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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 489 pages of information about The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 05.
of experiment, to try what speculation can do—­assail him actively, carry his principles into life, and act as if he either did not exist, or as if he were a piece of rude matter, and he will soon forget the joke; he will become seriously angry with you, he will seriously reprove you for treating him so, and maintain that you ought not and must not do so to him; and, in this way, he will practically admit that you really possess the power of acting upon him, that he exists, that you exist, and that there exists a medium through which you act upon him; and that you have at least duties toward him.

Hence it is not the action of supposed objects without us, which exist for us only and for which we exist only in so far as we already know of them; just as little is it an empty fashioning, by means of our imagination and our thinking, whose products would appear to us as such, as empty pictures; it is not these, but the necessary faith in our liberty and our power, in our veritable action and in definite laws of human action, which serves as the foundation of all consciousness of a reality without us, a consciousness which is itself but a belief, since it rests on a belief, but one which follows necessarily from that belief.  We are compelled to assume that we act in general, and that we ought to act in a certain way; we are compelled to assume a certain sphere of such action—­this sphere being the truly and actually existing world as we find it.  And vice versa, this world is absolutely nothing but that sphere, and by no means extends beyond it.  The consciousness of the actual world proceeds from the necessity of action, and not the reverse—­i.e., the necessity of action from the consciousness of such a world.  The necessity is first not the consciousness; that is derived.  We do not act because we agnize, but we agnize because we are destined to act.  Practical reason is the root of all reason.  The laws of action for rational beings are immediately certain; their world is certain only because they are certain.  Were we to renounce the former, the world, and, with it, ourselves, we should sink into absolute nothing.  We raise ourselves out of this nothing, and sustain ourselves above this nothing, solely by means of our morality.

II

* * * * *

When I contemplate the world as it is, independently of any command, there manifests itself in my interior the wish, the longing, no! not a longing merely—­the absolute demand for a better world.  I cast a glance at the relations of men to one another and to Nature, at the weakness of their powers, at the strength of their appetites and passions.  It cries to me irresistibly from my innermost soul:  “Thus it cannot possibly be destined always to remain.  It must, O it must all become other and better!”

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