The Consequences of Monism

  
     [1] THE uniform explanation
         of the world,
        that is, the monism
           we have described,
        derives
           the principles
              that it
                 needs for the explanation
                     of the world
                         from human experience.
       
     In the same way,
        it looks
           for the sources
              of action
                 within the world
                     of observation,
        that is,
           in that part
              of human nature which
         is accessible
             to our self-knowledge,
        more particularly
           in moral imagination.
       
     Monism
         refuses
             to infer
                 in an abstract way
                     that the ultimate causes
                        of the world
                 that is presented
                     to our perceiving and thinking
                        are to be found
                           in a region
                              outside this world.
       
     For monism,
        the unity
           that thoughtful observation
        -- which we can experience --
              brings to the manifold
                 multiplicity of percepts
                     is the same unity that
                 man's need
                     for knowledge demands,
        and through which it
           seeks entry
              into the physical
                 and spiritual regions
                    of the world.
       
     Whoever
         seeks another unity
             behind this one
                only proves
             that he
                 does not recognize
                     the identity
                        of
             what is discovered
                 by thinking and what
                    is demanded by the urge
                       for knowledge.
       
     The single human individual
         is not actually cut off
             from the universe.
       
     He is a part of it,
        and between this part
           and the totality
              of the cosmos
             there exists
                a real connection
                   which is broken only
                      for our perception.
       
     At first
         we take this part
             of the universe as something
         existing on its own,
        because we
           do not see the belts
              and ropes by which
             the fundamental forces
                 of the cosmos
                    keep the wheel
                       of our life revolving.
       
     Whoever remains
         at this standpoint
            sees
               a part of the whole
                  as if it
                     were actually
                         an independently existing thing,
        a monad
           which receives information
              about the rest
                 of the world in some way
                     from without.
       
     Monism,
        as here
           described,
        shows that
           we can believe
              in this
                 independence only so long
             as the things we perceive
                 are not woven by our thinking
                     into the network
                         of the conceptual world.
       
     As soon as this
         happens,
        all
           separate existence turns out
         to be mere illusion
            due to perceiving.
       
     Man can find
         his full and complete existence
            in the totality
               of the universe
                  only through the experience
                     of intuitive thinking.
       
     Thinking
         destroys the illusion
             due to perceiving
         and integrates
             our individual existence
                into the life
                   of the cosmos.
       
     The unity
         of the conceptual world,
        which contains
           all objective percepts,
        also embraces
           the content
              of our subjective personality.
       
     Thinking
         gives us reality
             in its true form
                 as a self-contained unity,
        whereas the multiplicity
           of percepts
         is but a semblance
             due to the way
                 we are organized.
       
     To recognize true reality,
        as against the illusion
           due to perceiving,
        has at all times
           been the goal of human
              thinking.
       
     Scientific thought
         has made great efforts
             to recognize reality
                 in percepts
             by discovering
                 the systematic connections
                     between them.
       
     Where,
        however,
           it was believed
         that the connections
            ascertained by human
               thinking
                  had only subjective validity,
        the true basis of unity
           was sought in some entity
         lying
             beyond our world of experience
         (an inferred God,
            will,
               absolute spirit,
            etc.).
       
     On the strength
         of this belief,
        the attempt
           was made
              to obtain,
        in addition
           to the knowledge accessible
              to experience,
        a second kind of knowledge
           which transcends experience
         and shows
             how the world
                 that can be experienced
                     is connected with the entities
             that cannot
         (a metaphysics
             arrived at by inference,
            and not by experience).
       
     It was thought that
         the reason
             why we can grasp
                 the connections
                     of things
                         in the world through disciplined
                 thinking
                    was that a primordial
                       being had built the world
                          upon logical laws,
        and, similarly,
           that the grounds
              for our actions
         lay in the will
             of such a being.
       
     What was not realized
         was that
             thinking embraces both
                 the subjective
                     and the objective
                        in one grasp,
        and that
           through the union
              of percept
                 with concept
         the full reality is conveyed.
       
     Only as long as we think
         of the law
            and order
               that permeates
                  and determines the percept
             as having
                 the abstract form
                     of a concept,
        are we in fact
           dealing
              with something
                 purely subjective.
       
     But the content of a concept,
        which is added
           to the percept by means
         of thinking,
        is not subjective.
       
     This content
         is not taken
             from the subject,
        but from reality.
       
     It is that part
         of the reality
            that cannot be reached
               by the act
             of perceiving.
       
     It is experience,
        but
           not experience gained through perceiving.
       
     If someone
         cannot see that
             the concept
                 is something real,
        he is thinking of it
           only in the abstract form
              in which
                 he holds it in his mind.
       
     But
         only through our organization
            is it present
               in such isolation,
        just as
           in the case
              of the percept.
       
     After all,
        the tree that one perceives
           has no existence by itself,
        in isolation.
       
     It exists only as a part
         of the immense machinery
             of nature,
        and can only exist
           in real connection
         with nature.
       
     An abstract concept
         taken by itself
             has as
                 little
                     reality as a percept taken
                 by itself.
       
     The percept
         is the part of reality
             that is given objectively,
        the concept
           the part
              that is given subjectively
         (through intuition).
       
     Our mental organization tears
         the reality
             apart into these two factors.
       
     One factor
         presents itself to perception,
        the other to intuition.
       
     Only the union of the two,
        that is,
           the percept fitting systematically
              into the universe,
        constitutes the full reality.
       
     If we
         take mere percepts
             by themselves,
        we have no reality but
           rather a disconnected chaos;
              if we take by itself
             the law and order
                 connecting the percepts,
        then we
           have nothing
              but abstract concepts.
       
     Reality
         is not contained
             in the abstract concept;
            it is,
        however,
           contained
              in thoughtful observation,
        which
           does not one-sidedly consider
         either concept
            or percept alone,
        but rather the union
           of the two.
       
     [2] That
         we live in reality
            (that we
               are rooted in it
                  with our real existence)
            will not be denied by
               even the most orthodox
                  of subjective idealists.
       
     He will only deny
         that we
             reach the same reality
                 with our knowing,
        with our ideas,
           as the one
         we actually live in.
       
     Monism,
        on the other hand,
           shows
         that
             thinking
                 is neither subjective nor objective,
        but is
           a principle
              that embraces
             both sides of reality.
       
     When we
         observe with our thinking,
        we carry
           out a process which itself
         belongs
             to the order of real events.
       
     By means
         of thinking,
        within the experience itself,
           we overcome the one-sidedness
              of mere perceiving.
       
     We cannot argue
         out the essence
             of reality
                 by means
                     of abstract conceptual hypotheses
         (through pure conceptual
             reflection),
            but in so far
               as we find the ideas
             that belong to the percepts,
            we are living
               in the reality.
       
     Monism
         does not seek
             to add to experience
                 something
                     non-experienceable (transcendental),
        but finds
           the full reality
              in concept and percept.
       
     It does not spin a system
         of metaphysics
             out of mere abstract concepts,
        because it
           sees in the concept
              by itself only one side
                 of the reality,
        namely,
           the side that remains
              hidden from perception,
        and only makes sense
           in connection
         with the percept.
       
     Monism does,
        however,
           give man the conviction that
         he lives in the world
             of reality
         and has no need
             to look beyond this world
                 for a higher reality
             that
                 can never be experienced.
       
     It refrains from seeking
         absolute reality anywhere else
             but in experience,
        because
           it is just
              in the content of experience
         that it recognizes reality.
       
     Monism
         is satisfied by this reality,
        because it
           knows that
         thinking
            has the power
               to guarantee it.
       
     What dualism
         seeks only
             beyond the observed world,
        monism
           finds in this world itself.
       
     Monism
         shows that with our act of
             knowing
                 we grasp reality
                     in its true form,
        and not
           as a subjective image
              that inserts itself
         between man and reality.
       
     For monism,
        the conceptual content
           of the world
         is the same
             for all human individuals.
       
     According to
         monistic principles,
        one human
           individual regards another
              as akin
             to himself
                because the same world content
             expresses itself in him.
       
     In the unitary world
         of concepts
            there are not
               as many concepts
                  of the lion
             as there are individuals
                who think of a lion,
        but only one.
       
     And the concept
         that A fits
             to his percept
                 of the lion
         is the same
             that B fits to his,
        only
           apprehended
              by a different perceiving subject (see page 69).
       
     Thinking leads
         all perceiving subjects
            to the same ideal unity
               in all multiplicity.
       
     The unitary world of ideas
         expresses itself
             in them as
                 in a multiplicity
             of individuals.
       
     As long
         as a man
             apprehends himself merely
                 by means
                    of self-perception,
        he sees himself
           as this particular man;
              as soon
             as he looks
                 at the world
                     of ideas that lights up
                 within him,
        embracing all
           that is separate,
        he sees
           within himself
              the absolute reality living
             and
         shining forth.
       
     Dualism
         defines
             the divine primordial Being
                as
             that
                which pervades
                   and lives in all men.
       
     Monism finds this divine life,
        common to all,
           in reality itself.
       
     The ideas
         of another human being
            are in substance mine also,
        and I regard them
           as different only as long
              as I
             perceive,
        but no longer when I
           think.
       
     Every man
         embraces in
             his thinking only a part
                of the total world
             of ideas,
        and to
           that extent
              individuals differ
                 even in the actual content
                     of their thinking.
       
     But all these contents
         are
             within a self-contained whole,
        which embraces
           the thought contents
         of all men.
       
     Hence every man,
        in his thinking,
           lays hold
              of the universal primordial
         Being
             which pervades all men.
       
     To live in reality,
        filled
           with the content of thought,
        is at the same time
           to live in God.
       
     A world beyond,
        that is merely inferred
           and cannot be experienced,
        arises
           from a misconception
              on the part of those
         who believe that this world
            cannot have the foundation
               of its existence within itself.
       
     They do not realize
         that through thinking
            they find
               just what they
                  require
                     for the explanation
                         of the percept.
       
     This
         is the reason why no
             speculation
                has ever brought
                   to light any content
                 that was not borrowed
                     from the reality
                         given to us.
       
     The God
         that is assumed
             through abstract inference
                is nothing
                   but a human being transplanted
                      into the Beyond;
            Schopenhauer's
               Will is
                  human will-power made absolute;
            Hartmann's Unconscious,
        a primordial
           Being made up of idea
         and will,
        is but a compound
           of two abstractions
         drawn from experience.
       
     Exactly the same
         is true
             of all
                other transcendental principles
         based on thought
             that
                 has not been experienced.
       
     [3] The truth
         is that the human spirit
             never transcends
                 the reality
                     in which we live,
        nor has it any need
           to do so,
        seeing that this world
           contains
              everything
                 the human spirit
                     requires in order to
             explain it.
       
     If philosophers
         eventually declare themselves
             satisfied
                 with the deduction
                     of the world
                 from principles
                     they borrow
                         from experience and transplant
                             into an hypothetical Beyond,
        then it
           should be just as possible
              to be satisfied
                 when the same content
                     is allowed
                         to remain in this world,
        where for our thinking
           as experienced
              it does belong.
       
     All attempts to transcend
         the world
            are purely illusory,
        and the principles
           transplanted from this world
              into the Beyond
             do not explain the world
                 any better
                    than those which
                 remain within it.
       
     If thinking
         understands itself
             it will not ask
                 for any such transcendence
             at all,
        since every content of thought
           must look
              within the world and
             not outside it
                 for a perceptual content,
        together
           with which it
              forms something real.
       
     The objects
         of imagination, too,
        are no
           more than contents which
         become
             justified only
                 when transformed
                     into mental pictures
                        that refer
                           to a perceptual content.
       
     Through
         this perceptual content
            they become
               an integral part of reality.
       
     A concept
         that is supposed
             to be filled
                 with a content lying
                     beyond our given world
                 is an abstraction to which no
                     reality
                        corresponds.
       
     We can think out only
         the concepts of reality;
        in order to find
           reality itself,
        we must also have perception.
       
     A primordial world
         being
             for which
                 we invent a content
                    is an impossible assumption
                       for any thinking
                     that understands itself.
       
     Monism
         does not deny ideal elements,
        in fact,
           it considers
         a perceptual content
            without an
               ideal counterpart as not fully real;
        but in the whole realm
           of thinking
              it finds nothing
                 that could require us
                     to step
                         outside the realm
                             of our thinking's experience
             by denying
                 the objective spiritual reality
                    of thinking itself.
       
     Monism
         regards
             a science that limits itself
                to a description
                   of percepts without
             penetrating to t
       
     [4] Just as little,
        according to
           monistic principles,
        can the aims of our action
           be derived
              from an extra-human Beyond.
       
     In so far as we think them,
        they
           must stem from human intuition.
       
     Man does not take
         the purposes
             of an objective
                (transcendental) primordial
             Being
         and make them his own,
        but he
           pursues his own individual
         purposes
             given him
                 by his moral imagination.
       
     The idea
         that realizes itself
             in an action
         is detached by man
             from the unitary world
                of ideas
             and made
                 the basis of his will.
       
     Therefore
         it is not the commandments
            injected into this world
               from the Beyond
             that live in his action,
        but
           human intuitions belonging to this
         world itself.
       
     Monism
         knows no such world-dictator
             who sets our aims
         and directs our actions
             from outside.
       
     Man finds
         no such primal ground
            of existence
               whose counsels
                  he might investigate
                     in order to
                 learn from it
         the aims
            to which he has
         to direct his actions.
       
     He is thrown back
         upon himself.
       
     It is he himself
         who must give content
             to his action.
       
     If he
         looks
             outside the world
                 in which
                     he lives for the grounds
             determining his will,
        he will look in vain.
       
     If he
         is to go
            beyond merely satisfying
               his natural instincts,
        for which Mother Nature
           has provided,
        then he
           must seek these grounds
              in his own moral imagination,
        unless he
           finds it more convenient to
              let himself
             be determined by the
                 moral imaginations
                    of others;
        in other words,
           either
         he must give
             up action altogether,
        or else
           he must act for reasons
         that
             he gives himself
                 out of his world
                     of ideas
                         or that others select
                            for him out of theirs.
       
     If he advances
         beyond merely following
             his life
                of sensuous instincts
         or carrying
             out the commands of others,
        then he
           will be determined
              by nothing but himself.
       
     He must act
         out of an impulse
            given by himself
               and determined
                  by nothing else.
       
     It is true that this impulse
         is determined ideally
             in the unitary world
                of ideas;
        but in practice
           it is only by man
         that
             it can be taken from
                 that world
                     and translated into reality.
       
     The grounds
         for the actual translation
             of an idea
                 into reality by man,
        monism
           can find only
              in man himself.
       
     If an idea
         is to become action,
        man must first want it,
           before it can happen.
       
     Such
         an act of
             will
                 therefore
                     has its grounds only
                         in man himself.
       
     Man is then
         the ultimate determinant
             of his action.
       
     He is free.