Chapter 3 Thinking as the Instrument of Knowledge (author's addition)


Author's addition
       1918

 
    [1]
         In the preceding discussion
             I have pointed out
                the significant difference
           between thinking
               and all other activities
                  of the soul,
       as a fact
          which
             presents itself
            to genuinely unprejudiced observation.

    Anyone
         who does not strive
            towards this
          unprejudiced observation
              will be tempted to bring
                 against my arguments
               such objections
                   as these:
       When I
           think about a rose,
       this
          after
             all only expresses
           a relation
              of my "I"
           to the rose,
       just
          as
             when
                 I feel the beauty
                    of the rose.

    There is a relation
        between "I"
           and object
        in the case
            of thinking just
      as much as
         in the case
            of feeling
               or perceiving.

    Such
         an objection leaves
            out of account the fact
          that
         only in the thinking activity
              does the "I" know itself
           to be one
               and the same
            being
               with that
         which is active,
       right
          into all
             the ramifications
                of this activity.

    With no other soul
         activity
            is
          this so completely
             the case.

    For example,
       in a feeling
           of pleasure
              it is perfectly possible
                 for a more delicate observation
                    to discriminate
               between the extent
         to which
             the "I"
                knows itself
           to be one
               and the same
            being
               with what
                  is active,
       and the extent
          to which
             there is
                something passive
           in the "I"
              to which
                 the pleasure
                    merely presents itself.

    The same
        applies
           to the other soul activities.

    Above all
          one should not confuse the
        "having
           of thought-images"
              with the elaboration
                 of thought by thinking.

    Thought-images
        may appear
           in the soul
               after the fashion
                   of dreams,
       like vague intimations.

    But this
        is not thinking.

    True,
       someone might now say:
           If this is
              what you
                  mean
               by "thinking",
       then
          your thinking
             involves willing
           and
               you have
              to do not merely
           with thinking
         but
            also with the will
           in the thinking.

    However,
       this would simply justify us
           in saying:
              Genuine thinking
            must always be
          willed.

    But this
        is quite irrelevant
           to the characterization
               of thinking
              as this
                  has been given
                     in the preceding discussion.

    Granted
          that the nature
             of thinking necessarily implies
                its
            being willed,
       the point that matters
          is that nothing is willed which,
       in being carried out,
          does not appear
             to the "I"
           as an activity completely
               its own
                  and
               under its own supervision.

    Indeed,
       we must say that owing
           to the very nature
               of thinking
           as here defined,
       it must appear
           to the observer
               as willed
                   through and through.

    If
         we really make the effort
            to grasp
         everything
            that is relevant
           to a judgment
               about the nature
                   of thinking,
       we cannot fail to see
          that this soul activity
              does have
                  the unique character
                     we have here described.

    [2] A person whom
         the author of this book
            rates very highly
           as a thinker
              has objected
             that it
                is impossible
              to speak
                 about thinking
              as we are doing here,
       because
          what
             one believes
                oneself
                   to have observed
                      as active thinking
             is nothing
                but an illusion.

    In reality
          one is observing only
              the results
                 of an unconscious activity
         which
            lies
           at the basis
               of thinking.

    Only
         because
             this unconscious activity
                is not observed
                   does
          the illusion
              arise
             that the observed thinking
            exists
               in its own right,
       just
          as
             when
                in an illumination
                   by means
                      of a rapid succession
                         of electric sparks
                            we believe
                          that we
                              are seeing a continuous movement.

    This objection, too,
       rests
          only
         on an inaccurate view
            of the facts.

    In making it,
       one forgets
          that it
             is the "I" itself
         which,
       from its standpoint inside
           the thinking,
       observes
          its own activity.

    The "I"
        would have
           to stand outside
              the thinking
           in order to
              suffer the sort of deception
                 which
                is caused
               by an illumination
                   with a rapid succession
                       of electric sparks.

    It would be much truer
          to say
         that
            precisely in
               using
                  such an analogy one
              is forcibly deceiving oneself,
       just
          as if someone
             seeing a moving light
            were to insist
               that it
                  is being freshly lit
               by an unknown hand
                   at every point
             where it appears.

    No,
       whoever
          is determined
             to see
           in thinking anything other
          than
             a clearly surveyable activity
                produced
               by the "I" itself,
       must first shut
          his eyes
             to the plain facts
                that are there
               for the seeing,
       in order
          then
         to invent
            a hypothetical activity
           as the basis
               of thinking.

    If he
         does not thus
              blind himself,
       he will have
          to recognize
             that everything
         which
            he
        "thinks up"
           in this way
               as an addition
                   to the thinking
                      only leads him away
                         from its real nature.

    Unprejudiced observation
        shows that nothing
           is to be counted
         as belonging
            to the nature
               of thinking except
         what is found
            in thinking itself.

    One will never arrive
        at something
       which is the cause
         of thinking
      if one steps outside
         the realm
        of thinking itself.