The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 05 eBook

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.
sense of another world is also lost to us.  Everything of this sort floats by like words which are not addressed to us; like an ash-gray shadow without color or meaning, which we cannot by any end take hold of and retain.  Without the least interest, we let everything go as it is stated.  Or if ever a robuster zeal impels us to consider it seriously, we see clearly and can demonstrate that all those ideas are untenable, hollow visions, which a man of sense casts from him.  And, according to the premises from which we set out and which are taken from our own innermost experience, we are quite right, and are alike unanswerable and unteachable, so long as we remain what we are.  The excellent doctrines which are current among the people, fortified with special authority, concerning freedom, duty and eternal life, change themselves for us into grotesque fables, like those of Tartarus and the Elysian fields, although we do not disclose the true opinion of our hearts, because we think it more advisable to keep the people in outward decency by means of these images.  Or if we are less reflective, and ourselves fettered by the bands of authority, then we sink, ourselves, to the true plebeian level, by believing that which, so understood, would be foolish fable; and by finding, in those purely spiritual indications, nothing but the promise of a continuance, to all eternity, of the same miserable existence which we lead here below.

To say all in a word:  Only through a radical reformation of my will does a new light arise upon my being and destination.  Without this, however much I may reflect, and however distinguished my mental endowments, there is nothing but darkness in me and around me.  The reformation of the heart alone conducts to true wisdom.  So then, let my whole life be directed unrestrainedly toward this one end!

IV

My lawful will, simply as such, in and through itself, must have consequences, certain and without exception.  Every dutiful determination of my will, although no act should flow from it, must operate in another, to me incomprehensible, world; and, except this dutiful determination of the will, nothing can take effect in that world.  What do I suppose when I suppose this?  What do I take for granted?

Evidently, a law, a rule absolutely and without exception valid, according to which the dutiful will must have consequences.  Just as in the earthly world which environs me, I assume a law according to which this ball, when impelled by my hand with this given force, in this given direction, must necessarily move in such a direction, with a determinate measure of rapidity, perhaps impel another ball with this given degree of force by which the other ball moves on with a determinate rapidity; and so on indefinitely.  As in this case, with the mere direction and movement of my hand, I know and comprehend all the directions and movements which shall follow it, as certainly as if they were

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The German Classics of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Volume 05 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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