Chapter 10 Freedom — Philosophy and Monism

 
ChapterTen
         Monism And The Philosophy Of
            Spiritual Activity

 
    [1] The naive man,
       who acknowledges
           as real only
         what
             he can see
           with his eyes and
              grasp
                 with his hands,
       requires
           for his moral life,
              also,
                 a basis
                    for action
         that shall be perceptible
            to the senses.

    He requires
        someone
           or
      something
         to impart
            the basis
        for his action
            to him
                in a way
          that his senses can understand.

    He is ready
          to allow
              this basis
           for action
          to be dictated
             to him
                as commandments
                   by any man
              whom
                 he considers
                     wiser or more powerful
                  than himself,
       or whom he
           acknowledges for some other
              reason
           to be a power over
               him.

    In this way
          there arise,
             as moral principles,
                the authority
                   of family,
           state,
              society,
           church and God,
       as previously described.

    A man
         who is very
              narrow minded
            still puts
          his faith
             in some one person;
       the more advanced man
          allows his moral conduct
             to be dictated
           by a majority
        (state, society).

    It is always
        on perceptible
           powers
       that he builds.

    The man
         who awakens
            at last
           to the conviction
              that basically
                 these powers
                    are human beings
               as weak
                  as himself,
       seeks guidance
           from a higher power,
              from a Divine Being,
           whom
         he endows,
            however,
       with sense
           perceptible features.

    He conceives
        this Being
       as communicating
         to him the conceptual content
            of his moral life,
      again in a perceptible way
         -- whether
        it be,
           for example,
          that God
             appears
                in the burning bush,
          or
             that He moves about
                among men
              in manifest human shape,
          and
             that their ears
                can hear Him
                   telling them
            what to do and
                what not
                   to do.
 
    [2]
         The highest stage
            of development
               of naive realism
                   in the sphere
                       of morality
                          is
          that
         where
            the moral commandment (moral idea)
          is separated
             from every
            being other
          than oneself and
             is thought of,
           hypothetically,
              as being
           an absolute power
              in one's own inner life.

    What man
        first took
           to be
              the external voice
           of God,
       he now takes
           as an independent power
               within him,
       and speaks
           of this inner voice
               in such
                   a way
                      as
                         to identify
                            it
                       with conscience.
 
    [3] But in doing
          this
             he has already gone
           beyond the stage
               of naive consciousness
                   into the sphere
         where the moral laws
            have become independently existing standards.

    There
         they are
             no longer carried
           by real bearers,
       but have become
          metaphysical entities
        existing
           in their own right.

    They are analogous
        to the invisible
       "visible forces"
          of metaphysical realism,
             which does not seek reality
                through the part
                   of it
            that man
               has
              in his thinking,
          but hypothetically adds
         it on
        to actual experience.

    These extra-human moral standards
          always occur
             as accompanying features
                of metaphysical realism.

    For metaphysical realism
        is bound
           to seek
              the origin
           of morality
               in the sphere
                   of extra-human reality.

    Here
        there are
           several possibilities.

    If
         the hypothetically assumed entity
            is conceived
         as in itself unthinking,
       acting according to purely
          mechanical laws,
       as materialism
          would have it,
       then it
          must also produce
             out of itself,
       by purely mechanical necessity,
          the human individual
             with all
                his characteristic features.

    The consciousness
        of freedom
           can
      then be nothing
          more than an illusion.

    For
         though
             I consider myself the author
                of my action,
       it is the matter
          of which
             I am composed
                and the movements
          going on in it
             that are working in me.

    I believe myself free;
        but
            in fact
               all my actions
                  are nothing
          but the result
             of the material processes
                which
                   underlie
                my physical
                   and mental organization.

    It is said
         that we
              have the feeling
           of freedom
          only
              because we
                  do not know
                      the motives compelling us.

    "We must emphasize
          that the feeling of freedom
              is
                 due to the absence
                    of external compelling motives,,
       motives,,...

    Our action
        is necessitated
           as is our thinking."

    [4] Another possibility
        is
           that a man may picture
              the extra-human Absolute that lies
           behind the world
               of appearances
                   as a spiritual being.

    In this case
          he will also seek
             the impulse
           for his actions
               in a corresponding spiritual force.

    He will see
        the moral principles
       to be found
          in his own reason
             as the expression
                of this
                   being itself,
      which
         has
            its own special intentions
               with regard to
              man.

    To this kind
        of dualist
       the moral laws
          appear
             to be dictated
            by the Absolute,
      and all
         that man
            has
         to do
            is
               to use
          his intelligence
         to find out
              the decisions
                  of the absolute
                     being
          and
        then
           carry them out.

    The moral world order
        appears
           to the dualist
               as the perceptible reflection
                   of a higher order
                      standing
                         behind it.

    Earthly morality
        is the manifestation
           of the extra-human world order.

    It is not man
         that matters
            in this moral order,
       but the being itself,
          that is,
             the extra-human entity.

    Man shall do
        as this
           being wills.

    Eduard von Hartmann,
       who imagines
          this being itself
             as a Godhead
                whose very existence
                   is a life
           of suffering,
       believes
          that this Divine Being
             has created
           the world
              in order
          thereby
             to gain
         release
            from His infinite
               suffering,
       Hence this philosopher
          regards
             the moral evolution
           of humanity
               as a process
              which
                 is there
               for the redemption
                   of God.

    Only through
         the building up
            of a moral world order
               by intelligent self-conscious individuals
                  can
              the world
                  process
                     be led towards its goal...,
       True existence
          is the incarnation
             of the Godhead;
       the world process
          is the Passion
             of the incarnated Godhead
                and
               at the same
                  time the way of redemption
                     for Him
                  who was crucified
                     in the flesh;
       morality,
          however,
             is the collaboration
                in the shortening
               of this path
                   of suffering
                       and redemption.
 
    Here man
        does not act
           because he wants to,
       but
          he shall act,
       because it
          is God's
        will
           to be redeemed.

    Whereas
        the materialistic dualist
       makes man
          an automaton whose actions
             are only the result
          of a purely mechanical system,
      the spiritualistic dualist
         (that is,
            one
               who sees the Absolute,
              the Being-in-itself,
          as something spiritual
             in which man
                has
             no share
                in his conscious experience)
          makes him a slave
              to the will
                 of the Absolute.

    As in materialism,
       so also
           in one-sided spiritualism,
       in fact
           in any kind
              of metaphysical realism
            inferring
         but not experiencing something
            extra-human
           as the true reality,
       freedom
          is
             out of the question.
 
    [5] Metaphysical as well as naive realism,
       consistently followed out,
          must deny freedom
             for one
                and the same reason:
       they both see man
           as doing no
              more than putting
                 into effect,
       or carrying out,
          principles forced (imposed)
             upon him
                by necessity.

    Naive realism
        destroys freedom
           by subjecting man
               to the authority
                   of a perceptible
                      being or
                         of one
                        conceived
                           on the analogy
                               of a perceptible being,
       or eventually to the authority
           of the abstract inner voice
         which
             it interprets as "conscience";
       the metaphysician,
          who merely infers
             the extra-human reality,
       cannot acknowledge freedom
          because
             he sees man
                as being determined,
               mechanically
           or morally,
       by a
          "Being-in-itself".
 
    [6] Monism
        will have
           to recognize
              that naive realism
            is partially justified
               because
                  it recognizes
                     the justification
                        of the world
                   of percepts.

    Whoever is incapable
        of producing moral ideas
            through intuition
               must accept them
                  from others.

    In so far
        as a man receives
            his moral principles
               from without,
      he is
          in fact unfree.

    But
         monism
            attaches
           as much significance
               to the idea
         as to the percept.

    The idea,
       however,
          can come
             to manifestation
                in the human individual.

    In so far
        as man follows
       the impulses
          coming
             from this side,
      he feels himself
          to be free.

    But
         monism denies all justification
            to metaphysics,
       which merely draws inferences,
          and consequently
             also to the impulses
                of action
              which are derived from so-called
        "Beings-in-themselves".

    According to
        the monistic view,
       man may act
          unfreely-when
             he obeys
                some perceptible external compulsion;
           he can act freely,
       when
          he obeys none
         but himself.

    Monism
        cannot recognize
           any unconscious compulsion
              hidden
           behind percept
               and concept.

    If anyone
          asserts that the action
             of a fellow man
            is done unfreely,
       then
          he must identify
             the thing or the person
            or the institution
               within the perceptible world,
       that has caused the person
           to act;
              and
             if
                 he bases
              his assertion
                 upon causes
               of action
                  lying
                     outside the world
                    that is real
               to the senses
                   and the spirit,
       then
          monism can take no
        notice of it.
 
    [7] According to
        the monistic view,
           then,
        man's action
       is partly unfree,
      partly free.

    He finds himself
          to be
              unfree
           in the world
               of percepts,
       and
          he realizes within himself
             the free spirit.
 
    [8] The moral laws
         which the metaphysician
            who works
           by mere inference
              must regard
                 as issuing
               from a higher power,
       are,
          for the adherent
             of monism,
       thoughts of men;
          for him
         the moral world
              order
            is
               neither
                  the imprint
                     of a purely mechanical natural
                        order,
       nor
          that
         of an extra-human world order,
       but
          through and
             through the free creation
           of men.

    It is not
        the will
            of some
               being
        outside him
            in the world
      that man
         has
        to carry out,
       but his own;
          he puts into effect
         his own
            resolves
           and intentions,
       not
          those
         of another being.

    Monism does not see,
       behind man's actions,
          the purposes
             of a supreme directorate,
       foreign
           to him
               and determining him according to
                   its will,
       but rather sees
          that men,
       in so far
           as they
          realize their intuitive ideas,
       pursue only their own human ends.

    Moreover,
       each individual
          pursues his own particular ends.

    For the world
        of ideas
           comes
              to expression,
      not in a community
          of men,
      but
         only in human individuals.

    What appears
        as the common goal
            of a whole group
                of people
                   is only
      the result of the separate
         acts
        of will
            of its individual members,
               and in fact,
            usually of
        a few outstanding ones
       who,
            as their authorities,
      are followed
          by the others.

    Each one
        of us
           has it
        in him to be
       a free spirit,
      just
         as every rose
             bud
           has in it a rose.

    [9] Monism,
       then,
          in the sphere
             of true moral action,
       is a freedom philosophy.

    Since it
        is a philosophy
           of reality,
       it rejects
          the metaphysical,
       unreal restrictions
           of the free
         spirit
            as completely
               as it accepts
             the physical
                and historical
                   (naively real) restrictions
                      of the naive man.

    Since it
        does not consider man
           as a finished product,
       disclosing his full nature
           in every moment
               of his life,
       it regards
           the dispute
         as to
            whether man
           as such
              is free or not,
       to be
          of no consequence.

    It sees
        in man a developing being,
           and asks whether,
        in the course
           of this development,
      the stage
          of the free
        spirit can be reached.
 
    [10] Monism
        knows
           that Nature
              does not send man
           forth
              from her arms ready made
                 as a free spirit,
       but
          that
             she leads him
                up to a certain stage,
       from
          which
             he continues
          to develop still
             as an unfree being,
       until
          he comes
             to the point
         where
             he finds
                his own self.
 
    [11] Monism
        is
           quite
              clear
          that a being acting
             under physical or
                moral compulsion cannot be
                   a truly moral
                being.

    It regards
          the phases
             of automatic behavior
        (following natural
            urges
               and instincts)
           and
               of obedient behavior
        (following moral standards)
           as necessary preparatory stages
               of morality,
       but
          it also sees
             that both
                these transitory stages
                   can be overcome
           by the free spirit.

    Monism frees
         the truly moral world
            conception both from the mundane
               fetters
           of naive moral maxims
               and
                  from the transcendental moral maxims
                     of the speculative metaphysician.

    Monism
        can
           no more eliminate
              the former
           from the world
          than
             it can eliminate percepts;
       it rejects
          the latter
              because
                 it seeks all
                    the principles
               for the elucidation
                   of the world phenomena
                       within that world,
       and none outside it.
 
    Just
         as monism
            refuses even
               to think
           of principles
               of knowledge other
              than
                 those that apply to men
        (see Chapter 7),
           so
              it emphatically rejects even
                 the thought
               of moral maxims other
              than
                 those that apply to men.

    Human morality,
       like human knowledge,
          is conditioned
             by human nature.

    And
         just
            as beings
           of a different order
              will understand
                 knowledge
              to mean
                 something very different
               from what
              it means to us,
       so will other beings
          have a different morality
         from ours.

    Morality
        is
           for the monist
               a specifically human quality,
       and spiritual freedom
           the human way
              of being moral.
 
    Author's additions,
       1918

 
    [1] In forming
        a judgment
           about the argument
              of the two preceding chapters,
      a difficulty
         can arise
            in that one
           appears
              to be faced
                 with a contradiction.

    On the one hand
         we have spoken
            of the experience
               of thinking,
       which
          is felt to have
             universal significance,
       equally valid
           for every human consciousness;
       on the other hand
          we
              have shown that the ideas
         which
              come
           to realization
               in the moral life,
       and are
           of the same kind
               as those elaborated
                   in thinking,
       come
          to expression
             in each
                human consciousness
               in a quite individual way.

    If
         we cannot get
            beyond regarding
          this antithesis
             as a
        "contradiction",
           and
         if we
              do not see that
           in the living recognition
               of this
             actually existing antithesis
                a piece
                   of man's essential nature
                reveals itself,
           then
              we shall be unable
          to see
             either the idea
           of knowledge
               or the idea
                  of freedom
                     in a true light.

    For
         those
             who
                think of their concepts
                   as merely abstracted
                      from the sense
         perceptible world
             and who
          do not allow
             intuition its rightful place,
                this thought,
               here
        claimed
           as a reality,
       must remain a
          "mere contradiction".

    If
         we really understand how ideas
        are intuitively experienced
           in their self-sustaining essence,
       it becomes
          clear
             that
         in the act
            of knowing,
           man,
              on the edge
                 of the world
               of ideas,
           lives his way
              into something
         which is the same
            for all men,
           but that when,
              from this world
                 of ideas,
           he derives
              the intuitions
           for his acts
               of will,
       he individualizes a part
           of this world
              by the same activity
         that
             he practices
           as a universal human one
               in the spiritual ideal process
                   of knowing.

    What appears
        as a logical contradiction
            between the universal nature
                of cognitive ideas
                    and
                  the individual nature
                     of moral
                        ideas
                           is
                          the very thing that,
      when seen
          in its reality,
      becomes
         a living concept.

    It is
         a characteristic feature
            of the essential nature
               of man
         that
            what can be intuitively grasped
               swings
           to and fro
              within man,
       like a living pendulum,
          between universally valid knowledge
             and the individual experience
                of it.

    For
         those
             who cannot see
                the one half
                   of the swing
               in its reality,
       thinking
          remains
             only a subjective human activity;
           for those
              who cannot grasp
                 the other half,
       man's activity
           in thinking
              will seem
           to lose all individual life.

    For the first kind
        of thinker,
       it is the act
           of knowing
              that is
          an unintelligible fact;
             for the second kind,
       it is
          the moral life.

    Both
        will put forward
           all sorts
              of imagined ways
                 of explaining
              the one
                 or the other,
                    all equally unfounded,
                   either
          because
             they
                entirely fail to grasp
                   that thinking
        can be actually experienced,
       or
          because
             they misunderstand it
                as a merely abstracting activity.
 
    * * * * *
        [2] On page 147
           I have spoken of materialism.

    I am well aware
         that there are thinkers â€"
            such as Ziehen,
       mentioned above â€"
           who do not call
              themselves materialists
                 at all,
       but
          who must nevertheless be described
             as such
           from the point of view
              put forward
                 in this book.

    The point
        is not
           whether
              someone says
             that for him
                the world
                   is not restricted to merely
                 material
                     existence
                         and
                             that
                                 therefore he
                                    is no materialist;
           but
              the point
                 is
                    whether
                       he develops concepts
             which are applicable
                only to material existence.

    Anyone
         who says,
       â€œOur action
          is necessitated
             as is our thinking”,
       has implied
          a concept
         which is applicable
            only to material
               processes,
       but
          not to action or
             to being;
           and
              if he
                 were
                    to think
                       his concept
                   through to the end,
       he could not help
          but think materialistically.

    He avoids
        doing
           this
         only by the same inconsistency
             that so often results
           from not thinking
          one's thoughts through
             to the end.

    [3] It is often said nowadays
          that
         the materialism of the nineteenth century
            is outmoded
           in knowledgeable circles.

    But
         in fact
            this is not
           at all true.

    It is only
          that nowadays
             people
            so often fail
               to notice
         that they
              have no other ideas but those
         with which
            one can approach
               only material things.

    Thus recent materialism
        is veiled,
       whereas
           in the second half
               of the nineteenth century it
                  showed itself openly.

    The veiled materialism
        of the present
           is no less intolerant
              of an outlook that grasps
                 the world spiritually
          than
             was the self-confessed materialism
                of the last century.

    But
         it deceives many
            who think
         they have
            a right
          to reject
             a view
                of the world
             which takes spirit
                into account
                   on the ground
             that the scientific view
        "has
           long ago abandoned materialism".