HOUSTON STEWART CHAMBERLAIN

IMMANUEL KANT

TRANSLATION BY LORD REDESDALE, 1914

Cover Immanuel Kant

VOLUME II, CHAPTER 5, PLATO, p. i—xii, 1—166

Back to main page
The original text in German: Immanuel Kant
Download this book — Immanuel Kant


VOLUME I page
INTRODUCTORY 3
GOETHE 13
LEONARDO 101
DESCARTES 197
BRUNO 311




VOLUME II

PLATO 3
KANT 169
NOTES 415
INDEX 513


Immanuel Kant

IMMANUEL KANT

From the painting by Döbler in the Todtenkopflage at Koenigsberg, reproduced by kind permission of the Berlin Photographic Company

v

IMMANUEL KANT
A STUDY AND A COMPARISON
WITH GOETHE, LEONARDO DA VINCI,
BRUNO, PLATO AND DESCARTES BY
HOUSTON STEWART CHAMBERLAIN
AUTHORISED TRANSLATION
FROM THE GERMAN BY
LORD REDESDALE, G.C.V.O., K.C.B.
WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY THE
TRANSLATOR, IN TWO VOLUMES
WITH EIGHT PORTRAITS. VOLUME II
 

LONDON: JOHN LANE THE BODLEY HEAD
NEW YORK: JOHN LANE COMPANY
TORONTO: BELL & COCKBURN MCMXIV

vi

WILLIAM BRENDON AND SON, LTD., PRINTERS, PLYMOUTH

vii

CONTENTS


page
PLATO. WITH AN EXCURSUS ON THE ESSENCE OF LIFE 3
KANT. SCIENCE AND RELIGION. WITH AN EXCURSUS ON THE “THING IN ITSELF
169
NOTES
  GOETHE 417
  LEONARDO 425
  DESCARTES 435
  BRUNO 451
  PLATO 468
  KANT 493
INDEX
513

viii

(Blank page)

ix

ILLUSTRATIONS
 
IMMANUEL KANT
From the painting by Döbler in the Todtenkopflage at Koenigsberg, reproduced by kind permission of the Berlin Photographic Company.
Frontispiece
PLATO
(Three Greek Gems in the British Museum).
Face p. 3

x

(Blank page)

xi


IMMANUEL KANT

xii

(Blank page)

1


PLATO

WITH AN EXCURSUS ON THE ESSENCE OF LIFE
 
  From the Gods a gift to the human
race; thus should I reckon the gift
of seeing the one in the many.

Plato.

2

(Blank page)

3




Plato. Three Greek gems in the British Museum.


PLATO
Three Greek Gems in the British Museum



PLATO
AT last the threads that we have been spinning in our previous lectures run together into warp and woof. I had to start with the Goethe lecture in order to speak of “ideas“ so that my meaning should be perceived: without the Leonardo lecture, — in which I endeavoured to draw an accurate distinction between that which is “pure“ and that which is “empirical,“ and consequently between mathematical natural science, and artistic intuition of nature, I could hardly have attained a consideration of the true Plato, in the face of so many deeply rooted misunderstandings which had to be swept away: the Descartes lecture is adapted to lay the foundation of the present lecture, as teaching the importance of the dualistic method of observation for all criticism of the human intellect, of which it, at the same time, furnishes you with a plastic conception; finally, the Bruno lecture has laid down once for all the difference between dogmatism and criticism, so that we know where to seek for Plato and where not.
    Towards the close of the lecture, when we shall know Plato better, we shall return to these heroes of our earlier lectures: for the moment I must content myself with these brief hints, only calling your attention to a special relation between the different lectures in order that you may from the very outset correctly grasp the distinguishing feature of the goal in view.
    It will have struck you that we have made very varying use of the personalities which we have brought

4 PLATO

forward for our purposes of comparison. In the Goethe lecture it was the personality itself, with its physical properties reaching into the very volutes of the brain, that we placed in contrast with the Sage of Königsberg and his individual capacities: Leonardo, on the contrary, possessed for our purpose rather a general than an individual importance, and helped us to fix more exactly the points that Kant has in common with Goethe, as well as those in which their modes of perception differ. In Descartes it was once more the personality which held us, but not so much, as in Goethe, by way of contrast or in opposition to that of Kant, but because it opened up for us an access to the labyrinthine depths of Kantian thought, — while, on the other hand, Bruno served as the sharply stamped type of a numerous tribe of thinkers who stand as the very antipodes of Kant. Now we must introduce the lens by which we may collect these various rays and focus them upon the burning point of our interest, Immanuel Kant. For in Plato we, for the first time, meet a man whose genius and whose “mode of seeing,“ inborn and developed to perfection through a whole life of incessant thinking, are almost exactly in harmony with Kant. If we had singled out Plato earlier, we should not rightly have understood him: all that we have in the meanwhile done for Kant is equally of value in his case; but if we were to leave him out now I should despair of being able to add the indispensable sharpness of outline to the plastic picture of Kant's intellectual personality, of which the general features should now be clearly before you. Plato alone can serve this end. With reference to the great central fact, namely the awakening of the human intellect to critical consideration of itself, the two men are identical: Kant occupies the same relation to Plato as Copernicus did to Aristarchus: yet at the same time, as you will presently see more exactly, they stand in relation to one another as two

5 PLATO

counterparts, two pendants. It is the same thing, but seen from opposite sides like the obverse and reverse of a medal. Where Kant with great pains develops a final abstraction which few only are capable of attaining, Plato boldly gives a picture which may be grasped palpably: whereas for Kant all criticism of reason leads to negation and limitation, Plato presents it in principle in the shape of an affirmative and limitless recognition. Of course, on that very account, Plato has in all ages been even more misunderstood than Kant; but we need not trouble ourselves here about the organic incompetence of many, even gifted men, to understand Plato, and you no doubt guess what an important revelation it must be to be able to see this critical intellectual disposition and its effects from both sides, from the obverse and from the reverse; from the conventional individual it seems as remote as the conception of the earth's motion. Every step which we take in the understanding of Plato is a direct help to the understanding of Kant; in order to put matters right we shall have later, as it were, to turn the medal round here and there, but that will cost little trouble; the only difficulty lies in grasping the central, creative thought which is common to Plato and Kant, and which springs from their personal method of seeing: we shall succeed more easily with Plato than with Kant.
    So much by way of preliminary explanation.
    Here, as in the Goethe lecture, it will be advisable to attack the comparison from outside. In great men the outer fits the inner, and their character is more exactly mirrored in their face than is the case with others. What I indicated above as the tendency of the one man to affirm and of the other to deny, is rooted indeed in their physical form. Kant is a small, weakly man with a sunken chest, who, thanks to his moderation and an almost anxious carefulness, was able to reach an advanced old age in tolerable health: Plato, on the contrary,

6 PLATO

whose real name was Aristocles, earned the surname of Platon in the wrestling school, on account of his extraordinary size and strength. That this nickname of the ring should have stuck to the man for all time, and have supplanted his true name, testifies to the admiration in which his rare, handsome figure was unanimously held by the world. He was not only big and strong; even his enemies, and he had many, praise his beauty, his symmetry, his height. That a Greek of such powerful build should over and over again have appeared in the public athletic competitions, and more than once have gained the wreath of victory, will not astonish you, even though it should be little in harmony with our present idea of the career of a philosopher. He seems to have taken part as a cavalry officer in several campaigns, furnishing his men and horses at his own expense. For in addition to his bodily advantages Plato was also favoured by birth. Kant, the son of a poor saddler in a small provincial town, passes two-thirds of his life in very necessitous circumstances; even as a student he was compelled to earn his bread by giving lessons, and it was only by painfully self-sacrificing economy and daily self-denial that towards the close of his life he was able to realise a modest independence. Plato, on the contrary, belongs by birth to the great and wealthy nobility of the headquarters of culture in the world of those days, and traces his pedigree both on his father's and on his mother's side to kingly ancestors: from these exalted forebears he inherits wide estates administered by honest slaves: he knows nothing of care for daily bread, or of any business or professional duties: never in his life has he been under any constraint for a single day: he travels whither he chooses and comes home when it pleases him; he is without wants so far as material enjoyment is concerned, because it is his pleasure to take independence of wants as a philosophical maxim of life, and yet he is no

7 PLATO

ascetic, for he himself teaches that we should neither starve nor satiate bodily desire (το επιθυμητικον), nor does he deny himself the comforts of life surrounded by beautiful works of art and parchments: in his own house and garden he teaches those who love wisdom (philosophers), but for the sake of the Muses, that is to say, without any fee. Kant, as you will remember from our first lecture, never left Königsberg and its immediate neighbourhood: Plato travelled in Egypt, in North Africa and Italy, and several times visited Sicily as the guest of the Prince of Syracuse. Last, but not least, where the one from his cradle to his grave had the grey Baltic the other had the blue Mediterranean, the sun, a lush and balmy vegetation, everything that can inspire the senses and make them fruitful. And whilst Kant towards the end of his life fell into a sort of senile atrophy, was compelled to give up all public activity, no longer left his house, and ended by losing perfect mastery of speech, we hear of Plato, who, like Kant, lived exactly to the age of eighty, that to his last day he taught and wrote (scribens mortuus est, says Cicero), and the unanimous testimony of his contemporaries asserts that it was at a wedding feast which he honoured by his presence, that he unexpectedly, suddenly, but softly and smilingly fell asleep.
    How different were the fates of the two thinkers! Plato's nature and fortune so differently shaped, corresponded naturally with a different temperament and in many ways different gifts. Most especially remarkable in this connection, and as a contrast to Kant, is the passionate longing of the heart, and the lofty poetical flight.
    You must not believe that a man gifted as Kant was, a man out of whose eye, “formed by the aether of heaven,“ a “ray of fire beamed,“ did not carry love and passion in his heart. Women liked him: he was no misogynist:

8 PLATO

even in his old age he invited pretty maidens to be his neighbours at table: 1 perhaps we should have known more upon this subject had not his bashful gentle feelings caused him anxiously to avoid it; never even to his most intimate friends did he ever speak of love. Still, the attentive reader will find here and there in his writings passages which yield a deep insight into a heart loving and needing love, but almost over-sensitive. The following, for instance, can only have been taught him by his own original experience, “a very refined taste serves, it is true, to rob a passionate inclination of its wildness, and since it confines it to very few objects, to make it modest and mannerly: but it generally misses the great ultimate purpose of nature, and since it demands or expects more than this as a rule affords, so it very seldom makes a person of such delicate sensibility happy. ... Thence comes procrastination and, finally, complete renunciation of matrimonial ties“: the following passage is also worthy of remark in this connection: “many a man is prized too high for love to be possible. He inspires admiration; but he is too far above us for us to dare to approach him with the intimacy of love.“ 2 Here again, as you see, the negative outweighs all else: what Kant feels the most clearly is the unattainable in love, — it is only its “delicate magic“ that he feels, whereas at other times he fails to discover much more in it than a silly and coarse sensation. Out of this hesitating, gloomy, over-delicate temperament comes the want of those creative powers which are of one essence with the creative love-power. As an old professor Kant did indeed compose a few lame, dull verses in honour of dead colleagues: custom so willed it. He would certainly not have wished that such occasional twaddle should be torn from the oblivion into which it fell on the day of its birth; but nowhere do we detect in him anything which would betray any artistic impulse, inclination or, even

9 PLATO

interest. Do not imagine that I am regretting that this great thinker has not, outside of his philosophical writings, left us a legacy of bad epics or pastoral songs: I am only concerned with the analysis of his intellect, and I think that I may safely affirm that when a man is lacking in all passion of the senses and in any trace of giftedness in art, whether poetry or music or plastic art, — he will also give evidence of characteristic shortcomings in his creative power in other domains, though they may be patently remote. Plato shall serve as my authority — Plato who holds the power of production of the soul to be identical in its essence with the power of production of the body (Symposium, 208 E — 209 A), and who therefore extols the “delusion of love“ as the richest gift of happiness (ευτυχια) from the Gods to men (Phaedrus, 245 B), and therefore warns us against allowing ourselves to be persuaded by fine speeches into the belief that the dry pedant is in all cases to be preferred to the inspired and ecstatic man; rather is (μανια) delusion born of the gods, while mere understanding (σωφροσυνη) is only a human virtue (Phaedrus, 244 D). “The man who thinks that he can become an artist by Art alone, without having been gripped by the frenzy of the Muses (μανια Μουσων), will always remain outside before the door, and the work of this intelligent person will remain as a shadow beside that of the man who is torn by frenzy.“ Frenzy of love, frenzy of the Muses: 3 the two, according to Plato, constitute the high school of Seeing, and also of recognition: for recognition essentially consists in a “Seeing of scattered impressions combined into one visible shape.“ 4 Rightly then has the English scholar and refined poet, Walter Pater, pointed to the passion of love as the central point of Plato's character. “Plato is by nature and before all things, from first to last, unalterably a lover; and as love must of necessity deal above all with visible persons, this discipline of love (τα εροτικα

10 PLATO

as he says) involved an exquisite culture of the senses.“ 5 That love and seeing hang together Plato over and over again maintains, in the Symposium, the Phaedrus, and also elsewhere — and from this fact spring two admirable peculiarities which amongst all philosophical writings are only to be found in Plato; the first of these is that Plato breathes personality into all thoughts: the second is that his art, — which sees the most delicate colouring and the darkest shadows of things, accompanied by the mastery which embodies in a word-picture the most fleeting vision, enables him to handle, as if it had been seen, the invisible, that which is hardly even attainable by thought, so that we think that our own eyes must see it, if not to-day, at any rate, to-morrow. 6 Love, love which is one with the Μανια Μουσων, the frenzy of Art, is in Plato's estimation the indispensable first rung of the ladder in all wisdom; man must first recognise as beautiful one visible form and by it be kindled to love, then must come another, and yet another, until the single beauty pales in his eyes as something relatively incomplete, and so he must rise higher and higher, “as it were step by step“ (ωσπερ επαναβαθμοις), until his heart has become broad enough and strong enough to embrace all beautiful forms with love; out of this artistic glow there arises at last a true knowledge (μαθημα) of Things, and out of this again the recognition of that which beauty is in itself (αυτο ο εστι καλον); and when the man has climbed to this lofty stage, then a God seizes him by the hand and leads him to where “he sees something of the truth,“ where he begins to have a premonition “of the true essence of Being,“ as though the recollection of it rose out of an old, long since vanished dream. “Here at last, oh! beloved Socrates, life becomes worth living.“ 7
    You see what a different sphere of perception we have reached. It is true that Plato, who had started in life as a writer of dithyrambics and a tragic poet, very soon

11 PLATO

destroyed all the children of his Muse: for it was in early youth that he met Socrates, and his passionate ardour and artistic inspiration were turned in other directions: the victorious athlete, the stage poet who had already handed in his trilogy to the judges, felt his true vocation: he was to think for the benefit of decades of centuries, he was to be the great teacher of self-introspection. But the fiery glow remained; that alone enabled him to throw off the dreams of his youth, and to seize upon the calling of his manhood with such passionate determination. The fire which he no longer wasted upon beloved individuals, and the “frenzy of the Muses“ which he no longer allowed to seduce him to the creations of phantasy, passed with all its power into his philosophical life's-work, and in it sowed the seed of immortality.
    Christian misunderstandings of many centuries, and the lifeless schematisations of our professional teachers, have led us moderns to consider Plato as a sort of despiser of the senses, as a world-shunning ascetic, and as the inventor of an unnatural, negative species of love miscalled “platonic“; the ancients, on the contrary, treated him with a wonderful and unique honour, by identifying him with Dionysus (Bacchus), the god of wine, of intoxication, of fatherhood, of growth. An ideal likeness in which the representation of the divinity was blended with the portrait of the philosopher, known as the Dionysoplato, as statue, gem, or intaglio, was common in all countries into which Hellenic culture had penetrated. Heinrich von Stein wrote finely about it, — “Oh! happy Hellenes, that it was possible for you to win for yourselves such a man from the essence of life, to allow this eye full of knowledge, smiling, to rest upon Things! The Greek artist, to express all this, portrayed a handsome drunken man: inspired by noble wine, half tired, half pensive, his head and his glance droop.... The artist portrayed

12 PLATO

him, the drunken man, as beautiful, and at the same time august.“ 8 Plato in his philosophical writings more than once did honour to wine; as an old man full of days he praises it as a “balsam“ which Dionysus gave to men “against the bitterness of years in order that the old might forget their tears and win back their lost youth“; yet all this would not suffice to arouse in the consciousness of the people such a striking representation as this combination of Plato-Dionysus; for wine has also been praised by many others, and indeed in songs which were sung everywhere, but the Symposium and the Laws can only have been known to a limited number of daring thinkers. Such things always take root in the direct impression which the living personality presents, and in the sure instinct which enables the impersonal multitude to recognise the essential in great personalities, together with the talent of concentrating their feeling into a picture.
    What chiefly characterises Plato is his creative power: Aristotle goes against his master almost word for word, and yet the whole of Aristotle, that is to say, every single creative thought of Aristotle, is contained in Plato and taken from Plato: that can now be irrefutably proved; that the long series of the anti-Aristotelian neo-Platonists equally have their whole being in Plato, and weave their systems out of single threads torn from him, — is a matter upon which it is not necessary to dwell. But this creative power is far more important and active, where it has been at work for more than two thousand years, unrecognised and without the author's name. For Plato is not only the fountain-head of almost all European philosophers of the most various tendencies: he is not only the man who first made method in thinking and investigation possible, and the inventor of a conception of logic and mathematics reaching so far beyond the Aristotelian scheme that we are only now beginning to understand his pre-

13 PLATO

monitions in the light of the higher mathematics; 9 he is not merely so masterful an inventor in the art of speech, that to this day we could not dispense with the conceptions first coined by him of Idea, System, Theory, Hypothesis, Method, Problem, Phantasy, Diagnosis, Analogy, Criterium, Anomaly, and a hundred others (not to mention many admirable words which unfortunately have not yet passed into our language); 10 but Plato, not Aristotle, is also the true founder of natural science: he taught us to SEE, he taught us to group forms in genera and to distinguish them as species, — not that he carried out the practical development of this, but the thought itself of the grouping and the distinguishing is his, it is his invention; and this invention could only have been the work of one who at every point recognised invention in the human intellect as the peculiar function of that organism.
    I can say no more at present. Few people suspect how much we are indebted to the creative power of Plato: by the time we reach the end of this lecture we shall have gone deeper into the question. Here was great inventive and creative power, nameless, seldom to be grasped with hands, everywhere fertilising the intellect, fighting the whole jumble of paragraphs and rubrics, but in every place eloquent or silent as might serve the case: and it was this power which made the people recognise and honour a Dionysian nature in Plato. We of later generations have only the writings, they knew the man himself by experience. “It is silly,“ says Plato, “to believe that we can leave anything behind us in writings, or take in anything in writings. The living word alone is inspired with soul, the written word is only its shadowed image“ (Phaedrus, 275 C, 276 A). How creative must Plato's living presence have been! “Love, oh Socrates, is not, as thou fanciest, only the love for a beautiful form, but love is above all the love of a form to be newly

14 PLATO

created out of the beautiful. For the mortal being conceals an immortal part: the power to create; and so all love makes for immortality. Some, that they may be immortal, rear up children; others whose creative power lies more in the soul than in the body, create works of the intellect, and so become creators of thoughts, of poems, and of every art which springs out of invention“ (Symposium, 206-9). How positive and how productive all this is! Love for the beautiful is the road to wisdom: creation in the beautiful is the road to immortality. The works of the intellect are only such as are created by love and strength, only those in which creative invention has been the informing power.
    The contradistinction to Immanuel Kant is patent; it would be a pity to make it more sharply evident by further insistence. But here we are in the same position as we were in the contrast between Kant and Goethe. At first everything seemed very simple and clear: Goethe all eye, Kant devoid of eye, — Goethe all perception, Kant all abstraction: then it dawned upon us that this first impression, though founded on irrefutable truths, was still superficial. Yet the human soul is apt to be a very complicated affair, and it is just those features which lie half hidden in the depths, the features which the man who merely vouchsafes a glance in passing does not see, which lend to a personality its special and individual character. You will remember that Kant possessed a pre-eminent, if at the same time quite peculiar, power of perception, and the unexpected inference would be that his theoretical views with reference to nature are palpably perceptible, whereas Goethe's remain hovering between that which is seen and that which is thought. Later on we had many opportunities of laying stress upon the great significance of perception in Kant — even in his critique of recognition; we recognise him as the declared enemy of all purely abstract thought

15 PLATO

which turns its back upon perception. Just so you may now look upon Plato — the man intoxicated with beauty, the man caught by the Dionysian frenzy of creation, — not simply as a contrast to and contradiction of Kant. I have already brought out the fact that in many things he stands very near to Kant, and I shall at once dwell further upon that; but I think that you will gain no small advantage, if precisely here, where Plato appears as the antipodes of Kant, you are stimulated through this very Plato to search after features in Kant which might otherwise have remained hidden. Here is the opportunity to use Plato as a magnifying glass. To be sure, the bitterest satire would never draw a comparison between Kant and Dionysus: but we may ask ourselves honestly, was there ever a Teuton in modern times for whom we could claim such a comparison? Even in the popular figure of speech, Apollo-Goethe, there is something which smacks of ridicule. Where there is a distinct boundary-line between two cultures we gain nothing by arbitrarily wiping it out. On the other hand, Kant, if not like Plato an aristocrat and slave-owner, but the simple son of a saddler, is a pattern of the gentlest, proudest, most tactful distinction: in his truthfulness, — in his inviolable pride which defies even the anger of a king, — in his modesty of life and thought, — in his strictness with himself, — in the contentedness which only covets the freedom of the soul, — a new ideal rises before us: it is for us to do honour to such a man as fittingly as the Greeks did to Plato, and that means with just as startlingly bold a look through the outer shell into the inmost being. It was in trifles that the passionateness of Kant's nature, otherwise so well kept in check, betrayed itself. Read with care the accounts of his contemporaries, especially Wasianski's incomparable little book: Kant could not bear people who ate and drank little, he never invited them a second time: he was of indescribable impatience if the servant

16 PLATO

did not bring what was wanted at once: if he charged a friend with a commission, “yes“ for an answer was not enough: it must be “certainly, at once,“ and then Kant would express his thanks with “oh! that is delightful“: he only liked blatant military music, and was impatient because on one occasion at a funeral celebration dirges had been introduced, for he held that in such circumstances heroic sounds should proclaim what is an accomplishment, and the victory over death: in the helpless weakness of his old age he was once, as he sat alone in his room, startled by a thief, but rushed at him with such violence that the thief took to his heels. Kant was in no wise taciturn and gloomy, but, on the contrary, gay and conversational: Schiller, in a letter to Goethe, rightly called him a gay and jovial spirit. A witness above all suspicion, Herder, his bitter opponent who had been his pupil from 1762 to 1764, writes of him. “Kant had the frolicsome merriment of a youngster — his open brow built for thinking was the seat of gaiety, and the most agreeable talk, most rich in thought flowed from his chatty mouth. Fun and wit and humour were at his command ... his public lecture was like a delightful entertainment.“ 11 Jachmann, who knew Kant twenty years later, tells us that “in society he was sometimes so attractively amusing and witty, that his words were like flashes of lightning playing in the cloudless sky.“ And the man who of all others had the longest and most intimate intercourse with Kant, Motherby, a dry English merchant, said that Kant would often speak en petit comité as if he were “inspired by some heavenly power,“ and that by this power of the spoken word he “bound all hearts to him for ever.“ Behind the Kant, as the world of to-day sees him, there stands another Kant whom we have all of us hitherto ignored; think of Kant born by a chance of fate in other surroundings and other circumstances of fortune — something like those of Plato;

17 PLATO

his character would have come to the front with far greater freedom and simplicity. I look upon Kant's much talked of exaggerated pedantic punctilio as a reaction of the Will against temperament. Compulsion is the prominent character of our modern social civilisation: the man who feels a powerful need for soul-freedom will often grasp at the isolating means of an iron self-conquest, of a spasmodic contraction of self; he will meet compulsion with compulsion. We shall even, on closer observation, discover in Kant the glow of inspiration, the “delusion“ which meant to Plato the first step of every true recognition, however much Kant may defend himself against it in his writings, ever declaring his mistrust of all such enthusiasm. Wasianski, for instance, tells the following story. One cool summer when there were few insects about, Kant had several times seen young unfledged swallows lying dead on the ground; astonished at the recurrence of this, he watched carefully, and became aware that it was the parent birds, who, seeing that the means of nourishment would be insufficient for the whole brood, condemned a certain number to death and so made certain of adequate vigour for the others. “Full of amazement, Kant said: 'My imagination stood still; there was nothing left for it but to fall down and worship.' The lofty reverence that glowed in his noble face, the tone of the voice, the folding of his hands, the enthusiasm which accompanied these words, — it was all unique.“ 12 That was no dry mechanical view of nature, and so far as the conception of the moral being of man is concerned, Kant in his fortieth year declared in an unfortunately little noticed writing, Versuch über die Krankheiten des Kopfes (enquiry into the diseases of the brain): “Never has anything been accomplished in the world without enthusiasm.“ So soon as your hearing shall have been sharpened for the purpose, you will hear that rustle of the wings without

18 PLATO

which no man since Plato has been able to soar up into the true love of wisdom, and to no one more than to Kant are those words applicable which Plato adds in the same passage: “the masses do not see that the philosopher is inspired.“ 13
    Here is the place to add a few words about Kant's style and speech.
    Kant is not, like Plato, a poet: he does not start with dithyrambic odes and tragedies, and the sense of the drama and the picturesque which distinguished Plato to the end are for ever wanting in him. Rarely indeed does his language rise to pathetic tones and oratorical brilliancy; it hardly ever happens except where Duty is the subject of his talk: here indeed we feel the passionate heartbeat, but hardly anywhere else. The observation of the similes which he employs leads us nearer to the personal advantages of the Kantian style: these are for the most part original, and have such a special force of perceptibility that they pour a flood of light on very remote tracts of thought; you need only think of the focus imaginarius in our first lecture, and on the sphere of the world in our third; images chosen with equal happiness crop up in him at every moment. But what constitutes the prominent peculiarity of his style is clearness. I am well aware that many deeply learned men and many sensitive souls will shrug their shoulders at the assertion that Kant wrote with exceptional clearness; I am content with Goethe's judgment as warranting my own personal feeling; “nothing is so clear as Kant,“ he remarked to Cousin, and in conversation with Schopenhauer he remarked, “when I read a page of Kant I feel as if I were stepping into a brilliant room.“ 14 Here we are dealing with something special: but I am at a loss to know how to describe it otherwise than by merely pointing to Goethe's word, — “a brilliant room.“ Goethe does not say a beautifully built room, or a finely decorated room,

19 PLATO

he says, “a brilliant room,“ — a room in which one sees clearly. Kant's style is indeed a pure white light without colour, and as such it faithfully mirrors back the personality; le style est l'homme même. A Schopenhauer has all the colours on his palette; his philosophy is a painting; Kant, on the contrary, sets before himself almost exactly the same aim as the author of a book on Physics; to represent the phenomena simply and without circumlocution, to analyse them, to reveal their laws, to show the systematic connection. In what is it that the learned physicist excels the uninstructed layman? Essentially that he observes better what takes place in nature, and sees it more correctly: he sees more, he sees more keenly, and inasmuch as he sees combinations that another does not suspect, he arrives at something which we should be justified in calling “enchanted Seeing.“ Precisely the same are Kant's method and Kant's aim. Rhetoric inspires him with distrust: “eloquence,“ he says, “is an art of cheating by a beautiful sham“; it diminishes “the freedom of judgment“; 15 in the same way he warns us that it is impermissible “on all sides to put perception in the place of the ordered reflection of the understanding and reason,“ that leads to fanaticism, and this method, even when treated by genius, “is lacking in the dryness, and watchfulness, and cold-bloodedness of the power of judgment.“ There you have the programme of his style chosen with true circumspection: — dry, watchful, cold-blooded. It is the same as with life: self-mastery, self-compression. Such a programme means a fundamental resignation of all attempt at producing artistic form: even should the mania of Plato have a home in the heart of the thinker, it still must have no voice. Yet in the hands of genius these principles of style, though united with great and undeniable shortcomings, result in two important properties: a synoptical structure of the Whole, — sharp, un-

20 PLATO

questionable simplicity of meaning in Detail: and out of these two properties there arises that rare and special clearness which Goethe found to be the characteristic of Kant's writings, and that “living manner of expression“ which Jacob Grimm extolled in them. Here it is that the properties of style project beyond speech. People might fight, hate, anathematise, misunderstand Kant's philosophy, but there was no escape from its architectonic omnipotence; to-day all men of culture, even those who know no word of German, philosophise in the conceptions which Kant either coined or converted, and in the schemes which he created. And you will surely admit that such architectonic power is that of a creator, and one nearly related to that of the poet, at any rate as the Greeks understood the word poietes; it belongs to that which Plato called a procreation of thoughts, of poems, and of all art. In the art of architectonics, Kant masterfully overtops the Greek critic of recognition; here it is He that is the poet, and indeed one of the greatest.
    But a stately building needs finely worked ashlar, and the clearness of which Goethe speaks could never have been achieved had not Kant been at the same time in his own fashion a master of the word. I purposely say the word, not the sentence; for in Kant the sentence is mostly clumsy and not seldom ugly: but in the use of words, on the contrary, Kant is as great a master as he is in the arrangement of the whole. Here Kant and Plato meet again; both belong to the really great, epoch-making Lords of Language. In his Geschichte der Philosophischen Terminologie (p. 141), Eucken says, “Here, in Kant, there is such essentially new creation, that all that follows him must start from what he has achieved.“ It is worth while in this connection to observe Plato and Kant at work.
    Plato reflects much upon the essence of language: he will not indeed content himself with the myth of a divine

21 PLATO

origin, for that he considers would be a subterfuge like the Deus ex machina of the tragic poets; yet this instrument of thought must remain sacred and unfathomable (cf. Kratylos, 425). On one occasion he warns us against “the habit which people have of using words now in one sense and now in another, causing in this way the most manifold confusion,“ and yet a few pages further on he lifts his voice no less impressively against the “too precise definition of the meanings of words,“ for the man who attempts that becomes “the slavish subject of the word“ (ανελευθερος), whereas in the use of language a noble freedom is appropriate. Even so he does not invent words out of his inner consciousness, but he breathes a new life into known and much-used words. This is a symbolical proceeding, which means a proceeding born of the spirit of language, since all language is at the outset symbolical. One circle works itself round another without the centre being moved. Take, for instance, the word hypo-thesis. Up to Plato's time it had meant, something placed under, something that carried, a support, a pedestal: now it means the acceptation from which the contemplative mind starts, whether it be to co-ordinate the visible phenomena of nature, or whether it be to soar until it finds beyond nature something transcendent and unconditioned, that is to say, needing no further explanation, the anhypothetic as Plato calls it. Here we have communicated to us a newly discovered fact of the intellect: in this one word a whole philosophical system is conceived by implication; for it had never occurred to any thinker in Greece that we men could either reach “downwards“ to nature or “upwards“ to the conceptions of reason, without making some preconceived assumption, without establishing a support, which should serve in Plato's words as “a step and a spring-board.“ Here we stand in the midst of a deep critique of recognition, — how deep you may gather from the fact

22 PLATO

that Plato also holds up Ideas as hypotheses which a man must “each time take as a basis,“ — υποθεμενος εκαστοτε λογον — from which his thoughts may range upwards and downwards (Phaedo, 100 A and 101 D). So plastic are Plato's words, so inexhaustibly rich in suggestion! From every one of the philosophical expressions introduced by him, modestly founded on colloquial language, thoughts radiate as it were in all directions, and the man who has assimilated the most important of these expressions livingly, that is to say, in the “noble freedom“ of a personal and many-sided being, — that man really possesses Plato in all fullness; the words are not dumb signposts, they are the way itself, hewn out of the primeval forest by Genius. If, however, to complete the picture, you wish to have some experience of the opposite of what you have seen here, that is to say, the poverty of language, take up Aristotle, who defines hypothesis as an uncertain acceptation in contradistinction to a certain one! The fact discovered by critical reflection, that every human thought-structure, whether in relation to the empirical world or to the world of pure thought, rests upon supports which we must take as basis, — this fact falls to the ground, and fades from our sight; Aristotle, that admirable but uncritical brain, of whom Natorp, the best living authority, dared to say that he must have misunderstood Plato in every single statement, 16 — never knew or suspected what “hypothesis“ meant for Plato; indeed, no one can know it unless, like the mountaineer in our last lecture, he has climbed high enough, and then turned round: and so in Aristotle's hands all those glorious words were paled into abstractions, in which shape they have mostly come down to us. Kant, however, is a worthy follower of Plato; he takes endless care in the choice of his words: he breathes new life into them and indeed takes pains to preserve images that have already been coined in philosophy, but which “are lost under

23 PLATO

the heap of others of widely different significance,“ so that it easily happens that “the very thought is lost which they alone could have preserved.“ Kant has a lively sense of the advantages of his mother-tongue. “The German language is the only one among the living learned languages which has a purity that is peculiar to it. All foreign words are always to be recognised in it, ... and so it is worth while to pay attention to it ... foreign words betray either poverty which ought to be concealed, or carelessness.“ Still, Kant stands under the law of that destiny which is common to us all and of which a Plato in his sunny Greece knew nothing: in order to be understood, Kant, in his metaphysical writings, had to borrow two-thirds of the technical expressions for his new thoughts from dead languages, he had, as he himself complains, to clothe his clear German thoughts in “barbarous expressions,“ failing which the German scholars would neither have guessed his meaning nor even have read his books! Dearly, indeed, do nations pay for their mistakes! In a draft letter written in his seventieth year Kant complains to G. Chr. Lichtenberg that “he never was able to escape from the scholastic want of taste,“ and promises “in his next works of this nature to consider the possibility of adding to their nomenclature other words more accessible to the powers of comprehension of ordinary folk.“ 17 But the “critiques“ had already been published; and since we linguistic barbarians did not sufficiently heed the charm and exactitude of Kant's choice and use of words, the master had to complain that “many a one of my parrot-followers uses words with which he connects no sense ... they often make me speak a gibberish that I do not myself understand.“ In order then rightly to judge Kant's linguistic art, we must remember that he inherited the burthen of Greek and Latin words, and that up to his time there had been no such thing as philosophising in

24 PLATO

German. So much the greater is Kant's merit; for if he drew his technical expressions to a great extent from the scholastic arsenal, — not as Plato did from the living speech of the people, — yet nevertheless he, in the first place, wherever it seemed possible without detriment to his purpose, as in the Critique of Pure Reason and in the Power of Judgment, coined German expressions; secondly, he infused so much informing, living power into the worn-out threadbare vocables of the schoolmen, that many of them have since then passed over into the common treasury of language; thirdly, he has over and over again given painfully exact definitions and paraphrases of the scholastic words, and in numberless places has proposed German words which in common use should have equal value with foreign words. That the German language came to be the language of the highest thoughts of the human race, is in the first place due to him. 18
    The comparison of the outer distinguishing signs of Plato and Kant might thus have been brought to an end. We started with their physical form, the condition which fate had allotted to them and their temperaments: by degrees we came to a comparison of style and handling of language. In a certain sense all this may be regarded as belonging to the outer appearance of a man; it makes up what is the first thing that we perceive in him, and forms the foundation, what Plato might perhaps have called the hypothesis, for our appreciation of his inner self. Before we go on to Thinking, to the manner of Seeing, we must complete our comparison between the two men by a glance into their inmost souls. That will be as it were the “what“ of their personality in relation to the “how,“ which we have just attempted to sketch, — whereas the theoretical Thinking floats hither and thither between the two.
    At this point one single consideration will suffice us:

25 PLATO

it goes to the very core of the matter: nothing more is needed. If we turn our attention to the inmost being of these two men, one fact will of necessity at once arrest our attention. It is not only in the result of their Thinking that Kant and Plato are at one, but what attracts them both to the investigation of the human intellect, the goal for which they are both striving, is in both cases identically the same: it was not the satisfying of speculative curiosity, not the solution of abstract professional questions, that drove the one from poetry, the other from mathematics, into philosophy, but what wholly absorbs them is a moral and practical object. Here again at first sight this positive element strikes us more forcibly in Plato than in Kant; but the merest particle of sharp-sightedness and knowledge is enough to show us how from the very beginning, and how lastingly, it was the practical object which gave to Kant also a line to follow.
    Plato's teacher, Socrates, had on principle turned his back upon all science and all professional philosophy in order to confine himself to the consideration of the practically moral interests of man: to this starting-point Plato remained inwardly faithful to the end. I remember how the brilliant Frenchman who first introduced me to Greek philosophy used to impress upon me that “Plato is no philosopher in the true sense of the word; he is a moralist and a politician.“ I soon was compelled to see that this conception was the error of a man with no aptitude for metaphysics; and yet, in the course of years, I at last learnt to understand what a true view lies behind the error. The recognition of the good and the evil (επιστημη αγαθου τε και κακου) is represented by Plato in one of his earliest dialogues as that recognition without which all others taken together are utterly worthless; and not only are Plato's most comprehensive works, the Republic and the Laws, — admittedly devoted to practical political and social

26 PLATO

questions, whilst metaphysics and the critique of recognition are only casually mentioned, — but in almost every single writing, whatever its subject may be, the culminating point lies in the question as to unconditional goodness, whereas the beautiful and the true are usually treated as almost, but not quite, of equal rank. Schiller's dictum, 19

What we once felt here as Beauty

Will one day meet us as Truth —

is an echo of Plato: yet the Beautiful is in Plato's estimation nothing more than the form of the “Good“ as it reveals itself from without to the Eyes of the artist. You have already heard how, according to Plato, the Beautiful must lead to recognition, and so also to the Good; it is only where that succeeds that the Good is to be praised. 20 But the True, according to a remarkable passage in the Philebos, is only mixed up with the Good (μιξομεν) as a secondary principle; the real True, in the meaning in which it is understood by all the world, that is to say, as an objectively empirical truth, is something which is as a rule beyond our reach: that is taught us in the critique of recognition. The simple presumption of the masses and of Aristotle that knowledge occurs in every subject as soon as we have recognised its essence, 21 is so far senseless in that criticism has taught us that we never can recognise the essence of any subject; Truth is certainly related (οικειοτης) to wisdom, but does not embrace it: rather is it only “the idea of the Good“ (του αγαθου ιδεα) which points out of the phenomenon which swings as a pendulum to and fro between understanding and sensibility, and so communicates “a highest wisdom“ (μεγιοτον μαθημα). 22 It is characteristic of this direction towards the practical that Plato from the outset excludes the ignoble and the craven from philosophical teaching: it is beyond their power to learn; without moral nobility no wisdom. And so it is not astonishing

27 PLATO

in one of his ripest writings “the Sophist,“ that he calls his philosophy “the science of free men“ (των ελευθερων επιστημη), and that brings us back to Kant who in a passage, where he is speaking of Plato, gives the beautiful definition, “the practical is that which rests upon freedom.“
    With respect to Kant our judgment is led astray by two circumstances: first of all his Critique of Reason and of the Power of Judgment had a more revolutionary influence, and so stirred up a deeper intellectual movement, than his writings about practical and ethical and religious questions: but then with this was connected the ludicrous fable, to which Heinrich Heine, the witty idler, gave world-wide circulation, that Kant when he was already an old man, frightened at his own critical achievements, hurried to the rescue of the conventional ideals, and that moreover in the interests of the uneducated masses. That is the way in which our unique great men have been treated since the dawn of what Viktor Hehn called “the new Jewish age.“ 23 This would be a matter of small importance, for which a gentle snub would be all sufficient, if there were any such thing as the much to be desired absolute classification of intellects; as it is, no year passes without our meeting with some variation of this blasphemous stupidity in book or article: and if the more sensible people among us know that Heine's joke is all nonsense, even so something of the misrepresentation of Kant sticks to him. The reality is as different as possible. “Philosophy is in truth nothing but a practical knowledge of mankind.... Philosophy is the science of the fitness of all recognitions to the destiny of man.“ So wrote Kant whilst he was at work upon the Critique of Pure Reason (Rep. II, 22), and in that very book he describes his aim as “making the ground level and solid for the erection of majestic moral buildings.“ Kant is in the first instance a mathematician, a logician,

28 PLATO

and a moralist: his chief interest was what he understood by the conception of anthropology which in his view embraced so much, a discipline which his description defines not as the Thing, but as the Goal: opening up the sources of all the sciences, of morals, of skill, of intercourse, of the method of forming and ruling men, and at the same time of every practical activity (Letters, I, 138). These words he wrote while he was preparing for the Critique of Pure Reason. If you will follow carefully the progress of that book, which the publication by the academy of Berlin of Kant's letters has made possible, you will discover that what we now rightly look upon as Kant's masterpiece was, in the first instance, planned merely as something subsidiary. Nature as a whole and human nature in particular, — that was the goal for which Kant steered in the beginning, with hardly a good word to say for metaphysics. The first mention, so far as my memory serves me, of the project out of which in the course of some sixteen years the Critique of Pure Reason was to grow, is to be found in Kant's first letter to the mathematician and philosopher, Lambert, dated December 21, 1765. Here Kant tells us that for many years he has been turning his philosophical reflections in all imaginable directions: that the object of these endeavours is a “special method of metaphysics.“ These metaphysics Kant seems, according to other Letters, to have thought out in two parts: the metaphysics of nature, and the metaphysics of morals, — once more therefore nature, and (in nature) man. Then Kant tells us that he felt himself to be stopped short in this purpose of his, and forced to “go so far from his first proposition,“ inasmuch as it was impossible for him “to exhibit this special method of proceeding of his,“ until he should have “prefaced it by a few smaller exercises“ which would at the same time have the advantage of preventing “the main work from being unduly spun out by too prolix

29 PLATO

and yet inadequate examples.“ Of these smaller exercises Kant only names two, “the metaphysical elementary foundations of world-wisdom,“ and “the metaphysical elementary foundations of practical world-wisdom.“ That is the first germ of all the critiques, the accomplishment of which needed just twenty-five years from that day. The preliminary “smaller exercises“ which were to be the heralds of the masterpiece which he had planned became themselves the great masterpieces of Kant's life, whereas of the great work which he had sketched out only the “elementary foundations“ and a few sheets with fragmentary notes have come down to us. It is striking that Kant even in these early days calls the subject “practical world-wisdom“ just as he did later, whereas neither the conception “Critique“ nor the conception “pure Reason“ have escaped him, but both slumber in the harmless conception “elementary foundations.“ It took a long time, and it needed immense efforts before Kant arrived even at grasping the problem of the critique of Recognition. In 1770 appeared the work written in Latin “upon the condition and the fundamental features of the world of the senses and the world of the understanding,“ which is usually cited simply as “the Dissertation“; 24 the critical problem is indeed half set forth and solved, and in the eighth chapter it is expressly stated that all metaphysics must be preceded by a “science which should teach the distinction between recognition by the senses and recognition by the understanding.“ Yet this important achievement means no more than the climbing of a preliminary step, — Kant has not yet clearly seen his own aim. A year later, in 1771, Kant announces that he is at work upon a treatise under the title of “The boundaries of sensibility and reason“; but here again his work is only meant to treat of critical analysis parenthetically, its object is, independently of that, to deal with the whole science of

30 PLATO

aesthetics, metaphysics, and morals. 25 You see with what difficulty and after what a struggle Kant makes up his mind to leave his aim out of sight even for a short time; the idea of devoting a whole book, let alone three or four books, to the “business of criticism“ as he afterwards often called it, cannot as yet even enter his mind. At last in the following year for the first time the perfectly clear recognition of the problem comes to him, and at the same time the expression eine Kritik der reinen Vernunft, though not yet meant as a title, occurs to him, to be followed again by the assurance that this is only the first part of the work which he has planned, with, as a sequel, “the pure principles of Morals.“ Kant was at that time hoping to finish this first part “within about three months“; and yet two whole years later, at the end of 1773, he had to announce that he was still trying to level “his thorny and hard ground and make it free for his general work,“ and with an audible sigh he adds, “I shall be glad when I have brought to an end my transcendental philosophy, which is really a critique of pure reason: then I must go on to metaphysics in which there are only two parts, the metaphysics of nature and the metaphysics of morals, of which I shall produce the latter first, and am congratulating myself upon it in advance“ (Letters, I, 126, 137). He feels the critique to be a task forced upon him of which he would gladly be free, but upon the practically edifying doctrine of morals he congratulates himself. From this time it still took eight years before the Critique of Pure Reason was finished, and seventeen before the other critiques, which indeed formed parts of it, were done with: that was a fulfilment of duty as Kant understood it. “I am as stiff-necked as ever in my determination not to allow myself to be led away by any literary seductions to seek for fame in an easier and more attractive field.“ And what was the reason of this “stiff-neckedness“ if the business

31 PLATO

of criticism said less to him than that which is practical? The same letter gives the answer: I am illuminated by a hope, of which I could speak to no one but you lest I should be suspected of inordinate vanity, — the hope of being able by this means to turn philosophy lastingly into a new direction far more advantageous to religion and morals.“ Once more, four years after this letter and four years before the completion of the Critique of Pure Reason, he complains, “What I call the Critique of Pure Reason lies like a stone in the road, the removal of which now alone occupies me, and with which I hope to be at an end this winter“ (Letters, 28. 8. 77). Ten years later, when he was able to look back upon his Critique of Pure Reason as an accomplished work, he summed it up in these words, “I had to do away with knowledge in order to make way for faith.“
    This little historical digression travels outside the frame of these lectures: but how could you gain a right conception of Kant's intellectual personality, if its central point, the driving will, remained unknown to you? The very fact which I have just exhibited opens up unexpected psychological outlooks in every direction. You remember, perhaps, that in the Bruno lecture we discovered a parodoxical relation: the mystics, absorbed altogether in the contemplation of their own Ego, sometimes perceive the outer world, from which they have apparently turned aside, with the distinctness of a vision, and so become the pathfinders of empirical science: 26 whereas men of genius who, like Descartes, will not even hear of the science of the schools, sometimes work as renewers and fertilisers of metaphysical thought. A precisely similar relation occurs between Plato and Kant, and is characteristic of their whole lives and thoughts: the man who takes no heed of this will never grasp these personalities in their inmost being. Both are moralists and sociologists, even though in Plato it is the politician, in Kant the

32 PLATO

anthropologist, who is predominant: both are decided antimetaphysicians, and are never weary of harping upon and ridiculing the fruitlessness of the endeavours of all professional and systematising philosophers; yet both find themselves under the necessity through their practical aims of busying themselves with metaphysics, and, just because they are practical men, at once lay hold of the analytical criticism of the human power of recognition in general: it is for them a subsidiary, passing, almost burthensome, business, but it is one which is indispensable for their object: then the Demon seizes upon them and will not set them free, for now they have attained knowledge, and that means isolation: men have ceased to understand them, and yet, their ethics, their sociology, their religion, that which depends upon them, which was their object at starting, that which is now the spoil of their bow and spear, — all this they cannot make known to others, unless they have first succeeded in communicating the critical appreciation upon which their whole philosophy now rests; in order to attain that it must be continually worked up more and more distinctly, for ever set out in new ways, or exemplified by other relations; so by degrees the subsidiary becomes the chief work: both are unconsciously pressed into the service of Providence; they die without having achieved that which they had desired to achieve, and have in that very way brought to perfection that which they, out of the whole human race, were alone fitted to accomplish.
    We shall only come to Kant as a moralist in the next lecture; here it was only important to make use of the comparison with Plato in order to establish once for all this central fact of Life and Thought.
    Though it needs no little courage we must now attack the most difficult point — that peculiar manner of seeing the difference between Things and ourselves which gives birth to that “Critical Thought“ which it is so hard to

33 PLATO

express in words. Here, as I said at the outset, we may expect a by no means insignificant help from the fact that the poetically gifted Plato is rather inclined to give positive expression to critical recognition, to look upon it as a liberation out of the mist of indistinctness (συνκεχυμενον) (Rep. 524 C) into daylight, — in consequence of which Kant compares him to a dove which “cleaves the air in free flight.“ Whereas Kant himself, the circumspect northerner, whose eyes have become keener in the hyperborean night, sees the chief value of criticism in its negative performances, that is to say, in once for all keeping reason within bounds and consequently in warding off errors, comparing it prosaically not to the free flight of the soaring bird, but, — I hardly dare use the word, — to the Police. 27 It is my purpose in the first place to take Plato into consideration by himself, only pointing here and there to Kant by way of elucidation; next, in order really to understand Plato and not merely to chew the cud of language, we shall have, as in the former lectures, to undertake an incursion into actual perceptible subjects in which the phenomenon of life itself will serve as the best representation of the ever insoluble intellectual strife between what we are and what we are growing into: fortified by this touch of empiricism, we shall then briefly contrast Plato with the heroes of our former lectures — Goethe, Leonardo, Descartes, Bruno, and so find our way back once more to Kant.
    “The real lover of wisdom,“ says Plato in the Republic, “is the man who craves for the perception of truth“ (φιλοθεαμων) (Rep. 475 E). “Craving for the perception of truth“; in these words are comprised a confession and a programme: it is the confession of an individuality which in order to know must see, and which therefore will always and everywhere seek for the gift of perceptible from (the programme), even in abstract thoughts. For where there is nothing to be seen, and seeing is yet a

34 PLATO

necessity, there fiction must be resorted to, and fiction is the programme. The confession and the programme testify to a predominantly affirmative nature; here the advantage is perceptibility, — the disadvantage is that the whole philosophy, however keenly critical Thinking may be at work, exhibits itself in a system of allegories interwoven among themselves; the great majority of mankind then contents itself with the allegory, takes little notice of the surrounding infinitely delicate web of thoughts, of the smiling irony of the inventor directed against himself, and of his oft-repeated purpose, — but takes the picture which is to communicate recognition for the recognition itself, out of which there arise the most monstrous structures of thought (as in the neo-Platonists), whilst the prosaic scholars, with Aristotle at their head, laugh at Plato as a dreamer. Yet Plato has in a hundred passages laid stress upon the allegorical and poetic side of his teaching. For instance, the famous allegory, to which we shall return presently, of the chained men in the cave in the seventh book of the Republic, is expressly designated by Plato as a picture (εικων); in the Phaedo he calls his representation “the second-best course,“ since the direct representation is impossible. In other places he speaks of “Dream-pictures which often hover before him“ (Kratylos, 439 C), and of discourses of which “he does not know whether he heard them waking or in a dream.“ But all that only concerns the outer, rough walls of the building: we only arrive at the road to the understanding of Plato when we have learnt to see that not only are these manifest allegories parables, but that in his case one parable contains another, and this again a third, and so on into the finest detail of the architecture, and that too for the simple reason that, as I have just shown, in critical thought the only possible affirmative expression is a parable. Little has been effected therefore if we recognise as allegories the great famous allegories of the waggon of souls, of the dwellers

35 PLATO

in the cave, of the Island Atlantis, of the mutinous sailors, and so forth. Even Aristotle possessed as much insight as that; — we must learn to understand that all the chief conceptions or rather chief representations of Plato, like the idea, memory, participation, etc., are equally parables, and in a far more refined sense: every one of such representations is the pictorial expression for a thought. Plato, urged on by his genius, has by immense tension of thought travelled over the road from within to without; what he reveals are visions, creations of the metaphysical artist, demanding of us that we should travel back over that same road, and thus reach those thoughts which defied speech. And so it will not do for us to stop anywhere half-way, as the wish might take us, — as we might in all true symbolism — saying Here I will stay, I can climb no further. The symbol is the Thing itself, a cosmic fact, taken more broadly or more narrowly, as you please: but one parable, on the contrary, points from itself to another. In Plato then we have to look at the picture as such through and through, until we reach the core of thought, otherwise we have irretrievably misunderstood the thinker, and know no more of him than we do of a closed book of which we admire the binding and the tooling without any knowledge of its contents. Plato is never quite without a picture, not even in such an abstract-dialectical essay as the Parmenides, for even the form of dialogue and the scenic effect are enough to surround every one of his essays with poetry; and if our eyes saw nothing more than the interlocutors, even that would be a “perception“; we must read the thoughts in the faces: Plato has so willed it. Here at last we touch the living centre of the Platonic method of teaching. He is dealing with that which is not to be expressed in speech. The gift of speaking in pictures was Heaven's gift to him, but the necessity for it lay in the subject itself. But what words cannot express, that pictures

36 PLATO

cannot express either: they are not lectures but signs, something like speaking with a deaf man by gestures and play of countenance. Sometimes, however, every picture perceptible to the senses is powerless, and then Plato pursues this same course of suggestion by parables in a field where the senses have no being: paradoxical as this may seem it may be hoped that it will lead you to the consciousness that the critical analysis of recognition, brought forward in a positive sense, always speaks in a figurative sense, — that it never does more than stimulate and indicate, even where it does not present itself as openly allegorical, but logically dialectic. It is impossible to understand Plato's dialectics apart from his allegory: there is no sharp dividing line: it always demands something which the reader is to accomplish: until he has done that, — until he has “travelled over the road,“ — he has not understood Plato. You remember how Plato spoke of “creating in the soul,“ and how the ancients revered in him an intellect akin to Dionysus; creation seems to me something essentially different from proof: Plato's work then, whether in parables or in words, has for its object a creation. That, with reference to his method of exegesis, is the last word of the secret.
    With this method, unwillingness to prove and unwillingness to schematise, is connected the reserve so characteristic of Plato and his almost timid modesty. He knows that he cannot express in words what he means: hence the expression “the second-best course,“ which recurs in a hundred variations. When Meno interrupts Socrates with his admiring acquiescence, he replies, “I myself am not sure that I was right in what I said“ (Menon, 86), and in the Phaedo he says, “no sensible man will be ready to assert that what I have just said exactly corresponds with the truth“ (114 D). In the middle of a deep theoretical investigation of recognition he interrupts himself, “It would need a great

37 PLATO

man to decide this point: I cannot trust my powers in the matter“; 28 and on another occasion we see exactly how he screens his eyes with his hands when he exclaims: “it may be so, but there again, when I have taken up this position, I run away because I am afraid of falling into a bottomless pit of nonsense, and perishing“ (Parmenides, 130 D). Plato is a discoverer in precisely the same sense as Columbus and Kant: he is conscious of it: he possesses no chart of the new country: every step is a surprise, and every step needs prudence. Hence the groping, almost timid attitude in the investigation of the virgin soil immediately followed by over-haste and audacity such as we only find in the inexperienced. Here again is Plato the great artist; it is not in the form of speech only that he is dramatic, — that again is after all an allegory — rather is the true drama played in his own mind, and with consummate art he allows us to share in all his adventures. That is why no schematic, no systematic and no purely learned method, arrives at the true understanding of Plato. For that artistic taste and delicacy, an animated and free intellectual life, are essential.
    It must be clear how important these remarks are for our aim; not only is Plato's method of Seeing here already in part described, but we know in what way we must prosecute our investigation. For we know that Plato's works exhibit the passionate life-drama of an intellect devoted to Thinking, and in a life things do not stand side by side as they do in a system, but they develop themselves out of one another. Here the symbol once more asserts itself. From the earliest work of his youth to the greatest literary effort of his old age — the Laws — we all the time see exactly the same Plato; he develops himself, but he does not change; any seer a kindred intellect could in almost every dialogue, taken at choice, recognise the fundamental principles of

38 PLATO

the Platonic philosophy; and yet the assertion that Plato never comes to an end, that he is always repeating what has gone before and bringing forward something new, is equally true; the keenest-witted professor of method could never succeed in reducing this philosophy into a formula or into any system of formulae. To what an extent is this mode of thinking an experience of life! Here then it would be vain to seek for any absolute immutable dissection of thought and verbal definitions; for here from the first day to the last it is always a question of search, never of settlement. This sort of thinking overflows every receptacle, because nature reflects itself in its almost spotless purity, often soaring on all sides above the human brain. Anaxagoras is greater than his work; his Nous is a compromise between what he suspects and what he wills, between his love of truth and his need for a logical rounding off: even an Aristotle is greater than his work, and is therefore able to give it form with such arbitrary precision; he is absolutely wading in compromises, that is to say, in thoughts and definitions, in which neither he nor any one else ever put any real faith. Plato, on the contrary, is without any lie: the deepest critical discretion in him goes hand in hand with a proud innocence: “I am amazed at my own wisdom, and always remain in doubt about it“ (Krat. 428 D); and so his work carries him as the ocean does the ship. What we then, — we who neither aspire to a history of Platonic thought, nor to fathoming the Platonic philosophy, but only to affording a plastic sketch of its outlines, — what we have to seek for, and in regard to which we must become perfectly clear, is on one side the permanent symbolism of the Life devoted to Thought, and on the other side the various and varying allegories which express the thought to which that life was devoted.
    If we begin by taking notice of the great, lasting and symbolically valuable characteristics in Plato, we observe

39 PLATO

that two of them are already familiar to us, namely, first the care for the moral well-being of man as the foundation and starting-point of all Plato's thought, and secondly, the imperative necessity of seeing everything with the eye, a tendency from which his method of exposition is derived. To these yet a third must be added. For as soon as we take into consideration specific Thinking as such, it is certainly the critical posing of the question, simply and solely, and with no reference to result, which is the decisive point. Of what kind then is this posing of the question upon which criticism is founded?
    Criticism must not for a moment be confounded with scepticism. The most famous Sceptics of Greece were Plato's contemporaries; he looks upon them as dangerous enemies: they make everything unstable, and annihilate true morality together with true science: they are the frivolous element in philosophy, and Plato can find no better simile for them than that of “snapping curs.“ Neither must there be any amalgamation of the sensual theory. The philosopher of the sensual school is like a coachman without horses, who stands in the street cracking his whip, and fancies that the crack of the whip will suffice to carry him on his way. That perceptions are communicated through the senses, and that therefore our notions of things depend upon the mechanism of the senses, is a right view and as old as the hills: yet it only affects our anatomical psychology, not our metaphysical reflection. Plato settles the sensualistic objection in his simple fashion observing, “with what do we see? with what do we hear? not with the eyes and with the ears, but by means of the eyes and by means of the ears ...  It would be a cruel thing, my son, if all these perceptions like the warriors in the belly of the wooden horse before Troy were to lie side by side without all combining in one fixed ideal unity (μια ιδεα) — call it soul (consciousness), or what you will; and it is this unity which by

40 PLATO

means of those instruments (literally, organs) perceives that which is perceptible.“ 29 So he points back to the centre of the question of critical recognition: What is that unity without which the countless perceptions never can make for the building up of the single experience? “Call it what you will“ — psyche, that is breath, the breath of life, the power of life, heart, soul, consciousness, — Plato never haggles about words (cf. Rep. 533 E); as he says, “it is always better to come to an agreement about the thing itself than about the name which we give it“ (Sophist, 218 C). But this “thing itself,“ this ideal unity, what is it? What do we know of it? “A man may lay himself flat upon his back the better to watch the stars, yet he will always be looking downwards, not upwards: the soul is only directed upwards when it asks itself the question, What is Being, what is the invisible?“ 30 How are we to arrive at any conclusion about nature and ego, about the origin of Things, about unity and plurality, about what we are and what we are growing into, about virtue and duty, if we have never asked ourselves what, after all, is experience?
    We may assert that apart from the purely practical political and educational lectures, all Plato's works, from the first to the last, have reference to the answering of this question, What is experience? And even his practical views are so closely connected with this nucleus of his metaphysical Thinking that we meet with the deepest investigations into the criticism of recognition in a work like the Republic. And in the manner which is peculiar to him of treating everything as a matter of perception, Plato himself felt the mental impulse out of which this question arises, as a bodily movement: as a turning round of himself. “Most men do not suspect that they do not know the essence of Things“ (Phaedrus, 237); but out of this condition of ingenuous unconsciousness they cannot be awakened by degrees by a gift of fragments

41 PLATO

of critical insight, any more than a man sitting in a dark dungeon can send his eye alone up into the light unless his whole body goes with it: “the whole soul“ must be laid hold of and turned from the one direction into the other, what Plato calls “the art of turning round“ (τεχνε της περιαγωγης) (Statesman, 518 C D). The main point is that instead of consulting the Things, — the so-called, ostensible Things, — we should first investigate the recognition of things, the manner in which this recognition comes into existence; our looks must be directed inwards instead of outwards. “It seems to me ridiculous that I should be looking at other Things, so long as I remain ignorant about myself; so I leave them alone and look searchingly into myself, to see whether haply I may discover some more tortuously formed, some more raging monster, than the dragon Typhon, — or whether maybe the nature of man is tamer and simpler, and at the same time made after the fashion of the gods, though less high-flying“ (Phaedrus, 230 A). This decisive attitude of life, which is in reality a fact, since it means a change in the direction in which the intellect habitually advances, would lead me much further if it had not been dealt with in detail in the contrast between Kant and Bruno (I, 422, seq.). I think you will hardly have forgotten my simile of the mountaineer; everything which I said there with reference to Kant holds good with mathematical precision of Plato; in this respect the standpoint of the two men is identical. Just as Kant threw aside all “isms“ because “there are no true polemics in the field of pure reason,“ so Plato threw aside all the systems and dogmas which he saw around him, because they all proceeded from “uncriticism,“ and because all these proud structures of the philosophers appear as unsubstantial shadows to the eye of the intellect which has “turned round.“ Kant ironically compares the philosophers to the heroes of the Walhalla who hack

42 PLATO

one another to pieces one day and on the morrow grow together again: Plato just in the same way laughs at “the monstrous fights and tumults“ of the different schools, and he dubs as “nursery tales“ the doctrines of the monists, of the dualists, and of those who try to act as mediators between the two. When he has reduced them all ad absurdum he too begins to consider the two possible attempts dogmatically to cut the Gordian knot, — that is to say, the “tame“ doctrine of absolute idealism, and the “arbitrary“ perceptions of the materialists, “difficult or perhaps impossible to conquer“ on account of their inborn limitation, and he shows that in the light of critical discretion both conceptions are senseless. 31 Of the perfect type of the non-critic, the absolute opposite to his own method of thought he has had little or no experience: it was Aristotle who literally did what Plato had turned into ridicule, and “lay flat on his back“ in order to find out from the movements of the heavenly bodies, how many spirits, substances and aims go to make up the world (see p. 42).
    These then are the three intellectual attitudes which characterise Plato's Thinking throughout his whole life; no one can correctly appreciate him without rightly observing and understanding them; they are (1) practically moral pressure as the mainspring of knowledge; (2) perception with the eyes as method of knowledge; (3) inward “turning round“ as condition of knowledge. A more refined analysis would yield further results, but this will be sufficient for our object.
    The matter assumes a far more difficult shape when we cross over from these most universal, permanent qualities of Thinking to the Thoughts themselves; for Plato's poetical method has for its result that one and the same thought crops up in very different forms: so far his Thinking is more difficult to grasp, I mean to grasp in the shape of formulae, than that of any other philosopher in

43 PLATO

the history of the world. But what we have just ascertained about the three directing, permanent intellectual predispositions will be of service to us here; the symbols will be made to help us to disentangle the fundamental allegories out of the mass. For it is clear at once that round every one of these three driving forces (if I may so call them) a main group of inter-related allegories will form itself like steel filings round the pole of a magnet. If once we have recognised in their significance these pictures which lie nearest to Plato's Thinking, then it will be easier for us to make further discoveries.
    In regard to what appertains to the practically moral mainspring as the first intellectual attitude, it is evident that the very goal of all Platonic Thinking must correspond to it, — not therefore the critical enquiries, but the moral result, — and that, in consequence, the allegory here is nearly connected with the more ordinary, vulgar meaning of the word. And as a matter of fact those dialogues which are the richest in their scope are devoted to the delineation of ideal social organisations, which should serve as patterns, and of which Plato expressly says that it is immaterial whether they are possible to carry out or not, it is the setting up of an “example,“ or as we should say to-day of an “ideal“; here we have again Perception as the guiding star for the apprehension of thoughts. It is not incumbent on us to examine more closely the ethical-political question.
    Perception as method and “turning round“ as a condition of knowledge stand on a different footing: here matters are not so perspicuous, — and it becomes all the more necessary to throw light upon them: for round these two permanent directions of thought are formed the two great groups of allegories in which Plato's whole critical Thinking takes shape. We will consider first the one group, then the other.
    That rich complex of notions, for which Plato himself

44 PLATO

had no single word, but out of which after-ages, under the lead of Aristotle, coined the conception “the Platonic doctrine of ideas,“ is really nothing more than the great multiform allegory which was bound to arise so soon as seeing with the eyes formed the method of thought, and in consequence the criticism of recognition assumed an actually perceptible shape.
    The real knowledge of what is meant by “idea“ would be the beginning and end of an exact knowledge of Plato's philosophy. Here I can only give a few hints. And in the first place it is very important to remark that it is true that he thought the thought and took pains to project it into visibility in numberless colours and forms, though he never knew a word for it, its name, its label, and at the same time its sharp limitation and realisation, by which I mean that no special word ever possessed the systematic meaning for Plato which we give to the word “Idea.“ Here again the origin of misunderstanding is Aristotle, who in the notorious sixth chapter of the first book of his Metaphysics, gives the pattern of a description woven out of misconception and depreciation upon the subject of Plato's so-called doctrine of ideas, and pretends that this doctrine arises out of the most confused scissors-and-paste-work of the thoughts of other philosophers, already none too perspicuous; here he makes the assertion that Plato called definitions (ορισμοί) of things the “ideas“ of that which is (των οντων ιδεας). What we are to make of this remains just as unimaginable as what arises from the further position that Plato had no knowledge of matters of the senses; so definitions taken from heaven knows what notion remain as the essence of Being; and that is the doctrine of Ideas! and thus we hear good, honest Seneca, whose popularising philosophy and doctrine of morals till a short time ago exercised such a determining influence upon the conceptions of all cultured Europeans, saying in answer to Lucilius, “you ask what

45 PLATO

ideas may be? they are the stock-in-trade peculiar to Plato which he called Ideas,“ etc. 32 From Seneca's time to that of Eduard Zeller in our day, you will find much the same unthinkable talk about this peculiar “stock-in-trade“ of Plato's, the doctrine of Ideas; it is for this reason that even tolerably sensible people look upon Plato as the prototype of the dreamer in the clouds. But if instead of the notices of others you take in hand Plato's own writings, which a kindly fate has preserved for us so fully and in such good condition as is the case with few works of antiquity, you will be astonished nowhere to come upon this “stock-in-trade of Plato's,“ nowhere, that is to say, in the shape in which you would expect to find it according to Aristotle and all the books on the history of philosophy. Even from a linguistic point of view the matter is quite different from what we are led to believe; for if you cast about for the corresponding word in Greek, you will discover that there are two different words for our modern word “idea,“ ειδος and ιδέα. Plato uses both words freely, and indeed in such a fashion that they sometimes exactly coincide and are even substituted without any distinction the one for the other, as, for example, at the beginning of the tenth book of the Republic, where the meaning is so absolutely identical, that where the same sentence is repeated at one time ιδεα, at the other ειδος is employed, and both words may constantly be translated by Idea, or Conception, or Notion, or Form, as you please. But the fact that there are cases where ειδος and ιδέα can be used indifferently does not prove that the two words are interchangeable, and as a matter of fact Plato does not so regard them: Hermann Cohen's fundamental work, The Platonic Doctrine of Idea (die Platonische Ideenlehre), 33 has set that matter at rest and that indeed has since then been forced even upon the unlearned, since it not infrequently happens that eidos and idea are contrasted in

46 PLATO

the same sentence. 34 As you will see more clearly in the further course of the lecture, it is here that the true core of thought lies. As in every seen form there is a double, space shut out and space shut in, which an impalpable boundary line separates, so the Idea always expresses a relation at once combining and opposite between two things, and therefore is on the look out for two directions. Lest you should plague yourselves with mere sounds of words, I will at once make the interpolation that Plato in the main uses eidos for the comprehensible, idea for the perceptible side of the same notional complex; eidos is rather thought than seen, idea rather seen than thought; they meet in the centre line and have there just the same meaning; but they can part asunder even to the point of contradiction. This relation is precisely analogous to that between “conception of reason“ and “idea“ in Kant, with which we became acquainted in the first lecture (p. 82). I can, moreover, give you a perceptible example; Plato sometimes uses eidos, with genos, for that which we moderns call a genus in the animal kingdom, idea he often uses for species; the conception species attaches itself to the directly perceived individuals, and is therefore, at any rate in theory, pure perception coupled with a conceivable analysis of what we have seen; genus, on the contrary, is a conception drawn from several species, and is therefore entirely thought, even though it be a thought gained out of perception: yet in the practical investigation of nature it is never easy to keep genus and species apart; what one zoologist or botanist holds to be a species, — that is to say for the collective conception of individuals actually seen with the eyes, — another will hold to be a genus, — that is to say, for an abstract conception to which no perceptible being directly corresponds. That is just the relationship between eidos and idea in Plato; and since he is a living man subject to changes, who knows nothing of the strait-

47 PLATO

waistcoat of Aristotelian subtilisations, it may happen that he sometimes uses eidos and idea to express the same thing: it resolves itself into a question of perspective. 35 But how gross must be a method of thinking which marks nothing of all this delicate organism of thought with the two almost synonymous and nevertheless often contradictory words, and simply declares, “Plato calls the definitions of things ideas“! Here we come to a full stop — a real precipice. But there is more to come.
    As I said at the outset, Plato indeed thought his thought, but he neither introduced it methodically nor perfected it technically; what may be called his “doctrine of ideas“ is no systematic doctrine, but a living part and parcel of his whole method of thinking; and whilst we are quietly theorising over “Plato's peculiar stock-in-trade,“ it is in reality impossible in the majority of cases to translate eidos and idea, as Plato uses them, by the word “idea,“ whereas, on the contrary, we are not seldom prone to employ the word “idea“ where he makes use of other words. Plato attaches to eidos and idea the meaning usual in Greece: — visible shape, appearance, form which ends by giving the conception of “quality“ or even “essence.“ It follows that eidos-idea must be translated by the most different words and sometimes even by whole sentences, if the modern reader is to obtain an approximate notion of the meaning. In the work of the best translators we find form, fundamental form, perception, conception, species, character, law, unity, genus, essence, tendency, pattern, view, and many more; periphrases are common, as “species and form,“ “a certain unity,“ “general fundamental form,“ etc. And where one translator writes “fundamental form,“ the second writes “conception,“ the third “unity,“ and the fourth “idea.“
    What I should wish to hammer into you is that this word “idea“ is not in Plato, as it is later in Kant, a hard-

48 PLATO

and-fast, defined conception, and that for that reason it must never be taken in a purely technical sense, but that we must recognise in it one allegory among others though it may be the central allegory, and therefore conspicuous on all sides, and borne like a boat upon the ocean by the profound thought which underlies it. Thoughts must be perceived by the eyes; that is Plato's method. Idea means sight which recognises, and so it comes about that the two words eidos and idea, which in many cases might be best rendered by “thought made visible,“ play an important part in Plato, even though it may not be quite so dominant as people are apt to maintain. 36
    Since we have not the power to break the habit of tens of centuries, and since we have guarded ourselves against the misuse of the word, we must just use the word “idea,“ and include in it, for the sake of convenience, the allegories for the whole compass of critical insight which forms itself round the centre of the Platonic doctrine of recognition; the eternal misunderstanding that the idea is itself the doctrine, that Plato built up a dogma upon “ideas,“ unintelligible abstract quiddities, a world beside the world, is something which I hope we need no longer fear. And so we can go bravely to work to define what it is that we are to understand by “idea“ in Plato. Space as form of the sensitive faculties, the conceptions of the understanding or categories, Time as mediator, the principles as Kant calls them which are the consequence of all of these — (size, measure, tenacity, etc.), reason with its rational conceptions, and ideas, in the narrower sense of the word, nay more, even ideals, the representation of the true and the beautiful, — all these very different notions are designated by Plato by the word eidos or idea as the spirit moves him, and indeed by other words which in the same way signify genus, species, visible unity, etc. They are all “ideas“ in the sense of the Platonic allegory. But not they alone, but

49 PLATO

also, indeed I should say in the front rank, the countless host of notions which even to this day are often called “ideas“ in common talk, namely all nomina appellativa, collectiva, and materialia, i.e. names of genera, collective names, names of materials, names of qualities, and so forth. Not only then the Where, the When, and the Why, not only the distinction between great and small, limited and unlimited, not alone Ego, Nature, and God, not only truth and beauty, world-creation, evolution, atoms, aether, are ideas, but ideas are also man, dog, blue, bed, flute, etc., ad infinitum.
    The definition must be as follows: Idea is everything through which unity is created.
    Plato himself seldom gives definitions: but on one occasion he writes, “whenever by any means we can condense a plurality to a unity which we can furnish with a name, then we have an eidos“ (Republic, 569 A). Sensibility, the visible (το ορατον) as Plato calls it, creates plurality; the understanding, as Plato says, the invisible (το αορατον), or the genus and domain of that which is thinkable (το νοητου γενος τε και τοπος) (Republic, 509 D), creates unities in this boundless and formless plurality: that occurs by the intermediary of ideas. Plato sees a rich, a perhaps endless, sequence of such unity-creating ideas, beginning quite low clown among the simplest perceptions, binding plurality into unity in ever wider and wider circles, till at last in the loftiest heights the one all-embracing idea of the good, — that is to say, the conception of the goal as form of thought — binds exclusively in one single unity all that is, and was, and is to be. In later times the neo-Platonists and theological gnostics created out of this graduated scale all sorts of wonderful and not very agreeable fancy pictures, a whole abstract mythology; in Plato, however, it cannot be taken too simply or too palpably. In opposition to the superficial historical stencil you must learn to perceive that Plato is through-

50 PLATO

out an observer and an empiric: — not in the same sense as Newton, though he is so in the same sense as Leonardo, as to which I shall have more to say later; the eye is his organ, and so his business was everywhere to point to perception in combination, the seeing of unity in plurality, as the foundation of our intellectual life; and here it was not the hypothesis of various different powers that could help him, as it did the negative critic and analyst Kant, but in his case everything that makes for the creation of unity was one and the same power in various stages of application. Wherever thoughts bring flight to a standstill, and give shape to the shapeless, there is, the formation of ideas. Without these unifying ideas there would be indeed no recognition, no knowledge, no experience (γνωσις), nothing but the irrelative transmutation of Heraclitus (cf. Kratylos, 440), the continual flow of blind perceptions. But you do not yet understand Plato, but are, on the contrary, rather on the wrong road, until you have perceived that with him it is just as much the business of ideas to separate as to unite. Each function is of equal importance: the diairesis, taking to pieces, is just as important as the bringing together, synagoge (Phaedrus, 265 seq.). Everything which creates unity is idea, as I said: yes, but that which out of a more important, more universal unity creates other minor and more strictly circumscribed unities, equally thereby creates unities. Idea which is the same as species has no less significance as unity than eidos which is genus: indeed, the converse would perhaps be more true. If the human intellect were pushing for absolute unity, and did not form for itself ideas on different stages, thus dividing up every single unity into many unities, then “the chaos of Anaxagoras would come to the front“ (Phaedo, 72 C). You see how far we are from Bruno, Plotinus, Spinoza, and the whole tribe of monists: Plato, far from falling on his knees before absolute unity, is of opinion that it would

51 PLATO

be even worse than no unity! It is not for that reason only, he says in the Philebos, that it is not sufficient to know that on the one side there is unity, and on the other side unlimited plurality, but what is worth determining is “the number of the how many“; it is not until we possess the ultimate attainable unities that we are in a position “to sacrifice to the unlimited“ the mass of the uncountable individuals. He expresses even more precisely in the Sophist the way in which he imagines this organisation partly in rising stages, partly in branches standing out from one another; “whoso understands how to separate will also perceive with sufficient keenness one single idea in the plurality which is scattered in single phenomena; but then he will remark that many such different unities are in turn encompassed in a new idea, and that many of these ideas (of a higher order) are again locked together in a unity, while many others (out of this new idea) remain absolutely apart.“ 37 You observe that this ladder of stages is in no way systematically logical, but that Plato here, as always, travels along the road of empirical experience, that is to say, of perception. “The plurality which is scattered in single phenomena“ is consolidated into a series of unities such as man, dog, oak, palm, iron, gold: on closer consideration, — or as Plato would say, by more powerfully concentrated vision — I discover that many of these ideal unities are in turn joined together into new ideas, as man and dog into “animal,“ oak and palm into “plant,“ iron and gold into “metal,“ and then again animal and plant into “living being,“ whereas the idea metal “remains absolutely apart.“ Thus ideas unite and ideas separate, and the one no less than the other implies the “creation of unity.“ Besides this we may remain fixed at any stage that we please; what was up to now idea may now be conceived as eidos, for every idea, no matter on what stage it stands, is a Whole. In order to

52 PLATO

obtain this Whole, — this ideal unity, — we had in the first place “by concentrated contemplation to reduce to one idea that which was scattered in every direction.“ But now if we wish to analyse this Whole correctly, that is to say, to dissect it into ideas, we must first have rightly comprehended “the nature of the Whole“ (του ολου φυρις) (Phaedrus, 265 seq.). So we build up the greater unities out of the smaller, and yet we obtain the smaller ones from the exact perception of the greater, which does not signify so long as unities be created, for that alone is the important point. 38
    So the idea swings backwards and forwards like a busy creature, defining everywhere not abstract, but perceptible forms, not logical definitions, but organic unities. To have ideas means to unite, to separate, to organise; and I imagine that you must begin to understand how far Plato is justified when in the domain of the invisible he speaks of seeing, and asserts that the attainment and cultivation of this inner seeing, of this sense of the soul (οργανον τι ψυχης), is more important “than the possession of ten thousand eyes“ (Rep. 527 D E). For where would be the power of the eye unless the understanding were by contemplation to unite that which is merely seen mechanically into thought-forms? Not till that takes place is there any Seeing. True, the eye sees, but only confusedly; the thing seen only becomes distinct with the co-operation of thought directed upon it (Rep. VII, 524). It is this Seeing which penetrates the whole of Plato's intellectual structure; his philosophy (Weltanschauung, perception of the world) is Seeing in its highest power. To this must be referred the perceptible ordering of ideas, the visible setting forth of all their relations to one another, a living architectonic system, rather to be compared to an organic being than to an artificial structure. Besides this, Plato always takes his stand upon the concretely seen; he is loath to leave it, and is ever rejoining it, so that he derives

53 PLATO

even the highest ideals from the contemplation of what is actually seen by the eyes, as, for instance, when he calls up the Idea of the unconditionally beautiful out of the contemplation of single beautiful bodies. The logician will object that such a proceeding presupposes the conception of beauty, etc. That we may look upon as immaterial; 39 all that we are interested in is the way in which Plato set to work: Plato himself admits that this doctrine of ideas — if indeed any such thing exists — is an allegory; the real question is whether it conveys a truth, and perhaps a truth which is inexpressible, supra-logical, and critical.
    The power of forming ideas, as Plato understands it, means neither more nor less than the possibility of knowing in general. To the critical question, “how is experience possible?“ he answers, “only through the 'binding' of the unlimited by the 'limiting' is 'Being' brought into existence“ (Philebos, 26), or, which is the same, “is recognition brought into existence“ (Menon, 28 A). This binding takes place by the formation of ideas. That “sense of the soul“ (οργανον ψυχης) which helps us in intellectual sight, is therefore the organ of knowledge: and since everything depends upon the manner in which the limiting is brought about, Plato tells us, “only the man who possesses the sense of symmetry and grace will be apt without compulsion to be led to true ideas“ 40 (Rep. 486 D). How Greek and how noble, how true at the same time for all ages is this doctrine: it is only by means of limiting formation that experience arises! It constitutes the soul of Plato's Thinking; here we have the thought that in the whole course of the world's history could only once be brought forward, and but for that would have been lost for ever.
    To Plato, on the other hand, the more exact logical definition of what ideas are is a matter of comparative indifference, thereby showing himself to be a true meta-

54 PLATO

physical critic of recognition; for as soon as I take refuge behind the primary phenomenon which is the property of experience, and first arises through experience, I am bound to become a dogmatist, and cease to be a critic. But it is part and parcel of Plato's nature to affirm, to maintain, to build up, and so with a smile of irony at himself he at one time brings forward one conceit, at another a different one: “As regards origins it is enough if what I say is not more improbable than what others say: we must not forget that we are all men“ (Timaios, 29 C). As regards the origin of ideas, as we know, Plato most often uses the allegory of perception; sometimes, however, he speaks of imagining (Symposium, 205 B) or of inventing (ib. 208-9), also of prophetic foreboding (μαντευομαι) (Phil. 64 A) and of dream-pictures: he becomes entirely allegorical when he claims ideas as “eternal patterns“ or primary pictures; then again he reaches almost a Kantian negative criticism, when he designates them as Law, as unity, or even as “hypotheses,“ as “possible premisses“ from which a consistent philosophy might be deduced and which “we might take as a foundation without letting ourselves be scared by fright at our own shadow“ (Phaedo, 100 seq.); and it is worthy of remark that now and again he describes ideas as mere “name-givers“ (eponymoi), while on other days he “dreams“ that they may be “something in themselves and for themselves.“ Evidently in regard to the essence of eidos-idea there is just such a swing of the pendulum to and fro as in regard to their application: what seems to many of us the matter of chief importance, Plato dismisses as subsidiary: wonderfully organic is his Thinking, and just as little is it systematic. Is he so very wrong then to give his mind a loose rein? Is it not much the same whether he considers ideas as logical sequences, syllogisms, arising out of the impressions of the senses, or whether he lets the ideas take precedence and makes the things

55 PLATO

perceptible to the senses arise out of them as copies? For him the one decisive matter is solely the accurate fixing of the point where Being, — that is consciousness, which means Thinking, which means the world — is brought into existence, and this point is, as we have said before, that where “binding“ and “limitation“ take place. All that exists is relation: that is Plato's critical discovery. “We may neither speak in an off-hand manner of a Being, nor allow others to do so: for a Being exists only for, through, and in relation to something. Nor can there be an active without a passive, nor a passive except in combination with an active. It is the combination of both which brings into existence perception and the thing perceived, and gives birth, on the one side to a Thing in some fashion created, and on the other to the man who perceives the Thing.“ 41 Bringing into existence — (γενεσις εις ουσιαν), that is the one and only point upon which our Dionysus-Plato focusses his eye.
    If I were minded to go further into particulars, that would mean a setting forth of the whole Platonic philosophy, an attractive but very responsible undertaking which has no place here. There will be a good deal to add here and there; at any rate, I hope to have contributed something towards the characterisation of Plato's personal method of seeing. Now we must face the last group of allegories. We have seen Idea corresponding to the attitude of seeing with the eyes as method of knowledge. The next group corresponds to the “turning round“ as condition of knowledge. Now that we know something about the Ideas, this very delicate theme, the source of such ineradicable misunderstandings, will, I hope, be conquered with relative ease.
    I turn myself round. Why? in order to see something which I did not see before. What could be more natural than to make use of this attitude of turning round in a critical sense, that is to say, seeing directed inwards

56 PLATO

instead of outwards, — critical cross-examination instead of empirical acquiescence? What could be more natural, I repeat, than making use of this attitude of turning round for the perceptible illustration of the doctrine of ideas? And so — to begin with the simplest of the allegories, there arises the fable of the men imprisoned in a cave, who turn their backs upon the light of day, and only see upon the wall the shadows of things moving outside. The meaning of the parable is this: an object perceived only by the senses, not yet concentrated into the mental form of an idea, is nothing more than a flitting shadow-picture; for example, a dog that I only perceive is nothing more than a yellow or black or spotted blotch of uncertain outlines: it does not attain its actual being except through the idea “dog“; not till then does it become a fixed something: 42 it is thought which at last “brings into being“: but what is the dog itself in contradistinction to the idea which arises through the co-operation of the understanding? It is not the mere shadow, — to say that would be too little: neither is it the idea, — for that has reference not to any fixed individual, but to the dog as a general proposition: that something is phenomenon. As Plato has recognised with critical acumen, where understanding (δοξα) and perception by the senses (αισθησις) meet, there the phenomenon arises: and this whole picture of the cave may be held to be so far the most excellent, most popular representation of that which all criticism understands by the word phenomenon. 43 It is perception that stimulates thought to the formation of ideas, and it is from the idea that the phenomenon at last takes shape, and that too in a greater or lesser degree according to the stage of development of the eidos-idea, as we shall see presently. Plato, however, is determined to make further use of his allegory: the youth of Athens whom he is leading to the attainment of critical thought must be stimulated to

57 PLATO

yet deeper recognitions: he does it with some passion. You yearn for things? Plato exclaims — Well and good: ideas are the things! If those cave-dwellers were to be set free and allowed to go forth into the light of the sun, then they would see the things themselves with their eyes. The picture is overbold: it is the Dionysus that speaks here; it is the inspiration of intoxication, and we see exactly how the drunken man talks, how fantastically he insists, and yet knows perfectly that it is merely a question of a roundabout way which is to lead to new and profound discriminations. And indeed the audacious paradox is true enough; the concrete being of things follows only upon their ideal being: without that they would remain mere shadows. This paradox is to render perceptible that central point of all critique of recognition which it is so difficult to put into words. You have already been taught that we must not speak of a Being off-hand: the world and the Ego which carries it in its consciousness always arise first out of the meeting of two conditions, — Plato called it the meeting of Perception and Perceptibility, that was the psychological conception: again it meant understanding and sensibility; that was said in a metaphysical sense: elsewhere he says, Divine and Mortal, that transports it into mysticism (Symposium, 202 E), or he talks of recognition and want of recognition, that is the logical expression (Symp. 202 A). All these different formulae, — and there may be yet more, — imply the same thing: they imply that the Ego is something eternally incomprehensible, which as a point without size or duration is continually being created and creating, and in the process of creating hovers between two worlds. Every allegory for this recognition must necessarily place a man (the Ego), who has the one world before him and the other behind him, in the same position as the men chained up in the cave. If I look forward and backward

58 PLATO

I find in front of me only disconnected shadows, behind me a something defying description, the shadow of a law, of a necessity, of a power of formation: if I leave these eternally indefinite distances, in order to face the foreground of both worlds, I see in front of me the world of phenomena, behind me the world of Ideas. But just as in the case of the phenomena, if I were to run a tilt at them I should run my head against the wall of the cave, so I realise that the ideas are not more actually behind me than the phenomena are in front of me. Plato teaches rather “Ideas are thoughts of which it is not to be held that they could be born anywhere else than in our souls“ (Parm. 132 B). The allegorical adaptation of this picture ought not to have led any candid man, even if he were ungifted, to a materialistic conception of Plato's doctrine of ideas. For what is characteristic is the fact that man cannot “turn himself round,“ at least in this material sense: if he could, he would no longer be human. The essence of recognition is to stand between two worlds; speaking allegorically, to recognise is to mediate. “In the midst between the two is that full complement (συμπληροι) by means of which the whole is fastened into itself,“ so says Plato (Symp. 202 E): pure ideas, ideas which should have no reference to perceptions would be a nonentity, and so Plato says in another passage, “without seeing or touching or any other perception — for these are all one and the same to me — there can be no recognition“ (Phaedo, 75 A). The subjective idealism is by this means unconditionally cast aside, there is no room for it in critical idealism; for that allegory of the cave has for its object, as I said before, the rendering perceptible of the very inmost being of the soul, of the Ego, of the bearer of the world, between what we feel as object and what we feel as subject. The “turning round“ however, which is grafted upon it, the representation as though the man when unbound

59 PLATO

would recognise the ideas as true things, arises out of the need to give to that critical attitude of Life a plastic expression of a dissent from the common thankless empirical assumption, and at the same time to lay powerful stress upon the fact that without thought-form nothing can be recognised, and that this, in consequence, is the foundation of all things.
    There is another allegorical expression which hangs together with this allegory, but which in many respects possesses a symbolical value, and about which much ink has been spilt during 2300 years: — participation (μεθεξις). On that cave-wall no shadows can show themselves unless there are objects moving in the background: the fleeting shadow-picture is not therefore the object, though it has a share in it, and is exactly conditioned by it. Equally impossible is it for a phenomenon to come into existence without an idea. A dog is not a dog until the idea “dog“ has stamped it as such. If there were no formation of idea it would be nothing at all; a very vague universal idea would allow it to appear on the horizon of our intellect as “something in motion,“ an idea in some sort more distinct as a “living being“ and still more distinct as an “animal“: if perception and idea are still more exactly united, then we arrive at the “four-footed beast,“ then the dog, then the Spitz or the Dachs, etc. And, if we choose to reverse the process and proceed from the special to the general, out of the comparing our stock of ideas as described above, we then arrive at the series of the beast of prey, the mammal, the vertebrate animal, etc. After this manner does the formation of ideas swing to and fro, and in all these ideas the individual has its share. But this single individual has also a share in numberless other ideas, such as size, number, place, goodness etc. I think that every simple honest understanding will derive instruction and stimulus from this allegorical expression of Plato's, namely, that the indi-

60 PLATO

vidual subject “arises out of participation in such and so many ideas“; and yet, ever since Aristotle, it has been a matter of debate pro and con among philosophers, how this participation is to be thought of, whether as a mystic emanation out of the ideas, or as caused by a throwing off of particles, or as a sort of shadow, or any other possible absurdity; and the muddle-heads worship heaven knows what astral secret doctrine, while the understanding men turn away with Aristotle from all this folly. But in all of them it is the hopeless misunderstanding of the standpoint of critical recognition adopted by Plato and Kant in their method of looking upon the world, which lies at the root of the evil; for all these supposed difficulties exist only under the presumption of a world of empirical things, in which as a matter of accident Thinking now and again occurs; but if phenomenon is only possible in relation to Thinking, and thought only in relation to phenomenon, — if the Ego is as it were the inmost neutral point between the two worlds, then this participation, this μεθεξις, contains absolutely nothing mystic or at least mysterious in itself, it demands no “pre-established harmony“ or any other hocus-pocus, but the participation is simply organic, that is to say, to be thought of as conditioning and conditioned. Our Thinking cannot attain to “Things“ in that concrete conception, we can only attain to “phenomena.“ Independent, hypostatised ideas would be just as much of the nature of things, as those Things which we all so ingenuously hypostatise: they would be the mere ghosts of things, nothing more; on the other hand, it is easy to understand how far we may say that the phenomenon “participates in the ideas“; for they both come into existence together, they are united in the central point, “knotted together“ as Plato has it; their whole being exists out of and in participation with one another; for participation implies reciprocality. The example of the dog shows how the

61 PLATO

idea grows with exactitude, and that means with the wealth of the world of phenomena; that is why Plato advises every one who wishes for wisdom to lay to heart the cultivation of experience (empeiria). Participation (μέθεξις) takes place in both directions.
    All the same the disadvantages of this very palpable allegory were in dangerous proximity; the gate was open for intentional and unintentional misunderstanding: we can see it, and probably Plato himself had experience of it. And so he grasped at another allegory which has become just as famous, which expresses exactly the same thing, but in a far more delicate manner, which has not saved it from being even if possible more cruelly handled by our (βαναύσοι) vulgarians. The “turning round,“ together with the whole representation of “front and back“ which is connected with it, admits of two conceptions and of two only: I can turn round in space, and I can turn round in time; to the “back“ an “earlier“ corresponds, and to the “front“ a “ later“; the past lies behind our backs, the present rich in future potentialities stretches itself out before our eyes. And so it comes to pass that alongside of the allegory of “participation“ (methexis) we find the allegory of remembrance (anamnesis). In a former life “moving in the wake of God we had seen the truth“ (Phaidros, 249); in the dimly perceived phenomena the recollection of that which we saw with an unclouded eye is by degrees awakened. According to this conception it is plain that ideas do not lie behind me in space, but behind me in time; in the one case we think sub specie spatii, in the other, sub specie temporis. The latter is far more delicate, for space is nothing more than the form of sensibility, whereas time stands exactly on the dividing line between sensibility and understanding, and belongs as much to the one as to the other; in this way time corresponds to that neutral point of the Ego, it is the “inner sense“ as Kant calls it. We have two Egos,

62 PLATO

the one in space, phenomenon, the other apart from space, idea; time acts as intermediary between the two: idea and phenomenon here approach as close to one another as possible: what still keeps them asunder is an infinitesimal magnitude, that is one that may be thought of as being as small as you please, and yet never quite to be got rid of. Hence this allegory, famous in the Phaidros and the Menon, but also mentioned incidentally by Plato in many places, is imaginably rich in stimulus. The very conception that “we must have seen“ ideas (Phaidros, 249 E), no matter when and where, has something of sunlight in it: that eye of the soul, of which we heard a while ago, seems to us to have been consecrated for ever by this view, and the one principle of criticism, namely, the doctrine of perception, as the one thing to which “all Thinking whether direct or indirect is referred“ (Reine Vernunft, 1st §), finds poetical expression in this way. In this picture we find a plastic expression for the gradual refinement and equipment of the world of ideas in the intellect of the individual, or during a period of culture, a thing impossible in the parable of the cave-dwellers: for the shadow on the wall must remain the shadow on the wall, whereas remembrance (as is exhibited in the Menon in the example of the slave who understands geometry without having learnt it) may every day gain in perspicuity. Furthermore, this allegory gains special value for the criticism of recognition from the fact that it is precisely remembrance which lays the foundations for the formation of ideas; how could I arrive at the idea “Dog“ if memory had not stored up for me the material of perceptions? 44 Apart from that, this allegory leads to the conception of immortality, and with that, so to speak, leads us away over the head of time to beyond time, and so teaches us to think of time as a mere form of Thinking and Seeing. In short, the Poet that was in the Thinker here celebrated one of his greatest triumphs.

63 PLATO

    I do not consider myself bound to go into the misinterpretations under which this allegory of the anamnesis has suffered down to the present day. Plato himself remarks in the Menon, in regard to anamnesis (86): “I will not go bail for what I have said“ — and after the beautiful allegory of a former life in the Phaidros, the main source for the doctrine of Anamnesis, he excuses himself again expressly in that for the sake of Phaidros, who was the pupil of a flowery rhetorician, he had ornamented his speech poetically. There is just one thing that must be mentioned briefly, — the significance of the so-called “inborn ideas“ (the a priori of later philosophers and also of Kant) within the anamnesis allegory. Here the door must once for all be bolted against vulgar misunderstanding.
    Plato writes: — we acknowledge that we neither have made acquaintance, nor can make acquaintance, with ideas, otherwise than by means of seeing or touching or some other form of perception: but we remark that that which has been perceived by the senses (by which we mean that which has been perceived, what is now called the phenomenon, in contradistinction to perception), strives to attain these ideas, but never quite reaches them; that which has been perceived rather remains behind the conceived thought-form: we cannot therefore have deduced these ideas from that which has been perceived, but in every experience there must be elements, “which we received before we were born.“ 45 There you have the fateful “Inborn,“ the a priori with which centuries have been besotted, and out of which an a posteriori of that mere experience upon which little value is to be set was deduced. That was not what Plato meant: he was a critic of recognition, and those words “before we were born“ are not to be taken literally as meaning a fixed place in time: the impossibility is palpable, since he himself expressly teaches us of

64 PLATO

time that it is a form attaching to the mere phenomenon of things. “Time,“ says Plato, “was born with heaven (i.e. with the world of phenomenon) and must disappear with it: if we say of a thing that it was, that it comes into existence, that it will be, we are expressing ourselves inexactly, for time is only the rhythmically moved likeness (εικων, Kant's form of perception) of something which is without time“ (Timaios, 37-38). Those words “before we were born,“ with that unfortunate abortion a priori, can be no more than a parable, for a “beforehand“ can only be taken figuratively; and if Plato speaks of inborn ideas, and if Kant later has the misfortune to adopt the misleading expression a priori, we must understand that that does not mean anything determinate in time, or any historical pronouncement as to the origin of recognition. Within the frame of critical thought this would be senseless. We have rather seen that the two possible allegories of this group, the front and back in time, and the front and back in space, exactly correspond to one another: in order to arrive at a correct understanding of a priori and a posteriori, we shall do well to conceive them not only in time but also in space: for a priori means that which lies behind our backs, a posteriori what is moving in front of us. These words indeed should only furnish the expression of a topographical distinction, and topography taken in the sense of time is chronology. You remember that according to Plato's great discovery, recognition — (the world and the Ego) — is bred, and itself breeds in the neutral zone between two conceptions,

that bred thee, where thou didst breed,

in such fashion however that there always are two conceptions given, world and Ego, object and subject, etc., whether recognition be conceived as breeding or as bred. The a priori and the a posteriori, therefore, refer to nothing more than the two sides of this equation in order


65 PLATO

to distinguish them. In the conception “idea“ we think of this unity as breeding, that is to say, as active at the moment of splitting into two different directions: whereas in the conception of a priori and a posteriori the unity is conceived as bred of “something twofold,“ and therefore as passive. Thus whether you talk of earlier and later, back and front, or if you like it better, right and left, or even above and below, is a matter of complete indifference. In the main it is the same relation as that which I made use of in the former lecture as “inwards“ and “outwards“ for the schematising of the philosophical systems. The best image, however, to keep before oneself is that of the two banks with the river between; a priori becomes the hither side, a posteriori the further side. We men by nature take our stand upon the bank of the invisible and look as it were across upon the visible as upon a distant object, and for that reason see it so clearly. Naturally, however, we look upon all that is on our own bank as homely to us, nearer to us in space, nearer to us in time, than that which lies over against us. And yet if one cannot quite imagine a contrary relation, still one can at least calculate that for a being which should by nature stand upon the other bank, thought-form, which for us is the Visible, would become something fleeting, difficult to grasp. Such a being would carry in its brain all possible perceptions, just as we have all imaginable ideas in nuce in our brains, and it would depend upon its genius and its methodical development whether it should be more or less fruitful; it feels these perceptions to be its work, its property, its a priori; whereas the categories, the fundamental conceptions and the whole host of ideas, in the Platonic sense, which, so to speak, make up for us the scheme, the architectonics of recognition which are fitted to us, would be for that being something to be set before it, an a posteriori, coming into existence gradually, bit by bit, and never

66 PLATO

completed. Such an intellect which would find thoughts and natural laws and ideas of formation locked, and as it were entangled, in perceptions, would hunt for them as we do for rare plants and animals and collect them in thought-museums, and herbaria of the laws of nature, and in ideal casts, in order never again to lose them. It would preserve thoughts in spirits, and stop out all ideas, inasmuch as only perceptions would be lasting for it, — thoughts, on the other hand, evanescent and quickly disappearing. I only devote a moment to portraying this thought-farce, because it may be of service in impressing upon your minds the relativeness of conceptions a priori and a posteriori. If we were to represent to ourselves perception (the world-ego) as something absolute, I mean if we men had the capacity really to grasp such a conception, those expressions would lose all meaning, even their allegorical meaning; but as matters stand, where everything for us men means relation, a priori and a posteriori lead to an actual, not merely logical distinction — to a distinction which lying as it does within recognition, is only capable of one metaphorical, figurative expression, for which space furnishes us the more highly coloured, time the more delicate, allegory.
    I hope that these hints will have sufficed to define once for all that miserable a priori, what it is and what it is not: in Kant the fundamental thought occurs again in a more profound sense, and actually forms the foundation of his whole critique of reason; yet he calls every materially taken a priori a philosophia pigrorum, “a philosophy of the slothful“: so long as you connect it with the shadow of an “Inborn“ or a “previous existence“ to be taken literally, there can be no thought of understanding Kant's method of looking at the world.
    This may well bring to a conclusion our investigations into the permanent, and therefore symbolically valuable, mental attitude of Plato, and into the chief allegories of

67 PLATO

his exposition, allegories organically bound up with his thoughts. Later on we shall come upon some more close considerations of the way and manner in which Plato distinguished between the different elements of recognition, that is to say, how far he pushed his analysis of the human intellect; that will be when an excursus which we shall shortly have to undertake shall have furnished us with a wealth of visible material. We shall proceed to this without delay. Plato himself never possessed complete critical clearness about this analysis, and so we shall have learnt more about the personal quality of his Thinking if we listen to him at work, than if we were to attempt a sort of artificial distillation of his so-called results. This will determine the next goal at which we should aim.
    For Plato at work, as we seek to see him, there is one thing, which in all the dialogues is continually being repeated, which is specially indicated above all others, and that is that a determined fact, — by which I mean the perception of a determined fact as the result of exact observation, — is what in general instigates Plato to critical Thinking, and has exacted from him that attitude of “self-turning-round.“ This one fact is ever and again raising itself up before him, questioning and exhorting. It is out of his wonder at this that his method, and in due course his philosophy, grow. He discovers, indeed, that every simple and fundamental question of general import, so soon as it is followed up sufficiently far with entire honesty in the attempt to ascertain something ultimate and definite, admits a double answer, — two directly contradictory solutions: each seems to exclude the other, and yet we men are unable to be satisfied with one answer only, but at one time accept the one answer as right, at another time the other, according to the standpoint upon which we place ourselves for the moment; It is a continuous pendulum movement to and fro, from

68 PLATO

one extreme to the other, something like a scale with uncertain equilibrium, since every intermediary solution is excluded. Thus, for example, our reason judges that the world must have had a beginning in time, for every action presupposes a cause, and if there were no first causes, there could be no world to-day — but none the less must our reason approve the opposite proposition demonstrable by strictly logical means, that the world can have had no beginning in time, for how could a “first“ cause have arisen without a previous cause? In the same way it can be proved that there must be final indivisible unities, otherwise no world could come into existence — (compare Bruno in our former lecture), and yet in the whole world it would be impossible to find a man who would dare to deny that any tiny particle of matter could be divided yet further. Kant, who in his inimitable way has finally cleared up these relations, calls this phenomenon of the human intellect its “antithetics,“ that is to say, the “conflict of conceptions,“ or still oftener the “antinomy“ of reason, that is to say, conflict between the laws of thought. And of that he says, “of itself and indeed unavoidably, reason happens upon these 'antithetics' and is thus guarded against the slumber of a chimerical conviction, which a mere one-sided appearance brings forward, while at the same time it is brought to an attempt, either to give itself over to a sceptical hopelessness, or to adopt a dogmatic defiance, and stiffly to take up certain assertions without allowing hearing and justice to the principles of the contrary side; both mean the death of sound philosophy.“ Yet rightly understood this antinomy is “the most beneficent confusion which human reason was ever able to reach, since it ends in urging us to find the key which should set us free out of this labyrinth, which, moreover, when found discovers that which we did not seek though we need it.“ In the case of Kant as in that of Plato it was this fact, this natural antinomy of

69 PLATO

human reason, which urged him on generally to the critique of recognition, and acted as his guide by the way: in a letter of the year 1798, he writes, “it was the antinomy of human reason which first awakened me out of the slumber of dogmatism, and urged me on to the critique of reason, in order to remove the scandal of the apparent contradiction of reason to itself.“ And he admonishes us all, “I wish, therefore, that the reader should busy himself mainly with this antinomy, because nature herself appears to have set it up in order to stagger reason in its most audacious pretensions and to force it to probe itself.“ 46 This occurred to Plato, as I said before, just as it did to Kant: without having any special technical name for it, he still speaks everywhere of this natural antinomy, and on one occasion he introduces a so far little-noticed description of it which enriches the contradictory character of his affirmative method in relation to Kant's negative method with an almost touching example. Instead of feeling the conflict to be a “scandal“ and of bringing forward a cross-grained abstract terminus technicus for it, Plato rather praises it as that element of our intellectual life, which urges, excites, and demands (παρακαλεω) critical reflection, and calls it almost by the same name as the Christians used later for the Holy Ghost, namely the Paracleticos, the caller and helper, who at the same time spurs on and comforts. For without the antinomy of reason, he opines, we should never even be aware of the closely confining wall of empiricism; it is that which first calls our attention to the fact that mere perception and formation of ideas by themselves “achieve nothing sound.“ It is only where every assertion calls forth the contradictory assertion, that we can be sure of grasping by the root the problem of the relation between sensibility and understanding, the visible and the invisible (Republic, 523, etc.).
    What then is this antinomy of our thought which

70 PLATO

stimulates the critic, is the despair of the simple man, and excites the dogmatist to violence? On what peculiarity of the power of recognition does this remarkable irreconcilable inner conflict rest? Plato and Kant could alone furnish the answer, because they alone have observed in accordance with natural science instead of theorising. Kant, indeed, worked up the desirable analysis of recognition far more exactly than Plato, in whom it remained in a state of ingenuous simplicity; but for that very reason I hold Plato's conception to be more fitted perspicuously to communicate the fundamental truths which spring from this standpoint. Kant, moreover, where he is specially dealing with antinomy, in the heat of his battle against the pan-logicians, has himself fallen fairly deep into the sophistries of the centuries; that is at any rate how the matter presents itself to me; here one negation grafts itself upon another, till we no longer know how we stand; Plato, on the contrary, takes a large and simple view of the matter: in the first place then, let us follow him.
    In the whole question of the antinomy of reason Plato sees simply a conflict between the invisible and the visible; what creates unity is the invisible Ego (understanding), what creates plurality is the visible world (sensibility). Without plurality there would be nothing. “By nature neither knowledge (επιστημη) nor opinion (δοξα) dwells in man“ (Menon, 98 D), but without uninterrupted unification there would be no recognition, and therefore equally nothing. 47 We have already seen how Thinking, in that it creates ideas, creates a world. Here already Plato sees a conflict: Things resist, they refuse to be “idealised“; nor does a single being attain the perfection of idea as man in his independence imagines it. And so our aristocrat distinguishes between an upper and a deeper, between a genuine and a false, between a noble and an ignoble, indeed when the

71 PLATO

inspiration, the mania, has laid hold of him, between a truth and a lie, between a something and a nothing: the one is the idea, the other the thing perceived, and that means the eikon, the shadow on the wall. This same mental tendency rules yet further. Everything that creates unity proceeds from the thoughts, from the invisible, from the Ego, and is therefore Nobility; everything which makes plurality comes from the senses, from the visible, from the non-Ego, and is the Ignoble, the Enemy. The Law is what Plato everywhere seeks to discover and point out, to create and to impose: the law is not only the work, but also the essence of the Ego. 48 The simplest ideas, the ideas of things perceived, are indeed Laws: it is by them that countless single objects, i.e. perceptions, are forced to subject themselves to fixed thought-forms, to enlist under them. We have already seen (p. 54) that these thought-forms are according to Plato hypotheses; all the prouder is the position of man: never is the idea of any single object, such as dog or beast, given to him by nature in the shape in which it lives in his intellect; rather does he form it for himself, able to grasp it more widely or more narrowly, splitting it downwards, or fusing it upwards into more comprehensive ideas. Always the same object remains in view to fix that which is visible, and clarify it into something thought. “Whatever may be the cause which makes non-entity cross over into entity, poetic creation is always present“ (Symposium, 205 B). For recognition is not something ready-made, it is far rather something more and something less; it grows in proportion as the system of unifications is carried out more methodically and more perfectly. So, for example (Menon, 98 A), even right conceptions are blown away to nothing unless they are “bound fast“ by “the reasonable comprehension of cause and effect“ (αιτιας λογισμω); it is by this means that true recognition first comes into being: in other

72 PLATO

words, the Visible which is perceived would be no unity, no nature, unless Reason with its law of causality bound the single phenomena to one another; and this law is a priori, is anamnesis, as Plato adds in the same passage, for it is causality that first makes experience possible. And as we from our standpoint on the bank of the Thinkable (the τοπος νοητου) suppose causality, so also we suppose Time: it is in it that cause works, in it that all phenomena are imprisoned without power of escape, it is time that binds, time that unifies. In the same way we suppose Space, the importance of which for the reduction to one unity of the various perceptions of the senses was clearly set out in the Descartes lecture, and of which Plato remarks: “This idea (of Space) it is impossible either to perceive by the senses, or to think of consequentially; like men caught in a dream we represent it to ourselves by a sort of mongrel power, half senses, half understanding.“ 49 And so, without possessing a critical consciousness of this instinctive method of ours, we set one idea on to another, and thus bind the flight of phenomena more and more securely to one unity. It is only by this road that perception becomes knowledge, and only by this road that knowledge methodically applied by degrees becomes science. Science is knowledge brought into shape, in it we see what results man can attain through a consistent formation of ideas. All so-called laws of nature are ideas, that is to say, forms of thought, by which a plurality is bound into a unity; naturally perceptions are at the root of all, just as perceptions lay at the root of the idea “dog“: but the law as law is a thought, one member in an endless artificial structure of thoughts. In this way we reach the antinomy of reason and become, as Plato says with simple grandeur, “unable to utter truth“ (Timaios, 52 C). For every one of these unifications is an act of violence. Truly the will and the power to exercise it are a Promethean gift of the

73 PLATO

Gods; what makes man a man is the power of forming ideas. A poietes is man, the maker, the poet, the creator of thought-forms. But even poems are never quite in harmony; there is always a hitch somewhere even in the artistic work of the highest genius; for art is an intensive struggle for unity, and unity is a thought, not an empirically possible phenomenon. How much more must this be the case, when it is not art but the blind force pushing for understanding, for power, for domination, which is tyrannically and without reflection driving the whole race of mankind further and further in fixed and fore-ordained directions! How innocent and how free from all possible objection it seems to include in the idea “Dog“ all those well-known four-footed domestic animals, with different shapes, it is true, yet all unmistakably alike! And yet modern science tells us that in living beings there are, as a general rule, no species but only individuals, in this way brilliantly justifying Plato, who taught expressly that all ideas, even those which are seemingly only appellative, are in truth not something given to us by perception, but the exercise by the human intellect of the power of “creation into being.“ At the root of this lies that primary antinomy, if I may so express myself, with which Plato was chiefly busied and which we just now made our starting-point: how is it possible for unity and plurality to exist side by side? Unity, that is to say, not as one member of a series of numbers, but in contradistinction to the category of size and number. Without perceptions, and therefore without plurality and number, there can be no recognition, no world, no ego: Without organically indivisible unities and unity, there can equally be no recognition, no world, no Ego. Who is to settle this conflict? And yet, says Plato, it is out of this position “that unity is plurality and plurality unity, that every discovery has proceeded which had any reference to art (τεχνη)“ (Philebos, 14 and 16). And in

74 PLATO

whatever direction we look we find similar insoluble contradictions: the idea of space does indeed give us unity, and at the same time it gives us limitless expansion above, and limitless divisibility below; if we pose the idea of time we are then, in order to escape from endless absurdities, compelled to admit, that there is no such thing in the true sense of the words as “a former“ and “a later“; the idea of causality renders us the incomparable service of binding fleeting conceptions securely to one another, and therefore into unity; but now it enmeshes us in the eternal regressus where we are tossed hither and thither between the necessity of a beginning and the impossibility of a beginning, without ever being able to find a solution. And so it goes on.
    Kant's business then is to seek a philosophical explanation of these relations. With him it is only a question of “an apparent conflict,“ and indeed this conflict arises out of the imperfect distinction between our various ways of recognition, and also between our various recognitions. We do not only interchange understanding and sensibility, but also experience and idea, the Thing in itself and the Thing as it appears to us. He points out that certain antitheses (for example, the conflict of opinions in regard to the endless divisibility of matter) rest upon the fact that both the opposite assertions are false, since we silently transfer what are accepted as phenomena, which is exclusively all that we know, into real Things, as if we knew anything of a nature outside of human experience and the laws by which it is penetrated, whereas in the other antinomies the contradiction is a mere logical, not real, contradiction, since a law which holds good for the Visible, need not of necessity hold good also for that which is Thought, and vice versa; so that two contradictory assertions may both be true at the same time; as for example, when the antinomy wishes to impose upon us the choice between freedom and necessity,

75 PLATO

whilst experience teaches us that in fact both stand side by side.
    We shall have to return to Kant and his solution of the antinomy of reason: I only wished to call your attention in passing to the possibility of a critical solution. 50 For the present let us confine ourselves to Plato. He takes the question differently, quite simply and practically. He just takes the contradictions as granted and impossible of solution, and asks, which side am I to join? The answer is at once, the side which builds up, which creates connections, which works out laws, the side which gives knowledge and promises increase of wisdom, briefly the side which forms ideas, the side which “strives to see unity in plurality“ (Laws, 965 B), — let the senses make the best they can of it. It is his business to do the deed, to achieve that “formation“ which he perceived as the soul of the Greek word idea; to that end is criticism to serve him. It is not possible to deny that the importance of the Visible is often undervalued by him: our excursus will furnish us with accurate information on that point, and so teach us to recognise the vulnerable Achilles-heel of Platonic perception. But let us not forget: Plato was fighting against a people of thinkers who were ingenuous enough to believe that they were proceeding empirically, when they looked outwards upon nature and passed judgment upon it without more ado (Heraclitus) or when they looked inwards into themselves, and just as ingenuously questioned their logical sense, and accordingly delivered equally unconditioned judgments (Parmenides); a critical insight into the way in which human recognition arises, and how it by degrees arrives at the science of nature, and can lead to the fundamental refinement of the Ego, is something which no man possessed before him, no man at the same time with him, and no man since him: we may even say that we are no better off to-day: and so he was forced into the one-sided insistence on that

76 PLATO

which he had recognised as decisive for the knowledge and dignity of mankind. What you must learn to perceive is this, that even if Plato proceeded one-sidedly he did not do so as a mystical fanatic, as the founder of Heaven knows what confused ideas hovering over fairyland, but as the only man who understood the essence of our knowledge, and as the true founder of all genuine conscious science — science in contradistinction to vulgar empiricism, to logic-chopping, to superstition, and to the scholasticism which was already beginning to dawn in Aristotle, — in brief, as a man whom we might all hail and welcome as our saviour out of the intellectual chaos with which we were threatened.
    We have now reached the central point: we now see Plato at work; and here therefore it is meet that we should understand him exactly. We must lay bare the antinomy in our own Thinking and Seeing, show it at work in ourselves, experience in ourselves what Plato experienced in himself, and thereby learn to understand why, in the interest of culture and science, he was forced to prefer the one direction to the other, by which it will be clear how it was that Kant's more exact criticism detected and overcame the one-sidedness in Plato's manner of seeing. I think we had better seize the question at a point where the inevitable logic which rules in the invisible, at least swims in a luminous sea of material for perception. The one great antithesis between unity and plurality crops up in very different forms, and I hardly know any antinomy which would serve our purpose better in this connection than that between Being and Growing into Being. Heraclitus taught that there is only one Growing into Being, one eternal flow: Parmenides taught that there is only one Being, one eternal immovable: it was in the echo of these two schools, each of which had taken one of the two antinomic theses as its dogma, that Plato

77 PLATO

grew up and came to the opinion that, “Just as children, to whom we offer the choice between two dainties, covet both, so the sage has to say of the Whole, — both that it is immovable and that it is moved“ — that is to say, it Is and it Grows 51 (Sophist, 249 D). That was the lesson taught by the critique of recognition. Yet he thought himself justified in adding: knowledge only comes from the immovable (that is from our permanent thought-forms, not from fleeting perceptions), and genuine science comes only from Being, not from Growing into Being (cf. Philebos, 59). There you have the core of the central point.
    We might now of course take this antinomy of Being and Growing into Being in general and survey the whole cosmos; but in this way we should soon fall into Brunonian abstractions; on the other hand, there is a domain where both, — Being and Growing — are in the focus, — where Being is existence and where Growing is not like chemical combinations or physical forces a mere transformation of x into y, or mere additions or subtractions, but an entry upon the stage of appearance of something which was not there before, and signifies an eternal vanishing from that stage: I am speaking of life. There is no true Growing outside of life, but only surrounding forces; but when the child grows into a man, — when the being which to-day crawls in the shape of a caterpillar, to-morrow flies as a butterfly, — that is a Growing in the true meaning of the word. A little reflection will show that in the same way we can only speak of Being, in its real sense, in reference to life: only that which Grows Is. The application of the two words to that which is without life occurs through want of thought, and has only an allegorical value: at the root of this lies the notion of children and savages that everything has life. Not only does this antinomy grow in our own selves — which after all might be said of every other antinomy, — but we experience it day after day: for every one of us

78 PLATO

feels himself to be unchanged, at a standstill: — if that were not the case he would not recognise himself, he would be no Ego — and every one of us at the same time knows daily by experience that his Being is a Growing; here we have the fundamental antinomy of all antinomies. So we will take into consideration the antinomy of Being and Growing into Being only in the focus of life, and insert here an excursus upon the essence of life, in the hope of arriving thereby at some not unimportant instruction as to Plato's way of seeing and consequently upon that of Kant also.

* * * * * *

    Here, after the manner of the ancients, we must invoke the aid of the Muses. It is terribly easy to give the reins to our fancy in dealing with the great problems of nature:
that has been the custom in all times and is so to-day more than ever. Let us take as our guardian angel that Sophrosyne, discretion, whom the Dionysian philosopher is never weary of preaching, — the discretion of the inspired. Here we have to grapple with burning questions of the day: but if we follow the signs given us by Plato and Kant, we cannot fail to recognise in these days that the whole question of life is set forth falsely, and that therefore the debates carried out with the passion of an evil conscience about Darwinian selection and Lamarckian heredity of qualities, etc., all of them unheedingly pass by the true problem. Modern biology stands at the same point where the great Ptolemy stood as astronomer, where Albertus Magnus stood as chemist; it is striving after the impossible: and even though it should bring to light many facts, as they did, it yet remains impossible to exhibit clear recognitions conformable to truth, except where they are based upon intelligible and correct conceptions of the subject. If, in our endeavours to imitate Plato, we could succeed in

79 PLATO

mastering a few such fundamental recognitions, we should have gained much towards the understanding not only of Plato himself but also of the problem of life. Only it is necessary that the exposition should perforce remain within the line of theory; that is the result of our plan, and also of the necessity of not allowing this lecture to assume undue proportions; an exposition of the new Platonic doctrine of life as it reveals itself to me with all the vast material with which it is enriched would, even if kept within the narrowest limits, require two large volumes. I only wish to point out that I have been studying the subject and collecting material for twenty years, so that my brevity is not open to the charge of flippancy. Again I must not be suspected of a wish to substitute metaphysics for observation; the object which I have before me is the liberation of perception, of that “world of the eye“ spoken of in our first lecture; I believe that our Thinking — our Thinking, that is to say, with reference to life, — will be the richer if we possess a freer, and consequently purer and more truthful, perception. Plato, however, teaches us that the bodily eyes only learn to see by “the eye of the soul“ (v. supra). We put forth ideas like antennae, — they are, as Plato calls them, “carriers,“ that is to say, they are like boats which ferry us over from the shore of the country where Thought alone exists, to the opposite shore where Seeing reigns supreme. It is therefore a matter of much importance in our recognition of nature, how our philosophy is conditioned: it can either cripple every unfettered perception at the outset, or it can lend it wings. We must know that we are just creators, and that we are facing an ever creative nature as its children. Our Being is a Growing: so our understanding must be fluid, progressive, an effort of will. Here, as everywhere else, two things meet, and it is not until they join hands that the spark of light comes into being; a pure mere empiricism is

80 PLATO

impossible, — the very thought of such a thing is folly. Our science of mechanics did not arise out of observations only, but out of ideas creative, obstinate, if I may use the term, amplified, supported, perfected by observations; indeed the ideas came first, and after them the observations in which the ideas verified themselves; in the same way it was out of creative ideas, also in their turn powerfully dominant, that our modern science of energetics arose, whereas our biologists delude themselves with the belief that empirical theories such as those of Darwin are sufficient foundation, without ever having attempted to grasp the problem of life itself with a bold, human selfmastery, as Galilei did with matter, and Robert Mayer with energy.
    The sharp distinction between Matter and Force is the foundation of our whole Teutonic science. 52 Descartes was the first to maintain it systematically, inasmuch as he not only teaches the inertness of matter and the imperishability of the sum total of motion (that is to say, of the sum total of force) in the Cosmos, but is for ever impressing upon us that the forces are not to be ascribed to bodies in motion as “little souls.“ Yet it was extraordinarily difficult to bring home to men constructive thoughts of that sort; it was only practical success in a smaller field that possessed the power of persuasion: here lies Galilei's immortal merit. His works upon the foundations of pure mechanics succeeded little by little, very slowly and imperfectly, in naturalising the conception of the inertia of matter, that is to say, of its neutral persistence in every condition, whether of rest or of motion; for the “little souls“ were yet there, and so long as that was the case, that unconditional inertia of matter was rather a mathematical fiction than the recognition of a truth; the practical application of it had been taken over from Galilei; but men had not followed his thoughts. Newton certainly said that the conception of

81 PLATO

the power of attraction, introduced by him and thought out with such lamentable anthropomorphism, must not be held to be a physical cause, but that it far rather served as an expression for mathematical relations; but even the Physicists until lately took no notice of that; and down to our own times the majority of laymen when they hear of the attractive power of the earth or of the sun, see hovering before them a secret force of these bodies stretching into space as if they were putting out invisible tentacles and clutching at everything. 53 It is just sixty years since Robert Mayer once more took up the idea of Force, of which Descartes and Galilei had had a premonition, purged it of all confusion and mysticism and attained for it scientifically clear, mathematically intelligible, conceptions: and even in the fifties of the past century, when Joule in England and Helmholtz in Germany had trodden the newly indicated way, Mayer, who was by profession not a physicist but a physician, was denounced as an officious dilettante by the majority of professors, and had to suffer such cruel abuse, that in his violent excitement he became delirious, and threw himself out of window. He brought “confusion“ into physics! that was the opinion of men who had had exactly two hundred years in which to await the arrival of a rational theory of Force: his doctrine of the transmutation of motion into heat, and the converse, was “completely unscientific!“ his “pretended discovery“ — the law, that there is in truth only one force, it is a constant magnitude — was untenable, etc. 54 So slowly are ideas wont to take root, indeed precisely because they are “ideas“ in Plato's sense, because they do not occur ready-made out in the open as “Things“ which we can grasp by merely stretching out our hands, but must, on the contrary, be bred by the human intellect. And yet it was this “idea“ that first made genuine physical and chemical science possible; a correctly thought out new

82 PLATO

idea bestows new perceptions, new experience in a wealth up to that time unsuspected. The whole proud edifice of our modern physical chemistry rests upon the idea of Robert Mayer as he set it forth in a few short works, and that too in so perspicuous and simple a form that every cultivated man can read his essays with enjoyment, and ought not to neglect doing so. 55
    There are individual investigators whose whole Thinking is devoted to the solution of fixed problems, who still further subtilise such fundamental thoughts as the now finally settled distinction between matter and force, or to speak more strictly between mass and energy: there are certain physicists who regard Force as consisting of the most minute particles every one of which has its fixed immutable place in space, where it is for ever changing its manner of motion, which amounts simply to a materialisation of Force; whereas others who are in a majority take the converse way, preferring to disregard atoms and matter, that is to say, resolve them into Force: but these are things with which we need not deal. Nowadays if any one materialises Force he does so only for a special purpose: he wishes to show intelligibly the transmutation of motion into heat, of heat into electricity, of electricity into light or into chemical force: if, on the contrary, any one has as his object the resolution of the world of the senses into empty space with centres of Force, he does it upon paper, in the interest of his calculations; the division into Matter and Force has been attained and can never again be lost, it has been worked out more and more clearly. 56 If we were in earnest to give up matter as inert and impermeable, as the passive “nothing,“ as that which is devoid of all entity — το μη ον, as Plato already recognised it, — if we were seriously to renounce looking upon the Forces as “imperishable mutable“ phenomena of one single Force, as Mayer says in his first publication of 1842: if for the sake of some delusion

83 PLATO

we were to give up the closer definition which Helmholtz gave in 1862, “the sum of the operative masses of Forces in the aggregate of nature remains eternally the same and unaltered throughout all changes in nature“; then in that case our whole science, and more than that our whole immeasurably rich capacity for perception, would be annihilated. 57
    What we still lack is the recognition of the fact that Life is a Third Factor, that Life is neither Matter nor Force, nor yet a creation of Matter plus Force. A rescue from the chaos into which we have daily fallen deeper through the monstrous mass of empirical work, is only possible through the recognition that the modern doctrine that Life must be explained by Matter and Force and the laws which govern these, is just as senseless as the presumption of previous centuries that the Forces hung on to the particles of matter like “little souls.“ No one will care to deny that we arrived at the conception of Force only by observations of Matter; we have just seen that a clean distinction between Force and Matter is only the work of the most recent years: this distinction was required in the interest of exact science, and it has at the same time acted as a stimulus upon our whole philosophy. In the same way it is in the interest of exact investigation and also of our whole Thinking to introduce the idea “Life“ as an independent idea, outside of “Force“ and outside of Matter.
    Lichtenberg somewhere calls the mathematical-mechanical tendency of the intellect “the soul of unorganic nature“: that is a very refined observation. In order to grasp the soul of organic nature we shall probably have to make a more important place for the utmost possible pure perception. Matter and Force are from the very beginning abstractions: they are in the first place thoughts, and then we at last find them in experience; Life, on the contrary, is on the one side personal experi-

84 PLATO

ence, on the other side direct perception. That is why I believe that Life will first reveal itself in that “world of the eye“ of which Goethe spoke (Lecture I, I, p. 48). That which I as man have directly received is Life, and not that which is lifeless. What my senses feel about Nature, what my senses feel about myself, about Life, that is in very truth Life itself. Life leads me to nature. It is therefore illogical, illusory, unscientific, to direct all our energies upon understanding Life from that which is lifeless. 58 That which is material in life is chemistry, that which is energetic in life is physics: there is in addition the Life of Life, that which holds under its spell Matter and Force, and that is Form. Just as the comprehension of matter plus energy consists in an appreciation of the relations of movements, so a comprehension of Life becomes an appreciation of the relations of Form. There is, if I may so express myself, far more to be seen in Life than in the Lifeless, and moreover that which is seen there stands upon a higher level in dignity, or importance, or contents, or whatever you may please to call it. If, as we saw in the second lecture, Thinking extinguished light as light, and substituted for it nothing but putative, imaginary schemes of motion, that signified one method of understanding Force and Matter: but as soon as the so-called ray touched the eye, that is to say, as soon as Life called “let there be Light,“ what would an unseen Light mean? There physical explanation abdicated, not from any fault of its own, but because Life is something different from Matter and Force, and therefore here other principles come into play.
    Allow me at once to forestall a possible misunderstanding. Just as Force is only detected in Matter, so Life is only detected in Matter and by Force. Where in nature we find no material foundation for the phenomena of Force, we invent it and speak of aether: and we are right in so doing: where we are at a loss for Matter and Force in

85 PLATO

the interpretation of the phenomena of Life — (and that we are so at a loss in all directions will be proved to you by every serious work of recent years about physiology and the biology of animals and plants) — then I maintain that we are bound to invent Matter and Force, at any rate if we wish to deal with exact science. Certain modern investigators of nature, precisely among those who have a clear vision and are unable to content themselves with phrases, hold that a really satisfactory mechanical interpretation of Life is impossible, and that it is necessary in some shape or other to reintroduce the conception of “the Force of Life“: they call themselves “vitalists“ or “neo-vitalists“: some go so far as to wish to introduce the conception “soul“ into scientific biology: here, however, I think there is a failure of philosophical insight: it is not in the phenomena but rather in ourselves that the law is based by which we are to interpret nature mechanically: from that law we are bound never to move a step. It is certain that Physics and Chemistry will never suffice for an exposition of the phenomena of Life; this assertion has risen to the dignity of an axiom. Still, Life is Form, and Form can always be attained mechanically; the talented American zoologist Edward Drinker Cope has, perhaps unwittingly, here given us important contributions, or at any rate indications. 59 Every departure from this principle of the inevitable mechanical interpretation seems to me to be unconditionally unwarrantable. Materialism, mechanism, as the final perfection of reducing all phenomena to equations capable of being formulated mathematically — here, I am of opinion, is contained the essence, the justification and the method of our exact science; 60 and that is why the expression “Life-Force“ is if possible more hateful to me than it is to the narrowest-minded anti-metaphysical empiricist, it makes for nothing but confusion. To the idea Life-Force there should correspond an idea Force-Matter, a confused

86 PLATO

conception, according to which Matter would be invested with occult properties by means of which all the services which have been rendered from the times of Descartes and Galilei down to Mayer and Helmholtz would be reduced to nothing. The way of the future leads in a diametrically opposite direction, that is to say, to the final and definite separation of the idea Matter from the idea Force, and of the idea Life from the ideas Force and Matter.
    Here I may perhaps be taunted with the reproach that what I wish to introduce as idea, — Life as a phenomenon of nature sui generis, is something uncertain, inconceivable, enigmatic, a new problem, a word rather tending to the dissemination of confusion. The reproach would not be justified, any more than were similar reproaches addressed to Mayer in his day. A superfluous augmentation of conceptions and nomenclature of objects, dear to many of the investigators of nature, does indeed confuse the understanding, for things in that way at once crystallise into words and are forced out of their living connection: but to introduce a new fundamental idea where for want of it conceptions are heaped up in chaos, can only serve to make matters clear, and the understanding of a true idea always arises in the first place from its application, and not out of an attempted definition of it. Nothing in the world is less comprehensible than the idea Matter, if once you abandon the simple perception in order to think more deeply over it. “The dark clod that we think of in spite of ourselves, is sought for in vain outside of our own thought“ — so says Ernst Mach; 61 and a hundred and fifty years before him, Helvetius, the systematic materialist, had said: les hommes sont, si j'ose le dire, les créateurs de la matière; 62 in the end there remains nothing but a vague conception of expansion, so that Plato in his Timaios identifies matter with space, with that space which can be neither

87 PLATO

imagined nor perceived 63 (p. 72). As for Force, Heinrich Hertz warns us against any definition of this conception with the words, — “can we exhaustively interpret the essence of any thing by our conceptions, by our words? certainly not.“ If you open any handbook, you will find definitions of Force and Energy, but you will not understand them: 64 if you work for a few months at physics you will know what Force is, and you will perceive why such an idea, created out of perception, coined upon perception, and yet abstract, cannot be compelled into any fixed mental definition. In the passage to which I have alluded Hertz goes further and sets forth that in all ideas (he calls them Signs), the only important thing is whether or not they contribute anything to the explanation of the relations between our perceptions, whether they call up contradictions or rather sweep away contradictions and facilitate connections. If, according to modern fashion, we talk of Matter and Force, 65 we detect an equation between two unknown factors; if we speak of Matter, Force and Life, then the equation has three unknown factors: every mathematician will tell you what a help it means to calculation, when complex expressions, not perspicuous to us, can be broken up into elementary parts. And it must be obvious that even if Life is just as incapable of logical definition as any other fundamental idea, this idea is in spite of that more perceptible, and therefore also more comprehensible, than the idea of Matter or of Force.
    My very first duty is to compel the conviction that Life is neither Matter nor Force. The difficulty in this undertaking is that it is so easy, — too easy for it to be possible to speak well upon the subject; there is no room for argument, no room for rhetoric; it is just an exhortation to open your eyes, nothing more; if I said this my hearers would think me either childish or contemptuous: you might tell me that without any instruction from me

88 PLATO

you know what life is, that you are not in the habit of mixing up that which is living with that which is not living, the organic with the inorganic: yet in all humility I must admit that I doubt the correctness of that assertion; I believe that we are all of us continually mixing up Life with that which does not live, just as for centuries we have been for ever confusing Force and Matter with one another. Nor can it be otherwise so long as we do not possess a fully clear appreciation of that which constitutes the fundamental distinction. Plato indeed had comprised everything that lives in one single unity, and said, “the plant awakens special ideas and perceptions, and forms as it were another species of animal (ωσδε ετερον ξωον) ... yet according to its essence the plant is just as much a living being as the animal“ (Timaios, 77); and this aggregate of life he places in opposition to that which is not living. There, however, we had the Godlike genius of this one man: no one understood him; and he was hardly dead when Aristotle taught that there was “a gradual transition from that which is not alive to that which is alive, and that it remained a mystery where the one began and the other left off.“ The “race of plants“ occupied a middle position between the two, and formed a series of stages from those plants which hardly possessed a spark of life, up to those which had almost as much life as an animal (Animal History, VIII, 1, 2). That all this, collectively as well as singly, is radically false, and indeed senseless, needs no proof to-day. The smallest single-celled alga is absolutely as completely “life,“ as widely separated from inorganic matter, as man himself; and the most modest of the single-celled infusoria is as capable of motion as the elephant, and is in some respects of more complex construction; moreover, there is no gradual transition from plants into animals: it is rather the case that they meet below, and so Plato was quite right in comprising them as two twigs of one

89 PLATO

unity. Yet in spite of all the teaching of a more exact knowledge of nature, the Aristotelian error and the Aristotelian blindness are growing rankly in us all, and even in our science. Only a few centuries ago the men of learning were busily trying to brew homunculi in retorts. In spite of the fact that the most brilliant experiments of the last century have finally shown that not the most minute phenomenon of life, such as a bacterium, can be brought into existence otherwise than by a similar bacterium, that Life cannot arise out of that which is not living, but only out of Life itself — in spite of all this, spontaneous generation, which is neither more nor less than the arising of something out of nothing, remains an axiom of our science: we banish it in time and occasionally also in space, yet the dogma remains, and if we consider it carefully our whole method of explaining Life by Matter and Force is nothing more than “spontaneous generation“ under a mask, — a disguised adherence to the Aristotelian heresy of a gradual transition from the inorganic to the organic: 66 and that again is neither more nor less than a higher form of alchemy. So long as such thoughts are possible amongst us, we are still shrouded in the spirit of the Middle Ages, and we have not found our way out of the mouldy catacombs of scholasticism into the free air of nature. 67
    We shall have to come back upon much which I have here only lightly touched upon: for the moment I must be satisfied if I have raised in you some little mistrust of your own judgment, and perhaps awakened in you the suspicion that we are dealing with a reaction towards simplicity, never a thankless task but generally a difficult one. Now we will convince ourselves by a perceptible example that the ideas which lie at the root of Life are different from those upon which Force and Matter are based, from which it follows at once that the Idea of Life must be autonomous.

90 PLATO

    There are two comparisons which you will meet with everywhere. In the one the forms of life are compared with crystals: in the other we hear of a “circulation of life,“ in which the conception of the circulation of the heavenly bodies forces itself upon us: in the first case Life is explained as essentially related to Matter, in the second to Force. The first image, that of the crystals, is taken not only as an image, but also as an approximate expression of an actual condition of fact, so that it is given in almost all handbooks, and an investigator of the importance of Nägeli has made use of it as the foundation of his whole theory of life; 68 but the second image, that of the gyrating heavenly bodies, which Humboldt delighted in using, and Moleschott made popular, is for the most part not looked upon as an image, but as an exact representation of a condition of fact. And yet both comparisons are radically false: in neither is there either homology or analogy, or anything more than a deceptive, misleading illusion. It is true that a crystal possesses a Form, a fixed form conditioned by mechanical laws: 69 but this form is not shape in the only true sense of the word; for shape implies the unity of the manifold, whereas it is the essence of crystal that every minutest particle is identic with every other particle as well as with the whole. 70 But where every part is identical with every other part, and every part with the whole, there can be no parts reciprocally conditioning one another, and where there are no parts in this sense, there equally cannot be any “whole“ which could be called a “unity“ in the right acceptation of the word. Plato says correctly (Parm. 157): “it is impossible to speak of parts in a plurality, but only where an ideally comprehensible unity has become a single whole by the union of the many. Only in such a case can we say that a part is a part.“ In crystals we have to deal with an external system of deposit and accumulation:

91 PLATO

the conception of a Whole necessarily fails, since there is no unity originally formed out of parts, and no parts which separated from the Whole would become fragments. It is true that in a crystal there are directions which may be expressed, but the limits are a matter of chance. A quartz crystal, or a crystal of feldspar, may be so small that only the strongest powers of the microscope can detect it: and yet examples of both are known which measure several yards in length and breadth; between the former and the latter there is no difference. A quartz crystal might be a mile long, it might reach the length of the distance of the sun if it stood upon a sufficiently large heavenly body. Indeed, although the conception of space is coined together with the thought of matter, matter is itself indifferent to space: limitation, and with it shape, is here as everywhere else, created only by Life: outside of Life, if I may so say, all matter and all force is at command, and that means the “unlimited.“ Whether a crystal is great or small, regular or irregular, is a matter of chance, that is to say it depends upon extraneous conditions: a form which does not limit itself by its own powers, depends upon chance. Equally indifferent is a crystal as to time: it is destroyed by extraneous causes, earlier or later, in five minutes or in five billions of years: in itself and by itself it is eternal, or, to speak more correctly, without time, — but only because inertia is the fundamental law of all matter. And now, before exhibiting the contradictoriness of Life, let me at once skip to the second image. It must be understood that those two pictures which are apparently so different are in their essence identical. Just in the same way as matter is isolated and fixed in the crystal, so is Force isolated and fixed in a planetary system. Here Proteus is fettered and held fast. In the regular interchange of the “energy of movement“ and the “energy of position“ reciprocally conditioning one another, the planets gyrate round their

92 PLATO

sun, and the suns move in relation to each other. Nothing short of the breaking up of the system could set free the imprisoned Force. Exactly like the crystal, the system of the stars is also a fixture. Equally it is without time. For that which is of its essence imperishable, and can at most be destroyed by extraneous disturbances, has no duration. In a circular line it is impossible to detect any difference of value between two points, it is only that which has a beginning and an end that possesses duration. So it comes to pass that that which gyrates is the symbol of that which is without life; for what we conceive as motionless rigidity is in reality motion ever returning into itself. And so according to the hypotheses of our physicists the single molecules out of which crystals are built up by hazard, fare exactly like what takes place in a planetary system: it is not possible for us to find another symbol for that which has no life. 71
    These few considerations should suffice to convince us of the fact that Life is something different from Matter and Force. In the crystal the fixed form is effect and not cause; the existence of the matter concerned in no way depends upon the perfecting into crystalline shape, to which it remains entirely indifferent. Basalt is just as perfectly basalt whether it be amorphous or hexahedral: water may be frozen into ice or vaporised into steam: the chemical body remains the same, which I can at any moment transform again into fluid water: none of these processes have the remotest analogy with a true Growing and Passing away, with Birth and Death. An atom of oxygen, as a part of air, floats over the earth with nitrogen, argon, carbonic acid, and aqueous vapour; inhaled it enters the blood, circulates perhaps as part of a blood corpuscle, is converted by the organism into all manner of complicated metabolisms, reaches the liver and thence the kidneys, comes out as part of the water molecule H2O, is bound up into a stone with silicium in the earth — and

93 PLATO

so forth. And whilst this absolute inertia is the essence of all Matter, the essence of Force is consistent change, without however any possibility of speaking of transformation (in the true sense of the word), in the direction and the momentary scope of motion without beginning and without end, since the reflex change is going on without a break: the metamorphoses of Force may be compared to those of a kaleidoscope, not to those of a Form: the energy which at one moment manifests itself as gravitation, at the next works as warmth, then transforms itself into stationary or moving electricity, blazes up as light, distributes itself again as warmth... Force is indeed a Proteus: the only thing which is steadfast in it is motion, changeable motion. And so this Proteus forces its way from outside into living form, within which it changes itself into all manner of different motions and then bursts out again; the form of Life has remained unchanged, as long as it lives; for if it ceases to live, then Force, the great annihilator of all Form, has quickly laid it in ruins, scattered it into dust, dissolved it into nothing.
    To sum up. Matter is indifferent to all Form: Force destroys Form. 72
    It is a law of our Thinking that we can only clearly grasp an idea when we fix that which is permanently steadfast in it, “the necessary being of its growth,“ as Plato in his direct way expresses himself. And so our exact science has rightly settled that the idea matter is based upon one steadfast single condition, upon which alone depends its conception, — that of inertia. All other so-called “properties“ of matter, which are still to be found in the handbooks of the nineteenth century, have disappeared out of the modern books: they can all be reckoned as proceeding from the idea inertia. Here, as must be evident, I am painfully anxious to steer clear of metaphysics. Kant might have taught us a hundred

94 PLATO

years before the physicists, that the conception of inertia alone corresponds to the category of matter; 73 still I should prefer to remain for the present so far as possible in the domain of empirical perception, and there we recognise as a consequence of our anti-metaphysical natural science, that that which is steadfast in Matter, that which constitutes the essence of this idea, is inertia. 74 In the same way it has been laid down that the essence of Force is motion, — motion with a strong stress upon the allied meaning of mutability: Force is that which is movable and mutable. 75 If then we say with exact science, Matter is inertia, Force is mutability, and if in the same way we ask ourselves, what in Life is the Being of Growth, the Persistent, the Essence, — the answer will not be doubtful: Life is Form.
    Neither in Matter nor in Force have we found anything which could have even the slightest analogy to true Form. For the “shape“ of the Matter in the “eternal silence“ of the crystal was only the expression of certain mechanical lines of direction, — apart from that it was a mere matter of chance, transitory and without significance; and if within force, considered as one unique whole, we do in a certain sense distinguish different forms from one another, — as for example Light from warmth, electricity from Light, this relative formation is the work of all-informing Life. Light as well as warmth, considered as a manifestation of Force, is mere motion, nothing else, limitless, formless: we living beings, who are defined or limited unities, create certain fixed relations to a “surrounding“ to which we give form inasmuch as we impose limits: these relations are more or less numerous, more or less widely developed in proportion to the organisation of the living being, — that is a matter of no importance: the only thing is essential: we are Form, and, since we are that, we inform everything with which we enter into relations, as necessarily as we take nourishment

95 PLATO

to be digested and assimilated. Neither space nor time, as we have seen, and that is to say not even the first elements towards any limiting power of information, possess any conceivable sense if applied to matter and force outside of all relations to living beings. All life, on the other hand, has a necessary beginning and end in space, — a necessary beginning and end in time. The Life of the individual has nothing of the nature of a circle, — it does not lead back to the starting-point. The straight line, the line that leads from one place to another distant place, that is the symbol of Life. In the circular line every point is equal to every other point, since in truth no point can be distinguished from another, and consequently there is no leaving the spot: in the line of Life, on the contrary, every point is essentially different from all points that have gone before and from all that follow after, and only Form remains persistent. There can be no such thing as space for a homogeneous mass, but only for a Whole, the parts of which take up different positions in relation to one another; it is in the distinction between Right and Left that the conception of space is rooted. 76 Time only exists where one moment can be distinguished from another; time is transition and exists only through Life, in Life, and for Life: that is why the Indian Sage was right when he said, “I am not in time, but I am time itself.“ 77 For that reason we may also say, Life alone truly “is,“ for Life alone possesses duration and existence. But we have seen that that which has persistence in Life is shape; transitory, limited, creating time and space, it is at the same time intransitory: for the fundamental shape has in the meanwhile, either by gemmation (reproduction by buds) or by generation, arisen anew, and thus Life gives us, together with the conception of time, the conception of eternity, — both, not as abstractions, but as perceptions, that is to say, as direct experience.

96 PLATO

    Just as we derived matter from inertia, so in Life, out of this fundamental conception “Life is Form,“ we can annex and derive everything with which observation furnishes us.
    What in the first instance concerns the relation to matter and to Force is, I repeat, the palpable fact that just as Force can only reveal itself in matter, so also the Life-Form can only reveal itself in matter and that only with Force as intermediary. That, however, is far from saying, in accord with the schoolmen, that Life-Form is created through the two principles Matter and Force which are hostile to all informing principle. What we in the abstract call Life, and in the concrete, Form, forces into its service Matter and Force, the two principles which may be separated in thought, but never in experience: yet, far from being a creation of Matter and Force, Life is one unintermittent fight against them. Life is not inert, but active in opposition: Life is not changeable but, on the contrary, persistent in all motion, in spite of all motion, and against all motion; it is Form asserting itself to the utmost possible extent. But in the long run no living individual can hold out against the two hostile powers, Matter and Force: the elements of Matter and Force which have been compelled to serve in the building up of Form for ever slip through his fingers. And then what remains? The new individuals consist neither of the same particles of matter, for these have been wafted away into space, nor of the identical motions of the forces, for time has devoured them: what remains persistent is Form. This is the essence of life; in order to understand that we only need to open our eyes. 78
    Now, lest I should lie under the suspicion of dabbling in Heaven knows what mystical natural philosophy, whereas in reality I am fighting against the mummery of the modern school, I will here bring into court one of the recognised most important zoologists of our time, taken

97 PLATO

from us alas! too soon, Edward Drinker Cope. Cope was an undisguisedly empirical investigator, and a fanatic believer in the hypothesis of descent: no one will suspect him of mysticism nor even of being a metaphysician. But he had seen enormously, perhaps more than any living man of his craft, and he, as a free American, pondered without prejudice on what he had seen. Here is a man who comes to the conclusion that all the Forces of nature are in antagonism to Life, so that a genesis of Life out of Force and Matter is a sheer impossibility, indeed a senseless thought. “It is,“ as he says, “more probable to assume that death is a consequence of Life, than that the living is a product of the non-living.“ 79 Specially interesting also is the distinction which he draws between the ordinary chemism which only operates in the living body destructively, disincorporatingly, reductively, and the anti-chemism, as he calls it, of Life which, though it presses into its service the inorganic Forces, compels them to an activity opposed to that which is habitual to them. Here you have pure unadulterated perception, not sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought. 80
    Another consideration which has been briefly touched upon, teaches us to distinguish the Form of Life. We saw that the crystal is not a unity, but only an insulated individual, for the simple reason that only that can be called a “unity“ which consists of parts put together, whereas every “part“ of the crystal is in reality a Whole. Now if it is the essence of Life that it should be Form, so it is the essence of Form to be a unity, and that implies at the same time that it must consist of parts which stand in reciprocally conditioning relations to one another and to the whole. Do but open your eyes! Every living being, great and small, may serve you as example and proof — living beings only. If you so please we can put this into the formula of a logical syllogism: the essence

98 PLATO

of form is that it should be a unified whole: a unified whole consists of parts reciprocally conditioning one another: parts reciprocally conditioning one another exist only in Life; Life alone therefore is, in the true sense of the word, Form.
    It must not be objected that a crystal shows different surfaces, edges, angles, and that these are its “parts“; for so little do they reciprocally condition one another, that to a certain extent a perfect crystal can hardly be produced otherwise than artificially, apart from the fact that, as you have seen, the whole of this structure of form is without any significance for the Matter which is concerned, or for its properties. Equally unjustified would be the objection that in a planetary system the various gyrating bodies condition one another. It would be easier for a neophyte to fancy that there might be some justice in the objection that there are “quite simple“ living beings: that these consist of a single cell, and therefore contain no distinct parts reciprocally conditioning one another, nothing that we usually designate as “organs.“ This is an assertion which you find even in very serious scientific works; it was absolutely essential for our theorists of descent that they should have simple living beings for the requirements of their structure of dogmas: nothing is so blinding as the fanaticism of preconceived opinions: a ladder of stages without a gap must, after the manner of Giordano Bruno, be set up for all beings, and so the transition-step out of the lifeless into life could not fail. When the notorious Bathybius Haeckelii, the so-called entirely formless living matter, had by means of an addition of alcohol burst into a mere sediment in bottles filled with sea-water, the so-called unicellular beings had to pay the penalty. The very word “cell“ is little more than a word: la cellule c'est la bouteille à l'encre des naturalistes, exclaimed a short time since a witty investigator, and very right he was: 81 but,

99 PLATO

Infusoriumhowever that may be, there are questions which we cannot discuss here: every day we learn more clearly to see how manifold and how various are the contents of one of these so-called cells, and that is all that we need consider: The course of biological science has discovered that those forms of life which used to be considered as simple, are, in truth, endlessly complicated. How people laughed at Ehrenberg! a man worthy of all admiration, because he believed himself to have discovered the most various organs in the Infusoria, stomach, viscera, heart and kidneys, 82 for in the meanwhile the very useful, even if overrated, conception of the cell had been taken up out of botany into zoology, and Siebold and Kölliker had shown that these microscopically small animals consist of one single cell. 83 But years passed, years in which the methods of investigation and optical instruments were continually being perfected, and so it became evident that the infusorium, which morphologically might certainly be considered as a single cell, does in spite of that really consist of many different and absolutely specified parts, so that Ehrenberg was in the main right, and only erred in regard to details. This unicellular being has two so-called Vacuoles, which pulsate in the same way as a heart; as the one swells the other contracts, and the fluid which is thus set in circulation moves (at least so it has been observed in optically favourable cases) through “vascular interspaces“; 84 this arrangement is not unlike the heart with its two chambers. Further, the

100 PLATO

infusorium has a mouth, very often with a manifold very complicated surrounding like lips, composed of movable membranes and regularly arranged cilia: it has a distinct pharynx: 85 the nourishment which is absorbed travels along fixed passages through the body, and those portions which are not assimilated are excreted through an anus, etc. etc. Besides that, reproduction depends upon very highly complicated arrangements which first appear in the copulation (fusion) of two individuals in which the distinction between the male and female sexes can in certain cases be manifestly detected. The well-known Darwinian Weismann has to admit this copulation: “it is essentially the same process as that with which we are acquainted in the higher animals and in plants as fructification,“ the only difference is a far greater complication. 86 Quite recently a young investigator of marvellous talent, Hermann Nikolaus Maier, has succeeded in making sections lengthwise and crosswise through these minute beings, revealing in all its complication the nicer structure of the cilia and of the movable membranes, and showing the possession of tactile hairs, i.e. organs of sense. 87
    But this is all by the way, and simply to show what a high grade of differentiation may exist in a form of Life microscopically small, and which as a consequence of very anthropomorphic conceptions we are accustomed to regard as “simple.“ 88
    Perhaps, however, some one of our schoolmen in natural history may refer you to even simpler beings. Usually the so-called amoebae are set aside, — naked, slimy formations which change their outline at every moment, inasmuch as they put out and draw in pseudopodia, that is to say, sham feet, by which they take in nourishment and also obtain motion. But our experiences with the infusoria ought to make us very careful. The mere fact that in a small living mass of protoplasm we, Professor X and Professor Y to wit, are unable to detect under the micro-

101 PLATO

scope any division into parts, does not prove that no such parts exist. Here again I will deal with facts instead of theoretical arguments. In the first place all amoebae possess a contractile Vacuole, and that means an organ which sets in motion a certain circulation of the fluid parts: secondly, in reproduction the processes of the various parts, so far as it has yet been possible to observe them, are highly complicated and so indicate an inner differentiation, even though it should be hidden from our sight: thirdly, the majority of those amoebae, which are usually reckoned as animals, form complex, specifically different, and constant shells; it is in the shell that the otherwise invisible form comes into observation. Let us, however, consider those amoebae which are so extremely primitive, as it is called, that we can neither refer them to animal nor to plant Iife, — the myxamoebae or myxomycetae (slime-fungi). Until fifty years ago these creatures found in rotten wood, decayed leaves and the like were looked upon as hardly organised intermediary forms between Matter and Life: then came de Bary, Cienkowski, and others, who conducted a minute investigation under the microscope into the mysteries of breeding: under their researches the so-called simplicity vanished. Every one of these slime-masses — the reputedly simplest unicellular entities, even those lacking a cuticle, — forms hardly to be counted as life, — were now found to contain many nuclei: it was also proved that this form, as a matter of fact, consists of the combination of many individuals, as it were a confederacy, and again under certain conditions falls apart into the same number of individuals. Every one of these individuals, however, has behind it an eventful development; for in the first instance out of a closely cuticled, characteristically designed spore or germ, there broke forth a zoospore, armed with a flagellum, a bottle-shaped diminutive being with a long, movable hair as rudder at the thinner end, and began to swim about with see-saw

102 PLATO

motions in water of which a few drops sufficed it for long voyages: then this little zoospore by subdivision separated itself into two swarmers equally furnished with flagella, a proceeding which in most cases repeated itself over and over again, so that since in the beginning there were many zoospores, in the end there was a whole mass of these swarming cells swimming about. And then, just as the tadpole loses its tail when it crawls on land in the shape of a frog, so all these cells threw away their flagella, and began to creep on dry land as apparently formless naked lumps of protoplasm, until at last numbers of such lumps met together and became fused into one of those slimy masses, the observation of which formed our starting-point. This mass has in no way arisen out of a chance coalition: on the contrary, it has a most important mission to fill: this combination of many small unities into one new and larger unity, has to care for the maintenance of Form. When the mass ceases to move by the help of its pseudopodia and comes to a standstill, far-reaching changes take place within it; here and there a knot swells up, it raises itself up higher and higher upon a pedicel, rounds itself off to a sporangium furnished with a stiff cuticle, in which by subdivision of the existing germs numerous spores arise. These sporangia are variously formed and coloured according to their fixed species, — sometimes they are even as it were inlaid; but inside, besides the spores from which later those flagella-bearing swarmers are to break out, they develop a plait of little tubes as thin as hairs, called capillitium, which sometimes stand free, and sometimes are bound to a net which, when the spore-vessel breaks, distends itself widely out. The wall of their small tubes is provided with all manner of pretty strengthening ridges which run straight, or diagonally, or in screw form, or are placed over one another in various directions; this complicated apparatus has to fulfil important functions

103 PLATO

in the protection and dissemination of the spores. Observe this: the apparently utterly formless masses of slime which creep about are in no wise to be distinguished from one another, or at most only by the most exact expert who recognises them by certain peculiarities visible only to him; we should be at first inclined to say: here is a Life without any fixed form; and if there had been no such thing as the possibility of artificial culture in this case, folly would have had a free hand; but the form of the sporangia which have now been discovered, the form of the spores and especially the complicated structure of the tiny capillitia tubes, all absolutely constant characters, allow of the division into groups, genera, and species with the same certainty as in any other animals or plants; from which we learn that that same naked apparently formless mass of slime was in truth through and through Form, though our human eyes were not able to see it, nor our human methods capable of indicating it directly. 89 Moreover, I think you will hardly be of opinion that the life-history of a so-called simplest being which I have just described is after all such a very simple matter: it would be nearer the truth to say that it is so complicated as to be almost beyond our comprehension. 90
    I hope that these hints as to the knowledge of facts gathered on the highway of perception will have made clear what was Plato's meaning when he says that it is not plurality, but a Whole conceived ideally as a Unity that enables us to speak of “Parts“ (p. 90) and if I add, Life is Form, Form is an ideally comprehensible unity; and life must therefore consist of “parts,“ — there can be no such thing as the Simple, the One, — such a thought is senseless, and all perception gives it the lie. If you take up a classical work upon modern exact investigation of cells, Edmund B. Wilson's The Cell in Development and Inheritance (2nd edition, 1900), which

104 PLATO

has for its motto Pliny's words, Natura nusquam magis est tota quam in minimis, — you will see that not only does the cell consist of parts, but that every part of the
Myxomycetes
STAGES OF DEVELOPMENT OF PRIMITIVE ANIMALS FROM THE CLASS OF THE MYXOMYCETES.

1. Swarming zoospores. The lowest has just escaped from its envelope.
2. Naked cells like amoebae proceeding out of the swarming spores by the drawing in of the flagellum; x about 400.
3. Movable plasm-net resulting from the fusion of numerous amoebae cells.
4. Single spiral fibre out of the capillitium; x about 1200.
(After Haeckel, Kunstformen der Natur.)
 
cell is itself in turn made up of parts; the more perfect the methods of investigation became the more clearly did the cell, which had originally been regarded as a

105 PLATO

simple element, reveal itself as a whole world of parts all reciprocally conditioning one another. At the same time it was discovered that Form extends its domination even into the microscopic details, so that for example a germ can only be produced out of a germ, a leucoplast out of a leucoplast, a chromatophore out of a chromatophore, a centrosome out of a centrosome, and so forth. This fact is no longer denied by any investigator; even Weismann, the representative of dogmatic Darwinism, accepts as many specifically different “biophores“ as a tissue exhibits of histologically different component parts, with the reservation that he declines to see this difference in the form, as de Vries and others do, but only recognises it in the fact that these biophores “regulate the whole significance of the importance of the development of the cell“ (Descendenztheorie, 1902, I, 418). 91
    I have been compelled to lay stress upon this, because everything depends upon the right comprehension of certain fundamental thoughts; it is in such points as that under consideration that Thinking and Seeing coincide with mathematical accuracy, and it is only at such points that we can speak of a true understanding; 92 the necessity at once arises to turn away to the right or to the left: it is a serious matter for us when such pillars of support as this begin to totter. Pure thought and pure sight are then at an end. Thinking and Seeing are as a general principle more nearly related than we are wont to imagine. In this case with the consideration of unity and parts, we are rendering quite as good service to natural history as to philosophy. I have drawn largely upon natural history, and shall again so draw: but as for our investigation of Plato we have now grasped the great fundamental antinomy of unity and plurality at its deepest root. Not by abstract reasoning, but by the clearest perception, we have learnt that as a fact unity only exists where something is made up of parts, that

106 PLATO

therefore the idea of unity presupposes the idea of plurality. This is no half-understood position that may any day be thrown into doubt by some other philosopher; it is a question of ascertained experience; if any man doubts it he is not worth doing battle with. At the same time we understand that this antinomy, like all antinomies, has only really a meaning in Life and for Life. Outside Life we found space and time, numbers also without importance: we saw this in the crystal and in the planetary system: but, just as here Being is Growth, and Growth Being, so in Life unity is of necessity plurality, and plurality, like the zoospores of the myxomycete, goes to form a unity.
    We will spend no more time over abstractions: such matters require to be grasped with the rapidity of lightning: let us go back to the study of nature in order to draw a further important categorical dogma out of the principle that Life is Form, which will serve for a closer definition of the Form of Life, as apart from everything which assumes fixed Forms outside of Life. For instance, we used the words “mechanical“ and “organic,“ and have for the most part, I am afraid, so little exact knowledge of what we mean that the result is an inextricable confusion. On one side a mechanical interpretation of nature is anathematised, lately indeed by several investigators of nature, as if an unmechanical science could yet be a “science.“ On the other side, it is held that the very distinction between “organised“ and “non-organised“ bodies is a matter of mysticism, which means for the faithful among our investigators of nature much the same as a denunciation for heresy to the sacra congregatio inquisitionis would mean for a Franciscan monk. It is really high time that a clearance should be made in this Augean stable of delusion.
    In regard to the mechanical interpretation of Nature it is to be observed that it is a question of method only,

107 PLATO

not one of fact. For the exclusive justification of the mechanical mode of observation within the bounds of what deserves to be called science, I must refer you to the whole of the lecture on Leonardo and to my Foundations of the Nineteenth Century; further, I must remind you of the law laid down by Kant, — “I must at all times reflect upon what takes place in material nature according to the principle of the mere mechanism of nature, and consequently, so far as is possible to me, seek for this, because unless this is the basis of investigation there can be no real recognition of nature.“ 93 Still, in the application of this uniquely right principle we must guard ourselves against one fallacy, which from the very outset attaches to the scientific use of the word, and which owes its being to no less a man than Descartes, who was the first to introduce the conception “mechanical“ into philosophy and science. 94 You know what a tough fight he had to carry on against himself and against his time in order to lay the foundations of rational natural science; men did not assign “souls“ only to living beings, — “souls“ by which all that they were and did could be explained without more ado, — but as you have heard, even lifeless bodies in motion were accredited more or less consciously with “little souls,“ that is to say, in so far as the motions which they achieved could be assigned to some principle existing in the body itself. I should wish to bespeak special attention to this: the unsophisticated starting-point of all men is the presumption that everything is in a higher or lesser degree gifted with Life, — a presumption which is natural enough, since it is from Life that we ourselves enter upon nature, and it is to be observed daily in children, in savages, and in animals. Such a presumption makes science impossible. Hence arose Descartes' battle against the soul. He once for all banished soul from matter when he indicated inertia as its essence: animals ceased to have any soul

108 PLATO

for him — any conscience — but were forced into the condition of automata: he robbed man of his soul, so far as was possible, by his sharp dualism. This achievement is and remains worthy of admiration as one of the greatest that any man ever effected. But there was one thing which in the heat of the fight was overlooked, indeed it was ignored with passionate stubbornness, — namely the distinction between Life, on the one hand, and force and matter on the other. In order to drive home the necessity of mechanical conception, Descartes is not contented with comparing organic beings with automata, but he actually boasts that “there is no difference whatever between them.“ Here it was that the error which was soon after to become fatal in philosophy, and is so still in natural history, wormed its way in. We are duped by a mere word. For the artificial work which we call an automaton (i.e. a self-mover) is in truth a heteromaton: it can neither start into motion nor remain in motion without extraneous help. No machine moves, unless man drives it. At first sight a machine may seem to correspond to our definition (p. 98) of a “unified whole“: but that is a deception; for according to that definition the parts should reciprocally condition one another, whereas in a machine it is not the parts that so condition one another, but man that conditions them. I first make the parts, and when they are finished, I put them together into a whole; whereas life is in its every moment a whole, a unity which as it were throws out its rays as the amoeba stretches out its pseudopods. In a clock, for instance, I follow a distinct purpose, that of causing an indicator (the hand) to move round about a disc furnished with numbers: my object may be attained in fifty different ways: the only thing that has anything of unity in it is my purpose, my thought; the wheels, on the other hand, are what Plato calls a “plurality,“ a manifoldness, which at most might be

109 PLATO

likened to the planetary system which we have taken into consideration, — Force conjured up, but only entering into activity if I create it anew every eight days by winding, — otherwise mere steel, matter, inert matter. There is then no real analogy between a machine and a living being. Hence all the allegories and conceptions which are commonly attached to this, whether in a pious sense or in a materialistic sense, are objectless: they lack all insight into the essence of Life.
    Here then the word “organic“ renders good service if we only choose to understand what is meant by it. Still, like most other conceptions, it is not seen to advantage in modern biology. Professor Verworn, for example, whose Allgemeine Physiologie is rightly popular, denies roundly that there is any quality which distinguishes the “organic“ from the “inorganic.“ He maintains (p. 125) that a compound rock has a construction more or less complicated, just as a living cell has, and he asserts that the test-glass will yield just as complicated chemically physical compounds as the living being. How are we to answer such arguments? 95 Rock and Cell! The Rock which differs from centimetre to centimetre, where no single element stands in any necessary relation to another: a thing which is absolutely lacking in Form! The Rock which not even in a crystal exhibits any analogy with Form, in the true sense of the word! And as for the test-glass and the miracles to be wrought in it, Professor Cope, whom I have quoted above, has already given the answer with his anti-chemism; at best the learned professor can do no more than conjure up a Bathybius Verwornii. It was only necessary for me to adduce these matters in order that you, as laymen, should understand the delusions of many really estimable professional men in regard to the comprehension of the fundamental conceptions of life; you might otherwise easily think that I am tilting at windmills. And yet “organic,“ as the

110 PLATO

word was introduced by Herder and Kant in opposition to “mechanical,“ implies something very distinctive and very clear, even though there should be no sharp definition forthcoming, for the very reason that up to the present time the insight into the autonomy of Life's phenomena is lacking. 96 The definition should be, “Those definitely formed phenomena in which form is cause and not effect, are called 'organic.' “ 97
    Again you are not to believe that in this way I am dealing in that very desultory mysticism against which I so expressly warned you. On the contrary, this definition of the “organic“ refers only to perception; it starts from perception, and leads back again to the same point. If I survey Life with my eyes alone, and without any attempt at philosophising, then what I see is Form; whether I look upon a mammal or an infusorium, whether I look upon a being as a Whole as it reveals itself to the naked eye, or whether I analyse every one of its elementary parts microscopically, — everywhere I see Form as the law of Life, Form constant, holding its own against Force and Matter, Form ever reproducing itself anew. That every single process of Life must be indicated mechanically, that is with me an article of faith; yet Plato teaches me to distinguish “between that which is cause, and that other thing without which cause could not be cause.“ (Phaedo, 99). If, on the other hand, I were to consider this question of the “organic“ not perceptively, but in accordance with my understanding, — that is to say, from the opposite bank of the river, — then the answer in regard to that other thing which lies behind the mechanical cause, would be quite different, for in that case it would be the conception of the finality. Finality and Form correspond like Thinking and Seeing. In the case of pure Seeing the conception “Finality“ has no meaning, because it is utterly senseless: pure Thinking, on the other hand, can only represent Form to itself

111 PLATO

geometrically, and that means schematically and can therefore realise the relations of a planetary system or of a crystal, but cannot realise Form as law and cause; for since Form of Life is not rigid it cannot be reduced to any geometrical scheme, but only to an artificial scheme in a figurative sense, arising out of a subjective necessity (Leonardo lecture, I, p. 112), not as an objective recognition. Thus the thought of teleology is the perception of Life-Form transferred to the domain of thought; or if you take the abstract as starting-point instead of the concrete, you may say, Form as the Law of Life is finality as it presents itself to perception.
    Here we at once find ourselves again deep in Plato and Kant; for this instinctively assumed identity between two ideas, — ideas which cannot logically be compared with one another, since the one has its foothold in perception and the other in thought, is that which Kant calls transcendental; and the revelation of this relation as of a fundamental phenomenon of the human intellect, is a foremost achievement of the critique of recognition as it was founded by Plato and perfected by Kant. 98 You will, I hope, remember our first example of a transcendental operation of the intellect in our third lecture (I, p. 284); it consisted of the assertion that

Circle
and R2=x2+y2

are the same. There the whole thing worked in the middle domain between Thinking and Seeing, where mathematics are on the one side Perception by Thinking, and on the other Thinking by Perception. We discussed

112 PLATO

in detail how it comes to pass that we arrive at this arbitrary comparison of two conceptions which in reality have no common standard, and the arbitrary and at the same time artificial character of the proceeding was clearly shown. Here we have exactly the same process, save that the leap is from far away on the further side of the middle tract, out of the realm of the visible, to use Plato's expression, into the invisible and back again: the intermediary domain is as it were cleared at a bound, so that the process itself seems more secret, and its arbitrary character does not at first strike the eye, whilst we are not clearly conscious of the identity and of what it means. Logically it is impossible to show why organic Form and the conception of a finality express the same thing. These transcendental tendencies of our intellect lie outside of Logic, which only becomes possible through them; for if it were not a fundamental peculiarity of our intellect to place perception and understanding into correlation to one another, no thought could as a general proposition come into existence, and we should have nothing but “empty thoughts and blind perceptions“ (I, p. 221). This relation, indeed, forms the primary phenomenon of our intellect; it is the point where the Psyche arises; it is only the man of dogmas, not the critic, who can go back behind this primary phenomenon. It is to be deplored, however, that we hardly ever become conscious of how creatively the human intellect here acts: for the transcendental relation becomes a matter of habit, and is looked upon as a thing accepted, whereas in fact it is a method, a method of collecting experience, and it should he our business, — just as we have created the higher mathematics through the discoveries by genius of ideas and relations, and by conscious refinements of methods, thus conquering a new world, — to give to our Thinking and our Seeing, neither of which can be without the other, an incalculable impetus by the appre-

113 PLATO

hension of new ideas, and the working out of hitherto unrecognised transcendental relations between Thinking and Seeing.
    Before carrying our considerations further let me here insert a short formula: formulae are stark crystallisations — as I know: still, we may use them for the maintenance of our experiences; as the ancients raised memorial stones, so we moderns must here and there set up words which shall serve us as landmarks and sign-posts. That is what we will now do in the interest of the clear distinction between Matter, Force and Life.
    If we attack the consideration in the purely abstract sense, we speak simply of Matter, Force and Life: there is nothing to be added; the mere word is all-sufficient; for the abstract coincides with the sum of the concrete, and admits of no further specification.
    If our understanding seeks for an intelligible expression for the experience of the senses, it ascribes as essence, Inertia to Matter, Mutability to Force, to Life the realisation of a teleology.
    If, on the other hand, we wish to obtain an intelligible and yet as far as possible practical expression for the same notion, we speak of Mass in connection with Matter, of Motion with Force, of Form with Life. But science lays down as a law, constancy in the Mass, constancy in Motion, constancy in Form. 99
    In the observation of Nature, and especially of Life, it is a matter of decisive importance to possess clear conceptions of these relations — otherwise we are bound to fall into the morass in which our modern biological investigation is held fast. For first of all the simple incontrovertible fact that Life, — intellectually considered, — is the realisation of a goal, is interchanged with the doctrine of the Middle Ages of the causa finalis, that is to say, of the conscious, much-planned, human “goal“ as the philosophical explanation of all nature, the doctrine

114 PLATO

of which Kant rightly says, that it suppresses the unity of nature, — though they have nothing in common: further, this conception of “finality,“ through which, as in the case with the conception of inertia in matter, a fundamental fact of Life incapable of further analysis is expressed, is confounded with the conception of the purpose of the machine, although the two are as we have seen diametrically opposed; finally, most people do not suspect that when we speak of finality in the consideration of Life we are saying exactly the same thing as if we were speaking of Form, and do not reflect that in many cases the more abstract conception is preferable, inasmuch as it is a matter of experience that Thinking works more quickly and more surely with conceptions than with perceptions. Tendency towards finality can no more be eliminated from the conception of a living being than space from the conception of a thing in general. Without the continual use of the conception, why? what for? to what end? anatomy, physiology and biology would lead us no further than mathematics without numbers. Kant has incontrovertibly laid down the famous definition, “an organised product of Nature is that in which everything is end, and, on the other hand, means to the end“ (Ur. § 66), in short, everything is finality and at the same time finality-creating, for by the word “means“ the reciprocal self-conditioning of the parts is indicated. As a matter of fact, in spite of all the agitation against the bugbear of teleology, the search for the finality is the why and the wherefore of all animal and botanical science, It is true that in the first instance we investigate the relations of form; but we do not dignify this knowledge of form with the name of science, until we can assign a reason why, — until we can prove with what object the one part fastens on to the other, — how the Whole behaves itself as a unity, why in altered circumstances certain changes take place in the body,

115 PLATO

etc. I can go no further into details here: you need but to open any zoological or botanical book. I cannot, for instance, understand scientifically what a fin is until I know its object, i.e. its function as an organ of motion in water, and until I can account for its correlation with the other parts, that is to say, for the nature of its subordination under the object of the ideally unified Whole; or again, the relative positions of leaves upon the shoot, complicated and reducible to mathematical formulae, were long known, but we did not understand the significance of this fact of form until Julius Wiesner showed that these positions of the leaves, differing as they do in various plants, correspond exactly to one and the same object in Life, namely, the requisite average illumination. 100 Here again Plato hit the nail on the head when he said of the conception of the finality (του αγαθου ιδεα) that it was “that which gives truth to things observed“ (Rep. 508 E). And thus an empirical investigator, Professor Minot, in the opening address of the American Congress of Natural Scientists, in 1902, was enabled to assert that biological knowledge is in the last instance always more a knowledge of the “why“ than of the “how.“ 101
    What wrong roads we fall into was shown by the same investigator in the same address, when he indicated how dangerous is the modern method of speaking of all organs of which the object is not clear to us as “rudimentary organs,“ supposed simply to prove a former stage of development, and as now being carried as useless remainders: this is a crassly anthropomorphic “negative teleology“ and nothing else. More and more, says Minot, does the impossibility of maintaining this Darwinian construction prove itself, as one after another of these so-called useless organs reveals a function indispensable to the united body, so that we may ask whether as a matter of fact there exists such a thing as a useless

116 PLATO

organ. This testimony of a professional man rich in knowledge and prudent in judgment, deserves attention at a time when the Darwinian craze works such mischief that Professor Wiedersheim counts in man alone 107 useless rudimentary organs. 102 Our dearly beloved great Herder believed, that “upon the noble, divine form (of man), the chief beauty of the earth, all the forms of animal structure seem to converge“ (Ideen, 1 T, III, 6). One feels inclined to suggest as the title for a book, Man as an Organic Lumber-room.
    In that “why“ of which Professor Minot speaks, and which instinctively crops up everywhere in the survey of Life, there nevertheless lies an immense danger, a danger for unprejudiced perception. For this same “why“ that every observation of Life awakens in us threatens to be transformed into a historical question, through which we are decaying into that “eternal regressus“ against which the old Indian sages impressively warn us as against a bankruptcy of all recognition. The second lecture showed that it is of the very essence of all physical science to do away with the perceptible by conversion into the abstract; in the domain of Life that happens in the way in which the thought of the finality, which is in reality another way of expressing perception of form, historically receives a new interpretation, by which even form is deprived of its eternal value as law, and appears only to possess an accidental and fleeting importance. The danger with which our culture in general is threatened by natural science, when we overestimate its value as is the modern fashion, without reflecting upon the necessary limitation of its significance, — that is a matter which there is no difficulty in realising: a still greater danger threatens all culture and at the same time all science, if the phenomena of Life are considered only historically. For in Life the matter is also scientifically different: Matter and Force are

117 PLATO

abstractions and therefore ultimately every exact consideration of them, in order to be accurate, needs an abstract expression; Life, on the contrary, is given as concrete, for which reason not only the interest of culture, but also the interest of exact science, demands that precedence should be given to a perception that should be as pure as possible. History, however, is, as I said before, the pendant of abstraction: it is the only form which abstraction can assume in the face of life: as soon as it gets the upper hand it annihilates all unprejudiced perception. In our well-justified terror of the Charybdis of teleology, towards which the conception of history directly steers, we rush upon the Scylla of evolution, and forget that all history should be at bottom only a method of grasping the essence of that which is constant and outside of all history.
    Hypotheses of evolution are as old as the world; we are justified in assuming that every uncivilised people believes in spontaneous generation, that is to say, in the production of Life directly out of that which is lifeless, and believes that one form of life proceeds out of another. The totemism, the religious veneration of certain animals, which is so widely scattered over the earth, always rests upon a belief in the blood-relationship between man and beast; it sometimes happens that the actual descent is expressly given. 103 The ancient Egyptians, who had long since abandoned this primitive stage of belief, had yet no hesitation in holding that spontaneous generation of Life took place in the damp earth penetrated by the Sun, followed by progressive development: 104 the old Babylonians held the same belief. So, barely two centuries before Plato, we hear a man of the relatively high culture of an Anaximander forbidding the eating of fish “because the fish is at once father and mother of the man.“ This philosopher brings forward a detailed scientific doctrine of evolution: according to him Life first arose in water,

118 PLATO

and in the struggle for existence, and by adaptation to changing conditions, gradually developed itself; in the course of time single animals climbed on to the land, where, in accordance with new circumstances of Life, they underwent deep-reaching changes and so forth. 105 Origen and others among the first founders of Christianity were convinced of the evolution of forms out of one another. These phantastic doctrines were so plausible and persuasive to the average mind, that they never disappeared, though they certainly assumed a more refined shape in the brains of the few important thinkers. That a Paracelsus or a Nikolaus of Cusa should regard the continuous procession of living beings which they believed themselves to perceive, as explicatio or evolutio of a unified thought of creation, is indeed a mystical explanation, but it conditions an empirical theory of evolution. This theory crops up again under modern colours in the case of men who, like Leibniz and Diderot, represent the opinion that the land animals proceeded from water animals after the seas had retired; Herder's conception of transformation is more refined: the doctrines of descent of Maupertuis, Erasmus Darwin, de Maillet, Bonnet and others are pure natural science. As Kant rightly says: the acceptance of a spontaneous generation of simple beings, followed by an ever-increasing formation of more perfect organisation, is so near to us, so simply adapted to humanity, “that there can be few, even of the keen-witted investigators of natural history, who have not at times felt such a hypothesis run through their brains“ (Ur. § 80, note). 106 Thus we hear Voltaire pouring his ridicule over the people whom he saw round him teaching that “man was originally a porpoise.“ 107 It would be naturally impossible for me here to give even the most brief sketch of the history of the theory of evolution: I only wish to call attention to the fact that it is not, as is commonly maintained, the last and highest attainment of

119 PLATO

the human intellect, but, on the contrary, a most obvious suggestion at which mankind arrived from the beginning of time. That Life should arise out of no-life, and should evermore be conceived in progressive perfection — in other words, the continuous creation of something out of nothing, seems to us no less worthy of belief than the creation of the world out of nothing, and the command to the Sun to move faster or slower, did to our primeval ancestors. 108 On the other hand, the success of true science has been in the exactly opposite direction: Pasteur, that true genius among the mob of shallow investigators of nature, has shown the way. Spontaneous generation must ever more and more be put out of court. So universal and uncontested was the acceptation that even Descartes did not doubt that rats — highly organised vertebrate animals, — were generated spontaneously in dust-heaps: to-day we know that not the tiniest bacterium can come into being otherwise than from another bacterium; indeed, every corporate form that is contained in a cell arises solely from a similar body; everything that is Form comes from Form, not from Matter and Force. The origin of something out of nothing is, as accurate perception proves, just as unscientific an acceptation in the domain of Life as in the domains of Matter and Force. In the same way no doubt accurate perception, directed according to a correct abstract method, will prove that every change in the Life-form is in truth a constancy of Form, a thought which I only throw out here as a paradox, since I have no time to discuss it more closely. 109 It has never been doubted that changes in the general picture of Life take place just as uninterruptedly as in the Life of every living being: even Linnaeus suspects that all the species of a genus are inter-related genetically: 110 that is not the gist of the question. The question far rather turns on whether the essences of life come to us atomistically side by side, or whether they do not in-

120 PLATO

directly or directly all stand in mutual relation, — whether there is in Life a continuous additional growth, an origin of something out of nothing (which is the fundamental doctrine of all evolution), or whether, on the contrary, Life as a whole does not form a constant magnitude inside which continuous shiftings take place, though in such a way that every additional growth in magnitude, complication, etc. inside a group, conditions a corresponding change elsewhere, and that every adjustment to altered conditions (Matter and Force) always and without exception signifies the utmost possible constancy of Form. I maintain then that in order to be able to think scientifically, we must premise, — that is, we must grasp the idea and raise it to a Law of Thinking, — that the universal Life of the world forms a unity, and indeed in such a fashion that the sum of formation (if I may so express myself) remains always unaltered. The great Cuvier is celebrated for having been able to construct a whole unknown animal from a single bone; science must advance so far as to be able out of a few remains of plants or animals to reproduce the Fauna and Flora of a whole epoch; that must be the aim of biology. 111
    This much will have shown us how to appreciate the direction towards which Thinking and Seeing, according to the principles of Plato, Kant, and Goethe, guide us in relation to the problem of life. Now let us see whither that investigation of nature, which declines to regard the essence of life as form, will lead us. It has no inkling of any connection between the idea of finality and the perception of form; and as to the “why,“ of which Professor Minot spoke as the essence of all biology, it believes itself to have a historical answer, since it undertakes to explain the “arising of finality,“ and even in its milder shape is at the present day poisoning all teaching and universal science — which more or less, it is true, disregards all ultimate questions, but always explains every single

121 PLATO

form as growing out of others, — whereby a monstrous structure of hypotheses is raised, and all possibility of independent perception daily dwindles. We shall see what furtherance this consideration will create for us towards the understanding of Plato and Kant.
    The madness of the thought of explaining the finality of living bodies, that is to say, of showing in what way they have succeeded in gradually organising themselves to a given end, becomes at once clear as soon as we know that the thought of a finality or object is nothing more than the conversion of living form into something comprehensible. Such a purpose is exactly the same as if a man were to say — I will set forth for you how it came to pass that matter gradually became inert, and how it happened that once upon a time Force became Motion. The very thought itself is senseless. And yet it is this that Darwinism in its different shapes undertakes and for which it is so highly praised. Darwin himself contributes not a little to this confusion, inasmuch as he, as a matter of principle, eludes every philosophical discussion of the thoughts which form the basis of all his theories. Everybody would be amazed, if Thinking had not so utterly gone out of fashion, to find no single explanation of the meaning of “species“ in a book entitled The Origin of Species. What manner of things are these “species“ about the “origin“ of which I am to be instructed? How does man come to any conception of a species of animal or vegetable life? Is such a conception something simple and self-evident which we have possessed from all time? Has the word an unequivocal meaning? Has it always borne the same sense? the poorest knowledge of history teaches us that it is not so. For thousands of years men have been fighting over this conception, and the science of life has stood stock still for the want of it. It is only recently that the most richly endowed and most genial investigators

122 PLATO

have created it. The ultimate credit for this creative achievement belongs to Plato: for it is to him that we owe the origin of those two interlacing ideas genus and species, which first rendered possible a science of the forms of life; yet its systematic application and perfecting was still very far distant. Aristotle groups together whole classes, such, for example, as birds or fishes, 112 and calls them a genos; but like most of Plato's creative thoughts, that marvellously keen thought that there must always be here two different things in reciprocal relationship, a dichotomy of the unity and the plurality, of the universal and the particular, downwards or upwards, — passed over the poorer, less perceptive mind of Aristotle without leaving a trace. Centuries of hot work, work which consisted chiefly in the amassing of facts and intensive perception, passed away before a few single extraordinary men, with John Ray at their head, in the second half of the seventeenth century, grasped the essence of the problem, and paved the way for systematic separation and co-ordination in the vegetable and animal kingdoms. Without their labours we should have mere chaos, not science. Here, however, the necessity soon became apparent of fixing as exactly as possible not only comprehensive groups upwards (eidos), but at the same time final unities downwards (idea), even at the cost of some arbitrary proceeding. 113 In this new development of our perceptive Thinking out of confusion into understanding, when it became imperative to rescue us out of the daily more threatening “Labyrinth of plurality,“ as Kant calls it, 114 Linnaeus earned the greatest merit that perhaps any one man ever achieved from practical knowledge of the living organisms, and that, indeed, not so much by any great profundity or creative talent, as by a rare sharpness of sight combined with a rare keenness of understanding; Linnaeus is a phenomenon of practical power of judgment. 115 Species and genus, as those terms

123 PLATO

are used in modern science, are conceptions which did not exist until the time of Linnaeus, therefore not before the second half of the eighteenth century. 116 The enormous knowledge and the works and thoughts of Cuvier, epoch-making for all future times, confirmed those terms and gave them that legal value without which nothing could have been obtained. The unheard-of development of our Zoology and Botany has been conditioned by this creative achievement: for the chief merit of the conception of a species, as it was fixed by Linnaeus and Cuvier, consists in the extraordinary keenness which it gave to our power of perception. It is, however, “unheard-of,“ in another sense of the word, to write a book, or rather a series of books, on the origin of species, without ever testing this conception of a species, without in any single case following it up historically: for the “historical sketch“ with which Darwin prefaced his book is a mere mockery. From the very first sentence Darwin speaks of species as if they were things running about like Tom, Dick and Harry, which any child might see by merely opening its eyes. And now comes the delightful part of the whole thing: in the Origin of Species the word species is used sentence after sentence in the sense which it has borne since Linnaeus, so that the whole book from Alpha to Omega premises this conception of species without which it could not have come into existence; while the whole aim of the work is to prove that there are no such things in nature as species according to the conception laid down by the Linnaean natural science. So that the true title for the book would have been The Origin of Species which do not Exist. 117 Why, any philosophical investigator from the beginning of time, — even Newton — could have taught Darwin that empirical exact science never succeeds in making anything of the origin of natural phenomena; even honest Roger Bacon in the thirteenth century, the awakener of Teutonic science,

124 PLATO

utters the memorable words, — causas non oportet investigare. Had Darwin, the incomparable observer of empirical phenomena, the man worthy of all honour, been in ever so slight a measure a thinker, he could not have failed to see that species in general is no direct natural phenomenon, but an idea of very slow growth, the origin of which lies in the human brain, and nowhere else, since it signifies one of those hypotheses, “stage and spring-board,“ as Plato expresses himself (p. 21), which man sets up in order to enter into sympathy with nature, in order to see her better, and in consequence also to be able to think her better. 118
    These few remarks only serve to show what a want of reflection disfigures the fundamental thoughts of Darwin and his followers: and if you push your investigations further you will perceive that the modern evolutionists are perfectly right when they logically deduce what Darwin himself never asserted literally, when they see the essence and merit of the doctrine of evolution in the mechanical explanation of Finality, by which, however, nothing further is gained than the revelation of the inextricable confusion which lies at the bottom of the whole trend of thought. 119 It was the selection of the fittest, and the elimination of the unfitted, that enabled nature little by little in the course of billions of years to bring living beings to the state in which we see them to-day, namely, that the parts fit one another and the whole. What may the meaning be of a living being unfitted for its end or purpose, of a formless form, — how that so-called primeval mother of all living forms was able to live even for a quarter of a second, let alone nourish itself, grow and multiply itself, if it was not from the very first perfectly organised for life — that we are not told; the brain is treated in this school as the 108th rudimentary organ of man. 120
    This general consideration of the fundamental sophisms

125 PLATO

is however, insufficient. Take one of the best anatomical handbooks which exist, a real monument of German industry and German soundness and thoroughness, Gegenbaur's Vergleichende Anatomie der Wirbeltiere mit Berücksichtigung der Wirbellosen * (1898-1901), that book is uncontestedly the best in its department of learning, and down to the theory on which it is based, worthy of all admiration: bad books would be of no use; we must see what the good books have attained. But with a view to a correct orientation as to the methods of exact science, I should recommend a preliminary glance at the preface of the Mechanik of the great Physicist Kirchhoff. Here we have to deal with the most easily investigated phenomena of nature: how does a master of this craft face his task? Kirchhoff says: “I set it down as the task of mechanics to describe the motions which proceed in nature, and indeed to describe them fully and in the simplest manner. By this I mean to say, that it must suffice to tell what are the phenomena which take place, without attempting to discover their causes.“ 121 You see what admirable self-restraint sets limits to Thinking for the advantage of Perception: you see also that the modern physicist, the man who has gone through the high school of true exactitude, almost literally reproduces the words of Roger Bacon, causas non oportet investigare, thus falling in with Goethe, who so often and so impressively warns us that “active enquiry after cause is very mischievous.“ In the same way the immortal Cuvier, one of the largest brains that has ever been seen, looked upon the aim and method of his science; he was the founder of comparative anatomy. As opposed to the phantastic apostles of descent, who surrounded him, eager to prevent science from arriving at careful distinction, — he calls himself with pride un naturaliste

    * The Comparative Anatomy of the Vertebrates with Regard to the Invertebrates.

126 PLATO

ordinaire, which he defines as an investigator for whom the only reasonable rule is the observation of that which is practically visible, and the rejection of the hypothèses sans preuves. 122 The same opinions were held by that race of great biological investigators to which we owe such men as Karl Ernst von Baer, Lacaze Duthiers, Milne Edwards, Auguste Pyrame de Candolle, Louis Agassiz, Richard Owen. But to-day, thanks to the rescuing power of the Dogma of descent, we have reached so far in the knowledge of life that we have dismissed all those anxious cares. “Let us imagine the most simple organism“ ... so begins the greatest and best handbook of comparative anatomy, that of Gegenbaur, to which I have alluded above. First then the thought, later on the observation. How we men are to judge what it is that nature regards as the simplest is not communicated to us: the question is not asked. That great care is to be observed in regard to so-called “simple“ beings has already been made clear: in reality most simply organised beings are at present only known, so far as one can conclude, as involutions out of highly organised beings as a consequence of parasitic methods of life. It often happens, therefore, in nature that the complex precedes the simple: it is not impossible that this may be the case throughout. In the lowest palaeozoic strata, in which fossils are generally found, there is represented, as we now know, a Fauna just as rich and as highly organised as that which lies at the bottom of the ocean to-day, and one that is essentially of equal rank so far as combination is concerned. Brooks, the well-known professor of Zoology in the Johns Hopkins University of Baltimore, and a convinced Darwinian, is as an honest man bound to confess that “far from showing us the simple unspecialised ancestors of modern animals, they, i.e. the few species found in the Lower Cambrian, are most intensely modern themselves in the zoological sense, and they

127 PLATO

belong to the same order of nature as that which prevails at the present day.“ 123 You see that for this “most simple organism“ of Professor Gegenbaur, the oldest known Fauna gives us just as little to lay hold of as the most recent: it is altogether a matter of phantasy. And now we are told with the utmost precision what must have been the life of this “most simple organism,“ this pure creature of phantasy! It is true that in one instance, on p. 4, Gegenbaur admits that a life-course for this primitive being or no-being, different from that imagined by him, ought not to be altogether excluded; but if that were admitted conditions must be presupposed “which are far less clear,“ — and therefore they are tabu. But surely nature would never have taken upon herself to behave otherwise than as what a university professor in the year 1898 could accept as “clear,“ and so it goes on heroically, without fear, and we are told briefly, first how this “most simple organism,“ which, although it was an organism still possessed no organs, gradually acquired some; and secondly how the different beings developed themselves out of one another. 124 The one is called expressly the “history of organs,“ the other the “history of species.“ Nature, you must know, poor clumsy bungler that she is, having once, she herself knew not how, allowed by mere chance a living being, an “indifferent“ primeval germ, to arise in her hand, needed long and industrious practice in order to bring life into a condition which should be capable of living! Happily there occurred a great “principle for the formation of organs,“ thanks to which, by degrees an organism came into being: it was not in vain that the Bachelier in the Malade imaginaire replied to the question why opium should cause sleep with the immortal answer, quia est in eo virtus dormitiva. Still, since she can only succeed casually in manufacturing a new individual, and in order not to risk losing the red thread of Growth, Nature,

128 PLATO

poverty-stricken as an inventress, repeats the whole past in each individual; she recapitulates like a child at lessons, and that is what our investigators call palingenesis or “new birth,“ so that Molière had a coadjutor in the old Indian mythology. Yet, like children, Nature has often a poor memory: she says her lesson off by heart incorrectly; and in that way there arises the so-called caenogenesis, that is “adulterated race-history,“ against which the ingenuous observer must be on his guard. 125 And so the invention of myths goes merrily on! You cannot have too much of a good thing. What is worth our notice in this is the fact that all these phantasies are thoughts and not perceptions: Thought, as a bold Knight, builds itself a castle in the style of the Middle Ages, and Dame Perception must put up with it and make the best she can out of it: and the conception of aim or end, so solemnly thrown out of doors, of course comes back again at once, but in a Mephistophelean disguise, so that it can assert itself without disquieting the gentle consciences of our historians of life. So, thanks to “an inherent mutability, the organism adapts itself to the conditions which work upon it.“ What do you say to this mummery? Do you think that you have gained by this “inherent mutability“? Does it tell you more than the simple view that the essence of life, taken comprehensibly, is finality? And here again there occurs the misfortune that mutability is set up as the essence of life, whereas its true essence is constancy to form! But that painted bogy does not come alone. A boundless mutability might serve to account for the possibility of adaptation, — it could not be its cause: “the cause of adaptation,“ writes Gegenbaur, “must in the first place be sought for in the advantage which the organism gains by the corresponding change.“ See how utterly anthropomorphic this thought is. Advantage as a motive cause, for instance in the merchant, is well known to us: but advantage as

129 PLATO

the cause of adaptability, instead of the result of adaptability, which would at any rate have a reasonable meaning, is a thought to make one's hair stand on end, which as against nature must be looked upon as a wretched miscarriage.
    That is how anti-science and phantasticism have invaded our times. And how did this happen? It was the inevitable consequence of wishing to understand nature from the process of growth instead of from its Being, which compelled men to set every question further and further back until free ingress was given to phantasy and hocus-pocus. Taken fundamentally this continual setting back is identical with Goethe's method of speculating on primitive beasts, primitive plants, primitive cattle, and so forth: but here Goethe's discretion is lacking, as well as the blessing of his power of imagination. 126 If we might not say that this craze is only the last belated straggler of romanticism and Hegelism in alliance with flat English utilitarianism, and that a hundred years will not have passed before it will be judged as men to-day judge alchemy, — the doctrine defended as plausible during centuries by the most talented scholars, a doctrine which had no inkling of the individuality of things: — if we might not hope for a race of creatively great biologists (just as Lessing unswervingly hoped for a blossoming forth of German poetry in the midst of a foreign mania): if we did not see around us in a few single investigators — at any rate in Germany — an energetic shaking off of this “English sickness,“ as the Zoologist Friedrich Dreyer called it in a happy phrase, — we might abandon all hope of a future for Science and culture. 127 In the last paragraph but one ot his Origin of Species, Darwin specially recommends his theory for our acceptance in that it also promises to mankind that all corporal and mental endowments will tend to progress in the direction towards perfection.

130 PLATO

I, on the contrary, should have thought that we might have contented ourselves with the gifts of a Plato, a Descartes, a Leonardo, a Goethe, a Kant, and that we might dispense with the promised progress, if we might only have a little leisure, a little air, a little composure, in order to make ourselves acquainted with the present, to make ourselves at home in it, — if we might assimilate, contemplate, tend, nurse up, all the whole brood of pregnant eternity slumbering within us and accumulated all round us: how far better this than that we, fooled by delusions out of a bestial past that is no past, — such as savages see rising before them like nightmares in their dark caves, but which have never had any existence save in our diseased brains, — should with outstretched greedy hands, without cease or rest, clutch at a phantastic future in which natural selection, in its blind choice, is forsooth to transfigure us into an exalted being, the like of which is beyond the imagination of the great and holy and sublime men of the present generation! What though the skulls of many of the oldest prehistoric men should be roomier than those of the average modern Europeans, with a correspondingly greater brain, and in consequence without question a higher intelligence! “There must be progress!“ and scientific superstition makes it a point of honour not to be less potent than religious superstition. 128 How great is the saying which Plato puts into the mouth of Socrates: “I do not expect to gain anything by waiting.“ Every single moment is fraught with the possibilities of every blessing; we have but to stretch out our hands and grasp! That was what Plato called the doctrine of Being as opposed to the doctrine of Growth. Out of that he believed that he could drink in wisdom in the sense of knowledge, and wisdom in the sense of dealing.
    It is now time that we should arrive at some philosophical result from our considerations. For in all these

131 PLATO

questions we have ultimately to deal with the antinomy of Being and Growth, of rest and motion, and Plato's standpoint is as clear and simple and therefore as instructive as possible: without constancy (Being) no recognition; without motion (Growth) no perception. 129 Manifestly there is nothing mystic about this; it is just the simple critique of the condition of recognition. Being and Growth do not represent to Plato two abstract categories waiting to be referred to or denied to this or that phenomenon. “It is only possible to speak of Being and Growth in relation to something; but that there may be Being and Growth in the absolute sense is something that we can neither maintain ourselves nor allow others to maintain“ (Theaitetos, 160 B, C). Of an entity in itself we do not know one tittle more than we do about a nonentity (Sophist, 243 C). “All perceptible things are comprehended in Growth“ (Timaios, 28 C). Accordingly we understand Plato exactly as soon as we perceive that everything according to him arises out of the meaning and the reciprocal interpenetration of Being and Growth. 130 All recognition is twofold (p. 54 seq.), and we may well laugh at the philosophers who are ever at war, the one set saying, everything Is, nothing Grows, while the others say everything Grows, nothing Is (Sophist, 246 and 249). It is true that it is not until later that we are conscious of the antinomies, not until after a penetrating analysis, and yet they are the foundation of all recognition. That is why critical discrimination is so valuable; for if, as Heraclitus has it, “all things undergo change and nothing is constant, then all recognition is impossible; for recognition presupposes a constant object and a constant subject; if everything is for ever in a fluid state there can neither be a subject to recognise nor an object to be recognised.“ Heraclitus indeed says, “Thou canst not twice enter the same river“; but if nothing is constant, than the “Thou“ in question is in the next moment no

132 PLATO

longer there, and the thought “the same river“ itself disappears. “If all things change and nothing is constant, it is not possible to maintain that there is any knowledge about anything.“ That which we call Being is in partnership with Thinking, and what we call Growth with Perception (Sophist, 248 A). But it is the function of Thinking (of the Ego) to charm the chaos of that which is undergoing change, into form, into rest, into being, into eternity: that is how at last recognition arises, and therefore, “Being stands in the same relation to Growth as truth does to delusion“ (Timaios, 29 C).
    Cursory as this sketch may be I think that it will suffice to enable you to grasp the course of Plato's thought, and that you will understand how he arrives at describing the doctrine of evolution which he ascribes to Homer (Theaitetos, 152 E), as exactly identical with sophism as a philosophical system and sensualism as a psychological system. He is, of course, far from denying growth, or change; even in the case of animals and plants he sets forth with the sure instinct of genius “ that they must have experienced countless transformations“ (Laws, 782); knowledge and science, however, can according to him depend upon constancy, and consequently in the search for knowledge we must endeavour to grasp that which is constant or, as Plato sometimes expresses himself, “ideas“: it is our business to search until we find something which, as being constant, is fitted to yield the foundation for true recognition. Up to the present the history of science has brilliantly justified Plato's conception: for the determination of that which is constant, only to be grasped ideally (as we usually say, of Laws) in the course of phenomena, is the essence and content of our mechanics, our astronomy, our physics, our chemistry, indeed even of our scientific philology. 131
    But if it is life that we are taking into consideration there arises a special relation which, so far as I know, has

133 PLATO

been brought forward neither by Plato nor by Kant. In the interest of indispensable perceptibility I must go back once more for a little, but must in so doing claim special attention, for it is a question of arriving at the most important result of our labours.
    Let us in the first place take any inorganic object: say a crystal or a planetary system riveted in constancy — I am for the moment speaking of pure perception without any deductions of thought — in this constant being we see no trace of growth: that any changes should occur here is something which must be explained and demonstrated to us beforehand, in order that we may believe it: often the acceptation of it is nothing more than pursuing our hypothetical structures of thought into the realm of the absurd. 132 If, however, the balance is destroyed there follows a growth perceptible to the senses, and then we have, so far as mere perception is concerned, a pure Growth taking place before our eyes without Being, because every conception of something constant in which change takes place is impossible to us: we may indeed invent something constant, for instance, “substance“; we do it for the sake of knowledge, but we do not perceive it, it is a mere matter of thought. If the planetary system breaks up, then the forces which were till then bound up together are changed into other forms of motion, and if the crystal is disintegrated chemically, and transformed into another body, it simply ceases to exist. What perception gives us outside of life is either Being or Growth, not both together. Being here is not Growth, nor is Growth Being. Then there arises a second consideration which at last gives us a full insight into our own instinctive proceedings. Even the higher mathematical physics which reduce the conception “Matter“ into motion, reintroduce it as soon as they have satisfied their consciences by this proviso; in truth, the human intellect cannot for a single second dispense with the conception

134 PLATO

of Matter. This, I think, can be explained as follows: the fundamental antinomy, that is to say, the fact that every recognition consists of two unequal parts, gains a clear expression by this separation into Matter and Force; under Matter we understand that which is constant, the Being of the lifeless (even if we are compelled to reduce this constancy very far back into the so-called elements, and therefore beyond all that is perceptible to the senses), — under Force we understand that which is changeable, the Growth: in this way we dissect into its two parts that fundamental antinomy of Motion and Rest, Change and Constancy, Growth and Being, and give to each part its due. That has at all times taken place instinctively, yet perfect clearness was only reached by the purely scientific separation into matter as inertia, and force as mutability.
    In life, however, the relation is essentially different; for pure perception gives us not either Being or Growth, but always and without exception both together. The Being of a living creature is Growth. We may speak of God as a Being which Is without Growth, that is to say, which exists as pure Being: yet Kant will show us in the next lecture that all our utterances about God can neither be thought nor represented: they are empty theses. Perception, outwards as well as that least ambiguous of all experiences, experience in our own selves, show us that in life Being always contains Growth. The plant and the animal are bred, developed out of germs, grow and pass away. But Growth does not only show itself in the individual, but in all phenomena of life. The generations which follow one another are not exactly alike, for it is of the essence of form to be elastic, and in this way form fights against the force of matter, and so it maintains itself. The changes in certain life-forms are no discovery of our theorists of descent; it has been known to our scientists from all time; Buffon speaks of the mouvement de flux continuel, and forestalled the

135 PLATO

experiments with doves which lay the foundation of Darwin's theory, and indeed with the same material result of a common descent from the wild rock-pigeon; 133 Linnaeus has very interesting observations and considerations on the subject, and says, “that it is not indeed a truth proven,“ but that he holds it to be highly probable “that all the species of a genus in the beginning formed one single species.“ 134 Cuvier made extensive experiments on the subject of variability in the dog, and is the discoverer of the fact, that every geological epoch is distinguished by a special Fauna and Flora; Agassiz is the discoverer of the apparently progressive development in the series of related forms, and the series of the beings that are living at the present time, “from the monad to man“ (as Milne Edwards wrote in 1851), awakens, when they are all considered together, the conception of a directly visible evolution: briefly, every scientist has at all times been in agreement with Goethe, “we believe in the eternal mobility of all visible forms of life,“ 135 But at the same time, and in a far higher degree, not only thought, but direct perception shows us that here the process of evolution is constant, is in fact a Being. Evolution, — if we are to preserve that misleading word, — is indeed present, but only as the principle of constancy. In everything that is inorganic that which we conceive as constant is only a conception, an abstraction not to be grasped by the senses, whereas, on the contrary, life shows us Form, — Form constant till death in the life of the individual, in spite of the changes and transformations which occur in the fight against Matter and Force, — Form which in spite of individual variations remains constant from generation to generation ever rearing itself anew, — Form, which asserts itself in the phenomena of regeneration with an obstinacy that verges on the miraculous, 136 — Form, which in fundamental shapes and types, as well in the main lines of the whole plan, as in the details of the

136 PLATO

structure, binds together and joins into unities even remote beings by means of constant shapes, relations and numbers, — unities which from the oldest petrifactions of the palaeozoic age until modern times remain constant, fixed and immovable. 137 Being is here the primary consideration, Growth the secondary. Constancy, — not only of single species without any change from the oldest palaeozoic strata until to-day, which as will easily be understood is an exceptional case, — but, as I have just shown, constancy of precisely the same structural conditions down to every detail in spite of all cosmic and telluric convulsions in the course of untold millions of years; that is the great fundamental fact, the fact of all facts, which pure conception gives us in regard to life. 138 Life is form, constant form. For example. The skull of the mammals is, in the light of a comparative anatomical observation, a simplification of the skull of fishes and amphibians: numbers and reciprocal position show that precisely the same bones, — or, as Plato would have said, the same parts of the unity, — are present, as can be proved by embryological investigation. Only, owing to the more compressed structure of the rounder capsule of the mammals, the ossifications which at their first appearance are separate become anchylosed into a smaller number of distinguishable bones; still, the homology remains, as I have said, constant; a salmon's skull is generally chosen for demonstration in detail to students in their first term, in order to lay the foundations of the study of the cranium. 139 Fishes and amphibians are found in great numbers in the palaeozoic strata; take any one of the amphibians' skulls which have been preserved uninjured, for example, the very clearly rendered skull in Gaudry's Paléontologie Philosophique, of the Actinodon Frossardi, an animal so archaic that the whole order to which it belongs does not appear even in the secondary, much less in the tertiary strata. You will

137 PLATO

Skull of Actinodon Frossardifind that this skull has exactly the same bones as those of the skulls of all modern vertebrates, neither more nor less, and that all the reciprocal relations are so clear that the homology between the skull bones of this animal which lived perhaps a thousand million years ago in the marshes of the carboniferous system, and the bones which at this moment enclose our human brains, is absolutely perspicuous. Here you have the two parietal bones, the two temporal and nasal bones, the two separated frontal bones, in man adhering before birth, the occipital bone, etc., everything, just as you may see it to-day in every one of the many thousand species of the vertebrate animals. Not the difference of elements, not the manifold transformations of the earth's surface or of climatic relations, not the far-reaching shifting of universal vegetable and animal life, not the active force of change from day to day, the mighty effects of which are dinned into our ears until we are almost deafened, not the phenomena of adaptability with which life is wont to defy all obstructions, — nothing has been able to alter one tittle in this vertebrate animal's skull, to add one tiny new bone to it or even to reduce or remove any single bone. As it appears in the oldest known examples, so it remains to-day. I have taken the skull as an example, because we men rightly hold the head to be the most important feature, and so I gained an argumentum ad hominem; but the same holds good of the whole body, and it applies to all other types of structure as it does to the vertebrates. Perhaps for the layman the relations of one of the extremities may be more easily recognised,

138 PLATO

and since we have opened Gaudry's book, I give you here the skeletons of two fore-feet, of which the one on the left belongs to a reptile which only occurs in the palaeozoic strata, and the whole organisation of which refers it to a group of which the last representatives died out at the beginning of the mesozoic age, before the Jurassic, whilst that on the right shows the bones of the foot of a monitor lizard of to-day. In this wise has Form maintained itself in the countless thousands of millions of reptiles which have lived since the palaeozoic times until now, and main-

Left: fore-feet of a Callibrachion Gaudryi, Right: fore-feet of a monitor lizard (Tapinambis)

tained itself even where, as in the free extremities, external influences must reach their highest power, and where we might at first sight suppose that the numbers and position of the component parts would be subject to endless change. By this practical lesson in perception I wish to impress the fact that Life though a plastic power (for how else could it be Form?) is not continually effecting as many changes as possible, is not inclined towards Motion and Growth, but, on the contrary, is constant with indescribable obstinacy as the one and only conservative principle in all nature, as the greatest imaginable repose, as the incarnation of the conception
 
139 PLATO

Right hand of manof Being: and in proof of this I add out of Gegenbaur's anatomy the skeleton of the right hand of man for comparison with the reptile's feet. I need not dwell upon the difference in the functions in the hand of a man and the foot of a reptile: but it is striking with what a minimum of change Life has maintained the same Form.
    The more closely we look at Life the less are we able to follow Plato when he maintains that only Thinking has any fellowship with Being, Perception, on the other hand, with Growth. There is a gap here, indeed more, an error, and our labours will not have been in vain if we have succeeded in feeling this, not because it has been our business to get the better of Plato, but because it is here that we find the transition to the deepest critical thoughts of Kant.
    We see it with our eyes; and had I the time I could show it even more convincingly, more overpoweringly: in Life Form is constant; it is, therefore, not abstract Thinking, but rather a perception of the senses which teaches us the lesson of Being as opposed to Growth, teaches it, that is to say, when we direct our perception upon Life, and purify it of all the phantoms of thought. It is here, here in the perception of the Form of Life, that there arises the conception of a Being — (which would otherwise be senseless) — and if we try to grasp comprehensibly this thing which we have perceived, we discover that it can only be conceived as teleology, something serving an end. The conception of that which serves an end is for us men the method of comprehensible analysis of the visible Form.
    No one is further than I am from sharing the standpoint of the great Agassiz when, in his book upon Species out of

140 PLATO

the contemplation of the forms of life, he concludes that Logic, abstract conceptions, intelligence in the human sense of the word however exalted, and in the last instance God, are here at work: no man who has gone through the critical school of Plato and Kant can fall into such anthropomorphism as that: our business is the critique of recognition; we must not let ourselves be fooled by our own intellect, and so it is of far-reaching importance to define accurately why the contemplation of the Form of Life always of necessity leads to the conception of a process of thinking and what that signifies. 140 That is what we have done, and so we have reached a point where the two halves of our intellect, understanding and sensibility, not only meet together, but enter into such a close organic relationship to one another that each forcibly premises and conditions the other, because it is only so that it can obtain expression and understand itself, because each, so to speak, only sees itself mirrored in the eye of the other. In the contemplation of the Form of Life, and only here, I can think what I see, and see my thoughts with my eyes. For Form, that which Plato defines as the “unified Whole composed of parts,“ however much it may be seen, however surprising it may be (as every newly discovered animal shows), first arises as “Form“ at the moment when it is thought, that is to say, comprehensibly gripped firmly as a unified system of parts each serving a purpose and brought into fixed relations to other Forms; and teleology, although a pure thought, is so entirely woven out of perception, that it is a matter of difficulty, nay, of impossibility, to fasten this conception into words. Here understanding and sensibility join hands, so exactly does the one condition the other.
    Evidently this point is even more critical than that from which Plato and Kant started, and which furnished the occasion for this excursus. There we were dealing

141 PLATO

with the “antagonism of reason,“ as Kant called it, that is to say, with two manifestly and directly contradictory assertions, both of which might be false and both of which might be correct: here, on the contrary, we have to do with two entirely incompatible ideas which at first sight it seems impossible to bring into relation with one another, which yet must be recognised as identical because they are the recognition of one and the same fact, at one time in the element of sensibility, at the other time in the element of understanding. In both cases we are dealing with the Transcendental, that is, as we know (I, p.284), with those relations which constitute the primary phenomenon of our intellect: the one is a transcendental antagonism, the other a transcendental synthesis. In the case of antinomy I apply two opposite predicates to the same subject; for instance, the divisibility of matter is limited, — the divisibility is unlimited; or the world has a beginning, — the world has no beginning: in the case of transcendental synthesis I say of two different subjects that they are identical, for instance

Circle
is identical with R2=x2+y2,

or the Form of Life is identical with the conception of finality, or, as Kant will teach you, Ideality is identical with Reality. Where there is antinomy there exists a confusion which arises out of our unconscious interchange of different sorts of recognition, and this confusion calls attention to transcendental relations, but does not completely reveal them. Here, on the contrary, in the contrast between Life-Form and the thought of finality, we discover

142 PLATO

that which is really transcendental. The antinomy, the transcendental antagonism, is a logical conflict of thought at which we have arrived, thanks to our uncritical thoughtlessness: the transcendental synthesis as the origin of all recognition is a phenomenon the existence of which, without the teaching of Plato and Kant, never enters our consciousness. The solution of the antinomous antagonism is the business of that logical reflection which is conscious of the transcendental difference between our two methods of recognition (understanding and sensibility): the explanation of the transcendental identity of heterogeneous ideas can, on the other hand, be afforded by no logic, for it lies on the hither side of Thinking and Seeing. The difficulty arises in our desire to measure that which is unmeasurable: the fact which lies before us is incommensurable for our understanding. We do not comprehend it, but we live it; and perhaps I should be justified in saying that we do not understand it because we live it, because this instinctive unconscious construction of logically inexplicable equations between perceptions and conceptions constitutes the essence of our human intellect.
    All the details of this excursus have pointed to the one object of making perceptibly intelligible what is the antinomous or negative Transcendental, and what is in contradistinction thereto, the positive Transcendental, and how far these two contrasted phenomena arise out of the same standpoint: not until you know that have you begun to follow the thoughts of Plato and Kant. The antinomy of Reason serves as a stimulus, as a spur: but recognition first steps in when we have grasped the fact that the intellectual life of man consists in one single fast network of transcendentally woven equations of ideas of perception and ideas of understanding, and that means, in the language of our third lecture, of symbols and schemes.
    In order to shape this yet more firmly we must give one final glance at Plato's conception.

143 PLATO

    How fares it with that error in Plato's critique which appeared as the result of our investigation of life? How did it arise? Plato did not push his analysis far enough. Many judges on this very account set him above Kant: he appears to them simpler and greater. All thoughts are tempters: even the thought of simplicity can seduce us: the too little is quite as much exaggeration as the too much. Plato drew a very sharp line between the two branches of our recognition, understanding and sensibility (pp. 49, 66); on the other hand, he did not sufficiently recognise how closely they belong to one another, how exactly they reciprocally condition one another. Like Linnaeus, he saw the chief task of his life in the sharp distinction between the ideas recognised by him in their individuality, and so he was inclined to look upon the separation between understanding and sensibility as absolute. The consequence of this was a fatal interchange and intermingling of the positive Transcendental with the negative Transcendental or antinomous, which has given rise to no small amount of confusion and bias. For while Plato (cf. p. 75) prefers the Ego to Nature, Unity to Plurality, Thinking to Perception, he, on the one hand, tears up those thousands and thousands of threads which bind together the hither and thither, impoverishing the intellect as we sometimes are distressed to notice even in him: — while, on the other hand, he ventures upon a very dangerous ground where men less prudent than himself, by gradually rejecting all perception with scorn, were destined to lay the foundation of trouble of which we do not yet know the full measure. That is the one-sidedness, the bias, of which I spoke in an earlier part of this lecture. And so Plato imagines that  it is only in Thinking that he finds a “relationship with Being,“ overlooking the fact that though it is Thinking that gives us the great constant ideas, it is at the same time the anarchist, the disorganiser, the agitator. The

144 PLATO

modern transformation of organic science into a historical house of cards, is nothing more than thought-work. Relying upon pure perception as a foundation I can undertake to take the whole material which has been gathered together as proof for the monstrous dogma of the descent of all living beings from one single primary germ, and to convert it into another, more beautiful, more harmonious structure, more in keeping with that Nature which is above and beyond all thought. 141 It is not understanding but perception that awakens the idea of Being, of Constancy; needless to repeat it. Pray remember, at the same time, Goethe's doctrine of metamorphosis, his doctrine of colour: were not these ideas born of the most intensive perception? and do they not point to Unity, Constancy, Being? to that “Being“ as Plato understands it? The recollection of this will guide us in the right direction. For you will remember from our first lecture that all these constructive ideas of Goethe's arose out of the necessities of reason, and through the activity of reason, and were not the direct creation of Nature, or as Schiller expressed it, were “ideas and not experience“ (I, p. 71). It was then a question of perception, not indeed of perception alone, but of perception plus understanding. It is the same with the idea of “Form“ in which a Whole, in order to be seen, must be conceived as made up of parts with a certain purpose; only in this instance the relations are clearer and purer, so that we see more, and at the same time think more, than was the case with Goethe's ideas.
    We have now reached a position in which we can understand Kant when he says, “without transcendental combinations no experience would be possible.“ Perception, considered as the organ of sensibility, gives us in the first place plurality and motion, not unity and constancy, — there Plato is unconditionally right: but the same may be said of Thinking; it breaks up, divides, separates,

145 PLATO

multiplies, sets in motion; Plato himself introduces dialectics as a system of division and sub-division. To grasp and hold tight, to rivet, to fasten into Being, is the business neither of Thinking by itself, not of Seeing by itself, but occurs rather by the meeting, the combination, and the interweaving of the two together. Transcendental combination is at work everywhere: through it perceptions and conceptions “come to a stand,“ — what is expressed by the word “under-standing.“ 142 The conception and the thought of Being, Unity, Constancy, and the whole host of ideas out of which our recognition and our knowledge, and, by degrees, our science are built up, all have their roots in transcendental activity. Our intellect is really a web: examine it closely and you will find warp and woof everywhere. But you will find something more, namely, that in different places there is a difference in the closeness of the web. It is closest where, as in Form and in suitability to its end or aim, thought and perception are impossible to separate from one another, because each remains unspeakable without the other. In the propositions of analytical geometry, on the contrary, the combination is very loose: in a certain sense here all is artificial: an equation of that nature expresses no more than a fraction, it is a mere outline: fifty other such equations are equally justified and equally arbitrary: here it is only scheme and symbol of purely formal Nature, both empty, that come to an agreement, — not understanding and sensibility, still less Ego and World. Between these two sorts of transcendental combination, — that which is quite close and that which is quite loose, we have the possibility, and indeed probably the fact, of an endless sliding scale. A more minute analysis is outside of the scope of our purpose to-day, yet the main law seems to be that the further the distance from which the two threads come, that is, the more purely and exclusively they belong to

146 PLATO

the element, whether of sensibility or of understanding, the closer will be the web, and the more difficult it will be — even to the degree of impossibility — to separate warp and woof from one another. The danger for the critique of recognition, and so for science, philosophy, and culture, is the circumstance that we men are apt only to recognise the web as such where it is very loosely woven, but not where the threads are most tightly entwined; and yet with the recognition that “Life is fitted to an end, Life is Form, Form and Fitness to an end are identical,“ we are uttering something which is not only immeasurably richer in contents, and therefore more important as a vehicle of truth, but also simpler, than with the proposition:
“The circle is
Circle
The circle is R2=x2+y2

Circle and R2=x2+y2 are identical.“
It is just those thoughts which are simple that man finds it most difficult to think.
    To think simple thoughts was the main endeavour of the great Plato; it was also the reason why he was almost universally misunderstood. My hope has been with the help of Plato and with the foundation of his more simple manner of thinking to pave the way for a deeper and deeper insight into the far more subtle and refined architectural structure of Kant's philosophy.

147 PLATO

    We have now, I think, gained as much as we could hope for out of this lecture, and to-day, as on former occasions, it goes against the grain with me to sum up: in the middle of a lecture I like introducing formulae, because, if properly chosen, they furnish tools for clearing a way through the jungle: but my aim is directed upon the living personality, and that can only be made manifest by a thousand stray features: in order to portray it, one must do so without saying more than is absolutely necessary. To close the present lecture and to prepare for the next and last, let me refer for a moment to my first remarks.
    I said that the threads woven in the earlier lectures would to-day run together. You have seen now in what measure this has been the case. At every step I have referred either expressly or by implication to our chapters on Goethe, Leonardo, and Descartes, and without the Bruno lecture my task would have been impossible. I should like in a few words specially to recapitulate the most important of these relations.
    Let us take first the general question.
    In the two first lectures we saw men who considered the world specially from an artistic and concrete point of view; in the third and fourth we dealt with men who looked upon it mainly from the philosophical and abstract point of view. In Goethe it was the subjectively inventive, in Leonardo the objectively imitative character which had the greatest weight: in Descartes we found a rich world of perception and symbolism striving to translate itself into precise formulae and systems of thought; in Bruno's intellect we saw the dominant spirit of that proud autocrat, abstract Reason, which some of us consider as a gift of God, others as a deception of the Devil. In Plato we find both directions, the concrete and the abstract, united, and that moreover with direct reference to all these variants. Like Goethe, Plato strives for the

148 PLATO

arbitrary fashioning of the visible by the creation of ideas, — like Leonardo he extols the domination of natural phenomena by exact mathematical treatment, and therefore defines more precisely than Goethe the difference between Being and Growth, Rest and Motion, — like Descartes he loves to wander with his sharp power of analysis in the buffer-land between understanding and sensibility, and, like Bruno, he is inclined to undervalue perception as against Reason, and the jousts of dialectics are dear to him.
    Let us look a little more closely into the connection with Goethe. According to the scheme of our last lecture — “Thinking inwards, Seeing outwards“ — Plato unquestionably belongs to the same group as Goethe. Here we have the very quality which above all others is predestined for the formation of ideas (I, p. 391), and now at last we can understand the reason of this: it is because every formation of ideas rests upon a transcendental event, and weaves its web the more closely in proportion as the two component parts are the more pure; but the only warrant for their purity lies in the quality of the intellect in which Thinking is turned towards Thinking and Seeing to Seeing — nothing else. We only need to see an Aristotle or a Descartes at work, in order to become aware of the difference. But at the same time this quality explains a specially favourable conjuncture for the critique of human recognition; for such a personality clearly feels in itself the cleft between the two halves of our intellect. If this personality is above all things a thinker, as in the case of Plato, then it is intelligible that the analysis of intellect should become the work of its life: that allegory of the cave, that is of the man who feels himself to be midway between two worlds, might serve as the best imaginable allegory for Plato's own personality. If, on the other hand, in a person of this intellectual quality Seeing takes precedence, that is

149 PLATO

to say, the direction upon what earlier in the lecture we made acquaintance with as a posteriori, the direction forwards into the future, as in Goethe, then we are brought into contact with what deserves to be called a topsy-turvy critique. A so incomparably lucid, but at the same time abstract, perception of Forms — (pure thought as we have seen, p. 65, lends us ten thousand eyes) — dissects irregular nature with its many chaotic colours into a number of parts exactly corresponding to and conditioning one another, but then sets them up again artificially like a temple built by the gods for their own eternal home. We must be quite clear upon the point that Goethe's “world of the eye“ is a world of culture, that is to say, a world created and shaped by men for their highest needs. It is no question of passive, but of active, perception. Goethe is one of the greatest thinkers that ever lived, only his Thinking is quite concrete, drawn altogether from visibility, from the topos horatou, and transformed into shape; “my thinking is perception,“ he says himself. 143 Plato, like the Hellenic sculptor, consciously creates types, for it is only by monumentalising that the simple form becomes visible to him, otherwise it could only fade away into vapour before his eyes: Goethe, on the contrary, in every single thing sees a Whole, a Law; — and that means a Thought; it is true that he also needs types, — that must be the case with every man who forms ideas, — yet he seeks for them outside in Nature, and says of his Urpflanze or typical plant, “It is impossible that such a thing should not have been“ (Palermo, 17.4.57). Plato then thinks his perceptions, whereas Goethe sees his thoughts with his eyes in so lively a fashion, that it needed the inconsiderate energy of Schiller to shake him up to the consciousness that what he looked upon as experiences were in fact ideas. All this may be summed up into the saying that in Plato Forms become Thoughts, in Goethe Thoughts become

150 PLATO

Forms. But more important than the possession of any such formula is the insight into that transcendental combination, thanks to which Plato's thoughts are not abstract, but are all rooted in perception, whilst what Goethe sees is not a poverty-stricken single empirical instance, but the law, the idea, or the Form of thought. This accounts for that misunderstanding which was common to both, a misunderstanding only possible in such overwhelmingly gifted men: whereas Goethe believed that he could see metamorphosis with his eyes, — that he could “experience“ it, — Plato, at any rate on many occasions, thought that he could grasp ideas with his hands (with the hands of reason), and so, by comparison with them, the world as visible to the eyes paled into a No Thing.
    There is much that binds Plato with Leonardo's way of seeing. The first thing that strikes our eyes is the high value set upon mathematics which, as Plato grew older, seems to have risen more and more, so that at last he held that without knowledge of mathematics a being would be “unable to be a God, a demigod, or a hero for mankind“ (Laws, 818). Leonardo, as you may remember, held that the power of knowledge lay locked up in mathematics (I, p. 124). According to Plato mathematics “lead to truth,“ and “purify all that mechanism of the soul through which truth is seen“ — certainly that is so if it be premised that the Science should not be used as a mere trivial method of measurement and calculating, so that we should learn to understand “the value of calculation for reason itself.“ 144 Plato, who, so far as we know, never was distinguished as a practical calculator, has given us such profound reflections that we are at last beginning by degrees to grasp what marvellous power of creative intuition lay in these thoughts. For Plato speaks of a mathematical science in which the single quantities should not be capable of being added up together, and should be, moreover, even by itself, not

151 PLATO

divisible, which Aristotle declared to be the non plus ultra of senselessness; Plato, however, here not only clearly foreshadowed the possibility of Algebra, in which every number (indicated by a letter) remains an inviolable individual throughout the calculation, — but he seems to have aimed further at that form of mathematics which Leibniz required, and which is now at last beginning to arise, — mathematics not confined to the relations of quantities, but embracing all logic, that is to say, everything that is capable of being thought or observed in any codified order or sequence. 145 This is not the place for a closer consideration of this obscure subject; I can only refer you to Natorp's work, p. 419. It has only been my business to show the high value set upon mathematics by this thinker and his deep conception of its importance. The relationship with Leonardo, on the one hand, and Kant, on the other, is palpable.
    I see a further important symptom of the relationship with Leonardo in the wonderful and inexplicable instinct, — not always, but often, revealing itself, — for the significance of natural phenomena. It is, for example, striking that Plato recognised the brain as the organ of thought (Timaios, 73 et seq.), whereas Aristotle took up again the popular fallacy, and raised it to the dignity of the “scientific“ dogma, teaching that the heart is the seat of the feelings of the senses and of intelligence. Of course Plato was not the first to recognise the truth, 146 and it is improbable that he should have arrived at his view by direct observation; still, it remains in the highest degree remarkable, as an illustration of his peculiar gifts, that Plato, the idealist, instinctively chose the truth, whereas Aristotle, the dissector and empiricist, took up the vulgar fallacies of the superficial crowd. One single fact such as this seems to tear a veil from before our eyes, and teaches us what the eye of genius can achieve even in the interests of empiricism. Like Leonardo and Plato so also

152 PLATO

was Kant ahead of his times, to such an extent that to-day the eminent zoologist Gustav Wolff is compelled to exclaim: “Kant saw far more deeply into the facts of Biology than the Biology which is even now dominant.“ 147 Time will show.
    We shall go still deeper if from our present point of view we turn back to the end of the Leonardo lecture, where we saw the great man distinguishing between a Nature as mechanism, and a Nature as Idea, between compulsion and freedom; for we now understand that he too, though he may not have been critically conscious of it, is dealing with the recognition of a transcendental relation. In Leonardo's whole personality that harmony of entirely dissimilar (heterogeneous) ideas, which is quite inexplicable without critique, and which we studied above in the case of form and finality, is expressed in a living and startlingly convincing fashion. The mathematician, the mechanician, the inexorably strict imitator of Nature who tells his pupils that they must study and copy every spot of dirt on a wall, is at the same time the creator of the Monna Lisa, of the Christ! At first it is impossible to conceive how all this could co-exist; we talk of contradictions and the like; but we do not understand the personality until we see that the complex of qualities which made Leonardo into a pedantic measurer, an inventor of machines, an uncompromisingly strict master, arises from precisely the same fundamental ideas, the clear comprehension of which fitted him to give imperishable expression to feelings for which language is inadequate. These are no contradictions, and we must all feel that the expression “manysidedness“ does not suffice for so marvellous a phenomenon. No! it is the web that is wrought of warp and woof; it is when the elements of the two worlds, however different they may be in their essence, meet together in the centre of consciousness, that life arises. Everywhere, in every man, if only we

153 PLATO

chose to observe closely, we should be struck by this transcendental phenomenon, and everywhere in the first instance it would appear to us as an outrage, like the algebraic equation for the circle, like the teleological thought for the form that is seen, like the many-wheeled machine on the same sheet of paper with Leonardo's first sketch for the head of the Christ; and yet everywhere deeper reflection would show us that it is precisely in this identity of that which is different that the essence of the personality in question is rooted. Seldom, however, does this relation obtain such a monumental expression as in Leonardo, and that is why I commend this great personality as a subject for special study. I would urgently call attention to the remark in the second lecture that Goethe could not be so perfect an idealist as Leonardo, because he was not so consistent a mechanician.
    A matter of fundamental importance in considering the relations between Descartes' manner of seeing and that of Plato is naturally the sharp distinction between expansion and thought as Descartes calls it, or the visible and the thinkable, as Plato expresses himself. That is the whole story. And now that I am hurrying to a close, believing that throughout this lecture you will almost without interruption have felt the support of that upon Descartes, I will confine myself here to one single consideration. It is in the very keen distinction between understanding and sensibility that the common tendency towards schematising reveals itself. We have pointed to it in detail in Descartes, and made use of it as a guiding clue towards contriving schemes of our own. Plato has a special love for such geometrical schemes as those of which I have sketched several in the Descartes lecture. For instance, he delights in taking a line and dividing it into parts of equal length: the one is the Thinkable, the other the Visible: each of these parts he divides again into two pieces. This subdivision is always

154 PLATO

recurring, and would be clear enough if Plato in his living manner had not viewed the thing each time from a somewhat different standpoint, and had not despised taking pedantic pains about his terminology: in consequence of this it sometimes happens that the same words are used for different meanings, or different words to express the same meaning. But the great general sense is clear, and that is as much as we need here. The subject is a dry one, but its schemes are so instructive that I must devote a brief attention to it.
    Imagine, then, a perpendicular line: divide it into two equal lengths: the lower of the two is belief (πιστις), the upper is knowledge (επιστημη). Now divide these half lines once more and you will have four pieces. But here we reach more difficult ground, because Plato is too truthful a man to be contented with a dead scholastic scheme like those with which Bruno fills his Latin writings. The second division is more problematical to him than the first; for it is questionable at what point division is to take place, whether in the middle of the line, or higher up, or lower down: the boundary is a matter of doubt. Besides that, in each half-line, — in knowledge and in belief, — he only sees clearly one of the parts, while the other remains indefinite to his comprehension. Therefore we may say that we have before us the whole of human recognition as a perpendicular line, and see plainly that this line consists of two different separable parts; inside each of these half-lines a second division suggests itself to us, though we cannot at the first blush distinctly give the boundaries and significances of these subdivisions. Let us look into the matter more closely. In the case of each of these half-lines, — knowledge and belief, — it is the lower half which at first is the more stably formed. The lower half of belief, is the pure perception of the senses (αισθησις αλογος), the lower half of knowledge, is that form of Thinking which,

155 PLATO

although it leans toward sensibility, yet remains pure thought, comprising therefore all that holds the conceptions of the understanding, — causality, quantity, species, as well as logic and mathematics; (Plato calls it διανοια, which literally means “thinking through,“ therefore Thinking awakened and stimulated by the perception of the senses). That is the primary gift, the common possession of all mankind. As a secondary consideration there arises the upper half of these half-lines whose expansion differs individually: here all depends upon the power of perception, upon the power of Thinking, and of their relation to one another. For out of the reciprocal penetration of pure understanding and perception by the senses there are formed, on necessary and uncritical principles, acceptations or hypotheses, i.e. assumptions (about which the generality of mankind remains hazy), and from these hypotheses the mightier intellects are able to reach downwards into the upper half of the lower line, as well as upwards into the upper half of the upper line. 148 Indeed outside of simple belief there is a higher and a formative belief, what we now call empirical science, and by the side of simple, merely logical Thinking there is a higher Thinking creating ideas, — which gives birth to culture. If our view of nature as perceived is correct, then in our human simplicity we place these hypotheses which spring out of understanding and sensibility, as primary beginnings (αρχας), and descend step by step down into that domain which lies between pure understanding and pure sensibility, — into the domain of empirical science (δοξα), as Plato calls it, and it is this domain which constitutes the upper half of the lower half-line. But if we take our stand upon Sensibility Science and Thinking, as upon first steps, and use those hypotheses as spring-boards (επιβασις) then we reach upwards to that reason (νοησις) which creates ideas.

156 PLATO

    Here I draw the line as Plato himself describes it. But I would call attention once more to the fact that we have not to imagine a progression from below to above, — an evolution, — but that the first and third stages are given first and that out of these two the second arises; — finally, out of all three as its foundation, springs the uppermost stage.
Scheme    Doxa or Delusion corresponds in respect of relative position and function to Noesis, Reason. We may well, looking from a higher standpoint, call its knowledge a  delusion, for it is the essence of empiricism to be an intermediate form; and with this Plato gives utterance to exactly the same thing  that we asserted in the last lecture: Science is neither pure seeing nor pure reason. Its office, however, is of no less importance on that account. For all those things which float before us as phenomenon, εικασια, are situated in the centre, “they all wander about“ in the middle domain between Entity and Nonentity, “tossed about as in a storm“ and only Doxa, this science which has its origin in the primary acceptations of reason and is empirically obedient to thought is capable of seizing the phenomena, fixing them fast, and capturing them for the human intellect.
    It is clear how exactly this conception of science corresponds to that of Descartes and Kant: and if, on the one hand, we are over and over again reminded of Doxa as an intermediary, but, on the other hand, find many passages where the difference between Dianoia and Doxa is so laxly drawn that even Dianoia itself, — at any rate in a lower division — becomes uncertain and is equally conceived as an intermediate form, 149 — we shall, I think,

157 PLATO

receive the impression that Plato came very near to the conception of a middle domain acting as intermediary between the two halves of our recognition, and that he would have offered no objection to a schematic picture such as we endeavoured to sketch in the Descartes lecture (I, pp. 239, 281). I think, at any rate, that the diagram drawn below corresponds to Plato's views.

Diagram

Here we must not use the same words as we did above, for the analysis is not so refined; it tries to embrace more and to distinguish less: and moreover the boundaries are not so strictly defined. Besides which there is nothing in the diagram to show that only sensibility and understanding are there in the first instance, whereas Science and Reason are afterthoughts. Still I believe that that sort of comparative survey has its use, and makes us feel the organic inter-relationship between Plato, Descartes and Kant. 150
    There might be much to be said upon the subject of the points of relation between Plato and Bruno, but their complicated nature would require a very thorough analysis. How it comes about that the Neo-Platonists

158 PLATO

and the Monists rely upon the authority of Plato, and how far they are, and how far they are not, justified in so doing, would furnish matter enough for a critical work which, so far as I know, has not yet been written: for a study of Kant it would be unimportant. We will, therefore, confine ourselves to that clear distinction between dogmatic and critical philosophy which was laid down in the last lecture. And there we have, as I think, the great central fact, — the one which the most impresses itself upon the imagination, — that a man like Bruno, no matter what standpoint he takes up in this or in that book, whether he looks at the thing from near or from afar, always proceeds from a fixed and indisputable unity, as a result of which he also invariably arrives at a unity; whereas Plato and Kant, on the contrary, see everything as resulting from relations, that means out of variety, so that the least which can be accepted is a duality. If we were to go down to the foundation of the thing we should indeed discover that this duality — “the two stems of human recognition,“ as Kant calls them, — is only as it were a symbol for plurality, and is, first and foremost, a denial of the possibility of unity, though not a dogmatic pronouncement as to any fixed number; but these subtleties are really a matter of no consequence; and the only decisive point is and must be the question: is Recognition, is the World, is the Ego a unity? Can I and may I speak of them as something simple? Or do Recognition, the World, and the Ego arise out of relations, so that it is impossible for me ever to grasp these ideas in order to turn them round and round at my ease and speak of them judicially and dogmatically, because they are as it were optical points which I only see arise and disappear, without ever being able to get nearer to them, since they move with me and as I move? “In every human individual thou seest the universe,“ says Bruno. 151 This pronouncement has no thinkable meaning for Plato

159 PLATO

and Kant, unless it be spoken figuratively: for they in the first place recognise no simple conception which they could call an individual, and against which they could set a second simple conception, the universe: rather are universe and Ego two “ideas,“ and that means, as we know, forms of thought which arise in that nodus et vinculum mundi (I, p. 436) out of which the amoeba of consciousness stretches its feelers like rays. Universe and Ego can as a general proposition only be placed in relation to one another transcendentally, not materially: the one belongs to the hither side, the other to the opposite side. When Bruno then goes on with the assurance that universe and Ego are one and the same, Plato and Kant answer — this assertion is senseless, since it is of the essence of both these ideas to be different, and therefore it is impossible to say more than that these two ideas, the one belonging to the invisible, the other to the visible domain of Plato, have reference to the same phenomenon, just as fitness and form belong to the conception of Life, and so exactly correspond, without however being either logically or materially equals. This “identity“ — transcendentally discovered — would be something quite different from the material conception of Bruno ogni cosa è in ogni cosa (“every thing is in every thing“), and would only have that critical significance which was brought forward at the end of our Descartes lecture (I, pp. 305-6). If I say, “There is only one Thing, one Being, one Form; no phenomenon differs from another; there are no species, no numbers, no motion,“ 152 I simply annihilate the world, for the world consists of nothing but relations. And here we have the impossible error of all monistic philosophy, the belief that in the number One there lies a special significance, a special magic; whereas in the Parmenides (154 A) Plato shows with delightful irony that not even from the arithmetical point of view, as the reputed beginning and origin of numbers,

160 PLATO

does any greater significance attach to the number One than to any other number whatever. All these are cabalistic puerilities. On the other hand, we have now learnt that unity as a special idea first arises in Life and then is extended from Life, but only metaphorically, to those things which, inasmuch as they take part (methexis) in form or fitness, remind us of true unity. It is of the essence of unity that it presupposes plurality, — component parts: the idea unity denotes those things which are composed of parts: (pp. 90, 97 seq.) Unity therefore means also plurality. But it bears that meaning not only in itself, but also outside of itself. Not only does Life arise out of Life, so that as true unity it possesses as its monopoly the power to produce plurality, but Life also only arises with Life. A single living Being is an impossibility, and for that reason moreover the conception of the whole universe as a living formation is a monstrous, thoroughly unscientific, impossible thought. 153 It becomes daily more evident how all Life is dependent, — compulsorily dependent, — upon Life. Upon this is based one of the annihilating arguments against the modern theory of descent. The vegetable world and the animal world are indissolubly bound up together; and we know now that the multicellular plants and animals cannot live without the unicellular, and that in the case of the majority of the latter the converse equally holds good. Not only then may one ask oneself why in the colossal evolution which is supposed to have been taking place unceasingly for aeons there should still be a thousand millions or more unicellular beings for every single multicellular being, but one also asks how it is even possible to imagine a universal progressive development (development in opposition to a progressive shifting of forms) since it must inevitably result in the extermination of all Life. If then Life is for us the one and only source and cause of the idea of “unity,“ then Bruno's definition of an unità

161 PLATO

assoluta senza spezie alcune (“an absolute unity without any species“) is utterly empty, a mere creation of abstraction, but as contrasted with truth an impossible and illogical nonentity. How could men of genius fall into such extravagances? It is because they had no conception of the transcendental connection of our recognition which arises out of different “stems,“ and so fell into the delusion of being able to arrive at the Whole by means of one of the two parts. Abstract Monism and materialistic Monism both rest upon fundamental one-sidedness: true conscious recognition only arises when criticism has called our attention to the double character of our consciousness; then we at last perceive that all experience without exception contains transcendental elements bound up in it; to confine ourselves fundamentally to the one, while arbitrarily ignoring the other, or arbitrarily referring the one to the other, is a crippling of our intellects.
    And so now we come back to Kant. Yet a cursory recapitulation of the relations between him and Plato would be out of place here. As I remarked at the beginning, everything which we have undertaken to-day in the interest of the understanding of Plato's intellectual personality is directly applicable to Kant in so far as the creative fundamental method of thinking is common to both men; besides that many suggestions and combinations have made us feel the living connection. It would be a question of a more intimate comparison of the intellectual dispositions of the two personalities; for not only is “the introduction to Plato the education for Philosophy,“ as Natorp rightly observes, 154 but more specially in the case of Kant it is perhaps as a general proposition impossible to reach him otherwise than through Plato. Plato is the indispensable first step, because (as I indicated at the beginning of this lecture, and have tried to work out plastically by the comparison

162 PLATO

of the two personalities), in him all that is positive, affirmative, and therefore, more sure, clearer, more easily grasped even if it should be rasher and more paradoxical, forces itself into view, — whereas Kant's negative method, his reserve, his prudence, his inexorably strict schoolmanship surrounds almost everything that issues from his pen with a quadruple fortification of inaccessibility. The attempt to take this last step, from Plato to Kant, will now be the object and aim of our next and last lecture. Just as the Leonardo lecture was almost a direct continuation of that on Goethe, so the lecture on Kant will be coupled with that on Plato.
    I should wish, however, as the quintessence of what we have learnt, once more to insist upon the two following recognitions of Plato and Kant, for which we have fought in every lecture from the very beginning; for in them is mirrored as effect what as cause gives the incomparable personal colour to the intellect of the two men: first human recognition has its origin in two perceptibly distinctive sources, — these taken together give us the “matter“ of recognition, that is to say, therefore, that which is recognised: secondly, true recognition, i.e. conscious conception, does not arise without the addition of a third, not material but formal, element as to which we can never determine how far it is cause and how far it is effect. 155
    Whether we call these two fountain-heads Visible and Thinkable with Plato, or Sensibility and Understanding with Kant, is immaterial, at any rate for us here who are not dabbling in philosophy, but only seeking to appreciate personalities. The only important matter is that this conception of Duality should reach you clothed in flesh and blood, for that is the only antidote against the misleading poison of monism and the slaves' fetters of ecclesiastical dogmas; once renounce this conviction and all true critique of human recognition, and conse-

163 PLATO

quently all metaphysics resting upon the critical foundation of experience become impossible. It is far more difficult to clear up the relations in respect of the mysterious “third.“ For to-day it must suffice if I have succeeded in giving you a more or less lively conception of what Plato understood by “ideas“; there you will see the “third“ in full activity. In order to make matters clear we may make use of the following expression; under the word idea we understand a necessary method of all human thinking — not a thing which we can grasp with our hands any more than with abstract reason, but least of all with any hocus-pocus of inspiration, fourth dimension, and the like. Ideas are in a certain respect the counterpart of mathematics; their value is both instructive and constructive. That Plato and Kant do not conceive material things under the word ideas has been generally, but not universally, understood: but that a hypostatising of ideas, the creation of a special “world of ideas,“ could be nothing but materialisation in disguise has been quite universally ignored from Aristotle's time until now, because the critical fundamental insight has been lacking. We must not make ideas out of Plato's ideas, was one of Kant's keen remarks; 156 that is, however, exactly what we do, whether it be in order to accept them credulously or to reject them with ridicule.
    Plato and Kant, however, were practical men: they only dealt with philosophy in order to be free of it:
their interest lay in morals, in the building up of society, in the cultural accomplishment of man. And that is why, when their critical work is at an end, they turn to construction: the critique of recognition is premised, but not dragged in everywhere; the ideas come last, precisely because these men decline to be dogmatists — they come last because they absolutely refuse to penetrate into the dream-land which lies on the other side of ideas. That is why Plato in his great cosmological fiction,

164 PLATO

the Timaios, introduces Idea as the father, and phenomenon as the son, with many other similar hyperbolisms to the significance of which as parables he is continually pointing, and over the extravagance of which he, as occasion serves, laughs with a delightful irony directed against himself (Rep. 509 C). Kant behaves in the same way: at his hands the doctrine of ideas suffered a reduction which many may deplore, while it at the same time acquired a deeper import, and he teaches us to distinguish between that which is extravagant in theoretical use (“extravagant“ exactly corresponds to Plato's υπερβολη) and that which in the interest of practical life, is to be held fast as “a principle of conduct.“ 157 Here, as all experience has shown, the great danger arises. Since we ordinary mortals, with our perverse inclination towards monistic conceptions, do not choose to understand that for all scientific critique and all idealism, the dualism which experience has given us must serve as foundation, — so we also fail to understand that there is an unbridgeable gulf yawning between theoretical recognition and practical commandment, and rather than understand that we sacrifice the one or the other, and become either dogmatists of reason or nihilists of Duty.
    We shall hear more of this in the next lecture: I offer this much as a mere hint, and in order, upon this point, to effect a breach in the old fortifications of lies. We will wind up with one of those master-sayings of Goethe with which that grand man conjures up whole solar systems for the illumination of worlds shrouded in night.
    Goethe, who from the very outset was not gifted with that special aptitude for analysis which distinguished Plato and Kant, and who moreover had been spoilt for metaphysics by his early intercourse with Spinoza, who operated as a steriliser in this respect, — Goethe was equipped with another faculty which was proof against all modern cabbala, and which I have been bold enough

165 PLATO

to call inverted or topsy-turvy criticism. To that we owe a saying which Goethe intended only to refer to the investigation of nature and of those forms in nature which can be realised by the senses, but which at the same time in the shape of an aphorism lends a creative expression to the critical thought of Plato and Kant, and to the inseparable conception of “idea“ which springs from it. Goethe says, “the highest (result) would be to understand that all, that everything real, is indeed theory. Let no man search behind the phenomena: they themselves are the lesson.“ 158 If you take the pains to reflect upon this saying you cannot fail to understand Plato and Kant in the pith and core of their doctrine of ideas, a doctrine so difficult to put into words and therefore possessing the attractiveness of a secret; for what Goethe utters here with a simply concrete intention, describes exactly what those men strove to express of human recognition in general as the result of their critical efforts. Plato says the same when in his wise old-fashioned way he writes: “The Nous (that is to say, reason which forms ideas) is related to cause“ (Philebos, 31 A), that means therefore, man does not create facts, but he clothes them in form, and is to that extent “related to cause,“ for which reason Goethe, who sees the same thing though he looks in the opposite direction, is compelled to recognise the fact that “all that is fact is theory.“ And now for Kant. True to his negative predisposition he puts the same view into words which must seem like a riddle to those who have no previous training: “Our idea is a problem which allows of no solution and which we yet stiff-neckedly accept as if there were a real object corresponding to it.“ Idea a problem! an insoluble problem! That was why Goethe in the passage quoted added the caution against seeking behind the phenomena. That is a concrete utterance: the critique of recognition which has followed the reverse road, inasmuch as it takes the

166 PLATO

phenomenon as its starting-point, in order from thence to travel inwards says: “Let no man search behind the ideas,“ and that saying proves that it is undogmatic and anti-dogmatic. Whoso, on the contrary, seeks for something further, either behind understanding and sensibility (that is behind the phenomena) or again behind reason and its ideas, leaves the terra firma of experience: he invents therefore, and dogmatises: he behaves uncritically, and sets himself in opposition to the maxims of Plato and of Kant.
    And so out of the motto which I prefixed to this lecture, and the final quotation from Goethe, we will make up a double apophthegm to sum up all that we have been learning to-day. “From the Gods a gift to the human race; thus should I reckon the gift of seeing the one in the many,“ — thus spake Plato, and Goethe's saying translated into Plato's world of conception, and into the language of Kant would be, “The highest would be to understand that all phenomenon is indeed Idea.“ To see the one in the many: that is the work of Idea; to be a man, means to possess the power of forming ideas: that is the gift of the Gods.


Last update August 14th, 2014

Back to main page
Previous chapter: Bruno
Next chapter: Kant