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Thinking in Opposites
An investigation of the nature of man
as revealed by the nature of thinking

by Paul Roubiczek

Part II:

Chapter 7


Paul Roubiczek Paul Roubiczek Paul Roubiczek

Section 1


We have seen that, to make internal reality real for us, we have to subordinate external reality to ourselves. The influence of the observer can no longer be eliminated; on the contrary, only if we establish a relationship between external reality and ourselves are we able to discover internal reality at all.

The internal opposites which serve this purpose must in the nature of things conform to these conditions. They are, therefore, completely different from the external 'opposites'. (Compare Chapter 5, Section 2, paragraph 2.) They are not derived from external facts, but seem to be created solely by our thinking, for they refer, not to something which we could consider as existing independently of our thought, but to our intentions, or to ideas and ideals, or to inner experiences. Their dependence on the observer, moreover, finds its expression in their being dependent on each other; as they have no equivalent in external reality, but are created as opposites by thinking, we must apply either both their parts or none. If one part is taken away, the other becomes meaningless. There is no sense in talking of means, for instance, if there are no ends to be achieved with their help; we cannot talk of badness or ugliness unless we also acknowledge the idea of the good or beautiful; nothing can be seen as an aim if there is no intention of striving for it. This dependence on each other seems strongly to confirm that these opposites are nothing but our own creation and that they do not refer to anything which has an independent existence of its own.

Nor is it impossible, in this case, arbitrarily to alter the relationship between the two parts of the opposites; on the contrary, they change places according to the point of view from which we happen to look at them. We can view a means and its end with different purposes in mind or judge deeds by the application of different standards, and this can lead to an interchange of the two parts within the same opposition. For the army, for instance, the production of iron is the means which makes armament possible; for the businessman the armament is the means which makes the production of iron possible. For the follower of heroic ideals it is good to kill one's enemy and bad not to resist evil; for the Christian killing is bad and non-resistance good. The relationship always depends on our way of establishing it.

The dependence and the possibility of interchange within these pairs of opposites are the reason why it seems so easy to dismiss internal reality as non-existent. But their examination soon discloses that here, too, we are dealing with an aspect of primary reality which is as real as external reality, and that the internal opposites play the same part in our grasping of this reality as the external opposites in the apprehension of external reality. Just as the external opposites are not entirely independent of our thinking, the internal opposites are not entirely dependent on it.

We can hardly consider internal opposites as arbitrary creations of our mind because, first of all, we are compelled to apply them. We have to achieve certain practical ends to be able to live, and this necessity forces us incessantly to impose certain ends upon external reality and to find the means to achieve what we must achieve. It is true that this takes place mainly in the realm of external reality, but we have to apply internal opposites to be able to perform this task. It is the simplest way of establishing a relationship between external reality and ourselves, and just because it still refers mainly to external reality, this opposition can do most to help us to recognize the difference between the two kinds of opposites.

The opposition between a means and its end is similar to that between a cause and its effect. There seems to be only a small difference. When we progress from a cause to its effect, we are led from the past to the present or future, for the effect follows the cause. The end represents a future event, but it also becomes, by awakening our intention of achieving it, the cause of our activity. It is true that we are led this time from the future to the present or to the past; nevertheless, the end seems to be just another kind of cause which lies ahead.

There, however, the similarity ends, for the different nature of the internal opposites becomes visible at once. If we discover, for instance, that the force of gravity causes the falling of the stone, this discovery is either correct or not; we can discover a cause once and for all and cannot choose between different causes at will. To achieve our end, however, we can normally choose between different means and our choice has no final validity; every alteration in the circumstances will influence it. The idea of the force of gravity, moreover, is quite foreign to that of valuing; but to make the right choice between different means we have to value them. If we want light in our rooms, we can probably choose between candles, gas-light and electric light; we shall try to choose the most appropriate, and to be able to do this, we shall have to recognize that each of them is of different value for our purpose. But every new invention or change of price will force us to revise our judgment. The introduction of a future element implies the possibility of constant choice.

Now it could seem that our judgment is still entirely based on external facts, for we can find out, if necessary with the help of experiments, which means serves its purpose best. There are scales of degrees worked out by scientists which indicate with scientific exactitude the suitability of certain means, for instance that of metals for different functions. In such cases it seems possible, therefore, to make values largely independent of the observer. But this is in fact true only within narrow limits, and this limitation is entirely dependent on our intentions. We can find out by tests how to get the brightest light, but we do not always want this; we probably choose it for our study or for the factory, but we dim it in our sitting-room, and for the Christmas tree or on other festive occasions we may prefer candles and value them most highly, despite the ascertained highest practical value of electric light. As we are still moving within the realm of external reality, external qualities play their part, but they do so only within the scales of values; the choice of the scale itself depends entirely on our intentions. External reality remains subordinated to man.

But are we not able to discover the relationship between means and ends also in external reality itself, where there is no connection with man, and does this not prove that this opposition can be independent of the observer? Biology, for instance, can hardly dispense with these terms. The feeding of many insects serves to fertilize flowers; organs are developed to satisfy certain needs; plants and animals adapt themselves to their surroundings. In all these cases the end has not been imposed upon external reality by man; we cannot even talk of a conscious intention; yet neither can we assume a mere coincidence.

In fact, however, none of these instances can wipe out the difference between external and internal opposites. It is no accident that the biologists strive to exclude teleological thinking from their science and try to introduce causality wherever possible. It seems probable to-day that they cannot completely succeed in this; ends and means have still to be presupposed to enable us to explain certain proceses which otherwise would remain inexplicable. But whether or not teleological thinking can be dismissed, it is certain that biology can only become an exact science if and in so far as causality can be applied. The introduction of ends, even if seen in the past—as a cause of organs, for instance, which have developed—creates an element of uncertainty just because these internal opposites cannot be made completely independent of the observer.

To understand the reason for this uncertainty, we must clearly distinguish between conclusions based on the transferring of concepts from internal reality and those based on analogies.

The transferring of the constructive concepts from internal to external reality takes place, as we have show, without any conscious effort on our part; we cannot help applying such concepts as 'cause' and 'effect' and discover only afterwards—if at all—that they have been derived from our knowledge of internal reality. They appear to us at first as an objective knowledge of processes within external reality; it needs an effort to realize that they belong to the laws of our thinking. As they have been completely adapted to the other reality, they become the indispensable basis of our knowledge; they belong to the working of our mind and we cannot remove them without endangering its functioning.

Analogies, on the other hand, though often very useful for our approach to phenomena which we could not otherwise approach, show that we are applying knowledge, acquired in another field, to a sphere in which it can be neither acquired nor tested. We consciously apply terms and experiences to facts with which we cannot prove that they are connected; the derivation of the attributes of God from human qualities is the most common example. Teleological thinking, too, is based on such analgoies. In the instances mentioned we interpret biological processes in human terms—organs have been developed to satisfy certain needs—but remain aware all the time that the application of terms derived from our intentional behaviour to processes which lack intentions may not be justified. Hence the attempt to replace this interpretation by causal laws. As it is quite impossible to approach the working of nature from inside, all external signs and symptoms have to be interpreted with the help of such analogies from internal reality. But this also makes all these interpretations arbitrary—an unmistakable indication that we have not applied the laws of our thinking correctly. No such arbitrariness is attached to the constructive concepts. Analogies, therefore, can never be completely justified in the realm to which they are applied; they remain expedients, very good expedients sometimes, but cannot claim to establish certain external knowledge. Thus, however, they can never prove that the opposition between means and ends exists independently of the observer.

We have seen that to start from the future is essential for the grasping of internal reality. (See Chapter 3, Section 2, paragraph 18.) At first sight, the difference between causes and ends seems slight, for both cause events, and yet it is impossible to start from the future when we want reliably to apprehend external reality. The seemingly small difference indicates fundamental divergencies.

There are indeed further differences between external and internal opposites which become obvious in the opposition between means and ends, even though this opposition still mainly refers to external reality.

We have just mentioned that the usefulness of means can sometimes be tested by experiments, and that there are scales of degrees of certain practical values which can be applied with scientific exactitude. Does it really matter that the actual application of these scales depends on our intentions? Is there any fundamental difference between these experiments and scales and other scientific discoveries? Other experiments, after all, also serve a certain purpose, and the certainty achieved with the two kinds of experiments seems the same. Yet the fundamental difference becomes obvious here, too, for contradictory scales of values exist side by side and their contradictions raise no problem. They remain independent of each other.

Naturally, we can look at certain external processes from different points of view and different scientific explanations can exist side by side without our being able to bridge the gap between them. We can, for instance, explain processes in the human body in physical, chemical, physiological and even psychological ways. But the mere coexistence of these explanations raises a problem; the scientists try to find a unitary explanation. The problem, moreover, becomes urgent if there are contradictions, for this always proves that the two contradictory theories cannot both be correct. There exist complete contradictions, for instance, between the view of the physiologist, who regards processes in the body as causing effects in the mind, and that of the psychologist, who regards processes in the mind as causes of disturbances in the body. But such complete contradictions merely prove that no satisfactory results have yet been achieved. No such contradictions could be left in existence in one special branch of science; there the scientists cannot rest until they have solved them.

Internal opposites, as we have just said, can change their places within the same opposition, and thus these contradictions are the natural rule in the sphere of valuation, even if we are dealing with the same kind of objects from a very similar point of view. When, after the introduction of electric light, the value of candles for the purpose of lighting is reduced, their price may nevertheless go up, because less candles than before are being produced. Electric light, the most valuable means of lighting, may at the same time be the cheapest. The same things can take opposite places in different scales of values; for lighting purposes, candles are of value, but diamonds valueless; yet if we consider their worth in money, diamonds are certainly more valuable. They are also valuable if we want to cut glass, but valueless if we want to cut wood. The scientific scale of the values of metals for certain purposes may be completely reversed by the introduction of a different end. But no such contradiction invalidates or even endangers any scale of values, for they depend entirely on the purpose which they serve, and the different scales remain valid for the different purposes.

There are, of course, attempts to unify these different scales of values, too, and at least one of these attempts, the creation of money, has been very successful. Diamonds are, in fact, no longer useless for any practical purpose, for we can most probably sell them and acquire with the money we receive a great quantity of other means, of candles or electric bulbs or whatever we need. but this unification, though of great practical importance, is nothing more. On the one hand, the unification cannot be compared with that in the realm of science, for it remains artificial, dependent as it is on a general recognition which can be withheld, for instance, when the currency of a country is inflated or not accepted in others, and it is shaken by every political and economic disturbance. On the other hand, despite its almost general acceptance, its sphere remains limited. Usefuness for a special purpose must still be decided in other terms and need not have any connection with the price. Air costs nothing, bread is cheap and perfectly superfluous things can be most expensive. We need not even think of truth, goodness and beauty or of personal relationships, to all of which this scale of values does not apply; money expresses none of those qualities which directly serve a definite purpose. Nor can any other unification bring about a comprehensive unity.

Thus, however, this opposition between means and ends, although it represents only the first step into the realm of internal opposites and still mainly refers to external reality, is already most important for our grasping of internal reality. It covers external reality with a net of relationships which make this reality accessible by a quite different approach; by including the same objects in many different scales of values, these objects are made amenable, so to speak, to a different kind of treatment. The resistance of external reality is gradually broken down; the facts are prepared in such a way that we can use them within the context of a different kind of thinking and change them into that form which we need for grasping their content. Nor can we remain satisfied with this first step; as all values depend on our intentions, they must lead to a consideration of these intentions and thus we are necessarily driven on to recognize more and more of internal reality. That we are inevitably forced to use means to achieve ends implies, therefore, that we are forced to progress from external to internal reality.

This can also be seen when we remember the way in which abstraction makes external reality accessible. It creates relationships which cut right across this reality and almost represent the creation of a different world. (See Chapter 5, Section 2, paragraph 16.) These relationships make external reality simpler than it really is; they enable us to apply the laws of our thinking, so that we can grasp this reality more easily and more reliably. By eliminating from our thinking the complicated details of the concrete objects and events and the differences between them, they enable us to concentrate on their common qualities and forms. The net cast over external reality by the different scales of values could be mistaken for such an abstract pattern; but it is, in fact, completely different. It makes external reality far more complicated than it could appear from any external point of view; as every single object or event can find its place in different scales, the differentiations are not eliminated, but multiplied; the concrete details are stressed and increased by their manifold connections with different values. Clearly, if we want to discover order in this sphere, we can no longer restrict our attention to external reality alone; we must start from internal reality, for it is there that we can deal with our intentions and find the principles which determine the different scales of values.

It is true that our thinking can always take a wrong turn; we are able to escape any compulsion, even if it appears as an inescapable necessity when we consider the working of our minds from outside. But that the necessity exists can easily be seen, for, if we neglect or do not recognize it, we are bound to come to wrong conclusions. In this case, we need not become conscious of what theses simple kinds of internal opposites already imply; we can neglect valuation and thus halt our progress towards internal reality. But as, nevertheless, we must value, this is clearly wrong and means that we are overlooking facts. The net of which we have spoken is closely interconnected with the wealth of different feelings; its purpose can be frustrated if we develop our feelings in a different way. Yet we shall consider the possible disturbances of this progress later; first we want to show where the natural consequences of this first step in the application of the internal opposites lead.

Paul Roubiczek Paul Roubiczek Paul Roubiczek Paul Roubiczek

Section 2


The discussion of the—still rather external—opposition between means and ends has already forced us to refer to intentions. That this implies that we cannot restrict our attention to external reality, but have to proceed towards internal reality, can be seen when we consider the following example.

Let us assume that there are four people who want to earn money. They are businessmen, applying exactly the same methods, and yet their intentions are completely different. The first wants to earn money in order to become rich; he is attracted by money as such, because it seems to guarantee his own worth; though he hardly knows how to use it, the increasing figures in his bank account give him intense pleasure. The second wants money to be able to build up an industrial enterprise; he wants to create something; he is interested in his factory and in the increase and improvement of his production. The third wants money to enable him to live a leisurely life later; money should secure him freedom from drudgery; he wants to become independent with its help, to enjoy life, to follow his inclinations.The fourth does not want anything for himself, but needs money to be able to help others; he wants to do what he considers as good.

Now the opposition between means and ends cannot help us to recognize the differences between these four men. Each of them has to value things and actions according to their ability to help him in earning money; none of them can remain satisfied with inadequate profits; all have to do something which provides them with a surplus in money. To achieve their aims, they have to make a quite considerable profit, and so they have to apply the methods which guarantee a profit. We could perhaps say that, for the first, money represents an end in itself, while, for the three others, it is only a means of achieving other ends. But this does not show the differences between the three others, nor is it quite satisfactory to describe the wishes of the first, for he wants the money because it gives him pleasure. It is only when we consider their intentions that the differences between them can be clearly recognized and stated.

This example is important in several respects.

(1) It shows that it is useful to distinguish between the concepts 'means' and 'end' on the one hand and 'intention' and 'aim' on the other more clearly than is usually done. In the common usage of these words we can say (as we have just tried) that the one end (the earning of money) becomes the means to another end (the gaining of freedom); we can also say that it is our intention to earn money and that the means serves our intention, and there is hardly any clear-cut difference between 'intention' and 'aim', though these two concepts obviously ought to mean something different. This common usage would make it rather difficult to describe the processes of thought which we have in mind. We shall, therefore, use these concepts in the following ways:

(a) The opposition between means and ends will be used to refer to external reality, and its main characteristic, therefore, will be that it depends only to a small degree on our personal choice. We can choose the end, but once we have chosen it we are very restricted in the choice of means, and the limits of our choice are determined by external reality. If we want light, we have to choose means which can produce it; we cannot expect stones to burn. There are, of course, different means of different value for achieving the same end, and we can choose between them according to the special end we aim at—electric light for the study, candles for the Christmas tree. But the choice remains dependent on the ability of the means to serve our end.

(b) We shall talk of intentions where the personal element determines the choice completely, and therefore we can use this concept only when referring to the choice of ends. The concept 'end' points backwards to the choice of the means; the concept 'intention' refers to the choice of an end for the sake of a further purpose and thus points forwards to a more comprehensive aim.

(c) The differentiation between 'end' and 'aim' is less definite. There is, as it were, a sliding scale of ends and aims: we want light in the evening because we want to work; we want to work because we want to earn money; we want money because we want to be rich; we want to be rich, because we want to live a life of leisure. The freedom of choice, too, can be of a different degree; we can hardly help wanting light in the evening, but it depends on us whether or not we want a life of leisure. In all these cases we shall talk of an end when we restrict our attention to the limited practical purpose and want to find means which enable us to achieve it; we shall talk of an aim when we refer to the intention which subordinates this end to a more comprehensive purpose or when we leave the sphere of limited practical purpose altogether. In the instances mentioned, light is only an end, work and money can be either ends or aims, according to the point of view from which we look at them, and to be rich and to live a life of leisure are only aims.

(d) Intentions and aims are similar in so far as both are based on plans for the future. The differentiation between them will be used to isolate the final and essential goal of our intentions from all other elements. We want light in order to work, work in order to earn money, money for a life of leisure—all this is our intention, but the aim is only a life of leisure. The intention refers to the whole process (to become rich in such a way), the aim to the result (to be rich); it indicates the farthest point which thinking reaches. The two can be distinguished because they can be independent of each other. When I can do my work in daylight, I no longer need artificial light; when I become rich by an unexpected inheritance, my intentions will vanish because I have reached the aim, although I could not intend to become rich in this way; and I may also act exactly according to my intentions and yet go bankrupt instead of becoming rich. We have seen before that the aim is largely independent of my intentions and that this fact is very important for our grasping of internal reality, (See Chapter 3, Section 1, paragraphs 8-12) and we shall see later why it is important to transform their difference into a clear opposition. For the time being it is sufficient to understand their difference.

(2) The example also shows that we cannot remain satisfied with the scale of values which express the relationship between means and ends, but have to introduce other values as well—an extension which gradually forces us to include more and more of internal reality. For we have to make the following value-judgments:

(a) We have to value the means according to their suitability for the end.

(b) We must choose the ends as well and therefore value them according to their ability to conform to our intentions.

(c) Different intentions can lead to the same aim, and thus we have to decide which intention is the best.

(d) We have to choose between different aims, which needs a scale of values which appolies to them.

(e) Different scales of values may be applicable to the same endeavour and we have, therefore, to value these scales themselves. We have to decide which of the different standards we want to accept.

(3) We have to refer to feeling, for the reasons why the four men made different choices cannot be explained by thinking alone. They may well believe that they can justify their decisions intellectually, but obviously they must have been influenced by feeling.

It would be useful if we could add here a definition of the concept 'value'. Unfortunately, it belongs to those basic concepts which cannot be defined, but we hope that we are gradually elucidating it by our investigation.

Let us now consider, in the light of what we have just said, the necessity of creating more scales of values.

If our interest is mainly concentrated on external reality, we may try to stick to the scale of values determined by the opposition between means and ends. We are attracted by things and practical acheivements; ideas and beliefs seem rather vague to us and so we try to value everything according to its usefulness. But even so we cannot restrict our valuation to the means; we have to choose ends as well. They are not simply given, for we have to decide what we want to be achieved; they have to be imposed upon external reality. Then, however, the question arises: what do we consider as useful? A wireless set is certainly a most ingenious means which serves its end with astonishing efficiency, but is the end itself useful? And if so, which of the uses we make of it constitutes its usefulness—transmitting news or entertainment? And if entertainment, then which kind, and why is such pleasure useful? Whether we want or not, we have to apply further scales of values to be able to decide what we consider as useful. We are driven onwards to value the ends according to our intentions.

Now we could try to say that we have this or that intention and that this arbitrary decision finally determines our concept of usefulness. But we cannot really stop there. The four men want to become rich and so they could consider as useful what makes them rich. But there are several ways open of becoming rich. They can try to work hard, or they can try their hand on the stock-exchange or rely on betting, or they can marry a rich woman, or they can steal and murder, and so on. These different possibilities can no longer be judged in terms of mere usefulness; one man may work hard and remain poor all his life, and the other may become rich by a stroke of luck. Each of them may defend his decision as logically the most useful one, but we shall be aware all the time that he is, in fact, following his inclinations or, if he is working despite different inclinations, that he is following certain conventions or standards. Feeling will play its part in determining his scale of values and moral decisions can hardly be avoided; even if he himself disregards morals, we shall be unable to do so.

A similar process takes place when we include the aims in our consideration. The four men want to become rich in order to achieve something else; even the first wants to get pleasure with the help of his money. Again, their ways of reaching these aims are not the only ones. The first, when he has become rich, may recognize that he has become a slave to his money; to live a simple life might have served his purpose better, he ought to have recognized what is really pleasurable and what not. The second tries to become an industrialist, but he might have had better opportunities as a manager of a big firm; his desire for personal freedom misled him. The third will perhaps never feel able to retire and could have achieved his purpose better by leading a different life altogether; his standards of an aesthetically pleasing or dignified life have been wrong. The fourth may find it increasingly doubtful whether it is possible to reconcile business methods with his moral intentions; he might have helped others better by developing his personality, by becoming a doctor, by devoting himself to a religious task. all of them may find that selfishness has played too large a part in their decisions and that they ought to have considered the true meaning of life. The scale of values based on usefulness will be left far behind. We have to add to the many scales of values based on the relationships between means and ends a great number of quite different scales which are far more abstract.

These further scales no longer refer to qualities of external things which can be tested by experiments, but to abstract principles. It is true that judgments as to what is dignified or good can also be due to impressions or sudden impulses, but if we want to base upon them intentions and aims which help us decide how to live, we have to develop general principles so as to derive from them scales of values which we can always apply. Even usefulness does not simply represent the concrete relationship between special means and the definite end which they serve, but an abstraction from this relationship, transformed into a principle. Beauty, which perhaps represents the other extreme, is most dependent on actual impression, but the artist has to be conscious of principles to be able to embody it, and the philosophers, too, have throughout the ages exerted themselves to establish aesthetic principles.

Principles represent another attempt to make clear what values mean. In this case, we do not bestow the values upon something which can represent them, but try to develop their abstract side; we try to discover what kind of relationships, actions and results the meaning of these concepts implies. By stating what the value demands from us and from that upon which it is bestowed, we hope to find laws, such as moral laws, which can guide us in our endeavour to make the values real. We shall return to these principles in a moment; the fact that we use them is certainly obvious without further investigation.

These principles are bound to drive the process of valuing further onwards. As they are based on the meaning of the values, they must have a close relationship to internal reality, and as they represent an attempt to establish laws, they must make it conscious. We are led to seek a firm basis for our valuations within internal reality. Thus, however, we shall no longer be able to stop before we have definitely reached those basic values which we have already touched, namely, truth, goodness and beauty—that is, the values which are called absolute because they are the only ones which can give us absolute certainty and because, while the other values depend on them, they do not depend on any further ones.

That this cannot be avoided can be seen when we imagine that one man has to choose between the aims which, up to now, we have ascribed to four different people. There are no longer any external elements to help him make up his mind, nor can he establish any further aim by which to judge these aims. If he does not want to hover in the air, he will have to find and to apply principles, and he will also have to consider absolute values. He may try to keep his feet firmly on the earth and want everything to be of advantage to him; but what is his advantage? He wants to be happy. But what is happiness, what kind of happiness does he want? Does he want to be able to use things and men just as he likes, in order to fulfil every wish which happens to occur to him? But this implies human relationships and certain standards which go with such relationships. It needs at least mutual trust, and complete trust between people is hardly possible without the absolute values. As other people confront us with their independent will-power, we can only fully trust them if they are subject to the same unconditional standards as we are. (See H.H. Farmer, The World and God, pp. 19-21) The man himself may be aware neither of the principles nor of these values, but they still pervade his way of valuing all the same, and we have to be aware of them if we want to understand his behaviour.

In fact he cannot avoid valuing different scales of values and deciding which to apply. He may be very much attracted by merely following his whims, but his conscience, or respect for generally accepted rules, or fear of behaving unconventionally, oppose this wish. His decision—a decision which hardly anybody can avoid—will imply further valuing; so long as he merely folows his whims he values everything in accordance with them, but the whims themselves are not being valued; when he decies that he will rather follow his whims than subordinate himself to another principle, he values them and his selfishness more highly than anything else. He will see the different scales of values which different ways of behaviour presuppose. He may act against his better knowledge and follow his whims although he feels that he ought to behave better, but then he obviously know that there are higher standards than his. Nor will it be possible to make this decision once for all; his better knowledge will make itself felt again, and so his activity of valuing will be further increased and refined. He will even become conscious of the absolute values.

As the same aims, moreover, can spring from different intentions, they also force us to test whether our valuation has been correct. The wish of the first man to become rich can be purely selfish, or he may not want to become a burden to others; the fourth man may wish to do good for its own sake, or he may wish in this way to acquire a good reputation or a better social position. These contradictory motives may also struggle against each other in his mind; we are rarely able, even if we want to do good for its own sake, to overlook the practical advantages which this may produce for us. There are what Dostoevsky has called the 'double motive'. (The Idiot, Everyman Ed., p. 298.) We have, therefore, to confront our aims with our intentions, for only if we discover our real intentions are we able to value our aims correctly. That is one of the reasons why we have to establish an opposition between intntions and aims; we shall see further reasons later. This test ensures that we do not interrupt the progress of our valuation.

It is true that intentions and aims can also agree completely, but even then the 'double motives' will make themselves felt. They work both ways. It is hardly possible that, on our way to achieve purely selfish aims, we shall never experience moral impulses or be confronted with moral principles, nor that we remain entirely untouched by beauty and truth, and it is even less probable that a moral endeavour, even if it is really unselfish, will never have to struggle against selfishness. We shall experience internal opposites which contradict each other, which will make us conscious of the principles underlying them, and if we have to choose between contradictory principles, we shall require some reference to absolute values. The valuation of the different scales of values, to which the decision between different principles leads, will have to be based on these values. The mere fact that selfishness is bad, whereas a proper regard for one's own person is not, is puzzling enough to give us no rest before we have tried to understand goodness.

There is no escape—unless our thinking takes a completely wrong turn. As soon as we enter upon valuation, which we are unable to avoid, we shall also be unable to stop the progress of valuation. We have to perform practical tasks, we have intentions and aims, and this makes it necessary for us to apply a constantly increasing number of scales of values, so that we are forced to pay greater and greater attention to internal reality. Finally we have even to include the absolute values which are, as we shall see, among the purest manifestations of this reality.

The last examples also show that we have to acknowledge the existence of internal reality, for the agreement or disagreement between our intentions and the principles can only be tested by feeling and inner experience. We can transform the principles into a set of rules or even laws; there are different codes of behaviour for soldiers and for businessmen; there are moral laws; artists and philosophers try to find aesthetic laws. We shall have to say more about this too. But even laws are not sufficient to throw into relief the discrepancy between intentions and principles; we may act in complete accordance with the moral laws and our motives may yet be quite immoral. We have to know our intentions from inside. The case can be rather complicated; we ourselves can be perfectly convinced that we act morally and yet discover afterwards hidden selfish motives. Any such discovery can only be made with the help of feeling and inner experiences. All this shows that internal reality has indeed an existence independent of ourselves and that our inner experiences, though they have to be ours, disclose an aspect of primary reality. Such a discovery can be very painful, we may very much hate to make it and try by all means to escape it, and yet we are forced to make it, because internal reality does not depend on our intentions or wishes.

All the different scales of values and all internal opposites help to make internal reality accessible. The net cast over external reality, of which we have spoken, is not destroyed by the more abstract values; on the contrary, these form, so to speak, more and narrower meshes which conform more and more closely to the fabric of internal reality. None of these further scales of values make the others superfluous; if we apply moral standards, for instance, the scale which helped us in lighting our rooms remains completely untouched; earning our living, if it does not infringe these principles, also remains outside; we still have to judge usefulness in its own terms and pleasure and pain need not have anything to do with morals. The difficulties which always arise when we try to establish a definite relationship between morality and beauty or truth show clearly that these values, too, are largely independent of each other. The different scales may clash and then we have to decide which value is the more important, but there are vast regions where they cannot clash. All the internal opposites develop the wealth of different feelings which make internal reality real for us—so real that we can no longer doubt its existence.

When we finally have to value the different scales of values, we can, it is true, establish a certain order and derive from this valuation a hierarchy of values. This is a very important basis for making the right decisions; since different scales of values exist, we cannot dispense with this hierarchy. Our lives are determined by the order of values which we accept. But even such a hierarchy does not fundamentally alter the situation so far as it concerns the wealth of feelings and the variety of different scales, for there is no single scale of values which could comprise all the others. Otherwise it would not be so difficult to define the relationship between morals and beauty or truth. When we discuss the dangers which beset valuation, we shall see that an artificial unity in this sphere is as dangerous as the unitary explanation of external reality. The hierarchy must not destroy the single scales, and no hierarchy can define the rank of all possible scales.

Thus, however, another problem arises, or rather recurs. The internal opposites, after all, should not only help us to grasp internal reality, but also to grasp it reliably. We have had to refer increasingly to feelings, but they can be very misleading, and we have said before that the internal opposites are needed to safeguard the right development of feeling. As we are carried towards the absolute values, we have to develop feeling as an organ of knowledge. Yet if the different scales of values remain independent of each other to such a degree that not even a hierarchy of values can be all-embracing, how can they help us to discover the right kind of valuation? To work out clear oppositions may help to apply the single scales more correctly; but how can we know that we are applying the right scale? Our claim, however, that internal reality has an existence independent of ourselves should certainly mean, too, that there are ways of recognizing whether or not we feel, think and act in accordance with the true nature of this reality.

But we have not yet covered the whole range of internal opposites.

Paul Roubiczek Paul Roubiczek Paul Roubiczek

Section 3


We have stated that there are several conditions which must be fulfilled if we want to grasp internal reality.

(1) We have a knowledge of the content which is fundamentally very definite, but we cannot seize it properly so long as it is entirely confined to internal reality. To bring out what we really know, we have to find an expression for it; we have to give it an external form which we can grasp. To understand goodness, for instance, we have to recognize that something or somebody is good.

(2) All such knowledge must be our own, so that internal reality can completely pervade the form and change it fully into the expression of our inner knowledge and experience. Only thus can we make sure that the form will not remain empty, but really contain a living content. We have said several times that abstract statements or mere rules are insufficient in this sphere. (See Chapter 6, paragraphs 1-3, and also J. Oman, The Natural and the Supernatural, p. 316.) We have said, too, that internal reality can only be made real for us if we constantly experience it anew, which also means that it must be our own experience.

(3) Despite this last condition, however, we have had to stress that there is a contradictory element of anticipation. Only if we know what to expect shall we recognize it when we meet it. Although, for instance, we realize the meaning of the good only when we experience it, we must, even if we meet it for the first time, have some knowledge of it, to be able to recognize it at all. We have also to anticipate the future, for this has to enable us to fulfil a further condition of the grasping of internal reality—that we must have a full experience of the present. (See Chapter 3, Section 2, paragraphs 16-20.)

These conditions are fulfilled by those internal opposites which are formed by the constructive concepts transferred from external reality. We shall again discuss first their fruitful application and return later to their possible distortions.

The first step in the application of the internal opposites is that of the constructive concepts 'means' and 'end', they prepare external reality in such a way that the first condition just mentioned can be fulfilled and external reality used to express internal reality.

The first step is very significant, for it points to an important difference in the functioning of the constructive concepts in the two realities. In external reality, we start from the actual impressions which are gradually made intelligible by the simultaneous application of abstraction and the constructive concepts. In our consideration of internal opposites, we have had to apply these concepts right from the beginning; we have to start from them because we can never approach internal reality without using external elements and thus we have first to know how to transform them before they can disclose internal reality. These applications of the constructive concepts are therefore different. In external reality we are transferring concepts derived from our knowledge of internal reality and using them as such. In internal reality we are using the external elements as such, and the constructive concepts explain how we are using them. We apply them to external reality and then transfer, not the concepts themselves, but the external elements which have been transformed by them.

To give an example—the opposites 'means' and 'end' create, as we have seen, a relationship which is similar to that between cause and effect, but their application is completely different. The concepts 'cause' and 'effect', though they have to be applied to actual events, are also important in themselves for external reality, for they have, apart from their application, so much significance of their own that we can progress from them to the causal laws; we employ abstractions to exclude the real things more and more, in order to be able to deal in general with the relationships between causes and effects as such. In internal reality, no such abstraction would serve any important purpose; the concepts 'means' and 'end' have to be applied to external reality to acquire meaning. We can derive from them, it is true, the principle of usefulness, but its significance cannot be compared with that of causality; while causality is one of our main helps in grasping external reality, usefulness hovers in the air unless we confine it to a quite definite and limited practical sphere; otherwise it merely forces us to progress to other principles which, in their turn, show similar short-comings. Cause and effect, moreover, though they are derived from internal reality, need no further reference to it and even exclude it; the constructive concepts 'means' and 'end' teach us how to transform external reality so as to be able to include it in internal reality, but they do not make it superfluous to add the external elements themselves. In this case we have had to discuss not only the abstract concepts, but the particular means and ends as such.

The second main step in the application of internal opposites consisted in the creation of principles. These principles have a peculiar position within the realm of the constructive concepts, and so we have to consider them at greater length.

Most of the principles are concerned with our actions, and thus they borrow their form from external events. We explain the principle by creating a necessary relationship between cause and effect. It is true that principles cannot claim the general validity of natural laws, for we can choose between them; they do not say what will happen, but what we ought to do. Yet within the range of the principle itself, necessity is nevertheless established. We make the assumption which is needed to introduce the principle—if you want to be successful, if you want to be considered a 'gentlmean', if you want to act morally—and then claim that, according to the principle, in such and such a situation this or that action must be performed. The principle represents the law, the situation the cause, and our action the necessary effect. We can also, as in external reality, gain a deeper knowledge which shifts the cause further back; as our actions are caused by intentions and as the principle is applied because we want to stick to it, the principle itself can be regarded as the true cause just as the force of gravity and not the opening of our hand was the true cause of the falling of the stone. The principles, moreover, are endowed, when we accept them, with power over us, and can therefore also be considered in the same way as we consider external forces. Thus the forms of external events are well fitted to give a definite form to these principles.

The development of principles is important because it transforms internal reality into something more external which can be preserved, remembered and surveyed. A principle tells us what we have to consider as useful or useless, as good or bad, as noble or mean, and so on. If we did not transform these opposites into a set of connections between different causes and their effects and derive a law from them—in short, if we did not develop the principle, we should remain entirely dependent on our individual experiencs and the feelings which they evoke; we should have to apply the basic internal opposites over and over again. The principle gives us a more or less complete picture of the valuation which such an attitude, or an aim chosen in accordance with it, implies; we need not wait for the actual experience, but can define, with the help of a few experiences, the value which any action will have in its relation to the principle. We can establish the whole scale of values, instead of remaining confined to the single opposites which apply to each separate experience. This will help us greatly in becoming conscious of the intrinsic knowledge of the values which we possess, and in our anticipation of the future which we need in order to have a full experience of the present. We gain a clear idea of what to expect and know how to relate the momentary impression or experience to the values which we want to make real.

To develop such scales of values is also important for another reason. Our experiences are rarely so extreme that we have to apply the basic opposition between good and evil or between similar positive and negative opposites; usually these opposites have to help us to recognize what is better or worse—that is, to recognize degrees. ('Decisions between right and wrong . . . are rare and become rarer if rightly decided. What is continous and what most determines the character is the absoluteness of the decision between higher and lower.' J. Oman, The Natural and the Supernatural, pp. 317-18.) The hierarchy of values of which we have spoken is, moreover, mainly built upon such differences of degrees. Each single degree of any scale has to be developed by using the opposites as such, but it is obvious that we have to fix them within a scale to be able to establish a correct relationship between the different degrees. Otherwise the actual experience would acquire a far higher significance that it has when we compare it with other experiences in retrospect.

There are certain difficulties involved in those principles which do not refer to our actions, but to their results or to things and facts; yet these difficulties show once more that we take the form of the principles from external events. This is the reason, for instance, why we encounter so many obstacles when trying to formulate aesthetic laws; we have to apply such concepts as cause and effect and thus to presuppose certain actions, but beauty need not be the result of action and can be embodied in something static which does not change. The problem is easier for the artist who wants to explain his methods, for this refers to actions, yet even here the laws usually remain unsatisfactory, because results of the same value can be achieved by different methods, and it is the value which matters. The same difficulty may also partially explain why it hardly seems possible to define truth, for again we cannot apply a principle to what is usually a static result, though truthfulness, as it refers to our behaviour, can easily become a principle.

However, this failure of certain principles also shows that we cannot remain satisfied with them. To grasp internal reality, we have to seize upon the unrepeatable; but the principles, like natural laws, are concerned with what can be repeated. (See Chapter 3, Section 2, paragraphs 6-11.) Principles, despite their undeniable importance, are too abstract; they alone cannot enable us to find the form which we need to express internal reality. We have already mentioned that they can cover different intentions and thus do not allow us to distinguish between them; we have just had to mention, too, that they save us from having always to apply the opposites anew, which is right so long as we are concerned with the principle itself or with anticipation, but wrong when it comes to the point where internal reality has to be made real. Nor can principles really be our own. This is not because we mostly take over principles which are generally accepted; for even if we do not create the principles, we can adapt them to our needs and convictions and develop them further. We have to do the same with most values. But we are bound to accept principles as abstract laws, and this severs their connection with our personal experience.

The danger of the generalizations which principles attempt can be seen in the fact that we can apply the opposite 'good' and 'bad' to almost any scale of values so long as that scale rests only on principles. Something is good because it is of advantage, or because it shows our good upbringing, and it is bad for the opposite reasons. Thus, however, these opposites mean nothing but different degrees of value, without referring to any special value, and lose their distinctive moral quality. They become an abstract opposition which can be used in all kinds of contexts. To make sure that we are applying internal opposites, we should be on our guard and always find out whether it is possible to say 'evil' instead of 'bad', or whether we actually need a quite different opposition. But principles influence us in the opposite direction.

This limitation of the principles is not, in fact, surprising, for we are not applying those constructive concepts which belong to internal reality. We are using such concepts as 'cause' and 'necessity', but these are concepts abstracted from internal reality and transferred to external reality; it is not surprising, therefore, that they prove to be purely abstract when we take them back into internal reality. They serve to make external reality accessible and so, with their help, we cannot adapt external elements to internal reality, but are in danger of making internal reality too much like external reality. The concept of necessity, for instance, is formed as the opposite of freedom, but the problem of freedom which opens the way towards internal reality cannot even be discussed with the help of these principles. It is true that they start from freedom by saying what we ought to do, but we have seen that this is only their presupposition which has to be taken for granted. Necessity reigns within the range of the principle itself.

The application of external constructive concepts explains the peculiar nature of the principles. Their great importance is due to the fact that, as we have seen, internal reality also consists of the processes going on within ourselves, of thinking, feeling and willing, and the principles, as they take their form from events, help us to transform these processes into clear actions which we can reliably anticipate and direct. As the principles refer to our actions, moreover, they can also be tested by these actions and thus give us a high degree of certainty. But they can neither explain the anticipation, nor can they alone make internal reality accessible. For this reality is embodied, not in the process, but in the result of our actions, and this cannot be judged by principles alone, but must also be considered as such. Like the first step, this second step is quite indispensable as a preparation; this time internal reality itself is transformed so that we can reliably approach it. But to be able to grasp it we must return to those constructive concepts which belong to this reality.

Instead of proceeding in this direction, however, we sometimes try to make up for the abstract nature of the principles by trying to construct ideals with their help, to show in concrete terms what the abstract principle implies. This attempt could easily be mistaken for the form which embodies internal reality, but we must beware of this mistake.

The word 'ideal' has, apart form some others, three special meanings which could be mixed up in this contest, and so we must first distinguish between them.

(1) We can draw, with the help of the principles, a picture of an ideal reality which would completely fulfil all their demands. We can try to construct an ideal state, an ideal society, a golden age, an ideal man.

(2) We sometimes talk of the ideal of the good or of beauty or of some other value. This means that we aim at the purest realization of the highest degree of the scale of values with which we are concerned. This meaning of the concept 'ideal' we shall dismiss altogether, because this attempt is better expressed by saying that we try to grasp and to make real the value as such, for it depends entirely on our understanding of the value whether or not such an ideal has any meaning at all. The 'ideal values' can also mean what we prefer to call the 'absolute values'. We prefer this term, because the first meaning of 'ideal' could suggest that these values do not belong to internal reality but to our imagination.

(3) We can make a personality, an historical or contemporary person, the embodiment of the ideal, seeing that he or she comes nearest to the complete fulfilment of our intentions, wishes and demands.

Here we are concerned with the first meaning. This kind of ideal can help to make details of the principles clearer, because it shows how they can be applied and where they lead. But it is not fundamentally different from the principles themselves; both remain abstract and cannot alone help us to grasp internal reality. The ideal must remain abstract too, because it endows certain external elements—society, man—with perfect qualities, and these, by their very perfection, can never occur in the imperfect reality which, owing to our limited abilities, we are bound to be or to create. The ideals, therefore, are helpful so long as we realize that they are merely a means of explaining abstractions; the ideal society cannot show us a possible real society, but it can help us to recognize what true human relationships mean. If we mistake ideals for external embodiments of internal reality, we only increase, as we shall see later, the dangers of the abstractions contained in the principles.

The difference between the ideals and the forms which make internal reality real can perhaps be most clearly seen when we compare the first and the third meaning of the concept. If we construct an 'ideal man', we shall soon discover that we cannot live up to this ideal, and if we still insist on trying to do so, we shall be forced to retire more and more from the world, to suppress the feelings which tell us that we are different, and to live in an abstract region where thought and imagination can replace all actual experience. If, on the other hand, we find our ideal embodied in a real man, and do not conceive him wrongly as an 'ideal man' but as the personality he really is, we shall have to try to understand him, to connect his deeds or works with his experiences and feelings, to be able to follow them with our own feeling and to translate them into the different experiences which we have in our own lives. We find internal reality embodied in a special form which expresses the content, and as our personality is different, we must try to discover the meaning of this form to be able to apply the knowledge we thus win. We shall be forced to approach internal reality.

This example shows once more that we have to include in internal reality external things or facts or events and to transform them by apprehending them from a different point of view. When trying to describe internal reality, we have seen again and again that the most important concepts for this purpose were the constructive concepts 'form' and 'content'. They alone can help us to make this transformation complete, and so their application represents the third main step in the application of the internal opposites.

The concepts 'form' and 'content' remain the same in both realities, but we have seen before that their meaning in external and internal reality is very different. (In the following we take up again the differences between the two realities which we have stated in Chapter 3, Section 2. For form and content see also Chapter 2, Section 3, paragraphs 11-21; and Section 4, paragraphs 17-25) In external reality, the content is something unknown and hidden towards which we try to advance, but always when we think that we have reached it, it seems to retire once more and we have only discovered another external form. As all these forms remain abstract, the mere idea of a content without any further substance is sufficient to enable us to grasp them. In internal reality, on the contrary, we know the content and it is, therefore, concrete and has a substance; we have to find the form which will make it intelligible, and this also changes the form thoroughly. It is no longer abstract; we are unable to apply it, as we do in external reality, to many different things and events; we need the unique form which brings out completely one special experience of the content. We have found the principles insufficient just because they remain abstract forms which can be applied on many different occasions.

The requirements of such a form can be seen when we remember that the same aim can spring from different intentions and that the same intentions can lead to different results. Thus we cannot consider them as the forms of our striving. What we need is a special deed in which intentions and aims, our motives and the results we achieve, are blended in such a way that they leave no ambiguity, so that the value, or the set of values, which determines our deed and which we want to make real becomes visible and recognizable. Every single detail of the form, the connection between our motives and their execution, between our deed and the circumstances, the feelings involved in our action and the choices we make—every single detail must refer to the content and help to make it unmistakably clear. The form must be created by the content and we must be able to see in all the single particulars that the external form is the expression of that which led to its creation. All genuine works of art, which perhaps most distinctly represent such a form, are necessarily unique.

The difference between external and internal forms and between their relationships with the content can also be seen from another point of view. If we get a few pieces of a broken stone, for instance, we are able to investigate certain qualities and to achieve results which apply to this kind of stone in general, but unless we find almost all the pieces we shall be unable to reconstruct the shape of the particular stone to which these pieces belonged. The situation is somewhat different with organisms; here the single parts say more about the whole to which they belong; but to reconstruct an unknown organism from its parts needs, again, a great number of them, and the reconstruction remains uncertain. The relationship between the parts and the whole is not quite definite. If we are confronted, however, with a form belonging to internal reality, with a deed, with a personality, a sudden insight can reveal to us the whole man, even if we know only a single reaction on a single occasion, or a single trait of his character. A few passages of a poem, a single sketch, a few remnants of an old civilization, may reveal to us a world which was previously hidden from us. The relationship between the parts and the whole is so definite that even a single part can disclose the whole; as the content is expressed in every detail of a unique form, each of the details can, by its uniqueness, disclose the content.

These three steps in the application of the internal opposites are, of course, only the main steps; we have seen before how many more different approaches and shades there are in the sphere of both ends and principles and in the transition from one to the other. This is also the case in the sphere of forms, and the consideration of some of these other steps may further help to give us a clear idea of the task of the constructive concepts in internal reality. There is, for instance, the transformation which the constructive concepts the One and the Many—again the same for both realities—undergo when applied to internal reality.

In external reality we try to eliminate the peculiarity of the single object or event and to make it an instance of many similar units, so as to be able to consider it as nothing but one unit among many of the same kind. We have to grasp the Many and therefore to reduce the One to abstractions which can be generally applied. Internal reality, on the contrary, can only be grasped if the experiences are our own, and we are confronted with the two facts—that we ourselves are unique persons and that our feelings which make the experiences our own cannot be repeated exactly. Thus the experience must have the character of a particular personality, and each experience, to create new feelings, must be in some ways new and unique. It is true that, as internal reality has an existence of its own, we must finally achieve a knowledge which is of general validity, but it is only when we give a unique form to our own experience and are obliged to understand those created by others that internal reality is brought into play and allows us to recognize the general validity of its special manifestation. Therefore, we have to isolate the One and to dissolve the Many into all its different components, so that the single unit can no longer be counted or discounted.

This explains, too, why we have to concentrate on the accidental as such when concerned with internal reality. When we eliminate it, we open the way for the establishment of external necessity which needs uniform units to lead to the general law valid for many instances. Freedom, however, belonging to internal reality, can only be grasped if the accidental, as an individual unit, transforms the external happening into our own fate.

All these necessities confirm once more that we have to establish a clear opposition between intentions and aims, for they also imply the transformation of the concept of time. We have seen that, in external reality, we try to build on the past and thus on what we reliably know; in the exact sciences time as such plays no essential part; as events can be repeated, we do not consider time as something which can never be made to regress and is irretrievably lost once it has gone; it remains an abstract and repeatable form, independent, as it were, of the real course of time. In internal reality, we have to start from the future, which we do by creating aims. But the aim, when we reach it, may have another meaning from the one we expected, and we have to confront it with our original intentions to see whether there is harmony or discrepancy. We have to pay attention to the special historical process which cannot be repeated, and thus to use intentions and aims in a constructive opposition which enables us to see this special historical development.

These examples may be sufficient to show that the transformation of the constructive concepts follows very definite lines, and this supports our claim that the fact that internal experiences have to be ours does not make internal reality subjective in the usual sense of the word. The transferring of concepts from one reality to the other, though in one case they are used as concepts and in the other only teach us what to do, establishes, in internal reality too, a secure basis for the application of opposites, and as this basis is independent of the conscious working of our minds, it forms a barrier against arbitrary thinking. We can, of course, disregard or falsify this basis, but if we recognize it, it shows us how to apply the opposites and indicates whether we did so correctly or not.

How far we have advanced towards solving the problems connectd with internal reality can be seen when we look back, in passing, on the problem of anticipation. This problem also crops up when we have to create the appropriate form, for to create it we must know what to express, and how can we know this when only its form makes it known to us? But this anticipation no longer looks as puzzling as it did, for if internal reality has an existence of its own and if we ourselves are the bearers of this reality, the process of forming brings out parts of the reality which are in existence within us. We recognize at once that we are giving form to something which has always been part of our being, and this makes us able to control the creation of the form. The possibility of anticipation, therefore, even confirms that internal reality is largely independent of ourselves, or we can anticipate something of which we are hardly conscious, and our activities, because they belong to internal reality, make it real even though our conscious aims may have been quite different. The 'double motives' make us conscious of the good while we want only to seek our own advantage, and we recognize it, even if we meet it for the first time, because it is inherent in our being. The principles, though they could not explain anticipation, must, in this case, be a sufficient help in transforming this reality in such a way that it can be formed, for they can be developed from slight indications.

Nevertheless, in spite of this narrowing down of the sphere of arbitrariness, it has not completely disappeared, but we can see now which is the fundamental question. We can perhaps isolate it best when we compare external qualities with values, their equivalent in internal reality.

These concepts do not belong to the constructive concepts; they are names which we give to certain elements of the two realities and cannot be further explained. But they are clearly equivalents; both make us apply scales of degrees and both represent the essential elements by which we get to know the two realities. Their difference, however, shows exactly the point which is at the root of the difficulty of making the knowledge of internal reality reliable.

We apprehend external qualities by isolating certain elements of a reality which is presented to us; we apply the opposites to something which exists outside ourselves and can be tested in many ways. External reality stands over agains us, so that thinking is opposed by something different to which it can be applied. Values, on the contrary, are based on judgments; they can also be applied to external reality, yet even then they do not refer to this reality as such, but to the activities of our minds. Thinking is only confronted with itself, for the feelings on which such judgments are based have to be translated into thought to make us conscious of a value. It is true that, in the end, as we have seen, we get down to the absolute values, but this does not fundamentally improve the situation. In a certain sense, these values also stand over against us, for we cannot alter them arbitrarily, but thinking is still confronted with itself, for they do not exist somewhere in space and time, but have to be established by our thinking. They are based on feelings, too, but this makes them very different from things we can see and touch, for though feeling is very definite and certain this time, it can affirm errors as absolutely as truth. While our knowledge of external reality seems firmly grounded in it, the absolute values seem to lack the necessary foundation; we obviously ought to base them on something more fundamental, but we cannot progress to further values or further internal opposites. The problem is how to test the absolute values; without such a test it seems impossible to make the knowledge of internal reality as reliable as that of external reality. The success of our investigation still depends on the solution of this problem.

But the comparison between qualities and values also increases our hope that there is a solution to it. In the last resort, the knowledge of both realities leads towards the absolute—that is, towards a direct experience of primary reality. In external reality we touch this sphere, as we have seen, where modern physics leaves the constructive concepts behind. But at this point our knowledge becomes entirely incomprehensible and meaningless and confirms that we cannot grasp the absolute in this way; we are confronted with numbers and mathematical formulae which can neither be translated into something which we could imagine nor convey any meaning whatever. (Max Planck describes the inexplicable elementary constant quantum of energy which he has discovered and which he thinks belongs to the absolute reality behind external reality as 'a new mysterious messenger from the real world' (Das Weltbild der neuen Physik, p.19). This application of a personal term to a figure called 'q' shows most conspicuously how meaningless is this kind of absolute.) In internal reality, we meet the absolute in the absolute values. These are certainly not so exact as mathematics, but they are full of meaning and able to give content to our lives—a content of a richness and fullness which no knowledge of external reality could ever convey. Is it probable, then, that the certainty which we experience with the help of these values should leave us in a complete void?

Before discussing this question, however, let us first see the distortions with which a wrong development of feeling threatens the application of internal opposites. This will further narrow down the scope of possible errors.

go to CHAPTER 8

go to: Chapter 8, "Right and Wrong Development of Feeling"

back to beginning of this Chapter