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Shall I refuse obedience to that inward voice? I will not do it. I will choose voluntarily the destination which the impulse imputes to me. And I will grasp, together with this determination, the thought of its reality and truth, and of the reality of all that it presupposes. I will hold to the viewpoint of natural thinking, which this impulse assigns to me, and renounce all those morbid speculations and refinements of the understanding which alone could make me doubt its truth. I understand thee now, sublime Spirit! I have found the organ with which I grasp this reality, and with it, probably, all other reality. Knowledge is not that organ. No knowledge can prove and demonstrate itself. Every knowledge presupposes a higher as its foundation, and this upward process has no end. It is Faith, that voluntary reposing in the view which naturally presents itself, because it is the only one by which we can fulfil our destination—this it is that first gives assent to knowledge, and exalts to certainty and conviction what might otherwise be mere illusion. It is not knowledge, but a determination of the will to let knowledge pass for valid. I hold fast, then, forever to this expression. It is not a mere difference of terms, but a real deep-grounded distinction, exercising a very important influence on my whole mental disposition. All my conviction is only faith, and is derived from a disposition of the mind, not from the understanding.
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There is only one point to which I have to direct incessantly all my thoughts: What I must do, and how I shall most effectually accomplish what is required of me. All my thinking must have reference to my doing—must be considered as means, however remote, to this end. Otherwise, it is an empty, aimless sport, a waste of time and power, and perversion of a noble faculty which was given me for a very different purpose.
I may hope, I may promise myself with certainty, that when I think after this manner, my thinking shall be attended with practical results. Nature, in which I am to act, is not a foreign being, created without regard to me, into which I can never penetrate. It is fashioned by the laws of my own thought, and must surely coincide with them. It must be everywhere transparent, cognizable, permeable to me, in its innermost recesses. Everywhere it expresses nothing but relations and references of myself to myself; and as certainly as I may hope to know myself, so certainly I may promise myself that I shall be able to explore it. Let me but seek what I have to seek, and I shall find. Let me but inquire whereof I have to inquire, and I shall receive answer.
[Illustration: JOHANN GOTTLIEB FICHTE]