From Beetroot to Buddhism
XII. Kant, Schopenhauer and Eduard von Hartmann
14 May 1924, Dornach
Mr Burle: We've had the (200th) anniversary of Kant's birthday. 71Kant, Immanuel (1724–1804), German idealist philosopher. 1 May I ask Dr Steiner to tell us something about Kant's teaching, what would be its opposites, and if it might today be an anthroposophical teaching?
Rudolf Steiner: Well, gentlemen, if I am to answer this question you'll have to follow me a little bit into a region that is hard to understand. Mr Burle, who also asked about the theory of relativity, always asks such difficult questions! And so you may have to accept that things won't be as easy to understand today as the things I usually discuss. But you see, it is not possible to speak of Kant in a way that is easy to understand because the man himself is not easy to understand. The situation is that all the world talks about Kant today as of something that is of tremendous importance for the world, though people are not really interested in such things; they merely pretend to be. And you know that a whole number of articles have been written on this 200th anniversary, to show the world the tremendous importance Immanuel Kant had for the whole intellectual life.
You see, even as a boy I would often hear my history teacher 72Joseph Mayer, who taught German literature at the secondary school specializing in the sciences in Vienna-Neustadt. at school say: Immanuel Kant was the emperor of literary Germany! I once said king of literary Germany by mistake and he immediately corrected me, saying: the emperor of literary Germany!
Well, I have studied Kant extensively and — I have described this in the story of my life 73Steiner, R., Rudolf Steiner, an Autobiography (GA 28), tr. R. Stebbing, New York: Rudolf Steiner Publications 1977. — for a time we had a history teacher who really never did anything but read aloud from other people's books. I thought I might as well read that for myself at home. And once when he'd left the room I had a look to see what he was reading to us and got hold of a copy myself. That was much better. I had also got myself a copy of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason from Reclam's Universal Library; 74Reclam's Universalbibliothek, publishing venture of Philipp Reclam Jun., Stuttgart, producing the classics in reasonably priced paperback editions. Still exists today. Translator. this I had divided up and put between the pages of the school-book I had before me during the lessons. And so I would read Kant whilst the teacher was teaching history. I therefore also felt perfectly confident to speak about Kant, of whom people really always say when something to do with mind and spirit comes up: 'Yes, but Kant said...' Just as theologians will always say: 'Yes, but it says in the Bible...' And many of the enlightened will say: 'Yes, but Kant said...' It is now 24 years ago that I gave some lectures at which I got to know a man who always sat in the hall and slept, always heard the lectures sleeping. Sometimes, when I raised my voice a little, he would wake up, and especially also at the end. I also said something about mind and spirit at the time. Then he would wake up, jump up like a jack-in-the-box and shout: 'But Kant said!' And so it is true that people go on a great deal about Kant.
Now let us consider how this man Kant really saw the world. He said, with some justification, that everything we see, we touch, in short, perceive through the senses, that is, the whole world of nature outside us, is not real but only seems to exist as phenomena. But how does it come into existence? Well, it comes into existence — this is where it gets difficult, you'll need to pay careful attention — because something he called the 'thing in itself', something unknown of which we know nothing, makes an impression on us; and it is this impression we perceive, not the thing in itself.
So you see, gentlemen, if I draw this for you it is like this [drawing]. This is the human being — one could just as well do it with hearing or touch, but let us do it with seeing — and somewhere out there is the thing in itself. But we do not know anything about it; it is quite unknown. But this thing in itself makes an impression on the eye. One still knows nothing about it, but an impression is made on the eye. And in there, in the human being, a phenomenon arises, and we puff this up and make the whole world out of it [pointing to the drawing]. We know nothing of the red thing, only of the phenomenon we now have — I'll draw this in violet. And so the whole world is really, according to Kant, made by man. You see a tree. You do not know anything about the tree in itself; the tree merely makes an impression on you. This means something unknown makes an impression on you and you make it into a tree, putting the tree there in your sensory perceptions. Consider therefore, gentlemen. Here is a chair, a seat — a thing in itself. We do not know what it really is; but this thing which is there makes an impression on me. And I actually put the chair there. So if I sit down on a chair I do not know what kind of thing I am sitting on. The thing in itself, the item I sit on, is something I myself have put there.
You see, Kant speaks of the limits of human knowledge in such a way that one can never know what the thing in itself is, for everything is really only a man-made world. It is extremely difficult to make this clear in any real way. And when people ask one about Kant it is indeed true that to really describe him, characterize him, one has to say very strange things. For looking at the true Kant it is really difficult to believe someone who says it is like that. But the thing is that Kant insists, on the basis of theory, of his thoughts: No one knows about the thing in itself, and the whole world is merely made of the impression we have of things.
I once said that if we do not know what the thing is in itself, it may be all kinds of things; it could for instance be made of pinheads. And that is how it is with Kant. It is fair to say that according to him, the thing in itself may be made of anything. But now there is something else. If we stop at this theory, then all of you here, as I see you, are merely something that presents itself to me; I have put you all on these chairs, and I do not know what lies behind each of you as a thing in itself. And again, as I stand here, you, too, do not know what kind of thing in itself that is, but see a phenomenon which you put there yourselves. And anything I say is something you yourselves create by hearing it. So none of you know what I am really doing here — the thing in itself, what it really does. But this thing makes an impression on you. You project the impression to this point; and basically you are listening to something you produce yourselves.
Now if we take this particular example, then, speaking in Kantian terms, we might say something like this: You are sitting out there for your morning break and say: 'Right, let's go into the hall and hear one thing or another for an hour. We cannot know what this thing in itself is that we hear; but we'll use our eyes to put that man Steiner there so that — at least for an hour — we have this phenomenon, and then we'll put the things we want to hear there so that they may be heard.' This, in the first place, is what Kant says when he insists that one can never know the thing in itself.
You see, one of Kant's successors, Schopenhauer, 75Schopenhauer, Arthur (1788–1860), German philosopher. found this so clear that he said: 'You simply cannot doubt it!' He said it was quite definite that if he saw blue, it was not that something out there was blue but that the blue was created by him when a thing in itself made an impression on him. And when he heard someone complaining of pain out there, the pain and the complaining did not come from him but from Schopenhauer himself! This, he said, was really perfectly clear. And when people close their eyes and go to sleep, the whole world is dark and silent; then there is nothing there for them.
Now, gentlemen, according to this theory it will be the simplest thing to create the world and put it aside again. You go to sleep, the world has gone; you wake up again and you have once again made the whole world — at least the world you see. Apart from this there is only the thing in itself, of which you know nothing. Yes, Schopenhauer found this perfectly clear. But he did feel a bit funny. He was not quite comfortable with the thesis. He therefore said: 'There is at least something out there — blue and red, and all the cold and heat are not out there; if I feel cold I produce the cold myself. But what is out there is the will. Will lives in everything. And the will is a completely independent demonic power. But it lives in all things.'
So he put a little something into 'the thing in itself. Everything we see before our mind's eye was to him also mere phenomenon, something we produce ourselves. But he did at least furnish the thing in itself with the will. There have been many people, and there are many people to this day, who do not really consider the consequences of Kant's theories. I once knew a person who was really full of Kant's teaching — which is what one should be if one has a dogma. This man said to himself: T have actually made everything myself — mountains, clouds, stars, everything altogether, and I have also created humanity; I have made everything there is in the world. But now I don't like it. I want to get rid of it.' And he then said he started to kill a few people — he was demented; he said he started to kill a few people in order to manage this, to get rid of something he himself had created. I told him he should think about the difference which exists. He had a pair of boots; according to Kant's teaching he had made them, too. But he should consider what the shoemaker had done, apart from what he himself created as a phenomenon relating to his boots.
You see, that's how it is. The greatest nonsense may be found in things that are most highly regarded in the world. And people will cling to the worst kind of nonsense with the greatest possible stubbornness. And oddly enough it is exactly the most enlightened who cling to it.
These things which I have put to you in a few words, difficult enough to understand as it is, have to be found by reading many books if one reads Kant. For he teased it apart in long, long theories. He started his book Critique of Pure Reason, as he called it, for example, by first of all proving that space is not out there in the world; I make it myself, I spin it for myself. In the first place, therefore, space is a phenomenon. Secondly, time is also a phenomenon. For he said: There was a man called Aristotle once, but I myself have put him into time, for I create the whole of time myself.
He wrote this major work called Critique of Pure Reason. It does make quite an impression. So if a real philistine, a smug middle-class person, comes along and picks up a big volume called Critique of Pure Reason, he'll lick his chops, for this is something terribly clever, Critique of Pure Reason; if you read something like this you'll yourself be a kind of Lord God here on earth! The introduction is followed by Part 1: Transcendental aesthetics. Well, now, that's what it says: Transcendental aesthetics. If someone opens my Philosophy of Spiritual Activity the chapter heading might be no more than 'Man and world'. 76Steiner, R., The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity. A Philosophy of Freedom (GA 4), tr. R. Stebbing, London: Rudolf Steiner Press 1989. Oh, man and world, that is so common, one does not bother to read it. But transcendental aesthetics! When a philistine opens such a book, then this is something that must be really tremendous. As to what transcendental aesthetics may be, this is something he does not usually consider; but that suits him fine. It is a word he really has to get his tongue round. So that is the main title.
Now comes the subtitle. Section one. Transcendental deduction of space. You can't think of anything better for a philistine but to have such a chapter. And it then starts in such a way that he does not really understand any of it. But everyone has been calling Kant a great man for more than a hundred years, and reading the book our philistine gets a little bit of something, and a little bit of a delusion of grandeur.
Now comes the second section: Transcendental deduction of time. Having battled through the transcendental deduction of space and of time one comes to the second major part: transcendental analysis. And transcendental analysis mainly offers proof that man has transcendental apperception.
Well, gentlemen, the question has been asked, and so I must tell you these things, this business of transcendental apperception. You have to read hundreds of pages to take in the learned statements concocted in this chapter on transcendental apperception. Transcendental apperception means that a person develops ideas and that these ideas have a certain coherence. So if everything is merely idea, the whole world, then it must be that the whole world is a tissue created out of the nothingness of one's own nature by means of transcendental apperception. Yes, that is more or less the way this is put in those books.
We now realize that in his chapter on transcendental apperception Kant creates the whole world, with all its trees, clouds, stars, and so on, out of himself. But in reality he is creating a tissue that one keeps battling with in the whole of this vast chapter which in reality offers the same ideas, only translated into the thinking of a later age, as I wrote into the Sephiroth Tree for you the other day, though only as a mere alphabet, not in a way that enables one to read, to know something. What is more, it was something very real in the past. But Kant makes a tissue where he says: 'The world thus is 1) quantity, 2) quality, 3) relation, 4) modality.' Each of these concepts has three subsumptions; quantity for example has unity, multiplicity, totality. Quality has reality, negation, limitation, and so on. Those were twelve subsumptions, 3 times 4 being 12, and you can create the whole world with them. Good old Kant did not in fact create the world with them; he only thought up twelve terms with his transcendental apperception. He thus only created twelve concepts and not the world.
Now if there were anything in this, we should get somewhere with it. But the philistines do not notice that nothing comes of it, only twelve concepts. They go about with full stomachs and Kantian philosophy and say: Nothing can be understood! Well, we can understand this in the case of philistines who like being told that the lack of understanding is not theirs but is due to the whole world. You are right to think you know nothing; but this is not because you are incapable but because the whole world is unable to know anything. And so you get these twelve concepts. That is transcendental analysis.
Now we come to the really difficult chapters. First a big chapter with the title: About transcendental paralogisms. And that is how it goes on. You get title after title in Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. He wrote that some people say space is infinite. He proves it the way people prove things who are able to see that space is infinite. But there are others who say that space is finite. This is also proved, the way people do prove it. You therefore find the following in the Critique of Pure Reason — in the later chapters it always presents two opposite aspects. On the one hand it is shown that space is infinite, on the other that it is finite. Then you get proof that time is infinite, is eternity, followed by proof that time had a beginning and will have an end. And that is the way Kant did it, gentlemen. Then he gave proof that man is free, and again that he is unfree.
What did Kant want to say by giving proof of two opposite statements? He wanted to say that we actually cannot prove anything! We may just as well say space is infinite or finite; time goes on for ever or time will come to an end. In the same way we may say man is free or he is unfree. It all goes to show that in modern times we have to say: Think about things whichever way you want; you'll not find the truth, for it is all the same for you human beings.
One is also shown how to think in this way, taught transcendental methodology. And so one can first of all go through one of Kant's books. We may ask ourselves why Kant went to all that trouble. And we then discover what he really intended. You see, until Kant came, people who were philosophers may not have known much, but they did at least say that some things can be known about the world. On the other hand there was the thinking that had come from medieval times — I have shown you how ancient knowledge was lost in the Middle Ages — that one can only know something of things perceived by the senses and nothing of the things of the spirit. This was something that had to be believed. And so the idea came up through the Middle Ages and up to Kant's time that you cannot know anything about the spirit; things of the spirit can only be believed.
The Churches do of course do very well out of this dogma that one cannot know anything of the spirit, for this makes it possible for them to dictate what people should believe about things of the spirit.
Now, as I said, there were philosophers — Leibniz, 77Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm (1646–1716), German philosopher and mathematician. Wolff, 78Wolff, Christian (1679–1754), German mathematician and philosopher who made the work of Leibniz popular. and so on — who said, until Kant came, that it is possible to know something, from mere common sense or reason, about the spiritual aspects of the world. Kant said it was nonsense to believe that it was possible to know anything about the spirit, and that things of the spirit were a matter of belief. For the spiritual aspect lies in the 'thing in itself'. And you cannot know anything of the 'thing in itself'. One therefore has to believe when it comes to matters of the spirit.
Kant actually betrayed himself when he wrote the second edition of his Critique of Pure Reason. This second edition contains a curious statement: 'I had to let knowledge go to make room for faith.' That is indeed a confession, gentlemen. It is the thing which led to the unknown thing in itself. It is because of this that Kant called his book Critique of Pure Reason. Reason itself was to be criticized for not knowing anything. And in this statement 'I had to let knowledge go to make room for faith' lies the truth of Kant's philosophy. And that leaves the door open to all faith and belief. And Kant might indeed have referred to all positive religion. But people who do not want to know anything may also refer to Kant, saying: 'Why do we not know anything? Because one cannot know anything.' So you see, Kant's teaching has really come to support belief. It was quite natural in the light of this that I myself had to reject Kant's teaching from the very beginning. I may have read the whole of Kant as a schoolboy, but I always had to reject his teaching, for the simple reason that one would then have had to stick with the belief people had concerning the world of the spirit, and there could never have been any real knowledge of the spirit. Kant was therefore the man who excluded knowledge of the spirit more than anyone, only accepting some degree of belief.
Kant thus wrote this first book called Critique of Pure Reason. It was shown in this book that one knows nothing of the thing in itself; one can only have belief in what the 'thing in itself' is.
He then wrote a second book called Critique of Practical Reason, and a third called Critique of Judgement, but that was less important. Critique of Practical Reason, then, was his second book. There he evolved his own belief. So he wrote firstly a book of knowledge: Critique of Pure Reason, where he showed that one cannot know anything. The philistine can now put it aside, for he has been given proof that one cannot know anything. Then Kant wrote his Critique of Practical Reason, in which he developed his faith. How did he develop his faith? He said: Looking at himself in the world, man is an imperfect creature; but it is not really human to be so imperfect. So there must be a greater perfection of human nature somewhere. We do not know anything about it, but let us believe that greater perfection exists somewhere in this world; let us believe in immortality.
Well, you see, gentlemen, this is a big difference from what I tell you about the aspect of man that continues after death, based on knowledge. Kant did not want such knowledge; he simply wanted to prove that humanity should believe in immortality because of man's imperfection.
He then proved in the same way that one should only believe, being unable to know anything about freedom, that man is free; for if he were not free, he would not be responsible for his actions. One therefore believes him to be free in order that he may be responsible for his actions.
Kant's teaching about freedom has often reminded me of the statement with which a professor of law always started his lectures. He would say: 'Gentlemen, there are people who say man is not free. But, gentlemen, if man were not free, he would not be responsible for his actions, and then there could also be no punishment. If there is no punishment, you also cannot have penology, which is in fact the subject on which I speak, and then you also would not have me. But I am here, and therefore penology exists, hence also a penal system, hence also freedom. I have thus proved to you that freedom exists.' The things Kant said about freedom remind me very much of those words spoken by the professor. And Kant would also speak of God in this way. He would say: We cannot know anything of any power as such. But I am unable to make an elephant. I believe therefore that someone else can make it who is better able to do so than I am. I thus believe in a God.
In his second book, Critique of Practical Reason, Kant said that as human beings we should believe in God, freedom and immortality. We cannot know anything about these but we should believe in them. Now just think how inhuman this really is. First, proof is given that knowledge is really nothing, and secondly it is said that one should believe in God, of whom one can know nothing, in freedom and immortality. Essentially, therefore, Kant was the greatest reactionary. People create apt terms. They have called him 'the crusher'. Yes, he crushed all knowledge, but only the way one crushes a plaything. For the world was still there! And with this he really gave quite considerable support to faith and belief.
This continued for the whole of the nineteenth century and right into the present century, and today people everywhere are referring to the 200th anniversary of Kant. In reality Kant is the perfect example of how little people really think. For what I have just told you has been Kant's teaching in its pure form. But the things people say — that Kant was the greatest of all philosophers, that he cannot be refuted, and so on — well, you see, if we take this example we really see that it is indeed Kant to whom the opponents of spiritual science can always refer. Simply because they are then able to say to themselves: Yes, we do not base ourselves on religion but on the most enlightened of all philosophers. But it is indeed true that the most dogmatic of religion teachers may base himself on Kant just as much as some enlightened individual.
Kant also wrote other works, in one of which he more or less considered how metaphysics may be a science in the future. 79Kant, I., Prolegomena, tr. by P.G. Lucas in 1953. Here he was really proving once again that it is impossible, and so on. We really have to say that the whole of nineteenth-century science sickened because of Kant; basically Kant was a sickness of science.
So the right way to take Kant is as an example of the nonsense sometimes produced by human minds. But you will then also say to yourselves: One really has to watch out when it comes to gaining insight, for the world is terribly keen to produce the greatest possible nonsense exactly when it comes to gaining insight. And you can imagine the difficult position one is in as a representative of spiritual science. Not only does one have the representatives of the religions against one but also those other people, all the philosophers and people who have caught their ideas, and so on. Every philistine comes along and says: You say this about the world of the spirit; Kant has proved — so they say — that one cannot know anything about it. That is really the best general objection anyone can raise. A person can say: I don't want to hear anything of what that man Steiner says, for Kant has proved that one cannot know anything about these things.
Does this satisfy you?
Mr Burle said he had mainly wanted to hear what Kant had said. As Dr Steiner said, you hear a lot about Kant but nothing positive. It did, however, take quite some effort to understand it.
Rudolf Steiner: There were consequences. In 1869 someone who had taken up Kant's ideas published The Philosophy of the Unconscious, a book that caused a sensation. And Eduard von Hartmann 80von Hartmann, Karl Robert Eduard (1842–1906). His Philosophic des Unbewussten (1869) was translated into English by Coupland, with a new edition in 1931. was a very intelligent man. If he had lived before Kant, if Kant had not had such an influence on him, he would probably have done much better. But he could not overcome this enormous prejudice, which came from Kant. Like Schopenhauer before him, Eduard von Hartmann realized that one does not know anything of the world except for one's own ideas of it, something one puts out there oneself. But he also took up Schopenhauer's idea that the thing in itself must be furnished with will. So now we have the will everywhere inside it. I once wrote an article on Eduard von Hartmann in which I also mentioned Schopenhauer. 81'Eduard von Hartmann, his teaching and significance' first published (in German) in the monthly Deutsche Worte (Vienna), vol. XI, No. 1 (Jan. 1891) and reprinted in GA 30. Schopenhauer said that one knows nothing of the thing in itself; one only has ideas of it. Ideas are clever, the will is dumb. So that really all one knows by oneself is no more than dumb will.
In the article in which I mentioned Schopenhauer I wrote: 'According to Schopenhauer everything that is intelligent in the world is the work of man; for man brings everything into the world; and behind it lies the dumb will. The world is thus the dumbness of the Godhead.' But this was impounded at the time. It was to have been published in Austria.
The thing is like this. Eduard von Hartmann had assumed that the thing in itself had to be furnished with the will; but the will is really dumb, and this is why things are so bad in the world. He therefore became a pessimist, as one says. He held the view that the world was not good, but essentially bad, very bad. And not only what people did but everything there was in the world was bad. He said: 'You can work it out that the world is bad. Just put on one side of the balance sheet, the debit side, everything one has in life by way of good fortune, pleasure and so on, and on the other side everything you have by way of suffering and so on. It is always more on the other side and the balance is always in the negative. Therefore the whole world is bad.' This is why Hartmann became a pessimist.
But you see in the first place Eduard von Hartmann was an intelligent man and secondly he was someone who also drew the consequences. He said: 'Why do people go on living? Why don't they rather kill themselves? If everything is bad, it would be much wiser to fix a day when the whole of humanity commits suicide. Then everything that is created there would be gone.' But Eduard von Hartmann also said: 'No, one will never be able to do this, to fix a day for general human suicide. And even if we did — humans have evolved from animals; the animals would never kill themselves; and then human beings would again evolve from animals! So we'll not be able to do it this way.' He then thought of something else. He said to himself: 'If one really wants to eradicate everything that exists as earthly world, one cannot do it by means of human suicide but has to thoroughly eradicate the whole earth. We do not yet have the machines for this today; but people have invented all kinds of machines so far; all wisdom must therefore be directed towards inventing a machine that enables one to drill deep enough into the earth and which will then blow the earth up, using dynamite or the like, so that the fragments fly out into the world and turn to dust. Then the right goal will have been achieved.'
This is no joke, gentlemen! It is a fact that Eduard von Hartmann said a machine should be invented to blow up the whole earth, reducing it to dust and rubble. 82In the work referred to in note 93, vol. 2: Metaphysics of the unconscious, chapter 14: The goal of the world process and the significance of the conscious mind (numerous editions!).
Comment: In America they want to build cannon to shoot down the moon!
Rudolf Steiner: But what I have told you was genuine philosophical teaching in the nineteenth century.
Now you'll say: There was such an intelligent man — but how can this be? He must have been dumb, stupid, the man who said this. No, indeed, Eduard von Hartmann was not stupid but more intelligent than anyone else. I'll prove this to you in a minute. But it was exactly because he was more intelligent than the teaching that originated with Kant that this stupid notion of the machine arose which might be used to throw the world into nothingness. This was seriously put forward by a highly intelligent man who had been thoroughly thrown off course by Kant.
So he wrote this Philosophy of the Unconscious. In it he said: 'Yes, it is true that human beings have evolved from animals, but spiritual powers played a role in this. These spiritual powers are powers of will, which means they are not intelligent but dumb.' And he put this very intelligently, and in this way contradicted Darwinism.
So at that time — in the 1860s — there was this intelligent work by Hartmann, Philosophy of the Unconscious, and there was Darwinism, supported by Haeckel, 83Haeckel, Ernst (1834–1919), German philosopher and naturalist. Oscar Schmidt 84Schmidt, Oscar (1823–86), German zoologist, student of Haeckel. and others, which was the cleverest thing there was in the eyes of other people. The Philosophy of the Unconscious contradicted it, however. So all those stubborn Darwinists came and said: 'This Eduard von Hartmann needs to be thoroughly refuted; he does not know anything about science.' And what did Hartmann do? What he did at that time is evident from the following. When the others had done shouting — on paper, in print, of course — a book appeared that had the title 'The Unconscious from the Point of View of Darwinism'. 85Das Unbewusste vom Standpunkte der Physiologic und Deszendenztheorie. Eine kritische Beleuchtung des naturphilosophischen Teils der Philosophic des Unbewussten aus naturwissenschaftlichen Gesichtspunkten, Berlin 1872. It was not known who had written it, however.
Well, gentlemen, this pleased the scientists no end, for it said things that thoroughly refuted Eduard von Hartmann. Even Haeckel said: 'The individual who has written this book against Hartmann should make himself known to us, and we consider him to be one of us, a naturalist of the first order!' And indeed, the book sold out quickly and a second edition appeared. 86Das Unbewusste vom Standpunkte der Physiologic und Deszendenztheorie, 2. verm. Aufl. der 1872 anonym erschienenen Schrift nebst einem Anhang: 'Oscar Schmidts Kritik der naturwissenschaftlichen Grundlagen der Philosophic des Unbewussten', Berlin 1877. This time the author gave his name — it was Eduard von Hartmann himself! He had written against himself. Then they stopped praising him. The matter did not become widely known. He thus proved that he was cleverer than all the rest. But you see, the news given to people never says anything about these things. It is, however, a piece of academic history that should be told. You can see that Eduard von Hartmann was someone who had been led astray by Kant but was highly intelligent.
Now when I tell you he wanted to blow up the world with a huge machine that was to be invented — you may well say that this man Eduard von Hartmann may have been terribly intelligent, but to us, who have not yet studied Kant, it nevertheless seems a dumb thing. And you may well think that however intelligent I told you von Hartmann was, he was nevertheless stupid. You may easily think so. But then you must also tell this last bit, and see that the others were even more stupid. I'll leave it at that, if you like. But it is perfectly possible to provide historical evidence that the others were even more stupid than the person who proved that the earth should be blown apart.
It is important to know such things; for today we still have this strange adulation of anything that appears in print. And since Kant has been published by Reclam — it was only because of this that I was able to read him then, otherwise I could not have afforded it at the time; but it was cheap, even though they were thick volumes — since then the fat is in the fire worse than ever where Kant is concerned, for everyone is reading him. I mean, they read the first page, but they do not understand any of it. They then hear that Kant is 'the emperor of literary Germany' and think: Wow, we know something of his work, and so we are clever people, too! And most of them are prepared to admit: 'I clearly must say I understand Kant, or other people will say I am stupid if I don't understand Kant.' In reality people do not understand any of it, but they won't admit it; they say: 'I have to understand Kant, for he is very clever. So when I say I understand Kant I am saying I understand something very clever and people will be impressed.'
In truth, gentlemen, it has been difficult to present this matter in a more popular form, but I am glad the question was asked, for we can see from it what goes on in academic life, as it is called, and how careful one really has to be when such things influence one, even going so far that now there is a lot of brouhaha in the papers about the 200th anniversary of Kant's birth. I am not saying that Kant should not be celebrated — others are also celebrated — but the truth of the matter is the way I have shown you.
We'll continue at 9 o'clock next Saturday.