New Chapter 2 The Fundamental Drive To Science

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The Philosophy of Freedom
(revised 12/11/2010)

The Fundamental Drive To Science
Chapter 2


Two persons, oh! live within my breast,
Each wants to separate itself from the other.
One, in hearty lust for love,
Clings to the world with clutching organs;
The other mightily lifts itself from the dust,
To the realms of high forefathers.
(Goethe, Faust I, 1112-1117)

2.0 Drive To Know
[1] With these words Goethe characterizes a trait that is deeply established in human nature. As human beings, our nature is not organized in a unified way. We always demand more than what the world itself offers. Nature has given us needs, and left to us the task of satisfying them. However abundant is our share of nature’s bounty, even more abundant are our desires. We seem born to be dissatisfied. The urge to know is a special instance of this dissatisfaction.

We look at a tree twice. At one time we see its branches at rest, and at another in motion. These observations do not satisfy us. Why does the tree appear to us one time at rest and the other time in motion? We want to know why. Every glance at nature evokes a number of questions in us. Every phenomenon we encounter presents us with a task. Every experience becomes a riddle. We see a creature emerging from the egg that is similar to the mother, and we ask the reason for this similarity. We observe a living being grow and develop to a certain degree of perfection, and we seek the conditions of this experience. Nowhere are we satisfied with what nature spreads out before our senses. Everywhere we search for what we call an explanation of the facts.

[2] The something more that we seek in things exceeds what is given to us in immediate observation. This addition splits our entire existence into two parts and we become aware of ourselves standing in opposition to the world. We confront the world as independent persons. The universe appears to us as two opposing sides: I and world.

[3] We set up this wall between ourselves and the world as soon as consciousness dawns within us. But we never lose the feeling that we belong to the world, joined to it by an enduring bond; that we are not outside, but rather within the universe.

[4] This feeling makes us strive to reconcile the differences. The entire intellectual striving of humanity ultimately consists in reconciling these differences. The history of intellectual life is a continuous searching for the unity between ourselves and the world. Religion, art and science also pursue this same goal. The religious believer seeks within the revelation that God grants him the solution to the world mysteries that are posed by his “I”, which is dissatisfied with a world of mere phenomena. The artist seeks to craft into his material the ideas of his “I” in order to reconcile what lives within him with the outer world. He also feels dissatisfied with a world of mere phenomena and seeks to mold into it that something more that his “I”, transcending the world of phenomena, contains. The thinker seeks the laws of phenomena. He strives to penetrate with thinking what he experiences by observing.

Only when we have made the world-content into our thought-content do we rediscover the connection from which we have detached ourselves. We will see later that this goal is only reached if the task of the scientific investigator is understood much more deeply than is usually the case.

The whole relationship that I have outlined here between the I and the world appears historically in the contrast between the one-world view of monism, and the two-world theory of dualism. Dualism pays attention only to the separation between the I and the world brought about by human consciousness. All its efforts are an ineffectual struggle to reconcile these opposites, which it may call mind and matter or subject and object, or thought and phenomenon. It has a feeling that there must be a bridge between the two worlds, but is incapable of finding it. Monism pays attention only to the unity and tries either to deny or blur the differences actually present. Neither of these two views can satisfy us, because they do not do justice to the facts.

The dualists see mind (I) and matter (world) as two entirely different kinds of existence, so they cannot understand how the two can interact with each other. How can mind know what is going on in matter if the essential nature of matter is entirely alien to mind? And, under these circumstances, how can mind act on matter in such a way that its intentions translate into deeds? The most absurd hypotheses have been proposed to answer these questions.

Up to now the monists have not fared much better. So far they have sought help in three different ways. Either they deny the mind and become materialists, or they deny matter in order to seek their salvation as spiritualists, or else they maintain that mind and matter are inseparably bound together even in the simplest world substance, so it is not surprising that both kinds of existence appear in the human being because nowhere are they found apart.

2.1 Materialism
[5] Materialism can never provide a satisfactory explanation of the world. This is because every attempt at an explanation must begin by forming thoughts about the world’s phenomena. So materialism takes its start with thoughts of physical objects or physical processes. But in doing so it is already dealing with two different sets of facts: the physical world and the thoughts about it. The materialist tries to understand thoughts by regarding them as purely physical processes. His belief is that thinking takes place in the brain much like digestion takes place in the organs of animals. Just as he attributes mechanical, chemical, and organic effects to matter, so he also credits matter with the capability, under certain conditions, to think. But he overlooks that all he has done is shift the problem to another place.

The materialist attributes the capability of thinking to matter instead of to himself. This brings him back to his starting point. How does matter come to reflect upon its own existence? Why is it not simply satisfied with itself and accepting of its existence? The materialist has turned his attention away from the certain subject, his own I, and occupies himself with uncertain and vague configurations. Here the same problem comes up again. The materialistic view is not able to solve the problem; it can only shift it elsewhere.

2.2 Spiritualism
[6] What about spiritualism? The spiritualist denies matter (the world) and understands it only as a product of the mind (the I). He imagines the whole phenomenal world to be nothing more than a fabric woven by mind out of itself. The spiritualist finds himself driven into a corner when he makes the attempt to produce any single concrete phenomena from the mind. He cannot do so either in knowledge or in action.

2.3 Realism
If we would really know the external world, we must look outwards and draw on our fund of experience. Without experience our mind can have no content. Similarly, when we go into action, we have to translate our intentions into realities with the help of physical substances and forces. In other words, we are dependent on the outer world.

2.4 Idealism
The most extreme spiritualist, or if you prefer, idealist, is Johann Gottlieb Fichte. He attempted to derive the whole world structure from the “I”. What he has actually accomplished is a magnificent thought-picture of the world without any content of experience. As little as it is possible for the materialist to argue away the mind, just as little is it possible for the idealist to do without the outer physical world.

2.5 Materialistic Idealism
[7] A curious variation of idealism is the view of Friedrich Albert Lange presented in his widely read History of Materialism. Lang suggests that the materialists are entirely right when they explain that all world phenomena, including our thinking, is the product of purely physical processes, while conversely, physical objects and their processes are themselves a product of our thinking.

“The senses only transmit to us the effects that things have on them, not accurate pictures, let alone the things themselves. But among these mere effects we must also include the sense organs themselves, along with the brain and the molecular vibrations within it.

That means our thinking is produced by physical processes and these are produced by our thinking. Lange’s philosophy is nothing but the story, translated into concepts, of the brave Baron Münchhausen who holds himself up freely in the air by his own pigtail.

2.6 Undivided Unity
[8] The third form of Monism already sees the two entities matter and mind united even in the simplest entity (the atom). But nothing is achieved in this either, except that the question which actually originates in our consciousness is shifted to another place. How can a simple entity manifest itself in two different ways if it is an undivided unity?

2.7 Polarity Of Consciousness
[9] To all these points of view, we must emphasize that we first encounter the basic and primary polarity in our own consciousness. We are the ones who detach ourselves from the native ground of nature and contrast ourselves with the "world" as "I". Goethe has given classic expression to this in his essay Nature.

"Living in the midst of her (nature) we are strangers to her.
She continuously speaks to us, yet does not betray her secret."

But Goethe also knew the reverse side:

"All people are in her and she is in all people."

2.8 Nature Within
[10] As true as it is that we have estranged ourselves from nature, it is just as true that we feel we are within nature and belong to her. This can only be due to the working of nature also manifesting itself in us.

2.9 Recognizing Nature Within
[11] We must find the way back to nature again. A simple consideration can show us the way. To be sure, we have torn ourselves away from nature, but we must still have taken something with us into our own selves. We must seek out this essence of nature in us, and then we will rediscover the connection with her once more. Dualism neglects to do this. It considers the human mind to be a non-physical entity totally alien to nature, and then searches for a way to connect it to nature. No wonder that it cannot find the connecting link. We can find nature outside us only when we have first learned to recognize it within us. What is akin to nature within us will be our guide. This marks out our path of inquiry. We will not speculate about how nature and mind interact. Instead we will descend into the depths of our own being in order to find there those elements that we have rescued in our flight from nature.

2.10 Something More Than “I"
[12] The investigation of our own being must bring us the solution to the problem. We must come to a point where we can say to ourselves: Here I am no longer merely 'I', here is located something that is more than 'I'.

2.11 Description Of Experience
[13] I expect that some who have read this far will not find my expositions to be in accordance with "the present position of scholarship." I can only reply that so far I have not been concerned with scholarly results of any kind, but rather with simple descriptions of what we all experience in our own consciousness. Even the sentences attempting to reconcile mind with the world have been included only for the purpose of making the actual facts clear. This is why I have placed no value in using single expressions such as 'I', 'mind', 'world' or 'nature' in the precise way that is usual in psychology and philosophy.

2.12 Facts Without Interpretation

The ordinary consciousness does not know the sharp distinctions of scholarship, and up to this point it has only been a matter of recording everyday facts. To object that my present expositions are not in accordance with scholarship is like quarreling with the reciter of a poem for failing to immediately accompany every line with scholarly aesthetic criticism. My concern is not how scholarship has interpreted consciousness, but rather how consciousness expresses itself from moment to moment.





The Fundamental Drive To Science
Chapter 2


Two souls, alas, dwell within my breast,
And each withdraws from and repels its brother.
One, in hearty lovelust,
Clings to the world with clutching organs;
The other strongly lifts itself from dust,
Into the high ancestral spheres.
Goethe, Faust I, 1112

2.0 Drive To Know
[1] With these words Goethe characterizes a trait deeply based in human nature. As human beings, we are not a fully integrated unity. We always demand more than the world offers. Nature has given us needs, but their satisfaction is left to our own action. However abundant is our share of nature's bounty, even more abundant are our desires. We seem born to be dissatisfied. One special instance of this dissatisfaction is our drive to know.

We look at a tree twice. The first time we see its branches motionless, the second time in motion. We are not satisfied with this observation. Why, we ask, does the tree appear to us the one time motionless, the other time in motion? Every glance at nature evokes a number of questions in us. Every phenomenon we encounter presents us with a task. Every experience is a puzzle. We see a creature emerging from the egg that is similar to the mother, and we ask the reason for this similarity. We observe a living being grow and develop to a certain degree of perfection, and we seek the conditions of this experience. Nowhere are we satisfied with what nature spreads out before our senses. We search everywhere for what we call the
explanation of the facts.

[2] We seek something more in things over and above what we are given at first glance. This addition splits our entire existence into two parts; the outer observed world and our inner thought world. We become conscious of standing in opposition to the world outside us. We confront the world as independent beings. The universe appears to us as two opposing sides:
I and world.

[3] We erect this wall of separation between ourselves and the world as soon as consciousness lights up within us. But we never lose the feeling that we belong to the world, joined to it by an enduring bond; that we are not beings
outside, but rather within the universe.

[4] It is this feeling that produces the striving to bridge the opposition, and in the final analysis, the entire spiritual striving of humankind consists of nothing but the bridging of these two opposing sides. The history of spiritual life is a continuous seeking after the unity between the I and the world.


Religion, art and science all pursue this same goal. The religious believer seeks in the revelation granted by God the solution to the mysteries of the world that his "I", dissatisfied with the world of mere phenomena, presents him with. The artist seeks to incorporate the ideas of his "I" into his material to reconcile what lives within him with the outer world. He also feels dissatisfied with the world as it appears and seeks to mold into it that something more that his "I", transcending the world of phenomena, contains. The thinker seeks the laws of phenomena, striving to penetrate with thinking what he experiences through observation.


Only when we have made the
world-content into our thought-content do we once again find the unity lost for us in childhood. We will see later why we can only reach this goal if we understand the task of scientific inquiry much more deeply than is usually the case.

The whole relationship I have described here between the I and the world appears historically in the contrast between the one-world theory of
monism, and the two-world theory of dualism.

Dualism pays attention only to the separation between the I and the world brought about by human consciousness. All its efforts are an ineffectual struggle to reconcile these opposites, which it may call
mind and matter or subject and object, or thought and phenomenon. The dualist has a feeling that there must be a bridge between the two worlds, but is not in a position to find it. Monism pays attention only to the unity and tries either to deny or blur the differences actually present. Neither of these two views can satisfy us, because they do not do justice to the facts.

The dualist sees mind and body (matter) as two totally different realities, so he cannot understand how they can interact with each other. How could the mind know what is going on in the body, if the physical nature of the body is entirely alien to the non-physical nature of the mind? Or, given these conditions, how could the mind affect the body in such a way that its intentions translate into deeds? The most absurd hypotheses have been proposed to answer these questions.


The monists are not yet in a much better position. Up to now they have tried to solve the problem in three different ways. Some deny mind and become materialists; others deny matter in order to seek their salvation as spiritualists; yet others claim that mind and matter are indivisibly united even in the simplest substance, so it is not surprising that both kinds of existence appear in the human being because nowhere are they found apart.


2.1 Physicalism
[5] Physicalism can never provide a satisfactory explanation of the world. This is because every attempt at an explanation must begin by forming thoughts about the phenomena of the world. So physicalism starts with thoughts of physical objects or physical processes.

But in doing so, it is already dealing with two different sets of facts: the physical world and the thoughts about it. The physicalist tries to understand thoughts by regarding them as purely physical processes. His belief is that thinking takes place in the brain, much like digestion takes place in the animal organs. Just as he attributes mechanical, chemical, and organic processes to matter, so he also credits matter, under certain conditions, with the capacity to think. But he overlooks that all he has done is shift the problem to another place.


The physicalist attributes the accomplishments of thinking to matter instead of to himself. This brings him back to his starting point. How does matter come to reflect upon its own existence? Why does it not simply go on existing, perfectly content with itself? The physicalist has turned his attention away from the specific subject, his own "I", and instead becomes occupied with complex physical configurations in the brain. And here the same problem comes up again. The physicalist view cannot solve the problem; it can only shift it to another place.


2.2 Spiritualism

[6] What about spiritualistic theory? The spiritualist denies the physical world regarding it as merely a product of mind (the I). He imagines the whole phenomenal world to be nothing more than a fabric woven by mind out of itself. This world view finds itself in difficulties as soon as it attempts to derive from mind any single concrete phenomenon. It cannot do so either in knowledge or in action.

2.3 Realism
If one would truly know the external world, one must look outwards and draw on the fund of experience. Without experience our mind can have no content. Similarly, when we go into action, we have to translate our intentions into realities with the help of physical things and forces. In other words, we are dependent on the external world.

2.4 Idealism
The most extreme spiritualist, or if you prefer, idealist, is Johann Gottlieb Fichte. He attempts to derive the whole world structure from the "I". What he has actually accomplished is a magnificent thought-picture of the world, but one without any content derived from experience. As little as it is possible for the physicalist to argue away the mind, just as little is it possible for the idealist to do without the external physical world.

2.5 Materialistic Idealism
[7] The view of Friedrich Albert Lange is a curious variation of idealism presented in his widely read History of Materialism. His view is that the physicalists are quite right when they explain that all phenomena, including our mind, are the product of purely physical processes, but conversely, physical objects and their processes are themselves a product of our mind.

"The senses only transmit to us the effects that things have on them, not accurate pictures, let alone the things themselves. But these mere effects also include the sense organs themselves, along with the brain and molecular movements within it."

In other words, our mind is produced by physical processes, and these are produced by our mind. Lange's philosophy is nothing but the story, translated into concepts, of the honest Baron Münchhausen who holds himself up freely in the air by his own pigtail.


2.6 Indivisible Unity

[8] The third form of Monism sees the indivisible unity of matter and mind in even the simplest sunstance. But nothing is gained here, for the question that actually originates in our consciousness is once more shifted to another place. How can a simple substance manifest itself in two different ways, if it is indivisible?

2.7 Polarity Of Consciousness
[9] To all these points of view, we must emphasize the fact that we first encounter the original and fundamental polarity in our own consciousness. We are the ones who separate ourselves from the native ground of nature and place ourselves as "I" over against the "world". Goethe has given classic expression to this in his essay Nature.

"Living in the midst of her (nature) we are strangers to her.
She speaks unceasingly to us, yet betrays none of her secrets."

But Goethe also knew the other side:


"All human beings are within her and she in every human being."

2.8 Nature Within
[10] It is true that we have estranged ourselves from nature, but it is just as true that we feel we are within nature and belong to her. This can only be due to something within us that is also a part of nature. While I am seeing nature outside of me, nature within me presses toward manifestation.

2.9 Knowing Nature Within
[11] We must find the way back to nature again. A simple reflection can show us the way. It is true we have torn ourselves away from nature, but within our own selves we must have taken something of her. We must go to this essence of nature within us, and then we will also find the connection with her once more.

Dualism misses this. It considers the human mind to be a non-material entity totally alien to nature, and then tries to somehow attach it to nature. No wonder that it cannot find the connecting link.


We can find nature outside of us only when we have first learned to recognize it
within us. It is the same nature within us that will be our guide. This maps out our path of inquiry. We will not speculate about the interaction between nature and mind. Instead we will probe into the depths of our own being in order to find there those elements of nature that we have saved in our flight from nature.

2.10 Something More Than “I"
[12] The investigation of our own being must bring us the solution to the problem. We must come to a point where we can say to ourselves: Here I am no longer merely 'I', here is located something that is more than 'I'.

2.11 Description Of Consciousness
[13] I am aware that some who have read this far will not have found my discussion "scientific" in the sense of today's meaning of the word. I can only reply that so far I have not been concerned with scientific results, but rather with a simple description of what everyone experiences in our own consciousness. Even those sentences about the attempts to reconcile mind with the world have only been included to clarify the actual facts. This is why I have made no attempt to use terms such as 'I', 'mind', 'world' or 'nature' in the precise way that is customary in psychology and philosophy.

2.12 Facts Without Interpretation

Everyday consciousness is unfamiliar with the sharp distinctions made by the sciences, and up to this point it has only been a matter of recording the facts of everyday experience. To object that the above discussions have been unscientific would be like quarreling with the reciter of a poem for failing to immediately accompany every line with aesthetic criticism. My concern is not how science has interpreted consciousness, but with the way we experience it each moment of our lives.

Chapter 2
The Fundamental Urge To Science

Two souls, alas, dwell within my breast,
And each withdraws from and repels its brother.
One, in hearty lovelust,
Clings to the world with clutching organs;
The other strongly lifts itself from dust,
Into the high ancestral spheres.
                                Goethe, Faust I, 1112

2.0 Transcending The World Of Phenomena

[1] In these words Goethe expresses a characteristic feature deeply rooted in human nature. As human beings, we are not uniformly organized. We always demand more than the world, of its own accord, gives us. Nature has given us needs; among them are some she leaves to our own activity to satisfy. Abundant are the gifts we have received from her, but even more abundant are our desires. We seem born to be dissatisfied. Our urge for knowledge is only a special case of this dissatisfaction. We look twice at a tree. The first time we see its branches at rest, the second time in motion. We are not satisfied with this observation. Why does the tree appear to us now at rest, then in motion? In this way we ask about things. Every look at nature produces a number of questions in us. A task is given us with every phenomenon that comes our way. Every experience becomes a riddle. We see, emerging from the egg, a creature similar to the mother animal, and we ask the reason for this similarity. We observe in a living being growth and develop to a certain level of perfection, and we seek the determining factors of this experience. Nowhere are we content with what nature spreads out before our senses. We seek everywhere for what we call the explanation of the facts.

[2] This something more that we seek in things, which exceeds what is given to us directly, splits our whole being into two parts; we become aware of our contrast to the world. We confront the world as independent beings. The universe appears to us as two opposite poles:
Self and World.

[3] We set up this wall of separation between ourselves and the world as soon as consciousness lights up within us. But we never lose the feeling that we do belong to the world, that a bond exists that connects us to it, that we are beings whose place is not
outside, but rather within the universe.

[4] This feeling makes us strive to bridge the contrast. And ultimately, the entire mindful striving of humankind consists of nothing but the bridging of this contrast. The history of our spiritual life is a continual searching for the unity between ourselves and the world. Religion, Art and Science all pursue this goal. The religious believer seeks in the revelation granted by God, the solution to the world mystery that his Self, dissatisfied with the merely phenomenal world, sets before him. The artist seeks to incorporate the ideas of her Self into various materials to reconcile what lives within her with the outer world. She, too, feels dissatisfied with the world as it appears and seeks to mold into it that something more that her Self, ---transcending the world of phenomena--- contains. The thinker seeks the laws of phenomena, striving to penetrate with thinking what he experiences through observation. Only when we have made the
world-content into our thought-content do we again find the unity from which we have detached ourselves. We will see later that this goal can only be reached if we understand the nature of the research scientist's task at a much deeper level than is usually the case. The whole situation I have described here is found historically in the contrast between the one-world theory, or Monism, and the two-world theory, or Dualism. Dualism directs its attention solely to the separation between the Self and the World, brought about by human consciousness. All its efforts consist in an ineffectual struggle to reconcile these contrasts, which it may call Mind and Matter (Spirit and Matter), or Subject and Object, or Thinking and Phenomenon. The Dualist feels that there must be a bridge between the two worlds, but is not capable of finding it.

When the human being experiences himself as "I", he can do no other than put this "I" on the side of the thinking
mind; and in contrasting this "I" with the world, he must figure on the world's side the world of perception given to the senses: the Material World. In this way, the human being locates himself within the contrast of Mind and Matter. He must do this all the more because his own body belongs to the Material World. Thus the "I", or Ego, belongs to the realm of Mind, as a part of it; while material objects and processes, which are perceived by the senses, belong to the "World". All the riddles connected with Mind and Matter, human beings must find again in the fundamental riddle of their own essential nature.

Monism
directs its view only upon the unity and tries either to deny or blur the contrasts actually present. Neither of these two points of view is satisfactory, for they do not do justice to the facts. Dualism sees in Mind (I) and Matter (World) two fundamentally different entities, and therefore, cannot understand how they can interact with each other. How should Mind be aware of what goes on in Matter, if the essential nature of Matter is entirely alien to Mind? Or how should Mind under these circumstances influence Matter in such a way that its intentions translate into deeds? The most clever and the most absurd hypotheses have been put forward to solve these questions.

Yet, to the present day, the Monists are not in a much better position. They have sought help up till now in three ways: either they deny Mind and become Materialists; or they deny Matter in order to seek their salvation as Spiritualists; or they claim that even in the simplest entity in the world, Mind and Matter are indivisibly united so it is not surprising if these two kinds of existence are both present in the human being, for they are never found apart.


2.1 Materialism

[5] Materialism can never provide a satisfactory explanation of the world. For every attempt at an explanation must begin with one’s forming thoughts about the phenomena of the world. Materialism, therefore, starts with the thoughts of Matter or material processes. But in doing so, it already has two different sets of facts before it: the material world and the thoughts about it. Materialism tries to understand thoughts by viewing them as purely material processes. It believes that thinking takes place in the brain in about the same way as digestion takes place in the animal organs. Just as it attribute mechanical and organic effects to Matter, so Materialism credit Matter, under certain conditions, with the ability to think. But it forgets that all it has done is shift the problem from one place to another location. Materialists attribute the power of thinking to Matter instead of to themselves. This brings them back to the starting point. How does Matter come to reflect upon its own nature? Why is it not simply satisfied with itself and content to accept its own existence? The Materialist has turned his view away from the definite subject, our own I, and arrives at something uncertain and undefined. And here the same riddle comes up again. The materialistic view cannot solve the problem; it can only shift it from one place to another.

2.2 Spiritualistic Theory

[6] And what about the Spiritualistic view? The pure Spiritualists deny Matter any independent existence and regard it merely as a product of Mind. They supposes the whole phenomenal world to be nothing more than a fabric woven by Mind out of itself. This view of the world finds itself in difficulties as soon as it attempts to deduce from Mind any single concrete phenomenon. It cannot do so either in knowledge or in action. If one would really know the external world, one must turn one's eye outwards and draw on the fund of experience. Without experience Mind can have no content.

When they try to apply this world view to solve the riddle of their own human existence, they are driven into a corner. Confronting the "I" or Ego, which can be placed on the side of Spirit, there stands directly the world of the senses. No
spiritual entry into it seems open; it has to be perceived and experienced by the "I" with the help of material processes. As long as it wants to be regarded solely as a spiritual entity, the “I” does not find such material processes within itself. Within all that it works out spiritually by its own effort, no trace of the physical world is to be found. It seems as if the "I" has to admit that the world is closed to it unless it puts itself into an unspiritual relationship to the world. Similarly, when it comes to action, we have to translate our intentions into realities with the help of material things and forces. We are, therefore, reliant on the external world.

2.3 Absolute Idealism

The most extreme Spiritualist, or if you prefer, the thinker who through his Absolute Idealism presents himself as an extreme Spiritualist---is Johann Gottlieb Fichte. He attempts to derive the whole world structure from the "I". What he actually accomplished is a magnificent thought-picture of the world, but one without any content of experience. As little as it is possible for the Materialist to banish the Mind by decree, just as little is it possible for the Spiritualist to banish the external world of Matter by decree.

2.4 One-Sided Idealism

[7] Because the first thing we perceive when we recognize our “I” is the work of this “I” in the conceptual structuring of a world of Ideas, those with a world view directed by Spiritualistic beliefs may feel tempted, when looking at their own essential nature, to acknowledge nothing of Mind except their own world of Ideas. In this way Spiritualism becomes one-sided Idealism. It does not come to a point ---through the ideology of the spiritual
world--- of seeking a spiritual world itself; it sees in the world of ideas the spiritual world. As a result, Idealists are driven to remain fixed with their world view within the activity of the “I”, as if spellbound.

2.5 Agnosticism

[8] A curious variation of Idealism is the view of Friedrich Albert Lange represented in his widely read History of Materialism. He suggests that Materialism is right when it explains all world phenomena, including our thoughts, to be the product of purely material processes, but, conversely, Matter and its processes are themselves a product of our thinking.

“The senses give us only the
effects of things, not accurate pictures, let alone the things themselves. But among these mere effects we must include the senses themselves, along with the brain and molecular vibrations within it."

That means our thinking is produced by the material processes, and these are produced by the thinking of the "I". Lange's philosophy, in other words, is nothing more than the story, translated into concepts, of the brave Baron Münchhausen, who holds himself up freely in the air by his own pigtail.


2.6 Indivisible Unity

[9] The third form of Monism is the one that sees both essences, Matter and Mind, already united in the simplest entity (the atom). But nothing is achieved by this either, for here again the question, which really originates in our consciousness, is shifted to another place. How does the simple entity manifest itself in a two-fold way, if it is an indivisible unity?

2.7 Contrast Ourselves

[10] In regard to all these points of view, we must emphasize that the basic and primal contrast confronts us first in our own consciousness. It is we who free ourselves from the mother ground of Nature and contrast ourselves as "I" with the "World". Goethe has given classic expression to this in his essay Nature, although his manner of expression may at first sight be considered completely unscientific: "Living in the midst of her (Nature) we are strangers to her. Ceaselessly she speaks to us, yet tells us none of her secrets." But Goethe also knows the reverse side: "All human beings are within her and she within all human beings."

2.8 Belong To Nature

[11] It is true that we have alienated ourselves from Nature; but it is just as true that we feel we are within her and belong to her. It can only be Nature’s own working that also lives in us.

2.9 Know Nature Within

[12] We must find the way back to her again. A simple reflection can show us the way. We have, it is true, torn ourselves away from Nature, but we must still have taken something over into our own being. This essence of Nature within us we must seek out, and then we will discover the connection with her once again. Dualism misses this. It considers the human Mind as a spiritual entity totally alien to Nature, and then seeks somehow to connect it to Nature. No wonder that it cannot find the connecting link. We can find Nature outside us only if we first know her within
us. What is akin to Nature within us will be our guide. With this our path is mapped out for us. We will not engage in any speculations about the interaction between Mind and Matter. We will rather descend into the depths of our own being, to find those elements that we saved in our escape from Nature.

2.10 Something More Than “I"

[13] The exploration of our own being must bring us the solution to the riddle. We must come to a point where we can say to ourselves: Here we are no longer merely 'I', here is something that is more than 'I'.

2.11 Description Of Experience

[14] I am aware that some who have read this far will not find my remarks in conformity with "the current position of science." I can only reply that, so far, I have not been concerned with scientific results of any kind, but rather with the simple description of what every one of us experiences in his/her own consciousness. A few sentences about attempts to reconcile Mind with the World have been included only to clarify the actual facts. This is why I attach no value to using single expressions like "I," "Mind" and "Spirit," "World," "Nature," in the precise way that is usual in Psychology and Philosophy.

2.12 Facts Of Consciousness Without Interpretation

The ordinary consciousness is unaware of the sharp distinctions made by the sciences, and up to this point it has only been a matter of recording the facts of everyday experience. To object that the above discussions have been unscientific would be like quarreling with the reciter of a poem for failing to accompany every line at once with aesthetic criticism. What concerns me is not how science, so far, has interpreted consciousness, but rather how we experience it hour by hour.


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