You Shall Be
Main Traits of a
By Alexander Müller. M.D.
Translated by Sophia de Vries, Ph.D. and Elske Soghikian
Edited by James J. Wolf, M.S., MFCC and Henry T. Stein, Ph.D.
Published by The Classical Adlerian Translation Project
© 1992 by Henry T. Stein, Ph.D.
All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the editor. All inquiries should be addressed to: Henry T. Stein, Ph.D., Classical Adlerian Translation Project, 2565 Mayflower Lane, Bellingham, WA 98226. Tel: (360) 647-5670 or e-mail to HTStein@att.net. Copies may be ordered online at http://www.Adlerian,us/muellera.htm.
First published 1992. Revised and re-printed 2002. Revised and re-printed 2003.
Printed in the United States of America
Original Title: Du sollst ein Segen sein
Grundzüge eines religiösen Humanismus
von Dr. Alexander Müller
Verlag Gerber - Buchdruck Schwartzenburg
Lebensprobleme der Gegenwart
Medizinisch - sociale Bibliothek für Jedermann
Herausgegeben von Dozent Dr. St. Zurukzoglu, Bern, 1954
Uncovering a buried literary treasure may reveal a document that seems to have been written for our time. Forty years ago Alexander Müller addressed the philosophical, psychological, and spiritual issues of his time, putting them into historical perspective in his book Du sollst ein Segen sein. Thirteen years ago, Sophia de Vries, who had been a co-worker of Dr. Müller, began a precise, literal translation of the German edition. Two years later, her daughter Elske Soghikian started a re-write of her mother's literal translation. About the same time Jim Wolf, a Classical Adlerian psychotherapist, offered editing assistance. Together, we have studied the manuscript in depth and have reached the conclusion that Müller's words have significant relevance to the present state of our world.
In an address to the National Education Association in 1991, Norman Lear, an American television writer and producer, outlined his analysis of the "decline of the American culture." He decried the predominance of greed, and the lack of spirituality, connectedness, morality, and responsibility in both politics and business. He emphasized that we have become a nation of "consumers" instead of "citizens," whose moral values are shaped primarily by corporate leaders. Comparing our dilemma to the decline of the Roman empire, he identified a common denominator--an absence of spiritual values, or a "barbarization from within." He appealed to educators to reconsider priorities in the classroom and recognize that without the balance of spiritual development, we are training only ambitious, selfish, careerists who will mutually exploit each other and our planet.
Our culture does seem to perpetuate economic exploitation, personal prestige, power politics, and indifference to human suffering. Morals are often considered archaic inconveniences and compassion a rare quality. Children are usually asked, "What occupation do you want to pursue when you grow up?" Rarely are they asked, "What kind of person do you want to become?" Financial success, fame, and luxury are touted as the magic pathways to security, significance, and happiness.
Superficiality, homogenization, "flash," and greed are spreading like viruses in our culture. The root of this disease is a belief in doing as little as possible to get as much as possible. The cure is an infusion of higher values into parenting, education, business, relationships, and government--all aspects of everyday living.
After World War I, Alfred Adler, an Austrian psychiatrist, suggested that the solution of society's major problems depended on the development of "Gemeinshaftsgefühl" (a deep feeling of interconnectedness with all of life, and an active role in improving the quality of life for all of mankind) in every child and adult. He developed educational and therapeutic methods to fully realize this goal. Alexander Müller, one of his closest associates, enhanced Adler's teachings by elaborating their philosophical and spiritual implications.
Müller's religious humanism will appeal to individuals who yearn for personal philosophical benchmarks and spiritual fulfillment--individuals who are willing to question the meaning of life and draw their own conclusions.
The reader may not agree with Müller's linking of the psychological, philosophical, and spiritual domains, or his views about the different natures of men and women. We will neither defend nor criticize his opinions, but simply present them as he intended them to be expressed. Some readers may find the style and content a little difficult to digest at first, particularly if they are not accustomed to reading philosophical works. Müller's writing style is complex. We have attempted to clarify his ideas without simplifying them or losing the flavor of his uniqueness. Since many of his references are not well known in this country, a brief overview is offered in the Reference Guide. Although the original citation and reference formats deviate from contemporary publishing practices in the United States, the editors decided to retain Müller's style. The word "shall" in the title was eventually chosen over "must," "will," and "shalt," after discussing the various connotations of these words in different versions of the Bible (Genesis XII, 2).
Müller's power to inspire was considerable. Those who knew him could feel the gentle, loving encouragement and practical wisdom that marked him as a true Classical Adlerian. He lived the Adlerian philosophy of Gemeinshaftsgefühl, and provided the role model that Adler demanded from a therapist.
Shortly before his death, Müller predicted that Adler would have to be rediscovered "from the roots up" by a future generation. We are that generation, and we desperately need Adler's remedy for the personal and social mistakes that plague us. Alexander Müller provides us with a fresh infusion of inspiration and philosophical depth that has been largely absent from Adlerian literature since the publication of Adler's original works.
We encourage the reader to study and savor Müller's ideas. They have given us constant inspiration and challenge. Future volumes of The Collected Works of Alexander Müller will feature new translations of his philosophical and psychological writings as well as his unpublished lectures.
Henry T. Stein, Ph.D., Director Classical Adlerian Translation Project March, 2003
Biographical Sketch of Alexander Müller
Alexander Müller was born in Kormorn, Hungary on May 6, 1895 into a traditional Jewish family. He grew up and went to school in Hungary and later began studying medicine in Vienna. These studies were interrupted in 1916 by World War I when he became a soldier and prisoner of war in Russia for four years.
After the war Alexander Müller returned to Vienna and became a student and co-worker of Alfred Adler. He helped with the organization of child guidance centers and was active in therapy, teaching, lecturing, and the training of therapists.
In 1927 he married Klari Newmann. When the National Socialist Party increased in power, the couple decided to emigrate. They tried settling in Italy, France and Belgium until they eventually found shelter in Amsterdam. Here Dr. Müller founded an Individual Psychology group.
During World War II when the Germans invaded Holland, Dr. Müller and his wife went back to Hungary and eventually were interned in a concentration camp. When that war was over, he and his wife returned to Holland until 1952 when he accepted a position in Zurich as lecturer for Individual Psychology at the Institute for Applied Psychology.
Dr. Müller became Director of the Swiss Society of Individual Psychology, and served as the First Secretary of the International Association of Adlerian Psychology from 1954 to 1957. He retired in 1961 to write a text-book for Individual Psychology. Seriously ill, he did not finish this work. He continued as Director of the Swiss Society and First Secretary of the International Association for Individual Psychology until his death in 1968, in Zurich, at the age of 73.
Edith Hass, a close friend and editor of his last book, offers an inspiring overview of Müller's character and ability to find meaning in adversity:
Two events have marked him, as it has so many of his generation: the First World War, and being a prisoner of war. This forced him to live in the face of constant danger and death. The manner in which he accepted his later fate, how he conducted his life, in spite of everything, and his understanding love for people -- all this was based on those earlier experiences, and a source of strength for many. He did not survive these unimaginable physical and spiritual human degradations broken, and deeply wounded, but rather wiser, stricter and more demanding. Those demands were not only directed to himself, but also to others.
Edith Graber, a student and close friend, wrote about his attitude toward the final life task, meeting death:
Dr. Müller was a man who lived what he taught. He had an unusual degree of kindness and wisdom. His understanding of the human soul was tied in with his demands upon others and himself: for him to be human meant to be subject to demands. In the last months of his life, after the death of his wife who had been his life's companion for many decades, he became for us an example to emulate. At that time he endured an illness not only with courage, but even, one might say, with a quiet cheerfulness. Many years earlier he had said: 'Man must not only cope with three life tasks, there is also a fourth: the meeting of death.' None of us who knew him will forget how indeed he mastered this fourth life task.
Elske Soghikian recalls him fondly: "The most striking thing about Dr. Alexander Müller was perhaps his eyes: cool, black and penetrating, set in an almost sweet face full of freckles, and showing dimples when he smiled. His inner depth and beauty as a human being would come through radiantly."
Sophia de Vries, Ph.D., (1901-1999) a Classical Adlerian psychotherapist with over fifty years of clinical experience, created a precise, literal translation from the German original. A Dutch edition was also used for difficult passages. Her qualifications were impeccable. A co-worker and friend of Müller for many years, she had studied with Alfred Adler and Lydia Sicher. Many of her original notes from Müller's lectures were available. Being fluent in English, German, and Dutch was a great asset.
Elske Soghikian, her daughter, was a close friend of Dr. Müller and his wife, Klari. A retired nurse, she is also fluent in English, German, and Dutch. Her dedication, patience, and persistence led to the second stage re-write. Without her insights into Müller's thinking and personality, his profound ideas and unique style of expression would not have translated into a faithful and highly readable English text.
James J. Wolf, M.S., MFCC, is a certified Classical Adlerian psychotherapist who was trained at the Alfred Adler Institute of San Francisco. His deep interest in theology and history, as well as a solid knowledge of Adlerian theory, philosophy, and practice, combined to give him an exceptional affinity for the essence of Müller's thought. His consulting, editing, and research contributions were considerable.
Henry T. Stein, Ph.D., Director of the Alfred Adler Institutes of San Francisco and Northwestern Washington, is a Classical Adlerian psychotherapist and training analyst. He was trained by Sophia de Vries and had been her coworker for over twenty years. As a general editor and publisher, he is spearheading a task force to publish the complete works of Alfred Adler, Alexander Müller, Sophia de Vries, Anthony Brück, and other Classical Adlerian authors.
Martha E. Edwards, Ph.D., made a significant contribution using her precise and logical editing skill to unravel many complex and difficult passages. Adele Davidson, Ed.D., provided a scholarly final edit. Jennifer Wanner, M.A., assisted with research and the biographical sketch of Müller. Dyanne Pienkowski, M.S., and Tom Clark, M.A., also offered editing and critical reading. Walter O'Connell, Ph.D., Edith Graber, and Gerda Lerna, Ph.D., sent us biographical material. We thank them all for their generous professional cooperation and support.
Resources for Additional Study
The reader who is not intimately familiar with Adlerian psychology will find three new, helpful articles in the appendix. “Classical Adlerian Theory and Practice” (Appendix A) offers a broad overview of Alfred Adler’s core constructs and the principles of psychotherapy. “A Psychology for Democracy” (Appendix B) provides a perspective on the current social relevance of Adler’s philosophical, psychological, and educational contributions. “Philosophical Implications of Adlerian Psychology” (Appendix C) comments on the connections of Müller’s ideas of social interest and responsibility, as well as vigorous questioning, to Adlerian psychotherapy.
For an amplification of Adler’s views on religion, read “Religion and Individual Psychology,” pages 271-308, in Superiority and Social Interest, edited by Heinz and Rowena Ansbacher. An additional Adlerian perspective on religion may be found on pages 166-167 in The Collected Works of Lydia Sicher: An Adlerian Perspective, edited by Adele Davidson.
Two of Adler’s quotes from an unpublished manuscript titled The General System of Individual Psychology at the Classical Adlerian Translation Project Archives are included below:
You can use every religion for good and for bad because religion can be used to elevate a person or it can make him a failure, for unfortunately all the best ideas can be abused. Therefore, we cannot generally say this religion or that religion is not right. What is of importance always is the use of a certain religion.
In the past social interest always had to be taught in religion. All religions were based on the idea of social interest--"Love they neighbor". In our time it is possible that some people doubt it, that someone may say, "Why should I love my neighbor?" You see, there is a possibility of discussing social interest up to the present day, but later, sometime in the future mankind will not discuss it anymore, because it will have become natural, it will emanate automatically, it will have been made living, and the distress and the miseries of our time, or war, of unemployment, for instance, will not be possible anymore. All the wars, sufferings, and pains of mankind will have disappeared when mankind has once arrived at this level where social interest is no longer a question.
Paradox of the XIX Century
According to Benedette Croce, the Renaissance and the Reformation are not historical events that happen only once in the lives of certain people, but they are permanently polarized working tendencies in the soul of every human being. Once in a while, we trust our own strength and want to be master over our lives, at other times awareness of our weakness is dominant and we feel the power of a higher strength above us. In the same way, extravert and introvert are not characteristics of different individuals, but are tendencies present in every individual soul. Sometimes one, sometimes the other is dominant, though in some cases one of the two remains constantly dominant. Sometimes we turn to the world; sometimes we turn away from it and more to ourselves.
One can recognize this duality in the history of Europe, especially from one political-cultural decline to another in a different era, sometimes easily recognizable and at other times not so clear. For example, the Greeks showed the greatest interest in the stirrings of the human soul and in the essence of things. Art and science were the main manifestations of their soul. Added to these was their interest in the affairs of state and politics. In contrast to this, the Romans manifested a lifestyle of ruling over the environment, of leading and governing the surrounding world and superimposing their own form of life on others. After the fall of the Roman empire, Europe sank into chaos. At the beginning of the Middle Ages, Rome's management did not function anymore and, at the same time, the feeling of security disappeared. In this situation of physical and psychological weakness, there was hardly another way open for Europe than to turn away from the outside world and to seek support in faith. But as the chaos subsided, as the constant dangers in life diminished, separate communities and municipalities in many places became stronger, and interest in the outside world awakened again. As this occurred in the second half of the Middle Ages, there was a revival of secular life. One can see the era of the crusades as an important transition period in which a still inwardly directed, but already strengthened mankind became more outwardly directed.
The roots of the Renaissance reach far back. During this period man attempted to trust his own strength. Renaissance man turned to worldly life and tried to possess this world. The content of his life was no longer the preparation for the hereafter: he also wanted to live in the here and now, to use his strengths to enjoy and to create. Art and science, simultaneously with political interest, had a great revival in all aspects of human life and influenced everything. But man did not succeed in establishing unity between the deeper meanings of the Renaissance. He failed to bring the Christian contemplation of inner life and the anticipation of the hereafter in harmony with life on earth. The Christian aversion to worldliness was rooted so deeply in man of this epoch that he could not abandon it or overcome it. What resulted was the Reformation.
The Reformation, by itself, was a movement toward inner life, an attempt to return to the inner comfort of Christianity. It was an effort to try once more to reach an inner approach to Christianity and to fight against the existing heathen tendencies that prevailed in Rome. Even though the focus had turned inward, man's confidence in his own strength has never been completely lost again. The awe of supernatural and natural powers, which he had previously felt as absolute determining forces, could no longer prevent man from trying over and over again to form his life with his own spiritual strength. One of the conditions of the Reformation was that the authority of the church was not so great any more that one could not have acted against it. This independence of man's inner life also underlined Humanism, a concurrent movement in which interest in man and his capabilities was primary. Humanism originally had a friendly orientation toward the church.
In the sixteenth century, critical times occurred in Europe: the failure and disappearance of Humanism, the counter-Reformation and religious wars. Regardless of all these, individual and spiritual freedom continued as values and goals of the people of Europe, and could no longer be suppressed. While the governing classes became more and more worldly and became the strongest advocates of pleasure as a goal in life, the encyclopedists and the advocates of reason prepared the great happening of Europe: the French Revolution. Material, social, political, and especially spiritual factors all promoted that man was no longer willing to accept pressure and dictation by the powers that be.
The French Revolution was Europe's entrance into the 19th century, the century that left us its mentality as an inheritance we can barely assimilate.
The fundamental psychological-spiritual approach in the 19th century is characterized by a tragic paradox. This paradox also constitutes the inner essence of the nineteenth century. According to Benedette Croce, the history of Europe at that time is the history of its freedom wars. In his book, The History of Europe in the Nineteenth Century, Croce emphasizes mainly the struggle of European people for their political freedom. Actually the nineteenth century was dominated in every respect by the ideal of freedom. The ideal of people, of classes, of individuals was freedom in political and economic, as well as in spiritual realms. Science, art, even religious expression demanded freedom from any dictation and guardianship.
All this striving resulted in the proclamation of individual freedom. Nobody may hinder the individual in developing his personal life; no outside power may stand above the individual or put him in bondage. This freedom led to individualism and maximum individual freedom, and developed so strongly toward ambition for power that man not only refused to accept an outside power, he also refused to accept a higher power. This is one of the deepest psychological causes of European atheism. In striving towards absolute freedom, one did not tolerate anything that could end freedom. According to Werner Sombart, it wasn't the weak "scientific" arguments that undermined religious feelings and belief in God of European people, but the striving toward absolute independence. It is as if man said, "As long as there is something above me, I am not free; thus there can be no God." Nietzsche said, "If there were gods, how could I tolerate that I am not a god?" This provided enough argument against the existence of God. Anything that proved the existence of God, one did not see because one did not want to see it.
Along with striving for freedom, the nineteenth century was characterized by the simultaneous development of economics, technology, and the natural sciences. By itself, the dominating role of economics points to the importance people gave to the world and life. This attitude still became strengthened by the one-sided development of the sciences. Disappointment in the "speculative" sciences, especially philosophy and economics, promoted the one-sided development of the natural sciences. Only those sciences which could show practical use or could be applied in a practical way had a possibility to develop. Natural sciences and ambition for power proved to be good companions. Freedom, individualism, and striving for power were the phases of man's development in the nineteenth century. The discoveries in the natural sciences were extremely useful to rule the earth and to organize this supremacy. The other sciences were condemned to vegetate; their representatives were barely able to exist.
Natural science, however, has a very important, but insufficiently recognized shadow side. Its methodology is to weigh and to count; its goal, aside from description of phenomena, is to explain cause and effect. Exactly because of this, everything that cannot be weighed or counted, falls out of the focus of its interest. What cannot be proven by experiment is not true for science. What cannot be explained by cause and effect, cannot be explained and cannot be weighed and cannot be a subject for science---does not exist for science. Nobody denies the enormous achievements of experimental natural science, and its accomplishments in understanding nature and in developing uses of natural powers. There was no mistake here. But it was wrong to believe that natural science could research everything, and that everything it could not analyze was not worthwhile or did not exist. Scientific research has been forced upon things and living creatures, especially on the qualities of their essence which cannot be known by this method. At the same time, science denies the importance or existence of these qualities which it cannot investigate or understand.
What happened with mankind during this period of natural sciences? Man came to believe that everything has a cause, that everything must have a cause. Therefore, every phenomenon of man, everything in his line of conduct must have its determining causes, unequivocally. Man also started looking for causes.
He who seeks will find. Werner Sombart calls the nineteenth century "the dark century in which we have forgotten everything that people knew for centuries." In reality, this epoch understood man less and less, but could explain him and all his behavior. In the hands of the researchers, man himself, his personality, disappeared at the same time. The nineteenth century was the century of the "disguised personality" (Fritz Künkel). At the same time, the number of theories increased which tried to explain human behavior on a strictly scientific basis. These theories succeeded according to the researchers' own opinions.
The laws of heredity and theories of aptitude which were developed at this time reduced the explanation of man to predispositions and inherited gifts. Whatever man does or how he acts can be explained as a result of "his nature or his aptitude." This was the quickly adopted, unusually popular scientific explanation for motivation. There were many other scientific explanations of cause and effect. Historical materialism, for example, reduced everything to economic factors: being, namely material being, determines consciousness; mind is only conditioned by social circumstances, which cover ideology. According to the physiologist Voigt: "Man is what he eats." Psychoanalysis, which began around the turn of the century, taught the supremacy of drives. According to Freud, mind is not primary, and everything spiritual results only as a sublimation of drives. According to the teachings of inner secretion, character, and for a large part also the fate of man, are determined by the type and intensity of his inner secretion, by the harmony or disharmony of his hormones. Many of these ideas have culminated in theories about race. In these theories, the ways and manners of an individual depend on his race.
Two phenomena are especially important in all this. All the aforementioned dogmas and theories were presented as exact laws and theories of natural science. The general public, however, found nothing unusual or amazing in the fact that the same unfailing sciences could reduce the behavior of man to another group of contradictory causes and factors in a few decades. For every specific theory counted only the cause it had found. Also, the scientists were not surprised to find how quickly these new theories were accepted by the public which usually is so slow in understanding and accepting new theories and ideas. Looking back at this from the present, it seems as if it was not the convincing strength of the truth that actually influenced the public, and that in reality, science or scientific truth did not matter in this regard.
Werner Sombart really finds it surprising how eagerly people have read and accepted the theories about man's descent from the ape. Is there a reason to take such great pleasure and pride in the theory that we descended from apes? According to Sombart's opinion, the explanation for this phenomenon is the desire for freedom in the nineteenth century. If a God existed, man would not be completely free or independent anymore. However, if the higher creatures originated from the lower ones, there really could be no God; in any case, he is not necessary any longer to explain our existence. The theories about the descent of man made God superfluous.
The heredity theory, as well as the theory of aptitude, became popular very quickly. They proclaimed that "all physical qualities and character traits as well as the spiritual abilities and achievements of man are unequivocally determined by heredity and aptitude." Is this not an extremely easy concept? For instance, if a child could not do arithmetic well, the cause lay only in the fact that somewhere someone in his family also had no talent for it. Nobody could do anything about it or tried to do anything about it. Neither the child, parents, nor teacher was responsible. The cause of all qualities and the existence of observable or non-observable abilities was unequivocally clear: whatever one did or did not do, whatever he knew or did not know, happened because of his aptitude. He could not be otherwise.
All these theories, no matter how different they seem at first, can be brought back to a common denominator. This common denominator is the concept that man is not a subject but an object, not a maker of his actions, but a passive object of what happens to him. Environmental and biological factors are the sole determinants of the manner and direction of our line of conduct. Consequently, this means that man is not free and not responsible. A being whose conduct is determined is not free in his action, and also not responsible.
We cannot avoid having to choose between two concepts that largely determine our view of mankind. Is man predestined or is he free to choose? How does man of the new century answer this question? On the one hand he wanted absolute freedom, on the other, he believed he knew because of diverse theories that every behavior of man, every expression of his being, was predetermined. This paradoxical interpretation of man is a typical characteristic of the turn of the century. This looks like an impossibility: how can a being who is predestined and tied down in every aspect be free? This seems only to be an apparent contradiction because the freedom nineteenth century man meant was the freedom from external forces. Man did not want to tolerate dominance by other men or institutions, and he searched eagerly for predetermined powers beyond and within himself. Man wanted to be independent without any power next to him or over him, independent from everything but determined by something. At the turn of the century, man saw himself and wanted to see himself as follows: "Man is a creature who strives for independence, but what he does in his independence does not depend on him anymore, but on the factors that determine him. Independent from others and everything, but not responsible."
Thus man at the turn of the century was completely isolated, centered only on himself. He existed without metaphysical connection. In the battle for his existence he also experienced that he could not count on anybody, but could only rely on his own strength and capabilities. He experienced life as a battle in which the strongest triumphs; there are no fellowmen, only rivals. Forsaken by God and man, he stood alone and there was no alternative for him other than to become an egotist whose only goal in life was to exist and, if possible, to participate in the joys of life. His world concept was that there was no higher value than life itself. Life had no deeper meaning or goal than life itself with its vital pleasures. For this goal one had to supply the necessary funds, if necessary without regard for others. The result was a battle of all against all. Unbelief, egotism, materialism and exaggerated individual freedom and irresponsibility created the psyche of European man around the turn of the century. This psyche was characterized by absolute amorality. The Nineteenth Century finished without morality, but this lack of any moral foundation became clear only in the twentieth century.
In the beginning of the Twentieth Century, it still seemed as if European man would follow certain humanistic ideals and moral standards. As if next to written laws, there were unwritten moral rules which Europe tended to accept as binding. But during World War I, it became clear that European man did not subscribe to the laws or morals, but only had respect for the power behind the law. As soon as the strength of this power diminished it became clear that we had not only became immoral but amoral.
The immoral person makes himself independent from a specific moral: he does not accept certain moral precepts as a commitment. But a certain moral exists for him which he avoids, and against which he acts. He still has a relation to that moral. The amoral person, however, does not recognize any moral measure; for him there exists no violation of morals, because the concept of morality does not mean anything to him. For him there is only life. And to live a good life is his only endeavor, because to live a good life is the only meaning of life. In this view of life, whoever succeeds in this is clever, while people who aren't clever are not capable of dealing with life, because life is a "battle for existence."
The Question of "From Where” and "Whereto"
Man is a creation. He does not exist through himself; he does not create himself. He is put on earth. He also does not exist through himself, but through the forces within him, with which he is endowed. In the same way, his talents and potentials do not stem from him, but from his origin; they are originally present in him.
The determining question now is: Are the forces through which man is put on earth blind forces or knowing forces? Only the answer to this question can really allow us to query the meaning of life.
If man comes into existence through blind forces as an accidental product, so to speak, then he himself, that is, what he does and what happens to him, is without importance. In this case, he would not amount to anything, he could not carry a purpose within himself. That is to say, the question about the meaning of being a human would not be admissible, because to attach meaning is identical with the questions: What does existence mean, and what may be meant by it? Blind forces, however, cannot mean anything, or else they are not blind. On the other hand, if man comes into existence by knowing forces and is the product of careful planning, then something is meant with him. Something is foreseen or aimed at that would be established in him, so to speak, and which under favorable circumstances would be noticeable in him. What evidence do we have that man was put on this earth as a result of blind or knowing forces?
First, the living organism is such a meaningfully constructed and functioning artwork, that the possibility of it having come into existence without any plan, through pure chance is nil. Except for the psychological aspects in the observer himself, there are no meaningful arguments for the supposition that human or animal organisms would have formed from atoms and molecules, which function completely by chance, and thus not differently, and which are related to one another in a specific biological way and have no other relationship. However, everything speaks in favorof living beings, with their morphological structure as well as their psychological and intellectual strengths and capacities, as the result of a well planned creation. In any case, we must become clearly aware of and emphasize the following: experimental or natural scientific proof does not exist for either of the two hypotheses (and also cannot be found). That man would be the product of blind powers is just as strictly scientific as the supposition that he is created by knowing powers. But for the first hypothesis nothing counts. The second hypothesis cannot be proven by experiment and cannot be experienced, but man's intellect may often accept this hypothesis and raise no question against it.
When we consider man as a product of a knowing creation with foresight, then this is fundamentally and basically the answer to the question, "Why and for what purpose?" Because if man has not evolved accidentally, in other words, through blind forces, and also not through the playful mood of a power, but has been created according to a plan, then the next question is: What is meant with him? When something is created with a plan, then there is a thought, an intent.
If the origin of man is a planned creation, then the question, "For what goal does man exist?", cannot be answered arbitrarily anymore, but only in connection with creation as his source. Awareness of creation is the proof, based on insight and conscious acceptance, that man is the product of a planning creation and that something is meant with him. Creative awareness also raises the question of purpose: man exists in order to realize what is meant with him. However, he does not have this "absolute truth." Thus, creative awareness (belongingness) means not so much to accept certain thoughts and goals of being human, but rather a certain approach and attitude which has as its main characteristic the striving to understand oneself and the world as well as the realization of these thoughts and goals.
Modern atheism has many causes:
In the nineteenth century, Europe was dominated by the ideal of freedom. Modern man in Europe strove so much for a maximum freedom and independence that he did not tolerate anything that could diminish his sovereignty, either as an individual or as a group. Any guardianship was declined and opposed and because the existence of God also limits man's sovereignty, God also should not exist. (See Werner Sombart).
The European mind paid tribute to the so called exact sciences in the last century. Exact science meant to explain causally, to prove experimentally. What cannot be proven is not true, what cannot be shown by experiment does not exist. To think about things which could not be squeezed into the methods of the natural sciences was considered as "speculation" and unworthy of the title, "scientific thinking." This was not the fault of the sciences, but of a kind of scientific
thinking which wanted to solve all questions on the basis of natural science, and in doing so surpassed the competency of these sciences.
This is also the reason why there cannot be an exact scientific proof for the existence, or non-existence of God. Science has the right to say that the available means and methods of experimental sciences cannot prove that the world, man, living creatures and objects are a product of a planned creation. However, science does not have the right to declare that such a planning power could not exist. Actually, science can only state that its methods, as well as its goals, are not made for the research of such problems. With the methods used, neither existence nor non-existence of a planning power can be stated or proven.
Modern European man strives toward a maximum freedom, however, also toward a minimum of responsibility. He has the lifestyle of a spoiled child, "who has the impression that he is permitted to do everything and is not obligated to anyone" (Ortega y Gasset). But there is no concept of God, surely not in Europe, which does not make man responsible in one way or the other. Flight into irresponsibility is very difficult or impossible in the various religions. For a religious person there is nothing he could refer to as, "It is stronger than I".
The paradox in the mentality of the nineteenth century is that it filled man with the ideal of freedom, while at the same time inundated him with scientific theories1 through which man was completely determined in his actions. With the help of these dogmas, man lost both God and responsibility in the here and now as well as for the hereafter. Fear for the last judgment is undoubtedly a powerful force that drives many to atheism.
If science knew too little of God so that there could be no God for the "scientific thinkers," the truly religious knew too much of Him. Besides that, the different denominations and churches with so many variations also added grist for the mill of atheism. The confusion between God, religion, and church was also fatal, because many anticlerics wanted to do battle against the church for its attitude toward socio-political issues, as well as toward scientific and spiritual issues. They meant the church and left God.
1Examples of these scientific theories are Darwinism, the science of heredity, historical materialism, and theories about determining the results of hormones and race.
The Role of Conscious Existence
Man is not a simple being, but a living entity who is conscious. He exists and knows about himself. He has life and consciousness; human existence is conscious existence.
Living beings without consciousness are the object of the vital strengths that propel them. They live in a passive way. They are being lived. Their behavior is unequivocally geared by need, instinct, drive, impulse, inclination (lust), and dislike, in other words, by biological vegetative powers.
In contrast, a being who has an image of himself and his world does not act in a passive way as if propelled by vegetative powers; he does not move blindly in the direction in which his own vitality2 works, but his behavior becomes greatly influenced by the impressions and opinions he has of himself, his life, and his world. A conscious being intervenes actively and knowingly in the course of his life processes. No drive, no compulsion, nor being pulled is an unequivocal must for humans. He always has several possibilities, or choices for his behavior. To be able to see several possibilities for his own behavior in a given situation and to be able to choose one of these is in principle what makes simple living beings into conscious beings. The result of consciousness is to choose, to make decisions.
Man's function of consciousness is not only a possibility, but a necessity. The continuity of existence is sufficiently insured in animals through physical experiences (such as hunger, thirst, pleasure etc.), through painful or pleasurable situations, and also through drives and instincts--at best, minimal efforts are required on the part of the parent animals. For man this is not the case. For him, drive and instinct alone do not make him capable of maintaining his life. Whether looking at a process of development or of degeneration, there are no children or adults either in cultured or in primitive people who were able to satisfy and maintain their organism only through drives and instincts. All people care for the gratification of their vital needs with consciousness assisted by spiritual-intellectual strengths. Between man and his action is always his consciousness-his images, his philosophy of life and his image of the world--not as a partly useful, partly superfluous, or even disturbing element, but as a necessity. People, children and adults, without the higher psychological functions are below the
2"Vitality" used in the sense of a biological lifeforce(footnote added by translator).
animal state and would be as helpless in regard to the world, as well as to their own body, as people who have failing consciousness or insufficient intelligence. Cases where intelligence is too low or insufficiently developed are unequivocal proof that man's intelligence and its constant use are not only a possibility but an inevitable necessity for him. Thus, man has to use the powers of his conscious knowledge and higher psychological gifts for the upkeep and protection of his existence, because regardless of his poorly developed drive and instinct capacities, he can successfully take care of the tasks he meets in the world to maintain himself.
Consciousness alone does not lift man above the level of other living creatures. It is true that conscious existence does not yet lift man above the level of other living beings. Conscious existence for man is really not simple existence, but awareness about the meaning of life. A creature whose function is geared only to the support of his own life or the life of others is, in principle, only existing. Whether self preservation happens only through vegetative powers - as in plants - or if other powers are involved such as drives, instincts, or psychological strengths - as in animals -consciousness in man makes only a quantitative difference. All these forces are centripetally directed, towards their carrier, towards its own life. They can and even must go through part of the world in order to absorb necessary knowledge, but they return to their point of departure.
Characteristic of consciousness is that man can complete a change with it. He may focus on life, on himself, but he can also direct himself toward the world, independent from his own life interests. He is not only able to raise the question, "What and how is the world for me and for us?," but also the question, "How is the world in and of itself?" Thus, he can transcend his own and others' life interests, exist in the world with his awareness, without wanting to use that which he has seen or found around him. He is capable of directing the powers of his awareness in a centrifugal way.
Thus, man can surpass vital needs with the strength of his awareness, and pose the question, " What does the world by itself mean?" He is capable of being busy with objects and people as well as himself, independent from interests, wishes, worries and hope, joys and suffering, to recognize objects and living creatures and himself as they really are; not single characteristics which are important to him, but their personalities. Thus, knowledge may be a way to reach a goal, but is also a goal in itself. In the first case, the goal is of vital importance, in the second case truth is.
Turning away from the vital sphere and conquering egocentricity is not only possible by gathering knowledge, but also by taking action. Also, the question, "What must I do, how must I behave?" can be answered according to life interests and motivations, but one can also go beyond and answer it independently of these motivations. Man can, in relation to objects, living creatures, and especially his fellowmen, act in his own vital interests and satisfy his wishes, but he can also act differently. He can also act in a way which is best for them and true to the essence of their being - which means act in a just way. In the first case, vital interests are the motives; in the second case truth is.
This reveals that it is characteristic of man that he is capable of guiding the powers of his consciousness on the world in a theoretical way. To live in a biological way is to live for self-preservation and preservation of the species, caring for self and at most, for others. Expressed strongly, "Animals cannot do anything with the world except to eat through it." (Maximilian Beck). 1.) In contrast, man is not tied to nature and life in this way. He does not only stand in life, but also above it, not only "in life," but also "for life." (Reiner Maria Rilke). 2.) Thus, man is not only a living being who considers the world subjectively, for himself, but he is also a spiritual being who can consider objects and living beings objectively. He is not only a product of nature, but also a spiritual subject.
The consequences of his awareness are that man:
Must ask questions as a vital necessity, because otherwise he can not maintain his life.
Has the ability to ask theoretical questions, which are not existential but spiritual.
However, awareness leads a step further. Through his capacity to reflect, man not only can ask questions, but he can also doubt everything. With the question of, "What and how is it?" only a beginning of questioning is made. Correct questioning is a process that may be interrupted arbitrarily, but has the tendency to follow this sequence:
What and how is this?
Should it be different?
Does it have to be this way?
How should it be?
Can it also be different?
What can I do?
What should and must I do so that it becomes as it should be? Starting with the second question, something special is contained in all these questions: Man is capable of not only accepting reality in the world as it is, but he can also ask which possibility or need could change the existing situation. He can say "no" to reality (Max Scheler), which means that he may consider the existing reality as a task, as something that should be altered. He can try to "recreate creation" (Goethe).
The personality of man develops especially through his conscious relationship to God, his concept of being a human being and his fundamental relationship to his fellowmen.
It is not enough that man believes in God and has a God: God has him. He belongs to God. With all he is and what he has, he belongs to God.
To be connected with creation means to be filled with this knowledge of dependence. It means that thinking, feeling, and acting are always in relation to the creator. But this dependence is in itself unique; it lets man keep his freedom, and actually forces it on him.
Whatever man values higher or takes more seriously than himself, or whatever his heart longs for too strongly, makes him unfree. He believes he has a goal, an ideal to strive for, and soon this striving has got a hold of him. He believes he possesses something else beside himself and soon this something else possesses him. He becomes possessed, ruled. No matter on what we orient ourselves or what we value higher than ourselves, if it is non-Godly it makes us unfree. If we see perfection in something un-Godly as the only thing worthwhile to strive for, then we commit idolatry and fall prey to demonism. We become objects of what we idolize.
To live with God means to seek freely and independently what he may expect from us. Independently we find out what he has in store for us, so we may freely - also from Him - choose to or choose not to fulfill the goal, or to let it go.
To live with God does not mean to dissolve in God, but to live with his meaning, to want to live with Him; not in or toward Him. Man must keep his own character: not to God, but with tension to direct one's movements toward Him. To live with God does not mean to abandon ourselves, but to develop further, while we continually seek and realize the best qualities we are endowed with.
"Every human life is a living answer to the question of the meaning of being human" (Hans Freger). Feelings of belonging in creation mean that we constantly ask the question, "What is it that God may expect of me?"
World and man are incomplete, unfinished. It is left to man to improve himself and the world. How this has to be done is a secret kept from us. Man can work to bring the world to its deeper meaning or leave it to spoil.
For many people, the imperfection of the world is proof that God does not exist. "There can be no God, because if God had created the world, he would have created a perfect one." (see Krishnamurti). In the first place, it proves God's omnipotence that he also may create an imperfect world. In contrast, it would speak against omnipotence if he would not be able to create an imperfect world. Secondly, it is not a sign of the imperfection of creation that man is placed on earth as an incomplete being who is permitted and even obliged to cooperate on his own as well as on the world's completion. It is problematic if a static, perfect world, by itself, could be called more complete than a world that still has to be completed. Tranquility can be considered as a sign of perfection, but also as an insufficiency of movement and capacity of affect. (see the Classics and Romanticism).
Many ask the question, "Everything comes into existence and moves according to eternal laws; so where is there room for God?" God creates the world, the beings and objects, and all the power which functions in and through all of them. All created beings originate and are motivated by forces inside themselves. They exist as long as there are forces available which sustain them according to their own laws. A being who can freely use these forces and move according to his own ideas has a wide choice of possibilities. Nevertheless, these possibilities have a limit. If man deviates too far, he weakens his own body and soul; he may create chaos in the world and destroy it. Man can make mistakes, but it is so arranged that these have results. These results are not immediate in the form of punishment, but sooner or later, in the form of a corruption of mankind and a chaotic world. This happens not through an ad hoc interference of God, but through the working of the eternal laws he has created. "Et modus in rebus et sunt certi denique fines" (there are limits,after all, and the limits are made by God).
An all too human sense of justice demands a reward for good people and punishment for bad people. We do not know if God is a judge. If He is, then his judgment is certainly not according to human concepts. Reward and punishment are probably not connected with possession, fame, power, a good life, and their opposites, as we too readily tend to believe.
The attitude with which man best responds to the awareness of creation is proud humility. Whatever man is or can do is not through himself; it was given to him. Whatever he has as physical excellence and spiritual gifts are not his merits, and nothing to be proud of. All this should fill him with humble thankfulness, which is usually the case with great human beings.
The merits of man are found elsewhere; not in what he brings with him, but how he uses it, what he does with it. However, far beyond this merit, man has received his highest credit: he is called upon to cooperate with the job of creation. The unfinished world has been consigned to man. It has been left to his decision to which end he brings the world. He has the choice: "He can choose God or he can leave God out of it" (Martin Buber). He chooses between his own possibilities and in doing so forms the world into something meaningful or something meaningless. He can choose and therefore, also has the responsibility for what becomes of him and the world.
Man should not be proud of what he can do. His capacities only oblige him and burden him with responsibility. But it is exactly this responsibility that should fill him with pride, because this makes him the chosen amongst creatures.
"I can understand God, but I cannot make an image of him" (Spinosa). We must be clear about the fact that all images we make of the Creator belong to the realm of the mystic. However, this does not mean that mysticism, by itself, is an illegitimate striving of man, but that we must look at all symbols of God as man's own creation.
In the way everybody creates a picture of man for himself and behaves accordingly, man also works constantly on the image of God in himself. In this respect, he does not come farther than suppositions, no matter how much he leans on traditional sources of mankind. That God exists and how He is does not depend on man. We also do not find Him, we invent Him. God exists, but our God is our own invention. According to Bergson, it is man's calling to invent gods. That is why "we want to honor the inscrutable silently" (Goethe). Nothing is more real than to approach Him reverently, to collect strength through communion with Him. How one does this is left to the individual. Neither the different ways to approach God, nor the different forms of religion however, should separate people from each other. Religion is the connection of men with God and with men. All higher religions teach people to see a brother in others, a creature made by the same Creator. Where religions alienate people from one another, people practice religion in a destructive way. Deep down, all religions strive towards the same end. They reveal God to man, and acknowledge the unity of all beings. In the specific areas in which people believe they know about God, they go in different directions. However, real religious people will respect the devotion of others, even when they take a different approach from themselves. If the difference fills man with restlessness or hate, then this is a problem. These problems are not religious ones, but psychological ones.
The psychological inclinations and tendencies of man do not stop for religion. Striving for security, vanity and ambition, striving for power and superiority, "slip into the most subtle feelings of religion in a shocking way" (Jahn-Adler). One should not forget that in the mythological epoch of a people or culture, metaphysical experiences are dominated mostly by fear and a search for protection. Therefore, it becomes important to honor the strongest amongst the ghosts and demons, to behave in the correct way toward them, and to make sure of their approval. It is as if people might say, "Whoever does not honor my God, doubts also the greatness of my God, regardless of whether he has another one or not. If he has another one, so much the worse. In any case, it is a criticism of my God, a doubt about his power and magnitude, and therefore also a threat to my existence. My being is founded on the magnitude of my God, and on his benevolence. One who worships another God destroys my feeling of security." Next to the supposed danger to one's existence, vanity also played a big role. One identified with his God and the one who had the strongest God was not only proud of Him, but also felt more powerful himself.
Man always feels identified with the opinion he has about something, and the person who denounces this opinion denounces him. This is especially true when it has to do with what is most important to him, with the mastery of the world. The lower one's opinion of himself is, the more intensively he seeks something with the help of which he can raise his self esteem. Someone who has a low self respect and feels inadequate seeks to occupy himself with owning things to compensate for his feelings of inadequacy. It is (by itself) interesting, how many things can cause inferiority feelings in men. It really is amazing to think of all that has to be shelled out to acquire a feeling of superiority. Someone may be completely unable to be proud of himself, even though his wife is the most beautiful woman, his country the strongest of the world, with the most important history; he may have the most forefathers, and so forth, into infinity. And of course, he has the greatest and only true God. Men may have different concepts about God and may pray in different ways to Him, but one concept and only one way is the right one, and that is "my way." Of course, this is not faith, but striving for dominance. That is perhaps why Schiller answers the question, "Why do you have no religion?" with, "Because of religion.”
Man does not utilize all the strengths and abilities he has available. He does not actualize all the possibilities which are open to him. He is not an isolated individual, absolutely determined by what he is, but is also characterized by what he could be. It is part of his being that he has the potential "to change from any one way of being into a different one" (Ortega y Gasset). Man must not only make decisions relative to a specific situation, but he also has to choose constantly between the possibilities of his own being and between the different forms and content of being human.
Man is and develops; human existence consists of being and constantly developing one's own being. Because of his ability to choose and having to choose his own potential, man works on his own creation. What he becomes and how he develops not only depends on what he brings with him, but much more on what he does with it, what he creates with it.
Other creatures stay closer to their origin and are kept closer to nature and, therefore, always live what they are. In contrast, man can, or may, by his own decision and by working on himself, realize his best form or fail. Among several possibilities there are always better ones and less good ones, less right ones. Man cannot realize his best possibilities, his best end result immediately, but he is able to come more or less close to his "ideal goal." (Alfred Adler). However, he has a chance to become his ideal self, to realize his own reality (i.e. his real self), the more he lives in a certain tension toward what is ahead and does not stand still in a safe form. He must be constantly inclined to ask and to seek in order to continually renew and grow in his understanding of himself and the world. He must strive for the ability to distinguish between real and unreal, between truth and fallacy. Concerning himself, man can go wrong. He needs a touchstone to know whether he acts correctly or incorrectly. And in the long run there is only one fundamental attitude that satisfies him, that gives him support psychologically as well as intellectually, and which is experienced as an expression of his own being. Because man is a creature who brings his strengths, talents and possibilities with him, and has the choice between his potentials, his choice is more correct and will be found by him in the long run to be even more correct, the more he fulfills what is originally meant for him, and not by following what was planned by himself. What is man's real self and his best potential, is not given to man, but it is his task: he has to look for it!
To understand what is originally planned for him, to search for his ideal form and to fulfill it, is, therefore, man's most important task and the real essence of his being.
Man is a spiritual being, and one of his most important decisions concerns the question of which role to give to the vital elements and which role to the spiritual elements in his life. Vital elements consist of the physical and psychological aspects of man. It seems to be very difficult not only for individuals, but also for whole cultures, to reach a proper equilibrium, a harmonious functioning. Over and over again, man swings between over-evaluating one way of life and, at the same time, depreciating the other way. However, vital life by itself is not quite human, and spiritual life by itself is superhuman. Neither one touches the human level, one is below, the other is above: both are un-human. Vital life and spiritual life together creates being-human, one or the other alone is reduced existence.
With regard to the vital aspect of life, the body, with its needs, makes constant demands which must be satisfied, otherwise the organism gets into a situation of distress. Gratification of physical demands is necessary. In addition, the sense organs of the body receive stimulations from the environment. Without our body we cannot make any contact with the environment; we cannot experience or know the world. We can only experience the negative and positive aspects of the world, the anxieties as well as the joy, through the help of our body. Without the body we have no sensory organ for the fullness and the glory of creation.
The condition of our organism expresses itself in physical sensations, which reach from a scale of pain via the neutral state to the sensation of pleasure. The first so called physical response to these sensations, whether determined by outside or inner factors, is the desire to move from a negative into a positive state.
Psychological situations also have a wide scale: from feeling depressed, grief stricken, through the neutral state, to pleasure and a feeling of happiness. Man wants to free himself from negative feelings; via a neutral state he arrives at a feeling of pleasure, well being.
Therefore, both physical and psychological negative situations cause tensions which press for a solution. Only when a state of relaxation has been reached can anxiety be stopped until the next tension occurs, whether intentional or not. Relaxation means a difficulty is resolved, reduction of extremes, a restored balance. It means a situation in which one feels comfortable, psychologically as well as physically, and which does not push towards change, on the contrary, one which should remain the same. Understandably, such a state would be greatly appreciated as would be a world in which this were possible. "Only joy makes for kinship with the earth."
There are also situations in life which by themselves are not positive experiences, but they affirm human existence and this world. Well being leads to acceptance of the world.
But in this lurks the danger which threatens man from the vital side of life. If man needs all his time and all his strength to obtain the necessities of life, he has no time or strength for spiritual activities. This is an uncomfortable situation which has to be avoided with all of man's abilities. In general, however, it is not the negative situation but the positive opportunities in the vital domain which tempt man to focus his interest totally on the basics of life and not bother with anything else.
The fact that physical as well as psychological gratification is possible immediately, that lust and joy are possible as well, lets man easily reject spiritual pursuit as a long, arduous road. In addition to the above mentioned two factors, there are the tendencies to cling to the familiar and to be satisfied with the world when one feels good. When one feels good, it is easy to think that everything is in order. When one finds himself in a balanced situation, the incentive is missing that would press one to compensate. Thus, a vicious circle begins which exhausts a person with tension-relaxation, and which does not show a way out. What should one change in a world in which one already feels good, and which gives us enough pleasure and enjoyment? At most, one would like to have more. Then the course is extended, intensified, but not broken up or changed.
Consequently, the vital part of life can occupy man completely, and his psycho-physical state can demand his total attention.
However, within the vital part of life, there is a difference between the physical and psychological aspects. Physical feelings are objective because they are unequivocally determined by the actual living state of the organism. Our physical well being is, therefore, a sign of fulfillment of realistic necessities. Our psychological well being, however, is not necessarily a measuring stick that something meaningful or pleasant has been fulfilled.
We do not strive toward that which fills us with pleasure, but it fills us with pleasure to reach what we strive for. The real difference is that psychological processes do not function independently, but are dependent on the physical and spiritual condition which give direction to our drives. The psyche is focused on a goal, but that goal is derived from physical and spiritual desires and needs. While our physical drives are mostly directed by real needs, the majority of our strivings usually have no basis in real needs. Instead, they are mostly superficial wishes.
Where do these wishes come from? What awakens them?
Because of man's absence of security in relying on his own drives and instincts in any specific situation, it is necessary that in him, as a substitute for the vis a tergo (force from behind,a push), a vis a fronte (toward the front,a pull) is working. If no cause pushes him enough, he still becomes pulled by his goal. His own goals direct his movements; his own goal is the reason for his movements. But man creates his goal in harmony with the conceptions he has about himself and the world, according to his world concept. This concept of the world and of the role he believes he has to play in it is from a human standpoint, however, partly imperfect, partly wrong. Nobody is in possession of the absolute truth; every world concept contains mistakes. Our possibilities and our tasks can only be to "replace big mistakes with smaller ones" (Alfred Adler). We have to make an effort to see more clearly what we really need and why we really are here. On the one hand, big mistakes lead to conflicts with life, on the other hand, we fail our real self and miss the meaning of our existence. Whether it is by our own mistakes or those copied from others, they are preconceived ideas, created as much by our insufficient capacity to judge as by our poor use of the capacity to think.
The difficulty to find the right way in the world and the feeling of insecurity connected with it do not make it easy for mankind to change ideas he has originally chosen as guidelines. He has great objections to try new and possibly better roads which he does not know, as well as objections to continuing on old roads which he has tested but are wrong for him. It also touches his self-esteem if he has to admit that, so far, he has made a mistake. Sapientes est mutare consilium in melius. ( It is already a sign of wisdom to be able to exchange his ideas for better ones.) Neither mistakes nor the psychological aspects are a danger for man; the combination of the two as a result of imagination is fateful. "To think of something, means to sow the germ for its development." Indeed, every thought is an act in the process of development. But these thoughts work only on our desire for and acting through our accompanying feelings. Thoughts and ideas by themselves are not effective; they have to be stirred into action by appropriate feelings and conditions. The human being who has been enlightened about something does not yet go into action, he first has to become moved by his feelings. Only in his emotional awakening does man come to a conclusion, is he ready for action. Deep down, thinking, feeling and desiring are pre-philosophically unseparated; one divides them only in theory, in order to examine them. They interact and influence one another. Thus, ideas of any content, correct or incorrect, create feelings. Emotionality and affectivity are not as much under man's direct influence as his thinking. Feelings, once they come into being, tend to live on. That is why one can so often observe separation of intelligence and feeling. In addition, feelings are guided more by deeper wisdom than by superficial knowledge, in which one mostly doubts oneself. Feelings limp behind insight. One is often hampered by a preference which is tied to preconceived ideas, when one has already recognized and understood the fallacy. One often holds on to certain desires when one has already recognized that one does not strive for something one needs, but for something one believes one needs.
Man's psychological state by itself is not a danger to him, neither is his intense feeling, his passion, enthusiasm, or exaltation. But that which causes him exaltation, what causes him strong emotion or carries him along could be a danger. Behind feelings are also opinions and conclusions, and they are often incorrect.
Therefore, we have to make it clear to ourselves that our wishes are often based on prejudice and preconceived ideas. We have to learn not to do what we should as a result of some deep down conviction, but to do what we really want to do because we have recognized it as the more correct thing. We must constantly make an effort to correct our mistakes and to guide our desires and thinking into the more correct direction. We must learn not to live our life on preconceived ideas and prejudices - psychologically half-conscious - but according to our own inner being, our guiding spirit.
We can direct our thinking, feeling, and wanting toward the world for our own pleasure and for vital interest, or toward the world at large for intellectual-spiritual interest.
Both attitudes can give us satisfaction, and therefore, are psychologically acceptable. The difference is that in the first situation our own advantage gives us pleasure. In the second, we acknowledge objects and living beings and act toward them according to their character. Man probably always strives toward gratifications, but what really gives him the deeper satisfaction is the awareness of the true differences in these reference points.
We are spiritually oriented, not when we are interested in ourselves and acting subjectively, but rather when we are interested in objects outside ourselves and acting objectively. Spiritual is not identical with theoretical, because theory is only thinking, whereas we may be spiritual in our thinking, feeling and acting. Our mental attitude in relationship to objects, to living beings, and to the tasks of life can be sketched in the following way.
The determining factor in man's spiritual sphere of thinking is that it originates in a subject, and that the subject itself is important. The spiritual person as a subject is important and not a self-centered interpretation thereof. The spiritual person is realistic and objective, instead of egocentric and subjective. The spiritual person is directed toward the essence and the substance of objects and living beings, not to their superficial, casual qualities. These superficial, casual qualities may be important if one is focused on meeting one's egocentric goals, but this is an unrealistic way of perceiving objects or living beings, not befitting and not characteristic of those objects and living beings. In a spiritual sphere of thinking, the person sees an object not only as a means to an end, but as an end in itself, not utilitarian, but intentional. The perceptions are not aimless, but the person also does not dwell on expedience. A person's consideration of objects or living beings according to their own content, in their concrete, own specific existence, the way they really are, prevents seeing them as only matter. It enables the person to identify these objects and living beings with their abstract concepts. Thus, the intellectual-spiritual attitude means the effort to understand the object in its real specific existence, and is opposite to the materialistic and the idealistic.3
The conduct of spiritual man toward objects and living beings is determined by his attitude which is characterized by the fact that it does not originate from selfish, egocentric goals. Spiritual man tries, especially in regards to others, to act in a way befitting their being, their laws, and thereby their rights. A spiritual attitude, then, means to recognize other situations as well as other beings; to accept their existence and to allow them the freedom to be themselves. Spiritual man cannot be tempted to strive for possession of vital needs above and beyond the basic necessities, let alone try to dominate others or strive for power, because that would be in violation of his own values and the values of others.
Spiritual man is characterized from the beginning by his interest in the cause, the essence of his feelings. This interest is not rooted in egocentricity, but means sympathy for the object, acceptance of it's existence, and affection for it. To be focused on the essential in no way means lack of attention for the objects and beings in this world; on the contrary, it means a deeper interest in them. One does not only accept their existence, but more than this: one wants their real existence, their full reality. This means that affection and love not only lead to acceptance of an object's or living being's existence, or to the wish that it exists,
3Refer to Abraham Maslow's The Farther Reaches of Human Nature (footnote added by editor).
but also to the wish that it exists in a perfect way (H. Türck). Love also means to want to help the object of one's love to achieve it's real destiny, it's full reality, it's perfection. The opposite is also true: complete expression, complete realization of one's own being fills us with affection. Hardly anything makes a bigger impression on us than a meaningful progression, the systematic evolution of a human being and the total realization of this process.
In contrast to this, a man who is oriented towards his own advantages rejects everything that does not serve his personal goal or that may disturb him. This deviation leads to hate, to the denial of the existence of the disturbing other person. In this connection, it may be observed that the spiritual human rejects negative characteristics and shortcomings everywhere, also in others, but does not reject the person who has the shortcomings. He is simultaneously looking for the possibility to help others get rid of their shortcomings and help himself to reach his own potential.
From these connections, it can be understood that the spiritual human being does not see the world, the living beings, and especially humans, as being complete, but as in a state of constant development. He accepts the fact that humans have already been created, but he also realizes the potential for improvement, for transformation. For the spiritual human being, the world and man are not a static, final product, but a task on which he has to participate in a creative way.
In general, one can say that concentration on personal interests and advantages only restricts him in thinking, feeling and acting; such a human is dependent in everything on egocentric wishes, expectations and anxieties. He is not free. In contrast, an interest in the world beyond his own advantages makes man step out of his own narrow circle, makes him deeply understand things and living beings, sharpens his view on the meaning of things, his insight into himself. It allows real freedom.
The differences between spiritual and egocentric attitudes can be represented in a schematic overview which may clarify these explanations, but is not definitive. First of all three remarks:
Regarding the spiritual attitude, we must emphasize that when man focuses on reality, he will also consider and treat the world differently. While he is forced to obtain the necessities for his survival out of the world, for spiritual man the world is not only present, but also has to be "in his hands" (M. Heidigger). Above and beyond his vital interests he also has to direct his attentions toward the reality of the world at large.
The fundamental egocentric attitude has been sketched in its extreme, unmitigated form in the following outline.
The development of a profession, love, and community has both lifestyle and fundamental attitudes as a base. Problems in these areas can be solved, and tasks accomplished from the following viewpoints: "How can I achieve the greatest usefulness and pleasure?" or, on the other hand, "How can I best develop my gifts and use my strengths?" That is to say, "How can I become and be totally human - for myself and for all others?"
In addition, human values and value systems, science, art, ethics, and religion may be seen as a means to achieve security, dominance, or as a guide to being an upright, real human being.
FUNDAMENTAL ....................................... FUNDAMENTAL
SPIRITUAL ATTITUDE ............................ EGOCENTRIC ATTITUDE
Objective......................................................... Subjective Essential ...........................................................Egocentric
Focused on depth of being ................................Superficial
Focused on substance.......................................Accidental
Focused on a cause by itself...............................Focus on the means
Focused beyond the purpose............................. Focused only on the purpose
Concretely Contemplative ................................. Materialistic
Realistic ............................................................ Fictional
WANTING AND ACTING
Unselfish..............................................................Selfish Just .................................................................... Egotistic
Accepting existence ............................................Wanting to rule
Recognizing and valuing self .................................Striving for power
Interest in other(s)............................................... Opportunistic
Affection for others.............................................. Rejection of others
Love ...................................................................Any degree of animosity
Creative................................................................Active, not creative
Understanding, open, insightful ............................. Limited, narrow minded
We must still pay attention to the attitude to and position in profession, love, society, as well as in science, art, ethics, and religion.
As a living being the single person is an individual, but spiritually-intellectually, he is a personality. "Individual" is a biological category; the single animal is also an individual. "Individual plus spiritual is personality" (N.Berdyaev). The biological category of "individual" separates beings from one another and is generally directed towards the self in particular. In contrast, the spiritual connects beings to one another and is directed beyond the individual. It is universal. The main categories of the personality are:
To be a subject
To be active
These categories are closely connected and also depend on each other. They say the same things about man, each with a different emphasis. Because he lives intellectually, man is a subject who creates in responsible freedom. If he did not have freedom, he would not be a subject who could create responsibly because of spiritual constraints.
The personality of man is, like all things intellectual, at the same time a duality of being and becoming. Personality is at the same time: to be and to have to; gift and task. Man is personality and must do his best to be it; man is spiritual and free and constantly has to fight for his spiritual freedom.
Spirituality means to be turned away from vital interests, or better yet to be able to turn to other things and other people beyond vital interests. By so doing, life puts limits to men's biological inclination and his psychic desire for expansion. The individual and vital parts are not the main worries of geistigkeit (spiritual-mental-intellectual man4). This is why there is such a fearful rejection of the spiritual by those who are too concerned about themselves. After all, spiritual life distracts man from his own selfish interests. Spirituality means to think in a way that is guided by the object, and is not determined by our worry and hope. Spirituality is absorption in the uniqueness of the being and special characteristics of creatures. It is striving to know their real being and meaning. Spirituality means to succeed in going beyond oneself, it means the road from egocentricity to universality, connectedness with creation, to unite with all creatures. Spirituality means to record one's own experiences as if they happened to others, and to record what happens to others in such a way as if it were one's own fate.
4 Geistigkeit, literally translated can mean spiritual, intellectual or mental -- or all three combined.
There is an outer and inner human freedom. Outer freedom is the possibility to do what one wants to do. Outer freedom is limited. The possibilities of man are limited by restrictions from outside; objects and other people create constraints and stand in the way of man's goal. Whenever outside constraints reach a certain level, they become unsolvable. The outer freedom is identical with the power of man over objects and creatures. And this power is limited.
Inner freedom is the possibility to want to do what one should. So the question arises: How likely is it for man to recognize the correct thing, and once recognized,to act accordingly? Man's being a subject depends on his capacity to recognize the right way, while in a more narrow sense his inner freedom really depends on his capacity to want to do what he considers correct. This question can be confirmed. Man can be prevented from doing what he considers correct and wants to do, but he cannot be prevented from wanting to do it. This is why what he is, is less characteristic for man than what he wants to be (M. Unamauno). The essence of inner freedom is that man cannot be prevented from wanting to do what he considers right and should never stop wanting to do so, independent of whether he can carry it out or not.
Another side of man's freedom exists in the fact that though he cannot do everything he wants to do, he never must do what he does not want to do. There is no irresistible coercion for him if he is willing to risk his life. "No human being shall have to" (Lessing).
When there are factors or influences which determine thinking, feeling, and will of man unequivocally, then he becomes dominated by these influences. In this case, man would become an object. A person as a subject is an individual who is capable of overcoming outer and inner influences which affect his insight and behavior in a negative way because they divert him from realizing his goal. Correct insight is hampered by man's limited intelligence as well as by outside circumstances. Next to these objective factors there are still subjective obstacles which curtail correct insight. The difference between objective and subjective obstacles is that objective obstacles are invincible to a certain degree, but the subjective ones are not. Subjective obstacles may work to delay progress, but they can be overcome. Man's being a subject depends on conquering his subjective obstacles.
There are outer and inner factors which may direct man's thinking in a specific direction, but they are not definitive. Man may let his outlook on the world be influenced by them, but he is not obliged to do so. Neither outside circumstances nor his own drives, feelings, wishes, and thoughts determine man's thinking unequivocally, but he can allow it to come under their domination.
Whatever dominates man internally, he first had the freedom to permit it to dominate him. Repeatedly, man comes under the influence of his own mistakes, wishes, and inclinations. Again and again, the danger exists for him not to be a spiritual-intellectual subject, but an object of his own psyche. Man constantly has to make an effort to rise above his mistakes and incorrect wishes with the help of his mind. "To be a subject" is identical with Socrates' concept of autocracy (independence). The most important condition for being a subject is incorruptibility in thinking. Drives, as well as social circumstances and psychological striving, may "falsify man's consciousness." While they falsify, they do not determine consciousness. If man permits social factors or drive and feeling factors to dominate his thinking, and does not exert himself to the best of his ability to free himself from them, then he has let himself become an object. To remain a subject, man constantly has to struggle. It is his never ending task.
Inner freedom presupposes the responsibility of man. In his striving for power, man wants to be free of everything that limits his sovereignty. In his striving for inner freedom man wants to be free for something, namely, to recognize and realize his real self. In his inner freedom, man is tied down. He must direct himself to what he (and to what through him) will become. To want what I want is capricious; to want what should be done is the bound inner freedom of man. Man cannot be held responsible always to find the right way and do the right thing, but he should make the effort. He is responsible for his choice of direction and for his desire to do the right thing.
We carry the responsibility for our choices and our decisions. We are not all-knowing and, therefore, we can never find the right way with certainty. We are not all powerful; thus, we cannot always carry through what we consider to be correct. The real meaning of our responsibility consists in the fact that we accept the consequences of our choices and our actions while also accepting the new situation as our task, not as something we have nothing to do with anymore because we have already done what we could, but as a new demand.
The animal does something; man acts. Acting is the result of a decision. Except for the vegetative, involuntary body functions, man's biological functions do not need a cause to activate them, because he himself is involved in the process. Drives do not have to cause man to act in any specific way, but are an incentive for making a decision. For instance, hunger is not a cause for the unconditional need to eat or of striving to do so. Hunger leads to eating if man accepts being sated or affirms the maintenance of life and makes it his goal. But one can also eat without hunger or regardless of hunger. One can temporarily give up being sated if one has something urgent to do, or refuse to eat and start a hunger strike. One does not eat because one is hungry, but one eats when one decides to appease one's hunger - when this is one's goal. If one has another goal, for instance freedom, then one can go on a hunger strike regardless of hunger. Hunger, by itself, urges but does not force. The same holds true for other drives; they drive and press, but do not force a man - they are not an absolute compulsion for him. Apparently, for animals they are. "The animal is always in a "becausesituation;" man in an "in order to-situation" (W. Sombart).
In man's psychological life, situations are similar. His wishes draw him in a specific direction, but their fulfillment is not an unequivocal must for him.
"What distinguishes the simplest architect from the perfect bee is that the bee constructs the honeycomb with its own body, unconsciously and spontaneously, whereas, man first sees the house in his mind, and makes a plan which he produces "out of his head;" that is to say, he creates it" (Karl Marx). To produce is to create. When we give form to something according to our own plans, we are creative. The animal takes the world as is. If a region does not meet his demands, if he cannot feed himself well enough, then he leaves that environment or he perishes. To change the region, to change its fertility, qualitatively and quantitatively, is not his business.
Man can say "no" to natural phenomena. He constantly questions whether something has to be or stay the way it is. Maybe it is one of the basic functions of culture to overcome the so called natural drives and desires of man, and guide psycho-physical reactions through the spirit-intellect. The natural is the not yet completely human, after all. The drive for self-preservation and the attendant self love, envy, ambition, and power drives are "natural," and only the spiritual values can elevate the unfolding human beyond the biological and psychological state.
Human qualities are opposite; our possibilities can always develop in two directions. The purely biological is in the first place dividing-egocentric and only with help of the spirit can we decide to become open to being universallyhumane. In nature, the power of the strongest reigns; spiritual-human is to let weak ones come to full advantage, to substitute justice for power.
The fundamental attitude towards other people is the touchstone for man's alliance with creation.
Through his awareness of creation, man is not only rooted in his origin, but is also connected with his fellowman who has the same origin and is called upon to go the same way.
If man is the product of a planned creation which has a meaning for him, then his fellowman is called upon to realize the same goal of creation as he. Creation has not been made for the separate human, but in equal measure for all. Whether one person fails to reach one goal or another is of equal importance overall. Awareness of creation means understanding the oneness of all existence.
Therefore, man falsifies creation, so to say, if he does not "take the other along." The other is also part of the total, like him, and the total can be missed and falsified by the other, just as much as by himself. Everyone matters and everyone is co-responsible for everyone else; he who sees more clearly is more responsible than whoever is not that far yet. The further one is, the more responsibility he has. Maybe it is the clearest proof of advanced development that one always demands more of oneself and feels more responsible for the total. The higher the level that man reaches, the more he can pass on, the more he can encourage others. Self education and self realization do not succeed in isolation, but in living with each other in society. In general, man can only understand his own personality by experiencing others. What he is, what he can do and must do, he understands only through the constant demands that life, objects, living beings, and fellowmen have of him just by their presence. "What do you expect from me?" and "What is your attitude toward me?" are questions which are constantly put to man. His attitude to these questions, as well as his lack of an attitude, are answers to these questions. The world around him presses him constantly to take a position and only in this position can he best understand himself. Lively relationships with the world are therefore necessary, so man can experience and understand himself and his world.
Through his freedom, man also co-creates the world, which he is able to ruin or to challenge. Man's freedom is his "burden and his grace" (Paul Tillich). Without it human existence would be harmed. Nobody can take man's freedom away from him; only he himself can give it up when the responsibility connected with it appears to be unbearable for him.
Everyone carries the full responsibility for what becomes of him, or rather for what he wants to be. Much can bother him and be in his way, but whatever he does, he could always act differently. Outer and inner factors may influence him, but he makes the decision; he cannot shift the guilt for his faults onto others or something else. Yet, "...everyone is also guilty for the faults of others" (Dostoyevsky). The joint responsibility of man and his fellowman is a paradox.
"Whatever man knows, he has learned" (W. Sombart). First man learns from others through interacting with them, then slowly incorporates the criticism from others, ultimately seeking his own teaching. But we constantly learn about and experience the world, life, and ourselves. In this self-orientation, the words, deeds and especially the personality of our fellowmen are of considerable importance. The less developed the personality of a human is, the less he has his inner freedom. The less he can withstand influences, the easier he will let himself become carried away by examples. No matter how one is or however man behaves, he has either a stimulating or obstructing effect on people, whether he wants to or not.
The more developed a personality is, the less he is accessible to negative influence, and the more independent he is. One who is still in the early stages of being is flexible and moldable, but not without limits. We all know that there are limits to good influences, that nobody can be coerced to do right. The same counts for negative influences. These may tempt to do evil, but they do not coerce. Thus, we all carry an absolute and a relative responsibility. This responsibility is absolute in regard to ourself and relative in regard to our fellowmen. They both exist at the same time. Responsibility to ourself is not negated by the shared responsibility of others; and the shared responsibility, not negated by that of the individual.
We are all on our way and the one who has reached a certain level of being human may realize for himself how many stimulating moments have had to be attained for him to have reached this point. How many positive meetings with people as well as thoughts and ideas and how much "good luck from unfavorable circumstances" (Plato) were necessary for this. Whoever is farther should not look down with pride on those who are not that far yet. How have they been neglected? What have we done to challenge them? Have we done enough? We must and will disapprove of their mistakes, but not of them themselves. We can only fight against evil if we contribute in such a way that less evil will be done.
We, ourselves, should not do any evil or depreciate others, but rather influence others by giving a positive example with words and deeds. Nobody has ever been improved by a cold or hostile statement about his mistakes. In order to do the right thing, it is necessary to have courage, confidence in oneself and in people. Man needs the brother who is a living example for him, not criticism that attacks his ability.
Morality means: to accept a specific demand; that is to say, to acknowledge it and to try to fulfill it.
A demand does not mean, "you must," nor "you can or you may," but "Thou shall."
Not to have to do something, but also not dare to neglect it, means the same as to have to fulfill a demand or an obligation.
In this sense a demand means that one has to do a specific thing, namely one has to carry out something so that something very specific may be realized. In the demand, "Thou shall," something else is always included whether mentioned or not, something that will be achieved by our actions. It always sounds explicit or implicit: "Thou shall, so that......," "you must, in order to do........"
When we ask the question, "What shall I do?" the nature of morality requires an answer involving the question, "For what purpose?" What man has to do in a specific situation depends on what has to become and what he has to realize in life. The answer to the question, " For what purpose?" (i.e. Why?), answered from the point of view of creation, should be, "Man exists in order to realize (fulfill) that with which he has been endowed."
Real religiousness is to be overwhelmed by creation. It is not only the knowledge of being created and connected with creation, but to live with and through this connection. For religious man, to be a human means to belong to God in the full sense of the word. He belongs to God and everything he does and does not do is affirmation or denial of his belonging to God. His behavior is directed by his own will so that he shall become what God has meant him to be and wants him to be.
The questions, "What should I do," and "How shall I behave?" are for the religious person always the same as, "What should I do so that I and the others will be the way God wants us to be?" Every act for him is either realization of his real being, or its denial. As the tree grows year after year, layer upon layer, strengthening and establishing its final form as it is meant to be, so does man establish by his conduct the growing outline of his deepest self; or - like some one who has taken the wrong way - he ends up in the wrong place. Then he goes astray and cannot reach his ultimate goal.
The pious person lives with a demand. He is there for a reason, and through him something must happen; through his doing and not doing, he promotes or slows down the realization of himself and the world. Every demand comes to man from the outside. Also, the religious demand has not been put there by man himself, but was there from his beginning, from creation, which means something has a plan for him. What is demanded of him is precisely his own being. The typical quality of the religious demand is that what is demanded is not something strange, but it is himself. It is not how he is, but how he should be. Demand always means that something has to be what does not yet exist. The demanding character of piousness is precisely in the fact that religious man not only has to ask the questions " What am I?" and "From where do I come?", but also the questions, "For which purpose am I here?" "What do I have to do?" and "What has to be realized through me?"
The religious challenge, "You must realize your real nature", is like any challenge, not a must. I don't have to accept the challenge, but I also may not leave it unanswered without consequences. Therefor, I shall fulfill it. What happens when I do not accept the challenge, when I don't strive towards completion of my being and the world?
When I don't strive toward the best in myself, I reduce myself, I fail to become myself and remain below my real self. I am less than I could be.
In the demand "You shall," is not only contained, "to do" and "so that," but in most cases, also "because otherwise." "You must this and that, because otherwise," and, in general, follows the threat of a punishment or the promise of a reward.
In this way, every act loses its moral value. Whatever man does, either to avoid punishment or because of a recompense, is morally or religiously without value. Punishment and reward, which lead to egotism, are real doubtful measures in education. They are often justified with the argument, "It is for your own good." In morality and religion, however, they are doubtful because they mask the real nature of morals and religion. It is moral to do the right thing, because it is right; it is religious to do the right thing, because one sides with God.
The religious person searches for truth and does the right thing because he belongs to God and wants to belong to God. Everything that is untrue or wrong alienates him from his real self, from what God wants from him. When someone does not fulfill the demand, when he is less than he could be, he fails; he makes a distance between his own being and God. But this is the result that religious man wants to avoid. He is not forced to fulfill the demand, but he does it because he belongs to God and wants to remain that way. All other motives of having to do things do not stand on a religious plane. Threats and promises may have been the means of religions and churches, but by themselves they are not religious.
As success or failure of his work is the real thing to creative man, so is doing the right and good deed for the religious man. His only punishment for failing to do the right thing is that he has neglected it, and thereby has diminished not only himself but his God as well.
Also, for him who is definitely determined to fulfill the purpose and meaning of his existence, and to do what he must do, a question remains as to what should be done in specific cases, a question that always exists and has to be solved. To be able to do the right thing, one first has to know what the right thing is. To the question, "what is sin?", Socrates answered, "Ignorance." How a person acts in a certain moment, assuming that he wants to do the right thing, depends on what he considers correct. If he misses the point, it is a result of not knowing enough or of having incorrect information. "So far, some have known too much and loved too little, others loved too much and known too little, but only he who knows much and loves much can really help people to advance," (Mereschkowsky). We must clarify the close relationship between right and true, between acting right and thinking right, much more clearly than has been done so far. It is the endless obligation of morality that it is not enough to do something with a good conscience, one also has to do it with his best knowledge. To be able to do the right thing, one has to know it. This means one constantly has to search for it. Goodness alone, without being focused on knowledge, is still egocentric. It is important to do what is in the best interest of the other. Goal and meaning of action have to be focused on the other. When someone is satisfied with his own way of being and doing good, separating it from whether it helps or hinders another, then his goodness is meant for himself and not for the other. Moral action, however, must emphasize the other and must strive to encourage the other. For this, however, it is necessary to know what encourages the other. Magnis in re bus voluisse sat est, (To have wanted to do great things, that is sufficient). In moral things it is not enough to have wanted the right thing: the well being of the other has to remain the meaning and the goal. Goodness is then only really moralistic when one forgets it, so to say, and selflessly means the welfare of others. But what really serves the other also helps himself; to know and discover that, is always a new task.
One who has overcome the slowness of his heart, but not yet the slowness of his spirit, may readily accept someone else's counsel. This is also true of the one who has no confidence in his own spirit. However, this does not excuse him from his responsibilities.
He who accepts a ready made value system with all directions and carries it out perfectly finds that his responsibility is to be found in the choice of this value system. Instead of coming to a conclusion case by case, he makes a conclusion once and for all. But it is he who has made the conclusion; it is his choice for which he is responsible. It is true that man can be educated with certain morals, which he follows automatically, so that it appears as if there never has been a decision. Sooner or later, however, it becomes more or less a conscious consideration and more or less a conscious explanation. If one follows a specific way of living, this may appear to be automatic and according to steady habits, but it happens because of a repeatedly new decision for exactly this way of living.
It seems that in reality we are dealing with a metamorphosis of the content of our morals. The original meaning of "you must" is to do the right thing, which propels us, me, and the others on our way. If one accepts ready made value systems and follows these without constant criticism, believing that the realization of the existing direction is the highest moral law, then one changes the original intention of the morality. Instead of the right way, which is to do good, obedience becomes the highest demand; a self-centered tendency slips into morality.
Again, instead of the well being of fellowman, instead of the right thing, something else becomes the goal for action, namely obedience. Obedience is definitely the highest moral function, but only when one follows the highest principles. This is when one makes one's choice, solely dependent on what is the best. One has to be unconditionally obedient to the best and refuse everything else. Obedience by itself is no virtue. To follow the highest, however, is the highest virtue. Morality does not mean acceptance and fulfillment of some obligations, but absolute obligation toward the right and good, which can only be fulfilled by constant and creative striving.
Is there a contradiction between morality and law? Man's inner freedom is in conflict with all forms of direction. However, inner freedom does not mean arbitrariness, but resistance against coercion, threat, and intimidation. Inner freedom means the tendency to choose the best with the best knowledge and conscience; that is to say, inner freedom means that one is tied down to the best. If the precepts demand this best quality, then man chooses in his freedom all that the precepts demand. If the precepts lag behind the best, the inner freedom will have friction with them and will be clashing with them. Perfect laws would be the ones which prescribe the best. The clash of inner freedom with the precept depends on the content of these precepts. Morality demands that man acts according to his inner freedom. That is to say, he should choose the correct direction and act accordingly. Correct laws have to demand the same. Morality must push the laws towards a constantly larger perfection, so that this constant becomes more identical with the "moral law in us" (Kant).
Mistaken Social & Psychological Developments of Our Times and Their
We all originate in the community. In childhood, the human individual is not only taken care of and protected, but his strengths and capabilities unfold under the direction of others. He is also given knowledge which makes it possible for him to exist by himself later on. It is true that this transfer to the child takes place through a few individuals, but what has been communicated has always been part of a community, formed and passed on from generation to generation. If it is possible for an adult to exist in rigid isolation, then this is only possible because of the knowledge and abilities he has received from a human community.
Not only has everything that makes it possible for him to exist in isolation been passed on by the community, but also the means through which he can understand himself and give form to his being. When being human also has to have meaning beyond the maintenance of existence, and when it is important to seek, to understand, and to realize this, then it stands to reason that this could hardly be accomplished if everybody had to start from point zero. However, the individual is not only guided into life in the vital sphere, but also receives communication through thoughts and ideas on the real questions of being a human. This communication takes place in two ways. On the one hand by direct contact with other members of the community who represent the spirit and inclination of the group, how the members live, their traditions and conventions; on the other hand indirectly, by the works and writings in which the spirit and convictions of the community are contained. Because every community possesses not only works and writings of the present day, but also much earlier samples, it is quite possible that there is a mixture of long since disappeared generations and other foreign communities still existing. This holding on to and conserving of earlier works that are created somewhere else and making them available to others is one of the real functions of the community. If someone does not receive satisfactory answers on realistic questions, then it is still possible that he can save himself many detours, as well as mistakes, by questioning and looking for answers in the earlier works of others which are available to him in the community. These works could not have been created in any amount worth mentioning if people had not developed the means to express themselves and if the manner of expression had not been available to them. Nor could conservation of the works of solitary people have been possible without communal life.
We are humans resulting from creation, but we become humans through the community. We receive our potentials from creation; they are innate. However, their development takes place through life in the community. Already, the means for thinking in concepts are transferred by the community; without this, one would barely reach beyond a vague, hazy assumption. More than anything else, language is a common possession and has to be first transmitted to the individual. The child possesses only the innate capacity of speech; speech itself must first be learned and conquered. The same is true for most psychological-spiritual readiness and abilities. The transmitted concepts and the language make it possible for mankind to exchange thoughts and to pass on everything they have learned or believe to have learned about themselves and about the world. The individual begins to seek answers for himself to the questions, "What am I?" and "What am I to become?" He does not need to start from scratch, but he may use the answers that have already been provided to him by the community.
If this is so, if the only thing which sustains us and allows us to fulfill our task of being human is provided by the community, then it is unacceptable to abandon human society and to strike out on one's own. If everything that makes it possible for the individual to start life and to fulfill being human has become a communal possession, then it is our obligation to contribute to it so that this possession becomes larger and better. If it depends on all of us, if all of us are called to fulfill men's existence, then we all have to make an effort, not only to seek the right way, but also to pass on what we have found. He who withdraws from this withdraws from the task that is given him by creation, a task not only meant for him, but for all of mankind.
Human society needs order so that the relationships and functions of the single members, even of the smallest community, may develop in a meaningful way and connect organically with functions and activities of all members. There must be organization, and this does not happen without instruction. Society prescribes specific ways and means. Order is a means to a specific goal. This is indispensable in society in order to make harmony with each other possible. The human tendency to make something an absolute makes order too easily into a goal in and of itself, and the fulfillment of directives the highest human virtue. Thus, tensions develop in every society. The individual's striving for freedom and the necessity of order are in opposition with each other and create conflicts.
What is the essence of these conflicts? One should distinguish sharply between outer and inner freedom of the individual, as well as between order and power of the group. The outer freedom of the individual is relative; there are objective borderlines to it by nature and by the outside world. Also, the group to which the individual has to subject himself is entitled to its demands, as long as these demands only touch the outer freedom of man. Inner freedom is absolute. If the group demands the sacrifice of inner freedom, then its purpose is not order, but to exercise its power.
All modern emancipation movements are justified to the extent that they mean the freedom of thought and conscience of the individual. If they strive beyond this and they do not recognize the importance of regulation of external social and economic life, then these movements mean extreme outer freedom, in other words, arbitrariness of the individual.
The group is entitled, even obliged, to regulate society. It has to create order so that existence becomes assured in the best way. It has to restrict the external freedom of the individual. If on top of this, it exercises restraint for convenience and oppresses inner freedom, then the well being of the community is no longer its highest principle, but striving for power by some creates disorder.
Human communities are of great diversity in form and content. Yet, the problems of modern society may, in reality, be brought back to the question: How far is it possible in a community to secure the existence of its members through order and organization without affecting the inner freedom of the individual?
The criteria for an ideal society are given a priori5: they have to make self-realization of the individual possible, at least to promote it, never to impede it, let alone prevent it.
The economic, social, and political relations in a community are correct only when the individual's time and strength are not totally claimed by existential problems and concerns. In other words, he should have time, energy, and interest for essential human things beyond what is needed for his basic existence. For that, regulation of labor and provision of material are necessary.
"For right-minded people, a just division of goods is a matter of fact and not a question of concept of the world" (Rudolf Thiel). However, not all people are well meaning; one cannot expect that people wait and suffer until the others come to their senses. In economic and social domains, external freedom,the arbitrariness of some, has to be limited.
5A priori means "valid independently of observation," "as a matter of fact," or "it goes without saying."
For a long time, economic and social relations have been seen as an autonomous part of human society. Economics especially, has been seen as something special. Thus, it was also believed that a disturbed material care of mankind was a purely economic problem. But economics does not function according to its own laws, but according to the spiritual attitudes of the administration. It is not enough that these goods are available and that distribution of goods is organized so that people are well taken care of, but there also has to be the desire for a just distribution. The just distribution of goods is not an economic and social problem, but a psychological-moral matter. Where the distribution does not seem to be just, willingness is missing, at least with part of the group.
One part of the group abuses external freedom and threatens society because it obstructs regulation of life's circumstances. It is equally wrong if the other part of the group wants to regulate not only economics and social affairs, but also spiritual life. It abuses the order which is necessary in society and endangers man, because it suppresses his thoughts and his liberty of conscience. The first group overstrains inner freedom; the second group overstrains order. How did this wrong development begin?
The mind of modern man has become almost entirely preoccupied with his vital interests. Most people live from hand to mouth, and the smallest disturbance in their profession, work, or money earning capacity puts the naked question of existence in front of them. In every life the question of how to live is imperative. Not only has every question about the meaning of human existence faded more and more in recent times, but also the question of profession and work, which was still giving content to life, has disappeared in the background because of the pressing necessity to earn money, one way or the other. One has to obtain money in order to be able to live. How one lives and how one gets money has become even more important. The maintenance and the security of existence have become more and more the only worry and hope of our times.
In this state of affairs, these economic and social relations create a striving to free oneself from the pressing worries and constant threats. Many see salvation in hoarding reserves. "Citizen is he who gathers provisions." People feel more secure when they possess more material goods. The representative theme of the period around the end of the century was that possession makes strong and mighty. This attitude poisons man. One can often only get rich at the cost of others. And thus, the others become rivals who have to be conquered. There are no more fellowmen; there is no "together" anymore, but an overall "one against the other," at best tempered by common interests. Personal egotism then becomes group egotism, but the attitude by itself remains egotistic.
Once developed, the rival attitude is not limited to existential questions. If one first of all strives for material possessions and power over others because of security, then striving to be superior soon becomes the main goal in life in every aspect. To surpass others in possessions, position, fame, knowledge, and capacity does not only mean larger security in existence, but also an increased feeling of personal worth. He who has overcome the most pressing worries about his existence becomes seized by a general upward striving. Because of the naked fight for existence, life becomes a common competition in which it counts to be somehow ahead of the other, to be more than others, or to look like more. The will to exist becomes, because of striving for power, a will to "appear as if." Worries about existence and striving for value leave very little time and strength for interest in other things. To live very well, to impress oneself and others one way or another, is the main tendency of the present day goal. To be occupied by something else, to concentrate on something else, to collect oneself, does not enter one's mind. Not to concentrate, rather the opposite, to amuse oneself is the watch word. Panem et circences!6
If possession, power, and pleasure are the main goals of a group, then this attitude is really the result of a primary egocentric attitude which always strengthens the individual's egotism. Worries about existence alienate men from one another, and they soon become separated; every one has only himself as confidant. In this respect, the economically weaker ones are disadvantaged of course, and, thus, of necessity, also begin to stick together. What for them as individuals is impossible to reach, they believe they can achieve a more just division of goods through organization. This claim is plausible, and also qualified. And there are special reasons why it is so difficult to carry out.
Part of mankind opposes planning because of economic and social factors, because they fear an encroachment upon their possessions - maybe with good reasons; but to keep their existence intact, an equal share of possessions would suffice. The old argument that the earth would be too poor to feed everybody is no longer valid. These human beings do not feel that their existential condition is in danger, but rather their power and social value, which their privileged material power position has provided. Thus, it is not an economic problem, but a psychological one!
Another part of mankind wants to achieve a more just division of goods by organization. In that situation they not only want to organize society in social and economic ways, but also to organize all of life -- man himself. They are filled
6"Eat bread and enjoy!"
with distrust as far as "ruling classes" are concerned, and not only strive for organized management, but also for organized mind. They connect the right that demands equality in material matters with injustice in order to shackle the mind. This is also power politics -- whether it comes from left or right -- only in a different sense. Some want to rule through arbitrariness in economics, others through homogenizing the mind. Neither side has much concern for people: for one group people's livelihood is unimportant; for the other group, a good livelihood is the goal for which they live. The first neglect man's existence, the others the meaning of existence.
When one means well for man he considers his existential safety as much as his self realization. The former is important, the latter essential. Without existential security, no self-realization is possible; without self realization, being a human is without content.
Only on the basis of a positive attitude toward man himself, is it possible to form human society satisfactorily. If one does not respect man enough, he will not succeed in building a just society.
When there is only time for vital questions, a disturbance of society occurs automatically. This was the situation of Western mankind around the turn of the century. Was the material situation the only cause? Why have people since that time worried almost exclusively about their existence? It is a fact that the material situation has a great influence on the psychological attitude of people, but the reverse is true even more so. The psychological- spiritual attitude influences the economic and social format of society. Striving for power is not only a result of existential insecurity, but in still greater measure also its cause.
Alfred Weber shows in Kulturgeschichte als Kultur -- Soziologie7 that in all civilizations and cultures either ambition for power or humanity dominates. Society always becomes formulated by these two tendencies of the human soul. Which factors influenced life around the turn of the century to deteriorate into a general competition?
Economic insecurity was only one of the determining factors, and by itself a result of psychological factors. Not only did a material insecurity exist, but also a general "social anxiety", even fear for life itself. Everyone saw in others a possible adversary; there was no affection or attachment among people, and also no trust of each other. Among each other one did not feel among friends or equals, but rather in enemy territory. Life itself became more and more experienced as something hostile, threatening, and full of dangers which one could only escape by special abilities. Man was lacking trust in others as well as in life and in himself. People had no courage and no feeling of being connected. They also could not have had it.
7The History of Culture as Sociological Culture
"The sky has closed over the people" (N. Berdyaev). What the period of nationalism had sown carried its fruits in the Nineteenth Century. The work of the nationalists cannot be valued highly enough for the development of mankind. They freed the people from all kinds of superstitious ideas, from childish fears - from the devil. But they also loosened him from his metaphysical connectedness; they took away the supporting basic layer of his life and being. The scientific discoveries of the Nineteenth Century then finished this work. Man was regarded as an accidental product of blind forces. Life was seen as something contained in itself, without a deeper meaning or goal, "an interruption between two nothings" (Franz Werfel). Left to his own devices - what could man do with such a life but make the best of it. And what was the best? To live as well as possible, to make it as pleasant as could be. If there is no deeper meaning of life, no real task - then we ourselves can make goals and tasks. When there is only life - we want to have it for ourselves as much as possible, and make it as pleasant as possible. One of the results of the total secularization of mankind was a general hedonistic trait. Another result was as important. Man did not only become detached from a cosmic connection, did not only experience his coming into existence as something accidental, but also his own line of conduct, his own manners of acting became more and more incomprehensible for him. Human personality became "camouflaged" by the natural sciences and was reduced to drives, reactions, and reflex mechanisms. People did not understand themselves anymore and therefore, did not understand others. What one does not understand, one can neither respect nor trust. This was really the situation of people around the turn of the century. Deserted by God, or rather alienated from God, man was alone and cast upon himself, and could count more on himself than his equals. Precisely, self-confidence had been taken away from man. It was made clear to him that he was sovereign and that he could do what he wanted to - but what he did was determined beforehand. Everything was determined. Neither higher nor worldly powers could prescribe what he should do - however, it was prescribed, namely by blind forces, by psychological-chemical-physiological laws. Man had been given absolute freedom to be a reflex mechanism. In spite of this, he still possessed enough intelligence that he stood very skeptically confronting himself and did not have much confidence in all the strange things he was exposed to.
Regardless of this, he still could have had confidence in life. But how? There were also laws in life, functioning powers, which were not divine and also not human. They were there, but where did they come from and for which purpose? For these questions there was no answer. Life was obscure, man was obscure.
Without God, without self-confidence, in response to the darkness of life, the last escape from danger and solitude was fellowman. But that one was also incomprehensible, a similar incalculable reflex mechanism. How could one count on him? One did not respect oneself. How could one have had respect for others? Totally thrown on his own resources, it also did not work out. In a dangerous life, people were the greatest threat. So, one way or the other, they had to tolerate each other. One started by talking encouragingly to another. People who had no confidence in themselves and others, who experienced neither affection nor love for each other, discovered community-interest as a substitute for a missing feeling of belonging. It was as if they said, "we want to get along, because otherwise it becomes bad for all of us; we want to be good to each other for well meaning self- interest." One pleaded for correctness, for egotistic causes. People are really capable of tolerating each other, even when they do not like each other, if they have to. Only this tolerance stops when they are no longer forced to it. Thus, exactly in moments when it counts most, where there is no original alliance, solidarity is always recalled.
Courage and social interest are absolute conditions for correct functioning of people in society. Courage means confidence in oneself and in life; social interest means confidence in and affection for others. Courage and social interest are psychological factors which shape society and, in turn, are influenced by social factors. But their roots are deeper. They are psychological, socially operative and determined, and are the expression of the deepest metaphysical fundamental attitude of man to creation, to himself and to his fellowmen.
One can do one thing: one can see oneself as a creature of a planning power who has a purpose for a person. One can see the meaning of man's existence in the fact that one exists to realize the intention of creation with people and the world. One can experience others as fellowmen who are called to the same task as one has oneself. One can understand life with all it's sorrow and all it's pleasure as the means with which and in which one forms oneself and proves that it is possible to give one's own answer to the question of the meaning of being a human.
One can also do otherwise. One can see oneself as a chance product of blind forces. One can see human existence without original meaning and goal. One can feel as strange about others as about oneself. And one can consider life as the source of pleasure and sorrow, where all that matters is to experience more pleasure than sorrow.
A third thing one cannot do, however: 1. one cannot consider the other as a rival and also feel connected with him; 2. one cannot see life only as goal in itself, and also find a deeper meaning in it.
"To destroy God, means to destroy man." (Dostoyevsky). What is man when there is no God? Accidentally originated through blind forces, he is then also the object of these forces and his life unfolds as their function. He is object in every respect, outfitted with consciousness and, thus, he can observe passively and acquaint himself with what happens to him. Or, precisely through his consciousness, he can gain influence on the forces within him and around him. He can act as subject and actively influence the results. Left to himself, not responsible to anyone, he can choose his goals in life in complete freedom.
And then something remarkable happens: this absolute free subject does not know how to give his life a worthwhile meaning. How much man searches and whatever he finds for which he is willing to give his life, sooner or later, it appears to him as not rewarding, as unsatisfying and empty. He does not see anything that could give his life meaning and value in the long run. Finally, nothing remains but life itself, which simply has to be filled with content. Life itself, however, does not show beyond itself. Life received from no one, also serves no one.
And how should one be with one's equals? One should help them, so they may, in their own way, fulfill what they are here for. But they are also here for nothing!
Living together with people who are not connected religiously is only possible without disturbance if they accept the moral obligation of righteousness or are psychologically inclined to do the right thing, or if they see tolerance as a social necessity.
Even if we are not creatures from one and the same planning power, and who are not responsible for each other, but creatures who all have the same purpose and who are originally connected -- then moral laws can still be functional. However, these moral laws pale to the same amount as we turn away from God. As plants who have chlorophyll built in still need the sunlight to develop, so will man feel the moral demand in his soul, only when he becomes aware of it. Moral knowledge, responsibility, duty, and guilt feelings -- how can they exist without the one to whom we are answerable to? The one who has obligated us? Man can try -- as a substitute for failing religiousness -- to build up an autonomous moral system, to make an appeal to the moral conscience of men and try to awake guilt feelings in them, but one will discover that "little remains from what we call conscience when we can eliminate the results of our acts." (Multatuli). If there is no God, then morality is still only an attempt to make people responsible for one another. This attempt, however, is doomed to failure.
But it has to succeed, one way or another, to make community living a possibility. Should one count on the "natural goodness" of man? Like all that has to do with feeling, it is dependent on changes. Man is by nature neither bad nor good, but he carries the possibility within him to become one way or the other, as a result of his metaphysical attitude to God and to people. If his goodness is only rooted in the realm of feeling, then he will stop being good if it pleases him.
To make it possible for people who neither love each other nor feel responsible for each other to live together, it has to be pointed out to them that it cannot go well for them in the long run when they don't tolerate each other and support each other. In other words, they have to be convinced that altruism is better, from an understandably egotistic point of view. They have to show solidarity or it will go badly for all of them, sooner or later. It should not be surprising that for those for whom it already goes badly, there is a better response from the ones who hope that their turn will come later. This may not happen for them, but it may for their great grandchildren. When prosperity is the only goal, then those who are really well off in their egotism cannot think socially and become altruistic all of a sudden - just so that others live well also. It appears, then, that the better situated can only be "forced" into social insight and behavior.
Without an alliance with God, man can neither find a meaningful goal for his life nor a convincing reason for fellowship. Because man is not connected with his fellow humans on a religious level, morality is not an obligation; and because, on a psychological level, he has to deal with situations representing goodness or evil, there remains only one possibility: to strive for general wellbeing from a social point of view. And those who are not willing to come to social insight and mutual aid, but who want to remain egotists for their own sake and not for the sake of community, for them there remains only force and coercion. Without man's connection with God, even a society intent on promoting general well-being is hardly possible without compulsion.
Thus, in atheistic times, compulsive states and societies come into existence where order is not voluntary with-one-another, but rather a forced next-to-one-another, which always remains unstable and has a tendency to swing back to the original against-one-another.
Without alliance with creation, one can only reach a certain level of courage and social feeling. Only he who is firmly connected with others through affection and attachment can consciously experience the ultimate unity of all that exists. And only he who believes that he is not delivered to blind forces, but rather charged by planning forces whose design he really does not see clearly, but in whom he can trust, can avoid the feeling of constantly being threatened.
Without connectedness with creation and the brotherhood which is rooted in it, man can only be relatively courageous and compassionate. If courage and social feeling are not the immediate results of a deep metaphysical connection with God and man, they come to depend on social and psychological factors. Then they are not absolute, not the expression of our being, but determined by other circumstances, by specific relations, and are, thus, relative.
If the meaning of human existence, i.e., to be and become something specific, is not experienced as an originally given task, then there begins in man's life a process of secularization which nearly always ultimately leads to a need for security and striving for power. No matter what one strives for, or which goals one sets in the first place, they prove, in the long run, untenable. At the same time, the feeling of being handed over to hostile forces becomes ever stronger. One is left to oneself and has to take care of oneself in the first place. One cannot expect much help from his fellowmen who are busy with themselves. Nobody risks losing sight of himself for fear that something much worse could happen. Because nobody is the keeper of another, everyone has to take care of himself. First one wants to secure one's own existence and strive for everything which one believes one needs in order to be better prepared for life. Possessions, strength, and power become the ideals of the "capable ones."
Whether the wish for ability originates secondarily to the striving for security, or is connected to a primary tendency towards expansion in people, it is a fact that in certain periods the need for security and striving to dominate appear mostly together. If man looks at life as the only good thing, the natural result is that he wants to secure life. He will be more successful, the more superior he is to all others. Thus, striving for abilities becomes a goal in and of itself and leads to ambition for power.
Courage and community feelings can hardly develop if people, left to themselves, consider establishment of their existence and their power structure as their most important task. The one who is most capable and most superior feels he possesses enough power to be able to rule over others. Without metaphysical connectedness, courage and feeling for mankind are not really possible, and thus it can be understood that human society is dominated either by humanitarianism or by lust for power.
"The immense importance which we attach to the economy and the fact that we value wealth higher than life" ruins mankind. Man does not value wealth higher than life, but he values only his own life and this can be very well assured by wealth. Economic well-being is, at the same time, the means through which one can reign and also feel superior to others.
"People do not see the connection, the heart does not fail, but reason." Maybe this is true, but maybe not. One has to use only minimal reasoning to understand the connections and to see that through striving for power all will go to ruin in the long run. But maybe people do not want to listen to reason. There is no interest in what has been ruined by the striving for power, as long as one possesses the power oneself. Our glory appears to be more important than the life of millions.
For whom everything is more important than the human race, one expects in vain that he exercise reason and accountability.
Only people who see an original meaning in being a human and who are aware of their belonging together with others, neither overestimate their own existence, nor their own prestige. They are capable of building a community in which maintenance of existence and fulfillment of the goal in life are possible at the same time.
About Fate and Death
The factors that influence the development of man are endlessly diverse, and it is a special favor of fate if it makes a halfway correct attitude possible for him. The biological and psychological factors, as well as the social and spiritual influences, which work upon man especially during his youth are exceptionally important. Later, a religious-humanistic education will take on the task of shaping these influences in such a way that the development of a human into a subject, into a responsible free personality, does not depend so much on chance and crisis as is the case today.
The circumstances and conditions under which a person lives are never the most ideal, nor, as long as he lives, even the most negative. Even though they could still be more negative, unbearable, and even deadly, they could also become better. Everything given to man is at the same time a task. His task is to function under the given circumstances even if his activities are immediately directed to changing the situation. All the known entities together represent in any specific moment the fate of that moment in man's life; he has to accept this fate again and again, in order to give it shape.
A great danger for modern man is his pampered lifestyle, which makes him believe that only when the demands he makes of life are fulfilled does he have to participate. It does not mean being spoiled if one strives to make life easier for oneself and others. However, it means being spoiled, if one gives up one's efforts and retreats feeling offended when everything is not as one might want it to be. "We don't have to put demands on life - that is the most important thing we have to learn" (M. Unamano). Man always has to accept the given, as the material he must work with. How everything is does not depend on him. How everything will develop--to cooperate on this--is his task.
It is not only external circumstances which easily induce man to give up his efforts, but also the real and fancied lack of his own capacities. Not only those are in danger who, driven by vanity, want to distinguish themselves and to be superior to others, but also those who try in a correct way to deliver their contribution to common tasks. Kindled by mutual rivalry, they believe all too easily that only "the best" makes sense, and that the contribution of a lesser gifted and capable person is not worth mentioning. Thus "the best" becomes the biggest enemy of the good and tempts man not to accomplish the possible if he is not capable of doing "the best."
Man has to learn to understand that his task is only to accomplish, under given circumstances, and with his capacities, those things which precisely under these conditions and exactly with his capacities are possible. Ultra posse nemo tenetus. (Nothing more is expected of anybody).
No matter how much he strives to develop his capabilities and his circumstances in the most positive way possible, he may not overlook that the state of his means and conditions is not the purpose of life. Rather it is the fulfillment of being a human, for which his capabilities are only the means, not a goal in itself. The remark made by Berdyaev about this problem is very profound. He said that too great a concern about one's own capabilities paralyzes the creative quality in people; that failing to believe in one's own capabilities is a sin, a denial of God. "I cannot do much, don't expect anything special from me, there is no point in exerting myself." In reality, is not the deeper meaning of inferiority feelings, that with their help, a person presents him or herself as "not being able to," when, in fact, he or she does "not want to," and that, in this way, one excuses one's own indolence and thus rejects every responsibility? If presumption is wrong because it tries to do the impossible, despondency is just as wrong because it does not try to do what is possible. Both are an avoidance of what is possible, in other words, a "not wanting to do." Both are the opposite of courage which tries what is possible, be it from an opposite starting point. Man has to demand much of himself, but not so much that precisely his own demands impede and paralyze him. They should encourage him.
Life of modern man is threatened in general by the fact that he strives less for being, but much more for having, for possessing. He makes less effort to be good and to act in a meaningful way than to possess much. Furthermore, those who not only want to have a pleasant life, but also try to fulfill the meaning of life, all too often want at least to have favorable conditions and allowances for their efforts. The main symptom of our spoiled attitude and lack of courage is that we offer words instead of recognition - words of excuses about all we do not have and about what is missing that prevents working successfully.
When the unfavorable circumstance and absent abilities do not suffice to excuse our slowness, then we refer to a third excuse, namely the small chance for success. Of course, one has to believe in the possibility of success in order to measure one's strengths correctly. However, if one wants to have the certainty of success, one can never start. To be human means to be uncertain. One never knows with certainty if one can finish, let alone finish successfully, a task once started. Always, only possibility and probability are given. The person with courage is content with this possibility and probability, the discouraged human wants certainty. Because certainty does not exist, he tries at least to pretend the feeling of security. But because he deeply distrusts himself, his real state, nevertheless, this feeling of relative security does not last, and thus he always has to find something new that reassures him for awhile. His life becomes dominated by striving for security.
This "not wanting to take a risk" has a special aspect which is extraordinarily important. In critical times, when everyone matters, one always hears the evasive answer, "What can I do all by myself? A single individual does not count at all." And this answer is given by millions and millions of people who are in the same situation. The sociologist Baschwitz described this paralysis, where an often overpowering majority is against a diminishing small minority, who, in turn, make their action dependent on the security of success.
"If someone waits until the circumstances are favorable to begin living correctly, then he is like the farmer on the river who waits to cross until all the water has flowed down." (Horace). The individual cannot wait; he has this one life available to be and to become what he should be. He has this one opportunity to do the right thing, as far as he has recognized it and can do it, within the circumstances in which he lives. He cannot wait until the circumstances become more favorable for him; he must exert himself to be a human being here and now.
It certainly is the task of every community to create favorable circumstances for the fulfillment of being human. Every individual has to contribute to shape society in such a way that being human is promoted and not obstructed. The socio-economic circumstances can only be favorably shaped by community effort, and when that does not succeed, man's fate will be extremely difficult for the majority. However, what fate is for the individual is a joint interest for the community. It is the task of the community to take away the weight of very difficult socio-economic situations from individuals to prevent them from being paralyzed by such a fate.
The positive formation of the economic and social factors shall only then succeed for the people when their economic and vital affairs are not the only goal in life. People who overestimate the material side of life and value little else will be seduced into rivalry time and again, and will have difficulty tolerating mutual help. The further a community has advanced on the road to being human, the sooner economic and social circumstances become eloquently evident for all. It is also true that all will cooperate on these favorable circumstances in a natural way so that each encourages the other in every respect and may realize himself at the same time.
At the same time very difficult material circumstances may not serve the individual as an excuse to avoid his real task: to be a real human being and to become better yet. Also, poverty has rarely been the greatest obstacle for man to be human. But if personal material misery goes so far that it makes him incapable and allows him no time or strength for anything other than what he needs for existence, it is the fault of society, that is to say, of all its members.
Work and profession lose evermore their personal character for modern man and become more a purely economic-material matter, a way of earning money. Privileged groups have always been able to choose and pursue an occupation or a profession according to inclination and talent, or because of other personal motives. There was still a certain relative freedom present, and beyond that even love for the profession and satisfaction in work were possible in a large measure. In the course of the last hundred years this all but disappeared. The number of people whose personality is wrapped up in their work has become miserably small. There are also fewer professions left in which thorough professional knowledge is necessary. Schiller already saw sharply the dangers which one-sided development of profession and occupation meant for the development of the complete personality; but we have this dangerous period with all its negative results already behind us. Professional knowledge, to be wrapped up in one's work, at a cost of general human attitudes and spiritual development are not necessary any longer in order to function successfully in most professions. We live in the period of the "relief man," who can deliver his work almost without learning. He then provides the necessary routine without effort, unless he has been fired for considerations of one sort or another.
The problem of profession has acquired a totally different appearance from what it looked like at the beginning of the century. Earlier, one could still develop in one's profession and be human; at present, one can only be really human in spite of one's profession. It is to be wished that through further development of technique and correct organization, man will save evermore free time so he may dedicate himself to real problems and tasks after a short involvement with a profession.
Way too few, who have the good luck to practice a real profession freely, may do this with the realization that precisely our fundamental attitude can best be expressed in our activities. We can exercise any profession purely egocentrically and egotistically, only thinking about ourselves - striving only for more earnings and better position - or as fellowmen with the welfare of others in mind. According to Unamuno, the occupation of a person is his real religion, and the real prayer of a believing shoemaker exists in his making of good shoes in which his fellow citizen does not get corns. This is true for all professions.
Until recently, the neurotic-egocentric attitude of most people in our era was expressed very clearly in the choice of profession. This choice was most often made because of egocentric reasons of vanity and pressure to assert oneself, or of striving for power and position. Yet the exercise of a profession produced little satisfaction; people always looked jealously at others and at better opportunities. Also, those who did not feel satisfied in their occupation believed all too often that another occupation would suit them better, and that they would be better off there. The courageous ones with more social feeling all too often overlooked that it is of less importance which activity one exercises than how one exercises it, what one means with it, and who one wants to serve with it -- only oneself or others as well.
Only he who feels that he belongs to a community can experience a shared task as a meaningful part of a whole and can have pleasure in his work. For the individual to feel himself and his occupation organically connected with the whole, it is inevitable that the community not only values the work of the individual, but also values the individual as someone who belongs to the community. The community must recognize the individual's personal worth. Thus, it is not at all necessary to be sorry that the time seems to be gone in which a person's value was identified only with his performance. Performance and abilities become overrated mostly in states and societies which strive for power themselves, or that feel threatened by a power. Because one needs large power forces, the single person has to have the capability and be able to achieve much. The state stimulates the achievement capability and makes the people instruments of its politics.
When individuals rather than states rival each other, the accent shifts from achievement to possession and position. Then it is not the capable one who can accomplish a lot, but just the reverse; it is the one who is clever enough to obtain sufficient earthly goods without much effort.
Achievement, thoroughness, or skill by themselves are no longer values; they are at best advantages which can serve different goals. They are means, and the goal for which they can be used can sanctify them or completely desecrate them and make them into damnable dangers.
Fate for man is determined not only by the environment in which he is born, with its socio-economic circumstances and educational influences, but also by his later environment, which means, his outer circumstances and the psychological-spiritual dispositions of his fellowmen. In the ideal case, when the single person succeeds in developing into a full personality, "what remains there for this fully developed personality to do other than to give himself to others, so that they can also develop in such full personalities." (Dostoyevsky). But our fellowmen are not always inclined to accept ready made wisdom or help. Even Romain Rolland came to the somewhat discouraged conclusion. "It is not possible to help men, one can only love them." However, if one still wants to help them, then next to much love, also much patience and understanding are necessary. It is not only vanity that makes it so difficult for people to let themselves be helped and to be taught, but also autonomy and the feeling of responsibility. Real help consists in making it possible for them to find the correct way themselves. And probably, this depends less on words than on giving a good example in living.
The less developed the personality is, all the more important is the psychological-spiritual fundamental attitude of the environment. In this case, the interactions from person to person come clearly to light and the individual can become encouraged as well as obstructed. If a positive environment may encourage people, it will be comparably difficult for them not to be affected by a negative environment. Andre' Maurois believes in his book, L'Instinct du Bonheur, that one should try to live in a circle of people who do not have opposing ideas on everything, because there is a lot of energy necessary to swim against the current all the time. Anyhow, one can choose the smaller circle of one's friends, but not the larger circle of fellowmen. As far as the spirit of the times goes, it is, in general, impossible to withdraw from it completely.
The problems and tasks encountered by a person are for the most part tied to the environment. In addition, it is not without influence of soul and mind as to what kind of problems one must become occupied with. Even if we strive very much toward something definite, there are problems of the here and now which are put in front of us. We can only function in time and space, and our time and our space put their own questions and tasks to us.
As in the time of his childhood development, it is later of great importance as to which people one meets and with whom one has a closer contact. One chooses one's friends, but the choices that are available to a person are, in large part, dependent on fate. Whether one is more on one's own or meets people of like mind who share one's best aspirations is not dependent on a single person. It belongs to the great lucky incidents of life to meet people with whom a mutually stimulating relationship can develop. The greatest minds and the greatest spiritual treasures of mankind cannot replace the living-personal relationships. Nobody can learn life from books and theories. Only the metaphysical fullness of the present personality is flexible enough for us to be able to understand being-human, not as theory, but as a task which not only has to be solved, but also has to be lived. How many mistakes, how many detours can we allow ourselves? How many inspiring examples do we live to see in a true connection with friends?
One's fate is heavy and burdensome in a community that wants to rule with force over the lives and minds of its members. Tyranny and struggle against it have existed at all times everywhere. Pressure brings counter pressure; oppression of any kind, physical as well as spiritual, provokes resistance. Power and rights are in constant conflict with each other so long as man does not succeed in bringing a balance. This proves to be a very difficult task which constantly needs new solutions. Power and rights belong closely together.
"Power without rights is crime, rights without power is sin."
Power by itself means the eventual possibility to be able to push through one's will. He who is without any power is powerless. But he who uses his power arbitrarily, without directing himself to what the right of another is according to his being and by law - that person breaks the law. Power is the means to help everyone to his rights. Power is also there where not everyone, on his own, is just. That is why those who are for justice also have to have the means to bring it to victory. When these righteous people are without power, the unjust people force their will on others. Unjust people do injustice and use force, but the fact that they can do it is due to the negligence of the just (righteous) people. The contribution of the just people to injustice and violence is that they neglect to obtain the means to prevent injustice. The truth triumphs only in the way people help it to conquer. Also justice will triumph, ever again, to the same degree that people become more righteous. It is a very old dream of mankind that men "will do the right things out of free will, without laws and without fear of punishment." This was already sung by Ovid, in the golden epoch of mankind:
"Sponte sua, sine lege fidem rectumque colebat,
Poena metusque aberant"
(He held without law by his own decision good faith and correctness in honor; punishment and fear were hereby absent.)
As long as this is not the case, it is necessary for the righteous to organize the world. "If they neglect this, the bad ones do it." (N. Berdyaev). He who is against violence may not hold power in contempt. If the righteous person is powerless, then the powerful can only let him suffer violence; his children will themselves already be violent.
Violence and power are not the same. Violence is use of power without rights, a misuse of power. Power by itself is only a given possibility to act correctly or incorrectly.
Existence without violence is one of the highest and most desirable ideals of mankind and should not be mistaken for impotence. But are righteousness and goodness not to be associated with power? If righteousness means "to do no injustice," then it probably also goes without power. But when righteousness also means to help others to their rights, then righteousness will have very narrow borders and may only be carried out in a very modest way.
When people in our environment are wronged and we don't want to prevent it, then we are also guilty as long as we permit the injustice. However, when we cannot prevent injustice, our fault exists in the fact that we have omitted to do everything so that the power would not fall in the wrong hands. Powerlessness, impotence against violence, is a sin of omittance. When the unjust people are able to exercise violence the just people are also guilty.
How is it with goodness? Can it exist without strength and power? How well then, can it still work? Goodness means the other, and real goodness means all others. Goodness wants to help in every aspect of life; to assist people in vital aspects, as well as help them to become their real self. Goodness has no borderlines, but always means the other, his well being, his promotion. Goodness does not mean to permit the other everything, to fulfill all his wishes, even if they are very unwise, because that is spoiling.
It is to be questioned, if goodness without limits, to the point of not-defending-oneself-against-violence, has a positive influence on unjust people. Apparently so; in an extreme case: if the goodness is without limits. If there is only one point of hesitation, then evil triumphs. The demands of the "not-goodones" on the goodness is absolute. They do not want to be good, and, therefore, also do not believe that "real goodness" exists. They want to be right, and if goodness is shown in an open way, they already believe themselves to be right and to have triumphed. In this respect, their arrogance is unlimited, and they believe that others have to deliver the proof of human goodness to them; only then are they willing, eventually, to try goodness themselves. As a matter of fact, the co-responsibility of the good people is surprisingly large. Because only absolute goodness is convincing, every failing from them has disastrous results. The faint-heartedness of the good people makes the bad ones presumptuous!
Was it not true, that precisely during the time after the First World War, not only the bad and fainthearted, but also the better people, failed in their humanness? The desire of people to build a better and righteous world was not wanting. But who has shown them the way? Who has been so righteous, so good and so human, that his example was illuminating? Very few. Nowhere did one see a group of people one could take as an example. The good ones have not been able to organize the world. Their number was too small and their goodness did not have enough strength to sway the others.
If there is a large enough number of people present who never commit injustice and who stake their life on never letting themselves be forced to commit injustice, then this may influence others, and ultimately the largest majority, to bear the conditions, but not let themselves be forced. This is, however, the end of the violence. Thus it was in the time that Christianity spread. When violence does not find any more accomplices, it breaks down.
Do we have the right, and should we wait and look on powerlessly, while millions are not only prevented from being human, but also have to lose their lives - as a sacrifice to violence?
He who is against violence also may not tolerate the violence of the others. And as long as spiritual means are not enough to prevent violence, passive, and if necessary, active resistance must be used to bear the responsibility for the fate of those who are victimized.
Most of what the individual gets to bear as his fate has not been imposed on him by creation. Man has been entrusted with the created world for further development: We live in a world that has been formed by people. The created world and man are completely tuned to each other; man is able to form himself and the world harmoniously to fulfill the meaning of his existence, in joy of life. Where this succeeds with difficulty or not at all, man has become too far removed from his real being, or he has built a world for himself which does not come up to his expectations, and which now causes the greatest obstacle, and also danger for him.
How common is the complaint that good people so often have a difficult life, and that innocent people are subject to a fate which takes its victims blindly!
We build up our world and it is one of the highest dignities of man that his decisions and actions have such serious consequences. In every situation and before every action, before a decision we should always choose between true and false, right and wrong, spiritual and material, sense and nonsense. We do not always take this seriously enough. Often it has to do with trifles; often we are not aware of the fact that we choose. Yet we constantly make decisions and always contribute something so that in the world the better or the poorer dominates. The slowness of our heart and our mind tempt us all too easily not to take ourselves and our actions too seriously. What does only one small thing matter? And then we stand perplexed before a totally corrupt world in which everything crumbles to pieces and the innocent are dragged away. "Only all people together can live a human life." (Goethe). If our world is unjust and therefore has to fail, the just and innocent cannot remain spared as if they were an island. A flood carries everybody away - those who have cooperated on the establishment of the dam as well as those who have not. One's own faultlessness is insufficient. We all are co-responsible for everything, and inevitably we all share the results.
Summarizing, we can say that much which is experienced as fate is material for life. In every phase of our life, we find ourselves in a special situation in which the inner and outer factors are given. Our talents, our attitude, our physical as well as our psychological-spiritual condition are likewise to be taken as given, like the outer situations in which we exist. To accept the given situation and to give it form with our powers as positively as possible is our task. The world is always full of resistance, but this is exactly what makes movement and development, not only of the world, but also of our own being possible. "Not fate has been imposed on us, but the task to explain fate." (Leo Baeck). Looking at it in this way, it becomes comprehensible that the given events and incidents in life have only a relative meaning for the fully developed personality; respectively they lose their exaggerated importance evermore. All that exists and what happens is not important by itself, but important as something that has to be formed. This does not mean indifference to one's own life and the fate of others, but the knowledge that what is given is not the important thing, but rather our correct attitude, and that it depends on us to change fate for all. One should not live in expectation of a world in which, eventually, everything will be good and in order. It will always depend on people whether the world turns into something better or something worse. Choosing to do the right thing once, a few times, or even most of the time is not enough: To do the right thing is a lasting task of man. Man is a being in suspension, balanced just so that every small change toward good may open unprecedented possibilities; likewise, a slight turn in the wrong direction may cause him and his whole world to collapse around him.
During a negative period there remains for the individual, in addition to his untiring striving, the positive consciousness that the possibility to build a righteous world still exists for mankind. The individual, however, will have no guarantee that his intervention will have success. It is only meant for him to intervene.
The realization that he exists with the instruction to do what is possible has to lead him on his way unconditionally. It is not coincidental that all great religions make their demands on people without at least mentioning some conditions which excuse people from their obligations. Much can influence man's life, but he is never permitted to become unfaithful to his highest task: To be and become a human - as long as he lives. It is not what has been achieved that counts, but the effort.
To be a human is to live toward death. For mankind, the hereafter is the unknown. May his restlessness and desire to know something about the hereafter be ever so great, he cannot experience as a living being whatever is behind the dark gate. What he expects or believes to know about it is his idea, the play of his fantasy. Yet his thoughts about the hereafter are endlessly important because they influence his life in a decisive way. The highest reality are the ideas with which man lives (N.Berdyaev). People's ideas about death influence their life in a very real way.
Modern man has no deeper relationship than to his origin. He does not believe in a creator in a religious sense, and science, from which he expects answers to all his questions, only "temporarily" has the answer to the question "From where?" He reassures himself with the theory of the descent of man, has a vague idea about the origin of the species, and he will wait for the rest until the question of "Where to?" plagues him a bit more. This one can be a real torment for him that can grow into a dread for the nothingness and into a fear of the hereafter. Swinging back and forth from what are for him unbearable images of nothingness and of the last judgment, he finds himself in a suspended situation. He flees from the nothingness to the possibility of a hereafter and from the hereafter that was felt as threatening back again to the concept of nothingness. So begins a kind of half-hearted indifference to the real essential questions of being a human. And this lack of metaphysical alliance - this missing metaphysical base - is the main characteristic of the people of the twentieth century.
For the religious humanist, "... death is turned off and in-the-shadow-side of life." (R.M. Rilke). The alliance with the origin does not only give a substantial meaning to man's life, but death is also not a threatening abyss for him. Dead or living, he belongs also to creation, and the way he "lives God, so he also dies him." (St.Paul). He accepts the inscrutability. The hereafter has been withheld from him; however, he is entrusted with the here and now. With all his capacities, he addresses himself to this. The time given him here is his time, and as long as it lasts, but only that long can he give an answer to the question about the meaning of being-a-human. His life is no small matter for his own justification, and beyond that, also for the justification of creation. With his life everyone also contributes to the decision whether the world shall become a blessing or a curse.
To work here and now, that is man's potential and task. How long? What comes afterwards? These are questions which should not keep him from striving for essential things.
Dangers for Woman and Man8
The emancipation of women went too far in many ways. In its legitimate striving for equal rights and equal appreciation, it wanted to minimize legitimate differences between men and women and admit to similarity.
Women are more dependent on their own body and mind than men. Not only is the woman's body more in the service of life than man's, her psychological structure also is of a being who is more closely connected with life. "Everything that serves life is the business of women." (Franz Werfel). Great care is required to prevent making an assumption of the presence of an original disposition based on patriarchal tendencies, but we can conclude that occupation with living beings is more compelling to a woman than anything else, and that only these activities can satisfy her in the long run. She is originally inclined toward life, rather to the living. Her interest can be influenced by different opportunities, turning her to other things which can more or less satisfy her; yet, sooner or later, her real nature, her original desire breaks through.
It seems that a man not only can remove himself farther from his original being, but may also materialize his real self in a greater diversity of forms. Not only can he more easily make a mistake, it looks as if there are more "almostcorrect" ways and possibilities open for him. A woman is closer to her original being. Also, she does not have access to many options in life for self-realization, and is soon urgently reminded when she turns away too far from her essential self.
An infant alone without help would perish miserably: How wise is creation that it puts next to this helpless creature another for whom it is a bliss to nurse and take care of it. "Because duty can do much, but love endlessly more."
(S. Moricz-Goethe). Everything that can only be procured by love is the domain of woman. And maybe life in general is kept together by feeling. In inner life, women are the creative ones.
"The man has feeling, the woman is feeling" (S.Kierkegaard). Where the woman is connected with something allied with feeling - she works, creates and
8This chapter is not a complete description of woman and man. Besides the moments of destiny, which in general can obstruct man's self-realization, there are still special characteristics of woman and man, which are dangerous for them on their way. These special characteristics and dangers are shown here.
does everything the right way, completely superior to man, who with his logical and technical problems laboriously limps behind. "The most important thing is that we give the one her daily milk." (I.Ehrenburg). While the man pursues big politics and solves social and economic problems, woman stands in the reality of everyday; she takes care of all those who belong to her in all that their body and soul require. For this, she only needs people who need her love and devotion. But watch out when one does not need her. Feeling is not only meaning, content and soul of woman's life, it is also its carrying force, without which she cannot exist. She is not only the carrier of feeling, she also has to be carried by feeling. Without a basis of feeling, the female soul is lame. She has to have creatures around her whom she may love and who accept this love and can radiate it back.
Certain traits are connected with the real, working nature of women's love which cannot only be interpreted negatively, but which can also easily deteriorate. Woman needs something to care for and to protect; only thus can she develop. And her whole being, body and soul, is arranged in a way to have living beings around her and to hold on to them in order to surround them with her love.
Women are often blamed for vanity when they want nothing other than to please with all the means in their power and to find a partner who cares for them - to hold this partner and to be able to belong to him. She searches for the partner to whom she can commit herself and, even more, one who commits himself to her.
Husband and children, the family, that is the domain of the woman. She puts all her strengths in the service of her loved ones; she is absorbed in her family. This tendency to protect and take care--proteger9--seduces her all too easily into a sort of protective household. She wants so much to do everything for her people, that next to the concentration on her own kin, a certain narrowmindedness in regard to others can develop. If this goes so far that she grants everything only to her nearest kin and nothing to others, it is no longer an original trait of women, rather a faulty psychological or social development.
As far as jealousy of the woman goes, it definitely is not greater than man's. Because she is so concerned about the family relationships, she observes every symptom of estrangement of the man as well as of the growing children. And that frightens her, it means everything to her, it is her reason for existence. Especially in women who are instinctively sure, and who function out of the fullness of their being, a certain conservative trait is almost always present. They want to hold on, and to hold together, conforming to their destiny. What was brought together must remain together, as it was entrusted to her: All must remain the way it is.
9French for "protect."
A certain vanity, or better, a wanting to please, concentration on her loved ones with a tendency to protectiveness, holding on, and a tendency to conservatism - are traits in women which are closely connected with the personality, or which follow from it, and which by themselves result in good things, provided they do not deteriorate psychologically.
With the service to life a woman has a real awareness of the limitation of space and time. Life and the living cannot always wait; needs have to be gratified without a big detour around the solution of socio-political and ethical-philosophical problems. Hence, the poor interest of women for abstract thinking and her not quite unjust distrust of everything that is abstract. And when a man still theorizes about the character of another, the woman is often already quite clear about it: "The person involved, I don't know, I cannot explain it, is not a good person." One could call this intuition, but it undoubtedly rests on a greater connectedness with what is living, with reality.
Precisely because of her service to life, a certain moderation is imposed on woman. If she wants to fulfill the realistic demands of life, then she should act economically with her strengths and capacities. She should not surpass certain limits when she wants to take care of her people. The amount of tasks of the woman in her family is really not small. If the man shall provide what is necessary for sustenance of the family, then he is generally completely busy with this. But besides his profession, other things claim so much of his time that most often only the woman creates the atmosphere of homeyness in which husband and children thrive. The men are wrapped up in their profession too much. A one sided education in their profession and a one sided, exclusive interest in their profession often lets them deteriorate, humanly speaking. Sports and politics do the rest.
In our century women have become more and more an all-encompassing personality who have a better concept of the ups and downs of a man than he himself. The times of unemployment have shown very clearly that a man without work and position is a lost creature. The woman is also the one who must understand the connectedness in life so she can be a good leader and friend for her children. But she should not lose herself in theories or far flung connections, or that which is closest to her will slip through her fingers. Disturbing worries about her closest people often limit her and do not let her rise above her own family, which works as a magic circle; this is her great danger, especially in times which are socially and economically critical.
Because a woman is devoted to the circle of her nearest relations, she also lives mainly in the here-and-now. Again, it is life itself, with its pressing demands, that does not permit her to be overly occupied with what is past or in the future. Her sense of history is as imperfect as her interest in distant male plans for the future. How it once was and how it could be in the future is for her not of too great an interest. That in time all will be good and beautiful is for her a great hope and a beautiful dream, but in no way is it reassuring, nor does it easily reconcile her with the pressing today as is often the case with men. Of course, she thinks about the future, but primarily as an immediate continuation of the present; she is worried about the welfare of her people today, tomorrow and in all eternity. For her, these are primary worries of today. "How can she organize today in such a way that it will always be good for her loved ones?" is the question that concerns her. She is enthusiastic about plans that will improve the world if the result will be that all people and, therefore, also her children are assured of a better life. Beyond that most things become hazy.
This sense for the present makes the woman, in the first place, very able to fulfill her life tasks. However, here again, there are certain hidden dangers. In the sphere of the family, the woman often makes a detour, which makes achieving a higher standard of living more difficult, by holding on anxiously to the security of the existing situation. It is difficult for her to accept the risk of a transition period. Of course, this is not entirely unjustified. Men often have many plans; to devise a plan is always easier than to do the daily work, day in and day out. But outside of the family, when it has to do with social and political changes, the woman is easily seduced by promises of short-term assistance and improvement. She is more skeptical when people promise her a better future after a difficult transition period than if one offers her a wonderful present situation.
Also, in education, the woman can easily go astray because of her sense of the here and now. One always should be able to depend upon the mother. She may overlook the mistakes of a child, but never the child itself. The father represents more the demanding principle. He may like the child very much, but when the child misbehaves, he must not only be against the failings the child, but also keep the child at a distance. Specifically through him, the child has to learn that there are demands and duties. The father instills in the child principles; the mother gives it the heart. The warmth of the mother is what brings the child's heart to unfolding. Her unconditional love, which gives without expecting anything in return, remains stuck in the child's soul and sooner or later carries its fruit. It is probably not an accident that so many of the most famous people had especially good and selfless mothers. When the picture of mother, as she existed for others, remains in one's eyes, one will not go through life without loving others. However, there is a great danger. The education has to be balanced in such a way that the child also understands, in the full warmth of the family, that he is not the only one who exists. He must understand that he also must be there for others, like others are there for him. Love and goodness know no limits; there is never too much mother love. Especially, the mother has to endow the child with her love. If she notices that her type of love is harmful for the child, she should not limit her love, but generate it in such a way that the child does not become spoiled, but develops into a loving human being. She has to remember that people with a spoiled style of life, who believe that they are entitled to everything without being obliged to do anything themselves, are not only difficult for others, but that they themselves also will have difficulties sooner or later. They will forever be trying to find someone who makes everything easy for them. But one never finds a mother twice. Her own loving heart is exactly what too easily tempts the mother to give her child at the least a golden childhood. Many people spoil their present through worries about the future; mothers forget too easily the future beyond the present.
If the woman is conservative, protective, centripetal in her direction, then the man is conquering, more for renovation, and directed centrifugally. The man also starts from life itself, but he soon wants to change this life and its circumstances, and improve it all. Very early he asks the questions, "Does it have to be this way? Can it not be different? How should it be?" Woman is busy with life itself. She constantly takes care of the living. For the man, soon the means and the organization of life become more important than life and the living themselves. He wants to improve the circumstances of life, to make life easier, but the problems of the means to do this soon become more important than the purpose served. The technique of life takes the place of life for him. Problems of improvement, organization, renewal and elevation of life, separate him even more from life. He starts out to acquire something new and better and remains stuck outside, completely satisfied by seeking, driving, pondering problems. He can always step out of the connections of life; pottering and speculation can absorb him fully. "Navigare necesse est vivere non" (Navigation is more important than life), is a typical male sentence. Undoubtedly, for Rome a strong fleet was a question of existence, and without this Rome would have been abandoned to destruction. Thus, navigation was for Rome a life's necessity. Why the addition that life is not necessary? There are certainly situations in which a man must stake his all upon the throw exactly because life itself makes it necessary, because he must defend it and make it worth living.
But often his own ideas tempt man to sacrifice more than is necessary. Everything becomes a goal in itself. If he organizes technology and economics to make life easier, then in a few centuries technology becomes something that is hostile. And the economy, instead of providing people with provisions, will consume both producers and consumers, because the prosperity of the economy becomes the only ideal.
If technology, economics, and the connected sciences evolve from the service to life, then they can become a blessing as long as they hold on to their original task. They can become a curse if they fall into the wrong hands, become independent and alienated from life, serving the striving for power of a few.
The man also starts from life. His first questions have to do with life itself and how can he best serve life. He has more questions: What purpose does life serve? Why, and for which goal does one live? His first questions are vital questions. The question about purpose is directed beyond life itself; it is the question about the meaning of life. As long as we do not ask this question, we consider life as a goal in itself; we accept it as it is and contend ourselves with its pre-determined circular course. By asking the question about the meaning, we demand to know if life itself may not be the total meaning of life or goal in itself, but a means towards something more essential, something that is higher. At the same time, with this question, man lets us know that he not only wants to live, but also wants to accomplish something with this life; that he does not only want to exist, but would like to be here for something good, necessary and important. He is not satisfied with the more or less automatically ending vital processes; all this has to lead to something different, better and higher. Man starts very early seeking a meaning of life and to his own deeper being. All these questions about the meaning of existence concern himself; they are in the last instance identical with the questions, "For what purpose do I exist? What makes life worthwhile? Who am I? How should I be?" The question about the meaning of being a human is not a theoretical question; it has to do with the concrete, real human being. It wants to find a solid base for him and wants to find and give him a meaningful goal. But human thinking takes place in concepts and abstractions, and thus, instead of meaningful goals, the searching human finds abstract ideas and ideals. The greatest danger of the thinking man is that he is inclined to abstractions, and that ideas become more important to him than life itself,and ideals more real than the living human being. As negative as materialism is, which disregards the meaning of life during life, idealism is as dangerous; it forgets man in favor of ideas. There have to be ideas and ideals to show mankind the way to real humanity, but they should not become man-eaters. The ideas of the true, good, and beautiful are means to make people true and good. True and good man, who is delighted about beauty and inspired by it, is the goal, and not the truth, the goodness, and the love. Goodness and love are only available in the same measure as people do good and are able to love. The ideas about justice may not tempt people to the demand, "Fiat justitia, pereat mundus. (Justice shall reign, even when thereby the world will go down)." Religious ideas may not bring people so far as to love only God and not people. Likewise, one may not consider the way one prays to God as more important than God himself. Ideas not only alienate mankind from reality, but also from the humanistic demand.
The fact that man is so estranged from life, his being absorbed in technique and ideas, shows clearly that from the onset he is not rooted in life deeply enough and that especially the strength of his feelings is insufficient. It seems that man can have a reaching interest in the world and people, and that he can try to compare these with each other with great enthusiasm without really loving either. If his ideas will not do, if people do not accept his plans or if they fail, then as far as he is concerned, everything can go to ruin. To him organizing the world and directing people, seem to be more important than the world and people together. The pottering with the world, theoretically and practically, is the main content of his existence. He first has to learn to love life and people, by themselves. His great teacher in these respects is woman.
"A man, beyond whom does not stand the enchanting power of a woman, becomes noncreative, inactive." (Robrindanath Tagore). The interest of man in the world, toward objects and people, is by itself very intense, but of a more theoretical, technical, or dominating nature. He is the homo sapiens, the homo fabian, who eagerly understands, organizes, and also dominates everything; but his relationship to objects and people does not show much feeling, is not originally a loving attitude. This shows all too clearly when his efforts have no success; then his interest is paralysed. His interest is not primarily in what he is doing, but in himself. His own desire for knowledge, and his striving for power and glory press him forward and direct him. What he does, how he keeps himself occupied, is of secondary importance. That is why the man can be occupied in so many different ways and be wrapped up in all kinds of things and activities. Real interest in objects and people, a loving concern for them from the very beginning - and not only after the self-centered joy derived from his success and power - is usually only possible for a man in this world if his world is inspired by a woman. Already as a child the world is shown to him as something living, worthy of his affection, by his mother. But still once more, in his youth, a woman with a close connection to life has to show him the miracle of life so that he can learn to "stand in astonishment" (Plato) of things and beings. A man has affects and emotions, probably more than are good for him and his environment, but the deep, caring feeling of connectedness is only acquired by him through a woman. Once affection has touched him, then he succeeds as a matter of fact - depending on his desire to roam - not only to involve those nearby and those far away, and include the past and future, but also to develop into a state of universal humanity with a deep love for everything and everyone. His task then is, to allow the woman to develop with him, and, thus, to promote interdependency between husband and wife, in order to come to an encouraging and complementary relationship.
Girls are primarily strikingly feeling; boys learn correct feeling only later. And when Lawrence asks, "What is man's eroticism, other than his excitation about the world?" then it is also true that eroticism fills people with enthusiasm about life and the world. Because we are erotic, and because our whole life can take wing, the world and life can delight us. Without our senses and without feelings, our knowledge of the beauty and enormity of creation would remain lifeless knowledge, an empty acknowledging, without enthusiasm
The woman is focused on the other; her being is giving. The redeeming factor of her love is encompassed in the fact that she has someone who needs her, to whom she can give herself with everything she has. For the man, love is the great possibility to rise above himself. From the beginning, the man does not give too much value to life. It is no coincidence that the most important ideals of man throughout several epochs were embodied in the roles of monk, scholar and soldier, men who scorned life and who did not appreciate life and offered it up easily. Mental and physical victories and adventures are the real nature of man. Even so, these men often take their activity and their person, rather than their life, much too seriously. Necessities, needs, and wishes of others are usually not very important for them. The great experience of recognizing another as more important than himself and to act on his own allows him, in most instances, to experience love for the first time. Usually he gets there only through real love - if he is capable of that! Only then does he realize how egocentric he was in his deepest being. He realizes then how he wanted to examine and change everything. Now he sees the essential: Love as a powerful basis for life itself, upon which man, woman and children can live and thrive. The soul must not get lost in abstractions nor concern itself with ideas and definitions which do not have a direct connection with the world and the people, and which ultimately result in sophistry. The woman must understand the male soul, the man must nurture the soul of the woman.
As all things that have to do with feeling, love is also in danger of being enough by itself and not moving out beyond itself. Regardless of all the propelling force of love, all too often nothing essential is accomplished. Like every strong and positive feeling, it delights and exalts -- and then drops again. The same danger that exists in strong art-and-nature experiences, even religious concentration, also exists in love. They press forward, and not only fill one with the strongest feelings, but also with the best intentions and a "sacred-wanting-to." And there it remains. Strong feelings alone are often only temporary. They are overwhelming, but do not last.
Discussion of Creativity
Religion, Philosophy, Art
Pathos and ethos are not enough to realize our real self. We must constantly be reminded of the best in us in order to be able to strive for it. Something has to be realized that was not there before; by us and out of us something new has to originate. But we do not know what this other new thing is. We have to search for it.
To know and recognize what is existent serves the ratio10. Without it, we cannot take one step. How we are, what we need, how we provide for the necessary things, can only be recognized with the help of our rational thinking. To organize human existence without intelligence, wanting to establish it on drives, instincts and feelings alone, is flirting with irrational thinking and doomed to failure.
"The future is not accessible through logic." (N. Berdyaev). Ratio is the means to know what the existing elements and situations are. What has to develop in the future is the domain of the creative spirit. From our state of being, there is no inherited roadmap pointing the way to what we must become. In the world of nature everything develops from what already exists. In the world of the mind the future is the new and different things. What has to develop cannot be deduced from what exists at present, but comes into existence from the old through a jump. The world of human existence is fertilized by an idea, which comes from a different sphere.
Is every idea fruitful? Definitely not. Philosophy is not merely logical and critical thinking. However, it is also not dreaming. Ideas which drive people forward are neither rational conclusions, nor fantasies. They are creative thoughts.
"One who occupies himself only superficially with objects without penetrating more carefully into their being, will not know how to differentiate what is imperfect, in other words, what is not in harmony with the idea, the plan, the shape of it's existence, from what is perfect and in consonance with it's own nature. The real characteristic of the genius is this penetration in the proper nature of objects: He is 'the spirit who surveys the depth of the being.' In his selfless interest in life, in the existence of all objects, he will always direct his attention preferably to what belongs to the main condition of every existence, thus on the idea, on the plan." (H. Türck). Consequently, we can be creative not only in the making of things or objects that do not yet exist, but we can also be creative in respect to concrete objects and living creatures.
10Ratio is a Latin word meaning "reckoning" or "reason," or having to do with reckoning or reason (note added by editor).
A creative attitude means above anything, to be geared to the inner being of things, to make an effort to understand their own laws, the idea on which they are built, and the goal they pursue.
Therefore, the making of a work is not the primary thing in creating, but understanding the deepest rules which constitute the essence of a thing or a living being. If one thus puts together what one understands, then one creates a work. But if one acts in regard to a thing, a living thing, a person, according to his own creatively understood way of functioning, then behavior is creative. If a human makes an effort to understand the proper character, the deepest being of another and acts in accordance with him, he not only acts correctly, but he is also creative. To help someone else to understand and realize himself is creative behavior.
Are there any criteria to establish that the impression we have of the true being of an object or living being is a creative idea, that is to say, is that really the expression of the deepest reality and possibility of its being? "Man makes mistakes as long as he strives." Creating is a risk. Whichever road man takes in his striving to a higher form of humanity, he can approach his ideal final form or miss it.
But this does not mean relativity. Not all ways and all ideas are of the same value. There are ways and ideas which touch the real essence of humans. Everyone sees the forest differently. Nevertheless, the forest is somewhere, there is the reality of the forest, and the more completely one sees this, the more clearly one sees the truth of the wood. Because truth is being in harmony with reality. (Spinosa).
And if we do not know the last truth about man, how he is and how he will develop, even if there are endlessly many aspects for his being, and also endlessly many things that may happen, with all the possibilities, there is one that is the best and the most profound.
Nobody among us is given the absolute truth. But the more creative a human is or acts, the greater the possibility that he discovers ideas which are more adequate in reality.
Those who do not form ideas themselves, but choose from what already exists, are not exempt from free choice. Their road is only easier because of the creations, ideas, and works of the greatest of mankind.
Religion, philosophy, and art are the greatest efforts of mankind to understand the essence of man and his role in creation.
In the Holy Scriptures, in the greatest philosophies, and in the creations of art, the creative ideas of mankind are accumulated as in a treasury, and are available for the individual. Nothing is more essential than serious interest in them, in order to better understand the essence of man.
There is special meaning in the fact that around the turn of the century man could not do anything with the Holy Scriptures, for philosophy had only a pitiful smile, and art served him only as amusement.
He who, next to daily worries and worldly interest, wants to be connected with eternal values, cannot exist without intimate association with the great creations of the human mind.
"For the band between God and man .....is unbreakable." Thomas Mann
"To destroy God means to destroy man." (Dostoyevsky-Berdyaev). Atheism is the precursor of Nihilism. Without religious connectedness, Humanism also doesn't last. "There is something wrong with him who says that he loves God but does not love man, because he pretends to possess something impossible." (M.Buber). To love God and not his creatures is not true devotion. In the great religions themselves, humanistic and anti-humanistic tendencies grapple with each other. (See W.G. Rüssel and B. Croce)
We must purify our Humanism with religiousness, and our religion with Humanism. To have a religion does not yet mean to be religious. Really religious and a true humanist is he who means God because he serves man.
"What must I do?" remains as the question which man will always ask. In every situation and for every task, this question will be asked and a response given. Man always chooses from different possibilities, and regardless of help and support, as well as threat and coercion, his decision takes place in final freedom and in final insecurity. Even so, when he acts according to his best knowledge and conscience, he shall never be quite sure that his action is correct and will lead to the right objective.
Even if in each separate case he may remain insecure, if he must doubt what is the right way, the deepest meaning of his whole existence, nevertheless, has been clearly impressed upon him. Thus, eternally remain the proud and frightening questions of mankind, "For what am I here?" and "What should I be?" But the answer given to him is also eternal and final:
"You shall be a blessing." (Genesis XII, 2)
That is the startling and enjoyable demand put to him and under which he stands.
"You shall be a blessing." More you cannot be as a human. Do not be satisfied with less. May your spirit be watchful, your heart restless.
Alfred Adler Austrian psychiatrist 1870-1937
Leo Baeck German Theologican 1873-1956
Nickolai Berdyaev Russian religious philosopher 1874-1948
Martin Buber Israeli theologian, philosopher 1878-1965
Benedetto Croce Italian philosopher 1866-1952
Fyodor Dostoyevski Russian novelist 1821-1881
Ilya Ehrenburg Russian novelist & journalist 1891-1967
Hans Freyer German sociologist 1887-1969
Horace Latin Poet 65-8 B.C.
José Ortega y Gasset Spanish philosopher 1883-1955
Johann W. von Goethe German poet & philosopher 1749-1832
Martin Heidegger German philosopher 1889-1976
Immanuel Kant German philosopher 1724-1804
Ernst Jahn Lutheran minister
Krishnamurti Indian philosopher 1895-1986
Fritz Künkel German psychiatrist 1889-1956
Sören Kierkkegaard Danish theologian 1813-1855
Gotthold E. Lessing German dramatist 1729-1781
Karl Marx German journalist 1818-1893
Dimitri Merezhkovsky Russian novelist 1865-1941
S. Moricz-Goethe Existentialist
Multatuli Dutch writer 1820-1887
Apostle Paul Christian missionary ?10–65/67
Plato Athenian philospher 428-348 B.C.
Rainer Maria Rilke German poet 1875-1926
Max Scheler German social philospher 1874-1928
Werner Sombart German economic historian 1863-1955
Benedict Spinoza Dutch philospher 1632-1677
Rabindranath Tagore Hindu philosopher & poet 1861-1941
Paul Tillich American theologian 1886-1965
Miguel de Unamuno Spanish writer 1864-1936 >br>
Franz Werfel Austrian poet & novelist 1890-1945
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