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lEifix^ fEBttton. 









The whole of this vohime lias been translated by Miss 
E. E. Constance Jones. 



HUMAN LIFE (Der Weltlauf). 


3 EC. 

1. History, and the Microcosmic Order, 

2. Effects of Cosmic and Terrestrial Influences upon the Human 

Soul — Parallelism between the Macrocosm and the Micro 
cosm, ...... 

3. Natural Features of a Country, and Character of the Inhabitants 

— Life with Nature, ..... 

4. Relation of Man to Nature, .... 








1. Temperaments — The Meaning of Temperament, . . 

2. Differences of Temperament — The Successive Stages of Human 

Life — Connection between the Vital Feelings which have a 
Corporeal and those which have a Mental Origin, 

3. Differences between the Sexes — General Mental Peculiarities of 

Women, ....... 

4 . Hereditj', and Original Difference of Endowment, . . 






1. Conscience and Moral Taste — Untrustworthiness of Natural 

Disposition, ....... 

2. Food — Cannibalism — Cruelty and Bloodthirstiness, 


Cf. Book YI. ch. i. § 1, especially pageis 4, 6. 



3. Cleanness of Body and of Mind, • . • • 

4. Modesty — Disparagement and Exaltation of Nature — Eealisra 

of Individual Perfection, and Idealism of Work — Social 
Customs, . . . . . • • 






1. Nature and Culture — Home {die Heimat), . , . 76-81 

2. The Life of Hunters — Of Sliepherds— Permanent Occupation of 

Land, and Agriculture — Home {das Haus), . , . 81-88 

3. FamUy Life, 88-91 

4. Society — Division of Labour — Callings of Individuals — Simple 

and Complex Structure of Society — Civilisation, . . 91-96 

5. Civilisation— History, ...... 96-100 



1. Doubts concerning the Ends and Aims of Human Life, . 

2. Man as a Transitory Natural Product— Spontaneous Judgments, 

and Reflections upon them — Connections with the Super- 
sensuous World, ...... 

3. Superstition, ....... 

4. Religiousness — Unsteadiness and Incoherence of Human Eflfort, 
Conclusion, ....... 






1. Obscurity of the Beginnings and of the Future of Man's Life, . 125-127 

2. Nature and Creation, ...... 127-130 

8. Steadiness of Development in Nature, and Arbitrary Divine 

Interference— The Sphere of Nature and the Sphere of 

History, 130-137 

4. The Genesis in Nature of Living Beings and of Man — Impossi- 
bility of setting this out in Detail, .... 187-143 





1. "What is History? ..... ^ 

2. History as the Education of Humanity, 

3. History as the Development of the Idea of Humanity— Con- 

ditions necessary to make such a Development valuable — 
Concerning Reverence for Forms instead of for Content, 

4. History as a Divine Poem, ..... 

5. Denial of any Worth in Historical Development — Condition of 

the Unity of Humanity and of the Worth of its History, 







1. Theories as to the Origin of Civilisation, . . . 177-179 

2. Theories of a Divine Origin, ..... 179-183 

3. Organic Origin of Civilisation — Instance oi Language, . 183-188 

4. Importance of Individual Persons, .... 188-192 

5. Laws of the Historic Order of the World — Statistics — Deter- 

minism and Freedom, ..... 192-202 

6. Uniformities and Contrasts of Development — The Decay of 

Nations — Influence of Transmission and Tradition, . . 202-209 



1. Common Origin of Mankind — Assumption of Plurality of 

Origin, ..,.-. 

2. Variety of Mental Endowment, 

3. Guidance of Development by External Conditions, 

4. Geographical and Climatic Furtherances and Hiudrances, 
6. Examples of Peoples in a State of Nature, . . 












1. Stationary Civilisation and Nomadic Life in the East, . . 24?^-255 

2. Semitic and Indo-Germanic Nations, .... 255-257 

3. Ancient Greece, . . . . . • . 257-263 

4. Ancient Rome, ....... 263-267 

5. The Hebrews and Christianity, ..... 267-273 

6. Character and Early History of the Germanic Nations, . 274-277 

7. The Germanic Nations in the Middle Ages, . . . 277-286 

8. 9. The Characteristics, the Problems, and the DilBculties of 

Modern Times, 286-301 




TRUTH AND SCIENCE {das Wissen). 

1. Stages of Philosophic Thought — Mythologic Fancy, 

2. Cultured Reflection, ...... 

3. Development of Greek Thought, .... 

4. 5. Science — Over- Estimation of Logical Forms and Confusion of 

them with Matter-of-Fact, ..... 

6. Philosophic Problems of Christian Thought — Limitation of 

Thought to the Elaboration of Experiences — The Exact 
Sciences, ....... 

7, 8. The Principal Standpoints of Philosophy, and its Efforts in 

trying to reach a Knowledge of the Nature of Things — 
Idealism and Realism, ..... 

805 311 






1. Pleasure and the Means to Pleasure — The Patriarchate, , 861-36S 

2. The Adventures of the Heroes — The Liberal Culture of A uti- 

quity — Slavery, ...... 868-376 

3. The Growth and Preponderance of the Industrial Classes, . 376-380 

4. Economic Character of the Present Time, and its Causes and 

Effects, ....... 380-885 

5. The Modern Forms of Labour and their Social Consequences, . 385-397 



1. Art as an "Organism," and as the Expression of Human 

Feeling, ....... 398-399 

2. Eastern Vastness — Hebrew Sublimity, .... 399-404 

3. Greek Beauty, ....... 404-416 

4. Roman Elegance and Dignity, ..... 416-424 

5. The Individuality and Fantasticalness of the Middle Ages- 

Romance, . . . . . . . 424-432 

6. Beauty, Art, and iEslhcticism in Modem Life, . , 432-443 



1. Comparison of Eastern with Western Life and Thought, . 444-448 

2,3. Nature and Social Life as Sources of Religious Ideas, .^ ..a Aar 

8, 4. Preponderance of the Cosmological Element in Heathendom, J 



5, 6. And of the Moral Element in Judaism and Christianity, 

7. Christianity and the Church — Returning Preponderain'o 

Cosmology in the New Philosophical Dogmatism, . 

8. Life and the Church, ..... 







1. The Family, and Tribal States— The Kingdoms of the East 

Paternal Despotism, . 

2. The Political Constructions of the Greeks, 

3. Civic Life and Law in Rome, 

4. Political Life and Society in the Middle Ages, 

5. The Autonomy of Society, 

6. National and Historical Law, 
Practicable and Impracticable Postulates : — 

7. Duty of Society as regards its Members, 

8. State and Society, 

9. Constitutional Government — Socialism, 
10. International Relations, 






1. Introiluction, ....... 571-574 

2. Three Elemental Forms of Knowledge and the Problem of tlieir 

Connection, ....... 574-578 

3. The Being of Things a State of Relatedness, . . . 578-587 

4. Comparability of the Natures of Things, . . . 587-594 

5. Necessity of the Substantial Connection of Finite Multiplicity 

in the Unity of the Infinite, ..... 594-599 

6. Summary, ....... 599-601 



1. The Doctrine of the Ideality of Space, , . . 602-610 

2. The Correspondence of the Real Intellectual and of the Apparent 

Spatial Places of Things, 611-617 

3. Removal of even the Intellectual Relations between Things ; 

Sole Reality of Reciprocal Action — Notion of Action, . 617-623 

4. Summary, ....... 624-625 




J. Contradictions in the Notion of Things and in their Formal 
Determinations, ...... 

2. Idealistic Denial of Things— All that is Real is Mind, . 

3, 4. "What it is that we must seek to Construct, and What it is 

that we have to recognise as immediately given, . 
5. Summary,' .....•• 





1. Faith and Thought, ..... 

2. Evidence of the Existence of God, ... 

3. Impersonal Forms of the Supreme Being, 

4. Ego and Non-Ego — Objections to the Possibility of tht l^srsoii 

ality of the Infinite, ..... 

5. Somiuary, ...... 






Didiculties in this Chapter, ..... 689-690 

The Source of the Eternal Truths and their Relation to God, . 690-699 

The Creation as Will, as Act, as Emanation, . . . 699-707 

Its Preservation and Government ; and the Idealitj' of Time, . 707-713 

6. The Origin of Real Things— Evil and Sin, . . . 713-719 

Good, Good Things, and Love — The Unity of the llirce 

Principles in Love, ...... 719-726 

Conclusion, ....... 727-729 

■ I have tried to make plain the antithesis in this Chapter between (1) real, 
Reale, Realitdt, and (2) wirklich, Wirkliche, Wirklichkeit, by writing Eeal, 
Realneas in the text for (1). As this way of marking the difference did not 
occur to me until the Chapter was in print, the question of making previous 
Chapters correspond could not be considered. 






History, and the Microcosmic Order — The Effects of Cosmic and Terrestrial 
Influences upon the Human Soul — Parallelism between the Macrocosm and 
the Microcosm — Natural Features of a Country, and Character of the 
Inhabitants — Life with Nature — Relation of Man to Nature. 

S l_~r>YGONE times which are beyond the reach of our 
-»~-^ own recollection seem to imagination extremely 
obscure. All the serious interests of life and all the trifling 
and folly by which we ourselves are stirred, are so closely 
bound up with clear and definite images of our surroundings, 
that we feel perplexed and astray when we would picture to 
ourselves the same varied wealth of existence in times divided 
from the present by an infinite series of changes by which the 
background and accessories of life have been transformed 
We almost fancy that in those olden days the sun must have 
shone with a different radiance, that the voices of Nature 
must have spoken in different tones, and the world have lain 
in twilight as contrasted with our present life of noontide 
brightness. History indeed depicts for us on this sober back- 
ground great deeds and mighty events, but is for the most 
part silent concerning the small causes which combined 
to produce them. How the heroes of classic times were 
housed and clothed, what was their manner of speech, and 
how they filled up the blank intervals of time between 
their mighty deeds, is left for the most part to be determined 
by our own wandering fancy. There are but few periods of 
human history which have left us, in works of art, speaking 
monuments from which, besides the glory of heroic deeds, 
we also learn something of the stirrings of men's minds, the 

philosophic views, the conflict and the joy from which sprang 



those great results. But however truly and naturally poetry 
may reproduce for us many of the features of everyday life, 
it must naturally leave many gaps, and it is most difficult 
for us to ascribe to the thoughts of such far-off personage.3 
in their treatment of common things that familiarity and 
supple ease upon the vividness and completeness of which our 
own sense of life principally depends. Every delineation of 
long past times which we attempt seems to us true in propor- 
tion as it emphasizes particular points of importance, jumping 
from one to another — and this not only because, on account 
of our lack of historical knowledge, we are unable to clothe 
the skeleton of narrative with the flesh and blood by which 
its different parts were connected in reality, but also because 
it is extremely difficult for us to get rid of the notion that in 
those old days everything was said and done after a stilted 
fashion that would 'have suited the immobility of marble 
statues. If in the writings of antiquity we come across some 
graceful trait instinct with life, some touch of unaffected fun, 
some vivid description of scenery sketched in a few careless 
strokes, how great, even now, is the concourse of wondering 
interpreters calling upon us to admire this classical revelation of 
genuine human nature ! As if we could have expected anything 
else — as if we might not have supposed that a cultivated people 
of antiquity would be susceptible to all the minor charms and 
beauties of life, and would have found expressions for their 
emotions as adequate as those which are familiar to the mouth 
of every modem booby ! No doubt the course of history has 
by degrees produced variations of colouring in human imagi- 
nation, and greatly widened its scope by increasing know- 
ledge of men's earthly abiding-place, by intercourse between 
nations, and by gradually enlarging acquaintance with the 
world of Ideas ; but not the wliole of life is included in this 
forward movement ; there is a region of human existence in 
which, at all times, the same ends, motives, and customs recur 
without any alteration. All the generations that have passed 
away have dreamed and observed, loved and hated, hoped and 
despaired, worked and played, just as we do, and those who 


come after us will do the same. The same passions which 
move us, the same intriguing calculations of greed and ambi- 
tion, the same hidden motives, or the same unreserved devotion 
of affection, which we praise or blame in one another — all 
these have from the earliest times worked in human hearts. 
And though external results exhibit various forms and dimen- 
sions according to the direction and degree of culture at any- 
given time, there is still no doubt that we are mistaken if, 
putting faith in a foolish analogy, we imagine that we can 
find among primitive men nothing but the inconsiderateness 
and empty-headedness of children. 

This it is that we mean by the Microeosmic Order — ■ 
the impulses ever fresh and ever the same, out of which 
have sprung the many-hued blossoms of history, the eternal 
cycle in which human fates revolve. It is indeed true that 
this order may not be strictly a cycle, but that the apparent 
recurrence may include some hidden progress. Still even we, 
who live in times in which at any rate the outward splendour 
of progress is unfolded more vividly than ever before our eyes, 
even we may say to ourselves that the true value of our inner 
life is but slowly if at all increased by all this. There arise 
no fresh springs of enjoyment which had not flowed before, or 
if indeed the springs are new, yet that which they distribute is 
still but the old pleasure for which our nature is designed; our 
cognition may be enlarged boundlessly, but the results almost 
always lead us back to thoughts which men have had long 
ago. It seems as though former ages had extracted from 
different and perhaps poorer material those same treasures of 
happy or exalted feeling which we with far greater expenditure 
of scientific and technical power imagine we are discovering 
anew. In the ordinary view all our labour is for the most 
part only a more extensive preparation for life and not itself 
a fuller life, though indeed we frankly confess that this is not 
altogether true. Progressive culture is not unlike a majestic 
waterfall which, seen from a distance, seems to promise great 
things, and which yet when we look nearer does not appear 
to shower upon the soil of life a greater amount of refreshing 


and really fertilizing spray than was afforded for the refresh- 
ment and satisfaction of the quieter life of antiquity by the 
more modest stream of a less splendid civilisation. 

We cannot renounce the hope that in this flux and reflux 
of human development there may be found a tendency towards 
some finite goal ; but before we attempt to trace a plan of 
historic progress and training of the human race, we would 
linger for a while over the stationary aspect which is at first 
presented to us by the struggles and the destiny of men. 
The spectacle is one which may be regarded with very 
various feelings. We cannot without an emotion of melan- 
choly see the same evil, the same passions, the same seeds of 
all wickedness recurring in every age ; but, on the other hand, 
it is a consoling thought that every age has also had access to 
everything in which men's hearts can find real and ^^ssential 
happiness, and that every age in its own fashion — a fashion 
which satisfied it — had part in that higher world which has 
indeed become clearer to us, but is not on that account 
grasped more strongly by our minds. Our intention for the 
present is to seek in the nature of human intelligence, and in 
the ever-recurring conditions of man's life, the ready-made 
instruments with which Providence works in history ; to seek 
out, that is, the natural order of the world, regarding which 
we may in a later chapter ask. To what end does the Supreme 
Will bend the course of its uniform progress ? 

§ 2, Such being our aim, attention is in the first place 
attracted to the conditions of external Nature under which we 
are placed, and their varied influence upon us, whether 
obvious or unobserved. In so far as these circumstances 
affect our corporeal life or provide us with means for the 
satisfaction of our wants, their action is on the whole plain, and 
in a more detailed consideration than we can here attempt, 
nothing more would be required than to establish in special 
cases the relative worth for civilisation of each one of these 
influences. But reflection is very commonly disposed to take 
a more profound view of the relation between man and Nature, 
and instead of measuring the gain or harm which we receive 


from the latter, or seeking to find the direction which it gives 
to our action, people prefer to speak of an immediate and 
more mysterious sympathy which binds man to Nature, and 
especially to his dwelling-place the earth. Indeed, they prefer 
to speak of the earth as not merely his dwelling-place, but 
compare the relation between him and it to the intimate 
relation subsisting between mother and child, or between a 
parasite and the organism which supports it ; they speak of 
the powers and tendencies to development which are inherent 
in the earth as being repeated under more significant forms in 
the bodies of men ; of every internal fluctuation of telluric 
life as finding an echo in changes of human organization ; and 
say that what earth herself vainly struggles to express, receives 
a spiritualized manifestation in the constitution of conscious 

We have already remarked at length upon the great extent 
to which the character of organic beings inhabiting the surface 
of a planet, is determined by the special nature of the planet 
itself — in respect, that is, of the materials which compose it, 
and the conditions of mobility and capacity of combination 
which it prescribes to them. We have referred to a view accord- 
ins to which the connection between the earth and man is 
different from that now indicated ; a view according to which 
not only is man forced by the nature of his material abiding- 
place to use particular means for the attainment of his own 
ends, not only is he provided by its continual influences with 
fresh material which the organism appropriates and elaborates 
after its own fashion, but moreover the whole of this human 
life is after all only a mystical repetition of the life of the 
earth, and of its internal tremors. This view seems to owe 
its convincing power to the strange inclination which men so 
often have to regard what is unintelligible and indemonstrable 
as having pre-eminent truth and profundity, especially in 
cases where the unintelligibility is such that a sort of 
mysterious awe may attach to it. There is no occasion to 
deny any one of the actual facts which are usually brought 
together with reference to the reciprocal relation which we 


are discussing, but we may be sure that it is only a capricious 
liking for obscurity which requires that they should be judged 
from this particular point of view. 

How often do such perverse considerations begin with a 
reference to that alternation of sleep and waking in men, 
which is in sympathy with the day and night of the world, 
and to that emotion of dread when darkness sets in from 
which no one is altogether free ! What in fact are night and 
day for the earth ? Is it anything more than an arbitrary 
play of fancy to call the earth asleep because the noise ceases 
which we and the other animals are accustomed to make 
during the day-time ? Or because there are no longer those 
oscillations of ether which by day make it light to our eyes, 
but affect the earth merely by causing a rise of temperature 
which extends only a few inches below the surface ? What 
other activities are there which rest during the night ? Or 
what dread and fear is there in Nature itself, with which we 
are in sympathy ? It is in us that there is light or darkness, 
in us that there is serenity or fear, and neither the one nor 
the other results from our being affected by some pervading 
condition of the earth, but from the fact that alterations of 
outward circumstances, indifferent in themselves, are at one 
time favourable, at another time unfavourable to the require- 
ments of our active nature. Such circumstances act upon 
the sensitive constitution of our mind, which feels not only 
how much but also in what way they aid or hinder us, and 
is able to connect all this with various trains of thought ; 
and these circumstances, so acting, produce mental condi- 
tions which are our own property, and are not mere participa- 
tions in a universal life such as Nature is certainly not capable 
of. How often, too, is it said that with the changing seasons 
of the' year the bodies and souls of individuals suffer from sym- 
pathetic affections, and even that. in the course of geologic ages 
the very nature of men rejoices and mourns with the youth and 
age of the earthly sphere itself; that convulsions of Nature cor- 
respond to all the revolutions of human history ; that the tem- 
perament and national fancy of the inhabitants of any country 


are directly affected by the conformation of its land and the 
prevailing hue of its sky ! We would not deny that these state- 
ments have a certain basis of fact ; but it would be better to 
try and find in each individual case the means by which any 
natural circumstances have produced in organic life an impres- 
sion or an echo of themselves. One gains little more than the 
weird charm of a ghost story by exaggeratingwith devout admira- 
tion what is incommensurable and irrational in these circum- 
stances, instead of trying to remove it by close investigation. 

One cannot think without serious regret of this perversion 
of thought which has, as it were, taken up the mantle of 
astrology. It has not merely delayed the commencement ot 
more exact research, but has moreover introduced a general 
fashion of romancing about phsenomena which is supposed, 
with but little show of reason, to involve some specially pro- 
found understanding of them. It would no doubt be interest- 
ing to investigate historical fluctuations in the bodily and 
mental condition of mankind in their relations to the physical 
alterations of the surface of the earth. The history of epidemics 
teaches us that every visitation of any pestilence encounters 
different receptivity and various modes of reaction in living 
bodies, and we can mark out considerable periods of time 
within which the human frame has a special predisposition to 
sickness of some one particular type. It is probable that the 
same combination of inner and outer conditions which causes 
this striking one-sided susceptibility produces also in persons 
who are in a healthy state some peculiar modification of general 
condition and tone. The higher mental interests of mankind 
might thus at different times be modified bv various emotional 
conditions, sometimes by a relaxed apathetic state, sometimes by 
a state of great and anxious excitability, and it may possibly 
be the fact that the peculiar influences of outward Nature upon 
man in every age have left their traces in the productions of 
that age, in the colouring of its poetry, in the nature of its 
favourite superstitions, in the general direction oi its mtel- 
lectual powers. But the most necessary rule of such inves- 
tigations would be not to try and find what is not there and 


not to over-estimate these influences of Nature as compared with 
the much more obvious influences which are to be sought in 
the uninterrupted transmission by education of the same wants, 
problems, interests, and sorrows from one generation to another, 
and in the solidarity of social life. The assertions of paral- 
lelism between natural and spiritual revolutions are for the 
most part innocent of any such cautious procedure. It is as 
easy to understand how widespread and devastating disease is 
developed on the direct path of immediately causal influence, 
by a great social upheaval with all its train of unusual bodily 
and mental exertion, privations, and wretched substitutes for 
the ordinary means of subsistence, as it is to understand how, 
conversely, striking natural events, earthquakes, inundations, 
or epidemics have caused social movements to result from 
physical necessities. Accounts of plagues in times most 
remote from one another unite with melancholy unanimity 
in showing us how quickly all the moral obligations of 
order, duty, and affection are dissolved under the influence 
of terror, how excited and terrified imaginations become 
incapable of any sober judgment, and the wildest super- 
stition, alternating with the densest folly, rages unchecked. 
Yet it can hardly be, that any great historical revolution has 
arisen entirely from such a source ; if it were so, the storm of 
revolt would be allayed by the alleviation of the physical 
distress which aroused it. To seek here for any more 
mysterious connection between cosmic and human life is 
but to follow a will-o'-the-wisp. It is easy to bring for- 
ward the facts that the downfall of Grecian civilisation in 
the Peloponnesian war, the last struggles of the Eoman empire, 
the rise of Mohammedanism, the Crusades, the discovery of 
America, and the Eeformati<)n were contemporaneous with de- 
vastating epidemics ; but when these coincidences are adduced, 
it is forgotten that at many other periods of less historical 
importance, and in countries not included in the great stream 
of historical development, similar plagues have sometimes 
raged under like conditions, and sometimes, having first 
arisen under unknown conditions, have spread by means of 


the ordinary channels of communication to districts with the 
social circumstances of which they had originally nothing to 
do. Plague and yellow fever have continued their ravages in 
their native haunts down to recent times without any con- 
nection with great political events, and it is hardly credible 
that an outbreak of cholera in India should have been in 
necessary correspondence with contemporaneous revolutionary 
movements in Paris. 

The same insecurity hovers about our views as to the 
influence of climate upon the character of a people. We 
cannot seriously decide offhand that the backward civilisation 
of negroes is due to the blazing sun that beats down upon 
their heads and makes it impossible for them to gaze upwards, 
and by heating their blood to fever point, inspires them with 
ungoverned passions. Even at the equator the sun is not in the 
zenith day and night ; and when we think of the relaxing and 
yet exciting effect which our own greatest summer lieat has upon 
ourselves, we forget that in consequence of the long acclima- 
tization of the negro this effect may for him have become so 
modified as to be merely one of those pleasures of existence 
which are regarded as matters of course, and are certainly not 
self-evident barriers to the progress of development. The 
monotony of the tropical year in contrast to our changing 
seasons, has also been adduced as another hindrance in the 
way of advanced civilisation. There are undoubtedly present 
vital changes which we as certainly feel, changes produced by 
the transitions of the seasons that cause alterations in our 
bodily economy, but these changes are little known to us in 
detail. The mental effect of these natural circumstances is 
to be found rather in the facts which they present for our 
observation than in the impressions which our senses imme- 
diately receive from them. We learn abundantly from the songs 
of poets how significant for our emotional life are these great 
periodic alternations of decay and resurrection to life, with all 
the hopes and remembrances that attach to their different 
phases. Not only do we here see our own destiny symbolized in 
a thousand images appealing to the senses, but also a deeper 


feeling for the slowly passing phases of human life, and the 
characteristic advantage of each may certainly be connected 
with this clear marking-off of time into divisions. Such 
occasions for thoughtful and self-examining reflection no doubt 
occur less effectively where blossoms and fruit are always 
^rowing and blooming and ripening at the same time as the 
fresh shoots are budding forth ; but even with ourselves the 
impression of human transitoriness is softened by the way in 
which the gaps left by death are unobtrusively filled up 
every moment by creatures newly born into the world. How 
different it would be if the human race, like the vegetable 
life of these climates, all together growing old, or blooming 
in fresh youth, were to die ofif completely in fixed periods 
and be replaced by a new growth ! But in such a case, who 
could deduce the absence of historical recollection and his- 
torical progress among the black races from the absence of 
clearly-defined seasons of the year ? 

The character of the African continent, its isolation and 
inaccessibility, without bays or gulfs, has seemed to many 
to be mirrored in the mental constitution of the negro. We 
cannot deny the influence of this conformation of the land, 
though we may not hold that it consists in this inexplicable 
mirroring. It is to be found in the material hindrances to 
intercourse between nations presented by a wide extent of 
continent without a corresponding supply of navigable rivers, 
and the obstacles to a clear comprehension of their position 
and proximity to one another presented by the absence of any 
large gulfs and of numerous and well-distributed mountain 
ranges. In comparing views of scenery, we feel directly that 
in the simultaneous presentation of a wide extent of country 
there is something that does one good and seems to enlarge 
the soul, and that there is a keen pleasure in being able to 
comprehend in one view a multitude of different but con- 
nected objects, enclosed as it were in a firm network of 
relationships. The notion of being able to reach any place by 
a given amount of movement in a given direction can never 
be a substitute for the peculiar impression of clearness which 


we receive from actually seeing its position with reference to 
other places. The dweller in the wilderness has at any rate 
a boundless horizon spread before him ; in the interior of a 
continent where there are no mountain-tops from which one 
may survey the country, which is otherwise impenetrable to 
the view on account of its luxuriant vegetation, permanent 
obscurity invests even adjoining districts, and fancy here could 
never look with such a far-seeing and penetrating glance into 
the comprehensive connectedness of human life, as it has done 
since ancient times from the favoured shores of the Mediter- 
ranean Sea. Many points could be found there upon the 
mountains, the level coast, and the sea itself, from which one 
could behold at once numerous countries and islands like a 
wreath of many-coloured flowers, and could watch the busy 
traffic which connected them all together. In every case where 
anything complex falls into well-defined groups distinctly 
marked off from one another, a clearer and more intelligible 
picture is presented than where immeasurable continuity 
offers no fixed points of support to the imagination; in this 
way it is that the alternation of land and water in the 
Mediterranean region has much facilitated geographical appre- 
hension, and also at the same time aided a part of our know- 
ledge concerning the relation of man to the universe. But we 
cannot regard these influences nor the hindrances offered to 
commerce by great unbroken extents of continent as being in 
themselves sufficient explanation of the backwardness of the 
negro races ; we ourselves look at these latter circumstances 
chiefly as hindrances to the eager zeal of discoverers ; but 
they could not present really formidable barriers to a steadily 
progressive, long-continued struggle of native tribes unless 
reinforced by other causes. 

§ 3. If the other condition which must be added to the 
favour or disfavour of geographical situation in order to 
explain a small or great degree of progress be sought in the 
character of the country which is reflected sometimes usefully, 
sometimes detrimentally in the mental dispositions of its 
inhabitants, we get upon still more slippery ground, and the 


observations on tins point which we fancy we make do 
certainly contain an extraordinary amount of sesthetic self- 
deception. We are justified in expecting that extreme cold- 
ness and severity of climate will produce dispositions deficient 
in quickness and activity, and that greater warmth and 
uniformity will cause a boundless development of all bodily 
and mental capacities ; and when our conclusions go no further 
than this, they are confirmed by a comparison of different 
nations and the countries which they inhabit. But when we 
go beyond this and think that we find men's special pecu- 
liarities of imagination, civilisation, and mode of thought to be 
in direct and perceptible harmony with the countries in which 
they dwell, we are led astray by the circumstance that a 
country and its inhabitants are ever presented to us in 
conjunction as making one picture, having therefore that 
appearance of intrinsic aesthetic connection which comes to be 
assumed by any fact which is continuously presented to us. 
The Dutchman in Holland seems to us to be suited only to his 
own flat, fertile, lowland home, the North American Indian we 
imagine to be the only fitting denizen of his forests and 
steppes ; but if we see Mynheer in the Sunda Islands, or the 
Anglo-Saxon ■ pioneer in the far west of North America, we 
can hardly say that either the one or the other is in irrecon- 
cilable contradiction with his new surroundings, unlike as 
they are to those of his native place — unless indeed we look 
with an eye prejudiced by recollection. The same ground 
which the ancient Greeks once trod is now pressed by the 
foot of the Turk, and it seems to us that the one race matches 
the physical background just as naturally and harmoniously 
as the other. The physical nature of any country is a whole 
composed of very varied parts, and the nature of its inhabit- 
ants is equally complex. The comparison of two pictures both 
so many-sided and composite is sure to furnish him who is 
seeking to establish a relationship between them with some 
evidence in support of his view, if he has a capacity for 
skilful combination ; it will also furnish without much 
difficulty, to him who seeks them, points enough in which 


there exists an inexplicable contrast between the two. The 
creative power of Nature which produced in India the colossal 
elephant, produced there also a race of men by no means 
equally colossal, but on the contrary surprisingly feeble ; one 
might, however, fancy the cunning and incalculable fierceness 
of its beasts of prey to be repeated in the dispositions of the 
human inhabitants, as some have thought that they saw 
reproduced in them the slender grace of various native plants. 
Often the only effect that magnificent scenery has upon 
the minds of the inhabitants, results from the hindrance 
which features of great natural beauty present to the ordinary 
occupations of life ; the dweller in the Alps owes to the 
character of his home an unusual development of bodily 
strength, and also of conscious worth fostered by the necessity 
of continual self-reliance, but he does not receive from it the 
freedom and breadth and fulness of spiritual interests which it 
seems to us would fitly correspond with the boundless horizon 
stretched out before him. The false notions which people so 
often have of the connection between a country and the 
dwellers in it, result from neglecting to investigate the actual 
means by which Nature really comes to operate in mental 
life. That any object has a definite form and position, is no 
sufficient reason for our necessarily perceiving that it has that 
form and position, or even for perceiving it at all ; our doing 
so depends upon whether its form and position and all its 
qualities are presented to our eye and our mind through the 
effects which it has upon us. And it is not enough that the 
vault of heaven should stretch above us in various degrees of 
blueness and purity and brightness, that we should be sur- 
rounded with bolder mountains and more luxuriant vegetation; 
in order to understand the educative influence of Nature upon 
us, we ought to know first what circumstances make a notice- 
able physical impression upon us ; secondly, for how much of 
the £esthetic worth of these spectacles we have the capacity 
of reception which is a condition of feeling this worth and of 
assimilating it for the needs of general development; and 
lastly, how much of it all is lost upon us because it is obscured 


in our consciousness by other influences which are responded 
to by more pressing natural interests. In so far as mental 
character depends upon external Xature, it does not depend 
upon what this Nature is, but upon how it affects the as yet 
untutored minds of men who are habitually surrounded by it. 
The effect of external Nature is not to be directly estimated 
by considering the impression that it makes upon a mind that 
is already educated, and that comes to it merely as a spectator 
and not as dwelling with it and in the midst of it. 

On the whole, one hears much said of those happier times 
when there was more intimate communion between man and 
Nature, and we wish that we could return to that transparently 
simple existence and leave the clouds of sophistication in 
which our modern life is wrapped. This longing may be 
justified if what it desires is social arrangements a little more 
in accordance with the natural impulses of humanity, and free 
from the excess of traditional trammels by which we are at 
present hemmed in; but it is certainly wrong if it expects 
that a fuller enjoyment of external Nature as contrasted with 
social life, would produce more exalted happiness and a truer 
development of humanity. When a man exhausted by the 
interminable distractions of his daily occupation hastens to 
open the great book of Nature and to read therein, he scarcely 
notices that which is the only redeeming touch of truth amid 
all the pedantry and folly of the fancy picture to which we 
have referred ; the admission that Nature has a permanent 
charm only for the mind accustomed to dwell on some 
great connected system of interests, whether scientific or social, 
or for the soul that having been thus exercised now finds in 
external phsenomena innumerable reminders of the experience 
of his life, living solutions of his doubts, refutations of his 
prejudices, confirmations of his hopes, and incitements to 
further investigation. It is the culture of the heart and the 
understanding developed by the relations between man and 
man which first makes us capable of receiving further culture 
at the hand of Nature ; a man who has always lived and who 
continues to live alone with Nature, would be hardly more 


Stirred by her influences than the wild animals who live on 
umLdst all this glorious beauty without being softened or 
ennobled by it. 

One may be enthusiastic about the life which a hunter 
leads who wanders through the American forests and prairies 
alone with Nature ; but the intelligent glance that can take in 
and enjoy the changing phsenomena of his surroundings he 
owes to his early education and to the (perhaps long unheard) 
language of his own people, which calls up along with every 
fresh thought a thousand remembrances of the home and the 
civilisation which he has left ; and the intellectual dower 
which he has received from these is just as indispensable to 
him as are the material aids of civilisation. How the young 
romance over adventurous wanderings, and think that they 
could plunge with full satisfaction into the lonely enjoyment 
of ligature ! And they do not remark what a large share of 
their pleasure is due to the sociability of travel, and how little 
the continuous absence of friendly intercourse with men could 
be supplied even by the countless occasions of far-reaching 
trains of thought which Nature furnishes to the instructed 
mind. The continued view of some striking natural beauty, 
operates upon the mind, if we are alone, as a gradually in- 
creasing pressure, as an impulse which fails to find its object. 
This tension, half pleasant, half painful, is lessened but not 
quite removed by the consciousness that others share it with 
us ; for it arises not only from the need for sympathy, but 
also from our feeling that we really do not know exactly 
what this beauty of Nature should prompt us to do. For it 
is in human nature to be prompted to some action by any- 
thing which interests it ; it cannot remain long in a condition 
of passive enjoyment without feeling the inner restlessness of 
unsatisfied activity. But it is into such a position that Nature 
always forces us at first ; all its visional splendour, however 
clearly it may be spread before us, is yet something of which 
in itself we can have no intimate comprehension. It is indis- 
putable that the light, and the sunset glory, and the fresh 
green of spring, and the wonderful outlines of hill and valley, 



take our spirit captive with their charm ; but all this glorious 
beauty is voiceless, nor do we know aright what we would 
have of it ; we can never get nearer to any of these phsenomena, 
and though the light should shine for ever, and the woods be 
ever green, our enjoyment of these living pictures would never 
be heightened or increased in significance if we did not 
supplement them by thoughts of our own. What, indeed, are 
they to us ? The answer would be easy if we could embrace 
the sunset glow, or feed upon the green beauty of the woods ; 
or if it were possible, in any way, to probe somewhat deeper, 
and with a more active exercise of our own powers, the " open 
secret" of Nature — open and yet so close — to sound this 
seeming depth, which on nearer inspection is ever seen to be 
for us a mere — and yet impenetrable — surface. Since however 
this cannot be, our interest in a riddle which seems insoluble 
dies out ; we always indeed retain a capacity of being freshly 
roused by it, but it cannot occupy the mind continuously and 
alone. Suppose we have reared some plant with the greatest 
care and pains, when at last the blossoms appear, a sort of 
helplessness comes over us, as if we did not know what to 
do next; our interest is momentarily re-awakened when we 
show it to others ; but to look at it for long together, makes us 
inclined to ask. What is the use of it ? We should not wish 
to see the most charming prospect spread out before us for ever 
without alteration ; there is not enough meaning in it ; all 
these things suffice only to make a pleasing background for life 
itself; they are graces of existence which we lay aside and 
return to again. A day of lonely enjoyment of Nature, 
although enriched by all the intellectual delight that may be 
derived from solitary reading, secretly seems to us incomplete 
and half-wasted, unless a word with some fellow-creature 
crowns the day, reminding us of that community of human 
life in which we are included. I believe that such emotions 
occur in every one who observes himself, and they explain the 
profound sense of discord and the discomfort produced in us 
by the laboured attempts of a good deal of feeble poetry to 
entertain us by continual immersion in the mystery and 


romance of natural phsenomena, whilst our heart is hun^erin*^ 
not for mere symbols and analogies but for the full pulse of 
life itself, and thirsting for reality. 

These are feelings which belong to civilised life. He who 
thinks that life is spoiled by such sentiments, and glorifies the 
primitive condition of mankind as if Nature liad been then 
less impenetrable to human intelligence, indulges fancies 
which are extremely improbable. We find that the under- 
standing of Nature among those who still have the advantage 
of living in closer contact with her, is not greater but less 
than that of those who come to her fresh from social life ; the 
former are just those to whom that which is useful and the 
handiwork of men seems decidedly more valuable than the 
poetry of Nature. And even in the present day we can see 
by reference to those socially undeveloped peoples who inhabit 
tracts of land as fertile and beautiful as Paradise, how little 
immediately educative power there is in the unelaborated 
influences of Nature. Isolated, and deprived of even the 
imperfectly organized community with their fellows which 
these tribes enjoy, men would only feel with still more force 
that enervating influence which is exercised by natural sur- 
roundings, however full of sensuous beauty, as long as they do 
not arouse either the keenness of scientific search, or that 
practical faculty of the mind which takes delight in laborious 
transformations of material objects. But in fact Nature does 
arouse both, when she creates wants and at the same time 
affords the means of gratifying them. It has been long main- 
tained, and with truth, that higher development is hindered not 
only by the extreme disfavour of Nature but also by that 
excess of bounty which enables men to supply the needs of 
life without exertion on their part. Human culture began 
when men began to regard the earth as a fruitful field of 
labour ; but the beauty and ideal meaning of natural scenery 
has of itself produced no culture ; it has in fact only become 
intelligible in proportion as the school of work has trained 
human thought to form plans and to appreciate the worth of 
success, that is, the worth of the harmony established among 


disconnected beginnings by their joint contribution to one final 
result. Man learns to know and to estimate the great value 
of truth and of faithful law-abiding constancy on which one 
can depend, when he finds that the soil with unfailing regu- 
larity causes the seed entrusted to it to spring up and ripen, 
or when a successful result crowns some simple attempt in 
which, relying upon the teaching of his own experience, he 
seeks to make an artificial arrangement of natural powers 
serviceable to his own ends. By this time there has crept 
into his consciousness by imperceptible degrees the conviction 
of a connection between things which in a general way 
guarantees some conclusion to every beginning, some result to 
every experiment, to every like cause a like effect, to all events 
the possibility of ordered harmony, to every individual thing 
in the world a certainty of not being isolated or in vain, but 
of ever finding some way open by which its longing and its 
activity may be added to the sum of the universe, and in the 
end make its worth felt. Under whatever forms early mytho- 
logic fancy may have pictured the life of Nature, it was in 
truth a perception of the ordered mechanism of the external 
world which educated mankind, and it was the steady immuta- 
bility of this mechanism which first impressed man's sense. 
He only learnt to understand tlie frank beauty of Nature in 
proportion as he became able on the one hand to rejoice in 
the pervading order of the universe, and on the other hand to 
feel the bitterness of temporary discord between it and his 
own individual wishes — becoming able, with the help of such 
experience, to find the meaning of natural phaenomena. 

§ 4. Our sceptical observations have up to this point been 
directed partly against the opinion that the peculiarities of 
the planet to which we belong reappear in the general features 
of the human mind, or that particular peoples present a kind 
of spiritualized reflection of the character of their native land ; 
they are also partly directed against the belief that these 
mysterious influences of cosmic life further the development 
of humanity. In making these observations we are renewing 
a warfare, begun long ago, against the inclination to see in 


every individual department of reality merely an imitative 
echo or a prophetic indication of some other department, and 
in the whole great circle of phsenomena nothing more than a 
continuous shadowing forth of the higher by the lower, and of 
the lower by the higher. The life of the soul does not appear 
to us as an image of the life of the body, does not seem to us 
to be bound to develop some inner activity as a counterpart of 
every individual function of the body ; on the contrary, we 
hold that all which is material is but a system of means 
which the mind uses for other than material ends, and with 
the useful results of which it is concerned, without asking by 
what system of activities the body has secured this net produce 
of available stimulation. Again, man is not a mere copy of 
external Nature, but is a living product, unique in kind — 
receiving, indeed, innumerable impressions from Nature, yet 
not in order that he may reflect them back in the form in which 
they were received, but that he may, in accordance with his 
nature, be roused by them to reactions and developments, the 
explanatory cause of which lies in himself, and not in what is 
external. We are not here denying out and out any deter- 
mination of man by Nature ; we even admit that kind of 
dependence in accordance with which fluctuations of natural 
circumstances tinge our inner life with changing hues. We 
may and do admit that our organic feelings depend upon the 
weather, our moods upon light and air, the tone of our thought 
upon season and climate. But on the one hand, it is 
mere superstition to lay extravagant emphasis upon conditions 
80 difficult to calculate, whilst clear and imperative motives 
of our reciprocal action are seen much more obviously in 
human passions and circumstances ; on the other hand, that 
which is thus subject to the influences of Nature is only our 
moods, those vague states of mind which may indeed hinder 
or further an impulse to development which has originated 
elsewhere, but which could never of themselves have guided 
• human progress in any definite direction. 

When, however, from these considerations we turn to the 
question, By what definite ideas of action could Nature favour 


the moral development of mankind ? the beginning of all 
human culture seems still more wonderful. For it is clear 
how fruitless must be any attempt to borrow from soulless 
reality rules which have an unconstrained and natural relation 
to our action with its totally different motives and aims. To 
a mind already alive to the worth of law and order, the fact 
of their universal prevalence is a point — and the only point — 
in Nature which it can recognise as presenting some similarity 
to the constitution of its own conscience, and as affording a 
clear lesson for its own guidance ; but to attempt to model 
the duties of creatures that have mind and the arrangements of 
their social intercourse after the particular forms in which the 
phaenomena of the external world depend on one another, is one 
of the most grievous and barren blunders of that sentimental 
symbolism which we are opposing. What suits stars and 
flowers need not on that account suit us ; the most we could 
expect would be that the sure instincts which guide those 
creatures nearest to us in the scale of creation might perhaps 
furnish a true and unsophisticated indication of what Nature 
requires of man, and whereto she has destined him. We 
know the ideals with which this department of life can furnish 
us. Beside the strength and grace of one animal we see the 
sloth and stupidity of another, beside isolated moments of self- 
sacrificing love and fidelity the treachery of the most blind 
and inconsiderate selfishness, and in some creatures dainty 
grace and timid beauty, combined with a cruelty that delights 
in tormenting prey ; and the whole of this motley picture in a 
perpetual ferment, one part cancelling another. What sort of 
conviction of an intelligible connection of the world, and what 
sort of a consciousness of our own duties could result from 
such observations as the foregoing? It is unquestionable 
that he who takes the nature of brutes as his pattern will 
attain a development, not of humanity but of bestiality. He 
however who begins to distinguish between the indications of 
universal validity which Nature affords us even in the life of 
brutes and the impulses prompted by blind instinct, though he 
refuses to recognise a higher law of conscience, has already 


reached a stage of criticism at which any worth of natural 
impulses considered as furnishing a standard of right must 
disappear altogether. For he will not be able to deny that in 
his own nature also, many of these condemned impulses occur, 
and that too with all the force of importunate attraction, and 
he will then perceive that physical Nature cannot teach right 
or duty until its indications have been approved by the higher 
law which is in man himself, and until they have become part 
of the intelligible connection of a supersensuous rule of life. 



Temperaments — The Meaning of Temperament — Differences of Temperament — 
The Successive Stages of Human Life — Connection between the Vital 
Feelings which have a Corporeal and those which have a Mental Origin 
— Differences between the Sexes — General ' Mental Peculiarities of Women 
— Heredity, and Original Difference of Endowment. 

S 1. nrr from external Nature, the influence of which we 

A could neither deny, nor admit without qualification, 

we turn back to ourselves, we find that the original peculiarity 

of our own nature sets numerous limits to the development 

of our individuality. In temperament, in innate capacities, in 

those changes of the whole background of our mental life 

which are inevitably caused by changes of age, in difference 

of sex, in the varieties of susceptibility and impulse which 

mark different nationalities, are to be found rules and limits 

from which our development cannot escape. And from which, 

indeed, in many respects it ought not to escape. The ideal 

of humanity may find in these natural endowments more or 

less hindrance to its realization ; but it is not of the essence 

of this ideal to require a uniformity from which every tinge 

of individuality has been expunged. It is only among brutes 

that such conformity to the type is regarded as a perfection ; 

among men it is more in accordance with the ideal that the 

special nature of each individual should impart to his conduct 

(of which the general outlines are the same for all men) its 

characteristic tone and colour. 

We are little acquainted with the circumstances upon which 

these varieties of human endowment depend. They may be 

for the most part conditioned by bodily constitution, or they 

may result froia the gradual summation of innumerable similar 



impressions; whether it he that these continued influences 
have become as it were to a certain extent fixed as tendencies 
to development in the hodily constitution, or whether it be that 
the mental development of our ancestors has been transmitted, as 
innate capacity, to their descendants, after a spiritual fashion 
which is still less comprehensible to us. However this may 
be, the differences exist, and we cannot altogether neglect a 
consideration of their consequences, though we may leave the 
question of their origin undecided. 

Varieties of Temperament, as of all other innate natural 
capacities, appear to us to be most marked under conditions 
of advanced civilisation. This may result from our imperfect 
knowledge of the more simple forms of life, the distant view 
making their uniformity seem greater than it is, or it may bo 
that only high culture affords scope for any great development 
of the characteristic talents and dispositions of individuals. 
Clear as these differences themselves may be in many cases, 
the signification of the name — temperament — by which they 
are distinguished, continues vague. The original meaning of 
the word seems to indicate that we should understand tem- 
perament to signify general characteristics of the course of 
mental life which do not of themselves exclusively predetermine 
either a fixed degree or a fixed direction of culture, but which 
certainly promote or hinder in various ways the development 
of intelligence and of moral character. These we cannot 
pronounce to be either altogether unconnected with, or indis- 
solubly attached to, special varieties of bodily constitution 
and predispositions to particular forms of disease. Under the 
head of temperaments comes a consideration of the throng 
of ideas which pass through consciousness together, the swift- 
ness with which one succeeds another, and the force with 
which thought works, either in one direction specially, or 
several simultaneously, calling up a more or less numerous 
and harmonious association from the ranks of previous impres- 
sions ; of the fidelity with which previous perceptions are 
retained, or the rapidity with which they melt into vague 
general images; of the constancy with which an idea once 


taken up with interest is held fast in the midst of numerous 
changes, or the ease with which sympathy and attention are 
diverted from their original object to a host of importunate 
accessories ; of the general degree of feeling roused by impres- 
sions, and the permanence or transiency of this feeling ; of the 
concentration of effort at certain points of enduring interest, 
or the inclination to jump from one occupation to another, 
and of the various strength of the impulse to express one's 
feelings in movements, words, and gesture. Differences of 
temperament are just like those differences in the movement 
of a current which are due to the original nature of its source 
and channel; according to the original density of the fluid, 
according to the direction of its fall and the nature of its bed, 
the various obstacles with which it meets cause it to be 
disturbed in some cases by deep, slow movements, in others 
by waves which merely fret its surface. 

§ 2. If out of the innumerable varieties of individual 
temperament which we must recognise in experience, we 
would emphasize some striking forms in which the distinctive 
features we have noticed are grouped with most coherence, we 
shall naturally recur to the quaternion ( Vierzahl) to which anti- 
quity, combining groundless theory with sound observation, gave 
names which are still retained. But nothing would be gained 
by painting here over again these oft-presented pictures ; we 
shall be better occupied in considering how, in the individual 
and in society, temperaments akin to these do to some extent 
naturally occur, and how to some extent they should occur in 
a regular course of development. 

The health of the body depends a good deal upcn its 
different parts not being so intimately connected as to cause 
every shock received by one to be communicated to the others. 
It is a sign of morbid weakness of nerve when the whole- 
some resistance to diffusion which prevents the spread of 
excitation is so far diminished, that every slight irritation affects 
the whole frame, and when disturbances of organic feeling 
which are by no means immoderate immediately call forth a 
variety of secondary sensations, produce convulsive movements, 


and accelerate secretions, or change their character. On the 
other hand, one might ask whether this general sensitiveness 
to stimulation is not the right state for a mind to be in prior 
to experience. Minds are not of course destined to remain 
permanently in such a state, but the task of educating one- 
self, and of gradually establishing one's own character, can 
only be satisfactorily carried out when it is unhindered by 
any original rigidity or sluggishness of constitution. Permanent 
excess of this general capacity of reciprocal excitement among 
all psychical states and general sensitiveness of the soul to all 
outward stimuli, distinguish that temperament which with a 
tinge of disapprobation we designate the sanguine. We 
think that to be easily disturbed and so pass easily from one 
mood to another, is natural and fitting in childhood, an age of 
which the proper business is to collect impressions by which 
it may build up its mental life without prejudice or special 
preference, and in fact it is generally where this volatility 
exists without lasting too long that a child develops most 
rapidly. The liveliness of the sanguine temperament seems to 
us to be also natural among uncivilised tribes, the differences 
of whose interests in life are generally too slight and shallow 
to call forth such a one-sided pursuit of definite ends as to 
weaken men's original receptivity for impressions of all kinds. 
Only it must be remembered that favourable conditions of 
external Nature are necessary for the simultaneous develop- 
ment of quickness of mind and joyous activity of body. 

But while this temper of mind is advantageous at the out- 
set of development, it presents many hindrances to the later 
development of intelligence, as well as of' the emotional and 
moral nature. Great rapidity in the succession of ideas, which 
is made possible by the short-lived interest awaked by each 
one, is to a certain extent necessary for a child. This rapidity 
produces knowledge of a multitude of individual facts, and 
moreover, by means of the many-sidedness of ideas which supple- 
ment and correct one another, it prevents the establishment 
of narrow notions and attachment to ideas accidentally got 
and not of universal validity — faults whici men are only 


too apt to fall into in later life in consequence of the monotony 
of their particular occupations. But on the other hand, this 
rapidity of change hinders the fixation of that which has been 
acquired, and a sharp demarcation of the regions within which 
easily attained generalities are valid but beyond which they 
cease to be applicable. It is further necessary for a child 
that feeling should be easily roused by slight impressions and 
unimportant perceptions, and also that the fluctuations of such 
feeling should be as rapid as the fluctuations of its various 
occasions. It would be ill if in children laughter did not 
follow in the wake of tears, and if instead of their happy 
forgetfulness of sorrow, and even to a certain extent, of 
salutary punishment, a tenacious memory for all evil, for 
injustice, afironts, and pain, were to occasion moods of con- 
siderable duration during which their ready receptivity would 
be disturbed. This characteristic again, which is an advantage 
in the beginning, becomes a disadvantage later on. The quick- 
ness with which feeling that is continually on the qui vive 
responds to every momentary impression, together with the 
small amount of effort which the excitation is capable of call- 
ing forth, leads to the instability which must mark a course of 
conduct prompted by motives not derived from comprehensive 
reflection, or from the combined tendencies of a formed 
character, but borrowed hastily and fragmentarily from isolated 
and transient occasions. Every human life starting with 
infinite possibilities of varied development, has the task of 
limiting itself to the finitude of some definite characteristic form 
which leaves a thousand early hopes unfulfilled, but by way 
of compensation evolves from the few impulses which it really 
develops a thousand wonderful and characteristic results, the 
rich variety of which could never have been suspected in the 
beginning. The man whose sanguineness of temperament has 
outlived its natural term, gives us, not inappropriately, the 
impression of being a grown-up child, and the social charm 
which we readily grant to his general responsiveness and easy 
adaptation to all circumstances, does not make up for the want 
of trustworthiness, and does not rouse that interest which we 


take in every individuality that has actually worked out its 
natural potentialities to some definite reality. 

To correct such faults without sacrificing what is attractive 
in such a temperament should be the aim of subsequent 
development. The mind ought to retain all its receptivity, 
for both great and small, and for the most various kinds 
of stimulation ; but it should at the same time learn to dis- 
criminate between that which is of great and that which is 
of little worth, and to regulate the amount of responsive re- 
action according to the significance that each impression has 
for the interests of human life, which gradually stand out 
more and more clearly as forming a coherent whole. The 
natural course of development begins the accomplishment of 
this task, the sentimental temperament of youth displacing the 
sanguine temperament of childhood. I choose this name in 
order to avoid an inexactness which is involved in the ordinary 
designation of the melancholic temperament, an expression 
which makes us think of sadness and dejection of mind, and 
though this unhappy humour may cast its gloom over the 
whole of a man's mental life, in consequence of bodily disease 
or of long-continued misfortune and the memories which 
succeed it, yet it is not itself one of those general types of 
inner life to which the name of temperament can be properly 
applied. Indeed, the fact is that this humour, like every other, 
is compatible with any temperament, although one may be 
more conducive to it than another ; while what we mean by 
the sentimental temperament is not one humour which out of 
the many that we may experience has become predominant, 
but a general propensity to give oneself up to humours, to as 
it were lay oneself out for them, and to entertain them in 
greater force and to a greater extent than occasion warrants. 
Children do not pick and choose among impressions those that 
they will attend to ; their curiosity is easily excited by facts 
of any liind which can furnish them with ideas. If we some- 
times find them disinclined to learn, we should remember how 
very uninteresting to them those objects must be in which we 
are only interested because of our knowledge of their signifi- 


canca If we consider this, we shall admit that there is in 
the child a disinterested readiness to appropriate the most 
various material, and that the results of this during the early- 
years of life far exceed what is acquired in any equal space 
of time in after life. It is natural that this undiscriminating 
receptivity should diminish, the more the task of thoroughly 
organizing the acquired material of knowledge comes into 
prominence. The youth therefore is more discriminating than 
the child in his reception of impressions ; much seems to him 
indifferent or repulsive which the mental digestion of the 
child readily assimilated. But in proportion as there have 
not yet arisen definite objects in life in connection with which 
all particular experience may be steadily systematized, the 
interest of the soul will become centred in the emotional worth 
of impressions ; it will withdraw from all which does not 
promise satisfaction to its inclination for this kind of excite- 
ment, or conversely will use every imaginable impression 
merely as the peg on which to hang a succession of feelings, 
treating its intellectual content with unsympathetic neglect. 
Thus is formed the sentimental temperament which naturally 
gives the tone to mental life during the period of youth ; and 
if it does not outlast its due time much that is valuable and 
noble in our development is due to it. Being specially 
capable of appreciating the harmony or discord which belongs 
to the formal relations of impressions, it is given to the 
dreamy repetition of all that is rhythmical and in ganeral of 
all aesthetic impressions ; little inclined for real hard work, 
but driven by restlessness of feeling to imaginative activity, 
it seeks an outlet partly in artistic creation and partly in 
framing ideals of a better state of things than that which 
actually obtains. But while susceptible to the emotional 
worth of perceptions, it is at the same time disposed to 
theoretical vagueness, in consequence of not having a suffi- 
ciently firm grasp of the definite points between which those 
relations extend which are themselves of so much conse- 
quence. Thus it becomes unpractical, wishing indeed to 
reproduce by its own activity the moods which it values, but 


having no sympathy for the uninteresting details of appro- 
priate means ; and just as often it is unjust, resenting the 
indifference or opposition of others to its own aesthetic pre- 
judices with a bitterness which excludes all fair judgment 
and all toleration of divergent culture. 

It is a happy peculiarity of our nature that past suffering 
does not live as vividly in our memory as past joy ; but any 
pain at the moment when it affects us, stirs the spirit more 
powerfully, and produces a greater mental turmoil of thoughts 
seeking for utterance. Sometimes a man does not for the 
moment know what to make of pleasure, and often he has to 
wait until time shall have revealed all the individual happy 
consequences which some present good fortune involves, find- 
ing only then a fitting expression for his joy. This explains 
how it is that men are disposed to seek dissonances, or to 
exaggerate them when they exist, in order that by doing so 
they may as it were gain mediately a clearer consciousness 
of the harmonies which are actual or possible, and the worth 
of which stands out the more clearly in the contrasted pre- 
sence of impending danger. Therefore sensitive souls love 
the gentle melancholy which is spread like a grey background 
behind the rainbow glory of isolated moments of delight, and 
the old view was not altogether wrong in giving to the senti- 
mental temperament the designation of melancholy, with 
which humour that temperament is in fact thus naturally 

The great defect which attaches to this temper of mind is 
the ease with which the development or establishment of a 
sense of duty may be hindered by excitability of feeling. 
However indispensable this temperament may be not only 
for artistic genius but also for the truly humane ordering of 
practical life, yet if it continues in isolated predominance it 
leads both in art and practice to mere skill, which amuses itself 
but acknowledges no obligation to serious work. We need 
not refer to that repulsive form of sentimentality which turns 
all the circumstances of life to account in no other way than as 
occasions of emotional excitement ; we may also trace the ill 

32 BOOK VI. chapti:k il 

effects of the sentimental temper both in science and in art. 
It is shown in the latter by its way of dealing with the 
isolated lyric movements of emotion which naturally arise in 
men and have received a pleasing formal expression either from 
some gifted individual or from the cultivated general mind ; 
these it is incapable of grasping and bringing together into 
a coherent whole in such a way as to attain to higher 
truth. It is shown in the scientific region by the numerous 
examples of men who, with great natural gifts, can be content 
to spend their ingenuity in constantly devising some new 
dress for the knowledge they have already acquired, in giving 
it a finer point and more exquisite arrangement, without ever 
honestly doing their part towards the final solution of any 
problem. A good deal also of apparently earnest effort has 
to be set down to this less emotional form of sentimentality ; 
but what is great in life and in science has always been 
the result of concentrated energy, which, without denying 
the worth of other impressions, yet passes them by on the 
other side, as it presses towards its own goal, busying itself 
all the more eagerly about the means of attaining to it, 
though these being indifferent in themselves, are despised by 
the excited temper of youth in its search after worthy ends. 

The choleric temperament is plainly that which we must 
desire to see developed in the time of manhood, as the 
natural successor of the sentimental temperament ; its too 
early appearance would be as contrary to the perfection of 
human development as its not appearing at all. The 
diminished susceptibility to excitement which is ascribed to 
this temperament, together with the great force and endurance 
of its reaction, when feeling has once been aroused, are doubt- 
less often the effect of a moral steadiness of character, which 
having chosen definite ends refuses to be lured from its path 
by irrelevant attractions ; or it may be that they are the effect 
of a narrow range of ideas produced by the monotony of life, 
and in many cases blunting the interest which would naturally 
be felt. But that obstinate perseverance in a path once 
entered upon, which hindrances only serve to spur on to 


greater activity, often occurs even in children ; we are tliere- 
fore fully warranted in designating this state of mind as a 
particular temperament. Its essential features are to be 
found in its unreceptiveness for incidental attractions which 
lie out of the beaten track of its thought ; in the narrow scope 
afforded to new impressions, these sufficing only to call up 
the recollections most closely associated with them in one 
particular groove ; and lastly in the small degree of feeling 
which can be aroused by any perceptions but those which fall 
in with the prevailing current of feeling. But when interest 
is once awakened, it affects with equal steadiness the train 
of ideas and the efforts of the will; thus this is the pre- 
eminently practical temperament, both on account of the 
definiteness of the ends which imagination presents to it, 
and also because its less exacting and less touchy temper 
does not shrink from the employment of indifferent or irksome 
means which, while destitute of intrinsic worth, are indispens- 
able for the attainment of the desired end. But the frequent 
confusion of this temperament with what we call simple 
wilfulness shows that it has drawbacks which are closely 
related to its advantages. In fact its practical efficacy 
is often impaired by a gradually increasing narrowness of 
mental life, which having chosen some one exclusive end, 
not infrequently fixes with equal exclusiveness and obstinacy 
upon some one definite kind of means, and even sometimes, 
reflecting itself as it were, seems as a final stage, to reject all 
reference to intrinsically worthy ends, and develops into that 
conscious stubbornness which is the caricature of rigid consist- 
ency. It is not in such results that the progress of development 
which we desire is to be found. Later life ought to inherit 
a fair share of that passion for everything which has emotional 
worth which is characteristic of the sentimental temperament, 
as well as of the mobility and sensitiveness of the sanguine 
temperament, and the group of characteristics which best 
becomes the ideal of human excellence is not to be found in 
the unsympathizing or contemptuous disposition which a 
narrow-hearted devotion to definite ends exhibits towards 
VOL. n. c 


all which lies out of the track of its own particular 


I shall perhaps be regarded as the advocate of a strange 
thesis when I say that I regard the phlegmatic tempera- 
ment as the natural temper of advanced age, and at the same 
time as an improvement on the choleric temperament with its 
prejudices and narrowness. A description of the different 
temperaments so naturally presents each one as an exaggera- 
tion of its special characteristics, that at the very name of 
phlegmatic we are accustomed to think of a sort of mental 
lethargy very far from suggestive of advance in human 
development — a state in which susceptibility to impressions, as 
well as any pleasure in responding to them, has been almost 
wholly lost. But in this representation vacuity of mmd is 
confounded with a form of activity which may belong to a 
full as well as to an empty mind. A state of steady 
equanimity would be intolerable and repulsive in a soul 
whose capacities were as yet only partially unfolded, and 
whose best development yet remained to be won among the 
manifold changes and chances of life ; but such calm is to be 
reverenced in a mind which has passed victorious through 
chance and change, and has learnt by wide experience, 
neither to be carried from one mood to another by every 
changing impression, nor to give exclusive and one-sided 
approval to some one particular form and direction of human 
effort. It is true, indeed, that as long as we understand by 
temperament only a natural disposition as contrasted with any 
acquired attitude of mind, the immovability of the phlegmatic 
temperament must seem to us the least pleasing of any human 
character. And yet even in this we are often unjust ; w© 
conclude too hastily that disinclination to bodily movement 
indicates an equal sluggishness of thought, that the absence 
of foolish outbursts of emotion and omission of useless expres- 
sions of feelings are due to coldness of heart. Hence we are 
often surprised to see such minds stirred up by a great and 
impressive stimulus to some energetic passion, producing 
vigorous and long-sustained efforts; such an occurrence we 


have often enough seen " writ large " in the history of races 
whose national temperament is decidedly phlegmatic. We 
learn from such cases that it is unjust to attribute the 
immovability and incapacity of mere stupidity to that solid- 
ness of mental life which is hardly affected by individual 
passing impressions, but slowly stores them up until the time 
arrives for some supreme effort — or at any rate if no occasion 
for action arises is not haunted by a mental unrest which 
prompts the search for such an opportunity. Like all rest, 
this equanimity of soul is a phsenomenon that may have many 
significations, and its worth is in proportion to the amount of 
dormant power which it holds in suspense. We blame the 
unreceptiveness which remains unmoved because it is wanting 
in all intelligence and sympathy ; but we all seek that peace 
which is not immoderately excited by anything, because 
nothing is any longer wholly new to it ; which has experienced 
every kind of emotion, but has long ago learned to assign to 
every passionate impulse its proper value in the whole 
intricate chain of human interests, appealing to this from any 
accidental strength of feeling which may be due to the 
circumstances of the moment ; which finally has ceased to 
have any part in the heat and hurry of self-willed effort, 
because it has learnt that the vicissitudes of destiny are too 
great, and the field of human activity too circumscribed to 
admit of our attributing absolute and unconditioned worth to 
any single work or any single performance of ours. We hope 
for this frame of mind as the natural temperament of old age, 
but we certainly do not see that it is generally attained ; on 
the other hand, however, we find that by innate favour of 
spiritual organization, some few happy souls have all 
through life this fine balance of mental temper. They receive 
with pure-hearted and ever fresh interest, impressions of all 
degrees of importance ; they are not indifferent to any class of 
feelings, but on the other hand, none carries them away into 
the tangled paths of a one-sided and narrow humour ; with clear 
vision and patient hand, they quietly compass the means to 
some steadfastly pursued end, without the unsympathizing 


harshness which refuses to endure any interruption of its work, 
and without that contempt for other paths which is natural to 
him who knows none but his own. It is not of the great 
names ot history that we are thinking now, but of those gentle 
and blessed natures who pass noiselessly through life, seeming 
as it were the very embodiment of our ideal ; those who have 
had a strongly marked effect upon the course of history, have 
much oftener been men whose minds were not thus finely 
balanced, and who owed their influence to the one-sided 
harshness with which they have succeeded in forcing their 
own views upon the world, undisturbed by any acute sense 
of the comparative worth of conflicting opinions. 

Observation does not show us that more than a distant 
approach to this gradation of human development actually 
exists. In order to go through it completely, and to 
let each of the temperaments run its whole course in full 
and unmixed current, unusually favourable conditions both of 
natural disposition and of outward circumstances would be 
required. It is only when culture has advanced rather far 
that it can furnish the different periods of life with that 
variety of interests from which each particular phase of 
character can draw material for vigorous development ; hence 
the monotony of a very simple mode of life would weaken the 
characteristic differences of temperament. But on the other 
hand, the multifarious complications of life may hinder regular 
development by events which press with such a weight upon 
the soul that completeness and spontaneity of further develop- 
ment becomes impossible. And finally, the more thorough- 
going has been the development of mind and character in any 
generation by a life of varied culture, the more are the natures 
of the next generation likely to diverge from one another, 
exhibiting characters of striking individuality, the course of 
development of which often differs strangely from that of the 
ordinary type. Then there are numerous diseases which have 
a powerful effect on temperament and humour, and numerous 
bodily disorders which, before they declare themselves as 
disease, appear in disturbances of organic feeling which, 


inexplicable even to him who suffers them, imperceptibly give 
a tone to the totality of his views and feelings. It would be 
extremely interesting if it were possible, to investigate the 
causes of these phsenomena. But it is indeed impossible to 
discriminate in them between what has its origin in the 
region of mind, in the impenetrable windings of every 
individual development, and to some extent reacts upon the 
bodily organization, and what on the other hand is due to 
organic development and its disturbances, and has a share in 
influencing the growth of the inner life. Perhaps too much 
weight is sometimes attributed to the last factor, but still there 
IS no doubt that it does have a very important effect. We 
see tardiness or precocity of bodily development accompanied 
by a like tardiness or precocity of the mental dispositions 
corresponding to these stages of physical growth ; and on the 
whole nothing is more natural than the assumption that the 
full tide of organic feeling receives at different times a different 
colouring in proportion as this or that organ or department of 
the bodily economy makes its influence more or less felt by 
innumerable constant excitations, singly imperceptible, which 
vary according to the rapidity or backwardness with which 
the organ or department in question develops its activity. 
But while the time is gone by for explaining such matters by 
reference to the black bUe and the yellow bile, the time is not 
yet come when we may have recourse to exact observation 
for an explanation of the importance of different functions at 
different times, and for trustworthy information as to their 
influence on mental life. 

How intimately permanent bodily conditions may be con- 
nected with permanent mental dispositions, is shown by 
observation of cases in which their reciprocal influence is 
temporary. It has been said, and not without truth, that we 
think differently when we are lying down and when we are 

1 standing up ; a constrained and cramped position of the body 
has a depressing effect upon the spirits; again, we find it 
difficult to be devotional in a comfortable and careless attitude; 


to get a furious man to sit down in an easy-chair ; and the 
Jiand which smooths the wrinkles from one's brow, smooths 
away trouble too. It may be asked whether aesthetic and 
moral judgments or our thoughts about future joy and sorrow 
do not primarily receive their vividness and intensity from 
accompanying sensations in which that which is of intrinsic 
worth appears to us as harmonizing with the innermost con- 
ditions of our own individual existence. There are plenty of 
apathetic states in which these attendant feelings are wanting 
— in which we may see as plainly as before the objective 
excellence of one kind of conduct, and the blameworthiness of 
another, and recognise the just claims of others on our love 
and sympathy without being in the slightest degree capable of 
conjuring up that glow of feeling which we know would be 
appropriate to the occasion. How often does the same thing 
happen in our enjoyment of beauty ! Appreciation of it is 
not mere abstract delight in harmonious relations , delight in 
general is not a merely mental process, but something by 
which our whole being seems to be exalted and carried away, 
something which makes us breathe more fully and freely^ 
which quickens our pulse and gives elasticity to our muscles ; 
remorse for what is past is not the mere moral sentence of 
condemnation which, pronounced by conscience, is simply 
apprehended by the soul; the relaxedness of the limbs, the 
oppression of the heart, perhaps in anger an actual spasmodic 
contraction of the throat and rising of the gorge which prevent 
our swallowing the morsel already in our mouth — these show 
the sympathy of the bodily organization, and as it were 
eymbolize the attempt to get rid of some detested burden 
under the pressure of which we suffer. Even devotional 
feeling is not a purely mental exaltation ; but whilst it makes 
us unconsciously forego the careless haste of our ordinary 
gait, and causes our movements to be slower and more self- 
restrained, and our attitude to take a peculiar stamp, not of 
relaxedness, but of strength which voluntarily submits, there 
flows back into consciousness from all these bodily effects an 
echo of feeling strengthening the intellectual mood. We can 


understand what a difference it must make if the body return 
this echo imperfectly or with a tone altered by disease, and 
how in fact similar moods of some special individuals can 
never be quite comparable one with another. It is in the 
bloom of youth that we find this correspondence between mental 
life and its material vesture developed in the most attractive 
and perfect form ; in later life the gradual increase of obstacles 
and of friction causes the imperfections and incoherences in 
the connection between the two orders of affection to become 
more and more prominent. We can no longer read the whole 
soul in movement, gait, and carriage ; ordinary daily actions 
are got through with unsympathetic dispatch, eating and 
drinking often with ugly and soulless eagerness; and it is 
always a sign of profound culture of the heart when the 
thoughts of a man advanced in years do not meet the sensuous 
warmth of any passing event with the uninterested and 
unsympathetic coldness of age. 

§ 3. We feel afresh the want of trustworthy knowledge 
concerning the psychical importance of the bodily organs and 
their connections, now that we are come to that difficult part 
of our task, a consideration of the mental differences of 
the two sexes. I will not stay to compare the undulating 
outlines of the woman with the more angular build of the 
man ; it may be that there is foundation for the idea that the 
latter indicates the preponderance of some impulse towards 
characteristic individualization, and that the perhaps really 
greater bodily likeness among women is to be regarded as 
evidence of their greater mental conformity to some general 
type. Even here where the outward form is to others indica- 
tive of the inner life, I find myself able to lay little stress 
upon the merely symbolical significance of the bodily form ; 
it would be much more interesting to show, if one could, what 
particular organic feeling the body comes to have in conse- 
quence of its functions and of the particular proportions of its 

Of all this we know but little. The relations of the different 
parts of tfie skeleton and of the muscular system show that 


there is less power of work in the frame of the woman, the 
shoulders and chest are not adapted for lifting, carrying, and 
moving heavy weights and obstacles, nor are the hips and legs 
framed for swift running, or for walking firmly under a heavy 
burden; the muscles seem less fitted to endure continuous 
strain, great as may be their capacity of work when they have 
frequent alternations of activity and rest. These circumstances 
can hardly fail to influence organic feeling, a very important 
part of which always depends on a consciousness of the ease, 
elasticity, and peculiar security of our position, attitude, and 
mode of progression. The fact that a man's body forms an 
oval with its greatest diameter through the shoulders, and a 
woman's body an oval which is widest across the hips, is in 
itself indifferent ; but it may be that on the man the preponder- 
ant weight of the upper part of his body may have the effect 
of a burden which demands to be carried forward swift and 
sure in opposition to all obstacles, while the woman, feeling 
more fettered, most naturally finds her sphere of work nearer 
home, and expects it to come to her thither from the dim 

This inferiority in strength is compensated by a greater 
capacity of adaptation to the most various circumstances. The 
bodily wants of women are much less than those of men ; they 
eat and drink less, they breathe less air, and are said to be 
less easily suffocated ; with regard to hardships — at least 
those which are continuous and of gradual gi-owth — and 
privations, they bear them to some extent more easily than 
men, and in some respects with less of ill effect than might 
have been expected from their degree of bodily strength. 
They endure great loss of blood and continuous pain better ; 
and even the greater irritability of their nervous system, on 
account of which many unimportant disturbances have a 
great effect, seems to favour the rapid and harmless dispersion 
of any shock that may be experienced. Hence even under 
unfavourable circumstances, they often reach a great age, 
although the examples of extreme old age, lasting on far into a 
second century, are to be found almost exclusively among men. 



Tliey are naturally disinclined to very vehement sensuous 
gratifications, and often have only a sort of emotional aversion 
for disagreeable impressions in cases where a man would be 
almost overcome by absolute physical disgust ; the work of 
restoring cleanliness is always in itself uncleanly. The same 
capacity of accommodation is shown in the various circum- 
stances of life. It is an old and true remark that women can 
much more easily suit themselves to new conditions of life, 
to a different rank in society and changes of fortunes, whilst 
it is hardly possible for a man to efface the signs of his early 
training. Acquired habits also have a stronger hold on him, 
and when accustomed order is interrupted or the usual hour 
for work or food comes round empty-handed, his general com- 
fort is much more greatly disturbed. With the above charac- 
teristics of women there is naturally combined a mixture of 
that liveliness proper to the sanguine temperament and that 
warmth of heart, belonging to the sentimental stage, the 
absence of which we regret in any woman, counting it an 
imperfection. In her, varieties of education hide much ; but 
even in the most extreme cases we shall hardly fail of finding 
a propensity (akin to inquisitiveness) to talk for the sake of 
talking, and some trace of pleasure in beautiful and harmonious 

But the question, How is the higher mental life of both 
sexes characteristically distinguished, with reference either to 
these natural features or to any others ? is one which it seems 
hardly possible to answer. The innumerable observations, 
partly ingenious and partly also at the same time true, to 
which this question has given rise, have seldom been con- 
cerned to distinguish between what is to be regarded as 
original disposition, and what as a remote result of the 
circumstances of life and educational routine which have 
affected the two sexes very differently, although in harmony 
with their natural dispositions. However often the attempt 
may be made to reduce to simple intelligible expression the 
multitude of these particular characteristics, which only a 
life's experience can teach, and only the plastic creations of 


poetry can reproduce, it will always be found that such 
attempts must be content to give merely an extremely 
colourless outline of that which in its boundless wealth of 
colouring furnishes the philosopher of common life with an 
inexhaustible field of interest. 

I do not believe that the intellectual capacity of the sexes 
differs, except in so far as the special emotional interests of 
each have prescribed the course of their intellectual life. 
There is perhaps no subject which a woman's mind could 
not understand, but there are very many things in which 
women could never learn to be interested. Though it is 
often said that in knowledge a man is attracted by the 
universal, a woman by the particular, yet in very many 
cases we should find, that it is just the individualizing 
power of women which is inferior, and their delicate instinct 
for the universal which is superior ; and besides, this division 
of the work of knowledge to which we have just referred is 
inconsistent with the current attribution of egoistic effort to 
the masculine will, and of subordination to universal rules to 
womanly self - suppression. There would perhaps be more 
truth in the opinion that the knowledge and will of men aim 
at generality, those of women at completeness. It is masculine 
philosophy to analyse striking phsenomena and to find out from 
what complication of general conditions each of them inevitably 
and necessarily resulted, however much it may seem to be some 
arbitrary and chosen product of Nature ; it is characteristic of 
women to hate analysis and to enjoy and admire the beauty and 
intrinsic worth of any whole that may be presented to them iu 
finished completeness. All mechanical inventions have been 
made by men, and to men belongs delight in the mediate pro- 
duction of effects by the application of general forces according 
to general laws ; while the actual manipulation belongs rather 
to women, and to them also the desire to find that the warmth 
of living feeling is being as it were transferred immediately to 
the product of their activity. Characteristic of masculine 
thought is the deep conviction that all which is greatest and 
most beautiful in the world has its mechanical conditions, and 


tliat no result which is premature and which evades this 
fixed order of realization can he permanent and stable ; it is 
to this thought that is due the order by which life is organized, 
an order that is everywhere dependent on the principle of 
law, that is on the belief that the universally valid con- 
ditions of truth must be satisfied before there can be any 
question of a result that may be desirable in some particular 
case. On the other hand, the faith of women — which is both 
just in itself and as necessary as the other to the happiness 
of life — is that no general principle and no form can ever 
have an independent and unconditioned value, but that such 
v^alue belongs exclusively to the living reality which may be 
founded on them ; from this faith flow all the beauty and 
compensations of life, for it is a faith which is everywhere 
dependent on that principle of equity, which makes men 
feel bound to soften the harshness of law by unowed love 
and kindness ; the misfortune is that this desire to show 
kindness is often in danger of hastily and unjustly breaking 
through forms of law which hinder the fulfilment of its 

All masculine effort depends upon profound reverence for 
general principles ; a man's pride even and ambition are not 
satisfied by groundless homage, but he founds his claim upon 
the sum of generally recognisable superiority which he believes 
himself to possess ; he feels that he is undoubtedly something 
more than a mere example of the universal, and he demands 
to be compared with others by means of some common 
standard. Just as devout is the sentiment of the feminine 
mind towards completeness ; a woman no more desires to be 
considered as an example among others than the beauty of 
one flower requires to be compared with that of others accord- 
ing to some standard of comparison ; and while a man 
cheerfully joins himself to others who are like-minded and 
cheerfully perishes with them for the sake of some general 
principle, a woman would rather be sought and loved as some- 
thing fair and complete in herself, and for the sake of her own 
individuality, which is a thing that is not susceptible of 


comparison, nor explicable by reference to otber individuals. 
For certainly in the feeling with which we regard such a 
whole, love in the strict sense is more prominent than esteem, 
but it is pre-eminently esteem and not love which a man 
requires in the feeling with which he is regarded ; he is not 
merely willing that his worth should be measured by a 
common standard, but he demands that it should be so 
measured. No one, of course, will so misunderstand this 
contrast as to imagine that we mean that a woman's nature 
has, like the unanalysable fragrance of a flower, no pretensions 
to call forth the sentiment of esteem, which is in fact aroused 
in a very high degree by particular virtues which appear in 
women, and which are susceptible of comparison. 

We only need to look about us as we go through life in 
order to find a thousand traits which bear witness to this general 
dissimilarity. The business communications of men are brief, 
those of women are wordy, and generally abound in repetition ; 
it is plain that they have little faith in the trustworthiness of 
a promise which is guaranteed merely by the general obliga- 
tion to truth and good faith, and is not clenched by a variety 
of small considerations drawn from a comprehensive survey of 
the case in hand. Men lay less stress upon the harmonious 
arrangement of their spatial surroundings, except in as far as 
these secure the immediate and ready applicability of means 
to desired ends ; but they value punctuality as regards time, 
which is in a much higher degree a mechanical condition of 
all success; women have the happy knack of arranging a 
multitude of objects in space in such a way as to produce a 
pleasant effect on the whole without any rigid adherence to 
system ; but they show less management with regard to time, 
which is something that cannot be seen. When men and 
women speak of regard to form they generally mean very 
different things ; the womanly nature is concerned to round 
off into a graceful and consistent whole the final product of 
any activity ; her skill lies in knowing what is appropriate to 
the case in hand, which very often is exactly that which the 
man's judgment disapproves ; for the forms which he would 


choose to have observed are general rules of orderly procedure, 
which must be carried out even at the cost of producing some 
isolated discords. With the above is closely connected the 
well-known unjudicial character of women. Tt does not 
consist in an incapacity to sacrifice individual claims, for 
nothing could exceed the cheerfulness with which women 
make such sacrifices, as soon as they have actually set before 
them that good of others for the sake of which the sacrifice is 
to be made. But they feel aggrieved because very often the 
law in considering any given case does not regard it as a 
whole, but brings it under some general definition in virtue of 
some special characteristics, the selection of which seems to 
the woman's mind to be arbitrary ; the definition itself seeming 
to be not less arbitrary, because, being a general rule of pro- 
cedure, the ultimate good which it seems to secure is not 
directly presented. A man does not rebel against undertaking 
things of which he cannot see the result, if the carrying out 
of some' general principle is concerned ; women require to 
have the future results set plainly before their eyes, they want 
to anticipate beforehand the final form of the whole, to know 
in what shape the unrest of action will be embodied in the 
end. This disposition, this happy faith that there is some 
answer to every puzzle, some mode of reconciling every con- 
flict, some way of gathering up in the end the loose threads of 
broken effort, has unquestionably an injurious as well as 
beneficial effect on the masculine mind, women being able to 
produce this effect in consequence of the share which they 
have in education. That consideration of possible results which 
holds men back from action at moments when inevitable duty 
is in question, is generally due to maternal influence. 

A man generally regards his property as what it really is, 
as a collection of usable and divisible means to various ends, 
and his liberality is not disturbed by the idea of breaking into 
some imaginary completeness which attaches to it as a whole ; 
when women are extravagant, their extravagance generally 
consists in making purchases for which they will not them- 
selves pay the money. On the other hand, property which they 


have once acquired and actually have in possession often seems 
to them a kind of sacred deposit, all the parts of which belong 
to one another, and which it would therefore be wrong to disturb. 
What draws down upon their management the suspicion of a 
leaning to avarice, is not exactly an unwillingness to impart 
to others, but certainly, to some extent, that reverence for the 
intrinsic coherence of things, which is expressed equally in 
their horror of disturbing some treasured remembrance, break- 
ing up some possession with which the whole of life seems to 
be entwined, and in their mysterious satisfaction in exacting 
" good measure." 

Finally, I would venture the assertion that to the soul of 
a woman truth does not mean the same thing that it does to 
a man's mind. For women everything is true which is justified 
by a capacity of fitting in harmoniously and significantly into 
the rest of the world considered as a whole, with all its system 
of relations ; they do not care so much about its being at the 
same time a reality. Hence they are inclined not to lying but 
to making a fair show, and if something presents the appear- 
ance they desire in some connection which they regard as 
important, they care little whether or not it would prove on 
investigation to be something which has any right to present 
that appearance. To wish to seem what one is not, is indeed 
a failing common to all humanity, but a man is accustomed to 
require, at any rate in the goods which he possesses, solidity 
and genuineness ; among women, on the contrary, there is a 
widespread predilection for shams. Having such leanings, they 
are not given to scientific labours, and their mode of thought 
is artistic and intuitive. As a poet does not create characters 
by analysis and calculation, but is assured that they are true 
to nature if he can himself in his own mind follow their whole 
action with natural and spontaneous sympathy, so women love 
to put themselves in imagination in the place of things, and 
as soon as they have succeeded in getting some idea of what 
it is like to exist and move and develop in the way in which 
any given thing exists, moves, and develops, they think they 
understand it thoroughly. That the possibility of things being 


and liappening as they do involves a scientific riddle, is 
something which it is hard to make a woman understand. It 
13 easy to see the connection between all this and some of the 
great goods of life, for instance, firmness of religious belief, 
and calm assurance of moral feeling ; but we also find this 
preponderance of living tact over scientific analysis in many 
small and inconspicuous traits. Women employ a thousand 
delicate technical devices in their daily work ; but they can 
with difficulty describe, they can only show, that which they 
have skilfully accomplished. Analytic reflection upon their 
own movements is so little familiar to them that one may 
afBrm, without fear of being very far wrong, that such expres- 
sions as, to tJie right, to the left, across, reverse, express in the 
language of women, not any mathematical relations, but certain 
particular feelings which one has when in working one makes 
movements in these directions. 

§ 4. But I am in danger of trying to exhaust that which 
is inexhaustible; and I am the more bound to avoid this 
because a consideration of life in the concrete shows us every- 
where the part taken by both sexes in the whole constitution 
of life and its enjoyments. Still a brief indication of the limits 
imposed on each sex by its own special nature, may guide us 
in a special consideration of the divergent developments which 
we see arise from the national character of diflferent tribes and 
races. We often find among the people of one nation that 
many mental as well as bodily peculiarities are transmitted 
with great persistence from parent to child for several genera- 
tions, especially talents for those arts which are concerned 
with combinations of many elements that can be intuitively 
apprehended. Examples of the inheritance of mathematical, 
musical, artistic, and technical capacity are not rare, and with 
these are connected primarily the transmission of similar 
temperaments, in which we have already recognised general 
formal peculiarities of mental life. Parents are often 
astonished at seeing reproduced in their children the same 
faults and the same little tricks of which they are conscious 
in themselves ; in civilised life, indeed, where persons of the 



most dififerently developed characters unite to form new 
families, the very reverse of this is often seen, or at least we 
cannot trace the nature of the child to any mixture of the 
qualities of the parents ; but on the other hand, among un- 
civilised tribes not only is a considerable constancy of such 
transmission to be expected, but the expectation is confirmed 
by actual experience. 

We may try to derive all the national differences of 
civilised people from the influence of the peculiar conditions 
of their civilisation, which are to a great extent dependent on 
geographical position and the vicissitudes of history, this 
influence being of overpowering importance, and pervading 
the whole of life ; but we cannot by so doing remove the 
general impression received from observation, that nowadays 
at least every new-bom life comes into the world with some 
innate and inevitable national stamp, quite independent of its 
later contact with the civilisation of its nation. It would bo 
useless to try and explain this phgenomenon, as observers 
differ so much in their opinion of the extent to which it 
occurs. We cannot decide finally whether all races are 
capable of an equal degree of civilisation, but we find that the 
most favoured nations share in the development of humanity 
in unequal measure, and in ways peculiar to themselves, and 
we see that individuals of the same nations are very differently 
endowed with mental energy and activity; finally, we have 
every reason to believe that the savagery in which we find 
the coloured races of men is by no means a condition abso- 
lutely inseparable from their nature. Our primary deduction 
from these considerations is the conviction that to attempt to 
deny all original difference of endowment is a superfluous 
undertaking, for when we have denied it of the great divisions 
of the human race, it infallibly recurs in individuals, and such 
a connate limit can be no more oppressive for the former than 
for the latter. The only question is, whether all races of men 
have in common those capacities which are necessary to lead 
them to a participation in the moral inheritance of mankind, 
and to unite them in human fellowship. It is not now our 



intention to give an answer to this question, wLich belongs to 
the Philosophy of History, but we shall find a preparation for 
the answer in a consideration of the general way in which 
the inborn nature of men is stirred up by the educative 
influences of Nature and of social relations to the production 
of all that is most essential to life. 

vor,. 11. 



Conscience and Moral Taste— Untrustworthiness of ITatural Disposition— Food 
—Cannibalism— Craelty and Bloodthirstiness— Cleanness of Body and of 
Mind— Modesty— Disparagement and Exaltation of Nature— Realism of 
Individual Perfection, and Idealism of Work— Social Customs. 

R 1, XTTHEN we sought in the human mind for the germ 
▼ » of moral development, we did not seem to find 
there any complete revelation directly enabling it to bring the 
relations of life, or even those parts of human conduct which 
are of most universal concern, into harmony with undoubted 
precepts of moral order. Even in an educated conscience, a 
lively conviction of the worth of an ideal by no means guarantees 
the simultaneous presence either of that sensitiveness of 
judgment which is necessary for discriminating instances of 
its genuine realization from spurious imitations, or of that 
creative imagination which can apply the well-known general 
type to particular cases without distortion or misapprehension. 
Many a man whose soul was deeply stirred by thoughts of 
the supremely good and beautiful, but who found in his own 
age no artistically perfect expression of his ideal, has fancied 
that he saw it realized in forms, the sorry poverty of which 
calls forth the astonishment of a later and more developed 
age. Forced to satisfy its longing with something which it 
has, the mind easily over-estimates those meagre outlines 
which it invests with the life and colour of its own feeling ; 
and thus accustomed to take the will for the deed, it 
becomes unreceptive, timid, and perverse towards that fuller 
beauty which reality presents, and which if it only were 
intelligible would much more effectually satisfy the soul's 
needs. This has been very much the case with moral de- 


velopment. We may, indeed, certainly ascribe to the human 
mind the possession of innate general ideas of Eight, of what 
ought to be ; but the moral skill which enables us to find, in 
every individual case, the special form in which this Right 
should be realized, is decidedly a product of progressive 
civilisation, and happy traits of natural disposition are not a 
full and sufficient but only an extremely imperfect and frag- 
mentary substitute for it. 

This will appear to be self-evident with regard to all those 
more important human institutions, such as the State, or the 
organization of civil society, which, in as far as they are the 
intentional product of human skill, can only be founded on 
a knowledge of the thousand-fold relations which bind the 
members of a society both to one another and to the con- 
ditions of external life which they have in common ; and this 
knowledge can only be attained and gradually perfected by 
the actual experience of life. But where man is related to 
his fellow in a way that does not involve any of these com- 
plicated relationships, or where he dwells alone face to face 
with external Nature, one might suppose that his conduct 
would be guided more unambiguously by the innate voice 
of Conscience, prescribing to him not only fitting ethical 
sentiments but also the manners and morals corresponding to 
these as their natural expression. However, a comparison of 
the different modes of human life teaches us the very contrary. 
What it is fitting a man should do or leave undone, in what 
way it is becoming that he should order his surroundings and 
his social behaviour, what he should esteem and what he 
should avoid, and what things are without claims upon him, 
and of no importance to him — finally how he ought to dis- 
pose all his conduct and every detail of his action, so that 
his life may be a harmonious whole — all this must be learnt 
in a long course of development, and never can be fully 

I learnt. The innate goodness of mankind is very far indeed 
irom leading directly to such a development of morality. 
Many a simple custom of peoples who are yet uncivilised 
pay well compare favourably with the distorted growths of 


our civilisation ; the unsophisticated manifestation of isolated 
traits of natural nobility may well have a charm for us ; but 
around these bright spots the shadows lie all the deeper, and 
the general character of this life of Nature, and of every 
people that is in a state of Nature, exhibits the instability, the 
incoherence, and the incalculable inconsistency with which, 
side by side with attractive manifestations of particular moral 
feelings, inhuman crime and the most astounding perver- 
sity of conduct flourish in rank luxuriance. We are struck 
by some advantages of a state of Nature which are for the 
most part, though never necessarily, sacrificed by civilisation 
for the sake of higher ends, and we long to return to the 
simplicity of such a life — forgetting that it is civilisation itself 
which has sharpened our appreciation for it as presenting a 
pleasing contrast to the conditions that are evil in our own. 
state, and that with the charm of such an existence there is 
associated a poverty which neither knows nor can produce 
a large proportion of the best goods of life. In such moods 
we are but too apt to lose courage, and it is this which so 
often makes us turn back from the complication of great and 
not altogether successful undertakings to refresh ourselves with 
the complete success of more insignificant works, rather than 
push forward with a good courage notwithstanding. A little 
flock is soon counted ; and he who shrinks from venturing on 
the open sea and steering his course among the thousand con- 
flicting claims of a civilised life which, as regards all mental 
interests, is stirred to its very depths, can easily construct an 
idyl on which the eye may dwell with momentary satis- 
faction, but only to turn away from it wearied after a 
very brief space. A fine climate, inherited excellence of 
bodily organization, and absence of hard work, develop among 
men, as among beasts, the greatest beauty and suppleness of 
form, and a natural gracefulness of carriage, independent of 
any deep spiritual life ; kindliness and good nature which we 
would gladly count among innate human qualities are very 
likely to brighten life and beautify it by traits of social refine- 
ment in cases where simple relations exist which "ive no 



occasion to lasting and deep-rooted conflict ; but untutored 
spirits are not accustomed to take a comprehensive view of 
human life ; they know not its significance and the aims which 
are set before it, aid hence they find only too many barren 
spots in life, too many moral difficulties which receive no 
decided answer, too many practical questions which may, it 
seems, be answered indifferently this way or that — and which 
consequently are frequently decided in accordance with the 
impulse due to temperament and external circumstances, 
leading often to an extreme of inhumanity and a barbarism 
which are in the most violent contradiction to the amiable 
traits that promised so much. 

This moral untrustworthiness is by no means peculiar to 
uncivilised peoples in their natural condition. Even in our 
own highly civilised state, many an evil disposition is kept 
under only by the unremitting pressure exercised on all sides 
by the authority of systematised social forces ; and not 
only so, but narrowness of moral insight, want of a delicate 
perception of the way in which the moral ideal should include 
and animate even the simplest relations of life, and all the 
rudeness of mere selfish subjectivism might appear at any 
moment, even among us, with most confusing effect if past 
centuries had not preserved and matured mighty spiritual 
forces of objective validity which they have handed down to 
us in the treasures of science, art, law, and religion. It is 
these which help the nobler minds to recognise that close 
connection between all the most sacred spiritual possessions 
of men which the individual could not discover unaided, 
whilst they keep baser natures within bounds as a system of 
institutions which, though uncomprehended, happen to have 
the authority. And finally, at no time can we say either 
that this vast fabric of human civilisation is completed, or 
that all its parts are at the same stage of advancement. In 
all societies there are departments of life which, though 
susceptible of thorough moral cultivation, are yet given over 
to individual caprice arising from temperament, as though 
they were subject to no law or rule; on the other hand, 


there are customs, really indifferent in themselves, which have 
become established as having the force of absolutely binding 
commands, much to the detriment of progress. Finally, our 
morality as a whole suffers from a deficiency which it never 
will, and indeed never ought to, surmount wholly; a 
deficiency, namely, of perfectly clear theoretic insight into 
the grounds of the binding validity of its demands — such an 
insight as would be capable of making faith in the dignity of 
moral institutions independent of any change of mood, and 
hence out of the reach of that scepticism which passion and 
the sharp troubles of our earthly lot only too easily arouse. 

In saying that this deficiency ought not to be wholly 
surmounted, what we mean is that it would not be advan- 
tageous for moral development if the binding truth of all 
particular moral commands, and the indissoluble connection 
between them, were presented to individual minds with the 
theoretical certainty of an arithmetical proof, and if it were 
not left for every soul to fight its way through the battle of 
life, by living, believing action and effort, to this clearness of 
comprehensive moral intuition. As a possibility of doing ill 
is everywhere a condition of the realization of what is good, 
so this peculiarity of moral cultivation makes possible both 
original divergence to barbarism and a relapse into it. The 
dignity of any moral custom or ceremony can very seldom be 
convincingly shown when it is regarded in isolation and not 
in its connection with the whole spiritual significance of 
human life ; having a thousand roots entwined in this, it is 
generally wholly incapable of a concise syllogistic proof that 
does not, in its turn, require to have its own presuppositions 
supported by an infinite series of proof. Just on this account 
every moral command is exposed to the destructive sophistry 
which, taking anything that appears an abomination to our 
civilised ideas, can so separate it from its relations with the 
whole of life as to make it seem merely an innocent matter 
of fact. And not only so, but we also learn how impossible 
it is for the untutored reflection of a so-called state of Nature 
io avoid developing what is crooked and barbarous, side b;' 


side with those elements of personal merit to which a good 
disposition prompts. 

§ 2. It may not be uninteresting to recall some instances 
both of the dawning Moral Taste which led men gradually to 
seek emancipation from the guidance of mere natural instinct, 
and also of the mistakes to which reflection was exposed in 
this progress. If we begin with a consideration of the bodily 
wants which first roused men to barter, and to the adoption 
of some simple rules of life, we observe that no people have 
ever had any moral scruple with regard to the consumption of 
vegetable food. The whole course of vegetable life is so 
unlike our own that the ripening fruits seem expressly fitted 
for our use as mere means, equally removed from the unser- 
viceable toughness of inorganic material, and from that 
animal life which checks the longing of appetite by a kind 
of natural repulsion. The pious anchorite, feeding on roots 
and fruit, or at the outside on honey — the product indeed of 
animal activity, but itself inanimate — and the tribes who, in 
primitive innocence, support existence on the produce of the 
bread-fruit tree and the date-palm, are pictures which are 
harmonious in themselves, and with which our fancy is 
familiar. But dawning civilisation soon grows ashamed of 
such an unsophisticated use of Nature's raw products; it 
seems not altogether becoming to live so directly from hand 
to mouth, and the fruits of the trees and of the fields come 
to be at least gathered together and stored up, before they 
are wanted for use. It is as though the mere lapse of time 
between the moment when Nature matures them, and the 
moment when we enjoy them, had loosened their connection 
with the outer world, or as though they had become more 
assimilated to our own nature through being in our posses- 
sion for a time. But it is seldom that we stop here. The 
inventions of cookery may indeed be chiefly intended to 
enhance a pleasure of sense, but we may certainly find 
another and less obvious motive of culinary activity in the 
obscure impulse which urges us to disturb the form given by 
Nature's o\\n hand, to alter the raw condition of nutritive 


material, and to give to this before we use it, as far as 
possible, the character of a product of our own fancy. It 
would be a mistake to object in answer to this that when 
we escape from the ceremonious propriety of our civilised life, 
we delight to climb the trees and eat the fruit as we pluck 
it from the bough ; it is just because our sense of civilised 
existence is so strong that we take pleasure in divesting our- 
selves for a moment of that which we can always resume at 
will, and in dwelling for a moment with satisfaction on the 
consciousness that our life is a life of sense, and in close 
connection with Nature. The truth of this will be readily 
seen if we imagine how odd it would look for man, the 
thinking creature, to go out daily at meal-time into the fields 
to devour a turnip on the spot, just as he had pulled it out 
of the ground. 

But nearly every dawning civilisation has had scruples 
concerning the lawfulness and propriety of eating animal 
food. Man has such a deep horror of consuming the dead 
bodies of those animals which have died a natural death, 
that he has always preferred to undertake the intentional 
killing of beasts, this destruction being to a great extent 
made less repulsive to him by the excitement of having to 
defend himself against their attacks. But in the choice of 
what we use for food an unquestionably moral taste has 
gradually prescribed limits, the worth and significance of 
which it would be hard to reduce to definite notions. By 
civilised peoples it is almost exclusively vertebrate animals 
that are used for food, and even among these amphibia at any 
rate have never been generally used ; among the invertebrate 
animals, on the other hand, we can mention a few, and but 
a very few, such as the oyster and the crab, which people 
venture to consume in their natural state, whilst some others, 
as snails, are only endured as disguised ingredients of pre- 
pared dishes. It may be easy for the doctrinaire mind to 
prove that at bottom meat is flesh, if indeed it does not 
succeed in establishing the still more remarkable discovery 
that the range of our natural appetite is coincident with that 


of albuminous material in the animal kingdom, and that it 
ceases when we come to the lower orders of animals where 
these materials are replaced by others of different composition 
and more heterogeneous to us ; but spite of all reasoning, the 
natural taste of civilised men adheres obstinately to the 
opinion that animals do certainly differ from one another in 
being some clean and others unclean. To eat insects and 
worms, leeches, maggots, and vermin, will always be regarded 
as a mark of hideous barbarism, however great their nutritive 
value may prove to be. 

It is partly the shapelessness of these living objects which 
disgusts us, partly the numerous disagreeable qualities attach- 
ing to their exterior — ^as, for instance, slimy coldness — partly 
the strangeness of their appearance, and even their small size : 
for though we may take animal food, eating of meat which 
comes before us in pieces of considerable size, there seems 
something repulsive in the idea of consuming whole organisms 
with all their vital apparatus, something revolting in swallow- 
ing an object that comprises in itself the variety of a complete 
though minute anatomy, that we cannot disjoint. We thus 
seem impelled by a natural instinct to the consumption of 
creatures which are of a higher order, and whose organization 
is more akin to our own. 

How dangerous this indication may be in itself does not 
need to be specially emphasized; it is plain that logically 
followed out it leads to Cannibalism. And, indeed, it is 
hardly to be doubted that men in a paradisiacal state of 
I^ature have often enough in all innocence followed it out to 
this result, seeing no evil in it — indeed, even when the dawn 
of reflection had broken, they were by no means at a loss for 
pretexts which should invest with the semblance of tender 
consideration a custom we regard as the very extreme of 
inhuman barbarism. What could be a more appropriate 
fate for the organic remains of beloved persons than to be 
converted forthwith into the living flesh and blood of their 
descendants, instead of being consigned to the horrors of cor- 
ruption ? A man may be absorbed in tender recollection of 


the friend whom he has eaten, as he plays with the bleached 
knuckle-bones of the dead, and he may listen in amaze to the 
horror expressed by a civilised stranger at such proceedings. 
It may be objected that even cannibalism revolts from devour- 
ing the bodies of those who have died a natural death, and 
that therefore as a matter of fact, the feast of a cannibal 
must always be preceded by murder. But what is there that 
could effectually restrain men who are in a state of Xature 
from killing their enemies, or even neighbours to whom they 
are otherwise quite amicably disposed ? We should remember 
how fond we ourselves grow of the domestic animals which 
we feed for human consumption, and how, without feeling 
any particular moral contradiction, we give them a final 
caress the evening before they are to be slaughtered. So 
much that is contradictory finds room in our minds, that we 
ought hardly to feel boundless astonishment at hearing of 
wild tribes who invite their parents, when becoming aged, 
to let themselves be killed and eaten, and when we find 
that the soft, natural grace and friendly deportment of the 
South Sea islanders hides a craving for human flesh. 

If one thinks how easy it would be for an ingenious mind 
to bring forward whole series of reasons, plausible and hard 
to be refuted, in justification of such atrocious customs, one 
sees the more what a vast moral effect civilisation produces 
by merely holding fast the opposite conviction, and by its 
unhesitating and energetic refusal of such sophistry. The 
real positive grounds of this civilised conviction will probably 
not be alleged ordinarily, for they do not lie on the surface 
of our civilisation as isolated maxims which can easily be 
collected thence, but are bound up with the very foundation 
of our whole philosophic view. The deeper our insight into 
human destiny becomes, the more sacred does every individual 
human being seem to us, and the more unconditionally do we 
refuse to attempt to take the measure of his relative worth, with 
a view to determining whether he has already accomplished his 
task and tasted his share of happiness, and may now be treated 
as mere matter devoid of rights, which we may, if we choose 



consign to destruction — finally, the more intolerable becomes 
the thought that the body, which, as the vesture of a human 
soul, belonged to that soul in an unique sense, should be 
disintegrated in any other way than by those natural forces 
to which it owed its formation, or that its substance should 
be used by others as a mere means for the support of animal 
life. The spirit of civilisation has set upon human personality 
that seal of inviolability which the perversity of a state of 
Nature sometimes sets upon external objects ; and wherever 
our conduct is not actuated by this sentiment, wherever Law 
and Society still treat individuals as though they were things, 
there our civilisation is marred by a remnant of barbarism, 
and there we have not yet succeeded in vanquishing the 
principle of barbarism altogether. 

Even to have vanquished it in essentials has not been easy, 
and a glance at very various periods of history is sufiicient to 
convince us that the task is not yet completed — ^that a con- 
siderable degree of so-called civilisation is not incompatible 
with a sanguinary background of cruelty, sometimes proceeding 
from natural savagery, sometimes from cold-blooded bigotry. 
We very often see in children a disposition to torment 
animals ; and it is said that the North American Indian 
never passes a bird's nest without destroying it. Among 
barbarous tribes it is often found that not only the physical 
courage which they have in common with the beasts, but 
also many a trait of weak voluptuousness is combined with 
deliberate cruelty ; and if thirst for blood is not a prime 
characteristic of human nature, neither is there implanted in 
it anything like such a horror of bloodshed as many an 
optimist thinks. In the early stages of almost all civilisa- 
tions we find the custom of avenging blood by blood ; and 
the fact that we meet with it as a custom, as an established 
duty, shows that this wild impulse of revenge was passed on 
from a state of barbarism to ordered societies, which were 
incapable of repressing it. The East Indian Thugs and the 
Assassins I will merely mention, for we very easily credit 
mystical fanaticism with utterly obscuring human feeling. 


even in the midst of civilisation which is in other respects 
far advanced. But in the most enlightened age of Greece 
and Eome we find the exposing of weakly children recom- 
mended in the most open way, in an ideal constitutional con- 
struction ; and we find, in practice, the abomination of a system 
of slavery, that could not claim even such justification as may 
be found for the white slave-owner of the present day, in the 
contempt that he feels for the black-skinned race which he 
reckons as belonging to the inferior animals — a system in 
which, on the contrary, men were enslaved by others of their 
own race, and in which there was much more cold, systematic 
cruelty than in modern slavery, and hardly less of passionate 
savagery. And all this in a Golden Age of art, and amid the 
■glory of one of the great kingdoms of the world. 

But we do not need to go back to distant centuries for 
instances of what lies at our very doors. I am not alluding 
to the evils inseparable from war — war which springs up 
again afresh in every age, and which it is idle to hope that 
we can charm away with the olive branch of peace. When 
advanced civilisation turns to this last resource, it is not 
because any delight in outrage stirs it to the temporary 
unchaining of murderous forces, but because it recognises 
that the complication of the situation is too great to be 
solved by existing human wisdom. No one denies that, 
spite of this recognition, the solution would often be really 
very easy to find ; but the very fact that the right view does 
not obtain general acceptance and realization, is one of the 
inevitable deficiencies of every civilisation which has recourse 
to the ultimatum of war. So men betake themselves to 
the extreme remedy of momentarily suspending those laws 
of humanity by which we are ordinarily bound, and of 
referring to force the decision which has been sought in 
vain from wisdom; yet still the suspension is only partial, 
and men always regard as sacred, at least those forms of 
intercourse which serve to facilitate the return at any 
moment from a state of violence to peaceable relations. 
Therefore, however lamentable it may be to see this appeal of 


civilisation to force recurring again and again, we find even in 
the appeal itself a reference to that good to which men hope it 
will help them to return ; but there are not wanting proofs 
of a continued influence of barbarous philosophy in sugges- 
tions which are made unhesitatingly even in our own time ; 
in incitements to wars of extermination, in exhortations to 
assassination, in instigations to go beyond legitimate self- 
defence and the re-establishment of justice, to deeds of 
immoderate and bloody revenge. 

§ 3. Let us, however, turn back to those simple phseno- 
mena in which dawning civilisation betrays a gradual 
heightening of the human sense of self-esteem. To keep one's 
own body free from all accretions of extraneous matter is 
an impulse of cleanliness which is everywhere a sign either 
of the beginning of culture, or of a happy natural constitu- 
tion that promises to favour the establishment of culture. 
On the whole, we can hardly maintain that cleanliness is 
natural to men in a higher degree than to the beasts ; it 
springs up spontaneously among people who are invited by 
the proximity of the ocean to frequent indulgence in the 
pleasure of the bath; but where this favouring condition is 
absent, we find not only that barbarous nations are extremely 
uncleanly, but that even among those who have pretensions to 
belong to the civilised world, uncleanliness is quite compatible 
on the one hand with effeminate good nature, and on the 
other hand with active aesthetic taste for beauty in outward 
form and movement. Uncleanliness is unendurable only to 
those civilised nations who strive after order and con- 
sistency in their inner life, in their whole system of thought, 
in their feelings and endeavours. Gifts of genius, as well 
as benevolence of disposition, have in every respect an extra- 
ordinary compatibility with uncleanliness and disorder; on 
the other hand, nations which are not so remarkable for these 
endowments, but which produce more perfect characters, 
will be inclined to the same nicety and systematic precision 
with regard to their own persons which they introduce into 
their occupations and surroundings. 


I am not, I think, having recourse to a fai^fetched 
analogy when I couple with this outwaid virtue the inner 
virtue of truthfulness. The worth of truth, and the total 
impossibility of carrying on human intercourse under a 
system of barefaced lying, is so strongly felt, even by men 
in the most barbarous state, that lying has always been 
regarded as the root of all evil, at least in certain circum- 
stances in which men reckon upon truth. But the impulse 
to speak truth is not directly bound up with the recogni- 
tion of its worth, and it is only in civilised society that the 
liar appears to himself worthy of condemnation, whilst the 
life of barbarians is in many respects founded on craft and 
carefully cultivated hypocrisy. We may remark that to a 
man of morally cultivated mind it is peculiarly hard to tell an 
isolated lie on the spur of the moment for some temporary 
and isolated end ; he feels that it disturbs too conspicuously 
his consistency as an individual, and is conscious of being 
untrue to himself ; it is much easier to make consistent lying 
the maxim of his conduct; in that case he can still be con- 
scious of having a coherent individuality, not destitute of all 
method and order. The same thing is seen in the case of 
other moral relations ; men hesitate to infringe one isolated 
law of social order the more if they still recognise the others, 
and by this recognition condemn their own deed ; it is some- 
what easier to set oneself in opposition to social order 
altogether, and to wage war against the world, like some 
monster cut adrift from it. In such a course there may yet 
be expressed — though misguided to the last degree — the 
impulse of an individualizing personality to establish the 
basis of its own conduct not in dependence on foreign condi- 
tions, but in systematic complete harmony with itself. 

Around these rare cases of conscious grand systematic 
untruth clusters the incredible amount of petty incoherent 
falsity, which in the most varied forms pervades all strata of 
civilised society, and which seems to me much less akin 
to lying in the ordinary sense than to that impurity and 
untrustworthiness of the inner life which appear, only im- 


perfectly veiled by fair appearance, as the general rule 
among barbarous men. To a character of thorousfh moral 
development every entangled complication of circumstances, 
every uncertainty regarding claims which it is entitled to 
make or called upon to satisfy, every doubt about its relations 
to others is as odious as bodily impurity. We need only com- 
pare with this the prevailing inclinations of the lower classes, 
in order to see those moral deficiencies which it is so hard for 
imperfect civilisation to avoid; the difficulty of extracting 
from them a definite, decided promise, their constant dis- 
position to leave everything they can in a state of fluctuating 
uncertain indecision, their inaccessibility to the notion that 
one's word once given is of binding obligation, and — in wider 
circles — the propensity to cling to doubtful and untenable 
relations, the hope that if one never takes a decided step one 
will be able in the hurly-burly of events to snatch some 
advantage, of which one has at present no clear notion — in 
short, inexhaustible patience with all sorts of confusion, and 
a delight in wriggling on, with the help of procrastination, 
waiting about, half-admissions and retractions, and general 
uncertainty, through the course of events which to men thus 
inclined seems itself equally uncertain. Among the more 
intelligent upper classes the same deficiency recurs, but under 
other forms, or under the same forms, but in different connec- 
tions ; among them, as among those whose conditions of life 
are less favoured, the noble spirits are but few, but there are 
some of these in all ranks of life — souls who, with an un- 
wearied impulse towards truth, renounce all those pretexts 
with which the slothful of heart seek to excuse this mental 
instability, and who, moved by the enthusiasm and force of 
moral conviction, not only desire to make their whole duty 
clear before their eyes at every step of this changing life, but 
also obey with unhesitating decision every clear call to 

. Unexpected perfidy and perfectly sudden and inexplicable 
changes of mood have always been the first wa!rnings which 
have roused mistrust towards the deceptive friendliness of 


barbarous men. It is the nature of a beast to act in accordance 
with the passion of the moment, but in a man the passionate 
motives to action due to momentary feeling should be 
moderated by the counterbalancing force of the other moral 
motives which the memory of past experience has stored up. 
Children and barbarous peoples lack this retarding or regu- 
lating flywheel that can hinder, as in machines, the precipitate 
course of springs once set in motion, and we can as little 
rely upon their moods as upon the course of the weather. 
To realize this one must look into one's own mind. How 
easily is one inspired with momentary enthusiasm by some 
noble thought, or the idea of performing some magnanimous 
deed ! But this excitement is followed by a state of nervous 
exliaustion, or, to state the case more simply and honestly, by 
laziness ; there wake up all sorts of little likes and dislikes 
which were hushed at first ; and at last, although the work 
may, as we had pictured it to ourselves, be indeed a noble 
one, yet all the same we find that we can get on without it, 
and besides who would thank us for our pains if we were 
to trouble about it ? Here we see that moral weakness 
which so lightly dons the cloak of heroism, but has not the 
enduring strength necessary for holding fast the ideals of 
youth, and then coolly, as though it had long ago weighed 
the whole matter, rejects as an idle dream that which it was 
too lazy to convert from a dream to reality. In a mind 
which has not been furnished either by education or by rich 
experience with power sufficient to withstand this sloth, the 
obscurer of all that is good, but which retains unimpaired the 
capacity of appreciating every passing advantage or dis- 
advantage, the sloth wiU be almost necessarily intensified to 
falsity. Any fancy that crosses the mind, any unfamiliar 
association of Ideas, rouses mistrust, and disturbs the equili- 
brium of these poverty-stricken souls, for whom all steady 
social intercourse makes shipwreck on the rock of their own 
incapacity to calculate and guide the course of their inner 
life — a course which is not amenable to any standard of reason- 
ableness, of principle, and of self-government. We find that 


this running wild of the course of thought and of changes of 
mood is not confined to men who are in a state of barbarism, 
any more than other moral deficiencies are ; on the contrary, 
it is found among all nations except those which by a long 
course of development embracing equally all departments of 
human life have become the very repositories of human 
culture ; and alas ! the genius of civilisation — quieter, self- 
centred, hemmed in by a thousand self-imposed limits — is but 
too often imposed upon by this as yet unexhausted " natural 
force." For we find ready to our hand this and other flatter- 
ing names for such untamed and untutored wildness, which 
bribes our aesthetic judgment sometimes with the heroic 
noise of boundless passion that must have its way, regardless 
of consequences, sometimes with the different charm of some- 
thing unique, incommensurable, supernatural. We too easily 
forget that much which looks extremely well in a picture and 
has a striking effect in poetry, would make us heartily 
ashamed of our prepossession if we were to see it, not at a 
single favourable moment but in the ordinary course of life, 
in connection with all its manifold results. The charm of 
what is strange and full of characteristic expression and one- 
sided originality, is so great that it leads every one to be 
sometimes unjust towards that consistent, thoughtful, steadfast 
order of civilised life which though less warm in colouring is 
ineffably more worthy. 

I 4. "We now turn back once more to the most funda- 
mental relations between Nature and Man ; to the great 
mystery which joins our spiritual life to our bodily form, and 
mental excitations to external gesture and movement, which 
binds up the continuance of our personal life with the con- 
tinuous activity of the physical machine of our body — that 
body which we so cherish as long as it serves us, and which 
we regard with such strange horror as soon as life has 
departed from it ; by which, finally, our existence altogether 
is made dependent on the inexplicable secret of bodily repro- 
duction. The more deeply conscious the soul is of itself and 
of its destiny, the more obnoxious to its self-esteem is the 



direct unity presented by the combination of the inner life 
with the marvellous material organism, the soul being in- 
evitably forced to sympathize intensively, by pain and pleasure, 
with all the excitations of the body, and to trust to it for the 
expression, the accomplishment, and even the very quickening 
of its endeavours. For in truth the soul can enjoy the full 
warm life which alone can satisfy it, only if the supersensuous 
play of its states and activities is supplemented, as by a 
sensuous echo, by the sum of all those feelings which seem to 
make known to us the strength and elasticity, the tension or 
relaxation, the rest or the sympathetic stirring of desire 
which affect our material part. Our spiritual nature is every- 
where ashamed at finding itself in indissoluble connection 
with the world of sense — at the consciousness that while its 
own aims have intrinsic worth and are incommensurable with 
material processes, we are yet bound by the mechanical order 
of Nature, and that of our whole destiny no part could be 
realized without those natural impulses by which our 
endeavours are provided with tangible objects and means of 
attainment : it is the dim consciousness of all this which in 
the dawn of moral culture has produced those various develop- 
ments of the sense of shame by which the human race is 
everywhere prompted to veil the physical basis of its spiritual 
existence, especially when this physical basis furnishes the 
pre-eminently sensuous means by which we must reach the 
most precious and spiritual treasures of life and love. 

I will not attempt to decide what is the significance of 
those traces of a sense of Modesty which appear even among 
beasts, or to what extent it may be an innate natural feature 
of the human race. Observation of barbarous peoples reveals 
to us sometimes a considerate delicacy and purity of manners, 
but much more often a bestial absence of restraint in the 
satisfaction of all physical wants ; and we are left in doubt 
which of the two we should regard as original and which as 
the result of dawning civilisation or of almost total relapse 
into savagery, or, indeed, whether we should not refer differ- 
ences in this respect to peculiarities which are not shared 


by all mankind. However, beside the moral sentiment on 
these subjects which has on the whole become established 
among all civilised peoples, civilised reflection and sophistry 
■ have produced two one-sided but mutually-opposed views : 
on the one hand, the exaggerated contempt with which a 
fanatical spiritualism looks down upon all Nature as some- 
thing in itself unclean, shameful, and degrading, and to be 
resisted by every weapon of a gloomy asceticism ; on the 
other hand, the cool assumption that everything which is 
natural is pure. Neither the former opinion with its hatred 
of Nature, nor the latter with its easy complaisance, has 
succeeded in guiding the moral feelings of civilised humanity 
on the whole ; but both have had an important practical effect 
on the temper of different times, and both have in many 
ways obscured theoretic belief concerning the grounds of 
such moral feeling and the demands made by it. 

With regard to those deep and sacred joys of life which 
we can reach only through the middle term of sense, it is 
not a genuinely human feeling of modesty which leads us to 
despise and reject them merely on account of this medium, to 
which they are joined in the order of Nature ; on the other 
hand, in that intentional prying into this mysterious connection 
which vainly seeks to justify itself by the pretence of serving 
science, there is an unconscious immodesty; and not here 
only, but also in analysing, for the confirmation of christian 
humility, all the foulness and corruption on which rest the 
beauty and proud gladness of our life — in brief, in the dis- 
position to hunt after that which is impure and sinful, of 
which there will be the more to be found in proportion as 
the imagination which seeks it is the more corrupt. The man 
of genuine moral feeling sees primarily that which is pure and 
noble and divine in things ; the indissoluble connection of all 
this with the world of sense seems to him to be entailed by 
his own finiteness, but to have no power to destroy his faith 
in the worth of those blessings which are only accessible 
through the medium of sense. 

But on the other hand, the principle that all which is 


natural is to be regarded as pure, leads to a mode of thought 
and action which is rejected with equal decision by cultivated 
moral feeling. It can naturally be no reproach to a finite 
creature to be subject to the wants entailed by his bodily 
organization, and to say merely this would be to show but 
cheap wisdom. But that in our consideration of human life 
as a whole, we should regard these calls of Nature as entitled 
to put in an appearance without check or reserve, and to be 
reckoned in their primitive simplicity as among the pheeno- 
mena of moral development — this is a notion which we must 
in all cases reject as a mark of inhuman barbarism. It is 
difficult to say whether the claims of moral culture in life 
and in art are more deeply sinned against by the impassioned 
voluptuousness which breaks through many a moral barrier, 
and misuses poetry as a means to its own glorification, or by 
the cold unemotional temper, which — taking a pride in being 
beyond the reach of temptation and knowing nothing of what 
is seductive but only of what is unclean — seeks this last, and 
with naked plainness describes or practises it as being, or be- 
longing to, " human nature." If voluptuousness leads sooner to 
the transgression of moral limits, yet at least there is in it the 
remembrance of a natural charm to which the human impulse 
is subordinate ; but in that realism, coarse and scornful by 
turns, which takes pleasure in emphasizing the inevitable 
earthly element in all that is fair and noble, and in recognis- 
ing with deliberate expressness the impurity which our nature 
cannot shake off — in this there is a corruptness of imagination 
which far more completely, though perhaps less quickly, blunts 
all moral sensitiveness. Beside two such monstrous growths 
the principle of the purity of Nature will certainly for the 
most part lead to a middle path ; it will allow the general 
practical necessity of modest decency, but will blame as 
exaggerated sentimentality the wish to ignore those natural 
facts which it is in truth impossible to deny. The conduct 
of grown-up men and women tends for the most part to be 
in agreement with this view, which with simple straight- 
forwardness inclines to call everything by its real name. 


Unless people are guarded by a noble refinement of mind, 
the older they grow the less reticent do they become with 
regard to their physical nature — increasing bodily infirmities 
incessantly call attention to the functions of animal life, and 
give occasion to seek medical counsel and help ; and thus is 
gradually shattered the proud, shy modesty of the individual 
spirit, the attachment of which to its disintegrating envelope 
begins to be loosened. If in contrast to this we recall the 
indignation of some young and lofty soul, when in ordinary 
life in the intercourse of elder persons it hears others treat 
and discuss and bring before it with idle indifference circum- 
stances which it feels impelled to conceal even from itself, 
we shall be constrained to admit that even the well-meanins 
moderate view of steady-going folk involves a sensible retro- 
gression in moral refinement, and that of all kinds of en- 
lightenment none is more hazardous than that which conflicts 
with the prepossessions of modesty. 

We are in the habit of expecting this feeling to be most 
active in the intercourse of the two sexes, and in fact the forms 
by which such intercourse is regulated are all the more essen- 
tial marks of high moral culture because definite forms are so 
little prescribed in this department of ordered life by mere 
natural cii'cumstances. The only kind of marriage which 
would everywhere seem unnatural is that between parents and 
children, and this on account of the disparity of age; but 
Nature enters no protest against marriage between brothers 
and sisters, and presents as many analogies in favour of poly- 
gamy as in favour of monogamy; indeed, mere Nature provides 
us with no reasons why we should substitute a life-long union 
for a temporary connection formed for the gratification of 
desire. All the limits which the human race has set to its 
desires of this kind are the product of a gradually awakening 
moral sense ; the attempt to find for them a natural foundation 
which does not exist, does not make them any the more sacred 
or intelligible. For we are neither justified in following the 
dictates of Nature merely as such, nor bound in duty to do 
so; it is only when we act contrary to those commands of 


Nature, on obedience to which all successful action depends, 
that our procedure is vain and criminal ; but with regard to 
those things which she leaves to our option, the moral nature 
has to make a nicer choice, a choice which can only be justi- 
fied by its ideal end. There is no other particular of ordered 
life in reference to which there has been a more strange 
divergence in the variety of custom, and this variety is to be 
explained by a consideration of the different degrees of clear- 
ness with which the worth of human personality and of the 
individual soul was presented to the imagination of different 
ages and nations. To some nations of antiquity, marriage 
between brothers and sisters seemed admissible ; to us it 
seems so incomprehensible that its inevitable necessity, in case 
of the human race having sprung from a single pair, has been 
thought a sufficient argument in disproof of this view of 
our origin. But to think this is clearly wrong ; for it is 
certainly an error to imagine that the sinfulness of such a 
connection is immediately declared by the voice of Nature. 
On the contrary, the voice which declares it is that of the 
most highly developed moral insight, which impresses upon 
men a horror of mingling two human relationships, of which 
each can be experienced in the whole fulness and beauty of 
its ethical significance only if it is kept uncontaminated, by 
isolation from the other. This monition could have had no 
weight for those primitive brothers and sisters who were as 
yet all the world to each other. 

As we associated purity of the inner life with bodily cleanli- 
ness, we would also assign to modesty a wider range than is 
generally considered to belong to it. As it is certainly a 
mark of defective civilisation to neglect the development of 
the bodily frame and its capacities, so is it little in agreement 
with genuinely moral feeling to make one's bodily presence 
conspicuous and to wish to be esteemed on account of it. The 
more highly civilised nations and the more cultivated classes 
of society consider as most essential to a fitting dignity of 
demeanour that correctness of external appearance which 
neither can be found fault with, nor attempts to show off" any 


personal advantages, and which is thus best adapted to prevent 
any undue attention from being excited by one's personal 
appearance. On the other hand, it betrays a lower degree of 
culture to show off physical strength and skill, except in work 
in which they find appropriate employment, and to wish to 
do one's work in the world by means of a noisy display of 
one's bodily gifts. 

In respect of this, nations and individuals are divided into 
two distinct groups, the peculiarities of which pervade and 
give a tone to all departments of culture. There is one 
disposition which — to employ here one of the most repulsive 
phrases which modern times have invented — considers that the 
business of life is to develop oneself (sich darzuleben) ; there 
is another which, forgetting and neglecting self, tries to find a 
reflex of its own Ideas in any finished work, any labour, any 
external order ; each has for the other an antipathy which only 
gives place to mutual admiration when they look at one another 
from a distance, and the one sees its own deficiencies supplied 
by the other's peculiarities. We will, however, not. conceal the 
fact that in the interests of human culture we are decidedly in 
favour of the last, notwithstanding all its shortcomings. A 
deep-rooted aversion to take in hand any hard instrument not 
easy to manage, and to do a spell of honest work, is in the case 
of men of the disposition which we first noticed, ordinarily 
joined with an inclination to make a boundless fuss about 
their own appearance and about all those physical powers 
which the bodily organization graciously and gratuitously puts 
at the disposal of the fancy. Continual inquisitive activity 
of the senses and quick receptivity makes such men good 
observers while they do observe ; but their attention being 
easily distracted, for the most part they grasp only the super- 
ficial harmonies or discords of external form, only what is 
graceful or ludicrous. They likewise feel an unceasing need 
of manifesting their inner life with all its emotions, however 
transitorj' and insignificant ; and this on the one hand leads 
them to be always making a show and trying to give a 
picturesque and heroic air to their finery or their rags, and 



on the other hand tends to bring their minds, even in solitude, 
into a dramatic frame, in which they take a secret pride and 
pleasure. Little inclined to real exertion, they make the most 
perfect theatrical use of their bodily gifts ; they are eloquent, 
and in their language indulge in far more of high-sounding and 
diffuse description, colouring, and ornamentation than there is 
any occasion for j they are given to song and noise, and add 
to all this the luxury of expressive gesticulation. It is chiefly 
the southern countries of the temperate zone which by their 
fineness of climate have produced in their inhabitants both a 
bodily organization which combines beauty and strength, and 
also a keen satisfaction in the endowments and capacities of 
this corporeal frame, and in addition to these the passion 
and vividness with which they feel to the full the joy or 
admiration, the love or hatred, the devotion or despair which 
any situation may call forth. If we add to this the approving 
definition of their nature, long ago adopted by philosophic 
reflection, and say that in them and in their culture we see 
attained the highest development of the living human form, 
we think we shall have sufficiently indicated the short- 
coming which is attributed to them by men of the opposite 

For to cultivate oneself, and to make oneself into a perfect 
human being, may easily seem to be the essential scope of all 
human tasks; but nevertheless we must admit a deficiency in 
this mode of thought, which aims solely at moulding its own 
being into a beautiful flexible whole, doing this partly with a 
kind of natural instinct, partly with doctrinaire self-conscious- 
ness — a deficiency, namely, in that submission and self- 
sacrifice which make one element of morality. And this remark 
does not apply merely to that so-called healthy natural 
sensuousness which, glorying in the endowments of the 
physical organization, does in truth accomplish no more than 
the production of a first-rate specimen of the species man, 
looked at from the point of view of natural history ; we must 
also blame, as a more refined kind of Egoism, the deceptive 
self- culture which does indeed always seek that which is good 


and noble, but only in order to adorn with all the ornaments 
of virtue that specially cherished central point which we call 
our Ego. All the duties imposed upon itself by a mind of 
this temper seem to it to be duties to itself alone; the dignity 
of its own personality is the end to which every effort of life 
is devoted. 

It cannot be said that the other mode of thought which we 
contrasted with this does not accomplish the same results, but 
the consciousness of personal dignity comes to it rather as an 
accidental gain, because it does not aim primarily at this end, 
but, forgetting and denying self, works for the general realiza- 
tion of what is good in all the world. Indeed, it would be 
more in accordance with truth to say that what it gains is not 
the consciousness of personal dignity, but the habit of feeling 
and acting in accordance with this ; and also it attributes less 
value to the efficacy of external expression, which will 
naturally belong in greater measure to him who regards him- 
self as a work of art to be polished to the utmost pitch of 
perfection. To be of use in the world, and to do one's work 
in life by labouring for the general good, is the comparatively 
prosaic motto of men of this character ; and their own person- 
ality is regarded as but one among many — the many who are 
to share in the general benefit and rejoice at it. Wherever at 
particular periods, or in particular nations, this mode of 
thought has preponderated, there has arisen delight in work 
of a kind that not only is advantageous to the community, but 
also affords in its products an objective reflection of individual 
personalities — products in the characteristic forms of which the 
worker sees embodied the worth of his being and his own 
creative fancy. Not himself, but what he has made, not his 
person, the product of cosmic forces, but that reflection of his 
own being in his surroundings which his bodily and mental 
labour and self-sacrifice have called forth — these it is which 
such a man regards as what entitle him to a place in the world, 
and in proportion as this feeling grows, there increases also his 
aversion to any ostentatious display of a personal strength and 
beauty which are the gift of Nature. To speak louder than 


is nece&sary, seems to him an uneducated display of vocal 
resources; to be more excited than the importance of the 
occasion justifies, appears to be a foolish yielding to the sheer 
power of the external stimulus ; he regards as unendurable all 
liveliness of gesture, all pantomime and movements of the 
hands 'which accompany simple verbal expression as a mere 
luxury of bustle, wholly useless and ineffectual; and the 
objectless and overflowing manifestation of mental moods is 
as repugnant to him as to be everlastingly thinking ho.w to 
pose effectively. It is easy to see how these contrasts of 
external demeanour are connected with points favourable and 
unfavourable to mental life, and how this disposition of mind, 
if it becomes still more self-contained, threatens the beauty of 
life and art with a self- absorption, a closeness, and a reserve 
which are in truth little in accordance with its original self- 
forgetting and self-sacrificing bent. 

I must renounce the attempt to investigate, within the 
narrow limits of these observations, the other innumerable 
peculiarities of moral feeling which are expressed in the forms 
of daily intercourse among men, and the development of which 
is due partly to the special circumstances of life, and partly 
to the original disposition of particular nations. We may 
remark in general that as culture advances, expressly estab- 
lished rules of etiquette become more numerous, not only for 
the regulation of the conduct of inferiors towards superiors, 
but also to prevent personal dignity from being wounded in 
the ordinary intercourse of life by natural passion and curiosity, 
or to secure the performance of binding duties against which 
sloth and selfishness rebel, by the sanctity of inviolable 
custom, regulating even the minutest details. The less scope 
is allowed to arbitrary choice in determining the mode of any 
performance, the more imperative does the performance itself 
seem. (In saying this, we would by no means deny that the 
refinement and politeness of manners, hospitality, and other 
virtues which we find exercised in states of rudimentary cul- 
ture, may not be partly founded on natural good-heartedness.) 
The further progress of civilisation generally breaks these 


trammels of conduct for good and also for ill. In modern 
life even in the cases in which etiquette is most thought of, 
generally speaking it either has a legal or political signifi- 
cance, which is of use not in personal intercourse, but as a 
symbol of that objective order which transcends all mere 
subjectivism — or, if it is really a form of intercourse, it is 
seldom of such rigidity that a cultured person would not be 
able to substitute for the ordinary form some other of similar 
significance. Here also culture drops the use of fixed and 
specialized precepts, and trusts more to that unconstrained 
moral feeling to tlie predominance of which it is due that 
the social intercourse of civilised peoples is superior to the 
ceremonious meetings of less developed nations. But we 
must equally admit that with the removal of this curb, social 
intercourse among the more uneducated classes is freed from 
all check; clumsy curiosity, intrusive indiscretion of every 
kind, and the absence of all respect for the inner life of 
another, make the intercourse of these classes far less dignified 
than the reserve with which the hospitality of simpler peoples 
receives the wanderer and provides for his wants without 
inquiring too precipitately how he is called, whence he comes, 
and whither he goes. It is becoming more and more rare to 
find societies in which customs handed down from antiquity 
with all their traditional circumstantiality and detail, still give 
to social intercourse a cast of grave and considerate cere- 



Nature and Culture— Home {die Heimat)—TlhQ Life of Hunters— Of Shepherds 
— Permanent Occupation of Land, and Agriculture — Home {das Haus) — 
Family Life — Society — Division of Labour — Callings of Individuals — 
Simple and Complex Structure of Society— Civilisation— History. 

S 1. "VTTHO is there that amid the thousand cares and 


perplexities of life has not sometimes asked 
with a sigh, To what purpose is all this pain and struggle ? 
To what purpose all the conventionalities which at one 
moment oblige us to useless exertion, and at another impose 
upon us constraints which are equally irksome ? To what 
purpose all this haste to be rich, since our very organization 
prevents us from getting enjoyment, except in imagination, 
from the abundance of overflowing wealth ? To what purpose 
is our sensitive regard to honour when the estimation which 
others have for us adds, directly at least, so little to our 
happiness ? Why should we not restrict ourselves to the 
simple, natural wants of existence, and give up struggling 
after all those tilings which are but means to other objects 
more or less remote — objects which themselves, when looked 
at closely, are of only imaginary worth ? In such moods it 
seems to us that Diogenes in his tub had found the true secret 
of practical wisdom, and that all the complex culture which 
surrounds us would do well to abolish itself, and no longer to 
hinder l)y the useless constraints of innumerable artificialities 
the satisfaction of the few wants inseparable from human 

And yet it was in vain that Diogenes protested against the 
civilisation of his age ; and all those individuals who since his 
time have turned their backs upon human culture have only 


been able to make their solitude endurable to themselves by 
knowledge, thought, and reflection which they owe to the 
very culture which they despise. Opposition to the com- 
plexities and details of civilisation has a charm only as long 
as it remains mere opposition ; if mankind by sudden consent 
were to return to the simplicity of the most natural conditions, 
without doubt the same mental forces which had brought 
about this resolution would forthwith be as busy as before in 
reproducing in turn all the rejected superfluities of civilisation. 
We may frankly admit that there is very much in the com- 
plexity of our present mode of life which is in itself idle and 
unmeaning, and that, if we were free from certain wants, we 
should do more wisely and be more happy. But the truth is 
that we already have these wants, and the mere knowledge 
that they are not inseparably joined to human nature as a 
whole does not in the least alter the fact that they are so 
much the more firmly bound up with that definite type ot 
human nature which is special to us, and which we owe to 
historical development and to education. We, as we are, 
should suffer from their non-satisfaction, and the same degree 
of happiness which men in the natural state could obtain by 
the use of scanty means is only possible for us through the 
simultaneous fulfilment of many conditions, or through the 
conscious and voluntary renunciation of many individual 
satisfactions. But, on the other hand, a voluntary oblivion 
of that towards which our hearts are yearning is not in our 
power ; it is only great historical changes of fortune that may 
sometimes obscure a nation's remembrance of all the complex 
variety of its demands upon life, and make it capable of being 
satisfied with the simple and elementary enjoyments of 
returning barbarism. 

Have we, however, a right to speak thus, and to prefer such 
culture to such barbarism ? Seeing that in advanced culture 
satisfaction is dependent on so many conditions, and that it 
must involve so much self-denial, is not this condition of 
culture unhappier than that more natural life, which with 
greater ease and security reaches its state of equilibrium, and 


seems to be exposed only to the inevitable ills of tlie course 
of Nature? These are questions, however, which we can 
easily answer. For the more vividly we represent to ourselves 
the simplicity of a state of Nature, the more clear does it 
become not only that it could never suffice to satisfy our 
souls, but also that those living impulses in us which stand in 
the way of such satisfaction, have, with all their train of 
unrest and failure, an unconditional right to be preferred to 
that contented poverty of mental existence which only seems 
to us now and then desirable as a break in our own more 
agitated life. The happiness to which the human soul is 
destined by no means consists in the mere absence of all 
disturbances which could hinder those impulses which proceed 
most directly from Nature, or in the maintenance of favourable 
conditions, securing to them an uninterrupted and uniform 
satisfaction ; the course of civilisation is not merely a succes- 
sion of compensatory efforts capable of re-establishing, under 
less favourable conditions and by the use of more powerful 
means, a lost equilibrium and a degree of happiness previously 
possible. On the contrary, by the opposition which the 
natural course of things offers to a too easy satisfaction of 
natural impulses ; by the labour to which man is compelled, 
and in the prosecution of which he acquires knowledge of, 
and power over, things in the most various relations ; finally, 
by misfortune itself and the manifold painful efforts which he 
has to make under the pressure of the gradually multiplying 
relations of life : by all this there is both opened before him 
a wider horizon of varied enjoyment, and also there become 
clear to him for the first time the inexhaustible significance 
of moral Ideas which seem to receive an accession of intrinsic 
worth with every new relation to which their regulating 
and organizing influence is extended. In the longing for a 
return to a simpler life there is involved a temporary over- 
estimation of merely physical wellbeing, and we soon bethink 
us that a cultured mind possesses .far more springs of happi- 
ness, the origin of which we cannot trace. Perhaps we should 
not seriously wish to be without even the suffering entailed by 


self-denial. And then there is pain, the bitterness of which is 
only intelligible by reference to the refined relations of social 
life, and to the consciousness of combined victory and recon- 
ciliation springing from practised ethical insight — pain which 
gives rise to innumerable feelings not easily expressed, and 
pervading our whole life like a precious fragrance that we 
would on no account consent to renounce. Men are much 
inclined to delude themselves with the hope of combining two 
incompatible advantages, i.e. the simplicity of existence in a 
state of Nature, and the feelings with which we ourselves 
regard the external world — we who have been moulded by the 
influences of science, art, and religion. For we would certainly 
wish to take with us these feelings when we return to a state 
of Nature ; but we should remember that they are products of 
a culture which is unthinkable without all that intricate 
mechanism, the noise and inflexibility of wliich sometimes 
disturb us. We can choose only the one or the other ; either 
the simple monotonous harmony of an uneventful life accord- 
ing to Nature, or the full, articulated melody of civilisation, 
gradually unfolding through many a discord ; and no one can 
doubt that the latter presents the higher beauty, and that 
civilisation is not a mere roundabout means of attaining under 
altered conditions the same degree of enjoyment as was tasted 
in a state of Nature, but that it must, on the contrary, be 
regarded as a power which for the first time unfolds before us, 
in all the glory of the perfect flower, the full worth and joy 
of every moral relation. 

On this subject I have now but a few plain remarks to add. 
I will not here go into the question of the first origin of 
civilisation, nor endeavour to point out either what definite 
causes (in the minds of individuals and nations or in external 
circumstances) aroused and guided the spirit of progress, or 
what obstacles were put in the way of general or special 
development either by conditions of life or, more obscurely, 
by national character ; these things will for the most part 
remain always unknown to us, and as much as we can hope 
to make clear, we defer to a later historical consideration. It 


is just as little my intention to institute here a comparison 
between the different epochs of civilisation through which 
mankind have hitherto passed, although such an attempt 
might admonish us to desirable caution in many respects. 
For this attempt would in the first place take us back to an 
observation which we have already made, to the effect that a 
clear advance in knowledge and power, and in all the external 
trappings of life, may take place without a simultaneous 
increase of those things that are good in themselves, for the 
sake of which all the labour of civilisation is employed. With 
the advance of civilisation and of its power over the external 
world there arise everywhere new relations and new sources of 
enjoyment, but the alteration of social conditions which is 
bound up with these other changes, unavoidably demolishes 
many a form of existence handed down from antiquity, to the 
joy and worth of which only poetry and not real life will ever 
again find access. Whether this is to be regretted, or whether 
on the whole in our destiny the good only makes way for the 
better, is a question the answer to which we can seek only in 
considering the history of the human race. But the worth of 
culture in general,as compared with that natural condition which 
we sometimes describe as a state of innocence and sometimes 
as barbarism, is not here called in question. And although a 
sharp line of demarcation dividing the two would only be 
possible if we could contrast a perfect humanity, hitherto 
unrealized, with complete brutishness, yet we may emphasize 
some individual features of social order, on the presence of 
which the excellence of any culture must depend, and on the 
more or less completely organized combination of which to a 
coherent structure is grounded the superiority of one stage of 
culture over another. 

A man wants, in the first place, a home, and possessions, and 
a sphere of work, so that he may feel he has some definite place 
assigned to him in the ordered universe ; he further wants 
not merely occasional contact with his fellows, but a lasting 
community of life with some one person at least, so that he 
may secure understanding and sympathy for his own nature 


and individuality. The family circle, too, requires that 
beyond its own narrow limits there should stretch a wider 
social background, by the common opinion, custom, and law 
of which its own life and effort are regulated, to which it 
belongs, and by which it is supported and judged ; finally, it 
is in all cases inevitable that the mind of this society should 
connect its own common life and the existence of every 
individual with the future and the past by some theory of the 
earth's history, and should link all terrestrial existence to some 
still more comprehensive theory of the universe by a common 
religious belief. 

§ 2. Not even beasts rove about altogether homeless over 
the surface of the earth ; even where a wide extent of country 
everywhere offers them equal means of subsistence, they restrict 
their wanderings to a limited region, beyond which they are 
driven only by force or unaccustomed circumstances, and not 
by their own impulse. It is as though each living soul could 
only taste rest and happiness when, instead of feeling lost 
amid the restlessly changing multiplicity of new impressions, 
it can make the unvarying representation of its own familiar 
surroundings the centre around which are grouped, in dimi- 
nishing degrees of clearness, the more distant variety of the 
outside world. Man's love of adventure, which would other- 
wise lead him to transgress more easily than beasts these 
self-imposed limits, is counterbalanced by another and more 
profound impulse, that of the spirit of acquisition which makes 
him wish that the results of his activity should not disappear 
with the crowd of changing objects on which it is expended, 
but should gradually accumulate in lasting monuments of his 
labour, and present in visible and connected form the gain 
acquired by his life's work. 

Natural circumstances favour or hinder this inclination in 
various degrees. "Where men as yet without fixed habitation 
are forced by the great abundance of animal life and the 
necessity of defending themselves from the attacks of wild 
beasts to take at first to the hunter's life, the dawn of higher 
civilisation meets rather with delays and hindrances than 

VOL. IL r 


with rapid furtherance. The necessity of following wander- 
ing game, substitutes for the idea of a settled abode the 
wider and vaguer idea of a hunting-ground, and the ease 
with which the captured prey, after very slight preparation, 
can be applied to satisfy natural wants, as well as the way 
in which, in this kind of life, all the fruit of men's efforts is 
consumed as it were from hand to mouth, without leaving a 
trace behind, is not conducive to any thought of collecting 
the results of one's labour so as to make some lasting and 
coherent monument, or any thought of so arranging life as 
to connect into some scheme of development men's fitful 
attempts to trade and accumulate. Cunning patience and 
passionate fury of attack are the two capacities which this 
life demands and exercises, in alternation ; both are but little 
calculated to promote higher human civilisation. Only the calm 
with which the North American Indian listens without interrup- 
tion to the speech of another, and the passive courage which he 
shows under suffering, are useful elements, which, from the 
necessity of quietly enduring countless hardships and mishaps, 
have been cultivated in the school of this wild life, in which 
the hunter is early taught to watch with silent self-restraint 
every movement of the jaguar or buffalo, so as not to betray 
himself too soon by any disturbance of them. If there were 
not other ineradicable impulses of human nature impelling 
individual men to some combination among themselves, there 
would be little in the character of this mode of life that could 
lead the homeless hunter to social union and the development 
of human intercourse ; the occupations of all are too uniform 
for any one to expect that any other should specially com- 
plement his own knowledge and capacity. 

The pastoral mode of life brings with it conditions some- 
what more favourable to development. It cannot altogether 
dispense with courage and activity, which are needed for the 
protection of the flocks and herds ; but it is based not on 
destruction but on cultivation of animal life ; and this life 
calls out alongside of a patience which is not sneaking and 
cowardly but calm and persevering, much forethought and 


providence, and leads to a growing variety of wants, and 
hence to the beginning of a division of labour in a small 
society of members all helping one another. In place of the 
sudden alternations between wholly inactive leisure and exhaust- 
ing effort which are usual with those who lead a hunter's life, 
there is established a steady succession of occupations each of 
which reckons upon the rest, and which reciprocally make 
each other possible ; social life takes the place of isolation, 
and the position in which different persons stand with regard 
to the property (whether held in common or by individuals) 
with the management of which all are concerned, calls forth 
of itself simple differences of social importance. With the 
possession of this moveable property arise the first elements of 
two notions which are foreign to the hunter's life, namely rural 
economy and society. Settlements of some kind, which although 
not necessarily permanent are yet of some duration, are indis- 
pensable ; and if the custom of feeding the flocks by letting 
them graze on natural pastures necessitates a periodical change 
of abode, still a return to familiar grounds is always preferred 
to uncertain wanderings into distant localities. Thus life 
becomes more and more bound up with the region of country 
which now (for the first time) begins to be a home, with the 
fountains, hills, and woods of which there begins to be linked 
an ordered remembrance of past events, and which no longer 
is the mere scene of adventures that have been gone through, 
but supplies to coherent labour that background and basis of 
orientation which imagination always requires. But pastoral 
life in itself does not everywhere produce those fair first 
fruits of civilisation which we rejoice to see in some examples 
of it. Partly the nature and capacity of the domesticated 
animals, the kind of tendance they require, and the degree of 
their attachment to mankind, partly climatic and social con- 
ditions, and finally the incalculable peculiarity of national 
character modify greatly the degree of development. The 
pastoral tribes of the polar regions, pressed by the disfavour 
of Nature, and cut off from contact with a different and more 
advanced civilisation by wide reaches of country, present a 



poverty-stricken picture beside the life of the Semitic patriarchs, 
in the simple grandeur of which we find distinct traces of com- 
merce and of pretty considerable contact at many points with 
the culture of stationary tribes. It is not only that the barter 
of an infant commerce provides the shepherds with products 
of foreign industry with which they may adorn their life and 
make it easier — the mere knowledge that beyond their im- 
mediate horizon there stirs other human life with other forms 
and customs, must lift their apprehension above that monotony 
which with more isolated tribes arises from want of the idea 
of human society. For indeed this idea is absent even now 
in cases where a larger association of families repeats each 
the same mode of life, the same occupation, and the same petty 
domestic organization. 

Even antiquity knew that the real beginning of higher 
human civilisation, was in all cases to be found in the 
change from nomad life to permanent settlement, and knew it 
with a fresher and nearer feeling than is possible for us. This 
change was a necessary result of the need for procuring means 
of subsistence from vegetable life, a more fruitful and certain 
source of supply than the animal world. It is only luxu- 
riant tropical lands that yield such a vegetable supply to a 
large extent, without any human labour ; and in just those 
regions man would have remained most completely a parasite 
of his bread-fruit bearing land, if — among populations that 
were growing numerous and pressing one another on all sides 
— the impulse to social enjoyments, and many a sensuous 
desire, flaming up irrepressibly, had not either given rise to 
some regulation of this communal life, or at least by violent 
interruptions of such regulation, infused into existence an 
element of passion. Where these food-bearing plants are 
scarcer, the spots where they abound mark the abodes of 
men, who settle down at the foot of the trees, but systematic 
civilisation is first developed where Nature has made work a 
necessary forerunner of enjoyment. The benefits which the 
vegetable kingdom has bestowed upon man in the banana, 
the bread-fruit tree, the date-palm and the cocoa-nut tree, are 


certainly not accepted by him without any thought what- 
ever ; and the imagination of the people who live upon the 
products of these plants is sensitive - enough to link with 
their striking images, in grateful veneration, the dawning 
poetical reflection of their simple life. But far superior to 
these incitements is the educative power everywhere exercised 
by the various occupations involved in the cultivation of 
cereals. It is his own strength and effort which the tiller of 
the ground must employ for the satisfaction of his wants ; 
Nature and the soil, with which he deals, neither offer their 
gifts gratuitously, nor can they be swindled out of them, but 
they yield them to unceasing and exact industry. The 
necessary attention to a number of small conditions which 
all help to secure the result; the indispensableness of a 
definite succession of occupations which cannot be altered by 
caprice nor avoided by thoughtless presumption; patience not 
only in struggling with the weather and the seasons, but 
also in waiting for the slow maturing of the produce which 
cannot be accelerated by any greedy haste; and finally the 
spectacle of the uniformity with which in general the work 
of natural forces proceeds — all these things teach the mind 
to feel itself taken up by and involved in a trustworthy, 
consistent, and complicated system of natural order ; and they 
will not fail to produce even in the most poorly endowed 
mind a consciousness of the necessity of complete, con- 
nected, and systematic means to secure the success of 
any work, and to show how little a life that proceeds as it 
were upon the spur of the moment can reckon upon satis- 
faction and success. 

The growing labours of agriculture involve the establish- 
ment of permanent settlements, and man now enters for the 
first time into a relation of manifold opposition to Nature, on 
which all further progress in civilisation depends. For in 
fact the powerful tie binding man to the soil, which first 
strikes one in considering the stationary state, is not the 
predominant element in this relation, and the nomad who 
wanders hither and thither has little reason to look down with 


Bcorn upon this tie ; on the contrary, he is himself in a state 
of much greater dependence upon Nature, to the scenery of 
which he seems to belong almost as much as the flock which 
he guides or the game which he pursues. It is within the 
four walls of home that a man begins to enjoy, in his leisure 
time and secluded from all outward influences, the quiet con- 
centration of family life, and to prepare the mechanical means 
with which to make fresh excursions into the surrounding 
world, and to secure and work up its products : these walls of 
home are a much more powerful means towards freeing him 
from dependence on the external world than is the fugitive 
haste of the nomad, who restlessly changes one place for 
another without finding access to any inner world, except in 
the quiet interior of his tent in the intervals between his 
journeys. The walls of home enclose a new realm of human 
thought and effort; within them rising generations find a 
fenced and guarded region of existence, filled with memorials 
of their forefathers, with whose banished forms the life of the 
present is now for the first time in conscious and unbroken 
community — the work which they have left behind being 
added to, altered, and carried on by each generation, which 
thus makes its own contribution to what went before. But it 
would be whoUy unnecessary to describe the thoughts and 
feelings which arise in every one at the name of home, and 
which are repeated in all their freshness and fulness when- 
ever there is founded any permanent settlement, intended to 
become the scene, for an indefinite time, of a succession of 
human joys, sorrows, hopes, and remembrances, all inextricably 
bound up with one another. Suffice it to say that in the 
dawn of civilisation the contrast between Nature and the 
world of* mmd appears first, and in its most expressive mani- 
festation, as the contrast between domestic life and the un- 
boundedness of the external world. 

Even m our present life, in which the intricate connection 
of mental interests obscures in many ways our relation to 
Nature, we may easily observe what an important influence is 
exercised upon our minds by the visible marks of our efforts 


in external works. The artificer who frames a work of his 
own hands, and whose joy in it is not diminished by any 
existing social deficiencies, retains almost always a more even 
and contented humour than the inquirer who lives in a super- 
sensuous world of merely intellectual interests. It is true that 
he may be compensated for many a long struggle in the 
moment when the result of these takes form in artistic com- 
pleteness ; but it is seldom that this result is as certain and 
complete in itself as the external work which, with all its 
excellences and defects, is set before our eyes in visible shape 
and can be fully estimated, and which as it grew beneath our 
hands gave us, at every step, practical insight into the means 
of overcoming individual difficulties. So that all the more in 
the dawn of civilisation (as in the beginning of every individual 
life) must there be a joyous celebration of the awakening of 
self-regard as soon as self beholds the first-fruits of its inner 
thought and effort embodied in the form of a finished work of 
its own creation. Every tool or utensil that a man has con- 
structed bears for him the stamp of some thought of his own, 
and it represents to him at the same time, the future service 
which it will render, and the power with which his own mind 
is now armed, for influencing the external world — that mind 
having now a stronger and a wider grasp than when it had only 
the aid furnished by his own bodily organization. This pro- 
found need of seeing our own life reflected in surroundings 
which have been transformed by ourselves, governs us always. 
Not only must house and home present to us the traces of past 
activity, and the instruments of that which is to come ; but 
even where more spiritual interests are concerned, to which no 
spatial phaenomenon can adequately correspond, we like to be 
able at least to point out some definite spot as the centre 
from which any particular human activity is used to radiate. 
It is true that God is near us everywhere, but every civilisation 
in its earliest dawn founds local and permanent sanctuaries 
and altars, and men will only adopt, as their special place of 
prayer, those spots which they feel have been made sacred by 
the prayers of their forefathers and the common devotion of 



their contemporaries. It is not merely the pressing necessity 
of maintaining life which leads to the establishment of 
permanent settlements; but when a man gets a home, he 
seems to take as it were spiritual possession also of his whole 
surroundings, or perhaps we might better say that it is then 
that spiritual life receives local manifestation. 

S 3. With the establishment of a steady centre and circle 
of work a prosperous development of other moral relations 
first becomes practicable. It is hardly possible that in the 
wild life which hunters lead the intercourse of the two sexes 
should attain a higher significance than that which as a matter 
of fact it actually does reach. Constant participation in the 
efforts of the man is by Nature made impossible for the 
woman, and if it were possible it would still be a partnership 
which would afford to the diverse mental natures of both 
very little opportunity for the development of their special 
characteristics. Under such conditions masculine strength 
cannot find in the woman's mind any essential complement of 
its own insufficiency, because the life is so poor, and furnishes 
so few circumstances which are of emotional value, and in which 
both have a common interest; moreover, in consequence of the 
lack of property to be looked after, there is too little com- 
munity of labour and of solicitude. The other family relations 
also suffer from this absence of a common aim in life. Among 
beasts we see the young lives environed by a parental love 
which is capable of self-sacrifice, but which suddenly cools 
when the need of help in the young diminishes ; and just in 
the same way men in a state of Nature afford striking examples 
of the self-sacrifice of parents for their children, but we also 
see how easily, wdth them, this connection is dissolved, when 
the children have attained bodily maturity. In fact whero 
one generation never takes up and continues the work of that 
which preceded it, but each one, as though isolated and beginning 
afresh for itself, turns to universal Nature, in order to obtain 
the satisfaction of its wants in traditional modes, it is plain 
that there cannot be that intimate communion of souls having 
common interests in life and yet individually different charac- 


ters and different imaginative bents, and that community and 
at the same time that conflict of wishes, hopes, and fears, by 
which in the civilised world there is developed from the 
natural bonds of kinship a moral community of hearts. It 
has been often observed how easily and painlessly the North 
American Indian can bid his parents a last good-bye ; and by 
man in his natural state the relation between brother and 
sister is felt to have even less — ^much less — significance and 
beauty than that between parent and child. 

I might go on to pastoral life, and extol in it the higher 
meaning which men now feel in family ties — the freer condition 
of women, who from being the slaves of men have been raised 
to be their companions — the pleasure which is taken in carry- 
ing on genealogical tables, by the unbroken coherence of which 
each individual member of a society which has grown up by 
degrees is assured of his connection with ancestors whose 
names have been made illustrious by well-preserved traditions 
of glorious events and deeds. But the fact is that these fair 
beginnings of culture are found only among a few favoured 
races, and especially in that Semitic past which we are 
accustomed to regard as a mirror of the purest and most 
primitive human development. They are found much attenu- 
ated and accompanied by far less depth of feeling in the 
warlike shepherd tribes which still enliven the wildernesses 
and steppes of the old world, and they almost disappear in 
the unpoetic savagery of the polar races. A more compre- 
hensive ethnographical comparison than we can here attempt 
would make it clearer to us that the degree of cultivation 
attained is by no means wholly dependent on the particular 
modes of life which we are here considering ; and on the other 
hand would show how strikingly the unexplained differences 
of mental endowment which distinguish individual races of 
men lead to divergence in their course of development, under 
conditions which are in all other respects similar. More 
than this, much which we should be inclined to regard as the 
almost immediate effect of a mode of life determined by 
external circumstances, is perhaps the echo of some extinct 


civilisation, or a reflection from some other civilisation existing 
elsewhere, into fruitful relations with which the historical course 
of events has brought some tribe which has apparently developed 
in isolation. Historical consideration may distinguish if it can 
the separate influences of these coefficient factors ; but if we 
are merely concerned to estimate the ethical importance of 
modes of life on which modern civilisation is built, we shall 
not doubt that permanent settlements, and the sphere of work 
which first establishes itself in house and home, form the 
firm basis of consolidated family life, and indirectly through 
this of wider social order also. It is not, indeed, possible in 
the nature of events, nor is it an imperative necessity of 
human nature, that clans gradually increasing in number 
should permanently continue to inhabit that native land of 
their forefathers in which they themselves were born, or that 
the bonds of relationship which link a numerous posterity 
both to one another and to their ancestors, should be held in 
distinct and present remembrance to degrees of indefinite 
remoteness. Grandparents and grandchildren are held together 
by a strong natural bond, but when we get beyond the third 
generation (and similarly with the wide extension of kinship 
by marriage) these feelings of blood-relationship cool down 
rapidly into the mere general interest which men take in their 
fellow-men or fellow-countrymen. This does not, however, 
destroy the charm that we shall always find in being able to 
look back through centuries of successive generations of which 
we know ourselves to be the latest representatives ; bu^ as 
such tradition is only made possible by the existence of 
cultured feelings of considerable strength, so its value must 
consist either in the consciousness of some transmitted histori- 
cal work which has to be carried on, or in reflection on 
the connection of human destinies which may here be followed 
clearly along a single continuous chain, whilst universal 
history in its consideration of the whole hum-'vn race, loses 
sight of individual threads. It is but few who can take such 
a retrospect, and to whom is granted the happiness of lingering 
in an old ancestral home and among memorials of their fore- 


fathers; for most, their parents' temporary home takes the 
place of an inherited estate. But even to such a paternal 
home fancy gladly looks back from amid the storms of later 
life ; and after the dispersion of the family, when the difficulty 
which its members find in keeping up an acquaintance with 
each other's various pursuits and courses in life has weakened 
the feeling of connection between them, the yearning with 
which they look back to the past and deeply-felt happiness 
of domestic union bears witness to the worth which a settled 
establishment of families possesses even in our own civilised 
condition. This dispersion itself is, however, made less 
painful by the ever-increasing importance of society, which, 
in proportion as its internal structure becomes more elaborate 
and complete, gives rise to an increased number of other 
ethical relations between individuals — relations which are of 
as great worth as the ties of kinship, and, in some cases, of 
still greater. But it hardly needs showing that the moral 
strength of these social relations is itself rooted in the soil 
of domestic family life, and that every career, though its 
orbit may be apparently eccentric, really revolves about this 
centre, and derives its human worth from the fact that it had 
its origin in that life, and will find in it its consummation, or 
that at any rate it works for a community which is founded 
upon such life. 

§ 4. If the natural course of things did not, setting out 
from a single original pair, produce a growing society, or if it 
did not, in the present condition of the world, place every one 
at the beginning of his life in the midst of an already existing 
society, each individual pair would have to long in vain for 
the help which such a living background of life can afford 
towards the full development of humanity and the satisfaction 
of all the wants of men's souls. I do not doubt that the 
smallest cottage is large enough for happy lovers; but we 
may be certain that without the remembrance of a society, the 
cultivating influence of which they experienced before their 
isolation, and without any return to this living circle, the 
happiness of their love would not be essentially greater than 


that which falls to the lot of the forest Indians, who, going 
about in melancholy couples, ungregarious and dumb, search 
for and partake together the means of satisfying their wants. 
The drama of life is too tame when it is played by only two 
persons ; they want, at least, the chorus to keep them in mind 
of the inexhaustible fulness of human interests, of which only 
a small portion can be brought into consciousness by their own 
relations to one another. Men and women cannot be satisfied 
by the solitary companionship of one other human being ; 
they wish to observe his attitude to some third person, and 
to know that he also observes theirs ; finally, they wish that 
the reciprocal influence of themselves and their companion 
should be seen and recognised by other intelligent beings ; for 
to enjoy without other people's knowing anything about it is 
not much better than to be non-existent. This need of others' 
recognition runs through our whole life ; even the most modest 
love does not wish to hide its joy for ever, he who has a friend 
desires to show his pride in him before the world, and the praise 
which we receive from another does not please us so much as 
the consciousness of being honoured by it in the eyes of some 
third person ; all artistic effort demands recognition, and the 
most unselfishly devoted scientific labour carried on in self- 
absorbed isolation from the world of contemporaries secretly 
reckons upon the generations to come and their appreciation. 
Finally, it is not without cause that men's favourite topic of 
conversation in all ages has been their fellow-men ; for it is a 
fact that everything else in heaven and earth is of less imme- 
diate interest than the doings of men, in observing, investi- 
gating, praising, and blaming which we can best become 
conscious of our own advantages, deficiencies, efforts, and ends. 
Now, as long as the mode of life of any considerable society 
causes complete uniformity of the aims and occupations of 
all, this mutual interest and sympathy cannot unfold its 
whole educative force. It is fixed settlements and the many 
occupations made necessary by agriculture which first lead to 
a growing variety of callings in life, and the whole nature of 
a man is pervaded and influenced by the particular spirit of 


his calling, without its suppressing those human qualities 
common to all. In this there is a double advantage. On the 
one hand, any life-work which is chosen to the exclusion of 
every other, not only requires a thorough acquaintance with 
the objects about which it is concerned, and produces great 
habitual exactness and systematic technical consistency in the 
treatment of them, but it also introduces the worker to a 
manageable and coherent circle of thought, within which 
universal truths stand out with the more convincing force in 
proportion as the examples which illustrate them intelligibly 
and clearly are more special to, and as it were inherent in, 
the particular occupation at which the worker is employed 
day by day. In order to appreciate the truth of this, we 
need only recollect the store of proverbs and proverbial sayings 
in which all nations are accustomed to treasure up the prac- 
tical wisdom of experience ; the most expressive of them show 
that the general truth which they contain has been abstracted, 
within the sphere of some definite calling, from particular 
examples occurring there, and there alone. On the other 
hand, every calling gives a special cast to the mind, a parti- 
cular bent to the imagination, distinctive standpoints and 
modes of criticism to philosophic views — and it gives to the 
emotions and to the whole mental attitude of a man a har- 
monious and distinctive stamp; consequently every one is 
now an object of greater interest to others. When we are 
absorbed in the study of a character thus strange to us and 
so different from our own, beside the innumerable individual 
traits which arouse our sympathy, that which is common to 
human nature stands out so much the clearer, and our moral 
horizon becomes enlarged when we cease to think that we are 
justified in regarding our own special fashion of existence 
as the only one that is conceivable, or the only one that 
is praiseworthy. But as the opening of the Odyssey em- 
phasizes what our modern passion for travel confirms — namely, 
the value of learning to know the cities and the modes of 
thought of many men — this aspect of the educative influence 
of society needs no further proofs. We will, on the contrary, 


glance at the dangers entailed by the ever-increasing variety 
of ways of life and the acquaintance of each with the others, 

"We need only refer in the briefest way to that narrowness 
of thought and bluntness of sensibility for essentially human 
interests which may be caused by restriction to some mono- 
tonous groove of occupation. But the coexistence and neigh- 
bourhood of different modes of life has disadvantages too, as 
well as advantages. The more uniform the occupations of a 
large society are, the more easily is there formed, as a standard 
for all actions, a fixed rule of custom, from which nothing is 
exempt; as long as this remains unshaken, it reduces the 
individual to little more than a mere sample of some typical 
national civilisation, at the same time, however, securing him 
from the misery of doubt and of moral instability. But where 
civilisation has produced greater division of labour and greater 
variety of life, especially where, in consequence of historical 
conflicts, there is a mixture of the kindred civilisations of 
different peoples, a confusing multiplicity of possible modes 
of existence is presented to the mind ; the influence of this 
is, on the one hand, powerful in raising the intellect above 
the narrowness of transmitted prejudices ; but on the other 
hand, it is equally powerful in disturbing the stability and 
security of all moral restraints. For this reason the numerous 
amalgamations of different nations which have happened in 
the course of history are from some points of view the most 
interesting epochs of human development. When any estab- 
lished and harmonious civilisation has been broken up, the 
imagination of men is given back to unrule ; and yet strongly 
stirred by the influences of the past, it moves among the ruins 
full of haunting thoughts, loosed from all constraint, eagerly 
investigating in every direction, and inclined, from the lack 
of mental equilibrium, to splendid extravagances. Such 
times may, indeed, bring forth products in which there is 
more richness and variety and more of the fire of genius than 
there is generally even in the prime of any civilisation which 
has attained stable equilibrium, and is faithful to its ideal : 
but we must also remember that such times are fated to 


sink down into a state which is a mixture of genuine barharisna 
and isolated unnatural moral exaggerations. We see this 
morally dissolving force in the present day in all those abodes 
of men in which there is continual contact between strongly 
contrasted civilisations. It was long ago remarked, and with 
justice, that in the East weak minds must be very confusingly 
affected by the sight of so many different races who, some 
white and some black, some proud of their freedom, others 
servile slaves, pray in one place to these gods and in another 
place to those ; who in some cases are faithful to the marriage 
tie, in others enjoy the pleasures of polygamy. Everything 
seems to be permitted — all seem happy in their own fashion, 
and there falls no bolt from heaven to pronounce judgment 
amid this chaos of opinions. 

To pass from a national habit of life to a more self-conscious 
condition of humanity, civilisation must run this risk of 
scepticism, and history continually renews its efforts to increase 
the reciprocal influence of different divisions of the human 
race. It is seldom that individuals or nations are induced to 
wander far by want of the simplest and most natural means 
of subsistence ; they are led to do so more often by a restless 
adventurous impulse, most often of all by a desire for objects 
of which the direct worth for human nature is but unim- 
portant, and which partly charm the senses and the love of 
novelty, and partly acquire through habit, as civilisation 
advances, the character of imperative necessities of life. We 
find that even in ancient times poets and moralists spoke of 
the insatiableness of men which, urged by a thousand artificial 
wants, transcends all natural limits, and brings into a. life 
that might pass simply and peaceably the danger and unrest 
of far-reaching undertakings. How much might be added to 
such complaints in these days ! For now there is no depart- 
ment of Nature which does not attract men to infinite labour 
by its productions. In the mineral world, gold and precious 
stones, iron, brimstone, and coal have tempted them, and have 
led to the discovery of new countries and to a development 
of industry to which are due the birth and extended influence 


of innumerable other human activities. The vegetable king- 
dom by its edible products early gave an impulse to commerce, 
but the interested spirit of enterprise has been called out in 
much larger measure by sugar, coffee, tea, and the numerous 
spices which people could do without as long as they had not 
had them. Finally, in the animal kingdom, the whale and the 
furs of the Arctic quadrupeds have attracted courageous and 
enterprising spirits to the inhospitable polar regions, and the 
web spun by the insignificant silk-worm early led to com- 
merce between civilised nations. The boundless influence 
exercised by all these circumstances on the development of 
human capacities is too well known in our own time to need 
more than a passing mention. A life which could have been 
contented with the satisfaction of its primary natural wants, 
would have found little stimulus to further development ; 
while, on the other hand, luxuries that men might have done 
without have caused all physical and mental powers to be 
exerted to the utmost, and as there has been a continuous 
increase in the degree of exertion necessary to ensure the hope 
of success, science has grown great in this ministry, and in it 
the constructive imagination of men has found inexhaustible 
occupation, and moral courage has encountered innumerable 
opportunities of proving its worth in new and peculiar 

§ 5. We have so far considered culture only with reference 
to the good things of life which it produces and offers to 
individuals ; the further it advances the more does it require 
likewise fixed external rules of individual conduct, and a 
definite system of administration securing the greatest amount 
of general satisfaction that is rendered possible by the existing 
or attainable means of enjoyment. A society, with the 
customs and rules which have grown up naturally, becomes 
transformed into a State, which has to take the living moral 
Ideas existing in the mind of the society and, scientifically 
and with conscious calculation, to work them as governing 
principles into the details of present circumstances ; likewise 
to present to the mind of each, as a systematic whole, with the 


clear stamp of objective reality, that spiritual organism of 
which he is a member. This is not the place for describing 
an ideal of political order, a task to which we shall not return 
tQl the end of our considerations ; but we must here briefly 
notice the necessity of following such an ideal with more or 
less success, and the inevitable relations with it into which 
each living individual must enter in the natural course of 
things. "We shall find that there are two struggles perpetually 
going on, one between subjective self-will in general and the 
obligation of an objective order, the other between the wants 
of the individual and the mechanism of ordered political life 
by which these wants are not all satisfied. 

Coeval with all the political organizations of the world are 
the hardships inflicted by their institutions on individual 
members of the community ; hardships which are blame- 
worthy in all cases where merit and struggling capacity are 
by law denied room for development and the opportunity of 
winning a congenial position in life, excusable in cases where 
the political organization, while making all careers accessible 
to all, does not at the same time remove those hindrances to 
entering upon them which proceed partly from external 
circumstances, partly from human nature and its weaknesses 
and evil inclinations. We shall have special occasion, at a 
later stage, to consider these partly evitable and partly 
inevitable deficiencies of human arrangements ; we only refer to 
them here in as far as they may awaken doubts of the general 
beneficence of civilisation, and excite the desire for a return to 
the simplicity of a state of Nature. There can of course be 
no question that the ever-increasing refinement of life does not 
benefit all in equal measure, that a full enjoyment of the 
physical and mental advantages of civilisation is the lot of 
only a favoured few, and that on the other hand in all ages a 
large fraction of mankind remains far below the level of 
attainable culture and far removed from its enjoyments. But 
this only makes it all the more erroneous to imagine that 
while culture raises the more favoured ones, it inevitably 
diminishes the measure of enjoyment of all the rest to a less 



amount than might be possible for them if all the trammels 
of a complex social order were to fall away. A sufferer, 
wounded in spirit, forgets in his pain very many benefits 
which he owes to this order, and which because they do not 
assume the tangible form of some private possession are as 
easily overlooked as the presence of the atmosphere that un- 
obtrusively surrounds us and makes respiration possible ; he 
forgets the security of his person, the legal protection which 
is accorded to his claims, the possibilities of culture which are 
open to him, the use which he makes (and indeed the very 
existence) of various ready-made paths in which he may 
endeavour to employ his powers in a way advantageous to him- 
self. He forgets that all this, as well as his very knowledge of 
most of the good things which are denied him, is only mad© 
possible by the civilisation which he blames, and that on the 
other hand the simple state of Nature for which he yearns 
could not secure to a numerous population in most climates 
anything like the same satisfaction of its wants as civilisa- 
tion affords — indeed, there are but very few climates where 
it could even do this approximately and for a time. The 
evils of poverty and misery which we so often see in close 
proximity and saddening contrast to the growing splendour 
of wealth, should no doubt stir up earnest efforts for the 
improvement of social arrangements, but they do not invali- 
date the assertion that every man who is a member — though 
only in a subordinate and unfavourable position — of a civilised 
society, has, unless hindered by his own fault, not only 
participation in an infinitely richer mental life than would 
have been accessible to him as a result of his own isolated 
strength, but also possesses greater possibilities of material 

To the consideration of the other conflict — that which we 
mentioned first — we will also devote just a few words. The 
pressure which is imposed on the individual in the interests 
of universal order, the limits which it sets to his humours, 
fancies, and passions, naturally causes in him a counter-current 
of effort, and he seeks either to escape from this condition of 


constraint, or — wliere that is not possible — to abolisli or 
change the order itself which is the cause of the constraint. 
Society will feel justified in attempting to do the last when it 
suffers as a whole from those of its institutions which have 
become unsuitable. And to wish to maintain an established 
order in opposition to the needs of the whole community, for 
the satisfaction of which it exists, is but a mere empty 
devotion to forms. Ihis established order, however, may not 
only stand opposed to the individual as authoritatively 
restraining his personal desires, it can also, in a moral point 
of view, not be so completely subject to the arbitrary will of 
the community as if it had been the result of arbitrary 
convention. The statutes of a society which has come 
together of its own accord may indeed be regarded as bind- 
ing by conscientious members, but no one regards them as 
sacred ; indeed, their being looked upon as binding, and the 
observance of fidelity and faith with regard to them, seem to 
me to be possible only in a civilised society which has pre- 
viously become accustomed to reverence a binding moral 
order which is independent of its own arbitrary will. A 
great political community is thus, to a large extent, every- 
where a work of Nature, or rather not of mere Nature, but of 
a Moral Order which is independent of the individual, and 
the commands of which occur to men when they are living 
together in a life of social communion, tt rests on the one 
hand on a pious regard for the work which our forefathers 
have begun, whether it is human labour or the development 
of humanity ; on the other hand, on provident love for our 
descendants, since we wish to preserve for them that whicli 
we have inherited and to transmit it to them with interest. 
A humanity which aimed at forgetting completely both past 
and future and at making all the arrangements of life sub- 

I ordinate merely to present satisfaction, would be distinguished 
from the beasts by nothing except a better choice of means. 
Therefore, although there is no question that the mechanism of 
civilised order exists for the sake of society, and not society 


mere sum of all the individuals of which at any given moment 
it is composed. Even in the improbable case of all the 
members without a single exception agreeing with one another, 
yet even then these coexisting members would not constitute 
the community which from a moral point of view is entitled 
to decide with supreme authority on all the forms of its own 
constitution ; we must reckon as indispensable members of such 
a community both the generations that are past and those 
which are still hidden in the lap of the future. A man 
cannot be truly called a citizen of a state or of the world, 
unless he feels himself included in this unbroken chain of the 
temporal development of humanity, endowed with innumerable 
benefits won for him by past generations, and hence bound 
body and soul to this historical whole, without which his own 
existence would be unthinkable, and whose unfinished work 
he is called upon to develop further by his own activity and 
intelligence. Something of this feeling has stirred men in all 
ages, but a consideration of history will teach us how seldom 
the one-sided attachment to what is old and the blind and 
passionate love of innovation have consciously joined for the 
carrying on of this work of true development, and how much 
oftener it has been left for the Tinconscious and pressing 
necessity of circumstances to work out by degrees the progress 
that human wills had refused or had in vain attempted to 
carry on. 



Doubts concerning the Ends and Aims of Human Life — Man as a Transitory 
Natural Product — Spontaneous Judgments, and Reflections upon them — 
Connections with the Supersensuous World — Superstition — Religiousness 
— Unsteadiness and Incoherence of Human Effort. 

§ 1. rilHE more complex and multiform the external order 
-L of life is, the more pressing becomes the question, 
What is the kernel of this hull, and what is the clear gain f 
which men are to purchase at the cost of their life's labour ? ^ 
It is not asked only by those whose unfavourable position in. y 
the midst of a complex civilisation forces them to a long 
struggle for existence and to a continuous series of efforts 
in which every success only brings an immediate necessity for 
fresh labour, and hardly affords the hope, even in the far 
distance, of at last reaching a secure position. It is asked ; 
just as often by those who enjoy all the good things of life 
without having to take any trouble about winning and 
establishing their footing in society; to them, too, it often 
seems as though there were no objects and aims of existence 
except such as men arbitrarily choose to set before them- 
selves — as though nothing could stir the soul except the 
passion of a struggle for something yet unattained, whilst 
any good that one has succeeded in winning seems to melt 
into thin air, and the tension of effort being relaxed there 
remain in its place a tedium and lassitude which seem to 
seek in vain for some new object that will not lose all charm 
in the moment of attainment. There are indeed some lots 
;more favoured — lots in which spells of hard work and joyous 
holidays, labour and compensating enjoyment, are fairly mixed ; 
[ but even from the peaceful content ot such lives men are rudely 



roused by the doubts which are stirred in them, both by the 
injustice of Nature and by a consideration of history. The 
comfort that can be derived from a comprehensive consideration 
of human destinies and the traces of divine guidance in the 
history of mankind, is not within the reach of the majority ; 
within the range that is accessible to them it is, generally 
speaking, only a soul that has already attained peace that can 
grasp the wide harmonies in which all lesser discords are lost. 
It is not always in the power of honest endeavour to struggle 
upwards to a satisfactory position in life, and even if we were 
to allow that no misfortune happened without some error on 
the part of him who suffers from it, still this admission would 
soften but little the bitterness which we feel at seeing incom- 
parably greater faults repaid by the undeserved favour of 
circumstances. And then, finally, how many hopes are dashed 
to the ground by sickness and by death ! How many souls 
appear on the stage of this earthly life only to quit it again 
forthwith without end or aim — without bringing forth any 
fruit of development in their brief existence ! And if we take 
a survey of the fates of human beings as far as our own 
experience goes, what do we see but a perpetual repetition of 
the same labours and sorrows, the same misunderstandings and 
perversities, differing only in external accessories, and every- 
where brightened only by the same isolated lights of transitory 
enjoyment ? How great is the number of the hours and days 
which are spent in works and labours which we should never 
have undertaken except in the hope of a result which would 
more than counterbalance them ; and how few are the 
moments in which it seems to us that we have really lived, 
and not been merely busied with preparations for living ! 
There is scarcely a soul which is altogether free from reflec- 
tions of this sort, although — very fortunately for mankind — 
they are in most men extremely transitory, being displaced by 
cheerfulness of temper or deliberately put aside — and the 
heart is thus enabled to surrender itself to the attraction 
of all the little charms of life, and to be satisfied with them 
for the moment. It is even as the old saying declares, We 



know not whence we conie nor whither we go ; the wonder is ]y^ 
that we can be as light-hearted as we are. 

The short survey of human existence which we have been 
attempting as a preparation for the consideration of its 
historical development, can hardly aim at concluding with 
an answer to these pregnant questions. But the very fact 
that such questions are raised, and that men, with hope and 
doubt, with faith and vivid fancies, look for ends and aims of 
their existence, that they feel themselves to be in constant con- , 
nection with a supersensuous world and by their very efforts ( 
to suppress the feeling only bear witness to its obstinate 1^ 
vitality — all these reflections and emotions (as well as the 
external order of society and evea more emphatically than 
it) must be reckoned among the decisive facts which raise \ 
humanity far above any psychical development of which the | 
inferior animals are capable. It is true that among some i 
species of animals, the reciprocal action of their psychical 
mechanism and physical organization leads to an established 
order of social life ; but whilst in these animal polities a pre- 
determined order, fixed in every detail, combines the actions 
of all the members to an ever uniform whole, it is among 
mankind alone that with the question. What are we, and to 
what_are we destined? there first breaks the dawn of a 
genuine inner life, for the development and enriching of 
which all our expenditure of external activity seems 
designed. The views of life which attempts at answering ,A. 
these questions have produced in the human mind at all ' 
periods, will form our topic for the rest of this chapter. 

S 2. There are scarcely any theoretic convictions that are 
more severely tried by comparison with experience than the 
opinions which we frame concerning our own human nature 
and destiny. In the quiet presence-chamber of speculative 
thought, it is what is good and noble and significant in human 
life that stands out as if it were the whole, and all the dross 
being refined away, the image of man is insensibly glorified 
into an ideal form which not only fits harmoniously into its 
place in the intelligible whole of universal order, but merits 


a place so promment that it seems hardly possible to describe 
worthily the significance of its destiny and the profound import- 
ance of its position in the world. This reverent conception 
of humanity receives a rough shock where we come into 
contact with its average individual representatives. We do 
indeed find everywhere the general physical and mental 
capacities with which man is endowed for the accomplish- 
ment of his high destiny, but so little are these capacities 
consecrated to the service of that destiny, that love of the 
race and contempt for the individual are but too often found 
to be compatible. The last may perhaps be modified by a 
fair consideration of those seeds of good which we may always 
find even in perverted human nature; but the impression 
which we receive on the whole from these everyday experiences 
should make us critical of that over-estimation of human worth 
which has become so familiar to our anthropological reflec- 
tion, and which in truth corresponds but ill with the far more 
modest judgment which men mete out to themselves in their 
unsophisticated daily thought. In the same way that terrestrial 
Nature has been regarded as the only phaenomenal world in 
which the wealth of the Creative Substance has been manifested, 
has it been quite common for philosophy to regard man as 
the isolated apex of this phaenomenal world, and to imagine 
that there was nothing between him and God except a yawn- 
ing chasm, the blank emptiness of which could offer no great 
hindrance to our leaping across it. He who will only trust 
to the most direct experience, a kind of experience which 
presents us with nothing that is supersensuous and shows man 
as supreme in the world of sense, is right from a certain point 
of view. But he who once permits his imagination to stray 
beyond the boundaries of the sensible world is wrong if he 
does not at the same time admit the possible boundlessness 
of the supersensuous realm, but tries instead to put that 
which is highest in the known world of sense into the 
position of next neighbour to the keystone of the universe. 
It is not our business to fill up that wide expanse with 
dreams more or less daring and more or less uncertain ; but 


we must say that we regard as worthless any theory which — ■ 
vainly imagining that it has, by some dialectic method, possessed 
itself of the equation to the curve which represents the law of 
universal development — thinks to demonstrate that the human 
mind is the crown and end of that which can know no 
end — that human life and existence are the last link in the 
great chain of self-developing Infinity. Let us give up the 
presumptuous attempt to extract from such supposed certainty 
of the high position which we occupy in the scale of creation, 
the secret of our being, of our hopes and our destiny ; let us 
rather set out with the admission that we are a feeble folk, 
often wearing out our hearts with doubt, bare of counsel and 
of aid, and feeling nothing so keenly as the uncertainty of our 
origin, of our fate, and of our aims. 

The same exalted and solemn light in which the concept of 
humanity appears to the eye of speculation, illumines with 
still more striking brightness the calm figures of primitive men 
as tradition shows them to us at the beginning of history, 
wandering over the still youthful earth within the precincts 
of Paradise or in patriarchal simplicity. How quickly the 
glory of this picture too is changed when we glance at the 
countless swarm to which mankind have multiplied since 
then ! In this noise and hurly-burly of most prosaic reality, 
how hard it is for the imagination to retain the impression 
which is so naturally produced by the contemplation of that 
little community of the early world which we know so 
well, and the poetic largeness of its simple modes of life ! 
"We are only expressing a feeling which must be familiar to 
all when we recall the humiliating and confusing effect 
exercised upon us by a concrete consideration of the un- 
measurable multitude of mankind, amid the throng of whom 
our own individuality seems to be swallowed up. It is not 
perhaps the entirely solitary man who feels that God is 
close to him, and that he is guarded and sheltered by direct 
divine interposition, but it is likely that this happiness will 
be experienced by one who, while involved in the sacred com- 
munity of family life, feels that all the significant relations of 


soul to soul which grow out of this community are interwoven 
with his own inner life, and is not disturbed by any thought of 
the thousandfold repetition in every corner of the globe which 
makes this significant harmony of existence seem a mere 
ordinary everyday occurrence in the course of events. As 
our hearts are not large enough to embrace all with equally 
active affection, so do we shun the idea of sharing with a count- 
less number of other persons our own relation to the Infinite, 
and it seems to us that the strength of the tie, and indeed our 
very assurance of its reality, decrease in proportion to the 
increase of the numbers to which it is extended. The more 
mankind emerges from the retirement of patriarchal life, and 
becomes conscious of the inexhaustible fertility with which, 
from time immemorial, the earth has produced one race of 
men after another, differing greatly in external form and 
mental endowments, and yet all alike in essentials, indeed all 
in the mode and conditions of their life resembling to some 
extent those races of beasts which in still greater multitudes 
inhabit the most remote corners of the earth, and which arise 
and pass away in shoals — the more vividly all this is present 
to consciousness, the less ready will men be to ent^r on a 
consideration of the worth of their own existence, and their 
mind will be gradually possessed by a belief that mankind 
is but one of the transitory phsenomena which an eternal 
primitive force, revelling in the work of alternate creation 
and destruction, brings forth, only that it may vanish in its 

In saying this I do not intend to suggest that at any period 
of history this view has been predominant among men, 
although it might in fact be recognised as giving the key- 
note of thought at various epochs. I would rather point it 
out as a view that may be met with in all ages, never perhaps 
as an unquestioned faith, but rather as a widespread feeling 
that casts its shadow effectively enough over all human effort. 
Indeed, this mean opinion of themselves which men hold, 
appears in a twofold aspect. In the first place, it appears 
without being sharpened and developed by far - reaching 


reflection, as a direct consciousness of their own lowness 
and commonness, in the vast number of those who, confined 
by the disfavour of circumstances to a narrow circle of thought 
and compelled to a daily struggle with petty hindrances, can 
only be said to endure life as a burden imposed upon them. 
Familiar with the aspect of misery, they know how men are 
ignominiously reaped down in shoals by the course of Nature, 
whilst to him who is more happily placed the infrequent 
spectacle of dissolution has at least the comforting and elevat- 
ing solemnity of an event which is out of the common. All 
the dark shadows of life, all the hardships inflicted by the 
ordinary course of events, stand out in naked prominence in 
their daily experience, and produce that passive resignation 
with which in all ages the bulk of the human race endures 
life and death. They do not live their life but they tolerate 
it from its beginning to its end, having no comprehensive 
aims, and only intent upon warding off in detail immediate 
ill, and winning in detail proximate small advantages ; in the 
same way they tolerate death as a necessity which it 
would be hardly worth while to escape for the sake of 
continuing such a life as theirs; for although they may 
remember some isolated enjoyments, they would hardly find 
that life held for them any great and permanent treasure of 
delight which they would feel impelled to try and secure from 
destniction. The same power that helps us over so many 
dark and fathomless chasms in life softens also the gloomy 
colouring of this mood of thought — I allude to the thought- 
less forgetfulness with which the human soul entertains in 
close conjunction the most diverge opinions, never bringing them 
into clear contrast — a thoughtlessness which enables us to 
give ourselves up fully and entirely to the passing pleasure of 
the moment, although we entertain such a poor opinion of the 
worth of our life on the whole. 

That which we have here been considering as spontaneous 
feeling, and an ordinary accompaniment of existence, reappears 
refined by reflection and intensified to explicit belief in count- 
less varied forms of theoretic conviction which for the present 


we "will not attempt to investigate further. There can have 
been no period in which there did not exist views according 
to which human life was regarded as a passing wave thrown 
up by an unknown ocean in its continuous movement ; but all 
these views, with the slight worth which they attribute to the 
individual as a mere mortal and vanishing phsenomenon, have 
only exercised a noticeable influence upon life itself in cases 
where they have been the living outcome of that natural turn 
of mind which we have been describing, the causes and con- 
sequences of which were by these views brought into clear 
consciousness. But where this spontaneous feeling has been 
other and better, where minds have been stirred by the large 
interests of culture and civilisation, and have been admitted, 
by favourable circumstances of nurture and education, to a 
living participation in those interests — in all such cases 
living life has been stronger than the pantheistic and material- 
istic views developed in opposition to it by reflection or 
scholasticism, and men have in reality lived and felt and 
striven after another fashion than that set down in their own 
theories concerning themselves. 

I know that this will be denied, and that it will be main- 
tained that all moral greatness and purity of life can be logically 
combined with a faith that does in fact in perfect honesty 
deny the existence of a supernatural order of things, our 
connection therewith, and the continuance of our existence 
/' beyond the limits of earthly life. I admit the fact of this 
"^ combination, but not its logical consistency ; on the contrary, 
it is that very inconsistency of our nature which so often 
saves us from being perverted by our theoretic errors, which 
makes it possible for us to combine action accordant with a 
sense of the dignity of humanity with views the logical effect 
of which would be to annihilate that dignity, and this in a 
fashion which, as it seems to me, is wholly contradictory. It 
is asserted that the obligation of the Moral Law is not altered if 
we regard all mental life a.s merely so much mechanical action 
of matter and its accidental combinations, having no higher end 
than to persist, and to fluctuate hither and thither for as long 


a period as is made necessary by the collocation of the 
material particles ; in this assertion, however, there certainly 
is, not a logical connection of thought, but a forcible moral 
resolve that has determined to hold fast by a reverence for 
morality, spite of the materialistic theory with which it is 
incompatible. It will perhaps be attempted to substitute, for 
a supersensuous mysterious world which is to us the source 
of the obligation of moral commands, the Dignity of Man and 
a Self-respect whicli isolates him from dependence on any 
superior, yet enjoins him to rule and keep in check the lower 
nature in himself. I doubt, however, if a view which recog- 
nises only a mechanical course of Nature can logically do 
anything with such ideas as those of reverence and so forth 
but reckon them among the morbid productions of imagina- 
tion to which nothing real corresponds, and of which it has 
already learnt to reject so many. I doubt further whether a 
view which regards the individual as merely a passing phase 
in the spontaneous activity of an Infinite Substance, could have 
any logical reason for attributing to such a nonentity any 
obligation to maintain a dignity belonging to it in its 
individual and transitory character — a dignity which it 
should or could maintain by its own spontaneous activity 
— whether such dignity ought not much rather to have its 
presence or absence laid to the account of the Infinite Sub- 
stance itself. The logical outcome of all such views can only 
be to let ourselves go as Nature prompts, and to use that 
mysterious sparkle of independent substantiality which shines 
within us, with what wisdom we may, for the attaining and 
enhancing of physical wellbeing. Thus moral commands could 
only be accepted as maxims of action on account of the 
secondary consideration that they are useful on the whole. 

Meanwhile it is not possible, nor is it our intention, to 
discuss in this place the question whether these different 
views of the supersensuous world are intrinsically right or 
wrong ; our intention has merely been to refer to them in as 
far as they are to be reckoned among the ordinary factors of 
human development. And here we must repeat that we 


doubt whether any one of these views which regard human 
beings as altogether dependent and transitory has ever become 
a really pervading sentiment of the whole nature, in spon- 
taneous thought and action, as well as in reflection. When an 
ancient poet, having scouted all ideas of deities and retribution 
after death as useless terrors by which the smooth and peaceful 
course of our natural pleasure in life is disturbed, turns upon 
us and inveighs against the fear of death, and asks, Do we, 
insatiable, desire to go on feasting for ever, and never to 
retire with dignity, as satisfied guests, from the banquet of 
life ? the effect produced is no doubt striking. But in asking 
this, does he not forget that monitions to moderation and 
dignity must fall very flat on the ear of him who knows that 
in an hour he will cease to be ? Or, in using this simile, which 
is quite out of keeping with his general tenor, is he not per- 
chance secretly influenced by the truer thought that this life 
is indeed a banquet from which, as guests who have had 
enough, we must depart; but that we, not so transitory, depart 
from it only to enter another state of existence in which 
there will remain to us the memory of what we have before 
enjoyed ? And on the other side, what poetic and glowing 
expression has often been given to pantheistic views ! But 
whilst they extol with devotional rapture the absorption of 
the individual in the universal, is not that which they are 
glorifying just the abiding and enduring joy which the mortal 
experiences in its reunion with the eternal ? And do they not 
hereby assert the immortality of that mortal, which, though 
destined to extinction, is only destined to such an extinction 
as signifies its eternal preservation in some form or other ? 
This thought, which pantheistic poetry cannot escape, is one 
which cannot be got rid of either by the most prosaic reason- 
ing or the most commonplace views. People may seem to be 
as thoroughly convinced as you will of their own impending 
annihilation, and may speak of the disappearance of personal 
existence in the lap of universal Nature, and one may indeed 
imagine that that which used to happen may cease to happen, i 
but one can never imagine that anything which has once existed 


can cease to be. And however much people may attempt 
to persuade themselves that the self-conscious Ego is in fact 
only an event, a vanishing passage between atoms variously 
moved, still the immediate consciousness of our personal reality \y^ 
will always remain invincible to these attempts, and we can 
never think of ourselves as melting away in the great receptacle 
of universal Nature without thinking too that we shall stUl be 
preserved and go on existing in it in our dissolved condition. 

I must repeat that I am not setting up these modes of 
thought as true, but am describing them as facts of our 
unsophisticated consciousness ; they may be right or wrong, but 
at any rate they are what we go through life with ; our reflec- 
tions are never quite free from a presentiment of something j ■ 
supersensuous. On the other hand, we are not in a position 
to raise these presentiments to a condition of unquestioned n^s 
authority, except by a summary act of faith ; it is the natural 
condition of man to fluctuate between the consciousness of an 
eternal destiny and the ever-recurring dread of being a mere 
indifferent and perishing production of the general course of 
Nature, both feelings being toned down by thoughtless light- C 
heartedness. And even that apathetic mood of the majority 
which I have described is broken by suggestions of such pre- 
sentiments, and the monitions of conscience make it plain to 
them now and again that they are not altogether like the grass 
of the field and the perishing productions of the vegetable world ; 
and conversely the security of the most earnest conviction of 
the eternal significance of man's spirit is shaken by the 
unmistakeable and peremptory clearness with which the course 
of Nature seems to declare tliat no other fate can await the 
living mind than the fate of sharing in that destruction which 
befalls the living form, and of disappearing from the world of 
realities without leaving a trace behind. 

If we stay to consider for a moment that philosophic view 
01 which the dominant characteristic is a vivid consciousness 
of human meanness and transitoriness, we see plainly that it 
is hardly entitled to speak at all of aims in life. Its scientific 
teachings have indeed gone so far as to dissuade men from ail 


carking care concerning such aims and all supersensuoua 
interests in general, and to recommend them to restrict them- 
selves to a regulated satisfaction of natural wants. But they 
have seldom gone further, and have hardly ever succeeded in 
silencing the opposition of a better feeling which always sets 
itself against such a reduction of life to the condition of a sort 
of peaceable and aimless vegetation. On the one hand, they 
have had to give way to human nature so far as tacitly to 
allow to the knowledge of truth, the charm of beauty, and the 
majesty of moral commands, that superiority to all mere 
natural impulses, however urgent, which the mind is accus- 
tomed to attribute to them, allowing it in spite of the fact 
that the superiority is not intelligible on their principles ; on 
the other hand, they have never been able to put a stop to 
practical efforts which far transcend the needs of a mere 
vegetative existence. Although in theory men would often 
have denied the existence of this inextinguishable feeling of 
being bound up with an imperishable world, yet its activity has 
been shown again and again, sometimes in provident care for the 
wellbeing of a distant posterity — a care which seems to spring 
up spontaneously in men's hearts — sometimes in the intense 
interest taken in the general improvement of mankind ; and, 
how often, in outbursts of ambition which have disturbed the 
world ! The individual soul that considers itself to be a mere 
passing production of Nature is seldom altogether indifferent to 
future fame, and yet in what would the attraction of such 
fame consist if it were merely attached to a name which no 
longer had an owner ! In all these manifestations there is 
revealed the suppressed belief in a world of spiritual interests, 
a world to which its individual members are indissolubly 
united, far as we may yet be from any clear idea of the way 
in which what seems so transient becomes endowed with 
eternal existence. 

§ 3. But in the mysterious compound of feelings of which we 
are continually conscious, that particular feeling of the nothing- 
ness and forlornness of our earthly existence is not always 
dominant. Over against the prose of this resigned mood 


stands the wild poetry of superstition, as a second great mani- 
festation of human self-consciousness. It has been long ago 
remarked how surprisingly near the rankest superstition is to 
unbelief, and how it seems to arise out of it. And, in fact, 
the thought of the common and natural transitoriness of the 
individual and of the perdurableness belonging only to the 
dark and unfathomable Eternal are like two notes that ring 
out together ; a gust of wind may make now one and now the 
other swell fuller and overpower its fellow. But all super- 
stition depends upon this, that the activity of that Infinite 
Substance which at first was regarded as guiding the course 
of individual things only indirectly and from a distance, as 
it were with calm indifference, suddenly comes to be con- 
sidered as immediately present in all the most insignificant 
affairs, permeating the whole frame of phaenomena, and con- 
necting its parts together with the mysterious force of an 
all-pervading fervour, from which the individual creature, 
surrounded and caught on every hand, is never able to escape. 

This belief that we are encompassed on all sides by a 
supersensuous world, among the clouds of which the near and 
sharply defined outlines of our lives become lost, indiscriminately 
and past recognition, is also a mood of thought which has, on 
the one hand, predominated during long periods of human 
development, and on the other hand, is in all periods ready to 
come to the front again in isolated manifestations. This mood 
has influenced life in different ways, according as the tempera- 
ment and disposition of nations and their greater or less 
appreciation of the clear factual relations of experience and 
the primary moral demands of the soul have disposed the 
imagination either to a calm receptive temper, or to a gloomy 
or immoderate enthusiasm. Oriental extravagance endowed 
its picture of the world with a wide background and luxuriant 
wealth of colouring ; it introduced notions of the beginning of 
the world, of the good and evil principles of all things, of the 
fall of man from his first estate through Satan, of a history of 
the world, in the sense of a coherent development of all visible 
and invisible reality ; for it all these supreme thoughts which 



the human mind elsewhere only approaches with timidity, 
appeared above the mental horizon of everyday life, wearing 
the familiar aspect of well-known stories ; they were retained 
there by innumerable ceremonies — sometimes by monstrous 
expiations, by which men imagined that they won back sanc- 
tification and a power over Nature (of which recovery, how- 
ever, unprejudiced observation would not have been able to 
point out the slightest trace) — sometimes by detailed precepts 
which, petty, vexatious, and useless as they were, hampered 
the most spontaneous movements of common life by reminders 
of their pretended dependence on mysterious bonds of the 
great universe itself. Grecian mythology took a different 
course ; not without loss of instructive content, but with an 
increase of gracious and artistic development, it restored to 
freedom the greater part of human life, delivering it from the 
rank oppressive growth of a mysticism which darkened the 
world from pole to pole. Different times and different modes 
of life have favoured different developments of this temper 
of mind ; but wherever our earthly existence has been pene- 
trated by the conviction of a close and thoroughgoing con- 
nection between this existence itself and an universal cosmic 
life, and the conviction has been systematized by attempts to 
establish a mystic and theocratic regulation of common social 
relations, the natural course of development has been hindered 
by the imposition of artificial and to some extent unintelligible 
tasks, which have thrown into the shade the true physical and 
moral interests of unperverted human nature. 

There arose from this source not only distorted theories, 
which unconcernedly contradicted the most ordinary expe- 
rience, but also a series of gloomy ascetic struggles, which are 
among the most noteworthy phaenomena in the world's history, 
and which in the interests of an ideal end inaugurated an 
express combat against just those natural foundations upon 
which the existence of the combatant depends. But on the 
other hand, where a more propitious course of events has 
given greater development to men's taste for daily labour and 
for the pursuit of commerce and manufacture, interest in the 


system by which a clear division of daily labour is marked 
out for different individuals throws into the shade anxiety 
concerning the connection of our life with an invisible and 
mysterious order of things ; and this anxiety only reappears in 
isolated manifestations of superstition, which persistently con- 
tradict experience, without, however, producing much effect 
on the whole. In this way of looking at life there is a 
general preponderance of melancholy; and superstition, be- 
lieving itself to be everywhere encompassed by the immediate 
presence of the most profound cosmic relations, feels this 
encompassing to be for the most part as a continual suspicion, 
temptation, and menace, with which men are hemmed in by 
some dark and destiny-laden power. But there is bound up 
with this gloomy view a higher estimate, unconscious and 
involuntary, of finite personality. The mysterious connection 
of things seems to be everywhere concerned with this per- 
sonality, and to hold it fast ; and for that very reason it seems 
that this cannot be a commonplace, transitory, and insigni- 
ficant element which the course of Xature makes and then 
again unmakes, but must be an indestructible and real being 
that of its own choice and free will ponders the perplexing 
questions of the universe, and is in a position to incur inef- 
faceable guilt by its own election. Thus superstition is full 
of the idea of responsibility, an idea which cannot be recog- 
nised by the view which regards every finite being as a mere 
insignificant production of the Universal Substance. 

§ 4. I now hasten briefly to a conclusion which is only 
intended to form the starting-point of our final considera- 
tions. From fluctuation between the two views of life which 
I have been describing, there arises a state of equilibrium 
which, though not unattainable for man, is perhaps only fully 
reached in rare and favoured moments. We would distinguish 

tthis third mood of thought as Religiousness. In this stage 
consciousness of our own weakness is bound up with the 
belief that we are called nevertheless to an imperishable 
work in the world; and the conviction of an intimate con- 
nection between our earthly life and the mysterious whole of 



this universal frame no longer interferes with our care for 
the small tasks of daily life. It is not the power of larger 
knowledge which accomplishes the union of these conflicting 
thoughts, but the power of a larger and more Kving faith, 
which attributes to the voice of spiritual experience and of 
conscience as great importance as to the testimony of the 
senses, and at the same time does not twist this testimony in 
order to make it accord with a pretended higher knowledge, 
being content to believe that God has reserved to Himself 
alone cognisance of the day and hour in which all our long- 
ings and presentiments are to be fulfilled. The function of 
earthly life in the coherent infinity of existence seems to be 
of the nature of a preparation, of an educative probation, not 
aimless and empty of significance as a vanishing present uncon- 
nected with any future, but on the other hand, not to be an 
end in itself, or of such binding force, that every error of the 
school-life must have the influence of an irrevocable fate. From 
this mode of thought arise the conscientiousness, the earnest 
endeavour, and the patient love which the mind ought to 
bring to bear upon the tasks of earthly life, together with 
that still greater earnestness of mood and calm peace which 
come to us from feeling that the imperfection of earthly effort 
has the sting taken out of it; for it is not the outward 
result achieved (which may be insignificant), but loyal honest 
labour, which is both the end of such effort and the vocation 
to which we are called. 

But it is after all only for brief moments that we really 
feel this sense of peace. I am not here referring to the con- 
flicts and disturbances, and the ever-recurring unrest which 
arise from the differences, smoothed over, but not reconciled, 
between the conclusions of faith and the importunate objec- 
tions of science ; for it is a keen sense of these differences 
that is at the foundation of our attempt to get a clear idea 
of the position and destiny of man. The less, therefore, do 
we need to point out again in this place what violent dis- 
turbances our peace of mind is subject to from this quarter^ 
But there is another human imperfection which we have 


often referred to, and must refer to once again at the end 
of this survey of the moods which characterize our inner life ; 
I mean that unsteadiness of our thoughts and feelings which 
so seldom allows us to hold fast that which belongs to 
our peace, and to make it sound on in deep unbroken har- 
mony. Sometimes we think of the ends alone and forget the 
means, sometimes we are absorbed in the treatment of the 
means themselves, and lose all remembrance of the end ; 
what is exalted dazzles us, and makes us lose sight of small 
duties, and no less does the consideration of small things 
blind us to that which is great ; tension and relaxation alter- 
nate here as in bodily conditions, and our thoughts are not 
the same on Sundays and on week-days. How much of that 
which in hours of thought we acknowledge as our earnest 
conviction seems for long periods together to slip out of our 
recollection, being like a hoarded treasure which it is 
enough merely to possess — and how rare are the moments in 
which that supersensuous world in which we believe is 
present to our consciousness as a living truth that really 
touches our life itself! What we so often see in great 
matters, delay in carrying out good resolutions, is of almost 
universal occurrence in small matters ; with an honest belief 
in the unity of our work, and of the connection there is 
between all human efforts for the fulfilment of one and the 
same destiny, we yet put off the consideration of many 
questions, and our activities seem to work independently 
and in isolation in the most various directions. Thus the 
whole circle of the sciences, and each science in particular, lose 
all conscious reference to their common centre, as though each 
constituted an independent and self-sufficing sphere of 
interests, and it is the same with art and the industries 
which minister to the wants of external life ; so that while 
on high days and holidays we recognise the supreme and 
absolute end, we work on week by week for mediate ends, 
separated by several removes from the final end. In saying 
this we wish not so much to express a serious reproach, as 
to indicate an imperfection from which human nature cannot 



quite free itself by the mere force of good intentions. And 
the confession of this very imperfection is just the concluding 
duty of this sketch, the business of which has been, not to 
describe ideals which we have to pursue, but to set forth the 
opinions which as a matter of fact mankind are accustomed 
to entertain regarding their ideals, and the efforts which they 
actually make to approximate to these ideals. 


THE point at which we have now arrived is not a final 
resting-place, but an inclined plane, along which we 
have to proceed further, and from which we now make a 
hasty survey of the whence and whither of the path we have 
been travelling. 

The first important section of our considerations only 
brought us to an unsatisfying conclusion ; it seemed that 
Man was merely one among countless examples of what can 
be accomplished by the universal order of Nature's mechanism. 
"We saw, indeed, that laws alone never in any case produce 
a real being; they produce such only by means of a pre- 
existent Keal, actual, manifold, and primary, which subordinates 
itself and its working to these laws, its capacity of action 
being merely directed and regulated by them. But the whole 
wealth of reality which we have thus to presuppose seema 
at first to be a mere scattered manifold of fortuitous facts, 
not joined by any bond of living unity so as to form a 
second great department of the universe, in the same way 
as the individual laws of the mechanical order of Nature 
harmonize together so as to make a first fundamental depart- 
ment. Since experience shows traces not only of a sub- 
ordination of all individual elements under similar universal 
laws, but also of their co-ordination into a systematic whole, 
the parts of which are complementary to one another, this 
harmony came to be perversely regarded as a blind outcome 
of the original nature and collocation of cosmic elements; 
these, it was held, must have a nature and position of some 
kind, and having just that which they have and no 
other, must necessarily result in this order, and not in 
permanent chaos. The pertinacity of this unsatisfactoiy 


view V7as overcome at last ; and it was obliged to confess 
itself as being in fact only the disguised and unwilling 
expression of the acknowledgment that the final, the most 
comprehensive and the fundamental fact of reality, is the 
unity and inner coherence of creative Nature, which did not 
throw into that realm of necessary laws an unconnected 
multitude of examples to be experimented on, but set before 
them the hidden germ of an ordered world, that they might 
develop it. And if reflection thinks beforehand of the sub- 
sequent combination of its individual conclusions, it will 
add the thought that, speaking generally, this system of law — 
to which reality seems to submit — is not in truth a pre- 
existing necessity to which reality, being of later birth, thus 
accommodates itself; that on the contrary the creative 
Nature which seems to adapt itself to mechanical require- 
ments, is the first and only Eeal, this mechanism being 
merely the form in which its activity flows forth; and in 
consequence of the thoroughgoing unity and consistency of 
this activity, the form of it can be abstracted from particular 
examples, can be isolated as though it were a universal 
necessity, everywhere the same, and finally can be conceived 
as a foreign and independent limit of that of which it is the 
very nature. 

It is this living reality that has been the subject of our 
consideration; we have sought to find in it Man, and the 
position occupied by his special nature as contrasted with the 
equally special natures of other beings. The result, however, 
wliich we have arrived at as the conclusion of our considerations 
is almost wholly negative. Extensive as we found the influ- 
ence of universal and uniformly acting conditions upon the 
development of human existence to be, we found also that it 
never suffices to explain this development without predis- 
positions to civilisation of the most special kind which it 
encounters in the human creature, but does not first produce 
in him. But when, on the other hand, we attempted to 
determine positively the connection of this human nature 
with the whole of reality and its significant position in that 



whole, our reflections resulted in doubts and obscurity. We 
Imow not wliat there is hidden from us in the countless stars 
which touch our lives only when a ray from them reaches 
our eyes by night ; how then should we know our place in 
the whole great universe, with only a small fraction of which 
we are acquainted ? We, living on the surface of this planet, 
find ourselves at the head of an animal series the perfected 
type of which is reached in our organization, but of what 
import is this dignity in the animal kingdom, a matter of 
which we hardly ever think during life, and which is of no 
advantage to the progress of our development ? i'inally, 
we feel ourselves divided mentally from this animal world 
by a great chasm; but pursuing ideals which concern us 
alone, on the one hand we find that we almost everywhere 
fall short of that in which alone we believe that there is 
worth, and on the other hand we remark how there vegetates 
around us simultaneously that other kind of animate life 
which knows not these ideals. Our own ends are not clear 
to us ; innumerable things exist outside of us, the meaning 
and destiny of which we know still less ; he who would know 
himself must divine the plan of the whole great cosmic 
frame which includes such various constituents. 

We shall attempt in the last part of these considerations 
to develop as much of this plan as has been made plain to 
us by our survey of history, and by the connection of Ideas 
which the intellectual labour of the human race has gradually 
attained — thus uniting scattered threads of reflection, and 
reconciling many an apparent contradiction. 







Obscnrity of the Beginnings and of the Future of Man's Life — Nature and 
Creation — Steadiness of Development in Nature, and Aibitrary Divine 
Interference — The Sphere of Nature and the Sphere of History — The 
Genesis in Nature of Living Beings and of Man — Impossibility of setting 
this out in Detail. 

§ 1. XTIEOM all of us the beginnings of our life are 
-L hidden, and beyond the few recollections of early- 
childhood which we venture to trust, there settles down a 
wide and unknown background of profound obscurity. Yet 
an eye which could penetrate the gloom would certainly not 
find it empty ; the most plastic period of our life has doubtless 
been influenced by innumerable conditions which have left 
behind them results that still continue to operate in us. It 
may be that these blind and involuntary beginnings of develop- 
ment become comparatively unimportant beside the deliberate 
self-education of later life ; but, for good and for ill, we owe 
to the impressions stored up in this prehistoric period many 
a vague propensity of which we are conscious, and which we 
reluctantly acknowledge, and many a lofty aspiration which 
we obey as the voice of something higher than we ourselves. 
And the future as well as the past is hidden from us ; we 
know not whither our course will impel us. A glance at the 
proximate objects which we have set before ourselves, marks 
out some part of the path which stretches into our future, but 
as we travel further along it innumerable unexpected impres- 
sions throng upon us, distracting, enticing, suggesting new 
aims, awaking fresh endeavours, and at the end of our way we 
find ourselves at a spot quite other than that to which our 
earliest desires pointed, and unable even to understand much 
of that which once filled and stirred our whole soul. So 



strange is the constitution of that Ego which the finite spirit 
accosts as its Self, and speaks of as its Self. In the full con- 
sciousness of inalienable self-identity such a spirit believes 
that it moulds itself and its nature from the very foundation 
by its own activity, and does not see that even at the times 
when it is most conscious of development it does little more 
than labour at modifying the surface of a germ which, unwit- 
ting both of its origin and of its future, it finds implanted 
within itself. 

The same spectacle is presented on a larger scale by the 
history of mankind. Neither the progress of exact science 
nor the wider view afforded to human reflection by the ever 
higher standpoints to which it gradually attains, lightens the 
obscurity that shrouds both the origin of our race and the 
final outcome of its development. We have only learnt that 
there has taken place an inevitable and irreparable dislocation 
of those graphic representations of the beginning and end of 
all things between which, as between two fixed limits, the 
boding imagination of men was wont to believe that the 
swelling tide of human destiny could be hemmed in. And 
perhaps the failure to hem it in thus is due to a feeling 
which is the heritage of humanity and which humanity itself 
secretly wishes to retain — thb ieeling that there are in the 
world immeasurable regions which are veiled in twilight, 
and a sense (felt by men who are midway between the two 
profound abysses — safe because hidden — of past and future) of 
rejoicing in the limited illumination which opens up, over 
some few centuries of human existence, an outlook that is 
much interrupted and fills men with forebodings. 

To us at least it almost seems as though men's imagination 
delighted to dwell on the great enigma of our origin and 
destiny only because it is assured beforehand of failure, and it 
would perhaps recoil with dread if a bold leap were really to 
lead to a solution of the questions with which it timorously 
and yet rashly meddles. As long as these outermost regions 
are wrapped in total darkness we may interpret the outlines 
of that which is hidden, in accordance with the longings of our 


own hearts; if light were to break in and convince us that 
it is not as we had thought, it might easily be that the pro- 
spect thus opened before us would seem too boundless, the 
distances too immeasurable to afford us any longer the unre- 
flecting security which had previously made us feel quite at 
home in the great universal frame. 

But we need not speak of this as of something that might 
happen in case very unlikely conditions were to be fulfilled ; 
the fact rather is that the discord to which we refer has 
actually been produced by the initial steps ventured by 
science in the endeavour, to throw light upon the origin of 
mankind. Therefore we must so far yield to the longing 
which continually draws us to these mysteries as to try and 
separate between the possible answer to a general question 
and the impossible satisfaction of a curiosity that extends to 

§ 2. It was at any rate only among the most unintellectual 
nations that opinions concerning the origin of the world were 
due merely to the unrest of ordinary curiosity which (without 
any sense of the different degrees of importance attaching to 
different questions) seeks to satisfy itself about all objects of 
experience, small or great, by a circumstantial account of their 
origin. In all cases where cultured intelligence has set forth 
in poetic legends the beginning and end of things, it has been 
moved by the deeper longing to show that the enigmatical 
fraction of cosmic order which constitutes earthly history 
comes forth directly from a higher world, and that after ful- 
filling its appointed tasks, it will return again whence it came. 
We have been brought up to believe the most exalted of all 
these accounts. According to our faith the earth and its 
denizens were the direct creation of the divine hand, the 
earth being the only abode of life in the immeasurable extents 
of space ; and the last day will give back into God's own hand the 
results of earthly history, which is itself the sum of all history, 
and which has at no moment of its course escaped the vigilant 
eye of Providence. Creation and judgment bound the chang- 
ing panorama of history and satisfy our hearts with a sense of 


the unity of that unchanging Being in whom are comprehended 
all the mutations of circumstances. 

Is it true that this wide scope of thought has become 
impossible for the spirit of modern science ? Or has it (as often 
happens with great thoughts) only taken on an unaccustomed 
form of expression, under which guise it continues to exist in 
its integrity? Modern- science starts no longer from the 
" without form and void " over which the Spirit of God broods, 
but perchance, from a sphere of heated vapour which with 
countless others is whirling round in space ; it no longer 
marks off periods of the world's formation as the work of 
different days of the divine creation, but measures them 
according to the decrease of radiated heat, the formation of 
liquids, the solidification of the earth's surface and its mani- 
fold fissures ; it no longer deduces the origin of living creatures 
from an immediate interposition of God, but ascribes them to 
the gradual evolution of those productions which were brought 
forth by the inherent powers of primitive matter, being at 
first simple and becoming increasingly complex. Does all 
this really decide the great question, Do we owe our existence 
to Nature or to Creation ? and does it decide it in a way 
unfavourable to the aspirations of faith ? 

I think not ; on the contrary, the longing to emphasize 
ever more and more the unmediated creative activity of God, 
to the exclusion of all natural means, must admit that it does 
itself only bind this activity the closer to limiting condi- 
tions, after the inappropriate pattern of human action. It is 
not enough that the evolution of Nature takes place according 
to the will of God ; governed by a secret conviction that there 
may be something which resists this will, if only through 
inertia, this temper of mind desires to see the very application 
of God's hand by which He either makes nothing into some- 
thing, or introduces order among the formless elements of 
things. But such actual application is necessary only for 
feeble creatures whose will can of itself move nothing, and 
who must therefore endeavour to accomplish a mediated result 
by setting in action limbs of a body with which they did not 


endow themselves according to laws which they did not 
set up. Such extremely undisguised anthropomorphism, and 
limitation of divine action, will indeed, no doubt, be readily 
given up, or even eagerly rejected ; but the more refined 
representations which take its place are still influenced by 
the working of the same mistaken idea. If God did not form 
the world by the might of His hand, must He not at least 
have breathed into it the breath of life — must He not have 
spoken some Let there he — must He not have given an 
external impetus of some kind, without which His will could 
not have been communicated to things ? How obstinately does 
our imagination cling to such requirements ! And yet all the 
time we are perfectly conscious that it is not in the momentum 
of His breath, not in the commotion produced in the world 
by the sound-waves of His voice, that creative efficacy is to 
be sought ; this efficacy resides only in the will of God itself, 
and things do not need to be made aware of this, as of some- 
thing eyternal to them, by physical hearing and feeling, in 
order to obey Him who fills their being. 

Now, if that which formed the world were neither the 
visible hand of God, nor the breath of His mouth that might 
be felt, nor His word that might be heard, but only His will, 
silent and invisible, what kind of spectacle would have been 
presented to a mind that had been so fortunate as to witness 
the process of creation ? Nothing but the spectacle of things 
that seemed to arise spontaneously from nothing, or that 
spontaneously condensed out of invisible diffusion into visible 
form, since no audible command called them forth from a pre- 
existing storehouse — ^nothing but the spectacle of movements 
which seemed to spring spontaneously from the elements 
themselves and their invisible action and reaction, since they 
were not communicated by any perceptible breath from God's 
mouth — nothing, finally, but the spectacle of bodies which, 
as no visible hand put together their constituent parts, 
would seem to be produced by the reciprocal attraction of the 
elements. Therefore the process of the formation of the 
world would appear in no way different to him who conceived 



of it as pervaded by the creative activity of God, and to him 
who could see in it nothing but a successive evolution according 
to natural law. If, therefore, we, setting out from experience, 
feel ourselves compelled by scientific consistency to trace back 
the chain of such developments to the very beginning of the 
world, we need not fear that we shall on this account be 
necessarily driven to adopt a conception which excludes the 
dependence of the world upon God. On the contrary, we 
arrive in the end at just the same conception that should be 
presented to us from the beginning by faith in a divine 
creation, if such faith understand its own aim. For the purer 
and grander our conception of this creative activity is, the less 
shall we expect at any moment a special manifestation of the 
finger of God in the phaenomenal world ; but we shall, on the 
contrary, believe that His almighty power is present in the 
constancy of Nature's regular working, invisible, but not there- 
fore less efficient. 

§ 3. But — ^it will be objected — does this set our doubts 
at rest ? Is the bitter thought taken away, that what is 
great and what is small, what is exalted and what is mean, 
all proceeds indifferently from the inlierent powers of thb 
material elements ? Was there no more express divine 
volition exercised in the production of living creatures which 
are destined to the passionate struggles of an historical 
development than in the formation of the inanimate surface 
of the earth upon which their life is to be lived ? Did no 
specially solemn circumstances distinguish the beginning of our 
own existence, did no interposition of powers superior to the 
uniform course of Nature mark a division at the point at 
which creatures endowed with mental life appear upon the 
destined theatre of their activity ? 

In mentioning this last requirement I am not jesting ; 
,we are all subject to fancy that great events are not quite 
complete unless their entrance upon the stage of life is 
glorified by a striking transformation both of the stage itself 
and of the actors ; and even in the present case we are 
subject to this fancy, although we must admit that here the 


splendour of the new scene would be wasted, no one being 
in existence upon whom it could make an impression. This 
being so, we can with all the more force meet the first 
objection to which we referred, by asking what is meant by 
that inherent power of the elements to which men are so 
reluctant to attribute the origin of the animate world ? The 
fact is, that those who with pitying consideration would 
convince us how utterly impossible it is that the beauty and 
significance of living creatures could have arisen from the 
mere action and reaction of the elements, combat us from 
positions which we believe that we ourselves hold more 
strongly even than they. For it is they whose view betrays 
the erroneous presupposition that there could be action and 
reaction of elements, whilst these elements are regarded as 
isolated, and not comprehended in the One, and that such 
action and reaction might lead to definite results. And 
having inconsiderately abandoned to this mode of being and 
of action (which they regard as possible) the one part of 
Nature, they seek, arbitrarily and too late, to withdraw from 
the same influence the other part of Nature, being alarmed 
by an exaggerated estimate of difficulties which it seems to 
them that nothing but a direct interposition of divine power 
can remove. Too late ; for if elements, through their own 
nature and without any concourse of God, are capable of 
exercising certain activities, how are they to be subsequently 
made dependent on divine government ? If the divine will 
makes any call upon them for action which does not follow 
from their very nature, will they not oppose to such calls, 
not only mere passive inertia, but also all the resistance of 
which an independent and active being is capable ? And 
how could this resistance be overcome unless both God and 
Nature were embraced by a higher law valid for both, which 
should guarantee to the divine will a definite measure of 
obedience on the part of Nature ? If one seeks to heighten 
the idea of divine governance by representing it as acting 
from without upon a spontaneously active world which is 
opposed to it, and by ascribing to it forms of activity other 


than those according to which this world itself acts, one ia 
inevitably led to the conception of divine action above 
indicated, a conception applicable not to the infinite God, 
but to a restricted and finite being. 

But it would be wrong to regard the mode of thought 
discussed above as the only one which is opposed to our 
own view. On the contrary, those who agree with us in 
recognising God's working under the forms of Nature's 
activity, may yet doubt whether this working restricts itself 
to such forms and spends itself in them. The rejection of 
the figurative representation of the application of God's hand 
will not be considered a sufficient refutation. For your 
imaginary observer — it might be said — there may indeed 
have been no divine hand specially visible among the 
phgenomena of the genesis and formation of the world, but 
all may have seemed to him to result from invisible powers 
of spontaneous growth. This, however, would by no means 
prove that every single moment of such development con- 
tained within itself all the necessary conditions for the 
production of that which should follow, and that there was 
no need of divine aid in order to complete the conditions 
necessary to a result apparently, but only apparently, caused 
by the complement of phsenomena. "We should be making 
an arbitrary assumption if we supposed that after the 
creation of things and the regulation of their evolutionary 
relations, God would withdraw Himself for ever from the 
world ; but, on the other hand, it would be possible and 
probable that at every subsequent moment He should require 
from things actions which were not contained as self-evident 
consequences in their previous performances ; and, finally, we 
could not doubt that these commands of God would be 
unhesitatingly obeyed, just because the nature of things and 
their capacity of action are a nonentity without Him. 

But, we would reply, that completion by divine aid must 
either be something which is according to rule, and the 
addition of which at a definite point in the order of the 
world had been determined by God from the beginning, in 


accordance with the eternal consistency of His being ; or it 
must be something which is not according to rule, something 
which He adds without finding, in Himself or in the phsenomena 
to which He supplies it, a reason for choosing this particular 
kind of completion and no other. In the first case this 
divine help is included from our point of view in the 
enlarged idea of natural order, since we hold that Nature 
never works without the concourse of God ; in the second 
case (which, indeed, is that which common opinion prefers), we 
have to ask, What is the worth of the advantage which is 
to be secured by such a view, and which is advocated with 
jealous preference ? Shall we regard God as greater, if we 
believe that He governs the world by a series of disconnected 
commands ? or Nature as more exalted, if we believe that, as 
a whole, it is at all times — or even only occasionally — inade- 
quate to produce the phsenomena of the next moment ? 
Whence comes it that the other form of divine activity (that 
of the steady development from within of a pre-existing 
germ) alway,? has to fight for acceptance in our minds with 
a preference for uncertain repeated interpositions of divine 
activity coming from without? 

As a matter of fact, it is the ascription of this very 
consistency to the divine activity which is repugnant to a 
secret craving of our souls. To make all subsequent resolves 
only the necessary results of one primal resolve, and all 
subsequent activity only the inevitable result of an original 
creative volition, involves a denial of freedom of action 
which seems to us incompatible with the idea of a living 
personal God. Our view threatens irresistibly to issue in a 
superstition which regards the world as being merely the 
unintentional necessary development of a spontaneously 
expanding primal being, to which, at the same time, all 
history seems meaningless, since that which had once been 
included in this being at the beginning, as something which 
must necessarily follow, could have nothing essential to gain 
in the course of events in which it should undergo a special 
process of production. The capacity of doing what without 


6uch doing would never have happened, of preventing what 
without such prevention would inevitably have occurred, the 
possibility of gaining in insight and in range of will, and 
of ceasing to desire that which had previously been desired, 
and finally the consciousness of a capacity of independent 
determination, not only as regards the future form of the 
external world with which our action is concerned, but even 
as regards the consistency of our own nature — all this it is 
that we seek in a living personality, that we think we find 
in ourselves, and that we miss in a representation of divine 
action which exhibits it as always bound by its own special 
law. To secure these treasures of freedom and vital action 
for God as well as for ourselves, we have recourse to modes 
of representation that labour under obscurities and contra- 
dictions of which we are not ignorant. This is why we 
prefer the thought of an uncertain and disconnected divine 
activity; for truly to us finite beings it seems as though 
our freedom were most clearly certified by the inconsequence 
with which we can alter and break off the course of our 
development. This is why we do not even shun the danger 
of degrading divine activity to the external elaboration of 
a material world existing from eternity ; for we even fancy 
that we have a fresh proof of our freedom and capacity of 
arbitrary choice in the opposition which the inherent activities 
of the external world offer to our exertions. This is why 
we so often renew the attempt to reduce as far as possible 
(since we cannot altogether deny) the sphere of development 
according to natural laws, and to draw a sharp boundary 
line between Nature as the realTn, of necessity, and History as 
the realm of freedom. 

In both there lies before us a succession of chansincj 
events. But as far as Nature is concerned we should be 
quite satisfied if it were only a collection of occurrences 
which without being connected in systematic and progressive 
development were merely confirmatory and concrete ex- 
amples of the steady validity of certain universal laws. It 
is only in the mental development of the human race that 



we feel a primary neefl of comprehending the series of events 
as a history of which the end is more worthy than the 
beginnin<:;f, and the whole of which would be worthless if it 
were merely a repetition, in time and destitute of freedom, of 
that which already existed — not subject to temporal limita- 
tions and prefigured in full completeness — in its causes. All 
the lavish passion of longing and remorse, love and hatred, with 
which history is filled, we are unwilling to regard as wasted ; 
and it would be wasted — ^yes, and the very existence of 
mental life would seem to us an incomprehensible anomaly — 
in a cosmos in which there was nothing to change, and which, 
undisturbed by all this struggle of souls, was entirely taken 
up by the leisurely development of already existing conditions. 
And now having reserved for the history of this spiritual 
life that freedom which it seems to need, we once more 
extend our demands beyond our requirements ; we will not 
cede to the sway of that detested natural necessity even our 
physical existence or our origin. We would much rather 
owe them to the fiat. Let us make man in our image. Even 
in such a representation the creative activity of God seems 
to us more near and intelligible, more full of life and warmth, 
and our own existence seems to have a nobler and happier 
origin than if we believe that we, like the rest of Nature, 
have been produced by an unresting coherent development. 

Now this distinction between Nature and ffistory certainly 
points to real mental needs, the satisfaction of which we 
shall consider later. But we can agree to the separation 
of these two departments without acknowledging the false 
boundary line, which, needlessly and contrary to experience, 
marks off the origin of mankind as not belonging to the 
sphere of natural development. According to the present 
course of man's life, experience shows us that wherever it 
is connected with the external order of Nature, it is wholly 
subordinated to the rules of this order. Eaces of men arise 
and pass away according to the same laws, and after the 
same fashion, as races of animals; the external powers of 
Nature are not more forbearing towards the pre-eminent 


creature endowed with a rational mind, than they are towards 
the irrational animal ; their destructive influences affect the 
life that is historically significant with the same impartial 
indifference with which they dissolve combinations of lifeless 
matter; finally, nowhere does Nature quit, for the gratifi- 
cation of rational minds, the paths of her accustomed activity, 
rejoicing our hearts with the wonders of a Golden Age in 
which everything happens for our satisfaction, instead of 
merely that event happening which is the inevitable result 
of previous causes ; there is no way of bringing about trans- 
formations of the external world corresponding to our inner 
life, except by our activity availing itself of natural means 
in obedience to the laws of Nature. Thus we, being in 
our life, our sufferings, our achievements, altogether holden 
by the power of natural necessity, should gain but little by 
rescuing the origin of our species from the grasp of this 
necessity. The freedom of such a distant past could be no 
compensation for present constraint. 

And just as little do we feel that our claims to freedom are 
necessarily demolished if we give up this attempt. For we 
originally desired this freedom only for our inner life, and. 
indeed only for a small part of that. This spiritual life, 
receiving stimulation from Nature, and limited in its reaction 
to natural means, is not itself directly included in the order 
of Nature. Between this stimulation and these reactions is 
interposed, as a department sui generis, the internal elaboration 
of the received impressions. There may take place here 
innumerable occurrences which are more than the steady 
continuation of effects initiated in us by the external world ; 
there may take place innumerable connections of received 
stimulations, in accordance with points of view which alto- 
gether transcend Nature, resulting in the production of 
impulses to reaction to which mere natural order would never 
have led without this complementary interposition of mental 
life. However highly one may rate this free action of mental 
power in human nature, it wiU always receive due estimation 
as long as it is limited to the world of thoughts ; but only in 


subordination to certain laws will the cosmic order admit of 
its efficient access to external Nature. And however specially 
we may imagine the history of mankind to be guided from 
the loftier standpoint of divine wisdom, from a higher plane 
than natural evolution, we may be quite satisfied if this 
guidance takes place through action and reaction between God 
and the spiritual nature of man, in such a way that the thoughts, 
feelings, and efforts thus aroused and developed, also alter the 
external position of mankind, to the same limited extent to 
which our action is able to change the physical conditions of 
our existence. Thus within the realm of Nature with its 
uninterrupted coherence, there is certainly a possibility of 
history, and we are neither justified in maintaining nor bound 
to deny, without proof, that to this history freedom appertains; 
but the external destinies of our race only belong to history 
in as far as they depend upon our own actions. 

§ 4. After these remarks we may return to the two questions 
which we mentioned above. We can now answer the question 
which refers to the general process to wliich we trace back 
the origin of living creatures in general, including the human 
race. This occurrence also we unhesitatingly conceive as 
a necessary result, which at a definite period of the earth's 
formation arose from the then existing collocation and recipro- 
cal action of matter, with the same inherent necessity which 
now connects the continued existence and the reproduction 
of living creatures with the present distribution of material 
masses and their relations to one another. The course of 
Nature, indeed, from which we believe that living creatures 
have sprung, is iu our view something richer and fuller than 
that small fraction of it which is known to science ; so far, 
such a course of Nature is not confined to working upon life- 
less matter, but presupposes inherent activity in its elements, 
and it will perhaps be the glory of the future to define the 
special characteristics of this activity, and to determine the 
laws of its influence upon the external operations of things. 
Moreover, we do not maintain that all which the elements can 
accomplish is to be measured by the narrow possibilities still 


left open by the rigidity which the most essential natural 
relations have now attained. In earlier stages of cosmic 
development, when (everything being yet in process of forma- 
tion) there was both greater celerity of change and also a 
prevalence of modes of connection which did not afterwards 
recur, it may perhaps have been the case that the elements 
produced effects different in nature and magnitude from those 
to which the present course of Nature gives rise, limited as 
this is to the maintenance of uniform conditions. However, 
we do not by any means mention these fluctuating and never 
definitely circumscribed representations in order to embellish 
our own view in the eyes of our opponents, but rather for the 
sake of pointing out that none of them can mitigate the rigour 
which causes so much alarm. For if there is one thing that 
we shall always hold fast by, it is that even these creative 
habits of the primal course of Nature were events governed by 
law, and proceeded from an activity that in its own course 
laid fresh foundations, by means of the productions of its early 
periods, for the more intense and complex activity of later 
periods. Nature works from the beginning according to laws 
which either (1) are unalterable, or (2) themselves alter 
regularly, as the conditions alter which have arisen under 
their sway, and are therefore to be regarded as regular and 
ordered functions of their own results. 

On the other hand, it is altogether impossible to answer 
the particular questions prompted by curiosity concerning the 
circumstantial course of events from which there gradually 
arose the structure of organic beings and of man himself. A 
view which does not attribute this occurrence to supernatural 
and therefore in itself indescribable influence, but makes it 
dependent on the concatenation of innumerable details, will 
inevitably lay itself open to the reproach of rash and arbitrary 
invention if it attempt to enumerate all these details, for the 
real determination of which our own range of experience is 
very far from furnishing adequate analogies. This fate has 
overtaken all attempts to exhibit the gradual evolution of the 
higher forms of living creatures from the lower, and the origin 


of these from the immediate action and reaction of the 
elements. But there are two considerations which we desire 
not to withhold from the notice of those who would found 
an objection against the general conclusions of natural science 
upon its incapacity to exliibit the details of these conclusions. 
In the first place we may, without much difficulty, convince 
ourselves that this difficulty in describing first beginnings is a 
misfortune by no means peculiar to our theory, but is one 
which it has in common with all others. It certainly sounds 
passing strange when a daring investigator of Nature 
describes the protoplasmic cell, which, having been formed in 
the ocean and slowly borne to land, is there developed into a 
quadruped or a man ; but the poverty of this attempt lies 
rather in the total ineffectiveness with which it addresses 
itself to the insoluble problem, than in the fact that different 
assumptions might lead to a better conclusion. Hence it 
seems a matter of indifference whether we attribute the origin 
of animate life to the natural action and reaction of the 
elements or to a peculiar vital force ; any representations 
which we can frame of the gradual concrete progress of its 
formation will be just as strange and untrustworthy in the one 
case as in the other. If, according to the first view, the 
elements combine spontaneously to form a protoplasmic cell, 
or a germ, which then goes on to further stages of develop- 
ment, according to the second view the vital force is just as 
shy of revealing its mode of operation. For naturally we 
shall not believe that this vital force forms the finished 
creature with all its parts in an instant from the elements* 
and if we seek to show how it works by a progression from 
the simpler to the more complex, the cell or the germ (from 
which in this case too we have to set out) seems no better 
endowed and no more probable than the cell and germ which 
in the previous case we derided. The Mosaic account of the 
creation employs two different representations of the way in 
which things arose. First God says, Ld the earth bring 
forth all manner of herbs. "Would the results of the com- 
mand to produce plants, thus communicated to the forces of 



the soil, have differed in appearance from the conception of 
natural science, according to which the separate elements of the 
soil first developed into germs, and these again into plants ? 
The attempt to work out this idea in detail is as hopeless 
as all others of a similar kind. Man, on the contrary, is 
formed by God's own hand ; but we do not need to repeat how 
unsatisfactory is a comparison taken thus directly from labour 
of the most ordinary kind. It therefore appears that all these 
modes of thought are involved in equal difficulties when they 
attempt to give sensible representations, that shall be credible 
and probable, of processes which are separated by a gaping 
chasm from the sphere of our own experience. 

The other point that I wished to notice is, that we are 
accustomed to estimate one and the same idea very differently 
when it comes before us as a conjecture, and when it is offered 
as the expression of a fact. What a succession of minute and 
interdependent events is presented by the intricate processes 
of formation, fructification, and development in the seed of a 
plant ! How complex, and in many of its features unin- 
telligible to us, is the development of animals by division 
and coalescence, segregation, and aggregation, and various 
changes of an apparently supplementary character in the 
relative position of parts — some of which seem to waste away 
after having rendered their mysterious service during a definite 
period of development ! Now if any one, unsupported by 
the testimony of the microscope, should have conjecturally 
described the multiplicity of arrangements which that instru- 
ment actually reveals, how those who consider animate life to 
be only comprehensible as resulting from the misty and magic 
sway of a single impulse, would have found fault with him 
for advocating a mode of thought at once rash, tedious, and 
intellectually poverty-stricken ! The fact of alternate genera- 
tion among the lower animals having been established by 
observation, scientific speculation finds it by no means diffi- 
cult to discover retrospectively ingenious theoretic grounds of 
interpretation, whereas beforehand any conjecture that such 
variation might occur, would have been rejected as an impossi- 


bility, contradictory of the idea of sex, and of the whole 
economy of natural history. Whether the original production 
of animals and plants by the conjuuction of inorganic elements 
will ever be proved as a fact which still takes place, we do 
not know ; but if a day should ever come when it is proved, 
then people will suddenly remember that it was a thing 
always possible in the very nature of it, and that it never 
involved the absurdity that people see in it as long as it is 
only a scientific conjecture that is inconvenient to various 
prejudices. Let us therefore trust our question to the future ; 
let us leave science to make further investigations ; if it should 
ever succeed in drawing a more definite picture of the origin 
of animate life, people will accept with equanimity realities 
coinciding wholly in essentials with processes which, now that 
they can only present themselves as possibilities, are peevishly 
rejected as wretched inventions of a low and unworthy mode 
of thought. 

Such being our views, we regard as useless any further 
lingering in these outer courts of history, in which science 
can discover merely shadowy outlines and no clearly defined 
forms. We will not follow the astronomical investigations 
which seek to discover how the world was formed, and to 
decide whether the distribution and movements of the heavenly 
bodies make it probable that there is a common centre of 
this universal frame, or whether it is more likely that many 
stellar systems, each independent in itself, circle round a 
merely ideal centre of gravity by the force of reciprocal 
attraction. As much as is certain in these considerations 
only confirms what we knew otherwise, namely, that it is 
upon a small eccentric spot, lost as it were in the immensity 
of the whole, that this human life is developed, with all its 
passion and lofty aims — a brief and serious monition which 
points out to us an abyss of unknown possibilities, and warns 
us that we should not take it for granted that earthly history 
is equivalent to that of the universe. 

Neither will we enter into geological investigations, and 
immerse ourselves in a consideration of the different periods 



of the earth's formation, and in discussions as to how the 
gradually altered condition of the atmosphere and of the solid 
surface of the earth, furnished at different stages the conditions 
of the production and maintenance of various successive organic 
creations. The magic spell which descriptions of this vast and 
obscure past always exercise upon our mind, would give to my 
colourless picture a charm which I find it hard to renounce. 
But these investigations proceed upon many uncertain assump- 
tions and are laden with sources of error; and they are 
therefore specially unsuited for the confirmation of definite 
results at the present moment, when many noteworthy 
discoveries have wakened attention without having caused 
any decided clearing up of difficulties. Yet it seems that 
man is one of the most modern denizens of the earth; 
indubitable remains of our species have not been found deeper 
than the later alluvial strata, which are still being slowly and 
steadily increased in low-lying levels by progressive deposition 
of the matter of abraded rocks which is carried down by the 
current of swift streams. Therefore it seems that man was 
not produced before a time in which existing climatic dis- 
tinctions prevailed, and the vegetable and animal kingdoms 
had developed in all essentials the forms which we now see 
around us. We must leave it for the future to prove whether 
this limitation can be removed and a much longer vista be 
opened before us, in which there may perchance be hidden 
many beginnings of races of men dijBfering widely from one 
another. Without at present declaring for this view as the 
more probable, we may yet feel that we ought to be prepared 
to accept both it and the altered position which the small 
section of historical development at present known to us would 
occupy in such an enlarged life of humanity — a life which to 
our imagination would be almost boundless. 

And, finally, we should not lay too much weight on pre- 
sentiments as to the future to which we may be tempted by 
that insight into the connection between the different forces 
of Nature which has now been attained. Whether reciprocal 
transformations of energy or a consistent consolidation of all 


particular results of the course of Nature, will gradually pro- 
duce a permanent preponderance of such conditions and 
modes of motion in matter as are incompatible with the 
continued duration of animate life, or to what other fate this 
earthly sphere is destined — these are points concerning which 
we can no more look for certain information than we can 
regarding the very first beginnings. Let us therefore bid 
adieu to these insoluble riddles, and turn from the external 
history of the human race to that inner history of humanity 
which, with its manifold changes, is included in the slower 
progress of external Nature. 



What is History?— History as the Education of Humanity— History as the 
Development of the Idea of Humanity— Conditions necessary to make sucli 
a Development valuable — Concerning Reverence for Forms instead of for 
Content — History as a Divine Poem— Denial of any Worth in Historical 
Development— Condition of the Unity of Humanity and of the Worth of 
its History. 

S 1. IVTOW what is the significance of this inner mental 


history of the human race ? What are the laws 
of its course, or the plan which connects into intelligible 
unity the varied wealth of its phgenomena ? Our age boasts 
as its prerogative that it knows an answer to this question ; 
but however dangerous it may be to rebel against modes of 
thought to which vigorous and brilliant intellectual essays have 
accustomed us, we must still confess that in regard to history 
there is no lack of the most contradictory opinions, each of 
which disputes even the elementary assumptions of the others. 
I will not linger over the cool assertion that everything has 
happened already and that there is nothing new under the 
sun ; but remark that in opposition to the willingly accepted 
doctrine that the progress of humanity is ever onwards and 
upwards, more cautious reflection has been forced to make the 
discovery that the course of history is in spirals ; some prefer 
to say epicycloids ; in short, there have never been wanting 
thoughtful but veiled acknowledgments, that the impression 
produced by history on the whole, so far from being one of 
unmixed exultation, is preponderantly melancholy. Un- 
prejudiced consideration will always lament and wonder to 
see how many advantages of civilisation and special charms 
of life are lost, never to reappear in their integrity, when 
any form of culture is broken up. Subsequent ages may com- 



pensate the loss by other and indeed by higher advantages ; 
but this does not alter the fact that the earlier ones have 
passed away never to return ; that which past times have 
toiled for and won can never be inwoven with the work of 
subsequent ages with the completeness necessary for continuous 
and steady progress, but nearly everywhere the new life arises 
out of the ruins of the old at the cost of painful sacrifices. 
This melancholy impression received from history as a whole 
is not much mitigated by well-meant reference to the fact 
that in individual life too the bloom of youth must be 
sacrificed to the strength of manhood, and this again to the 
wisdom of old age, and that it is only the most favoured lands 
that are permitted to see fruit and blossom and bud simul- 
taneously on the same plant. Do not all these comparisons 
only increase the grounds of our complaint ? If, however, 
they comfort any one, is not the comfort they bring derived 
from the thought that human history is itself only a natural 
process to which we must accommodate ourselves, and about 
the right and end of which it is of no use to ask ? But 
for him who clings to the belief in a guidance which is ^ 
ordering this confusion of human destinies to some higher 
good — how is Jie to interpret the spectacle which history 
presents ? 

§ 2. That history is the education of humanity, is the first /fj 
phrase with which we provisionally pacify ourselves. And 
indeed unfathomable designs of educative wisdom must ever 
be a fruitful source from which to derive all the astonishing 
turnings and twistings of the course of history. But if we 
are not wholly satisfied with this general consolation which 
would allay our doubt with the bare assurance that a solution 
exists, if we seek to trace at any rate in the great outlines of 
history that educative plan, how many hindrances do we 
meet ! We know sometimes what has happened, and can see 
how it led necessarily to the subsequent condition of things ; 
we may often be certain of the greater perfection of what is 
later in time, and even a dull mind may often perceive some 
arrangement by which the new condition of things will draw 




advantage from the old ; but who can calculate with certainty 
what would have happened if particular circumstances had 
been different, or can say what possible greater good may- 
have been missed by the actual course of events leading to 
something that was less good ? 

I wish, however, to speak, not of the difficulties of carrying 
out this view fully — such difficulties being in fact very great 
for every view — but of the doubts which are raised by the 
application of this idea of education to mankind. Education 
is only intelligible to us when a single individual is concerned ; 
when it is one and the same person who becomes better, who 
bears the penalty of his mistakes and enjoys the fruit of his 
repentance ; and who, if in the progress of development he has 
to sacrifice some good which he possessed, may yet keep the 
memory of it as something which he has himself enjoyed. 
It is not so clear how we are to imagine one course of 
education as applying to successive generations of men, 
allowing the later of these to partake of the fruits produced 
by the unrewarded efforts and often by the misery of those 
who went before. To hold that the claims of particular times 
and individual men may be despised and all their misfortunes 
disregarded if only mankind improve upon the whole, is, 
though suggested by noble feelings, merely enthusiastic thought- 
lessness. The humanity which is capable of progress can never 
be anything other than the sum of living individual men, and 
for them nothing is progress which does not mean an increase 
of happiness and perfection for those very souls which had 
suffered in a previous imperfect state. But the humanity 
which is opposed to individual men is nothing but the general 
concept of humanity ; this concept, however, which can neither 
suffer nor experience anything, nor undergo any evolution, is 
not the subject of history. Only individual specimens of 
humanity, humanity of different periods, can, when com- 
pared together, show a steady progress towards perfection ; 
but the earlier know nothing of those which succeed them, 
and the later know little of the earlier. What then is it that 
justifies us in regarding these disconnected members as one 


humanity, and what is the meaning of an education which 
does not do just that which is the very business of education — 
which does not attempt to replace what is more imperfect by 
what is more perfect in the same pupil, but throws aside the 
half-educated scholar in order to bring forth better results of 
culture in another ? 

And the same difficulty at once recurs if we look not at 
the succession of ages, but at each particular age itself. There 
has never been a period of history in which the culture 
peculiar to it has leavened the whole of humanity, or even 
the whole of that one nation which was specially distinguished 
by it. All degrees and shades of moral barbarism, of mental 
obtuseness, and of physical wretchedness have ever been 
found in juxtaposition with cultured refinement of life, clear 
consciousness of the ends of human existence, and free par- 
ticipation in the benefits of civil order. Humanity, at the 
different moments of its historical progress, is never like a 
clear and even current, of which all the molecules move with 
equal swiftness ; it is rather like a mass of which the greater 
part moving on thick and slow is very soon checked by any 
little hindrance in its course and settles into inactivity ; there 
is never more than a slender stream which, glancing in the 
sunlight, struggles on through the midst of the sluggish mass 
with unquenchable life and energy. It is true that sometimes 
this stream widens out, and then occur those favoured periods 
in which, at least for us who stand afar off, a general 
enthusiasm of culture seems to seize a whole nation. That 
it dues not indeed really extend to all, even we who live later 
can see ; that it does not exclude very dark shadows of 
sluggishness, of debasement, and of misery we should observe 
more clearly if we stood nearer. 

Now nothing is simpler than to give an explanation of this 
if we regard history as merely a course of events arising from 
the concurrent action of external circumstances and the laws 
of mental life. A culture which does not merely mean 
natural goodness of disposition, but includes also knowledge 
of things, estimation of the tasks and circumstances of human 


life, and consciousness of the connection between the individual 
and society and between society and the universe, is not 
conceivable apart from the most varied influences of education 
and of continued intercourse with one's fellows ; but the 
hindrances which have their origin in the external circum- 
stances of existence, and which always stand in the way of a 
general prevalence of such favourable conditions, are unfortu- 
nately too obvious to need further mention. Thus the existence 
of a vast spiritual proletariat, which there seems no possibility 
of removing, is an objection which the idea of history as the 
education of mankind must find it hard to overcome. Human 
action must be content to attain its end only in part ; but it 
is not enough that the divine guidance of history should 
accomplish its aims only on the whole or in the majority of 
cases. Conditions of mankind which, independent on indi- 
vidual freedom, follow with inexorable necessity from external 
conditions, should be susceptible of interpretation as instances 
not of the failure of this guidance, but of ends intentionally 
aimed at by it. And in fact such an interpretation has not 
been wanting. As different trees, it is said, have different 
bark, and each, whatever its rind, grows green and blossoms 
in content, so mental endowment and external good fortune, 
and with them the degree of culture attainable for men, 
are variously distributed; there is progress enough if, not- 
withstanding all these irremovable differences, mankind as 
a whole wins higher standpoints ; enough even, if while the 
mass of mankind remain ever in an uncivilised condition 
the civilisation of a small minority is ever struggling upwards 
to greater and greater heights. In answer to such a view 
what can we say except that it sets forth a condition of 
things which, alas ! we cannot question, but that it neither 
offers any explanation which makes this condition more 
intelligible or more endurable, nor shows us how, upon such 
assumptions, we can be entitled to speak of an education of 

Let us, however, for the present reckon as among the many 
puzzles "which we cannot solve, this inequality in the endow- 


ment and good fortune of men, and content ourselves with 
the progress of the few. But however great this progress 
may be, we would, finally, ask of this view which we are 
calling in question, why precisely it was necessary that there 
should be an education of mankind resulting in progress, 
and why an end should have been set before us which could 
only be reached along the tedious path of historical develop- 
ment ? And it will not satisfy us to point out that the slow 
course of gradual improvement was the only possible way left 
open by the nature of mankind and the constitution of the 
external conditions of life. The divine power, which is 
supposed to direct this education, created the world, and man, 
and all the conditions of his life ; it was open to it to 
order them all according as it would. If, then, it chose to 
educate mankind by way of history, it did not so choose 
because hindered by the disfavour of circumstances from 
endowing us with perfection in the beginning, but because it 
willed that history should be, and willed to bestow upon us, 
in gradual development, a greater good than that would have 
been which it withheld. 

This inquiry has indeed been so often and so unanimously 
answered that we shall perhaps give offence by approaching 
with such circumlocution and delay a philosophical question 
the reply to which seems thus certain. Man, we are told, 
must become in knowledge that which he is in fact; it 
is not enough that he should be and remain in unreflecting 
simplicity that to which by his mental constitution he is 
destined, but he must realize it gradually and consciously as 
his own work. The dignity of man lies in this, that he 
does not (like the lower animals) with unconscious impulse 
work out ends towards which uncomprehended motives 
and favouring external circumstances mysteriously concur, 
but that doubting, erring, and improving, he learns to know 
his destiny, his duties, and his powers. 

A survey of our own individual life will certainly easily 
convince us that such development from unreflective exist- 
ence to explicit self-consciousness is a mental gain of a 


unique kind ; but can we in truth transfer to the whde of 
humanity the value which we see that it has for the indi- 
vidual, and is there not in such a transference an inexactness 
similar to that which made the notion of education inapplic- 
able to a succession of different individuals taken en masse ? 
For can this inner work of development (in the comprehensive 
and self-conscious remembrance of which the moral enjoyment 
of life consists) be carried out vicariously by one individual 
for another, or by one generation for another? Or does 
history perchance exhibit such a steadiness of connection that 
the minds of later times pass at least in outline through 
the same evolutional struggles by which their ancestors weie 
stirred ? 

It seems to us that nothing of all this happens. In the 
first place, each individual enters into life without any con- 
scious connection with the past, but with those natural 
capacities, wants, and passions of his species which are little 
changed in the course of history ; and which, in as far as they 
are changed, are yet for him who is born with them just as 
much an unmerited and unconsciously received endowment 
of Nature as the dispositions of our forefathers were for 
them. Thus furnished each goes through the experience of 
his life, each passes through his own evolutionary struggles, 
and all these also are essentially similar. The influence of 
history first begins when the individual encounters the results 
of the labours of his immediate predecessors in the conditions 
into which he finds himself born, to which he has to grow 
accustomed, and which he has to use and to combat. 
Without doubt the form of development which the indi- 
vidual passes through is modified in the course of history ; 
but it is not by any means modified in such a way that every 
one who comes later has a view of the course of human 
development which is fuller and more conscious in proportion 
as the time is longer during which past ages have been 
endeavouring to struggle upwards through individual stages 
of evolution. For by this spiritual labour, which wins 
positions from which it can itself make a fresh start, con- 


scions knowledge is propagated either not at all or most 
imperfectly ; what happens is that its finished results enter 
as a great aggregate of prepossessions, of which the foundation 
is forgotten, into the culture of him who comes after. They 
may in this way often make it possible for him to mount 
higher than those who preceded him; but nearly as often 
they are, as inherited limitations of his intellectual horizon, 
hindrances in the way of a development which would have 
been possible for him if this historical dependence had not 
existed. But in both cases the way in which the culture of 
past times is for the most part handed down, leads directly 
back to the very opposite of that at which historical develop- 
ment should aim ; it leads, that is, to the formation of an 
instinct of culture, which continually takes up more and more A 
of the elements of civilisation, thus making them a lifeless 
possession, and withdrawing them from the sphere of that 
conscious activity by the eSbrts of which they were at first 
obtained. No fortune, it is said, is transmitted undiminished V^ 

to the third generation ; and this is very natural ; for the 
first inheritor is born and brought up in the presence of the 
activity by which the fortune was accumulated, and if the 
desire to increase it leaves him, the desire to preserve it 
generally remains ; the second inheritor born in full possession 
of the wealth knows nothing of the worth of the labour which 
created it ; thus the third has to begin the same cycle afresh. . • 
The same thing happens with the store of culture which 
history accumulates. It is true indeed that the results of 
the latter cannot be so easily dissipated, as on the other hand 
they cannot be so completely transmitted ; but the elevating 
freshness and joyousness, full of prophetic insight, that dis- 
tinguish an age of invention and discovery, are not trans- 
mitted to the ages which are its heirs. Scientific truths, 
hardly-won principles of social morality, revelations of 
religious enthusiasm and artistic intuition, are all subject 
to this devitalization ; the greater the amount of this wealth 
which is transmitted to later generations the less is it a living 
possession, even when outwardly recognised and retained, 


which it not always is. That which once, when it first arose 
upon the intellectual horizon of the past, was in truth a 
living enlargement of the soul, and a perception, full of mean- 
ing, of some new aspect of human destiny, is, in the hands of 
later generations, like a worn coin which one takes at its 
nominal value, but without knowing what are its image and 

In no department is the progress of mankind more un- 
questionable than in that of science, although even here it 
has not been continuous, interruptions caused by long periods 
of barbarism having often made necessary the rediscovery of 
forgotten truths. But first of all we may note that this 
progress has brought about the strange result that the whole 
field of knowledge has become too vast to be within the grasp 
even of those who are expressly occupied with its cultivation 
How odd and yet laow accordant with fact it is to speak of 
" the lofty position of science now-a-days." What is science ? 
Not truth itself, for this existed always, and did not need to 
be produced by human effort. So that science means simply 
knowledge of the truth ; but this knowledge has become so 
vast that it can no longer be comprehended in the knowledge 
possessed by any individual Such is the strange life of 
science now-a-days ; it exists, but for any individual it means 
only the possibility of investigating and learning to know 
each of its parts ; in no mind does it exist in completeness, 
approximately in but a few, and hardly at all in the mass of 
mankind. We see that now, as in all former ages which 
were in possession of extensive and varied scientific know- 
ledge, individual men take up particular branches, and on 
those small battlefields fight out the most passionate com- 
bats, combats which sometimes seem to jeopardize all that 
has been gained by human culture. The progress of science 
is not therefore, directly, human progress ; it would be this 
if in proportion to the increase of accumulated truths there 
were also an increase of men's interest in them, of their 
knowledge of them, and of the clearness of their insight con- 
cerning them. Without denying that some periods of history 


liave to a certain extent fulfilled these requirements, we can 
hardly say that, looking at history as a whole, it exhibits a 
steady improvement in this respect. 

But it will be objected that the progress of mankmd 
towards perfection is to be sought not only in the advance 
of conscious knowledge, but also in the beneficent effects 
upon men's condition which science leaves behind even when 
it has itself passed out of consciousness. These effects have 
been eloquently described, and we willingly admit that even 
in the more tangible deposit of material improvements which 
everyday life owes to advancing knowledge, there is, besides 
the mere convenience and the increase of comfort, also a 
certain mental gain and a certain civilising power ; the mere 
presence of refined surroundings may have a modifying and 
elevating influence upon those vague general moods which 
make as it were the background of all our endeavours. But 
while we do not deny the value of this progress, neither 
would we overestimate it. Custom soon diminishes it. A 
new discovery excites lively interest for a time, but it soon 
falls back into the rank of those natural objects and events 
by which we are always surrounded, the mysteriousness of 
which no longer has any exciting effect upon us, owing to the 
lack of novelty. At the most now and then in a moment 
of passing absorption in a thing, we think. After all how 
striking this or that discovery is — or. How it has helped on 
human intelligence. But most commonly it happens that 
men thoughtlessly enjoy the fruits of inventions with a certain 
coarse unthankfulness, without a gleam of interest or curiosity 
with regard to the mental labour which produced them, and 
as though it were a matter of course that their poor life 
should be adorned by such uncomprehended blessings. 
Hence we are justified in affirming in conclusion, that 
however great human progress may be, yet at all times 
men are but very imperfectly conscious of this onward 
movement, of the point in the path of advance at which 
they may happen to be at any moment, and of the direction 
whence they came and whither they are going. If it is 


their destiny to become conscious of that for which they 
are designed, it may indeed be that they attain such a con- 
sciousness, but they attain it without themselves noticing or 
feeling its gradual awakening; it cannot be said that men 
grow to what they are with a consciousness of this growth, 
and with an accompanying remembrance of their previous 
condition. Therefore the notion of education, when trans- 
ferred from the individual (with reference to whom it is in- 
telligible) to mankind as a whole, solves none of those doubts 
which the consideration of history awakens in us. 

8 3. Will they be any better solved by another theory, the 
favourite of the immediate past, which has long been im- 
patiently awaiting our consideration ? According to this 
theory the education of mankind is an antiquated and un- 
suitable phrase, although what it is intended to express is the 
truth. This phrase gives the idea that God arbitrarily sets 
before men ends which He might have refrained from setting 
before them, and leads them in paths for which others might 
have been substituted. Hence the education theory involves 
us in the misery of attempting to show the significance and 
importance of a series of events which yet as products of 
arbitrary will must remain inscrutable to reason, which can 
comprehend only necessary consequence. Whereas, in fact, 
the history of mankind (like all genuine evolution) is but the 
realization of its own concept. All true existence, it is said, 
manifests itself by emerging, as life, from that condition 
of natural determination in which it originally is, unfolding 
itself in a wealth of change and varied manifestation; and 
finally returning as it were to itself deepened and enriched, 
and enlightened concerning its own nature by the work of 
development which it has passed through, and the fruits of 
which it retains. It is by this law that mankind are stirred 
and impelled to historical development. As the self-develop- 
ment of the human mind, and as the very destiny and inner 
necessity thereof, history can neither be a course to which we 
are impelled by the arbitrary choice of an overruling purpose, 
nor one to which we are impelled by the unintelligent activity 



of external facts. But it becomes intelligible by reference to 
the idea of humanity ; not only does this contain the ground 
of temporal succession in general, but we may deduce from it, 
for each and all of the stages of historical development, the 
strict and complete formula which constitutes the explanatory 
principle of all the peculiar features of these stages ; finally, 
this law teaches us to understand not only that progress which 
is the rule, but also the strange retrogressions and eddies by 
which the continuity of this progress seems to be interrupted. 

35ut in our opinion this last-mentioned service is not 
rendered by the view now under discussion ; the fact rather 
is, that the way in which it admits incalculable chance and 
arbitrary will in history alongside of the strict development 
of the idea of humanity, is that which first gives us occasion 
to test the validity of its confident assertions. 

With regard to all phsenomena we feel that we have a 
twofold task — we have to explain step by step the possibility 
and mode of their occurrence, and we have to unravel the 
rational signification which is the justification of their exist- 
ence and of all the assumptions which they presuppose. The 
philosophical view which gives rise to the above-mentioned 
conception of history, does not conceal its conviction that the 
Meaning or the Idea, to the realization of which every chain 
of events and every creature is destined, constitutes its real 
being, and that to search out this innermost fount of life is 
the supreme task of all (even of historical) investigation. 
But it cannot at the same time conceal — however willing it 
may be to do so — that it lacks a definite notion of the relation 
of the Idea to the practical means of its own realization. It 
must allow that all which happens in history is only brought 
to pass by the thoughts, feelings, passions, and efforts of in- 
dividuals, and that the ends towards which all these powers 
with their living activities are striving, do not by any means 
necessarily coincide with those towards which the develop- 
ment of the universal Idea tends. And the only addition 
which in the last resort it can make to this confession is 
that the Idea does yet prevail — nay, does on the whole ex- 


clusively prevail — notwithstanding, and in, and with, and 
among all these confused, conflicting, and discordant struggles, 
whose powerlessness easily leads to contempt for that which 
thus cannot be turned to account. Hence this view has in fact 
often enough declared that individual living minds really 
count for nothing in history, that they are but as sound and 

, smoke, that their efforts, in as far as they do not fall in with 
the evolution of the Idea, have no worth and significance in 
themselves, and that their happiness and peace are not among 
the ends of historical development. The course of history is 
as the great and awful and tragic altar on which all individual 
life and joy is sacrificed to the development of the universal 

( Idea of humanity. And it is just here that we find the expres- 
sion of the essential difference which distinguishes this view 
from the preceding one, with which in other respects it has so 
much in common. He who speaks of education naturally means 
the education not of a concept, but of some living thing which 
is only marked out and named by the concept, and which alone 
could be capable of rejoicing in its own development. This 
interest in an attainable good which history is to realize, and in 
a realm of living creatures who can enjoy the happiness of this 
realization, we must, if we have not got rid of it already, learn to 
sacrifice to our veneration for the Ideal-development theory. 

I How much wc have it at heart to oppose this theory will 

' be readily understood. Above all, we must note that only 
C^ he who would reverence history as an enigma without seek- 
ing for its solution, can be satisfied with the mysterious con- 
cord between what is required by the evolution of the 
Idea, and the results of individual efforts which are in- 
dependent of it. On the other hand, he who looks for a 
solution may take either of two courses ; whichever of 
these he may choose, he is bound to begin by stating 
clearly who or what the mind of humanity is of which history 
is the development, and where this mind is to be found. 

The first course begins with the statement that it exists only 
in the countless multiplicity of living men, contemporaneous and 
successive, of whose nature it is the common feature, and that 


it has no independent existence outside of, among, or beside 
them. From an analysis of this general character of humanity 
(for this is what the present view comes to), and at the same 
time of the external conditions presented by the earth as the 
stage of life, we should deduce the consequence that the kind 
and degree of civilisation which would furnish the greatest 
possible amount of development and satisfaction of all human 
capacities would not be attainable in the course of a single 
life, but only in a series of generations of which each would 
start in its course from the stage of development reached by 
that which had preceded it. Then we should bethink us that 
this development would be worthless if it took place with the 
unfailing regularity of a natural process, and that living minds 
were not formed to realize a steady progress determined in 
complete independence of any free choice on the part of the 
agents, even supposing that such a progress were in itself 
desirable. We should expressly point out the unconstrained 
freedom of all the living elements, the action and reaction of 
which does, notwithstanding, form the foundation of a steady 
course of history. Now natural science sometimes shows that 
the irregular minute and conflicting molecular movements of 
a mass not only do not affect the uniform molar movement of 
the whole, but are, for intelligible reasons, incapable of alter- 
ing it. In the same way we should have to show that the 
irregular will of the individual is always restricted in its 
action by universal conditions not subject to arbitrary will — 
conditions which are to be found in the laws of spiritual life 
in general, in the established order of Nature to which this 
life is bound by its immutable wants, and finally, in the 
inevitable action and reaction between the members of a 
soul-endowed community. This problem is not new, nor 
have there been wanting attempts at its solution. Indeed, 
this is the sense in which the calm and practised observer of 
men and things is accustomed to understand history. By the 
nature of men's minds, which is always essentially the same, by 
the sameness of their needs, and by the constant similarity 
v/hich exists between the circumstances of different lives, an 



obstacle is, sooner or later, opposed to the flood-tides of caprice, 
and only those less violent movements can continue which corre- 
spond to these conditions with their gradual changes. In this 
view, then, history is regarded as a development of the concept of 
humanity, not only in -the self-evident sense that nothing can 
happen in the course of history which did not pre-exist as a 
possibility in the general character of the human constitution, 
but also in the sense that in general and on the whole only 
those phases of development are durable and succeed one 
another which correspond to the destiny which is appointed 
for the spirits of men. 

The view which we are combating scorned this course. It 
was unwilling to regard history as merely the result of a 
multiplicity of forces working together ; it preferred to con- 
sider it as proceeding from the unity of a single impelling 
power, pervading the whole course of historical development. 
In that case the mind of humanity, of which history is to 
cohstitute the self-development, must certainly be differently 
defined. It will not help us here to give it the name of 
Infinite, or Absolute, or the Universal World-Spirit, in as far 
as this, being engaged in the more comprehensive work of its 
own development, takes on the form of human existence in 
order to pass through the series of phsenomena which are 
necessary to it at this stage of its course. For if this world- 
spirit is dispersed about in innumerable individual men with- 
out existing complete in any one of them, how can it guide 
the reciprocal action of all these (for their power of free choice 
is not to be denied) in such a comprehensive fashion as to 
bring about a development conformable to its own concept ? 
It would clearly contribute to this result in is far as it is 
present in all individual men as that mental organization 
which is common to them all ; but it would thus only 
confine their development within the bounds of what is 
possible for such a constitution, without positively marking 
out the course and the definite forms of the ilevelopment. 
If more than this is intended, the higher unity oi history can 
only be reached if that one spirit which ought, with deliberate 



forethought, to pervade history and to interpenetrate it with 
the unity of its own aim, is regarded as being in truth an 
actual living spirit, having an existence of its own, among, or 
beside, or beyond, or above individual spirits, and not involved 
in the necessity of their development as being the substance 
which undergoes development, but enthroned above them as 
the power by which they are produced. In other words, this 
second path leads back to the idea of history as a divine 
education of mankind, as on the first path we were led to 
regard it as a natural process in which everything happens 
which logically results from previous circumstances. The 
doctrine of the realization of the Idea in history appears in 
these two distinct modes of thought ; but the adherent of the 
doctrine will doubtless continue to maintain that it presents 
not a confused blending of the two, but their combination in 
a higher speculative unity. 

But in sober truth this view, with its low estimation of 
individual life as compared to the development of the Idea, 
gives us but a stone in the place of bread ; and we must 
consider this point more in detail, since we foresee that very 
many will be honestly inclined to profess the opinion which 
we censure. There are no errors which take such firm hold 
of men's minds as those in which, as in this, inexactness of 
thought Tind lofty feeling combine to produce a condition of 
enthusiastic exaltation. 

Tor clear knowledge it is necessary that to every concept 
we should add in thought all those connections without 
which its meaning would be unintelligible ; but owing to the 
eager haste of thought and speech these connections are very 
commonly passed over unnoticed. In our varied and complex 
civilisation there are many thoughts which seem to have a 
stamp of intellectuality and a certain striking elegance and 
simplicity, because they detach from the soil of common 
experience and transplant as it were into empty space, apart 
from all explanatory surroundings, ideas familiar to us in 
everyday life, where we observe, patiently and minutely, all 
the conditions on which their validity depends. This fate 


has overtaken the idea of phcenomenon or appearance among 
others. It is plain that in order to be intelligible this idea 
must presuppose not only a being or thing which appears, but 
also, and quite as indispensably, a second being by whom this 
appearance is perceived. This second being may be called 
the necessary place of the appearance, for nowhere except in 
it does the appearance take place, being never anything else 
than the image which the perceiving being, in accordance with 
its own nature, draws for itself, of that other by which it is 
affected. But this reference is almost wholly suppressed in 
ordinary speech ; and when being and appearance are contrasted, 
nothing is thought of but that one being which emits the 
appearance as an emanation from itself — the emanation being 
supposed to exist and appear on its own account, without 
needing a second being, as a mental state of which only can 
it attain reality. 

Of course any mode of speech is harmless if men under- 
stand what it really indicates, and limit its applications and 
the deductions from it accordingly ; but both this under- 
standing and these limitations are wanting in the present case. 
What is called phsenomenon or appearance is at bottom only 
the process which may become, or may cause, a phsenomenon 
as soon as it affects a being capable of perception ; this pro- 
cess is not the phsenomenon itself Now to the true notion of 
phsenomenon there attaches a value which can by no means 
be transferred to the process which precedes it ; that a being 
not only exists, but exists for another, is not merely a fact like 
other facts, but includes an element of pleasure ; it seems to us 
that the worth of a being's existence (though not, of course, that 
existence itself) is heightened and doubled when its image is 
reflected in another, or when, speaking generally, its content 
is not only there, but is recognised by some mind and is 
advanced to be the object of some enjoyment, though it may 
be only the enjoyment of understanding. He who asks. 
Would a being exist if it did not appear ? can hardly mean 
merely that the real existence of a thing consists in its going 
out of itself, and in the emanation from it of an activity that 



is directed outwards. This going out of itself will rather be 
understood as an emergence from the deafness, and blindness, 
and night of a state in which it is uncognised and forgotten, 
into the full clear day of awakened consciousness, of being 
named and being known. For the poetical apprehension of 
Nature the rising of the sun does not merely mean that the 
sun which before was below the horizon now rises above it ; 
it means also that it becomes itself visible and renders other 
objects visible, and floods the world with an enlightenment 
which, since it makes all things exist for one another, itself 
constitutes day and awakening, and in fact the full reality of 
that which before was, as it were, only potential. In the 
same way, that appearance of a being, which we value and of 
which we speak as of some great good, signifies always the 
entrance of something real into a consciousness which takes \. 
pleasure in it. This kind of appearance cannot be conceived 
as the mere emanation of some being from which it flows 
forth as a medium that shines by its own light — a kind of 
light, in fact, the business of which is to give light to itself 
and to the darkness, and of which this philosophy knows 
so much, and optics nothing whatever. For an error it is 
and will remain to treat that shining of light which exists 
only in the perception of the percipient, or that semblanse 
which exists only in consciousness, or that pleasure in a 
phaenomenon wliich can be found only in conscious perception 
of it — to treat all these as if they were occurrences that 
could take place in empty space, merely proceeding forth 
from one being without being received into any other. 

Here we have to renew our old conflict with this mode of 
thought. He who sees in history the development of an 
Idea is bound to say whom this development benefits, or what 
benefit is realized by it, I do not, of course, mean that there 
should be merely pointed out to us in the later stages of 
development, as the fruit of such development, some blessing 
which was not previously extant, but that we should be 
shown that the higher good consists in the previous absence 
of this blessing, and in its gradual attainment by way of this 



evolution. But if we agreed to find enougli happiness in the 
raere spectacle of a developing Idea, and to renounce any 
further advantage to which it might conduce, yet even the 
review of these thoughts as they march past would presup- 
pose a world of spectators by whom it would be witnessed. 
Who, then, are the spectators ? Either mankind themselves 
while they are developing are conscious of their development 
and enjoy the pleasure of this consciousness ; or God alone 
surveys history while mankind undergo it unconsciously ; or 
finally, there are individual human souls which are conscious 
of the historical progress of the Idea, while the rest only 
experience it as their fate and their lot in life. 

The first of these answers cannot be given. Unquestion- 
fibly mankind have in every age had some notions concerning 
their own being and their destiny, notions which have come 
to them from the conditions in life and the experiences which 
fell to their share. We would not scorn these notions because 
they do not constitute a collective consciousness, but merely 
jin energetic mental bent which at the most is only intensified 
to full reflection on particular occasions, and even then only to 
one-sided reflection. But the mass of mankind remain quite 
ignorant of the historical foundation of this feelincc which 
pervades their life, and of its significant place in the whole of 
historical development. Obscure traditions of the " good old 
times," or unsatisfied longings for a better future, unsup- 
ported by any knowledge of facts worth mentioning, are all 
the philosophy of history with which the majority are 
acquainted ; the subtle succession of the different phases of 
development of the historical Idea is displayed quite without 
effect as far as the consciousness of mankind on the whole is 

The second answer will be more readily given and more 
willingly received, because it is apt to be understood as being 
better than it is. For what view is there that might not join 
in the modest confession that it is God alone who perfectly 
understands the meaning of history ? But more than this is 
involved. History being understood as the development of 


the concept of humanity which is cognizable by God alone, it 
must also be the case that this development alone is the end 
and aim of history, while all which finite beings do and suffer, 
hope and fear, strive for and avoid, attain or fail of, is but as 
part of the machinery and trappings which the divine mind 
employs in order to bring before its own view this spectacle 
of the evolution of the concept. I know that no one will 
lightly profess this view in its undisguised repulsiveness as 
his own conviction ; still in reality it is to only too large an 
extent at the foundation of philosophies of history. It is not 
indeed conceivable that in surveying the tragic course of 
events the soul of the observer should remain wholly unsym- 
pathetic and not be, at least occasionally, surprised into 
warmth of feeling ; but how often have we been admonished 
to rise superior to the softheartedness of this sentimental mode 
of regarding history, and to learn that it is only the necessary 
progress of the concept that is of consequence, and not the 
happiness or misery of men ! And further, what is repulsive 
in the picture which we have drawn is certainly less striking 
from the fact that it is seldom God who is spoken of as the 
spectator of this show, but generally a World-spirit, or an 
Absolute, or a self-conscious Idea. The unbearableness of an 
egoism which could use a world of sensitive creatures merely 
as material for its own refined amusement is, of course, 
softened when the nature of the egoist is so obscurely con- 
ceived, and so removed from all similarity to ourselves, that 
we are left without any standard for the estimation of moral 
worth. And for the rest we gain nothing by this change of 
expression. For an inscrutable impersonal primal being in 
the place of the living God might indeed govern the world 
and us as a supreme power, but could not be the source of 
any obligations or any duties. Therefore the assumption of 
such a being, even if it really explained the external course 
fof history, would deprive the inner development of history of 
a most effective spring. For however large a share chance 
may have had in determining the course of events, something 
at any rate is due to the honest efforts of mankind who with 


a sense of sacred duty towards posterity have laboured to 
preserve and to increase their possessions. If we were forced 
to believe that all personal life is but a stage of development 
through which an impersonal Absolute has to pass, we should 
either cease our efforts, since we could discover no obligation 
to co-operate in helping on a process totally indifferent both 
in itself and for us, or — in case we held fast the treasure of 
love and duty and self-sacrifice of which we find ourselves 
possessed — we should have to confess to ourselves that a 
human heart in all its finitude and transitoriness is incom- 
parably nobler, richer, and more exalted than that Absolute 
with all its logically necessary development. 

We may pass over the third answer very briefly. No one 
can seriously believe that history takes place in order that it 
may be philosophically understood by philosophers ; the fact 
is indeed that there is not even a philosophy of that which 
has taken place. 

But there is another consideration which will be opposed 
to our rejection of all these answers. An Idea, it is said, 
Eot only exists in the consciousness of him who apprehends 
it or reflects upon it ; it is also really and effectively 
present in things themselves and their connections. It is 
present as an existing condition before the attention of 
thought, which comes later, has been directed to it ; and it 
is plain that it would continue its previous existence, and 
that its validity would suffer no detriment, even if the gaze 
and the reflection of a thinking being should never be directed 
towards it, making the content of the Idea an object of its 
own consciousness. If, therefore, only a few individual 
minds, or even if no one at all, were conscious of the Idea 
which is operative in history, it would nevertheless continue 
to exist in order that, unconscious and unknown, it might 
guide the destinies of the human race. Mankind as a whole 
would then be comparable to an individual man who is 
imceasingly conscious of pain or pleasure, or some other 
sensation resulting from his bodily organization, without 
knowing the Idea or plan in accordance with which the 


forces of his organism are combined to reciprocal action. We 
ourselves, however, may be compared to physiologists who 
investigate the laws of this action, and we should not regard 
the Idea which orders the system of vital functions as being 
the less efficient or the less worthy of investigation because the 
living man generally remains unconscious of it, and because 
it was unknown to us up to the moment of its discovery. 

This analogy, which is a just one, needs only to be pursued 
in order to refute the objection which it is brought forward to 
support. For surely we should hardly hold that those rela- 
tions of organic forces can, while they remain hidden, 
constitute the aim of life, or that the living body is destined 
merely to realize ordered activities working altogether in 
obscurity. In the sensations which we experience in some 
way not yet understood, in the pleasure and displeasure which 
are the final result of some secret action of our organs, in the 
supple activity of our limbs, and the joyous sense of that 
power over them which is ours we know not how — in all this 
it is that the life of the body consists. On the other hand, 
all that unknown activity is to be reckoned as part of the 
mechanical means which exist, not on their own account, but 
in order that these higher results may be realized. In this 
sense the secret development of an Idea may indeed be con- 
sidered as the guiding clue of universal history, and this clue 
may remain for ever unknown, provided only that the succes- 
sion of benefits which are attached to it, and which go on 
increasing, are enjoyed and known. But a view which 
accepted this interpretation would not differ essentially from 
that which regards history as resulting necessarily from the 
co-operation of the spiritual nature which is in us and the 
material conditions of life which are without us. It would 
be distinguished from the latter view by only one peculiarity, 
and that one of very doubtful value — it would believe, that is, 
that the manifold impulses which have their source in the 
human mind, and are operative in history, can be compre- 
hended under the one name of the concept of humanity, and 
that the separate investigation of those gradual changes which 

166 .BOOKVn. CHATTER n. - 

these impulses undergo in course of time, may be replaced by 
the one general formula of a development, assumed to be 
logically necessary, of that concept. 

But just this interpretation, which we allow, is by no means 
contemplated by the views referred to ; they imagine that they 
have found in that hidden self-development of the Idea not a 
serviceable means, but the final sense and aim of historic 
evolution, not a guiding thread on which are gradually strung 
the substantial goods of life, but the Supreme Good itself. And 
I to this we must unceasingly renew an opposition often offered 
before. In the order of the world a never-to-be-explained 
mystery may possibly shroud the means used to attain the 
ends aimed at, or the laws in accordance with which these 
means work ; but it would be the most preposterous form of 
mysticism to suppose that there could be ends in the universe 
which, although no one knew of their content or fulfilment, 
should yet continue to be ends, or blessings which were so 
ruysteriously hidden that no one could observe them or rejoice 
because of them, and which should yet continue to be blessings, 
and indeed to be the greater and more sacred the less this 
incomprehensible veil was ever lifted from them. That 
which is to be a blessing has its sole and necessary place 
of existence in the living consciousness of some spiritual 
being ; aU that lies outside of spirits, external to them, 
between them, before them, or after them, all that is 
mere matter of fact, or thing, or quality, or relation, or event, 
belongs to that impersonal realm, through which indeed the 
way to blessings may lie, but in which blessing can never be. 
[ As long as we have breath we will strive against this super- 
' stition, which though so calm is yet so frightful, spending 
itself wholly in veneration of forms and facts, knowing nothing 
whatever of true, warm-hearted life, or overlooking it with iu- 
I comprehensible indifference, to seek the innermost meaning of 
I the universe in observing a secret etiquette of evolution. And 
yet how often do we encounter this superstition ! We have 
seen it shrink back— like a sensitive plant at a touch — when 
natural science has cheerfully enlarged upon all the efficient 


means upon which depend the joyousness of animal life, 
its abundance of physical satisfactions, its sense of vigour, 
its joy in the varied changes which it experiences. "What 
this superstition thinks of importance is not that there 
should be a vigorous, joyous, self-conscious reality, but that 
there should be a show — that everything which exists should 
recall symbolically something which itself it is not, should 
ring in unison with activities which it does not exercise, 
with destinies which it does not experience, with Ideas of 
which it remains ignorant. And wlien in history tlie rich- 
hued ardour and passion of human life are unfolded before 
the adherents of this doctrine — the inexplicable peculiarities 
of individual minds, the disturbing complications of human 
destinies which, in many respects alike in their outlines, are 
yet inconceivably various in their individuality — when this 
great picture is opened before them, then they rise up and ask 
if there is no way of reducing this grandeur back to something 
poor and small — of reducing lacTc, in sober truth, for we go 
backwards and not forwards if we allow the tedious emptiness 
of a logically necessary development to be imposed upon us 
as the final meaning and end of the universe. And therefore 
will we always combat these conceptions which acknowledge 
only one half, and that the poorer half, of the world ; only the 
unfolding of facts to new facts, of forms to new forms, and 
not the continual mental elaboration of aU these outward 
events into that which alone in the universe has worth and 
truth — into the bliss and despair, the admiration and loathing, 
the love and the hate, the joyous certainty and the despairing 
longing, and all the nameless fear and favour in which that 
life passes which alone is worthy to be called life. And yet 
no doubt our combating will be wholly in vain, for those 
whom we oppose will ever seek afresh to cover the imperfec- 
tion of their ideas with the cloak of a generous putting aside 
of self ; they will always be ready to profess anew that there 
is a meaning in saying that phsenomeua happen even when 
they are not seen, that symbols are emUematic even when no 
one understands them, that Ideas are expressed by matters of 


fact even when there is no one upon whom the expression 
could make an impression. This sounding brass and this 
tinkling cymbal will ever be struck anew ; or rather this 
brass which does not sound and this cymbal which does not 
tinkle, for sounding and tinkling have their purest and highest 
value for this mode of thought, when considered as what they 

-^ are in themselves wlien no one hears them. 

S 4. But are we not mollified by another conception, which 
does justice to the incalculable variety and wealth of history 
and redeems it from the poverty-stricken condition of being a 
mere logically necessary development of a concept, and accord- 

•^ ing to which history is a divine poem, produced by God's 
creative fancy, with the spontaneity and life of a genuine 
work of art ? One might be in doubt as to the class of 
artistic productions among which this poem should be reckoned; 
to some it has seemed to have the uniform flow of an epic, 
to others to be as full of catastrophes as a tragedy ; again, it 
has not unfrequently been regarded as a comedy by mocking 
philosophers in sardonic moods ; and each of these views 
has seemed, to those who held it, to have something in it. 
Meanwhile it is plain that the phrase contains, in the first 
place, merely a comparison of the impression made upon us by 
history with the similar impression which we receive from 
poetry. The peculiar character of the impression is made 
clearer by the comparison, but not so the causes by which in 
both cases it is produced. Perhaps we might more justly and 
more usefully make the converse statement, and say that 
poetry derives its power from its similarity to history. For 
art is never a mere playing with forms ; it is true and genuine 
only when we recognise its forms as the same as those upon 
which the cosmic order is based, and according to which 
those events happen which, taken as a whole and in the 
breadth of their simultaneous complications as well as in 
their temporal succession, are just history itself. Because 
< the epic brings before us with simple clearness this vast and 
wide and variously agitated stream of human destinies, without 
offering instructive solutions of particular difficulties, it has 



the same effect upon us as history itself, which with equal 
reserve hides the secret of its whole significance under a series 
of sharply defined events which stand out in strong relief. 

So far the comparison of history with poetry is nothing 
more than a graceful play of thought, going from one " 

unknown to the other, and expressing each in terms of 
the other without really making either of the two more 
plain. But the comparison has something more in view. It 
aims not only at comparing the finished poem with the course 
of past history, hut also at comparing the production of the 
work of art by the imagination of the artist, with the origin of 
history, due to an equally incalculable spontaneity of the divine <- 

mind. Something would indeed be gained if the essential 
peculiarity of that artistic imagination could be defined in a 
way that might be understood without again having recourse 
to imagination. We do not know that this has been done. 
For if we consider the information which we have concerning 
this mental activity — concerning the spontaneity with which it 
produces what is fair and what is repulsive, inventing examples 
of the application of necessary laws with boundless licence 
— concerning the perceptible justice with which it proceeds 
in the combination of these arbitrarily constructed events, 
without our ever being able to take a comprehensive and 
intelligent survey of the whole — we find that in these charac- 
teristics and others which have often been noted, the mystery of 
history is reproduced in all its features, only it remains, unfor- 
tunately, just as much a mystery as before. We receive no 
enlightenment with regard to the origin of this divine fancy 
or its ends, nor with regard to the way in which the concep- 
tion of it may be combined with our other ideas of God, 
or with the rest of our philosophy. Therefore, though we 
willingly agree with this view in what it denies, we are in 
no wise enriched by what it affirms. 

§ 5. And now, after so many vain attempts to interpret the ^ 

progress of history, we will consider that opposite opinion 
which altogether denies history in the sense of a progressive 
development on earth. This view, too, is by no means a mere 


peculiarity of mistaken thought, making a casual appearance 
now and again ; in ancient as well as in modern times it has 
reached the point of the most pronounced aversion to every- 
thing mundane, an aversion which has heen enthusiastically 
carried into practice. Innumerable heathen penitents and 
christian hermits have retained in their solitude a deep and 
pervading conviction that human life on earth does not, as a 
whole, piogress towards any ideal of perfection which is here 
either attainable or even only aimed at, but that everything is 
vanity. They regarded only the constant and unmediated 
return of the individual heart to God, and its exaltation to 
the supersensuous world as progress, and all other earthly 
life as but a continual repetition of the old imperfections. 
This, too, is a philosophy of history. It is probably based 
upon less profound combinations of thought than the opinions 
which point to a progress which is supposed to be perceived ; 
but, on the other hand, innumerable sacrifices have proved it to 
be a most living conviction, and it will continue to receive 
fresh proof of the same kind ; for it is ordinarily our last con- 
fession when we depart from life and leave behind us all the 
plans, the carrying out of which once seemed to us a work 
of such greatness and importance. 

Shall we give ourselves up without reserve to this denial 
of earthly good ? Would there not hence result an inactive 
contemplative disposition which, by causing too early a 
renunciation of all mundane gain, would abolish the conditions 
of struggle after that which is supramundane ? Such retire- 
ment from the world is conceivable only as retirement from a 
world which one has known, from a life in which one has partici- 
pated. It is only a remembrance of the wealth of mental 
life, of the happiness and misery, the hopes and illusions, 
which the social interweaving of human efforts includes and 
produces, that can afford to solitary contemplation an object 
of reflection in considering which it may develop its ideas 
concerning the supersensuous life. He who has experhmced 
nothing is made no wiser by solitude, and communion with 
the phsenomena of Nature, and with the thoughts which would 


be possible for a mind altogether withdrawn from human 
society, could lead to no better peace than that which the / 
inferior animals possess. 

But, as a matter of fact, it was not inevitable that 
depreciation of what is earthly should be intensijfied to 
such contempt for all living activity. Men may recognise 
that the social relations of human life offer the sole 
though intractable material by elaboration of which they are 
enabled to work out the ideals towards which they struggle 
and aspire ; and this recognition may lead them to devote 
themselves with all their heart and soul to the tasks of earthly 
existence. We show the perverse pride of human exacting- y^ 
ness in only taking pleasure in work, and only valuing 
it when we are assured that the results of our activity will 
hold a lasting place in the history of the universe, and will 
have imperishable value. If we estimate more modestly our 
performances here, regarding them as mere prentice work, 
then we can in all seriousness combine with the preparation 
for a higher end that calm resignation which will patiently 
endure that our attempts here should be without progress or 
lasting results. In proportion, then, as we estimated more 
highly the immediate relation of each individual soul to the 
supersensible world, the value for mankind of the coherence of 
history would sink ; history, however it may move forward ' 

or fluctuate hither and thither, could not by any of its move- 
ments attain a goal lying out of its own plane, and we 
may spare ourselves the trouble of seeking to find in mere 
onward movement upon this plane a progress which history is 
destined to make not there, but by an upward movement at 
each individual point of its course forwards. 

And, it is asked finally, is it not this unhistorical life that N 
is actually lived by the greatest part of mankind ? For the 
unrest and v.'iriety of revolutions and transformations, the 
meaning and connection of which we are seeking, is yet, when 
all is said, the history of the male sex alone ; women move on 
through all this toil and struggle hardly even touched by its 
changing lights, ever presenting afresh in uniform fashion the 


grand and simple types in which the life of the human soul is 
manifested. Is their existence to count for nothing, or have 
we only for a moment forgotten its significance in scholastic 
zeal for the Idea of historical development ? 

By such considerations the inclination to an unhistoric 
conception of human destiny is strengthened ; still this does 

j^ not overcome the opposition of a moral sentiment which warns 
us against giving up everything that we cannot understand, 
and admonishes us to esteem the temporal advance of history as 
a real good. Even that which holds us back from this recog- 
nition, when we are considering its course scientifically — that 
is, the unequal distribution, among successive generations who 
know not one another, of an ever-increasing quantum of good 
— is not felt as a misfortune in actual life. On the contrary, 

^ that universal absence of all envious feeling towards future 
generations which coexists with so much selfishness in detail, 
is one of the most noteworthy peculiarities of the human 
mind. And not only do we not in the slightest degree 
grudge to this future the greater happiness of which we 
ourselves can only have a prophetic foretaste, but it is further 
the case that a vein of self-sacrificing effort for the establish- 
ment of a better condition of things in which we ourselves 

^ shall not participate, runs through all ages, having sometimes 
a noble, sometimes a commonplace aspect, at one time appear- 
ing as the conscious devotion of affection and at another as a 
natural impulse, unconscious of its own significance and of 
any definite aim. This wonderful phsenomenon may well tend 
/ to confirm our belief that there is some unity of history, 
transcending that of which we are conscious, a unity in which 
we cannot merely say of the past that it is not — a unity rather 
in which all that has been inexorably divided by the temporal 
course of history, has a co-existence independent of time ; in 
which finally the benefits produced in time are not lost for 
those who helped to win but did not enjoy them. 

This view will certainly not escape the reproach of marring 
one of the fairest traits of human character by assigning to it a 
basis of selfishness ; nor will it at the same time escape the 


suspicion of demanding from human hearts the magnanimity of 
motiveless self-sacrifice when such self-sacrifice results from 
love for others or for mankind without any thought of selfish 
advantage. But these reproaches would show a misunderstand- 
ing of the subject under discussion. We, too, would hold such 
a thought of selfish gain far removed from the motives of our 
action, but we cannot in the same way exclude it when we are 
considering the structure of the universe. While we lay great 
stress upon maintaining the principles of our conduct in all the 
purity of unselfishness, we feel it equally important that the 
world itself should appear to us as a significant and worthy 
whole. We require our own happiness, not for the sake of our 
happiness, but because the reason of the world would be turned 
to unreason if we did not reject the thought that the work of 
vanishing generations should go on for ever only benefiting 
those who come later, and being irreparably wasted for the 
workers themselves. All human longing to find a guiding 
thread in the confused variety of history springs from the 
unselfish desire to recognise a worthy and sacred order in the 
system and course of the world. This longing has impelled 
some who held different views from ours to sacrifice the sub- 
stantial happiness of all individuals to the constant and 
uniform development of a universal; but as we regard such 
attempts as a misdirection of thought, we are impelled by it 
to the opposite demand for a lasting preservation of that, the 
continual destruction of which would render fruitless all effort 
to develop even the universal itself Each, in order to keep 
his own thought pure from selfishness, may exclude his own 
happiness from this demand ; but he cannot avoid requiring 
the preservation of the happiness of others, unless the world 
itself, and all the flourish about historical development, are to 
appear as mere vain and unintelligible noise. 

This faith, being the interpretation of the results of historic 
life, is connected with the self-sacrificing and provident love 
which is the noblest spring of that life. The presentiment 
that we shall not be lost to the future, that those who were 
before us though they have passed away from the sphere of 


] 74 .BOOK Vn. CHAPTER H. 

earthly reality have not passed away from reality altogether, 
and that in some mysterious way the progress of history 
affects them too — this conviction it is that first entitles us 
to speak as we do of humanity and its history. For this 
humanity does not consist in a general type-character which 
is repeated in all individuals, no matter how many they are, 
or have been, or shall be ; it does not consist in the countless 
number of individuals who are only brought together by our 
thought into a unity which they have not in reality, since 
as a matter of fact they are dispersed and some would 
still be if the rest did not exist ; but it consists in that 
real and living community, which brings together into the 
reciprocity of one whole the plurality of minds which are 
separated from one another in time, and in the particular place 
of each in tliat whole being marked and reserved beforehand, 
just as though the whole number had been already reckoned 
over. And history cannot be a mere slender ray of reality 
slipping on between two abysses of absolute nothingness, 
past and future, ever consigning back to the nothingness in its 
rear that which its efforts had won from the nothingness in its 
van ; there must be a pre-established sum, in which the flux 
of becoming and of vanishing away is consolidated to per- 
manent existence. Where the human mind fortifies itself in 
its efforts by an appeal to the spirits of ancestors or to future 
renown, it does it with this idea ; an appeal to what is non- 
existent is powerless — no appeal can be of any efficacy which 
is not strongly penetrated by this thought of the preservation 
and restoration of all things. 

Such a faith is not easy in all ages. As long as the 
limited purview of mankind embraced only the near distance 
of a known past and the familiar surroundings of home and 
clan, there was a powerful attraction in the thought that this 
simple life, bounded at the one end by creation and at the other 
by the last judgment, was a probation at the close of which 
would begin the happy communion of all those who had been 
divided from one another by the lapse of time. Our extended 
intellectual horizon embraces a multitude of unlike nations. 


the indefinite ebb and flow of a far-flowing historical stream, 
the ever uniform working of Nature, and the immeasurable 
extent of the universe, and we can neither be satisfied with 
such a brief and homely solution of complications which have 
become infinite, nor can we find some different conception 
capable of meeting our own more exacting requirements and 
giving a clear representation of the ideal of which we are 
conscious. Yet, notwithstanding, we . hold fast the primitive ] 
faith, and do not find that we can replace it by explanations / 
which have seemed more acceptable to the culture of our age ; I 
on the contrary, it is only by presupposing the truth of this 
belief that modern views can free themselves from the internal 
contradictions in which we found them involved. For no / 
education of mankind is conceivable unless its final results ) , 
are to be participated in by those whom this earthly course [ 
left in various stages of backwardness ; the development of 
an Idea has no meaning unless all are to be plainly shown in 
the end what that development is of which in past time they ^ 
had been the ignorant subjects. He who seeks a plan in 
history, will find himself inevitably compelled to acknowledge (J^ 

this faith ; he alone can feel no need of it who sees in history 
nothing but examples of universal laws of action, each 
example due to the impulse of anterior forces, and not to the 
attractive power of ideals as yet unattained. 

But in truth our presupposition suilices only for the ^ 
removal of inner contradictions ; neither it nor our empirical 
knowledge makes it possible for us to exhibit the plan which 
history follows. Not our empirical knowledge ; for we are 
well aware how small the sum of our knowledge is when 
compared with all the wealth of life of which our planet has 
been the scene, and how little the fragments which we know 
make us capable of discovering the path that may have been 
taken by the course of earthly history as a whole. And if we 
did know all this which we do not know, it might still be doubt- 
ful how far this earthly life could be understood as a whole 
in itself and without needing the help of anything else to 
explain it ; and our scientific insight is infinitely far ^rom 



penetrating all the ramifications of the connections by which 
it may be bound up with a vaster universe, which perhaps 
contains material for its completion. Thus history still seems 
to us, as it has seemed in all ages, to be a path which leads 
from an unknown beginning to an unknown end, and the 
general views as to its direction which we believe we must 
adopt, cannot serve to indicate the course and cause of its 
windings in detail 


B adv 
H woi 




Theories as to the Origin of Civilisation — Theories of a Divine Origin — Organic 
Origin of Civilisation — Instance of Language — Importance of Individual 
Persons — Laws of the Historic Order of the World — Statistics — Determinism 
and Freedom — Uniformities and Contrasts of Development — The Decay of 
Nations — Influence of Transmission and Tradition. 

§ 1. nniVEiSr in antiquity reflection was in many ways 
-■-i directed to the origin of that ordered life, in the 
enjoyment of which men then found themselves, and there 
jippeared even then the same extreme views by which opinion 
is now divided. Human civilisation as a whole seemed so ^ 
wonderful when first apprehended that its origin appeared in- 
comprehensible except as an express divine institution. Pioua 
legends very early sought to find in the benefactions of the 
gods the source of the commodities of human life, partly of 
those whose origin is still an enigma to us, and also of many 
others which would not seem to us to exceed the reach of 
easily comprehensible developments of human powers. The 
sense of the evil in society came to strengthen the melancholy 
notion of a past Golden Age in which there lived innocent 
men, with simple hearts, at peace with each other and with the 
world, under the protection of the gods, until growing know- 
ledge of the world brought coveting and strife — or perhaps it 
was that these latter awaked men's slumbering capacities for 
knowledge. With this picture of a fair beginning and an t,^ 
ill continuance was soon contrasted that of an origin of 
brutal savagery, from which mankind, schooled by suffering 
and experience and making good use of their lessons, gradually 
advanced to the rich complexity of their contradictory, 
wonderful, ill-fated civilisation. Both conceptions have 


been repeated with innumerable modifications by succeeding 
ages ; generally with a leaning to assumptions which inter- 
fered with impartiality of judgment. 

Even the old view, which opposed the theory of earthly 
development to that of divine origin, set out from declared 
hostility to all religious contemplation ; the rationalistic 
Enlightenment (Aufkldrung) which long governed opinion in 
modem times, was equally prone to express depreciation of all 
which pointed to something more, in the dim beginnings of 
history, than lucky chances and the ingenuity of busy brains. 
This Enlightenment traced back the beginning of political life 
to a convention entered into by honest men of remote antiquity; 
language they traced to an agreement to use certain sounds as 
the most appropriate means of communication ; the maxims of 
morality were attributed partly to a general recognition of the 
usefulness (accidentally discovered) of certain kinds of conduct, 
partly to the precepts of far-seeing teachers ; and finally, the 
origin of religion was referred to men's natural inclination to 
superstition and the artful use of this by priestly cunning. In 
all this, deliberate calculations, such as are known only to 
a somewhat advanced civilisation, were made the producing 
causes of civilisation itself, by the Enlightenment — which thus 
failed in finding the solution of its problem. But it is not 
this failure, destined perhaps to befall other attempts of the 
same kind, which has sharpened the aversion of the present 
generation towards this mode of looking at history ; it is 
the obvious endeavour to represent all this (which must indeed 
come to pass through the instrumentality of men) as though it 
were the arbitrary product of human action. We cannot, 
however, deny that the theory we are considering was due to 
real need of enlightenment although it sought to satisfy the 
need in a very inadequate fashion. 

When the opposite view was revived, it exceeded all modera- 
tion and all necessity by connecting the early history of man- 
kind with supramundane beginnings, in ways which could not 
afford the expected advantages even if motives for preferring 
them, which were absent, had existed. In combating these views 


I would not refuse them the consideration which is their due. 
That historical life was preceded by a primitive state of moral 
holiness and profound wisdom, and that all succeeding ages 
were taken up with the decay of this glory and a struggle 
against the decay — such a wholly perverted view of history 
as this will hardly find advocates in the present day. But if 
there were such they need not be alarmed at the objection 
that it is only development from the less to the more 
perfect, and not progress in an opposite sense, that has all 
natural analogies in its favour. He who has once come to 
regard history as something more than a mere natural process, 
who has made up his mind to regard it as part of a great and 
divine plan of the universe, will also be secretly convinced 
that to understand its course something a little more profound 
may be needed than the simple formula of progress in a 
straight line. That course may perhaps involve many wind- 
ings which are only dimly intelligible to us, but which if 
clearly understood would disclose a striking and living mean- 
ing of infinitely higher value than the barren conceit of a 
continuous advance uninterrupted by catastrophes. It is not 
in vain that various ages and nations have worked out, with 
devotion and longing, ideas of a fall from some better state of 
existence, of temporal life as a penance, and of a final 
reconciliation and restoration ; by doing so they have borne 
witness that if the mind does not (thanks to material ana- 
logies) forget its own being and nature, it is capable of 
beheving something differing widely from a progress which 
(having no loss to regret) is busied in producing with its own 
hands all the goods that it requires. But historical investi- 
gation, however far it has advanced, has come no nearer the 
discovery of the existence on earth of an ideal primitive state, 
■ and has in fact left it hardly disputable that our civilisa- 
tion must have grown up from simple and indigenous 
I beginnings along the path of a gradual and much interrupted 
§ 2. Such an admission, however, does not exclude super- 
natural beginnings, only that in the place of an ideal 



condition of primitive men there would have to be substituted 
t the thought of a divine education by which men's natural 
powers should have been guided up to a point at which the 
species had become capable of its own further development. 
The addition, expressed or understood, of the opinion that 
from that time forth the divine guidance ceased, shows us 
that men imagine such guidance to have been exercised in 
* primitive times in a more express and striking way than in 
that later progress of history which it is just as impossible to 
withdraw altogether from its influence. In order to estimate 
this opinion we will consider it as manifested in more definite 

No one will attribute the beginning of human education to 
intercourse with angels who walked in visible form upon the 
earth. We find in primitive times, not infallible wisdom 
which could not have been acquired from a merely human 
standpoint, but signs of an active curiosity which sometimes 
hit and sometimes missed the mark ; not a complete 
systematization of society which would seem referrible tc 
divine arrangement, but simple forms of life easily explicable 
as the result of natural relations and natural sociality, and 
more complex forms presenting a very human mixture of 
pride and fear, cunning and violence ; not a faith the other- 
wise unattainable truth of which must have come by revela- 
tion, but religions in which aspirations after an ideal had 
developed conceptions of very various worth ; finally, no 
' primitive speech of divine construction, but from the begin- 
ning a number of different manifestations of the common 
faculty of speech. Faultless perfection in all these cases 
might make it necessary to seek an explanation by reference 
to constant intercourse with superior beings ; what we actually 
find, however — mental activity generally, inventiveness of 
intellect and vigorous constructive faculty, but not the 
exclusion of error — all this does not demand such an 

But for this inapplicable conception may be substituted an 
influence of the Godhead upon the human mind just as 


immediate though more hidden. We do not, it may be said, 
seem to find in the course of psychic life as at present con- 
stituted the conditions necessary for the initiation of a 
civilisation capable of being hereafter transmitted with ease. 
A state of the mental capacities differing generally from that 
which we now see must have been the basis of such a 
beginning, and this may perhaps have been transformed to 
the existing constitution of mental life by the very reactions 
naturally accompanying progress. This view takes two 
different and more definite forms, neither very probable. 
That the general laws according to which the events of 
psychic life are combined in men and animals were different 
in primitive times from what they are now (which is the one 
form), is a supposition that to us seems incredible, and that 
can in no case lead to any useful results. For other laws of 
the train of ideas, if not reinforced by other and copious 
sources of knowledge or by extraordinary mental activity, 
would either (1) not lead to new and otherwise inaccessible 
developments, or (2) would lead to developments merely 
strange and singular; they could not lead to those from 
which our historical civilisation has in fact grown up without 
any substantial interruption. And the same would hold of 
that other interpretation which sets forth that it is the moods, 
the inclinations, the receptivity, and the aspirations of the 
soul — which are subject to the general laws of mental life as 
being the living objects to which these laws apply — that it is 
these, and not the laws themselves, which were once constituted 
and combined in a fashion different from that which obtains 
in existing human nature. No doubt this significant psychic 
nature may be very different in different individuals, since its 
manifestations are not produced by general laws, although 
they are formally determined by such, and the development 
of their results similarly regulated ; but he who would 
exaggerate the peculiarity of men's primitive, as compared 

I with their present, mental state, likening it to the instinct of 
brutes, to demoniac possession, or to the twilight of clairvoyant 


condition is not wildly aberrant and extraordinary phaeno- 
rnena, but the beginnings of our own familiar development. 
Therefore, without denying that the mental life of the earliest 
antiquity may have been so different from our own that we 
cannot fully realize it, we yet hold that the assumption of 
unlikeness above referred to is not particularly useful even 
when kept within the limits of moderation, and that when 
carried to excess it is of no value whatever for the explanation 
of that which we want to have explained. 

I am compelled to regard with the same scruples a view 
which seeks to find the nidus of that primitive mental con- 
dition specially in the religious life, or in God's presence in 
the devout consciousness of man. Certainly like-mindedness 
in religion is one of the most essential bonds upon which the 
union of a people can depend, and the greater the contrast 
between the faith of any people and that of their neighbours 
the more stubbornly often has such a nation kept itself 
uncontaminated. But we should not be justified in asserting 
that without the religious bond all other natural inducements 
to social life would only suffice at most to constitute a horde, 
not a nation. That language should have been the same for 
all mankind in primitive times is not made comprehensible, 
with regard either to its origin or its construction, by the 
supposition of unanimity of faith ; and we are equally in the 
dark as to what must have happened for a division of faith 
(due to unknown causes) to have led to a confusion of tongues, 
through which new and varying appellations were given to all 
those objects of common life which were not in intimate 
connection with the sphere of religious thought. It is easy 
to give the general answer, that there is nothing so separate 
and isolated in human life as not to be affected by religious 
belief and its peculiar character. But if one is not satisfied 
with the vague devotional thrill caused by this indefinite 
expression of a true thought, one sees what degrees and pro- 
portions there are in this connection of human things with 
divine. Neither in life nor in science is it possible, necessary, 
cr desirable that true religion should strive to exhibit what is 


secular — the course of Nature and human freedom — as the 
immediate shadow and reflection of what is divine; that it 
should deny or grudge to these the comparative inde- 
pendence with which, by native strength in the j&rst place, 
they produce their own special results. 

§ 3. We have yet to glance at a view, a favourite of 
modern times, in which the idea of a mysterious beginning of 
human civilisation approximates to the thought of natural 
development. The rationalistic fashion of explaining every 
coherent department in the whole frame of civilisation as 
constructed out of a multitude of separately insignificant 
accidents and inventions, having fallen into disfavour as a 
caricature of mechanical action, it has become customary to 
ascribe the forms of society, the growth of morality, the 
construction of language, and the coherence of religious 
belief, to organic development. Two points become prominent 
when we ask what meaning can here be assigned to this term 
organic — for which a long defence will have to be made if 
at the last day account has to be given for every idle word. 
In the first place, that which has an organic origin, being 
withdrawn from the region of conscious invention and free 
choice which belong to us as men, is supposed to grow 
necessarily out of the innate constitution of our mental being. 
And on the other hand, that also which is realized in the 
intercourse of different individuals as an advantage of civilisa- 
tion in which they all participate, is held not to result from 
reciprocal action of which they are conscious or which can be 
pointed out, but to be the immediate product of a mind that 
is common to them all. 

Now the rule within us of an unconscious necessity needs no 
demonstration. Each individual sensation in us bears witness 
to it, for we do not choose what the sensation shall be with 
which we respond to the external stimulus ; every feeling of 
harmony or discord which we experience is the involuntary 
expression of something that takes place in us without our 
comprehension or co-operation ; if a melody to which we are 
listening is broken off unfinished, we are driven to seek for 


its conclusion, not because we understand at all why the 
conclusion should be added, but because our soul, with un- 
comprehended power, struggles to emerge from the state of 
having begun some movement but not carried it out : and it 
must be in the same way that in the case of more com- 
plicated processes, causes of which we remain unconscious, 
arouse our efforts and guide them with sure and arbitrary 
power. Scientific research may perhaps some day succeed in 
clearing up these obscure processes ; but however much may 
be accomplished in this direction, the difficulties connected 
with the beginnings of human civilisation would not be 
lessened thereby. These difficulties are to be found in the 
fact, not that a coherent whole of mental life is developed 
in the individual soul, but that such developments occurring 
in different souls coincide to form a common intellectual 
possession. And it is plain that those who can find the 
explanation of this in the notion of organic origin, labour 
under a delusion. 

Let us look at language for instance. Each individual 
may be forced by an unconscious natural impulse to manifest 
his mental condition by definite sounds ; but this manifesta- 
tion becomes language only through the comprehension and 
recognition of the hearer. Now capacity of excitation, 
structure of thought, and connection of ideas, may be as like 
as you will in members of the same tribe, but this harmony 
would never impel them to choose with mechanical uniformity 
the same sounds for the same ideas, and the same inflections 
to express the same relations. For the spoken word is tlie 
immediate reflection not of objects, which are the same for all, 
but of the impressions produced by these, which are different 
for different individuals. Indeed, in the same individual the 
same stimulus does not produce at all times the same 
impression, owing to his varying moods ; and language as it 
grew up would greet objects with ever varying names if the 
name once given did not blend so completely in our remem- 
brance with the idea of the thing itseK that later, even when 
we learn to know the thing from quite a different point of 


view, the name recurs to us as one of its most constant and 
important properties. And certainly also, with whatever 
solemn obscurity we may imagine the organic speech-impulse 
to operate, every sound must have been pronounced for the 
first time by some individual mouth with lips thick or thin. 
Originally it belonged to him only who had framed it ; it 
could only become common property when others divined its 
signification and repeated it with the same meaning. How 
this happens is shown in a general way by the ease with 
which children of very ordinary abilities master the materials 
of speech without express learning, and grow familiar with 
inflectional analogies. But the first origin of language still 
presents special and unsolved difficulties. 

If a great number of individuals with equal claims to 
consideration had simultaneously taken part in its formation, 
there would have been a variety of quite independent names 
for some ideas, and hence a superfluity which would only 
have been reduced by the subsequent necessity of reciprocal 
intelligibility. This did perhaps actually take place to a 
certain extent ; the heterogeneous store of roots which we 
find in languages may be the result of a mutual adoption and 
surrender of words formed independently by dijEferent men. 
The same simple idea seems to have been originally denoted 
by several distinct roots of different sound, which later 
(because the supply was in excess of the need) came severally 
to express the different shades of meaning attaching to the 
idea ; thus it happens that there are not connected series of 
words coresponding to connected series of ideas in such a way 
as that, for instance, the names of colours should be more like 
one another than like the names of impressions of other kinds, 
or that the appellations of trees should have a greater etymo- 
logical resemblance to one another than to the appellations of 
birds. This systemless incoherence of the material of language 
would indeed result if objects affected the linguistic imagina- 
tion of a single individual not similarly, in as far as they 
were similar, but in a way varying according to accidental 
and varying conditions ; and we see that if language grew from 


the concurrent contributions of many persons, there must 
have been still more reason for this variety. It would have 
increased past all possibility of comprehension if (as we 
suggested above) the number of equally influential language- 
builders had been considerable. 

But there is no doubt that language did not spring into 
existence like the statutes of a suddenly formed society, but 
that it grew up gradually within a family, or clan, or tribe ; and 
that as one generation succeeded another in the natural course, 
the store of words already formed would be transmitted with 
the same authority as other traditional arrangements. The 
creative impulse soon dies out in any department when it 
finds patterns provided, by imitating which its wants may be 
satisfied. Therefore an existing word prevents others from 
springing up to express the same idea ; or if they do spring 
up, they disappear like the numerous words invented by 
children, which are lost when their mode of thought grows 
into harmony with that of adults. So it happened that only 
so great a variety survived as resulted from a process of 
mutual accommodation between the contributions of those 
families (not very numerous) who had been independent 
constructors of language. 

But in this way we reach merely a generally used store of 
words and not the grammatical construction of language. 
There are very many different rules for denoting different 
relations by compounding, blending, and modifying roots, and 
each of these modes, again, allows of course of an innumerable 
variety of applications. How among this abundance of 
possibilities a logical construction of language could have 
grown up is an enigma. Besides, one cannot believe that 
such a construction could be produced in short time and by 
few men ; but if we allow a long time, this does not make it 
easier to understand how amidst the succession of different 
generations and among a very numerous people, just one 
single plan of construction out of the many possible, should 
have gained universal recognition and mastery. One would 
conjecture that in such a long course of time very many 


varying attempts at construction would be made by many 
different persons, attempts which could hardly have been 
consolidated to the unity of one logical construction even by 
the compensatory process of mutual accommodation. But do 
we find this logical consistency existing throughout in the 
grammatical construction of language, or are there here too 
traces of a complex origin ? Do not most languages make 
simultaneous use of different kinds of construction, using root- 
modifications together with prefixes and suffixes ? Are there 
not various forms of declension and conjugation having all the 
same meaning and value ? In this abundance of forms — forms 
which in all developed languages are the last to experience 
the transforming influence of the principle which has come to 
be predominant — we may perhaps find survivals of construc- 
tions which were originally diverse. Is the superabundance of 
cases, of tenses, and of moods really to be ascribed to an 
inexpressibly delicate sensibility on the part of those with 
whom language originated — a sensibility that from the very 
beginning and as it were at one stroke provided, with syste- 
matic completeness, for the expression of the finest shades of 
thought — or can we not rather trace in these various forms 
the remains of originally diverse attempts at formation of 
language, which attempts — since they held their ground — 
came as a consequence of their superfluity to be used for the 
denotation of those fine shades of thought ? Eecent progress 
in the investigation of language makes me feel more sure than 
I did formerly that many of the latter questions may be 
answered in the affirmative, and that many of the examples 
adduced may be really conclusive; meanwhile what I have 
said here is said not so much for its own sake as in order 
to explain what that is which we are seeking, and which a 
practised eye might perhaps really detect under other forms. 

And however it may be in the special case of language, 
our assertion will yet hold good in general. The origin of 
every mental possession held by men in common supposes a 
period in which by reciprocal appropriation, surrender, and 
accommodation, the contributions brought by individuals and 


resulting from an organic necessity of tlieir nature, have 
become blended into one coherent whole. It is only indi- 
vidual living minds which are centres of action in the course 
of history; every principle that is to be realized and to 
become a power must be first intensified in them to individual 
activity, and then, through a process of reciprocal action 
between them, become extended and generally recognised. 
How commonplace this remark is — yet it almost seems as 
though through the unintelligent use of that comparison of 
organic origin we had come to think that, when language 
began, individual words fell ready made like snow-flakes from 
the atmosphere of a general consciousness upon the heads of 
individuals, or as if works of art, the results of national 
imagination, could arise like clouds in the sky and grow 
larger by the spontaneous addition of formless vapours. 

^ 4. But this organic view of history would banish from 
human life not only the mechanism of reciprocal action, but 
with it also every element of chance. Among the most 
choice accomplishments of the theory is the demonstration 
{-post facto indeed) that events must necessarily have happened 
as they did, and that being logically consistent developments 
of the spirit of the age they could not have been prevented 
by any exercise of individual free will. Now certainly no 
individual power can make itself felt in history unless it 
knows how to subserve some prevailing motive of action, 
or is capable of in some way alleviating human suffering. 
But on the other hand, those mighty men who through 
inventive genius or obstinate constancy of will have had 
a decided influence upon the course of history, are by 
no means merely the offspring and outcome of their age. 
In most cases the general spirit of humanity, the organic 
evolution of which we extol, has produced no more than 
a feeling of present pressure, a yearning mood, or a devout 
desire for change. It has stated the problems, a solution of 
which was wanted ; but the fulfilment of these desires and 
the special mode of fulfilment are works the doing and desert 
of which belong to a few individuals. In other cases there 


has not even been tliis precedent sense of helpless want, but 
the heavy unintelligent opposition of the majority has been 
laboriously overcome by the successful mental effort of a few, 
who have thus given to that majority new aims of action. 
And finally, where individual strength has actually taken up 
the tasks of the age, there has perhaps seldom been an exact 
accomplishment of what the moment required, no more and 
no less ; in most cases there has been added much both of 
good and bad which, extremely effective in itself, yet went 
beyond the immediate need, or was altogether beside it. In 
innumerable cases the anticipated development has been 
interrupted ; the skilful calculation of far-seeing minds has 
often been perverted by some strong tide of feeling from its 
original purpose, and for long periods been used for artful 
ends. Modes of thought which under appropriate conditions 
were adopted by men of genius, have withstood progress for 
centuries with incredible tenacity. Forms of art worked out 
by great minds, but not of universal validity, have continued 
to maintain their predominance when they had become out of 
harmony with the altered dispositions of mankind ; and even 
in science inherited errors drag on like a slow disease. What 
we can thus observe now in history we would also claim as 
explanatory of its beginnings. It is of course true that all 
men had in early times similar capacities and wants, but all 
did not take an equal share in satisfying human impulses; the 
germs of civilisation did not, like the upward growth of a 
young forest, shoot forth simultaneously over wide extents 
with organic necessity and regularity, but the wandering, 
incapable, uninventive impulse of the whole was indebted to 
individual happy strokes of genius for its first distinct ideals 
and the first satisfactions which paved the way of its advance. 
Meanwhile this influence of persons no doubt varies in 
magnitude in different domains of human activity, and accord- 
ing to the divergent characters of different periods and the 
multiplicity of conditions on which may depend the action 
and reaction between individual force and the mass of man- 
kind. It is dependence upon Nature which most universally 




rouses the inventive ingenuity of men, and the thoughts 
which here help them to obtain what is most necessary arise 
from such simple combinations of ordinary experiences that 
the elementary furniture which we find among the most 
different peoples — weapons, implements, woven stuff, and 
ornaments — is easily intelligible as the production of a general 
instinct without any special invention by individuals. But 
all those higher and more refined aids which have led to a 
more productive command over Nature, are connected with the 
names of individual discoverers ; between its first beginnings 
and the period of universally diffused culture to which we 
are perhaps approaching, life has in this respect too had its 
age of heroes. And as in other departments so here also 
there is a gradual transition from one stage to the other. 
When any sphere of thought (as for instance Natural Science 
in the present day) has reached a grade of development which 
furnishes not only innumerable factual items of knowledge, 
but also general forms of investigation and clear indications of 
the regions in which answers to yet unsolved riddles must be 
sought, then the current of inquiry once set in motion pro- 
duces in swift succession a multitude of useful inventions, 
which seem to spring from the general mind. This seems to 
be the case, because the multitude of individuals actively 
interested, and the vigorous action and reaction between them, 
throws into the background the particular contribution of each 
several person. Further, the general laws which science shows 
to be at the foundation of the vast commerce of modern 
times, are familiar to every one in their application to the 
simple relations of ordinary everyday life ; the ill results of 
acting in opposition to them are so obvious in the case of 
individuals, that a great number of slight modifications of a 
man's course of action are the immediate result of any un- 
successful attempt on his part to contravene them. Thus 
it seems that the whole system of our arrangements for the 
satisfaction of men's wants goes on improving progressively 
by its own inherent force, and without needing to be pioneered 
by the inventions of individuals. Nevertheless these laws. 



like all simple truths, become hard to trace when with increas- 
ing intercourse they have to be applied to a group of relationa 
which are very numerous, and perhaps themselves either 
unknown or modifying one another after an unknown fashion. 
To have shown that these laws are valid, and how they are 
valid, even under such circumstances, is unquestionably a great 
achievement of science, and it has not been accomplished 
without help from the creative genius of individual persons. ^ 
The arrangements of social and political life have also passed 
through the two stages of development which we are here 
distinguishing. The universal homogeneity of human nature 
and its wants no doubt lead in the first place with uninventive j^ 

necessity to rules of intercourse which develop in the same 
way and succeed one another in the same order everywhere. 
But even if the purely indigenous development of a society 
could be left altogether to the organic interaction of its own 
individual forces, the political guidance of the society under 
difficult external conditions, and the choice of the right path 
at the right moment, would be always dependent upon the ■/ -I 
wisdom or folly of individual men. Hence it was that 
antiquity always set at the beginning of its political histories ^ — 
the name of some individual lawgiver, not that they might 
derive from the individual power of some master-mind, the 
first foundation of order — since this indeed could of necessity 
only be developed by means of the reciprocal action of a 
number — but that they might derive thence the first firm 
consolidation of that order, and such accommodation as had 
been arrived at, of difficulties occurring in the application of 
law to concrete cases. We scarcely need to add in conclusion, 
that though often ill-defined forms of enthusiasm seem to be 
of obscure origin, yet this is not the case with religions, which I ^r— - 
never appear in history without some founder ; here too it 
falls to the concentrated strength of individual minds to 
satisfy wants which under similar circumstances are always 
alike among the homogeneous masses of mankind. 

The incalculableness with which, for human eyes at least, /_- 

individual greatness influences history may seem to threaten 


the logical consistency of all historical development, and to 
reduce it to a continual fluctuation in different directions. 
_t/ Yet any personal power requires for its efficacy the receptivity 
of the masses ; the want of this or the presence of a hostile 
disposition prevents the working out both of all the good and of 
all the bad effects which a remarkable mind tends to produce, 
and prevents likewise the realization of all the good exclusively, 
or all the bad exclusively ; this is, of course, especially the case 
with respect to anything which is in opposition to the require- 
ments of the hour, or foreign to them. The more active the 
reciprocal contact of men in society is, and the more intricate 
their exchange of thought, and the larger the bodies of men 
are among whom this contact and this exchange of thought 
prevail, the more are those circumstances changed by which 
the influence of individuals is conditioned. The scene of their 
possible action is certainly enlarged, but the probable magni- 
tude of their influence is decreased with regard to all that is 
not a direct continuation or fulfilment of projects already 
begun and wants already felt. For it is only where this is 
the case that a man can reckon upon the collective strength 
of a public opinion and sentiment which has already taken 
into consideration all possible circumstances of life, and made 
up its mind about them somehow, and which is not likely to 
let itself be easily detached as it were from the soil to which 
it clings by so many roots, and carried away by the arbitrary 
will of a single individual into some new order of develop- 
ment. Thus as the ascendency of leading characters seems, 
even on an external view of history, to disappear as their 
number multiplies, there arises a general activity of stimu- 
lating and stimulated elements, presenting the appearance of 
organic growth. 

§ 5. Now the more the wholly incalculable disturbances 
caused by free individual minds are in the end outbalanced 
by the opposing invariableness of that human nature which 
always remains the same, and those conditions of earthly life 
which are always alike, the more are we entitled to inquire 
for universal laws to which the historical course of things is 


^uliordinated. ' The assumption of their existence is not j 
incompatible with the idea of a plan by which history is i 
guided. For though such a plan presupposes a unity of 
history, involving the condition that each member of the 
whole series can occur but once, and that no two are inter- 
changeable, yet it may be that the above-mentioned similarity 
between all the subjects of human history, and the parallelism 
between the forces operating upon them, may produce resem- 
blances between the course of one individual stage of develop- 
ment and another, while if we take the whole series we find 
that these resemblances are gradually repeated on higher and 
higher levels, and are thus really specially distinguished one 
from another. However, the attempt to mark out these 
resemblances according to general historical laws is very much 
impeded by the difficulty of determining the transforming 
influence which the peculiarity of each member of the series 
has on the course which we should expect to be taken by 
those events with which he is connected, if we were guided 
by the analogy of other examples. Hence, though history is 
so much extolled as the teacher of men, but little use is made 
by men of its teachings. Every age thinks that it must 
regard the peculiarities of its wants and its position as new 
conditions which abrogate the applicability of those general 
points of view that are due to the reflection of previous ages. 
And, indeed, many historical laws which have been spoken of 
liX| are of very doubtful validity, and are hardly transferable from 
'^" one period to another. They are often only applicable when 
all the conditions of the individual case from which they have 
Mt been abstracted are restored ; and when that is done they 
cease to be laws, and become mere descriptions of that which 
has happened under certain circumstances, and which we are 
by no means justified in expecting to happen again under 
^P similar circumstances. This inexactness appears in all cases 
in which people, without being able to go back to the separate 
effective elements of a complex event, attempt merely to 
discover the final outcome of the course of events, by a com- 
■ parison of experiences in the gross; the inexactness can only 


be avoided in these cases in the same way as in other cases! 
We want a Social Mechanics which can enlarge psychology 
beyond the boundaries of the individual, and teach us to know 
the course, the conditions, and the results of those actions and 
reactions which must take place between the inner states of 
many individuals, bound together by natural and social 
relations. Such a psychology would furnish us, for the first 
time, not with graphic pictures of individual stages of historic 
development and of the succession of the different stages, but 
with rules which would enable us to compute the future from 
the conditions of the present ; or to speak more exactly, not 
the future from the present, but a later past from an earlier 
past. For even in the construction of ideals it is best not 
to be exalted above measure ; we shall never bring any such 
mechanics to so great perfection as to be able by it to sway 
the future ; it will be enough if it enable us to explain the 
concatenation of past occurrences when they have occurred, 
and if with reference to the future it establish probabilities, 
action in accordance with which is wiser than any other 

Now it is natural that we should first seek to establish the 
rule of such universal laws within short periods, during 
which we may regard the whole sum of conditions upon which 
the course of events depends, and which we cannot analyse 
exhaustively, as an unknown factor which remains almost 
invariable. And here men think they have discovered that it 
is only where our view is bounded by a strictly limited 
horizon that the appearance of freedom and indefiniteness is 
presented to us ; that if in dealing with events, we take large 
numbers and wide surveys, we find that not only does the 
physical life of mankind proceed with well-established regu- 
larity in life and death, in the relative numbers of both 
sexes, and in the increase of population, but that also the 
manifestations of mental life are determined by universal 
laws, even to the number and nature of crimes committed in 
equal spaces of time. Not indeed by immutable laws ; for 
just as there is a slow change in the sum total of unknown] 


circumstances by which events are conditioned, so also there 
is an alteration from time to time in the formula which 
expresses the law of their occurrence. There is nothing, how- 
ever, to prevent our conceiving of these very alterations of 
laws as themselves subject to another and more compre- 
hensive formula, since the changes of that sum total of con- 
ditions on which these laws depend are due almost entirely 
to the effects of those states of human society which 
themselves come and go according to law. If by the 
method of taking large numbers it has been made out at 
what age, on an average, great poets produce their greatest 
work, what is to hinder us from seeking to discover, not only 
how many remarkable men of every kind (expressed either in 
whole numbers or in decimals) appear in every century, but 
also how in the course of thousands of years this proportion 
alters according to some law ? We may easily imagine how in 
this way all kinds of formulae may be arrived at, expressive of 
the acceleration and breadth and depth and colouring of the 
current of historical progress — formulae which if applied to 
particulars would be found to be utterly inexact, but which can 
yet claim to express the true law of history as freed from 
disturbing individual influences. 

Very closely connected with this way of regarding the 
matter is one of the very worst of all the views which banish 
freedom from historical development. That veneration of 
forms instead of content — itself one of the most dangerous 
errors to which our thought is liable — which is vindicated by 
the view alluded to, could not be exaggerated in any more 
senseless way than by the final acceptance of a mere realiza- 
tion of statistic relations as the aim and the informing Idea 
of history. He who, following oriental Pantheism, believes 
not only that he encounters, as a matter of fact, in the order 
of the world, an eternal alternation of genesis and dissolution, 
but thinks that he may also regard this form of occurrence as 
being itself the most profound meaning and the true secret of 
K reality — he can at least give himself up with misty feelings 
■ of enthusiasm to the awful and exalted pleasure which the 



thought of such a course of events produces in us. He who 
after any other fashion believes that he finds in history nothing 
but the rule of an iron necessity, must hold that this is in 
itself full of meaning ; he seeks to find this meaning in some 
kind or other of justice, according to which the content and 
nature of any condition of things being what they are, allow and 
demand the effect which takes place. To such a concatenation 
in thought, the motives of which at least are reasonable, the 
mind may conceivably sacrifice the idea of its own freedom il 
it finds in this scheme no place for it. But on the other 
haud, it would be an instance of unparalleled perversity to see 
the guiding ideals of the order of the world in the establishment 
of regular numerical relations, or in the fact that events happen 
in accordance with such relations. And yet here I am not alto- 
gether beating the air, and my fear that even this attempt — the 
attempt to make us thus believe in such " shadows in the cloud " 
and nothing else — will be essayed, is not quite without founda- 
tion. For we do actually meet, not infrequently, with what 
is the beginning of this very error. It is with some pride, 
and not without something of the thrill of awe which may 
accompany the discovery of an ultimate mystery, that people 
caricature careful investigations (the value of which we do 
not depreciate), declaring that the tale of yearly crime is 
paid by mankind with greater regularity than that of govern- 
mental imposts. It is plain that in saying this they think 
they have affirmed not a mere fact resulting from unknown 
conditions and changing as these change, but a fundamental 
law which with mysterious power can always find the means 
of its realization, and work itself out whatever may be the 
opposition of unfavourable circumstances. 

This erroneous view will indeed hardly be put forth as a 
doctrinal assertion concerning the meaning pf history ; but it 
secretly disturbs just judgment in the matter by causing a 
confusion of thought, and this the more easily because it is 
not equally wrong with regard to all departments of events. 
For among those phsenomena of human life which show such 
regularity in their recurrence, we may certainly regard some 


as being subordinate ends of the cosmic order, oi merely 
means to tlie realization of higher ends, and that will hold of 
them, to a certain extent, which we denied to be of universal 
validity. Most of such phsenomena, however, may be com- 
pared to the impeding friction which, though it is no part of 
the designed performance of a machine, must yet always bear 
a certain determinate proportion to the size of the machine as 
long as the work of this can only be accomplished by 
mechanical means. But it is worth while to investigate a 
little further the insignificance of the extent to which this 
additional determination does away with existing difficulties. 

The equality of numbers of the two sexes may certainly be 
reckoned among those arrangements of Nature in which we 
see means designed for the attainment of the higher ends of 
life. But as even the causes are unknown which in any 
particular case determine the sex of the child, so, much more,, 
are those circumstances unknown which determine these 
causes (that lead to different effects in the different cases) in 
such a way as to obtain the unvarying gross result. The 
logical rule which directs us to anticipate that diverse possi- 
bilities, when there is no actual reason why one should occur 
more frequently than the others, will all be realized with 
equal frequency in the future, is no doubt for us a necessary 
subjective maxim — and we have to regulate our belief in the 
probable future occurrence of these cases by this maxim, for 
Ij^^; the sake of practical ends ; but it contains no shadow of 
explanation concerning the mechanism of those conditions by 
which the equal frequency of two events is really brought 
about in the cases in which it happens. And we get no help 
from our general presupposition that the very possibility of 
all reaction is based upon an essential and inherent con- 
nection between all existing things. This presupposition 
does indeed provide us with a general formal reason for 
expecting that anything which happens in one part of the 
world will react in accordance with some law on every other 
part thereof; but — just because it seems so unquestionable that 
all things in the universe are connected with one another — we 





only remain all the more at a loss to explain the particular 
and favoured connections which are closer and more effective 
between some portions of the world than between others, and 
upon the presence of which each individual determinate event 
must depend. It therefore continues quite obscure by what 
determinate arrangements mankind comes to form a complete 
whole of such a kind that a preponderance of one sex which 
has accidentally happened here, calls forth there, simul- 
taneously or subsequently, a counterbalancing increase of the 
other sex, the external conditions of life being so very dis- 
similar, and we being entirely destitute of any idea of how 
the necessary action and reaction could take place. And yet 
not only does the fact exist, but we are doubtless justified in 
considering that in it (if in any case whatever) one of Nature's 
ends is attained^an end for the fulfilment of which pre- 
ordained means will not be wanting. 

The course of the spiritual life of society is still more 
obscure. "We believe that from the number of actions of a 
particular kind observed in a certain period which has just 
elapsed, we can conclude to a certain number of similar actions 
in an immediately succeeding period of equal length, only 
because the sum total of natural and social conditions, upon 
which they depended in the former case, alter but slowly, and 
in short periods imperceptibly. But where such change occurs 
spasmodically, we do not expect that a forecast made in reli- 
ance upon the past will be applicable. Still this caution does 
not remove all difficulty. Even the modified statement would 
be fully justified only if we could regard the sum of unknown 
conditions as a compelling force which would itself command 
a definite result in a definite time ; which further, finding the 
total resistance opposed to it to hold always a similar relation 
to its own magnitude, would be capable of exercising in 
every unit of time one and the same fraction of its energy ; 
which could then moreover always make actual use of this 
capacity by ever seeking and finding, like the pressure of a 
compressed fluid, the points of non-resistance, wherever those 
may be ; and which finally, for every portion of the result 


already produced would lose a corresponding portion of its 
potential energy. Now in the case before us, how many ol" 
these conditions are given ? 

Let us take as an example offences against property. The 
evils of the existing distribution of goods in a society have 
active force only in as far as their pressure is felt. If then 
we make not poverty but the feeling of want our point of 
departure, can we say of this active force that there corre- 
sponds to it as its natural effect a certain number of thefts 
without any regard to the total amount of unlawful gain ? If 
it further happened that in a certain condition of civilisation, 
this power always encountered equal resistance, what would 
be the explanation of the fact that it always finds for its 
exercise the same number of favourable opportunities, and 
that these should always be presented to persons incapable of 
resisting them ? If, on the other hand, we suppose that there 
always occur a great many more opportunities than are taken 
advantage of, and that the numbers of those accessible to 
temptation are equally in excess of those who actually offend, 
it becomes only the more difficult to understand how the 
number of offences already committed can so restrict the 
number of those yet to come as to cause the attainment of a 
definite sum total. So the connection of events which pro- 
duces uniformity in the numbers of such actions, is altogether 
unknown to us. 

Just as little are we satisfied by the numerous attempts to 
make the validity of such laws harmonize with individual 
freedom of will. If (as has been done) we regard the com- 
mission of a certain number of offences as an inevitable neces- 
sity imposed upon society, it does not help us at all to add 
that this necessity only necessitates the actions but does not 
predetermine the agents. If human freedom cannot get rid 
of the sum total of offences, the fact that the particular agents 
are not predetermined does not leave individuals free — the only 
thing that still remains doubtful is, whose unfreedom will be 
taken advantage of next ? It has been said that if an insect 
were to creep over any part of the circumference of a circle 


drawn with chalk, it would see all round it nothing but 
irregularly distributed molecules of chalk, though for an eye 
that took these in all at once, from some distance, they would 
be arranged in the regular definite order of a circle. If these 
dots were beings endowed with souls, it might be imagined 
that taken separately they had scope for free choice of their 
position in the circle, while taken altogether they were bound 
to contribute to the formation of a predetermined outline. 
We reply that if an orderly arrangement of many elements 
actually exists (for the circle has been drawn), it is indeed 
easily intelligible that this arrangement can only be fully 
taken in from particular points of view. But the unorder of 
the elements when looked at from other points of view, is not 
by any means the same thing as the freedom of those 
elements. All those dots of chalk are perfectly fixed in such 
relations as are necessary for the structure of the whole ; they 
all lie in a narrow ring-shaped zone confined both internally 
and externally by a bounding line that has no breadth. How 
they are grouped within this zone is, as regards the form of 
the whole, to a certain extent indifferent, and it is just to the 
extent of this indifference that they are indeterminate. Kow 
if the dots were living beings, this comparison would only 
teach the simple truth that they had freedom of action in 
those directions in which nothing had been fixed by general 
laws ; thus if it chanced that such a law required in any 
society a certain number of thefts, the agents would be free 
'lot with regard to their thievish resolutions, but with regard 
to whether for instance their thievish exploits should be 
accomplished on horseback or on foot. 

The dislike with which we hear of laws of psychic life, 
whilst we do not hesitate to regard bodily life as subordinate 
to its own laws, arises partly because we require too nmch 
from our own freedom of will, partly because we let ourselves 
be too much imposed upon by those laws. If we do not find 
ourselves involved in the declared struggle between freedom 
and necessity, we are by no means averse to regarding the 
actions of men as determined by circumstances ; in fact all 


expectation of good from education and all the work of history 
are based upon the conviction that the will may be influenced by 
growth of insight, by ennoblement of feeling, and by improve- 
ment of the external conditions of life. On the other side, 
a consideration of freedom itself would teach us that the very 
notion is repugnant to common sense if it does not include 
susceptibility to the worth of motives, and that the freedom of 
willing can by no means signify absolute capacity of carrying 
out what is willed — either of the carrying it out in conflict with 
the obstructions of the external world, or of that other and 
internal carrying out by which the will suppresses the oppos- 
ing movements of the passions. Therefore not only the 
possible objects of men's endeavours, not only an idea of the 
means to their attainment, are suggested to the mind by a 
number of stimuli involved in the culture of the individual 
and of society, but also that effective strength of the free will by 
which it withdraws itself from being determined by passionate 
impulses, is dependent upon the collective culture of society. 
Hence there would certainly be no irreconcilable contradiction 
between the assumption of freedom of will and the other 
assumption that the sum of active conditions which operate 
in any given state of society, hinder to a certain degree the 
effectiveness of all free action, and produce a pretty uniform 
amount of mere instinctive action. 

flB It would notwithstanding still be wholly incredible that the 
struggle of will and moral consciousness against all these 
obstructive elements should be as exactly predetermined with 
regard to its result as those statistical laws indicate. For the 

'■P fact is that these laws do not measure at all that which we 
should expect to be so predetermined. Such laws originating 
for example in a comparison of tried and sentenced offences 
presuppose that the number of crimes which become known 
B bear an unvarying relation to the whole number of those com- 
mitted, and of this primary assumption no proof that is by 
any means cogent is possible ; indeed, if they are designed to 
prove anything with regard to human freedom, they must 


just as constant a relation to the number of tliose which have 
been resolved upon or prevented, or have miscarried, and 
indeed to the wliole multitude of m.ore or less serious tempta- 
tions that have arisen in the recesses of men's minds. Not 
only do they not do this, but deeds of murder and man- 
slaughter being counted by the hundred, there are grouped 
together under those class-names cases of the most various 
degrees of moral turpitude, the mere number being no criterion 
of the sum of evil committed in a given time by a given 
society in any direction. Only that such evil being a kind 
of friction inseparable from the life and progress of society, 
we may assume this sum to be connected by some definite 
law with the amount of movement in any society ; but this 
would by no means hold of the mere number of cases in which 
the incidental ill effect takes tangible form under definite heads 
of crime. Therefore even if the constancy of this number 
should be confirmed by a fresh appeal to experience, we should 
still have to regard it as a fact of which we do not compre- 
hend either the mode of production or the significance ; we 
should never think of regarding it as an historical law in the 
sense of a predetermination of that which is to be. However 
the fresh appeal itself (which has been quite recently made) 
convinces us of the extreme overhastiness with which the 
statistical myth has been built up from deductions which 
cannot be relied upon. We have yet to obtain from exacter 
investigations the true material for more trustworthy conclu- 
sions — material which should take the place of the statistical 
myth above referred to. 

I 6. The investigations of which we have been speaking 
referred only to limited periods of time. The succession of 
longer periods markedly different in historical features has 
seemed to reveal not less definite laws, which I may here pass 
over more briefly. They are of interest only in as far as they 
have reference to the individual tendencies of human life, 
which we shall have to consider later ; the more widely they 
attempt to formulate the progress of humanity, the less real 
explanation do they generally contain. Thus one man talks 



of a law of uniformity in development, another of its sharp 
contrasts ; others prefer the trinity of thesis, antithesis, and 
synthesis. It seems clear that all these are not modes of 
occurrence to which events are bound to conform, as if there 
were in the mere forms themselves something which it were 
worth while to realize. Eather in as far as they have any 
real existence, they are ultimate forms which appear as social 
action and reaction progresses, from causes for which we have 
yet to seek. If we attempt this search we shall find that the 
significance of such laws is partly very unimportant and 
partly not of demonstrable universality. Thus it seems hardly 
worth while to decorate with the name of a law of uniformity 
the very simple observation that the culture of a later period 
is commonly a further development of the impulses received 
from preceding periods ; at the most it is only useful as 
emphasizing briefly the limiting condition to be found in the 
fact that the actual transmission of what already exists must 
precede further development. For historical progress is not 
(as people sometimes fancy) to be compared to a miasma that 
hovers in the air and seizes humanity unawares, either all 
mankind simultaneously, or particular sections by turns ; it 
has always taken place only within that narrow circle where 
favourable circumstances permit the regular transmission of 
attained civilisation, and of efforts directed to the relief of 
permanent wants ; and it has only spread as far and wide as 
geographical conditions, accessibility of countries, facility of 
communication, density of population, and multifarious inter- 
course between men in war or peace have given occasion. 

The law of contrast that people sometimes, without any 
difficulty, allow to have validity at the same time as the law 
of uniformity, without drawing any boundary line between 
the conflicting claims of both, is not less simple. Speaking 
broadly, it only applies where simple forms of life, which in 
themselves admit of unbroken uniformity of existence, are in 
any way disturbed, and men's minds have become agitated by 
the longing for new satisfactions. Then their inventive power 
produces peculiar forms of civilisation, corresponding to the 


momentary wants of the people and the mental temper of 
the time, without satisfying in an equal degree all the 
wants of human nature. The longer and the more fully 
any such characteristic civilisation has stirred up, satisfied, 
and exhausted all the receptivity towards it of which men's 
minds were capable, and the more widely it has set its stamp 
upon all external social relations and customs of life, the 
more sensibly do men feel the pressure of its one-sidedness ; 
and the more vigorously do there come into prominence 
those spiritual pretensions (still fresh and unsatisfied, and 
seeking to impose a different mode of life) which this one- 
sidedness had forced into the background. But the articu- 
lation of any civilisation of long standing forms a whole 
that is too far-spreading and too widely rooted for newly 
arisen tendencies to overcome it in all points, and to set 
up easily in opposition to it a new and different and 
consistent philosophy. Generally the influence of such new 
tendencies is disintegrating and destructive ; it is only after 
a long interval that a new system is established — a system 
that is not now the opposite of that which preceded it, 
because the time that has elapsed between the two baa 
smoothed down the more extreme contradictions. In refer- 
ence to individual departments of life we see more clearly 
the need of change which impels the human mind not 
only to continual removal of narrow and one-sided arrange- 
ments, but also to an aversion for truths that have grown 
old. As one gets tired of a good garment that one has 
been wearing for a considerable time, and finds that another 
which has been long laid by seems to have a wonderful 
charm of restored novelty, so the satiation of one side of 
our spiritual nature produces a burning thirst for just as 
one-sided satisfaction in another direction; and not only so, 
but there comes in addition a general inclination for para- 
doxical return to long-forgotten standpoints, and thus moods 
and opinions are kept in a continual state of fluctuation. 
Steady development belongs almost exclusively to those 
sciences which are capable of practical application in 


ministering to our wants, and in which unrestricted change 
of " modes of thought and points of view " would produce 
painful consequences. On the other hand, men's views of life, 
the tone of society, artistic ideals, opinions concerning what 
is supernatural, views of history, taste in the enjoyment of 
Nature, and forms of religious worship — all these are subject 
to the influence of constantly changing moods — sentimentality 
or noisy activity, prophetic enthusiasm or realistic modera- 
tion ; and it often seems as though the most profound 
penetration were shown in seeking the truth just where no 
one suspects it, that is in errors which the previous genera- 
tion had succeeded in refuting. Thus there arises the 
alternation of characteristic forms of civilisation in history, 
and thus we understand how it comes to pass that in the 
course of progress not all the several charms of life, on the 
exclusive development of which earlier times may have 
expended their whole strength, can be preserved and handed 
down in equal vigour ; on the contrary, they often have to 
be sacrificed altogether to other requirements of human 
destiny, on which succeeding times rightly lay stress. This 
surrender of previous gains is explicable to us as a result 
of human weakness ; that it is not merely a partial failure 
of historical progress, but also an essential feature in the 
course that this progress must take, according to its very 
meaning, is an assertion which we can only regard as 
resulting from that perversion of thought, which undertakes 
to justify everything that actually exists. 

More strange is it that not only the forms of civilisation but 
also the torch-bearers of civilisation change as history goes on. 
Not only are mankind as a whole never found moving forward 
together at the same stage of progress, but also the nations — at 
least those of antiquity — which have blossomed into civilisation 
have without exception sunk back from the summit they had 
reached to varying depths of barbarism and commonplace. 
Men are certainly in too great haste if they found upon these 
facts the historical law that each nation, like each individual, 
has its life, in which strength first increases and then decreaf^es; 



nnd it is still worse if, supported by this comparison, tliey 
venture to pronounce sentence on the future of nations which, 
having passed through some phase of their culture, are seen to 
be making new and tentative efforts. It is not clear either 
what reasonable signification this growing old of nations can 
have for the plan of history, nor what is the inner connection 
by which, as a mere matter of fact, it is universally brought 
about. Since in an individual man it is one and the same 
organism to which must be referred all impressions from with- 
out, and all reactions of its own activity, we can understand 
how in such a case there may be certain relations between the 
actin<T and reacting parts which would necessarily make that 
summation of experienced states result in the gradual alteration 
and disintegration of him who is the subject of them. But 
why the vital strength of a nation cannot always remain 
vigorous seems from this consideration only the more 
obscure ; and certainly it does remain vigorous in those who 
for centuries have gone on in the monotony of some simple 
civilisation. The growing old of nations is plainly not 
included in the idea of a people as a predetermined necessity 
of development ; and where it takes place it is the result of 
particular conditions of life, due not only to the peculiarity of 
the stage of civilisation which has been arrived at, but also in 
part to external circumstances. Nature strives to furnish 
afresh each new generation with the old capacities of the race, 
and ever to present anew vigorous and unspoiled subjects for 
further development. She does not altogether succeed ; 
bodily vigour and mental power may diminish through the 
fault of a dissolute past ; even without such fault, long 
habituation to some definite form of national culture may 
gradually transform the mental dispositions of a people in 
ways which we are unable to trace, and make it difficult to 
find a new equilibrium of healthier conditions of life when the 
internal corruption of that culture works out, and causes its 
disintegration. But nowhere do we find justification for 
assuming that these national diseases are incurable, and that 
\ when one flower has faded a second cannot follow. If the 



natious of antiquity have not fulfilled such a hope, the reason 
was that not only did their culture become disintegrated 
through its own inner deficiencies, but also their national 
integrity was broken up by the destructive conquests of 
enemies more robust than themselves. That any national 
civilisation may flourish, it requires both political power and 
material wealth ; but when the general condition of the 
world does not allow of the reinvigoration of its power, or 
when the opening of new roads of commerce and the 
abandonment of the old ones dries up the previous sources 
of wealth, and innumerable incitements to industry fall 
away, then the nation which any such fate befalls will seem 
to pine and dwindle incurably. Yet it will be capable of 
reviving to fresh life if the wheel of fortune makes a new 
turn favourable to it. 

"We must add to these considerations yet another ques- 
tion concerning the forces operative in history. Shall we 
attribute the similar elements which are found in the 
customs and legends of different nations, to transmission 
from one to the other ; or shall we regard them all as 
indigenous productions which having sprung up anew, again 
and again, have everywhere assumed similar forms on 
account of the essential sameness of human nature ? No 
one will really doubt that, taken broadly, both views are 
to be accepted to some extent ; the real difficulty is where 
to draw the line between the claims of the two. Both 
modes of thought have often tried their strength on one 
particular example, the legend of a flood, which is spread 
far and wide among peoples very remote from one another. 
Eiverside valleys subject to frequent and considerable 
inundations have been the homes of all the earliest 
civilisations ; nothing could seem more natural than that this 
supreme danger threatened by the elements should be every- 
where recorded in national legends. It is not quite so 
easy to explain, without supposing transmission, the great, 
although not absolutely uniform, similarity of the particular 
details with which legend fills in the history of the occur- 



rence; hence people have been inclined to believe in a 
common origin of the different Asiatic accounts, and to 
assume that these were subsequently varied. But the 
American Indians, too, relate the same story ; it was sur- 
prising to find that in one of their legends, Tespi — the man 
who was saved from the flood like Noah — when the waters 
begin to abate, sends forth first a bird of prey ; this bird 
does not return, because it is feasting on the dead bodies 
of the drowned ; then Tespi sends out other birds which also 
do not return; it is only the humming-bird that comes back 
with a leafy branch. The correspondence is striking enough 
to make one suspect communication, perhaps at a very late 
date ; but at the same time the whole character of the 
legend is so thoroughly Indian that its being of native 
growth is not in the least improbable, and if chronology 
would permit we should perhaps be more inclined to think 
of Indian traditions having influenced the Mosaic account 
than of the converse having happened. So it stiU does not 
seem improbable that even such striking coincidences may 
have arisen independently in many unconnected mythologies. 
And yet I confess that I regard with mistrust the unre- 
stricted generalization of this way of judging. It is true that 
the natural surroundings of all nations are pretty much the 
same ; but it does not follow so clearly that the impressions 
produced by them must, on account of the sameness of men's 
mental nature, everywhere lead to the same estimation of 
events, to the same trains of thought, and, finally, to the 
employment of similar artistic and figurative expressions. 
The points of view from which men, notwithstanding their 
human likeness, may regard Nature are manifold enough ; the 
possible impressions produced by the same event may vary 
infinitely with mood and circumstances ; the direction which 
may be taken by the course of thought that they stir up is 
incalculable ; every correspondence that goes beyond the most 
inevitable deductions from facts seems always to require an 
individual proof of having arisen without communication or 
transmission. Appeal has indeed been made to general 


psychological laws in accordance with which the impression 
produced by facts, the reflection following the impression, and 
the final expression by figure and comparison, must be con- 
nected together ; it has been attempted to interpret the course 
of all human fancy by a kind of general symbolism supposed 
to produce similar embodiments of similar thoughts in the 
most diverse mythologies ; but here too the question recurs, 
Are we not, in the cases which this assumption seems to 
confirm, mistaking the effect of secret transmission for a proof 
of independent correspondence ? 

The general scope of tradition in history is diflBcult to 
estimate. The very existence of complete and flourishing 
civilisations is forgotten in lands which were their home, and 
only a fragmentary remembrance of them preserved in the 
records of neighbouring nations, and for us great spaces of 
past time are wholly blank. On the other hand, isolated 
features (neither the most important nor the most common) of 
earlier civilisations have been saved amid the general wreck, 
and reappear among the most different nations. Our nursery 
tales contain echoes from the very earliest antiquity ; the same 
fables that exercise our own reflection in youth were once 
told in India and Persia and Greece ; many popular super- 
stitions of to-day have their root in heathendom. With 
regard to much of this we know how it has been preserved 
and communicated, with regard to much we do not ; and hence 
we not only learn to appreciate the great amount of transmission 
which has gone on imperceptibly, but we also remark that (as 
in all ruins) it is not always that which is the most imposing 
and the strongest and the most coherent that has been pre- 
served, but that very often individual fragments of what was 
I once the common property of mankind — fragments which look 
strange in their isolation — may unquestionably be dispersed 
among the widely differing civilisations of later nations. 





Common Origin of Mankind — Assumption of Plurality of Origin— Variety of 
Mental Endowment — Guidance of Development by External Conditions- 
Geographical and Climatic Furtherances and Hindrances — Examples of 
Peoples in a State of Nature. 

S 1. "rTriSTOEY, in the sense of a coherent development, 
-■-J- connects but few sections of mankind. The west 
of Asia and the seaboard of the Mediterranean were the only 
places in which during thousands of years varying forms of 
civilisation followed one another, each transmitting to its 
successor its own gains and impulses to fresh progress. Out- 
side this focus of civilisation innumerable other nations have 
either gone on living again, century after century, the common 
life of their kind and nothing more, among favourable or 
unfavourable surroundings, or they have perhaps struck out 
particular forms of development, but withoiit connection with 
the favoured nations, and without contributing in any essen- 
tial way to the further progress of these when they came into 
contact. Hence if we take a survey of history, it is pre- 
sented to us not under the image of a single stream embracing 
all mankind and carrying them forward with steady action 
and reaction, though with different velocities, in the same 
direction ; it rather seems to us as though various currents 
flowed from various sources, remaining long without any 
reciprocal influence — until now in our own age all nations 
begin for the first time to be brought within view of one 
another, and the way begins to be prepared for a universal 
reciprocity of action between the different sections of man- 

Even classic antiquity had this impression of the conditioi 



and fate of the human race when political conflicts and the 
curiosity of travellers brought to light upon the narrow stage 
of the then known world many peoples differing widely in 
appearance, language, and customs. In this impression there 
was nothing that seemed strange to the mind of antiquity, to 
which human existence appeared to be merely a production of 
the great mother. Nature, coming forth from her infinity and 
returning to it again ; in the view of antiquity the numerous 
races of men (destined merely for the passing joy of life, and 
not for the accomplishment of tasks of eternal significance) 
may have sprung each from the soil of its native place, with- 
out any original connection, and as manifold witnesses of the 
inexhaustible fertility which Nature displays in her produc- 
tions. It is only where some individual race in the course 
of its social development has acquired a sense of the lasting 
connection of its members, that national tradition seeks to 
strengthen this feeling by the supposition of a common origin; 
but the thought of a comprehensive unity of mankind was so 
far from these times that if two nations were found to have a 
connected origin, it was thought to be quite a discovery, just 
because it could not be in the least presupposed. It was 
Christian civilisation that first developed with decisive clear- 
ness the thought that all nations made part of one whole, and 
that evolved from the concept of the human race the concept 
of humanity, with which we are not accustomed to contrast a 
)rresponding concept of animality. For the name humanity 
Expresses just this, that individual human creatures are not 
lere examples of a universal, but are preordained parts of a 
^hole ; that the changing events of history which men experi- 
Ince are not mere instances of the similarity or dissimilarity 
*of results which spring from similar or dissimilar conditions 
according to the same universal laws of Nature and of life, but 
sections that have their place in a vast coherent providential 
governance of the universe, which between the extreme terms 
ol creation and of judgment allows no part of what happens 
to escape the unity of its purpose. While Christianity 
developed this conviction, it at the same time connected it 



with tlie Hebrew account of man's origin, in whicli early and 
cognate views (strange to classic antiquity and far above it) 
had prevailed, without, however, having got rid of all the 
narrowness of exclusively national conceptions. The wish to 
hold all the numerous races of men together by the bond of 
likeness in kind and species, became intensified to the desire 
to trace back their origin to a single ancestral pair. Even this 
duality seemed to the Mosaic record too wide a beginning ; 
according to this record the mother of the human race came 
forth in a wondrous fashion from the one father of us all, who 
was himself made directly by the hand of God. 

The beauty and religious depth of thought from which 
these representations sprang will never fail of their effect upon 
our mind ; but if the necessary development of human imagina- 
tion involved a representation of the beginning of our exist- 
ence under such figures, then it may be doubtful whether the 
Mosaic picture reveals an historical reality, or whether it can 
only be justified as affording satisfaction to an inevitable 
craving. The doubts which have long assailed this interpre- 
tation of our primitive history justify the brief consideration 
which we now subjoin. 

If the human race has really descended from one pair, what 
moral results would follow from the fact, and at the same 
time become impossible if it were denied ? In the course of 
propagation the splitting up into plurality by which the unity 
is succeeded is as much a fact as the unity itself. Hence as 
long as we are in the habit of making historical facts the 
sources of moral commands, the second fact would bind us to 
divisioB just as much as the first one does to unity, and 
indeed even more so, since the plurality increases as time goes 
on ; and it is the future and not the past in which the theatre, 
or at any rate the objects of our action, are to be found. On 
the other hand, if mankind arose from many unconnected 
beginnings — being however, as it now is, such that the different 
races, endowed with capacities similar yet not altogether the 
same, can only find full development and perfect satisfaction 
through the reciprocal action and reaction of all upon all — even , 



if this were the case, should we not be equally justified in 
assuming that the moral destiny of men must be fulfilled by 
the union of all in one humanity ? Undoubtedly we should : 
men would still be brothers in the same sense in which 
they would in the contrary case ; for since they certainly are 
not brothers in a literal sense, the name signifies merely the 
recognition of that spiritual organization which is given to all 
of us alike, and of the worth of that personality which we 
have to reverence even in its most insignificant form. Accord- 
ing to these facts, which are actual, and in as far as they are 
actual, we have to regulate our conduct ; but we never have to 
regulate it according to uncertain historical circumstances 
which, perhaps have been — the reality of which would not 
in the least increase the imperativeness of our obligations, 
while a successful refutation would necessarily plunge into 
confusion the mind which had based its sense of obligation 
upon them. 

But among the things that have been we deliberately 
reckon that singleness of origin, supposing it to have been a 
fact. The more earnestly we seek the unity of mankind, the 
more must we desire that that which we find should be real 
and living and eternally present ; for him who only seeks it in 
the first pair, the unity must always be something that merely 
has been. For the influence of this unity has nowhere con- 
tinued to operate in history. It has not held mankind 
together, and has neither insured to them as a whole a steady 
common development, nor to the different branches knowledge 
concerning each other; scattered abroad, in parts of the earth's 
surface most remote from one another, the different nations 
have passed their life, each unacquainted with the existence 
of the rest. But, in fact, wherever any of them have early 
come into contact, we find national hatred existing as the 
guardian of national peculiarities which no race is willing to 
sacrifice for the sake of another; the earliest times are filled 
with incessant conflicts of races, even of those whose actual 
relationship could be historically proved ; as one wave of the 
sea makes way for the next, so in this wild tumult one nation 

K sea ] 


after another has been swept away. So little has that assumed 
community of origin worked in the outward destinies of the 
human race ; and it has been just as little active in men's 
feelings. In the most ancient times a foreigner was regarded 
as altogether without rights ; it is only very gradually, and in 
proportion as history gets further and further from the 
beginning, that there are developed ideas of humanity as a 
whole, and of the regard which we owe to its representatives. 

A glance at these facts leads very naturally to the question, 
Should we not place the unity of mankind in the future as an 
end of action to be sought after, rather than seek it in the 
past, where it can never be more than an ineffective and 
ornamental beginning of our existence ? What is it that we 
should lose if we had to sacrifice a unity of beginning which 
subsequent progress has everywhere contradicted ? It cer- 
tainly would not be difficult for poetic fancy to imagine a 
chain of events which would exhibit man's original lapse from 
unity as a significant part of some secret purpose in the 
divine governance. But while we fully admit the worth of 
the religious thoughts that can be embodied in such represen- 
tation, we should yet, when they are put forward as history, 
require proof of their truth independent of the proof of their 

The assumption of originally distinct races of men, 
differing mentally as well as in bodily formation, each 
arising in a region suited to it and attaining the kind and 
degree of civilisation which its capacities made possible, has 
not unfrequently been opposed to the theory of mankind's 
original unity as corresponding more naturally with the 
view which history presents to us. This assumption has 
been set forth in various forms, of which each has its special 

It has been found necessary, in the first place, to dis- 
tinguish two great families of mankind, the active family 
of white men and the passive family of coloured men. It 
is supposed that the latter, dreamily patient and inert, loving 
home and inaction, possess nothing of the ever active 



inventive restlessness which is the heritage of the white 
race ; that it is this latter race alone which, impelled by the 
spirit of progress, has spread over the world in all directions, 
stirring up, educating, subduing, and supplying the sluggish- 
ness of the coloured nations with germs of civilisation whicli 
they would have been incapable of producing themselves. 
Indeed, the latter have been compared to the monocotyledons 
of the vegetable kingdom, those grasses and reeds which 
growing in countless multitudes give a green hue to un- 
interesting landscapes, with their monotonous luxuriance ; 
the white races, on the other hand, which alone produce 
individuals of historic importance, who are of account taken 
separately, are compared to the class of dicotyledons which, 
and which only, produces trees with their picturesque indi- 
vidual forms. How easily this comparison — by reference 
to the vast pine forests of the North and the isolated palms 
of the South — might be so elaborated as to give it quite 
another meaning ! We should learn that the external con- 
ditions of habitat and climate may degrade even dicotyledons 
to a homogeneous crowd that is counted only by thousands, 
and that even monocotyledons may under a favouring sky 
develop to forms which excite our admiration. Though we 
may, however, admit provisionally that this bifurcate view, 
without being applicable in detail, yet expresses on the whole 
a real historical fact, still we consider that it is illogical 
if it thinks that it can hold fast the unity of the human 
race, while it separates a branch db initio useless from the 
only fertile one, by a chasm greater than that which generally 
exists in Nature between two species of the same genus, 
supposing neither of these species to have been influenced 
by culture and discipline. 

According to another and more self-consistent theory which 
gives up the bond of a common origin, the different families 
of men sprang up independently of one another at different 
spots on the earth's surface ; besides the Caucasians perhaps 
only the Mongolian race being indigenous to Central Asia, 
whilst burning Africa produced the Black man, and America 


fostered the Red man from the first, the islands and coast 
lands of the South Sea and the Pacific Ocean having been 
gradually peopled from some unknown centre in the neigh- 
bourhood of the Sunda Islands. This view again has, so 
far, neither been able to prevail, nor have others prevailed 
over it, it has not even succeeded in defining exactly the 
content of its own doctrine. For neither has it been con- 
clusively shown that the different races could not have sprung 
from one root, nor are the difficulties which stand in the 
way of a wide diffusion of mankind while yet in a help- 
less condition, so great as to prove the necessity of the 
isolated origin of each nation in its own native place. On 
the contrary, there still come within our experience many 
facts which establish the possibility of migrations to great 
distances by land and sea, even under the most unfavourable 
circumstances. But on the other hand, there are wanting 
a sufficient number of clear indications concerning the actual 
process by which mankind was divided into unlike sections, 
and concerning the paths by which they were actually dis- 
persed over the earth. There seems so far no prospect of 
the discovery of one single primal language ; the similar 
elements of civilisation which are found among nations 
separated by great distances from one another may indeed 
to some extent point to early intercourse and communication 
of thought, but cannot prove the common origin of those 
between whom the intercourse took place. Eeasons and 
counter-reasons being so evenly balanced, it must be left 
for the future to decide whether the assertion of an inde- 
pendent origin of different races deserves to be accepted ; 
on the other hand, however, the content of the assertion 
itself has remained hitherto somewhat indefinite, on account 
of the uncertainty which exists as to the number of primitive 
races which should be assumed, as to the way in which 
these became mixed, and as to the degeneration which 
occurs to a limited extent. The choice of the five races 
above referred to, was perhaps arbitrary ; it is possible that 
others may have just as much right to be brought forward ; 


and it is just as arbitrary to consider, as this view generally 
does, that the appearance of the different races should be 
conceived of as an almost simultaneous creation of all 
mankind ; it may be rather the case that each race belongs 
to a particular geological period. If this were so, those 
which we know may have been preceded in the very earliest 
ages by many others of which we know nothing, either 
because they have left no traces behind them, or because 
the monuments which testify to their existence are buried 
in the soil of the great continents of Asia and Africa, 
the palaeontological investigation of which has hardly yet 
begun. The present state of science does not allow of any 
decisive judgment on these matters ; our views are kept in 
a state of continual fluctuation by unexpected discoveries 
which throng one upon the other, and which we shall not 
be able to interpret with certainty until their increased 
number has made their connection clearer. Sometimes we 
seem to get glimpses of an immense vista rousing vague 
anticipations, extending to prehistoric times of our species 
of which we have at present no knowledge ; sometimes 
these avenues through which we had had a glimpse seem 
to shut again, and the far-reaching views which they opened 
before us, close in, leaving nothing but representations of 
trivial events that have taken place within the short historical 
■period which we know. At such times it is useless to 
insist upon having, at any price, some decisive answer; the 
only thing that is of use is to look steadily at the various 
possibilities, and to forecast the consequences which a future 
onfirmation of any one of them would have for our philosophy 
as a whole. 

This we have attempted, and though we believe wo have 
ascertained that the original unity of the human race is 
I «^not one of those thoughts the truth of which is necessary 
I for the satisfaction of our soul, on the other hand we by 
I no means share the hostile feeling that we so often see 
I IP displayed in disputing this unity, which after all may possibly 
be a fact. Mankind would really lose nothing whatever 


by the establishment of the one -origin view, in which (though 
it is by no means indispensable) long ages have believed 
and rejoiced ; and just as little would they gain anything 
if by proving their dispersed and plural origin their fate 
should be externally assimilated more closely to that of the 
grass of the field, the blades of which we cannot count so 
as to form a unity. We cannot share, we can only under- 
stand, that hostility ; it will very naturally arise wherever 
a mistaken zeal for certain forms of conception (in which 
religious truth is supposed exclusively to reside) attempts 
to settle without reference to the verdict of science, certain 
questions which ought undoubtedly to be submitted to 
scientific judgment guided by observation. This zeal, while 
it injures science, gains no advantage for itself; for since it 
cannot avert the coming results of investigation, it will at 
last find itself in the disagreeable position of having to 
regulate its faith according to the discoveries of the hour. 
It would escape this fate if it were more clearly conscious 
at the outset that the real treasures of faith are independent 
of any special forms of the historical course of events, and 
above all cannot be exclusively attached to any one form 
in particular. 

§ 2. With the assumption of a plural origin of mankind 
is commonly combined the other assumption of original 
differences of endowment of the different races. This com- 
bination finds special contradiction in a view which, without 
caring about the original unity of mankind historically 
considered, believes that it must hold fast the unity of kind 
and the original equality of all men's capacity for civilisa- 
tion. According to this view, to trace back the varieties of 
development which individual nations have experienced to 
innate and permanent differences of their bodily and mental 
organization is, as it were, a shortening of the arm of science, 
the business of which rather is to explain the divergence of 
mankind from one another as regards their way of life, by 
pointing out all the natural and social influences which have 
worked upon the originally similar natures of men. It 


is I 


certainly not necessary to lay special stress upon the truth 
which is unquestionably involved in this demand upon 
science; it is perhaps more to the purpose to observe that 
even this correct principle of investigation may be carried 
too far. 

The principle is fully justified in the investigation of all 
those pha3nomena which we may still observe recurring and 
reproducing one another, in connection with and conditioned 
by other phsenomena, but cannot on the other hand impose 
on Nature itself any greater simplicity of origin than Nature 
really has. He who assumes a peculiar vital power for the 
phsenomena of organic life may soon convince himself that the 
supposed activity of this power is determined on all sides by 
physical conditions, and here it is that it becomes necessary 
for him to explain the consequences of this power as results 
which spring from co-operating causes in accordance with the 
Bame universal laws to which those external influences are 
subject. But he who traces back all plants to one primal 
plant, and all animals to one primal animal, on the one hand 
diverges from experience which presents no facts that require 
such a supposition, and on the other hand affirms a process 
which, even independent of experience, is by no means 
necessary on general grounds. For that Nature itself, like 
human thought, should in working progress from the imperfect 
to the perfect, from the simple to the composite, from the 
homogeneity of the universal to the manifold variety of 
the particular, is only a probable conjecture, in as far as 
Nature requires to utilize the imperfect, simple, and homo- 
geneous, in producing the more complex perfection of the 
individual. Where we cannot assume that this real and 
solid advantage accrues from Nature's following such a path, 
we have no reason to attribute to it as necessary the same 
course as is taken by our own thought in observing, comparing, 
and classifying the perfected reality upon which it comes to 
work. Nature does not make first things and then their 

H attributes, first matter and then the forces inhering in it ; 

B just as little is it necessary and self-evident that it should, in 



the first place, embody in some single primary form the universal 
generic concept under which our thought may subsequently 
group together a plurality of species, effecting later the historical 
development of the species from this primary form, by the 
supplementary influence of further conditions. Rather does 
Nature (not destitute of the necessary and essential means of 
direct production) undoubtedly begin with all the rich variety 
of creatures which are equally possible as embodiments of 
the universal 

Though, however, we vindicate the possibility of this 
assumption, yet we do not recommend that it should be 
thoughtlessly employed. The principles according to which 
we must estimate mental life in general would above all 
things never permit us to deny altogether to certain races 
certain mental capacities, attributing to others an exclusive 
possession of them. The most general laws, according to 
which the events of mental life happen, are valid alike for 
men and animals to such an extent, and the connection 
between the different forms of mental activity is so close and 
many-sided, that if we take two kinds of mind which, in 
relation to many departments of this activity, present such a 
perfect similarity as we find in the different races of men, 
we shall see that these two cannot well be separated (with 
regard to any other department of the same activity) by the 
existence or defect of some innate capability. If there is a 
difference of original endowment, it is without doubt to be 
found in that which most strikingly distinguishes from one 
another even individual members of the same race ; that is, 
in disposition and not in the nature and mode of operation of 
the mental powers in general, which are common to all By 
disposition we mean that particular combination of impulses by 
which the mental powers have the direction of their activity 
determined, as well as their ends, and the vigour, variety, and 
constancy of their exercise; and all this may be different in 
different races, partly on account of inherited peculiarities of 
organic formation, partly on account of original idiosyncrasies of 
mental nature. And it is this which also determines the amount 


of attainable development, according to the direction in which 
it predominantly guides the interest of the whole mental life, 
and according as it makes the mind more receptive towards 
relations of things the observation and treatment of which 
must inevitably lead it further, or causes it to find satisfaction 
in occupations and forms of life which contain no living germ 
of progress. The attempt to extend higher civilisation to nations 
which have hitherto remained wholly strangers to it, has been 
frustrated much more by the difficulty of arousing lasting 
interest in the benefits of our own culture than by want of 
the insight necessary for understanding it. 

Now whether in point of fact these varieties of disposition 
are irremovable differences of original endowment, or whether 
even they are but the accumulated effects of constant external 
conditions, is a question which historical experience so far 
can hardly decide. The nations which hitherto have had a 
long term of life constantly reveal to us, amid all the striking 
changes of civilisation which they undergo, a tenacious per- 
sistence of peculiar characteristics which often merely change 
the scene of their manifestation. However estimable may be 
the attempts made to explain the varieties of human develop- 
ment by reference merely to the effect of those circumstances 
by which life is conditioned, they have not hitherto enabled us 
to dispense with the assumption that there are special varia- 
tions of generic human nature which were given as the 
material upon which those conditions had to operate in the 
various branches of mankind. 

Our judgments, however, on all such questions are never 
based altogether upon scientific grounds, but depend also on 
unspoken moral needs and doubts. Even the aversion to 
allow, in the case of mankind, the possibility of original 
variety, depends on a reason of this kind. If different 

B creatures differ from one another by an altogether distinct 
generic stamp, it is not thought surprising if some lack the 
advantages of others ; it seems that each should be contented 

y with that with which his nature has provided him. The 
different races of men, however, seem to be as near one 


another as possible, on account of the predominant similarity 
of their most essential characteristics, and what is of still more 
importance, they are capable of a common life of reciprocity 
in work and enjoyment ; here a difference of mental endow- 
ment, which would be not merely a difference, but also a 
gradation of more and less, would seem like an unjust 
abridgment, as regards the less gifted races, of the means 
necessary for the fulfilment of that business of human life 
which is common to all men — means upon which all therefore 
seem to have an equal claim. This consideration, is not 
without weight ; indeed, we willingly allow that the supposition 
is inexplicable that a race of men may be for ever hindered 
by some concealed defect of their organization from reaching 
a civilisation for the attainment of which they seem to possess 
rU externally cognisable capacities ; yet the enigma referred 
to is so often suggested to us by history, and in forms so 
obtrusive, that our failure to understand it must not lead 
us even in this case to deny its existence. For still 
more inexplicable than those inherent natural hindrances to 
progress are the numerous cases where, on the one hand, 
individuals of the most favoured races remain far below 
the general level of endowment of their race, and on the 
other hand, whole nations are for centuries hindered by 
external circumstances from attaining a degree of civilisation 
by no means beyond the reach of their actual mental capacity. 
If we can neither alter nor deny this fact of the tyranny 
of external conditions, we have just as little reason for 
regarding the limiting power of original natural endowment as 

§ 3. The aversion to allow innate differences in the dis- 
positions of nations is not obscurely connected with that 
increasingly popular mode of thought which would dispense 
with all predetermination of future development in the human 
mind, and would leave it, as selfless and plastic material, to 
be altogether formed by external conditions. As men's taste 
varies in art, so it does also in the way of looking at history ; 
and although we may easily admit that each of the opposed 


views may be justified within certain limits, yet in neither case 
are there wanting unjustifiable transgressions of the limits of 
validity. Early historical idealism often proceeded as if the 
spirit of man dwelt upon earth devoid of wants, and in an 
atmosphere of purest ether, and as if, following nothing but 
the impulses of its own nature, it produced the melodious 
succession of its own significant developments, unabridged by 
any opposition, and only incidentally condescended to the 
prose of mundane circumstances in order to transfigure them 
to a reflection of its own splendour. In opposition to this 
idealism, the realism of our own time asserts, and rightly, the 
stimulating, restricting, and guiding power which those same 
mundane circumstances exercise upon the uncertain and 
want-laden nature of frail humanity. But neither is it 
necessary that the idealistic view should be held in the 
exaggerated form which we have just noticed, nor has the 
opposed view either the duty or the privilege of carrying its 
necessary and well-founded warnings to the point of that 
mephistophelic scorn with which men sometimes dispute the 
efficacy of all nobler springs of development — of all except 
such as depend on imperative need. 

Only plants are destined to live by the favour of external 
circumstances, without reactions that bear the stamp of 
living activity, and accommodating themselves to moderate 
hange of such circumstances, but helplessly succumbing to 
he effects of greater change. Hardly anywhere in the 
animal world is the satisfaction of natural wants attained 
without some individual effort on the part of those satisfied, 
■land in some kinds of animals this activity is so developed as 
to have become an instinct of co-operative labour. But in these 
very operations — to which, indeed, the animals are stimulated 
by outward impressions, but the mode of which is determined 
by themselves in accordance with an unalterable impulse of 
their nature — the agents seem to us less free and active 
than in those less striking performances by which they (within 
narrow limits) modify the operations referred to in accordance 
with changing circumstances. Mankind, not being directed 




and restricted to one definite occupation by any similar 
prompting of Nature, see before them the whole earth as the 
sphere of their activity, and must find out by manifold 
experience that which Nature itself has imprinted on the 
souls of brutes ; that is, necessary ends, efficient instruments, 
and the most useful division of labour. They do not come 
to this task unprovided, but they come without having received 
an impulse from Nature to use these means in some one 
direction only ; with an unbiassed sensuous receptivity and 
a capacity of bringing received impressions into reciprocal 
relations of inner connection, they are forced by their wants 
to seek out unknown sources of satisfaction. It is certainly 
true that instinct leads more easily to the satisfaction of wants 
than the reflection following experience, which errs in a 
thousand ways ; but every error that fails of the end at 
which it aimed, finds in its path truths which would have 
remained undiscovered if an infallible natural impulse had led 
the mind straight to its goal. Hence even the simplest 
occurrences of daily life develop in the most uncivilised 
nations at least much skill in using the properties of things 
according to general physical laws, even though these laws (as 
e.g. those of equilibrium or of the lever) may never become to 
them explicit objects of consciousness. And all knowledge 
thus gained, just because it did not exist as innate endowment 
of the mind, but came to be formed through contact with 
things, and thus was matter of living experience, is felt to be, 
as it were, the production of our own activity. 

At first the individual may, by a kind of superficial and 
hasty construction, gain shelter and support from his imme- 
diate surroundings; but a growing society, with its ever- 
increasing multitude of wants and the fresh demands which 
it develops, finds itself obliged to appropriate also, by weU- 
considered division and combination of its powers, the less 
obvious utilities of natural products. By bringing large 
extents of land under permanent cultivation — by connecting 
distant regions for exchange of commodities — by increasing 
the value and convenience of their immediate surroundings 


through manifold elaboration of the material they have appro- 
priated — the members of such a society are ever transforming 
larger and larger extents of the earth's surface, as it were to 
another and more home-like Nature, to the scene of a life of 
social order. In proportion as this happens, the dependence 
of man upon the elementary material world that surrounds 
him becomes lessened ; he becomes accustomed to have most 
of his wants satisfied, not by direct application to this external 
world, but at third hand by the co-operation of social labour ; 
he with his ideas, feelings, cares, and plans belongs far more 
to this new and secondary order of things, to the concatenated 
whole of human society, than to primitive Nature, which, 
while it is the basis of his existence, seems ever to withdraw 
further and further into the background. 

It is, then, only when this early progress has transferred 
the centre of existence from the natural world to the artificial 
world of society that distinctively human life begins, and the 
possibility of its further development. For the inferior 
animals are as capable as ourselves of enjoying without 
preparation that which created Nature freely offers ; it is the 
distinctive task of humanity to create for itself the world in 
which it is to find its highest enjoyments. In order to do 
this, mankind had to restrict the manifold possibilities of 
existence and action contained in the course of events and of 
our own impulses by thoughts of what is right and fair ; they 
had by multiform elaboration to transform the productions of 
Nature, together with the soil which brought them forth, into 
a world of commodities, the attainment, preservation, and use 
IJflbf which combined the dispersed powers of individuals to a 
connected whole of occupations depending upon one another ; 
(put of the social contact which occurs in the course of Nature, 
nd which is increased by the dawning community of labour, 
community of life had to be developed that sacrificed many 
a liberty which Nature aUows us, and imposed on itself many 
an obligation for which Nature gives no reason. So the 
human mind reared above the tangible sensible world of that 
I MPhich actually exists the not less complex ramifications of 
I E VOL. n. P 


a world of relations which ought to exist because their own 
eternal worth requires their realization. And this whole 
artificial order of life which man had to create in addition to 
created Nature has only in isolated moments of despair, due 
to conscious failure, seemed to the minds of men to be an 
arbitrary and revocable structure of their own invention ; on 
the whole, social order has appeared to the human mind to 
be an altogether irrevocable natural necessity. 

Now plainly we could not expect the construction of this 
spiritual cosmos to result from spontaneous evolution of the 
human mind without the stimulating and guiding influence 
of various external causes. It is not as though there were in 
us a natural impulse to progi-ess which, like a pressed spring, 
strains to the rebound; but like bodies that cannot of 
themselves quit their state of rest, or that, when once set 
in motion, exert force upon the obstacles which they encounter, 
80 the impulse to progress in the human mind, and the direc- 
tion wliich it will take, are due to the velocity of the 
evolutionary movement in which the mind is already involved. 
It in certainly true that we may regard the ideals of the 
Beautiful, the True, the Good, and the Eight as an innate 
possession of our soul, but only in the sense in which it is 
generally allowable to use this expression innate. They are 
not presented to our consciousness from the beginning as 
distinct representations, but only after our moral nature has 
been stirred on many occasions to approve or reject various 
modes of action do we think of them and recognise in 
them the principles according to which our judgment had, 
previously proceeded. And if they had actually been innate 
in our consciousness as living representations that were in' 
it from the beginning, of what value would they be for our j 
development? The comparing activity of thought may,] 
indeed, separate the feeling of reverence with which every- j 
thing that is beautiful, right, or good inspires us from thesej 
particular occasions of its exercise, and attach it to the general^ 
notions of beauty, right, and goodness ; but as none of these \ 
ideals has reality except, when embodied in definite examples,! 


to which it gives significance, so neither would any of them 
have for us a definite content if we were not able to recollect 
individual instances of its realization. And if we think of the 
worth of all ideals as united in the unfathomable wealth of the 
divine nature to a blessedness which was before the world 
began, we are used to expect, even of this nature, that it should 
manifest itself in the creation of a world of varied forms ; it is 
this which seems first, by means of perceptible relations between 
its different elements, to give to the hitherto formless univer- 
sality of the ideal content an abundance of definite characteristic 
manifestations, and thereby a fulness of reality which it had 
seemed to lack while it remained self-contained. The human 
mind cannot accomplish such a mysterious creative act ; it 
would have been vain to set it the task of excogitating with 
inventive fancy from the formless tendencies in which its 
innate ideals must have consisted, a multitude of cases of 
their possible realization. For in fact our whole existence, 
historical and unhistorical, is occupied in receiving the influ- 
ences exercised upon us by the circumstances of the material 
world in which we are placed, these circumstances constituting 
the stimulations which first call forth our activity, the guiding 
conditions which fix the possible aims and content of our 
being, and finally the material on which we are continually 
impressing, in individual and limited forms, the image of the 
ideal. Much that is beautiful, much that is good, much that 
is just, admits of realization ; but only such beauty, such good, 
and such justice as may be contained and comprehended in this 
world of sense and the relations subsisting between its perish- 
ing inhabitants. He who desires to see realized the beautiful in 
itself, or the good and the just as they would be in themselves 
without the realization being at the same time occasioned and 
restricted by some actual relation for which it is valid, deeires 
something as contradictory as he who wishes that the speed of 
any movable object, the movement of which is only made possible 
by that contact with the ground which at the same time 
retards its motion, should be accelerated by the total removal 
of this resistance. 


Human development, then, requires occasioning causes, and 
historical idealism is wrong if it takes offence at this depend- 
ence of the progress that has been made upon conditious 
which the human mind has not devised for itself, but has 
found upon its path. But the conditions of the begi::ning 
and of the progress of culture are not quite the same. When 
mankind have actually reached any stage of civilisation they 
are generally urged on by the impulsive force of this civilisa- 
tion itself to a further stage, in which, with an already 
awakened consciousness of ends to be attained, they seek the 
satisfaction of yet unsatisfied wants ; on the other hand, the 
first steps towards development can only be made possible by 
the favour of natural circumstances, by which also their direc- 
tion is in the first instance determined. No rules of justice 
are conceivable at the beginning of civilisation without direct 
reference to objects of need or enjoyment, the use of which 
must be determined by a consideration of various claims ; but 
it is Nature that by her niggardness or bounty must fix the 
worth of the productions which become the first objects of the 
dawning sense of justice with its regulative activity. There can 
be no individual development to a fixed order of life without 
connected labour; and it is external Nature which, by the 
special character of its products, and by the necessities which 
it imposes, determines how great a share of life is to be 
devoted to the task of mere self-preservation, and how much 
is to be left for enjoyment ; determining also by the kind of 
work which it allows or requires, whether the human mind 
shall be pent up in a narrow circle of ideas and activities, or 
shall be spurred on to a life of many-sided and inventive 
action. The development of artistic and religious views 
depends only to a smaller extent, and not in its most essential 
features, upon the immediate impression which natural sur- 
roundings make upon human imagination ; yet mediately tho 
influence of these surroundings is great ; for upon the geniality, 
ease, and elasticity of customary life, and the forms of inter- 
course which they allow of, depend the variety and vigour of 
that mental reciprocity within a society which is indispensable 



for the formation of any coherent philosophical views. As, 
finally, the individual's sphere of thought becomes impover- 
ished when it lacks the stimulating interruption of inter- 
course with others, so also for the progressive civilisa- 
tion of nations, it is necessary "that their different modes of 
philosophic thought should be brought into contact, and per- 
haps also, according to an oft-conjectured natural law, that 
there should be a physical blending of races not too alien 
from one another. Where the nature of the country affords 
means of communication that facilitate this reciprocal action 
between nations, we see the civilisation of mankind fall 
earliest into a course of coherent progress ; on the contrary, 
it has remained for thousands of years in the same uniform 
condition in regions whose boundaries, inhospitable and 
difficult to pass, have restricted the inhabitants to a constant 
employment of the same means to their ends and the same 
conditions of life. 

All these thoughts, even in that more detailed presentation 
of them which we must here renounce, have long lost the 
charm of novelty — they have lost it since the time when the 
modern realism of historical investigation began to make the 
dependence of progress upon the geographical conditions of 
the earth's surface a favourite subject of its inquiries. Mean- 
while, however thankworthy these may be, they do not quite 
suffice to explain the capricious course that history has 
actually taken. Mankind cannot accomplish that which is 
impossible ; hence we see how it is that a country of which 
the poverty and ruggedness make life difficult can produce 
no indigenous culture, but can only adopt one which has 
germinated and grown strong elsewhere. The presence 
of favourable conditions in other places, however, by no 
means explains how it is that they are made use of. The 
human mind is far from being so desirous of development 
from the very beginning as to be hurried away, by the favour 
of natural circumstances, to make all the progress which these 
render possible. Men may for long periods of time use with 
careless indifference natural products which seem directly to 



suggest some definite application of their powers, without 
discovering this application ; not even necessity is the mother 
of invention in the sense of leading men generally to seek 
satisfaction of their wants by reflection which may be the 
herald of subsequent progress ; on the contrary, so great is 
men's natural sluggishness that, satisfied with warding off 
the most extreme misery, they will long endure the continual 
recurrence of sufferings which it would be by no means 
difficult to avoid by a moderately intelligent use of means 
which are actually at their command. "We deceive ourselves 
therefore if we think we see in favourable geographical con- 
ditions — the advantageousness of which is immediately 
obvious to our practised observation — an impelling power 
which without reckoning upon happy receptivity of dis- 
position in men could force them to develop, as if by natural 
necessity, in some definite direction and at some definite rate. 
And least of all can the special colouring which growing 
culture has taken among different nations be altogether 
deduced from a corresponding speciality of external conditions. 
We must admit that similar conditions have produced different 
results, the germ of which must be sought for first in the 
liistorical lot of nations, and last in the incalculable aggregate 
of those inner springs of action which stirred their spiritual 
life and in turn helped to determine national destiny. 

§ 4. If, without any pretensions to completeness in the 
enumeration of infinitely varied facts, we now take a glance at 
those nations whose life— either unhistorical, or if historical 
interrupted — will afford us no opportunity of considering 
them more in detail at a later stage, we shall find that their 
fate is partly, but only partly, explicable by reference to the 
circumstances of their external condition. Without a certain 
density of population which brings men with their wants and 
claims, and their varieties of temperament and experience, not 
only into frequent contact but into lasting intercourse, both 
hostile and harmonious, the growth of higher civilisation 
among men is impossible. It was but few climates that 
afforded to infant societies the favouring conditions necessary 


for this — making life easy by spontaneous fertility of soil, by 
a mixture of good and bad in the climate arousing wants 
without making the satisfaction of them very difficult, and 
finally (by the variety of the products and impressions which 
it afforded) establishing a sufficient variety of mutually com- 
plementary occupations and dispositions. 

The frigid zone cannot be like a home to its inhabitants, in 
whom want does indeed rouse ingenuity in satisfying the most 
pressing needs, but at the same time frustrates every effort 
after beauty and fulness of life. Forced dependence upon 
those few productions of a niggard Nature which it is possible 
to reckon upon, makes the labour of preserving life difficult 
and too much alike for all. One can hardly imagine what a 
Greenlauder's life would be without the seal. Shapelessly 
huddled up in furs of seal and reindeer, and tied into the skin 
covering of his kayak, a narrow pointed hunting boat capable 
of holding only one man, he navigates the Arctic Ocean in 
pursuit of the seal with inimitable skill ; then he creeps back 
into his winter hut, constructed of stones, driftwood, turf, and 
skins, and feeds upon his greasy spoil, by the light of lamps 
that are always burning, the moss wicks of which are fed by 
seal fat ; and the subject of conversation is a description of 
the hunt, graphically given and attentively listened to — " Thu."" 
he sat — thus he stretched himself out and threw the harpoon." 
And in the happier future world which he supposes will be 
in the depths of the sea, he expects a superabundance of 
birds, fishes, seals, and reindeer; and it is only in his hope 
that the short summer and sunshine of his present home will 
there be continuous, that he betrays his sense of the climatic 
burden under which he bends. This gloomy picture of a 
miserable existence is pretty much the same for all the 
northern coasts of the old world, amid local differences of 
position and instruments ; these wildernesses have nowhere 
been able to produce a higher condition of human life, and to 
those races which by some unknown fate were driven into 
them they have only left the remnants of civilisation attained 
previously in more favoured abodes. The small amount of 



subsistence furnished by a wide extent of country has every- 
where prevented the density of population necessary for the 
beginning of political organization ; all having to work at very- 
similar occupations, and being separated from one another and 
from all foreign culture by the difficulty of intercourse, the 
scattered families have neither been able to advance to an 
educative division of labour, nor had they any motive for 
the development of social forms and ideas of right for the 
application of which no cases occurred. Natural goodness of 
disposition and various mental gifts have not been sufficient 
to prevent men in this existence of constant bodily hardship 
from coming to regard the coarsest enjoyments of the senses 
as the only really good things in life. 

The people of the South Sea islands, though in a graceful 
instead of a repulsive fashion, are really quite as backward. 
When they were first seen, happily disporting themselves in 
the sea with easy agility — behaving with hospitable and 
gracious sociality on land — passing away the time in dancing, 
round games, songs, and cheerful talk — not given to assiduous 
labour indeed, yet managing their small plantations with skill — 
liardly needing clothing or shelter, but showing taste in what 
Ihey had — healthy, strong, and active, even their most aged 
men contented and good-tempered — when they were seen 
thus, they seemed to have retained a paradisiac condition. A 
nearer acquaintance showed the dark side of this fair picture. 
The confined extent of the islands had indeed caused greater 
pressure of population and hence active commerce ; but the 
fineness of climate had made work too little imperative, and 
the uniformity of weather and natural products had caused 
the lives of all to be too much alike. The islands were too 
small to be the scene of great enterprises, and there was no 
large continent accessible, capable, by the foreignness of its 
natural features and its inhabitants, of giving to the minds of 
the islanders d, stimulating enlargement of their intellectual 
horizon ; their isolation in the midst of the ocean could hardly 
develop anything beyond a peaceful and unprogressive 
existence. But such a simple idyllic life is a defensible mode 



of existence only when considered as a temporary withdrawal 
from some familiar civilisation : where it is everything it is 
not an existence worthy of mankind. Where each individual 
brings into circulation as his contribution only the natural 
capacities of his kind, without having worked them out to an 
individuality which is all his own by some special labour of 
development, each will be esteemed as nothing more than a 
mere example of his kind, that may be used and worn out ; 
and the life of the whole, like that of a herd of animals, only 
with the higher mental characteristics of the human race, will 
in the end have no higher sources of enjoyment than those 
with which it is furnished by Nature. Hence neither science 
nor art nor morality has been developed from the not incon- 
siderable mental capacities of these islanders, and it is but 
few who have lived through that idyllic life in innocence — 
with all the prevailing good nature and friendliness, it was 
possible for societies to exist, formed for the indulgence of 
immoderate sensuality and pledged to child-murder, and 
there was wide-spread cannibalism. So, like other fair pro- 
ducts of animate Nature, they sported together with all the 
gracefulness of their kind, only to devour each other at last. 

There was added another source of misery unknown to the 
polar nations. It was said that at an early period there had 
come from the north-west, from the mythical island of 
Bolotuh, where the gods feed upon ethereal swine, a light-com- 
plexioned race which spread over the islands and supplanted 
and enslaved its original inhabitants, who were of darker 
colour. By innumerable intermarriages, the external differ- 
ences of the races were obliterated ; but a strict system of 
caste was kept up, not founded upon differences of culture 
and hardly upon differences of occupation, but upon degrees 
of purity of descent. This system gave to the nobility, the 
Eries, rights without duties, and to those of lower rank duties 
without rights; to the former immortality and deification 
after death, while to the latter it did not even allow a human 
soul during life. Jealously guarding their rank among them- 
eelves, the nobles on the whole treated the people without 



cruelty, although occasionally murdering these soulless beings 
without hesitation ; and still more inexhaustible than the 
arrogance of the Eries was the patience of the subject caste, 
any of whose possessions a noble, by the taboo which contact 
with him could impart, might appropriate to himself and 
make it unlawful for the former owner to touch. Secular 
power was overridden to some extent by priestly influence, 
as is the case with all uncivilised nations among whom 
pretended mental pre-eminence is, on account of its greater 
rarity, more highly esteemed than bodily vigour, which is 
common enough ; but here as in the north, this priestly 
influence represented not moral truth but that superstition 
which arises from a dread of the unknown powers of Nature, 
and which, driven by an ill-regulated imagination into erratic 
courses, has led nearly everywhere to a multiplication of 
horrors but nowhere to any wise regulation of life. So that 
here we find subtle complications of social order, attractiva 
simplicity of life, and complete absence of all the higher aims 
of existence combined into a whole that abounds in con- 

The vivifying contact with foreign nations, customs and 
views, which the Polynesians lacked, was enjoyed in vain by 
the Negro races and the Indians of North America. The 
shores of the Mediterranean beheld one after another the 
brilliant civilisations of the Egyptians, Phoenicians, Greeks, 
Piomans, and Saracens ; they were certainly separated by a 
wide wilderness from the country inhabited by the Negroes, 
yet for thousands of years active intercourse was carried on 
notwithstanding this obstacle. All this influence of culturoJ 
nations, which certainly extended far into the interior of 
Negroland, produced no civilisation among the black tribes, 
neither the formation of great states, nor a dawn of native art 
and science — at the most nothing more than some scanty 
industries for the adornment of life. The same passions which 
move men everywhere, in Africa too caused wars and the 
successive predominance of the various tribes, from very early 
times; but whilst in the history of white men the dominion 


of each great nation has been perpetuated in lasting and 
characteristic monuments, and has marked a memorable stage 
of social conditions, all these changes have been without 
result for the black races, and the tide of their national 
existence, after the waters had been disturbed for a moment 
by some unusual undertaking, went on rising and falling again 
just as they had done before. 

In the explanation of this great historical fact, opinions are 
still found violently opposed to one another. The assumption 
that black men have less capacity of development is scarcely 
worthy of refutation, if it is understood in such an exaggerated 
sense as would justify the abomination of slavery. There has 
been sufficient experience, even under this unfavourable con- 
dition in America, to forbid us to regard a fixed limitation of 
intellectual endowment as a permanent hindrance to the 
development of the black races. It would be only in peculi- 
arity of disposition which everywhere determines the force 
and direction of the application of mental capacity, that we 
could seek for conditions that have made an independent 
beginning of civilisation impossible for the Negro, and the 
appropriation of an alien civilisation difficult for him. To say 
the least, good nature, by which he is distinguished, is in the 
early stages of history never inventive ; it is far more the evil 
desires of ambition and of unscrupulous egoism that nerve all 
the forces of the mind to attack, and induce men to search out 
every means of defence. White men have conquered the 
world, not by their superior morality, but by the obstinate 
perseverance with which they attacked all those who could 
only oppose passionate ebullitions and unconnected sacrifices 
to their merciless penetration and the consistency of their 
well-laid plans. The Negro's temperament gives no promise 
of any such results. Sanguine and changeable of mood, he 
is excited and diverted by every fresh impression, and is just 
as little disposed to steady labour as he is to pursuing chains 
of thought along those important intermediate links which do 
not charm by their own interest, and yet are indispensable for 
connecting that which is in itself more valuable. His warmth 



of heart malces him accessible to religious awakening; but 
from the unruliness of his imagination, even these feelings are 
more likely to be the source of acts of isolated self-sacrifico 
than of a course of life ordered in detail In a temperament 
of this description there are, without doubt, many features 
unfavourable to an independent commencement of higher 
civilisation, but also some which are sufficiently favourable to 
subordination under powerful and originative minds, to justify 
us in expecting either an imitation of foreign culture, or a 
gradual indigenous development under the consolidating pres- 
sure of an intelligent despotism. But hitherto neither of 
these events has taken place. The incapacity of the negro 
state of Hayti to attain a condition of permanent order has 
certainly too many obvious causes in its hasty formation 
amid a population vitiated by slavery, to prove conclusively 
that all similar attempts of coloured men must be equally 
resultless, supposing they were made under more favourable 
circumstances, such as have hitherto been lacking. On the 
contrary, in Africa itself the existence partly of despotic and 
partly of more democratic polities, shows that an external 
formal regulation of society is not wholly incompatible with 
the genius of the race, only there lacks that content of life 
which alone is worthy of man, and is capable of high 
development by means of these forms. That the Negro did 
not borrow this content from European civilisation is expli- 
cable partly by reference to the hostile fashion in which this 
came to him, and partly by the too great violence of the 
contrast subsisting between the complex variety of this 
civilisation and his own simple way of life. We see the hard- 
living masses of the white nations retreating with a similar 
lack of receptivity before the culture of the higher classes, as 
though it were a manner of life belonging to a different species 
of animals, and living on according to their own fashion, 
which they can understand. Finally, that in their native 
countiy Negroes have never by any progress of their own 
developed germs of higher civilisation, may be to an important 
extent, though hardly altogether, explained by the geographical 


conditions of that country. We find these conditions partly 
in the enervating effect of the hot climate, which does not 
admit of the vigorous work either of body or mind that is 
possible in a more temperate region, partly in the natural 
fertility of the soil, which too easily affords satisfaction of the 
few wants which men feel in tropical countries, partly in the 
early age at which bodily maturity is attained, the period of 
education being thus abridged, and independent life allowed to 
begin too soon. Finally, we certainly find one of these con- 
ditions in the difficulty of carrying on communication over 
the unbroken stretches of the African continent, a difficulty to 
which it is due that the different tribes with their various 
fashions and customs (which, however, do not differ to any 
great extent) cannot come much into contact either with one 
another or with the views of men of different race. Whether 
that temperament which has made the Negro nations so little 
fitted to advance has resulted from these circumstances, so that 
under better climatic conditions generations which have had 
time to get rid of their inherited native temperament would 
be capable of much progress ; or whether there is in their 
organization some impassable barrier to high development, 
which will compel them always to remain at a low level — 
these are questions which can only be decided by the future 
of the race itself. It would certainly be unfair to conclude 
from the past absence to the necessary future absence of 
historical development, and to seek the ground of this 
absence only in natural incapacity without having regard to 
obstructive influences ; but when men (carried away by the 
certainly not inevitable assumption that all mankind are 
similarly organized, and by horror of the abominations of 
slavery) forthwith conclude that the Negro race will in the 
future reach that higher development which has not been 
attained all through the many centuries of past history — then, 
on the other hand, it seems to us that the conclusion reached 
is not convincing. With regard to morality, by which 
the laws of our future conduct are determined, this last 
assumption may be preferable, since it in one which cannot do 



harm. As far as the consideration of past history is concerned, 
the point in dispute is not so interesting ; for an originally 
existent capacity, which has for thousands of years been so 
obstructed by unfavourable conditions that it could never 
attain development, is in an historical point of view no less 
a puzzle than an originally poorer endowment of the race 
would be. 

S 5. For the most part the Eed men of North America 
have resisted European civilisation even more expressly 
than the Negroes, and have not themselves developed any 
that is of much importance, although their condition 
may have been better before their social relations had 
been altogether disturbed by the ascendency of the whites and 
their perfidy. The superior appliances of European civilisa- 
tion, matured under more favouring conditions, have made 
North America a rich country ; the densely- wooded nature of 
those regions, with lack of water in the west and cold in the 
east, put difficulties in the way of an indigenous civilisation. 
Our cereals were not produced, and the scanty crops of maize 
in the north did not lead to permanent cultivation of the soil ; 
potatoes and the domestic animals of the old world were 
unknown, and the allied native kinds of animals not very easy 
to tame. But there was a superabundance of game, and the 
hunter's life, everywhere for the sake of self-preservation the 
primitive form of existence, continued here to be the sole 
form. This was unfavourable to civilisation in every way. 
"Without other sources of supply, even the best hunting 
grounds could support only a few persons to the square mile ; 
populations never reached the degree of density necessary 
for the development of society, and were kept from the 
stationary form of life and its educative influences. The 
tortures of hunger, which are depicted terribly enough in their 
legends, made the care of a family a burden; the noble 
liberality which the less skilful hunter expected from the 
more fortunate, and which the latter cheerfully exercised, 
deprived the unskilful of motives to greater exertion, and the 
skilful of that useful egoism which attracts to further enter- 


prise by the pleasure which increase of gain awakens. The 
necessity that the men should always be ready to fight caused 
all the ordinary work of life to fall upon the women, while 
the poorness and scantiness of the goods which they had to 
take care of, afforded them no opportunity of making their 
womanly guardianship of much account. The wide dispersion 
of the population and ignorance of the use of metals prevented 
any great development of manufacturing industry. Eestricted 
to the most childish modes of sticking and joining things 
together, even fastening the laboriously cut stone heads of 
their axes into the cleft of the wooden handles with strips of 
leather or fibres of plants, they busied themselves only in the 
weaving and plaiting of ornamental stuffs, which was an affair 
of patience and of simple taste. The only things on which 
they expended labour were arms, ornaments, and the most 
indispensable implements, being generally more inclined to 
suffer than to take much trouble for their own relief. The 
custom of shedding blood in the chase, and the unavoidable 
disputes concerning the boundaries of hunting grounds — a 
serious matter for people to whom hunting was a bitter necessity 
of existence — ^gave them a fierceness of disposition which led 
to mutual destruction. Thus their life went on without his- 
torical progress, like the movement of a man who is swimming 
against the stream — movement which suffices indeed to keep 
him up but does not carry him forward. 

They are not universally ignorant of the sources of their ill- 
fortune. " Do you not see," said one of their chiefs, " that the 
white men live upon corn, and we upon meat — that meat 
requires more than thirty moons to come to maturity, and 
often fails — that each of the wondrous grains which they plant 
in the earth gives them back more than a hundred-fold — that 
the animals upon whose flesh we live have four legs to escape 
with, while we have only two to follow them with — that 
wherever the grains of corn fall, there they remain and grow — 
that for us winter is a time of toilsome hunting, for the white 
men the time of rest ? That is why they have so many 
children and live longer than we. Truly before the cedars of 



our village die of old age, and before the maples of the valley 
have ceased to yield sugar, the race of the corn-sowers will 
have supplanted the race of the meat-eaters, unless the 
hunters make up their minds to sow too." 

It was but few who did make up their minds. The free 
life of the wilderness has often had a permanent attraction 
even for Europeans ; the real benefits of our mode of life 
pass away almost untasted even by many among ourselves, 
being buried under a multitude of small restraints ; to the 
Indian especially the latter must have been more obvious than 
the former. And strange enough in other respects is the 
temper with which he meets foreign influence, whether this 
temper is an original endowment of the race or results from 
the long-continued action of the circumstances of his life. 
The silence, the reflective humour, the immovable pride of 
the red warrior may have been produced by the hunter's life, 
with its requirements of patience, attention, and foresight, of 
presence of mind under surprises, of fortitude under suffering ; 
but both the customs and legends of the Indians show an 
inclination to fanaticism which does not seem to result alto- 
gether from these habits, nor to be due to the mere brooding 
of an unoccupied mind. " Ah, my brother," said a chieftain to 
his white guest, " thou wilt never know the happiness of both 
thinking of nothing and doing nothing ; this, next to sleep, is 
the most enchanting of all things. Thus we were before our 
birth, and thus we shall be after death. Who gave to thy people 
the constant desire to be better clothed and better fed, and to 
leave behind them treasures for their children ? Are they 
afraid that when they themselves have passed away sun and 
moon will shine no more, and that the rivers and the dews of 
heaven will be dried up ? Like a fountain flowing from the 
rock, they never rest ; when they have finished reaping one 
field, they begin to plough another, and as if the day were not 
enough, I have seen them working by moonlight. What is 
their life to ours — their life that is as nought to them ? 
lUind that they are, they lose it all ! But we live in the 
present. The past, we say, is nothing, like smoke which the 


wind disperses ; and the future — where is it ? Let us then 
enjoy to-day ; by to-morrow it will be far away." 

This is not the language of stupidity. On the contrary, if 
it were presented to us in Greek verse, we should admire in 
Latin commentaries the fineness with which it derides the 
perversity of the white men of whom so many in their haste 
to get forward lose all remembrance of their goal. But it is 
certainly true that this mode of thought could not be favour- 
able to the development of social life, as long as it held its 
ground and was supported by the combined influence of all 
surrounding circumstances. Meanwhile the attraction south- 
wards which animated the migrations of the European nations, 
moved these tribes also in ancient times, and whilst North 
America saw no indigenous political development, we are 
dazzled by the splendid spectacle of the kingdom of Mexico 
in the central region of the great continent, and numerous 
ruins bear witness that there once flourished other centres of 
civilisation, of which the history is lost to us. 

The mild climate of Mexico, where the land is narrowed 
between two great oceans, the four-hundredfold return which 
maize not unfrequently yields, and the banana, which in a 
given space of ground produces twenty times the nutritive 
matter of wheat, here admitted of a settled population 
increasing till it became very numerous. Life was divided 
between work and leisure, and division of labour became 
possible ; wants grew with the production and offering for 
sale of goods ; there came into existence nearly all the 
arrangements which conduce to social intercourse and 
luxurious enjoyment of life. A disposition to cultivate 
flowers began to appear in addition to careful husbandry and 
orcharding and culture of medicinal herbs ; the weaver's art 
produced magnificent garments of gorgeous colouring com- 
posed of cotton interwoven with feather-down ; gold ornaments 
and precious stones faultlessly cut might be put on before 
obsidian mirrors. At feasts the tables were decked with 
costly utensils, and these feasts were conducted according to 
a complicated ceremonial, and with all the adjuncts of 



civilised entertainment ; the general tone of society was 
courteous, and the morality of domestic life (which was held 
in great honour) was marked by propriety and moderation 
and was a subject of instruction. The exchange of products 
was accomplished by means of markets held at fixed times. 
At these times in the large and populous towns, of which 
more than one seemed to the Spaniards to emulate Granada in 
its palmy days, many thousands of persons moved about 
among the various stalls which belonged to different trades 
and were arranged in orderly fashion, and in this busy mart 
there was wanting neither police supervision, nor a special 
Court of Justice that sat continuously for the settlement of 
any disputes that might arise. 

According to the Toltekian legend, the founder of this 
civilisation was the hero Quetzalkohuatl, with fair face and 
long beard, who came to the country from some unknown 
and distant region, accompanied by many followers clothed in 
long garments. Whatever may be the historic kernel of this 
tradition, the limitations of Mexican civilisation seem to bear 
witness to its native origin. Quetzalkohuatl was said to 
have come over the sea ; but the Mexican merchants, in other 
respects so enterprising, did not navigate the ocean ; there 
had not come into the country from over the water any of 
the domestic animals of the old world, nor even the thought 
of taming native species ; the bales of goods were conveyed 
by human carriers along the broad highways ; our cereals 
remained unknown, maize being the only grain until the 
Spanish conquest. The Mexicans did not know how to 
obtain iron, they worked the land with implements of copper 
and bronze without the help of draught animals, setting not 
sowing the seed, providing for irrigation by dikes and trenches; 
finally, they did not adopt any of the modes of writing 
employed by earlier civilised nations, but developed for them- 
selves a system of written signs. Thus none of the elements 
which are generally most easily communicated by foreign 
civilisation came to them from without, and we may regard 
their civilisation as the native development reached by the 



genius of the Indian race under favourable climatic con- 

On the other side of the equator similarly favouring 
natural conditions enabled the seaboard country of Peru to 
attain a remarkably flourishing civilisation ; but the pastoral 
nomads who in the old world seem to have been the first to 
undertake the task of bringing several centres of civilisation 
into communication with each other, did not exist in America, 
and no intercourse took place between Mexico and Peru. On 
the other hand, in the great eastern half of South America 
the spirit of man was cowed by the overpowering might of 
natural phaenomena. Monstrous rivers with resistless inun- 
dations, vast and trackless forests, the irrepressible vegetative 
vitality which causes every cultivated piece of land to be 
quickly overgrown with a rank luxuriance of weeds, the 
number of large beasts of prey, and the countless multitude 
of insects, winged or creeping, which speedily devour a 
whole harvest — all these hindrances still stand in the way 
of development in Brazil, notwithstanding the European 
industry which has long flourished there, and much , more 
must they have frustrated the early attempts of isolated 

If it were necessary to make this hasty sketch complete, 
Europe and Asia might increase the aggregate of unhistoric 
life by the addition of many nations who still live on in 
their old abodes with the same manners and customs which 
they had at the beginning of history. They would thus 
confirm afresh the impossibility of speaking of a past History 
of Mankind, since it is only among a small fraction of the 
human race that that connected series of events has occurred, 
which with an unwarrantable generalization we sometimes 
call the History of Mankind, and sometimes under the name 
of Universal History regard as signifying the development of 
all reality and the unfolding of the World-spirit. Erom the 
future, however, we may expect, as the best which it can 
bring, the difi'usion of European civilisation over the whole 
earth. Eor the only native dawn of development of the 



coloured race in America was completely destroyed by the 
bloody hand of Europeans, before the time to come could 
decide what were its capabilities of further development ; 
and no one will imagine that the Negro race, being every- 
where exposed to the injfluences of European culture, is now 
likely to develop a special national civilisation. But the 
Negro has at least some reason to hope that his race will be 
perpetuated, while according to a very general opinion 
Indians and Polynesians are doomed by the very genius of 
history to die out before the higher race of the Caucasians. 
The truth is that those coloured races were reduced to such 
an extreme degree of weakness simply by the frightful cruelty 
of their white conquerors and the numerous diseases which 
they introduced, or which — from some unexplained causes — 
are usually developed when races of men that are widel;y 
different first come into contact. In the Middle Ages a 
similar fate befel European nations more than once ; but they 
had time to recover, for there was not in their rear any race 
still more Caucasian than themselves, seeking with the same 
consistent cruelty — partly natural and partly doctrinaire — to 
execute upon them a supposed sentence of history. Where 
such a chance of recovery has been given to the coloured 
races, they also have begun to slowly increase again ; where 
they are really melting away like snow, there are to be found, 
first and foremost, frightful secrets of European colonial 
government — but the fulfilment of an historic doom will be 
found only by him who counts every accomplished matter of 
fact among the necessary phases of development of an Idea 
that rules the world. 



Stationary Civilisation and Nomadic Life in the East — Semitic and Indo- 
Germanic Races — Ancient Greece and Rome — The Hebrews and Chris- 
tianity — Character and Early History of the Germanic Nations — The 
Germanic Nations in the Middle Ages — The Characteristics, the Problems, 
and the Difficulties of Modern Times. 

^ 1. TN the old world, too, we see how the beginnings of 
-*- human civilisation depend upon the favour of 
natural circumstances. It is between the Yangtsekiang and 
the Hoangho, in the lowlands of the Indus and Ganges, in 
the plain that lies between the Euphrates and the Tigris, and 
in the valley of the Nile, that we find the nurseries of the 
earliest civilisations. Fertilized by regular inundations, in 
restraining and utilizing which men's powers were for the 
first time combined for the co-operative production of careful 
hydraulic constructions, these river-lands brought forth in 
luxuriant abundance the vegetable products that were 
sufficient for human support in those climates which by their 
mildness reduced all physical wants to a minimum of 
complexity. In China and India the yield of rice was far 
above a hundredfold ; the quantity of fruit borne by the date- 
palms in Mesopotamia and Egypt was enormous ; Herodotus 
extols the splendid crops of corn and barley in the Babylonian 
plains ; he is silent, he says, regarding the wonderful growth 
of millet there, because he does not wish to be disbelieved. 
Such an abundance of edible natural products, besides which 
each country possessed also some special advantages, favourable 
to civilisation in other respects, allowed these countries to 
attain a density of stationary population which early led to 
a complex development of social relations. 

The accounts given by ancient writers, and a consideration 




of the monuments which have been discovered, equally con- 
vince us how early the civilisation which grew up in these 
countries attained that perfection in the adornment and 
re<Tulation of the surroundings of man's life which we some- 
times consider to be an exclusive privilege of the enlightened 
present. Of the dim shadow that in our thought is wont to 
lie upon the gray and distant past, not much could have been 
observable in that past itself ; it was bright and noisy, and in 
many places the externals of civilisation were developed with 
a perfection which could only be attained in an age sensible 
of having awakened to full consciousness, in contrast to the 
unawakened life of the past. Partly collected in large and 
populous towns, clothed in garments of cotton, or silk, or' 
linen — sometimes simple, sometimes a marvel of taste and 
splendour — these nations walked the earth with a most lively 
susceptibility to all the grace and beauty of existence ; the 
habitations of the rich were devoid neither of the variety 
of household furniture, which self-indulgent ease requires, 
nor of the mere embellishments of luxury, and the thousand 
charming trifles which imagination asks for the beautifying 
of life; their social meetings lacked hardly any of those 
means of amusement with which modern times are familiar, 
nor was their intercourse devoid of that ceremony which 
distinguishes human converse from the gregariousness of 
beasts. But all this brightness was not without its shadows ; 
tDn the contrary, even in those times, the splendid remains of 
v/hich we admire, men suffered under the pressure of the 
same social evils from which in the later periods of history 
they have never been able wholly to get free. 

The fewer the indispensable necessities of life are, the more 
easily they are satisfied by the spontaneous productiveness of 
the soil, the more mildness of climate tends to make these 
natural productions sufficient, and the less — in fine — general 
civilisation (as yet undeveloped) requires provident care for 
the future and for descendants : so much the more rapid will 
l)e the multiplication of an impoverished population, who will 
be forced by every temporary deficiency of their ordinary 




sustenauce, and by every unusual disaster, to offer their 
services to those who have property, each underbidding the 
other. Even if it had ever been the case that a society, of 
which all the members had perfectly equal rights and claims, 
had shared equally in the means of production in a new 
country, the natural course of things, by the different increase 
of different families and a thousand other accidents, would 
soon have introduced inequality of fortune. But it hardly 
seems that this eve" has been the case, the first permanent 
settlements having apparently grown up under other conditions 
more adverse to equality. 

Those favoured river- valleys of which the luxuriant fertility 
invited to steady cultivation, are in Asia separated from the 
inhospitable north by an extensive zone of steppes and 
pasture lands which, solely by their innumerable flocks of 
tameable and useful animals, afford support to a numerous 
population. Men have dwelt here from time immemorial ; 
pastoral tribes who still in many particulars remind one of 
the customs with which their most remote ancestors first 
appear in history. Made hardy by the discomforts of their 
roving life, and brought up to warlike vigour, and many of 
them being tribes of horsemen, in ancient times, as now, they 
moved about as nomadic hordes among the settlements of 
fixed civilisation. The chief towns of the latter were secured 
by impassable mountain boundaries from the continued 
repetition of petty attacks, to which perhaps they would 
have succumbed : but any considerable natural calamity 
which lessened the number of the flocks upon which the 
nomads depended, or any increase of population making richer 
sources of supply necessary, induced large bodies of the war- 
like shepherd tribes to make incursions into the countries of 
developed civilisation. 

The history of Asia is full of the conflict between these 
two forms of life. Often in ancient times have the rich lands 
of Western Asia been trodden under foot by hordes of 
mounted Scythians; the growing prosperity of China was 
threatened by Mongol attacks ; the already highly developed 



civilisation of Egypt was subject for centuries to the assaults 
of the Hyksos ; it was with the warlike nomads of Central 
'Asia that there began that migratory movement which, after 
the fall of the West Eoman Empire, initiated a new period of 
European history ; and not much more than five hundred year? 
have passed since there broke upon the eastern confines of 
Germany the last billows of that tremendous storm which the 
mighty spirit of Genghis Khan, supported by the united 
strength of all his tribes of wild horsemen, had brought upon 
the world. Thus the impulse which the unceasing restless- 
ness of these nomadic races has communicated to the external 
destinies of mankind seems to be extraordinarily great ; but 
on the other hand, in the history of civilisation no remini- 
scence of progress is attached to their name. In this region 
they have only made destructive incursions, and then have 
either sunk back again into their unhistoric existence or have 
fallen in with the civilisation of the nations with whom they 
mixed, without giving it any new direction. It was only the 
Arab nomads, who were of another complexion — burning 
religious zeal transformed them with amazing rapidity into 
conquerors of a great part of the civilised world. Without 
possessing advanced native civilisation, they appropriated 
many elements of western culture with a receptivity due 
perhaps to their southern origin, and gave to that which they 
had appropriated the characteristic stamp of their own mind. 

These occurrences of later times must have had their 
analogues also in the earliest historic ages. Most civilised 
nations, according to their traditions, consider themselves as 
settlers and not aborigines in the countries which they have 
made famous. In many cases they came with an already 
developed civilisation to these countries, and found them 
inhabited by aborigines who, notwithstanding favourable 
natural conditions, retained the savagery of their primitive 
condition. So the Aryan Indians, when they spread 
south of the Himalayas, drove out a native race of 
blacks, who retreated to the most inaccessible mountains of 
the Deccan; and so in Egypt some Negro race may have 



enjoyed the first-fruits of the rich soil, though the develop- 
ment of its historical life may have begun with the im- 
migration into the country of men of Caucasian race who 
later regarded themselves as autochthonous ; and traditions 
concerning the settlement of the Mediterranean coasts are 
full of the struggle between alien civilisation and aboriginal 
barbarism. But the converse process has also occurred ; it 
has repeatedly happened that tribes from pastoral districts or 
mountain regions, men of natural vigour and capable of 
development though as yet undeveloped, have fallen upon the 
more enervated inhabitants of the plains, and have carried on 
in their own name the civilisation which the latter had first 
established. It is not the more frequent but the rarer case 
when those nations which have first expended their labour 
on the soil of any country, have subsequently maintained 
themselves in possession of it, and kept in the van of the 
civilisation which its gradually unfolded resources have made 
possible. These circumstances have been influential in the 
formation of social order. 

Tribes of hunters and of nomads are apt to develop at a 
somewhat early stage of civilisation an aristocracy of rich and 
leading families ; and just as naturally are they inclined to 
regard mental endowment which boasts connection with an 
unseen power, with greater awe than bodily strength and 
warlike courage, which for them are quite in the ordinary 
course. Nomad life offers but few inducements for developing 
these differences of social consideration into really valuable 
privileges ; but in the transition to stationary life, the heads 
of tribes and the priests have always drawn tighter the loose 
reins which they held, and have succeeded by various means in 
bringing the fertile land entirely into their own power, and in 
compelling the great majority into their service as unpropertied 
labourers or dependent tenants. Among nomads the interests 
of all are too similar, and their simple way of life too readily 
scrutinized by all for it to be easy for budding despotism to 
make the individual members of the tribe permanently ser- 
viceable to its own ends; but a settled population involved 



in a multiplicity of complicated relations, soon becomes unable 
to take a comprehensive view of its own capacities and wants, 
and the difficulty for each individual of reckoning with 
certainty upon the intentions of others causes them collec- 
tively to fall an easy prey to the narrow class-interest of the 
few who understand one another. So it came to pass that in 
the most fertile regions, stationary life fell under the power of 
the priesthood, and of an hereditary nobility belonging to 
the order of chieftains ; where the nature of the country was 
favourable, the next step in advance concentrated the secular 
power, which is always jealous of partners, in one person, 
and produced the knitting-up of the spiritual power (which 
is everywhere conscious that it can only be effective as a 
combined unity) into an orderly system of strong corporations. 
The inequality of splendid and wretched lots, which thus arose 
in society, was finally only intensified when a conquering 
nation oppressed the conquered with the right of the stronger 
and the pride of nobler blood. 

Hereditary callings are natural to dawning civilisation. 
Partly with the object operated upon, as in the case of tillers 
of the soil, partly with the instruction which coincides with 
family education, where the transmission of knowledge by 
schools separate from the home is as yet non-existent, the calling 
of the parents is transmitted to the children ; free choice of 
some other employment is prevented both by the narrowness 
of men's intellectual horizon, which embraces only that which 
is famiKar, and forces them to attach themselves thereto, and 
by the natural jealousy with which not only the different 
classes of society, but also the various trades, strive to keep 
themselves exclusive. These customs have, moreover, swayed 
in many ways the civilisation of later times. They occurred 
in the dawning culture of Egypt and India ; but it was only 
in India that the contrast between the conquered race and the 
native population (which here was even greater than in the 
valley of the Nile), and, moreover, the influence of priestly 
views, developed such customs into those irremovable dis- 
tinctions of caste, which, while they made certain callings 



obligatory, oppressed all lower castes with the graduated 
contempt of those which were above them. China alone 
never laid these fetters of caste and status on its industrial 
population, knowing no hereditary differences of rank and 
calling, and all being under general state guardianship ; this 
was perhaps a happy incidental effect of the absence of 
religious fanaticism and warlike thirst for glory. It was only 
here that access to learning (though to learning of not 
much value) was thrown open to all, and instruction early 
diffused and favoured. In India there stirred an infinitely 
deeper intellectual life, that with its strange mixture of 
extravagant imagination and penetrating subtlety, embracing 
the secrets of heaven and the vanity of earthly life, affected 
only the favoured upper classes of society ; in Egypt and 
Babylon science and writing, the laboriously developed means 
of communication, were in the hands of the priests. Common 
life lacked the stimulus which might have been given to it by 
the wisdom which was kept secret, and this in its turn 
certainly lacked quite as much the impulse to progress which 
it might have received from intercourse with the thought of 
the people. Industry was not backed by any knowledge 
worth mentioning of the efficient powers of Nature ; it was 
facilitated by but few technical artifices, and animated by no 
spontaneous artistic impulse. Astronomy alone became early 
a subject of instruction, but it teaches only what happens and 
cannot be altered ; a knowledge of mechanical forces which 
man may use for his advantage was still wanting ; lucky 
discoveries might be treasured and transmitted, but no know- 
ledge of the principles of mechanical action invited men to 
progressive improvement in practice. The want of instru- 
ments similar to our machinery obliged actual manual labour 
to be employed everywhere, with a disproportionate expendi- 
ture of time and strength, and however great might be the 
luxury of the wealthy, the growing increase of remuneration 
could not repay the arduous labour expended on the pro- 
ductions required. Artistic activity was soon drawn into 
the service of religion ; and hence, and from love of splendour 


on the part of despots, it was stimulated to great works, though 
limited to certain established forms. Some few of these, as 
waterworks and roads, were of general utility ; most, like the 
Pyramids of Egypt, and in the new world the Teocallis of 
Mexico, and enormous temples and palaces, only bear witness 
to the harsh oppression which, when there was no advanced 
knowledge of practical mechanics, extorted such prodigious 
results by lavish expenditure of human strength. 

It is with varying feelings that we transport ourselves into 
these times. As long as it is only their productions that are 
before us, we admire ; these seem to our imagination to bear 
witness to a mighty creative impulse in which all men with 
one accord must then have revelled. If we consider the 
means by which it was all produced, then it seems to us that 
any state of society must have been unspeakably miserable 
which allowed the sorely oppressed majority to be tyrannically 
used for the satisfaction of the aimless fantastic vanity of a 
few, which abolished the natural equality of men by cruel 
distinctions, and restricted their activity by innumerable 
checks and hindrances. But it may be doubted whether 
history would have made any progress if its beginning had 
been a quiet and peaceful sort of life in which every individual 
produced and consumed undisturbed whatever was necessary 
for the satisfaction of his frugal wants ; mankind needed to 
be made aware that their vocation is not the mere supply of 
physical needs. The systematizing division into castes cer- 
tainly restricted men, but then it also first brought into the 
world the idea of a vocation, and it taught men not to 
think that in merely being men they had attained the end 
of their existence. The iron oppression of despotism used 
men as mere instruments, but it also was first to combine 
them together as members of one whole; the extravagant 
pride of rulers dragged men away on expeditions that aimed 
at conquering the world, but this thought of the sovereignty 
of the world was perhaps the only way in which hostile 
tribes, still in conflict with one another, could be brought 
partly to the enjoyment of comparative prosperity by the 


attainment of external order and security, and partly to a 
feeling of the connection of all mankind — a connection which, 
as with a binding law, overrides the caprice and hatred of indi- 
vidual races. And finally, the petty restrictions with which 
priestly ordinances beset life in all directions have in the East 
given rise to and maintained in the most effective manner the 
feeling of a constant connection between earthly existence and 
a universal history extending beyond mundane limits. The 
school of this first stage of education was hard and bloody ; 
but on the one hand the progress of mankind for a long time 
dragged on the same social evils under other forms, and on 
the other hand without such a school the beginning of civilisa- 
tion is even harder to conceive than its progress. It was 
through it that there arose for mankind the first really valuable 
content of life ; extolled by one, cursed by another, having for 
the great majority the imposing aspect of natural necessities 
of inscrutable origin, established social organizations captivated 
the imagination by the splendour of their monumental con- 
Btructions, and the will by the force of their attraction. 

This it is that we are accustomed to point out as the 
characteristic feature of the East and of its philosophy. The 
ordering of life which men established seemed to them — that 
is, the thing created seemed to the creators — to be a self- 
evident and unconditional necessity, and the freedom of the 
individual seemed to be swallowed up by the superior power 
of that universal the outlines of which each individual must 
help to fill in. Social arrangements were regarded not as 
historical and alterable human constructions ; all seemed 
to bear the stamp of supramundane sanctity ; whether the 
whole order of existence appear as in China to be an im- 
press of the being and rule of an impersonal Supreme, the 
copying of which restricts all caprice of personal activity 
to a faithful following of ancient customs and transmitted 
wisdom ; or whether, as in India, acquiescence in the melan- 
choly condition of oppression was due to the mystic tradition 
according to which different sorts of men proceed from more 
and less noble parts of the deity ; or whether, as in the 



pompous inscriptions with which the kings of Egypt and 
Persia used to cover the rocks, the ruler, as the direct repre- 
sentative of the Most High God, considered his commands to 
be binding on all the world. And as each private individual 
was reckoned as of little account in himself, so it was even 
with these rulers ; it was not as persons but as office-bearers 
that they stood at the head of humanity. In the East, when 
the insignia of supreme power have passed from one person 
to another, obedience and submission have always been trans- 
ferred along with them, apart from any fidelity to individuals. 
This sense of being embraced in a vast and predestined order 
was on the whole undisturbed by any spirit of disintegrating 
criticism ; the vast extent of the countries, the difficulty of 
communication, and the want of means of intellectual inter- 
course prevented this feeling from bsing opposed by any 
flexible and progressive public opinion. Customs and sys- 
tems of thought were maintained unaltered by tradition ; 
morality and secular law were not separated from religion 
and worship. Great as was the division of industrial labour 
into distinct callings, in practical politics the most diverse 
governmental functions overlapped ; general abstract points of 
view for the treatment of similar problems were not de- 
veloped, and even in its most craftily contrived arrangements 
the oriental art of government (like the lives of individuals) 
shows a matter-of-fact simplicity which aims solely at its 
particular end, without any attempt at shortening the way by 
the help of general maxims. 

Though this is the general character of the impression 
produced on us by a consideration of eastern nations, yet that 
impression must, of course, include many strong contrasts and 
counter-currents, since the men who lived there and then 
were in all respects the same manner of men as ourselves. 
The oriental character was not so wholly immovable and 
torpid as it seems to us at this distance of time. The ancient 
civilised states of Asia were not without mental revolutions, 
which for us, indeed, do not materially alter their general 
aspect, but for the men who experienced them were just as 



much periods of active progress as European development is 
for us. Our attention is diverted from these circumstances by 
the consideration that but very few of them have been of 
service to the subsequent progress of mankind. Almost all 
those civilisations, shut up in themselves, passed through their 
various phases of development in isolation; China, on the eastern 
edge of the continent, was from the beginning out of com- 
munication with the rest of the world; India did indeed 
come in various ways into contact with other countries, but 
without any important effects ; it was only Egypt and Asia 
Minor that gave to the West most of the elements of their 

§ 2. Only two great families of people — long in conflict with 
one another — the Semitic and the Indo-Germanic, have been 
instrumental in the further progress of history ; and even of 
them many branches have diverged from the main line of 
development, some continuing the practice of old accustomed 
forms of life, some in course of time disappearing altogether. 
In ancient times the south of Western Asia, from the moun- 
tains of Armenia, belonged to Semitic races. And even if we 
leave undecided whether the primitive culture and the lan- 
guage of Egypt were attributable to them, yet the high 
development of Mesopotamia, the mighty Babylon, remains an 
early monument of their strength. From the narrow coast- 
land of Phoenicia Semitic merchants went forth on bold and 
adventurous voyages to all the islands and shores of the 
Mediterranean Sea, and beyond the Straits of Gibraltar, and 
the traces of industrial settlements which they left behind in 
then obscure Europe may have guided in many ways the 
later civilisation of the Grecian world. When the rich cities 
of the little Phoenician mother-country had fallen from the 
giddy height of luxury and self-indulgence which they had 
reached, and had succumbed to an invading and hardier race, 
the colony of Carthage, the mistress of the Western Mediter- 
ranean and its coasts, long withstood in tremendous conflicts 
the growing might of Eome; when this struggle, too, was 
decided, and the secular power of the Indo-Germanic races 



was firmly estaUislied in Europe, the whole of the western 
world gradually submitted to the spiritual supremacy of 
Christianity, which took its rise and found its first advocates 
and ambassadors among a Semitic people. And even once 
again, in the Middle Ages it seemed doubtful whether the van 
of historical progress would henceforth be led by the still 
oriental genius of the Semitic race through the incursion of 
the Arabs, or by Indo-Germanic vigour, which had first attained 
full development in the West. 

Whether the nations which now possess Europe were 

preceded by an aboriginal population of different race, we 

know not. Comparative philology teaches that the European 

nations are, with few exceptions, branches of one stock, which 

more than four thousand years ago fed their flocks in the 

favoured regions on the western slo^e of the Himalayas. One 

branch of this stock of Aryans, the " excellent," as they called 

themselves, gained possession of the land watered by the 

Indus fifteen hundred years before the commencement of oui 

chronology, and about the same time another branch developed 

into a well-ordered and flourishing nation in the more westerly 

Iranian highland. India soon dropped out of the course of 

history in the isolation of its own fantastic development ; on the 

other hand, the Iranian tribes succumbed to the attacks of 

their Semitic neighbours on the west, before the permanent 

supremacy of their race was established in the great Persian 

Empire. If we lack historical information concerning even 

this first division of the two tribes which were nearest to one 

another locally, and which likewise continued to be in language 

and thought most closely allied both to one another and to 

the parent stock, still more obscure are the times at which 

and the paths by which the migrations of others to the far 

west took place. The Celtic tribes which pushed on as far 

as the Atlantic Ocean, and hence were probably the earliest 

among those who immigrated westwards through the continent 

of Europe, have won no special place among the great civilised 

nations. Their development (in which at one time in their 

Gallic abiding-places they were certainly in advance of their 



Germanic neighbours) was interrupted by the impulsive force 
of Eoman civilisation ; the remains of their dialects and 
customs are dying out. Later the Germanic immigration, 
and later still the Slavonic, reached Central Europe ; earlier 
than this, the as yet combined Greek and Eoman branches of 
the Aryan stock had spread over the ^gean Archipelago, 
the Hellespont, and the shores of the Black Sea, and split up 
into those two nations to which belongs the first brilliant 
instalment of European development. 

§ 3. The great Asiatic civilisations have, it is true, developed 
many a treasure of knowledge, of order, and of beauty ; but 
it was among the Greeks that mankind first opened their eyes 
full upon earth and heaven with that fresh, lucid, priceless 
awakedness of the whole living mind that we ourselves can 
feel and sympathize with. The various tribes of the Greek 
race lived through a long period of somewhat slow develop- 
ment, the beginnings of which are obscure, until the exertion 
of united strength, called forth by the pressure of foreign 
power, accelerated the onward impulse of that marvellous 
civilisation which, though its vital strength was soon exhausted, 
long continued to scatter its blossoms far and wide over the 

As blazing suns may have been produced by the condensa- 
tion of fiery vapour, so in Greece we see the immensity of 
oriental dimensions reduced to moderate and proportioned 
forms instinct with the most intense life. The theatre of 
development was a small district that could never boast any- 
thing like the number of inhabitants that an oriental monarch 
would have been content to rule over. Greece did not possess 
the fantastic wealth of alluring and terrifying wonders, which in 
the East had an enervating influence on organized energy, and 
amid which imagination ran riot ; the nature of the soil — 
which yielded a good return to labour without being luxu- 
ridntly fertile — accustomed men to industry ; a mild climate 
and bright atmosphere were favourable to fine physical 
development and to the training of the senses to accurate 
observation. The conformation of the country, which was 



broken into deep valleys and numerous mountains, caused 
small communities to be shut up together in the closest 
proximity; the unequalled extent of coast-line and the 
rich profusion of islands were favourable to intercourse 
between the inhabitants, whilst here — as everywhere — 
nearness to the sea was decidedly inimical to lasting union 
under one government. Thus did this land, a rare jewel of 
terrestrial conformation, nourish many independent commu- 
nities, within the narrow bounds of which the awakened 
nationality of the Greek -speaking race early developed 
extremely active public life — the Greek mind esteeming 
comprehension by means of language and knowledge of 
causes to be the crowning excellences of man, and social 
communion and intercourse with one's fellows to be the very 
flower of life's happiness. The age which regarded the 
heroic times as having immediately preceded it, and which 
celebrated in song the deeds of the heroes, was not without 
graceful forms of intercourse and demeanour; the continual 
friction and reciprocal action produced by interchange of opi- 
nions caused the nation to withdraw itself ever more and more 
from the yoke of transmitted custom as it gained new points 
of view, and it began to reconstruct with conscious art all its 
social and political relations ; soon, having become accustomed 
to doubt and to critical analysis, it called in question all the 
foundations of ordered human existence, and was ruined by 
a sophistical excess of free thought, which here rose supreme 
over all constancy of existing relations and duties, just as in 
the East the traditional objective order of things had fettered 
all freedom of subjective conviction. 

To indicate to some extent in a single phrase the historical 
position of a phsenomenon so complex and full of life, is what 
we can hope to do only if we attempt not to exhaust its 
many-sided content, but merely to emphasize the difference 
between it and preceding times. Considered in this restricted 
sense, those no doubt are right who find in Greek life the 
first youthful self- comprehension of the human mind and the 
first dawning of that light of self-consciousness by which man 



examines both his own destiny and the claim which existing 
natural relations have upon him. In the most various depart- 
ments we see both this critical impulse and its youthful 

However much of knowledge and of skill and of wise 
maxims earlier nations may have possessed and employed 
both in the regulation of social relations and in systematic 
art, the thought of seeking out the very grounds and bases of 
our judgment of things, and of combining them demonstra- 
tively and deductively in a system of truths — the foundation 
of science in fact — will for ever remain the glory of the Greeks. 
The immortal services which they rendered in this direction 
belonged certainly, then as nowj to individuals, tiot to the 
crowd. However, to have produced the individuals — and 
of them not few — who aimed at and accomplished such 
great things, belongs, whether as good fortune or as merit, 
to the historic idea of the Greek nation. Among the 
special national characteristics of the Greeks were always 
that active insight and dispassionate spirit of investigation 
which examines every fact on all sides, tests every dictum, 
analyses every prepossession, and by an ineradicable inclina- 
tion to try and understand every particular by reference to 
general causes and in its connection with the whole, led to 
the conscious formation of general notions^ to proof, to classi- 
fication, and, in short, to all those methodical forms of thought 
by which the theory and science of the West will be for ever 
distinguished from even the most imaginative sagacity and 
the most intellectual enthusiasm of the East. 

They brought this spirit of investigation into all depart- 
ments. Not only did they lay the foundations of logic and 
mathematics with remarkable exactness, but at the same time 
they interested themselves in the exhaustive treatment of 
domestic economy, the organization of the body politic, and 
the problems of moral education, as subjects of systematic 
science. A quick and unbiassed eye for matters of immediate 
experience helped them to free themselves from slothful 
acquiescence in inherited prejudices and the unreasoning 


passion of superstition, which, mixiDg things human ai"n3 
divine with confused ardour, furnishes neither peaceful faith 
as regards the one, nor intelligent equanimity as regards the 
other. They shook off ever more and more the influence of 
oriental mysticism, which, with rank growth, everywhere 
sees and shuns incomprehensible and oppressive secrets in 
the smallest trifles, and created what was to this as prose is to 
dithyrambic verse. I do not mean prose composition, which 
also they did at last laboriously develop, but the judicious 
way of looking at the world which receives that which is 
inspiring with enthusiasm, that which is sober with sobriety, 
that which is earthly as earthly, that which is mechanical as 
mechanical — which does not treat everything with the same 
excitement and grandiloquence, but calmly estimates different 
things according to their degree of importance. Thus they 
early separated the secular life from the religious, as far as 
the two can be separated, and freed themselves from oriental 
theocracy ; thus their impulse towards political freedom sup- 
pressed by degrees all those differences in the rights of indi- 
viduals which they had received by tradition ; thus in art 
much which was great and splendid, which the East cherished 
passionately but expressed chaotically, they preferred to leave 
altogether, in order to devote themselves to more manageable 
tasks in which they could make the special orderly rhythm 
of beauty as supreme as they tried to make the laws of truth 
over the facts of science. 

But this spirit of investigation is in its very nature of 
double significance. It must assume an unconditioned and 
objective truth in things themselves, for without this its 
critical labour would be aimless ; at the same time it must 
be the individual subject who by his recognition and confirma- 
tion first establishes this truth. The Greeks were not able to 
escape the influence of the double impulse here involved — the 
impulse on the one hand to reverence for that which is in 
itself true, and on the other hand to the ever-busy search for 
a truth that is yet more true ; and herein, as in their bright 
artistic freshness of life, they exhibit the youthful age of the 



human race. For youth in struggling upwards, often — 
when it has thrown aside the dreamy prejudices of child- 
hood — hecomes presumptuously doctrinaire, over-estimating, 
in the consciousness of growing insight, the instruments 
of knowledge, thinking little of the immediate and indemon- 
strahle evidence of obvious truths and feelings ; and while 
seeking ideals, unable to recognise as ideal anything that it 
cannot by proof and deduction transform into a product of its 
own reason. This over-estimation of pure thought and its 
instruments, logical forms, itself in many ways impoverished 
the science of the Greeks ; they too often thought that they 
knew the thing itself when they had merely analysed the 
movement of thought by which we seek to approach the 
thing. In practice, however, reverence for individual dex- 
terity of thought, and for dialectic skill in dealing with things, 
far exceeded respect for the nature of things themselves. 
The active Greek mind had discovered in rapid succession 
a multitude of standpoints from which to estimate all 
human affairs, and sometimes the establishment and develop- 
ment of art, sometimes any novel paradox was held to be 
of more consequence than the approval of an incorruptible 
conscience, the simple sense of duty, or immediate con- 
viction. They thought that they could everywhere begin 
afresh from the very beginning, and that they both could 
prove everything and needed to do so; they connected moral 
teaching with theoretic speculation and its uncertainties ; 
they had little feeling for historical relations which cannot 
be charmed away by the magic of a theoretic dictum ; every 
fresh fancy to which any logical support whatever could be 
given, seemed to them entitled to be tested as a new principle. 
We often hear them enjoining upon one another respect and 
reverence towards ancestral traditions and the historical 
continuity of social conditions; but a glance at the multi- 
tudinous variety of political, social, and ethical experiments 
made by them as time went on shows how little these 
admonitions were attended to; and when by some chance 
they were attended to, this was due to their having the 


attraction of presenting some other momentarily new point of 

It had not always been so. Before the Persian wars the 
undeveloped state of society, and the prevalence of a busy, 
hard-working way of life had counterbalanced this excessive 
mental activity; but at that time the Greeks had not yet 
reached the turning-point of the historic race they had to run. 
The score or so of years that elapsed between their conflict for 
freedom and the Peloponnesian war comprise the time of short 
but brilliant bloom when the Greek spirit of liberty in its 
onward evolutionary struggle had not yet developed pernicious 
fruits. But lasting prosperity was impossible ; the distin- 
guishing excellences of the people were ruined by their 
unbridled sophistry. None of their virtues touches us more 
or was more of a novelty in history than their patriotism, and 
their readiness to sacrifice themselves for the good of a com- 
monwealth that was founded on freedom of intercourse between 
the citizens and on comprehension of the benefit resulting from 
participation in common joy and labour and recreation and 
danger. But however highly they esteemed their fatherland 
and national freedom, yet each one understood national pro- 
sperity after his own fashion, and sought to realize this ideal 
after his own fashion ; there were incessant revolutions, and 
these caused the rights of individuals to be in a state of con- 
stant fluctuation, and often produced such terrible crimes that 
the bloody history of real events forms a melancholy contrast 
to the splendid insight which we admire in the works left by 
Greek genius to posterity. Without the individualist spirit 
which impelled single towns to emulation for the palm in 
civilisation and artistic distinction, Greece would not have 
reached the eminence which she did ; but when there came 
changed conditions, not admitting of such a dissipation of 
strength, the Greeks did not learn to suppress that selfish 
envy which had everywhere associated itself with the less 
ignoble form of the affection. Their imagination, indeed, 
continued susceptible to the great national thought of the 
freedom of all Greece j but they knew too many points of 



view from which it was possible to justify anything and 
everything, and they had lost the simple sense of duty which 
robs all sophistry of its strength. They had early allowed 
to the Persian king an influence in their internal affairs which 
Ptome never granted to the Punic enemy of her kingdom ; 
and Greece — abounding in examples of treachery on the part 
of her distinguished men, depopulated by constant dissensions 
and by immorality that was sometimes sophistically justified 
and sometinaes practised shamelessly, and lacking steady dis- 
cipline — fell an inglorious prey to the attacks of Italy. 

§ 4. We are accustomed to regard the Eoman nation as 
the potent temporal power which, after it had destroyed the 
independence of the Greeks, afforded protection to Greek 
genius, enabling it, as it were, to- concentrate itself, and 
laying at its feet a conquered world. And, in fact, what the 
Eomans contributed from their own resources to the treasures 
of civilisation may soon be reckoned up ; but the worth of 
what they did contribute is not lessened by its lack of variety. 
They accomplished a work which was impossible for the 
Greeks ; they combined the nations of the earth in the com- 
munity of a vast political life, and in the most diverse countries 
left seeds of civilisation which were not slightly sown, but 
took such deep root that their living branches have ramified 
through the whole history of later times. When Alexander 
of Macedon, leading the combined forces of Greece, and 
dreaming of a union between East and West, sought in his 
rapid triumphal progress through conquered Asia to spread 
Greek civilisation to the confines of India, the dazzling 
splendour of his individuality, so strange and full of genius, 
blinds us to the hopelessness of an undertaking of which very 
soon the only traces were to be found in legends in which the 
wondering nomads of Asia praised the hero who had come 
from afar. The Eomans never indulged projects to be carried 
out at such a distance from their natural sources of supply; 
after they had, in hard-fought struggles for their own independ- 
ence, subdued Italy and warded off Carthaginian supremacy in 
Europe, they progressed but slowly — impelled by circumstances 



and lingering by the way — to that universal dominion which,: 
when once established, was maintained for centuries. Such 
great historical results indicate the historical significance of| 
the nation itself, and indeed, compared to Rome, Greece lived 
from hand to mouth, passionately pursuing immediate ends, 
while the political activity of the Eomans was guided by a 
wider view, taking in the future, in which they were con- 
scious that their destiny lay. The Greeks lived, as on 
some terrestrial Olympus, only for the sake of beauty and 
of working out their own development ; to the Romans the 
known world, all the countries bordering the Mediterranean 
Sea, seemed to be an actual field of labour, setting before them 
definite tasks of acquisition, guardianship, and government. 
From ancient Italian civilisation they had received the idea 
of a mysterious lapse of time through ages marked by distinct 
characteristics ; they felt themselves to be the bearers of this 
historical development and co-operators in its production, and 
their poets are hardly so loud in praising Rome's existing 
greatness as in emphasizing perpetually its undying future. 
And the result has proved that they were right. Greece, 
having perished as a terrestrial power, still lives on in the 
mind of the civilised world, though without any striking 
influence upon the conditions of our lives ; but a countless 
number of our social and political arrangements, and a great 
part of our mental life, may be traced back along a line of 
unbroken tradition to Rome ; and to places where there are 
no flourishing towns that owe their origin to her, modern 
civilised nations have carried with their language the lasting 
influence which they themselves received from her; Latin 
words and forms of speech are heard on the banks of the 
Ganges, and mingle on American plains with the labials of 
Indian dialects. 

Human action is either guided directly by the idea of some 
desired result, and then easily comes to consider the means 
as sanctified by the end, or it follows general principles of 
universal validity, and will refrain from carrying out an 
intention as long as this can only be done by transgressing 



them. The artistic bent of their minds inclined the llreeks 
to the first way ; the Eomans are distinguished by the con- 
viction that a valid result can only be attained by respecting 
the fixed relations prescribed by the nature of those elementa 
which co-operate in its production. We shall have occasion 
later to see how far this thought penetrated their whole life 
and action ; in the present rapid survey we only wish to recall 
to mind the pearl of Roman civilisation — the development of 
law. For knowledge of the truth that is and operates in 
things and events, the Eomans, as compared with the Greeks, 
did nothing; but the thought that the world of relations 
brought into existence by our actions, is just as much governed 
by a complex and inviolable order independent of our will as 
the forces of external Nature are in their general statical and 
dynamical relations — this thought owes its existence to the 
Eomans. They did not, like the Orientals, regard existing rela- 
tions as irrevocable decrees of fate ; neither did they, after the 
fashion of the Greeks, consider actual rules, established insti- 
tutions, and acquired rights as having the pliability of wax^ 
and a capability of being moulded differently according to 
men's caprice, if they hindered the realization of an ideal j 
the Eomans regarded both — both the variation which the 
needs of human nature demand, and the fixed condition which 
refuses change — as two valid forces between which men had 
to steer by means of law. They did not begin at the apex of 
the pyramid — at the ideal or desirable form of the state as a 
whole, logically deducing from this the just rights of the 
citizens, but they first of all established on general principles 
those relations between individuals which arise in the living 
intercourse of daily life. It was real needs, the requirements 
of circumstances, which subsequently impelled them to limita- 
tions of those private rights, in order to attain the prosperity 
of the whole which is itself the sum of all the individuals ; 
and the final form of commonwealth aimed at was in every 
age that which combined in satisfactory practice respect for 
transmitted rights, provision for new wants, and the conditions 
required for the growth and continuance of the whole. Thus 



there arose that unparalleled social struggle between the 
patricians and plebeians, in which violent passions — on the one 
hand a haughty insistence on privileges, and on the other a 
consciousness that participation in these privileges must be 
got by fighting for them — were held in check by regard to the 
necessary stability of political life, by recognition of the 
sacredness of law, though it were only formal law, by un- 
swerving obedience towards governmental authority which 
had once been recognised, and finally, by a stern patriotism 
from which all thought of treachery was far removed. 

The results of this evolutionary struggle were not as 
fortunate as the character which found expression in it was 
noble. The inadequacy of the republican political construc- 
tion which had been suited to- earlier and more limited rela- 
tions was only compensated, as the state grew and enlarged, 
whilst the great men — of whom the patrician race produced 
many — used the space for independent action which was left 
to them to show brilliant examples of self-sacrifice and 
inherited political wisdom. This famous aristocracy fell 
into the background, as circumstances came to require rathei 
the concentration of power in one hand than a general dis- 
tribution of rights. In contrast to a new nobility of wealth 
without ennobling traditions that began to arise, the numbers 
of the unpropertied increased. The almost uninterrupted 
state of war which marked the early days of Rome had never 
favoured peaceful labour and industry ; when at a later date 
Greek civilisation and acquaintance with the customs of so 
many different nations had undermined the old simplicity and 
strictness, when the treasures of the East and the products of 
the pre-eminently industrial countries poured in, and swarms 
of slaves in the palaces of the rich practised every kind of 
craft, a class of free labourers could find neither respect for 
their position nor a market for their products ; even the 
ancient agriculture of Italy and the independence of the 
country population suffered from the accumulation of enormous 
wealth in the hands of individuals, and the expenditure of 
this wealth on useless luxuiy. Between the inordinate self- 



indulgence and ambition of the aristocrats, and the bessrar- 
liness of a populace that could be won over to aid in any 
destructive project, the order of free citizens, which was the 
strength of the state, disappeared ; and after long and bloody 
conflicts, the republic, shaken by the unprincipled struggles 
of individuals after power, fell under the dominion of the 
emperors, with undeveloped or impoverished forms of 

For centuries as these rulers succeeded one another, mad- 
ness alternated with discretion, cruelty with clemency, and 
Eoman civilisation had an opportunity of showing what 
power of endurance and of resistance there was in it and in 
its creations, even after the animating impulse had died out. 
Whilst general enervation went on increasing, the discipline 
of the Eoman armies still continued for a long time victorious 
over external foes ; under the pressure of arbitrary political 
rule, the legal consciousness still went on developing to 
scientific clearness and completeness ; amid the decay of 
morals there shine forth many examples of noble manliness 
that bear witness to the enduring power of a great past; and by 
similarity of regulations, by great roads of communication, by 
the general diffusion of one language and of one culture 
taught in numerous schools, all the countries bordering the 
Mediterranean Sea were connected together into one great 
whole of common life, which in the isolated happy intervals 
of peace and benignant government might with justice rejoice 
in the consciousness of such a degree of human happiness as 
had never before been attained. If, however, this state of 
society still contained the seeds of permanence, yet as far as 
human eyes can see, there were in it no elements of fresh 
progress ; it was from outside the circle of nations which 
had thus far developed civilisation, that there came, through 
Christianity, the shock with which ancient history concludes 
and a new period begins. 

§ 5. Among the theocratically governed nations of the East, 
the Hebrews seem to us as sober men among drunkards ; but 
to antiquity they seemed like dreamers among waking folL 



"With thoughtful imaginativeness these latter had considered 
the causes of the world and the sources of their own life and 
death ; and feeling themselves to be parts of the great divine 
universal frame, they accompanied with wild rituals of sensu- 
ality or self-torture all the convulsions of its mysterious life — 
the yearly change of decay and revival in Nature, the struggle 
of the bright and beneficent with the dark and hostile powers ; 
and over and above this wisdom which was current in daily 
life, the exclusive learning of the priests seemed to hide 
innumerable further secrets. All this was regarded by the 
Hebrews with the most extreme indifference ; the mighty and 
jealous God who desires uprightness of heart, who pursues 
sin, and is avenged on iniquity — He indeed it is who has 
created the world and has caused all kinds of herbs and 
animals to spring up, and has formed the stars of heaven, 
because He willed that everything should be very good. But 
the imagination of the people was not absorbed in the con- 
templation of this creation, in which His glory was expressed 
only as it were by the way; to them God was a God of 
history, to whom Nature is as the mere footstool of His power, 
but the life of men, the life of His chosen people, the one 
object of His providential care. The whole superfluity of 
mystic natural philosophy, which so uselessly burdened the 
other religions of antiquity, was cast aside by the Hebrews, 
that they might devote themselves to the great problem of 
the spiritual world — the problem of sin and of righteousness 
before God ; they felt themselves involved, not in the whirl 
of everlasting natural cycles, but in the advance of historical 
progress ; they did not trouble themselves about secrets which 
concerned only past events, but all the more deeply were they 
interested in the problems of the future ; and these problems 
were not to remain hidden, but the prophets were impelled 
by divine inspiration to announce to all, for their comfort the 
final attainment of a heavenly kingdom, for their repentance 
the commands of God. After the times of the first patriarchs 
with whom God had entered into covenant, the national mode 
of life had undergone many changes. The patriarchal 


sheplierds of the early times had, after the Egyptian oppres- 
sion, become a warlike nomadic race ; they had then formed 
])ermanent settlements and cultivated the land ; finally, they 
were inspired with the commercial spirit of their Semitic 
neighbours, and, like the Phoenicians, became scattered over 
all parts of the then known world ; the fundamental thought 
of their national life — their covenant with God, the conscious- 
ness of an historical destiny, and the hope that this would be 
realized — they had not forgotten, but on the contrary had 
become more and more confirmed in after many waverings at 
the outset. The civilised nations of antiquity, whose ingenious 
mythology and philosophical notions of divinity lacked no- 
thing but simple faith in their reality, began to have their 
attention drawn to a nation that possessed in so high a degree 
the living conviction of which they themselves were destitute, 
and to which the ideas of God and His kingdom were not the 
mere ornamental poetical framework of a wholly secular view 
of life, but the most deep and serious reality. In the 
gradually sinking Eoman Empire the Jewish faith gained 
consideration and adherents, although its national character 
was a drawback to it. But now the predictions of a Messiah 
had been suddenly fulfilled ; the new covenant w'th God was 
proclaimed by enthusiastic disciples as an historical reality, 
and not merely a new doctrine added to the many other 
doctrines of the past ; and the tenor of their announcement 
did not contradict the hope of finding the true satisfaction of 
lonfjinfi desire in the final union — of which the secret had 
been long lost — of mundane and supramundane existence. 
The excellences and the weaknesses of existing Eoman civili- 
sation combined with some special historical circumstances to 
favour the spread of Christianity; but of more efficacy than 
all these was its own inherent power, due to its startling 
contrast with the hitherto received view of the world, and its 
consoling agreement with the secret thoughts that had been 
wont to rise in rebellion against that view. 

Everything which a religion has to give it offers to the 
understanding in doctrines, to the heart in its characteristic 



tone, its consolations, and its promises, and to the will in 
commands. The original doctrines of Christianity were not 
very multifarious. All those questions concerning the origin, 
coherence, and significance of Nature which Judaism had 
already passed over were also left undecided by the Gospels. 
Speaking only of the kingdom of heaven, it exalted the 
community of spiritual life as the true reality, in the glorious 
light of a history embracing all the world, and let Nature and 
its evolutions quietly glide back into the position of a place 
of preparation, the inner regulation of which will be revealed 
in due time. Neither did it speak of divine things as if it 
would measure out the Infinite demonstratively in concepts 
of human reason ; all questions concerning the relation of 
God to mankind, which had already exercised in various ways 
the ingenuity of ancient culture, it passed lightly over with 
figurative phrases borrowed from human relations. Thus it 
seemed to reveal even less than that culture had already dis- 
covered. But in speaking of the sacred love which wills the 
existence of the world for the sake of that world's blessedness, 
and has its justice restrained by pardoning grace, it emphasized 
so much the more certainly that one thought the uncondi- 
tioned and ever self-asserting worth of which can do without 
the confirmation of proof (which is very foreign to the nature 
of religion) ; and the content of that thought as the only 
thing that is really certain, at the same time guides the 
activity of sagacious investigation in a definite direction. 

So Christianity ofiered infinite stimulus to the under- 
standing without binding it down to a narrow circle of 
thought; and to the heart it offered full as much. For, 
according to Christianity, the sole truth and the source of 
reality with all its laws was something of which the eternal 
worth must be felt in order to be known ; from the reality 
thus known through feeling, man's understanding can 
reach back to that which is divine, and can very often 
conclude from it to the divine, as from the ground of 
demonstration to that which is demonstrable. In this it 
met the eternal longing of the human heart, and satisfied it 


in a fashion wholly new. The consciousness of finiteness has 
always oppressed mankind ; but however much moral con- 
trition we may find in the enthusiasm of the Indians, how- 
ever much dread of self-exaltation in Greek circumspection, 
however much fidelity to duty in Eoman manhood, yet every- 
where this finiteness was felt to be merely a natural doom 
by which the less is given into the power of the greater, and 
its existence irrevocably confined within limits, whilst 
within these limits the finite is destined to attain by its 
own strength its highest possible ideal. The Indian sought 
to extort eternal life by frightful penances; the Greek was 
afraid of rousing the envy of the gods by pride, but he aimed 
at perfecting himself as man, and it seemed to him that virtue 
might be taught as any craft may be ; the Eoman, knowing 
nothing of a blissful life of the gods beyond his own, went 
self-renouncingly to death for duty's sake, an honest man 
whom yet no god had helped to be what he was. The 
characteristic of humility and submission, that is lacking 
even in the most mournful expressions of this sense of 
finiteness in antiquity, was brought for the first time by 
Christianity into the heart of men, and with it hope came 
too. It was a redemption for men to be able to tell them- 
selves that human strength is not sufficient for the accom- 
plishment of its own ideals ; hence from this time mankind 
no longer seemed to be an isolated species of finite being, 
turned out complete by the hand of Nature, and destined to 
reach unaided, by innate powers, definite goals of evolution. 
Freed from this isolation, giving himself up to the current of 
grace, which as continuous history combines infinite and 
finite, man is enabled to feel himself in community with the 
eternal world, which he must stand outside of as long as he 
desired to be independent or believed that he must be so. 
And since the mere belonging to a particular race was row 
no longer a source of justification or condemnation — salvation 
needing to be taken hold of by the individual heart, which 
must be willing to lose its life in order that it might find it 
again — there now began to be developed for the first time 



tliat personal consciousness which thenceforward with all its 
problems — freedom of the will and predestination, guilt and 
responsibility, resurrection and immortality — has given a 
totally different colouring to the whole background of man's] 
mental life. This momentous content has indeed never 
reached the clearness of calm comprehension in the minds of 
all mankind to whom it was proclaimed ; but even those who 
tried to resist it have never been able to get rid of itai 
influence ; it has remained the centre about which the 
civilisation of later times has always revolved, in hope or 
doubt, in assurance or fear, in zeal or scorn. 

To him who so regarded the eternal connection between 
earth and the kingdom of heaven, all earthly history must 
seem but as a preparation for the true life, not valueless, 
since it aims at this goal, nor yet burdened by the tremendous 
seriousness of absolute irrevocability. Therefore Christianity 
proposed to the will only such commands as require per- 
manent goodness of disposition ; from the ordering of human 
affairs by ceremonies, law, and government, it stood indefi- 
nitely far. It could do without that which the heathen 
theocracies were compelled to demand ; since what it asked 
for God was God's, it could give to C£esar that which was 
Caesar's. As for it God was not primarily revealed in 
Nature in the manifold forms of His creation from which the 
grounds of reverence might be deduced, so life was not 
primarily an established order of moral relations within which 
man might walk with a sense of security along paths definitely 
marked out ; but to man's inner life was entrusted the work 
of gradually raising the forms of society to relations which 
were in harmony with his spirit. Therefore the attitude of 
Christianity towards the external conditions of mankind was 
not that of a disturbing and subversive force, but it deprived 
evil of all justification for its permanent continuance. It did 
not forthwith abolish the slavery which it found existing, but 
in summoning all men to partake in the kingdom of God, it con- 
demned it nevertheless ; at first it let polygamy continue where 
it existed ; but this must necessarily disappear spontaneously 



when the spirit of Christian faith made itself felt in all 
relations of life. And this conflict is still carried on in many- 
directions, for the perversity of human nature, which is ever 
much the same, opposes to the better way all the resistance of 
which it is capable ; but there is one permanent advantage by 
which the new age is distinguished from antiquity. That 
which is better and juster did indeed make a way for itself in 
ancient life, but almost exclusively in those cases in which 
the oppressed struggled manfully with the oppressor; the 
provident humanity which, without seeking its own happiness, 
takes the part of the suffering section of mankind, and requires 
and exercises deeds of justice and of mercy, was something 
very foreign to the ancient world, and in the new world it has 
no more powerful source than Christianity. 

In conflict with mundane circumstances and human passions, 
and yet linked to both as the instruments of its realization, 
no ideal can, in the course of its historical development, 
remain faithful to its full perfection. Christianity, forced to 
justify itself to the civilisation of the ancient world, became 
entangled in the attempt to establish dogmatically the articles 
of its belief, in the hopeless effort to force upon its professors, 
instead of the inexhaustible fulness of living thoughts which 
the gospel can arouse in each, a complete system, many of 
the regulations of which were as barren in regard to practice as 
the productions of ancient sophistry. The simple division of 
labour which had arisen in the primitive Churches from the 
duties of the society in regard to worship of God and ordinary 
life, was transformed into a gradation of fixed offices as the 
diffusion of Christianity increased ; in opposition to the 
universal human priesthood of the gospel, there was a fresh 
separation from the laity of an order of priests, and in the 
edifice of the hierarchical church the empire of the Holy 
Ghost stiffened into a slavish, earthly mechanism. But these 
deformities of Christian life, which a later age might imder- 
take to rectify, were but as the tough rind which alone 
enabled that life, amid the ruins of the falling Eoman empire, 
to save itself for its future. 



S 6. The Germanic nations — the often victorious, often 
conquered, but never subdued enemies of Eome — at last 
completed the work to which they seemed destined, by dis- 
integrating that empire of ancient civilisation which had 
lasted for a thousand years. But they were not in a 
condition to substitute from their own resources a new 
civilisation for that which was passing away. The long 
death struggle of the Eoman empire — which the Germans 
themselves, as the most valiant of the auxiliary troops, 
prolonged for a considerable time — had indeed brought them 
into many-sided contact with the elements of ancient 
civilisation and the teachings of Christianity, but the mass 
of that great people which spread victoriously over the 
Eoman provinces had yet remained true to the simple life 
which they had lived on without historic record from time 
immemorial. No one knows what events filled up the long 
succession of centuries which lay between their first detach- 
• ment from their original abode in Asia and their appearance 
in the history of European civilisation. It is probable that 
being long without a settled home, harassed by tribes who 
were pressing on them in their wake, they maintained their 
valour and warlike vigour in the struggle for existence ; 
but that in the northern settlements, where they finally estab- 
lished themselves, they made little progress towards polite 
manners. At the time that the Eoman empire began, and 
was revelling in all the treasures of the known world, the 
Germanic tribes still lived by the chase, by the produce of 
their herds of cattle, and by a somewhat rudimentary 
agriculture ; they no longer roamed about homeless, but had 
fixed dwellings ; as, however, their settlements were much 
dispersed, and they had no towns, they had none of that 
industry \^hich is developed as a consequence of density of 
population and division of labour. Accustomed to hard 
simplicity in food and raiment — having even to economize 
the iron which they used in their weapons, since they did 
not know how to procure it for themselves — they braved 
the inclemencies of the weather in rude huts, being some- 


times driven by hard winters into subterranean caves. 
Inclined to sociability, they yet found little to occupy them 
except fighting, games, carouses, and listening to heroic 
songs which repeated the great deeds of that same simple 
life. But with this meagre culture they yet combined 
qualities of character which were destined under more favour- 
able future conditions to bring special benefits to mankind 
in the course of history. They possessed in high measure 
the love of freedom which contents itself with guarding 
from foreign influence its own liberty of choice in the 
conduct of life, but they had not the envious impulse 
towards equality which cannot endure that others should 
have the advantage in anything. It seems as though for 
the sake of that independence they had purposely refrained, 
in the simple arrangements of their society, from numerous 
steps in advance which, while bringing greater fulness and 
development of life, would have prejudiced the independence 
of many ; but they submitted to the superior power of gifted 
leaders of their own free will, and with the most perfect 
fidelity ; and, without recognising hereditary sovereignty or 
nobility, they yet had high respect for the heroic blood of 
famous families. This trait of willing service and absolute 
personal devotion is widely noticeable throughout their 
history, and as this is only possible in personal relations it 
has in later times always made the German nations more 
disposed to associate in somewhat small circles than to 
combine into one great whole. In the same way it always 
remained difficult for them to become enthusiastic about 
general principles which were not presented to them embodied 
in some personal form ; but when such an enthusiasm did 
take possession of them, it was all the more lasting, for it was 
a long time before they came to know how to take up any 
cause half-heartedly. They were bound to give their whole 
soul to anything which they took in hand. It may be 
admitted that with such a disposition they were well pre- 
pared for the reception and inner elaboration of Christianity, 
without denying that in the early ages of the Church it 


was the more southern nations of the Eoman provinces that 
produced those men of lofty enthusiasm and deep earnestness 
who, as Fathers of the Church, were the forerunners of 
Christian life in the north. 

The tremendous movement of national migration now 
caused the Germanic peoples to spread, in successive great 
waves, repeatedly breaking one upon another, over all the 
provinces of the Eoman empire. They were not able to 
hold any of these southern conquests, being everywhere in 
a minority compared with the native population ; but for a 
long time the union of the civilised world was broken by 
them, and over the rich countries bordering the Mediter- 
ranean Sea, which Eome had brought together in the noon- 
tide light of organized intercommunication, there fell a long 
twilight, in which some countries disappeared from the view 
of the others, and many elements of a previous common 
civilisation were lost. 

The great and varied admixture of peoples and modes of 
life which the increase of the Eoman empire and the grow- 
ing development of intercourse had produced, had already in 
the closing period of ancient civilisation begun to disturb 
the simple, pliable, and self-confident spirit of antiquity, the 
one condition of which had been an isolated national develop- 
ment in accordance with a natural bent. Before the period 
of this disturbance a system of consistent philosophic views 
had been instrumental in causing the production of finished 
works of art exquisitely proportioned; clear and definitely 
determined tasks had given harmony and character to life 
itself ; notwithstanding the inexhaustible variety of detail, 
reality as a whole — with its store of attainable good things 
and those desirable forms of human life to which it gave 
scope — was spread before men's eyes with the perfection and 
completeness of a well-arranged picture. Yet this whole 
mode of thought had certainly rather suppressed than satisfied 
the wants of the human heart The self-distrust which had 
earlier overtaken Greek life found its way into the Eoman 
world too in the time of the emperors. Unquestioning faith 



in tlie supremacy of Eome gave way to cosmopolitan con- 
siderations ; the narrow but robust system of tliought which 
constituted national morality was invaded by philosophic 
reflection ; artistic imagination, which suffers most of all from 
mental indecision, changed its calm mirroring of reality for 
dissatisfied and passionate flights beyond the world of fact, 
and commingled accepted forms of representation in attempts 
of a new kind. Eeligious belief had long since lost its 
certainty ; with the most baseless superstition was com- 
bined a restless longing to win back from any known or 
unknown worship prevailing among men the certainty which 
had been lost. Then Christianity came, and the new 
spiritual growth had to force its way up through the rents 
of the ancient system of thought, the external integrity of 
which was finally destroyed by the invading torrent of the 
German barbarians. If this blending of all imaginable forms 
of life could not fail to change fundamentally the genius of 
what remained of the ancient nations, it could likewise not 
fail to be difficult for the conquerors to know what attitude 
to take towards such boundless variety. These conquerors 
came down upon the Eoman empire without any definite aims, 
partly yielding to necessity, partly urged by the struggles 
towards expansion of a strong nature that sought to appease 
its impulse to action by violent and powerful but yet object- 
less exercise. Now there lay before them the down-trodden 
classic world, with all its rich treasures of Nature, of art, and of 
life, and with the countless elements of civilisation which it 
still contained ; in exercising themselves upon this battle-field 
they for a long time gave to history that stamp of adventurous 
romance which — with its wealth of free and original powers, 
its inharmonious struggle after great and passionately pur- 
sued yet mutually inconsistent ends, its variety of strange 
forms of life, and its incoherence — distinguishes the Middle 
Ages from the period of ancient history. 

§ 7. When after three centuries the stream of national 
migration had come to a stand, there had become united under 
Frankish rulers districts in which indeed Germanic blood pre- 



pondorated, but the inhabitants of which could hardly feel 
themselves bound together by any common tie except when 
they were obliged to take the field together against an external ! 
foe. Especially in those German countries which had only 
come into contact on their confines with Eoman dominion, the 
absence of towns caused the continuance of that old life of 
meagre social intercourse natural to a sparse and scattered 
population. The differences of disposition of different races, 
the lack of common administrative interests, and the difficulties 
in the way of exchange of thought, prevented the development 
of any active public spirit. Charlemagne was able by his 
individual power to hold all these provinces together by help 
of arms, and in peaceful activity to enrich them with the 
germs of a subsequent flourishing civilisation ; but to breathe 
the vital strength of a self-maintaining political whole into a 
society of which the constituents had so little need of one 
another and so little dependence upon one another, was a task 
beyond his strength. Hence, when the re-establishment of 
the Eoman imperial dignity in him once more gave a supreme 
ruler to the world, the new unity of the human race was just 
us much the imaginative ideal summit of a not yet existing 
society, as previously the first institution of the same dignity 
had been the natural conclusion of a long social history, 
from which it grew without any appearance of novelty. And 
this character the empire of the Middle Ages maintained 
throughout. It only temporarily possessed the power corre- 
sponding to its ideal position ; but though this was a merely 
imaginary picture, it yet really lived in the imaginations of 
men ; the thought of the majesty of a single temporal govern- 
ment was by no means an empty dream, even although it 
could not be carried into effect, but — like conscience, against 
which the passions are always in rebellion without being able 
quite to silence its enunciations — this ideal picture, while 
lacking actual power, hovered before men's minds in the 
Middle Ages, and reverence for it always kept much self- 
will within bounds and called forth many an act of self- 


As a matter of fact, the real articulation of life did not start 
from this point, and hence work itself out to unity, but it 
worked up from below, developing into innumerable small 
circles, with different degrees of slowness and difficulty in 
different countries. Italy, with its long cultivated soil, with 
many ancient towns still existent though depopulated, with its 
commerce which partly had been preserved and partly was 
growing up afresh, and with the civil organization of its com- 
munities which had never been quite destroyed, was the first 
to collect together these rich remains of former culture, and 
developed a vigorous intellectual life in numerous small states, 
the emulation of which was favourable to culture whilst it 
hindered political unity. The great inland countries of the Con- 
tinent, on the other hand, suffered from the ungenial nature 
of their more northerly climate, from the difficulty of internal 
communication, from the want of great social centres, from the 
inconvenient character of their medium of exchange, in short, 
from all that torpor of existence in which consists the dark- 
ness that generally seems to us to brood over the Middle Ages. 
Thus the inland countries too, like Italy, but from different 
causes, were at first able to form only small states. 

The original communities had consisted of free owners of 
the soil ; in conquered territories the victors were rewarded 
and their wants supplied by enfeoffment of tenements and 
lands ; the undeveloped state of society made it necessary for 
the guidance of affairs that there should be personal representa- 
tives of the supreme power, and these held office at first 
temporarily and afterwards permanently ; they too were 
provided for partly by property in land, partly by rights over 
certain districts ; finally, in developed feudalism, the once 
homogeneous community was transformv3d into a complicated 
and graduated system of persons endowed on the one hand 
with privileges, and on the other hand burdened with obliga- 
tions, both privileges and obligations binding those to whom 
they attached to some definite parcel of land. The country 
was covered with countless strongholds of the feudal lords ; 
in the solitude of these the sense of family unity, of honour> 



of purity of blood, and of reverence for tradition grew ; tlie 
position of wives and mothers increased in importance ; a feel- 
ing of solidarity among persons of the same rank — carrying 
with it in the knightly order a consciousness of having some 
duties with regard to human culture — bound individuals 
together into a certain community of life ; traditions of romantic 
reverence and of uncompromising manly fidelity gave some 
moral content to life ; and there even revived a taste for poetry. 
But neither general culture nor the development of public 
life made much advance under this form of society. National 
life had ceased to exist ; the chasm between the feudal lord 
and his vassals was bridged over by no recognised law and 
seldona by kindly care ; between the individual communities 
of serfs there existed no bond of common consciousness or of 
legal connection. Even the order of feudal lords, united by 
social intercourse and similarity in mode of life, felt only that 
'hey were an order, not that they were part of a political 
"vhole for the benefit of which it was their duty to make sacri- 
fices. Few territories were large enough for the development 
of a civilised life of their own ; the co-operation of several 
was hindered by the independence of the lords — ^the obscurity 
of their mutual obligations — the lack of a general and unques- 
tioned system of law which as these obligations gradually 
grew up should have developed along with them — the impossi- 
bility of carrying out sentences, when they had been pronounced, 
in any other way than by the exercise of force — and the ease 
with which a number of individuals about equal to one another 
in power could combine to resist legal force, which could be 
brought to bear only with extreme difficulty. It was only 
within very small communities that definite and intelligible 
relations existed, the state as a whole possessing only the most 
unwieldy machinery ; care for the general welfare was crippled 
by the want of an established and regulated system of taxa- 
tion, and external policy by the lack of a standing army and 
by the intricate arrangements of the feudal host ; for the 
administration of justice there were wanting established 
tribunals representative of the general sense of justice, and in 



almost all cases legal jurisdiction was disputable, or actually 
disputed, or owed its recognition to force. 

In this state of things, notwithstanding all its disorder, a 
certain characteristic sense of justice was not lacking. The 
Germanic nations, with no inherited treasure of ancient civilisa- 
tion, no gift of abstraction due to such an inheritance, no eye 
for principles, had been placed historically in circumstances 
which forced them to rapid development. They could not 
discover the universal principles of justice offhand, but every 
relation which had become historical forthwith seemed to them, 
whatever its irrationality, to be de facto just ; it would not 
have arisen if it had not at the time corresponded to existing 
needs. Added to this was the fact that Christianity appeared 
to them less as a body of doctrine than as a history of past 
events — as among those transactions by which Providence, and 
not the nature of things themselves, gives laws to the course 
of human affairs. All that we are now accustomed to judge 
by universal laws of morality and justice was regarded in the 
Middle Ages as dependent upon divine institution, upon 
human appointment, upon investitures and treaties, upon the 
significance of particular occurrences. On account of the 
continual change of circumstances such a foundation for the 
arrangements of human life could not fail to be a most fruit- 
ful source of incessant opposition to justice which had become 
unjust ; it produced the countless outbreaks of unbridled 
caprice which mark the Middle Ages. But where the opposi- 
tion took a more peaceable course, this too did not proceed from 
abstract principles, but sought to meet the requirements of the 
hour by transforming particular existing laws through fresh 
enactments, which were themselves of equally restricted applica- 
tion. This kind of procedure pervaded in the most various 
forms every department of life. When towns began to flourish, 
and redeemed their territories from complicated obligations 
towards the feudal lords, and love of work and the moral 
deepening of character gained in busy spheres of labour became 
the fairest adornment of the closing period of the Middle 
Ages, then we see this full life crystallize into a multitude of 


sharply defined corporations, each having its own internal 
system and legal relations to others, both regulated by contract, 
and all surrounding themselves with innumerable trade cus- 
toms and symbols, and as a whole developing into organisms 
of which the real significance was sometimes clouded by 
numerous irrational additions having a merely historical justi- 
fication, yet — taken altogether — becoming individualized into a 
most intense life. And in the imagination of the Middle Ages 
it was not men only but things also which had special rights 
— rights which were not merely measurable by natural qualities, 
but were in a sense historic ; to times and places were attached 
privileges, obligations, and liberties of all descriptions. 

Within this world of external life mental culture was for 

a long time attended to only by the Church. The Eoman 

empire, after the recognition of Christianity, had begun to 

give important political posts to the clergy, who were 

gradually forming themselves into a separate body ; their 

activity, stirred up by lively enthusiasm for what gave so 

much worth to life or by aspiring ambition, in many ways 

took the place of the slack civil authority ; rich endowments 

gave them independence and the means of doing good works. 

Although it was a long time before the hierarchical edifice was 

complete, the authority of the Eoman chair soon took firm 

root in the West, and the numerous missions which went out 

from every newly-established settlement felt themselves to be 

members of one whole. Without having been thus organized 

into a church, Christianity would hardly have weathered the 

storms of those times, and could have exercised but little of 

its beneficent influence upon temporal life. By the help of 

transmitted culture, and through the resources (whether its 

own or not) which its authority enabled it to command, the 

Church was able partly to keep invading barbarism at bay, 

partly to press forward itself and fill the still darkened northern 

countries with those churches, monasteries, episcopal residences, 

and agricultural settlements from which there were diffused 

not only the art of husbandry, but also that of gardening, not 

only the elements of knowledge, but also those of technical 



crafts, and under the walls of which gradually reviving trade 
held its markets, whilst within their gates the sick and weary- 
found tendance or healing. Thus in the early period of the 
Middle Ages the Church was in many respects at the head of 
progress and of civilisation; from it proceeded the majority 
of such establishments as were of general utility ; from it the 
ignorant sought teaching, for it alone possessed the treasures 
of transmitted learning ; to it alone could the longing go for 
consolation and for the resolution of their doubts, for it alone 
had studied all the relations of human life, and with active 
enthusiasm, combined the results of its reflection into one 
comprehensive philosophy ; finally, it was to the Church 
that the oppressed appealed for help, for it was the Church 
alone that, amidst the general licence and the thirst for 
adventure, recognised and taught a truth that was valid for 
all men and a divine order of things independent of all human 
caprice, obeying these in a life of strict discipline, and not 
unfrequently asserting them with courageous self-sacrifice in 
defending the weakness of the oppressed against the violence 
of the strong. 

Passing lightly over the eventful history of the Church 
during the Middle Ages, we find that at the end of this period 
its relation to secular life had very much changed ; whilst the 
latter was making remarkable advance, the Church had fallen 
into the rear, and had become a hindrance to progress. It 
no longer led the van of science ; the religious philosophy 
which formerly, in contrast to the scattered and wholly secular 
culture of antiquity, had so beneficially striven to grasp all 
reality and to embrace and classify all knowledge, was, 
after the slow decay of that culture, incapable of giving any 
satisfactory insight into the connection of the external world ; 
and at the same time the secular learning of antiquity which 
continued to be propagated, being merely transmitted and not 
cultivated with that zealous interest which has re-creative 
efficacy, lost in breadth and precision : whilst in secular life 
new relations were being formed and new facts discovered, the 
ecclesiastical sources of instruction were becoming impoverished. 



Even the cure of souls had lost its energy. With penetrating 
zeal the fathers of the Church had once defended the faith 
against all the doubts of ancient culture ; and it was certainly 
advantageous to Germanic barbarism that there should bei 
presented to it some definite profession of belief, but the hard 
and fast formulation of dogmas which thus became the cut 
and dried content of tradition, diminished even among the 
clergy the intensity of spiritual life ; and the people were 
deprived of the little that still remained of such activity, by the 
use of the Latin language and the care with which the Church 
reserved to itself the secrets of religion and the administration 
of the means of grace, no longer preaching to the laity of the 
inner life of faith and of a new birth of the soul resulting 
from its own struggles, but denying them. Grievous faults 
had also appeared in the lives of the clergy, and they were no 
longer either the recognised pattern of conduct or the hope of 
the oppressed. They had not indeed become an hereditary 
ecclesiastical caste, but recruited their ranks from among the 
people, although no longer by means of congregational election ; 
but the inferior clergy who lived among the people were 
wanting in influence and insight ; those who were invested 
with superior dignity, and as feudatories occupied many 
political posts, often favoured insubordination to secular 
rule, but not the freedom of the laity in ecclesiastical 

There had never been any lack of vigorous struggles between 
these two great powers. The conflict between the empire and 
the Eoman Church had led to no decisive victory of the one 
or the other. The empire, with its claim of sovereignty over 
nations between which there was no bond of union except 
Christianity, could not on such grounds be triumphant over 
the Church which demanded the same supremacy in the very 
name of Christianity ; the Church had on its side the naturally 
unifying power of religion, and used the national differences 
to which in their secular development freedom should be 
allowed, as an instrument against the defectively established 
supremacy of secular power. But when the empire had been 



obliged to let its claims drop, secular life had attained an 
importance of its own in a number of national developments,. 
as the natural representatives of which the princes of the 
different countries could more efficiently resist the encroach- 
ments of the Church. The opposition of these temporal 
powers to the attempts at renewing a theocracy succeeded in 
proportion as they identified themselves with the national life 
of their respective countries ; they disabled themselves where 
they joined with the spiritual power of the Church in the 
obstruction of progress. This progress itself was due partly 
to a further development of previous conditions which had 
gone on unnoticed, and had also been favoured by a striking 
succession of historical events and discoveries. Unceasing 
wars, which no longer had the character of national migrations, 
had kept the nations in reciprocal contact ; the internal action 
and reaction of society was increased by the revival of trade 
and the growth of flourishing towns ; the Crusades had for 
a long time united Christian nations in common enterprise ; 
not only were Italy and Byzantium, with their inherited 
culture, again brought into contact with the more northern 
nations through these causes, but the East also, with its dif- 
ferent customs and its treasures and marvels, roused in the 
nations of Christian Europe a spirit of emulation and a doubt 
as to the exclusive validity of the state of things which had 
been established among them by custom and tradition ; the 
geographical horizon was still further enlarged by the discoveries 
of the Portuguese navigators ; and finally the discovery of 
America presented to human imagination, to the spirit of 
adventurous enterprise and to industrial activity, openings un- 
dreamt of before, and which were to help men to become both 
externally and mentally wholly detached from the traditions 
of antiquity. At first, indeed, they tried to bring their new 
life into connection with antiquity, whose treasures of thought 
liad never quite vanished from human memory ; but now, on 
the one hand, they entered with greater zeal into the growing 
activity of mental life, and on the other hand the increasing 
danger from the Mohammedans with which Byzantium was 



threatened, and its subsequent fall caused what remained of 
Greek learning to be transferred to Italy. Then began that 
revival of learning which first restored to thought (which had 
grown stiff and clumsy) formal flexibility and adroitness, and 
inundated life at once with great Ideas, with comprehensive 
views, with critical contempt for all existing goodness and 
beauty, and with an audacious imitation of the errors of anti- 
quity. The creative force which might have given worthy 
content to the new forms was very backward in most directions ; 
in Italy alone the confusion of social conditions was to some 
extent compensated by a magnificent flight of creative art ; yet 
there were laid those foundations of higher mathematics and of 
natural science which were destined to produce the most im- 
portant instruments of the new civilisation. Finally, the torpor 
which had long hung about the exchange of thought was 
removed by the discovery of printing ; from that time public 
opinion could exercise its influence upon all the relations 
of life, and the awakening spirit of criticism which was to 
distinguish the period just beginning was armed with its most 
powerful weapon. 

§ 8. The various germs which the end of the Middle Ages 
had produced, gradually bore fruit in a succession of great 
revolutions. They did not develop simultaneously or alto- 
gether in harmony with each other ; the human mind in its 
onward struggle is capable of the inconsistency of maintaining 
in one department the same new views which in others, yielding 
to old-established custom, it eagerly persecutes. But amidst 
all such contradictory and retrogressive currents there 
developed, with ever-increasing power, as the distinguishing 
characteristic of the new age, that Enlightenment, destroying 
in order to reconstruct, which sought to h'eak the dominion of 
all prejudice and to undermine every ill-founded belief. The 
spirit of modern times, to which it is essential to be con- 
stantly reflecting upon itself, has often enough used these 
phrases as watchwords indicative of its own characteristics, 
and the indication is perhaps accurate for good as well as for 
ilL Por both the strength and the weakness of our position. 



both our hopes and our fears as regards the future, depend 
equally upon that unchained spirit of criticism which, investi- 
gating all the relations of life with self-conscious purpose, 
more easily accomplishes the inevitable demolition of error, 
than the reconstruction of truth, and, in the zeal of its 
analytic incursions, runs the risk of injuring unperceived the 
most necessary foundations of ordered human existence. We 
have, perhaps, reason to give more scope to hope for the future 
than to fear ; but above all it seems clear to us that we have 
not yet seen the conclusion of the developmental struggles into 
which the impulses of the immediate past have plunged us. 

It was religious needs that first kindled the flame. The 
Reformation sought to lead men back from the secularization 
Df the Church and the externalizing of ecclesiastical life to the 
purity of primitive Christianity. Though the positive teaching 
of the Reformation, far from professing to be a production of 
individual reason, was in fact mere submission to the authority 
of revelation, yet being in declared opposition to the existing 
order of things, it could not avoid formally recognising 
individual examination and decision as the starting-point even 
of religious life. It freed conscience from the obligation of 
submission to commands (proceeding not from the gospel but 
from tradition and from ecclesiastical speculation) which it 
was attempted to force upon men; and laid upon them instead 
the obligation, which was at the same time a privilege, of 
appropriating to themselves the content of faith by their own 
struggles towards development and their own inner experience. 
In doing this it ventured to hope that the result of this 
struggle would be agreement with that which it esteemed to 
be eternal truth, and to which it held fast ; but it was bound 
to acknowledge that, though it might lament, yet it could net 
condemn the opposite result. The principle of free investiga- 
tion of the gospel could not escape expansion into perfect 
freedom of conscience, in the acceptance or rejection of all 
Christian and finally of all religious truth whatever. For a 
long time the Reformation, conscious of the value of its faith, 
struggled against this conclusion ; to it too the disposition to 



persecute for faith's sake was not unknown, and when the 
battle for the freedom of personal conviction had been fought 
out, there remained doubts as to the legitimate sphere of thisl 
freedom. And these occurred first in the renewed Church 
itself. The very investigation of Scripture as the sole founda- 
tion of faith required the co-operation of subjective interpreta- 
tion ; a Church which adopted this principle could neither 
exclude all variation of dogmatic conviction, nor could it 
easily mark out definitely the limits within which such 
variation should be allowed for the future. In such doubts 
we ourselves are still involved ; the only men who are sure of 
themselves are those who hold the most extreme views, either 
demanding a stricter unity of the Church at the expense of 
individual freedom, or an atomistic dispersion into innumer- 
able small communities in favour of individual freedom at the 
expense of the universal Church. And yet between these two 
extremes Protestantism has gone on living and developing ; for 
in holding fast to the principle of free investigation notwith- 
standing all the perplexities and difficulties of its ecclesiastical 
polity, it has secured the adherence of all the rich culture 
which has arisen from the stimulus given by itself and from 
the schools which were for the most part established by it. 

The relation of religious profession to the state was affected 
by the changes which the state itself experienced, or through 
which it was first developed. In the Middle Ages influential 
connection between the different departments of life and 
the consciousness of solidarity occurred almost exclusively 
in individual minor communities, the praiseworthy and 
active public spirit of which could not make up for the 
absence of important and varied relations, and the external 
connections between which remained uncertain and un- 
organized. From this incoherent condition there sprung up 
the formally systematized State, with its comprehensive 
administration of differently endowed and mutually com- 
plementary districts, and its regulated employment of means. 
It arose first in the form of that absolutism which regarded 
the country and the people as the private property of the 


ruler, and either used them despotically for the glorification of 
the throne, or filled the part of guardian towards them with 
well-meaning carelessness. Certainly in the suppression of 
innumerable petty sovereignties by a few great ones there was 
a gain in general order and security ; but, on the other hand, 
the pressure exercised downwards by these great powers was 
continued, and the independence of the several communities 
disappeared before the centralization of national power. The 
age of the Eevolution in shattering despotism shattered also 
those limits of free movement which it should have allowed 
to remain ; in demanding equal justice and equal rights for 
all, an unlimited field for all activity and an open course for 
talent of every description, it took a hostile attitude towards 
all specialities of historical development in which it saw only 
hindrances to that freedom at which it aimed, and it carried 
on the work of centralization to the point of planing down as 
far as possible all characteristic differences. After men had 
seen how in the wide workshop of America success had 
followed the attempt to build up a construction of social order 
without restraint from historic tradition, and guided purely 
by the needs of the moment, without any greater limitation of 
personal freedom than those needs made necessary, and after 
France had gone back to the universal rights of man for the 
foundation of society, and had broken with history even in 
the externals of life, it seemed as though for the future the 
State would be only a great society for gathering in the treasures 
of Nature and carrying out the exchange of varying produc- 
tions, established and governed by the wiU of all, and really 
without any moral duty of self-preservation, being indeed 
entitled to dissolve itself at any moment ; yet with all 
this the fact was that the real freedom of individuals was 
tyrannized over by the common will of the majority. But 
the glory of the tremendous results which France achieved 
in its defensive struggle, soon brought back, in the national 
pride which it stirred up, a new and deeper consciousness 
of political coherence ; other countries had not to atone so 
severely for the mistake of setting equality above personal 


freedom, but tliey attained more slowly to the development oV 
this freedom and to the rejection of many limitations which 
had grown up historically, and, without any absolute right, 
obstructed social movement. 

The history of these struggles, which is full of vicissitudes, 
does not come within our present hasty survey ; that they are 
not even yet ended is a wide-spread and oppressive conviction 
of the present age. The spirit of criticism which called them 
forth has triumphantly maintained many general principles, but 
has not been very happy in the discovery of living forms in 
which these principles might receive a satisfying realization in 
fact. It has been established that the outline of the State is 
not irrevocably sketched out beforehand by history, to be merely 
filled in by the living activity of the people, but that the State 
is rather the comprehensive final form v/hich social order has 
to take on in order to satisfy those aims of national life which 
are historically possible — that State guidance and administration 
must always have regard to the changing needs of the hour, as 
well as to that connection with the historic past by which the 
nation is constituted a nation — that there is necessary a 
division of power which on the one hand allows to existing 
men (who have a right to live) a modifying and innovating 
influence, and on the other hand allows to the representatives 
of the permanent element in historical development a restrain- 
ing and guiding influence — that as much scope must be given 
to voluntary combination and the self-government of com- 
munities as is necessary for the production of all the com- 
modities and the satisfaction of all the wants which they are 
naturally able to produce and to satisfy, and that just as much 
must this freedom submit to the limitations which the safety 
of the whole requires. But in the representative constitutions 
of our own time political art has either not yet attained to 
adequate forms, capable of ensuring the fulfilment of these 
ideal ends, or the forms appeared too soon, before the spirit 
that knew how to make a perfectly right use of them was 
developed. And as an effect of the oppression that has 
gone before, mistrust and not trust still continues to be the 


Lul of co—o.alH.; the jealous gua^amg of fo„„. 
political rights still outweighs understanding of and sympathy 
with the real ends for the attaining of which the existence of 
these rights is necessary ; qualification for taking part in 
public business has not increased in the same proportion as 
the extension of the right to do so. Neither life nor education 
accustom the people sufficiently to the consciousness of im- 
portant national ends. Skilfulness of co-operation in the 
prosecution of particular undertakings has no doubt increased ; 
but the nature of trade, which connects the subsistence of the 
individual with a wide-spreading ramification of remote and 
foreign conditions, uproots the sense of citizenship which 
existed in earlier times, and which, arising from having all the 
interests of life in common, bound together the members of 
local communities ; the diffusion of information has certainly 
made progress, but the inner progress of knowledge has been 
all the greater, because notwithstanding this diffusion the 
greatest part of the culture of which nations are proud remains 
wholly unknown to the majority of the people. How very 
indeterminate the line still is between what government should 
reckon among its duties and what should be left to the 
voluntary activity of th& subject is shown by the unsettled 
disputes about free education, the political rights of different 
religious professions, and the necessity or dispensableness of a 
coincidence between political boundaries and the geographical 
limits of unmixed nationalities. 

Not only lifci but science also, has felt the influence of 
awakening criticism. During the Middle Ages minds had been 
ruled by traditions handed down from antiquity, and for a long 
time but little fresh result of investigation was added to them. 
From this time forward there comes out in ever growing 
strength that critical impulse of the Enlightenment, which in- 
deed could never be so wholly absent in science as in other 
departments of life ; the ingenuous setting forth of truth of 
which men believed themselves to be in possession gave place 
more and more to questions concerning the general cognisa- 
bHity of truth and the final principles of all judgment. 



Science now first began to assume the character of an investi- 
gation which tests with careful exactness the worth and 
trustworthiness of its sources, considers the possible paths of 
progress, and is anxious to confirm its results by proofs and 
counter-proofs of every description, estimating even the 
amount of error which it is in danger of making in these 
proofs themselves, and allowing for such error in its deduc- 
tions. By this procedure science has introduced into even the 
most familiar departments of human thought the idea of 
universal laws to which reality is obedient in all particulars, 
and a lively conviction that results can only be obtained by 
using things according to these laws. In doing this it has 
been able not indeed to destroy superstition, but to set bounds 
to its public and formerly bloody activity ; by its astrono- 
mical discoveries it has given to imagination a new and 
enlarged background for cosmic theories ; and by the develop- 
ment of mechanics and chemistry it has produced a boundless 
supply of instruments for the production of new commodities 
and the enlargement of commerce, and hence for the enlarge- 
ment of men's intellectual horizon altogether, and for the 
increase of general wellbeing. And whilst finally it came to 
make not only external Nature, but also the course of events 
in history more and more the object of reflection, and sought to 
trace back to universal laws the action and reaction of human 
activities, and the production and exchange of commodities, it 
gave rise to that progressive spirit of conscious calculation that 
is not content to continue passively in any merely instinctive 
condition of being or doing, but must actively mould the 
future by independent use of all available means. Even 
within the range of this cheering human progress, sceptical 
and materialistic ideas and the dreams of socialism and com- 
munism show that neither firm foundations of knowledge nor 
practicable plans for the removal of undeniable social evils 
have as yet been in all cases discovered. 

§ 9. The hasty survey of the external course of human 
development upon which we have ventured has convinced us 
how far hitherto human conditions have been from attaining 


tlKit satisfactory state of equilibrium which may be regarded 

as the completion of historical development needing only to 

be kept up and worked out, not to be wholly transformed. 

Will this development progress steadily, or will it share the 

fate of those great civilisations which have preceded us in 

history, and which, destroyed partly by internal dissolution 

and partly by external force, have had a fertilizing influence 

ipon the renewed attempts of later times only when they had 

^fallen into ruin, and even then very gradually ? No one will 

[profess to foreknow the future, but as far as men may judge, 

it seems that in our days there are greater safeguards than 

there were in antiquity against unjustifiable excesses and 

• against the external forces which might endanger the con- 

itiuued existence of civilisation. 

The civilisations of antiquity existed in national isolation ; 

the general difficulty of intellectual intercourse diminished, in 

the Middle Ages, the benefits which might then have been 

derived from the unifying power of faith ; now at last the 

different divisions of the world which have so long lived on in 

f separation are striving to be something to one another; and 

the all-pervading current of interested traffic and of zeal for 

[discovery is beginning to establish that external coherence of 

the human race by which the hitherto disconnected develop- 

: ment of different sections may in the future become combined 

iinto a history of mankind. Already the wide diffusion of a 

'Culture which is on the whole homogeneous, and in which so 

many nations with all the varieties of national temperament 

participate, will prevent disturbances of development which 

may befall any of them in particular from becoming hindrances 

to human progress in general. And thus the power of 

barbarism over culture is broken. In consequence of the 

defective development of their knowledge of Nature, the 

civilisations of antiquity had not the weapons which would 

have enabled them in all cases to defend their intellectual 

wealth successfully against the savagery of the uncivilised 

world ; modern culture has through the progress of the 

technical arts become so well armed and so warlike that the 


inundation of civilised countries by tribes in a state of Nature 
has long ceased to be a probable danger ; on the contrary, the 
assuredness of the influence exercised by civilisation as a 
whole upon the destinies of all parts of the world grows from 
day to day, though the regions thus affected may be too 
extensive to be as yet thoroughly pervaded individually by 
such influences. 

And if by this extension in space, human culture has 
become established on too broad a basis to be easily washed 
away altogether even by a tremendous wave of barbarism, it 
has also attained internally, as the result of all its evolutionary 
struggles, a balance which throws its centre of gravity deeper 
than in the past, below the surface depth which is commonly 
disturbed by sudden currents. From the best features of 
many scientific researches which have failed in detail — from the 
increasing clearness of our retrospective survey of history and 
of human error — from the experiences of life itself which 
teaches us, in the exchange of necessaries, to have a due 
appreciation of what is foreign — from the wonderful advance 
in interchange of opinion which disturbs the one-sideduess of 
narrow intellectual views, bringing many currents of thought 
into beneficial mutual action, and unceasingly urging men to 
the exercise of comparison — from all these roots there has 
grown up, in the spirit of the present age, that peculiar 
temperament or dominant mood which we may distinguish by 
the name of Modern Humanism. 

The difference between human development and the mental 
constitution of the lower animals consists chiefly in this, that 
the soul of animals is roused directly by a limited circle of 
perceptions to sudden and disconnected action ; whilst the 
human spirit, far less endowed by Nature with instincts con- 
sciously directed towards their ends, has first to collect a 
copious store of experiences in the daily school of life, and by 
calm elaboration of them to work out gradually the motives 
of coherent action. An intensification of this self-control 
which distinguishes human activity as a whole from animal 
impulse is in a certain sense, and to a certain extent, a 


distinguishing characteristic of modern civilisation. Not 
indeed by any means because greater thoughtfulness is among 
the special merits of modern men and women, but because 
without any merit of theirs all the circumstances of life, 
education, and tradition under the influence of which they 
find themselves, are full of motives adverse to precipitate 
action, exercising externally as much influence in hindering 
the unrestrained outbreak of individual desires as they 
exercise internally in diminishing the effect upon the mind 
of innumerable exciting impressions. After all imaginable 
interests in life have been discussed and criticised from the 
most different points of view, and all these discussions and 
criticisms have, however much weakened and obscured, 
become part of the common consciousness, the world is less 
easily interested and less credulous than it was before; always 
indeed fertile in the production of strange views and heady 
schemes, but more moderate in its admiration for and its 
devotion to the improbable. In its bad form — that used-wp 
condition in which all higher aims and all motives to action 
generally have lost their stimulative force — we may find this 
peculiarity of our own age repulsive, and all the more so in 
proportion as we know it only in the present and from living 
experience ; but as a matter of fact it is the case that this 
aweary-ness of a great part of mankind has not been lacking 
in any age which has produced a multiform civilisation 
abounding in sharp contrasts. And it has never either now 
or earlier taken possession of the whole race ; but now more 
than previously there has developed alongside of this sterile 
passionlessness an allied but more earnest temper — tolerant, 
circumspect, and self-controlled — which among so many un- 
finished social constructions yet makes possible for us a life 
abounding in worthy pleasures, and keeps up our hopes of 
continuous progress. 

This refined conscience of modern society makes itself felt 
in the most various departments of life. Not that it is able 
to get its commands obeyed without any trouble, or that the 
men of to-day are incomparably superior to those of the past 



in tlie excellence of their private morality ; on the contrary, 
human nature is ever the same, and continues to resist the 
restraints imposed upon it with all its inherited passion andj 
perversity, and evil and folly. But now it feels the reins 
drawn tighter ; while every new generation is born with the 
old impulses and the old imperfections of its kind, each is 
forced to recognise the truth of the progressive moral insight 
with which growing civilisation gradually interpenetrates all 
the relations of life, as with a conscience that is ever 
becoming more fully awakened, and the utterances of which 
force themselves even upon the unwilling. Perhaps modern] 
humanity falls further short of the increased demands of this 
conscience than the humanity of previous times did of the 
simpler and less complex demands of the conscience of its j 
day, and a desponding view may attempt to depreciate 
modern civilisation even in comparison of the natural open 
savagery of past times, regarding such civilisation as mere 
surface polish and hypocrisy; but to us it seems that the 
very fact that hypocrisy is needed is a mark of progress, and 
that much that is base is now obliged at least to cloak itself, 
whereas formerly it would have ventured to show in its true 
colours. Upon the steady progressive development of this 
conscience, upon the pressure which it exercises on willing 
and unwilling alike, our hopes for the future rest ; to a certain 
extent human action will be obliged to conform to it. 
Ambition with its lust of oppression will always remain ; but 
the days are numbered in which men will attempt to justify 
slavery as such in the eyes of public opinion. The political 
destiny of nations may yet have many melancholy revolutions 
in store, for in order that practical injustice may be effectually 
prevented, comprehension of the existing position of affairs in 
any particular case and the improvement of favourable 
opportunities must be in accordance with the general con- 
viction ; still it is to be hoped that sentence of condemnation 
has already been passed on all invasions of the freedom and 
honour of individual life. Many attempts to interfere with 
liberty of conscience, to re-establish exploded religious dogmas. 


and to revive strange forms of worship may yet be made ; but 
they will never permanently succeed beyond the lines which 
some will find drawn by the spirit of independence, others by 
scientific taste, and the rest by the general sense of moral 
fitness which belongs to modern Humanism. 

Such are our hopes for the future ; but what is the end 
of all ? Is there any such end in the sense of a goal which 
is to be reached, of a state of perfection which will be the 
conclusion and as it were the final accomplishment of all 
preceding historical struggles — and if such a perfect condition 
of things should be reached, will it last on to all eternity ? Or 
is there no such goal, and will the progress of mankind cease 
for no other reason than that of having exhausted all external 
means of advance, and will the imperfect condition then 
reached (which the inherent defects of human nature will not 
permit it to transcend) present that action of mankind (at 
last become uniform) which it is destined to carry on ad 
infinitum ? Or, finally, may not things go on for ever as they 
have done in the course of history hitherto ? Will not every 
civilisation that seemed to have been destined for eternal 
duration always be brought to ruin by some unexpected fate, 
and with every advance in one direction will there not be 
bound up a loss in some other direction, so that the sum of 
human perfection and of human happiness may always be 
a tolerably constant quantity, if we take, one with another — 
success and the exertion it necessitates, gain and loss, the 
growing wealth of civilisation and the increasing difficulty of 
full participation in it ? 

The boastful days are over in which speculation flattered 
itself that it possessed the answers to these questions. Our 
intellectual horizon has gradually become wider again. We 
have bethought us that the history to which we can look back 
as sufficiently well known to form a judgment upon is of very 
limited extent ; it embraces the classical nations, the European 
Middle Ages, and the immediate past. In this small and 
coherent fragment of development in which the parts are con- 
nected by tradition, it may well be that we can trace a 



progressive advance. "We do indeed all lament that the] 
beauty of antique life has passed away — a beauty which meaj 
have never been able to recover in modern times, in whicl 
more northern countries have become the scene of the most 
active development ; but seeing that the ruin of antique life 
lies before us as an accomplished fact, we might easily point 
out the defects of civilisation from which that ruin proceeded. 
These were only partially avoided in the Middle Ages — a period 
which, notwithstanding its want of political and social stability 
and unity, notwithstanding its strange mixture of profound 
mental life and indescribable barbarism, yet shows us a splendour 
of Christianity and a variety of individual development with 
which we can sympathize ; and shows them as being, though not 
perhaps themselves actually higher stages of development, yet 
hopeful steps toward such. Far other was the aspect which 
this period wore in its own estimation; more than once it 
seemed to the minds of men, horror-struck by the boundless 
misery which existed, that the end of the world must be close 
at hand. The gradual development of the modern European 
political systems and of modern society was without doubt 
another swiftly advancing wave of evolution, when looked at 
in comparison with the immediately preceding period ; borne 
upon its summit the speculation of the age might momen- 
tarily have taken a view of history according to which it 
would seem that no further development was to be attained in 
the future, but that the evolution of the human race had, in 
kind at least, reached its conclusion, and that the only growth 
remaining for it was an extension on all sides. But since 
then we have become more cautious with regard both to the 
past and to the future. 

Growing acquaintance with pre-classical civilisations is 
already beginning to arouse in us misgivings of having under- 
valued them in many respects. It is certain that they exhibited 
such a full and complex and active life that it is impossible 
to regard them as a mere unimportant prelude to European 
history. Our acquaintance with them is still but too meagre, 
since their literatures, which are the only thoroughly trustworthy 


witnesses of tlie depth and character of mental life, are partly 
lost to us and partly are difficult of access ; hence we are now 
unquestionably as much in danger of over-estimation as we were 
formerly in danger of inconsiderate neglect. But a philosophy 
of human history can give no satisfactory results concerning the 
course and the amount of its actual progress before these long ages 
of past time have become known, and their performances been 
compared with what we have hitherto regarded as the advances 
of later periods. On the other hand, the progress of mechanical 
art which has provided new means and resources, and of the 
economic sciences which have produced a better adjustment to 
human needs of the means for their satisfaction, has caused 
our attention to be directed more than ever towards the future ; 
the aggregate of all that it has to do, alter, procure, and 
arrange has never been present in such distinctness and 
importance to the consciousness of any previous age ; no time 
has lived so fully as the present in definite plans for the future ; 
we feel ourselves more stirred up to try and promote progress 
for the future than to investigate the steps it has made in 
past history. 

So now again the future stretches out before us, more full of 
significance than ever, and we can fill it with dreams of bound- 
less progress. But the course of history has already been so long 
that in looking back upon it we shall soon find ourselves obliged 
to confine our hopes within a narrower compass ; for plainly 
the regions within which there is any great probability of 
unlimited progress are very definitely circumscribed, and for 
all others the probability is but very slight. The splendid 
initiation of the rule over matter and its forces which rejoices us 
in the natural sciences, having been made once for all, we may 
reckon upon a rapid succession of new discoveries. Trom these 
may be anticipated a varied increase in the conveniences of 
life, greater facility in the satisfying of our wants, and 
purposive alteration of many of our customs ; the enriching of 
some favourably situated countries by increased use of natural 
resources and the addition of others to the abodes of civilisa- 
tion ; increase of the population of the earth, and a manifold 


heightening of the activity of commerce. All sciences which 
combine facts of experience according to clear and simple 
laws of thought have the prospect of making continuous 
advances towards perfection ; they will not only extend their 
knowledge of particulars, but will also learn by the discovery 
of new laws to understand better the coherence of all reality. 
These general results may be expected to exercise a favourable 
and gradually increasing influence even upon those sciences 
which, transcending experience and real existence and search- 
ing after God and divine things, early accumulated a store of 
valuable thoughts, but during the thousands of years that have 
passed since then have not been able to make any important 
addition to their early stock ; and the progress may also be 
shared by that practical wisdom which has to deal with the 
necessary aims of our action, the binding commands of con- 
science, and beneficent social constructions. 

But whilst this world of truth and of Ideas increases, human 
nature will not change, and life will always remain a long way 
behind the ideals that are set before successive generations. 
There will never be one fold and one shepherd, never one 
imiform culture for all mankind, never universal nobleness ; 
but strife and inequalities of condition and the vital strength 
of evil will always continue. And we do not think this 
prospect desperate ; for it does not seem to us that aU history 
is so bounded by the limits of earthly life that we needs must 
see the dawn upon earth of its brilliant closing scene, that 
golden future which we dream of. On the contrary, as long 
as men are bound by their bodily organization to the material 
wants of life, their perfection and happiness must also be 
bound up with imperfection and iU, just as inevitably as any 
of our modes of progression both presuppose and at the same 
time overcome external friction. Both our virtues and our 
happiness can only flourish in the midst of an active conflict 
with wrong, in the midst of the self-denials which society 
imposes on us, and amid the doubts into which we are 
plunged by the uncertainty of the future and of the results of 
our efforts. If there were ever to come a future in which 



every stumbling-block were smoothed away, then, indeed, 
mankind would be as one flock ; but then, no longer like men 
but like a flock of innocent brutes they would feed on the 
good things provided by Nature, with the same unconscious 
simplicity as they did at the beginning of that long course of 
civilisation, the results of which, up to the present time, 
wo shall now briefly consider, as a sequel to the review 
we have already taken of the external destinies of the human 






Stages of Philosophic Thought: Mythologic Fancy; Cultured Eeflection ; 
Development of Greek Thought ; Science — Over-estimation of Logical 
Forms and Confusion of them with Matter-of-Fact — Philosophic Problems 
of Christian Thought — Limitation of Thought to the Elaboration of 
Experiences — The Exact Sciences — The Principal Standpoints of Philo- 
sophy, and its Efforts in trying to reach a Knowledge of the Nature of 
Things — Idealism and Realism. 

§ 1. rriHOSE various embryon impulses from the develop- 
JL ment of which all human civilisation has grown 
lip, have always sprung to life simultaneously as products of 
one common root, the unchanging nature of mind. Different 
periods of history may be pointed out in which one after the 
[other, religion, art, science, law, and social problems, have 
become for the first time so distinctly present to the con- 
sciousness of mankind, that they seem to have been then first 
[discovered or invented, to the advantage of future ages ; but 
! even in the very beginning of civilisation there could not have 
Been altogether absent any one of those activities of the 
human soul which later became more clearly differentiated one 
[from another, taking separate paths to various ends. And all 
are in continual mutual action as far as their requirements 
and results are concerned ; and this most actively in just those 
times of dawning civilisation in which as yet none of them 
have found either cause or possibility of independent further 
development, in the possession of the wealth of some special 
department and in the peculiar mode of procedure made 
necessary by the nature of that department. 

So if we try to survey this complicated whole of human 
civilisation as far as lies within the scope of our general 
intention, we cannot follow any one of the stems from which 
it has sprung without meeting ramifications by which each 

VOL. II. u 



communicates with the rest. Yet still in the history of the 
development of the whole mind, the development of scientific 
knowledge takes a certain specially favoured position. What- 
ever may be the several roots from which spring the creative 
impulses of art, or the moral convictions of religious belief, 
they are all, as regards the fulness and trustworthiness of their 
development, dependent partly upon the extent to which this 
knowledge subordinates reality to its sovereign influence, and 
partly upon the clearness with which each has come to com- 
prehend itself, its tasks, and its instruments. To scientific 
knowledge therefore as the general form under which all 
activities of the mind reciprocally test each other, reflect upon 
themselves, and bring their results together for transmission, 
the beginning of the present considerations may be devoted. 
In view of the immensity of the subject, we shall only briefly 
refer to that gradual extension of cognitive knowledge which 
with every fresh conquest both furnishes human activity with 
new aims and also gives a different colouring to our whole 
philosophy. But even the progressive self-comprehension of 
scientific knowledge, and the development of a definite con- 
ception of truth for which we are seeking, and enlightenment 
concerning the intellectual means to these ends which are at 
our command — even these points we shall only be able to con- 
sider with a one-sidedness of which we are fully conscious, 
selecting a few points of view specially suited to our purpose. 
Of three essentially different ways of looking at reality 
which the awakening consciousness of mankind has gradually 
come to adopt, we find the earliest in that mythologic philo- 
sophy to which at the very beginning of this work our attention 
was directed by more restricted considerations. Intensifying 
the impressions of perception so as to influence the whole 
mental mood, imagination — here going beyond perception — 
makes to the reality which it finds those additions which seem 
to be demanded by the vague feeling of a contradiction 
between that reality and the tacit presuppositions of our 
minds. For every myth which gives a new and poetic 
form to some phsenomenon, bears witness to the activity of 


human cognition, that can seldom be satisfied with direct per- 
ception because the content of this but seldom harmonizes 
with those unanalysed demands which our mind brings with it 
to the comprehension of reality, whether as innate endowment 
or as the rapidly acquired fruit of previous experience. But 
mythologic fancy has not a clear consciousness either of the 
full content of the truth which it thinks it must recognise in 
phsenomena, or of the definite contradictions of truth v/hich cause 
mere facts to seem to demand some mythical and explanatory 
transformation. The soul rejoices in the enjoyment of its own 
activity, and is without suspicion of the numerous conditioning 
causes which go to produce its happiness — a happiness which, 
though it seems to arise without trouble and as a matter of 
course, is yet a result laboriously produced ; — it is accustomed 
to see changes of the external world arise from its own 
activity, and hence as yet it knows no truth other than life, and 
no problem of cognition other than that of recognising in all the 
forms and events of Nature an energy analogous to its own. It 
seems to it that nothing has a claim to exist except that which, 
if not itself mental energy, may yet be understood as the 
action of some mind or as the traces left by some such action ; 
only those qualities and events seem to it natural which 
have sprung from the activity of a living soul, or which 
have arisen in some course of events incidentally set going 
by spiritual activity intentionally or unintentionally. It is 
true, indeed, that the unfamiliar character of particular natural 
phsenomena may cause the attention of the imagination to be 
specially directed to them, but that which incites men to give 
them mythic expression is to be found not so much in the 
particular characteristics which constitute their unfamiliarity 
as in the fact that they seem to appear without any explana- 
tory history, which by connecting them with spiritual life 
should afford a justification for their existence. The notion 
of an unconditioned factual self-dependent existence remains 
unaccepted ; unrecognised the thought of a nature of things 
which, independent of all spiritual life and preceding it as oi 
much more primary necessity, should produce the succession of 


plisenomena as its own inherent logical consequence. Not that 
the assumption of such a necessary connection of things has not 

( constantly afforded secret aid to mythology in the combination of 
its personifying ideas. For in fact the briefest account cannot 
explain any striking natural phaenomenon by a history of how 
it arose without assuming that the connection, transition, and 
succession between any two events which it brings together 
are to be comprehended by reference to an order of events 
which is of universal validity. But fancy (whilst in all its 
flights it tacitly relies upon that necessary connection of all 
things ujjon which also ordinary practical life must depend 
at every step) altogether overlooks this part of its own pro- 
cedure, and is not conscious of the indispensable help which 
this nature of things affords in giving reality to imaginative 
constructions ; for such a philosophy anything which seems 
full of meaning and significance has within itself all necessary 

I. guarantees of its truth and reality ; and it is that which is 

V living, or produced by what is living, that is pre-eminently full 
of meaning. 

If this way of looking at the world were something that 

i merely had heen, it would be hardly worth this renewed 
mention ; but the same impulses which led to it at the 

I beginning of civilisation still continue to influence every 
human mind, even after the discovery of other points of view^ 
In all ages the popular imagination explains the phaenomena 
of Nature as resulting from something that had previously 
occurred. Since this or that happened, the bird sings such a 
song, the blossoms of such a plant are white instead of red ; 
since something else, the bean has been slit in two and the 
salamander has had a spotted skin. But this tendency of 
thought, which in such examples pleases us as poetic licence 
for which we make allowance, has a much stronger hold upon 
us in other ways. There comes to all of us a time in our life 
in which a general dissatisfaction begins to overshadow the 
reality which we had previously accepted and enjoyed in all 
simplicity, while yet a hitherto hidden light seems to shine 
through the gloom. Innumerable particular perceptions 


' ^ which we have not specially noted have filled us with a 
feeling of the surpassing reality of beauty and goodness and 
holiness ; innumerable others, just as unanalysed, have 
produced in us disconnected impressions of the confusion and 
uncertainty and evanescence under the burden of which all 
reality suffers. And now this world of perception is to us no 
longer the world of truth, but a mere world of perplexed 
phsenomena ; but we are able to look through it to another 
and better world of real and ideal existence, to which the 
enthusiasm of our soul would fain take flight. We of the 
present day, however, are in our education and the conditions 
of our life in the midst of the results of a labour of thought 
that has lasted for centuries — results which surround us like 
an atmosphere of the presence of which we are not conscious ; 
and we are thus not likely to be carried by any flight 
of such enthusiasm to a mythology which would be dispersed 
and dissipated if brought into contact with daily experience, 
with which it is in contradiction. But still we find ourselves 
travelling the same path which fancy took when it created 
such a mythology, in our youthful attempts to transform the 
supposed real world of our dreams and forebodings into a shape 
in which it may become an object of distinct intuition. 

Youth strives to get from particulars to the whole, and not 
to the universal ; it seeks more earnestly for the one meaning 
of any phaenomenon than for the numerous conditions of its 
realization ; and it would always much sooner discover the 
unity of the thought which binds together the disconnected 
fragments of the cosmic course as living members of a beauti- 
and harmonious whole, than inquire after the unattractive 
conditions, upon the universal validity of which depends the 
possibility of all beauty and of all connection of parts into a 
whole. Memory will tell each of us that our youthful dreams 
took this turn. We should hardly have been able to say why 
exactly it was that we were not satisfied with what reality 
ofiered ; still it was the case that reality could not justify 
itself to our unanalysed dissatisfaction, and still less was it 
comparable with the indescribably fair content of the dream 






which hov-ired before us in indistinct splendour. And then 
led away by the splendour of this dream we set to work to, 
as it were, develop afresh from it the whole fulness of 
reality ; for what else could the unrest be which filled us 
and urged our imagination to artistic production, than that 
very creative principle itself which is embodied in this world 
of phsenomena ? And what we attempted seemed to succeed ; 
as note can be joined to note to frame a melody, so one form 
gave rise to another, and one thought to another, and seemed 
to interpret to us the secret meaning and the inner connection 
of phsenomena. With the most unsuspecting confidingness 
we put our trust in the poetic justice which was the law of 
our imaginative constructions, and accepted it in lieu of that 
proof of their truth which we lacked ; deaf to every reminder 
of universal laws (which without being themselves the highest, 
seemed to limit that which was highest), we passed by with 
utter disregard those actual facts which were in contradiction 
to our dreams. Thus we shared the conviction of mythology 
that that alone which is worthy truly exists ; only that while 
mythology sought the worth of all existence in the joy of 
some animate life which it conceived of as similar to our own, 
the present more advanced development of thought led us to 
other ways — less obvious, though perhaps not more true — of 
embodying the ideal, which we reverenced as exercising un- 
conditioned power over all reality and as the secret source of 
its evolutionary energy. And just as mythology forced the 
analogies of human spirit-life upon natural objects the furthest 
removed from any likeness to us, so we have imposed upon 
the nature of things the meaning and connection which our 
mind in moods of dream and misgiving demands for the 
satisfaction of its unanalysed needs. And in this lies the 
strength as well as the weakness of these attempts, which are 
not peculiar to youth but are frequently repeated by science, 
chough in the more modest forms which an increased 
experience of life forces them to assume. Their strength, I 
say ; for having sprung from a powerful agitation of the soul, 
which intensifies all the deepest longings of the mind so that 


they become a living mood, these efforts are real experiences 
in quite another sense than the thoughts which calm reflection 
attaches to phsenomena at a later stage, with greater reserve, 
and as it were more on the surface ; this living intuition 
may divine many a truth, many a relation between things 
which more deliberate thought would discover either laboriously 
or not at all. For in truth it must be even as we were 
taught by the feeling which animated our dreams — it must be 
that that which is worthy is that which truly is, and there 
will come a time when the soul which has learnt to know 
itself will be able to return to this re-acknowledgment of its ^ 
primal faith. But it will have to overcome the weakness 
which led its early efforts astray. Instead of being as it were ) 
mastered by the feeling, it must seek to become master of it ; ) 
it must not let the seeds of truth spring up from the soil of a 
passionate mood, in a series of poetical developments, along 
with seeds of the most casual errors and of "idols of the 
cave," but must learn to follow the course of things along the 
path which it really takes. 

\ 2. Helped by the thought of long ages of past time, a rich 
inherited stock upon which we can draw, it is easy for us to 
give up an inadequate standpoint — a standpoint, however, after 
reaching which historical development of human consciousness 
had to traverse a long distance before attaining a more tenable 
position. The mythological beginning, both in history and in i 
the life of the individual, is followed by a period of active and V 
inquisitive reflection; meditation, no longer supplementing the -j 
world by poetic inventions, gives itself to a consideration of 
the course of events, and gradually works out to greater 
clearness the idea of a nature of things, with regard to which / 
the proper attitude of the human mind is one of docile 
recognition. In mythological philosophy it was only the 
notion of Destiny which had any reference to a necessity 
regulating the connection of things ; but this view of necessity 
was not such as to be favourable to the development of know- 
ledge. For Destiny, wholly devoid of cause or reason, did not \ 
bind the course of events to general laws, which ad universally J 



valid truth would rule in unnumbered similar cases, but it 
connected together particular events by a link which, because 
destitute of law, must be also incomprehensible. Not know- 
ledge but prophetic inspiration, not thought which from a| 
basis of reason calculates what must happen but intuition 
that becomes aware by signs of some approaching event, was the 
faculty to which this necessity revealed itself. Gradually ati 
first, by steps which cannot be historically traced but may be 
conjectured, a fitful awe of incomprehensible fate passes into 
the clearer thought of a necessity which as being the nature 
of the thing is no longer regarded as joining things together 
fortuitously, but as joining, according to general points of view, 
things which have a connection with each other. This trans- 
formation of view, with which for the first time self-existent 
truth as an object of scientific knowledge is brought face to 
face with intelligent cognition as the instrument of its com- 
prehension, was no doubt due to an impulse originating in the 
fact that life itself urges men on the one hand to an industrious 
-y cultivation of Nature, and on the other hand to the establish- 
ment of social relations. Both were impossible without the 
practical application of general rules of judgment, of which, 
later on, dawning reflection had to become conscious as forming 
the principles of its procedure. And these rules denied equally 
both the unregulated supremacy of a blind fate, and the self- 
sufficiency, the power of self-realization, which had been 
attributed to everything that had intrinsic worth. 

In contrast to the temper of youth, this new conception of 
the world commonly appears in the development of the 
individual as the culture which results from life and the 
experience of life, and there is between the two phases an 
undeclared hostility. The idealism of youth, with its confidence 
of being able to bring all reality into subjection to its fairest 
dreams, is broken in upon by the realism of riper age which 
gives calm recognition even to what is unimportant when it 
occurs as a fact, as one of the unalterable fashions of the 
world's course. Tor there comes a time in our lives when the 
heart grows weary of fiction, and hungers and thirsts for 



reality ; there is an indescribable joy in the consciousness of 
having gained insight into a part of that which not only stirs 
our longing, but surrounds and upholds us with the incom- 
prehensible charm of reality, and the mind of the observer is 
conscious that such a feeling raises it infinitely above the 
pleasing but unstable moods which once filled its being. To 
the reproach of having become unreceptive to the ideals of 
youth, it rejoins that it has now learnt instead the virtue of 
renunciation, and does not forcibly transfer to the world the 
results of subjective intuition, but is content to learn with awe 
and humility, from a comparison of experiences, as much of 
the nature of things as they themselves reveal. And now 
indeed the individual can hardly expect that in his limited 
sphere of experience the secrets of the universe should be 
fully unveiled to him. Fixing his attention at different points 
of experience, he will have to content himself with discovering 
the proximate causes of some special groups of phaenomena 
without reaching the ultimate principles upon which their 
whole variety depends. This fragmentary method charac- 
terizes the teaching of life throughout. Many trains of 
thought starting from particular natural processes, energetically 
follow out the connected course of these processes for a time, 
but come to an end when they have found the axiomata media, 
beyond which abstraction from perception cannot proceed. 
Various maxims arise from the consideration of conduct, often 
bringing together and answering cognate questions with great 
acuteness of discernment, but unconcerned both about first 
principles and about their own contradictions of one another. 
But even in the very want of connection and unity which 
marks this living development there is a charm which fills it 
with a sense of wellbeing — the charm of half revelation. If 
to our view the topmost summits of reality are veiled in mist, 
they appear as a whole only so much the vaster and more 
infinite ; even the contradictions to which we are led by a 
consideration of its diflferent parts strengthen the sense of 
submissive security with which we consider, and merge our- 
selves in, a world so vast as to be able to present to us such 




different aspects on the different sides which it turns towards 
us. Eeverence for the inherent truth of anything is greater 
in this mood than it was in the enthusiasm of youth, and he' 
who has experienced it will find that the suggestive poetry of 
this prose is more profound and more full of content than the 
sparkling foam of youthful dithyrambs. 

S 3. In the history of mankind we can trace this evolution 
of consciousness nowhere but in the gradual development of 
Greek science. It seems that Greek philosophy, following 
this path of a living development having many starting- 
points, was occupied (until it reached its culminating point 
in Plato and Aristotle) in trying to arouse everywhere a 
consciousness of the existence of a truth, and of a nature of 
things, which constituted possible objects of human cognition. 
Making guesses and using the analogies of perception with 
more or less penetration, it made repeated attempts to obtain 
a provisional formula for the content of truth before it turned 
its attention to consciousness itself, and inquiring into the 
nature and instruments of human cognition, passed from the 
fragmentary activity of living development to the coherent 
method of scientific investigation. For the rapid survey 
which it is our present object to make, its particular doctrines 
are indifferent ; what is important is the general condition of 
human culture and insight which its procedure reveals. 

Poetry had early succeeded in expressing the results of 
life's experiences in striking pictures and in general reflec- 
tions. And when the first Greek sages appeared enunciating 
gnomes — such as that which blames all excess, or that which 
connects every suretyship with some fatality, or that which 
exhorts men to self-examination — what they said seemed 
to contain much less than was already familiar to the poetic 
consciousness of the nation, and thus they appeared to be 
behind the civilisation of their own time. But if this had 
really been the case, they would not have received the 
admiration which has connected their names with the dawn 
of philosophy. The first awakening of the scientific spirit 
always causes surprise, not by its unusual wealth of new 


matter, but by its special mode of regarding that wliicb is Y' 
already known. Compared with the wealth of thought which 
the national mind possesses in its poesy and employs in life, 
the infancy of science always appears inexplicably meagre ; >( 

it is only a high degree of perfection which enables it 
(by means of discoveries which it alone can then make) 
to be supreme among the mental activities of life. The 
rich variety of Homeric characters and the soul-painting of 
Sophoclean art had caused the Greeks to see clearly and 
sympathize warmly with all the depths of spiritual life, long 
before its dawning speculation could answer (even with the 
most inadequate and superficial conjectures) the question \ ' 
what the soul is in itself. But such special instances are 
unnecessary. Language itself shows in its structure and use 
the great chasm that exists between the wealth of spontaneous 
living thought and the poverty of reflection which strives to 
analyse its own procedure. Without the trouble of seeking, 
and with the certainty of a somnambulist, the most uncul- 
tured mind finds and uses forms of expression which language 
has invented for him, indicating the finest shades of difference 
in the relations of things, of events, and of thoughts; but 
even with the help of the most complete apparatus of words 
of " second intention," he would be wholly incapable of 
rendering to himself or others any precise account of the 
content of the thoughts which he expresses (as easily as he 
breathes) in forms of language the use of which has become 
a living habit to him. From this mere thinking life to self- 
conscious thought a decisive step was taken by those first 
sages. When they expressed their familiar and to some 
extent unimportant truths as simple sayings detached from 
poetical surroundings, constantly repeating them with the same 
emphatic simplicity, they gave to their content a new form 
and with this a new value. They roused the attention of the 
mind to the fact that the general maxims with which so 
often before it had as it were toyed unsuspectingly are not 
mere breathing-places for the soul when roused to excitement 
by a consideration of events ; but that they are in all serious- 



ness real laws of the cosmic order, fragments of that self- 
existent truth, that nature of things, to the recognition of 
which the fully awakened consciousness had to apply itself. 
Hence these sayings, although founded on particular cases of 
experience and referring to them in their phrasing, plainly 
had a general symbolic meaning ; they showed that in other 
departments as well — everywhere in fact — similar conditions 
governed the connection of events. 

The study of Xature passed through the same stages as 
the study of human life. When we see all phsenomena 
derived sometimes from water, sometimes from air, now from 
fire, and then from the confusion of chaos, or by determination 
of the indeterminate, we are surprised at the poverty of this 
conception of Nature when compared with mythology, which 
knew all this and much more, and which reproduced the 
characteristics of phsenomena with much more penetrating 
subtlety. We may think it strange that when Anaxagoras 
declared vov<; to be the principle of the universe, without 
being able to apply this thought to any particulars of per- 
ception, he should have seemed to his contemporaries to be 
announcing something great and new; for not only had 
mythology always had the same notion, but it had also 
been able to show, after its own fashion, how vov'i works in 
Nature in individual cases. But only after its own fashion ; 
it is easily seen that notwithstanding all the poverty of its 
content the dawning philosophy was new because of the 
different mode in which it apprehended things. Whilst 
fancy hitherto had merely gone on to dream after dream 
of phsenomenal beauty, reflection now became ever more 
and more conscious of that universal necessity which, as the 
nature of things, gives order, tension, and stability to the 
whole world of phaenomena ; and the unskilful essays which 
followed one another in rapid succession helped to form ever 
clearer and clearer notions of primal matter, primal force, and 
universal modes of motion from which individual creatures 
and events proceeded, as results brought about after various 
fashions. But there still went on working the youthfulness 



of thought, which hankers after intuitive perception and is 
led away by circumstantial histories of the origin of things 
from investigating the final conditions of their reality. In 
order to indicate that content of the really existent which it 
strove to grasp, the mind turned at first to remarkable 
pheenomena of internal and external experience ; and brought 
into prominence as the essential principles of the universe 
those comparatively permanent and universal phsenomena by 
which, as Matter or Cause, the rest were in various ways con- 
ditioned. From such notions as that the really existent is 
water or air, more practised reflection has in course of time 
risen to more abstract determination ; the Infinite, the One, 
Measure, Order, gradually took the place of the more sensuous 
early notions. But all these changing dicta belonged, as far 
as form went, to the " contingent aspects " of growing develop- 
ment. Of course each of these principles was chosen because 
it seemed to possess the qualities which the prejudices of 
natural thought require in that which is to be accepted 
as the supreme principle. But these principles were not 
analysed, nor comprehended in all their fulness, and one or 
another guided individual thought according as it seemed 
from some accidental cause to be more clear to consciousness ; 
the particular thought which corresponded to his own obvious 
requirement was one-sidedly regarded by each as the whole 
content of the supreme principle, and he thus came to regard 
the whole principle as being embodied in the phaenomenon 
which rendered that thought most strikingly perceptible to 
the senses. 

In this process of reflection there were traces of recent 
emergence from mythical philosophy ; from which also another 
heritage had descended to it — that reverence for symmetrical 
and rhythmical forms of occurrence in the order of events 
which would very naturally arise when the mind, though it no 
longer sought in the world a direct copy of its own spiritual life 
and its own joy in existence, yet strove to find (as it were in 
compensation for this) in the independent nature of things 
which it began to recognise, a perfection peculiar to that nature. 



In the real existence which men sought for, the ideas of all 
goodness and beauty and holiness were so blended with the 
idea of reality, that the aesthetic relations of form indicated by 
the former expressions, seemed to belong also to the essential 
nature of reality itself. This notion of the necessary symmetry 
of the really existent (which no doubt contains a kernel of 
truth the more exact determination of which is worth a 
searching investigation) is an assumption which has influ- 
enced the philosophic conceptions of aU periods, and it has 
not lost its power in modern times ; the early ages of antiquity 
were wholly swayed by it. Long after people had begun to 
speak of the laws of things, these laws were not understood 
as general rules of the behaviour of phsenomena which did 
not in themselves require any definite form of phaenomenal 
occurrence, this being determined by the peculiarities of 
the special cases to which they were applied ; they were, 
on the contrary, regarded as definite, symmetrically ordered, 
harmonious rhythms in the occurrence of phaenomena — 
rhythms intuitively perceptible which, since they embrace 
the universe, determine the direction of every individual's 
movement. For a long time the tendency of reflection 
was to class the fates of individuals under great existential 
habits of the universe ; the attempt to explain the final 
form of cosmic order as resulting from the reciprocal action 
of individual circumstances, was made later. At the stage 
to which we are now referring, the thought of the whole 
which with predetermined form and development precedes 
the parts, quite outweighed the thought of general laws, 
which first enable the parts to form a whole or the whole 
to be built up of parts. 

§ 4. Tradition connects with the name of Socrates the 
record of the step by which living reflection was first led into 
the methodical path of scientific cognition. Earlier specula- 
tion had imagined that it could only discover that nature of 
things which is the source of all concrete objects by a 
process of g«essing, which had to penetrate through all kinds 
of phaenomenal obscuration, in order that, far behind them, it 


might find the being itself. The objects of Nature that sur- 
round us, and the events that take place among them, were 
then connected with the real being, not indeed by something 
that had happened, but by something that was continually 
happening — whether this was conceived under the form of an 
element that, passing through many intermediate stages, had 
transformed itself into the multiplicity of individual things, or 
as an order and a rhythm that can only be fully perceived 
in the great whole, and that seems to vanish in parts and 
individuals of that whole, through inexplicable contradictory 
fluctuations. Now for the first time it became clear to 
men's minds that the nature of things is present everywhere, 
that its connection with the existing world is not a connection 
dependent on history, but is of the essence of the world — that '^ 
this nature consists not in any one element, not in any one l 
definite form of existence, but in a Truth which, ever the / 
same in small things and in great, joins all parts of the 
world, and is the very nerve of connection between them. 
It was from this third standpoint that cognising knowledge 
first became possible ; for now for the first time there was a 
cause and basis for ever-present necessities of thought, instead 
of the merely historical cosmic facts which formerly men had 
been able to guess, to describe, or to observe without com- 
prehending them. Yet it was very long before the fruits of 
this new standpoint became to any extent matured, and the 
injurious effects, which the deficiencies of the first historical 
harvest in this field left to posterity, have not even yet all 

That the objects of observation and the various images 
which fill our thoughts may be co-ordinated under general 
class concepts, and that the content of these concepts is 
eternally the same, and is what it is, freed from all the 
mutation and change to which its particular manifestations 
in actual fact are subject — these two apparently insignificant I 
discoveries mark the beginning of the new period. These ' 
two insignificant discoveries, I say; for they on]j- revealed 
what the living course of human thought had always pos- 


sessed ; and yet they both had very important results. For 
long as it was since language had begun to indicate in words 
the general concepts of things (as indeed it was inevitable 
that it should), consciousness had still continued unaware of 
what it was about; and even for the contemporaries of 
-Socrates it was hard to see that the convenience of using a 
-common name for different things arose from their depend- 
ence upon something which was common to them all, and in 
all self-identical. And inevitably as both reflection and 
practice had tacitly assumed the unchanging self- identity 
of every notion and every determination of things, yet the 
theoretic consideration of reality had led to confused ideas of 
an eternal flux of all things, in which the mutability of 
reality had come to be regarded as involving also the muta- 
bility of truth, and every fixed standard of fluctuating 
particulars was lost sight of. As opposed to this incapacity 
and that confusion, the conscious emphasizing of universally 
valid truth (narrow as the view of its content might as yet 
be) appeared as the first basis on which a firm position might 
be taken up, and from which further advances might proceed. 
After men had long been striving to grasp the highest real 
existence at one bound, as it were, there began the logical 
period of thought, in which it became possible for men to 
attempt first of all to make clear what must necessarily be 
required in that which was the goal of their desires ; and then, 
and only then, to ask whether that which satisfies these 
requirements is to be found, and if so, where ? 

This newly-gained insight set two tasks for further develop- 
ment to accomplish : first, that of becoming conscious of the 
forms and principles of procedure which are indispensable for 
observation and for the connection of our thoughts in order 
to reach that which the thinking mind should accept as 
truth ; the foundations of this logical science were laid in a 
masterly manner by antiquity, but the science was left far from 
complete. Just as unavoidable was the second problem — 
the inquiry as to the worth which all these laws of thought 
(inevitable for our intelligence) possess as regards the compre- 


heiision of truth and acquaintance with things themselves ; 
and neither in ancient times, nor in the long course of 
development which science has since then passed through, 
has this investigation reached a solution of manifold doubts, 
which in their most general form we must now consider, as 
far as they can be made intelligible without systematic scien- 
tific investigation. 

If in common life we seek by a comparison of apparent 
signs, by the use of numerous analogies, and by inferring 
back from results to their causes, to ascertain some secret, 
hidden, or forgotten fact, we do not doubt that all the indirect 
courses thus taken by our thought are means which are only 
necessary for us who seek ; necessary because of the position 
we are placed in as regards the object of our search; we do 
not suppose that the nature of the thing itself which we are 
desirous of explaining has gone through a similar series of 
steps in the course of its development. The course which 
our thought has taken is therefore regarded by us as merely 
our subjective mode of procedure, and as the result of this we 
hope indeed to arrive finally at a knowledge of the nature of 
our object ; but we do not imagine that our labour, while it 
is in progress, is an exact reflection step for step of that inner 
process of development by which the object was formed, or of 
the inner coherence by which its actual existence is main- 
tained. This notion of the relation of thought to its object, 
which appears unsought in such cases, contains in combina- 
tion two assertions which are sometimes separated into two 
opposed views. Every useful instrument must fulfil two 
requirements ; in the first place it must be suited to the hand 
that is to use it, and in the second place it must be suited to 
the nature of the object to which it is to be applied. Just in 
the same way the processes of thought must be determined 
both by the nature of the thinking subject, and also by the 
nature of its objects. But the peculiarities imposed upon it 
by these several conditions cannot be quite the same. 

The intelligence of finite beings is not placed at the centre 
of the universe, and cannot grasp at once the whole of reality 




in the true and natural relations of dependence which suhsist 
between all its parts ; placed amid phsenomena it finds itself 
face to face rather with the derivative properties of things 
than with their nature, and much oftener with results than 
causes ; it is forced to become acquainted successively with 
the parts of a coexistent whole. Thus there arise in our 
thought an immense number of necessary activities of dis- 
crimination, combination, and relation, which are all merely 
preparatory formal means of knowledge, and to which we can 
by no means ascribe real validity in the sense that their 
succession presents a reflection, exact or resembling, of the 
internal processes and reciprocal action upon which the reality 
and development of objects themselves depend. But on the 
other hand, it is just as plain that when these laws of thought 
are capable of leading to a knowledge of things, they cannot 
be mere subjective forms in the equally one-sided sense that 
they arise from the organization of our mind as innate modes 
of its activity without having any original relation to the 
nature of the objects with which they are destined to deal 
On the contrary, thought and existence certainly seem to be 
BO connected as that they both follow the same supreme laws ; 
which laws are, as regards existence, laws of the being and 
becoming of all things and events, and as regards thought, 
laws of a truth which must be taken account of in every 
connection of ideas. All reality is connected according to 
these laws in such a thoroughgoing fashion, and with such 
unbroken logical consistency, that our thought may at its own 
choice use any mesh in the network as its point of departure, 
and proceed therefrom in any direction it will ; and as long as 
on its part it makes those laws the rules of its progress, it 
will always be sure to arrive at any other point of reality 
which it seeks, however much the direction and the windings 
of its own motion between the two points differ from the 
real connections by which reality itself connects one of its 
divisions with another or causes one to proceed from another. 
The calculation of the peculiar properties of a plane figure by 
means of a diagram may serve as an illustration of this. To 


help our demonstration we draw lines in the figure, and the 
larger the number of equally useful constructions among which 
we can choose, the less can we regard any of them as essential 
parts of the figure. We attain the correct conclusion by a 
concatenation of propositions which does not in the least follow 
any real process of construction in the object; but so in- 
exhaustible are the possibilities of connection in any geo- 
metrical object, that our thought, setting out from any selected 
point, may take the most various ways of covering the object 
with a network of relations, and can always rest assured that 
at every halting-place in its circuitous course it will find some 
essential relation, and that at the end of the whole methodical 
procedure it will infallibly reach the truth for which it was 

But this relation of thought to its objects is clear to us only 

so long as we can keep in view the complicated whole of such 

considerations, in the order in which we used them in our 

demonstration; for there arises the appearance of quite a 

different state of things if we go back to the separate elements 

of thought from the combination of which that whole has 

grown up, that is, to the forms of the idea, the concept, 

the judgment, the syllogism. It will seem to us as though 

a complex train of reasoning can only take an arbitrary course 

on the whole (arbitrary, that is, within wide limits), because 

it directly expresses and realizes in these its component parts 

those laws which thought has in common with existence ; and 

it will seem that the circuitous course of our thought can 

^coincide finally with the nature of the thing only because 

[those component parts harmonize with it ; hence allowing only 

[of such modes of combination as belong to the logical con- 

'sistency of this nature of the thing, however much freedom 

there may be in other respects. Therefore when our thought 

combines individual ideas into one whole, when it integrates 

[many similar ideas to one general concept, joins concepts 

!to make judgments, and judgments to make syllogisms, it 

will easily believe that in these processes it is copying the 

very inner relations of its object; and each of these logical 




forms will, on account of the mutual relations into wliich it 
brings the component parts of the train of reasoning, he 
regarded by thought as a reflection of some element of the 
relationship which exists between the constituent parts of the 

I reserve for the present the proof of the illusiveness of 
this semblance ; if for the moment we assume its decep- 
tiveness, the injurious consequences in which it involves 
us are clear. For whenever we consider the reciprocal 
relations of those parts of ideas which we have combined into 
one whole, or the process by which, dropping or adding 
characteristics, we transform one idea into another, we shall 
be inclined to believe that we are thereby enabled to under- 
stand not only the structure of our idea, but also the 
inner articulation of the object ideated, not only the 
procedure of our own thought, but also the course of the 
facts which actually occur, as the object comes into existence 
and develops. This confusion between clearing up our con- 
cepts and analysing the corresponding objects is an error of 
reflection which is very natural, and recurs in the most varied 
forms; and it may be allowed to occupy a certain phase 
in which, when men's attention has been fiist called to the 
presence in our mind of a reign of law to which all truth 
must conform, they are very easily led to over-estimate a dis- 
covery so important. If we say that the knowledge of things 
belongs to Metaphysics, and that the doctrine of the forms 
of thought to be used in knowledge belongs to Logic, then we 
may say that antiquity has very generally erred in thinking 
that it could answer metaphysical questions by logical 
analyses of ideas. And in this lies the cause of the unfruit- 
fulness which strikes us when we look to antiquity for any 
furtherance of knowledge as regards facts — an unfruitfulness 
which we find side by side with a splendid exhibition of 
intellectual strength. Being quite unable in this hasty survey 
to give any account of the latter, we must content ourselves 
with indicating some of the by-ways into which later times 
have been misled through the influence of antiquity. 



Plato's doctrine of Ideas was the first attempt to grasp the 
nature of the thing in general concepts — a grand attempt 
which, though unsuccessful, yet exercised an influence for 
long ages to come. There were strong inducements of two 
kinds to make such an attempt. In the first place, observa- 
tion of living creatures has in all times given rise to the 
thought that nothing but the living generic concept can be 
the combining force which in every individual unites pro- 
perties and vicissitudes into one whole of orderly development, 
causing in each the realization of the same form of life, 
notwithstanding the transforming influences of varying an(J 
casual external conditions. But again Plato's doctrine of 
Ideas, as opposed to the sophistry which was analysing away 
all sense of duty, rendered splendid service by attempting (in 
obedience to the second and equally strong motive) to point 
out that the worth of human actions is not temporarily 
determined by arbitrary institutions of local prevalence or 
changing taste, but that it depends on universal immutable 
moral Ideas of an absolutely good and just and beautiful, 
and only exists in proportion as these Ideas which are always 
self-identical are reflected in the various and changing 
forms of action. In these two cases the question is of 
phaenomena and events which we can easily imagine to be the 
work or aim of reality ; we find no difficulty in understanding 
the generic concept of living creatures as a type which the 
cosmic order seeks to realize in innumerable copies ; still more 
are we inclined to do homage to the other conviction (to 
which enthusiastic expression has so often been given) — the 
conviction that universal original types of the Good and the 
Just and the Beautiful, are to be conceived as the exalted 
patterns which our actions have to imitate. So that here 
general concepts seemed to contain the essence of the thing, 

I because this very essence consisted in the universality of an 
ideal which was intended to be realized in innumerable 
particular cases. 
But it is not all the objects of reflection of which we can 
frame universal concepts that favour this way of looking at 


them ; so that if we disregard the fact that in the instances 
sited the nature of the content ennobles the form of the con- 
cept, and look at this form as indicating universally the 
essential nature of things, then in consistency we must go 
further than we would. That every particular thing which is 
beautiful and good and just, is beautiful, good, and just only 
through participation in eternal Ideas of Beauty in itself, Good 
in itself, and Justice in itself, was a notion which could inspire 
Plato with enthusiasm ; but that a table is only a table and 
that dirt is only dirt through participation in the eternal Idea 
of the Table or of Dirt was a difficulty which Plato himself 
encountered but did not remove ; these concepts of common- 
place realities which from a logical point of view are just as 
legitimate concepts as any others, could not well be reckoned 
as imperishable original types in that world of Ideas of which 
the phaenomenal world is but a dim copy. These, however, 
were just the cases which early directed attention to the fa ;t 
that the realm of thoughts and concepts with the whole 
ordered system of its internal connections is not a reflex of 
the realm of existence, but bears to it that different relation 
which we referred to above. Our own voluntary actions 
adapt the materials of Nature to our ends in many ways, and 
thus among other things produce the table, of which there was 
no original type among the integrating constituents of universal 
order; but everything in the world is so connected according 
to law and rule, that of these products of art with which we 
enrich reality there may be just such concepts as of the 
original constituents of reality, and general logical laws are no 
less applicable to these concepts than to the Ideas. And 
further, the course of our thought arbitrarily compares together 
things which are quite unaffected by the comparison, or brings 
them into relations which are quite unessential to them, and 
thus produces the concept of dirt, which certainly does not 
express the nature of anything ; and yet such a notion is a 
help to thought which we are justified in using; for as long 
as we use it with reference to those considerations to the 
arbitrary prominence of which it owes its existence, all the 



laws that thought prescribes to concepts hold of it, and their 
application leads to correct conclusions. 

Between truths which are valid and things which exist ^ 

Greek philosophy always made very inadequately the dis- 
tinction which our language marks plainly enough by these 
two expressions ; valid truth always seemed to it to be a v 
particular department of existence. And it is with this very f •% 

distinction that we are here concerned. It is upon the fact 
that the same supreme truths hold of the ultimate bases of 
both thought and existence that the general possibility of 
their mutual relation depends ; but the relation does not 
consist in this, that a fixed number of concepts as existing are 
to us things, and as thought are the ideas of things ; on the 
contrary, our concepts may be increased indefinitely without j 

any addition to the sum of existence. And further, setting out 
from innumerable arbitrarily chosen standpoints, we may 
build up the same whole by constructions of particular ideas, 
varying according to the variety of these standpoints ; and 
thus there may be many definitions which define the same 
object with equal accuracy and exhaustiveness. None of 
these definitions is the nature of the object, though each is 
valid as to it, because there is no object of which the nature 
can be conceived by means of an Idea that is isolated, and 
unconnected with all others, and characterized only by eternal 
self-identity ; but each object has its nature and its truth 
only in as far as there are general laws of reciprocal behaviour i\/ 
which are valid as to it and all others, and according to 
which it not only is distinguished from others as a coherent 
whole, excluding all others from itself, but also reveals itself 
and enters into connection with others. Thanks to these 
laws, thought can form innumerable new concepts, since under 
their guidance it makes arbitrary lines of communication 
between things, and is conscious of each movement which it 
thus accomplishes as the idea of a certain connection between 
the things. Of these new concepts, Plato's great successor i 
Aristotle would perhaps have said that they were indeed 
potential in the nature of the thing, but in point of fact were 



first made actual by the subjective procedure of thought. A 
consideration of this relation would have led in the first place 
to a clearer distinction between that aristocracy of Ideas on 
the one hand which (as the generic concepts of living 
creatures and of determinations of moral value) are among 
the eternal types that are original constituents of the cosmic 
order, and on the other hand that proletariat of concepts that 
increases indefinitely the more curiously thought plays with 
the infinite possibilities of comparison and connection among 
things. But this distinction (as to the first part of which we 
reserve some important doubts) would have been crowded out 
by a second, which admonishes us to consider not only the 
form of the concept, but also the form of thought of the 
judgment, and to search for the truths — expressible only in 
this form — without which no intercourse between existing 
things and no cosmic order is conceivable, one of the things 
which we owe to this form of judgment being the possibility 
of valid concepts. 

§ 5. This world of concepts not only could not be brought 
into adequate connection with reality, but further, it did not 
attain the internal articulation necessary for a typal world of 
Ideas. It remained a collection of motionless Ideas between 
which nothing takes place in the present, and nothing is fore- 
shadowed as about to take place in the future, and which only 
cohere among themselves by means of logical connections of 
subordination, and compatibility or incompatibility. All the 
transitions from one to another which thought finds or estab- 
lishes between the objects of perception are but misused by 
having their meaning likewise petrified into eternal and ever- 
lasting Ideas, which take their places calmly beside the rest 
without thinking that their business was not to be links, 
members of the series, but only copulas between other members. 
Thus the eternal self-identical Idea of identity stands beside 
the equally eternal and self-identical Idea of unlikeness, and 
along with them the eternally motionless Idea of movement ; 
none of them makes an effort to exist after a fashion suited to 
its content, as a relation of predication between two other 


points, or as the movement of sometliing in some direction. 
Aristotle was sensible of these deficiencies; a taste for the 
observation of Nature, and systematic occupation with the 
forms of thought, drew his attention to the numerous relations 
which connect the individual elements of reality into one living 
whole, and to the ways in which these relations are expressed 
by our thought. He knew that Ideas are not existent but 
valid, that a truth is expressed not by a concept but by a 
proposition ; he searched language for all those expressions 
by which we indicate the manifold relations between things 
which we find or assume ; he frequently distinguishes between 
the dependence upon one another of the different parts of a 
complex thought and the order in which the elements of the 
corresponding reality condition one another. But his practical 
philosophizing no more avoided confusion between the logical 
analysis of thought and the investigation of things with 
reference to the form of judgment, than Plato did with 
reference to the concept. 

In the judgment we combine two ideas by means of a 
third ; we attribute to an object a property or a condition or 
the manifestation of an activity. As long as these predicates 
have once for all been received as unchanging and belonging 
to the subject in its integrity, the judgment expresses no 
event, but only analyses our idea of an unvarying content ; 
and as long as this is the case, it may escape our notice 
that there is need to ask specially what exactly there is in 
the object itself correspondent to that which (with obviously 
figurative expressions) we call its possession of some property, 
its sufferance of some condition, or its manifestation of some 
activity. If on the contrary we attribute to a subject 
assumption or loss or alteration of predicates — that is, when 
we describe an event — we have a more unmistakeable interest 
in knowing what it is that actually happens to this subject 
— the very object itself — to justify our imitative thought in 
now conceiving of it under a second idea which has arisen 
from a previous idea of the same object by the addition of 
new or the dropping out of old marks. It would be difficult 


to show that the Aristotelian philosophy generally satisfies this 
requirement. Much occupied with the concepts of change 
and of becoming, it yet in analysing them makes no inquiry 
as to what it is that justifies us in their application. We are 
told indeed that in change, properties always pass into their 
opposites ; for a brief moment we indulge the hope that this 
remark indicates at least the path and direction which are 
taken when there is alteration, thus revealing a truth which, 
since it could not have been the product of mere thought, 
must have been directly gathered from the nature of the 
thing ; but it speedily appears that nothing more was meant 
than that naturally nothing can become what it already is, but 
only something that it previously was not. Thus this some- 
what inadequate information merely expresses the result of an 
analysis of our idea of becoming, announcing that in it two 
different individual ideas succeed one another in such a way 
that when the one comes the other goes. But what is it that 
in existence and reality so corresponds to this course of out 
ideas that we are able to believe that the ideas are a copy of 
the reality ? We do not know ; the transformations which 
our idea of an object undergoes when the object changes, are, 
in the last resort, regarded as if the alterations of the object 
itself on which they depend were quite similar to them, and 
as if a knowledge of them could take the place of a knowledge 
of the objective alterations. When a white object becomes 
black then in our representation, in the mosaic of marks which 
constituted its mental counterpart, we, as it were, erase the 
mark of white colour, and replace it by one of black ; if we 
then ask what has happened to the object itself, in virtue of 
which we have been able by this alteration to make our idea 
correspond to it again, it seems that the process was essentially 
just the same; the white departed from it, and the black came 
instead. That properties inhere in and are connected with the 
thing quite otherwise than the marks (or parts of presented 
ideas) are related to the concept, is a fact of which now and 
then a theoretic suspicion has been expressed, but this has had 
no important effect upon practical philosophic investigation. 


The celebrated concepts of Bvvafit<i and ivipyeia, M^liich as 
Potentiality and Actuality are still favourites of philosophical 
dilettanteism, bring these barren considerations systematically 
to the investigation of all objects. If a thing passes from one 
state into another, the conditioning causes of the later state 
are contained never wholly but always partially in the earlier 
state ; if they had been contained wholly in it, then the 
earlier state could never have been, but the later would have 
existed from all eternity without any need of coming into 
existence ; since they were only contained in it partially, there 
was something in the earlier state which contributed to the 
later without actually bringing it into existence. If we com- 
pare the two, the ingenuity of thought cannot fail to set down 
the possibility that the second state may at some future time 
arise, as an actujil mark of the first state. The nature of such 
an abstract concept as that of possibility, which makes it very 
difficult to handle, here conceals the barrenness of this pro- 
cedure which in other and similar instances is very obvious. 
In any case of a & that was greater than c and less than a, 
these properties of relation were regarded by the ancients as 
characteristics originally existing in h, and they greatly 
wondered how it was that b could be at the same time a 
greater and a smaller. In the view of modern thought, these 
same properties of relation belong to h only when it is com- 
pared with a and c, being then new expressions for its really 
unchanging magnitude. It is after an equally shallow fashion 
that the possibility or SvvafiK of the later state is contained 
in the first. The real task which cognition has to accomplish 
in comparing the two is to indicate definitely what the earlier 
state was ; and to prove that being what it was it formed a 
part of that circle of conditions, which (subsequently com- 
pleted by the accession of other conditions) helped to form 
the whole cause of the second state, and hence could subse- 
quently produce the realization of that state, which earlier in 
the absence of the complementary conditions it could not do. 
On the other hand, it is wholly useless, and merely produces 
delusion as to the real problems of knowledge, to assume 



generally for every reality merely a previous corresponding 
possibility without inquiring what are the actually existing 
facts upon which the possibility of the subsequent change 

It may be objected that Zvvafii<i and ipepjeva or iurekixeia 
are not merely the bare concepts of possibility and actuality 
but intuitions of something more profound. It is true that 
as Plato's Ideas sometimes denoted all concepts merely as such, 
and sometimes denoted a selection of what should be typical 
concepts, even so that more general signification of the tech- 
nical terms above referred to which follows from Aristotle's 
own illustrations, is limited to certain actually favoured cases. 
For instance, there is nothing to hinder our regarding the 
state of rest of a system of elements as its ivTeXixeia, and the 
motions leading to this as its hvvafii^ in which the rest is 
already present but not realized. But this is not Aristotle's 
meaning. In his view, the mind that can penetrate to 
essential assumptions concerning the worth of things, regards 
activity as the sole and only reality which ought to exist, 
inactivity merely as movement which is as yet undeveloped 
Thus with the concept of Bvvafj,i<; as a possibility which in 
itself may be a capacity, not only of action, but also of inac- 
tion, there is blended the concept of force, which is no longer 
a mere possibility, but an impulse to realization, a living 
faculty. But this transformation of the concept makes it more 
seductive indeed, yet not more fruitful ; it only beguiles us 
the more into being satisfied with explanations which are no 
explanations. The soul is in this sense the eVreXe^j^eta of the 
organic body. If we interpret this to mean that everything 
which is found in the body as an actual relation of the 
elements out of which it is constructed, is used, assimilated 
or enjoyed by the soul according to its worth, significance, 
and possible results, partly in conscious perception, partly in 
feelings of pleasure and the reverse, partly in free activity — 
then we have a proposition which sets forth the problem of 
psychology, but does not furnish that explanation of it which 
we desire. For that the facts are thus we all know without 


the help ol philosophy ; the work of investigation "begins just 
where this formula ends ; what we want to know is, by what 
concatenation of definite and assignable actions and reactions 
that fact of the translation of organic outwardness into spiritual 
inwardness comes to pass. In a similar fashion the logical 
analysis and comparison of our concepts are but too often 
proffered as real explanations of their content. 

The ancients did not to any extent worth mentioning develop 
theories which, by the subordination of varying circumstances, 
present a circle of numerous phsenomena as the results of 
general laws or as deviations from a type. Hence the con- 
fusion between logic and metaphysics, which we have already 
noticed in treating of concept and judgment, meets us again 
later in full force when we come to syllogism and the sys- 
tematic connection of objects. For undoubtedly errors are 
committed in presenting the formulae resulting from the 
investigation and disentanglement of a series of events as if 
they were the very nerves of inner connection between the 
events themselves — in frequently accepting that orderly classi- 
fication which facilitates the survey of given reality, as though 
it contained the essential meaning of the things themselves — 
in often regarding the insertion of some definition in its proper 
place in any system as being in itself an addition to real 
knowledge, even when it adds nothing whatever to the pre- 
viously known qualities of the object defined. Moreover, the 
meshwork of the draught-net of method is often taken, with- 
out more ado, to be the very articulation of the objects which 
it encloses ; and not a few philosophical works take the 
grouping of problems for their solution. 

This kind of over-estimation of logical forms is perhaps not 
the least injurious, but it is the most excusable. He who 
takes the connections between ideas in concept and judgment 
for real relations between the things presented in idea, regards 
as a process in things that which by its very nature can never 
take place in them after such a fashion, and is wholly mis- 
taken. But he who regards the connection of an order which 
is systematic or regulated by law, and which he can transfer 




to given facts as the really conditioning principle of the objec- 
tive connection of things, only over-estimates the significance 
of a proposition which is valid both as to form and content. 
For as to form, no one doubts that the form of law and 
systematic order is just as binding and valid for the inner 
coherence of reality as for the connection of our ideas; the 
only question, therefore, is whether the content of the laws and 
order assumed by us have such claims to objective value. 

Now, supposing that a is the principle — inaccessible to us 
— by which the phsenomena w, n, o are really conditioned, but 
that & is a circumstance accessible to our observation, which 
as necessary consequence or in some other way is inseparably 
connected with a, we may succeed in representing m, n, o as 
dependent upon &, and in doing so continue to be in harmony 
with existing facts. The law expressing this dependence 
would be perfectly valid, although in a higher sense it would 
not be true, for it would derive the phaenomena, not from their 
really supreme principle, but as it were from a vassal thereof. 
It is, however, such validity as the above, and not such truth, 
that we ascribe in a general way to the laws and orderly 
classifications of science ; in practice they merely lead from 
some point of departure in facts to some conclusion in which 
there is a return to facts. It is of little consequence whether 
any one thinks that the course of reality itself between those 
points of departure and conclusion is also determined by the 
law, or that the real inner connection of the manifold is 
expressed in systems. Since one soon sees that many laws 
may be expressed differently from different points of view, 
and that the same group of phsenomena may be arranged 
with equal significance in various classifications, this preten- 
sion is easily given up. None of these forms and laws are 
held to be expressive of the true order of things to the exclu- 
sion of all the other forms and laws, but reality is understood 
as a whole that from very different points of view may be 
represented in connections ever different but ever orderly 
The traveller who goes round about a mountain, if he goes 
repeatedly backwards and forwards and up and down, sees a 


number of different profiles of the mountain recur in an order 
which might have been foretold. None of them is the true 
form of the mountain, but all are real projections of it. But 
the true figure itself, as well as all these apparent ones, 
would consist in some relation of all its parts to one another. 
This true figure, the actual inner relation of things, may per- ^jf 
haps also be discovered, and then, of course, this true objective 
law of reality would be preferred to all derivative and merely 
partial though valid expressions of it; meanwhile we comfort 
ourselves with the thought that the nature of truth is such as 
to make possible innumerable apparent manifestations of itself, 
and a valid movement of knowledge from one to the other. 

§ 6. It was mythology that first in the exercise of unre- % 
strained fancy added a world of real existence to the world of i ^ 
ph.ienomena which had become enigmatical ; with greater / 
moderation the reflection of subsequent wider civilisation x 
opined that there was a nature of things to the heart of I 
which we cannot penetrate by poetic insight, but only touch 
here and there at the surface by means of a thoughtful 
comparison of facts ; finally dawning science tried to sub- 
stitute for the uncertain groping of these attempts, methodical 
investigation, which was guided by a clear consciousness of 
the conditions under which our thought can contain truth. 
From this position, which had been won once for all, and 
could never be given up again, human knowledge was 
hindered from making further advances by deficient insight 
into its own relation to that nature of things for which it 
sought, and it attributed to the movements of thought a 
significance with regard to facts which they did not possess. 
It was only at a comparatively late date that this error was 
clearly perceived and avoided — at least in some departments 
of human knowledge ; the old mistakes have never been 
universally remedied, and there have never been wanting 
acute minds which, deceived by the venerable rust of 
antiquity which has accumulated upon them, have beheld 
in those very errors the golden grains of a truth to bo 
religiously transmitted and further developed. 



Even the ancients made tlie question whether we are capable 
of a knowledge of the truth the subject of wide-reaching and 
oft-repeated reflection. But they ended in scepticism and not j 
in advance towards a positive conclusion ; and even in the 
arguments with which they contest or doubt that capacity of 
knowing the truth, they frequently betray afresh the habit of 
refi'arding the logical connections between our concepts of things 
as real states of the things themselves, thus creating anew 
difficulties which would be avoided if the assumptions made 
were better grounded. A renewed and very powerful impulse 
towards the prosecution of these investigations arose in the 
world of Christian thought, when Christianity had to effect a 
reconciliation between the content of its own practical faith 
and secular scientific thought — doing this partly in the 
struggle with heathen civilisation, and partly as a natural 
result of men's inextinguishable impulse towards knowledge. 

The contrast of the world of appearance to that of real 
existence had among the ancients arisen chiefly from theoretic 
considerations ; and it was in fact only the really existent 
about which human knowledge (which looked for nothing in 
real existence but its own concepts) ascribed to itself clear and 
exact cognition. The world of phsenomena was consigned to 
fluctuating and uncertain opinion. Christianity developed 
this contrast almost entirely from moral points of view ; not 
as unknown, not as empty form, no^ as an object of search, 
but known through revelation and experienced by faith, the 
world of real existence appeared in consciousness, opposed in 
its holiness and majesty to the created universe. Yet known 
and revealed only in this its glory, not in the secrets of its 
construction; being capable of having its value experienced 
in feeling, but hard to be grasped by the thought which 
strives to ascertain the conditions upon which this value de- 
I'ends. And yet the call to do this was more pressing than 
ever; the true world was no longer a mere holiday thought 
for leisure time, which people might entertain or not as they 
liked ; and the more tasks it set for men in this life, the more 
indispensable was it to investigate its connection with the 


everyday world of appearance, which could not henceforth be 
neglected as simply an object of varying opinion, but had to 
be examined into as the soul's sphere of work on earth. 
This new seriousness distinguishes the investigations of the 
Christian era ; notwithstanding the increasing clumsiness of 
thought, they seem, as compared with the many - sided 
dexterity or antiquity, like some weighty business of life 
beside some sport of chivalry by which men's leisure was 
adorned. Almost wholly occupied with the most difficult 
problem of thought — the question concerning the connection 
between the world of worth and the world of fact — this long- 
continued and mighty effort of the human mind was yet 
unable to attain its object ; and it was prevented by this 
predominant direction of its endeavours from providing the 
convictions which it developed concerning the relation of 
thought to existence with any positive results. 

Conscience and revelation held up to consciousness ideals 
of action and of existence, the truth and eternal validity of 
which seemed the one and only fixed point in all the 
fluctuations of human reason; but the attempt to bring the con- 
tent of these unchangeable requirements into harmony with the 
forms of thought according to which we are forced to appre- 
hend reality and its coherence, revealed the impossibility of 
getting near to that immutable goal by the help of such 
resources. A number of dogmas arose in which the deep 
conviction of the worth and truth of an intuition which 
is rather sought after than experienced, struggles with the 
incapacity of thought to express without contradiction that 
which men had in their minds and were seeking after. But 
the burden of this confusion was laid not upon existence, but 
upon cognition ; assertions of the absolute unknowableness 
of God, and exaggerated utterances which seek for the marks 
of truth in that which is repugnant to common sense, concur 
in bearing witness to men's conviction that the worth and the 
essential truth of the higher world are indeed revealed in 
faith, but that the laws of connection obtaining both within 
it and between it and material existence remain unattainable 

VOL. iL y 



by science. In the more restricted question concerning 
the validity of general concepts which was debated between 
the dijBferent Nominalist and Eealist sects, these investiga- 
tions are brought into closer connection with the questions 
which we have been hitherto considering. Do the general 
concepts of kinds and genera exist previously to the individual 
things, as etern£il types according to which the things were 
formed by God, or did they arise in our minds after the 
things themselves were in existence ? and are they empty 
names which signify nothing, or do they, without containing 
the essence of things as their types, yet exist in things after 
such a fashion that they can spring up in us as valid 
modes of apprehending things ? This last opinion met with 
acceptance as well as the others ; but the germ of truth 
which it contained remained undeveloped. On the one hand, 
y traditional custom directed attention almost exclusively to 
the concept, the most unproductive of the forms of thought ; 
diverting it from the consideration of the judgment and the 
syllogism, which by their mode of connecting their content 
f would have made more clear the distinction between the 
: validity of a truth and its identity with the object ; and on 
the other hand, the investigation of the world of outer experi- 
ence had not advanced far enough to assist the more abstract 
-^^ course of thought with the illustrative force of analogy. It 
was not until the end of the Middle Ages that there arose 
this new kind of science, which, worthy as it was and destined 
to give a new form to all investigation, remained for a long 
time restricted to the domain of Nature. Kespect for ex- 
perience, the idea of universal law, and the renunciation 
^ involved in accepting the exact investigation of the connec- 
\ tions between phaenomena by way of compensation for that 
knowledge of the nature of things which men despaired of 
attaining, are the characteristics that distinguish the spirit of 
the new movement. 
^ Experience, indeed, could never have been a matter of 
indifference to men who have to live their lives and find their 
way in the world of facts, and the little-regarded wisdom of 



common life had even in ancient times gained much from 
experience ; but the more exalted wisdom that was transmitted 
in the schools, in its attempts to build up a copy of the world 
was not careful to test by observation and experiment the 
validity possessed by its assumptions in reference to existing 
reality; it was enough if these could justify themselves to 
thought, and the conclusion from the conceivableness of a ^ 
proposition to its validity in the system of the universe was ^^ 
generally drawn without any hesitation. Thus men did indeed 
recognise that things had a nature of their own, and that it 
was this which ought to constitute the object of knowledge ; ; 
but the content of this nature was determined in a one-sided 
fashion by reference merely to subjective thought and men's ' 
sense of probability. There was unquestionably a deeper 
reverence for truth in the newly attained consciousness that, ( 
for the demonstration of any thought its conceivability needs j 
to be supplemented by proof of its efficacy and validity in 
the world of fact. Men Jbegan to feel the charm of reality. 
The ancients had been puffed up wuth the strange notion that 
they had rendered some service by developing a world of pure ^ 
thought that needed no connection with experience ; for this 
idea there came to be substituted the conviction that knowledge 
had only been reached to the extent to which those connec- 
tions of things apprehended in thought could be confirmed by 
fruitful agreement with the results of observation. 

In this the new investigation of Nature was entirely of one < 
mind with religious reflection ; it took its stand upon external I 
sensible experience, just as religious reflection did upon the ) 
inner experience of the life of faith ; that which the eye saw 
or the heart felt could not be taken away or diminished by 
any subtlety of thought ; on the contrary, the results of all 

I scientific labour must be in agreement with these already 
established and immoveable positions. But the investigation < 
of Nature had an advantage over the examination of the inner ^ 
life; there were presented to the senses an immeasurable 
variety of sharply defined phsenomena susceptible of exact 
measurem ent ; equally perceptible by all, when some easily 



recognised sources of error had been cut off; recurring in 
regular series corresponding to their inner coherence, and 
capable of being freed by arbitrarily chosen experiments 
from the ambiguities to which direct observation is subject in 
consequence of the crossing of different series of events. The 
experiences of the inner life, neither recurring regularly nor 
separable from the incalculable peculiarity of the individual 
mind, offered much greater difficulties to investigation; and the 
believing heart had to be contented to hold them in opposition 
to the requirements of thought, or without their being in 
adequate connection with these requirements, whilst the 
investigation of Nature succeeded in developing positive 
methods for the reduction of its problems. 

The connection of natural phsenomena into one coherent 
whole was a favourite task among the ancients also; but 
they blended two questions with injurious effect. They 
sought first of all to grasp some primal activity or primal 
event which should be not a mere indifferent fact, but 
should also produce an aesthetic impression of its value ; from 
this beginning the particulars of reality were to proceed in a 
succession, to the order of which was attributed the double 
office of showing on the one hand how the significance of 
every phaenomenon depends upon preceding ones, and how on 
the other hand in its realization it is an effect of these. 
This mixing up of an ideal interpretation of events with a' 
causal explanation could not afford to antiquity the fruits 
which in our own time it has always refused. It was only 
Atomism that even among the ancients took another course ; 
favoured by fortune which is not always gracious to the mosba 
deserving, minds of a lower order in this school — mindsJ 
infinitely inferior to the incomparable genius of Plato andij 
Aristotle — yet hit upon the fertile thought which was 
be a lasting gain for all future time. I am not speakingj 
of their direct teachings concerning the nature of things, ofl 
the atoms and the void, and of the subsequent rude and! 
unskilful working out of these ideas and of their conse- 
quences ; on the contrary, the only important thing is the 




fundamental notions of their procedure as regards method. ^ 

They first of all laid down as their established belief, the 
maxim that the origin, preservation, mutation, and destruction 
of natural objects could not be primarily explained by means 
of Ideas as though mere significance were sufficient to trans- 
form a postulate into reality, but that on the contrary every- 
thing that happens, whatever its significance and value may be, 
whether it is great or small, noble or common, right or wrong, 
depends for its realization on the universal rules of a mechanism 
working uniformly everywhere. And further, they accustomed 
men to see in the inexhaustible multiplicity of mathematical 
distinctions which may be applied to the properties, states, 
and movements of elements, a middle term (or a collection of 
infinitely variable middle terms) by which minor premisses may 
be supplied to major premisses expressing universal laws; these 
minors affording to the majors not only definite guidance 
towards the establishment of various results, but also enabling 
the whole special and definite result to be deduced in each 
particular case. 

Later times learnt the value of these fundamental notions 
in the development of the idea of universal natural law. For 
although the general concept of law could never have been 
unknown to a civilised people, yet its application in the 
investigation of the existing world required that it should 
have assumed a particular character which did not belong to 
it till a late period. If there exist between two real elements 
connections which vary in such a way that their various 
values may be measured by a common standard ; if further 
those elements can experience or assume states or properties 
which in the same way form varying series of members sus- 
ceptible of comparison, these members having any measur- 
able differences ; and if moreover a change in the states or 
properties of the thing is involved in any change in the 
connections — then there will either be a constant formula 
according to which the magnitude of the change of states 
depends upon the magnitude of the change of connections, or 
there will be another constant formula according to which 




the ratio of this dependence itself varies regularly with 
the change of any condition that admits of degrees. This 
general expression, to which every natural law is reducible, 
clearly reveals the limitations which science imposes upon 
itself, its tasks, and its performances. 

And first comes its dependence upon experience. For 
science cannot guess what elements and what connections 
between them must be contained in the order of the world ; 
it waits to learn this from observation, and for itself desires to 
be nothing more than a development of the results which 
become necessary when circumstances actually occur, the 
non-occurrence of which would involve no contradiction in 
thought. And it is not sufficient that experience should show 
to science determinate elements in determinate connections ; 
for even what will happen under such conditions science has 
no means of guessing ; it is, again, experience which must 
teach science what kind of change in the states of things 
is produced by the presence of this determinate connection, 
and it is the comparison of many observations which first 
leads to a knowledge of the general law according to which 
the worth of these results depends upon the worth of their 

But the possession of a general law would be worthless if 
it only served to sum up the particular cases from which it 
had itself been abstracted. What is much more important is 
to comprehend the whole varied content of every complex 
phsenomenon as in the course of events it now arises and now 
passes away again, owing to the crossing of many and various ! 
conditions. Science cannot seek the solution of this problem 
by reference to that which the inner nature of things requires, 
or that which is included in the necessities of its development, 
or in the reasoned plan of the universe. Science does not.: 
know what it is that is valid in all these connections. But it 
knows that the unknown inner being of things (as far as it is 
revealed in their properties and connections, which are quanti- 
tatively comparable) must inevitably have the consequences! 
which accrue, to everything that has magnitude, from the 


summation of similars, the cancelling of opposite symbols, and 
the combination of differences so as to produce a mean result. 
It is only at this one accessible point that science can lay hold -) 
of reality, and hence it imposes upon itself the other limita- [ 
tion of being only a mathematical not a speculative develop- J 
ment of given data. To an individual connection there 
attaches as a matter of fact a definite result, arising we know 
not how, and the magnitude of which is dependent upon the 
magnitude of the connection ; if there is a complication of 
many such connections, science deduces a new connection as 
the effect of this complication, and from this proceeds a new 
result capable of predetermination as regards form and magni- 
tude, and likewise arising we know not how. Thus the whole 
theory is an investigation of how far the order of the changing 
course of the world, which springs from the varying action and 
reaction of its parts, may be apprehended by means of empiri- 
cally recognised constant connections of unknown elements, 
without searching into the inner nature of things, and the 
end to which this nature is destined. As far as variation of 
phsenomena goes, every occurrence is for science a result the 
producing conditions of which it searches out ; as soon as 
facts and connections which are unchangeable and always 
valid, are either encountered by science in observation, or 
found to be assumptions on which existing facts may be 
adequately explained, these facts and connections are regarded 
by science as ultimate principles at which its investigations 
may stop. It does not seek further to deduce this final 
reality itself, for the domain of that causal connection by 
which alone it is led, ends where change ends ; the coherence 
which beyond this domain may subsist between the unchange- 
able elements of reality, could only be such as should have \ 
its order and mode of connection justified by the worth of the ) 
significance which they possess. Science has not the least , 
reason to deny such a coherence, but its investigations do not 
refer to this, but to the operative economy by which 
phsenomena must be connected in every case, whether an 
intelligent Idea prescribes the work of the world, or whether 





all that takes place is merely the result of causes that lie 
behind, and does not work towards any goal 

Whilst these thoughts had been gradually developed much 
had changed. The world of phsenomena, once the object of 
obscure and varying opinion, had become the field of the most 
exact investigation. Plato and Aristotle — in opposition to the 
Heraklitean doctrine of the eternal flux of things, which as it 
seemed to them unjustifiably did away with the validity of all 
immutable truth — agreed that there can only be a science of 
that which is eternally self- identical ; more modern times 
emphasized the opposite doctrine, saying that reality is of 
interest to science only in as far as it changes ; of that which 
is eternally self-identical we can merely have cognisance; 
eternal truths are of worth not under the form of a motionless 
order, in which the particular occupies a fixed position of 
subordination to the universal, but only as principles of 
change in accordance with which things alter their states. 
In this contrast, the meaning of which cannot be here guarded 
against all misunderstandings, is to be found the real advance of 
science in its new stage; in the admission that only phsenomena 
can be developed from phsenomena, and that we remain wholly 
ignorant of the nature of things, we find the limitation under 
which this advance is to be recognised. To describe the results 
which have been obtained in this way would be as unneces- 
sary as it is impossible ; it is not only knowledge of Nature, 
but also mental and social life, which have experienced the 
influence of the new mode of thought ; and even where its 
more concrete instruments of search have not yet penetrated, 
it has already introduced its methods and spirit of investiga- 
tion. The manifold procedure of induction, the subtle devices 
of experiment, the fertile ingenuity of calculations in pro- 
bability, constitute the stock of an inventive and active art of 
knowledge which the energetic and Promethean spirit of 
modem times has added to the not less admirable structure 
of ancient logic. By these means science advances, whilst 
unfortunately the traditional philosophy of the schools knows 
little of them, and satisfies itself with continually renewed 



reflection upon the wisdom of past times, pushing aside the 
problems which this cannot advance. And finally, these 
investigations which primarily concern phsenomena only, have 
not been unfruitful even with regard to those reflections 
which we desire should be carried on concerning the world as 
a whole and the significance of its order, and concerning real 
existence. On the other hand, it is to empirical investigation 
and its mathematical interpretation that we owe our only 
trustworthy view of the magnitude and construction of the 
universe, the connection of the effects that take place in it, 
and the complete circle of mutually compensatory processes 
which actually occur — facts that have not indeed received an 
interpretation, yet for all that facts — facts the knowledge of 
which has provided philosophy with a basis for its explanations 
of cosmic order quite other than that which in ancient times 
could be furnished by its own assumptions concerning the 
necessary nature of things, and real existence. To know facts 
is not everything, but it is a good deal ; to despise this know- 
ledge because one desires something more befits only those 
fools mentioned by Hesiod who can never understand that the 
half may be more than the whole. 

§ 7. Philosophy is a mother wounded by the ingratitude of 
her children. Once she was all in all ; Mathematics and 
Astronomy, Physics and Physiology, not less than Ethics and 
Politics, received their existence from her. But soon the 
daughters set up fine establishments of their own, each doing 
this earlier in proportion as it had made swifter progress 
under the maternal influence ; conscious of what they had 
now accomplished by their own labour, they withdrew from 
the supervision of philosophy, which was not able to go into 
the minutiae of their new life, and became wearisome by the 
monotonous repetition of insufficient counsels. And so when 
every offshoot of investigation which was capable of life and 
growth had separated itself from the common stem and taken 
independent root, it fell to philosophy to retain as her 
questionable share the undisputed possession of as much of all 
problems as remained still inexplicable. Eeduced to this 






dowager's portion, she continued to live on, ever pondering 
afresh over the old hard riddles, and ever resorted to afresh in 
calm moments by those who held fast to a hope of the unity 
of human science. 

The experiential sciences had investigated the connection of 
phpenomena ; they showed how many and what kind of links 
constitute the chain of events which connects any cause with 
its final effect ; but what it is that holds together any two 
contiguous links escaped them ; they told neither what things 
are in themselves, nor in what consists that action between 
them by which alone the condition of one can become the 
cause of a change in the condition of another, Eeligious and 
moral life had developed the belief in unconditional worth — • 
an unconditional ought, which if there is any meaning in reality 
must be the most real of all things ; but the world of 
creatures and of facts in which alone it could be realized was 
opposed to it as quite alien, neither derivable from it nor, as 
it seemed, even compatible with it. This condition of things 
contained incentives to a constant repetition of two questions 
— first the question as to the intrinsic nature of existing things 
whose manifestations to us are the subject of our observation, 
and secondly the question as to the connection in which this 
world of existing reality stands to the world of worth, of what 
ought to be. And all attempts to answer these two questions 
always stirred up forthwith a third question, that as to our 
capacity of knowing truth, and the connection of this capacity 
partly with existing reality and partly with that which reality 
ought to be and produce. 

Our thoughts receive the stamp of certainty by being 
reduced to either the already proved certainty of others, or to 
that of immediate truths which neither need nor are susceptible 
of proof. The trust which we repose on the one hand in the 
laws of thought by means of which this reduction is accom- 
plished, and on the other hand in the simple and immediate 
cognitions to which this leads us, may be guarded by repeated 
and careful proof from the influence of prejudices of which the 
persuasive force is accidental and evanescent ; but on the other 




hand no proof can guard against a doubt which suspects of 
possible error that which men have always found to be a neces- 
sity of thought. A scepticism that does not demonstrate from 
individual contradictions which may be cited the erroneous- 
ness of specified prejudices, and hence the possibility of 
correcting them, but goes on causelessly repeating the simple 
question whether in the end everything is not really quite 
different from that which we necessarily think it to be, would, 
in banishing certainty wholly from the world, also destroy all 
the worth of reality. That, however, this cannot be — that the 
world cannot be a mere meaningless absurdity — is a moral 
conviction, which is the ultimate ground of our belief in our 
capacity of cognising the truth, and in the general possibility 
of scientific knowledge. But this conviction does not define 
the extent of such knowledge. 

It is only our own existence of which we are immedi- 
ately conscious ; all our information as to an external world 
depends upon ideas which are only changing conditions of 
ourselves. What, then, is our guarantee that this image 
of an external world is not an innate dream ? He who 
is cautious asks whether this is so ; he who is incautious 
asserts that it is ; he forgets that our experience must 
be the same in both cases, whether there be things without 
us or not; even a real external world could only be 
reflected by us in images resulting from affections of our 
own beicg. Hence the nature of all our ideation being 
subjective, it can furnish no decision concerning the existence 
or non-existence of the world which it believes that it reflects. 
But the attempt to regard the image of the world as a native 
production of the mind alone has always been speedily given 
up again by scientific^instinctu;- for in order to attain this 
end it has always been necessary to assume the existence 
in ourselves of just as many impulses foreign to our 
mind, and not derivable from it as in the common view 
we are believed to receive from the external world. Ee- 
serving for future consideration the important points in this 
view, we now go on to speak of the conviction (to which 





philosophy has always speedily returned) that our ideas arii 
from action and reaction with a world independent of ourselves, 

But if this is so, can our ideation be more than an effect 
of thiugs, can it be a copy which resembles them, and can the 
truth which we are capable of knowing consist in an agree- 
ment between thought and thing ? We speak of the image 
of an object when any construction of other material makes 
the same impression upon our perception which the object 
itself would have made ; thus as far as we are concerned one 
thing becomes the image of another through having a similar 
effect. But can the effects produced in us by both be ever so 
exactly like the things, that the eye of an independent observer 
would regard our cognition as an image of the object ? 
Wherever action and reaction take place (and cognition is 
only the particular case of such action between things and the 
ideating mind), the nature of the one element is never trans- 
ferred, identical and unchanged, to the other ; but that first 
element is but as an occasion which causes the second to 
realize one single definite state out of the many possible for 
it — that state, namely, which according to the general laws of 
the nature of that second element is the fitting response to 
the kind and magnitude of stimulus which it has received. 
Hence definite images in us, and produced by us, correspond to 
the causes which act upon us ; and to the change of those 
causes there corresponds a change of these inner states of ours. 
But no single idea is a copy of the cause which produces it, 
and even the connections which we think we cognise between 
these still unknown elements are not primarily the very 
relations that really obtain between the elements, but only the 
form in which we apprehend them — and we do not regard 
this state of things as human weakness, for it is of the very 
nature of all cognition, which depends upon action and reaction 
with its object. All creatures that are subject to these con- 
ditions are subject also to this consequence ; they all see 
things not as they are in themselves when nobody sees them, 
but only as they appear when they are seen. 

Though limited in this way to phaenomena, yet knowledge 


is not devoid of all connection with what really exists. For 
we are not justified in complaining, as if it were so illusive 
that a mere appearance only is shown to us, the nature 
which appears (which is altogether unsusceptible of comparison 
with the appearance and of which even the very existence is 
uouhtful) lying wholly beyond our intellectual horizon. We 
cannot regard our fundamental intuitions as merely human 
modes of apprehension by which things which are in them- 
selves of wholly different form are taken up, and under which 
they appear to us alone, without admitting that (in order that 
they may be able to be taken up by these forms) things must 
have such a relation to them as any object must have to the 
meshes of the net in which it is to be caught. Or to speak 
plainly, every appearance presupposes as the necessary con- 
dition of its appearing a real being in the inner relations of 
which lie the grounds that determine the form of its appear- 
ance. From the analysis of the forms of intuition under 
which our perception immediately apprehends its objects, we 
may easily attain the conviction that these forms do not, in 
the shape in which they are familiar to us, admit of applica- 
tion to things themselves ; but we shall always need to seek, 
in the nature of things and in their true mutual connections, 
the conditions which admit of our apprehending them under 
those forms. Thus it may be doubtful whether space and 
time do not exist as space and time solely in that ideating 
activity which can grasp a manifold in one act of appre- 
hension ; but we cannot doubt that, if this is so, that which 
exists must itself be subject to an order neither spatial nor 
temporal, which acting upon us is by us translated into the 
form of spatial and temporal order. It is certain that the 
sensation which any object or event causes in us is not exactly 
like its cause ; but it is equally certain that we shall regard 
two objects or events as exactly like, similar, or different, if 
the impressions they make upon us are exactly alike, similar, 
or different, and we shall estimate their degree of relation- 
ship by the amount of difference between their impressions. 
Thus we inevitably regard the apparent existence and event3 



which we perceive as being proportional throughout to real 
existence and real events which, belonging to or occurring 
between things themselves, by no means exclude concepts of 
truth and order. The attempt to renounce this supposition 
would produce not any increase of precision but fruitless and 
self-contradictory agony of thought. 

But if appearance indicates existence, it yet indicates only 
formal relations of existence and their changes ; the nature of 
the things which exist and act under these relations remains 
inscrutable. And just because the nature of things remains 
unknown, we are also unable to comprehend the occurrence of 
action and reaction between them as a result of their nature ; 
it is only appearance, which is the matter of experience, 
that can lead us to divine this true action and reaction. 
Thus philosophy takes the same course that we have already 
seen taken by the natural sciences ; it begins with the 
individual enigmatical and contradictory phsenomena which 
experience offers, and guided by the general laws of thought 
seeks to ascertain the form of real existence and occurrence 
which, in order to explain wliat is strange and contradictory 
in facts, must be supposed to underlie these as their efficient 
cause. It must be admitted that some admirable results 
may be attained by this Eealism, which contents itself with 
tracing back actual facts of appearance to facts of existence 
which must necessarily be assumed, even when its action 
is wholly subject to this limitation ; not only may it 
succeed in throwing light upon the efficient connections 
in particular coherent groups of phsenomena, but a con- 
sideration of the knowledge attained may also lead it to a 
view of that which as true reality lies at the foundation of 
the whole phaenomenal world. But even this final result will 
retain the character of mere fact, and thus Realism will always 
arouse the opposition of that idealistic bias of the human soul, 
which recognises real existence not in facts which only are 
because they are, or because they must be assumed in con- 
sequence of the existence of something else, but only in such 
a fact as certifies by the worth of the thought which it 



represents, its vocation, its right, and its capacity to appear as 
the apex and crown of reality, as the final datum and the 
highest constructive principle. 

§ 8. Idealism opposes to the realistic acknowledgment of the 
unknowable nature of things the bold assertion that Thought 
and Existence are identical. In saying this, it does not 
necessarily mean (what, however, it is occasionally audacious 
enough to assert) that human cognition will some time succeed 
in penetrating by thought the existence of all things, and 
recreating it in idea ; for the narrow limits of our finite 
nature which hinder this extension of real insight are but 
too obvious. It means that for a cognition free from these 
limitations things would no longer be insoluble realities, they 
would no longer be as unapproachable and incomprehensible 
for thought, as for instance light is for the ear or sound for 
the eye ; rather thought would recognise them as realized 
ideas, thus recognising itself in them. So this proposition, 
understood as not properly an assertion concerning the relation 
of knowledge to its object, but much rather as a conviction 
concerning the nature of existence in itself, palpably gives to 
the existence or nature of things a different meaning from that 
given to it by common opinion. For a man of ordinary intel- 
ligence thinks he immediately knows that matter or content 
by which a thing as such or such is distinguished as difi^erent 
from some second thing — knows it partly in the impression 
upon the senses, and partly in ideas which are directly con- 
nected with the impression and hold together its constituent 
parts. And it seems to him all the more difficult to see how 
it can happen that this content should have the power of 
meeting him as something existing, independent, tangible, as a 
Thing in short ; he who should discover the secret spring by 
which the thinkable to t'l of existing objects is endowed with 
the extension, body, resistance and elasticity of Thinghood, 
would seem to unsophisticated thought to have found the real 
and very nature of things, not that which distinguishes one 
thing from another, but that in which they are all alike, the 
essence of their existence, reality itself. Now can Idealism 




maintain that it can solve this problem ? Certainly not to 
any greater extent than Eealism, in its own view, is capable 
of; in what exactly consists the existence of things, what is 
meant by their being connected with one another, finally 
how it comes about that anything results from these. con- 
nections — all this is as impenetrable to Idealism as to its 
opponent. Perhaps — to admit the utmost that we may — it may 
also succeed in proving that there exists — though it does not 
know how — a connection in accordance with which if there 
exist (in some incomprehensible way) a being of such and 
such a description, there must in an equally incomprehensible 
way exist such and such change and activity, and no other ; but 
even if we admit this. Idealism would only have penetrated 
the meaning and the intelligible connection of the individual 
determinations which under the name of being we grasped 
together into one whole : how this inner connection of 
reality could le would still remain wholly uncoraprehended. — 
Yet to do all this was just what was promised by the bold and 
striking expression given to the proposition which made 
being identical with thinking ; it led one to expect that just 
that by which being as being seemed at first to be irrecon- 
cilably differentiated from thinking or from being thought, 
would finally be presented as a vanishing distinction, and that 
this being would be altogether resolved into thoughts. And 
now it seems that of the two ideas which we regard as 
blending to produce existence, the ideas of the to rl and 
of its existence. Idealism leaves that of existence just as 
unexplained as it was before. 

But just as no end was gained by the reference to being 
in the proposition to which we have alluded, even so is it 
beside the point to speak of thought as that with which it 
should be identical ; as long, at least, as this name distinctly 
signifies activity of the mental life as distinguished from other 
activities. And yet this seems to be what is meant, for even 
the Idealist does not allow that sensuous intuition and 
perception can grasp the truth of things; he abandons both 
these, and reserves to thought, as a special and higher activity, 



the privilege of searching out real existence, behind the illusions 
with which sensuous intuition and perception surround us. 
But his cvptctation rests upon a widespread error. Men are 
universally much disposed to regard as a product of thought 
anything for which language has furnished a name, although 
what thought has contributed to the building up of the content 
which it indicates may be very little, and sometimes nothing 
whatever. As long as we are considering sensuous impressions, 
we are indeed soon convinced that no skill of logical operations 
can supply the place of sound or colour to him who is blind / 
or deaf ; that thus for instance blue or sweet are not concepts 
which we think, but impressions which we experience, and 
their names merely linguistic signs which remind us of a 
content for which all that thought does is, at the outside, to ^ 
indicate its dependent nature by the adjectival form which it 
gives to it. But in the more general concepts which are 
everywhere interwoven with our perceptions and give them 
form and stability — in the ideas of Being, of Becoming, of 
Action, and of every Connection which subsists between any 
two things — we feel more assured of finding the genuine 
•products of thought, and of thought alone. And yet the 
meaning of being cannot by any interpretative activity of 
thought be made intelligible to him wlio does not know 
immediately what it means ; all that thought can do is by 
proceeding analytically and removing all accessory ideas which 
are not signified to teach us to distinguish that meaning of the 
word which can only be grasped by immediate intuition. No 
one will ever invent a definition of Becoming which does not 
contain (under some other name) as its most essential con- 
stituent the idea of passing from one to another, or of some- 
thing happening ; thought can contribute to the building up 
of this concept only by illustration of the two points between 
which the nameable but unanalysable enigma of transition takes 
place. And the concept of Action is equally incapable of being 
approached by any logical operations. It is easy to fancy 
that one has traced it back to the more abstract concept of 
tliat which conditions — although here it would be questionable 
VOL. n. z 


whether the converse reduction might not be more correct; 
but supposing we have done so much, can we then analyse 
further in thought the real meaning of the idea of conditioning? 
Apparently perhaps we may, but as a matter of fact we 
certainly cannot ; for in the last resort all that thinking does 
is to denote by this or that name the idea of a necessary 
inner connection between different occurrences, which con- 
nection it cannot by its own activity produce. 

And here it will be objected that I lay useless stress upon 
that which is self-evident ; since it is of course necessary for 
thought, as the activity which connects and combines, to pre- 
suppose as given from elsewhere the elements which are to 
be connected and combined. My real object has only been 
to make this conviction very vivid for a moment, and to 
deduce the consequences which it involves. For with a little 
attention one will soon be convinced that these elements, 
which thought has thus to take up as coming from elsewhere, 
comprise nothing less than the whole sum of that knowledge 
of real existence and occurrence which was formerly ascribed 
to thought as its own possession. Thought is everywhere 
but a mediating activity moving hither and thither, bringing 
into connection the original intuitions of external and internal 
perception, which are predetermined by fundamental ideas and 
laws the origin of which cannot be shown ; it develops special 
and properly logical forms, peculiar to itself, only in the effort 
to apply the idea of truth (which it finds in us) to the scattered 
multiplicity of perceptions, and of the consequences developed 
from them. Hence nothing seems less justifiable than the 
assertion that this Thinking is identical with Being, and that 
Being can be resolved into it without leaving any residuum ; 
on the contrary, everywhere in the flux of thought there 
remain quite insoluble those individual nuclei which represent 
the several aspects of that important content which we 
designate by the name of Being. It would be more simple 
and more true to say that Being contemplates itself; we — since 
we exist — feel, perceive, experience, or know well enough what 
it is to exist ; we — since we act — know well enough what v;e 




ean (altliougli it is unspeakable) when we talk not only of a 
temporal succession of phsenomena, but also of the one beinfr 
conditioned by the other. And in this sense all the world 
has known from the beginning what is the import of Being or 
Reality, for all the world has lived the meaning of these 
words ; but if it has always been difficult or impossible to 
express by determinations of thought that which men have so \ 
plainly experienced in their lives, philosophy has not succeeded / 
in removing the need for such expression ; aU she has done has ' v 
been to find names for that which men experience ; and since 
it is in a world of names that she lives and moves and has 
her being, she has sometimes had less vivid experience than 
others of that which is the object of her efforts. 

It will be demanded on the part of Idealism that, as far as 
all such scruples are concerned, this question should at last 
be allowed to rest ; it is admitted that we do not know how 
things can be and act, but their nature is said to consist, not 
in their reality, but in what they are and what they do. Now 
is this content of things really more accessible to thought ? 
Whatever else thought may be, it is an activity of tlie mind ; 
or if not this, it is at any rate a changing succession of states 
which mind experiences. Now, how can a succession of states { 
copy and reproduce anything except states ? Can they ' 
represent the nature that experiences the states which are 
reproduced ? They can only do this if we go still further in 
our assumptions, and regard, not only what things are, but 
what they experience, as their innermost nature, and as that real 
existence which philosophy seeks. And thus, by a path the 
several stages of which we must here refrain from describ- 
ing. Idealism would reach the admission that in truth it 
neither knows how things are nor what they are, but that it 
does know what they signify, and that this, their real exist- 
ence, is immediately cognisable. What everything is in itself, 
what its nature is by which it exists and is capable of 
making its efficiency felt and of being different from other 
things, this may remain for ever inaccessible to thought. 
But with regard to the forms of that to which they are 



destined, the forms of their changes, development, activity, 
and of their several contributions to the sum of reality — 
in all these relations things are comprehensible to thought, 
and are comparable among themselves; the essential sig- 
nificance of each, as far as it consists in these, is in itself 
susceptible of exhaustive expression in thought, whether or 
not we men are capable of discovering the thought which does 
express it. Thus Idealism, like Eealism, comes to acknowledge 
that it is limited to a cognition of what happens in and 
between things that remain unknown ; but it believes that in 
knowing the import of what thus happens it possesses all 
essential truth ; that it is only for the realization of this truth 
that things exist. 

Eeligious belief in understanding the world as a divine 
creation has always cherished and expressed the same convic- 
tion in another way. It denies just as vigorously as philoso- 
phic Idealism that there is in things a nature (or any part of 
their nature) which they have of themselves. All that they 
are, they are by the will and intention of God ; the most 
essential part of their nature consists in what God meant or 
willed that they should be, in their significance in the unity 
of the cosmic plan. Eeligious belief did not maintain that it 
could penetrate the plan of this unity, but in its representa- 
tion of God were contained, as it were, centres of light which 
illuminated each other, and also cast enlightening rays upon 
the created world. The strict order of its phaenomena was 
regarded as in fitting correspondence with the immutability and 
justice of the Creator, its beauty with the infinite fulness of 
His blessed nature, the order of events in the moral world 
with His holiness. To trace back all the particulars of reality 
to these creative forces in God was neither attempted nor 
regarded as possible ; it was sufficient to believe in their 
truth on the wliole, unmoved by the apparent contradiction 
of many perceptions, and, as regards particulars, to be ever 
drawing afresh from a selection of favoured phaenomena the 
living feeling of their universal and governing efficacy. 

Philosophic Idealism tried to outbid this faith in two 



Irections. It first took offence at the unconcerned way in 
which religion spoke of a personal God, and regarded Him as 
creuting things out of nothing, and then entering into a rela- 
tion of reciprocal action with these realities that had been 
manufactured out of nothing: the metaphysics of all these 
processes needed to be found and explained. But none of the 
attempts to find and explain them (which we shall have to 
consider more particularly at a later stage) attained its end ; 
since they were destitute of all ideas concerning the relation 
of God to the world (ideas which religious belief had framed 
anthropomorphically), they have left as their only result the 
assertion (couched for the most part in artificially obscure 
forms of expression) that there is a single supreme Idea that 
penetrates all the phsenomena of reality and gives them form 
and order; but they do not say how it does this. And just 
because it was at most the meaning of the universe and not 
the origin of its reality which was accessible to Idealism, 
everything that might remind men of this problem seemed to 
fall out of its consideration. God was no longer spoken of, for 
this name signifies nothing without the predicates of real and 
living power and efficiency ; it was only the Idea that could 
be spoken of, the content of which was supposed, in some 
incomprehensible way or other, to really constitute the nature 
and significance of the world. But the idealists hoped to be 
able to express the whole content of this Idea completely and 
systematically in thought, and by this second performance to 
far surpass religious belief, which only knew in a general way 
that divine purpose which in particulars was inscrutable. 

Even this promise could only be fulfilled by breaking off 
from the nature of the thing that which remained incompre- 
hensible to thought. For in fact the living forces which had 
been beheld by faith in God showed themselves as inaccessible 
to thought as the sensuous impressions which occur in per- 
ception ; for them, too, we invent names ; and their content, too, 
is known to us through living experience, and not through 
thought. What is good and evil remains just as incapable of 
being reached by mere thought as what is blue or sweet ; it 



is only when we have learnt by immediate feeling the pre- 
sence of worth and of unworth in the world and the gravity 
of the difference between them that our thought is able, from 
the content thus experienced, to develop signs which subse- 
quently enable us to bring any particular case under the one 
or the other of those two universal intuitions. Can one find in 
concepts the real living nerve of righteousness ? Much may 
be said of compensations, of the correspondence between con- 
ditions originated and endured, of the return of good and ill 
to him who caused them ; but what movement of thought 
explains the interest which we feel in these forms of occur- 
rence when, and only when, they indicate what we call a retri- 
bution ? Are love and hatred thinkable ? Can their nature 
be exhausted in concepts ? In whatever combination of 
duality to unity, or whatever division of that which might be 
one, their significance may be found, the expression of that 
combination or unity will never do anything but state an 
enigma. For an enigma is the specification of signs which do 
not of themselves set forth the whole living content to which 
they relate, this having to be guessed because it is not plainly 
contained in them. Now not only did philosophy hope that 
it could reproduce in thought all the living content which 
was possessed by faith in a personal God, but it imagined 
that it was applying a process of ennobling clarification 
to Him who is more than anything that can be called an 
Idea, when from the dimness of that which is experienced by 
the whole heart and the whole soul, it raised Him to the 
dignity of a concept capable of being an object of pure 

Both the natural and the moral world received this treat- 
ment, which traced back the real content of all things and 
events to what was formal in their mode of appearance, and 
regarded the things and events themselves as merely destined 
to realize these forms. The creatures of Nature existed merely 
in order to take their place in a classification, and to provide 
the logical degrees of universal, particular, and individual 
with an abundance of phoenomena ; their living activities and 


reciprocal action took place in order to celebrate the mys- 
teries of difference, of contradiction, of polar opposition, and 
of unity ; the whole course of Nature was destined to represent 
a rhythm, in the movements of which affirmation, negation, 
and mutual limitation alternated with one another. Con- 
sideration of the spiritual world sometimes in a kind of 
realistic fit regarded thought and all spiritual life as merely 
the highest form assumed by those unfathomable powers of' 
affirmation and negation, opposition and its removal ; sometimes 
in a more idealistic mood it regarded thought as the real 
nature and goal of all things, and those forms of mere blind 
being and occurrence as imperfect preludes. But it never 
succeeded in establishing thought as what is most essential in 
mind, and thinking about thought, the pure self-reflection of 
logical activity, as what is highest in thought. The existence 
and the worth of the moral world were indeed not forgotten ; 
but even that which ought to he had to submit to this reduction 
to form ; it seemed as though it only ought to he to the 
extent to which it reproduced in the forms of its realization 
those much-esteemed relations which were held to be the real 
nature of being. 

I break off in the midst of an enumeration of these errors. 
This short sketch has been partial, leaving much unmentioned 
which within the philosophic school itself is regarded as 
weighty and important, and laying stress only upon what 
could serve as an introduction to the end aimed at by our 
present inquiry. Philosophy is not at present exclusively 
ruled by the false Idealism with which we have just been 
confronted, nor is it impossible to avoid the errors which 
deform it ; but this is not the place for developing the convic- 
tion which we wish to maintain. Here we can only give it 
provisional expression, and affirm that the nature of things 
does not consist in thoughts, and that thinking is not able to 
grasp it ; yet perhaps the whole mind experiences in other 
forms of its action and passion the essential meaning of all 
being and action, thought subsequently serving it as an 
instrument by which that which is thus experienced is 



brought into the connection which its nature requires, and is 
experienced in more intensity in proportion as the mind is 
master of this connection. The errors which stand opposed 
to this view are very old. It was a long time before living 
fancy recognised in thought the bridle which guides its course 
steadily, surely, and truly ; perhaps it will be as long again 
before men see that the bridle cannot originate the motion 
which it should guide. The shadow of antiquity, its mischievous 
over-estimation of reason, still lies upon us, and prevents our 
seeing, either in the real or in the ideal, what it is that makes 
.^ both something more than reason. 



Pleasure and the Means to Pleasure — The PatriarcTiate — The Adventures of the 
Heroes— The Liberal Culture of Antiquity — Slavery — The Growth and 
Preponderance of the Industrial Classes — Economic Character of the 
Present Time, and its Causes and Effects — The Modern Forms of Labour 
and their Social Consecjutncee. 

§ 1. IVTATUEE with its unchanging order, and Society 
-^ ^ with the variability of its internal relations, 
have from the beginning been spread out before men as 
the great fields of all activity. It was need — partly the 
urgent need of self-preservation, partly the more calm but 
not less powerful need of mental satisfaction — which in the 
one field as in the other gave birth to the first action along v 
with the first reflection, and did not permit the deferring of y. 
reaction until the completion of all science. Men were 
obliged to begin to work upon things and to use or construct 
the relations of human society, while their store of cognitions 
was as yet incomplete ; but the tentative effort enriched ^ 
scientific knowledge by its results, and the increase of know- 
ledge enlarged the sphere of men's powers and the spirit of ) 
enterprise. Thus science and life were developed in constant 
action and reaction. It was only while thus occupied with 
the whole wealth of experience, that knowledge developed by 
degrees all the multiplicity of its modes of investigating, 
analysing, and combining ; it was only through the wide 
extension of its contact with the most varied kinds of objects 
that it discovered its own instruments, and learned to com- 
prehend its tasks (which were presented to it at first in 
isolation) in that connection which as perfected science it 
ultimately seeks to reflect in the form of a systematic com.- f 
bination of all truth. However attractive the history of this 



development may be, we must renounce any more detailed 
consideration of it than has been given in the brief survey 
which we have just concluded. Since the general purpose of 
our reflections has regard to the totality of human de- 
velopment, we have no further space for the representation 
of the inner regularity and beauty with which the edifice of 
science — a self-sufficing whole — grows up from its own 
principles and becomes articulated ; our attention is due in 
greater measure to the other division of this reciprocal action 
between knowledge and life — that is, to the fertilizing stimulus 
, which life itself, the customs of commerce, the spirit of social 
) institutions, and the enjoyment of existence, receive from the 
I gradual development of the world of thought. 

Human life being dependent upon Nature for its 
(jp continuance, men had first of all to attend to the business of 
self-preservation by satisfying external needs, in order that 
they might then be at liberty to devote themselves to their 
real vocation in enjoyment of beauty, delight in holiness, and 
practice of what is right. Now a consideration of the efforts 
which have been directed to the production and perfecting, 
the administration and diffusion of material goods might 
easily allure us into a wide and brilliant region of scientific 
development which touches life at innumerable points — might 
allure us, that is, to the history of the Natural Sciences. 
Yet we forbear a systematic exploration of this region. For 
why attempt to repeat in a narrow and insufficient compass 
what has already been given in detail in innumerable delinea- 
tions ? The triumphs of human sagacity in the investigation 
of the celestial regions and the remote parts of the earth, in 
the explanation of the chemical transformations of bodies and 
of the processes of life, in determining the conditions of action 
of all forces, and analysing composite forces into their 
elements — all these are in our times favourite subjects of 
triumphant exposition and eager attention ; lauded in a 
thousand ways, it is not they themselves but the blessing that 
they have conferred on human life which stands in need of 
mention. And in saying that this needs mention, I do not 



mean that it would be worth while to repeat the enumeration 
of those countless individual benefits, concerning which (after 
the numerous accounts that have been given) we now know 
to what principles of natural science and to what inventive 
application of those principles they are due. Let us suppose 
the place which I here leave vacant to be filled by one of those 
easily obtainable descriptions which show us how the progress 
of knowledge of Nature, lingering at first, has in modern times, 
advancing with greatly accelerated speed, given new develop- 
ments to life — how we have learnt to overcome innumerable 
obstacles which Nature opposes to human activity — and how 
increased insight into the connection between different effects 
in Nature has put us in a position to produce with ease, from 
despised material which in former times was thrown away as 
refuse, instruments of enjoyment which in those times were 
either not known, or could only be procured with difficulty 
from some few sources which Nature voluntarily set at man's 
disposal. Having supposed, then, that this picture of an 
increasing dominion of Mind over Nature stands clearly before 
our eyes, in what is it that the blessing of this dombaion 
consists ? And in asking this question we refer not only to 
the fact of dominion, but also to the advantage which increased 
power over Nature affords for the attainment of that which is 
the special destiny of man. 

Unless I am mistaken, the answers to this question will 
not be harmonious. In moments of deliberation, in which we 
survey with a comprehensive glance th'ese achievements of 
human intelligence, the undeniable advance which they show 
may rejoice us with the feeling of satisfaction which naturally 
springs from every increase in efficient strength. But if 
looking at life as a whole we seek there the useful results of 
this progress, it may seem doubtful whether this greater 
dominion over Nature of which we boast, does not result for 
us in a greater dependence upon that power over which we 
are continually victorious. For every fresh commodity that 
we produce immediately becomes a necessity, and entangles us 
in new efforts — on the part of the community to produce and 




exhibit it, and on the part of the individual to obtain it. 
Every new discovery of science that has splendidly abridged 
laborious modes of attaining some definite end, has forthwith 
exhibited as necessary a multitude of new ends which the 
new resources tempted men to aim at. Hence though much 
labour has certainly been materially simplified, as science 
taught nieu better combinations of the means by which all 
effects are produced, it is plain that, taking life altogether, 
labour instead of becoming gradually less has become greater. 
The old complaint that so large a part of men's time and 
strength must be sacrificed to the mere maintenance and 
securing of existence, is not allayed but sharpened ; ever more 
and more room is taken up, in our short span of life, by the 
preparations and equipment required for life itself ; the sunny 
strip of leisure seems ever to grow narrower and further away 
on our horizon — the leisure in which, in quiet communion 
with self or cheerful intercourse with others, we hope to enjoy 
the final net result of so much effort — a result worthy of our 
human nature. Thus it seems as though the enlarged 
possibility of satisfying a multitude of wants, taken in con- 
junction with the amount of work necessary for the realization 
of this possibility, did not make us happier on the whole than 
men were in the times when those wants, the means of their 
satisfaction and the labour required for this, were all alike 

But equally old with this complaint is the rejoinder that it 
is erroneous to try and divide labour and enjoyment by a 
sharp boundary line, as if they were as opposite as com- 
modities and the prices which are paid for them ; not only 
the possession of the enjoyment, but also the receptivity for 
it, is given to leisure as the result of what has been experienced 
and gone through in labour; labour is itself a source of 
enjoyment, and not merely the road thereto. We do not 
need to draw out in detail the universal truth of this remark ; 
we have already had frequent occasion to consider how little 
the spiritual content of life in an unlaborious state of Nature, 
and the enjoyments of leisure in such a state can be compared 


to those with which culture rewards the exertions of a life's 
hard work. The human soul is not like a plant which 
requires only that the universal conditions of its existence 
should be favourable in order to exhibit in succession the 
several beauties of its cycle of development — bud, blossom, 
and fruit ; it is only the ever-changing struggle for external 
necessities that stimulates us to acquire knowledge, that 
furnishes our leisure with subjects for reflection, and at the 
same time deepens the value which we set upon those social 
relations of which natural order lays the foundations — deepen- 
ing it until it becomes that refined moral feeling which finds > 
the most stirring interest of life and the most elevated enjoy- \ 
ment in the discussion of varied views of life, and in j 
emerging victorious from its moral conflicts. We desire 
f^ven for the individuals who are the inheritors of some long- 
establislied civilisation, the education which only life can give; ik^ 
the traditional ideals of all that is good and beautiful, although 
even in tradition itself they have long been bound up with 
representations of those definite relations of life in which they 
are to be realized, yet seem to stir the soul vaguely, hovering 
before it formlessly and without being seriously apprehended, 
until incessant contact with the hindrances of real life and 
with the claims of others reveals the full significance of their 
content — the content that is of the traditional ideals — and 
makes the contemplation and realization of them a life-work 
which is self-sufficing and self-rewarding. Without this 
complication and intensifying of stimulations and hindrances 
which culture brings with it, the isolated experiences and 
activities of men would hardly have produced even an in- 
definite sense of something really worthy. Thoroughgoing, 
however, as the superiority of culture to a state of Nature is 
in a general way, yet it is not equally indubitable that its 
internal progress involves in itself a continuous heightening of 
the enjoyments of life, and that there is not a point beyond which 
the increase of labour of all kinds leads men in living and 
in maintaining life to lose sight of the ends of life. At all 
events, in all periods of many-sided civilisation there seems 






to remain a longing after the simpler conditions of past times — 
a proof that it is not easy for men to bring the results of 
their own progress into harmony with the wishes which they 
call upon life to fulfil. 

In the patriarchal state which the Old Testament writings 
describe, there is presented to Christians, as it were a com- 
pendium of simple and noble life, which, glorified by the 
idealizing power of distance and of poetic representation, may 
well seem to this retrospective longing to be an exemplar of life. 
Certainly traditions of earlier civilisations and the possibility 
of contact with the developed culture of neighbouring countries 
was, even so early as this, at the foundation of that which 
interests us in the patriarchal life ; this life being not so wholly 
self-dependent as it seems in the Scriptural picture, where it 
is presented in strong relief detached from its surroundings. 
But external relations were still so slack that friendly 
obscurity veiled the surrounding regions, and all the problems 
and all the enjoyment of life remained concentrated within a 
narrow circle that could be taken in at a glance. Men's 
wants were provided for by a labour that was light, or in 
which there was as yet little complication and little division 
of employments — labour that consisted chiefly in the nn- 
irksome tendance of living creatures ; if want occurred it was 
regarded rather as the disfavour of Nature than as the result 
of social evils. As the division of labour had not yet 
taken place, life had not yet the aspect of an uncertain and 
ingenious struggle for existence; careers were marked out 
upon which each entered with a regularity as great as that 
with which Nature develops corporeal life; the differences 
of social consideration which inevitably appear at an early 
stage were not yet combined with such intellectual and 
philosophic differences as might make one man's interests 
in life unintelligible for another; connected chiefly with 
family relations, they were yet important enough to introduce 
into life, instead of an enervating equality of claims, a variety 
of reciprocal moral obligations which were profoundly felt. 
There were united in the head of the tribe all those functions 


of work and action which give worth to human life ; father i 
and master, law-giver and judge, prince and priest, all in one, \\ 
he experienced in himself the full and undiminished enjoy- 'i 
ment of that mental power which lifts man above all i 
Nature, and set before his people this unity of life in visible 
embodiment. If to all this we add that to the religious belief 
of this time and of these tribes their connection with God 
was an experience that was ever being renewed, we may well 
admit that we find in the patriarchal period a concentration 
and intensifying of consciousness and of life whicli prevented 
the attention of individuals from passing over unobserved 
any attainable happiness or any recognised duty. 

Doubtless this form of life could not be maintained for 
ever in its completeness ; the greater concentration of popula- 
tion and the transition to stationary life developed new needs 
and required new kinds of labour, which led to different 
social arrangements ; also we would not conceal from ourselves 
that in reality the spiritual content of the patriarchal life •\\ 
must have been poorer than it appears in the poetic represen- H 
tation whicli emphasizes its bright parts and says nothing of ^ 
the duller intervals that come between. Certainly the moral 
significance of all individual relations of life was sounded to 
its depths and reflected upon with remarkable refinement of 
feeling, but the relations themselves were too simple to produce 
that complex and varied wealth of thought, in the possession 
of which advanced civilisation always feels in the end that it is 
superior to those simple states of society which in other 
respects are envied. But the patriarchal form of life, the 
self-centred completeness and isolation of the family and the 
home which, being self-dependent to an extreme degree, pro- 
vides for all its own necessary wants, and is able in its own 
little circle to find a solution of all essential problems — this 
form of life must always be regarded by us as the type to 
which we must seek to revert, in opposition to that unattached 
condition that in a more complicated state of society makes 
the individual feel like a lost atom, tossed hither and thither 
by the wholly incomprehensible forces of a great all-embracing 




external world. Let us now see whether increasing civilisa- 
tion has brought with it the conditions of an inner enrichment 
of this form of life or only causes of its disintegration. 

8 2. To reap without having sown is naturally man's 
original mode of existence. When the simplest appro- 
priation of natural products no longer sufficed, the labour that 
tends, transforms, and produces, with all the patience, self- 
denial, and steadiness which it requires, long continued to be 
held in contempt as compared with the destructive activity 
which in the chase, in robbery, and in war took possession of 
finished products capable of ministering to human enjoyment. 
The period of Life according to Nature was succeeded by the 
Heroic Age — an age in which men's mode of life was an 
imitation of that of beasts of prey, from the weakness of 
admiring which the human mind will never be wholly free. 
For, indeed, the struggle in which one's own existence is 
staked for speedy gain, and one's whole nature is roused to 
all the activity of which it is capable, not only swells the con- 
sciousness of the combatant with proud and passionate excite- 
ment, but offers to imitative poesy much more picturesque and 
intelligible images than the quiet industry which transforms 
a peaceful society merely by conquering the inertia of intract- 
able objects. The ambition of emulating the lion or the eagle 
developed indeed all the natural beauty of the human race, 
and all those traits of capricious magnanimity and uncertain 
generosity which, combined with just as inexplicable fits of 
savagery, makes the "king of beasts" such an attractive object of 
contemplation to us ; but human capacities were not moulded 
by this kind of life for their own special ^nd appropriate 
work. At all times this mode of thought — this emulation of 
the beasts — has been powerful enough ; in the most remote 
antiquity it shows itself openly in robbery by land and sea ; 
sword and lance were to the Greek Klephthen as plough, sickle, 
and wine- press with which to sow and reap and press the wine 
from the cluster; the Eomans, in their legends, claimed 
robbers as their ancestors ; and to the Germanic nations it 
Beenied unworthy to seek by labour for that which might be 



gained by the sword; the highway robber of the Middle » 
Ages, and the runaway vassal, acted from the same feel- 
ing. All of them were right in so far as this, that labour 
is apt to enslave the mind when it requires exclusive 
occupation with objects to the peculiarities of which the 
labourer must accommodate himself, by narrowing his circle 
of thought to but few trains of ideas; on the one hand it 
destroys receptivity for the various enjoyments of life, and on 
the other hand may paralyze the elasticity of his powers, 
which are naturally inclined to exercise themselves upon 
reality in various ways. But they forgot that, notwithstanding 
all this, it is only labour which can develop a coherent human 
character, and that the unrestrained exercise of strength 
which they thought so splendid is only superior to the savage- 
ness of wild beasts when it lays aside that character of 
adventure which employs strength only for the sake of sub- 
jective enjoyment, and takes on the character of protective 
service, which applies the same powers for the defence of V 
interests that are worthy in themselves, doing this under ' 
a sense of obligation. 

The ends of human life, and the means of attaining them, j^ 
were thought over by the Greeks more eagerly than by other 
nations. In the world of the Homeric poems there appears a 
dark stratum of labouring bondmen as the foundation upon 
which rests the serene and gracious happiness of the nobles ; 
but either there is as yet too little difference of needs and of > 
cultivation to embitter this contrast, or else tradition is so 
obscure that it does not make plain to us the sharpness of the ) 
contrast. Of Labour, which had not yet split up into a 
number of branches dependent upon one another, it was 
therefore still easy to take a comprehensive view, and it was 
regarded with honour, especially in as far as it stimulated the 
early-dcA eloped artistic sense of the people, not supplying a -^ 
foreign d^!mand, but serving to satisfy the needs of a great and 
self-sufficing domestic economy. When the brilliant develop- 
ment of mental life in Greece began, these relations gradually 
changed. In proportion as there was an increase in the 

VOL. II. 2 A 


significance and excellence of the enjoyment which advancing 

sulture promised to him who had time for it, men sought to 

"4i shorten the labour necessary for supplying the needs of life ; 

^ human life properly so called had its beginning in leisure, and 

. to learn how to occupy and enjoy leisure in a way worthy of 

humanity was the business of Greek education, which, in 

: order to attain this end, not only did not shun the labour of 

1 severe and long-continued discipline, but even undertook it 

' with eagerness. 

I will not here inquire whether the symmetrical develop- 
ment and exercise of all the bodily and mental powers with 
which Nature has endowed us — in other words, whether being 
educated to the perfection of human kind — is in reality the 
whole destiny of man. But it is certainly correct to hold that 
the essential difference between the maxims of this antique 
art of education and of that of modern days, consists in this, 
that in the education of the ancients the cultivation and per- 
fection of skill were esteemed more highly than the labour to 
which the skill was applied, and the products of that labour, 
w^ Every individual was to be formed into a perfect specimen of 
( his race, the race itself having nothing to do but to exist and 
^ rejoice in its capacities of enjoyment. Education fulfilled 
its task in producing the attitude of perfect humanity — 
that reposeful and plastic stamp of character which hence- 
forward in all the occurrences of life with which it meets or 
by which it allows itself to be reached, maintains an un- 
changed mien, and employs its skill to raise itself to inde- 
pendence of material things. To this many-sided and 
self-contained development the spirit of modern education is 
certainly less disposed ; it favours more than is right an exten- 
sive acquaintance with facts as compared with general cognitive 
ability, productive and monotonous labour as compared with 
the free exercise of all man's powers, the narrowness of efforts 
restricted to a definite occupation as compared with interest 
in all human relations. Yet there is at the bottom of all 
these errors one characteristic which is not to be despised — 
the conviction that man's destiny is, not to present a perfect 





embodiment of all the beauty of his kind, but to develop into 
an unique individual — a development which cannot be attained 
by aimless exercise, however splendid, of the capabilities 
common to all, but only by devoting these in earnest labour 
to the accomplishment of some individual life-work. Only in 
such voluntary devotion of the powers bestowed by Nature 
and developed by education, to the laborious pursuit of some 
definite end can the individual win as his personal property 
the endowments of the race, developing them, in a course of 
evolution which extends through life, to an individuality in 
virtue of which he becomes something more than a perfect 
exemplification of a general concept. 

We by no means lose sight of the fact that the active 
political feeling and the love of art of the Greek nation and 
its receptivity for science provided very worthy occupation for 
leisure time, and that in the eager and steady pursuit of great 
enterprises, or the constant but more calm interest taken in 
public business, life found a sufficing content and vocation. 
But the contempt which was felt for common, rough, hard 
work, and the low estimation, extending even to artists, in 
which all handicrafts were held, did not fail to exercise an 
injurious influence. Much as men laboured, there was not 
formed in any degree worth mentioning that_love of work 
which is jealous of the honour of its handicraft, which is able 
to find sufficient sources of mental satisfaction within the 
narrow limits of a monotonous occupation, which delights in 
colouring the whole of life with the ways of thought peculiar 
to its calling, and loves to glorify its mental gain in song. 
This was chiefly the reason why there was lacking in public 
life that fidelity to duty and conscientiousness bordering on 
rigidity, which is more surely produced by the steady exercise >. / 
of a modest calling than by the pride of a culture which can 
take any point of view, and has no moral obligation to take 
one rather than another. Oiilj where morality requires 
fidelity in small things can great things be secure. The new 
culture estranged even family life from the beautiful and 
simple patterns of the Homeric age. For the more exclusively 



that culture was directed to political interests and scientific 

^ occupations, the further wer.j women from keeping up with 
it and participating in it. The society of ancient^Greece was 
exclusively masculine. It was only in assemblies of men that 
there was the pulsation of that which we call ancient life ; the 
women lived in domestic seclusion, relieved from burdensome 
supervision in Sparta only, and even there they did not gain 
much from that life of the time in which they were allowed 
to share. The absence of community of labour entailed also 
absence of the feeling of equal human rights ; and of the gain 
which woman's mind can contribute to life, little accrued to 
the Greeks. I do not mean that the natural good disposition 
of the people did not afford room for the exercise of all the 
love and tenderness of family feeling which we admire even 
in the beasts; but still in common opinion the female sex 

1 was regarded as the less perfect creation. Plastic art knew 
how to honour its beauty, and poetry its charms ; but we need 
only remember the evil sophisms by which, in the Eumenides, 
jp' I -^schylus (by no means an isolated example) proves of how 
^fy ) much less consequence the mother is than the father, in order 

I to recognise the insulting contempt with which Greek civilisa- 
tion on the whole looked down upon women. It has nowhere 
produced a conception which in seriousness and human worth 

^ is comparable to the noble ideal of the Eoman matron. 

The worldly wisdom of the Indian gives to the man the 
toil and the exciting enjoyment of combat and to the woman 
hard and stupefying labour. The Greeks did not, indeed, make 
such a division ; but not less superficially and mechanically 
did they solve the problem of determining the relation 
between labour and a liberal enjoyment of life, since they 

* solved it by the institution of slavery, and this without 
reference to any natural relation which (as, e.g., difference 
of sex or of race) seems, to the untutored mind at least, 
to furnish some justification of such an arrangement. When 
Hector and Andromache with foreboding sadness lament the 
misery of slavery which awaits the widow and orphan, not 
only are we somewhat reconciled by the melancholy beauty 




of tlie verse, but, moreover, in this heroic age such misery 

appears as an event which naturally occurs in the order of life 

and for which the as yet unfurnished social science of men iir — 

knew no remedy. In the noontide of Greek civilisation, 

a time of political insight and reflection upon the order 

of society, we are revolted by the calm way in which even 

the noblest minds regard slavery as being, as a matter of 

course, a constituent part of their political structure. " When ^ 

the shuttles set to work of themselves," says Aristotle, " then I 

we shall no longer need slaves." It is not the first clause of 
this sentence (which has so often been regarded as an inspired 
anticipation of future machine-labour) which seems to me 
remarkable ; for Aristotle is here giving expression not to 
any anticipation but to a recollection of the dsedalian works 
of art which mythology had extolled. But what is remark- 
able is how wider development (governed by the idea of the 
advantage to be expected) seeks, under a condition of things 
in which slavery exists, to realize the contradictory notion of 
an instrument that acts intelligently and yet remains a mere 
instrument. With much adornment of logical periphrasis it 
veils but slightly the aristocratic egoism, which from the 
self-regard of the favoured individual, from the requirements 
of the refined and liberal culture of one man, infers the rf 
servitude of others as a matter of course. The capabilities 1 
of men are various ; Aristotle distinguishes kingly souls 
which are capable of living nobly and worthily in their 
own strength, from others which can neither set before them- 
selves any intelligent aims in life, nor if they had such could 
find the means of working them out. But the moral duty of v 
careful teaching of the w^eak and compassionate love towards I 
them is not assigned to the strong as a consequence of ) 
their superiority ; the title of " kingly souls " once bestowed 
introduces unperceived into the discussion the claim of 
sovereignty, and the weak become the chattels of the x 

Such a foundation would be even worse than the reality. 
Debt and capture in war were everywhere the most frequent 



causes of slavery. In the first case, the harshness of the 
victor may be understood as a result of the hatred which 
survives the contest, this hatred at any rate being a passionate 
emotion ; and in the second case, a series of deductions which 
are not without some show of justice, easily leads to the 
conclusion that the debtor who is unable to pay off his debt 
should with his capacities of labour be made attachable. 
Then in order to secure the use of these capacities his 
freedom should be restricted, so that finally, in order that 
they may be exchangeable for money, his person should be, not 
indeed immediately vendible but liable to be bound to render 
an equivalent in labour to any third person in return for the 
payment by that person of the sum owed by him. In both 
cases there is wanting the indispensable recognition that the 
dignity of human personality does not allow either of such 
a satisfaction of the victor's passion nor of such a mode 
of carrying out legal claims; but the cold-bloodedness of 
Aristotle's sophistical deduction is without even the feeble 
excuse which may be made for these two historical causes 
of slavery. 

The harshness of theory was only partially mitigated in 
practice. What was the sign by which those kingly souls 
were distinguished from the souls that were born to serve ? 
In the first place of course Hellenic pride regarded those who 
were not Greeks as destined by Nature to slavery ; not be- 
cause they were incapable of being civilised, for even the 
barbarian slaves who had been purchased were educated in 
order to make them more useful, but simply on account of 
their descent. In the endless internal wars, however, inhabit- 
ants of conquered towns were sold as slaves, Greek was 
enslaved to Greek in spite of the condemnatory public opinion 
of those not concerned in the traffic and of occasional laws 
forbidding slavery or requiring that redemption should be 
allowed. For the rest the condition of slaves was various 
enough. Cruelty and delight in torture were not prominent 
national faults of the ancient Greeks, but just as little were 
they a tender-hearted race ; what was most important was 


that their moral principles depended upon the existing con- 
dition of their speculative convictions without any active and 
immediate sense of duty. Athens treated her slaves mildly, 
and it may be that their condition was happier than that of 
the free proletariat of more modern times; Sparta had a 
doctrinaire tendency to inhumanity due to her principles 
of statecraft; the Lacedaemonian youths roaming steathily 
through the forests and plains in order to slay secretly 
the discontented helots, present in the midst of fair Greece a 
dark picture which is genuinely Indian in character. 

Upon this foundation of deep dark shadow there rested 
the brilliant development of liberal culture which has made 
Athens and some other of the Greek states an imperishable ex- 
ample to posterity. The avrdpKeia, the self-sufficingness which 
Greek philosophy so often extolled as the crown of human 
perfection, was by no means to be found in this constitution 
of society, for here the enjoyment of some depended on the 
labour of others. Therefore, however great the mental develop- 
ment might be which was so won (and it can hardly be 
proved that it could have been won in no other way), yet in 
the clear recognition by the common consciousness of the un- 
suitableness of such a foundation for the highest human per- 
fection there is certainly involved a great and perceptible 
advance in human progress — an advance, however, that only 
came slowly and that is not yet complete. 

In the period succeeding that of which we have just 
spoken, the Roman Empire only developed further the per- 
nicious germs referred to. The Italian tribes being actively 
disposed, and not much inclined to the cultivation of a 
variety of industries, were all the more attached to the 
unvarying pursuits of agriculture ; to this kind of labour even 
the Eomans continued for a long time to recur with liking 
and esteem. But the continuous wars in which the growing 
state was involved prevented manufactures from flourishing, 
and gradually led to a habit of taking possession of the 
necessaries of life by force of arms instead of producing them j 
and subsequently led the Eomans to treat the greatest part 




of tlie known world as though it had been a mere store- 
house for themselves, thus dulling their own liking foi 
labour. The way in which the Eoman donjinion spread, not 
through plunderiug expeditions, but with regular admini- 
stration and exaction, easily explains how the gains of con- 
quest led to the disproportioned wealth of a few, whileJ 
the majority became poor. The Eomans had to spend] 
their own strength in the labours of unceasing military 
service, and the home-returned veteran lamented that he 
could no longer find a clod of earth on which to rest his 
head, and that there was not even room for him to work for 
wages, since all labour was in the hands of the multitude 
of slaves taken in war. Society was shaken by repeated 
attempts to regain the lost basis of economic equilibrium by 
means of repartitions of land ; the state was forced to bestow 
in benefactions of food and money the fatal gift of unmerited 
alms (instead of wages gained by labour) upon a multitude 
who soon ceased to demand anything but bread and thea- 
trical representations. Public life certainly continued for a 
long time to have, in the greatness of political activity, an 
interesting and important content ; the strict family morality 
of former times long continued to exercise its educative influ- 
ences ; but rigid legality had in Eome's early days im- 
posed even upon Eomans harsh restrictions of liberty and 
bondage to creditors, and made the power of the father and 
master unlimited, at least in theory. The same disposition, 
not softened by any varied and humane culture of native 
growth, and having once for all missed the true principles of 
morality, led to the extreme of doctrinaire and systematically 
regulated cruelty in the judicial and legal ordering of the 
condition of slaves. 

I 3. Antiquity did not succeed in dividing labour and 
commodities so as to produce universal happiness, or even so 
as to escape the reproach of avoidable injustice. But it 
witnessed a many-sided mental development in which men 
sought to find the aim of life and the way to enjoy life 
worthily, and if minds had not derived much benefit from the 


educative effects of labour, yet on the other hand the developed 
taste of the liberal ancient culture had a stimulative effect 
upon labour by setting before it an abundance of interesting 
tasks. We see this effect in a pervading artistic grace 
and in the harmonious style of treatment to which it is 
owing that even in our view the numerous small remains of 
antique labour seem to represent a coherent wealth of ordered 
beauty in the surroundings of life. "We see it also in the 
splendid works in which the organizing activity of political 
administration combined a multitude of subject powers. This 
condition of things was changed by the storms of national 
migration. The vague adventure-loving impulse of the heroic 
age again obtained ascendency over significant mental culture ; 
slavery as a legally existing institution did indeed gradually 
disappear ; but the labouring section of mankind, as contrasted 
with those who carry arms, sank into a state of dependence 
which in many respects was hardly different from slavery. 
Neither in detail, however, nor on the whole, did the newly 
dominant element afford to labour the stimulus of interesting 
tasks. For the requirements of private life were neither so 
varied nor so refined as before ; the degeneration of political 
life into a multitude of territories loosely federated, and con- 
stantly at war with one another, prevented any of those great 
enterprises which had been the pride of antiquity. Yet 
ancient art and its productions lived on as well as they could ; 
and these transmitted remains subsequently furnished an 
animating stimulus to renewed advance ; but for a long time 
nothing new arose, and no age is so poor in progressive 
discoveries and inventions as the interval which divides the 
downfall of the classical world from the renascence of the 

And it was just labour which by its peculiar development, 
especially in the more northern countries of Europe, was to 
change the whole aspect of life, and to give it a new and -^ 
permanent direction. When the storms which stirred the 
nations had subsided, commerce which again began to traverse 
the different countries awoke new wants by the commodities 







which it introduced, and new efforts to satisfy these wants at 
the price of native productions. At the places where men 
met to carry out these exchanges of commodities, settlements 
were formed with which by degrees the native industries of 
the surrounding country became permanently connected. Both 
the absence of legal security in those times, and the imper- 
fection and awkwardness of communication with distant 
countries, necessitated close combination between related 
industries, and at an equally early date made these combina- 
tions inclined to exclude any workman who had not, by 
undertaking the duties of the brotherhood, also acquired its 
rights. These noteworthy historical circumstances caused a 
man's chosen work to become a fixed calling, which determined 
for each individual his rank in the society; for in fact his work 
was to him no longer a mere quantum of labour which he had 
to get through, and by which an equally definite quantity of 
enjoyment was to be purchased, but by his having on his 
part voluntarily taken up this work he had become instead ot 
a mere specimen of the race an authorized constituent of 
human society. The same articulation of society, which in 
oriental caste had become as it were hardened into a natural 
distinction, irremovable and extending from one generation 
to another, was reproduced here, with the difference that it 
was now an order in which the individual was entitled to 
freely choose his own place ; just as much a matter of course 
as that each naturally belonged to one family was it that he 
should not only do work or carry on business as a member of the 
society, but that he should also follow a definite calling, sharing 
its duties, rights, customs, and enjoyments. Thus all labour 
was systematized into guilds ; even beggars and vagabonds 
were regarded as constituting a fellowship, having like the 
others a right to exist, and having to establish this right by 
the observance of certain customs. These combinations which 
first arose from community of labour soon involved a com- 
munity of all the interests of life ; at social entertainmenta, 
and in the administration of civic business, men took part not 
simply as men and as citizens, but they felt both that it was 


from the rank to which they belonged and from the guild 
that their right arose to participation, and also that the same 
source furnished them with the characteristic and expressive 
forms of such participation. 

Much in this constitution of society may now appear to us 
as arbitrary restrictions ; but that which makes us feel it 
restricted then existed either not at all or only in a very 
slight degree ; and it is really doubtful whether our feelings m/^ 
in the matter are quite justified. That remembrance of 
differences of rank should be dragged into free social inter- 
course may easily seem to us preposterous ; but there was 
then no general culture which could make the interchange of >^ 
opinion interesting, and no generally accepted code of morality | 
capable of imposing fixed and beneficent forms of intercourse. 
Still less active was the consciousness of a political order 
representing social advantages of more than mere local interest ; 
on the contrary, those town communities which had arisen 
from definite departments of labour were the only living wholes 
which being united by reciprocal needs pursued common ends. 
Thus it was natural that political importance should accrue to 
individual trades in the localities where they flourished — an 
importance by no means correspondent to the nature of the 
labour in which they were engaged, but quite appropriate to 
a society of men bound together among themselves by similar 
habits of life and reciprocal duties and rights. 

The results of this relation were of advantage to labour 
itself as well as to public life. Consolidation of a trade into 
guilds, beside which others exist, roused natural emulation and 
made men desire to be esteemed for the sake of that condition in 
life which they had chosen. There was developed that sturdy 
temper which makes men seek to maintain before all the 
world the honour of their handicraft, and makes them give 
themselves to their work with heart and soul, in order that 
they may increase its excellence; slowly and with difficulty, 
not as yet helped and supported by any science, artistic fancy 
once more gained a footing upon this path of thoughtful 
labour. Public life gained in prosperity and beauty by the 




humane institutions primarily founded by the brotherhoods 
for the sake of their members and by the contributions 
which they vied with each other in rendering for the 
advancement of the common good ; national codes of morals' 
having long ago fallen into disuse, family life, principally 
under the influence of this industry, developed the new 
growth of civic discipline, the strictness and steadiness of which 
recall the golden age of Eoman honour; and yet being pervaded 
on the one hand by Christian thought which tends to freedom, 
and on the other hand by the spirit of active industry, it shows 
in not a few points an undoubted advance of the human race. 
For a long time this form of life, in which work and enjoy- 
ment are blended as much as possible, was opposed to the 
adventurous spirit of chivalry, which found that as society 
became gradually consolidated, occasions of knightly deeds began 
to fail, society having even to defend itself against the attacks 
of the knightly order ; but the new view of life made its way 
notwithstanding, and if political independence or a recognition 
amounting to the same thing were not very rapidly reached, 
yet this philosophy soon began to determine the general forms 
of society. It is by it that the material wealth of modern 
countries has been won ; from it proceeded at a later period 
the revival of learning and art ; so to it was due nearly the 
whole content of life ; and it was but natural that it should 
also influence the external character of life, even to costume 
and the tone of conversation. But it did not reach this 
supremacy until influential circumstances of all kinds had 
^ already begun to produce an essential alteration of its character. 
§ 4. The great geographical discoveries with which the 
Middle Ages closed, the rapid development of the physical 
sciences which soon followed, the extraordinary effect which 
the discovery of printing had in extending, accelerating, and 
facilitating the communication of thought, and the similar 
influence exercised by the development of navigation and 
finally of steam power upon commerce — these things it is 
that have chiefly given to modern life its distinctive character 
as regards enjoyment, industry, and interchange of goods. 


The outlines of land and water on the earth's surface have 
now been ascertained with a completeness which causes us to 
believe that we cannot look for any surprising discoveries in 
the future, and for the first time the various races that dwell 
upon the globe have come within sight of one another. The 
interior of great continents and their resources still remain in 
deep obscurity, and many nations are stiU seeking points of 
departure from which they may proceed to the formation of 
permanent social relations; but everywhere we find an in- 
vestigating zeal which is no longer content to amuse the 
imagination with a description of distant wonders, but desires / 
to bring all these unknown and distant regions into useful j 
connection with our own civilisation. The explanation which 
science is now beginning to afford of the extensive connection 
between natural effects all over the surface of the earth 
already gives useful support to these attempts, hindering 
some adventurous undertakings by showing their economic 
uselessness, and encouraging others by pointing out their 
probable good results. Commerce, in equilibrating supply . jJ^ 
and demand in the most distant regions, and being able to 
effect desirable exchanges with increasing ease, is approaching 
the solution of its problem, which is to unite all parts of the \ 
earth into a single economic whole, to supplement the niggard- [ 
liness of one climate by the fruitfulness of another, to guard ' 
against the dangerous fluctuations of society caused by famines 
in ancient times and in the Middle Ages, and to make the 
most inhospitable regions fit to be at least a temporary abode 
of human beings wherever I^ature has not set limits to men's 
further advance by refusing the gifts which are absolutely 
indispensable to life. Political projects which have never », 
been altogether independent of economic considerations are M 
now obliged to be made with a more careful calculation of the 
much more complicated actions and reactions upon which the 
power and welfare of states depends. Perhaps an accurate 
judgment of what is here advantageous is in most respects 
still in its infancy ; yet to some extent we clearly see the 
restraining power which is exercised upon the warlike instincts . ' — 



of mankind by the consciousness of this connection of com- 
plicated relations which men are bound to respect. Not 
indeed unfailingly, nor in all respects advantageously, is this 
influence exercised. For however desirable may be the 
restraint of coarse and merely destructive forces, it is by no 
means desirable that the whole of life should be fettered by 
material possessions and by that love of peace which would 
sometimes be willingly deaf to the call of honour from fear 
that such possessions should be endangered. 

The opening of the boundless realms of the new world has 
in another respect had a favourable effect upon political life. 
Many institutions and conditions which had been handed 
down by long tradition, oppressed mankind as with the con- 
sciousness of a tedious and hopeless malady, and now an 
opportunity was afforded it of making vast new constructions ; 
it could now learn by its own fresh experience what strength 
and activity human life demands when men are forced to 
return to the most primitive labour, what benefits (perhaps too 
lightly esteemed) may be combined even with the evils of 
ancient civilisation, and finally what new and more vigorous 
institutions may be established when men are unhampered by 
tradition and are free to be guided by existing circumstances. 
It had hitherto been as impossible for history as it is for the 
physician to make the valuable experiment of trying how an 
existing condition, which has been treated in a definite way, 
would develop if subjected to quite different treatment. One 
of the most special advantages of modern times has been the 
possession of this new world alongside of the old world, and 
the being able without any sudden interruption of historical 
development to realize the events and life-experiences passed 
through by men in that great arena of aspiring powers. 

To this extension of the scene of economic activity, with its 
important results, the growth of physical science furnished the 
means necessary for the complete conquest of the new territory. 
Useful discoveries have been made in all ages, but there has 
not existed in all ages that activity of imagination to which 
any success attained immediately becomes a starting-point for 


fresh undertakings ; in ancient times and in the Middle Ages, 
the application of any newly discovered natural or artificial 
power was usually restricted to the immediate sphere of work 
which had given occasion for its discovery. It is different in 
our time. By experiment and calculation the principles and 
laws of action of forces have been arrived at in at least 
some departments of Nature; nuhierous observations have 
ascertained the various results produced by the action of these 
forces under arbitrarily established or altered conditions of 
their application ; now every newly discovered material and 
every newly ascertained natural process is regarded from a 
variety of general standpoints and compared with a variety of 
recollections of what has been previously observed, and these 
not merely arouse but often forthwith give an answer to the 
question, What further advantage is to be gained by subject- 
ing this new discovery to definite conditions or by combining 
it with known forces ? Hence arise men's vigorous en- 
deavours to follow out forthwith all^the possible aipplications 
■ of a fresh discovery, and the frequent demand that definite 
instruments of progress (which are needed and from which are 
expected services which can be exactly specified) should be 
provided by searching out new chemical combinations, or new 
means for the composition of forces ; and hence finally a 
knowledge of the hindrances which yet remain to be overcome ^ 
in the accomplishment of a mechanical task, and of the 
direction which must be taken by any investigation which 
aims at removing these. These advantages depend upon the 
nature of our knowledge and the facility with which (thanks 
to the easy communication of thought) co-operative labour can y^ 
be carried on ; and they have not only conferred upon us an 
incomparably greater wealth of useful commodities than were 
possessed by men in ancient times and in the Middle Ages, 
but have also determined our mode of thought. Much which ^ 

formerly seemed to us impossible we now regard as a mere 
matter of time ; the combined energy of men applies itself to 
the most extensive undertakings with a calm prevision of 
success. This energy seeks not merely to transform the 


inanimate world but also regards the animal kingdom as a 
constituent part of a universe of usable commodities, modify- 
ing the physical formation of animals by careful breeding for 
arbitrarily chosen ends, and thus feeling ever more and more 
supreme over Nature and ever more and more losing the 
remains of that awe with which even as late as the Middle 
Ages the mysterious characteristics of natural elements were 
regarded ; men anticipating more results from the wondrous 
developments of these (which they ventured only timidly to 
initiate) than from their own well- calculated interference. 

These considerations extend to the coherence of society 
with reference both to its internal consistence and to its 
connection with physical conditions. The abundant and 
penetrating reflections of antiquity upon these questions 
were destitute on the one hand of a basis of observation 
wide as to both space and time, and on the other hand 
of the possibility of easily communicating the results attained. 
Statistical science with its characteristically developed methods 
of comparison is now able to utilize the rich material which 
the present owes to its greatly enlarged intellectual horizon, 
and the existing multifarious means of communication make 
its results the common property of much wider circles. Thus 
among the most characteristic features of modern times may 
be reckoned growing clearness and increasing extension 
of reflection concerning the foundations of the economic 
articulation of society, concerning the laws of exchange, and 
the connection of all human activity. If it were ever possible 
for the human mind to move on exclusively in a single direc- 
tion, the injurious effects of the present preference for this 
region of thought would be developed still more plainly than 
they are. For taken alone it favours the disposition to regard 
all that happens as a mere example of general laws. It has 
a tendency to make man regard his own development, 
which had before seemed at least partly to be the work of 
his own free will, as the product of climate, of food, and of 
natural endowment, and the changes of these that take place 
according to natural law. In this connection of all things, 


mechanically so clear, it is difficult to hold fast the thought 
of higher ideals, ideals which are entitled to require some- 
thing other than that which the natural concatenation of 
causes and effects can of itself produce. In fact the flood of 
materialistic views with which we are inundated bears witness 
to this increasing disposition to leave to man no other destiny [ 
than care for his physical nature, development of the capacities i\ 
of his kind, and the multiplication of those good things to the 
enjoyment of which this part of his being leads him. Thought- 
ful reflection also, which does not take such a narrow view, has 
succumbed to the temptation to regard social changes which 
seem to be forced on by natural conditions, as being justifiable 
simply because they are explicable; and to look on at the 
stream of circumstances with tacit acceptance of events that 
are accomplished, or are in course of being accomplished, 
approving every turn and eddy of that stream. 

§ 5. The greatest part of the peculiar form assumed by the , Ia/vU^ 
relations of labour in our times is due to the development of ' 
machinery. The infinitely numerous possible functions of 
the human hand in labour are found separated in machines, 
each individual function being attached to a mechanism 
which exists purposely for it, and each being on this account 
endowed with greater strength, staying power, and exact- 
ness. Antiquity possessed but few of these advantages ; it 
had at best only tools, that is to say contrivances which do 
indeed by their construction and manner of use afford to 
human strength a more convenient hold of the objects upon 
which men work, but yet find the spring of their movement 
and action in the strength and skill of the human arm. It was 
the utilization of steam which first substituted for them, and 
hat with ever increasing generality, machines the disposable 
brce of which is developed not indeed from nothing, and just 
as little from a mere summation or transformation of human 
activity, but from the efficiency of elemental forces, machines 
erely providing for this efficiency the conditions of useful 
action; and even this work is facilitated by the progress of 

^technical art. As from the beginning the earlier and coarser 

B VOL. II. 2 B 





tool helped to make a more delicate one, so it is machines 
themselves which make those parts of other machines that are 
difficult of construction ; and it is machines themselves which, 
in part at least, changing their action according to the chang- 
ing requirements of the work, counterbalance the injurious 
incidental effects which that action would otherwise entail. 

The costliness of machinery and of keeping it going, 
generally speaking makes its employment profitable only 
in uninterrupted production on a large scale. As when the 
radius of a circle is increased, successive equal additions to 
its superficial extent are made with an ever decreasing pro- 
portional addition to its circumference : so with the same 
necessity in most kinds of labour, as the scale on which it is 
undertaken is increased, the increase of useful production 
exceeds in a growing ratio the increase of outlay ; when re- 
duplications of similar functions are performed by one 
instrument there is hardly needed an increase of the activity 
which it would have to devote to a single performance of the 
same function ; most productions gain in perfection when 
their various separate parts are made by separate machinery 
which is devoted exclusively to them ; and finally this 
division of labour, advantageous in itself, is facilitated by the 
unvarying exactitude of mechanical action, the uniformity of 
its productions making possible their subsequent combination 
into a whole. 

The advantages hence arising for the products of labour 
and for their distribution have been as often extolled as the 
disadvantages connected with them have been lamented. It 
is without doubt due to the use of machinery in manufactures 
that there has been diffused among the people a great supply 
of the means of comfort and wellbeing which either were quite 
inaccessible to the civilisation of earlier times, or on account 
of the difficulty of procuring them were attainable only by a 
few. But this industry has already absorbed much which 
used to belong to art, and though the artistic element may 
not have been wholly banished from its uniform productions, 
yet they are without the traces of that lively individual 



imagination which is revealed in so many objects of ancient 
or mediaeval workmanship — objects which one hand had with 
loving interest framed in every stage, from the raw material 
to the final form. It is now more difficult than it used to be 
to provide dwellings with harmonious furniture ; it is the slight 
interest which we can feel in furniture that has been pur- 
chased and brought together from a variety of places, that 
makes us disregard the lack of coherent mental character in 
our customary surroundings. On the other hand, the cheap- 
ness of manufactures produced by machinery, as compared 
with those produced by that human skill which has now lost 
its value, is not so great as to allow of unpropertied persons 
participating with any degree of completeness in these new 
comforts and conveniences of life. In perfectly simple states 
of society, the various dispositions which even there have place 
appear side by side as if they all had anr equal right to exist, 
just as the different kinds of animals, for none of which is it 
any reproof to be what it is ; it is to a high degree of refinement, 
that there is first opposed as its antitype that coarseness which 
while it knows all the newly discovered and newly developed 
moral relations despises or misuses all of them. Just in the 
same way poverty of external appearance is no reproach, is 
often even picturesque, at a stage of civilisation in which men 
have but few needs and satisfy these in the most primitive 
and simple manner. On the other hand, this same poverty 
assumes the peculiar character of squalor when it appears in 
the midst of a society the life of which is based upon a very 
complicated and intricately branching- system of satisfying 
human wants. Poverty, taking isolated and disconnected frag- 
ments from this system, becomes subject to wants which it has 
no assured permanent and adequate means of satisfying ; and 
substitutes for previous frugal needs and occasional inventive 
sallies the awkward discomfort of surroundings which afford 
adequate satisfaction of needs only by fits and starts, and of 
an outward appearance of slovenliness. It is only in the south, 
with its mild climate, that there still remains any charm about 
the life of the majority ; the vast and needy masses of the 


civilised nations of the north pass their existence even now 
in such dwellings and under such conditions as to clothing 
and household furniture as must be hardly less repulsive than 
the hovels in which thousands of years ago oppressed Asiatics 
hid themselves away from their tyrants. 

Still more unfavourable is the effect of the new forms of 
labour upon mental development. What was so much feared 
in ancient times, the narrowing of men's intellectual horizon 
by unintellectual occupations, threatens the mass of the people 
more and more as the division of labour goes on getting 
greater. Even in the division of manual labour in past times, 
many an employment constituted a fixed vocation which, if 
the matter had been settled by regard for untrammelled human 
development, must have been reckoned among the temporary 
occupations of household labour. But independent handicrafts 
generally embraced a plurality of cognate operations ; it was 
possible for the labourer to accompany the various stages of 
elaboration undergone by raw material before attaining its final 
form, with continuous activity and a satisfactory sense of 
the progress and results of the work. The tool habitually 
used did indeed exercise an influence upon the bodily develop- 
ment, the demeanour, the character, and the sphere of thought 
of the workman ; but yet he was not its slave : in every outline 
of the finished products he could, as it were, trace the strength 
and delicacy of his own formative touch. On the other hand, 
man's share in the work that is done by machinery is limited 
to very uniform manual operations which do not directly 
shape anything, but merely communicate to some mechanism 
which is not understood an uncomprehended impulse to 
some invisible operation. The completed product reaches the 
hands of the individual worker in a condition of which he 
did not witness the production, and passes out of his hands 
again to undergo further transformations which are brought 
about in a way equally obscure to him. Hence arises the 
worst possible division of labour — the separation of the 
sagacious invention and guidance which, with the increasing 
complication of machinery, requires ever increasing circum- 


Bpection, fiom the nnintelligent inanipulation which is able to 
do without thought in proportion as all its difficulties are 
solved by others. For the only perfection which it is possible 
for such workers to develop — the formal one of exactitude 
without consciousness of the ends to be attained — is the very 
same virtue which is required from machinery itself. It is 
only unusual talent that can succeed in raising itself, under 
such unfavourable conditions and in entering the ranks of 
invention ; for moderate capacities labour is no longer either \y 
enjoyment or a means of culture. And this injurious result ' ' 
cannot be counterbalanced by the compensation which intelli- 
gent benevolence seeks to provide for the labourer by giving y^ 
him a larger allowance of leisure and better means of occupy- 
ing it. He may have access given him to means of scientific 
culture, to instructive lectures, to refined pleasures — he may 
even be enabled to enjoy temporarily a luxury, which certainly 
may possibly be made accessible to him by a system ot 
industry that depends upon enormous consumption ; but all 
this does not alter the feeling which regards unintellectual ^ 
work as a mere means to enjoyment, and having no sympathy ( 
or devotion for the work itself merely seeks to get it over in 
order to obtain its fruits. This lamentable division of life 
into labour and leisure that are opposed to one another as day 
and night, is at present undoubtedly progressing ; when we 
boast, as one of the advantages of our own time, that all kinds 
of labour are now respected, this often means nothing more 
than that the attainment of means of enjoyment by any kind i 1 
of effort is praised ; it is not labour but its product that is 
sought ; men undertake to bear for a fixed term of years the 
repulsive burden of this effort, which is destitute of mental , 
interest, in order that then the remainder of their life, sharply , 
marked off from this time of labour, may be spent in idle | 

The social relations, too, which depend on the division 
of labour, develop new and gloomy aspects. As long as 
production by hand-labour remains profitable, or in as far 
as trade is concerned with simple products the indispensable- 


ness of which insures their sale, honest endeavour may 
maintain a modest independence, without having any great 
superabundance of intellect and capital. Wider knowledge of 
the connection which there is between the needs of extensive 
groups of countries, now makes it possible to anticipate 
demand to a much greater extent than formerly, the multi- 
plied means of communication allow those products which can 
be cheaply supplied in large quantities to be easily got rid of, 
and the greatness of the resources employed makes it easier 
to weather the fluctuations of demand and exchange ; in 
many cases the greater excellence and uniformity of things 
produced by machinery contribute to drive out hand labour. 
There are not a few handicrafts which from an independent 
production of commodities have come down to the mere 
finishing off and fitting together of manufactured goods ; others 
no longer pursuing any trade of their own have to take a 
subordinate place as mere appendages of great businesses. 
The same conditions which in a general way make the com- 
bination of several different operations in one business more 
remunerative, have a specially powerful effect in concentrat- 
ing mechanical industry in great manufactories, a system 
which, by its combination of mind and money, prevents 
mere faithful work from attaining independence. It is true 
that within short periods the machine worker is more sure of 
his wages ; but whilst independent handicrafts depend upon 
the needs of a greater number of customers — a number which 
in a small trade is seldom altered suddenly — the existence of 
the machine worker depends partly upon the arbitrary choice 
and the insight of one person or of a few, and partly upon 
the fluctuations of universal demand and supply, which he 
can neither survey nor control. This insecurity is by no 
means counterbalanced by the sense that he participates in 
a great whole, for he participates neither in the insight nor in 
the gain, but almost exclusively in the dangers. Nor has he 
more cheering prospects as regards a gradual improvement of 
circumstances. His wages are mostly insufficient for the 
attainment of ultimate independence; and a change of occupa- 


tion is impracticable for him ; since, generally speaking, a maa 
becomes thoroughly competent for any definite work only by 
long habituation, which unfits him for any other. It therefore 
seems to the machine-worker that the best condition of life 
attainable for him is soon reached, and that striving after 
something more serves only to lessen the enjoyment of the 
present ; the impulse to frugality is extinguished, and early 
marriages (contracted because there is no prospect of any 
advantage being derived from delay, and because the 
children's capacity of labour can soon be turned to account) 
rapidly increase the number of industrial proletarians, all 
doomed to the same prospectless and improvident life. The 
humanity of the masters, which is often present and often 
absent, cannot remove these evils without changing the 
principle of division of labour ; even a patriarchial relation 
between them and their subordinates would not produce a 
complete solution of the problem, since this could only be 
found in the re-establishment of an independence based upon 
men's own activity. 

In another direction labour has broken through earlier 
restrictions, with much advantage and not without some dis- 
advantage. Historical relations had made it necessary that 
infant guilds in order to prosper should have strong internal 
coherence and external inaccessibility. But altogether rash 
was the view (which in course of time developed from these 
beginnings) that all human labour falls into a limited number 
of classes with a regularity like that of the animal or veget- 
able kingdom, each of these classes having an exclusive right 
to a definite circle of employments. The growing-up of new 
kinds of work, which could not be fitted into this system, led 
to the removal of such limitations, and this has certainly opened 
a free field of labour to struggling powers which were before 
confined ; but the benefits of this improvement are abridged 
by the general condition of things. As there is scarcely any 
business which may not possibly be carried on in manufac- 
tories, the powers which have been thus set free may also 
divide into the two classes of employers of labour and 


dependent labourers. The possibility of going from one 
business to another may delay this result, but will also con- 
tribute to make men forget still more the idea of a calling 
and to dissolve the steadiness and security of ancient customs 
depending upon it ; life will become a succession of discon- 
nected attempts to fight one's way through somehow or other. 
The present age has met these wants by a resource which 
promises much though not everything, namely by voluntary 
combinations for definite objects. As Assurance Companies 
they distribute among a number the unavoidable damage 
produced by natural causes, effecting this distribution as a 
judicious economic measure ; as Joint-Stock Companies for 
carrying out undertakings which are beyond the power ot 
individuals, they alone, combining self-interest with the 
common good, are able to succeed in works which can com- 
pare with the colossal undertakings of antiquity ; they appear 
in innumerable other forms in order to combine the separate 
resources of individuals whose wants are similar by buying 
the materials for work wholesale, saving the useless cost of 
retailing, and affording to small capitals, by co-operation in 
trade, the same rate of profit which large capitals can obtain. 
Cheering experiences already testify to the value of the further 
development which this principle is capable of. Needy work- 
men combining their small savings into one capital stock, and 
thus being able to enter upon undertakings for the common 
benefit, have enlarged their modest associations into tlourish- 
ing companies which afford to all participants the commercial 
advantages of business on a large scale. The united com- 
munity of workers takes the place of the one employer, and 
the satisfaction of labour by wages regulated by the supply of 
unemployed labourers is transformed into a participation of 
the gain obtained by the industry of the society ' the 
oppressive and demoralizing effects of the relations between 
the sole lord and his " hands " give way to the animating and 
moralizing power of the sympathy which the individuej 
feels for the prosperity of the whole to which he belongs. 
Without recourse being hud lo express prohibitions, vicea 


of excess, which are not congenial to the spirit of these 
societies on the whole, seem to grow less of their own accord ; 
they have manifested a vigorous impulse towards further 
cultivation by establishing educational institutions and 
seeking means of instruction ; without State support and 
struggling against many obstacles, they have brought to their 
members an amount of gain which secures and improves their 
existence and their domestic life. It is hard to anticipate 
experience and to determine what capacity of further develop- 
ment these associations may have ; what they have hitherto 
not afforded is the independence of individual callings, for all 
they do for the individual is to guarantee him a competency. 
The question is whether this ideal of family life, self-dependent, 
economically self-supporting and constituting in itself a com- 
plete sphere of activity, is capable of general attainment in 
our time, or whether it must not be sacrificed to the changed 
conditions of labour. It still exists on landed properties 
v^here the owner is the cultivator ; but if the time of the 
steam-plough should come and its superiority should make 
necessary that cultivation on a large scale which alone is 
suited to steam agriculture, then many fields will be thrown 
into one, all the slight hollows will be filled up, all the slight 
elevations will be levelled, and though individual rights of 
property in the wide and fruitful plain thus created may con- 
tinue, it will be handed over to the administration of select 
committees, from whom after the harvesting the owners will 
receive the produce or an account of it. The connection 
between man on the one hand, and Nature and the labour 
applied to natural objects on the other, will in this case as 
in others become ever less perceptible ; the earth also will 
then be regarded as merely gain-producing, and not as the 
object of an industry that is carried on with self-sacrificing 

The ties of neighbourhood already combine the inhabitants 
of a village or town to a community of interest in most of 
the affairs of life ; and in the time when guilds flourished the 
association between their members was even stronger, and 



extended to the whole of life and not merely to work alone ^ 
all modern associations have hitherto had the disadvantage 
of being combinations for isolated objects, none of which 
captivates and occupies the whole man. As the implement 
which a man uses lays claim to him altogether as it were, but 
machinery, on the contrary, works for him, so formerly a man's 
calling encompassed him as it were on every side, '.vhile his 
present relation to work is like that of machinery to it, no 
devotion being required from him, but only the punctual 
fulfilment of a small number of conditions. Formal virtues 
are abundantly developed ; in the intercourse which is carried 
on in trade, by postal communication, by rail, in money 
exchanges, in credit, there is a stupendous reliance upon the 
trustworthiness of machinery that is withdrawn from all 
personal supervision and all individual influence, working for 
men as it were in the dark. What in ancient and medieval 
times required a multiplicity of personal efforts, of emotional 
springs of action, of effectively calculated persuasion, of manifold 
manipulation, is now (with the least possible expenditure of 
excitement, with an economy that is sparing even of words) 
entrusted wholly to that machinery of communication which 
provides for all. But the more the real nature of business 
is understood and developed in conformity with its concept, 
the more are liking and personal devotion withdrawn from it. 
It is true that a great part of the good results which in earlier 
times resulted from this active participation is more advan- 
tageously obtained by the mode of business administration 
referred to; that by assurances, by a general system of 
poor-relief, and by the stimulation of intelligent self-interest, 
tasks which were formerly left to voluntary charity are to 
some extent lessened and to some extent more certainly 
iulfilled ; but after all these departments of human activity 
have been made as far as possible mechanical, the question 
becomes more and more prominent. Where, then, as a matter 
of fact does life itself begin if all which formerly filled it up 
is removed from the sphere of living interest and reckoned as 
merely among the preparations for life and instruments of living? 


Enjoyment of the leisure which remains after all necessary 
labour has been accomplished is hardly on the whole 
estimated very highly in our own age. It is an age which 
is well acquainted with the bitterness of toil, but knows little 
of joyous festivals. With the disappearance to so large an 
extent of trade guilds and status, old manners and traditional 
customs with all the complex formalities of public festivals and 
entertainments and all significant ceremonies of social inter- 
course have declined; and amid the general formlessness, men 
are at a loss what to do with the leisure they have obtained 
unless they either turn again to the labour which was to 
have been got rid of, or seek that sensuous enjoyment which 
is always to be had. Exhibitions are the only peculiarly 
modern entertainments of a public kind, and public dinners 
for political or other purposes are the means used to strengthen 
enthusiasm. Neither Church nor State supplies the lack of 
popular inventive power; the latter neither favours the 
political activity natural to good fellowship, nor does it readily 
allow the use of social solemnities in even such political action 
as it approves ; and the Church by forbidding or disapproving 
natural impulses, abandons the imagination of the people to 
its own vacuity, without winning it to participation in the 
forms of worship and the enjoyment of genuine artistic beauty, 
by positive development of spiritual life. 

Now if we take a comprehensive survey of these historical 
transformations, human life seems to be turned more and 
more into a struggle for existence ; the multiplication of small 
wants, which is not accompanied by a proportionate increase 
in the ease with which they are satisfied, consumes a large 
share of the strength which might have been devoted to more 
ultimate ends, while the kind of labour required does not 
contain in itself its own reward or even a part of its reward. 
The place of Work, which was once a self-animating exercise of 
activity, is taken more and more by Business, that wonderful 
creation of society, that with its complicated connections and 
its natural laws which are independent of our will in a certain 
sense leads a life of its own, and reduces individuals to the 


condition of its panting slaves. Great advances in insight, 
in discoveries, in new social constructions of all kinds serve 
on the one hand to give new strength to this monster, and on 
the other hand to give some security, against the inexorable 
course of its development, to that humanity which it has itself 
created ; and we are accustomed to admire the one as well as 
the other. We regard with amazement and not without 
satisfaction the growth of those giant cities in which the 
nature of business gradually concentrates the population, and 
often forget under what joyless and revolting conditions of 
existence a large part of humanity is thus placed ; we regard 
it as an advance when the tender strength of children is 
employed in useful labour, or there are opened to women 
spheres of work which secure to the increasing numbers of 
those who are unmarried the possibility of subsistence ; and 
we do not enough consider that at the best these arrangements 
are but forced and wholly unnatural attempts to counterbalance 
serious evils which owe their existence to the progressive 
development of all the relations of life. 

That the sociological order when left to itself is necessarily 
such we do not deny, and we think that those are in the right 
who hold that it is unpractical sentimentality to wish for a 
condition which cannot be brought back. But the remainder 
of the truth must also be told, which is that this course of 
things is not in itself a movement towards perfection. The 
innumerable individual steps of progress in knowledge and 
capability which have unquestionably been made as regards 
this production and management of external goods, have as 
yet by no means become combined so as to form a general 
advance in the happiness of life. For the growth of this 
happiness cannot be sought either in the mere multiplication 
and improvement of productions, or in the increasing bustle 
of industry, nor yet in the ingenuity that tries to maintain the 
same tolerable equilibrium between labour and wages under 
conditions that become ever more and more artificial and com- 
plicated. For this maintenance is the utmost that is accom- 
plished. Each step of progress with the increase of strength 



which it brings, brings also a corresponding increase of pres- 
sure; the more varied the ways are in which the individual 
elements that form the social system touch one another — 
tlieir connections being now more tense than formerly — the 
more do they both gain by the union of their forces, and suffer 
from the disturbances of others and the inner repulsions of all. 
Hence we find that never has there existed in such a striking 
degree the inconsistency of holding that the whole life with 
which men are anxiously occupied and which they eagerly 
participate in, is not at bottom the true life, and of dreaming 
that there is another and a fairer that might be lived and will 
be lived as soon as the lower life gives us time, and opens a 
way of entrance to it. 

Let us see now whether in the midst of this noise of 
external progress, this better life has been preserved, and 
perchance by its own advance towards perfection provided a 
compensation for the deficiencies which we have indicated. 



Art as an "Organism," and as the Expression of Human Feeling — ^Eastern 
Vastness — Hebrew Sublimity — Greek Beauty — Roman Elegance and 
Dignity — The Individuality and Fantasticalness of the Middle Ages — 
Romance — Beauty, Art, and ^stheticism in Modern Life. 

R 1. TT is no longer our custom to personify (as myth- 
J- constructing imagination once did) the various forms 
of mental activity which in the course of history have been 
devoted to the same supreme aims, aided by ever new and 
perhaps ever more perfect expedients. But after thinking 
we had discovered in their historical changes an ordered and 
constant progress, we found, in the name and the notion ot 
spiritual organisms, a means of ascribing to them greatel 
independence of existence and development than really belongs 
to them. Philosophy and the history of philosophy have long 
been spoken of as if they embraced not only the ever-recurring 
efforts of human thought to grasp the truth which is always 
equally valid, not only the series of philosophic views by 
I which the human heart seeks to rise above the doubts and 
' difficulties and distresses of life ; rather it seemed as though 
in them truth itself experienced a development of its own 
existence and content and validity, like the growth of a 
/ plant which is indeed tended and cultivated by our care and 
( attention, but yet unfolds beneath our touch according to its 
own immutable law of development. Of the sphere of art, too, 
we are now accustomed to speak as if it were a mysterious 
region of enchantment, having indeed its place in our life, and 
yet separated from life, accessible to few, working in the 
service of eternal beauty according to laws and order of its 
own, holding together its various productions in a complete 
and isolated system, and governed, as to its history in time 



by an innate law of development. "We do not wholly dispute 
the justice of such a conception, nor the good results which it 
has had in deepening men's appreciation of all beauty; bnt the 
few considerations which we are now about to offer are not 
directed to this organism of art, for the development of which 
according to its own laws the living passion of nations can serve 
but as nutritive sap. On the contrary, our discussion is only 
concerned with th^jvarying attempts of men to make clear to 
themselves the mood which governed them, and the peculiar 
feeling awakened in them by existing conditions, by impressing 
the image of that beauty which had most taken hold of their 
minds upon everything that they did and experienced, both 
upon the character of everyday intercourse and upon works 
which were intended to remain as lasting monuments. As far 
as posterity is concerned, it is commonly the constructions 
of art which afford the most evident testimony with regard to "- 
this sesthetic life of the past ; to the men of any age the works 
of art of that age are but one and that not always the most 
expressive of its manifestations ; for their production and their 
greatness depend upon the number of creative and constructive 
minds, and these, in consequence of some dispensation which 
is to us inscrutable, are not distributed equally to all ages. 
But even such minds cannot collect scattered rays if these are 
as yet non-existent ; and the appearance of such minds pre- 
supposes that men in general are in tune for that aspect of (■ 
beauty to which they are called upon to give form and (' 
expression. Therefore where great artists are wanting, and 
consequently the dreamy mood of appreciativeness is not 
suddenly awakened to a clear consciousness of the ideal, there 
the slow working of this less creative impulse produces 
festhetically expressive developments of life. ^ 

S 2. The most ancient nations of the East found beauty chiefly 
in what was vast. They may also, it is true, have been not 
without appreciation of tenderness and grace, an appreciation 
of which we have no testimony owing to the destruction of 
their literature ; but even Indian fancy, which exhibits this 
feeling in a striking degree in such of its poetry as is still 



^ extant, has an even greater preference for what is vast anc 
unmeasured. This ancient world was pervaded by reverence 
for what is colossal ; tradition pointed to immeasurable dis- 
tances of past time ; its constructions towered to the skies, 
and extended over the surface of the earth, or penetrated sub- 
terranean depths to an extent vastly beyond what might have 
been expected from human powers, or what could be required for 
human needs ; sculptured figures of more than life size, and in 
large groups, looked down from their pedestals in mart and 
, street upon busy commerce, which was struggling to assume 
equally vast proportions ; civilised countries were populated 
by enormous multitudes ; armies countless in number were at 
the beck of conquerers, whose desires never stopped short of 
universal monarchy ; rulers, exalted above the rest of the 
world by mysterious magnificence, became intoxicated with a 
' sense of their own divinity, and found nothing worthy of being 
j entrusted with the records of their conquests except the hard 
j and rocky tablets supplied by mountains that towered high 
above the plains. 

The impression of grandeur which the ruins of this bygone 
world still make upon our mind, convinces us that its creations 
were the result of genuinely aesthetic thought, which not only 
covered its incapacity of estimating real beauty by an exaggera- 
tion of external proportions, but undoubtedly found in mere 
magnitude a one-sided but true expression of beauty. The 
transitoriness of all that is human, and the swiftness with 
which it passes out of sight, disappearing in the immeasurable 
background of Nature, must have struck early civilisation more 
sharply and hopelessly than it did a later age, which can look 
back to a transmitted world of complex thought created by 
human effort ; it seems as though men's minds had sought to 
alleviit.e this secret dissatisfaction by the greater boldness 
with which they carried all images and monuments of human 
life to such a magnitude as to entirely remove them from any 
measurement by the standards hitherto accepted in different 
stages of civilisation. The colossal constructions of the 
Egyptians seemed to force their way into the ranks of natural 


objects of vast dimensions, as though they had been rivals of 
equal birth. As year after year they looked down undisturbed i 
upon the inundations of the Nile, and the moving billows of j 
desert sand, they inspired the beholder with a sense of the j 
unending durableness with which the human race fills the 
ages ; religious worship — honouring the dead and ever mindful 
of the possible return of their souls to earth with a far-sighted- 
ness which was regardless of the flight of time, kept up this 
feeling — a feeling aroused by contemplating the native works of 
art, and by which these works of art had themselves been pro- 
duced. If one element in all beauty is an immediate certainty ^ 
of the dominion of spiritual life over unconscious Nature, the 
manifestation of that life being inevitably connected with un- 
conscious natural instruments, those ancient nations have given 
to this thought its simplest expression ; they have sought 
above all things to represent the fact of the conquest of Nature w 
by the living Mind ; and whilst they revelled in what was 
vast, and yet by no means always in what was without beauty 
of form, they made for themselves as it were space and breath- 
ing room in which, relieved from the pressure which all finite 
reality encounters, they might breathe freely with a sense of 
their own imperishableness. How much they attained in 
this way we know not ; for no tradition of their mental life 
has come down to us. It is only the writers of the Old 
Testament who tell us of the unbridled licence of the kingdoms 
of Western Asia, in which the life of pleasure flowed in fierce ^ 
and mighty waves ; the monument of Sardanapalus, with its 
inscription — Hat, drink, and love, for all else is but little 
worth — seems to be the melancholy conclusion of this age, 
which in its struggles towards what was great was able 
indeed to assure itself of the strength and imperishableness of 
the race, but had failed to find for the individual any eternal 
content of life, and had, on the contrary, even minified that 
content by comparison with the colossal magnitude of works 
constructed by human hands. 

It is only the Hebrew people who have left us speaking 
monuments of their early mental life. They must have 
"^VOL. II. '" 2 c 


possessed an abundant literature besides the writings which 
are now collected in the Old Testament ; but judging by the 
indications contained in these, those which are lost to us may 
Lave been essentially similar to those which we still possess. 
We know nothing about whether this nation had an inclina- 
tion for scientific investigation ; their language is not formed 
so as to subserve this end, nor is it fitted to be the instrument 
of a many-sided intercourse which makes it possible to 
occupy a variety of points of view. Not that there can be in 
the original capacity of a language or in the principles of its 
construction an insurmountable obstacle to the development of 
any one side of mental life ; but the condition of a language 
at any time shows the direction which that mental life has 
hitherto not taken, and in which consequently it has neglected 
to develop the means of communication. The Hebrew 
language of the Old Testament, with its small n umber _pf 
words for abstract ideas, and its great simplicity of construc- 
tion, is favourable neither to scientific investigation nor to 
intellectual conversation ; but it is in an equal degree more 
fitted for the most faithful delineation of the ever-recurring 
fundamental characteristics of human life, and for the majestic 
expression of divine sublimity. A variety of points of view 
which have been thought out and are well under command 
generally diminish men's receptivity for both of these, or at 
any rate their capacity for representing them ; with regard to 
both the Hebrew histories and hymns are imperishable models. 
The treasures of classic culture are open to but few, but from 
that Eastern fountain countless multitudes of men have for 
centuries gone on drawing ennobling consolation in misery, 
judicious doctrines of practical wisdom, and warm enthusiasm 
for all that is exalted, so that mankind has become accustomed 
to see in the characters of those most ancient stories and their 
destinies, embodied exemplars of human life and of the different 
. characters which the variety of circumstances develops. 
7^ Here popular imagination is no longer directed to what is 

vast, but strains after a sublimity that stands in need neither 
©f vastness nor of ornamentation. Thus the descriptive 





poetry of the Hebrews depicts characters and events with the 
greatest simplicity of expression, without the least artificial 
complication of motives, disclosing everywhere without 
reserve those natural springs of action which as long as the 
world lasts will be the real ultimate incentives of all that 
men do, however ingenious may be the mask thrown over 
their actions by the civilisation of auy age. These represen- 
tations do not employ even the figurative expressions with 
which Greek epic poetry incidentally adorns the objects of 
which it treats, in order to adapt them to the generally 
elevated tone of the description ; on the contrary, their 
characters impress us with their sublimity by appearing 
before us without any adornment, in transparent natural- 
ness, as though there were nothing in the world which 
could call in question man's right to be what he is, and 
to know that he, as he is, is the ultimate object of terrestrial 
creation. Their lyric poetry repeats the same sublimity, only 
after another fashion ; that upon which this depended in their 
historical writings appears here still more obviously. Here 
the mind dwells upon its communion with God, and extols 
with all the power of the most passionate expression, as proof 
of divine omnipotence, every_ deeply-felt individual feature 
o_f_cosmic beauty. For among the divine attributes it is 
certainly omnipotence which above all is felt, and gives a (rvwvv^*'|>'«-^ 
colouring to aesthetic imagination ; we do indeed meet with 
innumerable pictures of Nature which taken separately have 
often that inimitable beauty and charm which civilisation, 
entangled by a thousand unessential accessories of thought, 
finds it so difficult to attain ; but these pictures are not 
utilized for the development of a progressive course of 
tiiought, but merely juxtaposed as though to magnify from 
different but corresponding sides the omnipresent influence 
of that divine activity which they depict. 

The earnestness of this religious bias of mind towards sub- 
limity did certainly pervade life, but could not endow it with ^ — 
liarmonious and many-sided beauty. The thousand petty ' 
cares to which notwithstanding their unimportance cheerful 


attention must be vouchsafed were too far below the soarinr; 
flight of this enthusiasm to be efficiently pervaded by it. The 
regulation of life continued to be left not to unfettered 
imagination but to instructive deductions from the great 
principle of religious belief; they filled it not with beauty 
but with ceremonies and deeds of the law which by connect- 
ing the smallest things directly with the greatest enabled the 
Hebrew people always to maintain, in their highest moods, 
the loftiness of character distinctive of them, but secured no 
uniform grace to existence as a whole, during the less exalted 
moments of relaxed tension. 

§ 3. To what admirable richness and flexibility the mental 
life of the Greeks had developed at a very early period is 
most impressively shown by their language. In saying this 
I am referring neither to its wealth of grammatical forms, nor 
to its euphoniousness ; both make a language interesting, but 
do not show the greatness of those who use it. On the 
contrary, as at the period of greatest strength in animals, 
various parts of their bodies have been pushed out of place 
or have coalesced or wasted away — the body, which does not 
for a long while attain the fulness of living strength, having 
at an earlier period possessed these parts clearly marked out 
in significant symmetry and filled with vital activity — so in 
order to obtain a perfectly flexible instrument of mental life, 
the symmetrical body of language must have its bones to 
some extent displaced and its joints somewhat stretched ; 
and the influence of mental progress is shown in it chiefly 
by phsenomena which concern the dissolution of its earlier 
structure. How many moods and cases may have continued 
in existence matters very little ; moods and cases cannot 
suffice for the expression of all possible relations ; but to 
increase them so as to cover most requirements is not in 
itself a nobler principle for the construction of language 
than the principle to which in the last resort recourse is 
always had when there is increasing demand for delicacy of 
expression — I refer to the independent indication of relations 
\ by separate words. That in this respect the Greek language 


reached a high degree ^of perfection is a trite remark ; its 
particles have always been admired. By their aid language 
could reproduce not only the essential content of thought 
but also the shades of the speaker's mood ; the sense 
of artificiality which perhaps in the dawn of civilisation 
accompanies every systematic recital and makes the more 
ceremonious form of verse seem most natural was, by help 
of these particles, replaced by a sense of easy communication ; 
just as in the sculptures of the Parthenon perfected art 
resolves the early stiffness of merely symbolic representa- 
tion into the gracious ease of perfect beauty. 

In all these respects the language of Homer holds a most 
happy medium between primitive unpliableness and later artifi- 
ciality. In its copiously used conjunctions and prepositions 
we are made aware that the poet drew directly from a wealth 
of those temporal and spatial intuitions whence all languages 
derive their expressions for inner relations. Its structure 
of sentences connects thoughts paratactically without the 
hypotactic complications which later became customary, and 
continued to be intelligible to the quick ear of the 
classical nations without being in any striking degree a 
type of lucid discourse. If in this respect the language of 
Homer is language in its youth, yet its impression on the 
whole is decisively that of a language in which it was no new 
thing for human beings to be spoken of with human feeling. 
It was only after having been used for a considerable time in 
the intercourse of a people vividly awake to all the interests of 
life, that it could have attained such a degree of freedom in 
the expression of thought ; the metrical form itself must have 
been preceded by abundant practice in similar composition 
before its perfect harmony between the form of expression, 
the train of ideas, and the rhythm could have been produced. 

But disregarding this merely lingual aspect, Homeric dis- 
course, considered simply as discourse, bears witness to the 
early attainment of a high degree of human cultivation. The 
Homeric heroes speak much and willingly, and know nothing 
of the fierceness of dumb encounter with which barbaric 



energy does but hide its awkward incapacity of setting its 
own thoughts in order, and its still greater clumsiness in 
expressing and justifying them. We see everywhere that 
liahit of understanding things which makes men seek for 
reasons ; Homeric men had long ago learnt how to converse 
with one another, and developed their natural reflections simply 
and fluently, not always confining themselves to the matter 
immediately in hand, but using comparisons and maxims which 
one feels to have proverbial weight, referring to a common social 
treasure of practical wisdom which had been for a considerable 
time in their possession. In this respect the heroic poetry 
of the Germans produces a different impression ; the spiritual 
depth which we admire in it lacks facility of expression. The 
undeveloped structure of sentences ; the meagre explanation of 
feelings and resolves, to the mere statement of which the 
discourse often confines itself ; the occasional obscurity of the 
course of thought which yet seldom wanders from the immediate 
subject of discussion — all these indicate a stage of civilisation 
in which social intercourse is but little developed. This un 
adorned conjunction of occurrences and actions between which 
we may in imagination interpolate unspoken mental agitation, 
is sometimes favourable to the loftiness of poetic representa- 
tion ; but since life does not consist of a continuous chain of 
adventures and great deeds, the cheerful interest shown by 
Greek writers in all intermediate circumstances testifies to 
greater progress in general tolerant regard for and treatment 
of the small and apparently insignificant elements of life. 

And the Greeks knew what a treasure they had in their 
language. When their poets glance at the history of human 
development, they do not onjit to extol the endowment of 
speech as a great gift of the gods ; to be able to express him- 
self is the distinctive characteristic of man ; to understand 
things by their causes, and to guide men's souls by eloquence, 
is a fundamental thought of their later development. Homer 
can say nothing more bitter of the rude Cyclops than that 
they neither held markets nor had courts of justice, and that 
mo man troubled himself about his fellows. For the Greek 


all the real beauty of life arose from the most intense 
reciprocal action of mental powers in society ; unburdened by 
transmitted science, and troubling themselves little about the 
knowledge of foreign nations, this dialectic people could 
attribute an importance to skill in the art of speaking which 
no later and dissimilar periods could honestly do, although 
even here unintelligent imitation has not been wanting. 

The effect of this mental disposition, which so early turned 
to the observation and cultivation of human powers, expecting 
everything from their development, was shown even in the 
attitude of the Greek mind towards Nature. The penetrating 
glance of the Greeks could not^ fail to perceive either the 
beauty of their country or the significant characteristics of 
physical Nature, which in mysterious symbolism reflect spiritual 
life and its vicissitudes ; even their mythology makes natural 
pbaenomena the background and source of religious thought in 
the broadest and fullest way ; their poetry, by its wealth of 
clearly drawn comparisons, convinces us of the impression 
which the peculiarities of natural scenery made upon them, 
in an incidental sort of way ; the very situation of their cities 
and places of assembly, theatres, and circuses, show how they 
felt the value of fine and beautiful natural surroundings, and 
wide prospects. But Nature affected them chiefly as the setting 
of their own lives, and they sought its beauty in the enjoyment 
of the mood which it produces in us, and regarded its produc- 
tions as means of our refreshment and amusement rather than 
sought to live in sympathy with the mysterious life of Nature 
itself. It seemed to them, when all was said, that flowers had 
greater value as a wreath around some man's head than on 
the stalk where they bloom in solitude ; and the saying that 
Plato puts into the mouth of Socrates — that men taught him, 
but that trees taught him not — certainly expresses the 
universal Greek feeling that the value of human society is far 
above any absorption in the beauty of Nature. Neither 
painting nor poetry showed much favour to the beauty of 
landscape ; where the delineation of natural scenery can throw 
light upon men's feelings, we see all the poets, from Homer 



downwards, able to delineate it in a masterly way with a few 
impressive touches ; but it would have been nothing to them 
unless the enjoyment of some beholder had supplied the final 
life-giving condition. The words with which Homer con- 
cludes his description of a starry night in his wonderfully 
beautiful and striking way — And from his heart the shepherd 
doth rejoice — give the unchanging keynote of the Greek 
temper, which not only regarded all the glory of the heavens 
as merely revolving round the stationary earth, but also held 
that all the good things of earth were destined only for the 
adornment of human existence. 

But all the more perfectly on this account did the Greeks 
make a real home of the earth, which was to them merely the 
stage on which was played the drama of human life. In this 
they were favoured by the situation of their country. If they 
had been buried in a primeval forest, without ever being able 
to take a comprehensive view of the situations of adjacent 
places, their sagacity would have developed in other directions ; 
it is probable that if they had never been able to take wide 
and comprehensive views in the visible world, they would 
never have been able to do so in the world of thought. But 
where, on the contrary, a bright, clear atmosphere reveals 
immeasurable distances, where the eye reaches from coast to 
coast, where the view from a mountain-top embraces seas and 
the straits (flowing between promontories) which unite them, 
and numerous human settlements along the shores — there alone 
does it seem as though the light of heaven really fulfilled its 
end, illuminating all parts of the world with the lucidity 
which can result only from showing the connection existing 
between tliem. A susceptible race of men could not dwell 
from their youth up amid such a breadth and wealth of bright 
and varied scenes without having the sense of spatial order 
sharpened, and with it the feeling for clearness and intelligi- 
bility of all kinds. Even in the Homeric songs we are 
surprised by the precision of geographic knowledge as long as 
the scene of the story is laid in regions which at that time 
we know to have been within the reach of navi-iation. There is 


hardly a town which is not brought before us as a familiar 
locality by some permanent characteristic of its situation — it is 
on the sea, or in a valley watered by some river, or on a rocky 
promontory ; the routes of travellers are described with a 
distinctness which teaches us that even then commerce had 
established permanent paths, and that the sea-roads were 
familiarly known. The world which presented itself to the 
Greeks was different from the inland forest-covered regions 
known to our forefathers ; the Ehine and the Danube flow 
through the world of the Nibelungenlied like two isolated 
threads of silver, in the neighbourhood of which there is 
light ; but if any warlike expedition takes the heroes of the 
song to a distance from these, indistinctness of geographical 
knowledge closes like trackless night around them. 

And finally, the Greeks were, from an intellectual point of 
view, in full possession of this country with the physical 
features of which they were so well acquainted. With every 
locality that was marked out in any way, tradition had con- 
nected stories of the gods and heroes, and had made them 
sacred ; and to these their stirring historical life soon joined 
the remembrance of great deeds performed by mortals. Thus 
they were one with their country, and found satisfaction in 
the soil itself; what lay beyond the limits of their native 
land did indeed rouse a spirit of acquisitive enterprise, but 
did not disturb their aesthetic imagination ; the abode of the 
gods was still within their reach upon Olympus, which was 
not beyond the boundary of their horizon, and at the extreme 
limit of which lay the entrance to the nether world ; all 
beyond might continue a chaos, peopled with fabulous beings 
by which their native country was surrounded as by an 
ornamental framework without order or significance. The 
Hebrews were the only other nation that attained to anything 
like a similar conception; the smallness of their country, the 
never-forgotten connection of their tribes, the oneness of their 
sacred traditions, shed upon Palestine too, that charm of an 
historic light in which numerous coexistent points stand out 
in the distinctness of their reciprocal relations. 



A great part of the charm exercised upon us by pictures of 
ancieut life depends upon the favour of Nature, which still 
endows the southern countries of our continent with a 
joyousness of life to which the north can never attain. In 
their mild climate, which did not require that man should be 
shut off from Nature, the Greeks who, to begin with, were a 
finely-made race, learnt to regard nobility of form, dignity of 
carriage, and grace of movement as among the good things of 
life and the ends of education, in addition to that bodily 
strength and vigour the cultivation of which is common to 
all early civilisations. It is superfluous to praise what is 
admirable in all this, and useless to investigate how far the 
reality corresponded to the pictures drawn by partial fancy 
when it peoples every rood of Greek soil with living forms of 
statuesque beauty. The native poets with their love of satire 
have taken care to leave behind them testimonies of the 
frequent occurrence of ugliness and awkwardness. But 
these do not alter our general impression ; the Greeks present 
to all succeeding ages exemplars of humau beauty; and 
probably as long as the world lasts the Spartans at Thermo- 
pylae, the Athenians at Marathon and Sal amis, the death of 
Socrates, and the kingly figure of Alexander the Great will 
continue to be celebrated as classic examples of self-sacrifice, of 
heroic courage, and of the spirit of enterprise. Not that other 
times have not produced numerous examples of similar deeds 
performed to some extent from nobler motives ; but nowhere, 
except in Greek life, has the intrinsic worth of the action 
been so perfectly manifested with a simple beauty which does 
not need that imagination should separate from it any perverse 
strangeness of exterior circumstance before enjoying the essence. 

Such an artistic form had already been given to life when 
art, reaching the period of its greatest perfection almost 
simultaneously with the fulness of political maturity, gathered 
up as it were this living beauty, and reflected it back again 
upon life. My intention is not to sketch here, even in out- 
line, its magnificent development ; it is sufficie::it to indicate 
what art was in relation to life. 




Among the greatest and most attractive characteristics of 
the Greek mind was that mobility of fancy which can become 
absorbed in the intrinsic worth of any phsenomenon, and 
which, while it did not bring with it any permanent bias of 
disposition, could sympathize with and accommodate itself to 
the changing nature of objects and of events. Yet this 
characteristic has a limit — not only that limit which is in 
itself a glory, the indefinable but perfectly distinct character 
which marks out the most varied productions of Greek art 
as having a common national stamp — but also another and 
different limit, which it would be idle to blame and perverse 
to imitate. That is, it was not really the intrinsic worth of 
things which the Greeks sought ; everything was of value to 
them only in as far as it could be made instrumental to human 
development. Everything which could be utilized to produce 
a perfectly harmonious constitution of man's whole mental 
and physical nature, everything which could be permanently 
expressed in this constitution, or could through it receive some 
fresh manifestation, aroused their artistic imitative sympathy ; 
they were much less inclined to that which in its over- 
powering profundity and incalculableness left no alternative 
but contemplative subjection and submission. 

"We do not know their music, a fortunate circumstance 
which has left room for modern times to become great in this 
one art at least ; but according to all that their authors have 
said on the subject, it was measure and harmony that they 
principally esteemed in music ; they considered that those 
were the elements which one might expect to exercise a 
useful influence upon the temperament, disposition, and whole 
conscious life of man, the improved mental condition thus 
induced expressing itself in gesture, carriage, and action. 
Hence nothing was more natural than the close connection of 
ancient music with dancing ; the graceful and objectless move- 
ment of the limbs in the dance was the simplest and most 
sensuous expression and proof of the fact that the beauty felt 
in musical sound was not overpowering to human nature, but 
tliat on the contrary man could appropriate music as having 


special affinity with his own nature, and could reproduce it W 
the help of bodily organs. With regard to the development 
of any melody, this capacity does not count for much ; the 
connection between successive phrases in a really beautiful 
musical composition carries us away from the well-known and 
familiar forms of our own existence into the wide ocean of a 
universal life in which all individual forms are dissolved ; 
isolated turns and phrases may indeed charm by reminding 
is that even this beauty of sound is not wholly incapable of 
being reflected in human life ; but taking it as a whole, we 
find that we have no choice but to give ourselves up to it 
with unreserved self-surrender ; the agitation which it arouses 
may pass off in tears, but the content of this agitation cannot 
be presented in tangible form. Either this open sea of 
universality to which music leads us was avoided by the 
Greeks, or the error of venturing upon it was disapproved of 
by their aesthetes. The extremely meagre thoughts concern- 
ing music which are expressed with singular unanimity by 
their philosophers make it seem improbable that any striking 
degree of beauty had been developed in the actual practice of 
the art; on the contrary, the fashion in which (in the same 
matter-of-fact way in which one would draw up a catalogue 
of the most familiar objects) they set down definite mental 
conditions as effects which might always be expected to be 
produced by definite styles of melody, or hoped by State 
regulation of the kind of music to be cultivated, to establish a 
disposition favourable to the existing constitution — all this 
indicates that poverty of artistic content which commonly 
tries to make up for its deficiencies by doctrinaire over-estima- 
tion, analysis, and interpretation of that which has been 

Little has remained to us of all the wealth of song which 
Greece possessed. We have express testimony of that which 
we might have guessed — namely that among the ancient 
Greeks, as among all other nations, mothers sang lullabies to 
their little ones, and sailors lightened their toilsome rowing, 
and shepherd and peasant shortened the lingering hours with 


song ; but this popular poesy has not been transmitted to us. 
The kind of Greek song which we know and which is framed 
according to the rules of art, presents two peculiar features. 
One is a predilection for the picturesque presentation of 
events which are set before us like a succession of living 
pictures, not with epic detail but effectively condensed ; not so 
much related as brought into sudden relief by masterly 
delineation of the main outlines ; not presented with the 
measured symmetry of epic verse, but seeking appropriate 
living expression in passionate rhythm. The inclination to 
make fable prominent may have a deeply-rooted cause in the 
fact that all human thought and action and life and suffering 
seemed incapable of being a worthy subject of poetry unless 
it had types and likenesses in the Olympian world and in 
mythology from which poetic imagery was ordinarily bor- 
rowed; on the other hand, it was no doubt a liking for 
plastic sensible phaenomena which led Greek fancy not to 
linger in immediate contemplation of the content of feeling, 
but to illustrate it indirectly by looking at living examples. 
The other characteristic is the habit of storing up the outcome 
of poetic excitement in some general proposition or some 
proverb of practical wisdom — and thus in this way, too, taking 
refuge from the agitation of emotion in the definiteness and 
calm of a general conviction. It is difficult to estimate 
impartially this gnomic element, which in Pindar and in the 
choruses of the tragic poets continually alternates with graphic 
historic pictures. There is no doubt deep meaning in the 
trite expressions and commonplaces with which in practice 
we often try to brace ourselves in joy and sorrow ; they could 
not have become commonplaces if they did not include 
something which, rightly understood, would suffice to com- 
pletely calm our agitation. Now if the poet insensibly guides 
us in such a way that, as through a rift in a cloud, the content 
(still existent) of reflection which has thus grown into habit, 
suddenly appears to us in all its original heartfelt meaning, he 
will produce the finest possible effect by words and thoughts 
V'hich in their insignificance seem to the uninitiated to be the 


most commonplace on earth. We not unfrequently meet this 
lofty and earnest beauty in the songs of Pindar and the tragic 
poets ; but sometimes only its external form is present, and 
poesy hovers about the line beyond which what is really prose 
becomes almost exalted into poetry by the solemnity with 
which it gives itself out as such. Greek lyric poetry moving 
thus between the two poles of gorgeous historic painting and 
impressive admonition, does not exhibit much of the true 
spirit of song. In the numerous remains of this lyric 
poetry which we possess, we hear many a tone sweet or 
beautiful or passionate or intense, but that which is expressed 
in them is the mere human beauty of man's nature. All the 
charm and tenderness and graceful dignity exhibited by 
favourable specimens of the race — especially in as far as all 
this finds sensuous expression in gesture and demeanour — ■ 
exercised a strong influence upon the Greek mind, and was 
apprehended and imitated by their artistic imagination. But 
this imagination does not reveal to us the unfathomable depths 
of the individual soul, and the incalculable fashion in which 
it apprehends the world. 

To illustrate some universal truth of practical experience 
by reference to great examples was the task undertaken by 
the Greek drama also, and beside this task the full delineation 
of human character and of the special justice which brings to 
each his own peculiar and appropriate doom falls noticeably 
into the background. As mythology had once for all set out 
the meaning of the heroic characters in the large firm out- 
lines which the nature of the case demanded, the drama, with- 
out any great liking for mythology, borrowed from it, in order 
to elaborate into characteristic individual forms these general 
sketches of human dispositions and destinies. This can 
hardly be denied unless we apply different standards to old 
and to new ; trying in the first case with microscopic acuteness 
of vision to jprove by instances the beauty of works of art, and 
reserving for modern art an inexorable appeal to the immediate 
impression produced, which alone is competent to decide how 
far the beauty that has been proved to exist is aesthetically 



effective. As regards the influence of art upon life, which ia 
what we are here considering, this peculiarity of the Greek 
drama was an advantage. The subtle psychological analysis 
and delineation which in the masterpieces of modern dramatic 
art seeks to dive into the innermost recesses of the human 
heart, can never hope to be universally understood, nor even 
to meet, in narrower circles, with uniform and harmonious 
comprehension; but antiquity, ignoring those inexhaustible 
depths and taking characters that all could understand, 
depicted the destinies of mankind with broad firm , strokes 
wliich found appreciative comprehension in the living sym- 
pathy of the people. And it did this all the more because 
both subject and mode of treatment were determined by 
ancient custom ; the poet was not at liberty either to find his 
heroes in any obscure corner of the world, or to make any 
strangeness of his own humour the keynote of his representa- 
tion. The fact that the persons of tragedy M'ere always taken 
from the circle of native heroes ; the repetition of the same 
story by various authors ; the maintenance of the national 
philosophic views which yet allowed the special qualities of 
individual poets to make themselves felt — all this had a 
steady educative influence upon the people, and led it by a 
definite series of aesthetic presentations, without confusing 
multiplicity, to a capacity of judgment which has never since 
been so widely diffused as it was then at Athens. 

Among the arts that deal with form, painting seems to 
have had least influence upon the national life, great as may 
have been the height of artistic development to which it had 
attained ; of infinitely more importance was the constant 
sight of the noble and ideal forms which Greek sculpture, 
with a masterly perfection which has never since been 
reached, set before the eyes of the people. Having developed 
to this degree, the art of sculpture busied itself about the 
most insignificant as well as the most important tasks. To 
us, who admire the isolated remains, the thought expressed 
by many an ancient work of art seems to be too slight in 
comparison with the labour expended in presenting it in 


sculpture; but such works were tlien intended to serve 
as fitting adornments of edifices the most insignificant 
details of which were pervaded by a coherent idea of har- 
monious beauty of form, and within the walls of which there 
' paced figures whose costume, ornaments, and gesture seemed 
like the living embodiment of the same idea. And from 
what was finest and most beautiful in this world of art the 
people were not excluded ; traditional custom turned the 
attention of creative art to the temples, the places of 
public congregation ; for the private dwellings of citizens 
more modest adornment was thought sufficient. In those 
places which the nation regarded as sacred, in those festivals 
/ in the arrangement of which no other nation has come up 
/ to the Greeks, life was more thoroughly pervaded by all the 
^ splendour of art than it has been in any other age ; the 
statues of the gods seemed to live among their worshippers ; 
music and dance appeared to be the natural expression of 
the mood aroused by the words of the sacred songs, and in 
looking on at theatrical representations the excitement of 
feeling passed into a more calm contemplation of human 
destinies, a mental condition permanently raised above the 
commonplaces of daily life. And the Greeks thus lived 
I and moved, and as it were had their being in beauty, without 
j that deification of art which is so common in our time ; \ 
they did indeed deify beauty, but not the human activity 
by which it was produced. They did not even possess any 
word by which art might be essentially distinguished from 
any handicraft skill; so self-evident did it seem to them 
that every free-born soul is capable of appreciating beauty, 
and needs for producing beauty no more mysterious endow- 
ment than that which in every kind of occupation distinguishes 
productive from receptive talent. 

§ 4. When the languages of the Greeks and Eomans, 
respectively, are compared, that of the latter seems the less 
flexible. If the Greek language forms its words in such a 
way that each may be connected without break with those 
that precede and follow, Latin seems to be animated by an 


almost directly contrary endeavour. The vowel endings are 
less numerous, the frequent inflexional terminations in t, m, 
and nt necessitate slower enunciation owing to their inca- 
pacity of blending with most words that begin with mutes, 
and give the impression of a sort of individual reserve with 
which each word excludes its neighbour in self-contained 
isolation. And the vowel changes have a more impressive 
effect, since the phonic system of the Eomans contains a 
smaller number of differences and these more sharply con- 
trasted, and there are lacking many intermediate sounds 
which give gradations of light and shade to Greek speech. 
The Eomans gave up the article ; each word appears as a solid 
and independent whole without this prop ; the conjugations 
have fewer forms, and the declensions are only apparently 
fuller because of their having retained the ablative. Tor as 
compared with the Greek determination by prepositions, which 
the Eomans neither used so much nor possessed in such 
abundance, the ablative hardly does more than indicate the 
existence of some relation, leaving it to the hearer to guess, 
within wide limits, the more definite nature of that relation. 
The language is still poorer in those particles so frequently 
used in Greek to indicate the subtle contrasts, connections, 
limitations, and links between the different ideas of the 
speaker, the expression of which contributes little towards 
the communication of matter of fact, but helps greatly to 
make clear the mood and the subjective view of the com- 
municator. Hence, as compared with the soft drapery of 
Greek speech which revealed the most trifling modifications of 
thought, the Latin language has a sterner aspect ; it groups 
together more simply and concisely the items of fact, ex- 
pecting the hearer to add that which is unexpressed. And 
yet this mode of speech is not less expressive and impressive, 
producing its effect by the position of the words, the peculiar 
construction of sentences, and even by the omission of ex- 
pressions which might have been expected. The gestures 
which in other cases are an accompaniment of speech, and 
can make clear the meaning of the most imperfect language, 
VOL. IL 2d 


are here contained, in a certain fashion, in the very structure 
of the sentences ; these characteristic forms of construction 
supplement the meagre melody of speech as with a clear 
harmonious accompaniment, and produce the impression 
of that stern pomp and suppressed passion, which in the 
Latin language always invite the reader to declaim, and give 
the hearer the idea of a life full of power, and using its 
splendid resources with calm mastery. 

It is customary to estimate at a low value the artistic 
endowment of the Eomans as compared with that of the 
Greeks. Without disputing this judgment, which is well 
founded, we must yet attribute to that which they accom- 
plished (in harmony with the genius of their language) in 
this department also, an historical significance which, though 
different in kind from that which appertains to the art of 
the Greek nation, is hardly less important. The Greeks 
made up in clearness of perception and in constructive power 
what their imagination perhaps lacked in warmth and in- 
tensity of feeling. As no living expression, no hidden 
excellence of proportion in the human form, and no beauty 
of attitude in the living subject was neglected by the sculptor's 
art among the Greeks, so their poetry with lucid freshness 
reflected all the habits of mental life, as well as external 
occurrences. It could enter into any circumstances with a 
flexible sympathy which enabled it to represent how these 
circumstances would affect the generality of men ; it repro- 
duced with the characteristic colouring every feeling of pain 
or happiness commonly resulting from the experiences of 
life in the human mind ; it never lost itself amid those 
obscure movements of distinctively individual emotion, which 
as they are to one mind inevitable are to another unintelli 
gible ; it is nowhere disturbed by an intense longing to reach 
beyond life as it is, to a higher peace — to a sacred joy in 
life and an unforced equanimity in the contemplation of it, 

The mind of the Eomans seems to have been differently 
constituted. More phlegmatic, and with less airiness of 
imagination, they could less easily be satisfied by the many- 




hued brightness of life, behind which their religious belief 
discerned a network of obscure connections between things — 
enigmatical relations which were the more oppressive to 
human life since no glory of redeeming beauty was shed 
upon them (as it was in the case of the Greeks) by a circle of 
divinities who were to them as living realities, and from 
whose human-like customs these connections of things might 
become intelligible. Also in social intercourse the Eomans 
exhibited a greater sense of their own individual personality 
and of the mysteriousness of alien personality ; the Greeks 
felt themselves and regarded each other far more as mere 
specimens of their kind, whose ambition might intelligibly be 
directed to superior excellence in performances which might 
be severally compared, but not to the attainment of some- 
thing unique in the individual. Thus there arose among the 
Eomans that reflective turn which obtained for their poetry, 
in the judgment of modern nations, a preference over the 
colder and more objective repose of Greek poetry which it 
did not quite deserve. For the greater warmth of their 
reflective and contemplative imagination lacked that power of 
artistic construction of which it required a specially large 
measure. Now if to a soul that is passionately stirred it is 
as unsatisfying to take things simply as they are, as it is 
impossible to fashiqn the restless content of the mind to the 
calm beauty of a nature not its own, there remains no alterna- 
tive but voluntary renunciation — such as seeks to secure 
to the soul that stands opposed to things a dignified com- 
posure and an unchanging demeanour, by warding off all 
disturbances from without and all outbreaks from within 
that might interfere with the braced and steady calm of 
manly firmness. This path of self-suppression was taken 
by the Eomans, and it led them to the development of a style 
of aesthetic representation which has permanent historic 

Unceremonious communication is not generally carefully 
precise in expression ; the order in which we give utterance 
to our thoughts concerning the connection of things is not 


always in correspondence with those thoughts themselves, 
for sudden stirrings of emotion hurry on our words in advance 
of the natural development of the subject, or force them back 
to a point which they ought to have passed. Greek speech 
abounds in such incoherences and looseness, of which the 
syntactic justification is often as difficult as the psychological 
justification is easy, and which in facile superabundance and 
in alternate sudden breaks and awkward additions reproduce 
the natural and often charming irregularity of living speech. 
The Latin style of expression is constructed with much 
more conscious design, and even where it imitates Greek 
models it does not simply follow the course of thought, but 
(aiming at orderliness and a completeness which gives due 
prominence to each essential relation, and omits what is 
I unessential) compresses the really important content in fixed 
and regular structural forms. Every other and perhaps every 
^ /, higher aesthetic superiority may belong to the Greek style, 
U^ but the Eoman style aims much more than it at an ideal 
• y*^ of Correctness, It is pervaded by the sense of an intrinsic 

'^ order in all things which may be made the subject of 

communication ; without entering into the variety of their 
nature with pliant imitative fancy, it seems under an obliga- 
tion to observe with regard to them general forms of order, 
which guarantee to their content, as it were, distant respect 
without slavish submission, and at the same time secure this 
respect from being violated by subjective caprice. 

In the practice of art among the Eomans, this characteristic 
is repeated under a variety of aspects. They copied all tho 
artistic forms of the Greeks, and always, even when they 
^^ /I borrowed matter as well as form, the copy in their hands 
became something quite different from the exemplar. Even 
in the older imitations of Greek plays, of which there still 
remain fragments, the sternness of the ancient Eoman 
character gives to the style a striking stamp of strength and 
J trustworthiness; as advancing civilisation permitted greater 
refinement of form. Elegance appeared as the distinguishing 
characteristic of Eoman art. The idea and name of elegance 




occur here for the first time, and later culture has learnt 
afresh to value the quality by contemplating the specimens of 
Eoman elegance which remain to us. There is no doubt that 
the Greeks possessed a gift of greater artistic value in their 
capacity of becoming absorbed in the full beauty of things ] 
without the intervention of reflection, and of reproducing that 1 
beauty with all the naturalness suggestive of having lived and ) 
moved in it ; but in art, as in life, the higher does not so 
include the lower as to hinder the lower from developing to 
characteristic and irreplaceable worth if its evolution is 
allowed to proceed undisturbed. As the sharp-angled forms ^ 

of crystals when compared with the unanalysable grace of i 
flowers still retain their own inalienable charm, so the \ 
elegance of the Eomans holds its own beside the beauty ot 
the Greeks ; and taking our civilisation as a whole, the former \ 
could not without loss be replaced by the latter. 

The great master of elegance, Horace, has shown by precept |j. ^fc*'^ 
and example what it is. When he requires the poet to say 
what is ordinary after an unordinary fashion, what he asks for 
is neither an idle play of enigmatical designations nor useless 
pomp of words, but a kind of justice towards things with 
regard to which we are in the habit of being unjust. The 
dust under our feet arouses neither our attention nor our 
admiration ; yet the microscope finds in it crystalline and ' ^ 
vegetable matters, the characteristic forms of which would 
captivate us if the confused intermixture in which it all appears 
to our eyes did not prevent our perceiving and distinguishing. 
In the same way the world and life are full of events, the 
frequent occurrence of which has diminished their value in 
our estimation, or to the characteristic significance of which 
we can only give an indifferent, distant, sidelong glance, 
because of the eagerness with which — and rightly — we press 
forward towards goals of more importance. It would only be 
a fresh injustice to bring forward and distinguish with special 
preference these things which have hitherto been unjustly 
neglected ; what is just is, not to pass them over with the \ 
trite and well-worn phrases of everyday usage, but as we observe \ 






A^y them and then pass on, to suggest the forgotten value which 
they conceal by some uncommon turn of expression prompted 
by happy insight. The appertaining of vi^hat is small and 
insicmificant and confused to the same world that holds what 
is grand and beautiful and distinct, is brought into notice by 
the careful aad concise style to which we have referred, 
without offending against truth by artificial enhancing of 
insignificant values. This is what Horace calls the un- 
ordinary expression of what is ordinary, and with this 
artistic intention which aims at elegance, the means which he 
uses are connected. So his poetic art — like that of others — 
employs imagery not merely to give a twofold expression to 
the same content, and also not merely — by help of the 
palpable plainness of some simile — to give clearness to a 
thought that is difficult to set forth; finally, it does not 
merely reckon upon the probability that feelings which such 
a simile may excite (and which attach themselves spontaneously 
to it) may apply also to the object concerning which it is used, 
without any express incentive — an incentive which, in fact, it 
would not be possible for the poetiy to convey in express terms: 
on the contrary, by exhibiting the one event that it wishes to 
emphasize by means of other and similar events, it abolishes the 
isolation of the one, and shows it forth as entitled to constitute 
part of a world in which the most essential features of its 
character occur and are of value, in other places and under 
other circumstances, forming part of the general plan of the 
whole. Eoman fancy uses such similes with great precision ; 
by the perfect finish of its brief figurative expressions, a feeling 
of certainty and assurance is awakened, and this feeling 
is strengthened by the very strangeness of the con- 
struction which often essays to combine ideas from other 
than the ordinary standpoint. For the success of these 
essays convinces us of the steady coherence between the 
parts of the thinkable world ; since this, being considered in a 
variety of aspects, yet always appears as a self-contained 
whole. The same end is served by many analogous means — 
the sparing use of ornamental predicates, the due proportion 


in tlieir distribution, and in the general grouping of ideas 
between which a musical or artistic play of connections and 
contrasts is plainly aimed at ; and lastly, the predilection for 
working out a thought to that statuesque simplicity in which -\ ' 
— all that is unnecessary having been got rid of, and all that is | 
necessary having been brought into the sharpest relief — the 
thought is presented to us as the classical expression for all 
time, both of the nature of the object of thought and of the 
right way of regarding it. 

Plenty of empty brilliancy of form has no doubt resulted 
from the following of these rules by poorly endowed poets ; 
but this form of procedure furnishes a favourable testimony 
to the vitality and character of the people ; it reveals even in 
the productions of depraved ages and unruly spirits the back- 
ground of a grand discipline of thought which could never be 
wholly broken. And in other respects also Roman elegance ^-^xi "^ 
is not to be despised in comparison with Greek beauty. 
Certainly its chief endeavour is to elevate and give weight to /^ 
what is in itself small and slight and insignificant, in order to 
give to our temper and our philosophic views such equable- , 
ness of tone as characterizes a good picture, and it is true that 
with this aim it minifies what is great ; in place of the over- i 
powering tones of living passion, it generally substitutes the 
colder reflection in which contemplative thought considers the 
gain and loss of a struggle which has already come to a 
conclusion. But when such procedure cannot attain the 
highest poetry, it may yet give an air of grandeur to the 
prose of life. Society, as well as intercourse with Nature, 
produces innumerable situations from which all really striking 
beauty has wholly disappeared; means to an end which are 
in themselves indifferent, and the attention which they require 
place keenly felt obstacles in the way of mental activity ; a 
world of worthless externalities bars the way to that for 
which our soul longs. Where any occurrence of domestic or 
public life may be transfigured, either by its own content or 
by immediate connection with a world of aesthetic or religious 
thought, the Greeks have not failed to consecrate it thus in 


a striking manner; but to give interest and an air of 
stateliness to that prose of life which obstinately refuses to 
be transformed into anything but prose, and to do this by the 
mere mode of treatment adopted, was a task the merit of 
accomplishing which belonged to the Eomans. Their mode of 
thought, which in art created the special notion of elegance, 
introduced into life a not less special dignity in the formal 
treatment of all kinds of subjects. With the declining 
vitality of the nation, reverence for the sacredness of legal 
institutions (once the fairest flower of Eoman thought) became 
weakened, and only ceremonial and the external regulation of 
splendid ostentation continued to receive further develop- 
ment ; and these themselves were elements which, after the 
fall of the empire, helped (amid the chaos which characterized 
the beginning of a new order of international life) to pre- 
serve the thought that everything has some particular mode 
which, and which only, is right for it. From this legacy left 
by the Eomans the men of succeeding centuries derived a 
large part of that which gave beauty to their life ; and that 
portion of this legacy of which we are the historic heirs, stUl 
works more powerfully within us than the artistically more 
,, important heritage that we have received from the Greeks, 
1^ which affects us by rousing us to conscious imitation. 
Numerous forms of expression which have been transplanted 
into modern languages, the character of our public solemnities 
and the difficulty on all such occasions (and for inscriptions 
on monuments, records of solemn ceremonies, or brief and 
pregnant sayings) of replacing the statuesque style of 
Eoman speech and custom by substitutes of home growth — 
all this still bears witness to the lasting influence of Eoman 
civilisation — an influence from which, even now, we have 
\ scarcely begun to try and emancipate ourselves, and for the 
j advantages of which we do not as yet know any adequate 

§ 5. Between the fall of the ancient world and our own 
times, the temper, morality, and aesthetic feelings of mankind 
have experienced many changes, which must be passed ovel 


in silence by our brief survey, which is concerned only with 

the lasting results of these developments. There were set 

before imagination increasingly difficult tasks, which roused it 

to passionate agitation; but there was an absence of those 

favouring conditions which in the age of classic antiquity 

made it possible to impress upon life a stamp of harmonious /j/' 


To the ancients the starting-point and goal of all human en- 
deavours were, as a whole, plain. Nature lay before them as the 
only reality ; in unceasing creation, which is its very essence, 
and without pursuing ends situated beyond the sphere of its 
phsenomena, it brought forth even the human race, as the 
fairest among its perishable blossoms ; that man should live in 
harmony with Nature was the common conclusion at which 
the ancients, setting out from the most various premises, 
had arrived. Excellence of national disposition and the 
intellectual candour of an active spirit of investigation pre- 
vented this adherence to Nature from being carried out by 
obedience to every rude and blind impulse, and every noble 
and attractive quality of the race was cherished as a distinc- 
tive endowment by which Nature prescribed to man a path 
which leads beyond the limits of the animal world ; to the 
fair ideal of humanity thus formed, a rich and harmonious 
development of characteristic morality and custom was insured 
by an almost undisturbed national evolution. But no recog- 
nised aims lay beyond ; the course of events might pursue the 
same round for ever and ever ; Nature might go on to eternity 
producing fresh relays of short-lived mortals, each generation 
of whom, after having exhausted the good things which its 
organization enabled it to develop and to enjoy, would be 
reabsorbed into the same universal Nature. Now doubtless 
there will always be a secret contradiction between this 
sacrifice of self to Nature and its transitoriness, and a civilisa- 
tion which, the more noble the aims which it recognises, 
only presupposes the more an eternal preservation of all that 
is good ; the impetus of eager and exuberant activity easily 
carries men past unsolved problems which press upon those 





who have leisure. So that antiquity did not in theory ovei 
come the discrepancy in its philosophic view, but neither did 
it allow this discrepancy to influence its temper. It neither 
sought nor found that higher world, into the eternity of which 
the transitoriness of this debouches; yet it did not, like 
oriental pantheism, take pleasure in extolling the frailty of the 
individual. A happy talent for making the most of mundane 
existence, and pleasure in the increasing success of efforts in 
that direction, helped to compensate for the great deprivation 
of not recognising any significance beyond that of a mere 
passing natural occurrence in even the very highest of its 
works, that is, in the cultured development of human life. 
As long as the creative activity of antiquity traversed an 
ascending path, and as art and political life were fruitful in 
the production of new forms expressive of the ideal of the age, 
while historical circumstances were favourable to attempts at 
their realization, so long the still impetuous general movement 
of civilisation carried men safely over the weak place in their 
philosophy, and the fits of doubt and despair which appeared 
in isolated minds and at isolated moments, had little influence 
upon the general temper. In course of time such favouring 
conditions failed, and antiquity, having exhausted its creative 
strength, developed uncertain, dissatisfied, contradictory tempers 
which attacked the hitherto received philosophy on all sides. 

Another foundation had from the beginning been given 
by Christianity to the new civilisation which was to grow up 
upon the ruins of that which was passing away. Christianity 
had demolished the calm self-sufficingness of the secular 
world ; the life of humanity which to the ancients seemed like 
a never-ending uniform stream, was by it compressed into 
a course of stern dramatic development between the two events 
of the Creation and the Last Judgment, and (as compared 
with the Kingdom of Heaven) depressed to a mere brief stage 
of transition ; that to which man was destined no longer 
appeared as the goal at which our being naturally aims, but 
was regarded as attainable only by conflict with innate im- 
pulses, of which the noblest seemed to be hardly more than 


splendid vices ; great Nature herself was no longer considered 
as the sole cause of things or the mighty Mother of all, but 
merely as an instrument in the hand of Providence ; and 
even to this vocation she was thought to have been untrue — 
the intrusion of sin had distorted her features, and there was 
in her a mingling of memories of what was divine with inex- 
plicable self-will and the seductive charm of evil powers. 
These richly coloured pictures of a vast cosmic history 
entered perhaps more generally and deeply into the imagi- 
nation of the people of the Middle Ages than the spiritual 
content of Christianity did into their heart ; and they did not 
have merely the same effect as other similar oriental pictures 
which afford us glimpses of the beginning and end of the 
world hovering in mythic obscurity at inconceivable distances 
of time. In times of historic light — times of which the detailed 
outlines were recognisable — there had happened the greatest 
marvel in the providential guidance of the world ; bringing with 
it into its own dazzling reality, all connected circumstances 
whether past or future, making them look as if they had 
either just happened or were just about to happen. Men 
did not see symbols, with regard to which they were uncertain 
as to how much was figurative and how much real and serious, 
but they actually stood in the current of universal history and 
felt themselves carried forward by it. 

Thus, whilst antiquity only cared to see with the eye of 
intuition what things were, and whither their development 
was tending, the imagination of the new age developed a 
taste for subtle inquiry ; it distinguished everywhere between 
what things appear and what they signify or what they are 
a means to ; life was to be ordered after a pattern, the sole 
content of which had first to be discovered by intei-preting an 
ideal that soared high above all reality ; but resigned obedience 
to the ordering of this life had at the same time to struggle 
with the discouragement constantly arising from a conscious- 
ness of the merely conditional value and temporariness of all 
earthly existence ; finally, this diflBcult task had fallen to the 
lot of nations which were not supported by any heritage of 


long-accustomed civilisation. Christianity did not imme 
ately supply this want ; it had indeed ennobled from within r- 
the developed forms of ancient life as long as these lasted ; 
but systematizing ideas capable of furnishing a foundation for 
new constructions, could not be easily obtained from its 
simple ideal content. Perhaps it is rather the case that all 
the characteristic contrasts of the Middle Ages were held 
together by the fact, that the vigour with which they 
grasped a high ideal lacked all thoroughly developed insight 
into the articulation of the instruments necessary to prepare 
a place for it in the world of reality. With the aim of 
antiquity — to develop what Nature prescribes — was given 
also the way by which that aim might be reached ; but 
the new ideal of sanctification towards the attainment of 
which all Nature affords no aid, left the question. What shall 
we do to be saved ? without any such definite answer. 
Proximate ends, the earthly vocation of men, admitted of 
various interpretations ; salvation might be sought in various 
ways. Yet neither in penitential aversion from all the 
interests of earthly life nor in the excitement of knightly 
combat was full satisfaction found ; both these modes of 
life were at the best conflicts with threatening evils ; but 
they were not productive of any material gain which 
could be cherished and guarded; just as little was labou 
capable of setting all longing at rest ; occupied by the 
pressing needs of life which were regarded as being necessary 
only on account of earthly imperfection, labour for a long 
while felt a sense of its own meanness and could not 
regard itself as direct service in the work of sanctification. 
Thus human life attained to no clear views concerning its 
earthly tasks ; it was the reconstruction of society which 
gradually, at first, toned down the excitement of the prejudice, 
which made men think that they must do once for all in 
this life work which had an inalienable place in the universal 
order ; instead of feeling themselves called upon to be con- 
scious participants in the construction of the great universal 
fabric, men learnt afresh the lesson of valuing every unim- 


portant situation resulting from human intercourse as afford- 
ing scope for the exercise of moral strength, and learnt not 
to seek in life anything more lofty than it is capable of 

Thus there had not been developed a generally received 
type of human culture ; but every rank and condition had its 
own code of morals, and sought in the exact observance of 
transmitted ordinances an historical justification of its mode 
of life, in place of that ideal justification which it lacked. 
There was never a greater multiplicity of forms and observ- 
ances than in the intercourse of the society built up out of 
all these multifarious distinct elements ; but this very state of 
things corresponded to the theoretic philosophy developed by 
the Middle Ages in contrast with antiquity. The eye of 
antiquity was captivated by that which is general and 
homogeneous in human life and in Nature, and which is 
ever recurring in inexhaustible variety of manifestation ; it 
made no great effort to comprehend the world as a whole. 
It was not possible for Christian imagination to have so 
much sympathy with this generality ; what it regarded as 
the really efficient agency in the world was not that nature 
of things which works homogeneously in a variety of subjects, 
but that divine Providence which has a special purpose with 
regard to every individual, and assigns to each his share 
in the building up of the whole. Minds were very earnestly 
directed to this unity of the world, which consisted in the 
congruence in one plan of innumerable individuals ; specu- 
lative philosophy as well as practical life neglected the 
region intervening between the Whole and the Individual — 
those generalities of homogeneous activities and simple laws 
by means of which alone the materials of any edifice can be 
combined into one whole. The knowledge handed down by 
tradition having become meagre, the educational curriculum 
of the Middle Ages sought to compress encyclopsedically the 
sum of all that was knowable into one great whole, in which 
the sciences were arranged in an order that corresponded to 
the place which the subject of each seemed to occupy in the 



divine plan of the universe. What was accomplished was 
far from being equal to what was designed ; but even the 
external forced and far - fetched concatenation which was 
brought about shows how vivid was the belief that all 
things are closely connected parts of a divine cosmic order 
— the unsubstantial truths of mathematics as well as human 
history and the rich variety of Nature in products and 
events. In this cosmic construction, which was regarded 
not as the simultaneous production of a manifold from a 
homogeneous cause but as the combination into one whole 
of the most heterogeneous members, a social system com- 
prising many varying codes and callings naturally found a 

This mode of thought which regarded nothing as self- 
contained, but considered everything as either significant of 
or connected with something else, could not favour impulses 
to aesthetic construction. An exaggerated leaning towards 
symbolism caused a disproportionate value to be set upon the 
significance of phsenomena, and weakened men's susceptibility 
to beauty of form, which depends more upon general laws of 
the reciprocal relation of several elements than upon the 
intellectual significance of the whole which these constitute. 
Delight in the splendid profuseness of life itself was foreign 
to this philosophic view, and would have remained foreign to 
the age also but that it is not possible for any philosophic 
view, however deeply rooted, to wholly alter the unvarying 
natural tendencies of the human race. So that the men of 

/ the Middle Ages, notwithstanding the oppressive solemnity of 
their idea of cosmic connection, had also a liking for fun and 
enjoyment; and notwithstanding their mania for symbolic 
distortion, took pleasure in self-sufficing beauty of form. But 
even in the imitative arts they did not attain to any origi- 

, nality in the reproduction of beauty ; for a long time sculpture 
and painting were mere vehicles for the expression of actual 
thoughts, feelings, or situations — aiming at first at mere con- 
ventional indication of their meaning, but afterwards at 
natural and powerful expression. At last art bethought 


itself that its productions ought not to be of merely commer- 
cial value, but should be developed to creations having a full, 
beautiful, and characteristic reality of their own. In architec- , 

ture alone — the activity of which does not, to so great an 
extent, presuppose unfettered and original skill — it was possible 
for works of great and special merit to be produced by imita- 
tion of existing models, and a sense of the complex beauty of 
proportion (a beauty susceptible of realization) both in the 
whole of an architectural production and in its details. Such 
works sometimes combine into clearly expressed unity a 
multitude of members differing from one another ; and some- 
times by adopting a principle of construction which seems 
rather suited to a picture or a landscape than to architecture, 
they recall that characteristic manifoldness of human life 
which it is difficult to take in at a glance. Poetry, as an art (c<^"^ 
of words, needed for its full evolution a considerable develop- 
ment of language, and this during a large portion of the 
Middle Ages was lacking ; for not only were the languages of 
some of the nations slow in becoming fixed, Latin remaining 
for a long time the instrument of communication among the 
learned, but the undeveloped state of society had still more 
influence in hindering the advance of language as the instru- 
ment of social intercourse. There lacked that cultured 
language which thinks and poetizes for us, and the thorough 
development of which, up to a certain point, is undoubtedly 
a necessary condition of complete perfection in poetic form. 
Profound feelings did unquestionably find powerful expression 
in national songs ; but even narrations which conformed to 
the rules of poetic art did not succeed in giving a perfect 
representation of the rich poetic content of ancient legends ; \\/ 
form remained inferior to content. 

And this was the general fate of the age. It lived a life 
full of poetic impulses from the strength of which it suffered ; 
but it was only in the mind of posterity that there was 
developed a comprehensive consciousness of what that age 
might have been to itself, if it had not been hindered by 
so many obstacles from recognising and realizing its ideal. 


As life began to take in a high degree an intelligible form, 
imagination, which always seeks to find its way by a short cut 
from the pursuit of common aims to the secret of the Eternal, 
turned back with a feeling of preference to the picture 
presented by the Middle Ages — or rather to the ideal antitype 
of this which it had constructed for itself. For indeed as a 
matter of historical fact this romantic temper in looking back 
could nowhere find such an age as that which it thus pre- 
ferred ; the actual Middle Ages were richer in good and in ill 
than the dreamy temper of romance, which everywhere sought 
the infinite in the finite, and turned away from intelligible 
ends — richer in real interests, the obstinate individuality of 
which was not wholly exhausted in symbolism ; and like- 
wise richer in natural barbarism and eccentric cruelty 
— that are the heritage of primitive savagery (which it 
took Christianity a long time to tame thoroughly) and 
of those fanatical wanderings to which a misunderstanding 
of great ideals commonly leads. But stiU this age has 
left to us a very important legacy, namely that dissatisfac- 
tion with what is merely phsenomenal and that longing for 
the infinite which give the keynote to the sesthetic temper 
of modern times and to its poetry ; although the age itself, 
mistaking the noblest sources of its life, not unfrequently 
imagines that it may become greater by imitating other ideals 
than by developing its own. 
j § 6. If we glance at the monuments of Eomanesque and 

! Gothic architecture, at the flourishing condition of painting in 
the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, at the progressive develop- 
ment of music and the treasures of poesy which the Eomance 
and Germanic nations of Europe, vying with one another, 
successively produced in rich abundance, we are convinced 
that the human race was not lacking either in susceptibility 
/ to beauty or in power of artistic construction at the period of 
^ transition from the Middle Ages to the modern era. A 
decision concerning the comparative greatness of these two 
endowments at this period and in antiquity finds equal 
hindrances in the difficulty of the subject itself and in the 



many prejudices that have been produced both naturally 
and artificially ; there will be more unanimity in the com- 
plaint that the echo which even the best of the more modern 
art found in real life appears to have been incomparably less 
than in antiquity, and even where considerable to have been 
of a less satisfying kind. For the Greeks at any rate appre- 
ciation and enjoyment of beauty were a substantial part of 
life ; and though no doubt the culture which makes men 
capable of both was unequally distributed among them, yet 
the less intelligent were surrounded, as by the atmosphere 
which they breathed, by a kind of artistic rhythm which 
had impressed its stamp even upon the customs of ordinary 
life. The gulf which separated the life of more modern 
nations from their art, ^vas wider ; men became accustomed 
to contemplate an ideal kingdom, far removed from living 
reality — a region which it was both possible and delightful 
to look up to, yet the contemplation of which could not be 
regarded as part of the proper business of life, but rather as 
a relaxation from it. It seemed to them that among the 
innumerable wonders which the universe contains, and in 
which men (incapable of examining more than a part of the 
whole) take a spontaneous interest, art is one — that it grows 
and blooms like an exotic plant, the marvellous productive 
impulses of which, deviating from all indigenous models, from 
time to time captivate and interest the fancy. 

We here find art not as yet detached from aU connection 
with religious, public, and social life, though the nature of the 
reciprocal contact shows its superficiality. In antiquity, 
religious worship was the living act of the national mind, to a 
great extent supplying poetry with its raison d'Stre, its content, 
and its form ; what art furnishes to us is formal powers (which 
it attributes to its own nature) that may be used to embellish 
religious worship ; even now, in moments of peril which 
rouse passionate feeling, it may rise to adequate expression of 
the national consciousness ; but in times of rest it finds no 
fixed popular ideal of morality and life from which to borrow 
the form and content of its productions, and there is put at 

VOL II. 2 E 


the service of its formal means of expression only one-sided 
party tendencies, or petty private interests, or capricious indi- 
vidual views of life ; it does not penetrate social life in such 
a way as to become as it were its very rhythm, but among 
the many dishes which society serves up to help while away 
the time, art also brings its contribution, which makes a 
change and is an assistance. It would be a misapprehension j 
■ of these remarks to take them for a denial of the real worth' 

/ of modern art or of the powerful effects which it produces j 
even under such unfavourable circumstances ; but we think it 
desirable to bring these circumstances into prominence. It 
would, however, be just as great a misapprehension to take, 
what we have said as applicable only to the dull multitude 

/ which has always been without appreciation of beauty; 
in order to understand all the barbarism of our attitude 

/ towards art, we must call to mind arrangements which, by 

I their commonness, have already wholly ceased to affect us 
j^ -^{'^' unpleasantly. We crowd pictures together, one above 
another, in galleries, so that the impressions received from 
them are mutually destructive ; the resolution to erect any 
great architectural work is followed regularly and as a matter 
of course by a discussion as to the style to be adopted, that 
point being regarded as an open question ; at concerts, whichi 
are given in places and at hours the choice of which is deter- 
mined by causes known only to the person who provides 
them, the hearer's soul is canied compendiously through a| 
whole series of masterpieces ; occasionally some quiet valleyy 
invaded by a troop of singers, without knowing why, suddenly^ 
hears chanted by a hundred voices the praises of its modest 
violets which bloomed so long unseen:; the theatres are 
opened almost nightly, and it would be hard to say whethei 
the sentiments or the taste of the spectators are most culti- 
vated by their rich variety of material and style ; fortunately^ 
there is a less frequent recurrence of the pleasures of the! 
Carnival, which is as incoherent in itself as it is devoid of 
any living connection with life, and which has long age 
forgotten what originally gave rise to it. All these exhibit 


tions of varied beauty and artistic skill take place for their |/ 
owu sake, and do not mark any important epochs of human ^ 
life ; they connect the enjoyment of art with fixed times, in 
the same way as, at any rate, Protestant worship does divine 
service ; as in the one case the world is left to itself for six 
days, but on the seventh men " go to church," so in the other j^ 
case the prose of life is sharply marked off from moments of 
poetic exaltation. 

Of all this we can alter nothing. The modern spirit, i 
which analyses and investigates critically, has begun in all 
departments of life to seek for rational foundations ; with 
conscious calculation it aims at constructing society according 
to principles which do not leave to the once characteristically 
various multiplicity of social conditions either a raison d'itre 
or any significant task to accomplish ; the very course of 
events, by inevitably procuring recognition of the human 
rights of every kind of labour and of every labourer, has con- 
tributed to the levelling of society, even to uniformity of 
costume, and has fixed a moderate temper as giving the tone 
to social intercourse — a temper which has to be on its guard 
against the intrusion of elements of intense dulness, and 
which will scarcely allow that the external forms of life 
should be informed with beauty. The tendency of the general 
instinct seems rather to be towards entirely purging social 
intercourse from all poetic elements, which would appear as mere 
fantastic inequalities in its measured sobriety, and to reserve 
all excitement and enthusiasm for the retirement and solitude 
of the private life of individuals. Here the best part of our 
mental development is accustomed to take refuge more now 
than formerly, fearing all publicity as almost a profanation. -^ 

I have already remarked that this characteristic of our time 
does not in itself make it impossible for art to exercise great 
influence upon men's minds, nor for its productions to have a 
high degree of perfection; yet in both these respects the 
characteristic referred to is not without effect. The less the ) 
thought and style of art are the direct expression of popular > 
philosophy, and the more its works seem to be the arbitrary 



constructions of an imagination that is merely making un- 
restrained trials of its strength, the more easily does art evoke 
critical estimation of the merit of its representation, instead of 
sympathy with its content. There has been plenty of criti- 
cism in all ages ; and on the other hand I do not maintain 
that single-minded devotion to and enthusiasm for beauty are 
things unknown in our day, but a careful comparison ofj 
the productions of art (the business of which is to embody j 
beauty) is more frequently met with ; the peculiar pleasure of] 
connoisseurship, the satisfaction arising from intelligent know-| 
ledge of the instruments and tricks of art, their histories 
development and their application in particular cases, and 
half critical, half literary interest in the procedure of creative 

/ imagination — all this lessens our susceptibility to the imme- 
diate impression which it is yet the sole final aim of sucl 

^ imagination to produce. As the collector shuts up in port- 
folios the works of art which he has brought together, contenfel 
to possess them and to know what aesthetic impressions they] 
are capable of producing, if ever the hour of unrestrainec 
enjoyment should come, so all of us are in a general wayj 
■^- satisfied to possess an intelligent consciousness of the latent] 

power which beauty has to stir our souls ; sestheticism con- 
gratulates itself on increasing sympathy, in proportion as the] 
living emotion produced in the soul by the objects which it 
judges becomes rarer. 

Art itself has also suffered from the causes which have pro^ 
duced these conditions. Mankind have not, indeed, wantec 
for great geniuses since (from the end of the Middle Ages 
onwards) the increasing enlightenment and many-sidedness of 
social culture have afforded opportunities of evolution to such] 
minds. With the exception of sculpture and epic poetry] 
(essential conditions for the prosperous growth of which were 
lacking), there is no art which has not in this period reachec 
the highest point of development. A long series of the most 
illustrious names, versatile minds equal to the greatest of 
antiquity, adorn the annals of Italian art ; more solitarj 
indeed, but in the same degree more great, is the lofty genius 



of Shakespeare, whom Northern Europe can boast. Yet there 
is a frequent complaint that the productions of these powerful 
minds, together with those of the illustrious men of later 
times, are (notwithstanding their greatness) lacking in that 
classic perfection of form which has made antiquity the one 
epoch that can be regarded as affording models to the art of 
succeeding times. I hold that neither this praise of the 
ancients nor this blame of the moderns is just, if taken in the 
careless generality with which both are commonly expressed. 
The ancients seldom failed from individual caprice; their 
world of artistic thought and their favourite methods of 
treatment grew so directly from their popular philosophy, and 
were so generally established by tradition and constant 
practice, that even the less highly endowed minds attained to 
the harmonious use of artistic forms as easily as in our time 
they do to irreproachable social behaviour ; and this very 
harmony of treatment occurring in an immense number of 
works of art causes us to regard as among the essentially 
necessary conditions of beauty, much which even in the 
antique works themselves is mere conventional manner. 
Modern art lacks the advantage above referred to. It grew 
out of passionate needs of the soul, the satisfaction of which 
men had to search for since they did not find it ready to their 
hand, either in science as it then existed, or in social 
intercourse, which was in a state of disruption, or in the 
political constitution of public life. Modern art therefore had 
not the simple task of giving an artistic reproduction of beauty 
of which it had had living experience, but it had the double 
task of finding first an ideal which should satisfy its longings, 
and then the forms in which to embody this ideal. The 
revival of antique art could only partially further these ends; 
much could be learnt from its forms, but as far as its content 
was concerned, this did not come up to the demands made by 
the spirit of the later age. When for some time men's 
dominant endeavour was to reanimate literature, art, and 
politics with the spirit of antiquity, what took place was not 
an historically necessary development, but a conscious move- 


438 BOOK vm. chapter hi. 

menfc, which, choosing freely among various directions that 
stood open as possible paths of further development, selected 
a particular one in preference to the rest. The want of a 
generally accepted ideal, and the necessity which there is that 
every age, every nation, and every individual genius should 
fix once for all its own highest aims and its own forms of 
expression, introduced into modern art its varied and rapid 
alternations of style, and gave to its works as compared with 
those of antiquity a predominant stamp of intellectual wealth. 
Tor we may very well describe by this phrase the impression 
which we receive when imagination, instead of being borne 
along by the general current of the age, and reflecting without 
effort some representation of the universe which has become a 
kind of second nature, undertakes independent investigation 
and analysis, in order to arrive at some interpretation of 
reality, of which reality itself cannot refuse to recognise the 
truth, Incontestably this free action of imagination is oftener 
exposed to aesthetic failure than imaginative activity which 
works in subordination to a fixed ideal ; modern art was not 
satisfied by representations of universal, typical, generic beauty, 
but became absorbed in profound depths of human existence 
which had been previously untouched, and sought to investigate 
the mighty coherence of the universe with many a passionate 
question concerning its significance — thus it was in danger, 
on the one hand, of arriving at fanciful conclusions, not 
recognised by reality as justifiable, and, on the other hand, of 
neglecting formal beauty of representation on account of the 
predominance of reflective activity. In many works of wit 
and sarcasm and insolent caricature, capricious fancy has no 
doubt overstepped the limits of beauty; but, on the other 
hand, if poetry attempts to portray the secret development of 
human character, if painting is only satisfied when it can 
succeed in presenting a reflection of the story of such 
development compressed into the action of a moment, if 
music, stripping off from our feelings all remembrance of their 
earthly occasions, so enlarges and exalts them that their 
movement becomes the interaction (not describable in words 




of those univer-al forms of the connection of elements upon 
which all the joy and all the pain of reality depends — -if all 
this is so, and if we take as our model abstractions derived 
from a far simpler age, it is easy to disapprove a large part of 
the wealth of modern art, but difficult to be impartially just 
to the lofty beauty which has assumed new and unique forms 
under these more complex manifestations ; finally, it is in any 
case impossible to give up what we now possess, and to 
return to that greater simplicity which can no longer satisfy 
our hearts. 

In spite of its slight connection with the higher aims of 
art, modern life is not wanting in a special aesthetic element, 
that has, in course of time, made itself felt in many and 
various ways. The modern spirit of criticism and of self- 
conscious reflection first showed itself in Italy ; the cultiva- 
tion of knowledge of aU kinds and formal excellence in 
all the dexterities and refinements of style, both in language 
and in the intercourse of life, were the ends at which it aimed, 
and which in many brilliant instances it attained ; the large 
and significant views which constructive art inherited from 
the Middle Ages, views by which it held fast and which it 
was able to embody with a technical perfection which made 
rapid progress, afforded a wholesome counterpoise to the 
unrestrainedness of this subjective spirit. Political disasters 
interrupted the progress of this development, and Italy 
abdicated to France that living dominion over the rising 
modern world which it had for a time possessed unquestioned. 
In France the gradually perfected centralization of govern- 
mental power had caused the formation of a coherent and 
exclusive society of aristocrats, who, being compelled to keep 
comparative peace among themselves, and being furnished 
with abundant means, but destitute of any great aims in life, 
were forced to employ their intellectual strength upon 
problems of social intercourse. The condition of the people, 
which furnished the necessary basis of such a society, was 
miserable to a degree ; indeed, the epoch taken as a whole 
was by no means a Golden Age, that men need wish back 




again ; but it was undoubtedly this isolated concentration of 
action and reaction between the most favoured constituents of 
a great State, which first gave to the spirit of modern times a 
characteristic sesthetic expression. 

It was language which above all experienced the influence 
of these favourable conditions. It was developed as it had 
been in Greece, by means of living conversation, though not as 
there in the publicity of a great political life. Such con- 
versation dealt with all imaginable subjects of reflection from 
all possible points of view ; and being thus compelled both to 
use brief and clear expression, and to clothe opinion in an 
agreeable dress, the French style became formed into the most 
perfect prose that up to that time the human mind had 
succeeded in constructing. There is but little of the aroma 
of poetry about it, as might be expected in the instrument of 
expression used and formed by a society not accustomed to 
manifest its deepest emotions ; but it has the well-defined, lucid, 
orderly movement and the conscious respect for generally 
recognised conventional rules which were likewise necessary 
in such a society ; it does not show the interesting but 
awkward originality with which, in the prose of the ancients, 
we often see the thought that is to be communicated unfold 
from its germ, and as it were seek its fitting form, but as 
becomes the heir of an old and reflective civilisation it 
skilfully lays hold of the most diverse among familiar points 
of view, and accomplishes its object by means of abstractions 
and modes of combination applicable to them all ; in these 
respects it corresponds to the character of the modern spirit, 
the strength of which consists not in flights of artistic 
enthusiasm in which it rushes upon its objects, attracting 
attention and betraying its own inward excitement, but 
in the unobtrusive business-like way in which it gets rid 
of difficulties, being conscious of knowing ways of solving 
them which are of general application. It is not surprising 
that through this spirit of clearness and precision the French 
language obtained dominion all over the world — a prerogative 
which it has only gradually lost. In Germany the rise of a 


Iiio-her kind of art to which the genius of the French language 
was not adapted, caused its supremacy to be set aside, but a 
substitute for its prose has hardly yet been found in that 
country. The living unity of society was lacking there ; the 
too great predominance of learned culture thence arising, and 
the inherited error of not only learning from antiquity, but 
also of imitating it, caused German prose to be for a long 
time awkward and confused, and the language itself and its 
resources to be more unfamiliar to the people than in other 
countries. For let the Germans not deceive themselves — 
though the whole nation can read and write, he is a happy 
man who need not hear the reading nor see the writing ; the 
gulf that still exists between the perfection of the language in 
the masterpieces of German poetry and the style of ordinary 
life is wide indeed. It wall only be gradually filled up as the 
education of the circles which do not go to antiquity for 
guidance increases to such an extent that they can give to 
the modern modes of expression which they use for modern 
views and interests the established character and fixed form 
which it is quite in vain to expect from ancient models. 

The peculiar character of the time found more whimsical 
but not less animated expression in the much abused Eococo 
style which became dominant in the ceremonies of social 
intercourse in costume, buildings, furniture, and even in 
the laying out of gardens and of pleasure-grounds. It is easy 
for us, guided by the teachings of historic periods which were 
more favoured in an artistic point of view, to reproach this 
style, because, being destitute of feeling for the characteristic 
truth of things, it distorted the real nature of everything 
without exception that it attempted to beautify, and with 
odd caprice imposed arbitrary forms and laws upon every 
department of life into which it intruded ; yet it cannot be 
said that this caprice was incoherent and inconsequent. 
Certainly it had no other principle than that of the sovereign 
and unrestrained will with which the subjective mind moulds 
all given material into a creation that is according to its own 
fancy ; but it did not merely apply this principle with rare 



consistency to things, but with stern discipline brought even 
human life under self-imposed laws of etiquette. Certainly 
the forms which it forced upon all objects and all relations 
cannot be understood by reference to any artistically justifiable 
principle of form ; but the very end aimed at was to be 
invariably graceful even amid all the complete arbitrariness 
of this procedure, and where there is a cessation of all rule 
dependent upon the nature of the thing, to find by the power 
of the mind itself a definite law of the production of pleasure. 
It would be mere scholastic pedantry to deny that in many 
cases this was accomplished ; not only do we trace with 
pleasure in countless individual utensils, buildings, and 
fashions of the time the bright and graceful flight of 
this arbitrary fancy, but among all the styles which have ever 
pervaded life in all directions this as a whole seems to be 
quite the most in harmony with natural receptivity. Who 
would not admit that Classic and Gothic art unfold a 
refined and lofty beauty that is more to be reverenced than 
this ? But at the same time we may admit that they are 
alien to us, and that especially every renewal of the antique 
in our life looks like a learned pretension to the possession 
of superior understanding, whilst in defiance of all aesthetic 
systems, we always sympathize with the Eococo style. 

But this too has passed away ; and the aesthetic elements 
which life in the present day still retains appear much 
more insignificant. We often hear quoted the saying that 
architecture is frozen music : hence I have some hope of 
gaining a modicum of undying fame by taking a step further 
and calling mathematics desiccated music. For what element 
of music does mathematics lack except the living sound ? All 
its other elements and resources are common to it and to 
music, or, more correctly speaking, music borrows them all 
from mathematics. Now it seems to me that what haa 
remained to us as the good genius of our age, is just a mathe- 
matical element of exactness, neatness, concise clearness and 
simplicity, supple versatility and pruning away of all super- 
fluities. As compared with the roundabout procedure and 



awkwardness of innumerable regulations of earlier times, what 
a preference do we now see for that elegance which charac- 
terises the most concise solutions of difficulties ! What 
brief and severe simplicity do we see in the structure of 
machines ! what vast effects produced by the ingenious 
combination of simple means ! 

Undoubtedly there is beauty even in this, and we may 
rejoice heartily in that genius of modern times, which no 
longer wearing antique draperies, or dreaming through life 
with flowing hair, goes with shorn locks and close-fitting 
garments ; and we may hope that it will raise from this small 
germ a mighty tree filling life with fresh beauty. 



Comparison of Eastern with Western Life and Thought — Nature and Social 
Life as Sources of Religious Ideas — Preponderance of the Cosmological 
Element in Heathendom, and of the Moral Element in Judaism and 
Christianity — Christianity and the Church — Returning Preponderance of 
Cosmology in the New Philosophical Dogmatism — Life and the Church. 

§ 1. rp^HE East has been the birthplace of all those 


religions which have had a decisive influence on 
the destinies of mankind. And not only has it (as the father- 
land of all nations historically important) forestalled future 
ages by giving birth to the germs of all religion — religion being 
one of the things earliest developed by the human race — but 
also even in later times the religious life of the West is 
distinguished from that of the East by a permanent difference 
of disposition and of the course of development. In the latter 
the imagination of men became early susceptible to the 
numerous analogies by which visible reality points to some- 
thing beyond itself, and drew in grand outlines pictures of 
a supersensuous world, which contained the beginning and 
the end, the completion and the explanation of the world we 
know. And the manifold content of this faith was no mere 
impotent dream of enthusiastic moments; the thought of it 
pervaded the insignificant customs of everyday life, the rules 
of commerce, and the ordinances of morality ; the obligatory 
commands, which seemed to flow from it, received unquestion- 
ing obedience, whether they demanded the long self-denial 
of a life of penance, or some one supreme sacrifice ; even 
general social and political arrangements were (without 
separating between divine and human law) governed by anj 
ever-present thought of the great universe, of which all' 
earthly things make but a dependent part. This broad and 


widely-comprehensive view remained in many respects peculiar 
to the East, and still has an imposing effect upon us, but the 
blood of the Western nations cannot endure for a continuance 
that repose of cosmic contemplation in which this view 
causes men to become absorbed. 

The more exclusively imagination aims at combining the 
manifold of reality into a whole in the unity of one plan, the 
more is every particular arranged and fixed in its own proper 
place, and cared for and subordinated within the clearly- 
marked outlines of this whole — supposing, of course, that the 
attempt at unification appears successful. We are stimulated 
to advance by the unknown reaches of the path that lies 
before us ; to have an early view of all attainable goals only 
makes men wish to continue undisturbed in the position in 
which they happen to be, and beyond the horizon of which 
there lies nothing essentially new. To such an early survey 
and to such quiescence did the nations of the East attain ; the 
universe as a whole seemed to lie finished and complete before 
them ; it had been such from eternity, and the future could 
add nothing to it. Many things in it seemed uncertain, but 
nothing really was so ; there was no such thing as a merely 
probable development of cosmic history capable of being 
determined by some exercise of human freedom ; there was 
no field for the exercise of inventive activity which might 
enrich life by new productions, or accomplish by purposive 
struggles anything more than that which, being preordained, 
would come to pass without human effort ; according to the 
immutable ordering of the whole, man can choose nothing 
except what he cannot avoid, namely to live that part of the 
life of the universe which falls to his share, and to suffer and 
rejoice therewith. It is true that even within these limits 
human nature (which is never wholly brought into subjection 
to its own philosophic views) finds room for untamed passions ; 
but the only goals which these can have are visions of pride 
and sensual delights — visions which fall to pieces when the 
passions that gave rise to them are burnt out, and which do 
not affect the old order of things, which goes on unchanging 



and undeveloping. Therefore, however agitated the course of 
oriental life may be in detail, looked at as a whole all its 
activities appear to be enclosed by a broad framework of 
resigned quietism. 

The West developed a contrary bias, and this the more 
vigorously in proportion as it freed itself the more thoroughly 
from oriental traditions. Its imagination was never directed 
so eagerly to a comprehensive view of the world as a whole, 
but all the more eagerly to those universal laws upon which 
the reality and movement of the world itself in every particular 
depends. The oriental representation of the complete and 
finished condition of the world and of the circle of its phseno- 
mena exhibited a universe that had been perfected once for 
all, which no one could add to or take away from ; but to gain 
a knowledge of these universal laws the world had to be 
regarded as something imperfect, to the perfecting of which it 
was possible to contribute ; for these laws taught men to 
comprehend not only the condition of what actually existed, 
but also the possibility of much that as yet did not actually 
exist ; and opened to the mind that was struggling onwards a 
prospect of reconstructing — for its own ends and by the help 
of these laws — both external Nature within narrow limits and 
human life within much wider limits. For such a mind 
there was possible a history in which human action should 
determine the as yet formless future to new and hitherto 
indefinite developments of reality. 

It is said of philosophy that if the cup is merely tasted it 
leads man away from God, but that if it is deeply drained 
it brings him back again. Perhaps this saying is equally 
applicable to the whole mode of thought which in occidental 
civilisation gave rise to its characteristic restlessness — to that 
spirit of progress which must be for ever bringing change into 
every department of life, and to the investigating and analysing 
spirit of philosophy itself. For certainly that which first 
makes a distinct impression upon the mind is the alienation 
from God and from what is divine to which on the whole the 
course of this period of civilisation has unremittingly tended. 


In as far as imagination influences life^ the horizon of human 
imagination has undergone progressive contraction in pro- 
portion as there has been an ever-progressive increase of clear- 
ness in the diminishing field of vision to which it restricted 
itself. With growing knowledge of natural products, and 
increased skill in making use of them, men's insight into the 
connection between them and the supersensuous world has not 
become clearer, but attention has been weaned from dwelling 
upon the connection as one of the problems which have to be 
considered ; and life and morality have become more and more 
separated from the content of religious belief, regarded as the 
source of obligation, and have become more and more estab- 
lished upon secular principles of their own. Esthetic sensibility, 
averse to ideals of vast and eternal significance, has turned 
from what was great and exalted to what was elegant and 
correct and to the activity of intellectual resource exhibited 
in it. Art is hardly able to cope even with what is merely 
historically great, but in genre-painting it gives characteristic 
reproductions of fragments of life. In science, dependence on 
experience has taken the place of speculation, and elements 
and general laws of action have supplanted the predetermin- 
ing oneness of creative and formative Ideas as means of 
explanation. In a similar way in the department of practice 
individual rights are being brought into ever greater promi- 
nence as compared with the duties demanded by consideration 
for the whole ; and finally, we see that increasingly general 
acceptance is accorded to the principle of letting every 
individual power act unhindered, and of expecting the most 
satisfactory condition of human affairs from the equilibrium 
which the various forces will reach of their own accord 
through the reciprocal action of all. 

All these features cause Western civilisation as compared 
witih Eastern to have the aspect of a whoUy profane or secular 
life which does indeed willingly submit to the general condi- 
tions and laws which govern the course of things, and skil- 
fully contrives that these forces should work for it ; but is little 
conscious of any necessary connection between its thought and 

448 BOOK vni. chapter iv. 

action as a whole and a supersensuous world, and is of opinion 
that it only needs, and need only regard, as much of what is 
divine as may be expressed in the form of general laws for the 
regulation of moral conduct. Undoubtedly the entrance of 
Christianity into the Western world was like a mighty inflow- 
ing wave which interrupted this ebb, but it has not prevented 
it from resuming its course. Dogma and worship are equally 
poverty-stricken, and efforts which aim at their rehabilitation 
have to encounter increasing aversion ; religiousness dis- 
appears from morality even while morality ir.creases in 
humanity and refinement ; not only does the articulation of 
secular society avoid all ecclesiastical control, but even the 
coherence of church communities becomes loosened by the 
growing demands for independence made by individual 
opinion. Are these conditions signs of a general retrogression 
of humanity, or do they conceal an advance which appears to 
us to be primarily occupied in breaking up the old forms of 
religious life, but which does not leave us without hope that 
in the future those old forms will be replaced by new ones ? 

§ 2. Nature is commonly our earliest guide to religious 
contemplation. Observation of Nature leads in various ways 
to attempts to supplement the perceptible content of reality 
by continuations which are visible only to the eye of faith. 
Imagination looks to the past, seeking in histories of the 
origin of the world an explanation of the wonders of the 
existing universe — wonders which could not, it seems, have 
owed their birth to such an order of Nature as now obtains — 
and it looks also to the future, seeking to find some con- 
tinuation of Nature into which the swift-flowing stream of 
earthly life may empty itself and find continued existence; 
the two lines of fancy are connected together by a more or 
less comprehensive knowledge of reality so as to constitute a 
whole of greater or less completeness. If no other interest 
than the merely theoretic one of explanation were involved 
in this cosmological construction, it would attract no greater 
sympathy and attention than the geological opinions of the 
Neptunists and the Vulcanists, or than the equally divergent 




conjectures which imperfect astronomical science once put 
forth concerning the structure of the starry heavens. But 
in those cosmological views there is always contained some 
expression of men's conclusions concerning the worth of the 
world, and the amount of satisfaction which the order of 
Nature affords or refuses to the irrepressible needs of the 
human soul ; and with the pictures which are drawn of the 
powers which create, preserve, and guide the universe there 
is always connected a more or less developed view of the 
position which man occupies with regard to them, or the 
attitude which in action he should hold towards them. It is 
only for these reasons that we can with any justice seek the 
germs of religion in such complementing of natural phsenomena 
and such combinations and explanations of them ; we can 
attribute all the significance implied in the name Cosmology, to 
those systems only in which that is made the standard of 
worth and the point of departure which in existing theories 
has but a secret influence — I mean a conscious recognition 
of the unconditioned validity and truth of Morality and 
Holiness as compared with all that is, or seems to be, matter 
of fact. 

Now if the whole of Nature lay before us we should see its 
manifoldness combined in a unity which — being the perfect 
reflection of what ought to be — would teach us what the 
significance of Nature itself is, what our place in it is, and 
what the aims of our existence are. But such insight as this 
is reserved for the end of time. To every natian that has 
entered on the path of civilisation. Nature has displayed but 
a small section of its whole content ; different in different 
zones and climates and unintelligible in its connection without 
the enlightenment to be supplied by investigations which 
have not yet been carried out ; unfit to form the basis of a 
comprehensive view of the world, because the condition of 
that which has been observed seems to leave diverse modes 
of completion equally admissible. Imagination always finds 
in the course of Nature traces of harmonious and beneficent 
wisdom; besides these it always finds also traces of discord, 

VOL. II. 2 F 


harshness, and cruelty; it finds much which leads it to 
believe in a righteous Providence and much of which the 
Nature is such that this belief can only be held in defiance 
of it. Different nations have become absorbed in the con- 
fusing complication of these facts — men with different degrees 
of mental activity, with different temperaments, and under 
the influence of very divergent modes of life; and according 
to the measure of their endowments in these respects they 
have attained to philosophic views of greater or less fulness 
and lucidity. But even the greatest fulness, \vith the keen 
eye for Nature which belongs to developed cosmologic insight 
(such as characterize the mythologies of the classic nations), 
can scarcely be regarded as having ever been a blessing in 
themselves. To the distant observer the richly coloured and 
realistic circumstantiality of those mythologies appears as an 
enviable filling of man's whole life with thoughts which 
unceasingly connect all its trivialities with the grandeur of 
the supersensuous world, and it exalts, in our view, the 
festhetic importance of those nations with whom it is found ; 
but these nations themselves were hardly ever led by the 
natural-philosophic element of their religion to any useful 
progress in life and humanity, but often enough to great 
errors and to a useless squandering of human powers. 

Observation of Nature easily leads to a conviction that 
there is some supersensuous power which rules events, but 
no observation of Nature teaches moral truths. It can 
teach that the destruction of every individual may have its 1 
significance in the plan of the whole ; that from every life that 
is trampled out another life may spring ; that all the powers 
of Nature in an unceasing cycle may combine in the continual 
production, destruction, and. reproduction of phsenomena in 
never-failing regularity; but with all this it leaves wholly 
undecided whether indulgence towards others and sacrifice 
of oneself, or conversely trampling upon others and asserting 
oneself, is that to which we are morally called ; as a conscious 
prolongation of the course that Nature unconsciously takes, 
the one mode of action has as good a claim to consideration 


as the other. That which is, does not enlighten us concerning 
that which we ought to do, unless we know beforehand what 
meaning we ought to attach to that which is. But how this 
ambiguous world of phsenomena is to be taken and understood 
by men, whether the way in which it is interpreted and used 
will be a blessing or a curse, is determined by the mind 
which man brings to it — by the degree of civilisation which 
the moral influences of society have enabled him to attain, 
and upon the development of which Nature herself (not as 
instructress but as the sum of conditions promotive or 
obstructive) undoubtedly has an important effect. 

If social conditions have provided but meagrely for the 
cultivation of the moral consciousness, men must be destitute 
of standpoints and conditions necessary for taking a coherent 
and comprehensive view of Nature and of the order of events 
— a view in which there is room for the accommodation of 
individual contradictions. And being thus destitute they 
must lack also that wholesome ballast which is capable of 
preserving imagination from yielding unresistingly to the 
impressions produced by individual striking phsenomena. In 
such a case the unstable mind is driven by the incalculable 
influence of fortuitous combinations of ideas, first of all to 
this or that interpretation of phaenomena, and then to such or 
such maxims of conduct — perhaps to maxims of foolish soft- 
heartedness or perhaps to others of barbarous cruelty. And 
this danger is a permanent one ; it reappears under some 
fresh form at every stage of civilisation. It is a danger that 
threatens even when a vigorous and developed intelligence 
that has long been in possession of many-sided experience and 
of various standpoints from which to estimate things, can no 
longer be imposed upon and led into narrow-minded mistakes 
by isolated phsenomena, being able to rise above many indivi- 
dual contradictions to a consciousness of the all-pervading and 
eternal harmony of the universal order. For even supposing 
that it does thus rise, yet a just perception of facts does not 
of necessity involve a just estimation of their worth. On 
the contrary, the higher our trains of thought soar in their 


progress to ever wider generalizations, the more unstable does 
their equilibrium become ; it needs but a slight alteration of 
mood and at once our mobile imagination beholds the same 
facts in a light which altogether transforms them, without 
their having themselves undergone any change. When this 
happens, nothing but a thorough and established moralization 
of life can furnish a counterpoise of sufficient weight to with- 
stand the effect on conduct of the wild theories into which 
speculation is only too easily drawn, in its attempts to take a 
comprehensive view of the universe. And finally, even when 
reverence for the content of moral Ideas, undisturbed by any 
doubt, rules the general mind and is the point from which by 
common consent all attempts set out which aim at following 
by faith the course of the world into regions which no 
experience can reach : even in these times of religious culture 
in the strict sense, the old danger will always lurk in men's 
preference for a cosmological construction of philosophy. 
With the voice of conscience and with that which we venerate 
as revelation, we build up but very tottering bridges, which 
are none the more secure because we use them with pre- 
sumptuous confidence as a means of obtaining untrustworthy 
glimpses of the construction and articulation of the universe 
as a whole. Still more untrustworthy will be the conclusions 
as to practical life which men deduce from cosmologic philo- 
sophy, as though it afforded a representation of reality which 
might be relied on. The aim of such an application of these 
conclusions would be to deduce from a supramundane meta- 
physic of the universe holier precepts and aims for human 
guidance ; while perhaps on their account silence would be 
imposed upon the simple absolute commands of conscience 
which have no pretensions to universal knowledge. 

If therefore the name of religion is to be exclusively 
reserved for that form of spiritual activity which regards a 
recognition of the divine order of the world and the subordina- 
tion of our life to it, as conditions of salvation (and it is in 
this sense that religion is commonly opposed to unbelieving 
mcrality), we should be expressing but a part of the truth in 



lauding the improvement of the human race as attributable to 
the influence of religion ; we should have equally to admit 
that the progress of humanity due to the action and reaction 
of society and to the development proper to secular life, on 
the one hand has supplied religious belief with new questions 
and subjects of consideration, and on the other hand by its 
quiet, obstinate, and ever present resistance has blunted the 
edge of those injurious extravagances into which the world- 
interpreting, world - creating flights of devoutly inspired 
speculation were apt to run. 

§ 3. By what thread of connected tradition or by what 
recognisable law of progressive development those successive 
forms of religion may have been determined which have 
gradually arisen among the civilised nations of our hemi- 
sphere, are matters which I leave undecided, considering that 
they cannot be exhaustively discussed in this place. And 
even the hasty survey which I propose taking for the confirma- 
tion of the foregoing remarks, must be curtailed. 

Where social life is very little developed and reflection 
lacks the breadth of view which can be given to it only 
by a stirring life and constant intercourse between one's 
own thoughts and those of others, the foreshadowings 
of a supersensuous world which may be called into exist- 
ence by even the most everyday occurrences, remain 
chaotic and incoherent. Fetich-worship, with very natural 
confusion, while it reverences the mysterious power resid- 
ing in every object which happens to strike the senses, 
neither identifies this power with that in which it inheres 
nor clearly distinguishes it therefrom. It is not this lack of 
conceptual clearness which causes Tetichism to take such a 
low place among the different forms of religion, but the 
absolute indefiniteness of its ideas concerning the nature of 
the supersensuous power which it venerates. It regarda 
this as nothing but a certain degree of mysterious in- 
determinate capacity, not any fixed kind of volition or 
activity, susceptible of specification. Such power is to be 
found in every object, but any one object may possess it 


iu a higher degree than any other ; for men to try, by prayer 
and sacrifice, to make it favourable to them is but a trans- 
ference of natural human action in reference to human wills ; 
in the nature of the incalculable demon itself there is no 
iu.telligible ground for even this most simple worship. The 
'same poverty of thought makes it difficult to estimate the' 
gain to life of presentiments of immortality. The idea of 
the absolute annihilation of anything which has once been 
observed in the vigorous exercise of perceptible activity is 
as incomprehensible to undeveloped thought as the idea of| 
anything's arising from absolute nothingness ; belief in the 
continuance of the soul after death is more natural and more 
ancient than the belief in its annihilation, which is among 
the earliest mental products of a somewhat advanced civilisa- 
tion. But the poor philosophy of the early stage is equally 
unable to assign a content to the continued existence in which 
it believes and to its notion of a supersensuous power in 
things ; where future existence is not conceived of as a copy 
of earthly life, the soul is supposed to join the ranks of the 
obscure powers of Nature ; it continues to exist as a ghost, 
that is, with the general attributes of the spiritual life of man,] 
but without humanly intelligible ends. Such unsatisfying] 
ideas neither can become sources of moral convictions nor do; 
they readily admit of being connected with such convictions ;l 
but the ideas themselves would have taken a very different] 
turn if a greater degree of moral cultivation had led men tol 
seek beneath the siirface of phenomena something other than] 
vague forms of life and powers different from our own.i 
"What is taught by fear and sympathy can at any rate, asj 
contrasted with such a faith, be developed to practical preceptiij 
and the rudiments of worship ; but what such precepts and] 
such rudiments shall be is decided by the purely accidental 
course of unbridled imagination and the bias of temperament;] 
tliey are apt to run into superstitions deformed by witlesSl 
sorceries and bloody abominations of sacrifices to the dead. 
One of the errors that seem to us most strange is theil 


piiying of divine honours to animals, and yet there is antj 



intelligible cause for it in dawning religious feeling. Social 
intercourse teaches men to know one another in a wholly- 
secular aspect ; they find each other busied with small and 
changing and contradictory interests which are perfectly 
intelligible and have nothing of the obscure grandeur which 
imagination admires in those natural forces which work 
unconsciously. When man has once begun to contrast him- 
self and his fellows and all his human interests with the world 
and that strange power residing in it which constitute the 
first object of his confused reverence, he can find nothing in 
which this power appears more expressively than in the 
activity of the animal kingdom, which in all its manifesta- 
tions impresses us the more on account of its voicelessness 
and our inability to understand the extraordinary instincts 
which it displays. It is true that without some flights of 
imagination this contemplation cannot give any definite content 
to our notion of the supersensuous, but at any rate it views 
this under the exalted notion of a spirit-life that broods over 
strange ends, unintelligible to us. We can see that while 
men lived a life in which attention had not as yet been 
attracted from physical existence by a multiplicity of 
peculiarly human interests, such considerations might easily 
give rise to the idea of transmigration of souls, an idea which 
afforded an abundant field for the exercise of ingenious com- 
parison and constructive imagination. There is no doubt that 
at one time men's minds were seriously possessed by this idea, 
and that in consequence a vast amount of human activity and 
attention were squandered on wholly unmeaning and fictitious 
objects. The belief was not refuted by science, but died out 
from its own lack of interest, as there grew up around it a 
civilisation which has its centre of attraction in the worth of 
social and moral relations. At present we hardly think of 
animals except as objects of domestic economy, or of natural 
history, or as ornaments in a landscape ; that they have a 
multiform mental life allied to our own, is a proposition 
which we sometimes timidly advance as a probable conjecture. 
And just as indifierently do we turn away from all the un- 



remembered past which preceded our earthly existence ; as to 
what lies beyond this we refuse material analogies in as far as 
our abiding need for some sensuous representation of the 
supersensuous will permit. 

In every case in which fully developed civilisations have 
culminated in comprehensive religious systems, in Egypt, in 
India an