Man is to man the supreme being, says Feuerbach.
Man has just been discovered, says Bruno Bauer.
Then let us take a more careful look at this supreme being and this new discovery.
From the moment when he catches sight of the light of the world a man seeks to find out himself and get hold of himself out of its confusion, in which he, with everything else, is tossed about in motley mixture.
But everything that comes in contact with the child defends itself in turn against his attacks, and asserts its own persistence.
Accordingly, because each thing cares for itself at the same time comes into constant collision with other things, the combat of self-assertion is unavoidable.
Victory or defeat — between the two alternatives the fate of the combat wavers. The victor becomes the lord, the vanquished one the subject: the former exercises supremacy and “rights of supremacy,” the latter fulfills in awe and deference the “duties of a subject.
But both remain enemies, and always lie in wait: they watch for each other’s weaknesses — children for those of their parents and parents for those of their children (e.g., their fear); either the stick conquers the man, or the man conquers the stick.
In childhood liberation takes the direction of trying to get to the bottom of things, to get at what is “back of” things; therefore we spy out the weak points of everybody, for which, it is well known, children have a sure instinct; therefore we like to smash things, like to rummage through hidden corners, pry after what is covered up or out of the way, and try what we can do with everything. When we once get at what is back of the things, we know we are safe; when, e.g., we have got at the fact that the rod is too weak against our obduracy, then we no longer fear it, “have out-grown it.”
Back of the rod, mightier than it, stands our — obduracy, our obdurate courage. By degrees we get at what is back of everything that was mysterious and uncanny to us, the mysteriously-dreaded might of the rod, the father’s stern look, etc., and back of all we find our ataraxia, i. e. imperturbability, intrepidity, our counter force, our odds of strength, our invincibility. Before that which formerly inspired in us fear and deference we no longer retreat shyly, but take courage. Back of everything we find our courage, our superiority; back of the sharp command of parents and authorities stands, after all, our courageous choice or our outwitting shrewdness. And the more we feel ourselves, the smaller appears that which before seemed invincible. And what is our trickery, shrewdness, courage, obduracy? What else but — mind!1
Through a considerable time we are spared a fight that is so exhausting later — the fight against reason. The fairest part of childhood passes without the necessity of coming to blows with reason. We care nothing at all about it, do not meddle with it, admit no reason. We are not to be persuaded to anything by conviction, and are deaf to good arguments, principles, etc.; on the other hand, coaxing, punishment, etc. are hard for us to resist.
This stern life-and-death combat with reason enters later, and begins a new phase; in childhood we scamper about without racking our brains much.
Mind is the name of the first self-discovery, the first self-discovery, the first undeification of the divine; i. e., of the uncanny, the spooks, the “powers above.” Our fresh feeling of youth, this feeling of self, now defers to nothing; the world is discredited, for we are above it, we are mind.
Now for the first time we see that hitherto we have not looked at the world intelligently at all, but only stared at it.
We exercise the beginnings of our strength on natural powers. We defer to parents as a natural power; later we say: Father and mother are to be forsaken, all natural power to be counted as riven. They are vanquished. For the rational, i.e. the “intellectual” man, there is no family as a natural power; a renunciation of parents, brothers, etc., makes its appearance. If these are “born again” as intellectual, rational powers, they are no longer at all what they were before.
And not only parents, but men in general, are conquered by the young man; they are no hindrance to him, and are no longer regarded; for now he says: One must obey God rather than men.
From this high standpoint everything “earthly” recedes into contemptible remoteness; for the standpoint is — the heavenly.
The attitude is now altogether reversed; the youth takes up an intellectual position, while the boy, who did not yet feel himself as mind, grew up on mindless learning. The former does not try to get hold of things (e.g. to get into his head the data of history), but of the thoughts that lie hidden in things, and so, e.g., of the spirit of history. On the other hand, the boy understands connections no doubt, but not ideas, the spirit; therefore he strings together whatever can be learned, without proceeding a priori and theoretically, i.e. without looking for ideas.
As in childhood one had to overcome the resistance of the laws of the world, so now in everything that he proposes he is met by an objection of the mind, of reason, of his own conscience. “That is unreasonable, unchristian, unpatriotic,” etc., cries conscience to us, and — frightens us away from it. Not the might of the avenging Eumenides, not Poseidon’s wrath, not God, far as he sees the hidden, not the father’s rod of punishment, do we fear, but — conscience.
We “run after our thoughts” now, and follow their commands just as before we followed parental, human ones. Our course of action is determined by our thoughts (ideas, conceptions, faith) as it is in childhood by the commands of our parents.
For all that, we were already thinking when we were children, only our thoughts were not fleshless, abstract, absolute, i. e., NOTHING BUT THOUGHTS, a heaven in themselves, a pure world of thought, logical thoughts.
On the contrary, they had been only thoughts that we had about a thing; we thought of the thing so or so. Thus we may have thought “God made the world that we see there,” but we did not think of (“search”) the “depths of the Godhead itself”; we may have thought “that is the truth about the matter,” but we do not think of Truth itself, nor unite into one sentence “God is truth.” The “depths of the Godhead, who is truth,” we did not touch. Over such purely logical, i.e. theological questions, “What is truth?” Pilate does not stop, though he does not therefore hesitate to ascertain in an individual case “what truth there is in the thing,” i.e. whether the thing is true.
Any thought bound to a thing is not yet nothing but a thought, absolute thought.
To bring to light the pure thought, or to be of its party, is the delight of youth; and all the shapes of light in the world of thought, like truth, freedom, humanity, Man, etc., illumine and inspire the youthful soul.
But, when the spirit is recognized as the essential thing, it still makes a difference whether the spirit is poor or rich, and therefore one seeks to become rich in spirit; the spirit wants to spread out so as to found its empire — an empire that is not of this world, the world just conquered. Thus, then, it longs to become all in all to itself; i.e., although I am spirit, I am not yet perfected spirit, and must first seek the complete spirit.
But with that I, who had just now found myself as spirit, lose myself again at once, bowing before the complete spirit as one not my own but supernal, and feeling my emptiness.
Spirit is the essential point for everything, to be sure; but then is every spirit the “right” spirit? The right and true spirit is the ideal of spirit, the “Holy Spirit.” It is not my or your spirit, but just — an ideal, supernal one, it is “God.” “God is spirit.” And this supernal “Father in heaven gives it to those that pray to him.”2
The man is distinguished from the youth by the fact that he takes the world as it is, instead of everywhere fancying it amiss and wanting to improve it, i.e. model it after his ideal; in him the view that one must deal with the world according to his interest, not according to his ideals, becomes confirmed.
So long as one knows himself only as spirit, and feels that all the value of his existence consists in being spirit (it becomes easy for the youth to give his life, the “bodily life,” for a nothing, for the silliest point of honor), so long it is only thoughts that one has, ideas that he hopes to be able to realize some day when he has found a sphere of action; thus one has meanwhile only ideals, unexecuted ideas or thoughts.
Not till one has fallen in love with his corporeal self, and takes a pleasure in himself as a living flesh-and-blood person — but it is in mature years, in the man, that we find it so — not till then has one a personal or egoistic interest, i.e. an interest not only of our spirit, e.g., but of total satisfaction, satisfaction of the whole chap, a selfish interest. Just compare a man with a youth, and see if he will not appear to you harder, less magnanimous, more selfish. Is he therefore worse? No, you say; he has only become more definite, or, as you also call it, more “practical.” But the main point is this, that he makes himself more the center than does the youth, who is infatuated about other things, e.g. God, fatherland, etc.
Therefore the man shows a second self-discovery. The youth found himself as spirit and lost himself again in the general spirit, the complete, holy spirit, Man, mankind — in short, all ideals; the man finds himself as embodied spirit.
Boys had only unintellectual interests (i.e. interests devoid of thoughts and ideas), youths only intellectual ones; the man has bodily, personal, egoistic interests.
If the child has not an object that it can occupy itself with, it feels ennui; for it does not yet know how to occupy itself with itself. The youth, on the contrary, throws the object aside, because for him thoughts arose out of the object; he occupies himself with his thoughts, his dreams, occupies himself intellectually, or “his mind is occupied.”
The young man includes everything not intellectual under the contemptuous name of “externalities.” If he nevertheless sticks to the most trivial externalities (e.g. the customs of students’ clubs and other formalities), it is because, and when, he discovers mind in them, i.e. when they are symbolsto him.
As I find myself back of things, and that as mind, so I must later find myself also back of thoughts — to wit, as their creator and owner. In the time of spirits thoughts grew till they overtopped my head, whose offspring they yet were; they hovered about me and convulsed me like fever-phantasies — an awful power. The thoughts had become corporeal on their own account, were ghosts, e.g. God, Emperor, Pope, Fatherland, etc. If I destroy their corporeity, then I take them back into mine, and say: “I alone am corporeal.” And now I take the world as what it is to me, as mine, as my property; I refer all to myself.
If as spirit I had thrust away the world in the deepest contempt, so as owner I thrust spirits or ideas away into their “vanity.” They have no longer any power over me, as no “earthly might” has power over the spirit.
The child was realistic, taken up with the things of this world, till little by little he succeeded in getting at what was back of these very things; the youth was idealistic, inspired by thoughts, till he worked his way up to where he became the man, the egoistic man, who deals with things and thoughts according to his heart’s pleasure, and sets his personal interest above everything. Finally, the old man? When I become one, there will still be time enough to speak of that.
How each of us developed himself, what he strove for, attained, or missed, what objects he formerly pursued and what plans and wishes his heart is now set on, what transformation his views have experienced, what perturbations his principles — in short, how he has today become what yesterday or years ago he was not — this he brings out again from his memory with more or less ease, and he feels with especial vividness what changes have taken place in himself when he has before his eyes the unrolling of another’s life.
Let us therefore look into the activities our forefathers busied themselves with.
Custom having once given the name of “the ancients” to our pre-Christian ancestors, we will not throw it up against them that, in comparison with us experienced people, they ought properly to be called children, but will rather continue to honor them as our good old fathers. But how have they come to be antiquated, and who could displace them through his pretended newness?
We know, of course, the revolutionary innovator and disrespectful heir, who even took away the sanctity of the fathers’ sabbath to hallow his Sunday, and interrupted the course of time to begin at himself with a new chronology; we know him, and know that it is — the Christian. But does he remain forever young, and is he today still the new man, or will he too be superseded, as he has superseded the “ancients”?
The fathers must doubtless have themselves begotten the young one who entombed them. Let us then peep at this act of generation.
“To the ancients the world was a truth,” says Feuerbach, but he forgets to make the important addition, “a truth whose untruth they tried to get back of, and at last really did.” What is meant by those words of Feuerbach will be easily recognized if they are put alongside the Christian thesis of the “vanity and transitoriness of the world.” For, as the Christian can never convince himself of the vanity of the divine word, but believes in its eternal and unshakable truth, which, the more its depths are searched, must all the more brilliantly come to light and triumph, so the ancients on their side lived in the feeling that the world and mundane relations (e.g. the natural ties of blood) were the truth before which their powerless “I” must bow. The very thing on which the ancients set the highest value is spurned by Christians as the valueless, and what they recognized as truth these brand as idle lies; the high significance of the fatherland disappears, and the Christian must regard himself as “a stranger on earth”; the sanctity of funeral rites, from which sprang a work of art like the Antigone of Sophocles, is designated as a paltry thing (“Let the dead bury their dead”); the infrangible truth of family ties is represented as an untruth which one cannot promptly enough get clear of; and so in everything.
If we now see that to the two sides opposite things appear as truth, to one the natural, to the other the intellectual, to one earthly things and relations, to the other heavenly (the heavenly fatherland, “Jerusalem that is above,” etc.), it still remains to be considered how the new time and that undeniable reversal could come out of antiquity. But the ancients themselves worked toward making their truth a lie.
Let us plunge at once into the midst of the most brilliant years of the ancients, into the Periclean century. Then the Sophistic culture was spreading, and Greece made a pastime of what had hitherto been to her a monstrously serious matter.
The fathers had been enslaved by the undisturbed power of existing things too long for the posterity not to have to learn by bitter experience to feel themselves. Therefore the Sophists, with courageous sauciness, pronounce the reassuring words, “Don’t be bluffed!” and diffuse the rationalistic doctrine, “Use your understanding, your wit, your mind, against everything; it is by having a good and well-drilled understanding that one gets through the world best, provides for himself the best lot, the most pleasant life.” Thus they recognize in mind man’s true weapon against the world. This is why they lay such stress on dialectic skill, command of language, the art of disputation, etc. They announce that mind is to be used against everything; but they are still far removed from the holiness of the Spirit, for to them it is a means, a weapon, as trickery and defiance serve children for the same purpose; their mind is the unbribable understanding.
Today we should call that a one-sided culture of the understanding, and add the warning, “Cultivate not only your understanding, but also, and especially, your heart.” Socrates did the same. For, if the heart did not become free from its natural impulses, but remained filled with the most fortuitous contents and, as an uncriticized avidity, altogether in the power of things, i.e. nothing but a vessel of the most various appetites — then it was unavoidable that the free understanding must serve the “bad heart” and was ready to justify everything that the wicked heart desired.
Therefore Socrates says that it is not enough for one to use his understanding in all things, but it is a question of what cause one exerts it for. We should now say, one must serve the “good cause.” But serving the good cause is — being moral. Hence Socrates is the founder of ethics.
Certainly the principle of the Sophistic doctrine must lead to the possibility that the blindest and most dependent slave of his desires might yet be an excellent sophist, and, with keen understanding, trim and expound everything in favor of his coarse heart. What could there be for which a “good reason” might not be found, or which might not be defended through thick and thin?
Therefore Socrates says: “You must be ‘pure-hearted’ if your shrewdness is to be valued.” At this point begins the second period of Greek liberation of the mind, the period of purity of heart. For the first was brought to a close by the Sophists in their proclaiming the omnipotence of the understanding. But the heart remained worldly-minded, remained a servant of the world, always affected by worldly wishes. This coarse heart was to be cultivated from now on — the era of culture of the heart. But how is the heart to be cultivated? What the understanding; this one side of the mind, has reached — to wit, the capability of playing freely with and over every concern — awaits the heart also; everything worldly must come to grief before it, so that at last family, commonwealth, fatherland, etc., are given up for the sake of the heart, i. e., of blessedness, the heart’s blessedness.
Daily experience confirms the truth that the understanding may have renounced a thing many years before the heart has ceased to beat for it. So the Sophistic understanding too had so far become master over the dominant, ancient powers that they now needed only to be driven out of the heart, in which they dwelt unmolested, to have at last no part at all left in man. This war is opened by Socrates, and not till the dying day of the old world does it end in peace.
The examination of the heart takes its start with Socrates, and all the contents of the heart are sifted. In their last and extremest struggles the ancients threw all contents out of the heart and let it no longer beat for anything; this was the deed of the Skeptics. The same purgation of the heart was now achieved in the Skeptical age, as the understanding had succeeded in establishing in the Sophistic age.
The Sophistic culture has brought it to pass that one’s understanding no longer stands still before anything, and the Skeptical, that his heart is no longer moved by anything.
So long as man is entangled in the movements of the world and embarrassed by relations to the world — and he is so till the end of antiquity, because his heart still has to struggle for independence from the worldly — so long he is not yet spirit; for spirit is without body, and has no relations to the world and corporeality; for it the world does not exist, nor natural bonds, but only the spiritual, and spiritual bonds. Therefore man must first become so completely unconcerned and reckless, so altogether without relations, as the Skeptical culture presents him — so altogether indifferent to the world that even its falling in ruins would not move him — before he could feel himself as worldless; i. e., as spirit. And this is the result of the gigantic work of the ancients: that man knows himself as a being without relations and without a world, as spirit.
Only now, after all worldly care has left him, is he all in all to himself, is he only for himself, i.e. he is he spirit for the spirit, or, in plainer language, he cares only for the spiritual.
In the Christian wisdom of serpents and innocence of doves the two sides — understanding and heart — of the ancient liberation of mind are so completed that they appear young and new again, and neither the one nor the other lets itself be bluffed any longer by the worldly and natural.
Thus the ancients mounted to spirit, and strove to become spiritual. But a man who wishes to be active as spirit is drawn to quite other tasks than he was able to set himself formerly: to tasks which really give something to do to the spirit and not to mere sense or acuteness, which exerts itself only to become master of things. The spirit busies itself solely about the spiritual, and seeks out the “traces of mind” in everything; to the believing spirit “everything comes from God,” and interests him only to the extent that it reveals this origin; to the philosophic spirit everything appears with the stamp of reason, and interests him only so far as he is able to discover in it reason, i. e., spiritual content.
Not the spirit, then, which has to do with absolutely nothing unspiritual, with no thing, but only with the essence which exists behind and above things, with thoughts — not that did the ancients exert, for they did not yet have it; no, they had only reached the point of struggling and longing for it, and therefore sharpened it against their too-powerful foe, the world of sense (but what would not have been sensuous for them, since Jehovah or the gods of the heathen were yet far removed from the conception “God is spirit,” since the “heavenly fatherland” had not yet stepped into the place of the sensuous, etc.?) — they sharpened against the world of sense their sense, their acuteness. To this day the Jews, those precocious children of antiquity, have got no farther; and with all the subtlety and strength of their prudence and understanding, which easily becomes master of things and forces them to obey it, they cannot discover spirit, which takes no account whatever of things.
The Christian has spiritual interests, because he allows himself to be a spiritual man; the Jew does not even understand these interests in their purity, because he does not allow himself to assign no value to things. He does not arrive at pure spirituality, a spirituality e.g. is religiously expressed, e.g., in the faith of Christians, which alone (i.e. without works) justifies. Their unspirituality sets Jews forever apart from Christians; for the spiritual man is incomprehensible to the unspiritual, as the unspiritual is contemptible to the spiritual. But the Jews have only “the spirit of this world.”
The ancient acuteness and profundity lies as far from the spirit and the spirituality of the Christian world as earth from heaven.
He who feels himself as free spirit is not oppressed and made anxious by the things of this world, because he does not care for them; if one is still to feel their burden, he must be narrow enough to attach weight to them — as is evidently the case, e.g., when one is still concerned for his “dear life.” He to whom everything centers in knowing and conducting himself as a free spirit gives little heed to how scantily he is supplied meanwhile, and does not reflect at all on how he must make his arrangements to have a thoroughly inconveniences of the life that depends on things, because he lives only spiritually and on spiritual food, while aside from this he only gulps things down like a beast, hardly knowing it, and dies bodily, to be sure, when his fodder gives out, but knows himself immortal as spirit, and closes his eyes with an adoration or a thought. His life is occupation with the spiritual, is — thinking; the rest does not bother him; let him busy himself with the spiritual in any way that he can and chooses — in devotion, in contemplation, or in philosophic cognition — his doing is always thinking; and therefore Descartes, to whom this had at last become quite clear, could lay down the proposition: “I think, that is — I am.” This means, my thinking is my being or my life; only when I live spiritually do I live; only as spirit am I really, or — I am spirit through and through and nothing but spirit. Unlucky Peter Schlemihl, who has lost his shadow, is the portrait of this man become a spirit; for the spirit’s body is shadowless. — Over against this, how different among the ancients! Stoutly and manfully as they might bear themselves against the might of things, they must yet acknowledge the might itself, and got no farther than to protect their life against it as well as possible. Only at a late hour did they recognize that their “true life” was not that which they led in the fight against the things of the world, but the “spiritual life,” “turned away” from these things; and, when they saw this, they became Christians, i.e. the moderns, and innovators upon the ancients. But the life turned away from things, the spiritual life, no longer draws any nourishment from nature, but “lives only on thoughts,” and therefore is no longer “life,” but — thinking.
Yet it must not be supposed now that the ancients were without thoughts, just as the most spiritual man is not to be conceived of as if he could be without life. Rather, they had their thoughts about everything, about the world, man, the gods, etc., and showed themselves keenly active in bringing all this to their consciousness. But they did not know thought, even though they thought of all sorts of things and “worried themselves with their thoughts.” Compare with their position the Christian saying, “My thoughts are not your thoughts; as the heaven is higher than the earth, so are my thoughts higher than your thoughts,” and remember what was said above about our child-thoughts.
What is antiquity seeking, then? The true enjoyment of life! You will find that at bottom it is all the same as “the true life.”
The Greek poet Simonides sings: “Health is the noblest good for mortal man, the next to this is beauty, the third riches acquired without guile, the fourth the enjoyment of social pleasures in the company of young friends.” These are all good things of life, pleasures of life. What else was Diogenes of Sinope seeking for than the true enjoyment of life, which he discovered in having the least possible wants? What else Aristippus, who found it in a cheery temper under all circumstances? They are seeking for cheery, unclouded life-courage, for cheeriness; they are seeking to “be of good cheer.”
The Stoics want to realize the wise man, the man with practical philosophy, the man who knows how to live — a wise life, therefore; they find him in contempt for the world, in a life without development, without spreading out, without friendly relations with the world, thus in the isolated life, in life as life, not in life with others; only the Stoic lives, all else is dead for him. The Epicureans, on the contrary, demand a moving life.
The ancients, as they want to be of good cheer, desire good living (the Jews especially a long life, blessed with children and goods), eudaemonia, well-being in the most various forms. Democritus, e.g., praises as such the “calm of the soul” in which one “lives smoothly, without fear and without excitement.”
So what he thinks is that with this he gets on best, provides for himself the best lot, and gets through the world best. But as he cannot get rid of the world — and in fact cannot for the very reason that his whole activity is taken up in the effort to get rid of it, i. e., in repelling the world (for which it is yet necessary that what can be and is repelled should remain existing, otherwise there would be no longer anything to repel) — he reaches at most an extreme degree of liberation, and is distinguishable only in degree from the less liberated. If he even got as far as the deadening of the earthly sense, which at last admits only the monotonous whisper of the word “Brahm,” he nevertheless would not be essentially distinguishable from the sensualman.
Even the stoic attitude and manly virtue amounts only to this — that one must maintain and assert himself against the world; and the ethics of the Stoics (their only science, since they could tell nothing about the spirit but how it should behave toward the world, and of nature (physics) only this, that the wise man must assert himself against it) is not a doctrine of the spirit, but only a doctrine of the repelling of the world and of self-assertion against the world. And this consists in “imperturbability and equanimity of life,” and so in the most explicit Roman virtue.
The Romans too (Horace, Cicero, etc.) went no further than this practical philosophy.
The comfort (hedone) of the Epicureans is the same practical philosophy the Stoics teach, only trickier, more deceitful. They teach only another behavior toward the world, exhort us only to take a shrewd attitude toward the world; the world must be deceived, for it is my enemy.
The break with the world is completely carried through by the Skeptics. My entire relation to the world is “worthless and truthless.” Timon says, “The feelings and thoughts which we draw from the world contain no truth.” “What is truth?” cries Pilate. According to Pyrrho’s doctrine the world is neither good nor bad, neither beautiful nor ugly, etc., but these are predicates which I give it. Timon says that “in itself nothing is either good or bad, but man only thinks of it thus or thus”; to face the world only ataraxia (unmovedness) and aphasia (speechlessness — or, in other words, isolated inwardness)are left. There is “no longer any truth to be recognized” in the world; things contradict themselves; thoughts about things are without distinction (good and bad are all the same, so that what one calls good another finds bad); here the recognition of “truth” is at an end, and only the man without power of recognition, the man who finds in the world nothing to recognize, is left, and this man just leaves the truth-vacant world where it is and takes no account of it.
So antiquity gets through with the world of things, the order of the world, the world as a whole; but to the order of the world, or the things of this world, belong not only nature, but all relations in which man sees himself placed by nature, e.g. the family, the community — in short, the so-called “natural bonds.” With the world of the spirit Christianity then begins. The man who still faces the world armed is the ancient, the — heathen (to which class the Jew, too, as non-Christian, belongs); the man who has come to be led by nothing but his “heart’s pleasure,” the interest he takes, his fellow-feeling, his —spirit, is the modern, the — Christian.
As the ancients worked toward the conquest of the world and strove to release man from the heavy trammels of connection with other things, at last they came also to the dissolution of the State and giving preference to everything private. Of course community, family, etc., as natural relations, are burdensome hindrances which diminish my spiritual freedom.
“If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; the old is passed away, behold, all is become new.”
As it was said above, “To the ancients the world was a truth,” we must say here, “To the moderns the spirit was a truth”; but here, as there, we must not omit the supplement, “a truth whose untruth they tried to get back of, and at last they really do.”
A course similar to that which antiquity took may be demonstrated in Christianity also, in that the understanding was held a prisoner under the dominion of the Christian dogmas up to the time preparatory to the Reformation, but in the pre-Reformation century asserted itself sophistically and played heretical pranks with all tenets of the faith. And the talk then was, especially in Italy and at the Roman court, “If only the heart remains Christian-minded, the understanding may go right on taking its pleasure.”
Long before the Reformation, people were so thoroughly accustomed to fine-spun “wranglings” that the pope, and most others, looked on Luther’s appearance too as a mere “wrangling of monks” at first. Humanism corresponds to Sophisticism, and, as in the time of the Sophists Greek life stood in its fullest bloom (the Periclean age), so the most brilliant things happened in the time of Humanism, or, as one might perhaps also say, of Machiavellianism (printing, the New World, etc.). At this time the heart was still far from wanting to relieve itself of its Christian contents.
But finally the Reformation, like Socrates, took hold seriously of the heart itself, and since then hearts have kept growing visibly — more unchristian. As with Luther people began to take the matter to heart, the outcome of this step of the Reformation must be that the heart also gets lightened of the heavy burden of Christian faith. The heart, from day to day more unchristian, loses the contents with which it had busied itself, till at last nothing but empty warmheartedness is left it, the quite general love of men, the love of Man, the consciousness of freedom, “self-consciousness.”
Only so is Christianity complete, because it has become bald, withered, and void of contents. There are now no contents whatever against which the heart does not mutiny, unless indeed the heart unconsciously or without “self- consciousness” lets them slip in. The heart criticises to death with hard-hearted mercilessness everything that wants to make its way in, and is capable (except, as before, unconsciously or taken by surprise) of no friendship, no love. What could there be in men to love, since they are all alike “egoists,” none of them man as such, i.e. none spirit only? The Christian loves only the spirit; but where could one be found who should be really nothing but spirit?
To have a liking for the corporeal man with hide and hair — why, that would no longer be a “spiritual” warmheartedness, it would be treason against “pure” warmheartedness, the “theoretical regard.” For pure warmheartedness is by no means to be conceived as like that kindliness that gives everybody a friendly hand-shake; on the contrary, pure warmheartedness is warm-hearted toward nobody, it is only a theoretical interest, concern for man as man, not as a person. The person is repulsive to it because of being “egoistic,” because of not being that abstraction, Man. But it is only for the abstraction that one can have a theoretical regard. To pure warmheartedness or pure theory men exist only to be criticized, scoffed at, and thoroughly despised; to it, no less than to the fanatical parson, they are only “filth” and other such nice things.
Pushed to this extremity of disinterested warmheartedness, we must finally become conscious that the spirit, which alone the Christian loves, is nothing; in other words, that the spirit is — a lie.
What has here been set down roughly, summarily, and doubtless as yet incomprehensibly, will, it is to be hoped, become clear as we go on.
Let us take up the inheritance left by the ancients, and, as active workmen, do with it as much as — can be done with it! The world lies despised at our feet, far beneath us and our heaven, into which its mighty arms are no longer thrust and its stupefying breath does not come. Seductively as it may pose, it can delude nothing but our sense; it cannot lead astray the spirit — and spirit alone, after all, we really are. Having once got back of things, the spirit has also got above them, and become free from their bonds, emancipated, supernal, free. So speaks “spiritual freedom.”
To the spirit which, after long toil, has got rid of the world, the worldless spirit, nothing is left after the loss of the world and the worldly but — the spirit and the spiritual.
Yet, as it has only moved away from the world and made of itself a being free from the world, without being able really to annihilate the world, this remains to it a stumbling-block that cannot be cleared away, a discredited existence; and, as, on the other hand, it knows and recognizes nothing but the spirit and the spiritual, it must perpetually carry about with it the longing to spiritualize the world, i.e. to redeem it from the “black list.” Therefore, like a youth, it goes about with plans for the redemption or improvement of the world.
The ancients, we saw, served the natural, the worldly, the natural order of the world, but they incessantly asked themselves of this service; and, when they had tired themselves to death in ever-renewed attempts at revolt, then, among their last sighs, was born to them the God, the “conqueror of the world.” All their doing had been nothing but wisdom of the world, an effort to get back of the world and above it. And what is the wisdom of the many following centuries? What did the moderns try to get back of? No longer to get back of the world, for the ancients had accomplished that; but back of the God whom the ancients bequeathed to them, back of the God who “is spirit,” back of everything that is the spirit’s, the spiritual. But the activity of the spirit, which “searches even the depths of the Godhead,” is theology. If the ancients have nothing to show but wisdom of the world, the moderns never did nor do make their way further than to theology. We shall see later that even the newest revolts against God are nothing but the extremest efforts of “theology,” i. e., theological insurrections.
The realm of spirits is monstrously great, there is an infinite deal of the spiritual; yet let us look and see what the spirit, this bequest of the ancients, properly is.
Out of their birth-pangs it came forth, but they themselves could not utter themselves as spirit; they could give birth to it, it itself must speak. The “born God, the Son of Man,” is the first to utter the word that the spirit, i.e. he, God, has to do with nothing earthly and no earthly relationship, but solely, with the spirit and spiritual relationships.
Is my courage, indestructible under all the world’s blows, my inflexibility and my obduracy, perchance already spirit in the full sense, because the world cannot touch it? Why, then it would not yet be at enmity with the world, and all its action would consist merely in not succumbing to the world! No, so long as it does not busy itself with itself alone, so long as it does not have to do with its world, the spiritual, alone, it is not free spirit, but only the “spirit of this world,” the spirit fettered to it. The spirit is free spirit, i. e., really spirit, only in a world of its own; in “this,” the earthly world, it is a stranger. Only through a spiritual world is the spirit really spirit, for “this” world does not understand it and does not know how to keep “the maiden from a foreign land” from departing.
But where is it to get this spiritual world? Where but out of itself? It must reveal itself; and the words that it speaks, the revelations in which it unveils itself, these are its world. As a visionary lives and has his world only in the visionary pictures that he himself creates, as a crazy man generates for himself his own dream-world, without which he could not be crazy, so the spirit must create for itself its spirit world, and is not spirit till it creates it.
Thus its creations make it spirit, and by its creatures we know it, the creator; in them it lives, they are its world.
Now, what is the spirit? It is the creator of a spiritual world! Even in you and me people do not recognize spirit till they see that we have appropriated to ourselves something spiritual, — i.e. though thoughts may have been set before us, we have at least brought them to live in ourselves; for, as long as we were children, the most edifying thoughts might have been laid before us without our wishing, or being able, to reproduce them in ourselves. So the spirit also exists only when it creates something spiritual; it is real only together with the spiritual, its creature.
As, then, we know it by its works, the question is what these works are. But the works or children of the spirit are nothing else but — spirits.
If I had before me Jews, Jews of the true metal, I should have to stop here and leave them standing before this mystery as for almost two thousand years they have remained standing before it, unbelieving and without knowledge. But, as you, my dear reader, are at least not a full-blooded Jew — for such a one will not go astray as far as this — we will still go along a bit of road together, till perhaps you too turn your back on me because I laugh in your face.
If somebody told you were altogether spirit, you would take hold of your body and not believe him, but answer: “I have a spirit, no doubt, but do not exist only as spirit, but as a man with a body.” You would still distinguish yourself from “your spirit.” “But,” replies he, “it is your destiny, even though now you are yet going about in the fetters of the body, to be one day a ‘blessed spirit,’ and, however you may conceive of the future aspect of your spirit, so much is yet certain, that in death you will put off this body and yet keep yourself, i.e. your spirit, for all eternity; accordingly your spirit is the eternal and true in you, the body only a dwelling here below, which you may leave and perhaps exchange for another.”
Now you believe him! For the present, indeed, you are not spirit only; but, when you emigrate from the mortal body, as one day you must, then you will have to help yourself without the body, and therefore it is needful that you be prudent and care in time for your proper self. “What should it profit a man if he gained the whole world and yet suffered damage in his soul?”
But, even granted that doubts, raised in the course of time against the tenets of the Christian faith, have long since robbed you of faith in the immortality of your spirit, you have nevertheless left one tenet undisturbed, and still ingenuously adhere to the one truth, that the spirit is your better part, and that the spiritual has greater claims on you than anything else. Despite all your atheism, in zeal against egoism you concur with the believers in immortality.
But whom do you think of under the name of egoist? A man who, instead of living to an idea, i. e., a spiritual thing, and sacrificing to it his personal advantage, serves the latter. A good patriot brings his sacrifice to the altar of the fatherland; but it cannot be disputed that the fatherland is an idea, since for beasts incapable of mind, or children as yet without mind, there is no fatherland and no patriotism. Now, if any one does not approve himself as a good patriot, he betrays his egoism with reference to the fatherland. And so the matter stands in innumerable other cases: he who in human society takes the benefit of a prerogative sins egoistically against the idea of equality; he who exercises dominion is blamed as an egoist against the idea of liberty, — etc.
You despise the egoist because he puts the spiritual in the background as compared with the personal, and has his eyes on himself where you would like to see him act to favor an idea. The distinction between you is that he makes himself the central point, but you the spirit; or that you cut your identity in two and exalt your “proper self,” the spirit, to be ruler of the paltrier remainder, while he will hear nothing of this cutting in two, and pursues spiritual and material interests just as he pleases. You think, to be sure, that you are falling foul of those only who enter into no spiritual interest at all, but in fact you curse at everybody who does not look on the spiritual interest as his “true and highest” interest. You carry your knightly service for this beauty so far that you affirm her to be the only beauty of the world. You live not to yourself, but to your spirit and to what is the spirit’s, i. e. ideas.
As the spirit exists only in its creating of the spiritual, let us take a look about us for its first creation. If only it has accomplished this, there follows thenceforth a natural propagation of creations, as according to the myth only the first human beings needed to be created, the rest of the race propagating of itself. The first creation, on the other hand, must come forth “out of nothing” — i.e. the spirit has toward its realization nothing but itself, or rather it has not yet even itself, but must create itself; hence its first creation is itself, the spirit. Mystical as this sounds, we yet go through it as an every-day experience. Are you a thinking being before you think? In creating the first thought you create yourself, the thinking one; for you do not think before you think a thought, i.e. have a thought. Is it not your singing that first makes you a singer, your talking that makes you a talker? Now, so too it is the production of the spiritual that first makes you a spirit.
Meantime, as you distinguish yourself from the thinker, singer, and talker, so you no less distinguish yourself from the spirit, and feel very clearly that you are something beside spirit. But, as in the thinking ego hearing and sight easily vanish in the enthusiasm of thought, so you also have been seized by the spirit-enthusiasm, and you now long with all your might to become wholly spirit and to be dissolved in spirit. The spirit is your ideal, the unattained, the other-worldly; spirit is the name of your — god, “God is spirit.”
Against all that is not spirit you are a zealot, and therefore you play the zealot against yourself who cannot get rid of a remainder of the non-spiritual. Instead of saying, “I am more than spirit,” you say with contrition, “I am less than spirit; and spirit, pure spirit, or the spirit that is nothing but spirit, I can only think of, but am not; and, since I am not it, it is another, exists as another, whom I call ‘God’.”
It lies in the nature of the case that the spirit that is to exist as pure spirit must be an otherworldly one, for, since I am not it, it follows that it can only be outside me; since in any case a human being is not fully comprehended in the concept “spirit,” it follows that the pure spirit, the spirit as such, can only be outside of men, beyond the human world — not earthly, but heavenly.
Only from this disunion in which I and the spirit lie; only because “I” and “spirit” are not names for one and the same thing, but different names for completely different things; only because I am not spirit and spirit not I — only from this do we get a quite tautological explanation of the necessity that the spirit dwells in the other world, i. e. is God.
But from this it also appears how thoroughly theological is the liberation that Feuerbach is laboring to give us. What he says is that we had only mistaken our own essence, and therefore looked for it in the other world, but that now, when we see that God was only our human essence, we must recognize it again as ours and move it back out of the other world into this. To God, who is spirit, Feuerbach gives the name “Our Essence.” Can we put up with this, that “Our Essence” is brought into opposition to us — that we are split into an essential and an unessential self? Do we not therewith go back into the dreary misery of seeing ourselves banished out of ourselves?
What have we gained, then, when for a variation we have transferred into ourselves the divine outside us? Are we that which is in us? As little as we are that which is outside us. I am as little my heart as I am my sweetheart, this “other self” of mine. Just because we are not the spirit that dwells in us, just for that reason we had to take it and set it outside us; it was not we, did not coincide with us, and therefore we could, not think of it as existing otherwise than outside us, on the other side from us, in the other world.
With the strength of despair Feuerbach clutches at the total substance of Christianity, not to throw it away, no, to drag it to himself, to draw it, the long-yearned-for, ever-distant, out of its heaven with a last effort, and keep it by him forever. Is not that a clutch of the uttermost despair, a clutch for life or death, and is it not at the same time the Christian yearning and hungering for the other world? The hero wants not to go into the other world, but to draw the other world to him, and compel it to become this world! And since then has not all the world, with more or less consciousness, been crying that “this world” is the vital point, and heaven must come down on earth and be experienced even here?
Let us, in brief, set Feuerbach’s theological view and our contradiction over against each other! “The essence of man is man’s supreme being; now by religion, to be sure, the supreme being is called God and regarded as an objective essence, but in truth it is only man’s own essence; and therefore the turning point of the world’s history is that henceforth no longer God, but man, is to appear to man as God.”
To this we reply: The supreme being is indeed the essence of man, but, just because it is his essence and not he himself, it remains quite immaterial whether we see it outside him and view it as “God,” or find it in him and call it “Essence of Man” or “Man.” I am neither God nor Man, neither the supreme essence nor my essence, and therefore it is all one in the main whether I think of the essence as in me or outside me. Nay, we really do always think of the supreme being as in both kinds of otherworldliness, the inward and outward, at once; for the “Spirit of God” is, according to the Christian view, also “our spirit,” and “dwells in us.” It dwells in heaven and dwells in us; we poor things are just its “dwelling,” and, if Feuerbach goes on to destroy its heavenly dwelling and force it to move to us bag and baggage, then we, its earthly apartments, will be badly overcrowded.
But after this digression (which, if we were at all proposing to work by line and level, we should have had to save for later pages in order to avoid repetition) we return to the spirit’s first creation, the spirit itself.
The spirit is something other than myself. But this other, what is it?
Have you ever seen a spirit? “No, not I, but my grandmother.” Now, you see, it’s just so with me too; I myself haven’t seen any, but my grandmother had them running between her feet all sorts of ways, and out of confidence in our grandmothers’ honesty we believe in the existence of spirits.
But had we no grandfathers then, and did they not shrug their shoulders every time our grandmothers told about their ghosts? Yes, those were unbelieving men who have harmed our good religion much, those rationalists! We shall feel that! What else lies at the bottom of this warm faith in ghosts, if not the faith in “the existence of spiritual beings in general,” and is not this latter itself disastrously unsettled if saucy men of the understanding may disturb the former? The Romanticists were quite conscious what a blow the very belief in God suffered by the laying aside of the belief in spirits or ghosts, and they tried to help us out of the baleful consequences not only by their reawakened fairy world, but at last, and especially, by the “intrusion of a higher world,” by their somnambulists of Prevorst, etc. The good believers and fathers of the church did not suspect that with the belief in ghosts the foundation of religion was withdrawn, and that since then it had been floating in the air. He who no longer believes in any ghost needs only to travel on consistently in his unbelief to see that there is no separate being at all concealed behind things, no ghost or — what is naively reckoned as synonymous even in our use of words — no “spirit.”
“Spirits exist!” Look about in the world, and say for yourself whether a spirit does not gaze upon you out of everything. Out of the lovely little flower there speaks to you the spirit of the Creator, who has shaped it so wonderfully; the stars proclaim the spirit that established their order; from the mountain-tops a spirit of sublimity breathes down; out of the waters a spirit of yearning murmurs up; and — out of men millions of spirits speak. The mountains may sink, the flowers fade, the world of stars fall in ruins, the men die — what matters the wreck of these visible bodies? The spirit, the “invisible spirit,” abides eternally!
Yes, the whole world is haunted! Only is haunted? Nay, it itself “walks,” it is uncanny through and through, it is the wandering seeming-body of a spirit, it is a spook. What else should a ghost be, then, than an apparent body, but real spirit? Well, the world is “empty,” is “naught,” is only glamorous “semblance”; its truth is the spirit alone; it is the seeming-body of a spirit.
Look out near or far, a ghostly world surrounds you everywhere; you are always having “apparitions” or visions. Everything that appears to you is only the phantasm of an indwelling spirit, is a ghostly “apparition”; the world is to you only a “world of appearances,” behind which the spirit walks. You “see spirits.”
Are you perchance thinking of comparing yourself with the ancients, who saw gods everywhere? Gods, my dear modern, are not spirits; gods do not degrade the world to a semblance, and do not spiritualize it.
But to you the whole world is spiritualized, and has become an enigmatical ghost; therefore do not wonder if you likewise find in yourself nothing but a spook. Is not your body haunted by your spirit, and is not the latter alone the true and real, the former only the “transitory, naught” or a “semblance”? Are we not all ghosts, uncanny beings that wait for “deliverance” — to wit, “spirits”?
Since the spirit appeared in the world, since “the Word became flesh,” since then the world has been spiritualized, enchanted, a spook.
You have spirit, for you have thoughts. What are your thoughts? “Spiritual entities.” Not things, then? “No, but the spirit of things, the main point in all things, the inmost in them, their — idea.” Consequently what you think is not only your thought? “On the contrary, it is that in the world which is most real, that which is properly to be called true; it is the truth itself; if I only think truly, I think the truth. I may, to be sure, err with regard to the truth, and fail to recognize it; but, if I recognize truly, the object of my cognition is the truth.” So, I suppose, you strive at all times to recognize the truth? “To me the truth is sacred. It may well happen that I find a truth incomplete and replace it with a better, but the truth I cannot abrogate. I believe in the truth, therefore I search in it; nothing transcends it, it is eternal.”
Sacred, eternal is the truth; it is the Sacred, the Eternal. But you, who let yourself be filled and led by this sacred thing, are yourself hallowed. Further, the sacred is not for your senses — and you never as a sensual man discover its trace — but for your faith, or, more definitely still, for your spirit; for it itself, you know, is a spiritual thing, a spirit — is spirit for the spirit.
The sacred is by no means so easily to be set aside as many at present affirm, who no longer take this “unsuitable” word into their mouths. If even in a single respect I am still upbraided as an “egoist,” there is left the thought of something else which I should serve more than myself, and which must be to me more important than everything; in short, somewhat in which I should have to seek my true welfare,[Heil] something — “sacred.”[heiling] However human this sacred thing may look, though it be the Human itself, that does not take away its sacredness, but at most changes it from an unearthly to an earthly sacred thing, from a divine one to a human.
Sacred things exist only for the egoist who does not acknowledge himself, the involuntary egoist, for him who is always looking after his own and yet does not count himself as the highest being, who serves only himself and at the same time always thinks he is serving a higher being, who knows nothing higher than himself and yet is infatuated about something higher; in short, for the egoist who would like not to be an egoist, and abases himself (i.e. combats his egoism), but at the same time abases himself only for the sake of “being exalted,” and therefore of gratifying his egoism. Because he would like to cease to be an egoist, he looks about in heaven and earth for higher beings to serve and sacrifice himself to; but, however much he shakes and disciplines himself, in the end he does all for his own sake, and the disreputable egoism will not come off him. On this account I call him the involuntary egoist.
His toil and care to get away from himself is nothing but the misunderstood impulse to self-dissolution. If you are bound to your past hour, if you must babble today because you babbled yesterday, if you cannot transform yourself each instant, you feel yourself fettered in slavery and benumbed. Therefore over each minute of your existence a fresh minute of the future beckons to you, and, developing yourself, you get away “from yourself,” i. e., from the self that was at that moment. As you are at each instant, you are your own creature, and in this very “creature” you do not wish to lose yourself, the creator. You are yourself a higher being than you are, and surpass yourself. But that you are the one who is higher than you, i. e., that you are not only creature, but likewise your creator — just this, as an involuntary egoist, you fail to recognize; and therefore the “higher essence” is to you — an alien [fremd] essence. Every higher essence, e.g. truth, mankind, etc., is an essence over us.
Alienness is a criterion of the “sacred.” In everything sacred there lies something “uncanny,” i.e. strange,[fremd] e.g. we are not quite familiar and at home in. What is sacred to me is not my own; and if, e.g.,, the property of others was not sacred to me, I should look on it as mine, which I should take to myself when occasion offered. Or, on the other side, if I regard the face of the Chinese emperor as sacred, it remains strange to my eye, which I close at its appearance.
Why is an incontrovertible mathematical truth, which might even be called eternal according to the common understanding of words, not — sacred? Because it is not revealed, or not the revelation of, a higher being. If by revealed we understand only the so-called religious truths, we go far astray, and entirely fail to recognize the breadth of the concept “higher being.” Atheists keep up their scoffing at the higher being, which was also honored under the name of the “highest” or Être suprême, and trample in the dust one “proof of his existence” after another, without noticing that they themselves, out of need for a higher being, only annihilate the old to make room for a new. Is “Man” perchance not a higher essence than an individual man, and must not the truths, rights, and ideas which result from the concept of him be honored and —counted sacred, as revelations of this very concept? For, even though we should abrogate again many a truth that seemed to be made manifest by this concept, yet this would only evince a misunderstanding on our part, without in the least degree harming the sacred concept itself or taking their sacredness from those truths that must “rightly” be looked upon as its revelations. Man reaches beyond every individual man, and yet — though he be “his essence” — is not in fact his essence (which rather would be as single [einzig] as he the individual himself), but a general and “higher,” yes, for atheists “the highest essence.”[“the supreme being”] And, as the divine revelations were not written down by God with his own hand, but made public through “the Lord’s instruments,” so also the new highest essence does not write out its revelations itself, but lets them come to our knowledge through “true men.” Only the new essence betrays, in fact, a more spiritual style of conception than the old God, because the latter was still represented in a sort of embodiedness or form, while the undimmed spirituality of the new is retained, and no special material body is fancied for it. And withal it does not lack corporeity, which even takes on a yet more seductive appearance because it looks more natural and mundane and consists in nothing less than in every bodily man — yes, or outright in “humanity” or “all men.” Thereby the spectralness of the spirit in a seeming body has once again become really solid and popular.
Sacred, then, is the highest essence and everything in which this highest essence reveals or will reveal itself; but hallowed are they who recognize this highest essence together with its own, i.e. together with its revelations. The sacred hallows in turn its reverer, who by his worship becomes himself a saint, as Likewise what he does is saintly, a saintly walk, saintly thoughts and actions, imaginations and aspirations.
It is easily understood that the conflict over what is revered as the highest essence can be significant only so long as even the most embittered opponents concede to each other the main point — that there is a highest essence to which worship or service is due. If one should smile compassionately at the whole struggle over a highest essence, as a Christian might at the war of words between a Shiite and a Sunnite or between a Brahman and a Buddhist, then the hypothesis of a highest essence would be null in his eyes, and the conflict on this basis an idle play. Whether then the one God or the three in one. whether the Lutheran God or the Être suprême or not God at all, but “Man,” may represent the highest essence, that makes no difference at all for him who denies the highest essence itself, for in his eyes those servants of a highest essence are one and all-pious people, the most raging atheist not less than the most faith-filled Christian.
In the foremost place of the sacred,[heilig] then, stands the highest essence and the faith in this essence, our “holy [heilig] faith.”
With ghosts we arrive in the spirit-realm, in the realm of essences.
What haunts the universe, and has its occult, “incomprehensible” being there, is precisely the mysterious spook that we call highest essence. And to get to the bottom of this spook, to comprehend it, to discover reality in it (to prove “the existence of God”) — this task men set to themselves for thousands of years; with the horrible impossibility, the endless Danaid-labor, of transforming the spook into a non-spook, the unreal into something real, the spirit into an entire and corporeal person — with this they tormented themselves to death. Behind the existing world they sought the “thing in itself,” the essence; behind the thing they sought the un-thing.
When one looks to the bottom of anything, i.e. searches out its essence, one often discovers something quite other than what it seems to be; honeyed speech and a lying heart, pompous words and beggarly thoughts, etc. By bringing the essence into prominence one degrades the hitherto misapprehended appearance to a bare semblance, a deception. The essence of the world, so attractive and splendid, is for him who looks to the bottom of it — emptiness; emptiness is = world’s essence (world’s doings). Now, he who is religious does not occupy himself with the deceitful semblance, with the empty appearances, but looks upon the essence, and in the essence has — the truth.
The essences which are deduced from some appearances are the evil essences, and conversely from others the good. The essence of human feeling, e.g., is love; the essence of human will is the good; that of one’s thinking, the true, etc.
What at first passed for existence, e.g. the world and its like, appears now as bare semblance, and the truly existent is much rather the essence, whose realm is filled with gods, spirits, demons, with good or bad essences. Only this inverted world, the world of essences, truly exists now. The human heart may be loveless, but its essence exists, God, “who is love”; human thought may wander in error, but its essence, truth, exists; “God is truth,” and the like.
To know and acknowledge essences alone and nothing but essences, that is religion; its realm is a realm of essences, spooks, and ghosts.
The longing to make the spook comprehensible, or to realize non-sense, has brought about a corporeal ghost, a ghost or spirit with a real body, an embodied ghost. How the strongest and most talented Christians have tortured themselves to get a conception of this ghostly apparition! But there always remained the contradiction of two natures, the divine and human, i. e., the ghostly and sensual; there remained the most wondrous spook, a thing that was not a thing. Never yet was a ghost more soul torturing, and no shaman, who pricks himself to raving fury and nerve-lacerating cramps to conjure a ghost, can endure such soul-torment as Christians suffered from that most incomprehensible ghost.
But through Christ the truth of the matter had at the same time come to light, that the veritable spirit or ghost is — man. The corporeal or embodied spirit is just man; he himself is the ghostly being and at the same time the being’s appearance and existence. Henceforth man no longer, in typical cases, shudders at ghosts outside him, but at himself; he is terrified at himself. In the depth of his breast dwells the spirit of sin; even the faintest thought (and this is itself a spirit, you know) may be a devil, etc. — The ghost has put on a body, God has become man, but now man is himself the gruesome spook which he seeks to get back of, to exorcise, to fathom, to bring to reality and to speech; man is — spirit. What matter if the body wither, if only the spirit is saved? Everything rests on the spirit, and the spirit’s or “soul’s” welfare becomes the exclusive goal. Man has become to himself a ghost, an uncanny spook, to which there is even assigned a distinct seat in the body (dispute over the seat of the soul, whether in the head, etc.).
You are not to me, and I am not to you, a higher essence. Nevertheless a higher essence may be hidden in each of us, and call forth a mutual reverence. To take at once the most general, Man lives in you and me. If I did not see Man in you, what occasion should I have to respect you? To be sure, you are not Man and his true and adequate form, but only a mortal veil of his, from which he can withdraw without himself ceasing; but yet for the present this general and higher essence is housed in you, and you present before me (because an imperishable spirit has in you assumed a perishable body, so that really your form is only an “assumed” one) a spirit that appears, appears in you, without being bound to your body and to this particular mode of appearance — therefore a spook. Hence I do not regard you as a higher essence but only respect that higher essence which “walks” in you; I “respect Man in you.” The ancients did not observe anything of this sort in their slaves, and the higher essence “Man” found as yet little response. To make up for this, they saw in each other ghosts of another sort. The People is a higher essence than an individual, and, like Man or the Spirit of Man, a spirit haunting the individual — the Spirit of the People. For this reason they revered this spirit, and only so far as he served this or else a spirit related to it (e.g. the Spirit of the Family) could the individual appear significant; only for the sake of the higher essence, the People, was consideration allowed to the “member of the people.” As you are hallowed to us by “Man” who haunts you, so at every time men have been hallowed by some higher essence or other, like People, Family, and such. Only for the sake of a higher essence has any one been honored from of old, only as a ghost has he been regarded in the light of a hallowed, i.e., protected and recognized person. If I cherish you because I hold you dear, because in you my heart finds nourishment, my need satisfaction, then it is not done for the sake of a higher essence, whose hallowed body you are, not on account of my beholding in you a ghost, i.e. an appearing spirit, but from egoistic pleasure; you yourself with your essence are valuable to me, for your essence is not a higher one, is not higher and more general than you, is unique[einzig] like you yourself, because it is you.
But it is not only man that “haunts”; so does everything. The higher essence, the spirit, that walks in everything, is at the same time bound to nothing, and only — “appears” in it. Ghosts in every corner!
Here would be the place to pass the haunting spirits in review, if they were not to come before us again further on in order to vanish before egoism. Hence let only a few of them be particularized by way of example, in order to bring us at once to our attitude toward them.
Sacred above all, e.g., is the “holy Spirit,” sacred the truth, sacred are right, law, a good cause, majesty, marriage, the common good, order, the fatherland, etc.
Man, your head is haunted; you have wheels in your head! You imagine great things, and depict to yourself a whole world of gods that has an existence for you, a spirit-realm to which you suppose yourself to be called, an ideal that beckons to you. You have a fixed idea!
Do not think that I am jesting or speaking figuratively when I regard those persons who cling to the Higher, and (because the vast majority belongs under this head) almost the whole world of men, as veritable fools, fools in a madhouse. What is it, then, that is called a “fixed idea”? An idea that has subjected the man to itself. When you recognize, with regard to such a fixed idea, that it is a folly, you shut its slave up in an asylum. And is the truth of the faith, say, which we are not to doubt; the majesty of (e.g.) the people, which we are not to strike at (he who does is guilty of — lese-majesty); virtue, against which the censor is not to let a word pass, that morality may be kept pure; — are these not “fixed ideas”? Is not all the stupid chatter of (e.g.) most of our newspapers the babble of fools who suffer from the fixed idea of morality, legality, Christianity, etc., and only seem to go about free because the madhouse in which they walk takes in so broad a space? Touch the fixed idea of such a fool, and you will at once have to guard your back against the lunatic’s stealthy malice. For these great lunatics are like the little so-called lunatics in this point too — that they assail by stealth him who touches their fixed idea. They first steal his weapon, steal free speech from him, and then they fall upon him with their nails. Every day now lays bare the cowardice and vindictiveness of these maniacs, and the stupid populace hurrahs for their crazy measures. One must read the journals of this period, and must hear the Philistines talk, to get the horrible conviction that one is shut up in a house with fools. “Thou shalt not call thy brother a fool; if thou dost — etc.” But I do not fear the curse, and I say, my brothers are arch-fools. Whether a poor fool of the insane asylum is possessed by the fancy that he is God the Father, Emperor of Japan, the Holy Spirit, etc., or whether a citizen in comfortable circumstances conceives that it is his mission to be a good Christian, a faithful Protestant, a loyal citizen, a virtuous man — both these are one and the same “fixed idea.” He who has never tried and dared not to be a good Christian, a faithful Protestant, a virtuous man, etc., is possessed and prepossessed [gefangen und befangen, literally “imprisoned and prepossessed”] by faith, virtuousness, etc. Just as the schoolmen philosophized only inside the belief of the church; as Pope Benedict XIV wrote fat books inside the papist superstition, without ever throwing a doubt upon this belief; as authors fill whole folios on the State without calling in question the fixed idea of the State itself; as our newspapers are crammed with politics because they are conjured into the fancy that man was created to be a zoon politicon — so also subjects vegetate in subjection, virtuous people in virtue, liberals in humanity, without ever putting to these fixed ideas of theirs the searching knife of criticism. Undislodgeable, like a madman’s delusion, those thoughts stand on a firm footing, and he who doubts them — lays hands on the sacred! Yes, the “fixed idea,” that is the truly sacred!
Is it perchance only people possessed by the devil that meet us, or do we as often come upon people possessed in the contrary way — possessed by “the good,” by virtue, morality, the law, or some “principle” or other? Possessions of the devil are not the only ones. God works on us, and the devil does; the former “workings of grace,” the latter “workings of the devil.” Possessed [besessene] people are set [versessen] in their opinions.
If the word “possession” displeases you, then call it prepossession; yes, since the spirit possesses you, and all “inspirations” come from it, call it — inspiration and enthusiasm. I add that complete enthusiasm — for we cannot stop with the sluggish, half-way kind — is called fanaticism.
It is precisely among cultured people that fanaticism is at home; for man is cultured so far as he takes an interest in spiritual things, and interest in spiritual things, when it is alive, is and must be fanaticism; it is a fanatical interest in the sacred (fanum). Observe our liberals, look into the Sächsischen Vaterlandsblätter, hear what Schlosser says: “Holbach’s company constituted a regular plot against the traditional doctrine and the existing system, and its members were as fanatical on behalf of their unbelief as monks and priests, Jesuits and Pietists, Methodists, missionary and Bible societies, commonly are for mechanical worship and orthodoxy.”
Take notice how a “moral man” behaves, who today often thinks he is through with God and throws off Christianity as a bygone thing. If you ask him whether he has ever doubted that the copulation of brother and sister is incest, that monogamy is the truth of marriage, that filial piety is a sacred duty, then a moral shudder will come over him at the conception of one’s being allowed to touch his sister as wife also, etc. And whence this shudder? Because he believes in those moral commandments. This moral faith is deeply rooted in his breast. Much as he rages against the pious Christians, he himself has nevertheless as thoroughly remained a Christian — to wit, a moral Christian. In the form of morality Christianity holds him a prisoner, and a prisoner under faith. Monogamy is to be something sacred, and he who may live in bigamy is punished as a criminal; he who commits incest suffers as a criminal. Those who are always crying that religion is not to be regarded in the State, and the Jew is to be a citizen equally with the Christian, show themselves in accord with this. Is not this of incest and monogamy a dogma of faith? Touch it, and you will learn by experience how this moral man is a hero of faith too, not less than Krummacher, not less than Philip II. These fight for the faith of the Church, he for the faith of the State, or the moral laws of the State; for articles of faith, both condemn him who acts otherwise than their faith will allow. The brand of “crime” is stamped upon him, and he may languish in reformatories, in jails. Moral faith is as fanatical as religious faith! They call that “liberty of faith” then, when brother and sister, on account of a relation that they should have settled with their “conscience,” are thrown into prison. “But they set a pernicious example.” Yes, indeed: others might have taken the notion that the State had no business to meddle with their relation, and thereupon “purity of morals” would go to ruin. So then the religious heroes of faith are zealous for the “sacred God,” the moral ones for the “sacred good.”
Those who are zealous for something sacred often look very little like each other. How the strictly orthodox or old-style believers differ from the fighters for “truth, light, and justice,” from the Philalethes, the Friends of Light, the Rationalists, and others. And yet, how utterly unessential is this difference! If one buffets single traditional truths (i.e. miracles, unlimited power of princes), then the Rationalists buffet them too, and only the old-style believers wail. But, if one buffets truth itself, he immediately has both, as believers, for opponents. So with moralities; the strict believers are relentless, the clearer heads are more tolerant. But he who attacks morality itself gets both to deal with. “Truth, morality, justice, light, etc.,” are to be and remain “sacred.” What any one finds to censure in Christianity is simply supposed to be “unchristian” according to the view of these rationalists, but Christianity must remain a “fixture,” to buffet it is outrageous, “an outrage.” To be sure, the heretic against pure faith no longer exposes himself to the earlier fury of persecution, but so much the more does it now fall upon the heretic against pure morals.
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Piety has for a century received so many blows, and had to hear its superhuman essence reviled as an “inhuman” one so often, that one cannot feel tempted to draw the sword against it again. And yet it has almost always been only moral opponents that have appeared in the arena, to assail the supreme essence in favor of — another supreme essence. So Proudhon, unabashed, says: “Man is destined to live without religion, but the moral law is eternal and absolute. Who would dare today to attack morality?” Moral people skimmed off the best fat from religion, ate it themselves, and are now having a tough job to get rid of the resulting scrofula. If, therefore, we point out that religion has not by any means been hurt in its inmost part so long as people reproach it only with its superhuman essence, and that it takes its final appeal to the “spirit” alone (for God is spirit), then we have sufficiently indicated its final accord with morality, and can leave its stubborn conflict with the latter lying behind us. It is a question of a supreme essence with both, and whether this is a superhuman or a human one can make (since it is in any case an essence over me, a super-mine one, so to speak) but little difference to me. In the end the relation to the human essence, or to “Man,” as soon as ever it has shed the snake-skin of the old religion, will yet wear a religious snake-skin again.
So Feuerbach instructs us that, “if one only inverts speculative philosophy, i.e. always makes the predicate the subject, and so makes the subject the object and principle, one has the undraped truth, pure and clean.” Herewith, to be sure, we lose the narrow religious standpoint, lost the God, who from this standpoint is subject; but we take in exchange for it the other side of the religious standpoint, the moral standpoint. Thus we no longer say “God is love,” but “Love is divine.” If we further put in place of the predicate “divine” the equivalent “sacred,” then, as far as concerns the sense, all the old comes back-again. According to this, love is to be the good in man, his divineness, that which does him honor, his true humanity (it “makes him Man for the first time,” makes for the first time a man out of him). So then it would be more accurately worded thus: Love is what is human in man, and what is inhuman is the loveless egoist. But precisely all that which Christianity and with it speculative philosophy (i.e., theology) offers as the good, the absolute, is to self-ownership simply not the good (or, what means the same, it is only the good). Consequently, by the transformation of the predicate into the subject, the Christian essence (and it is the predicate that contains the essence, you know) would only be fixed yet more oppressively. God and the divine would entwine themselves all the more inextricably with me. To expel God from his heaven and to rob him of his “transcendence” cannot yet support a claim of complete victory, if therein he is only chased into the human breast and gifted with indelible immanence. Now they say, “The divine is the truly human!”
The same people who oppose Christianity as the basis of the State, i.e. oppose the so-called Christian State, do not tire of repeating that morality is “the fundamental pillar of social life and of the State.” As if the dominion of morality were not a complete dominion of the sacred, a “hierarchy.”
So we may here mention by the way that rationalist movement which, after theologians had long insisted that only faith was capable of grasping religious truths, that only to believers did God reveal himself, and that therefore only the heart, the feelings, the believing fancy was religious, broke out with the assertion that the “natural understanding,” human reason, was also capable of discerning God. What does that mean but that the reason laid claim to be the same visionary as the fancy?[dieselbe Phantastin wie die Phantasie.] In this sense Reimarus wrote his Most Notable Truths of Natural Religion. It had to come to this — that the whole man with all his faculties was found to be religious; heart and affections, understanding and reason, feeling, knowledge, and will — in short, everything in man — appeared religious. Hegel has shown that even philosophy is religious. And what is not called religion today? The “religion of love,” the “religion of freedom,” “political religion” — in short, every enthusiasm. So it is, too, in fact.
To this day we use the Romance word “religion,” which expresses the concept of a condition of being bound. To be sure, we remain bound, so far as religion takes possession of our inward parts; but is the mind also bound? On the contrary, that is free, is sole lord, is not our mind, but absolute. Therefore the correct affirmative translation of the word religion would be “freedom of mind”! In whomsoever the mind is free, he is religious in just the same way as he in whom the senses have free course is called a sensual man. The mind binds the former, the desires the latter. Religion, therefore, is boundness or religion with reference to me — I am bound; it is freedom with reference to the mind — the mind is free, or has freedom of mind. Many know from experience how hard it is on us when the desires run away with us, free and unbridled; but that the free mind, splendid intellectuality, enthusiasm for intellectual interests, or however this jewel may in the most various phrase be named, brings us into yet more grievous straits than even the wildest impropriety, people will not perceive; nor can they perceive it without being consciously egoists.
Reimarus, and all who have shown that our reason, our heart, etc., also lead to God, have therewithal shown that we are possessed through and through. To be sure, they vexed the theologians, from whom they took away the prerogative of religious exaltation; but for religion, for freedom of mind, they thereby conquered yet more ground. For, when the mind is no longer limited to feeling or faith, but also, as understanding, reason, and thought in general, belongs to itself the mind — when therefore, it may take part in the spiritual [The same word as “intellectual”, as “mind” and “spirit” are the same.] and heavenly truths in the form of understanding, as well as in its other forms — then the whole mind is occupied only with spiritual things, i. e., with itself, and is therefore free. Now we are so through-and-through religious that “jurors,” i.e. “sworn men,” condemn us to death, and every policeman, as a good Christian, takes us to the lock-up by virtue of an “oath of office.”
Morality could not come into opposition with piety till after the time when in general the boisterous hate of everything that looked like an “order” (decrees, commandments, etc.) spoke out in revolt, and the personal “absolute lord” was scoffed at and persecuted; consequently it could arrive at independence only through liberalism, whose first form acquired significance in the world’s history as “citizenship,” and weakened the specifically religious powers (see “Liberalism” below). For, when morality not merely goes alongside of piety, but stands on feet of its own, then its principle lies no longer in the divine commandments, but in the law of reason, from which the commandments, so far as they are still to remain valid, must first await justification for their validity. In the law of reason man determines himself out of himself, for “Man” is rational, and out of the “essence of Man” those laws follow of necessity. Piety and morality part company in this — that the former makes God the law-giver, the latter Man.
From a certain standpoint of morality people reason about as follows: Either man is led by his sensuality, and is, following it, immoral, or he is led by the good, which, taken up into the will, is called moral sentiment (sentiment and prepossession in favor of the good); then he shows himself moral. From this point of view how, e.g., can Sand’s act against Kotzebue be called immoral? What is commonly understood by unselfish it certainly was, in the same measure as (among other things) St. Crispin’s thieveries in favor of the poor. “He should not have murdered, for it stands written, Thou shalt not murder!” Then to serve the good, the welfare of the people, as Sand at least intended, or the welfare of the poor, like Crispin — is moral; but murder and theft are immoral; the purpose moral, the means immoral. Why? “Because murder, assassination, is something absolutely bad.” When the Guerrillas enticed the enemies of the country into ravines and shot them down unseen from the bushes, do you suppose that was assassination? According to the principle of morality, which commands us to serve the good, you could really ask only whether murder could never in any case be a realization of the good, and would have to endorse that murder which realized the good. You cannot condemn Sand’s deed at all; it was moral, because in the service of the good, because unselfish; it was an act of punishment, which the individual inflicted, an — execution inflicted at the risk of the executioner’s life. What else had his scheme been, after all, but that he wanted to suppress writings by brute force? Are you not acquainted with the same procedure as a “legal” and sanctioned one? And what can be objected against it from your principle of morality? — “But it was an illegal execution.” So the immoral thing in it was the illegality, the disobedience to law? Then you admit that the good is nothing else than — law, morality nothing else than loyalty. And to this externality of “loyalty” your morality must sink, to this righteousness of works in the fulfillment of the law, only that the latter is at once more tyrannical and more revolting than the old-time righteousness of works. For in the latter only the act is needed, but you require the disposition too; one must carry in himself the law, the statute; and he who is most legally disposed is the most moral. Even the last vestige of cheerfulness in Catholic life must perish in this Protestant legality. Here at last the domination of the law is for the first time complete. “Not I live, but the law lives in me.” Thus I have really come so far to be only the “vessel of its glory.” “Every Prussian carries his gendarme in his breast,” says a high Prussian officer.
Why do certain opposition parties fail to flourish? Solely for the reason that they refuse to forsake the path of morality or legality. Hence the measureless hypocrisy of devotion, love, etc., from whose repulsiveness one may daily get the most thorough nausea at this rotten and hypocritical relation of a “lawful opposition.” — In the moral relation of love and fidelity a divided or opposed will cannot have place; the beautiful relation is disturbed if the one wills this and the other the reverse. But now, according to the practice hitherto and the old prejudice of the opposition, the moral relation is to be preserved above all. What is then left to the opposition? Perhaps the will to have a liberty, if the beloved one sees fit to deny it? Not a bit! It may not will to have the freedom, it can only wish for it, “petition” for it, lisp a “Please, please!” What would come of it, if the opposition really willed, willed with the full energy of the will? No, it must renounce will in order to live to love, renounce liberty — for love of morality. It may never “claim as a right” what it is permitted only to “beg as a favor.” Love, devotion. etc., demand with undeviating definiteness that there be only one will to which the others devote themselves, which they serve, follow, love. Whether this will is regarded as reasonable or as unreasonable, in both cases one acts morally when one follows it, and immorally when one breaks away from it. The will that commands the censorship seems to many unreasonable; but he who in a land of censorship evades the censoring of his book acts immorally, and he who submits it to the censorship acts morally. If some one let his moral judgment go, and set up e.g. a secret press, one would have to call him immoral, and imprudent in the bargain if he let himself be caught; but will such a man lay claim to a value in the eyes of the “moral”? Perhaps! — That is, if he fancied he was serving a “higher morality.”
The web of the hypocrisy of today hangs on the frontiers of two domains, between which our time swings back and forth, attaching its fine threads of deception and self-deception. No longer vigorous enough to serve morality without doubt or weakening, not yet reckless enough to live wholly to egoism, it trembles now toward the one and now toward the other in the spider-web of hypocrisy, and, crippled by the curse of halfness, catches only miserable, stupid flies. If one has once dared to make a “free” motion, immediately one waters it again with assurances of love, and — shams resignation; if, on the other side, they have had the face to reject the free motion with moral appeals to confidence, immediately the moral courage also sinks, and they assure one how they hear the free words with special pleasure, etc.; they — sham approval. In short, people would like to have the one, but not go without the other; they would like to have a free will, but not for their lives lack the moral will. Just come in contact with a servile loyalist, you Liberals. You will sweeten every word of freedom with a look of the most loyal confidence, and he will clothe his servilism in the most flattering phrases of freedom. Then you go apart, and he, like you, thinks “I know you, fox!” He scents the devil in you as much as you do the dark old Lord God in him.
A Nero is a “bad” man only in the eyes of the “good”; in mine he is nothing but a possessed man, as are the good too. The good see in him an arch-villain, and relegate him to hell. Why did nothing hinder him in his arbitrary course? Why did people put up with so much? Do you suppose the tame Romans, who let all their will be bound by such a tyrant, were a hair the better? In old Rome they would have put him to death instantly, would never have been his slaves. But the contemporary “good” among the Romans opposed to him only moral demands, not their will; they sighed that their emperor did not do homage to morality, like them; they themselves remained “moral subjects,” till at last one found courage to give up “moral, obedient subjection.” And then the same “good Romans” who, as “obedient subjects,” had borne all the ignominy of having no will, hurrahed over the nefarious, immoral act of the rebel. Where then in the “good” was the courage for the revolution, that courage which they now praised, after another had mustered it up? The good could not have this courage, for a revolution, and an insurrection into the bargain, is always something “immoral,” which one can resolve upon only when one ceases to be “good” and becomes either “bad” or — neither of the two. Nero was no viler than his time, in which one could only be one of the two, good or bad. The judgment of his time on him had to be that he was bad, and this in the highest degree: not a milksop, but an arch-scoundrel. All moral people can pronounce only this judgment on him. Rascals e.g. he was are still living here and there today (see e.g. the Memoirs of Ritter von Lang) in the midst of the moral. It is not convenient to live among them certainly, as one is not sure of his life for a moment; but can you say that it is more convenient to live among the moral? One is just as little sure of his life there, only that one is hanged “in the way of justice,” but least of all is one sure of his honor, and the national cockade is gone before you can say Jack Robinson. The hard fist of morality treats the noble nature of egoism altogether without compassion.
“But surely one cannot put a rascal and an honest man on the same level!” Now, no human being does that oftener than you judges of morals; yes, still more than that, you imprison as a criminal an honest man who speaks openly against the existing constitution, against the hallowed institutions, and you entrust portfolios and still more important things to a crafty rascal. So in praxi you have nothing to reproach me with. “But in theory!” Now there I do put both on the same level, as two opposite poles — to wit, both on the level of the moral law. Both have meaning only in the “moral world, just as in the pre-Christian time a Jew who kept the law and one who broke it had meaning and significance only in respect to the Jewish law; before Jesus Christ, on the contrary, the Pharisee was no more than the “sinner and publican.” So before self-ownership the moral Pharisee amounts to as much as the immoral sinner.
Nero became very inconvenient by his possessedness. But a self-owning man would not sillily oppose to him the “sacred,” and whine if the tyrant does not regard the sacred; he would oppose to him his will. How often the sacredness of the inalienable rights of man has been held up to their foes, and some liberty or other shown and demonstrated to be a “sacred right of man!” Those who do that deserve to be laughed out of court — as they actually are — were it not that in truth they do, even though unconsciously, take the road that leads to the goal. They have a presentiment that, if only the majority is once won for that liberty, it will also will the liberty, and will then take what it will have. The sacredness of the liberty, and all possible proofs of this sacredness, will never procure it; lamenting and petitioning only shows beggars.
The moral man is necessarily narrow in that he knows no other enemy than the “immoral” man. “He who is not moral is immoral!” and accordingly reprobate, despicable, etc. Therefore the moral man can never comprehend the egoist. Is not unwedded cohabitation an immorality? The moral man may turn as he pleases, he will have to stand by this verdict; Emilia Galotti gave up her life for this moral truth. And it is true, it is an immorality. A virtuous girl may become an old maid; a virtuous man may pass the time in fighting his natural impulses till he has perhaps dulled them, he may castrate himself for the sake of virtue as St. Origen did for the sake of heaven: he thereby honors sacred wedlock, sacred chastity, as inviolable; he is — moral. Unchastity can never become a moral act. However indulgently the moral man may judge and excuse him who committed it, it remains a transgression, a sin against a moral commandment; there clings to it an indelible stain. As chastity once belonged to the monastic vow, so it does to moral conduct. Chastity is a — good. — For the egoist, on the contrary, even chastity is not a good without which he could not get along; he cares nothing at all about it. What now follows from this for the judgment of the moral man? This: that he throws the egoist into the only class of men that he knows besides moral men, into that of the — immoral. He cannot do otherwise; he must find the egoist immoral in everything in which the egoist disregards morality. If he did not find him so, then he would already have become an apostate from morality without confessing it to himself, he would already no longer be a truly moral man. One should not let himself be led astray by such phenomena, which at the present day are certainly no longer to be classed as rare, but should reflect that he who yields any point of morality can as little be counted among the truly moral as Lessing was a pious Christian when, in the well-known parable, he compared the Christian religion, as well as the Mohammedan and Jewish, to a “counterfeit ring.” Often people are already further than they venture to confess to themselves. For Socrates, because in culture he stood on the level of morality, it would have been an immorality if he had been willing to follow Crito’s seductive incitement and escape from the dungeon; to remain was the only moral thing. But it was solely because Socrates was — a moral man. The “unprincipled, sacrilegious” men of the Revolution, on the contrary, had sworn fidelity to Louis XVI, and decreed his deposition, yes, his death; but the act was an immoral one, at which moral persons will be horrified to all eternity.
Yet all this applies, more or less, only to “civic morality,” on which the freer look down with contempt. For it (like civism, its native ground, in general) is still too little removed and free from the religious heaven not to transplant the latter’s laws without criticism or further consideration to its domain instead of producing independent doctrines of its own. Morality cuts a quite different figure when it arrives at the consciousness of its dignity, and raises its principle, the essence of man, or “Man,” to be the only regulative power. Those who have worked their way through to such a decided consciousness break entirely with religion, whose God no longer finds any place alongside their “Man,” and, as they (see below) themselves scuttle the ship of State, so too they crumble away that “morality” which flourishes only in the State, and logically have no right to use even its name any further. For what this “critical” party calls morality is very positively distinguished from the so-called “civic or political morality,” and must appear to the citizen like an “insensate and unbridled liberty.” But at bottom it has only the advantage of the “purity of the principle,” which, freed from its defilement with the religious, has now reached universal power in its clarified definiteness as “humanity.”
Therefore one should not wonder that the name “morality” is retained along with others, like freedom, benevolence, self-consciousness, and is only garnished now and then with the addition, a “free” morality — just as, though the civic State is abused, yet the State is to arise again as a “free State,” or, if not even so, yet as a “free society.”
Because this morality completed into humanity has fully settled its accounts with the religion out of which it historically came forth, nothing hinders it from becoming a religion on its own account. For a distinction prevails between religion and morality only so long as our dealings with the world of men are regulated and hallowed by our relation to a superhuman being, or so long as our doing is a doing “for God’s sake.” If, on the other hand, it comes to the point that “man is to man the supreme being,” then that distinction vanishes, and morality, being removed from its subordinate position, is completed into — religion. For then the higher being who had hitherto been subordinated to the highest, Man, has ascended to absolute height, and we are related to him as one is related to the highest being, i.e. religiously. Morality and piety are now as synonymous as in the beginning of Christianity, and it is only because the supreme being has come to be a different one that a holy walk is no longer called a “holy” one, but a “human” one. If morality has conquered, then a complete — change of masters has taken place.
After the annihilation of faith Feuerbach thinks to put in to the supposedly safe harbor of love. “The first and highest law must be the love of man to man. Homo homini Deus est — this is the supreme practical maxim, this is the turning point of the world’s history.” But, properly speaking, only the god is changed — the deus; love has remained: there love to the superhuman God, here love to the human God, to homo as Deus. Therefore man is to me — sacred. And everything “truly human” is to me — sacred! “Marriage is sacred of itself. And so it is with all moral relations. Friendship is and must be sacred for you, and property, and marriage, and the good of every man, but sacred in and of itself. “Haven’t we the priest again there? Who is his God? Man with a great M! What is the divine? The human! Then the predicate has indeed only been changed into the subject, and, instead of the sentence “God is love,” they say “love is divine”; instead of “God has become man,” “Man has become God,” etc. It is nothing more or less than a new — religion. “All moral relations are ethical, are cultivated with a moral mind, only where of themselves (without religious consecration by the priest’s blessing) they are counted religious.” Feuerbach’s proposition, “Theology is anthropology,” means only “religion must be ethics, ethics alone is religion.”
Altogether Feuerbach accomplishes only a transposition of subject and predicate, a giving of preference to the latter. But, since he himself says, “Love is not (and has never been considered by men) sacred through being a predicate of God, but it is a predicate of God because it is divine in and of itself,” he might judge that the fight against the predicates themselves, against love and all sanctities, must be commenced. How could he hope to turn men away from God when he left them the divine? And if, as Feuerbach says, God himself has never been the main thing to them, but only his predicates, then he might have gone on leaving them the tinsel longer yet, since the doll, the real kernel, was left at any rate. He recognizes, too, that with him it is “only a matter of annihilating an illusion”; he thinks, however, that the effect of the illusion on men is “downright ruinous, since even love, in itself the truest, most inward sentiment, becomes an obscure, illusory one through religiousness, since religious love loves man [Literally “the man”] only for God’s sake, therefore loves man only apparently, but in truth God only.” Is this different with moral love? Does it love the man, this man for this man’s sake, or for morality’s sake, and so — for homo homini Deus — for God’s sake?
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The wheels in the head have a number of other formal aspects, some of which it may be useful to indicate here.
Thus self-renunciation is common to the holy with the unholy, to the pure and the impure. The impure man renounces all “better feelings,” all shame, even natural timidity, and follows only the appetite that rules him. The pure man renounces his natural relation to the world (“renounces the world”) and follows only the “desire” which rules him. Driven by the thirst for money, the avaricious man renounces all admonitions of conscience, all feeling of honor, all gentleness and all compassion; he puts all considerations out of sight; the appetite drags him along. The holy man behaves similarly. He makes himself the “laughing-stock of the world,” is hard-hearted and “strictly just”; for the desire drags him along. As the unholy man renounces himself before Mammon, so the holy man renounces himself before God and the divine laws. We are now living in a time when the shamelessness of the holy is every day more and more felt and uncovered, whereby it is at the same time compelled to unveil itself, and lay itself bare, more and more every day. Have not the shamelessness and stupidity of the reasons with which men antagonize the “progress of the age” long surpassed all measure and all expectation? But it must be so. The self-renouncers must, as holy men, take the same course that they do so as unholy men; as the latter little by little sink to the fullest measure of self-renouncing vulgarity and lowness, so the former must ascend to the most dishonorable exaltation. The mammon of the earth and the God of heaven both demand exactly the same degree of — self-renunciation. The low man, like the exalted one, reaches out for a “good” — the former for the material good, the latter for the ideal, the so-called “supreme good”; and at last both complete each other again too, as the “materially-minded” man sacrifices everything to an ideal phantasm, his vanity, and the “spiritually-minded” man to a material gratification, the life of enjoyment.
Those who exhort men to “unselfishness”[uneigennützigkeit, literally “un-self-benefitingness”] think they are saying an uncommon deal. What do they understand by it? Probably something like what they understand by “self-renunciation.” But who is this self that is to be renounced and to have no benefit? It seems that you yourself are supposed to be it. And for whose benefit is unselfish self-renunciation recommended to you? Again for yourbenefit and behoof, only that through unselfishness you are procuring your “true benefit.”
You are to benefit yourself, and yet you are not to seek your benefit.
People regard as unselfish the benefactor of men, a Francke who founded the orphan asylum, an O’Connell who works tirelessly for his Irish people; but also the fanatic who, like St. Boniface, hazards his life for the conversion of the heathen, or, like Robespierre,” sacrifices everything to virtue — like Körner, dies for God, king, and fatherland. Hence, among others, O’Connell’s opponents try to trump up against him some selfishness or mercenariness, for which the O’Connell fund seemed to give them a foundation; for, if they were successful in casting suspicion on his “unselfishness,” they would easily separate him from his adherents.
Yet what could they show further than that O’Connell was working for another end than the ostensible one? But, whether he may aim at making money or at liberating the people, it still remains certain, in one case as in the other, that he is striving for an end, and that his end; selfishness here as there, only that his national self-interest would be beneficial to others too, and so would be for the common interest.
Now, do you suppose unselfishness is unreal and nowhere extant? On the contrary, nothing is more ordinary! One may even call it an article of fashion in the civilized world, which is considered so indispensable that, if it costs too much in solid material, people at least adorn themselves with its tinsel counterfeit and feign it. Where does unselfishness begin? Right where an end ceases to be our end and our property, which we, as owners, can dispose of at pleasure; where it becomes a fixed end or a — fixed idea; where it begins to inspire, enthuse, fantasize us; in short, where it passes into our stubbornness and becomes our — master. One is not unselfish so long as he retains the end in his power; one becomes so only at that “Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise,” the fundamental maxim of all the possessed; one becomes so in the case of a sacred end, through the corresponding sacred zeal.
I am not unselfish so long as the end remains my own, and I, instead of giving myself up to be the blind means of its fulfillment, leave it always an open question. My zeal need not on that account be slacker than the most fanatical, but at the same time I remain toward it frostily cold, unbelieving, and its most irreconcilable enemy; I remain its judge, because I am its owner.
Unselfishness grows rank as far as possessedness reaches, as much on possessions of the devil as on those of a good spirit; there vice, folly, etc.; here humility, devotion, etc.
Where could one look without meeting victims of self-renunciation? There sits a girl opposite me, who perhaps has been making bloody sacrifices to her soul for ten years already. Over the buxom form droops a deathly-tired head, and pale cheeks betray the slow bleeding away of her youth. Poor child, how often the passions may have beaten at your heart, and the rich powers of youth have demanded their right! When your head rolled in the soft pillow, how awakening nature quivered through your limbs, the blood swelled your veins, and fiery fancies poured the gleam of voluptuousness into your eyes! Then appeared the ghost of the soul and its eternal bliss. You were terrified, your hands folded themselves, your tormented eyes turned their look upward, you — prayed. The storms of nature were hushed, a calm glided over the ocean of your appetites. Slowly the weary eyelids sank over the life extinguished under them, the tension crept out unperceived from the rounded limbs, the boisterous waves dried up in the heart, the folded hands themselves rested a powerless weight on the unresisting bosom, one last faint “Oh dear!” moaned itself away, and — the soul was at rest. You fell asleep, to awake in the morning to a new combat and a new — prayer. Now the habit of renunciation cools the heat of your desire, and the roses of your youth are growing pale in the — chlorosis of your heavenliness. The soul is saved, the body may perish! O Lais, O Ninon, how well you did to scorn this pale virtue! One free grisette against a thousand virgins grown gray in virtue!
The fixed idea may also be perceived as “maxim,” “principle,” “standpoint,” etc. Archimedes, to move the earth, asked for a standpoint outside it. Men sought continually for this standpoint, and every one seized upon it as well as he was able. This foreign standpoint is the world of mind, of ideas, thoughts, concepts, essences; it is heaven. Heaven is the “standpoint” from which the earth is moved, earthly doings surveyed and — despised. To assure to themselves heaven, to occupy the heavenly standpoint firmly and for ever — how painfully and tirelessly humanity struggled for this!
Christianity has aimed to deliver us from a life determined by nature, from the appetites as actuating us, and so has meant that man should not let himself be determined by his appetites. This does not involve the idea that he was not to have appetites, but that the appetites were not to have him, that they were not to become fixed, uncontrollable, indissoluble. Now, could not what Christianity (religion) contrived against the appetites be applied by us to its own precept that mind (thought, conceptions, ideas, faith) must determine us; could we not ask that neither should mind, or the conception, the idea, be allowed to determine us, to become fixed and inviolable or “sacred”? Then it would end in the dissolution of mind, the dissolution of all thoughts, of all conceptions. As we there had to say, “We are indeed to have appetites, but the appetites are not to have us,” so we should now say, “We are indeed to have mind, but mind is not to have us.” If the latter seems lacking in sense, think e.g. of the fact that with so many a man a thought becomes a “maxim,” whereby he himself is made prisoner to it, so that it is not he that has the maxim, but rather it that has him. And with the maxim he has a “permanent standpoint” again. The doctrines of the catechism become our principles before we find it out, and no longer brook rejection. Their thought, or — mind, has the sole power, and no protest of the “flesh” is further listened to. Nevertheless it is only through the “flesh” that I can break tyranny of mind; for it is only when a man hears his flesh along with the rest of him that he hears himself wholly, and it is only when he wholly hears himself that he is a hearing or rational[vernünftig, derived from vernehmen, to hear] being. The Christian does not hear the agony of his enthralled nature, but lives in “humility”; therefore he does not grumble at the wrong which befalls his person; he thinks himself satisfied with the “freedom of the spirit.” But, if the flesh once takes the floor, and its tone is “passionate,” “indecorous,” “not well-disposed,” “spiteful” (as it cannot be otherwise), then he thinks he hears voices of devils, voices against the spirit (for decorum, passionlessness, kindly disposition, and the like, is — spirit), and is justly zealous against them. He could not be a Christian if he were willing to endure them. He listens only to morality, and slaps unmorality in the mouth; he listens only to legality, and gags the lawless word. The spirit of morality and legality holds him a prisoner; a rigid, unbending master. They call that the “mastery of the spirit” — it is at the same time the standpoint of the spirit.
And now whom do the ordinary liberal gentlemen mean to make free? Whose freedom is it that they cry out and thirst for? The spirit’s! That of the spirit of morality, legality, piety, the fear of God. That is what the anti-liberal gentlemen also want, and the whole contention between the two turns on a matter of advantage — whether the latter are to be the only speakers, or the former are to receive a “share in the enjoyment of the same advantage.” The spirit remains the absolute lord for both, and their only quarrel is over who shall occupy the hierarchical throne that pertains to the “Viceregent of the Lord.” The best of it is that one can calmly look upon the stir with the certainty that the wild beasts of history will tear each other to pieces just like those of nature; their putrefying corpses fertilize the ground for — our crops.
We shall come back later to many another wheel in the head — e.g., those of vocation, truthfulness, love, etc.
* * *
When one’s own is contrasted with what is imparted to him, there is no use in objecting that we cannot have anything isolated, but receive everything as a part of the universal order, and therefore through the impression of what is around us, and that consequently we have it as something “imparted”; for there is a great difference between the feelings and thoughts which are aroused in me by other things and those which are given to me. God, immortality, freedom, humanity, etc. are drilled into us from childhood as thoughts and feelings which move our inner being more or less strongly, either ruling us without our knowing it, or sometimes in richer natures manifesting themselves in systems and works of art; but are always not aroused, but imparted, feelings, because we must believe in them and cling to them. That an Absolute existed, and that it must be taken in, felt, and thought by us, was settled as a faith in the minds of those who spent all the strength of their mind on recognizing it and setting it forth. The feeling for the Absolute exists there as an imparted one, and thenceforth results only in the most manifold revelations of its own self. So in Klopstock the religious feeling was an imparted one, which in the Messiad simply found artistic expression. If, on the other hand, the religion with which he was confronted had been for him only an incitation to feeling and thought, and if he had known how to take an attitude completely his own toward it, then there would have resulted, instead of religious inspiration, a dissolution and consumption of the religion itself. Instead of that, he only continued in mature years his childish feelings received in childhood, and squandered the powers of his manhood in decking out his childish trifles.
The difference is, then, whether feelings are imparted to me or only aroused. Those which are aroused are my own, egoistic, because they are not as feelings drilled into me, dictated to me, and pressed upon me; but those which are imparted to me I receive, with open arms — I cherish them in me as a heritage, cultivate them, and am possessed by them. Who is there that has never, more or less consciously, noticed that our whole education is calculated to produce feelings in us, i.e. impart them to us, instead of leaving their production to ourselves however they may turn out? If we hear the name of God, we are to feel veneration; if we hear that of the prince’s majesty, it is to be received with reverence, deference, submission; if we hear that of morality, we are to think that we hear something inviolable; if we hear of the Evil One or evil ones, we are to shudder. The intention is directed to these feelings, and he who e.g. should hear with pleasure the deeds of the “bad” would have to be “taught what’s what” with the rod of discipline. Thus stuffed with imparted feelings, we appear before the bar of majority and are “pronounced of age.” Our equipment consists of “elevating feelings, lofty thoughts, inspiring maxims, eternal principles,” etc. The young are of age when they twitter like the old; they are driven through school to learn the old song, and, when they have this by heart, they are declared of age.
We must not feel at every thing and every name that comes before us what we could and would like to feel thereat; e.g. at the name of God we must think of nothing laughable, feel nothing disrespectful, it being prescribed and imparted to us what and how we are to feel and think at mention of that name.
That is the meaning of the care of souls — that my soul or my mind be tuned as others think right, not as I myself would like it. How much trouble does it not cost one, finally to secure to oneself a feeling of one’s own at the mention of at least this or that name, and to laugh in the face of many who expect from us a holy face and a composed expression at their speeches. What is imparted is alien to us, is not our own, and therefore is “sacred,” and it is hard work to lay aside the “sacred dread of it.”
Today one again hears “seriousness” praised, “seriousness in the presence of highly important subjects and discussions,” “German seriousness,” etc. This sort of seriousness proclaims clearly how old and grave lunacy and possession have already become. For there is nothing more serious than a lunatic when he comes to the central point of his lunacy; then his great earnestness incapacitates him for taking a joke. (See madhouses.)
The historical reflections on our Mongolism which I propose to insert episodically at this place are not given with the claim of thoroughness, or even of approved soundness, but solely because it seems to me that they may contribute toward making the rest clear.
The history of the world, whose shaping properly belongs altogether to the Caucasian race, seems till now to have run through two Caucasian ages, in the first of which we had to work out and work off our innate negroidity; this was followed in the second by Mongoloidity (Chineseness), which must likewise be terribly made an end of. Negroidity represents antiquity, the time of dependence on things (on cocks’ eating, birds’ flight, on sneezing, on thunder and lightning, on the rustling of sacred trees, etc.); Mongoloidity the time of dependence on thoughts, the Christian time. Reserved for the future are the words, “I am the owner of the world of things, I am the owner of the world of mind.”
In the negroid age fall the campaigns of Sesostris and the importance of Egypt and of northern Africa in general. To the Mongoloid age belong the invasions of the Huns and Mongols, up to the Russians.
The value of me cannot possibly be rated high so long as the hard diamond of the not-me bears so enormous a price as was the case both with God and with the world. The not-me is still too stony and indomitable to be consumed and absorbed by me; rather, men only creep about with extraordinary bustle on this immovable entity, on this substance, like parasitic animals on a body from whose juices they draw nourishment, yet without consuming it. It is the bustle of vermin, the assiduity of Mongolians. Among the Chinese, we know, everything remains as it used to be, and nothing “essential” or “substantial” suffers a change; all the more actively do they work away at that which remains, which bears the name of the “old,” “ancestors,” etc.
Accordingly, in our Mongolian age all change has been only reformatory or ameliorative, not destructive or consuming and annihilating. The substance, the object, remains. All our assiduity was only the activity of ants and the hopping of fleas, jugglers’ tricks on the immovable tight-rope of the objective, corvée -service under the leadership of the unchangeable or “eternal.” The Chinese are doubtless the most positive nation, because totally buried in precepts; but neither has the Christian age come out from the positive, i.e. from “limited freedom,” freedom “within certain limits.” In the most advanced stage of civilization this activity earns the name of scientific activity, of working on a motionless presupposition, a hypothesis that is not to be upset.
In its first and most unintelligible form morality shows itself as habit. To act according to the habit and usage (mores) of one’s country — is to be moral there. Therefore pure moral action, clear, unadulterated morality, is most straightforwardly practiced in China; they keep to the old habit and usage, and hate each innovation as a crime worthy of death. For innovation is the deadly enemy of habit, of the old, of permanence. In fact, too, it admits of no doubt that through habit man secures himself against the obtrusiveness of things, of the world, and founds a world of his own in which alone he is and feels at home, builds himself a heaven. Why, heaven has no other meaning than that it is man’s proper home, in which nothing alien regulates and rules him any longer, no influence of the earthly any longer makes him himself alien; in short, in which the dross of the earthly is thrown off, and the combat against the world has found an end — in which, therefore, nothing is any longer denied him. Heaven is the end of abnegation, it is free enjoyment. There man no longer denies himself anything, because nothing is any longer alien and hostile to him. But now habit is a “second nature,” which detaches and frees man from his first and original natural condition, in securing him against every casualty of it. The fully elaborated habit of the Chinese has provided for all emergencies, and everything is “looked out for”; whatever may come, the Chinaman always knows how he has to behave, and does not need to decide first according to the circumstances; no unforeseen case throws him down from the heaven of his rest. The morally habituated and inured Chinaman is not surprised and taken off his guard; he behaves with equanimity (i. e., with equal spirit or temper) toward everything, because his temper, protected by the precaution of his traditional usage, does not lose its balance. Hence, on the ladder of culture or civilization humanity mounts the first round through habit; and, as it conceives that, in climbing to culture, it is at the same time climbing to heaven, the realm of culture or second nature, it really mounts the first round of the — ladder to heaven.
If Mongoldom has settled the existence of spiritual beings — if it has created a world of spirits, a heaven — the Caucasians have wrestled for thousands of years with these spiritual beings, to get to the bottom of them. What were they doing, then, but building on Mongolian ground? They have not built on sand, but in the air; they have wrestled with Mongolism, stormed the Mongolian heaven, Tien. When will they at last annihilate this heaven? When will they at last become really Caucasians, and find themselves? When will the “immortality of the soul,” which in these latter days thought it was giving itself still more security if it presented itself as “immortality of mind,” at last change to the mortality of mind?
It was when, in the industrious struggle of the Mongolian race, men had built a heaven, that those of the Caucasian race, since in their Mongolian complexion they have to do with heaven, took upon themselves the opposite task, the task of storming that heaven of custom, heaven-storming [A German idiom for destructive radicalism] activity. To dig under all human ordinance, in order to set up a new and — better one on the cleared site, to wreck all customs in order to put new and — better customs in their place — their act is limited to this. But is it thus already purely and really what it aspires to be, and does it reach its final aim? No, in this creation of a “better” it is tainted with Mongolism. It storms heaven only to make a heaven again, it overthrows an old power only to legitimate a new power, it only — improves. Nevertheless the point aimed at, often as it may vanish from the eyes at every new attempt, is the real, complete downfall of heaven, customs, etc. — in short, of man secured only against the world, of the isolation or inwardness of man. Through the heaven of culture man seeks to isolate himself from the world, to break its hostile power. But this isolation of heaven must likewise be broken, and the true end of heaven-storming is the — downfall of heaven, the annihilation of heaven. Improving and reforming is the Mongolism of the Caucasian, because thereby he is always getting up again what already existed — to wit, a precept, a generality, a heaven. He harbors the most irreconcilable enmity to heaven, and yet builds new heavens daily; piling heaven on heaven, he only crushes one by another; the Jews’ heaven destroys the Greeks’, the Christians’ the Jews’, the Protestants’ the Catholics’, etc. — If the heaven-storming men of Caucasian blood throw off their Mongolian skin, they will bury the emotional man under the ruins of the monstrous world of emotion, the isolated man under his isolated world, the paradisiacal man under his heaven. And heaven is the realm of spirits, the realm of freedom of the spirit.
The realm of heaven, the realm of spirits and ghosts, has found its right standing in the speculative philosophy. Here it was stated as the realm of thoughts, concepts, and ideas; heaven is peopled with thoughts and ideas, and this “realm of spirits” is then the true reality.
To want to win freedom for the spirit is Mongolism; freedom of the spirit is Mongolian freedom, freedom of feeling, moral freedom, etc.
We may find the word “morality” taken as synonymous with spontaneity, self-determination. But that is not involved in it; rather has the Caucasian shown himself spontaneous only in spite of his Mongolian morality. The Mongolian heaven, or morals,[The same word that has been translated “custom” several times in this section] remained the strong castle, and only by storming incessantly at this castle did the Caucasian show himself moral; if he had not had to do with morals at all any longer, if he had not had therein his indomitable, continual enemy, the relation to morals would cease, and consequently morality would cease. That his spontaneity is still a moral spontaneity, therefore, is just the Mongoloidity of it — is a sign that in it he has not arrived at himself. “Moral spontaneity” corresponds entirely with “religious and orthodox philosophy,” “constitutional monarchy,” “the Christian State,” “freedom within certain limits,” “the limited freedom of the press,” or, in a figure, to the hero fettered to a sick-bed.
Man has not really vanquished Shamanism and its spooks till he possesses the strength to lay aside not only the belief in ghosts or in spirits, but also the belief in the spirit.
He who believes in a spook no more assumes the “introduction of a higher world” than he who believes in the spirit, and both seek behind the sensual world a supersensual one; in short, they produce and believe another world, and this other world, the product of their mind, is a spiritual world; for their senses grasp and know nothing of another, a non-sensual world, only their spirit lives in it. Going on from this Mongolian belief in the existence of spiritual beings to the point that the proper being of man too is his spirit, and that all care must be directed to this alone, to the “welfare of his soul,” is not hard. Influence on the spirit, so-called “moral influence,” is hereby assured.
Hence it is manifest that Mongolism represents utter absence of any rights of the sensuous, represents non-sensuousness and unnature, and that sin and the consciousness of sin was our Mongolian torment that lasted thousands of years.
But who, then, will dissolve the spirit into its nothing? He who by means of the spirit set forth nature as the null, finite, transitory, he alone can bring down the spirit too to like nullity. I can; each one among you can, who does his will as an absolute I; in a word, the egoist can.
* * *
Before the sacred, people lose all sense of power and all confidence; they occupy a powerless and humble attitude toward it. And yet no thing is sacred of itself, but by my declaring it sacred, by my declaration, my judgment, my bending the knee; in short, by my — conscience.
Sacred is everything which for the egoist is to be unapproachable, not to be touched, outside his power — i.e. above him; sacred, in a word, is every matter of conscience, for “this is a matter of conscience to me” means simply, “I hold this sacred.”
For little children, just as for animals, nothing sacred exists, because, in order to make room for this conception, one must already have progressed so far in understanding that he can make distinctions like “good and bad,” “warranted and unwarranted”; only at such a level of reflection or intelligence — the proper standpoint of religion — can unnatural (i. e., brought into existence by thinking) reverence, “sacred dread,” step into the place of natural fear. To this sacred dread belongs holding something outside oneself for mightier, greater, better warranted, better, etc.; i.e. the attitude in which one acknowledges the might of something alien — not merely feels it, then, but expressly acknowledges it, i.e. admits it, yields, surrenders, lets himself be tied (devotion, humility, servility, submission). Here walks the whole ghostly troop of the “Christian virtues.”
Everything toward which you cherish any respect or reverence deserves the name of sacred; you yourselves, too, say that you would feel a “sacred dread” of laying hands on it. And you give this tinge even to the unholy (gallows, crime, etc.). You have a horror of touching it. There lies in it something uncanny, that is, unfamiliar or not your own.
“If something or other did not rank as sacred in a man’s mind, why, then all bars would be let down to self-will, to unlimited subjectivity!” Fear makes the beginning, and one can make himself fearful to the coarsest man; already, therefore, a barrier against his insolence. But in fear there always remains the attempt to liberate oneself from what is feared, by guile, deception, tricks, etc. In reverence,[Ehrfurcht] on the contrary, it is quite otherwise. Here something is not only feared,[gefürchtet] but also honored [geehrt]: what is feared has become an inward power which I can no longer get clear of; I honor it, am captivated by it and devoted to it, belong to it; by the honor which I pay it I am completely in its power, and do not even attempt liberation any longer. Now I am attached to it with all the strength of faith; I believe. I and what I fear are one; “not I live, but the respected lives in me!” Because the spirit, the infinite, does not allow of coming to any end, therefore it is stationary; it fears dying, it cannot let go its dear Jesus, the greatness of finiteness is no longer recognized by its blinded eye; the object of fear, now raised to veneration, may no longer be handled; reverence is made eternal, the respected is deified. The man is now no longer employed in creating, but in learning (knowing, investigating, etc.), i.e. occupied with a fixed object, losing himself in its depths, without return to himself. The relation to this object is that of knowing, fathoming, basing, not that of dissolution (abrogation, etc.). “Man is to be religious,” that is settled; therefore people busy themselves only with the question how this is to be attained, what is the right meaning of religiousness, etc. Quite otherwise when one makes the axiom itself doubtful and calls it in question, even though it should go to smash. Morality too is such a sacred conception; one must be moral, and must look only for the right “how,” the right way to be so. One dares not go at morality itself with the question whether it is not itself an illusion; it remains exalted above all doubt, unchangeable. And so we go on with the sacred, grade after grade, from the “holy” to the “holy of holies.”
* * *
Men are sometimes divided into two classes: cultured and uncultured. The former, so far as they were worthy of their name, occupied themselves with thoughts, with mind, and (because in the time since Christ, of which the very principle is thought, they were the ruling ones) demanded a servile respect for the thoughts recognized by them. State, emperor, church, God, morality, order, are such thoughts or spirits, that exist only for the mind. A merely living being, an animal, cares as little for them as a child. But the uncultured are really nothing but children, and he who attends only to the necessities of his life is indifferent to those spirits; but, because he is also weak before them, he succumbs to their power, and is ruled by — thoughts. This is the meaning of hierarchy.
Hierarchy is dominion of thoughts, dominion of mind!
We are hierarchic to this day, kept down by those who are supported by thoughts. Thoughts are the sacred.
But the two are always clashing, now one and now the other giving the offence; and this clash occurs, not only in the collision of two men, but in one and the same man. For no cultured man is so cultured as not to find enjoyment in things too, and so be uncultured; and no uncultured man is totally without thoughts. In Hegel it comes to light at last what a longing for things even the most cultured man has, and what a horror of every “hollow theory” he harbors. With him reality, the world of things, is altogether to correspond to the thought, and no concept is to be without reality. This caused Hegel’s system to be known as the most objective, as if in it thought and thing celebrated their union. But this was simply the extremest case of violence on the part of thought, its highest pitch of despotism and sole dominion, the triumph of mind, and with it the triumph of philosophy. Philosophy cannot hereafter achieve anything higher, for its highest is the omnipotence of mind, the almightiness of mind.
Spiritual men have taken into their head something that is to be realized. They have concepts of love, goodness, etc., which they would like to see realized; therefore they want to set up a kingdom of love on earth, in which no one any longer acts from selfishness, but each one “from love.” Love is to rule. What they have taken into their head, what shall we call it but — fixed idea? Why, “their head is haunted.” The most oppressive spook is Man. Think of the proverb, “The road to ruin is paved with good intentions.” The intention to realize humanity altogether in oneself, to become altogether man, is of such ruinous kind; here belong the intentions to become good, noble, loving, etc.
In the sixth part of the Denkwürdigkeiten, p. 7, Bruno Bauer says: “That middle class, which was to receive such a terrible importance for modern history, is capable of no self-sacrificing action, no enthusiasm for an idea, no exaltation; it devotes itself to nothing but the interests of its mediocrity; i.e. it remains always limited to itself, and conquers at last only through its bulk, with which it has succeeded in tiring out the efforts of passion, enthusiasm, consistency — through its surface, into which it absorbs a part of the new ideas.” And (p. 6) “It has turned the revolutionary ideas, for which not it, but unselfish or impassioned men sacrificed themselves, solely to its own profit, has turned spirit into money. — That is, to be sure, after it had taken away from those ideas their point, their consistency, their destructive seriousness, fanatical against all egoism.” These people, then, are not self-sacrificing, not enthusiastic, not idealistic, not consistent, not zealots; they are egoists in the usual sense, selfish people, looking out for their advantage, sober, calculating, etc.
Who, then, is “self-sacrificing?”[Literally, “sacrificing”; the German word has not the prefix “self.”] In the full sense, surely, he who ventures everything else for one thing, one object, one will, one passion. Is not the lover self-sacrificing who forsakes father and mother, endures all dangers and privations, to reach his goal? Or the ambitious man, who offers up all his desires, wishes, and satisfactions to the single passion, or the avaricious man who denies himself everything to gather treasures, or the pleasure-seeker, etc.? He is ruled by a passion to which he brings the rest as sacrifices.
And are these self-sacrificing people perchance not selfish, not egoist? As they have only one ruling passion, so they provide for only one satisfaction, but for this the more strenuously, they are wholly absorbed in it. Their entire activity is egoistic, but it is a one-sided, unopened, narrow egoism; it is possessedness.
“Why, those are petty passions, by which, on the contrary, man must not let himself be enthralled. Man must make sacrifices for a great idea, a great cause!” A “great idea,” a “good cause,” is, it may be, the honor of God, for which innumerable people have met death; Christianity, which has found its willing martyrs; the Holy Catholic Church, which has greedily demanded sacrifices of heretics; liberty and equality, which were waited on by bloody guillotines.
He who lives for a great idea, a good cause, a doctrine, a system, a lofty calling, may not let any worldly lusts, any self-seeking interest, spring up in him. Here we have the concept of clericalism, or, as it may also be called in its pedagogic activity, school-masterliness; for the idealists play the schoolmaster over us. The clergyman is especially called to live to the idea and to work for the idea, the truly good cause. Therefore the people feel how little it befits him to show worldly haughtiness, to desire good living, to join in such pleasures as dancing and gaming — in short, to have any other than a “sacred interest.” Hence, too, doubtless, is derived the scanty salary of teachers, who are to feel themselves repaid by the sacredness of their calling alone, and to “renounce” other enjoyments.
Even a directory of the sacred ideas, one or more of which man is to look upon as his calling, is not lacking. Family, fatherland, science, etc., may find in me a servant faithful to his calling.
Here we come upon the old, old craze of the world, which has not yet learned to do without clericalism — that to live and work for an idea is man’s calling, and according to the faithfulness of its fulfillment his human worth is measured.
This is the dominion of the idea; in other words, it is clericalism. Thus Robespierre and St. Just were priests through and through, inspired by the idea, enthusiasts, consistent instruments of this idea, idealistic men. So St. Just exclaims in a speech, “There is something terrible in the sacred love of country; it is so exclusive that it sacrifices everything to the public interest without mercy, without fear, without human consideration. It hurls Manlius down the precipice; it sacrifices its private inclinations; it leads Regulus to Carthage, throws a Roman into the chasm, and sets Marat, as a victim of his devotion, in the Pantheon.”
Now, over against these representatives of ideal or sacred interests stands a world of innumerable “personal” profane interests. No idea, no system, no sacred cause is so great as never to be outrivaled and modified by these personal interests. Even if they are silent momentarily, and in times of rage, and fanaticism, yet they soon come uppermost again through “the sound sense of the people.” Those ideas do not completely conquer till they are no longer hostile to personal interests, till they satisfy egoism.
The man who is just now crying herrings in front of my window has a personal interest in good sales, and, if his wife or anybody else wishes him the like, this remains a personal interest all the same. If, on the other hand, a thief deprived him of his basket, then there would at once arise an interest of many, of the whole city, of the whole country, or, in a word, of all who abhor theft; an interest in which the herring-seller’s person would become indifferent, and in its place the category of the “robbed man” would come into the foreground. But even here all might yet resolve itself into a personal interest, each of the partakers reflecting that he must concur in the punishment of the thief because unpunished stealing might otherwise become general and cause him too to lose his own. Such a calculation, however, can hardly be assumed on the part of many, and we shall rather hear the cry that the thief is a “criminal.” Here we have before us a judgment, the thief’s action receiving its expression in the concept “crime.” Now the matter stands thus: even if a crime did not cause the slightest damage either to me or to any of those in whom I take an interest, I should nevertheless denounce it. Why? Because I am enthusiastic for morality, filled with the idea of morality; what is hostile to it I everywhere assail. Because in his mind theft ranks as abominable without any question, Proudhon, e.g., thinks that with the sentence “Property is theft” he has at once put a brand on property. In the sense of the priestly, theft is always a crime, or at least a misdeed.
Here the personal interest is at an end. This particular person who has stolen the basket is perfectly indifferent to my person; it is only the thief, this concept of which that person presents a specimen, that I take an interest in. The thief and man are in my mind irreconcilable opposites; for one is not truly man when one is a thief; one degrades Man or “humanity” in himself when one steals. Dropping out of personal concern, one gets into philanthropy, friendliness to man, which is usually misunderstood as if it was a love to men, to each individual, while it is nothing but a love of Man, the unreal concept, the spook. It is not tous anthropous, men, but ton anthropon, Man, that the philanthropist carries in his heart. To be sure, he cares for each individual, but only because he wants to see his beloved ideal realized everywhere.
So there is nothing said here of care for me, you, us; that would be personal interest, and belongs under the head of “worldly love.” Philanthropy is a heavenly, spiritual, a — priestly love. Man must be restored in us, even if thereby we poor devils should come to grief. It is the same priestly principle as that famous fiat justitia, pereat mundus; man and justice are ideas, ghosts, for love of which everything is sacrificed; therefore, the priestly spirits are the “self-sacrificing” ones.
He who is infatuated with Man leaves persons out of account so far as that infatuation extends, and floats in an ideal, sacred interest. Man, you see, is not a person, but an ideal, a spook.
Now, things as different as possible can belong to Man and be so regarded. If one finds Man’s chief requirement in piety, there arises religious clericalism; if one sees it in morality, then moral clericalism raises its head. On this account the priestly spirits of our day want to make a “religion” of everything, a “religion of liberty,” “religion of equality,” etc., and for them every idea becomes a “sacred cause,” e.g. even citizenship, politics, publicity, freedom of the press, trial by jury, etc.
Now, what does “unselfishness” mean in this sense? Having only an ideal interest, before which no respect of persons avails!
The stiff head of the worldly man opposes this, but for centuries has always been worsted at least so far as to have to bend the unruly neck and “honor the higher power”; clericalism pressed it down. When the worldly egoist had shaken off a higher power (e.g. the Old Testament law, the Roman pope, etc.), then at once a seven times higher one was over him again, e.g. faith in the place of the law, the transformation of all laymen into divines in place of the limited body of clergy, etc. His experience was like that of the possessed man into whom seven devils passed when he thought he had freed himself from one.
In the passage quoted above, all ideality is denied to the middle class. It certainly schemed against the ideal consistency with which Robespierre wanted to carry out the principle. The instinct of its interest told it that this consistency harmonized too little with what its mind was set on, and that it would be acting against itself if it were willing to further the enthusiasm for principle. Was it to behave so unselfishly as to abandon all its aims in order to bring a harsh theory to its triumph? It suits the priests admirably, to be sure, when people listen to their summons, “Cast away everything and follow me,” or “Sell all that thou hast and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Some decided idealists obey this call; but most act like Ananias and Sapphira, maintaining a behavior half clerical or religious and half worldly, serving God and Mammon.
I do not blame the middle class for not wanting to let its aims be frustrated by Robespierre, i.e. for inquiring of its egoism how far it might give the revolutionary idea a chance. But one might blame (if blame were in place here anyhow) those who let their own interests be frustrated by the interests of the middle class. However, will not they likewise sooner or later learn to understand what is to their advantage? August Becker says: “To win the producers (proletarians) a negation of the traditional conception of right is by no means enough. Folks unfortunately care little for the theoretical victory of the idea. One must demonstrate to them ad oculos how this victory can be practically utilized in life.” And (p.32): “You must get hold of folks by their real interests if you want to work upon them.” Immediately after this he shows how a fine looseness of morals is already spreading among our peasants, because they prefer to follow their real interests rather than the commands of morality.
Because the revolutionary priests or schoolmasters served Man, they cut off the heads of men. The revolutionary laymen, those outside the sacred circle, did not feel any greater horror of cutting off heads, but were less anxious about the rights of Man than about their own.
How comes it, though, that the egoism of those who affirm personal interest, and always inquire of it, is nevertheless forever succumbing to a priestly or schoolmasterly (i. e. an ideal) interest? Their person seems to them too small, too insignificant — and is so in fact — to lay claim to everything and be able to put itself completely in force. There is a sure sign of this in their dividing themselves into two persons, an eternal and a temporal, and always caring either only for the one or only for the other, on Sunday for the eternal, on the work-day for the temporal, in prayer for the former, in work for the latter. They have the priest in themselves, therefore they do not get rid of him, but hear themselves lectured inwardly every Sunday.
How men have struggled and calculated to get at a solution regarding these dualistic essences! Idea followed upon idea, principle upon principle, system upon system, and none knew how to keep down permanently the contradiction of the “worldly” man, the so-called “egoist.” Does not this prove that all those ideas were too feeble to take up my whole will into themselves and satisfy it? They were and remained hostile to me, even if the hostility lay concealed for a considerable time. Will it be the same with self-ownership? Is it too only an attempt at mediation? Whatever principle I turned to, it might be to that of reason, I always had to turn away from it again. Or can I always be rational, arrange my life according to reason in everything? I can, no doubt, strive after rationality, I can love it, just as I can also love God and every other idea. I can be a philosopher, a lover of wisdom, as I love God. But what I love, what I strive for, is only in my idea, my conception, my thoughts; it is in my heart, my head, it is in me like the heart, but it is not I, I am not it.
To the activity of priestly minds belongs especially what one often hears called “moral influence.”
Moral influence takes its start where humiliation begins; yes, it is nothing else than this humiliation itself, the breaking and bending of the temper [Muth] down to humility.[Demuth] If I call to some one to run away when a rock is to be blasted, I exert no moral influence by this demand; if I say to a child “You will go hungry if you will not eat what is put on the table,” this is not moral influence. But, if I say to it, “You will pray, honor your parents, respect the crucifix, speak the truth, for this belongs to man and is man’s calling,” or even “this is God’s will,” then moral influence is complete; then a man is to bend before the calling of man, be tractable, become humble, give up his will for an alien one which is set up as rule and law; he is to abase himself before something higher : self-abasement. “He that abaseth himself shall be exalted.” Yes, yes, children must early be made to practice piety, godliness, and propriety; a person of good breeding is one into whom “good maxims” have been instilled and impressed, poured in through a funnel, thrashed in and preached in.
If one shrugs his shoulders at this, at once the good wring their hands despairingly, and cry: “But, for heaven’s sake, if one is to give children no good instruction, why, then they will run straight into the jaws of sin, and become good-for-nothing hoodlums!” Gently, you prophets of evil. Good-for-nothing in your sense they certainly will become; but your sense happens to be a very good-for-nothing sense. The impudent lads will no longer let anything be whined and chattered into them by you, and will have no sympathy for all the follies for which you have been raving and driveling since the memory of man began; they will abolish the law of inheritance; they will not be willing to inherit your stupidities as you inherited them from your fathers; they destroy inherited sin. If you command them, “Bend before the Most High,” they will answer: “If he wants to bend us, let him come himself and do it; we, at least, will not bend of our own accord.” And, if you threaten them with his wrath and his punishment, they will take it like being threatened with the bogie-man. If you are no more successful in making them afraid of ghosts, then the dominion of ghosts is at an end, and nurses’ tales find no — faith.
And is it not precisely the liberals again that press for good education and improvement of the educational system? For how could their liberalism, their “liberty within the bounds of law,” come about without discipline? Even if they do not exactly educate to the fear of God, yet they demand the fear of Man all the more strictly, and awaken “enthusiasm for the truly human calling” by discipline.
* * *
A long time passed away, in which people were satisfied with the fancy that they had the truth, without thinking seriously whether perhaps they themselves must be true to possess the truth. This time was the Middle Ages. With the common consciousness — i.e. the consciousness which deals with things, that consciousness which has receptivity only for things, or for what is sensuous and sense-moving — they thought to grasp what did not deal with things and was not perceptible by the senses. As one does indeed also exert his eye to see the remote, or laboriously exercise his hand till its fingers have become dexterous enough to press the keys correctly, so they chastened themselves in the most manifold ways, in order to become capable of receiving the supersensual wholly into themselves. But what they chastened was, after all, only the sensual man, the common consciousness, so-called finite or objective thought. Yet as this thought, this understanding, which Luther decries under the name of reason, is incapable of comprehending the divine, its chastening contributed just as much to the understanding of the truth as if one exercised the feet year in and year out in dancing, and hoped that in this way they would finally learn to play the flute. Luther, with whom the so-called Middle Ages end, was the first who understood that the man himself must become other than he was if he wanted to comprehend truth — must become as true as truth itself. Only he who already has truth in his belief, only he who believes in it, can become a partaker of it; i.e. only the believer finds it accessible and sounds its depths. Only that organ of man which is able to blow can attain the further capacity of flute-playing, and only that man can become a partaker of truth who has the right organ for it. He who is capable of thinking only what is sensuous, objective, pertaining to things, figures to himself in truth only what pertains to things. But truth is spirit, stuff altogether inappreciable by the senses, and therefore only for the “higher consciousness,” not for that which is “earthly-minded.”
With Luther, accordingly, dawns the perception that truth, because it is a thought, is only for the thinking man. And this is to say that man must henceforth take an utterly different standpoint, to wit, the heavenly, believing, scientific standpoint, or that of thought in relation to its object, the — thought — that of mind in relation to mind. Consequently: only the like apprehend the like. “You are like the spirit that you understand.”
Because Protestantism broke the medieval hierarchy, the opinion could take root that hierarchy in general had been shattered by it, and it could be wholly overlooked that it was precisely a “reformation,” and so a reinvigoration of the antiquated hierarchy. That medieval hierarchy had been only a weakly one, as it had to let all possible barbarism of unsanctified things run on uncoerced beside it, and it was the Reformation that first steeled the power of hierarchy. If Bruno Bauer thinks: “As the Reformation was mainly the abstract rending of the religious principle from art, State, and science, and so its liberation from those powers with which it had joined itself in the antiquity of the church and in the hierarchy of the Middle Ages, so too the theological and ecclesiastical movements which proceeded from the Reformation are only the consistent carrying out of this abstraction of the religious principle from the other powers of humanity,” I regard precisely the opposite as correct, and think that the dominion of spirits, or freedom of mind (which comes to the same thing), was never before so all-embracing and all-powerful, because the present one, instead of rending the religious principle from art, State, and science, lifted the latter altogether out of secularity into the “realm of spirit” and made them religious.
Luther and Descartes have been appropriately put side by side in their “He who believes in God” and “I think, therefore I am” (cogito, ergo sum). Man’s heaven is thought — mind. Everything can be wrested from him, except thought, except faith. Particular faith, like faith of Zeus, Astarte, Jehovah, Allah, may be destroyed, but faith itself is indestructible. In thought is freedom. What I need and what I hunger for is no longer granted to me by any grace, by the Virgin Mary. by intercession of the saints, or by the binding and loosing church, but I procure it for myself. In short, my being (the sum) is a living in the heaven of thought, of mind, a cogitare. But I myself am nothing else than mind, thinking mind (according to Descartes), believing mind (according to Luther). My body I am not; my flesh may suffer from appetites or pains. I am not my flesh, but I am mind, only mind.
This thought runs through the history of the Reformation till today.
Only by the more modern philosophy since Descartes has a serious effort been made to bring Christianity to complete efficacy, by exalting the “scientific consciousness.” to be the only true and valid one. Hence it begins with absolute doubt, dubitare, with grinding common consciousness to atoms, with turning away from everything that “mind,” “thought,” does not legitimate. To it Nature counts for nothing; the opinion of men, their “human precepts,” for nothing: and it does not rest till it has brought reason into everything, and can say “The real is the rational, and only the rational is the real.” Thus it has at last brought mind, reason, to victory; and everything is mind, because everything is rational, because all nature, as well as even the most perverse opinions of men, contains reason; for “all must serve for the best,” i. e., lead to the victory of reason.
Descartes’s dubitare contains the decided statement that only cogitare, thought, mind — is. A complete break with “common” consciousness, which ascribes reality to irrational things! Only the rational is, only mind is! This is the principle of modern philosophy, the genuine Christian principle. Descartes in his own time discriminated the body sharply from the mind, and “the spirit ‘tis that builds itself the body,” says Goethe.
But this philosophy itself, Christian philosophy, still does not get rid of the rational, and therefore inveighs against the “merely subjective,” against “fancies, fortuities, arbitrariness,” etc. What it wants is that the divine should become visible in everything, and all consciousness become a knowing of the divine, and man behold God everywhere; but God never is, without the devil.
For this very reason the name of philosopher is not to be given to him who has indeed open eyes for the things of the world, a clear and undazzled gaze, a correct judgment about the world, but who sees in the world just the world, in objects only objects, and, in short, everything prosaically as it is; but he alone is a philosopher who sees, and points out or demonstrates, heaven in the world, the supernal in the earthly, the — divine in the mundane. The former may be ever so wise, there is no getting away from this:
What wise men see not by their wisdom’s art
Is practiced simply by a childlike heart.
It takes this childlike heart, this eye for the divine, to make a philosopher. The first-named man has only a “common” consciousness, but he who knows the divine, and knows how to tell it, has a “scientific” one. On this ground Bacon was turned out of the realm of philosophers. And certainly what is called English philosophy seems to have got no further than to the discoveries of so-called “clear heads,” e.g. Bacon and Hume. The English did not know how to exalt the simplicity of the childlike heart to philosophic significance, did not know how to make — philosophers out of childlike hearts. This is as much as to say, their philosophy was not able to become theological or theology, and yet it is only as theology that it can really live itself out, complete itself. The field of its battle to the death is in theology. Bacon did not trouble himself about theological questions and cardinal points.
Cognition has its object in life. German thought seeks, more than that of others, to reach the beginnings and fountain-heads of life, and sees no life till it sees it in cognition itself. Descartes’s cogito, ergo sum has the meaning “One lives only when one thinks.” Thinking life is called “intellectual life”! Only mind lives, its life is the true life. Then, just so in nature only the “eternal laws,” the mind or the reason of nature, are its true life. In man, as in nature, only the thought lives; everything else is dead! To this abstraction, to the life of generalities or of that which is lifeless, the history of mind had to come. God, who is spirit, alone lives. Nothing lives but the ghost.
How can one try to assert of modern philosophy or modern times that they have reached freedom, since they have not freed us from the power of objectivity? Or am I perhaps free from a despot when I am not afraid of the personal potentate, to be sure, but of every infraction of the loving reverence which I fancy I owe him? The case is the same with modern times. They only changed the existing objects, the real ruler, into conceivedobjects, i.e. into ideas, before which the old respect not only was not lost, but increased in intensity. Even if people snapped their fingers at God and the devil in their former crass reality, people devoted only the greater attention to their ideas. “They are rid of the Evil One; evil is left.” The decision having once been made not to let oneself be imposed on any longer by the extant and palpable, little scruple was felt about revolting against the existing State or overturning the existing laws; but to sin against the idea of the State, not to submit to the idea of law, who would have dared that? So one remained a “citizen” and a “law-respecting,” loyal man; yes, one seemed to himself to be only so much more law-respecting, the more rationalistically one abrogated the former defective law in order to do homage to the “spirit of the law.” In all this the objects had only suffered a change of form; they had remained in their preponderance and pre-eminence; in short, one was still involved in obedience and possessedness, lived in reflection, and had an object on which one reflected, which one respected, and before which one felt reverence and fear. One had done nothing but transform the things into conceptions of the things, into thoughts and ideas, whereby one’s dependence became all the more intimate and indissoluble. So, e.g., it is not hard to emancipate oneself from the commands of parents, or to set aside the admonitions of uncle and aunt, the entreaties of brother and sister; but the renounced obedience easily gets into one’s conscience, and the less one does give way to the individual demands, because he rationalistically, by his own reason, recognizes them to be unreasonable, so much the more conscientiously does he hold fast to filial piety and family love, and so much the harder is it for him to forgive himself a trespass against the conception which he has formed of family love and of filial duty. Released from dependence as regards the existing family, one falls into the more binding dependence on the idea of the family; one is ruled by the spirit of the family. The family consisting of John, Maggie, etc., whose dominion has become powerless, is only internalized, being left as “family” in general, to which one just applies the old saying, “We must obey God rather than man,” whose significance here is this: “I cannot, to be sure, accommodate myself to your senseless requirements, but, as my ‘family,’ you still remain the object of my love and care”; for “the family” is a sacred idea, which the individual must never offend against. — And this family internalized and desensualized into a thought, a conception, now ranks as the “sacred,” whose despotism is tenfold more grievous because it makes a racket in my conscience. This despotism is broken when the conception, family, also becomes a nothing to me The Christian dicta, “Woman, what have I to do with thee?” “I am come to stir up a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother,” and others, are accompanied by something that refers us to the heavenly or true family, and mean no more than the State’s demand, in case of a collision between it and the family, that we obey its commands.
The case of morality is like that of the family. Many a man renounces morals, but with great difficulty the conception, “morality.” Morality is the “idea” of morals, their intellectual power, their power over the conscience; on the other hand, morals are too material to rule the mind, and do not fetter an “intellectual” man, a so-called independent, a “freethinker.”
The Protestant may put it as he will, the “holy [heilig] Scripture,” the “Word of God,” still remains sacred [heilig] for him. He for whom this is no longer “holy” has ceased to — be a Protestant. But herewith what is “ordained” in it, the public authorities appointed by God, etc., also remain sacred for him. For him these things remain indissoluble, unapproachable, “raised above all doubt”; and, as doubt, which in practice becomes a buffeting, is what is most man’s own, these things remain “raised” above himself. He who cannot get away from them will — believe; for to believe in them is to be boundto them. Through the fact that in Protestantism the faith becomes a more inward faith, the servitude has also become a more inward servitude; one has taken those sanctities up into himself, entwined them with all his thoughts and endeavors, made them a “matter of conscience”, constructed out of them a “sacred duty” for himself. Therefore what the Protestant’s conscience cannot get away from is sacred to him, and conscientiousness most clearly designates his character.
Protestantism has actually put a man in the position of a country governed by secret police. The spy and eavesdropper, “conscience,” watches over every motion of the mind, and all thought and action is for it a “matter of conscience,” i. e., police business. This tearing apart of man into “natural impulse” and “conscience” (inner populace and inner police) is what constitutes the Protestant. The reason of the Bible (in place of the Catholic “reason of the church”) ranks as sacred, and this feeling and consciousness that the word of the Bible is sacred is called — conscience. With this, then, sacredness is “laid upon one’s conscience.” If one does not free himself from conscience, the consciousness of the sacred, he may act unconscientiously indeed, but never consciencelessly.
The Catholic finds himself satisfied when he fulfills the command; the Protestant acts according to his “best judgment and conscience.” For the Catholic is only a layman; the Protestant is himself a clergyman.[Geistlicher, literally “spiritual man”] Just this is the progress of the Reformation period beyond the Middle Ages, and at the same time its curse — that the spiritual became complete.
What else was the Jesuit moral philosophy than a continuation of the sale of indulgences? Only that the man who was relieved of his burden of sin now gained also an insight into the remission of sins, and convinced himself how really his sin was taken from him, since in this or that particular case (casuists) it was so clearly no sin at all that he committed. The sale of indulgences had made all sins and transgressions permissible, and silenced every movement of conscience. All sensuality might hold sway, if it was only purchased from the church. This favoring of sensuality was continued by the Jesuits, while the strictly moral, dark, fanatical, repentant, contrite, praying Protestants (as the true completers of Christianity, to be sure) acknowledged only the intellectual and spiritual man. Catholicism, especially the Jesuits, gave aid to egoism in this way, found involuntary and unconscious adherents within Protestantism itself, and saved us from the subversion and extinction of sensuality. Nevertheless the Protestant spirit spreads its dominion farther and farther; and, as, beside it the “divine,” the Jesuit spirit represents only the “diabolic” which is inseparable from everything divine, the latter can never assert itself alone, but must look on and see how in France, e.g., the Philistinism of Protestantism wins at last, and mind is on top.
Protestantism is usually complimented on having brought the mundane into repute again, e.g. marriage, the State, etc. But the mundane itself as mundane, the secular, is even more indifferent to it than to Catholicism, which lets the profane world stand, yes, and relishes its pleasures, while the rational, consistent Protestant sets about annihilating the mundane altogether, and that simply by hallowing it. So marriage has been deprived of its naturalness by becoming sacred, not in the sense of the Catholic sacrament, where it only receives its consecration from the church and so is unholy at bottom, but in the sense of being something sacred in itself to begin with, a sacred relation. Just so the State, also. Formerly the pope gave consecration and his blessing to it and its princes, now the State is intrinsically sacred, majesty is sacred without needing the priest’s blessing. The order of nature, or natural law, was altogether hallowed as “God’s ordinance.” Hence it is said e.g. in the Augsburg Confession, Art. II: “So now we reasonably abide by the saying, as the jurisconsults have wisely and rightly said: that man and woman should be with each other is a natural law. Now, if it is a natural law, then it is God’s ordinance, therefore implanted in nature, and therefore a divine law also.” And is it anything more than Protestantism brought up to date, when Feuerbach pronounces moral relations sacred, not as God’s ordinance indeed, but, instead, for the sake of the spirit that dwells in them? “But marriage as a free alliance of love, of course — is sacred of itself, by the nature of the union that is formed here. Thatmarriage alone is a religious one that is a true one, that corresponds to the essence of marriage, love. And so it is with all moral relations. They are ethical, are cultivated with a moral mind, only where they rank as religious of themselves. True friendship is only where the limits of friendship are preserved with religious conscientiousness, with the same conscientiousness with which the believer guards the dignity of his God. Friendship is and must be sacred for you, and property, and marriage, and the good of every man, but sacred in and of itself.”
That is a very essential consideration. In Catholicism the mundane can indeed be consecrated or hallowed, but it is not sacred without this priestly blessing; in Protestantism, on the contrary, mundane relations are sacred of themselves, sacred by their mere existence. The Jesuit maxim, “the end hallows the means,” corresponds precisely to the consecration by which sanctity is bestowed. No means are holy or unholy in themselves, but their relation to the church, their use for the church, hallows the means. Regicide was named as such; if it was committed for the church’s behoof, it could be certain of being hallowed by the church, even if the hallowing was not openly pronounced. To the Protestant, majesty ranks as sacred; to the Catholic only that majesty which is consecrated by the pontiff can rank as such; and it does rank as such to him only because the pope, even though it be without a special act, confers this sacredness on it once for all. If he retracted his consecration, the king would be left only a “man of the world or layman,” an “unconsecrated” man, to the Catholic.
If the Protestant seeks to discover a sacredness in the sensual itself, that he may then be linked only to what is holy, the Catholic strives rather to banish the sensual from himself into a separate domain, where it, like the rest of nature, keeps its value for itself. The Catholic church eliminated mundane marriage from its consecrated order, and withdrew those who were its own from the mundane family; the Protestant church declared marriage and family ties to be holy, and therefore not unsuitable for its clergymen.
A Jesuit may, as a good Catholic, hallow everything. He needs only, e.g., to say to himself: “I as a priest am necessary to the church, but serve it more zealously when I appease my desires properly; consequently I will seduce this girl, have my enemy there poisoned, etc.; my end is holy because it is a priest’s, consequently it hallows the means.” For in the end it is still done for the benefit of the church. Why should the Catholic priest shrink from handing Emperor Henry VII the poisoned wafer for the — church’s welfare?
The genuinely churchly Protestants inveighed against every “innocent pleasure,” because only the sacred, the spiritual, could be innocent. What they could not point out the holy spirit in, the Protestants had to reject — dancing, the theatre, ostentation (e.g. in the church), and the like.
Compared with this puritanical Calvinism, Lutheranism is again more on the religious, spiritual, track — is more radical. For the former excludes at once a great number of things as sensual and worldly, and purifies the church; Lutheranism, on the contrary, tries to bring spirit into all things as far as possible, to recognize the holy spirit as an essence in everything, and so to hallow everything worldly. (“No one can forbid a kiss in honor.” The spirit of honor hallows it.) Hence it was that the Lutheran Hegel (he declares himself such in some passage or other: he “wants to remain a Lutheran”) was completely successful in carrying the idea through everything. In everything there is reason, i.e. holy spirit, or “the real is rational.” For the real is in fact everything; as in each thing, e.g., each lie, the truth can be detected: there is no absolute lie, no absolute evil, etc.
Great “works of mind” were created almost solely by Protestants, as they alone were the true disciples and consummators of mind.
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How little man is able to control! He must let the sun run its course, the sea roll its waves, the mountains rise to heaven. Thus he stands powerless before the uncontrollable. Can he keep off the impression that he is helpless against this gigantic world? It is a fixed law to which he must submit, it determines his fate. Now, what did pre-Christian humanity work toward? Toward getting rid of the irruptions of the destinies, not letting oneself be vexed by them. The Stoics attained this in apathy, declaring the attacks of nature indifferent, and not letting themselves be affected by them. Horace utters the famous Nil admirari, by which he likewise announces the indifference of the other, the world; it is not to influence us, not to rouse our astonishment. And that impavidum ferient ruinae expresses the very same imperturbability as Ps. 46.3: “We do not fear, though the earth should perish.” In all this there is room made for the Christian proposition that the world is empty, for the Christian contempt of the world.
The imperturbable spirit of “the wise man,” with which the old world worked to prepare its end, now underwent an inner perturbation against which no ataraxia, no Stoic courage, was able to protect it. The spirit, secured against all influence of the world, insensible to its shocks and exalted above its attacks, admiring nothing, not to be disconcerted by any downfall of the world — foamed over irrepressibly again, because gases (spirits) were evolved in its own interior, and, after the mechanical shock that comes from without had become ineffective, chemical tensions, that agitate within, began their wonderful play.
In fact, ancient history ends with this — that I have struggled till I won my ownership of the world. “All things have been delivered to me by my Father” (Matt. 11. 27). It has ceased to be overpowering, unapproachable, sacred, divine, for me; it is undeified, and now I treat it so entirely as I please that, if I cared, I could exert on it all miracle-working power, i. e., power of mind — remove mountains, command mulberry trees to tear themselves up and transplant themselves into the sea (Luke 17.6), and do everything possible, thinkable : “All things are possible to him who believes.” I am the lord of the world, mine is the “glory.” [Herrlichkeit, which, according to its derivation, means “lordliness”] The world has become prosaic, for the divine has vanished from it: it is my property, which I dispose of as I (to wit, the mind) choose.
When I had exalted myself to be the owner of the world, egoism had won its first complete victory, had vanquished the world, had become worldless, and put the acquisitions of a long age under lock and key.
The first property, the first “glory,” has been acquired!
But the lord of the world is not yet lord of his thoughts, his feelings, his will: he is not lord and owner of the spirit, for the spirit is still sacred, the “Holy Spirit,” and the “worldless” Christian is not able to become “godless.” If the ancient struggle was a struggle against the world, the medieval (Christian) struggle is a struggle against self, the mind; the former against the outer world, the latter against the inner world. The medieval man is the man “whose gaze is turned inward,” the thinking, meditative
All wisdom of the ancients is the science of the world, all wisdom of the moderns is the science of God.
The heathen (Jews included) got through with the world; but now the thing was to get through with self, the spirit, too; i.e. to become spiritless or godless.
For almost two thousand years we have been working at subjecting the Holy Spirit to ourselves, and little by little we have torn off and trodden under foot many bits of sacredness; but the gigantic opponent is constantly rising anew under a changed form and name. The spirit has not yet lost its divinity, its holiness, its sacredness. To be sure, it has long ceased to flutter over our heads as a dove; to be sure, it no longer gladdens its saints alone, but lets itself be caught by the laity too; but as spirit of humanity, as spirit of Man, it remains still an alien spirit to me or you, still far from becoming our unrestricted property, which we dispose of at our pleasure. However, one thing certainly happened, and visibly guided the progress of post-Christian history: this one thing was the endeavor to make the Holy Spirit more human, and bring it nearer to men, or men to it. Through this it came about that at last it could be conceived as the “spirit of humanity,” and, under different expressions like “idea of humanity, mankind, humaneness, general philanthropy,” appeared more attractive, more familiar, and more accessible.
Would not one think that now everybody could possess the Holy Spirit, take up into himself the idea of humanity, bring mankind to form and existence in himself?
No, the spirit is not stripped of its holiness and robbed of its unapproachableness, is not accessible to us, not our property; for the spirit of humanity is not my spirit. My ideal it may be, and as a thought I call it mine; the thought of humanity is my property, and I prove this sufficiently by propounding it quite according to my views, and shaping it today so, tomorrow otherwise; we represent it to ourselves in the most manifold ways. But it is at the same time an entail, which I cannot alienate nor get rid of.
Among many transformations, the Holy Spirit became in time the “absolute idea”, which again in manifold refractions split into the different ideas of philanthropy, reasonableness, civic virtue, etc.
But can I call the idea my property if it is the idea of humanity, and can I consider the Spirit as vanquished if I am to serve it, “sacrifice myself” to it? Antiquity, at its close, had gained its ownership of the world only when it had broken the world’s overpoweringness and “divinity,” recognized the world’s powerlessness and “vanity.”
The case with regard to the spirit corresponds. When I have degraded it to a spook and its control over me to a cranky notion, then it is to be looked upon as having lost its sacredness, its holiness, its divinity, and then I use it, as one uses nature at pleasure without scruple.
The “nature of the case,” the “concept of the relationship,” is to guide me in dealing with the case or in contracting the relation. As if a concept of the case existed on its own account, and was not rather the concept that one forms of the case! As if a relation which we enter into was not, by the uniqueness of those who enter into it, itself unique! As if it depended on how others stamp it! But, as people separated the “essence of Man” from the real man, and judged the latter by the former, so they also separate his action from him, and appraise it by “human value.” Concepts are to decide everywhere, concepts to regulate life, concepts to rule. This is the religious world, to which Hegel gave a systematic expression, bringing method into the nonsense and completing the conceptual precepts into a rounded, firmly-based dogmatic. Everything is sung according to concepts, and the real man, i.e. I, am compelled to live according to these conceptual laws. Can there be a more grievous dominion of law, and did not Christianity confess at the very beginning that it meant only to draw Judaism’s dominion of law tighter? (“Not a letter of the law shall be lost!”)
Liberalism simply brought other concepts on the carpet; human instead of divine, political instead of ecclesiastical, “scientific” instead of doctrinal, or, more generally, real concepts and eternal laws instead of “crude dogmas” and precepts.
Now nothing but mind rules in the world. An innumerable multitude of concepts buzz about in people’s heads, and what are those doing who endeavor to get further? They are negating these concepts to put new ones in their place! They are saying: “You form a false concept of right, of the State, of man, of liberty, of truth, of marriage, etc.; the concept of right, etc., is rather that one which we now set up.” Thus the confusion of concepts moves forward.
The history of the world has dealt cruelly with us, and the spirit has obtained an almighty power. You must have regard for my miserable shoes, which could protect your naked foot, my salt, by which your potatoes would become palatable, and my state-carriage, whose possession would relieve you of all need at once; you must not reach out after them. Man is to recognize the independence of all these and innumerable other things: they are to rank in his mind as something that cannot be seized or approached, are to be kept away from him. He must have regard for it, respect it; woe to him if he stretches out his fingers desirously; we call that “being light-fingered!”
How beggarly little is left us, yes, how really nothing! Everything has been removed, we must not venture on anything unless it is given us; we continue to live only by the grace of the giver. You must not pick up a pin, unless indeed you have got leave to do so. And got it from whom? From respect! Only when this lets you have it as property, only when you can respect it as property, only then may you take it. And again, you are not to conceive a thought, speak a syllable, commit an action, that should have their warrant in you alone, instead of receiving it from morality or reason or humanity. Happy unconstraint of the desirous man, how mercilessly people have tried to slay you on the altar of constraint!
But around the altar rise the arches of a church, and its walls keep moving further and further out. What they enclose is sacred. You can no longer get to it, no longer touch it. Shrieking with the hunger that devours you, you wander round about these walls in search of the little that is profane, and the circles of your course keep growing more and more extended. Soon that church will embrace the whole world, and you be driven out to the extreme edge; another step, and the world of the sacred has conquered: you sink into the abyss. Therefore take courage while it is yet time, wander about no longer in the profane where now it is dry feeding, dare the leap, and rush in through the gates into the sanctuary itself. If you devour the sacred, you have made it your own! Digest the sacramental wafer, and you are rid of it!