the voice of my conscience, 
by the command: "Here set a limit to thy freedom; 
here recognise and reverence purposes which are not thine 
own." This it is which is first translated into the thought, 
" Here, certainly and truly, are beings like myself, free and 
independent." To view them otherwise, I must in action re- 


nounce, and in speculation disregard, the voice of my con 

Other phenomena present themselves before me which I 
do not regard as beings like myself, but as things irrational. 
Speculation finds no difficulty in showing how the concep 
tion of such things is developed solely from my own presen- 
tative faculty and its necessary modes of activity. But I 
apprehend these things, also, through want, desire, and en 
joyment. Not by the mental conception, but by hunger, 
thirst, and their satisfaction, does anything become for me 
food and drink. I am necessitated to believe in the reality 
of that which threatens my sensuous existence, or in that 
which alone is able to maintain it. Conscience enters the 
field in order that it may at once sanctify and restrain this 
natural impulse. " Thou shalt maintain, exercise, and 
strengthen thyself and thy physical powers, for they have 
been taken account of in the plans of reason. But thou canst 
maintain them only by legitimate use, conformable to their 
nature. There are also, besides thee, many other beings like 
thyself, whose powers have been counted upon like thine 
own, and can be maintained only in the same way as thine 
own. Concede to them the same privilege that has been 
allowed to thee. Respect what belongs to them as their 
possession ; use what belongs to thee legitimately as thine 
own." Thus ought I to act, according to this course of ac 
tion must I think. I am compelled to regard these things 
as standing under their own natural laws, independent of, 
though perceivable by, me; and therefore to ascribe to them 
an independent existence. I am compelled to believe in 
such laws ; the task of investigating them is set before me, 
and that empty speculation vanishes like a mist when the 
genial sun appears. 

In short, there is for me absolutely no such thing as an 
existence which has no relation to myself, and which I con 
template merely for the sake of contemplating it ; ^what 
ever has an existence for me, has it only through its relation 
to my own being. But there is, in the highest sense, only 
one relation to me possible, all others are but subordinate 


forms of this : my vocation to moral activity. My world is 
the object and sphere of my duties, and absolutely nothing 
more; there is no other world for me, and no other qualities 
of my world than what are implied in this ; my whole 
united capacity, all finite capacity, is insufficient to compre 
hend any other. Whatever possesses an existence for me, 
can bring its existence and reality into contact with me 
only through this relation, and only through this relation 
do I comprehend it : for any other existence than this I 
have no organ whatever. 

To the question, whether, in deed and in fact, such a 
world exists as that which I represent to myself, I can give 
no answer more fundamental, more raised above all doubt, 
than this : I have, most certainly and truly, these deter 
minate duties, which announce themselves to me as duties 
towards certain objects, to be fulfilled by means of certain 
materials; duties which I cannot otherwise conceive of, and 
cannot otherwise fulfil, than within such a world as I re 
present to myself. Even to one who had never meditated 
on his own moral vocation, if there could be such a one, or 
who, if he had given it some general consideration, had, at 
least, never entertained the slightest purpose of fulfilling it 
at any time within an indefinite futurity, even for him, his 
sensuous world, and his belief in its reality, arises in no 
other manner than from his ideas of a moral world. If he 
do not apprehend it by the thought of his duties, he cer 
tainly does so by the demand for his rights. What he per 
haps never requires of himself, he does certainly exact from 
others in their conduct towards him, that they should 
treat him with propriety, consideration, and respect, not as 
an irrational thing, but as a free and independent being ; 
and thus, by supposing in them an ability to comply with 
his own demands, he is compelled also to regard them as 
themselves considerate, free, and independent of the domi 
nion of mere natural power. Even should he never propose 
to himself any other purpose in his use and enjoyment of 
surrounding objects but simply that of enjoying them, he 
at least demands this enjoyment as a right, in the posses- 


sion of which he claims to be left undisturbed by others; and 
thus he apprehends even the irrational world of sense by 
means of a moral idea. These claims of respect for his ra 
tionality, independence, and preservation, no one can resign 
who possesses a conscious existence ; and with these claims, 
at least, there is united in his soul, earnestness, renuncia 
tion of doubt, and faith in a reality, even if they be not as 
sociated with the recognition of a moral law within him. 
Take the man who denies his own moral vocation, and thy 
existence, and the existence of a material world, except as a 
mere futile effort in which speculation tries her strength, 
approach him practically, apply his own principles to life, 
and act as if either he had no existence at all, or were 
merely a portion of rude matter, he will soon lay aside his 
scornful indifference, and indignantly complain of thee ; 
earnestly call thy attention to thy conduct towards him; 
maintain that thou oughtst not and darest not so to act ; 
and thus prove to thee, by deeds, that thou art assuredly 
capable of acting upon him ; that he is, and that thou art, 
that there is a medium by which thou canst influence him, 
and that thou, at least, hast duties to perform towards him. 
Thus, it is not the operation of supposed external objects, 
which indeed exist for us, and we for them, only in so far as 
we already know of them ; and just as little an empty vision 
evoked by our own imagination and thought, the products 
of which must, like itself, be mere empty pictures ;-*f-it is not 
these, but the necessary faith in our own freedom ahd power, 
in our own real activity, and in the definite laws of human ac 
tion, which lies at the root of all our consciousness of a re 
ality external to ourselves ;-^ra consciousness which is itself 
but faith, since it is founded on another faith, of which how 
ever it is a necessary consequence. We are compelled to be 
lieve that we act, and that we ought to act in a certain man 
ner ; we are compelled to assume a certain sphere for this 
action ; this sphere is the real, actually present world, such 
as we find it ; and on the other hand, the world is abso 
lutely nothing more than, and cannot, in any way, extend 
itself beyond, this sphere. From this necessity of action 


proceeds the consciousness of the actual world ; and not the 
reverse way, from the consciousnesss of the actual world the 
necessity of action: this, not that, is the first; the former 
is derived from the latter. We do not act because we know, 
but we know because we are called upon to act : the prac 
tical reason is the root of all reason. The laws of action for 
rational beings are immediately certain ; their world is cer 
tain only through that previous certainty. We cannot deny 
these laws without plunging the world, and ourselves with 
it, into absolute annihilation ; we raise ourselves from this 
abyss, and maintain ourselves above it, solely by our moral 


There is something which I am called upon to do, simply 
in order that it may be done ; something to avoid doing, 
solely that it may be left undone. But can I act without 
having an end in view beyond the action itself, without di 
recting my intention towards something which can become 
possible by means of my action, and only by means of it ? 
Can I will, without having something which I will ? No : 
this would be contradictory to the very nature of my mind. 
To every action there is united in my thought, immediately 
and by the laws of thought! itself, a condition of things 
placed in futurity, to which my action is related as the effi 
cient cause to the effect produced. But this purpose or end 
of my action must not be proposed to me for its own sake, 
perhaps through some necessity of Nature, and then my 
course of action determined according to this end ; I must \ 
not have an end assigned to me, and then inquire how Iy 
must act in order to attain this end; my action must not be , 
dependent on the end ; but I must act in a certain manner, 
simply because I ought so to act; this is the first point. 
That a result will follow from this course of action, is pro 
claimed by the voice within me. This result necessarily be 
comes an end to me, since I am bound to perform the action 
which brings it, and it alone, to pass. I will that something 


shall come to pass, because I must act so that it may come 
to pass ; just as I do not hunger because food is before me 
but a thing becomes food for me because I hunger, so I do 
not act as I do because a certain end is to be attained, but 
the end becomes an end to me because I am bound to act in 
the manner by which it may be attained. I have not first in 
view the point towards which I am to draw my line, and 
then, by its position, determine the direction of my line and 
the angle it shall make ; but I draw my line absolutely in a 
right angle, and thereby the points are determined through 
which my line must pass. The end does not determine the 
commandment ; but, on the contrary, the immediate purport 
of the commandment determines the end. 

I say, it is the law which commands me to act that of it 
self assigns an end to my action ; the same inward power 
that compels me to think that I ought to act thus, compels 
me also to believe that from my action some result will 
arise ; it opens to my spiritual vision a prospect into another 
world, which is really a world, a state, namely, and not an 
action, but another and better world than that which is pre 
sent to the physical eye ; it constrains me to aspire after this 
better world, to embrace it with every power, to long for its 
realization, to live only in it, and in it alone find satisfaction. 
The law itself is my guarantee for the certain attainment of 
this end. The same resolution by which I devote my whole 
thought and life to the fulfilment of this law, and determine 
to see nothing beyond it, brings with it the indestructible 
conviction that the promise it implies is likewise true and 
certain, and renders it impossible for me even to conceive 
the possibility of the opposite. As I live in obedience to it, 
so do I live also in the contemplation of its end, in that 
better world which it promises to me. 

Even in the mere consideration of the world as it is, apart 
from this law, there arises within me the wish, the desire, 
no, not the mere desire, but the absolute demand for a bet 
ter world. I cast a glance on the present relations of men 

BOOK 111. FAITH. 329 

towards each other and towards Nature ; 011 the feebleness 
of their powers, the strength of their desires and passions. 
A voice within me proclaims with irresistible conviction 
" It is impossible that it can remain thus; it must become 
different and better." 

I cannot think of the present state of humanity as that in 
which it is destined to remain ; I am absolutely unable to 
conceive of this as its complete and final vocation. Then, 
indeed, were all a dream and a delusion ; and it would not 
be worth the trouble to have lived, and played out this 
ever-repeated game, which tends to nothing and signifies 
nothing. Only in so far as I can regard this state as the 
means towards a better, as the transition point to a higher 
and more perfect state, has it any value in my eyes ; not 
for ^ its own sake, but for the sake of that better world for 
which it prepares the way, can I support it, esteem it, and 
joyfully perform my part in it. My mind can accept no 
place in the present, nor rest in it even for a moment ; my 
whole being flows onward, incessantly and irresistibly, to 
wards that future and better state of things. 

Shall I eat and drink only that I may hunger and thirst 
and eat and drink again, till the grave which is open be 
neath my feet shall swallow me up and I myself become the 
food of worms ? Shall I beget beings like myself, that they 
too may eat and drink and die, and leave behind them be 
ings like themselves to do the same that I have done ? To 
what purpose this ever-revolving circle, this ceaseless and 
unvarying round, in which all things appear only to pass 
away, and pass away only that they may re-appear as they 
were before ; this monster continually devouring itself that 
it may again bring itself forth, and bringing itself forth only 
that it may again devour itself? 

This can never be the vocation of my being, and of all 
being. ^ There must be something which is because it has 
come into existence ; and endures, and cannot come anew, 
having once become such as it is. And this abiding exis 
tence must be produced amid the vicissitudes of the transi- 

u a 


tory and perishable, maintain itself there, and be borne on 
wards, pure and inviolate, upon the waves of time. 

Our race still laboriously extorts the means of its sub 
sistence and preservation from an opposing Nature. The 
larger portion of mankind is still condemned through life to 
severe toil, in order to supply nourishment for itself and for 
the smaller portion which thinks for it ; immortal spirits 
are compelled to fix their whole thoughts and endeavours 
on the earth that brings forth their food. It still frequently 
happens that, when the labourer has finished his toil and 
has promised himself in return a lasting endurance both for 
himself and for his work, a hostile element will destroy in a 
moment that which it has cost him years of patient indus 
try and deliberation to accomplish, and the assiduous and 
careful man is undeservedly made the prey of hunger and 
m i ser y ; often do floods, storms, volcanoes, desolate whole 
countries, and works which bear the impress of a rational 
soul are mingled with their authors in the wild chaos of 
death and destruction. Disease sweeps into an untimely 
grave men in the pride of their strength, and children whose 
existence has as yet borne no fruit; pestilence stalks through 
blooming lands, leaves the few who escape its ravages like 
lonely orphans bereaved of the accustomed support of their 
fellows, and does all that it can do to give back to the 
desert regions which the labour of man has won from 
thence as a possession to himself. Thus it is now, but thus 
it cannot remain for ever. No work that bears the stamp 
of Reason, and has been undertaken to extend her power, 
can ever be wholly lost in the onward progress of the ages. 
The sacrifices which the irregular violence of Nature extorts 
from Reason, must at least exhaust, disarm, and appease 
that violence. The same power which has burst out into 
lawless fury, cannot again commit like excesses ; it cannot 
be destined to renew its strength ; through its own outbreak 
its energies must henceforth and for ever be exhausted. All 
those outbreaks of unregulated power before which human 
strength vanishes into nothing, those desolating hurricanes, 
those earthquakes, those volcanoes, can be nothing else than 


the last struggles of the rude mass against the law of regu 
lar, progressive, living, and systematic activity to which it is 
compelled to submit in opposition to its own undirected 
impulses ; nothing but the last shivering strokes by which 
the perfect formation of our globe has yet to be accom 
plished. That resistance must gradually become weaker 
and at length be exhausted, since, in the regulated progress 
of things, there can be nothing to renew its strength ; that 
formation must at length be achieved, and our destined 
dwelling-place be made complete. Nature must gradually 
be resolved into a condition in which her regular action may 
be calculated and safely relied upon, and her power bear a 
fixed and definite relation to that which is destined to 
govern it, that of man. In so far as this relation already 
exists, and the cultivation of Nature has attained a firm 
footing, the works of man, by their mere existence, and by 
an influence altogether beyond the original intent of their 
authors, shall again react upon Nature, and become to her 
a new vivifying principle. Cultivation shall quicken and 
ameliorate the sluggish and baleful atmosphere of primeval 
forests, deserts, and marshes ; more regular and varied cul 
tivation shall diffuse throughout the air new impulses to life 
and fertility; and the sun shall pour his most animating 
rays into an atmosphere breathed by healthful, industrious, 
and civilized nations. Science, first called into existence by 
the pressure of necessity, shall afterwards calmly and care 
fully investigate the unchangeable laws of Nature, review 
its powers at large, and learn to calculate their possible 
manifestations ; and while closely following the footsteps of 
Nature in the living and actual world, form for itself in 
thought a new ideal one. Every discovery which Reason 
has extorted from Nature shall be maintained throughout 
the ages, and become the ground of new knowledge, for the 
common possession of our race. Thus shall Nature ever 
become more and more , intelligible and transparent even 
in her most secret depths ; human power, enlightened and 
armed by human invention, shall rule over her without diffi 
culty, and the conquest, once made, shall be peacefully main- 


tained. This dominion of man over Nature shall gradually 
be extended, until, at length, no farther expenditure of me 
chanical labour shall be necessary than what the human 
body requires for its development, cultivation, and health ; 
and this labour shall cease to be a burden; for a reasonable 
being is not destined to be a bearer of burdens. 

But it is not Nature, it is Freedom itself, by which the 
greatest and most terrible disorders incident to our race are 
produced ; man is the cruelest enemy of man. Lawless 
hordes of savages still wander over vast wildernesses ; they 
meet, and the victor devours his foe at the triumphal feast : 
or where culture has at length united these wild hordes 
under some social bond, they attack each other, as nations, 
with the power which law and [union have given them. 
Defying toil and privation, their armies traverse peaceful 
plains and forests ; they meet each other, and the sight of 
their brethren is the signal for slaughter. Equipt with the 
mightiest inventions of the human intellect, hostile fleets 
plough their way through the ocean; through storm and tem 
pest man rushes to meet his fellow men upon the lonely 
inhospitable sea ; they meet, and defy the fury of the ele 
ments that they may destroy each other with their own 
hands. Even in the interior of states, where men seem to 
be united in equality under the law, it is still for the most 
part only force and fraud which rule under that venerable 
name ; and here the warfare is so much the more shameful 
that it is not openly declared to be war, and the party at 
tacked is even deprived of the privilege of defending him 
self against unjust oppression. Combinations of the few re 
joice aloud in the ignorance, the folly, the vice, and the 
misery in which the greater number of their fellow-men are 
sunk, avowedly seek to retain them in this state of degra 
dation, and even to plunge them deeper in it in order to 
perpetuate their slavery ; nay, would destroy any one who 
should venture to enlighten or improve them. No attempt 
at amelioration can anywhere be made without rousing up 
from slumber a host of selfish interests to war against it, 
and uniting even the most varied and opposite in a com- 


mon hostility. The good cause is ever the weaker, for it is 
simple, and can be loved only for itself; the bad attracts 
each individual by the promise which is most seductive to 
him ; and its adherents, always at war among themselves, so 
soon as the good makes its appearance, conclude a truce 
that they may unite the whole powers of their wickedness 
against it. Scarcely, indeed, is such an opposition needed, for 
even the good themselves are but too often divided by mis 
understanding, error, distrust, and secret self-love, and that 
so much the more violently, the more earnestly each strives 
to propagate that which he recognises as best ; and thus 
internal discord dissipates a power, which, even when unit 
ed, could scarcely hold the balance with evil. One blames 
the other for rushing onwards with stormy impetuosity to 
his object, without waiting until the good result shall have 
been prepared ; whilst he in turn is blamed that, through 
hesitation and cowardice, he accomplishes nothing, but al 
lows all things to remain as they are, contrary to his better 
conviction, because for him the hour of action never arrives : 
and only the Omniscient can determine whether either of 
the parties in the dispute is in the right. Every one regards 
the undertaking, the necessity of which is most apparent to 
him, and in the prosecution of which he has acquired the 
greatest skill, as most important and needful, as the point 
from which all improvement must proceed ; he requires all 
good men to unite their efforts with his, and to subject 
themselves to him for the accomplishment of his particular 
purpose, holding it to be treason to the good cause if they 
hold back ; while they on the other hand make the same 
demands upon him, and accuse him of similar treason for a 
similar refusal. Thus do all good intentions among men 
appear to be lost in vain disputations, which leave behind 
them no trace of their existence; while in the meantime the 
world goes on as well, or as ill, as it can without human 
effort, by the blind mechanism of Nature, and so will go on 
for ever. 


And so go on for ever ? No ; not so, unless the whole 
existence of humanity is to be an idle game, without signifi 
cance and without end. It cannot be intended that those 
savage tribes should always remain savage : no race can be 
born with all the capacities of perfect humanity, and yet 
be destined never to develop these capacities, never to be 
come more than that which a sagacious animal by its own 
proper nature might become. Those savages must be des 
tined to be the progenitors of more powerful, cultivated, and 
virtuous generations; otherwise it is impossible to conceive 
of a purpose in their existence, or even of the possibility of 
their existence in a world ordered and arranged by reason. 
Savage races may become civilized, for this has already oc 
curred : the most cultivated nations of modern times are 
the descendants of savages. Whether civilization is a direct 
and natural development of human society, or is invariably 
brought about through instruction and example from with 
out, and the primary source of all human culture must be 
sought in a super-human guidance, by the same way in 
which nations which once were savage have emerged into 
civilization, will those who are yet uncivilized gradually 
attain it. They must, no doubt, at first pass through the 
same dangers and corruptions of a merely sensual civiliza 
tion, by which the civilized nations are still oppressed, but 
they will thereby be brought into union with the great 
whole of humanity and be made capable of taking part in 
its further progress. 

It is the vocation of our race to unite itself into one single 
body, all the parts of which shall be thoroughly known to 
each other, and all possessed of similar culture. Nature, and 
even the passions and vices of men, have from the beginning 
tended towards this end ; a great part of the way towards it 
is already passed, and we may surely calculate that this end, 
which is the condition of all farther social progress, will in 
time be attained. Let us not ask of history if man, on the 
whole, have yet become purely moral ! To a more extended, 
comprehensive, energetic freedom he has certainly attained ; 
but hitherto it has been an almost necessary result of his 


position, that this freedom has been applied chiefly to evil 
purposes. Neither let us ask whether the aesthetic and intel 
lectual culture of the ancient world, concentrated on a few 
points, may not have excelled in degree that of modern 
times ! It might happen that we should receive a humilia 
ting answer, and that in this respect the human race has 
not advanced, but rather seemed to retrograde, in its riper 
years. But let us ask of history at what period the exist 
ing culture has been most widely diffused, and distributed 
among the greatest number of individuals; and we shall 
doubtless find that from the beginning of history down to 
our own day, the few light-points of civilization have spread 
themselves abroad from their centre, that one individual af 
ter another, and one nation after another, has been em 
braced within their circle, and that this wider outspread of 
culture is proceeding under our own eyes. And this is the 
first point to be attained in the endless path on which hu 
manity must advance. Until this shall have been attained, 
until the existing culture of every age shall have been dif 
fused over the whole inhabited globe, and our race become 
capable of the most unlimited inter-communication with it 
self, one nation or one continent must pause on the great 
common path of progress, and wait for the advance of the 
others ; and each must bring as an offering to the universal 
commonwealth, for the sake of which alone it exists, its ao-es 
of apparent immobility or retrogression. When that first 
point shall have been attained, when every useful discovery 
made at one end of the earth shall be at once made known - 
and communicated to all the rest, then, without farther in 
terruption, without halt or regress, with united strength and 
equal step, humanity shall move onward to a higher culture, 
of which we can at present form no conception. 

Within those singular associations, thrown together by 
unreasoning accident, which we call States, after they have 
subsisted for a time in peace, when the resistence excited by 
yet new oppression has been lulled to sleep, and the fermen 
tation of contending forces appeased, abuse, by its con 
tinuance, and by general sufferance, assumes a sort of estab- 


lished form ; and the ruling classes, in the uncontested en 
joyment of their extorted privileges, have nothing more to 
do but to extend them further, and to give to this extension 
also the same established form. Urged by their insatiable 
desires, they will continue from generation to generation 
their efforts to acquire wider and yet wider privileges, and 
never say ,,It is enough!" until at last oppression shall 
reach its limit, and become wholly insupportable, and des 
pair give back to the oppressed that power which their cou 
rage, extinguished by centuries of tyranny, could not procure 
for them. They will then 110 longer endure any among 
them who cannot be satisfied to be on an equality with 
others, and so to remain. In order to protect themselves 
against internal violence or new oppression, all will take on 
themselves the same obligations. Their deliberations, in 
which every man shall decide, whatever he decides, for him 
self, and not for one subject to him whose sufferings will ne 
ver affect him, and in whose fate he takes no concern ; 
deliberations, according to which no one can hope that it 
shall be he who is to practise a permitted injustice, but 
every one must fear that he may have to suffer it ; delibera 
tions that alone deserve the name of legislation, which is 
something wholly different from the ordinances of combined 
lords to the countless herds of their slaves ; these delibera 
tions will necessarily be guided by justice, and will lay the 
foundation of a true State, in which each individual, from a 
regard for his own security, will be irresistibly compelled 
to respect the security of every other without exception ; 
since, under the supposed legislation, every injury which he 
should attempt to do to another, would not fall upon its ob 
ject, but would infallibly recoil upon himself. 

By the establishment of this only true State, this firm 
foundation of internal peace, the possibility of foreign war, 
at least with other true States, is cut off. Even for its own 
advantage, even to prevent the thought of injustice, plunder, 
and violence entering the minds of its own citizens, and to 
leave them no possibility of gain, except by means of in 
dustry and diligence within their legitimate sphere of ac- 


tivity, every true state must forbid as strictly, prevent as 
carefully, compensate as exactly, or punish as severely, any 
injury to the citizen of a neighbouring state, as to one of its 
own. This law concerning the security of neighbours is ne 
cessarily a law in every state that is not a robber-state ; and 
by its operation the possibility of any just complaint of one 
state against another, and consequently every case of self- 
defence among nations, is entirely prevented. There are 
no necessary, permanent, and immediate relations of states, 
as such, with each other, which should be productive of 
strife ; there are, properly speaking, only relations of the 
individual citizens of one state to the individual citizens of 
another; a state can be injured only in the person of one of 
its citizens; but such injury will be immediately compen 
sated, and the aggrieved state satisfied. Between such 
states as these, there is no rank which can be insulted, no 
ambition which can be offended. No officer of one state is 
authorised to intermeddle in the internal affairs of another, 
nor is there any temptation for him to do so, since he could 
not derive the slightest personal advantage from any such 
influence. That a whole nation should determine, for the * 
sake of plunder, to make war on a neighbouring country, is 
impossible ; for in a state where all are equal, the plunder 
could not become the booty of a few, but must be equally 
divided amongst all, and the share of no one individual could 
ever recompense him for the trouble of the war. Only 
where the advantage falls to the few oppressors, and the in- 
jury, the toil, the expense, to the countless herd of slaves, is 
a war of spoliation possible and conceivable. Not from 
states like themselves could such states as these entertain 
any fear of war; only from savages, or barbarians whose 
lack of skill to enrich themselves by industry impels them 
to plunder; or from enslaved nations, driven by their mas 
ters to a war from which they themselves will reap no ad 
vantage. In the former case, each individual civilized state 
must already be the stronger through the arts of civiliza 
tion; against the latter danger, the common advantage of all 
demands that they should strengthen themselves by union. 

x a 


No free state can reasonably suffer in its vicinity associa 
tions governed by rulers whose interests would be promoted 
by the subjugation of adjacent nations, and whose very ex 
istence is therefore a constant source of danger to their 
neighbours ; a regard for their own security compels all free 
states to transform all around them into free states like 
themselves; and thus, for the sake of their own welfare, to 
extend the empire of culture over barbarism, of freedom 
over slavery. Soon will the nations, civilized or enfranchis 
ed by them, find themselves placed in the same relation to 
wards others still enthralled by barbarism or slavery, in 
which the earlier free nations previously stood towards 
them, and be compelled to do the same things for these 
which were previously done for themselves ; and thus, of ne 
cessity, by reason of the existence of some few really free 
states, will the empire of civilization, freedom, and with it 
universal peace, gradually embrace the whole world. 

Thus, from the establishment of a just internal organiza 
tion, and of peace between individuals, there will necessarily 
result integrity in the external relations of nations towards 
each other, and universal peace among them. But the 
establishment of this just internal organization, and the 
emancipation of the first nation that shall be truly free, 
arises as a necessary consequence from the ever-growing op 
pression exercised by the ruling classes towards their sub 
jects, which gradually becomes insupportable, a progress 
which may be safely left to the passions and the blindness 
of those classes, even although warned of the result. 

In these only true states all temptation to evil, nay, even 
the possibility of a man resolving upon a bad action with 
any reasonable hope of benefit to himself, will be entirely 
taken away ; and the strongest possible motives will be of 
fered to every man to make virtue the sole object of his 

There is no man who loves evil because it is evil ; it is 
only the advantages and enjoyments expected from it, and 
which, in the present condition of humanity, do actually, 
in most cases, result from it, that are loved. So long as 


this condition shall continue, so long as a premium shall 
be set upon vice, a fundamental improvement of mankind, 
as a whole, can scarcely be hoped for. But in a civil so 
ciety constituted as it ought to be, as reason requires it to 
be, as the thinker may easily describe it to himself although 
he may nowhere find it actually existing at the present day, 
and as it must necessarily exist in the first nation that shall 
really acquire true freedom, in such a state of society, evil 
will present no advantages, but rather the most certain dis 
advantages, and self-love itself will restrain the excess of 
self-love when it would run out into injustice. By the un 
erring administration of such a state, every fraud or op 
pression practised upon others, all self-aggrandizement at 
their expense, will be rendered not merely vain, and all 
labour so applied fruitless, but such attempts would even re 
coil upon their author, and assuredly bring home to himself 
the evil which he would cause to others. In his own land, 
out of his own land, throughout the whole world, he 
could find no one whom he might injure and yet go un 
punished. But it is not to be expected, even of a bad man, 
that he would determine upon evil merely for the sake of 
such a resolution, although he had no power to carry it into 
effect, and nothing could arise from it but infamy to him 
self. The use of liberty for evil purposes is thus destroyed ; 
man must resolve either to renounce his freedom altogether," 
and patiently to become a mere passive wheel in the great 
machine of the universe, or else to employ it for good. In 
soil thus prepared, good will easily prosper. When men" 
shall no longer be divided by selfish purposes, nor their 
powers exhausted in struggles with each other, nothing will 
remain for them but to direct their united strength against 

the one common enemy which still remains unsubdued, 

resisting, uncultivated nature. No longer estranged from 
each other by private ends, they will necessarily combine 
for this common object; and thus there arises a body, every 
where animated by the same spirit and the same love. 
Every misfortune to the individual, since it can no longer 
l)e a gain to any other individual, is a misfortune to the 


whole, and to each individual member of the whole ; and is 
felt with the same pain, and remedied with the same ac 
tivity, by every member ; every step in advance made by 
one man is a step in advance made by the whole race. 
Here, where the petty, narrow self of mere individual per 
sonality is merged in the more comprehensive unity of the 
social constitution, each man truly loves every other as him 
self, as a member of this greater self which now claims all 
his love, and of which he himself is no more than a member, 
capable of participating only in a common gain or in a com 
mon loss. The strife of evil against good is here abolished, 
for here no evil can intrude. The strife of the good among 
themselves for the sake of good, disappears, now that they 
find it easy to love good for its own sake alone and not 
because they are its authors ; now that it has become of 
all-importance to them that the truth should really be dis 
covered, that the useful action should be done, but not at 
all by whom this may be accomplished. Here each indi 
vidual is at all times ready to join his strength to that of 
others, to make it subordinate to that of others; and who 
ever, according to the judgment of all, is most capable of ac 
complishing the greatest amount of good, will be supported 
by all, and his success rejoiced in by all with an equal joy. 

This is the purpose of our earthly life, which reason sets 
before us, and for the infallible attainment of which she is 
our pledge and security. This is not an object given to us 
only that we may strive after it for the mere purpose of ex 
ercising our powers on something great, the real existence of 
which we may perhaps be compelled to abandon to doubt; 
it shall) it must be realized ; there must be a time in which 
it shall be accomplished, as surely as there is a sensible 
world and a race of reasonable beings existent in time with 
respect to which nothing earnest and rational is conceivable 
besides this purpose, and whose existence becomes intelli 
gible only through this purpose. Unless all human life be 


metamorphosed into a mere theatrical display for the grati 
fication of some malignant spirit, who has implanted in poor 
humanity this inextinguishable longing for the imperishable 
only to amuse himself with its ceaseless pursuit of that 
which it can never overtake, its ever-repeated efforts, 
Ixion-like, to embrace that which still eludes its grasp, its 
restless hurrying onward in an ever-recurring circle, only 
to mock its earnest aspirations with an empty, insipid farce; 
unless the wise man, seeing through this mockery, and 
feeling an irrepressible disgust at continuing to play his 
part in it, is to cast life indignantly from him and make the 
moment of his awakening to reason also that of his physical 
death ; unless these things are so, this purpose most as 
suredly must be attained. Yes ! it is attainable in life, and 
through life, for Reason commands me to live : it is attain 
able, for I am. 


But when this end shall have been attained, and human 
ity shall at length stand at this point, what is there then to 
do ? Upon earth there is no higher state than this ; the 
generation which has once reached it, can do no more than 
abide there, steadfastly maintain its position, die, and leave 
behind it descendants who shall do the like, and who will 
again leave behind them descendants to follow in their foot 
steps. Humanity would thus stand still upon her path ; and 
therefore her earthly end cannot be her highest end. This 
earthly end is conceivable, attainable, and finite. Even al 
though we consider all preceding generations as means for 
the production of the last complete one, we do not thereby 
escape the question of earnest reason, to what end then is 
this last one ? Since a Human Race has appeared upon earth, 
its existence there must certainly be in accordance with, and 
not contrary to, reason ; and it must attain all the develop 
ment which it is possible for it to attain on earth. But why 
should such a race have an existence at all, why may it not 


as well have remained in the womb of chaos ? Reason is not 
for the sake of existence, but existence for the sake of reason. 
An existence which does not of itself satisfy reason and solve 
all her questions, cannot by possibility be the true being. 

And, then, are those actions which are commanded by the 
voice of conscience, by that voice whose dictates I never 
dare to criticise, but must always obey in silence, are those 
actions, in reality, always the means, and the only means, 
for the attainment of the earthly purpose of humanity ? 
That I cannot do otherwise than refer them to this purpose, 
and dare not have any other object in view to be attained 
by means of them, is incontestible. But then are these, my 
intentions, always fulfilled ? is it enough that we will what 
is good, in order that it may happen ? Alas ! many virtuous 
intentions are entirely lost for this world, and others appear 
even to hinder the purpose which they were designed to 
promote. On the other hand, the most despicable passions 
of men, their vices and their crimes, often forward, more 
certainly, the good cause than the endeavours of the vir 
tuous man, who will never do evil that good may come ! It 
seems that the Highest Good of the world pursues its course 
of increase and prosperity quite independently of all human 
virtues or vices, according to its own laws, through an in 
visible and unknown Power, just as the heavenly bodies 
run their appointed course, independently of all human 
effort; and that this Power carries forward, in its own great 
plan, all human intentions, good and bad, and, with over 
ruling wisdom, employs for its own purpose that which was 
undertaken for other ends. 

Thus, even if the attainment of this earthly end could be 
the purpose of our existence, and every doubt which reason 
could start with regard to it were silenced, yet would this 
end not be ours, but the end of that unknown power. We 
do not know, even for a moment, what is conducive to this 
end ; and nothing is left to us but to give by our actions 
some material, no matter what, for this power to work upon, 
and to leave to it the task of elaborating this material to its 
own purposes. It would, in that case, be our highest wisdom 


not to trouble ourselves about matters that do not concern 
us ; to live according to our own fancy or inclinations, and 
quietly leave the consequences to that unknown power. 
The moral law within us would be void and superfluous, and 
absolutely unfitted to a being destined to nothing higher 
than this. In order to be at one with ourselves, we should 
have to refuse obedience to that law, and to suppress it as 
a perverse and foolish fanaticism. 

No ! I will not refuse obedience to the law of duty ; as 
surely as I live and am, I will obey, absolutely because it 
commands. This resolution shall be first and highest in my 
mind ; that by which everything else is determined, but 
which is itself determined by nothing else ; this shall be 
the innermost principle of my spiritual life. 

But, as a reasonable being, before whom a purpose must 
be set solely by its own will and determination, it is impos 
sible for me to act without a motive and without an end. 
If this obedience is to be recognised by me as a reasonable 
service, if the voice which demands this obedience be 
really that of the creative reason within me, and not a mere 
fanciful enthusiasm, invented by my own imagination, or 
communicated to me somehow from without, this obedience 
must have some consequences, must serve some end. It is 
evident that it does not serve the purpose of the world of 
sense ; there must, therefore, be a super-seasensual world, 
whose purposes it does promote. 

The mist of delusion clears away from before my sight ! 
I receive a new organ, and a new world opens before me. It 
is disclosed to me only by the law of reason, and answers 
only to that law in my spirit. I apprehend this world, 
limited as I am by my sensuous view, I must thus name the 
unnameable I apprehend this world merely in and through 


the end which is promised to my obedience ; it is in reality 
nothing else than this necessary end itself which reason an 
nexes to the law of duty. 

Setting aside everything else, how could I suppose that 
this law had reference to the world of sense, or that the 
whole end and object of the obedience which it demands is 
to be found within that world, since that which alone is of 
importance in this obedience serves no purpose whatever in 
that world, can never become a cause in it, and can never 
produce results. In the world of sense, which proceeds on a 
chain of material causes and effects, and in which whatever 
happens depends merely on that which preceded it, it is 
never of any moment how, and with what motives and inten- 
tentions, an action is performed, but only what the action is. 

Had it been the whole purpose of our existence to pro 
duce an earthly condition of our race, there would have been 
required only an unerring mechanism by which our out 
ward actions might have been determined, we would not 
have needed to be more than wheels well fitted to the great 
machine. Freedom would have been, not merely vain, but 
even obstructive ; a virtuous will wholly superfluous. The 
world would, in that case, be most unskilfully directed, and 
attain the purposes of its existence by wasteful extrava 
gance and circuitous byeways. Hadst thou, mighty World- 
Spirit ! withheld from us this freedom, which thou art now 
constrained to adapt to thy plans with labour and contri 
vance ; hadst thou rather at once compelled us to act in the 
way in which thy plans required that we should act, thou 
wouldst have attained thy purposes by a much shorter way, 
as the humblest of the dwellers in these thy worlds can tell 
thee. But I am free ; and therefore such a chain of causes 
and effects, in which freedom is absolutely superfluous and 
and without aim, cannot exhaust my whole nature. I must 
be free ; for it is not the mere mechanical act, but the free 
determination of free will, for the sake of duty and for the 
ends of duty only, thus speaks the voice of conscience 
within us, this alone it is which constitutes our true 
worth. The bond with which this law of dutv binds me is 


a bond for living spirits only; it disdains to rule over a 
dead mechanism, and addresses its decrees only to the living 
and the free. It requires of me this obedience ; this obe 
dience therefore cannot be nugatory or superfluous. 

And now the Eternal World rises before me more bright 
ly, and the fundamental law of its order stands clearly and 
distinctly apparent to my mental vision. In this world, 
will alone, as it lies concealed from mortal eye in the secret 
obscurities of the soul, is the first link in a chain of conse 
quences that stretches through the whole invisible realms of 
spirit; as, in the physical world, action a certain movement 
of matter is the first link in a material chain that runs 
through the whole system of nature. The will is the effi 
cient, living principle of the world of reason, as motion is 
the efficient, living principle of the world of sense. I stand 
in the centre of two entirely opposite worlds : a visible 
world, in which action is the only moving power ; and an 
invisible and absolutely incomprehensible world, in Avhich 
will is the ruling principle. I am one of the primitive forces 
of both these worlds. My will embraces both. This will is, 
in itself, a constituent element of the super-sensual world ; 
for as I move it by my successive resolutions, I move and 
change something in that world, and my activity thus ex 
tends itself throughout the whole, and gives birth to new 
and ever-enduring results which henceforward possess a 
real existence and need not again to be produced. This 
will may break forth in a material act, and this act belongs 
to the world of sense and does there that which pertains to 
a material act to do. 

It is not necessary that I should first be severed from the 
terrestrial world before I can obtain admission into the ce 
lestial one ; I am and live in it even now, far more truly 
than in the terrestrial ; even now it is my only sure founda 
tion, and the eternal life on the possession of which I have 
already entered is the only ground why I should still pro 
long this earthly one. That which we call heaven does not 

Y a 


lie beyond the grave ; it is even here diffused around us, 
and its light arises in every pure heart. My will is mine, 
and it is the only thing that is wholly mine and entirely 
dependent on myself; and through it I have already become 
a citizen of the realm of freedom and of pure spiritual ac 
tivity. What determination of my will of the only thing 
by which I am raised from earth into this region is best 
adapted to the order of the spiritual world, is proclaimed to 
me at every moment by my conscience, the bond that con 
stantly unites me to it ; and it depends solely on myself to 
give my activity the appointed direction. Thus I cultivate 
myself for this world ; labour in it, and for it, in cultivating 
one of its members; in it, and only in it, pursue my purpose 
according to a settled plan, without doubt or hesitation, 
certain of the result, since here no foreign power stands 
opposed to my free will. That, in the world of sense, my 
will also becomes an action, is but the law of this sensuous 
_ world. I did not send forth the act as I did the will ; only 
the latter was wholly and purely my work, it was all that 
proceeded forth from me. It was not even necessary that 
there should be another particular act on my part to unite 
the deed to the will ; the deed unites itself to it according 
to the law of that second world with which I am coanected 
through my will, and in which this will is likewise an 
original force, as it is in the first. I am indeed compelled, 
when I regard my will, determined according to the dictates 
of conscience, as a fact and an efficient cause in the world of 
sense, to refer it to that earthly purpose of humanity as a 
means to the accomplishment of an end ; not as if I should 
first survey the plan of the world and from this knowledge 
calculate what I had to do ; but the specific action, which 
conscience directly enjoins me to do, reveals itself to me at 
once as the only means by which, in my position, I can con 
tribute to the attainment of that end. Even if it should 
afterwards appear as if this end had not been promoted 
nay, if it should even seem to have been hindered by my 
action, yet I can never regret it, nor perplex myself about it, 
so surely as I have truly obeyed my conscience in perform- 


mg this act. Whatever consequences it may have in this 
world, in the other world there can nothing but good result 
from it. And even in this world, should my action appear 
to have failed of its purpose, my conscience for that very 
reason commands me to repeat it in a manner that, may 
more effectually reach its end ; or, should it seem to have 
hindered that purpose,/^/- that very reason to make good the 
detriment and annihilate the untoward result. I will as I 
ought, and the new deed follows. It may happen that the 
consequences of this new action, in the world of sense, may 
appear to me not more beneficial than those of the first ; 
but, with respect to the other world, I retain the same calm 
assurance as before; and, in the present, it is again my 
bounden duty to make good my previous failure by new ac 
tion. And thus, should it still appear that, during my whole 
earthly life, I have not advanced the good cause a single 
hair s-breadth in this world, yet I dare not cease my efforts : 
after every unsuccessful attempt, I must still believe that 
the next will be successful. But in the spiritual world no 
step is ever lost. In short, I do not pursue the earthly pur-^ 
pose for its own sake alone, or as a final aim ; but only be 
cause my true final aim, obedience to the law of conscience, 
does not present itself to me in this world in any other 
shape than as the advancement of this end. I may not 
cease to pursue it, unless I were to deny the law of duty, or 
unless that law were to manifest itself to me, in this life, in 
some other shape than as a commandment to promote this 
purpose in my own place ; I shall actually cease to pursue 
it in another life in which that commandment shall have 
set before me some other purpose wholly incomprehensible 
to me here. In this life, I must icill to promote it, because" 
I must obey ; whether it be actually promoted by the deed 
that follows my will thus fittingly directed is not my care ; 
I am responsible only for the will, but not for the result. 
Previous to the actual deed, I can never resign this purpose; 
the deed, when it is completed, I may resign, and repeat it, 
or improve it. Thus do I live and labour, even here, in mv 
most essential nature and in my nearest purposes, only for 


the other world ; and my activity for it is the only thing of 
which I am completely certain; in the world of sense I 
labour only for the sake of the other, and only because I 
cannot work for the other without at least willing to work 
for it. 

I will establish myself firmly in this, to me, wholly new 
view of my vocation. The present life cannot be rationally 
regarded as the whole purpose of my existence, or of the 
existence of a human race in general ; there is something 
in me, and there is something required of me, which finds in 
this life nothing to which it can be applied, and which is 
entirely superfluous and unnecessary for the attainment of 
the highest objects that can be attained on earth. There 
must therefore be a purpose in human existence which lies 
beyond this life. But should the present life, which is 
nevertheless imposed upon us, and which cannot be de 
signed solely for the development of reason, since even 
awakened reason commands us to maintain it and to pro 
mote its highest purposes with all our powers, should this 
life not prove entirely vain and ineffectual, it must at least 
have relation to a future life, as means to an end. Now 
there is nothing in this present life, the ultimate conse 
quences of which do not remain on earth, nothing where 
by we could be connected with a future life but only our 
virtuous will, which in this world, by the fundamental laws 
thereof, is entirely fruitless. Only our virtuous will can it, 
must it be, by which we can labour for another life, and for 
the first and nearest objects which are there revealed to us ; 
and it is the consequences, invisible to us, of this virtuous 
will, through which we first acquire a firm standing-point in 
that life from whence we may then advance in a farther 
course of progress. 

That our virtuous will in, and for and through itself, must 
have consequences, we know already in this life, for reason 
cannot command anything which is without a purpose ; but 
what these consequences may be, nay, how it is even pos- 


sible for a mere will to produce any effect at all, as to this 
we can form no conception whatever, so long as we are still 
confined to this material world ; and it is true wisdom not 
to undertake an inquiry in which we know beforehand that 
we shall be unsuccessful. With respect to the nature of 
these consequences, the present life is therefore, in relation 
to the future, a life in faith. In the future life, we shall 
possess these consequences, for we shall then proceed from 
them as our starting-point, and build upon them as our 
foundation ; and this other life will thus be, in relation to 
the consequences of our virtuous will in the present, a life 
in sight. In that other life, we shall also have an immediate 
purpose set before us, as we have in the present ; for our ac 
tivity must not cease. But we remain finite beings, and 
for finite beings there is but finite, determinate activity; and 
every determinate act has a determinate end. As, in the 
present life, the actually existing world as we find it around 
us, the fitting adjustment of this world to the work we have 
to do in it, the degree of culture and virtue already attained 
by men, and our own physical powers, as these stand rela 
ted to the purposes of this life, so, in the future life, the 
consequences of our virtuous will in the present shall stand 
related to the purposes of that other existence. The present 
is the commencement of our existence ; the endowments re 
quisite for its purpose, and a firm footing in it, have been 
freely bestowed on us : the future is the continuation of 
this existence, and in it we must acquire for ourselves a 
commencement, and a definite standing-point. 

And now the present life no longer appears vain and use 
less ; for this and this alone it is given to us that we may 
acquire for ourselves a firm foundation in the future life, 
and only by means of this foundation is it connected with 
our whole external existence. It is very possible, that the 
immediate purpose of this second life may prove as unat 
tainable by finite powers, with certainty and after a fixed 
plan, as the purpose of the present life is now, and that even 
there a virtuous will may apear superfluous and without 
result. But it can never be lost there, any more than here, 


for it is the eternal and unalterable command of reason. Its 
necessary efficacy would, in that case, direct us to a third 
life, in which the consequences of our virtuous will in the 
second life will become visible ; a life which during the 
second life would again be believed in through faith, but 
with firmer, more unwavering confidence, since we should 
already have had practical experience of the truthfulness of 
reason, and have regained the fruits of a pure heart which 
had been faithfully garnered up in a previously completed 

As in the present life it is only from the command of con 
science to follow a certain course of action that there arises 
our conception of a certain purpose in this action, and from 
this our whole intuitive perception of a world of sense ; 
so in the future, upon a similar, but now to us wholly in 
conceivable command, will be founded our conception of the 
immediate purpose of that life ; and upon this, again, our 
intuitive perception of a world in which we shall set out 
from the consequences of our virtuous will in the present 
life. The present world exists for us only through the law 
of duty ; the other will be revealed to us, in a similar man 
ner, through another command of duty; for in no other 
manner can a world exist for any reasonable being. 

This, then, is my whole sublime vocation, my true nature. 
I am a member of two orders : the one purely spiritual, in 
which I rule by my will alone; the other sensuous, in which 
I operate by my deed. The whole end of reason is pure ac 
tivity, absolutely by itself alone, having no need of any in 
strument out of itself, independence of everything which 
is not reason, absolute freedom. The will is the living 
principle of reason, is itself reason, when purely and simp 
ly apprehended; that reason is active by itself alone, means, 
that pure will, merely as such, lives and rules. It is only 
the Infinite Reason that lives immediately and wholly in 
this purely spiritual order. The finite reason, which does 
not of itself constitute the world of reason, but is only one 


of its many members, lives necessarily at the same time in 
a sensuous order ; that is to say, in one which presents to it 
another object beyond a purely spiritual activity : a ma 
terial object, to be promoted by instruments and powers 
which indeed stand under the immediate dominion of the 
will, but whose activity is also conditioned by their own na 
tural laws. Yet as surely as reason is reason, must the will 
operate absolutely by itself, and independently of the natu 
ral laws by which the material action is determined ; and 
hence the sensuous life of every finite being points towards 
a higher, into which the Avill, by itself alone, may open the 
way, and of which it may acquire possession, a possession 
which indeed we must again sensuously conceive of as a 
state, and not as a mere will. 

These two orders, the purely spiritual and the sensuous, 
the latter consisting possibly of an innumerable series of 
particular lives, have existed since the first moment of 
the development of an active reason within me, and still 
proceed parallel to each other. The latter order is only a 
phenomenon for myself, and for those with whom I am asso 
ciated in this life ; the former alone gives it significance, 
purpose, and value. I am immortal, imperishable, eternal, 
as soon as I form the resolution to obey the laws of reason ; 
I do not need to become so. The super-sensual world is no 
future world ; it is now present ; it can at no point of finite 
existence be more present than at another; not more pre 
sent after an existence of myriads of lives than at this mo 
ment. My sensuous existence may, in future, assume other 
forms, but these are just as little the true life, as its pre 
sent form. By that reslution I lay hold on eternity, and 
cast off this earthly life and all other forms of sensuous life 
which may yet lie before me in futurity, and place myself 
far above them. I become the sole source of my own being 
and its phenomena, and, henceforth, unconditioned by any 
thing without me, I have life in myself. My will, which is 
directed by no foreign agency in the order of the super-sen- 
sual world, but by myself alone, is this source of true life, 
and of eternity. 


It is my will alone which is this source of true life, and 
of eternity; only by recognising this will as the peculiar 
seat of moral goodness, and by actually raising it thereto, 
do I obtain the assurance and the possession of that super- 
sensual world. 

Without regard to any conceivable or visible object, with 
out inquiry as to whether my will may be followed by any 
result other than the mere volition, I must will in accor 
dance with the moral law. My will stands alone, apart 
from all that is not itself, and is its own world merely by it 
self and for itself; not only as being itself an absolutely 
first, primary and original power, before which there is no 
preceding influence by which it may be governed, but also 
as being followed by no conceivable or comprehensible second 
step in the series, coming after it, by which its activity may 
be brought under the dominion of a foreign law. Did there 
proceed from it any second, and from this again a third re 
sult, and so forth, in any conceivable sensuous world oppos 
ed to the spiritual world, then would its strength be broken 
by the resistance it would encounter from the independent 
elements of such a world which it would set in motion ; the 
mode of its activity would no longer exactly correspond to 
the purpose expressed in the volition ; and the will would 
no longer remain free, but be partly limited by the peculiar 
laws of its heterogeneous sphere of action. And thus must 
I actually regard the will in the present sensous world, the 
onlv one known to me. I am indeed compelled to believe, 
and consequently to act as if I thought, that by my mere 
volition, my tongue, my hand, or my foot, might be set in 
motion ; but how a mere aspiration, an impress of intelli 
gence upon itself, such as will is, can be the principle of 
motion to a heavy material mass, this I not only find it 
impossible to conceive, but the mere assertion is, before the 
tribunal of the understanding, a palpable absurdity ; here 
the movement of matter even in myself can be explained 
only by the internal forces of matter itself. 

Such a view of my will as I have taken, can, however, be 
attained only through an intimate conviction that it is not 


merely the highest active principle for this world, which it 
certainly might be, without having freedom in itself, by the 
mere influence of the system of the universe, perchance, as 
we must conceive of a formative power in Nature, but 
that it absolutely disregards all earthly objects, and generally 
all objects lying out of itself, and recognises itself, for its 
own sake, as its own ultimate end. But by such a view of 
my will I am at once directed to a super-sensual order of 
things, in which the will, by itself alone and without any 
instrument lying out of itself, becomes an efficient cause 
in a sphere which, like itself, is purely spiritual, and is 
thoroughly accessible to it. That moral volition is demand 
ed of us absolutely for its own sake alone, a truth which 
I discover only as a fact in my inward consciousness, and to 
the knowledge of which I cannot attain in any other way : 
this was the first step of my thought. That this demand 
is reasonable, and the source and standard of all else that is 
reasonable ; that it is not modelled upon any other thing 
whatever, but that all other things must, on the contrary, 
model themselves upon it, and be dependent upon it, a con 
viction which also I cannot arrive at from without, but can 
attain only by inward experience, by means of the unhesitat 
ing and immovable assent which I freely accord to this de 
mand: this was the second step of my thought. And from 
these two terms I have attained to faith in a super-sensual 
Eternal World. If I abandon the former, the latter falls to 
the ground. If it were true, as many say it is, assuming it 
without farther proof as self-evident and extolling it as the 
highest summit of human wisdom, that all human virtue 
must have before it a certain definite external object, and 
that it must first be assured of the possibility of attaining 
this object, before it can act and before it can become vir 
tue; that, consequently, reason by no means contains within 
itself the principle and the standard of its own activity, but 
must receive this standard from without, through contem 
plation of an external world ; if this were true, then might 
the ultimate end of our existence be accomplished here 
below ; human nature might be completely developed and 

z a 


exhausted by our earthly vocation, and we should have no 
rational ground for raising our thoughts above the present 

But every thinker who has anywhere acquired those first 
principles even historically, moved perhaps by a mere love 
of the new and unusual, and who is able to prosecute a 
correct course of reasoning from them, might speak and 
teach as I have now spoken to myself. He would then 
present us with the thoughts of some other being, not with 
his own; everything would float before him empty and 
without significance, because he would be without the sense 
whereby he might apprehend its reality. He is a blind 
man, who, upon certain true principles concerning colours 
which he has learned historically, has built a perfectly cor 
rect theory of colour, notwithstanding that there is in reality 
no colour existing for him ; he can tell how, under certain 
conditions, it must be / but to him it is not so, because he 
does not stand under these conditions. The faculty by 
which we lay hold on Eternal Life is to be attained only by 
actually renouncing the sensuous and its objects,|and sacri 
ficing them to that law which takes cognizance of our will 


only and not of our actions; renouncing them with the 
firmest conviction that it is reasonable for us to do so, nay, 
that it is the only thing reasonable for us, By_thijxii]in,- 
ciation of the Earthly, does faith in^^^Eternal_first_arise 
injour soul^^nd is tHereerishrineH apart, as the only sup 
port to which we can cling after we have given up all else, 
as the only animating principle that can elevate our 
minds and inspire our lives. We must indeed, accordingjbo 
the_figure of a sacred doctrine, firstj^dij^ unto the world and 
be born again, before we can _enter the kingdom of God." 

I see Oh I now see clearly before me the cause of 
my former indifference and blindness concerning spiritual 


things ! Absorbed by mere earthly objects, lost in them 
with all our thoughts and efforts, moved and urged onward 
only by the notion of a result lying beyond ourselves, by 
the desire of such a result and of our enjoyment therein, 
insensible and dead to the pure impulse of reason, which 
gives a law to itself, and offers to our aspirations a purely 
spiritual end, the immortal Psyche remains, with fettered 
pinions, fastened to the earth. Our philosophy becomes 
the history of our own heart and life; and according to 
what we ourselves are, do we conceive of man and his voca 
tion. Never impelled by any other motive than the desire 
after what can be actually realized in this world, there is for 
us no true freedom, no freedom which holds the ground of 
its determination absolutely and entirely within itself. Our 
freedom is, at best, that of the self-forming plant ; not es 
sentially higher in its nature, but only more artistical in its 
results ; not producing a mere material form with roots, 
leaves, and blossoms, but a mind with impulses, thoughts, 
and actions. We cannot have the slightest conception of 
true freedom, because we do not ourselves possess it ; when 
it is spoken of, we either bring down what is said to the 
level of our own notions, or at once declare all such talk to 
be nonsense. Without the idea of freedom, we are likewise 
without the faculty for another world. Everything of this 
kind floats past before us like words that are not addressed 
to us; like a pale shadow, without colour or meaning, which 
we know not how to lay hold of or retain. We leave it as 
we find it, without the least participation or sympathy. Or 
should we ever be urged by a more active zeal to consider 
it seriously, we then convince ourselves to our own satisfac 
tion that all such ideas are untenable and worthless re 
veries, which the man of sound understanding unhesitating- 

o o 

ly rejects ; and according to the premises from which we 
proceed, made up as they are of our inward experiences, we 
are perfectly in the right, and secure from either refutation 
or conversion so long as we remain what we are. The ex 
cellent doctrines which are taught amongst us with a special 
authority, concerning freedom, duty, and everlasting life, 


become to us romantic fables, like those of Tartarus and the 
Elysian fields; although we do not publish to the world 
this our secret opinion, because we find it expedient, by 
means of these figures, to maintain an outward decorum 
among the populace ; or, should we be less reflective, and 
ourselves bound in the chains of authority, then we sink to 
the level of the common mind, and believing what, thus 
understood, would be mere foolish fables, we find in those 
pure spiritual symbols only the promise of continuing 
throughout eternity the same miserable existence which we 
possess here below. 

In one word : only by the fundamental improvement of 
my will does a new light arise within me concerning my 
existence and vocation ; without this, however much I may 
speculate, and with what rare intellectual gifts soever I may 
be endowed, darkness remains within me and around me. 
The improvement of the heart alone leads to true wisdom. 
Let then my whole life be unceasingly devoted to this one 


My Moral Will, merely as such, in and through itself, shall 
certainly and invariably produce consequences; every deter 
mination of my will in accordance with duty, although no 
action should follow it, shall operate in another, to me in 
comprehensible, world, in which nothing but this moral 
determination of the will shall possess efficient activity. 
What is it that is assumed in this conception ? 

Obviously a Law ; a rule absolutely without exception, 
according to which a will determined by duty must have 
consequences; just as in the, material world which sur 
rounds me I assume a law according to which this ball, 
when thrown by my hand with this particular force, in this 
particular direction, necessarily moves in such a direction 
with a certain degree of velocity, perhaps strikes another 
ball with a certain amount of force, which in its turn moves 
on with a certain velocity, and so on. As here, in the 


mere direction and motion of my hand, I already perceive 
and apprehend all the consequent directions and move 
ments, with the same certainty as if they were already 
present before me; even so do I embrace by means of my vir 
tuous will a series of necessary and inevitable consequences 
in the spiritual world, as if they were already present be 
fore me ; only that I cannot define them as I do those in 
the material world, that is, I only know that they must be, 
but not how they shall be ; and even in doing this, I con 
ceive of a Law of the spiritual world, in which my pure will 
is one of the moving forces, as my hand is one of the moving 
forces of the material world. My own firm confidence in 
these results, and the conceptions of this Law of the spiri 
tual world, are one and the same ; they are not two 
thoughts, one of which arises by means of the other, but 
they are entirely the same thought; just as the confidence 
with which I calculate on a certain motion in a material 
body, and the conception of a mechanical law of nature on 
which that motion depends, are one and the same. The 
conception of a Law expresses nothing more than the firm, 
immovable confidence of reason in a principle, and the ab 
solute impossibility of admitting its opposite. 

I assume such a law of a spiritual world, not given by 
my will nor by the will of any finite being, nor by the will 
of all finite beings taken together, but to which my will, and 
the will of all finite beings, is subject. Neither I, nor any fi 
nite and therefore sensuous being, can conceive how a mere 
will can have consequences, nor what may be the true nature 
of those consequences ; for herein consists the essential cha 
racter of our finite nature, that we are unable to conceive 
this, that having indeed our will, as such, wholly within 
our power, we are yet compelled by our sensuous nature to 
regard the consequences of that will as sensuous states : 
how then can I, or any other finite being whatever, propose 
to ourselves as objects, and thereby give reality to, that 
which we can neither imagine nor conceive ? I cannot say 
that, in the material world, my hand, or any other body 
which belongs to that world and is subject to the universal 


law of gravity, brings this law into operation ; these bodies 
themselves stand under this law, and are able to set another 
body in motion only in accordance with this law, and only 
in so far as that body, by virtue of this law, partakes of the 
universal moving power of Nature. Just as little can a 
finite will give a law to the super-sensual world, which no 
finite spirit can embrace ; but all finite wills stand under 
the law of that world, and can produce results therein only 
inasmuch as that law already exists, and inasmuch as they 
themselves, in accordance with the form of that law which 
is applicable to finite wills, bring themselves under its con 
ditions, and within the sphere of its activity, by moral obe 
dience; by moral obedience, I say, the only tie which unites 
them to that higher world, the only nerve that descends from 
it to them, and the only organ through which they can re-act 
upon it. As the universal power of attraction embraces all 
bodies, and holds them together in themselves and with each 
other, and the movement of each separate body is possible 
only on the supposition of this power, so does that super-sen 
sual law unite, hold together, and embrace all finite reason 
able beings. My will, and the will of all finite beings, may 
be regarded from a double point of view : partly as a mere 
volition, an internal act directed upon itself alone, and, in so 
far, the will is complete in itself, concluded in this act of vo 
lition ; partly as something beyond this, a, fact. It assumes 
the latter form to me, as soon as I regard it as completed ; 
but it must also become so beyond me: in the world of 
sense, as the moving principle, for instance, of my hand, from 
the movement of which, again, other movements follow ; in 
the super-sensual world, as the principle of a series of spiri 
tual consequences of which I have no conception. In the 
former point of view, as a mere act of volition, it stands wholly 
within my own power ; its assumption of the latter charac 
ter, that of an active first principle, depends not upon me, 
but on a law to which I myself am subject ; on the law of 
nature in the world of sense, on a super-sensual law in the 
world of pure thought. 

What, then, is this law of the spiritual world which I con- 


eeive ? This idea now stands before me, in fixed and per 
fect shape ; I cannot, and dare not add anything whatever 
to it ; I have only to express and interpret it distinctly. It 
is obviously not such as I may suppose the principle of my 
own, or any other possible sensuous world, to be, a fixed, 
inert existence, from which, by the encounter of a will, some 
internal power may be evolved, something altogether dif 
ferent from a mere will. For, and this is the substance of 
my belief, my will, absolutely by itself, and without the 
intervention of any instrument that might weaken its ex 
pression, shall act in a perfectly congenial sphere, reason, 
upon reason, spirit upon spirit ; in a sphere to which 
nevertheless it does not give the law of life, activity, and 
progress, but which has that law in itself; therefore, upon 
self-active reason. But self-active reason is will. The law 
of the super-sensual world must, therefore, be a Will : A 
Will which operates purely as will ; by itself, and absolutely 
without any instrument or sensible material of its activity ; 
which is, at the same time, both act and product ; with 
whom to will is to do, to command is to execute ; in which 
therefore the instinctive demand of reason for absolute free 
dom and independence is realized : A Will, which in itself 
is law ; determined by no fancy or caprice, through no pre 
vious reflection, hesitation or doubt : but eternal, un 
changeable, on which we may securely and infallibly rely, as 
the physical man relies with certainty on the laws of his 
world : A Will in which the moral will of finite beings, and 
this alone, has sure and unfailing results; since for it all 
else is unavailing, all else is as if it were not. 

That sublime Will thus pursues no solitary path with 
drawn from the other parts of the world of reason. There 
is a spiritual bond between Him and all finite rational be 
ings ; and He himself is this spiritual bond of the rational 
universe. Let me will, purely and decidedly, my duty ; and 
He wills that, in the spiritual world at least, my will shall 
prosper. Every moral resolution of a finite being goes up 
before Him, and to speak after the manner of mortals 
moves and determines Him, not in consequence of a mo- 


mentary satisfaction, but in accordance with the eternal law 
of His being. With surprising clearness does this thought, 
which hitherto was surrounded with darkness, now reveal 
itself to my soul ; the thought that my will, merely as such, 
and through itself, shall have results. It has results, because 
it is immediately and infallibly perceived by another Will 
to which it is related, which is its own accomplishment and 
the only living principle of the spiritual world ; in Him it 
has its first results, and through Him it acquires an in 
fluence on the whole spiritual world, which throughout is 
but a product of that Infinite Will. 

Thus do I approach the mortal must speak in his own 
language thus do I approach that Infinite Will ; and the 
voice of conscience in my soul, which teaches me in every 
situation of life what I have there to do, is the channel 
through which again His influence descends upon me. That 
voice, sensualized by my environment, and translated into 
my language, is the oracle of the Eternal World which an 
nounces to me how I am to perform my part in the order of 
the spiritual universe, or in the Infinite Will who is Him 
self that order. I cannot, indeed, survey or comprehend 
that spiritual order, and I need not to do so ; I am but a 
link in its chain, and can no more judge of the whole, than 
a single tone of music can judge of the entire harmony of 
which it forms a part. But what I myself ought to be in 
this harmony of spirits I must know, for it is only I myself 
who can make me so, and this is immediately revealed to 
me by a voice whose tones descend upon me from that other 
world. Thus do I stand connected with the ONE who alone 
has existence, and thus do I participate in His being. 
There is nothing real, lasting, imperishable me, but these 
two elements : the voice of conscience, and my free obe 
dience. By the first, the spiritual world bows down to me, 
and embraces me as one of its members ; by the second I 
raise myself into this world, apprehend it, and re-act upon 
it. That Infinite Will is the mediator between it and 
me ; for He himself is the original source both of it and 
me. This is the one True and Imperishable for which my 


soul yearns even from its inmost depths ; all else is mere 
appearance, ever vanishing, and ever returning in a new 

This Will unites me with himself; He also unites me 
with all finite beings like myself, and is the common media 
tor between us all. This is the great mystery of the in 
visible world, and its fundamental law, in so far as it is a 
world or system of many individual wills : the union, and 
direct reciprocal action, of many separate and independent 
wills ; a mystery which already lies clearly before every eye 
in the present life, without attracting the notice of any one, 
or being regarded as in any way wonderful. The voice of 
conscience, which imposes on each his particular duty, is the 
light-beam on which we come forth from the bosom of the 
Infinite, and assume our place as particular individual be 
ings ; it fixes the limits of our personality ; it is thus the 
true original element of our nature, the foundation and ma 
terial of all our life. The absolute freedom "of the will, 
which we bring down with us from the Infinite into the 
world of Time, is the principle of this our life. I act : and, 
the sensible intuition through which alone I become a per 
sonal intelligence being supposed, it is easy to conceive how 
I must necessarily know of this my action, I know it, be 
cause it is I myself who act ; it is easy to conceive how, by 
means of this sensible intuition, my spiritual act appears to 
me as a fact in a world of sense; and how, on the other 
hand, by the same sensualization, the law of duty which, in 
itself, is a purely spiritual law, should appear to me as the 
command to such an action ; it is easy to conceive, how an 
actually present world should appear to me as the condition 
of this action, and, in part, as the consequence and product 
of it. Thus far I remain within myself and upon my own 
territory ; everything here, which has an existence for me, 
unfolds itself purely and solely from myself; I see every 
where only myself, and no true existence out of myself. But 
in this my world I admit, also, the operations of other be 
ings, separate and independent of me, as much as I of them. 



How these beings can themselves know of the influences 
which proceed from them, may easily be conceived; they 
know of them in the same way in which I know of my own. 
But how / can know of them is absolutely inconceivable ; 
just as it is inconceivable how they can possess that know 
ledge of my existence, and its manifestations, which never 
theless I ascribe to them. How do they come within my 
world, or I within theirs, since the principle by which the 
consciousness of ourselves, of our operations, and of their 
sensuous conditions, is deduced from ourselves, i. e. that 
each individual must undoubtedly know what he himself 
d oeSj i s here wholly inapplicable ? How have free spirits 
knowledge of free spirits, since we know that free spirits are 
the only reality, and that an independent world of sense, 
through which they might act on each other, is no longer to 
be taken into account. Or shall it be said, I perceive reason 
able beings like myself by the changes which they produce 
in the world of sense ? Then I ask again, How dost thou 
perceive these changes ? I comprehend very well how thou 
canst perceive changes which are brought about by the 
mere mechanism of nature ; for the law of this mechanism 
is no other than the law of thy own thought, according to 
which, this world being once assumed, it is carried out into 
farther developments. But the changes of which we now 
speak are not brought about by the mere mechanism of na 
ture, but by a free will elevated above all nature ; and only 
in so far as thou canst regard them in this character, canst 
thou infer from them the existence of free beings like thy 
self. Where then is the law within thyself, according to 
which thou canst realize the determinations of other wills 
absolutely independent of thee ? In short, this mutual 
recognition and reciprocal action of free beings in this 
world, is perfectly inexplicable by the laws of nature or of 
thought, and can be explained only through the One in whom 
they are united, although to each other they are separate ; 
through the Infinite Will who sustains and embraces them 
all in His own sphere. Not immediately from thee to me, 
nor from me to thee, flows forth the knowledge which we 


have of each other ; we are separated by an insurmount 
able barrier. Only through the common fountain of our 
spiritual being do we know of each other ; only in Him do 
we recognise each other, and influence each other. " Here 
reverence the image of freedom upon the earth ; here, a 
work which bears its impress : " thus is it proclaimed with 
in me by the voice of that Will, which speaks to me only in 
so far as it imposes duties upon me ; and the only prin 
ciple through which I recognise thee and thy work, is the 
command of conscience to respect them. 

Whence, then, our feelings, our sensible intuitions, our dis 
cursive laws of thought, on all which is founded the exter 
nal world which we behold, in which we believe that we ex 
ert an influence on each other ? With respect to the two 
last our sensible intuitions and our laws of thought to 
say, these are laws of reason in itself, is only to give no sa 
tisfactory answer at all. For us, indeed, who are excluded 
from the pure domain of reason in itself, it may be impos 
sible to think otherwise, or to conceive of reason under any 
other law. But the true law of reason in itself is the prac 
tical law, the law of the super-sensual world, or of that sub 
lime Will. And, leaving this for a moment undecided, whence 
comes our universal agreement as to feelings, which, never 
theless, are something positive, immediate, inexplicable ? 
On this agreement in feeling, perception, and in the laws of 
thought, however, it depends that we all behold the same 
external world. 

" It is a harmonious, although inconceivable, limitation of 
the finite rational beings who compose our race ; and only 
by means of such a harmonious limitation do they become a 
race:" thus answers the philosophy of mere knowledge, 
and here it must rest as its highest point. But what can 
set a limit to reason but reason itself ? what can limit all 
finite reason but the Infinite Reason ? This universal agree 
ment concerning a sensible world, assumed and accepted 
by us as the foundation of all our other life, and as the 
sphere of our duty which, strictly considered, is just as in 
comprehensible as our unanimity concerning the products of 


our reciprocal freedom, this agreement is the result of the 
One Eternal Infinite Will. Our faith, of which we have 
spoken as faith in duty, is only faith in Him, in His reason, 
in His truth. What, then, is the peculiar and essential 
truth which we accept in the world of sense, and in which 
we believe ? Nothing less than that from our free and faith 
ful performance of our duty in this world, there will arise to 
us throughout eternity a life in which our freedom and mo 
rality may still continue their development. If this be true, 
then indeed is there truth in our world, and the only truth 
possible for finite beings; and it must be true, for this world 
is the result of the Eternal Will in us, and that Will, by 
the law of His own being, can have no other purpose with 
respect to finite beings, than that which we have set forth. 

That Eternal Will is thus assuredly the Creator of the 
World, in the only way in which He can be so, and in the 
only way in which it needs creation : in the finite reason. 
Those who regard Him as building up a world from an 
everlasting inert matter, which must still remain inert and 
lifeless, like a vessel made by human hands, not an eternal 
procession of His self-development, or who ascribe to Him 
the production of a material universe out of nothing, know 
neither the world nor Him. If matter only can be reality, 
then were the world indeed nothing, and throughout all eter 
nity would remain nothing. Keason alone exists : the In 
finite in Himself, the finite in Him and through Him. 
Only in our minds has He created a world ; at least that 
from which we unfold it, and that ly which we unfold it; 
the voice of duty, and harmonious feelings, intuitions, and 
laws of thought. It is His light through which we behold 
the light, and all that it reveals to us. In our minds He 
still creates this world, and acts upon it by acting upon our 
minds through the call of duty, as soon as another free be- 
ino- changes aught therein. In our minds He upholds this 
world, and thereby the finite existence of which alone we 
are capable, by continually evolving from each state of our 
existence other states in succession. When He shall have 
sufficiently proved us according to His supreme designs, for 


our next succeeding vocation, and we shall have sufficiently 
cultivated ourselves for entering upon it, then, by that 
which we call death, will He annihilate for us this life, and 
introduce us to a new life, the product of our virtuous ac 
tions. All our life is His life. We are in His hand, and 
abide therein, and no one can pluck us out of His hand. 
We are eternal, because He is eternal. 

Sublime and Living Will ! named by no name, compassed 
by no thought ! I may well raise my soul to Thee, for Thou 
and I are not divided. Thy voice sounds within me, mine 
resounds in Thee ; and all my thoughts, if they be but good 
and true, live in Thee also. In Thee, the Incomprehensible, 
I myself, and the world in which I live, become clearly com 
prehensible to me ; all the secrets of my existence are laid 
open, and perfect harmony arises in my soul. 

Thou art best known to the child-like, devoted, simple 
mind. To it Thou art the searcher of hearts, who seest its 
inmost depths ; the ever-present true witness of its thoughts, 
who knowest its truth, who knowest it though all the world 
know it not. Thou art the Father who ever desirest its 
good, who rulest all things for the best. To Thy will it un 
hesitatingly resigns itself: "Do with me," it says, "what 
thou wilt ; I know that it is good, for it is Thou who doest 
it." The inquisitive understanding, which has heard of 
Thee, but seen Thee not, would teach us thy nature ; and, 
as Thy image, shows us a monstrous and incongruous 
shape, which the sagacious laugh at, and the wise and good 

I hide my face before Thee, and lay my hand upon my 
mouth. How Thou art, and seemest to Thine own being, I 
can never know, any more than I can assume Thy nature. 
After thousands upon thousands of spirit-lives, I shall com 
prehend Thee as little as I do now in this earthly house. 
That which I conceive, becomes finite through my very con 
ception of it ; and this can never, even by endless exalta 
tion, rise into the Infinite. Thou differest from men, not in 
degree but in nature. In every stage of their advancement 
they think of Thee as a greater man, and still a greater ; 


but never as God the Infinite, whom no measure can 
mete. I have only this discursive, progressive thought, and 
I can conceive of no other : how can I venture to ascribe 
it to Thee ? In the Idea of person there are imperfections, 
limitations : how can I clothe Thee with it without these ? 
I will not attempt that which the imperfection of my 
finite nature forbids, and which would be useless to me : 
How Thou art, I may not know. But, let me be what I 
ought to be, and Thy relations to me the mortal and to 
all mortals, lie open before my eyes, and surround me more 
clearly than the consciousness of my own existence. Thou 
workest in me the knowledge of my duty, of my voca 
tion in the world of reasonable beings ; how, I know 
not, nor need I to know. Thou knowest what I think and 
what I will : how Thou canst know, through what act 
thou bringest about that consciousness, I cannot understand, 
nay, I know that the idea of an act, of a particular act of 
consciousness, belongs to me alone, and not to Thee, the 
Infinite One. Thou wiliest that my free obedience shall 
bring with it eternal consequences : the act of Thy will I 
cannot comprehend, I only know that it is not like mine. 
Thou doest, and Thy will itself is the deed ; but the way of 
Thy working is not as my ways, I cannot trace it. Thou 
livest and art, for Thou knowest and wiliest and workest, 
omnipresent to finite Reason ; but Thou art not as / now 
and always must conceive of being. 

In the contemplation of these Thy relations to me, the 
finite being, will I rest in calm blessedness. I know im 
mediately only what I ought to do. This will I do, freely, 
joyfully, and without cavilling or sophistry, for it is Thy 
voice which commands me to do it ; it is the part assigned 
to me in the spiritual World-plan; and the power with 
which I shall perform it is Thy power. Whatever may be 
commanded by that voice, whatever executed by that power, 
is, in that plan, assuredly and truly good. I remain tran 
quil amid all the events of this world, for they are in Thy 


world. Nothing can perplex or surprise or dishearten me, 
as surely as Thou livest, and I can look upon Thy life. For 
in Thee, and through Thee, O Infinite One ! do I behold 
even my present world in another light. Nature, and na 
tural consequences, in the destinies and conduct of free be 
ings, as opposed to Thee, become empty, unmeaning words. 
Nature is no longer ; Thou, only Thou, art. It no longer 
appears to me to be the end and purpose of the present 
world to produce that state of universal peace among men, 
and of unlimited dominion over the mechanism of nature, 
for its own sake alone, but that this should be produced 
by man himself, and, since it is expected from all, that it 
should be produced by all, as one great, free, moral, commu 
nity. Nothing new and better for an individual shall be 
attainable, except through his own virtuous will; nothing 
new and better for a community, except through the com 
mon will being in accordance with duty : this is a funda 
mental law of the great moral empire, of which the present 
life is a part. The good will of the individual is thus often 
lost to this world, because it is but the will of the individu 
al, and the will of the majority is not in harmony with his, 
and then its results are to be found solely in a future 
world ; while even the passions and vices of men cooperate 
in the attainment of good, not in and for themselves, for 
in this sense good can never come out of evil, but by hold 
ing the balance against the opposite vices, and, at last, by 
their excess, annihilating these antagonists, and themselves 
with them. Oppression could never have gained the upper 
hand in human affairs, unless the cowardice, baseness, and 
mutual mistrust of men had smoothed the way to it. It will 
continue to increase, until it extirpate cowardice and slav- 
ishness ; and despair itself at last reawaken courage. Then 
shall the two opposite vices have annihilated each other, 
and the noblest of all human relations, lasting freedom, 
come forth from their antagonism. 

The actions of free beings, strictly considered, have results 
only in other free beings; for in them, and for them 
alone, there is a world ; and that in which they all agree, is 


itself the world. But they have these results only through 
the Infinite Will, the medium through which all indi 
vidual beings influence each other. But the announcement, 
the publication of this Will to us, is always a call to a par 
ticular duty. Thus even what we call evil in the world, the 
consequence of the abuse of freedom, exists only through 
Him ; and it exists for those who experience it only in so 
far as, through it, duties are laid upon them. Were it not 
in the eternal plan of our moral cujure, and the culture of 
our whole race, that precisely these duties should be laid 
upon us, they would not be so laid upon us ; and that 
through which they are laid upon us i. e. what we call evil 
would not have been produced. In so far, everything 
that is, is good, and absolutely legitimate. There is but 
one world possible, a thoroughly good world. All that 
happens in this world is subservient to the improvement and 
culture of man, and, by means of this, to the promotion of 
the purpose of his earthly existence. It is this higher 
World-plan which we call Nature, when we say, Nature 
leads men through want to industry ; through the evils of 
general disorder to a just constitution; through the miseries 
of continual wars to endless peace on earth. Thy will, O 
Infinite One ! thy Providence alone, is this higher Nature. 
This, too, is best understood by artless simplicity, when it 
regards this life as a place of trial and culture, as a school 
for eternity ; when, in all the events of life, the most trivial 
as well as the most important, it beholds thy guiding Provi 
dence disposing all for the best; when it firmly believes 
that all things must work together for the good of those 
who love their duty, and who know Thee. 

Oh! I have, indeed, dwelt in darkness during the past 
days of my life ! I have indeed heaped error upon error, and 
imagined myself wise ! Now, for the first time, do I wholly 
understand the doctrine which from thy lips, O Wonderful 
Spirit ! seemed so strange to me, although my understand 
ing had nothing to oppose to it ; for now, for the first time, 


do I comprehend it in its whole compass, in its deepest 
foundations, and through all its consequences. 

Man is not a product of the world of sense, and the end 
of his existence cannot be attained in it. His vocation 
transcends Time and Space, and everything that pertains to 
sense. What he is, and to what he is to train himself, that 
he must know ; as his vocation is a lofty one, he must be 
able to raise his thoughts above all the limitations of sense. 
He must accomplish it : where his being finds its home, 
there his thoughts too seek their dwelling-place ; and the 
truly human mode of thought, that which alone is worthy 
of him, that in which his whole spiritual strength is mani 
fested, is that whereby he raises himself above those limi 
tations, whereby all that pertains to sense vanishes into 
nothing, into a mere reflection, in mortal eyes, of the One, 
Self-existent Infinite. 

Many have raised themselves to this mode of thought, 
without scientific inquiry, merely by their nobleness of heart 
and their pure moral instinct, because their life has been 
preeminently one of feeling and sentiment. They have de 
nied, by their conduct, the efficiency and reality of the 
world of sense, and made it of no account in regulating their 
resolutions and their actions ; -whereby they have not in 
deed made it clear, by reasoning, that this world has no 
existence for the intellect. Those who could dare to say, 
" Our citizenship is in heaven ; we have here no continuing 
city, but we seek one to come ; " those whose chief prin 
ciple it was " to die to the world, to be born again, and 
already here below to enter upon a new life," certainly 
set no value whatever on the things of sense, and were, to 
use the language of the schools, practical Transcendental 

Others, Avho, besides possessing the natural proneness to 
mere sensuous activity which is common to us all, have also 
added to its power by the adoption of similar habits of 
thought, until they have got wholly entangled in it, and it 
has grown with their growth, and strengthened with their 
strength, can raise themselves above it, permanently and 



completely, only by persistent and conclusive thought ; 
otherwise, with the purest moral intentions, they would be 
continually drawn down again by their understanding, and 
their whole being would remain a prolonged and insoluble 
contradiction. For these, the philosophy which I now, for 
the first time, thoroughly understand, will be the first power 
that shall set free the imprisoned Psyche and unfold her 
wings, so that, hovering for a moment above her former self, 
she may cast a glance on her abandoned slough, and then 
soar upwards thenceforward to live and move in higher 

Blessed be the hour in which I first resolved to inquire 
into myself and my vocation ! All my doubts are solved ; I 
know what I can know, and have no apprehensions regard 
ing that which I cannot know. I am satisfied ; perfect har 
mony and clearness reign in my soul, and a new and more 
glorious spiritual existence begins for me. 

My entire complete vocation I cannot comprehend ; what 
I shall be hereafter transcends all my thoughts. A part of 
that vocation is concealed from me ; it is visible only to One, 
to the Father of Spirits, to whose care it is committed. I 
know only that it is sure, and that it is eternal and glorious 
like Himself. But that part of it which is confided to my 
self, I know, and know it thoroughly, for it is the root of all 
my other knowledge. I know assuredly, in every moment 
of my life, what I ought to do ; and this is my whole voca 
tion in so far as it depends on me. From this point, since 
my knowledge does not reach beyond it, I shall not depart ; 
I shall not desire to know aught beyond this ; I shall take 
my stand upon this central point, and firmly root myself 
here. To this shall all my thoughts and endeavours, my 
whole powers, be directed ; my whole existence shall be 
interwoven with it. 

I ought, as far as in me lies, to cultivate my understand 
ing and to acquire knowledge ; but only with the purpose 
of preparing thereby within me a larger field and wider 
sphere of duty. I ought to desire to have much ; in order 


that much may be required of me. I ought to exercise my 
powers and capacities in every possible way ; but only in 
order to render myself a more serviceable and fitting instru 
ment of duty, for until the commandment shall have been 
realized in the outward world, by means of my whole per 
sonality, I am answerable for it to my conscience. I ought 
to exhibit in myself, as far as I am able, humanity in all its 
completeness; not for the mere sake of humanity, which 
in itself has not the slightest worth, but in order that vir 
tue, which alone has worth in itself, may be exhibited in its 
highest perfection in human nature. I ought to regard my 
self, body and soul, with all that is in me or that belongs to 
me, only as a means of duty ; and only be solicitous to fulfil 
that, and to make myself able to fulfil it, as far as in me 
lies. But when the commandment, provided only that it 
shall have been in truth the commandment which I have 
obeyed, and I have been really conscious only of the pure, 
single intention of obeying it, when the commandment 
shall have passed beyond my personal being to its realiza 
tion in the outward world, then I have no more anxiety 
about it, for thenceforward it is committed into the hands of 
the Eternal Will. Farther care or anxiety would be but 
idle self-torment; would be unbelief and distrust of that 
Infinite Will. I shall never dream of governing the world 
in His stead ; of listening to the voice of my own imperfect 
wisdom instead of to His voice in my conscience ; or of sub 
stituting the partial views of a short-sighted creature for 
His vast plan which embraces the universe. I know that 
thereby I should lose my own place in His order, and in the 
order of all spiritual being. 

As with calmness and devotion I reverence this hio-her 


Providence, so in my actions ought I to reverence the free 
dom of other beings around me. The question for me is 
not what they, according to my conceptions, ought to do, 
but what I may venture to do in order to induce them to do 
it. I can only desire to act on their conviction and their 
will as far as the order of society and their own consent 
will permit ; but by no means, without their conviction and 


consent, to influence their powers and relations. They do 
what they do on their own responsibility : with this I 
neither can nor dare intermeddle, and the Eternal Will will 
dispose all for the best. It concerns me more to respect 
their freedom, than to hinder or prevent what to me seems 
evil in its use. 

In this point of view I become a new creature, and my 
whole relations to the existing world are changed. The ties 
by which my mind was formerly united to this world, and by 
whose secret guidance I followed all its movements, are for 
ever sundered, and I stand free, calm and immovable, a 
universe to myself. No longer through my affections, but 
by my eye alone, do I apprehend outward objects and am 
connected with them ; and this eye itself is purified by free 
dom, and looks through error and deformity to the True 
and Beautiful, as upon the unruffled surface of water shapes 
are more purely mirrored in a milder light. 

My mind is for ever closed against embarrassment and 
perplexity, against uncertainty, doubt, and anxiety ; my 
heart, against grief, repentance, and desire. There is but 
one thing that I may know, namely, what I ought to do ; 
and this I always know infallibly. Concerning all else I 
know nothing, and know that I know nothing. I firmly 
root myself in this my ignorance, and refrain from harassing 
myself with conjectures concerning that of which I know 
nothing. No occurrence in this world can affect me either 
with joy or sorrow ; calm and unmoved I look down upon 
all things, for I know that I cannot explain a single event, 
nor comprehend its connexion with that which alone con 
cerns me. All that happens belongs to the plan of the 
Eternal World, and is good in its place: thus much I know; 
what in this plan is pure gain, what is only a means for 
the removal of some existing evil, what therefore ought to 
afford me more or less satisfaction, I know not. In His 
world all things prosper; this satisfies me, and in this belief 
I stand fast as a rock : but what in His world is merely 
the germ, what the blossom, and what the fruit itself, I 
know not. 


The only matter in which I can be concerned is the pro 
gress of reason and morality in the world of reasonable be 
ings ; and this only for its own sake, for the sake of this 
progress. Whether I or some one else be the instrument of 
this progress, whether it be my deed or that of another 
which prospers or is prevented, is of no importance to me. 
I regard myself merely as one of the instruments for carry 
ing out the purpose of reason ; I respect, love, or feel an 
interest in myself only as such an instrument, and desire the 
successful issue of my deed only in so far as it promotes this 
purpose. In like manner, I regard all the events of this world 
only with reference to this one purpose ; whether they pro 
ceed from me or from others, whether they relate directly to 
me or to others. My breast is steeled against annoyance on 
account of personal offences and vexations, or exultation in 
personal merit ; for my whole personality has disappeared 
in the contemplation of the purpose of my being. 

Should it ever seem to me as if truth had been put to 
silence, and virtue expelled from the world; as if folly and 
vice had now summoned all their powers, and even assumed 
the place of reason and true wisdom ; should it happen, 
that just when all good men looked with hope for the re 
generation of the human race, everything should become 
even worse than it had been before ; should the work, well 
and happily begun, on which the eyes of all true-minded 
men were fixed with joyous expectation, suddenly and un 
expectedly be changed into the vilest forms of evil, these 
things will not disturb me ; and as little will I be persuaded 
to indulge in idleness, neglect, or false security, on account 
of an apparent rapid growth of enlightenment, a seeming 
diffusion of freedom and independence, an increase of more 
gentle manners, peacefulness, docility, and general modera 
tion among men, as if now everything were attained. Thus 
it appears to me ; or rather it is so, for it is actually so to 
me ; and I know in both cases, as indeed I know in all pos 
sible cases, what I have next to do. As to everything else, 
I rest in the most perfect tranquillity, for I know nothing 
whatever about any other thing. Those, to me, so sorrowful 


events may, in the plan of the Eternal One, be the direct 
means for the attainment of a good result ; that strife of 
evil against good^may be their last decisive struggle, and it 
may be permitted to the former to assemble all its powers 
for this encounter only to lose them, and thereby to exhibit 
itself in all its impotence. These, to me, joyful appearances 
may rest on very uncertain foundations ; what I had taken 
for enlightenment may perhaps be but hollow superficiality, 
and aversion to all true ideas ; what I had taken for inde 
pendence but unbridled passion ; what I had taken for 
gentleness and moderation but weakness and indolence. I 
do not indeed know this, but it might be so ; and then I 
should have as little cause to mourn over the one as to re 
joice over the other. But I do know, that I live in a world 
which belongs to the Supreme Wisdom and Goodness, who 
thoroughly comprehends its plan, and will infallibly accom 
plish it ; and in this conviction I rest, and am blessed. 

That there are free beings, destined to reason and mora 
lity, who strive against reason, and call forth all their 
powers to the support of folly and vice ; just as little will 
this disturb me, and stir up within me indignation and 
wrath. The perversity which would . hate what is good 
because it is good, and promote evil merely from a love of 
evil as such, this perversity which alone could excite my 
just anger, I ascribe to no one who bears the form of man, 
for I know that it does not lie in human nature. I know 
that for all who act thus, there is really, in so far as they act 
thus, neither good nor evil, but only an agreeable or dis 
agreeable feeling ; that they do not stand under their own 
dominion, but under the power of Nature ; and that it is 
not themselves, but this nature in them, which seeks the 
former and flies from the latter with all its strength, with 
out regard to whether it be otherwise good or evil. I know 
that being, once for all, what they are, they cannot act in 
any respect otherwise than as they do act, and I am very far 
from getting angry with necessity, or indulging in wrath 
against blind and unconscious Nature. Herein truly lies 
their guilt and un worthiness, that they are what they are ; 


and that, in place of being free and independent, they have 
resigned themselves to the current of mere natural impulse. 

It is this alone which could excite my indignation ; but 
here I should fall into absolute absurdity. I cannot call 
them to account for their want of freedom, without first at 
tributing to them the power of making themselves free. 1 
wish to be angry with them, and find no object for my 
wrath. What they actually are, does not deserve my anger; 
what might deserve it, they are not, and they would not 
deserve it, if they were. My displeasure would strike an im 
palpable nonentity. I must indeed always treat them, and 
address them, as if they were what I well know they are 
not ; I must always suppose in them that whereby alone I 
can approach them and communicate with them. Duty com 
mands me to act towards them according to a conception of 
them the opposite of that which I arrive at by contemplat 
ing them. And thus it may certainly, happen that I turn 
towards them with a noble indignation, as if they were free, 
in order to arouse within them a similar indignation against 
themselves, an indignation which in my own heart I can 
not reasonably entertain. It is only the practical man of 
society within me whose anger is excited by folly and vice ; 
not the contemplative man who reposes undisturbed in the 
calm serenity of his own spirit. 

Should I be visited by corporeal suffering, pain, or disease, 
I cannot avoid feeling them, for they are accidents of my 
nature ; and as long as I remain here below, I am a part of 
Nature. But they shall not grieve me. They can only 
touch the nature with which, in a wonderful manner, I am 
united, not myself, the being exalted above all Nature. 
The sure end of all pain, and of all sensibility to pain, is 
death ; and of all things which the mere natural man is 
wont to regard as evils, this is to me the least. I shall not 
die to myself, but only to others ; to those who remain be 
hind, from whose fellowship I am torn: for myself the hour 
of Death is the hour of Birth to a new, more excellent life. 

Now that my heartj.s closed^ajnst^ljdcsiro fgrjearlbly 
things, now that I have no longer any sense for the transi- 


tory and perishabl^thejaniverse appears before my eyes 
clothed in a more glorious form. The dead heavy mass, 
which only filled up space, has vanished ; and in its place 
there flows onward, -with the rushing music of mighty 
waves, an eternal stream of life and power and action, which 
issues from the original Source of all life from Thy Life, O 
Infinite One ! for all life is Thy Life, and only the religious 
eye penetrates to the realm of True Beauty. 

I am related to Thee, and what I behold around me is 
related to me ; all is life and blessedness, and regards me 
with bright spirit-eyes, and speaks with spirit-voices to my 
heart. In all the forms that surround me, I behold the re 
flection of my own being, broken up into countless diversi 
fied shapes, as the morning sun, broken in a thousand dew- 
drops, sparkles towards itself. 

Thy Life, as alone the finite mind can conceive it, is self- 
forming, self-manifesting Will : this Life, clothed to the eye 
of the mortal with manifold sensuous forms, flows forth 
through me, and throughout the immeasurable universe of 
Nature. Here it streams as self-creating and self-forming 
matter through my veins and muscles, and pours its abun 
dance into the tree, the flower, the grass. Creative life 
flows forth in one continuous stream, drop on drop, through 
all forms and into all places Avhere my eye can follow it ; 
and reveals itself to me, in a different shape in each various 
corner of the universe, as the same power by which in secret 
darkness my own frame was formed. There, in free play, it 
leaps and dances as spontaneous motion in the animal, and 
manifests itself in each new form as a new, peculiar, self- 
subsisting world : the same power which, invisibly to me, 
moves and animates my own frame. Everything that lives 
and moves follows this universal impulse, this one principle 
of all motion, which, from one end of the universe to the 
other, guides the harmonious movement; in the animal 
without freedom ; in me, from whom in the visible world the 
motion proceeds although it has not its source in me, with 

But pure and holy, and as near to Thine own nature as 


aught can be to mortal eye, does this Thy Life How forth 
as the bond which unites spirit with spirit, as the breath 
and atmosphere of a rational world, unimaginable and in 
comprehensible, and yet there, clearly visible to the spiritual 
eye. Borne onward in this stream of light, thought floats 
from soul to soul, without pause or variation, and returns 
purer and brighter from each kindred mind. Through this 
mysterious union does each individual perceive, understand, 
and love himself only in another ; every soul developes it 
self only by means of other souls, and there arc no longer in 
dividual men, but only one humanity; no individual thought 
or love or hate, but only thought, love, and hate, in and 
through each other. Through this wondrous influence the 
affinity of spirits in the invisible world permeates even 
their physical nature ; manifests itself in two sexes, which, 
even if that spiritual bond could be torn asunder, would, 
simply as creatures of nature, be compelled to love each 
other ; flows forth in the tenderness of parents and children, 
brothers and sisters, as if the souls were of one blood like 
the bodies, and their minds were branches and blossoms of 
the same stem ; and from these, embraces, in narrower or 
wider circles, the whole sentient w r orld. Even at the root of 
their hate, there lies a secret thirst after love ; and no en 
mity springs up but from friendship denied. 

Through that which to others seems a mere dead mass, 
my eye beholds this eternal life and movement in every 
vein of sensible and spiritual Nature, and sees this life ris 
ing in ever-increasing growth, and ever purifying itself to a 
more spiritual expression. The universe is to me no longer 
that ever-recurring circle, that eternally-repeated play, that 
monster swallowing itself up, only to bring itself forth again 
as it was before ; it has become transfigured before me, and 
now bears the one stamp of spiritual life a constant pro 
gress towards higher perfection in a line that runs out into 
the Infinite. 

The sun rises and sets, the stars sink and reappear, 
the spheres hold their circle-dance ; but they never re 
turn again as they disappeared, and even in the bright 

c b 


fountain of life itself there is life and progress. Every hour 
which they lead on, every morning and every evening, sinks 
with new increase upon the world ; new life and new love 
descend from the spheres like dew-drops from the clouds, 
and encircle nature as the cool night the earth. 

All Death in Nature is Birth, and in Death itself appears 
visibly the exaltation of Life. There is no destructive prin 
ciple in Nature, for Nature throughout is pure, unclouded 
Life ; it_is not Death which kills, but the more living Life,, 
which, concealed behind the former, bursts forth into new 
development. Death and Birth are but the struggle of Life 
with itself to assume a more glorious and congenial form. 
And my death, how can it be aught else, since I am not a 
mere show and semblance of life, but bear within me the 
one original, true, and essential Life ? It is impossible to 
conceive that Nature should annihilate a life which does not 
proceed from her; the Nature which exists for me, and 
not I for her. 

Yet even my natural life, even this mere outward mani 
festation to mortal sight of the inward invisible Life, she 
cannot destroy without destroying herself; she who only 
exists for me, and on account of me, and exists not if I am 
not. Even because she destroys me must she animate 
me anew; it is only my Higher Life, unfolding itself in her, 
before which my present life can disappear ; and what mor 
tals call Death is the visible appearance of this second Life. 
Did no reasonable being who had once beheld the light of 
this world die, there would be no ground to look with faith 
for_a new heaven^ and a new earthj the only possible pur 
pose of Nature, to manifest and maintain Reason, would be 
fulfilled here below, and her circle would be completed. 
But the very act by which she consigns a free and indepen 
dent being to death, is her own solemn entrance, intelligible 
to all Reason, into a region beyond this act itself, and be 
yond the whole sphere of existence which is thereby closed. 
Death is tHe ladder by which my spiritual vision rises to a 
new Life and a new Nature. 

Every one of my fellow-creatures who leaves this earthly 


brotherhood, and whom my spirit cannot regard as anni 
hilated because he is my brother, draws my thoughts af 
ter him beyond the grave ; he is still, and to him belongs 
a place. While we mourn for him here below, as in the 
dim realms of unconsciousness there might be mournin- 

o o 

when a man bursts from them into the light of this world s 
sun, above there is rejoicing that a man is born into that 
world, as we citizens of the earth receive with joy those who 
are born unto us. When I shall one day follow, it will be 
but joy for me ; sorrow shall remain behind in the sphere 
I shall have left. 

The world on which but now I gazed with wonder passes 
away from before me and sinks from my sight. With all 
the fulness of life, order, and increase which I beheld in it, 
it is yet but the curtain by which a world infinitely more 
perfect is concealed from me, and the germ from which that 
other shall develope itself. My FAITH looks behind this 
veil, and cherishes and animates this germ. It sees no 
thing definite, but it expects more than it can conceive here 
below, more than it will ever be able to conceive in all 

Thus do I live, thus am I, and thus am I unchangeable, 
firm, and completed for all Eternity ; for this is no exist 
ence assumed from without, it is my own, true, esseritiaF 
Life and Being. 








Life is Love; and hence Life and Blessedness are in themselves one and 
the same. Distinction of the True Life from mere Apparent Life. Life 
and Being- arc also one and the same. The True Being is for ever at 
one with itself and unchangeable; the Apparent, on the contrary, is 
changeable and transitory. The True Life loves this One Being, or 
God; the Apparent loves the Transitory, or the World. This Apparent 
Life itself exists, and is maintained in Existence, only by aspiration to 
wards the Eternal ; this aspiration can never be satisfied in the mere 
Apparent Life, and hence this Life is Unblessed ; the Love of the True 
Life, on the contrary, is continually satisfied, and hence this Life is 
Blessed. The element of the True Life is Thought. 


The present subject is at bottom Metaphysic, and more especially Onto 
logy; and this is to be here set forth in a popular way. Refutation 
of the objections of the impossibility and unadvisablenuss of such an 
exposition, by the necessity there is for attempting it, by investigation 
of the peculiar nature of the popular discourse in opposition to the scien 
tific, and by the practical proof that since the introduction of Chris 
tianity this undertaking has at all times been actually accomplished. 
Great hindrances which exist in our own day to the communication of 
such Knowledge, partly because its strictly determinate/orm is opposed 
both to the propensity towards arbitrary opinion and to the mere want of 
opinion which calls itself scepticism; partly because its substance seems 
strange and monstrously paradoxical : and finally, because unprejudiced 
persons are led astray by the objections urged by perverse fanaticism. 
Genetic exposition of this species of fanaticism. The accusation of Mysti 
c-ism which may be expected from these fanatics against our doctrine 
noticed. The true object of this and similar accusations. 



Solution of the problem how since Life must be an organic whole a part 
of this necessary Life may yet be wanting in Actual Life, as is the case, 
according to what we have held above, in the Apparent Life, by the 
remark that the Spiritual Life developes itself in Reality only gradually 
and, as it were, by stages ; illustrated by the striking example that the 
great masses of mankind refer the thought of outward objects to sensible 
perception of such objects, and know no better than that all our Know 
ledge is founded on experience. What, in opposition to this thought of 
outward objects, which after all is not founded on perception, is true 
and proper Thought; and how this is distinguished in its Form from mere 
Opinion, with which, in reference to its sphere of activity, it coincides. 

Actual realization of this Thought in the highest elements of Knowledge, 
from which we have these results : Being, in itself, (Seyn) neither has 
arisen, nor has anything in it arisen, but it is absolutely One and Simple 
in its Essence ; from it we have to distinguish its Ex-istence (Daseyn) 
which is necessarily Consciousness of Being; which Consciousness, being 
also necessarily Self-consciousness, cannot, either in its essence or in the 
special determinations of its actual existence, be genetically deduced 
from Being (Seyn) itself; although it may be understood generally that 
this its actual determinate Ex-istence is essentially one with the essen 
tial Nature of Being. 


Exposition of what is essential to the Blessed Life, and what is only condi 
tionally necessary. The answer to the question : " How, since Being 
(Seyn) ex-ists as it is in itself, namely as One, yet in this its Ex-istence 
(Daseyn,) or Consciousness, Multiplicity may nevertheless find place]" 
only conditionally necessary. Answer to the question. The " as," 
or characterization by means of opposition, which arises from the dis 
tinction that takes place in Ex-istence, is an absolute opposition and 
the principle of all other division. This " as," or act of characterization, 
presupposes an abiding Being that is characterized, whereby that which 
in itself is the inward Divine Life is changed into a determinate World. 
This World is characterized or formed by means of this "as," Reflexion 
which is absolutely free and independent, without any end or limit 
to the process. 


Principle of a new division in Knowledge, not proceeding immediately on 
the Object, but only on the Reflexion of the Object, and hence giving 
only different views of the One abiding World ; which latter division 
is nevertheless intimately connected with the first, and interpenetrated 
by it. This division, and hence the diverse views of the World which 
result from it, are five-fold. The first and lowest, being that of the 


prevalent Philosophy, in which reality is attributed to the World of 
Sense, or Nature. The second, in which reality is placed in a Law of 
Order in the Existing World addressed to Freedom ; the stand-point 
of Objective Legality, or of the Categorical Imperative. The third, 
which places reality in a new Creative Law addressed to Freedom, pro 
ducing a New World within the Existing World; the stand-point of the 
Higher Morality. The fourth, which places reality in God alone and in 
his Existence; the stand-point of Religion. The fifth, which clearly dis 
cerns the Manifold in its outgoings from the One Reality ; the stand 
point of Science. The True Religious Life, however, is not possible as a 
mere view, but exists only in union with an Actual Divine Life, and 
without this union the mere view is empty Fanaticism. 


Proof of our previous assertion, that this Doctrine is likewise the Doctrine 
of pure Christianity, as contained in the writings of the Apostle John. 
Reasons why we especially appeal to this Evangelist. Our hermeneuti- 
cal principle. In John we have to distinguish that which is true, ab 
solutely and in itself, from that which is true only from his temporary 
point of view. The first is contained in the Introduction to his Gospel, 
up to verse 5. Estimate of this Introduction, not as the unauthoritative 
opinion of the Evangelist, but as the immediate doctrine of Jesus. Ex 
position of it. The view that possesses a mere temporary validity is the, 
not metaphysical but merely historical, proposition that the Divine Ex 
istence, in its original purity and without any individual limitation, 
has manifested itself in Jesus of Nazareth. Explanation of the difference 
of these two views, and of their union, likewise and expressly according 
to the Christian Doctrine. Estimate of this historical dogma, Compre 
hension of the substance of the whole Gospel from this point of view, 
in an answer to the questions : What does Jesus teach respecting him 
self and his relation to God? and what respecting his followers and 
their relation to him. 


Farther explanation of the distinction drawn in the preceding lecture be 
tween the Historical and Metaphysical, in relation to the fundamental 
dogma of Christianity. 


More thorough delineation of the mere Apparent Life from its fundamental 
principle. A complete exposition of all the possible modes of man s 
Enjoyment of himself and of the World is requisite for the demonstra 
tion of the Blessedness of the Religious Life. Of these there are five, 
the five modes of viewing the World, already enumerated, being also so 
many modes of its Enjoyment; -of which, in consequence of the exclu- 



sion of the Scientific stand point, four only come under consideration 
here. Enjoyment in any form, as the satisfaction of Love, is founded on 
Love; Love, however, is the Affection of Being. Sensual Enjoyment, 
and the Affections which are produced by means of fancy, in the first 
stand-point. The Affection of Reality in the second stand-point, 
viz. Law, is a commandment, from which proceeds a judgment, in it 
self disinterested, but which, being associated with the interest of man 
in his own personality, is changed into the mere negation of Self-con 
tempt. This mode of thought destroys all Love in man, but even on 
that account it exalts him above all want. Stoicism, as mere Apathy, 
in relation to Happiness and Blessedness. 


More profound exposition of our Doctrine of Being. Everything that arises 
from mere Ex-istence, as such, comprehended under the name of Form. 
In Eeality, Being is absolutely inseparable from Form, and the Exis 
tence of the latter is itself founded in the inward necessity of the Divine 
Nature. Application of this principle to the first portion of Form, 
Infinity. Application of it to the second portion of Form, the five-fold 
division previously set forth. This gives a free and independent Ego 
as the organic central-point of all Form. Exposition of the nature of 
Freedom. Affection of the Ego for its personal independence, which 
necessarily disappears as soon as the individual stand-points of mere 
possible Freedom are destroyed by perfect Freedom ; and thus again 
the presence or absence of this Love of Self gives us two completely op 
posite modes of viewing and enjoying the World. From the former arises, 
in the first place, the impulse towards Sensual Enjoyment, as the Love of 
a Self, determined in a particular way by means of outward objects ; and, 
in the second place, the stand-point of Legality, the Love of mere 
formal Freedom after the renunciation of the Love of objective self-deter 
mination. Characterization of the Love from which a Categorical Im 
perative arises. Through the annihilation of that Love of Self the Will 
of the Ego is brought into harmony with the Will of God ; and there 
arises therefrom, in the ^first place, the stand-point, previously de 
scribed as the third, of the Higher Morality. Relation of this mode of 
thought to outward circumstances, particularly in contrast with the 
superstition of sensual desire. 


The New World which the Higher Morality creates within the World of 
Sense is the immediate Life of God himself in Time ; it can only be 
felt in immediate consciousness, and can only be characterized in general 
by the distinctive mark that each of its Forms is a source of pleasure 
solely on its own account, and not as a means towards any other end. 
Illustrations by the examples of Beauty, of Science, &c., and by the pheno 
mena presented by a natural Genius for these. This Life nevertheless 


strives after an outward result; and so long as the desire for this result 
is still mixed up with the joy arising from the deed itself, even the 
Higher Morality is not exempt from the possibility of pain. Separation 
of these by the stand-point of Religion. Foundation of Individuality. 
Each Individual has his own special portion in the Divine Life. The 
first fundamental Law of Morality and of the Blessed Life -.that each 
should devote himself wholly to this portion. General external charac 
terization of the Moral-Religious Will, in so far as this comes forth from 
its inward Life into outward Manifestation. 


Comprehensive view of the whole subject from its deepest stand-point. 
Being, which is projected forth from itself in the form of the indepen 
dent Ego as the necessary Form of Reflexion, is, beyond all Reflexion, 
united with Form by Love alone. This Love is the creator of the 
abstract conception of God ; is the source of all certainty ; is that 
which, in Life, embraces the Absolute, immediately and without modifi 
cation, by means of Conception ; is that by which Reflexion, which in 
its Form contains only the possibility of Infinity, is extended into an 
Actual Infinity ; finally, is the source of Science. In living and actual 
Reflexion this Love manifests itself immediately in the phenomena of 
Moral Action. Characterization of the Philanthropy of the Moral-Reli 
gious Man. Delineation of his Blessedness. 


General application of the subject. Hindrances to a thorough communica 
tion between the speaker and hearer: the want of thorough openness of 
mind ; so-called Scepticism ; the surrounding influences of the Age. 
Deeper characterization of these influences by the principle of the 
mutual acceptation of all men as miserable sinners (Modern Humanity.) 
How the good and upright man may rise superior to these influences, 




THE Lectures which I now commence have been announced 
under the title of " The Way towards the Blessed Life." 
Following the common and customary view, which no one 
can rectify unless he first accommodate himself to it, I could 
not avoid thus expressing myself; although, according to 
the true view of the matter, the expression " Blessed Life " 
has in it something superfluous. To wit : Life is necessari 
ly blessed, for it is Blessedness ; the thought of an zmblessed 
life, on the other hand, carries with it a contradiction. 
Death alone is unblessed. Thus, had I expressed myself 
with strict precision, I should have named my proposed lec 
tures " The Way towards Life, or the Doctrine of Life "or, 
viewing the idea on the other side, "The Way towards 
Blessedness, or the Doctrine of Blessedness." That, never 
theless, not nearly all that seems to live is blessed, arises 
from this that what is unblessed does not really and truly 
live, but, for the most part, is sunk in Death arid Nothing 

Life is itself Blessedness, I said. It cannot be otherwise ; 
for Life is Love, and whole form and power of Life consist 
in Love and spring from Love. In this I have given utter 
ance to one of the most profound axioms of knowledge ; 
which nevertheless, in my opinion, may at once be made 
clear and evident to every one, by means of really earnest 


and sustained attention. Love divides that which in itself 
is dead, as it were into a two-fold being, holding it up 
before its own contemplation ; creating thereby an Ego 
or Self, which beholds and is cognizant of itself; and in this 
personality lies the root of all Life. Love again reunites 
and intimately binds together this divided personality, 
which, without Love, would regard itself coldly and without 
interest. This latter unity, with a duality which is not 
thereby destroyed but eternally remains subsistent, is Life 
itself; as every one who strictly considers these ideas and 
combines them together must at once distinctly perceive. 
Further, Love is satisfaction with itself, joy in itself, enjoy 
ment of itself, and therefore Blessedness ; and thus it is 
clear that Life, Love, and Blessedness, are absolutely one and 
the same. 

I said further, that not everything which seems to be 
living does really and truly live. It follows that, in my 
opinion, Life may be regarded from a double point of view, 
and shall be so regarded by me ; that is, partly as regards 
Truth, and partly as regards Appearance. Now it is clear, 
before all things, that this latter merely Apparent Life could 
never even have become apparent, but must have remained 
wholly and entirely non-existent, had it not been, in some 
way or other, supported and maintained by the True Life 
and, since nothing has a real existence but Life, had not the 
True Life, in some way or other, entered into the Apparent 
Life and been commingled with it. There can be no real 
Death, and no real Unblessedness ; for, were we to admit 
this, we should thereby attribute to them an existence, 
while it is only the True Being and Life that can have exis 
tence. Hence, all incomplete existence is but an admix 
ture of the dead with the living. Tn what way this ad 
mixture generally takes place, and what, even in the lowest 
grades of life, is the indestructible representative of the 
True Life, we shall betimes declare. It is further to be 
remarked, that Love is at all times the seat and central- 
point even of this merely Apparent Life. Understand me 
thus : the Apparent can shape itself into manifold, infinitely 


varied forms; as we shall soon perceive more clearly. These 
various forms of the Apparent Life, have all a common life, 
if we use the language of Appearance ; or, they all appear 
to have a common life, if we use the language of Truth. 
.But if again the question should arise : By what is this 
common life distinguished in its various forms ; and what is 
it that gives to each individual the peculiar character of his 
particular life ? I answer : It is the love of this particular 
and individual life. Show me what thou truly lovest, what 
tliou seekest and strivest for with thy whole heart Avhen 
thou wouldst attain to true enjoyment of thyself, and thou 
hast thereby shown me thy Life. What thou lovest, in that 
thou livest. This very Love is thy Life, the root, the seat, 
the central-point of thy being. All other emotions within 
theo have life only in so far as they tend towards this one 
central point. That to many men it may be no easy matter 
to answer such a question, since they do not even know 
what they love, proves only that they do not in reality love 
anything; and, just on that account, do not live because 
they do not love. 

So much, in general, as to the identity of Life, Love, and 
Blessedness. Now for the strict discrimination of the True 
Life from the mere Apparent Life. 

Being, I say again, Being and Life are, once more, 
one and the same. Life alone can possess independent ex 
istence, of itself and through itself; and, on the other hand, 
Life, so surely as it is Life, bears with it such an existence. 
It is usual for men to conceive of Absolute Being as some 
thing fixed, rigid and dead ; philosophers themselves, almost 
without exception, have so conceived of it, even while they 
declared it to be Absolute. This arises only from the thinker 
himself bringing to the contemplation of Being, not a living, 
but a mere dead conception. Not in Being, as it is in and 
for itself, is there Death ; but only in the deadly gaze of the 
dead beholder. That in this error is to be found the origi 
nal source of all other errors, and that through it the world 
of truth and the whole spiritual universe is for ever closed 
to man, we have proved in another place, at least to those 


who were capable of accepting the proof; here, the mere 
historical statement of the principle must be sufficient. 

On the other hand, as Being and Life are one and the 
same, so are Death and Nothingness one and the same. But 
there is no real Death and no real Nothingness, as we have 
already said. There is, however, an Apparent Life, and 
this is the mixture of life and death, of being and nothing- 

f O O 

ness. Hence it follows, that the Apparent, so far as regards 
that in it which makes it mere Appearance and which is 
opposed to the True Being and Life, is mere Death and 

Further : Being is throughout simple, not manifold ; 
there are not many beings, but only One Being. This prin 
ciple, like the former, contains an idea which is generally 
misunderstood, or even wholly unknown, but of the evident 
truth of which any one may convince himself, if he will 
only give his earnest attention to the subject for a single 
moment. We have here neither time nor intention to un 
dertake, with our present audience, those preparatory and 
initiative steps which the mass of men require in order to 
render them capable of such earnest reflection. 

We shall here bring forward and employ only the results 
of those premises ; and these results will recommend them 
selves to your natural sense of truth without need of argu 
ment. With regard to the profounder premises, we must 
content ourselves with stating them clearly and distinctly, 
and so securing them against all misconception. Thus, with 
reference to the principle we have last adduced, our mean 
ing is the following ; Being alone is ; nothing else is ; not, 
in particular, a something which is not Being, but which lies 
outside of all Being ; an assumption, this latter, which, to 
every one who understands our words, must appear a mani 
fest absurdity, but which, nevertheless, lies, dim and unre 
cognised, at the bottom of the common notion of Being. 
According to this common notion, something which in and 
through itself neither is nor can be, receives from without 
a superadded existence, which thus is an existence of no 
thing; and from the union of these two absurdities, all 


truth and reality arise. This common notion is contradicted 
by the principle we have laid down : Being alone w, i. e. 
that only which is by and through itself is. We say fur 
ther : This Being is simple, homogeneous, and immutable ; 
there is in it neither beginning nor ending, no variation or 
change of form, but it is always and for ever the same, unal 
terable, and continuing Being. 

The truth of this proposition may be briefly shown thus : 
Whatever is, in and through itself, that indeed is, and is 
perfect: once for all existing, without interruption, and 
without the possibility of addition. 

And thus we have opened the way towards an insight in 
to the characteristic distinction between the True Life, 
which is one with Being, and the mere Apparent Life, 
which, in so far as it is mere appearance, is one with No 
thingness. Being is simple, unchangeable, ever the same ; 
therefore is also the True Life simple, unchangeable, ever the 
same. Appearance is a ceaseless change, a continual float 
ing between birth and decay; therefore is also the mere 
Apparent Life a ceaseless change, ever floating between 
birth and decay, hurried along through never-ending alter 
nations. The central-point of all Life is Love. The True 
Life loves the One, Unchangeable, and Eternal ; the mere 
Apparent Life attempts to love the Transitory and Perish 
able, were that capable of being loved, or could such love 
uphold itself in being. 

That object of the Love of the True Life is what we mean 
by the name God, or at least ought to mean by that name ; 
the object of the Love of the mere Apparent Life the tran 
sitory and perishable is that which we recognise as the 
World, and which we so name. The True Life thus lives in 
God, and loves God ; the mere Apparent Life lives in the 
World, and attempts to love the World. It matters not on 
what particular side it approaches the world and compre 
hends it; that which the common view terms moral de 
pravity, sin, crime, and the like, may indeed be more hurt 
ful and destructive to human society than many other things 
which this common view permits or even considers to be 



praiseworthy ; but, before the eye of Truth, all Life which 
fixes its love on the Temporary and Accidental, and seeks 
its enjoyment in any object other than the Eternal and Un 
changeable, for that very reason, and merely on account of 
thus seeking its enjoyment in something else, is in like 
manner vain, miserable, and unblessed. 

The True Life lives in the Unchangeable ; it is thus cap 
able neither of abatement nor of increase, just as little as 
the Unchangeable itself, in which it lives, is capable of such 
abatement or increase. In each moment of Time it is per 
fect, the highest possible Life; and throughout Eternity 
it necessarily remains what it is in each moment of Time. 
The Apparent Life lives only in the Transitory and Perish 
able, and therefore never remains the same in any two suc 
cessive moments; each succeeding moment consumes and 
obliterates the preceding; and thus the Apparent Life 
becomes a continuous Death, and lives only in dying and in 

We have said that the True Life is in itself blessed, the 
Apparent Life necessarily miserable and unblessed. The 
possibility of all pleasure, joy, blessedness, or by whatever 
word we may express the general consciousness of Well- 
being, is founded upon love, effort, impulse. To be united 
with the beloved object, and molten into its very essence, is 
Blessedness ; to be divided from it, cast out from it, while 
yet we cannot cease to turn towards it with longing aspira 
tion, is Unblessedness. 

The following is the relation of the Apparent, or of the 
Actual and Finite, to the Absolute Being, or to the Infinite 
and Eternal. That which we have already indicated as the 
element which must support and maintain the Apparent, 
and without which it could not attain even the semblance 
of Existence, and which we promised soon to characterize 
more distinctly, is the aspiration towards the Eternal. This 
impulse to be united with the Imperishable and transfused 
therein, is the primitive root of all Finite Existence ; and in 
no branch of this existence can that impulse be wholly de 
stroyed, unless that branch were to sink into utter nothingr 


ness. Beyond this aspiration upon svhich all Finite Exis 
tence rests, and by means of it, this existence either at 
tains the True Life, or does not attain it. Where it does 
attain it, this secret aspiration becomes distinct and intel 
ligible as Love of the Eternal : we learn what it is that 
we desire, love, and need. This want may be satisfied con 
stantly and under every condition : the Eternal surrounds 
us at all times, offers itself incessantly to our regards ; we 
have nothing more to do than to lay hold of it. But, once 
attained, it can never again be lost. He who lives the True 
Life has attained it, and now possesses it evermore, whole, 
undivided, in all its fullness, in every moment of his exis 
tence ; and is therefore blessed in this union with the object 
of his Love, penetrated with a firm, immovable conviction 
that he shall thus enjoy it throughout Eternity, and thereby 
secured against all doubt, anxiety, or fear. Where the True 
Life is not attained, that aspiration is not felt the less, but 
it is not understood. Happy, contented, satisfied with their 
condition, all men would willingly be; but wherein they 
shall find this happiness they know not; what it is that 
they specially love and strive after, they do not understand. 
In that which comes into immediate contact with their 
senses, and offers itself to their enjoyment, in the World, 
they think it must be found ; because to that spiritual con 
dition in which they now find themselves there is really 
nothing else existing for them but the World. Ardently 
they betake themselves to this chase after happiness, devot 
ing themselves, with their whole powers and affections, to 
the first best object that pleases them and promises to 
satisfy their desires. But as soon as such an one returns 
into himself, and asks, "Am I now happy?" he is loudly 
answered from the depths of his own soul, " no, thou art 
as empty and needful as before." They now imagine that 
they have been mistaken in their choice of an object, and 
throw themselves eagerly into another. This satisfies them 
as little as the first : there is no object under the sun or 
moon that will satisfy them. Would we that any such ob 
ject should satisfy them ? By no means : that nothing 


finite and perishable can satisfy them, this is precisely the 
one tie that still connects them with the Eternal and pre 
serves them in existence: did they find any one earthly 
object that should fill them with perfect satisfaction, then 
were they thereby irretrievably thrust forth from the God 
head, and cast out into the eternal death of Nothingness. 
And thus do they fret and vex away their life ; in every 
condition thinking that if it were but otherwise with them 
it would be better with them, and then, when it has become 
otherwise, discovering that it is not better; in every position 
believing that if they could but attain yonder height which 
they descry above them, they would be freed from their an 
guish, but finding nevertheless, even on the desired height, 
their ancient sorrow. In riper years, perchance, when the 
fresh enthusiasm and glad hopefulness of youth have van 
ished, they take counsel with themselves, review their whole 
previous life, and attempt to draw therefrom some conclu 
sive doctrine ; attempt, it may be, to convince themselves 
that no earthly good whatever can give them satisfaction : 
And what do they now 1 They determine perhaps to re 
nounce all faith in happiness and peace ; blunting or dead 
ening, as far as possible, their still inextinguishable aspira 
tions ; and then they call this insensibility the only true 
wisdom, this despair of all salvation the only true salvation, 
and their pretended knowledge that man is not destined to 
happiness, but only to this vain striving with nothing and 
for nothing, the true understanding. Perchance they re 
nounce only their hope of satisfaction in this earthly life ; 
but please themselves with a certain promise, handed down 
to them by tradition, of a Blessedness beyond the grave. 
Into what a mournful delusion do they now fall ! Full 
surely, indeed, there lies a Blessedness beyond the grave for 
those who have already entered upon it here, and in no 
other form or way than that by which they can already 
enter upon it here, in this present moment ; but by mere 
burial man cannot arrive at Blessedness, and in the future 
life, and throughout the whole infinite range of all future 
life, they would seek for happiness as vainly as they have 


already sought it here, if they were to seek it in aught else 
than in that which already surrounds them so closely here 
below that throughout Eternity it can never be brought 
nearer to them, in the Infinite. And thus does the poor 
child of Eternity, cast forth from his native home, and sur 
rounded on all sides by his heavenly inheritance which yet 
his trembling hand fears to grasp, wander, with fugitive and 
uncertain step throughout the waste, everywhere labouring 
to establish for himself a dwelling-place, but happily ever 
reminded, by the speedy downfall of each of his successive 
habitations, that he can find peace nowhere but in his 
Father s house. 

Thus, my hearers, is the True Life necessarily Blessedness 
itself; and the Apparent Life necessarily Unblessedness. 

And now consider with me the following : I say, the 
element, the atmosphere, the substantial form if this latter 
expression may be better understood the element, the 
atmosphere, the substantial form of the True Life, is 

In the first place, no one surely will be disposed, seriously, 
and in the proper meaning of the words, to ascribe Life and 
Blessedness to anything which is not conscious of itself. All 
Life thus presupposes self-consciousness, and it is self-con 
sciousness alone which is able to lay hold of Life and make 
it an object of enjoyment. 

Thus then : The True Life and its Blessedness consists 
in a union with the Unchangeable and Eternal : but the 
Eternal can be apprehended only by Thought, and is in no 
other way approachable by us. The One and Unchangeable 
is apprehended as the foundation of ourselves and of the 
world, and this in a double respect : partly as the cause 
whereby all things have come into existence, and have not 
remained in mere nothingness ; partly that in Him, and in 
His essential nature which in this way only is conceivable 

to us, but in all other ways, remains wholly inconceivable 

is contained the cause why all things exist as they are, and 
in no other way. And thus the True Life and its Blessed 
ness consists in Thought ; that is, in a certain definite view 


of ourselves and the world as proceeding from the essential, 
self-contained Divine Nature : and therefore a Doctrine of 
Blessedness can be nothing else than a Doctrine of Know 
ledge, since there is abso]utely no other doctrine but a Doc 
trine of Knowledge. In the mind, in the self-supporting 
life of Thought, Life itself subsists, for beyond the mind 
there is no true Existence. To live truly, means to think 
truly, and to discern the truth. 

Thus it is : let no one be deceived by the invectives 
which, in these later godless and soulless times, are poured 
forth on what is termed speculation. It is a striking charac 
teristic of these invectives that they proceed from those 
only who know nothing of speculation ; no one who does 
know it has inveighed against it. It is only to the highest 
flight of thought that the Godhead is revealed, and it is to 
be apprehended by no other sense whatever ; to seek to 
make men suspicious of this mental effort, is to wish to cut 
them off for ever from God and from the enjoyment of 

Wherein should Life and the Blessedness of Life have 
their element if they had it not in Thought ? Perhaps in 
certain sensations and feelings, with reference to which it 
matters not to us whether they minister to the grossest sen 
sual enjoyments or the most refined spiritual raptures ? 
How could a mere feeling, which by its very nature is de 
pendent on circumstance, secure for itself an eternal and 
unchangeable duration ? and how could we, amid the ob 
scurity which, for the same reason, necessarily accompanies 
mere feeling, inwardly perceive and enjoy such an un 
changeable continuance ? No : it is only the light of pure 
Knowledge, thoroughly transparent to itself, and in free pos 
session of all that it contains, which, by means of this clear 
ness, can guarantee its unalterable endurance. 

Or, shall the Blessed Life consist in virtuous action and 
behaviour ? What the profane call virtue, i. e. that a man 
pursue his calling or occupation in a legitimate way, give 
other men their due, and perhaps bestow something on the 
poor : this virtue will, hereafter as hitherto, be exacted by 


law, and prompted by natural sympathy. But no one can 
rise to True Virtue, to god-like action, creating the True and 
the Good in this world, who does not lovingly embrace the 
Godhead in clear comprehension ; while he who does so 
embrace it will thus act without either formal intention or 
positive reward, and cannot act otherwise. 

We do not here, by any means, promulgate a new doctrine 
regarding the spiritual world, but this is the old doctrine 
which has been taught in all ages. Thus, for example, 
Christianity makes Faith the one indispensable condition of 
True Life and Blessedness, and rejects, as worthless and 
dead, everything without exception that does not spring 
from this Faith. But this Faith is the same thing which 
we have here named Thought : the only true view of our 
selves and of the world in the One Unchangeable Divine 
Being. It is only after this Faith, i. c. this clear and living 
vision, has disappeared from the world that men have 
placed the conditions of the Blessed Life in what is called 
virtue, and thus sought a noble fruit on a wild and unculti 
vated stem. 

To this Life, the general characteristics of which have 
been set forth in this preliminary sketch, I have here pro 
mised to point you the way ; I have pledged myself to show 
you the means by which this Blessed Life may be attained 
and enjoyed. This instruction may be comprised in a single 
remark, this namely : It is not required of man that he 

should create the Eternal, which he could never do ; the 

Eternal is in him, and surrounds him at all times ; he has 
but to forsake the Transitory and Perishable with which the 
True Life can never unite, and thereupon the Eternal, with 
all its Blessedness, will forthwith descend and dwell with 
him. We cannot win Blessedness, but we may cast away 
our wretchedness; and thereupon Blessedness will forthwith 
of itself supply the vacant place. Blessedness, as we have 
seen, is unwavering repose in the One Eternal j wretched 
ness is vagrancy amid the Manifold and Transitory; and 
therefore the condition of becoming blessed is the return of 
our love from the Many to the One. 


That which is vagrant amid the Manifold and Transitory 
is dissolved, poured forth, and spread abroad like water ; 
notwithstanding its desire to love this and that and many 
things besides, it really loves nothing ; and just because it 
would be everywhere at home, it is nowhere at home. This 
vagrancy is our peculiar nature, and in it we are born. For 
this reason the return of the mind to the One Eternal, 
which is never produced by the common view of things but 
must be brought about by our own effort, appears as concen 
tration of the mind, and its indwelling in itself; as earnest 
ness, in opposition to the merry game we play amid the 
manifold diversities of life ; and as profound thought/illness, 
in opposition to the light-hearted thoughtlessness which, 
while it has much to comprehend, yet comprehends nothing 
thoroughly. This profound and thoughtful earnestness, this 
strict concentration of the mind, and its indwelling in itself, 
is the one condition under which the Blessed Life can ap 
proach us ; but under this condition it approaches and 
dwells with us surely and infallibly. 

It is certainly true, that, by this withdrawal of our mind 
from the Visible, the objects of our former love fade. from 
our view, and gradually disappear, until we regain them 
clothed with fresh beauty in the aether of the new world 
which rises before us ; and that our whole previous life 
perishes, until we regain it as a slight adjunct to the new 
life which begins within us. But this is the destiny in 
separable from all Finite Existence ; only through death 
does it enter into life. Whatever is mortal must die, no 
thing can deliver it from the power of its own nature ; in 
the Apparent Life it dies continually ; where the True Life 
begins, in that one death it dies for ever, and for all the un 
known series of future deaths which, in its Apparent Life, 
may yet lie before it. 

I have promised to show you the way towards the Blessed 
Life ! But with what applications, and under what images, 
forms, and conceptions, shall such instruction be addressed 
to this age, in these circumstances ? The images and forms 
of the established religion, which say the same things which 


alone we can here say, and which say them besides in the 
same way in which alone we can here say them, because it 
is the most fitting way, these images and forms have been 
first of all emptied of their significance, then openly derid 
ed, and lastly given over to silent and polite contempt. The 
propositions and syllogisms of the philosophers are accused 
of being pernicious to the country and the nation, and sub 
versive of sound sense, and that before a tribunal where 
neither accuser nor judge appears; and this might be en 
dured : but what is worse, every one who desires to believe 
in these propositions and syllogisms is told beforehand that 
he can never understand them ; for this purpose, that he 
may not accept the words in their natural sense, and as they 
stand, but seek behind them for some peculiar and hidden 
meaning; and in this way misconception and confusion 
are sure to arise. 

Or, even were it possible to discover forms and applica 
tions by means of which we might communicate such in 
struction, how should we awaken a desire to receive it, 
here, where it is universally taught, and now with greater 
applause than ever, that despair of all salvation is the only 
possible salvation ; that the faith that mankind are but 
the sport of an arbitrary and capricious God is the only true 
wisdom ; and where he who still believes in God and Truth, 
and in Life and Blessedness therein, is laughed at as an in 
experienced boy who knows nothing of the world ? 

Be this as it may, we have yet courage in store ; and to 
have striven for a praiseworthy end, even if it be in vain, is 
yet worth our labour. I see before me now, and I h opt- 
still to see here, persons who have partaken in the best cul 
ture which our age affords. First of all, women, to whom, 
by the social arrangements of mankind, has been assigned 
the task of caring for the minor external wants, and also for 
the decorations of human life, an employment which, more 
than any other, distracts the mind and draws it away from 
clear and earnest reflection, while, by way of compensation, 
nature has implanted in them warmer aspirations towards 
the Eternal, and a more Defined perception of it. Then I 

F b 


see before me men of business, whose calling drags them, 
every day of their lives, through many and varied details, 
which are, indeed, connected with the Eternal and Un 
changeable, but so that not every one can discover, at the 
first glance, the link that unites them. Lastly, I see before 
me young scholars, in whom the form in which the Eternal 
is destined to pervade their being still labours in the pre 
paration of its future abode. While, with reference to this 
latter class, I may perhaps venture to flatter myself with the 
hope that some of my suggestions may contribute towards 
that preparation, with reference to the two former classes, I 
make far more modest pretensions. I ask them only to 
accept from me what they might doubtless have acquired 
for themselves independent of my help, but which with my 
assistance they may reach with less labour and by a shorter 

While all these are disturbed and divided by the multi 
farious objects to which their thoughts must be applied, the 
Philosopher pursues, in solitary silence and in unbroken 
concentration of mind, his single and undeviating course 
towards the Good, the Beautiful, and the True ; and has for 
his daily labour that to which others can only resort at 
times for rest and refreshment after toil. This fortunate lot 
has fallen among others upon me ; and therefore I now pro 
pose to communicate to you here, so far as I myself possess 
it and understand how to communicate it to you, whatever 
may be so appropriated from my speculative labours, intelli 
gible to the general mind, and conducive to the attainment 
of the Good, the Beautiful, and the Eternal. 




STRICT order and method will, naturally and without "farther 

care on our part, arise throughout the whole subject-matter 
of the discourses which I here propose to address to you, as 
soon as we shall have made good our entrance within its 
boundaries and set our foot firmly on its domain. As yet 
we are still occupied with this last-mentioned business ; arid 
with regard to it, the chief thing we have now to do is to 
acquire a clearer and freer insight into the essential prin 
ciples which were set forth in our last lecture. In our next 
lecture, wo shall go over once again that which we have 
already said ; proceeding however from a different starting- 
point, and employing a different language. 

For to-day I entreat you to enter with me on the follow 
ing preliminary considerations : 

We wish to acquire a clear insight, I said : clearness, 
however, is only to be found in depth ; on the surface there 
never lies aught but obscurity and confusion. He, therefore, 
who invites you to clearer knowledge, must necessarily in 
vite you to descend with him into the depths of thought. 
And thus I will by no means deny, but rather openly declare 
at the outset, that I have already in my previous lecture 
touched upon the deepest foundations and elements of all 


knowledge, beyond which there is no knowledge ; and that 
in my next lecture I propose to set forth these same ele 
ments, or, in the language of the schools, the profoundest 
Metaphysics and Ontology, in a different and indeed in a 
popular way. 

Against such an undertaking as the present two objec 
tions are commonly urged, either that it is impossible to 
treat these subjects in a popular way, or that it is un- 
advisable to do so, the latter objection being sometimes 
made by philosophers who would willingly make a mystery 
of their knowledge ; and I must before all things answer 
these objections, in order that in addition to the difficulties 
of the subject itself I may not besides have to combat an 
aversion to it on your part. 

In the first place, as regards the possibility : I indeed do 
not know whether any philosopher whatever, or in particu 
lar myself, has ever succeeded or ever shall succeed in ele 
vating, by way of popular instruction, those who either will 
not or cannot study philosophy systematically, to the com 
prehension of its fundamental truths. But, on the other 
hand, I do know, and perceive with absolute certainty, the 
the two following truths : First, that if any man do not 
attain to insight into these elements of all knowledge, the 
artistic and systematic development of which alone, but not 
their substance, has become the exclusive property of Scien 
tific Philosophy, if any man, I say, do not attain to insight 
into these elements of all knowledge, then such a man can 
likewise never attain to Thought, and to a true inward in 
dependence of spirit, but remains enthralled within the 
limits of mere Opinion, and, during his whole life, is never 
a proper individual mind, but only an appendix to other 
minds ; he wants an organ of the spiritual sense, and that 
the noblest of them all : that, therefore, the assertion, that 
it is neither possible nor advisable to elevate those who can 
not study philosophy systematically to an insight into the 
nature of the spiritual world by some other means, is just 
equivalent to this, that it is impossible that any one who 
has not studied in the schools should ever attain to true 


Thought and spiritual independence, the school alone, and 
nothing but the school, being the sole progenitor and nurs 
ing mother of mind ; or that, even were it possible, it would 
not be advisable ever to give spiritual freedom to the un 
learned, but that these should always remain under the 
guardianship of pretended philosophers, a mere appanage to 
their sovereign understanding. For the rest, the distinction 
which we have here touched upon between true Thought 
and mere Opinion will become perfectly clear and distinct 
at the beginning of our next lecture. 

Secondly, I know and perceive, with like certainty, the 
following : that it is only by means of Thought, proper, 
pure, and true thought, and absolutely by no other organ, 
that man can approach the Godhead and the Blessed Life 
which proceeds from the Godhead, and can bring them 
home to himself; that therefore the assertion that it is 
impossible to communicate profound truth in a popular way 
is equivalent to this, that only through a systematic study 
of philosophy is it possible for man to elevate himself to 
Religion and its blessings, and that every one who is not a 
philosopher must remain for ever shut out from God and his 
kingdom. In this argument everything depends upon the 
principle that the True God and the True Religion are to 
be approached and comprehended only by pure Thought ; 
and we must often dwell upon this principle and endeavour 
to make it evident on all sides. Religion does not consist 
in that wherein it is placed by the common mode of 
thought, namely in this, that man should believe, be of 
opinion, and rest satisfied, because no one has the hardihood 
to assert the opposite, his belief resting wholly on hearsay 
and outward assurance, that there is a GOD : this is a 
vulgar superstition by which, at most, a defective police 
system may be remedied, while the inward nature of man 
remains as bad as before, and indeed frequently is made 
worse, since he forms this God after his own image, and in 
him only manufactures a new prop for his own corruption. 
But herein Religion does consist, that man in his own per 
son and not in that of another, with his own spiritual eye 



and not through that of another, should immediately behold, 
have, and possess God. This, however, is possible only by 
means of pure, independent Thought, for only through this 
does man assume true and real personality, and this alone is 
the eye to which God can become visible. Pure Thought is 
itself the Divine Existence; and, on the other hand, the 
Divine Existence, in its immediate essence, is nothing else 

* f O 

than pure Thought. 

Besides, to look at this matter historically, the assumption 
that absolutely all men without exception may come to the 
knowledge of God, as well as the effort to raise them all to 
this knowledge, is the assumption and the effort of Chris 
tianity ; and, since Christianity is the developing principle 
and peculiar characteristic of modern time, this assumption 
and this effort form the peculiar spirit of the Age of the 
New Testament. Now the two expressions, to elevate all 
men without exception to the knowledge of God, and, to 
communicate to mankind at large the deepest elements and 
foundations of knowledge in another way than that of sys 
tematic instruction,. mean strictly and entirely one and the 
same thing. It is clear, therefore, that every one who does 
not wish to return to the ancient times of Heathendom 
must admit not only the possibility, but the irremissible 
duty, of communicating to men the profoundest principles 
of knowledge in a generally comprehensible form. 

But, to close this argument for the possibility of a popu 
lar exposition of the profoundest truth with the most deci 
sive proof, that of facts : Has then this knowledge, which 
we have undertaken, by means of these lectures, to unfold 
in those who as yet have it not, and to strengthen and 
purify in those who already possess it, has it never until our 
time been present in the world, and do we pretend now to 
introduce something wholly new and hitherto nowhere dis 
coverable ? We would not wish to think that this latter 
had even been said of us; but, on the contrary, we maintain 
that this knowledge, in all its clearness and purity, which we 
can by no means surpass, and in every age from the origin of 
Christianity downwards, although for the most part unre- 


cognised, and even persecuted by the dominant church, has 
yet, here and there, secretly ruled the minds of men and 
disseminated itself abroad. On the other hand, we do not 
hesitate to declare that the method of regular, systematic, 
and scientific investigation, by which we for our part have at 
tained to this knowledge, has in former times, not indeed in 
respect of trial, but certainly in respect of success, been un 
known in the world ; and that, under the guidance of the 
spirit of our great forefathers, it has been for the most part 
our own work. If, then, this scientific, philosophical insight 
was before awanting, in what way did Christ, or since, in 
his case, some will assume for it a miraculous, supernatural 
origin, which I will not here dispute, in what way did 
Christ s Apostles, in what way did all those who, from their 
time down to our own, have possessed this knowledge, in 
what way did they actually acquire it ! Among the former, 
as among the latter, there were many very unlearned per 
sons, wholly ignorant of philosophy or even opposed to it ; 
the few among them who meddled with philosophy at all, 
and with whose philosophy we are acquainted, so philoso 
phized that it is easy for the educated man to perceive that 
it was not to their philosophy that they owed their insight. 
But to say, that they did not obtain that insight by way of 
philosophy, is just to say, that they did obtain it in a popu 
lar way. Why then should that which has been possible 
heretofore, in an unbroken sequence for nearly two thousand 
years, be now impossible ? Why should that which was pos 
sible with very imperfect aids, at a period when general 
enlightenment was nowhere to be found in the world, be no 
longer possible, now when the needful aids have been per 
fected, and, at least in philosophy, the requisite enlighten 
ment exists ? Why should that which was possible when 
religious faith and natural understanding were yet at vari 
ance to a certain extent, become impossible now that thev 
have been reconciled to each other, and, forgetting their 
former disunion, pursue in friendship one and the same end ? 
That which follows most decisively from all these con 
siderations is the duty incumbent upon every man who is 


penetrated by this higher knowledge to exert all his powers 
to communicate that knowledge, wherever possible, to the 
whole brotherhood of humanity ; presenting it to each indi 
vidual in that form in which he is most open to its recep 
tion ; never debating with himself, nor wavering in doubt, 
whether or not it may succeed, but labouring as if it must 
of necessity succeed ; and after each completed effort, rising 
with new and fresh vigour as if nothing had yet been at 
tained ; and, on the other hand, the duty of each indivi 
dual who is not yet in possession of this knowledge, or who 
does not possess it in fitting clearness and freedom and as 
an ever-present possession, to devote himself wholly and un 
reservedly to the instruction thus offered to him, as if it 
were destined for him especially, and belonged to him, and 
must of necessity be understood by him ; not fearfully and 
timidly exclaiming "Ah ! shall I indeed understand it?" or, 
" Do I then understand it rightly ? " Understand it rightly, 
in the sense of perfect comprehension, would be saying 
much; in this sense, these lectures may perhaps be under 
stood fully only by such as could themselves have spoken 
them. But to understand, and that not erroneously, lies 
within the power of every one who, moved by these dis 
courses, is elevated above the common view of the world, 
and inspired with exalted sentiments and resolves. The 
reciprocal obligation to both these duties lies at the founda 
tion of the contract we entered into at the beginning of 
these lectures. I will unweariedly search for new forms, 
applications, and combinations, as if it were impossible to 
make myself fully intelligible to you : do you on the other 
hand, that is, you who seek instruction here for to the 
others I willingly limit myself to counsel do you proceed 
with earnestness and courage to the business, as if you had 
to understand me by half words only ; and in this way I 
believe that we shall agree well together. 

These considerations on the possibility and necessity of a 
generally comprehensible exposition of the deepest elements 
of knowledge acquire a new significance and convincing 
power, when we examine more strictly the peculiar and 


characteristic distinction between the Popular and the 
Scientific discourse ; a distinction which in my opinion is 
virtually unknown, and which, in particular, lies wholly con 
cealed from those who talk so readily of the possibility and 
impossibility of popular expositions. The Scientific dis 
course eliminates truth from among the errors which sur 
round and oppose it on all sides and in every form ; and, by 
demolition of these opposing view as error and as impos 
sible to true thought, shows the truth as that which alone 
remains after their withdrawal, and therefore as the only 
possible truth : and in this separation of opposites, and 
elucidation of the truth from the confused chaos in which 
truth and error lie mingled together, consists the peculiar 
and characteristic nature of the Scientific discourse. By 
this method truth emerges before our eyes out of a world 
full of error. Now it is obvious that the philosopher, before 
such sifting of truth, before he could either project or begin 
it and therefore independent of scientific proof, must al 
ready possess truth. But how could he attain possession of 
it except by the guidance of a natural sense of truth which 
exists in him with higher power than in his contempora 
ries ? and in what other way, then, has he at first attained 
it but by the unartificial popular way ? To this natural sense 
of truth, which is thus seen to be the starting-point even of 
scientific philosophy, the Popular discourse addresses itself 
immediately without calling aught else to its aid, setting 
forth the truth, and nothing but the truth, purely and sim 
ply, as it is in itself and not as it stands opposed to error, 
and calculates upon the spontaneous assent of this natural 
sense of truth. This discourse cannot indeed prove any 
thing ; but it must certainly be understood; for intelligence 
itself is the only organ whereby we can apprehend its im 
port, and without this it cannot reach us at all. The Scien 
tific discourse presupposes in the hearer an entanglement in 
the meshes of error, and addresses itself to a diseased and 
perverted spiritual nature ; the Popular discourse presup 
poses an open and candid mind, and appeals to a healthy, 
although not sufficiently cultivated, spiritual nature. After 

G b 


all this, how can the philosopher entertain a doubt that the 
natural sense of truth in man is sufficient to lead him to 
the knowledge of truth, since he himself has attained to 
that knowledge by this means and no other ? 

But notwithstanding that the comprehension of the deep 
est truths of Reason, by means of a popular exposition, is 
possible, notwithstanding further that this comprehension 
is a necessary purpose of humanity towards the attainment 
of which every power ought to be directed, we must never 
theless acknowledge that there are, in the present age, 
greater hindrances to the accomplishment of this purpose 
than have existed at any previous time. In the first place, 
the very form of this higher truth, this strictly determi 
nate, settled, absolutely unchanging and unchangeable form, 
comes into collision, and that in a two-fold manner, with 
the hesitating modesty which this age has not indeed in 
itself but yet would exact from every one who undertakes 
to deal with it. It is not to be denied that this knowledge 
assumes itself to be true, and alone true, and true only in 
the sharp and complete precision in which it is thus an 
nounced, and everything opposed to it, absolutely and 
without exception or mitigation, to be false; that therefore 
it seeks, without forbearance, to subdue all weak partiali 
ties, all vagrant fancies, and wholly disdains to -enter into any 
treaty or compromise with the other side. The men of these 
days are offended at this severity, as if they were thereby 
grievously ill-treated ; they would be deferentially saluted, 
and consulted as to whether they will lend their sanction to 
such a matter ; would make conditions on their side, and 
there should be some elbow-room left for their tricks of le 
gerdemain. Others are dissatisfied with this form of truth, 
because it requires them at once to take their part for or 
against, and to decide on the instant yes or no. For they 
are in no haste to know for certain about that which never 
theless is alone worth knowing, and would willingly suspend 
their voices, in case it should afterwards turn out to be 
wholly otherwise ; and besides it is very convenient to con 
ceal their want of understanding under the fashionable and 

LECTURE 11. 411 

high-sounding name of Scepticism, and to allow mankind 
to believe that there, where in fact they have been found 
wanting in power to comprehend that which lies clear 
before them, it has been their superior acuteness and pene 
tration which has disclosed to them certain unheard-of, and 
to all other men inaccessible, grounds for doubt. 

Again, there is a hindrance to the successful issue of our 
undertaking in this age, in the monstrously paradoxical, 
strange, and unheard-of appearance of our doctrine, since it 
turns into falsehood precisely those things which the age 
has hitherto prized as the most precious and sacred results 
of its culture and enlightenment. Not as if our doctrine 
were in itself new and paradoxical. Among the Greeks, 
Plato held the same faith. The Johannean Christ said 
precisely the same things which we teach and prove, and 
even said them in the .same language which we here 
employ ; and in these very times, and among our own 
nation, two of our greatest Poets have given expression to 
the same truth in manifold applications and under many 
forms. But the Johannean Christ has been superseded by 
his less spiritual followers ; and Poets, it is thought, desire 
only to utter fine words and to produce musical sounds. 

That this ancient doctrine, which has thus been renewed 
from ago to age down even to these later times, should yet 
seem so wholly new and unheard-of arises in this way. 
After the revival of learning in Modern Europe, and particu 
larly since, by means of the Church Reformation, the evi 
dence of the highest religious truth was freely presented to 
the mind, there gradually arose a philosophy which made 
the experiment whether the books of Nature and of Know 
ledge, which were to it unintelligible, might not assume a 
meaning when read backwards ; whereby indeed everything 
without exception was taken out of its natural position, and 
set head downwards. This philosophy took possession, as 
every prevalent philosophy necessarily does, of all the 
avenues of public instruction, catechisms, schoolbooks, pub 
lic religious discourses, literature. All our youthful culture 
fell within this period. There is thus no wonder that, after 


the unnatural had become to us natural, Nature herself 
should seem to us unnatural ; and that, after we had been 
accustomed to see all things upside-down, we should ima 
gine them to be inverted when we beheld them restored to 
their true position. This indeed is an error which will dis 
appear with the age which produced it ; for we, who explain 
death by life, the body by the soul, and not the reverse as 
these moderns do, we are the true followers of the 
Ancients ; only that we see clearly what remained dark to 
them; while the philosophy which we have alluded to above 
is not even an advance in time, but only a ludicrous inter 
lude, a petty appendix to thorough barbarism. 

Lastly, those who might perchance of themselves over 
come the two hindrances now pointed out, may yet be 
scared back by the hateful and malicious objections urged 
by the fanatics of perversity. It may indeed be wondered 
at that such perversity, not satisfied with being in its own 
person perverse, should besides exhibit a fanatical zeal fo^ 
for the maintenance and diffusion of the same perversity in 
others. Yet even this may be readily explained, and in 
this way. When these fanatics had reached the years of 
reflection and self-knowledge, and had thoroughly examined 
themselves and their own inward being, and found nothing 
there but the impulse towards personal, sensuous, well-being, 
had not felt the slightest desire either to discover within 
themselves, or to acquire from without, anything but what 
they found there, then they have looked around upon their 
fellow-men, observed them, and fancied that neither was 
there anything to be met with in them higher than this same 
impulse towards personal, sensuous, well-being. Hereupon 
they have satisfied themselves that in this consists the es 
sential nature of humanity ; and having cultivated this na 
ture in themselves with unremitting care and to the highest 
possible perfection, they have necessarily become in their 
own eyes the most preeminent and distinguished among 
men, since they were conscious of being virtuosi in those 
things wherein the worth of humanity consists. Thus have 
they thought and acted throughout life. But should it ap- 


pear that they have been mistaken 1 in the major proposition 
of their syllogism, if in others of their species there has 
been manifested something else, and in this case something 
undeniably higher and more divine than the mere impulse 
towards personal, sensuous, well-being, then they who had 
hitherto held themselves to be men of distinguished preemi 
nence would be found to belong to a lower race, and instead 
of as before esteeming themselves higher than all others, 
they would be compelled thenceforward to despise and reject 
themselves. They cannot do otherwise than angrily oppose 
this conviction of a higher nature in man, which brings only 
disgrace to them, and all phenomena which confirm this 
conviction ; they must necessarily do everything in their 
power to keep such phenomena at a distance from them 
selves, and even to suppress them altogether ; they struggle 
for life, for the most delicate and innermost root of their 
life, for the possibility of self-endurance. All fanaticism, 
and all its angry exhibitions, from the beginning of the 
world down to the present day, have proceeded from this 
principle: "If my opponent be right, then am I a miserable 
man." Where this fanaticism can wield fire and sword, with 
fire and sword it assails its detested adversary ; where these 
instruments are beyond its reach, it has still the tongue left, 
which, if it do not kill the foe, is yet frequently able to 
cripple his activity and influence with others. One of the 
most favourite and customary tricks of tongue-fence among 
these fanatics is this : to give to the thing which is hateful 
only to them, a name which is hateful to all men, in order 
thereby to decry it and render it suspected. The existing 
store of such tricks and nicknames is inexhaustible, and is 
constantly enriched by fresh additions ; and it would be in 
vain to attempt here any complete enumeration of them. I 
shall notice only one of the most common of these odious 
nicknames, i. c, the charge that this doctrine which we 
teach is Mysticism. 

Observe, in the first place, with reference to the form of 
this accusation, that should any candid unprejudiced person 
answer : " Well, let us suppose that it is Mysticism, and 


that Mysticism is an erroneous and dangerous thing ; let 
him for that very reason bring forward his doctrine, and we 
will hear him : if it is erroneous and dangerous, this will 
come to light when the opportunity is given ; " these fana 
tics must reply, in accordance with the peremptory decision 
by which they believe they have got rid of us ; " There is 
nothing more to hear ; Mysticism has long ago, for some 
generations back, by the unanimous voice of all our literary 
Councils, been decreed to be heresy and placed under ex 

Further to proceed from the form of this accusation to 
its substance ; What then is this Mysticism which they 
lay to our charge ? We shall not indeed receive a distinct 
answer to this question from them : for as they never pos 
sess a clear idea, but only think about high-sounding 
phrases, so in this case they have no conception answering to 
their words ; we must therefore help ourselves. There is, 
unquestionably, a view of spiritual and sacred things which, 
although correct in the main, is nevertheless afflicted with 
a grievous infirmity, and thereby rendered impure and noxi 
ous. In my lectures of last year,* I took occasion, in pass 
ing, to delineate this view, and I may perhaps find an op 
portunity this season to return to the subject. This view, 
which in part is certainly a much perverted one, is properly 
distinguished from the true religious view by the name of 
Mysticism ; I myself am wont to make this distinction, 
employing the names just mentioned ; and from this Mys 
ticism my doctrine is far removed, and indeed wholly op 
posed to it. Thus, I say, do I regard the matter. But what 
would the fanatics ? The distinction I have mentioned is 
completely concealed from their eyes, as well as from the 
eyes of that philosophy which they follow ; according to 
their unanimous resolutions, their criticisms, their discus 
sions, their favourite works, and all their public manifesta 
tions without exception, which he who can may examine 
for himself, and the others may believe me upon trust, ac- 

* "Characteristics of the Present Ago," Lecture VIII. 

LECTUllE II. 415 

cording to these unanimous resolutions, it is always the True 
Religion, the Knowledge of God in spirit and in truth, which 
they call Mysticism, and against which in fact, under this 
name, they hurl their anathema. Their warnings against this 
doctrine, as Mysticism, therefore mean nothing else than 
what may be thus paraphrased: "Yonder they will tell you 
of the existence of a spiritual world, revealed to no outward 
sense, but to be apprehended only by pure thought: you are 
lost if you allow yourselves to be persuaded of this, for there 
is absolutely no existence but that which we can grasp with 
our hand, and wo have nothing else to care for ; all else are 
mere abstractions from the substantial realities we can 
handle, which in themselves have no substance and which 
these enthusiasts confound with palpable reality. They will 
tell you of the reality, the inward independence, the creative 
power of thought : you are lost to real life if you believe 
them ; for there is nothing really existing but, in the first 
place, the stomach, and then that which supports it and 
supplies it with food ; and it is only the gases that have 
their birth in it which these dreamers call ideas." We ad 
mit the whole accusation, and willingly confess, not without 
joyful and exulting feelings, that, in this sense of the word, 
our doctrine is indeed Mysticism. With these we have 
therefore no new controversy to begin, but find ourselves 
in the old controversy, which has never been solved nor 
reconciled ; i. e. they say that all Religion truly it may 
be said of the vulgar superstition we have alluded to above 
is something in the highest degree objectionable and per 
nicious, and must be extirpated from the earth, root and 
branch ; and so the matter remains with them ; while we 
say that True Religion is something in the highest degree 
blessed, and that which alone gives true existence, worth, 
and dignity to man, here below and throughout eternity ; 
and that every power must be put forth in order that this 
Religion may, wherever it is possible, be made known to 
all men ; this we recognise with absolute certainty, and 
thus the matter remains on our side. 

Meanwhile, that these persons should rather choose to sav 


" That is Mysticism," than, as they ought to say, " That is 
Religion," arises, among other causes which do not belong to 
our present subject, from the following : They desire by 
this language, in the first place, imperceptibly to induce a 
fear that, by means of this our doctrine, there may be intro 
duced intolerance, desire of persecution, insubordination, and 
civil disturbance ; or that, in one word, this doctrine is dan 
gerous to the State : secondly and chiefly, they wish to 
create alarm, in those who may enter upon inquiries like 
the present, as to their continuance in possession of a sound 
mind, and to give them to understand that in this way they 
may come at last to see ghosts in broad daylight which 
would be a very great misfortune indeed. As to the first, 
the danger to the State : they violently appropriate and 
pervert the description of that from which danger may be 
feared, and they doubtless calculate quite securely that no 
one will be found to discover the change ; for neither that 
which they call Mysticism the True Religion nor that 
which we call by that name, has ever been known to perse 
cute, to show intolerance, or to stir up civil commotion ; 
throughout the whole history of Churches, heresies, and per 
secutions, the persecuted party have ever occupied a propor 
tionally higher, and the persecutors a lower position ; the 
latter fighting, as we said above, for life. No ! intolerance, 
desire of persecution, insubordination toward the State, 
belong only to that spirit by which they themselves are ani 
mated, the fanaticism of perversity ; and, if it were other 
wise advisable, I would willingly have the fetters struck off 
this very day from the enslaved, that it might be seen what 
course they would take. As to the second object of solici 
tude, the preservation of a sound mind : this depends in 
the first instance on physical organization ; and against in 
fluences of this kind, even the shallowest inanity, the lowest 
vulgarity of soul, is by no means a safe-guard; hence there 
is no occasion to throw ourselves into the arms of these 
fanatics in order to escape the threatened danger. So far as 
I know, or have known, those who live amid those investi 
gations of which we now speak, and find in them their unin- 


terrupted daily labour, are by no means exposed to these 
distractions, see no ghosts, and are as healthy, in mind and 
body, as others. If, sometimes in life, they do not what 
most other men in their place would have done, or do what 
most other men in the same place would have left undone, 
it is not because they are deficient in acuteness to perceive 
the possibility of the one course of action, or the conse 
quences of the other, as those who, in their place, would 
certainly have done otherwise cannot refrain from thinking, 
but for other reasons. If there must always be diseased 
spiritual natures, who as soon as they quit their housekeep 
ing books, or whatever other morsel of reality gives employ 
ment to their faculties, forthwith fall into the mazes of 
error, let such remain by their housekeeping books ! but 1 
trust that the gene-al rule may not be taken from them, 
who, it is to be hoped, are the smaller number, and are cer 
tainly of the lower species; nor, because there arc feeble 
and diseased creatures among men, the whole human race 
be treated as if they were feeble and diseased. That we 
have interested ourselves in the deaf, dumb, and blind, and 
have invented a way whereby instruction may be communi- 
ted to them, is deserving of all thanks from the deaf and 
dumb, namely, and the blind. But if we were to make this 
method of instruction the universal plan of education for 
persons without these defects, because such persons may en 
counter deaf, dumb, and blind people, and we should thus be 
sure that we had provided for every such contingency ; if 
he who can hear should, without regard to his hearing, be 
made to talk by the same laborious process as the deaf and 
dumb, and require to learn to detect the words upon the 
lips ; and he who can see should, without regard to his see 
ing, be taught to read the letters by the touch ; this would 
deserve little thanks indeed from those who have no defect 
in sense, notwithstanding that such an arrangement would 
certainly be adopted as soon as the direction of public in 
struction should be made dependent on the opinion of the 
deaf and dumb and the blind. 

These are the prdimiuary suggestions and considerations 

H r> 


which I have thought it advisable to communicate to you 
to-day. Eight days hence I shall endeavour to set forth, in 
a new light and upon a new side, the foundation-principles 
of these lectures, which are at the same time the foundation- 
principles of all knowledge ; and to this I respectfully in 
vite you. 






In the first of these lectures we maintained that not every 
thing which seems to be living does really and truly live ; 
and in the second we said that a large portion of mankind, 
throughout their whole Life, never attain to true and proper 
Thought, but remain within the circle of mere Opinion. It 
might well be, and indeed it has already become obvious 
from other remarks which we made on that occasion, that 
the phrases Thought and Life Thought-lessness and Death, 
mean precisely one and the same thing ; we have already 
shown that Thought is the element of Life, and consequent 
ly the absence of Thought must be the source of Death. 

An important difficulty stands in the way of this asser 
tion, to which I must now direct your attention, namely the 
following : If Life be an organic whole, determined by one 
universally efficient law, then it seems at first sight impos 
sible that any one part appertaining to Life should be ab 
sent where the others are present ; or that any one indivi 
dual part should exist without all the parts proper to Life, 
and consequently without Life itself as a whole, in its com 
plete organic unity. In solving this difficulty, we shall also 
be able to exhibit to you clearly the distinction between 
true Thought and mere Opinion, which was the first busi- 


ness announced for to-day in our last discourse, before we 
proceed to the fulfilment of our other purpose in this lec 
ture, namely, to begin the application of pure Thought it 
self to the elements of all Knowledge. 

The supposed difficulty is thus solved : Wherever spiri 
tual Life is to be found, everything, without exception, that 
belongs to this Life, follows wholly and unreservedly, accord 
ing to the established law of its being : but all this, which 
follows with absolute mechanical necessity, does not neces 
sarily enter into consciousness ; it is there indeed a Life 
according to the law, but not our Life, not the Life which is 
properly and peculiarly ours. Our Life is only that part of 
the Life according to the law which we embrace in clear 
consciousness, and, in this clear consciousness, love and en 
joy. " Where Love is, there is individual Life," we said 
once | Love, however, exists only where there is clear con 

The development of this conscious Life which in these 
lectures is all to which we shall give the name of Life 
within the whole mass of Life which has an existence ac 
cording to the law, proceeds precisely like that of physical 
death. As this, in its natural progress, begins at first in the 
remoter members, those farthest removed from the central 
seat of life, and from them spreads itself gradually to the 
inward parts, until at last it reaches the heart ; so does the 
spiritual Life, filled with consciousness, love, and enjoyment 
of itself, begin at first in the extremities and remoter out 
works of Life, until it also, with God s good pleasure, reaches 
the true foundation and central point of all. An ancient 
philosopher maintained that the animals had arisen from 
the earth ; " as happens," he added, " even to the present 
day in miniature, since every spring, particularly after a 
warm rain, we may observe frogs, for example, in whom 
some particular part, perhaps the fore-feet, may be quite 
perfectly developed, while the other members still remain a 
rude and undeveloped clod of earth." The half-animals of 
this philosopher, although they scarcely afford sufficient 
evidence of what they were designed to prove, yet present a 


very striking illustration of the spiritual Life of ordinary 
men. The outward members of this Life are in themselves 
perfectly formed, and warm blood flows through the ex 
tremities; but when we look to the heart, and the other 
nobler organs of life, which, in themselves and according 
to the law, are indeed there, and must necessarily be there 
since otherwise even the outward members themselves could 
not have been, in these organs, I say, they are found to be 
still unsentient clods frozen rocks. 

I shall, first of all, convince you of this by a striking 
example ; to which, although I shall express myself with 
strict precision, I must yet require your particular attention, 
on account of the novelty of the observation. We see, hear, 
fuel outward objects ; and along with this seeing, &c., we 
also think these objects, and are conscious of them by means 
of our inward sense ; just as we are conscious, by the same 
inward sense, of our seeing, hearing, and feeling of these ob 
jects. I hope that no one who is possessed even of the com 
monest power of reflexion will maintain that he can see, 
hear, or feel an object without being at the same time in 
wardly conscious both of the object itself, and of his seeing, 
hearing, or feeling of it ; that he can sec, hear, or feel any 
thing definite without consciousness. This co-existence, this 
inseparability of the outward, sensible perception and the in 
ward thought or conception, this co-existence, I say, and 
nothing more than this, lies in practical self-observation, or 
the fact of Consciousness ; but this fact of consciousness does 

by no means contain, and I beg you to note this well, 

this fact of consciousness does by no means contain any re 
lation between these two elements, the outward Sense and 
the inward Thought, a relation of the one to the other, 
it may be as Cause and Effect, or as Essential and Acci 
dental. If any such relation between the two be assumed, 
this is not done in consequence of practical self-observation, 
and it does not lie in the fact of consciousness : this is the 
first thing that I beg of you to understand and keep in 

Now, in the second place, should such a relation be as- 


sumed upon some other ground than that of self-observa 
tion, which other possible ground we put in the place of 
consciousness, should such a relation between the two 
elements be, upon such a ground, supposed and accepted, 
then it appears, at first sight, that the two elements, as co 
existent and inseparable from each other, must be held to 
be of equal rank ; and thus the inward thought may as well 
be regarded as the foundation, the essential, and the out 
ward perception as the superstructure, the accident, as the 
reverse ; and in this way an insoluble doubt would neces 
sarily arise between the two suppositions, which would for 
ever prevent any final decision respecting the assumed re 
lation. Thus, I say, it is at first sight ; but should any 
one look deeper into the matter, then, inasmuch as the 
inward consciousness embraces even the outward sense it 
self, since we are conscious of the seeing, hearing, or feel 
ing, but can by no means, on the other hand, see, hear, or 
feel our consciousness, and thus, even in the immediate 
fact, consciousness assumes the higher place : then, I say, 
such an one would find it much more natural to make the 
internal Consciousness the chief thing, and the external 
Sense the subordinate thing; to explain the latter by the 
former ; to control and try the latter by the former ; and 
not the reverse. 

Now how does the common mode of thought proceed in 
this matter ? To it, the outward Sense is, without further 
inquiry, the first thing, the immediate touchstone of truth : 
whatever is seen, heard, or felt, that is, just because it is 
seen, heard, or felt. The Thought, or inward consciousness 
of the object, comes afterwards, as an empty addition which 
is scarcely to be noticed at all, and is quite willingly dis 
pensed with if it do not force itself upon our observation ; 
and a thing is never seen or heard because it is thought, but 
it is thought because it is seen or heard, and that under the 
guidance and control of this seeing and hearing. The per 
verse and absurd modern philosophy referred to in our last 
lecture, as the peculiar organ and voice of common opinion, 
comes forward and unblushingly declares : " Outward sense 


is the only source of reality, and all our knowledge is found 
ed upon experience alone;" as if this were an axiom to 
which no one could adduce a single objection. How is it 
that this common mode of thought, and its guardians, have 
so easily got over the causes of doubt which we have just 
noticed, and even the positive grounds for the adoption of 
the opposite view, as if they had not even an existence ? 
Why does the opposite view, which, even at the first glance, 
and as yet without any deeper investigation, recommends 
itself as much more natural and probable, that the whole 
outward Sense, and all its objects, are founded upon univer 
sal Thought, and that a sensible perception is possible only 
in Thought, and as something thought, as a determination 
of the general consciousness, but by no means in itself and 
separated from consciousness, I mean, the view that it is 
not true that we see, hear, and feel absolutely, but only 
that we are conscious of seeing, hearing, feeling, why does 
this view which we profess, and which we recognise with 
absolute certainty to be the only right one, while we also 
clearly perceive its opposite to be a palpable absurdity, 
why does this view, or even the possibility of it, remain 
wholly concealed from the common mode of thought ? It 
may easily be explained : The judgment of this mode of 
thought is the necessary expression of its actual degree of 
life. For those who cannot go beyond this mode of thought, 
Life dwells, in the meantime, only in outward Sense, the re 
motest extremity of the nascent spiritual Life ; in outward 
Sense they have their whole round of being, their most vital 
existence ; in it alone they feel, love, and enjoy ; and, of ne 
cessity, where their heart is, there is their faith also : in 
Thought, on the contrary, Life does not spring forth before 
them directly as living flesh and blood but seems rather an 
inchoate mass ; and therefore Thought appears to them to 
be a heterogeneous mist, belonging neither to themselves 
nor to the matter in hand. Should they ever come so far 
as to attain a more intense existence in Thought than in 
seeing or hearing, and to feel and enjoy in it more keenly 
than in Sense, then would their judgment also be different 
from what it is. 


Thus is Thought, even in its lowest manifestation, de 
graded and made of no account by the common view of 
things, because this common view does not place the seat of 
its Life in Thought, has not even extended its spiritual 
feelers thus far. Thought in its lowest manifestation, I said; 
for that, and nothing more, is this thought of an external 
object, which has an antitype, a competitor for truth, in an 
outward sensible perception. Thought, in its high and 
proper form, is that which creates its own purely spiritual 
object absolutely from itself, without the aid of outward 
sense, and without any reference whatever to outward sense. 
In ordinary life this mode of thought presents itself when, 
for example, the question arises with regard to the origin of 
the World, or of the Human Race ; or regarding the inter 
nal laws of Nature ; where, in the first case, it is clear that 
at the creation of the world, and before the appearance of 
the human race, there was no observer present whose expe 
rience could be cited ; and, in the second case, the question 
is not regarding specific phenomena, but regarding that in 
which all individual phenomena coincide; and that which is 
to be evolved is not any visible event, but a mental neces 
sity, which not only is, but is thus, and cannot be otherwise: 
that is, an object proceeding entirely from Thought itself: 
which first point I beg of you thoroughly to understand and 

In matters pertaining to this higher Thought, the adher 
ents of the common view proceed after this wise : they let 
others invent, or, where they are possessed of greater power, 
they invent for themselves, by means of vagrant and law 
less thought, or, as it is called, fancy, one out of many 
possible ways in which the actual fact in question may have 
arisen ; in the language of the schools they make an hypo 
thesis : they then consult their desire, fear, hope, or what 
ever may be their ruling passion for the time, and, should it 
assent, the fiction becomes established as a firm and unal 
terable truth. One of the many possible ways, I said ; and 
this is the leading characteristic of the proceeding we have 
described : but it is necessary that this expression should 


be correctly understood. For, in itself, it is not true that 
anything whatever is possible in many different ways ; but 
everything that is, is possible, actual, and necessary, at the 
same time only in one perfectly fixed and definite way : 
and herein, indeed, lies the fundamental error of this pro 
ceeding, that it assumes many different possibilities, from 
which it proceeds to select one for adoption, without being 
able to verify this one by anything but its own caprice. 
This proceeding is what we call Opinion, in opposition 
to true Thought. Opinion, like Thought itself, possesses, 
as its domain, the whole region lying beyond sensuous 
experience ; this region it fills with the productions of fan 
cy, either that of others or its own, to which desire alone 
gives substance and duration ; and all this happens simply 
and solely because the seat of its spiritual Life is as yet no 
higher than in the extremities of blind desire or aversion. 

True Thought proceeds in a different way in filling up 
this super-sensual region. It does not invent, but spon 
taneously perceives, not one possibility among many, but 
the one and only possible, actual, and necessary mode ; and 
this does not seek its confirmation in a proof lying beyond 
itself, but it contains within itself its own confirmation ; 
and, as soon as it is conceived, becomes evident to Thought 
itself as the only possible and absolutely certain Truth, 
establishing itself in the soul with an immoveable certainty 
and evidence that completely destroys even the possibility 
of doubt. Since this certainty, as we have said, attaches it 
self at once to the living act of Thought in its immediate 
vitality, and to this only, it follows that every one who 
would become a partaker in this certainty, must himself, 
and in his own person, think the Truth, and cannot commit 
to any other the accomplishment of this business in his 
stead. Only this preliminary remark I desired to make be 
fore proceeding, as I now do, to our mutual realization of 
true Thought in the highest elements of Knowledge. 

The first task of such Thought is to conceive of Being in 
itself with strict exactitude. I approach this conception thus; 
I say : Being (Seyn), proper and true Being, does not arise, 



does not proceed, does not come forth out of nothingness. 
For everything which thus arises, you are compelled to as 
sume a previous causal being, by virtue of which the other 
at first arose. If you hold that at some earlier period this 
second being has itself arisen in its turn, then you are again 
compelled to assume a third being by virtue of which the 
second arose ; and should you attribute a beginning to the 
third then you are compelled to assume a fourth, and so on 
for ever. You must, in every case, at last arrive at a Being 
that has not thus arisen, and which therefore requires no 
other thing to account for its being, but which is absolutely 
through itself, by itself, and from itself. On this Being, to 
which you must at last ascend from out the series of created 
things, you must now and henceforward fix your attention ; 
and then it will become evident to you, if you have entered 
fully with me into the preceding thoughts, that you can 
only conceive of the true Being as a Being by itself, from it 
self, and through itself. 

In the second place I add : that within this Being no 
thing new can arise, nothing can alter its shape, nor shift 
nor change ; but that as it is now, so has it been from all 
eternity, and so it endures unchangeably in all eternity. 
For, since it is through itself alone, so is it, completely, 
without division, and without abatement, all that, through 
itself, it can be and must be. Were it in time to become 
something new, then must it either have been previously 
hindered, by some being foreign to itself, from becoming 
this something; or it must become this something new 
through the power of a being foreign to itself, which now 
for the first time begins to exert an influence upon it : 
both of which suppositions stand in direct contradiction to 
its absolute independence and self-sufficiency. And thus it 
will become evident to you, if you have thoroughly compre 
hended these thoughts, that Being can be conceived of only 
as absolutely One, not as Many ; only as a self-comprehen 
sive, self-sufficient, and absolutely unchangeable Unity. 

By this course of thought and this is my third point 
you arrive only at a Being (Seyn) shut up, concealed, 


wholly comprehended in itself; you do not, by any means, 
arrive at an Ex-istence (Daseyn;*} I say to an Ex-istence, 
manifestation, or revelation of this Being. I am most anx 
ious that you should understand this at once ; and you will 
undoubtedly do so, when you have strictly considered this 
idea of Being, now for the first time set forth, and have so 
become conscious in yourselves of what is contained in this 
thought, and what is not contained in it. The natural il 
lusion which may obscure your minds against the desired 
insight, I shall very soon examine. 

To explain this more fully : You perceive that I dis 
tinguish Being (Seyn] essential, self-comprehended Being 
from Ex-istence (Daseyri), and represent these two ideas 
as entirely opposed to each other, as not even indirectly 
connected with each other. This distinction is of the weio-h- 

, O 

tiest importance; and only through it can clearness and cer 
tainty be attained in the highest elements of Knowledge. 
What Ex-istence (Daseyri] really is, will best be made evi 
dent by actual contemplation of this Ex-istence. I say, 
therefore : Essentially and at the root, the Ex-istence of 
Being is the consciousness or conception of Being ; as may 
be made clear at once in the use of the word " is" when ap 
plied to any particular object, for example, to this wall. 
For, what is this "is" in the proposition, " The wall is?" 
It is obviously not the wall itself and identical with it ; it 
does not even assume that character, but it distinguishes 
the wall, by the third person, as independent ; it thus only 
assumes to be an outward characteristic of essential Bein-, 
an image or picture of such Being, or, as we have ex 
pressed it above, and as it is most distinctly expressed, the 
immediate, outward Ex-istence of the wall, as its Being out 
of its Being. (It is admitted that the whole of this experi- 

* The English language does not contain terms by which the opposition of 
the German "Seyn" and " Daseyn " can be expressed with the distinctness 
of the original. " Being " and " Ex-istence " are here adopted as the nearest 
approach to a correct translation that our language admits of, although the 
awkwardness of the expression is obvious, and the strict philosophical mean 
ing here attached to those terms is unknown in their common use. 7V. 


ment demands the most subtle abstraction and the keenest 
inward observation ; and it may be added, as the proof, that 
no one has thoroughly performed the task, to whom it has 
not become evident that the whole, and particularly the last 
expression, is perfectly exact.) 

The common mode of thought, it is true, is not wont to 
remark this distinction ; and it may well be that what 1 
have now said may seem to many something wholly new 
and unheard of. The reason of which is, that their love and 
affection are attracted directly to the object itself, interested 
with it exclusively, and wholly occupied with it ; and that 
thus they have no time to tarry by the "is," or to consider 
its significance, so that to them it is wholly lost. Hence> it 
usually happens that, leaping over the Ex-istence (Daseyn), 
we believe that we have arrived at Being (Seyn) itself; 
while nevertheless we forever remain in the fore-court, in 
the Ex-istence : and this common delusion may render the 
proposition which we have submitted to you above, at first 
sight, dark and unintelligible. In our present inquiry, how 
ever, everything depends on our comprehending this pro 
position at once, and henceforth giving it due attention. 

We said that the Consciousness of Being, the "is" to the 
Being, is itself the Ex-istence (Daseyri) : leaving out of 
sight, in the mean time, the supposition that Consciousness 
may be only one among other possible forms, modes, and 
kinds of Ex-istence, and that there may be many other, per 
haps an infinite variety of, such forms, modes, and kinds of 
Ex-istence. This supposition, however, must be dismissed : 
in the first place, because we here desire not to accumu 
late mere opinions, but truly to think; and secondly, with 
reference to its consequences, for with such a possibility 
remaining, our union with the Absolute, as the only source 
of Blessedness, could never be attained; but there would 
rather be placed, between the Absolute and us, an immea 
surable chasm, as the true source of all Unblessedness. 

We have therefore to make it manifest to you in thought, 
which is our fourth point that the Consciousness of 
Being is the only possible form and mode of the Ex-istence 


(Daseyn) of Being ; and, consequently, is itself immediately 
and absolutely this Ex-istence of Being. We conduct you 
to this insight in the following way: Being (Seyri) as 
such, as Being, as abiding, unchangeable Being, without in 
any respect laying aside its absolute character and inter 
mingling or blending itself with Ex-istence must ex-ist. 
Hence it must, in itself, be distinct from Ex-istence, and op 
posed to it ; and indeed since besides the absolute Being 
(Seyn) itself there is nothing else whatever but its Ex 
istence (Daseyn} this distinction and opposition must be 
manifest in the Ex-istence (Daseyn) itself; and this, more 
clearly expressed, is equivalent to the following: Ex-ist 
ence (Daseyn) must apprehend, recognise, and image forth 
itself as mere Ex-istence : and, opposed to itself, it must as 
sume and image forth an absolute Being (Seyn), whose mere 
Ex-istence it is ; it must thus, by its own nature, as opposed 
to another and an absolute existence, annihilate itself: 
which is precisely the character of mere representation, con 
ception, or Consciousness of Being, as you have already seen 
in our exposition of the " is. " And thus it is clear, if we 
have succeeded in making these ideas thoroughly intelligible 
to you, that the Ex-istence of Being must necessarily be 
cannot be other than a Consciousness of itself of Ex 
istence as a mere image or representation of Absolute, 
Self-existent Being. 

That such is the case, and that Knowledge* or Conscious 
ness is the absolute Ex-istence (Daseyn), or, as you may 
now rather wish to say, the manifestation and revelation 
of Being (Seyn), in its only possible form : this may be 
distinctly understood and seen by Knowledge itself, as we 
have now seen it. But and this is our fifth point this 
Knowledge can, by no means, in itself, understand or see 
how itself arises, and how from out the inward, self-compre 
hensive Being (Seyn) an Ex-istence (Daseyn}, manifestation 

* The reader will observe that in this and the succeeding lectures the word 
" Wissen," which is here rendered by " Knowledge," is used in the sense of 
" Cognition," to express the conscious ott of Knowing, and not either the 
object or the result of that act. Tr. 


or revelation of itself can proceed ; as indeed we may dis 
tinctly perceive, by reference to our third point, that such 
a sequential evolution is wholly beyond our power. The 
reason of this is, that Ex-istence, as we have already shown, 
cannot be without apprehending, recognising, and assuming 
itself, because such self-conception is inseparable from its 
nature ; and thus Knowledge, by the very absoluteness of 
its Ex-istence and its dependence on that Ex-istence, is cut 
off from all possibility of passing beyond it, or of conceiving 
and tracing itself prior to that Ex-istence. It is, for itself 
and in itself, and so far well ; but wherever it is, it finds 
itself already there in a certain determinate mode, which it 
must accept just as it is presented to it, but which it can 
by no means explain, nor declare how and whereby it has 
become so. This unchangeably determined mode of the 
Ex-istence of Knowledge, which can be apprehended only 
by immediate comprehension and perception, is the essen 
tial and truly real Life of Knowledge. 

But notwithstanding that this true and real Life of Know 
ledge cannot explain the definite mode in which it has a- 
risen, it is yet susceptible of a general interpretation ; and 
we may understand and perceive with absolute certainty 
what it is according to its essential inward nature ; which is 
our sixth point. I lead you to this insight thus : What we 
set forth above, as our fourth point, that Ex-istence is 
necessarily Consciousness, and all that is involved in this 
principle, follows from mere Ex-istence as such, and the con 
ception of such Ex-istence. Now, this Ex-istence (Daseyn) 
itself is, resting and reposing on itself alone ; prior to any 
conception of itself, and inseparable from every such con 
ception, as we have just proved; arid this its being, its 
reality, which can only be immediately perceived, we have 
called its Life. Whence has it then this being, so com 
pletely independent of its conception of itself, and of the 
being which arises from that conception, nay, rather pre 
ceding these, and first rendering them even possible ? We 
have said : It is the living and efficient Ex-istence of the 
Absolute itself which alone has power to be and to exist, and 


beside which nothing is, nor truly exists. Now as the Ab 
solute can be only through itself, so also can it exist only 
through itself; and as it, in its very self, and nothing else 
in its stead, must be, since indeed nothing out of it has 
power either to be or to exist, so does it exist even as it is 
in itself, complete, undivided, without diminution, without 
variableness or change, as Absolute Unity, as it is in its own 
inward and essential nature. Thus the actual Life of Know 
ledge is, at bottom, the essential Being of the Absolute it 
self and nothing else ; and between the Absolute or God, 
and Knowledge in its deepest roots, there is no separation 
or distinction, but both merge completely into one. 

And thus we have already attained a point from which 
our previous propositions become clearer, and light spreads 
over our future way. That any living Ex-istence should be 
wholly cut off from God, all living Ex-istence, as we have 
seen, being necessarily Life and Consciousness, and the dead 
and unconscious having no place in Ex-istence, that any 
living Ex-istence should be wholly cut off from God, is ab 
solutely impossible ; for only through the Ex-istence of God 
in it is it maintained in Ex-istence, and were it possible 
that God should disappear from within it, then would it 
thereby itself disappear from Ex-istence. In the lower 
grades of spiritual life, this Divine Ex-istence is seen only 
through obscure coverings, and amid confused phantasma 
goria, which have their origin in the organs of the spiritual 
sense through which man looks upon himself and upon Be 
ing ; but to gaze upon it bright and unveiled, as indeed the 
Divine Life and Ex-istence, and to bathe our whole being 
in this Life with full enjoyment and love, this is the True, 
the unspeakably Blessed Life. 

It is ever, we said, the Ex-istence (Daseyri) of the Abso 
lute and Divine Being (Seyn) that "is " (ex-ists) in all Life; 
by which expression " all Life," we here mean the universal 
Life, according to the law, spoken of at the beginning of this 
lecture, which in this respect cannot be otherwise than as it 
is. In the lower grades of the spiritual life of man, how 
ever, that Divine Being, (Seyti) as such, does not reveal 


itself to Consciousness ; but in the true central-point of spi 
ritual life, that Divine Being, in its own express nature, 
does reveal itself to Consciousness ; as, for example, I as 
sume that it has revealed itself to us. But, that it reveals 
itself as such to Consciousness, can mean nothing else than 
that it assumes the form which we have already seen to be 
the necessary form of Ex-istence and Consciousness, that, 
namely, of an image, representation, or conception, which 
gives itself out only as a conception, and not by any means 
as the thing itself. Immediately, in its true essential na 
ture, and without any image or representation, it is at all 
times present in the actual life of man, only unperceived ; 
and it continues there present as before, after it has been 
perceived ; only it is then, besides, recognised in an image 
or representation. This representative form is the essential 
nature of Thought; and in particular the Thought we are 
here considering bears, in its sufficiency for its own support 
and confirmation, the character of Absoluteness ; and there 
by approves itself as pure, true, and absolute Thought. 
And thus it is made evident on all sides, that only in pure 
Thought can our union with God be recognised. 

We have already said, but must yet again expressly in 
culcate it upon you, and commend it to your earnest atten 
tion, that as Being (Seyri) is One and not Manifold, and as 
it is at once complete in itself, without variation or change, 
and thus an essential and absolute Unity, so also is Ex 
istence (Daseyn) or Consciousness since it only exists 
through Being and is only the Ex-istence of Being, like 
wise an absolute, eternal, invariable, and unchanging Unity. 
So it is, with absolute necessity, in itself; and so it remains 
in pure Thought. There is nothing whatever in Ex-istence 
but immediate and living Thought : Thought, I say, but 
by no means a thinking substance, a dead body in which 
thought inheres, with which no-thought indeed a no-think 
er is full surely at hand : Thought, I say, and also the real 
Life of this Thought, which at bottom is the Divine Life ; 
both of which Thought and this its real Life are molten 
together into one inward organic Unity ; like as, outwardly, 


they are one simple, identical, eternal, unchangeable Unity. 
Nevertheless, opposed to this latter outward Unity, there 
arises in Thought the Appearance of a Manifold, partly be 
cause there are many thinking subjects, and partly on ac 
count of the infinite series of objects upon which the 
thought of these subjects must eternally proceed. This Ap 
pearance arises even before pure Thought and the Blessed 
Life in it, and Thought itself cannot forbid the presence of 
this Appearance ; but in no way does pure Thought believe 
in this Appearance, nor love it, nor attempt to find enjoy 
ment in it. On the other hand, the lower life, in all its in 
ferior grades, believes in every appearance of this Manifold 
and in the Manifold itself, runs forth in vagrant dissipation 
upon this Manifold and seeks in it for peace and enjoyment 
of itself, which nevertheless it will never find in that way. 
This remark may, in the first place, explain the picture 
which we drew in our first lecture of the True Life and the 
Apparent Life. To the outward eye, these two opposite 
modes of Life are very similar to each other ; both proceed 
upon the same common objects, which are perceived by both 
in the same way ; inwardly, however, they are very differ 
ent. The True Life does not even believe in the reality of 
this Manifold and Changeable ; it believes only in its Un 
changeable and Eternal Original, in the Divine Essence ; 
with all its thought, its love, its obedience, its self-enjoy 
ment, for ever lost in and blended with that Original : the 
Apparent Life, on the contrary, neither knows nor compre 
hends any Unity whatsoever, but even regards the Manifold 
and Perishable as the True Being, and is satisfied with it 
as such. In the second place, this remark imposes upon us 
the task of setting forth the true ground why that which, 
according to our doctrine, is in itself absolutely One, and 
remains One in True Life and Thought, does nevertheless 
in an appearance, which we must yet admit to be permanent 
and indestructible, become transmuted into a Manifold and 
Changeable ; the true ground of this transmutation, I say, 
we must at least set forth, and distinctly announce to you, 
although the clear demonstration of it may be inaccessible 



to popular communication. The exposition of this ground 
of the Manifold and Changeable, with the farther applica 
tion of what we have said to-day, shall form the subject of 
our next discourse, to which I now respectfully invite you. 







LET us begin the business of to-day with a survey of our 
purpose in these discourses, as well as of what has now 
been accomplished for that purpose. 

My position is this : Man is not destined to misery, but 
he may be a partaker in peace, tranquillity, and Blessedness, 
here below, everywhere, and for ever, if he but will to be so. 
This Blessedness however, cannot be superadded to him 
by any outward power, nor by any miracle of an outward 
power, but he must lay hold of it for himself, and with his 
own hands. The source of all misery among men is their 
vagrancy in the Manifold and Changeable; the sole and 
absolute condition of the Blessed Life is the apprehension of 
the One Eternal with inward love and enjoyment; although 
we indeed apprehend this Unity only in a picture or repre 
sentation, and cannot in reality ourselves attain to or trans 
form ourselves into it. 

The proposition which we have thus laid down, I would 
now, in the first place, bring home to your minds in clear 
insight, and thoroughly convince you of its truth. We here 
aim at instruction and enlightenment, which alone have en 
during value ; not at a mere fugitive emotion or awakening 


of the fancy, which for the most part passes away without 
leaving a trace behind it. For the attainment of this clear 
insight, which \ve here strive to reach, the following steps 
are indispensably requisite : First, that we should conceive 
of Being (Seyn) as absolutely by and through itself alone, 
as One, invariable, and unchangeable. This conception of 
Being is by no means an exclusive possession of the schools ; 
but every Christian who in his childhood has received a 
sound religious education has even then, in the Christian 
Doctrine of the Divine Nature, become acquainted with our 
conception of being. Secondly, another requisite for this in 
sight is the conception that we, the thinking beings, with 
respect to what we are in ourselves, are by no means this 
Absolute Being ; but that we are nevertheless, in the inner 
most root of our existence, inseparably connected with it, 
since otherwise we should have no power to exist at all. 
This latter conception may be more or less clear, particularly 
in regard to the mode of this our relation to the Godhead. 
We have set forth this relation in the greatest clearness 
with which, in our opinion, it can be invested in a popu 
lar discourse, thus : Besides God, there is truly and in 
the proper sense of the word no other Ex-istence what 
ever but Knowledge ; and this Knowledge is the Divine 
Ex-istence (Daseyn) itself, absolutely and immediately ; and, 
in so far as we are this Knowledge, we are ourselves, in the 
deepest root of our being, the Divine Ex-istence. All other 
things that appear to us as Ex-istences outward objects, 
bodies, souls, we ourselves in so far as we ascribe to our 
selves a separate and independent Being do not truly and 
in themselves exist; but they exist only in Consciousness 
and Thought, as that of which we are conscious or of which 
we think, and in no other way whatever. This, I say, is the 
clearest expression by which, in my opinion, this conception 
can be popularly communicated to men. But should any 
one be unable to understand even this expression, yea, 
should he even be unable to apprehend or conceive anything 
whatever regarding the mode of this relation, yet would he 
not thereby be excluded from the Blessed Life, nor even 


hindered in any way from entering upon it. But on the 
other hand, according to my absolute conviction, the follow 
ing are indispensable requisites to the attainment of the 
Blessed Life : (1.) That we should have fixed principles 
and convictions respecting God and our relation to him, 
which do not merely float in our memory, without our par 
taking of them, as something we have learned from others ; 
but which are really true to us, living and active in our 
selves. For even in this does Eeligion consist : and he 
who does not possess such principles, in such a way, has no 
Religion, and therefore no Being, nor Ex-istence, nor true 
Self at all; but he passes away, like a shadow, amid the 
Manifold and Perishable. (2.) Another requisite to the 
Blessed Life is that this living Religion within us should 
at least go so far as to convince us entirely of our own 
Nothingness in ourselves, and of our Being only in God 
and through God ; that we should at least feel this rela 
tionship continually and without interruption; and that, 
even although it should not be distinctly expressed either 
in thought or language, it should yet be the secret spring, 
the hidden principle, of all our thoughts, feelings, emotions, 
and desires. That these things are indispensable requisites 
to a Blessed Life, is, I say, my absolute conviction ; and 
this conviction is here set forth for the benefit of those who 
already assume the possibility of a Blessed Life, who stand 
in need of it or of confirmation in it, and who therefore de 
sire to receive guidance in the way towards it. Notwith 
standing this, we can not only frankly admit that a man 
may make shift without Religion, without True Ex-istence, 
without inward peace and Blessedness, and assure himself 
of coming off well enough without these, as indeed may 
be true ; but we are also ready freely to concede to such a 
man all possible honour and merit which, without Religion 

o * 

he may be able to acquire. We embrace this opportunity 
frankly to confess that, neither in the speculative nor in the 
popular form of our doctrine, can we compel any man, or 
force our convictions upon him ; nor would we wish to do so 
even if we could. 


The definitive result of our former lecture, which we in 
tend to follow out to-day, was this : God not only is, in 
himself and contained within himself, but he also ex-ists, 
and manifests himself; and this his immediate Ex-istence 
(Daseyri) is necessarily Knowledge : this latter necessity 
being seen and apprehended in Knowledge itself. In this 
his Existence (Daseyn) he ex-ists, as is also necessary and 
may in like manner be seen to be necessary, he ex-ists, I 
say, as he is absolutely in himself, in his own Being (Seyri), 
without changing in aught by his passage from Being (Seyn) 
to Ex-istence (Daseyii), without any intervening division 
or other separation between these two states. God is in 
himself One and not Many ; he is in himself identical, 
the same, without change or variation ; he ex-ists precisely 
as he is in himself, and therefore he necessarily ex-ists as 
One, without change or variation ; and as Knowledge, or 
we ourselves, are this Divine Ex-istence, so also in us, in so 
far as we are this Divine Ex-istence, there can be no varia 
tion or change, neither multiplicity nor variety, neither di 
vision, difference, nor opposition. So must it be, and other 
wise it cannot be : therefore it is so. 

But in Reality we nevertheless find this multiplicity and 
variety, these divisions, differences, and oppositions of Being, 
and in Being, which in Thought are clearly seen to be ab 
solutely impossible ; and hence arises the task of reconciling 
this contradiction between our perceptions of Reality and 
pure Thought; of showing how these opposing judgments 
may consist with each other, and so both prove true ; and, 
in particular, of so solving this problem that it may become 
obvious whence, and from what principles, this Multiplicity 
arises in the simple Unity of Being. 

In the first place, and before everything else, let us ask : 
Who is it that raises the question as to the source of the 
Manifold, and seeks such an insight into this source as may 
enable him to see the Manifold in its first outgoings, and 
thus obtain a knowledge of the mode of the transition ? It 
is not firm and unwavering Faith. Faith briefly disposes 
of the matter thus : " There is absolutely but the One, 


Unchangeable and Eternal, and nothing besides Him; hence 
all that is fleeting and changeable full surely is not, and its 
seeming appearance is but an empty show ; this I know, 
whether I can explain this appearance or not; my assurance 
is neither strengthened in the one case, nor weakened in the 
other." This Faith reposes immovably in the fact of its in 
sight, without feeling the want of the mode ; it is content 
with the " That" without asking for the " How. " Thus, for 
example, in the Gospel of John, Christianity does not an 
swer this question at all; it does not even once touch it, 
or only wonders at the presence of the Perishable, having 
this firm Faith arid assurance that only the One is, and that 
the Perishable is not. And thus any one amongst us who 
is a partaker in this Faith does not raise the question ; 
hence he does not need our answer to it, and it may even 
be a matter of indifference to him, as regards the Blessed 
Life, whether he comprehend our answer to it or riot. 

But this question is raised by those who have hitherto 
either believed only in the Manifold and have never risen 
even to a presentiment of the One, or else have wandered 
to and fro between both views, uncertain in which of the 
two they should establish themselves and which reject al 
together ; and these can only by means of an answer to this 
question attain the insight which is necessary to the devel 
opment of the Blessed Life. For such I must answer the 
question, and for them it is necessary that they should com 
prehend my answer. 

Thus then stands the matter : In so far as the Divine 
Ex-istence (Dcueyri) is itself its own immediate, living, and 
efficient Ex-isting (daseyen}, ex-isting, I say, indicating 
thereby an act of Ex-istence, it is wholly like to the in 
ward essential Being (Seyn), and is therefore an invariable, 
unchanging Unity, altogether incapable of Multiplicity. 

Hence the principle of opposition cannot (I have here, 

be it remembered, a double purpose : partly to present to 
some of you, for the first time and in a popular way, the 
Knowledge in question ; partly, for others among you who 
have already acquired this Knowledgp in the scientific way, 


to combine into one single beam and centre of light that 
which they have formerly seen in separate individual rays ; 
and I therefore now express myself with the strictest pre 
cision), the principle of opposition, I say, cannot fall im 
mediately within this act of the Divine Ex-istence, but must 
lie beyond it; but this, however, in such wise that the out 
ward opposition shall be evident as immediately connected 
with the living act and necessarily flowing from it ; but by 
no means as establishing an interval between God and us, 
and so irreversibly excluding us from him. I conduct you 
to an insight into this principle of Multiplicity thus : 

1. Whatever the Absolute Being (Seyri) or God is, that 
he is wholly and immediately by and through himself; 
among other things, he ex-ists, manifests and reveals him 
self; this Ex-istence (Daseyn), and here is the important 
point, this Ex-istence is thus also by and through himself, 
and only in his immediate and self-subsistent Being, that 
is, in immediate Life and Vitality, does he ex-ist. In this 
his act of Ex-istence he is present with his whole power of 
ex-isting ; and only in this, his efficient and living act, does 
his immediate Ex-istence consist : and in this respect it is 
complete, one and unchangeable. 

2. Being (Seyn) and Ex-isteiice (Daseyn) are here wholly 
blended together and lost in each other ; for to his Being, 
by and through himself, his Ex-istence belongs, and can 
have no other foundation or source whatever ; while, on the 
other hand, to his Ex-istence belongs everything that ap 
pertains to his inward and essential Being or Nature. The 
whole distinction, set forth in our former lecture, between 
Being (Seyri) and Ex-istence (Daseyn), and their indepen 
dence of each other, is thus seen to be only for us, and only 
a result of our limitation ; and by no means to have any 
place, immediately and of itself, in the Divine Ex-istence. 

3. I said further, in the preceding lecture, that in and to 
mere Ex-istence itself, Being (Seyn) cannot be blended with 
Ex-istence (Daseyn), but that they must be distinguished 
from each other ; so that Being may be apprehended as Be 
ing, and the Absolute as Absolute. This distinction, this 


" as," this characterisation of the elements distinguished, 
is in itself an absolute division, and the principle of all sub 
sequent division and multiplicity, as may be shortly made 
evident to you in the following way : 

(a.) In the first place, the "as" or characterization of 
the two elements, does not immediately give their Being 
(Seyn) ; it gives only what they are, i. e. their descrip 
tion and character; it gives them in representation, 
and indeed gives a mixed picture or representation of 
both, in which they reciprocally interpenetrate and de 
termine each other, since the one can be apprehended 
and characterized only by means of the other, as not 
being that which the other is; the other again being 
distinguished as not being that which the former is. 
In this distinction we have the genesis of Knowledge 
and Consciousness ; or, what is the same thing, repre 
sentation, description, and characterization, mediate per 
ception and recognition by means of character and sign; 
and in this distinction lies the peculiar and fundamen 
tal principle of Knowledge. It is purely a relation : 
a relation of two things, however, does not lie wholly 
either in the one or the other but between the two ; it 
is a third element, as is shown in the peculiar nature of 
Knowledge as something wholly distinct from Being. 

(6.) This distinction occurs in Ex-istence (Daseyn] 
itself and proceeds from it ; and as the distinction does 
not embrace its object immediately, but only the form 
and character of the object, so Ex-istence does not ap 
prehend itself immediately in this distinction, that is, 
in Consciousness, but only a picture or representation 
of itself. It does not conceive of itself immediately as 
it is ; but it conceives of itself only within the limita 
tions which are set to conception by the absolute nature 
of conception itself. Popularly expressed, this is the 
following : We conceive of ourselves only in part, and 
that not as we really are in ourselves ; and the cause 
that we do not conceive of the Absolute does not lie in 
the Absolute itself, but in the conception which cannot 



even conceive of itself. Were it able to conceive of it 
self, then would it be able to conceive of the Absolute, 
for in its own Being, beyond the limitations of concep 
tion, it is itself the Absolute. 

(c.) Thus it is in Consciousness, as a distinction, that 
the primitive essence of the Divine Being and Ex 
istence suffers a change. What then is the one abso 
lute and invariable character of this change ? 

Consider the following: Knowledge, as a distinc 
tion, is a characterization of the thing distinguished ; 
every characterization, however, is in itself an assump 
tion of the fixed and abiding Being and Presence of 
that which is characterized. Thus, by the act of con 
ception, that which in itself is the immediate living 
Divine Life, and which we have previously so de 
scribed, becomes a definite and abiding substance : 
the schools would add, an objective substance, but this 
arises from the other and not the reverse. Thus, it is 
the living Divine Life that is changed ; and a definite 
.and abiding substance is the form which it assumes in 
that change ; in other words, the change of immedi- 
.ate Life into a definite dead substance is the funda 
mental character of that change which is imposed upon 
Ex-istence by Consciousness. This abiding Presence 
is the characteristic of that which we call the W T orld; 
hence conception is the true World-creator, by means of 
the change of the Divine Life into a definite substance 
which is involved in its essential character; and only 
to conception and in conception is there a World, as 
the necessary form of Life in Consciousness ; but be 
yond conception, that is, truly and in itself, there 
is nothing, and in all Eternity there can be nothing, 
but the Living God in his own fulness of Life. 

(c?.) The World is thus manifest, in its fundamen 
tal character, as proceeding from conception ; and this 
conception again is nothing but the " a*," the charac 
terization of the Divine Being and Ex-istence. But 
.does not this World in conception, and the conception 


of it, assume again a new form ? I mean necessarily 
so, and with a necessity that may be made manifest ? 

In order to answer this question, consider with me 
the following : Ex-istence (Daseyn) apprehends itself, 
as I said above, only in representation, and with a cha 
racter distinguishing it from Being (tieyn). This it 
does solely of and through itself and by its own power ; 
and this power of self-observation is manifest in all 
concentration, attention, and direction of thought to a 
particular object ; in the language of science this in 
dependent self -apprehension of conception is named 
reflexion, and thus we shall in future name it. This 
direction of the power of Ex-istence and Consciousness 
arises from the necessity for an " as" a characteriza 
tion of Ex-istence ; and this necessity rests immediate 
ly on God s living act of Ex-istence. The foundation 
of the independence and freedom of Consciousness is 
indeed in God ; but even on that account, because it is 
in God, do that independence and freedom truly exist, 
and are not an empty show. Through his own Ex-ist 
ence, and by its essential nature, God throws out from 
him a part of his Ex-istence, that is, such part of it 
as becomes self-consciousness, and establishes it in 
true independence and freedom : which point, as that 
which solves the latest and deepest error of speculation, 
I Avould not here pass over. 

Ex-istence apprehends itself by its own independent 
power : this was the first thing to which I wished to 
draw your attention here. What then arises in this 
apprehension ? This is the second thing to which I 
now desire to direct your thoughts. As soon as it 
distinctly looks upon itself, in its own present exist 
ence, there arises immediately, in thus turning its at 
tention forcibly upon itself, the perception that it is 
this or that, that it bears this or that character; and 
thus here is the general expression of the result 
which I entreat you to notice thus., in reflexion upon 
itself, does Knowledge, by itself and in virtue of its 


own nature, give birth to a division in itself; since in 
this act there is apparent not only Knowledge itself, 
which would be one, but, at the same time, Knowledge 
as this or that, with this or that character or attribute, 
which adds a second element to the first, and that one 
arising from the first ; so that the very foundation of 
reflexion is thus divided into two separate parts. This 
is the essential and fundamental law of reflexion. 

(e.*) Now the first and immediate object of absolute 
reflexion is Ex-istence itself; which, according to the 
necessary form of Knowledge, as before explained, has 
been changed from a living Life into a definite sub 
stance or World: thus the first object of absolute 
reflexion is the World. By reason of the essential 
form of reflexion which we have just set forth, this 
World must separate and divide itself in reflexion ; so 
that the World, or the abiding Ex-istence in the ab 
stract, may assume a definite character, and the ab 
stract World reproduce itself in reflexion under a par 
ticular shape. This, as we said, lies in reflexion it 
self as such ; reflexion, however, as we have also said, 
is in itself absolutely free and independent. Hence, 
were this reflexion inactive, were there nothing re 
flected, as in consequence of this freedom might be 
the case, then there would be nothing apparent ; but 
were reflexion infinitely active, were there an endless 
series of its acts reflexion upon reflexion, as through 
this freedom might as well be the case, then to every 
new reflexion the World would appear in a new shape, 
and thus proceed throughout an Infinite Time, which 
is likewise created only by the absolute freedom of re 
flexion, in an endless course of change and transmuta 
tion, as an Infinite Manifold. As conception in the 
abstract was seen to be the World-creator; so here, 
the free act of reflexion is seen to be the creator of 
Multiplicity, and indeed of an infinite Multiplicity, in 
the World; while the World nevertheless, notwith 
standing this Multiplicity, remains the same, because 


the abstract conception, in its fundamental character, 
remains One and the same. 

(f.) And now to combine what we have said into 
one view; Consciousness, that is we ourselves, is 
the Divine Ex-istence (Dasey)i) itself, and absolutely 
one with it. This Divine Ex-istence apprehends it 
self and thereby becomes Consciousness ; and its own 
Being (Seyn) the true Divine Being becomes a 
World to it. In this position what does this Con 
sciousness contain ? I think each of you will answer : 
" The World and nothing but the World." Or does 
this Consciousness also contain the immediate Divine 
Life ? I think each of you will answer : " No ; for 
Consciousness must necessarily change this immediate 
Divine Life into a World ; and thus, Consciousness be 
ing supposed, this change is also supposed as accom 
plished ; and Consciousness itself is, by its very nature, 
and therefore without being again conscious of it, the 
completion of this change. But now, where is that 
immediate Divine Life which, in its immediateness, is 
itself Consciousness ; where has it vanished, since, ac 
cording to our own admissions rendered clearly neces 
sary by our previous conclusions, in this its immediate- 
ness it is irreversibly effaced from Consciousness ? We 
reply : It has not vanished, but it is and abides there, 
where alone it can be, in the hidden and inaccessible 
Being of Consciousness, which no conception can reach ; 
in that which alone supports Consciousness, main 
tains it in Ex-istence, and even makes its Ex-istence 
possible. In Consciousness the Divine Life is inevit 
ably changed into an actual and abiding World : 
further, every actual Consciousness is an act of re 
flexion ; the act of reflexion, however, inevitably di 
vides the One World into an infinite variety of shapes, 
the comprehension of which can never be completed, 
and of which therefore only a finite series enters into 
Consciousness. I ask : Where then abides the One 
World, in itself perfect and complete, as the efficient 


antitype of the likewise perfect and complete Divine 
Life ? I answer : It abides there, where alone it is, 
not in any individual act of reflexion, but in the one, 
absolute, fundamental form of conception ; which thou 
canst never reproduce in actual, immediate Conscious 
ness, but only in Thought raising itself above Con 
sciousness; just as thou canst likewise reproduce in 
the same Thought the still farther removed, and more 
deeply hidden, Divine Life. Where then, in this stream 
of actual reflexion, and its world-creation, flowing on 
for ever through ceaseless changes, where then abides 
the One, Eternal and Unchangeable Being (Seyri) of Con 
sciousness manifested in the Divine Ex-istence (Da- 
seyri) ? It does not enter into this stream of change, but 
only its type, image, or representation, enters therein. 

As thy physical eye is a prism in which the light of 
the sensuous world, which in itself is pure, simple and 
colourless, breaks itself upon the surfaces of things in 
to many hues, while nevertheless thou wilt not main 
tain on that account that the light is in itself coloured, 
but only that, to- thy eye, and while standing with thy 
eye in this state of reciprocal influence, it separates 
itself into colours, although thou still canst not see 
the light colourless, but canst only think it colourless, 
to which thought thou givest credence only when the 
nature of thy seeing eye becomes known to thee : so 
also proceed in the things of the spiritual world and 
with the vision of thy spiritual eye. What thou seest, 
that thou art : but thou art it not as thou seest it, nor 
dost thou see it as thou art it. Thou art it, unchange 
able and pure, without colour and without shape. Only 
reflexion, which likewise thou thyself art, and which 
therefore thou canst never put away from thee, only 
this causes it to separate before thee into innumerable 
rays and shapes. Know therefore that it is not in it 
self thus broken up, and formed, and invested with a 
multiplicity of shapes, but that it only seems so in this 
thy reflexion, thy spiritual eye, by which alone thou 


canst see, and in reciprocal influence with this re 
flexion. Raise thyself above this Appearance, which in 
Reality can as little be obliterated as the colours from 
before thy physical eye, raise thyself above this Ap 
pearance to true Thought, let thyself be penetrated by 
it, and thou wilt henceforward have faith in it alone. 
So much as has now been said may, in my opinion, be 
contributed through the medium of a popular discourse 
to the solution of the question : Whence, since Being in 
itself must be absolutely One, without change or varia 
tion, and is evident to Thought as such, whence arises the 
mutability and change which is nevertheless encountered 
by actual Consciousness ? Being, in itself, is indeed One, 
the One Divine Being; and this alone is the true Reality in 
all Ex-istence, and so remains in all Eternity. By reflex 
ion, which in actual Consciousness is indissolubly united with 
Being, this One Being is broken up into an infinite variety 
of forms. This separation, as we said, is absolutely original, 
and in actual Consciousness can never be abolished nor 
superseded by anything else ; and therefore the visible 
forms which by this separation arc imposed upon, absolute 
Reality are discernible only in actual Consciousness, and so 
that in the act of observing them we assign to them life 
and endurance ; and they are by no means discoverable a 
priori to pure Thought. They are simple and absolute Ex 
perience, which is nothing but Experience ; which no Spec 
ulation that understands itself will ever attempt or desire to 
lay hold of; and indeed the substance of this Experience, 
with respect to each particular thing, is that which abso 
lutely belongs to it alone and is its individual character 
istic, that which in the whole infinite course of Time can 
never be repeated, arid which can never before have oc 
curred. But the general properties or attributes of these 
forms which are thus imposed upon the One Reality by its 
separation in Consciousness, with reference to their agree 
ment with which attributes, classes and species arise,- these 
may be discovered by a priori investigation of the different 
laws of reflexion, as we have already set forth its one fun- 


damental law ; and a systematic philosophy ought to do 
this, and must do it, in a complete and exhaustive manner. 
Thus may Matter in Space, Time, a fixed system of 
Worlds, how the substance of Consciousness, which in it 
self can be but One, divides itself into a system of separate 
and apparently independent individuals, thus, I say, may 
these and all things of this kind, be deduced with perfect 
clearness from the laws of reflexion. But these " investiga 
tions are more needful to the attainment of a fundamental 
insight into particular Sciences than to the development 
of a Blessed Life. They belong to the scientific teaching of 
Philosophy as its exclusive property ; and they are neither 
susceptible of popular exposition nor do they stand in need 
of it. Here, therefore, at this indicated point, lies the boun 
dary line which divides strict Science from popular teaching. 
We have, as you see, arrived at that limit ; and it may 
therefore be anticipated that our inquiry shall now gradual 
ly descend to those regions which, at least with respect to 
their objects, are familiar to us, and which we have even 
sometimes touched upon already. 

Besides the division, which we have set forth in to-day s 
lecture, of the World which arises in Consciousness from out 
the Divine Life, into a World of infinite variety and change, 
with reference to its form, by means of the fundamental 
law of reflexion ; there is yet another division, inseparably 
bound up with the first, of the same World, not into an In 
finite but into a Five-fold form, with reference to the pos 
sible modes of viewing it. We must set forth this second 
division, at least historically, and make you acquainted with 
it, which shall be done in our next lecture. It is only after 
these preparatory investigations that we shall be capable <st 
of comprehending for the first time the essential nature, as 
well as the outward manifestations, of the truly Blessed 
Life ; and, after we have so comprehended it, of seeing 
clearly that there is indeed true Blessedness within it, and 
what that Blessedness is. 







ACCORDING to what we have now seen, Blessedness consists 
in union with God, as the One and Absolute. We, however, 
in our unalterable nature, are but Knowledge, Kepresenta- 
tion, Conception ; and even in our union with the Infinite 
One, this, the essential form of our Being, cannot be ob 
literated. Even in our union with him he does not become 
our own Being; but he floats before us as something for 
eign to ourselves, something present there before us, to 
which we can only devote ourselves, clinging to him with 
earnest love ; He floats before us, as in himself without 
form or substance, without definite conception or know 
ledge on our part of his inward essential nature, but only as 
that through which alone we can think or comprehend 
either ourselves or our World. Neither after our union 
with God is the World lost to us ; it only assumes a new 
significance, and, instead of an independent existence such 
as it seemed to us before, it becomes only the Appearance 
and Manifestation, in Knowledge, of the Divine Life that 
lies hidden within itself. Gonprehend this once more as a 
whole : The Divine Ex-istence (Dnscyn}, his Ex-istence, 

M b 


I say, which, according to the distinction already laid down, 
is his Manifestation and Revelation of himself, is absolute 
ly through itself, and of necessity, LIGHT : namely, inward 
and spiritual Light. This Light, left to itself, separates and 
divides itself into an infinite multiplicity of individual rays ; 
and in this way, in these individual rays, becomes estranged 
from itself and its original source. But this same Light 
may also again concentrate itself from out this separation, 
and conceive and comprehend itself as One, as that which 
it is in itself, the Ex-istence and Revelation of God ; re 
maining indeed, even in this conception, that which it is in 
its form, Light ; but yet in this conception, and even by 
means of this very conception, announcing itself as having 
no real Being in itself, but as only the Ex-istence and Self- 
Manifestation of God. 

In our last two lectures, and more especially in the last 
of all, we made it our especial business to investigate this 
passage of the One, only possible, and unchangeable Being 
into another, and that other a manifold and changeable Be 
ing : so that we might be enabled to penetrate to the very 
transition-point of this change, and see its outgoing with 
our own eyes. We found the following : In the first place, 
by the essential character of Knowledge in the abstract, as 
a mere picture or representation, Being, which subsists alto 
gether independently of that Knowledge, and which in itself 
and in God is pure activity and Life, is changed into a de 
terminate and abiding being, or into a World. Jn the se 
cond place, besides this distinction, the World which, to 
mere abstract Knowledge, is simple and indivisible, is, by 
the fundamental law of reflexion, further characterized, 
formed, and moulded into a particular World, and indeed 
into an infinitely varied World, flowing onward in a never- 
ending stream of new and changing forms. . The insight 
thus to be attained was, in our opinion, indispensably ne 
cessary not only to Philosophy but also to Blessedness; since 
the latter dwells in man not as a mere instinct or obscure 
faith, but desires to be able to render an account to itself of 
its own origin and foundation. 


Tims far we had proceeded in our lust lecture ; and we 
intimated at its conclusion, that with this division of the 
World into an infinite multiplicity of forms, founded on a 
fundamental law of aU reflexion, there was inseparably con 
nected another division which we should, at this time, if 
not critically educe, at least historically set forth and de 
scribe. I do not here approach this new and second division, 
in its general character, more deeply than thus. In the 
first place, in its essential nature, it is different from the 
division which we set forth in our last lecture and have 
now again described, in so far as the latter immediately se 
parates and divides the very World itself which, in virtue of 
the mere abstract form of Knowledge, arises from out the 
Divine Life; while, on the contrary, that which we have 
now to consider does not immediately separate and divide 
the object itself, but only separates and divides reflexion 
on the object. The one is a separation and division in the 
object itself; the other is but a separation and division in 
the view taken of the object, not as in the former case, re 
vealing to us objects different in themselves, but only dif 
ferent modes of viewing, apprehending, and understanding 
the One abiding World. In the second place, it is not to 
be forgotten that neither of these two divisions can assume 
the place of the other, and that therefore they cannot sup 
plant or supersede each other; but that they are insepar 
able, and are therefore to be found together wherever re 
flexion, whose unchangeable forms they are, is to be found ; 
and that therefore the results of both inseparably accom 
pany each other and always proceed hand in hand. The 
result of the first division is, as we have shown in our pre 
vious lecture, Infinitude ; the result of the second is, as 
we also stated,a Quintitude ; and therefore the result of 
the inseparability of these two divisions is this, that this 
Infinity, which in itself remains entire and cannot be super 
seded, may yet be regarded in a Five-fold manner; and on 
the other hand, that each of the five possible views so taken 
of the World again divides the One World into an Infinite 
multiplicity of forms. And thus you may comprehend 


what we have now said in a single glance : To tlie spiritu 
al vision, that which in itself is the Divine Life becomes a 
thing seen, that is, a complete and present Ex-istence, or a 
World : which was the first point. This vision is always 
an act, named reflexion ; and by means of this act, partly 
as relating to its object the World, and partly as relating to 
itself, that World is divided into an infinite Quintentifcy, or, 
what is the same thing, into a five-fold Infinity : which 
was the second point. In order that we may, in the next 
place, proceed to the consideration of the second of these 
divisions, which is the proper object of to-day s lecture, let 
us now make, with regard to it, the following general re 
marks : 

This division, as we have said, presents no distinction in 
the object itself, but only a distinction, difference, and varie 
ty, in the view taken of the object. It seems to force it 
self upon the mind that this difference, not in the object 
itself but only in the view taken of the object the object 
itself meanwhile remaining the same can arise only from 
the obscurity or clearness, the depth or shallowness, the 
completeness or incompleteness of the view thus taken of 
the One unchanging World. And this is certainly the case : 
orj to connect this with something that I said before, il 
lustrating the one expression by the other and thus render 
ing both more intelligible, the five modes of viewing the 
World, now spoken of, are the same as those progressions 
which, in the third lecture, I named the various possible 
stages and grades of development of the inward Spiritual 
Lif 6j when I said that the progress of this free and con 
scious Spiritual Life, which in a peculiar sense belongs to 
us, follows the same course as the progress of Physical 
Death, and that the former as well as the latter begins in 
the remotest members, and thence only gradually advances 
to the central-point of the system. What I named the out 
works of the Spiritual Life, in the figure which I then em 
ployed, are, in our present representation of the matter, the 
lowest, darkest, and shallowest of the five possible modes of 
viewino- the World ; what I then named the nobler parts, 


and the heart, are liei e the higher and cleaver, ain t the 
highest and clearest, of these modes. 

But notwithstanding that, according to our former simile 
as well as our present representation, Man, after ho has 
rested for a time in a low view of the World and its signifi 
cance, does, even in the ordinary course of life and accord 
ing to established law, raise himself to a higher; yet, in the 
first place, it is not on that account to be denied, but on 
the contrary to be expressly held and maintained, that this 
manifold view of the World is a true and original distinc 
tion, at least in the capacities possessed by men of compre 
hending the World. Understand me thus : those higher 
views of the World have not their origin in Time, nor so 
that they are first engendered and made possible by views 
wholly opposed to them; but they arc from all Eternity in 
the unity of the Divine Existence as necessary determina 
tions of the One Consciousness even although no man 
should comprehend them; and no one who does comprehend 
them can invent them, or produce them by mere thought, 
but he can only perceive them, and appropriate them to 
himself. In the second place, this gradual progress is only 
the ordinary course of things, and only the established law, 
which however is by no means without exception. Some 
favoured and inspired men find themselves, as it were by 
miracle, without their own knowledge and through mere 
birth and instinct, placed at once on a higher standpoint 
from which to survey the World ; and these are as little 
understood by those around them, as they, on their part, are 
able to understand their contemporaries. Thus it has been, 
since the beginning of the world, with all Religious Teachers, 
Sages, Heroes, and Poets ; and through these everything 
great and good in the world has arisen. On the other hand, 
there are individuals, and, where the contagion has become 
very dangerous, whole ages with few exceptions, that by 
the same inexplicable instinct of nature are so imprisoned 
and rooted in the lowest view of things, that even the clear 
est and most evident instruction cannot induce them to 
raise their eyes even for a moment from the earth, and to 


apprehend anything whatever but that which they can di 
rectly lay hold of with their hands. 

So much in general as to the distinction we have indica 
ted in the modes of viewing the World ; and now to set 
forth the separate sections of this distinction. 

The First, lowest, shallowest, and most confused mode of 
viewing the World, is that wherein that only which is per 
ceptible to outward SENSE is regarded as the World and the 
actual existence therein, as the highest, true, and self-suffi 
cient existence. This view has been already sufficiently de 
picted in these lectures, particularly in the third, and, as it 
seems to me, clearly enough characterized ; and on that oc 
casion its worthlessness and superficiality were made abun 
dantly evident, although only by a glance at its surface. 
We admitted that this view was nevertheless that of our 
philosophers, and of the age that is formed in their schools ; 
but we showed at the same time that this view by no means 
proceeds from their logic since the very nature and possi 
bility of logic directly gives the lie to such a view but 
from their love. We cannot pause any longer at this point, 
for in these lectures we must proceed far beyond this, and 
therefore we must leave some things behind us as for ever 
abolished. Should any one, persisting in the testimony of 
his senses, continue to say : " But these things are obvi 
ously there, really and truly, for I see them there, and hear 
them," then let such an one know that we are not even 
disturbed by his confident assurance and inflexible faith ; 
but that we abide by our categorical, invincible, and abso 
lutely literal : " No, these things are not, precisely because 
they may be seen and heard," and that we can have no 
thing more to say to such a person, as one wholly incapable 
of understanding or instruction. 

The Second view, proceeding from the original division 
in the modes of viewing the World, is that wherein the 
World is regarded as a LAW OF ORDER and of equal rights in 
a system of reasonable beings. Let this be understood ex 
actly as I have said it. A Law, and indeed an ordering and 
equalizing Law addressed to the freedom of many, is to 


this view the peculiar, self-subsistent Reality; that by 
which the World arose, and in which it has its root. Should 
any one here wonder how a Law, which indeed, as such an 
one would say, is only a relation a mere abstract concep 
tion, can be regarded as an independent existence, the 
wonder of such an one can proceed only from his inability 
to comprehend anything as real except visible and palpable 
matter ; and thus he also belongs to that class to whom we 
have nothing to say. A Law, I say, is to this view of the 
World the first thing; that which alone truly is, and 
through which everything elso that exists first conies into 
existence. Freedom and a Human Race is to it the sec 
ond thing; which exists only because a Law that is ad 
dressed to freedom necessarily assumes the existence of 
freedom and of free beings ; and in this system the only 
foundation and proof of the independence of man is the Mo 
ral Law that reveals itself within him. A Sensible World, 
finally, is to it the third thing ; and this is only the sphere 
of the free action of man, and only exists because free ac 
tion necessarily assumes the existence of objects of such 
action. As to the sciences that arise out of this view, it 
may lay claim not only to Jurisprudence, as setting forth 
the legal relations of men, but also to the common doctrine 
of Morals, which merely goes the length of forbidding in 
justice between man and man, and merely rejects whatever 
is opposed to Duty whether forbidden by an express law of 
the State or not. Examples of this view of the World can 
not be adduced from common life, which, rooted in matter, 
does not raise itself even thus far; but, in philosophical 
literature, Kant is the most striking and consequential ex 
ample of this view, if we do not follow his philosophical 
career farther than the Critique of Practical Reason ; the 
peculiar character of this mode of thought, as we have ex 
pressed it above, namely, that the reality and indepen 
dence of man are evidenced only by the Moral Law that 
rules within him, and that only thereby does he become 
anything in himself, being expressed by Kant in the same 
words. We ourselves, too, have pointed out and investi- 


gated this view of the world, never indeed as the highest, 
but as the foundation of a Doctrine of Jurisprudence and a 
Doctrine of Morals in our treatment of these subjects ; and 
have there, as we are conscious, set it forth not without 
energy : and there can therefore be no lack of examples, 
in our own age, of this second view of the World, for those 
who take a closer interest in what has now been said. For 
the rest, the purely moral inward sentiment that man 
ought to act only in obedience to, and for the sake of, the 
L aw -which also enters into the sphere of this Lower Mo 
rality, and the inculcation of which has not been forgotten 
either by Kant or by us, does not belong to our present 
subject, where we have to do only with objective beliefs. 

One general remark, which is of importance for all our 
subsequent points of view, I shall adduce here as the place 
where it may be made with the greatest distinctness. This, 
namely : In order to have a firm standpoint for any view 
of the World, it is necessary that we should place the real 
and independent being and root of the World in one definite 
and unchangeable principle, from which we may be able to 
educe the others as only partaking in the reality of the first, 
and only assumed by reason of it ; just as we have already, 
when speaking of the second view of the World, educed the 
Human Race as a second element, and the Sensible World 
as a third, from the law of Moral Order as the first. But it 
is by no means allowable to mix and intermingle realities ; 
and, it may be, to ascribe to the Sensible World what is 
supposed to belong to it, at the same time not denying to- 
to the Moral World any of its rights ; as is sometimes at 
tempted by those who would get rid of these questions al 
together. Such persons have no settled view whatever, and 
no fixed direction of their spiritual eye, but they continually 
turn aside amid the Manifold. Far better than they, is he 
who holds firmly by the World of Sense, and denies the re 
ality of everything else but it ; for although he may be as 
short-sighted as the others, yet he is not at the same time 
so timid and spiritless. In a word : a higher view of the 
World does not tolerate the lower beside it ; but each high- 


3i step abolishes the lower as an absolute and highest stand 
point, and subordinates it to itself, 

The Third view of the World is that from the stand 
point of the True and HIGHER MOBALITY, It is necessary 
that we should render a very distinct account of this stand 
point, which is almost wholly unknown to the present 
age. To it also, as well as to the second of the views we 
have now described, a Law of the Spiritual World is the 
first, highest, and absolute reality; and herein these two 
views coincide. But the Law of the third view is not, like- 
that of the second, merely a Law of Order, regulating 1 pre 
sent existence; but rather a Creative Law, producing the 
new and hitherto non-existent, even within the circle of that 
which already exists. The former is merely negative, 
abolishing the opposition between diverse free powers, and 
establishing equilibrium and peace in its stead ; the latter 
desires to inform the powers, thus lulled to rest, with a new 
life. We may say that it strives, not like the former after 
the mere form of the Idea but, after the qualitative and real 
Idea itself. Its object may be briefly stated thus ; it seeks, 
in those whom it inspires, and through them in others, to 
make Humanity in deed, what it is in its original intention, 
the express image, copy, and revelation of the inward and 
essential Divine Nature. The process of deduction, by which 
this third view of the World arrives at reality, is therefore 
the following : To it, the only truly real and independent 
being is the Holy, the Good, the Beautiful ; the second is 
Humanity, as destined to be the manifestation of the first; 
the ordering Law in Humanity, as the third, is but the means 
of bringing it into internal and external peace for the fulfil 
ment of this its true vocation ; and finally, the World of 
Sense, as the fourth, is only the sphere both of the outward 
and inward, the lower and higher, Freedom and Morality ; 
only the sphere of Freedom, I say, that which it is to all 
the higher points of view, and thus remains, and can never 
assume to itself any other reality. 

Examples of this view in human history can be seen only 
by him who has an eye to discover them. Through the 

N b 


Higher Morality alone, and those who have been inspired 
by it, has Religion, and in particular the Christian Reli 
gion, Wisdom and Science, Legislation and Culture, Art, 
and all else that we possess of Good and Venerable, been 
introduced into the world. In Literature there are to be 
found, except in the Poets, but few scattered traces of this 
view : among the ancient Philosophers, Plato may have 
had some presentiment of it ; among the moderns, Jacobi 
sometimes touches upon this region. 

The Fourth view of the World is that from the stand 
point of RELIGION ; which, since it arises out of the third 
view which we have just described, and is conjoined with it, 
must be characterized as the clear knowledge and convic 
tion that this Holy, Good, and Beautiful, is by no means a 
product of our own spirit, light or thought, or of any other 
knowledge which in itself is nothing, but that it is the 
immediate manifestation in us of the inward Divine Na 
ture, as LIGHT ; his expression, his image, wholly, absolute 
ly, and without abatement, in so far as his essential Nature 
can come forth in an image or representation. This, the 
Religious view, is that same insight for the production of 
which we have prepared the way in our previous lectures, 
and which now, in the connexion of its principles, may be 
thus more precisely and definitely expressed: (1.) God alone 
is, and nothing besides him : a principle which, it seems to 
me, may be easily comprehended, and which is the indis 
pensable condition of all Religious insight. (2.) But while 
we thus say " God is," we have an altogether empty concep 
tion, furnishing absolutely no explanation of God s essential 
Nature. From this conception, what could we answer to 
the question : What then is God ? The only possible ad 
dition we could make to the axiom, this, namely, that he 
is absolutely, of himself, through himself, and in himself, 
this is but the fundamental form of our own understanding 
applied to him, and expresses no more than our mode of 
conceiving him ; and even that negatively and as we can 
not think of him, that is, we mean only that we cannot 
educe his being from another, as we are compelled by the 


nature of our understanding to do with all other objects of 
our thought. This conception of God is thus an abstract 
and unsubstantial conception; and when we say " God is," 
he is to us essentially nothing; and, by this very expres 
sion itself, is made nothing. (3.) But beyond this mere 
empty and unsubstantial conception, and as we have care 
fully set forth this matter above, God enters into us in his 
actual, true, and immediate LIFE ; or, to express it more 
strictly, we ourselves are this his immediate Life. But we 
are not conscious of this immediate Divine Life ; and since, 
as we have also already seen, our own Ex-istence that 
which properly belongs to us is that only which we can 
embrace in consciousness, so our Being in God, notwith 
standing that at bottom it is indeed ours, remains neverthe 
less for ever foreign to us, and thus, in deed and truth, to 
ourselves is not our Being ; we are in no respect the better 
of this insight, and remain as far removed as ever from God. 
We know nothing of this immediate Divine Life, I said ; 
for even at the first touch of consciousness it is changed in 
to a dead outward World, which a^ain divides itself into a 

* o 

five-fold form according to the point of view from which we 
regard it. Although it may be that it is God himself who 
ever lives behind all these varied forms, yet we see him not, 
but only his garment; we see him as stone, plant, animal, 
&c., or, if we soar higher, as Natural Law, or as Moral Law : 
but all this is yet not He. The form for ever veils the 
substance from us ; our vision itself conceals its object ; our 
eye stands in its own light. I say unto thee who thus corn- 
plainest : " Raise thyself to the standpoint of Religion, raid 
all these veils are drawn aside ; the World, with its dead 
principle, disappears from before thee, and the God-head 
once more enters and resumes its place within thee, in its 
first and original form, as LIFE, as thine own Life, which 
thou oughtest to live, and shalt live. Still the one, irrever 
sible form of Reflexion remains, the Infinitude, in thee, 
of this Divine Life, which, in God himself, is but One ; but 
this form troubles thee not, for thou desirest it and lovest 
it ; it does not mislead thee, for thou art able to explain it. 


In that which the Holy Man does, lives, and loves, God ap 
pears, no longer surrounded by shadows nor hidden by a 
garment, but in his own, immediate, and efficient Life ; and 
the question which is unanswerable from the mere empty 
and unsubstantial conception of God, " What is God ? "is 
here answered : " He is that which he who is devoted to 
him and inspired by him does." Wouldst thou behold God 
face to face, as he is in himself ? Seek him not beyond the 
skies; thou canst find him wherever thou art. Behold the 
life of his devoted ones, and thou beholdest him; resign 
thyself to him, and thou wilt find him within thine own 

This, my friends, is the view of the World and of Being, 
from the standpoint of Eeligion. 

The Fifth and last view of the World is that from the 
standpoint of SCIENCE. Of Science, I say, One, Abso 
lute, and Self-complete. Science thoroughly comprehends 
all these points of the transition of the One into a Manifold, 
and of the Absolute into a Relative, in their order and in 
their relations to each other ; being able, in every case, and 
from each individual point of view, to carry back that Mul 
tiplicity to its primitive Unity, or to deduce from the origi 
nal Unity that Multiplicity of form : as we have laid before 
you the general characteristics of such Science in this and 
our two preceding lectures. Science goes beyond the insight 
into the fact that the Manifold is assuredly founded on the 
One and is to be referred to it, which is given to us by Reli- 

gion, to the insight into the manner of this fact ; and to it, 

that becomes a genetic principle which to Religion is but 
an absolute fact. Religion without Science is a mere Faith, 
although an immovable Faith; Science supersedes all 
Faith, and changes it into sight. We do not, however, ad 
duce here this Scientific standpoint as properly belonging 
to our present inquiry, but only for the sake of complete 
ness ; and therefore it is sufficient at present to add the fol 
lowing respecting it : Science is not indeed a condition of 
the Divine and Blessed Life ; but nevertheless this Life de 
mands of us that we should realise this Science, in ourselves 

LECTURE V. 4(i1 

and in others, within the region of the Higher Morality. 
The true and complete Man ought to be thoroughly clear 
in himself; for universal and complete clearness belongs to 
the image and representative of God. But, on the other 
hand, no one can make this demand upon himself in whom 
it has not already been fulfilled without his own aid, and has 
thereby itself become already clear and intelligible to him. 

We have yet to make the following remarks on the five 
points of view which we have now indicated, and thus to 
complete our picture of the Religious Man. 

Both of the two last-mentioned points of view, the Scien 
tific as well as the Religious, are only percipient and con 
templative, not in themselves active and practical They 
are merely inert and passive moods, which abide within the 
mind itself; not impulses moving towards action, and so 
bursting forth into life. On the contrary, the third point of 
view, that of the Higher Morality, is practical, impelling to 
wards action. And now I add : True Religion, notwith 
standing that it raises the view of those who are inspired by 
it to its own region, nevertheless retains their Life firmly 
within the domain of action, and of right moral action. The 
true and real Religious Life is not alone percipient and con 
templative, does not merely brood over devout thoughts, but 
is essentially active. It consists, as we have seen, in the in 
timate consciousness that God actually lives, moves, and 
perfects his work in us. If therefore there is in us no real 
Life, if no activity and no visible work proceed forth from 
us, then is God not active in us. Our consciousness of union 
with God is then deceptive and vain, and the empty shadow 
of a condition that is not ours; perhaps the vague but life 
less insight that such a condition is possible, and in others 
may be actual, but that we ourselves have, nevertheless, not 
the least portion in it. We are expelled from the domain 
of Reality, and again banished to that of vain and empty 
conception. The latter is Fanaticism and idle dreaming, be 
cause it answers to no Reality; and this fanaticism is one 
of the faults of that system of Mysticism which we have 
elsewhere described, and contrasted with the True Religion : 


it is by living activity that the True Religious Life is dis 
tinguished from this Fanaticism. Religion does not consist 
in mere devout dreams, I said : Religion is not a business 
by and for itself, which a man may practise apart from his 
other occupations, perhaps on certain fixed days and hours ; 
but it is the inmost spirit that penetrates, inspires, and per 
vades all our Thought and Action, which in other respects 
pursue their appointed course without change or interrup 
tion. That the Divine Life and Energy actually lives in us, 
is inseparable from Religion, I said. But this does not de 
pend upon the sphere in which we act, as may have become 
evident from what we said when speaking of the third point 
of view. He whose knowledge extends to the objects of the 
Higher Morality, if he be animated by Religion, will live 
and act in this sphere, because this is his peculiar calling. 
But to him who has only a lower vocation, even it may be 
sanctified by Religion, and will receive thereby, if not the 
material, yet the form of the Higher Morality ; to which 
nothing more is essential than that we should recognise and 
love our vocation as the Will of God with us and in us. If 
a man till his field in this Faith, or practise the most un 
pretending handicraft with this truthfulness, he is higher 
and more blessed than if, without this Faith, if that were 
possible, he should confer happiness and prosperity upon 
mankind for ages to come. 

This then is the picture the inward spirit of the true 
Religious man : He does not conceive of his World, the 
object of his love and his endeavour, as something for him 
to enjoy ; not as if melancholy and superstitious fear 
caused him to look upon enjoyment and pleasure as some 
thing sinful, but because he knows that no such pleasure 

o y * 

can yield him true joy. He conceives of it as a World of 
Action, which, because it is his World, he alone creates, 
in which alone he can live, and find enjoyment of himself. 
This Action again he does not will for the sake of a result in 
the World of Sense ; he is in no respect anxious about the 
result or no-result that may ensue, for he lives only in Ac 
tion, as Action; but he wills it, because it is the Will of 


God in him, and his own proper portion in Being. And so 
does his Life flow onwards, simple and pure, knowing, will 
ing, and desiring nothing else than this, never wandering 
from this centre, neither moved nor troubled by aught ex 
ternal to itself. 

Such is his Life. Whether this be not of necessity the 
most pure and perfect Blessedness, we shall inquire at an 
other time. 






OUR whole Doctrine, as the foundation of all that we have 
yet to say at this time, and generally of all that we can 
say at any time, is now clearly and distinctly set forth, and 
may be surveyed at a single glance. There is absolutely 
no Being and no Life beyond the immediate Divine Life. 
According to the essential and irreversible laws of Con- 


sciousness, laws which are founded in the very nature of 
Consciousness itself, this Being is veiled and darkened in 
Consciousness by manifold concealments; but, freed from 
these disguises, and modified only by the form of Infinitude, 
it reappears in the life and actions of the God-inspired man. 
In his actions it is not man who acts ; but God himself, in 
his primitive and inward Being and Nature, acts and ful 
fils his work in Man. 

I said, in one of the first and introductory lectures, that 
this doctrine, however new and unheard of it may seem to 
this age, is nevertheless as old as the world ; and that, in 
particular, it is the doctrine of Christianity, as this, even to 
the present day, lies before our view in its purest and most 
excellent record, the Gospel of John ; and that this doctrine 
is there set forth with the very same images and expres 
sions which we here employ. It may be well, in many re- 


spects, to make good that statement, and to this purpose 
we shall devote the present lecture. It will be understood, 
even without a, special declaration on our part, that we by 
no means intend to prove our doctrine, or even to add to 
it an outward support,, by demonstrating this harmony be 
tween it and Christianity. It must already, by what we 
have previously said, have proved itself, and that with abso 
lute evidence, and it needs no further support. And in 
the same way must Christianity, as in harmony with Rea 
son, and as the pure and perfect expression of this Reason, 
beyond which there is no truth, so, I say, must Christiani 
ty prove itself, if it is to lay claim to validity and accept 
ance. It is not by philosophers that you need fear to be 
led back again into the chains of blind authority. 

In my lectures of last winter,* I have distinctly an 
nounced the grounds upon which I regard the Apostle John 
as the only teacher of true Christianity : namely, that the 
Apostle Paul and his party, as the authors of the opposite 
system of Christianity, remained half Jews, and left unal 
tered the fundamental error of Judaism as well as of Hea 
thenism, which we must afterwards notice. For the present 
the following may be enough : It is only with John that 
the philosopher can < leal, for he alone has respect for Rea 
son, and appeals to that evidence which alone has weight 
with the philosopher the internal. " If any man will do 
the will of him that sent me, he shall know of the doctrine, 
whether it be of God." But this Will of God, according to 
John, is that we should truly believe in God, and in Jesus 
Christ whom he hath sent. The other promulgators of 
Christianity, however, rely upon the external evidence of 
Miracle, which to us at least, proves nothing. Further, of 
the four Gospels, only that of John contains what we seek 
and desire, a Doctrine of Religion ; while, on the contrary, 
the best that the others offer to us, without completion and 
explanation by John, amounts to nothing more than Mo 
rality ; which to us has but a very subordinate value. As 

* " Characteristics of the Present Age," Lecture VII. 



to the assertion that John had the other Evangelists before 
him, and only designed to supply what they had omitted, 
we shall not here inquire into it ; should that be the case, 
then, in our opinion, the supplement is the best part of the 
whole, and John s predecessors had passed over that precise 
ly which was of essential importance. 

As to the principle of interpretation which I apply to 
this as well as to all the other authors of the Christian 
Scriptures, it is the following ; So to understand them as 
if they had really desired to say something, and, so far as 
their words permit, as if they had said what is right and 
true : a principle that seems to be in accordance with jus 
tice and fairness. But we are wholly opposed to the her- 
meneutical principle of a certain party, according to which 
the most earnest and simple expressions of these writers a/e 
regarded as mere images and metaphors, and thus explained 
and re-explained away, until the result is a flat and insipid 
triviality such as these interpreters might themselves have 
discovered and brought forward. Other means of interpre 
tation than those contained in themselves seem to me inad 
missible in the case of these writers, and particularly in the 
case of John. Where, as in the case of the profane authors 
of classical antiquity, we can compare several contemporary 
writers with each other, and all of them with a preceding 
and succeeding republic of letters, there is room for the em 
ployment of external aids. But Christianity, and particu 
larly John, stands alone and isolated, as a wonderful and 
inexplicable phenomenon of Time, without precedent and 
without succedent. 

In what we shall set forth as the substance of the Johan- 
nean doctrine, we must carefully distinguish between that 
in it which is true in itself, true absolutely and for all time, 
and that which has been true only for the standpoint of 
John and the Jesus whom he announces, and for their time 
and circumstances. This latter, too, we shall faithfully set 
forth ; for any other mode of interpretation than this is not 
only dishonest, but leads to perplexity and confusion. 

The portion of the Gospel of John which must necessarily 


attract our attention at the very outset is the dogmatic in 
troduction which occupies a part of the first chapter ; as it 
were the preface. Do not regard this preface as a special 
and arbitrary philosopheme of the author himself, a specu 
lative prelude to his historical narrative, of which, holding 
only to the facts themselves, we may, according to the pro 
per intention of the author, adopt whatever opinion we 
please ; as some appear to regard this proem. It is much 
rather to be considered in relation to the whole Gospel, and 
to be understood only in that connexion. Throughout the 
whole Gospel, the author represents Jesus as speaking of 
himself in a certain manner, which AVC shall afterwards ad 
vert to ; and it is without doubt the conviction of John that 
Jesus did speak precisely in this way and in no other, and 
that he had heard him thus speak ; and it seems to be his 
earnest desire that we .should believe him in this. Now the 
preface explains how it was possible that Jesus could think 
and speak of himself as he did : and it is therefore neces 
sarily assumed by John that not only he himself, and ac 
cording to his own mere personal opinion, so regarded Jesus 
and would so interpret him, but that Jesus had likewise re 
garded himself in the same way in which he is here depic 
ted. The preface is to be taken as the essence, the general 
standpoint, of all the discourses of Jesus ; it has, therefore, 
in the view of the author, the same authority as these dis 
courses themselves. In the sight of John, this preface is 
not his own doctrine but that of Jesus, and indeed is the 
spirit, the innermost root, of the whole doctrine of Jesus. 

Having thus clearly set forth this not-unimportant point, 
let us proceed, by the following preliminary remark, to the 
subject itself. 

The notion of a creation, as the essentially fundamental 
error of all false Metaphysics and Religion, and, in particu 
lar, as the radical principle of Judaism and Heathenism, 
arises from ignorance of the doctrine which we have pre 
viously laid down. Compelled to recognise the absolute 
unity and unchangeableness of the Divine Nature in itself, 
and being unwilling to give up the independent and real 


existence of finite things, they made the latter proceed from 
the former by an act of absolute and arbitrary power; 
whereby, in the first place, the fundamental conception of 
Godhead was utterly destroyed, and an arbitrary power es 
tablished in its room, an error that ran through the whole 
of their religious system ; and, in the second place, Reason 
was for ever preverted, and Thought changed into a dream of 
fancy, for of such a creation it is impossible even to conceive 
rightly in Thought what can properly be called Thought 
and no man ever did so conceive of it. In relation to the 
doctrine of Religion, in particular, the supposition of a crea 
tion is the first criterion of the falsehood, and the denial 
of such a creation, should it have been set up by any pre 
vious system, is the first criterion of the truth, of such a 
Doctrine of Religion. Christianity, and especially the pro 
found teacher of it of whom we now speak, John, stood in 
the latter position ; the existing Jewish Religion had set 
up such a creation. " In the beginning God created" thus 
do the Sacred Books of this Religion commence : " No," 
in direct contradiction to this, and setting out with the very 
same words, in order more distinctly to mark the contradic 
tion, but instead of the second and false expression giving 
the truth in its place, "No," said John "In the begin 
ning," in the same beginning that is there spoken of, that 
is, originally and before all time, God did not create, for no 
creation was needed, but there was already ; " In. the be 
ginning was the Word, . . . and through it are all things 
made that are made." 

In the beginning was the Word, in the original text, the 
Logos ; which might also be translated Reason, or, as 
nearly the same idea is expressed in the book called the 
Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom ; but which, in our opinion, 
is most exactly rendered by the expression "the Word," 
as it also stands in the oldest Latin version, doubtless in 
consequence of a tradition of the disciples of John. What 
then, according to the view of our author, is this Logos, or 
Word ? Let us not cavil too nicely about the expression, 
but rather candidly note what John says of this Word : 

LECTURE vi. 409 

the predicates applied to a subject usually determine the 
nature of the subject itself, especially when they are applied 
to that subject exclusively. He says, that the Word was 
in the beginning ; that the Word was with God ; that God 
himself was the Word; that the Word was in the begin 
ning with God. AYas it possible for him to express more 
clearly the doctrine which we have previously taught in such 
words as the following : Besides God s inward and hidden 
Being in himself (Seyn), which we are able to conceive of in 
Thought, he has besides an Ex-istence (Daseyri), which we 
can only practically apprehend ; but yet this Ex-istence ne 
cessarily arises through his inward and absolute Being it 
self : and his Ex-istence, which is only by us distinguished 
from his Being, is, in itself and in him, not distinguished 
from his Being ; but this Ex-istence is originally, before all 
time, and independently of all time, with his Being, insepar 
able from his Being, and itself his Being : the Word in the 
begijming, the Word with God, the Word in the begin 
ning with God, God himself the Word, and the Word it 
self God ? Was it possible for him to set forth more dis 
tinctly and forcibly the ground of this proposition: that 
in God, and from God, there is nothing that arises or be 
comes ; but that in him there is but an " Is," an Eternal 
Present; and that whatever has Existence must be original 
ly with him, and must be himself? "Away with that per 
plexing phantasm !" might the Evangelist have added, had 
he wished to multiply words ; " away with that phantasm 
of a creation from God of something that is not in himself 

and has not been eternally and necessarily in himself! an 

emanation in which he is not himself present but forsakes 
his work ; an expulsion and separation from him that casts 
us out into desolate nothingness, and makes him our arbi 
trary and hostile lord !" 

This " Being with God," or, according to our expression, 
this his Ex-istence, is farther characterized as the Logos or 
Word. How was it possible more clearly to declare that it 
was his spiritual expression, his self-evident and intelligible 
Revelation and Manifestation ? or, as we have given utter- 


ance to the same idea, that the immediate Ex-istence (Da- 
seyn) of G-od is necessarily Consciousness, partly of itself, 
partly of God ? for which proposition we have adduced the 
clearest proof. 

If this be now evident in the first place, then there is no 
longer the slightest obscurity in the assertion contained in 
verse 3, that " all things are made through it ; and without 
it is not anything made that is made, &c. ;" and this pro 
position is wholly equivalent to that which we propounded : 
that the World and all things exist only in Conception, 
according to John, in the Word, and only as objects of 
Conception and Consciousness, as God s spontaneous expres 
sion of himself; and that Conception, or the Word, is the 
only Creator of the World, and, by means of the principle of 
separation contained in its very nature, the Creator of the 
manifold and infinite variety of things in the World. 

In fine : I would express these three verses in my own 
language, thus ; The Ex-istence (Daseyn) of God is origi 
nal and underived like his Being (Seyn) ; the latter is in 
separable from the former, and is indeed in all respects the 
same as the former; this Divine Ex-istence, in its sub 
stance, is necessarily Knowledge ; and in this Knowledge 
alone has a World, and all things present in the World, 

In like manner the two succeeding verses are now clear 
to us. In him, in this immediate Divine Ex-istence, was 
Life, the deepest root of all living, substantial Existence, 
which nevertheless remains for ever concealed from view ; 
and in actual men this Life is Light, or conscious Reflexion; 
and this one, eternal, primitive Light shines for ever in the 
Darkness of the lower and obscure grades of Spiritual Life, 
supports and maintains these in existence, itself unnoticed, 
and the Darkness comprehends it not. 

So far as we have now proceeded in our interpretation of 
the proem to the Johannean Gospel, we have met only with 
what is absolutely and eternally true. At this point begins 
that which possesses validity only for the time, for Jesus 
and the establishment of Christianity, and for the necessary 


standpoint of Christ and his Apostles; namely the histori 
cal, not in any way metaphysical proposition, that this abso 
lute and immediate Existence of God, the Eternal Know 
ledge or Word, pure and undefiled as it is in itself, without 
any admixture of impurity or darkness, or any merely indi 
vidual limitation, manifested itself in a personal, sensible, 
and Human Existence, namely in that Jesus of Nazareth, 
who at a certain particular time appeared teaching and 
preaching in the land of Judea, and whose most remarkable 
expressions are here recorded, and in him, as the Evange 
list has well expressed it, became flesh. As to the differ 
ence, as well as the agreement, of these two standpoints, 
that of the absolutely and eternally true, and that which is 
true only from the temporary point of view of Jesus and his 
Apostles, it stands thus. From the first standpoint, the 
Eternal Word becomes flesh, assumes a personal, sensible, 
and h uman existence, without obstruction or reserve, in all 
times, and in every individual man who has a living insight 
into this Unity with God, and who actually and in truth 
gives up his personal life to the Divine Life within him, 
precisely in the same way as it became incarnate in Jesus 
Christ. This truth, which, be it observed, speaks only of 
the possibility of being, without reference to the means of its 
actual attainment, is neither denied by John nor by the 
Jesus to whose teachings he introduces us ; but on the con 
trary, they insist upon it everywhere in the most express 
terms, as we shall afterwards see. The peculiar and exclusive 
standpoint of Christianity, which has validity only for the 
disciples of that system, looks to the means of attaining this 
True Being, and teaches us thus regarding them ; Jesus 
of Nazareth, absolutely by and through himself, by virtue 
of his mere existence, nature or instinct, without deliberate 
art, and without guidance or direction, is the perfect sen 
sible manifestation of the Eternal Word, as no one whatever 
has been before him ; while those who become his disciples 
are as yet not so, since they still stand in need of its mani 
festation in him, but they must first become so through 
him. This is the characteristic dogma of Christianity, as a 


phenomenon of Time, as a temporary form of the religious 
culture of man, in which dogma, without doubt, Jesus and 
his Apostles believed : set forth purely, brightly, and in the 
highest sense, in the Gospel of John, to whom Jesus of Naza 
reth is indeed the Christ, the called Saviour of Mankind, but 
only in virtue of this Christ being to him the Word made 
flesh; in Paul and the others, mixed up with Jewish dreams 
of a Son of David, an abolisher of an Old Covenant, and a 
mediator of a New. Everywhere, but particularly in John, 
Jesus is the first-born, and only-begotten Son of the Father, 
not as an emanation or anything else of that kind, these 
irrational dreams arose only at a later period, but in the 
sense above explained, in eternal unity and equality of na 
ture ; and all other men can become children of God only 
mediately through Jesus, and by means of a transformation 
into his nature. Let us, in the first place, distinctly recog 
nise this ; for otherwise we shall partly interpret Christiani 
ty dishonestly, and partly not understand it at ah 1 , but only 
be led into perplexity and confusion. Let us, therefore, at 
least endeavour rightly to apprehend and judge of this point 
of view, which must remain open to every one, it being of 
course distinctly understood that we ourselves have no in 
tention of adopting it here. With reference to this matter, 
then, I remark (1.) An insight into the absolute unity of the 
Human Existence with the Divine is certainly the profound- 
est knowledge that man can attain. Before Jesus, this 
knowledge had nowhere existed ; and since his time, we 
may say down even to the present day, it has been again as 
good as rooted out and lost, at least in profane literature. 
Jesus, however, was evidently in possession of this insight ; 
as we shall incontestibly find, were it only in the Gospel of 
John, as soon as we ourselves attain it. How then came 
Jesus by this insight? That any one coming after him, 
when the truth had already been revealed, should again dis 
cover it, is not so great a wonder ; but how the first dis 
coverer, separated from centuries before him and centuries 
after him by the exclusive possession of this insight, did at 
tain to it, this is an exceeding great wonder. And so it is 

LECTURE vi. 473 

in fact true, what is maintained iu the first part of the 
Christian Dogma, that Jesus of Nazareth is, in a wholly pe 
culiar manner, attributable to no one but him, the only-be 
gotten and first-born Son of God ; and that all ages, which 
are capable of understanding him at all, must recognise him 
in this character. (2.) Although it be true, that in the pre 
sent day, a man may re-discover this doctrine in the writ 
ings of Christ s Apostles, and for himself and by means of 
his own conviction recognise it as the Truth ; although it 
be true, as we likewise maintain, that the philosopher, so far 
as he knows, discovers the same truths altogether indepen 
dently of Christianity, and surveys them in a consequenti 
ally and universal clearness in which they are not delivered, 
to us at least, by means of Christianity; yet it nevertheless 
remains certain, that we, with our whole age and with all 
our philosophical inquiries, are established on and have pro 
ceeded from Christianity; that this Christianity has en 
tered into our whole culture in the most varied forms ; and 
that, on the whole, we might have been nothing of all that 

t_* O 

we are, had not this mighty principle gone before us in 
Time. We can cast off no portion of the being that we 
have inherited from earlier ages; and no intelligent man 
will trouble himself with inquiries as to what would be, if 
that which is, had not been. And thus also the second part 
of the Christian Dogma, that all those who, since Jesus, 
have come into union with God, have done so through him, 
and by means of his union with God,- is likewise unques 
tionably true. And thus it is confirmed in every way, that, 
even to the end of Time, all wise and intelligent men must 
bow themselves reverently before this Jesus of Nazareth ; and 
that the more wise, intelligent and noble they themselves are, 
the more humbly will they recognise the exceeding nobleness 
of this great and glorious manifestation of the Divine Life. 

So much to guard the view of Christianity which pos 
sesses but temporary validity against false and unfair judg 
ment where this may naturally be anticipated ; but by no 
means to force this view upon any one who either has not 
directed his attention to the historical side of the matter, or 



who, even if he have investigated that side of it, has been 
unable to discover there what we think we have found, 
Therefore, by what we have now said, we by no means wish 
to be understood as joining ourselves to the party of those 
Christians to whom things have a value only on account of 
the name they bear. The Metaphysical only, and not the 
Historical, can give us Blessedness ; the latter can only give 
us understanding. If any man be truly united with God, 
and dwell in him, it is altogether an indifferent thing how- 
he may have reached this state ; and it would be a most 
useless and perverse employment, instead of living in the 
thing, to be continually repeating over our recollections of 
the way toward it. Could Jesus return into the world, we 
might expect him to be thoroughly satisfied if^he found 
Christianity actually reigning in the minds of men, whether 
his merit in the work were recognised or overlooked ; and 
this is, in fact, the very least that might be expected from a 
man who, while he lived on earth, sought not his own glory 
but the glory of him who sent him. 

Now that, by means of distinguishing these two stand 
points, we possess the key to all the expressions of the Jo- 
hannean Jesus, and the certain means of referring back 
whatever is clothed in a merely temporary form to its origi 
nal source in pure and absolute Truth, let us comprise the 
substance of these expressions in the answer to these two 
questions :(!.) What does Jesus say of himself, regarding 
his relation to the Godhead ? and (2.) What does he^say of 
his disciples and followers, regarding their relation, in the 
first place to himself, and then, through him, to the God 
head ? 

Chap. 1. verse 18 "No man hath seen God at any 
time ; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of 
the Father, he hath declared him :" or, as we have 
said : The essential Divine Nature, in itself, is hid 
den from us ; only in the form of Knowledge does it 
come forth into manifestation, and that altogether as 
it is in itself. 
Chap. T. verse 19" The Son can do nothing of him- 


self, but what he seeth the Father do; for what 
things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son 
likewise :" or, as we have expressed it, his separate 
independent life is swallowed up in the life of God. 
Chap. X. verses 27, 28 "My sheep hear my voice, and 
I know them, and they follow me : and I give unto 
them eternal life ; and they shall never perish, nei 
ther shall any pluck them out of my hand." Ver. 
29. " My Father who gave them me, is greater than 
all ; and none is able to pluck them out of my Fa 
ther s hand." Who is it then, it may be asked, who 
holds and keeps them, Jesus or the Father? The 
answer is given in verse 30 : " I and my Father are 
one :" that is to say, the same;- identical principles 
in both. His life is my life, and mine is his ; my 
work is his work, and his is mine; precisely as we 
have expressed ourselves in our preceding lecture. 

So much for the clearest and most convincing passages. 
The whole Gospel speaks in the same terms on this point, 
uniformly and with one voice. Jesus speaks of himself in 
no other way than this. 

But further, how 7 does Jesus speak of his followers, and of 
their relation to him ? He constantly assumes that, in 
their actual condition, they have not the true life in them, 
but, as he expresses it in Chap. III. with reference to Nico- 
demus, must receive a wholly different life, as much op 
posed to their present life as if an entirely new man should be 
born in their stead : or, where he expresses himself with 
the strictest precision, that they have not, properly speak 
ing, either existence or life, but are sunk in death and the 


grave, and that it is he who must first give them life. 
On this point, consider the following decisive passages : 
Chap. VI. verse 53 " Except ye eat my flesh and drink 
my blood," (this expression will be afterwards ex 
plained), " ye have no life in you :" Only by means 
of thus eating my flesh and drinking my blood is 
there aught in you; without this there is nothing. 


Chap .V. verse 24 " He that heareth my word," &c. 
" hath everlasting life, and is passed from death unto 
life. " Verse 25 " The hour is coming, and now is, 
when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of 
God; and they that hear shall live." The dead! Who 
are these dead? Those who are to lie in their graves 
till the last day ? A coarse, crude interpretation ; 
in Scriptural language, an interpretation according to 
the flesh, and not according to the spirit. The hour 
was even then : they themselves were the dead who 
had not yet heard his voice, and even on that ac 
count were dead. 

And what is this life, that Jesus promises to give his fol 
lowers ? 

Chap. VIII. verse 51 " Verily, verily, I say unto you, 
If a man keep my word, he shall never see death," 
not as dull expositors take it ; " he shall indeed 
once die, only not for ever, but he shall again be a- 
wakened at the last day," but " he shall never die:" 
as the Jews actually understood it, and attempted to 
refute Jesus by an appeal to the death of Abraham, 
while he justified their interpretation by declaring 
that Abraham, who had seen his day, who had, 
doubtless through Melchisedek, been initiated into 
his doctrine, w r as actually not dead. 
Or yet more distinctly, 

Chapter XI. verse 23 " Thy brother shall rise again. 
Martha " (whose head was filled with Jewish notions) 
" saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in 
the resurrection at the last day." No, said Jesus 
" I am the Resurrection and the Life : he that be- 
lieveth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; 
and whosoever liveth, and believeth in me, shall 
never die." Union with me is union with the Eter 
nal God and his Life, and the certain assurance 
thereof; so that in every moment of time, he who is 
so united with me, is in complete possession of Eter 
nity, and places no faith whatever in the fleeting and 


illusive phenomena of a birth and a death in Time, 
and therefore needs no re-awakening as a deliverance 
from a death in which he does not believe. 

And whence has Jesus this power of giving Eternal Life 
to his followers ? From his absolute identity with God. 
Chap. V. verse 26 " As the Father hath life in himself, so 
hath he given to the Son to have life in himself." 

Further, in what way do the followers of Jesus become 
partakers of this identity of his Life with the Divine Life? 
Jesus declares this in the most manifold and varied ways, 
of which I shall here adduce only the most clear and for 
cible, those which, precisely on account of their absolute 
clearness, have been the most completely unintelligible and 
offensive, both to his contemporaries and to their descen 
dants even to the present day. Chap. VI. verses 53-55 
" Except ye eat the flesh of the %k- Son of Man, and drink 
his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, 
and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life. For my flesh is 
meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed." What does 
this mean ? He explains himself at v. 56 " He that eateth 
my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in 
him," or, reversing the expression, He that dwelleth in me 
and I in him, he hath eaten my flesh, &c. To eat his flesh, 
and drink his blood, means to become wholly and entirely 
he himself; to become altogether changed into his person 
without reserve or limitation ; to be a faithful repetition 
of him in another personality ; to be transubstantiated 
with him, i. e. as he is the Eternal Word made flesh and 
blood, to become his flesh and blood, and what follows from 
that, and indeed is the same thing- to become the very 
Eternal Word made flesh and blood itself; to think wholly 
and entirely like him, and so as if he himself thought, and 
not we ; to live wholly and entirely like him, and so as if 
he himself lived in our life. As surely as you do not now 
attempt to drag clown my own words, and reduce them to 
the narrow meaning that Jesus is only to be imitated, as an 
unattainable pattern, partially and at a distance, as far as 
human weakness will allow, but accept them in the sense in 


which I have spoken them, that we must be transformed 
into Christ himself, so surely will it become evident to you 
that Jesus could not well have expressed himself otherwise, 
and that he actually did express himself excellently well. 
Jesus was very far from representing himself as that unat 
tainable ideal into which he was first transformed by the 
spiritual poverty of after-ages ; nor did his Apostles so re 
gard him: among the rest Paul, who says: " I live not, 
but Christ liveth in me." Jesus desired that he should be 
repeated in the persons of his followers, in his complete and 
undivided character, as he was in himself; and indeed he 
demanded this absolutely, as an indispensable condition of 
discipleship : Except ye eat my flesh, &c., ye have no life 
whatever in you, but ye abide in the graves wherein I found 

Only this one thing he demanded : not more, and not 
less. He did not, by any means, propose to rest satisfied 
with the mere historical belief that he was the Eternal 
Word made flesh, the Christ, for which he gave himself 
out. He certainly did demand, even according to John, as 
a preliminary condition, only to secure attention and con 
sideration to his teachings he did demand Faith, that is, 
the previous admission of the possibility that he might be 
indeed this Christ; and he even did not disdain to facilitate 
and strengthen this admission by means of striking and 
wonderful works which he performed. But the final and 
decisive proof, which was first to be made possible through 
the preliminary admission or Faith, was this : that a man 
should actually do the will of him who had sent Jesus, 
that is, in the sense we have explained, should eat his flesh 
and drink his blood, whereby he should then know of the 
doctrine, that it was from God, and that he spake not of 
himself. As little is his discourse of faith in his expiatory 
merits. According to John, Jesus is indeed a Lamb of God 
that taketh away the sins of the world ; but by no means 
one who with his blood appeases an angry God. He takes 
them away : According to his doctrine, man does not exist 
at all out of God and him, but is dead and buried ; he does 


not even enter into the Spiritual Kingdom of God : how 
then can this poor, non-existent shadow introduce dissen 
sion into this Kingdom, and disturb tho Divine Plan ? But 
he who is transformed into the likeness of Jesus, and there 
by into that of God, he no longer lives himself, but God 
lives in him ; but how can God sin against himself? Thus 
has he borne away and destroyed the Avhole delusion cf sin, 
and the dread of a Godhead that could feel itself offended 
by men. Finally, if any man in this way should repeat the 
character of Jesus in his own person, what then, according 
to the doctrine of Jesus, is tho result ? Thus does Jesus, in 
the presence of his disciples, call upon his Father : Chap. 
XVII. verse 20 " Neither pray I for these alone, but for 
them also which shall believe on me through their word ; 
that they all may be one ; as thou, Father, art in me, and I 
in thee, that they also may be one in us." One in us. 
Now, according to this consummation, all distinctions are 
laid aside ; the whole community the first-born of all, with 
his more immediate followers, and with all those who are 
born in later days here merge together into one common 
source of all life the Godhead. And thus, as we have 
maintained above, does Christianity, assuming its purpose 
to be attained, again fall into harmony with the Absolute 
Truth, and itself maintain that every man may and ought 
to come into unity with God, and himself, in his own per 
son, become the Divine Ex-istence, or the Eternal Word. 

And thus it is proved that the doctrine of Christianity, 
even in the system of images under which it represents Life 
and Death, and all that flows therefrom, is in strict harmo 
ny with that doctrine which we have set forth to you in our 
previous lectures, and have combined into one single view 
at the beginning of to-day s discourse. 

In conclusion, listen once more to that with which I 
closed my last lecture, but now in the words of the same 
Apostle John. 

Thus he combines, doubtless with reference to his Gos 
pel, the practical results of the whole : Epistle I. Chap. I. 
" That which was from the beginning, which we have heard 


which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked 
upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of Life." 
Do you observe how anxious he is to appear, not as having 
given forth his own thoughts in his Gospel, but as the mere 
witness of what he had seen ? " That which we have seen 
and heard declare we unto you, that ye also " in spirit and 
on the foundation of the last words we have quoted from 
Jesus " may have fellowship with us ; and truly our fel 
lowship" ours, the Apostles, as well as yours, the newly 
converted " is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus 
Christ. . . If we say that we have fellowship with him, 
and walk in darkness" if we think that we are united 
with God while yet the Divine Energy does not burst forth 
in our lives " we lie, and do not the truth " we are but 
fanatics and visionaries. " But if we walk in the Light, as 
he is in the Light, we have fellowship one with another, and 
the blood of Jesus Christ the Son of God" not, in the theo- 
ological sense, his blood shed for the remission of our sins, 
but his blood and mind entered into us, his Life in us 
" cleanseth us from all sin," and raiseth us far above the 
possibility of sin. 




THAT the fundamental doctrine of Christianity, as a special 
institution for the development of Religion in the Human 
Race : i. e. that in Jesus Christ, for the first time, and in a 
way predicable of no other man, the Eternal Ex-istence 
(Daseyn) of God has assumed a human personality; and 
that all other men can attain to union with God only 
through him, and by means of the repetition of his whole 
character in themselves : that this is a merely historical, 
and not in any way a metaphysical proposition, we have 
already said in the text (page 471.) It is perhaps not su 
perfluous to point out here, still more clearly, the distinc 
tion upon which this declaration is founded ; since I am 
not entitled, in the case of the general public to whom it is 
now presented, to make the same assumption as in the case 
of the majority of my immediate hearers, that they are fa 
miliar with this distinction through my other teachings. 

If we take these expressions in their strict signification, 
the Historical and the Metaphysical are directly opposed to 
each other ; and that which is really historical is, on that 
very account, not metaphysical and the reverse. The His 
torical, and what is purely historical in every possible phe 
nomenon, is that which may be apprehended as simple and 
absolute Fact, existing for itself alone and isolated from 
everything else, not as receiving its explanation and deriva- 



tion from a higher source : the Metaphysical, on the con 
trary, and the metaphysical element in every particular 
phenomenon, is that which necessarily proceeds from a 
higher and more comprehensive law, and which may be 
again referred to that law, and therefore cannot be compre 
hended as simple fact ; and, strictly speaking, can only by 
means of a delusion be regarded as fact at all, since in truth 
it is not apprehended as fact but only in consequence of 
the Law of Reason that rules within us. The latter ele 
ment of the phenomenon never extends to its actuality, and 
the actual phenomenon never altogether disappears in it ; 
and therefore in all actual phenomena these two elements 
are inseparably combined. 

It is the fundamental error of all pretended science that ^ 
does not recognise its own boundaries, in other words, of 
the transcendental use of the understanding, that it is not 
satisfied to accept the fact, simply as a fact, but must in 
dulge in metaphysical speculation concerning it. Since, on 
the supposition that what such a Metaphysic labours to re 
fer to a higher law is in truth simply actual and historic, 
there can be no such law, at least none accessible to us in 
the present life, it follows, that the Metaphysic we have de 
scribed, arbitrarily assuming that such an explanation is to 
be found here, which is its first error, must then have 
recourse to its own invention for such an explanation, and 
fill up the chasm by an arbitrary hypothesis, which is its 
second error. 

With regard to the case now before us, the primitive 
fact of Christianity is accepted as historical, and simply as 
fact, when w T e say, what is evident to every man, that Jesus 
knew what he did know before any one else knew it, and 
taught and lived as he did teach and live ; without de 
siring to know further how all this was possible, which, ac 
cording to well established principles, not however to be 
communicated here, can never be ascertained in this life. 
But the same fact is metaphysisized by the transcendental 
use of the understanding, soaring beyond the fact itself, 
when we attempt to comprehend it in its primitive source, 


and to this end set up an hypothesis as to how the individu 
al Jesus, as an individual, has emanated from the essential 
Divine Nature. As an individual, I have said ; for how 
Humanity as a whole has come forth from the Divine Na 
ture may be comprehended, and must have been made in 
telligible by our preceding lectures ; and is, according to us, 
the theme of the introduction to the Johannean Gospel. 

Now to us, who regard the matter only historically, it is 
of no importance in which of these two ways the above- 
mentioned principle is received by any one else, but only 
in what way it was accepted by Jesus himself, and his 
Apostle John, and how they authorized others to accept it ; 
and it is certainly the most important element in our view 
of the matter, that Christianity itself, as represented by Je 
sus, has by no means accepted that principle metaphysically. 

We retrace our argument to the following proposi 
tions : 

(1.) Jesus of Nazareth undoubtedly possessed the highest 
perception, containing the foundation of all other Truth, of 
the absolute identity of Humanity with the Godhead, as re 
gards what is essentially real in the former. Upon this 
merely historical proposition, every one to whom the follow 
ing evidence is to prove anything whatever, must first of all 
come to an understanding with me ; and I entreat my read 
ers not to hurry over this point. In my opinion, no one 
who has not previously attained, by another way, to the 
knowledge of the One Reality, and who does not possess 
this knowledge in living activity within him, will easily dis 
cover it where I, being first penetrated by this condition, 
have found it. But if any one have already fulfilled this 
condition, and thereby created for himself the organ by 
which alone Christianity may be comprehended, then he will 
not only clearly re-discover this fundamental truth in Chris 
tianity, but he will also discern a higher and holier signifi 
cance spread over the other, often apparently extraordinary, 
expressions of these writings. 

(2.) The mode and manner of this knowledge in Jesus 
Christ, which is the second point of importance, may be best 


characterized by contrast with the mode and manner in 
which the speculative philosopher arrives at the same know 
ledge. The latter proceeds upon the problem, which in it 
self is foreign to Religion, and even profane in its sight, and 
which is imposed upon him merely by his desire of know 
ledge, to explain Existence. Wherever there is a learned 


public, he finds this problem already proposed by others be 
fore him, and he finds fellow-labourers in its solution both 
among his predecessors and his contemporaries. It can 
never occur to him to regard himself as in any respect 
singular or distinguished on account of the problem becom 
ing clear to him. Further, the problem, as a problem, ap 
peals to his own industry, and to the personal freedom of 
which he is clearly conscious ; and being thus clearly con 
scious of his own personal activity in its solution, he cannot, 
on that very account, regard himself as inspired. 

Suppose, finally, that he succeed in the solution, and that 
in the only true way, by means of the Religious Principle ; 
his discovery still proceeds upon a series of preparatory in 
vestigations, and in this way it is to him a natural result. 
Religion is but a secondary matter to him, and is not there 
purely and solely as Religion, but only as the solution of the 
problem to which he had devoted his life. 

It was not so with Jesus. In the first place, he did not 
set out from any speculative question, which could be solved 
only by a Religious Knowledge attained at a later period 
and only in the course of the investigation of that question ; 
for he explained absolutely nothing by his Religious Prin 
ciple, and deduced nothing from it; but he presented it, 
alone and by itself, as the only thing worthy of know 
ledge, passing by everything else as undeserving of no 
tice. His Faith, and his conviction, never allowed the 
question to arise as to the existence of finite things. In 
short, they had no existence for him ; only in union with 
God was there Reality. How this Non-Entity could assume 
the semblance of Being, from which, doubt all profane spec 
ulation proceeds, he cared not to inquire. 

As little had he his knowledge by outward teaching and 


tradition ; for with that truly sublime sincerity and open 
ness which are evident in all his expressions, and here I 
venture to assume 011 the part of my reader that he has 
created for himself an intuitive perception of this sincerity 
by means of his own personal relation to this virtue and by 
a profound study of the life of Jesus,- he would in that 
case have said so, and directed his disciples to the sources 
of his own knowledge. It docs not follow, because he him 
self indicated the existence of a true religious knowledge 
before Abraham, and one of his apostles distinctly refers 
to Mclchiscdek, that Jesus had any connection with that 
system by direct tradition ; but it might readily happen 
that he should re-discover, in his study of Moses, that which 
was already present in his own mind ; since it is evident 
from numerous other instances that ho had an infinitely 
more profound comprehension of the writings of the Old 
Testament than the Scriptural students of his day and the 
majority of those of our own ; while he likewise proceed 
ed, as it appears, upon the sound hermeneutical principle, 
that Moses and the Prophets really desired to say something 
and not nothing. 

To say that Jesus did not receive his knowledge either 
by means of his own speculation, or by communication 
from without, is equivalent to saying that he had it through 
his mere being and life, that it was to him primary 
and absolute, without any other element whatever with 
which it was connected, purely through Inspiration, as we 
coming after him, and in contrast with our own knowledge, 
may express it, but as he himself never could express it. 
And what knowledge had he in this way ? That all Being 
is founded in God alone ; and consequently, what immedi 
ately follows from this, that his own Being, with this know 
ledge and in this knoAvledge, had its foundation in God and 
proceeded directly from him. What immediately follows, I 
say : for to us certainly the latter is an inference from the 
universal to the particular, since we must first of all re 
nounce our existing personal Ego, as the particular in quest 
ion, and merge it in the universal : but it was by no means 


the same, and this I entreat you to remark as the chief 
point, it was by no means the same with Jesus. In him 
there was no intellectual, questioning, or learning Self to 
be renounced, for in this knowledge his whole spiritual self 
was already swallowed up. His Self-consciousness was at 
once the pure and absolute Truth of Reason itself; self-ex 
istent and independent, the simple fact of consciousness : 
by no means, as with us, genetic, arising from another 
preceding state, and hence no simple fact of consciousness, 
but an inference. In that which I have thus endeavoured 
to express with the utmost precision and distinctness must 
have consisted the peculiar personal character of Jesus 
Christ, who, like every other true Individuality, can have 
appeared but once in Time, and can never be repeated 
therein. He was the Absolute Reason clothed in immediate 
Self-consciousness ; or, what is the same thing, Religion. 

(3.) In this absolute Fact, Jesus reposed with his whole 
being, and was entirely lost therein ; he could never think, 
know, or say anything else but that he knew it was so in 
very deed ; that he knew it immediately in God, and that 
he also knew this in very deed that he knew it immedi 
ately in God. As little could he point out to his disciples 
any other way to Blessedness than that they should become 
like as he was ; for that his way of being and life was the 
source of Blessedness he knew in himself; but he knew not 
this Blessed Life in any other shape than in himself and as 
his own way of life, and therefore he could not otherwise 
describe it. He knew it not in the abstract and universal 
conception in which the speculative philosopher knows it 
and can describe it ; for he did not proceed upon such con 
ceptions, but only on his own Self-consciousness. He re 
ceived it only historically ; and he who receives it as we 
have explained ourselves above, receives it in like manner, 
and, as it seems to us, after his example, only historically. 
There was such a man, at such and such a time, in the land 
of Judea ; and so far well. But he who desires to know 
further, through what arbitrary arrangement of God, or in 
ward necessity in God, such an individual was possible and 


actual, steps beyond the fact, and desires to metaphysisize 
that which is merely historical. 

For Jesus such a transcendentalism was simply impos 
sible ; for to this end it would have been requisite for him 
to distinguish himself, in his own personality, from God, re 
present himself as thus separate, wonder over himself as a 
remarkable phenomenon, and propose to himself the task of 
solving the problem of the possibility of such an individual. 
But it is precisely the most prominent and striking trait in 
the character of the Johannean Jesus, ever recurring in the 
same shape, that he will know nothing of such a separation 
of his personality from his Father, and that he earnestly 
rebukes others who attempt to make such a distinction ; 
while he constantly assumes that he who sees him sees 
the Father, that he who hears him hears the Father, and 
that he and the Father are wholly one ; and he uncondi 
tionally denies and rejects the notion of an independent 
being in himself, when such an unbecoming elevation of 
himself is made an objection against him. To him Jesus 
was not God, for to him there was no independent Jesus 
whatever ; but God was Jesus and manifested himself as 
Jesus. Such self-contemplation, and admiration of one s 
self, were very far removed, I will not say from a man like 
Jesus, with reference to whom the very acquittal from such 
a charge would be something like blasphemy, but from 
the whole Realism of the ancient world ; and the faculty of 
constantly looking back upon ourselves to see how it stands 
with us and our feelings, and thus again to feel the feeling 
of our feelings, and so to explain ourselves and our remark 
able personality psychologically, even to tediousness, was re 
served for the Moderns ; with whom, on that very account, 
it can never be well until they are satisfied to live simply 
and plainly, without desiring to live their life over again in 
its various possible forms ; leaving it to others, who have 
nothing better to do, if they find it worth their while, to 
marvel over this life of theirs, and to render it intelligible. 






OUR theory of Being and Life is now completely laid before 
you. It has been shown, not by any means as a proof of 
this theory, but merely as a collateral illustration, that the 
doctrine of Christianity on these subjects is the same as our 
own. With reference to this latter view, I have here only 
to ask permission to make such further use of the evidence 
that has been brought forward, as sometimes to employ an 
expression or an image from the Christian Scriptures, in 
which are to be found most admirable and significant ima 
ges. I shall not abuse this liberty. I am not ignorant that 
in this age we can enter no circle at all numerous among 
the cultivated classes, in which there shall not be found 
some one in whom the mention of the name of Jesus, or 
the use of Scriptural expressions, excites unpleasant feelings, 
and the suspicion that the speaker must be either a hypo 
crite or a fool, or both. It is wholly opposed to my princi 
ples to find fault with any one on this account : who can 
know how much he may have been tormented with these 
matters by meddling zealots, and what irrational things may 
have been forced upon him as Scripture doctrine? But on 


the other hand, I know that in every cultivated society, and 
consequently in that which assembles here, there are to be 
found other individuals, who love to fall back upon these 
associations, and, with them, upon the feelings of early 
youth. Let both these classes here reciprocally accommo 
date themselves to each other. I shall say all th-,, I have 
to say, in the first place in ordinary language : let those 
to whom Scriptural images are offensive, content themselves 
with the first expression, passing over the second altogether. 

The living possession of the theory we have now set forth, 
not the dry, dead, and merely historical knowledge of it. 
is, according to our doctrine, the highest, and indeed the 
only possible, Blessedness. To demonstrate this is our busi 
ness henceforward ; and this marks out the second leading- 
division of these lectures, which has also been separated 
from the first by the episodical inquiry to which the im 
mediately preceding lecture was devoted. 

Clearness is always increased by contrast. Since we are 
minded to comprehend thoroughly the True arid Bliss-giving 
mode of Thought, and to depict it to the life, it will be well 
to characterize, more profoundly and distinctly than in our 
first lecture, that superficial and unblessed mode of Exis 
tence which is directly opposed to the former, and which 
we, in common with Christianity, name a Non-Existence. 
Death, or living Burial. We have formerly characterized 
this false mode of Thought, in opposition to the true, as 
vagrancy in the Manifold, contrasted with retirement and 
concentration in the One ; and this is, and remains, its es 
sential characteristic. But instead of directing our atten 
tion, as Ave did formerly, more to the manifold outward ob 
jects among which it is dissipated, let us now consider, with 
out any reference whatever to the object, bow this mode of 
Thought is in itself an open, shallow, superficiality, a bro 
ken fountain whose waters run waste on all sides. 

All inward spiritual energy appears, in immediate Con 
sciousness, as a concentration, comprehension, and contrac 
tion of the otherwise distracted spirit into one point, and as 
a persistence in this one point, in opposition to the con- 

K b 


stant natural effort to throw off this concentration, and to 
become once more diffused abroad. Thus, I say, does all 
inward energy appear ; and it is only in this concentration 
that man is independent, and feels himself to be indepen 
dent. Beyond this condition of self-contraction, he is dis 
persed and melted away as before ; and that not according 
to his own will and purpose, for any such effort is the op 
posite of dispersion concentration, but just as he is mould 
ed and formed by lawless and incomprehensible chance. 
In this latter condition, therefore, he has no independence 
whatever ; he exists, not as a substantial reality, but as a 
fugitive phenomenon of Nature. In short, the original im 
age of spiritual independence, in Consciousness, is an ever 
self-forming and vitally persistent geometric point ; just as 
the original image of dependence and of spiritual nonentity 
is an indefinitely outspreading surface. Independence draws 
the world into an apex ; dependence spreads it out into a 
flat extended plain. 

In the former condition only is there power, and the con 
sciousness of power ; and hence in it only is a powerful and 
energetic comprehension and penetration of the World 
possible. In the second condition there is no power : the 
Spirit of Man is not even present and at home in the com 
prehension of the World, but, like Baal in the ancient nar 
rative, he has gone upon a journey, or is asleep: how can he 
recognise himself in the object, and distinguish himself from 
it ? He fades away, even from himself, in the current of 
phenomena; and thus his world pales before him, and instead 
of the living Nature by which he must guage his own life, 
and to which he must oppose it, he beholds but a gray spec 
tre, a misty and uncertain shape. To such may be applied 
what an ancient Prophet said of the idols of the heathen : 
" They have eyes, and see not ; and have ears, and they hear 
not." They, in fact, see not with seeing eyes; for it is a 
wholly different thing to comprehend, in the eye and in the 
mind, the visible object in its definite limitations, so that 
from henceforward we may be able at any moment volun 
tarily to recall it before the spiritual eye precisely as it had 

LECTURE Vll. 41)1 

been seen at rh st, under which condition alone any one 
can truly say he has seen it, and to have a shadowy and 
formless appearance floating before us in vague uncertainty, 
until it disappears altogether, leaving behind it no trace of 
its existence. He who has not yet attained to this vivid 
comprehension of the objects of Outward Sense, may rest 
assured that he is yet a far way off from the infinitely high 
er Spiritual Life. 

In this weary, superficial, and incoherent condition, a 
multitude of oppositions and contradictions lie quietly and 
tolerantly beside each other. In it there is nothing discri 
minated and separated, but all things stand upon an equali 
ty, and have grown up along with each other. They who 
live in it hold nothing to be true, and nothing false ; they 
love nothing, and hate nothing. For, in the first place, to 
such recognition as they might hold by for ever, to love, to 
hate, or to any other affection, there belongs that very ener 
getic self-concentration of which they are incapable ; and, 
secondly, it is likewise requisite to such recognition or af 
fection, that they should separate and discriminate the Ma 
nifold, in order to choose therefrom the particular object of 
their recognition and affection. But how can they accept 
anything whatever as established truth, since they would 
thereby be constrained to cast aside and reject, as false, all 
other possible things that are opposed to it; to which their 
tender attachment, even to its opposite, will by no means 
consent ? How can they love anything whatever with their 
whole soul, since they would then be under the necessity of 
hating its opposite, which their universal love and toleration 
will not permit ? They love nothing, I said ; and interest 
themselves for nothing, not even for themselves. If they 
ever propose the questions to themselves : " Have I then 
right on my side, or have I not ? am I right, or am I wrong ? 
what is to become of me, and am I on the way to happiness 
or to misery ?" they must answer : " What matters it to 
me ; I shall see what becomes of me, and must accommodate 
myself to whatever happens , time will show the result. " 
Thus are they despised, cast aside, and rejected of them- 


selves; and thus even their most immediate possessors, they 
themselves, need not trouble themselves about them. Who 
else shall ascribe to them a higher value than they claim 
for themselves ? They have resigned themselves to blind 
and lawless chance, to make of them whatever chance may 
bring forth. 

As the right mode of thought is in itself right and good, 
and needs no good works to exalt its value, although such 
good works will never indeed be awanting, so is the mode 
of thought, which we have now described, in itself worthless 
and despicable, and there is no need of any particular ma 
lignancy being superadded to it, to make it worthless and 
despicable ; and thus no one need here console himself with 
the idea that he nevertheless does nothing evil, but perhaps, 
according to his notions, even does what he calls good. This 
is indeed the very sinful pride of this mode of thought, that 
these men think they could sin if they would ; and that we 
must accord them great thanks if they refrain from doing so. 
They mistake : they can do nothing whatever, for they do 
not even exist, and there are no such realities as they ima 
gine themselves to be ; but, in their stead, there lives and 
works mere blind and lawless chance ; and this manifests 
itself, just as it happens, here as an evil, and there as an 
outwardly blameless phenomenon, without the phenome 
non, the mere impress and shadow of a blindly operative 
power, being, on that account, deserving, in the first case of 
blame, or in the second case of praise. Whether they shall 
prove to be noxious or beneficent phenomena, we can know 
only from the result, and it is of no importance. We know 
assuredly that, in any case, they shall be without inward 
Spiritual Life, in a state .of vague incoherence and uncer 
tainty ; for that which rules within them, the blind power 
of Nature, can express itself in no other way, and this tree 
can bear no other fruit. 

That which renders this state of mind incurable, which 
deprives it of all incitement towards a better, and closes it 
against instruction from without, is the almost total incapa 
city which is associated with it, to apprehend in its true 

LECTURK vir. 4. ( )3 

sense, even historically, anything that lies beyond its own 
mode of thought. They would think that they had cast off 
all love of humanity, and had done the most grievous injus 
tice to an honourable man, were they to admit that, however 
singularly he might express himself, he could mean, or wish 
to mean, anything else than that which they mean and say ; 
or were they to ascribe to any communication from other 
men any other purpose than to repeat before them some old 
and well-known lesson, so that they might be satisfied that 
the speaker had thoroughly learned it by rote. Let a man 
guard himself as he may by means of the most distinctly 
marked antagonisms, let him exhaust all the resources of 
language to choose the strongest, most striking, and most 
convincing expression, as soon as it reaches their ear, it 
loses its nature, and becomes changed into the old triviality; 
and their art of dragging down everything to their own 
level is triumphant over all other art. Therefore are they 
in the highest degree averse to all powerful and energetic 
expressions, and particularly to such as strive to enforce 
comprehension by means of images ; and, according to their 
law, those expressions must everywhere be selected that are 
most vague, indefinite, and far-fetched, and on that very 
account most powerless and inexpressive, under pain of ap 
pearing to be unpolished and obtrusive. Thus, when Jesus 
spoke of eating his flesh and drinking his blood, his disci 
ples found it a hard saying ; and when he mentioned the 
possibility of a union with God, the Jews took up stones 
and cast at him. They are always in the right; and since 
there can nothing whatever be said at any time but that 
which they already express in their language in this way or 
that, whence then the surprising effort to express this same 
thing in another fashion, whereby there is only imposed up 
on them the superfluous labour of translating it back again 
into their own speech ? 

This delineation of spiritual Non-Existence, or, to use the 
image of Christianity, of the Death and Burial of a living 
body, has been here introduced, partly in order to set forth 
the Spiritual Life more clearly by contrast, and partly be- 


cause it is itself a necessary element in that description of 
man, in his relation to Well-Being, which it is our next duty 
to undertake. As a guide to this description, we possess, 
and shall employ, those five standpoints in man s view of the 
World which we set forth in our fifth lecture ; or, since the 
standpoint of Science is excluded from popular discourses, 
the other four, as so many standpoints in man s enjoyment 
of the World and of himself. To them the state of spiritual 
Non-Existence which we have just described does not at all 
belong ; it is no possible or positive something, but a pure 
nothing; and so it is likewise altogether negative in relation 
to enjoyment and Well-Being. In it there is no such thing 
as Love ; whilst all enjoyment is founded on Love. Hence, 
to this condition enjoyment is altogether impossible ; and 
therefore a description of it was requisite at the outset, as 
the description of absolute joylessness or unblessedness, in 
opposition to the several modes, now to be set forth, in 
which man may actually enjoy the World, or himself. 

All enjoyment, I have said, is founded on Love. What 
then is Love ? I say ; Love is the affection (AffeM) of Be 
ing (Sey-ri). Argue it thus with me : Being (Seyri) is self- 
reliant, self-sufficient, self-complete ; and needs no Being 
beyond itself. Now let this be felt in absolute Self-con 
sciousness ; and what arises ? Obviously a feeling of this 
independence and self-sufficiency; hence, a Love of this 
self ; or, as I said, an affection or attachment of Being, by 
means of itself alone ; that is, the feeling of Being as Being. 
Add further, that in the Finite Being, such as we have de 
scribed above, who always conceives of himself as in a state 
of change and transition, there likewise dwells an original 
image of his True and Proper Being, then does he love this 
original image ; and when his actual and sensible being is 
in harmony with this primitive image, then is his Love sat 
isfied, and it is well with him ; but when, on the contrary, 
his actual being is not in harmony with this primitive im 
age, which nevertheless continues living, inextinguishable, 
and eternally beloved within him, then it is not well with 
him, for then he wants that which nevertheless he cannot 


hinder himself from loving before all things, longing and 
sorrowing after it continually. Well-being is union with the 
object of our Love; sorrow is separation from it. Only 
through Love does man subject himself to the influence of 
well-being or of sorrow ; he who does not love is secure 
from both of these. But let no one believe that the wan 
and death-like condition that we have described above, 
which as it is without love is also assuredly without sorrow, 
is on that account to be perferred to the life in Love, that 
is accessible to sorrow, and may be wounded by it. For, in 
the first place, we at least feel, recognise, and possess our 
selves, even in the feeling of sorrow, and this of itself is un 
speakably more blessed than that absolute want of any self- 
consciousness ; and, in the second place, this sorrow is the 
wholesome spur that should impel us, and that sooner or 
later will impel us, to union with the object of our Love, 
and to Blessedness therein. Happy, therefore, is the man 
who is able to sorrow and to aspire. 

To the first standpoint from which man may view the 
World, in which reality is attributed only to the objects of 
OUTWARD SENSE, sensual pleasure is of course the predomi 
nant motive in his enjoyment of himself and of the World. 
Even this, as we have already said with a more scientific 
purpose, and in illustration of the first principle we laid 
down of this whole matter, even this is founded on an af 
fection of Being, in this case, as an organized sensuous life; 
on the love for this Being, and for the conditions of this Be 
ing, immediately felt, demanded, and developed, not, as 
some have supposed, perceived only by an unconscious in 
ference of the understanding. An article of food has a 
pleasant taste to us, and a flower a pleasant smell, because 
they exalt and enliven our organic existence; and the pleas 
ant taste, as well as the pleasant smell, is nothing else than 
the immediate feeling of this exaltation and enlivenment. 
But let us not longer pause at this mode of enjoyment, 
which, although it certainly is a constituent element in the 
system of Universal Life, and on that account is perhaps not 
properly to be despised, is nevertheless undeserving of de- 


liberate thought or earnest attention! although I must can 
didly confess that, in a comparative point of view, he who 
can throw himself wholly and with undivided feeling into a 
sensual enjoyment, is, in my opinion, of far greater worth, 
in the eyes of the consequential philosopher, than he who, 
from mere superficiality, vagrancy, and vague diffusiveness, 
is incapable of rightly enjoying even taste or smell, where 
only taste or smell can be enjoyed. 

In the social state there intervenes between this merely 
sensual appetite and the higher forms of enjoyment, another 
class of affections, interposed by means of fancy, which how 
ever always relate at last to a sensual enjoyment, and pro 
ceed from such. Thus, for example, the miser indeed volun 
tarily subjects himself to present want for which he has 
no immediate desire, but only from fear of future want for 
which he has still less desire; and because he has so strange 
ly trained his fancy, that he suffers more from this imagined 
future hunger than from the real hunger that he actually 
feels at the present moment. Neither let us pause any long 
er at these unsubstantial, shallow, and capricious affections, 
even although they are opposed to immediate sensual en 
joyment : all that belongs to this region is alike shallow 
and capricious. 

The second standpoint from which the World may be 
viewed is that of LEGALITY, in which reality is attributed 
only to a SPIRITUAL LAW ordering all actual Existence. 
What is the affection of this standpoint, and what is its 
consequent relation to Well-Being ? For those among you 
who possess philosophical knowledge, I shall here, in pass 
ing, in a few short remarks and with strict consequentiality, 
throw a new light on this matter which has already been 
so well treated of by Kant. 

From this standpoint, Man, in the deepest root of his be 
ing, is himself the Law. This Law is the self-reliant, self- 
supporting Being of such a man, which neither needs nor 
can admit of any other Being whatever besides itself : a 
Law absolutely for the sake of Law, and wholly disdaining 
any purpose beyond itself. 


In the first place : thus rooted in Law, man can still be, 
think, and act. The philosopher who is not wholly super 
ficial proves this a priori ; the man who is not wholly rude 
or senseless feels it constantly in himself, and proves it by 
his whole life and thought. The celebrated axiom which, 
since this principle has been reproduced in our own time 
by Kant and others, has been brought forward and repeated 
usque ad nauseam by a decisive majority of the theologians, 
philosophers, and beaux-esprits of the age, the axiom that 
it is absolutely impossible for a man to will without having 
an external object of his volition, or to act without having 
an external object of his action this axiom we need not 
meddle with, but have only to meet it with cold and con 
temptuous rejection. Whence do they know what they so 
categorically maintain, and how do they propose to prove 
their axiom ? They know it only from their knowledge of 
themselves ; and hence they ask nothing from an opponent 
but that he should look into his own bosom and find him 
self such as they are. They cannot do it, and therefore they 
maintain that no man can do it. But again : what is it 
they cannot do ? Will and act without an object beyond 
the action. And what is there that lies beyond will and 
action, and mental independence ? Nothing whatever but 
sensual well-being ; for this is the only opposite of these : 
sensual well-being, I say, however strangely it may be de 
scribed, and even although the time and place of its fruition 
should be placed on the other side the grave. And thus, 
what is it which they have discovered in this knowledge of 
themselves ? Answer : that they cannot even think, move, 
nor in any way bestir themselves, unless with a view to some 
outward well-being which is thereby to be attained ; that 
they cannot regard themselves as anything but the means 
and instruments of some sensual enjoyment, and that, ac 
cording to their firm conviction, the Spiritual in them only 
exists for the purpose of nursing and tending on the Ani 
mal. Who shall dispute their self-knowledge, or attempt to 
gainsay them in that which they must know best of all, 
and which, in truth, only they themselves can know ? 



Man, on the second standpoint from which the World 
may be viewed, is himself the Law, we said ; a living, self- 
conscious, self-attached Law, or an affection of Law. But 
the affection of Law, as Law, and in this form, is, as I call 
upon you to perceive, an absolute command, an uncondition 
al obligation, a Categorical Imperative ; which, on account 
of this very categorical nature of its form, wholly rejects all 
love or even inclination towards the thing commanded. It 
shall be, that is all : simply it shall. If thou wouldst do it, 
there would be no need of the shall ; it would come too late, 
and would be rejected; while, on the contrary, as surely as 
thou, on thy part, obeyest the shall, and canst so obey, so 
surely dost thou not will; volition is beyond thy reach, 
inclination and love are expressly laid aside. 

Now, could man wholly resign himself with his entire Life 
to this affection of Law, then would he abide solely by this 
cold and rigid commandment ; and, with regard to his view 
of himself and of the World, by the absolutely uninterested 
judgment whether a thing be in accordance with the Law 
or not; wholly excluding all personal inclination, and every 
thought of it being agreeable or disagreeable ; as indeed is 
actually the case where men give themselves up to this 
affection. Such an one, through his strict acceptance of 
the Law, might yet declare that he did not, and would 
not, act in accordance with it, without anything like re 
morse or displeasure with himself; and indeed with the 
same coolness with which he might acknowledge that some 
thousand years before his birth, and in a remote quarter of 
the world, some other person had not performed the obliga 
tion imposed upon him. But, in actual life, this affection 
is usually conjoined with an interest for ourselves, and our 
own personality ; which latter interest then assumes the na 
ture of the first affection, and becomes modified thereby ; 
so that the view we take of ourselves, while it remains in 
deed a mere judgment, which it must be in virtue of the 
first affection, is yet not wholly an uninterested judgment ; 

W e are constrained to despise ourselves if we do not walk 

according to the Law, and we are free from this self-contempt 


if we act in harmony with it ; and we would consequently 
rather rind ourselves in the latter position than in the for 

The interest which man feels in himself, we said, is 
swallowed up in this affection of Law. He desires only not 
to be constrained to despise himself before the tribunal ot 
the Law. Not to despise himself, I say, negatively ; by 
no means to be able to respect himself, positively. Where- 
ever positive self-respect is spoken of, it is only, and can 
only be, the absence of self-contempt that is meant. For 
the judgment of which we here speak is founded solely on 
the Law, which is completely determined, and assumes 
jurisdiction over the whole of humanity. There is no third 
course : either man is not in harmony with the Law, and 
then he must despise himself; or he is in harmony with it, 
and then he has nothing to allege against himself; but, in 
his fulfilment of the Law, he can by no means transcend its 
requirements in aught, and do something beyond what he is 
bound to do, which would thus be done without command 
ment, and hence be a free and voluntary act ; and there 
fore he can never positively respect himself, nor honour 
himself as something excellent. 

The interest which man feels in himself is swallowed up 
in the affection of Law ; this affection destroys all inclina 
tion, all love, and all desire. Man has but one thing need 
ful to him not to despise himself; beyond this he wills 
nothing, needs nothing, and can use nothing. In that one 
want of his nature, however, he is dependent on himself 
alone ; for an Absolute Law, by which man is wholly 
encompassed, must necessarily represent him as entirely 
free. By means of this conception he is now elevated above 
all love, desire, and want, and thus above all that is external 
to him and that does not depend on himself; needing 
nothing but himself; and thus, by the extinction of every 
thing in him that was dependent, himself truly independent, 
exalted above all things, and like the blessed Gods. It is 
only unsatisfied wants that produce imhappiness : require 
then nothing but that which thou thyself canst secure, 


thou canst, however, only make sure that thou shalt have 
no fault to find with thyself, and thou art for ever inacces 
sible to unhappiness. Thou hast no need of anything 
beyond thyself; not even of a God, for thou art thine own 
God, thine own salvation, and thine own Redeemer. 

No one who can justly lay claim to the amount of his 
torical knowledge which every educated man is presumed 
to possess, can have failed to perceive that I have now set 
forth the mode of thought peculiar to that celebrated system 
of antiquity Stoicism. A venerable picture of this mode 
of thought is the representation, made by an ancient poet, 
of the mythical Prometheus ; who, in the consciousness of 
his own just and good de