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Of all of his works, The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity is the one that Steiner himself believed would have the longest life and the greatest spiritual and cultural consequences. It was written as a phenomenological account of the results of observing the human soul according to the methods of natural science. This seminal work asserts that free spiritual activity - understood as the human ability to think and act independently of physical nature - is the suitable path for human beings today to gain true knowledge of themselves and of the universe.
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The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity
First digital edition 2017 by Anna Ruggieri
THE CONSCIOUS HUMAN DEED
THE FUNDAMENTAL URGE FOR KNOWLEDGE
THINKING IN THE SERVICE OF UNDERSTANDING THE WORLD
THE WORLD AS PERCEPTION
THE ACT OF KNOWING THE WORLD
THE HUMAN INDIVIDUALITY
ARE THERE LIMITS TO KNOWLEDGE?
THE FACTORS OF LIFE
THE IDEA OF FREEDOM
PHILOSOPHY OF FREEDOM (SPIRITUAL ACTIVITY) AND MONISM
WORLD PURPOSE AND LIFE PURPOSE (THE DESTINATION OF MAN)
MORAL IMAGINATION (DARWINISM AND MORALITY)
THE VALUE OF LIFE(PESSIMISM AND OPTIMISM)
INDIVIDUALITY AND SPECIES
THE CONSEQUENCES OF MONISM
Is man in his thinking and acting a spiritually free being, or is he compelled by the iron necessity of natural law? Few questions have been debated more than this one. The concept of the freedom of the human will has foundenthusiastic supporters and stubborn opponents in plenty. There are those who, in moral fervor, declare it to be sheer stupidity to deny so evident a fact as freedom. Opposed to them are others who regard as utterly naive the belief that the uniformity ofnatural law is interrupted in the sphere of human action and thinking. One and the same thing is here declared as often to be the most precious possession of humanity, as it is said to be its most fatal illusion. Infinite subtlety has been devoted to explaining how human freedom is compatible with the working of nature, to which, after all, man belongs. No less pains have been taken to make comprehensible how a delusion like this could have arisen. That here we are dealing with one of the most important questions of life, religion, conduct and science, is felt by everyone whose character is not totally devoid of depth. And indeed, it belongs to the sad signs of the superficiality of present day thinking that a book which attempts to develop a “new faith”1 out of the results of the latest scientific discoveries, contains, on this question, nothing but the words:
“There is no need here to go into the question of the freedom of the human will. The supposed indifferent freedom of choice has always been recognized as an empty illusion by every philosophy worthy of the name. The moral valuation of human conduct and character remains untouched by this question.”
I do not quote this passage because I consider that the book in which it appears has any special importance, but because it seems to me to express the only view which most of our thinking contemporaries are able to reach, concerning this question. Everyone who claims to have advanced beyond an elementary education seems nowadays to know that freedom cannot consist in choosing at one’s pleasure, one or the other of two possible courses of action; it is maintained that there is always a quite definite reason why, out of several possible actions, we carry out a particular one.
This seems obvious. Nevertheless, upto now, the main attacks by those who oppose freedom are directed only against the freedom of choice. Herbert Spencer, who has views which are rapidly gaining ground, says:
“That everyone is able to desire or not to desire, as he pleases, which is the essential principle in the dogma of free will, is negated by the analysis of consciousness, as well as by the contents of the preceding chapter.”2
Others, too, start from the same point of view in combating the concept of free will. The germs of all that is relevant in these arguments are to be found as early as Spinoza.3 All that he brought forward in clear and simple language against the idea of freedom has since been repeated times without number, but usually veiled in the most complicatedtheoretical doctrines so that it is difficult to recognize the straightforward train of thought on which all depends. Spinoza writes in a letter of October or November, 1674:
“I call something free which exists and acts from the pure necessity of its nature, and I call that compelled, the existence and action of which are exactly and fixedly determined by something else. The existence of God, for example, though necessary, is free because He exists only through the necessity of His nature. Similarly, God knows Himself and all else in freedom, because it follows solely from the necessity of His nature that He knows all. You see, therefore, that I regard freedom as consisting, not in free decision, but in free necessity.
“But let us come down to created things which are all determined by external causes to exist and to act in a fixed and definite manner. To recognize this more clearly, let us imagine a perfectly simple case. A stone, for example, receives from an external cause acting upon it a certain quantity of motion, by which it necessarily continues to move after the impact of the external cause has ceased. The continued motion of the stone is a compelled one, not a necessary one, because it has to be defined by the thrust of the external cause. What is true here for the stone is true also for every other particular thing, however complicated and many-sided it may be, namely, that each thing is necessarily determined by external causes to exist and to act in a fixed and definite manner.
“Now, please, suppose that during itsmotion the stone thinks and knows that it is striving to the best of its ability to continue in motion. This stone which is conscious only of its striving and is by no means indifferent, will believe that it is absolutely free, and that it continues in motion for no other reason than its own will to continue. But this is that human freedom which everybody claims to possess and which consists in nothing but this, that men are conscious of their desires, but do not Know the causes by which they are determined. Thus the child believes that he is free when he desires milk, the angry boy that he is free in his desire for vengeance, and the timid in his desire for flight. Again, the drunken man believes that he says of his own free decision what, sober again, hewould fain have left unsaid, and as this prejudice is innate in all men, it is not easy to free oneself from it. For although experience teaches us often enough that man, least of all, can temper his desires and that, moved by conflicting passions, he seesthe better and pursues the worse, yet he considers himself free, simply because there are some things which he desires less strongly and many desires which can easily be inhibited through the recollection of something else which is often remembered.”
Because here we are dealing with a clear and definitely expressed view, it is also easy to discover the fundamental error in it. As necessarily as a stone continues a definite movement after being put in motion, just as necessarily is a man supposed to carry out an action when urged thereto by any reason. It is only because man is conscious of his action, that he regards himself as its free originator. But, in doing so, he overlooks the fact that he is driven to it by a cause which he has to obey unconditionally. The error in this train of thought is soon found. Spinoza, and all who think like him, overlook the fact that man not only is conscious of his action, but may also become conscious of the causes which guide him. No one will deny that when the child desires milk, he is unfree, as isalso the drunken man when he says things he later regrets. Neither knows anything of the causes working in the depths of their organisms, which exercise irresistible power over them. But is it justifiable to lump together actions of this kind with those in which a man is conscious, not only of his actions but also of the reasons which cause him to act? Are the actions of men really all of one kind? Should the deed of a soldier on the field of battle, of the research scientist in his laboratory, of the statesman in complicated diplomatic negotiations, be placed, scientifically, on the same level with that of the child when he desires milk? It is indeed true that it is best to attempt the solution of a problem where the conditionsare simplest. But inability to differentiate has caused endless confusion before now. There is, after all, a profound difference between whether I know why I do something, or whether I do not. At first sight this seems a self-evident truth. And yet thosewho oppose freedom never ask whether a motive which I recognize and see through, compels me in the same sense as does the organic process in the child that causes him to cry for milk.
Eduard von Hartmann4 maintains that the human will depends on two main factors: the motive and the character. If one regards all men as alike, or at any rate the differences between them as negligible, then their will appears as determined from without, namely by the circumstances which come to meet them. But if one takes intoconsideration that men let a representation become a motive for their deeds only if their character is such that the particular representation arouses a desire in them, then man appears as determined from within and not from without. Now, because a representation pressing in on him from without must first, in accordance with his character, be adopted as a motive, man believes himself to be free, that is, independent of external motives. The truth, however, according to Eduard von Hartmann, is that
“even though we ourselves first turn a representation into a motive, we do so not arbitrarily, but according to the necessity of our characterological disposition, that is, we are anything but free.”
Here again, the difference between motives which I allow to influence me only after I have permeated them with my consciousness, and those which I follow without having any clear knowledge of them, is disregarded.
And this leads directly to the standpoint from which the facts will be considered here. Is it at all permissible to consider by itself the question of the freedom of our will? And if not: With what other question must it necessarily be connected?
If there is a difference between a conscious motive of my action and an unconscious impulse, then the conscious motive will result in an action which must be judged differently from one that springs from blind urge. The first question must, therefore, concern this difference, and upon the answer will depend how we are to deal with the question of freedom as such.
Whatdoes it mean to know the reason for one’s action? This question has been too little considered because, unfortunately, the tendency has always been to tear into two partswhat is an inseparable whole: Man. We distinguish the knower from the doer, and the one who really matters is lost sight of: the man who acts because he knows.
It is said: Man is free when his reason has the upper hand, not his animal cravings. Or else: Freedom means to be able to determine one’s life and action in accordance with purposesand decisions.
Nothing is achieved by assertions of this kind. For the question is just whether reason, purposes and decisions exercise compulsion over a man in the same way as do his animal cravings. If, without my doing, a reasonable decision emerges inme with just the same necessity as hunger and thirst, then I must needs obey it, and my freedom is an illusion.
Another phrase is: To be free means not that one is able to will what one wants, but that one is able to do what one wants. This thought has been expressed with great clearness by the poet-philosopher, Robert Hamerling.5
“Man can, indeed, do what he wants, but he cannot will what he wants, because his will is determined by motives! He cannot will what he wants? Let us consider these words more closely. Have they any sense? Should freedom of will consist in being able to will something without reason, without a motive? But what does it mean to will something, other than to have a reason to do or to strive for this rather than that? To will something without a reason, without a motive, would mean to will something without willing it. The concept of will is inseparable from that of motive. Without a motive to determine it, the will is an empty ability; only through the motive does it become active andreal. It is, therefore, quite correct that the human will is not ‘free,’ inasmuch as its direction is always determined by that motive which is the strongest. But, on the other hand, it must be admitted that in contrast with this ‘unfreedom’ it is absurdto speak of a thinkable ‘freedom’ of the will, which would end up in being able to will what one does not will.”
Here again, only motives in general are discussed, without regard for 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 thought of freedom ceases to have any meaning. Should it matter to me whether I can do a thing or not, if I am forced by the motive to do it? The immediate question is not whether I can or cannot do a thing when a motive has influenced me, but whether only such motives exist as affect me with compelling necessity. If I have to will something, then I may well be absolutely indifferent as to whether I can also do it. And if, through my character, or through circumstances prevailing in my environment, a motive is pressed upon me which to my thinking is unreasonable, then I should even have to be glad if I could not do what I will.
The question is not whether Ican carry out a decision once made, but how the decision arises within me.
What distinguishes man from all other organic beings is his rational thinking. Actions he has in common with other organisms. Nothing is gained by seeking analogies in theanimal world to clarify the concept of freedom of action of human beings. Modern natural science loves such analogies. When scientists have succeeded in finding among animals something similar to human behavior, they believe they have touched upon the most important question of the science of man. To what misunderstandings this view leads is seen, for example, in a book by P. Rée,6 where the following remark on freedom appears:
“It is easy to explain why the movement of a stone seems to us necessary, while the will-impulse of a donkey does not. The causes which set the stone in motion are external and visible, while the causes which induce in the donkey impulses of will are internal and invisible, that is, between us and the place where they are active there is the skull of the donkey.... The dependence on a cause is not seen and the conclusion, therefore, is drawn that no dependence is present. It is explained that the will is, indeed, the cause of the donkey’s turning round, but that it is itself unconditioned; it is an absolute beginning.”
Here again, human actions in which man is conscious of the reasons why he acts, are simply ignored, for Rée declares:
“Between us and the place where the causes are active there is the skull of the donkey.”
From these words can beseen that Ree had no notion that there are actions, not indeed of the donkey, but of human beings, in which between us and the deed lies the motive that has become conscious. That Ree does not see this he shows again later, when he says:
“We do not perceive the causes by which our will is determined, hence we believe that our will is not causally determined at all.”
But enough of examples which show that many oppose freedom without knowing in the least what freedom is.
That an action cannot be free, of which the doer does not know why he carries it out, is obvious. But what about an action for which we know the reason! This leads us to the question: What is the origin and significance of thinking? For without knowledge of the thinking activity of the soul,it is impossible to form a concept of what it means to know something, and therefore also of what it means to know the reason for an action. When we recognize what thinking in general means, then it will also be easy to become clear about the role that thinking plays in human action. As Hegel7 rightly says,
“It is thinking that turns the soul, with which the animals are also endowed, into spirit.”
And this is why thinking gives to human action its characteristic stamp.
It is not maintained that all our action springs only from the sober deliberations of our reason. Far be it from me to consider human in the highest sense only those actions which result from abstract judgments. But as soon as our conduct rises above the sphere of the satisfaction of purely animal desires, our motives are always permeated by thoughts.Love, pity and patriotism are motivating forces for deeds which cannot be analyzed away into cold concepts of the intellect. It is said that here the heart and the mood of soul hold sway. No doubt. But the heart and the mood of the soul do not create the motives. They presuppose them and let them enter. Pity enters my heart when the representation of a person who arouses pity appears in my consciousness. The way to the heart is through the head. Love is no exception. Whenever it is not merely the expression of bare sexual instinct, it depends on the representation we form of the loved one. And the more idealistic these representations are, just so much the more blessed is our love. Here too, thoughtis the father of feeling. It is said: Love makes us blind to the failings of the loved one. But this also holds good the other way round, and it can be said: Love opens the eyes just for the good qualities of the loved one. Many pass by these good qualities without noticing them. One, however, sees them, and just because he does, love awakens in his soul. He has done nothing other than form a representation of something, of which hundreds have none. They have no love because they lack the representation.
From whatever point we regard the subject, it becomes ever clearer that the question of the nature of human action presupposes that of the origin of thinking. I shall, therefore, turn to this question next.
Two souls alas are dwelling in my breast;
And each is fain to leave its brother.
The one, fast clinging, to the world adheres
With clutching organs, in love’s sturdy lust;
The other strongly lifts itself from dust
To yonder high, ancestral spheres.
Faust I, Sc. 2
In these words Goethe expresses a characteristic featurebelonging to the deepest foundation of human nature. Man is not auniformly organized being. He always demands more than the worldgives him of its own accord. Nature has endowed us with needs;among them are some that are left to our own initiative to satisfy.Abundant are the gifts bestowed upon us, but still more abundantare our desires. We seem born to be dissatisfied. Our thirst forknowledge is but a special instance of this dissatisfaction. If welook twice at a tree and the first time see its branchesmotionless, the second time in movement, we do not remain satisfiedwith this observation. Why does the tree appear to us nowmotionless, now in movement? Thus we ask. Every glance at natureevokes in us a number of questions. Every phenomenon we meet setsus a problem. Every experience contains a riddle. We see emergingfrom the egg a creature like the mother animal; we ask the reasonfor this likeness. We notice that living beings grow and develop toa certain degree of perfection and we investigate the conditionsfor this experience. Nowhere are we satisfied with what naturespreads before our senses. Everywhere we seek what we callexplanation of the facts.
The something more which we seek in things, over and above whatis given us directly in them, divides our whole being into twoaspects; we become conscious of our contrast to the world. Weconfront the world as independent beings. The universe appears tous to have two opposite poles: I and world.
We erect this barrier between ourselves and the world as soon asconsciousness first dawns in us. But we never cease to feel that,in spite of all, we belong to the world, that there is a bond ofunion between it and us, that we are not beings outside, butwithin, the universe.
This feeling makes us strive to bridge over the contrast. And inthis bridging the whole spiritual striving of mankind ultimatelyconsists. The history of man’s spiritual life is an incessantsearch for unity between us and the world. Religion, art andscience all have this same aim. In the revelation God grants him,the religious believer seeks the solution of the problems in theworld which his I, dissatisfied with the world of mere phenomena,sets him. The artist seeks to imprint into matter the ideas of hisI, in order to reconcile with the world outside what lives withinhim. He, too, feels dissatisfied with the world as it appears tohim, and seeks to embody into the world of mere phenomena thatsomething more which his I, reaching out beyond it, contains. Thethinker seeks the laws of phenomena, and strives to penetrate withthinking what he experiences by observing. Only when we have madethe world-content into our thought-content do we again find theunityfrom which we separated ourselves. We shall see later thatthis goal will be reached only when the task of the scientificinvestigator is understood at a much deeper level than is usuallythe case. The whole situation I have described here, presentsitself to us on the stage of history in the contrast between aunified view of the world or monism,9 and the theory of two worldsor dualism.10 Dualism pays attention only to the separation betweenI and world, brought about by man’s consciousness. All itsefforts consist in a vain struggle to reconcile these opposites,which it calls spirit and matter, subject and object, or thinkingand phenomena. The dualist feels that there must be a bridgebetween the two worlds, but he is unable to find it. In as far asman is aware of himself as “I,” he cannot but think ofthis “I” as belonging to spirit; and in contrastingthis “I” with the world he cannot do otherwise thanreckon the perceptions given to the senses, the realm of matter, asbelonging to the world. In doing so, man places himself within thecontrast of spirit and matter. He must do so all the more becausehis own body belongs to the material world. Thus the“I” belongs to the realm of spirit, as part of it; thematerial things and events which are perceivedby the senses belongto the “world.” All the problems connected with spiritand matter, man finds again in the fundamental riddle of his ownnature. Monism pays attention only to the unity and tries either todeny or to efface the contrasts, which are there nevertheless.Neither of these two views is satisfactory, for they do not dojustice to the facts. Dualism sees spirit (I) and matter (world) astwo fundamentally different entities and cannot, therefore,understand how they can interact upon each other. How should spiritknow what goes on in matter, if the essential nature of matter isquite alien to spirit? And how, in these circumstances, shouldspirit be able to act upon matter, in order to transform itsintentions into actions? The most clever and the most absurdhypotheses have been put forward to solve these problems. But, sofar, monism has fared no better. Up to now it has tried to justifyitselfin three different ways. Either it denies spirit and becomesmaterialism; or it denies matter and seeks its salvation inspiritualism11; or it maintains that since even in the simplestentities in the world spirit and matter are indivisibly boundtogether, there is no need for surprise if these two kinds ofexistence are both present in the human being, for they are neverfound apart.
Materialism12 can never arrive at a satisfactory explanation ofthe world. For every attempt at an explanation must of necessitybegin with man’s forming thoughts about the phenomena of theworld. Materialism, therefore, takes its start from thoughts aboutmatter or material processes. In doing so, it straightway confrontstwo different kinds of facts, namely, the material world and thethoughts about it. The materialist tries to understand thoughts byregarding them as a purely material process. He believes thatthinking takes place in the brain much in the same way thatdigestion takes place in the animal organs. Just as he ascribes tomatter mechanical and organic effects, so he also attributes tomatter, in certain circumstances, the ability to think. He forgetsthat in doing this he has merely shifted the problem to anotherplace. Instead of to himself, he ascribes to matter the ability tothink. And thus he is back again at his starting-point. How doesmatter come to reflect about its own nature! Why is it not simplysatisfied with itself and with its existence? The materialist hasturned his attention away from the definite subject, from our ownI, and has arrived at a vague, indefinite image. And here again,the same problem comes to meet him. The materialistic view isunable to solve the problem; it only transfers it to anotherplace.
How does the matter stand with the spiritualistic view? Theextreme spiritualist denies to matter its independent existence andregards itmerely as product of spirit. But when he tries to applythis view of the world to the solution of the riddle of his ownhuman nature, he finds himself in a corner. Confronting the I,which can be placed on the side of spirit, there stands, withoutany mediation, the physical world. No spiritual approach to itseems possible; it has to be perceived and experienced by the I bymeans of material processes. Such material processes the“I” does not find in itself if it regards its ownnature as having only spiritual validity. The physical world isnever found in what it works out spiritually. It seems as if the“I” would have to admit that the world would remainclosed to it if it did not establish a non-spiritual relation tothe world. Similarly, when we come tobe active, we have totranslate our intentions into realities with the help of materialsubstances and forces. In other words, we are dependent upon theouter world. The most extreme spiritualist - or rather, the thinkerwho, through absolute idealism, appears as an extreme spiritualist- is Johann Gottlieb Fichte.13 He attempts to derive the wholeedifice of the world from the “I.” What he has actuallyaccomplished is a magnificent thought-picture of the world, withoutany content of experience. As littleas it is possible for thematerialist to argue the spirit away, just as little is it possiblefor the idealist to argue away the outer world of matter.
The first thing man perceives when he seeks to gain knowledge ofhis “I” is the activity of this “I” intheconceptual elaboration of the world of ideas. This is the reasonwhy someone who follows a world-view which inclines towardspiritualism may feel tempted, when looking at his own humannature, to acknowledge nothing of spirit except his ownworld ofideas. In this way spiritualism becomes one-sided idealism. He doesnot reach the point of seeking through the world of ideas aspiritual world; in the world of his ideas he sees the spiritualworld itself. As a result of this, he is driven to remain with hisworld-view as if chained within the activity of his“I.”
The view of Friedrich Albert Lange14 is a curious variety ofidealism, put forward by him in his widely read History ofMaterialism. He suggests that the materialists are quite right indeclaringall phenomena, including our thinking, to be the productof purely material processes, only, in turn, matter and itsprocesses are themselves the product of our thinking.
“The senses give us the effects of things, not truecopies, much less the things themselves. To these mere effectsbelong the senses themselves, as well as the brain and themolecular vibrations which are thought to go on there.”
That is, our thinking is produced by the material processes, andthese by the thinking of the “I.” Lange’sphilosophy, in other words, is nothing but the story - applied toconcepts - of the ingenious Baron Miinnchhausen,15 who holdshimself up in the air by his own pigtail.
The third form of monism is the one which sees the two entities,matter and spirit, alreadyunited in the simplest being (the atom).But nothing is gained by this, either, for here again the question,which really originates in our consciousness, is transferred toanother place. How does the simple being come to manifest itself intwo differentways, if it is an indivisible unity?
To all these viewpoints it must be objected that it is first andforemost in our own consciousness that we meet the basic andoriginal contrast. It is we who detach ourselves from the bosom ofnature and contrast ourselves as “I” with the“world.” Goethe’” has given classicexpression to this in his essay On Nature, although at first glancehis manner may be considered quite unscientific: “We live inthe midst of her (nature) yet are we strangers to her. Ceaselesslyshespeaks to us, and yet betrays not her secrets.” But Goetheknew the other side too: “All human beings are in her and sheis in all human beings.”
Just as true as it is that we have estranged ourselves fromnature, so is it also true that we feel: We are within nature andwe belong to it. That which lives in us can only be nature’sown influence.
We must find the way back to nature again. A simpleconsideration can show us this way. We have, it is true, detachedourselves from nature, but we must have takensomething of it overwith us, into our own being. This essence of nature in us we mustseek out, and then we shall also find the connection with it onceagain. Dualism neglects this. It considers the inner being of manas a spiritual entity quite alien tonature, and seeks somehow tohitch it onto nature. No wonder it cannot find the connecting link.We can only understand nature outside us when we have first learnedto recognize it within us.What within us is akin to nature must beour guide. This pointsout our path. We shall not speculate aboutthe interaction of nature and spirit. But we shall penetrate thedepths of our own being, there to find those elements which we tookwith us in our flight from nature.
Investigation of our own being must bring thesolution of theriddle. We must reach a point where we can say to ourselves: Here Iam no longer merely “I,” here I encounter somethingwhich is more than “I.”
I am aware that many who have read thus far will not have foundmy discussion “scientific” in the usual sense. To thisI can only reply that so far I have not been concerned withscientific results of any kind, but with the simple description ofwhat everyone experiences in his own consciousness. A fewexpressions concerning the attempts to reconcile man’sconsciousness and the world have been used only for the purpose ofclarifying the actual facts. I have, therefore, made no attempt touse the expressions “I,” “spirit,”“world,” “nature,” in the precise way thatis usual in psychology and philosophy. Ordinary consciousness isunaware of the sharp distinctions made by the sciences, and up tothis point it has only been a matter of describing the facts ofeveryday conditions. I am concerned, not with how science, so far,has interpreted consciousness,but with how we experience it indaily life.
When I see how a billiard ball, when struck, communicates itsmotion to another ball, I remain entirely without influence on thecourse of this event which Iobserve. The direction and velocity ofthe second ball is determined by the direction and velocity of thefirst. As long as I do no more than observe, I cannot say anythingabout the motion of the second ball until it actually moves. Thesituation alters if I begin to reflect on the content of myobservation. The purpose of my reflection is to form concepts ofthe event. I bring the concept of an elastic ball into connectionwith certain other concepts of mechanics, and take intoconsideration the special circumstances prevailing in thisparticular instance. In other words, to the action taking placewithout my doing, I try to add a second action which unfolds in theconceptual sphere. The latter is dependent on me. This is shown bythe fact that I could rest content with the observation and forgoall search for concepts if I had no need of them. If, however, thisneed is present, then I am not satisfied until I have brought theconcepts ball, elasticity, motion, impact, velocity, etc., into acertain connection, to which the observed process is related in adefinite way. As certain as it is that the event takes placeindependently of me, so certain is it also that the conceptualprocess cannot take place without my doing it.
We shall consider later whether this activity of mine is reallya product of my own independent being or whether the modernphysiologists are right who say that we cannot think as we will,but that we must think exactly as the thoughts andthought-connections present in our consciousness determine.17 Forthe time being we wish merely to establish the fact that weconstantly feel compelled to seek for concepts and connections ofconcepts standing in a certain relation to objects and events givenindependently of us.Whether this activity isreally ours, or whetherwe accomplish it according to an unalterable necessity, we shallleave aside for the moment. That at first sight it appears to beour activity is beyond doubt. We know with absolute certainty thatwe are not given the concepts together with the objects. That Imyself am the doer may be illusion, but to immediate observationthis certainly appears to be the case. The question here is: Whatdo we gain by finding a conceptual counterpart to an event?
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