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Philosophy of Spiritual Activity
GA 4

V. The Act of Knowing (Cognizing) the World

[ 1 ] From the foregoing considerations it follows that it is impossible to prove, by analysis of the content of our observation, that our percepts are representations. This is supposed to be proved by showing that, if the process of perceiving takes place in the way in which we conceive it in accordance with the naive-realistic assumptions concerning the psychological and physiological constitution of human individuals, then we have to do, not with things themselves, but merely with our representations of things. Now, if Naive Realism, when consistently thought out, leads to results which directly contradict its presuppositions, then these presuppositions must be discarded as unsuitable for the foundation of a conception of the world. In any case, it is inadmissible to reject the presuppositions and yet accept the consequences, as the Critical Idealist does who bases his assertion that the world is my representation on the line of argument indicated above. (Eduard von Hartmann gives in his work Das Grundproblem der Erkenntnistheorie a full account of this line of argument.)

[ 2 ] The truth of Critical Idealism is one thing, the persuasiveness of its proof another. How it stands with the former will appear later in the course of this book, but the persuasiveness of its proof is nil. If one builds a house, and the ground floor collapses while the first floor is being built, then the first floor collapses, too. Naive Realism and Critical Idealism are related just as the ground floor to the first floor in this simile.

[ 3 ] For one who holds that the whole perceptual world is only representational, and, moreover, the effect of things unknown to him acting on his soul, the real problem of knowledge is naturally concerned, not with the representations present only in the soul, but with the things which lie outside his consciousness, and which are independent of him. He asks: How much can we learn about them indirectly, seeing that we cannot observe them directly? From this point of view, he is concerned, not with the inner connection of his conscious percepts with one another, but with their causes which transcend his consciousness and exist independently of him, whereas the percepts, on his view, disappear as soon as he turns his senses away from the things. Our consciousness, on this view, works like a mirror from which the pictures of definite things disappear the very moment its reflecting surface is not turned towards them. If, now, we do not see the things themselves, but only their reflections, we must obtain knowledge of the nature of the former indirectly by drawing conclusions from the character of the latter. The whole of modern science adopts this point of view, when it uses percepts only as an ultimate means of obtaining information about the processes of matter which lie behind them, and which alone really “are.” If the philosopher, as Critical Idealist, admits real existence at all, then his sole aim is to gain knowledge of this real existence indirectly by means of his representations. His interest skips over the subjective world of representations and pursues instead that which produces these representations.

[ 4 ] The Critical Idealist can, however, go even further and say, I am confined to the world of my representations and cannot escape from it. If I think a thing behind my representations, this thought, once more, is nothing but my representation. An Idealist of this type will either deny the thing-in-itself entirely or, at any rate, assert that it has no significance for human minds, i.e., that it is as good as non-existent since we can know nothing of it.

[ 5 ] To this kind of Critical Idealist the whole world seems a dream, in the face of which all striving for knowledge is simply meaningless. For him there can be only two sorts of men: (1) victims of the illusion that the dreams they have themselves woven are real things, and (2) wise men who see through the nothingness of this dream world, and who gradually lose all desire to trouble themselves further about it. From this point of view, even one's own personality may become a mere dream phantom. Just as during sleep there appears among my dream-images an image of myself, so in waking consciousness the representation of my own I is added to the representation of the outer world. I have then given to me in consciousness, not my real I, but only my representation of my I. Whoever denies that things exist, or, at least, that we can know anything of them, must also deny the existence, or the knowledge, of one's own personality. This is how the Critical Idealist comes to maintain that “All reality transforms itself into a wonderful dream, without a life which is the object of the dream, and without a spirit which has the dream; into a dream which hangs together in a dream of itself.” (Cf. Fichte, Die Bestimmung des Menschen.)

[ 6 ] Whether he who believes that he recognizes immediate life to be a dream, postulates nothing more behind this dream, or whether he relates his representations to actual things, is immaterial. In both cases life itself must lose all scientific interest for him. However, whereas for those who believe that the whole of the accessible universe is exhausted in dreams, all science is an absurdity, yet for those who feel compelled to argue from representations to things, science consists in inquiring into these “things-in-themselves.” The first of these theories of the world may be called Absolute Illusionism, the second is called Transcendental Realism by its most rigorously logical exponent, Eduard von Hartmann.1Cognition is transcendental in the sense of this world conception when it believes itself to be conscious that nothing can be asserted directly about the thing-in-itself, but makes (indirect inferences from the subjective which is known to the unknown which lies beyond the subjective (Transcendental). The thing-in-itself is, according to this view, beyond the sphere of the immediately cognizable world; in other words, it is transcendent. Our world can, however, be transcendentally related to the transcendent. Hartmann's theory is called Realism because it proceeds from the subjective, the ideal, to the transcendent, the real.

[ 7 ] These two points of view have this in common with Naive Realism, that they seek to gain a footing in the world by means of an analysis of percepts. Within this sphere, however, they are unable to find any stable point.

[ 8 ] One of the most important questions for an adherent of Transcendental Realism would have to be, how the Ego produces the world of representations out of itself. A world of representations which was given to us, and which disappeared as soon as we shut our senses to the external world, might provoke an earnest desire for knowledge, in so far as it was a means for investigating indirectly the world of the I existing in itself. If the things of our experience were “representations” then our everyday life would be like a dream, and the discovery of the true facts like waking. Even our dream-images interest us as long as we dream and, consequently, do not detect their dream character. But as soon as we wake, we no longer look for the inner connections of our dream-images among themselves, but rather for the physical, physiological, and psychological processes which underlie them. In the same way, a philosopher who holds the world to be his representation, cannot be interested in the reciprocal relations of the details within it. If he admits the existence of a real Ego at all, then his question will be, not how one of his representations is linked with another, but what takes place in the Soul which is independent of him, while a certain train of representations passes through his consciousness. If I dream that I am drinking wine which makes my throat burn, and then wake up with a tickling sensation in the throat (cp. Weygandt, Entstehung der Träume, 1893) I cease, the moment I wake, to be interested in the dream-drama for its own sake. My attention is now concerned only with the physiological and psychological processes by means of which the irritation, which causes me to cough, comes to be symbolically expressed in the dream-picture. Similarly, once the philosopher is convinced that the given world consists of nothing but representations, his interest is bound to switch from them at once to the soul which is the reality lying behind them. The matter is more serious, however, for the Illusionist who denies the existence of an Ego-in-itself behind the representations, or at least holds this Ego to be unknowable. We might very easily be led to such a view by the observation that, in contrast to dreaming, there is indeed the waking state in which we have the opportunity to look through our dreams, and to refer them to the real relations of things, but that there is no state of the Self which is related similarly to our waking conscious life. Every adherent of this view fails entirely to see that there is, in fact, something which is to mere perception what our waking experience is to our dreams. This something is thinking.

[ 9 ] The naive man cannot be charged with the lack of insight referred to here. He accepts life as it is, and regards things as real just as they present themselves to him in experience. The first step, however, which we take beyond this standpoint can be only this, that we ask how thinking is related to perception. It makes no difference whether or no the percept, in the shape given to me, continues to exist before and after my forming a representation. If I want to assert anything whatever about it, I can do so only with the help of thinking. When I assert that the world is my representation, I have enunciated the result of an act of thinking, and if my thinking is not applicable to the world, then this result is false. Between a percept and every kind of assertion about it there intervenes thinking.

[ 10 ] The reason why, in our consideration of things, we generally overlook thinking, has already been given above (p. 24). It lies in the fact that our attention is concentrated only on the object about which we think, but not at the same time on the thinking itself. The naive consciousness, therefore, treats thinking as something which has nothing to do with things, but stands altogether aloof from them and contemplates them. The picture which the thinker constructs concerning the phenomena of the world is regarded, not as part of the things, but as existing only in men's heads. The world is complete in itself even without this picture. It is all ready-made and finished with all its substances and forces, and of this ready-made world man makes himself a picture. Whoever thinks thus need only be asked one question. What right have you to declare the world to be complete without thinking? Does not the world produce thinking in the heads of men with the same necessity as it produces the blossom on a plant? Plant a seed in the earth. It puts forth roots and stem, it unfolds into leaves and blossoms. Set the plant before yourselves. It connects itself, in your soul, with a definite concept. Why should this concept belong any less to the whole plant than leaf and blossom? You say the leaves and blossoms exist quite apart from a perceiving subject, but the concept appears only when a human being confronts the plant. Quite so. But leaves and blossoms also appear on the plant only if there is soil in which the seed can be planted, and light and air in which the leaves and blossoms can unfold. Just so the concept of a plant arises when a thinking consciousness approaches the plant.

[ 11 ] It is quite arbitrary to regard the sum of what we experience of a thing through bare perception as a totality, a whole, while that which reveals itself through thinking consideration is regarded as a mere accretion which has nothing to do with the thing itself. If I am given a rosebud to-day, the picture that offers itself to my perception is complete only for the moment. If I put the bud into water, I shall to-morrow get a very different picture of my object. If I watch the rosebud without interruption, I shall see to-day's state gradually change into to-morrow's through an infinite number of intermediate stages. The picture which presents itself to me at any one moment is only a chance segment out of an object which is in a continual process of becoming. If I do not put the bud into water, a whole series of states, the possibility of which lay in the bud, will not be evolved. Similarly I may be prevented to-morrow from observing the blossom further, and thus have an incomplete picture of it.

[ 12 ] It would be a quite unobjective opinion clinging to temporal features which declared of any haphazard appearance of a thing, this is the thing.

[ 13 ] It is no more legitimate to regard the sum of perceptual characteristics as the thing. It might be quite possible for a spirit to receive the concept at the same time as, and together with, the percept. To such a spirit it would never occur that the concept did not belong to the thing. It would have to ascribe to the concept an existence indivisibly bound up with the thing.

[ 14 ] Let me make myself clearer by another example. If I throw a stone horizontally through the air, I perceive it in different places one after the other. I connect these places so as to form a line. Mathematics teaches me to know various kinds of lines, one of which is the parabola. I know the parabola to be a line which is produced by a point moving according to certain well-defined law. If I analyse the conditions under which the stone thrown by me moves, I find the path traversed is identical with the line I know as a parabola. That the stone moves just in a parabola is a result of the given conditions and follows necessarily from them. The form of the parabola belongs to the whole phenomenon as much as any other feature of it. The spirit described above who has no need of the detour of thinking, would find itself presented, not only with a sequence of visual percepts at different points, but, as part and parcel of these phenomena, also with the parabolic form of the path which we add to the phenomenon only by thinking.

[ 15 ] It is not due to the objects that they appear to us at first without their corresponding concepts, but to our mental organization. Our whole being functions in such a way that from every real thing the relevant elements come to us from two sources, viz., from perception and from thinking.

[ 16 ] The nature of things has nothing to do with the way I am organized for apprehending them. The breach between perception and thinking exists only from the moment that I as spectator confront the things. Which elements do, and which do not, belong to the object, cannot depend at all on the manner in which I obtain my knowledge of these elements.

[ 17 ] Man is a limited being. First of all, he is a being among other beings. His existence belongs to space and time. Hence but a limited portion of the total universe can ever be given to him. This limited portion, however, is linked up with other parts on every side both in time and in space. If our existence were so linked with things that every world occurrence were also an occurrence in us, there would not be the distinction between us and things. Neither would there be any individual objects for us. All occurrences would then pass continuously one into the other. The cosmos would be a unity and a whole complete in itself. The stream of events would nowhere be interrupted. But owing to our limitations there appears as a single thing what, in truth, is not a single thing. Nowhere, e.g., is the particular quality “red” to be found by itself in isolation. It is surrounded on all sides by other qualities to which it belongs, and without which it could not subsist. For us, however, it is necessary to isolate certain sections of the world and to consider them by themselves. Our eye can seize only single colours one after another out of a manifold colour-whole, our understanding only single concepts out of a connected conceptual system. This separating off is a subjective act, which is due to the fact that we are not identical with the world-process, but are a single being among other beings.

[ 18 ] It is of the greatest importance for us to determine the relation of the beings which we, ourselves, are to the other beings. The determining of this relation must be distinguished from merely becoming conscious of ourselves. For this self-awareness we depend on perception just as we do for our awareness of any other thing. The perception of myself reveals to me a number of qualities which I combine into my personality as a whole, just as I combine the qualities, yellow, metallic, hard, etc., in the unity “gold.” The perception of self does not take me beyond the sphere of what belongs to me. Hence it must be distinguished from the determination of myself by thinking. Just as I link up, by thinking, any single percept of the external world into the whole world system, so I fit by thinking what I perceive in myself into the world-process. My self-perception restricts me within definite limits, but my thinking has nothing to do with these limits. In this sense I am a two-sided being. I am enclosed within the sphere which I perceive as that of my personality, but I am also the bearer of an activity, which, from a higher sphere, determines my finite existence. Our thinking is not individual like our sensing and feeling; it is universal. It receives an individual stamp in each separate human being only because it comes to be related to his individual feelings and sensations. By means of these particular colourings of the universal thinking, individual men are distinguished from one another. There is only one single concept of “triangle.” It is quite immaterial for the content of this concept whether it is grasped in A's consciousness or in B's. It will, however, be grasped by each of the two in his own individual way.

[ 19 ] This thought conflicts with a common prejudice which is very hard to overcome. The victims of this prejudice are unable to see that the concept of a triangle which my head grasps is the same as the concept which my neighbour's head grasps. The naive man believes himself to be the creator of his concepts. Hence he believes that each person has his private concepts. It is a fundamental demand of philosophic thinking to overcome this prejudice. The one uniform concept of “triangle” does not split up into a multiplicity because it is thought by many persons. For the thinking of the many is itself a unity.

[ 20 ] In thinking we have the element which welds each man's special individuality into one whole with the cosmos. In so far as we sense and feel (and also perceive), we are single beings; in so far as we think, we are the All-One Being which pervades everything. This is the deeper meaning of our two-sided nature: We see a simply absolute force revealing itself in us, which is universal. But we learn to know it, not as it issues from the centre of the world, but rather at a point of the periphery. Were the former the case, we should know, as soon as ever we became conscious, the solution of the whole world problem. But since we stand at a point on the periphery, and find that our own being is confined within definite limits, we must explore the region which lies beyond our own being with the help of thinking, which projects into us out of the general world-existence.

[ 21 ] The fact that thinking, in us, reaches out beyond our separate existence and relates itself to the general world-existence, gives rise to the desire for knowledge in us. Beings without thinking do not experience this desire. When they are faced with other things no questions arise for them. These other things remain external to such beings. But in thinking beings the concept rises up when they confront the external thing. It is that part of the thing which we receive not from without, but from within. To produce the agreement, the union of the two elements, the inner and the outer, that is the task of knowledge.

[ 22 ] The percept, thus, is not something finished and self-contained, but one side only of the total reality. The other side is the concept. The act of cognition is the synthesis of percept and concept. Only the percept and concept together constitute the whole thing.

[ 23 ] The preceding elucidation shows clearly that it is nonsensical to seek for any other common element in the separate beings of the world than the ideal content which thinking supplies. All efforts to look for another unity in the world than this internally coherent ideal content, which we gain by a thinking investigation of our percepts, are bound to fail. Neither a humanly personal God, nor force, nor matter, nor the blind will (Schopenhauer), can be accepted by us as the universal unity in the world. These principles all belong only to a limited sphere of our observation. Humanly limited personality we perceive only in ourselves; force and matter in external things. The will, again, can be regarded only as the expression of the activity of our finite personality. Schopenhauer wants to avoid making “abstract” thinking the bearer of unity in the world, and seeks instead something which presents itself to him immediately as real. This philosopher holds that we can never approach the world so long as we regard it as an “external” world. “In fact, the meaning for which we seek of that world which is present to us only as our ‘representation,’ [See footnote on page 55.] or the transition from the world as mere representation of the knowing subject to whatever it may be besides this, would never be found if the investigator himself were nothing more than the pure knowing subject (a winged cherub without a body). But he himself is rooted in that world: he finds himself in it as an individual, that is to say, his knowledge, which is the necessary supporter of the whole world as representation, is yet always given through the medium of a body, whose affections are, as we have shown, the starting-point for the understanding in the perception of that world. This body is, for the pure knowing subject, a representation like every other representation, an object among objects. Its movements and actions are so far known to him in precisely the same way as the changes of all other perceived objects, and would be just as strange and incomprehensible to him if their meaning were not explained for him in an entirely different way ... The body is given in two entirely different ways to the subject of knowledge, who becomes an individual only through his identity with it. It is given as a representation in intelligent perception, as an object among objects and subject to the laws of objects. And it is also given in quite a different way as that which is immediately known to everyone, and is signified by the word ‘will.’ Every true act of his will is also at once and without exception a movement of his body. He cannot will the act without perceiving at the same time that it appears as a movement of the body. The act of will and the movement of the body are not two different things objectively known, which the bond of causality unites; they do not stand in the relation of cause and effect; they are one and the same, but they are given in two entirely different ways—immediately, and again in perception for the understanding.” (The World as Will and Idea, Book 2, par. 18.) Schopenhauer considers himself entitled by these arguments to find in the human body the “objectivity” of the will. He believes that in the activities of the body he feels immediately a reality—the thing-in-itself in the concrete. Against these arguments we must urge that the activities of our body come to our consciousness only through self-perception, and that, as such, they are in no way superior to other percepts. If we want to cognize their real nature, we can do so only by a thinking investigation, i.e., by fitting them into the ideal system of our concepts and Ideas.

[ 24 ] Rooted most deeply in the naive consciousness is the opinion that thinking is abstract and empty of any concrete content. At best, we are told, it supplies but an “ideal” counterpart of the unity of the world, but never that unity itself. Whoever so judges has never made clear to himself what a percept apart from concepts really is. Let us see what this world of bare percepts is. A mere juxtaposition in space, a mere succession in time, an aggregate of disconnected particulars—that is how it appears. None of the things which come and go on the stage of perception has any perceptible connection with any other. The world is a multiplicity of objects of equal value. None plays any greater part in the nexus of the world than any other. In order to make obvious that this or that fact has a greater importance than another we must go to thinking. Without thinking fulfilling its function, the rudimentary organ of an animal which has no significance in its life appears equal in value to the most important limb. The particular facts reveal their meaning, in themselves and for other parts of the world, only when thinking spins its threads from Being to Being. This activity of thinking is one full of content. For it is only through a perfectly definite concrete content that I can know why the snail belongs to a lower type of organization than the lion. The mere appearance, the percept, gives me no content which could inform me as to the degree of perfection of the organization.

[ 25 ] Thinking contributes this content to the percept from the world of concepts and Ideas. In contrast with the content of perception which is given to us from without, the content of thinking appears inwardly. The form in which the latter first appears in consciousness we will call “intuition.” Intuition is for the content of thinking what observation is for the percept. Intuition and observation are the sources of our knowledge. An observed object of the world remains unintelligible to us, until we have the corresponding intuition which adds that part of the reality which is lacking in the percept. To anyone who is incapable of finding the intuitions corresponding to the things, the full reality remains inaccessible. Just as the colour-blind person sees only differences of brightness without any colour qualities, so a person who lacks intuition observes only disconnected fragments of percepts.

[ 26 ] To explain a thing, to make it intelligible, means nothing else than to place it in the context from which it has been torn by the peculiar character of our organization described above. A thing cut off from the world-whole does not exist. Hence all isolation of objects has only subjective validity for our organization. For us the universe disrupts itself into above and below, before and after, cause and effect, object and representation, matter and force, object and subject, etc. What appears in observation, as separate parts, becomes combined, bit by bit, through the coherent, unified world of our intuitions. By thinking we fuse again into one whole all that we have separated through perception.

[ 27 ] The enigmatic character of an object consists in its separateness. But this separation is our own making and can be remedied again within the world of concepts.

[ 28 ] Except through thinking and perception nothing is given to us directly. The question now arises as to the significance of percepts within our line of thought. We have learnt that the proof which Critical Idealism offers for the subjective nature of percepts collapses. But the exhibition of the falsity of the proof is not, by itself, sufficient to show that the doctrine itself is an error. Critical Idealism does not base its proof on the absolute nature of thinking, but relies on the argument that Naive Realism, when followed to its logical conclusion, contradicts itself. How does the matter appear when we have recognized the absoluteness of thinking?

[ 29 ] Let us assume that a certain percept, e.g., red, appears in consciousness. To continued observation, the percept shows itself to be connected with other percepts, e.g., a certain figure, temperature, and touch-qualities. This combination I call an object in the world of sense. I can now ask myself: Over and above the percepts just mentioned, what else is there in the section of space in which they appear? I shall then find mechanical, chemical, and other processes in that section of space. I next go farther and study the processes which take place in the transition between the object and my sense-organs. I can find movements in an elastic medium, which have not the least in common with the percepts from which I started. I get the same result if I trace farther the transition between sense-organs and brain. In each of these inquiries I gather new percepts, but the connecting medium which binds all these spatially and temporally separated percepts into one whole, is thinking. The air vibrations which carry sound are given to me as percepts just like the sound itself. Thinking alone links all these percepts one to the other and exhibits them in their reciprocal relations. We have no right to say that over and above our immediate percepts there is anything except the ideal nexus of percepts (which thinking has to reveal). The relation of perceptual objects to the perceiving subject, which relation transcends the mere perceptible, is, therefore, purely ideal, i.e., capable of being expressed only through concepts. Only if it were possible to perceive how the object of perception affects the perceiving subject, or, alternatively, only if we could watch the building up of the perceptual complex through the subject, could we speak as modern Physiology, and the Critical Idealism which is based on it, speak. Their view confuses an ideal relation (that of the object to the subject) with a process of which we could speak only if it were possible to perceive it. The proposition, “No colour without a colour-sensing eye,” cannot be taken to mean that the eye produces the colour, but only that an ideal relation, recognizable by thinking, subsists between the percept “colour” and the percept “eye.” Empirical science will have to ascertain how the properties of the eye and those of the colours are related to one another: by means of what structures the organ of sight mediates the perception of colours, etc. I can trace how one percept succeeds another and how one is related to others in space, and I can formulate these relations in conceptual terms, but I can never perceive how a percept originates out of the non-perceptible. All attempts to seek any relations between percepts other than thought relations must of necessity fail.

[ 30 ] What then is a percept? This question, asked in this general way, is absurd. A percept emerges always as a perfectly determinate, concrete content. This content is immediately given and is completely contained in the given. The only question one can ask concerning the given content is, what it is apart from perception, that is, what it is for thinking. The question concerning the “what” of a percept can, therefore, only refer to the conceptual intuition which corresponds to this percept. From this point of view, the question of the subjectivity of percepts, in the sense in which the Critical Idealists debate it, cannot be raised at all. Only that which is perceived as belonging to the subject can be termed “subjective.” To form a link between that which is subjective and that which is objective is impossible for any real process, in the naive sense of the word “real,” in which it means a process which can be perceived. That is possible only for thinking. For us, then, “objective” means that which, for perception, presents itself as external to the perceiving subject. As subject of perception I remain perceptible to myself after the table which now stands before me has disappeared from my field of observation. The observation of the table has produced a modification in me which likewise persists. I preserve the faculty to produce later on an image of the table. This faculty of producing a picture remains connected with me. Psychology terms this image a “memory-idea.” Now this is the only thing which has any right to be called the representation [See Translator's Preface, p. ix.] of the table. For it corresponds to the perceptible modification of my own state through the presence of the table in my visual field. Moreover, it does not mean a modification in some “Ego-in-itself” standing behind the perceiving subject, but the modification of the perceptible subject itself. The representation is, therefore, a subjective percept, in contrast with the objective percept which occurs when the object is present in the field of vision. The false identification of the subjective with this objective percept leads to the misunderstanding of Idealism: The world is my representation.

[ 31 ] Our next task must be to define the concept of “representation” more nearly. What we have said about it so far does not give us the concept, but only shows us where in the perceptual field representations are to be found. The exact concept of “representation” will also make it possible for us to obtain a satisfactory understanding of the relation of representation and object. This will then lead us over the border-line, where the relation of human subject to object in the world is brought down from the purely conceptual field of concepts into concrete individual life. Once we know how to think of the world, it will be an easy task to adapt ourselves to it. We can only be active with full energy when we know the object belonging to the world to which we are to devote our activity.

Addition to the Revised Edition, 1918

[ 32 ] The view which I have here outlined may be regarded as one to which man is impelled as though by a natural force, as soon as he begins to reflect about his relation to the world. He then finds himself caught in a system of thoughts which dissolves for him as fast as he frames it. The thought formation is such that the purely theoretical refutation of it does not exhaust our task. We have to live through it, in order to understand the aberration into which it leads us, and to find the way out. It must figure in any discussion of the relation of man to the world, not for the sake of refuting others whom one believes to be holding mistaken views about this relation, but because it is necessary to understand the confusion to which every first effort at reflection about such a relation is apt to lead. One needs to gain insight into how to refute oneself with respect to these first reflections. This is the point of view from which the arguments of the preceding chapter are considered.

[ 33 ] Whoever tries to work out for himself a view of the relation of man to the world, becomes aware of the fact that he creates this relation, at least in part, by forming representations about the things and events in the world. In consequence, his attention is deflected from what exists outside in the world and directed towards his inner world, the life of his representations. He begins to say to himself: It is impossible for me to stand in relation to any thing or event, unless a representation appears in me. From this fact, once noticed, it is but a step to the opinion: All that I experience is after all only my representation; of a world outside I know only in so far as it is a representation in me. With this opinion, man abandons the standpoint of naive reality which he occupies prior to all reflection about his relation to the world. So long as he stands there, he believes that he is dealing with real things, but reflection about himself drives him away from this position. Reflection prevents him from turning his gaze towards a real world such as naive consciousness claims to have before it. Reflection turns his gaze only towards his representations; they interpose themselves between his own nature and a supposedly real world, such as the naive point of view believes it should affirm. Man can no longer look through the intervening world of representations upon such a real world. He must suppose that he is blind to such a reality. Thus arises the thought of a “thing-in-itself” which is inaccessible to knowledge.

So long as we consider only the relationship to the world into which man appears to enter through the life of his representations, we can hardly escape from this kind of thought. Yet one cannot remain at the point of view of Naive Realism except at the price of closing one's mind artificially to the desire for knowledge. The existence of this desire for knowledge about the relation of man to the world proves that the naive point of view must be abandoned. If the naive point of view yielded anything which we could acknowledge as truth, we could not experience this desire.

But mere abandonment of the naive point of view does not lead to any other view which we could regard as true, so long as we retain, without noticing it, the kind of thought which the naive point of view imposes on us. This is the mistake made by the man who says: I experience only my representations, and though I believe that I am dealing with real things, I am actually conscious of nothing but my representations of real things; I must, therefore, suppose that genuine realities, “things-in-themselves,” exist only outside the boundary of my consciousness; that they are inaccessible to my immediate knowledge; but that they somehow approach me and influence me so as to make a world of representations arise in me. Whoever thinks thus, duplicates in thought the world before him by adding another. But, strictly he ought to begin his whole thinking activity over again with regard to this second world. For the unknown “thing-in-itself,” in its relation to man's own nature, is conceived in exactly the same way as is the known thing of the naively realistic point of view.—There is only one way of escaping from the confusion into which one falls by critical reflection on this naive point of view. This is to observe that, inside everything we can experience through perception, be it within ourselves or outside in the world, there is something which does not share the fate of a representation interposing itself between the real event and the contemplating human being. This something is thinking. With regard to thinking we can maintain the point of view of Naive Realism. If we fail to do so, it is only because we have learnt that we must abandon it for other things, but overlook that, what we have found to be true for other activities, does not apply to thinking. When we realize this, we gain access to the further insight that, in thinking and through thinking, man necessarily comes to cognize the very thing to which he appears to blind himself by interposing between the world and himself the realm of his representations.—A critic highly esteemed by the author of this book has objected that this discussion of thinking stops at a naively realistic theory of thinking, as shown by the fact that the real world and the world of representations are held to be identical. However, the author believes himself to have shown in this very discussion that the validity of “Naive Realism,” as applied to thinking, results inevitably from an unprejudiced study of thinking; and that Naive Realism, in so far as it is invalid for other things, is overcome through the recognition of the true nature of thinking.

V. Das Erkennen der Welt

[ 1 ] Aus den vorhergehenden Betrachtungen folgt die Unmöglichkeit, durch Untersuchung unseres Beobachtungsinhalts den Beweis zu erbringen, daß unsere Wahrnehmungen Vorstellungen sind. Dieser Beweis soll nämlich dadurch erbracht werden, daß man zeigt: wenn der Wahrnehmungsprozeß in der Art erfolgt, wie man ihn gemäß den naiv-realistischen Annahmen über die psychologische und physiologische Konstitution unseres Individuums sich vorstellt, dann haben wir es nicht mit Dingen an sich, sondern bloß mit unseren Vorstellungen von den Dingen zu tun. Wenn nun der naive Realismus, konsequent verfolgt, zu Resultaten führt, die das gerade Gegenteil seiner Voraussetzungen darstellen, so müssen diese Voraussetzungen als ungeeignet zur Begründung einer Weltanschauung bezeichnet und fallen gelassen werden. Jedenfalls ist es unstatthaft, die Voraussetzungen zu verwerfen und die Folgerungen gelten zu lassen, wie es der kritische Idealist tut, der seiner Behauptung: die Welt ist meine Vorstellung, den obigen Beweisgang zugrunde legt. (Eduard von Hartmann gibt in seiner Schrift «Das Grundproblem der Erkenntnistheorie» eine ausführliche Darstellung dieses Beweisganges.)

[ 2 ] Ein anderes ist die Richtigkeit des kritischen Idealismus, ein anderes die Überzeugungskraft seiner Beweise. Wie es mit der ersteren steht, wird sich später im Zusammenhange unserer Ausführungen ergeben. Die Überzeugungskraft seines Beweises ist aber gleich Null. Wenn man ein Haus baut, und bei Herstellung des ersten Stockwerkes bricht das Erdgeschoß in sich zusammen, so stürzt das erste Stockwerk mit. Der naive Realismus und der kritische Idealismus verhalten sich wie dies Erdgeschoß zum ersten Stockwerk.

[ 3 ] Wer der Ansicht ist, daß die ganze wahrgenommene Welt nur eine vorgestellte ist, und zwar die Wirkung der mir unbekannten Dinge auf meine Seele, für den geht die eigentliche Erkenntnisfrage natürlich nicht auf die nur in der Seele vorhandenen Vorstellungen, sondern auf die jenseits unseres Bewußtseins liegenden, von uns unabhängigen Dinge. Er fragt: Wieviel können wir von den letzteren mittelbar erkennen, da sie unserer Beobachtung unmittelbar nicht zugänglich sind? Der auf diesem Standpunkt Stehende kümmert sich nicht um den inneren Zusammenhang seiner bewußten Wahrnehmungen, sondern um deren nicht mehr bewußte Ursachen, die ein von ihm unabhängiges Dasein haben, während, nach seiner Ansicht, die Wahrnehmungen verschwinden, sobald er seine Sinne von den Dingen abwendet. Unser Bewußtsein wirkt, von diesem Gesichtspunkte aus, wie ein Spiegel, dessen Bilder von bestimmten Dingen auch in dem Augenblicke verschwinden, in dem seine spiegelnde Fläche ihnen nicht zugewandt ist. Wer aber die Dinge selbst nicht sieht, sondern nur ihre Spiegelbilder, der muß aus dem Verhalten der letzteren über die Beschaffenheit der ersteren durch Schlüsse indirekt sich unterrichten. Auf diesem Standpunkte steht die neuere Naturwissenschaft, welche die Wahrnehmungen nur als letztes Mittel benutzt, um Aufschluß über die hinter denselben stehenden und allein wahrhaft seienden Vorgänge des Stoffes zu gewinnen. Wenn der Philosoph als kritischer Idealist überhaupt ein Sein gelten läßt, dann geht sein Erkenntnisstreben mit mittelbarer Benutzung der Vorstellungen allein auf dieses Sein. Sein Interesse überspringt die subjektive Welt der Vorstellungen und geht auf das Erzeugende dieser Vorstellungen los.

[ 4 ] Der kritische Idealist kann aber so weit gehen, daß er sagt: ich bin in meine Vorstellungswelt eingeschlossen und kann aus ihr nicht hinaus. Wenn ich ein Ding hinter meinen Vorstellungen denke, so ist dieser Gedanke doch auch weiter nichts als meine Vorstellung. Ein solcher Idealist wird dann das Ding an sich entweder ganz leugnen oder wenigstens davon erklären, daß es für uns Menschen gar keine Bedeutung habe, das ist, so gut wie nicht da sei, weil wir nichts von ihm wissen können.

[ 5 ] Einem kritischen Idealisten dieser Art erscheint die ganze Welt als ein Traum, dem gegenüber jeder Erkenntnisdrang einfach sinnlos wäre. Für ihn kann es nur zwei Gattungen von Menschen geben: Befangene, die ihre eigenen Traumgespinste für wirkliche Dinge halten, und Weise, die die Nichtigkeit dieser Traumwelt durchschauen, und die nach und nach alle Lust verlieren müssen, sich weiter darum zu bekümmern. Für diesen Standpunkt kann auch die eigene Persönlichkeit zum bloßen Traumbilde werden. Gerade so wie unter den Bildern des Schlaftraums unser eigenes Traumbild erscheint, so tritt im wachen Bewußtsein die Vorstellung des eigenen Ich zu der Vorstellung der Außenwelt hinzu. Wir haben im Bewußtsein dann nicht unser wirkliches Ich, sondern nur unsere Ichvorstellung gegeben. Wer nun leugnet, daß es Dinge gibt, oder wenigstens, daß wir von ihnen etwas wissen können: der muß auch das Dasein beziehungsweise die Erkenntnis der eigenen Persönlichkeit leugnen. Der kritische Idealist kommt dann zu der Behauptung: «Alle Realität verwandelt sich in einen wunderbaren Traum, ohne ein Leben, von welchem geträumt wird, und ohne einen Geist, dem da träumt; in einen Traum, der in einem Traume von sich selbst zusammenhängt» (vergleiche Fichte, Die Bestimmung des Menschen).

[ 6 ] Gleichgültig, ob derjenige, der das unmittelbare Leben als Traum zu erkennen glaubt, hinter diesem Traum nichts mehr vermutet, oder ob er seine Vorstellungen auf wirkliche Dinge bezieht: das Leben selbst muß für ihn alles wissenschaftliche Interesse verlieren. Während aber für denjenigen, der mit dem Traume das uns zugängliche All erschöpft glaubt, alle Wissenschaft ein Unding ist, wird für den andern, der sich befugt glaubt, von den Vorstellungen auf die Dinge zu schließen, die Wissenschaft in der Erforschung dieser «Dinge an sich» bestehen. Die erstere Weltansicht kann mit dem Namen absoluter Illusionismus bezeichnet werden, die zweite nennt ihr konsequentester Vertreter, Eduard von Hartmann, transzendentalen Realismus. 1Transzendental wird im Sinne dieser Weltanschauung eine Erkenntnis genannt, welche sich bewußt glaubt, daß über die Dinge an sich nicht direkt etwas ausgesagt werden könne, sondern welche indirekt Schlüsse von dem bekannten Subjektiven auf das Unbekannte, jenseits des Subjektiven Liegende (Transzendente) macht. Das Ding an sich ist nach dieser Ansicht jenseits des Gebietes der uns unmittelbar erkennbaren Welt, d.i. transzendent. — Unsere Welt kann aber auf das Transzendente transzendental bezogen werden. Realismus heißt Hartmanns Anschauung, weil sie über das Subjektive, Ideale hinaus, auf das Transzendente, Reale geht.

[ 7 ] Diese beiden Ansichten haben mit dem naiven Realismus das gemein, daß sie Fuß in der Welt zu fassen suchen durch eine Untersuchung der Wahrnehmungen. Sie können aber innerhalb dieses Gebietes nirgends einen festen Punkt finden.

[ 8 ] Eine Hauptfrage für den Bekenner des transzendentalen Realismus müßte sein: wie bringt das Ich aus sich selbst die Vorstellungswelt zustande? Für eine uns gegebene Welt von Vorstellungen, die verschwindet, sobald wir unsere Sinne der Außenwelt verschließen, kann ein ernstes Erkenntnisstreben sich insofern erwärmen, als sie das Mittel ist, die Welt des an sich seienden Ich mittelbar zu erforschen. Wenn die Dinge unserer Erfahrung Vorstellungen wären, dann gliche unser alltägliches Leben einem Traume und die Erkenntnis des wahren Tatbestandes dem Erwachen. Auch unsere Traumbilder interessieren uns so lange, als wir träumen, folglich die Traumnatur nicht durchschauen. In dem Augenblicke des Erwachens fragen wir nicht mehr nach dem inneren Zusammenhange unserer Traumbilder, sondern nach den physikalischen, physiologischen und psychologischen Vorgängen, die ihnen zum Grunde liegen. Ebensowenig kann sich der Philosoph, der die Welt für seine Vorstellung hält, für den inneren Zusammenhang der Einzelheiten in derselben interessieren. Falls er überhaupt ein seiendes Ich gelten läßt, dann wird er nicht fragen, wie hängt eine seiner Vorstellungen mit einer anderen zusammen, sondern was geht in der von ihm unabhängigen Seele vor, während sein Bewußtsein einen bestimmten Vorstellungsablauf enthält. Wenn ich träume, daß ich Wein trinke, der mir ein Brennen im Kehlkopf verursache und dann mit Hustenreiz aufwache (vergleiche Weygandt, Entstehung der Träume, 1893), so hört im Augenblicke des Erwachens die Traumhandlung auf, für mich ein Interesse zu haben. Mein Augenmerk ist nur noch auf die physiologischen und psychologischen Prozesse gerichtet, durch die der Hustenreiz sich symbolisch in dem Traumbilde zum Ausdruck bringt. In ähnlicher Weise muß der Philosoph, sobald er von dem Vorstellungscharakter der gegebenen Welt überzeugt ist, von dieser sofort auf die dahinter steckende wirkliche Seele überspringen. Schlimmer steht die Sache allerdings, wenn der Illusionismus das Ich an sich hinter den Vorstellungen ganz leugnet, oder es wenigstens für unerkennbar hält. Zu einer solchen Ansicht kann sehr leicht die Beobachtung führen, daß es dem Träumen gegenüber zwar den Zustand des Wachens gibt, in dem wir Gelegenheit haben, die Träume zu durchschauen und auf reale Verhältnisse zu beziehen, daß wir aber keinen zu dem wachen Bewußtseinsleben in einem ähnlichen Verhältnisse stehenden Zustand haben. Wer zu dieser Ansicht sich bekennt, dem geht die Einsicht ab, daß es etwas gibt, das sich in der Tat zum bloßen Wahrnehmen verhält wie das Erfahren im wachen Zustande zum Träumen. Dieses Etwas ist das Denken.

[ 9 ] Dem naiven Menschen kann der Mangel an Einsicht, auf den hier gedeutet wird, nicht angerechnet werden. Er gibt sich dem Leben hin und hält die Dinge so für wirklich, wie sie sich ihm in der Erfahrung darbieten. Der erste Schritt aber, der über diesen Standpunkt hinaus unternommen wird, kann nur in der Frage bestehen: wie verhält sich das Denken zur Wahrnehmung? Ganz einerlei, ob die Wahrnehmung in der mir gegebenen Gestalt vor und nach meinem Vorstellen weiterbesteht oder nicht: wenn ich irgend etwas über sie aussagen will, so kann es nur mit Hilfe des Denkens geschehen. Wenn ich sage: die Welt ist meine Vorstellung, so habe ich das Ergebnis eines Denkprozesses ausgesprochen, und wenn mein Denken auf die Welt nicht anwendbar ist, so ist dieses Ergebnis ein Irrtum. Zwischen die Wahrnehmung und jede Art von Aussage über dieselbe schiebt sich das Denken ein.

[ 10 ] Den Grund, warum das Denken bei der Betrachtung der Dinge zumeist übersehen wird, haben wir bereits angegeben (vergleiche Seite 42f.). Er liegt in dem Umstande, daß wir nur auf den Gegenstand, über den wir denken, nicht aber zugleich auf das Denken unsere Aufmerksamkeit richten. Das naive Bewußtsein behandelt daher das Denken wie etwas, das mit den Dingen nichts zu tun hat, sondern ganz abseits von denselben steht und seine Betrachtungen über die Welt anstellt. Das Bild, das der Denker von den Erscheinungen der Welt entwirft, gilt nicht als etwas, was zu den Dingen gehört, sondern als ein nur im Kopfe des Menschen existierendes; die Welt ist auch fertig ohne dieses Bild. Die Welt ist fix und fertig in allen ihren Substanzen und Kräften; und von dieser fertigen Welt entwirft der Mensch ein Bild. Die so denken, muß man nur fragen: mit welchem Rechte erklärt ihr die Welt für fertig, ohne das Denken? Bringt nicht mit der gleichen Notwendigkeit die Welt das Denken im Kopfe des Menschen hervor, wie die Blüte an der Pflanze? Pflanzet ein Samenkorn in den Boden. Es treibt Wurzel und Stengel. Es entfaltet sich zuBlättern und Blüten. Stellet die Pflanze euch selbst gegenüber. Sie verbindet sich in eurer Seele mit einem bestimmten Begriffe. Warum gehört dieser Begriff weniger zur ganzen Pflanze als Blatt und Blüte? Ihr saget: die Blätter und Blüten sind ohne ein wahrnehmendes Subjekt da; der Begriff erscheint erst, wenn sich der Mensch der Pflanze gegenüberstellt. Ganz wohl. Aber auch Blüten und Blätter entstehen an der Pflanze nur, wenn Erde da ist, in die der Keim gelegt werden kann, wenn Licht und Luft da sind, in denen sich Blätter und Blüten entfalten können. Gerade so entsteht der Begriff der Pflanze, wenn ein denkendes Bewußtsein an die Pflanze herantritt.

[ 11 ] Es ist ganz willkürlich, die Summe dessen, was wir von einem Dinge durch die bloße Wahrnehmung erfahren, für eine Totalität, für ein Ganzes zu halten, und dasjenige, was sich durch die denkende Betrachtung ergibt, als ein solches Hinzugekommenes, das mit der Sache selbst nichts zu tun habe. Wenn ich heute eine Rosenknospe erhalte, so ist das Bild, das sich meiner Wahrnehmung darbietet, nur zunächst ein abgeschlossenes. Wenn ich die Knospe in Wasser setze, so werde ich morgen ein ganz anderes Bild meines Objektes erhalten. Wenn ich mein Auge von der Rosenknospe nicht abwende, so sehe ich den heutigen Zustand in den morgigen durch unzählige Zwischenstufen kontinuierlich übergehen. Das Bild, das sich mir in einem bestimmten Augenblicke darbietet, ist nur ein zufälliger Ausschnitt aus dem in einem fortwährenden Werden begriffenen Gegenstande. Setze ich die Knospe nicht in Wasser, so bringt sie eine ganze Reihe von Zuständen nicht zur Entwickelung, die der Möglichkeit nach in ihr lagen. Ebenso kann ich morgen verhindert sein, die Blüte weiter zu beobachten und dadurch ein unvollständiges Bild haben.

[ 12 ] Es ist eine ganz unsachliche, an Zufälligkeiten sich heftende Meinung, die von dem in einer gewissen Zeit sich darbietenden Bilde erklärte: das ist die Sache.

[ 13 ] Ebensowenig ist es statthaft, die Summe der Wahrnehmungsmerkmale für die Sache zu erklären. Es wäre sehr wohl möglich, daß ein Geist zugleich und ungetrennt von der Wahrnehmung den Begriff mitempfangen könnte. Ein solcher Geist würde gar nicht auf den Einfall kommen, den Begriff als etwas nicht zur Sache Gehöriges zu betrachten. Er müßte ihm ein mit der Sache unzertrennlich verbundenes Dasein zuschreiben.

[ 14 ] Ich will mich noch durch ein Beispiel deutlicher machen. Wenn ich einen Stein in horizontaler Richtung durch die Luft werfe, so sehe ich ihn nacheinander an verschiedenen Orten. Ich verbinde diese Orte zu einer Linie. In der Mathematik lerne ich verschiedeneLinienformen kennen, darunter auch die Parabel. Ich kenne die Parabel als eine Linie, die entsteht, wenn sich ein Punkt in einer gewissen gesetzmäßigen Art bewegt. Wenn ich die Bedingungen untersuche, unter denen sich der geworfene Stein bewegt, so finde ich, daß die Linie seiner Bewegung mit der identisch ist, die ich als Parabel kenne. Daß sich der Stein gerade in einerParabel bewegt, das ist eine Folge der gegebenen Bedingungen und folgt mit Notwendigkeit aus diesen. Die Form der Parabel gehört zur ganzen Erscheinung, wie alles andere, was an derselben in Betracht kommt. Dem oben beschriebenen Geist, der nicht den Umweg des Denkens nehmen müßte, wäre nicht nur eine Summe von Gesichtsempfindungen an verschiedenen Orten gegeben, sondern ungetrennt von der Erscheinung auch die parabolische Form derWurflinie, die wir erst durch Denken zu der Erscheinung hinzufügen.

[ 15 ] Nicht an den Gegenständen liegt es, daß sie uns zunächst ohne die entsprechenden Begriffe gegeben werden, sondern an unserer geistigen Organisation. Unsere totale Wesenheit funktioniert in der Weise, daß ihr bei jedem Dinge der Wirklichkeit von zwei Seiten her die Elemente zufließen, die für die Sache in Betracht kommen: von seiten des Wahrnehmens und des Denkens.

[ 16 ] Es hat mit der Natur der Dinge nichts zu tun, wie ich organisiert bin, sie zu erfassen. Der Schnitt zwischen Wahrnehmen und Denken ist erst in dem Augenblicke vorhanden, wo ich, der Betrachtende, den Dingen gegenübertrete.Welche Elemente dem Dinge angehören und welche nicht, kann aber durchaus nicht davon abhängen, auf welche Weise ich zur Kenntnis dieser Elemente gelange.

[ 17 ] Der Mensch ist ein eingeschränktes Wesen. Zunächst ist er ein Wesen unter anderen Wesen. Sein Dasein gehört dem Raum und der Zeit an. Dadurch kann ihm auch immer nur ein beschränkter Teil des gesamten Universums gegeben sein. Dieser beschränkte Teil schließt sich aber ringsherum sowohl zeitlich wie räumlich an anderes an. Wäre unser Dasein so mit den Dingen verknüpft, daß jedes Weltgeschehen zugleich unser Geschehen wäre, dann gäbe es den Unterschied zwischen uns und den Dingen nicht. Dann aber gäbe es für uns auch keine Einzeldinge. Da ginge alles Geschehen kontinuierlich ineinander über. Der Kosmos wäre eine Einheit und eine in sich beschlossene Ganzheit. Der Strom des Geschehens hätte nirgends eine Unterbrechung. Wegen unserer Beschränkung erscheint uns als Einzelheit, was in Wahrheit nicht Einzelheit ist. Nirgends ist zum Beispiel die Einzelqualität des Rot abgesondert für sich vorhanden. Sie ist allseitig von anderen Qualitäten umgeben, zu denen sie gehört, und ohne die sie nicht bestehen könnte. Für uns aber ist es eine Notwendigkeit, gewisse Ausschnitte aus der Welt herauszuheben, und sie für sich zu betrachten. Unser Auge kann nur einzelne Farben nacheinander aus einem vielgliedrigen Farbenganzen, unser Verstand nur einzelne Begriffe aus einem zusammenhängenden Begriffssysteme erfassen. Diese Absonderung ist ein subjektiver Akt, bedingt durch den Umstand, daß wir nicht identisch sind mit dem Weltprozeß, sondern ein Wesen unter anderen Wesen.

[ 18 ] Es kommt nun alles darauf an, die Stellung des Wesens, das wir selbst sind, zu den anderen Wesen zu bestimmen. Diese Bestimmung muß unterschieden werden von dem bloßen Bewußtwerden unseres Selbst. Das letztere beruht auf dem Wahrnehmen wie das Bewußtwerden jedes anderen Dinges. Die Selbstwahrnehmung zeigt mir eine Summe von Eigenschaften, die ich ebenso zu dem Ganzen meiner Persönlichkeit zusammenfasse, wie ich die Eigenschaften: gelb, metallglänzend, hart usw. zu der Einheit «Gold» zusammenfasse. Die Selbstwahrnehmung führt mich nicht aus dem Bereiche dessen hinaus, was zu mir gehört. Dieses Selbstwahrnehmen ist zu unterscheiden von dem denkenden Selbst-bestimmen. Wie ich eine einzelne Wahrnehmung der Außenwelt durch das Denken eingliedere in den Zusammenhang der Welt, so gliedere ich die an mir selbst gemachten Wahrnehmungen in den Weltprozeß durch das Denken ein. Mein Selbstwahrnehmen schließt mich innerhalb bestimmter Grenzen ein; mein Denken hat nichts zu tun mit diesen Grenzen. In diesem Sinne bin ich ein Doppelwesen. Ich bin eingeschlossen in das Gebiet, das ich als das meiner Persönlichkeit wahrnehme, aber ich bin Träger einer Tätigkeit, die von einer höheren Sphäre aus mein begrenztes Dasein bestimmt. Unser Denken ist nicht individuell wie unser Empfinden und Fühlen. Es ist universell. Es erhält ein individuelles Gepräge in jedem einzelnen Menschen nur dadurch, daß es auf sein individuelles Fühlen und Empfinden bezogen ist. Durch diese besonderen Färbungen des universellen Denkens unterscheiden sich die einzelnen Menschen voneinander. Ein Dreieck hat nur einen einzigen Begriff. Für den Inhalt dieses Begriffes ist es gleichgültig, ob ihn der menschliche Bewußtseinsträger A oder B faßt. Er wird aber von jedem der zwei Bewußtseinsträger in individueller Weise erfaßt werden.

[ 19 ] Diesem Gedanken steht ein schwer zu überwindendes Vorurteil der Menschen gegenüber. Die Befangenheit kommt nicht bis zu der Einsicht, daß der Begriff des Dreieckes, den mein Kopf erfaßt, derselbe ist, wie der durch den Kopf meines Nebenmenschen ergriffene. Der naive Mensch hält sich für den Bildner seiner Begriffe. Er glaubt deshalb, jede Person habe ihre eigenen Begriffe. Es ist eine Grundforderung des philosophischen Denkens, dieses Vorurteil zu überwinden. Der eine einheitliche Begriff des Dreiecks wird nicht dadurch zu einer Vielheit, daß er von vielen gedacht wird. Denn das Denken der Vielen selbst ist eine Einheit.

[ 20 ] In dem Denken haben wir das Element gegeben, das unsere besondere Individualität mit dem Kosmos zu einem Ganzen zusammenschließt. Indem wir empfinden und fühlen (auch wahrnehmen), sind wir einzelne, indem wir denken, sind wir das all-eine Wesen, das alles durchdringt. Dies ist der tiefere Grund unserer Doppelnatur: Wir sehen in uns eine schlechthin absolute Kraft zum Dasein kommen, eine Kraft, die universell ist, aber wir lernen sie nicht bei ihrem Ausströmen aus dem Zentrum der Welt kennen, sondern in einem Punkte der Peripherie. Wäre das erstere der Fall, dann wüßten wir in dem Augenblicke, in dem wir zum Bewußtsein kommen, das ganze Welträtsel. Da wir aber in einem Punkte der Peripherie stehen und unser eigenes Dasein in bestimmte Grenzen eingeschlossen finden, müssen wir das außerhalb unseres eigenen Wesens gelegene Gebiet mit Hilfe des aus dem allgemeinen Weltensein in uns hereinragenden Denkens kennen lernen.

[ 21 ] Dadurch, daß das Denken in uns übergreift über unser Sondersein und auf das allgemeine Weltensein sich bezieht, entsteht in uns der Trieb der Erkenntnis. Wesen ohne Denken haben diesen Trieb nicht. Wenn sich ihnen andere Dinge gegenüberstellen, so sind dadurch keine Fragen gegeben. Diese anderen Dinge bleiben solchen Wesen äußerlich. Bei denkenden Wesen stößt dem Außendinge gegenüber der Begriff auf. Er ist dasjenige, was wir von dem Dinge nicht von außen, sondern von innen empfangen. Den Ausgleich, die Vereinigung der beiden Elemente, des inneren und des äußeren, soll die Erkenntnis liefern.

[ 22 ] Die Wahrnehmung ist also nichts Fertiges, Abgeschlossenes, sondern die eine Seite der totalen Wirklichkeit. Die andere Seite ist der Begriff. Der Erkenntnisakt ist die Syn these von Wahrnehmung und Begriff. Wahrnehmung und Begriff eines Dinges machen aber erst das ganze Ding aus.

[ 23 ] Die vorangehenden Ausführungen liefern den Beweis, daß es ein Unding ist, etwas anderes Gemeinsames in den Einzelwesen der Welt zu suchen, als den ideellen Inhalt, den uns das Denken darbietet. Alle Versuche müssen scheitern, die nach einer anderen Welteinheit streben als nach diesem in sich zusammenhängenden ideellen Inhalt, welchen wir uns durch denkende Betrachtung unserer Wahrnehmungen erwerben. Nicht ein menschlich-persönlicher Gott, nicht Kraft oder Stoff, noch der ideenlose Wille (Schopenhauers) können uns als eine universelle Welteinheit gelten. Diese Wesenheiten gehören sämtlich nur einem beschränkten Gebiet unserer Beobachtung an. Menschlich begrenzte Persönlichkeit nehmen wir nur an uns, Kraft und Stoff an den Außendingen wahr. Was den Willen betrifft, so kann er nur als die Tätigkeitsäußerung unserer beschränkten Persönlichkeit gelten. Schopenhauer will es vermeiden, das «abstrakte» Denken zum Träger der Welteinheit zu machen und sucht statt dessen etwas, das sich ihm unmittelbar als ein Reales darbietet. Dieser Philosoph glaubt, daß wir der Welt nimmermehr beikommen, wenn wir sie als Außenwelt ansehen. «In der Tat würde die nachgeforschte Bedeutung der mir lediglich als meine Vorstellung gegenüberstehenden Welt, oder der Übergang von ihr, als bloßer Vorstellung des erkennenden Subjekts, zu dem, was sie noch außerdem sein mag, nimmermehr zu finden sein, wenn der Forscher selbst nichts weiter als das rein erkennende Subjekt (geflügelter Engelskopf ohne Leib) wäre. Nun aber wurzelt er selbst in jener Welt, findet sich nämlich in ihr als Individuum, das heißt sein Erkennen, welches der bedingende Träger der ganzen Welt als Vorstellung ist, ist dennoch durchaus vermittelt durch einen Leib, dessen Affektionen, wie gezeigt, dem Verstande der Ausgangspunkt der Anschauung jener Welt sind. Dieser Leib ist dem rein erkennenden Subjekt als solchem eine Vorstellung wie jede andere, ein Objekt unter Objekten: die Bewegungen, die Aktionen desselben sind ihm insoweit nicht anders als wie die Veränderungen aller anderen anschaulichen Objekte bekannt, und wären ihm ebenso fremd und unverständlich, wenn die Bedeutung derselben ihm nicht etwa auf eine ganz andere Art enträtselt wäre.... Dem Subjekt des Erkennens, welches durch seine Identität mit dem Leibe als Individuum auftritt, ist dieser Leib auf zwei ganz verschiedene Weisen gegeben: einmal als Vorstellung in verständiger Anschauung, als Objekt unter Objekten, und dem Gesetzen dieser unterworfen; sodann aber auch zugleich auf eine ganz andere Weise, nämlich als jenes jedem unmittelbar Bekannte, welches das Wort Wille bezeichnet. Jeder wahre Akt seines Willens ist sofort und unausbleiblich auch eine Bewegung seines Leibes: er kann den Akt nicht wirklich wollen, ohne zugleich wahrzunehmen, daß er als Bewegung des Leibes erscheint. Der Willensakt und die Aktion des Leibes sind nicht zwei objektiv erkannte verschiedene Zustände, die das Band der Kausalität verknüpft, stehen nicht im Verhältnis der Ursache und Wirkung; sondern sie sind eines und dasselbe, nur auf zwei gänzlich verschiedene Weisen gegeben: einmal ganz unmittelbar und einmal in der Anschauung für den Verstand.» Durch diese Auseinandersetzungen glaubt sich Schopenhauer berechtigt, in dem Leibe des Menschen die «Objektität» des Willens zu finden. Er ist der Meinung, in den Aktionen des Leibes unmittelbar eine Realität, das Ding an sich in concreto zu fühlen. Gegen diese Ausführungen muß eingewendetwerden, daß uns die Aktionen unseres Leibes nur durch Selbstwahrnehmungen zum Bewußtsein kommen und als solche nichts voraus haben vor anderen Wahrnehmungen. Wenn wir ihre Wesenheit erkennen wollen, so können wir dies nur durch denkende Betrachtung, das heißt durch Eingliederung derselben in das ideelle System unserer Begriffe und Ideen.

[ 24 ] Am tiefsten eingewurzelt in das naive Menschheitsbewußtsein ist die Meinung: das Denken sei abstrakt, ohne allen konkreten Inhalt. Es könne höchstens ein «ideelles» Gegenbild der Welteinheit liefern, nicht etwa diese selbst. Wer so urteilt, hat sich niemals klar gemacht, was die Wahrnehmung ohne den Begriff ist. Sehen wir uns nur diese Welt der Wahrnehmung an: als ein bloßes Nebeneinander im Raum und Nacheinander in der Zeit, ein Aggregat zusammenhangloser Einzelheiten erscheint sie. Keines der Dinge, die da auftreten und abgehen auf derWahrnehmungsbühne, hat mit dem andern unmittelbar etwas zu tun, was sich wahrnehmen läßt. Die Welt ist da eine Mannigfaltigkeit von gleichwertigen Gegenständen. Keiner spielt eine größere Rolle als der andere im Getriebe der Welt. Soll uns klar werden, daß diese oder jene Tatsache größere Bedeutung hat als die andere, so müssen wir unser Denken befragen. Ohne das funktionierende Denken erscheint uns das rudimentäre Organ des Tieres, das ohne Bedeutung für dessen Leben ist, gleichwertig mit dem wichtigsten Körpergliede. Die einzelnen Tatsachen treten in ihrer Bedeutung in sich und für die übrigen Teile der Welt erst hervor, wenn das Denken seine Fäden zieht von Wesen zu Wesen. Diese Tätigkeit des Denkens ist eine inhaltvolle. Denn nur durch einen ganz bestimmten konkreten Inhalt kann ich wissen, warum die Schnecke auf einer niedrigeren Organisationsstufe steht als der Löwe. Der bloße Anblick, die Wahrnehmung gibt mir keinen Inhalt, der mich über die Vollkommenheit der Organisation belehren könnte.

[ 25 ] Diesen Inhalt bringt das Denken der Wahrnehmung aus der Begriffs, und Ideenwelt des Menschen entgegen. Im Gegensatz zum Wahrnehmungsinhalte, der uns von außen gegeben ist, erscheint der Gedankeninhalt im Innern. Die Form, in der er zunächst auftritt, wollen wir als Intuition bezeichnen. Sie ist für das Denken, was die Beobachtung für die Wahrnehmung ist. Intuition und Beobachtung sind die Quellen unserer Erkenntnis. Wir stehen einem beobachteten Dinge der Welt so lange fremd gegenüber, so lange wir in unserem Innern nicht die entsprechende Intuition haben, die uns das in der Wahrnehmung fehlende Stück der Wirklichkeit ergänzt. Wer nicht die Fähigkeit hat, die den Dingen entsprechenden Intuitionen zu finden, dem bleibt die volle Wirklichkeit verschlossen. Wie der Farbenblinde nur Helligkeitsunterschiede ohne Farbenqualitäten sieht, so kann der Intuitionslose nur unzusammenhängende Wahrnehmungsfragmente beobachten.

[ 26 ] Ein Ding erklären, verständlich machen heißt nichts anderes, als es in den Zusammenhang hinein versetzen, aus dem es durch die oben geschilderte Einrichtung unserer Organisation herausgerissen ist. Ein von dem Weltganzen abgetrenntes Ding gibt es nicht. Alle Sonderung hat bloß subjektive Geltung für unsere Organisation. Für uns legt sich das Weltganze auseinander in: oben und unten, vor und nach, Ursache und Wirkung, Gegenstand und Vorstellung, Stoff und Kraft, Objekt und Subjekt usw. Was uns in der Beobachtung an Einzelheiten gegenübertritt, das verbindet sich durch die zusammenhängende, einheitliche Welt unserer Intuitionen Glied für Glied; und wir fügen durch das Denken alles wieder in eins zusammen, was wir durch das Wahrnehmen getrennt haben.

[ 27 ] Die Rätselhaftigkeit eines Gegenstandes liegt in seinem Sonderdasein. Diese ist aber von uns hervorgerufen und kann, innerhalb der Begriffswelt, auch wieder aufgehoben werden.

[ 28 ] Außer durch Denken und Wahrnehmen ist uns direkt nichts gegeben. Es entsteht nun die Frage: wie steht es gemäß unseren Ausführungen mit der Bedeutung der Wahrnehmung? Wir haben zwar erkannt, daß der Beweis, den der kritische Idealismus für die subjektive Natur der Wahrnehmungen vorbringt, in sich zerfällt; aber mit der Einsicht in die Unrichtigkeit des Beweises ist noch nicht ausgemacht, daß die Sache selbst auf einem Irrtume beruht. Der kritische Idealismus geht in seiner Beweisführung nicht von der absoluten Natur des Denkens aus, sondern stützt sich darauf, daß der naive Realismus, konsequent verfolgt, sich selbst aufhebe. Wie stellt sich die Sache, wenn die Absolutheit des Denkens erkannt ist?

[ 29 ] Nehmen wir an, es trete eine bestimmte Wahrnehmung, zum Beispiel Rot, in meinem Bewußtsein auf. Die Wahrnehmung erweist sich bei fortgehender Betrachtung in Zusammenhang stehend mit anderen Wahrnehmungen, zum Beispiel einer bestimmten Figur, mit gewissen Temperatur-und Tastwahrnehmungen. Diesen Zusammenhang bezeichne ich als einen Gegenstand der Sinnenwelt. Ich kann mich nun fragen: was findet sich außer dem angeführten noch in jenem Raumausschnitte, in dem mir obige Wahrnehmungen erscheinen. Ich werde mechanische, chemische und andere Vorgänge innerhalb des Raumteiles finden. Nun gehe ich weiter und untersuche die Vorgänge, die ich auf dem Wege von dem Gegenstande zu meinem Sinnesorgane finde. Ich kann Bewegungsvorgänge in einem elastischen Mittel finden, die ihrer Wesenheit nach nicht das geringste mit den ursprünglichen Wahrnehmungen gemein haben. Das gleiche Resultat erhalte ich, wenn ich die weitere Vermittelung vom Sinnesorgane zum Gehirn untersuche. Auf jedem dieser Gebiete mache ich neue Wahrnehmungen; aber was als bindendes Mittel sich durch alle diese räumlich und zeitlich auseinanderliegenden Wahrnehmungen hindurchwebt, das ist das Denken. Die den Schall vermittelnden Schwingungen der Luft sind mir gerade so als Wahrnehmungen gegeben wie der Schall selbst. Nur das Denken gliedert alle diese Wahrnehmungen aneinander und zeigt sie in ihren gegenseitigen Beziehungen. Wir können nicht davon sprechen, daß es außer dem unmittelbar Wahrgenommenen noch anderes gibt, als dasjenige, was durch die ideellen (durch das Denken aufzudeckenden) Zusammenhänge der Wahrnehmungen erkannt wird. Die über das bloß Wahrgenommene hinausgehende Beziehung der Wahrnehmungsobjekte zum Wahrnehmungssubjekte ist also eine bloß ideelle, das heißt nur durch Begriffe ausdrückbare. Nur in dem Falle, wenn ich wahrnehmen könnte, wie das Wahrnehmungsobjekt das Wahrnehmungssubjekt affiziert, oder umgekehrt, wenn ich den Aufbau des Wahrnehmungsgebildes durch das Subjekt beobachten könnte, wäre es möglich, so zu sprechen, wie es die moderne Physiologie und der auf sie gebaute kritische Idealismus tun. Diese Ansicht verwechselt einen ideellen Bezug (des Objekts auf das Subjekt) mit einem Prozeß, von dem nur gesprochen werden könnte, wenn er wahrzunehmen wäre. Der Satz «Keine Farbe ohne farbenempfindendes Auge» kann daher nicht die Bedeutung haben, daß das Auge die Farbe hervorbringt, sondern nur die, daß ein durch das Denken erkennbarer ideeller Zusammenhang besteht zwischen der Wahrnehmung Farbe und der Wahrnehmung Auge. Die empirische Wissenschaft wird festzustellen haben, wie sich die Eigenschaften des Auges und die der Farben zueinander verhalten; durch welche Einrichtungen das Sehorgan die Wahrnehmung der Farben vermittelt usw. Ich kann verfolgen, wie eine Wahrnehmung auf die andere folgt, wie sie räumlich mit andern in Beziehung steht; und dies dann in einen begrifflichen Ausdruck bringen; aber ich kann nicht wahrnehmen, wie eine Wahrnehmung aus dem Unwahrnehmbaren hervorgeht. Alle Bemühungen, zwischen den Wahrnehmungen andere alsGedankenbezüge zu suchen, müssen notwendig scheitern.

[ 30 ] Was ist also die Wahrnehmung? Diese Frage ist, im allgemeinen gestellt, absurd. Die Wahrnehmung tritt immer als eine ganz bestimmte, als konkreter Inhalt auf. Dieser Inhalt ist unmittelbar gegeben, und erschöpft sich in dem Gegebenen. Man kann in bezug auf dieses Gegebene nur fragen, was es außerhalb der Wahrnehmung, das ist: für das Denken ist. Die Frage nach dem «Was» einer Wahrnehmung kann also nur auf die begriffliche Intuition gehen, die ihr entspricht. Unter diesem Gesichtspunkte kann die Frage nach der Subjektivität der Wahrnehmung im Sinne des kritischen Idealismus gar nicht aufgeworfen werden. Als subjektiv darf nur bezeichnet werden, was als zum Subjekte gehörig wahrgenommen wird. Das Band zu bilden zwischen Subjektivem und Objektivem kommt keinem im naiven Sinn realen Prozeß, das heißt einem wahrnehmbaren Geschehen zu, sondern allein dem Denken. Es ist also für uns objektiv, was sich für die Wahrnehmung als außerhalb des Wahrnehmungssubjektes gelegen darstellt. Mein Wahrnehmungssubjekt bleibt für michwahrnehmbar,wenn der Tisch, der soeben vor mir steht, aus dem Kreise meiner Beobachtung verschwunden sein wird. Die Beobachtung des Tisches hat eine, ebenfalls bleibende, Veränderung in mir hervorgerufen. Ich behalte die Fähigkeit zurück, ein Bild des Tisches später wieder zu erzeugen. Diese Fähigkeit der Hervorbringung eines Bildes bleibt mit mir verbunden. Die Psychologie bezeichnet dieses Bild als Erinnerungsvorstellung. Es ist aber dasjenige, was allein mit Recht Vorstellung des Tisches genannt werden kann. Es entspricht dies nämlich der wahrnehmbaren Veränderung meines eigenen Zustandes durch die Anwesenheit des Tisches in meinem Gesichtsfelde. Und zwar bedeutet sie nicht die Veränderung irgendeines hinter dem Wahrnehmungssubjekte stehenden «Ich an sich», sondern die Veränderung des wahrnehmbaren Subjektes selbst. Die Vorstellung ist also eine subjektive Wahrnehmung im Gegensatz zur objektiven Wahrnehmung bei Anwesenheit des Gegenstandes im Wahrnehmungshorizonte. Das Zusammenwerfen jener subjektiven mit dieser objektiven Wahrnehmung führt zu dem Mißverständnisse des Idealismus: die Welt ist meine Vorstellung.

[ 31 ] Es wird sich nun zunächst darum handeln, den Begriff der Vorstellung näher zu bestimmen. Was wir bisher über sie vorgebracht haben, ist nicht der Begriff derselben, sondern weist nur den Weg, wo sie im Wahrnehmungsfelde zu finden ist. Der genaue Begriff der Vorstellung wird es uns dann auch möglich machen, einen befriedigenden Aufschluß über das Verhältnis von Vorstellung und Gegenstand zu gewinnen. Dies wird uns dann auch über die Grenze führen, wo das Verhältnis zwischen menschlichem Subjekt und der Welt angehörigem Objekt von dem rein begrifflichen Felde des Erkennens hinabgeführt wird in das konkrete individuelle Leben. Wissen wir erst, was wir von der Welt zu halten haben, dann wird es ein leichtes sein, auch uns danach einzurichten. Wir können erst mit voller Kraft tätig sein, wenn wir das der Welt angehörige Objekt kennen, dem wir unsere Tätigkeit widmen.

Zusatz zur Neuausgabe (1918)

[ 32 ] Die Anschauung, die hier gekennzeichnet ist, kann als eine solche angesehen werden, zu welcher der Mensch wie naturgemäß zunächst getrieben wird, wenn er beginnt, über sein Verhältnis zur Welt nachzudenken. Er sieht sich da in eine Gedankengestaltung verstrickt, die sich ihm auflöst, indem er sie bildet. Diese Gedankengestaltung ist eine solche, mit deren bloßer theoretischer Widerlegung nicht alles für sie Notwendige getan ist. Man muß sie durchleben, um aus der Einsicht in die Verirrung, in die sie führt, den Ausweg zu finden. Sie muß in einer Auseinandersetzung über das Verhältnis des Menschen zur Welt erscheinen nicht darum, weil man andere widerlegen will, von denen man glaubt, daß sie über dieses Verhältnis eine unrichtige Ansicht haben, sondern weil man kennen muß, in welche Verwirrung sich jedes erste Nachdenken über ein solches Verhältnis bringen kann. Man muß die Einsicht gewinnen, wie man sich selbst in bezug auf dieses erste Nachdenken widerlegt. Von einem solchen Gesichts punkte aus sind die obigen Ausführungen gemeint.

[ 33 ] Wer sich eine Anschauung über das Verhältnis des Menschen zur Welt erarbeiten will, wird sich bewußt, daß er mindestens einen Teil dieses Verhältnisses dadurch herstellt, daß er sich über die Weltdinge und Weltvorgänge Vorstellungen macht. Dadurch wird sein Blick von dem, was draußen in der Welt ist, abgezogen und auf seine Innenwelt, auf sein Vorstellungsleben gelenkt. Er beginnt sich zu sagen: ich kann zu keinem Ding und zu keinem Vorgang eine Beziehung haben, wenn nicht in mir eine Vorstellung auftritt. Von dem Bemerken dieses Tatbestandes ist dann nur ein Schritt zu der Meinung: ich erlebe aber doch nur meine Vorstellungen; von einer Welt draußen weiß ich nur, insofern sie Vorstellung in mir ist. Mit dieser Meinung ist der naive Wirklichkeitsstandpunkt verlassen, den der Mensch vor allem Nachsinnen über sein Verhältnis zur Welt einnimmt. Von diesem Standpunkt aus glaubt er, er habe es mit den wirklichen Dingen zu tun. Von diesem Standpunkt drängt die Selbstbesinnung ab. Sie läßt den Menschen gar nicht hinblicken auf eine Wirklichkeit, wie sie das naive Bewußtsein vor sich zu haben meint. Sie läßt ihn bloß auf seine Vorstellungen blicken; diese schieben sich ein zwischen die eigene Wesenheit und eine etwa wirkliche Welt, wie sie der naive Standpunkt glaubt behaupten zu dürfen. Der Mensch kann nicht mehr durch die eingeschobene Vorstellungswelt auf eine solche Wirklichkeit schauen. Er muß annehmen: er sei blind für diese Wirklichkeit. So entsteht der Gedanke von einem für die Erkenntnis unerreichbaren «Ding an sich». — Solange man bei der Betrachtung des Verhältnisses stehenbleibt, in das der Mensch durch sein Vorstellungsleben mit der Welt zu treten scheint, wird man dieser Gedankengestaltung nicht entgehen können. Auf dem naiven Wirklichkeitsstandpunkt kann man nicht bleiben, wenn man sich dem Drang nach Erkenntnis nicht künstlich verschließen will. Daß dieser Drang nach Erkenntnis des Verhältnisses von Mensch und Welt vorhanden ist, zeigt, daß dieser naive Standpunkt verlassen werden muß. Gäbe der naive Standpunkt etwas, was man als Wahrheit anerkennen kann, so könnte man diesen Drang nicht empfinden. — Aber man kommt nun nicht zu etwas anderem, das man als Wahrheit ansehen könnte, wenn man bloß den naiven Standpunkt verläßt, aber — ohne es zu bemerken — die Gedankenart beibehält, die er aufnötigt. Man verfällt in einen solchen Fehler, wenn man sich sagt: ich erlebe nur meine Vorstellungen, und während ich glaube, ich habe es mit Wirklichkeiten zu tun, sind mir nur meine Vorstellungen von Wirklichkeiten bewußt; ich muß deshalb annehmen, daß außerhalb des Umkreises meines Bewußtseins erst wahre Wirklichkeiten, «Dinge an sich» liegen, von denen ich unmittelbar gar nichts weiß, die irgendwie an mich herankommen und mich so beeinflussen, daß in mir meine Vorstellungswelt auflebt. Wer so denkt, der setzt in Gedanken zu der ihm vorliegenden Welt nur eine andere hinzu; aber er müßte bezüglich dieser Welt eigentlich mit seiner Gedankenarbeit wieder von vorne beginnen. Denn das unbekannte «Ding an sich» wird dabei gar nicht anders gedacht in seinem Verhältnisse zur Eigenwesenheit des Menschen als das bekannte des naiven Wirklichkeitsstandpunktes. — Man entgeht der Verwirrung, in die man durch die kritische Besonnenheit in bezug auf diesen Standpunkt gerät, nur, wenn man bemerkt, daß es innerhalb dessen, was man innen in sich und außen in der Welt wahrnehmend erleben kann, etwas gibt, das dem Verhängnis gar nicht verfallen kann, daß sich zwischen Vorgang und betrachtenden Menschen die Vorstellung einschiebt. Und dieses ist das Denken. Dem Denken gegenüber kann der Mensch auf dem naiven Wirklichkeitsstandpunkt verbleiben. Tut er es nicht, so geschieht das nur deshalb, weil er bemerkt hat, daß er für anderes diesen Standpunkt verlassen muß, aber nicht gewahr wird, daß die so gewonnene Einsicht nicht anwendbar auf das Denken ist. Wird er dies gewahr, dann eröffnet er sich den Zugang zu der anderen Einsicht, daß im Denken und durch das Denken dasjenige erkannt werden muß, wofür sich der Mensch blind zu machen scheint, indem er zwischen der Welt und sich das Vorstellungsleben einschieben muß. — Von durch den Verfasser dieses Buches sehr geschätzter Seite ist diesem der Vorwurf gemacht worden, daß er mit seiner Ausführung über das Denken bei einem naiven Realismus des Denkens stehenbleibe, wie ein solcher vorliege, wenn man die wirkliche Welt und die vorgestellte Welt für eines hält. Doch der Verfasser dieser Ausführungen glaubt eben in ihnen erwiesen zu haben, daß die Geltung dieses «naiven Realismus» für das Denken sich aus einer unbefangenen Beobachtung desselben notwendig ergibt; und daß der für anderes nicht geltende naive Realismus durch die Erkenntnis der wahren Wesenheit des Denkens überwunden wird.

V. The cognition of the world

[ 1 ] From the preceding considerations it follows that it is impossible to prove, by examining the content of our observations, that our perceptions are representations. This proof is to be provided by showing that if the process of perception takes place in the way we imagine it according to naive realist assumptions about the psychological and physiological constitution of our individual, then we are not dealing with things in themselves, but merely with our ideas about things. If naïve realism, pursued consistently, leads to results that are the exact opposite of its presuppositions, then these presuppositions must be labeled as unsuitable for establishing a worldview and must be dropped. In any case, it is inadmissible to reject the premises and accept the conclusions, as the critical idealist does, who bases his assertion that the world is my conception on the above line of reasoning. (Eduard von Hartmann gives a detailed account of this line of reasoning in his essay "Das Grundproblem der Erkenntnistheorie").

[ 2 ] Another is the correctness of critical idealism, another the persuasiveness of its proofs. How it stands with the former will emerge later in the context of our remarks. But the persuasiveness of its proof is zero. If you build a house and the ground floor collapses when the second floor is built, the first floor collapses with it. Naïve realism and critical idealism behave like this ground floor to the second floor.

[ 3 ] Those who are of the opinion that the whole perceived world is only an imagined one, namely the effect of things unknown to me on my soul, for them the real question of knowledge naturally does not concern the ideas that exist only in the soul, but rather the things that lie beyond our consciousness and are independent of us. He asks: How much of the latter can we recognize immediately, since they are not immediately accessible to our observation? The person on this standpoint is not concerned with the inner connection of his conscious perceptions, but with their causes, which are no longer conscious and have an existence independent of him, while, in his view, the perceptions disappear as soon as he turns his senses away from things. From this point of view, our consciousness acts like a mirror whose images of certain things also disappear the moment its reflecting surface is not turned towards them. But he who does not see the things themselves, but only their mirror images, must inform himself indirectly by inference from the behavior of the latter as to the nature of the former. This is the standpoint of modern natural science, which uses perceptions only as a last resort in order to gain information about the processes of matter that lie behind them and are the only true ones. If the philosopher, as a critical idealist, accepts a being at all, then his striving for knowledge, with the indirect use of perceptions, is directed solely towards this being. His interest skips the subjective world of ideas and focuses on the generative power of these ideas.

[ 4 ] The critical idealist, however, can go so far as to say: I am enclosed in my world of ideas and cannot escape from it. If I think a thing behind my imagination, then this thought is nothing more than my imagination. Such an idealist will then either deny the thing itself altogether or at least declare that it has no meaning for us humans, that is, that it is as good as non-existent, because we cannot know anything about it.

[ 5 ] To a critical idealist of this kind, the whole world appears as a dream against which any urge for knowledge would simply be meaningless. For him, there can only be two kinds of people: The biased, who consider their own dreams to be real things, and the wise, who see through the futility of this dream world and who must gradually lose all desire to concern themselves with it. From this point of view, one's own personality can also become a mere dream image. Just as our own dream image appears among the images of our sleep dream, so in waking consciousness the idea of our own ego is added to the idea of the outside world. In consciousness we have then not given our real ego, but only our ego image. Whoever denies that things exist, or at least that we can know anything about them, must also deny the existence or realization of his own personality. The critical idealist then comes to the assertion: "All reality is transformed into a wonderful dream, without a life that is dreamed of, and without a spirit that dreams; into a dream that is connected in a dream of itself" (cf. Fichte, The Destiny of Man).

[ 6 ] It makes no difference whether the person who believes to recognize immediate life as a dream no longer suspects anything behind this dream, or whether he relates his ideas to real things: life itself must lose all scientific interest for him. But while for those who believe that the universe accessible to us is exhausted by dreams, all science is an absurdity, for the other, who believes himself authorized to deduce things from ideas, science will consist in the investigation of these "things in themselves". The former world view can be referred to as absolute illusionism, the second is called transcendental realism by its most consistent representative, Eduard von Hartmann. 1Transcendental, in the sense of this worldview, is the name given to a knowledge that consciously believes that nothing can be said directly about things in themselves, but which draws indirect conclusions from the known subjective to the unknown that lies beyond the subjective (transcendental). According to this view, the thing in itself is beyond the realm of the world immediately recognizable to us, i.e. transcendent. - However, our world can be related transcendentally to the transcendent. Hartmann's view is called realism because it goes beyond the subjective, the ideal, to the transcendental, the real.

[ 7 ] These two views have in common with naïve realism that they seek to gain a foothold in the world through an investigation of perceptions. However, they cannot find a fixed point anywhere within this area.

[ 8 ] A main question for the proponent of transcendental realism would have to be: how does the ego bring about the world of ideas from within itself? A serious striving for knowledge can warm up to a world of ideas given to us, which disappears as soon as we close our senses to the outside world, insofar as it is the means of indirectly exploring the world of the self that exists in itself. If the things of our experience were images, then our everyday life would resemble a dream and the realization of the true facts would resemble awakening. We are also interested in our dream images as long as we are dreaming and therefore do not see through the nature of dreams. At the moment of awakening we no longer ask about the inner context of our dream images, but about the physical, physiological and psychological processes on which they are based. Nor can the philosopher, who considers the world to be his imagination, be interested in the inner connection of the details in it. If he accepts an existing ego at all, then he will not ask how one of his ideas is connected with another, but what is going on in the soul that is independent of him, while his consciousness contains a certain imaginative process. If I dream that I am drinking wine, which causes a burning sensation in my larynx and then wake up with a cough (see Weygandt, Entstehung der Träume, 1893), the dream action ceases to be of interest to me at the moment of awakening. My attention is now directed only to the physiological and psychological processes by which the coughing stimulus is symbolically expressed in the dream image. In a similar way the philosopher, as soon as he is convinced of the imaginary character of the given world, must immediately jump from it to the real soul behind it. The situation is worse, however, when illusionism completely denies the ego behind the ideas, or at least considers it unrecognizable. To such a view the observation can very easily lead that, in contrast to dreaming, there is the state of waking, in which we have the opportunity to see through dreams and relate them to real conditions, but that we have no state in a similar relationship to the waking life of consciousness. He who professes this view lacks the insight that there is something which in fact relates to mere perception as experience in the waking state relates to dreaming. This something is thinking.

[ 9 ] The naive person cannot be credited with the lack of insight that is being referred to here. He surrenders to life and considers things to be real as they present themselves to him in experience. The first step, however, which is taken beyond this standpoint, can only consist in the question: how does thinking relate to perception? It makes no difference whether perception continues to exist in the form given to me before and after my imagination or not: if I want to say anything about it, it can only be done with the help of thinking. If I say: the world is my imagination, then I have expressed the result of a thinking process, and if my thinking is not applicable to the world, then this result is an error. Thinking interposes itself between perception and any kind of statement about it.

[ 10 ] We have already indicated the reason why thinking is usually overlooked when considering things (see page 42f.). It lies in the fact that we only focus our attention on the object we are thinking about, but not on thinking at the same time. The naive consciousness therefore treats thinking as something that has nothing to do with things, but stands quite apart from them and makes its observations about the world. The picture that the thinker draws of the phenomena of the world is not regarded as something that belongs to things, but as something that exists only in the mind of man; the world is also finished without this picture. The world is finished in all its substances and powers; and man creates an image of this finished world. Those who think in this way need only ask: by what right do you declare the world to be finished without thinking? Does not the world bring forth thought in the mind of man with the same necessity as the blossom on the plant? Plant a seed in the ground. It sprouts roots and stems. It unfolds into leaves and flowers. Place the plant opposite yourself. It is associated in your soul with a certain concept. Why does this concept belong less to the whole plant than the leaf and flower? You say: the leaves and flowers are there without a perceiving subject; the concept only appears when the human being confronts the plant. Quite so. But flowers and leaves also only develop on the plant when there is soil in which the germ can be placed, when there is light and air in which leaves and flowers can unfold. This is precisely how the concept of the plant arises when a thinking consciousness approaches the plant.

[ 11 ] It is quite arbitrary to regard the sum of what we experience of a thing through mere perception as a totality, as a whole, and that which arises through thinking contemplation as such an addition that has nothing to do with the thing itself. When I receive a rosebud today, the image that presents itself to my perception is only initially a closed one. If I put the bud in water, tomorrow I will receive a completely different image of my object. If I do not turn my eye away from the rosebud, I will see today's state continuously changing into tomorrow's through countless intermediate stages. The image that presents itself to me at a particular moment is only a random section of the object that is in a constant state of becoming. If I do not place the bud in water, it will not bring to development a whole series of states which it had the potential to develop. Likewise, tomorrow I may be prevented from further observing the blossom and thus have an incomplete picture.

[ 12 ] It is a completely unobjective opinion, attached to coincidences, which declares of the picture that presents itself at a certain time: that is the thing.

[ 13 ] Nor is it permissible to declare the sum of perceptual features to be the thing. It would be quite possible for a mind to perceive the concept simultaneously and inseparably from perception. Such a mind would not even think of regarding the concept as something that does not belong to the thing. It would have to attribute to it an existence inseparably connected with the thing.

[ 14 ] I will make myself clearer with an example. If I throw a stone horizontally through the air, I see it in different places one after the other. I connect these places to form a line. In mathematics, I learn about different line shapes, including the parabola. I know the parabola as a line that is formed when a point moves in a certain lawful way. When I examine the conditions under which the thrown stone moves, I find that the line of its movement is identical to the one I know as a parabola. The fact that the stone moves in a parabola is a consequence of the given conditions and necessarily follows from them. The shape of the parabola belongs to the whole phenomenon, like everything else that comes into consideration. The mind described above, which would not have to take the detour of thinking, would not only be given a sum of facial sensations in different places, but also the parabolic form of the cube line, which we only add to the appearance by thinking,

without being separated from the appearance.

[ 15 ] It is not because of the objects that they are initially given to us without the corresponding concepts, but because of our mental organization. Our total being functions in such a way that for each object of reality the elements that are relevant to the object flow into it from two sides: from the side of perception and thought.

[ 16 ] It has nothing to do with the nature of things how I am organized to grasp them. The intersection between perceiving and thinking is only present at the moment when I, the observer, come face to face with things, but which elements belong to the thing and which do not cannot depend on how I come to know these elements.

[ 17 ] Man is a limited being. First of all, he is a being among other beings. His existence belongs to space and time. As a result, only a limited part of the entire universe can ever be given to him. However, this limited part is connected to others all around it in terms of both time and space. If our existence were linked to things in such a way that every world event was also our event, then there would be no difference between us and things. But then there would also be no individual things for us. All events would merge continuously into one another. The cosmos would be a unity and a self-contained whole. The stream of events would have no interruption anywhere. Because of our limitations, what in truth is not a single entity appears to us as a single entity. Nowhere, for example, is the individual quality of red present in isolation. It is surrounded on all sides by other qualities to which it belongs and without which it could not exist. For us, however, it is a necessity to single out certain sections of the world and view them in isolation. Our eye can only grasp individual colors one after the other from a multi-membered color whole, our mind only individual concepts from a coherent conceptual system. This separation is a subjective act, conditioned by the fact that we are not identical with the world process, but one being among other beings.

[ 18 ] It is now all a matter of determining the position of the being that we ourselves are in relation to the other beings. This determination must be distinguished from the mere awareness of ourselves. The latter is based on perception like the awareness of any other thing. Self-perception shows me a sum of qualities which I combine into the whole of my personality, just as I combine the qualities: yellow, shiny metal, hard etc. into the unit "gold". Self-perception does not lead me out of the realm of what belongs to me. This self-perception is to be distinguished from the thinking self-determination. Just as I integrate an individual perception of the outside world into the context of the world through thinking, I integrate the perceptions I make of myself into the world process through thinking. My self-perception includes me within certain boundaries; my thinking has nothing to do with these boundaries. In this sense I am a double being. I am enclosed in the area that I perceive as that of my personality, but I am the bearer of an activity that determines my limited existence from a higher sphere. Our thinking is not individual like our feelings and sensations. It is universal. It acquires an individual character in every single person only because it is related to his individual feelings and sensations. Individual people differ from one another through these particular colorations of universal thinking. A triangle has only one concept. It makes no difference to the content of this concept whether the human consciousness carrier A or B grasps it. However, it will be grasped by each of the two carriers of consciousness in an individual way.

[ 19 ] This thought is opposed by a human prejudice that is difficult to overcome. The bias does not reach the realization that the concept of the triangle grasped by my head is the same as that grasped by the head of the person next to me. The naive person believes himself to be the creator of his concepts. He therefore believes that each person has his own concepts. It is a basic requirement of philosophical thought to overcome this prejudice. The one unified concept of the triangle does not become a multiplicity by the fact that it is thought by many. For the thinking of the many is itself a unity.

[ 20 ] In thinking we have given the element that unites our particular individuality with the cosmos into a whole. By feeling and sensing (also perceiving), we are individuals; by thinking, we are the all-one being that permeates everything. This is the deeper reason for our dual nature: we see in ourselves an absolute force coming into existence, a force that is universal, but we do not come to know it as it emanates from the center of the world, but at a point on the periphery. If the former were the case, then we would know the whole riddle of the world the moment we become conscious of it. But since we stand in a point of the periphery and find our own existence enclosed within certain boundaries, we must get to know the area outside of our own being with the help of the thinking that projects into us from the general being of the world.

[ 21 ] Because the thinking in us reaches beyond our special being and relates to the general being of the world, the drive of cognition arises in us. Beings without thinking do not have this drive. If other things confront them, this does not give rise to questions. These other things remain external to such beings. In thinking beings, the concept confronts external things. It is that which we receive from the thing not from without but from within. The balance, the unification of the two elements, the inner and the outer, is to be provided by knowledge.

[ 22 ] Perception is therefore not something finished, completed, but one side of total reality. The other side is the concept. The act of cognition is the synthesis of perception and concept. However, perception and concept of a thing only make up the whole thing.

[ 23 ] The preceding explanations provide the proof that it is an absurdity to seek something else in common in the individual beings of the world than the ideal content that thinking presents to us. All attempts must fail that strive for a world unity other than this coherent ideal content, which we acquire through thoughtful contemplation of our perceptions. Not a human-personal God, not force or substance, nor the will without ideas (Schopenhauer's) can be regarded as a universal world unity. These entities all belong only to a limited area of our observation. We only perceive humanly limited personality in ourselves, power and substance in external things. As far as will is concerned, it can only be regarded as the expression of the activity of our limited personality. Schopenhauer wants to avoid making "abstract" thinking the bearer of world unity and instead seeks something that presents itself to him directly as something real. This philosopher believes that we can never get to grips with the world if we regard it as an external world. "In fact, the investigated meaning of the world that confronts me merely as my imagination, or the transition from it, as the mere imagination of the cognizing subject, to whatever else it may be, would never be found if the investigator himself were nothing more than the purely cognizing subject (winged angel's head without a body). But now he himself is rooted in that world, namely finds himself in it as an individual, that is, his cognition, which is the conditional carrier of the whole world as a conception, is nevertheless absolutely mediated by a body whose affections, as shown, are the starting point of the understanding's view of that world. This body is for the purely cognizing subject as such an idea like any other, an object among objects: the movements, the actions of this body are known to it in this respect no differently than the changes of all other visual objects, and would be just as strange and incomprehensible to it if the meaning of these were not unraveled for it in a completely different way.... To the subject of cognition, which appears as an individual through its identity with the body, this body is given in two quite different ways: first, as a conception in intelligible perception, as an object among objects, and subject to the laws of these; but then also at the same time in a quite different way, namely as that which is immediately known to everyone, which the word will denotes. Every true act of his will is immediately and inevitably also a movement of his body: he cannot really will the act without at the same time perceiving that it appears as a movement of the body. The act of the will and the action of the body are not two objectively recognized different states linked by the bond of causality, they are not in the relation of cause and effect; but they are one and the same, only given in two entirely different ways: once quite directly and once in the perception of the intellect." As a result of these arguments, Schopenhauer believes he is justified in finding the "objectivity" of the will in the human body. He is of the opinion that he can immediately feel a reality, the thing in itself in concreto, in the actions of the body. It must be objected to these statements that the actions of our body only come to our consciousness through self-perception and as such have nothing in advance of other perceptions. If we want to recognize their essence, we can only do so through thinking observation, that is, by integrating them into the ideal system of our concepts and ideas.

[ 24 ] The opinion that thinking is abstract, without any concrete content, is most deeply rooted in the naïve consciousness of mankind. At most, it can provide an "ideal" counter-image of world unity, not unity itself. Anyone who judges in this way has never realized what perception is without the concept. Let us only look at this world of perception: it appears as a mere juxtaposition in space and succession in time, an aggregate of incoherent details. None of the things that appear and disappear on the stage of perception has anything directly to do with the others that can be perceived. The world is a multiplicity of objects of equal value. No one plays a greater role than the other in the workings of the world. If we are to realize that this or that fact is more important than the other, we must question our thinking. Without functioning thinking, the rudimentary organ of the animal, which is of no importance for its life, appears to us to be of equal value to the most important bodily organ. The individual facts only emerge in their significance in themselves and for the other parts of the world when thinking pulls its strings from being to being. This activity of thinking is a contentful one. For I can only know why the snail is on a lower level of organization than the lion through a very specific concrete content. The mere sight, the perception gives me no content that could teach me about the perfection of the organization.

[ 25 ] Thinking brings this content to perception from the world of concepts and ideas of man. In contrast to the content of perception, which is given to us externally, the content of thought appears internally. The form in which it first appears is what we want to call intuition. It is to thinking what observation is to perception. Intuition and observation are the sources of our knowledge. We are strangers to an observed thing in the world as long as we do not have the corresponding intuition within us to fill in the missing piece of reality in our perception. If you do not have the ability to find the intuitions that correspond to things, the full reality remains closed to you. Just as the color-blind person only sees differences in brightness without color qualities, the intuitionless person can only observe incoherent fragments of perception.

[ 26 ] To explain, make comprehensible a thing means nothing other than to place it in the context from which it has been torn by the above-described arrangement of our organization. There is no such thing as a thing separated from the world as a whole. All separation has merely subjective validity for our organization. For us, the whole of the world is divided into: above and below, before and after, cause and effect, object and idea, substance and force, object and subject, etc. The details that confront us in observation are connected link by link through the coherent, unified world of our intuitions; and through thinking we reunite everything that we have separated through perception.

[ 27 ] The mysteriousness of an object lies in its special existence. However, this is caused by us and can, within the conceptual world, also be abolished again.

[ 28 ] Nothing is given to us directly except through thinking and perception. The question now arises: what about the meaning of perception according to our explanations? We have indeed recognized that the proof which critical idealism presents for the subjective nature of perceptions falls apart in itself; but the insight into the incorrectness of the proof does not yet establish that the matter itself is based on an error. Critical idealism does not start from the absolute nature of thought in its reasoning, but relies on the fact that naive realism, consistently pursued, cancels itself out. What is the situation once the absoluteness of thought has been recognized?

[ 29 ] Suppose that a certain perception, for example red, appears in my consciousness. On further observation, the perception proves to be connected with other perceptions, for example of a certain figure, with certain perceptions of temperature and touch. I call this connection an object of the sensory world. I can now ask myself: what else can be found in that section of space in which the above perceptions appear to me? I will find mechanical, chemical and other processes within the section of space. Now I go further and examine the processes that I find on the way from the object to my sensory organs. I can find processes of motion in an elastic medium which, in their nature, have not the slightest thing in common with the original perceptions. I obtain the same result when I examine the further mediation from the sense organs to the brain. In each of these areas I make new perceptions; but what weaves itself through all these spatially and temporally separated perceptions as a binding agent is thinking. The vibrations of the air that mediate sound are given to me as perceptions just as much as the sound itself. Only thinking links all these perceptions together and shows them in their mutual relationships. We cannot speak of there being anything other than what is directly perceived, other than that which is recognized through the ideal connections of the perceptions (to be revealed by thinking). The relationship of the objects of perception to the subject of perception that goes beyond what is merely perceived is therefore a merely ideal one, that is, one that can only be expressed through concepts. Only if I could perceive how the perceptual object affects the perceptual subject, or vice versa, if I could observe the construction of the perceptual image by the subject, would it be possible to speak as modern physiology and the critical idealism based on it do. This view confuses an ideal reference (of the object to the subject) with a process that could only be spoken of if it could be perceived. The sentence "No color without an eye that perceives color" can therefore not mean that the eye produces color, but only that there is an ideal connection between the perception of color and the perception of the eye that can be recognized by thinking. Empirical science will have to determine how the properties of the eye and those of color relate to each other; by what means the organ of vision mediates the perception of color, etc. I can trace how one perception follows another, how it is spatially related to others, and then express this in a conceptual form; but I cannot perceive how a perception emerges from the imperceptible. All efforts to search for other than mental relationships between perceptions must necessarily fail.

[ 30 ] So what is perception? Generally speaking, this question is absurd. Perception always occurs as a very specific, concrete content. This content is immediately given and exhausts itself in the given. With regard to this given, one can only ask what it is outside of perception, that is: for thinking. The question of the "what" of a perception can therefore only go to the conceptual intuition that corresponds to it. From this point of view, the question of the subjectivity of perception in the sense of critical idealism cannot be raised at all. Only that which is perceived as belonging to the subject can be described as subjective. The bond between the subjective and the objective cannot be formed by a process that is real in the naïve sense, i.e. a perceptible event, but only by thinking. What is objective for us is therefore what appears to be outside the subject of perception. My subject of perception remains perceptible to me when the table that has just been standing in front of me has disappeared from the circle of my observation. The observation of the table has brought about an equally permanent change in me. I retain the ability to create an image of the table again later. This ability to produce an image remains with me. Psychology refers to this image as a memory. However, it is that which alone can rightly be called the image of the table. It corresponds to the perceptible change in my own state through the presence of the table in my field of vision. And it does not mean the change of any "I in itself" standing behind the subject of perception, but the change of the perceptible subject itself. Imagination is thus a subjective perception in contrast to objective perception in the presence of the object in the horizon of perception. Lumping together this subjective perception with this objective perception leads to the misunderstanding of idealism: the world is my imagination.

[ 31 ] It will now be a matter of defining the concept of the imagination in more detail. What we have said about it so far is not the concept of it, but only points the way to where it can be found in the field of perception. The exact concept of the imagination will then also make it possible for us to gain a satisfactory insight into the relationship between imagination and object. This will then also lead us across the boundary where the relationship between the human subject and the object belonging to the world is led down from the purely conceptual field of cognition into concrete individual life. Once we know what we have to think of the world, it will be easy to adapt ourselves accordingly. We can only be fully active when we know the object belonging to the world to which we dedicate our activity.

Addition to the new edition (1918)

[ 32 ] The view that is characterized here can be seen as one to which man is initially driven, as is natural, when he begins to think about his relationship to the world. He sees himself entangled in a thought formation that dissolves for him by forming it. This thought formation is one whose mere theoretical refutation does not do everything necessary for it. One must live through it in order to find the way out of the insight into the aberration into which it leads. It must appear in an argument about man's relationship to the world not because one wants to refute others who one believes have an incorrect view of this relationship, but because one must know the confusion into which any initial reflection on such a relationship can lead. One must gain the insight into how to refute himself in relation to this first reflection. The above remarks are meant from such a point of view.

[ 33 ] Whoever wants to develop a view of man's relationship to the world becomes aware that he establishes at least part of this relationship by forming ideas about world things and world processes. This takes his gaze away from what is outside in the world and directs it to his inner world, to his imaginative life. He begins to say to himself: I cannot have a relationship to any thing or any process unless an imagination arises in me. It is then only a step from noticing this fact to the opinion: but I only experience my ideas; I only know of a world outside in so far as it is an idea within me. This opinion abandons the naive standpoint of reality that man adopts before all reflection on his relationship to the world. From this point of view, he believes that he is dealing with real things. Self-reflection pushes away from this standpoint. It does not allow man to look at a reality such as the naive consciousness thinks it has before it. It only allows him to look at his ideas; these interpose themselves between his own being and a possibly real world, as the naïve point of view believes it is allowed to assert. Man can no longer look at such a reality through the interposed world of imagination. He must assume that he is blind to this reality. This gives rise to the idea of a "thing in itself" that is inaccessible to cognition. - As long as one remains in the contemplation of the relationship that man seems to enter into with the world through his imaginary life, one will not be able to escape this thought formation. One cannot remain on the naive standpoint of reality if one does not want to artificially close oneself off to the urge for knowledge. The fact that this urge for knowledge of the relationship between man and the world exists shows that this naive standpoint must be abandoned. If the naïve point of view were something that could be recognized as truth, one could not feel this urge. - But one does not arrive at anything else that one could regard as truth if one merely abandons the naïve standpoint but - without realizing it - retains the way of thinking that it imposes. One falls into such a mistake when one says to oneself: I only experience my ideas, and while I believe that I am dealing with realities, I am only conscious of my ideas of realities; I must therefore assume that outside the circle of my consciousness there are only true realities, "things in themselves", of which I know nothing directly, which somehow come to me and influence me in such a way that my imaginary world comes to life in me. Anyone who thinks in this way is only adding another world to the one before him in his thoughts; but he would actually have to start his mental work all over again with regard to this world. For the unknown "thing in itself" is not thought of differently in its relation to man's own being than the known one of the naive standpoint of reality. - One only escapes the confusion into which one falls through critical reflection with regard to this point of view if one realizes that within what one can perceive inside oneself and outside in the world, there is something that cannot fall prey to the fate that the imagination interposes itself between the process and the person observing it. And this is thinking. Man can remain on the naive standpoint of reality in the face of thinking. If he does not do so, it is only because he has noticed that he must leave this standpoint for something else, but does not realize that the insight thus gained is not applicable to thinking. If he becomes aware of this, then he opens up access to the other insight that in thinking and through thinking that which man seems to blind himself to must be recognized, in that he must interpose the life of imagination between the world and himself. - The author of this book has been reproached by those who hold him in high esteem for the fact that in his exposition of thought he stops at a naïve realism of thought, such as exists when one considers the real world and the imaginary world to be one. But the author of these remarks believes to have proved in them that the validity of this "naive realism" for thinking necessarily results from an unbiased observation of it; and that naive realism, which does not apply to anything else, is overcome by recognizing the true essence of thinking.