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Germany and the Next War eBook

Friedrich von Bernhardi
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 291 pages of information about Germany and the Next War.

[Footnote O:  Luther, “Whether soldiers can be in a state of salvation.”]

Thus in order to decide what paths German policy must take in order to further the interests of the German people, and what possibilities of war are involved, we must first try to estimate the problems of State and of civilization which are to be solved, and discover what political purposes correspond to these problems.

CHAPTER III

A BRIEF SURVEY OF GERMANY’S HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT

The life of the individual citizen is valuable only when it is consciously and actively employed for the attainment of great ends.  The same holds good of nations and States.  They are, as it were, personalities in the framework of collective humanity, infinitely various in their endowments and their characteristic qualities, capable of the most different achievements, and serving the most multifarious purposes in the great evolution of human existence.

Such a theory will not be accepted from the standpoint of the materialistic philosophy which prevails among wide circles of our nation to-day.

According to it, all that happens in the world is a necessary consequence of given conditions; free will is only necessity become conscious.  It denies the difference between the empiric and the intelligible Ego, which is the basis of the notion of moral freedom.

This philosophy cannot stand before scientific criticism.  It seems everywhere arbitrarily restricted by the narrow limits of the insufficient human intelligence.  The existence of the universe is opposed to the law of a sufficient cause; infinity and eternity are incomprehensible to our conceptions, which are confined to space and time.

The essential nature of force and volition remains inexplicable.  We recognize only a subjectively qualified phenomenon in the world; the impelling forces and the real nature of things are withdrawn from our understanding.  A systematic explanation of the universe is quite impossible from the human standpoint.  So much seems clear—­although no demonstrable certainty attaches to this theory—­that spiritual laws beyond the comprehension of us men govern the world according to a conscious plan of development in the revolving cycles of a perpetual change.  Even the gradual evolution of mankind seems ruled by a hidden moral law.  At any rate we recognize in the growing spread of civilization and common moral ideas a gradual progress towards purer and higher forms of life.

It is indeed impossible for us to prove design and purpose in every individual case, because our attitude to the universal whole is too limited and anomalous.  But within the limitations of our knowledge of things and of the inner necessity of events we can at least try to understand in broad outlines the ways of Providence, which we may also term the principles of development.  We shall thus obtain useful guidance for our further investigation and procedure.

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