Conscious Human Action

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The Philosophy of Freedom
New English Translation for online Study Course
(revised 12/11/2010)

Conscious Human Action
Chapter 1

1.0 The Idea of Freedom
[1] Is the human being free in thinking and action, or compelled by an inescapable necessity? Few questions have been the focus of so much ingenuity. The idea of freedom has found both enthusiastic supporters and stubborn opponents in great number. Some, in their moral fervor, label anyone narrow-minded who denies the obvious fact of freedom. Others who oppose them see it as the height of unscientific thinking for anyone to believe that the uniformity of natural law is broken in the field of human action and thinking. One and the same thing is proclaimed to be humanity's most precious possession as often as it is called our most harmful illusion. Endless distinctions have been used to explain how human freedom can be compatible with determinism in nature, because the human being is so clearly a part of nature. No less effort has been put into explaining how this delusion has come about. It must be felt by anyone whose character is not wholly superficial that we are dealing here with one of the most important questions of life, religion, conduct and science.

1.1 Freedom of Indifferent Choice
A sad indication of the superficiality of contemporary thinking can be found in a book that attempts to formulate a ‘new belief’ from the results of recent scientific research contains nothing on this question but these words:

“There is no need to go into the question of freedom of the human will. The supposed freedom of indifferent choice has been recognized as an empty illusion by every reputable philosophy. The determination of moral value in human conduct and character remains untouched by this question.” (David Friedrich Strauss: Old and New Belief)

This book is not quoted here because I consider it to be particularly significant, but because I believe this passage expresses the view most contemporary thinkers have been able to reach on this question. Everyone who claims to have advanced beyond elementary science seems to know today that freedom cannot consist of neutrally choosing, entirely at will, one or the other of two possible actions. There always exists, so we are told, a very specific reason that explains why we carry out just one particular action from among several possibilities.

1.2 Freedom of Choice
[2] This seems obvious. Yet the main attacks of today’s opponents of freedom are only directed against freedom of choice. Even Herbert Spencer, whose opinions gain ever wider acceptance, says:

“That everyone is at liberty to desire or not to desire, which is the real proposition involved in the dogma of free-will, is negated as much by the internal perception of everyone as by the contents of the preceding chapters.” (The Principles of Psychology, 1855)

1.3 Free Necessity of One's Own Nature
Others who refute the concept of free will start from the same viewpoint. The seeds of all such arguments can be found as early as Spinoza. What he brought forward against the idea of freedom so clearly and simply has since been repeated countless times, usually cloaked in such intricate theoretical doctrine that it is hard to recognize the plain and essential line of thought. Spinoza writes:

“If something exists and acts out of the pure necessity of its own nature I call it free; if its existence and activity are determined in an exact and fixed way by something else I call it compelled. For example, God is free, although with necessity, because He exists solely out of the necessity of His own nature. In the same way God knows Himself and everything else freely, because it follows solely out of the necessity of His nature that He knows everything. So you see that I locate freedom, not in a free decision, but rather in a free necessity.

[3] “But let us come down to created things, which are all determined by external causes to exist and to act in a fixed and exact way. To see this more clearly, let us imagine a very simple case. A stone, for example, receives a certain momentum from an external cause that makes contact with it so that the stone necessarily continues to move after the impact of the external cause has ceased. The continued motion of the stone is compelled by the external impact and not by any necessity within the stone’s own nature, because the continuing motion has to be defined by the thrust of an external cause. What is true here for the stone is true for everything else, no matter how complex and multifaceted it may be. Everything is determined with necessity by external causes to exist and to act in a fixed and exact way.

[4] “Now please assume that the stone, while in motion, thinks and knows that it is striving to the best of its ability to continue moving. This stone is conscious only of its own striving, to which it is not at all indifferent, and it will believe that it is absolutely free to continue moving for no other reason than its own will to continue. Yet this is the human freedom that everybody claims to possess, and it consists entirely of the fact that people are conscious only of their desires and ignorant of the causes that determine them.

“Thus the child believes it freely desires milk; the angry boy believes he freely demands revenge; and the coward believes he freely chooses to run away. A drunk believes he says things of his own free will that, when sober again, he will wish he had not said; and since this bias is inborn in everybody, it is difficult to free oneself from it. Even though experience teaches us often enough that people can moderate their own desires least of all, and that when moved by two opposing passions they see the better and pursue the worse; yet they still consider themselves free because they desire some things less intensely, and there are some desires that can be easily inhibited by becoming preoccupied with memories of something else.”
(Letter of October or November, 1674)

[5] Because this view is so clearly and precisely expressed, it is easy to uncover its fundamental error. Human beings are supposedly compelled to carry out an action when driven to it by any cause with the same necessity as a stone that carries out a specific movement after an impact. It is only because human beings are conscious of their action that they regard themselves as the free originator of it. But in so doing they overlook the causes driving them, which they must obey unconditionally. The error in this line of thought is soon discovered. Spinoza and all who think like him overlook the fact that human beings can be conscious, not only of their actions, but also of the causes that guide them.

Anyone can see that a child is not free when it desires milk and that a drunk is not free who says things he later regrets. Neither knows anything of the causes working deep within their organism that exercise an irresistible control over them. But is it right to group such actions together with those of human beings who are conscious, not only of their actions, but also of the causes of their actions? Are the actions of human beings really all of one kind? Should the actions of a soldier on the battlefield, a research scientist in the laboratory or a diplomat involved in complex negotiations be placed in the same scientific category as those of a child who desires milk?

It is no doubt best to seek the solution of a problem where the conditions are simplest. But the inability to see distinctions has often caused endless confusion. There is certainly a profound difference between knowing and not knowing why I act. At first sight this seems to be an entirely obvious truth. Yet the opponents of freedom never ask themselves whether a motive of action that I recognize and understand compels me in the same sense as the organic process which causes a child to cry for milk.

1.4 Free from External Influences
[6] Eduard von Hartmann asserts in his Phenomenology of Moral Consciousness that human will depends on two main factors: motives and character. If we see people as all alike, or at least having negligible differences, then their will appears to be determined from outside by the circumstances they encounter. But if we take into consideration that different people adopt an idea as a motive of action only if their character is such that a particular idea arouses a desire in them, then the human being appears to be determined from within and not from outside. But because an idea given to us from outside must first be adopted as a motive according to our character, we believe that we are free and independent of external influences. However, according to Eduard von Hartmann the truth is that:

“Even though we must first adopt an idea as a motive ourselves, we do not do so arbitrarily, but rather according to our characterological disposition; which means that we are anything but free.”

Here again, the difference is completely ignored between motives that I allow to influence me only after I have consciously made them my own, and motives that I follow without any clear knowledge of them.

1.5 Action Resulting from Conscious Motive
[7] This leads straight to the standpoint from which the subject will be considered here. Can the question of freedom be directed only towards the will in a one-sided way? And if not, what other question needs to be linked to it?

[8] If there is a difference between conscious and unconscious motives of action, then a conscious motive will result in an action that must be judged differently to one that springs from blind impulse. Our first question will consider this difference. The answer to this question will determine the approach we need to take toward the question of freedom itself.

[9] What does it mean to know the reasons for one's action? Too little attention has been given to this question because unfortunately the inseparable whole that is the human being has always been torn in two. We distinguish the knower from the doer, while the one who matters most has been overlooked: the knowing doer who acts out of knowledge.

1.6 Free When Controlled by Reason
[10] It is said that human beings are free when they are controlled only by their reason and not by animal passions. In other words, freedom means being able to determine one’s life and actions according to purposeful aims and deliberate decisions.

[11] Nothing is gained by assertions of this kind since this is in fact the question, whether reason, purpose and decisions exert the same kind of control over a person as animal passions. If a rational decision emerges in me without any effort on my part and with the same urgent need as hunger and thirst, then I must obey it and my freedom is an illusion.

1.7 Free to Do as One Wants
[12] Another claim is that freedom does not mean being able to determine what one wants, but being able to do what one wants. Poet and philosopher Robert Hamerling has given this idea sharply outlined expression:

“The human being can certainly do what he wants, but he cannot determine what he wants, because his will is determined by motives! He cannot determine what he wants? Let us look at these words more closely. Do they make any sense?

Is free will the capacity to want something without a reason, without a motive? But what does wanting mean other than having reasons for doing or trying to do this rather than that? To want something without a reason, without a motive, would be to want something without wanting it. The concept of wanting is inseparable from the concept of motive. Without a determining motive the will is an empty faculty; only through the motive does it become active and real. Therefore, it is entirely correct that the human will is not ‘free’ to the extent that its direction is always determined by the strongest of its motives. But, in contrast to this ‘unfreedom', it is absurd to speak of a possible ‘freedom’ of the will that amounts to having the ability to want what one does not want.” (Atomistics of the Will)

[13] Here too, only motives in general are discussed without considering the difference between unconscious and conscious motives. If a motive acts on me and I am forced to follow it because it proves to be the ‘strongest’ of its kind, then the idea of freedom ceases to have any meaning. Why should it matter to me whether I can do something or not if I am forced by the motive to do it? It is not a question of whether I can or cannot do something after a motive acts on me, but whether any motives exist other than those that control me with absolute necessity. If I must want something, under certain circumstances I may be completely indifferent as to whether I can also do it. If a motive that I think is unreasonable is forced upon me by my character, or the circumstances prevailing in my environment, then I would even have to be glad when I cannot do what I want.

[14] What matters is not whether I am able to carry out a decision once it is made, but how the decision arises within me.

1.8 Unconditioned Will
[15] What distinguishes human beings from all other organic beings is rational thinking. Simply to be active is something we have in common with other organisms. Nothing is gained by searching for analogies in the animal kingdom to clarify a concept of freedom that applies to the actions of human beings. Modern natural science loves such analogies. When scientists have successfully identified among animals something similar to human behavior, they believe they have touched on the most significant question of the science of man. This view leads to misunderstandings such as this example from Paul Rée, who says the following about freedom:

"It is easy to explain why the movement of a stone appears to come about by necessity, while the will of a donkey does not. The causes that set a stone in motion are of course external and visible. But the causes by which the donkey wills are internal and invisible. Between us and the place where they are active is the skull of the donkey... They do not see the causal dependence and so they believe it does not exist. Then they explain that the will itself is the cause of the donkey turning around; it is unconditioned, it is an absolute beginning."

Here too human actions in which there is consciousness of the reasons for the action are simply ignored, for Rée explains that “Between us and the place where they are active is the skull of the donkey.” These words show that Rée has no clue to the fact that there are actions – not a donkey's actions, to be sure, but certainly of human actions – where a motive that has become conscious lies between us and the action. Rée demonstrates this again a few pages later with these words:

“We do not perceive the causes that determine our will, and so we believe it is not causally determined at all.”

[16] But enough of the examples which prove that many who dispute freedom know absolutely nothing of what freedom really is.

1.9 Think About Reasons
[17] It is obvious that an action cannot be free if the doer carries it out without knowing why. But is an action free when we have thought about the reasons first? This leads us to the question of the origin and significance of thinking. Once we know what thinking in general means, it will be easy to become clear about the role of thinking in human action. Hegel is right when he says that "only with thinking does the soul, which animals also possess, become mind." It is also thinking that gives human action its distinguishing signature.

1.10 Heart-Felt Response To Mental Picture
[18] This is not meant to imply that all our actions proceed only from calmly reasoned deliberation. I am not suggesting that only actions that follow abstract judgments are, in the highest sense “human”. But the moment our conduct rises above the satisfaction of purely animal desires our motives are always permeated with thoughts. Love, compassion, and patriotism are driving forces for action that cannot be reduced to cold rational concepts. It is said that this is where heart-felt sensibility prevails. No doubt. But the heart and its sensibility do not create the motives of action. This is established prior to our response. Compassion appears in my heart when the mental picture of a person who arouses compassion enters my consciousness. The way to the heart is through the head.

1.11 Make Idealistic Mental Picture
Love is no exception to this. If it is not merely the expression of the raw sexual drive, then it is based on the mental picture we make of the loved one. The more idealistic these mental pictures are, the more blissful is our love. Even here, thought is the father of feeling.

1.12 Make Mental Picture Of Good Qualities
It is said that love makes us blind to the flaws of the loved one. But we can turn this around and say that love opens our eyes to the good qualities of the loved one. Many pass by without noticing these good qualities. One person sees them and just because of this, love awakens within. What has this person done other than make a mental picture of something that hundreds of others have failed to see? Others do not love because they lack the mental picture.

[19] We can approach this subject however we want, yet it only becomes increasingly clear that the question of the origin of thought must come before the question concerning the nature of human action. So I will turn to this question next.

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1.0 The Question of Freedom
[1] Is the human being free in thinking and action, or inescapably controlled by natural laws? Few questions have been the focus of so much ingenuity. The idea of freedom has found both enthusiastic supporters and stubborn opponents in abundance. Some, in their moral emotionalism, label as narrow-minded anyone who denies the obvious fact of freedom. Others who oppose them consider that it is the peak of unscientific thinking for anyone to believe that the *uniformity* of natural law breaks down in the field of human action and thinking. One and the same thing is proclaimed to be humanity's most precious possession as often as it is called our most harmful illusion. Endless insignificant distinctions have been used to explain how human freedom can be compatible with determinism in nature, because the human being is so clearly a part of nature. No less effort has been put into explaining how this delusion has come about. It must be felt by anyone whose character is not wholly superficial that we are dealing here with one of the most important questions of life, religion, conduct and science.

1.1 Freedom of Indifferent Choice

A sad indication of the superficiality of contemporary thinking can be found in a book that attempts to develop a ‘new faith’ from the results of recent scientific research contains nothing on this question but these words:

“There is no need to go into the question of freedom of the human will. The supposed freedom of indifferent choice has been recognized as an empty illusion by every reputable philosophy. The determination of moral value in human conduct and character remains untouched by this question.” (David Friedrich Strauss: Old and New Belief)


This book is not quoted here because I consider it to be particularly significant, but because I believe this passage expresses the only view most contemporary thinkers can reach on this question. Everyone who claims to have advanced beyond elementary science seems to know that freedom cannot consist of neutrally choosing, entirely at will, one or the other of two possible actions. There is always, so we are told, a quite specific reason that explains why we carry out one particular action from among several possibilities.


1.2 Freedom of Choice

[2] This seems obvious. Yet the main attacks of today’s opponents of freedom are only directed against freedom of choice. Even Herbert Spencer, whose opinions gain ever wider acceptance, says:

“That everyone is at liberty to desire or not to desire, which is the real proposition involved in the dogma of free-will, is negated as much by the internal perception of every one as by the contents of the preceding chapters.” (The Principles of Psychology, 1855)


1.3 Free Necessity of One's Own Nature

Others who refute the concept of free will start from the same viewpoint. The seeds of all such arguments can be found as early as Spinoza. What he brought forward against the idea of freedom so clearly and simply has since been repeated countless times, usually cloaked in such complicated theoretical formulations that it is hard to recognize the plain and essential line of thought. Spinoza writes:

“If something exists and acts out of the pure necessity of its own nature I call it free; if its existence and activity are determined in an exact and fixed way by something else I call it compelled. For example, God is free, although with necessity, because He exists solely out of the necessity of His own nature. In the same way God knows Himself and everything else freely, because it follows solely out of the necessity of His nature that He knows everything. So you see that I locate freedom, not in a free decision, but in a free necessity.


[3] “But let us come down to created things, which are all determined by external causes to exist and to act in a fixed and exact way. To see this more clearly, let us imagine a very simple case. A stone, for example, receives a certain momentum from an external cause that makes contact with it so that the stone necessarily continues to move after the impact of the external cause has ceased. The continued motion of the stone is compelled by the external impact and not by any necessity within the stone’s own nature, because the continuing motion has to be defined by the thrust of an external cause. What is true here for the stone is true for everything else, no matter how complex and multifaceted it may be. Everything is determined with necessity by external causes to exist and to act in a fixed and exact way.


[4] “Now please assume that the stone, while in motion, thinks and knows that it is striving to the best of its ability to continue moving. This stone is conscious only of its own striving, to which it is not at all indifferent, and it will believe that it is absolutely free to continue moving for no other reason than its own will to continue. Yet this is the human freedom that everybody claims to possess, and it consists entirely of the fact that people are conscious only of their desires and ignorant of the causes that determine them.


“Thus the child believes it freely desires milk; the angry boy believes he freely demands revenge; and the coward believes he freely chooses to run away. A drunk believes he says things of his own free will that, when sober again, he will wish he had not said; and since this bias is inborn in everybody, it is difficult to free oneself from it. Even though experience teaches us often enough that people can moderate their own desires least of all, and that when moved by two opposing passions they see the better and pursue the worse; yet they still consider themselves free because they desire some things less intensely, and there are some desires that can be easily inhibited by becoming preoccupied with memories of something else.”

(Letter of October or November, 1674)

[5] Because this view is so clearly and precisely expressed, it is easy to uncover its fundamental error. Human beings are supposedly compelled to carry out an action when driven to it by any cause with the same necessity as a stone that carries out a specific movement after an impact. It is only because human beings are conscious of their action that they regard themselves as the free originator of it. But in so doing they overlook the causes driving them, which they must obey unconditionally. The error in this line of thought is soon discovered. Spinoza and all who think like him overlook the fact that human beings can be conscious, not only of their actions, but also of the causes that guide them.


Anyone can see that a child is not free when it desires milk and that a drunk is not free who says things he later regrets. Neither knows anything of the causes working deep within their organism that exercise an irresistible control over them. But is it right to group such actions together with those of human beings who are conscious, not only of their actions, but also of the causes of their actions? Are the actions of human beings really all of one kind? Should the actions of a soldier on the battlefield, a research scientist in the laboratory or a diplomat involved in complex negotiations be placed in the same scientific category as those of a child who desires milk?


It is no doubt best to seek the solution of a problem where the conditions are simplest. But the inability to see distinctions has often caused endless confusion. There is certainly a profound difference between knowing and not knowing why I act. At first sight this seems to be an entirely obvious truth. Yet the opponents of freedom never ask themselves whether a motive of action that I recognize and understand compels me in the same sense as the organic process which causes a child to cry for milk.


1.4 Free from External Influences

[6] Eduard von Hartmann asserts in his Phenomenology of Moral Consciousness that human will depends on two main factors: motives and character. If we see people as all alike, or at least having negligible differences, then their will appears to be determined from outside by the circumstances they encounter. But if we take into consideration that different people adopt an idea as a motive of action only if their character is such that a particular idea arouses a desire in them, then the human being appears to be determined from within and not from outside. But because an idea given to us from outside must first be adopted as a motive according to our character, we believe that we are free and independent of external influences. However, according to Eduard von Hartmann the truth is that:

“Even though we must first adopt an idea as a motive ourselves, we do not do so arbitrarily, but rather according to our established character; which means that we are anything but free.”


Here again, the difference is completely ignored between motives that I allow to influence me only after I have consciously made them my own, and motives that I follow without any clear knowledge of them.


1.5 Action Resulting from Conscious Motive

[7] This leads straight to the standpoint from which the subject will be considered here. Can the question of freedom be directed only one-sidedly towards the will? And if not, what other question needs to be linked to it?

[8] If there is a difference between conscious and unconscious motives of action, then a conscious motive will result in an action that must be judged differently to one that follows blind impulse. Our first question will consider this difference. The answer to this question will determine the approach we need to take toward the question of freedom itself.


[9] What does it mean to have knowledge of the motives of one's actions? Too little attention has been given to this question because unfortunately the indivisible whole that is the human being has always been torn in two. The doer has been separated from the knower, while the one who matters most has been overlooked: the knowing doer who acts out of knowledge.


1.6 Free When Controlled by Reason

[10] It is claimed that human beings are free when they are controlled only by their reason and not by animal passions. In other words, freedom means being able to determine one’s life and actions according to purposeful aims and deliberate decisions.

[11] Nothing is gained by such assertions. For the question is whether reason, purpose and decisions merely exert the same kind of control over a person as animal passions. If a rational decision emerges in me without any effort on my part and with the same urgent need as hunger or thirst then I must obey it and my freedom is an illusion.


1.7 Free to Do as One Wants

[12] Another claim is that freedom does not mean being able to determine what one wants, but being able to do what one wants. This thought has been clearly articulated by poet and philosopher Robert Hamerling:

“The human being can certainly do what he wants, but he cannot determine what he wants, because his will is determined by motives! He cannot determine what he wants? Let us look at these words more closely. Do they make any sense?


Is free will the capacity to want something without a reason, without a motive? But what does wanting mean other than having reasons for doing or trying to do this rather than that? To want something without a reason, without a motive, would be to want something without wanting it. The concept of wanting is inseparable from the concept of motive. Without a determining motive the will is an empty faculty; only through the motive does it become active and real. Therefore, it is entirely correct that the human will is not ‘free’ to the extent that its direction is always determined by the strongest of its motives. But, in contrast to this ‘unfreedom', it is absurd to speak of a possible ‘freedom’ of the will that amounts to having the ability to want what one does not want.” (Atomistics of the Will)


[13] Here too, only motives in general are discussed without considering a difference between unconscious and conscious motives. If a motive acts on me and I am forced to follow it because it proves to be the ‘strongest’ of its kind, then the idea of freedom ceases to have any meaning. Why should it matter to me whether I can do something or not if I am forced by the motive to do it? It is not a question of whether I can or cannot do something after a motive has influenced me, but whether any motives exist other than those that control me with absolute necessity. If I must want something, then I may be completely indifferent as to whether I can also do it. If a motive that I think is unreasonable is forced upon me by my character, or the circumstances prevailing in my environment, then I would even have to be glad when I cannot do what I want.


[14] *What matters is not whether I am able to carry out a decision once it is made, but how I arrive at the decision.*


1.8 Unconditioned Will

[15] What distinguishes human beings from all other organic beings is rational *thinking*. Simply to be active is something we have in common with other organisms. Nothing is gained by searching for analogies in the animal kingdom to clarify a concept of freedom that applies to the actions of human beings. Modern natural science loves such analogies. When scientists have successfully identified among animals something similar to human behavior, they believe they have touched on the most significant question of the science of man. This view leads to misunderstandings such as this example from Paul Rée, who writes the following about freedom:

“It is easy to explain why the movement of a stone appears to come about by necessity, while the will of a donkey does not. The causes that set a stone in motion are external and visible, while the causes that determine a donkey's will are internal and invisible. Between us and the place of their activity is the skull of the donkey… The conditional causality is not seen, so it is thought to be nonexistent. Then an explanation is given that the will, which is the cause of the donkey’s turning around, is itself unconditioned; it is an absolute beginning [(a first cause and not a link in a chain of events) But a presumption of this kind is contradicted by experience and the universal validity of the law of causality.]” (The Illusion of Free Will)


Here too human actions in which there is consciousness of the motives are simply ignored, for Rée declares that “Between us and the place of their activity is the skull of the donkey.” These words show that Rée has no clue that actions exist – not a donkey's actions, to be sure, but human actions – where a motive that has become conscious stands between us and the action. Rée demonstrates his blindness again, a few pages later with these words:


“We do not perceive the causes that determine our will, and so we believe it is not causally determined at all.”


[16] But enough of the examples which prove that many who dispute freedom know absolutely nothing of what freedom really is.


1.9 Think About Reasons

[17] It is obvious that an action cannot be free if the doer carries it out without knowing why. But what about the freedom of an action when we think about the reasons first? This leads us to the question of the origin and significance of thinking. Once we know what thinking in general means, it will be easy to see clearly the role that thinking plays in human action.

Hegel is right when he says that “it is thinking that turns the soul, which animals also possess, into spirit.” It is also thinking that gives human action its distinguishing signature.


1.10 Motives Shaped By Thought

[18] This is not meant *to imply that all our actions proceed only from calmly reasoned deliberation. I am not suggesting that only actions that follow abstract judgments are, in the highest sense “human”.* But the moment our conduct rises beyond the satisfaction of purely animal desires our motives are always shaped by thoughts.

Love, compassion, and patriotism are driving forces for action that refuse to dissipate into unemotional conceptual reasoning. It is said that this is where heart-felt sensibility prevails. No doubt. But the heart and its sensibility do not create the motives of action. This is established prior to our response. Compassion appears in my heart when the thought picture of a person who arouses compassion enters my consciousness. The way to the heart is through the head.


1.11 Idealistic Thought Pictures

Love is no exception to this. If it is not merely the expression of the raw sexual drive, then it is based on the thought pictures that we make for ourselves of the loved one. The more idealistic these thought pictures are, the more blissful is our love. Even here, thought is the father of feeling.

1.12 Thought Picture Of Good Qualities

It is said that love makes us blind to the flaws of the loved one. But we can turn this around and say that love opens our eyes to the *good qualities* of the loved one. Many pass by without noticing these good qualities. One person sees them and just because of this, love awakens within. What has this person done other than make a thought picture of something that hundreds of others have failed to see? Others do not love because they lack the thought picture.

[19] However we take hold of this subject, it becomes increasingly clear that the question of the origin of thought must come before the question concerning the nature of human action. So I will turn to this question now.


>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

[1] Is the human being free in thought and action, or inescapably compelled by purely natural laws? Few questions have been the focus of so much ingenuity. The idea of freedom has found many enthusiastic supporters and stubborn opponents.

Some, in their moral zeal, label anyone narrow-minded who denies the obvious fact of freedom. They are opposed by others who regard it as naive unscientific thinking for anyone to believe that the uniformity of natural law is broken in the field of human action and thought. The same thing is proclaimed to be humanity's most precious possession as often as it is called its most harmful illusion.


Endless minute distinctions have been used to explain how human freedom can be compatible with determinism in nature, for after all, the human being is a part of nature. Just as much effort has been put into explaining how this delusion has come about. It must be obvious to all but the most superficial thinkers that we are dealing here with one of the most important questions of life, religion, conduct and science.


1.1 Freedom Of Indifferent Choice
It is one of the sad indications of the superficiality of contemporary thought that a book which attempts to develop a ‘new faith’ from the results of recent scientific research contains nothing on this question but these words:


“There is no need to go into the question of freedom of the human will. The supposed freedom of indifferent choice has been recognized as an empty illusion by every reputable philosophy. The determination of moral value in human conduct and character remains untouched by this question.”

(David Friedrich Strauss, Old and New Belief)

I do not quote this book because I believe it has any special significance, but because it seems to me to express the only view that most contemporary thinkers have been able to reach on this question. Everyone who claims to have advanced beyond elementary science seems to know that freedom cannot consist of neutrally choosing, entirely at will, one or the other of two possible courses of action. There always exists, so we are told, a very specific reason that explains why we carry out one particular action from among several possibilities.


1.2 Freedom Of Choice
[2] This seems obvious. Yet the main attacks of today’s opponents of freedom are directed only against freedom of choice. Even Herbert Spencer, whose views are gaining ever wider acceptance, says:

“That everyone is at liberty to desire or not to desire, as they will, which is the real proposition involved in the dogma of free will, is refuted by the analysis of consciousness as much as by the contents of the preceding chapters.” (The Principles of Psychology, 1855)


1.3 Free Necessity Of One's Own Nature
Others who refute the concept of free will start from the same point of view. The seeds of all such arguments can be found as early as Spinoza. What he brought forward against the idea of freedom so clearly and simply has since been repeated countless times, but usually veiled in the most sophisticated theoretical doctrines that make it difficult to recognize the plain course of thought on which everything depends. Spinoza writes:

“I call a thing free that exists and acts out of the pure necessity of its nature; I call it compelled if its existence and activity are determined in an exact and fixed way by something else. For example, God is free, although with necessity, because He exists solely out of the necessity of His own nature. In the same way God knows Himself and everything else freely, because it follows solely out of the necessity of His nature that He knows everything. So you see that I locate freedom, not in a free decision, but in a free necessity.


[3] “But let us come down to created things, which are all determined by external causes to exist and to act in a fixed and exact way. To see this more clearly, let us imagine a very simple case. A stone, for example, receives a certain momentum from an external cause that makes contact with it so that, after the impact of the external cause has ceased, the stone necessarily continues to move. The continued motion of the stone is compelled by the external impact and not by any necessity within the stone’s own nature, because the continuing motion has to be defined by the thrust of an external cause. What is true here for the stone is true for everything else, no matter how complex and multifaceted it may be. Everything is determined with necessity by external causes to exist and to act in a fixed and exact way.


[4]
“Now please assume that the stone, while in motion, thinks and knows that it is striving to the best of its ability to continue in motion. This stone is conscious only of its own striving, to which it is not at all indifferent to what it is doing, and it will believe that it is absolutely free to continue moving for no other reason than its own will to continue. Yet this is the human freedom that everybody claims to possess, which only consists of the fact that people are conscious of their desires, but ignorant of the causes that determine them.

"Thus the child believes it freely desires milk; the angry boy believes he freely demands revenge; and the coward believes he freely chooses to run away. A drunk believes he says things of his own free will that, when sober again, he will wish he had not said; and since this bias is inborn in everybody, it is difficult to free oneself from it. Even though experience teaches us often enough that people can moderate their desires least of all, and that when moved by two opposing passions they see the better and pursue the worse; yet they still consider themselves free because they desire some things less intensely, and there are some desires that can be easily inhibited by becoming preoccupied with memories of something else.” (Letter of October or November, 1674)


[5] Because this view is so clearly and precisely expressed it is easy to uncover its fundamental error. Human beings are supposedly compelled to carry out an action when driven to it by any cause with the same necessity as a stone that carries out a specific movement after an impact. It is only because human beings are conscious of their action that they regard themselves as the free originator of it. But in so doing they overlook the causes driving them, which they must obey unconditionally. The error in this line of thought is soon discovered. Spinoza and all who think like him are overlooking the fact that human beings can be conscious, not only of their actions, but also of the causes that guide them.


Anyone can see that a child is not free when it desires milk and that a drunk is not free who says things he later regrets. Neither knows anything of the causes working deep within their organism that exercise an irresistible control over them. But is it right to lump such actions together with those of human beings who are conscious, not only of their actions, but also of the causes of their actions? Are the actions of human beings really all of one kind? Should the actions of a warrior on the battlefield, a research scientist in the laboratory or a diplomat involved in complex negotiations be placed in the same scientific category as those of a child who desires milk?


It is no doubt best to seek the solution of a problem where the conditions are simplest. But the inability to make distinctions has often caused endless confusion. There is certainly a profound difference between knowing and not knowing why I act. At first sight this seems to be an entirely obvious truth. Yet the opponents of freedom never ask themselves whether a motive of action that I recognize and understand compels me in the same sense as the organic process which causes the child to cry for milk.


1.4 Free From External Motivation
[6] Eduard von Hartmann asserts in his Phenomenology of Moral Consciousness that the human will depends on two main factors: motives and character. If we see people as all alike, or at least having negligible differences, then their will appears to be determined from outside by the circumstances they encounter.

But if we take into consideration that different people adopt an idea as a motive of action only if their character is such that a particular idea arouses a desire in them, then the human being appears to be determined from within and not from outside. But because an idea given to us from outside must first be adopted as a motive according to our character, we believe that we are free, that is, independent of external motivation. However, according to Eduard von Hartmann the truth is that,


“Even though we must first adopt an idea as a motive ourselves, we do not do this arbitrarily, but rather according to the necessity of our established character; which means we are anything but free.”


Here again, the difference is completely ignored between motives that I allow to influence me only after I have consciously made them my own, and motives that I follow without any clear knowledge of them.


1.5 Action Resulting From Conscious Motive
[7] This leads straight to the standpoint from which the subject will be considered here. Can the question of freedom be directed only in a one-sided way towards the will? And if not, what other question needs to be linked to it?

[8] If there is a difference between a conscious and an unconscious motive of action, then the conscious motive will result in an action that must be judged differently to one that springs from blind impulse. Our first question will consider this difference. The result of this inquiry will then determine the approach we need to take toward the question of freedom itself.


[9] What does it mean to have knowledge of the motives of one's actions? Too little attention has been given to this question, because unfortunately the indivisible whole that is the human being has always been torn in two. The doer has been separated from the knower, while the one who matters the most has been overlooked: the knowing doer who acts out of knowledge.


1.6 Free When Controlled By Reason
[10] It is said that human beings are free when they are controlled only by their reason and not by animal passions. In other words, freedom means being able to determine one’s life and actions according to purposeful aims and deliberate decisions.

[11] Nothing is gained by such assertions. For the question is whether reason, purpose and decisions exercise the same kind of control over a person as animal passions. If, without any effort on my part, a rational decision emerges in me with the same urgent need as hunger and thirst, then I must obey it and my freedom is an illusion.


1.7 Free To Do As One Wants
[12] Another claim is made that freedom does not mean being able to determine what one wants, but being able to do what one wants. This thought has been precisely outlined by poet and philosopher Robert Hamerling in his Atomistics of the Will:

“The human being can certainly do what he wants, but he cannot determine what he wants, because his will is determined by motives! He cannot determine what he wants? Let us look at these words more closely. Do they make any sense?


Is free will, then, being able to want something without reason, without a motive? But what does wanting mean other than having a reason for preferring to do or trying to do this rather than that? To want something without a reason, without a motive, would mean to want something without wanting it.


The concept of wanting is inseparable from the concept of motive. Without a motive to determine it, the will is an empty faculty; only through the motive does it become active and real. Therefore, it is entirely correct that the human will is not ‘free’ to the extent that its direction is always determined by the strongest motive. But, in contrast to this ‘unfreedom’, it is absurd to speak of a possible ‘freedom’ of the will that amounts to having the ability to want what one does not want.”


[13] Here too, only motives in general are mentioned without taking into account the difference between unconscious and conscious motives. If a motive affects me and I am compelled to act on it because it proves to be the ‘strongest’ of its kind, then the idea of freedom ceases to have any meaning. Why should it matter to me whether I can do something or not if I am forced by the motive to do it?


The primary question is not whether I can or cannot do something when compelled by a motive, but whether any motives exist other than those that control me with absolute necessity. If I must want something, then I may be completely indifferent as to whether I can also do it. If a motive that I think is unreasonable is forced upon me because of my character or the circumstances prevailing in my environment, then I will have to be glad if I cannot do what I want.


[14] The question is not whether I am able to carry out a decision once it is made,
but how I come to make the decision.

1.8 Unconditioned Will
[15] What distinguishes human beings from all other organic beings is rational thought. Simply to be active is something we have in common with other organisms. Nothing is gained by searching for analogies in the animal world to clarify a concept of freedom that applies to the actions of human beings. Modern natural science loves such analogies. When scientists have successfully identified something similar to human behavior among animals, they believe they have touched on the most important question of the science of humanity. This view leads to misunderstandings such as the example in Paul Rée’s book The Illusion of Free Will, which says the following about freedom:

“It is easy to explain why the movement of a stone appears to come about by necessity, while the will of a donkey does not. The causes that set a stone in motion are external and visible, while the causes that determine a donkey's will are internal and invisible. Between us and the place of their activity is the skull of the donkey... The conditional causality is not visible, so it is thought to be nonexistent. Then an explanation is given that the will, which is the cause of the donkey’s turning around, is itself unconditioned; it is an absolute beginning [(a first cause and not a link in a chain of events). But a presumption of this kind is contradicted by experience and the universal validity of the law of causality.]"


Here too human actions in which there is consciousness of the reasons are simply ignored, for Rée declares that “Between us and the place of their activity is the skull of the donkey.” These words show that Rée has no clue that there are actions -- not a donkey's actions, to be sure, but human actions -- where a motive that has become conscious lies between us and the action. Rée demonstrates his blindness again, a few pages later: with these words:


“We do not perceive the causes that determine our will, and so we believe it is not causally determined at all.”


[16] But enough of examples proving that many who dispute freedom know absolutely nothing of what freedom really is.


1.9 Reflect Upon The Reasons
[17] It is obvious that an action cannot be free if the doer carries it out without knowing why. But what about the freedom of an action in which one reflects upon the reasons? This leads us to the question of the origin and significance of thought. Once we know what thinking in general means, it will be easy to see clearly the role thinking plays in human action.

Hegel is right when he says that “it is thinking that turns the soul, common to us and animals, into spirit.” It is also thinking that gives human action its characteristic stamp.


1.10 Action Springs From The Heart
[18] This is not meant to imply that all our actions proceed only from calmly reasoned deliberation. Nor am I suggesting that only actions following abstract judgments are in the highest sense "human". But the moment our conduct reaches above the level of satisfying purely animal desires, our motives are always shaped by thoughts.

Love, compassion, and patriotism are driving forces for action that refuse to dissipate into unemotional conceptual reasoning. It is said that this is where heart-felt sensibility prevails. No doubt. But the heart and its sensibility do not create what it is that moves us to act. This is established prior to our response. Pity appears in my heart only after the thought image of a pitiful person appears in my consciousness. The way to the heart is through the head.


1.11 Expression Of Love
Love is no exception to this. If it is not merely the expression of bare sexual drive, then it depends on the thoughts we form of the loved one. The more idealistic these thoughts are, the more blissful is our love. Even here, thought is the father of feeling.

1.12 Seeing Good Qualities
It is said that love makes us blind to the flaws of the loved one. But we can turn this around and say that love opens our eyes to the good qualities of the loved one. Many pass by without noticing these good qualities. One person sees them and, just because of this, love awakens within. What has this person done other than make a mental image of something that hundreds of others have failed to see? Others do not love because they lack the mental image.

[19] From whatever point of view we consider the subject, it becomes ever clearer that an investigation into the origin of thought is required before inquiring into the nature of human action. So I will turn to this question now.

>>>>>>>>>>

Conscious Human Action
Chapter 1

1.0 The Question Of Freedom
[1] Is the human being free in thought and action, or inescapably compelled (1) by purely natural laws (2)(3)? Few questions have been the focus of so much ingenuity. The idea of freedom has found both enthusiastic supporters and stubborn opponents in abundance.

Some, in their moral emotionalism, label anyone narrow-minded who denies the obvious
fact of freedom. Others who oppose them consider it the height of unscientific thinking for anyone to believe that the uniformity of natural law is broken in the field of human action and thought. The same thing is proclaimed to be humanity's most precious possession as often as it is called its most harmful illusion.

Endless insignificant distinctions have been used to explain how human freedom can be compatible with determinism in nature, for after all, the human being is so clearly a part of nature. Just as much effort has been put into explaining how this delusion has come about. It must be obvious to anyone with any depth of character that we are dealing here with one of the most important questions of life, religion, conduct and science.


1.1 Freedom Of Indifferent Choice
A sad indication of the superficiality of contemporary thought can be found in a book that attempts to develop a ‘new faith’ from the results of recent research into nature, and which contains nothing on this question but these words:


“There is no need to go into the question of freedom of the human will. The supposed freedom of indifferent choice has been recognized as an empty illusion by every reputable philosophy. The determination of moral value in human conduct and character remains untouched by this question.”
(David Friedrich Strauss, Old and New Belief)

I do not quote this book because I consider it to be particularly significant, but
because I believe this passage expresses the only view that most contemporary thinkers are able to reach on this question. Everyone who claims to have advanced beyond elementary science seems to know that freedom cannot consist of neutrally choosing, entirely at will, one or the other of two possible courses of action. There always exists, so we are told, a very specific reason that explains why we carry out just one particular action from among several possibilities.

1.2 Freedom Of Choice
[2] This seems obvious. Yet the main attacks of today’s opponents of freedom are only directed against freedom of choice. Even Herbert Spencer, whose views gain ever wider acceptance, says:

“That everyone is at liberty to desire or not to desire, as they will, which is the real proposition involved in the dogma of free will, is refuted by the analysis of consciousness as much as by the contents of the preceding chapters.” (The Principles of Psychology, 1855)

1.3 Free Necessity Of One's Own Nature
Others who
refute the concept of free will start from the same point. The seeds of all such arguments can be found as early as Spinoza. What he brought forward against the idea of freedom so clearly and simply has since been repeated countless times, usually cloaked in such hair-splitting and theoretical doctrines that it is hard to recognize the simple course of thought, which is all that matters. Spinoza writes:

“I call a thing free that exists and acts out of the pure necessity of its nature; I call it compelled if its existence and activity are determined in an exact and fixed way by something else. For example, God is free, although with necessity, because He exists solely out of the necessity of His own nature. In the same way God knows Himself and everything else freely, because it follows solely out of the necessity of His nature that He knows everything. So you see that I locate freedom, not in a free decision, but in a free necessity.

[3] “But let us come down to created things, which are all determined by external causes to exist and to act in a fixed and exact way. To see this more clearly, let us imagine a very simple case. A stone, for example, receives a certain momentum from an external cause that makes contact with it so that, after the impact of the external cause has ceased, the stone necessarily continues to move. The continued motion of the stone is compelled by the external impact and not by any necessity within the stone’s own nature, because the continuing motion has to be defined by the thrust of an external cause.

"What is true here for the stone is true for everything else, no matter how complex and multifaceted it may be. Everything is determined with necessity by external causes to exist and to act in a fixed and exact way.


[4]
“Now please assume that the stone, while in motion, thinks and knows that it is striving to the best of its ability to continue in motion. This stone is conscious only of its own striving, to which it is not at all indifferent to what it is doing, and it will believe that it is absolutely free to continue moving for no other reason than its own will to continue. Yet this is the human freedom that everybody claims to possess, which only consists of the fact that people are conscious of their desires, but ignorant of the causes that determine them.

"Thus the child believes it freely desires milk; the angry boy believes he freely demands revenge; and the coward believes he freely chooses to run away. A drunk believes he says things of his own free will that, when sober again, he will wish he had not said; and since this bias is inborn in everybody, it is difficult to free oneself from it.

"Even though experience teaches us often enough that people can moderate their desires least of all, and that when moved by two opposing passions they see the better and pursue the worse; yet they still consider themselves free because they desire some things less intensely, and there are some desires that can be easily inhibited by becoming preoccupied with memories of something else.” (Letter of October or November, 1674)

[5] Because this view is so clearly and precisely expressed, it is easy to uncover its fundamental error. Human beings are supposedly compelled to carry out an action when driven to it by any cause with the same necessity as a stone that carries out a specific movement after an impact. It is only because human beings are conscious of their action that they regard themselves as the free originator of it. But in so doing they overlook the causes driving them, which they must obey unconditionally. The error in this line of thought is soon discovered. Spinoza and all who think like him
overlook the fact that human beings can be conscious, not only of their actions, but also of the causes that guide them.

Anyone can see that a child is
not free when it desires milk and that a drunk is not free who says things he later regrets. Neither knows anything of the causes working deep within their organism that exercise an irresistible control over them. But is it right to lump such actions together with those of human beings who are conscious, not only of their actions, but also of the causes of their actions? Are the actions of human beings really all of one kind? Should the actions of a warrior on the battlefield, a research scientist in the laboratory or a diplomat involved in complex negotiations be placed in the same scientific category as those of a child who desires milk?

It is no doubt best to seek the solution of a problem where the conditions are simplest. But the inability to see distinctions has often caused endless confusion. There is certainly a profound difference between knowing and not knowing why I act. At first sight this seems to be an entirely obvious truth. Yet the opponents of freedom never ask themselves whether a motive of action that I recognize and understand compels me in the same sense as the organic process which causes the child to cry for milk.


1.4 Free From External Influences
[6] Eduard von Hartmann asserts in his Phenomenology of Moral Consciousness that the human will depends on two main factors: motives and character. If we see people as all alike, or at least having negligible differences, then their will appears to be determined from outside by the circumstances
they encounter.

But if we take into consideration that different people adopt an idea as a motive of action only if their character is such that a particular idea arouses a desire in them, then the human being appears to be determined from
within and not from outside. But because an idea given to us from outside must first be adopted as a motive according to our character, we believe that we are free, that is, independent of external influences. However, according to Eduard von Hartmann the truth is that,

“Even though we must first adopt an idea as a motive ourselves, we do not do this arbitrarily, but rather according to the necessity of our inherent character traits; which means that we are anything but free.”

Here again, the difference is completely ignored between motives that I allow to influence me only after I have consciously made them my own, and motives that I follow without any clear knowledge of them.


1.5 Action Resulting From Conscious Motive
[7] This leads straight to the standpoint from which the subject will be considered here. Can the question of freedom be directed only in a one-sided way towards the will? And if not, what other question needs to be linked to it?

[8] If there is a difference between a conscious and an unconscious motive of action, then the conscious motive will result in an action that must be judged differently to one resulting from blind urge. Our first question will consider this difference. The result of this inquiry will then determine
the approach we need to take toward the question of freedom itself.

[9] What does it mean to have
knowledge of the motives of one's actions? Too little attention has been given to this question, because unfortunately the indivisible whole that is the human being has always been torn in two. The doer has been separated from the knower, while the one who matters the most has been overlooked: the knowing doer who acts out of knowledge.

1.6 Free When Controlled By Reason
[10] It is said that human beings are free when they are controlled only by their reason and not by animal passions. In other words, freedom means being able to determine one’s life and actions according to purposeful aims and deliberate decisions.

[11] Nothing is gained by such assertions. For the question is whether reason, purpose and decisions exercise the same kind of control over a person as animal passions. If, without any effort on my part, a rational decision
emerges in me with the same urgent need as hunger and thirst, then I must obey it and my freedom is an illusion.

1.7 Free To Do As One Wants
[12] Another claim is made that freedom does not mean being able to determine what one wants, but being able to do what one wants. This thought has been sharply outlined by poet and philosopher Robert Hamerling in his Atomistics of the Will:

“The human being can certainly do what he wants, but he cannot determine what he wants, because his will is determined by motives! He cannot determine what he wants? Let us look at these words more closely. Do they make any sense?

Is free will, then, being able to want something without reason, without a motive? But what does wanting mean other than having a reason for doing or trying to do this rather than that? To want something without a reason, without a motive, would be to want something without wanting it.

The concept of wanting is inseparable from the concept of motive. Without a motive to determine it, the will is an empty ability; only through the motive does it become active and real. Therefore, it is entirely correct that the human will is not ‘free’ to the extent that its direction is always determined by the strongest motive. But, in contrast to this ‘unfreedom’, it is absurd to speak of a possible ‘freedom’ of the will that amounts to having the ability to want what one does not want.”

[13] Here too, only motives in general are
mentioned without considering the difference between unconscious and conscious motives. If a motive affects me and I am compelled to act on it because it proves to be the ‘strongest’ of its kind, then the idea of freedom ceases to have any meaning. Why should it matter to me whether I can do something or not if I am forced by the motive to do it?

The primary question is not whether I can or cannot do something when compelled by a motive, but whether any motives exist other than those that control me with absolute necessity. If I
must want something, then I may be completely indifferent as to whether I can also do it. If a motive that I think is unreasonable is forced upon me because of my character or the circumstances prevailing in my environment, then I will have to be glad if I cannot do what I want.

[14] The question is not whether I am able to carry out a decision once it is made,
but how I come to make the decision.

1.8 Unconditioned Will
[15]
Rational thinking fundamentally distinguishes human beings from all other organic beings. Simply to be active is something we have in common with other organisms. Nothing is gained by searching for analogies in the animal world to clarify a concept of freedom that applies to the actions of human beings. Modern natural science loves such analogies. When scientists have successfully identified something similar to human behavior among animals, they believe they have touched on the most important question of the science of humanity. This attitude leads to misunderstandings such as the example in Paul Rée’s book The Illusion of Free Will, which says the following about freedom:

“It is easy to explain why the movement of a stone appears to come about by necessity, while the will of a donkey does not. The causes that set a stone in motion are external and visible, while the causes that determine a donkey's will are internal and invisible. Between us and the place of their activity is the skull of the donkey... The conditional causality is not seen, so it is thought to be nonexistent. Then an explanation is given that the will, which is the cause of the donkey’s turning around, is itself unconditioned; it is an absolute beginning (a first cause and not a link in a chain of events). ["But a presumption of this kind is contradicted by experience and the universal validity of the law of causality… Let us now leave the realm of animals and proceed to consider the human being. Everything is the same here.”]

Here too human actions in which there is consciousness of the reasons are simply ignored, for Rée declares that
“Between us and the place of their activity is the skull of the donkey.” These words show that Rée has no clue that there are actions -- not a donkey's actions, to be sure, but human actions -- where a motive that has become conscious lies between us and the action. Rée demonstrates his blindness again, a few pages later:  with these words:

“We do not perceive the causes that determine our will, and so we believe it is not causally determined at all.”

[16]
These examples are altogether enough to prove that many of those who dispute freedom know absolutely nothing of what freedom really is.

1.9 Knowledge Of The Reasons
[17]
It is obvious that an action cannot be free if the doer carries it out without knowing why. But what about the freedom of an action in which we reflect upon the reasons? This leads us to the question of the origin of our thoughts and the significance of thinking. Once we know what thinking in general means, it will be easy to see clearly the role thought plays in human action.

Hegel is right when he says that “it is thinking that turns the soul, common to us and animals, into spirit.” It is also thinking that gives human action its characteristic stamp.

1.10 Action Springs From The Heart
[18]
This is not meant to imply that all our actions proceed only from calmly reasoned deliberation. Nor am I suggesting that only actions following abstract judgments are in the highest sense "human". But the moment our conduct reaches above the level of satisfying purely animal desires, our motives are always shaped by thoughts.

Love, compassion, and patriotism are driving forces for action that refuse to dissipate into unemotional conceptual reasoning. It is said that this is where heart-felt sensibility prevails. No doubt. But the heart and its sensibility do not create what it is that moves us to act. This is established prior to our response. Pity appears in my heart only after the thought image of a pitiful person appears in my consciousness. The way to the heart is through the head.


1.11 Expression Of Love
Love is no exception to this. If it is not merely the expression of
bare sexual drive, then it depends on the thoughts we form of the loved one. The more idealistic these thoughts are, the more blissful is our love. Even here, thought is the father of feeling.

1.12 Seeing Good Qualities
It is said that love makes us blind to the flaws of the loved one. But we can turn this around and say that love opens our eyes to the good qualities of the loved one. Many pass by without noticing these good qualities. One person sees them and, just because of this, love awakens within. What has this person done other than make a mental image of something that hundreds of others have failed to see? Others do not love because they lack the mental image.

[19]
From whatever point of view we consider the subject, it becomes ever clearer that an investigation into the origin of thought is required before inquiring into the nature of human action. So I will turn to this question now.